Archive | SMH

Sydney Morning Herald, print and online

If Trump can be president, why shouldn’t Tom Hanks be next?

Whether you consider yourself one of “Trump’s Aussie Mates” like Mark Latham, or view the President-elect as one of the Four Businessmen of the Apocalypse, one thing cannot be denied about Donald J. Trump. Of all the candidates who ran in the US election, he was undoubtedly the most entertaining.

Hillary Clinton was predictable, safe and samey, a policy wonk who probably spends her holidays devouring briefing papers by the pool. Whereas Donald Trump spent his career slapping his name on gaudy buildings, and firing people on television. If the voters had been looking for traditional qualifications like experience, it would have been as easy as choosing between Trump University and Harvard.

Continue Reading →

2016 might be ending, but we can expect worse in 2017

David Bowie. Alan Rickman. Prince. Muhammad Ali. Leonard Cohen. Sharon Jones. George Michael. Carrie Fisher. The list of the icons that we’ve lost this year reads like a morbid update of We Didn’t Start the Fire.

At times, the deaths have come so rapidly that we haven’t had time to process one before being slugged by another. In January, David Bowie, Alan Rickman and Glenn Frey within eight days. And just since Christmas, George Michael, Carrie Fisher, and then her mother Debbie Reynolds.

Continue Reading →

I’m over Pokémon Go… what’s next?

On Sunday night, I found the best Pokémon I’ve ever seen. Right in the middle of Hyde Park, inappropriately close to the Pool of Reflection, I discovered a Golduck worth a whopping 917 combat points – more than anything in my Pokédex.

If you’re one of the rapidly dwindling number who isn’t playing Pokémon Go, that’s like coming across a $100 note, if the $100 wasn’t worth anything except in some stupid game.

But I was excited. With this spiky-headed blue creature in my Pokéarsenal, I could win my first Pokégym battle and capture the nearby obelisk for Team Red. Continue Reading →

Sydney shouldn’t shut down just because it’s cold

Sydneysiders used to hibernate in cold weather. After months of beach dips, backyard barbecues and outdoor festivals, we’d shut ourselves away from May to August, only leaving the house if paid to do so.

In winter we shivered under our doonas and hugged hot water bottles because as a matter of pride, we refused to build our houses with central heating. I mean, we aren’t Melbourne.

It’s a vibrant time of the year for Sydneysiders, when the glow from the 23-day festival takes over the city.

Our winter social calendars were emptier than a screening of Zoolander 2. It was unthinkable to attend weddings, parties, or anything beyond a pub with a roaring fireplace and the footy on a big screen. Continue Reading →

LinkedIn is the worst

Even LinkedIn’s slogan, “Connect to opportunity”, is nauseating. But it’s now worth so much that if everybody in Australia tipped in $1000, we’d still be $10 billion short.

If you haven’t used LinkedIn, imagine Facebook if every user had their boss looking over their shoulder the entire time, so that instead of sharing amusing distractions, they instead raved about their passion for generating shareholder value.

LinkedIn is like a school reunion with only the people you didn’t want to keep in touch with, boasting about their career accomplishments to try and make you feel inferior. It reads like the fake employee testimonials in a recruiting brochure. Continue Reading →

Court throws Manus overboard, so what’s next?

As someone who was briefly detained after the botched execution of a Chaser prank, I’m a fan of the rule that people shouldn’t be locked up without a good reason. This notion, which goes back to the Roman principle of habeas corpus, is the crux of the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court’s recent decision overturning the detention of asylum-seekers on Manus Island.

Reading section 42 of the PNG constitution, I wonder why we ever thought it would permit the detention of people who have committed no crime. It prevents detention except under specific circumstances – although it’s unclear whether that covers pranks involving public nudity.

Shouldn’t arbitrary detention bother Australians, too? We often throw up our hands when an Aussie’s locked up overseas even after being convicted, but we’re fine with locking up non-Australians who’ve dared to seek asylum. Which is not only no crime, but protected by a treaty to which we’re a signatory. Continue Reading →

How would Australia deal with President Trump?

Somewhere in Canberra, in a bunker that requires a retina scan for entry and is swept hourly for bugs, experts from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Australian Defence Force and the Advanced Hair Studio are undoubtedly war-gaming a scenario that was once unthinkable, but is now looking increasingly likely: President Trump.

Once best known for fake-sacking fake employees and writing his name on garish buildings, the billionaire’s candidacy has gone from enacting a joke from The Simpsons to becoming the Republican frontrunner, while remaining no less amusing. Continue Reading →

Is it too hard to be prime minister in 2016?

In the future, Andy Warhol said, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes. In Australia’s future, everyone will be prime minister for 15 minutes, before being brutally rolled.

We’ve had five prime minsters since John Howard powerwalked away after 11 years, and not one has served a full term. Our political system’s become as volatile as Kanye West on Twitter.

Voters are realising they rejected Labor’s musical chairs only to sign up for the Coalition version. Polls recently hit fifty-fifty and the PM is running against both the Opposition leader and his predecessor, who’s been dubbed “Tony Rudd“. Continue Reading →

Sydney is too expensive for young people to take a risk on a good idea

The world is full of bright young people building spiffy websites and nifty apps. They’re skipping the stability of traditional employment to code in cafes and co-working spaces. But they’re probably not doing it in Sydney.

World Economic Forum research found that young Australians were poorly prepared for the digital economy, and faced intense labour market uncertainty. Fewer young people want to work for a start-up than in any other country surveyed – a mere 3.8 per cent.

Who can blame them for choosing a nice, safe bank job in expensive, uncertain Sydney? Starting a business can mean years of earning almost nothing, and just surviving in this city is fiendishly expensive, let alone funding a house big enough for kids. Continue Reading →

You can’t have edgy comedy without occasionally going over the edge

Ricky Gervais returned as host of the Golden Globes this week, and as sure as night follows day and regret follows the purchase of a hoverboard, his routine sparked off yet another chorus of controversy.

The comic himself predicted it, tweeting “Better get dressed and offend some humourless c—s, I suppose” before the ceremony even began. Whether or not you agree with his characterisation of the many people who took exception, Gervais certainly achieved his objective from the first moment he took to the stage, nursing a beer as a palpable symbol of his disdain for the audience and the gig.

The indifference was an affectation, of course, because if there’s one thing that matters to Gervais even more than his forthcoming David Brent movie, it’s his reputation as a stand-up comic.

Continue Reading →