28 May 2008

Mid-Week Points


  • To those who would criticise Kevin Rudd for being "out of touch" by having a butler, I say - come on. You mean to tell me that if you were in the same situation, you'd forgo the butler to be "one of the people"?

  • Camden Council has unanimously rejected a proposal to build a Muslim school in the area, keeping their semi-rural tranquility safe for little racists. They say that the decision had nothing to do with it being a Muslim school. Of course it didn't. One parent was pictured on the news saying, "My kids can't read and write Islamic, how are they going to go to that school?" Nevermind, I'm sure they write and read Australian real good.

  • Apparently, artist Bill Henson is so disturbed by the controversy over his cancelled exhibition, friends are worried he may give up photography entirely. That would be a shame...except when you consider, it would mean he'd no longer be asking pubescent girls to strip for him. That could only be a good thing.

  • Whilst we're on the subject of being grateful, let's all appreciate the fact that no one has yet made the joke "Nick Darcy can still go to the Olympics - in boxing!"

    Oh dear, too late.
  • 26 May 2008

    This Art Attack


    It amazes me that in all the varied opinions I've heard on the nude child photos, no one has actually mentioned the real point here.

    One's opinion on the issue has become almost a shorthand for your cultural views. Think the photos are art? You have a highly developed aesthetic, you're in favour of freedom of speech, you're generally an open-minded individual. If on the other hand, you think the photos are exploitative kiddy porn, then you're a philistine, right-wing wowser.

    Both wrong. Look, I can see that the photos are art. But that does not make them okay. "Art" should not be able to supersede the general rules of right and wrong. Otherwise, where do we draw the line? Photos of people being killed?

    Children need to be protected. And those who now want to view/defend the photos are exploiting these children, in the name of free speech, every bit as much as those sickos who get dirty thrills from them. Bill Henson has exploited them; not sexually, but for art itself. And "artistic purposes" should be removed as a legal defence in these cases.

    The death threats are wrong, too. Eighteen month sentences for the artist and gallery owner; 200 hours community service for those who viewed the initial exhibition and didn't complain. A lifetime ban from the publishing industry for all those who hypocritically published the photos later, with those coy black bars.

    But, as with my answer to the smoking in pubs controversy (why not just have smoking and non-smoking pubs?) no one will pay attention to what is so demonstrably obvious here.

    Edit: I was wrong, a little reading has shown there are others who share my views. This blog post probably says it best.

    Astonishingly, the Age still has one of the original, uncensored images on it's site. No, I'm not posting the link. But I have to admit, apart from finding the whole thing sad, there was one thought that occurred to me looking at the photo:

    It's just not that good.

    22 May 2008

    We Won! We Won!



    Well, of course I mean Manchester United have won the Champions League. It had nothing to do with me. Then again, maybe there was divine intervention in Moscow on behalf of a woman on the other side of the planet, clad in pyjama pants and a Man Utd shirt, wrapped in a blanket, racked with nausea and praying with white-knuckled fervour. God, of course, works in mysterious ways.

    Although I set my alarm for 4:30am, in time for kickoff, I half-planned to sleep in a while longer. But after being tormented by dreams of a bizaare 12-3 Chelsea-United scoreline, I got up to watch just to relieve my misery. I'm not going to provide a match report here; there are many better ones out there, written by people who didn't view the match in pre-dawn bleariness. I wasn't persuaded or concerned by the respective goals from each side; I'd seen it all before, in 1999, and somehow felt the last minutes would be crucial. And was more prescient than I could have known.

    Full-time came and went, and the score was locked at 1-1. So it continued through extra time. We were going to penalties (and as it was getting on past 7am, I was worried about being late for work). It wasn't supposed to be like this. My calm countenance prevailed, mostly (I think part of me had even given up), until the regulation penalties had been taken and we were locked at 4 apiece.

    So then it was up to Giggs to take the sudden death penalty. Back in 1999, I was familiar with the whole United team; thanks to fan magazines, I knew a little something, like favourite film or most admired player, about each player. But now, apart from Giggs and Scholes, they're all mostly unkown to me. So for Giggs, after coming on as a late substitute, to take this penalty had a wonderful circularity to it. I rocked backwards and forwards, buried my face in a pillow, and screeched like an animal as he powered it home.

    Then there was Anelka, for Chelsea, oddly enough another of the players I'm familiar with, from his days at the Gunners. I barely saw him lob it straight at Van der Sar, who deflected it. It was all over, and we'd won.

    It took a while to sink in, as these things often do for me. But if this omen proves true, things should be on the up for me soon. For now though, I've a day at work to snooze through. The say elite sports involves sacrifice, and it's true; because the game ran so late, I didn't have time to put on make up this morning. That, combined with the early start, means I've showed up at the office looking like Alexander Downer. If my life is about to get much better, it won't be because I'll meet my soulmate today.

    20 May 2008

    Ever The Optimist


    Have you ever developed a vague notion that you'd dig around and find an item you hadn't seen for a while, been unable to immediately locate it, and then suddenly finding the thing becomes the most important thing on Earth?

    That's what happened to me Sunday night when I couldn't find my Manchester United home replica shirt.

    Man U are, of course, playing in the Champions League final on Thursday morning (Sydney time). And once I thought about it, I knew I had to watch the match wearing that shirt.

    Last time Manchester United won the Champions League was May 26, 1999 (and no, I didn't have to look that date up). At the time, my life was not going so well. In fact, it was bloody awful. Then Ole Gunnar Solskjær scored the winning goal seconds from full time, and suddenly, my life completely turned around, ushering in a golden period I look back on as one of my happiest times.

    And I watched the match in my Man U shirt.


    Now it's 2008, and things haven't been going too well this year either. But if you're a superstitious person, as I am, then the parallels are too hard to ignore. It's nine years on, and nine is my lucky number. Man U will win, and my life will dramatically improve...as long as I watch the game in my Man U shirt. No wonder I had to find it.

    I'll let you know how it goes.

    16 May 2008

    The World Keeps On Turning


    It's been a very busy week. Natural disasters, budgetary dilemmas, social controversies - but enough about me. I've been working ten hour days, so I'll try to distill this weeks' missed posting opportunities into a creamy, info-rich singularity for you.

    So I'll be yet another blogger crapping on about Labor's first budget. There was nothing for people like me in there. There never is anything for people like me. At least we can stop providing baby bonuses for those earning over $150,000 a year (shut your whingeing, you lot, you want kids, you pay for them). Wilson Tuckey provided the soundbite of the week as he lameted the loss of the baby bonus for high income earners, saying "I've been in the racing business for many, many years and we tend to look at the high achievers as those who should have foals". Eugenics isn't dead.

    Last night, Brendan Nelson delivered the Opposition's Budget reply - and can I just say, watching the telecast with the sound off whilst listening to "Flaunt It" by TV Rock led a whole new flavour to the proceedings. According to Dr Nelson, the tax on alcopops is the most important monetary issue facing the nation; at least, that was the first thing he mentioned. Could this be a political leader with a tune I can dance to?

    Tragedy contiues to strike the planet. It's hard not to compare the responses of the respective governments to the Chinese earthquake and Burmese cyclone. The Chinese government's response has been immediate, massive and open, whilst the Burmese military junta not only takes no action of their own and refuses to let foreign aid workers enter the country, they're also suspected of hoarding such aid as does arrive - to the extent that Australian charities report people are reluctant to donate money for cyclone victims, for fear it will end up in the hands of officials.

    Closer to home, and possibly more sickening, Corey Worthington is being paid $10,000 for every day he's in the Big Brother house. There is, quite simply, no God. But I'll continue to fight for justice in the world, by slaying people who dawdle on busy footpaths, people who wait till they get to the front of the queue to sort their money out, and everyone who believes Alan Jones.

    13 May 2008

    If You Lived In Sydney, You'd Wish You Were Back Home Right Now


    What a very disconcerting city this is sometimes - you only have to turn to the news to see how.

    Whether it's parties attended by guests of "Corey Worthington appearance" (to quote directly from the Daily Telegraph's article on a balcony fall at said party), mobile confession booths to be set up around town during World Youth Day, the leading Conservative radio host, telling his listeners its their job to maintain his accuracy, or the counter-terrorism squad dropping into a suburban library to say "Hi!"... things can be a bit screwy here somertimes.

    But my main point today is, what are we to make of the disaster waiting to happen that is Town Hall station, as in this opinion piece from the SMH?

    I'm not just talking abou the hideous green and yellow tiles, the rats, the wooden escalators, the rusting safety barriers and the smell (what on Earth must foreign visitors think of a prime transport link in Australia's biggest, most important city?). According to Railcorp itself, "the station [is] a serious danger to the public" due to its lack of exits and overcrowding (and, presumably, those wooden escalators). I travel though the station twice a day, use the platforms a few times a week, and the thought of what would happen if there was a major disaster down there has darkly crossed my mind on more than a few occasions. Town Hall station could actually be one of the greatest dangers to the Australian public at the moment. And what is the response from our illustrious state goverment?

    Anyway, I've taken my mind off that lately by re-reading the S.C.U.M. Manifesta. It doesn't actually have anything to do with Sydney, apart from describing the men who live here, but it does make me feel much better.

    09 May 2008

    So Now Who Do We Laugh At?


    This blog has been rather quiet lately. I've been busy. And I've been lazy. It takes effort and intelligence to write thoughtful, informative posts about the issues of the day. My fallback position has always been to rant about politics. But now that the Howard government is gone, there's nothing to laugh or rant at anymore.

    Whatever else I'll say about the Howard government, it was a rich source of humour and creativity. I was discussing this with Chas* the other evening. As he said, "Who are we supposed to make fun of now - Joel Fitzgibbon? No one even knows who that is!"

    It's easy to be funny when you're angry. Sure, we can make jokes about Rudd's smug nerdiness, but it's not quite the same. The same thing happens in America - can there be a deeper vein of humour to tap than Bush? (And I use the word "deep" advisedly). What will happen if Obama wins the election? Once the euphoria dies down, will John Stewart be, eventually, out of a job?

    * Chas Licciardello. Yes, I drop names.