SMH blog 2006-8

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

Making sense of the Mighell malarkey

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Why, exactly, did Kevin Rudd demand that Dean Mighell leave the ALP? What heinous crime did he commit? From what I can see, he won workers a pay increase, boasted about it in somewhat tacky terms and he used fairly intemperate language about John Howard. He also doesn’t like the Government’s tough new building regulator very much. So in other words, he was a union rep.

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Shane’s other Advanced Hair Warneing

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Who’d have thought it? Apparently Advanced Hair isn’t all that a phalanx of former cricketers say it is. A British advertising standards tribunal has said Shane Warne should stop claiming that the “AHS-FP” product cures baldness. Yeah, he should, and so should Advanced Hair Studio, if its conclusions are correct. And that wouldn’t come as a huge surprise. Along with easy-dieting solutions, hair loss treatments are the snake oil of the 21st century, and anyone preying on the vanity of insecure men should be dealt with harshly. Although really, I think anyone who takes lifestyle advice from S.K. Warne has received more than enough “Warneings”.

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Let sleeping Dis lie

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SCANDAL! OUTRAGE! Insensitive UK television channel to screen photos of Princess Diana dying in the Mercedes Benz. The princes said to be very upset about the decision. British red-tops slam highbrow arty-farty network for its heartlessness. Channel Four defends sensationalist images as an important contribution to the debate.
Come on, people. Ten years on, can’t we all just forget about Princess Diana? Whose candle burnt out long before the whinging ever did.

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The new adventures of old Pauline

Brace yourselves, Australia. Pauline Hanson is venturing forth from behind the fabled fish-and-chip shop counter once more. Like the archetypal horror villain, she refuses to die, but just keeps coming back in lamer and lamer sequels that do ever-worse at the box office. It’s another tilt at the Queensland Senate, and this time she’s actually got her act together enough to realise that she needs a party, because no-one who’s interested in voting for her will have the wherewithal to number every box.

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I work for the ABC – where’s my preselection?

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Kevin Rudd has recruited Maxine McKew to run in John Howard’s seat of Bennelong. And today, ABC News’ Mike Bailey was announced as the ALP candidate for North Sydney. For an organisation that’s understandably sensitive about allegations of political bias, having some of its most respected current affairs presenters parachuting straight into Labor pre-selections, where their formidable ABC reputations become a huge electoral asset, is not a fantastic look. It raises a great many questions. Chief among which is this: since I work (part-time, as a writer) at the ABC, which seat can I have?

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Bound, gagged and delivered, he’s ours

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It’s fascinating to watch the Coalition’s brilliant electioneering machine in action. One by one, it mops up the potential electoral troublespots. Kevin Rudd was ahead on education, so the Budget slings money at universities, allowing Peter Costello to call it the “real” education revolution. Industrial relations is the biggest electoral problem, so there’s now a new, softer variant, conveniently allowing the Government to legally advertise it all over again. (Sorry, I should say, allowing us to advertise it, since it’s being done with our money.) And now David Hicks, that favoured protest target of all on the left, whose treatment was beginning to appal even mainstream Australia, is now back in the homeland, safely tucked away in dinki-di Aussie jail where they serve dinki-di Aussie breakfasts, until after the election. Brilliant.

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The view from the departure lounge

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What a week it’s been (well, week and a bit) for departures. The exit doors have been flapping particularly wildly this week. So It’s time to say a few farewells, none of them fond, to those who’ve been boned, or forced to bone themselves. (That expression really doesn’t get any less inappropriate with time, does it?) I know I won’t miss any of the most recent departures.

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Howard and Rudd couldn’t be much Dalai Lamer

As far as world leaders go, the Dalai Lama would surely have to rank as one of the most harmless. He’s an almost universally respected advocate of peace. And while he is the head of the Tibetan Government-in-exile, he is dedicated to non-violent negotiation with China, and has accepted that the People’s Republic is going to have to play some kind of part in Tibet’s future. He is, in many respects, even more admirable than Nelson Mandela, and certainly puts Bono to shame. So, when he visits Australia, why on earth would any of our leaders decline to meet with him?

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Channel Nine – Still the bone

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It’s been a rough week over at Nine. The axe has wielded all over the place – even on the parent company itself, PBL, which has been split into two. This will enable James Packer to divest his media interests to focus on what seems to be his main love, gambling. Kerry, at least, liked owning the cricket and – even if it was largely ego-driven – seemed to have some level of interest in quality journalism. (And also in ACA.) Whereas James’ ambitions, bless him, seem not to reach any higher than a whole lot of pokies. And also in the high-finance equivalent, which is getting into bed with private equity.

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Would a Bloom by any other name smell as sweet?

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Imagine this. You meet a cool guy on FaceBook, which is a somewhat less undignified version of MySpace that used to be exclusively for university graduates but now accepts anyone. You poke him (it’s a FaceBook thing, not a metaphor. Well, not just a metaphor.) He pokes back. And then you’re chatting away. Sparks are flying. The flirtation goes up a notch, and you’re start to wonder whether this guy could be The One. And then he drops a bombshell. The guy you thought was an awesome catch was actually only Orlando Bloom. Imagine, just imagine, your disappointment.

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