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Made of fire and caffeine from the very depths of nature's space - of the future.

Supermoons aren’t that special – but the Moon absolutely is

Dear The Internet,

Want to know a secret about supermoons? They’re not that rare, not that special, and not obviously different to normal moons unless you’re really familiar with what they look like normally.

But here’s a secret about the Moon: it’s FREAKIN’ AWESOME and any excuse to make people go outside and look at it is a good one.

"There's a moon in the sky / It's called the Moon". You nailed it, B-52s.

“There’s a moon in the sky / It’s called the Moon”. You nailed it, the B-52s.

The Moon is unique because it’s made out of a bit of Earth that was blasted off and congealed in orbit. No other moon in our solar system appears to have been created that way.

Generally moons are made of bits of detritus from the formation of the solar system that clumped into vaguely spherical bodies around bigger planets (which is how most of them were probably formed), or captured asteroids (Mars’ tiny moons Phobos and Deimos, which will eventually crash to the surface) or cometary bodies that got trapped by gravity (everything orbiting around Pluto, and Neptune’s moon Triton orbits in the opposite direction to  the planet’s many other moons because it was an interloper that passed too close, which is incredibly weird and great).

Our Moon was created in a catastrophic collision between the newly-formed Earth and (we now think) a small protoplanet that was moving very, very fast about four and half billion years ago while the solar system was still forming.

What’s even more awesome is that it’s basically the reason you exist.

Earth has nice predictable seasons because the Moon’s gravity stops Earth wobbling wildly on its axis the way that, say, Mars does, meaning that life had a chance to get going without the entire place becoming encased in ice as a hemisphere turned away from the sun or burned to a crisp from millennia of direct sunlight.

That might be the reason there doesn’t seem to be life teeming all over the universe: maybe those first replicating chemical processes develop easily enough, but most planets don’t have stable temperatures that would let complex molecules develop long enough to establish that early foothold for life. After all, life started on Earth about 3.8 billion years ago but didn’t get more complex than bacteria for around three billion years. So life would appear to have needed things to be stable for a good long while in order to get its act together down here. And the Moon provided that.

Also, those dark bits that make it look like a face: that’s ancient lava flow. The Moon used to be geologically active. That’s goddamn amazing.

Oh, and by pure coincidence you’re fortunate enough to live in the only period in history where the Sun and the Moon are the same size as seen from Earth: the Moon used to be much closer and is slowly moving away from us (an echo of that collision that created it), but right now it’s the perfect size to completely block out the Sun during a solar eclipse. Seeing a total solar eclipse might be one of the rarest experiences in the universe, and Earth gets to do it every year or so.

The Moon: it’s incredibly fascinating and crucial to the existence of every species, including us. Our ancient civilisations weren’t crazy to worship it.

So it’s definitely worth a glance now and again.

Yours ever,

APS

The Top 10 Names I Have Falsely Claimed To Be Calling My Forthcoming Child

Dear The Internet,

You know it makes sense.

You know it makes sense.

One of the simple joys about impending fatherhood, aside from hoping that my child will be born independently wealthy, has been responding to questions from friends, family and impertinent strangers as to whether or not we’ve settled on a name.

These have been the standard answers thus far, generally made while maintaining unblinking eye contact.

  1. Smashmouth
  2. Chewbacca
  3. Optimus Steve
  4. !!!
  5. Doctor Professor
  6. Voyager 3
  7. Cthulhu
  8. [The Full Name of the Person I’m Speaking To]
  9. Gough
  10. Andrew P Street II: The Streetening

At least three of them aren’t necessarily jokes. Can you guess which ones?

Yours ever,

APS

Some events and updates and things

Dear The Internet,

Look, it’s been a busy few weeks.

First up, The Curious Story of Malcolm Turnbull: the Incredible Shrinking Man in the Top Hat is out through Allen & Unwin, on shelves and being bought by people. It was launched last week at Better Read Than Dead in Newtown and it went very well, thank you.

Every home should have this wall.

My columns are still columning away at the Sydney Morning Herald, trying to make sense os what the hell is going on in politics and the nation.

The Guardian very kindly included The Curious Story of Malcolm Turnbull in their round up of the best books of the month, along with excellent pals and colleagues including Holly Throsby (whose novel Goodwood is magnificently quirky and fascinating), Clementine Ford (whose Fight Like A Girl is deservedly already a bestseller) and Lee Zachariah – who, as it happens, appears on the new episode of the Double Disillusionists podcast, which is up at Soundcloud and iTunes!

Dom and I talk to Zachariah about his simultaneous coverage of the election campaign and the collapse of his marriage, as illustrated in his very entertaining book Double Dissolution. Which you should read. Also, he’s very funny (so you should listen to it right now, frankly).

On a completely different note, I also fulfilled a lifetime dream of writing a cover story for Rolling Stone – an extensive interview with Jimmy Barnes. It’s in the current issue, andI can’t tell you what a thrill that was. He was a fascinating gent.

Anyway, there are some events coming up this week!

First up, on Friday 14 October I’m speaking at Stanton Library at 1pm: you can book a spot here, and it’s actually filling up remarkably swiftly.

Then on Saturday 15 October I’m speaking at Littérateur: A Festival for Word Nerds at the Old Fitz, talking about the art of politics writing with the Guardian’s Gareth Hutchens. It’s the very first session of the day at 10am, so I’ll understand if you’re hungover.

And there are more events to come. Updates will follow.

Hope to see you at them, if you’re about.

Yours ever,

APS

I HAVE THE BOOK IN MY HANDS IT’S A REAL THING!

Dear The Internet,

In late February 2016 I finally convinced my editors at Allen & Unwin that I should absolutely write a follow up to The Short and Excruciatingly Embarrassing Reign of Captain Abbott, on the grounds that a) things were clearly getting very interesting and weird in federal Australian politics, and b) this seemed like a lot more fun than the book I was actually working on.

There ain't no feeling like here's-that-book-you-wrote feeling.

There ain’t no feeling like here’s-that-book-you-wrote feeling.

“More fun” is, of course, a relative term because – at the risk of ruining the tantalising romance of writing – trying to research and write a book on politics, as it’s happening, while also holding down a five day a week column is whatever the opposite of “fun” is.

Still, five months of frantic, occasionally painful effort later, I’m now gazing at my new 90-something-thousand word baby and thinking “OK, when do we start on the next one?”

Yes, it was a close run thing since The Curious Story of Malcolm Turnbull: the Incredible Shrinking Man in the Top Hat goes onto shelves on Monday, but now I have my own copy and feel genuinely relieved that I don’t have to photocopy a bunch of them for the launch.

Which, incidentally, is WEDNESDAY 28 SEPTEMBER at Newtown’s Better Read Than Dead – it’s free, but you’ll need to register here and I’ll be signing whatever anyone wants me to sign: my books, other people’s books, small animals, slow moving vehicles, whatever. Please note that there will also be wine.

Said launch will be hosted by my friend and fellow Double Disillusionist Dom Knight – and, speaking of the podcast, we did a new one just the other day with the amazing, entertaining and wonderfully gossipy Alice Workman, BuzzFeed’s Canberra-based politics wrangler.

I really hope you enjoy the book. I’m genuinely proud of it.

Hopefully see you at some book-related thing soon, friends.

Yours ever,

APS

PS: Why not read a little excerpt from the book all about the plebiscite?

The Curious Story of Malcolm Turnbull is ALMOST HERE!

Dear the Internet,

If you have been looking at the current nightmare of bad policy, internal discord in the Coalition, Liberal backbenchers openly contradicting their leader amid upper- and lower-house embarrassments and thinking “how the actual hell did Malcolm Turnbull manage to go from record high popularity to… well, this… all in twelve short months?” then I have some good news!

9781760294885-1The Curious Story of Malcolm Turnbull: the Incredible Shrinking Man in the Top Hat is mere days away from release, once again through the good people of Allen & Unwin!

It lands on shelves on Monday 26 September, which is… good god, that’s soon. Very soon.

And you can order it from Booktopia RIGHT NOW if you fancy it: here’s a link! Also, how beautiful is that cover? Robert Polmear, you’re a staggeringly talented human being. I think we should run off some posters and/or beach towels.

And if you’re thinking “heavens, APS, how did you write 85k words in the space of a few months while also holding down your regular column and that other writing you seem to do?” then know it’s because I love democracy, this nation and, most of all, you. And also because I’m a bloodyminded bastard with easy access to caffeine and a playful disregard for living a balanced life.

ALSO! There will be an In Conversation event happening in October at Gleebooks on Tuesday 11 October, where I shall be chatting away with the charming and erudite Rebecca Huntley, she of Radio National and the ABC and book-writin’ and generally being an exceptional brainbox. I shall put details up as we get ’em.

I’m really proud of this book (and the last one, I should add). I hope you enjoy it too – or whatever the equivalent of “enjoy” is when you’re getting more and more frustrated about parliamentary inaction and find yourself yelling “seriously? What say you just do your damn job, you muppets!” at a book.

There’ll be more events, hopefully in non-Sydney locations, that I’ll rattle off as we lock ’em down.

Please pop along and say hi. I’ll write something illegible in your book, if you like. It needn’t even be one of mine, I’m not fussy.

Yours ever,

APS

Books and columns and updates-a-go-go!

Dear The Internet,

I had every intention of getting this up on Friday, but I got sidetracked doing a lot of the writing and frantically attempting to get life in some sort of order that humans so often do these days – including some last minute legals to prevent certain members of the government from flexing their litigation muscles. But I am happy – not to say incredibly relieved – to report that The Curious Story of Malcolm Turnbull: the Incredible Shrinking Man in the Top Hat is at least 70 per cent funnier than I remembered it. It was, after all, written in something of a panicked fugue state.

Suffice to say that said book is still on track to be in your hands – and in your hearts – in October via the good, good people of Allen & Unwin, and that there should be launches and things to announce. Honest.

And there’s some other bits and pieces coming out shortly, refreshingly not of a political nature, but in the meantime the new episode of the Double Disillusionists is up now (with Chaser co-founder Charles Firth), and here’s last week’s Views from the Street columns at the Sydney Morning Herald, listed below.

And there’ll be a new column up today… shortly… I should probably start writing it, actually…

Cheers,

APS

 

He also got very sad about this photo, so definitely don't circulate it around.

New book in October! More writing! It’s all happening!

Dear the Internet,

So, last year I wrote a book, and now for some reason I’ve written a second one! It’s actually finished and everything.

Coming out almost a year to to the day after The Short and Excruciatingly Embarrassing Reign of Captain Abbott, the world will get a second volume about Australian politics with an even more unnecessarily long and ridiculous name: The Curious Story of Malcolm Turnbull: the Incredible Shrinking Man in the Top Hat. (Please note – and I mean PLEASE note – the bit where it refers to the first book as “bestselling”. I’m going to be dropping that into conversation as often as possible).

Friday afternoon still life, with cat.

Friday afternoon still life, with cat.

I’m frantically proofing the final layouts at the moment, and it’ll be on shelves in October via the fine people of Allen & Unwin. I’ll put some excerpts up here between now and then, because dammit, it’s been a labour of impossibly panicked love. And it’s got some very funny bits, honest. And even more footnotes.

There’ll be a launch of some sort and an actual publication date, the details of which I will… um, advise. Soon. Honest. Once this headache subsides.

Also, the Double Disillusionists podcast took a couple of weeks off to go “…the HELL?” about the election, but now we’re back!

Also, I thoroughly recommend The Hansard Monologues at the Guardian, and here’s this week’s worth of writin’ at the Sydney Morning Herald, where m’column pops up every Mon-Wed-Fri. Think of it as a View from the Street rant-digest.

I’ll put some tantalising bits of the book up soon, once everything’s proofed and I can… well, probably start #3, if the last week has been any indication. Hooooh boy, this is going to be a colourful parliament…

Yours ever,

APbestsellingS

A boom microphone picks up the private conversation of Scott Morrison, Tony Abbott and Peter Dutton in September last ...