Cheeseburger Gothic

Dear Santa

Posted December 24 into Blunty by John Birmingham

I'm not allowed to write about politics for Ninefax anymore, but occasionally I sneak one through.

Dear Santa,

I know this is a bit late, Big Fella, and that you’ve been busy with the toy factory that fell into the mile-deep crevice when the polar ice sheet melted underneath it, but I’m really hoping you’ll bring some of that jingle-bell magic to the job this year, because we need it.

Our exhausted heroes could use a little Christmas cheer.
Our exhausted heroes could use a little Christmas cheer.Brett Hemmings/Getty
I have a list of things we need you to pack into the sleigh, and sorry, but it is a long list. Before you go getting your own list out and adding me to the naughty column for being so greedy, I should point out that none of this is for me. Or not directly.

First up we need about 20,000 bright-orange coveralls. It’s for some friends. They’ve been wearing theirs for more than a month now because they only had one set to begin with, and, while you’ve been rescuing elves and reindeer from that disintegrating glacier, they’ve been trying to save the world...

At Blunty.

1 Responses to ‘Dear Santa’

Halwes reckons...

Posted December 24
Not allowed to write about politics for ninefax anymore? Since the nine takeover of the Sydney Morning Herald? All the best to you and yours for the Christmas break John. There is still a bed and boat in Gove for you if you ever make it to Arnhem Land. Don't come for at least 6 months though. It is punishingly hot like I've never seen it and not even a trace of any rain yet. Record temperatures forecast again tomorrow. Thanks and best wishes to the people on Cheeseburger. You never fail to amuse and inform me. Dave

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Ironic, tragic and “a rich source of potassium”

Posted December 10 into Blunty by John Birmingham

I love the $170 000 banana art story much I could just eat it.

At Blunty...

I am in awe of Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, who convinced three rich idiots in three separate transactions to cough up between 175,000 and 220,000 dollary-doos for a duct-taped banana on a wall over the weekend.

But I am truly, madly and deeply impressed by hungry performance artist Dave Datuna, who ate the half-million-dollar installation without warning, permission or a freshly cooked waffle swimming in chocolate sauce.

1 Responses to ‘Ironic, tragic and “a rich source of potassium”’

insomniac mutters...

Posted December 10
One could say that the art only resides in the duct tpe

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Digital siege

Posted July 9 into Blunty by John Birmingham

It's book launch time, it must be thinky column time too.

At the Instrument.

Cod, Mark Kurlansky’s enjoyable history of the big mouthed Atlantic all rounder, is just as much a history of human politics, economics and warfare, ranging from the murderous adventures of maximum Viking Eirik the Red to the three strange and mostly bloodless "Cod Wars" between Iceland and Great Britain in the decades after the Second World War.

A thousand years of human folly and conflict, with the cod swimming through it all; European colonisation, the American War of Independence, the rise of the slave trade.

The seemingly porous state of Australia’s defences against cyberattack has been exposed by serious intrusions or attempted intrusions.
The seemingly porous state of Australia’s defences against cyberattack has been exposed by serious intrusions or attempted intrusions.
In living memory, Germany lost two wars in part because of that fish. While first the Kaiser and then the Führer’s Volk suffered privation and malnutrition in the First and Second World Wars, their English enemies harvested the North Sea for megatons of protein to feed millions of soldiers and factory workers.

Crediting an Allied victory to plentiful supplies of fish and chips might seem an amusingly hot and salty take on such a grim topic, but it does go to a hard truth in the history of human conflict. Starving your enemy can be just as effective as bombing, shooting or stabbing them.

In any future global conflict involving the post-industrial West, siege and starvation, the most medieval of tactics, are likely to be among the first deployed.

And the more advanced the belligerent, the more vulnerable they are to digital disruption of real-world supply chains...

6 Responses to ‘Digital siege’

Murphy_of_Missouri mumbles...

Posted July 9
Invest in paper, typwriters, and analog.

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Therbs reckons...

Posted July 9
I can see a book coming on. One about the end of civilisation. Erm, hang a bit ...

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NBlob reckons...

Posted July 9
"The seemingly porous state of Australia’s defences against cyberattack has been exposed by serious intrusions or attempted intrusions."
Are they? Have they been significantly interrupted?
Hodgepodge, Jerry Rigged, post-Hoc? yes, indoubidably.
But, vulnerable ?
Every target of $ value, or just worthy of a "digital wristy in an anonymous chat-room" has been atacked 9 wise west of Tuesday for the past decade.
Possibly by Corrupted Nerds of the spotty oik variety, not weaponised hackers with Skillz.
But Shirley said services have mirrors, redundancies, fail safes?

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted July 10
They haven't been interrupted because the purpose of a probing attack is to probe. Not to attack. You establish you can penetrate the system. You survey the weaknesses. And you leave. There's no point collapsing anything until you need to.
They do it to us. We do it to them. It will end badly.

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Dave W swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 10
Having not read Cod, I don't know how much it goes into the whole supply chain logistics of feeding a war with only (or mainly) northern European resources v a global opposition.

But there's a reason that the word ersatz entered the anglo lexicon: so many German items were. From memory, everything from painkillers to rubber had to be fabricated rather than harvested.

And yes, break today's supply chains and we're in trouble, I believe. Three weeks of fuel. No domestic car manufacturing capability (because why would we need to think about retooling to a military capability when the US is on our side, right?).

In a way, though, I think Aus is better off than a place like the UK. I believe that if we could solve the fuel issue, we can at least feed ourselves. The UK's food supply chain is based on just in time from across Europe, North Africa and the Americas. Oops.

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wyvernsridge has opinions thus...

Posted July 24
1. I hope that Alvin Toffler's "War and AntiWar" is in your reference bookcase. TL:DR "Societies make war the same way they make money".
2. "Effects based Operations" or "Effects-based Strategy" depending on the level you are working on. lots of reading out there - good examples from WW2 - lots of more wonkish stuff from the US think tanks. The problem is how to do BDA (ie. "Bomb Damage Assessment) meaning how to check that your actions actually had the effect you envisaged.
3. If you ever get a chance to, talk to the author of the NRMA paper on Fuel Security in Australia (AVM John Blackburn Retd) - if you do, take your notebook, you'll need it!

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Forgot my airpods

Posted May 28, 2019 into Blunty by John Birmingham

One wrinkle in my Melbounre trip. I forgot my airods. I had to walk around withot playlists or podcasts. Like an animal.

I left my AirPods behind. Two days of book signings in Melbourne and nothing but my own thoughts as I walked from one store to the next. It was Hell, until it wasn't.

We're not often left to our own thoughts these days. Not randomly. We might occasionally have reason to consider them. Should I change jobs? Do I swipe right? Are my franking credits worth dooming generations unborn to a wretched demise on a dying planet of rising, acidic oceans and scorched, barren earth? (Spoiler, not just yes, but HELL YES!)

At Blunty.

4 Responses to ‘Forgot my airpods’

Oldy ducks in to say...

Posted May 28, 2019
Oh, the humanity

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Bondiboy66 reckons...

Posted May 29, 2019
Luddites like me forgo such distractions, and usually travel with a book to read - at least the batteries won't run out on a book!

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon would have you know...

Posted May 29, 2019
ha. I also take an old fashioned book with me. I think i read Stephen King does the same. I tried to get my 13yr to come outside remove the earplugs and just listen. They put up with me and stared at me until the dawning horror of realisation hit me with the power of a 10tonne condescension bomb. I'm old! "okay whippersnapper off you go"

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NBlob reckons...

Posted May 30, 2019
This is something from a Hobbesian hell-scape dystopia isn't it?
I'd never have committed to 3 decades of euthanising or at least sedating TF outa' the demons between my ears if I wanted to hear from them.
I subscribe to more podcasts I can ever catch up with, I keep favourites like Dan Carlin eps, my patrol bag has spare headphones and a battery bank all to avoid such a nightmare.
When the last 5S goes the way of the Summatran bull Rhino I will migrate to android because a 3.5mm Jack plug is a deal breaker.
I use duopoly $7 el cheapos headphones because tonal range is not critical in podcasts and I consume an average a pair per fortnight.

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Twitter, Thunderbirds and mass ADD

Posted May 7, 2019 into Blunty by John Birmingham

At the Instrument today:

Our mass attention deficit disorder has been accelerating for decades. Digital technology merely super-charged the process.

You can probably think of older analog technologies that nudged us out of our collective deep thought long before the iPhone moved the seat of human agency from mind and soul to fingertip. That’s right. I’m looking at you, TV remote.

I have no data, no research, not even a dodgy web link, but I can’t help feel everything went sideways for the human race when we could flick between four or five channels without even burning four or five calories to haul ourselves up out of the couch and all the way across the room to turn a dial.

Dials are what we had instead of Siri and Alexa, kids. And they worked every goddamn time. You even got a little cardio bump from using them because in the olden days they were always on the far side of the room.

But even as our technology accelerated, so did our imaginations. If you bother to sit through a much-loved TV show of your childhood — OK, my childhood — let's say Thunderbirds, you’ll be horrified at just how slowly it moves.

Full text is here.

1 Responses to ‘Twitter, Thunderbirds and mass ADD’

TillE has opinions thus...

Posted May 8, 2019
Best connection to the past indeed moves slowly at my 33 1/3 RPM.

"Alexa, turn the record over" ain't happening here.

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The failure of my savings plan

Posted February 19, 2019 into Blunty by John Birmingham

I used to keep a bucket by the front door. No. Not that sort of bucket, you moron. That bucket we kept on the coffee table in the lounge room of the share house, every share house, I Iived in. No, this other bucket came later, after marriage and children and the sudden but related decline in my readily available funds.
This bucket was my savings plan.
Every time I’d come home with coins in my pocket I’d toss them in there. It was a small, red plastic pail of the sort you’d take to the beach to make a sandcastle with children. If I did nothing to curate the stream of coinage, the bucket would usually top out at somewhere around seven or eight hundred dollars. But if I was smart and culled the fifty cent pieces, the final value could get up near twelve or even thirteen hundred bucks. Those old fifties seemed to offer the least value for volume.
I’d fill that bucket on average every nine months. It was a great way to pay for Christmas.
But I have not filled my bucket in many years. This is not a metaphor.
I just don’t get that many coins anymore...

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4 Responses to ‘The failure of my savings plan’

Dave W ducks in to say...

Posted February 20, 2019
Ugh. Change. I don't check it. I don't like it. Once it's in coins I don't even feel like it's money.

No, I'm not loaded. Yes, I need to check my bank account to make sure that I have been billed for things (Oz joke...). It's just that coins are annoying.

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Matthew F. mutters...

Posted February 20, 2019
The symptom I've noticed is the office snack stash. You know, the one on the spare desk or on top of the filing cabinets with a change jar and some plastic tubs with chips, chocolate bars and maybe a little fridge with some fizzy stuff in it.

I've noticed that these days all the stashes I see have IOU sheets where people record escalating amounts they owe and then settle up every payday or two. The change jars now have just the barest scatter of coins except for payday when they're suddenly stuffed with notes.

insomniac asserts...

Posted February 20, 2019
In our office we had a charity run box with chips and chocolate bars but in the end they gave up because so few had coins with which to purchase the items.

she_jedi asserts...

Posted February 20, 2019
Our office does a collection each month for our charity of the month, and thankfully they give us a couple of days notice that it's that time of the month again because I have to make a special effort to go find cash money to donate EVERY SINGLE TIME.

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