Friday, December 05, 2008

Arts and the church. Integration vs. inclusion

I approached a guy at church this week who looked about my age. I had seen he and his wife coming for a while - I've only been at this church a year - and was always stunned that they kept coming.

To be brutally honest, they looked too worldly, too connected, too with it.

I wonder why there aren't more people like that in pews and what a rather massive segment of the population churches miss in them.

Again, to be frank (and keep my posts to a readable length) I think church appeals much more to the inner dag in people. Creativity is rarely promoted and nearly never on show.

Areas of life people enjoy in other circles - fashion, music, film, art - have no comfortable place in the modern church. So people leave them at the door, or they don't even make it through the door.

And when churches try to appeal to people who take these things seriously, it's often with the subtlety of a clanging cymbal. A one-off gallery night, a cardmaking, scrapbooking or Gingerbread House making event.

This must change.

Churches manage to include poor 'contemporary' music all too easily. They find a place for prayer book recitals despite their incongruence with the rest of the service...

We need integration more than inclusion.

Thankfully, my minister uses art in every sermon (albeit on powerpoint slides). But that's just one way it can be done.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Snow patrol – a band half-baked band on a roll

I was looking on video sites for a Snow Patrol clip (of a car driving non-stop around Paris) the other day. I came across an inspired one that made me to like the band considerably more.
Sadly, this happened before I saw them live.

Half-baked seems to be one of this rock critic terms that help deride anything the writer finds unwarranted or unlikable. Stick it with underrated or immature.

But for Snow Patrol, four UK guys promoting their second major album, half-baked is entirely accurate.

Half sure of themselves, half-produced and half-written, SP’s songs, both old and new, fall into a crater of unimportance by the second verse.
It’s not devastating, and it’s not even that surprising – maybe they have decided that ‘ponderous’ is their bag and it sells – but for me and my brother, watching last week’s gig at Sydney’s Metro Theatre, the verses stay afloat only with the suspense that they may go somewhere. They do not. Often, they do not even lead to a discernible chorus.
We kept looking to each other mid-song and yelling “NO CHORUS!”

And those that do have a clear chorus, feature the predictable build-up made famous in Chasing Cars – which inevitably bursts out with drums and guitars that were spine-tingling the first time but after the forth song does it, it’s like watching a magician do a trick everyone knows the secret to.

Other tricks they tried were the big crowd singalong.

Bono, Coldplay and Ben Folds are also very guilty of this. Some people seem to love this but after a few goes, I’m thinking ‘we didn’t pay to hear ourselves sing, guys’.

So as SP try to recapture the magic of Chasing Cars, they are spinning out songs from a mid-tempo rock-ballad vat of irrelevance.
Try not to get hit by one.

Why I say no to NO CLEAN FEED

I have been disturbed at the number of people I admire signing up to the NO CLEAN FEED groups on Facebook (example 1, 2).

They are putting their names down to support the cause of opposing the Rudd government’s plan to force ISPs (internet providers) to provide a ‘clean feed’ of a censored internet for kids and a less strict version for adults.

The debate is currently revolving around censorship with a concern by web users that it will slow their download speeds.

All number of groups – IT workers, left-wing groups and free-speech activists, all good-intentioned I’m sure - are now getting involved.

Two things

!) The list of sites the govt plans to ban has not yet been seen. No one knows any of the sites on it as it has not yet been released. Senator Conroy has been coy (and he does seem a little suspicious) but he claims the child-friendly feed will restrict “pornography” and “inappropriate” content.

2) The alarm and misinformation these groups are spreading should be rejected by people claiming to support a censorship-free internet and unrestricted free speech.

NOCLEANFEED and other groups including The Greens have compared the move toward compulsory censorship to teh actions of communist China.

Activist group GetUp – who I have supported for other human rights causes – are now pitching in with a petition peddling the same fear tactics begun, it seems, by the Greens.

“Already, the wrangling has begun for the inclusion of material relating to anorexia, euthanasia and gambling."

I asked Senator Conroy’s office where the examples of sites above came from and they stated that they ‘were not mentioned by the government but by Greens Senator Ludlum at a Senate Estimates meeting last Monday.’ This was in late October.

Another factual fudge by GetUp In their ‘factsheet’ is the use of selective quotes from the govt’s Closed Environment Testing of ISP-Level Internet Content Filtering.

I downloaded this doc and found many positives they chose not to mention:

e.g. pg 48

“Under similar test conditions, the previous trial reported that performance degradation ranged from 75 % to a very high 98 % between the best-and-worst performing filtering products.”

GetUp says “net speeds will be limited by up to 87%.” Will? They could be, if the government wanted a worse case scenario and their own websites to crash.

The GetUp factsheet says:

:Will the proposed scheme slow down the internet? The measures will make the internet up to 87% slower..."

The exact quote from the government report is:

“Performance degradation measured in the current trial varied across a significantly greater range – from a very low two percent to 87 per cent between the best-and-worst performing filtering products.”

So the net may be slowed by as little as two per cent. It would be unlikely the govt would choose a tenderer with as terrible a result as 87% when 2% was available.

Lastly, with actual facts very hard to come by form either side, the government does state: "we have laws about the sort of material that is acceptable across all mediums and the internet is no different.”

I can find no reason to oppose this.

Working in website content roles for 8 years, as I have, I am as eager as anyone to push broadband speeds and keep information as free flowing as is it wise for a democracy.

This does not extend to making any kind of opinion or material available (post a Jihad site and see what happens)

The web is a new form of information delivery that the Howard government failed to exploit. Like Facebook, the web it spreads faster and wider with increasing detail for increasingly small niches of interest than any government will ever keep up with.

Howard also misunderstood how smart young users are in side-stepping ‘netnanny’ programs and how evil by adults can propagate at a much greater rate than ever before.

The Rudd government is attempting to limit the worst parts of the internet at the ISP level. Ideally, this will stop sites none of us would ever search for, look at and if we did we would rightly be repulsed.

NOCLEANFEED is alarming people that regular sites may be blocked by faulty filters or if the blacklist is hijacked by interest groups.

There are many groups one can join in favour of fixing problems in our world. Social justice, world peace, make poverty history, support nurses, house the homeless, Aboriginal welfare etc.

The NOCLEANFEED movement, while earnest in wanting to keep net speeds up and support free speech, remains poorly informed and open to influence of anti-authority spokespeople.

I don’t think this is a moral argument when facts are being misused on both sides. If you think it is, question why NOCLEANFEED is making things up and GetUp is misconstruing the findings of independent research. Senator Conroy may be shady and hiding an agenda but until legislation is written, the plan is just a plan and its intentions – as far as they are known – are to be encouraged.

We all want fast internet and less evil infecting people’s minds.

Australians could be more constructive and courageous if they supported government moves to limit child pornography and other illegal content in a way that won’t slow our broadband. And if we managed to block a whole lot of nastiness no one should be promoting, wouldn’t that help society, protect kids and save victims of abuse?

Net censorship is a fraught area for any government to consider, even a Labor one, but if it works in the main, who cares it if it slows my net speed a touch.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Bond - Quantum of Solace - a 005 out of 10

Hype for bond was massive. But the film chose action over class, coolness over character.

Good points would be the more modern depiction of the Bond girl - Olga Kurylenko. The tradition of Bond girls is, famously, as sex objects. Denise Richards would have to be the high/low point.

Olga is real and rough. Doesn't speak much but that was more mysterious than dim-witted apathy.

I have a non sexual crush on Daniel Craig.

Less secure fellows I know freak out when I say this. But they're probly hiding a similar crush.

Lastly, the cinema played it too loud! Yes. I know I sound old but I enjoy films more when I don't have to wince.

Hoyts Broadway I'm wincing at u.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

RIP McCain

Finally, the US media is making their closing arguments - essentially on why Obama will win.

Where were these bold opinionated writers three, six or even 20 months ago?

It has been very obvious. And that's not using hindsight with many consistent polls on my side - I've been banging on about him for months (just not here on this blog)

The following blog has little to say but much can be gleaned from it.

Obama will win in a semi-landslide that commentators will want to call an 'embarrassment' if that wouldn't humiliate the aging veteran loser, Mr McCain.

MAC is BACK??? Why say that - cos it rhymes?

McDonalds have used this line too - so there goes the health conscious demo and anyone who saw Supersize Me. Mac is gone would be better.

Besides, where is he back FROM? Surgery?

Seeya old man. Stay off the fries or u might need Obama's universal health plan.


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Thursday, October 30, 2008

West Wing delivers obama

One of the most captivating an unmentioned features of this US election has been its correlation with the plot of the WEST WING 7th Season.

I am rewatching it this week to time the climax in real life with the fictitious one on the series that concluded, sadly, in 2006.

The quick summary is a relative unknown, black democrat candidate scores the nomination and eventually the presidency with rousing, inspirational rhetoric with an anti-washington tone.

I have kept a close eye on many news sites and aggregators ( , but barely seen a mention.

Then, today on CNN, warming up Obama's crowd in Florida, was Jimmy Smitts! Jimmy played the black candidate on WW.

Life doesn't just imitate art now, it predicts, reinterprets and makes real life a high-rating series worth watching.

The epilogue here is that Obama, from the platform, thanked the 'most recent democratic president, Jimmy Smits'.

I wonder how many Florida voters understood.

Postcript - "I drew inspiration from him in drawing this character," so says West Wing writer and producer Eli Attie of Obama's influence on Jimmy Smit's character Matt Santos.
Full article here:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Obamas book and faith and hope

Am up to page 206 in Barack ObamaKs second book 'The Audacity of Hope'.
I will review it later (the end perhaps?) But I can say that it is timely, inspired and induces a clarity when looking at America that I have wanted to have for years.

This passage on 206 has Barack broaching a new topic, his faith in God, and so gave me a small, deep thrill...

(With the polls looking as good as they do)

"I came to realize that without a vessel for my beliefs, without an unequivocal commitment to a particular community of faith, I would be consigned at some level to always remain apart, free in the way that my mother was free, but also alone in the ways that she was ultimately alone."

Not only does it confirm him as a solid thinker on issues outside politics but I agree with his idea that church is an expression of Christian freedom more than it is a suffocating cultural tradition.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fake lesbians

The demise of australia's leading news websites is well documented.
The tits-for-clicks phenomenon (running with bare flesh or celebs as the main picture) is just one result of the decision not to use the paper media's online face as another avenue for good journalism and stories relevant to our nation. is the worst offender.
But lo, ninemsn news, the online news site of Channel Nine, has just turned a corner by delivering us a story on 'fake lesbians' as the forth most important story facing Australians.
And it gets worse.
This story, on the apparent increase in women posing as homosexual to be cool - haven't u noticed how trendy it's become lately? - is not even the main thrust...

ninemsn is reporting breathlessly that ninemsn readers say it's fine women fake lesbianism.

I am gobsmacked but not for the right reason.

The online media - surely the least credible is reprting on itself.

I have worked at a few good websites, some in news. I once had an interview at ninemsn where an office tour showed me they had a good twenty back and front-end employees. Say, ten content producers.

Yahoo7 news has two.

By my guess, smh has about three for the homepage and theaustralian a similar number.

That leaves livenews (mostly feeds) and (about 20 across affiliates).

With this number of staff I don't see how even the daftest philosophy of 'what people want to read' can excuse such mindless, sex-based recycling of content.

I hope I never need work for any of those sites pretending to be 'news' deliverers.
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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Why Obama is not caning McCain

Why is it that the great black hope, Barack Obama not swamping Old Man McCain in the polls?

The economy is eating itself, the republicans have overseen an unforgivable and seemingly endless war and John McCain is a good senator and nice guy but well past his used by date, especially at the lectern.

Obama on the other hand, is spritely in front of a crowd, youthful sounding and eloquent etc etc. But with just weeks to go he is only just starting to pull away. Today's debate offered some hints - they are both too nice and committed to avoiding slander.

I think it's become very difficult to stand out from other contenders if u are not pulverising them with one hand and and beating your chest with the other.

That, and two comparisons of some worth:
1) palin is their pauline.
Consider this... When Pauline Hanson arrived on the scene here and divided politics to the media's great thrill, it was with plain speaking, typical mum vernacular that connected with hordes of non-latte sippers.
Add to that some ill-considered and contradictory views on other cultures, very little international awareness and sheer ignorance of current affairs.

2) Obama is their kevin07
Apart from what Kevin Rudd has become sunce elected, he campaigned for Change, differentiated himself through his (comparative) youthfulness and had a centre-left platform that aped the opposition and softened his own party's policies to a near-populist level.

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Track by track review of new ben folds - way to normal

1. Hiroshima
Hmm. This must be a deliberately ott ode to his singalong concert style or if not that, the wild crowds of Tokyo. Am worried 'they're watching me fall' line is related to his 3rd failed marriage. I smiled at the last line - does this song end?

2. Dr Yang - Grimy guitars jump out of this song like it has shocking tourettes. 2nd verse has bipolar and chorus has both - dealt with the incorrectly prescribed medication of a manic depressive drummer.

3. The frown song - rock on rock on with a fashionable frown. This song reminds me of the vulnerable first person ben voice we heard in 'give the people what they want.' Album is starting to sound like synths are making up for some thin arrangements. Lyris are wonderfully absurd.

4. You don't know me - the title is certainly for the female co-singer herein. Most light-hearted melody so far. And catchy! Touches of pavement. No sign yet of Cheers-theme cheshire piano.

5. Before cologne - finally! A breakup song. Seriously, how can he go thru three wives and think 4th time lucky!!?

6. Kylie from connecticut - another sparse number I find quietly thrilling. Sure to improve with repeats too.

7. Effington - tracks now out of order. This is filler! Crap and empty story. Not amused.

8.Brainwascht - great stomping rhythm starts this one. Dominant theme emerging; About the third track angry at a woman. Is ben turning into an old crank? Good storytelling here at least, and less whizz-bang electro additions.

9. Bitch went nuts - seems like track 8 by the title but actually a jolly swingalong number about a co-worker's comical cubicle-rage. This could become a fave. Continues the pattern of verses paying little respect to rhyming.

10. Free coffee. What a b-side; not unlike his "3 lines to go" song from the EP supersunnyspeedgraphic. Disturbingly, though, this one could be the biggest window on the artist's heart. He sings (in spoken word) of his ex-wives and children but how now he's rich he gets free coffee. Sad.

11. Errant dog - another b-side. Am I missing something? This is a very thin idea for a song. He just isn't pulling of the quirky stories as convincing songs anymore.

Coincidentally, I saw ben folds interviewed on sunrise this morning. They used just one question and answer - never a sign of a ragingly good chat.
The answer involved a pregnant pause and then the comment "experience... means not caring as much what peiple think anymore.
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Monday, September 15, 2008

Talking Business - Stuck in Google’s Doghouse -

Here is a great piece of writing on the power of Google and how this power may be tainting it with the same rep microsoft earned when they started to control too much.

Talking Business - Stuck in Google’s Doghouse - "Google’s opponents may fear its monopoly power, but the company insists that everything it does is aimed at “enhancing the customer experience” — a claim that harks back to Microsoft’s claims once upon a time. And like Microsoft, Google built its near monopoly in rather exemplary fashion: by building a better mousetrap."

This story got me interested enough to check out microsoft's share price to see if their antitrust problems had hurt their share price. Computer says no. Looks like the brand and its wealth have remained stable since the tech boom shot of a leg in late 2000.
From what i can tell the departure of Bill Gates didn't even hurt Microsoft.

That must have hurt Bill, I'd imagine.

Monday, June 09, 2008

myles lambert - the conman and the Google Search

"myles lambert" - Google Search: "Your search - 'myles lambert' - did not match any documents."
I find this remarkable, after all Myles Lambert has done. He is a wild conman - deceitful, lying, pathological and he has spent thousands of dollars that are not his. Crafty, sociological, but charming and generous.

Myles Lambert is a con artist who ripped off my family and friends tens of thousands of dollars. I have found many others who he has burnt also.
The police are looking for him.
He was last seen in the Blue mountains where he was borrowing more large amounts of money from people who he would soon disappoint. Katoomba, Glenbrook..

Contact me for more details if you would like to know more.

Rent, car, crime, unlawful, wanted, deception, conman, fraud, thief, scam, myles lambert, stolen, police, money, rent, sick, wrong, trick, pathological liar, avoid, myles lambert, glenbrook, nsw, blue mountains, sydney, myles lambert, wanted, cops, criminal, australia.

San Francisco Art Music Style Fashion Culture - Jungle Life » Search

San Francisco Art Music Style Fashion Culture - Jungle Life » Search
Sweet crazy shoes that attrcated me as I used to have this exact model of Reebok during my heavily branded youth. They are now still mass-produced for cultural uniformity but you can feel a tad more unique if you pay extra for a limited edition like these.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Man in the News - Calm in the Swirl of History -

Man in the News - Calm in the Swirl of History -
nice shot. somehow, Obama, without notes, makes profound statements without even a grin, as 18,000 fans scream.
What about how it all feels as if we are living in West Wing series 7? Anyone? More on that later.

Man in the News - Calm in the Swirl of History -

Man in the News - Calm in the Swirl of History - "But his insistence that he can bridge the nation’s ideological chasms without resort to partisan warfare leaves some with the nagging sense that he makes it sound too easy, and that his full measure as a politician has yet to be taken."
This take on Obama impressed me. He is a man who I find it hard to find fault with. Blinded by hope, but hey, lifted by faith.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Fairfax turns guns on journos | The Australian

Fairfax turns guns on journos | The Australian

Fairfax seems to not be pursuing the paper business any more. And judging by the low-grade content filling lately, web may not be their priority either. So as money has been pulled from the news room and less journos are asked to fill more pages, what has happened to our last great non-Murdoch media factory?

I have a friend who used to work at the SMH. He recently took a redundancy package, as, being a sub-editor, he noticed that every time another subby took a payout and left, he was left with increased load and no talk of even incremental pay increases to compensate. It was untenable, and sounds that way for others I know sticking it out there.

That said, his pay out must have been solid, as he hasn't had a permanent role in over six months and living in the eastern suburbs can't be that cheap.

Hundreds of journos and sub-editors have been cut in recent years. The moving in of the accountants coincided with the journos' move out of Darling Park - the glorious views from their top level cafe could see easily to the Blue Mountains.

Now, with Fairfax media located over at Pyrmont, (near where I used to work at Foxtel) the views are of the casino's pokie-style lights and the 15minute walk into town means that most Pyrmont workers settle for a steak sandwich or quiche from the local shops.

It's by no means terrible, but working in the CBD, with myriad lunch and drinking options, the convenience of meeting contacts, a parade of good fashion and the likelihood of running into friends cannot be matched. Working anywhere else feels drab and uninspiring.

I certainly found this when Foxtel moved from its harbourside wharf location, sitting under the shadow of the entire Sydney skyline, to North Ryde. They call it the next CBD. I call it purgatory without the fun.

So now, if you work at Fairfax, what do you have left? A less than ritzy location, a mgt that won't play ball
on pay discussions and website that is two steps from being a genuine threat to TMZ.

ABC's Media Watch has paid out on their Britney obsession more than once.


Like many others, celebrity coverage is not why I liked the herald. But it's the old tits-for-clicks question. If it's going to drive more traffic, can you resist making that your hero (biggest picture/headline)?

And that's not all that is wrong with Oh no.

I have a pal at Sunrise who is particularly pained by that strip of images just at the fold (bottom of screen before you scroll).

And I have to agree.

The five shots are basically celeb faces, that are invariably cropped to within a pixel of their lives, and generic, bland photos at that. E.g. youtube screen captures, TV captures, or hi-contrast red carpet ugliness.


The last great thing about Fairfax's new barney with its workers, is the still-simmering controversy over the appearance of Rupert in the office furnishings during the Pyrmont relocation.

It was a calamitous mistake by some office fitout boffins, who unfortunately, have about as much design cred as those who fitted out Foxtel's music channels (Channel V, MAX, Club V - later to become V2).

The office design was an error of quite serious proportions to a creative crowd.

Channel V, when I started, was a loud, unconventional mass of twenty-something music fanatics, the passionate, slightly unhinged type.

It was also in a dynamic, open, airy environment with all the mess of a teenager's room plus all the TVs and plasma screens of a news room. F-words and C-words were thrown about like cheetos at a party. And the space reflected the people.

Then Foxtel moved to North Ryde, a suburb that reflects little more than traffic noise.

When Channel V staff walked in, it was as a feeling as close to starting work at a call centre that any of us would ever have. Low ceilings, white furniture against white walls, and, as we soon found, some under-desk drawers were so cheap they wouldn't open.

Like the move for Fairfax workers, it was an unhappy one for the most optimistic staff who decided not leave, to see how it pans out.

Eventually, management got around to looking at the design to see what could be done. And after many committee meetings, which I was a vocal part of, the new designs appeared. Enormous stands at the end of each row of desks, depicting (kringe) mainstream rock stars, TV personalities and beside them, brand logos just as large.

So it looks like Fairfax's creative team got the same deal, uninspired office art that wasn't going to help anyone think outside the square, reconnect with their audience or feel the workplace reflected them and their peers.

And like Fairfax, we could not even recognise some of the faces. None turned out to be the opposition (which would have been MTV hosts, I guess) and so, if I recall correctly, The Dixie Chicks were replaced eventually with Beyonce.

Now that's inspiring.