Archive for March, 2011

It’s probably a good thing that pessimists won’t believe this…

How’s this for confusion? If you’re a generally unhappy type, you’ll probably live longer according to a study which is being reported on today:

Grumpy aged men now have a good reason to cheer up — they’ll outlive optimists, says a study.

Researchers have found that being cantankerous is the key to reaching old age — this is because happier characters are likely to take more risks through their lives including eating unhealthy foods, drinking and smoking.
[..]
Researcher Leslie Martin said: “We came to a new understanding about happiness and health. One of the findings that astounded us was that participants who were the most cheerful and had the best sense of humour as children lived shorter lives, on average, than those who were less cheerful.
[..]
The researchers from California University have spent the last 20 years analysing the results of research that began in 1921 on 1,500 10-year-old children.

If you’re an unhappy sort, and you just read that, you’re probably saying “not likely!”…well you might be right, according another study:

A study has shown that people with an optimistic outlook enjoy longer lives than those who are pessimistic about the future. The study started almost a decade ago when 999 men and women aged between 65 to 85 were questioned on various aspects of their life including, health, relationships, self-respect and outlook.
[..]
The optimistic participants in the study were 55% less likely to die from any cause, and were 23% less likely to die from a heart related illness.
[..]
“A predisposition toward optimism seemed to provide a survival benefit in elderly subjects with relatively short life expectancies otherwise” said the study, conducted by Erik Giltay from the Psychiatric Centre GGZ, Delfand.

It just goes to show that if you want to make a point, you can almost always find a study from an impressive-sounding organisation which will back you all the way.

Samuel

March 16th, 2011 at 07:53am

Some rare good news from the Japan earthquake

I’m pleased to be able to report that a good friend of this blog, Padders over at The Right Aussie, who was over in Japan late last week when the earthquake struck, is back home safe and well, as he notes on his blog.

I was not caught up in the earthquake drama – except for the final night at the hotel near the airport, which shaked, rattled and rolled about half a dozen times through the night from the aftershocks.

My travel schedule fortuitously had me leaving the country on the day I planned to leave, and on the flight I was booked on. I did not need to change any travel plans.

I was in Nara – about 6 hours by car, south of Tokyo – with a tour group when the quake and tsunami happened, and I never felt a thing. The first I heard of something was when I received a text message from mum.

I got back to the hotel in Kyoto that night to saturation coverage of what unfolded on 12 of the 13 channels.

I’ve been watching the unfolding issues with the affected nuclear power stations with some interest, especially the way some elements of the media (I nearly said “most” but I’ll reserve judgement) are painting it as a much bigger problem than it really is…truth be told, there is a serious element of danger in this situation, but when you look at the details of what is happening there and not just the headlines, these plants have copped a battering and yet are not exceeding legal limits for radiation levels. Assuming that the Japanese continue to keep the situation under relative control, this will prove once and for all that nuclear is a safe and viable option for the rest of the world, especially given that the power plants in question are based on a design which is over 20 years old. Modern designs for nuclear power plants are even safer.

I bring this up because in many ways I feel that the media, while covering the disasters in Japan quite well, are doing the Japanese people, especially their tourism sector, a severe disservice by making it seem like much more of the country is destroyed than is actually the case. Padders makes a similar point:

On the way back to Australia, in the lounge in Singapore Airport, I read in the Weekend Australian words to the effect that the quake had caused destruction all over Japan. This is just heifer dust. In Kyoto, everything was perfectly normal. Trains and buses were running and people were going about their business in their usual happy, determined manner. You would not know anything was wrong.

Of course, many things are horribly devastated in northern Japan, and, in many cases, probably permanently so. It will take many years for things to return to normal.

This episode has not deterred me from returning to this amazing country.

And nor should it deter others. The Japanese people will need our support to rebuild their fine country, and keeping their tourism sector ticking over will be an important part of that recovery.

Anyway, I’m glad to hear that Padders is safe and well. I was not one of the people who emailed him to check however, as I had completely forgotten that he was over there. I somehow got the dates mixed up and didn’t think he was going to be over there for another week or so.

You can read more of Padders’ account of what happened from his perspective over at The Right Aussie.

Samuel

March 15th, 2011 at 02:04am

Movie Review: The Adjustment Bureau

On Thursday I went to Shepparton to see The Adjustment Bureau which seemed to have the most appealing plot of the current crop of movies screening at cinemas (I’ll wait for the DVD release of The King’s Speech…it’s not my cinema-going cup of tea) and I’m pleased to say that I wasn’t disappointed.

Matt Damon stars as a New York Congressman whose life is turned upside down when, after losing a Senate election and taking a job in private industries, an error, not of his own doing, brings him face-to-face with the agents of fate known as The Adjustment Bureau who are in the middle of “adjusting” the people he works with.

This, combined with a chance meeting with the love of his life, places him in direct conflict with the agents of fate, and in a battle for the right to his own free will…a battle which could see him “reset” (code for “lobotomised”) at any moment.

The story is surprisingly palatable given the many directions in which it could have been taken…and for people like me who are a tad paranoid and conspiratorial at the best of times, it’s interesting to see someone else’s take on the idea of secret forces controlling our lives. Thankfully this isn’t another “the government is controlling you” movie, and without giving anything away, is something much more imaginative and believable.

The story progresses at a nice pace and the backstory for the plot is surprisingly well thought out for this genre of movie. In fact, the only real criticism I have of the movie is that the ending seemed a tad abrupt, and I got the impression that a few scenes in the back half of the movie were deleted which may have provided a bit more detail and made the end seem slightly more complete.

That said, an extra ten or twenty minutes of the movie may very well have been more than the plot could sustain.

The casting was a credit to the movie and contributed greatly to the telling of the story. I’m a great believer that big name stars can be just as much of a distraction as a drawcard to movies, and this was the sort of movie which couldn’t afford many distractions. The lack of particularly big names (Matt Damon excluded, hey, you need at least one big name to get people through the door, and Matt did a great job) helped to keep me engaged in the story, and for the most part the casting seemed to match the characters nicely.

Emily Blunt was brilliant in her role and probably completed the movie. Her character was crucial to the success of the story and the film, and so of all of the cast, I think she was the best pick. Also welcome was Anthony Ruivivar (Carlos from Third Watch) appearing as an agent of The Adjustment Bureau.

MSNBC, the least credible and lowest rating of the cable news networks in the US, was mentioned a bit too often, and their panel discussion scene was just as painful as the station itself. A few less references would have been nice. That said, the news scenes were necessary for the plotline and the movie did make use of some other news outlets, so I’ll let the overuse of MSNBC pass seeing as this was an NBC Universal production, and the MSNBC studios are probably easier for them to access than the more credible news networks.

All in all, it’s not the most serious of movies (if you read the advertised synopsis and thought it was a very serious movie, then you’re going to need to learn to read again…I sure hope that nobody is going to this thing looking for a serious movie), but it is very engaging and quite believable, and above all, interesting and entertaining. I’d recommend watching it, and I look forward to owning it on DVD.

Four stars from me.

Full starFull starFull starFull starEmpty star

Samuel

March 12th, 2011 at 09:48am

It was a Labor Party ad

The ad in question the other day which Nine Melbourne aired during the Victorian State Election advertising blackout period was for the Labor Party.

ACMA’s full response to my questions about this can be found in the now-updated original story.

Samuel

March 12th, 2011 at 01:44am

Earthquake, tsunami, daylight saving, and Lawrence

An email to 2UE’s John Kerr

Hello John,

I won't say good morning because it really isn't. I feel very sorry for all of those poor people in Japan and in the countries which are being affected by the tsunami. It's dreadful, and I hope that the vast majority of people in the affected areas remain safe.

Anyway, changing the subject, I heard on the news earlier that Andrew Stoner has promised to re-evaluate the length of daylight saving after the coalition win the state election later this month. I can't tell you how sick of this discussion I am. It is very tedious having politicians change the length of daylight saving every few years…it seems that just as soon as the states settle on which dates they will all use, one of the states feels compelled to change their start and end dates for daylight saving again.

I think daylight saving goes on for a bit too long as it is at the moment, however I also don't like the idea of starting and stopping daylight saving. I think that we should have one timezone and stick to it…in other words, we should either have daylight saving all year round or not have it at all.

And on the 2UE website there are some photos of the 2UE folk wearing their footy jerseys for Footy Jersey Friday. There's a photo of a "Lawrence" in a Chelsea jersey. I've attached it for your reference…is this the same Lawrence who produces your show from time to time and was recently over in the UK?

All the best for the coming day!

Samuel Gordon-Stewart
Deniliquin, NSW (for the next eight or nine hours, then it's back to Canberra for me)

March 12th, 2011 at 01:23am

An email to 2GB’s Continuous Call Team

G’day boys,

Thanks goodness you’re live on the internet. Down here in Deniliquin the NRL doesn’t get shown on the TV until 12:30am. At least I have you to keep me up-to-date on the football, and to be honest I’d be listening even if I was back in Canberra and could watch the match.

Have a great call!

Samuel Gordon-Stewart
On holidays in Deniliquin, NSW.

March 11th, 2011 at 08:20pm

Samuel’s Footy Tips: NRL Round 1

After some thought (maybe not enough of it) I have decided to bring back my notoriously dodgy footy tips this year. For me, 50% is a good result, so the usual disclaimer applies that if you follow my footy tips, it’s at your own risk.

So, NRL Round 1:

Broncos V Cowboys
Roosters V Rabbitohs
Titans V Dragons
Warriors V Eels
Storm V Sea Eagles
Raiders V Sharks
Panthers V Knights
Bulldogs V Tigers

Samuel

March 11th, 2011 at 11:20am

Dale

An email to 2SM’s John Laws

G’day Lawsie,

How wonderful it is to hear Dale on the radio again. He’s such a cheerful and wonderful guy, he always puts a smile on my face. Great to hear him sing as well.

I know that you’ve had him on before today since your wonderful return to the airwaves, but as I’m not in one of your broadcast areas these days I don’t get to listen all the time. Pity, because if I owned a radio station, I’d run your show.

My best wishes to you, the princess and all of the hand maidens!

Regards,
Samuel Gordon-Stewart
Deniliquin (having a holiday from Canberra)

March 11th, 2011 at 11:16am

A good service station in Wagga Wagga

An email to 2UE’s Jason Morrison

G’day Jason,

Your story about the odd people outside the servo this morning amused me…it reminds me of some of the types outside the Shell in Dickson in Canberra at night which, oddly enough, is one of the servos which is happy to let you walk in at all hours rather than make you talk through the glass, most of the time anyway, I think it depends on the mood of the staff on duty.

Incidentally it reminded me of something which happened on my way to Deni earlier this week. I was going through Wagga Wagga and needed fuel, and the easiest servo for me to get to once I had been able to stop for long enough to make the GPS give me a list of nearby servos was one a tad out of my way, a few KMs off the main road, the Shell up on Bourke Street…they filled the car up for me! I didn’t think such a thing still existed…a full-service service station. I was happy, and I’ll probably go back there on my way back to Canberra…it’s the sort of thing which should be supported.

Have a great weekend Jason.

Regards,
Samuel Gordon-Stewart
Still in Deniliquin

March 11th, 2011 at 07:56am

Julia Gillard is a good stateswoman

Mmmm I know, praise for Julia Gillard on this blog…unusual isn’t it.

Seriously though, I was quite impressed with her speech to the US Congress this morning. She portrayed her nation and herself very well and delivered a speech befitting of a close ally of the United States.

The speech can be seen on the ABC News website however for reasons best known to the ABC, there is no easy way for me to embed the video here, so you’ll just have to click the link if you want to see more than just the moon-landing bit which seems to be grabbing most of the media attention at the expense of the more interesting and substantial bits of the speech.

Julia did her country proud today, and it got me thinking, she might be an utterly hopeless administrator, but she is very good at representing the country. Perhaps the best role for her would be that of Governor-General, a role in which she has no real power, but can represent our country positively to the rest of the world.

Tony Abbott for PM and Julia for GG: it’s a good combination in my books.

Samuel

March 10th, 2011 at 04:35pm

Barry’s stance on Pauline

An email to 2UE’s Jason Morrison

G’day Jason,

I think you’re right that Barry O’Farrell’s stance of ostracising Pauline Hanson and not ostracising The Greens is a peculiar one and not the message that he should be sending to conservative voters, although I think it’s wider than just conservative voters. Ten News had a phone poll last night asking whether people would be willing to vote for Pauline Hanson which I believe they started after their 6pm interview with her…by the time the late news came around, 86% of Ten News viewers were saying “yes” they would vote for Pauline Hanson.

Perhaps the Ten News core demographic has changed in recent times, but I see the typical Ten News viewer as being less likely to vote conservatively than viewers of the other commercial networks’ news services, so needless to say, the result surprised me. I’m hoping that it also surprised Barry O’Farrell and he changes his stance to reflect community attitudes by denouncing the Greens and supporting some of Pauline Hanson’s positions.

I can understand why Barry doesn’t want to denounce the Greens…he’s worried that disenfranchised Labor voters may swing to the Greens. Well if they’re that silly to think that the Greens would do a better job and they’re that committed to vote for the left, then they deserve what they get, and Barry shouldn’t be risking the support of the overwhelming majority of sensible voters by targeting Greens voters.

All the best from a rather wet Deniliquin!
Samuel Gordon-Stewart

March 10th, 2011 at 07:23am

There are two things which frustrate me about police media

The first one I can understand, and that is that they only report on details of a small minority of things which the police deal with each day. They probably have some very good reasons for not reporting on a lot of their activities, and I fully accept that, none-the-less, it still annoys me that a lot of newsworthy stories never see the light of day as a result.

The second one I really can’t get my head around, and that is the general ignoring of regional areas. With occasional exceptions, New South Wales police media in particular, tend to ignore stories outside of metropolitan and coastal areas, and the few areas in between such as the highways. There’s a great example this week.

Here in Deniliquin there was a home invasion on Monday. The local police media rep has obviously talked to the local media about it as the local radio news had the details this morning, so I’d expect the next edition of the local paper on Friday to also have the details, however the main New South Wales Police Media office in Sydney has not said a word about it. It’s funny in a way that if there was a home invasion in Sydney, it would be front page news and be leading TV and radio news bulletins all day, but a home invasion out here in Deniliquin, whilst it should receive some coverage in national news bulletins, has received no coverage outside of the local area due to the fact that the Police Media unit in Sydney couldn’t be bothered to report the story.

It’s not the first time, and it won’t be the last, but it bothers me that the police media unit shows such little regard for the regional areas. I don’t understand why they don’t seem to care about areas outside the urban fringe, and I can’t wrap my head around it no matter what angle I attack it from. Perhaps they suffer from the same problem which many regional people see in the New South Wales government, that in many cases, the government treats areas outside Sydney as being second-class citizens.

Samuel

1 comment March 9th, 2011 at 11:00pm

Nine Melbourne found guilty of breaching the Victorian state election advertising blackout rules, but whose ad was it? (Update: Labor)

This is quite peculiar. Nine Melbourne have been found to have breached the electoral advertising blackout in the leadup to last year’s Victorian state election, however the Australian Communications and Media Authority has not mentioned anywhere in its findings which ad it was or which party or candidate’s ad it was which aired.

The story, according to ACMA’s press release, is that during Getaway on the Thursday before the election, an electoral advertisement aired due to an error in Nine’s traffic scheduling which was in the process of being moved to Sydney at the time. ACMA (as seems to be their usual action) have not done anything about except acknowledge that it happened as, according to them, “there are no previously recorded breaches of this licence condition by a Nine Network licensee” and ACMA will simply just monitor them for future breaches.

The identity of the person or group who made the complain to ACMA is unknown as ACMA have not published this detail, however the complainant does make a good point, which is published in ACMA’s investigation report:

The airing of the advertisement gives […] a clear advantage over all other parties into a prime time viewing audience across the whole of Victoria.

With such a close election result 45 seats to 43 and with many thousands of voters making up their mind during the blackout period, airing such advertisement may have influenced the result in one or more seats and potentially impact on whom was ultimately elected to govern Victoria for the next four year[s].

This is an advantage that cannot be undone or matched.

(edits to this quote were made by ACMA in their published report)

With the exception of the claim that the ad aired all over Victoria (no such claim has been made against Nine’s regional affiliate WIN and it is therefore safe to assume that the ad only aired in Melbourne), the point is correct, the airing of this ad may have influenced votes in key seats. The question is though, for whom was the ad spruiking?

While the advantage gained via the airing of the ad should be irrelevant to the investigation of whether the ad aired, the information about whose ad it was, is information which should be made publicly available so that we, the people, can know what the likelihood is that the result of the election may have been different had the ad not aired, and the information may also be useful if such an infringement of the rules occurs again in the future, especially if the same person, party or group is advantaged in the future.

Personally I don’t care for the advertising blackout period, especially seeing as it only applies to broadcast media and not newspapers or the internet, but as long as the rules stands and it was broken, we should be told who was advantaged by the breaking of this rule. At the moment, it’s like having a person convicted of murdering someone after being hired by someone else to do it, without the name of the hirer being released.

I’ll be contacting ACMA about this matter.

Update 8:11am: ACMA have replied to say that they will have answers to my questions shortly. I’ll keep you posted. End Update

Update 1:30am Saturday: ACMA got back to me yesterday afternoon to confirm that the ad in question was for the Labor party, so on the bright side the ad wouldn’t have caused a different party to be in power, but it may have affected the outcome of a seat or two.

ACMA also confirmed that the complaint was about the ad airing in Melbourne, and not all of Victoria as stated by the unnamed complainant. They have not received any complaints about the ad airing outside of Melbourne, but also can not definitely state that it did not air…this is perfectly normal as ACMA can only act on complaints, however given that there has not been a complaint, it’s probably safe to assume that WIN did not air this ad.

ACMA dodged my question about whether, hypothetically speaking, a future similar breach in favour of the same party (bearing in mind that I did not know which party the ad was for when I asked the question) could provide grounds for investigating a potential intentional bias, but I can’t say that I blame them…a direct answer there could have very easily been taken out of context, and the answer to one of the other questions stated that the airing of this ad was a genuine mistake.

The full text of the questions and answers is below, and I thank ACMA for their prompt responses to my questions:

Q: Firstly, I can not find any reference in the press release or the published report as to whose political ad it was. This information seems to be relevant given the complainant’s statement that “airing such advertisement may have influenced the result in one or more seats and potentially impact on whom was ultimately elected to govern Victoria for the next four year[s]”. Does the ACMA know whose political ad it was which aired and, if so, is the ACMA able to release this information?

A: the relevant election advertisement was an ALP advertisement which was not broadcast through any action or fault of the ALP but through an error in GTV 9’s traffic system as stated on page 4 of Investigation Report Number 2526

Q: If not, why not?

A: (not provided, as irrelevant based on previous answer)

Q: If a complaint is made against GTV9 in the future about electoral advertising airing during a blackout period, and if the ad which airs is for the same party, group or candidate, will the ACMA potentially have grounds to investigate whether the airing of the ads shows an intentional bias?

A: as stated in the Media Release, the ACMA will monitor any future complaints to ensure compliance with the rules

Q: If so, and assuming that the name of the group/party/candidate responsible for the ad has not already been released by the ACMA by this time, will the ACMA then release this information?

A: (again, not provided, as the question is irrelevant after the last answer)

Q: The complainant’s statement in the investigation report mentions that the ad aired across all of Victoria, however only GTV9 is mentioned in the report, not their regional affiliate WIN Television. Is the ACMA in a position to confirm whether or not any complaints of a similar nature have been made against WIN Television and, if not, whether the ACMA can clarify that the offending advertisement only aired within the Melbourne broadcast area?

A: the ACMA did not receive any complaints about the broadcasting of this advertisement on Win Television Vic Pty Ltd (VTV)

the ACMA is not in a position to confirm whether this advertisement only aired within the Melbourne broadcast area – this is a matter you may wish to pursue with the broadcaster
End Update

Samuel

March 9th, 2011 at 10:11pm

Samuel’s Persiflage #17 – Paul Dix

Samuel's Persiflage
It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost four years since the last episode of Samuel’s Persiflage was released, so it’s great to be able to announce that I have a new episode for you (you can stop fainting in surprise now).

Today’s guest is one of the legends of Australian radio, and an institution in the New South Wales town of Deniliquin and surrounds. I speak, of course, of Paul Dix, who has been hosting the breakfast show on 2QN Deniliquin for the last 49 years.

Paul Dix in the 2QN studio

In today’s episode, Dixie discusses his thoughts and memories of the last 49 years in Deniliquin, and even more time in the radio industry. He reflects on some of his more memorable moments at 2QN and even provides a few pointers for up-and-coming music jocks.

This episode can be downloaded by clicking here.

If you so desire, you can even listen to it online, just click the play button below.

[audio:https://samuelgordonstewart.com/wp-content/SamuelsPersiflage/persiflage017.mp3]

All listeners are invited to send in feedback or questions for me or Dixie. Feedback can be sent to podcast@samuelgordonstewart.com or you could leave a comment below.

You can also send feedback by post

Samuel’s Persiflage
PO Box 1272
Dickson ACT 2602
Australia

For those of you who are using podcast software to receive your podcasts, the feed can be found here and if you are using iTunes you can subscribe to Samuel’s Persiflage by clicking here (or maybe not, it looks like the podcast has been removed from the iTunes directory…I’ve resubmitted it).

I also intend on getting a transcript of this episode done, hopefully within the coming week.

I would also like to thank 2QN for providing the use of one of their studios for this interview.

For those of you who are wondering, there was never an episode 16 of Samuel’s Persiflage. Well, technically there was, but it was never published for technical reasons.

Enjoy the show!

Samuel

1 comment March 8th, 2011 at 08:39pm

PETA wants you to eat Frankenstein

I don’t know what it is about Deniliquin, but every time I come here I end up hearing about some bizarre story, and I don’t know what it is about PETA (“People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals” by name anyway, no guarantees that they stand for anything along those lines) but every time I hear about them, they’re doing something nutty. Today is no exception, except that today the story is so nutty that I thought I’d woken up in another universe and not just another town.

Animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, claims scientists will soon make livestock farming redundant.

PETA is funding United States researchers to produce animal meats in a laboratory, using tissue culture.

Scientists have already successfully grown the first stages of animal muscle, but need to work out how to get it to look and taste like conventional farmed product.

Uh huh, so they haven’t actually made meat in a Petri dish, they’ve made imitation meat which doesn’t yet imitate meat in taste, appearance or texture…so far it’s about as close as me handing you a plate of bacon and telling you that it’s a cup of coffee.

This stuff will never really be meat as it never really came off an animal, but little details like that don’t matter to collective nutbar groups like PETA, after all, they’re “doing it for the environment”.

Asia-Pacific campaign manager Ashley Fruno says lab meats will be better for the planet.

“Well, at the time, I think we’re still a couple of years away from seeing it be publicly available, but everyone at PETA is rooting for science to produce an eco-friendly methadone for their meat heroin, simply because it’s kinder to animals, it’s better for the environment, and it can be disease free, which makes it better for human health.”

And presumably it does away for the need for humans to keep all of those evil methane-expelling, global-warming-causing herds of cattle around, so I wonder what will become of the cows? Perhaps they will frolic in the magic forrest…seriously, what do PETA propose that we do with the superfluous cattle? They wouldn’t propose killing them (would they?), so do we let them run free…gee, that seems like a downright silly idea, cows have less road sense than kangaroos.

And then there’s that strange comparison of meat eater and drug addicts. I wonder if PETA think that non-human meat-eating animals are also akin to drug addicts?

Anyway, farmers have treated the idea with the contempt which it deserves, put PETA back in their padded box and shipped them back to the nut house.

Greg Brown, the president of the Australian Cattle Council, says the environment would suffer if livestock farming ceased.

“She was heard to say it would be great for the environment, it would be a disaster for the environment, because we’d have all this uneaten vegetation which would be destroying the environment by ultimately getting burnt and putting all that stuff into the atmosphere, it’s just absurd.”

(h/t ABC Rural for the article and 2QN’s Paul Dix who brought the story to my attention).

Samuel

March 7th, 2011 at 10:19am

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