The Blog

What Kind Of Week Has It Been? 16 August 2013


Even though we're notionally in the silly season, down in Australia things are far from silly, as they're in the middle of election fever. Mind you, August is winter to them, and that is pretty silly.

Not so much silly as outright daft though was the Liberal (which down there means conservative, what the hell Australia?!) challenger Tony Abbott's series of compound gaffes this week. First he claimed that nobody however educated was a suppository of all wisdom, a mistake that will surely go down in the anals as one of the worst. He followed that up by praising one his candidates' sex appeal. This is the same man who was on the receiving end of Julia Gillard's greatest moment as PM because of his sexist views in the past. Gillard is of course not facing up to Abbott this time, that honour falling to the man who both preceeded and succeeded her, Kevin Rudd. Because, the Australian Labor Party''s leadership basically operates like this. But Abbott can be buoyed by the fact that he hasn't pulled the biggest clanger of the campaign, that dubious title going to the now-withdrawn One Nation candidate (which in Australia is far from moderate, I mean c'mon!) Stephanie Banister who had some, eh, interesting things to say about the nation of Islam. As in, she thought Islam was an actual bloody country.

Tony Abott is coming under some fire for being against gay marriage despite the protests of his lesbian sister at the minute, but he looks like enlightenment itself compared to some of the mouth breathers in Russia's parliament. With the heat being turned up over Putin's anti-gay laws and how that affects the Winter Olympics at Sochi (the anti-gay laws, not the heat. Although both would affect them adversely) Stephen Fry, whose open letter last week primed much of this conversation, has been called "sick" by Vitaly Milinov. "I know because he is sick person because he tried to commit suicide as far as I can remember" was his explanation. The bollocks. Staying in Russia, a successful TV news journalist came out on air, because he wanted the Kremlin to see it and be shocked. They were. He was sacked the same night.

Of course, with so much attention being focused on gay rights of late, one is moved to ask a question: what about poor maligned straight people? Straight Pride UK, which apparently is an actual thing, have leapt to notoriety this week, with the use of phrases like "Pink Mafia". Their full manifesto was spelt out to the blogger Oliver Hotham in a press release, but they then took the unusual step of requesting his blog post be took down under US copyright law. Inevitably, this only propagated the post. The Streisand Effect eh? Is there any string those gays can't pull?!

In other "Is this a pisstake?" news, a kid had to have his name changed to Martin this week, following his mother either having no forethought whatsoever, or a big fan of the philosophy of Johnny Cash. Oh, and because only one person is allowed to be called the name she chose: Messiah.

Back in Ireland corporate interests thinking they're God is nothing new, and why wouldn't they when decades of governments have had spines made of slinkies? But for once it's not banks that are in the immediate firing line, but an oil company. This week allegations have emerged that Shell have been plying the Gardai with booze and the locals with various mod cons like a tennis court, television sets, school fees, garden centre visits, forestry equipment and other stuff that sounds like it belongs in the end credits song of Only Fools And Horses. The whole Rossport conundrum has been ongoing for a long time already, and it's not getting resolved any time soon.

Meanwhile in a country that to its credit has no qualms about being overtly corrupt, Robert Mugabe has won re-election in a perfectly above-board fashion yet again. His victory speech was, eh, not magnanimous. But hey, he'll die soon. Well, we can only assume.

What will replace him in Zimbabwe's political sphere is unknown, but what we do know is that in countries where people aren't getting kicked about for voting and a loaf of bread doesn't cost a quadrillion dollars, some really cool stuff is being dreamed up. A new Google algorithm may just change the way we wander aimlessly round the internet for good, while some incredibly rich guy has come up with some early drawings of a train that is basically a real-life Spruce Moose. If it worked, we could get from London to Edinburgh in, wait for it, half an hour. Imagine that: you could get to the Fringe in the time it takes to get your haircut.

Or, indeed, shave your beard.

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