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Vote 1 God – what happened to Christian unity?

I’ve written about antidisestablishmentarianism several times because it’s a really cool long word. The idea that the church and state should be separated is foundational to our form of democracy and the Westminster system of government – it’s an idea supported by both religious institutions and members of the political elite – but sometimes the accusations of sectarianism can be taken too far at the expense of Christians with a genuine interest in participating in government and politicians who allow their faith to shape their political stance on controversial issues.

With an election coming up next year the battle for the Christian vote – which isn’t as decisive as it is in the US – is heating up. Last time round the right v left tit for tat saw Peter Costello attend the Hillsong conference and other religious posturing designed to secure elements of the largely conservative vote. A vote considered somewhat more important with the advent of the Family First party who are widely considered the default party for the Christian right. Kevin Rudd has been working hard to secure the votes of the Christian left – and those Christian’s dissatisfied with the Howard government’s record on humanitarian issues like asylum seekers and Iraq (and even Work Choices).

Tony Abbott – one half of the Coalition’s dynamic, overtly religious Abbott and Costello duo has come out with all guns blazing at Rudd in a speech at a Catholic bookshop. The virulently anti-religious Sydney Morning Herald reported the spat between two of parliament’s Christian figures with some glee.

The fact that one of Australia’s most influential newspapers takes such joy in highlighting disunity between Christian members of parliament should serve as a warning to these politicians who wish to use their Christianity as a method to garner votes from fellow Christians. Using Christianity to divide rather than unite has a rather unpleasant stench. These two combatants apparently lack the class of former deputy PM John Anderson who had bipartisan respect for his personal integrity and expressions of faith. I’m not sure the end of their respective careers will be met with the same accolades from both sides of the floor – and I suspect this lack of dignity and farmyard scrapping over who is the better man of faith will be a telling factor.

I’m not sure I like the idea of politicians pandering to my faith in a bid to have me choose a political side – as far as I’m concerned there are significant weaknesses and strengths on both sides and I’m going to vote based on who has the least offensive policies.

The public school chaplaincy issue is another kettle of fish that I’ll discuss in a later blog after further conversations with Mr Benny. Here’s another SMH article for your consideration.

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Ton of fun

Here we go – 100 posts chalked up on the board – if I was a cricket player I’d be raising my bat in triumph – this raises a question or two that I’d like to see answered – namely “why is 100 runs called a ton in cricket when it’s generally a measure of 1000 kgs?”, “why celebrate 100 anyway – why not make the mark 77 – it’s much more achievable?”, “What was a ton called before the metric system?” – if you know the answer to these questions I’d love you to tell me.

You’ll notice that for a limited time only you can view all 100 posts on the main page. I read some of the earlier ones – and like everything that I write and reread I think some of them are terrible and I apologise in retrospect for inflicting them on you.

I’ve used this blog to comment on a number of topics ranging from myself and my (mis)adventures, politics, the media and sport.

Luckily for you mr(s)/(-r +iss)/(-r + s) reader there’s plenty more where that came from with the wide world providing ample fodder for me to shake my proverbial stick at. One day I hope to be an old man sitting on a porch shaking a literal stick, but for now I’ll be content with what I have.

My (mis)Adventures
Lend me your ears (or eyes because this isn’t an aural experience) and I will tell you tales of strange dreams, daring adventures and wild animals.

For those of you unfamiliar with this tail(sic) last week I dressed up as a lion to help a friend in need. I’m assuming that he’s had enough time to spread the news so that I don’t get the scoop. A picture will be posted shortly – but the long and the short of it is that Aaron proposed to Donna with my assistance (and I mean on the night, rather than right from the beginning when I was instrumental in their coming together – I can actually claim credit for that one). I sold him a flower with a ring in it, and the rest, as they say, is history.

But the story doesn’t end there. Well hopefully not for Donna and Aaron – but definitely not for me as you’ll now read. The night before last while engaged in peaceful slumber I had a very strange dream. I dreamt that I was in the lion suit again, only it had become a dolphin suit. I was suggesting that someone else try the dolphin suit on, but the suit had suddenly developed buttons. I had some trouble with the buttons and they eventually ripped off the suit – the buttons that is, not the person. At that point I woke up and found that I’d somehow managed to insert myself into my quilt cover and the buttons were in fact real.

Media and politics
There’s hours and hours of stuff I could write about the media at the moment – who’s buying, who’s selling. It’s a world gone topsy turvy – but so far nothing too scary has happened. I suspect it will be like every other controversial law passed by the government – it’s impact will actually be fairly minimal.

The ABC is in the throes of a series of rolling strikes from staff demanding pay increases across the board. The best strike story came last night as a camera man walked off the job mid story.

Sport
I’ve been meaning to post this for a while – it’s a few weeks old, but it still makes me cringe…

So there you have it. 100 posts featuring more than 54,600 words. That’s more than a novel.

Public Relation Learnings of Kazakhstan for Make Benefit Glorious readers of blog

Getting a grip on the PR industry has been a pretty steep learning curve. While at the most basic level PR is just journalism for a private company there are layers and layers of complexity occurring behind the scenes. PR can involve paid advertising campaigns, crisis management, positive media coverage, sponsorship deals, and any number of interactions with the “public” (and by public we mean the customer). The basic premise behind the industry is that free advertising is better than paid advertising – and PR is a way to make your advertising dollar stretch a little bit further. The reason I bring this up now is because I’m currently witnessing the best PR campaign ever, and the worst, simultaneously. In the red corner, weighing in at around 80kgs is Borat, in the blue corner weighing in at a whopping 1,217,416,000kg* are the people of Kazakhstan.

Borat is a reporter from the country who gets up to all sorts of politically incorrect hijinks.** Borat has a new movie coming out. A movie that has the government of Kazakhstan so worried that in the ultimate PR exercise they’ve forked out $50 million to make their own movie.

Round one of the long running sparring match began when Borat hosted Europe’s MTV music awards and depicted Kazakhstan as a less than desirable country. Kazakhstan responded by deregistering his website www.borat.kz on the basis that he was bringing the country into disrepute. They threatened a law suit against Borat’s alter ego, Sacha Baron Cohen, the Jewish UK comedian behind Ali G and Borat. Borat responded with a video supporting his country’s decision to “sue this Jew” citing Kazakhstan’s progressive attitude towards women and homosexuals who are now apparently allowed to ride on the inside of a bus – and not forced to wear funny hats. Most judges scored round one comprehensively to Borat.

The Kazakh government hired two Western public relations firms to counter Borat’s claims, and ran a four-page advertisement in the New York Times pushing the nation’s democracy, education system and the power and influence enjoyed by women. Borat responded to official Kazakh complaints by issuing his own “press release”, which consisted of arbitrarily arranged Cyrillic characters.

Kazakhstan tried to rally in the third round by going to the top – a Kazak diplomat was predicted to use a meeting with US President George W. Bush to lobby for a ban on the US release of Borat’s movie. Borat staged a media conference outside the Whitehouse gates inviting president George Walter Bush to a free screening of his movie. More free publicity for the movie, more body blows for the Kazak government.

Kazakhstan tried changing tact a little too late in preceedings – deciding to play by the mantra if you can’t beat them, join them. The daughter of the President of Kazakhstan acknowledged in an interview that the country had “damaged our image much less than its closure, which was covered by all global news agencies,” and said “We should not be afraid of humour and we shouldn’t try to control everything, I think.” The country invited Borat to come for a visit to see what the nation had to offer. And the ambassador to Britain admitted that he’d had a good ol’ belly laugh when he watched a private screening of the movie.

The strategic shift was a case of too little too late with Borat a clear winner on points. The Kazakhs tried adopting Borat’s methodology by sending a TV reporter to the British premiere pretending to be Borat’s brother. Unfortunately the reporter got lost on route while Borat attended the premiere in a ramshackle limosuine towed by mules.

The adage that all publicity is good publicity will probably ring true in this case – I’m itching to see the new movie when it’s released in Australia in November. Google’s news search engine has a number of news articles covering the tit for tat spin battle – the heights of which resembled an Ashes showdown between Shane Warne and the English cricket team – also hotly anticipated.

*calculated by multiplying the population of Kazakhstan by 80kg (estimated average weight of Kazakh citizen based on sample size of 1)
** see below

Life in the tropics

Someone recently pointed out that it has been a while since I actually wrote anything about myself and life in Townsville. So here’s an update for those of you out there who care. For those of you who don’t just scroll up and down and marvel at the snazzy new design. I’ve been in Townsville for 7 months and one day today. If I was a gestating foetus I’d probably be able to survive outside the womb if I was born after that period – and that’s an apt analogy for life in Townsville. I think I could survive life in Townsville for an extended period of time now – and I wouldn’t even need to be kept in one of those fancy humidicrib cradle things that they use for premmie babies. Summer is approaching pretty rapidly and that’s a little scary, but the Townsville Bulletin recorded this has been the coldest October on record. This is the latest in really bizarre weather patterns that have been occurring up here since I moved. It rained heaps in the middle of the year – which it’s never meant to do. There was a cyclone and an extended wet season. The stingers that were meant to arrive a few weeks ago still aren’t plaguing the beaches. I guess I’m changing the face of North Queensland. Outside of the weather (or inside) things are good. Work, church and home continue to be enjoyable and challenging and all the things those respective areas are meant to be. Nothing overly newsworthy has happened in any of those areas so I won’t bore you with any details.
I’m really enjoying spending time with Robyn. We made an appearance in the Townsville Bulletin a couple of weeks ago after attending the spectacular Townsville Enterprise North Queensland Tourism Awards – my media releases promoting the event earned me a pot of flowers from my CEO – they are now slowly wilting on my desk. Here’s the photo for your viewing pleasure.

Other than that there’s not much else happening. Other than some cool visitors heading up this way. Aaron and Donna are coming up this weekend which will be fun. I’m looking forward to getting up to mischief with my former partner in crime. Steve has just told me that he’s also coming up to visit next week which is pretty exciting. If anyone else wants to come up and needs convincing you should check this website out.

So there’s my update. That’s post number 98, I’m still trying to figure out what I’m going to do to mark post number 100 – maybe I’ll release a book version of my blog.

Can’t Haka it

The Tri Nations Rugby League tournament kicked off* the other night. Normally international Rugby League is a chance for the best performing players from the season’s NRL competition to put off their post season holiday and earn a healthy representative bonus (and it’s a chance to bump up their asking price at the next round of contract negotiations). This year there’s a little more on the line because somehow the Kiwi’s are the reigning Tri Nations champions. The opening bout had all the ingredients of a successful representative match – an all in brawl encompassing a camera man, a length of the field try, and Willie Mason getting absolutely smashed by a flying shoulder charge from David Kidwell. The spite displayed on the field was apparently (at least so the media beat up claims) brought about by Willie Mason’s posturing during the All Black’s traditional posturing. A significant level of public outrage has developed because Mason so obviously showed contempt for a “significant” cultural display. Now I’m not Willie Mason’s biggest fan. And I won’t defend what he had to say – unless my lip reading abilities have done me a disservice and he was actually talking about a firetruck. But I will defend his right not to treat the Haka as a “significant” cultural display. It would seem to me that calling for a war cry to be humbly respected and observed on a cultural basis would open up a can of worms – must we then stand by and allow the Nazi’s to conduct their purge of all non Arians because that’s a significant part of their culture? A war cry is a declaration of open hostility. The Haka is no more culturally significant than a Nazi salute – and Mark Bosnich can attest to how much trouble that gets you in. At this point I should point out that I’m not condoning anything as offensive as the Bosnich salute. But to present the Haka as a cultural institution to be treated with the same respect as a national anthem seems ludicrous to me. To my knowledge the national anthem of New Zealand was not used to rouse spear wielding Polynesians into battle frenzy. I’m not against the performance of the Haka – I think it’s a completely appropriate form of preparation for an on field battle. I am against the idea that one team should sit idly by while their opponents attempt to psychologically intimidate them. For Big Willie’s benefit I have prepared a list of alternative activities for next Saturday’s haka that are guaranteed to be more off-putting:

1. Run around flapping your arms screaming “I’m a Faerie/Fairy/ferry watch me fly”

2. Prance about with your shorts pulled up as high as possible linking arms with team mates and spinning around.

3. Play hand clapping games (including chants) with the team mate on your left

4. Form a line and do a Riverdance (remember that Irish dance troupe who were all the rage in the mid 90s – complete with Michael Flatley) demonstration

5. Move into position and take a quick kick off catching your opponents unprepared – you should be able to regather and score the first try untouched.

Before any resident Rugby Union fans interject with “all those effeminate activities are entirely appropriate for Rugby League players” – I would suggest the union team not only adopt these policies but provide coaching for any league players struggling to come to terms with being a fairy. If there’s one thing that should unite League and Union fans it’s a common hatred of the Kiwis.

Another story sure to cause a stirring of the old League v Union rivalry is the news that the Gold Coast Titans are looking to snare Jonah Lomu. This would have been really big news ten years ago before Lomu was floored by repeated kidney failure. Now it would be just as significant as Union signing someone of similarly redundant vintage. But it shows a certain willingness of Union superstars to make the jump over to what I would say is arguably (although that implies there’s a level of conjecture – whereas I would argue that there’s no real argument – I just couldn’t think of a better word) a vastly superior game. There’s an old saying about rats deserting a sinking ship. And another one about chef’s desserting a sinking ship (which had to do with the distribution of ice cream on the Titanic as it went down – unfortunately the chef’s creative “Iceberg” dessert also went down like a sinking ship (or a lead balloon) and he was summarily executed)**.

* It’s nice to be able to use a cliché somewhat literally rather than in a figurative sense.

** All information contained in the parenthesis completely untrue.

Wrestling with stupidity

I’ve been meaning to write something about this topic for a while now. But I had to quite literally* collect my thoughts on this issue before putting pen to paper – or rather putting fingers to keys to screen. Some of you may be shocked to learn that I am a fan of the circus freak show that is professional wrestling (or wrasslin’ as it’s known in some boroughs). Others have known this for some time and have been studiously praying for my soul – or waiting for the fad/phase/moment to pass. Sadly I must report that it’s been more than 1.5 years since my introduction to the WWE and my interest shows no sign of abating/waning. In fact I feel compelled to publicly defend my interest in the “sports entertainment” industry on the basis of some loosely held claim that said interest is purely from an “academic” stand point and a desire to understand the American psyche through this particular form of pop sub-culture. I could also point out that Federal Treasurer Peter Costello is similarly fixated with the WWE – and Rove McManus and Wil Anderson are also said to be celebrity fans of the spectacle.

Wrestling is stupid. Everyone readily admits this. It’s stupid in the same way that any work of fiction is stupid. Critics of wrestling fans are stupid because they fail to realise that everyone (except the greenest of fans) knows the results are all rigged – in much the same way that everyone knows that the people in their favourite TV shows are actors. Wrestlers are just athletic (and admittedly sometimes wooden) actors. It’s a show people. A circus in a square “ring” where daring feats of physical strength and acrobatic ability are appreciated by the ignorant American masses who bay for the blood of the athletes. Blood sports are a thing of a bygone era. Wrestling is the last bastion of hope in an era dominated by politically correct, emotionless, professional, dollar driven sport where fighting is harshly discouraged (I mean even ice hockey is cracking down on in ring violence). Cynically – wrestling has taken that paradigm and subverted it. In plain English – what they’ve done in response to professional sport where content is driven by the dollar and a team’s success is based on the size of its bank account (ala Chelsea) is they’ve become a massive commercial conglomerate where the wrestler’s success can be directly correlated with the amount of money they pull in for the company. The fans have ultimate control over character development – if they choose to support (or hate) a wrestler it will determine that wrestler’s future in the company. If a wrestler can draw an emotive response from the crowd, if his merchandise sells and his matches sell tickets the company will make him a success. Wrestling’s continued success relies on the use of binary opposites to create tension – the good v evil nature of each bout keeps the fans cheering for the good guy (or the face – from babyface) or booing the bad guy (or heel). They’ve injected passion and violence (albeit fake), and removed political correctness (one wrestler even had the temerity to take a dig at Steve Irwin two days after his death) in a bid to engage the audience. Like any long running serial drama – characters often switch roles from good to bad in a bid to bring something new to the fans, and like any long running drama some story lines are memorable and exciting while others are frustratingly stupid, annoying and painful. Unlike any long running drama the “actors” involved are actually involved. They get hurt. As the compulsory disclaimer at the beginning of each show (designed to prevent copycat injuries in lounge rooms across America) says “Bodies have been bruised… necks broken… careers ended in an instant. Yes this is entertainment – but the hazards are real.”

So next time you pay out a wrestling fan – make sure you only watch documentaries and other “educational” television.

*In an exaggerated metaphorical sense.

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The Red Button

North Korea has tested a nuke. Somewhere deep underground in the northern province of North Korea an earthworm is growing nuclear enhanced capabilities and all the ants have been declared the first victims in North Korea’s relentless march to destruction. How can a country have its priorities so wrong. North Korea’s people are existing in a state of poverty under the rule of a “much loved”* dictator who fritters away the state budget on platform shoes. Kim Jong Il is a crazy man who aspires to life on the silver screen – his Hollywood fixation stretches so far that he employs camera crews to follow him round… one only wonders if he enjoyed the movie Team America and it’s puppetual portrayal of the man with the 6 inch hair, and 6 inch shoes who still manages to measure in at under 5’6’’. I can’t think of anything scarier than nukes in the hand of a crazy man. Well I can actually. Nukes in the hand of a calculating evil dictator would perhaps be more worrying. They’re less easily appeased. Despite his apparent willingness to steal candy from his country’s babies, North Korea can petulantly postulate in an attempt to position themselves as a power all they like – but he just doesn’t have the evil psycho credentials of say Slobodan Milosevic, Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein or any of the bona fide, certified, card carrying dictators with accusations of genocide hanging over their heads. It’s hard to be scared of a man who looks like a caricature. Still give a cartoon a nuclear missile and the rest of the world will stand up and take notice – particularly the United States who doesn’t seem to appreciate anyone else holding nuclear capabilities when it comes to a donnybrook.

What struck me most about North Korea’s test was the PR propaganda roll out that followed. Wartime public relations have hit an all time low – this probably eclipses Iraq’s propaganda machine during the second gulf war when they denied any conflict was actually taking place.

“The nuclear test is a historic event that brought happiness to our military and people.”

I suspect food, shelter and a caring government would make the people of North Korea a little happier.

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There goes my hero

I promise today will be a long blog with many tangents. Here are the topics I will discuss – as this list will serve as a reminder for me as I write the blog and as a warning for you, my faithful readers: the excessive number of songs dealing with heroes and heroism, the excessive number of songs named Betterman (as a tangent), heroes specifically (and meeting one of mine), Andrew Finden’s amazingly well thought out contributions to my blog brought on by a nostalgic walk down memory lane, the advertising industry, the media, Kevin Rudd, Quality magazines, Big Day Out… a week of relative inactivity brought on by the absence of my nearest and dearest Townsville friends: what I do when I lack stimulation.

Songs about heroes
Once upon a time I was part of a hugely successful soccer team somewhat appropriately named Mitchie Mayhem. Our strategy was to reduce the opposition to our level of chaos (mayhem) and then beat them into submission. One particular year our team overcame improbable odds to make the finals – we were required to win a high proportion of our last few games to qualify. One week, to inspire our boys to victory I sang a song about heroes during the warm up. We won, and it quickly became a prematch superstition which was firmly entrenched by the time we made the grand final. By my count, and in my somewhat hazy recollections, there were 8 matches that required songs and there were no reruns. Off the top of my head there was There Goes My Hero, the Spiderman hero song, Wind Beneath My Wings… the list goes on. It looks like easy song writing fodder.

Tangent – Betterman
While we’re on the subject of easy song writing fodder – what’s the deal with the number of songs named Betterman? Robbie Williams, Pearl Jam, John Butler Trio… there are numerous songs out there – why can’t anyone just be content with the man they are…

Heroes
What is a hero anyway? Someone who inspires? Someone others aspire to be like? Have you ever met your heroes? I’ve always been a little reticient to meet people who inspire me, or whose achievements I aspire to because of the fear I’ll be disappointed. Last night I put a face to a person who’d been a faceless hero of mine for some time. I appreciate good advertising. I appreciate wit. And as a result I’ve always been a fan of Virgin Blue’s advertising campaigns and corporate branding. Last night at a work seminar I met the man behind the marketing. He was talking about the advertising industry and had some really good things to say – no one had any idea that he was the Virgin guy until he brought it up in the last 5 minutes of his presentation. His approach to that account totally blew me away – in pitching for the role he basically told Richard Branson that there was no way he could be the face of an Australian airline because Australians know him as a crazy British guy who crashes hot air balloons – hardly someone you’d trust to fly you around the country on a budget airline. I can’t go on too much about this because of all the topics I have to cover. But I almost got his autograph at the end – that’s how cool I think he is. He also loves puns, when he said that I felt an almost instant connection to him. I’m very rarely in awe of anyone’s intellect or creative vision – but this guy was good. Except when he called himself a guru. That almost lost him points, even if it was slightly tongue in cheek. I’ve also always had a problem with the arrogance involved in labelling yourself as a “creative”. But I’ll forgive him that.

Andrew Finden’s comments
While I’m on the subject of inspiration, I was going back through the comments on some of my older posts, as I do, and I read through some of Andrew the Opera Singer’s comments. I’d like to congratulate Andrew on his always informative, well educated voicing of sometimes contrary opinions on the pages of my blog. One particularly interesting comment of Andrew’s that I’d like to query but didn’t actually do at the time was from the post on whether derivative art is bad art, he said:
“Does this mean that all these boy bands are ok? Heck no! The real problem with pop music is that it’s dumb. It’s like having a painting with a yellow panel, a red panel and a blue panel. It’s not hard to understand. It’s basic and simple. Good art is not basic, and is not always easy to understand. Mozart doesn’t repeat three chords over and over. It has intricacy and complexity.”

My question is this – is the statement that good art is not basic fair in an era where subjectivity rules and minimalism is the new black – can’t a 3 chord (or even a one chord) song with evocative (but not necessarily complex) lyrics be just as valid as a piece of art? Shouldn’t artistic value be determined by emotional response?… which segues nicely into my next topic…

The Advertising Industry
One of the things Mr Advertising Guru had to say was on the topic of corporate branding. Branding is bigger than your corporate logo. Branding is the “emotional response” people have to being presented with your company – it’s the associated feeling, the vibe, the connection people feel to your product or services. A good advertising campaign and established brand will communicate a positive message and evoke a positive response from your target audience. Being the media afficianado (I almost used the word guru) that I like to think I am, I realise that advertising is what makes the media world go round (unless you’re the ABC – in which case tax is what spins your world). Without advertising there is no content. Tourism Australia are moving towards campaigns without paid advertising. The basic premise is that because editorial content is more credible than a paid ad it’s more valuable to the customer. We work out the PR value of our editorial generated by multiplying the advertising rate by an obscene 9 times.

There are a number of problems with this model – without advertising there’s no editorial, there’s a very grey line between obtaining editorial coverage and the talkback radio “cash for comment” fiasco.
Following the Tourism Australia case study for a little while longer – Tourism Australia want editorial content to carry their key messages. (side note: Tourism Australia are doing what the government is doing and moving towards a user pays system). To justify all the travel editorial out there the media will need to find advertising from other sources for their travel shows, travel liftouts in newspapers, and travel magazines. This search will lead them to small businesses and the costs will fall on the heads of the little operators to fund. No media outlet will provide editorial without advertising dollars to back it up.

The state of the Media
Again, a natural segue from advertising to the media itself – I’m worried by the cross media ownership laws. Small country towns will suffer if all their outlets are bought by the same company only allowing the one “voice” to provide news and information. However, the concept of owning multiple media platforms is also quite exciting and I’m sure the different media outlets are salivating at the prospect of being able to sell advertising packages across multiple platforms. The buzz word for this is “convergence” and Nine are already doing it to some extent with PBL owning the Bulletin – having a local paper, or a national paper, where you can cross promote your content and bundle your advertising will make a lot of people a lot of money.

Quality Magazines (and Kevin Rudd)
John Howard has been in the newspapers this week speaking out on Quadrant – the intellectually stimulating but admittedly verbose and elitist culture watch magazine. The PM likes it. He doesn’t like the rest of the “left wing” media. There are a number of interesting magazines that I suggest you all buy because magazines are the coolest thing since sliced bread. These are: The Monthly (which this mo
nth features an article from Kevin Rudd on the mix of religion and politics which is well worth a read, I have a lot of respect for Kevin Rudd (who I also met this year) this article enhanced my respect for him), Quadrant, Rolling Stone, J Mag, The Bulletin (just for John Birmingham’s column really, and sometimes the cover stories are good), Dissent (for some lefty balance), The Quarterly Review. If you read all these then you too can be a well informed, self proclaimed media afficianado.

Big Day Out
I am most definitely going to Big Day Out next year because so are Muse. You should all join me. I also heard a rumour somewhere that Thom Yorke will be coming… but that could just be hearsay.

My Week
This week has taken way too long. Robyn, Tim and all the people who brighten the doors of JJ’s (my house – don’t ask what it stands for) are off on a camp. Dave and I have been spending some quality time, although mostly I’m playing computer games because they’re proven to make time go faster. Other people are still around in Townsville (Scooter is still here, and CB is around – but no one has really been providing me with any stimulus so I’ve created my own fun by killing France in Civilisation 3. That’s pretty rewarding actually – we should all declare war on France every once in a while.

So there you have it, over 1600 words of pure substance (as in it’s 100% the same type of substance – whether it’s gold or “other” is up to the reader to decide… that’s the nature of art – but this certainly isn’t minimalism)

Rules for operating a motor vehicle…

Joel suggested I’d attract more interaction on my blog by courting controversy. Well, like the Townsville Bulletin, I’m sick of the crap drivers in Queensland. 28 lives have been lost to bad driving in North Queensland this year. That’s 28 times my press releases have been bumped from the newspaper by speeding, drinking, and stupid truck drivers who are too impatient to realise that 10km/hr over the speed limit will only get them to their destination at a marginally earlier time than obeying the speed limit and not tailgating my poor little purple excel. Or the other poor little people they routinely run off the road. The problem is not endemic to North Queensland. There are bad drivers all over the “Smart State”. My basic rule when I get behind the wheel of my deathbox is to assume that all the other drivers on the road are idiots. That assumption is pretty consistent with my experience. Here are some simple rules for you idiot Queenslanders to follow:

  1. Indicate when changing lanes – it’s simple, it’s courteous, it stops people running into your car.
  2. Don’t change lanes while turning on a roundabout – finish going round the roundabout then change lanes.
  3. Shoulder check before merging – that way I don’t have to brake to avoid hitting your stupid souped up commodore.
  4. Don’t under any circumstances honk your horn at me when I obey the road rules.
  5. Give way at give way signs, give way to pedestrians when they have right of way.
  6. Don’t overtake me on the highway when I’m already going slightly over the speed limit – the moral to this story is that if you’re an idiot and you overtake me, you’ll probably get busted by the police like that red Mitsubishi the other day.
  7. On the other hand, if you drive a slow car, or drive a fast car slowly – use the left hand lane.

Here are some unwritten principles that I think should be introduced to discourage bad driving:

  1. When you’re being overtaken on the highway by an impatient idiot – speed up so they can’t pass you.
  2. When a truck is tailgating you on the highway turn on your hazard lights and/or softly apply the brakes so that your brake lights come on.
  3. If a little car is tailgating you in the suburban streets remember your handbrake doesn’t have brake lights and the person at the back is always deemed responsible for a collision.
  4. If you’re being tailgated at night let the other car pass you then high beam it. Alternatively, remember the speed limit is an optional maximum – if there’s no overtaking lane feel free to slow down to a speed you feel is “safe”.
  5. When someone does something a little bit silly on the road give them a patronising round of applause rather than the traditional “up yours” hand signal.

I read an article somewhere on a proposed police crackdown on flashing your lights to warn other drivers about upcoming speed traps. I may have mentioned this before but I think that if police were serious about reducing speeding and not revenue raising they’d drive around in unmarked cars flashing their headlights. I was saved by a friendly fellow road user the other they and felt so grateful that I drove the next 5 minutes courtesy flashing everyone who came my way. What’s the socially acceptable distance from a speed camera to flash your lights? Do you have to be in the immediate vicinity of said speed trap or can you continue flashing as long as you’re on an unbroken stretch of road?

Sadly this tirade was brought on because my press release didn’t get picked up by the local paper because they spent too many pages covering our unsafe roads and the road toll.    

And the winner is…

For a bona fide Australian male sports fan I felt particularly apathetic about the past weekend’s football finales (that wasn’t a spelling mistake but I could just as correctly said finals it just wouldn’t have been as fancy). Maybe it was the fact that no teams I care about were playing. Maybe it’s because I loathe AFL and am at least casually indifferent towards the idea of a Sunday night Rugby League Grand Final – even after 5 of them with no realistic chance of things actually being changed back to how they were in the good old days of yesteryear with the traditional Sunday afternoon family affair… but alas… we’re stuck with the pressures of commercial television and the night final is here to stay. I tried hard to get into the AFL the other day – if listening to 15 minutes of Roy and HG calling the last quarter and getting out of the car with 1 minute to go constitutes trying – but it just didn’t grab me. I wasn’t enthused. The cliff hanger ending was there. But even lawn bowls has cliff hangers. A game’s goodness is not determined by its closeness. Maybe it was Roy and HG’s total disregard for the actual flow of play and the niceties of the game (although as far as I’m concerned AFL has no niceties – that’s three or four less than Rugby Union). Although I suspect my apathy which this year encompassed both the league and union stems from the lack of tribal affection for any of the teams on show. In fact the team I felt the most empathy for was the Sydney Swans. But that’s ok. I’m good with that. I heard some anti-sports intellectual arty type on JJJ condemning Australia’s love for sport and the disparity between the recognition our leading sports stars and academics receive and I thought “you know what, you just don’t get it” until you’ve seen your team win something (or even felt the pain of them losing over and over and over and over again (it’s been hard being a Manly supporter lately) you’ll never really grasp the passion or affinity supporters feel for their teams). I enjoy watching a good game of sport between quality teams (most of last night’s game was good quality), but at the end of the day I’m just not going to get goose bumps watching the Broncos beat the Storm by just 7 points, or the Swans going down by 1 point to the evil West Coast Eagles. The connection a supporter feels with their team is unique. It’s often forged for the simplest of reasons but in most cases it’s a bond that will last for a life time. There was an old article I read comparing the loyalty a man feels to his football team to the loyalty they feel to a spouse (looking at spiralling divorce rates) which showed a complete cultural aversion to swapping teams even if the team you support ends up being a dud. What does this mean for all the Gold Coast people who are about to trade allegiances from the Broncos to the Gold Coast ahead of next year’s season – is that a free pass to ditch an old team for a newer, more exciting model?

This blog was a bit of a ramble, but it really effectively killed my spare time. I am starting to wonder if anyone other than Mark and Joel actually read my posts anymore anyway. The comment counts on the last few have been really low. I don’t think my family even bother coming here any more. Maybe the bad puns are turning people away. Maybe it was the fact that I kept insulting commenters – or maybe it’s the complete lack of meaningful content. Maybe you should suggest (in comment form) why no one comments anymore…