Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Bottom of the Internet

Computer technology, and in particular the internet have highlighted the generation gap like nothing before. Older generations fear and avoid it, younger generations love it and are eternally online.

One thing that has galvanised this divide, with each group using it as evidence to justify their position, is Kim Kardashian’s bottom.

Actually, when it comes down to it, everything about the Kardashians could be tabled as evidence.

A woman who is famous for have a sex taped leaked used the power of the internet to create a multimillion dollar income by doing not much of anything. It could be argued that at the beginning she was attractive. This argument is increasingly difficult to maintain as the cosmetic surgeries and airbrushing of photos  - a result of the Kardashian’s tight control of their “image” - she now resembles a caricature of herself.

The recent image of her derrière is bizarre at best. Is she competing with Niki Minaj to see who can have the most ludicrously large, artificially enhanced bott-bott?

For older generations the fact that Miss Kardashian is famous in the first place is proof of how dangerous the internet can be and why one should be cautious in its use.

Your younger generations the Kardashian Klan are aspirational. They can become rich and famous without having any discernable skills or talents.

Google is so big that it is now a verb. People google everything, and Google always knows the answer. The most powerful processor in the world will never be able to answer is why did her bum make news?

Friday, November 14, 2014

G20: The Good & Bad

The G20 is in Brisbane this weekend.

That’s good.

No, that’s bad. It means big sections of Brisbane are now closed for security reasons

That’s bad.

No, that’s good. It means a lot of people don’t have to work this weekend.

That’s good.

No, that’s bad. It means a lot of people are able to protest all of their different causes in front of the world media.

That’s bad.

No, that’s good. It will give all of the hundreds of security personnel at the event something to do.

That’s good.

No, that’s bad. It might make it easier for a terrorist attack to occur.

That’s bad.

No, that’s good because the Russians have sent their battle ships for just such an event.

That’s good.

No, that’s bad. Australia does not like people arriving uninvited by boat.

That’s bad.

No, that’s good. It will be funny to watch the Australian navy try to tow the Russian flotilla into Indonesian waters.

That’s good.

No, that’s bad. It would be another incident in Tony Abbott’s long list of embarrassing international blunders and gaffs.

That’s bad.

No, that’s good. His blunders mean no one is expecting Abbott to actually “shirtfront” Mr Putin, over the Malaysian Airline incident.

That’s good.

No, that’s bad. It could be the biggest news to come out of the G20 summit watching Putin bare-chested (after wrestling a crocodile or similar) Abbott in just is red Speedos charging at each other like two bull seals on heat.

That’s bad.

No, that’s good. Putin is a 9th degree black belt Master on Taekwondo.

That’s good.

No, that’s bad. Abbott just likes to ride bicycles and swim.

That’s bad.

No, that’s good. Instead of shirt-fronting or “frank and honest political dialogue” they could compete in feats of strength.

That’s good.

No, that’s bad. Not only is that plagiarising Seinfeld (Festivus) the ridiculous outfits the world leaders will be forced to wear will make it difficult to compete.

That’s bad.

No. that’s good. The media, bloggers and comedians will be able to ridicule them for their appearance.

That’s good.

No, that’s bad. Putin is not known for his sense of humour.

That’s bad.

No, that’s good. He might Crimean river.

That’s bad – a bad pun

No, that’s ugly

Monday, November 10, 2014

It's Just Not Cricket

I enjoy cricket in any form; tests, one-dayers, French, backyard and even 20Twenty or T20 as it is now called (because everything about this game must be as short as possible). What I don’t enjoy in T20 is all of the entertainment add-ons. They have made the game itself so small that the promoters have had to upsize it.

If anything these extras detract from the game or only go to accentuate how lacklustre a game is when the players do not live up to their collective reputations.

I attended the T20 match between South Africa and Australia at the MCG on Friday night. In their innings South Africa meandered to a total of 101 runs. This is not the foundation of an exciting match.

The fireworks were used sparingly following Wednesday’s match in Adelaide where the pyrotechnics nearly set fire to Aaron Finch’s face as he fielded a ball from the boundary. They are used at the beginning of each innings as players enter the field but they are no longer used when a batsman scores a 4 or a 6. This was not a big issue Friday night as there were few boundaries scored.

Then there are the performers on 3 stages set up in the grandstands around the ground. The three acts were A dancing group, BMZ riders and a fire twirler. If any of these acts turned up for an audition for Australia’s Got Talent they would not be “going to Sydney!”

The dancers were performing loosely choreographed routines to a set catalogue of music. This might be unfair they might have been tightly choreographed and just not rehearsed or poorly performed. They were almost in synch with each other, performing night club style dancing. Not at a quality you would see on a stage or in a cage at a night club, more a drunken jammed into an overcrowded dance floor type style.

The dancers were better than the BMX riders. The dancers knew more than one dance step. The BMX guys performed one trick repeatedly ALL night. Standing with one foot on the hub of the rear wheel, front wheel in the air, they then pushed the rear tyre with their other foot causing the bike to do upright pirouettes. That’s it. ALL night. And they weren’t particularly brilliant at it.

Regardless of the rider that was the only trick performed. ALL night. No jumps, no bouncing, no tricks with the front wheel, no headstands. Just pirouettes. ALL night. I was thinking that perhaps I was not the target audience for this entertainment when I realised that all of the crowd around me were ridiculing them. Regardless of age or gender the crowd was openly laughing at them, begging for more tricks and stunts, but to no avail.

The fire twirler did just that, twirled fire. Of the three stages this was the most entertaining. His twirling may have been limited by safety concerns with risks of setting fire to the stadium or other spectators. His act could have definitely been improved by some fire swallowing and spitting, it would have broken the monotony of the 3 hours of twirling.
These acts are being paid for their performance, making them professional. 

If the game had been more exciting then these performances would have gone largely un-noticed but in a quiet game they became quite obvious as did their limited talent. If the players have to prove their ability to be selected in the team on the field then the off-field entertainers should have to do the same

The ground announcements did not help the situation either. “Make some noise” and “Get excited” appeared on the electronic scoreboard periodically throughout the game. The crowd obediently did cheer and make some noise but with as much enthusiasm as a parent watching a 7 year old’s first violin recital. If the game was delivering on its promise the crowd would be making a noise out of genuine excitement. The crowd might have also turned up.

The MCG was only 20% full with 21,538 people attending Friday’s match. Compare this to the 91,112 or 91% capacity who attended the first day of the 2013 Ashes test match.

Ironically T20 was designed to attract bigger crowds because it was believed that 5 day test matches were too slow and boring to attract big crowds.

Quality matches between quality teams will sell tickets. Did any parent say to their family “let’s go to the T20 game on Friday” only to have the kids grizzle about it but convince them to attend because there would be “average at best performers on stages around the ground that will be too far away to see properly”. Oh thanks Dad, you’re the best!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Melbourne Cup (Media) Tips

It is Spring Racing Carnival time again, and Australian television news lifestyle editors could not be happier. There job could not be easier. Melbourne Cup coverage on evening news, the night of the “race that stops the nation”, will be the same as every other year.

The newsreaders are most likely to located trackside, and will definitely be dressed in race going finery with the distinct possibility of top hat and tails for the men and some ridiculous head piece for the women.

The broadcast will commence with commentary and footage of the winning horse crossing the finish line and then in the mounting yard wearing its ribbon whilst trainer and jockey hold up the cup, owners standing awkwardly in the background.

To complete your Melbourne Cup news bingo card select from the following “news” stories, which will appear somewhere throughout the news broadcast. Will yours be aired first?

a.     A piece about the amount of food and alcohol consumed on the day at the track. The food will be compared to either the weight or volume of bases or the volume of the MCG (in Melbourne everything of large quantities is compared to the MCG). The alcohol volume will be measured in Olympic swimming pools.
b.     Total number of people through the gate
c.     The amount racegoers and the country in general gambled away. To encourage everyone to gamble again next year there will also be mention of the total winnings and some ridiculous one off bet that paid off.
d.     Celebrities, who attended Flemington and at which marquee were they a guest. If previous years are any guide the international celebrities will be C if not D grade celebrities if they are known at all in Australia.
e.     Fashion on the field. This will have many sub sections
i.      The catwalk competition of ordinary race goers vying to win a sash.
ii.     Fascinators (which ironically are not that fascinating) and hats
iii.   Token men who actually look good.
iv.   Fashion editors will also find some woman’s outfit they deem to be inappropriate and portray it as a scandalous controversy even though no one had even noticed the outfit until they splashed it across the screens in primetime.
v.     The same fashion editors will also create a montage of people wearing something similar to demonstrate this years’ trend. Spots, stripes, pastels, bold prints, black, pink etc. Of course with so many people at the track the chances are that there was equal number s of punters wearing each of these styles.
vi.   Token men wearing bright coloured suits, this is always a group of men.
vii.  Costumes; Smurfs, Where’s Wally, Ritchie Benaud (yes he is a cricketing legend but how many costumes do people own?)  and Mario are always popular
f.      General punters, like fashion there will be many sub sections
i.      Crowd shot of people cheering without abandon towards the end of the race as they realise they are backing the winner.
ii.     Crowd shot of people realising they have not backed the winner and pretending not to care
iii.   A group on 6-10 people sitting on the ground sharing a picnic oblivious to the amount of room they are taking up or that there is a race on
iv.   A couple having a good snog
v.     Drunk people bonus points, if it is someone unconscious on the grass at the end of the day
vi.   Women carrying their uncomfortably high shoes in their hand walking barefoot or in their boyfriends shoes
vii.  Drunk 20 somethings yelling incoherently as they pass the camera
g.     The reporter
i.      Pretending he is drunk (it is always the male reporter) or at least claiming he is pretending to cover up the fact that he is actually drunk.
ii.     The same reporter being a bit leery with some of the female punters
iii.   The same reported walking slightly dishevelled from the track towards the tram stop at the end of the day
iv.   A reporter “bonding with the crowd” sitting with them, toasting nothing in particular (usually with champagne the reporter has taken from the punters)
v.     Reporter standing in the loudest most intoxicated section of the crowd to show how “fun” the “atmosphere” is. Said crowd will yell and scream on queue and someone will do something obscene in the background.
h.     Random historic fact or record. A researcher has quickly looked on Google or Wikipedia to discover that this is the first time the winner has been trained by a left-handed ginger hermaphrodite or the stableboy’s best friend is the great great grandson of the person who stitched the saddle blanket worn by the winner on the 1907 race. The more detailed the fact the less impressive it is.
i.      Public transport, because apparently it is news that the trams are a bit packed when 100,000+ people all try to get on them at the same time.
j.      Coverage of the actual race will not occur in its entirety until the sports section of the broadcast
k.     The broadcast will end with the same footage with which it started. The same footage will have been repeated at least 3 other time throughout the news.

My bet is that all of these will be included. On every channel.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Children's Scams

Thamel region in, Kathmandu Valley, Nepal it is not unusual for tourist s to be approached by women specifically “not asking for money” but instead carry a young child and an empty doll-sized milk bottle. The women are hoping the unassuming tourist will buy them baby formula for their child. Baby formula cast around 1,000NPR (rupee) or US$10.

This scam always takes place adjacent a store selling the very product being requested. This is not just a convenient coincidence. The sales staff at the cash register are in on the scam. The mother and child escort the tourist into the store to locate the requested formula, The little group now move to the cash register to complete the purchase. The kind-hearted tourist then gives the mother the much needed baby formula and leaves the seen to continue their sightseeing and souvenir shopping. The mother then returns the baby formula to the cashier who cancels the sale. The mother and cashier then split the money, 500NPR each. The formula is returned to the shelf. Everything is reset to start the scam again.

A few clues that this is a scam.

  1. The number of times it occurs.
  2. How clean baby bottle is, clearly never actually used to feed milk to a baby.
  3. The age of the child. Occasionally they actually use a baby, sometimes a toddler, sometimes a pre-schooler, sometimes there is no child at all.

Old Town in Ecuador’s capital, Quito there is also a more common baby scam, The mothers do not tourist to simply buy formula. They want you to save their infant. Admittedly they have “tripped” and are “dropping” their baby. Dropping = throwing. The scam is they want tourists to assist by catching their unleashed offspring. Then the mother gives their new hero a very emotional thankyou complete with numerous hugs.  The hugs allow for the mother or her anonymous friends who just happened to see it all unfold to pick the tourist’s pockets.

It is much harder to not catch the baby than it is to not by formula.

Nationally across Australia the scam is the sense of entitlement of parents. Some prams are now bigger than small cars and nearly as expensive, so the family “needs” to buy a 4 wheel drive so they can fit in the pram. These prams do not fit easily in shopping aisles, public transport or restaurants. The special problem is never the fault of the doting parents.
Do prams needs suspension, wheels capable of going off road and enough storage to fit enough food, clothes and toys to survive a nuclear holocaust?

Supermarket managers are succumbing to this scam by creating parent parks. Like disabled parking they are close to the entrance of the store, unlike disabled parking they are not enforceable by law or regulation. Surely these state of the art, NASA designed, baby vehicles are designed for the comfort of the child and the ease of pushing for the parent. So get your money’s worth push the bloody thing from the other side of the car park. Like every other mug who arrives to discover that 10,000 other people have also just popped down to the shops.