Monday, May 29, 2006

Everest, the ego of it all

How irritating for the deal-brokers are diligent journalists and the network of bloggers. According to the Australian public relations "guru", Max Markson, swift and efficient news reportage of human dramas is death to dollars deals. So the mountaineer who was left for dead and then was rescued on Everest won't make a killing out of the experience because it has been well reported. It's not going to be a million dollar deal like the trapped miners in Tasmania who could have the deals all hooked up while they were muzzled from the media "safely" underground. "Safe" for the deal-brokers, you see. A position of perfect control. The miners were happy to co-operate. Their darkness was lit up by dollar signs.
Unfortunately, Everest is something of a superhighway these days. If you have no arms, no legs, if you are blind, deaf, had transplants, degenerative just have to climb Mr Everest looking for a record of being the first of your ilk to do it. Everest has had more first than I've had hot dinners. And if you can't be the first, you can be the first most...the first amputee to climb Everest ten times. This stupid quest for glory goes on and on.
I am not a fan of mountain climbers. I am not mad on mountains, either. They are better to look at than from, in my opinion. However, these rich obsessives seem to love to squander vast amounts of money and resources on the personal satisfaction of climbing Everest - and, worst of all, expecting other people to care about it.
I don't care if they all perish up there. I think they are boring and egocentric.

Now we have the huge scandal of the legless climber who charged on past a dying mountaineer because, well, he had to get to the top - and this other climber was going to die anyway. No time to stop, no time to stop. Me to the top. That's how it is up there. Compassionless cripples looking for glory. A pretty picture.

Sir Edmund Hillary was right to come out with his criticism of the way things have turned out at the so-called Top of the World. It's become a jam of driven egos in the snow. You see fewer ruthless, extravagant bastards on Wall Street than you see on Everest. And, so far as achievements go, having climbed Everest is just so ho hum. Everyone's already done it. It is now dreary old adventure tourism.

And to think the Tibetans once thought the mountain was a spiritual place.

I am rather pleased that the media has been quick off the mark with the assorted stories of dying or dead men that Everest mountaineers have ignored in their quest for glory. I am glad that Aussie Lincoln Hall is not in the running for a million dollars just because he nearly died on Everest. I think he should be paying others for the trouble he has caused. They all should. Instead, somewhere along the line, we are going to be further bored and insulted by "exclusive" chequebook journalism accounts of his altitude sickness delerium. Do they take such notice of drunks and their DTs? They should. One self-inflicted wound is much like another.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

And here's the news, news, news...

I am so busy creating information to add to the information overload that I am out of touch. The rest of the torrent is backing up behind me as I churn out more words - a torrent in my own right.
And, day after day, I sit in a sea of other professionals who also are creating information flow. We have always been doing it, generations of us, producing newspapers and magazines and news services. We are the mainstream.
But now there are so many tributaries and creeks and drains feeding into the system - the mounting mass of alternative media, which is here, the Internet. The Blogsphere is just a segment.
As a long-term netizen, I have watched the growth and chosen carefully which of the feeds I will add to my information flow. It began with newslists and then to news subscriptions and the likes of Alternet and then news bulletins and newspaper headline teasers and journalist news tips, then Google selections and, well, the list becomes tedious. The point is that my emails both at work and home now are laden with the things I should read and I want to read, between the newspapers and before the books. I scan and speed read, delete with regret...dismissing whole sectors of the world and issues which require more attention than I have time to apply. For there is more to read...
Work now requires that at least three books a month are consumed for author interviews or review - and, of course, I am at the theatre several times a week and writing reviews late into the night. No wonder I never get around to blogging.
I admire the people who do - who have done their research, amassed their links and filtered their thoughts to provide regular lucid and well-informed blogs. I even admire the diary bloggers who find time to record the day's events.
I just wish I had time to read them all.
Which brings me full circle. I am so terribly behind.

Once there was a time when news moved slowly, when distances were great and people were not in touch with everything around the clock. Simpler times. We have a wonderful thing in the global village of instant personalised multimedia communications - but, oh, how it is turning me into a creature of fractured thoughts and eternal inadequacy.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Dust Mites are Innocent

The fuss about dust mites revives. Latest reports indicate that chilhood asthma may be linked to indoor pollutants including dustmites. Well, firstly, just to correct the experts putting this news on the wire. It is not the dustmites which cause allergic reactions but their little poops.
It seems to me that dustmites are targeted just because they are there. I am sure that in these days of uber vacuum cleaners sucking the pile out of carpets, there are fewer dustmites than before - and yet more cases of asthma, they tell us. The dustmites are the fallguys for science's lack of explanations for other conditions - or for biochemical companies protecting their airsprays, dyes and detergents, not to mention the chemicals arriving in the house on food or the motorcar and industrial pollution in the air. No, it has to be the little dustmite.
I am most indignant. I am the self-appointed president of the Right to Life of the Dustmite Society and I am here to tell these shallow researchers that if it was not for the dustmite, they would be knee deep in dust. Dustmites are a natural part of the ecology. They are little good guys. All they need are diapers.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Old (wo)man Rivers

One does not see assorted identities in their celebrity role on television and think in terms of meeting them. But sometimes it happens, as it has just done with America's anarchical comedienne, Joan Rivers , who has been touring Australia with her cabaret show. Whatever vague opinion I had of the plastic surgeon's number one specimen has been given a furious rattle by the personal encounters with Miss Rivers - because she turns out to be a gracious star of the old school. By this I mean that she has the old showbiz grace and generosity of spirit. Not only does she "give" when performing her well-worn comic shtick on stage, but she gives to the people around her. It is unprecedented in my ahem years of journalism that someone one has interviewed by phone goes to extra lengths to ensure that you also get to meet them in the flesh. Only Miss Rivers. She listed the people who had helped in publicising her tour and had her PR collect us after the show and bring us to the Green Room for a "meet and greet". Patiently she identified us all, exchanged pleasantries and posed for photos.
She is a tiny woman. Trim and taut. But tres petite. Her hair was rather like the stage wig she had worn, but shorter and thinner, of course. Her teeth are like piano keys but white upon white. Dazzlingly white. Disconcertingly so. Her skin is taut and smooth and, quite frankly, she looks great. The interesting thing is that, having had a personal encounter with her, she has become very beautiful indeed. For all her irreverence and political incorrectness, the wicked bitchery on stage which has been her bread and butter, the woman beneath is all class. And meeting her has proved to be a special pleasure - even for a jaded journo.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Hard luck story

Supermarket carparks. Who loves 'em? Not a soul. They take some historic cake in the unloved and unloveable department. But some decent people use them. I am one of them. But, perhaps I am one whose curmudgeonly side proves to be a downfall.

I had been to Target exchanging some goods for my incapacitated Mama. 'Twas a cold and showery day, so I was swift to enter the car and drive away. But what was this under the passenger windscreen wiper? Someone in this inclement weather had been leafletting the cars in the mall capark?
This is a junk marketing activity which I abhor. I believe it is illegal these days. But there was this large piece of thrice folded paper on my winscreen! Fie and fury. My blood began to boil as I drove, considering my options. One was to stop the car, get out, go around the car and take the leafleat from the windscreen and bring it back into the car with me, as a new piece of car rubbish. My other option was to let the bloody thing blow away. This option was a bit fraught with moral issues. If I let it blow away, who would be responsible for the ensuing litter - me or the person who put the leaflet on the car? I was tossing this around when the leaflet vanished from the windscreen. Oh, well, fate has decided, I thought spitefully, happy to get home just before the next torrential downpour.

It was not until the next day that I discovered the huge gouge, dent and scrape at the back of my lovely car.

That piece of paper had been a message from the driver who hit my car - the only honest driver ever to grace a supermarket carpark.

And I had been curmudgeonly and refused to stop the car to read it. Now I would pay for it. Big time.