Census paranoia

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For weeks my Facebook feed has been full of hysteria and paranoia about the data being collected in the Australian census on August 9. Here is something I posted about it.


We folk in the country might not be able to get fibrery NBN or vegan restaurants where the waiters wear manbuns or trains or buses that take Opal cards or concerts by visiting superstars or $2 million cubby houses in desirable inner city areas but we don’t have to ring the census people to get paper forms because they are delivered right to our doors.

I’ve just looked through the questions on the form and I can see why people are so worried about privacy. I was so worried that I checked to see how little various governments know about me and how much more they will get from the census.

Federal government:

The Australian Taxation Office only knows my name, my birthday and age, my address, my income, my email address, the names of any people who pay me wages, my bank account details, my superannuation fund (and how much gets paid into each it year), my marital status, which charities I donate money to, my business expenses and my fixed IP address because I lodged my tax return online.

Centrelink only knows my name, my birthday and age, my address, my email address, my income, my mobile phone number, any employer who pays me money and how much, the value of my car and furniture, how much rent I pay and to whom (information almost assuredly shared with the ATO to make sure the landlord is declaring all income), my marital status, my bank account details and any disabilities that I might have. I know that they share data with the ATO because I had to clear up a discrepancy between the two departments’ records earlier this year.

Medicare only knows my name, my address, my age, which doctors and hospitals I use, what treatments I receive, what prescriptions are issued to me and which pathology tests I have done. Someone also maintains the database that checks that I don’t buy too much pseudoephedrine.

The Australian Electoral Commission only knows my name, my address and where I voted in the last election.

The NBN people only know my name, my address (because someone had to come out to put the aerial on the roof), my Internet supplier and how much and how fast I can use data.

State government.

The RMS only knows my name, my address, my birthday, my driver’s licence number, the make, model and colour of my car, that I have a trailer, where I go to and from using toll roads, my bank account details (so they can top up the credit on my toll transponder), what my face looks like, how many demerit points I have accrued on my licence and my age (so that I get a discount on registration and licence fees).

The Health Department only knows my name, my address, my Medicare number, details about hospital treatments, my Centrelink number (for bulk billing) and my mobile phone number (because I had dental work done through the local hospital and they had to ring to confirm the appointment).

The transport people only know my name, my address, my age, my telephone number, my Opal card number (so they can track everywhere I go), my bank account (so they can top up the Opal credit) and my Centrelink number (so they can give me the correct discount on country travel).

TAFE only know my name, my address, my email address, my telephone number, my academic qualifications, my superannuation account and my tax file number (because I worked there).

The police only have access to my name, address, demerit points, and licence and car registration status through terminals installed in their cars.

National Parks and Wildlife only know my name, my address and my qualifications for free park entry.

The Rural Fire Service only knows my name, my address, that I am a freelance journalist and what my face looks like (because it’s on my media accreditation card).

Local government.

Oberon Council only knows my name, my address, my telephone number (because I applied for a job at the library and they needed to ring to say “Bad luck!”) and the name and breed of my dog. They also know all the details of my house and the block of land it sits on.

So, looking through the census form it seems that the only thing that various governments don’t know about me is my religious affiliation. This is an extremely private matter and none of their business, so I’m going to mark “No religion” just to stuff up their statistics.

Driving In the Country

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New personal bests today:

1) The biggest kangaroo I have ever seen. He was taller than my car (which was put right next to him for scale).

2) The closest I’ve ever come to hitting a kangaroo. I’ve danced with ladies and been further away than that.

I would like to thank Bridgestone for their remarkably responsive tyres, Ford for the thin paint on their cars and the design of the steering system, Peter Wherrett, John Leffler, Evan Green, Doug Chivas and all the other people who have given me driving lessons over the years and my parents for passing on the genes for reflexes and the impulsiveness necessary to act first without spending time thinking about it.

Cody TRHD was on the back seat at the time and kept repeatedly barking “What?” for the next five kilometres.

By the way, I mean it about the tyres and steering. At 100km/h and without taking my hands off the wheel I put on about 180 degrees of turning the steering wheel to the left, 360 degrees the other way to come back and 180 to the left again to straighten up.

No macropods were harmed in the making of this story.

I’ve long said that club motor sport is the best training anyone can get for driving. One of the things it teaches you is what your car can actually do. Since I moved to Oberon I’ve had a conscious program of honing my driving skills, because everywhere around here is either dirt or high-speed bitumen. And it snows. The skills don’t completely rust away if you don’t use them, but occasional oiling and a polish never hurt.

I mentioned some of the people who have given me good advice about driving over the years. Increasing driving skill isn’t all about skid control, which is all that ever seems to be talked about in the media. (Skidding cars make good TV visuals.) The teachers I mentioned talked a lot about attitude and awareness. Here are some of the pieces of advice that I have found useful over the years:

– Keep to a speed such that you can stop the car well within the distance that you can see. This is why you slow down in fog and have good lights for nighttime driving (I have 100/80 watt headlight globes).

– When driving in a line of cars, watch the car two in front of you. You get a few seconds more warning of things than just watching the brake lights of the car immediately in front of you.

– If you think you are driving too fast you are correct. This applies if you are driving around the Coles car park, taking the kids to school, driving to the next town to go shopping, trying to regain second place in the Supercheap 1000 or going for a stage award in the Coffs Harbour WRC round. If your driving makes you uncomfortable, slow down.

– Concentrate on the job. Driving a car needs your full attention. I won’t even use a hands-free device to talk on the phone in my car. If the phone rings I’ll give it a glance to see if it’s someone I need to stop to talk to, or if I can’t stop I’ll hit the answer button and say “Driving. I’ll call you back”. We did a test in a rally one night and found that any chit-chat between driver and navigator that went beyond relaying instructions and acknowledging them caused the car speed to drop by at least 10km/h as I compensated for dividing my attention.

– You will make mistakes when driving and events aren’t always predictable. Expect the unexpected.

Today’s Oberon Adventures

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1) Always tie your dog to something immovable. We were walking past a cafe which had a tethered dog outside. It was quite a large dog and it took a dislike to Cody TRHD so it jumped at him, barking and snapping. What it was tied to was a light cafe table (the tablesort that gets taken inside when the shop is closed). It was hilarious watching the dog trying to outrun the clattering and bouncing table. The dog owner seemed to think it was my fault that she hadn’t secured her hound properly while she was inside the cafe. (No cafe tables were harmed in the making of this anecdote.)

I was talking to the man on the Rotary raffle table later and he told me that he saw someone tie a dog to one of those stands that estate agents put outside for their brochures. The dog took off, scattering paper all over the place and wrecking the stand in the process.

chikoRoll2) I was waiting for my Chicko roll to be heated up and there was a large parking spot outside the shop. A lady pulled up in a new Land Rover Discovery (the one with the Range Roverish grille). She looked at the parking spot and then did a U-turn over double lines, cutting off traffic as she did so, so that she could park on the other side of the road. She then crossed the road to go to the cake shop. I assume the illegal U-turn inconveniencing other motorists was an attempt to gain Range Rover cred.

3) Speaking of Range Rovers, a real one turned up shortly afterwards, again looked at a usable spot and again did a U-turn over double lines to park elsewhere. Perhaps the warranty is voided if drivers don’t break the law at least once per day. Laws are for plebs anyway.

4) Cody and I were waiting to cross the road. There were two white utes (what else?) approaching. The one in front put its left blinker on and stopped preparatory to reversing into a parking spot. The second truck went around it and carried on. As we started to cross the road the first driver decided that he didn’t want to park there so he took off forward like someone in the Hilux class at a drag race meeting. He missed us, but only because we are agile for our ages.

5) When two cars are travelling in convoy it is essential to park them side-by-side so that nobody gets lost. If it so happens that the second parking spot is across the exit driveway of the pub bottleshop then that is just too bad. Drinking is bad for you. In any case, as the two cars were parked at 70 degrees someone with a small car could still squeeze out of the bottleo.

Also:

In Oberon there is 45 degree rear-to-kerb parking all along the main street. There apparently is a tolerance, as it seems the rule is actually 45±30 degrees. Here are some hints for drivers:

triangle1) If both rear tyres are touching the kerb you are not parked at 45 degrees.

2) Do some mathematical work (don’t worry, all you need is a tape measure, a calculator, a pencil and a piece of paper.

a) Measure the distance between the outer edges of your rear tyres
b) Multiply this number by itself
c) Divide the result by 2
d) Take the square root of that number
e) Write the result on a piece of paper
f) Take the paper to your nearest hardware store and ask the man (or even the woman) there to cut you a piece of wood that length. For lightness, maybe use dowel rod.
g) You now have a handy measuring stick. If the outside edge of your right rear tyre isn’t the same distance from the kerb as the length of the stick you are not at 45 degrees.

3) Practice driving. You can get better if you try.

Well, that was an experience

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After a talk at the Blackheath Philosophy Forum I was having what seemed to be a rational discussion about climate change with someone who had brought it up. I mentioned the systematic changes in plant flowering and animal reproduction that had been occurring as rainfall and temperature patterns had changed over the last few decades. He said “Weather”, which should have been a red flag. I mentioned that fifty years after the Snowy Mountains Scheme had been built one of the major power stations has been mothballed because the change in snow distribution has meant that there isn’t enough water to keep it running. He said “Weather” even louder.

He then went full denier.

Within minutes I was surrounded by four deniers who were talking over each other as they spouted the standard denial cliches, each repeating what the others had said in case I hadn’t heard it the first time. Here are some of the things said to me, claims which are sadly very familiar to anyone who believes in the value of science and has followed this non-debate for any length of time

  • The IPCC has stated that there has been no warming of the planet for the last 17 years.
  • Atmospheric scientists at places like the CSIRO were told that if they spoke the truth about the hoax they would lose funding.
  • If a volcano went off it wouldn’t matter what we did.
  • Weather!!!
  • It is not possible for humans to affect weather or climate.
  • Reports of global warming are based on faulty measurements.
  • The majority of scientists agree that climate change is not happening. (!)
  • 30,000 scientists signed a petition.
  • The climate has always changed and that is what is happening now.
  • Maverick scientists are persecuted and their freedom of speech has been compromised.
  • It’s based on modelling, and the models aren’t 100% accurate.

Rinse. Repeat. To quote Yul Brynner in “The King And I” – et cetera, et cetera, et cetera!

It’s all there – the cherry picking of data, the paranoia about suppression, the inconsistencies (climate has always changed like it’s doing now but it’s not changing now), even if it’s true there is nothing we can do because nothing we do can affect climate, IPCC research shows … (the IPCC doesn’t do research, it collates the research of others), it’s all political (true, but not what the speaker meant), …

At least they didn’t call themselves “skeptics”, although I wouldn’t be surprised if they reached a consensus that they had had victory over this “warmist” when I finally gave up and walked away.

A fun day out

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Today’s plan was to go to Milthorpe for lunch. Google Maps through Firefox suggested three routes to get there from Oberon –

O’Connell, Kelso. Bathurst, Milthorpe
O’Connell, Lagoon, Bathurst, Milthorpe.
O’Connell, Lagoon, Bathurst, Blayney, Milthorpe.

Google’s map app on my tablet (presumably using the same geographical information) suggested:

O’Connell, Kelso. Bathurst, Milthorpe
O’Connell, Lagoon, Bathurst, Milthorpe.
O’Connell, Lagoon, Perthville, Wimbledon, Blayney, Milthorpe.

The last one of these looked the most interesting, so off we went. Then I found that the GPS had a different idea, because when I drove through O’Connell it was telling me that the next thing was to turn left in 20-odd km at Kelso. Unfortunately there are two roads off to the left from O’Connell (both with signposts pointing to Lagoon). Almost as soon as I took the WRONG ONE, the GPS lady said “Route recalculation” and told me to carry on. When she told me to turn right into Sewells Creek Road to Rockley I knew that this was not where I wanted or needed to be. As doing anything else meant driving all the way back to O’Connell I decided to keep going.

From the air the 21km of Sewells Creek Road looks like the world’s most perfect dirt road for fun and spirited driving. It has both tight and fast corners, long uphill and downhill straights, tricky bits and bits where you run out of revs in top gear. In reality, I estimate that there might be as much as 200 metres of the road that isn’t fiercely corrugated, with that spread out evenly over the 21Km. This meant that by about one kilometre in I had no effective rear shock absorbers. For those who haven’t experienced shock fade, it means that when you touch the brakes on the corrugations the car goes to wherever it wants to go and you had better be ready to keep up. It was a slow trip (sometimes using what is known as “low range 2WD”) and required more concentration than a Vegemite production line. I received a very baleful look from a couple of Herefords, but they got a good barking at by Cody TRHD and didn’t attack.

In the middle of Rockley there is a sign pointing to Trunkey, 24km away, but Ms GPS said no, and took me north to Perthville and south again so that I covered about 50km before I came to an intersection with a sign that said “Rockley 28km”. At least it took me to Blayney from there without any problem.

Because of the going the wrong way and the excruciatingly slow drive to Rockley (where I didn’t want to go to anyway), it was now well past lunch time. People with T2 diabetes don’t often hypo, but if we go without food for too long body chemistry can get itself confused and cause the liver to dump glucose. The feeling is nasty, but survivable, and is best avoided. “It’s OK” I said, “I will get something to eat in Blayney, there is a good fish’n’chip shop there”. Except that the only place open selling food in Blayney was the Chinese restaurant. This is an excellent Chinese place and people drive from Cowra and Bathurst to dine there, but it’s not the sort of thing you eat in the car and I couldn’t dine in because of the “ten minute maximum dog in the car even with all the windows open” rule.

(I suppose I could have bought a pie at the service station, but Mrs Mac’s are still clearing out the warehouse left over from the 1998 overproduction disaster and the name “Four & Twenty” refers to the fact that those pies are only baked on the fourth and twentieth of each month and kept warm for all the other days.)

So, on to Milthorpe. I must be thinking of another small town out that way because Milthorpe was nothing like the pleasant small country village I remembered. If you know the Blue Mountains all I have to say is “Leura”. The tourist gouge of a traditional country town as imagined by someone who lives at King St Wharf and shops online for organic kale and free-range asparagus tips.

Which is how I ended up eating KFC in a park in Bathurst.


Speaking of eating KFC in Bathurst, I remember the day I bought KFC in Bathurst, put the box on top of the car and drove off, spreading chicken and chips all over the road outside. Shortly afterwards I bought a coffee at the Bathurst Information Centre, put it on the roof and drove off, spreading flat white all over my car windows.

I bought KFC again today. I was expecting to get two boxes (because I had ordered two meals) but it all came in one large box, so I put everything on the bonnet of the car while I checked. The box had what I had ordered, so I drove to the Information Centre to eat in the little park opposite.

Then I noticed I didn’t have my wallet.

I am not bothering to buy a Lotto ticket today because I’ve used up all my good luck for the day.

Ambiguous songs – you need more than the title (Part 2)

Copyright does not apply to the titles of artistic or creative works – only to the content. This means that there is no infringement if a song or novel is written which has the same title as another work. Recycling book or film names seems rare, if it ever happens at all, but there are many songs which share titles.

Today’s musical selection includes a few of these pairs, and even some triplets.

You can see Part 1 of this collection here.


This is an interesting pair, because Nick Cave appeared in a stage show about Leonard Cohen and his work in which he had to sing Cohen’s song. Which he did very well, of course.


USAnians have this thing about songs named for states. Often the music has little relevance to the geography. This pair is an example of that phenomenon.


The Beatles achieved a certain notoriety for the consumption of chemicals and there is that famous recorded concert by America where the audience is shrouded in smoke that probably didn’t have a legal origin, so why shouldn’t the two bands record songs with the same names.


Jimmy Barnes was a champion at having good times, Michael Hutchence died in circumstances which looked suspiciously like the result of having too much of a good time, and the 1960s were very good times for any who can remember.


Two of my favourite bands from back in the day.


Finishing off with a triplet. Two great composers who should get other people to sing their songs and someone who is a master interpreter of other people’s songs.


That’s all for this week. There will be another collection on Facebook and here in a couple of weeks.

Ambiguous songs – you need more than the title (Part 1)

Copyright does not apply to the titles of artistic or creative works – only to the content. This means that there is no infringement if a song or novel is written which has the same title as another work. Recycling book or film names seems rare, if it ever happens at all, but there are many songs which share titles.

Today’s musical selection includes a few of these pairs, and even some triplets.


When it was announced that Adele would be releasing a song named “Hello”, people started contacting Lionel Richie to tell him that he was being ripped off and asking if he was going to sue her. He had two replies – there was no copyright on the name so there was nothing to sue about and if she had recorded his song he would accept the royalties from it as a retirement fund.


Of course, using the same name could be expressed as “doing it again”. So –


Everyone has a friend named Amanda, so it’s no wonder that people keep writing songs about her.

Oh, all right. If you insist …


Here’s a couple of songs that share a name and a subject matter – booze.


And now for something completely different. With something that is even differenter. And then things get weird.


You can see Part 2 of the collection here.

Oberon’s safe children

Me, in today’s Oberon Review.

A year ago I moved from Wentworth Falls to Oberon, a distance of 40 kilometres in a straight line or about 80k by road. Apart from fewer days with fog and more days with snow, there is a remarkable difference between the two towns – the rates of childhood vaccination.

Figures have been released this week by the National Health Performance Authority showing the rate of vaccination in postcodes across the country. The upper Blue Mountains has the third lowest rate in Australia (behind the North Coast of New South Wales and Parramatta). The percentage of fully immunised children in the Wentworth Falls postcode for 1, 2 and 5 year-olds was 78.9%, 80.6% and 86.8% respectively. Note that these are the figures for 2014 to 2015. The rates may improve following recent changes to legislation restricting access to childcare and certain government benefits for unvaccinated children.

The good news is that the rates for those three groups in Oberon are 93.1%, 92.7% and 93.0%. Parents of children in Oberon should be congratulated for the responsible way that they care for the health of their children, and for the health of children who for reasons of age or medical condition cannot be vaccinated.

It is always amazed me that there are people who deny the benefits of vaccination, which aside from refrigeration and the provision of clean water has saved more lives than any other invention in human history. The influence of vaccine deniers has been declining over the last few years, and the practice of media outlets eliciting comments from anti-vaccination campaigners on any vaccine related issue is almost extinct. Unfortunately, one outlet gave a voice to someone with an anti-vaccine agenda to comment on these new numbers. She was introduced as “mother of four vaccine damaged children” but she forgot to mention that she is also the president of Australia’s most prominent and vociferous anti-vaccination organisation. Apparently this detail wasn’t thought to be important. I hope I live to see the day when these people aren’t simply ignored but are subjected to the ridicule that they deserve.

Again, congratulations to the parents of the children of Oberon. You are doing the right thing.oberonvaxwp

Sad Songs

Today’s musical selection is sad songs – songs that make me sad, songs that should make everyone sad, songs sung by sad people, songs about sad things, and permutations and combinations of these.

I’m deliberately leaving out songs that refer to specifically identified people, so you won’t be hearing “Candle In The Wind”, “Wish You Were Here”, “Tears In Heaven” and others that I can’t think of right now. Some songs are obviously about specific people but their identities have always been in dispute.

Here’s a happy song about sad songs. After all, who could be sad if they could get Mark Knopfler and Eric Clapton to play in their band?


It’s Sunday morning, so it seems appropriate to start with a melancholy song about feeling sad and lonely on a Sunday morning.


This is the song that inspired this collection. I was driving in my car and this came on the radio. I hadn’t heard it for years and the sadness is because in a decent society people would listen to this song and ask “What on earth is she singing about?”, but unfortunately we immediately know the singer’s story.

When this song first came out Suzanne Vega was criticised for exploiting domestic violence. As sane people thought that she was drawing attention to an often-hidden problem the critics simply demonstrated that some people are so stupid that their brains have sufficient density to emit the newly-discovered gravitational waves.


I remember the first time I ever heard this song. It was just a few days after someone I cared about had died and as is always the case there were things that could and should have been said but hadn’t been.


I’m not sure how it happened, but Leonard Cohen passed me by back in the day. Oh yes, I knew about “Suzanne”, that great song sung at parties by those who had consumed an excess of certain chemicals, both legal and otherwise, and there was the inexplicable chart success of “First We Take Manhattan”, but I didn’t know much about him. One day I was riffling through the bin at a second-hand record shop and picked up a CD of Cohen’s songs. This was on it and I’ve been a fan ever since.

If you think this isn’t a sad song, just how sad does a song have to be to make the composer cry?


Speaking of back in the day and those parties we went to, several of my friends from those times didn’t get to be as old as I am.


There’s an old saying that there should be an instruction manual for parenting but there isn’t, which is why we, all of us, get it so hopelessly wrong. The amazing thing is that our children survive the neglect and mistakes and generally turn out to be pretty good people.


Sometimes you just need great visuals to bring out the power of a song, even if you use the song sarcastically. Maybe especially if you use sarcasm. I think this should get a Perpetual Oscar for the Best Adaptation Of an Existing Song In A Movie. (Other contenders are “Twist And Shout” in “Ferris Beuller’s Day Off” and every song in “The Blues Brothers”, but those are all happy uses.)


Here’s one of those songs that seems to be obviously directed at a certain person who is no longer around but is missed with regret, although opinions differ as to who that person might be. I’ll give you two versions because I can’t decide which one is the best. “Let’s do some living, after love dies”.

Susan sings the final verse of the song in her CD version, but not in any of the recorded live performances for some reason. Also, several of her live videos on YouTube are spoiled by audience halfwittery. And a note for the Autotune generation – both of these are live, one-take performances.


This was a really happy, optimistic song when it came out in 1964. Five decades later politicians are possibly even more disgusting and nothing else has changed. This makes me sad.


This was a pessimistic song from the same era (by the same composer), and the sadness comes from the fact that we still need to ask these nine questions today and nobody seems to know how to find the answers.


How could anyone not get a little teary eyed at the lines “I’d trade all my tomorrows for a single yesterday, holding Bobby’s body next to mine”?

(Sorry – couldn’t find a decent live version of this. I was given my copy of the “Pearl” album – yes, on vinyl – by someone who had received it as a gift but had never played it in case he didn’t like it.)


Here’s another song where everyone knows who it’s about but they all differ on her name, how she died, etc. (As far as I know, Taylor has never identified the subject.) What is important about the song is that it speaks to everyone who has lost someone permanently and always thought that they would see them one more time again.


I’m a great Elvis fan and not so much for Willie Nelson, but I think this is the best version. It is highly identified with Elvis because he recorded it at the time his marriage was very publicly breaking up, but Willie’s voice somehow seems to capture the hurt, the disappointment and the regret better.


And finally a song that I actually can’t listen to all the way through. Suicide has come too close to my family and Marianne’s cracked voice perfectly captures the total despair of someone who has given up all hope. She had been there and come back, but not everyone can do this.

Marianne Faithfull is probably best known for the song she recorded as a teenager, “As Tears Go By”. It is also a song about lost hopes and dreams and she re-recorded it many years later with the ravaged voice you hear in this video. She said at the time that it was a ridiculous song for an 18-year-old to sing, and she was right.

Oh, OK – here’s a bonus.


That’s it for this week. There will be another collection in a couple of weeks or when I get around to it, whichever comes sooner.

Australian Songs for Australia Day

What better way is there to celebrate Australia Day than by listening to Australian music?


And what better song to start than this? A radio station ran a poll where people could vote for the best Australian rock song ever. I wanted to vote for this but I was told that it was too old. 1982 was so long ago! I no longer bother listening to that station.


This has been described as the most beautiful song ever written. It makes people cry even when they don’t understand the words. And yes, that is a blind man playing a right-hand strung guitar left-handed. That’s the way he learnt to play.


Following a long tradition of music awards shows with inadequate sound systems, this doesn’t capture the true essence of the song. But how often do you get to see a federal Minister for Education joining in to sing a protest song? And it’s got Paul Kelly too.

[Embedding of this particular video is not allowed, but you can go here to see it.]
Here’s another version.


I was two seconds too late to get a seat at Gough Whitlam’s memorial service (by that I mean that all seats were booked in the first second) so I didn’t get to see this live. Luckily the ABC made a really good recording.


No list of Australian songs is complete without this. And a pox on the cretins who claimed copyright on some flute notes that sounded like a song that the composer had given to the Girl Guides decades before.


While we’re on the subject of Australian songs that were big international hits …


On Australia Day we need to sing the National Anthem.


Speaking of the National Anthem …


That is the fourth song I’ve featured in which one of the performers has died (plus one that was recorded at a memorial service). Something to think about.


We celebrate the anniversary of the foundation of a colony today. Some say we are still colonials. (People who want to whinge about the quality of the recording can keep quiet.)


In 1965 one of the biggest hit records in Australia was written by George and Ira Gershwin. It launched the career of this young man who later received much publicity by being conscripted into the army. Religious fruitcakes had a meltdown because of the inflammatory words, apparently unaware that the song was over 30 years old at the time and had been performed countless times before. Maybe they didn’t know this because of the colour of the people who usually sang it.


The Gershwins weren’t the only people writing songs about Porgy. Well, Porgi is near enough. One day I hope to be famous enough to have a dessert named after me.


Until John Howard dragged us into Iraq Australia had never been involved in starting a war. The country has a tradition of anti-war songs. Here is one of them.


And as the ship pulled into Circular Quay
I looked at the place where my legs used to be
And thanked Christ there was nobody waiting for me
To grieve, to mourn and to pity.

I found a video of this song which had been made by a Canadian schoolteacher who had put it together because his class wanted to perform the song and asked him to make a visual accompaniment. He was attacked for hijacking an Australian song. This song (written by an Irish immigrant) is universal, which is why it has been and can be performed by anyone from Joan Baez to Dublin pub bands.


For those who don’t remember, you could be conscripted and sent to Vietnam when you were 20 but you couldn’t vote until you were 21.

Yes, I know that “mankind kicked the moon” in July, so Frankie couldn’t have been going home in June. It’s called poetic licence.


Three Australian classics for the price of one. John Farnham can work an audience like nobody else I’ve seen, and how many people who, singing someone else’s song and seeing the originator in the audience, would invite the other singer on stage?

Side note: John Farnham (with Little River Band) actually had a bigger hit with this song than Cold Chisel did. Life’s weird like that.


In Melbourne! On a truck! With bagpipes!

And here’s another version. Unfortunately the sound isn’t too good.


I think this is my favourite Cold Chisel song. We share some history, this town (at 3:07) and I. And “young local factory out-of-worker” – brilliant.


This is actually a song about Elcho, a small island off the coast of northern Australia, but it’s been adopted by all the inhabitants of this large island home.


The title of this song says just about all that needs to be said.


I usually try to resist songs which require that words be mispronounced to fit the melody, but I’ll make an exception for this song. I can’t see cane fields from my patio, but the rest is very familiar.


Oh, all right …


I wanted to finish with the song that is supposed to make any Australian out of the country cry when they hear it – “I Still Call Australia Home”. I specifically wanted to find a version by Peter Allen, but all I could find on YouTube were Qantas advertisements, other people singing it (sometimes very well, but they weren’t Peter) and a couple of very dodgy and badly recorded performances by the composer himself. You will just have to sing it to yourself.

Ready? With a 1 and a 2 and a 3 – “I’ve been to cities that never close down …”.


That’s it for today. There will be another music festival in a week or two.