Category Archives: Culture

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Who would you ban?

“A British radio station has banned all songs by balladeer James Blunt from its playlist after receiving complaints from listeners. ” – From the SMH.

If I could ban anyone from the radio it would be James Blunt too.

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What’s hip about hippies?

Today’s post comes courtesy of me. I’m allowed to that once in a while, it is my blog afterall. Today I’d like to write about hippies. There’s very little right about hippies (that’s a little bit of political humour for those out there not clever enough to pick it up). Some hippies are ok. I’m all for peace (most of the time), harmony (but I’d actually prefer social melody. Harmony suggests different people managing to be different while appearing to sing to the same tune. So by extension social melody must be everyone doing the same thing which I think is a much higher goal. Provided everyone does what I think is the right thing. Let me rephrase that so it sounds less arrogant… Provided everyone does what God thinks is the right thing… I’m not sure that seems less arrogant actually, I’m not claiming that my will is perfectly equal to God’s. Could this be the longest bracketed statement ever to grace the pages of my blog? Who knows.), tranquility, and protecting the environment. But I have some questions about the whole green movement.
1. Who decides which green causes should be fought for and protected – why save the whales and eat lentils – surely lentils should be protected.
2. How can hippies justify protecting trees while smoking (burning) grass (marijuana)?
3. Why do they fight big battles (ozone protection) while ignoring, or contributing to, smaller problems (bad body odour)?

I guess my stance on hippies makes me anti-green, and in an amazing coincidence it turns out my car is anti-green in colour. I created a colour completely devoid of green, and full of blue and red in paintshop, and I came up with a colour alarming similar to my mauve excel.

What really gets me is the skewed priorities hippies have towards their particular cause. Sure whales are nice, big, friendly animals – but what about the thousands of starving Japanese children who’d benefit from eating the whales brought in by all the whale-harpooning daddies out there. Think of the children. It does seem to me that the green movement has a fairly warped sense of important issues. Some may argue that there are thousands of issues out there and it’s great to have people concerned for all of them, everyone needs representation. Which would be fine if the green voice wasn’t so loud. Once upon a time, when I was a poor uni student (read that how you will – I did mean that I lacked financial stability but I make no claims to greatness as a student) I was walking on my merry way to uni when I was accosted by a well meaning hippy type who wanted me to consider supporting an obscure wild life protection group. I understand that this girl was doing her job, which is a pretty crappy job, and was probably being paid by commission. But her suggestion that I change from sponsoring a compassion child to sponsoring a panda because it was “national change charities day” proves once and for all that hippies are stupid.

This diatribe was encouraged by an article in the opinion pages of today’s Sydney Morning Herald. The article looks at the quality of life in Australia – analysing whether things are actually any better with the strong growth in the Australian economy. Apparently some things are good. Some things are bad, including an increasing tendency for families to break down (or up – funny that two opposite words mean the same thing – I guess the keyword is break. You could probably even say break sideways and people would still understand). But this isn’t the biggest issue our culture has to deal with. I guess I’d agree with that (I’d probably say the underlying issues of human selfishness and greed were bigger problems – and the issue underlying those issues is sin). There are plenty of other issues out there that could be at least as difficult as a family break up. Child abuse, murders, an alarming suicide rate… there’s plenty of problems in our society that an increase in cashflow doesn’t seem to be solving. But no. Apparently our biggest problems are land clearing, extinct bird species, salinity and greenhouse gas emissions… and that my friends is why I hate hippies.

In other non-hippy news… Tim started a blog today – its title is a delightful pun on his name. I must say I’m flattered by all the people who are starting blogs just because I have.

Finding Emo

What is the deal with Emo? This is a blog by request for Joel. He doesn’t understand emo people. Neither do I. Emo used to be a classification of a branch of punk music. Apparently now it’s so much more. Some people (Jon Ray) debate emo’s right to hold its own place in the spectrum of musical genres. Some people love email. Some spell checks don’t like the word emo. These people wear black make up, have crap hair and wear clothes at least 4 sizes too small. Apparently they like self harm and stuff now too. Back when I was a young lad, well back in the 90s anyway, people who cut themselves and wore funny black clothing were called goths. As far as I can tell the only difference between emo people and goths is taste in music. For a complete guide to being emo check out this site here. It’ll create an emo identity just for you.

Emo used to be a label for any emotional rock. Weezer are an oft mentioned example of this first wave of emo acts. Weezer are cool. Just because Weezer are emo, and Weezer are cool doesn’t make all emo bands cool. That is a fallacious syllogism. Syllogism is a cool word. I just wanted to use it in my blog.

The new wave of emo is darker… edgier… according to wikipedia common elements include dark colored hair (often dyed either black or an unnatural dark hue), males wearing pants tailored for females, lots of piercings, and dark make-up on males and females. In short, emo people are weird. Wikipedia also notes they may have a tendency towards self harm. They also like fringes. What’s with that?

Now that you all know how to identify an emo there are certain rules for approaching them in social situations. The first principle of approaching an “emo” is that you should never expect any form of response or interaction from said emo. Unless you’re talking about how wonderful AFI is. Emo’s love AFI, or My Chemical Romance, or any of those punk bands who write emotional songs. Emo is just a category for people who aren’t hardcore enough to be goth and are too stupid to be normal. There’s something sad about a group of non-conformists who all dress the same.

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Why does it always rain on me… literally not figuratively

So when I told Donna I was moving to Townsville she said “ha… get used to never seeing rain ever again.” Well Donna, you were wrong, so na na na nana na. Our stock editorial (the writing we have on file to use for ads and send to journalists and stuff) boasts that Townsville has 320 days of sunshine per year. I’m starting to wonder if the North Queensland year is slightly longer than the standard 365.25 days. I’ve now been in Townsville 67 days. By my calculations (read estimates) it’s rained on all but five of those days. That means that at this point the standard Townsville year runs for 382 days assuming there is no more rain. What a phenomena. We should call the weather bureau, or the department of astronomy (if they don’t exist they should), or the people who make all the calendars in the world (if there’s not a centralised company there should be, not that I’m pro-monopolies but sometimes they just make things easier).

Which brings me to today’s political discussion. On Sunday after church I was talking to a couple of people about the introduction of VSU and the government’s increasing desire to introduce a user pays culture. The underlying theory can be summarised (today I’ll try to actually summarise – ie be succinct) as the belief that people shouldn’t be forced to pay for services they don’t use – and should be able to control who they get those services from. It’s the rationale behind the sale of Telstra, the proposed privatisation of Ergon and the introduction of privately funded roads with toll systems introduced to pay them. All very interesting stuff if you like economics. For the rest of us there’s apparently a worrying spin-off if VSU sucks all the life out of on campus culture. One of the people I was talking to is quite involved with theatre stuff at JCU, she was talking about a petition signed by members of Australia’s cultural alumni – former graduates of leading institutions who have gone on to taste success as Australia’s artsy ambassadors – successful actors and musicians who claim that their success can be directly attributed to the funding they received from student unions on campus. Well I have a message for Heath Ledger, Mel Gibson, Cate Blanchett and co… I want my money back. Nicole Kidman can keep hers as compensation for having to share her adopted children with a freak. But the rest of you living in your multi million dollar penthouses in America – please send me a cheque for $1210 – that’s how much I outlayed in guild fees while I was “studying” at QUT. It’s a small price to pay. I’d hate to think I spent all that money funding the future multi million dollar Australian exports. It hardly seems fair to me.

I posted a comment on Andrew the Opera Singer’s blog (as opposed to Andrew the guy who works for the weather channel) promising a link. I’m a man of my word. Here is your link. Andrew is married to Peta. Peta is Dan‘s sister. Dan is Joel‘s brother. Joel’s music can also be found here. Joel is cool. I am also cool. There are several links both literally and physically (maybe).

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Life imitates art…

Imitation, they say, is the highest form of flattery. I’d like to direct you all to Ben’s blog because it is truly flattering that he’d start a blog just to compete with me.

Once again I have nothing essentially “newsworthy” to report. I got free lunch on Friday – I guess that’s newsworthyish. I also had an altercation with my alarm clock – I really didn’t want to get up when it told me to. But that’s hardly news – news is meant to be new, and interesting to people – and that is neither.

I realise I’ve covered politics, tax and theology (religion) in my blog in recent times – I’m not expecting any dinner party invitations any time soon. I’d be terrible company. All I need to talk about now is death and I’ll be on the social blacklist forever. Conversation at dining tables is an interesting phenomena – conversation in general is an interesting phenomena. At the function I was at yesterday (a business leaders forum with guest speaker Minister for Tourism, Industry and resources, Ian Macfarlane) I sat with some local “business people” and a “business journalist” – part of my job requires “networking” with these local “business people” and I’m realising that there’s very little I actually have to say to a bunch of middle aged, successful people. It would seem that sport is the one great equaliser across social groups and demographics. Luckily I spent all those years memorising useless facts and figures about a variety of sports (and dad thought that was a waste of time).

Why do we (or I – I can’t speak for everyone else) naturally steer away from conversation topics that are likely to cause division. Surely different opinions are essential elements of conversation – if everybody agreed with everyone else we’d get tired of talking to each other (I vaguely paraphrased that from a song). My mother will tell you all that I like a good argument – or a bad argument, and I’m certainly not afraid to share my opinion on any topic (being a journalist means I’m vaguely qualified to talk about everything – at least that’s how I think it should work. It’s a sort of jack of all trades master of none type deal.) regardless of how much I know about it. But still I get trapped in a meaningless cycle of small talk and irrelevancies – to the point that some people doubt my ability to have serious conversation. I blame postmodernism for all this. It’s no longer politically correct to engage in meaningful, robust debate. People are too sensitive about feelings and protecting each other from having to think. Well that’s my rant for today. If anyone feels like disagreeing please do so…

Heroin is so passe…

For those of you who are wondering what on earth that title is talking about you should go here.

It would seem that the world’s most famous drug addict is in trouble again. Pete Doherty is a “musician” who owes much of his fame to his shambolic attempts at life in the media fishbowl – he is/was going out with supermodel Kate Moss. He’s also famously been arrested about 30 (I actually have no idea how many, but it’s a lot) times for drug related crimes. Yesterday the pinnacle of the English print media, The Sun – famous for its topless page 3 girls – printed photos of Doherty injecting some form of presumably illicit substance into the arm of an unconscious girl. Today he was arrested for his efforts. None of this is particularly exciting – but it reminded me of a story I heard on JJJ a while back. There’s a band/group of pseudo political activists/social commentators called the KLF. They famously burnt a $1 million pound art grant (they literally set fire to a pile of money) and did some other crazy stuff. A few month back the KLF released a press release claiming to have actually invented Pete Doherty’s career. Conspiracy websites all over the net picked up the story and ran with it. They claimed it was an experiment based on three key theories:
1. In the so-called “alternative” scene, everybody is too scared of missing The Next Big Thing to worry about anything else.
2. We feel that our culture has become an enormous soap opera. We don’t care what a person thinks, or creates, or contributes. We just care about what they do in their normal lives. Especially when it’s something they shouldn’t be doing.
3. If enough people say that a piece of rubbish is a bar of gold, we’ll
believe it’s a bar of gold

You can read about the Doherty hoax here.

I guess I should put some news about myself up here too…

This weekend I went to two birthday parties and a church camp – pretty action packed stuff really. I thoroughly enjoyed all three events. People up here are nice. Five word sentences are cool. Those of you who read the comments section, or even comment – will have noticed reference to a question about how to make a girl fall in love with you – it turns out the key is pulling faces and playing hide and seek – but the girl is three, and my second cousin so I’m not sure if that’s a method that is going to work anywhere else. You’ll also have noticed my sister Madeleine has decided that rather than starting her own blog she’ll steal my comment space. I’ll forgive her if her submissions continue to be as brilliant as her piece on public transport ettiquette. I also promised my housemate Tim his own entry in the main part of my blog. Tim cooked me some sort of fish dish last week – it was interesting – any dish with beer in the sauce is bound to be interesting. Tim is cool. He sometimes reminds me of me. I don’t think I can pay anyone a higher compliment than that. He’s also single ladies (I’m not going to punctuate that sentence because I think it looks funny – Tim is single ladies, hahahahaha, Tim is single, ladies, either works for me)… maybe you should all move to Townsville chasing someone.

Only in America… (another gem from the SMH)

It seems friendly fire isn’t all that friendly. A DEA undercover agent from America had a first hand experience of the military oxymoron when he was giving a lecture on gun safety to a room full of children last year. A parent was on hand to capture the lecture on film. Filming undercover agents is a bad thing to do. Particularly if your home movie is going to make it onto the internet and onto millions of computer screens. This poor chap can’t work anymore and he certainly won’t be asked to give gun safety lectures. This video has caused me no shortage of amusement. I love the part just before he pulls the trigger when he says “I’m the only one in this room professional enough to be handling this weapon.” He displayed some form of professionality by continuing the lecture with a bullet lodged firmly in his thigh. The Herald gave some details on the aftermath of the incident.

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l’esprit d’escalier [the perfect witty response]

I was reading the Sydney Morning Herald online today for my fix of culture and intellectual stimulation (not that those things are in short supply up here but News Limited Papers in general are pretty horrible) and I came across an interesting interview with Tim Freedman the singer from the Whitlams. Tim Freedman is one of my favourite Australian songwriters. He’s responsible for some of the greatest song lyrics ever written, eg “she was one in a million, so there’s five more just in New South Wales” from Up Against the Wall. He’s also one of the worst anti-drug spokesmen in the history of the “say no to drugs” campaign. I remember seeing a TV special where he basically told people the only way they were going to learn about the effects of drugs was to take them. Thanks Tim. Anyway, having firmly established his credibility as a role model I’m now going to direct you to the article here. He makes an interesting point about conversation – and missed conversational opportunities – particularly l’esprit d’escalier. To sum it up for people too lazy to click a link – he is haunted by missed opportunities. He’ll even call a journalist who interviews him two weeks later to amend his answers. I’m wondering if this is just a luxury for the rich and famous. Can we all buy an opportunity to add to past conversations? As someone who often misses great opportunities for witty (or even non-witty but effective) responses – only to think of them at some later date – I think it would be of some benefit to bring in a system where amendments to a conversation can be made in another time and another place. I propose to make this the time and the place for such comments. If you feel like you could have, or should have responded to me, or anyone else, in a more witty or appropriate manner then post a comment.

In other, less Whitlam related news…

I spent Friday night on Magnetic Island with a Sunday Mail freelance writer and her husband. If you’re ever on Magnetic Island I can now highly recommend the barefoot: food, art, wine restaurant. They did the best steak I’ve eaten in a long, long time.

I now have internet at home – if you desperately want to see how I’m going and are too cheap to call me and don’t like reading through the random stuff on my blog you can now find me on MSN at nathanc32hotmail.com you need to put the @ symbol in there – that’s to ward off the evil spam harvesters.