Sunday, 30 September 2007

Feed Me Cookies

I went looking at a few random blogs tonight and fuck me dead. The amount of sites which were churning through data left right and centre to load up.... I'm baffled. It's worse than walking into a Telstra shop. This is NOT a sponsored post: for reasons of my own, I run PeerGuardian on my pc which tracks the IP traffic through my internet connection. Using this, I can monitor the companies and governmental bodies trying to obtain access into and data out of my pc. Not in the forceful, brutal hacking sense - no. Instead through the pleasantly disguised cookies which now adorn myriads of blogs (I'll not go into how it works with torrents).

Naturally, the widgets on my page are exempt from discussion...

One of those is for the Australian Blogs Community. I was looking at the Aus-Blog banner and decided to give it a revamp, the current one just don't fit the image of my blog. Using Google image search, I found a pic of the Aussie flag to use as a starting point, loaded it and saved it. I'm no graphic artist, there's no professional grade graphic design programs on my pc. So to add text, I copied the saved pic and pasted it into MS Word and, using a text-box, added the text. Then I found that Word no longer allows you to group objects when one happens to be a saved jpg from the web. Once again, Microsoft thinks they own everything. Fortunately this is not true, where there's a will, there's a way.

Using the basic tools on my pc - Word, Paint, Photo Editor, FastStone Capture and Nero Photosnap Image Editor (came with my digital cam) I created the following designs:

I played with gradation curves (colour/exposure) to get this effect.

Looks like a tv (CRT for those who remember) - Lens distort to maximum.

Fixed in Concrete - Embossed then played with inverting colours.

A bit of Green & Gold - same as before

Copper Rush - messing around with the aged effect

Writing in the sand - playing with glow

Underwater - hit solarize

Underwater 2 - whadayaknow, the next effect was water

Feel free to use them, I'm not Microsoft, I don't own everything.

Songs played while writing this entry:
"First Rebirth" Jones & Stephenson
"Rush Hour" Christopher Lawrence
"Daughter" Pearl Jam
"The Meltdown" Lunatic Asylum
"I Want To Fall" Freaky Chakra Vs Single Cell Orchestra
"Killing In The Name Of" Rage Against The Machine
"Red 2" Dave Clarke
"Give Your Body" Random XS
"The Stalker" Green Velvet

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Switching Off

"Television, drug of the nation
Breeding ignorance and feeding radiation"
The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy

Last night I made the decision that I am going to spend a lot less time watching television. This earth-shattering decision came about for 3 reasons:

  1. There is bugger all on television worth watching.
  2. I am sick of what passes as news and entertainment today, and even sicker of advertising - in particular the current political campaigning, which is only going to get worse.
  3. Winter is over.
This does not mean that I will be cutting out television all together. I will still be watching Spicks And Specks, The Chaser's War on Everything, Summer Heights High, Difference of Opinion and the occasional episode of The Simpsons. I will also keep an eye out for interesting documentaries such as Decadence: The Meaningless Of Modern Life and Get Up Stand Up. Apart from that, the tv will be turned off.

Having made the decision, I grabbed a book and spread out on the couch. I soon became aware of how not-silent my apartment is. Despite having no stereo or tv blurting out noise, there was still a constant hum emanating from the appliances that share my living space. I went around and unplugged everything that could be unplugged - the fridge and my pc were the only two devices left connected (the pc was in the process of burning a dvd). Doing this reduced the hum significantly, although the thermostat in the fridge meant that its basal drone kicked in and out occasionally.

I settled back on the couch (this time with a glass of scotch) and resumed my reading. But I could still hear humming, and its source was out of my control. I could hear the traffic on the roads outside, the low bass of cars idling on my street, distant tones from my neighbouring apartments. I thought to myself is this now what passes as silence? Have we become so accustomed to filling our lives with sound that we don't notice the constant noise that surrounds us? The electronic pitches, buzzes, hums and drones that fill our living and working spaces and go on ceaselessly are now accepted as silence? Is this the new rhythm of life?

My inner-country-boy longed to be on my uncle's farm, far away enough from civilisation to hear nothing but the wind in the pines and the scurry of nocturnal animals in the dark. My inner-hippy longed to be back in Cape Tribulation, nestled in the rainforest with the sound of the waves slapping on the beach in the distance. My inner-yuppie was too busy mourning the loss of the television.

How silent is your silent?

In case I don't post between now and Thursday: Difference of Opinion looks at tween-marketing this week - something parents need to become aware of fast. For background info, check out Two Knives and Imaginif.

Songs played while writing this entry:
"Hey Jealousy" Gin Blossoms
"Say It Aint So" Weezer
"Tremora Del Terra" Illuminatae
"Schoneberg" Marmion
"Animal" Pearl Jam
"Civil War" Guns N Roses
"It Doesn't Matter" The Chemical Brothers
"Standing On The Outside" Cold Chisel
"Hot" Purveyors Of Fine Funk
"Defiant" Christopher Lawrence
"Global Machine" Temperature Drop

Friday, 21 September 2007

Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves

It's 1:00 am. She lays on a mattress on the floor of her brother's house, her 3 year-old daughter sleeping in the bed on the other side of the room. Its been a long day at work - her boss can be such a prick at times, but the job pays alright and it's only a temporary means to an end. Plus it's part-time, so she can spend more time raising her 2 kids.

Throwing back the quilt, she gets up and gently stirs the child awake. The poor thing is tired and becomes only semi-conscious. She picks the girl up and nestles her against her shoulder as she opens the door. In the room directly across the hallway, her 18 month-old son stirs in his cot. Quietly, she carries her daughter to the toilet and sits her down on the loo. Speaking gently, she encourages the girl to take a wee. She has to be up at 7:00, get the kids breakfast, get ready for work, dress the kids, make lunch, pack their day-bags, get them all into the car - which hopefully will start this time - and drive them to her ex-husband's parent's house, then on to work. But for now, she is a mother teaching her daughter to become aware of her body's signals. The job done, she whispers gentle words of praise, lifts the child and carries her back to her bed. One quick check on the sleeping boy, then she lays back down to sleep.

I lay in bed. I had worked an 8-hour shift and got home around 11:00. I listen to her perform this act of love and selflessness. I marvel at her strength, determination and bond of duty to her children. I know that she is putting on a brave front, but she is hurting inside and struggling with the new world of being a single-parent. She has many challenges still to face and it will not be easy. I vow to myself that I will be there for her always.

She is a woman, a mother, an employee, a survivor of an abusive marriage. She is my sister and I love everything that she is.

Happy birthday BJ.

Songs played while writing this entry:
"Mockmoon Remix" Genlog
"Don't Go Now" Ratcat
"Sunsets" Powderfinger
"Porch" Pearl Jam
"Undone - The Sweater Song" Weezer
"Love For" Glenn Underground
"Anything Goes" Guns N Roses
"Millenium" Torsis

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Opinions Wont Keep You Warm At Night

No, I'm not being philosophical.

Aussie band Kisschasy released "Opinions Wont Keep You Warm At Night" in June of this year. The lyrics can be interpreted in a number of ways - a message to an ex, a youthful expression of the generation gap, a dig at the media (and bloggers), or, based on the video clip, a statement on world politics.

Either way, it's nice to hear a murmur dissent from the music industry at last.

I've posted both the video and lyrics below - interpret it your way. I'm off to watch Get Up Stand Up.

Wait while jealousy tears you apart
I’m sorry but I cannot help the way you are
That we do the things you can’t

Just wait, can’t you see you’re being weak?
It’s shallow and dark you know every time you speak
You’re just lying through your teeth

Sometimes, days are like you say yet I don’t agree with what you see
But I will never let the bitter things you say ever get to me
Sometimes, days are like you say yet I don’t agree with what you see
But I will never let the bitter things you say ever get to me

We are everything you wish you were
But, I’m feeling kinda concerned
we’re probably friends
But you hide from consequence

Yeah you must have a lot of spare time
To put down the words that you write
But no one cares
You should put your mind to rest

Sometimes, days are like you say yet I don’t agree with what you see
But I will never let the bitter things you say ever get to me
Sometimes, days are like you say yet I don’t agree with what you see
But I will never let the bitter things you say ever get to me

Get to me…Get to me…

Sometimes, days are like you say yet I don’t agree with what you see
But I will never let the bitter things you say ever get to me
Sometimes, days are like you say yet I don’t agree with what you see
But I will never let the bitter things you say ever get to me

Songs played while writing this entry:
"Feel The Pain" Dinosaur Jnr.
"Reactivate" Bismark
"Basket Case" Green Day
"I Could Have Lied" Red Hot Chili Peppers
"Opinions Wont Keep You Warm At Night" Kisschasy
"Special Ones" George
"Closer To France" Cap Project
"Live And Let Die" Guns N Roses

Saturday, 8 September 2007

People, Police, Paths, Protests, Pictures

Drove down a strangely-quiet-for-a-Saturday-morning Pacific Hwy to North Sydney. North Sydney was also very quiet, but that's nothing unusual on the weekend as it's predominantly a business district. Parked easily, walked to the station, bought a ticket and waited for the train heading into the city. A north-bound trained pulled into the station, all but empty. Similar story when my train arrived.

Disembarked at Town Hall station, walked through the QVB and had my first spotting of protesters (wearing anti-Bush tee shirts and drinking coffee at Gloria Jeans) and police. Out onto George Street to a lack of traffic and pedestrians and plenty of closed shops. As I had missed the actual march, decided to head straight down Market St to Hyde Park to join the rally. Got to Elizabeth St to a barricade of police and police vehicles. After one of the cops advised it would be 10-15 minutes before they would allow people to cross the street to get into Hyde Park, I decided to go the long way round.

So I back-tracked up Market and down Castlereagh St, only to be denied access to Park St by a row of police and a strategically placed bus. Ok, stage 3. Cut across through an arcade to Pitt St and came across this:

Now, the intelligence of the police operation was really coming to a pinnacle at this point. I was advised that I was unable to cross the road at the pedestrian crossing unless I was to walk up to George St and then back down Park St. I figured it was futile arguing that there would be no difference in me having access to the pedestrian crossing via this route as opposed to the alternative route with a guy who takes orders without question (I'll let you figure out which one he is in the pic). Ironically, on the opposite side of the Pitt St intersection is a McDonalds with entrances on both Pitt and Park Streets. So I was forced to pass through the Golden Tits of Mass Consumerism to proceed - eh, it saved me 5 minutes of walking in circles.

Finally on Park I was able to walk back down to Elizabeth only to be confronted by this:

Talk about overkill. Besides making it impossible for people to cross the road from either side, this mass show of police force was only serving one purpose - intimidation.

Eventually made it to the one police-sanctioned pedestrian crossing into Hyde Park and entered the rally proper. Came across a bloke from the Socialist Alternative Party who gave me this:

I chatted with the bloke about how the police were making it hard for people to get into Hyde Park. At one point he referred to them as 'the pigs' and looked confused when I responded "Don't call them that mate, they're just ordinary blokes doing their jobs".

Caught the end of the rally speeches. The dj chose "Fight For Your Right (To Party)" by the Beastie Boys to play straight after the speeches. This of course received great response. I chose to wander around observing, reading and talking.

This girl was part of a group of female Muslim protesters, all wearing hijabs.

At one point, there was a loud roar from the crowd and this came walking by:

The black thing sticking up in the centre of picture is a camera used by the police to instantly photograph and scan the faces of people in a crowd. I don't think too many people had anything to hide considering the size of the crowd following it around.

This group was dancing to "My Bush Would Make A Better President" by Digital Primate.

This stand was unattended when I walked past - shame...

And so, having spoken with a diverse range of people from a diverse range of cultures on a diverse range of issues, I wandered back towards the train station - this time using a much more direct route. Walking back up Park St, I saw this:

A hard-earned thirst hey fellas?

At the train station I ran into these 2 women:

The lady on the right told me her son had told her not attend the march with "that mob of riff-raff". She went on to tell me how disgusted she was with the police organisation of the event, being that she had to walk for so long to be able to express her right to protest. We both agreed that riff-raff did not define the range of people who had attended and that the path to freedom should have been a hell of a lot shorter and easier.
"NSW Police riot squad chief Superintendent Stephen Cullen had warned: "I have absolutely no doubt that minority groups will engage in a level of violence not previously experienced in Sydney."

5,000 attendants, 9 arrests, 2 injured police, 0 riots.

I've been to cricket matches with worse outcomes than that.

Less fear-mongering going on when it comes to cricket though.

Songs played while writing this entry:
"Add It Up" The Violent Femmes
"Acid Wiss" DJ Skull
"Drop Top Caddy" Aphrodite & Mickey Finn
"Forth" Secret Silence
"There Goes The Neighborhood" Body Count
"Kick Out The Jams" The Presidents Of The United States Of America
"All I Want Is You" U2
"Holiday" Weezer
"Rocket Queen" Guns N Roses
"Land Of Zod" Plantastik
"Scary Dog" Sixth Sense Approach
"Low" Cracker

Dotty Points

  • The presiding Australian Commonwealth Government is elected based on a 2-party preferred system. The 2 prime political parties in Australia are the currently in power Liberal party and the Labor party (otherwise referred to as "the Opposition"). The Liberal party was founded by the middle class. The Labor party was founded by the workers.

  • I don't trust either of them to do the job properly, but we're stuck with an archaic electoral system that prevents change and which neither of them will have the balls to change.

  • I do not belong to any political party. None of the minor parties appear to be doing anything to open debate against the 2 major parties and present viable arguements for social change. Protesting is one thing, debating is another, policy planning is something completely different.

  • I cried watching this because I love Australia.

  • And for the fact it was posted on youtube by a 54 year old.

Songs played while writing this entry:
"Sunsets" Powderfinger
"Born Slippy" Underworld
"Only 4 U" Cajmere
"Wish You Well" Bernard Fanning

Friday, 7 September 2007

What's That Noise? - Rambalations 4

Just an upfront warning that this may turn into a rather long, rambling post.

Tell you what - it's a fuckin weird time to be living in old Sydney town right about now. I mean, shit. It's all fuckin happening. There is this buzz, this murmur, this energy. The people are talking. And people are listening. Now think about it. People are those beings that work together, day in and day out. People work together and get to know together by talking and listening. After a while it becomes people talking and listening together while they work. The paradigm shifts.

And this is how I see how it happening in Australia.

Most workers here will give you.... wait for it.... here it comes..... " a fair go". When a new person starts working within a team, we give them a few weeks to settle into their new role, to become sociable within the team, to let us get to know them as a person and as a colleague. I mean fuck, we've all been in new teams at some point and know what it's like to feel you have NFI, that you hope your new team members will like you in some way, shape or form, and wandering if you're going to like them. We weigh each-other up for a while. For a few weeks.

And then we say "Fuck it, let's just get on with it".

So we do. And after a while, all that new-kid tension wears off from both sides. We go about our work and we get to know each-other while we do our work. We realise the commonalities we have on personal levels, professional levels, skills levels. We find the grounds that connect us regardless of background, race, age, gender, religion. Those things no longer matter, it's the person that is important. That thing inside that makes you you.

Like it or hate it, APEC has stirred Sydney to bubbling point. You see, we work and live (mostly) side-by-side here. Muslims work with Christians. Americans work with Iraqis. Tibetans work with Chinese. Anglo-Saxons work with Aboriginal Australians (that has taken far too fuckin long to achieve, but it finally seems to be getting somewhere). And we get to know each other, no holds barred, guts 'n all. We don't hold back talking about shit as we work.

No-one seems too fussed about the actual issues being addressed at APEC, rather we're talking about the one that is being un-addressed. The people.

APEC has given Sydney the taste of what it feels like to live under a dictatorship or military rule. Sure, it's nothing in comparison to how it is in some countries, but even a small taste of it is a massive shock to the system. See, down here in Oz we rarely see people walking round with guns in public. Our skies aren't normally filled with military and police helicopters. The public is not usually denied from entering their own city if they can't present identification. Individuals are not normally stopped and searched for no apparent reason. We generally don't live with that fear.

APEC has brought all of that here. And the people are not liking it at all. Not just the activists or the uni students or the hippies. It's the bloke in the suit on the bus trying to get to work. It's the doctor on his way to perform surgery. It's the mum trying to get her infant to sleep as the helicopter buzzes by her apartment. It's the teenage girl on her way to her first date. This shit has really pissed people off. Not the just the inconveniences but also the fear that is being brought into our country.

Australians do not live like this.

Problem is, Australians also have an attitude of 'she'll be right'. This could easily turn into a case of letting it run its course and then get back to how things were. After all, summer is just around the corner and we're all looking forward to long days in the sun, warm nights on the beach, holidays, cold beers, swimming in the pool, drinking at the local beer garden, bbq's, music festivals - all that good shit which comes from living in a country where the people are free to live their lives their way.

I hope that attitude doesn't prevail this time. We need to build on this experience and ensure that our country does not end up accepting this fear and governmental enforcement on an ongoing basis. If anything, we should be highlighting our nation as an example to the rest of the global community of how things can work without having those things. Sure, we are far from perfect, but we're slowly figuring this shit out amongst ourselves. It's easier to do it over a couple of beers at your mate's barbie on a Saturday arvo than it is by bombing the shit out of each-other because we're too afraid to talk to one-another.

May the protest on Saturday be held and received with Australian easy-naturedness, acceptance and good-will.

Songs played while writing this entry:
"Opinions Wont Keep You Warm At Night" Kisschasy
"Iris" Goo Goo Dolls
"Librae Solidi Denari" The Shamen
"Live And Let Die" Guns N Roses
"Sunday Bloody Sunday" U2
"My Happiness" Powderfinger
"Speedway" The Prodigy
"Satisfaction" Benny Benassi
"Every You Every Me" Placebo
"Tennessee" Arrested Development
"Red 2" Dave Clarke
"Beds Are Burning" Midnight Oil

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Going Down(er) On APEC

The below is an excerpt from an interview with the Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer which screened on the ABC's Lateline last night:

Below are my reactions to the interview:

"Australia will, at least for this week, be very much the centre of the world"
- We're moving the entire country geographically north? What a dumass statement to make.

"we've been able to put the climate change issue into the centre of the agenda"
- About time, and no small feat for a summit with a predominant economic focus... ah, hang-on..

"We also have put a lot of emphasis on economic restructuring and liberalisation...."
- I'm seeing a link here between economics and environment....

"Well, I think inevitably, there'll be some media focus on changes to traffic arrangements and the protesters"
- Well duh! No mention of the removal of civil rights for Sydney-siders during the summit.

"the protesters anyway will definitely get a lot of publicity as they always do in any western country. That's why they conduct protests - in order to get publicity for them."
- And I thought they did it to highlight their frustration against an injustice. So easy to dismiss protests as a marketing ploy in our consumer society.

"in the end people will recognise that this is about Australia being a really significant country and taking its rightful place in the world"
- A significant country where the government feels they have the rights to change laws and impose restrictions with no consultation to the public. And where tourists can't take photos.

"obviously some people will be inconvenienced, and I feel sorry for them, and I can understand their irritation"
- This coming from a man who is not being impacted by road-closures, security checks, police-searches and restriction zones. I doubt he truly understands the irritation being felt by the wider public.

"Well you have to have somewhere for people to sleep."
- Last I checked, every major Australian city (and most of the regional centres) has plenty of accommodation. Sorry Andrew, guess you weren't on Downer's guest list!

Dumass Downer.

Songs played while writing this entry:
"Smells Like Teen Spirit" Nirvana
"Scared" Slacker
"Closer To France" Cap Project
"SMD#3" SMD#3
"We're Not Gonna Make It" Presidents Of The United States Of America
"Come As You Are" Nirvana
"Circuit Breaker" DJ Skull
"My Planet" Simply Jeff

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