This Mess We’re In

Teaching Children is Easy

Hong Kong has apparently been working hard at its efforts to integrate its multi-racial society a bit closer. This satirical jab from Hong Wrong on the statelet’s (sorry Self Governing Territory) efforts at educating the younger members of it’s society shows they clearly have some way to go.

The Trouble with Politicians

Speaking of Hong Kong, there was news this week that a politician born there was considering leaving Northern Ireland after more than 40 years…

…for good because of enduring sectarianism and now rising racism.
Lo, who represents South Belfast in the regional parliament, also cited first minister Peter Robinson’s support for a born-again Christian preacher’s depiction of Islam as “the spawn of the devil” as a reason for wanting out of Ulster politics.

Far be it for me to suggest that The North’s thin veneer of success following the end of the Troubles might be wearing thin, but I do* look forward to this month’s and next’s Parade Season to kick off. (* in the way that I look forward to a screaming baby at 3am).

A More Secure Commute

Meanwhile in Beijing qz is claiming they are now subject to Airport Security style searches before entering the subway, leading to massive lines. As one commenter mentions:

Surely “throwing a bomb into this crowd would be more lethal” than setting one off on the subway, noted one skeptic

Exactly, everything’s fine!

This Teenage Government

Our venerable Prime Minister today released an announcement ostensibly about the 70th anniversary of D-Day and upcoming visit to Canada and the USA. It contained such D-Day references as:

The Government’s Economic Action Strategy to lower tax, cut red tape and encourage trade will improve the competitiveness of businesses so that we can build a stronger Australia.
We welcome investment and we are making investment more attractive by scrapping the carbon tax and the mining tax, cutting 50,000 pages of red tape and ending the “analysis paralysis” on major projects.
Our international partners can see that our Budget is again under control, we are tackling debt and deficits and we are serious about building a strong and prosperous economy.

I’m sure the diggers and others who thought they fought to save Europe from tyranny would be surprised to know it was actually to protect Tony’s mates from Carbon Taxes. That they later withdrew the statement should only add to the concern the teenagers have left another mess for the adults to clean up.

This Mess We’re In

After that selection of mind-numbing news, I have to leave it the magnificent Polly Jean Harvey to remind us how much it seems to change, but never really does:

And I have seen the sunrise over the river
The freeway reminding of this mess we’re in

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No White Cliffs of Dover from PJ Harvey at the State Theatre

It’s not often I sit down to a rock and roll concert, but this week at the State Theatre in Sydney, we were obliged to do so for PJ Harvey’s Sydney Festival gig.

And, surprisingly, it worked. The muted, awkward, whoops and lack of desire to shake ones booty to the passionate tunes and pounding rhythms from Let England Shake was not just because the resident jobsworths would’ve swooped on us like a Cinema usher protecting a young couples virtue in 1963. The extraordinary lyrics, much heard this past year, in this new setting helped too.

Resplendent in robes, bodice and horns, Ms Harvey and her complement played with our emotions throughout, providing an excellent – yet not exactly mirrored – rendition of one of last years most celebrated albums. Yet another magnum opus from an artist who I think has previously presented at least three.

Moistening of the eyes was even encountered at the opening to Bitter Branches, On Battleship Hill, and In the Dark Places, but this wasn’t a sad concert. The triumphant nature of musical accompaniment provided an impressive counterpoint to the emotionally challenging lyrics.

One of the thoughts which came to me toward the end, especially as they will no doubt soon start preparing for the 100th anniversary of the butchery which influenced many of the songs, is Let England Shake should become required listening before the commemorations which will soon arrive. Remember what happened and why it happened that way, not what they would like you to believe about their wars.

As in Hanging in the Wire, there was no White Cliffs of Dover and nothing from perhaps her previous most commercial tome – despite one of the few contributions from the floor looking for some good fortune. But this was an uplifting concert all the same, and for someone who rarely gets to enough live music these days a more than fitting way to start 2012.

Keep it up Polly Jean, those who continually push the boundaries should always be celebrated. I’m already looking forward to the next time you visit Sydney.