Monday, September 29, 2008

How Turnbull Bulleted Brendan

Brendan Nelson may have been an idiot, but as opposition leader he was a mostly harmless idiot. And he was our idiot. The peoples' idiot. He put on his show, and we enjoyed it, most of the time. Brendan Nelson was fun as opposition leader.

Malcolm Turnbull is no fun.

No fun at all.

And he killed Brendan. The bastard. Paul Sheehan follows the blood stains :

...a picture of political bastardry, animosity and aggression. I now understand why Dr Brendan Nelson took what at the time appeared to be a dangerous and illogical decision to open up his leadership position to a vote less than 10 months after becoming his party's leader. He couldn't take the pressure any more. And the pressure was unrelenting.

Turnbull carved a big X on Brendan's forehead, the very first day of Brendan's reign :

Turnbull walked up to Nelson and gave him a negative review of his first performance as leader. Soon after, unable to contain himself, Turnbull walked into Nelson's office and dressed him down in front of his wife and staff. Nelson was stunned. So were his staff.

Now that's downright nasty, and no accident. Turnbull wanted to shatter Brendan, he wanted to fuck with his mind.

The denigration soon spread. Turnbull told a member of Nelson's staff that his boss was "hopeless". He told journalists the same thing. It became common knowledge in the press gallery that Turnbull's attitude toward Nelson was dismissive and corrosive, a corrosion which built up the pressure and ate into Nelson's credibility in the press gallery as his opinion polling numbers floundered.

Turnbull holds very good, very grand parties to which he invites his friendly media. And they love him for it.

The state of chaos that was the Liberal Party for most of this year has subsided, somewhat, with the completion of Turnbull's all but unprecedented four year rise to the top of conservative politics in Australia. Well, liberal-Green-Conservative politics. Turnbull's invention.

What the fuck do they stand for now, anyway? Turnbull wants to bail out the banks, and the front bench wears its newfound greenism unconvincingly, uncomfortably. They champion The Greens years long demands for increases to the pension, and more investment in new, alternative energy. Nobody in the Liberal Party wails about how awesome the Iraq War has turned out for everyone involved, including all those dead Iraqis, like Alexander Downer did. Now the free market is viciously mauling the poor yet again, with far more bloodshed to come, everyone wants to be a socialist.

Sheehan :

As of now the Liberal Party is not a political movement or a political philosophy but, apart from a band of idealists, a collective of opportunists masquerading as a cause. The deeper you go, the less you find.

The reason why the media, particularly the ABC, keep boring us with stories about Peter Costello still eyeballing the leadership of the Liberal Party is because he actually is, and a very anti-Brendan-like campaign of undermining Turnbull has begun. Costello expects Turnbull to crash and burn. He will piss on the flames and take over.

Forever the optimist.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Dark Reality Of Kokoda's Heroes

A new generation of film-makers discover there is so much more to the horror of Australians fighting in New Guinea during World War Two than they ever could have imagined :

Structured around candid interviews with saddened Australian veterans, this beguiling piece of filmmaking by two young director-producers, Stig Schnell and Shaun Gibbons, also speaks publicly for the first time with still-shocked Japanese warriors. With a production team made up of both nationalities, Beyond Kokoda provides a deeply personal account of the thoughts, feelings and experiences of those directly involved in the awful battle that lasted from July 1942 to February 1943.

Of course, the film revives the simmering debate over whether the Kokoda campaign was not just a decisive Australian victory but one that delivered Australia from Japanese encirclement and possible occupation.

"This film doesn't attack the national character; we just want to raise questions about what we have been told about Kokoda," Schnell says. "So many books are about beating Australian nationalistic drums, and the jingoism takes us away from what really happened."

...Schnell says he and Gibbons wanted to strategically pinpoint the corrosive and increasingly pervasive Kokoda myths, not only the notion that the Japanese were poised to sweep into Australia but also the feel-good mythology of the so-called "fuzzy-wuzzy angels", who helped transport Australian wounded.

"No one has told us before that they were principally indentured labour, slaves really," Schnell says.

They were also occasionally executed to set an example to the rest, not to help the Japanese, not to refuse orders and not to steal.

In this documentary, the veterans from both sides sadly distinguish the Kokoda experience as a campaign of exceptional savagery. Few prisoners were taken; most were shot. War conventions were routinely flouted by both sides. The troops were reduced to a primal level, such were the inhuman conditions in which the battle was waged and the impossible expectations made on soldiers of both sides at the front line. "Bombs, mortars, screaming, yelling, swearing, bayonets; you name it, it was there," says the dapper sergeant Joe Dawson, one of the most articulate subjects, a strong man who wears compassion for his enemy easily on a tired face. "It was a shocking state of affairs; the fellows were going down like flies."

The physical torture, the mental assault, endured by both the Australians and Japanese soldiers in New Guinea - and many of them were children, really, late teens, early 20s, who had never traveled more than a few dozen miles from home before they went to war - is unimaginable, incomprehensible to us today.

The documentary discussed above, ' Beyond Kokoda' is screening on cable and digital, but I'd imagine it will be on DVD by Christmas :

Kokoda was a living hell torment shared by the Japanesel :

Heres' Kokoda veteran Graham Palmer, at The Australians At War Film Archive, telling a story of simple humanity amongst the madness :
"I have seen blokes crying with fatigue. They had to drag themselves up the side of a mountain, and sliding, and scared of being left behind, and being isolated, it's very frightening country...

"...we were trying to drag ourselves up the side of a mountainside, he was a big strong bloke, and I had my rifle, and I wasn't going to make it. He didn't say a word to me, he just reached over, and took my rifle, and put it on his other shoulder....He did not say a word...and that got me to the top."

20-Somethings All Fkd Up On Drugs And Booze....

Well, A Few Are

By Darryl Mason

Studies that show young people are blasting themselves out of reality on drugs and booze should never be trivialised. Then again, it is traditional for tabloid media to take statistics and turn what could actually be good news, positive news, into another 'Young People Today Are Anti-Social Drug Pigs' set of headlines and community decaying charicatures.

When the stats actually reveal that most Australian 20-somethings are not actually fukk'd n' bombd out of their minds, tabloids must apply the word 'underclass', and load up the intro :

An underclass of young Australians is battling depression, booze, drugs, and poor health, according to a landmark study.

One in five Australians in their mid-20s has a serious mental or physical health problem.

Twice as many suffer depression or anxiety, take illegal drugs, or engage in risky, anti-social behaviour.

What the decades-long, landmark study, the Australian Temperament Project, actually reveals is far more interesting than that guff. But the good stuff, that is the positive news, is dumped beyond the headlines and the first few paragraphs, where most people do not read :

"(They seem) to be an industrious, engaged group of young people..."

About 80 per cent had jobs, 20 per cent were studying, half of them worked 39-50 hours a week and another 10 per cent worked more than 50 hours a week. And 60 per cent were involved in a committed relationship with a partner.

Spin the 'underclass' stats another way, and you get this :

5 out of 6 23-24 year olds do not suffer depression or anxiety.

5 out of 6 do not engage in anti-social behaviour.

5 out of 6 do not use cannabis, or any illegal drugs, and do not binge drink regularly.

4 out of 5 do not have any long-term mental or physical health problems.

Consuming toxic quantities of booze, however, remains a problem. They hit their mid-20s, they drink more, and more often. Then again, isn't 3 or 4 drinks regarded by health officials as a 'binge' now? But as with cannabis, Es, speed and acid, most of them will likely decrease their drinking as they get bored with it, in their late-20s, and tire of hanging in nightclubs and pubs most weekends, when clear-headed work and love and hibernation Saturday nights become more desireable, along with healthier bank balances.

If the worst that can truly be said of a reasonably small number of 23-24 year olds is that they drink too much, then they're not doing too badly after all.

They may not be marrying and having kids at the rate that Baby Boomers did, but they are not soaking up anywhere near the same quantities of drugs and alcohol. More of them have jobs, more of them are working longer hours, and far less of them are dying on the roads.

Plus, more importantly, the mid-20ers are nowhere near as isolated from their families as Boomers were in the 1970s. Look at this remarkable stat, shamefully buried at the bottom of the story :

...94 per cent of young people said their relationship with their parents was important to them.

The best news of all.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Turnbull : Buckets Or Spliffs?

Malcolm Turnbull has joined a long list of once blaze-crazed state and federal politicians who have openly admitted to guffing the gungun.

"Yes, I have smoked have pot," he said...

"I think most well not most, many people have, it was a mistake to do so."

He says it was a long time ago and he would not have done it if he knew the risks at the time.

He didn't explain what the risks were. His experiences with the Assassin Of Youth certainly didn't seem to have harmed his career. It's a shame that we still live in a hypocritical tabloid media land where Turnbull would be unable to explain what he believes some of the benefits of using cannabis were, along with the risks.

So we know Turnbull once danced with rainy day women. But for a deeper insight into his personality, we need to know whether he was a purist or a hashnflash man. Did he bang down buckets or suck on fatties? Did he punch billy, or spark up a few Phillies Blunts? Was his usage confined to single schlooks or did he go chronic for weekend wastelands?

(above slang definitions here, if needed)

It'd be interesting to know Turnbull's opinion on medical marijuana, an issue of growing popularity in his Sydney electorate, in particular. Baby Boomers with arthritis, and there will be hundreds of thousands of them, will want their weed, without the risks of prosecution.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

They're Both Birds, With Footballs

I was wrong. Maybe the new opposition leader, Malcolm "John Howard Broke This Nation's Heart" Turnbull, will be as hilariously gaffey as the already missed Brendan Nelson was.

He's already showing lots of potential :

On Radio National on Tuesday morning, Malcolm Turnbull was asked the simple question of who he supported in the AFL: “I have to confess I vote for, I support, in Australian Rules the Roosters, who of course aren’t in the grand final - sorry the Swans.”

Could Turnbull be any more thrown off guard by an unexpected question? Labor has just found a gaping chink in his armour.

Battling to recover his composure, Turnbull hastily added, “And the Roosters in Sydney in rugby league which are, of course, the Eastern Suburbs Rugby League Club which is right next door to my (Bondi Junction electorate) office in fact.’’
As Jack The Insider calmly reminds the oppo leader, the Swans are based in his electorate.

If Labor are smart, they will never let Turnbull forget this.

If they're smart, they will find a way to bring this up in Question Time answers, and in Lateline anecdotes, every few months, for years to come. It's pure dynamite, and reminds all politicians, particularly leaders, that if you don't follow a sport, or any sport, never pretend that you do. The real fans will instantly that you are full of shit.
Sure It Doesn't

I know these have been kicking around in e-mails for years, but I think they're excellent and I wish there was a whole collection, instead of just two :

Who made these originally? Anyone know? They deserve a credit. Why don't we have a real tourism campaign that takes these ideas and runs riot with them? That blows apart the tired old cliches, however true some may still be, about Australia?

The re-appearance of these images on Digg and other blogs have unleashed some vile, rabid anti-Orstrahyanism. Witness :
I’ve traveled all over the world, 5 different continents, and I can honestly say that Aussies are the only people that are dumber than Americans.
Now that hurts. A lot.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Costello : I Am Immortal

Peter Costello finally confirmed tonight, on Lateline, what so many of his adoring colleagues always suspected. Death does not know his name.

Costello : "I'm 50 years old. I'm not going to die."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Hotel That Ran A Country

Veteran ABC foreign correspondent Mark Corcoren delves into the "secret life" of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad (excerpts) :

For me all roads once led to the Marriott, in Islamabad, capital of Pakistan. For six years the hotel was like a second home - as I worked on assignments in Pakistan or stopped off in transit on my way back to Australia from the madness of neighbouring Afghanistan.

Architecturally, the hotel building was unremarkable, 1970s vintage. But location is everything, and the Marriott was minutes away from the National Assembly, the Prime Minister's residence, Government bureaucracy and the headquarters of Pakistan's all-powerful spy agency, the ISI.

What made this hotel special for the privileged few was the commodity being traded day and night in the foyer, cafes and restaurant: information.

Information, as they say, is power, and in Pakistan, power is a life and death struggle.

The Marriott, as American diplomats and spies were fond of saying, was "the real deal".

Hollywood may have created "Rick's Café" of Casablanca fame - a fictional world of intrigue - but the characters who inhabited the Marriott were playing out a real life drama, a latter day version of the "Great Game" to control Southwest Asia.

It often seemed that Pakistan was run from this hotel to the strains of the incessant hotel muzak.

This was a neutral ground for competing politicians, diplomats, warlords, drug lords, peddlers of nuclear weapons technology, and perhaps a few who fell into all those categories.

Alcohol was a tool of the trade even in an Islamic state such as Pakistan. At first it was brought to my room in a brown paper bag - after I filled out a government form declaring myself to be an unstable foreign alcoholic.

Later, hotel management discretely opened a windowless basement bar - one of the few venues in the capital to serve alcohol. Occasionally I'd disappear into this gloom for a quiet drink with the army officers-turned spies who were running Pakistan's secret wars in Afghanistan and Indian-occupied Kashmir. Many had embraced the extremist zeal of the militants they sought to control and exploit - yet they still enjoyed a scotch or a beer when I was paying.

Change for the Marriott came after 9/11. As the Americans gathered their forces to invade Afghanistan, the hotel became media headquarters of the world.

Hundreds of foreign media established a surreal Tower of Babel in the hotel. TV networks fought for space on the roof to erect plywood studios, guests slept on stretchers three to a room. The function centre became a paying dormitory - and the room rate, like the punditry, seemed to escalate on a daily basis.

As CNN anchors shared their insight with the world from their rooftop plywood stage, South American journalists down in the foyer, watching the broadcasts on TV, transcribed every word before relaying back to anxious readers back home.

The foyer transformed into the theatre of the absurd. There was the chic French TV crew kitted out in the flowing robes of traditional Pakistani shalwar kameez; and the American reporter complaining that he couldn't bring his gun into the hotel.

With the fall of Kabul the circus moved on, but the Marriott had changed.

After 9/11 the security barriers went up outside the hotel, but no one seriously believed it would stop a determined teenager on a one-way ticket to martyrdom.

Read The Full Story Here

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Australia Has The Largest Intact Wilderness Left On Earth

There really is nowhere else on the planet like Cape York, the Kimberley, Arnhem Land. This is true wilderness. Preserving our wilderness, for future generations, will ensure prosperity, sustainability and life :

A study has identified 40 per cent of Australia - 3 million square kilometres - as the largest intact wilderness on Earth, ranking in quality with the Amazon forest, Antarctica and the Sahara desert.

"Few Australians realise the extent and quality of their own wilderness," said Barry Traill, a wildlife ecologist who co-authored the study identifying 12 regions of Australia that "remain almost completely untouched by humans".

"As the world's last great wilderness areas disappear under pressure from human impact, to have a continent with this much remaining wilderness intact is unusual and globally significant," Dr Traill said.

The Wild Australia Program Study found that while Australia's wilderness areas support some of the world's richest concentration of flora and fauna, they face serious threats, including feral animals, such as pigs and buffaloes, and invasive noxious weeds.

Areas identified in the study include the Kimberley, Carpentaria, Cape York, Arnhem Land, Gibson Desert, Simpson Desert, Sturt Stony Desert, Nullarbor, Great Victoria Desert, the Great Sandy Desert, and the Tanami Desert.

Friday, September 19, 2008

NSW Premier : I Want To Save Sydney's Children From Monster Cat Attacks

I'm not too sure where random vicious leopard and puma attacks on bushwalking children sits on The Priority Ladder for the new NSW premier, but it's reassuring to know he intends to take preventative action nonetheless:

New South Wales Premier Nathan Rees says rumours that a leopard inhabits bushland on Sydney's outskirts cannot be dismissed, because the safety of children could be at risk.

Talk of panthers or leopards in the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury region has persisted for decades and there are almost 300 claimed sightings of a big cat in the area.

While there is still no conclusive proof such an animal roams Sydney's north-western fringes, Mr Rees says the animal cannot be discounted as an urban myth.

"I know I don't do policy on the run, but I think it's three years since Minister Campbell had a look at this, I think it's probably time to do it again," he said.

Sydney's Monster Cat(s) will probably take out a tourist first.
Reserve Bank : Our Debt Binge Is Over

The Reserve Bank has sounded the alarm. Put away those credit cards. It's Frugal Days ahead :

Australia's decade-and-a-half-long debt binge is coming to an end and a new era of austerity, in which consumers pay down their debts, live within their means and save for the future, is beginning, the Reserve Bank governor, Glenn Stevens, has predicted.

As US authorities were forced to stump up $US85 billion to prevent the collapse of the insurance giant American International Group, Mr Stevens said it was time for a debate about how debt-fuelled asset bubbles could be prevented in the first place, as opposed to regulators simply waiting to "clean up the mess afterwards".

... amid the financial maelstrom, Australian households were likely to hunker down and focus on repairing their debt-burdened balance sheets.

"There is … a good chance that households will for some time seek to contain and consolidate their debt, grow their consumption spending at a pace closer to income, and perhaps look to save more of their current income than in the recent past," he said.

Since the early 1990s, households had run up their gross debt as a proportion of annual disposable income from about 50 per cent to 160 per cent. A period of low inflation, low interest rates and rising incomes had enabled Australians to indulge their love affair with housing. "As we have become wealthier, our aspirations for housing in terms of position, quality and size have naturally enough increased. But … there is only so much well-located land … In the end, a lot more of our income is devoted to housing, acquired by servicing mortgages, than was once the case."

Relaxed lending standards had also fuelled the debt boom to the point where "anyone who was creditworthy - and some who were not - have been able to access ample amounts of credit".

But with the world entering a new period of constrained credit and tightened lending criteria, Mr Stevens said he expected Australian consumers would begin to rein in their big-spending ways.

We were relaxed and comfortable under John Howard, but mostly because the lounge chairs were so stuffed with credit card receipts and second mortgage demand letters.

The Australian stock markets have probably just about finished their "adjustments". But where will the credit come from that funds small businesses, that allows a builder to buy a ute, or a delivery man to buy a bigger truck? Nobody seems to know right now. This is the quieter, but far greater concern, amongst economists than share market ups and downs. Who will lend us money now?

The Australian government continues pouring tens of billions into the markets to keep the dream alive, as they keep telling themselves, "It's almost over, it's almost over, it's almost over."

The free market turned out not to be so free, after all.

Australia, Japan Pump $50 Billion Into Markets In 24 Hours

Oz Stocks Slam To Three Year Low

US Crisis Grows, Australia Cops Fallout

Rudd : Our Financial Crisis Has A Long Way To Run

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

RIP (Rock In Peace)

Forget politics, Brendan. You gave it your all and those dirty bastards still stabbed you in the back whilst nodding collectively as you raged about pensioner poverty and the poor quality of cheap soup. Hit the open road, Brendan, jump back in a truck and plough those highways. And don't forget your guitar.

(image by Grods)

Grods pays a hearty tribute to the most entertaining leader of the Liberal Party since Alexander Downer.

Who will speak up now for the elderly pensioners of Australia who are so poor they can't afford toilet paper and have to wipe their bottoms with their cats instead?
It's What God Wanted, Apparently

If you don't have a legal right to make a choice about how you die, when death is close and living is beyond miserable, and yet the the law still sides with religious beliefs over simple humanity, well, it smells very much like theocracy, doesn't it?

Angelique Flowers, 31 :
Just a month shy of her 31st birthday and half a lifetime since she was diagnosed with the debilitating Crohn's disease at 15, Angelique Flowers was told she had colon cancer. It was so advanced and so aggressive, she was given only months to live.

Frightened of a slow, painful death from a total bowel obstruction, this softly spoken Melbourne writer wanted her life to end peacefully and on her own terms.

It wasn't to be. She regretfully turned away from her loved ones and spent her final weeks searching for information about euthanasia and a dose of the lethal drug Nembutal. Her final hours were robbed of the dignity she had wanted as she died vomiting the content of her bowels.

Angelique's video plea to Kevin Rudd to change the euthanasia laws in absolutely shattering.
There's Nelson, Who Wants To Blow Him Away?

I thought calling for the assassination of political leaders was illegal?

Laurie Oakes, writing in the Daily Telegraph, seems to be able to get away with it :

I have discovered that (Rudd)...has a fondness for guns.
Come on, Laurie. You didn't "discover" this. This news is so old, it's wearing incontinence pants and a Seekers t-shirt. December, 2006 :
Kevin makes no apologies for being a long-standing supporter of shooters’ rights. He has participated in a number of celebrity events at the Belmont range throughout the years, along with former South Australian ALP Senator John Quirk, who serves as a patron for a number of shooting organisations.
You can "discover" this news about Rudd & Guns for yourself through deep, thorough investigative journalism in the fetid heart of Canberra, like Oakesy, or by some complex Google searching, using the words "Rudd gun".

I'm going to miss Brendan Nelson. He was pure Comedy Gold, however unintentional his brilliantly hilarious impression of a Liberal Party leader was.

Nelson was as funny as a kitten as with its head caught in a empty yoghurt container.

Unlike Malcolm Turnbull, who's about as amusing as a school bus accident.

Monday, September 15, 2008

What It Meant To Be An Australian In 1914

"They Clung To The Principle Of Standing By The Weaker Brother"

(Note : I have run this story before on this blog, and I'll run it again next year as well)

C.E.W. Bean's essential history of Australians at war during World War 1, Anzac To Amiens, includes some invaluable insights into Australian society, in the cities and in the bush, in the year before the war broke out.

In amongst all the talk today of what it means to be an Australian, it was with great interest that I found within Bean's book an encapsulating description of Australians and Australian society in the years just before the "War To End All Wars" broke out.

In only a few pages of his book, Bean manages to nail down an Australian identity rarely discussed today, or even widely recognised as an identity Australians once had and happily shared.

In many ways, the Australian society he describes in the first chapter of Anzac To Amiens - as he sets the scene for the inspiring and shocking story that follows - was never to be the same again.

The war, its crippling financial costs and its monumental casualty take shattered the width and breadth of the Australian society, from sparsely populated country villages to the tram-noisy chaos of Sydney, as it tore away (in Bean's words) "husband from wife, son from mother, (and) savings from those who had spent a lifetime in patient thrift."

How near to the optimistic heights dreamed of by those Australians, then only 14 years after Federation, have we soared in the 94 years since?

How close to their utterly essential "basic creed" and ideal of what defined an Australian do we now stand today?

Here are some excerpts from the first chapter :
In 1914, Australians were only 126 years from their first settlement in this continent...we were only 101 years from the first crossing of the Blue Mountains, only 63 (years) from the first gold rush, 58 (years) from the first establishment here of democratic self-government. Some Australian who went to the war had ancestors still alive who could remember some of the first generation of countrymen; many had grandparents or great grandparents who could tell them of the gold rush, the bushrangers, the later explorers and the imported convicts.

Yet, though many of the older men and women had actually lived in them, the colonial days were, by 1914, almost as extinct of those of William the Conqueror.

The people of the six colonies, which had federated only fourteen years before, regarded themselves as being in the forefront of human progress, and indeed, in some not unimportant respects they had reason to do so.

When emigrating from Britain most of their ancestors had half-consciously tried to cast off what they vaguely felt to be elements of inequality and injustice in the inherited social systems of Europe.

They were disrespectful of old methods, eager to try out new ones. They had of late deliberately changed the whole basis of their wage system, in an effort to adjust it to the public conscience in place of the uncontrolled results of supply and demand.

They had made many mistakes, due to vague thinking and inadequate study, but they had achieved something.

They had established at least one very great and successful industry - that of wool production - and had managed to so spread its profits that real wages were then possibly higher in Australia than anywhere else in the world; at all events the life of the ordinary man, woman and child contain probably more healthy recreation than anywhere else.

Public education then compared favourably with that of any people except perhaps those of Scandinavia; in the enjoyment of such modern material benefits as telephones and electric light Australians were ahead of the British though behind the Americans.

Probably nowhere were the less wealthy folk more truly free, or on such terms of genuine social equality with the rich, in dress, habits and intercourse....

It is true that in one respect living conditions in Australia - as in most newly-settled lands, even the United States - differed widely from those in older countries; a vast gap existed between the conditions in country and city. In the cities life was not markedly different from that of any great European or American town; but country life was in many parts still set in almost pioneering environment.

Yet the outback homesteads often contain surprising evidence of culture. It was much more than a superficial sign that the women who drove in to meet the mail train at a distant siding often dressed in the fashion of Paris, London, or New York.

And if in the bars and hostels even of the big cities at racetimes and on holidays there was sometimes evidence of the Wild West, there was little inferiority complex about the people of this particularly free country.

Its universities were in many ways progressive; its governments were launching into social experiments. Its business and political leaders thoroughly believed in its future and, with only 4 1/2 million white people (and perhaps 100,000 Australian blacks) in the continent, they borrowed freely from overseas to launch into industrial and social enterprises.

Many young Australians tended to condemn the English immigrant for his comparative slowness and lack of confidence in dealing with the unknown men and conditions, and were irritated by his certitude as to the superiority of the methods of the "old country".

The Australian ballad writers, Gordon, Lawson, Paterson, Ogilivie and others, were constantly read and quoted. The people were not formally religious, but there was a marked comradeliness in their outlook, and no degree of economic pressure could induce them to abandon it.

The people, newly federated, were at this stage very consciously intent upon building themselves into a great nation.

Without giving the matter much thought, most Australians assumed that the development of their country would be similar to that of the United States.

...with easy optimism, Australian anticipated that within a century or so her 5 million people would be increased to 60 if not 100 million.

The historian, who tries to to discover what motive most powerfully moved the Australian people at that interesting stage, will probably come to the conclusion that tradition - such as is consciously or unconsciously handed down in almost every word or action by parents and teachers to children, by priests and pastors, professional trades and business men to their successors, by witters to readers, even by older children to younger - was immensely strong and enduring.

The tradition was largely British...But with the British standards were mingled those of the pioneers - the backwoodsmen, and the men of the great ruins and the mining fields.

It was to these last that Australians owed their resourcefulness and readiness to grapple with their objectives even against authority, and also their basic creed, in industry as in war, that a man must at all costs stand by his mate.

...they clung to the principle of standing by the weaker brother.

* * * * * * * * *

Almost one in every twelve Australians alive then served in some capacity during World War 1; in Europe, the Middle East or at home.

A force of 417,000 was raised from a total population of just under 5 million people.

Some 331,000 "took the field" during the four years of WWI1.

59,342 were killed or died as a result of wounds suffered during fighting.

Another 152,000 Australians were wounded.

Of all who "took the field" during the war, 64.8% were killed or wounded.

By the start of World War 2, in 1939, more than 2000 men remained hospitalised for physical and mental injuries resulting from the war twenty years previous.

In 1939, some 50,000 veterans of the first world war visited hospitals or AIF-related medical facilities for ongoing treatment and rehabilitation.

* * * * * * * *

C.E.W Bean devoted decades of his life to writing the full story of the Australian Anzacs, and his official history, encompassing twelve volumes and millions of words, has proved invaluable to every modern chronicler of the war that consumed many of the very best of two generations of Australians, and left it deeply in debt to Britain and the United States.

Bean was no public servant, back in Australia combing official reports and daily casualty lists to compile an official history that met with official approval. Bean was there, he wandered many battlefields and had the experiences of Australians at war during WW1 carved into his soul.

Remarkably his own photos of the battle at Lone Pine detail the early edition I'm now reading.

Unfortunately, Anzacs To Amiens doesn't appear to be for sale online, outside of collector's copies which start at about $160.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Orstrahyuh : The Movie

It will be worth watching for Mandy Walker's spectacular cinematography alone, but please, please, please Do Not Suck :

Not mentioned much yet in the media is that there is, apparently, a potentially controversial sub-plot involving Aboriginal children (or at least one as the trailer seems to indicate) being stolen away from their families. I think a controversy should begin over those cowboy movie-style swinging doors hanging in an Australian pub. Pffft, they won't keep the blowies out.

More on the plot of 'Australia' from the IMDB :
Luhrmann's film is set in northern Australia prior to World War II and centers on an English aristocrat (Kidman) who inherits a cattle station the size of Maryland. When English cattle barons plot to take her land, she reluctantly joins forces with a rough-hewn stock-man (Jackman) to drive 2,000 head of cattle across hundreds of miles of the country's most unforgiving land, only to still face the bombing of Darwin, Australia, by the Japanese forces that had attacked Pearl Harbor only months earlier.
If director Baz Luhrmann gets it right, many Australians who see this film will be absolutely shocked by the scale of destruction inflicted on Darwin by Japanese bombers, and surprised at how little they knew about what happened there all those years ago.

'Australia' needs to do huge business just to turn a profit, hundreds of millions of dollars around the world. It needs to be as big as Titanic was at the Australian box office, in fact it needs to knock it from the top spot, but the movie doesn't appear to have anything like the same youth appeal.

Hopefully, teen appeal won't be necessary for this movie to go epic because it's hard to imagine how a love story between two 40-somethings covered in dust and cow shit will pack in the kids and get that essential word of mouth happening that keeps youth coming back to see it at the cinema again and again, thereby driving up the box office, as they did with Titanic.

The cast for 'Australia' is absolutely spectacular, it looks fantastic, it should work. If it does indeed box office up a half billion dollars around the world, we could finally get something of an AustralianFilm Renaissance firing up. Maybe. But am I the only one who gets the giggles during some parts of that trailer?

Oh, please do not suck...
Australia Has "No Idea" How Many Of Its Soldiers Are Suffering Mental Health Problems From Serving In Iraq, Afghanistan

Better late than never :
Australian troops who have fought in the Middle East will be screened for the first time for health problems such as cancer, substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder, as part of an effort to boost health surveillance of soldiers returning from combat.

Of particular concern are the unknown rates of mental illness among returning troops.

Australia, unlike the US and Britain, has no idea of the extent of mental illness among its soldiers in the Middle East.

Defence, Science and Personnel Minister Warren Snowdon told The Weekend Australian that the Government was "only too aware" there had been gaps in identifying and treating the health problems of servicemen and women who had fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. More than 20,500 Australian troops have served in the Middle East since 2003. Australia currently has 1080 troops in Afghanistan.

"We know the performance has been less than satisfactory, especially in dealing with mental health issues facing our troops, so we are trying to fill that gap," Mr Snowdon said.

Last year, Defence revealed that 121 Australian troops returning from Iraq had been medically discharged from the military, many because of psychological trauma.

It is estimated that, at least, 10% of all troops who've served in Iraq will have to deal with PTSD fallout, if they're aren't already suffering its effects.

One source told me these screenings will likely involve testing for the effects of depleted uranium. Australians in Iraq were mostly kept away from the most heavily DU contaminated areas, but the toxic fallout from American missiles and tank shells can still travel on the wind, and vehicles.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Iran! Hitler! Genocide! Iran! Hitler! Genocide! Iran! Hitler! Genocide!

Murdoch Media Pumps Incredible Pro-Iran War Propaganda

When you own 70% of Australia's city newspapers, and a fat market share of online news, you can shamelessly promote the next war that will earn you another few hundred million dollars via increased readership.

Smell the classic Murdoch stench of propaganda!

From here :
An Israeli Cabinet minister involved in the operation to kidnap Nazi mastermind Adolf Eichmann says the same tactic could be used to bring Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to trial.

Rafi Eitan said Mr Ahmadinejad, who is aggressively pursuring nuclear technology and has repeatedly called for Israel to be wiped off the map, had to be brought for trial in The Hague.

"A man like Ahmadinejad who threatens genocide has to be brought for trial in The Hague," Mr Eitan said.

Asked if kidnapping was acceptable, Mr Eitan told the Associated Press: "Yes. Any way to bring him for trial in The Hague is a possibility.

"All options are open in terms of how he should be brought."

Mr Eitan, a former spy who is now a member of Israel's inner cabinet of ministers with security responsibilities, said he was expressing his own opinion.

Mr Eitan, 81, helped kidnap Eichmann from Argentina in 1960. Eichmann was tried and executed in Israel for carrying out Adolf Hitler's "final solution" to kill European Jews.
The Murdoch media fails to mention that Eitan was involved in the recruitment of at one least spy, who was jailed for stealing secrets from the United States government and military.

This trash also gets a run in The Australian, the supposed newspaper of record in these lands.

It's obvious the Murdoch media backs War On Iran over its nuclear energy programs, that only the United States and Israel ceaselessly claim are being used to create nuclear weapons.

It's nothing new. The pro-Iran war lobbyists and media regurgitators have been at this "Try DinnerJacket For Genocide" shriek since mid-2006.

Here's how Benjamin Netanyahu hysterically launched the "Iran = Genocide" media psy-op back then :
"We must cry Gevalt before the entire world. In 1938, Hitler didn't say he wanted to destroy [the Jews]; Ahmadinejad is saying clearly that this is his intention, and we aren't even shouting. At least call it a crime against humanity. We must make the world see that the issue here is a program for genocide."
The claim that the Iranian president declared he wanted to "wipe Israel off the map", thereby promising genocide against Jewish and Arab Israelis alike, has been thoroughly discredited, countless times.

It is the Pro-War crowd's version of the anti-Bush crowd's "plastic turkey".

And yet it appears in the Australian Murdoch media endlessly.

It's called propaganda, but it's also called Preparation, so if our allies Terror From The Sky bombs start killing thousands of Iranians while they're busy watching DVDs of The Sopranos and bopping along listening to Lil' Wayne on their iPods, you won't be too shocked, or surprised.

"Why are they killing Iranians?"

"Oh, I read about that in the Daily Telegraph. Iran's got nukes and want to wipe out Israel like Hitler or something."

This kind of 'journalism' is a fucking crime against humanity.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Aliens Mutilated Their Vaginas?

I'm not quite sure what thousand words the picture attached to this story is supposed to be worth. A mistake, presumably, or someone at Murdoch's Daily Telegraph has a staggering lack of compassion :

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Costello Announces To No Great Surprise That He Won't Lead Liberals, Nation Yawns

Australia's most tedious, snore inducing soap opera is finally over.

Peter Costello has confirmed his almost year old decision not to go after the leadership of the Liberal Party.

He doesn't want to lead the Liberal Party, and won't, and he didn't even bother informing his Liberal allies, let alone the Opposition in general, that he was going public with this announcement and that announcement basically was "Fuck you very much."

Tony Abbott was interviewed on Lateline. He was there to talk about why Rudd should make the old age pension increases that the Howard government refused to make, when this breaking news about Costello was dropped on him.

Abbott looked stunned and infuriated. But mostly Abbott looked humiliated, and for good reason. He'd spent the past few months debasing himself as he sang Costello's praises, lionising him, legendising him at every opportunity, in the vain hope that just maybe Costello would reconsider his November, 2007, decision to not become the leader of the Liberals, and to quit Parliament completely before the next election.

Costello didn't even call Abbott to tell him to give it a rest, and to remind him that he wasn't going to bring this Save The Liberals From Utter Oblivion fantasy to life. Ever.

Abbott may be one of the creepiest human-like creatures ever elected to public office, anywhere in the world, in history, but Costello has acted like a right fuckwit through much of this, and Abbott shouldn't have been allowed to continually sing Costello's praises, and publicly beg him to take the leadership off Brendan Nelson.

Whatever Costello might have said was unlikely to have stopped media speculation about who would replace Brendan "I'm very popular on the open road" Nelson, but many of the 'leaks' and 'rumours' about Costello secretly planning to stay on and become Liberals Leader that fueled all this absurd months of newspaper front pages and acres of Opinion came from Costello's friends and media allies.

It's all been a rather nasty little business, with Nelson copping most of the fallout, but then we are talking about the Liberal Party here and they're not famous for their humanity, loyalty or compassions. Even to each other.

Now Costello will further destroy the few remaining tattered shreds of Liberals credibility with a media crusade to flog his incredibly expensive ($55!) book.
Sources familiar with the memoir believe it will reignite tensions within the Liberal Party, and could see open warfare between those loyal to Mr Howard and others who wanted him to resign before last November's election.

Mr Costello will controversially argue that he was given a "wink and a nod" on five or six occasions by either Mr Howard or his close allies on a succession plan.
Good Christ, who fucking cares anymore?

The book will earn back its advance, but not much more. There simply isn't enough meat on the bones, or blood on the pages, for the book to sell beyond 40,000 copies. Costello isn't regarded as Australia's Greatest Living Treasurer by most Australians, in fact he's widely thought of as a bit of a wanker and a softcock for not going after the leadership. This book is not expected to do anything much to change those kinds of views.

Expect to see John Howard's first post-election interview on the 7.30 Report sometime in the next two weeks, as he attempts to counter Costello's "I Created Australia's Golden Age" twaddle-waffle around the country.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Daddy Likes To Bang His Head

Yeah, I know it's been the case for years, well decades really, but it's still weird to hear AC/DC referred to as "dad's music".

Father's Day apparently shot six old AC/DC albums back inside the Top 50 :
Acca Dacca created ARIA chart history yesterday as the only act to have six records in the top 50...
Leading the chart charge was the 1975 record, TNT, which leapt into the No. 20 spot. The band's 1990 album The Razors Edge is No. 26, 1979's Highway To Hell at No. 27, 1976's Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap at No. 28, 1986's Who Made Who at No. 30 and 2000's Stiff Upper Lip at No. 45.
AC/DC also claimed the 1 and 2 position on music DVD charts. AC/DC remain amongst the highest earning Australian entertainers even in years when they don't tour, or release new albums.
A new album from AC/DC arrives on October 8. I'll review it as soon as it leaks.

Still waiting to hear whether AC/DC : The Musical will become a reality any time soon.

More Rock Writing From Darryl Mason Here - Ozzy Osbourne, Jeff Buckley, Silverchair, Kyuss

Monday, September 08, 2008

Some beautiful Melbourne graffiti art, photos by nOcturbulous

Recent Election Results Show The Two Party System Controlling Australia Is Melting Down

Greens leader Bob Brown thinks the spectacular political chaos thrown up by voters' choices in three elections in the past few days proves that the Liberal-Labor, two party system is breathing its last breaths.

Well, you can only hope so. Australians are getting anarchic at the miserable, pathetic performance of local, state and federal Liberal and Labor politicians. Why else are we now so willing to give the minor parties and independents such a go?

The good news is that both Labor and the Liberals are shitting themselves at the results of byelections in the federal seats of Mayo and Lyne, and the tumultuous results of the WA state election.

Incredibly, the Liberals almost lost Alexander Downer's old seat of the Greens.

Australia's major political parties have been put on notice after all were given a thumping during coast-to-coast elections held over over the weekend.

Until Saturday, Labor had won the past 23 successive state and territory elections.

Yesterday the WA National Party leader, Brendon Grylls, whose party won a better than expected four seats, held talks with the Labor Premier, Alan Carpenter, about forming a minority government - but today he will hold similar talks with the Liberal leader, Colin Barnett.

Buoyed by the result in the west, where there is no coalition, the federal Nationals leader Warren Truss flagged his party walking away from the federal Coalition in a bid to survive. The massacre in Lyne wiped out any lingering joy from the Nationals' emphatic win in the Gippsland byelection two months ago.

Peter Hartcher :

Until only a year ago Australia was the Contented Country. Governments, state and federal, just kept getting re-elected, no matter how bad they were.

Now Australia is the Cranky Country. A cocky government can no longer call an election in the expectation that a nonchalant electorate will casually stamp its ticket for another term.

Since November, an election poses an existential threat to a government. Australians have snapped out of their long torpor, and they are unhappy with what they are finding.

The Howard government was the first victim, falling under the force of a 5.4per cent swing against it. In August the Northern Territory Labor Government suffered a brutal 9.8per cent swing but managed to cling to power by the tiniest majority, a single seat. Now the West Australian Labor Government has lost its majority after suffering a 6per cent swing.

In Alexander Downer's former seat of Mayo the Liberals managed to hold the seat but suffered a drubbing, a 10 per cent swing. In Mark Vaile's former seat of Lyne the Nationals lost to a strong independent.

Interestingly, in all the tat and twaddle now being spoken by senior Labor and Liberal politicians about the election results, they take aim only at each other, and have almost nothing to say about the all too obvious rise in popularity of smaller parties and independents. It's like Labor and Liberal politicians are telling themselves, "Maybe if we pretend all those independents don't exist, they will fade away and leave us alone."

Even when the truth of their fading favour with Australian voters is kicking them savagely in the face, Labor and the Liberals continue to pretend that the very core of two-party control of Australia is not suffering a catastrophic meltdown, when it so very clearly is.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

New Chief Justice Inspired By Homer (Simpson, that is)

It's great to learn that Australia's new chief justice finds inspiration and quotables in The Simpsons and Sylvester Stallone movies. But why does the Stallone movie have to be the woeful Judge Dredd?

Robert French is unapologetically bringing a touch of Hollywood to the High Court of Australia. Not the gargantuan budgets - he is uncomfortable with the rising cost of justice - but the popular culture of Harry Potter, The Simpsons and even the sci-fi future justice of Judge Dredd.

In order to draw people to important issues, French, sworn in this week as Australia's 12th chief justice, uses humour in speeches and judgments, and references that might not be expected in serious legal debate.

A science-fiction devotee, the former Federal Court judge excitedly recalls a speech he gave earlier this year where he used clips from the Sylvester Stallone film Judge Dredd, set in 2139 when people live in violent mega-cities and special police called "street judges" act as judge, jury and executioner.

"I was quoting Montesquieu about separation of powers and how when you combine the functions of judge and executive, you get a tyrant. And I suggested here's a Hollywood picture of what this looks like and it's Sylvester Stallone as Judge Dredd saying 'I am the law...'"

"In fact what that film was about was some future in which you have combined executive and judicial functions. You've got policemen riding around arresting people, trying them, punishing them and then saying 'Court adjourned' and roaring off on their levitating Harley Davidson. It makes the point."

So no levitating Harleys for Australian police then.
"They're Not Just Cute, Friendly Wallabies Anymore - They're Killers"

Remember, the stories below are only some of the recent officially reported attacks on humans by vicious Australian fauna. How many attacks go unreported?

Seriously, if you were a 50 year old man taking out the rubbish at 11pm and a baby fruit bat flew into the back of your head and scrabbled at your neck with its cold little claws and made you shriek like a four year old girl who just woke up to find a spider on her face, would you go and tell the police about it? No.

The children's TV favourite, Skippy The Bush Kangaroo, clearly lulled a couple of generations into a false sense of security. The furry, the big-eyed and the awesomely cute marsupials of Australia can no longer be trusted. The Australian battleground in Nature's War On Humans ramps up.

Wallaby Goes After Child, Shapes Up To Father For Fight :

"Bones" Bailey yesterday said if he had not been there to fight off the 1m-tall wallaby on Saturday afternoon, he had no doubt his nine-year-old son Morgan would have been mauled to death.

"It’s deadset serious. Someone should get a gun and shoot the buggers," Mr Bailey said.

"They’re not just friendly, cute little wallabies any more – they’re killers."

"This big fella came out and Morgan started to run and he started chasing him, making this roaring noise," Mr Bailey said.

"Morgan was absolutely screaming his head off. I had to belt him (the wallaby) across the face twice, then he came at me – he had his claws up, shaping up like a little boxing man.

"Then my young fella (six-year-old Bodine) grabbed a stick and he finally backed off," Mr Bailey said.

He and Giffin Rd neighbour Anita Coulthard said they knew of three other children who also were attacked by wallabies in the area on separate times last year.

An Environmental Protection Agency spokesman said attacks on humans by wild wallabies or kangaroos were extremely rare...

Well yes, you would expect the EPA to say that. They have a pro-fauna agenda. This sure smells like a cover-up.

Greens leader Bob Brown is somewhere tonight, illuminated from below, laughing diabolically, clapping his hands in delight as he prays to the Green Jesus to direct the wombats and koalas to join in the anti-human bloodshed.

Meanwhile, here's a rampaging, leg-gnawing possum :

Police officers have used capsicum spray to subdue a rampant possum that had been terrorising a family in their home for hours.

"Mark always wears shorts and the possum jumped on his leg and sank in the claws and teeth. He was trying to shake it off but it was well attached."
Koalas will start dropping from trees and shredding bushwalkers any day now.

"Sorry? Did You Say You Were Attacked By A Kangaroo?"

Thursday, September 04, 2008

You Are Gullible, Like America....Just Before 9/11

A little terrorising on terrorism, from a self-confessed terrrorist, who now makes a living as a terrorism expert :

He warned a 700-strong audience in Melbourne last week that Australia is woefully under-prepared for a terrorist attack.

"I'm in the loop, I'm seeing a lot of information, and I can tell you that Australia was always far away, the dark side of the moon," he later tells the Herald.

We spend hundreds of millions of dollars "preparing" for terrorist attacks where we, until only recently, once spent a few dozen million, if not much less.

"You were isolated, you were in a bubble, and you were secure. That bubble has burst."

Why do self-claimed terrorism experts so often sound like terrorists themselves as they ramp up their warnings?

"Australia today is exactly where America was before 9/11 - gullible, believing you are secure because you are an island."

So who is this prophet of bombageddon?

Juval Aviv has an incredible claim to fame. He led a deadly team of five assassins set loose to avenge the 1972 massacre of 11 Israeli Olympic athletes.

Aviv says he was a bodyguard and anti-terrorism adviser to Israel's so-called "Iron Lady", Golda Meir, prime minister from 1969-74, and a major in Israeli army intelligence when Meir unleashed the secret revenge mission.

Well, maybe. Mossad says Aviv is full of crap, and he was never anything more than a security guard.

Ahh, says Aviv, that's all part of the "official secrecy" and the need for "deniability."

None of that matters much, apparently, because...

This much is clear: Aviv is a fascinating storyteller with strong views on the present day terrorist threat.

Aviv says Australia's troop deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan make the country a bigger terrorist target, lifting it to rank alongside the United States, Israel and Britain.

...he also fears official complacency has compounded the threat.

"You have done a lot, but you are light years away in Australia from really being ready for an attack," he says.

"A lot of people really don't believe it is going to happen."

He's here to help Australians re-align their reality to include a more vivid fear of terror exploding its way into their lives. Tough battle, we're all far too obsessed with fearing climate change right now.

Aviv on the assassinations of the suspected Munich terrorists, which included exploding bombs that killed and injured civilians :

"We found those 11 terrorists, and one by one, we bought them to justice - which we only know how to do in Israel, as I always say."

When pressed, he admits this refers to executions.

Justice = Execution.

Aviv has also made similar startling claims of mass terrorism that will lay waste to cities, this time in the United States, in his regular appearances on Fox News. An example :

Suicide bombers running, or driving, into American casinos and theme parks and malls. Aviv made these It Could Happen predictions back in 2005.

Aviv sure sounds like someone who's selling something. What's he selling?

Fear of Terrorism.

It's a unique, cash spouting spin-off from the War On Terror.

A war to stop terrorism creates more terrorism, actually increases the likelihood of terrorism, and this in turn gives rise to a multi-billion dollar new industry that "prepares" businesses and governments far away from the warzones to deal with the terrorism that may (or maybe not, whatever, it doesn't matter) perhaps result from the war to stop it.

It's brilliant, really.

Australians Fear Terrorism Less Now They're Not Being Bombarded By Ads Telling Them To Fear Terrorism

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

"Sorry? Did You Say You Were Attacked By A Kangaroo?"

As soon as they put up the new signs warning "Beware Unprovoked Attacks By Kangaroos", they will be stolen.
A jogger is in a stable condition in a Melbourne hospital after he was attacked by a kangaroo on the city's north-western fringe.

The man was treated at the scene for a large gash on his head and smaller scratches on his arms, hands and chest and was taken to the Royal Melbourne Hospital in a stable condition.

I was convinced, for years, as a kid that I'd seen a late night movie about millions of kangaroos massing near Orange and then raging through the Blue Mountains and attacking the suburbs of Sydney. They were like a plague, unstoppable, extremely violent.

People were running from their homes and gunning down waves of marauding kangaroos, but they kept on coming. There was one fantastic scene where the kangaroos cross the Harbour Bridge, leaping from car roof to car roof. They crashed through windscreens and anyone who dared to leap from their car and run for it was pummelled to death.

I experienced years of bewildered looks from friends, and movie industry professionals, in my hunt to find this movie. It doesn't exist. The only explanation is that it was a movie dream I had while napping through an episode of Skippy, after too much straight green cordial syrup on ice-cream.