Category Archives: Culture

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Mental as anything

My last post ruffled some feathers. Unfortunately I’ll never know whose because they posted anonymously – but I’d like to point out a couple of things to anonymous – and their potential cohort of anonymous friends who like to post ridiculous comments.
1. My last post had very little to do with depression. If it turns out that Trescothick is suffering from depression then my sympathies are with him. If however, we take him at face value (and according to his official website) then he’s not suffering from depression – he simply struggles with being on the road 300 days a year in his life as one of England’s top cricketers. In fact here are some quotes that suggest it’s not a matter of depression:

“The opener now claims he flew home early from India because of a ‘virus’ — even though it was previously said he had domestic problems.
Tresco, 30, said: “My problems are now very much behind me, I just needed a break.
“Playing six years of solid international cricket just takes it toll after a while.
“You get to certain stages of your career and you just need to be with your family to recharge the batteries.

“We play so much. We spend 300 nights of the year out of our own house, either travelling the world or in hotels preparing for games in England.”

Now I’m no psychologist. And he may be in denial, or trying to avoid being tarred with the public stigma that comes with depression -I don’t know, and that wasn’t a point I was discussing in my post.

I was shocked by the concept that an international sportsperson could claim work related stress, because as we all know – SPORT IS ONLY A GAME. That was my point – it was a point that segued nicely into the story about Shaun Berrigan and the fact he was sacrficing his brother’s wedding to play off the bench for Australia. I did not mention depression – my post was an indictment of the way sport has shifted from entertainment to something much more significant for many people. The example these stressed out, emotional wrecks are setting for the younger generation of sports people worries me. I did not comment on depression – I’m simply not qualified to do so. I may have made some reference to the issue in my response to some of the comments but I’ll get to that next. An interesting side note is that the full page photo the Courier Mail ran of a bedraggled, baggy eyed Trescothick getting off the plane in England was in fact not him but an unnamed English business man.

2. Play the ball not the man – when commenting please stick to commenting on the issue at hand. I’m not publishing my opinions asking to be attacked for them. Feel free to criticise what I have to say – but if you choose to anonymously insult me – I will delete the post. I will also reply – and because you’re anonymous I may be scathing and somewhat vindictive. I have the decency to put my name to my opinions – please do me, and other readers, the same courtesy by putting your name to yours. Also play the ball that’s being played – not some different issue. You can’t play golf while the rest of us are playing football. Whoever the anonymous poster was who brought suicide into the discussion yesterday was using a pathetic attempt at pathos by bringing in an extremely emotive, and sensitive issue into a discussion where it had no place to begin with. No one can argue with a post that wields suicide as a persuasive tool – you instantly place yourself on some sort of unassailable pedestal of rhetoric. That’s poor. No one needs to put up with shoddy emotional arguments.

3. Stick to the facts. It’s all well and good to argue using hearsay and some “statistics” that you’ve heard of supporting your position. The fact is 74% of statistics are made up on the spot. If you’re going to throw facts – scientific, economic or whatever at me – please back it up with evidence. I made the original post based on quotes from Trescothick available on the public record and reports of the story as it unfolded. Unless you’re an expert in your field – try to at least have an expert backing up your position. The exception being if you’re a certified member of the flat earth society – then I’m happy to laugh at your delusion.

4. Please read the post before commenting – don’t comment about what you think the post is about, comment about what it is about. Or leave a message saying hi. With your name. This blog exists so that my friends – or random strangers – can read my thoughts, and be kept up to speed with my life – and so that I have something to do at work, and can keep in touch with people as such I’m all for discourse – but please don’t go putting words in my mouth, I do a good enough job of making myself look stupid without your help. Finally, if you do suffer from depression, and you were insulted by any implied or explicit things I may have said in these last two posts – I apologise. Please seek professional help… or something – just don’t try to play cricket for England.

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Stress Fractures

Professional sports people are finally catching up to the rest of the world when it comes to the concept of stress leave. It seems the Poms can no longer handle a bit of spirited competition with their fragile emotional psyches preventing them from partaking in competition with the Australians. Marcus Trescothick has just pulled out of the Ashes tour due to stress related illness. His trip home came close on the heels of British Rugby League half back Sean Long’s decision to give the Tri-Nations tour the flick heading home due to “emotional fatigue and exhaustion” – at least he had the excuse that his wife is heavily pregnant and about to give birth. These poor fragile sports stars. How tough life must be for them with their million dollar salaries and their fancy cars, fast women and rigorous playing schedule. Yes that’s right folks. Sport is hard work. All that running around is enough to give you heaps of emotional baggage. And the constant sledging must surely take a toll on your soul. Joel is right, sarcasm can be hard to pick up in text – so here’s an emoticon :P. When will these sports stars stop being so precious. Despite the pressure of having a nation’s hopes and expectations riding on your shoulders, at the end of the day sport is only a game. While people may not be prepared to forgive and forget when a player cracks on the field, and is sent off, possibly costing his team the World Cup (ala David Beckham) – the nature of sport means that new targets will constantly present themselves (ala Christiano Ronaldo – playing right wing for Man Utd is a position fraught with danger). You’d think Trescothick and co were trying to solve the North Korean nuclear crisis, or tackling climate change, or trying to work out exactly how they get the shells onto a smartie (which I’m researching for a later blog). At the end of the day these sports people are meant to be competitive mentally and physically – it’s not a matter of getting out of the kitchen when you can’t hack the heat – you shouldn’t be there to begin with. How can a player get to a position where he’s representing his country and bail when it all gets too hard? All the talk about how tough it is being in the spotlight, having to be a role model, training too hard – it’s all part and parcel of being a sports star – the cushy day job and good pay don’t come for nothing… at the end of the day these players have pretty much buggered up their team’s chances before a ball is bowled, or the whistle blows – so good on ‘em for that.

The “it’s only a game” perspective is in danger of completely falling by the wayside – Shaun Berrigan is set to miss being best man at his brother’s wedding just to play 80 minutes of football. I’ve never heard anything more absurd. 92% of people who responded to the Courier Mail survey said Shaun should miss the game. Coach Ricky Stuart said no. Coach Ricky Stuart is in danger of becoming Phil Gould’s successor as the most annoying person in Rugby League.

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Storm in a coffee cup

Having spent the last three posts ranting and raving about sport, religion and politics – and pretty much ruling myself out of any dinner party invites in the next little while (only death and taxes to go and I’ll never be invited anywhere again…). It’s time once again to make you all feel slightly jealous about how great my job is.

Last week I went for a ride in a helicopter. It was my first ride in a helicopter and we (the pilot, the owner and a former mining magnate, come helicopter enthusiast, from Charters Towers) circumnavigated Magnetic Island before hovering above the Strand – photos from that trip can be viewed here.

Two days later I took to Cleveland Bay in a replica Schooner – the Providence V – an 18 year old, 64 ft, 8 sail boat now running tours and charters from Magnetic Island. The boat offers sailors the chance to hoist the sails and run around on the rigging. I partook in the former but left the latter to members of the Magnetic Island choir who were on the boat to provide the “entertainment.”

If that’s not enough to entice you to North Queensland for a holiday – how bout a $50 cup of coffee? This is perhaps my favourite work related story ever. It marks my first Courier Mail front page story (and by “my” I mean I wrote the press release – which you can read here). The Herveys Range Heritage Tea Rooms are selling Kopi Luwak – or “Cat Coffee” from the start of December. The coffee comes from the jungles of Indonesia – and more specifically from the digestive system of the civet – an Indonesian cat. It sells for up to $1250 a kilo – and this is the only place in Australia selling it on the menu. The media coverage has been phenomonal with the story picked up by Channel 10 News in Brisbane, ABC radio around the country, commercial radio in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Perth and That’s Life magazine will actually be paying the Tea Rooms for the story. Talk about a storm in a teacup.

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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.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMCmHBqRXnQ]
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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…