Archive | SMH blog 2006-8

I had a newsy blog on the Sydney Morning Herald website between 2006 and 2008.

Union or no union, our campuses need more cash

Kevin Rudd has been busily undoing the worst excesses of the Howard government in its Senate majority or “megalomania” phase, but has generally shied away from simply replacing what was there before Howard. Even with the abolition of WorkChoices, unions haven’t been given carte blanche to wreak revenge on employers. Rudd is more of a centrist than that, and we’re seeing this with the proposals that were reported yesterday to repair the damage voluntary student unionism did to our universities. Continue Reading →

The Olympic Games Opening Ceremony did not take place

I’m fascinated by the report that said that part of the footage of the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony was faked, and since it was top story on this website yesterday, I’m evidently not the only one. The organisers went to great lengths to show us what the giant footstep-shaped fireworks would have looked like, had it been possible to film them. The 55 seconds of footage apparently took the head of the visual effects team, Gao Xiaolong, almost a year of his life to create, and sadly for him, the ultimate result is that everyone’s now shocked that some of the footage of a supposedly live event was in fact completely artificial. Continue Reading →

Goodbye, Starbucks. Hello, coffee.

I’m sorry that 685 employees – sorry, “partners”, to adopt the fiction in the official term which implies that they have a generous financial interest in the company – of Starbucks Coffee are going to lose their jobs. But I’m not at all sorry to hear that 61 of our nation’s 84 Starbucks branches are going to close. My only regret, in fact, is that the company hasn’t decided to close all 84. If the nation’s espresso aficionados are lucky, the branches will be replaced with cafes that sell something a little different from what’s on offer at Starbucks – a beverage we like to call “coffee”.

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These anti-annoyance laws are Papal bull

What on earth has happened in this state? Not much that’s good since Bob Carr flicked Morris Iemma that hospital pass (literally, since our hospitals imploded shortly afterwards) and shuffled off to retirement. But though their incompetence is increasingly clear, I didn’t think our State Government was hideously authoritarian. Things got a little hairy during APEC, sure, but after the wheels of justice finally did their thing, even my colleagues at The Chaser eventually got away with it. But suddenly, simply because the head of a religion that most of us don’t recognise happens to be in town, the Government has quietly, without so much as a decent debate in Parliament, pushed though laws so draconian that Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen might have blushed, if his cheeks hadn’t already been coloured that permanent shade of pink. Continue Reading →

Never mind the breathing, it’s the Olympics

I can’t quite believe what I read today, so let me take a deep breath and try this on for size. Australian track and field athletes are apparently planning to skip the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games. Now, boycotts of Beijing 2008 have been suggested by many activists, and some politicians have decided not to attend to make a statement. But our boycott is because of … wait for it … smog. That’s right. Smog. Continue Reading →

It’s always good to subtract maths

A national alarm resounded across our great land this week. Our Deputy PM and Minister Pretty Much Everything, Julia Gillard, hit the airwaves to talk about a crisis which could threaten Australia’s very future. Not interest rates, for a change, but the rate of interest in maths. Our fair nation isn’t producing enough highly trained mathematicians, apparently, and as a result, important numbers are apparently remaining uncrunched. The crisis is so bad that I couldn’t even find reliable stats on the rate of participation in advanced maths. So Ms Gillard is springing into action, announcing plans to push kids into the dark numerical arts by means of reducing HECS payments for maths students and issuing free pocket protectors for all. Continue Reading →

Save Our Cahill Expressway

Clover Moore is a woman of enormous vision. Sure, that vision may occasionally verge on the twee, such as when she dubbed Sydney a “City of Villages”. Sydneysiders would rather think of themselves as a city among villages, such as, Melbourne and Brisbane. And, her advocacy of sensible drinking laws was a triumph. But now, following in the Gucci loafer-steps of Paul Keating, she’s targeted our city’s most magnificent artery, the Cahill Expressway. And, even if I need to chain myself to its drab concrete exterior to prevent it, I say that this latest scheme of our Lord Mayor shall not be borne. Continue Reading →