One flu over the cuckoo’s nest

Yesterday I went to the doctor for the first time in 6 years. It was an unexciting adventure that I’ll attempt to spice up by adding pirates to the retelling:

Since just about the time I gave up McDonalds and all other forms of “fast food” (June 30 as an end of financial year resolution) I’ve been ironically feeling less than healthy. A conspiracy theorist may try to link the two events together. But they, like all conspiracy theorists, would be full of snot. Being the man of action that I inherently am I decided that 3 months was enough time procrastinating and waiting for nature to take its course (and realising that if nature did actually take its course I may in fact be submitting myself to an early death – death by dry cough doesn’t sound that appealing) and I made myself an appointment at Townsville’s “The Doctors” medical centre. I chose that particular centre because I drive by on the way to work and they conveniently have five consecutive ones in their phone number. They also had a lunch time appointment available so I booked it. It was at this point that the pirates (neither metaphorical nor literal, in fact they’re completely fictional in nature) mindlessly interrupted proceedings by firing their canons into the insides of my head, at least that’s how it felt in there yesterday. I bravely fought off the pirates by convincing the captain to stage a mutiny against himself. This proved to be a particularly effective strategy but relies strongly on a tertiary education in persuasive techniques. I employed the three Greeks – Pathos, Logos… and Aramis (a little three musketeers joke there) as my gentle persuaders. When they failed I simply black mailed the pirates with promises of copious amounts of pirate treasure. It just occurred to me that if one of the pirates was black and was wearing black chain-mail you could black mail the black mailed black male. So once the pirates were merrily plundering greener seas, I made my way to the doctor. This Doctor was from an ethnic minority of some sort and since the Doctor Death scandal I’m always a little sceptical about their qualifications. I checked his certificate on the wall – and it turns out he studied in Perth so I’m not sure if that should make me more or less worried. He was efficient and believed me when I diagnosed my symptoms as “flu” and he prescribed a course of steroids, antibiotics, and painkillers now I’m ready to cycle the Tour de France next year.

In other news, I went to a tropical island (Hinchinbrook) last weekend. It’s nice.
I was on a national fishing show last Saturday (I Fish). I didn’t see it. The QNI 2006 North Queensland Tourism Awards are on this Saturday night – everyone who’s anyone is going to be there (including me). They’re on at the port. When I’m feeling particularly self indulgent I’ll update the press release section on our corporate website and you can read all about it.

At some point in the future I think I’ll write about IR reforms and their impact on the length of my allotted daily toilet breaks… It makes me flush just thinking about it.*

*It’s always nice to end on a pun – nb that the * means that last sentence counts as the end and this is a footnote.

Sound of Silence

And no, I’m not referring to the lack of comments on yesterday’s blog…

There was an article I linked to yesterday that I feel is probably worthy of its own blog entry.

I’ve alluded to this story, or at least the artist and song involved at other times in my blog – and in fact a complete history of Art Rock would be incomplete (and hence not a complete history due to said incompleteness) without reference to John Cage who is a doyen of the postmodern music movement.

The story goes, for those too lazy to click the link, that John Cage wrote a song called 4.33 which contained 4’33 minutes of nothing – or didn’t actually contain anything because that would be more correct… Actually the original score contained a series of actions to be performed within the song’s three movements. John Cage then did what all credible rockstars do and died (albeit at the ripe old age of 80 and several years after penning* the classic opus**). Years passed. Another musician, Mike Batt released a silent song – and made the mistake (apparently) of giving Cage some writing credit. John Cage’s record company sued – and Batt eventually settled out of court.

This story is up there with a bunch of really stupid stories that get emailed around to people on a daily basis. One such story, and a personal favourite of mine, was this one, which has since been debunked.

*Can you pen nothing?

** Can an opus be silent?

Big W

Art Rock, not to be confused with rock art, was born out of boredom, a lack of musical talent, and a desire to attract attention for all the wrong reasons.

The underlying philosophy in the creation of the movement was a belief that post modern art could be defined by anything in a frame. A frame did not have to be a physical border – it needed to be some form of recognition that here, within these set confines, lies art. This realisation, and the absence of accountability based on objective judgement in the postmodern movement led to a further theory that this art did not in fact need to be good or pleasing to the senses. This idea is nothing new. However, the nature of postmodernity also allows (sometimes) for blatant plagiarism of ideas and content in the quest for artistic self expression.

Art rock was born in the computer room of one Benjamin Troy Ives. Ben had purchased a brand new electric guitar and somewhat fortuitously also a new edition of the popular Monkey Island computer game series. Suitably distracted by the game Ben’s guitar fell into the hands of the slightly more nefarious writer of this blog (I thought about refering to myself directly in the third person then but refrained on the basis of good taste – I haven’t completely sold out to post modernism). Unfortunately during that day said “musician” had been listening to Triple J’s morning program with a segment featuring culture watcher Craig Schuftan. On this particular day “the Schuf” featured an artist straight from the streets of Chicago, a Mr Wesley Willis.

Standing at 6’6 and weighing way too much to be healthy, Wesley Willis recorded thousands of songs using only his Casio keyboard and, one can only assume, some sort of recording device. The diagnosed schizophrenic traditionally greeted fans with a headbutt to the forehead. (This habit gave him a permanent egg sized bruise on the centre of his head). His songs are amazing. And by amazing I mean in the apparently obsolete “able to bewilder; perplex” sense of the word. Using any objective standard based on a reasonable person’s intestinal fortitude they were terrible – a stream of nonsensical lyrics, followed by an even more irrelevant chorus, followed by the sign off line “Rock over London, rock on Chicago” and then a line straight from the latest advertising campaign – eg “Wheaties – the breakfast of champions”. I wouldn’t personally recommend listening to any Wesley Willis songs – unless I post a link to an inoffensive one here (which I plan to). I also wouldn’t read too much of his wikipedia article because being slightly crazy he often said very offensive things which are now quoted there. Wesley Willis died in 2003. His memory lives on in the hearts and minds of art rockers everywhere. His 3000 songs can also probably be found floating around the internet.

The “stream of consciousness” style lyrics in Wesley Willis songs were an inspiration to many (Justin Timberlake’s stupid lyrics are probably a representation of his stream of consciousness) but the more obtuse element had more appeal to me… and so, sitting on a spare bed in Ben’s computer room I began a downward spiral that would lead to moments like the one captured in my profile photo – where I, guitar in hand, would scream stupid lyrics at the top of my voice. My first steps into the realms of “art rock” involved simply counting in different musical styles over the top of an electric guitar played at obscenely high volumes – often the chord would be identified as a modified d7maj5. As both audience and musician grew increasingly frustrated with the stale formulaic rock these lyrics were changed to more complex, politically motivated, “angst ridden” power ballads (only without the power… or the structure of a ballad)… and 5’s was born. The lyrics are included below for your aesthetic pleasure. (feel free to cover this song at your next birthday party/social event)

Twenty Five
Forty Five

(repeated ad nauseum – which doesn’t take very long)

For a more abstract, and less true, history of Art Rock please read here (I promise that blog will be updated at some point in the future).

Cannibal (press) corps(e)

The battle for the hearts and minds of the average stupid Australian (or the below average Australian, or the 2.6million viewers who tune in nightly to Current Affairs programming on Australian commercial television) between Channel 7’s Today Tonight and Channel 9’s A Current Affair stooped to an all time low this week with the mission to save little Papua village menu item Waa Waa. Waa Waa is an example of nominal onomatopoeia – he’s a very sad little boy. Sad because his parents died horribly and suddenly when he was a smaller boy. And sad because as a result his village have decided he’s cursed and like all cursed little Papuan children he must be eaten. Now, not wishing to make light of little Waa Waa’s situation – it’s no laughing matter really. The media feeding frenzy surrounding his situation is causing a bit of a stir as each media outlet seeks to save the fortunes of the little fella. Today Tonight’s queen of shtick, Naomi Robson, and her crew made a secret dash to Papua (partially to escape the negative stigma surrounding her decision to don the khaki in tribute to Steve Irwin)… only it turned out to be not so secret… and not so legal – the team were discovered to be working on tourist visas and were promptly deported. Their head of programming has accused Nine’s 60 minutes reporter who covered the original story of shamefully (or shamelessly) tipping off the authorities and leaving the poor boy to his fate. Claims Nine vehemently deny. They also believe leaving Waa Waa in his village in the foreseeable future is better than forcibly removing him at this tender stage of life (hopefully not too tender) as he’s not scheduled for the dinner plate for another 10 years or so. The story provides both networks with a little fodder for doing what they do best – and that’s eating one another.

The title of this post of course refers to popular(sic) death metal band the Cannibal Corpse and is a play on the situation and the press corp. Clever hey.

In other news it seems the best way to earn a stay of metaphorical execution in a high profile case under the Australian judicial system is to attempt suicide (at least if you’re Steve Vizard’s book keeper).

It seems the SMH have answered my long standing economics and employment theory – supply and demand means the crappiest jobs require the highest pay – it’s all about scale really – cleaning toilets in outback WA is probably worth 4 times what I earn…

Beazley and Howard seem determined to have all Australians singing from the same songbook (quite literally – at least in the mind of a talkback caller who suggested all Australians should know the words to the national anthem). They’re putting mateship on top of the pile of Australian values – which is all nice and stuff but the SMH has different ideas about the priorities and the issue at hand here, and here, and here.

Former Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Jim Soorley is a first rate spanner (that’s a tool). I can’t read his column without wanting to simultaneously write some form of complaint about his poor standards of intellectual engagement with an issue, blow up his letter box, and punch the nearest inanimate object. Luckily, impulse control is something I’m working on.

Stay tuned for my in depth profile of the seminal influence on my Art Rock career – it should be online in the next couple of days.

Rock over London, Rock on Chicago… you can look up that sign off online if you want a clue.

Danger is his middle name

Mat Rogers has shocked the Union supporting his world by turning his back on what is ultimately a very stupid game.

The league community is set to welcome the dual international back with open arms as he rejoins the newly formed Gold Coast Titans in 2008.

All this is good news. Great news really… Rogers was a revelation in union – he taught them a thing or two about ball skills, running, tackling and kicking. He was pretty much the complete Union package… and he was only a league winger. Imagine if a really talented league player switched. Anyway I digress. The thing that struck me about the Rogers story… and in a subject dear to my heart (I was considering a blog entry exclusively on this issue) is the name of his third child. Max Danger Rogers. Now it may seem clichéd… but Danger is this kid’s middle name. And Max Danger… that’s got to be up there with Max Power (or in fact Will Power)… ahh… what a name.

In other blogworthy areas… When I asked my CEO if there was anything I could do for her today she asked if I could provide her an extra hour in the day – which got me thinking – if we reduced hours to 57.6 minutes we could have 25 hours in one 1440 minute period… It’s just a thought – I’d say we all waste, on average, more than 2.5 minutes per hour. The evidence of this is the time people spend reading my blog.

Also, I was reading something the other day where someone wrote about waiting with “baited” breath… does that mean they sat with a prawn on their tongue? I can’t remember where it was… but it got me thinking about the word “bated” – how does “with restraint” come into a debate – does a debate remove restraint? Who knows? English is a fun language.

That’s all for me today following my last mammoth effort… stay tuned for more tales from the adventurous emails of Ben and Nathan – there’s a humdinger of a discussion happening currently…


Free will vs election

Disclaimer – Be warned, this blog is long and talks about politics – for a lighter look at the world – go outside during the day, or hit your light switch…

Dear Andrew (and friends)*

I was sitting at the Coffee Club in Brookside (a free plug for my sister’s workplace) yesterday drinking a very fine cappuccino (exaggerated for the sake of the story) with some very fine people. The fine people included the always entertaining Mr Andrew Poyser, the always enjoyable Mrs Sarah Poyser, and the always very lovely Miss Robyn Burt. Roo apparently thinks my blog is full of rubbish but would read it if it was an email addressed to him – or would participate in a conversation with similar content – also known as talking turnstile**. And so today’s blog is in that form in a bid to double my readership by including Andrew and Sarah (and unborn Poyser who I suggest should be called Nathan) that would mean my total readership consists of 5 Poysers – Mark, Steve, Roo, Sarah and unborn Poyser… meaning that Poysers represent 83% of my total readership of 6***. If this blog were a democracy they’d have a clear majority. Luckily**** this blog is not a democracy.

Unfortunately Queensland is. I say unfortunately because based on last Saturday’s election there just aren’t enough quality candidates to fill all the required positions in Queensland’s parliament. I think the skills shortage stretches to the government. An interesting side debate at this point would be to discuss the merits of using high wages and good super packages to attract top quality people into government. It’s an argument that makes sense to me. Otherwise you’re left with showboaters who just do it for the attention and don’t actually know how to govern. At that point the achievements of government become the development of a sports stadium and several other tourism and lifestyle enhancements. Ala the Beattie government.

Here’s my retrospective analysis of the former Beattie government’s performance from a series of emails involving my politically motivated friends Ben and Joe^

Email 1 from Ben:

“Why do you think Beattie isn’t very good. I find him quite the vessional^^ leader. I’m trying to think over the past 8 years and I find it really hard to pull Beattie apart. OK, our health system needs work and Beattie probably should take care of that. And 2 years ago I said that trains were going to become a bigger and bigger issue in Brisbane and despite all the growing concern Beattie has ignored this and I think this will blow up in his face next term. Hell, public transport around Brisbane is getting worse and worse and I think this may have gone under the radar this election by next time I doubt he’ll be so lucky. The Goodwill Bridge was a bit frowned upon and the Smart State campaign wasn’t the huge success that he (and no one else) thought it would be but they were just stupid projects on the side and well, I kinda like the Goodwill Bridge and I think everyone who uses it would agree and only people with no reason to go near it really opposed it, like most things.”

Well, I don’t like Beattie for several reasons and my reasoning is included below – however I should point out that I’m pretty sure the Goodwill Bridge was a local government (Brisbane City Council) development so the state can’t really claim credit for it anyway – should they want to…

My response 1:

“If you break it down to the lowest common denominator – the State government are responsible for health, education and roads. Beattie has absolutely stuffed up every one of these areas.

All the problems are of his making – if he’s going to blame the population increase for the health problems that’s his fault. His government have aggressively targeted relocators from other states. It’s his fault. The water shortage wouldn’t be as big a deal if the population was a more manageable size in the South East corner. Public Transport and road congestion wouldn’t be as big a deal if he hadn’t been busily attracting 3000 people to the South East every week (that figure may be slightly inflated). Sure more people means more money for the state from Federal coffers and a greater capacity to generate economic stimulus – but if you’re not supporting more people with more infrastructure then quite frankly you’re buggered.

Beattie is the master of superficial – he’s a great ambassador for the state – but his policies are screwy and the state will gradually eat itself if he’s left in control.

He’s trying to claim that the rate of employment in Queensland as a positive outcome of his governance – which is tripe – everyone in Queensland should be employed – we have a skills shortage in North Queensland (and in fact everywhere). If the government was training and educating people better for the last 8 years that wouldn’t be a problem – the fact is people aren’t pursuing apprenticeships, people aren’t going to uni as much as they were… sure people are getting jobs, but anyone can operate a checkout, drive a forklift or pack a crate.

He’s rubbish. His policies are rubbish. Luckily for him, the opposition are rubbish too.”

Ben responded with a very long email which I’ll summarise for the sake of brevity… or less verbosity…

“Point 1 – The entire campaign was aimed at bringing skilled people to the state, which in actual fact has failed terribly with more skilled people going out and a net massive increase in stupid people, mostly pensioners/retires I noticed in the last demography reports I saw. So basically Queensland is becoming the new Florida, and now I think of it the comparisons don’t end there.

Point 2 – I think health problems are partly intertwined with lack of trained staff. Which brings us to education. This is an area i dont totally agree with you.… blaa blaa blaa^^^ …. university education rates are at the highest they have ever been in Australia, I was working with the census data not long ago that showed that since 91 the number of people with degrees increased from 6.9 to 12.8 (those numbers might be slightly off, they were around there though) and this census it was predicted to be at 14.9 (we will find this figure for sure mid next year).Now, I could simply go and find this report as it is in my massive pile of papers on my desk, but i am lazy. However, my point is the number of university educated people is rapidly increasing, as university is seen as an easier job than work (or so I presume). However, if you mapped the growth in certain areas, such as doctors, they should be increasing at the rate of population growth..

Point 3 – Finally, there will always be some unemployment, as it is made up of cyclic, redistribution and lazy ppl.(sic)(editors note: funny that Ben is too lazy to write people) also, I’m not sure if this is true but I think it might also be the case the proportion of the population of labour age in the labour force may be changing, as further study is eating a chunk of the population up that has historically been a very productive age bracket.”

That really is a summary – he clearly doesn’t spend enough time working…However, lots of the stuff I scrapped was Brisbane specific – ie skills shortage and public transport are bad in South East Queensland etc etc… So here’s my response – and that ought to close out today’s entry – it ought to, but then it would miss my really good ideas that I’ll now close with instead *(part b) :

1. Queensland is bigger than Brisbane

2. A fairly large chunk of the state’s economy is derived from minerals processing and mining – a large percentage of those operations occur in the state’s north – eg Townsville is a $10.2 billion regional economy growing at 12% per annum.

3. Beattie has made a lot of stupid industrial policy announcements in this election. Bowen is a rubbish site and making it a major point in an industrial triangle is a stupid decision. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

I don’t count arts degrees as university degrees – I have a feeling that I read that while numbers are currently up – enrolment figures for universities (particularly regional universities) are in decline – this may be because of increased competition (more places across the board means that some unis are sharing their former stranglehold on places) but JCU is undergoing massive funding cuts because they aren’t getting the numbers they need. We’re pouring out lazily educated students who are too lazy to move anywhere into a lazy workforce. The fact that I got a degree without visiting the library, attending classes, or in fact learning anything particularly useful during my degree reflects poorly on the standard of education on offer.

The skill shortage generally refers to skilled labour – ie tradespeople, apprentices and construction workers – there are already too many engineers and economists… We don’t need uni trained people really – we need people who are prepared to do the jobs that are readily available and essential. But at the end of the day, no one wants to be a sewerage treatment worker… or do anything hard. Because people are lazy and stupid… once again that’s the result of a crap education system allowing crap parents to breed crap children and it’s a downward cycle of crap.

We then involved Joe in the discussion because quite frankly, he’s a political animal…

Joe what do you think of Peter Beattie?

I will be spending 4 hours handing out “how-to-vote” cards tomorrow. Enough said.

I asked who for and he got a little insulted – but this is why (brilliant election idea number 1):

I ask because I figure you could produce your own how to vote cards and hand them out for neither party… That’s what I’d be doing.

Brilliant election idea number 2:

What do you think would happen if we encouraged enough people to write our names on their ballot papers across every electorate?

Brilliant election idea number 3:

I think the Coalition should completely target their campaigns in Beattie’s and Bligh’s electorates – putting all your eggs in one basket is frowned upon but I think if they could knock the leaders off their perches it would be almost literally a major coup. Imagine if Springborg and Flegg had spent the entire campaign period doorknocking personally in the seat of Brisbane and convincing residents to change their vote. If they could push that campaign widely in the media it may have shown they were proactively doing something about getting rid of Beattie.

I’m suggesting they work hard at getting rid of Beattie – it would be the best way to ensure the destruction of the labor government. Think about it take away Beattie and Labor are stuffed – name one other Labor politician outside of your local member and the big portfolios… Beattie has tried to be all things to all men – he hogged the ministerial portfolios to the point where he was minister for about six things as well as Premier. They’d be stuffed without him. He only just managed to scrape 50% of the vote in his electorate anyway – unfortunately it was split between 4 other candidates.

*I had to add the (and friends) because addressing this entry to Roo and then mentioning him in the first paragraph would have been odd. The joys of non linear writing…

** a very old in joke based loosely on an AFL ad and the concept that the content of our conversation is somehow a marketable commodity and would attract large numbers of interested parties…

*** estimated.

**** Luckily used loosely – I’m sure they’d do a good and responsible job of governing my blog.

^ Names not changed to protect the guilty.

^^ A word made up by Ben – to be understood based entirely on the context of use in the sentence. It’s like a random adjective. Or a vessional adjective.

^^^ irrelevant disagreement removed


Everybody loves …mond

There are certain moments in time that everyone remembers. Big incidents create certain residual memories. Points frozen in time. Everyone remembers what they were doing and where they were when they heard that Princess Diana died (I was in the car driving back from a youth group outing to Pizza Hut). Everyone remembers what they were doing on September 11 2001 (I was watching the West Wing). I have a feeling today will be one of those moments.

Here are some of my observations on today’s experience:

1. Denial is really the first (illogical) step in coming to terms with bad news. I had the same experience with several people today – “are you joking,” “surely this is a hoax”… let me suggest that that’s an unreasonable response – a mainstream media outlet can not afford to falsely proclaim the death of someone famous (ever since Mark Twain’s demise was famously “greatly exaggerated” media outlets have been careful – except for a few notable slip ups). It also wouldn’t be a funny joke.

2. The phrase “unexpected death” should be limited to deaths which are genuinely surprising. While I respected and admired Steve Irwin and his genuinely laid-back larrikin style – the fact is if you make a living playing with very dangerous animals there should be a level of expectation that you’ll meet your demise (untimely as it may be) in this manner. I guess what was unexpected was that he was killed by a comparatively innocuous animal.

3. Genuine people are hard to find – and appreciated by the masses. Steve Irwin is one of those people that no one has a bad word to say about. His conservation based agenda may not strike a chord with you – but his passion for the cause was incredible. He genuinely practiced what he preached. There’s a lesson there for anyone who is trying to engage with people in a real way.

4. Going doing something that you love is still going… How is it better to die at the hands of something you love than at the hands of something you don’t? Would it be more satisfying to be shot by your spouse or by a stranger – I’m going to suggest the second would be at the very least less disatisfying (how many negatives are there in that sentence – what I mean was – being killed by a stranger would be less emotionally distressful than being killed by your spouse… maybe… or maybe it’s all the same. You’re dead anyway right?)

5. Jokes about these situations never take too long to emerge – I’ll leave you to investigate the suncream joke for yourselves – “it would have offered protection from harmful rays” is the punchline. I’m not looking forward to seeing the Chaser do anything on him this Friday.

I was going to blog about the Catholic church and their exorcist’s verdict on Harry Potter – but I’ll put that on the backburner while I deal with the burning issues… Is using the same word twice in the sentence funny the second time? Rarely… but, like a Harry Potter omnibus, I’m on fire tonight…


Knite in shining armour

I have had it. I’m putting up a fite. I couldn’t sit by any longer and not bite.* This blite can go no further. I can’t stand the site** of the word “nite.” I mite* have been prepared to let it slide if it were restricted to text messages and sms… but no. Now it’s serious. If I see one more sign advertising “one nite” DVD rental, one nite rates, et al, I will tear down the signs and do bad things to them (again doing bad things to inanimate objects is a hollow threat – particularly if it’s a drum – instead I’m going to carry a red marker around and correct the grammar on said signs (or sines?). Do it rite or don’t do it at all I say…No longer will I stay silent on the bastardisation of the English language.

I just don’t understand. How is night that much more complex to wright(sic) (haha…). It’s two letters people. TWO LETTERS***. I mean sure, if you’re texting and have a sore thumb abbreviate by all means. But to change the constitution of a word in your advertising is ludicrous. It borders on negligence. I heard a funny story the other day from Mr Scooter (who needs to update his blog – I’m sick of reading the same post on my daily perusal…) about a teacher who incorrectly corrected some spelling – I won’t bore you with the details. Needless (that word looks a lot like needles – an s can change everything) to say it was horrific and terrifying – what sort of people do we let into the classroom these days. I read an interesting article about teachers and the slipping academic standards the other day – it turns out that lots of people are becoming teachers who shouldn’t (and some are becoming teachers who should – and that evens up the balance somewhat – but what about the children not in that good teacher’s class).

Please feel free to share your educational horror stories…

*actually correct – a bight being something quite different altogether.

** again – technically correct provided I can’t stand the location of the word nite – wherever it occurs.

*** I just broke an unwritten law for my blog and capitalised two entire words – it was for emphasis only – I received an email from someone the other day completely in capitals which is apparently quite rude… more rude would have been to send an email completely in wingdings… I guess there are other implications for an email that looks something like this !#@#$%