A welcome innovation from the ABC

Suits me especially: ABC Radio has released its broadcasts to the digital bands so that they can be heard on digital TV. For me that means a much better reception of Radio National, the old 2BL Sydney, Classic FM and more at the touch of a button that turns my TV into a radio receiver. So with my remote I can switch from TV to radio when, for example, a string of commercials on a free-to-air TV channel are really annoying me. I tested that out last night on the semi-final of Australia’s Got Talent (Channel 7), moving between that and Radio National. Worked a treat.

During the day yesterday I heard a fascinating podcast on RN: Episode 1 of “Snowball”, a tale of a Kiwi family who were victims of an amazing scam centred on a mystery woman from the USA, or Armenia, via London and Paris. Very well told through interviews with family members and others, the show was a reminder of how good oral story-telling still can be. I’ll be looking out for later episodes.

In 2006, Kiwi expat Greg Wards was living it up on his big OE in London. One night he went to a house party and met an American woman.

And this meeting changed his life, and his family’s lives, forever.

Greg’s brother Ollie is a producer for the ABC’s Triple J radio station, but he’s created a brand-new podcast series called Snowball, telling the sordid, mysterious, salacious story.

Meanwhile, how about the Ashes! No, I didn’t sit up and watch it all. One test at The Oval to go, but Australia has won the series now.

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Swimming towards Tokyo

Today, apparently, it is exactly one year to the Tokyo Olympics. I am sure Dawn Fraser remembers the last time well… More from her later.

First, though, I can hardly credit that the Sydney Olympics are now so long ago, and just as hard to credit that I blogged them! My posts began with:

Sunday, September 3 2000: 12 days to the Olympics

They say Moore Park will be finished before the Olympics, but they are finding it difficult as there are not enough graders available to do the job. Meantime Belmore Park, near Central Station, is now carpeted–not with bright flowers, or fresh green grass, but with daggy green carpet! Very tasteful. There was a bomb scare at Kirrawee Railway Station south of the city last week; apparently emergency personnel were misdirected to Canterbury Station (some distance away and on quite another line) due to a “pronunciation problem”! However, Central Station refurbishment has been completed–well almost.

Extra police on the streets and quite a few foreign visitors are already apparent in the city. The athletes, of course, have started moving into the Olympic Village.

Today was Yum Cha again–for the unitiated this is Cantonese for “drink tea” and is essentially an endless supply of delicacies (steamed buns, dumplings, chicken feet, etc) washed down by tea. One can if one chooses have a 24 course breakfast–or more. There were ten people today–PK, Ian Smith, J***s, Sirdan, ABC Andrew, Clive, a guy from Houston Texas, a lesbian Olympic volunteer official from NZ (a friend of Sirdan), Bruce from the Albury, and me. Rabbit sent his hugs to all but was otherwise engaged today. Sad news is that John Wilkinson, who was there last time, an old friend of M, is critically ill in hospital: M has just gone to visit him….

And later:

Saturday, September 16 2000

GO THORPIE!!!! Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi OI!!!!! That 4X100 relay was sheer magic.

More on the Opening Ceremony–yes that torch thing did get stuck apparently! However, wasn’t that “underwater” lighting spectacular! And the waterfall! Yes–they did lay the politics of reconciliation on a bit thick, but it needs to be addressed and the Olympics was a powerful symbolic time: so too for the two Koreas and East Timor–moving moments both. However, I think the image of the girl and the songman remains the most powerful image for me.

I was tutoring in Chinatown today. One student, an 18-year-old from Mainland China, came in clutching tickets to the Olympic Table Tennis where his team will undoubtedly do well! He too admired the message of reconciliation in the Opening Ceremony, and was touched not only by that and the two Koreas being united, but also felt the fact China and Taiwan could play together in the Olympics sent a good message to the world and to the people and the politicians.

And my site passed the 2000 today! A minor matter but pleasing. In August this diary averaged seven hits a day; this month to date it has passed the total for August, averaging seventeen hits a day! Mind you that other site I declared “war” on a week ago has averaged twenty-four hits a day so far this month, so don’t get complacent my friends!

So there has been a bit of controversy just lately:

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That is Chinese swimmer Sun Yang having his “You’re a loser!” moment with UK swimmer Duncan Scott, who had refused to shake his hand or share the podium with him — in support of Australian swimmer Mack Horton’s stand the previous day. Dawn Fraser has expressed her view with characteristic frankness:

Australian swimming legend Dawn Fraser has branded Sun Yang a “drug cheat” and “disgusting” as protests of the Chinese superstar rage on.

Aussie Mack Horton sparked a boycott of Sun at the ongoing FINA world championships by refusing to shake hands with his Chinese rival after the 400m freestyle; in which Sun finished first and Horton second.

Horton then refused to take the podium with Sun or appear in any celebratory photographs with him.

British swimmer Duncan Scott repeated the protest after the 200m freestyle, causing Sun to erupt with rage and call him a “loser”.

“They (FINA) shouldn’t have allowed this guy to swim,” Fraser said on the TODAY Show on Wednesday. “Because he is a drug cheat, we all know that. He smashed his blood vials, he got a security man in to smash his blood vials, and he comes up to court in September. Why didn’t they stop him swimming and give the other guys, who want to do a clean sport, the opportunity of doing their best times and not have to swim against a drug cheat? I support both Mack and the British swimmer.”

And I’m with Dawn.

See also my 2014 post The swimmer.

I have known swimmers in my time too.

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That is my cousin Beverley Whitfield with the Mayor of Shellharbour, Keith Grey (a contemporary of my parents in Shellharbour), on her return from the Munich Olympics in 1972 – and yes, I have held that gold medal in my hand! This is a famous image of Bev at Munich:

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Beverley died at the age of just 42 in 1996.

It was at Beverley’s funeral that I met Dawn Fraser.

Update 26 July:

Hmmm. While Dawn Fraser is a legend for good reason, her opinions may not always be spot on. Remember, for instance, on Nick Kyrgios a few years back: “They should be setting a better example for the younger generation… If they don’t like it, go back to where their fathers or their parents came from. We don’t need them here in this country if they act like that.”

So on reflection I suggest you also read from ABC Offsiders Mack Horton’s Sun Yang podium protest shows frustration with sport’s anti-doping efforts and China swim chief’s stunning Sun claim.

Good media — yes, there is such a thing…

… or should that be “there are such things”? (Yes, I did Latin at Sydney University!) Here at Wollongong City Diggers just now they are playing Bingo in the next room. Could have sworn the caller was speaking Mandarin! But I am sure it just sounded that way…

So last night on WIN — that is, for Sydneyites Channel 10 — I saw and much benefited from the Adam Goodes documentary.

The film’s director, Ian Darling, said the fact that some people felt the need to put an apology in writing was encouraging.

“At the end of the day there were hundreds of thousands of people across the country who booed. Not everybody is going to change their mind,” Darling said.

“We have done test screenings and when you show it to school kids there is a real honesty and a number of them after 70 minutes said, ‘Wow, I got this so wrong’.”

A chance for the public to reflect

Darling said one of the main aims of the documentary was to ensure Goodes’s voice was finally heard by re-compiling the events of his final three years in the game, in chronological order.

During that period, Goodes was targeted by fans who booed and jeered him whenever he touched the ball. It led to his exit from the game in 2015.

I had not paid close attention at the time, though I saw  with disgust the responses during that period of the likes of Andrew Bolt, Miranda Devine and Alan Jones. (The latter was represented in the doco by an actor’s voice, which actually was a bit of an improvement! The words were his though.)

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Given the opportunity to hear extensively from Adam Goodes himself, one could only marvel at how much more polite and reasonable he was than the gaggle of knockers. Particularly dreadful was Sam Newman. Fortunately I have lived for 76 years without ever seeing or hearing him! Believe it or not, that’s true! There have to be some benefits to living in NSW!

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If you get a chance, do see The Final Quarter! Related: from 10 Daily — It’s one of the most shameful chapters in Australian sporting history.  Eddie McGuire had a few of his least fine moments back then, but do read ‘Heartbreaking’: Eddie McGuire responds to Adam Goodes doco.

The hour-long film touched on McGuire’s widely-condemned King Kong comments as well as the racial slur Goodes copped from a 13-year-old Collingwood supporter. The two-time Brownlow Medallist, who won two premierships with the Sydney Swans and was also named Australian of the year in 2014, was booed at subsequent AFL games and announced his retirement shortly after.

Director Ian Darling has previously said the film is an unflinching look at “what racism looks like”.

“One of our greatest footballers, who happened to be Indigenous and a proud Australian of the Year, was literally booed out of the game,” he said. “Adam did so much talking over that period – far more than I realised [before starting the documentary]. The problem was that as a nation, we didn’t listen to him. So you can see as the film unfolds how it has affected him so profoundly.”

AFL staff have since apologised to Goodes, admitting they did not do enough to “call out” racism and discrimination.

My second example of good media is ABC News, particularly their drought coverage this week. So important, and so good that we got to hear these stories! For example:

Gippsland farmers in their third year of drought are estimated to have lost as much as 70 per cent of their regular income.

The situation is now described as a “green drought”, where paddocks look green from a distance, however pasture growth is hamstrung by low rainfall and grass growth is stymied by weeds.

Rodwells Sale agronomist, Casey Willis, said these weeds had limited nutritional value.

“A green drought is a drought through the wintertime where we have a green cover but there’s no actual growth coming from any desirable pasture species,” Ms Willis said….”

“A lot of what’s being grown in paddocks at the moment is weeds and they have little to no nutritional value for stock.

And my footy tipping went well…

Yes, only one wrong and I got the margin score correct! So well placed so far…

I also predicted the NSW Election correctly. I honestly don’t mind Gladys. Here in The Gong Labor won hands down: 70+% two-party preferred. And in first choices look who no-one supported!

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Tonight’s must-watch: Waleed Aly interviewing Jacinda Ardern on The Project, Channel 10/WIN.

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Waleed’s interview/confrontation with Scott Morrison was broadcast ad-free in prime time last Thursday night — most unusual.  And unusual it was! Scott Morrison scored some, but also, I think, showed his critical weaknesses. I propose to watch it all again and may then comment further, but meanwhile I commend young Michael Koziol’s analysis. (He is I gather a twenty-something.)

Sincerity can be a real struggle for Morrison, partly because of his marketing background, and partly because of his own choices as Prime Minister that have sacrificed substance for political expediency (moving the embassy to Jerusalem, anyone?). So if he faces a credibility gap on this issue, perhaps he only has himself – and his party – to blame….

Bunnies, keep your pants on!

Great one-point win on Saturday over the St George-Illawarra Dragons, in which this man was bloody marvellous. Next week a chance to get into the Grand Final!

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The previous 48 hours, courtesy of the Daily Telegraph, were dominated by other matters. So much more important than natural disasters in South-East Asia or the Carolinas, or evn then the war in Yemen or the latest from Syria. But I digress.

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Rather taken with the approach by today’s Sydney Morning Herald though.

The high-profile Souths player at the centre of the sexting scandal is unlikely to be stood down before the preliminary final against the Roosters amid claims the lewd video chat was consensual.

While other media outlets have chosen to name the player, Fairfax Media has decided not to following legal advice….

In a bizarre twist, the woman involved in the sexting scandal has identified herself as a Roosters fan who hails from Sydney’s eastern suburbs. There is no suggestion she is trying to sabotage Souths’ run at the premiership.

She is presently holidaying in Johannesburg, South Africa, but investigators hope to interview her via a telephone hook-up in coming days to get her version of events.

The NRL, which was first made aware on Thursday of the woman’s allegations, says it is too premature and the facts too blurred to decide if the Souths player should be stood down.

Is this harassment? Gross indecency? A honey trap from a scorned admirer? A legal issue or a moral one? It remains murky at best….