SMH blog 2006-8

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

Time we had some primaries of our own

As Peter Hartcher wrote in today’s Herald, the US primaries are wonderfully entertaining. I had friends round to watch Super Tuesday, and we sat on the couch eating Cheetos. We treated it like it was a blockbuster helmed by a particularly uncharismatic star in the bumbling form of CNN’s Wolf Blitzer – never before has such a dull man had such an inappropriately exciting name. The bad guy was vanquished (Romney), and the good guys triumphed (anyone but Romney). And the spectacle made me wonder whether Australians would benefit from some primary pageantry of our own.

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When it comes to Britney, gimme less

Much like her music, Britney Spears’ life seems to be going from bad to worse. Just about every day, the media breathlessly reports yet another step towards rock bottom. Her career’s in enormous trouble, her laughing-stock marriage is in tatters, she’s lost custody of her children, and now she’s incarcerated in a mental institution. Every day, it seems she climbs further down that ladder, and at this point, there are precious few rungs left.

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It’s time whaling became extinct

I am a huge fan of Japan, and have travelled there many times. I eat sashimi, I watch sumo, and I’m regularly mocked by my friends for pronouncing “karaoke” correctly. But there is one element of Japanese culture that leaves a sour taste in my mouth, and that’s whaling. I have to admit, I’ve never tried whale meat – sorry, I mean, never conducted valuable primary whale research – so I don’t know what I’m missing. But then again, I’ve never eaten human either, for similar moral reasons.

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We’re gonna fight for Corey’s right to party

When it comes to news, it’s still very much the silly season. Which means that many stories are getting more coverage than they really deserve. And there’s no better example of that than the hilarious tale of Corey Delaney, the kid whose party was publicised on MySpace, and got hundreds of gatecrashers, including dozens of police and a helicopter. In a taxi yesterday, I endured some talkback host whingeing about the kid’s “uncontrollable” antics for a solid 15 minutes.
But in the midst of the avalanche of words he let loose on poor Corey, he missed perhaps the most important one. And that is "congratulations". Because the wanton destruction, massive police presence, parental fury and massive damage bill tell me one thing. It must have been one heckuva party.

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What can we satirise when John is gone?

It was often said in the lead-up to this year’s election that many of those voting for the first time knew no other Prime Minister than John Howard. And even though I was 19 when the Howard government was elected in 1996, I have much the same sensation. I simply can’t remember a time when the words “the Prime Minister” referred to someone other than the Hon J.W. Howard, and it’s going to be quite an adjustment.

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A dispatch from the booths

It’s a cold, rainy morning in Sydney, so much so that when I saw the queue shivering at my local polling booth, I nearly turned away. Compulsory voting claims another victim. While I was waiting for an eternity to exercise my democratic right, I got a chance to check what messages the parties are trying to push on polling day.

After reading this briefing on the messages the campaigns are trying to ram down your throat, you’ll be safe to keep your eyes firmly closed or even put a paper bag over your head so none of the annoying volunteers can bother you as you walk into your booth

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Ten ways John Howard can win

With only eight days to go, John Howard still can’t even up those pesky polls. He needs, as Kevin Rudd would put it in around 600 consecutive sound bites, “fresh ideas” to retain office, or his long innings will very shortly come to an end. Here are ten easy options the PM might consider using to win back voters.
(Note; if the Coalition actually uses any of these ideas to pull off an unlikely win next Saturday, the price for licensing my intellectual property will be an ambassadorship to somewhere with lots of sunny tropical islands. That’s how it works, isn’t it?)

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The children’s toy drug scourge

I’m glad that the world has finally woken up to the narcotic properties of children’s toys. The manufacturers of Bindeez beads say “with a little spray of water join them together to create works of art”. But we now know that as well as art, you also create a substance that is similar to the date-rape drug known as liquid ecstasy, fantasy or GHB. Meaning that the kids who were given them may end up a great deal happier than their parents intended.

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Ten ways to entertain yourself during the campaign

Well, we’re only a week and a half into the election campaign, and I’m already bored to tears. I have to follow this stuff intimately for work, unfortunately. If, like me, you don’t have the capacity to simply switch off the television like most Australians, why not adopt one of my patented methods of entertaining yourself during Campaign 2007?

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