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Monday, February 09, 2009

Last Friday afternoon, John Brumby made what seemed like a ridiculous statement, that Saturday could be "the worst day ever in the history of the state." A combination of very high temperatures, extreme winds and bushland dried out by years of drought certainly had potential for something very nasty, but did anyone really think it would happen?

There's been a lot of speculation that the reason for the staggering number of fatalities (it's currently 130 but is expected to go considerably higher) is due to the fact that people have forgotten Ash Wednesday. Not that it occurred, or that it was bad, but just how ferocious a fire can be.

I was at the beach - Airey's Inlet, where folks are rightly spooked by fire (it was almost entirely destroyed in 1983). We knew it would be hot and that fire danger was extreme, but we had the fire plan in order (kinda) and spent most of the day marvelling at the ludicrous heat.

With the radio on 774 listening for any mention of fires in the area, we were glued to the weather websites, getting excited with every notch of temperature. I put a thermometer outside to see how hot it was (if you look closely you'll see it reads 42ish).

I then stuck it in the sun to see how hot we could get it. It got to 49 and promptly died.

The birds were freaking out, just sitting under the eaves of the house making pathetic squawking noises (poor little buggers).

The air baked.

But the first sign that things were going to get bad was looking at the BOM radar to see what looked like rain bands in Gippsland. But it wasn't rain. It was smoke.

As the news rolled in that night the horror began to dawn. Whole towns were gone. Images of cars crashed and burned in the desperate, panicked attempt to get away. The stories of people dying by ones and twos, whole families, dogs, cats, old people, children. The initial estimates of 30 dead rapidly became obviously inadequate.

What became clear was that many of the people who died had made the decision to stay and fight - exactly the decision we had made earlier that day - but the ferocity of the front, the combination of heat, wind and incredibly low humidity suggests that there was nothing they could do. They died following the same advice that we thought would save us. Jesus.

The next morning we woke to an extraordinary sunrise accompanied by earth-shaking claps of thunder. Quite post-apocalyptic.

I suspect every Victorian will be affected by this, whether they know someone or have friends who have copped it, all of us will feel this for some time. It is a terribly sad thing.

Monday, December 01, 2008

I'm aware that this isn't particularly ground-breaking, this video has been doing the rounds, but I want to post it here so I can remember it later.

If you haven't seen it, it's another one of those 're-cut' movie trailers, this time featuring Harry Potter and the Brokeback music - remarkably effective. And as Virginia says, "the power of a soundtrack". Listen to it through headphones, or on something with good sound and it will make you teary.

Very clever.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Well, I can barely even believe it happened.

Looking back at the sparse posting over the last year on this blog, you can see how caught up I've been in Obama's push for the White House.

Way back at the start of 2006 I emailed Dr Mike and suggested that we try to find out more about the young Obama who was just starting his rise - there was something exciting about him. We agreed that though it was unlikely he'd get past Hilary in a selection battle, he was a talent to keep an eye on. And so he was.

After one of the most extraordinary campaigns in US history, America (and the world) has its first African-American president and what a man he appears to be.

For the first time in my life, the world has a politician who has shamelessly embraced the big picture, who sees value in inspiring hope and unity, who speaks of an enormous vision, who can give a speech that reduces people to tears and inspires them to try to make a difference.

The US is in a horrible dark hole and it will take a giant effort to pull it back into the light. The challenges are enormous, but to have a leader elected who can inspire and galvanise an entire nation is a truly wonderful thing.

Among the phenomenal catalogue of great speeches that Barack Obama has already delivered (can you even imagine what's to come!?), the clip below is among one of the best moments I've seen. That two friends (Joseph and Jo) were actually there to witness it makes me green with envy (Joseph writes about it here). Delivered in Manassas, Virginia, it was Obama's final campaign rally - the night before election day. Obama demonstrates his story-telling skills in a genuinely funny retelling of a story from the campaign trail that ends in a stirring call to arms.

As Helen wrote to me in an email having just watched the clip below: "won't somebody please make this man the President of the Unites States. Oh wait..."

And as a parting salute to the most brilliantly run campaign ever seen, here is a photo of a pumpkin pie made by Snaz, an expat in London watching the results roll in until 5am when she finally got to bed very tired, but very happy, a new dawn in America.

Couldn't vote. Made Obama pumpkin pie instead. on TwitPic

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hee hee. Jon Stewart is funny. And right.

If you haven't seen this already, watch it now. Right through to the end.

And some weirdness from Harry Shearer.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Jeez this election is producing some gold!


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Go here and pray play.

Thanks to Snaz on Twitter for the heads-up.

Friday, October 10, 2008


Is it really almost a year since I ded the last Friday Random Interweb Video post?

Goodness, I've really let the team down haven't I.

Well, here you go (all two of you).

First of all, you may remember this post from some time ago about movie trailers recut to mean something entirely different. Well here is the latest one I've come across, courtesy of Defamer Australia.

Bat Toy Story 2

This next one is for people who have eleven minutes to spare to watch something that should be utterly tedious. I found myself watching this almost in tears. I don't really know how to explain why I find it so moving.

After Tuesday night's presidential debate, most major television channels cut to expert panels or to other programming. But C-SPAN stayed with a live feed and the cameras were kept running as the candidates stayed in the studio to talk casually with the audience. The footage, shot without commentary, is fascinating (if you're into that sort of thing).

For the first few minutes, the McCains and the Obamas share the space. What is immediately evident is John (and Cindy) McCain's awkwardness. After a couple of minutes (during which McCain appears to snub Barack Obama's offered handshake), the McCain's disappear backstage.

What follows is an extraordinary ten minutes of Barack and Michelle Obama individually greeting EVERY SINGLE MEMBER of the audience, taking time to talk, shake hands, sign autographs, hug people and have their photos taken. It demonstrates better than any campaign ad or stump speech ever could, how Barack Obama appears to genuinely be a "Man of the People". The ease with which he works the crowd, the smiles on the faces of those around him, the palpable excitement of those he speaks to (ie everyone) is amazing to watch.


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