Oh this is shocking! It’s 10 full days since Stilgherrian Live episode 48 was broadcast, and I’ve failed to tell you that it’s online for you viewing pleasure.
Well, it is.
We had another tie for “Cnut of the Week”. Australian banks, who charged record levels of bank fees despite the global financial crisis, were in 4th place (13%). US Senators, for failing to vote for the finding needed to close the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison were 3rd (17%). And in equal first place (35%) were Catholic power-brokers for failing to act on allegations of child sexual abuse, and Michael Lynton, CEO of Sony Pictures, who reckons nothing good has come from the Internet, period.
Congratulations to Sean the Blogonaut, who won a t-shirt from our friends at King Cnut Ethical Clothing — and a big raspberry to Sheila who would’ve won if she were watching the program when her name was drawn from the Cocktail Shaker of Integrity.
The program also included an interview with ActionAid Australia CEO Archie Law about our forthcoming Project TOTO.
I’m hoping that Stilgherrian Live will return at 9.30pm Thursday night, though that’ll depend on how hectic things get.
John Birmingham has followed up his highly-successful Axis of Time trilogy of military thrillers with another “ripper yarn” novel, Without Warning: America is Gone. It’s a good read, but not as good as it could be.
Like Axis of Time, which posited a 21st-century naval task force suddenly finding itself at the Battle of Midway and the final volume of which I reviewed earlier, Without Warning is alternative history. One the eve of the 2003 Iraq War, an unexplained energy field obliterates all human life across most of the United States. As the world realises the last remaining superpower is gone, the novel tracks the political and military conflicts which emerge through the eyes of characters ranging from a US general at Guantanamo Bay to a female assassin working undercover in France.
My perceptions of Without Warning are coloured by Katie Harris’ comment that my recent Gonzo Twitter effort was like Hemingway. I still haven’t read any Hemingway, but I’ve been thinking about writing styles. In a previous review I described William Gibson’s noir prose as “a richly textured cabernet merlot” in comparison with the “slab of VB” simplicity of Adrian d’HagÃ©’s action thriller. Birmingham’s writing is another slab of VB. It’s a fast, easy read without too many difficult words or complex metaphors to slow you down.
Continue reading “Review: “Without Warning” by John Birmingham”
Smoke alarm broken. Press button every 10 mins to avoid screech alert. Pavlov meets GITMO. Torture. Breakdown. Help me.
For some fine examples of how language is being manipulated in the War on Terror, try the Cato Institute briefing paper Doublespeak and the War on Terrorism. This 16-page report is very readable, and somewhat disturbing. Read on for some of my favourites…
Continue reading ““War on Terror” Doublespeak”
Whatever you think about the political issues, Australian David Hicks, currently a long-term guest of the US government at the exclusive Guantanamo Bay health resort, does seem to have a sense of humour.
As reported in Crikey today (though not included on the free-to-view website), Hicks has been stirring the pot in a typically Australian fashion.
Hicks obviously speaks some of the language of the people with whom he’s lived, trained and fired weapons, but many of his comrades had little or no English when they arrived at Guantanamo. So they begged Hicks for knowledge of suitably dark and vicious curses they could hurl at their infidel American jailers, something that would really annoy the Servants of Satan?
The guards were subsequently met with an enraged chorus from the â€œworst of the worstâ€: â€œGidday mate howareyergoin’, gidday mate howareyergoin’, gidday mate howareyergoin’â€œ
I wonder what the guards made of that!