Sunday, September 12, 2010

Creatures of the Deep

When I was younger, I really wanted to be Hunter S. Thompson.

And this had an enormous influence on how I lived my life; I drank a lot, I smoked a lot, a took a shit load of drugs and I always ALWAYS wore my Chuck Taylor Converse All Stars. I even found a tobacconist in Sydney that was stuck in some sort of 70's time warp and used to stock those yellow filter things HST used to suck his ciggies down through.

In short, I gave it my all.

And yet there was something missing.

At first I wasn't sure what it was. The crippling daily hangovers were in place. And the collection of oddball, fringe of society friends, well I had those too. And I left a string of trashed hotel rooms in my wake... Well, I left a few trashed hotel rooms... Well, I left one trashed hotel room in my wake. But I will say this, that thing was SOOOO trashed that it was, like, TRAAAAAAAAS-HEDDDD! I mean, when the cops came and I answered the door in my bathrobe...

Well, a story for another time perhaps.

So yes, something was missing, something keeping me from emultating my hero Hunter Thompson. And then I worked it out what it was. The writing.

I didn't really write much. And when I did write, I didn't write about politics or current events or even American Football. I mostly wrote rambling 'short' stories of the kind where three characters are having lunch and one of them realises that they want to commit suicide or a 10 year old boy addicted to 'Nintendo' has his 'Nintendo' console taken away by his mother and so he burns their house down while she's asleep, killing her (this last my entry for a high school short sotry competition, suffice to say I didn't win that one).

Not very HST like. And so I gave up on my dreams and sold (or, more likely, smashed) my old fashioned manual typewriter and moved on to something else...

... which is to say, I never really gave up on my dreams and never moved on and am even now tapping away on my girlfriend's housemates laptop imagining that I'm in a seedy motel somewhere and the editors at Rolling Stone are after me for my latest piece and I'm ignoring the four ringing phones and the constantly beeping mojo wire and I'm writing something like:

August 4, 1972: Butte Montana. I have just been rudely shaken out of a campaign trail induced comoa by a bizarre late night show entitled 'Creatures of the Deep,' where things with no eyes or spine eat each other 10 000 metres below sea level. To say it reminded me of Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew pushing around the delegates at the Republic Party convention in Miama last week would be to state the obvious. How long, Oh Lord, how long? But enough about giant creatures with no spine and a ravenous appetite, Nixon or otherwise. The sun is coming up here and it's time to get serious. In two hours I have to flee this room and hit the road, somehow slipping past the front desk without paying my $5 000 bill.

Which if course I'm not.

But I do have the flu right now and so feel borderline delerious and I did just finish watching a show called 'Creatures of the Deep' on ABC1. And I am writing about politics. Or, I will, in a moment, when I've finished indulging this fantasy to anyone who made it this far.

In any case, tonights message is only short, and has to do with perceptions. Which is probably a strange topic for a blog entry that is called 'Creatures of the Deep' and is actually about the election results, but there it is.

Our newly minted minority Labor Government is getting on for a week old and, after the dramatic moments of the last few weeks, a strange hush has fallen over the political battlefield. Both sides have essentially retreated to their entrenched postions and are now waiting for Parliament to start - September 23 - before any further advances are planned.

What political discourse there has been over the last few days has mostly been about the announcement by the two leaders of their Ministry and Shadow Ministry teams: Labor's last weekend and the Coalition's sometime this week and both about as boring a topic as there is, what with the same old faces announcing that they're looking forward to a 'brave new challenge' in whatever portfolio the leadership has bullied them into. As well as this, as a kind of sidelight, we've also had a string of Liberal Party heavyweights lining up to disparage the government and declare it illegitimate.

The shadow treasurer, Joe Hockey, was at it. And the leader of the Nationals, Warren Truss, was at it too. And so were a host of rather less well known members of both parties.

They largely based their claims on the fact that the Coalition had won the popluar vote in the recently completed election, in both two party and primary vote terms. You can expect to hear a lot more about this as Parliament returns and battle is rejoined. Leading figures within the Coalition ranks will be on any media that will have them complaining that they 'clearly won the vote' and that the government had more or less 'stolen office without a mandate' and that 'the will of the people has been denied.'

And when they say this you know that whoever is saying it is a pillock.

Very, very briefly then, here is a chart showing the primary votes from the last election, in order of Political Party:

So you can see that the Labor Party - maligned, on the nose in Queensland in NSW and run by incompetant apparatchiks - polled nearly a million votes more than anyone else. Just like they do in every single election. The Liberal Party relies on a Coalition of - now - three distinct, seperate parties to overtake Labor's primary vote; themselves, the Nationals and the new Liberal National party of Queensland.

So what about the two party preferred? Will that perhaps give us a clearer indication of who beat who and by how much? Well, as of tonight Labor was leading that one too, by about 20 000 votes, 50.08% - 49.92%.

Now I didn't vote for the Labor Party, so the point of the figures above is not to add another voice to what will become an endless debate about who, actually, won the last election. But I do feel that the voting figures are worth bearing in mind when the talk turns to topics like 'legitimacy' and 'electoral theft.' The simple fact is that who won depends on how you look at the figures and, ultimately, it was so close that statistics become almost meaningless as a tool of analysis.

Senior members of the Coaltion have already made it clear that they agree with this point. Despite their failure to win a majority of seats outright AND their failure to convince the Independent members of parliament that they would make the better minority government AND their failure to win the two party preferred vote, they have decided to just go out in public and say they won anyway. You can kind of see the logic in this:

'Fuck it. None of the punters really knows who won the damn thing and they've all lost interest anyway. Hell, Junior Master Chef is what the pricks are interested in now! Just say we won it and the other mob stole it off us. Ha-Ha-Ha!'

And so where does that leave us?

That leaves us with a minority government that will have to put up with a lot of bullshit from the Opposition and their right wing cheerleaders in the press as it tries to govern. And it leaves me trying to call up the right HST quote to round this thing off:

Jesus Christ. What are we doing going to work on a day like this? We must be goddamn crazy. This is the kind of day when you want to be belly-to-belly with a good woman, in a warm bed under a tin roof with the rain beating down and a bottle of good whiskey right next to the bed.

- The Great Shark Hunt.

Sound advice, at any time. No wonder I wanted to be him.

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