Category Archives: Culture

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The return of the Biff

Matthew Johns’ alter ego Reg Reagan has been calling for the return of “the Biff” for a few years now, and it seems people are starting to listen. Tim posted his opinion on violence in sport in his blog a little while ago – I figured I’d get in on the action following Willie Mason’s one week suspension and $5000 fine for his one punch knock out of British Prop Stuart Fielden.

While Tim argued for violence in sport to be reduced to more civilised levels – I’m going to argue in the other direction. Sport is played for the benefit of the fans. Fans, as demonstrated by many years of blood sport attendance, love a bit of biff. That’s why State of Origin used to be so much fun. There was a good chance someone was going to be clocked on the noggin in a good old fashioned donnybrook.

That’s why the Tri Nations – despite Nathan Fien’s grannygate efforts – have been the most exciting international Rugby League series in years. And it’s why Rugby Union is a game full of pansies… (that ought to get some comments). AFL goes the closest to condoning a bit of fisticuffs of any of the major codes – with punches allowed provided you’re holding onto your opponents jersey.

The National Hockey League – Canada’s premiere sporting brand (Ice Hockey – nb the NHL also involves teams from the US – but its origins are Canadian) – has started a campaign to decrease their game’s violent image – cracking down on the legalised biffs that used to happen on the rink. The NHL is perhaps the most brutally violent sporting competition (ruling out boxing and other dedicated bloodsports). And this is why…

That punch resulted in a career ending injury for the victim and a long running series of law suits. However, there have been lengthier sentences handed out for other incidents like these:

There are all sorts of interesting legal ramifications for the assaults that occur under the guise of a sporting contest – Les Boyd (a former League star) was sued by walking outhouse, Darryl Brohman following an elbow to the head that left him with a broken jaw.

Traditionally considered a game for fairies – Football (or soccer as it’s known in only 2 countries – America and Australia) has had its fair share of on field violence

with Scottish firebrand Duncan Ferguson, who may be on his way to the A League, serving jail time for a headbutt. Irish psycho Roy Keane was sued for intentionally breaking an opponents leg following the publication of his autobiography. And my personal favourite was this incident featuring Eric Cantona. I’ve put this video up before I think, but I like it so much I’ll post it again.

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Hello chaps

“…this is our school let love abide here, love of God, love of mankind, and love of one another.” – School prayer, Maclean Primary School (possibly paraphrased)

Religion in government run schools is a flashpoint subject. There’s nothing that will get the blood boiling for your average atheist than to have religion try to eke its way in to the school curriculum. The issue has been hotly debated in the US for years and the debate has hit our shores with the PM’s decision to fund chaplains in State Schools. The issue has been in the peripherals for a long time – last year it was the proposal to teach intelligent design in the science room – France had an impassioned debate over the rights of students to wear religious clothing to school – the secular state/church relationship is peculiar to say the least.

Surprisingly for some, the chaplaincy scheme is almost as unpopular with Christians as it is with Joe Blow atheist, albeit for different reasons. Whatever your philosophical position on the matter – Australia is a country that celebrates religious freedom – and encourages diversity of beliefs – as a result of the s116 of the constitution (which rules out an official state church). This freedom is a result of the historical hard work of many Christian men and women who staunchly fought for that right – along with fighting for other notable causes such as equal rights for women and aboriginals, the labor union movement, the founding of the Liberal party etc… where there is political or social progress in our history there’s generally been a Christian involved (some would describe the advent of secular humanism and other small l liberal advents as progress – I would argue that they’re generally an example of the use of freedoms won earlier or blatant plagiarism of ideals from historical groups). There is a strong social and historical argument for the teaching of Christianity in schools – but the context it’s taught in is open for argument – should Christianity enjoy a protected position as the religion of choice taught in RE? Should Christians be given special preference in these newly formed government funded chaplaincy positions? The philosophical answer to both those questions is probably not – if we’re upholding a society where people are free to believe whatever they want (which is as important for Christians as it is for Muslims, atheists, Jews and Mormons) we possibly need to provide equal access to all the options (an all or nothing approach of sorts).

I’ve been having some conversations with Mr Benny lately on the issue – below are some extracts from the emails we’ve sent back and forth…

“I hate school prayer.” – Ben

So do I, but for theological reasons – I don’t mind the idea of a Christian praying for the school every day – that’s great – but forcing people to pray to a God they don’t believe in is ridiculous and should be offensive to all Christians because it belittles the idea of God.

“I’m happy to have the history of religion and umm i lack the ability to express this part – i think it’s perfectly good to have the “stories” (sorry i know that’s a real bad word I just can’t think of the right one) of religion to be taught in the same way as science, maths, Shakespeare etc. My concerns stem from the fact legislation is being brought in and it is moving towards what I just mentioned, but the ideals are then being raped by religious zealots intent on promoting religion in schools. $20000 goes to a school, the discretion on who to employ is falling within the schools, you have some religious people in positions of authority, a religious chaplain is employed, and suddenly you have $20000 of tax payer’s money to have a preacher in a school.” – Ben

This argument is interesting but somewhat contradictory. Who is going to get to teach the religious subjects? Suggesting an atheist teach religion is like suggesting a drama teacher teach physics because they have some grasp of the concepts involved but no understanding. A religious teacher should be just as free to promote religion as an English teacher is to promote the beauty of the English language – or a science teacher is to promote the complexity of a plant. That’s what education is – it’s being presented with a series of views and deciding which ones appeal. Because of the “wonderful” nature of postmodernism in education there’s no truth that can be taught as an absolute anymore anyway so children aren’t being forced to believe anything. I can deny gravity if I can justify it. The anti RE argument is also completely flawed – RE in state schools is an opt out system where parents who feel strongly enough can pull their children out of a class – in an interesting side note we don’t have opt out science, or opt out maths so clearly there’s already a distinction between the subjects. What we do have is an opening for anyone of any religious persuasion to come in and teach RE – in my primary school the JWs had their own religion classes – and I can only assume if a Muslim wanted to teach Islamic RE classes during that timeslot that would be a possibility under the current legislation.

The role of the counsellor/chaplain needs to be clearly defined – and Christians are just as concerned about the implications of this legislation as everyone else – nobody wants crazy people running around on school grounds converting kids to an obscure cult. And the last thing Christians want is for a government driven by a politically correct agenda to water down the gospel into a more palatable mix of peace and love – without all the nasty bits.

“I swear, if there are reports of school chaplains directing students to prayer and such if they are approached for counselling then I will go and punch them in the face myself (that’s just student X, not a student they have a history with and know is of their religious persuasion).” – Ben

What guidance can a guidance counsellor offer – when is a student allowed to leave school grounds to seek counselling from a church – a large number of community based, government endorsed counselling services (ie the Salvation Army) are church based anyway so you’re not solving whatever your perceived problem is by keeping counsellors out of school – unless your problem is that it shouldn’t be happening at school because of your political ideology – and that’s a rabid breakdown in rationality if the ideal is more important than the people impacted. People will not be forced to use these counsellors – they’re there for those who will – and in that case it’ll be $20,000 well spent – the fact is that $20,000 will only pay about a half of a person and the other half will come from the combined churches in an area – so the federal funding is probably ensuring chaplains have an obligation to act as counsellors rather than religious salespeople.

And therein lies the concern for Christians – in paying the chaplain, the government then essentially pays to have some control over their message/methodology – which is a breakdown in the separation of church and state in the other direction – ie the state should not dictate the practices of a church. Most Evangelical Christians feel strongly about the notion of the gospel being the only way to God – any watering down of this message fails to serve their purposes as much as it would be a failing if the education system was to employ a “preacher.”

I read Premier Beattie’s plea for churches to pray for rain with interest – particularly the paragraph referring to members of other faiths as “brothers and sisters” who should be encouraged to pray to their Gods – which God will get the credit now if it rains? Seems pretty confusing to me – not to mention the politically correct agenda being pushed and signed onto by the heads of Queensland’s major Christian churches… shame, shame, shame I say.

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)

Five
Ten
Fifteen
Twenty
Twenty Five
Thirty
Forty
Forty Five
Fifty

I SKIPPED THIRTY FIVE ON PURPOSE
I SKIPPED THIRTY FIVE ON PURPOSE
I SKIPPED THIRTY FIVE ON PURPOSE
I SKIPPED THIRTY FIVE ON PURPOSE
(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).

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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…

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Long time no blog…

I apologise for my lack of blogging lately. I would suggest attributing it to a complete lack of blogworthy content. Any other suspicions would no doubt be completely unfounded.

I was a Hair’s breadth away from posting some form of comment on the Pakistan cricket fiasco… but then decided not to. If Darrell Hair really does believe ball tampering was going on then good on him for taking a stand. Lucky Dean Jones wasn’t commentating at the time the Pakistani decision not to return to the field was clearly an act of sporting terrorism.

There’s a state election happening in Queensland soon. It must be the least exciting election ever. When you have to choose between an incumbent idiot and two challenging idiots who do you choose? Actually, Springborg strikes me as a really genuine kind of guy, it’s a shame he genuinely has no policy solutions for the health and water crises… neither of which are of his making. It seems unfair that he should have to clean up Beattie’s mess, and be punished for not knowing where to begin. That would be like me having to tidy my housemate’s room – or vice versa.

There were also some interesting word things that I thought I might blog about – but you can look up anally retentive on wikipedia for yourselves.

I went to Magnetic Island again yesterday with a journo from the SMH. It’s the first time I’ve hosted a journalist there in sunshine. We conducted site (and sight (i’ll never tire of that pun)) inspections of some very nice new developments over there that I’d buy if I had the money.

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Irony, Irons and other stuff

A little while ago someone suggested I write about the misuse of the word irony in the lexicon. Well I would, but ironically I don’t know anything about the topic (See that was funny on a couple of levels). I will point out my favourite example of this societal abuse of the word – Angst ridden Canadian Balladeerette (is that a female singer of ballads?) Alanis Morissette’s song ironic. The only irony in that song is that it doesn’t actually contain irony…

“A traffic jam when you’re already late
A no-smoking sign on your cigarette break
It’s like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife
It’s meeting the man of my dreams
And then meeting his beautiful wife
And isn’t it ironic… don’t you think?”

No Alanis I don’t think… and clearly neither did you. I’d suggest that’s more like poetic justice… as found in the correctly titled song Poetic Justice – written by Tom Kimmel and covered by Jane Saunders.

I feel like the king when the queen loses faith
And the crowd rushes in to tear down the gate
While the whole palace slept, and I never rang the bell.
Maybe that’s poetic justice, but it’s pretty hard to tell.”

Actually – perhaps ironically that doesn’t sound like poetic justice to me – but perhaps that’s due to a lack of context. Ironically, again, Jane Saunders released an album called Poetic Justice – with the Tom Kimmel song as the title track. The song contains these lines:

“I feel like the king
When the queen loses faith
And the crowd rushes in to tear down the gate
And declare what was mine
I stole from someone else
Maybe that’s poetic justice
But it’s pretty hard to tell”

So if her album is named after the song, and she sings the song, could she not be declaring something as hers that she stole from someone else… Guilty as charged I say.

So as you can see it’s almost impossible to learn anything ironic from a female song writer… or in fact from anyone at all. Except perhaps H.W Fowler who is quoted on Wikipedia (note: I understand the irony of claiming it’s hard to learn about irony from anyone and then turning to the source of all “reputable”* information**) as saying

Irony is a form of utterance that postulates a double audience, consisting of one party that hearing shall hear and shall not understand, and another party that, when more is meant than meets the ear, is aware, both of that “more” and of the outsider’s incomprehension.”

So there you have it. An ironic insight*** into irony.

My iron beeps when it’s been left on for too long. Isn’t that a useful function. I discovered this while preparing to attend the races (of the equine variety) yesterday. Perhaps ironically*** (after my post last week) I did place a bet on a horse and it was quite literally pipped at the post. I bet $5 and lost – I figure the $5 goes a small way towards repaying Jupiters Casino for kindly inviting me into their corporate marquee for the day and feeding me seafood and cake. They would have provided me with free beer too (or heavier stuff) if I wasn’t feeling fluey and congested still. I had a day last week where I wasn’t feeling fluey and congested but then I got up at 4.55am to host the Today show breakfast people up here and the lack of sleep didn’t help my cause. (Look how I tied four pieces of information into the one paragraph – watch and learn people… For those at home wondering what the four pieces of information are: 1. My iron beeps, 2. I went to the races, ate at the corporate tent and placed a bet (all one topic (but three pieces of information I guess)), 3. I am sick, 4. I had the Today show up here last week). Wow. Are you awestruck yet? Probably not. I should point out that I’m actually not as arrogant as I sometimes sound…

* “” Denotes sarcasm
** referring to Wikipedia
*** used ironically

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I’ll bet…

The mighty Manly Warringah Sea Eagles are on a roll. I was so confident they’d beat the Panthers that I placed a bet with a friend of mine who happens to support them. Is this wrong? If I was sure the Sea Eagles were going to win isn’t that tantamount to stealing? If I was uncertain – is that poor stewardship of my money? Is gambling in and of itself wrong – or is it the associated greed? I don’t want the $5 that Pat is going to have to cough up because his team are unable to function effectively as a unit – I wasn’t motivated by greed. I just like to win. A game is infinitely more enjoyable if there’s actually something weighing on the outcome – by enjoyable I mean exciting – there’s more adrenalin involved if you actually might win or lose something depending on the outcome. But am I going to hell because of this bet? (well no, I’m not going to hell… at this point that was a little bit of rabbitical hyperbole… not that I’m claiming to be a Rabbi, or a rabbit…) Is gambling sinful? Should we be condoning or facilitating any form of greed. The Catholics have been running Bingo competitions as fundraisers for years so they obviously don’t have a problem with it. Neither does the Australian Chief Executive of Woolworths who is a professing Christian.

In that story above (by above I mean contained in the link above…) he made some pretty carefully considered statements about the decision his company has made to invest in a series of gaming establishments.

“I don’t think that’s a moral judgment, I think what is a moral judgment is that one needs to be careful and concerned about the environment in which they sell in the market facilities of that nature.”

While personally I don’t have a problem with gambling if you can remove the element of greed from the equation – if it’s budgeted entertainment with no addiction involved then go for it… who am I to say that using a pokie machine is any less fun than playing an arcade game. My problem is making a distinction like Mr Woolworths (not his real name) has made here. It reminds me of a scene from the Godfather where the Mafia Dons (head honchos) are gathered round a table discussing a move into the narcotics industry – one of them says ”

“I don’t want it near schools — I don’t want it sold to children! That’s an infamia. In my city, we would keep the traffic in the dark people — the colored. They’re animals anyway, so let them lose their souls… “

Somehow the logic in both those quotes seems strikingly similar to me – as long as we’re careful where we put the bad stuff people can go and do the bad stuff if they choose to. Gambling addiction is, without question, a destructive thing. Like the Whitlams I wish I could blow up the pokies… but then I’d lose out on cheap pub steaks designed to attract gamblers. So in conclusion I haven’t exactly figured out my position on gambling yet… but I thought that article was interesting… particularly the quote below, and the fact that Mr Woolworths said he’d be happy to sell bullets at supermarkets if it was legal and there was demand for them. Again, not a moral decision apparently. But where do we draw the line for Christians involved in business? Is it wrong to work at Maccas if they cause obesity? Is it wrong to be a lawyer? I think Mr Woolworths actually has it right in this case…

“I believe that I’ll be accountable one day for my life and so to that extent I’ll be accountable for my integrity,” he said.

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Now coming to you in Wide Screen… at least from my end

Well, well, well… that of course is the answer to the question “what did the oil baron say when three new oil deposits were discovered in Iraq. The US of course simply said “Fire the torpedoes”, which was pretty useless because Iraq only has a very small coastline and there are much more effective ways to blow things up in Iraq. Strapping explosives to your chest seems to be one way… that’s not really funny is it. Not at all PC.

There’s not really much interesting stuff to write about today, owing to the fact that I spent yesterday in Charters Towers. It’s a hole. Or a series of them. Mostly because it contains a lot of tunnels left over from the gold mines. It is however, one of North Queensland’s premiere tourist destinations – attracting history buffs from all over the country. So if you like history it’s worth a visit. Or if you like meat pies. I’m sure it has plenty of redeeming features.

Today I took mum, dad, and Susie along to an Indy car roadshow thing in Townsville that I had to go to for work. There was lots of burning rubber, lots of noise, lots of girls in Indy outfits, and lots of the types of guys who enjoy those sorts of things. Then I went to WOW and bought a new screen for my computer… and more importantly, the new Muse CD. I’m impressed. I was worried at first. But it’s very good. It’s nothing like any of their old stuff. But Matt Bellamy is still the coolest front man strutting his stuff on stages around the globe.

That’s about it for this episode – be sure to check out the thoroughly politically incorrect ramblings at that other blog… http://philnsmiz.blogspot.com

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Rubbed out

Like millions (well hundreds and thousands (the number, not the little colourful balls of sugar)) of others I’ve been hotly anticipating the hotly anticipated new Thom Yorke solo album, The Eraser. So today… upon its release… I bought it. And I listened to it. And now, here are my thoughts.

This album is slightly more avant garde than any of Radiohead’s work (for the uninitiated and uninterested, Thom Yorke is the singer from Radiohead). The music is a series of syncopated and sometimes rhythmic noises. With very little musical quality whatsoever. Except, and this is a big exception, for Thom Yorke’s voice. I’ve decided I could happily listen to Thom Yorke sing over any noise in the world. It wouldn’t make me happy, because Thom Yorke is a very melancholy kind of guy. But it would be a pleasurable experience nonetheless. He also writes lyrics with cool words and concepts. And his cover art is good. There’s my in depth analysis and review of the CD. I was also looking forward to the release of Muse’s new album. But it wasn’t available at Wow. I wish Townsville had a JB Hifi. Actually, that would be bad for my bank balance.

Another variation on the rubbed out theme – Steve asked me what I thought the Italian guy said to Zidane in the build up to his send off this morning, and I must confess I did not get up for the World Cup. I set my alarm, but promptly metaphorically threw it at the wall. I actually dropped my phone rather half heartedly on the floor. If Zidane is the typical French creative genius then I imagine it was something along the lines of “Oi, you French poof” which was enough to send my favourite all time player, Eric Cantona into a violent fan directed frenzy (see below) – he’s not my favourite player because he karate kicked a fan in the head. He karate kicked a fan in the head because he’s my favourite player. I’m not sure the logic there worked any better than it did in that trashy teen movie which I won’t admit to viewing. My sisters have a lot to answer for.

My parents, and sister, arrive in Townsville tomorrow – it’s the first time they’ve ever come to stay at “my” house. So I’m inventing all sorts of new house rules… actually I’m tidying my room. Maybe.

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Queuing up…

It occurred to me just now that Queue is a very odd word. It strikes me that the second “ue” could, be redundant. Interesting food for thought really. Apparently it comes from the Latin word Coda… I’m not sure how that came about.

That’s all I really have to say tonight. Potentially that post could have been expanded to be quite entertaining – but if I’d made it longwinded and “intellectual” people would have complained. You can’t please everyone all of the time.

I will now shamelessly plug the second most popular blog on the internet (no one likes people arrogant enough to claim “most popular” status) – check it out here.

This blog entry is now terminated… like so many journalistic careers at Channel Nine… it’s like a skeleton (boned – which when you think about it may be appropriate terminology for describing the waif like/wafer thin host of the Today show, I’m sure Eddie was just taken out of context)… in that it probably could have done with a little more fleshing out (also like Jessica Rowe). I think I’m out of Nine jokes now… Although I didn’t have nine to begin with, it’s more like 4…

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Musical Calculus

I’d like to use today’s entry to pose a question inspired by Mark’s comment on my last post.

“The “derivative is bad” argument is silly. Pretty much everything in art, music, science, social/political thought, etc has prior art “influences” and thus can be seen as derivative or reactionary.”

Yes Mark, that is a fair comment – and one well backed up by the Ecclesiastes passage you referred us to. Nothing is new under the sun. However, that does not give musicians open slather to run around stealing other people’s style. Intellectual property laws ensure that you can’t get away with simply stealing another person’s idea, and doing so in the realms of art, music, science and social thought is generally frowned upon. It’s called plagiarism. You don’t see wannabe painters out there recreating the Mona Lisa. If music is art then some originality is required. When seven bands release seven songs with the same chord progression and the all wear the same clothes, and claim the same influences – bands 2 through to 7 of that group are redundancies – unless 2 is a tribute band with a clever pun as a name.

There’s an old song lyric – and you can google it if you like – that says “if everybody looked the same, we’d get tired of looking at each other,” which is pretty much the point of the “derivative is bad argument” – if all music sounded the same we would get tired of listening to it. Therefore derivative music is bad.

I would also make a distinction between “derived” and “influenced” – derived work is something that could only be reached by copying something – there is no art to that. So that step in Mark’s syllogism is a non sequitur.

In the words of someone who played an important role in the artistic movement – or in the words of some sort of manifesto – Vive Le Difference…

And now… on the subject of the French and Revolutions – check out the newest, most coolest thing on the internet – askaninja – actually it’s not new, only recently discovered…

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flights of fancy… and some other garbage

In the immortal (or somewhat unknown in this case) words of Billy Corgan from the Smashing Pumpkins. The aeroplane flies high. I can’t wrap (or rap) my head around the physics involved in getting a machine as big as…well for want of a better corroborative noun, as big as a jumbo, into the air and keeping it there. I sat just behind the wind on the way home today – there are a lot of little adjustments made to the wings during flight that I’m sure are absolutely necessary to keep it in the air. I’ve had some aeronautical engineering type people (who I guess technically are rocket scientists) explain all the updraft and stuff to me but it all boggles the mind. I wonder if boggles became a verb before, or after, the board game…

I flew home with Jetstar. Jetstar owe me $3.80. I don’t know who’s responsible for the coffee shop next to the terminal – but they should warn passengers that you can’t take your coffee on board. What did the hostess think I was going to do with a cup of coffee? You can’t exactly highjack a plane with a lukewarm cappuccino. If I was going to highjack a plane – hypothetically of course – I’d be more likely to use this (don’t miss the customer review at the bottom of the page).

The other question which has been weighing on my mind is a question regarding an industry with its share of critics (and a history of mafia involvement in the US ala the Sopranos) – the garbage disposal industry. Garbage disposal and waste control is something we all take for granted and probably don’t give enough thought to. It’s one of those industries where if you do happen to take notice something’s probably gone wrong. My question is this – how many wheelie bin loads fit in the standard garbage truck? I’m going to try to do some research and have an answer by the end of the week. It hadn’t occured to me that there must be a fleet of garbage trucks operating on any given bin day untilI saw two driving around at around the same time. nathanintownsville.blogspot.com – asking, and answering the questions that matter…

and finally – a fantail wrapper question just to get the comments rolling…

WHO AM I
Born Nigeria, 4/4/1960, he arrived with his family in Australia in 1976. He graduated from NIDA in 1981 and made his debut in Maybe This Time (80). He won an AFI Award for Best actor as the blind photographer in Proof (91); and was nominated for Priscilla, Queen of the Desert; won a second AFI for The Interview (98); and was named the Australian Star of the year. He then starred in two blockbusters which would give his identity away.

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How do you think?

Have you ever thought about how you think about things? Is your stream of conscious thought in the style of a documentary? Do you narrate events in your life like a detective in a film noir piece? Or does your thinking mirror a monologue to the camera like those annoying spots in Malcolm in the Middle?

Trolling through the links on Dan’s blog I found myself at the home of Michael Jensen’s blog. He’s one of the famous Sydney Anglican Jensen tribe. He’s doing some sort of study in England – you can find it if you like, but I can’t be bothered searching for the link. He posted an entry on viewing life as a stream of narrative. He’s a pretty smart guy. I didn’t really read all that much but it got me thinking about thinking and how I frame my thoughts. I think my stream of thoughts often flows like a stream of narrative – I do things in time and space, interacting with other characters and these interactions lead to outcomes – problems are resolved, conflicts arise… and my thinking reflects that. I think about how to solve things – and the voice in my head (which I guess is consciousness not some weird psychological condition) follows the narrative, or even pre-empts and influences the narrative, when the interactive bits of life are happening.

News stories are taking bits of a stream of narrative and analysing the elements. The journalistic definition of “news” is information that is of some interest to the public. The approach journalists take when they report news is to answer the big 6 questions – known in the industry as the 5 Ws and 1 H – who, what, when, where, why, and how. If narrative is a stream of connected events occuring in space and time then all these elements will be addressed.

Being of a journalistic, inquisitive bent I find that my approach to the narrative of my life has been somewhat influenced by this paradigm (paradigm is one of my favourite words). Not only do I approach any “conflict” or events that arise in my narrative (life) through the framework provided by these questions – but I’ve started viewing every event that occurs in terms of its newsworthyness.

There are a number of jokes out there featuring different professions and how they see the world – or the simple things in life. A true story I heard recently featured a group of people watching the football – a dentistry student, a med student, and an excercise/sports science student. During the game there was an incident where a player collided with another player’s head. Play was stopped while the player received some medical attention. The dentist commented on the effect the impact would have on the player’s teeth, the med student named the bones that may have been fractured, and the sports science student pointed at a guy in the background and said “he’s doing that static stretch wrong.”

And here, after that complicated five paragraph intro is the story that prompted this post… last night I was driving home from Mission Beach (where I’d been for a work function featuring Beechworth bakery owner Tom O’Toole (an interesting character)) with one other member of the Townsville Enterprise team. It’s a 2.5 hour drive to Mission Beach from Townsville – some say 3. Just outside of town we were stopped by a collection of emergency service vehicles attending the scene of a major accident… and do you want to know what my first thought was? Where are the TV cameras… this is a news story. I had my phone in my hand calling WIN television’s news director with the hot tip before I’d even considered the possibility that people may have been seriously hurt by the crash. When did I become so callous? Have I been that desensitised by years of watching and reading the news? Tom O’Toole made a comment about watching the news that was funny enough to repeat:

“If a dog came into your house and pooed on the ground while you were eating dinner you wouldn’t just sit there and watch him – you’d kick it out of the house, or worse… but every night we let the news do the same thing – it feeds half an hour of crap into our living rooms and we just watch it without thinking. I stopped watching news 20 years ago, and now when I turn on the television it’s the same news anyway – same wars, same crimes, same politics… you may not be what you eat, but you are what you fill your head with.”

Has anyone else been so obviously scarred by their profession? Do the teachers out there see every event in life as an opportunity to fill a lesson plan? Do opera singers see every tragedy as a potential aria (the style of song not the Australian Recording Industry Award)? Do IT people ever see any events that happen in the wider world? and do proctologists just think the world is a bunch of (feel free to insert an appropriate colloquialism here – I’m not going to do your dirty work for you).