The Midday Meal

A repository for the various things i consume in the course of daily existence

Monday, August 30, 2004

And so it begins...

I was considering including Billy Joel's Matter of Trust as one of the list of 32 songs, but before I could John Howard stole it from me.

Apparently Johnny thinks that we trust him more to look after the economy and our defence so the fact that we don't trust him to tell the truth doesn't matter. Its an interesting theory and I have a horrifying feeling that it just might work.

Johnny's insistence that his government will handle the economy better fundamentally overstates the role that any national government can have in a world economy. The notorious economic mismanagement of previous labour governments is based on the outcomes of global economic events (the oil crisis in the early 70s and the global recession of the early 90s) rather than any inability to balance the books. Not that I am defending the Labor party's economic abilities, the fact is that neither of them will have any significant influence on anything but the edges of the economy.

The thing that worries me is that the government can have control over many of the things that influence our quality of life, but the only one that gets the attention is the economy, which they don't control but merely influence. Despite this the the media allows them to continue this misconception of economic management being crucial to the ability to govern.

Its likely that millions of voters will base their votes on the misplaced impression that interest rates will rise under Labor therefore further marginalising their already over mortgaged existences. And no one will be pointing out to them that interest rates will rise regardless of who wins in October. (or maybe someone will)

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Song 2 Bert and Ernie - I Refuse to Sing Along

This is a little weird I grant you, but it’s a song and so it counts. It was featured on a tape, the Bert and Ernie Sing Along no less that was released by Sesame Street in 1974. It was brought by my Dad at some point in the late 70's or early 80's and was a staple on the family car trip menu from then on.

I love this song, or rather I love singing this song. Its one of the bonds between me and my siblings is the experience of listening to this over and over again for most of the car trips of our youth, particularly the many to Albury and Melbourne to visit the grandparents. In fact, as I think about it, this song will always be linked with travelling along the Hume Highway with my family. I have not listened to the tape in close to 15 years but I still know all the words.

The summer before last my older brother brought the whole family (except my globally roaming sister) tickets to the stage show of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe in Melbourne. The fact that we didn’t have the tape any more was no impediment to joyfully singing the whole album of songs on the way down the Hume. It might sound like a bit of a cliché that "the little things mean the most", but I don't think that’s what I am saying here. The relationship I have with my family is not a little thing, but it takes stupid little things like sesame street kids tapes to remind you of how big a thing it actually is.

Monday, August 23, 2004

More buying votes?

They can call it what they will, but I call it a cynical vote buying exercise. Sorry, I should correct myself, a blindingly obvious cynical vote buying exercise.

Although in one respect Tony Abbot is right, they aren't bribing older Australians to vote for them, they've already got the old vote sown up.

On the first look it almost makes sense, the older you are the more likely you are to use the health system, so ensuring that the private insurers pay more of this load looks like a good idea. The problem is that the private funds are struggling because young people (the demographic who pay but don't claim) aren't joining in big enough numbers to subsidise the amount the funds will have to pay out.

To top this off, to cover for these higher risk older people the health funds will have raise their premiums, erasing any benefit the rebate makes, just like they have over the past half dozen years.

The only way to make health insurance viable is to ensure enough people pay for it and don't use it to cover those who pay for it and do use it. Some would suggest the easiest way to do this is make health insurance mandatory. This is what Medicare does, the question should be about the most efficient way to fund the health services this money should provide, and thats the question that falls into the too hard basket, so we get crappy, short sighted, quick fix, vote buying policy like the private health insurance rebate.

Song 1 Revolution - The Beatles

This one starts the list as it is the first memory I have of choosing music for myself.

At some point in my early years I (well me and my siblings) came in possession of a 45rpm-phonograph player and a collection of my Mum or Dad's small collection of 45s. In this collection was a copy of Hey Jude which my mum had brought when it came out. Hey Jude, along with Sgt. Peppers and Tommy, was one of the few decent records that could be found at my house in my parent's extremely dodgy record collection (which included such wonderful albums as Hammond a Go-Go and Hooked on Bach as well as a bunch of Barbara Streisand records).

It may not reflect well on my ability to appreciate "good" music, but I spent very little time listening to Hey Jude (too much nah nah nah-ing for me). However I think we wore that little bit of vinyl out none the less. The reason was the b-side, Revolution, which was far more rocking and far more exciting to listen to (particularly when sped up to 75 rpm, despite the chipmunk effect on John's voice).

It's really only in thinking about including this song in the list that I've realised how important the fairly unconscious choice I made back then was. The choice between the (safe) pop of Hey Jude and the edgier rock of Revolution was repeated through most of the musical choices I've made throughout the years (with some notable and slightly embarrasing exceptions).

It might be drawing a long bow, but this early choice between a Paul McCartney song and a John Lennon one could explain why I prefer listing to music from bands more influenced by the Plastic Ono Band than those influenced by Wings.

Under (re) Construction

There has been a blogging incident and unfortunately not all of the blog survived it. I will be attempting to fix everything up in the next few days, but at least all the posts remain...

Friday, August 20, 2004

32 Songs

Ever since I saw Capn Coincidence's first entry in his list of 31 and the subsequent ante raising by the GBU to 31+1 I've been considering whether or not to jump on the bandwagon so to speak.

My reservations have been many, not the least of which was the whole unoriginality of being the 5th(?) person to get on board and the inevitability of naming songs already listed by others whose stories may appear better than mine. Further there was the fear of not being able to reach the magical number 32 and an uncertainty over the rules of the listing having not read the Nick Hornby inspiration.

I've since gotten over these issues, particularly the originality one... as its not like posting on a blog is not being down by a few million other people. I intend to work out the rules as I go, and have looked into acquiring Mr Hornby's book (which will come in handy if I run out of ideas for songs too).

One of the major concerns I still have is that I never really operated by song. I've always been an album buyer, and for the most part, although I could run through a number of albums (probably even more than 31 given the time) picking a single song from those albums which actually resonated as an individual above the collective is going to be difficult. For instance do I include Pearl Jam's "Alive" because it made me go out and by the album, or "Black" because I got away with stealing the lyrics for a year 11 poetry assignment? Or do I pick the Stone Roses' "Fools Gold" because of the impact it had or "I Am the Resurrection" because its always been the track I skip to when I put that cd on?

As you can tell by now I've decided to give it a shot. As with most things I start I will probably only make it to halfway before I get bored or distracted... but I've got a few on the list already so we'll see how it works out.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Spin Spin Sugar

I may be naive but I always felt the role of the media was to report and comment on government and public life. That was before I ran into Gerard Henderson. Gerry seems to think that although on the payroll of Fairfax newpapers he should still be running spin for the Prime Minister. While his assessment of the limited impact the children overboard had on the actual result of the 2001 election is probably correct, but it (and gerry subsequent excuse making) doesn't change the fact that there is even more evidence of John Howard deliberitaly and intentionally misleading the Australian public.

If it was a one off it might be able to be dismissed as easily as gerard would like it to be, unfortunatley it isn't and the damage being done to the public institutions involved in the deceptions, particularly the dept of defence and the office of national assessments is considerable. The "group of 43" understand this, which is why they were driven to publicise thier doubts about the whole process of our entry into the Iraq conflict.

(on a kind of related by quite amusing comment, have a read of Peter Roger's response to government criticism of him and his 42 colleagues here)

John Howard is obviously hoping that all this crap which keeps coming up against him in this quasi election campaign we've been in since some point late last year will somehow be forgotten by Oct/Nov when the olympics and footy finals have driven it all from our brains. Unfortunately for Johnny the Pies won't make the finals this year so the unwashed masses will have nothing to occupy their minds.