Archive for October, 2011|Monthly archive page

The Fitz Files, Gus, and Note 31 which becomes a Catch 22!

In General Mish-Mash, Mish-Mash of Wisdoms on October 31, 2011 at 3:25 pm

The Fitz Files  is entertaining to read, although it has a bit of the smart-alec tone.

Peter Fitzsimons, the writer, wants to astonish us with his wit and judgement. I am sure he wants us to laugh – and I often do. Every Saturday he ridicules, berates, lampoons and occasionally he gives a pat on the back.

The Red Bandanna Gang

It’s divide & ridicule! You either stand on his side admonishing some foolish profiled person – or you find yourself feeling the splash of the spray.

He seems to have that “you’re either with me or agin me” credo. A credo often surfacing in team sport.

Create a strong bond within the playing group – an unbreakable sense of duty to each other, potent emotional connections – and you have a powerful force. Some do this in ways that are inclusive and constructive. Others by exclusion, defining the entire rest of the world as a common enemy.

Fitz shepherds people into gangs that are out to own the morally high ground and to whip up indignation over anything he deems is deserving. Derision, outrage, and ridicule replace gang violence and street battles … but he does want you to join his gang.

In this weeks Fitz Files, Gus Gould is in the crosshairs. Here is the piece – Rabs! Gus! Your pokie rant’s a bit suss.

Which is interesting because Gus’ MO is very similar to Fitz’s – you’re one of us or you’re one of them.

His teams bond strongly.  They also develop a shared consciousness that the rest of the world is out to kill them.

Not just the opposing teams.

Anyone who is not pulling on a jersey. You’re either in the team or you are an enemy – enemies include administrators, accountants, boards, the sales teams, sponsors, events organisers, the media … you name it, if it can be a distraction, it is an enemy. There is a rich harvest for “motivation by seige”.

Of course by “team” I actually mean the more exclusive and restrictive modern sports entity  – “the playing group”. A concept undoubtedly developed because the “team” is far too inclusive … and far too restrictive when looking for enemies that can catalyse potent responses.

As I said, in the Fitz File world – you are either part of the lampooning and derision … or you are, by default, being lampooned or derided for not taking part. Gus has been “Fitzed”!

Gus can fight his own battles – very, very well. In a euphemistic nutshell, Fitz thinks Gus’ position as spokesperson on mandatory pre-commitment is imprudent and untenable. Undoubtedly Gus would disagree. It’s worthy of an argument I guess.

But, by firing bullets at Gus, Fitz also fires bullets at Panthers. He does this by a misleading and unfair misuse of numbers. This is how myth gets created. Fitz quotes Panthers 2010 Annual Report – creating a sense of credibility – what can he say, it’s Panthers own figures. So let’s look at the figures he uses:

2010 Revenue: $154m – Fitz Files got this right.

2010 Revenue from Poker Machines: $91m – another tick for Fitz.

2010 Profit/Loss: nearly $11m loss. The figure is correct. But the outrage from Fitz – “How on earth can this happen?” – is over the top. The losses are explained in the report and, and anyway, it is not unusual for businesses to post losses – even as high as around 7% of revenue. Especially when they have massive amounts allocated to depreciation.

Clearly, it is not good position … but “how on earth” can this be a jaw dropper given the information contained in the report.

And he doesn’t mention, of course, that these figures represent the aggregation of figures from 14 different venues across the state.

And then he comes out with this:

“What on earth falls under the $18.65m annual report entry “other expenses”.?”

I guess the red bandana momentarily slipped over his eyes and he did not see the “31” at the intersection of the row labeled “other expenses” and the column headed “Notes”. So, he did not look up Note 31 which lists 28 items that contributed to other expenses. Note 31 tells you “what on earth”, Fitzy.

He compares the percentage of “other expenses” with other clubs … but what he should be comparing is the item “other expenses” that appears in note 31 … that figure was $2.475m or 1.6% of revenue. Fitz’s figure had it at 12% of revenue. The exaggeration to create affect is only 650%.

Next he makes the amazing comment … amazing because he has already alluded to a big loss.

“And how come with all that moolah only $617,000 could be found for the juniors.”

Ahem! All that moolah!! Didn’t you just tell us they lost 11 million smackeroos? So, if losing money gives you heaps of moolah to spread around in acts of largesse, why would anyone worry about a GFC? Or stock market crashes. 

And your suggestion Fitz, would be to what?

Provide the juniors with $1.6m and post a $12m loss instead of an $11m loss. Geez, if that is so easy, why not give the juniors $50.6m? What’s an extra few mill between friends. I guess by your logic this will mean they have even more moolah to toss around.

You belted Panthers for making a loss and you belt them for not giving away more. That’s some catch that Catch 22! 

Maybe Panthers could have stopped the support for initiatives in the regions of Bathurst, Port Macquarie, Newcastle, or Albury and shift that “moolah” so the kids of Penrith benefit?

Jesus, how does Panthers get out of the iron grip of admonishment cast by someone whose arguments have the logical progession of the paradoxical works of M.C. Escher.

Ascending? Descending? Both - The Fitz Files in Art.

And it is not just Fitz who suffers from this …

Just about every argument about clubs these days has an extraordinary skew – almost to the point of being paradoxical. The skew mainly comes from looking at the revenue figures and treating them as profits.

If rational dialogue is to be had about the relevance of clubs in our communities, then this skewing has to stop. Any business needs to be modelled in a way that is sustainable and one that can be planned around – this can’t be done by creating myth.

Back to the Fitz attack:

Fitz, there is plenty of ammunition available to fire at Panthers. Why pull blanks and he dress it up as live ammo. I can’t understand it, there are exocet missiles just laying around waiting to be armed and launched.

Interestingly, again there is a similarity in the way Gus has approached the mandatory pre-commitment issue that has got under his skin enough for him to get under everyone else’s skin. Gus’ preference seems to be to throw rocks at the enemy. In this case those who advocate pre-commitment as a salve for problem gambling. Again, surprising because Gus is capable of delivering powerful and coherent argument. Instead he weakens his position by resorting to playing the man (and woman) instead of the issue of finding solutions for gamblers.

It would serve everyone better – especially problem gamblers – if commentators, these 2 included, examined the facts more carefully and toned down their exaggeration, personal attacks and histrionics.

The Future of Penrith, Penrith of the Future.

In General Mish-Mash on October 26, 2011 at 11:28 am

It’s been 3 weeks since I’ve mishmashed!!

I haven’t been idle, I have been mishmashing but it is not material I would like to unleash on unsuspecting readers. My mishmashing has been like swimming in a pool of quicksand – lots of thrashing only to sink. Man, how simple it is for subterranean demons to emerge from the depths – a single chance encounter can tip the boat.

Time to lighten up.

My home town, Penrith (NSW), has been the focus of attention during the Sydney Architectural Festival.

Last Saturday, the Utzon Room at the Sydney Opera House was host to a symposium entitled – The Future of Penrith, Penrith of the Future.

The symposium, and the work presented, places Penrith firmly in the sights of serious attempts to shift the nature of cities located on the urban fringes. Fringe cities. Cities that are sub-urban.

Barry O’Farrell, NSW Premier & Minister for Western Sydney, opened the symposium. And Liz Ann Macgregor  – the wonderful Director of Sydney’s MCA and, more importantly, Panthers Fan – chaired the symposium.

Campement Urbain presented a bold and ambitious vision.

To me, the detail of that plan is not as important as the function it plays.

It establishes new ways of thinking about the suburban city – certainly Penrith but also as a generalisation. It offers a new standard, a new self-belief. The process positions suburban residents to breach the limits and standards of property developers, to take control and demand new standards.

The current CBD of Penrith, looking west. Can the inhabitants take control of its future?

Most importantly it serves to create different processes and drivers of urban & suburban development.

The ideas and the way they have been developed are much more than creative and visionary. They deliver a heightened sense of democracy and a shift in the paradigm of power.

When I first met with Sylvie Blocher (Campement Urbain) in 2005 – and helped her decide to work with Panthers – I had no idea it would lead to focusing on such important issues. Sylvie is an internationally acclaimed artist who is based in St Denis on the fringes of Paris.

Our meeting was part of Panthers involvement in the C3West project – a project that sought to harvest the potential that rested in the convergence of commercial, community, and cultural endeavours. The details of this project can be found in the publication The Art of Engagement edited by Elaine Lally, Ien Ang, and Kay Anderson.

I knew then, back in 2005 – and it remains true – that Panthers had to seek out new paradigms, new ways of operating, new images and perspectives of itself, it needed to get a grip on a future that was shutting down its relevance. This is still needed.

Sylvie had prepared material that spoke to the Panthers concept of The Club of the Future. The material she delivered was both insightful and confronting – it was called The Future of Panthers, Panthers of the Future. Momentarily Panthers showed an exciting willingness to be brave and crazy.

From this point we unleashed Campement Urbain on the local community – they presented to key stakeholders who have an interest in Panthers important landholding at Penrith – those stakeholders being Panthers, the Penrith City Council, and Panthers’ partner, ING.

Once again, the aim was to shift. Shift the thinking, shift the image, shift the meaning and the rules … shift the future.

Small beginnings and shaky starts can deliver wonderful results – all you need is patience, passion, resilience, care, and attention. That’s all!!! Anyway, I feel so proud to have played a part in getting my home town starring on stage under Australia’s greatest, most famous, most beautiful and most controversial roof.

It seemed appropriate that the symposium was held in the Utzon Room, after all Utzon’s design caused multiple, and big, shifts – not the least of which was to our largest city.

Campement Urbain is a creative collaborative group. The participants vary according to the project. For this project Campement Urbain is Sylvie Blocher, Francois Daune, and Tim Williams. Sylvie is an internationally acclaimed artist. Francois is an architect and urban planner based in Paris, and Tim is an architect and urban planner based in Sydney.

A post – Penrith par le Nepean – A French Vision for Penrith – in the The Preston Institute blog provides some specific details of the Campement Urbain proposition.

Just testing … though possibly politically incorrect!!!

In General Mish-Mash, Quick Mish-Mash on October 5, 2011 at 2:07 pm

I am just needing to test my connections …  but I do like this set of perceptions of the demography of Sydney. Originally published by Tharunka.

Ethnic & Cultural Profiles of Sydney

Food …

In General Mish-Mash on October 5, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Rather than rage over the “pokies” debate again, I thought I’d jot down some notes on my eating places in Sydney.

(If you’re interested in the pokies debate here are some thoughts that were prepared earlier.)

Back to food … I love a top nosh at a top notch restaurant just as much as anyone else. But it can be a drain on the bank account … and since eating is sort of necessary it seems important to have places for everyday and any day fare –  at everyday, any day prices.

Here are the 10 places where we dine out most (or take away with us).

Fish On Fire  – 217A Glebe Point Rd, Glebe

A little fish & chip place on Glebe Point Rd. We’ve tried ’em all and keep coming back to this one. I always have the grilled Whiting with chips and salad – I think it is $12. The Seafood Mixed Grill is also excellent. The chips are thick cut, beer battered and great. Their burgers are pretty fine too. Generally, we eat in and watch the eclectic mix of people stroll past. Oh … and the Sonoma Bakery is right next door – so you can take home a wonderful sourdough loaf as well.

Malay-Chinese Take-Away – Shop 1, 50-58 Hunter St, Sydney

I know this says “take-away” but I can’t recall ever taking away from here. They can seat about 40-50.  I am usually there on a Saturday for lunch – and it’s invariably Skinless Chicken Laksa. In my opinion the best Laksa in Sydney (although my daughter would argue that distinction belongs to Lee’s Malaysian in the food court at The Pavilion – cnr George & Bathurst Sts Sydney). Malay-Chinese also has very good Hor Fun; Chicken Curry; Har Mee; and Hainanese Chicken. Their Char Kway Teow is good as well.

Filicudi – 11 Ramsay Rd, Five Dock

Usually it’s take-away for us from this Italian Restaurant that has fed us for the last 24 years. I think Filicudi has provided for us more than 300 dinners or lunches. Generally my part of the take-away is Pizza (Pineapple, Pepperoni, Capsicum & Chilli). Their pastas are very good.

(Filicudi doesn’t have a website – the link takes you to a review from The Sydney Morning Herald)

Huong Houng – 228 Marrickville Rd, Marrickville

I added up the number of dishes in their menu once, I am sure it exceeded 600 – their website says “400+”. As you can imagine you are likely to find something that suits your palate – and some that don’t! They claim to be Vietnamese, Chinese, Thai, & Malaysian. Chicken Satay Noodle Soup is often my selection – also the noodle soups, Kwai Du Serum, Lemongrass & Chilli Chicken, Lemongrass & Chilli Bean Curd. Mostly we eat in … they have been so popular they are now open only 4 days a week Wed-Sat.

Kopitiam Cafe – 594 Harris St, Ultimo

Malaysian again. The menu is pretty extensive with a mixture of Chinese and Malaysian dishes. My preferences here are Nasi Lemak (which automatically means their curry is good – though it is a bit sweet and not hot enough) and Char Kway Teoh. I think both these dishes are the best of their type in Sydney. You can also find a Kopitiam at 21 The Strand, Croydon.

(Koptiam Cafe doesn’t have a website – the link is to a review in a blog called Malaysian Kitchen Blogger Summit)

Let’s Eat Thai -352 Illawarra Rd, Marrickville

A great little Thai restaurant servicing up beautifully spiced and tasty dishes. They rate give their dishes a chilli rating so you can select to your taste. I can’t recall having a dish I didn’t enjoy. Standing out for me are Tom Yum soup, Spicy Noodles, Pad Kra Prao, and Kra Prao Moo Grob.

(Let’s Eat doesn’t have a website – the link is to Urbanspoon)

Sambal – The Malaysian Food Experience – 285-297 Lane Cove Rd, North Rd

By now, I guess you have realised that I have a leaning to spicy food – which makes Malaysian top of the list. The Malaysian Chicken Curry is great. The Nasi Lemak is good … in fact the overall menu is very good.

Surjit’s Indian Restaurant – 215 Parramatta Rd, Annandale

Rumoured to be the favoured restaurant of the Indian Cricket team when they are here in Australia – and from the signed cricket memorabilia on show, along with the tasty fare on offer, and the warm, friendly service, you’d have to conclude there is probably truth in the rumour. Surjit also has a restaurant in Sydney’s CBD – in Angel Place.

Abdul’s Lebanese Restaurant – 563 Elizabeth St, Surry Hills

What can you say about Abdul’s? They have been an institution for around 40 years and still put up the best falafel around – I keep it really simple: take away falafel roll, homous, tabouli with chilli – no salad, no tomato, no garlic, nothing else. Usually add some baklava or bird’s nests into the order.

And now … the piece de resistance:

After a big night out on a Friday night the cure for that ravenous hunger created by an over-use of alcohol:

The best bacon and egg roll in Sydney – you’ll find it at the Orange Grove Organic Food Market, every Saturday in the Orange Grove Pubic School – cnr Balmain Rd and Perry Street, Lilyfield.