Tuesday, March 31, 2009

More topically relevant hilarity from those twits at Archie McPhee's.

Social Networking
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By the way, I have a facebook page now.


Monday, March 30, 2009

We have ways of making you laugh...

Had to share this, a great article on the power of consensus over truth.

Having done a workshop in stand-up comedy shortly before I moved to Victoria, I am familiar with the concept of the "science of laughter". Our comedic instructor, SA funny man (apparently) Dave Flanagan, said that people will laugh at something even if they find it mildly offensive, wrong or just plain un-funny, simply from the mass laughter of others- the will to be amongst the peer group. The power of comedy combined with the power of the groupthink.

Take Good News Week 's recent little tirade against Christians and Christianity. Nothing new there, but the political and social bias of this show is now so overwhelming it's unashamedly declaring "laugh with us or you're not cool". It's not alone.

" Most comedy show audiences probably believe they possess a substantive understanding of the issues of the day...In truth, the live audience sycophants would cheer like trained seals no matter the content. Being on TV or around those that make TV is just - “cool.” Informed content is not required. Check informed opinion at the studio door. Allegiance to what is “hip” is all that is necessary. "

Yep. Include some of the TV viewing audience in that. Apologies to GNW fans, although I doubt GNW's lampooned victims will ever hear an apology from them.

Here's the article expanding on the manipulative power of entertainment, paying particular attention to how it can ruin politicians who probably deserve better, and sometimes save them when they deserve less. (Warning; lengthy)


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Formula One grows a heart

It's funny, as I grow older I think I am becoming a little more aware of the little things in life, like beauty, compassion, concern for what is right rather than just what works.

Although some say I am becoming even more cynical, jaded and brutally conservative. Who the hell knows really?? But a true barometer of my social/personal leanings, can be measured from that yearly religious experience, the Grand Prix.

F1 teckos surrounding by opulence, no doubt discussing the GFC (thats Global Financial Crisis, for those who don't work around many TLA's. That's Three Letter Abbreviations, by the way)

You see, I have managed to shock some people, who rightly say they know me well, by saying that Formula One is a ridiculously indulgent, hideously expensive exercise in hedonism and half the money burned to live out these fantasies could better be spent feeding several small poor countries. Or freeing them from despotic regimes and installing healthy democracies (just in case you were worried I was sounding too progressive and compassionate there).

ha-HA, plebs!! If you want to get on my side of the fence, volunteer and help out. Unfortunately you'll have to give up being drunk, loud and annoying. Think you can handle that? Sure you can...

Indeed, I have even let slip once or twice that I reckon being manipulated by that greedy little Bernie Ecclestone into paying more bazillions and having a"twighlight race" to passify his Euro TV requirements is ludicrous. And, if Melbourne is really losing $40m a year on running it then we should say bye-bye GP, send it over to the Arab Bloc with their oil fortune, good riddance, Bernie and them are made for eachother. I could, believe it or not, live without it.

Button's winning car post race, awaiting weigh-in

But there's still that nagging tinge of respect: I love how humanity can achieve. Expertise, skill, and desire to compete are all good. There's just too much to like about that. And I will volunteer my time to help the event run well, and try and do the job well for the sake of doing it well, not just because I get the best seat in the house (for free).

No this is not Kimi Raikonnen walking on air toward me. Although I suspect if you interviewed this wall mural rather than the real Kimi, you'd solicit a more detailed response.

And occasionally I get rewarded for that. Not by getting to see these engineering masterpieces close up (which I do) or witnessing a cracking race (which I did). Not by getting two free access-most-areas tix which I seem to have trouble giving away (Adelaide peeps, are you listening? Need any more excuses for a trip to Melbourne?)

Nope. The big reward in 2009 was seeing F1 step up and pay tribute to those amazing folks who fought deadly bushfires over a month ago.

Officials' briefing usually consists of senior CAMS boffins telling us all how great we are. AS IF we didn't know.

So even the filthy, indulgent capitalism of F1 has a heart. Even if it is only a V8 Supercar clearing a $50,000 piece of advertising space on their bonnet for a Bushfire appeal notice. Or a bunch of second-string F1 cars and relatively unknown drivers doing runs up and down the main street of fire-ravaged Kinglake. Or an F1 driver's parade on CFA trucks, instead of shiny Corvettes and exotic open-tops.

And, as if humanity's massive outpouring of financial aid to the victims (during a GFC, no less) was not enough. Before the drivers' parade, these superstars of F1 milled around in the background while an army of fire fighting volunteers lined up in front of the grandstands, and guess who got the loudest in applause and cheers. And so it should be. Maybe our indulgent, money-dependent, planet-wrecking humanity ain't so bad after all.

As always, I got some great F1 shots this year. But here are the best ever.

The King Lewis congratulates Kinglake's finest

F1's 2008 oh-so-nearly man, Felipe Massa

Sharon's fave and the nicest guy on the grid, Rubens Barrichello


Pole Robert Kubica and Colac.

Mark Webber chats to one of his heroes


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Air slow

Huzzah! Finally some rain.

Problem is, it came smack bang in the middle of the Avalon Air Show and those brave fighter pilots are too scared to fly in the rain so many spectacular air displays were postponed/ cancelled*.

Still, birthday boy Sammy J Atherton, whose middle name is a tribute to his late great-grandfather, Wing Commander J. Gooch, got to take his dad to the airshow. We were able to poke a stick at a few cool toys before the monsoonal weather moved in and threatened to blow the little Pitt specials and those ridiculously over-pop-rivetted old DC-10's away. Their wings did make handy shelters though, and their flapping was almost comical.

*this is artistic licence. Air Force pilots really are really, really brave. The displays were cancelled because they don't like getting their planes wet.
Sammy J's favourite- the C-17 Globemaster of the US Air Force. U-S-A !!

Phwoar. You could fit an entire BMX stunt track in the rear of that baby!!

Of course, a show-and-shine of this epic proportion will often be cynically dismissed as a hedonistic glorification of imperialistic war machinery, glamourous portrayals of death and destruction.

However, it would appear that many, many people enjoy these hedonistic displays of imperialistic war machinery and weaponry. I cynically suggest there is a name for such people: "Normal".

Yes there are some depth perception games here, but the little old Ansett DC was only 30 metres or so behind the Qantas A380 tail, so how's that for perspective?

We're quite lucky that Avalon Airport is a stone's throw away from our place. Lucky, because there aren't a gazillion flights going in and out to make it a daily annoyance, but we can sit on the roof of the house and see a kickbutt airshow. For free. Despite this, I still blew $75 to go and get rained on. Go figure.

Anyhoo, here are more pics.

"So when I flew upside down over the Iraqi pilot and looked down at him, I waved like this..Hey Abdul!!" Yeah, good onya, Maverick. Ty-pi-cal Airforce pilot...

"He couldn't have been more than this tall. Maybe he was Mexican."

Off to see the Colonials, what...

Sam looks disappointed when he found out that the Bell 206 Jetranger may be maneuverable for low altitude recon but lacks the serious avionics to reduce vulnerability to ground attack, something which will hopefully improve with the Army's forthcoming batch of Eurocopter Tiger HAP's. Phew!

The evergreen C-130 Hercules, a remarkable aircraft whose attributes include extreme high-speed descent capabilities, as well as the ability to fly whilst the propellers aren't actually moving

Call signs? Or just some Rowan Atkinson fans?

High-way-to....the danger zone...da.da.daaammm...

I have no smarty-pants caption. That's just a freakin huge airplane...


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Which Baldwin?

Okay, so maybe I don't have a problem with all celebrities! Although, whether or not Steven Baldwin is a celebrity is debatable. He certainly won't be now after these comments!


Thursday, March 05, 2009

I like Coldplay because I'm not cool. (...cool!)

I heard a very deep saying the other day: "Does someone steal a car because they're a car thief, or are they a car thief because they steal cars?". Hmm.

No, I'm not really sure what the point was either but I think I can paraphrase it thus:

Do I like Coldplay because I'm not cool, or am I not cool because I like Coldplay?

If you're wondering about what I really think of stardom, popularity and general fashionableness, see my previous post. But there can exist a sub-culture within the subculture where it can actually be truly cool to be fashionable in a way that doesn't appear fashionable. Or not.

Okay I'm not making any sense. Let's just say I'm glad I'm not cool. The more I read fashionable, wordy underground blather about how much Coldplay suck, the more well-adjusted I become. Here's an article called Why I don't hate Coldplay which explains it more clearly, and will probably be about the only time I ever link to anything containing the word "Indy" (unless it's about that automobile race in Queensland).

To explain my own way; I took Sharon with me to see them play at Rod Laver Arena last Tuesday night. She doesn't really like Coldplay that much (for musical reasons, nothing to do with fashion), yet she found it "entertaining".

There's Coldplay's problem right there. They're supposed to entertain, so they do. Instead they should curse a lot, abuse their public status, carry on angrily about global warming, George W and Palestine, or be brazenly homosexual. Then they'd be "fashionable".

They met at a university where they were studying not arts or philosophy, but useful things like commerce and finance and classical music. They formed a band and made music which people actually like but won't admit it out of fear of being considered uncool.

So there you go. I don't mind the entertainment industry. As long as they entertain.


Monday, March 02, 2009

I love celebrities. No, really...

Now that I'm 40, I'm going to make a last ditch effort to fit into the mainstream. I've decided to stop being cynical about the entertainment industry, and cease insisting that it is full of shiftless, amoral, narcissistic, badly adjusted, willfully ignorant and poorly-brought-up substance abusers who should be pitied, not revered. I will stop pontificating about how pop stars pontificate about relationships while theirs constantly self destruct. Yessir. I'm going to take an interest and start reading gossip magazines. I will swoon at at such things as how crackingly good Jennifer Aniston looks in a frock.

Here's my first attempt. Let me know how I go:

Lindsay Lohan converts to Judaism

In order to marry her girlfriend, apparently.