Triple vision

Something I saw today that somewhat concerned me was a pile of rubbish on the curb side which included three separate television sets.

Now I should explain that the council here runs these periodic big item cleanup runs where they warn a given suburb and then go around with truck and collect objects that would otherwise normally be too big to go into a normal rubbish bin.

The question I have is why do you need three TVs to start with? And additionally how many more do you have around that you can part with three of them in one go? Haven’t people got better, or at least other things to be doing apart from all watching separate things on separate idiot boxes?

Al Jazeera

One of the recent developments in journalism has been the rise of the Qatar based Al Jazeera network. When I heard  a few year ago that they were begining an English language version to compete with the likes of CNN I was most pleased. One of the things I really like is watching some of the English language versions of international news casts (the German DW TV being the prime example) simply for the fact that they present a non anglo-american view both of international issues, and local stories you would not otherwise see, and this kind of diversity I think is a vital component of the kind of tolerantly multicultural planet we need to become in the long run.

The reason Al Jazeera fills such an important niche is that western news organisations almost totally fail to tell the tales of all the Muslims in the middle east and elsewhere who live normal, moral, religiously faithful but tolerant, and otherwise worthwhile lives. They’re good at covering oppressed Iranians and palestinians, and fanatical afghans and so forth, but neglect the fact that these all represent the minority, like neo-Nazis in europe and Gangster rappers in the US (if you believed the popular media you’d believe they were everywhere).

The most recent cool thing regarding Al Jazeera I’ve seen was during the early days of the Mumbai terror attacks, and the Australian news channels kept crossing to get live updates from the Al Jazeera correspondent who must have been one of the first foreign journalists on site, and happened to be a blond english sounding woman, who did nothing but add credibility to the notion of her network rapidly becoming a respectible player in the world of international news.

Secret society

It’s like some kind of dirty little secret.

I was over at a party on saturday with some people from work (it was a ripper of a party, but I was working the following morning, so couldn’t get into it as much as perhaps I would have), and noted that they had the box set of West Wing under their TV. Turns out they are also huge fans (although unfortunately they’re more of the myriad mindless drones who think that Josh is the best character….) and I found yet more people who share my shameful love of intelligent political drama with substance and nuance and subtlety. Seems that they’re everywhere if you look hard enough, just usually not openly advertised. Something of a secret society of linguophiles and intelligencia joined by the common thread of Aaron Sorkin (and if you haven’t seen Charlie Wilson’s War yet you should do so. Now. Get a baby sitter. It’s on at a theatre somewhere near you right now. I’m sure).


Yesterday Simone and I went and pre-emptively spent some of our baby bonus on a new TV.

There is a running joke in the medical community that the baby bonus is actually the wide screen plasma TV bonus, seeing as that seems to be what a lot of the younger, lower socioeconomic new parents reportedly go out and spend the baby bonus on.

We’d been looking to upgrade for a while as the old TV was 10 years old and would be next to impossible to get working with either digital TV or a computer/hard disc based home media and recording system (which is also on my to do list).

Once we got it set up (it only just fit into the existing TV cabinet and took a bit of fiddling to get the cables all in the right places) the problems that I have found is that I feel uncomfortable sitting and watching the TV because it seems almost too pretty. The picture is so crisp, and all the new high definition digital channels are frankly breathtaking.

We didn’t really spend all that much money in the grand scheme of things (we only spent a small proportion of the potential baby bonus) but with the new technologies a little goes a long way, and I kind of feel uncomfortably extravagant sitting watching TV in 32 inch crystal clear digital, when our old analogue TV did an adequate job most of the time…

Choice ’07

Last night was of course the election, and unsurprisingly Kevin Rudd won.

However for me the real conundrum was a lot greater than who to vote for (firstly because there really was no competition, and secondly because I couldn’t vote anyway), but rather what to watch while I waited for the election results to come in. TopGear or Empire Strikes Back.

Oh the  tension. The indecision.

And in an amusing followup to my previous post, it appears that effort *does* win elections, because in our electorate the underdog Labour candidate (who you will recall has had minions and supporters out waving plackards all day every day) was elected after a 15% swing in favour of Labour. Huge!!

My girl the rev head

About a month back we were flicking channels on a saturday night, and there wasn’t much on, and we found Top Gear was on. Now I essentially had the TV on as some background noise while I did other things, but Simone rather took to the show and has subsequently watched it most saturdays.

It’s not because she goes out of the way to watch it, or that she has any particular fascination of cars, but she enjoys their tendency to not take things too seriously, with things like playing soccer in cars, and racing a car and an aeroplane from Italy to England, coupled with the rather dry wit of the presenters.

I have to admit that I too quite enjoy watching it (and am always astonished by the variety of introductions they come up with for their test driver), but it’s just a bit more unexpected that Simone would get into it.

Guess there’s still plenty of stuff to learn about my girl 🙂

Curious possibility

Something I was reading a while back that I thought was a fantastically interesting possibility was the notion of using Propranolol (a beta adrenergic receptor blocker drug, most commonly used to treat high blood pressure and heart disease) to treat PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).

I first saw it on 60 minutes (which is of course always such a bastion or journalistic reliability and cautiousness), but afterwards I had a look on Pubmed for any published scientific articles on the topic, and while there weren’t many, and they were mostly case studies or case series, it did seem that this was not as unsupported and crazy as I had initially suspected it might be.

The 60 minutes article and several papers talked about using the drug for short courses (days to weeks) at what seemed like comparatively high doses, in conjunction with cognitive therapies and emotional stimulations relating to their specific PTSD situation.

The patients reported that while it did not remove the traumatic memories, there was no longer the intrusive emotional and physical responses associated with the memories.

There were some “experts” (philosophers and some psychiatrists) who were voicing concerns about the use of drugs to effectively modify memories, arguing that it was a dangerous precedent, since we formed bad emotional associations to stop us making mistakes repeatedly, but those who were researching this treatment made the counter argument (which I agreed with) that PTSD is not a normal response, and if we see someone with a broken arm we don’t deny them pain killers because it will cause them to miss out on the full experience of having broken a bone, so why would we consider it any different to contemplate withholding treatment for someone’s emotional pain?

The summer game

The ashes are in town and I’m having my annual re-awakening to how much I love cricket.

It’s been nice seing some good competition (OK, so maybe not the first test, but even then there was some good individual performances that weren’t necessarily reflected in the outcome), and while I am far from being a die hard sports fan, I love being able to flick on the TV and watch bits and pieces of cricket, and not need to devote my full attention to it (while concurrently reading a book, or doing some housework, or playing on my computer).

There has also been a couple of shows on TV that have added to my interest. The ABC in, conjunction with the Australian Cricket Board, have made a series of Documentaries entitled “Cricket in the…” with each one focusing on a different decade of Australian cricket.

Now some of you may recall me previously mentioning a DVD called Calipso Summer, which dealt with the 1960-61 West Indies cricket tour of Australia, and the “Cricket in the..” series is made by the same people, and is almost as enjoyable.

I watched Cricket in the 50’s last week, and am looking forward to cricket in the 60’s which is on soon. They interview the players and have archival footage and the whole thing is generally fun and informative, giving a good insight into the matches and the dominant personalities and characters of the day.

(V)ice cool baby

About a week back, on a bit of a whim (and because it was really quite cheap), I bought the first season of Miami Vice.

It’s Classic. It just exudes cool, even with almost 20 years under it’s belt.

  • The main character lives on a boat
  • Said boat is guarded by a pet alligator (called Elvis) with a personality
  • They seem to travel everywhere by convertible or pencil boat (long thin speed boat classically used to run drugs)
  • The chicks are hot (if you ignore the higher than modern day density of Lycra)
  • The dialog is witty
  • The characters have issues, and histories, and inner demons, and other plot devices that give them actual depth
  • And….
  • Everywhere they go they have a kick ass smokin soundtrack

I love it. I saw the movie recently, and the TV series just walks all over it. Two big thumbs up so far.