Tuesday, January 15, 2019


Tim Vine, wearing a hat made of empty milk bottles and packing tape
I have had the pleasure of seeing Tim Vine perform live a couple of times. He's back, with his new show, Sunset Milk Idiot. The show promises, amongst other things, "telling lots of silly new jokes, showing off new homemade props, singing some new daft ditties, and all with the appearance of confidence. The following subjects will be touched upon briefly: pixie football, ice cream and nibble feeders. Come along, sit down, and laugh. The quantity won’t let up. This is comedy without a message. What an odd person. What a lot of nonsense. What else is he going to do? ‘Sunsets are in the sky, milk’s nice, and I’m an idiot.’"

When he tours overseas, I wonder how he gets all of his props through customs. How does he describe them when he fills out his customs declaration form? Do customs officers examine each prop individually before they stamp his passport? What sort of questions do they ask him? Am I overthinking all this?

Friday, January 11, 2019

You have stepped out of your place

"Come in. Take a seat. We're here for your performance review. I have to tell you that you failed on the second key performance indicator."

"Did I? With respect, you can hardly expect your employees to produce accurate work when you misspell the word "accuracy" in the advertisement when I first applied for this position."

"Oh, really? Can you provide evidence of that?"

"Yes, I have the document right here."

"Point taken."

"You will be given a written warning. Not for your job performance, but for being uppity."

Thursday, January 10, 2019

It's in the script

Today is Margaret Thatcher Day. Named for the former British Prime Minister, it is commemorated in the Falkland Islands. Until today, I had no idea that this holiday existed. It commemorates the 1982 Falklands War, which was one of the defining events of the Thatcher years.

Pictured at left is a front page headline from The Sun, evocative of the patriotic, gung-ho fervour for the war that was whipped up by British tabloid newspapers.

There was an element of this in the 1997 James Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies, in which the villain, Elliot Carver, a global media tycoon, attempted to start a war between China and Britain to further his business interests. I dare say this was intentional. That's certainly the first thing I thought of when I watched this scene in the film. In the customary Bond film scene in which the villain explains his evil plot to James Bond, he shows him this headline from one of his own newspapers.

When Carver dies aboard his stealth boat at the end of the movie, M and Moneypenny put out a cover story saying that he was missing at sea, presumed drowned. It's left up to the audience to work out for themselves whether or not this was based on actual events. More astute viewers should have no trouble making these connections.

Monday, January 07, 2019

Mao's legacy

With China rising as a world power, its internal affairs and poor human rights record are coming under media scrutiny from democratic countries. Over the past few years, millions of Chinese citizens have been the victims of arbitrary and secret detentions. Government persecution of Christians has intensified, with Pastor Wang Yi and approximately 100 members of his church also detained.

Photojournalist Lu Guang has also disappeared. His photographs expose social, environmental, and economic issues. Disappearing him will hardly suppress his work. It is readily available online. Is he considered to be a threat because his work challenges the image of itself that China wishes to present to the world?



Tuesday, January 01, 2019

The coathanger

Happy New Year to my reader. This happened last night in Sydney. During the midnight fireworks display, the message, "Happy New Year 2018!" was projected onto one of the Harbour Bridge pylons. With months of work going into planning these events, you could be forgiven when minor details, such as correct spelling of projected messages are overlooked.


Sunday, December 30, 2018

The consequences of anti-Semitism

Until today, the only major historical event that I knew of in 1066 was the Battle of Hastings. That was until I learned about the Grenada Massacre. On December 30 of that year:

"A Muslim mob stormed the royal palace in Granada, Spain on this date in 1066, crucified Joseph ibn Naghrela, the Jewish vizier to the Berber king, and massacred more than a thousand Jewish families. According to the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia, "Arabic chroniclers relate that [the vizier] believed neither in the faith of his fathers nor in any other faith," and that he "controlled" the King and "surrounded him with spies." The most bitter of his enemies was Abu Ishaq of Elvira, who wrote a maliciously anti-Semitic poem that helped spark the pogrom..."

The exact number of deaths is unknown, but it is possible that up to 4000 people were killed. 

Thursday, December 20, 2018

More spiritual snakeoil

Via Facebook, a past acquaintance of mine invited me to an event with American televangelist, Jesse Duplantis. I strongly but politely declined the invitation. There's no way known I'm going to see him. Let me explain why.

Firstly, I have a big problem with his hyper spirituality. These evangelists who claim to have special teaching or extra-biblical revelations trouble me. Duplantis claims that he was caught up in the Spirit and visited heaven, where he met Abraham, King David, Jesus himself, and the apostle Paul. It's interesting that he should meet Paul, because Paul also had a vision of heaven. Does Duplantis see himself as being a modern day version of Paul? Unlike Duplantis, Paul didn't share his vision of heaven to make himself look good. When he described his apostolic credentials in his letters, it wasn't to impress people, but to defend himself against his opponents, the so called super apostles, who undermined him.

Secondly, Duplantis is a well known prosperity preacher. He lives in a lavish mansion, and earlier in the year, made headlines when he allegedly asked his supporters to help him buy a private jet, to be used for ministry purposes. Again, he says that God wanted him to have it, but on the face of it, it looks like he's manipulating people, and that he thinks that travelling around on commercial flights is beneath him.

That Duplantis has such a huge following shows a lack of discernment amongst Christians. I'm disappointed that an Australian church is directly supporting his work. Count me out. So many of these celebrity pastors eventually fall off the pedestals their followers put them on.