AFL Commentary: Let the Game Speak for Itself

The footy is back on and don’t we love it? The return of AFL to our TV sets, albeit in quieter stadiums, has been welcomed by most of us around the nation. The lack of fans at the footy has left a void into which the game’s commentators have volubly attempted to fill. This viewer is tired of being loudly lectured at by ex-players paid to become instant experts on strategy and everything else under the sun. I watch the game to enjoy the skills and contest on display. The players, generally, give their all in fierce performances on behalf of their teams. Sports commentators on Australian TV, and in the AFL in particular, seek to verbally fill every second with the sound of their own loud voices. I am sick of the incessant commentary and opinion giving, which is detracting from the spectacle of the game itself. AFL Commentary: Let the game speak for itself in the wonderful athletic performance of the players.

Too Many Loud Voices Commentating on AFL Games

Commentators of by-gone eras understood the importance of pauses and the sounds of silence in a commanding commentary of a top match. Even though they were on radio and their listeners could not see the game, except through their call of the match, they did not overdo things. Today, we face a bank of AFL game commentators made up of in-studio callers and boundary riders. This mix of media professionals and ex-players and coaches are paid to illuminate the complexities of AFL matches and teams. Channel Seven and Fox Sports own the TV rights to the presentation of AFL matches in Australia. Their teams of commentary people are voicing the pictures beamed into homes and phones around the country. I am sure that expert producers are advising these commentators on how they narrate the video of these AFL matches to the adoring viewers out there in suburbia and regional Australia.

TV Commentators Trying to Fill the COVID Void

Of late, the COVID-19 emptied stadiums have hosted scratch match like AFL games, as players transition to silence filled grounds accompanying their contests. More recently, the AFL copied the NRL in admixing pre-recorded sounds of crowds from games played in previous years. This canned crowd-noise has been artfully produced and has helped the TV viewer’s enjoyment of the game, in my opinion. The TV commentators on Seven and Fox, however, have ramped up their on-air performances in a bid, I reckon, to combat the absence of crowd-noise and excitement. The viewer is left with 90 minutes of non-stop chatter and boorish commentary by loud middle-aged men, with the occasional interjecting opinion of a token female. AFL commentary: Let the game speak for itself without all this hot air.

Leave OTT Commentary to the NRL

The NRL has always been famous on Nine for its OTT commentary by very loud blokes. League as a game is pretty simple, with teams of players running from one end of a ground to another throwing a ball. It has its exciting moments, of course, as pressure builds on defence and offensive runs break out to cross the line, ball in hand to touch it down. Big tackles and creative passes are additional entertaining components of the game. I have always thought that the commentators of the NRL have felt the need to ramp it up for the viewers at home. AFL by contrast is a far more complex game to play, with more moves, more players, and larger grounds. I consider that this indigenous Australian game is so full of athletic prowess that it speaks for itself in terms of excitement. AFL does not need the OTT call to make a great viewing spectacle. NRL probably doesn’t need it either. Too many insecure TV producers instructing their on-camera people to ramp it up loudly is the cause of the bane of our great game in my opinion. Copying Americanisms in the presentation of sporting events only detracts from our naturally terrific game.

I have taken to turning the sound off whilst watching games. Others I know have been listening to radio commentary of AFL games in conjunction with the vision on Seven or Fox with the sound down. The coronavirus pandemic and its consequent social distancing policies has provided an unexpected window into the essence of the game. Suddenly, AFL matches have been stripped of the hype surrounding them. Pure football is on display, free of the mob’s reaction to it.  I don’t blame individual commentators, as they are doing their job and probably being influenced by producers and network policies. Bruce McAvaney is almost an institution, but he does prattle on incessantly. I miss Dennis Cometti for his adroit witticisms and sparing commentary during games. There are too many so-called experts offering opinions about players, teams and games. David King is one who lectures boorishly during games and he has many compadres. I don’t want to hear all this unsubstantiated crap about why teams are underperforming. I just want to watch the game and I suspect there are many others who feel similarly to me. These seemingly endless voiced pontifications are detracting from the experience of watching AFL on TV. I love the game, but my love is being sorely tested right now.

The ridiculous attempts to justify opinions, with one or two selected moments from a game illustrating negative on-field behaviours, are downright silly. What do they say about “damned lies and statistics” being used to indemnify whatever opinion is sought? Sports commentary is and should be a hallowed occupation and role. The men and women employed in this profession are stewards of the game. They are instruments there to add to our love of the game. We, the viewing public, elevate these voices to a position beyond the chorus or as spokespersons for our chorus. Right now, there is way too much of a good thing going on. Too much expert opinion weighing the spectacle of the game down. AFL commentary has become school ma’amish and hectoring. Ex-player ‘so-called’ experts are volubly nagging coaches, players and teams for their apparent failures. The game deserves better. The players deserve better. Shut up and let the game speak for itself!

©Robert Hamilton

Quality Content Creation For Dentists

I must confess to an irrational dislike of dentists and all things dental prior to writing this post. I know that it is probably unfair to hold such feelings toward a valuable part of our society and that they most likely deserve better, but there it is. Therefore, when advising quality content creation for dentists you the reader can take what I say with a grain of salt rather than morphine on the matter. The advent of the internet has served these oral surgeons better than some in that it provides a platform for detailed discussion about their work.

Dazzling Stories of Wondrous Cosmetic Dentistry

My childhood experiences, strapped into that dental chair with a hairy fist grasping pliers stuffed down my gob wrenching out teeth, may be shared by others, I do not know. The antiseptic smells of that dental surgery on Canning Highway still chill me to this day. The blood, saliva and choking remain in my memory like a trauma from another age, when torture was common in western lands. However, to the task at hand, quality content creation for dentists is an essential ingredient for digital marketing in this day and age. Dazzling stories of wondrous cosmetic dentistry can engage readers and viewers everywhere and inspire them to part with their hard-earned cash.

SEO in the Health & Dental Space

The aspiration to curtail splayed teeth in one’s smile is universal I am sure. To not look like a crooked horse in the mirror must be a boon for those born that way. Dentistry has been a cause for celebration for many who may have hailed from the backwaters of our nation, where brothers may have married sisters in days gone by. A quality Sydney content producer like Content Maximiser can impart messages of importance to the right market for their dental clients. SEO in the health and dental space has never been more integral to the success of these businesses. Quality content creation for dentists is an integral part of effective 21C marketing.

It all comes down to telling stories, as I have mentioned quite a few times. It is not enough to do good work; you must also share the news of that good work with as many people as possible. This is where social media and the digital realm come into it. A good dentist needs to have the professional support of content creators and developers. Skilled artisans working side by side in their creation of feel good stories for a hungry public. The ugly duckling who became a graceful swan. The clown who transformed into a smiling Madonna. Did I mention that I am not mad about dentists?

Electricians and Tradies Content Development

Many working people struggle with the concept of content development for their digital marketing. Somehow it is counterintuitive for them to record their working lives on the various digital platforms. It is as if they feel they have done the work in the real world and resent copying it down on social media and their website. In fact, it requires an expansion and elucidation in the digital realm for it to be effective in promoting their work and business. For electricians and tradies content development can be a bane rather than a boon. This is why it is the smart move to put it in the hands of a professional content marketer like me.

Content Marketing Illuminates Like Light Dispels Darkness

In the same way that a light dangles from the ceiling to illuminate us from the darkness, embracing this concept frees folks from ignorance. Content marketing is the main game now and it requires top quality content development to reward businesses with success. It is not enough to just be a good tradie or contractor in the 21C, you must also spread your fame far and wide or at least thoroughly through your local patch. When a potential client searches for an electrician online our tradie needs to come up prominently in that search. Electricians and tradies content development delivers that much desired result.

Tell Your Story to Succeed

There are multiple ways to achieve this, but content development is the most organic, economic and long lasting of them. It all comes back to telling stories, as we Homo sapiens love a good story. We remember a story told to us about a situation much more than a loose load of facts without any interconnecting narrative. Social media is a platform for story telling about our own lives. Websites are most effective when couched in the guise of tales told and stories shared. Tell your story to succeed in love, life and career.

Let me help you tell your story. It doesn’t need to be a struggle it just takes a mind shift. We are all human beings, whether we lift a spanner, hammer a nail, or spark light. We all have tales to tell that can put us in a good light. The world would be a sadder place without the stories we read and hear. Content development is story development really, as we tie the strands of your skillset together to create a bridge for others to reach you.

The Price of Sport & Other Non-Essential Activities at a Time of COVID Crisis

One of the most striking things I have observed during this global pandemic is how dependent we, as a 21C civilisation, have become on recreational activities. The absence of sports on the TV and from the daily calendar has left a gaping hole in the lives of many. Likewise, the removal of live entertainment and other shared recreational pursuits has reduced our lives in a number of noticeable ways. The majority of affected people are watchers of sport, rather than actual participants of games of sports. The disappearance of the football codes, the cancellation and postponement of major events like Wimbledon, the Masters, the Olympics, Grand Prix races, and more have shrunk the worlds of millions of fans around the globe. It is clear that you don’t know what you have until it is taken away. The price of sport and other non-essential activities at a time of COVID crisis seems unimaginably high.

Sport & Entertainment Contain the More Engrossing Narratives

Governments bang on about the economy and money is an all-important factor in our survival. Working for a living, however, does not grab the imaginations of modern folk like their love of sports, entertainment and recreational activities. The increasing automation of work and workplaces has contributed, I think, to a growing disassociation within ordinary people from their jobs. The specialisation of employment has, also, meant that many workers feel marginalised from the big picture, when it comes to the economic community. Sports and entertainments contain narratives with clearer and more tightly focused plotlines and characters. Tribal affiliations to football teams overcome, to some extent, the diffused nature of living in large cities. The proliferation of sole traders, small businesses, and the casualisation of workforces leaves people with little sense of belonging within their occupations. Work matters as a necessity but fails to inspire our lives in many instances. The price of sport and other non-essential activities at a time of COVID crisis may just be priceless.

The Suspension of Economic & Cultural Activities

This coronavirus crisis has suspended many economic and cultural activities right around the world. Globally and nationally, we have attempted to thwart the spread of this deadly virus by quarantining infection and socially distancing citizens from each other wherever possible. The result has seen hundreds of thousands of older and more vulnerable people fall victim to this disease and in many cases die. Out telecommunication networks, satellites, and media have allowed us to watch hourly and daily reports following the spread of COVID-19 globally and the preventative policies instigated by governments. So far, in comparison with the Spanish Flu pandemic of the early 20C, we have contained and limited the number of fatalities from COVID-19. The 1918 Pandemic (H1N1 virus), according to the CDC, infected 500 million people and killed 50 million of them. A major contributor to the genesis of the Spanish Flu was WW1, as it was first identified within military personnel.

Flattening the Curve

The world has been in a lockdown for a couple of months since the emergence of this novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China in January. The timing of these lockdown policies has varied from nation to nation, as governments and their health agencies have sought to contain the effects of the virus. Flattening the curve has entered the modern lexicon, as planners and leaders plotted their way via strategies designed to contain the effects of this deadly virus. The rapid spread of the contagion was accelerated by large crowds at sporting events in Australia, the US and Europe. Organisers and government agencies moved to suspend these events and to initially remove crowds from attending them as spectators.

The Death of Sport

Suddenly, sports fans found themselves in lockdown at home with no live sports to watch on TV. Reruns have been on high rotation on air as sporting clubs and organisations furiously fought to stave off impending bankruptcy. Their revenue streams, via match ticket sales and broadcasting deals for games, have completely ceased. Many of these entities operated financially on a week to week basis with next to no reserves of capital savings to draw upon if something like this occurred. Players and coaches on big salaries, high fixed costs for stadiums and other infrastructure, and no income for who knows how long. Sport, the high roller in the room, the celebrity industry, was in the toilet with no foreseeable way out. Sports shows on the box were filled with opinion and uncertainty. The death of sport garnered a lot more attention than the thousands of elderly and vulnerable people dying in many circles.

Will sport re-emerge from its enforced hibernation? In Australia, the National Rugby League has promised to kick off again with no fans at games on May 28, 2020. The AFL is looking at a mid-June date. Football in Europe is starting up again. The Australian codes and their organisations will be leaner through economic necessity. Players have taken pay cuts, as have industry staffers, and many people will lose their jobs forever. Public commentators have talked about the importance of sport to the people, as a sign of the return to normality within our communities. Sport and entertainments, however, are luxuries of life and non-essential activities. It is questionable whether they will survive, as we have known them, if this virus returns and no vaccine can be created. Perhaps we should prepare ourselves for the possibility of a life sans sport? The price of sport and other non-essential activities at a time of COVID crisis may in the end be too great.

Historically, sport, as we know it, is a fairly recent occurrence. The Olympic Games is a modern revival of an ancient local event involving a handful of Greek city states. The Modern Olympics did not start until 1896, with the first event held in Athens. Now, we know it as a massive international sporting festival held every four years in large cities around the globe. Back at the turn of the 19C into the 20C, it was a far smaller affair and it was a huge struggle to mount the Olympics and maintain it going forward. Sport had no cultural value or prestige back then. It was virtually non-existent in fact. Christianity frowned upon such physical activities, which were not directly connected to earning a living. Having fun with your mates was not a suitable occupation for good Christians. Team sports began at the public schools in England in the 19C, with Rugby School kicking off the eponymously named football game around 1845 through the championing of physical exercise and games by their headmaster Thomas Arnold. A certain Dr W.P. Brookes, also, in England during the 19C, widely promoted the benefits of physical exercise to young men and drove the establishment of organised sport. A Frenchman, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, is credited with the founding of the Modern Olympics and he was greatly influenced by Arnold and Brookes.

Cricket can claim an earlier date in the evolution of modern sport, with some evidence for cricket games being played for gambling purposes in the late 17C. Cricket was played by teams throughout the 18C and primarily by parish teams competing in village cricket competitions. Cricket would join rugby as games prominently played at British public schools in the 19C. Association football or soccer was codified at Cambridge University in 1848, but there has been folk football played since Medieval times from the around the 8C. The desire to kick a ball around has been with us since time immemorial I imagine, with balls made from pig’s bladders and the like. Human beings love to compete and bet on the outcome of such contests. Will the price of sport and other non-essential activities at a time of COVID crisis be too high, despite our intrinsic love of sport?

Modern sport is characterised by superstar players on massive salaries and gambling and sponsorship dollars fuelling this juggernaut industry. Sport has become the panacea of the masses in the 20C and into the 21C. We have people not really caring about what they do for a living but passionately caring about their football team. Populations vague about the performance and activities of their political leaders but intensely scrutinising sports players and teams. The modern world, it seems, is too complex and convoluted for many of its participants and they would prefer to concern themselves with the smaller stage of their sporting interests. Human beings enjoy the analogy of the game of life, where winners and losers compete for material prizes over the course of the journey. We love games, both playing and watching others play them. Some of us like to bet on the outcome, to see if we can beat the system and be proved right in our choices.

Will fans feel the same way about their sport, when it comes back without live spectators at games for prolonged periods? Will highly paid sports people still resonate positively with fans living in a depressed economy for years to come? Will these fans and businesses be able to afford their love of sport going forward into this new world? How will sponsorship levels react to sports played without crowds and will there be a psychological impact upon the fan base? These questions will be pertinent to the survival of sport as we know it. If the winter months come to the southern hemisphere and COVID-19 begins to increase the death toll, within our community, these things may dampen our love of modern sport within our culture. The price of sport and other non-essential activities at a time of COVID crisis may, indeed, become too great to pay.

©Robert Hamilton

How to Write a Killer Moody Police Drama Series

So, you want to write one of those moody police detective dramas seen on TV. Well, here are the secret ingredients necessary to make it happen. Firstly, you need two characters who will be the main protagonists in your riveting episodic series. These will be two of the most fucked up cops ever let loose on an unsuspecting general public. Personal problems? Each of these young- and good-looking police detectives will be riddled with a full menu of intimate and social dysfunctional issues. The producers will cast two actors who look like they have been working as apprentice hairdressers and are the least likely looking cops ever to have walked the earth. This kind of thing is par for the course when it comes to moody detective shows on Netflix and the other streaming services. They understand that the networks and TV people desperately want to appeal to a younger demographic and will cast authenticity to the four winds to do it. Now, pay attention because this is how to write a killer moody police drama series.

Tips for Writing Drop-Dead Good Cop Shows

Next, you begin the story with a crime scene complete with forensic team in white protective jump suits. A naked dead girl or child should be artfully displayed in a fashion to engender a visceral response from your audience. Of course, a touch of dry comedic banter between our police boy and girl and a grizzled youngish forensic pathologist would go down a treat here. This is your moment to introduce the main character and his or her problems. Their mood and appearance will be coloured by their marriage/relationship issues, drug or alcohol substance abuse problem, parenting dilemma, and/or trendy minor disability or mental illness. Mild autism/Asperger Syndrome is currently the flavour of the month, but it could be cerebral palsy, MS, blindness, deafness, or a rare genetic disorder. The second of our main police detectives could be on the LGBTQI+ spectrum to add further spice to our gritty cop show. These are all a part of how to write a killer moody police drama series. Perhaps, some Nordic noir or a sardonic Belgian affair.

The Golden Rule of Successful Police Shows

The police HQ setting, and ensemble of supporting characters is of infinite importance here. This is your blue family home, where viewers will be subject to hours of situation-based interactions between our protagonists and their sidekicks on the force. Desks with prominent computer screens will take centre stage in most shots. Here your viewers will meet another incredibly youthful chief of police who will endeavour to make life and policing as difficult as possible for our main characters. The golden rule of all successful police dramas is to make the police as nasty and inflexible within their interactions with each other as possible. Why anyone would ever choose to join the police force after watching these shows is a mystery to me. The other vital setting here is the situation room with large white board or state of the art tablet surfaces for sweeping gestures. Here photographs of key suspects, witnesses and the like are prominently displayed throughout the series. In many ways, this is a storyboard to assist the audience in following the many ups and downs, twists and turns of our convoluted story. Possible villains are ranked on the case evidence boards with lines connecting them to victims and crimes. Many an hour will be passed by faithful viewers watching their favourite characters present updates to their fellow officers on the case.

Netflix demands at least 12-16 episodes for the first series of one of these uber moody crime shows. Much of the filming of the show will be taken up with scenic shots of landscapes. Geographic features like hills, valleys, cliffs, crevices, dells, rivers, lakes, dunes, oceans, bays, plains, moors, plateaus, mountains, whatever but it must be strikingly beautiful if at all possible. These exterior landscapes will be your motifs of the inner landscapes residing within your characters. The tone of the production is set here amid the stark natural beauty of your program’s backdrop. These images when combined with your show’s moody music create the whole ambience of the unfolding mystery for the viewer. During the first 8-10 episodes of the series your main characters will have no idea who dunnit. These two detectives will aimlessly wander around in a miasma of self-induced pain caused by their fucked-up lives and dysfunctional relationships. I sometimes feel like the director of these shows has dunked his or her head in a fish tank and filmed scenes on this basis. Thus, we the viewers must follow this lead and journey down into the depths of a murky story. The writer need not bother with clever clues and red herrings in these 21C productions, as it is all about the personal stories of our detectives. Mothers who cannot be there for their children. Partners who have burnt their bridges with their husbands and wives.  Bent cops struggling with gambling debts. Immoral policemen battling with their inner demons. These characters barely have the time to bother with the murder case at hand being so busy with their legions of personal issues and challenges. Our young lead actors may even appear to be stressed by the odd bad hair day at this juncture in the series.

By this stage in your writing process, you will have established all the necessary facets of the moody police detective drama. Your audience will have journeyed with you up until this crucial fork in the road. They will have shared the adulterous behaviour of one of your lead detectives, empathised with their desperate search for meaning in a frantic one-night stand. They will have suffered the disappointment of letting their child down by working late and missing a key school performance. They will have ground their teeth in frustration at their repeated inability to come to terms with the nefarious criminal at large. Everyone is getting sick and tired of nothing really happening and the very limited progress with the case. Now, is the time to wind up the loose strings, join some of the dots, and attempt to conclude your narrative with some modicum of rationality. It is here that many viewers will roll their eyes and mutter to themselves “come on, there is no way that could happen!” However, despite this you must soldier on and string out the audience for another half dozen or so episodes. Yes, he really was her half-sister’s amor prior to meeting her long-lost uncle on that fateful evening. Of course, mitochondrial DNA revealed that they shared a maternal link. The forensic science lab is a great source for unlikely solutions to faintly ridiculous possibilities.

Remember that you will want to bring back at least one of your main characters for the second series. So, don’t be too hasty in killing off much loved characters. These inventions, these figments of your imagination are your investments in a possible future for your writing career. Treat them with some degree of care upon the pages of your gritty police story. New lows in policing behaviour in terms of strategy and protocols are regularly depicted in these shows, especially at crucial moments. Highly trained cops suddenly drop their guns, get knocked out by villains, fail to adequately guard prisoners, turn their backs, quite literally, on danger, and fail to nail the baddies. Real police watching these shows must shake their heads in disbelief at the antics displayed by these hairdresser’s apprentices pretending to be senior detectives on the murder squad. So, good luck with your writing and I hope to see your moody offering up there on the TV screen very soon.

©Robert Hamilton

The World Can No Longer Afford Stupid People

Life on planet Earth emerged single celled some 4 billion years ago. Organic molecules formed under a blanket of hydrogen. RNA arose prior to the later evolution of DNA and the proteins necessary for catalysing life. The latest theory posits that an ancient cataclysm may have jump-started life on earth, perhaps a giant meteor struck the earth. This collision has delivered the precious metals, which are sown within the earth’s veneer, according to geologists. Water would have formed on the planet’s surface within some 50 million years of the fateful collision. Water to host the genesis of organic chemical reactions capable of the creation of RNA. Since that kicking off point, life on Gaia has come a long way and now boasts nearly 8 billion Homo sapiens. Although the COVID-19 coronavirus global pandemic is doing its best to trim that figure. The history of this planet is thick with brutal manifestations of violent stupidity in the form of armed conflicts and holocausts. It is clear, however, that in the face of this novel viral menace the world can no longer afford stupid people.

How Do We Define Stupidity?

How do we define stupidity among the genus Homo sapiens? “Let me count the ways.” A bog-standard dictionary tells us – “behaviour that shows a lack of good sense or judgement.” Its definition going on to state – “a comedy of infantile stupidity.” The much-maligned Wikipedia informs us that – “stupidity is a quality or state of being stupid, or an act or idea that exhibits properties of being stupid.”

“The more stupid one is, the closer one is to reality. The more stupid one is, the clearer one is. Stupidity is brief and artless, while intelligence squirms and hides itself. Intelligence is unprincipled, but stupidity is honest and straightforward.” Fyodor Dostoevsky

In this example, we see the attractiveness of simplistic answers to complex problems or situations. Blaming other people for your own problems fits deftly into this pigeonhole. President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo banging on about China being the sole cause of the United States of America’s massive issues with the coronavirus pandemic is a keen example of this. Democracy is trumpeted as the greatest political system in the world in the 21C. It began in Ancient Greece in Athens in the sixth century BCE. The demos are the common people, the mob, and democratic leaders pander to the mob. Stupidity exists everywhere and especially flourishes within the mob. President Trump is facing an election for a second term as so-called leader of the free world and his comments must be seen in light of this. Can the world afford a leader pandering to a mob seeking simplistic answers to complex situations during this time of crisis?

Stupid is As Stupid Does

“The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects are perhaps always the same, or very nearly the same, has no occasion to exert his understanding or to exercise his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur. He naturally loses, therefore, the habit of such exertion, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become.” Adam Smith

The ABC has reported a spike in racists attacks in Australia during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Chinese Australians have been spat on, physically and verbally attacked by denizens of this country wishing to vent their spleen upon easy targets. Stupid and ignorant people encouraged in all likelihood by the comments of politicians like Trump and Home Affairs minister Peter Dutton. Poor leaders who enjoy deflecting responsibility for serious problems onto unsuspecting foreign targets. The blame game is played with aplomb by those who pander to racist sections of their populace. In a democracy those who can avoid carrying the can for the bad stuff and make it someone or something else’s problem will thrive among stupid voters. Adam Smith in his quote above identifies an uncomfortable truth within populous democratic nations. Those who do not bother with much outside of their own lifestyles are ill-equipped to deal with crises and complex issues facing whole nations. Governments around the world employ teams of public relations experts whose job it is to ensure that what comes out of the mouths of ministers placates and panders to popular opinion. Re-electability sits atop the list of most important qualities that a politician must exhibit at all times. Can the world really afford these kinds of leaders during a crisis such as COVID-19?

Education is the answer to the premise that the world can no longer afford stupid people. I am talking about real education not merely technical training. Over the last 50 years, there has been a concerted shift away from educating the whole person toward narrow focused technical training at the tertiary level. Undergraduate students beginning a bachelor’s degree must do just two units which focus on the humanities – people. Understanding a complex and sophisticated world, where human rights are to the fore demands that all people be exposed to new learning about these issues. Tradition does not cut the mustard when it comes to progressing our way through a fairer and more equitable world. Pluralism, inclusion, tolerance, and the like are not generally taught very well at home. Poorly educated parents cannot be expected to inculcate their children with attitudes beyond their own experience and understanding.

Australia has been described as a nation born out of a brutal meritocracy, which was established via our history as a penal colony for Britain. The ‘she’ll be right mate’ ethos emerged as a result of this. The bar of public standards was set relatively low in this nation at its outset and it remains somewhat diminished on that basis. Australia has been ironically called the lucky country, originally by Donald Horne in 1964. Like many such things the irony has been lost among the mob and now is thought to refer to our rich veins of saleable minerals, our mainly white island enclave away from competing claims and our sunny prosperity. In this current climate of virus inspired crisis, the government in Australia is propping up certain defined sections of our economy. The casualisation of the workforce over the last three decades has not stopped all these members of our community being left high and dry. Ditto many of those involved in the Arts. These folks are not seen as essential parts of the Australian economy by the Morrison government and thus are not to be supported through this difficult time. Perhaps, we will see Australia returning to a state identified by Donald Horne, a place where philistines feel at home at the expense of anyone else.

“It is only because of their stupidity that they are able to be so sure of themselves.” Franz Kafka

Armed protesters taking to the streets in cities around the USA demanding that their world go back to normal and be reopened for business. In Michigan they shouted anti-government slogans and compared Gretchen Whitmer the state’s governor to Adolf Hitler. Militia groups strutted their stuff complete with automatic weapons held high. Trump was their guy and he wanted America to go back to work despite the climbing 80 000+ death toll from COVID-19. This is a country, which boasts vast inequalities of wealth with trillionaires and many millions of people living well below the poverty line existing together in parallel universes. The world can no longer afford stupid people and this virus is eliminating vulnerable sections of our population.

“You can make your superhero a psychopath, you can draw gut-splattering violence, and you can call it a ‘’graphic novel,” but comic books are still incredibly stupid.” Bill Watterson

Comic books used to be for kids and now we live in an age where adults regularly watch superhero movies. In this dumbed-down world, jam-packed with social media filled gossip and everybody peering into phone screens, a silent invisible killer has snuck up on the world. Where is superman? Where is spiderman, batman, wonder woman and all the other superheroes?  Oh, they are not real, bummer. Unfortunately, Trump is real, and he is not playing some demented villain on the screen of some superhero movie. The President is encouraging his citizens to inject disinfectant into their bodies because it might kill the COVID-19 infection.

“The more often a stupidity is repeated, the more it gets the appearance of wisdom.” Voltaire

The really dangerous thing about Trump as President is that we have all become accustomed to his stupidity. In the beginning, it was gob-smackingly unbelievable what came out of that man’s mouth. However, these days it is the new normal and as the world careens towards hell in a hand basket we do nothing but smile knowingly. Throughout this global crisis we have watched Trump daily making a complete ass (arse) of himself at press conferences. He is blaming China for the virus and making false claims about it being invented in a Chinese laboratory. Trump takes no responsibility for the plight of America and its unpreparedness to cope with this pandemic. In Australia we have lesser conservative politicians taking their lead from Trump in directing blame toward the Chinese. At a time when we all should be focused on fixing the problem and finding a vaccine stupid people are pointing the finger and playing the blame game. The world can no longer afford stupid people.

©Robert Hamilton

The Art of Blogging

I want to make a confession first up, which is that I hate the word blog and all its extensions – blogging, blogger, blogged and blogs. Short for ‘web log’ apparently, blog, is an ugly word let’s face it. It sounds to me like a colloquial term fit for acts of defecation. Thus, the art of blogging is akin to a ballerina farting loudly throughout a performance of the Nutcracker Suite. OK got that off my chest. I wonder who came up with the term in the first place? I Googled it and according to a Wikipedia entry ‘weblog’ was so named by one Jom Barger in 1997 and one Peter Merholz reduced the two words to ‘blog’ in 1999 via a phrase posted on his blog. Now you know.

Blogging is an Emerging Genre

Blogging is writing, a form of written communication in the digital age. Blogs are most commonly websites carrying posts containing opinion pieces. This emerging genre of written communication has been influenced by something called search engine optimisation (SEO). Very many blogs are written to improve the ranking and traffic to associated websites. This poses serious credibility questions about many of the blog postings that you may read on the internet. Of course, there are blogs written without recourse to SEO, but they are definitely in the minority.

The 400-Word Blog Post

The 400-word post has become a stand-alone genre in the 21C. This word length can generally satisfy the sampling spiders of search engine algorithms. There are rules that writers of these posts must adhere to if they are to attract the positive attention of search engines. Content on websites, in the form of text primarily and images to a lesser extent, is regularly searched by Google, Bing, Safari etc. The art of blogging must enhance the chances of keyword searches coming up with quality results for those end users seeking specific information.

In my role as a professional blogger I have written 400-word posts on just about every topic under the sun. My mother always said that I had the gift of the gab and I have channelled this talent for bullshitting into the written digital medium. I use the term bullshitting not to mean outright lies but rather the willy nilly casting of authoritative opinions. In fact, my modus operandi is to always tell the truth in my blogging wherever possible. I have described myself as a hack journalist of the digital age – a paid writer churning out endless 400-word posts for the direct benefit of clients I usually never see or hear. To keep my sanity, I focus on the message contained within my penned 400 words (no actual pen is involved). If I can communicate a sage message to the readers of my posts, then, I can walk away with some modicum of satisfaction.

Two topics that have more in common than you might think are subjects I have been commissioned to write on a lot – sex and plumbing. Both practitioners of these ancient occupations, it seems, are either not great with words or are simply too busy to write their own copy. The two areas share concerns with couplings and both charge like wounded bulls. I was once critiqued by a phone sex operator client and censured for writing content that was too dirty. There are degrees of indecency and obscenity, even in the art of blogging. Dentistry is another demanding client of my blogging and I can detail great swathes of dental lore for those who may wish to know of these things. Superannuation and those who deal in such financial products and insurance, also, regularly call upon my skill set. Lawyers have recently come to the party and especially those who dabble in compensation law. Money lenders, whores, electricians and plumbers are all members of my art of blogging SEO family. DJs and wedding singers have joined the club, and now that I think about it, a bouncy castle provedore, vape shops, landscape gardeners, builders, conveyancers, plasterers, carpenters, healers, chiropractors, herbalists, bookies, locksmiths, security specialists, lighting shops, air conditioning contractors, speciality food stores, natural health providers, debt collection agencies, phone sex operators, life coaches, personal development seminars, sound therapy, disability advocates, and my apologies to all those I can no longer remember. I did, however, at the time compose authoritative text upon the concerns of all these agencies. Research is an important factor in the art of blogging. Knowing where to look and knowing how to discern the valuable from the hot air is of paramount importance.

I think about the demise of old-world genres like letter writing and diarising. Emails purport to having replaced the letter but these two written expressions of communication have very different characteristics. Emails in my experience are generally written with an air of haste and target an immediate response from the reader in the main. The instantaneous reality of the medium permeates the content a lot of the time. Personally, I primarily associate emails with work, probably because this was the realm in which the medium was first introduced into my life. To this day, I have difficulty in dealing with very personal emails. Diary entries are a better fit with digital web logs and many owners of blog sites would consider their blogging as public diarising. Diaries were usually private affairs until their publication post-mortem for the celebrated and famous. The digital age, especially via social media, has reduced the realm of the private self, our inner worlds. Thoughts once kept private are splashed out on Facebook, Twitter and in blog posts. More recent generations of us seem compelled to list their lives on social media platforms. Things are more real for them when they can see them on the screens of their ubiquitous phones.

The art of blogging is now a prerequisite for the modern human being. Being able to compose a readable post on a topic, most usually autobiographical, is an essential 21C skill. We are all asked to write our own profiles for an abundance of digital mediums deemed necessary for work and personal activities. Self-promotion is a basic requirement of the modern world. This means that a grasp of your own language in the written form is more important than ever before in the history of humanity. Alas, there is a surfeit of bad copy on the web. There are very many poorly written posts and pages among the trillions online. Whether this is due to incompetent software programs, digital copywriters in the third world, and/or illiterate website owners it is not a great cache of written communication by human beings. The world wide web lacks a good editor.

Our kids, are, and will be, looking to the internet for their written language learning. Let us hope that they quickly learn to become discerning in their perusing of these billions of blogs and web sites. The digital realm is now our global library of text and images. The art of blogging is having its 21st birthday. It is a young entity and, perhaps, should be judged accordingly. In time, like most things, it may well evolve into something worth watching. I will be doing my best to sustain the genre into the 21C. Perhaps, vlogs will replace the blog, with hacked human beings too busy to bother with something as boring as reading. Watching and listening may well be the way forward into the future. The death of writing and reading something worth reading will be an awful shame in this blogger’s opinion. Life may well become so pre-digestible that all information will be masticated prior to consumption by the children of tomorrow. The glazed look in his and her eyes while hovering over their screen was a harbinger of the demise of Homo sapiens. If only the art of blogging could have saved us from our deletion from the main game in time. I will write a 400-word post on this and hold my breath.

©Robert Hamilton

American Pie: The Rotten Slice Revealed to the World

The coronavirus crisis has revealed the true state of what it is like to live in the USA, especially for those on the economic fringe of this large nation. The terrifying rates of death in New York during the COVID-19 global pandemic strikes at the heart of the great American dream. Watching this unfold from a vantage point outside of the US it is startling to see. You cannot help but feel that the land of the free does not look out for its citizens in the way many other western nations do for their denizens. American Pie: The rotten slice revealed to the world.

This American Coronavirus Crisis is No Hollywood Movie

America has a 24/7 public relations behemoth called Hollywood churning out good time stories involving the bright and bold USA. A combination of economic muscle and human naivety has force fed many parts of the world on a diet rich in Hollywood movies. This has cast a spell around the globe declaring America a land rich in happiness and opportunities for material advancement. In reality the US is a nation of massive economic inequality among its residents, with small numbers of super rich and vast swathes of the working poor. The middle class of America are firmly entrenched in a deepening economic hole made worse with every passing generation.

Armed Americans Demanding End to COVID-19 Lockdown

The sight of armed Americans protesting the shut down of their country is shocking to many. Holding their automatic weapons high, these people are demanding the ending of government enforced lockdowns and the resumption of the economy. In this nation, which does not look after many of its vulnerable citizens, it is understandable that sections of the community are solely focused on looking out for themselves. President Trump supports these protesters and in daily announcements urges state governors to get their local economies back to work. Meanwhile, the death toll in New York and in other American cities continue to climb.

African Americans are conspicuously appearing in coronavirus death and infection rates at a higher rate than their white American brethren. Those who live on the fringes of the great American dream are finding their slice of the American pie to be rotten to the core. Generational economic neglect delivers poor health outcomes for these members of the US community and makes them particularly vulnerable to diseases like the COVID-19 coronavirus. Trump is looking around for people to blame in an endless game of finger pointing far and wide. China is a favourite target and the World Health Organisation along with it.

Trump is shutting the borders of the USA in a case of locking the stable door long after the horses have bolted. The coronavirus crisis has held up a mirror for Americans to gaze into and ponder the extreme unfairness of their society. The poor are left to sicken and die on the streets of New York, whilst the rich have long fled to their coastal hideaways far from the epicentre of the virus. American pie: the rotten slice revealed to the world, especially for the tens of thousands of poor.

Interview with Sudha Hamilton

Published at Smashwords

Who are your favorite authors?

Big question and the answer to this changes regularly. Right now, I am immersing myself in cosmology, biology and particle physics via Brian Cox and John Gribbin. I love to feel my mind being expanded by the ideas and knowledge within a book being shared with the reader. Recently, I have enjoyed Yuval Noah Harari, and Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu – I think that every Australian should read Dark Emu.

I read a lot of historical fiction for escapism, as I like to learn new things even when I am losing myself in a good yarn. The authors who have made an indelible impression upon me are Fyodor Dostoevsky, George Orwell, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, George Eliot, Tim Winton, Hermann Hesse, and Albert Camus. Philosophically I am a big fan of the sensible ideas put forward by Epicurus.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?

Right at this juncture, it is writing and editing. In the midst of this global pandemic shut down, it seems the perfect time for contemplation and cleaning up files and records. I am reflecting on the state of my life and the state of humanity. I am podcasting and blogging with some vigour, perhaps with death in the air it motivates one to get one’s affairs in order.

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

I am a keen cook and enjoy preparing delicious meals for my small family. I grow a few veggies and lots of fresh herbs for my culinary dabbling. Exercise wise I golf a couple of times a week. I enjoy walking the fairways and swinging my way toward an accountable conclusion. Of course, the coronavirus has put a stop to this past time as of this point in time. I am a regular user of digital devices and they have been a blessing during the COVID-19 lockdown.

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Wowsers’ Warnings Wave a Wet Blanket Over Alcohol Sales During the Crisis

Wowsers and control freaks are crawling out from behind the couch like never before, during this coronavirus global pandemic. The idea of being able to censor and limit the behaviour of human beings en masse appeals to certain sections of our society. The latest hobby horse is the reported increase in alcohol sales in Australia during this COVID-19 crisis. The ABC reported that health advocates are urging the government to crack down on alcohol sales. So called experts are bobbing up like bath toys in a full tub with suggested policies for limiting the sales of alcohol across the board. Brandishing the risk to vulnerable members of the community from alcohol fuelled domestic violence, these talking heads want strict controls on the quantity of booze sold to individual customers during this crisis. These wowsers’ warnings wave a wet blanket over alcohol sales during the crisis and we should all beware.

Many of the Netflix Offerings Only Watchable With a Skinful

Social distancing policies have grounded many of us in cities and towns across Australia. We are locked down in our homes. Loads of us are suddenly out of work and pondering an uncertain economic future. Will we have a job when this scourge has settled down? Will we still have a viable business to pay the bills? Obviously, a considerable percentage of the population are turning to drink to cope with the crisis. And many of the offerings on Netflix are only watchable with a skinful. It is an understandable response to an unprecedented situation. Ultimately, getting drunk is not a sustainable strategy for dealing with this global pandemic but citizens should be allowed to come to this understanding themselves. Wowsers, who have had the Australian cultural predilection for boozing in their disapproving sights for years, are seizing the opportunity to grab some airtime on networks looking for any and every scrap of coronavirus content.

Blanket Rules Are Not the Solution

Prohibition has been a pipe dream for these tight-lipped folks for eons. Perhaps today is the day that the self-righteous will march down Pitt Street, if gatherings of more than two people were not an illegal crowd in public that is? Now, I must declare that I am a teetotaller, a committed non-drinker of alcohol and a reformed boozer to boot. My name is _______ and I am an alcoholic. Hi _________. However, I abhor do-gooders foisting their censorious controls upon the general public. Blanket rules are not the solution to problems effecting smaller sections of society. Tag abusers, if you like, and limit their purchases of alcohol but do not burden the entire community with your suffocating wet blanket. Why must the great majority always bear the burden for the minority of fuck ups?

People will come around to the right way of doing things without a host of new laws to force them to do so. It is wise to remember that instigating new laws and legislation is much easier than repealing these laws later on. The digital age has already seen the emergence of a far more controlled civilisation in the 21C. So, let us not pile further knee jerk reactions upon a world surveilled by social media and spy agencies.These wowsers’ warnings wave a wet blanket over alcohol sales during the crisis and we should all beware of any actions hastily taken on this score.

Update in WA – Premier Mark McGowan has limited the amount of alcohol that West Australians can purchase from their bottleshops, 3 bottles of wine per person; 1 carton of beer or premixed drinks; 1 litre of spirits; or 1 litre of fortified wine. Customers can purchase within 2 of these categories listed above.

©Robert Hamilton