Monday, March 20, 2017

Building bridges

Yesterday marked 85 years since the official opening of the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge. I'm not one to toot my own horn, but I have walked across it at street level, from the Rocks to Milson's Point.

The State Library of New South Wales has set up an online archive of interviews with bridge workers.

The opening ceremony was memorable because the ceremonial ribbon cutting by New South Wales Premier, Jack Lang, was interrupted by a man on horseback in military uniform slashing at the ribbon with a sword. He turned out to be Francis de Groot, a member of the semi-fascistic New Guard.

The New Guard was a paramilitary organisation, active in Australia during the Great Depression, but it eventually fizzled out. De Groot was in the Australian Army during the Second World War, but he later returned to his furniture business. He died in Dublin in 1969.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Grief and loss

Controversial Australian artist and cartoonist for The Australian newspaper, Bill Leak, died suddenly yesterday. He was 61 years old. By all accounts, he was loved by his family and friends, who will miss him dearly, and supported him in his campaign for freedom of speech in Australia. Unfortunately, he also had many enemies in the offence industry, including human rights activists, the mainstream media, and internet armchair critics.

They smeared and vilified him as bigoted, racist, and homophobic, and some of them gloated over his death, using social media to dance on his grave. They forget that he was also a husband and a father. Think how his wife and children must be feeling right now. I dare say that non of these critics have experienced the sudden and unexpected loss of a father. And to to think that they like to pride themselves on their so-called tolerance.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Make the switch

Nintendo has just released its newest video game console, the Switch. Its unique functionality allows it to be used as both a portable system, and also connect to a television. It's too soon to say how successful it will be.

See if you can spot the glaring typo in the link below.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Cloak and dagger

In the wee hours of this morning, news broke that Kim Jong-nam, the half brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, had died at Kuala Lumpur airport. It came as no surprise when the story developed further, it was revealed to be an assassination. Authorities believe that North Korean agents were responsible. Kim Jong-un is well known for his cruelty. It would also come as no surprise if these operatives had their orders from the so-called Dear Leader himself.

Eagle-eyed readers will also notice a typo in the link below, and from Australia's national broadcaster, no less. Learn to proof read, people.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Get some perspective

Some of Donald Trump's more strident critics are comparing him to Hitler. For all his faults, at least there is a separation of powers, and constitutional checks and balances, as we have recently seen with the court challenge of his immigration ban.

Hitler had absolute power to do whatever he wanted. Criticise Trump. Raise concerns about his policies. Resort to hyperbole if you wish. The office of President of the United States is a powerful one, but it is not a dictatorship.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Lamenting the past

During my school years, I had neat, legible handwriting, at least for a male. That started to change when I went to university. This was long before lecturers used PowerPoint, and consumers had access to affordable laptop computers. I took notes in lectures and tutorials by hand, and had to write them quickly so that I didn't miss any important information. I noticed that my handwriting greatly deteriorated as a result.

Before I bought a computer in early 1996, I even wrote my university essays by hand before typing them on an electric typewriter. I did this for three of my four years as an undergraduate student. Looking back now, I don't know how I managed. Then again, since I was pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree, it's not as though I had a very demanding workload.

Observers of such things have noted that since the proliferation of email, instant messaging, text messages, and chat people are using handwritten communication less often. Writing letters and sending greeting cards has dropped off sharply.

It is as though my brain has been rewired. I have to concentrate hard to write neatly in greeting cards, and my shopping lists. Somewhat self deprecatingly, I wonder if there's such a thing as remedial handwriting classes for adults. I also wonder if handwriting is dying out.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Crying for Argentina

Brashs is a defunct Australian retail chain that sold stereo and video equipment, televisions, VHS video tapes, records, audio cassettes, and CDs. It has a tongue in cheek Facebook fan page.

The other day it had a posting about Evita, the 1996 film adaptation of the stage musical, with Madonna in the lead role. It is twenty years to the day that this film was released in cinemas. In one of those situations where a group of friends are at a cinema and settle on seeing a film because they can't agree what to see, I have vivid memories of seeing Evita in a cinema in suburban Melbourne.

The first thing that irritated our group were the opera influences, so that all of the dialogue was sung, and not spoken.

The cinema we went to screened a print in which the audio track and and the vision were slightly out of sync. This was amusing and annoying at the same time.

Then there was Antonio Banderas, playing the narrator. We bagged out his performance style, in which he used his eyebrows a lot. Reviewing the soundtrack album, one newspaper music critic was scathing of his singing abilities, saying that he sounded like he was "gargling sand."

I liked a couple of her songs back in the late 1980s, but I have never been a fan of Madonna. This is the only Madonna movie I've seen. Along with these issues, it made sitting through this film a real chore.

It seemed to drag on forever. I repeatedly discreetly checked my watch. Eva Peron died of cancer, which is sad, and I wouldn't wish that on anyone. Even so, as I fidgeted in my seat, I thought to myself, "Hurry up and die. I want to go home." That sounds terrible, doesn't it?

Somehow the movie was both a commercial and critical success. I admit, I bought the soundtrack CD because it was on clearance at another store that was one of Brashs competitors. I haven't listened to it for years. Perhaps I will the next time I feel like a laugh.