Kabul calling. Just back from Mazar-e-Sharif. A UN guesthouse in Kabul CBD was attacked this morning. Hostages were taken and at least six international UN staff were killed. There were a couple rockets that side of TV Mountain as well. Here in West Kabul it is situation normal. You will have heard that we are going to round two in the presidential election — a triumph for constitutionalism but not much else.

There is complete apathy here; 95% of people I’ve spoken to won’t even bother to vote in the second round. They see no benefit in participating when there is endemic corruption; both candidates are undesirable; it is a risk to their life and person to do so; and the winter snows are already upon the highlands.

An amusing tip from EEWR Estimates Hansard of  October 21:

MR Williams: … That has been concatenated with your question, Senator …

Senator Fisher: Sorry — cannonated? Whatted?

Mr Williams: Concatenated — combined with.

Senator Fisher: Thank you. Whoop!

Chair: We will have no whooping in here, Senator Fisher. Let us just keep it dignified.

Senator Fisher: I am having a good time, chair.

Chair: Well, keep it to yourself.

Almost fell off my chair laughing at James Packer’s comments yesterday on all the good that Crown Casino is doing for Australia’s economy and tourism.

Pity he didn’t spend any time explaining the disgraceful rort now going on with Crown’s blackjack tables. Not content with already running a card game of chance with heavily stacked odds, courtesy of their use of continuous card shufflers and multi decks, Crown now gouges the punters further on their $5 and $10 blackjack tables.

Getting a blackjack means Crown only pays odds of 6:5 instead of 3:2 (meaning a bonus payout of just 20% instead of the standard 50%) on a player blackjack, and allows the dealer to draw another card on soft 17, a huge further statistical advantage to the casino. Nice work, Jamie. Maybe the tourists are dumber than Aussie punters?

How to get ahead in advertising, the Melbourne Observer-Melbourne Trader way: Beware of print ad salespeople bearing “last-minute” gifts. The Melbourne-Observer-Melbourne Trader is pretty up-front about its sales tactics, publishing them for all to see on its website. Sales tips include creating a (false?) sense of urgency about deadlines and offering “last-minute” ad deals for heavily “discounted” rates since “someone could have a genuine bargain for $250 all up” (instead of $1000!). Read how their salespeople are “the best” here.

David Butorac is in court tomorrow in Sydney in his legal action against WIN Corporation and 81-year-old media mogul Bruce Gordon. Butorac was sacked without warning or explanation six weeks or more ago by Gordon. The sacking is understood to relate to Butorac, who was hired as WIN’s CEO by Gordon, ending a variety program hosted by Susie Elelman. It’s lawyers at 20 paces. Butorac has the same lawyers who appeared for Mark Llewellyn in his now-famous sacking by the Nine Network.

The Herald Sun‘s Confidential columnists Fiona Byrne, Alice Coster and Katherine Firkin are rewarding a big advertiser, Myer, with excellent coverage. They ran a piece about Myer buying a horse on Saturday and rehashed the information on Wednesday, this time with a website link. Excellent journalism. Maybe the journalists and their readers are so dense that they need to read stories twice for the news to sink in.

Wednesday, 28th October 2009:

Store joins the thoroughbreds
Fiona Byrne, Alice Coster and Katherine Firkin

MYER has taken its commitment to racing in Melbourne to a new level — and it is not about fashion. It’s buying a racehorse. Myer shoppers will be able to buy a stake in a colt, which will hopefully have its first start next year. The two-year-old horse is being held at Lindsay Park in Flemington. Myer customers who buy a share in the horse will also get the chance to name the colt. Those wanting to go racing with Myer can buy a stake and register a name at www.myerone.com.au

Saturday, 24th of October 2009:

Myer has Luck on its side
Fiona Byrne, Alice Coster and Katherine Firkin

MYER has officially become a clothes horse, after the retail giant bought its own racehorse. The department store has taken its commitment to the racing game to a new level after buying into a two-year-old colt by former smart sprinter Bradbury’s Luck.

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