Why Conservatives Shouldn't Read

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

They don't call them "conservatives" for nothing. Conservatives just want everything to go back to the way it was - especially the way it was in the 1950s.

I've largely abandoned tormenting Piers Akerman these days. With the Liberals wiped from Government across Australia these days, Akerman is just a sad, desperate man. Picking on him is like hunting dairy cattle with an AK-47. But he still tries, even if he's reduced to the "soft issues", like how children should best be taught to read. Phonics is the way to go, according to Akerman - contrary to the views of the "the inner-urban, academic-stacked Labor branches" who prefer "systems chosen for their ideological purity". (I think that's what he's saying. Akerman's writing is barely lucid at the best of times).

It's Reds Under the Bed, or at least under the school desks, recycled for the new millenium (so Akerman is at least in favour of some recycling). Go back fifty years to the publication of Why Johnny Can't Read, and the controversy over progressive values in schools - including claims that a failure to teach phonics was helping to spread communism.

Maybe that's what's been wrong with me all this time - I'm a leftist because I was brainwashed by my progressive teachers.

But wait. My mother (and bless her for it) taught me to read long before I started school. I must find out which method she used. Had things been different I could be complaining about Muslims and apologising to the Stolen Generation in this blog right now!

Looking on the Bright Side...

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

The Australian stock market has surged following the announcement of the death of Heath Ledger.

Photo courtesy of Crikey

(Well, I don't know how the financial markets work. It could be true).

Incidentally, isn't it odd how there are some celebrity demises you can see coming - even if it hasn't happened yet - then there are ones like these, that just seem to come out of the blue.

Actually, maybe not. One of those ubitiquous "close friends" who always pop up in these situations reckons they saw it coming. Meanwhile, it's nice to know that cable TV is always prepared (I'm just suprised that came from MSNBC and not FoxNews).

Posterity is assured now, in any case.

Friday Follies - Prostrate in '08

Friday, 18 January 2008

Follies return, because it's easier than posting properly.

From the Onion - news I've been waiting for my whole life, and check out the featured country of the week from the Atlas.

How dumb are the kids these days? Well, check out the second item from the SMH's Column 8 on Tuesday. (Wait. A teenager in the 1990s? That was my generation! Goddammit, there goes the whole structure of my existence).

From the blogosphere: Enjoy Lightning Bug's Memoirs of an Osco Clerk (ah, the joys of a first job); Claudia's Room hilarity for those who can't believe they ever enjoyed The Babysitters Club, and another helpful Public Interest Courtesy Rule on the use of backpacks.

Ever wondered where all The Simpsons movie references come from? Heres's photographic evidence.

Well, have a great weekend. It's going to be raining round my way, so I might go to the movies. Possibly to see Juno, because it looks kind of interesting, but mostly because it's directed by Jason Reitman. He's the son of Ivan Reitman, who is fantastic, I think - a genius. So we'll see if that sublime talent has been inherited by his son.

Last Gasp of a Dying Breed

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Has anyone else noticed that car drivers are becoming more agressively defensive lately?

I'm not referring to road rage here (I've personally always felt that road rage is a brilliant idea), but drivers getting snarky about driving itself. Overwhelmed by reports that car exhausts are causing global warming, not to mention birth defects, they're like addicts in denial about the effect of their addictions; coming up with ever more elaborate excuses about why they need to drive.

And they really mean it. Australians bought a record number of cars in 2007, over 1 million. The impulse is understandable - a "last stand before dying". I myself started smoking more in the last few days before I quit. You know when your position is untenable, but the rebel in you clings on ever more desperately before being able to finally let go.

For the opinions of "the masses", it's hard to go past those commenting blogs on news.com (for a start, most of them are unaware of the difference between a blog and a comment on a blog). This post about pedestrians in Sydney ignoring the road rules turns into a general discussion of the "need" to drive - some commenters ever seem to be saying that they drive as an "up yours" to the Iemma government, who runs the NSW public transport system. The author is rather more moderate, but recommentds readers write to their local MP, demanding tougher penalties for pedestrians who flout the law - even as he blames the state of the public transport system for his own need to drive. The idea that readers might start a letter-writing campaign demanding a better public transport system seems not to have occurred to him (although, as the Daily Telegraph's motoring writer, that might put him out of a job...)

Even if the global warming thing isn't substantiated (and I hadn't realised how unsubstantiated it is until I went looking for links), humans just can't keep on using oil the way we're currently doing. Heads up people, petrol prices are never going to come down: prices are determined by the laws of demand and supply; as long as there is high demand, the price will stay up. What will the price of oil be if China starts to achieve American levels of car ownership?

People know all this, or at least sense it. But they don't want to give up their cars. You could almost feel sorry for them, till you realise that they're just being selfish and lazy and, lets face it, a walk to the bus stop would do them good.

2008 - Hot Or Not?

Thursday, 10 January 2008

It's hard to tell from here how the year may shape up. Let's look at the evidence...

  • The year has kicked off with Sydney's Biggest News Ever - or at least according to the celebrity commentator who appeared on Today Tonight to discuss the happy event (I should have added "no more trashy current affairs shows" to my New Year's resolutions. Where do they find these people?).

  • Of course, we do have a spanking new Prime Minister and Government. Rudd seems to be walking on water at the moment (which must make it very convenient for him to get from Kirribilli to the City), but of course the real test comes when Parliament resumes - long after the rest of us have gone back to work.

  • If you're the kind of person who feels older when you notice how young everyone else is, then licensed venues are not the place for you right now. In Australia at least, there are now people born in the 1990's, who are legally adults. It's best not to think about it.

  • Speaking of New Year's resolutions, my main one was to quit smoking. I won't bore you with the details of my heroic struggle, but now that I'm counting the days in double digits, I'm starting to think I might actually make it. Now I can look forward to carrying on like an obnoxious non-smoker - acting like I'll get lung cancer if I pass someone smoking in the street, demanding that smoking be banned absolutely everywhere I might ever go (whilst ignoring the health of children whose parents smoke in cars), being the only kind of person who the anti-smoking TV ads affect (through a smug feeling of satisfaction, as they have no effect on smokers whatsoever - it sure wasn't the ads on TV that made me quit)...

    Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, I've borrowed the "This Day In History" posting idea from Club Troppo. Doing my own version has made me realise just how much I wish I'd focused on topical issues instead of crapping on about myself...
  • A Startling Lack of Progress

    Monday, 7 January 2008

    Civilization really hasn't progressed as far as we might think.

    On Saturday, visiting the Otzi the Iceman exhibition at the Australian National Maritime Museum, I was struck, and saddened, by the violent death of Otzi - shot in the back by an arrow as he apparently fled into the mountains, fearing an attack.

    I couldn't help compare Otzi's death with the current situation in Kenya - it seems that in 5,000 years, not much has changed when it comes to people being shitty to each other.

    (There's a word that's starting to be used with regards to Kenya - Rwanda. I can remember when I was about twelve years old, asking my mother if, at the time of the Cambodian "Killing Fields", the world knew what was going on. She said people did, and I was confused - if people had known what was happening, than surely someone would have stopped it? My confusion in this case lasted three years, until the Rwandan genocide - the whole world knew what was happening, and nobody stopped it. This time around, what I couldn't understand was why somebody [Clinton?] didn't do something. If Kenya goes the same way and no one intervenes to stop the slaughter, many jaded years later I think this time, I'll finally understand.)

    Back to poor Otzi though. Although the received wisdom is that he died from the arrow wound to his back, rebel scientists are now claiming he died of head injuries caused when he fell after being injured. This controversy sounds familiar. I guess now we wait to see if al-Qaeda claims responsibility for Otzi's death.
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