Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Yes, The Sky Is Blue

Australia's most boring columnist states the bleeding obvious as only he can :

You may soon be called upon to donate to ensure sufficient emergency "new blood" supplies are available for The Liberal Party, because plenty of blood will spill, as surreal discussions break out over in Canberra about whether it should be Christopher Pyne or Joe Hockey who will replace Malcolm Turnbull as opposition leader.

It may be time for Brendan "I've Never Voted Liberal In My Life!!?!" Nelson to rise phoenix-like, hell, make that Howard-like, from the ashes of the Old Liberals and reclaim the big chair so Rudd can giggle up to and right through a federal election.

Gerard Henderson can't deny three appalling polls for the Liberals, all published on the same day, all but declaring that The Greens could become the 'two', in a two-party political system, if the Liberals don't get it together and finish cleaning house of the remaining old geezers the Liberals major donors wanted to fuck off last year.

Gerard, probably still shattered that Elizabeth Murdoch was right when she said John Howard destroyed the Liberal Party, cannot muster much enthusiasm to froth about Turnbull and dumps his usual dreary analysis, designed to lull all readers into believing that politics is mostly boring, and cuts loose, for the intro at least :
To suffer a significant downturn in one opinion poll might be due to chance, a statistical discrepancy or whatever.
Yes, Gerard Henderson really did just toss off "or whatever".

He should have gone for "or, like, whatever."

Gerard must be reading blogs. He must have noticed that bloggers who can't be arsed going too deep into the details can easily throw out "whatever" when they run out things to say about the subject under analysis, and nobody usually complains. Maybe Gerard thought, 'Well, why can't I get away with that, too?'

Yeah, whatever.

UPDATE : Gerard Henderson, Howard Hater :
Howard failed as prime minister to do what he said he would do - oversee an orderly transition of leadership in the way the Liberal Party founder, Robert Menzies, did in 1966.

If Howard had stepped down in early 2006 he would have been succeeded by Costello, when Labor was led by Kim Beazley. The ALP may or may not have replaced Beazley with Rudd. If Costello happened to win in 2007, there would be no problem now.
Except for the Global Financial Crisis.

Monday, June 29, 2009

A surreal and nightmarish illustration from Michael Mucci for a Paul Sheehan story in the Sydney Morning Herald :

Forget the story, look at the demonic apparation that is Anthony Albanese finishing off Turnbull's throat. That'll take a few days to wipe from the memory.
See That Shark? Watch Me Jump It

Meanwhile, The Great 'Rudd Shields Swan Over Fake Email (GRSFEC)' Conspiracy Theory Takes Shape

By Darryl Mason

After a consistently entertaining and dramatic week in politics in which utes and emails came to feature together for the first time in newspaper headlines. The Daily Telegraph's Piers Akerman straps on his water skis and submits his claim for monumental irrelevancy,
The last weeks of the winter session have been more damaging to the Rudd Labor Government than the Coalition, no matter how you slice it.
The first polls after the solid week of Utegate headlines, hysteria and claims of snarky conspiracy, show the opposite of what Akerman effervescently claims, and the damage inside the Liberal true believer ranks seems intense :

Malcolm Turnbull has paid for his botched attack on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, with more than half of voters believing he was deceitful about a now-notorious fake email. Even among committed Coalition voters, nearly a third believe he has been deceitful and another 10 per cent say he has been dishonest.

A Galaxy poll taken at the weekend has revealed the Opposition Leader's integrity has taken a hammering, revealing a rump of only 7 per cent of voters who think he was "open and honest" during the affair.

If it turns out that Turnbull was speaking, mostly, honestly throughout his dozens of interviews last week, something else will be needed to explain why so many Australians looked at Turnbull being interviewed on TV and thought, 'Oh, this guy is so full of shit.'

Malcolm Turnbull was interviewed by the AFP ("The Feds" for American readers) on Sunday, and Labor keeps hammering that Turnbull has something to hide. Something big. Maybe even a little dark, sinister.

Those kinds of vague claims crack deep into our culture's love-hate mistrust of politicians. We love corrupt politicians in novels and TV shows, the bastards, but we hate them in real life, those bastards.

And A Politician Who Has Something To Hide From The Feds feeds our political thriller fiction-fuelled desire to see corrupt politicians flayed publicly and prosecuted rigorously, regardless of who they are.

So Lindsay Tanner goes for a gushing head wound :
"Clearly, he's not going to provide his computer records to the federal police," Mr Tanner told the Nine Network.

"Given the nature of the potential crimes we're dealing with here, that is appalling. He should be making all assistance available to the federal police in order that they can determine whether any serious crimes have been committed and pursue them accordingly if they have been."

Brutal. And damn hard to shake off, even if the AFP interrupted Masterchef for ten minutes to announce that Malcolm Turnbull was in the clear and there was no reason to doubt his honesty on anything ute or e-mail related anymore. Even then, there would be plenty of Australians wandering around muttering, "Malcolm Turnbull? Dodgy prick."

Piers Akerman asked his readers the following question :
....did anyone really believe someone within Treasury would be sending faked emails?
Commenters responded to his call for exploration of a larger conspiracy involving Rudd & Swan and reasonably high-tech fakery and so was crafted a conspiracy theory swollen with potentially thrilling drama, tech-treachery and possible falls from power that makes you want to shout "I Want To See This Movie! (or at least read the book)', even if the theory doesn't turn out, in the end, to be actual reality. Some of these comments from Akerman's blog have been slightly
edited :
Michael A replied to lethal
Sun 28 Jun 09 (06:26am)

It is very interesting that the AFP were able to tell everyone the email was a fake almost immediately but have still not enlightened us as to the origins of the email. Was this all a Labor setup?

Angry God replied to lethal
Sun 28 Jun 09 (12:06pm)

As far as I understand computers and managed networks such as government systems, they facts are that the original email would contain data known as the MAC addreess. This is a unique number (that can be spoofed if you know what you are doing). The managed network locks these MAC addresses to the network switch.

A resonable investigator would have been able to identify the originating computer in a few seconds if they were competant. We assume that they are competant and as such we know that the AFP knows which computer initiated the modified (read fake) email.

In a managed network the spoofing of a MAC address within an email will be highlighted as a security breach. So either no spoofing of the MAC address occured or the email was sent from an outside of government network computer.

The AFP will know this info. It will be interesting where the fake comes from as it will be identified by this method.

Ann replied to lethal
Sun 28 Jun 09 (12:24pm)

The cursory search of PMO and Treasury computers by Rudd lackeys found no evidence of email so Rudd shrieks “It’s a fake”. Yet AFP take five minutes to find it was generated on a Treasury computer, sent to Grech home computer then deleted from Treasury computer.

samantha replied to lethal
Sun 28 Jun 09 (02:41pm)

For me, there are two really big questions that need to be answered. WHO in Treasury devised the email, and for what purpose?

Sammi replied to lethal
Sun 28 Jun 09 (03:03pm)

The Treasury generated email was created to catch their leak and it was made as juicy as possible to make sure it would be passed on to the Opposition and used, hence Rudd knew about it before it re-emerged. It also served the double purpose of covering up the copious email trail created by Swan and Co while attempting to secure a loan for Rudd’s mate.

It's a very interesting theory. And no-one showed up to try and dispel it, for many hours on Sunday.

Unlike the Liberal Party staffers who haunt News Limited blogs, do the Labor Party staffers who zip around online, posting anonymous comments on blogs as they run interference, dispensing disinformation, countering accusations, get the whole the weekend off?

Piers Akerman, for what's it worth, is convinced the Great Rudd & Swan Fake Email Scandal still has plenty of drama to be played out :
...the hard evidence still shows that Swan did more in his attempt to assist Rudd’s car-dealer mate, John Grant, than he did for any other car dealer in the nation.

That is indisputable.

Treasury officials, operating on clear instructions from Swan’s office, went to extraordinary lengths on Grant’s behalf.

We'll see. But it would be no great surprise if Rudd and Swan produce something that gets them off the hook. Rudd promised to "mess with their heads" when he became Labor Party leader, and it doesn't look like he has given that strategy even a week off since.

Being the mind-bogglingly biased Liberal Party flunkie and junkie that he is, Akerman wants his readers to believe that whatever happens, it's Not Yet Over for Malcolm Turnbull. Akerman has to rally the team for the man who said that John Howard broke Australia's heart. Akerman knows Turnbull is shedding support faster than Brendan Nelson railing against whatever, but he has to pump for Turnbull. And throw in something conspiratorial about the Greens as well.

This is what Akerman does for a living.

But I'm not convinced that even if Wayne Swan was seized by the AFP and sent in chains to the SuperMax for a solid water-boarding session to finally get him to answer e-mail and ute related questions that happen to be those very "Not The Right Questions" he has refused to answer so far, that Malcolm Turnbull would still be able to effectively change the clearly very real belief amongst so many voters that he is brimming with bullshit and a craptastic liar as well.

Australians love great liars.

It was long part of our oral storytelling tradition to try and spin the wildest yarns, and any brave and bold attempt to pass off a story mostly comprised of obvious fiction was always admired, even if the teller couldn't carry the tale convincingly.

But we can't respect nor tolerate bad liars. And Malcolm Turnbull, like Swan, is a bottom shelf liar.

Turnbull thinks he is a rare brandy, but he is a harsh house spirit scotch when it comes to effectively bullshitting the Australian public. His face is a billboard screaming, "Don't listen to my words, look at my eyes, see? even I don't believe what I'm saying, why should you?"

Joe Hockey loometh.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Bigger Than Jesus, Iran And Michael Jackson

By Darryl Mason

For a few hours tonight, tens of millions of Twitter users in dozens of countries looked at the Trending Topics sidebar and, in a global moment of mass questioning, thought "Who The Fuck Is Rove?"

Whoever he is, for a few hours on Twitter he was bigger than the Iran Election and Michael Jackson. Quite an accomplishment, for an Australian TV show.

Rove McManus of Rove Live became one of only a few TV hosts from anywhere in the world to land in the Trending Topics, and perhaps only Jon Stewart has only also ever reached the top spot. Which is sort of like having a number one worldwide hit single that all but nobody has heard on the radio, for just an hour or two, before quickly fading into general global obscurity.

How did Rove become a topic of even greater discussion amongst Twitter users than the Iran Election and Michael Jackson?

There was a certain amount of manipulation from Rove, urging the viewers of his TV show to get onto Twitter and use the term 'Twitter Time'. Plus, Rove McManus already has 50,000 people following him on Twitter. If a good slab of them are watching his show, already discussing what he's up to as he broadcasts his show, who he's interviewing, and they tag their Twitter posts with #rove, then Rove is clearly a subject of much discussion and comment volume, so into the Trending Topics list he goes.

The fact that he also interviewed Sasha-Borat Cohen, in the guise of Bruno, helped enormously. Viewers twooting along while they watched Rove do the interview discussed Bruno's fantastically obscene knitted fashion choices. Mentioning 'Bruno' in their Twitter comments meant that a few million somewhere else in the world who were searching Twitter for news about the Bruno movie found comments by Rove twooters mentioning the interview. It would seem a few tens of thousands of them then commented that there is a fantastic Bruno interview on some Australian TV show called Rove. Some of the comments echoed a refrain : Why Can't I Watch This Now On YouTube?

So Rove started being mentioned in probably a few hundred thousand Twitter comments, in just one hour, because of the Bruno association.

I'm not quite sure if this actually means that more people were twalking about Rove at the same time then they were about Michael Jackson, but Rove's name appeared in more posts on Twitter, for an hour or two, including all those who picked up on the phrase 'Twitter Time' and asked, What Is Twitter Time? and Who The Fuck Is Rove?

Rove's name became word associated with Bruno and Twitter and Twitter Time. Bruno was already in the Trending Topics on Twitter before the Rove interview aired tonight, and so as Rove viewers twooted about how fucking insane Bruno was, or how funny his knitted penis was, Twitter users interested in Bruno who weren't watching the interview as it was being broadcast (because they weren't near a TV or lived in a country other than Australia) passed on the news about Bruno to all the people who followed them. A chain reaction of interest spreads, and Rove's name is carried along. Rove then becomes known as a name to the millions who were already twooting about Bruno and what his new movie will be like, and as soon as Rove reached the Trending Topics, because of the volume of twoots containing the word 'Rove'. And so, having reached the bottom of the Trending Topics list, the volume increased when people began asking 'Who The Fuck Is Rove?' as many tend to do when they see a name or word in the Trending Topics they are unfamiliar with. They don't go for a Google, they just ask the people who follow them, 'Who Is This? What Does This Mean?'

If that doesn't make a whole lot of sense, I've been using Twitter for a few months and I'm still trying to get my head around it. There's not a whole lot to learn, you read comments, you post your own, you follow people, people follow you, but there's a gigatlantic-sized mountain to think about, particularly how Twitter is beginning to become the sort of actual real-time globally shared conversation that many pre-internet visionaries imagined would one day become a part of our digital reality.

While Rove may be hitting sixes using Twitter to promote the name 'Rove', he failed to capitalise on a brief worldwide interest in who he was, and what had happened on his show tonight that furnaced up so much discussion.

The interview with Borat's distant relative Bruno was not available anywhere online, hours after the show aired. In this age of Instant Online Everything, this ranks as something close to criminal. Why not share it all but immediately with those who missed it, or lived in the many countries where Rove is not screened, but where people were asking 'Who The Fuck Is Rove?'

The Bruno interview may be up today, or tomorrow, on YouTube, but that all so brief moment of worldwide Twitter interest passes quickly. I'm sure the interview will become extremely popular on YouTube and will rack up a few hundred thousand hits in four or five days. But here was an opportunity for someone from Rove to whip that clip onto YouTube as soon as it aired, get the link onto Twitter, and watch as five million around the world in just a few hours flooded in to watch the Rove & Bruno YouTube, thanks to the Twitter heads-up.

They didn't do it, so the above is just speculation. But it certainly seems like a scenario that could have happened, had the clip gone up straight away.

Because Kevin Rudd also appeared on Rove tonight, straight after the Bruno interview, and joined the Rove and Bruno and Twitter Time related discussions, our prime minister leapt into the Trending Topics as well. I didn't move fast enough to screengrab that.

Again, by midnight, hours after the show aired, the Rove interview of Kevin Rudd is still not up on YouTube, or any site that can be linked to. The international Twitterfolk who saw 'Kevin Rudd' in the Trending Topics and no longer bother with Googling, were asking their followers 'Who The Fuck Is Kevin Rudd?'

In these days of Instant Everything, not being able to immediately watch something that aired on TV but was missed, feels like you've been slighted.


What the fuck do you mean I can't watch this thing I heard about on Twitter right now online? Why is there no link? And what is this word 'Wait' word you keep using?

It just feels so very 20th century.

Correction : I know the estimates of overall Twitter users is too high. About eight million online at any one time, across the world is probably closer, but I'll go look for some detailed estimates of Twitter traffic.

Warning, Generation X Nostalgia Equals Maximum Hype

By Darryl Mason

"Generation X grew up the day Michael Jackson died."

Expect to hear that line a lot in the coming weeks and months, as a new Generation X meme takes hold in the mainstream media. Next Sundays mind-misting newspapers with likely be filled with columnists waffling on about the nostalgia trip Jackson has inspired in Generation Xers.

So let me get in first.

Michael Jackson is dead and millions of people in their 30s and early 40s who grew up with Michael Jackson filling the charts year in and year out with massive hits, are now now hearing some of his best songs again for the first time in a decade or more, and the songs are acting as memory triggers. Powerful ones.

Seeing 'Dont Stop Till You Get Enough' at 1am on Rage was like briefly time-travelling back to the room I was in when I first saw it. Vivid. Not just remembering the TV I watched it on, but the whole room, the people in it, the events of those days and how it felt as a kid to hear a song like that for the first time.

For thousands of others who caught that clip on Rage, or one of the dozen other Jackson clips, it propelled them back into memories of jumping around with incomprehensible, now, energy and excitement, or reminded them of the chidhood bedroom they had almost forgotten they once lived in for years, or some totally forgotten high school disco, or a more memorable first disco with actual bar.

If you were a kid in the 1970s and early 1980s, and you were addicted to Countdown, or Sounds, of if you listened to any of the big radio stations, you heard and saw a lot of Michael Jackson.

Every new single, and every new 'Wow, how'd they do that?!' video, was an event. With sometimes excruitiatingly long periods of Hype before you finally got to see feast your eyes on what Jackson had come up with next. It was extremely easy to get suckered into believing that whatever was coming from Michael Jackson was going to change your life and you had to be right there to see it when it was first screened on TV.

A generation becoming suddenly nostalgic is like a pipeline opening up. A lot of other memories start spraying around once that gateway to childhood has been cracked open. And a lot of other mostly forgotten music from the late 70s and early 80s will leap into your mind on the back of hearing Jackson singing Rock With You on the radio for the first time in two decades.

And with those musical memories come the mini-memory vids of the friends you shared that music with, the people around you then, the clothes you wore, the things you believed, the dreams you wanted to turn into bright and shining realities.

We will soon be told by every media entity with a heartbeat that Generation X Is Becoming Nostalgic.

It's about fucking time.

The Baby Boomers have dominated us for too long with their mostly shudder-awful musical nostalgia. Seriously, the fucking Eagles are still being played on Australian commercial radio stations. What else can you say but WTF?

For Generation Xers, The Eagles were the shit our parents listened to. The Eagles fucking pissed us off three and a half decades ago, and just the fact The Eagles are still getting played on morning, afternoon and evening radio, is enough to make most of us want to scream, "Oh fuck no, not again!"

I have little doubt that much of the current road rage can be linked to the number of times Hotel California and Take It Easy get played during morning and evening commutes. Hotel fucking California anathesises Baby Boomers, but it fill Generation Xers with fury.

And why is that up until a few days ago, all but none of the commercial radio stations played any Michael Jackson at all?

The Boomers are laughing at us, you know that, don't you?

John Farnham will never fucking retire, and will eventually be replaced by a robot or clone, or both. The Baby Boomers are going to live into their 120s, the ones that can afford it anyway. Boomer music, movies, TV and cultural memories and icons will clutter commerical TV and radio for decades more to come. This is why so many of us under 50s go online, where the influence and interests of Boomers is less suffocating, far less constant.

Generation X needs its own Nostalgia takeover of the mass media.

How many more times must any person hear so much plap and flappily crap Boomer generation songs that weren't even hits when they were first releasd, on mind-screamingly constant rotation, on so many fucking stations, all at the same time.

Take It Easy....for fuck's sake. What kind of message is that for a generation?

Only the idiots of the Boomer generation embraced the mass-media branded idiom of 'Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out,' though plenty in their ranks used it as excuse to bail on society, or hit cruise control into the next decade or three.

Ray Manzareck, of The Doors, had a better philosophy, 'Turn On, Tune In, TAKE OVER'.

Few Boomers thought that was a good idea.

And they grew to find The Eagles far more pleasing, less challenging, than the raucousness of The Doors. Boomers love that commercial radio anathetises then with Hotel California on a daily basis, when they should be getting blitzed by The Doors and The Ramones and Iggy Pop and The Sex Pistols.

This has to end.

Generation X must remove the horror of Baby Boomer Easy Listening Light Rock from all commercial radio stations.

It must become a crime to broadcast The Eagles and John Farnham to the public, outside of sound spill from nursing homes.

At least when we go into the nursing homes, we'll be listening to Nirvana.

Maybe some Michael Jackson.

Don't Stop Till You Get Enough, maybe Rock With You. Eat It and Bad are out, because it's impossible to watch the Jackson videos now without seeing Weird Al Yankovich's versions layered over the top.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Miranda Devine Embraces "The New Niceness" After Rallying For Greenies To Be Hung In Public

By Darry Mason

Yes, Miranda Devine is going to be Nice now.

Big viewerships for mostly fictional reality TV shows tell her that Australians, those who watch MasterChef anyway, don't want Nasty anymore. They want Nice.

This change for Miranda Devine comes only a couple of months after she decided, while the charred corpses and ash-only remains of more than 170 Australians still lay amongst the devastation of the Victoria Fires, that "It is not arsonists who should be hanging from lamp-posts but greenies."

Miranda "Nice Now" Devine :

Television programmers have discovered the public flicked the switch to "nice" about six months ago, favouring shows which are full of sweetness and light - such as MasterChef, Random Acts Of Kindness and Packed To The Rafters - and rejecting mean, vicious shows, such as Gordon Ramsay's surprise flop Hell's Kitchen or the Chaser's "Make A Realistic Wish" shtick.

The Chaser pulled more than one million viewers last week, up against the State of Origin, for fuck's sake.

And if you think there is any way in the world to link Gordon fucking Ramsay and The Chaser, well, you may as well be wearing a t-shirt declaring "I Am Full Of Shit".

Miranda Devine thinks Kevin Rudd is Nice. So is Wayne Swann. Julia Gillard, too, is Nice.

Malcolm Turnbull isn't Nice, she says, and she'd know, having said the following about Australian survivors of the appalling Cyclone Larry in Far North Queensland, in 2006 :

"...much as we will miss their avocados and bananas on our supermarket shelves, we can live without their whingeing."
The "whingers" who she was referring to were mostly young mothers who had been standing in the wind and rain for three days trying to get food and nappies for their babies. They dared to yell at a few journalists and complained that John Howard wasn't doing enough to help them. John Howard understood. Miranda Devine did not :

Five minutes after the cyclone hit, locals were whingeing that "they" haven't come and fixed it for them. Do they not have their own arms and legs?

Now here's some more Miranda "Nice Now" Devine :

Parliamentarians would be wise to follow the next political trend just launched by the US President, Barack Obama - a low-key Prince of Nice - not to follow the 24-hour news cycle. It is a revolutionary concept, and only Obama, with his authority and iconic status, could dare try.

Interrogated by reporters this week about why he waited several days to condemn the violence in Iran he replied: "I know everybody here is on a 24-hour news cycle. I'm not, OK?"

Wow! What a liberating idea for a political leader, not to be enslaved by an endless circus of TV and radio appearances, punctuated by jabbering doorstops. No more treadmill of Radio National Breakfast, Sunrise, 2GB, 3AW, AM, Sky News, The World Today, PM, network evening news programs, The 7.30 Report, Lateline, with and media-monitoring services and the internet's perpetual deadline breathing down your neck all day and night.

She has also started to quote politicians in Alan Ramsay-sized chunks, to pad out the space between the meaningless guff in her column.

This from Miranda "Nice Now" Devine to finish :

How liberating to have time free, instead, to actually think about the important business of running a country, rather than delegating it to unelected public servants. Why didn't someone think of that before?

That's not an ender for a newspaper column, that's not even a bad Letter To Editor. Hell, it's not even shitty blog post quality. It's the kind of pap someone mutters to you late at night at a party that causes you to wander away, if only to stare at a fish tank.

The problem is if people really do want Nice now, and there sure are plenty of Baby Boomer-focused stories trying to be reassuring that Generation Y are actually quite nice, Miranda "Nice Now" Devine has trouble doing Nice.

But maybe she has no choice but to try.

On Friday, she had to suffer the indignity of having the following published in the Sydney Morning Herald, despite the Press Council deciding that her advice to hang greenies from lamposts in revenge for the Victoria Fires was not any kind of hate speech they'd ever heard of :

The article presented, in strong terms, Ms Devine's view that poor forest management practices resulting from "the power of green ideology" were a key driver in the scale and ferocity of the Victorian bushfires that devastated a number of communities and caused large-scale loss of life.

The complainants asserted that the article breached a number of Press Council principles. They described the piece, which was headlined "Green ideas must take blame for deaths", as a highly derogatory polemic capable of inciting some people "to threaten, or even commit, acts of hatred or violence". They took particular exception to the hyperbolic suggestion that politicians seeking to divert attention from themselves could offer a new target for a lynch mob: "It is not arsonists who should be hanging from lamp-posts but greenies."

The Herald acknowledged concerns about some of the language in Ms Devine's column and expressed regret at any offence taken.

In its defence the newspaper claimed that the hyperbole employed by Ms Devine was part of her "robust, lively and sometimes provocative" writing style.

"Lively and sometimes provocative."

And yet, and so, Miranda "Nice Now" Devine was born.


Flashbackery : Miranda Devine's column where she raged against the people of the cyclone-shattered people of Innisfail for daring to tell John Howard to Fuck Off when he came to pay a visit, stirred up the local papers of Far North Queensland, and she was poignantly corrected, along with being relentlessly lampooned as a rich Sydney sider, sitting around sippiing Moet while immigrant gardeners worked on the hedges, who had no idea of what they lived through, and what they were trying to rebuild from.

Miranda Devine became, and remains, to the readers of the Townsville Bulletin 'Moet' Miranda.

Townsville Bulletin editor, John Andersen :

But, if they wanted to complain, so what? They'd just been through hell. They were despairing. They were in varying degrees of shock, but not one of them played the blame game. They were just glad to be alive. Maybe if Miranda had gone to Innisfail and spoken to some of the people who had been 'Larried' she might have taken a different view.

But, gee, why would you leave Cremorne (Miranda's hometown) where you can sip on Moet and watch it on the telly?"

Moet Miranda. This nickname absolutely irritated her enough to write the following classic screed in just one of the comments section filled with hilarious mockery at the Townsville Bulletin, back then :
"Your poor excuse for a journalist, John Andersen, has invented facts and verballed me in his column, `Low blow from Sydney'. I do not live in Cremorne. Nor do I have a maid. I did not use the word `hillbilly' to refer to North Queenslanders. And Laotians in Sydney are not consigned to`trimming the hedges and washing the socks of the rich'.

"He has concocted a bizarre fantasy that Sydney is peopled exclusively by wealthy people and their immigrant servants, and that I sit around drinking Moet for a living. This fiction appears to have been accepted as truth by some of your more gullible readers. I don't think inventing facts is any more acceptable for journalists in Townsville than it is in Sydney so I expect a correction."

The Townsville Bulletin never published a correction, and editor John Andersen was still laughing about the whole thing months later.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Don't Try And Justify It, Just Admit You Fell Hook, Line And Sinker For A Prank Precisely Aimed At Twitter-Sourcing Media Exactly Like You

Richard Wilkins says it himself, "I haven't had time to check it out."

Well, why in fuck did you report it as fact?

They read about Jeff Goldblum's supposed death a few minutes before on the same place I read about it : Twitter.

The reason why this hoax worked, for an embarrassingly large amount of media around the world, is because the hoaxer had the sense to make the short fake report read like something off Reuters, and included the phrase "New Zealand police have confirmed"....

That was good enough for the producers of the Today Show, and Richard Wilkins.

The backtrack and retraction about ten minutes later was even more humiliating.
Conroy's Net Filter Will Block Access To E-Bay And Amazon

By Darryl Mason

If That Net Censor Guy, Stephen Conroy, wants to stop all Australians from visiting websites that sell games that are not allowed by law to be sold in Australian shops, Stephen Conroy will have no choice but to block web access to both Amazon and E-Bay, which ship thousands of R18+ games to Australian gamers every month.

Asher Moses :

The Federal Government has now set its sights on gamers, promising to use its internet censorship regime to block websites hosting and selling video games that are not suitable for 15 year olds.

Australia is the only developed country without an R18+ classification for games, meaning any titles that do not meet the MA15+ standard - such as those with excessive violence or sexual content - are simply banned from sale by the Classification Board, unless they are modified to remove the offending content.

So far, this has only applied to local bricks-and-mortar stores selling physical copies of games, but a spokesman for Senator Conroy confirmed that under the filtering plan, it will be extended to downloadable games, flash-based web games and sites which sell physical copies of games that do not meet the MA15+ standard.

Sites like Amazon and E-Bay.

That should go down well.

The average age of an Australian gamer is 30 years old.

Conroy should be careful. He doesn't want to get millions of Australian gamers and daily internet users offside anymore than he already has, particularly if an election is drawing near.

If the Rudd government doesn't already know this, they should, but they don't want to make internet censorship and the way they constantly fuck with gamers into election issues, because they can easily be made into Big Election Issues, particularly for Labor voters in their 30s and 40s.

The Greens already know this.

Likewise, Labor has to be careful in their plans to crack down on so-called online piracy and peer to peer file sharing. Cutting off the internet access of, or pursuing prosecutions against, some 40 year old single mother who downloads a digital copy of an album she has already brought on vinyl and/or CD will be the kind of Big Ugly that no-one in Labor wants to find themselves associated with.

They won't even have to go that far. There's a few hundred thousand Australians who regularly use file-sharing sites like The Pirate Bay, and they will be extremely displeased if there comes a day when they visit those sites (to download games that they're not allowed to buy in Australia) and they find that Stephen Conroy has blocked their access. Everyone will know very, very quickly that the Rudd government is responsible.

An independent running in the early 2010 federal election fighting against internet censorship and for the rights of gamers and file sharers, might find themselves a particularly large and surprising number of former Labor voters giving them the big tick.

That's if The Greens, by then, aren't already all over those fundamental issues of digital reality rights. And they probably will be.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wallabies Love Tasmanian Opium, So Do The Deer And Sheep

By Darryl Mason

Across Australia today, many thousands of illegal and legal opiate admirers and junkies will read this story and mutter "lucky wallabies" :
Wallabies are breaking into Tasmania's poppy fields and getting high.

The strange occurrence that was revealed in a State Government Budget Estimates hearing, has also solved what some growers say has spurred a campfire legend about mysterious crop circles that appear in northern Tasmania's poppy paddocks.

In true X-Files-style, Attorney-General Lara Giddings said the drugged out wallabies had been found hopping around in circles squashing the poppies, creating the formations – and hence solving the mystery.
Don't be distracted by this talk of crop circles. They've got a serious smack wallaby problem on their hands, and word of the free supply of very magic flowers is spreading amongst other animal communities :
Tasmanian Alkaloids field operations manager Rick Rockliff said wildlife and livestock that ate the poppies were known to "act weird" including deer in the state's highlands and sheep.

"...as growers we try our best to try and stop this sort of consumption particularly by livestock due to concerns about the contamination of the meat.
Wait a second, there might be a decent new market ready to open up for opium-marinated lamb. Somebody call the Agriculture Minister.
"....there has been a steady increase in the number of wild animals and that is where we are having difficulty keeping them off our land."
Uh Oh. They have got a serious problem.

How do you protect thousands of acres of opium crops from wave after wave of wallaby, sheep and deer, driven mad by nerve-stripping opium withdrawals, purely fixated on the irresistible pods they know they must immediately consume. How do you stop that?

They're going to need bigger fences.

Tasmanians should be aware of crazed cold turkeying fauna leaping through the bedroom window and heading for the jewelry collection.

UPDATE : The AdelaideNow site has to win some sort of award for giving this internationally popular story this brilliant headline :

The Chas(er)tened

By Darryl Mason

They complain when you go too far, and they complain when you don't go far enough :

Here's the Herald Sun's Chaser specialist Colin Vickery asking the "burning question" :

Has The Chaser team gone soft? That's the burning question after last night's edition of The War on Everything.

The Chaser
boys - Andrew Hansen, Chas Licciardello, Julian Morrow, Craig Reucassel and Chris Taylor - looked tentative after being thrown off air by the ABC for two weeks.
He wasn't watching too closely, perhaps distracted by the State Of Origin :
A much-publicised dig at the Moran family didn’t make it to air.
The Moran family dig did air, it was fast and close to the start.
So where does The Chaser go from here? The world has changed a lot in the two years since the team’s last series. Reliable Chaser targets John Howard and George Bush are long gone.

Fear and cynicism have been replaced by a renewed sense of hope and positivity.
Masterchef Australia is held up by Vickery as an example of Australia's "renewed sense of hope and positivity", in the mostly fictional lands of reality TV at least.
A clearly chastened Chaser took aim at some easy targets in last night’s show in an obvious attempt to ensure there was no repeat of the firestorm of protest that came after their Make A Realistic Wish Foundation sketch.
The Herald Sun, and all the online Murdoch tabloids, including The Australia, quite profitably whipped up much of that "Firestorm Of Protest" with a series of Colin Vickery stories that delivered hundreds of thousands of extra page views and thousands of comments over the three or four days they managed to keep the Chaser Makes Fun Of Dying Children sensation alive.

The Murdoch media, like Fairfax, don't just forget about The Chaser because they're not doing anything controversial when stories about them pull so many readers to the news sites. Chaser stories can be almost constantly counted on to feature in the Top Ten Most Read Today lists.

All through the past few years, controversies whipped up, sometimes furiously, by the Murdoch media has resulted in literally hundreds of Chaser stories being published across the Herald Sun, Daily Telegraph, The Australian, the Adelaide Advertiser and the Courier Mail, in print and online. This list of stories from the past two years or so would have generated many millions of page views and tens of thousands of comments. Massive traffic, monumental. And profitable.

You usually need to fake stories about Pauline Hanson getting her tits out to pull those numbers.

The Chaser delivers bigger profit as free content to the Murdoch online media than it delivers to the show's creators and producers through DVD sales.

When you're onto a good thing, Rupert Murdoch would expect you to milk the fucker for everything you can get.

So Colin Vickery had no choice, he had to come up with something Chaser-related.

Even as something as damp and 'aaaahh, whatever' as asking if The Chaser has "finally gone soft".

UPDATE : Herald Sun readers notice the obvious schizophrenia, 95% of commenters point out the blinding hypocrisy.

The Chasers' Wingdings message from last night's very fast, very tight, very fit show has been decoded :
If you actually bothered to translate this you are :

a) clearly unemployed

b) clearly a nerd

c) clearly disappointed by now that it's nothing controversial.
It was familiar of The Simpsons episode where a fast-scrolling list of official apologies from the producers of Kent Brockman's Eye On Springfield whips by. It required hitting slo-mo on the non-digital video recorder when it was originally aired back in the non-YouTube 1990s to catch all the apologies, such as these :
The nerds on the Internet are not geeks.

Our universities are not "hotbeds" of anything.

Cats do not eventually turn into dogs.

The "Bug" on your TV screen can see into your home.
Our viewers are not pathetic sexless food tubes.
In amongst those apologies was this line :
If You're Reading This, You Have No Life

Last night The Chaser dared to air another skit videod on location outside The Vatican. This, like the messasge blimp, featured controversial material.

However, you won't hear representatives of The Catholic Church trying to tear in The Chaser this time. Because to do so means critics and the professionally outraged will have to acknowledge what the piece was about.

The Catholic Church has added 'Excessive Wealth' to its expanded list of The Seven Deadly Sins. So The Chaser asked passing Vatican priests to pray for those suffering from Excessive Wealth, like The Catholic Church, which we learned through the prayers pulls an astounding $15 billion in revenue from Australia each year and $4 trillion from around the world.

You can catch the latest Chaser episode here, including the highlight Ray Martin's Small Talk, where Tim Flannery and Phillip Ruddock convene to discuss, well, not very much at all. I wanted to see more of this small talk, I think I could take about fifteen minutes of it, just before bed.

Who knew Ray Martin could parody himself so effortlessly?

The Chaser's bit about the 'Rudd Safe House', where shattered, trembling ex-staffers of the prime minister can recover and heal safely was good, but they still have a long way to go in getting at Kevin Rudd in the sometimes near hallucinatory ways they got at John Howard in 2006 and 2007 :
....the Chasers, a constant thorn in the then prime minister's side as the election approached. Some of their ambushes of his early morning power walks rose to the level of performance art - one involved a silver Delorean sports car, a mad professor and the promise to take Mr Howard "back to the future" so that he could retire gracefully rather than be forced out by the voters.

The BBC has picked The Chaser to air before the well-matched and already popular Flight Of The Conchords. Getting picked up by the BBC is still a kind of comedy nirvana :
The BBC signed a deal to screen a special six-episode compilation of highlights from The Chaser's War On Everything 2006 and 2007 seasons.
The show is already screening in America, Japan, New Zealand, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Poland, Israel and even Mongolia...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

ASIO : You Can Find All Of Us Right Here, Now Check Out Our Trippy Ad

By Darryl Mason

While Australia's most public spy agency, ASIO, advertises for new recruits ...

....on the same Sydney Morning Herald page as a story finely detailing the public service history of the ever more curious fake email-linked Godwin Grech....

....the ground is about to be broken in Canberra for ASIO's spiffy new headquarters, or 'Central Office'. Here's the exact location of our chief spy agency's new HQ :

Both of those images come from ASIO's own website.

Some more screengrabs of the tall, wide ASIO's recruitment ad in the Herald, reminiscent of William Burrough's word and sentence cut-ups :

William Burroughs
on the cut-up method :

I wonder if you get a special prize from ASIO for deciphering, or re-arranging, the sentences spread across those three ads?
You Can Tell A Lot About A Man By The Size Of His Palm Tree

By Darryl Mason

Sniggling, giggling Murdoch journalists "expose the private life" of Australia's most nervous public servant, Godwin Grech....well, if by expose they mean quoting neighbours talking about what a really nice, hard working, generous guy he is, then yes, consider Grech's private life exposed.

We could all do with having our private lives "exposed" in such flattering terms.

But what the fuck is up with these journos fixation with the palm tree in Godwin Grech's front yard?

...known for living in a house with a big and amusing palm tree in the front garden...

...the palm tree was planted before he moved in.

Are they trying to tell us something they're not legally, or ethically, allowed to say about Godwin Grech's private life?

And if Godwin Grech was attracted to his Canberra home because there's a massive phallic-shaped palm tree dominating the front yard, what the hell does that have to do with his possible involvement in e-mail fakery and a supposed mole leaking to Turnbull & Friends from inside the Treasury?

Well, nothing.

Neither Malcolm Turnbull, Wayne Swan or Kevin Rudd are likely to step down over this Ute & Emails related scandal now consuming five or six hours a day of sitting time in the Parliament, but somebody will have to pay.

It seems increasingly likely that somebody will be Godwin Grech, particularly now Liberal politicians, off the record, are trying to out Grech as 'The Mole' who the Australian Federal Police appear to believe has been leaking info to the Libs for years from inside the Treasury :

The Treasury official at the centre of the OzCar affair, Godwin Grech, has supplied unofficial information to the Coalition, dating back to its days in government, the ABC has learned.

The revelation lifts already intense pressure on Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull to explain how much he knew, and when, about the email forgery that has backfired so spectacularly.

Several Liberals have told the ABC they believe Mr Grech has been supplying information to Mr Turnbull, and one says he knows it to be the case. However, the nature of that information is not known.


The Australian Federal Police yesterday raided Mr Grech's home, uncovered the email and declared it a fake. They suspect Mr Grech was involved in creating it.

The ABC understands that Mr Grech will also be questioned about other leaks from Treasury.

The AFP has been "quietly watching Treasury for a while" and senior Government ministers are convinced there is at least one mole in the department.

If you think this Ute & Email related scandal has been nasty so far, you haven't seen anything yet.

Political careers are on the line, and the hysteria in Parliament will be even worse today, particularly after Joe Hockey's woeful, sweaty-lipped interview with Tony Jones on Lateline last night, where he demanded that journalists should reveal their sources if politicians like himself are expected to reveal theirs.

Tony Jones sliced up Hockey like sashimi, and it was only halfway during the interview, when the sweat began to concentrate on his upper lip and he had trouble swallowing, that Joe Hockey apparently realised that AFP officers would be watching Lateline and noting down his reaction to everything Jones hit him with about Liberal-friendly leakers inside the Treasury and his decade old association with Godwin Grech. And Jones hit with a lot (I'll come back to this when the transcript is up), but probably not everything Jones already knows. Why blow tonight's lead story on Lateline on an interview with Hockey?

Godwin Grech will not be sleeping easy.

Unlike prime minister Kevin Rudd, who is no doubt keeping his wife and neighbours awake with his endless, howling laughter at just how spectacularly, hilariously, this whole scandal has blown up in the face of Malcolm Turnbull.

Media Watch has a very short, but detailed, round up
of the scandal so far, focusing it as should on the one element most of the media has shied away from so far : the role of the media in this scandal, and in particular, Sydney's Daily Telegraph.

Correction : an earlier version of this story said Malcolm Farr was responsible for the Daily Telegraph piece about Godwin Grech's "amusing palm tree". He wasn't. The story's byline now reads 'By Janet Fife-Yeomans and Alison Rehn'.

Gillard : Democracy Via Guns & Bombs Doesn't Work

Deputy prime minister Julia Gillard speaking in Israel :

We have learned from Iraq and Afghanistan that democracy cannot be imposed by force, however strongly its proponents believe in its ideals.

Instead, the rule of law and the rights of conscience and free participation must emerge, guided and shaped by leadership, by exchange in all its forms and by institutions built to be fit for purpose.
The Australian government won't be backing any military action against Iran, and Gillard appears to have told Israel's leaders this is the Australian government's position, as another 'colour revolution' heads towards inevitably greater violence and death in the streets of Tehran.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

When Police Beating Protesters Is Funny, Right And Entertaining

By Darryl Mason

As thousands of videos from nine days of protests in Iran flood YouTube and news sites across the world, showing horrendous scenes of the vicious beatings of those who feel cheated out of democracy, it seems like only yesterday that The Daily Telegraph's Tim Blair's droogies were happily, enthusiastically, celebrating police state violence against peaceful protesters :
Paco of Occupied Northern Virginia - "It looks like that policeman gave the fellow a juicy one, right on his ugly map. And he seems to have enjoyed doing it. Bit of all right, I say "

Sonny Fabich - "Giving them PLENTY OF TRUNCHEON! Good to see - it’s a pity our gutless coppers won’t do the same"

Winston Smith of VRWC Pty Ltd - "Excellent stuff, sir! These protesting idiots are behaving as if they are above the law. Right up until they cross the line and meet the cold hard wall of reality. Then some w***er says they have the right to behave in this fashion. I know a fifth columnist and their supporter when I see one, jail the bloody lot"

Daniel Lewis - "Yep. And when arrested, they will always scream at the top of their lungs, 'Ow, you are breaking my arm, stop it, stop it please' for the later benefit of Youtube. Naturally what happened before the arrest is missed. You know, because the camera wasn’t on yet. It’s straight out of the Indymedia playbook and pretty pathetic. If you are going to get into a punchup, you should at least be hard enough to cop it."

Ann J. - "The presence of the media, particularly the photographers, did a lot to encourage the mayhem."

Mitch of Massachusetts, USA - "I believe the euphemism for this type of police work is “informal sanctions.” In other words, it is not worth anyone’s time or trouble to cuff and book the clown, so the police find a way of discouraging any repetition of the behavior without creating a lot of paperwork. It all happens off the books, so to speak, so the recreant is properly admonished but does not have a permanent criminal record. Assuming the procedure leaves him with as many teeth as he started with, he should be grateful. It works wonders when administered wisely."

Carpe Jugulum - "....hope he followed up with a suitable bodyshot.....just to be sure. It’s always good to see a fellow enjoying his work."

They must be really getting off on all those scenes of women being beaten by truncheon-wielding police and security forces in the streets of Tehran.
If Only Kevin Rudd Was Carrying A Plastic Turkey

No journo at the Daily Telegraph was willing to put their name in the byline of this asinine fluff :

The sideways glance can speak a thousand words.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has had a trying few days as he and Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull have engaged in an ugly political scrap resulting in both calling for the other's resignation.

Therese Rein is a woman clearly committed to her husband's long-term success. But did her composure slip for a few seconds on Sunday as she left her Canberra church? Did we glimpse an expression that said she was stressed, weary and unimpressed? Is Utegate - the issue of whether or not her husband helped out an Ipswich car dealer - wearing a little thin on her?
The Daily Telegraph 'story' doesn't bother to answer any of those questions.

Here's a couple of more pertinent questions :

Was that absurd guff from the Daily Telegraph some kind of hopeless attempt to ferment speculation that 'Utegate'-related pressure is causing problems in the prime minister's marriage?

Is the Telegraph really that desperate to try and distract from the fact that its promotion of fake e-mailery has helped to further destabilise and will probably, ultimately, lead to the destruction of Malcolm Turnbull's leadership of the Opposition?

A sideways glance may "speak a thousand words", but even with copious fluffing, Therese Rein's bored look at her husband was only worth 165 words to the Daily Telegraph.
We're Not As Stoned As We Thought We Were

Even Media Watch has noticed that stories about cannabis, and cannabis users, pull the eyeballs - half-closed, slightly bloodshot, reality-redefining eyeballs.

They take a look at the statistics behind these extraordinary claims from a recent story in the Sydney Morning Herald :
"One in three people have used marijuana and about one in six are addicted..."

"...up to a quarter of people aged over 30 were smoking cannabis weekly and one in five were smoking it daily."
Media Watch rewrites the lead, based on a more accurate interpretation of the 2004 National Drug Strategy Household Survey statistics the Herald used for its story :
"The 2004 National Drug Strategy Household Survey found that one in 25 people aged between 30 and 39 were smoking cannabis weekly and one in 30 were smoking it daily."
Well, that reality check isn't going to help the daily commuting, daily stoned paranoidians to mellow out now, is it?

When they thought One In Six Australians Were Addicted To Cannabis, and were smoking it daily, they knew could relax on the bus or the train, even when they were forced to sit facing the rest of the commuters, because, well hell, the odds were that out of the 30 or 40 people sharing the train carriage or bus, there had to be at least six or seven pot junkies struggling not to giggle or become overwhelmed with brain-freaking revelations just like they were.

But now they know, thanks to Media Watch, that their original paranoia was in fact correct. They really might be the only one in that bus or train carriage, after all, who is blasted to the Kuiper Belt, and everyone really is staring at them, and knows, yeah they all know, just what kind of 'special cookie' accompanied the morning coffee.

More From Media Watch

Monday, June 22, 2009

There Might Not Be Enough Terrorists To Go Round, But There Will Always Be Plenty Of 'Extremists'

By Darryl Mason

Animal right extremists, anti-coal extremists, green extremists, anti-war extremists, Islamic extremists, anti-abortion extremists, the list of Extremists popping up in our media is growing long.

And the list just got a new addition :
Anti-Flouride extremists have threatened to kill a Victorian Government minister and blow up a regional water authority.

A death threat was left with a bottle of water on the verandah of Ms Neville's house on Saturday night, a Government spokeswoman said.

Anti-fluoride activists have also threatened to blow up Barwon Water's treatment plants as the authority today begins adding fluoride to the water supply in Geelong, 70km southwest of Melbourne.

There is always the possibility, one that you'd expect police to be also pursuing, that a legitimate campaign against the flouridation of Geelong's drinking water is being discredited and sabotaged by provocateurs and infiltrators trying to associate those opposed with violence and death threats.

It certainly wouldn't be the first time.

It's Like The Start Of A Great Horror Movie....

From the news.com.au front page :

That headline might lead you to believe that a crocodile leapt up and grabbed hold of a helicopter's skid and dragged it to the ground.

But no.

The pilot messed up trying to give his sight-seeing passenger a better look at a crocodile they spotted on mudflats 60kms from Darwin.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The War On Iraq : We Won....Wait, They Won...Someone Won....Did Anybody Win?

By Darryl Mason

In November 2007, The Professional Idiot declared :
The War In Iraq Has Been Won
Now, finally, Iraq MP Nuri al-Maliki agrees with The Professional Idiot :
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said Saturday that the U.S. troops' withdrawal from Iraqi cities and towns by the end of this month would be a "great victory" for Iraqis.

"It is a great victory for Iraqis as we are going to take our first step toward ending the foreign presence in Iraq," Maliki said during a conference in Baghdad for leaders of ethnic Turkmen minority.

Hmm, probably not exactly the kind of victory declaration The Professional Idiot was counting on al-Maliki to announce. But then, The Professional Idiot was always living an absurd NeoCon fantasy when it came to Iraq.

This from The Idiot when it seemed, briefly, so many years ago, that President Bush was right, and the War On Iraq had been won almost as soon as it began :
"The war happened, all right, yet there were no refugees, and no huge casualties."
And here's "second stringer" Tim Blair, all but declaring victory before the War On Iraq even began :
John Hawkins: If and when do you see the United States hitting Iraq? How do you think it'll work out?

Tim Blair: It all depends on Iraq’s fearsome Elite Republican Guard. Why, those feisty desert warriors could hold out for minutes. Dozens of US troops will be required. Perhaps they’ll even need their weapons.

Wouldn’t expect it to last long once it happens.

No. not long at all.

Six years, a couple of trillion dollars, 4500 dead CoW troops and a few hundred thousand dead Iraqis.

At least they got rid of Iran's main enemy in the region.

Perhaps one day Tim Blair will get the chance to talk to some of the hundreds of young Australian soldiers who had their minds and emotions fucked by what they saw and experienced in Iraq. I'm sure they'll love to hear his explanation for why it was all worth it, and why he was so keen, all those years ago, to perpetuate the myth that the people of Iraq would cave in so quickly to foreign occupation.
"...those feisty desert warriors could hold out for minutes."
Or more than 3.2 million minutes, and counting.

Oh well, at least Blair got a job at the Daily Telegraph out of it.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


This is more of a Monday morning song, but it can equally apply to a Saturday, if the Friday night is ugly drunk and long enough and family commitments and stupid early rising pets guarantee no sleep in :

And this, I've never seen :

The Angels are back on the road, hitting most states through mid-July to mid-August. All the dates are here.

Friday, June 19, 2009

It May Never Be Fashionable, But It May Save Your Life

When I was a kid, a $5 flanno from Woolies was all you needed to stay warm through an average Western Sydney winter's night of generally running amok. Scarves? Wimp. Gloves? Nancy. Jumpers? Pah.

Apparently the remarkable anti-freeze properties of the basic flanno can still offer life-saving chilly weather protection well in old age :

Search crews say they are "thrilled" and amazed that a 71-year-old man wearing just track pants and a flannelette shirt has been found safe and well after three cold, wet nights lost in the bush.

Bruce "Dick" Ludbrook, 71, who suffers mild dementia, got lost in dense scrub north of Wollongong during his regular afternoon bushwalk on Tuesday.

The fit former coal miner - who was used to walking long distances - endured pouring rain and bitterly cold weather before being found today by a group of motorcyclists near Mt Ousley.

Dr Giordian Fulde, St Vincent's Hospital emergency director, said Mr Ludbrook was "very, very lucky" to have survived his ordeal and risks like hypothermia.

"Somebody being out in flannelete shirt and trackdacks should get into trouble," he said.

The risks for Mr Ludbrook were even higher because maintaining body warmth was even more difficult for the elderly, he said.

Dr Fulde believed Mr Ludbrook's regular long walks would have been crucial to his survival.

Okay, maybe it wasn't just the flanno that saved him from hypothermia. Some credit must go to his fitness level. Ironically, the same wet weather that could have killed through a heart attack brought on by hypothermia supplied the water that stopped the also very dangerous risk of dehydration.

Dr Fulde believed that in order to survive, Mr Ludbrook must also have sought shelter from the rain to keep warm and drunk water from sources in the bush, such as rainwater puddles.

"I think he must have done something sensible," he said. "The most important thing to human beings is water - you can go quite a few days without food but you can't go a long time without water."

A pretty remarkable survival story. It could have easily had a tragic ending.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I've written a bunch of new stories recently over at Your New Reality :

Iran : A New Reality Dawning Fast And Hard

"There Are A Lot Of People Who Lie, And Get Away With It"

How To Kill Bloggers : Take Away Their Anonymity

Richard Nixon On Drugs

A Robot With "Predictive Powers" Will Be Able To Anticipate A Human Being's Reaction To Just About Anything

An American President Manages To Make An Entire Speech In The Middle East Without Using The Words 'Terror" Or "Terrorists" - "Extremists", However, Sure Did Get A Workout
That Freaking Old Hippie Raised HOW MUCH?

By Darryl Mason

There's something much scarier for the Liberal Party than imagining a future without Peter Costello.

It's this :
Senator Brown's so-called Wielangta forest fund had already raised $739,000....
Bob Brown announced, after losing a legal battle against a logging corporation, that if he was unable to pay more than $240,000 in court costs he could face being expelled from the Senate. In less than a week, Brown raised more than three times that figure through thousands of donors.

The Liberals couldn't raise $739,000 through donors that fast, even with a series of dinners starring John Howard and Peter Costello

No wonder the Liberals are so pissed :
Liberal senator Eric Abetz has accused Greens leader Bob Brown of misleading the public over claims he was approaching bankruptcy and could have been expelled from the Senate.

Senator Brown was more likely to be "ethically bankrupt'' than genuinely bankrupt, Senator Abetz said.

"Clearly the senator does not abide by the same accountability rules he so self-righteously insists being imposed on everybody else.''

The Greens leader must now disclose all amounts he has received, when he received them, to whom they were paid and how much money was involved, Senator Abetz told the upper house.

"Be accountable. Immediately disclose to the Senate ... exactly how much your fund raised prior to last week's appeal and disclose and substantiate your progressive and personal legal costs.''

And Bob Brown will do it. They've got nothing on him. It's one of the reasons why Liberals like Abetz hate him so much.

Brown is too clean, too honest, with too little, or nothing at all, to hide.

The Liberals have spent a lot of money over the years trying to get dirt on Brown that they can use against him in the media, or behind the scenes. And they found fuck all.

Abetz is making himself look like a jealous, petty arsehole, while providing Bob Brown with yet another opportunity to show why he is one of the most honest, respected, and quietly admired, politicians in the country.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Harsh Online Reality For The Corporate Media Is That There Simply Isn't Enough Commenters To Go Round

By Darryl Mason

As I've said here before, probably a bit too rudely, this blog doesn't exist for the sake of comments. It doesn't matter to me whether there's 0 comments or 26, the posts will still be written and published.

But what if your online media business model, your basic plan for profitability, relied deathly on having dozens or hundreds of commenters spilling their thoughts and opinions on every story or opinion piece posted on your website?

The Murdoch Online Experience has already launched The Punch, and now, as Mumbrella reports, Fairfax are going to have their shot at creating an online aggregator site for its stable of digital newspapers, with a steady stream of commenters being seen as essential to push those daily hits into the five and six digit page view counts that advertisers like to see.

Unlike The Punch, however, who've made the effort to recruit writers who aren't already writing for other Murdoch media, The National Times is expected to fill itself out with opinion pieces already published elsewhere in Fairfax's digital newspapers.

As usual, I found it easier to put my thoughts together on this while commenting at another blog. So here's the comment I left at Mumbrella :

The Punch has had some interesting columns so far, but nothing that has set fire to the comments boards. It seems overall quite safe and pedestrian. For now at least. Nothing controversial, nothing that you don't already see in mainstream newspaper columns and op-eds. If the aim is too have a "national conversation", the convo has been damn quite with most posts in the past week pulling 0 to 6 but rarely 10 or more comments.If people who visit can't be arsed to comment, why will they want to eventually pay for it?

A huge turnover in comments, in the hundreds for each or most posts, is what The Punch needs to ramp up the hits, obviously. But how are they going to do that? Where is that hardcore crowd of a few hundred who will burn up the boards like they do at Piers Akerman's or Andrew Bolt's blog going to come from? .

The problem, as Fairfax will soon find out, is that there are a limited number of Australians who bother to comment on any story or column or blog post anywhere online, particularly when the content is centred around politics or culture or news events.

Even if you do like to comment on what you're reading, there are so many places to do so elsewhere, from Facebook to YouTube to Twitter to ten thousand more fun to read and riotous blogs elsewhere in the world.

The Punch has discovered that regular commenters for blogs and news sites that aren't stirring up racism and xenophobia and general hate, or raging about Israel and Palestinians, are pretty thin on the ground in Australia.

There might even be as few as three or four thousand in Australia who will write comments on local political/cultural blogs and news sites most days, as a habitt, not including those who are paid to professionally comment by PR companies and political parties.

There's no shortage of places to Have Your Say on Australian blogs and news sites now, but there is most definitely a shortage of normal everyday Australian commenters. The Punch now knows this, the National Times will most likely learn that too, very soon.

There are a few good free ways for corporate media sites like The Punch and National Times to pull quality and volume-high comments to their sites, but why give away good ideas like that?
Australian Troops Have Shot, Killed Dozens Of Civilians In Iraq & Afghanistan

According to this story, more than $350,000 has been paid out by the Australian government to Iraqi and Afghan families who've had family members killed or wounded by soldiers :

Dozens of non-combatants have been shot by Diggers since the Iraq campaign began in April 2003.

Rapid "act of grace" payments can prevent revenge attacks. Defence refuses to divulge how much is paid to each family but has told The Daily Telegraph $126,442 had so far been paid out to Afghani families.

The amount covers more than 20 individuals for an average of about $6000 each. The overall figure for Iraq is $216,417 for about 10 incidents and could climb before Australia's combat involvement in Iraq finally ceases next month.

The Full Story Is Here

If It's Not Swine Flu, Then What The Hell Is Going On?

By Darryl Mason

Why are so many people having so much trouble breathing normally?

The president of the Australian Medical Association Victoria, Harry Hemley, said doctors had been overwhelmed with people suffering respiratory infections in recent weeks.

"I would say about one-third of the population has some sort of upper respiratory infection right now, but I can't say how many of those have swine flu," he said.

So if it's not swine flu, and pollution levels in Australian cities are not causing this, then what is responsible?

The Australian government likes to boast about its 'one of the best in the world' stockpile of anti-virals, gloves and facemasks, but it seems reluctant to let them go to the front line Australians who need them the most :

Dr Hemley said many GPs had been exposed to the virus while caring for patients because protective equipment released from the Federal Government's stockpile had not yet arrived.

More than 1500 Australians are officially categorised as having been infected with Influenza A H1N1 by Monday morning, but the real figure is expected to be many thousands more.

The New Flu has already spread so far and wide across Australia that Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, has announced they're bailing on widespread testing and hardcore quarantine measures. They're not going to stop the spread, they know it, as the American Centre For Disease Control knew and admitted more than a month ago. Quarantining rugby league players and cruise ships was just "buying some more time", no time at all as it turns out.

The Great Hope that the Rudd government will sell this week instead is the August release of a supposed vaccine against swine flu. Well, a vaccine against the swine flu virus that is rapidly spreading now, and it may well mutate further by the time August rolls around, which would render the prepared vaccine not so effective, or downright useless.

Those with pre-existing health conditions, children and the elderly are expected to be the more likely to suffer seriously from the New Flu, though many of the deaths already reported from the virus in the US and Mexico seem to centre around people aged between 5 and 30 years old.

Nicola Roxon said that infected Australians who were now in intensive care were mostly those who were already suffering "respiratory illnesses."

And doctors are reportedly overwhelmed with "people suffering respiratory infections".

So, you have all these people apparently already suffering from respiratory problems while a fast-spreading previously unknown influenza virus seems to be hitting the hardest those already having trouble breathing normally.

It's a hell of a way for a country to head into Winter, and its peak flu months.

We are now only entering the second week of a new pandemic reality, one that may take 18 months to two years or more to unfold.

While the Rudd government will try to be seen as doing Everything It Can, the curious new influenza strain will do whatever it's going to do, mostly unhindered, for the next few months at least, by vaccines and containment measures.

How do you go to war against something that can spawn three generations of itself in under 60 seconds?

If you can't get your hands on pharmaceutical anti-virals, star aniseed is better than nothing, and some would argue far better in fact than the side-effect addled Tamiflu.