Monday, June 01, 2009

Daily Scratchings (Latest Post 3 June 2009)

Daily - or maybe ephemeral - jottings as they come
to mind, and to hand

June 3, 2009

Rupert's World: NO organisation is immune from the need to revitalise, News Ltd perhaps least of all. It has been the personal fiefdom of Rupert Murdoch since its inception, after all. But it was a little odd to see his latest toy, The Punch, the new "News Blog", headlining a story today pointing out that Australia wasn't - well, technically and courtesy of Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan putting a massive bill on the people's bankcard - in recession. The headline asked: Why have we sacked all these people? Fair point (perhaps). It's clear no one is out of the woods yet, or likely to be for some little time. But Rupert Murdoch, faced with depressive figures in the News Ltd accounts that will surely impact on major shareholders (largely himself) has just engaged in one of his periodic raids on the futures of his employees. A lot of them have been bundled out of the door. Some of them probably deserved this treatment. All bureaucracies build up fat, and despite Murdoch's heroic claims to the contrary, News Ltd is nothing less than an overweening bureaucracy. Still, it might be a good question to ask the boss, if you were a more than usually courageous News Ltd employee. Or ex-employee.

All About Spiders: THE theatre of the absurd is a fine comedic principle. It is given life these days not only by the trained misfits of the thespian world but also by parliaments, at least those which permit some facsimile of direct responsibility to exist. In many places, ministers are beyond questioning. In those where they are within reach, they have created (and continually refine) the dark art of obfuscation. Today’s instant access, The Cage's proximity to the Special Biosphere, the sheer laugh-a-minute vacuity of Australian politics, and the remote chance that something of direct interest to Indonesia might arise, makes keeping an ear and a eye on question time in Canberra worthwhile. Unless you’ve got something better to do, like plucking your nasal hair. There is one welcome flash of light newly on the scene. Annabel Crabb – who could surely have been a trained misfit of the thespian world if she had not chosen instead to pursue farce through the printed word – is blogging question time for the Fairfax papers. It’s called Twitsard (after Hansard). It’s worth a look. You can find it via A highlight of Monday’s blog was the new hand sign being employed by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Annabel calls it the “live spider” to distinguish it from a previous favourite of the PM, the “dead spider”. The dead spider, by the way, looked rather more like the scrotum twist and pull manoeuvre favoured by some of the heavier enforcers in Labor Party factional politics. But Our Kev’s above all that. Perhaps he’s hoping for a spider-led recovery.

A Titanic Life: Last year a little old lady in England sold her last remaining memorabilia from the Titanic – the unsinkable (sic) British superliner of the day that hit an iceberg (and sank) on its maiden voyage in 1912. The sale was memorable because what was being auctioned belonged to Milvinia Dean, who was two months old at the time of the disaster. It raised around Rp 620 million which went towards her nursing home fees in Southampton, England. Sadly, Miss Dean – the last survivor among the few survivors of the disaster that, in the fashion of our times, Kate Winslet, Leonardo DiCaprio and Celine Dion turned into a movie and muzak nightmare – died on Sunday. The last American survivor died in 2006. Milvinia Dean was the ship’s youngest passenger. Although she had no memory of the disaster she always said it changed her life. She and her family were on their way to a new life in America but her father drowned – one of the 1,500 or so who did – and her mother took herself and her children back to Britain.

Ding Dong!:BIG Ben, the famous London clock, was 150 on May 31. He first started chiming in the British spring of 1859, the signature of an empire that ironically had suffered the first of its long series of irreversible reverses – the Indian Mutiny – only two years before. Big Ben had been chiming for 50 years before the Dutch finally succeeded in bring Bali under direct colonial control (and only 84 years before the Japanese effectively ended that vacuous experience). People with iPhones – that excludes me; I have a very nice four-year-old Motorola thank you very much – were offered the chance to download Ben’s big chimes as their call alert free of charge.


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