Monday 17 May 2010

How to write to Aussie politicians

Picked this up from a facebook group...

Hi all,

Ever written to your federal politician, to your local Member, to a Senator or to a Member of Parliament?

Got an answer? Did it take three or four months? Did the answer come from someone entirely different, like a government department? Did it really respond to your letter or did you - rudely - get a truckload of spin and smoke and mirrors and party policy?

Writing your letter is the easy part. But it will be very likely that the person you're writing to will never personally read your letter. The days of personal contact with politicians are slowly vanishing behind a gigantic bureaucratic maze of accountability structures. Here are some tips that will make your letter stand out and ensure it's being read by the person you're writing.

• Your politicians

All contact details for politicians are on the Parliamentary website at

The first link is the overview with link to lists by party, by State etc. The second link is the alphabetical list:

House of Representatives Members:

Alphabetical List:

Senate, Senators:

Alphabetical List:

• Parliamentary address or Electorate address?

Don't use the Parliamentary office address for your letter, ALWAYS send it to the Electorate Office for all Members of Parliament or Senators. In Parliament your letter will end up on a giant pile and gets less attention - and the "tricks" explained below won't work.

• Envelope and address: the important start

First, make sure the address and postal details are in the BOTTOM RIGHT QUARTER of the envelope. Too many people chalk the address all over the front of the envelope, and it won't look good. The professional outside helps our trick and gives a credible impression. If you can type the address on the envelope, that's even better!
your name

State and PCode


Envelope all done? Then it's time for your RED pen and to add "the personal touch" above the address. This will ensure your letter gets the importance it deserves - almost, not entirely. For that to happen we have one more trick below.

Make sure the pen is RED and use clear block letters:
your name

State and PCode

• That extra mile: Use Registered Mail

By sending your letter as Registered Mail, you will considerably increase its importance: the recipient will have to sign for its delivery - it becomes a "person-to-person" letter, even if it's a staffer in the politician's office who signs for its receipt. Registered Mail will cost you an extra $2.30, but it's worth the weight it adds to your writing.


• I Write To You And I Vote: using pressure

Feel free to tell your politician that your vote counts, and that they need to earn it. This year it's the biggest pressure point on politicians, and you are in your right mind to demand just policies - whether that's in relation to the ghastly treatment of Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory, in relation to the undermining of United Nations Conventions, in relation to the massive concern we all share about the environment, in relation to the treatment of asylum seekers who have arrived by boat, in relation to mandatory detention of boat arrivals, or what have you.

Remind them. Tell them. Urge them. Scold them. Cajole them - and tell them your vote to them is at risk. You write to them AND you vote!

==== >>>> Spread the word about our Facebook group

1. Go to the group's front page:

2. Note the five TABS [ | Wall | Info | Discussions | Photos | + | ]

3. Choose the "Info" TAB, and find the how to's of "inviting others", your friends, in the "Recent News" section.

best regards

Tuesday 18 August 2009

Thai Movie "The Overture"

Highly recommended:

Monday 27 July 2009

Top violinist busks in train station and nobody listens

Thursday 14 May 2009

Laya Project film at Greenfest June 5

Six shores sharing one ocean, one sky, and one language of survival and music

67 minutes – screening approximately 9pm as an evening of the ‘Best of the Byron Bay Film Festival’ films –

On June 5th as part of Greenfest (see below)


More images can be found at

The filmmakers behind Laya Project travelled for two years through the traditional folk communities of the 2004 tsunami-affected regions of Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar and India in order to create this timeless musical journey. Their goal was to search out unknown local folk musicians whose music expressed the spiritual and life rhythms of their village and beliefs.

Set against a rich visual tapestry, regional folk music traditions have been recorded, mixed and enhanced; preserving the unique music, ritual and tradition of these various peoples. Some of this music was being recorded for the first time ever.

Director Harold Monfils interlaces a pervasive visual theme of sea and sky throughout the film, highlighting both the proximity and potential power of nature. Within this contextual landscape, everyday village spaces become recording studios, capturing the music and dynamics of peoples whose traditions and resiliency have been capable of withstanding whatever nature has imposed upon them. Close up shots of village faces, both young and old, allow us an intimate portrait of capacity, tragedy, experience and beauty.

Laya Project is a personal and collective tribute to the resilience of the human spirit; an inspirational visual and musical journey that crosses borders and transcends time.

This joyous journey is dedicated to the survivors of the 26th December 2004 Asian tsunami.

Greenfest 5-7 June Brisbane Botanic Gardens

Greenfest presented by Brisbane City Council, is Australia's largest free green festival and place for fresh energy. Commencing on World Environment Day, Greenfest aims to bring our community together for a cooler planet!

Where: City Botanic Gardens

When: Friday 5th June 12 midday to 10pm

Saturday 6th June 10am to 10pm

Sunday 7th June 10am to 5pm

Entry: FREE to all areas, exhibits, concerts, speakers

Program will be published here 15th May. View music lineup.

Friday 6 February 2009

How to import podcasts into iTunes

I've been on a really slow internet connection lately, but still wanting to download podcasts to listen to on my iPod. This is where iTunes really fails - its downloading through slow connections is terrible. You can download the files with a download manager (I'm using FreshDownload), but iTunes doesn't provide an easy way to actually put the files into the Podcast directory where you want them; it just imports them as regular music files.

At last I found a post on One Horse Blog, where the writer was actually trying to do the reverse - make podcast files appear in the music section of iTunes. The solution is to use the Mp3tag utility and modify a few of the extended tags. After some experimentation, you must at least set these:
: ITUNESPODCASTURL - set to rss feed of podcast - you can copy from another file in the podcast stream
: RELEASETIME - not compulsory but good for sorting correctly, eg 2009-02-02T11:00:00Z

There are other tags you could fill in if you are keen (eg ITUNESPODCASTDESC and SUBTITLE, which are normally the same in iTunes and can be copied from the iTunes RSS feed), but three listed above will get your podcast file in the right place.

Tuesday 23 December 2008

Muslimgauze on Metafilter

The veiled sound of a secretive world

Muslimgauze was the sound of an angry Middle East, a prolific source of music dark, spacious and smothering. Tension was a constant theme not only in the music but in the packaging. (For example, Betrayal shows the hands of Yassir Arafat and Yitzak Rabin, and guns, knives, and news photos of an Arab world at war were a common motif in titles and sleeve art.) However, the music wasn't the usual agitprop fare: Music meant to rile a public to a cause isn't normally pigeonholed as ambient, electronica or musique concrete. But the band, hidden from public view, was rumored to donate proceeds to Palestinian terrorists, and that they were eventually silenced by Mossad. Despite the prodigious output -- issuing almost a hundred EPs and albums between 1983 and 1998, over a hundred more since -- limited distribution and perpetual obscurity ensured the rumors were easier to find than the music. While the facts about Muslimgauze have little in common with the fictions, they are, if anything, stranger...

CD: Youssoupha Sidibe (kora)

Kora Master in the Spirit

Youssoupha Sidibe

Xelcom (Self-released, 2008)

Senegal’s Youssoupha Sidibe has played his kora (21-stringed West African harp) alongside artists as varied as Matisyahu, Bela Fleck, India Arie and Midnite, but on this meditative release he’s put aside crossovers and dug deep into his African roots. Xelcom consists of six lengthy tracks on which the kora typically establishes a softly attention-grabbing tone before settling into swaying riffs joined by Sidibe’s hushed but from-the-gut singing and occasional percussion.

Each song is one of praise, specifically from a Sufi devotional perspective as practiced by the members of Baay Fall, a mystical Senegalese sect dedicated to farming, community service and ever-greater connection with the Creator. The virtues of love, goodness and work are extolled, and the medicinal way the music gets under your skin makes you believe that such qualities can indeed make a difference.

All the vocal and instrumental sounds heard here are those of Sidibe, who’s not looking to blow anyone away with his kora virtuosity though it’s clear he could do so. Rather, he’s made a stripped-down album of spiritual music close to his own heart and likely to create a stirring in yours. Heavenly.

Buy the CD:

Sunday 21 December 2008

Old footage of Tibetan lamas and yogis

Historic, beautiful and interesting footage of Tibetan lamas and yogis teaching Buddhism, just 4 years after their escape from Tibet, when the Chinese invaded in 1959. "In 1963, for the first time, the Dalai Lama allowed a Westerner, Desjardins, to film the heart of the Tibetan tradition." Some meditation instruction taught by yogis: Tantra as practiced in Tibet, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Lerab's Youtube channel has all kinds of video gems for those interested in Buddhist and Hindu spiritual practice.
Buddhism and Tantrism: "two films were originally shown on French television in the 1960's and are a wonderful testimony, revealing some of Tibet's foremost masters as they were then. It includes footage of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, the Sixteenth Karmapa, Dudjom Rinpoche, Ling Rinpoche, Chatral Rinpoche, Sakya Trizin, and the yogis Abo Rinpoche and Lopon Sonam Zangpo. The original sixties commentaries have been retained, even though it may sound a bit dated in places." "There are unusual scenes of yogis performing preparatory meditation exercises."

About Arnaud Desjardins, born 18 June 1925. Books he's written.

Also on Lerab's YouTube channel:

The Tibetan Book of the Dead #1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

From Lerab's blog:
"A Short History of Bön - Extracted from the pamphlet "Tibetan gYung-Drung Bön Monastery in India," published by the Yungdrung Bön Monastic Center, Solan, 1983. Translated by Tadeusz Skorupski."

Friday 14 November 2008

Petition against internet censorship in Australia

Stop Australian Internet Censorship
19098 signatures so far! [view all signatures]
Petition created by: Michael Meloni

Australian Senator, Stephen Conroy, is set to introduce mandatory Internet filtering in 2008. This petition has been organised to put an end to the filtering in Australia, before it begins!

Existing reports (some even conducted by the Australian Government) show that ISPs and customers will be forced to pay if mandatory filtering is introduced. The 2003 Ovum report on filtering commissioned by the Howard Government even finds that smaller ISPs will not be able to absorb the costs like large ISPs.

Furthermore, industry groups have all warned that the filtering can and will be bypassed. Why waste money on something that isn't going to work?

Show your support by signing this petition. Show Mr Conroy and Mr Rudd that Australia does not require a Government babysitter.

This petition will be forwarded to all politicians concerned.

Friday 31 October 2008

Australia to implement mandatory internet censorship

This is absolutely shameful!!! I have been overseas and only just heard about this now. I'm really hoping this is still just a proposal and that no bills have been passed yet, and that the people of Australia will strongly protest against any mandatory censorship of the internet.

NB There is a petition against Australian Internet Censorship on TIG Petitions.

From Herald Sun...

AUSTRALIA will join China in implementing mandatory censoring of the internet under plans put forward by the Federal Government.

The revelations emerge as US tech giants Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, and a coalition of human rights and other groups unveiled a code of conduct aimed at safeguarding online freedom of speech and privacy.

The government has declared it will not let internet users opt out of the proposed national internet filter.

The plan was first created as a way to combat child pronography and adult content, but could be extended to include controversial websites on euthanasia or anorexia.

Communications minister Stephen Conroy revealed the mandatory censorship to the Senate estimates committee as the Global Network Initiative, bringing together leading companies, human rights organisations, academics and investors, committed the technology firms to "protect the freedom of expression and privacy rights of their users".

Mr Conroy said trials were yet to be carried out, but "we are talking about mandatory blocking, where possible, of illegal material."

The net nanny proposal was originally going to allow Australians who wanted uncensored access to the web the option of contacting their internet service provider to be excluded from the service.

Human Rights Watch has condemned internet censorship, and argued to the US Senate "there is a real danger of a Virtual Curtain dividing the internet, much as the Iron Curtain did during the Cold War, because some governments fear the potential of the internet, (and) want to control it"

Groups including the System Administrators Guild of Australia and Electronic Frontiers Australia have attacked the proposal, saying it would unfairly restrict Australians' access to the web, slow internet speeds and raise the price of internet access.

EFA board member Colin Jacobs said it would have little effect on illegal internet content, including child pornography, as it would not cover file-sharing networks.

"If the Government would actually come out and say we're only targeting child pornography it would be a different debate," he said.

The technology companies' move, which follows criticism that the companies were assisting censorship of the internet in nations such as China, requires them to narrowly interpret government requests for information or censorship and to fight to minimise cooperation.

The initiative provides a systematic approach to "work together in resisting efforts by governments that seek to enlist companies in acts of censorship and surveillance that violate international standards", the participants said.

In a statement, Yahoo co-founder and chief executive Jerry Yang welcomed the new code of conduct.

"These principles provide a valuable roadmap for companies like Yahoo operating in markets where freedom of expression and privacy are unfairly restricted," he said.

"Yahoo was founded on the belief that promoting access to information can enrich people's lives, and the principles we unveil today reflect our determination that our actions match our values around the world."

Yahoo was thrust into the forefront of the online rights issue after the Californian company helped Chinese police identify cyber dissidents whose supposed crime was expressing their views online.

China exercises strict control over the internet, blocking sites linked to Chinese dissidents, the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement, the Tibetan government-in-exile and those with information on the 1989 Tiananmen massacre.

A number of US companies, including Microsoft, Cisco, Google and Yahoo, have been hauled before the US Congress in recent years and accused of complicity in building the "Great Firewall of China".

The Australian Christian Lobby, however, has welcomed the proposals.

Managing director Jim Wallace said the measures were needed.

"The need to prevent access to illegal hard-core material and child pornography must be placed above the industry's desire for unfettered access," Mr Wallace said.

Sunday 21 September 2008

Musician jokes

Via Earthlingz...

More at

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic
hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs.
There's also a negative side." - Hunter S Thompson

Q: What's the definition of a gentleman?
A: One who knows how to play the saxophone, but doesn't.

Q: What's the difference between a 14" pizza and a musician?
A: A 14" pizza can feed a family of four.

Q: What's the difference between a saxophone and a lawnmower? A: You can
tune a lawnmower and the owner's neighbors don't mind if you don't
return the sax when you borrow it.

Q: How many sopranos does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Three: one to change the bulb, one to kick the ladder out from under
her, and one to say, "I knew it was too high for you, dear."

Q: What's the difference between a soprano and a rottweiler ?
A: Lipstick.

Q: How do lute players spend their time?
A: They spend 80% of their time tuning and 20% if their time playing out
of tune.

Q: What do lead trumpet players use for birth control?
A: Their personality.

Q: What is the definition of perfect pitch?
A: When you get the viola into the toilet without hitting the sides.

Q: What is the difference between a violist and a terrorist?
A: Terrorists have sympathizers.

Q: How do you get a viola section to play spiccato?
A: Write a whole note with "solo" above it.

Q: What is the difference between a dressmaker and an alto?
A: The dressmaker tucks up the frills.

Q: How can you tell if a violin is out of tune?
A: The bow is moving.

Q: How are a bagpipe player and blind javelin thrower alike?
A: Neither has to be very good to get everybody's attention...

Q: Where is a good place to practice the bagpipes?
A: North Dakota.

A few definitions:

Crescendo: A reminder to the performer that he has been playing too loudly.
Discord: Not to be confused with Datcord.
Espressivo: Close eyes and play with a wide vibrato.
Glissando: The musical equivalent of slipping on a banana peel. Also, a
technique adopted by string players for difficult runs.
Lamentoso: With handkerchiefs.
Mean-Tone Temperament: One's state of mind when everybody's trying to
tune at the same time.
Organum: You may not participate in the Lai without one.
Stops: Something Bach did not have on his organ.

Q: How do you get 5 oboes in tune?
A: Shoot 4 of them.
Q: What are burning oboes used for?
A: To set bassoons on fire.

Q: What happens if you sing country music backwards?
A: You get your job and your wife back.

Q:What do you say to the banjo player in the three piece suit?
A:Will the defendant please rise.

Q:What's the definition of a minor second?
A:Two flutes playing a unison

Opera is when a guy gets stabbed in the back and instead of bleeding, he

Q: What is the difference between a clarinet and an onion?
A: People cry when you chop an onion into pieces.

Q: What is the difference between an accordion and a trampoline?
A: You take off your shoes before jumping on the trampoline.

Q: What do you call someone who hangs around a bunch of musicians?
A: A drummer.

Q: There's a five pound note on the floor. Which of a thrash guitarist,
a drummer who keeps good time and a drummer who keeps bad time picks it up?
A: The drummer who keeps bad time: the other drummer doesn't exist and
the thrash guitarist doesn't care about notes anyway.

What did the drummer get on his I.Q. test?

If thine enemy wrong thee, buy each of his children a drum.

Q: What do you call a drummer with no girlfriend?
A: Homeless.

Q: How do you know when a drummer is at your door?
A: The knocking speeds up.

Q: How do you tell when a singer is at your door?
A: He can't find the key and doesn't know when to come in.

Q:What's the inscription on dead blues-singers tombstones?
A:"I didn't wake up this morning..."

Q:What do a vacuum cleaner and an electric guitar have in common?
A:When you plug them in, they suck.

Q. What does it mean when the guitar player is drooling out of both
sides of his mouth?
A. The stage is level.

Q: How do you make a guitarist play quieter?
A: Put a sheet of music in front of him.
Q: How do you make him stop?
A: Put notes on it!

Q: How many guitarists does it take to read a page of sheet music?
A: When you find one who can, ask.

Q: What do you call a guitarist's voice mail?
A: Mommy.

Q- What do you do when a guitar player comes to your door?
A- Pay him for the pizza and shut the door quickly

Q- How many producers does it take to change a light bulb?
A- What do you think?

How many bass players does it take to change a light bulb?
One, but the guitarist had to show him how first.

SON: Dad, when I grow up I want to be a musician.
DAD: Well you know son, you can't do both.

Q: What's the difference between a frog driving down the road in a car
and a trombone player driving down the road in a car?
A: The frog might be driving to a gig.

Q: What's the difference between a violinist and a dog?
A: A dog knows when to stop scratching.

Q: How do you make a chain saw sound like a baritone sax?
A: Add vibrato.

Q: What's the difference between a charging bull and a symphony conductor?
A: The bull has the horns in front and the asshole in back.

What do you get when you drop a piano down a mine shaft?
A flat minor.

A note left for a pianist from his wife:
Gone Chopin, (have Liszt), Bach in a Minuet.

Someone requested Victor Borge that he play something by Bach, to which
Victor replied, "Which one, Johann Sebastian or Offen?"


"After one look at this planet any visitor from outer space would say "I want to see the manager."
-William S. Burroughs-

Friday 12 September 2008

Miles from India

Thanks to Baz Brown for this one...

Miles from India
(The Weekend Planet: Saturday 13 September 2008)
Miles from India presents the music of Miles Davis, as never before seriously attempted. The late 'prince of darkness' had a following in India. Indian influences were at times audible in his recordings and Indian instruments and/or players occasionally present. But this is the first full-on collaboratiion between distinguished Davis alumni and leading musicians from the Subcontinent. One of many delightful surprises: an All Blues for north and south Indian classical virtuosi (Hindustani lutenist/Carnatic hand-percussionist, respectively, on sitar and ghatam) plus some Davis 'old scholars', including the drummer who'd played on Davis's original nearly fifty years earlier. No-one replicates their own or anyone else's previous efforts.

Two good places to discover the story behind Miles from India:

Shen says: Searching Youtube for "Miles from India" turned up a few tracks, of which this one is not so bad IMHO (generally I found there are too many musicians for any music to come out):

Thursday 4 September 2008

Raka Mukherjee on Youtube

Raka Mukherjee, a wonderful khayal singer who I was fortunate to accompany on her Australian tour a few years back, has put a number of her performances on Youtube:
Raka Mukherjee Thumri part 1
Raka Mukherjee Thumri part 2
Raka Mukherjee Thumri part 3
Raka Mukherjee Dadra (part 1)
Raka Mukherjee Dadra (part 2)
Raka Mukherjee - Rag Bihag (part 1)
Raka Mukherjee - Rag Bihag (part 2)
Raka Mukherjee - Rag Bihag (part 3)
Raka Mukherjee - Rag Bihag (part 4)
Raka Mukherjee - Rag Bihag (part 5)

Wednesday 20 August 2008

New Debapriya-Samanwaya CD

Hello Everybody,
Hereisour new release by TIMES MUSIC "SAMVAAD" under the series Unheard Jugalbandis after the marvellous response of our solo albums SILK and IRIDESCENT by RAGARANGA in USA.,

Tuesday 12 August 2008

Monday 11 August 2008

CD: The Sabri Family - 5 Ragas (sarangi)

The Sabri Family

5 Ragas (ARC Music, 2008)

The sarangi is a beautiful Indian musical instrument. It is bowed and produces a spacey evocative sound that makes you dream and wonder. The liner notes on the CD 5 Ragas explain how a poet, inspired by the hypnotizing beauty of the sarangi's sound, said: "The Sarangi? No, because of its innumerable beautiful tone colours, it is verily the ‘Saurangi’– Meaning full of hundreds of colors".

On 5 Ragas, three generations of sarangi maestros perform together, accompanied by tabla. The four piece ensemble is formed by members of the Sabri Family: Ustad Sabri Khan (sarangi), Kamal Sabri (sarangi), Suhail Yusuf Khan (sarangi), Sarvar Sabri (tabla).

The Sabri Family selected a collection of ragas (also spelled raags) representing various moods and seasons. "Raag Megh" is played during the rainy monsoon season in India and has a romantic mood. "Raag Mian Ki Malhar" is an evening raga. On "Tabla Solo Shikhar Tala" Savar Sabri uses 17 beats, which is an unusual time cycle. "Raag Adana" is a night raga, and "Raag Pancham" is a rarely heard morning raga.

The CD comes with extensive liner notes, in four languages, about The Sabri Family and the sarangi.

Buy the CD:

Friday 8 August 2008

I Love Tibet Loop Collection

I Love Tibet (Discovery Sounds, 2008) is a classy collection of Tibetan samples with a specially included movie. The faithful performances of sacred instruments & voices. In the Tibet Autonomous Region under the occupation of China, extreme human rights violations have continued, and their traditional Buddhist music is also in peril to disappear. Soon after his arrival in India in 1959, Dalai Lama re-organized the Tibetan Government-in-Exile, and their tradition and culture are still maintained by many Tibetan exiles settled in the town.

To record the genuine Tibetan samples on this library, Discovery Sounds visited the refugee settlement under the Tibetan Government-in-Exile located in Dharamsala, Northern India.

I Love Tibet is a CD-ROM with 644 MB of 16-bit/44.1kHz recordings of loops, one-shots, and multi samples made using a varied cross-section of instruments – indispensable sacred percussion, wind instruments and sutras used in Tibetan Buddhist music - together with some more traditional percussion, string and wind instruments and Tibetan Opera which are familiar to Tibetan people.

Users will enjoy the instrumental performances included as a special movie as well as the live performance by monks in a temple on the disc.

Thre collection is available from

Wednesday 30 July 2008

Save the Frogs

SAVE THE FROGS! is the nonprofit organization founded by biologist and musician Kerry Kriger. Their website features info on amphibian extinctions, threats to frogs, ways to help save frogs, cool frog facts and pictures, and a Frogs of Australia poster and bumper stickers being sold to raise money for amphibian conservation projects.

Sunday 27 July 2008

CD: Tanya Tagaq (Inuit throat singing + Bjork)

Tanya Tagaq

Auk/Blood (Ipecac Records, 2008)

After the 2005 release of her first debut CD Sinaa, Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq continues to dazzle audiences with her ongoing collaboration with Icelandic singer/songwriter Björk in recording the soundtrack to Matthew Barney's film Drawing Restraint 9, appearing on her ...

Monday 21 July 2008

CD: Rough Guide to the Music of Romanian Gypsies

The Rough Guide music series has a new title focuses on Gypsy music. The Rough Guide to the Music of Romanian Gypsies (RGNET1210) represents the music of Romania’s 2.5 million Roma (Gypsy) population. Romania has many of the world’s top Eastern European Gypsy musicians, including Taraf de Haidouks, Fanfare Ciocąrlia, Mahala Raï Banda, Toni Iordachi and Gabi Lunca. From energetic brass bands and mesmerizing cimbalom players to legendary haunting fiddlers, The Rough Guide to the Music of Romanian Gypsies presents the internationally acclaimed performers together with renowned local artists...