The politics of journalism

I generally don’t write a lot about our politics on these pages.  I’m not a political writer but then again I don’t pretend to be – unlike some of the so-called biased and overrated ‘journalists’ gadding about under the impression that fiction is always greater than the real thing if it is going to gather an impressive audience.

There are not a lot of good political writers left anymore. The few who are tend to be drowned out by the new-breed right-leaning champions of the wealthy, powerful and influential.  From what I have seen lately, this new abhorrent, peasant-hating crop have swung so far to the right they now have a permanent droop.  The few good journalists we have left are often too scared to write a decent, honest piece lest they become the next sacrificial lamb with the more-than-dubious credentials in reporting and are never allowed to work anywhere anytime in the foreseeable future.

Larger news corporations have undoubtedly managed to acquire more than their fair share of the say in what is pumped out to the masses and it is usually whatever is in the best interests of the larger news corporations and all of their vested interests.  Vested interests generally include the most amicable political grouping in line with their intended long-term goals.  Hence our current dilemma.

Our political system is in disarray and our politicians unworthy of the job they have been elected to do.  But you will hear nothing of the sort from the media.  Apparently they are doing a great job and the poor, the disabled, the unemployed, the sick, the ordinary worker and taxpayer will just have to suck it up because they are doing it for the good of us all.  Our right-wing politicians are untouchable while the left fall by the wayside and are crucified.

The majority of the media in this country are therefore compromised and will negate any inroads that tend to swing the pendulum towards a more undesirable outcome for the larger news corporations.  We are seeing a failing democracy under the guise that big business is the only way forward and will eventually be of benefit to all – but at this present moment in time, as one percent of the world’s population controls approximately ninety percent of the world’s wealth I fail to see how the ‘benefit to all’ is eventually going to ‘trickle down’.

It is time to change the rules of the game.

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Holiday Heaven

My husband recently decided he needed a holiday while he was home.  As he spends weeks away at sea I would have thought that just being home again was enough of a holiday but I went with it and looked at a few spots that might suit us – or rather a few spots that might suit my photography, as I was keen to add a few more sunrise and sunset beach shots to my already extensive experimentation.  You can never have enough beach shots, right?

My husband grumbled but as he was close to everything he needed, food, bed, bathroom and an occasional beer he was happy to comply – until I handed him a list of shots that I wanted to get on his ‘relaxing’ holiday.  I’m reasonably adventurous but I’m not stupid and hanging around somewhere to prepare for shots that for the most part are shot in near darkness is asking for trouble in certain situations so he was to be my ‘wing man’ and protector for however long it took me to get that ‘perfect’ scene.

As I’m more of a night owl than a morning sparrow it was his mission to wake me up before dawn and drive me to my predetermined destination for my sunrise shoot.  I was pretty disappointed that there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky as opposed to the previous day’s complete torrential washout but I worked with what I had and managed to get some half-decent orange hues and some silhouettes – besides, I was pushing my luck getting him to participate in yet another sunrise-stalking protection operation anytime in the near future.

For my sunset shot he just sat in the car and watched me from a distance as I snapped happily away.  I was surrounded by a bevy of shutterbugs, surfers and grommets.  As far as he was concerned, my safety in numbers and his comfy car seat trumped getting sand blasted in freezing mid-winter conditions on a bunch of cold, hard rocks.

On our last day I had booked a helicopter flight to get some great aerial shots of the coastline.  He’d been in helicopters plenty of times for his job so I wasn’t overly concerned during the drive to the helipad but at his shudder and reference to unreliable ‘kerosene canaries’ when he spotted it, I was on full alert for an ocean ditching, life jacket inflation and holding a very expensive camera out of the water at all costs.

Needless to say we made it back safely with some great shots – which is another story worthy of its own post.  I’m pretty sure my husband was extremely relieved to also make it back to his leather recliner and his flat-screen television for some much needed shuteye for the remainder of his stay at home.

Routines

We all have our routines.  Logically I would even call those who have no routine being routine in their lack of routine, so to speak.  My routines at times border on being extremely habitual to mildly obsessive and I’m just under the threshold of OCD according to my psychiatrist – which I am not too worried about considering I’m one of the saner ones in my family.

All the door locks in the house must be checked before going to bed and before leaving the house.  This is non-negotiable as safety will always come before paranoia in my books.  My husband has another word for it and won’t even check the locks before we go out anymore as he knows I’m going to do my once-over anyway.  As he has been known to leave doors open and cars unlocked in a less-than-secure neighbourhood in the past I’m not taking any chances with our personal protection anytime in the near future.  Our home is equipped with an alarm system, window locks on Amplimesh safety screens and I have been entertaining the idea of getting some surveillance cameras for the front door.  The latter isn’t so much for security as it is to catch the smug would-be graffiti artist in the act after the defacement of my last political sign during the last election.

My dogs have routines, too.  If I’m still sitting on the lounge when their bedtime rolls around they will take themselves off to find a good position on the bed, taking the opportunity to find the best spot on the pillow before I can get to them.  Dinner time is apparently 5 o’clock in the evening no matter what.  It does not matter if the sun is blazing in the sky in the summer or pitch black in winter.  They seem to know.

My husband has his own routine.  He is up with the sparrows while I am still in bed long after the sparrow has fed the kids and gone off to forage.  He takes his naps seriously as he works away a lot and can be found in his favourite chair while home checking out the insides of his eyelids on a regular basis.  His routine borders around the time he is home and the time he is away and we all just have to go with it – hence my preoccupation with aforementioned lock checking and security no doubt.

My son also has a routine although we are not quite sure what it entails.  I gave up trying to get him into patterns years ago after he nearly blew the house up and not long after that losing the keys to the house in an unknown location.  My only routine with him is to not leave him in charge of the house or in possession of too many keys at once.  It seems to work.

I generally get by with my routines.  Every now and again I will leave the sameness and safety of my regular patterns and do something completely left field and erratic – more than likely having planned it all out in my head beforehand.

 

Dad revisited

Dad got a phone call recently from a Foxtel representative extolling the virtues of their new whiz-bang IQ3 entertainment system that he simply had to have despite the fact that he already had an older system of theirs which was working well.  He latched onto it immediately of course.  If anybody knows my father they know that if it’s new and it’s shiny he just has to have it even if he doesn’t know what it is.  For the two weeks he had to wait for it to arrive we all heard about this new and exciting system he was getting on more than one occasion.

I was covertly giving him a wide berth until he called to tell me that it had been installed and I had to go down there as soon as I could to put the key code in for his Internet to be connected to his new Foxtel.  I decided that ‘to be forewarned was to be forearmed’ in this case and I rang the local installer to find out exactly what had occurred during the installation.  I think I could hear him scratching his head as he told me that he had installed almost the same system for Dad as he already had except this one had an Internet connection and he didn’t know what a ninety-year-old was going to do with an Internet connection.  I didn’t either but I was pretty sure Dad would think of something if he pressed the wrong button.

I got the Internet going and showed Dad how to use his new technically-savvy remote control and left him to it.  He was hopping with excitement and pressing buttons before I hit the front door.  I rang Mum when I got home and I had an each-way bet with her on him calling me the next day because he’d pressed something he shouldn’t have.

Technically I lost that bet because he called Mum 24 hours later and told her he didn’t want it, he couldn’t work out how to use it, he had pressed the wrong button and he had ended up with a couple of movies that he had apparently ‘bought’.  He wanted me to organise a cancellation of Foxtel, a return of the IQ3 and a complete cancellation of his account.  I must be psychic.

I eventually sorted it all out with a threatening phone call to Foxtel asking them never to ring my father again as he was ninety years old and nearly deaf and he didn’t understand what he was getting into.  If they wanted to argue the point they could talk to my solicitor and see who came out looking better at the end of the day.  I then tuned Dad’s television into all the new free-to-air stations he wasn’t getting and left him to it.  He gets so many new stations now for free that he says he wonders why he didn’t give Foxtel away years ago.

Mum has just informed me that he is talking about buying a recorder for his favourite free programs.

I can’t wait.

Free Ruby

Our dog, Ruby, has just recently been freed from her ‘prison’ after a mishap six weeks ago that ended in yet another very expensive down payment for our vet’s latest model BMW parked in the opulent driveway at vet headquarters.

When I say mishap, I’m referring to our son’s inability to listen to instructions and not put the dog on his rather high bed lest she decide she is going to launch herself off to investigate something important like the opening of a cheese wrapper somewhere in the house.  I had been told by the vet that the cruciate ligaments in her back knees were weak so everyone in the house was on notice.

As Ruby had never been confined before it was a test of endurance to see who would cave first.  I’m ashamed to say it wasn’t me this time as I held my ground against the pitiful howls and accusing eyes until the fourth week when we bought a bigger cage for her to wander in and a pram for her to get out and about in and she forgave me.

My husband wasn’t keen on the idea of a doggie pram but as long as I pushed it he was good to go.  The merits of a cute white dog riding in a pram cannot be understated, however, as women gravitated in our general direction wherever we went, so he settled in comfortably after a while and demonstrated his pram-pushing skills around the local park.

It’s been a long six weeks and I’ve been told by the vet that she will need monitoring and rehabilitation for the following three months.  I’m pretty sure I’m in the wrong profession.

My son has been given the full counsel but I think he’s learned his lesson as he gets to mow the lawn for free for the next twelve months to make up for it.  If he’s really lucky he might even get to wheel Ruby around in her pram.

Droning On

I recently became the proud owner of a new drone.  One of the more upmarket drones to complement my photography and take some half-decent shots of the coastlines in this country from a different perspective.

My husband shook his head at the price and mentioned something about me having the navigational skills of a wood duck in regards to actually becoming an accomplished drone pilot but I dug my heels in and learned as much as I could on You Tube about my particular model drone, the do’s and don’ts and the finer points of drone flying once you get over first-flight phobia and are on your way to becoming a semi-seasoned pro.

For my first flight I took it down to the local recreational reserve.  There are an abundance of coastal areas in my neighbourhood so it was just a matter of looking at the map, determining whether I was actually allowed to fly there with my app and getting to the ‘launch site’ at a favourable light hour.  I took a friend along with me who knew a thing or two about drone flying for moral support so I was feeling particularly brave.

I had it started up and hovering 120 metres over Moreton Bay before my friend informed me that I must be feeling pretty confident because neither he nor his friends took their drones out over the water their first times and just flew them around various parks low and slow to get used to moving them around.  I decided my next time out would, in fact, be at the local park down the road.  My illustrious shots of gorgeous coastlines from 120 metres up could wait until my brain caught up with what my fingers were actually doing with the remote control.  No doubt the back-to-home button has saved me on a few occasions in the meantime.

I’ve encountered a few people who are keen to let me know that they don’t like drones much and I’m infringing on their privacy and I’ve become equally as keen to quote them the rules, app allowances and tell them to go back 30 metres to where they came from originally to a safe distance before they infringed on my privacy.  It seems to work for the most part and I get left alone.  The remainder of the time I get a lot of questions about drones from other droners or would-be droners which makes me feel a little important even if I don’t know what I’m doing half the time.

Right now I’m slowly working it out and getting some half-decent drone shots of some coastline but I’m keen to explore more possibilities and angles of drone photography.  My husband is not holding his breath on me making a living out of drone photography and he is hiding all the cards just in case I find something else to add to my collection of cameras, studio equipment and drone paraphernalia in the near future.

 

Cyber Dad

I’m really enjoying living close to my parents again and being able to see them more often.  Dad is now taking advantage of the fact that I am close by and gets me to help him with his day-to-day ‘electronic difficulties’.  This can cover anything from making sure his television is connected properly after he has played around with it and messed it up, making sure his  new phone is working after he has played around with it and messed that up, too, and ringing utility companies when something goes completely wrong and Dad has tried to fix it and it becomes yet again even more messed up.

Just recently Dad decided that he wanted to enter the world of cyberspace.  We all cringed but we went with it.  Everybody else was doing it, apparently, so he wanted to do it, too.  Mum says that if everybody went out and bought a pink elephant in a purple tutu for no apparent reason he would want one, too, even though he didn’t quite know why.

He wanted a tablet because my uncle had a tablet and wouldn’t stop raving about it.  I wish my uncle would stop raving about stuff because the last thing he raved about was a coffee maker and Dad bought one even though he doesn’t drink coffee.

I had a look around and decided that the best tablet for the money by comparison and quality was the Apple iPad.  I couldn’t get Dad down to the store fast enough as he wanted to get his hands on one and start pressing the buttons.  I explained to Dad that to have the iPad connected to the Internet he would also have to have an Internet connection established as well.  I naturally got the job of Internet organiser and it was an agonising wait of 24 hours after he purchased his iPad before I could set up the Internet.

My father is not technically savvy but he did his best to learn and was amazed when I downloaded a few game apps like solitaire and jigsaw puzzles.  The irony was not lost on me that Dad had just paid five hundred dollars to play Solitaire and do a few jigsaw puzzles when he had a perfectly good five dollar pack of cards and some good jigsaw puzzles which would have cost him around thirty dollars.  I have also taught him to explore the world using Google Earth and he’s been everywhere from the pyramids in Egypt to his old house as a kid.

My dad may not be technically minded but he is having a darn good time tapping away and feeling like he has one up on most of his retired jigsaw genius, card playing, travelled friends.

And it’s not a complete loss, of course.  When Dad finally gets sick of it and moves onto a computer or back to his cards I may be the new owner of the almost-new Apple iPad.  I may have to fight my son for it, however, as he apparently doesn’t have one of those in his more technically-savvy-than-me arsenal.