5.04.2002

WORD SPREADS of an actual readable newspaper -- written by clever, funny people -- being launched in Los Angeles. Might you wish to subscribe? Join the legions who already say "YES!" here.

AUSTRALIAN RULES FOOTBALL correspondent Doug Buskser -- he reports, AND he decides -- sends this unbiased account of Friday's game:


"For the first time this year, Collingwood beat the shit out of another team.
Last night, they absolutely hammered St Kilda. Buckley was reported, unfortunately, but the rest of the game was a walk-over. The wins over Hawthorn and Essendon were both nice, but were unexpected. This was the first game of the year which Collingwood was expected to win easily and then did so.

"The report wasn't too bad. Buckley went to punch, but collected the guy's
head instead. The only problem was that it was a bit of a round-house punch from behind, not a straight punch. One of the guys at golf (who used to play footy) said the likelihood of a suspension is probably 50-50.

"By half-time, the game was over. I actually turned off the game at three-quarter time, simply because it was too pathetic watching St Kilda get
outplayed so badly. If only, if only we'd played this well against Carlton. Then I would have watched the game three or four times."



Pies. Are. Hot. Doug should begin his own FootyBlog, but until then he's this site's official AFL writer. Go Pies!

MORE THAN a decade after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Sydney Morning Herald still has its doubts about this whole free-market capitalism experiment:


You're scheduled to have a minor operation which has now been postponed indefinitely. Your spouse used to work for Ansett. The construction of the new house has been delayed because the builder's still trying to sort out insurance. Your older kid can't fit into the right university course because the demand is so high and the places so scarce. The younger kid's school camp has been cancelled because no-one wants to take on the legal liability for accidents. You'd take a break to get away from it all - if only you had any frequent flyer points left.

Aaaaargh! Whatever happened to life as we knew it?



Yes, life as we knew it. Tariffs. Compulsory union membership. State-run everything. Worthless, soul-wrecking jobs making things nobody would buy if a wider choice were available. Good times!

Something the SMH will never understand: the failure of poorly-performing businesses is not a weakness of capitalism. It's a strength.

A LITTLE-KNOWN walking fact: people tend to walk as they drive. That is, if you live in a country where you drive on the left-hand side of the road, you'll generally walk on the left-hand side of the footpath.

(Or "sidewalk", as Americans say. Why can't we settle on a universal term? I suggest "the Irishman's autobahn".)

Anyway, when you're a left-side walker, like me, in a right-walking nation, like the US, you end up performing the Dance of the Awkward Sidewalk Idiot about three times per LA city block. Pedestrian collisions are frequent. "Make up your mind!" an elderly man muttered tonight on Sunset, after I'd hopped from side to side for fully 15 seconds.

Guess I'll stick to driving. It's safer.

LOTS OF weird right-wing hate mail arrived over the last day or so. Somebody had posted an item at a newsgroup or something using my name and e-mail address.

I apparently authored an item slamming Ronald Reagan as a killer of Marines. In one move, my ingenious enemies have destroyed every atom of right-wing credibility I ever had. These foes are simply too smart, too wily, and too resourceful. Imagine! Posting an item using someone else's identity! Who would ever have thought of it?

TOO CLEVER? BMW's new 745i is a tour-de-force of automotive engineering. But several reviewers have wondered if the complex sedan is way too complex for normal, non-Bavarian humans.

Today, within 30 minutes, I saw two drivers forced to pull over in their new robot Beemers. They couldn't work out the gadgetry. The first was in Silverlake, where an enraged woman simultaneously raced through her owner's manual while yelling for support on her cellular phone.

The second was in West Hollywood. The car had no plates, so I'm guessing it was a test drive. Some test; the driver couldn't turn off the windscreen wipers. She was working her way through every available combination of lever, wand, button, and dial in the BMW's cabin, but to no avail.

Finally a couple of bandanna-wearing loafers sloped over to help. They eventually mastered the wipers, but couldn't find any way to turn on the radio, which was the driver's additional complaint. Defeated, they withdrew to their own car: a '67 Camaro.

The primitive small-block V8 fired up instantly. And they drove away.

MY LATEST Fox column, on Australia's cultural invasion of the US ... well, it aimed at humour, but maybe fell a little short. Lots of people took it very seriously indeed, among them David Karlsson:


"Why do you have to try to start shit? You and your Aussie chest thumping. Americans like Australia the same way families like their autistic little stepbrother. I can name at least 10 American talents better in every category than where you have named Aussie 'talent', but we'd rather be friends. No doubt an inferiority complex has gripped once self confident Australia, and the need you have for a pathetic backlash has come to pass ... Are you just a bunch of pussies or what? Give my best to the Queen."




And she sends her best to you, Dave. Bret Schiller writes:


"You must be on crack. No one gives a shit about Australia here buddy. Seriously."



What is this "crack" Bret speaks of? We have no such thing in our pure, inviolate land. Perhaps Bret is talking about his old skull fracture. Steve Yeager, meanwhile, makes a genuinely wounding point:


"Yes, we could all become Australian and work hard for our $1's. Oh, I'm
sorry, it be more like a $.50 cent piece, would it not?"



Ouch. Lyle Bainbridge mounts a clever point-by-point attack:


"Kylie Minogue: The radio recently thrashing her second US hit in 14
years ... not exactly an extensive discography. Besides, wasn't 'The
Locomotion' somebody else's hit first?

"Steve Irwin: Didn't he marry an American?

"Kasey Chambers and Keith Urban: When did anybody in the world ever care
about country music?

"Guy Pearce, Heath Ledger, Hugh Jackman, Naomi Watts and Eric Bana: Hollywood
is overrun with freaks. What's a couple more? You didn't mention Russell
Crowe ... oh that's right, he's a Kiwi.

"Illuminated puck: Often mysteriously seen in the stands or other odd
places. Faulty technology? Maybe. Historical technology ... absolutely.

"Race-Cam technology: Look up in the sky Tim, and smile for the 'satellite
spy cam', courtesy of the US Government.

"1991 Capri: A short lived and rather ugly reprisal to the long standing
Miata (MX-5). I also believe it was comprised of primarily Japanese parts.

"Monaros: Half of America enjoys snow Tim. RWD on snow? I suspect the Monaro
will soon to be shredding the ditches in the United States between November
and March.

"Wine box: Do you really want to claim that one? Go ahead.

"You can't invade America. America is not a country, it's a religion. You
can't invade it ... it absorbs you.

"Fox News (Rupert Murdoch): Ok, we'll give ya ten points for that one."



Nice line about America as a religion, Lyle; possibly worth expanding on. I'll only dispute the idea that rear-wheel-drive equals snow-driving chaos. You want to plough nose-first into a snowbank aboard an understeering front-driver, Lyle, you go right ahead.

Michael D. Setty withdraws the 10 points awarded for King Rupert:


"Oh, yeah. The Aussies also gave us Rupert Murdoch, your boss!! It’s time for war, mates!!"



Pushing an obvious agenda, Bill D'Amato -- president and founder (and sole member?) of the Olivia Newton-John fan club -- sends this:


"You forgot the Aussie Diva that started it all---Olivia Newton-John.
Remember Grease? Let's Get Physical? You need to bush up on your Aussie
history. By the way, she is still going strong and should be given an
honorable mention."



And there she has it. Jim McGrane points out one of many "reverse invaders" who've moved from the US to Australia and adopted Australian-like form:


"What about Mel Gibson? He moved to Australia from Balston Spa, NY when he was a
youngster."



And I think he's now returned to the US, more or less permanently. Greg Cranham says the US is, in some ways, already more British than Britain:


"Reunite us with the Crown? OK, but we're the ones preserving a few
things that the rest of the English-speaking world, loyal subjects of Her
Majesty or not, has unwisely dumped. Like a system of weights and measures
that is not used by the French.

"Enjoyed your article anyway. Being a geologist, I confess to wanting to
visit a few spots in the Outback myself. And I suspect I'll be as welcome
there as you folks are here."



He's right. We love our rock-doctors Downunder. Plenty of hot rock action for them to check out, too. Ken Summers wonders:


"BTW, do you talk with an Australian accent? You don't write with one."



Mate, if I did, nobody would understand me. Here's a sample of "written Australian":

"Oim 'ere in Elay at me old cobber Kin Layen's digs. Ker-rist! Iz missus is a top sort, and Kin -- e's a perfessional roiter -- larvs a drink or two. Yisterdee we watched a barskitball game. Poofters! No bastard went the knuckle, not even Shack, the big bloke. E's farkin huge! Must have a donger on im like a baby's arm."

Translations available on request. Charlie Horgan points out possible barriers to Australia's plans:


"Two things will deny the final OZ solution to the US:

1. We do not like to be REQUIRED to vote in any election

2. Marmite"



Extra bonus points for mentioning Vegemite's lesser-known competitor. On that subject, here's Major Steven Flanagan:


"This isn't the first time you've pointed out the blending of American and Australian cultures, but until such time as Vegemite becomes a staple of each child's lunchbox there is still work to be done."



Tomorrow I'm dumping three tons of the stuff in LA's water supply. Submit, Americans! I've heard the ad to which Russell Spreeman refers, and concur:


"I think if I was an Aussie I would be unhappy at the thought that, at least based on the radio commercials I hear for Outback Steakhouse and other places, that apparently Australians all sing like chipmunks on helium!"



Russell's suspicions would increase if he heard some early Kylie. From Eric Harrison:


"Nice story. You did however leave out The Wiggles. Or are they from New
Zealand? Either way it's all the same to us Yanks."



The Wiggles are from hell. Scott Montes makes me feel bad, because I actually thought about writing something along the lines he suggests, but opted instead to scribble something light and jokey:


"I enjoyed your comedic article regarding the
Australian invasion of America. There is a serious
point of which your article reminds me and most
Americans don't recognize. America always has and
always will attract the majority of the best and
brightest, whether it is for ideals or money."



Next time, Scott. Fellow blogger Jonathan C. Wishnia sends a much-needed antidote to the earlier savage criticism:


"I don't think I've mentioned this before: You have, by far, the best
by-line I have ever seen. (I refer, unsurprisingly, to your enviro motif)."



Down with electric cars! Up with blogs! Onwards, Australians!

5.02.2002


"THERE COULD be a cell in Sydney planning a terriers act in Italy."



Well, there could be. Anything is possible in Margo Kingston's exciting world.

MAY DAY WRAPUP:

These protesters know special secret things. For example, they are aware that John Howard is not merely the Prime Minister of Australia; he is also the Grand Duke Wizard of Nike, a post they urge him to abandon:


FOUR thousand May Day protesters have called for "Howard's head" while rallying outside a Nike store
in central Melbourne.



In Sydney, protesters were so terrified that they had to throw fireworks and marbles:


M1 spokeswoman Zanny Begg said police provoked the violence.

"The police basically used horses to intimidate people and I think what the police are trying to create in the eyes of the media and the public is this is a violent movement," she said.

Ms Begg said she had heard a small number of protesters threw fireworks and marbles at police horses but probably did so because they were frightened.


Naturally, obvious points were made regarding Australia's status as a monotheistic hellstate:


A masked protester smashed a television with a sledgehammer before setting fire to an effigy of Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock.

Rally leaders chanted through megaphones "Burn Ruddock Burn" and "Lock up DIMA, free the refugees" before playing a tape from what they said was an asylum seeker who escaped from the Woomera Detention Centre over Easter.

The voice likened Australia to the Taliban, and strongly criticised the conditions inside Woomera.



Some people, observing events from a secure, undisclosed location at Ken Layne's house in Los Angeles, thought the protesters were yak-like.

HERE'S HOW the Sydney Morning Herald covered Tuesday's May Day debacle:


Just after 10am, the police horses started to wheel. Off Clarence Street they came, onto the footpath at a fair clip, 10 of them, two abreast, forcing a path through the May Day protesters - bumping, bustling, buffeting.

"Get out the way, get out of the way," shouted one of the policewomen, the tension plain in her face. It was a bit difficult; protesters were up against a tree, others were hard against a planter box, others were hemmed in by police behind them.

The protesters screamed obscenities, one spat on the police officers, another threw horse manure, at least one threw marbles under the horses to trip them up. Firecrackers went off.

For reasons that at the time were not clear, the 10 mounted police wheeled again and came back through the crowd.



Actually, the SMH covered the near-riot differently the first time around, placing a great deal more of the blame with the protesters. In a piece by Matt Thompson, we learnt of protest organisers who denied any marbles were being thrown at horses even as those marbles were rolling along Clarence Street; that one protester defended violence against police because the only real violence was "state violence"; and sundry other stupidities committed by retards.

Thompson's article lasted only a few early AM hours before it was banished from the SMH website. Over to you, Mr Independent Media Watch Guy.

BEHOLD, THE brave new voice of Australian rap!
Snoop Crocky Croc -- otherwise known as Adam Dunn -- picked up a lazy five grand at a recent Sydney rap fest, where his astonishing wordplay made every other competitor puke with self-loathing:


I disagree with the way our rights are disintegrating.

Who's with me? Play your part - start participating.

Unions brought about lots of what you are handed,
benefits and rights that you might take for granted.



Dunn is an accountant who lives with his parents. Fight the power!

4.28.2002

BLOG BIRTHS: welcome Margostan refugee Don Arthur, veteran US journalist Howard Owens, and Sullivan foe Vaara.

SOME NEW newspaper is being talked about in Los Angeles. For all your latest new-newspaper-in-LA news, go here.

NOBODY HERE but us peaceful asylum seekers ... The Age reports:


Agents of Saddam Hussein's secret intelligence service, the Mukhabarat, are among asylum seekers being smuggled to Australia and other Asia-Pacific countries, according to Iraq's exiled opposition.

Recent high-level defectors from Mukhabarat have told the Iraqi National Congress - an umbrella organisation of Iraqi opposition groups established by the American Central Intelligence Agency in 1992 - that Iraq gleans its best intelligence from agents posing as asylum seekers across the world, including Australia.

The defectors have claimed that Mukhabarat agents posed as asylum seekers in order to spy on dissidents in their host countries and to raise cash for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program.


TEN YEARS after the Rodney King riots. A short piece
by me in The Australian.

MARGO KINGSTON, conscience of a nation, believes that Australia's anti-terrorist legislation would put her in prison.

According to Margo, the new laws also have a down side.

TO COMBAT any homesickness, Layne made a few phone calls today and arranged to have an Australian, Hugh Jackman, host tonight's Saturday Night Live. Layne is a kind fellow, despite appearances.

Like many Australians in the US, Jackman exaggerates his Aussie accent to the point of parody. He sounds like an Australian who's been put through some Australianizing process to increase his Australiananity. G'doi, moit! Har yer goin', digger? Orright?

My own extremely neutral and non-exaggerated accent causes enough trouble. The order-taker guy at Fat Burger gave up trying to understand my request for a cheeseburger after three attempts; I had to drive to the window and complete the order using a combination of mime and semaphore. How does Jackman survive here?