Pundits to Oddscheck: abuse your privileges, hire an actual social media expert

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SKETCH

SOCIAL media pundits have told betting agency Oddschecker to “abuse their privileges” and use their vast wealth to hire an actual social media consultant.

The unsolicited advice from those unqualified to make judgment mirrors Oddschecker’s own decision to offer sexist relationship tips to footballer James Wilson.

It followed a string of similar tweets on their corporate social media account, which inside sources say is run by a year 8 student.

Veteran Twitter user Opinionista Dogememe said it was time for Oddschecker to treat itself.

“Sure he can type in coherent English but someone needs to remind Oddschecker they’re a major multinational company benefitting from a constant money stream from addicts and their families,” she tweeted alongside a screenshot of the offending original.

“Start abusing this privilege.”

Gambling companies hold among the highest outrage-to-tweet ratios, a fact that somehow amazes some people.

Other companies are offering odds on the fallout from the scandal. “Everybody learning a good lesson and finally getting along” is way out at $6000, though ahead of “the Advertising Standards Bureau taking punitive action against the company”, which is way out at the GDP of the United Kingdom.

“Grovelling apology and a fortnight-long sabbatical before return to the status quo” is sitting at $1.10.

With apologies to Kevin Rudd

Australian House of Representatives, 12 February 2052

The Clerk: Government business notice number 1, Motion offering an apology to asylum seeker children kept in Australian detention centres.

The Speaker: Prime Minister.

Prime Minister: Madam Speaker, I move:

That today we honour the refugee children of this land, those who have richly contributed to this country we call home.

We reflect on their past mistreatment.

We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were children in offshore detention – this blemished chapter in our nation’s history.

The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.

We apologise especially for the mental anguish of these children on distant islands, and the effect it has had on their families and their community.

For the pain, suffering and hurt of these children, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the languishing, the trauma, the uncertainty, we say sorry.

And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a desperate people searching for help, we say sorry.

We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.

For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.

We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.

A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.

A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, whether from across the seas or born on our nation’s shores, to close the gap that lies between us in prejudice, xenophobia and hatred.

A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed.

A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.

A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia.

An open letter to the Australian people: crown me as your Kitsch King

Friends, Australians, expatriates. Lend me your ears, and your eyes, though beware the smoke machine. I volunteer my services in securing our nation’s forthcoming greatest victory. I do this not for the platitudes, great though it may be, but out of a simple, deep-rooted patriotism.

I ask that you give me the privilege of being Australia’s debut champion in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. This honour, bestowed on this fair southern land despite all arguments of logic, geography or a century of history, is our chance to grasp a rare kind of glory; one in which all that glitters is, indeed, gold.

Friends, I can help us gain that glory and bring this esteemed competition to Canberra for 2016. My voice cannot sing and is deaf in both pitch and tone, but that has not stopped past competitors. What this country needs is a unique visual feast, and it so happens that I am skilled in the great dance of our people. Behold! For I am arguably the finest performer of this physical ritual, aside from its creator: Mr Peter Garrett of Sydney.

Assuming the master declines to represent our land at this contest of contests, I plead that you select his natural apprentice. For I have spread the gospel of his dance; from suburban dinner parties to the karaoke bars of New York City.  Indeed, I vanquished a foe during the Great Oxford Street Dance Off of September, 2012. At least, I did according to what I can remember of that liquor-lathered evening.

So I humbly beseech thee, let me dance out the dreams of 23 million souls upon the Vienna stage. And I ask also that you comb the land for backup dancers, others skilled with the Gift of the Garrett. Sequins, plush marsupials, fireworks and artificial wind to accompany me would not go astray also.

Of course, I understand that you may not choose me to carry this heavy but beautiful burden upon my padded shoulders. But if not, I ask that I be the messenger who greets the distant continent with promises of points for the enemy’s teams. A simple smile and a “g’day Europe” with a harbour background behind me is within my range of skills.

Choose me, and we will taste victory in so short a span of competition! Alternatively, scribble your name to this petition so that my next choice, TISM, may take the mantle.

Glamorously yours,

Stephen Jeffery

P.S. I have a shirt decorated with swordfish if that helps my case. Please hire me.

P.P.S. Pls.

Maths-metal and streaking: Hottest 100 vote lobbying’s shaky history

Taylor Swift could make it into this year's Triple J Hottest 100. Photo by David Shankbone.

Taylor Swift could make it into this year’s Triple J Hottest 100. Photo by David Shankbone.

THIS month, many of my friends, relatives, complete strangers and I have been asked to make a very important decision; one that could change the course of history. There’s also a state election on.

I speak, of course, of the decision whether or not to follow the social media push to force Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” into Triple J’s Hottest 100 of 2014. Anathema to those purists whose radio dial (or scanner, since it isn’t 1989 anymore) remains superglued to 107.7FM or the various other frequencies across the country, the grassroots “write-in” vote has nevertheless gained traction and could see the mainstream pop song inch its way into the 21st year of “the world’s biggest music democracy”.

I won’t be pulling a Swifty with the others, mainly because I don’t like the song. But I can’t understand the anger it’s generated amongst some of Triple J’s diehard, parochial fanbase. There’s a subsection of Hottest 100 followers to whom the list is sacred, but who will be unhappy regardless of the outcome. They’ll moan that the 2014 poll is the “worst ever” and long for the day Ultimo is overrun and the music democracy is bloodily overthrown to establish a benevolent hipster music junta, free of the bourgeois influence of “songs a majority of the sheeple listeners like”. Read more of this post

My kind of town, Chicago is… in summer

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Chicago in the summer.

“YEAH, I could live here,” I thought as I strolled along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

It was a sunny June morning and I was on a decent hike from my hostel through skyscraper-lined streets, parkland, beaches, and riverfront, soon to arrive at the Lincoln Park Zoo.

America’s third-largest city was alive with a pulsing energy, the L was shuffling along the tracks overhead and I was growing ever more in love with this place.

That morning I had life all planned out: I’d get back to Australia, take out my life savings, somehow score a job at the Tribune and live in a hip inner-north suburb; my days spent interviewing the people who inhabited this great city and my nights whiled away at jazz and blues bars, or perhaps at the baseball.

But, like all summer flings, my feelings of forever with Chicago weren’t to last. Out of curiosity while writing this post in early January, I had a quick peek at the city’s weather to find – yikes – one degree and overcast, with the mercury to plummet to -13 on Monday.

There’s no way a kid who found the New England highland of New South Wales – a place where it snowed only once in 16 months of living there – too cold for comfort could cut it in Chicago for even a year.

The city had given me plenty of warnings: street signs reminding drivers not to park in areas of high snow concentration and large, glass overpasses between buildings so shoppers wouldn’t need to brave the frigid December temperatures. Hell, even the breeze which so cooled me in the humid start of summer should have been enough to warn me it would return with a vengeance in December, driving Arctic gusts through the Great Lakes and straight into my chest.

But I ignored all of those hints. I was too focused on the beachgoers, the advertisements for open air concerts in Millennium Park, the ice-cream stands on the footpath, the pollen drifting between the trees in the leafy suburbs.

Because Chicago and its citizens understand they have only a short time in the warmth and sunshine, they make the most of it. We have a tendency in Australia – and especially in Brisbane – to take for granted the year-round good weather. An outdoors market like the Teneriffe Festival, in the middle of winter, is of no concern because we don’t need to huddle up for warmth.

But Chicago lacks that luxury, so summer feels like a massive party, making the most of the heat before it disappears for another nine months.

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Chicago in the summer.

And even with those tastes of summer, there were parts of the city where you’d still feel like you were in Gotham, expecting the Batmobile to swing round the corner any minute.

From the moment I got off the bus opposite the art deco Union Station, I was in love with the city’s architecture. The sheer density of the inner city and its mix of styles made the whole town feel like an exciting, avant-garde experiment. It helps that it’s built on a dead flat plain, making the height of the Willis and Hancock towers all the more impressive.

Rather than the dull-as-dishwater glass monotony of modern Australian architecture, Chicago’s beauty lies in its grime and its lived-in feel. And that’s as prevalent in summer as it is in winter, so you’re hardly missing out on getting a true feel for the city if you don’t go in the dead of January.

So, no, Chicago and I will never be long-term. But I’ll still be dreaming of those marvellous summer days listening to the jazz buskers beneath the raised L train tracks, shopping in hipster stores Newtown could only dream of and gorging on the heinously unhealthy deep dish pizzas and caramel and cheddar popcorn.

We can never be together, but we’ll always have June.

A very Australian response to an unusual crime

YESTERDAY was not the day “we changed forever”; the perpetrator of the hideous crime doesn’t deserve to affect the country in such a major way.

Far from a day of change, yesterday was a day when the best and worst aspects of our national character were on show.

For the most part, compassion, decency, community spirit and mateship flourished during and after the awful events in Martin Place, trumping isolated pockets of xenophobia and hate-breeding fear.

Even as I type, Sydneysiders, tourists and some public figures have silently queued to place flowers at the police line in respect for the innocent man and woman killed.

This solemn act of mourning and solidarity replaced the voyeurism and vanity yesterday, when people were taking smiling selfies with the besieged café in the background. At least the media broadcasting the scenes were informing the public; the selfie vultures just showed the logical extreme of social media look-at-me-ism.

Similarly, tasteless tweets about how much better the city looked without cars filtered through amidst the expressions of concern, grief and sorrow.

Synagogues, mosques and churches alike opened their doors last night to give those with faith a communal space in which to comfort one another and pray for the victims still trapped inside the café.

The evidence that has come out so far about the gunman, who I won’t name, is that he was a delusional person acting alone, despite his aspirations to join militant organisations.

An Islamic State plot this was not, but it may as well have been considering the Daily Telegraph’s appalling treatment of the situation yesterday afternoon.

The whole point of Islamic State, and other Islamist terrorists, is to terrorise, and labelling the actions of this lone madman as part of a “death cult” plot, with no evidence whatsoever, played right into his hands.

Thankfully, most media outlets complied with NSW Police requests to either remove or simply not report on the demands of the gunman, so as not to publicise his reason for committing this terrible crime and give it legitimacy.

The coverage seemed to improve the longer the siege carried on; earlier (often wildly inaccurate) “speculation” gave way to repetition of what was known, while clarifying what wasn’t.

But fear-mongering did not extend to select news outlets: there were also the bigots both in person and online who encouraged violence against innocent Muslims and mass gatherings in Lakemba (a Sydney suburb with a high Muslim population), as well as those who spread hoax Facebook posts about a mysterious Islamic man warning someone not to visit the CBD during holiday celebrations at the end of the year.

These preachers of hatred and fear, marginalising and encouraging abuse of people not because of their actions, but their faith, are doing the work of Islamists for them.

The more marginalised from the mainstream young people feel, the more likely they are to be radicalised to become militant by the murderous fringe dwellers.

From the outset, Australia’s Grand Mufti and countless Muslims condemned this man’s actions and said he was not acting in their name, nor in the true name of their faith. An Islamic educator also offered his services unsolicited to police negotiators.

In response to reports of harassment against Muslims in public, the wider Australian social media community got onboard with the #illridewithyou hashtag, volunteering to stand in multi-faith unison against those who would do harm, either physical or psychological, to innocents.

Australia’s been through tragedy before, and it will go through tragedy again. But yesterday’s story does not belong to the gunman; he doesn’t deserve to be the catalyst for “the day we changed forever”.

This week’s story belongs to the courageous hostages who died to help others, the amazing professionalism of the police, emergency services and political leaders, and to a national community who, thanks to empathy and compassion, united during a dark chapter of our history that could easily have torn us apart.

Brisbane: Please say we’ve done a good job. Please.

Forget “Australia’s New World City”, Brisbane’s slogan during the G20 should be, “Look, look, I exist too! I can host things! Acknowledge me!”2014-11-08 14.48.40

As statesmen and women, dictators and warmongers (just for fun, you can fill in the blanks as to which leaders fill each description) settle into the Queensland capital for the G20, radio, television, newsprint and the internet have been flooded with listicles, articles and sound bites trying to pin down Brisbane’s identity for a captive international audience.

This post, perhaps the worst of them all because it is going meta, asserting that, if you need to find an identity for Australia’s third largest city, it is that of a younger sibling desperately trying to impress in the shadow of Sydney and Melbourne. Read more of this post