Sunday, January 21, 2024

Rupert Murdoch Was Sent To Oxford University In 1950 To Dodge Australian Military Service

 Rupert Murdoch Was Sent To Oxford University In 1950 To Dodge Australian Military Service

Sydney Tribune, June, 1950: 

"Wealthy press monopolist Sir Keith Murdoch,who urges through his chain of newspapers the sending of her people's sons to die in Malaya for monopoly profits and the crushing of national independence, is taking his own son Rupert to England to be enrolled at Oxford University. Apparently Sir Keith, like US politician Clarence Cannon, believes in sending other boys "into the holocaust so we won't have to send our own boys."

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Magpie In Wakki Records Studio

Photo By Darryl Mason

 Magpies hung around Wakki Studios at Wakki Beach, New South Wales, so often they ended up singing on songs. 

Green Turtle Tracks At Dawn

Photo By Darryl Mason

 Green turtle tracks at dawn. Photo by Darryl Mason

Never Get Out Of The Boat

Northern Territory, 2008. Still have nightmares about my boot sinking into that mud and the mud not letting go, felt like it was pulling me in, holding me in place for Mr Chompy there.

Friday, July 29, 2022

Angus In The Outback - A.I. Art by Darryl Mason

By Darryl Mason

'Angus In The Outback' began as a fun prompt on the first A.I. Art software I got to trial in 2020. I liked the idea of a painter like Sidney Nolan or Brett Whiteley being inspired to capture such an Australian icon in the stunning landscapes of this country. 

Every new A.I. Art software I got to test or trial, I used the same prompt to see what this algorithmic compiler of new images could come up with. Sometimes they were fairly normal looking attempts at portraiture, which wasn't what I was looking for.  I wanted the stuff humans wouldn't think to paint or draw, as solutions to restrictions placed upon algorithmic image makers. Like this one below: they can't show people smoking, but Angus smokes in many of the source images the algo uses. So the mouth and cigarette become a part of the wall, or background. 

There's nothing particular special or unusual about this one, but I just liked it, so I kept it. I tried some changes, but any attempt to 'fix' the face in Photoshop made it look less Angus, so I left it.

It's new tech, this is still the early days. If I'm able to still do this with a famous person like Angus Young in a year or two, the results will be stunningly life-like. So in these early days, not every attempt at Angus's face worked, or even came close. But even from unusable images, I still pulled interesting details like the one below.

The 'Angus In The Outback' series totals about 400 images now, and that's after deleting the ones that definitely didn't work, or were just weird or warped to share. This one falls into the Interesting file for me; you can barely see Angus in all the 'paint' but his face and larger school hat are still there. 

I didn't paint these. I prompted them into existence and then cleaned them up, or fine-tuned them, to varying degrees. Some were only 10 or 15 minutes work, others took hours. I have trouble remembering now which ones were almost complete in creation, and the ones that I kept playing with for 3 or 4 hours, or over a couple of days. 

AI Art app Wombo Dream had trouble keeping Angus and the Ned Kelly of famous Sidney Nolan paintings separate, and merged them, so I got 'Angus Young As Ned Kelly In The Outback.' 

And occasionally, AI Art decided to just do a landscape based around the rocking elements of Angus Young and created amazing images like this. What's going on here? I don't really know, but I like it.

I'll add more to this collection soon. 

I should note many of these were made a year ago, or more, and that's already an eternity in AI development. If I go back today to the same AI Art apps, I won't get images like these from the 'Angus In The Outback' prompts I originally used. Again, I don't think these are masterpieces, but I do like them, and I've got some printed out and hanging up. I'm not bored with them yet. 

Friday, February 28, 2020


By Darryl Mason

In images below, you will find the first lengthy newspaper report published in London, in March 1789, of the First Fleet arriving in Botany Bay in January, 1788. Scattered across other early 1789 issues of the Times of London are letters, editorials, blasting the sending of "slaves to New Holland." Debate raged on whether it was right or wrong to participate in the "white slave trade" when other countries were beginning to abolish such servitude. The morality of human cargo was quite the dinner table conversation amongst the London establishment.

The account below, and rewrites of it in other London newspapers of the era, was published to spread the 'good news' about what England was doing in a yet another 'new land', on the other side of the world, already inhabited and in use by First Nations people for 'untold centuries'.

This can be a little difficult to read, remembering that some of the letters that look like 'f' are actually 's'. It's worth reading it a few times, your brain will adjust.

While the "natives" are barely mentioned, do note in the above passage the use of convicts as human shields for the officer class in first attempts at communicating with people who clearly wanted to be left alone, and how the deaths of two convicts, and near starvation of the third, were used as Examples to other convicts on what would most definitely happen to all of them if they tried to run away before building the new town.

Some animals on board were smarter. After seeing their fellow cows die "during their passage," the cows that landed in the new land were out of there straight away. They bailed. They didn't know what their futures held out there, but they wanted to be as far away from First Fleeters as possible:

"...after their land, strayed so far in the woods as to be irrecoverably lost."

That was the first major, detailed, newspaper story, such as it is, of how the First Fleet landing and the beginning of the English and European occupation had unfolded. This Times of London story would have been read and absorbed, at the same time, for the first time, by royal family members, bankers, politicians, lawyers, traders, doctors, the sprawl of English establishment, along with 1000s of the literate poor.

The above story was the first and lasting impression of what this newly invaded land had to offer. The Narrative was set, in print, and in patriotic legend.

Source: London Times, March 27, 1789

Saturday, February 22, 2020

A Guide To The Australian Pandemic - The Last One And This One

What To Expect In An Australian Pandemic: Villages, Towns, Cities Quarantined...Churches, Schools, Workplaces Shut Down...Social Chaos...Food And Medical Shortages...Normal Life Ceases...100,000+ Australians Dead...Mobile Healthcheck Teams...Die In Your Homes

By Darryl Mason

Tony Abbott was Australia's Health Minister when Avian Flu threatened to become a global pandemic, in late 2005. The Howard Govt took the threat, and the advice of the World Health Organisation, seriously enough. They prepared. They had plans, and made them public. There was a Influenza Pandemic Worst Case Scenario and Tony Abbott was one of the ministers dispatched to the media to Get The Message Out.

Which he did. In some nighmarish late night TV interviews about "The Biological Tsunami", Tony Abbott stepped his way through the "inevitable" and very deadly influenza pandemic Australians would have to eventually face, and deal with.

If you thought he was rough as guts as Prime Minister, in 2005 Health Minister Tony Abbott was even more raw. He spilled on his knowledge from briefings on what The Worse Case Pandemic Scenario would look like in a kind of shocked awe. The scope of how daily life would be transformed in Australia during the "inevitable" influenza pandemic in the 21st century seemed to overload his mind.
"We don't know when a pandemic might happen, but if one does happen it will be a public health disaster, the magnitude of which this country has not seen at least since 1919 when we had the last flu pandemic."
Abbott expected a new, more virulent influenza pandemic in Australia to become a "Public Health Disaster" when he was Health Minister. He admitted to this, on TV. How prepared is the Morrison Govt today, in 2020, for a COVID-19 pandemic? 

On 'Australia During A Pandemic', Tony Abbott in 2005 blurted a The Scenario the Americans had put together (presumably via the Centre for Disease Control) and on which he said he'd been thoroughly briefed:
"(in the scenario) medical facilities couldn't cope and there was widespread social breakdown, as people abandoned their posts concerned about their health. 
"Now this is a pretty scary scenario, and just so people don't think it is entirely in the realm of science fiction - back in 1919, Australia had a Spanish flu pandemic outbreak and that killed some 13,000 Australians, in a then population of about 4 million and at different times in the first half of 1919, schools were closed, churches were closed, places of public gathering were off limits. Normal life had pretty much ceased in large parts of Australia. We have little folk memory of this though..."
The actual Australian death toll may have been closer to 25,000, by the time the virus seemed to have faded away in the early 1920s, as human immune systems adapted.

In 1919, when at least 15,000 Australians died from the virus, the annual death rate of the nation jumped by 25%.

But Abbott was right about the rest. Most Australian families have no, or little generational memory, of 'The Great Influenza/Spanish Flu' Australian Pandemic 100 years ago. It was never up for much discussion around the dinner tables.

When 'The Great Influenza' reached Australia in 1919, schools, churches, concert halls, theatres, train stations, public squares, pubs, were all locked down. Farms, factories and city business districts ground to a halt as people fled to the country to escape the pandemic. They only succeeded in transporting the virus to rural Australia, where it killed as effortlessly as it had in heavily populated city centres.

What did "abandoning their posts" actually mean in 1919? It meant police, soldiers, firefighters, ambulance drivers, nurses, medical professionals eventually having to choose between caring for sick family members at home, or those in public care. Or leaving when they themselves became sick.

Abbott raised this the 'abandonment of posts' in 2005 because the American Worst Case Scenario proposed the same would happen in the 21st Century, in the United States and Australia.

'The Great Influenza' or falsely named 'Spanish Flu', swept the globe from 1918 to early 1920. Quarantine systems in Australia did delay the arrival of a vast spread of the new virus for a few months.

More than 300 Australian soldiers who had somehow survived the European slaughter fields of World War I died from the influenza pandemic within weeks or months of finally making it home.

The extraordinary global death toll as more than one-third of the world's population became infected, killing some 80 million or more people, saw the loss of so many essential workers, doctors, hospital workers, nurses, police, public servants, teachers, production line workers, welders, craftspeople and children, the impacts rapidly transformed 20th century society in the West, and saw the surviving workers in the industrialised world become, suddenly, very valuable and not so disposable anymore. The politics of all Western countries were impacted by The Great Influenza, not only because of the death tolls, economic impacts, but because politicians, their advisers, their donors, died along with the rest of the people.

There was little warning before The Great Influenza exploded into reality. Unlike most flu epidemics in the 1800s, this one killed without discrimination. It laid waste to infants, old people, healthy young men.

Here's how The Times of London dealt with the rising panic about the spread of The Great Influenza in early 1919, shortly before the virus rapidly killed 200,000+ across the United Kingdom:

If you caught The Great Influenza H1N1 virus, death could come within a matter of days. Your lungs filled with fluid, as your immune system battled the invader and overdid the defences. Survivors described H1N1-affected lungs as 'like trying to breathe through wet sand.' There was no cure.

Back then, for the first year, they didn't even know what exactly was killing millions of people. Was it a virus? Many experts thought it was a bacterium. A conspiracy theory raged in the the Allied nations of World War I that the Germans had invented a biological bomb in revenge for losing 'The Great War'.

In 1919-1920, doctors, hospitals, morgues and graveyards were overwhelmed by the endless casualties. In the US city of Philadelphia, 5000 people died in one week. Mass rioting broke out, whole streets full of cramped dwellings were torched and corpses were piled in mounds a dozen bodies high. They were tossed into carts and transported to mass burial sites. This was the United States in the age of cinema and radio.

In some European cities, entire towns were burned to the ground, with the dying still in their homes, to try and contain the spread of the virulent flu. Ships at sea were blocked from entering ports and became "floating caskets." Other ships were torched in harbours before passengers could get to land.

'The Great Influenza' is believed now to have originated in animals (chickens and/or pigs) but mutated quickly and crossed over into humans. A Kansas farm next to a military base is now often cited as The Great Influenza's Ground Zero.

The influenza virus mutating, plus a lack of capable medical facilities, unsanitary hospitals, towns and cities, a shortage of doctors and nurses, also helped the 1918-19 death toll to move into the tens of millions, globally.

And yet, there are few countries in the world today that can honestly claim to have a universal public health system that could cope with a full-blown influenza pandemic, like COVID-19. There aren't enough hospital beds, or isolation wards.

In Australia in 1918-1920, after hospitals were overwhelmed, as was common around the world, the infected were quarantined in their homes and left to live or die. You were either going to make it, or not.

The way govts of 2020 will cope with a COVID-19 Pandemic are not so distant from 100 years ago. As we've already seen in China, Japan, Korea and Iran, the United States and Italy, and other countries, by mid-February, 2020. Home quarantines and 1000s isolated in 'Medical Care Camps' outside of major cities has quickly became normal, as they did in 1919. And now, as back then, deaths outside of hospitals or medical facilities are forgotten, missed or ignored, left off the official numbers.

In one late night, chilling interview, in 2005, Health Minister Tony Abbott revealed the federal govt expected and feared a 'beyond normal' flu pandemic could kill more than 100,000 Australians: 
"A pandemic if it hits Australia and it is of the severity of the 1918 outbreak, will potentially kill many thousands of people and it's hard to imagine any terrorist attack - short of a nuclear bomb in a major city - that would have a comparable impact. 
"Back in the time of the Spanish flu there was much less international travel, people coming to Australia had to arrive by ship. Thanks to the then Commonwealth quarantine authorities we were quite effectively protected for many months. Certainly New Zealand, which put a much less stringent system of quarantine in place, was impacted very early and had about double the death rate of the flu outbreak in Australia, which is why in New Zealand they have a stronger folk memory of this than we do. 
"We have plans for an escalating health response, including mobile teams, home quarantine, home treatment, so that only the very serious cases have to go to public hospitals. We would certainly be alerting people to the potential dangers of doing certain sorts of things. Whether we needed to close down public institutions would depend upon the virulence of the virus and who was most susceptible to it."
In 2020, it's become a bit more obvious the limits to which the spread of a highly contagious new influenza virus can be contained, by any method, particularly when it can hide away inside a new human host for up to a month, rendering the host infectious before symptoms begin to show, like the COVID-19 strain is now believed to do. And this is all before the new virus has undergone any dramatic mutation. 'The Great Influenza' began its killing spree in 1918. The vast majority of deaths came in 1919, after the H1N1 virus had mutated.

If it feels like some govts are already in a 'Hey Man, Flu's Gonna Do What The Flu's Gotta Do' headspace, that may not be far wrong. 

Maybe the biggest cities in the US, Europe, Australia, the UK are planning to shut down for a month or two or more, and are prepared to take a massive economic hit, like China has. Maybe the 2020 Olympics will be cancelled. 

Or maybe these govts won't do that. Maybe they won't inflict extended mass disruption on their people and their economies.

Maybe our Western govts already at 'Flu's Gonna Do What Flu's Gotta Do.' because some of their experts and advisers are telling them that even shutting down cities is an an action that will, ultimately, have only a limited effect on stopping the new influenza strain eventually reaching most people on the planet.

As the COVID-19 influenza virus clearly intends to do. 


Tony Abbott interview quotes, September, 2005:

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Twitter Flashback: 2010 - The Age Newspaper Sacks "Outrageous" Columnist Over Logies Tweets

Twitter Flashback.


May, 2010: The Melbourne Age newspaper has fired one of Australia's most successful comediasn for using her Twitter feed to snark hard on the Logie Awards, and its participants.

Dullards and wankstains from 2GB, 3AW and crimelord Rupert Murdoch's Herald Sun, Daily Telegraph, Courier Mail, The Australian (media that employs people to scan celebrities Twitter feeds as a full-time job) went in hard and chanted in unison Fairfax had to fire Deveny, while News Corp created, launched and ran a Boycott The Age Advertisers/Cancel Your Subscription campaign, across Murdoch newspapers, nationwide.

Of course The Age caved in. They fired Deveny.

Deveny responded she was using satire "to expose celebrity raunch culture and the sexual objectification of women, which is rife on the red carpet".

"It was just passing notes in class, but suddenly these notes are being projected into the sky and taken out of context," she said.

This wasn't Deveny's first Twitter crime against all that was still good and sacred in Australian media, and all that they held sacred.A week earlier, Australia's conservative media got all frothy and furious because Deveny tweeted:

"Anzac Day shits me."

Deveny: "People who are offended by tweets are probably the same people who find Hey Hey funny, a show that I find deeply offensive."

Deveny said, in 2010, most of the public, and older journalists, did not understand Twitter.

"Twitter is not a news source, but it is starting to be used as one".

"Six months ago Twitter was just people saying 'Oh my God, I'm so hung-over,'" she said.

"Now really serious people are using Twitter to communicate, people like Richard Dawkins, Peter Singer, the New Scientist.

"It's about everyone assessing the information for themselves. This is a great challenge for us, to have a sophisticated response to the evolution of communication."

Murdoch media goons came over all politically correct in demanding censorship of Deveny, and Rupert Murdoch allowed his newspapers to call for Advertiser Boycotts of Fairfax newspapers if they kept publishing Deveny's work.

Andrew Bolt, Miranda Devine, Piers Akerman, and nearly every big city Murdoch editor, chanted together subscribers to The Age and Sydney Morning Herald should cancel their subscriptions to 'show Fairfax this can't be tolerated.'

This was Paul Ramadge, editor of The Age in 2010, explaining why he caved into a Boycott Campaign run by Murdochs News Corp and fired one of Fairfax's most popular columnists.
"We are appreciative of the columns Catherine has written for The Age over several years but the views she has expressed recently on Twitter are not in keeping with the standards we set at The Age."
@Catherine Deveny 's Twitter account surged in followers after Fairfax followed the orders of Murdoch thugs and goons, adding more than 1200 more new followers in three hours. In 2010, that was a remarkable surge in Australian Twitter followers.

By midnight on the day of Deveny's May, 2010, dismissal, she had received more than seven hundred responses on Twitter supporting her, railing against The Age and asking what happened to the once legendary Australian sense of humour and love of a piss-take.

Well, the politically correct Murdoch media of the 2010s beat it out of us, didn't they?

Monday, May 06, 2019

Old Media Rages Against Twitter Raging Against The Election

'Why Are You Yelling At Me On Social Media When I'm Only Trying To Wind You Up And Make You React Angrily So I Can Report How Abusive You Are?'

By Darryl Mason

It was inevitable Australia's Old Media and social media, primarily Twitter, would reach end-game territory around a federal election.

That election appears to this one, Federal Election 2019.

It's been a bit grim seeing Old Media's entrenched political journalists lashing out at those they deem "trolls" and "abusers", along with huge sections of their own audiences, including paying customers/subscribers.

Not many from Old Media Press Gallery are coping well as mere people off the street with phones analyse, quote and post political news videos and commentary to bigger audiences on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram than Old Media can often muster, and faster.

But it's been satisfying to see at least a few of the standard cliches of Old Media political news coverage during a federal election have been deflated by social media, like over-reliance on polls and opinion, and so then quietly retreated by Old Media.

If Australians interested in political news have more social media options than ever to get the news that matters, including following and engaging with the politicians themselves, and the feast of fact-checking in comments that usually follows any politician's policy tweets, and there is no shortage of free opinion (all the best writers are on Twitter), then what exactly is left for the 270 member Australian Press Gallery to do to try and lure the political news away from their Twitter timelines? To find that new generation of paying customers?

What can the Old Media-controlled Press Gallery provide that former journalists and public servants and former politicians and senior ministers and all the others with long political experience on social media cannot supply, for free?

Exclusive access to politicians?

Big deal. Has that exclusive access delivered better policies and information to the Australian people? Or do politicians feel free to lie and deceive even more relentlessly now, during Exclusive Interviews, because they know The Interview Routine better than many journalists do?

Has the political industry itself gamed out most of the old political media's best efforts before they even get started?

How many politicians have been caught out in outrageous lies and had to Resign In Disgrace after interviews with Australia's Best Political Journalists, in the past 5 years? Or past decade? Any at all?

What is The Product we're being told is worth buying?

Press Gallery journalists have more duties and live crosses now than in any previous decade. The depth of their daily research is always limited. So they have less time than jobless ex-public servants on Twitter have to actually read through 400 page reports and supply timely analysis.

On social media, just in Australia, there are hundreds of now jobless former public servants who do this analysis work, daily, for free. They should be earning something, particularly when so much of their work acts as research for paid journalists, but they don't stop doing it because they're not paid.

21st century journalists have already realised social media is the greatest research tool journalism has ever had access to. You can ask for help and get it, on almost any subject, if the Google isn't helping. If you say on Twitter you are unsure about info, good people, people who know, will often try and help you. This is not something to be afraid of.

On social media, a journalist can search for people who specialise in a subject that they're writing about, contact them and get help, quicker than a phone call. That kind of fast access to people and good information and research is like a 1970s journalist's ultimate work-related fantasy.

Social media is information, a living breathing world library of info, facts and people who know things.

This New Reality will maybe, finally, sink through to those still bogged down in Old Media bubbles, but for now there's a lot of anger, vitriol and bitterness coming from many in Australian news media, mostly towards their news audiences, probably because it's elections time. But there's not a lot of attempts to understand the news audience the Press Gallery needs to exist is right there in front of them, interacting with them, trying to talk to them, to share information, leads, tips. So what if some are rude? That's what happened when journalists had to go knocking on doors. Some told you to Fack Off, other people gave you a cup of tea and talked for hours. That's What People Are Like.

And anyway, why would anyone working across the top of Australia's news media industry expect all who still bother to engage with them on news to be polite, concise and respectful? That's not exactly the history of the Australian news media industry itself, is it? Or the history of our news media towards the public. This relationship has been long hostile.

The ABC's Michael Rowland:
Twitter is a double-edged sword for political journalists.
It's an invaluable source of breaking news and allows us to keep track of campaign developments in real time.For good and bad, it's a forum for politicians to make unfiltered announcements or respond to criticism from the other side, all of which provides fodder for news stories and commentary. 
"Twitter is a peanut gallery of hyper-partisan tools," Chris Uhlmann laments.
Can't live with it, can't live without it, eh Chris? 

Social media doesn't demand quick action-packed interviews and breezy sound bites on policies. The news audience on social media demands all the data and background info relevant to the subject so proper fact-checking can be carried out. So the news that results, that people on Twitter are willing to put their names to in sharing, is more credible, closer to the truth, and richer with information. People who like sharing quality news aren't big fans of seeing what they shared easily debunked in comments below. Many on Twitter really do care about the quality of information that comes out of the Newsdesk bearing their name.

Now that may not be everyone on Twitter, but there's 1000s more Australians on Twitter  analysing politics and policies and checking for corruption than the entire Australian News Industry has engaged in such tasks.

Some of the political journalists entrenched in Old Media still pretend not much has changed, and that The People Who Really Matter are still spending 3 hours every morning reading through Opinion pages in The Australian and The Financial Review (when virtually no-one outside the media industry is doing anything like that now). They seem to dreamily hope people will soon get sick of this whole internet thing and return to Quality Print Media or something. A belief that remains even while that very print media industry has sacked most of their specialised journalists.

Here's former ABC now Nine-Fairfax political um correspondent Chris Uhlmann on how he deals with those smartypants people on Twitter who, perhaps, might know from their work history or life experiences more about a certain subject than he might:
'I'll post a tweet on federal politics, wait for the notifications of replies to build up on my phone home screen then bulk delete all of them without reading a single word. 
"If I spend even a minute bothered...they win. If I don't engage and they all day getting worked up about it, then I win."
This is an experienced journalist employed by a for-profit news media company explaining how he both ignores and baits his news audience, for his own amusement. He's bullshitting. He reads his own comments, every journalist checks. But Uhlmann clearly hates the debunking and fact-checks he finds.

Fark The Customers, apparently. It's a bizarre attitude, generally, for any employee of an industry losing both profits and audience in double digit percentage points almost every quarter to still hold.

Bizarre an attitude as this is that Chris Uhlmann can still harbour - blaming the news audience for caring about facts and paying attention - this clearly isn't going far enough for Murdoch Crime Family's star goon, Andrew Bolt. He can top it. But how? By hating democracy and the voters responsible for voting:

An American media company campaigning against democracy in Australia. Is that a new level?

'Don't Vote! It's Socialist!'

'Refuse Your Right To Vote!'

'Don't Be A Sheeple! Stop Voting!'

What a curious thing to see the Delaware-based News Corp company trying to guilt-trip Australians against voting in a federal election. A foreign govt, company or person interfering in politics and elections in Australia is supposed to be illegal.

Here's Michael Rowland again, reminding us how terrible it is people interested in News on social media try to engage with journalists who allegedly report News:
According to many veteran political journalists, this Twitter "feedback" is getting much more vicious.
The Courier-Mail's national affairs editor Dennis Atkins said Twitter users had certainly "amped up" over the last few weeks. 
"They are shoutier, they are more tribal. They have never been great ones for considering other points of view, but now they have lost any inclination to do that," he said.
"They are quick to attack the person rather than engage in the merits of an argument."
Dennis Atkins is a veteran Murdoch tabloids journalist listing the bad habits we likely picked up from reading or being exposed to tabloid Australian TV journalism and the Murdoch newspapers most of their lives. Atkins didn't seem aware he was describing the editorial room policies of the tabloids that employed him.

Guardian Australia's political editor Katharine Murphy notes there's often an increase in anxiety and frustration on social media in election campaigns.

She says that's consistent with the polls that tell us voters are deeply disaffected with politics and distrustful of institutions, including media organisations.
"So most of it is that, but I also think elections bring an increase in what I suspect is organised or loosely organised trolling directed against politicians and individual journalists," she said. 
"Some actors are intent on being disruptive on social platforms and picking fights as a means to that end."

Some political journalists are intent on being disruptive and picking fights. They get paid to do it. To inflame the public. Provocation-Reaction. When such journalists thoroughly stir up the public, and people snap, they are deemed "controversial" and "successful" like it's a war on the people they're winning.

Perhaps the news industry could set a better example than the audience they are reporting for? Australians have had 100 years now of vicious, abusive, cruel news media content, feasting off the miseries and tragedies of Australians lives. Isn't a century of anything long enough?

Michael Rowland:
While the hyper-partisans are alert to any perceived "bias", Uhlmann believes one side is way more offensive than the other. 
"While one of the memes of the early 21st century is the rise of the aggressive right, the emergence of what I would call the "post-Christian left" is much more of a worry," he said.
Uh huh. Uhlmann, paid to provide information to people for a living, makes up stupid new terminologies to further categorise and try and belittle his news audience, then announces his New Controversial View on TV and on social media, then wonders why people respond with "hostility" and call him a cliched boring old media hack.

But Uhlmann doesn't actually wonder anything like that. It's not a mystery to him. He knows why people respond that way. He's been trained to provoke his audience, and he clearly enjoys doing it. That's the way the Legends Of Australian Journalism did their work. The more furious the reaction from the News Target, the better the front page and headlines. When Uhlmann was a cub reporter, Serious Journalists, drunk by midday, were still picking fights with mourners at funerals for a "great photo."

Eventually, most of the remaining news audience won't bother responding to Provocation-Reaction journalists, like Uhlmann, at all. They'll tune out, and after a few weeks or months, these news customers will realise that such stock standard Old Media routines are intensely boring, and not missed at all. Not when there's so much excellent news media elsewhere in the world, and on social media, to inform and feed your head.

Maybe the better Old Media journalists will realise in time.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Freedom Of Fire Sparks Back Into Life

UPDATED and expanded early 2020:

27 years after the infamously unknown experimental Australian band Freedom Of Fire (FoF) publicly burned the master recordings of their debut album 'The Internet Is A Fad' and disappeared, the outfit is quietly releasing 'new' albums, remixes and EPs on YouTube, Facebook and Soundcloud. These releases have appeared and disappeared online during the past 6 or so years, often with little information about their year of creation, or the musicians involved, if any.

For example, 'Opening Title Theme For Abandoned 1980s Buddy Cop Sci-Fi TV Series' sounds like it comes from that decade, but it could have easily been thrown together from modern day sample packs that effectively capture that era's most familiar sounds, beats and synths:

Some others, like 1992's 'Never Say Everything You Know' do have a date, but it's not clear whether the cartoon-sampling piece was created in 1992, or is "remastered" from an earlier tape. While Freedom of Fire still only have an audience, globally, in the double digits, so it probably really doesn't matter:


As mentioned above, when Freedom Of Fire came to release their first attempt at an official album in 1995, the clearly obvious popularity of the internet, even in those early years, rendered the American TV-sample rich album pointless.

Most of FoF's 'The Internet Is A Fad' album from 1995 is released now and sounds enhanced/remixed/partially re-recorded from the original foggy copies that surfaced in 1996.

According to On The Street music press from the time, Freedom Of Fire had spent 3 years conceptualising 'The Internet Is A Fad' album in the early 1990s, and had to live in denial during the final mixing sessions in 1995 as marketing campaigns to connect Australians to the Internet began to appear everywhere.

"It was fucked," Freedom of Fire said in a statement to On The Street in late 1995. "We've got this album proclaiming The Internet Is A Fad... you know, it's nothing, nobody uses it, and we're using the Internet daily. We tell someone on a message board, 'oh, just finished an album' and they ask the title and you can't tell them. Maybe we can release the album again in 30 years and claim it was a joke."

Brisk sales of Freedom Of Fire's 'The Internet Is A Fad' t-shirts at Utopia Records apparently helped ease the pain and covered some of the losses.


An attempt to create a 'Bladerunner Soundtrack Sequel' in early 1996, telling the instrumental tale of the mind of a replicant as it died slowly, ended up sounding too much like a replicant dying slowly for mass or (personal) consumption, and nobody from Freedom Of Fire had bothered to seek the necessary permissions anyway, so it was never released.

Parts of the original mix of The Replicant's Lament were debuted on a Sydney community radio station at 2.45am on a Wednesday morning in late March 1996. The below is a more recent remix/recreation of The Replicant's Lament:

In late 1996, Freedom Of Fire relocated to London, then Somerset, England, Marin County, California, and then, briefly, New York City, and then disappeared for another decade.


The experimental, sample-crazed Freedom Of Fire 1 formed in 1981 and released more than two dozen audio cassette tapes, of varying quality and listenability, in extremely limited numbers, through the 1980s and 1990s, without ever releasing an official album or single.

Various people, who may or may not have been contributors to Freedom of Fire, also released their own compilations of FoF music, noise-scapes and sound collages, sometimes under fictitious band names, sometimes adding their own noises and sounds over the top of the recordings. This was seen as funny at the time, and a bit of japery, but leaves attempts now to finally catalogue Freedom Of Fire's 1980s and early 1990s output a confusing venture.

Begun before the music industry started its widespread crackdown on sampling in the mid-1980s, Freedom Of Fire's early tapes were crammed with audio snatches, samples and soundgrabs from Australian movies, TV, radio ad jingles, interviews and vintage American rock, soul, metal and R n B. This made most of FoF's 1980s output unreleasable by any record label, if any were ever interested.

Having created dozens of hours of music, tape experiments and general noise that were a landmine field of copyright violations,
Freedom of Fire announced in the classified sections of Sydney music press in 1989 that FoF would be giving away their music - if you could find the tapes.

Freedom Of Fire's "self-bootlegs" (taped over the top of whatever the cheapest old audio cassettes were available at the time) were found on trains and buses and on car seats next to open windows and in the street-side discount bins of record stores and on window ledges and in doorways in Sydney's Western Suburbs, in Melbourne, Adelaide and Far North Queensland. Some were found tucked between books in libraries in Blacktown and Parramatta; hiding inside Col Joye and Kamahl cassette covers in Newcastle charity shops, while dozens of other tapes were just given away to anyone who bothered to ask for one.

Below is another FoF release from the past 3 years. 'There's Violence On Both Sides' saw Freedom Of Fire returning to the controversial arena of political-instrumentals:

4 years ago, Freedom Of Fire offered a new theme song to Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party, but it was rejected for lacking a 'clear message.'

In the always brimming "Incomplete Files", Freedom Of Fire's 2016-promised Trumpistan album remains unreleased. The only glimpse so far was the brief 'We Got Killers':

In 2020, Freedom of Fire are expected to release 'The 1980s Demos' (the gritty mostly unlabelled audio cassettes that mystified and often irritated those who accidentally came across them in that era), and hours of other first-decade music and sound collages.

21st Century audio technology finally means poorly recorded 30 and 40 year demo tape home recordings, captured on half-broken Phillips cassette recorders, can now be made more listenable.


Australian Music Is Rising Again

New Australian musician and singer, Rhyme. On the rise.

UPDATE, March, 2020: After a string of songs, DJing, remixes and experimental videos in the past few five years, catching attention but not big audiences, and getting near the point of 'Why Do I Keep Doing This?' Rhyme is now breaking through, with this video, hitting 1 million views in its first week of release.


PREVIOUS: Taking time recently to listen around to dozens of new Australian bands, singers, has been incredibly rewarding and exciting. The diversity of genres and levels of experimentation Australian musicians are taking on is breath-taking. Gut feeling says we're about to see a new wave of Aussie acts breaking internationally, but not just in US, UK, but across South East Asia.

Will be highlighting some of these excellent new Australian musicians and singers in the months ahead. Sometimes just a tease, with a follow-up later.

Here's one new singer definitely worth hearing now. Rhyme. Still only a few independent singles into her career, she is advancing rapidly as she continues to record, write and experiment. She's on Facebook here.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Another World War For Australia?

Australian, American and Chinese soldiers training together in the Northern Territory, in early May 2015
 World War II, Korea, even the Vietnam wars were all long ago. (Mostly due to reporting restrictions) even the Iraq and Afghanistan wars seem in the distant past, for Australians. Whole generations have passed since Australia last deployed tens of thousands of troops at a time to an American War Zone.

It could never happen again, we are told, Australians would never tolerate such large deployments, and the subsequent death tolls.

And yet, the chances of Australia being drawn into a full-blown conflict between China and the United States may have never been higher.

At least, that's the message some are trying to get out. It's not so much a warning, as a 'Well, You Better Get Used To This New Reality' PR campaign. Is the public already being softened up for another World War? One that would draw in Australia?

From here:
The source was anonymous. But the mouthpiece has a measure of credibility. High profile military analyst and former US Naval War College lecturer John Schindler tweeted last week: “Said a senior NATO (non-US) GOFO to me today: ‘We’ll probably be at war this summer. If we’re lucky it won’t be nuclear.’ Let that sink in.”

The warning comes as Europe engages in some of its biggest ever war games — right on Russia’s front door. It’s a deliberate ploy, intended to remind Moscow of the consequences of its duplicitous invasion of Ukraine.

Half a world away, the “w” word was mentioned again yesterday. This time in an editorial by a Chinese state controlled paper. Said the Global Times: “If the United States’ bottom line is that China has to halt its activities, then a US-China war is inevitable in the South China Sea.”

It came as China’s government effectively declared a “no fly zone” over the disputed waterway after warning the US over its “provocative” aerial reconnaissance of several islands.

China is maintaining its stance that its aggressive construction work on disputed islands in South-East Asia is no different to building highways or public facilities anywhere else on the mainland. Such is its determination that these disputed territories are its own.
Combined, the increasingly threatening talk is causing many to take notice: High-profile US Billionaire investor George Soros told the World Bank last week: “If there is conflict between China and a military ally of the United States, like Japan, then it is not an exaggeration to say that we are on the threshold of a third world war."

Early in May, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation began one of its largest ever war-games. The naval anti-submarine exercise was designed to send a message after a series of aggressive Russian submarine incursions into the territorial waters of Baltic States such as Latvia, Finland and Sweden.

Last month, a number of Baltic State defence ministers issued a statement condemning Russia’s activities, once again declaring its old Cold War enemy their “biggest threat to security”.
Russia retaliated by highlighting the deepening relationship between neutral Finland and Sweden with NATO was a “special concern”.

Some 18 warships and submarines took part in the oddly named exercise, “Dynamic Mongoose”. It involved 10 NATO members and the otherwise neutral Sweden.
It came just weeks after NATO members — including Britain — sent tanks and troops to conduct live-fire exercises with Estonia: Once again an act designed to send a signal to Russia — keep your hands off the Baltic States. The tiny Baltic state separated from the former Soviet Union in 1991.
This week saw the launch of a third major NATO military exercise: Combat jets from the US, UK, Germany, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands have gathered in Finland, Norway and Sweden for extensive Arctic combat drills over 12 days.

Russia has not been idle in its response. It has teamed up with ally China to conduct war-games in the Mediterranean Sea. The 10-day operation ended last week after the two world powers boldly displayed their warship muscle in the equivalent of Western Europe’s backyard ‘swimming pool’.

Yesterday, Chinese officials responded to US military overflights and a probing visit by one of its warships.

“For a long time, the US military has been conducting close-in surveillance of China and the Chinese military has been making such necessary, legal and professional response — why did this story suddenly pop up in the past weeks?” Senior Colonel Yang Yujun commented yesterday.

“Has the South China Sea shrunk?”

“Some people have been intentionally and repeatedly hyping this topic. Their purpose is to smear the Chinese military and dramatise regional tensions. And I’m not ruling it out that this is being done to find an excuse for certain country to take actions in the future.”
That country is, of course, the United States. And Australia is the United States most loyal military ally. If the US starts a war with China, Australia starts a war with China.

Don't expect any fightback from PM Tony Abbott, or most of the Australian Parliament if it comes down to that. Abbott would revel in the media opportunities of such a vast and deadly conflict.