What’s common between Aussie Rules Grand Final and Illegal Immigrants?

Like most Australians, I was glued to the TV today, watching the Holy Grail of the Aussie Rules. Both teams showed true premierships qualities, played good game of football and provided plenty of entertainment. In a tradition clearly borrowed from the American Super Bowl, we even were treated to a half-time entertainment show from an Australian legends, Hunters & Collectors.

Aussie Rules Grand Final is no place for politics

Aussie Rules Grand Final is no place for politics

And that was the point at which I just had to say: I am not a whinger, BUT…..what the hell was Mark Seymour thinking when he decided to put on that t-shirt saying “asylum seekers”? He has an opinion about illegal immigrants? Good for him! Now take that opinion and shove it where sun don’t shine, because I’m not interested in it. Here’s a news for you: AFL didn’t pay you for your political views. They paid you to come out and sing a couple of songs. If anyone ever will become interested in your views on Australian politics, you would get an invite onto different kind of show, where people talk about politics, not sports or music.

Unfortunately, this is not a single case, for performers all over the world make dubious choice of hijacking a musical stage to drive a political agenda. Today it was Hunters & Collectors, before them it was Jamie Foxx and Dixie Chicks, Pussy Riot and Madonna. Now, don’t get me wrong – I am not against expressing political views through music. Just look at the history of another Aussie legend – the Midnight Oil. Their songs are as political as they get, they never minced their words, making very clear where they stood on any given issue. When you went to their concert, or bought their CD, you knew exactly what you were getting. They’ve come up with a whole lot of hits, true Aussie anthems, and they did it while being honest about their views.

Don't talk to me about politics, go back to snorting coke

Don’t talk to me about politics, go back to snorting coke

So here’s a bit of advice to all those actors, singers, musicians who feel compelled to impose their political views on the rest of the world…..DON’T. Just because you have (or think you have) a talent in one area, doesn’t mean you understand anything about what else is happening in a world. So why don’t you do us all a favour, and go back to singing, dancing, snorting coke, or whatever else you occupy yourself with.

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My Mum Gave me Drugs, or Why Our Athletes Choose to Cheat

Australian sport is going from one drug related scandal to another. In a last few months we’ve heard all about Cronulla Sharks, Essendon Bombers, and now Sydney Roosters looking down the barrel of the ACC’s investigation. I don’t think anyone’s really surprised anymore to hear about yet another drug scandal in sport.

Of course, nothing’s new under the sun. We all remember Ben Cousins’ drug scandal in 2007, Shane Warne’s ‘My mum gave it to me’ saga (did anyone actually believe that one?), Tour de France’s greats Lance Armstrong shocking allegations of 2011, and Floyd Landis before him, back in 2006. One good thing that came out of drugs scandals in Tour de France, is the numerous jokes it generated. Here are just a couple: “Amsterdam is like a Tour de France. Just a lot of people on drugs riding bikes.”

Drugs in sport

Drugs in sport

All this got me thinking. I understand the motive behind the decision to cheat. For some, it’s the ambition to be number one, for others it is the temptation of money, for yet others it’s the promise of fame. So when did it all start? When did the sport lose its purity?

The sad truth is, it all started millennia ago. In ancient Greece, the original Olympians used extracts of mushrooms and certain plants to create performance enhancing mixtures. During Roman period, gladiators were given drugs to make their fights more “spectacular”.

Drugs in sport

Cheat to Win

Once again, I am not a whinger, BUT… Here’s what I don’t get- why would anyone with half a brain risk taking drugs? Forget about the issues of morality, honesty and integrity. I’m talking about the health risks that associated with drug use. It should be obvious to anyone that long-term negative effects of drug use outweigh any dubious short-term “benefits”.

And just to finish it off:

A female athlete is preparing for the Olympics. She goes to the coach and complains about the tablets he is making her take.

“They are causing hair to grow on my breasts.”

“Ah whats the problem, a little bit of downy hair. everyone has a few little hairs’

“They are not downy and they are not little and they are not a few’

“Well exactly how much is there?’

“They grow all the way down to my balls, and that’s something else I want to talk to you about’

Footy Finals, Kennett’s Curse and Weird Superstitions in Sport

So it finally happened. From twenty points behind at three-quarter time, the Hawks turned the game around and finally broken The Kennett Curse. As entertaining as the game itself was, this isn’t about the Aussie Rules. It is about something strange, something out of left field. This post is about superstitions in sport, and boy, there are some weird ones.

So, what superstitions are out there?

Lets start off with one of the best tennis players of all times – Serena Williams. Most of us would cringe at a thought of wearing our socks more then once. Serena doesn’t mind it. She actually likes it, likes it so much that she only wears a single pair during any given tournament. Really? Eeeew!

Change of socks anyone?

Change of socks anyone? (image courtesy npr.org)

Even Big Bad Bezza is not as gross. Footy legend Barry Hall admitted that he wore the same pair of his favorite underpants for every game. Naturally, he made sure to explain that he washed them in between games.

Switching to cricket, Ricky Ponting’s level of play was not the only consistent aspect of the legendary cricketer’s career. Despite numerous pleas to get a new cap, Ponting refused to wear anything but his trusty baggy green. Another cricket great, former captain of the Australian Test cricket team Steve Waugh, played every game with a red handkerchief given to him by his late grandfather in his pocket.

Moving onto track and field, Fabrice Lapierre, an Aussie long jumper, begins every approach by putting his gold necklace, an 18th birthday present from his parents, into his mouth and biting down before his launch.

Want to have a swing like Tiger? Not a problem. Tiger Woods wears a variation of a red Nike polo during the final round of tournaments. The red color supposedly is linked to Stanford, where he spent his college days, and gives him an increased sense of aggression.

But my personal favourite is the story of Socceroos playing in 1970 World Cup qualifiers. Apparently, according to legendary Socceroo Johnny Warren, the team hired a witch doctor to curse their opponents (supposedly for a bit of a laugh.) Australia beat their “cursed” opposition Rhodesia 3-1, but then decided to screw the witch doctor out of his $1500 fee. Rightfully upset, the witch doctor reversed the curse onto the Socceroos. They lost their next match to Israel (Partly because three players succumbed to illness during the match) and ultimately failed to qualify. Apart from a blink-and-you’d-miss-it appearance in the 1974 World Cup finals, the Socceroos didn’t return to the FIFA World Cup until 2006. What’s real spooky here, is that their qualification occurred shortly after comedian John Safran travelled to Africa in 2004 and hired another witch doctor to reverse the curse.

Kennett's curse is over

Kennett’s curse is over

But going back to Kennett’s Curse… According to Melbourne master of darkness and The Haunted Bookshop owner Drew Sinton, Hawthorn’s midfielder needs to pee in each corner of the ground to help break the Hawk hoodoo. It makes sense. Geelong are Cats, and cats can give a spray. So the Hawks should mark their territory. It’s an animal thing and it’s highly symbolic.

Is there such thing as bad publicity?

For me, TV is an endless source of entertainment, amusement, frustration and, surprise, surprise – material for my blog.

The latest “light bulb” idea comes after watching an Old El Paso ad, the one advertising Mexican Rice Kits. Apparently, Mexicans are a backwards people, complete baboons, who just recently discovered what to do with forks.

It got me thinking: do we really need this kind of racist advertising to push a product? And what other ads are out there, playing on our feelings of superiority towards other races?

I found quite a few examples of what can be construed as racist advertising. One of the oldest ones is a Jell-O ad from the 60’s, implying that if it wasn’t for the Western Civilization, Japanese still wouldn’t know what a spoon is. Another one is a South Oak Dodge ad – again having a go at Japanese. All those imported cars must be really pissing that guy off.  Not to be outdone, the Japanese advertising for the Play Station Portable White is pushing the limits of advertising. Italians contribute to the list with the ad for Coloreria Italiana. Closer to home, KFC had to pull down its ad depicting a white Aussie cricket fan, offering fried chicken to West Indies supporters. What’s interesting here, is that this ad was deemed racist over in America, but in Australia we just laughed it off as an example of Australian humour. To be honest, I don’t get what the problem is – the guy is sharing his food with his mates…we’re all mates, aren’t we?

Dick Smith Australia Day

Dick Smith Australia Day ad

And what about the infamous Australia Day ad from an Aussie icon Dick Smith? I mean, seriously, who doesn’t like some dick?

Just to finish it off, here is an ad from Volkswagen, promoting its new model VW Polo. In this commercial German car maker is stereotyping Muslims as terrorists. It’s actually funny coming from Volkswagen, the company with really close ties with Nazis and Hitler.

I’m sure there are plenty more of these ads out there. Some are actually racist, some borderline so, and some are just labelled as racist by bigots or people with no sense of humour.

I am not a whinger, but it is a Politically Correct world we live in, where making fun of other people’s race or religion is frowned upon. Unless you are an Aussie, of course. In Australia, we are allowed, no – expected, to take a piss out of everyone. Anything less would be un-Australian.

As for everyone else – avoid the dangers of being labelled a racist and stick to the good old axiom that “sex sells” and play it safe.

Sex Sells

Sex Sells

Faceless men, or who is in control of Australian Labor Party.

The dust has settled on Federal Elections, winners are grinners, losers are licking their wounds, for the rest of us, it’s back to normal lives.

But before I put the issue of politics to rest, I would like to ponder one question which was bothering me for a while now. I blame Julia Gillard for it, for it was on her watch that the term, well-known in Australian politics since the early 60th found its way into the spotlight again.

I am talking, of course about the Faceless Men.

Faceless Men of Australian Labor Party

Faceless Men of Australian Labor Part

First of all, who are they?

Paul Howes      National Secretary of The Australian Workers’ Union
Bill Shorten      Secretary of the Australian Workers’ Union
David Feeney  Transport Workers Union
Mark Arbib      Actively involved in the trade union movement during early career
Don Farrell       Former trade union leader
According to ABS, there were 1.8 million people in August 2012 who were trade union members. So my question is: how do 5 faceless men, representing just 1.8 million or less than 8% of Australians manage to twist and turn Canberra political landscape any way they want?
Well, these 5 men are all trade union activists through and through.

Former Faceless Man, now in a running to become our next Prime Minister

Former Faceless Man, now in a running to become our next Prime Minister

To truly understand Labor Party and where power lies, it is necessary to have a look at the party’s structural link with trade unions. Trade unions select 50 per cent of the delegates to the party’s state conferences. Delegate numbers are assigned to a union based on that union’s number of members. The delegation’s makeup is determined by the union secretary. At the conference, these delegates sit together and vote as one, as directed by the union secretary, enabling the secretary to bargain with other powerbrokers to win their hoard of votes.
As one of the Party’s former leaders Arthur Calwell once said,The Labor Party was founded by trade unions and nobody else. It has always been based on the trade union movement. It can never rest on any other foundation and still be the Labor Party”.

Now, I’m not a whinger, but…..if Australian Labor party wants to remain relevant it should have a look at the way it operates, and ask why in the last election they lost so many votes. It’s not because Liberal Party is so much better. It is because the people of Australia are sick and tired of voting for a party that exists not to benefit all of us, but to serve selfish interests of a few faceless men.

Comedy Festival started early, or My Recollection of last night’s Election.

It is coming up to 6 pm and all the channels on TV are doing election special. We don’t know any results as yet, they haven’t even started counting, but everyone feels qualified enough to make predictions and to tell us that Abbot is going to be the new king….I mean Prime Minister. Maybe it is just my male gene, or maybe it is my desire to get as many opinions as possible, but I keep flicking from one channel to another.

On 7 it’s rather a small affair, with only Alexander Downer showing any sparks of intelligence. On 9 my favorite is Amanda Vanstone-she’s quite witty, quick with a joke and doesn’t mind a bit of tongue lashing. Another almost iconic presence  is Laurie Oakes, who looks like it’s all just a tad too fast paced for him. He used to be almost brilliant, but I think it’s about time we let the old war horse rest. Peter Costello is also there, looking like he’s struggling to keep up. Hard to believe that he was one of the best treasures this country had ever known. Moving on to channel 10, it’s The Project. I’m not their biggest fan even on a good day, and on a day of election they are even worse. Producers should seriously bring some one to the show whose IQ is higher than their shoe size. I’ve attempted to watch ABC coverage as well, but for some reason I can never get it to work on my TV. So I’m just going to assume that it had its usual left-wing aligned coverage.

election 2013

image thanks to news.com.au

Now, I’m not a whinger, but can some one please tell me: I understand that election is an important day on our political calendar, but why do all the channels feel the need to start broadcasting hours and hours before we even start counting? No sane person can possibly maintain interest for that long. My mind switched off after about 30 minutes of speculations, as did the sound on my TV, at which point I got a bottle of Brown Brothers Moscato out, and settled down to read Daniel Silva’s Moscow Rules.

Clive Palmer

Image courtesy of news.com.au

From time to time I was turning the TV sound back on, to get the updates on voting, and to check footy scores (sorry to all the Collingwood supporters, btw). Highlights of the election coverage for me? Palmer’s interview with Chanel 9 (I really hope he gets a seat in Parliament, for entertainment value, if nothing else) and all the losers being fed to the sharks by Chanel 7.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. My bottle of Moscato is empty, all the professional comedians are getting ready to run this beautiful country of ours, and I’m waiting for all the amateur comedians to descent onto Melbourne next March for the Comedy Festival 2014.

The Cost of Doing Business With Terrorists

The internet news services these last few days were alive with all the stories about UK selling chemical weapons to Syria (AFTER) the civil war there had already started.

Now, I’m not a whinger, BUT……WHAT THE HELL WERE THEY THINKING?!!!

Are we really consumed by greed THAT much? Quick search on Google says “yes, we are”. Here are just some examples of international madness, or as some prefer to call it, business…

Attack Helicopter

We build deadly weapons. Sell them to the bad guy.

Russia sells nuclear technology and weapons to Iran. Threatens to sell offensive weapons to Syria’s Assad if European Union will supply weapons to the rebels. More on Russia’s trades: it’s key arms customers are reportedly Syria , Malaysia, Venezuela, Algeria, China and Vietnam.

But I guess, what can else can you expect from the big bad russkies, right? Surely, our democratic, progressive-thinking western governments are opposing this madness?

Hardly.

USA’s biggest arms buyer is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. During the infighting between the forces of Mubarak and the Muslim Brotherhood, US delivered four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt. The Pentagon is looking at sending $US2.7 billion in weapons to Iraq, despite the country being on the verge of civil war. The US and Britain sold Saddam Hussein the technology and materials Iraq needed to develop nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction. Then they went to war with Saddam, looking for Weapons of Mass Disruption.

War is good for business

War is good for business

The UK Government has issued more than 3,000 export licences for military and intelligence equipment worth a total of £12.3bn to countries which are on its own official list for human rights abuses. In 2009 Britain sold £16.4m worth of arms to Egypt.

France selling to United Arab Emirates 700 million euro worth of two spy satellites. It’s not just satellites that have been sold, but also access to image processing software, the training of specialists in intelligence analysis, transmission systems and encryption .” It’s a well-known fact that French supported Iraq during the Iran–Iraq war.

As I was writing this post, I found an interesting tweet, alerting me to an article in the Examiner. Apparently, Syrian rebels admit that a gas attack was a result of mishandling chemical weapons. This is a perfect example of why this kind of weapons should NEVER be sold to any government or opposition in places like Syria, or Saudi Arabia, or Iran…the list goes on and on. 

I know that selling weapons is a big business, bringing a lot of money to companies and governments selling them, but at what cost?

Maybe we should stop sometimes and think beyond our greed, beyond immediate profit, and try to do the right thing, act responsibly to assure our children’s future.