Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Dear Mr Rudd, You're Making Me Hate You


First it was alcopops, now this. The Rudd government is threatening to raise the tax on beer and wine...by 300%. Hearing this, I was so shocked and outraged I almost dropped the bottle. Thankfully I didn't, because I haven't vaccuumed in a few days, which makes sucking Chardonnay out of the carpet rather unpleasant.

But this isn't about reducing binge drinking - the government has factored the increased tax revenue from alcopops into the budget, so they're not counting on a reduction in consumption. The whole thing is, as the head of the Australian Hotels Association says, "an outrage against working men and women". (A class cursed by work, and it's nice to hear an adult twist on the ever-ready phrase "working families".) Apparently they are going to tackle the problem with a "shock advertising campaign" - I look forward to the appearance on our TV screens of the Grim Wowser.

The Howard government did many heinous things. But they never tried to take my alcohol away. The current government should watch out: I will turn to illegal drugs instead, quit my job (and quit paying the crippling taxes they think I owe as an unmarried childless reasonable income earner) and start voting Green, and then where will you be.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Not Again...Surely?


What do you get if you take a racist grandmother, an Aboriginal woman, a man who believes in UFOs, a dwarf and a jockey?

Either a really bad joke, or this year's Big Brother house. It's hard to tell from here if there's a difference.

We were promised the housemates would be different this year, and they are - now they're dumb and ugly. The producers seem to be going too far in their attempt to create "diversity". Not that the housemates weren't diverse before - there would be a hairdresser from Melbourne, a hairdresser from Sydney, and a hairdresser from the Gold Coast. But if you're going to watch ignorant people talk crap, they may as well be good looking. Otherwise I could just talk to myself, and where's the fun in that?

Last year was the first time I didn't watch the show, due to the sheer tedium of the house, and the fact that there wasn't a single housemate I liked, apart from Zac - and by the time he arrived, I was too far gone. But I'll watch a little this year to start with, if only to satisfy my curiousity. For example, how is having a midget - sorry, little person - going to work during Friday Night Games? Could we possibly see the first appearance on Australian TV of dwarf tossing? (That might just be my evil little fantasy).

~~~~~

In other news, Health Minister Nicola Roxon has blamed the Howard government for the high rate of binge drinking amongst young people.

So do I, although not for the same reasons.

Friday, April 18, 2008

It's Not Green Being Easy


Sense is prevailing on the issue of banning of plastic bags, at least for now. Australian environmental ministers have agreed not to introduce a national ban on the things.

As someone who at least tries to be environmentally friendly, one may think I'd be all in favour of a ban, viewing plastic bags as a scourge on the environment. Well, yes they can be. But...I don't drive a car. The idea that supermarkets try to promote to increase "green bag" usage is that people will leave their bags in the car, so they're always conveniently available. If you don't drive, what are you supposed to do - carry half a dozen green bags everywhere you go in case you buy something?

A slogan one of the major supermarket chains uses is "Green bags aren't green if you leave them in the car!". I'd submit that, I'm sorry, but green bags aren't green if you're driving a car. Sure, they may make one feel better, but the damage done by plastic bags is dwarfed by the damage done by cars. I've been "tut-tutted" by fellow shoppers at checkouts for requesting bags, and I usually enquire as to the person's mode of transport to the shop. It always works, though admittedly it worked better in Newcastle than Sydney's inner west.

Anyway, I reuse bags as bin liners, and to take care of various substances that are a by-product of cat ownership. Were it not for supermarket bags, I'd have to buy these bags seperatley.

And what about the enormous amount of packaging that's on, well, absolutely everything these days? Have you bought a bottle of water and tried to open the thing lately? How about the hypocrisy of the supermarkets promoting plastic bags when 1. giving out fewer bags will save them money, and 2. they offer fuel discounts?

Sorry, I'm getting way too worked up. I'm going for a lie-down, but before I do, please don't take plastic bags away unless you're serious about doing it for the right reasons.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Back To The Future


Well, John Howard has finally broken his silence, speaking at a Liberal party fundraiser to the bedraggled faithful about the world as he sees it. It was stange seeing him back on TV at first, like catching up with an old friend then quickly remembering why you cut them off in the first place. I actually felt a little nostalgic for the first few seconds, but two minutes later Xander had to hold me back from hurling my steel-capped Docs through the TV.

So what did "the John" have to say for himself? It was all there - the exhortations to keep strong in Opposition, the reflections on past achievement, and of course, a hefty swipe at the Rudd government. Hmm. In criticising the Government the Australian people favoured over his so overwhelmingly, isn't Howard insulting us..?

Anyway, although Howard promised "I will do everything I can, in a quiet way, to help you", he failed to directly endorse Brendan Nelson as leader, saying instead his role would be limited to giving discreet advice. If I were Brendan Nelson, I wouldn't worry - not about this, anyway. Surely taking advice from John Howard now is like taking advice from Bryan Robson following the 1996-1997 football season (which I did, accounting for my poor showing in the HSC a few months later)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Torching Tibet


There are many voices condeming the Olympic Torch relay protestors for not respecting the spirit of the games. There aren't many observers condeming China for doing the same thing.

Maybe that's because China does embody the ideals of the Olympic movement. As said in yesterday's Crikey:
"The idea that prior Western Olympics have been held by virtuous nations is laughable. The modern competition was invented by Baron de wossname as a way of inculcating the military virtues he thought French youth needed in the wake of the nation's 1870 defeat at the hands of Prussia, and most of the modern pageantry was invented by Hitler in '36."

Anyway, the athletes aren't happy. Former marathon winner Paula Radcliffe has released a statement condeming the protests, saying that the Olympic ideals are bigger than Beijing. Well, surely the fate of the people of Tibet is more important than a few silly races?

At least Radcliffe has put some thought into it. Many athletes haven't, as witnessed by the stream of young sportspeople trailing across the television news saying they "just want to compete". How many of them actually have a clue what's going on?

Australia has never missed an Olympics before. Should we go to this one? I hold with the Head of Human Rights Watch, in their open letter to heads of government, regarding conditions that should be met before attendance is guaranteed. But with our Sinophile Prime Minister and dependence on Chinese trade, I won't hold my breath.

Maybe some good will come of all this, if China is shamed into action on Tibet. Shame hasn't worked on the U.S., but you never know.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Six Word Memoir


I don't normally post much personal stuff here, but I liked Quiet Paws' Six Word Memoir post so much, I just had to do one for myself.


Left alone naked by the water


I could explain what I mean here...but I think I'll let it speak for itself.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Glad of the Diversion


There are two types of people in Australia - those who say they watch Gladiators, and those who are lying.

Even the first time it was on, I could appreciate the sheer, joyful mindlessness of the thing. What could be better than watching grown adults with silly names, clad in lycra, whacking each other with giant bits of foam rubber and pretending to take the whole thing seriously? And this time around, it's even better, allowing for nostalgia since nothing has changed about the show. (If only they'd bring back Man Oh Man).

The thing is, I've always secretly fancied the idea of being a Gladiator. Once you've regained your composure after falling off your chair laughing, the idea isn't as far fetched as it might sound. For a start, everything on the Gladiators set is padded, which is more, regretfully, than you can say for the real world. There could be a sort of "Gladiators Lite" for the wet, weak and weedy, like me. The challenges could be based around modern difficulties for pasty chubby office workers...first to learn to cut corners using a new database, most pints drunk at lunctime, most tourists elbowed on the way out of the train. (Actually the challengers could pretend to be the tourists on the train). Rather than a little lycra bikini, I'd wear a tracksuit with a torn knee and beer stains. And I could have a tough Gladiator name...Stapler.

I'm off to practice my poses for the promotional posters in the mirror.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Have You Scene This?


"Children today are tyrants. They contradict their parents, gobble their food, and tyrannize their teachers."
Socrates (469 BC - 399 BC)


There's nothing exactly new in thinking the younger generation is inferior to yours. But from here, it's hard not to be shocked and appalled by what the next, even worse generation is up to. and it was in a state of mild horror that I read this article from the SMH, about the newest subculture - scene kids.

It's not the scene kids look itself that alarms me. Kids should be able to dress how they want; looking back at photos of youself at 15 and being amazed you ever looked like that is part of life. I'm maybe even a little jealous; growing up in the era of flannelette shirts and tencel jeans there were no opportunities to dress up and show off like that, and I actually would have loved to.

Surely though, culture is accelerating too darn fast for anything to make an impact anymore. Having been, at least nominally, a goth for many years, once I understood what emos were I learnt to be wary of them. But already emo is passe. The article quotes 17 year old emos as if they were somehow "elder statespeople" on the issue, able to impart their hard-gotten wisdom. When your subculture is dated by the time you're seventeen, something is wrong. Kids need to grow out of their silly fads in their own time, not be left behind because of them.

The documentary Growing Up Online made the point that the rise of the internet has caused the greatest generation gap since the start of the rock and roll age. (Certainly greated than the generation gap we knew - our parents complaining that Nirvana were just trying to be Led Zeppelin). Kids have somewhere to go to just be themselves, and while they can find people to share any problem they may have, they also feel the need to be someone else. Cultures and trends rise and fall faster than was ever possible before, sweeping along everyone involved along with them. There used to be "overnight senstations" - now we have whole overnight lives as people reinvent their personas. But with this lack of permanence comes a lack of importance.

The kids don't know any of this, of course. The think that what is now is what is absolute, and that's what''s making so many of them insufferable little twerps.

"You are young, my son, and, as the years go by, time will change and even reverse many of your present opinions. Refrain therefore awhile from setting yourself up as a judge of the highest matters."
Plato (427 BC - 347 BC)