Archive for the ‘Social Commentary’ Category

Jacqueline Howett’s response to a “discusting” book review

April 3, 2011 4 comments

In case you hadn’t heard, Jacqueline Howett self-published the unfortunately named book “The Greek Seaman” and more unfortunately still, over-reacted to a reviewer, in what might be the longest tantrum online.

Here’s the original review by Big AL:

If you read The Greek Seaman from the start until you click next page for the last time I think you’ll find the story compelling and interesting. The culture shock felt by the newlywed bride, Katy, who finds herself far from her native England, living on a cargo ship with her seaman husband Don is a good story in itself. Katy adapting to this all male environment with a crew of mixed nationality, most non-English speaking, is compelling. Whether Katy and Don will survive the criminal conspiracies the ship owner and captain have planned is yet another conflict that should keep a reader in suspense to the end.

However, odds of making that final click are slim. One reason is the spelling and grammar errors, which come so quickly that, especially in the first several chapters, it’s difficult to get into the book without being jarred back to reality as you attempt unraveling what the author meant…

Her response:

This is not only discusting and unprofessional on your part, but you really don’t fool me AL.

Who are you any way? Really who are you?

What do we know about you?

You never downloaded another copy you liar!

You never ever returned to me an e-mail

Besides if you want to throw crap at authors you should first ask their permission if they want it stuck up on the internet via e-mail. That debate is high among authors.

Your the target not me!

A little taste of the novel in question:

She carried her stocky build carefully back down the stairs.

Don and Katy watched hypnotically Gino place more coffees out at another table with supreme balance.

I’m not sure I have enough time to read more about this stocky ballerina who marries a seaman. I’m not even sure how one goes about watching someone hypnotically – when I look at my cross-eyed cat for too long, my eyes get watery – does that come close?

Her angry, error-laden responses (see comments), including two F offs in full glory, make one wonder about:

* how a self-proclaimed writer could have such a limited command of language

* why people treat online communication so flippantly (and disregard manners)

* the danger of bias and self-delusion (the deep end of too much positivity, perhaps?).

Sadly for other self-published writers, Jacqueline makes a good case for traditional publishing, where very few writers make it through the hoops of fire.

Google her for more details on how to get her book. Or, you could find a big nest of green ants and roll in it.

Beware of parents

March 23, 2011 2 comments

Language is a wonderful thing; but it needs to be used sparingly and with caution.

This is especially so, with signage in high traffic areas.


That’s a classic.

Social networking’s bleak future

March 5, 2011 4 comments

What’s next in social media? If PriceWaterhouseCoopers can do it …

YouTube, Twitter & Facebook  merge to form one giant, idiotic,
super time wasting website called…

Thanks to CS for the email.

Brisbane’s Batman Building

February 22, 2011 4 comments

Some call it “Gotham City“. I call it the “Batman Building”. Officially, it’s the State Law Building. Kids notice prosecutors flying out of this building in full court gowns and wigs. One has even been called “Batman” by a kid quoted in the Courier Mail.

It kind of sneaks up on you ...

It used to be the ugliest building in the city, before it was redone ...

I didn't Photoshop this. This is how my camera took it. A forcefield, perhaps?

And from George St.

It blends right in. Hmmm. Check out the bit on top, to cover the air-conditioning.

I got a real kick out of the view inside the foyer, on the corner of George & Anne Streets. The public might notice this while walking past the building.

How long should one pause between words? Safe. Just....

More importantly, one must wonder what the staff inside think of it all, considering the fact that baddies have sent the odd ticking package to this address. Safe. Just.

Have to love government advertising.

PS. Yes, there are 2 more sides to the advertisement, but from the outside, you don’t see them, hence, this humourous context. It took itself out of context and I just helped it along.
PPS. Thanks to Reader D for pointing out this marvelous piece of advertising.

An uplifting corporate uniform

February 13, 2011 4 comments

Something on the grinding, awful bus trip from work on Friday made me smile, so I simply had to share it (at great risk to myself, I might add).

It was at my eye level, as I’d scored a seat, so it’s not like I was looking for mischief… Anyhow, take a look at this uplifting corporate uniform and note which way the little plane is pointing on the belt buckle.

A perky, corporate belt buckle for a travel agent (Flight Centre)

Now, think what message it might send should the little plane be pointing down.

Assuming we both keep catching the same bus, I shall be avoiding eye contact with this man all year.

Have a great day!

Coffee shop? Really?

February 13, 2011 6 comments

Imagine my surprise, when my new boss led me in between and behind old buildings and under a boom gate for our first team meeting over coffee. Coffee shop? Where? Is this some peculiar initiation ceremony for writers?

Squeeze through a little gap to get around it, or just go under it. All in the name of coffee...

What was even more surprising, was that we couldn’t get a seat. It was packed.

Wooden bench seats & tables inside and coffee machines screaming their own happy tune. Brisbane's hip new place for caffeine.

What does this say about Brisbane’s sophisticated coffee-drinking set? Would you like to get mugged with your coffee, or would you like your coffee in a mug?

Now that I’m back in the city working, after a long stint in the burbs, I’d appreciate any tips on places to go. Do you know of any cool places?

P.S. This place is somewhere around Elizabeth St Brisbane. Have fun trying to find it!

Australia Day. And no, Sir Parkinson, we’re no British mini-me

January 26, 2011 2 comments

Happy Australia Day everyone!

I hope today is the day that everyone who’s lucky enough to be here, sends up a thought or prayer of gratitude. It’s the day we celebrate our “Lucky Country” status. Even those who’ve recently been down on their luck know that if you had to be in a natural disaster, better here than just about anywhere else: more than 22,000 flood-cleanup volunteers in Brisbane on one Saturday alone would suggest this.

Australia has always been a country of droughts, floods and fires. But it’s also the place where no matter who you are, you can roll up your sleeves and make something of yourself. Even convicts who were sent to the much maligned Port Arthur convict settlement had the opportunity to work off their crimes and sins and be released into the most beautiful country, to start life anew.

British tv personality, Sir Michael Parkinson, gave this year’s Australia Day address, being the first non-Aussie to do so. If it works, so what, is the Australian attitude to most things, and this was no different. Having a whinging Pom address us as a nation on our special day? So what, turn the meat on the barbie, darl. But, after his speech, he told reporters,

Why should Australia not be a republic? “It’s its own country, its own man. I find it incomprehensible that it’s not that now.

The dear man jumped on the trendy Republic bandwagon, without fully appreciating the Australian psyche, which is a shame, given that Parky’s insightfulness is supposedly legendary.

What Parkinson missed is this.

In Australia, we’re a practical bunch. If it works, it works. We’ll fix just about anything with a coat-hanger and superglue. We don’t care what you do or how you look, as long as you try to join in and carry your own weight – except when you absolutely can’t – then we’ll carry you. We recognise that we were once a colonial outpost, but while the rest of the world was preoccupied, something happened – we grew up.

Parkinson, like many others, insists on painting Australia as a pre-teen (tween) who should move on and become a surly teenager – that, to establish its identity, it needs to deny its past (especially the good bits and harp on about the bad bits) – and move away from its roots. This is sad. It’s also a misjudgment of character. Worse still, instead of letting us celebrate who we are, Parky tells us what we should be. If the Republic rant had to be included, it could have been more thoughtful, like…

Australia is its own country. It wouldn’t be surprising if it became a Republic, but then, that’s up to the Australian people. It’s not for me to say it should be the case, because that would be me assuming some sort of colonial authority, which would be highly ironic on Australia Day.

Parky, over here, you should know, that just because we love you, doesn’t mean we’ll listen to you, particularly if you preach. So it is with the Queen. Except that she has the good grace to know her place. If we want to become a Republic and we have nothing else to spend millions upon millions of dollars upon, we’ll give you a call. Thanks, mate. Remember, we’re a practical bunch and spending millions of dollars to remove references to the Queen in all our statues, and chucking out all the dinnerware and cutlery and stationery in Parliament House and our embassies… well, it doesn’t seem that practical, does it?

So, Happy Australia Day, fellow travelers. Or, Orstraya Day. ‘Cos we don’t need to say it like Parky, to know what it means to us.

Brisbane floods: Another day in paradise

January 17, 2011 2 comments

Just a quick update. Must be day 4 of relocating the bookshop from the flood zone and everything hurts.

Maybe this is why.

Moved 3 rooms like this one, with bookshelves on all 4 walls...

Great news, is that everything’s out and safely in another location. So now, it’s just re-shelving. Re-cataloguing is something entirely else and isn’t a priority.

Some books weren’t so lucky.

Just a few of the books that didn't make it...

There was no time for fussing. With rain threatening and mud waiting to be cleaned out…

Packing on the run ...

Just another load

This part of New Farm is looking great now. Lord Mayor, Campbell Newman was even on the beat collecting kerbside rubbish yesterday (Sunday) – hats off to him, he’s working hard. There are muddy reminders on the roads, but with the rubbish gone, you could be forgiven for not noticing there was a disaster here. But that’s only in some streets, in this particular suburb, which has pulled up remarkably well.

Volunteers who packed onto council busses recently, however, have sometimes been frustrated by the lack of co-ordination, resulting in the wasting of hundreds of man hours (person hours, if you must). One bus, for example, had volunteers lining up from 7am, but didn’t take off until after 10am. It drove around for half an hour, then deposited volunteers in an area of New Farm where people were coping well and turning away help (no-one accepts help unless they really need it & assume that someone needs it more). So, that whole bus load of people, who’d given a whole day, were told to wait by the bus to be taken back to the depot – where the next bus load of keen volunteers was being loaded up, again, to an unknown destination.

Overall, the recovery operation has been great, but the volunteers need to be co-ordinated better. Also, someone needs to better think through how to manage donations of goods instead of turning them away and demanding cash. Not everyone has cash to donate. The argument that the cash can then be spent in the region itself is a bit of a furphy also, because those shops are under water, unable to resume normal supplies etc.

It’s taken me the better part of a week just to help one household in one street in one suburb. Happily, the house is now liveable, and subject to wrangling with insurance, life goes on. However, there are so many others who are still pushing mud out of their front doors, and volunteers are being mismanaged. It’s maddening.

Brisbane Floods: Catching concrete, saving fish

January 14, 2011 1 comment

Dear Friends,

On Thursday, 13th January, 2011, at about 4 a.m. the Brisbane River peaked.

Reliable sources tell me (without compromising photographic evidence) that New Farm was party central the night before the Brisbane River peaked. Residents, sick of waiting for the inevitable, took to the only store that was open … the Brunswick Hotel. The bottlo did a brisk trade, with a queue ten cars long into the evening. That would be the convict spirit (pun intended) coming through – if you’re stuffed, you may as well quit worrying about it.

The morning of the 13th, when the river peaked and started receding, residents could barely recognise their neighbourhood.

A local rescued a fish from a gutter in Villiers St, New Farm. Happily, for the fish, it was returned to the river. The fish’s name was “Max”, if you must know. We think it was a Whiting.

Andy rescues a fish from Villiers St

The Auntie-who-thinks-of-everything provided me with a bunch of photos which she took for you, Dear Readers. Auntie lives in the now-swamp of New Farm. I’ll be out there cleaning stinky, burping mud with her shortly.

I’ve put the images into a slideshow (below), to the haunting sounds of La Spina – Brisbane pop princess Anna-Maria La Spina & opera-singing brother, Rosario. You might want to check out their first album together, La Spina: Always You. I reviewed it here. Thanks Anna-Maria & Rosario. I know you both care a lot about your hometown.

As mentioned in my post yesterday, Brisbane has lost its Riverwalk to the flood. It was due to be dismantled during the night, but eye-witness Auntie was saying her last goodbye to it at about midnight when it started making loud pinging, snapping and cracking noises, as if it were being detonated into pieces. The police present radioed it in – next thing we knew, two bits (one around 7m, the other around 70m) broke free and caused much stress – should they have knocked into a bridge, it would’ve been done for. In the morning, just before one such piece was due to collide with a bridge, a brave little tug boat came out and bumped it under safely.

One wonders how much concrete now lies at the bottom of Morton Bay and precisely where. One minute, fish are swimming on concrete; next, the concrete comes to them. Very confusing times, indeed.

Here are the New Farm-centric images from Thursday.

Please keep Queensland in your thoughts and prayers.

Article & links to volunteering here.

UPDATE: Reader Lee suggests that our fish may in fact be a Bream – thanks Lee!

Queensland Floods: city-crabs, runaway restaurants & goodbye Riverwalk

January 12, 2011 34 comments

More than 75 percent of Queensland is under water. The flood has reached Brisbane, with the peak of 5.25m expected at 4am tomorrow (and again at 4pm tomorrow).

Milk, bread and fruit/veg shelves are bare. Inner city supermarkets were emptied out yesterday. Today, this spread to suburban shops which are nowhere near the inundation. I took this photo this afternoon at the Aspley Pick ‘n Pay Hypermarket (Coles).

Fruit, veg, bread, milk, torches, bottled water - empty shelves

Because I didn’t engage in pre-emptive panic buying, my kids will be eating brussel sprouts, squash and organic zucchini. They’ll be so pleased (not). They should be, at $11/kg, $10/kg & $11/kg respectively. Not to mention the $7 for half a loaf of bread (the only one left, which happened to be made of bricks and gumboots for the gluten-free market).

This afternoon, Oxley’s restaurant floated down the Brisbane River in pieces, with stacked chairs and tables still on it, until it hit Brekky Creek.

Oxley's Restaurant broken up & floating down Brisbane River

A strange sight near the Riverwalk today, when crabs were found between New Farm and Teneriffe.

Crabs on the grass near the Riverwalk between New Farm & Teneriffe!

Fortunately, the rain stopped today. It was sunny and humid, but still the river rose.

Sunny & humid: a day without rain

A few more photos around New Farm and inner Brisbane.

Alford St New Farm

Brunswick St New Farm flooded

James St New Farm flooded

Lower end Brunswick St flooded, view from Merthyr Rd

Nandos New Farm, sandbagged

River Walk to Power House


Boats on pontoons were drifting down the river at about 10 knots. There’s so much wreckage in the Brisbane River – it looks like a moving dump-site. The Moggill Ferry has broken a guide rope – a massive anchor will be helicoptered to it at first light. The Island barge might have to be scuttled (sunk), to prevent it from tearing away from its moorings and destroying infrastructure like bridges (to be decided tonight). The floating walkway around New Farm (being a heavy concrete object) is to be broken up into sections and disposed of during tonight.

There are currently about 127,000 people without power and 3,600 people in evacuation centres. Current estimates are looking at 2 years to rebuild Brisbane. And, the worst is still ahead of us.

What’s moving, is how people are chipping in and helping, friends, family and complete strangers alike. Nick Earls writes about Aussie stoicism here.

The peak (revised down to 5.25m) is expected around 3-4 am
Over 50 suburbs in Brisbane expected to flood
12 confirmed dead (another likely)
43 missing
9 feared dead
Chinchilla water is contaminated with e-coli
7,500 properties are already affected by water in Brisbane
20,000-30,000 people will be affected
the peak in Brisbane, will last up to 16hrs
water treatment plants in Brisbane are suffering under the strain …
we’re being asked to conserve water (oh, the irony) for the clean up.

Crime Stoppers (to report looters) ph 1800 333 000
Red Cross National Reporting & Inquiry Line: ph 1800 727 077
Police (non urgent) ph 131 444
Donations Flood Appeal ph 1800 219 028
Check out my earlier posts for further info.

[Many thanks to Reader Joanna for the photos. The 850m of walkway, 5.5m wide known as the Riverwalk – is being broken up tonight – so the photos Joanna has provided are probably the last ones. So sad. People lurvz the Riverwalk and it’ll be no more.]

UPDATE: The Rocklea Markets have flooded, so our fresh fruit & vegetable supplies are devastated. This isn’t good. Not a lot of point buying frozen either, with uncertain power supplies. Tinned food, here we come.
UPDATE: check out these photos from the other side of the river.