Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I find The Age's relatively frequent topical issue "campaigns" frustrating. I don't quite know why - even though the issues generally seem solid and meaningful, maybe the agenda-pushing veers towards some kind of left-leaning version of the Herald-Sun's bonkers lobbying. Although since it's the Herald-Sun being read in ministerial offices, it's the Herald-Sun that wields the power.

Take the current campaign to bring back conductors, which follows an Age commissioned report into the economic viability of bringing conductors back ("it would save money!"). On page 3 of today's paper we have a little article suggesting that "Sydney hails Connies", the implication being that the City of Sin's crumbling state transport system has backed The Age's push for "connies" to return (a dubious honour in any case). In fact, the private operator of their sole tramline supports the use of conductors. Not the same thing.

This is followed by an opinion piece from a freelance writer, Louisa Deasey, whimsically arguing for the cultural importance of conductors. We read that "...the safety of society depends on respect and reciprical devotion. The conductors on our trams were a beautiful symbol of this respect". OK, doesn't quite accord with my own memories - while I don't generally support people's livelihoods being replaced by robots, let's be honest here. While some "connies" may indeed have been "gentle stand-by guardians", just as many were kinda grumpy.

Even though The Age's lobbying generally does reflect my own world-view, there's still something unsavoury about spinning facts to support a cause. And with five separate articles this month so far pushing the Connie-return cause, you've gotta question the editorial decision to inflate an issue with zero momentum (would be one thing if this was an issue of human rights or something, but this is essentially an issue of nostalgia). The danger of this process, as the symbiotic relationship between the Herald-Sun and the Government demonstrates, is that flawed policy decisions end up getting made not even to satisfy the populace, but to satisfy an artificially inflamed editorial agenda.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Oh my god, Ali Lohan obsession grows: Check out past release "Christmas Magic", from her Myspace page... Oh my god...

Livin La Vida Lohan

I'm currently binging on Living Lohan, the reality show following Dina Lohan (Lindsay's Mum/manager) and Ali Lohan (Lindsay's sister/wannabe singer/actor). This is SO good.

1. How Dina keeps talking herself up as some celebrity super manager, yet all she seems to do is spend the day reading through gossip rags looking for defamatory stories, then making some remark about how dealing with the press is like some kind of cosmic battle.
1a. The fact Dina has an assistant to help her flip through gossip mags.
2.The constant references to Ali's stardom, even though the reality show is designed to *create* that stardom. Reaches crescendo with obviously hired paparrazi mob.
3. Watching Ali sit around all day choosing her songs for her album, before making perfunctory remark about needing to record something she "can believe in", so as not to compromise her artistry.
4. The frequent mentions of Lindsay to compensate for her lack of participation in the show.
5. Dina's bling BMW 7-series.
6. Ali's remarkable lack of talent, contrasted against the pathological talking-up of her talent from all involved, e.g. "her voice is remarkable", following series of bum-notes.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

I've been a bit sceptical of Denton's new Elders series, perhaps because in the ads it always seemed a bit fawning (which I guess is kinda the point), and his style verged towards the obsequious. But last night's interview of veteran 87-year old White House journo Helen Thomas was a killer. Not only was it chilling to hear someone with that much perspective declare Bush *the worst* President in history (maybe every generation had a *worst* President?), but to see the footage of her challenging an obvious official contradiction about torture in the press room, then look back to her colleagues and ask "where are you guys?" was... like... Raaaahhhhh!! I think there's a certain impact in having confirmed what we already know from the mouth of someone who's spanned eight White Houses - particularly that the press has gone AWOL for the last eight years.