A rogue 10 Things (until the Vine is successfully live again)

Friends, I take 10 Things very seriously and god knows it take long enough to write. So while The Vine is undergoing some technical rejiggery, here’s today’s column (at least until The Vine is back live again).

10 Things: Awwww, did the mean media make Diamond Joe sad?

Joe Hockey sad

The diamonds are his pretty, pretty tears

Poor Diamond Joe Hockey. All he wanted to do was pass a budget that would reward the wealthy for all their lifting, punishing everyone else for their recalcitrant leaning, and stop spending money on all that dumb “helping people” stuff that’s totally for jerks – and then the media come along and start bullying the government for figures under Freedom of Information requests! Why, the very idea!

Now, usually the Treasury make their modelling public when they issue a budget, because it means that the media can very quickly do their traditional “what does this budget mean for YOU?” spread with pages and pages of pretty infographics and some photogenic families and go-getting young people and elderly couples and so on.

So everyone thought it a bit odd back in May when the budget announcement was not accompanied by these figures, despite this government loudly insisting that it’s all about accountability and transparency.

Of course, now we know why: because it would have lead to multi-page spreads showing shocked elderly people wondering which cat food they’ll be eating for the rest of their lives, young people facing a mortgage’s-worth of debt to complete a degree and families wondering how bad the baby’s cough should get before they consider seeing a doctor, with a mining baron criticising their laziness from atop a throne made of discarded environmental laws.

And that’s not quite as good a look.

So, in other words, the government knew full well what its budget was going to look like, who would be the winners (the very wealthy), the not-winners (the upper-middle class) and the absolute losers (everyone else), and they deliberately withheld that information because they felt that there are limits to both transparency and accountability.

And oh, the tantrum that Joe threw yesterday!

Those figures don’t tell the whole story! What Fairfax said “does not represent the true state of affairs”! They “fails to take into account the massive number of concessional payments such as discounted pharmaceuticals, discounted transport, discounted childcare that goes to lower-income households”!

OK, said the media, show us the “whole story” using the supposed Cabinet documents which you’re claiming absolutely exist and show something other than that the government was entirely aware that lower-income households would be hit hardest by the budget.

And then things went eerily quiet, except for a statement via a spokesperson explaining that documents prepared for Cabinet are not covered by Freedom of Information laws.

So, to recap: Diamond Joe totally rejects the data that Treasury prepared for Diamond Joe, insists that he has much better data that refutes it, and won’t show it because he doesn’t have to. Which is a level of plausibility similar to that of Mark Mangan, who lived up the road from me when I was a kid and who insisted that he had every single Star Wars figure that was ever made, except they were in the attic and he wasn’t allowed to take people up there.

Seriously, Joe: your political capital is pretty much vapour at this point. Maybe people would actually respect you more if you gonaded up and said the truth: that of course treasury did the modelling, that obviously the government realised that the budget would favour the wealthy over the majority, and that this is precisely the point.

What, you think that we’ve not noticed all the welfare cuts, Work for the Dole schemes, plans to let unis raise fees and GP co-payments? We get it: this government wants to punish everyone that’s not wealthy and reward those that are. We understand what’s going here. This little dance just makes you look like a fool.

The Ministry of Love

The government might not care about you, but you know what they do care about? Love. Specifically, heterosexual love. More accurately, married heterosexual love – the only kind of love there is!

Your family services minister Kevin Andrews wants de facto couples to stop dithering and get married because de factos split up at a higher rate than married couples. The statistics, he assures us, don’t lie. Of course, he doesn’t provide any actual of these non-lying statistics, because that’s not something this government does.

However, it does make a certain immediate sense to think that maybe, just maybe, there’s a difference in the level of commitment between couples that spend a shitload of money and effort holding a public commitment ceremony in which they commit to making a lifelong commitment to one another, and couples who don’t.

Still, the divorce stats demonstrate almost half of those couples turn out to be wrong, so maybe making the commitment doesn’t somehow magically fix everything for some reason.

Marriages end, people split up, and it always sucks. I’ve been there. You’ve been there. Breaking up is arse.

Here’s the thing, though: So. Fucking. What. Question mark.

First up, Kev, before you suggest marriage as the cure-all panacea to human unhappiness, might we suggest that perhaps de facto relationships start for reasons other than making a lifelong commitment? It’s not that people don’t care, Kev. It’s simple household economics. You know, of the sort that Diamond Joe gets furious if papers dare to ask about.

For one thing, because housing is incredibly expensive in Australia – especially the biggest cities – a lot of people initially start living together less because they think they’ll be together forever and ever and ever and ever, and more because it’s cheaper than living separately and less disruptive than being the non-rent-paying part-time tenant in a sharehouse. You want to ensure people don’t live together too early, Kev? Start with doing something about spiralling rental costs.

Secondly – and I’m going to make this as clear as possible by using capital letters – BREAKING UP IS OK.

In fact, in almost all cases, breaking up is better than not-breaking up. It’s sure as hell more common. Think about it: how many breakups have you had? Now, how many unbroken lifelong commitments have you had? Is the first number greater than the second?

Kevin Andrews’ statement about how de facto splits and divorces are a stain on our society only makes sense if the point of all relationships is to meet and then stay together until at least one person dies – which is a ridiculous and largely impossible aim.

US sex and relationships advice columnist and stone-cold genius Dan Savage wisely said that “all relationships end until you’re in one that doesn’t, and you only find out which one that is when you’re dead”. Sure, nobody goes into a serious relationship thinking “sweet, this is going to be the ultimate love of my next-three-to-five-years!” but the idea that it’s better to stay in a situation that everyone hates than get into a situation where everyone’s far happier is just plain stupid.

“Look, people can enter into whatever relationship they want. That’s a matter for them,” K-dog said to News Ltd. “It becomes a question for the government and the community when relationships break up. The people who suffer the most out of relationships breaking up are kids.”

Kids suffer when parents are unhappy, Kev. And parents are unhappy if they’re forced to endure each other day in day out after their relationship has died. Again, if you really want people to be happy and therefore make things easier on the kids, charging $845 to apply for a divorce seems like adding insult to injury.

But you do get $200 towards you marriage counselling! $200! Why, that’s almost enough for a single session! Love is saved!

By-the-by, what was Kev’s pre-ministerial gig?

Relationship counselling is not a terrible idea, of course. But it’s also not a popular idea, as evidenced that 98,600 of the 100,000 vouchers he’s made available are still going begging.

And we’ll just quietly cough and suggest that a family services minister whose main idea for family services is to offer relationship counselling vouchers for relationship counselling services including the Catholic relationship counselling organisation founded by the family services minister and his wife might have something of an agenda at work.

Yes, they’re no longer financially involved in the Marriage Education Programme – but, as the About Us page makes clear,

“The Marriage Education Programme is an organisation approved and part-funded by the Federal Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. The Marriage Education Programme is a member Agency of the Catholic Society for Marriage Education and Catholic Social Services Australia.”

…so your voucher can go a little way to clawing back the money you’ve already spent on the service that Kev and Mags founded. Thanks, Kev!

Seriously: ending a committed relationship is painful and expensive and stressful and time consuming. No-one does it for kicks. Pushing an agenda to slow the rate of divorce and of de facto breakups without addressing the reasons people split up (hey, maybe one of the parties has to move away to find work, since that’s something the government now thinks is perfectly reasonable!) is just plain stupid.

Gotta spend money to recover money!

If there’s one thing that we all know is a terrible idea, it’s having an educated and skilled populace. After all, what has knowing stuff ever done for us?

That’s why we all appreciate that universities are, at best,  fripperies – pointless luxuries that have absolutely no bearing on the quality of human life. You know they’re worthless empty buildings, which is why surgery is carried out by enthusiastic amateurs on buses and sewerage systems were designed and built by helpful municipal elves.

So it just makes sense to stop funding them, and to make it cripplingly expensive for people to go there. Hey, we don’t subsidise the rollercoaster ticket prices at Australia’s Wonderland, so why should we support someone working tirelessly for years to learn to save human lives? They’re basically the same thing, right?

After all, the first question on applications for entry to a PhD programme in any discipline is “Are you enrolling in this course of higher study for a) shits or b) giggles?”

This is the opinion held by people who decide whether or not the Australian government should fund unis. And they should know, since they already have their degrees and therefore already have all the professional and personal benefits that accrue as a result. Privilege is only privilege when someone else has it, after all.

And if you’re one of the handful of Australians who got a degree, had a HECS debt and then fled the country like a dirty traitor, then get ready to start paying your debt back.

Christopher Pyne has already started work on putting together a debt recovery arrangement with the UK, because fuck you people. The Grattan Institute has caculated that a system could bring in as much as $177 million over two years. As the already-reduced budget for higher education is $8.97bn for 2013-14, that means we could recover a much-needed 0.001% of the money over those two years, minus whatever it costs to implement a worldwide system of income garnishing and debt recovery.

And on the face of it there’s a certain “that seems reasonable” element to it – hey, those of us that stayed in Australia gots to pay our HECS here after all – but there’s a serious question mark over the whole “would chasing after this money cost more to implement and enforce than it would ever hope to actually recover” thing, and the answer appears to be “yep, easily”.

Professor Chapman, director of policy impact at the Australian National University’s Crawford School, told reporters that bilateral debt recovery arrangements were “too much trouble and too political”. He also suggested that it would be easier just to make all overseas workers over the threshold pay the minimum payment of $2k a year instead, since it’s easier – and thus cheaper – to calculate. Debts get paid, cash goes back in the system, no need for expensive departments calculating tax rates on overseas currencies. Everybody wins!

But that ignores the fact that Pyne knows all too well: greedy students need to be punished for their damn book-learnin’ one way or another.

Dollars vs sense – see what we did there?

Of course, if the government wanted to save some pin money they might want to stop hiring celebrity speakers to address the Defence Department at $10k-plus a throw. Especially when they’re currently offering staff a below-inflation pay rise.

Negotiations are going on at the moment with the 20,000 civilians employed by the defence department, in which it’s been patiently explained that they’re getting a bump that in no way keeps parity with inflation. And that seems like reasonable belt tightening by a government desperately trying to maintain our financial survival – at least, it does provided that the government wasn’t also doing things like, say, dropping $50k flying out celebrity chef Shane Delia of Maha to knock up a spread for Diamond Joe’s gala G20 dinner in New York, which happened in April.

Now, let’s be honest: the government does have to spend money on flashy things so we don’t look cheap in front of the other countries. It’s just that it can’t simultaneously cry poor and then get a fancy new watch in the same afternoon.

But that’s because we’re not actually in a budget crisis. We can absolutely pay $10k for someone like Wil Anderson to MC an event (and he’s worth it too. Seen him live? The dude’s sharp as a tack, and it’s not an easy gig).

And that’s because there is no budget emergency. Just a common-or-garden class war.

Gaza: the fighting has stopped… for a bit…

…but it could all be back on by the time you read this. However, right now Israel and Hamas have agreed in principle to an Egypt-brokered 72 hour ceasefire that could kick in this morning, Gaza time, and open the way to some sort of a truce.

Representatives have agreed to travel to Cairo for meetings, and there is hope that it might even see the end of the siege of Gaza (although that’s only on the Egyptian side – which will inflame the already warm tensions between Israel and Egypt but let’s let that be a problem for down the road).

In the event that this actually does end the four-week war (and yes, it’s a fucking war) then the final tally is 64 Isreli military and three civilians vs over 1,800 Palestinians. So, y’know, draw your own conclusions as to who is a bigger threat to what.

On the sorta-plus side, those numbers are going to make it easier for the Israeli government to sell the idea to its people that it’s negotiating from a position of strength and therefore can stop the missile strikes. Conversely, Hamas need to find a way to sell a similar argument to not only the people of Gaza but the Palestinian people generally and especially the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, which whom they’re attempting to hammer out a deal for political unity for the future of Palestine despite deep cultural differences. And that’s going to need some serious finesse.

But: let’s not look a gift truce in the mouth right now. Gaza might know a moment of peace shortly. God knows its people deserve it.

We R Legion

Meanwhile the war is continuing on the interwebs with Anonymous deciding that enough is enough and taking out various government sites, including that of Mossad – the Israeli secret service.

They’ve been clear that this isn’t an anti-Israel thing but an anti stop-bombing-the-shit-out-a-tiny-civilian-filled-stretch-of-land thing.

“As a collective ‘Anonymous’ does not hate Israel,” an anonymous spokesperson told Mother Jones in the US, “it hates that Israel’s government is committing genocide & slaughtering unarmed people in Gaza to obtain more land at the border.”

And it’s a PR win for the group, but we all know that Denial of Service attacks are annoying rather than destructive, right? You’re stopping people seeing a website, not bringing down their internal computer systems. If anything, the biggest disruption that’s going on is giving their online content managers an excuse to duck out early.

Plaguewatch!

If you were hjoping that the whole Ebola thing in western Africa was pretty much sorted… um, maybe you’ll want to postpone that Sierra Leone holiday for a bit.

Corpses have been reportedly lying in the streets of Liberia for days, not least because burial and medical teams have been fleeing for their lives after ebing run out of town by terrified communities. In fact, the army had to move in to protect a team clearing two corpses from a street in the capital of Monrovia.

Meanwhile Nigeria have their first confirmed local case after Patrick Sawyer collapsed and died after getting off a plane from Liberia. Now the doctor that treated him has tested positive for the virus in Lagos.

Oh, and now it’s been reported that the flight that brought Sawyer from Monrovia to Lagos also had stopovers in Ghana and Togo. So… um, yeah.

Ever played the iPad game Plague Inc? It’s really fun and interesting, right up until the point where you realise that it’s using WHO data and is basically playing out a series of terrifying human futures…

Except that you’re not going to die of Ebola

That being said, you have zero chance of catching Ebola unless you’re exposed to fluids from someone with the virus. And since you’re probably not in Africa, you can rest easy. Seriously, you’re going to be OK.

That’s worth making clear because already the internet is being flooded with panics at the moment. Ebola is very contagious, absolutely, and it’s got a higher than 50% mortality rate and is a horrible way to die… but you have to catch the thing first. Which you won’t, unless the virus is running rampant in your community. Which it isn’t.

And yes, Australian airports are already on the look out for anyone looking flu-y when they arrive. Plans are in place.

So, y’know, chill.

Moment of Joy

And finally, a tiny hamster in a tiny house. Yes, this is what we’re reduced to. I hope you’re happy, internets – happy like a Tuesday. 

Is Morrissey’s new album the worst thing he’s ever done, or just the worst thing ever?

NOTE: As so often happens in my day to day life, I started a conversation that ended in a 900 word article. Uncharacteristically, though, I couldn’t find someone to buy the thing and so instead I present it to you, friends, in its non-profitable entirety. Enjoy!

Morrissey – World Peace is None of Your Business

Harvest Records

No stars

Summary: Despite a chequered solo career, World Peace is None of Your Business is something genuinely amazing: the objectively worst thing Morrissey has ever done.

By Andrew P Street

You know that old adage that you can’t judge a book by its cover? I’ve been looking at books for four decades now and I’ve learned that the cover is actually a consistently excellent predictor of the quality of the book inside.

Albums are like that too. I’ve bought many records on the basis of the artwork alone. Scritti Politti’s Cupid & Psyche 85, Death Cab For Cuties’ We Have The Facts And We’re Voting Yes, Aimee Mann’s Lost in Space, Absentee’s Schmotime, Okkervil River’s Black Sheep Boy and the Weakerthans’ Reconstruction Site are all discs that I would have initially have missed had I not gone “hey, that looks interesting, I should give this a listen.”

So World Peace is None of Your Business immediately gives one pause because the cover is – and I’ll use a technical term here – shit.

Look at it. Seriously: JUST FUCKING LOOK AT IT.

Look at it. Seriously: JUST FUCKING LOOK AT IT.

And not just in the sense that it looks indifferently slapped together, which it does, but that the colour palate is principally based around shades of brown. As a design tip, if you’re looking to entice the casual eye it’s best not to go with an art scheme that evokes feces and vomit.

And it’s not just casual Moz-comers who are right to pause at first sight. If you’re the sort of person that’s spent far too much money collecting Morrissey records the drab cover evokes the artwork from the Southpaw Grammar era (specifically, the 7” sleeve of ‘The Boy Racer’). You know how when people talk about classic Morrissey solo albums no-one ever mentions Southpaw Grammar? That’s not an oversight.

Yet it may as well have been Pet Sounds, because World Peace is None of Your Business is one of those rare terrible albums whose awfulness is so epic that makes all the artists’ previous work worse purely by association.

Ninety seconds in to the title track and already Moz is crooning about how the police will “stun you with their stun guns / Or they’ll disable you with tasers / That’s what government’s for / Oh, you poor little fools”. That comes after railing against paying tax, complaining about how the rich get richer (a problem that’s only ever been successfully addressed by the redistributive power of tax, incidentally) and then sneering “Each time you vote, you support the process”. And look, lots of us went to Socialist Alternative poetry slams when we were 15, but this is clumsy, even by late period Morrissey standards.

He’s had similar hissy fits about how terribly unfair things are in the past – a lot of the same targets cropped up in ‘The World is Full of Crashing Bores’, for example – but the music has never been this limp.

Amazingly, it’s also the album’s best tune. Many of the other songs sound as though a title was knocked up and then the rest of the lyrics were hastily improvised on the spot – ‘Earth is the Loneliest Planet’, ‘Smiler with Knife’, ‘Neal Cassady Drops Dead’ – without a sharp line or memorable melody between them.

Not that it’s much better elsewhere. ‘I’m Not A Man’ is the sort of damp fart of a song that in better times wouldn’t have passed muster as a b-side. “Wolf down, wolf down T-bone steak / wolf down, wolf down cancer of the prostate” is briefly amusing, but the rest of is charmless hectoring over indifferent chords – a theme he returns to in the clumsy, scansion-free ‘The Bullfighter Dies’ (“…and nobody cries.Zing!).

Elsewhere ‘Kiss Me A Lot’ asks the subject to “kiss me all over my face”, which he promptly rhymes with “kiss me all over the place”. Remember, this is the same person who wrote ‘Hand in Glove’.

Women have an especially bad time of it on this album: ‘Staircase at the University’ has a girl failing to get “three As” to please her father and boyfriend and therefore commits suicide (“She threw herself down / And her head split three ways”). However, it’s a positively uplifting message compared with the odious ‘Kick the Bride Down the Aisle’, the latest in Morrissey’s career-long exploration of how women are all lazy, grasping harpies looking to tie a man down.

“She just wants a slave” he sneers, “to break his back in pursuit of a living wage / So that she can laze and graze for the rest of her days”. At least ‘William, It Was Really Nothing’ had a sweet chorus.

But the biggest difference this time around is that Moz has never been this lyrically and musically dull. Kill Uncle and Maladjusted are train wrecks, certainly, but at least they had ‘Sing Your Life’ and ‘Alma Matters’, respectively. World Peace is None of Your Business is a unique entry into the Morrissey canon: an album with exactly zero memorable songs.

Fans, you can stop begging for that Smiths reunion – not because Morrissey’s still got a viable solo career, but because Johnny Marr would be mad to willingly spend time with such a witless and tiresome person.

Then again, as someone once accurately pointed out, the world is full of crashing bores.

All of the writing, all of the time

ImageHey, internet. It’s been a while.

I’ve been doing all of the writing lately, hence the long silence on here. But if you’ve been following at TheVine or Time Out then you’d know I’m not as lazy as this appears. Honest. 

For example: only last night I wrote A Thing About The Voice, because I am A Serious Journalist. Want more proof? Here’s this thing about Star Wars. And why everyone should get over the music of the 90s

And there was lots of music and politics writing – the former for Fasterlouder, Australian Guitar, the NME (seriously: the NM freakin’ E) and the Guardian, the latter for TheVine, and both for Time Out. And Navy Outlook, oddly enough, which is really interesting. And a couple of things for Daily Life, like a piece about Nuts Magazine closing and about things wrong with doing air-sex to random women

Like what? Interviews with Something For Kate, Anna Calvi, a live review of Arctic Monkeys, and a load of… you know what? There’s just a lot of stuff.

And I’m working on some longer form things for reasons that are very good. But we’ll talk about those things later.

Honest. I will. 

Honest.

Yours,

APS

 

 

February 28, another long overdue update

Oh, dear internet,

I’m sorry. I’ve been neglectful. It’s been a while. Too long, really.

The Arrested Development trivia thing went really well, thanks, I reviewed a tonne of stuff for Sydney Festival, reviewed a bunch of films for the Sunday Telegraph, and did other stuff, probably. To be honest, January was kind of a blur.

Everything will so much easier once I have this going on.

Everything will so much easier once I have this going on.

February too, actually. Why? Funny you should ask.

Writing, mainly.

The regular 10 Things stuff’s been turning up at the Vine every Mon-Thurs morning at some ungodly hour – most recent bunch are below – and I was off in Adelaide doing some travel story research and then in Perth covering Perth Festival for the Guardian, which was great fun – saw one great show, one good show and one kinda lousy one, did interviews with Kate Stelmanis from Austra, Will Sheff from Okkervil River, Colin and Graham from Wire and Flavour Flav from Public Enemy, and knocked out a Perth Music in 10 Songs thing which left out a load of amazing music.

For the Guardian I also interviewed Neil Finn, and wrote about the awesomeness of the Paul Kelly/Kev Carmody classic ‘From Little Things Big Things Grow’.

Actually, all my Guardian stuff is easily found right here, should you fancy reading it. 

Also, iI did a load of stuff for Time Out, most of which is in the current issue which is on newstands right now (including a bar review of the revamped Argyle Hotel in the Rocks, which has a great dumpling bar these days: an idea I would like all things to now incorporate, including but not limited to bars). One thing was a very fun Iron & Wine interview.

And I did my snarky Word on the P Street weekly columns for Time Out, which featured my worst song of all time countdown: the publicly voted Nottest 100 (and the results are here).  Also which played-out Australian dining trend are youyour Australian government rating-busting television events of 2014Sydney or Melbourne: which city will kill you first?, and… actually, let’s make this easy: all the Word on the P Street columns are here. Go read the hell out of ’em.

Elsewhere, I bitched about the INXS telemovie for Fasterlouder, and also did a thing on the Morning Show about INXS videos. So you can see and hear me LIKE I’M RIGHT THERE. Yes, you’re right: I’m much better looking in print.

I also did a thing on being friends with someone you find attractive for Daily Life, because I move in incredibly good-lookin’ circles.

And I did some radio for the ABC, and a lot of print writing which hasn’t come out yet – but it will, I’m reliably assured.

And here’s the most recent 10 Things below, if you want to feel angry and ashamed about being Australian at the moment. You’re welcome!

You going to Golden Plains? I’ll see you there, then.

Yours ever,

APS

10 Things - So, who beat Reza Berati to death? 10 Things – So, who beat Reza Berati to death?

10 Things: Environment minister sick of dumb 'environment' stuff 10 Things: Environment minister sick of dumb ‘environment’ stuff

10 Things - Fred Nile expresses disapproval of choices made by dead woman 10 Things – Fred Nile expresses disapproval of choices made by dead woman

10 Things - Holiday in Cambodia! 10 Things – Holiday in Cambodia!

10 Things - Schapelle 2: Electric Boogaloo begins production 10 Things – Schapelle 2: Electric Boogaloo begins production

10 Things - Why you should be ashamed to be Australian right now 10 Things – Why you should be ashamed to be Australian right now

10 Things - Today in Chris Brown hits people news 10 Things – Today in Chris Brown hits people news

10 Things - Patience is a virtue 10 Things – Patience is a virtue

Writing update 1: mid-December is a stupid time to start something new,

Dear the Internet,

My mother used to say “if you want something done, give it to a busy person.” I think she may have been referring specifically to having people killed, but in any case: I have taken on the job of trying to finish off the year, see my folks, fulfil social obligations and also for some idiot reason chosen right now to split my existing messy, sprawling blog into Songs You Should Rediscover Today Because They Are Awesome and the writin’ stuff, which is no-hyperlink-necessary here. Because I write a lot.

Yeah, that's right: when you get into the writing game, you're just running around with sacks of sweet, sweet scratch.

Yeah, that’s right: when you get into the writing game, you’re just running around with sacks of sweet, sweet scratch.

Like, a lot.

For example, currently at The Vine is 100 Days of Tony Abbott: Reasons to be Hopeful, in which is trying desperately to shore up some Left Wing optimism in the face of a horrendous three months for anyone who doesn’t loathe their fellow citizens of Earth. I’ve also linked the last eight or nine issues of Ten Things below, my Mon-Thurs morning news column where I get up at 5am, drink very strong coffee and get mad at the news.

So that’s the Vine – there’s also loads of good stuff at Time Out, ranging from a bunch of screeds about new schoolyard rivalries in a post-Fod-vs-Holden Australia, pretending to be former PM John Howard, being all satirical about Tony Abbott refusing to apologise for Neighbourhood Watch, whether Bogan is the new Hipster, and did a gloriously inept Venn diagram explaining how the Big Day Out have replaced Blur on the 2014 lineup. Oh, and a new one about How To Protect Yourself From The 2012 Mayan Apocalypse Again.

And I did two dream interviews at Time Out recently: the wonderful, hilarious Neko Case and the goddamn brilliant Edwyn Collins. Oh, and I chatted with Anna Calvi for the Vine as well. Forgot about that.

I’ve done a lot of music stuff, unsurprisingly, including several things for the Guardian, including a chat with Nile Rodgers, asking whether Australian country music is having a big weird crisis, and what the five best ever Saints songs are.

I told Fasterlouder what were the Six Secretly Best Ever Adelaide Songs, reviewed Mick Turner’s woozily brilliant Don’t Tell The Driver album for Mess+Noise,

In the still-breathing world of print, Australian Guitar has a big ol’ Neil Young retrospective as its cover story, which took me ages to write for some reason, Elle has a piece about Young Adult Novels from me, and there are reviews floating around at the Sunday Telegraph (and related News Sundays) for American Hustle and a few other films that I can’t remember right now.

I am very, very tired.

Yet, still so much else to do. And now everyone’s accounts payable departments are closed too, so here’s hoping there are some invoices coming in…

Anyway, get some reading in over the Xmas break. I don’t write this stuff for my health, you know.

Yours ever,

APS

PS: oh, and those 10 Things links are below.

10 Things - Treasurer creates, addresses national budget crisis 10 Things – Treasurer creates, addresses national budget crisis

10 Things - Queensland's dogs are gettin' high 10 Things – Queensland’s dogs are gettin’ high

10 Things - Let's argue about the race of fictional characters 10 Things – Let’s argue about the race of fictional characters

10 Things - Holden out for a hero 10 Things – Holden out for a hero

10 Things - Humans vs Environment: the road to victory! 10 Things – Humans vs Environment: the road to victory!

10 Things - Chicks can't even take a vile, offensive compliment these days 10 Things – Chicks can’t even take a vile, offensive compliment these days

10 Things - So, who's up for war with China? 10 Things – So, who’s up for war with China?

10 Things - Today, we are all bogans 10 Things – Today, we are all bogans

Patriot or Traitor: the Tony Abbott Quiz!

Originally published in Time Out Sydney October 3, 2013. Art by Robert Polmear

Dear the Internet,

Everybody wins!

Everybody wins!

Your Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been in Indonesia assuring president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono that he is “fair dinkum about doing what we can to help Indonesia in every way” in terms of their sovereignty, which is Abbott-speak for “protect our northern oceanic borders for us and we’ll continue to ignore your human rights atrocities in Papua New Guinea.”

And heck, you might see yourself as being a pretty dinkum sort of a cobber – but are yousufficiently dinkum to contribute in a proactively bonza manner in this brave new Abbottscape?

Fortunately, with the help of senior advisors to the Departments of Immigration and Foreign Affairs & Trade (and not Science, obviously, since we don’t have one of those anymore), we have constructed this quiz to establish quickly and definitively whether you are a patriot or a traitor.

Incidentally, this will also form the basis of our citizenship test just as soon as the new Senate takes power in 2014 (after Palmer United senators add the necessary extra questions like “Australia was specifically founded to be mined, the industry for which should therefore never be taxed or subject to environmental regulation: agree, strongly agree, violently agree, threateningly agree”).

Come let us rejoice, Australians All:

1. A neighbour’s child has run into your yard to escape a gang of bullies. Do you:

a) Tow the child into the yard of an entirely different neighbour and insist that the child is now their responsibility,

b) Forcibly hand the child back to the bullies while explaining that the child should have asked for help through more appropriate channels,

c) Lock the child in your shed, insisting all the while that the accommodation is, if anything, too luxurious and that the child should be more grateful about being trapped in there, or

d) All of the above.

2. The wall of your living room is growing increasingly warm and smoke seems to be filling the house. Your family speculate that you’ve left the oven on and now the kitchen is on fire. Do you:

a) Insist that the heat and smoke is part of the natural cycle of temperatures and airbourne particulate content within the house and that it’s premature to take action until further data has come in,

b) Point out that heat and smoke can have a number of entirely natural causes and that allocating resources exclusively toward extinguishing technologies would be both short-sighted and irresponsible,

c) Angrily accuse your family of pursuing some sort of anti-oven agenda which is typical of their attitude toward electrical goods and that you will no longer discuss whether or not the place is ablaze, or

d) All of the above.

3. Birds are occasionally landing in trees within the boundaries of your property. For no clear reason you have told your family that you will Stop the Birds, yet the number of birds landing seem entirely unaffected by your rhetoric. Do you:

a) Insist that it’s now your neighbours’ responsibility to prevent birds flying across their property and into yours,

b)  Keep insisting that there were more birds landing in the backyard during the lease of the previous tenants,

c) Make family discussions of birds punishable and insist that you will provide all necessary information about the number of bird arrivals as and when you deem it appropriate, or

d) All of the above.

4. Two men are hoping to move into a sharehouse across the street. Do you:

a) Accuse them of defiling the sanctity of leases,

b) Consider allowing them to move in, as long as they are called “non-commercial property co-inhabitants” rather than “tenants”,

c) Insist that while your own sibling has shared a house with a same-gendered friend, you feel that leases should be reserved only for people that can cause biological dependents, or

d) All of the above.

5. Respect for women means:

a) Having not killed your non-male offspring on principle,

b) Angrily accusing the previous tenant of not taking care of the place because she didn’t have a husband,

c) Permitting 5 per cent of your colleagues to be penis-free, or

d) All of the above.

6. Prior to having your application for your house accepted, you promised that you’d help one of your neighbours tidy up his yard during the first week of your lease. You’ve now been in the place for over a month and are avoiding this neighbour’s calls. Does this make you:

a) An excellent neighbour

b) A community leader

c) A man who sticks to his word, or

d) All of the above.

RESULTS: If you chose a-c for any answer, you are guilty of treason. ASIO are already making arrangements.

Yours ever,

APS