Flag Burning City: Troops Out Now!

17 July 2006

I don't have Pay TV, which is unfortunate as I spend so much time reclining slack-jawed in front of the idiot box. Luckily, a friend who does have Foxtel records The Daily Show with Jon Stewart onto DVD for me in weekly doses so I can stay in touch with some of my favourite political satire.

I imagine American liberals must be feeling the way we do here in Australia - frustrated, disillusioned and exhausted by our governments. However, at least there's a huge network in America of satirists, humourists and activists to make it all that bit less oppresive. We don't have that in Australia; there simply isn't a large enough population base. Something that's only of interest to, say, 5% of American adults still has a potential audience of about 10 million people. In Australia the numbers are tiny. (This is also why each sucessive series of Australian Idol gets worse and worse - the talent pool here is exhausted).

There's more hope online. There are many great blogs out there, such as
Sailing Close To The Wind, Spin Starts Here, occasional politcial gems from Ledders, and Senator Andrew Bartlett. But off line, there's not so much. There's no Australian Al Franken or Molly Ivins (let alone a Michael Moore, which is probably just as well; we have enough problems with the obesity rate already).

As for political satire on TV...well, there's
The Chaser. But even I have to admit that a lot of it is pretty stupid. (And I thought so before Chas got arrested. In my opinion - and apparently I'm in a bit of a minority on this - the best Australian political satire on TV was Backberner. But, just like the way companies discontinue all my favourite products, Backberner has been off the air for four years now, and there's nothing that's satisfactorily replaced it.

Still, I suppose we should be greatful that there is at least the internet. Next year is an election year for both my state (NSW) and Australia, so I'll probably start a satirical blog of my own (oh great! An excuse to neglect this one. More so!)


I've also started updating my
photo gallery a bit, so there'll be more chances to goggle in horror in the days ahead...


  1. Hey there Nico,
    Even if 5% of the Australian population are interested this has the potential to reach 1 million viewers. I think the one thing Australia has which most other countries do not is the Tall Poppy Syndrome. Australians are actively encouraged not to succeed or hold any ambitions. I suspect if TV producers had the testicular fortitude to put up a politicaly challenging show it would be consumed by the public. More now than ever.

  2. Yes, reading is much harder to do than switching on a television. One must actually find the book they wish to purchase.
    I'd like to see some numbers describing the ratio of hours spent reading during the week vs hours spent watching television. I don't own a television so I guess using me as a sample would skew the stats a bit :)

  3. Whoops, I was deleting all the spam and I deleted my own comment!

    I've seen a few studies, don't quote me on this but generally the ratio seems to be on average less than 1 hour a week reading, about 20-25 hours a week watching TV.

    Two remarks on this: 1. I bet the weekend newspapers account for most of the "reading", and
    2. I have to laugh when people say they "don't have time to read!" (i.e. my father, who watches 3-4 hours of TV a night)

  4. Hmmm, take away time spent reading newspapers and magazines, then the time reading "work stuff" and I bet the ratio will drop significantly.
    Is there really 20-25 hours a week worth watching on TV?
    If you really are too busy to read, how about you filling in those times when you're otherwise idle. Keep a book in the bathroom and start having baths instead of showers. Keep another by your bedside and another on the dining table. That'll make for an extra hour's reading a day!

    Wise words indeed. You're quite the sage.

  5. If I am a sage, that's because I read. :P

    Well, I don't drive, so I read during my commute every day. But apart from that...I read every chance I get (not much in the evenings, as the light in my apartment is too dim. But large print is okay...trouble is, the library doesn't have many of the kind of books I like in large print!)

  6. And tt's a pleasure to be conversing with such a well-read sage.

    To the apartment... Um... how about a higher wattage bulb, or maybe some desk lamps? It will heat things up a bit there too, as you guys are in the middle of winter now aren't you?

    Most of my leisure reading these days happens while I'm in the bath. I'm almost finished a 650 page book on Russian History which I've read exclusively in there! Other times are when I travel. Sure beats watching crappy American flicks :)

    I'm one of the few fortunate people who loves what I do for my job as well, so I guess reading for that could be considered leisure as well.

  7. Russian history? Which part? I've been a Romanov-phile since age 10!

    Brighter bulbs aren't an option due to the old wiring.

    Yes it's winter, and it's freezing. (Raining too!)

  8. Mmmmm, what I'd give for some rain and cold right now. Maybe I could have a decent's night's sleep!
    But hey, I live here in the Mountains, so it will be cold here soon enough. It got down to -35C last winter :S
    The book I've been reading is Russia and the Russians, by Geoffrey Hosking. It covers the lot, from when the Rus arrived from Scandinavia right up to the break up of the Soviet Union. At the moment I'm on the last chapter, which begins in the early 80's.
    I began reading it because I'm about to start reading War and Peace, and wanted to know something about the history first. I learnt from the mistake of reading Les Miserables without knowing much about French history.

  9. I read War and Peace when I was about 14. But I didn't really get anything out of it, I read it for the sake of it. So I can say "I've read War and Peace", but not really. I don't think I'd try it again. Truth be told, I don't real a lot of fiction.

  10. Nor do I, but I consider what I like to call "classical fiction" as a part of my interest in history. These days most of my time is taken up reading science journals as that is what I do for a living, so I guess that's definitely in the non-fiction category. Well, mostly ;)


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