Stay alert, ye nameless, toiling animals

Hindsight is wonderful. When we look back at, say, World War II, TV documentaries cover the rise of Hitler in a few minutes. It’s easy to forget that Hitler was head of the National Socialist Party from 1921, fully 12 years before he became Chancellor in 1933. And it was another 6 years before WWII officially kicked off with the invasion of Poland.

I’ve often wondered what that all looked like for people living it in real-time. And oddly enough, three articles in the Sydney Morning Herald this weekend got me thinking about how that relates to the big global issues today.

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Paul Keating ringtone: desiccated coconut

Thanks to Crikey and Red Symons, you can now download a free ringtone of Paul Keating calling John Howard “a little desiccated coconut”.

To download the ringtone, right-click on the link and then select “Save target as…” (for Internet Explorer) or “Save link as…” (for Firefox) and save it to your desktop or music library. Then follow the instructions for your particular handset to transfer it to your phone.

Since Symons currently presents the breakfast program on ABC Local Radio in Melbourne, I wonder if he’ll get in trouble with the ABC’s Howard-stacked Board?

Ruddslide? Don’t count your chickens just yet

This morning’s Sydney Morning Herald predicted that the forthcoming federal election will be a landslide for the ALP’s Kevin Rudd. But this graph — showing the pattern of Labor’s two-party preferred poll results leading up to the last elections — suggests that it might be too early to claim that.

Graph of ALP two-party preferred opinion poll results

According to the oz politics blog, the source of this graph:

Headlines proclaiming that Howard’s spoiling strategy had failed are a little premature. Howard is playing a medium term game. It is the standard two pronged game: pander to the punters and slam the opposition at every possible turn. The effectiveness of Howard’s medium term strategy cannot be judged after a few short weeks. If previous election years are any guide, It was not until the middle of the year that a recovery trend (from Howard’s perspective) was evident. Howard only achieved positive polling territory from the middle to late in the third quarter of the year.

Only time will tell…

Those Deadly Democrats

“Which presidents and political parties were responsible for America’s deadliest wars?” asks the cartographer. “Republicans, Democrats, or the Founding Fathers?” This animated view of America’s military history is from the guy who brought you the animated Imperial History of the Middle East.

It’s fascinating because it’s a fine example of political propaganda — released as it was shortly before the US mid-term Congressional elections, showing how (apparently) the Democrats have caused more death than the Republicans. Watch and learn…

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Howard’s Elite Tracksuit

I didn’t get time to read the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday, so my thanks to QueerPenguin for spotting this superb quote from Tanya Plibersek, the federal member for Sydney (ALP):

Howard routinely dismisses arguments because of who makes them: environmentalists; teachers; students; church leaders; unionists — they’re all part of a cultural elite, he says. The constant use of “elite” as a pejorative has become comical from a man who loves the reflected glory of hanging around elite sporting heroes and who governs for big business and rich people while living one of the most privileged existences in the country with his fine mansion on Sydney Harbour, his unprecedented wine bill, his comfy VIP jet and his $170,000, four-day Rome hotel bill. You can’t hide privilege under a tracksuit.

It’s worth reading the entire piece.

Post 100: Thinking about Values

Writing this, my 100th blog post, has set me a-thinkin’ about why. Why I’m writing a blog, yes, but also why I’m doing lots of things. Why I’m frustrated by the work I’m doing. Why I love Sydney (and Melbourne, don’t feel left out, folks). Why I get passionate about certain issues in the media.

Actually, I’ve been thinking about these things for some time, but writing this post focussed my thoughts. And while doing so, the word “values” turned up — twice. Once for the current public debate about “Australian values”. And again when my friend and colleague Zern Liew asked me to list my own “personal values”.

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