The Dissemination of Thought

Just because it's in print doesn't mean it's intelligent…

Posts Tagged ‘politics

When Campbell dives and dinosaurs come alive

with 2 comments

In theory, the individuals we elect to represent us at a political level should be the cream of the crop.

Lamentably, somebody forgot to inform the Newman government of this fact.

What we currently have governing Queensland is a collection of Christmas geese, turkeys and those wind-up toy monkeys that clap cymbals together.

As 2012 draws to a conclusion, voters in Queensland seem to be realising that the goose has been overcooked, the turkey is a touch on the dry side and that the toy monkey is just a cheap, annoying novelty.

Following its landslide victory in the March election, the Liberal National Party held 78 seats in Parliament and took a stranglehold on politics in the Sunshine State.

After only eight months with Campbell Newman at the helm, things have gone decidedly pear-shaped.

While this is satirical, it also appears to be factual.  Source: greenleft.org.au

While this is satirical, it also appears to be factual. Source: greenleft.org.au

Former ministers David Gibson and Bruce Flegg fell on their swords in controversial circumstances, while the stench of nepotism surrounding the appointment of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts Minister Ros Bates’ 25-year-old son to a senior AO8 public service job is nothing short of rancid.

When you throw Health Minister Lawrence Springborg’s apparent reluctance to admit that he – not the health boards – is ultimately responsible for health delivery in Queensland into the mix, it’s hard not to feel short-changed as a voter.

Things don’t get any better as you move up the LNP food chain.

The Premier rules the roost with a seemingly dictatorial attitude to democracy and has demonstrated his predilection to move swiftly against those who question the state of affairs.

Don't confuse him with questions about democracy and Clive Palmer.  Source: heraldsun.com.au

Don’t confuse him with questions about democracy and Clive Palmer. Source: heraldsun.com.au

Any lingering doubt about the internal dissent towards party decisions should have dissipated after Member for Condamine Ray Hopper defected to Katter’s Australian Party, and Carl Judge and Alex Dawson were read the riot act before being given no option but to exit stage right.

Even mining magnate-cum-conspiracy theorist Clive Palmer – a man who has poured some serious money into the LNP coffers – has spoken out about the apparent turmoil, swapping his life membership for rumours of starting a political party of his own.

Titanic II jokes aside, the rats seem to be deserting the political disaster that is the Newman government.

When he's not talking about robotic dinosaurs and the Titanic II, Clive Palmer almost sounds rational. Almost.  Source: smh.com.au

When he’s not talking about robotic dinosaurs and the Titanic II, Clive Palmer almost sounds rational. Almost. Source: smh.com.au

If the current rate of attrition continues, the 78 seats the LNP held in March will be whittled away to about 64 by the 2015 election.

Queensland deserves a better level of governance than it is currently enduring.

You and I deserve better from the people we elect to represent us.

Is it conceivable that our state’s political saviour could materialise in the form of an eccentric billionaire with a penchant for dinosaurs and blueprints for a big ship?

Ifs, Buts and Political Peanuts: Why Salted Legumes Cost More in Canberra

with 5 comments

The last time I went to a circus, I was in Brisbane and paid about $75 for my ticket.

My most recent visit to a zoo was while visiting Perth and, from memory, the privilege cost me somewhere in the vicinity of $20.

Why does it cost so much more to watch dancing bears, juggling clowns and those dopey-looking penguins when the show’s in Canberra?

When you consider what we pay our Federal politicians to carry on like petulant children, it’s easy to see why so many people become disillusioned and why our elected officials rate somewhere between journalists, used car salespeople and serial killers on the scale of professional trust.

“I know the answer to that!” Source: theage.com.au

Prime Minister Julia Gillard hasn’t been able to use any words other than sexist, misogynist and offended this week.

For that, Australians paid almost half a million dollars.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott achieved the seemingly impossible and sunk lower than broadcaster Alan Jones when he slipped the old “died of shame” nugget into a speech during question time.

That will be about $350,000, thank you very much.

Yes, we elected this man. No, I’m not joking. I wish I was. Source: thepunch.com.au

You have to feel sorry for Peter Slipper, the disgraced former Speaker of the House of Representatives.

When Mr Slipper fell on his controversy-plagued sword on Tuesday night, he took a pay cut of more than $140,000.

Hopefully, he won’t struggle too much on his adjusted annual salary of a touch under $200,000.

Am I the only one who feels like we are currently getting short-changed on the Federal political front?

We need the best people representing us – being our voice – in Federal Parliament and I am all for paying top dollar to attract them, especially when you take into account the salaries individuals of that calibre would command in the private sector.

What we are presently seeing and reading about day after day in Canberra suggests that, in many instances, we have fallen well short in identifying the best candidates when we went to the polls in 2010.

There’s an old idiom that suggests if you pay peanuts, you will find yourself surrounded by monkeys.

Yeah, he’s worth $200,000 every year. I hope he’s not dreaming of text messages. Source: thepunch.com.au

Unfortunately, the peanuts the Australian public are feeding the current residents of Parliament Zoo cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per bag.

Worse still, once you have purchased a bag of the exorbitantly-priced legumes and realise it was too much to spend on the political animals performing behind the smudged glass, you can’t get a refund for three years.

If our Federal politicians continue to carry on like angry five-year-old chimpanzees, I for one will be advocating covering our nation’s capital in Nobby’s nuts.

Five things you always wanted to know about Twitter but were afraid to ask

with 5 comments

Twitter. It’s enough to reduce grown men and women to blithering messes, and send those with a passion for grammar and correct spelling to the back of a dark cupboard to cradle themselves in a foetal position.

Given there are now more than 500 million Twitter users globally, I thought it was an opportune time to answer five questions new Twits have about the micro-blogging phenomenon but are generally afraid to ask for fear of being laughed at or mockingly retweeted. 

I admit it. I’m a filthy Twitter whore. But I use my hashtags sparingly. Source: blog.socialmaximizer.com

1. What should I tweet about?

Ah, the timeless question. I’m reasonably confident there was once a time when people would only tweet news, information and the odd filthy limerick. In 2012, Twitter has unravelled to the point where, as long as it doesn’t take up more than 140 characters, people don’t give a fuck what they tweet about. Unfortunately, that includes random sentences about what they are doing and excessive use of the #catsofinstagram hashtag.

As somebody – possibly the old dying guy in Spider-Man – once said, “With 140 characters comes great responsibility.” That responsibility involves not subjecting the Twitterverse to your lunch options. Or what your favourite moggie is doing every 39 seconds of the day, even if Fluffy happens to be writing a haiku on the wall while smoking a pipe.

2. What the hell do RT and MT mean?

Strictly speaking, RT stands for retweet, where you do nothing more than share someone else’s tweet with your followers. MT refers to a modified tweet, which involves shortening a tweet and adding your own witty or earth-shattering commentary before sending it back out into the Twitterverse.

For me, constant retweeting is the calling card of the sheeple. Or the sign of a labrador who is chewing on their owner’s iPhone. Sure, every Twitter user – including yours truly – retweets from time to time but if you stumble across a user who is all about the retweet, block them and retreat to Facebook to regain your composure.

While a modified tweet has the potential to combine personal opinion, news and information, many Twits well and truly miss the mark. Witnessing somebody adding “LOL” or “that’s so true” to a tweet makes me weep for humanity.

3. Why does that boring person have so many more followers than I do?

The simple answer to this question is the Sheeple Principle. What the hell is that, you ask? I’m not going to explain it again, so clicking here will bring you up to speed.

After an in-depth study* of Twitter, I’ve determined you should tweet prolifically about the subjects below if you are aiming to gather as many followers as Kim Kardashian has unsubtle endorsement deals.

1. Any band, musician or celebrity that makes a sane person cringe at just the mere mention of their name. Examples? Think One Direction, Justin Bieber or any flavour-of-the-month reality television star.
2. LOLcats.
3. Political retweets. For some reason, there are several Twits – who aren’t actually political journalists or commentators of note – who have accumulated thousands of followers because they apparently have the unique ability to press the retweet button. Just like 377,503,201 other Twitter users. Want to boost your numbers overnight? Just retweet everything @JuliaGillard and @BarackObama release into the Twitterverse.

* Author’s note: I looked at about seven random profiles. Hey, I was busy.

Yes, I’m kind of embarrassed about including a LOLcat animation. What the hell have I become? Source: lolcats.com

4. Is it okay to abbreviate words and essentially make up my own language in order to keep under the 140-character limit?

No, it is FKN not K 2 make wrds up & abbrv shit so U can make ur own version of War & Peace fit into 140 chrctrs. Poor form, a-hole.

Basically, if you can’t say it in 140 characters, find another way to say it. Better yet, if you are Alan Jones or Cory Barnardi, just don’t say it at all.

I lost followers for tweeting this, yet the Twit who shares a photo of their cat with its head in a jar will gain at least 407. Source: Twitter via @LyndonKeane.

5. How many hashtags I should use per tweet?

The only thing worse than being a Twitter whore is people calling you a hashtag whore. How you use hashtags speaks volumes about you as a Twit and you don’t want to get a reputation as someone who flashes their hashtags around for the world to see, especially after a few drinks.

Generally speaking, two hashtags per tweet is perfectly acceptable. 22 is neither acceptable nor healthy.

Now that your embarrassing questions have been answered, you have no legitimate excuse for making a fool of yourself on Twitter. That said, I have no doubt you will.

It’s getting dark in here: The Dissemination of Thought and the SOPA/PIPA blackout

with 14 comments

The Dissemination of Thought will be participating in a blackout on 18 January to protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R.3261) and the Protect IP Act (S.968).

From 12:00am until 11:59pm tomorrow, this blog will be blacked out with the “Stop SOPA” message displayed. Lamentably, readers won’t be able to access any TDoT content during this period.

To check out what all the SOPA/PIPA kerfuffle (that’s right, I said kerfuffle) is about, click here.

As always, I appreciate your feedback, positive or negative, so please feel free to comment below. If you’d rather send me a vehement, expletive-filled email, clicking on this bit here will allow you to do so.

See you all again on 19 January.

Author’s note: thank you to Neil Fein at Magnificent Nose for providing a step-by-step guide to setting your blog up for the blackout. Check out Neil’s piece here.

TDoT is going to look something like this on 18 January.

‬Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry on my BlackBerry Bold 9700

When should free speech and personal beliefs take a back seat to the greater good?

with 26 comments

In 2012 Australia, you can affirm anything you like, even if it’s unjust, narrow-minded or based on a belief that may be less than sound. Unfortunately, there’s no rule that dictates free speech needs to be well thought out and factual. When this is considered in the context of the free speech of a private citizen versus that of an elected official, it raises a pertinent question: should the personal beliefs of politicians take a back seat in order to champion the causes of the people who elected them, even if the causes don’t align with their individual faith or opinions? Should free speech apply to politicians while they are acting on behalf of the greater population?

A great many words have been, and will be, written about tennis champion Margaret Court’s views on homosexuality, especially in the lead-up to the Australian Open. Gay rights activists are planning on using the arena that bears her name as a quasi protest site during the event, and have called for it to be renamed because of her outspoken opinion. I’m sorry ladies and gentlemen of the protesting persuasion, but she’s entitled to express her views, however ludicrous and bigoted they may be.

I’m an advocate for equality and same-sex marriage. I’ve written numerous pieces centering on the subjects, but I think Margaret Court should be allowed to speak. I believe her opinions are that of a narrowed-minded zealot and based on irrational religious beliefs, but I also assert that she is entitled to have and air them. Does hearing her purport that same-sex marriage would “legitimise what God calls abominable sexual practices” anger me and make me want to smack my head against a wall? Absolutely, but it’s her individual point of view. I’ve got mine. You’ve got yours. While I’d relish the opportunity to debate our differences of opinion, I learnt a long time ago that arguing with any sort of fanatic is futile: trying to have a rational, intellectual discussion with someone who isn’t flexible in their beliefs or accepting of facts and new ideas is never going to work. That said, providing we don’t incite hatred or endanger public safety with our opinions, we should be free to express them, whether privately or publicly, without fear of condemnation or reprisal.

There has been limited media coverage about the annual neo-Nazi Hammered Music Festival, most of which has focused on why this hate-filled, disgusting celebration of white pride is allowed to take place. As abhorrent as this event may be, it’s being held on private property, presumably out of sight and earshot of those who don’t want to hear it. Whether you wish you acknowledge the fact or not, attendees and performers are just as entitled as the rest of us to think and believe what they want. They aren’t spewing propaganda or spouting their preposterous views to the masses, and they aren’t airing their personal opinions publicly, unlike many who use the spotlight to constantly reiterate their beliefs.

Margaret Court has used her celebrity to broadcast her beliefs and faith, as well as raise the profile of her church, but is there really a problem with this? While some of her statements, including the affirmation that homosexuality is a choice, may be insensitive and not based on fact, she is free to say it. She’s not provoking violence or abuse against the gay community, and she is not acting on behalf of a group, nor is she an elected official.

What if Margaret Court was in a public position of power? What if she was a Member of Parliament? What about Premier of Western Australia? If she was Prime Minister, should she be free to express her deepest and most closely held beliefs while in that position? In my opinion, no. Someone who has been entrusted to act on behalf of a large, diverse group needs to be able to forgo their personal agenda and take their narrow-minded views, be they religious or not, out of the equation when making decisions that impact the community as a whole.

Source: tracker.org.au

In Australian politics, there are currently several high-profile elected individuals with very strong religious views who have no qualms about letting these beliefs guide them while acting in their official capacities on behalf of the Australian people. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, a practising Catholic, was quoted in December 2009 in the Herald Sun as saying, “I think it would be impossible to have a good general education without at least some serious familiarity with the Bible and with the teachings of Christianity.” While he has, on several occasions, suggested that politicians should not rely on religion to justify decisions or a specific point of view, his comments make it clear that his faith plays a very strong part in his thought process and rationale. Independent MP Bob Katter is on the record as stating that marriage equality is a stupid idea that “deserves to be laughed at and ridiculed”. I’m not disputing that they have the right to harbour these beliefs, where’s the line at which the personal views of politicians are required to take a back seat to a more broad-minded, progressive and socially acceptable perspective that’s representative of the views of their constituents?

Tony Abbott and Bob Katter are not alone in expressing their dogmatic views while acting on behalf of the people. In 2011, John Murphy, Labor MP for the seat of Reid in western Sydney, kicked the political hornet’s nest when he advised members of the Australian Labor Party who support same-sex marriage to ”join the Greens”. Is this petulant “my way or the highway” approach reflective of the attitude of his electorate? I think not. One person’s obstinate, black or white view should not be allowed to take precedence over the collective view of the almost 90,000 constituents in the electorate of Reid.

It may sound ridiculous and incredibly hypocritical to promote free speech in one paragraph and then suggest in the next that elected officials need to look past their own personal views in order to take a stance that, while not aligning with their own beliefs, fairly reflects what the community stands for and wishes to see achieved. Perhaps there is an element of hypocrisy to it, but politicians need to recognise that we have entrusted them to be our collective voice, and for this voice to be clearly heard, they have to look at the big picture, which often falls outside the line of sight that their bigoted or conservative blinkers allow.

For Australia to transform into a genuinely modern and forward-thinking society, we need to be led by free thinkers who can accept that personal religious views have don’t have a place in 21st century politics. We need strong leaders who make decisions based on fact and community sentiment, and who don’t feel compelled to constantly promulgate their individual beliefs and agendas; they need to remember that as a politician, they are the mouthpiece for twenty-two million voices, not just one. If our current politicians are unable to separate state from the church, mosque or synagogue, they need to step aside and make room for people who can.

When it comes to a group of individuals who have been empowered to represent the people and make untainted, logical choices based on fact for benefit of the collective group, there are occasions where free speech and faith are going to have to ride shotgun.

Despots, toast and our first guest post

with 17 comments

Guest posts are the new black. In an incredibly lazy attempt to publish another post in the lead-up to Christmas without actually doing much work, I’ve asked Adrienne over at healthytakeover to come up with 5 random questions for me to answer. Let’s call it a quasi guest post. I’ve sent back a few questions of my own, so expect to see them on her blog sooner rather than later. See, I’m not the only one who tends to be lethargic at this time of year.

Question 1: Single malt or a blend?

I’m a single malt guy through and through, but I discovered a triple malt last year called Monkey Shoulder. While it is technically a blend, the three malts that they combine are single malts, which means I’m still a single malt boy. The way I see it, by drinking Monkey Shoulder, I’ve just tripled my ability to enjoy single malt Scotch.

Monkey Shoulder: it’s cheap, and it’s good.

If you can find it, try it. Monkeys and alcohol: what more do you want? Source: specialistwhisky.com

Question 2: What are you wearing right now?

I’d like to freak everyone out by saying that I’m sitting here typing in a Donald Duck outfit sans pants, a la Peter Griffin. But I’m not. I’m naked. Come on, stop trying to gouge out your mind’s eye.

You’re NEVER going to get that image out of your head. There’s also a fair chance you’ll never read this blog again. Source: skyrocketonlinemarketing.com

Author’s note: if you are contemplating seeking restitution for the psychological trauma caused by the answer above, I wish you luck: the $7.85 I currently have in my wallet won’t divide well between a few thousand people.

Question 3: In light of the recent passing of Kim Jong-il, and the impending succession of his youngest son, do you think North Korea may finally start to emerge from the curtain of isolation? (A note from Adrienne: the questions can’t all be softballs)

While I – along with the rest of the world – would love the death of the “Dear Leader” despot to signal change for North Korea, I can’t see it happening. Kim Jong-un is cognizant of the fact that the entire planet is watching and waiting. The problem is, I believe that instead of trying to forge his own identity as a leader in order to better the lives of the North Korean people, he will see this period as an opportunity to flex his muscles and demonstrate that he truly is his father’s son.

“Do you have any idea how fucking busy I am?” Source:walrusmagazine.com

Question 4: What’s a perfect day off work for you?

I’m not entirely sure how the day would pan out, but it would definitely involve Eggs Benedict, several affogatos and a 30-year-old bottle of single malt. There could be some reading, or I could just plant my ass on the lounge and watch DVDs until I ran out of snacks. Zooey Deschanel bringing me the snacks would be better, but that scenario is unlikely, given that she seems to have lost my number.

Question 5: What’s the best way to eat Vegemite?

While there is no bad way to eat Vegemite, my preferred method is with butter on thick, fresh white bread from the bakery. Oh, Vegemite, how I do love thee.

You can never have too much Vegemite. Source: theage.com.au

So here we are, at the conclusion of the first ever guest post on The Dissemination of Thought. However, before I leave, I want to test a theory that Marc Schuster has about what making vague references to Mr T will do for your view statistics. Since we all know I’ve got a wee problem with checking my view stats every twenty-four seconds, I couldn’t resist seeing if his hypothesis works. It also goes without saying that I couldn’t make a totally irrelevant reference to Mr T without the obligatory accompanying photograph of Mr T.

Mr T. Sort of. Source: bobbleheadtoys.net

Finally, it’s starting to look more and more like the 21st century in the Sunshine State

with 5 comments

I hadn’t planned a TDoT post for today, but it would be remiss of me to not congratulate the Queensland Parliament for passing the bill that will allow same-sex civil unions to be recognised in the Sunshine State. It’s finally a step in the right direction, but between the amount of media coverage that the decision is receiving and some of the comments that it has provoked, I have to ask the question about where we really are with equality, tolerance and genuine open-mindedness. In my current sleep-deprived, emotionally drained condition, the most succinct way I can phrase it is this: why does there have to be so much speculation and debate about whether people deserve to be treated equally in the first place?

Isn’t this the 21st century? The question about same-sex unions shouldn’t even be an issue: it should be a basic right as human beings.

There won’t be any new TDoT posts until early next week, as I’m heading away at the weekend for my 31st birthday. Yes, I’m getting old.