Thursday, July 31, 2008

Married For 65 Years, They Died On The Same Day

When you read or hear stories like this, it's easy to wonder that as you can will yourself to live on, sometimes through horrendous pain and misery and torment, can you also will yourself to die, when you've had enough?

Or when you lose your life-long love, as in this case?

Marie and Frank Cotton studied dentistry together, when she, the shining star of her year at Sydney University, tutored him. They married, raised a family after he returned from war, and set up a dental surgery together. They played tennis and built a court and gardens together.

In later life the Cottons had moved to a retirement village at Baulkham Hills, where they were together until Marie, suffering from Alzheimer's disease, went to a nearby nursing home three years ago. Frank joined her after a heart attack in March.

Determined to stay alive while she clung to life, he recovered enough to care for her. Marie was moved into Frank's room on Sunday night. She died early on Monday. He said he just wanted to grieve, then die.

He had a heart attack a few hours later...

You don't have to be religious to believe that Marie and Frank are together now, somewhere.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


I knew absolutely nothing about this brilliant Australian short film before I watched it. And that's the best way to see it. So here it is :

'I Love Sarah Jane' was written and directed by Australian movie-maker Spencer Susser, and is playing at film festivals around the world. Plenty of potential for a full length movie here, and a few sequels.

More on 'I Love Sarah Jane' at its MySpace page here.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


The big cat of the outer Sydney suburbs has been spotted again
AC/DC : The Musical?

By Darryl Mason

It's hard for any die-hard AC/DC fan not to shudder at this news, from UK's Popbitch,
that a new rock musical is in the works, based on the career and music (obviously) of Australia's most successful and influential hard rock band.

Working title apparently is 'It's A Long Way To The Top' and it is expected to mix some of the true early history of AC/DC with a fictional tale of an AC/DC-like hard rock outfit taking on a new singer, who grew up as a die-hard fan of the band he will now front. Something like that.

Of course, there is a massive audience all over the world for an AC/DC musical, if done right, and presumably Angus and Malcolm Young have been sold on the concept by the awing success of the ABBA-based musical, Mamma Mia, and the millions of Best Of CD sales the musical, and movie of the musical, have been responsible for.

But what AC/DC songs to include in a musical? Whole Lotta Rosie? The Jack? Big Balls?

Actually, plenty of Bon Scott-era songs are extremely theatrical, and perfect for that kind of sing-along retro vibe. Bon was a master showman, and the brothers Young always knew they had to entertain, first of all, to win a following that would stay with them for life. They pretty well achieved that in a way that only a handful of other bands ever have.

It's easy to imagine an AC/DC musical being some hideous train wreck, but in all likelihood it will be a monster success. How many 40 and 50-something blokes out there who haven't willingly seen a musical will be vibed to hear all those excellent old-school AC/DC blasting from a Broadway or West End stage, complete with a chorus line of headbanging Anguses?

You'd imagine there must be a few million at least.

And unlike Mamma Mia, the blokes this time will be the ones dragging their wives and kids to the show, and buying and blasting the soundtrack.

Go Here To Read Darryl Mason's Free Online Novel 'ED Day'
Climate Change : We Believe! We Did It!

This must be the only controversial issue that so many Australians are in such complete agreement on. A mind-bogglingly high level of agreement, and belief :

According to Newspoll, Australians overwhelmingly believe climate change is under way now and that humans are partly or entirely responsible.

When asked if climate change was caused by human activity, 96 per cent said it was entirely or partly caused by human activity; 84 per cent believed climate change was currently occurring.

96%? They must be the highest "We Believe! We Did It!" numbers relating to climate change of any country in the world today.

Yes, The Professional Idiot is correct. Now is the perfect time for the Liberals to come out as die-hard climate change sceptics.

Most Australians Want Carbon Tax, Now

More Chaos Looms For Libs As They Plot Delaying Introduction Of ETS

Some stunning poll results on how Australians feel about the introduction of an emissions trading scheme :

As the Coalition meets in Canberra today to forge a climate change policy that would delay an emissions trading scheme beyond 2010, it will be confronted with evidence that most Australians support the Rudd Government's position.

Brendan Nelson is expected to adopt a policy with his shadow cabinet colleagues that opts to delay an ETS until greenhouse gas giants such as India and China act to cut their emissions.

But the latest Newspoll survey has confirmed widespread public support for an ETS, with 60 per cent of voters backing the adoption of a scheme "regardless of what other countries do".

Another 23 per cent support a scheme if other countries act.

Only 11 per cent of voters oppose an ETS under any circumstances.

I'm surprised at how low real opposition to the carbon tax amongst Australians actually is. You'd think such a controversial, and likely very costly scheme, would be far more divisive, and generally opposed. Apparently not.

Expect failed Melbourne Age 'journalist', former Labor Party advisor and now full-time Liberal Party climate change policy fantasist Andrew Bolt to once again call most Australians a bunch of idiots, or worse, for not subscribing to his anti-progress, Greens = Hitler hysteria and fear-mongering conspiracy theories.

However, it should be entertaining to see Bolt go into an apoplexy of rage that his claims of a Vast Green Pagan Lefty Conspiracy over climate change are simply not getting through to the public, despite him having the highest combined online, newspaper and TV profile of just about any commentator in Australia.

The Professional Idiot is all over Murdoch newspapers and websites, as well as the ABC, but few believe what he shouts through a growing collection of visible ticks, eye-rolling and general head-shaking. Perhaps his message would get through more, and be more influential, if he didn't come across as such a petulant, whiny, fringe-dwelling, hysterical fuckwit.

Those poll numbers are really going to suck the wind out of the Liberals who thought they could knock the shit out of PM Rudd, and in particular climate change minister Penny Wong, over the introduction of a carbon tax, and capitalise on what The Professional Idiot claims is growing scepticism amongst Australians on the reality of man-made climate change.

And Opposition transitional leader, Brendan Nelson, will be utterly smashed by the next Liberal Party leader, Malcolm Turnbull, over those poll numbers on the ETS and climate change in general, and of course, these utterly dire Liberal polling numbers as well :
It also confirms the Government's dominance over the Opposition, with Labor leading the Coalition on a two-party-preferred basis by 57 per cent to 43 per cent.

Kevin Rudd also kept his 50-plus percentage point lead over Dr Nelson as preferred prime minister...

Mr Rudd had 66 per cent support as preferred prime minister compared with Dr Nelson's 14per cent.

And these :
Newspoll shows the Rudd government would trounce a Nelson-led opposition if the election was held today.

Labor's primary vote rose four points from the last poll to 47 per cent - the highest since the election.

Kevin Rudd has a satisfaction rating of 58 per cent, with 66 per cent saying he makes a better PM.
Amazing. Rudd and the Labor government are polling almost better now than they did when they flogged John Howard's then government at last year's election.

But why?

Is Rudd really that popular, or are the Liberals so boondoggled and their message and policies so confused and hard to keep up with that most Australian voters just don't want to know about them anymore?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Exploiting Ozploitation

In follow up to yesterday's rant about the shitty state of the Australian film industry (so much art, so little entertainment and profit), here's a trailer for a new documentary about the glory days of Australian cinema, when we made movies that Australians wanted to see, that people around the world wanted to see, that made buckets of money, and that influenced an entire generation of young film-makers and film freaks, both here and internationally.

I'll come back to the movies glimpsed in this trailer later in the week. I've been waiting for years for an excuse to have a rant about the glorious brutality and excellent craziness of Mad Dog Morgan and Turkey Shoot!
US Intelligence, Scotland Yard Claim "No Bomb" Involved In Qantas Explosion Before Investigation Begins

Qantas Had Bomb Threat Against 747 On July 19

Even before Australian aviation investigators reached Manila, two of the world's biggest intelligence agencies were hitting favoured media sources deny that the explosion that ripped through the floor and the side of a Qantas jet was the work of terrorists.

The UK Telegraph runs big with this :

Sources from Scotland Yard said they did not believe an explosion had caused the damage and attributed the “gigantic hole” to problems with the plane's fusilage.

Flight QF30 was carrying 346 passengers and 19 crew from London to Melbourne when it was forced to make an emergency landing in Manila after it suddenly lost cabin pressure and dropped 20,000 feet.

And ABC News (US) enthusiastically helps in the hosing down process :
US law enforcement and intelligence officials say there is "no sign" that a bomb caused the gaping hole in the fuselage of a Qantas Airlines 747 early today over the Pacific.
"No sign", except for the "gaping hole" of course.

So how did Scotland Yard and "US law enforcement and intelligence officials" know for certain, or were confident enough at least to tell the media, there was no bomb in the baggage hold of this Qantas flight only hours after the explosion occurred, and before any investigation had even begun?

Aviation experts, however, are not so quick to dismiss the possibility of a bomb in the baggage hold, for good reason :

David Learmount, Safety Editor at Flight International Magazine, said: "It's possible there was some kind of explosive device in the suitcases. There's a hole where there shouldn't be."

But he stressed that other possible causes for the damage included physical damage or a corrosive that weakened the hull, making it give way.

He said the hole had exposed some bags in the hold which are usually contained in metal containers. "It's interesting to see them - how else could that be if not an explosion?"
Here's one of the more bizarre explanations for the explosion offered up through the media, the UK Telegraph again : spilled coffee!

Just in case readers of the American ABC News site didn't get the 'No Terror' message, they helped out with this amazing double headline of stated fact, with no attribution :

Only a week ago, more than 300 passengers were evacuated from a Qantas 747 at Los Angeles International Airport after a bomb threat :
...Qantas had been told of the threat by US authorities but declined to comment on the nature of the threat.

FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said agents searched the plane and the luggage for about six hours but found no explosives.

Detectives are now investigating who made the bomb threat.

Australia Joins Long List Of America's "Best Friends"

US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, during her most curious 18 hour stopover in Western Australia :
"There is no better friend to the United States than Australia," Dr Rice said.
Wow, that's pretty impressive. Out of all the countries in the world, of all their trading and war partners, the United States has no better friend in the world than Australia.

If Rice grinning "we have no better friend" sounds familiar, it should :

''We have no better friend than Japan,'' Ms. Rice said at the State Department.

As secretary of state, Ms. Rice has said that the United States had ''no better friend'' than Jordan, Greece, Italy, Australia, Singapore, Britain and....the United Kingdom.

I'm sure Condi Rice really meant it, this time.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Garrett Gives Boring Film Industry Long Overdue Slapping

It's nearly two years since Kenny turned toilet humour into Australian box office gold.

No Australian movie since has come even close to turning the kind of profits Kenny did, though plenty of low budget American teen comedies have.

That Kenny ended up being so profitable for its makers and funders probably has a lot to do with the fact that Kenny was an ultra-independent movie, and the makers worked their arses off to promote it in hundreds of towns all over the country. Kenny was funded by private investors, and the first scenes were shot by with a crew of exactly one. If you want to see one of the best documentaries ever made about how two guys with a great idea turned out an impressively profitable movie, and created a new Australian icon in the process, get the Kenny DVD and watch the extras disc. It should be mandatory viewing for every film student in Australia.

If Kenny had crawled through the creativity-draining development processes that most Australians films (partly or fully) funded by taxpayer dollars have to endure, it would have been nowhere near as raw, and funny, and would have cost three or four million dollars, instead of a few hundred thousand.

Since Kenny, there has been less than 30 new Australian movies released in our cinemas. Most have bombed, lost money and turned even more Australians off trusting Australian movies to deliver the most important thing of all : entertainment.

Arts minister, Peter Garrett, is now supposedly slapping some sense into the rusted-on dregs of the Australian film industry who still believe it is more important for a movie to make a statement than to entertain, or to turn a profit :
Australia's federal arts minister Peter Garrett told the country's filmmakers on Friday that they must shoulder some responsibility for the industry's failings.

Some? If Australia's filmmakers aren't responsible for the lack of interest from many Australians in Australian movies, then who the hell is?

In his first speech to the film biz since he was appointed minister of the new Labor government late last year, Garrett told delegates of the Melbourne Film Festival's marketplace, 37 South, "It is time for the industry to re-examine the way it does business so it can aspire not only to cultural independence but also to new levels of financial independence, too."

Despite state and federal coin at near record highs, as a proportion of all film funding, Australian films are not doing well at home or abroad.

"You will be supported for developing productions that attract strong financial backing and are genuinely appealing to audiences," Garrett said.

"You will be rewarded for writing scripts that excite leading Australian producers, directors, cinematographers and actors to come back to Australia."

The establishment within the Australian film industry that supposedly acts as cinematic gatekeepers of our culture have failed us enormously. What's the point of spending millions making poignant, beautifully crafted movies when most Australians have absolutely no interest in seeing them?

Why do appallingly crap American teen comedies routinely make $4-$10 million at our cinemas? Because they're full of big American movie stars? Bullshit. Kids go to see them because nobody in Australia is making these kinds of movies. That is, teen comedies that teens are interested in actually paying to see at the cinema.

If you need an example of just how blind the old guard of the Australian film industry is to what audiences actually want to see at the cinema, and on DVD, look at the example of the Saw movies.

Two young Australian movie makers came up with the script and trailer for an obviously franchisable, and fairly original, horror movie, which could be made (and was) for a million or less and they were turned down by everybody here. They took Saw to Hollywood and quickly found the money to get the movie made.

The four Saw movies didn't make hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide (from cinema, DVD, cable) because they were American movies. The movies were a massive success because they filled a hole in the marketplace. Torture-horror, full of great twists and real tension.

It was a hole that the Australian originators of Saw knew was there, but nobody in the Australian film industry could get their heads around that idea, and so the Australian film industry lost an entire franchise of incredibly profitable horror movies for a fifth of what it cost to turn out yet another miserable film about junkies that nobody wants to endure on a Friday night with their friends.

Movie industry people I've spoken to in the US just can't understand why our industry is doing so very, very badly. We've got the world's best actors, directors, special effects technicians, production designers and costume designers, and most of them have to go overseas to get work. They want to work here, and they will work for scale (or less), but the projects that will win their support and skills don't come along very often.

Seriously, it's fucking embarrassing when American movie producers mock our pissy little output of movies, and their appalling performances at the box office.

"You guys made 15 movies last year? Fifteen whole movies? Lithuania makes more fucking movies than you Aussies do, and they make more money."

Rant over.
Sydney Cops Kill Small Dog, Mace Baby

Freaky. According to this story, cops in street clothes sprayed mace over a mother and four month old baby and pulled guns to blow away a yapping dog caught up in its own lead :

"They shot my dog three times in front of me. They were judge, jury and executioner and it is just not right," Ms Small said.

"I didn't know they were police, they were plainclothes, they just stopped and I was saying I needed a stick and they sprayed stuff and I was asking what are you spraying and my baby was screaming.

"I keep seeing the gun, I keep playing it back in my head.

So just how many undercover police armed with mace and guns are wandering the streets of Sydney's suburbs?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Stating The Obvious

What else would a professional skeptic be?
Kids Online Before Training Wheels Come Off Bikes

It's going to be very interesting to see how children who learned to use the internet before they could read at even a primary school level will change our society in the coming decades :
Almost one in five children began using the the age of five or younger.
The same story reveals that government approved internet content filtering is mostly a very expensive bust, that two-thirds of pre-teen children have some level of parental supervision when they're online and that Australian children now spend more time in social networking sites than in chat rooms.

I can't see such high usage of the net by young children as anything other than positive. Look at the all the reading, writing, typing, thinking, required to navigate the net and use social networking sites. The exposure, from such an early age, to a world of information, and opinion, beyond the local or high school library, or the city newspaper and evening news, can only work wonders in the shaping of a more curious, more questioning, less gullible generation. This generation of under-5s on the net will never be conned so easily by government and corporate media lies and spin as the Baby Boomers or even GenXers were.

Best of all, if you can learn to steer clear of weirdos, perverts and fuckwits by the age of 5 online, you're life as an adult will be far less harassed by those who seek to do you harm or rip you off.

I've watched my nephew, barely five years old at the time, whipping through internet sites looking for free games to play at extraordinary speeds. He could soak up all the information he needed to know about the site he'd hit in what seemed like one or two seconds. I would have needed a nap and a strong coffee to process information that fast, and doubt that I could do it at all.

The web, and computers generally, are no big deal to kids whatsoever. They're born into hospitals crowded with them, ride home in cars equipped with them, live surrounded by toys and households filled with them, and learn to use remote controls and DVD players before they even get colours sorted out.

While minor computer geeks closing in on 40, like me, think the reality of a touch screen home computer is pretty wild, most kids you ask would say "Why's it taking so long?"

I still vividly remember my first real exposure to computers. My high school was one of the first, if not the first, non-private schools in Australia to have a row of glowing green screen Apple computers installed in a classroom. Teachers organised raffles to pay for the computers, but I think Apple basically took a loss to get them in our school. It's still vivid in my mind how utterly awed we were to learn that we could type in (lots of) lines of code and make our own Space Invaders game. An early introduction to programming and piracy.

By the time these online under-5s reach high school, they won't be using keyboards anymore and computer code will seem hilariously prehistoric. Even voice-recognition control will be outdated. They won't have the same horrified resistance as us to having GoogleBrain installed via a small implant.

The question then would not be : How young is too young to go online?

The question will be : I don't want my child to be left behind, but is wi-fi-ing my baby while he's still in the womb as safe as everybody says it is?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Labor's Lovetown

An interesting example of Positive Comments Culling on the official ALP web page devoted to global warming. Presumably they're all real, but there is an undeniable flavour of the suspiciously fawning testimonials usually found on Improve Your BrainPower With BrainBooster Scalp Cream type websites. Every single comment appears to support the Rudd government's plans for carbon tax and clean energy, with not a glimpse of criticism :

"I am moved to express my support for the Labor government's position on emissions trading... thank god we finally have a government with the guts and foresight to take the task in hand."

"I continue to feel reassured that our country is taking a better direction in many ways."

"I would also like to see the environmental ministers travel overseas and see what is being done in renewable energy and efficient transportation and car production around the world."

"We cannot sustain the status quo for much longer and, if the children of this world are to have a future, we must be the ones to lead the way."

I think cutting CO2 pollution is fantastic, but those countries that don't do their bit should be penalised. Any imports into Australia from countries not being responsible should attract higher import tariffs or import restrictions. Further, more any major new developments must commit to using renewable energy sources."

"As a blessed country which enjoys a high standard of living, education, freedom, resources and morals, it is incumbent upon us to lead the race to viable and sustainable energy production and consumption. I urge the government to continue the action and the promise demonstrated to date. Good on you."

"Please stay strong in regard to climate change. We expect it to be difficult and we expect it to cost - but it must be done. No special exemptions from carbon trading and no lack of resolve in the face of inevitable opposition from the Opposition."

"I think your push for a greener planet is to be commended!"

"Please make climate change the government's focus, with a concerted program to replace our domestic use of fossil fuel and our dependence on fossil fuel exports with new-era energy sources and systems. The price of fuel is a diversion. Sure it affects 'working families', but not as much as the collapse of our economy will."
They must some of the 3 out of 4 Australians who now support the Rudd government's plans to wind back emissions, and would also appear to support the introduction of the carbon tax.

The Greens won.
Get Pope To Exorcise ABC Of Evil Pagan Lefties

Everyone knows the ABC is anti-religion, particularly when that religion is Catholicism. So during the Pope's visit to Sydney, don't expect those Evil Pagan Lefties at 'Your' ABC to devote more than the absolutely minimal compulsory coverage they can get away with.

Evil Pagan ABC Lefties will do everything they can to sabotage their own coverage of World Youth Day Week. They have to do it. They won't be able to help themselves.

Now, if it was World Muslim Youth Day starring Osama & Obama, touring with the sacred corpse of Saddam Hussein, well, they would make it the all dominating story across all ABC media for an entire week.

EP ABC Ls will only show the Pope if he comes out in support of their Global Warmania Hoax. That won't happen, because the Pope knows God's will acts upon all the tragedies and triumphs of the planet and for the Catholic Church to admit that Man is or can be responsible for more powerful hurricanes, droughts and rising sea levels, killing millions, would mean Man's will has substituted God's. So that's not going to happen, so the lentil fanciers at the ABC won't be interested in what the Pope has to say.

And as sure as Kevin Rudd is only ear-wax polishing the big chair for Julia Gillard (or he will stay put and lose the next election), the solar panel worshippers at 'Your' ABC will not be devoting the first three to eight minutes of the 7pm evening news to speeches by the Pope, interviews with visiting priests or 30 second long grabs of American Catholics singing Jesus love songs on acoustic guitar in Hyde Park for four or five nights in a row.

And they won't dare use endless footage of screaming, near hysterical Catholic youth running wild in our streets, waving the flags of the world, in every TV news break for three days running. They hate seeing young Catholics having the times of their lives, so they won't show them celebrating their love for Jesus. If it was their Green Jesus being celebrated, then of course they'd show it.

Those Evil Pagan Lefties are so anti-religion they won't devote more total TV and radio air time to World Youth Day Week than any other single tourist-based event since the Sydney Olympics.

I know this because I read the comments of conservative Australian blogs, and they're rarely if ever wrong on those Evil Pagan Lefties at 'Your' ABC.
Tough Stance On Licorice Legs

The Liberals are mounting a tough opposition to the introduction of the Carbon Tax (or emissions trading system). They're totally against Australia joining an EU-initiated program to impose a global tax on every kilometre you drive, the food you eat and just about everything you buy that hasn't been grown by a neighbour.

The Federal Opposition has intensified its attack on the Government's emissions trading scheme, warning it has "very big flaws".

Treasury spokesman Malcolm Turnbull went on the offensive today, saying parts of the scheme were absurd, it was too rushed, and the whole country was at risk from the scheme not working out.

So, the Liberals are finally taking a real stand of opposition to one of the most radical plans for a global tax ever devised.

The Government, which could struggle to get the scheme through a hostile senate, is putting pressure on the Liberals to approve the scheme.

But Mr Turnbull was in no mood to be conciliatory today as he spoke out against the Government's proposal.

The Liberals think a carbon tax is wrong, evil, and will destroy the Australian economy and smash tight household budgets to dust. Wow, how exciting it must be for Liberals to finally have a major Labor policy issue that their party leaders are mounting real opposition against.

Mr Turnbull said the Liberals' policy was to move towards emissions trading but to do so "with great care and with great deliberation".


Sorry. It appears I've been mistaken. Turns out the Liberals are not opposed to the introduction of a carbon tax after all. They're all for that, of course. Just as John Howard was in his last months in office.

The Liberals aren't ready to oppose something they've clearly been told must be introduced, they just want to fuck around claiming the Rudd government are doing it wrong.

And is this the most curious thing of all? The introduction of a carbon tax for all Australians is the one issue upon which the Liberals, The Greens and Labor all agree.

We must have a Carbon Tax, just like Al Gore says.

Did they all get a divine memo from Green Jesus or something?

How desperate and bizarre it must be to be a decades-dedicated, die-hard Liberal voter, who truly believes that global warming is a New Green Order hoax and thinks Greenism is prettified socialism, that Nelson is a tool, but that Turnbull is even worse.

How galling it must be to them that Peter Garrett, for Menzies sake, is a senior government minister and regularly represents Australia on the world stage.

How shocking it must still be to see Bob Brown being interviewed, taken seriously, shown respect, not just on the ABC, but on the morning, midday and evening news on 9, 7 and 10.

How nauseating it must be for Howard-era Liberals to hear the dirty tree hippie chants and envirolosophy of early 1980s anti-logging and anti-dam protests being repeated by almost the entire front bench of the Liberal opposition every time a microphone turns in their direction.

Who do they turn to for representation now? The Nationals?

Labor might have moved centre and fully adopted (for now) Rudd's promised 'economic conservatism', but the Liberals turned long lines of humiliating backflips to update themselves to modern Australia's Green-soaked belief systems and passion for clean(er) energy.

The Greens are now the real third party of Australian politics.

Bob Brown didn't need to become prime minister to see entire slabs of his environmental conservation and anti-global warming policies become reality.

So popular had long-established Green Party platforms become by 2007 that we witnessed the brain-frying Theatre Of The Absurd that was John Howard's Liberals and Kevin Rudd's Labor actually fighting in public over who loved and cared for the environment more, and who would be best at fighting climate change.

In the shaping of a new pro-environment, clean energy Australia, it wasn't Labor or Liberal ideas that won in the end.

It was The Greens.

They were there first, and they did most of the ground work in re-introducing city-dwelling Australians to the wonders of our rainforests, wetlands and wilderness areas, promoting the theory and suspected consequences of global warming, demanding expansion of solar energy usage and investment in alternative energy sources, while raising the original arguments for why we have to have a carbon tax.

A carbon tax that both Labor and Liberals now fully agree must be introduced, but the details of which are now being squabbled over. Like it will make any difference in the end.

The Greens won.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Pell : The Catholic Church Is Now Pagan

Back in 2006, Cardinal George Pell believed that calling for reductions in man-made carbon emissions was part of a new paganism. Now that the Pope is calling for reductions in carbon emissions, and a stepped up fight against environmental destruction by man, has Pell pulled him aside in Sydney to warn him of the invasion of paganism into the Catholic Church?

Cardinal Pell knows The Greening is real competition for the Catholic Church in the recruitment of the fresh hearts and minds of youth :
"I'm a bit of a sceptic about the claim that human activity is likely to produce a man-made catastrophe."
Lack of religious beliefs amongst youth is not the key threat facing the popularity and longevity of the Catholic Church, it's the faith and belief system attached to environmental conservation that is proving to be far more appealing to youth around the world. You can have sex with whoever you like, as long as you also take action to lower your carbon emissions.

"Jesus Was A Greenie" was a shortly popular chant at rainforest saving protests in the early 1980s. The Catholic Church are only now coming around to the idea, and marketing potential, of 'Green Jesus.'

The Pope has used his visit to Australia to get the word out that the Catholic Church is down with the fight against climate change. The Pope is re-branding the Catholic Church as true believers in the doctrine that humans are bringing on their own Apocalypse because they think electric lighting is pretty cool, they like warm homes and they prefer to drive cars that grunt, not hum :
"We have to give impulse to rediscovering our responsibility and to finding an ethical way to change our way of life."

He said politicians and experts must be "capable of responding to the great ecological challenge and to be up to the task of this challenge".

Pell knows his skepticism must not go too far :
"I'm well aware that over the years, there have been great changes in the climate."

"We have an obligation to care for our environment, a moral obligation," he said.

"We also very clearly have a moral obligation not to damage or destroy or ruthlessly use the environment at the expense of future generations."

Cardinal George Pell has actually wound back his rhetoric on the fight against climate change being comparable to a new pagan religion. That is, a far more attractive religion for the youth now peeling away from the Catholic Church in favour of saving the world through The Greening. Here's Pell in May, 2006 :

Some of the hysteric and extreme claims about global warming are also a symptom of pagan emptiness, of Western fear when confronted by the immense and basically uncontrollable forces of nature. Belief in a benign God who is master of the universe has a steadying psychological effect, although it is no guarantee of Utopia, no guarantee that the continuing climate and geographic changes will be benign.

In the past pagans sacrificed animals and even humans in vain attempts to placate capricious and cruel gods. Today they demand a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

So according to George Pell, the Catholic Church has, by embracing a world rallying fight against climate change, become a pagan religion.

UPDATE : During his official welcome in Sydney tonight, the Pope expanded his rebranding pitch on how the Catholic Church is now the house of Green Jesus, to the hundreds of thousands of youth gathered in the city for World Youth Day (Week) :

"God's creation is one and it is good. The concerns for non-violence, sustainable development, justice and peace, and care for our environment are of vital importance for humanity," Pope Benedict said.

"Perhaps reluctantly, we come to acknowledge that there are also scars which mark the surface of our earth - erosion, deforestation, the squandering of the world's mineral and ocean resources in order to fuel an insatiable consumption.

"Some of you come from island nations whose very existence is threatened by rising water levels, others from nations suffering the effects of devastating drought.

"God's wondrous creation is sometimes experienced as almost hostile to its stewards, even something dangerous."

Maybe all those devastating earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunamis have something to do with that.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Get Naked, Shower Together For The Lord

As part of its attempts to rebrand itself as a church of the 21st century, instead of the 16th century, has the Catholic Church decided we must no longer feel ashamed of our naked bodies?

At Woodstock, the true believers danced naked in the rain together.

At PopeStock, the true believers will shower together, with no shower curtains to hide their exposed sin-tempting flesh :
The temporary shower cubicles provided to schools hosting (World Youth Day) pilgrims hold up to four people and there are no shower curtains.

The Church recommends pilgrims shower in a swimsuit.
Apparently showering in your budgie smugglers will help you and others avoid easy temptations of the flesh. Cold showers would probably work even better.
Shhh, Don't Mention Iraq

Australia's greatest ever...hell, the world's greatest foreign minister in all of human history, Alexander Downer, was fondly farewelled here a few days ago. Obviously in declaring that Downer being removed to Cyprus would mean his nasally, perpetually whining voice would fall quiet in Australia, I didn't consider the fact that he would, and will, continue to bleat on about how awesome he was, and still is, whenever the opportunity presents itself.

The Sydney Morning Herald's Peter Hatcher gave Downer a solid serve last week, and so now Downer needs to have a big long whine in response :

The tragedy of much public commentary in Australia is that it is blatantly anti-conservative, fascinated with trivia and, when it comes to conservatives, rich with personal abuse.

It's good to see that Downer recognises that "much public commentary in Australia" from the conservative side is "rich with personal abuse." Surely I'm not reading that wrong?

But he's right of course. So much public commentary in Australia is blatantly anti-conservative. The irony is that much of the most influential and widely read anti-conservative commentary is written by those who claim to be "conservative".

Commentators like Andrew Bolt continually neon sign why conservatives in Australia are often seen as fanatical self-appointed moral gatekeepers, anti-progressives when it comes to energy, big money wasters when it comes to defence spending, generally hysteric and ceaselessly pro-war in an age where war-fighting between nations has almost ceased.

Nothing can damage the conservative cause in Australia more than to have commentators like Andrew Bolt and Piers Akerman preach their extremist version of conservative politics and shout "I'm A Conservative!" every chance they get.

Back to Downer :

The last dozen years has been a period of intense activity in Australian foreign policy. Some of it has been controversial; some of it has been unpopular; and sometimes the practitioners have had a moment of laughter and personal enjoyment. But always our policies have been considered, planned and founded on the principle of promoting Australia's national interests.

Downer then praises himself for what he believes are the greatest achievements by the Howard government. Waiting until the last minute to send troops to East Timor tops Downer's list of My Greatest Achievements, even though that belated decision was made by John Howard.

But in his 'Why I'm Awesome' checklist, Downer fails to mention Iraq, or the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime.

Why? Shouldn't the Iraq War be one of, if not the primary, sources of pride for going-but-still
-not-gone Downer?

Hartcher was particularly critical of Downer on Iraq. was Downer who most ardently and tirelessly defended the invasion of Iraq, but it was Howard's decision to participate in that misguided venture. And, in the historical assessment, Downer's term as foreign minister will surely be judged on the Iraq policy.
Downer's response :

One of the saddest things about modern Australia is we still have commentators such as Hartcher....They just want to make puerile anti-conservative party political points built on a foundation of trivia.

So now we know why Downer didn't mention Iraq in his epistle of self-praise : Iraq is now filed by Downer under "trivia."

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Heath Ledger As 'The Joker' : Slightly More Psycho Sir Les?

Was Sir Les Patterson a major source of inspiration for Heath Ledger when he was creating his version of The Joker character for the new Batman film, Dark Knight?

This is the first clip I've seen of Ledger in action that's more than a few seconds long, and it's excellent to finally see something that shows us why so many are so excited about his performance.

To me, in The Joker we can see Ledger playing Sir Les Patterson as a thinner, younger, better dressed man, with less food falling out of his mouth. Obviously, it's not a full imitation of Sir Les, but you can definitely see Barry Humphries' character has been absorbed by Ledger for this role. That's my theory anyway.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Sydney Cops : Alcohol, Not Drugs, Is The Biggest Crime-Related Threat To Community

A stunning quote from a cop on a reality of life fighting crime in Sydney :
"The majority of our work is alcohol related..."
All those cops, all that training, all that money, all that paperwork, and most of their time is spent trying to stop drunk people from smashing the shit out of each other. Alcohol-related violence is not a minority crime. It is the majority of all crimes today in Australia. We are an alcohol-soaked country, and we get hammered and abuse and beat each other into hospitals, or police cells, at rates that regularly rank high in world rankings.

A War On Alcohol, according to Sydney police, is overdue. But that's probably a bit too Taliban-esque for Australians.

"You can take our lives, but you will never take our Bundy & Cokes!"

Then again, we do have laws in Sydney now that allow police, and 'deputised' volunteers, to harass, search, question and arrest people for being "annoying."

So nothing's off the table right now.
They Used To Walk For Weeks To Get To These Parties

It's going to take a Miracle to fix the huge problems facing Sydney rail commuters later this week when about a hundred thousand visitors try to get on board already armpit-eyeball stuffed train carriages. A Miracle.

Luckily, the Pope is coming to town.

Will Jesus be a surprise (or perhaps not surprising) guest at PopeFest?

The local archbishop has just his PopeStock ruined, as many victims of instituionalised abuse in the Catholic Church now wait for The Pope to apologize for the hundred-odd priests who've been busted abusing children while serving the Lord, let alone the many more priests who have never had to pay for their crimes. You can only hope there really is a very biblical flaming hell for those bastards.

Perhaps The Pope can organise something special, after he apologises, and then sets about finally trying to right some of those demonic abuses against children.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Remembering Alex

Alexander Downer is almost gone, but he's not forgotten. His star will shine brightly on and on and on. At least until Friday.

We remember Alexander Downer, the extraordinarily floppy, sooky and comically petulant foreign minister of the now all but forgotten John Howard government.

We remember Alexander Downer, yes. But do YOU?

Do you remember when Alex and his buddy John stood up in front of the Australian people and told them they were under bio-terror attack, when they both knew this was clearly untrue, and they had both been repeatedly advised against claiming white powder found in the Indonesian embassy was a biological agent?

Do you remember when Alex told the mostly unarmed people of Fiji to rise up, in violent opposition, against the military after a bloodless coup?

Do you remember when Alex was banned from visiting Fiji and how the people of Fiji refused to follow his advice and how there was no tide of violence, and the Australian military, ready and waiting, didn't have to launch an invasion to save Australian citizens?

Do you remember when Alex quietly set about signing Australia up to the US Missile Defence Shield, which would have cost Australians hundreds of millions of dollars?

Do you remember when Alex, during APEC, tried to claim that hosting a franchise of the US Missile Defence Shield would cause absolutely no problems or tensions with Russia and China?

Do you remember when Alex spent Christmas spattered in the blood of war dead?

Do you remember when Alex pledged Australia's "absolute commitment" to Israel and offered to send Australian troops into Palestine to stop the democratically elected government from ruling?

Do you remember when Alex tried to stir up trouble with Pakistan by selling nuclear fuel to India?

Do you remember when Alex was busted ignoring numerous memos pointing out than Australians were involved in bribing the Saddam Hussein regime some $300 million before the War On Iraq began? Do you remember the catastrophic memory failures he suffered during questioning about the corruption scandal?

Do you remember when Alex used up the government's total emergency stockpile of "I don't recalls" the day before John Howard suffered the most humiliating day of his prime ministership?

Do you remember when Alex, growing ever more desperate as polls showed Rudd would win the coming election, started using Paul Keating insults in Parliament?

Do you remember when Alex became incredibly petulant and rude to Australian and international high school students and refused to answer their basic questions about his government's position on climate change?

Do you remember when Alex said that withdrawing troops from Iraq was "abandoning your mates", shortly before the British announced they were withdrawing troops from Iraq?

Do you remember the intense gibberish that Downer consistently spewed about the Rudd plan to withdraw troops, even though it was to a timetable that defence chiefs believed, even then, was appropriate and timely?

Do you remember when Alex cracked under the pressure of knowing his government was about to lose and made a complete idiot of himself by turning up on Lateline, half-pissed out of his mind, slurring words and speaking yet more intense gibberish?

Do you remember when, after losing government, Alex tried to blame the solid and humiliating defeat on "The Timing"?

Do you remember when Alex decided to give up his booming career in morning talkback radio for a quickly aborted return to the front benches?

Do you remember when Alex called a cartoon of himself being rutted, or "dominated" by John Howard "offensive"?

In all fairness to Alexander "Cyprus Doesn't Have An Extradition Treaty For War Crimes, Right?" Downer, I do like his take on Kevin Rudd, back on February 20, 2007.

Downer, not suprisingly, had Rudd's number way back then. Fuck lot of difference that made in the end, however. Downer couldn't stop being sooky, whiney and smarmy long enough to get his message through to the Australian people, without making them feel like they needed a hot bath after watching an entire interview with him. From Lateline :
TONY JONES: Alright, a final quick question. On today's Newspoll I see you've accused Kevin Rudd of flouncing around like a celebrity. Now, are you surprised at the way the Australian voters at this point appear to have taken him to their hearts?

ALEXANDER DOWNER: Well, I'm not surprised because I think in the very short term it's somebody different from the leaders the Labor Party's had before and, you know, I mean whether it's fair - - -

TONY JONES: Different to the Prime Minister, the leader of the Liberal Party as

ALEXANDER DOWNER: Let me answer the question maybe, rather than you answer it.
So very, very sooky.
The test for Mr Rudd is going to be in the end a quite different test than the ephemera of opinion polls. The test for Mr Rudd is going to be whether he can establish a credible program and the Australian public in the end conclude that he actually believes in something. The problem for Mr Rudd says he doesn't believe in something, he believes in everything.

In the end it becomes incomprehensible to the public and that is the challenge for Mr Rudd. I think at the moment he's new but he's incomprehensible.
Kevin Rudd is "Mr Incomprehensible". That other Mr Men character.

Shows how much attention anyone in the Liberal Party is paying, as they still, all but fruitlessly, seek the weak links in Rudd's armour. Downer delivered them a heaving tray of ways to precisely and permanently re-brand Rudd, back in February, 2007, but they don't seem to have noticed.


Saturday, July 05, 2008

Downer : Recoil At The Recall

Looking through these blog archives of the past two years so as to put together an appropriately glowing tribute to Australia's longest serving foreign minister, Alexander Downer, (I am a professional, after all) I've found an abundance of posts that really capture the elements of his character that we enjoyed the most : the prissy, the sooky, the evasive, the abusive, the casual teller of appalling lies, and the just plain hysterical.

The following was posted on the Your New Reality back on April 12, 2006. Alexander Downer had been called to answer questions in front of the Cole Commission :

How To Dodge Embarrassing Questions Like A Professional - Downer's Sensational Secrets Revealed

For the purpose of this training session, imagine you are the Foreign Minister of Australia, and you have been for almost a decade.

Now, imagine that you’re caught up in....oh, let’s say, a massive bribery and corruption scandal where an Australian company you’re very fond of slatheringly greased the already greasy palms of one of the world’s worst dictators, with $290 million of pure cash, so much cash they had to use forklifts to move it around, and now imagine you’ve pretty much known all about it for getting onto six, maybe even seven years. Imagine, too, that a lot of memos came over your desk from Iraq, where Australians were telling you what was going on and asking why you were allowing such corruption, such funding of a fucking dictator, to continue.

Today, you’re fronting an inquiry into the scandal, and it’s all a bit heavy. After all, you’ve practically been colluding with the enemy, even if that collusion only involved you turning many a blind eye to what was going down. There's no doubt far much worse, but they don't know that right now. So don't panic.

The questions will be tough, but your Prime Minister set up this inquiry, he set the terms of reference, so you haven’t got too much to worry about. The commissioner in charge can’t prosecute you. All he can do is allow you to be questioned for a few hours by teams of lawyers and QCs.

Okay. Now this might only be an exercise, but this is big league stuff. A major lesson. Now it might seem like you're being thrown in the deep end, but you’re tutor today is the very master blaster of obfuscation and raw deceit, the Foreign Minister of Australia, Alexander Downer.

Every quote used below is a real quote from Downer's appearance on April 10, 2006, at the Cole Inquiry into the corruption of the UN Oil For Food program.

Now, once the questions start rolling your way, try to avoid the simple and boring “No” answer. That kind of response quickly gives QCs the shits.

Saying “No” repeatedly makes it sound like you might be hiding something, or give the appearance that you don’t want to answer the questions honestly. After all, you’re under oath here.

Choose a favourite phrase of negative response and make good use of it.

“I don't recall.”

“I don’t recall.”

“I don’t recall.”

Three times in a row is plenty. You’ll start to look dodgy if you keep it up.

Now it’s time to shift gear. You’re still going to answer in the negative, you’re still going to avoid the question, but you’re going to alter your favourite response, oh so slightly.

“I just don’t recall.”


“No, not that I can recall at all.”


“I can't recall my state of mind when I read the document...”


“I don't recall being given that information.”

Very good.

Throw in a “wells” here and there, it makes you sound like you’re really trying to remember what you really don’t want to remember.

“Well, I simply do not recall.”


“Well, I can only tell you what I can recall...”

Okay, don’t overdo it with the “wells”.

“If he had told me that, I would have thought I'd have remembered it, but I don't recall.”


Now, when the questions get too close for comfort, when they’re honing in on information there is absolutely no way in the world you could possibly not be aware of, it’s time to get cute and cagey.

“Yes, it could be.”

“It may have been.”

“It could have been.”

“It might have been..”

A few “bes” and “beens” is enough. You’ve still got a couple of hours of questioning ahead. Shift back to the old favourite for a while.

“I don’t recall.”

“No, I don’t recall that.”

Careful, you’re almost repeating yourself.

“I don't recall them saying that.”

“I don't recall them saying that to me.”

“I could have done, but I don't recall it.”

“No, not that I can recall at all.”

The key is in variations.

“I can't, of course, recall.”


Next, you want to give the same response, but it’s time to take the attention off yourself and start directing it elsewhere.

“I don't recall him saying that.”


"I don't recall him saying that in the conversation.”

Too many short responses, it’s time for a bit of waffle.

“I am only in a position to tell you what I recall of the conversation, which is very sketchy....”

Good, that actually sounded like you were being honest.

“I don't recall it being brought to my attention, but it is possible it could have been.”

That made too much sense. Throw the bastards off their guard by saying something that is near on incomprehensible.

“Yes, I don't recall that being discussed, but I simply do not recall it is all I can say.”


Remember to point out the time that has elapsed since the events in question took place.

“I have only a very distant recollection, surprisingly. It's a long time ago.”


If they give you a hard time, don’t be afraid to get all poopsy about it.

“Well, my recollection is consistent with the statement that I made. I don't really have anything to add to it.”

And when they try and crank up the pressure, stick to your last answer.

“I stand by my statement.”

“Yes, I stand by my statement.”

“I still stand by my statement.”

What about when you’re specifically asked what you remember?

“I don't remember precisely...”

What if they keep pushing?

“My recollection is of a much more general nature.”

And if they keep insisting on a straight answer?

"I can’t answer that question.”

Say it with authority, like you can’t answer for a reason you simply are not going to reveal. Then repeat.

“I can't answer that question.”

And don’t be afraid to then fall back on an old favourite.

“I can’t recall.”

At some point, someone is going to point out that you seem to be having recall problems, even though you’ve said the word ‘recall’ twenty or more times in an hour. Try this to throw them off guard.

“No-one's memory is perfect.”

And do it with a pout.

When you know that they know that you know they know, admit you did it, just not completely.

“I may have done.”

But did you?

“I can't tell you.”

Why not?

“I have no recollection of it.”

What a brilliant student you are! Alexander will be very proud.

And, finally, when you feel as though you’ve exhausted all the variations and alternates, but you know the questioning is drawing to a close, you may choose to go back to your stand-by, but give it some added emphasis.

“I just can't recall it at all.”

And there you have it.

Now you know how to avoid answering the tough questions just like Alexander Downer would.

And did, yesterday.

Your certificate of achievement is in the mail.
Alexander Downer : A Physically Robust Scarlett O'Hara

The politician who was beyond parody is farewelled in tributes that are, appropriately enough, also beyond parody. Almost...

The Professional Idiot :
Downer is a man who - like all rounded people - has a sense of humor and a keener sense of the ridiculous. Likewise, as Foreign Minister he could cut to the moral centre of an issue, and...never confused process with purpose. He is a true humanist, with all the passions you’d expect and want.
Just Another Murdoch Pro-War, Pro-Violence Propagandist :
(Downer) always has the scent of combat in his nostrils, he doesn't hold personal grudges long and has to a remarkable degree the Scarlett O'Hara virtue of regarding each new day as a new beginning and a chance to do something great.
Downer is like Scarlett O'Hara...
Downer was physically the more robust foreign minister.

This isn't political commentary from Greg Sheridan, it's a sobbing confession of man love.

He is blessed with a constitution that allows him to sleep whenever he's tired, wherever he is.

Downer has narcolepsy? Perhaps it was all the free booze...

He plays golf and tennis and until a few years ago played squash.

Mmmm, Downer in tennis shorts. Anyone?

In private he is great company with a raucous, witty and deeply literate sense of humour...

He knows a few jokes about beating the shit out of your wife.

Although Downer is in many ways very open and straightforward, there is a lot about him that is a distinct contrast to his public image....

You could only hope so. His public image is smeared with the blood of war and dirty money and dodgy dealings on Iraq and East Timor's oil.
Downer is a pretty avid reader of classic literature, history and biography. The book he has most recently read is The Return of History and the End of Dreams by American foreign policy neo-conservative Robert Kagan.
If Downer's reading Kagan's latest book about why the West must immediately kill more Muslims, in Iran this time, before dealing with those commie bastards in China, we should consider ourselves entirely blessed that Downer has been removed from Australian politics.
So many things conspire against history judging Downer fairly. He comes from a distinguished family. There is some money in his family. He has a just slightly plummy accent. He was an unsuccessful leader of the Opposition. He is a self-confident conservative. These are the main charges of indictment against Downer...
No, that's a cold load of old toad. The main charges of indictment against Downer are - trying to rip off the East Timorese with used-car salesman tactics during oil treaty negotiations; The Iraq War; Saddam's Non-WMDs; the AWB scandal; Australians held without charge for four years, and more, by our American allies; cracking jokes about domestic violence in front of victims of domestic violence; actively trying to ferment civil war and civilian slaughter in Fiji; having psycho-whiny phone-throwing temper tantrums in front of foreign diplomats...

Greg Sheridan's farewell to Downer is called : Regrets At Giant's Passing.

I'm not sure why Downer's diplomatic post to Cyprus is viewed by Liberals as some sort of victory. Rudd has effectively removed Downer from the Australian political stage when the Liberals need every loud, cutting voice they can get (no matter how whiny) to shred the Rudd government as they quickly roll out new and what will prove to be unpopular policy.

Downer making any kind of contribution to the political debate in Australia, from Cyprus, will look absurd, and desperate.

Downer is gone. He's irrelevant. Nobody's going to care what he has to say anymore, unless Cyprus explodes into fresh violence, and with dodgy Downer in town who knows what could happen.