Peter Jensen on politics

This interview with Peter Jensen on the current election is worth a listen. I’m surprised it hasn’t been spoken about more in the blogosphere this week. Perhaps it’s not controversial enough. It’s from Sunday night.

Q: Do Christians necessarily vote from the viewpoint of faith, do you think?
A: Yes we do. And fortunately in Australia it’s perfectly possible, even across the range of options, to vote from faith and to vote differently. You can not say to a Christian in Australia “you must vote for such and such a person. It’s a matter of balance. You’ll work out which way you want to go.”

He discusses Gillard’s atheism and its impact on Christian voters frankly. He discusses Abbott’s faith and its impact on voters with equal frankness.

The death of death

An ABC blogger reckons religion is in decline because nobody is as scared of death any more… his post attracted a bunch of rabid atheists – like any such post on the interwebs does. There aren’t enough rational Christians commenting on these kinds of posts with gospel intent…

“The appeal of the big three monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – has always been that they offer us a mechanism to deal with death, an accommodation with our inevitable personal extinction.”

The study of religious structures is pretty fascinating. But the idea that religions came about to control people rather than in a search for truth and meaning is pretty insulting to any believer.

Christianity, is not, as the author of this piece suggests, about “moral living’ that’s an outcome of Christianity not the process of Christianity. And it’s not the end goal of Christian life.

“In exchange for living according to a moral code, life can be infinitely prolonged after the death of the body. But for Westerners, death is now further away than ever before. Western science has not yet conquered death, but it has now banished death to a comfortable distance.”

One of the angry atheists in the comments suggested that the God of the Bible is immoral – kind of defeats the purpose of being God if you’re not the arbiter of morality doesn’t it? That statement is not logical.

“This article made no mention of the wealth of evidence and arguments against religion. The immorality of the god of the bible, mohammed, and just the illogical nature of the whole thing.”

Different strokes

I am back. Camp was good, more on that shortly.

But first things first – I was reading through my unread items in Google Reader and game across these gems – right next to each other.

Two media organisations reporting on the same set of circumstances with vastly different interpretations of the facts:

ABC – Ex-Sharks Player denies involvement in sex scandal

Fox Sports – Former Sharks player Daniel Ninness admits role in group sex incident

In fact – both stories report almost exactly the same statement from Ninness – without making any editorial judgment on his stance, except in the headline.

How is this so?

Adventures in TV

We caught Lawrence Leung’s Choose Your Own Adventure last night on the ABC (post Gruen Transfer). It made me laugh until I cried. It’s Safranesque – and produced by the Chaser team.

If you missed it you can watch it here thanks to the magic of iView.

Very funny. I’ll never be able to pick up a copy of the Queensland Presbyterian newspaper, New Directions, again without catching subliminal messages.

One of my favourite bits was when his mum told him what he was doing (trying to track down the object of his grade 3 affections) was creepy.

Here’s the trailer. It uses lego. He’s also a Rubiks Cube master. And used that to get a girl’s phone number. Chicks dig guys with skillz.

The Costa Coffee

A British coffee taster has insured his prime asset for $14 million. His tongue. So he’ll no doubt be steering clear of overly hot coffees from now on. From the ABC.

“Gennaro Pelliccia is the chief taster for Costa Coffee and tastes every batch of raw coffee beans the company uses.
He says his 18 years of experience in the industry has made his tongue a valuable asset.”

Audacity of hope

The market is down 1% so far today. And closed 4% down in the US. So much for the much hyped Obama effect. Just yesterday ABC Radio’s morning show was telling us the market would bounce the moment he was sworn in.

Update – it seems this image from the SMH changes in real time.

When you sing you begin with Do Re Mi

When you want to make big bucks in radio you begin with ABC. It’s a sad fact of life that JJJ, and more broadly the ABC, cultivate 90%* of the media talent in this world, and they all eventually leave.

Roy and HG have had many trists and dalliances with commercial TV through their Olympic broadcasts and the like – but until now have remained true to their radio roots with “This Sporting Life” on JJJ on a Sunday afternoon. But no more. They’re off to the greener pastures of MMM. They did manage to stay there much longer than Merrick and Rosso, or Wil Anderson – and they command respect for that…

But for some reason this makes me angry. I was probably so ingrained by the left leaning creative types at uni that I scream “sell out” every time someone makes money out of their creativity. It’s a hard line to tread. The thing is – even JJJ radio personalities make an exhorbitant amount of money on the professional MC circuit.

Even ABC breakfast radio hosts command more than $10,000 an appearance** – and that’s pretty close to the base rate. Seriously, this is easier than painting some obscure blue poles on canvas. You get 100 of these gigs a year (assuming 1 mid week and 1 a weekend over 52 weeks) and that’s a million bucks. Why you can’t stick to your principles and stay committed to the station that nurtured your talent is beyond me. I guess this is the only way new talent is allowed an opportunity. But I find it all a little mercenary.

*arbitrarily selected figure
** One extroverted mathematician in particular, ex JJJ, we had him up here for a function a while back…

Now I know my ABC

Sesame Street references aside – I happened to catch the end of the Australia v New Zealand test match this morning in the car. The hapless Chris Martin – the cricketer, not the Coldplay singer – is celebrated as one of the worst tail end batsmen ever to grace the game of cricket. Kerry O’Keefe is one of my favourite commentators in any sport, and he came up with this gem when addressing what Martin could do to fix his game:

“He should chisel a grip out of a surfboard. That’d increase his chance of getting a hit.”

Martin was clean bowled a ball later. Kerry O’Keefe also has the most annoying laugh on radio – and he often laughs at his own jokes. He’s still the only commentator, in my opinion, who approaches the greatness of Navjot Singh Sidhu – so popular in India his one liners are collated and known as Sidhuisms. One of my favourites was his description of a shot Tendulkar played off his tip toes:

“He played that like a dwarf at a urinal.”

It’s a shame today’s cricket was over so soon – I was looking forward to it occupying my until at least mid afternoon.

The love god

I was listening to ABC radio last night at around 11pm. As you do. And I heard an insightful interview with Australian social commentator Hugh Mackay. Mackay is widely regarded as having his finger on the pulse of Australian culture and society – along with futurist Clive Hamilton he’s one of the media’s most widely quoted sociologists. His views are pretty widely respected. Mackay was speaking on his own personal views on spirituality and religion – his criticisms of the “organised religion” and “the church” were the same we hear trotted out time and time again – too focused on sex etc – which are probably true in some ways. The church is portrayed as being hung up on church – largely because that’s where the greatest distinctions between Christians and the world express themselves. Mackay was anti-church but pro “God”, pro spirituality and anti militant atheism in a refreshing way – he suggested that Dawkins in the God Delusion takes the best of science and compares it with the worst of religion with unsurprising results. 

Mackay is a smart man. He forms a compelling argument based on his unique knowledge of culture. However, he misses the boat when it comes to the following statement:

“love is God”

This conclusion was the result of much thinking and reflection – and some interaction with the church in the past. While it’s almost exciting to hear the “intellectual left” moving away from the aforementioned secular humanism – this represents a more insidious misconstruing of any theological or logical understanding of a creative force – people keep turning abstract nouns like “science” and “love” into God.

This new intellectual position on “god” takes humanity’s most powerful emotion and deifies it essentially reinventing God in an airy fairy palatable package. While it sounds nice it doesn’t really make sense. It’s really essentially a bastardisation of the biblical position of “God is love” so it sounds right – but it really only considers one element of “God”. What does this love centric theology do with issues like the existence of suffering and bad stuff? I don’t know – I didn’t hear the rest of the interview. But if you’re so inclined you can hear it here.


Weasel words

I was driving to work this morning listening to my local ABC news. Which I think is the best local news in Townsville. There’s a story going round up here about a crocodile – which is not unusual for North Queensland. This crocodile is terrorising the locals at Mystic Sands. It’s two metres long and must be removed because it’s a danger to the community – the creek it lives in flows past two houses. 

The local EPA spokesperson said “The Crocodile needs to be removed because there’s a real chance it could interact with pets, or even small children…”

Since when is “interact” a euphemism for eat? Weasel words are the new black. Obfuscation is a big part of my job, a media training thing yesterday with one of Queensland’s leading PR consulting groups made me even more cynical. The trainer (an experienced journalist) made a point that everything we read now has spin on it because journalists are hand fed more than 90% of their news (ie most stories come from Media Releases) – and anyone who puts out a media release knows that they’re not objective.

This trainer made a comment that politics – and particularly policy making is now purely assessed on the following criteria:
a) will we be hammered more for not doing it, or doing it?
b) is there a photo in it?
c) Can we turn it into a news story or a website?

The QLD Government, and the Rudd Government have massive spin machines dedicated to packaging policy for the masses. Rudd is great at symbolism – but lacking substance. This is a prime example of something that met the aforementioned criteria.

Rumours and innuendo
Rumour has it that several leading local sports stars were busted in a “cocaine party”
Rumour also has it that several leading political journos are starting to link some of Rudd’s decisions in policy making in the Queensland government – linking many of South East Queensland’s current woes with his decisions… eg Water shortages with dam refusals, health problems with health infrastructure investment (or lack thereof), and education problems with a Rudd led education review.

Anyway, I’m off to interact with my morning tea.

Will a fright fix this Hicks up?

This post is the result of two recent observations. 1 – Hiccups (or hiccoughs or hic ups) are incredibly hard to dislodge, remove, cure etc. 2 – David Hicks is fast becoming the novelty crusade of choice for the uneducated latte left who run the “intelligent” media in this country. The Sydney Morning Herald put his continued detention at Guacamole* Bay at number 1 in their list of Australia’s crimes against civil liberties. I was watching ABC news last night and they showed a nice friendly pick of Hicks outside his family home. I’m sick of the media rewriting painting Hicks as a confused good guy in this situation.

Let’s face it, Hicks is no angel. He was busted fighting with our enemies (admittedly in the “War on an abstract noun”). Where I come from terrorists aren’t considered to be friends of the Australian cause. I come from Australia. Anyone fighting against Australian soldiers probably deserves to be punished. Despite what the bleeding hearts out there would suggest, I don’t think Hicks would have thought twice before firing one of those rocket launchers at an Australian soldier in the name of Jihad. Hicks, as a result of ideological brainwashing, or by his own choice, was in the Middle East waging a religious Jihad. He’d left Australia following a marriage break up and discovered solace in extremist Islam.

I’m fairly sure most intelligent people see it that way as well – the argument for his release, or at the very least his trial comes from a desire to see the western system of law upheld. In this instance it may be a case of upholding the law at the expense of justice. At this point Hicks hasn’t really broken any laws. He can’t be tried under the Geneva Convention because he wasn’t fighting for an official military organisation. He can’t be tried under Australian or American law because no relevant law exists (or exists covering the time of his capture). Why would the Australian or American governments want to release him back into the general public?
He’s a man who’s letters home say he’s fighting to ensure “the Western-Jewish domination is finished, so we live under Muslim law again”.

There’s a compelling case for him to be tried and properly jailed (rather than tortured in no man’s land) on the base of basic human rights and international standards – but the argument that he’s being hard done by and putting him up as a cause for Australian’s to be fighting for is kind of missing the point. He’s a bad guy. Not a good guy who made mistakes. There hasn’t really been any suggestion of remorse from Hicks for his actions and it doesn’t seem likely that that will occur – if he’s not backing down in the face of the terrible treatment he’s receiving at Guantanamo then he’s not going to back down. If he’s not going to back down it puts the Australian government between a rock and a hard place. This is a guy who’s physically fighting against “our” “western” ideology. Why should the governments in question seek to release him?

There’s a long standing debate between proponents of the left and right wings over whether the penal system is designed to punish or rehabilitate. At this point Hicks shows no apparent signs of rehabilitation (granted access to Hicks and his mental state is not something we have readily available) and the question of whether he’s been appropriately punished depends on his exact actions in his “jihad.”

There are too many issues simmering in the Guantanamo Bay crock pot for this to be a cut and dried case. The legality of Guantanamo Bay is balanced against the necessity of having somewhere to store these unlawful combatants (in the old days they would have just been shot). The holding of someone obviously needing holding against their rights to a trial process… It’s a situation that’s too hard for anyone to get completely right. The one thing I’m sure of is that those calling for the canonisation of a man fighting for Osama Bin Laden have it wrong.

* (sic) – the Herald didn’t get it wrong, I just thought it was slightly funny** at the time.
** I’ve changed my mind now but can’t be bothered changing the joke.

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