Archive for January, 2009

Sadly the cheap fuel is gone

A couple weeks ago I noted that Mobil in Wanniassa were selling petrol for about 20 cents per litre less than most other fuel outlets in Canberra…sadly this is no longer the case.

Whilst they were selling unleaded for 94.9 cents per litre on Wednesday morning, they have now shot back up to $1.259/litre along with pretty much everyone else.

All good things must come to an end.


January 30th, 2009 at 05:20pm

New episodes of Red Dwarf to air in UK at Easter

It’s been a decade since we saw the mining ship Red Dwarf being consumed with virtually no hope for the remaining crew. Thankfully, many stalled movie plans later, we finally have confirmation that Red Dwarf will return at Easter time:

The cast of hit sci-fi comedy Red Dwarf are to reunite for a new two-part storyline which will see them finally return to Earth.

Red Dwarf: Back to Earth will air on UKTV digital channel Dave over the Easter weekend.

It will sit alongside two further new episodes – the improvised Red Dwarf: Unplugged, which will feature the cast dealing with no sets, effects or autocue, and Red Dwarf: the Making of Back to Earth, a behind the scenes look at the new production.

The new two-parter will begin a decade on from when the crew of the Red Dwarf were last seen, with a “shock development” throwing Rimmer, Lister, Cat and Kryten back to Earth.

Naturally there is no news about when the ABC will screen it (and I’m assuming that they will considering that they still have the rights to the original Red Dwarf episodes), but I, for one, can’t wait.


2 comments January 30th, 2009 at 02:53pm

It’s not about the climate, it’s about the cash

An interesting article (I’m hesitant to call it an article considering that more than 50% of it is a quote from Chief Turnip Jon Stanhope, however I’ll let them off the hook as the article proves a point, and it can be horribly difficult to abridge the unwieldy sentences of the Turnip) from CityNews this week in which Jon Stanhope calls on the federal government to allow paid parking for commonwealth public servants:

CHIEF Minister Jon Stanhope will be campaigning hard this year to get paid parking introduced into the parliamentary triangle and all areas managed by the Commonwealth.
It’s one of his agenda items for 2009 to get a positive outcome for the ACT in relation to equity in paid parking.

Ahh yes, “equity in paid parking”, the cornerstone of his re-election campaign…or to be serious for a moment, an instant election-loser of a phrase. Thankfully for our esteemed Turnip, much like his amazing school closures, it’s quite early in his term and people will forget by the time 2012 comes around.

On the subject of the school closures, this sentence really does sound familiar:

None of us like paid parking, but this is a question about equity between employees and it is also about the Commonwealth Government accepting the responsibility and take the hard decisions that need to be taken in relation to [..]

I seem to recall Jon Stanhope going on about “the tough decisions” after his government so badly mismanaged the budget that they felt a need to close 39 schools.

Anyway, back on topic, what are this week’s tough decisions about pay parking in aid of? The Turnip’s sentence continues with the answer…

[..] climate change and the development of sustainable transport systems

Jon, let me ask you this. Why do shopping centres have parking spaces dedicated to employees when a heap of bus services run past said shopping centres? It’s not because people unpack their fold-up cars as soon as they hop off the bus, it’s because they drive to work despite the paid parking…any why do they do this Jon? Because your government continues to mangle the bus service.

I have some more ideas which I should write down about the bus network in Canberra…but my top thought at this moment for the Chief Turnip or anyone in the ACT government who will listen (and that probably narrows it down significantly) is this: Why is Gungahlin excluded from the intertown service?

Back on topic again, and my point is that people will continue to drive simply because it is more convenient to do so. This paid parking for commonwealth employees nonsense has nothing to do with climate change, and everything to do with raking in more money…who knows, if they put in enough meters, they might be able to afford another awful sculpture by the side of the road.


January 30th, 2009 at 01:23pm


Macquarie National News, presumably delirious in Sydney’s cooler temperatures after recent “scorchers”, have invented a new word to describe the supposed issue of greenhouse gases making the planet hotter…apparently the climate is “changeial”.

Changeial be the climate
(click to enlarge)

Macquarie get full credit for this one as, despite the story being from AAP, there is no sign of the word “changeial” anywhere in the AAP feed, or on any of the other websites which grab content from AAP.

So, is “changeial” the act of causing change (eg. “Humans are supposedly being changeial to the climate”) or the process of something changing (eg. “The climate is being changeial all by itself”)?

Update: They’ve changed the headline to “Rudd, Obama pledge to team up on climate” which, whilst great from a typographical standpoint, leaves me no closer to finding out what “changeial” means. End Update


January 28th, 2009 at 01:48pm

How does this keep happening?

It’s virtually a boilerplate story now:

A [man/woman] broke the window of a [insert location here] childcare centre with a [insert object here] when [he/she] arrived to find the building locked, the lights out and [his/her] tiny [son/daughter] trapped inside.

This time around it’s a woman from Darwin with a brick:

A woman broke the window of a Darwin childcare centre with a brick when she arrived to find the building locked, the lights out and her tiny son trapped inside.

Yula Williams, 30, said she could hear her eight-month-old baby Xavier “screaming and crying”.

“It made me terrified to know that my son was inside the centre, locked and in the dark,” she said.

Ms Williams had dropped her son off at the centre in the Darwin suburb of Wagaman around 8am (CST) on Tuesday and went to work.

She had dropped her car off at a local mechanic and arranged for one of her cousins to collect her son from the centre before it closed at 6pm (CST). But when she arrived home later that night her son was not at the house.

“It was just a mother’s instinct that I went back to the childcare centre and looked around,” she said.

Ms Williams arrived at the centre shortly before 6pm but staff had already left the building. After scanning all the the security screens the frantic mother climbed the back of the building to call Xavier’s name through elevated slats.”I couldn’t hear him from the outside but when I walked around and called through the vents to the bedrooms I heard him scream,” she told ABC radio in Darwin.

Desperate to get to her tiny son, Ms Williams then picked up a brick from the garden bed and smashed it through a window.


Ms Williams said that while she could understand the misunderstanding with her relative over the pickup arrangements, she could not understand how the centre had not called her to let her know that no-one had come to collect her son.

Police said they were continuing to conduct investigations into the incident.

I think Ms. Williams summed it up with the statement that she “could not understand how the centre had not called her to let her know that no-one had come to collect her son”, and it’s completely beyond me how they managed to lock up with a child still on the premises…surely the register would have told them that there was still a child in the centre, even if they couldn’t see him.

And with the publicity that stories just like this one have received in recent times, one does have to wonder how long it will be before incompetence is seriously considered as the reason for these stuff ups.


January 28th, 2009 at 01:33pm

Tennis + Heat = Whinge

I knew this would happen…I said as much a week ago. None the less, an email to 2UE’s Steve Price:

G’day Steve,

I heard you talking to Mark Parton about the heat at the tennis on 2CC this morning.

I have a simple solution to the problem…move the tennis to winter. It rains less on average in winter, so you’d have less rain delays, and it’s colder in winter so you wouldn’t have to worry about heat stress…and if it was really cold, the players could keep warm simply by playing!

Enjoy your day.

Samuel Gordon-Stewart

January 28th, 2009 at 09:24am

Just a few of the things I’m working on

Sadly I won’t have time to get any of these articles finished this morning, but I’m working on them and hope to have them to you soon:

  • The Bureau of Meteorology claimed that last year was hot in Canberra, but I’ve been looking at the figures, and they seem to disagree with the Bureau.
  • The “Global Economic Crisis” seems to be having a very sad side-effect…it’s difficult to go a day without a story from somewhere in the world about a suicide or murder-suicide shortly after someone loses their job.
  • And with more people apparently out of work, are recruitment companies becoming sloppier and slacker with their job advertisements simply because they know that people will apply?
  • Surprisingly (some people should sit down before reading this) I actually like a handful of the songs in Triple J’s “Hot 100” this year.
  • All that and more, still to come on Samuel’s Blog.


January 28th, 2009 at 08:24am

Australia Day should not be moved from January 26

Today is the 26th of January, it’s Australia Day, a day which marks the landing of the first fleet all the way back in 1788, and the colonisation of this great brown land by the British.

Traditionally, on the day before Australia Day, the Australian of the Year is announced. This year the award has gone to 58-year-old indigenous professor Mick Dodson.

When Professor Dodson was awarded this honour, he seemed quite humbled, but it didn’t last for long. As soon as the ceremony was over, he called for a national conversation about changing the date of Australia Day. It’s hard to know for sure whether Professor Dodson is one of the die-hard “invasion day” protesters, or whether he is just jumping on the bandwagon which the media kept afloat during the week.

The idea of moving Australia Day, our official national day, to some other date on the calendar has been raised numerous times, but it has never really had much support. Sure, we see Aboriginal protests each year about how the 26th of January marks the end of their culture as they knew it, but let’s face it, a whole lot of Aboriginal people, including most if not all of the protesters, live in the country, and under the laws and support of the democratically elected government, which has evolved thanks to the landing of the first fleet in 1788.

Yes, the landing of the first fleet did bring about changes, but so did the end of the “White Australia” policy. Until the end of the “White Australia” policy this was a very British country in many respects…we had our own larrikin character of sorts, but we were still living a very British lifestyle with very British foods, very British customs and very British gardens. The end of “White Australia” brought a wave of immigrants from all corners of the globe (not that a globe really has corners unless you damage it) and brought in massive changes in our culture.

But do you see me jumping up and down whinging that we should strike the day that “White Australia” was abolished, from the calendar because it started a chain of events which altered our culture and our ways of life? Or conversely, do you see me claiming that this was the best day in the history of our nation, and as such we should make it our official national day?

No, of course not, because the idea is ludicrous.

In the US, their official national day is the fourth of July, which they call “Independence Day”, because it’s the day that they officially became independent from Britain, all the way back in 1776. History shows us that the native Americans were not treated well by the people who inhabited the land that makes up that country, but do you ever hear the native Americans whinging about the date being a black mark in history and that there shouldn’t be any celebrations on that day?

No, you don’t.

I fail to see the difference in this country. You can’t tell me that the native Americans were excited at the notion of a bunch of British people coming over to their land and forming a colony, followed by a country. The same goes for our native people.

Despite this, for whatever reason, we keep having this ridiculous discussion about changing the date of Australia Day.

If I entertain the notion for a moment, then I’m forced to ask the question, “to what date should we change it?”

The immediate answer I hear is April 25, ANZAC Day. Well, no. ANZAC Day, apart from being shared with New Zealand, has its own very special and very important message. It is not a day of celebration, it is a day of remembrance and thankfulness.

The day of our independence then…well, err, no. January 1 is not exactly a great day for a celebration of a nation. It would lose all meaning mixed in with the celebrations of an incoming year.

January 26, when it comes down to it, is the day which marks the beginning of the events which started the democracy, the culture, and the way of life that we know and love today.

As much as some of these “Invasion Day” types might like to ignore it, they live and participate in this country’s way of life, they pay taxes, some, like many non-Aboriginal people, gain from the redistribution of those taxes through our welfare system, and almost certainly, they vote. They even accept awards designed to be a part of the celebrations which mark Australia Day.

The 26th of January is the right date for Australia Day. It’s a day on which we can both reflect on and learn from our past, including the rocky relations between Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people, and a day to celebrate everything that is great about this wonderful nation of ours.

Today is the 26th of January, and I, for one, am proud to call it Australia Day.


January 26th, 2009 at 07:10am

Happy Australia Day

The Australian Flag

Normally on Australia Day I would post the national anthem here for your enjoyment, but this year I feel compelled to post a different patriotic song: Beccy Cole’s “Poster Girl”. It is incredibly moving to hear the pride and patriotism in Beccy’s voice as she sings this song.

You won’t listen to my songs any more
You ripped my poster off the wall
‘Cause I’m the singer that went to the war
You see no good in me at all

Well pardon me if I believe
I haven’t got it wrong
And before you turn your back on me
I’ll sing you one more song

‘Cause I shook hands with a digger
on the wrong side of the world
With a wife at home who holds her breath
and brand new baby girl
And the digger fights for freedom
in a job that must be done
And I let go of his hand
so proud to be Australian

And if unlike me you feel no pride at all
Then go ahead and take me off your wall
’cause I’d prefer to be a poster girl
on the wrong side of the world

And I’m just the girl who sings the crazy songs
not qualified to sit and judge
I’ve been right and I know I’ve been wrong
But I’m for peace and I’m for love

And I admire the burning fire
that causes you to fight
I only wish the wrong side of the world
had the same right.

’cause I listened to the wisdom
of the Aussie Brigadier
He spoke of widows and of orphans
and the need to dry their tears
And he leads the fight for freedom
in a job that must be done
And I’ve never been more proud
to say that I’m Australian

And if unlike me you feel no pride at all
Then go ahead and take me off your wall
’cause I’d prefer to be a poster girl
on the wrong side of the world

Maybe I’m naive to think we all could get along
But sir I read your words and all I ask
is hear my song…

I shook hands with a digger
on the wrong side of the world
With a wife at home who holds her breath
and brand new baby girl
And the digger fights for freedom
in a job that must be done
And I’ve never be more proud
to say that I’m Australian

And if unlike me you feel no pride at all
Then go ahead and take me off your wall
’cause I’d prefer to be a poster girl
on the wrong side of the world

I’m so proud to be a poster girl
on the wrong side of the world

By the way, this post doubles as the return of Samuel’s Musician(s) Of The Week, so on that basis Beccy is the musician of the week.

Happy Australia Day!


January 26th, 2009 at 03:55am

2009 Australian of the year awards

Australian of the year: Professor Michael Dodson, 58-year-old Indigenous leader from the Australian Capital Territory.
Local Hero: Graeme Drew, 53-year-old sea safety expert from Western Australia.
Young Australian of the year: Jonty Bush, 29-year-old volunteer with with Queensland Homicide Victims support group.
Senior Australian of the year: Pat Lamanna, 76-year-old entrepreneur from Victoria who immigrated to Australia from Italy.

Update 5:22pm: Well, that’s the list. No further updates to follow. End Update


January 25th, 2009 at 05:06pm

Chroma key confusion on Nine News

It seems that stray hairs are very good at confusing the chroma key on Nine News. Last night both of the female presenters’ hair managed to confuse the effect, making bits of the green screen quite visible.

It seemed to only occur where hair wasn’t in a dense bunch, and at first I thought the gorgeous Stephanie Brantz had decided to get the hair on the back of her head coloured green, but when I thought about it for a moment I realised that this would have made the hair invisible on the broadcast. My suspicions were confirmed when Kellie Connolly returned to screen with a faint green outline.

Here’s what Stephanie Brantz looked like last night:
Stephanie Brantz on Nine News
(Click to enlarge)

Stephanie is looking as wonderful as usual, however if you look to the left of her head you will notice a large section of green interlaced with hair, and a small amount is visible to the lower right of her head as well.

Kellie Connolly had the same (albeit slightly less noticeable) problem:
Kellie Connolly on Nine News
(Click to enlarge)

If you look to the left of her head, from about half way down her forehead down to her shoulder you will see that she almost has a green halo. Those stray hairs have caused the building to the left of her mouth to be discoloured with a green tinge. There is also a small amount of green to the right of her head, around the ear line.

This is something Chris Bath over at Seven doesn’t have to worry about. Seven use a real set with a television (edit: projector, apparently) behind the presenter, so Chris can have as many stray hairs as she likes without any risk of confusing the chroma key effect. Only the weather presenters have to worry about it.

Interestingly, the consummate weather man Mike Bailey didn’t have any stray hairs, and as such was not plagued by green outlines:
Mike Bailey on Nine News
(Click to enlarge)

I do have to ponder one thing though. Mark Ferguson was dropped from the weekday bulletins and replaced by Peter Overton whose ratings have dived. Mark was supposed to become the weekend anchor, however Kellie was filling the chair last night. One does have to wonder if Nine are reconsidering their decision in light of Peter’s poor ratings performance?


4 comments January 25th, 2009 at 05:02pm

Aircheck Sunday: 2QN Regional News: Midday 17 December 2008

I think Aircheck Sunday has had a long enough break…time to bring back some sort of Sunday feature, be it this or something else in a rotation.

This is the 12:08pm 2QN Regional News bulletin from the 17th of December 2008.
Download MP3

Copyright notice: Copyright on this audio is jointly held by Rich Rivers Radio Pty Ltd and Samuel Gordon-Stewart. It is made available for personal use, and “fair use” as defined by copyright legislation only. This audio may not be redistributed without the prior written permission of a copyright holder.


January 25th, 2009 at 12:26pm

Production of “The Bill” to be halved

Some sad news from Britain. Budget cuts at ITV have forced the halving of the number of episodes to be produced of The Bill.

Later this year, ITV will move the show from its twice-weekly 8pm timeslot to a once-weekly 9pm timeslot, something which they claim will allow the show to become “grittier and more action-packed”.

The reasoning behind the halving of production appears to be entirely financial, as the show is a solid performer for ITV, albeit with too many regular cast members to fit in to any given episode, winning the ratings in its timeslot week after week, averaging around 5 million viewers. It is also a fairly solid performer for the ABC here in Australia, with the two episodes being shown back-to-back on a Saturday night rating well for ABC1. Last Saturday, The Bill was the 7th most watched show with 686,000 viewers in Sydney, bumping the ABC ahead of Seven in to third place for the night.

Over the last four weeks The Bill has been the 64th, 44th, 28th and 32nd most watched show nationwide for the respective weeks.

An ITV source for Britain’s Sun newspaper claims that the cut in production will result in some redundancies, although what that means for cast is still unclear. “Mass exit” storylines such as another station fire (like the one which killed six characters in 2002 and the one which killed three characters in 2005) have been ruled out.

ITV insist that the per-episode budget will be increased, which will probably be a good thing considering some of the dodgy editing which has been apparent in episodes to air on ABC1 in recent weeks (especially the botched noise reduction in one of the interview scenes which made everyone sound like they were talking through a decaying pillow), although I am concerned about the increase in “edgy” and “dramatic” content which the 9pm timeslot will apparently allow ITV to screen…I can only hope that ITV don’t intend on returning The Bill to the soap opera formula they used earlier this decade when Paul Marquess was producing the show.

At this stage it is unclear what the ABC will do when ITV halve production. The most likely thing for them to do will be to keep running dual Saturday night episodes until they reach the episodes which ITV will screen at a rate of one per week (theoretically this should happen towards the end of the year) and then start screening only one episode each Saturday, although it would be nice if the ABC would keep screening dual episodes until sometime early next year when they would only be a few weeks behind ITV rather than a few months.

Regardless of what happens, all I can really hope for is that the show’s quality doesn’t suffer, as it has been doing very well (for the most part) lately, and a drop in quality would be a shame for a show with a proud 25-year history like The Bill.


January 24th, 2009 at 04:25pm

They used to work together…

Remember these two gentlemen?
Paul Blunt and Leighton Archer

It’s Paul Blunt and Leighton Archer hosting 2CA’s breakfast show, on the day of 2CA’s 75th birthday in 2006. At the end of 2006 the duo split with Paul leaving the station and Leighton staying on at 2CA and doing a number of jobs. Leighton left in October last year.

The reason that I bring all of this up is that I was tempted to write this article midway through last week when I noticed that Paul Blunt had returned to Canberra from Light FM in Melbourne, taking on the Drive (2pm-6pm) shift and the Acting Music Director role at Mix 106.3. Leighton returned a couple weeks ago and has been 2CC’s and 2CA’s traffic reporter.

On that basis alone it makes for a somewhat interesting story, but there is a new twist to it which has come to light in the last day which makes the whole thing even more interesting. 2CA have announced a change to their lineup for 2009…Ilija Dugandzic (afternoons 1pm-4pm and Music Director) has resigned, and will be replaced by, you guessed it, Leighton Archer. Leighton returns to 2CA in February.

In terms of playlists, I think it’s fair to say that 2CA’s immediate rival is Mix 106.3, so it’s rather interesting that the former “Breakfast Boys” are now “Afternoon Adversaries”. It’s such a pity that I don’t have access to the raw ratings figures as it would be interesting to see how the trend lines go on this particular battle.

I suppose this means that ATN will be looking for another traffic reporter…pity in some ways, Leighton sounded quite excited by the chaos of the traffic on many occasions, and I haven’t heard many Australian traffic reporters who sound excited about what they’re reporting.

Anyway, a belated “welcome back” to both Paul and Leighton, it’s good to have you both back on Canberra’s airwaves.


4 comments January 24th, 2009 at 09:50am

Dead Air

I tuned in to 2CC at 2:30 to listen to Murray Wilton filling in for John Kerr, but all I got was dead air. Upon checking the 2UE webstream I discovered that they were in the middle of an ad break, so it was quite possible that the break hadn’t been fired off locally for one reason or another, however when 2UE returned from their break, 2CC were still out.

Satellite issues perhaps? Check the 2AY webstream…Murray Wilton, half a second behind the 2UE stream. We did just have a storm pass through Canberra and it’s possible that it confused the satellite decoder, but normally that only affects the audio and not the pulses.

I wonder if I’ll hear the news at 3am? It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if Fairfax Syndication somehow managed to kill 2CC’s feed for the hour, although I would expect 2AY to be affected as well if that were to happen. If there’s no news at 3am then I might be interested enough to leave a radio on and see how long it takes for some audio to grace the 2CC frequency…even the emergency tape would be nice.

On the bright side, the one station in Canberra that I can resuscitate is on-air, so I don’t need to leave the house.

Update 3am: Time pips, news intro and the news. Well done Fairfax, I assume that you fed silence to 2CC for the entire 2am hour. End Update

Further Update: It has been brought to my attention that this was probably caused by heavy rain corrupting the signal, causing the satellite receive at 2CC’s end to change channel. The receiver would have then changed back to the correct channel just before 3am when control signals told it to do so. End Update


January 24th, 2009 at 02:56am

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