Wednesday, May 04, 2005

stay tuned

Now that I've got Real Player running properly again, I was able to listen to an adaptation of the old Dorothy L. Sayers whodunit Whose Body on BBC7. Love Lord Peter Wimsey.

And you've got to admire the brave people at BBC World Service's Write On who responded to a letter from one listener who suggested (possibly tongue-in-cheek) that it would be interesting to hear juxtaposed two clips on the subject of the soap opera Westway.

They gamely dug out the two clips in question and we got to hear a BBC Commissioner in 1997 explaining why the BBC World Service needed its own soap opera serial, then we heard from April 2005 the Director of English Networks & News explaining with equal conviction why the World Service had to axe the programme.

It's part of what some listeners have derisively dubbed the "BBCNN transformation of the World Service" -- turning the station into a clone of the American style "rolling news" stations which broadcast little but news and current affairs.

A symptom of the 21st century's short attention span perhaps. You switch on, listen for ten minutes and switch off again.

There's been quite a bit of talk in marketing circles about the possibility that Australia's two biggest supermarket chains Coles and Woolworths are going to follow overseas trends and concentrate more on their own home-brand generic products. The Australian Financial Review did a story about it last year.

But now The Weekly Times has taken a look at the idea and how it would affect Australian producers. The own-brand products tend to be sourced from anywhere that the company can procure good quality materials at a cheap price. If they start to crowd out the Australian brands, this could lead to a decline in the Australian-made products being sold and consumed in this country.

Your canned beans might come from China, your biscuits from the Persian Gulf, your frozen peas from the USA.

Australians have traditionally responded well to "buy Australian" campaigns, but the big two chains control 75% of the grocery market across the continent. If it's in their interests to downsize the traditional brands in favour of their own products, does anyone doubt that they'd do it?

I'm one of those people who still handwrites a few things, and over the years I've used various types of pens. Back in my school days I actually learned to write with a fountain pen (my teachers believed that ballpoint pens encouraged sloppy penmanship) and since then I've tried most of the popular brands from Biro to Staedtler.

The one I've settled on for now is the Hybrid Gel pen made by Pentel.

The 0.6mm fine point rollerball is easy to write with, and the rubber grip is comfortable.

But what really keeps me coming back to this product is that the gel ink is advertised as being waterproof and fade-resistant. Like most bloggers I have an inflated idea of the value of my words, and I like the idea that the notes I scrawl in my diary will still be easily read in a generation from now.


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