When did Australia start its terminal decline into a boring dystopia?

Australia was once considered “the lucky country”. We sold dirt to every continent and received all the fancy household goods and nick knacks we could possibly desire. Those other nations never bothered us because we were too stupid to be a threat, and we kept dealing the lovely cheap dirt out like a donkey following a carrot. What happened to those fruitful years of plenty? What happened to the seemingly endless economic prosperity that fuelled our first world society? Well, like most failed civilisations, Australians and the Australians who ran Australia were too particularly stupid. You probably have all the crazy ideas and common sense to see why we are screwed as a nation but I want to alert you only to the tipping point toward our decline.

The point at which this country made a turn for the worse was simply when Pizza-Hut restaurants started closing their doors. You probably remember them, because they were so fantastic. You went to a fast food pizza restaurant and got to actually sit down. You were treated to meals and treats galore. There were self-serve buffets with mini marshmallows and bacon-bits. It was the place were any old ruffian who had crawled in from the dirt mines of prosperity could eat like a king in a utopian palace of happiness and safety. I think it was no accident that they often had a colour scheme very faintly, vaguely reminiscent of an ancient Roman villa. We in Australia were at the peak of our civilisation. But sometime near the transition between my early childhood and wanting to leave earth for good the restaurants vanished. I realise now that it is the lack of these restaurants that make life no longer worth living.

Like the well fed fat-cats in ancient Rome I am now sitting in a blissful ignorance as the empire collapses around me. I feverishly consume the computers and cars and smart-phones that are testament to our wealth and yet are produced by other nations now growing because their people aren’t simply lucky for a living. The heyday is over, Australia is on the way out and these are the last days of our hedonistic existence. The dystopia is here already and we daren’t look it in the eye. This is why synth-pop bands exist here now that celebrates the opulence of the late 80s and early 90s. For all its social shortcomings it was a time when the country had more money than it could poke a stick at and all problems could just melt away in a sea of our expensively expensive plastic money.

So what does this dystopia look like? Not the cool radioactive wasteland of Mad Max, but much like the Australia of old, only without Pizza Hut restaurants. Sad really isn’t it. There is more detail of course. We actually have telescreenesque TVs which record our conversations and tell us what to think with increasingly shit news. Digital profiles and metadata mean that big brother is always watching you, only big brother wants to sell you toothpaste and lodge insurance claims against you for something you did online. Again, this is a lot sadder and less exciting than in the books. Where’s Room 101, and why doesn’t everyone have helicopters? Well that’s because reality is shit. Hedonism doesn’t mean people enjoy good things. It just means they enjoy a lot of whatever is around at the time. Which in light of dwindling cash means shitty stuff, nothing exciting.

Even shiny new submarines aren’t enough to make us lift a finger and give a shit about what happens to this place. So long as I can extract my super before Australia is occupied by people who don’t want to waste money and have another party. That’s the mentality now. The government will wheel and deal over where to build submarines because the country might need them but their heart wont be in it, because no one else’s is. Why build submarines, what are we defending anymore? Go hard or go home is a lost phrase because the country has lost its youthful vigour and gone limp. Better go home.

If there were anything here to instil a sense of prosperity and competence it would be abundant Pizza Hut restaurants, but they’re gone now. Case closed.

-W

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Grammar Nazism

“ur so fkin bad lmao”
-most games of Dota I play

Okay, I’ll admit, Dota (and I’m assuming many other online games) is probably the worst place to go if you’re looking for any semblance of proper sentence construction. But there’s no denying it – there’s a lot of bad grammar to be found on the internet. Is this a cause for concern?

Some certainly think so. In fact, there’s a whole subculture online about the importance, necessity, and even attractiveness, of good grammar. “I’m a sapiosexual!”, they declare, whilst furiously trawling through Wikipedia for rules dictating the use of oxford commas, right after they’ve written ‘encyclopedia’ (it’s ‘encyclopaedia’). They seem to show more dedication to good grammar than hating Americans and Tony Abbott. Which, for netizens, is saying something.

At this point, you can probably tell that I’m not a huge fan of them. But why should I care? It’s like if you knew a circle of ice users, right – who cares if they smoke it amongst themselves; they can do what they want, even if it makes them less intelligent and sneered upon by society. What right do I have to stop them?

bad-grammar

image taken from wordpress.com

Well I’ll tell you why. Ice users are comparatively harmless compared to grammar nazis – all they do is stab people occasionally. They don’t think of themselves as the superior minority. Grammar tyrants are far worse. Sometimes, I’m made to believe I might as well be stepping on ducklings with footy boots every time I make a typo. And then there are the passive-aggressive grammar nannies, who like and share grammar worship pictures, and obnoxiously comment with perfect grammar on your Facebook posts where you’ve sacrilegiously not bothered to capitalise at the start of your sentences, in a show of their superior education and breeding.

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image taken from the ‘Grammarly’ Facebook page

But there’s something else, too. Something deeper. Some grammar führers find the sight of bad grammar repulsive. That’s bad. But others are worse. I’m starting to see, more and more, evidence that many members of this subculture honestly think they’re the only ones who understand grammar at all. They see themselves as some sort of fantastic last stronghold for True English, like the defenders at Mina Tirth, only without the action and excitement. And that is definitely, definitely wrong.

Think. Of all the things that could possibly give cause for snobbishness … grammar? Snobbishness in general is bad, but in this case there’s not even a basis for it. Grammar is literally taught to every single high school student. It’s universal. Having a good grasp of something everyone else has a good grasp of does not make you unique, let alone better. I might as well be proud of not being excited by cricket. It’s just that some people, like me, don’t bother with apostrophes and capital letters when typing on Facebook. That’s not inferior grammatical knowledge.

And there’s another thing that irks me, englishfrom the other direction. Many grammar marquis’ English skills are … bad. I’ve met people who could spot a wrong ‘your’ in Tolstoy within minutes but express surprise, resentment, and sometimes flat-out denial when I point out that they themselves have been incorrectly pronouncing ‘derby’ (pronounced ‘darby’). And here is where, I guess, I reveal my own ideological snobbishness. English is not just about good grammar. You could write a book with perfect use of ‘your’, apostrophes, ellipses, oxford commas, etc., but still have it read awfully. Grammar khans forget this fact in their quest for grammatical ‘perfection’. They are putting it above what I believe is the most important part of writing – making it easy and interesting for the reader.

But I realise these are just complaints. I’m not presenting an argument against them. Well, here it is. Remember ‘encyclopaedia’? Well, I lied; ‘encyclopedia’ is perfectly acceptable today. Why did this change happen? Because it’s easier to write it without the weird ‘ae’. And was this just another victim of the internet’s butchering of English? No. This occurred in 1989, well before the advent of the internet forum. And are we worse off because of it? No, we’re not; it’s clear to the reader and easier for the writer. Like it or not, English is changing, and has always been changing. Reading Shakespeare should make that quite clear. Grammar caliphs should keep that in mind before they go on their crusades (irony of words used noted). They’ve already added ‘omg’ to the Oxford Dictionary.

umad m8?

-Z

Why do Australians Love Soccer -Cough, Sorry- “Football” Now?

A couple of years ago when I was a wee little kindergartener, all bright eyed and bushy tailed, I played under-fives soccer in Sydney. My uniform was orange, and since then I have thought of good old no-arms-rugby as just that – a preschool pre-sport. It was something that would make for a fun little kick-around before the head-pounding puberty that was rugby or ping pong. You know, real sports for real Aussies. And it was never talked about again unless you knew some kid who “played for state” and thus was a mythical beast from another time. Internationally, there was no internationally. Australia sucked at soccer because Australia didn’t play it. But things are different now.

Australia just won the Asian cup. That’s right, an Australian team actually beat teams fielded by other countries, several times in a row, at soccer! Suddenly, from out of nowhere, we are an international soccer country, which “loves soccer” and has “veteran players” revered among toddlers who adorably think that Australia has some kind of institution around soccer. How did this happen? And what does it mean for this fat and lonely island we call home?

Even though it sounds like a strange sub-Saharan ruminant, soccer, or ‘football’ as it is referred to by people whose minds have been warped by living in the wrong hemisphere, has somewhat of a decent following. It is in fact one of the most popular sports in the world and is played in probably every country except Atlantis, which has different rules and was obliterated by Brazilian warships for calling the sport “soccer” as if it were just a game and not an act better than sex with the god of sex. Its popularity has even been hinted at on Australia’s own racist spy TV station, SBS (spy bloody secretly), which keeps an eye on those shady foreigners. It calls soccer “the world game”. Unfortunately for SBS, the national broadcaster the ABC has jealously stolen SBS’s soccer coverage now that the game is of great national importance. Could its international popularity have anything to do with its increasing prevalence here? Surely not, but lets look into it anyway.

Australia, as a unified country, was founded after a bunch of whiteys took it with flags in the 1800’s. However, the only ones who did were from the “British isles” or thereabouts, because it is an island, like Britain, and thus Australia’s habitat was identical to that of British and they were able to settle down nicely. This led to sports in Australia being derived from very British sports such as rugby, cricket, Gaelic football, croquet and pub-fights. The rest of Europe played games like soccer and all competed amongst themselves and the countries they beat up around the globe. Now everyone smiles and plays soccer. Population demographics in Australia has only recently started changing as the racist powers-at-be have wanted to appear trendy and let in “multiculturals” who can clean the whitey’s clothes or something, they rationale racistly. As such, soccer players from other countries have become more prevalent in Australia.

But surely this can’t explain a sudden cultural shift. No, its time for the conspiracy theories. It’s all about the money. I know now, my Dad told me. The world game is all big bucks. As a burgeoning industry fuelled by violent, gambling punters, soccer is promoted big time by the cash cows and the media and the kids that sell peanuts at matches or whoever. Australia’s sport culture may just be corporate society’s little bitch.

However, there is still hope. The rise of soccer in Australia may be more Australian than evidence suggests. As a tiny population of people who reckon they’re hot shit, Australia is a country of sport in general. But not just any sport, sports we win at. We love sport, if we’re winning it. With a little success in soccer come the masses of southern-cross tattooed dumb-shits yelling ozyozyozyyyyyy! Because at the end of the day Australians love to spend all of our material wealth on a bunch of blokes kicking shit and each other in a field, better than other blokes do. Oath.

At least we didn’t inherit competitive bloody darts from Britain.

-W

So, This Tony Abbott Nonsense….

“Tony Abbott might get kicked out! Well, no one’s challenging him … but … it’s gonna happen … probably….”
-all the political news I’ve read recently

Now, from the outset, let’s be clear. I, like apparently everyone else in Australia, don’t like Tony Abbott as Prime Minister of Australia. I mean, he tries to evoke some sort of Manly Bronzed Aussie Mateship in what he believes is the majority of his electorate, but he doesn’t promote drinking beer? Seriously, Hawke cried several times on national TV and he’s still more of a man than Abbott. I could also bore you with how bad his policies are for Australia but I’m sure someone else already has. The point is, I don’t like Abbott. Okay? Good, because I’m going to defend him now.

As I see it, we’ve two issues here: the media and the backbenchers. They’re sort of connected and feeding off each other at the moment, like the very hungry caterpillar. First, the backbenchers. Listen here. Grow the hell up. The party does not exist for your own career. Sure, fight for your electorate, but don’t make it public and damage your own party, which got you elected and is the reason you have any semblance of relevance at all. Mind you, this isn’t exactly new; there’s been lots of mouthy unliked backbenchers in the past – who can forget Wilson “Iron Bar” Tuckey, the backbencher that always sat in front of the cameras (I’m sure it was just a coincidence…) during parliament sessions? Oh wait, you did forget him? Don’t worry, I only just thought of him myself. Nevertheless, mouthy backbenchers, one can argue, are an integral segment of political parties; they can say controversial things (usually stupid but there are occasional exceptions) without too much fear of reprisal, unlike ministers. They’ll always be around.

So why am I so annoyed now, and why should you be too? Well, mouthy backbenchers were mostly harmless; they said a lot of edgy against-the-grain stuff to puff themselves up for the media but they never really achieved anything. That is, until Rudd. Rudd was thrown out, whilst in government, by edgy party members who got scared of losing. It was a freak event, something that shouldn’t have happened and should never happen again. Or so you’d think. Right now, the same thing is happening; Liberal Party members are getting anxious and apparently lobbying for a leadership change.

Is this now the precedent? Every time backbenchers get edgy from the polls, they try to throw out an elected leader of Australia? Hell, Abbott thinks The Average Voter is impressed by iron man participation more than intellectual credentials, and he has a whole team of people and apparently millions of dollars analysing them. Are we going to say that when these people are uneasy, mid-term, we’re going to take drastic action? While you’re at it, you might as well build a new school because kids have been telling you they don’t like going. We already make jokes about how long it takes for progress to take place here, so are we going to make this new layer of caution that apparently every post-Rudd prime minister has to exercise? Visionary governments will always have times of unpopularity during their terms; they can’t only do the things The Average Voter wants if there is to be any real progress. And I know, I know – Abbott stands for anything but progress, but we can’t make exceptions here. Leadership change is bad for a party, bad for a government, bad for the country.

And the media. There is no news. So please for the love of god, stop ‘speculating’. All this speculation and attention is, I’m fairly sure, 50% of the reason why Rudd was kicked. Of course, report facts and issues that are in the public interest, but let’s be honest, there’s a seriously disproportionate number of articles about the current situation, whose latest bit of news is that there is still no candidate willing to contest Abbott. The thing is, media attention worries people far more than opinion polls; it’s not so much a spotlight on the situation, more a death ray that pulverises instead of seeing anything. If it’s shone on anything, given enough time, something will give way. If the Abbott camp wasn’t in trouble, it sure is now, and it’s going to lead to actions that would otherwise not have taken place. If journalists weren’t just being lazy and regurgitating the same crap over and over again, none of this would have happened.

What’s even worse is that those edgy backbenchers are actually feeding this death ray with leaks and shows of ‘disillusionment’ (spell check assures me that’s a word). They feed information in hopes of bringing about a change of leadership, which news outlets gobble up to make a news story, which brings about more panic within the party, which brings about more leaks. It’s a cycle of destruction that benefits the news outlets but destroys the public image of the party and is sure as hell not going to help those leakers get re-elected. Scott Morrison’s done what he should be doing (I never, ever thought I’d say that) when he told the backbenchers not to follow the Labor Party’s example and stfu.

I, for one, am hoping that Abbott does not get thrown out. I hope the Liberal Party come to their senses and ignore and/or placate the media with something other than a leadership change, not just for their own sake, but for the sake of Australian politics. If mass media, in the aim of getting ever more readers, can bring down a second elected prime minister in 8 years, we can forget about action on climate change, a proper NBN, legalising gay marriage, and the many other very-slightly-controversial reforms Australia needs. We make jokes about America’s difficulties in passing universal healthcare, but ask yourself, if we didn’t have a national healthcare scheme, would we, in our current form, enact one? Or would we have The Average Voter saying it’d only help dole bludgers and have it shouted down by edgy backbenchers and The Herald Sun?

-Z