Popular Culture

Post #41 – Welcome to the ‘Surveillance Society’

“At some point we have to draw a line”, proclaimed Australian federal MP Scott Ludlam – referring specifically to controversial changes to data retention laws put before the Australian parliament for debate. A few months later (despite all his Youtubing, tweets, Facebook jibes and rousing proclamations in the Senate) the changes he (and many Australians) opposed passed through both houses of Parliament and became law. Maybe, just maybe, Ludlam is fighting the wrong battle here.

Maybe we should be asking ourselves if we ever had any privacy to begin with – maybe, just maybe, we started being a surveillance society a while ago. ‘Why bother [fighting it]?’ was the question posed by Richard Thomas, the UK government’s Information Commissioner who believes the surveillance society is already ‘a reality’… and that was back in 2006.

So on the one hand, Ludlum is saying we risk becoming a ‘surveillance society’, but experts are adamant we’re already there. What gives?

And even if we are already a so-called ‘surveillance society’ – where the government and big business can check our every move – is it really that big a deal?
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Post #28 – Hate the ‘Gay Agenda’? There’s A High Likelihood You Might Be Gay Yourself!

So that conservative morals campaigner that we love to hate, Fred Nile, was on a special edition of Q&A last night talking about the changing Australian attitudes towards sexuality and gender. As this old, senile, uptight man in his 80’s further railed against the so-called negative effects of ‘promoting’ homosexuality in schools, I honestly thought to myself… could this man be gay? Yeah, yeah… he totally could be!

In other words, instead of sitting on a panel show on live TV being grilled by gays, would he rather just give up the charade and pash the bloke next to him? Would he like to one day ditch politics (to be honest he’s running out of time to do this) and settle down with a burly man named Bruce in Newtown? Possibly get a pug dog, open up a hairdressers on Enmore Rd and rave in any of the gay haunts in the Inner West high on poppers, heady with love and covered in glitter?

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Post #21 – War (and ANZAC Day) is a Racket

With ANZAC Day this Saturday, I thought I would try and honour those who died for this country by not saying anything at all. Lord knows there’s more than enough media coverage surrounding the 100th anniversary of that fateful landing of our troops in Gallipoli to test the endurance of the most seasoned media consumer and ANZAC aficionado. But something about the whole thing has bugged me this year, more than it has other years. I’ve always felt a bit uncomfortable playing two-up (contemporarily called ‘three-up’ now, for a quicker, more entertaining game!) whilst sinking copious amounts of piss to commemorate the dead. I would usually bite my tongue when people would describe how they would be ‘celebrating‘ (what the fuck are you celebrating, exactly?) ANZAC Day, or further bite my tongue when they would casually relate the day to some faux-patriotic/nationalistic sentiment (thereby completely missing the whole point of the commemoration).

But this year, with the commemorative spirit notched up to fever pitch, it struck me. (more…)

Post #14 – They’re Called Penalty Rates For A Reason

My girlfriends’ parents recently traveled out from England to meet us and have a holiday in ‘sunny’ Oz – instead it pissed down rain the whole time they were here. But on the last day of their trip Down Under, the Lord turned the thermostat up, parted the clouds and put on a typical sultry summers’ evening. So for their last supper we went out for dinner, to a restaurant in Darling Harbour called Cyren Bar Grill Seafood. The food was decent enough and the service was fine – with some of the best views of Sydney’s shimmering skyline you can get. A sour taste was awaiting us though; for when the bill came my girlfriends’ father noticed something foreign on the bill – a ‘Sunday surcharge’.

It’s something I personally don’t remember seeing listed on the menu, nor anywhere in the restaurant – and it definitely was not something that we were informed about by the staff. We’re not talking about small change here either – it equated to over $20 for the four of us. I didn’t ask for specifics on the charge (as it was not the time nor the place) but it’s something I’d never personally seen on a bill before, and I was taken aback. I proudly told him that it was because we pay decent penalty rates to our workers on the weekend (compared to similar industrialised nations), but I personally felt embarrassed about the incident and uttered to him in my puzzled state that it was just something that we do, and that it was standard practice. But was it? Why had I not experienced this before, and why were we not informed before ordering? Do I simply just go to the wrong (or right) restaurants? In light of the current talk about changes to penalty rates and industrial relations in general I thought this was an area that really needs picking apart. So here’s what a bit of digging has found me…

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Post #12 – My Beer Dilemma: The Struggle Is Real

The other day I came back to work with a nice tan, a subtle spring in my step and a relaxed physique. I hadn’t been into work for over a week and so naturally the question my colleagues asked of me was ‘Where had you gone?’. I let them try and guess – ‘Vanuatu?’, ‘Fiji?’, ‘Bali’ – nope, closer to home. ‘Byron Bay, the Gold Coast?’ – Wrong Again. Try Canberra. They collectively screwed up their faces and said in unison, ‘What the fuck is in Canberra?’

A fair lot, to be honest, but that isn’t the reason for this post. The reason for this post is something far more important than the ease of navigating Canberra’s overly large roundabouts – it is about beer. That bitter, bubbly nectar that brings me so much joy (and hangovers in equal amount). Across the road from the apartment we were staying in Canberra was a 1st Choice Liquor store. My girlfriend’s father, being the decent man that he is, went out and bought me a 6-pack of boutique pale-ale beer for the evening. I’d been trying to convince him that Fosters was actually Australia’s joke on the world, and that we don’t drink it – mainly because we have so many other better beers over here. He came back with a six-pack of SteamRail Craft Beer – The Ghost of Eyre Pale Ale, for me to have with dinner that evening. It was quite a title for a beer and I’d never seen it before, but being from hipster Newtown it fitted the caricature of a local craft beer. Quirky labeling, flowery descriptives, funky colours, and the obligatory suave artwork (in this particular case it had two burly men with trendy beards/moustaches, tattoo’s and a Colonial themed type font) were all found on this epitomization of a craft boutique beer. With a title like The Ghost of Eyre Pale Ale I confess I briefly dreamt it may have been created by a small brewery on the Eyre Peninsula, brewed in the basking heat of the Australian desert and chilled beneath ground in a rock-chiselled cellar in Coober Pedy. But alas, further research showed this to be pretty far from the mark. Despite it’s website stating that SteamRail is ‘Craft Beer’, it’s actually a beer mass produced by Coles. Well this finding flies in the face of what a craft beer is. According to the Australian Craft Beer Industry Association, craft beer is independent, traditional and 100% Australian owned, with no ownership or control by a major brewer.

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Post #7 – Do Something For Your Country – Kill A Taylor Swift Fan

John F Kennedy once said,

Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.

I come to you with this same pertinent request, at a time when Australia needs you most. Your country needs you to murder a Taylor Swift fan, and if you’re feeling extra patriotic, kill a couple more. The reason for this call to arms is this – Taylor Swift fans are attempting to hijack Australia Day and ruin the Triple J Hottest 100. To my international readers, Australia Day is the day Australia was ‘discovered’ and marks the British making landfall in 1788 on January 26th in what is now referred to as… Sydney. Let me put this out there first though, I’m not the biggest fan of Australia Day being on this particular day. Why is that, you ask? Well I tend not be an imperialist, racist, ignorant arsehole and I feel a bit queasy about getting all celebratory marking the day we commenced genocide against a whole continent of people (but this is a rant for another post on another day). However, there is one aspect of Australia Day that I – and I know many millions of other Australians, both here and abroad – really enjoy. This is the Triple J Hottest 100. Just to provide some context for my foreign brethren who haven’t been Down Under before, Triple J is a publicly-funded radio station whose target audience is 15-somethings’ to 30-somethings. Because it is owned by each and every Australian (via our taxes) it contains no adverts, no sponsors and no commercial slant. As they say it best on their own website,

While we’re on [the]  subject of commercials, you should know that triple j is completely AD-FREE. We ain’t pimpin’ no-one’s shit (unless it’s our own), no matter what the price.

Because it falls under the umbrella of the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation – similar to the BBC) the station attempts to play a lot of Aussie content. Furthermore (more…)

My Initial Thoughts: The Inner Machinations of a Newbie

So I’m going to start writing a blog due to peer pressure. The masses, the people, yearn to scroll over the handiwork of my salad fingers and brain combining to bash out sweet political poetry on my keyboard.

Actually I lie, only two individuals have recommended I blog my thoughts, and I’m certain one of those individuals said it in jest. The other was my dog, and the canine has a habit of feeding me furphies after a session of extreme frisbee in the backyard. Despite this, I’ll soldier on in the hope that somebody surfing the deep extremities of the interweb stumbles across my blog and decides to read (and possibly comment!) on whatever I’ve decided to ramble on about. In fact, I’d appreciate it if you did comment, because at least I’d know I wasn’t exclusively writing this for my own amusement.

‘But what are you going to write about?’, I hear you say.
‘Why should I pay attention to you?’ and ‘Why are you on my computer screen… is this a virus of some sort?’

Well, despite my ability to blather on, this is no virus. I’m honestly as pissed off as Peter Finch on crack and I’m simply “not gonna take it anymore!”. So I’m going to do what any good revolutionary does and fill up a bowl with chicken-flavoured Smith’s, re-adjust my seat and the Venetian blinds to ‘creep mode’ and take my rightful position in front of the PC to truly become a fully-fledged ‘keyboard warrior’.

You might think it’s petty to whinge about the calamities I face, my community faces, my country faces, the WORLD faces – all the while sitting in front of a digital screen in the comforts of my white, male, middle-class privilege. I would tend to agree with you – however considering the forces that be in the world, every little bit counts – including me writing a blog.

‘But who are you?’ I hear you ask, and ‘Why should I give a damn what you have to say?’. These are two valid questions, and I can only answer the first one with some gusto (and certainty). I don’t want to let on too much about my character, lest it weaken the narrative of any further developments on my blog (also, just read the ‘About’ section on this site… cereally, that ezzy) and nor do I want to bore you. I do not confess to be, as Tony Abbott so eloquently puts it, the ‘suppository of all wisdom’, but I feel I’ve been around the block enough to at least have a rough idea what I’m talking about. To quote the character Finch once again,  ‘I’m a human being, god-dammit! My life has value!’… and that is why, to sum up, I will blog. I have something to say, I might as well say it.  Furthermore, I’m currently completing a Bachelors in Political, Economic and Social Science at the University of Sydney, and this blog could well be a place to vent and internalize all I am presented with (or possibly just another place for me to bitch about how much I hate The Voice) and put forth ideas for change. So I hope you follow me on this journey, I hope you enjoy what I have to say, and I honestly look forward to your input. Agree, disagree, sign up to my blog, sit on a fence or just comment to inform me that your cats’ name is Mittens. It’s all good!