Surround Sound

I know that a few on here are quite into music (including quality music like Neil Diamond). I was wondering, does anyone else on here have SACD or DVD-A’s, and if so, are you dissappointed that the formats have not taken off? For those who do not know what they are, they a dedicated surround sound mixes – in 5.1 channels – with a higher quality digital recording.

I have a few SACD’s and DVD’s, my favourite of course being the Dark Side of the Moon SACD, which was expertly remixed by James Guthrie. Coming a close second are Roxy Music’s Avalon and Bryan Ferry’s Boys and Girls. I was listening to REM’s Automatic for the People on Sunday and was actually dissappointed with the mix.

Does anyone have any other SACD/DVD-A’s? Any that you would recommend.

(also – we could make this a general discussion on your home stereo setup)

Shuffle-bored on the SS Turnbull

It looks like Turnbull will be using the resignation of a minor minister (Chris Pearce, Superanuation spokeman) for a shadow cabinet reshuffle. The stories circulating at the moment seem to be saying that Abbott will get the immigration portfolio, just when the news from Indonesia is that 10000 people are ready to leave for Australia. Well, that last part is not actually true, the 10000 are in Malaysia ready to head to Indonesia – and then maybe onto Australia.

The question for today is, will moving Abbott to Immigration be a good move for Turnbull or a bad move? Remembering that this reshuffle is just as much as about saving Turnbull, and saving the coalition.

(joni: fixed the first sentence which, like me, did not make sense)

Happy Birthday TB!

Many of youse will know that today is a very special day for a very special Blogocrat.

Despite the fact that he’s from Queensland and is dressed exclusively by Lowes, TB Queensland has been a long standing member of “the crats” and Tim Dunlop’s site Blogocracy.

We have all come to know TB as someone who has a big heart and a broad mind and likes to keep up with the times with his new computer and new teeth. He’s also a “performance artiste” with his own unique, irrepressible style. He can also be a cyncial old sod, but we love him all the same.

So, from all of us, to all of youse TB, we wishes you a very happy birthday!

Monday by the Magazine Rack



Good afternoon and welcome to Monday by the Magazine Rack. Our beginning of the week chit chat thread.

I hope you all had a fun filled weekend. As Ben mentions this morning, poor old Malcolm has taken a hammering in the polls following the Ute-gate affair.

Outwardly, the Liberal party, or at least Tony Abbott is pretending that it’s all happy families at Liberal Party HQ, however one can’t help but wonder what Joe Hockey could be scheming behind the scenes.

What do you think – is it time for Malcolm to fall on his sword?

Utegate & the Polls

Well, for those who think that Turnbull had a good week last week (say, Tony Abbott & friends) – it would appear that the public disagree. There were several polls released this morning and all of them agree on it being bad news for the Opposition, for Turnbull in particular.

What interested me the most was the fact that there seemed to be no upside for the Opposition at all. I got the impression from Turnbull & the Coalition in interviews & door-stops that, while knew they were going to get hammered by the issue, Labor would be similarly affected as the public responded to their “grubby politics”. From what I’m reading in the polls, this is not the case. On the contrary, Labor appear to have moved up in the polls as a result of this, with Rudd coming out squeakier than he was going into last week.

I’m curious to see what long term effects this will have on people’s perception of Labor & Rudd. I too thought that some of the mud would stick but, then again, I was following the story. In terms of the soundbites on the evening news – there simply wasn’t any good news for Turnbull. The interviews on the ABC by various politic ans would have to be award to Labor as well. And on that subject, can someone please tell Rudd that appearing on Rove makes him look like a wally! Admittedly he was better than the last time he appeared on the show; but he simply shouldn’t be on it in the first place… Can anyone imagine Howard, Keating, or really any other Prime Minister (aside from perhaps Bob Hawke) appearing on a “variety show” where the host comes out dressed in a knitted jumpsuit complete with crochet man-junk? For gods’ sake Rudd – not all publicity is good publicity in politics, I don’t care how cool you think it is!

Aside from that travesty last night, I think Labor have worked this week very well. Which isย  a bad sign for the Opposition, because I still think if they hadn’t screwed up – they would have nailed Swan on the circumstantial stuff they had up their sleeves. Watching the House this week showed they had done their research. None of it was really a smoking gun, but tied together it would have been major embarrassment for Labor. No-one got to hear it though because Labor met accusation for accusation with the repetition of Turnbull’s calling on the PM to resign based on a “faked, false, fraudulent” email – a much simpler & cut-through message for the public who are not politragics like us…

Anyhow, my flu medication is starting to kick in & I should be getting on with work. Debate, discuss, & otherwise enjoy the day ๐Ÿ™‚

Censorship & the politics of distraction

Given that I am a self-confessed “leftie” and this is often (on this blog at least) confused with the idea that I will defend a Labor government regardless of merit – I thought I’d throw up an article on something I think the government should be hammered on; both for what they are doing and how they are trying to do it.

I’m sure everyone reading this blog is aware of the Labor government’s “Server-side Internet Filtering Trial” that they’ve been running prior to actually trying to pass legislation. To sum up the initial proposition, Labor wanted to put into place legislation that would require ISP’s (companies that are somehow impossible to reach when your Internet connection goes down) to implement “opt-out” filtering of your web connections supposedly to prevent child pornography from being distributed. That is, unless you explicitly told your ISP you didn’t want the government-mandated “clean feed”, they would analyse the sites you were trying to connect to and prevent you from connecting to those known to have child porn.

What has happened in the meantime, is that this concept has expanded somewhat from simply filtering child pornography (an impossible, yet somewhat laudable aim) to mandatory filtering of a secret list of ACMA prohibited sites as well as preventing me from purchasing &/or downloading content from overseas that ACMA refuses to classify. This expansion is going above and beyond what they presented to the public and is being pushed through using the disingenuous insinuation that anyone opposed to the idea is batting for those that want to distribute child porn.

Ignoring the fact (as has been repeated to the government from several official sources) that child pornography is generally distributed in a peer-to-peer manner (i.e. it’s not uploaded to a website but sent person-to-person after the sender validates as much as possible you are not law enforcement); the web sites the ACMA list contains cover a far broader range of subject matter – some of which are not actually illegal! This list contains websites dealing with perfectly legal (if unusual) “fetishes”. While I think the Internet would be a better place without ‘goatse’ and ‘tubgirl’ (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, don’t search for them, you are better off not knowing) – I am perfectly OK, as is the law, if a guy/gal needs a combination of latex, custard, and “intestinal hygiene” in their fantasies – so be it. It’s not harming anyone and it’s not as easy for a child to “stumble upon” them as you would think.

My kids are quite proficient at using the Internet and they have yet to stumble upon anything more risque than the picture of a bikini model dressed in more than what you would find on the cover of Zoo. I know this because, as a responsible parent, I supervise them when they are using the Internet and helped them to learn the skills of searching Google for what they are after. If I was really paranoid, I could even install Net Nanny or similar (filters I can get for free!) but I have yet to see the need.

More importantly though than the fact that the ACMA is trying to filter these perfectly legal sites out is that we are not allowed to know what the sites are. Were I to link to the WikiLeaks page containing the last known ACMA black-list – I could be taken to court by the government facing fines &/or prison time. This is probably because the ACMA and the government know that, even with their mandatory filters, a person with a modicum of technical savvy (say, the next generation of children) can bypass it with ease. Whatever the reason, the government & ACMA have decided that only they have the right to know what we are allowed to look at and the taxpayer, not being aware of what is or isn’t on the list, has no idea why he cannot get to his local dentist’s website or his favourite latex / custard fetish site.

A recent addition to this mandatory ACMA black-list is the addition of censorship of sites selling computer games the ACMA has refused classification. Now some background on this for those not following computer game news like I do…

In Australia the ACMA can rate movies & books R18+ for subject matter & visuals that go outside the accepted norms for children & your teenagers. Basically your sexy & extremely violent movies fall into this category. However, due to some resistance from certain State Attorney Generals, there is no equivalent rating for “interactive entertainment” (known colloquially as computer games). The end result of this dichotomy is that games where you can (& to some extent are encouraged to) shoot hookers and run over senior citizens are given the rating M15+. In other words, are available for children to purchase & play. Now given that the average age of the Australian gamer is over 18, there are going to be games involving the afore mentioned latex & custard fetish. If they wanted in a video form, they could pick up “Custard Latex Babes” between the “Chunky Butts” VHS & “Debbie Does Dallas” DVD at their local adult store. Instead they have to purchase it from overseas and have been doing so for some time now.

Instead of fixing this dichotomy by equalising the rating system across both videos & interactive entertainment, as a vast majority of Australians would prefer, the government is going to extend their filtering to cover this hole in their policy as well. I assume that this will be covered under the same “government eyes only” laws preventing me from telling you what they would add to the mandatory ACMA filter. What is next? This is the actions of a corrupt government such as Iran or an absolute authoritarian state like China. Two years ago, I would have scoffed at the thought we’d introduce these types of laws in Australia.

What makes it worse is the completely dishonest & disingenuous way the government shuts down debate with their “child pornography” line. Whenever questioned about these laws and their possibility of trampling over our civil rights – the government comes up with lines such as “Illegal material is illegal material. Child pornography is child pornography. I trust you are not suggesting that people should have access to child pornography“; prompting a senator to ask “I am just wondering if I can put these questions to you without being accused of being pro child pornography“. This is a blatant use of an emotionally charged issue to prevent debate on something that Conroy himself admits “won’t stop child porn“.

In this area, the government is not only being heavy-handed & illogical in their approach to the issue, but downright dishonest in both what they state they are trying to do and how they conduct the debate on it. Makes you wonder what lines they are going to pull out when it comes to actually debating the legislation!

Alcopops Fizz…

This is a guest post from Scaper…

“The Coalition– has escaped a damaging Senate vote on the alcopops tax hike for another six weeks after time ran out for the government’s attempts to push through the bill.

On Monday, opposition health spokesman Peter Dutton announced that the Coalition would back the controversial 70 per cent excise increase on alcopops, in place since April last year but yet to be passed into law.”

Well, it certainly was a busy week for government business, was there anything positive achieved in both houses?

Ever since this tax was proposed I’ve had the belief that it was for revenue purposes, not to discourage the young from binge drinking but there seems to be evidence to the contrary.

“The government has promised that the measure will help reduce binge drinking among teenage girls, citing as a sign of its success figures showing a drop in the number of standard drinks consumed in the aftermath of the alcopops excise hike.”

So it appears that this measure is being effective or is it? There is no analytical evidence on the use of elicit drugs so we would like to believe that some are reducing their drinking capacity opposed to shifting their use.

Now I remember a while back that a health study concluded that consuming four standard drinks in one sitting constitutes binge drinking, so based on this and observance of people’s drinking habits indicate that a greater proportion of the drinkers in this country are bingers!

Maybe when our ambition to become a republic is realised we can rename the nation ‘Bingestralia’, and our national emblem could be a hop and a grape on a bucket?

I’ve made it known here that I have given up getting pissed and my observations since of television is that alcohol consumption is saturating this entertainment medium but is that where the real problem lies?

We would like to believe such but the reality is, children’s main influence is their parents that they observe getting pissed to their eyeballs at best on social occasions and at worst several times a week which they aspire to which is a deeply ingrained cultural issue that to be frank, there would have to be generational change that I do not see eventuating.

So, let us not kid ourselves that increasing excise is going to have much affect and until the cultural issues are attempted to be addressed this alcopop excise increase is nothing more than taxation equalisation.