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

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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. Read more of this post

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.

Why are phone hacking victims and nude photo hacking victims treated so differently?

WHEN ‘journalists’ were caught hacking phones for stories, there was public outrage. When hackers stole the account details of 77 million PlayStation users, there was widespread anger at the perpetrators and serious questions for Sony about its security systems. When hackers stole sexually explicit images of female celebrities there was… victim-blaming.

Three cases of hacking, and it’s only the crime involving boobs where the victims are blamed. Like the proverbial deer caught in the, ahem, headlights, the public are fixated on the celebrities, rather than the hackers, the tech company and the so-called fans who let them down. Read more of this post

New England, Sunshine Coast’s millionaire parties

When the history of this increasingly bizarre election campaign is written, the past week will fall under the heading of “Eccentric business tycoons join the race”.

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What will it take to legalise gay marriage?

Over the next three days, four hundred delegates will help shape the Australian Labor Party’s policy platform for the next three years. The party’s National Conference is currently taking place at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre in Darling Harbour, and will include discussion and debate on a number of key issues, including the exporting of uranium to India and whether half the delegates should in future be directly elected by the party’s rank-and-file. Read more of this post