Saturday, April 30, 2005
Just one small example of the crazy far-out culture that we have in this vibrant village is the new construction taking place on the Western end of the city. The world’s biggest and most expensive skate park is appearing before our eyes. Looking like a collection of moguls from a black diamond run after a week without grooming, or a set of standing waves in a high-school physics experiment. This fantastic construction also doubles at a rain diversion device for the passenger embarkation area of Spencer St Railway station. Read about it here and even watch a time lapse film of its assembly.
Melbourne's Giant Skate Park
But this is not just about the architecture. This is also about the music. The devotion of a handful of enthusiasts, who have spent their lives collecting and assembling the rarest of 45s and other vinyl, and who each week bring we Melbournians, and those of you with decent computer speakers, and a fast connection, the finest in soul, funk, jazz groove, latin and movie themes from the 60s and the 70s.
PBS FM is the place where they come together to spin their obsessions and spin you out with the sheer volume of fantastic, rarely heard time-capsules from Motown, Chicago, Muscle Shoals and Hollywood’s sound stages. The music is the music of America. The America we love. From an innocent but inspiring America, before Michael Jackson and George Bush, and all with NO ADS (almost), but it is collected, restored and re-transmitted right here in Melbourne, and now, it is in Melbourne where you can find some of the best of America.
Look up the following programs in the Program Guide and listen for yourself. Figure out when they play in your local time by using this, or just listen in now. You might get some hardcore or thrash, nothing’s perfect, but hang in there. You will be rewarded.
The Gospel Show
Malt Shop Hop
Now Dig This
Last week I heard the themes from Shaft, (and other Blaxploitation music) Ironside; Streets of San Francisco; The Sweeny; The New Saint; and Robert Plant and Led Zeppelin doing George of the Jungle to the tune of Whole Lotta Love with the intro riff of Black Dog as the lead break. All on one show, and I can’t remember which one. A magical moment, and they just keep on coming.
This has been a community service announcement on behalf of The City. Written and authorized by Rex.
From: The City
You must now be painfully aware of the coded insult, and the slight to your own standing within the Party, that occurred just yesterday, when the Prime Minister offered his views, that he’s going to stick with the job, with no end date in sight.
We share your hurt Peter, we understand your feelings of betrayal and humiliation, and we know that your instinct is to simply bite your tongue and do what’s good for the Party.
But the window of opportunity is fast closing. It is now or never Peter. What is more important after all, your own ambition, or subjugating your manifest destiny to some tricked up nonsense about the greater good.? Indeed, what does the Party itself stand for, if not for individual responsibility and reward for effort. Peter, don’t let the false God of collectivism, this notion of Party unity that they push in your face, blind you to the fact that you’ve almost done your dash, and it’s now or never mate.
History will not be kind to you Peter because unless you make your mark now, history will simply forget you. How would that bright young lawyer that triumphed over the unions in the Dollar Sweets case look upon the man he has become. He would see a man whose destiny has been thwarted, dare I say, a broken man. A man who takes his frustrations out on infertile couples, who becomes the perfect economic rationalist. All head, no balls.
Even if the baton is passed to you peacefully, the damage will still be done. How can you not but fail to live up to the oversized legend of your predecessor, as Eden failed to live up to the legend of Churchill, which eventually broke him? It will not be seen as a victory Peter, to win against Beazley. It will be expected. And you will receive no gratitude for doing so. You will be forever viewed as the supplicant unless you act now to seize the chalice. The only way to truly make your mark, to sear your name into the public’s memory, is to best the old bull. Peter, you must take on the Prime Minister. To avoid humiliation yourself, you must humiliate him. It is the immutable law of the alpha male that we’ve inherited from the jungle.
Paul Keating did it. He took on the old bull and won. His place in history is now assured. Despite being despised by many, he is also loved by many more. He is considered one of the greatest Prime Ministers. Not because of what he achieved in the role, but because he was a fighter, bowing to no man. His place in the pantheon of the Gods is assured.
Such a place is waiting for you Peter, but you must act now before the window closes and leaves you forever the bridesmaid and never the bride. And Peter, if you don’t act, you’d best not be showing your face around Melbourne town again. We don’t tolerate losers here.
Update: Tim Dunlop is of a similar view
Friday, April 29, 2005
The Last Stand
Fascinating recent developments in the formally moribund business of funeral arrangements have put Melbourne and Victoria once again at the cutting edge.
Yesterday planning minister Rob Hulls announced an experimental burial plot in the Western District where the lucky recipients of this new opportunity will be buried in a vertical position.
Apparently holes are drilled into the ground and then the frozen bodies placed into the hole before it is covered up. We assume that the bodies are placed feet first, and this lack of clarity is probably why some in the funeral industry are arguing that it's disrespectful of the dead.
Of course efficiency is what this is all about, and efficiency, no doubt, is what is on the minds of Palacom., the operators of the new cemetery. We’re hope therefore that they will be considering using one of these:
A tractor mounted pile driver with its own drill.
Combining innovative technology with funeral innovation is the way to go, and with a device like this. The hole can be drilled and the cadaver “pile-driven” into the earth, while the family looks on in awe and wonder and the beautiful efficiency of it all. Finally there will be no more need to linger embarrassingly by the grave side, shuffling your feet, while the soil is shovelled on so irritatingly slowly, knowing that there's a good sponge cake going begging and the tea is getting cold back at Aunties.
Victoria. As always. On the Move!
Thursday, April 28, 2005
Herald Sun HYPEocracy
In the grand tradition of the Big Splash Bracks Bash, that we’ve all grown to know and love, The Herald Sun, Australia’s most popular newspaper, has turned the sensationalist dial up to eleven and has been giving the tub a mighty thumpin’ in the past few days.
WITNESS the editorial of the 26th slamming the Bracks government’s decision to impose a tax on motorists. A Money Grubbing Policy they call it.
OBSERVE the editorial of the 27th accusing the government of stinginess when it comes to pensioners.
MARVEL at the beatup of the 28th where they say that a Labor Party committee has taken the wind from the sails of Wind Power, claiming they’ve got hold of some secret report, which apparently asks the question what the right level of investment in Wind Power should be, but The Herald Sun paints it as being some sort of slap in the face.
I put it to you that there’s a pogrom afoot, that The Herald Sun has determined that Bracks Bashing is the number one priority of all its journalists. That The Heralds Sun journalists are now required to find any angle in their stories, any angle at all that could possibly be beaten up into an Anti-Bracks tirade and give it the FULL Herald Sun treatment.
Of course that doesn’t stop The Herald Sun turning a blind eye when any of these millions supposedly being pillaged from a weak and fearful populace, are spent on their favourite subject: CRIME.
For the State government is going to put THE SQUEEZE on the crime lords with a forty million dollar budget increase.
The crime lords are going to SQUIRM with anxiety at the HI-TECH bugging devices and DOZENS of analysts, and RESEARCH, UPGRADES and IMPROVEMENTS that the Herald Sun BELIEVES might just, maybe, be in the forthcoming budget, but can’t confirm it because Police Minister Tim Holding REFUSES TO DISCUSS DETAILS.
Barely containing their excitement, and their use of capital letters, The Herald Sun completely go to town on this fantastic initiative that’ll cost the taxpayer $40 Million Squid.
Does that mean all is forgiven? Does that mean that they won’t let up on the Bracks bashing, on the assertion that the Motorists and the Pokie Players and the Poor are copping the big budget stick? Hell no! What’s the point in being consistent when there’s newspapers to flog?
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Jumpin' Jehosophat Hopping Mad
Jews for Jesus, a group of messianic Jews who have been trying to convert some of Melbourne’s Jewish community into accepting that Jesus was the messiah, have had their windows smashed, graffiti painted on their building, stickers plastered on doors and black silicone syringed into locks.
The group who has been concentrating its efforts among the high Jewish population of St. Kilda and Caulfield, claims that they are not just targeting Jews, but are making the Gospel known, but this has not gone down at all well in these close knit suburbs, with claims that it's “trying to undermine Judaism”.
Parliamentary Member for Melbourne Ports, Michael Danby, sometimes accused of being “The member for Israel”, is according to reports in the local press, said to have been highly derogatory and labeled this group a cult. This has been viewed as mighty offensive by the group’s leader Bob Mendelson.
Reports today that the group have been passing their ‘leads’ onto the local Anglican Church have raised accusations that it is being used as front for proselytizing Christianity. The local vicar Rev. Mark Durie is somewhat embarrassed by the whole kerfuffle and would rather just get back to tending to his declining flock.
Chairman of Jewish group the Anti-Defamation Commission, Paul Gardiner, has got stuck into both the local Anglican Church, St, Mary’s and also the Jews for Jesus group, who he claims indulge in “intellectual dishonesty that people could be both Jewish and Christian”.
This last fact must surely come as a surprise to Roman Catholic, Cardinal Lustiger. A candidate for the recently decided job of Pope.
Cardinal Lustiger of Paris, was born to a family of Polish Jews and his mother was murdered in Auschwitz. Cardinal Lustiger claims that although he converted to Cathlolicism, he was born a Jew and he continues to be a Jew. He is a”fulfilled Jew”. He says: "I feel Jewish. I refuse to renounce my roots, my Jewishness. How could I betray my mother's memory? It would be cowardly and humiliating."
There is a blurring of the lines here between Judaism and Christianity, and if Jews for Jesus want to push their barrow then they’ve got just as much right in this free land as the Pentecostalists or any other religious group, and Jewish leaders, if they’re confident in their faith and their people should have no concerns. There is no excuse for violence.
Also Jews like Michael Danby should be wary about labeling these things a cult just to satisfy the voters in his electorate, otherwise he might be asked to explain why the Roman Catholic Church, and Christianity as a whole is not also a cult. Exploring that path has not been pretty in the past, and remains today, a subject best left alone.
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
The stunted Gerard
There’s a fine line between wisdom and senility and Mr Henderson, whose been doing a laudable tightrope walk for the past few years is now demonstrating clear clinical signs of the latter.
In today’s stunted Gerard, Mr. Henderson savages the Whitlam government as though it was only yesterday. Today, Gerard takes issue with the Whitlam ALP view on the communists of Indochina, who were big news in the ‘60s and early ‘70s. The ones that eventually ended up in power in Vietnam and Cambodia. Remember them?
Fancy believing that those dreadful commies could possibly have been any good, lectures Gerard. Yet according to Gerard, the Whitlamites spun the lie that that they, the Commies, were knights in shining armour saving their people from something that is not important enough to remember. Or perhaps he just plain forgets.
It is Whitlam’s fault, and the fault of all those other ALP traitors like Cairns and Uren that Pol-Pot murdered millions. It’s Whitlam’s fault that Vietnam imprisoned 1 Million of their people.
Careful not to mention the war, thoroughly modern Gerard manages to remove his head from the vice-like grip of the time demons, brings the reader back to the present day, and reminds us that it is the Vietnamese refugees who, in coming to Australia, are pointing out the ongoing horror that is Indochinese communism.
Yes Mr. Henderson. The communists are coming. We know. Why don’t you let us deal with them and we’ll just tuck you into bed with a nice cup of tea and a Bex. There there. Good night Mr. Henderson.
Greetings. My name is the Republic of Nigeria. I am an extremely wealthy nation in Africa. I have led an honorable life, and I am a highly respected member of the community of nations. Recently because of some business dealings which are too complicated to explain in this email, I obtained access to vast amounts of money. Thirty-Three Billion Dollars US to be exact.
As you can imagine I am now burdened with an embarrassment of riches. This is creating unnecessary pressure, as the wife’s relatives, if they discover, will begin pestering me for loans from which to buy cattle and weapons.
I plan to dispose of this unnecessary money quickly, and will almost certainly donate it to charity.
You will understand that I cannot let the wife know of this transaction, as it will be seen as an insult to her tribe, and thus I seek your help in transferring this money quickly and quietly out of my Treasury. You will be amply rewarded for your kindness and troubles at a rate of 30 cents in the dollar.
Please email in response the following information: Name of your country; Full name of your Reserve Bank or Treasury; Account Number; Digitised signature of your Treasurer or Chancellor of the Exchequer or Finance Minister; Current Reserves.
I am most extremely grateful for kind patience and indulgence.
Your most fondest admirer and friend.
The Republic of Nigeria
Usually my 'helicopters' go anti-clockwise. This piece has a definite counter spin. An ideal antidote.
Sunday, April 24, 2005
Those old Anzacs must be proud of their progeny. Well probably not their progeny actually ‘cause most probably died before the thought of starting a family even crossed their minds. The progeny then of those that stayed behind, and probably aren’t even related, who have made the trip to the home of Johnny Turk. To spread the word that all is forgiven maaate, and that anyway it was all the fault of the Poms.
As the Anzac legend sets sail from the shores of the reality based community and into the mists of the dreamtime, we can gain comfort from the fact that the Aussie youth of today will remember and celebrate the dawn service at Anzac Cove, by including it on their binge itinery, and that it will soon be up there with other great Aussie milestones of life like being arrested D&D in Schoolies week, being arrested D&D New Years eve, kicked off the Australia to London flight, and doing drugs in Asia.
Thankyou you poor dear departed Anzacs. You fought for our freedom, and now we feel free to do what we bloody well please.
Friday, April 22, 2005
Now The Herald Sun claim that our man, let’s lets call him “Scoop”, has committed two crimes.
He forgot, temporarily, that the Police Minister was Tim Holding. Did you know that? Well you do now and I expect you to remember it. You’ll be tested later on.
If you didn’t know then I’ll forgive you, because Mr. Holding is new at the job. The Police Minster used to be Andre Haermeyer until quite recently. Mr. Haermeyer was well known to all because he was making such a botch of things. Mr. Holding on the other hand has just been quietly and competently getting on with the job, and keeping a low profile. So Scoop forgot his name for a few seconds. Is that a crime?
The other crime that Scoop committed, was using the term ‘the talent’ to refer to victims of crime. Okay a little insensitive perhaps, but hey, aren’t we all? Do you think that Generals never refer to soldiers as Grunts? Or airline staff refer to ‘Cattle-class”? Or Senior consultants to their juniors as ‘cannon fodder’?
No, this is a pointed little dig at my mate Scoop. And what’s Scoop’s problem? His problem is that he’s showing them up. He’s getting in people faces, making himself unpopular by pushing the boundaries. Scoop wants to push the limits of journalism in this city, and the cosy coterie that’s got the Police beat all sewn up doesn’t like it.
I say go for it Scoop. Keep up the good work. Give Police reporting the kick up the arse it needs, and it'll make a Bob Bottom of you yet.
Thursday, April 21, 2005
The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation and the truth
The matter died down somewhat until it was raised again more recently, with the visit of the Malaysian Prime Minister, and Malaysia indicated that if Australia didn’t sign, then it wouldn’t be invited to the next summit.
John Howard dismissed the idea saying:
"The treaty was delivered to the region by a mind-set that we've all really moved on from, I don't think it appropriate that Australia should sign."
More recently there’s been noises that Australia might very well sign, but Alexander Dower still implied that the Treaty’s words were unacceptable.
"We don't like the treaty as it currently stands but we are going to be talking to ASEAN about how this issue can be handled."
So what’s the big deal? What exactly is the problem with the treaty that we can’t sign it? Is it about John Howard’s personal pride as claimed by Kevin Rudd? It it about Australia’s desire to keep the pre-emptive strike option available as some have claimed?
According to a report in the Japan Times it’s about Australia’s relationship with the US.
By signing this treaty, we would be acceding to the rules of the South East Asian Nuclear Free Zone. The US does not like this zone, and to sign the treaty would put us in a difficult position with the US. We’re a major ally, relying on their nuclear umbrella and we’re not going to upset the applecart
However we are in a quandary because we set up a Pacific Nuclear Free Zone with New Zealand years ago, and it is politically impossible to argue to ASEAN that the Pacific should be nuclear free but S.E. Asia should not.
Fascinating isn’t it? And you thought Howard was just being churlish. It’s just as much of a problem for Labor also because they were the ones who created the Pacific Nuclear Free Zone.
The other amazing this is why have none of our local journalists analysed this story properly? Why have they swallowed the line that it’s an “old hat” treaty.
Journalists in Australia should be ashamed of themselves for letting this one go though to the keeper.
All aboard the Free Trade Train.
PM: Good Morning Fran.
Fran: Mr. Howard, You’ve had a series of meetings in China two days ago where you’ve obtained agreement to look into the merits of a free trade deal with that country, and just yesterday the Japanese have agreed, to agree, to consider evaluating the merits of a free trade deal also. Mr. Howard do you consider this trip’s been successful?
PM: Certainly Fran. The government’s objective is to create a free trade with the whole Asia Pacific region and these two countries are very big and important economies, and so it’s vital that they be part of this plan.
Fran: Some people, and I’m thinking of the opposition spokesman on trade Mr. Crean, have been critical of the government's tactics. They say that you’ve conceded too much up front, that you won’t have any bargaining power later on.
PM: I’m afraid that Mr. Crean has been out of government for so long that he’s not in touch with the realities of how business is being done these days.
Fran: Are his criticisms justified Mr. Howard?
PM: Look Fran. I don’t know whether you’ve been watching the TV news reports but these are Asian people. Inscrutable Orientals. It’s barely possible to tell them apart, let alone know what they’re thinking. And they’re very smart too. The fellow that I spent most of my time negotiating with from their side could speak two languages. They would spend minutes, in a huddle, conversing in their unintelligible language. Planning, scheming, before their polymath would speak on their behalf. It's designed to unnerve, and it goes on like this for hours Fran. It was a very difficult set of negotiations.
Fran: So are Mr. Crean’s criticisms justified?
PM: Things are done very differently these days Fran, compared with when Mr. Crean was in government. When you’re dealing with such clever, impossible to read people, you’ve got to think on your feet. You’ve got to introduce new and unfamiliar tactics that catch them off their guard. These days the Government’s preferred tactic is to make all the major concessions up front. We’ve found it wildly successful. It leaves them, quite literally flummoxed. It also gives us the advantage, because we can use the whole of the allotted time to hammer away at the things we want from them. It’s an incredibly efficient use of time and it’s the reason why we’ve been able to conduct so many free trade deals of late, with Singapore, Thailand, the US and so on.
Fran: So where to from here Mr. Howard?
PM: We’ve been thinking Fran, since this trip has been such a success and while we’re in the area, we’ll visit a few more countries and conclude a few more free trade deals in the region
Fran: So who’s next?
PM: We’re thinking Korea.
Fran: North or South?
PM: Whoever we can get a meeting with first.
Fran: And after that?
PM: Well I was looking at a map this morning, and I thought Hawaii.
Fran: But Hawaii is part of the United States Mr. Howard. We’ve already got a Free Trade Agreement with them.
PM: Well then we’ll renew our vows. The important thing Fran is that the Australian people know that we’re out here doing things for the benefit of Australia’s national interest.
Fran: Well good luck and thank you Mr. Howard, we’re out of time.
PM: Thank you Fran.
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Winter Fashion Shock.
I can't wait.
Pacific Hydro, Australia's largest renewable energy company with substantial wind farm investments here and hyro plants in South America, was going to be taken over by the Spanish.
However a white knight in the form of Garry Weaven, head of superannuation fund 'Industry Funds Management' is investing a bit of Australian's retirement saving into keeping hold of the farm. Weaven has launched a bid to trump the Spanish, and keep Pac Hydro in Aussie hands, despite the stupid indifference of the Howard government.
Good on you Garry. You get today's Rex in the City award for bravery and valour at the coalface.
China: Free Trade or Twee Fade?
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
British announce: We've got the best nosh
Called the Fat Duck, this ripper of a noshery serves, get this, sardine on toast sorbet and bacon and egg ice cream.
The Brit's beat Spain (2nd) and the US (3rd) with a restaurant in Sydney called Tetsuya's, which I've never head of coming forth.
Actually I haven't heard of numbers one, two or three either. Maybe I don't get out enough.
Melbourne just sqeaks in at a derisory 33, with the tired and worn out old Flower Drum.
What's happened to all the good restaurant's in town you may ask, and its a good question. There's certainly a whole lot of new resaurants. But on the whole they're bloody awful.
Take the Waterfront for example. One of 3 new hi-tech, chrome plated eateries on the foreshore in the new development near Station Pier. The Waterfront gets a Poor rating from the Age, and word has it that the other two restaurants are amazingly bad as well.
On top of that, this grub-shop has the gall to charge extra for bread, and to hit the diner with a 10% holiday surcharge. Apparently we're going to have to start getting use to this as well, because its starting to catch on.
The really stupid thing is that these restaurants are doing a booming trade. It's their position and their snazzy lines, that just reels the customers in.
So what's happening here? Melbourne resurants are getting worse, and they want to sting us more?
Don't accept it folks. Don't let these show-ponies ruin the good night out that we all expect in Melbourne town.
I'll doing my bit. I'll be staying at home and looking though mum's old recipes. I'm sure I remember bacon and eggs ice cream from the Margaret Fulton cookbook.
Mock Terror Horror Irony Shock
This group of deranged dramatists, who call themselves “pvi”, somehow take their customers into their confidence, a phenomenon known as the ‘Stockholm Syndrome’, and lead them on a nightmare bus tour of the less gentrified of Melbourne’s inner suburbs.
They’re apparently trying to make some point:
“We’ve grappled with the concept of fear as a method of social control, a mechanism that gets us to behave in certain ways,” says pvi member Kelli McCluskey.
It is claimed they commence their tour from a dark Collingwood street, whereupon they are sucked into a bizarre parallel world that mingles tour-guide kitsch with military recruitment tactics, multimedia hoodoo and a dash of paranoia.
Fear, they claim, makes people pliable. Well I can tell you, I’m shit scared. But I’m no-ones bunny. I’m scared of these moronic manipulators of Melbourne’s emotional state.
We’re barely holding it together as it is as the moment, without these deranged deviants, these art-school arseholes, stoking the fires of panic.
I cite as evidence Andrew Bolt’s incisive observation relating to the recent panic at Melbourne Airport, where so many people were hospitalised for a mysterious and sudden illness. Mr Bolt correctly diagnosed mass hysteria. He lays the cause of this phenomenon at the feet of the greenies. But it goes much further than that I’m afraid. It is the artists as well. But most of all it is the children.
Children you see have been terrorising the teachers in our schools, as reported in yesterdays Herald Sun (Australia’s most popular newspaper). No-one though ever reports what’s happening in the home. These Terror-Tubbies return from school, not to be greeted with milk and cookies as in the past, but to be greeted by their parents, hiding behind a barricade of chairs in the living room while their children continue their rampage at home.
It’s no wonder that we adults are feeling fragile, under the continuing bombardment of horrific news that The Heralds Sun brings us daily, and the insanity that is going on in the home front, we don’t need the added pressure of some group of cynical sandgropers putting doubts in our mind, questioning our fundamental beliefs.
After all. The only thing we have to feel is fear itself.
Monday, April 18, 2005
Ordinary Melbournians #2
Introducing Tilly Gilltrap
What do you do for a living Tilly?:
“I’m a lawyer for a prestigious Melbourne corporate law firm.”
Impressive. Doing your Articles? :
“No much more important than that.”
Yes? Pray tell!:
You know on the TV news, when there’s a big case featuring a high profile businessmen, and you see the businessman’s team of distinguished grey haired layers. QCs, Case Manager, and so on following him into court.
Well there’s always a gorgeous young twenty something woman in the frame, wearing heels and an LBD and clutching a bunch of important looking files to her bosom. …..….That’s my job.
Fantastic. What do you do in your free time Tilly?:
I mix in the right social circles.
So you sleep around?:
I call it Networking.
And your okay with the skimpy underwear shots designed to improve our circulation?:
Yeah Sure. I’m hoping this exposure will get me noticed by one of the quality tabloids. That’ll boost my profile in corporate law, and I should then have my pick of any of the senior partners in the big five. After that maybe a column for the Australian, and then, who knows. The board of the ABC?
So ladies and gentlemen. A lovely girl, with a difficult job. But as you can see the drive and the determination so see it done properly. It’s people like Tilly that we take our hats off to, and celebrate their mighty contribution that makes Melbourne, the world’s most liveable city.
Sunday, April 17, 2005
Friday, April 15, 2005
No more lies. I promise : Howard
After today’s shock announcement by the PM, where he recants on an election promise not to slash the Medicare Safety Net, and which Age columnist Michelle Grattan described as “treating the voters with total disdain”, the PM has gone out of his way to assure the Australian public it won’t happen again.
“Look, I didn’t want to lie”, said the Prime Minister, “but we sat around the Cabinet table, Mr Abbott and Mr Costello and the rest, and we felt it would be, all things considered, better if we did”
When asked to explain in an interview with a report on the ABC he went on, “What we are concerned about is the Australian National interest. Now at the time we made the promise. The iron-clad guarantee, we were coming up to an election, and it was in Australia’s national interest that we won that election. Therefore we made the difficult decision to simply lie to the Australian people”
When pressed on this point Mr Howard became a little agitated raising his voice. “Look Fran, It happens all the time. We’ve lied to the Australian people before on security matters. The Australian people know this. They know we do it in their best interest. They know that we can’t be telegraphing our moves publicly to the terrorists, and so they expect us to lie to them for their own good”
Fran: “and that justifies lying in this case Mr Howard?”
PM : “This is also a matter of security. The security of the Government’s majority. The Australian people understand this. The chardonnay elite can complain, and they will, but the Australian people understand the truth of what I’m saying”
Fran: “ So do you intend to lie to the people again in the future?”
PM: . “Listen. It’s most offensive of you to suggest that because we lied in the past, that we’ll be lying again. I can give the Australian people this assurance that we won’t”
Fran: “Be lying again?”
Fran: “Mr Howard will you rule out lying again to the Australian people”
PM: “Fran I give this iron clad undertaking to the Australian people that subject to unknowable vicissitudes in the government’s interpretation of what constitutes Australia’s National Interest, and the obvious desirability of ensuring that no commitments are open ended, and therefore open to abuse by other parties who do not share our commitment to Australia’s National interest, I give that clear undertaking yes”
Fran: Thank Prime Minister. We’re out of time”
PM: Thankyou Fran.
Thursday, April 14, 2005
The tram approached. Its one of those new space-age trams. Brushed aluminium trimming, Bang & Olufsen sound system. Quite uncomfortable, but very stylish nonetheless. I was lucky. I was near the front of the group waiting to board, and the tram pulled up close to where I was standing. An older lady got aboard before me, blocking the aisle with her agonizingly slow gait. Fortunately she was a little unsteady on her feet and she lurched to the left to maintain her balance. I saw my opportunity and elbowed her out of the way, scoring the only available seat. As the man said. The lord helps those who help themselves.
The commuters in the adjoining seats cast envious glances my way as I shook off the umbrella and made myself as comfortable as one can amongst a crowd of public transport users.
I was in the process of examining the cleavage of the woman directly opposite when I felt wetness being applied to my right buttock. A few seconds after the initial shock, and the dreadful thought that there might have been a bathroom malfunction, I realized that this was an external source, clearly having seeped through both the Armani and the Calvin Kliens. The seat was wet. Not just wet though. Saturated. The envious glances still continued when I felt a cold drip run down my neck. I was sure that my hair was dry, and that this drip had not detached itself from a sodden lock. This drip had come from elsewhere. Then another landed on my trousers, and then several cascaded down as the tram accelerated rapidly. I was now certain that this Million Dollar tram, the very image of Melbourne, had a leak in the roof.
I thought perhaps I should do the gentlemanly thing and offer the seat to the old lady, but she was now too far away. What should I do? What would you do in a situation like this? Just vacate the seat that you’d invested so much emotional energy in securing? Admit defeat?
I could see now that the envious glances from my neighbors were in fact a kind of inner gloating. Schadenfreude. How had I misread their body language so? They must have been thinking that all along: “I wonder if this guy’s going to sit under the drip, I wonder what he’ll do?” A mixture of detached indifference at the plight of others, and a fascination at how they’ll bear up, is what some people get up to in their heads. The polite thing to do of course, would have been to inform me prior to sitting down, but that’s something that this society is losing. Politeness.
So what I did was smile nicely at them. They were all looking at me of course. Either in the reflection of the window, or over the top of their magazines. I smiled, took my umbrella and opened it directly above my head. The droplets now, instead of cascading onto me, hit the curved surface of the umbrella, and shattered. Sending a fine spray over the whole area, but mostly running off into the lap of the fat lady next to me.
She launched into a vicious earbashing, which I thought was very unbecoming for an otherwise elegantly dressed middle aged woman (black), but I smiled politely and ignored her tirade and it eventually petered out. She gathered her things and left.
Of course now her dry seat was available, I shifted on over, folded the umbrella, and sat back and enjoyed the sensation of my now thoroughly soaked right buttock being dried by the combined effect of the nicely pre-warmed seat and the capillary action of the dry seat fabric extracting the moisture from the worsted.
The remainder of the ride was idyllic. Watching the black besuited population of Melbourne scurrying to their offices, and then so too I. On the job, to report to you the latest doings in the world's most livable city.
My right buttock? Now almost dry. And thankyou for asking.
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Health of Health System under threat.
The Health system is a beautiful thing. Australians love it. They vote for politicians who’ll protect and nurture it, and woe betide anyone who wants to fiddle with it too much. Witness Mark Latham. Our politicians know this and so anything that poses a threat to it, like old people, well they just have to go.
Why he just singles out the old folk though is beyond me. By far the biggest threat to the Health System is the sick. It’s a statistically proven fact. It is that government tolerates these losers, these bludgers on the system, that is at the real heart of the problem. Go ask any right wing think tank. They’ll confirm this.
Private Health Insurance is of course the solution. This culture of illness that we’ve allowed to fester for so long will be rendered germ free by the application of the searing blowtorch of free enterprise.
Sick people will be so busily engaged comparing and contrasting the relative value of the myriad of different policies on offer, discussing them excitedly amongst themselves, participating, that they won’t have time for sickness. It’s called the health dividend of the free market, and I can prove it works, and so can Andrew Bolt.
If we want our Health System to remain in tip-top shape then we’ve got to act now before the malevolent armies of the ill, who are already laying siege to it, leave it a smoking ruin.
Mr. Costello is on the right track though. Singling out the aged first. The old principle of divide and conquer. After that the sick, then the poor, until finally we achieve the pure essence of the Australian Health System. Fully contained in 3 lever-arch ring binders of double spaced A4 pages, sitting proudly on the bookshelf in the Treasurer’s office. Amen.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Ordinary Melbournians #1
This isn’t about politicians. It isn’t about power or celebrity. It’s about the average Joe, or Jodie. Someone that we at The City feel just isn’t given enough attention. Not enough acknowledgment of the humble but important role that they play in the affairs of this, the world’s most liveable city.
Introducing Lisa Spiggot
What do you do Lisa?: “I’ve got a boring job. I make sandwiches at a deli in the city. I used to want to be a Air Hostess, but when I applied at Ansett a few years back, they weren’t interested. I tried calling them again just last week, but I couldn’t even find their number in the phone book. I think they changed it so that I wouldn’t hassle them again”
Where do you live?: “ I live at home with Mum in Montmorency. She’s got shockin’ arthritis, but she’s a real trooper. I take her to bingo at the Church every Friday.
What do you do in your free time?: “I watch TV. I love shows like the X-Factor and Big Brother and Daryl Somers' new show.
Do you have a message for our leaders?: “No Not really”
Do you mind dressing in skimpy underwear in order to increase circulation of The City?: “ I thought you said I had to”
No but we strongly implied it: “Oh”
So there you have it dear readers. The first in our regular series on the lives of ordinary Melbournians. Their views, their passions, their fascinating stories.
Monday, April 11, 2005
The worry is though, that crime is on the decrease. According to Victoria Police statistics from 2002/2003 to 2003/2004 crime dropped 7.3%. That’s a scary statistic in anyone’s language. We’re heading into uncharted territory folks, and unless things start looking up, I’ll be in the first plane to Bogotá.
That’s why we here at The City can’t understand the irresponsible position taken by The Herald Sun, Australia’s most popular newspaper.
The Herald Sun in a stunning display of tactical incompetence has blown the whistle on the secret plans to fix the problem. Today’s headlines scream “Jail break: one in four criminals set free” , and then they add to this error by editorializing about our revolving door justice system.
Now boys. If you’d been listening to the old timer hacks when you were under their tutelage, sinking pots at the Duke of Wellington, you’d `a known that you can’t just go and stuff it up for everyone else. Your big headline now, might attract a bit of short term benefit. Might create an upward blip on your declining readership figures, but you're forgetting about the longer term strategy you dunderheads.
Just like the rest of us, you need crime up, not down. And by pointing this out you’ve blown the gig. How are we going to get the crime stats going in the right direction, and increase your own readership figures, if you interfere in this way? Crime sells papers. Write it out a hundred times. Get it into your thick skulls or I’ll tell Rupert on ya.
Think next time!
Going for the Big One
That’s because as Australia’s Favourite Newspaper the Herald Sun reports, Premier Bracks has announced that he wants to see Melbourne as Australia’s largest city.
Ever since plans to have the worlds tallest building constructed in the reclaimed Docklands Area were scrapped, Melbourne has been looking around for a new record to break, and now its been settled. We’re going to first go for the National Titles, and then who knows after that? Maybe the Southern Hemisphere, and then the World.
Even going for the Southern Hemisphere record presents we Melbournians with a challenge. With cities like Buenos Aires (11,928,400) , São Paulo (10,260,100) and Jakarta (8,987,800) among the world top ten most populous cities, the Southern Hemisphere claim is not the usual empty record. It’s a serious stretch goal, and I urge all Melbournians to get on board with this exciting challenge.
We’ve got a lot of work to do, but!
With our population currently only running at 3,203,088, even if we took the entire Australian migration intake of 120,000 per year, It’d take us 48 years to catch up to our closest rival, Jakarta. 48 years? Who can wait that long in this era of instant push-button satisfaction? If we’re going to do this we need to get serious. We need to start planning now.
Future Prime Minister Bill Shorten, has a solution of sorts. He says we need to increase the migrant intake to 250,000. Now, Bill, I don’t know if you did maths at school, but that still only brings us into title contention with São Paulo in 35 years. You’re going to have to show a little more imagination than that if you want my vote fella!
Mumbai: Worlds best practice transport
We need to have a Minister for Overpopulation. We need start now with the study tours to the centres of World Best Practice. Shanghai and Mumbai. We need to go to these places and see how they do it. We need to take a look at their Transport Infrastructure and Housing Infrastructure and discard these ridiculous Melbourne 2030 notions that try to constrain our growth with Green Belts.
We've got the support of great Australians in this including Mr. Murdoch, Mr. Packer and Mr. Harvey of Harvey-Norman fame, so start subdividing my friends. Think. Do you really need that back yard? Consider purchasing a new double-decker sofa. Ask yourself if you and your family can squeeze into one bedroom and offer the others up to our new friends like Mr Bracks has done.
Mr. Bracks in his living room
C’mon Melbourne. Think Big.
Sunday, April 10, 2005
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t object, I just find it rather amazing that somebody, who I barely thought about at all, who I believed was the figurehead of a waning power, who’s edicts on birth control seemed to be ignored by most Catholics I know, and who’s proclamations of the Iraq war were resolutely ignored, received such a grand send-off.
I once discussed religious leaders with a Jewish colleague. We were talking about Islam, and how that there is no nominated leader, so therefore any old mullah with a nutty idea, can legitimately wage jihad. He then asked me who I thought was the “leader” of Christians. I said “well I suppose the Pope”. He said. “No. I don’t think so. The leader of the Christians, in my view is George Bush”. And I guess for someone looking from outside the religion, or from outside the West, he's right.
You’d have noticed that President Bush is the very first US President to attend a Pope lying in state. This is an understandable and respectful act of homage, and it reinforces the view now being put around that he was one of the greatest Popes. But it also, reinforces the President’s own religious standing. I think in some undefined way the perception for other faiths, that the US President is the leader of the Christians will only now be reinforced.
The relationship between this Pope and the presidency goes back to Reagan’s days, when it is said that together they brought down communism. No doubt this is a overstatement and a simplification, but the perception of the two Wizards of Christendom bringing the Godless Communists to their knees is already written into the History books.
George Negus had a fascinating take on this Pope. In an interview with Cardinal Pell, he referred to the Pope as schizoid (at it appeared to him)
GEORGE NEGUS: As an outsider to the Catholic Church, it appears to someone like
myself that there were almost two Pope John Paul II's. There was this man who
was incredibly conservative on social issues, domestic church issues - like
celibacy, like abortion, like birth control, like marriage, married priests,
like AIDS, like homosexuality, that was one Pope John Paul II. The other Pope
John Paul II was this man who was very aggressive on the international stage.
He's opposed the war in Iraq. He's said that the pre-emptive strikes are not
morally justifiable, etc. He's spoken out against the Third World debt. He's
campaigned against racism and world poverty. So there were - he was almost a
schizoid figure and I use that term advisedly.
George of course is viewing the Popes beliefs through the prism of the standard Left-Right divide. Cardinal Pell’s response was:
No, no, not at all. He was a typically Catholic figure. As a Catholic, we don't
judge things in the categories of many people who don't belong to our tradition
or don't have any faith
Fair call I have to say, and this explains to me the alignment with the Bush Fundamentalist doctrine of some matters, but the divergence on others.
I suspect I disagree with the Roman Catholic Church’s view on many matters, but mostly I disagree with them on their apparent need to stick their bib into other peoples lives, and cast moral judgements on powerless individuals who are often the victims of circumstance, but this does not compare with the “bib-sticking” that the Bush Fundamentalists are now attempting.
I’ll take the ‘Schizoid’ Pope as the leader of Christendom any day over the ‘Crazoid’ President now in the Whitehouse. At least the Pope was half right!
The Interesting question for me though is this: Does all of this attention of the Pope’s death signify an increase in religiosity? Does it suggest the tide of secularism is turning, or is it just such a great media event. Is there just too much spectacle, ritual and emotion for our global media not to make the most of?
Thursday, April 07, 2005
Vote for Keating
Get over there and make a difference!
This shows the flows of electricity between SA, Vic, NSW and QLD.
Most of the time, NSW is buying electricity from QLD, and SA gets a little bit extra from Victoria. The dials on the left and right show the current and maximum levels (blue needle = current, white = maximum)
What's really intersting is the graphs below those dials. Just scroll down. We are just eating up more and more energy.
It makes this announcement from the Victorian government very timely.
Slip sliding away
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
Round 3: States v Feds
You see, ever since that time, there’s been some administrative loose ends that simply haven’t been tidied up. They’re called The States. You may have heard of them: Victoria, Tasmania, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia. There, I think that’s the lot of them. Let me know if there’s any that I missed.
Anyway, these States, or Quasi Independent Supervisory Layers Interfering in National Government (QUISLINGs) as they are known in Canberra have finally passed their use by date according to our inside sources.
It’s an attack on Federalism and its being waged with your Tax dollar. The Federal Government is using your money to beat the States into submission, to unravel the intricate and complex laws that has kept us mostly fighting amongst ourselves for this last Century and helped therefore, to keep us out of harms way in the global War on Whatever.
It’s an attack on our right as Victorians to sneer at the other States. It’s an attack on their right to repeat that hackneyed epithet, over an over, especially in Queensland. “Mexicans”, and its an attack on the right of West Australian to invent all sorts creative and disparaging terms about those of us in the Eastern States, and for us neither to care, nor remember them.
First round in the war was Costello’s announcement that he’ll be pulling the funds rug out from underneath the States. Then last week, the States in a superb riposte, hit back with their Carbon Trading Plan. Today in a rapid counter-counter-attack, the Feds have announced they’ll be cutting the States out of the Health game. No doubt with the longer term intention of clawing back the money through illness outsourcing.
I for one can’t abide MY TAX DOLLARS being spent in such a biased and unrepresentative way. Especially when they’re being spent to dismantle an institution that I’ve spent MY TAX DOLLARS setting up, and not only does it offend my wallet. It offends my sense of History too.
Do you think our peacock plumed Governors who signed the Charter in 1901 would today be expecting to play second fiddle to a small suburban solicitor? Do you think that the brave souls who served in Victoria’s Colonial Defence Force, in the Victorian Mounted Rifles or Victorian Rangers. Aboard line-of-battle ship HMVS Nelson, aboard the celebrated HMVS Cerebus, would have just peacefully demobilised if they’d known that 104 years later, their patriotic endeavors would be held in contempt by a government slavering with power lust?
I think not dear reader, and neither should you. Vive la difference!
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
The Electronic Whore
It was satisfying indeed to see Sydney Morning Herald journalist Paul Sheehan get a walloping at the hands of Media Watch last night.
For those who missed it Sheehan a few years back did a Good Weekend piece on the properties of some Miracle Water, that had supposed remarkable curative effects. The story was picked up by A Current Affair who gave Paul Sheenan a big rap.
“The article's author, journalist Paul Sheehan, isn't the type to pedal a miracle cure, but he's proof that something curious is happening when this Unique Water — as it is marketed — is consumed.”
So if Paul Sheehan says it. It must be true.
The Media Watch crew discovered that another SMH writer Ben Hills was getting ready to publish an article debunking the water, and therefore potentially embarrassing Sheehan, but the article’s publication has been held up. Delayed, so that Sheehan can get a word in first, before he gets painted in a bad light: Allowing Sheehan to publish a spoiler.
It is telling that Sheehan. The Author of The Electronic Whorehouse a book deeply critical of the supposedly partisan views of left leaning journalists, particularly in his own Fairfax stable, is now needing Fairfax to cover for him. To stop him looking a fool.
I wasted my money some years back on a copy of Sheehan’s book. I expected to get an insight into how the media promoted the positions of the power elite. Instead we got a standard join-the-dots criticism of all the left-of-centre journalists, that we’ve heard a million times before. There was no attempt at balance. No mention of Albrectson, Ackerman, Bolt , but big swipes at Marr and Ramsay and so on.
Sheehan positions himself as a deep thinker, but he’s standing in the shallow end with his super-soaker telling all the other kids to stop splashing. He sees him self as above the fray but he’s not above shoddy, shonky and biased behaviour.
A nice line of Max Such’s sums it up.
That's right Mr Sheehan. Leave the ill-informed opinion to those of us best under-qualified to give it.
“In fact the noise of all these opinions, including Sheehan's, may be the reason there is growing disillusion among readers with the quality press and an increasing reliance on the internet for alternative information sources”
Monday, April 04, 2005
No it’s not that the game’s too commercial. It’s that it doesn’t have any Cheerleaders. Apart from a brief flirtation with gratuitous fluff in the 80’s, the AFL has litteraly dropped the ball on the “nubile chicks bouncing around with very short skirts” front.
No my friends I have signed my allegiance over to Rugby League. The only code in Australia focusing on the full entertainment package.
A recent survey confirms my opinion: Tammy, Tiffany and Shaun all acknowledge that the best thing about Rugby League is the cheerleaders. Now if that is all that Rugby League has going for it, and yet it still draws a respectable crowd, imagine the pulling power that AFL would have if they would only put the girls on the pedestal where they belong.
So you can imagine my horror, when I hear that the one form of American Cultural Imperialism that I’m dying to see swamp us, is going to be turned off at the source. It seems that in America, the birthplace of the cheerleader, in fact in George Bush’s Texas, they're trying to clamp down on the cheerleaders and their delightful antics.
Representative (read Repressive) Al. Edwards has introduced a bill aimed squarely at the cheerleaders overly suggestive lunges and inside-hitch pyramids. “It's just too sexually oriented, you know, the way they're shaking their behinds and going on, breaking it down” said Mr Edwards.
Well, duh, isn’t that the point?
Fear of Cheerleaders, joins fear of Terrorism and Fear of Big Government among America’s top worries, while the new fundamentalism of the Republican right is determined to export all the bad things about America and kill off all the bits that we love.
I hope the Cheerleaders win this one. Certainly I’ll be rooting for them.
Friday, April 01, 2005
Feeling Crook? Fancy a trip to India?
Yes, following on from their success at stealing the jobs of the Western World's IT workers, now they want to take our sick as well. (We presume they send them back)
Its called Medical Tourism and you’ll be able to “combine your medical treatment with a beachside getaway”, provided Mr. Abbott is happy to throw in the holiday as part of the deal, and doesn’t want to keep the frequent flyer points for himself.
Now “while quality remains an issue”, it is “increasingly likely that Indian health care will be close to global standards in the coming years”, and so what better time to take advantage of a new Industry that by getting in on the ground floor (provided its been scrubbed beforehand).
No doubt the next step for these savvy Indian businessman will simply charter an aircraft and fit it out with the latest in surgical equipment, so that your new hip can be in and fitted by the time you land in Bombay, ready to spend your hard Western currency on a romantic visit to the Taj Mahal.
You may ask though, how can a country such as India afford to give you the very best in treatment when it only spends $80 per capita on health, and it has received hundreds of millions of dollars from bodies such as the World Bank and the International Development Fund to address basic health problems such as AIDS, Leprosy and Blindness.
The answer my friends is sheer selflessness and self-sacrifice. These poor bedraggled people are standing to one side and letting you in ahead of them.
It's a touching example of human kindness.
Half ALP Membership Fake!
About 100 members protested at the ALP HQ in King St last night at the rampant rorting and corruption that is making a mockery of one of Australia's most important political insitutions.
The ALP claim to be upholders of democracy, but this is worse that Zimbabwe where analysts reckon that the rigging is 800,000 out of 5.3 million. A rig factor of 15%, compared to the claimed 50% in the Vic ALP.
Well at least we can be certain that these fake members are not dead. Or can we?