Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Nuclear Japan #2

The Bully is late again!

After yesterday's post in response to The Townsville Bulletin's story about Base Backpackers trashing Maggie Island, I discovered that the story was in fact first brought to light by The Magnetic Times the day before.
Editing Note:  This piece originally claimed that The Bulletin plagiarised the Magnetic Times article,but following a call from Honest George at The 'Times and the readers comments below, I accept that both articles were written from the same release.  My apologies to the Bully on that score - I got it wrong.  But it cant be all mea culpa - The Times did break the story late after all!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Base Backpackers - Questions that need answers

It was good to see the local Maggie Island Tourism lobby (TOBMI - the tourism operators group you set up because Townsville Enterprise aren't doing their job) finally having something to say about one of the negative aspects of their industry (and I suspect an operator who isn't a member of TOBMI) - Base Backpackers' monthly Full Moon parties. See today's Bulletin article here.

Base Backpackers post-Yasi. 
Repairs were started but were far from
finished before the last full moon party
Now I've blogged before (here and here) about this Base Backpackers mob and in particular about the way they manage trash the unique and privileged absolute beach-front location that they occupy on Maggie,  but today's Bulletin article has prompted me to put together the following list of questions for the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation, Townsville City Council and the coppers:
  1. Was there any inspection of the Base Backpackers site post Cyclone Yasi and before they started booking guests in to ensure that the site was safe?

  2. Was there any inspection of the site prior last weekend's to ensure that it was safe?

  3. Were there any special restrictions placed on the numbers that could be admitted to that Full Moon party given that the venue is essentially a building site?

  4. Will there be any inspection of the repair work currently being undertaken on the site to verify that it meets all relevant standards?

  5. How is it that since their early days in Ko Pha Ngan, Full Moon parties have been synonymous with one thing - getting stoned and dancing - and yet since they started on the island I've seen the sniffer dogs once - town-side at the ferry terminal checking people before they came over? Goddamn it - even this old fella knows that it's the best place to score!

  6. Is it correct that the Full Moon Party Friday is the busiest night of the month for the local coppers?  Every month?
And finally, a question for The Bulletin:  Could it be that you left the second sentence (in red) of the quote from the Chair of TOBMI out of your piece because Sunferries are major advertisers while Base Backpackers buy virtually none?:

Sunferries (also major profiteers from the Parties) are surely part of the problem and I know damn well you'd be up them if they followed the same practices on the Palm Island run!
"No tourism benefits flow from this event. Mostly the participants are inebriated before they arrive.  They continue to drink on the ferry from Townsville because the cost of the liquor at the event." 

Monday, 21 March 2011

What price for a Ponce?

So Ponce WWW has been and gone.  Although I promised that I wouldn't waste time on him again, I just can't help it - particularly after reading The Magpie's fantastic potted 'history' of the wonderful world of the Windsors.

While for days I've mulled over the writing of a tirade about the sycophantic treatment of the Ponce's visit by all of the mainstream media, I've decided to keep it brief.

The things that I noticed:
  • His 30 minute stop in Townsville to change flights probably isn't going to bring a flood of tourists

  • His 1 hour stop in Cardwell must have been a real fizzer for the locals and the hundreds that drove up from Townsville for a gander

  • That almost to a man (snide joke), Editors sent female journos to cover the visit

  • All of the still and video pics we see of the Ponce are set-up to maximise the "thronging masses" effect - turning 20 into what could be thousands

  • Most of those we see in those pics are women who seem to either be there for a perv or because they are trying to convince their little girls that yes a prince charming will really come along and make their life idyllic

  • None of the pics I saw had a black face in them - none of the mob that I know in the Hinchinbrook were to be seen

  • The BBC's coverage of this part of the Ponce's pre-wedding profile enhancing visit to the top disaster spots in the Commonwealth was brief, included the necessary happy snaps of the type mentioned above and was interspersed with dramatic file footage of the worst Yasi's rubble - not exactly the idyllic "back-in-business" images the Ponce boosters have been banging on about for the last couple of weeks.
And finally - I also noticed that the Ponce flew into Townsville on a RAAF VIP Jet and then out again (after shaking Les' hand) in a convoy of 3 Black Hawks which took him in a couple of leisurely hops up to Cairns for a bit of a crack in the Casino and to pick up the VIP Jet again to take him down south to the other disaster highlights of his tour. 

Which of course got me thinking about the cost of all of this.  Now, apparently, a VIP Jet costs $28,000 an to tie one up for the Ponce's 5-day visit of Oz's disaster highlights would cost something like $3.36 million!

And then there's the cost of the 3 Black Hawks for a day, and all of the security guys you see in the background, the coppers who are controlling traffic, the forward party who came through to check for terrorist danger spots and good camera angles, the Council crews that where were out the day before trimming the hedges, Anna taking a couple of days off work to hold his hand, etc, etc,

So... let's say the Ponce's publicity tour cost us $5,000,000 (conservatively I'd guess).  Somehow, I don't think that the report I saw on the BBC is going to result in 1,840 poms deciding to come on their own tour of recent Oz disasters - staying for 27 nights and spending $2,717 each (the national average for international tourists).

However, I am quite sure that millions watching the meeja dribble in England will no doubt be seduced by the images of a kind and caring future ruler/saviour - just what you need in the lead up to once-in-a-lifetime souvenir sales opportunity.

The reality is folks - you and I have just been milked (as has always been the way of the Windsors) in order lift the Ponce's profile (and pre-wedding souvenir sales) back home.

Postscript:  The Times has no mention of the Ponce or his Queensland visit on their site's front page and have aparently only published 4 stories about it in the last 7 days while The Sun (who make their money out of the celebrity con) has only published two!

Nuclear Japan

ByKap, Cagle Cartoons, Spain

The Townsville Bulletin - Murdoch's very own digital kamikaze?

(Too) Much has been written about the likely success of Murdoch's plans to turn his newspapers into online earners and I have to admit that for some time I've been meaning to add to that debate with some pithy localised comment like "the Townsville Bulletin can't even get people to buy it's hard copy edition - why would they buy its crap in digitalised form?"

But today comes the clincher.  The New York Times has announced its digital pricing strategy and it's gonna cost you just $15.05 (AUD) a month to read one of the most prestigious rags in the world over your breakfast. 

But, if you're still hungry for real news after reading the product of over 600 journalists and some of the best commentators in the world, you can also purchase a digital copy of our very own Townsville Bulletin for a measly $30 a month!!

Either the Bully's local management is just plain commercially stupid (we have written about that quite a bit - 97 times in fact - as of course does former 'insider' The Magpie) or Murdoch is setting them up to see just how quickly a paper can die in the digital age.

My guess is that it's the former.

Postscript: Should the Bully wake up and drop their digital prices anytime in the next year or so, I of course will take full credit :-)

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Prince, Ponce or profiteer?

Ponce W.W.W. 
I wasn't going to post about Ponce Windsor Willy of Wales' (WWW) visit to this year's disaster spots in the white parts of the world, including of course our own North Queensland.  I didn't really want to draw any more attention to the bludger than he's already getting

But having to explain to my 15 and 12 year old who exactly The Ponce is, why anyone would care and whether anyone does in fact care, has lead to this.

While no doubt a few octogenarians will get a kick out of it, I can't help but think that the Ponce's visit is, in fact, nothing more that the royal souvenir industry's equivalent to the movie, book and music industry's pre-release publicity tour.

The reality is:
  1. the Ponce is getting married some time soon (I have no idea when but that is irrelevant to the argument)
  2. the Family finances aren't real flash and there's talk of cutting their tithe
  3. that wedding is gonna be expensive
  4. the Family is also coping heaps at home from the peasants as they get screwed by the new Tory Government
So......Souvenir sales in lead-up to the wedding are critical to The Family
So......Blanket coverage across the white world of the Ponce communing with the huddled masses has to be good for sales.

Of course, apologists like those journalists and politicians who cream themselves at the thought of getting a gig with a Ponce will tell us that it will help our tourism industry by letting the world know that North Queensland was open for business.

When was the last time you watched the evening news, saw some Ponce eating sausages in the rubble of a disaster zone and thought "I must book my next holiday to that place tomorrow"?

If you happen to see him while he's out and about - tell him to go home and get a real job.

Is this worthy of the Front Page? Actually, is this a story at all?

So let me get this right...

A punter calls the Townsville Bulletin to complain that her daughter is going to get kicked out of school because she wears a few studs to hide scaring on her ear.

Realising there's no chance of a classifieds sale here, the switch puts her through journalist Alexix Gillham who immediately spots a bit of a human interest story.

Being the true Murdoch professional that she is, Gillham checks the story out.  She discovers that:
  1. The kid isn't getting kicked out of school
  2. The school has a long established uniform policy which includes rules about jewelry
  3. That policy is based on sound health and safety logic.  That's, HEALTH and SAFETY
  4. The Parent and the kid both signed their acceptance of the policy on enrolment
Seeing the conflict (and even the human interest) draining from the story, Gillam goes back to the Mum in an attempt to bring the dying story back to life:  ..."teachers at the school had far more piercings than her daughter"  - avoiding the fact that everywhere in life there are (necessarily) different rules and different HEALTH and SAFETY concerns for kids and adults.

As for the pun headline, "Lobal warfare" - it's as p*ssweak as the story itself

For the record:  My daughter attends Pimlico.  We both think it's a great school.  She'd love to wear more jewlry too but, hey, we both signed the policy.

Monday, 14 March 2011

RIP Owsley "Bear" Stanley

If you don't know who "The Bear" is, you're either are too young or you had too much of his product in the 60's!

Think "Purple Haze" and listen to The Master's tribute to the man who help change the world's consciousness (or at least a generations'), inspire some many of rock-n-roll's greatest, and was largely responsible for the Wall of Sound:

Ah! - the olden days.

See also The Bear's self-penned biographical notes or browse through his essays.  If you're too lazy but still want more, his wikipedia page is here and the San Francisco Chronicle has a good article from 2007

Thursday, 3 March 2011

It's all about what's not said

Did you happen to see the piece on Palm Island artist Billy Doolan on the 7:30 report?  If not, it is well worth a look and Billy is certainly deserving of the national attention and recognition given the quality of his work and growing international reputation . (Transcript and video here).

Watching it reminded me of an unfinished post which I'd started in response to a Townsville Bulletin article on Billy back on 17 Feb. While that article also gave Billy local attention and recognition, at the time it annoyed me that the Bully tagged Billy as a "Townsville Artist" where of course he is a Palm Island man and that the article was run well back into the paper and not (for example) headlined in the weekly Arts Section. 

There was also something very familiar about the paper's pic of Billy which I couldn't put my finger on - until I found this piece by Chris Johnson in The Age.  As soon as I read there that Billy had been a resident of Happy Valley (for non-locals, Townsville's equivalent to a "fringe camp" or "town camp") the penny dropped.

I had met Billy at Happy Valley a number of years ago.  I now clearly remembered him as a strong and proud man, a leader - far from the image of Happy Valley itinerants and drunks that The Bulletin (among many others) are so fond of betraying.

And of course, while effectively regurgitating The Age article published 47 days beforehand, the Bully managed to exclude (airbrush) any reference to Billy's association with the Valley.  After all, we wouldn't want people to get the wrong idea about that mob would we?

Their attempt to appropriate Billy as a "Townsville Artist" (that is, one of our own) became all the more annoying when I read that Billy has been living in Melbourne for half of each of the last eight years (he's clearly a smart businessman too).

Oh - and I also discovered that Billy is in fact a "major Queensland artist" - certainly worthy of more than a throw-away piece in the local rag of the town that likes to claim him as their own.

While not really surprised by The Bully's approach, I have been particularly annoyed by what appears to me to be the complete ignoring of Billy Doolan and his international standing by the arts establishment in this town - and believe me there is one.  Search the Bulletin's site for "chamber music" and you'll get 67 results.  Search Billy's name and you get just one.

Say no more

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

He's done it again

This is getting to be a habit - The Big Ewe has just been warned again by the Speaker!

I bet that at school he was one of those want-to-be's who shouted insults from behind the real bullies

There's something fishy in Townsville's water

Click to open full-size
Today's report in The Townsville Bulletin on the federal Government's response to Townsville City Council's request for clarification about it's powers to change local water pricing answers one question but raises some serious others.

Clearly from the federal Department's response (right), that power rests with the Council.

Equally clear but far more revealing, the Council has failed (consistently since 30 June last year) to meet federal guideline requirements for them to submit a pricing implementation plan.  Of course, why TCC failed to submit their plan is totally unclear.

The other thing that is very unclear to me is why exactly the CEO of a Council would write to an Assistant Secretary over a matter of some significant financial and political import. 

These days, Assistant Secretaries are between 4 and 6 on Departmental food chains. So why would a CEO write to No.4 in the opposite structure?

Would Clive Palmer write to a TCC Exec Manager (No.3 in the food chain) to get an issue resolved? I don't think so!  In fact, given that Palmer is Owner and Chairman of the Board, he would write to his opposite number, the Minister - just as Mayor Les should have!

Or perhaps they were hoping for some wriggle room in the response they would get from some clerk down the pecking order?

All-in-all, a big c*ck-up and a very fishy tactic in response if you ask me.  It will be interesting to see how fast the want-to-be Member for Mundigburra, David Crisafulli, and the want-to-be Mayor, Dale Last, run away and hide from this one!!

Jenny Hill has her own questions too.  I reproduce her Press Release below because I don't expect it to get a run in the Bully:

The letter from the Assistant Secretary of Urban Water regarding Townsville City Council request for water pricing changes should raise the eyebrows of every rate payer in this city.

If this letter is correct and I have no reason to doubt its content then the Director of Water Ken Diehm, the CEO, the Mayor, his Deputy, and other councillors involved need to be accountable for the deception they have perpetrated against residents of this city.

It clearly shows (see second paragraph of letter attached) council failed to supply any information to the Federal Government on how it would charge for water as per the agreement. "The government can not tell council what to do or how it can charge because council failed to provide the required information to the Federal Government." Cr Hill said.

The questions that need to be asked is

1. Why didn’t council staff prepare a full report on water pricing options and discuss it with the Federal Government as per the agreement? What was the direction given by the CEO regarding this matter?

2. What did the mayor and deputy mayor know?

3. Was the pricing structure implemented more about revenue to pay our massive $400 million rather than complying with the agreement with the Federal Government?

4. Why weren’t council staff directed to look at charging methods and options and prepare a report to council on these options?

"We are paying our CEO and some of our directors more than the Prime Minister, hence not only myself but the community deserves better than the trite we have been dished that ,Its the Federal Governments fault. The Mayor needs to stay home and work this out, travelling to Canberra isn't the answer."

There is nothing in National Water Initiative pricing principles that states council had to implement the current tariff and methodolgy to its water and wastewater pricing.

No it’s not the state government, its not the Federal Government, Council determines its own fate in these matters. We have borrowed too much and now the only way this council can manage its massive $400million debt is to hike its rates and water/wastewater charges to the point that they are pricing people out of this city.


Another Big Day Out for The Big Ewe

I see that the Big Ewe made yet more contributions of note in our national Parliament yesterday:
And just to confirm, The Ewe got an additional mention yesterday - a warning from the Speaker during the Suspension of Standing Orders debate:


Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Well, well, well

Tomorrow's frontpage of the Bully:

I could say "I told you so" but rather why not another prediction instead?:

The next major sporting flop in North Queensland will be the V8's
And as Rate Payer of West End posted in The Bully's comments at 3:36pm today:
"What happens to the TCC's $1M guarantee then????"

The Big Ewe's latest contribution is....

I don't really know, but I do know that the Speaker's response in Question Time today was "The Member for Herbert is warned"

Slim's Pickens: BOM V GOD and another somewhat well-known Queensland tool

In follow-up to his earlier comment, regular contributor, Slim writes:

Staying with the parliamentary performance theme could provide some revelations about the fading career of one who is far less "representative"; a line you may recall in relation to 'swill' and Keating.
John Quiggin has been amused by events during recent Senate Estimates hearings: Perhaps I am more saddened by the discovery of another parliamentary tool, but the religious tool nearly made it all worthwhile.

"The idea that the Bureau of Meteorology is part of a global conspiracy to destroy Australia’s economy impose communist world government (or in some more prosaic versions, to increase itsfunding[1]) sounds like the basis of a bad comedy sketch. But, as I mentioned a few weeks ago, this claim is put forward, in apparent seriousness, by numerous anti-science advocates in Australia (Andrew Bolt, Jennifer Marohasy, and Warwick Hughes are leading examples) and implicily accepted by many others....

Back in October last year, the Senate’s Environment and Communications Legislation Committee agreed to table a letter from Cardinal Pell which quoted heavily from Heaven and Earth to claim there were “good reasons for doubting that carbon dioxide causes warmer temperatures”.

The Director of the Bureau of Meteorology Dr Greg Ayers has now responded at an estimates hearing, demolishing Plimer’s bogus claims and pointing to numerous scathing reviews of his trashy and dishonest book. Ayers is great value, but the real fun in reading the Hansard transcript comes from the frantic attempts of Senators MacDonald and Boswell to stop him talking...
It’s great to see the Bureau taking a leading role in the defence of science. Sadly, some of those who should be speaking out, most notably the Australian Academy of Science, have been missing in action. ...

It’s also amusing to see leading figures on the political right like Pell, McDonald and Boswell expose themselves as gullible fools, along with most of the rightwing commentariat. While not everyone on the right thinks this way (as witness Turnbull’s near-victory over Abbott a year or so ago), the number willing to raise their voices in defence of science remains tiny.

Footnote1. Advocates of the conspiracy theory tend to shift between global communist and grant-grubbing theories, in a manner reminiscent of the (possibly apocryphal) Tasmanian politician who promised voters that, if they supported Federation they would build a glorious new nation under the Southern Cross and get higher prices for their apples."
Quiggin's description of Senator Ian Macdonald as a leading figure of the political right is laughable, of course. But what is hilarious is the Hansard Report between pages 104 and 109.

Cheers, Slim

See also Tim Lambert and Graham Readfearn

Of intelligent policy contributions and short memories

I see that Member for Herbert, Ewen Jones, has made it another incisive contribution to the national debate on climate change!

Although Hansard doesn't record his actual words, you would like to think that he was perhaps interjecting with some new data on the rate of melting in the arctic permafrost or a science-based solution to the projected death of the Great Barrier Reef within the next 20 to 40 years.

To be fair, The Big Ewe did make one contribution of some substance during his day in the big house yesterday.  His speech on Warren Entsch's motion on the "Loss of the Malu Sara" was, at times, considered and compassionate.  Though, it is a bit of a pity that his only acknowledgement that the five deaths that is the "Loss of the Malu Sara" happened under the former conservative Government's watch was this little line:
"I do not excuse the Howard government for their role here, but..."
By applying the same logic used by Tony Abbott to vilify Peter Garrett over the deaths of pink-batt insulation installers employed by shoddy contractors, surely the least the Big Ewe could have done was clearly acknowledge that the Howard government was responsible for the deaths of Wilfred Baira, Ted Harry, Valorie Faub, Flora Enosa and her daughter Ethena! Or maybe even apologise for his Party's culpability?