01 May, 2016

Thinking of linking

This week, I have been mostly reading....

Public service's lolly underground protests against treatment of Gillian Triggs

Budget 2016: Tim Pallas rides high while Scott Morrison dithers

Punitive, immoral and now illegal: the verdict on Manus Island

Turnbull’s negative gearing circus rolls on

Far from being silenced, the conservative voice is amplified and disproportionately powerful - "There’s a vast difference between being a victim of discrimination and the reality of fewer people agreeing with you than you’re used to."

The Project's Waleed Aly is in no mood to attend Malcolm Turnbull's negative gearing party

Penetrating insight into John Howard's sex life - you're welcome!

What are the submarines really protecting: Australia or federal seats?

Nauru refugee sets himself on fire in protest, man in critical condition, Peter Dutton says

Nauru refugee who set himself on fire dies in Brisbane hospital

An open letter from Jackie French (AM) in response to the Productivity Commission’s Report on Australia’s intellectual property arrangements

13 Times Australia Was Able To “Live Within Our Means” (Buzzfeed warning)

Goldman Sachs Admits It Defrauded Investors, Receives $5 Billion Fine — But Will Pay Much Less Than That

Spreading hate has backfired on right-wing media: How Fox News unwittingly destroyed the Republican Party

Andrew Bacevich and America’s Long Misguided War to Control the Greater Middle East

Garry Kasparov: Donald Trump And His Enablers Are Killing Democracy

9/11 report: Obama administration 'set to release' secret 28 pages 

Guy's Po-Boys open again after getting clobbered by truck

Pseudoscience in the Witness Box, The FBI faked an entire field of forensic science.

The West Wing's Allison Janney gives White House press briefing ahead of Correspondents Dinner

Government 'phenomenally complacent' over VW scandal, say MPs

How the Sun's 'truth' about Hillsborough unravelled

London without old people is just a factory floor, with no past and no future - The capital is a cruel city for the elderly if they are not in the moneyed 1%.

Patrick Stewart sketch: what has the ECHR ever done for us?

Hillsborough inquests: Jury reaches decision on unlawful killing question

Sir Bernard Ingham: The disgraceful letter Margaret Thatcher's aide sent to Hillsborough campaigners

Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Harry respond to Obamas' Invictus Games challenge

10 High Street stores of 1976 that have disappeared

An Israeli Brewery Recreated a 2,000-Year-Old Beer

How being banned can be a blessing

Prince Recognized That ‘if There Ain’t No Justice, Then There Ain’t No Peace’

RECORD COLLECTOR: David Bowie’s Never Let Me Down album from 1987

Miles Ahead and the Wilful Explosion of the Biopic

How 'ugly' comments remind women of the beauty tax we owe to be in public

60 Minutes’ Beirut saga is unlikely to inspire would-be journalists
You know you're stuffed when even the Oz can't defend your ethics. But Planet Janet is wrong - it's not the final severance of 60 Minutes from what it once was. That happened years ago. This just made it impossible to ignore.

The irrelevant face of CNN: What’s behind the empty gravitas of Wolf Blitzer?

Why the Original Darth Vader Is Now ‘Persona Non Grata’ at Star Wars Events

60 Minutes wanted reporter Tara Brown to be ‘involved at critical moments’ of child snatch

When men talk about feminism on television - Nobody books Latham hoping for reason and perspective. The book him hoping for a shitstorm that people will talk about later.

Screen overlay malware on the rise as bot scum battle for dominance

Bodyhackers are all around you, they’re called women

T-shirts with Myra Hindley on them? Modern art has forgotten how to care

A no-strings basic income? If it works for the royal family, it can work for us all

On Forgiveness


Clickbait of the week:
Only in Louisiana! The doughnut po-boy

I got stupid on me and now I'm wiping it off on you:
18 Reasons You Should Ditch Your Bra For A Bralette - Is it part of Buzzfeed's style guide to write about yourself in the second person?

The least boring photo on my camera roll:

25 April, 2016

Thinking of linking

What I've been reading lately:

Refugee on Nauru convicted of attempted suicide to 'deter' others - It's official, we are atrocious.

Why the federal budget is not like a household budget

Labor calls for banking and financial services royal commission

Turnbull might have to ditch the double dissolution

Germaine Greer comes under fire for controversial transgender comments

Next Generation of Banknotes: $5 Banknote Design Revealed

Geelong Council, including mayor Darryn Lyons, set to be sacked

Indigenous Actor Jack Charles Has Been Refused A Cab. Again.

Coal collapse turns 50 as Peabody fails, “clean coal” exposed as myth

This might not be the last act for ousted MP Bronwyn Bishop - oh, I think it will.

Turnbull picks a move on truck drivers, not banks

Fundraiser for Assistant Treasurer Kelly O'Dwyer to be sponsored by NAB amid banking firestorm

Tumbleweeds roll across the Senate chamber as a double dissolution election looms

In defence of Abbott: for the 'delcons', electoral victory doesn't matter

Labor refers Sophie Mirabella's claims to auditor general over $10m ‘political retribution’

PM out-manoeuvred by Labor

Former member for Indi Sophie Mirabella in spat with current member Cathy McGowan

Mirabella's grubby deal is unacceptable

Palace Theatre to be demolished: VCAT - Vandals!

River on fire in Greens MP's video is natural, not fracking, says CSIRO

Founder of private training empire accused of writing lewd messages on toilet walls

The word most often used to describe the conditions that lead to gun mishaps is nearly always the same: “somehow.”

Five Panama Papers takeaways

Trump Is The Weakest GOP Front-Runner In The Modern Era

Clinton Is Winning The States That Look Like The Democratic Party

NOPD: Fully loaded handgun found inside former Saints player Will Smith's car

LSP responds to attorney's request to take over Will Smith shooting death investigation

Ted Cruz’s college days as a widely hated masturbator have come back to haunt him

Harriet Tubman Ousts Andrew Jackson in Change for a $20

Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill papers over racism

Jack Mehoff Endorses Donald Trump - Still chasing Wayne Kerr's vote.

Learning to Talk About Class

No one would listen to Stephen Fry if he was poor

A ban on state-funded academics using their work to question government policy is to begin on 1 May. It’s either a cock-up or a conspiracy - Want to talk about free speech?

This terrifying Rupert Murdoch quote is possibly the best reason to stay in the EU yet

Meet the snooker superfan who flies 11,000 miles to spend 17 days in Sheffield every year

Email from Victoria Wood

Why DID Paul McCartney marry such a lying money grabber?

Furious French wine makers hijack Spanish tankers, pouring 90,000 bottles down the drain

Artists in Pakistan target drones with giant posters of child victims

Chernobyl’s Silent Exclusion Zone (Except for the Logging)

Remember That Time Prince Kicked Kim Kardashian Off The Stage?

Prince went to small Australian venue Bennetts Lane and asked 'can I have a gig here?'

Brian May Blasts Sacha Baron Cohen Over Freddie Mercury Biopic

David Bowie interview from 1996: 'I have done just about everything that it’s possible to do'

The truth behind that remix of Macca’s ‘Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five’

Blood, Sugar, Sex, Dickheads

12 of the best vinyl test records

'I'm in trouble': Messages show 60 Minutes may have rejected fallback escape plan after child snatching

The Fight for the Future of NPR

60 Minutes: Child recovery team 'very upset' Channel Nine left them in Beirut prison, lawyer says - Gee, what's the world coming to when mercenary people smugglers can't trust the media cowboys who bankrolled them?

Is it organic? When lifestyle choices have gone too far

The age of loneliness is killing us

The film making us face the idea disabled people have sex

Mourning Prince and David Bowie, who showed there's no one right way to be a man

Using a Dyson hand dryer is like setting off a viral bomb in a bathroom

Coffee Workers' Concerns Brew Over Chemical's Link To Lung Disease

SQL injection vuln found at Panama Papers firm Mossack Fonseca

Windows 10 system overheating and CPU Core Parking

The Kindle Oasis. A strategic review

The Dismissal: the 'what-could-have-been-live' blog

Dogs in Space, 30 years on – a once maligned film comes of age (contains spoilers)

Jock Scot, performance poet – obituary

Mental health:
People Are Using The Hashtag #WhatYouDontSee To Show What Depression Is Really Like

No, Beyondblue, we do not need more awareness about mental health - This link is not an endorsement.

TfL has made a Shakespearean tube map to mark 400 years since his death
Shakespeare's deleted scenes

I got stupid on me and now I'm wiping it off on you:
Flash of credentials can’t disguise self-interest in taxes letter - Yeah Gerard, because your thinktank doesn't have any conflicts on interests, does it? tl;dr: What makes people think they know so much just because they're experts?

The least boring photo on my camera roll:

23 April, 2016

Seven days of Bowie - bonus tracks

Yes, I've already done the seven-day challenge and I've already cheated by choosing two for the last day, but when I first started this 'blog way back in 1899, the point of it was to do things my way. So here are three choices that almost made it and why:

Tin Machine
As with Never Let Me Down, I am not for one moment suggesting Tin Machine is a work of misunderstood genius. What's great about it is that it was such a breakout!

As mentioned and linked in the previous post, Bowie's plan in the mid-80s was to make as much money as he could and then retire to a tropical island somewhere. But he noticed it wasn't making him happy and Reeves Gabrels suggested to him that maybe he should do what makes him happy.

So yes, Tin Machine was rough and somewhat contrived, although probably no more or less contrived than any of Bowie's other adopted styles. It was as if all the raucous he'd been holding back for almost ten years came blurted out in two albums. These days you'd call it a reboot. And to push the analogy a little too far, rebooting can be messy.

Oh, and they rocked harder than a lot of the poodle metal acts around at the time.

I Know It's Gonna Happen Someday
It wasn't unusual for Bowie to do covers. In fact over half his albums have at least one cover version on them. Obviously being a Morrissey fan, this one is going to interest me but there's a cute circularity to the way this one came about.

Mick Ronson had produced Morrissey's Your Arsenal album, from which the song was taken, the year before. In one of the few insights into the creative process provided in Morrissey's Autobiography, it reveals that it was Ronson's idea to have the outtro of I Know It's Gonna Happen Someday follow the same chromatic run featured in the climax of Rock'n'Roll Suicide. Morrissey and his band were worried that Bowie would sue. Mick gave them a nod and a wink and assured them it wouldn't happen. The subtext? Ronson had written that part all along.

Bowie returned the compliment the following year saying, "It's me doing Morrissey doing me." None of this is to suggest that Bowie wasn't completely taking the piss on this version.

Ashes to Ashes
For the most part, I have tried to avoid obvious classics, but the one really is unavoidable. However, I am going to tell you something about it that you probably haven't heard before.

Bowie wasn't just a magpie in terms of musical styles; he would pinch lyrics and musical phrases from everywhere - not quite going as far as plagiarism but certainly going beyond a passing similarity.

One of the most obvious examples is in All the Madmen and the line, "Here I stand, foot in hand, talking to my wall," which can easily be sung to The Beatles' You've Got to Hide Your Love Away.

For Ashes to Ashes, Bowie dug back even further to another 'sequel' song by none other than Buddy Holly. Peggy Sue Got Married features the lines
You recall a girl that's been in nearly every song
This is what I heard, of course the story could be wrong
Compare to the opening lines of Ashes to Ashes:
Do you remember a guy that's been
In such an early song?
I've heard a rumor from Ground Control
Oh no, don't say it's true
Coincidence? Nup! And there's nothing wrong with that.

Another little bit I love about Ashes to Ashes is for a tragic song, there's still a bit of humour in there. The background voice in the second verse repeats every line including a deadly earnest, "Whoa ooh whoa hoo." It could be Bowie's most perfect song.

That really is all for now - apart from all the others.
Remember, you're not alone!

21 April, 2016

Seven Days of Bowie - Part the Last

Never Let Me Down/Shining Star (Makin' My Love)

For most of the 80s, Bowie was more a craftsman than an artist. I'm not saying that's a good or a bad thing, just that that's how it was. He had quite understandably decided it was time he had some seriously big hits. He did so with his own flair of course, but it's clear that commercial considerations were much more to the fore than the were in the 70s.

The reality is that when Never Let Me Down came out, Bowie was taking the money and getting ready to run. That was until Reeves Gabrels shook him and said, 'You're better than this!'

I'm not here to say Never Let Me Down is a work of misunderstood genius. It's not. It's some well-polished pop that is never going to stack up well beside Hunky Dory or Diamond Dogs. And as 80s pop went, it was a bloody sight better than Huey Lewis.

I've chosen these two songs (I couldn't separate them) because they're just... well, joyous! And we all need some joy. I listen to a lot of dark and cynical music but I balance it with some gorgeous pop. And the joy means more when it comes from someone who knows the dark side. Bowie had been through the terrible times and come out okay. Maybe we can too.

And then there's the star motif again.

20 April, 2016

Seven Days of Bowie - Fit the Sixth

God Knows I'm Good

Bowie has dropped the mask a few times but the earliest and most moving were on the album that eventually became known as Space Oddity. There is the raw emotional honesty of Letter to Hermione too, but this was the one that I noticed the most.

I have to admit that having read about Bowie's determination for fame before hearing this album, I completely misinterpreted the title of this song at first. Although he was already creating otherworldly personae, the empathy shown for the poor, old and lonely is both surprising and reassuring. Beneath it all, he's a nice guy with concerns that go broader and deeper than the swinging London of the late 1960s. 

19 April, 2016

Seven Days of Bowie - Day Five

Dead Man Walking

Earthling is one of my favourite Bowie albums. Although he'd been making music for 30 years by the time it came out, he was still exploring new and contemporary styles. Britpop? Meh, Bowie was there the first time around. The electronica of the mid-90s interested him more.

If it were anyone else, it might seem like a sad attempt to stay relevant but this was always Bowie's method to embrace a genre and bring his own style to it as well. See also, Young Americans - perhaps not authentic Philly Soul, but more than just a pale imitation. He wasn't just going to hire all the hip producers of the day and say "make me sound like that" [coughMadonna].

Likewise, Earthing was not pure drum'n'bass, but Bowie did bring an element of songcraft to the style, so that even with two guitars, the songs still sound great.

18 April, 2016

What privilege looks like

Tracy Grimshaw wrote an anguished piece for The Australian today in defence of her 60 Minutes colleagues who are currently under arrest in Lebanon.

I make no comment on the case and I don’t question for a moment any of Ms Grimshaw’s account of what good people her friends are. I feel for her and I feel for them. I particularly feel for the crew who probably had no input in the story and may not have had a choice in their involvement in it.

The point I have to make is that for anyone who has ever had to wonder, this is what privilege looks like.

Never mind the fact that a tabloid journalist is defending other tabloid journalists. In fairness, Ms Grimshaw declared her lack of objectivity.

Never mind the fact that once again, Australians are behaving the laws of another country don’t apply to us while in that country. 

Never mind the fact that if a Lebanese television network were alleged to have paid people smugglers (remember when they were the bad guys?) to snatch a child of a Sydney street and spirit him out of the country, 60 Minutes, A Current Affair and all their ilk would be baying for blood.

Let’s start with the fact that every person in every jail cell in the world has a friend who says they’re a good person. They don’t all get to say it in a major daily newspaper though.

It’s not news or even notable that someone who is locked up has friends who are worried about them and family who miss them. There is nothing special about that. That just makes them human. Some of them are probably innocent. The 60 Minutes crew may well be innocent. That’s for the Lebanese justice system to decide and it doesn’t matter what you think of Lebanese law, they were in Lebanon so their law applies. Being Australian and a good person doesn’t mean you get treated differently. If you think it does, or should, that’s what privilege looks like.