Archive for the ‘history’ Category

Feral, right-wing arseclowns and Mandela

In history, politics on December 7, 2013 at 11:43 am


There’s utterly nothing I can say about Nelson Mandela that will add anything new. So I’ll offer just simple respect and gratitude for his life and legacy.

I wish some of our righteous, feral, right-wing arseclowns would similarly shut up. Jokes like Alan Jones, who famously called Mandela a terrorist, but yesterday was clambering up the piles of commentators, anxious to stick his flag of hypocrisy up the top.

Tiny, tiny men like Tony Abbott, refusing to lower the Australian flag until the day Mandela is buried. I’ll lay dollars to doughnuts this has nothing to do with protocol and everything to do with him saying “nah don’t bother” yesterday and then realising he was the only leader in the world not to do so.

There is nothing more uncomfortable than a Tory caught behind the lines of public opinion, squirming to make him or herself fit in with the majority.

Evil souls like Margaret Thatcher, who was quite happy to have mass murderers like Augustin Pinochet to tea, but could barely stand to shake Mandela’s hand when the sway of public opinion finally forced her to.

You can’t tell me the world wouldn’t be a better place with a few more Mandela’s and a few less John Boehners, dick Cheneys and Tony Abbotts.

Rest in peace, Madiba. You’ve earned it.

Parkland is a cracking film

In films, history on November 30, 2013 at 3:08 pm


Lots of big names, none of them taking the film over … Paul Giamatti, Zac Effron, Billy Bob Thornton, Marcia Gay Harden, our own Jacki Weaver, and a pack of fairly nameless others who do equally terrific jobs.

It’s been a long few weeks for Kennedy-philes such as myself. And I was just about ready to stop watching the same old facts interspersed with the same old conspiracy theories. But Parkland is neither a documentary, nor an apologist for any one theory.

It’s a chronology of sorts, from the moment of the assassination until November 25 when JFK, and Lee Harvey Oswald, were buried.

The first part is a gruesome and fairly harrowing affair, set as it is in the emergency room at Parkland Hospital as people try to, if not save JFK (he was pretty much dead the moment that bullet exploded his head) then do everything in their power to bring him back. Marcia Gay Harden and Zac Effron excel here.

Oswald’s capture, getting JFK’s body to Airforce One, getting the coffin on the plane, the FBI teams, the Secret Service team trying to get Zapruder’s film developed, Oswald’s mother (Weaver) and brother Robert, Jackie Kennedy, Oswald’s murder …

All is focused on the emotional reactions, the shock, grief, anger and guilt. There is no politics, no sleight of hand, no conspiracy. Just guts and great acting.

Tom Hanks and Bill Paxton were co-producers, no it’s no surprise there’s quality at every level.

Cracking film.

Don’t mention ze var

In fail, great photos, history on June 29, 2013 at 8:01 am


Gutted, frankly

In fail, history, media, politics on June 26, 2013 at 11:11 pm


Kevin Rudd is a feckless son of a bitch. He can spend three years white-anting and poisoning and plotting and scheming and throwing others under the bus. And as I sit here he’s giving his first speech as Rudd Redux and actually has the temerity to talk ethics and honour and purity of purpose.

He stands there praising Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan, two people he has made it his singleminded focus to bring down via leaks, and toxicity and slander and second-hand skullduggery, and he does it without even a blink or a wink or a cheeky half-knowing grin.

I’ve disagreed with Julia Gillard on some things. I’m vehemently opposed to her immigration policy. I believe her anti-gay marriage stance is a cynical position taken to keep the conservatives and the Christian lobby onside. I don’t for one moment believe it’s her actual stance.

But I voted for Bob Hawke’s ALP when he backflipped on uranium mining and screwed me over with tertiary fees. I voted for Keato’s ALP even though he was a slimy bugger. I voted for Kim Beazley’s ALP for fuck’s sake. I voted for Rudd’s ALP the first time around because the man knows how to campaign and he said all the right things.

And I voted for Julia Gillard’s ALP in 2010 despite a deep feeling that the she had come to the job the wrong way.

And now they’re asking for me to vote for Rudd’s ALP again.

An ALP gutted of its some of its best and brightest. Swan, Combet, Conroy, Emerson, and, of course, Gillard herself. All because they cannot stomach working for Rudd again. Augurs well, doesn’t it.

(You’ll notice I don’t care much what Peter Garrett does. The man’s a windsock who could have been leader of the Greens right now, with an enormously important job to do, soul intact, if he’d just had the spine to resist the lure of the Big Party.)

I don’t think I can do it, comrades. I don’t think I can.

I’m glad Albo is staying on. I’m glad Swanny will fight in September. I want to know what Plibersek, Macklin, Smith and Tony Bourke are doing. I want to know what their thoughts are and how comfortable they are.

I’m delighted Penny Wong is now leader of the Senate, though it was disconcerting to see her marching in lock-step behind Rudd this evening post-Caucus. Ultimately, she is wasted in the Senate, but I hope she has a place on the front bench.

Kevin Rudd blubbed like a sook when he got knifed. Julia Gillard was solid and strong and remarkably good-humoured and composed. I think that says everything about the two personalities, and the two motivations at work with these people.

I would have taken Julia’s strength and negotiating skills and Parliamentary performance any day over Rudd’s smarm and pseudo-trendy teenager speak. Zip off, indeed.

I don’t particularly want to vote Green. Not in the House of Reps at least. Senate, sure.

But right now I feel like my ALP is a sham. A hollowed out sham, allowing the whims of a bored media pack and the egos of its leading lights to dictate terms in a soap opera, not a government.

As for Julia Gillard, she has my admiration, and my deepest sympathy. She’s been cool, strong, gracious, smart, determined and FUCKING SUCCESSFUL.

She deserved better. So did we.

By golly, there’s some crap talked about ANZAC Day

In history, oxygen thieves on April 25, 2013 at 10:22 pm

It has to be said that ANZAC Day is one of my favourite Australian holidays. It used to be one that I hated.

When I was a teenager (read: ignorant and arrogant) I loathed the whole concept, because I thought it was glorifying war. My silly adolescent brain had not yet grasped the concept of being able to respect, honour, admire and thank the servicemen and women without thinking that war was a good idea.

I can’t be sure when that changed for me — when it suddenly occurred that not one person marching or applauding or wearing their grandad’s medals actually thinks war is a good idea.

The only people who think wars are a good idea are the ones making money from it … the arms dealers, and a certain kind of politician who makes money from arms dealing. Dick Cheney, i’m looking at you.

There was a lot of shit talked on Twitter today about ANZAC Day. A lot of shit talked by a few so-called intellectuals, feminists, small-l liberals who think they have a superior take on the concept.

I won’t name them. You’d only have to look through my twitter feed to see who i called an arseclown today. There’ll be a few — there usually are — but you’ll figure it out if you’re that interested.

The point is, these ‘smart’ people seem to have an adolescent-like blockage when it comes to ANZAC Day. Apparently it’s a celebration of killing and rape and the suppression of women.

Arguing with this particular band of ‘intellectuals’ is a pointless waste of time. One or two of them respond very badly to being disagreed with. They usually resort to meanness and belittling, and eventually, personal abuse.

As someone said in response to a particularly offensive piece of ‘intellectual’ anti-ANZAC arseclownery: “My grandfather fought for your right to say whatever bullshit you like, and my right to tell you you’re a fucking moron. Win/win.”

Can’t say it better than that.

I hope your ANZAC Day was the peace-filled, thankful, respectful day you wanted it to be. Mine certainly was.

Thanks for your service, all you past, present and future Australian soldiers, sailors and airmen and women.

ALP: Not a shadow of the pimple on the arse of its former self

In history, politics, television on April 21, 2013 at 1:29 pm

I bought myself a copy of Labor in Power the other day and started it watching it this week.

For those of you who don’t remember, Labor in Power is a documentary series made about the Hawke/Keating governments. It was first telecast in 1993 so at 20 years old, it’s a remarkable record, not just of those years, but also of the personalities and talents that were around 20, 30, 40 years ago.

Apart from Hawke and Keating — both charismatic, smart, and in many ways, deeply principled politicians — it’s been a revelation to revisit some of the people who were doing the job of government in the Labor world back then.

Lionel Bowen, Susan Ryan, Gareth Evans, John Button, Graham Richardson, Kim Beazley … these people had substance and some intellectual weight. They knew how to campaign, they knew how to follow through on real reform, they knew how to get shit done without relying daily on bullshit focus groups and pollsters.

These people answered questions without finding the first opportunity to go back to the message of the week. They actually answered policy questions.

Imagine that.

When I look at today’s ALP, are there any I would keep in an Allstar ALP government? Yes.

Penny Wong, Julia Gillard, Tanya Plibersek and maybe, just maybe, Stephen Smith. He’s yet to really convince me. And Albo, maybe.

The rest, I’m sorry, but they don’t have the talent God gave a turnip.

Doomed. Utterly doomed.

I wish I was Nate Silver and other post-election reflections

In cartoons, history, media, politics on November 9, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Nate Silver, numbers man extraordinaire, is about to make a motza. If he hasn’t already. Predicting 50 out of 50 states is one better than he did in 2008 and a phenomenal job of accurate mathematics and unbiased fact-seeking.

I think the scariest thing in the lead-up to the US election for me was the incredible closeness the mainstream media kept predicting. I fell for it, I admit it. I let the MSM convince me that there actually were enough stupid, prejudiced, bigoted, outright crazy Americans voting for Mitt Romney to actually make the result doubtful.

I should have listened to Nate.

In the words of Rachel Maddow, Wednesday’s result was an out and out shellacking of Republican interests.

I’ve always said that opposition to President Obama was all about his skin colour. Clearly, the fact that a black man was sitting in the White House drove the far-right edges of American society absolutely bat-shit crazy. But they knew they couldn’t outright say that, so they came up with the Kenyan/Muslim/communist alternatives that they could at least say out loud on the radio.

One of the most irritating thing for me during the campaign was Mitt Romney’s total lack of respect for the President. He might as well have inserted the words ‘uppity nigger’ into every second sentence of his stump speech, because just his tone when talking about the highest office in the land made it clear that’s what he meant.

Everything about the hatred of President Obama on the right is about race. It’s that simple.

If it wasn’t then there’s no way any sane person could see Obamacare, for example, as anything but a compromise position that was biased more to Republican arguments than Democrat.

Socialised medicine, my arse.

I am very thankful that President Obama gets another term. Romney would have been the death of reproductive rights, gay rights, universal healthcare, an equitable taxation system, improved education, banking reform and economic recovery.

Unless, of course, Mr Romney was planning on taking one route to get himself elected and then swinging back to a moderate Republican position once he was President.

Didn’t work Mitt. You’re now a footnote at the bottom of history’s page. A bit like John McCain, only less cranky. And a lot richer.

How good is the X Up series?

In evolution, history, television on October 24, 2012 at 10:34 pm

I have been watching this series of documentaries all my life.

7 Up came out in 1964, the year I was born. 56 Up will show for the first time next Tuesday night on SBS 2.

SBS is showing all the documentaries on consecutive nights leading up to Tuesday and it’s as bloody fascinating as ever.

Neil breaks my heart every time — more so now because we have some inkling of how his life turned out. Watching him at 14 tonight is so poignant. An amazingly sharp mind already showing the beginnings of disarray …

He and the little bloke who wants to be a jockey or a taxi driver – the ultimate East End wide boy — are probably my favourites. But the originators of the series did a fantastic job selecting 14 kids across the spectrum of society.

Brilliant television. Brilliant experiment.


In films, great photos, history on August 3, 2012 at 11:12 am

Kiwis … tch … soft

In great photos, history, weather on July 27, 2012 at 10:18 am

Miss Universe Pageant 1954- Miss New Zealand passed out from the heat

Impeccable Sauce.


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