Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Together at last - a diabolical alliance*

I love pay-TV head Paul Colichman's description of the demographic for his video-on-demand gay satellite channel:

Colichman said more than 30 per cent of his viewers were straight -- a figure he says includes feminists and liberals sick of the way women are portrayed in the mainstream media, and straight men who will watch anything about lesbians.

* I was going to call this strange bedfellows, but it was just too cheesy.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Cruel and unusual punishment

In late breaking news, it seems that interrogators at Guantanamo Bay are using the collected volumes of Harry Potter to force confessions from suspects.

Surely judicious use of Dan Brown would be more efficacious?*

Shock News: Ruddock lacks faith in US military courts

"I am not on the face of it, without being satisfied, prepared to allow the matter to go without further inquiry, and that's where it stands," Mr Ruddock told ABC radio.
"I don't know what the status of any statements made to the investigator is."
"I don't know what weight is put to them. I don't know how they test credibility."
...
But the more substantial issue was whether or not justice had been done, he said. *

Justice might not be done by US military courts? Say it ain't so, Mr Ruddock. I hope (despite the evidence to the contrary) that the Australian Government will take every opportunity to ensure that David Hicks will receive a fair trial.

*Ruddock's comments on the US military court decision which acquitted two Marines of the charge of stabbing a Queensland man.

Friday, June 24, 2005

The pitch

(Interior: Film Production Company. Daylight.)

MOVIE HEAD HONCHO: OK, so if I follow your drift, this young, beautiful Australian girl has been convicted by an Indonesian court of smuggling a large amount of marijuana under hazy circumstances. She's represented by a relatively inexperienced Indonesian lawyer - also young, female, good looking. A young, attractive millionaire businessman acts as her white knight, funding her defence. There's some evidence that maybe it's a conspiracy involving criminal elements and she's the innocent pawn. It's a little bit Broke Down Palace , a little bit Bangkok Hilton, but I like where you're going here. Keep talkin'.

EAGER SCRIPTWRITER: Well, then on appeal, she hires an Indonesian starlet to proclaim her innocence to the Indonesian people ...

MOVIE HEAD HONCHO: Mm-hmmph, a little bit of a distraction from the main plot, but hey, could add some interest.

EAGER SCRIPTWRITER: Her mother and the white knight start a public feud. The mother claims that the white knight is profiteering from his involvement and has demanded repayment of the money. And oh - the white knight proves to be a bankrupt.

MOVIE HEAD HONCHO: (First shade of doubt) Well, now I don't know about that - that's sending some mixed messages!

EAGER SCRIPTWRITER: (Not brooking interruption) And then her Australian defence team accuse her Indonesian defence team of asking the Australian government for $500,000 to bribe the Indonesian court. The Indonesian defence team fights back, claiming that this is a set-up and our girl is a sacrificial lamb in a plot to improve Australian-Indonesian relations.

MOVIE HEAD HONCHO: (Firmly) Well hey now, I've heard enough. Suspension of disbelief is all well and good, but good god, you have to maintain some semblance of reality. And what are you writing here - a drama? A political thriller? Clearly there's no romance. I suggest you go back to scriptwriting 101 and don't come back here til you can give me a plot with credibility. And maybe a decent love interest.

EAGER SCRIPTWRITER: But ... But ...

MOVIE HEAD HONCHO: (roaring) ENOUGH! Get out.

Sometimes, truth is stranger than fiction.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

'The Brad Pitt of Parliament'

John Anderson has stepped down as leader of the Nationals, citing a benign prostrate condition (although a rioting back bench, pressure over the Telstra sale and the sticky question of what to do about the drought can't have helped).

www.news.com.au, always at the forefront of investigative journalism* has come to the rescue with an in-depth piece and a photo-gallery of Anderson's time as deputy. The photo-gallery is actually far funnier than anything I can think of to say about it. Half-political eulogy, half-Hasselhoff-ian in its recording of the many moods of John Anderson, I am still not quite sure whether it's satire or serious. I exhort you all to check it out. But here are some spoilers:

1) It's entitled 'The Brad Pitt of Parliament'

2) The accompanying article has a ringing endorsement from a constituent:

"He's done an all right job ... my family all think he's good and I find him all right."

Churchill could hardly ask for more.

3) I've reproduced my favourite picture below for your delectation.

It's accompanied by the text:

Photogenic ... Never having had his eyes set on the Prime Minister's office, Mr Anderson was free to put himself in some positions other politicians could never dare. / News Limited picture
Can those wags at www.news.com.au possibly be saying what I think they are saying?

*sorry - second, after Ray Martin.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

On mortality

I didn't subscribe to the mass outpouring of grief that accompanied the death of Pope JPII. In fact, I was a little perplexed by the moniker 'the rock'n'roll' Pope' that was posthumously applied to him (rock'n'roll by way of Creed is all I can say).

But I am a little bit sad about the death of Cardinal Sin. Partly because of his activities in standing up against oppressive governments, not at all for his position on birth control, but mostly because with him dies one of the greatest puns ever made by the Catholic church.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Dazed and confusing

Which is worse - to be popularly attributed as the real life inspiration for a famous fictional character, or to have your light shine under a bushel? The question has been posed by new wave of litigation based on popular films.

I can understand Linklater's schoolmates suing him - after all, it must get kinda irritating when people are constantly hailing you as a counter cultural hero instead of recognising your stellar achievements as a used car salesmen, construction worker or IT geek.

But it's a little more difficult to see where Anne Hiltner is going with her claim that she is the real Annie Wilkes. After pondering it for some time, the only plausible explanation I can come up with is that she's planning to open a new rehab centre/ writer's retreat with a bootcamp style mantra (no excuses, no apologies!) and wants to cash in on her fame.

Monday, June 20, 2005

A clean bill of health

So, the man with the dubious distinction of being Australia's longest held detainee, Peter Qasim, may be eligible for release under the new bridging visa subject to 'health and character checks'.

Ms Vanstone suggests that these checks might take a little while (and after all, it's perfectly understandable that the Government would need some extra time to get a handle on those issues after having Mr Qasim in detention for - oh - seven years). It's unclear to what extent the psychiatric trauma experienced by Peter Qasim during his time in detention (he is presently being treated at Glenside psychiatric hospital in South Australia) will be relevant to those health checks.

But hell, at least our borders are safe from 'unauthorised entrants'.*

* remember kids, don't call them refugees! You can get into real strife using emotive language like that. Stick to words like 'queue jumpers' - neutral, factual and descriptive.

Friday, June 17, 2005

The best man for the job

The Victorian Government has established a Human Rights Consultation Committee, to consider whether Victoria should have a Charter of Human Rights, what it should protect, and whether there are other ways human rights can be better protected as part of our democracy.

So far, so worthwhile.

There's a little spiel on the website under 'Who Are the Committee' about the committee members. It's pretty much what you'd expect. Then, we come to the third committee member:

Andrew Gaze

Andrew Gaze is a well known and very popular basketball player. He is the most decorated basketball player in Australia. His achievements include being voted the Greatest National Basketball League player of the last 25 years by his peers; participating in five Olympic Games including selection as the flag bearer and Team Captain of the Sydney 2000 Olympic team and winning the 1999 United States National Basketball Association Championship with the San Antonio Spurs.

Man, I'm glad we have him on our team! With credentials like that, I feel safe from hunger and homelessness already.

a wrong turn down wrong and broken street to wrongville

some random Friday thoughts about things that are just not quite right:

- The methodology used to identify our best and brightest for the purpose of bestowing Australia's highest honour.

- The reasons given by jurors in explaining their verdict on the Jackson trial:

"I disliked it intensely when she snapped her fingers at us. That's when I thought, don't snap your fingers at me lady!"*
- The word ethnic, used as a noun.** This story came from a friend of mine, who worked at quite a nice cafe. One day this lady called up because she'd found a hair in her cake. She said to my friend:

"I'm not quite sure how to say this - but [in a confiding tone] do you have any ethnics working for you?"
- The discrepancy between the actual v dictionary meaning of the word moist. It is difficult to put your finger on why, but moist is one of the dirtiest words in the English language. I have verified this observation with a lot of people, who all agree. Unless you wanted to (a) bring a level of innuendo to a conversation which is otherwise absent or (b) sexually harass people in a subtle way, there is no way you'd ever say, for example "Gee - it's shaping up to be a moist weekend".

* Thanks to Jo from Freeway 9, who pointed out that this seemed like kind of an odd reason to acquit.
** Generally speaking, ethnic seems to be used in a vaguely pejorative way (think: ethnic tensions). But the adjectival form tends to be slightly less offensive.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

How to run a detention centre, part II

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Imagine the possibilities!

No-smoking aids and prosthetic toupees are all very well. But when will Warnie cut to the chase and endorse a mobile plan*? Imagine the synergy!

* NB: I understand Warnie has actually given up the mobile, so he might need to consider extolling the virtues of a paging service instead ...

Friday, June 10, 2005

A word of warning to all would be Jedis

In his mea culpa on Letterman, Russell Crowe said:

"Obviously when I react to something it has a greater effect, apparently, 'cos it's the Gladiator, getting pissed off."

On that line of reasoning, you really wouldn't want to pick a fight with James Earl Jones.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Guantanamo Bay: A haven for refugees

Finally, an article that tells it like it really is in Guantanamo Bay.

Two months ago, the Pentagon pledged to free 15 men who have been cleared of being 'enemy combatants'. They're still there, purportedly because the United States is concerned about the treatment they may receive in their home countries. The Pentagon won't provide the nationalities or names of the 15 men, or identify a specific country where torture is a concern.

But don't worry - these guys are having a fine old time. Pentagon spokesman, Air Force Major Michael Shavers, reassures us that the 15 men have been segregated from the general inmate population and placed in a lower-security area that:
"allows them a communal style of living with shared
living and dining areas, and unlimited recreation time"
Do you reckon they take holiday bookings?


Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Rubbery figures

Rules for getting ahead in the public service:

It's OK to impound mentally ill people as illegal immigrants when you suspect they might be Australian citizens (along with political refugees).

It's OK to deport Australian nationals.

But for heaven's sake, don't fiddle with the footy tipping - that might breach the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct and its edicts about upholding the values, integrity and good reputation of the public service.

Advance Australia Fair!

Friday, June 03, 2005

Inside Dennis Rodman's head

Imagine you are inside Dennis Rodman's head.

Maybe you miss the press you got in your glory days with Carmen Electra.

So, you decide to attach yourself to some high profile publicity stunt which will hopefully get you some positive press at the same time (well - why not?) making the world a better place.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking.

But you're wrong.

It's 'she ain't heavy, she's my fake girlfriend' for Rodman.

Sheer genius.

The truth is out

Just as I've always suspected - Nicole is paying people to have her in their movies.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Follow the money

For the record, I think Felt is a pretty cool guy.

And I don't think it matters whether he acted out of thwarted ambition or civic duty.

But I really hope that the 91 year old, whose memory is described as fading, chose to come forward because of pride, and not out of pressure:

Felt had expressed reservations in the past about revealing his
identity, and about whether his actions were appropriate for an FBI man, his grandson said. According to the article, Felt once told his son, Mark Jr., that he did not believe being Deep Throat "was anything to be proud of. ... You (should) not leak information to anyone.''


His family members thought otherwise, and persuaded him to talk
about his role in the Watergate scandal, saying he deserves to receive accolades before his death. His daughter, Joan, argued that he could "make enough money to pay some bills, like the debt I've run up for the children's education''.


Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Fashion editors note: you too can fight crime

It's good to see that our approach to preventing crimes against women has started to re-focus on the issue of appropriate attire. Whether it's skirt lengths or the thickness of your jumpers, it seems that proactive wardrobe intervention really is the answer to every crime wave.