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Showing posts from 2008

Summer Blogging

We've been very quiet lately. That's because I've been pretending I'm a real writer. Most newspaper columnists, exhausted by the strain of churning out 500 words a week, are on leave now for up to six weeks, replaced by summer stand-ins. Ditto TV hosts, newsreaders and radio DJs. Most of us will have been back at work for weeks by the time Adam Spencer returns to brighten Sydney's mornings. Xander and Nico (the blog, not us as people, or as person and cat) should have done the same. Maybe the apathy and plummeting readership around here could have perked up if we had a younger, lesser known but actually better guest blogger for the summer. But as always I didn't bother organising anything in time, so now you're stuck with a Xmas-leftover-and-wine bloated Nico until 2009 rolls around to improve my enthusiasm. ~~~~~ How many times have you heard it said, 2008 was a shitty year for just about everyone? The aforementioned disasters, no end to the conflict in Ir

Carbon Cutless

PM Rudd has just announced Australia's climate change targets , and no one is very happy. Environmentalists have rightly pointed out that the actual targets are far too low. The climate change denial brigade have declared global warming doesn't exist anyway. As usual, the most lively "debate" is to be found on the Daily Telegraph website. Witness this cherishable missive from "Benny Hill of Cessnock": ITS A MYTH!!. The planet is cooling not heating and has been since at least 2000. Carbon dioxide is NOT a greenhouse gas, but an essential gas for plant growth. The more CO2 there is; the more plants grow. If KRudd was able to remove every skerrick of CO2 from the atmosphere - all plant life would cease. The biggest cause of heating in the atmosphere is water vapour; not CO2. (Does he lie awake at night worrying people will try to steal his water by drinking it all from his garden hose?) This blogger is not happy because, as usual, as a childless middle income

Poor Weather at Circular Quay

Even The Best Of Us Go Broke

Remember the days when you would have to ask your parents for an emergency loan, "just to tide you over" till pay or dole day? You'd offer immediate repayment, and attendance at your niece's school play, and anything else you could think of to convince them to fork over the cash. It was for many of us a necessary evil of our student/just starting out days, but you always felt kind of shitty making that call. Well, you needn't have felt bad. The great General Motors is now doing the same thing . They've reached the corporate equivalent of being five days from payday with 3 cigarettes and a packet of two minute noodles that's past it's expiry date. These people who would have raised an unholy snit if their taxes had been raised, are now counting on the government to bail them out. So don't feel too bad about the cumulative $6800 you borrowed from your parents in your early twenties ($210 of which was ever repaid). It happened to GM as well, and you

For Xander

Cat Macros - by Tom Smith I is a kitty and I has good fun I is entertaining everyone Dint used to be an internet icon Till my mom got a digital Nikon Now she stalks me round the house Interrupt when Ize chasin a mouse Waitin for me to make a silly pose, Stickin that camera up my nose Goes to compooter, she starts playin Makes up something I might be sayin Upload the pic for all to see, All her online friends go SQUEEEEE Cat macros. So I go cuddlin wit a stuffed bear Gettin peanut butter all over my hair Sprawled in a sunbeam, swattin at flies Trapped in the laundry wit big sad eyes Lickin at toesies, scratchin at fleas “I Can Has Cheezburger, peese?” — [chz. FTW!] Mom still doin her photo shoot, Good thing my little furry butt is cute Stickin my nose in an empty dish Lookin for an invisible fish I has no idea what you just said So here’s me with a pancake on my head Cat macros. Now I is songcat singin this bridge From my stage on top o’ da fridge I is only two years of age But I got my

Just Not Cricket

A coworker of mine is a big cricket fan, so the TV in the office is tuned to whatever Beverage Cup is on during that given day. Now, I'm Irish, so I just don't get the cricket. No one in my family ever watched it and I have no idea how it is scored, or why. But it all seems very strange to me. How many other sports incorporate tea brakes, matttresses strapped to legs, or an audience who are considerably more physically active than the players? And it goes on for days. It all seems such a gentlemanly game, yet the players - how do I put this nicely - tend to behave in a decidedly ungentlemanlike manner. And no wonder - they're bored. If my job consisted of standing around all day with zinced lips, interspersed with lavish meals, I'd be planning escapades at night too. So the solution is to make the game faster. Take away the safety gear, switch to metal bats and stop taking the day off if it rains (how delicate do the players think they are?). The occasional scrum wouldn

"Children are Sacred" - Let's Be Sensible

Nick Hornby wrote in recent years that if Jaws was made today, the movie wouldn't be about the shark, but the little boy it eats early on in the film; his death, the community's reaction to it. That's how much times have changed, to place children at the very pinnacle of society. In fact, things have gone too far, leading to a sort of mass hysteria regarding the welfare of children. The latest beat-up, led - do I even have to say it? - by the Daily Telegraph is the DOCS mix up . A DOCS worker arrived at a primary school to take a child to a medical appointment. A staff member at the school office confused the child with another girl with the same first name and similar surnames,and fetched that child by mistake instead. The "wrong" child questioned what was going on, the DOCS worker realised the error, and the whole thing was soon sorted out. No harm done and that should have been an end to the matter, right? No. Apparently the parents of the "mistaken"

Serious Blog Fail

You know you're in trouble with the serious blog stuff when you come to reflect on Kevin Rudd's first year in office and all you can think is, "Did Michael Jackson convert to Islam because he thought his 72 virgins would be young boys?" So George W. Bush plans to open his Presidential library . Could this be the first presidential library to feature pop-up books? Watching the Australian Idol final last night made me realise how bad the economic situation is. They couldn't even afford the fee to get inside the Opera House. I had been going to wander down and see the show, but I've been putting off organising my teatowels for so long, I tackled that last night instead. Speaking of Rudd, the general consensus from Daily Telegraph readers is that Rudd is doing a bad job. Of course, these are people who think interest cuts are wonderful news, not a sign the economy is in bad shape. They also fail to understand that huge budget surpluses are bad economic policy -

Eye on Sydney

Newtown Festival Fountain, CBD Fake Bus Stop This last one is in the grounds, not of a pre-school, but of a nursing home. I found that inexplicably sad.

What are they Doing at McDonalds?

Recently re-reading Morgan Spurlock's Don't Eat This Book , I was left with a horrified feeling of "Wow, McDonalds is even more evil than I thought". Because even reading about the disgusting things that go into McDonalds food, the terrible effects it has on the body, and the fact that there's now a McDonalds restaurant at Dachau , I couldn't stop thinking, "I'd really like a Big Mac". On the face of it, I'd be the last person you'd expect to eat McDonalds. I love good food, and I love cooking. My idea of a great dinner is oven roasted salmon with a delicate sauce. I've eaten at great restaurants. I love the artistry of cooking a risotto, or carefully flavouring a recipe I'm making up as I go along. I also worry about what goes into my body, and know that McDonalds is about the worst thing possible. It's not just that it's high in fat - it's dehydrated, frozen, reheated Frankenfood - the stuff doesn't even rot! Wha


Thirteen years of hell*, all forgotten * Combined Howard/Bush years

Sunday in Sydney

Iberian Plaza The Chinese female swim team wants to know what steroids this guy is on. I wish this was still in style - this outfit would be very flattering to my figure. From the Art Gallery of NSW No Obeject Implies the Existence Of Any Other - Except for Xander and I. Polaris Hyde Park Doomed to spend eternity vomiting into a fountain. I said I wanted to come back as a turtle; maybe this is to be my fate. Woolloomooloo

Around The City

Martin Place, 2pm Good point Interesting urban renewal Play Mobil Man

This Is Not A Plea For Sympathy For The Bali Bombers

The Bali bombers are set to be executed very shortly. The temptation is to say "good riddance". But when one ponders the attitudes of some of the families of the victims, it all starts to seem a bit creepy and disturbing to call for blood. In this case, it would seem to be absolutely justified to call for the death penalty. The Bali bombings were horrific, a crime, cowardly. No sympathy should be extended to those who carried them out. But there's that word - justified. The bombers believed that they were absolutely justified in what they were doing. The belief that another human ever deserves to die is what caused all this in the first place. And if it wasn't for that belief, the families of the victims would still have their children with them - how can they share the love of death and revenge? Unlike my feelings regarding the execution of Nguyen Tuong Van , I don't have any sympathy for the bombers. I certainly won't be sad when they are executed - but t

Latté In The Suburbs

I'm not normally a big fan of the NSW Liberal leader Barry O'Farrell. But when he described the State Government as "making it up as they go along" following the announcement of the Metro line to Rozelle , I had to agree. What next, I wondered; was Nathan Rees going to call all his surprise witnesses again? But it was the Daily Telegraph who really stuck the boot in, describing how residents of Sydney's west would be funding a rail line for "latté sipping inner west residents". Hold it, I thought - can't you get lattés at McDonalds these days? In the article Why Campbelltown needs Newtown from the SMH, writer Kim Huynh states that Newtown residents hate the westies. But I believe that they hate us far more. And it's far more acceptable for them to state it - encouraged by papers such as the Telegraph (just check out the comments on their website ). But what do we in the inner west do for them? We're more likely to be single and/or childless,

Scenes from Circular Quay

Public art is rubbish No talking at all Nice while it lasts The standard touristy shot

From the Royal Botanical Gardens

(I think The Satyr bears an uncanny resemblence to F. Scott Fitzgerald . Spooky.)

Disquieting Muses

Some of you may have been a little confused by my last post. Where were the disparaging references to Piers Akerman? The sarcastic observations? It was just a mediocre painting. The answer is, I'm thinking of taking this blog in a whole new direction. I've been doing this politics thing for a while now. And after a while, you just lose your mojo. It's worse than that - I've lost my muse. The muse is the person who inspires your passions, fuelling your creativity, taking you to greater heights of expression. And it was with a sense of horror that I realised my muse was John Howard. The man was an endless source of inspiration. And he certainly inspired my passions, mostly grim rage. Now he is gone. I blogged through the trauma of the 2004 Federal Election, the last of the dark days, the unravelling of the Howard government, the euphoria of the Rudd victory. But once that was over, what do we blog about? Be careful what you wish for... Of course, I would not for a second


Watercolour and acrylic on paper

A Plea For Fairness In These Difficult Times

The key to understanding the current global financial crisis is knowing that merchant bakers trade derivatives, which are commodoties based on the value of I'm making this up. I'm yet to find any thorough yet understandable explanation of what's been going on lately. But I can certainly understand the Rudd government's solution - spend the surplus! The government has decided that the rainy day has arrived - the surplus, which had been earnmarked for major infrastructure projects, will be doled out to families, low income earners and pensioners, in the hope that the extra spending money will be spent, going straight back into the economy. Theres two points that can be made from this. First, just a few months ago we were being told to stop spending money, as excessive spending was driving up inflation. Now we need to spend to keep the economy ticking. We're used to government spin, but it rarely involves their entire heads. There's also the sinking feeling that

Musings for the Weekend

Whilst returning from Newcastle on the train last week, my pleasant journey was interrupted by wails and screams. Two heinously ugly children had missed their stop. I thought, well at least their parents will be releaved not to have to see the little trolls. I mean, these kids were not only obese, not only whiny, but possessed of faces that made you a firm believer in creationism - how could natural selection have led to this? Parental bonding is primarily a biological reaction to protect the young. That's why baby animals are cute - so we want to look after them. We've all heard the phrase "a face only a mother could love". But are there faces that are so cretinous, they would lead to complete maternal rejection? Scott Adams recently wrote that he's optimistic about the current financial crisis. He's formed "Adams' Rule of Obvious Calamities. It states that any calamity that is foreseeable by the public at large won't turn out so bad after all.

Reasons To Be Thankful In A Dark Financial Time

Now I know squat-all about economics - at uni, my economics lectures were ususally on around the time the bar opened, and even when I bothered to show up all I could think was "If the lecturer is an expert in money, why does he dress like a flood victim?" But it's apparent to all that the world is getting into pretty deep financial doo-doo. I overheard a colleague yesterday calling her mother and telling her to take all her money out of her superannuation, then realised it was not a joke. Last night (AEST) George Bush made an address to - well, I guess to everybody, as he referred to "citizens of all nations" - assuring us all would be well, and he hoped the bailout would go through after all. He was looking grave and standing in front of more books than he's ever read, so I knew things are grim. Meanwhile back home, all I could think was "thank goodness Kevin Rudd won the last election". The mantra of the conservatives is that economies should b

Newcastle: The Nanny State

We're constantly hearing about the epidemic of violent drunken behaviour of today's youth. No one could deny that the problem was especially bad in Newcastle. So the authortities have taken drastic action - and the cure is worse than the disease. There's been demands for a curfew for years - I had my first letter to the Newcastle Herald arguing against the idea printed in 2002. But in recent years, more retirees are moving in to the city and the violence has worsened. Something Had To Be Done. so the authorities have gone for the most drastic course of action, and subsequently destroyed a whole drinking culture. The culture was this: in Newcastle, because there are a great many drinking establishments close together, people tended not to stay in one place all night, but rather move between several venues through the night. Of course, having drunk people on the streets can cause problems, but 90% of the people out never caused any trouble. Anyway, all that is over now. The

Blame The Woman

In the early days of the "Iguanagate scandal" , I remember hearing from a Labor party insider that "John Della Bosca is actually a lovely man. It's her [Belinda Neal] who's the bully; she's the awful one". It may be true. Watching Australian Story last night really didn't make up my mind one way or the other. Or it may just be the latest example of Adam and Eve syndrome - that there's a bad woman behind the downfall of every good man. There's a certain type of man who is threatened by the powerful woman. Woman was responsible for orignial sin, and therefore, for all the corruption in the Universe. Throughout history, we have couples where the female partner is blamed for the downfall of the man - Samson and Delilah, Caesar and Cleopatra, Nicholas and Alexandra, Hillary and Bill. (Who can forget those hilarious 90s bumper stickers "IMPEACH THE PRESIDENT - AND HER HUSBAND TOO!"). Now there's John and Belinda. Does anyone

Faulting City Rail, and Other Foibles

Earlier in the week, I went over to the CityRail website to check on upcoming trackwork. The website was down. Sure, it happens to the best of sites, but the failure message advised me to "Contact the site administrator and notify them of anything you may have done to cause the problem " (italics mine). It's CityRail policy that there is no excuse for travelling without a valid ticket. It doesn't matter if the ticket machine at the station is out of order due to poor maintenance and there's a twenty minute queue at the ticket window; it's your fault for not getting to the station twenty minutes early. If there's no ticket window at all and you don't have change for the machine, it's your fault. And apparently if the website is down, that's your fault too. ~~~~~ Apparently, a hacker was able to break in to Sarah Palin's web based email accounts by guessing the answers to her password prompt questions, such as where did she meet her husband

In Praise of Stupidity

When I return home at night from a hard day being Australia's most incompetent ad exec and shoddiest centre-left blogger, I like to relax. Some days I'll watch the 7:30 Report and give serious thought to the issues of the day. Other times, I might play Vivaldi's Four Seasons , or perhaps Pachbel's Canon , whilst dabbling in a little Chinese brush painting. But then there are the evenings when all I want to do is order a pizza and watch sheer escapist Today Tonight and 20 to 1. It's a confusing, scary world out there at the moment. The world's financial markets are collapsing, our state is a disaster, the U.S. may elect yet another incompetent, dangerous pair of lunatics to the White House. There is a place for stupidity in this world. Not willfull ignorance - that should never be accepted. But when you've spent 10 hours battling recalcitrant clients, difficult issues and looming deadlines, who would'nt want to sit down in a state of s

Government Madness

I'm sorry I let democracy down, but I didn't vote in the NSW local government elections on Saturday. But I have a good excuse, I swear. See, I've never bothered to change my electoral enrollment after moving 13 months ago. There's no absentee voting at local government elections, so in order to vote I would have had to travel out of my way to a suburb with no train station. "Screw that", I thought, "I'm having lunch in the City". Actually, come to think of it, I've never voted in a local government election. I don't know why; I just haven't. Maybe it's been a subconcious protest against local government? Local government is the pinnacle of evidence that Australia is over-governed. My current local government area covers an area of just 8km2, and has a population of 40,000. And it's still further divided into four wards. On Saturday, voters went to the polls to elect councillors who would be representing, in effect, a handfull

The Search for True Rememberance

What with yesterday being the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, I got to thinking about public memorials. Especially after reading that a U.S. Congressman blocked $10 million in Federal funding for building a memorial for the victims of Flight 93. That may seem unnecessarily frugal, even cruel (the man is, after all, a Republican), but then think about it for a minute. $10 million ? And that's not the half of it. Consider the still-growing costs of building the WTC memorial. Is the school of thought that the extent of the memorial must be used to show the depth of grief? Just look at the Columbine memorial , which brings to mind a Greek amphitheatre. It seems to be a peculiarly American phenomenon, with some exceptions, such as the Princess Diana memorial fountain , which resembles nothing so much as a concrete drainage ditch. To me a memorial has always seemed like it should be a quiet place of reflection, not an elaborate monument. What's most important at a memorial is what

Gone Baby Gone

Well, it's official...the nightmare is over. Sort of. NSW has a new premier. (Wait a second, didn't I just post about this ?). Anyway, amid tears (from the man himself), Morris Iemma has been ousted as NSW Premier , and Costa is gone too. In step Nathan Rees and Carmel Tebbutt as Premier and Deputy, respectively. Now, I know little about Rees at this stage, but his background as a garbageman should stand him in good stead for dealing with the state Labor right faction. Though as Faust said in reply to my excited SMS telling him the news: "Let's think about this for a minute...Carr... Iemma... things don't look good. If the trend continues, there will be a rock-melon sitting in that chair pretty soon. Although I am bloody glad to hear it... Carr was a fuckwit. Iemma was just flat out stupid." I can't argue the logic. There a certain delicious irony, or maybe it's simply absurdity, at the fact it was the now-exonerated John Della Bosca who made the big

Go Morris Iemma! Just Go.

Update - Iemma has resigned. More as it comes to hand Twenty four hours may be a long time in politics, but it flies by too fast to be a blogger's friend. Yesterday I started off a post on the hopeless state of NSW politics, and the hopeless state of NSW generally - the economy here is actually shrinking. I vaguely found myself wishing this wasn't a democracy; the instead of waiting till 2011 for the election to get rid of the hopeless Iemma government , we could just have a revolution now. Anyway, work ran away from me, and I didn't have time to finish the thing. Now everything has changed. Costa has been sacked, Watkins has resigned, Carmel Tebbutt has become Deputy Premier, and there's even talk of an exit strategy for Morris Iemma. Of course, what we need is the whole pack of Iemma's gang gone, but this is a good start. Once we're free of those criminally incompetent clowns, maybe we can relegate our horror stories of train cancellations, surgery waiting li

Fun Facts About Sarah Palin!

In case you've got the warm and fuzzies that the Republicans have selected a woman as the Vice Presidential candidate, consider these Fun Facts about Sarah Palin ... As captain of her high school basketball team, her nickname was "Sarah Barracuda" due to her intense play and leader of the prayer sessions before games. Runner up in the 1984 Miss Alaska Pageant. She named her children Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper, and Trig. (Sounds like kinds of tree fungus). She has said that she is a "firm supporter of abstinence-only education in schools." "Explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support", Palin has said. Her 17 year old daughter is pregnant. This is only a fact about Sarah Palin herself in light of the above, and her failure to give her daughter a purity ring . Or, even more usefully, a talk about sexual health and condom use. Wants to have polar bears taken off the endangered species list so as to open up the Artic National Wildlife Preserve to o

Don't Let Journalism Die!

As you've no doubt heard, Fairfax Journalists have gone on strike this weekend to protest the axing of 550 jobs in the company. Fairfax say that their papers - including The Age , the Sydney Morning Herald , and the Financial Review - will be published this weekend regardless, using "strike breakers"...otherwise known as "scab labour". So, show your support for journalism, and the rights of workers, by boycotting Fairfax papers this weekend. Show Fairfax management that journalism still plays a huge part in Australian society and we won't stand by and let this happen. And hey, it's the easiest protest you'll ever be involved with - all you have to do is not buy the newspaper! Please sign up below to show your support and spread the word, or join our group on Facebook .

Intermittent Tuesday Book Club

Always interested in expanding my mind then boring you all senseless with the details, I've been doing a little reading lately. Based on a recommendation, I started with The World Without Us , a study of what would happen to the world if all humans somehow, someday, were no more. It was thought provoking, if a little confused due to a lack of a central hypothesis. By far the most profound book I've read in, well, ages, is Letter To A Chrisitan Nation by Sam Harris. It's only a slender volume, under 100 pages, and takes only an hour or so to read. But it's a book that could change the planet. Harris writes directly to the Christians of America, asking in effect, "Are you kidding me?" Some quotes: “The president of the United States has claimed, on more than one occasion, to be in dialogue with God. If he said that he was talking to God through his hairdryer, this would precipitate a national emergency. I fail to see how the addition of a hairdryer makes the cl

Funnier! Sweeter! Fatter!

Well the Olympics are drawing to a close. Thank God for that. Maybe we'll get some decent shows back on TV - although Ten is making us suffer through 6 solid nights of Australian Idol next week. Australia has - let's face it - not done as well as may have been hoped this Olympics. This can be exemplified by our cycling team: in Athens they won five gold; in Beijing they've managed one silver. Fingers of blame are already being pointed - at the Federal treasury. "We need more funding!" goes the cry from John Coates on down. Instead of admitting that maybe we're a bit crap these days, the poor workman blames his tools and wants more money. Well, maybe we could ask Stephanie Rice to chip in some of her endorsement dollars ? Me, I'd like to see a Nobel prize winning tally, and demands for more funds to help Australia excel at winning the things. EDIT, Monday: The SMH makes this point beautifully in this piece. So what about the suprise of the games - Great B

For Once, I'd Like To Be Wrong

Sommething is rotten in the state of NSW , is the headline of the article in today's SMH. I'll say. The culture of corruption, smugness and slackness in Rail Corp is now starting to affect the rest of the NSW public service. Those public servants are only indicative of the real problem - emulating their political masters. A letter writer in Saturday's SMH described the Iemma government as the worst political administration ever visited upon an Australian electorate. It's hard to disagree. So far, for most of us watching carrcrash Iemma government is a source of irritation, and fodder for stand-up comedians. But re-watching The Day of the Roses , the mini series based on the Granville rail disaster , last week, the whole thing seemed like less of a joke. At Granville, a packed morning peak hour train derailed and hit the supports of an overhead bridge, causing it to collapse on the train beneath. 83 people died. The causes of the disaster? Smugness, slackness, muddle by

Dial P for Purity

Who says Christians aren't trendy? They have their own bandwagons to jump on, just like everyone else. First it was WWJD? bracelets, now it's purity rings . Presumably the next step is for young Christians to have "DANGER! No entry" tattooed on their public mounds. The theory behind a purity ring is that it symbolises your pledge, to God and yourself, to remain a virgin until marriage. The ring will then not be taken off until it is replaced by a wedding ring. The problem, as has been pointed out previously, is that most people who make viginity pledges break them . And once they do, they are less likely to engage in safe sex and less likely to seek treatment for STIs. Apocryphal evidence would also suggest that those who are breaking virignity pledges are less likely to do so after mature consideration during a loving relationship, and more likely to get smashed at a party and wake up wondering who the hell that is next to them. But of course, if there is a way to ma

Olympian Vicariousness

Boss, in front of TV: Come look everyone, we're about to win gold in the 400m relay!* Me: If I had enough energy to get up, I'd be there in the pool. It may seem contradictory that Australia is one of the world's great sporting nations, and also the fattest nation on Earth. Not at all. The athletes excel at sports so the rest of us don't have to. Taking pride in their achievements allows us to feel that we somehow had something to do with it, even if we watch the coverage in a darkened room, nursing a hangover and bruised legs. Actually I have made one contribution - the taxes I've paid which have gone to the AIS. Whilst I'm on the subject of the TV coverage, poor job Channel 7 . I'm not sure what's worse, abandoning three hours of coverage on a Sunday afternoon for a dull AFL game, or not actually showing the "evening highlights" promised at the start of the session. (Four hours I waited last night to see the gymnastics). I'm capable of O

August Check In

Yes, things have been quiet here lately. But I have a good excuse! (I usually do). I've been sufferring a medical condition which is affecting my ability to concentrate and write. Rather than suffer the shame of posts not up to my usual standards of investigative wit, I'm taking some time to recover. We know what's wrong now and it's nothing serious, so I hope to be back to normal soon. In the meantime, I'm considering adopting this tactic:

Are the Olympics Worth It, China?

Here in Sydney, we all complained about loss of freedom caused by the government's crackdown in the lead up to World Youth Day. Well, we're mere whingers. Sure, what the NSW government tried to do was arrogant and unacceptable, but it was minor league stuff compared to what's going on in China in the lead up to the Olympics - and the bravery of those who stand up to the government there. The foreign media are up in arms over revelations that the Chinese government will, in fact, censor their internet access whilst they are reporting on the Olympics. There have been reports of one million security guards and police working at the Beijing Olympics. They're there to do more than just crack down on student protesters. People have lost their homes to developers and received no compensation; they've also lost the right to petition the government, one of the only recourses for justice in a country without a free press. Foreign Correspondent has the full story , which I

Keeping Sonny Bill in Circulation

So, apparently when Sonny Bill Williams left the Bulldogs and the country , he left his entire family homeless, just days before he was due to donate bone marrow to his biggest fan... Well, no. But you could be forgiven for thinking so, considering the public outcry. Some comments from the Daily Telegraph website*: What a money hungry little puppet. Have a great time in France Money Bill, cause your never welcome back here in Australia. What a dog act. He will never be able to repay the bulldogs in a thousand of years for what he has done.   He has missed more games than he has played. I think he should go in the ring with Mason for a couple of more millions, so we can enjoy seeing him get belted for what he has done.   Well we all knew he was a dog when he c heated on his gorgeous girlfriend with tat skank in toilet cubilce. Never mind banning him from NRL for life, we should also ban him from ever coming back to Australia. We don't need such poor examples for our c

The Truth Behind World Youth Day?

We at the Pod have been informed of a a possible real reason for the recent Sydney hosting of World Youth Day... Morris Iemma and many of the members of the NSW Cabinet are Catholics. "True" Catholics are famously hostile to homosexuals. However, Sydney has successfully hosted the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras for many years. This must stick in their craw. So, in recent months Sydney has hosted both APEC and WYD. Both of these have caused massive disruption, but we've coped, sort of. Patience is however wearing thin. Perhaps by the time Mardi Gras rolls around again, the patience of the people of NSW with these huge events will finally snap, and we'll rise up against the Mardi Gras, ending it once and for all. This being the intention of the state government all along! They've been luring these events here to turn us against them. I'm not saying I necessarily believe this, but it is an interesting theory. ~~~~~ Meanwhile, it's been said that every time ther

Tuesday Debate - Parental Leave

In 2008, how much responsibility should be people be made to take in the workplace for their decision to have children? According to Elizabeth Broderick , Australia's current Sex Discrimination Commissioner, very little. The idea of work-family balance is a noble one. But how far should it go? Ms Broderick states "If you have caring responsibilities and you want to get promoted then forget about it. The ideal worker is a male with no caring responsibilities". She would like to see employees able to, for example, leave work early a few afternoons a week to care for their children, with no detrimental effects on their career prospects. But someone has to pick up the slack. The work the parent has left behind still needs to be done. Should bosses be required to reward and promote employees who aren't handling a full work load, simply because they have children? Should childless employees - once, say, over the age of 50 - be allowed to take 14 weeks of paid leave to compe

So That's What I've Got

On this fine Friday, I'll leave you with one anecdote... I was in the queue at Dymocks , when a woman approached the counter and asked "Do you have any books on Melanesia or Micronesia?" The girl behind the counter replied, "Is that a health condition?" ~~~~~ This gets better. I was standing in line at the time waiting to purchase a copy of Overheard in the Office , the book. Which I was buying because, whilst idly browsing through the shelves I picked up a copy, and it fell open on the page featuring an anecdote I myself had sent in a few years ago, and had long since forgotten about (it's on page 86). Serendipity in a crazy world. It must be my micronesia.

We Need Climate Pain

Kevin Rudd has promised that no one will be disadvantaged by the new Carbon Trading Scheme - there will be compensation for all . So then why would anyone actually reduce their carbon emissions? For businesses, details of the scheme include such allowances as receiving 90% of their (tradable) carbon permits for free if they emit more than 2,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases per million dollars of revenue. So we could actually see businesses increase their emissions levels over the next two years, in order to secure permits they can later sell. Meanwhile, motorists are hardly likely to reduce their reliance on cars if they believe they won't face increased petrol costs to compensate for the damage they're doing to the planet for at least five years. Has anyone actually thought this through? The point of the carbon trading scheme is to discourage carbon emissions by putting a cost on them. The Rudd government though, has given Australia a scheme that doesn't involve any

WYD - It Begins

World Youth Day finally kicks off today. Your opinion on the issue is apparently based on what newspaper you read. The Australian is fervently behind the event, and taking potshots at the SMH for knocking it. (NewsLtd, publisher of The Australian , is a major WYD sponsor, but that's probably just a coincidence) I do wonder how Australia ended up hosting the thing. We have to be amongst the least religious nations on Earth. Apparently two thirds of people still claim to be Christian. But that's because people refer to themselves as Christian on the Census more from habit than faith - the donkey vote of religions. It is a terrifying thing to witness in action. I've just returned from a walk around the CBD, where I was almost anhilated by a group of hundreds of chanting, banner waving Catholics walking in the other direction (could this be divine retribution?). The pilgrims are everywhere, thousands of them in their bright jackets and national flags, generally making life j

You Wanted Us All to Watch? I Don't Think So

It is with mixed feelings that I learned of the demise of Big Brother - much as one would feel on hearing of the death of a former spouse. Sure, things had been over between you for a long time, but there were once warm feelings, and you think "I never wanted them to die". I was once a Big Brother fan, and yes I've heard all the stereotypes. Actually, I never missed an episode if I could possibly help it. Just the sound of the theme music at the start of a new season was enough to get my heart pumping. Everyone knew never, ever to call me when the show was on. I collected favourites along the way: Nathan and Alex and Kieran, Dan, Chrissie and Leah, Tim Brunero. So what changed? Partly it's a simple age thing. In the first BB, all the housemates were older than me execept Ben and Blair. By this year, only the token aged houemates are older. I also stopped drinking every day, which severely hampered my enjoyment of the show. And - let's face it - it has gotten dum

Follying All Over Friday

Drastic measures are now being undertaken to improve Beijing's air quality ahead of the Olympics. There were fears that the air pollution would harm the visiting athletes. Apparently, there are no similar fears about the health of Beijing residents. Thank goodness visitors would never be deemed more important than residents here. After all the hype, World Youth "Day" finally kicks off on Monday. There is much to find creepy about the whole thing, nothing less so than the body of the Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati being brought to Sydney and displayed at St Mary's Cathedral for the duration. Forget Resquiat in Pace - devote your life to your faith and you can spend eternity as a travelling exhibition! I read somewhere that if the current growth in the number of Elvis impersonators continues, by 2019 a third of the Earth's population will be Elvis impersonators. Just think about that for a minute. Imagine going to the supermarket, and every third person you pass b

Rudd at the Gate

In a momentous day for the nation, Kevin Rudd will be speaking at the G8 summit today. Apparently his speech is being limited to six minutes. The people who organised this know what they're doing; it will be the first time Rudd has spoken so briefly in his life. I was suprised when I heard Rudd was even going to the G8 summit. Surely, if Australia had become one of the world's top eight industrial nations, someone would have said something. But no, Rudd is just going as a guest speaker, on climate change presumably. Brendan Nelson has said Rudd needs to be a "human blowtorch" and "apply pressure" to oil producing nation, which would dramatically increase extremely localised global warming if nothing else (I didn't know blowtorches produced pressure). Back home, the Grim Wowser is rearing their ugly head again. Now, whilst I believe government intervention can be a good, even civilisation-enhancing thing, I'm a libertarian when it comes to getting l

Disposable as Kleenex

Heartwarming news from our bestest friend in the whole wide world. Apparently, the U.S. planned to test nerve gas on Australian soldiers during the Cold War. Newly declassified Australian Defence Department and Prime Minister’s office files show that the United States was strongly pushing the Government for tests on Australian soil of two of the most deadly chemical weapons ever developed, VX and GB – Sarin - nerve gas. The plan called for 200 mainly Australian combat troops to be aerially bombed and sprayed with the chemical weapons – with all but a handful of the soldiers to be kept in the dark about the "full details" of the tests. in fact, given the timing of the tests, some may well have been conscripts. Kind of gives a new meaning to the words "cannon fodder". And we're supposed to be one of their closest allies. What do the Americans do to people they don't like? Kill them on their way to weddings , apparently.

Stop The Climate Change Lies!

The Garnaut report on climate change is released today, no doubt to be closely followed by howls of protest from the usual suspects. I've noticed that a lot of climate change deniers also tend to be religious conservatives. Which is amusing really, as their argument against global warming is "there is no scientific evidence that climate change is caused by human activity!", yet they seem not to be concerned by a lack of scientific evidence for the existence of God. When it comes to climate change, we all (as individuals, groups, corporations and governments) have one of four options: Admit it's happening and make changes for the greater good; Admit it's happening, do nothing and feel guilty; Admit it's happening, do nothing and not care; Deny it's happening. It will come as no suprise to regular readers that my old friend Piers Akerman is a climate change denier . So are Ann Coulter , Andrew Bolt , Rush Limbaugh and of course Alan Jones . I think we can

So Long and F**k Off

Today in Sydney, there's a purer light in the sky...and I feel more nouris h ed. The be a st is gone, for now, and the warmth has returned to our hearts. Yes, the paragon of the Whingeing Westies, Alan Jones, has announced he'll be off air whilst he is treated for cancer. I don't usually wish ill on anyone, but...I like to think of my fellow Sydneysiders as o p en minded, tolerant p eople - so why do they listen to, and believe, radio hosts somewhere to the right of Ghengis Khan? Jones shamelessly exploits the prejudices of his (mostly Sydne y ) audience, feeding on fear, ignorance and jealousy. Here's Jones in the lead up to the Cronulla riots: My suggestion is to invite one of the b iker gangs to be present i n numbers at Cronulla r ailway sta t ion when t h ese Lebanese thugs arrive. The bikie gangs have been much maligne d , but they do a lot of good things. These Middle Eastern people must be tre a ted be treated with a big stick, it’s the only thing they fear. T