Monday, November 29, 2010


Since it looks like we're going to get a despicably malevolent Coalition Government in Victoria, who will immediately set about doing despicably malevolent things like cutting middle-class taxes and upping the numbers of police, I thought it might be interesting to have a long, nostalgic look back at all the achievements Labor have made for the arts*, in their past 11 years in government. Sadly they don't have any.

In retrospect it seems just about the best thing they did for the arts was have Lynne Kosky as the Arts Minister and the Minister for Transport at the same time. Kosky spent so much time implementing bad policies, giving these bad policies worse publicity, and generally stuffing up the public transport system, that she didn't have any left over to do the same for the arts. Whether this was inspired policy on the part of Bracks, or merely an accidental oversight, we have a lot to be grateful for.

On the other hand, we've also had horrible train poetry, and legal graffiti walls. People are probably too distracted by their MXs to bother with the train poetry, but you've got to wonder who the policy wonk was that came up with the idea of legal graffiti walls. 'Legal' and 'graffiti' are not words you'd want to place in a sentence together, after all. Having a legal graffiti wall is like screwing in an empty bottle into a light socket and then trying to turn it on - it doesn't work that way. The two policies pretty much typify how government has seen the arts in the last few years - give the bastards a wall or two in a public place and they'll be happy.

Then of course there was all that stuff about live music, pubs and clubs, etc. You may remember that Labor decided to deal with crime and alcohol-related violence by making things more difficult for licensed venues, etc. (This was of course in keeping with a general Labor approach of longstanding: if a small minority of people are causing trouble, make things more difficult for everybody. The people causing trouble may or may not stop, but it looks like you're doing something.) All of which may help you to understand the announcement by John Brumby, during the election campaign, of $25 million and an 'Australian Music HQ' for Melbourne. Though I have no idea what an Australian Music HQ is I guess it's something to do with education, which was especially thoughtful of Brumby - providing education for hundreds of talented young people who would not be able to play music anywhere in pubs and clubs which have already been shut down. Oddly most Victorians don't seem to have liked this idea much.

Compared to all this I really don't think the Liberals have done too badly. Ted Baillieu's speculated about Melbourne having a Nuit Blanche Festival where the pubs and clubs and bars and galleries and museums and theatres stay open all night, which is pretty much counter to anything Brumby's come up with - the idea that the arts could involve people partying and having fun! Of course, this would involve getting rid of the restrictions on 24-hour licensed venues. Not that this would be a bad thing.

You've got to give the Liberals and the Nationals time, of course. In a few years they'll come up with some really, nastily horrible stuff, like letting more private hospitals into the state so that less rich people have to use the public system - or something like that. In the meantime I rather like the Coalition policy on the arts. Yes, I actually like the sound of art being about people enjoying themselves and having fun, possibly even making money. I'm sick that way.

*As you will observe the author follows the generally established principle of all opinion writers: began with broad sweeping generalisations and then neatly and elegantly segue to one's own area of interest by means of an unexpected non-sequitur.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Z marks the spot

He always dotted his t’s and crossed his i's, circled his l’s, and capitalised his full stops, and knew all 29 letters of the alphabet. Sadly, when it came to his p’s and q’s, all he could come up with were queasy poos.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

When it comes to maths, I've forgotten more than I ever knew

Years ago, I actually studied maths for a while at school and uni. I can't say that I was particularly good at it, but I did rather enjoy it. I found it a wonderfully pointless activity; if someone had pointed out an obvious and simple way to use maths to make breakfast, say, I think I would have been disappointed and given it up immediately.

Not that I was particularly good at it, and I don't remember much of it now anyway- really when I think about maths now it's to remember how much of it I've forgotten. I didn't mind geometry (something about parallel triangles and what happens when AB meets CD via DF and BS but somehow gets confused with LM and PX, causing us all to turn on the telly and watch QA). Calculus was fun (well, I thought the name was fun, and that's all I know about it now), and of course algebra, which was all about saying a + b = a + b was laughably simple (but then so was I). There was integration (not sure), induction (no idea), statistics (nine tenths of the time I have no idea what people were talking about after they said 'nine tenths of the time') and trigonometry (do mathematicians ever run out of triangles? Apparently not). I can tell you a little bit about pi - the ratio of a circles circumference to its diameter, or something like that - and I can tell you a little less about logarithms, which are things that mathematicians use to do something else (I don't know what). To this day, I do know what the square root of two was (and presumably still is) to ten digits, but I can't tell you why.

And then, of course, there is e. I can't really tell you anymore than that, e is just e. I don't know where e comes from, I don't know what you do to get e, I don't know what you do once you get e, I don't know why you would want e in the first place, I certainly don't know what e is equal to. I did know, or at least I think I knew, once. I certainly remember doing a lot of things with it. Maybe even then I didn't care much, really: I just thought e was really cool. Whatever it was, in all its mysterious ineffable numinous intangibility.

So basically this is a blog post about something I once knew a little bit about but know even less about now. They say Socrates, the man who decided that no-one was sure about anything, was the wisest man in the world. Well, when it comes to maths, I think I've forgotten more than I ever knew. Does that make me a genius, or something?


Life without alcohol is like a totter without the teeter.


Witch doctors invent aeroplane that runs on magical chants. They call it the Mumbo Jumbo Jet.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The F word

You say that I'm flippant,
A frivolous floozy,
A flibberty-gibberty
Fool drinking ouzo,
A featherhead fiend
In frou frou and FCUK
Well FYI friend
I don't give a fire truck.

You say I'm a flop
That I'm full of flapdoodle
A flatulent fathead
Not worth one firkytoodle,
A flabby old fizzer,
A frump Fezziwig -
Well FYI, friend,
You can go get a fig.

You say I'm a failure,
A fibber, a faux,
A Facebook-friend only,
A flea-brain for a foe -
Well FYI friend,
You old so-and-so,
What the frick what the frack
What the fudge would you know?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Variations on a theme by Hillaire Belloc

There was a man. His name was Jim.
Although some people called him Jack.
His parents used to call him Mick,
His aunties sometimes called him Will.
To all his friends his name was Geoff,
Except for those who called him Bob,
And those who knew him best as John
At work they called him Belvedere,
And at the club, his name was Tom.

But no one mourned when he was dead.
The papers thought his name was -

Friday, November 19, 2010

A list of made up swear words

Here is a list of made up swear words. Made up swear words are so much more offensive than real ones, don't you think? I've always thought that - well, since this afternoon, at least. Obviously I don't know what they mean, but they must be pretty damn filthy otherwise I would have never bothered making them up. Actually, I don't think anyone knows what they mean - you can't get more offensive than that. You can't say that about most other words, can you? No, you can't.

Festering gruntlenods

Quinching snirtlebums

Case of the squidges

Buttomulous glurpump

Rurpling finnywump

Rampunculian spox-lurchee



Rutile untling

Irk of the banshwater


Olmiferous hunchbuggling.

Disgusting. Now never say any of these words ever again.

Blog post written by a certain cat


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Rules to live by

Sometimes free shit is free because it's shit.

How to make things

How to use Einstein's theory of relativity, Darwin's theory of evolution, Grimm's law, and Gramscian Hegemony theory to bake a nice chocolate cake

Einstein's laws of relativity, Darwin's theory of evolution, Grimm's law, and Gramsci's hegemony theory are all revolutionary theories that have changed the world. Chocolate cake is a delicious substance that tastes nice. Now, you can apply the former to make yourself the latter! Doesn't that sound delicious?


- A nationful of supervillains
- An earth-sized planet orbiting a sun-sized star (no, not this one)
- A time-space continuum, about a hundred billion years in duration and several zillion square kilometres in volume
- A Large Hadron Collider, and several large hadrons to collide
- A trusty hammer
- A nail
- A bag of chocolate chips
- A telephone

1. Take the nationful of supervillains, from wherever you get that sort of thing, and put them on the earth-sized planet orbiting the sun-sized star, which you will have placed in a handy position in your own time-space continuum.

2. Apply Darwin's evolutionary theory, which states that in a place with limited resources, species will adapt themselves to take better advantage of those limited resources in the fight for survival. Over the centuries the supervillains will gradually evolve capabilities beyond any normal supervillains.

3. As the supervillains take over the earth-sized planet and discover the secrets of the sciences, put the chocolate chips in the Large Hadron Collider and collide a few hadrons into them.

4. Soon, the supervillains will take over the time-space continuum completely and will exist in a state of perpetual, all-out war with one another, and will use fantastic weapons that cause the time to bend in upon itself and space to curve until it almost collapses in on itself, according to the principles set out by Albert Einstein.

5. Nail the time-space continuum to the wall.

6. Phone to the Cheesecake Shop and order a nice chocolate cake from them instead.



Yesterday morning I heard that Oksana Grigorieva said that she lived with Mel Gibson for months while fearing that he would murder her.

Then I remembered that she was suing Mel for millions of dollars, which put matters neatly into perspective.

Afterwards I read that the entirety of Europe was in an economic decline, and would possibly be so for years, because of their single monetary currency, which placed everything into context.

Then I remembered that because of climate change nobody will be alive in a century anyway, which cast the news into a whole new light.

And then when I was on my lunch break I read that millions of years ago an object of infinite density and mass with the ability to devour whole solar systems was born, which is, or would have been rather grim news for the Earth if it happened to be anywhere near it, and everything fell into place.

Then I saw a shoe. It was quite pleasingly shoe-shaped. It cast the whole putting into perspective thing into a whole new light, and placed that casting into a whole new context, and all the casting-into-new-light and putting-into-perspective and falling-into-place were again put into perspective, and I took a broad view of the relative importance of the whole viewpoint. I mean, they were still bad and shit. But the shoe was shaped like a shoe.

What I mean is it sometimes helps to put the putting into perspective of certain matters neatly into perspective.

UPDATE! - I have no idea if there is a moral to this story, but perhaps if there is it goes something like this:

If Oksana Grigorieva and Mel Gibson collapse into a point of infinite density and suck up the entire European financial system into their naked singularity, and causing the planet to explode and making Tim Flannery worry even more about climate change, don't worry, just don't forget to wear your shoes.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Things the whole know should world

I just wrote the following sentence:
"Good Gasp!", I Godded.
Sometimes, I wonder if I carry my enthusiasm for spoonerisms a leetle too far. Other times, I just know.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Plagues, hordes, locusts, cats

We saw the locust invasion, we did. Hordes of them. Well, more like a single grasshopper which is, what, one thousandth of a single horde? Anyway, Harriet and Beatrice jumped on it every time it tried to hop away, and presented its mangled corpse to us later for inspection. I can't tell you how safe I feel now.

If God ever smites us with small native mammals like bilbies, or hordes of endangered birds, I reckon the cats would be pretty pleased with that, too.

From Lieutenants 'arriet and Beatrice of the Anti-Locust Plague Brigade

Well it was just like this, miss,
I was mindin' me own biz, miss,
I was marchin' with me sis, miss,
As a good cat oughter do.
When I saw with me own eye, miss,
Descendin' from the sky, miss,
A dark cloud on the fly, miss -

Well, they landed with a thump, miss,
With a boom and bang and bump, miss,
A battallion on the jump!, miss,
Grass'oppers on the 'op!
Well, I said then to my sis, miss,
"Bloody 'ell! We can't 'ave this!", miss,
'Cos it really was amiss, miss,
And we thought it oughter stop.

So we boxed 'em and we fought 'em, miss,
We chased 'em and we caught 'em, miss,
What a lesson we then taught 'em, miss,
We turned 'em on their ear;
An' if you cry, "I don't believe you!", miss,
We've a present 'ere to leave you, miss,
No, your eyes will not deceive you, miss -

Report written by Lieutenant 'arriet
Co signed by Lieutenant Beatrice.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

How to catch things

A man: go up to his face and inhale deeply.

A cold: go up to his face and inhale deeply.

A mancold: go up to the face of a purple people eater and inhale deeply.

A ball: with your hands.

A football: with Gary Ablett's hands (rest of body not mandatory).

A taxi: with a very large hand.

A train: with extremely large hands, and gloves.

A falling star: with a black hole.

A meteorite that is going to cause colossal devastation to the earth: by consulting the timetable and being at the station a few minutes before it is due to arrive, except on Sunday.

A moment: with a camera.

A tune: with a somewhat unfocused camera, or possibly, a microphone.

A television show on when you are at work: with a mancold, and a television.

A fish: with a net.

An escaped criminal: by digging a criminal-shaped hole and waiting for them to fall in it.

An escaped criminal fish: with luck, they're especially slippery.

A period in history: with a history-shaped hole.

A runaway horse: by going up close to the face of a rugged manly-looking fellow from on the Snowy River and inhaling.

A wolf in sheep's clothing: with a huntsman in tree's clothing.

A nudist: with clothing.

A dwarf: with a giant.

A friend at a difficult moment: with an awkward pause.

A comma: with the hands of a linguistician.

A clause: with a comma.

A phrase: with a slogan.

A sentence: with a full stop.

To the beauteousness of the beautiful one in their beauteous beauty

You’re just like a beautiful sunrise
Except not quite,
There are generally less birds singing when you’re around
And you’re not so bright,
And if a sunrise walked in here
We’d all horribly fry,
But if you walked in here we’d probably be all right -
We wouldn’t even die.
And you have more legs
And more facial hair
And unlike a beautiful sunrise also
You only fill up some not all of the air.
You’re not very fleeting,
You’re slightly less cosmologically significant too
But in all other ways,
(With the exception of some),
I absolutely and utterly wouldn’t hesitate in any way to compare a beautiful sunrise to you.

UPDATE! - Something of an explanation here, if you can read it.

Workers seizing the means and arms and legs and brains and hearts and pancreases of production

I watched the new ABC drama Rake starring Richard Roxburgh. The first episode has Roxburgh’s character defending a ‘famous economist’ who turns out to be a cannibal.

Are you surprised that the economist – a Professor Murray – turns out to be a ‘Friedmanite’? He couldn’t be a Keynesian or Marxist could he?
Dear ABC Board,

Where are the Marxist cannibals on television screens, I ask you? What do you have against Marxist cannibals? Marxist cannibals have thoughts and feelings and hopes and dreams just like the rest of us. Of course their hopes and dreams usually involving feasting on the sweet, sweet flesh of other people while turning their wealth over to large state-owned bodies, but that's no reason for you to ignore them.

I am not of course saying that the ABC should actively advocate on behalf of Marxist cannibals. That would be wrong, for the ABC, as you know, must remain politically unbiased and report all sides of the debate in a fair and balanced manner. I mean, neither you nor I may be Marxist cannibals - (well, maybe you are) - but we should look at least devote some time to examining this subculture. It's the only way we can change things for the better.

I look forward to the day when you rectify this imbalance and shows such as MARXIST CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE and KEYNESIANISM BESTIAL ORGY appear on our television screens.

Food for thought, eh? (No, no, not that sort of food.)


Sunday, November 07, 2010

An interesting point

I have a point to make.

Some of you may not see the point of the point, but others hopefully won't be disappointed at this point.

Here is the point.

Now, I hope you agree, wasn't that an interesting point? You're welcome.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

I'm so tired I could sleep a horse

Sleep! Could there be anything better? It's hard to tell really, because if you are currently enjoying sleep then you aren't really able to say for sure, being asleep at the time. But it's certainly comforting and relaxing, much more comforting and relaxing than not-sleeping, which I suppose isn't always so bad, except if you happen to be not-sleeping at a time when you want to be sleeping. That's not very comforting and relaxing at all.

We must put a lot of work into sleeping. Just think of all the effort you go to to get things right when you are trying to sleep but are not-sleeping. You put your foot at a certain angle to the sheets, and then you put it at a different angle, you place your hands on the sheets and then you try and place them on yourself, you shift your weight to a slightly different position on your hips, you flip the pillow over to get to the cool side, and then five minutes later notice that the cool side has become the hot side, and so you flip it over again, you become hot and stick both arms out of the blankets for ventilation, and then notice that you are cold again and stick the arms under the blankets, and carry on doing this for quite some time, you rearrange your body so as to accommodate the cat that has decided to flop down on the bed beside you, but not in a way that you squash the other cat that is on the other side of you, and by this time you notice that the blankets have become messed and you can't possibly sleep in a bed where your feet keep on poking out the spot in the bottom created by the absence of blankets, and so you jump up and rearrange the blankets. All this is in the first half hour or so of going to bed.

A little later you end up actually going to sleep but only to dream fitfully about the British economy (but have you ever tried to have a non-fitful dream about the British economy?) because that was the article you read just before going to bed, or possibly you dream about pink elephants because that is what everyone is supposed to dream about, or maybe dishwashers wearing frilly underwear, which possibly all culminates in your formation of plans for a new British economic system based around pink elephants on dishwashers while wearing frilly underwear, but you can't know for sure because you weren't concentrating on the details, you were concentrating on trying to get some proper sleep, which you can't really because the blankets have become messed again and your arm is at an incorrect angle. By this point we've probably got up to the 45 minute mark after going to bed, and you've got another seven or so hours to go.

And of course it might be rather helpful if a scientist or philosopher or someone actually calculated the correct angle for your arms to go and the correct position for the blankets and the correct orientation around cats, and the right sort of article to read before going to bed, and so on, and so forth, so you can simply and neatly organise your position in bed and briskly and efficiently start sleeping, but I wonder if it ever will happen. I mean, if sleep is so relaxing and comfortable as everyone keeps saying, you can't really be brisk and efficient about it, can you? You just have to do what feels good at the time. But how do you do what feels good at the time when you can't find anything that feels good enough to make you relaxed and comfy?

It makes you wonder if sleep really exists. Maybe it's a legend invented to torment everyone who is not-sleeping, which is everyone. That would explain why we never remember what sleep actually is like afterwards.

All of which isn't really a way of leading up to this, a poem I wrote a few weeks ago, about sleep. It bears no relationship to my own life apart from the few bits where it does.

Marital serenade

O darling let us go to bed
And let us sleep from A to Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Come darling let us go to bed
And let us sleep from A to Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
A cat will lie upon your head
And in your nose its hairs will shed.

But darling, let us go to bed
And let us sleep from A to Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
A cat will lie upon your head
And in your nose its hairs will shed;
Upon my legs as they are spread
A dog will lay its sleepy head.

Yes darling, let us go to bed
And let us sleep from A to Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
A cat will lie upon your head
And in your nose its hairs will shed;
Upon my legs as they are spread
A dog will lay its sleepy head;
Upon my face a cat will tread
And miaow and miaow until it's fed.

We'll get no rest while we're in bed:
O darling, let's get up instead.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Federal Shadow whatever representing the federal seat of wherever

If you've been watching the pollies on telly - and there's no good reason why you should have been - then you might have noticed Federal Shadow whatever representing the federal seat of wherever, Barnaby Joyce, has taken to referring to his colleagues in the Liberal and National parties by a nickname, easily derived from either their first or last name:

John Cobb, Cobby
Simon Birmingham, Sime or Simo

And so on, you get the idea.

It must be pretty annoying, you'd think, dealing with this sort of thing, day in day out. Certain names would present particular problems to Joyce, though:

Fiona Nash - Nashy?

You'd end up not being sure whether you were talking about a person or a pear. On the other hand,

Bill Heffernan - Heiffer

actually seems quite appropriate.

But some difficulties must be insuperable. What must Barnaby call his dear leader

Tony Abbott -

Abbo? Abba? ABS? Each suggestion is more excruciating than the last. Someone has got to stop Joyce - before it's too late.

Barnaby Joyce, or, as certain very powerful and influential and high-up people like to call him, "Barnaby Joyce".

Thursday, November 04, 2010

In explaining why he would not

In explaining why he would not participate in the discussion that perpetuated a tiresome and meaningless controversy about a particular media celebrity, he unwittingly participated in the discussion that perpetuated a tiresome and meaningless controversy about a particular media celebrity.

Later, he went on to write a series of articles that became a book further elaborating his explanation about why he would not participate in the discussion that perpetuated a tiresome and meaningless controversy about a particular media celebrity, which would ensure that the tiresome and meaningless controversy about that particular media celebrity would continue for some time, possibly until long after that particular media celebrity had died.

Some people theorise that he did this out of spite for the particular media celebrity who he did not, in fact, know.

Whenever people asked him if he could explain his explanation, he would threaten to write a sequel.

He died, one day, when he accidentally took a knife to a spoon fight and was instantly set upon by all the others. Few people attended his funeral.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Very somewhat bigger events of the present day

I went into the city today and I saw:

Horse poo
Frilly dresses
Top hats
Fake moustaches
People in horse costumes

This event wasn't, as you might expect, the Festival of Unicycles Sitting on top of Horses Placed on top of Men and Women, Standing, or the Grand Event of Bagpipes producing Horse Poo and People in Horse Costumes in Frilly dresses, or even the Exceptional Occurrence of Fake Moustaches on Top Hats, and it was certainly not the Gala Performance of Unicycle Playing Bagpiping People in Horse Costumes or the groundbreaking Worldwide Celebration of Horse Poo at which a whole bunch of horses, men, women, frilly dresses, top hats, fake moustaches, unicycles, bagpipes and people in horse costumes also, by the most amazing and unbelievable coincidence you could possibly be brought to believe, simply happened to be in attendance.

No, strangely enough, it was not any of those things. It was simply the smaller event before the somewhat bigger event that happens tomorrow. You know, the somewhat bigger event that is so somewhat bigger that I took two days off work to avoid it, even though it's a public holiday? Yeah, that one.

Um, that's about it really.

An in-depth examination of some problematic issues

Meat-eating! It's a difficult, complex subject, fraught with problems on all sides of the debate. On the one hand, meat tastes so goooood. On the other other hand...and here we get into the problems .

"Eating meat is wrong", say some people. Fair enough. That seems like a simple, uncomplicated, matter-of-fact statement. But what if the meat was made out of marshmallows, such as with the Marshmallow Man as you may have seen on Ghostbusters? Then things get a little more difficult. Let's break it down into pros and cons, shall we?

CON: The Marshmallow Man is fictional. But then, other types of naturally-occurring meat could be made out of marshmallow - who knows?

PRO: The Marshmallow Man is evil, and not eating him could lead to him wreaking untold devastation upon the cities of the world, even if he is fictional.

CON: It would probably be cannibalistic to eat the Marshmallow Man, unless he could be scientifically demonstrated to be actually a different species to homo sapiens. Even then, there would be some doubts. I have no idea what my eight year old nephew eats, though I wouldn't be surprised if it was nothing but marshmallows, and it wouldn't be a good thing to eat him.

CON: Marshmallows aren't particularly healthy. As Christ said, or would have said if he was asked about the subject, "Man cannot live on marshmallows alone."

Also to be taken into account, CON, you may not like marshmallows anyway, and CON, why should innocent marshmallows suffer just for you or me, although, PRO, the marshmallow-man-flesh could easily be substituted for something else, like meringue-bacon or gingerbread-yak-ribs.

But suppose you really do like marshmallows. What, then, if the marshmallows on this putative marshmallow animal were made out of fish? That is another hard question. It is a hard, difficult, morally fraught question that torments modern-day society: 'why did people start inventing marshmallows made out of fish? They taste disgusting!' The answer we are normally given to this question is, 'maybe'. And I'm sure both you and I know what we think about that.

In conclusion, don't eat your nephew. Eat a marshmallow instead, with sauce.
Email: timhtrain - at -

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