Thursday, January 27, 2011

WA band Gyroscope's Baby, I'm Gettin' Better only reached Number 40 on the Triple JJJ Hottest 100, but for me it's the Australian pop song of 2010, short and sweet, an infectious chorus, great lyrics, the whole thing absolutely crackling with energy.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I've run this before, but every year when the talk returns to 'What Does It Mean To Be An Australian?' I usually think of this piece first, still relevant, still powerful, almost 100 years after it was written by C.E.W Bean on the eve of World War I :
In 1914, Australians were only 126 years from their first settlement in this continent...we were only 101 years from the first crossing of the Blue Mountains, only 63 (years) from the first gold rush, 58 (years) from the first establishment here of democratic self-government. Some Australian who went to the war had ancestors still alive who could remember some of the first generation of countrymen; many had grandparents or great grandparents who could tell them of the gold rush, the bushrangers, the later explorers and the imported convicts.

Yet, though many of the older men and women had actually lived in them, the colonial days were, by 1914, almost as extinct of those of William the Conqueror.

The people of the six colonies, which had federated only fourteen years before, regarded themselves as being in the forefront of human progress, and indeed, in some not unimportant respects they had reason to do so.

When emigrating from Britain most of their ancestors had half-consciously tried to cast off what they vaguely felt to be elements of inequality and injustice in the inherited social systems of Europe.

They were disrespectful of old methods, eager to try out new ones. They had of late deliberately changed the whole basis of their wage system, in an effort to adjust it to the public conscience in place of the uncontrolled results of supply and demand.

They had made many mistakes, due to vague thinking and inadequate study, but they had achieved something.

They had established at least one very great and successful industry - that of wool production - and had managed to so spread its profits that real wages were then possibly higher in Australia than anywhere else in the world; at all events the life of the ordinary man, woman and child contain probably more healthy recreation than anywhere else.

Public education then compared favourably with that of any people except perhaps those of Scandinavia; in the enjoyment of such modern material benefits as telephones and electric light Australians were ahead of the British though behind the Americans.

Probably nowhere were the less wealthy folk more truly free, or on such terms of genuine social equality with the rich, in dress, habits and intercourse....

It is true that in one respect living conditions in Australia - as in most newly-settled lands, even the United States - differed widely from those in older countries; a vast gap existed between the conditions in country and city. In the cities life was not markedly different from that of any great European or American town; but country life was in many parts still set in almost pioneering environment.

Yet the outback homesteads often contain surprising evidence of culture. It was much more than a superficial sign that the women who drove in to meet the mail train at a distant siding often dressed in the fashion of Paris, London, or New York.

And if in the bars and hostels even of the big cities at racetimes and on holidays there was sometimes evidence of the Wild West, there was little inferiority complex about the people of this particularly free country.

Its universities were in many ways progressive; its governments were launching into social experiments. Its business and political leaders thoroughly believed in its future and, with only 4 1/2 million white people (and perhaps 100,000 Australian blacks) in the continent, they borrowed freely from overseas to launch into industrial and social enterprises.

Many young Australians tended to condemn the English immigrant for his comparative slowness and lack of confidence in dealing with the unknown men and conditions, and were irritated by his certitude as to the superiority of the methods of the "old country".

The Australian ballad writers, Gordon, Lawson, Paterson, Ogilivie and others, were constantly read and quoted. The people were not formally religious, but there was a marked comradeliness in their outlook, and no degree of economic pressure could induce them to abandon it.

The people, newly federated, were at this stage very consciously intent upon building themselves into a great nation.

Without giving the matter much thought, most Australians assumed that the development of their country would be similar to that of the United States.

...with easy optimism, Australian anticipated that within a century or so her 5 million people would be increased to 60 if not 100 million.

The historian, who tries to to discover what motive most powerfully moved the Australian people at that interesting stage, will probably come to the conclusion that tradition - such as is consciously or unconsciously handed down in almost every word or action by parents and teachers to children, by priests and pastors, professional trades and business men to their successors, by witters to readers, even by older children to younger - was immensely strong and enduring.

The tradition was largely British...But with the British standards were mingled those of the pioneers - the backwoodsmen, and the men of the great ruins and the mining fields.

It was to these last that Australians owed their resourcefulness and readiness to grapple with their objectives even against authority, and also their basic creed, in industry as in war, that a man must at all costs stand by his mate.

...they clung to the principle of standing by the weaker brother.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Toowoomba Police released this jarring image from the day a churning, metres high, river of floodwaters slashed through the centre of their city. They wanted to find out if anyone knew who the person caught up in the floods was, and if they survived.

A few hours later it was revealed the girl survived, pulled from the water by rescuers "a fair way down" from where she was photographed fighting for her life in a shocking reality undreamed of, unplanned for, only minutes earlier in the middle of a summer's day in an Australian city.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Beauty In The Debris

All the following images are screengrabs from this incredible high resolution NearMap satellite image of flooded Brisbane on January 13.

Here's some of the things that caught my eye.

On the Queensland and Brisbane floods, here's some thoughts and links from my Twitter feed. It's not a detailed catalogue of the events as they unfolded, it's a bit more random.

January 1, 2011 :
So all those who went ballistic when the Australian military said natural disasters/extreme weather posed bigger threat than terrorists...

do u get it now? Do u understand? Extreme weather events are kicking Australians' butts far worse than terrorists could ever hope to.
Jan 3 :Rockhampton residents approached by "men with guns on their hips", told to evacuate "or else", according to ABCNews
Jan. 4 : Rockhampton, an Australian city of 75,000, completely cut off by floodwaters. No rail, no roads, no airport.

Jan. 4 ; Even wild kangaroos understand it's safer in a boat than in the water of the Queensland floods

I love a sunburnt country, a land of building collapsing flashfloods, of summer snow, of town consuming firestorms, of locust & mice plagues.
January 11 :
Queenslanders told to prepare emergency kits, continuing flood crisis could last "weeks, months"

State Emergency Workers are incomprehensibly brave : the look of smiling, stunned disbelief at 00:51.

Car stacking in Toowoomba, by Mother Nature

Watch the white van slam into a tree at 00:35. A man is clinging to that tree. He was rescued.

QLD premier Anna Bligh reveals suburbs in Brisbane will be sacrificed to preserve integrity of Wivenhoe dam (stop it overflowing)

Flash-Flooded Creek To Cars : I Will Take You, And You, And You. And That Blue Car, Too

QLD premier Anna Bligh looks stressed? Imagine being told, after the longest day of your life, "This is now a Queensland MegaDisaster."

Brisbane residents told stay in your homes, off roads, wait until announcement of your suburb being evacuated

Of the 23 SE QLD dams, 17 are overflowing after reaching maximum capacity, and three are releasing water through emergency gates

Australian PM Julia Gillard on the Queesland MegaDisaster, Jan. 11 :
"To people of QLD, I understand the past few days have been very harrowing, but there are dark days ahead.

"...we've seen walls of water smashing into cars & buildings....people hanging on for dear life...

"people are frightened, desperately waiting for news of their loved thoughts my sympathies are with you.

"...with floodwaters so dangerous, so swiftly moving, we have to brace ourselves for more tragedy.
January 12 :
Journalists nudging closer to asking PM Gillard : "Dozens of people were swept to their deaths, no warning. Who's responsible?"
In some areas of Grantham, flash flood waters rose 20 feet in less than two minutes according to resident on ABCNews24

Love the community spirit on twitter, people offering rooms and help to strangers (affected by #Qldflood). You people rock

Brisbane Lord Mayor warned in Oct. 2010 of looming repeat of 1974 floods 'I guarantee it'.

The wreckage of Grantham, in the Lockyer Valley, smashed by an eight metre high wall of water
Winner of #WorldsWorstLooter. As policeman discusses looters (on news), TV news montage shows man running with wheelbarrow of gym equipment.

No truth to Channel 9 story re crocodiles on jet skis heading down into Brisbane River to claim flooded streets of Brisbane as their own. Damn.

High rise residential towers on Brisbane River evacuating. Ferry, Riverwalk, party barge to be destroyed to save bridges

Electricity shut off across Brisbane CBD, food shortage rumours, 80,000 without power, fears of water contamination

Raw sewage in Brisbane River, police protecting supermarkets, expected 50 suburbs/40,000 homes/3000 streets affected by floodwaters.

Weird, people dropping out of timelines, suddenly quiet, as phone batteries run down, networks choke, internet access crashes in
January 13 :
It takes too long for newsreaders to announce what parts of Darwin, QLD, NSW, Victoria, Tas. are flooding. Just names places not flooded.

People without power in Brisbane calling ABC612 asking for them to do time announcements, no wind up or battery clocks anymore.

Lokyer Valley hasn't had fresh water since Monday, supplies almost gone. Brisbane food shops don't know whn supplies will get thru

Blackout. 110,000 homes/business without power in Brisbane, low lying areas not expected to get power back on for min. 48 hours.

As terrible as Brisbane will look at dawn, most damage will still be underwater. When waters go Sun/Mon, full scale of destruction revealed.

Must be absolutely devastating to be a Brisbane evacuee in a shelter & 1st thing u see this morning on TV is your home flooded up to the roof.

Sssssss. Phone techs open pit for #Qldfloods repairs, find 5 of the world's most venomous snakes waiting.

#MegaDisaster2011 Nearly 12,000 homes in Brisbane/area flooded through. More than 2.5 million people impacted

It's only really panic buying when you're screaming continually as you try to decide between white or grain bread.

Does Kevin Costner have some kind of miraculous machine that can convert sloppy fetid flood mud into beer?

QLDPolice : 60 schools, 7 TAFEs, 19 remote teacher homes and 86 kindergartens/ child care centres damaged/closed

Two-thirds of Victoria to get 10cm of rain in next 24 hours. Incredible, this country is turning into fucking Waterworld.
January 14 :
RadioNational caller airs "rumours" re "armed looters" in Coopers Plain, QLD. Host says police and army in Brisbane to stop this

Emergency workers, ADF, Coroner's office retrieving bodies in Grantham. Nighmare scenes for workers, bodies in cars, trees

Queensland police double looting penalty. Steal water, food, gas bottles = 10 years. Presumably families won't be driven to that

Surreal listening to ABC 612 as Queenslanders detail sleepless night watching water creep into thr homes. "Water goes where it wants to go"

The only official reports of looters confirmed by gov/police in Queensland floods in past few days are about six busted looting alcohol, 3 trying to take boats
January 15 :
20-something Queenslanders already teeth-grittingly annoyed by '74 flood veterans saying, "Yeah, but this one wasn't so bad"

The only way to flood proof a city built on an ancient flood plain would be to rebuild Brisbane on stilts.
January 16 :
When will see the developers & gov. ministers responsible for building so many houses on known flood plains named & shamed?

bitumen your front lawn? Victorian flash flood sheers off road surface, deposits it outside house.

3 metre high, 3m wide, 100m long debris pile filled with animal corpses, toxic rubbish to be "dismantled" in search for missing

I expected conspiracy sites to start linking HAARP & Australian floods, that's normal, that's what they do to keep their readers happy

But I didn't expect to read so many journos going on about "Mother Nature's Fury", her "rage" & capitalising 'Her' as was once done for He as in God

(Pic) Man In Ankle Deep Victoria Floods Reads About People In Shoulder Deep Queensland Floods

You Can Follow Me On Twitter Here

Sunday, January 16, 2011

How Close Brisbane Came

By Darryl Mason

When the Brisbane River, swollen by floodwaters pouring down from mountain ranges and across the ancient floodplains, swollen further by a king tide surging in from the sea, finally hit its peak, it was more than one metre less than predicted. That is, far below the worst case scenario the Queensland government, emergency services and the Australian Defence Force were predicting, and were planning to respond to.

More than 20,000 Brisbane homes are believed to have been affected by the floodwaters. One more metre and the entire sprawl of houses across the centre of the below images would have gone under, along with thousands more streets of homes across Brisbane's suburbs, some to their floorboards some to their roofs. 60,000 perhaps even 80,000 homes, or more.

This was the closest of close calls.

A satellite image of Brisbane from January 13 follows. You can look around the image in greater detail for yourself, here :

And here's a Google Earth image of the normally non-flooded Brisbane :

After everything that the people of Brisbane have been through, everything the residents of hundreds of small towns & villages across Queensland have endured in the past months of what has so often been termed "biblical rains" by the news media and politicians, it seems unfathomable that the worst may be yet to come.

The land is soaked, a decade long dry sponge now squelching with water across hundreds of thousands of square kilometres. The rainy season has only just begun, the first cyclones of 2011 haven't even made landfall yet.

The Queensland government, the long range forecasters, as do the Australian Defence Forces, know full well what the worst case scenarios for "biblical" flooding could be this year, and it's a lot more Noah than what we've seen so far.

The Big Surprise will not be that this happens again in 2011, to Queensland, to Brisbane, to riverside towns, farms and villages down through New South Wales and into, across, Victoria.

The Big Surprise will be that it doesn't.

More to come....

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Secret American Life Of Kochie

Now we know where Channel 7 Sunrise host David Koch goes on all those extended vacations :

Either Kochie is lying when he says "I'm actually a bit of a homebody" and is instead secretly jetting off to the US to help The Tea Party shake the American two party system to its core, or someone who put together this piece for TruthOut used the first picture of a 'David Koch' they found on Google Images instead of a photo of the actual American billionaire.

I'm going with Kochie is a rotten lying bastard.

Spotted by @Paris_David

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Brisbane Is Being Evacuated

"I'm So Glad I Parked Out The Front Today"

Floodwaters are now entering Brisbane's CBD, and according to locals on Twitter, are rising rapidly.

More than 32 suburbs of Brisbane are now being inundated, office buildings in the city are being evacuated, roads are filling rapidly, with both cars and floodwaters. Some evacuation centres are also reportedly under water. At 1.30m, the emergency message to the people of Brisbane was to stay in their homes, off the roads, until they hear announcement that their suburb is being evacuated.

ABC News : City Under Siege

Incredible. Traffic cam of flooding on Ipswitch Highway :

update : just found out the above is mostly roadworks.

Some evacuating Brisbane are driving on clogged roads that are now also starting to flood.

The biggest king tides of the year are expected to sweep into the Brisbane River tonight.

The worst of the Brisbane City flooding is not expected to peak until tomorrow afternoon.

More footage from the Toowoomba flash flood yesterday, that may have claimed the lives of more than 6 people.

When you hear people on radio describe floodwaters that rose a metre in a handful of seconds, it's hard to imagine what that must be like to see.

Imagine no more.

Watch the white car hit the bridge at 3:00, get sucked under and shot out the other side.
Just Replace 'Plague Of Blood' With 'Feral Pigs'

According to the Daily Telegraph, this will be NSW in 2011

Okay, I've heard some pretty wild predictions about what the results of rapid climate change might be from the likes of Tim Flannery & ABC's Robyn Williams, but I've never seen even the most apocalyptically-fixated warmitarian fear monger claim the people of New South Wales, in 2011, will suffer "the same fate" as Egypt under the alleged 10 biblical plagues.

The Daily Telegraph, of course :

Fuck! NSW is going to suffer plagues of Blood? Of Frogs? Of Gnats, Wildbeasts, Pestillence, Boils, Hail, Locusts, plagues of Darkness & plagues of Dead Firstborns? All in just one year?

Well, not quite.

The Daily Telegraph has its own version of the plagues detailed in the Book of Exodus :
"Rabbits, mice, feral pigs...snakes. locusts, ticks, cockroaches, sandflies, mosquitoes, bluebottles."
Where it gets really freaky is when you get them crossover plagues, where a few ramp up at the same time, and start mingling.

That's when you get rabbits on feral pigs hurling cockroach encrusted bluebottles at fleeing humans.

It could happen.


However, the story does offer up is this all too real and vomitous reality, for night-time wearers of lip gloss and ice-cream dribblers :
...he issued a special warning for women who wear the flavoured varieties to bed.

"They can smell the flavours and to them it's just food."

Cockroaches like to lick and nibble human lips in the dark of night, depending on what your lips smell like.

Remember, the deeper you sleep, the less likely you are to hear those tiny little lapping noises, coming from just below your nose.

It's probably best not to know.

Monday, January 10, 2011

"An Instant Inland Tsunami"

Queenslanders Told To Prepare For Ongoing Flood Emergencies That Could Last "Weeks, Months"

This is the usually calm, sun baked Queensland city of Toowoomba :

This is Toowoomba in the middle of what a police spokesman called "an instant inland tsunami" :

Yesterday afternoon, the central business district of Toowoomba as was as busy as it usually gets on a Monday. Rain began to fall, some took shelter under shopfronts to wait it out, others climbed into their cars with their kids and shopping and expected a delayed trip home.

Then the rain hammered down. Minutes later, a waist-high wall of water swept through the city centre. Nobody knew it was coming. Nobody could prepare for it. Those caught in it hung on to whatever they could, walls, trees, each other.

Within an hour of the rain beginning, the flood was gone, and shocked survivors climbed out of their battered cars, and exited shops and offices rivering water to stare in disbelief at the devastation.

At least ten people (confirmed so far) are dead from the Toowoomba flash flood.

It ripped children from their parents arms and crashed through the front doors of homes and dragged people out into the churning streets.

Watch the white van at 00:32. A man clings desperately to the tree the van is slammed into. He was later rescued.

ABC News :
Resident Joanne Kruger says it was like being in a disaster movie.

"It was like the tide had come in dramatically, like rolling waves across the road," she said.


People were stranded on roofs in Grantham, near Gatton, where residents say the water rose about a metre every few seconds.

"As far as the eye can see north, south, east and west is just water," one local resident said.

Water, and even water tanks.

The aftermath :

Cars are Mother Nature's play toys. She will toss them around as she pleases.

The Toowoomba Chronicle :
(QLD premier Anna Bligh) said the waters had hit the communities at "lightning speed".

"Mother Nature has unleashed something shocking..."

As an example, the premier said the river at Gatton, east of Toowoomba, had risen 9 metres in the course of the afternoon.

The Courier Mail :

Through Toowoomba city and down to the Lockyer Valley, the torrent washed houses off their stumps and snapped 4m-high trees at the base of their trunks.

Video footage showed families scrambling desperately to get out of their cars as they were washed away in a sea of water.

Landslides and the wild water picked up cars and tossed them into trees, turning the vehicles some with people still inside into missiles.

People cowered on their roofs and pleaded to be rescued as the water engulfed homes.

The Brisbane Times :

"It only takes 15 centimetres of fast flowing water to sweep a person off their feet and into a flooded waterway..."

"It only takes 60 centimetres of floodwater to push a four-wheel drive off the road. "People underestimate the danger of these waters...
As of late Monday night, up to 50 people are still reported as missing.

Queensland's capital Brisbane will be hit by floodwaters starting Tuesday.

At least four more days of heavy rain are expected over the city, and local suburbs.

Dozens of south east Queensland towns and villages are being evacuated, an unknown number of people are spending the night on the roofs of their houses, hundreds of kilometres of road have been washed away, the premier of Queensland, Anna Bligh, has announced the food crops & coal production losses due the weeks of flooding across the state will impact world markets.

Bligh said after weeks of flooding, Queensland was "desperate".

A photo gallery of surreally beautiful evening images of the empty, flooded Queensland city of Rockhampton.

, shortly after 1pm Monday :

UPDATE : The Brisbane Times :
Queenslanders are being warned to prepare for emergencies as unprecedented floods threaten much of the state.

Residents have been told they may need to fall back on their emergency kits in "coming days, weeks and months"...

"This is a very uncertain time for Queensland residents, and even if you don't experience flooding today, it pays to be prepared for the coming days, weeks and months."

"Emergency kits should contain essential supplies of non-perishable foods and water, clothing, medications, torches and batteries, a battery-operated radio and pet supplies."

Headlines from ABC News :

The rain keeps falling.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The full hour long version of that interview I linked to below between Australia's most outspoken, courageous journalist and Julian Assange :