Monthly Archives: July 2013

News That’s Fit To Punt – 29/Jul/2013

Won’t Take It From You

This business of the asylum seekers that arrive by boat being sent to PNG as a deterrent has quite a few critics. Judging from the Q&A panel that I watched the other night it seems nobody gets the point of the policy which is deter people from handing over their hard earned cash and life savings to people smugglers who will put them on leaky boats to Christmas Island. Now, there are all kinds of critics out to brand this policy xenophobic to not tough enough, but you would be surprised at the people who want to piss into this pot.

A more irritating critique came out of Fiji today.

Mr Kubuabola said Fiji was ”decidedly less-than happy” with the PNG deal, saying Australian politics was affecting Fijian affairs and demanded that Australia consult with the region.

”It is our business. Before this goes any further, we want thorough regional consultation … We demand to have our voices heard.”

Mr Kubuabola said that Australia had used its ”economic muscle” to persuade PNG to accept the deal that would see asylum seekers who arrive by boat sent to the country for processing and successful applicants resettled there. The Rudd government has also flagged that the model could be applied to other countries in the region.

”This was done to solve a domestic political problem and for short-term political gain without proper consideration of the long-term consequences,” Mr Kubuabola said.

”This deal and those mooted with Solomon Islands and Vanuatu clearly threatens our interests by altering the fundamental social fabric of any … country that accepts a deal with Australia.”

Now, this s a bit rich coming from Fiji. Fiji has been having coup d’etats every decade since the 1980s because every time they hold elections, the naturalised Indian population’s vote outnumbers the indigenous Melanesian/Fijian vote. The point being, the Military-led Fijian governments are quite the xenophobic racists themselves because the sole point of these coups has been to oust democratically elected governments.

Let’s also not forget that Fiji, like most nations on this planet is decidedly not a signatory to the UN convention on refugees, meaning they are currently not likely to take anybody seeking asylum.

So now, they’re turning around and saying to Australia, they don’t want Australia to send Asylum seekers to PNG because it is going to disturb a kind pan-Melanesian polity by introducing non-Melanesians. There is no other conclusion to draw but that the Fijian government is xenophobic and not really understanding the issue at all. They’d have a bit more credibility in their complaint if they actually were signatories and took asylum seekers.

I’m okay with just about anybody in the region criticising the ‘PNG solution’, but it’s really hard to take Fiji’s complaints seriously.

Will They Really Ban A-Rod For Life?

I haven’t written much about baseball and the Yankees and what have you for a while, but the ugly business of steroids keeps on coming back to haunt us all. now it is this Biogenesis thing which has squarely framed up A-Rod for a big suspension and possibly even a lifetime ban.

Bud Selig was at the Hall of Fame ceremonies in Cooperstown this week and was said still to be mulling what punishment to deliver Rodriguez. It is conceivable he could ask for permanent banishment, akin to Pete Rose. But the belief is no matter the level of evidence — and it has been portrayed that MLB has substantially more evidence on Rodriguez than it does on Braun — it would be hard to convince an arbitrator, if Rodriguez appeals, that Rodriguez’s first suspension should be for life.

Keep in mind, though, that Selig could ask for life knowing the arbitrator could lower the punishment to a shorter duration — or even find that Rodriguez should not be punished at all.

But as a way to levy a sanction that will not be reduced, there was growing belief around baseball that Selig would request the rest of this season and all of next year.

That could be viewed as just about the death penalty for Rodriguez, at least for his playing career. He turned 38 yesterday. He has yet to play this year. The idea that he would not play this season or next season and come back able to play in 2015 after two hip surgeries seems farfetched.

It’s a messy business. None of this is endearing baseball as a game to the IOC to let it back in, but that is a minor point. This A-Rod and PEDs business just keeps ripping the side out of the reputation of the game itself. All of these kinds of revelations and arguing suspensions in various sports across the last two decades have exhausted my tolerance and patience for the topic itself. At this point it wouldn’t surprise me that anybody was on PEDs. I don’t trust any of it on one side, and I’ve learned not to care that sometimes the champions are chemically enhanced. There’s nothing you can do to unscramble the egg.


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TV Marathon

I’m Lost In New Mexico

Hi all, I just thought I’d pop in quickly to let you know I haven’t quit or gone away. I’ve been lost in the 5 seasons of ‘Breaking Bad’. I hope to come back with a long entry on it so stay tuned. I’m up to Season 5 and the thing keeps filling my mind with interesting notions so with any luck I’ll be back blogging a bit more regularly soon.

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‘You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger’

Contempt from The Maestro

Somewhere in the shuffle of things, I totally missed seeing this film. Woody Allen’s move across the Atlantic has resulted in some interesting films but this one might actually take the cake for being decidedly unlike his other films. This film is brimming with a kind of rude contempt for people and their aspirations. Woody Allen has made a lot of films but this one one might stand out as the one film where he decided to be merciless with hi audience.

The usual spoiler warnings.

What’s Good About It

You have to hand it to Woody Allen; this film is devoid of the usual banter. Absent of his comic neurotic motor mouth and instead featuring some solid performances from great actors, this film gracefully works its drama unlike his earlier attempts at more serious drama. The wise ass voice over then becomes deeply ironic in just the right way to couch the deeply disturbing discourse on faith. It’s like Ingmar Bergman turned inside out.  It’s a little like he painted a parody of the Scream by Edvard Munch, but the visceral evocation of the scream is as strong as the original.

This films features solid performances from the likes of Anthony Hopkins, Gemma Jones, Naomi Watts and Josh Brolin. the situation they find themselves in is quite dire, and utterly of our times. Watching the un-ease with which these characters writhe in their discomfort with life is pretty much a Bergman film, except it’s shot through with Woody Allen’s deep misanthropic contempt. Nobody gets a fair go from the director.

In fact, that s what makes this film so intriguing. Where most films (adn even many of Woody Allen’s own films) deliver the ‘wish fulfillment’ ending, this film makes sure that nobody gets what they truly deeply desire.

What’s Bad About It

I worry that Woody Allen is totally immersed in a world of couples splitting up. Of all the film makers in the world, I believe Woody Allen to have the best lines, the best understanding, the best insight on why people break up. The problem with this film is that the ground he is on is so familiar to him, he’s cutting important corners to get to the scenes he wants to show. It’s almost an abrogation of the duties a narrator must commit to, in order to present his narrative.

Instead, Woody Allen charges around to the scenes that have the most un-ease and discomfort when he could perhaps have dealt better to delineate the problems. That being said, it’s a minor quibble. When you make as many films as Woody Allen, you probably don’t want to do the pedestrian work of introducing characters and expositions in delicately couched ways. In this film, he just wants to cut right to the crux.

What’s Interesting About It

The Josh Brolin subplot is a little mean spirited, but perhaps offers the greatest peep into the dark soul of a writer. Woody Allen has made a few jab at the writing profession in his time, and it must seem like an easy sitter to bag out the not-so-successful writers, but this film provides us with one of the more morbid narratives which drips with contempt. Quite simply, Josh Brolin’s writer character cannot produce the work to the standard he desires, but when given the opportunity to steal the work of a fellow writer, he does not hesitate. The comeuppance that happens to him is entirely left to the imagination of the audience at the end, but it is undeniable that he will not survive any of it with his dignity or his friends or his new relationship. Woody Allen dresses this up in a kind of morality play frame work, but actually it seems to be Woody Allen’s great contempt for those who cannot create greatness even if they tried, that is front and centre of this subplot.

The mean-ness extends into the withering contempt the Anthony Hopkins character feels for his younger, ex-prostitute wife who may be carrying the child of her lover and not him. Here, class contempt as well as occupation contempt as well as a kind of nasty  disregard for the weak and stupid gets a healthy dose of affirmation. If bleak is what Woody Allen wanted to portray, he’s somehow missed the mark and landed in a brutal terrain of class consciousness.

The most stark contempt might be the moment where Naomi Watts’ character screams at her mother, saying she needs the fucking money now. There’s not much dignity allowed for her character at the end. There’s just this sputtering fury and resentment but what you feel is Woody Allen’s scorn for a certain kind of entitlement.

All thee things paint an extraordinary picture of people who are lost in a fairly vicious maze devised by Woody Allen. It is as if he’s decided what he really wants to do is poke people in the eye with a metaphorical pencil. If you have a certain turn of mind, this is an incredibly funny film, but I imagine this would not go down very well with those who feel certain kinds of moral constraints.

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