Category: Random


Why? Just, why?

It’s been impossible to so much as look around in the last week here in Melbourne without being confronted by images and stories about missing Brunswick woman Jill Meagher. Unfortunately, as we are now sadly all too aware, her body was located in the early hours of the morning and a Coburg man has been charged with her rape and murder.

The confirmation of this despicable crime, the extinguishing of the last remaining hope held out by her family and friends, and the outpouring of emotion from people as close as her husband to as distant as complete strangers has shown the best and the worst of our society and the human race of which we are all a part. A beautiful young woman, slain in the prime of her life, her husband now a widower, her parents without a daughter, a life cut far too short for seemingly no reason. One wonders, why? Just, why?

I know if someone did something as inexplicable and horrible like this to the woman I loved, I would be absolutely devastated in ways words could not convey. To have lost someone as dear as your daughter, sister or partner is a feeling I cannot begin to understand, and hope never to have to. Though relating that feeling, even hypothetically, to my own situation only makes me feel even more grief and sorrow for the family and friends of their now-lost loved one.

But sadly, this heartbreaking episode that has unfolded since the early hours of Saturday morning is just one small event of this nature. Without in any way belittling the hurt and sadness of the Meagher family for the sudden and unfair loss, this is but one of many incidents of this type to occur in the world we live in. It is one, like the other 91 murders that occurred in Victoria in the last twelve months to June. It is one, like the 2,044 rape offences that occurred in that same period.

Again, I don’t mean to belittle this tragedy, but I aim to point out that tragic events like are sadly all too common. I sincerely hope that the publicity surrounding this specific case leads us to formulate a response that protects others who may otherwise have fallen victim to foul play. If this incident can lead to measures being implemented that prevent even one of these crimes occurring again, we’ve at least then done what we can to make the best of a truly terrible situation.

The suspect, who has now been charged in this case, led police to the body of the victim. I find his actions truly deplorable and abhorrent, truly abhorrent. I am of the opinion that crimes against women, particularly of this nature, are the lowest of low. I am horrified of the concept that a man can bring himself to rape a woman, let alone then murdering her afterwards. I simply detest any crimes against women, and the people (generally men) who perpetrate them.

However, this man, as deplorable as I may find his actions, is now in the hands of the system. He will now be subject to the processes and procedures of our judicial system to determine his guilt and deserved punishment. This is a fair and reasonable outcome. While the instincts of some may be to seek revenge in a very primitive way, I feel we must let justice run its course. Nothing can bring her back now, and seeking to make another suffer just lowers us to this despicable man’s level.

Let us now leave the system do its job. And most importantly, let us now leave this poor family to grieve, and hopefully put this extremely unfair and unfortunate chapter of their life behind them.

Another set of look-alikes?

All this talk of Republican presidential nominations of late has seen this man, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, gain a lot of exposure in the media. I couldn’t help but notice he looked kinda similar to a great historical character, whose heights of fame may almost be reached if he does become president next year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yep, I think Mitt Romney reminds me of The Fonz. Nowhere near as cool though. Tell me, am I deluded, or is there a similarity?

A couple of look-alikes

Doing some web surfing preparing this post on my top 10 Australian albums, I couldn’t help but think that the lead singer of The Whitlams Tim Freedman looked very similar to someone.

Then I figured it out. Take a look at the next picture and tell me if you think these two men look similar.

The latter picture is Christopher Skase, the late businessman who fled Australian for Majorca after his Qintex empire collapsed in the late 1980s.

So, are they in fact similar, or am I just seeing things?

(Disclaimer: the following opinions expressed are those of a Geelong Football Club supporter. While all efforts have been made to open both eyes and consider the situation objectively, management apologies for any partisan views published.)

For those living under a rock, last night Geelong played Hawthorn in yet another classic at the MCG, and as has been the case in every game since the 2008 Grand Final, Geelong won by a narrow margin.

However, a supposedly contentious decision in the final seconds set the talkback stations alight and invited comment from just about every commentator of the game, with a fairly mixed response from all. For those who haven’t seen it, here’s the vision (both at game speed and with a slow-mo replay):

So to add to the number of people with an opinion on this event, here’s is my take.

There was no free kick to be paid there. From the live footage, it did in fact look like Franklin was pushed in the back by Tom Lonergan, and on the basis of that alone it wouldn’t have surprised me had the umpire blown his whistle and paid Franklin the free (though it would have disappointed). However, on review and looking at the slowed-down reverse angle footage, there is no evidence of a push in the back whatsoever.

What there is evidence of is somewhat different, and would warrant a free against Hawthorn rather than for them. That footage shows Franklin diving in order to receive a free kick. Despite the lack of contact from Lonergan, and the ball coming in over his head height, he made no effort to raise his hands in order to mark. Instead, he chose to go to ground, in what can only be described as a deliberate attempt to deceive the umpire into paying a free kick for him. I think it was an extremely lazy and selfish act on the part of Franklin to not go for the mark, and I think his pathetic effort was appropriately rewarded by him not winning possession. I actually believe that if he’d gone for the mark, he would have not only had a good chance of taking it, but he may have been more likely to earn a legitimate free kick as well.

It also appears the impact of this decision is being grossly overstated as is usual for decisions near the end of the game. It’s no wonder umpires are regularly thought to “swallow their whistles” near the ends of tight games – no one wants to be labelled with making the decision that determined the result of a game. As such, this criticism has come of the umpire who decided against paying the free to Franklin. However, while people will harp on about one free kick, ignoring the fact that 48 others were paid throughout the course of the game. I don’t see the Hawthorn fans complaining about the weak 50-metre penalty against Bartel on Franklin that gifted Clinton Young a goal earlier in the match. I also don’t see them criticising their coach for allowing Scarlett and Mackie to stay a kick behind play unmanned, which prevented Hawthorn from launching any threatening attacks in the last term and kept them scoreless after 3 quarter time.

So I’m sure the Hawthorn fans will feel ripped off because their faultless (*cough*) star wasn’t given the chance to win the game for his team. I stand by the fact that if I believe he deserved that chance, I’d agree that they had a legitimate complaint. However, he didn’t, and that blatant dive ensured justice was done, and Geelong won the game.

Take your politics elsewhere

Last night, due to my interest in the round ball game, I casually followed the progress of the Australia versus Serbia friendly being held at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium. I don’t have pay TV so I didn’t watch it, and from all reports I missed an entertaining match, despite the eventual goalless scoreline.

What I didn’t see at the time, but was brought to my attention by the media this morning, was the disturbing sight of Serbian supporters choosing to use the football game as a public forum to vent their disgusting ultra-nationalist political views. Banners expressing support for Serbian General Ratko Mladic, even calling for his release, were displayed to the horror of some of the crowd and the wider public.

A brief history lesson here: General Mladic was responsible for ordering the execution of over 8,000 Bosniaks (aka Bosnian Muslims) in the massacres at Srebrenica in 1995. By execution, I don’t mean causing the death of soldiers during combat, but the capture and murder of unarmed civilians in an act that is best described as cold-blooded genocide.

I unashamedly admit that my views on this debate are somewhat coloured by my Croatian heritage. My grandfather was born in what is now defined as Bosnia and Herzegovina, and until the declaration of independence by Croatia was not able to return to his homeland without fear of being taken a political prisoner by the Serb-controlled government at the time.

However, even the objective observer the situation for what it is. Mladic is a war criminal, and I find the notion that anyone, Serb or otherwise, could support his actions utterly despicable. Additionally, I find the need for these people to openly express this horrific view in public at, of all places, a football game just disgusting. Sport is about many things – competition, skill, and even national pride – but not politics. If you support Mladic, while I may not agree or approve, that’s your choice. But to ruin the spectacle of an international friendly match by marching this racist political agenda out all over it detracts from the beauty that is sport.

Take for instance the cricket world cup match between Pakistan and India a few weeks back. Pakistan and India hate each other – they are practically at war and political enemies, despite their neighbouring geographical locations. Yet, for the cricket match, the politics was put on hold. The Pakistani team and Indian team put their differences aside to compete in a sporting match. It was passionate, it was hard-fought, and it was a truly great sporting spectacle. It was so because the politics had been checked at the door. The Pakistanis and Indians arguably hate each other even more than the Serbs and the Bosnians/Croatians/Albanians/Macedonians/Kosovars do, but they acknowledged that their differences had no place on the sporting field.

Sadly, the Serbs (and I acknowledge the Croatians too) do not take this mentality. The riots at the Australian Open tennis a few years ago show this. While we understand the hatred you both have for each other, is there any need to let it develop into a fist fight at a public sporting event? Additionally, given the age of the perpetrators at both the football and the tennis, it’s highly unlikely that any of them were even involved in the Balkans wars of the 1990s – they are most likely descendants of the generation of immigrants who left Europe in the 1950s and 60s (a bit like me). While it appals me to learn of the crimes committed in those wars, I have no desire to bring these battles to of all places a sporting event. My grandfather left Yugoslavia (as it was then) to avoid these wars – to enjoy a life of freedom instead of one of conflict. Why their descendants can’t do the same confuses and disappoints me.

Take your politics somewhere else, and let sport be the great contest that it is.

Reverse-spin the news

A few weeks ago I wrote an article defending the ABC from the claims that the public media organisation holds a political bias (I can’t say whether the claims are that it is biased to the left or right, because the conservatives would have you believe it favours the left, while the progressives claim it is biased to the right).

However, one such media organisation that will not receive my support for its editorial line is News Limited, or specifically in this case, The Australian. Murdoch’s national broadsheet, which claims that it needs to “make a lot of noise” in order to be heard, and has already willingly expressed its disapproval for The Greens, possesses a conservative bias that surely must be evident to all but the most one-eyed Liberal Party supporters.

I’m not the first to point this out – the online news service Crikey makes the point often, as does the Grog’s Gamut blog, both of which are finer examples of media and political analysis than that shoddy rag could ever wish to be.

So why am I so incensed about this today? Well, I woke this morning to find the latest Newspoll results had been released. The figures showed Labor on 34% primary vote, the Coalition on 44% and the Greens on 14%. That’s a 1 point increase to Labor, a 2 point drop to the Coalition and a 4 point gain for the Greens. The two-party preferred figures are now 48-52 in the Coalition’s favour, a four point drop in the difference from the last survey.

Here’s how our unbiased friends at the ABC reported today’s poll results:

As the carbon tax continues to dominate the political debate, a new opinion poll shows the Coalition’s lead over Labor is narrowing slightly.

The Newspoll published in today’s Australian newspaper says Labor’s primary vote has risen one point to 34 per cent, while the Coalition’s primary vote fell two points to 44 per cent.

The Coalition is still leading Labor 52 per cent to 48 per cent on a two-party preferred basis.

A fortnight ago the Coalition led by 54 per cent to 46 per cent.

Yep, much as it was. Labor’s gained, but the Coalition still leads. Pretty much as it is.

This tone was obviously too simple (or more likely too left-wing) for The Australian, whose Political Editor Dennis Shanahan instead went with this angle:

ALP fails to profit from Liberal ructions: Newspoll

THE Coalition has kept its clear election-winning lead over Labor as Julia Gillard’s personal support co

ntinues to languish and Tony Abbott calls for an early “carbon tax” election.

Despite two weeks of publicity about infighting and squabbles within the Liberal Party, and a concerted government campaign against the Opposition Leader, there has been virtually no change in the party standings.

Look at the wording: “clear election-winning lead”, “Gillard’s personal support continues to languish”, “Abbott calls for an early carbon tax election”, “virtually no change in the party standings”. From that, you’d think Labor had been wiped out by the latest poll. In fact, even their claim that Gillard’s personal support is languishing is not correct, because the poll figures show an increase in Gillard’s satisfaction ratings, and a decrease in her dissatisfaction rating. Meanwhile, her opponent Abbott has fallen in satisfaction and risen in dissatisfaction ratings in the same period.

It’s sadly typical of The Australian, and many News Limited papers, to report favourably towards the Liberal Party. God forbid they actually look at the results, which show a drop for the Coalition. And heaven forbid they dare mention that The Greens were the biggest positive movers in this poll, rising a significant 4 points in the primary vote alone.

So, I figure if they won’t write it, I will. Much like I did in that ABC article, here’s a quick re-write of the poll results with the shoe on the other foot.

———

Coalition on the nose as progressives rise

The Coalition’s internal rumblings and negative campaigning appear to have lost their appeal to voters, with the latest poll figures revealing the Liberals and Nationals leaking support to both the Labor Party and the Greens.

The Newspoll figures, published in The Australian, reveal that the Coalition has dropped two percentage points in its primary support, now sitting at 44%, barely above the 43.6% primary vote it lost the 2010 election with. Meanwhile, the Labor Party have gained one percentage point to be on 34%, and The Greens were the big movers, rising four percentage points to sit on 14%.

The two-party preferred gap has narrowed considerably as well, with the Coalition now only holding a slender 52-48 lead over Labor after preferences.

Party room dissent may also increase after the figures also revealed Liberal leader Tony Abbott’s personal support has taken a tumble in the past fortnight, with his satisfaction ratings dropping 3% overall to put him at a net satisfaction rating of -16. In the same period, Julia Gillard’s personal support has risen by 2 points overall. Mr Abbott has been accused of pursuing a campaign of “mindless negativity” and lacking in any genuine policy direction, recently claiming he favoured “pragmatic politics over policy purity”.

The poll results come on the back of an already disastrous week for the Coalition, with front-bencher and former leader Malcolm Turnbull launching public attacks on party colleagues and openly criticising the Coalition’s climate change policy. Tensions between Mr Abbott and his shadow treasurer Joe Hockey have also surfaced, with the two forced to put on a joint press conference in an attempt to quell speculation about a falling out.

Meanwhile, Labor and the Greens have been strengthened by a campaign launched by a coalition of community groups expressing support for the proposed carbon tax. The campaign, launched on the weekend, includes celebrities such as actors Michael Caton and Cate Blanchett, and is supported by public figures like entrepreneur Dick Smith and former Liberal Party leaders John Hewson and Malcolm Fraser.

———

Now I can’t claim to have anywhere near the circulation figures of The Australian, and although I deride them, their standards of writing are far superior to mine. However, it still feels nice to reverse the spin and stick it to the right-wing media in this country sometimes.

A common held belief, often pushed by elements of the right-wing of Australian politics, is that the government-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation (or the ABC, Aunty, whatever you want to call it) maintains a level of editorial bias to the left-wing of politics.

This is quite a serious claim to make of a broadcaster that is both government-funded and legislatively bound to provide “independent” broadcasting to the Australian people. If the ABC did in fact maintain an editorial bias in its news publications and broadcasts, it would in fact be violating its charter, and would in fact deserve to have its right to exist questioned.

However, in my experience, and the experience of many, this is far from the case.

Take, for example, this news article about the latest Newspoll results. The headline reads “Abbott’s satisfaction rating on the rise”. Mmm, a headline proclaiming the popularity of the leader of the Liberal Party.

The rest of the article reads as follows:

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has maintained her popularity over Opposition Leader Tony Abbott as preferred prime minister in the latest opinion poll.

The Newspoll published in The Australian shows Ms Gillard leads Mr Abbott as preferred prime minister by 45 to 36 per cent.

Bang! Gotcha ABC! Look at that, blatant editorialising for the Left!

Sorry, sarcasm took over there. Let’s look at every statement in those paragraphs objectively. In the previous Newspoll, Ms Gillard led Mr Abbott in the preferred PM stakes 46% to 37%. In today’s Newspoll, she leads 45% to 36%. Same margin, only both leaders have lost a point. More importantly, it means the ABC’s reporting is factually accurate.

The next paragraph, like the headline, actually points out Mr Abbott’s gaining ground on the PM in different measures:

But the poll sees Mr Abbott’s job satisfaction rating up 6 per cent, from 36 to 42 per cent, in the past month.

Look at that, praising the Right. Surely this can’t be! Again, from the neutral point of view, this is factually correct, so there is no problem.

The article goes on to discuss the party results next, pointing out that:

The primary vote for the major parties remained steady, with the Coalition on 44 per cent, the Government on 33 per cent and the Greens on 12 per cent.

On a two-party preferred basis, the Coalition continues to poll an election-winning lead of 6 per cent.

Again, pointing out the Coalition’s strong position in the polls, and again, doing so accurately. Certainly no left-wing bias here.

The article then concludes by quoting the Prime Minister:

The Prime Minister declined to comment on the poll, saying if she speculated on polls she would “get very little else done given the number of polls that we see”.

“I’ve got a lot of hard work to do as Prime Minister. We’ve got a lot of hard work to do as a government, and we’ll get on with doing that work,” she told AM.

I’m sure the Right would have you believe that a lack of a quote from Mr Abbott would indicate a left-wing bias. However, the only reason they’ve quoted Ms Gillard is because she fortuitously appeared on ABC radio this morning when the poll figures were released, so it was logical to seek comment from her on the numbers. Had Mr Abbott done the same (which he has not), he too would have been asked to comment.

No, the ABC does its absolute best to maintain its independence and freedom from editorial bias – something that cannot be said for its commercial competitors (*cough* News Limited *cough*).

If this article were to be written by an institution with a left-wing bias, here’s an example of how it might actually read:

—–

Abbott loses ground in latest Newspoll

Today’s Newspoll results spell bad news for Tony Abbott and the Coalition, losing 4% of it’s two-party preferred (2PP) lead to Labor, and failing to gain ground in other key areas.

Labor’s primary vote increased by 1 point to 33%, with the Coalition dropping by the same margin to sit at 44%. The Greens and others remained unchanged.

Labor has also clawed back on the Coalition’s 2PP lead – gaining two points to be at 47%, while the Coalition fell the same amount to sit at 53%.

The news was no better for Mr Abbott in the preferred PM stakes, with the Liberal leader failing to gain any ground on Ms Gillard, despite her rating falling by a point. Ms Gillard leads the preferred PM ratings 45% to Mr Abbott’s 36%, a net lead of 9%.

The only good news for Mr Abbott was a slight rise in his satisfaction rating as Opposition Leader, on the back of his opposition to the Carbon Tax and other government initiatives.

Mr Abbott did not offer any comment on the polling figures this morning, however Prime Minister Gillard was modest about her government’s improving fortunes in the polls. She said was not interested in speculating on poll results, and was determined to get on with the tasks at hand.

“I’ve got a lot of hard work to do as Prime Minister. We’ve got a lot of hard work to do as a government, and we’ll get on with doing that work,” she told ABC radio this morning.

—–

There you go, now THAT is a piece deserving of being labelled biased. Again, it tells the facts, however it represents them in a way that is far more favourable to the Labor Party, and critical of the Liberals. If I read that on ABC News, even being a left-leaning member of society, I would be disappointed in its lack of neutrality (and the fact that it looks like it was written in five minutes by a 22 year old non-journalist student, which it was).

I don’t know whether to believe that the Right expects that all media should do what Murdoch’s papers do and report favourably towards it, or whether their inherent opposition to any form of public-owned entity makes them anti-ABC, but I don’t understand it. The ABC, in my view, goes a long way to providing objective, unbiased, informative reporting in this country, and most certainly fills a void left by the commercial operators. Their taxpayer fundbase will always see them prone to political attacks, and while I think it’s vital that all media, the ABC included, be held accountable, I firmly support and am very thankful for the existence of the ABC.

I’ve been staying at the parents’ place down in Geelong for the past few weeks, and by chance happened to be looking through their record collection. My parents claimed to be avid music buyers back in the days prior to their marriage in the mid ’80s. However, upon inspection, some nasty shocks were found in amongst some bearable music. Here for you today is a brief selection of some of the more “interesting” finds I made.

First up was this absolute shocker:

Oh dear. Is it too early to ask to be disowned by my parents now? This shocker, released in 1977, showcases the worst and the worst of the world of being a celebrity. What ever on Earth persuaded Mr and Mrs Newton to produce this album is completely beyond me, but whatever persuaded my parents to part with $5.99 at Brashs to buy it completely disappoints me.

Next we have Kevin “Bloody” Wilson’s debut album titled “Your Average Australian Yobbo”. With such charming tracks as “I Gave Up Wanking”, “Arr Fuck” (The Instrumental), “That Fucking Cat’s Back” and “Stack The Fridge”, what isn’t there to love about this album. Having said that, while it’s no Bert and Patti Family Album, I doubt I’ll be going out of my way to purchase myself a copy any time soon.

Here we have a double dose of vomit in the form of country singer Glen Campbell. As if his “Wichita Lineman” album wasn’t painful enough, one of the old folks decided to add a live record titled “A Southern Knight in England” (haw haw) to our disgust. I don’t know which of the following pains me more: my parents owning two Glen Campbell records, or the fact that Wichita Lineman knocked Jimi Hendrix’s “Electric Ladyland” off the top of the album charts after its 1968 release.

Next is “Thriller” – the album that anyone old enough to blink back in 1982 had a copy of. I do find it interesting that back then, the only thing white about Michael Jackson was the suit he was wearing, and that he at one point in his life at least resembled a normal looking human being. This album is by far not the worst of the collection, and certainly wouldn’t rate highly on the Bert and Patti scale of awfulness. In fact, I think many of us may still rock out to Eddie van Halen’s solo in “Beat It”, and we all know that Billie Jean is not his lover, but we didn’t quite realise exactly what Michael was talking about when he said “The Girl Is Mine”. Those allegations would be made years later. Tasteless I know, in fact I think I’ll move on now…

Moving on, the next album worth discussing was Frank Zappa’s “Sheik Yerbouti”. I’ll immediately confess to not being hugely knowledgeable about the works of Frank Zappa, I’m led to believe this was one of his bigger and more popular albums. Whether that was due to the amusing name, the somewhat provocative cover images (both front and especially back, as seen above), or actually the music on I’m not sure, but for at least one of those reasons it has sat beneath the record player for the last thirty or so years at this house.

Something now a little more enjoyable (at least in my opinion) is Phil Collins’ fourth solo album “…But Seriously”. Being released in 1989, this one is obviously a latecomer to the rather dated majority of the record collection, but its presence doesn’t surprise me as my father is a big Phil Collins fan (and why wouldn’t he be). This was the album that produced tracks like “Another Day In Paradise” and “I Wish It Would Rain Down”, and its existence goes some way toward atoning for the sins of some earlier records.

Another one for the Genesis fans is this, the 12″ single of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes”. The 12 inch size confused me at first, and I actually thought this was a full album, but that mistake was quickly realised upon a bit of research. This song is typically experimental like most of Gabriel’s stuff both with and after Genesis, and is by no means offensive.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the following record.

“The Swinging Happy Sound of the Riverboat Banjo Band”? What the fuck? Surely they can’t have thought it would be in any way a clever idea to part with money in exchange for this record. I’m going to go with the assumption that by some bizarre alien influence this record inexplicably simply appeared in their collection. This one sets the Bert and Patti meter pinging furiously.

Ah, now here’s something you won’t see every day. Cheech and Chong’s Wedding Album, complete with the full imitation photo album cover. The only track from it with which I am familiar is the famous “Earache My Eye” sketch, with that famous guitar riff and loving dialogue between father and son. However, I don’t know whether to class that album as a masterpiece or a total shocker. I’ll let you decide on that one.

Oh dear. I am officially disgusted. What on Earth were they thinking? Barbra Streisand? Not only can I not believe that my parents bought this album, but looking it up, it went 6x Platinum after its 1980 release, making my parents just one of 12 million idiots who bought this album worldwide. That fact is almost as amazing as the coverup job they did to hide that nose of hers on the album cover, that is an achievement.

Next in our list is the act of charity I’m sure a lot of people back in 1985 thought to undertake. I’m sure Bob Geldof’s intentions were good when he compiled a list of about 30 musicians to get together as Band-Aid and record this song to raise money for the Ethiopian famine, but the end product was “Do They Know It’s Christmas”. So Bob, 10 points for trying to save the world, but minus several million for the crime against humanity that this song was. This song has now repeated more times than a 3 day old seafood pizza, and instead of being executed like he should have, Geldof was knighted. Go figure.

This is more like it. One for the rockers and radio nerds alike, this is the 12″ live recording of Armistice Day and Stand In Line, recorded at the last 2JJ concert in 1981. Armistice Day is probably one of my favourite Oils songs, due to its eerie qualities, and to the fact that it’s not horribly overplayed like most other Oils stuff. And on a side note, it’s a pity how far Triple J has dropped from the highs of its beginnings. They’d be too busy now playing Hilltop Hoods or some rubbish to discover a modern-day Midnight Oil. But I digress…

Paul Young – a man who could make Rick Springfield look and sound positively blokey. This is his debut album “No Parlez” from 1983, though many of us wish he had taken the hint from the title and just shut up. This album will be remembered for such tracks as “Love Of The Common People” and the hideous cover of a legendary Joy Division song in “Love Will Tear Us Apart”. I think this record has more value being used as a frisbee than it does being put anywhere near a turntable.

Looking at that photo, I reckon Rod Stewart’s Body Wishes it could somehow separate itself from that ugly head of his. What an ugly guy, and the music on the album probably matches it. I’m certainly no Rod Stewart fan, but fans of his and critics alike canned this release as being one of his poorer ones. Why my parents thought to add it to their collection is a mystery only solvable by asking them.

You might want to cover the kiddies eyes before looking at the next one…

My God that is a scary looking cover! This is Culture Club’s debut album “Kissing To Be Clever” with the frightening Boy George depicted on the cover. Though perhaps the only thing as scary as the image of Boy George is the music contained on this vinyl. Every time he cries “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?” I can’t help but think I really do. But to violence against women (and screwed up looking pop stars), Australia says no, so I’d better not. Though from all reports, Boy George is into doing a bit of hurting himself, so perhaps it is justified after all.

So as to not leave you with that scary image, I’ll finish off with these two much more impressive albums.

My parents are both big Chris de Burgh fans, having seen him tour the few times he’s been out to Australia, so I’m almost surprised that there’s only two of his albums there (though I’d say there may be more on either cassette or CD). The first pictured there is “Man On The Line” from 1984, which contained songs like the brilliant “High On Emotion” and the highly underrated “The Ecstasy of Flight (I Love The Night)” among others. The second album shown is “The Very Best of Chris de Burgh”, apparently already his second compilation album, despite being released in 1984 also. It contains all the tracks you’d expect, including both those I mentioned off Man On The Line. These two albums would be the antithesis to the Bert and Patti Family Album.

So that’s a brief insight into the record collection owned by those before me. Of course that’s far from it all – I just picked a handful of the more interesting ones. Most of the rest were compilation albums like “Ripper ’76” or “Rocktrip ’82”, which hid some rare gems as well, but I would have been here for hours analysing each of them if I did.

At some point I’ll get stuck into Part Two of this series, where I look through the 7″ singles collection they have. That’s bound to throw up a few gems and probably a few Bert and Pattis as well. Stay tuned.

 

Queensland Floods

Like everyone, I’ve been absolutely devastated by the floods that have affected most of Queensland over the past few weeks. The sheer volume of water, both in terms of river heights and areas affected, is just mind boggling. With Rockhampton and Central Queensland flooding just before the new year, the Wide Bay region flooding just after, the Fraser Coast not long after that, then inland South East Queensland being smashed by those torrents of water, with the disaster finally culminating in massive flooding of the Brisbane and Ipswich areas earlier this week. Hundreds of kilometres of coastline has been totally devastated by this incredible deluge.

Brisbane itself is a lovely city – located pretty much in a valley, the undulating terrain cosily surrounds the already vast Brisbane River. There are a number of pockets on the river still largely undeveloped, but home to a few absolutely picturesque homes. It is these homes that were first to be flooded when the waters rose a few days ago. Sadly, while the beauty of living in a gorgeous riverside location such as many in Brisbane may be envied most of the time, these houses were simply made victims of their locations.

The Brisvegans were fortunate (believe it or not) in one way that the initial fears of a river peak higher than that of the devastating 1974 floods were never realised. The river peaked in the early hours of yesterday morning at 4.46 metres on the Brisbane City gauge, more than a metre below the levels of 1974, not that anyone was unhappy about that.

Two factors had an impact on the river falling short of those huge levels of 37 years ago, the first being a lucky break with the weather, amazingly enough. The rain had cleared by the morning of the 13th, the day the river was to peak. While there were huge rainfall totals in the days prior, the easing of the weather conditions on Thursday prevented any additional runoff in the river catchment.

The second was a brilliant decision made in the wake of the events of January ’74 – the construction of the Wivenhoe Dam. In 1974, all the runoff from the upstream catchment of the Brisbane River flowed completely unchecked downstream to the city itself, producing the devastating floods they experienced. This time around, the runoff generated could be at least in part controlled through the massive reservoirs of this dam. While some releases were required to protect the integrity of the dam wall, they were controlled to limit as well as possible the floods downstream. Now with the river falling below the minor flood level, the stored floodwater can be gradually released over the course of the next week at a safe rate that will ensure no further flooding. Without Wivenhoe, it is entirely possible that the floods could have and would have been worse than 1974, and far more damaging to property and even life.

Now the attention is turning to the cleanup. Thousands of homes have been inundated, and the receding waters have left behind a trail of destruction. Those with just a thick layer of mud through their homes will consider themselves lucky, there will be many whose houses and belongings have been totally destroyed, or will need to be. It will be months or even years before normality returns to the lives of so many Queenslanders. I wish everyone whose lives have been impacted by this disaster the best of luck in the recovery.

Movember: a follow-up

Well, as promised, I grew a moustache for Movember with the aim of raising some money for the people at BeyondBlue who do a terrific job helping people through depression. And while that was over a month ago now, I did in fact grow my moustache (much to the disgust of those around me) and in the process raised over $100.

I also made one other promise, which I have been dutifully reminded of, and that was that I would provide photographic evidence of the mo. As much as I may believe that to be a very misguided request, I will stand by the promise to fulfil it.

So here goes. May I insert a warning that the following post contains images which some people may find distressing.

These lines are here for the benefit of those who don’t want to see this image. That way it won’t startle them when they open it.

No, seriously, I’d just close the page right now. It’s pretty bad.

OK, well you asked for it:

That image was me at Movember the 26th, about indicative of the horrible growth that plagued my face for that month. The mo was gone just a few days later.

For those who haven’t barfed or defenestrated their computer monitors yet, here’s a picture of me looking slightly less disgusting (yes, only slightly) after the removal of the mo (and a haircut) in December.

I was a happy man that day!

So there, I did it. And probably will never do it again. I hope you survived that traumatic experience.