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Attila the Pun
Friday, December 31, 2004
 
Nice T-Shirt

Whilst it in no way decreases my sympathy for the dead and injured in Sri Lanka, I will say that this fellow's t-shirt is not comforting...

Thursday, December 30, 2004
 
Listen to Moi

On a lighter note, the SMH has a debate on the merits of Kath & Kim. Michael Idato, speaking "For", fires a shot across the bow:

Kath and Kim, cartoonishly drawn but performed with breathtaking brilliance, aren't a criticism of Australia, or Australians, they are a celebration of it and us.

Not the polished, play-acted Australia pushed by the "cardonnay"-drinking, eastern suburbs bourgeoisie who, between air-freighted issues of Vanity Fair, sermonise about the cruelty of the characterisations.

Then goes into bat for them:

Kath and Kim are real Australians, like the rest of us who regard world affairs and our waistlines with an equally cautious eye and aren't afraid to own up to our suburban roots - a world of over-the-back-fence conversations populated by permed, polyester mums and aunties who cast a loving, but disapproving, eye over everything, and G-strung cousins and sisters who truly understand the slimming power of the cigarette.

Bruce Elder, speaking "Against", just comes across as a tosser:

Anyone with a modicum of taste should know that when it comes to satire of Australian suburban life, Barry Humphries's early work - Sandy Stone, early Edna Everage - is still a benchmark. As Clive James observed: "The force of intellect Humphries brings to the seemingly worthless minutiae of everyday Australian life depends absolutely on his studious immersion in European culture and his readiness to measure his work by its standards."

This ignores the fact that Barry Humphries' early work was 30 years ago. It was snobbish then, and now it is just hopelessly out of date and snobbish. Elder only makes one good point:

Further, a comedy that relies so heavily on malapropisms (such as "effluent" for "affluent") is relying on a one-dimensional joke and the assumption that suburban women of small pretensions would use (and confuse) such terms.

My thoughts? I think that Kath & Kim is not particularly amusing (and does rely unduly on the malapropisms mentioned above) and is basically a piss take of what the latte set think lower middle class Australians are like. It fits very well with the similar mockery in the Castle.

 
APoplexy

An Associated Press double today.

First up, a story regarding the potentially catastrophic damage caused to the Maldives by the tsunami. Being the AP however, we only make it to the second paragraph before this appears:

The archipelago of 1190 low-lying coral islands, dotted across hundreds of kilometres of ocean, has for years begged bigger, more powerful nations to act on global warming, fearing higher sea levels could swallow up much of its territory.

The relevance of this being what exactly? But it gets better. After going through the tragic effects that the tsunami may have on a country with a GDP of only $850 million, we get this:

Although there was no direct link between climate change and the tsunami, which was caused by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake, the world's largest in 40 years, many Maldivians say irregular weather patterns and erosion by the sea are making the country more vulnerable.

They really are shameless. There isn't even a casual link between the two. The tsunami were caused by an undersea earthquake. Erosion by the sea is caused by erosion by the sea. I have sympathy for the Maldavians - they have been bombarded, by people who really should know better, with claims that the seas will rise and swallow their tiny nation. Thankfully, there is little or no evidence to support this.

In other AP related news, we have this:

Six Navy SEALs and the wives of two commandos have filed a lawsuit accusing The Associated Press of invasion of privacy and endangering lives by distributing pictures of them with Iraqi prisoners.

The lawsuit asserts that the photos, showing the SEALs' faces, have been shown on al-Jazeera, the pan-Arab television network, and also on anti-American billboards outside the US base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

As a result, lawyer James Huston said the SEALs' lives were endangered because their identities, which the navy went to great lengths to conceal, were now known.

If I were this guy:

The wire service issued a statement supporting the reporter, Seth Hettena, assigned to the San Diego bureau, and his use of the photos in a December 4 story about possible abuse of prisoners.

I would probably rather that *my* identity were concealed, rather than be known as the guy who endangered the lives of 6 rather angry SEALS....

Wednesday, December 29, 2004
 
Grrr Redux

Yep, the SMH never fails to disappoint:

Indonesia is right up on our doorstep. Why are we not sending ships, helicopters, anything to Simeulu? Why has the Indonesian Government not requested this? Why is our military off mucking about in a token war when we REALLY need them here?

Cathy Bannister

Cathy gets some points for realising that Australia would be ill-advised to send military craft without Indonesia's blessing, but then loses it all by trotting out the "if the 700 troops weren't in Iraq they could be helping out here" meme.

How hard is it to send a few planes to take all Australians back home. All other countries have.

DJ

How hard is it to make stupid comments on an online forum? Not very apparently. Hey DJ - there are around 6000 Australians in the affected areas. That is more than a "few planes".

This is a very sad time for all of SE Asia. Prays must go out to all the nations involved in this tragedy. With the death toll continuing to rise we pray that there is some miracles of people surviving in this terrible time. May God bless those who have lost love ones and may all the nations (Especially the US)dig deep to help with Medical & Food supplies for those hanging on.

Shaun B.

Its like a disease that can strike at any time. I can't argue with the majority of Shaun's comments, but he just can't help himself with the "Especially the US" line. I would have thought that the UK, France and the Netherlands, as ex-colonial masters, would have been under a greater moral burden to assist. The US will assist of course, and will get little credit for it, of course.

I believe such natural forces/happenings have been going on for centuries and will continue given the geology, etc of the planet. The reason such happenings turn into disaster is because humans happen to be "in the way". Bazaar as it sounds, resources would be better spent on staying away and/or predicting such events. They are here to stay. Our reactive culture is partly to blame. Cities like Tokyo, San Fran, Darwin continue with the urban spawl despite the obvious risk.

Ricki hills

Wait - resources would be better spent on staying away or predicting "natural forces", rather than helping the millions affected by them? wtf? Oh, I get it - it was the stupid human's fault for being "in the way". And our "reactive culture" (reacting by helping the survivors presumably) is "partly to blame" as well. Oh, and Darwin, if you get hit by another cyclone - it is your fauly for continuing to grow, "despite the obvious risk".

We are shocked that possible 100,000 will eventually be found to have died. We are sad to think that the expenditure of a few $m might have saved most if not all of those. We are shocked and sad at such needless loss of life, yet we ignore the fact we spend $b's so that we can kill just as many in the pursuit of a new world order.Parents holding dead children in their arms ........ Sad indeed!

Rubens Camejo

If talking in the "royal we" were not warning enough, the uttering of "new world order" surely is. Hey Rubens, the NWO is soooo 90's man. And what the hell is that final line - is he trying to sound ironic?

Feel that I have just woken from a dream . Iraq never really happened and 100000 thousand Iraqi people havn't died .The Coalition of the willing didn't kill them and we dont have to send them aid after all . In fact we can now forget the dream and hope that the purposeful killing of humans will never happen like we hope we never ever see another Tsunami. Problem is both these tradgedies happened but I dont see the enormous concern for Iraqis . Dare I ask why ? Nature is one thing deliberate bombing is another

john g

Gee, who predicted that the "100,000 dead" lie would enter the popular fevered imagination? It is interesting to see a similar thought process going on in the mind of the loonies regarding Saddam and the tsunami. When talking about removing Saddam on the grounds that he was a bloodthirsty dictator, they would say "why him, why not ?" Now we have "why all this sympathy for tsunami victims, but none for ?" Its like they think that you morally can't help anywhere unless you help everywhere, ignoring the impossibility of that task.

It just goes to show how the media drives our sympathies and dollar...As much as the tsunami disaster is a great tragedy, with what will no doubt be (in the end) close to 100,000 deaths, the media so conveniently forgets that some 300,000 Sudanese will die if they do get relief aid in time. And closer to 1 MILLION will die if they don't. Where's the daily coverage and outpouring of funds for that tragedy?

J Morrison

Thanks for making my point J.

I cant help but wonder, how as a country can we justify the hundreds of millions spent on the Iraq war, yet our Government allocates a meagre ten million to such a disaster, shows you where our priorities are.

john Smith

Everybody wants to help me out! His now out of date $10 million figure shows the danger of making snide comments regarding time sensitive information. Sort of like me mocking the French earlier. They obviously heard, as they have now ponied up 15 million euros. The Amazon appeal meanwhile, is close to breaking the $US 3 million mark.

UPDATE - It is interesting to note that the Age's forum is only filled with expressions of sympathy and requests for information regarding the missing. Perhaps there is hope for their readership yet.

 
Grrr

Okay you fuckers - sure, you hate your country, but can you give it a rest for like five minutes while mourning the victims of the tsunamis? From the sociopaths at the Sydney Morning Herald readers forum:

Our governments pledge of AU$10 million is disgusting. Over 14000 people have died in several nations, something like 5500 Australians are in the region; people are dieing and in need to assistance and our government offers AU$10 million? Over the past 3 years thanks to Mr. (tight) Costello, Australia's federal budget surpluses total AU$16.5 billion and our government can only afford $10 million? Surely this is some sort of joke! Most of the real aid they will provide will benefit them and the Australian economy in the long run because building contracts and the like will go to Australia private and public companies (just like the US has done in Iraq). So my message to Mr. Howard (Bonsai - little bush) is this: "Pull your finger out and at least do one thing worthwhile in your four years in office! Stop embarrassing yourself and the whole of Australia with you!"

Tim Millward

Hey Tim - did it ever occur to you that the $10 million might be a beginning? And that maybe more might be on the way?

What are the bureaucrats doing at this critical moment? Most likely waiting for a 'official assessment report'. No TV footage can graphically show the carnage and loss of life here. To read that the Australian Government offered 10M AUD makes us sick - would not even cover the fuel bill to rescue a few victims. Australia can and needs to 'immediately' get the forces and medico's off the ground into the heart of the disaster. At the moment Australians are being saved and treated by every other nation!!!!!

Disgraced Australian

Australia should immediately send troops into the heart of several foreign countries? Hmm, maybe we should do exactly what we did do - see what aid is required/requested, and provide it as quickly as humanly possible.

Tsunami actually does NOT mean tidal wave in Japanese - it means "Harbour" wave - they are caused by different things

Lee Wilson

Wow - elephant stamp for Lee. But really who GIVES a toss? I am as big a fan of pedantry as the next man, but surely there is a time and a place.

An opportunity for western governments to divert some funds to aid assistance projects rather than their billion dollar war obsessions.And some reckon it's the "Gods" again. Good try but not cigar. Leave the voodoo out of it.

Mother Nature strikes

Only Western governments MNS?

This latest tragic disaster should open all our eyes to the fact that the world seems to already have its "hands full" coping with seemingly ongoing natural disasters rather than creating such man made disasters as we have contributed to in Iraq.

wayne gregory FYFFE

All roads lead to Baghdad at the SMH

this just demonstrates that we "immortal" humans are and always will be at the mercy of nature, no matter how hard we try to dominate it and everything it represents. dont expect a genuinely compassionate response from the U.S. Government, as a "war on earthquakes" will not be as profitable as good ol' terrorism

Nick Loveday

Who are you quoting that claimed humans were "immortal"? And what does "genuinely compassionate" mean? Could it mean that anything the US does will be seen by people like Nick as a) inadequate and b) reeking of ulterior motives?

Hopefully the govt will send aid. Had this quake occurred only a few hundred k's south, we might have been the ones feeling the affects on our beeches. No matter what goes on in the world, mother nature always manages to serve us a reminder of her power!

simpleminds

Like simpleminded, I too am thankful that our soft timber furnishings are safe

It seems inappropriate to be arguing over Boxing Day sales while thousands of our neighbours have been killed. It is a sad and grim reminder of how vulnerable we are to the force of nature. A pity our army is busy fighting America's immoral war when they should be providing assistance to the affected areas.

Shane Arnold

Yep Shane - if we didn't have those 700 troops in Iraq, we would be able to have the disaster cleaned up in a jiffy. Halfwit.

This is a tragedy.
These divine winds show that the Gods are displeased with the world's state of affairs.
May we improve this year to advoid any future Kamikazes.

Tomoyuki Yamashita

I thought this might have been a Haiku, but then realised there are too many syllables. Now I just assume that it is a joke,

 
Tsunami Annexure

Lest I appear heartless by virtue of the fact that my only comment on the devasting tsunamis was a swipe at The Age, let me explain that I left more informed commentary up to those more talented.

I can't avoid another swipe however - especially at that article that criticised America for its "percentage of GDP" aid efforts. Check out the Amazon Red Cross donations page - so far 18822 people have donated a total of $945,138.95. With an admirable history of not waiting for the government to do everything, Americans have donated almost five times as much as France.

 
I shouldnt be surprised

Considering its The Age, it shouldn't have come as a surprise, but when I read the story headlined "Rich countries poor at lending a hand" this morning, I was surprised to read that Australia, who has promised $10 million, was "only bettered by Japan", who had promised $28.6 million.

It was therefore a surprise to read further and discover that the United States had offered $20 million.

The online version has obviously changed (I can't find a cached copy on Google), as it now reads:

"Canada has promised $A2.5 million, Germany and Spain $A1.77 million each and France $A177,000, while Japan has offered an emergency medical team to Sri Lanka and a damage assessment group to Indonesia. The United States has given $A19.6 million."

Earlier, it chides Britain, with:

"Britain has chipped in only $A1.7 million, barely topping the $1.5 million that Victoria pledged yesterday."

France, though providing barely a tenth of that, does not get a similar comparison.

Thursday, December 23, 2004
 
Ho ho ho

You know what I want for Christmas?

A giant robot.

That little puppy is being built by a 26 year old steelworker in Alaska. The red colour and the horns suggest he has been watching a fair amount of Manga as inspiration. I would query this though:

It's been a common theme in U.S. science fiction, too, although typically on a more human scale. Robert Heinlein's 1959 novel "Starship Troopers," and the 1997 film made from the book, featured soldiers with powerful exoskeletal armor that dramatically augmented their strength.

Correct me if I am wrong, but I don't remember any exoskeletal armor making an appearence in the film. Book yes, film no.

Sunday, December 19, 2004
 
Power of the blogosphere

Okay, we keep hearing about the wonderful power of this medium - rathergate etc, but now I want the blogs of the world to unite in a truly important investigative cause. Find these pictures:

SYDNEY'S male population will be devastated they weren't at trendy Darlinghurst bar Will and Toby's on Saturday night to witness a spectacle involving model Megan Gale.

Gale and two female friends were ensconced upon the bar's lounges just after midnight openly kissing one another, indifferent to gawking patrons.

The trio didn't mind who was watching their open-mouthed lip-locks and were unconcerned by at least two males in the bar taking pictures (one using a digital, the other a disposable camera) of their exhibition.

The hunt begins!


Thursday, December 16, 2004
 
Snicker snicker

Steve Jobs - CEO of Apple Computers, darling of the pretentious Mac crowd, and destroyer of historical buildings.

Jobs, who owns an expansive Mission Revival home designed by the late, internationally known architect George Washington Smith was battling with preservationists, who sought to keep the home intact. The building had fallen into severe disrepair over the years.

Jobs obviously isn't a huge fan of the style, having described the house as "one of the biggest abominations of a house I've ever seen."

Tuesday, December 14, 2004
 
St Phil

My God, does the ego (even slightly in jest) of Phillip Adams know no bounds? Apparently, he now thinks he is God:

St Joan describes hearing her "voices". They instructed her to cover her peasant's smock with a suit of armour and lead a war against the Poms. Apparently my words had a similarly electric effect on the god-botherers who, afterwards, got together and said: "Adams is right! We should organise ourselves! Get political!"

This revelation is in support of his claim that:

I've recently discovered that I'm personally responsible for the Family First Party.

The organised religious political movement in the US had nothing to do with this of course - it was all Adams. This exercise of democractic rights is bad of course - real bad:

The rest is history. No, not history. It's a threat to the future. For now, through Family First, we've a party of god-botherers far more significant and threatening than the Democratic Labor Party of olden and, in retrospect, comparatively golden days.

And Family First, and the associated Hillsong Church, are similar to Muslim terrorists:

Now, after decades of suggestions by televangelists, who clog free-to-air television in the early hours, conning the most gullible and vulnerable into sending large donations, we are now primed for Pentecostalism. It's part of the worldwide turbo-charging of traditional faiths, leading to fundamentalist frenzies in Judaism, Hinduism and, of course, Islam.

So Benny Hinn and his like have been ruining late night TV for years, but only now have finally reached a point to 'turbo charge' their congregations?

Don't get me wrong, much of the fundamentalist christian orthodoxy is anathema to my own secular libertarian views - but I at least respect their right to agitate for them in a democractic process. For years we have had the left's particular religions (I am looking at you Bob Brown) shoved down our throats (err, I am not looking at you that way however), so it is the height of hypocracy to claim that other faiths should be completely ignored or considered a dire threat.


Monday, December 13, 2004
 
Ban PacMan!

Here's a good reason why people who have no idea about a subject shouldn't write about it. The Age has jumped on the "violent video game" bandwagon - specifically the game Manhunt. The caption to the screenshots (thats an image from the game, for any Age journalists reading this)provided is "Scenes from the new Playstation 2 game Manhunt."

New? New? Manhunt was released in November 2003. To not much fanfare I may add. Then people start banning it, and blaming it when psychos murder people and all of a sudden you get news reports like this:

Since being linked with the murder of Stefan Pakeerah, Rockstar's Manhunt is reportedly selling out in stores across the UK.

Back to the Age:

These, and at least 12 other murders since 1997, have been linked to an obsession with violent video games.

Linked by the media. The Age trots out the usual studies which blame video games for violent behaviour:

Many studies have shown that people who play violent games regularly are more likely to show high levels of aggression. For instance, in 2000, Craig Anderson of Iowa State University in Ames and his colleague Karen Dill found that people who played violent games were more likely to admit to aggressive behaviour, including assaults or robberies.

Thankfully, at least one psychologist is quoted making the obvious point:

But he warns it might not be a simple case of cause and effect: aggressive kids might be most attracted to violent games.

Aggresive kids are also more likely to have mullets, and names where extra vowels have been either been added or replaced by 'y's, but that doesnt prove that either of those things cause violent behaviour (though I would have some sympathy for them if it did..) But back to the "studies":

Experimental studies have also hinted at a possible link. In one, Anderson and Dill asked a group of students to play a violent game, Wolfenstein 3D, while another group played the non-violent Myst. Those who played the violent game were faster to react to aggressive words subsequently flashed on screen and were rated more aggressive in a game where the object was to blast an opponent with a harmless noise.

The people who were forced to play Myst were slower to react because they were asleep - having been bored out of their skulls by such a dull puzzle game. As for Wolfenstein - that game teaches you to kill Nazis, zombies, and Nazi Zombies. I would have thought that raising a generation that can sucessfully take on hordes of undead fascist stormtroopers could only be a good thing.

I also find it interesting that no mention is made of any benefits that result from playing computer games. I am not just referring to a deeper understanding of the different bullet velocities of the most common assault rifles current being used, but also problem solving, spacial awareness and super opposable thumbs.

 
NERF Herders

Want more proof that Crichton's new book will be reviewed along ideological grounds? How about the Wall Street Journal's take on it?

Michael Crichton delivers a lightning-paced technopolitical thriller that turns on a controversial notion: All that talk we've been hearing about global warming -- you know, polar ice caps melting, weather systems sent into calamitous confusion, beach weather lingering well into January -- might be at best misguided, at worst dead wrong. Think "The Da Vinci Code" with real facts, violent storms and a different kind of faith altogether.

A little more enthusiastic than the Slate review. The reviewer makes a similar point about Crichton's speeches (as linked to previously):

"State of Fear" is, in a sense, the novelization of a speech that Mr. Crichton delivered in September 2003 at San Francisco's Commonwealth Club. He argued there that environmentalism is essentially a religion, a belief-system based on faith, not fact. To make this point, the novel weaves real scientific data and all too real political machinations into the twists and turns of its gripping story.

It does appear that the novel might get a bit preachy however:

"All together, the ban has caused more than 50 million needless deaths," Kenner says. "Banning DDT killed more people than Hitler, Ted. And the environmental movement pushed hard for it."

So Bush = Hitler *and* Banning DDT = Hitler? Wow, he really is the man for all seasons. But Crichton isn't apparently on top of all his facts:

Kenner tells Morton's friend: "Environmental groups in the U.S. generate half a billion dollars a year." The actual amount for just the 12 largest environmental lobby groups in the U.S. in 2003 was $1.95 billion. That buys a lot of influence in the Washington. One way to mitigate its effect is to read "State of Fear" -- every bit as informative as it is entertaining. And it is very entertaining.

I like having my preconceptions confirmed as much as the next person - maybe I will give the book a sniff when it comes to paperback.

 
De-bugging

As an aside - if any of the links on here take you to a site requiring registration (I am looking at *you* NY Times), then try www.bugmenot.com

Speaking of NY Times, the username "timesbias" and password "liberal" work, and amuse me.

 
More Lowe down

Hmm - curiouser and curiouser. It seems that Professor Lowe, the new head of the ACF, has an interesting background.

Former head of the School of Science at Griffith University, and officer of the Order of Australia (via the Australian)

And supporter of raving left wing moonbat causes: (via crikey)

From the Brisbane Social Forum:

Professor Ian Lowe spoke of the power of global capitalism, especially its representatives in bodies such as the IMF and World Bank. There could be no real democracy at the level of the nation state unless there was global democracy.

That forum was organised by the International Socialist Organisation (a.k.a Commies). Other speakers included *gasp* Julian Burnside QC and Senator Nettle.

There is also Professor Lowe's endorsement of the march on the themes of:

“End the lies, Howard out”, and “Rally for truth”

They were also attempting to raise money for the skywriting of "Not Happy John" that went amusingly pear shaped when finally attempted. He is in fine company however - look who else endorsed it:

Just Australia, ALP Senator Claire Moore, National Union of Students president Jodie Jansen, the Wilderness Society, Friends of the Earth, Murri community activist Sam Watson, Rally for Peace, the Iraq Solidarity Committee, the Qld Anti-Bases Group, the Qld Greens, the Socialist Alliance, the Australian Democrats, the Refugee Action Collective, Socialist Alternative, Resistance, University of Queensland student union president Margot Balch and the Committees in Solidarity with Latin America and the Caribbean.

I will be in solidarity with the Caribbean if they get their cricket act into some semblance of order.

You would think the Coalition, flush with a resounding electoral victory, would be quite happy to ignore an organisation headed by someone so blatantly opposed to them. Thats bad news for the ACF (and for the environment some would say, but that is arguable).

 
Blue State of Fear

Speaking, as I was earlier, of Michael Crichton's new book - Slate has a review up. Surprise surprise, they didn't like it:

State of Fear is a 600-page tirade about global warming. Crichton thinks environmentalists have become overheated about the threat and have substituted demagoguery for hard science. So he unleashes a cabal of ruthless greens, who build weather machines to punish their SUV-drivin', carbon-dioxide-emittin' neighbors with a plague of hurricanes and tsunamis. For Crichton's fans, this has got to be heartbreaking: The boy-novelist who engineered a tyrannosaurus in Jurassic Park and mysterious pathogens from outer space in The Andromeda Strain has become a political pamphleteer, a right-wing noodge.

Heart breaking for you maybe. The reviewer pretty much lays it out though - he likes Crichton as long as he is writing non-political stuff (i.e. Jurassic Park), but doesn't like any right wing noodge stuff:

Chricton's books have suffered as his right-leaning politics have come to the fore. Titles like Rising Sun, Disclosure, and Airframe (about the mendacity of the electronic media) were naked political screeds designed to land him on the op-ed page.

Get it? Alien diseases, dinosaurs good - Unfair Japanese trade practices, female sexual harassment/blackmail bad.

The reviewer even likes Crichton's "erudite polish" and use of real world facts in a fiction setting - provided the facts agree with the reviewer's prejudices. Otherwise:

"when Crichton begins to proselytize, State of Fear-style, the journal citations begin to seem indistinguishable from those contained in the latest study from the Brookings Institution or the American Enterprise Institute. Instead of being charmed by the nerdy footnotes, you feel suspicious of them—they're propaganda."

Again, I have to admit that at least the guy is honest:

This isn't to say that Crichton doesn't believe his right-leaning, contrarian poses. It's his belief in these poses that's the problem. Crichton's early novels were escapist fantasies that happened to be instructive. His political books are hectoring screeds that incidentally turn out to be thrillers.

Before rounding it out with some nice condescension towards someone who is so obviously deluded to believe that man made global warming is a myth:

A woman named Sarah, fleeing from a man-made lightning storm—don't ask—crawls smack-dab into the middle of a nest of … scorpions. Why scorpions? I have no clue, but I loved it. It's like something a grade-schooler would have thought up—it has childlike, "top this" passion.

Ignoring of course, that by the time Crichton was 30, he had:

"gradated from Harvard, taught at Cambridge University, climbed the Great Pyramid, earned a medical degree, married and divorced, been a postdoctoral fellow at the Salk Institute, published two bestselling novels, and now made a movie. "

Not a bad effort.

I haven't read the book, so I can't comment on its quality. However, me being a right wing noodge and claiming it is great because I agree with its premise is as stupid as this reviewer reading the book with his mind already made up about all of Crichton's "political" books. It is obvious that it what happened. Damn left wing noodge

Please write a pro-globalisation/free trade book next Mike!

Sunday, December 12, 2004
 
Random cool stuff

Water that isn't wet. Cool.

 
A ray of sunshine

Sanity appears to be breaking out all over the place:

From July 1, the Government will take control of the Senate, and Senator Minchin's comments suggest it will adopt a robust approach to balance the budget.

He cited a rise in the cost of essential medicines, through the Pharmaceutial Benefits Scheme, and toughening up eligibility for the disability support pension, as two obvious areas of reform. A few other measures have been rejected by the Senate, such as scrapping the Student Financial Supplement Scheme.

Most substantive savings, however, will have to be found from current spending programs in the big departments of Health, Education, Family and Community Services and Defence.
"The domestic economy is still running strongly. There is certainly no call for additional fiscal stimulation. We do want to continue to try to contain the size of government," Senator Minchin said.


Senator Minchin should have this printed on t-shirts, and handed out to every Coalition member, including his boss.

 
Meanwhile

In what alcoholics refer to as a "moment of lucidity", Paul Sheehan is actually talking some sense in today's SMH, regarding the Greens:

But Garrett didn't join the Greens for the same reason most of the electorate didn't vote for them on October 9. Because the Greens are not green.

The environment is merely a flag of convenience for a large faction of the party, a mother-earth issue onto which they have parasited their real agenda. That's why Brown and several hectorers on the Green Senate tickets spent so much time talking about everything but the environment during the election campaign. They couldn't help themselves. They fought the election on the Iraq war. Why? Because while many Greens are dedicated environmentalists, the party is basically a branding exercise, a new package around an old product that most political consumers will never buy.

Which is why it was lunacy for Latham to drag Labor that way. Sure, he was just trying for the environmental aspects, but once you buy into the Green's way, you get tainted with the rest of the steaming Trotsky package.

If Garett can be used to give Labor some environmental credibility, without selling out their core constituency (e.g. the forests package), then Latham's achievement in recruiting Garett may actually have been worthwhile. However, if all they offer is Green-lite, then the 'progressive' vote will stick with the hardcore Greens, and the 'not moonbat crazy' vote will be put off by the association with the watermelons. There is much more fun in store for Labor knockers...



 
The Lowe down

Ian Lowe, newly crowned president of the Australian Conservation Foundation, is keeping things nice and subdued, and is avoiding falling into hyperbole:

The evidence is clear. If civilisation is to survive, the next century will have to be a time of transformation, not just in technological capacity but also in our approach to the natural world, and to each other...

First, we must recognise the injustice done by our forebears to the indigenous people of Australia. Their land was acquired by robbery with violence, their lifestyles and cultures systematically destroyed, and their living conditions today shame us as a civilised nation. We cannot restore what we have taken, but we must acknowledge our debt.

Quite what that has to do with the environment, or the survival of civilisation, is beyond me.

Fifty years ago, Australia was one of the world's most equal societies. The legal framework of the basic wage set a minimum standard, while the highest salaries were only five to 10 times that minimum.

Here we go - the old "gap between rich and poor" 3 card trick. High profile executives are earning squillions more than lower paid workers, therefore our society is now worse off than before. What this ignore, deliberately, is that lower paid workers are now paid demonstrably more than their forebears, and have a far superior standard of living. Question - would you rather be a factory worker in 2004 or 1954?

Most people used public transport to get around, while the health system made provision on the basis of need.

Thats because they couldn't afford cars! High tariffs and poor productivity meant that lower paid people living in this supposed golden time struggled to buys things we consider almost necessities nowadays.

Today, however, we are one of the most unequal of all the industrialised nations. Many households have great difficulty affording the basic needs of food, power and clothing.

Got any proof of that Professor? I don't deny that poverty exists, but it is a gross exaggeration to suggest that 'many' households have 'great' difficulty paying for utilities. Some certainly do, and it is the sucess of our 'unequal' society that pays for welfare to assist them.

He finally gets around to the environment:

Perhaps the most serious environmental problem is global warming. The Earth has warmed about 0.6 degrees in the past hundred years. Changes associated with the warming include the shrinking of glaciers, the thinning of polar ice, rising sea levels, changing rainfall patterns and more frequent extreme events such as droughts and severe storms.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says the most optimistic view is that the temperature this century will increase by a further 1.4 degrees. That assumes we will rapidly phase out fossil fuels and hopes scientific uncertainties will work in our favour. More realistic assumptions about fuel use lead to estimated temperature increases between two and 4.5 degrees, while the extreme inaction advocated by some could cause increases as large as six degrees.

And they are all based on wild speculation, dodgy science, and plain old bullshit. It ties in rather nicely with a new book (highlighted by a much saner Professor) by Micheal Crichton - State of Fear:

Basically, it's about a young lawyer working for an environmental philantropist. Things get rough when the lawyer discovers that his client had discovered some unscrupulous things about the nature of one of his beloved environment charities. Once our hero discovers that the charity is a front for the eco-terrorism group ELF, his life is in jeopardy.

Apparently he goes on a bit too much with his "message", but having read some of his speeches, it could be fun to see the global warming sacred cow knocked around a bit by a talented writer, rather than endorsed by an ideologically blinded Professor.


Friday, December 10, 2004
 
Mulan Rude

The Government strikes a deal with a remote Aboriginal community to provide $172,260 in funding for new petrol bowsers, in return for an agreement that children's faces will be washed twice a day and the rubbish taken out. A new era of cooperation, or a return to the bad old days of colonial paternalism? Depends you ask really:

The Age: Rules unfair, say proud Mulan people

"This is unfair. We are a proud people," she said. "Everyone is well looked after."
Two of the community's elders, Bessie and Bill Doonsday, sat beside her and nodded.
"Look around," Ms Stundi continued, "this is a clean place, a proud place".
In Mulan, she said, kids didn't sniff petrol like they did in Balgo, 44 kilometres east.


Herald-Sun: Desert town hails hygiene deal

ABORIGINAL parents at a tiny outback settlement yesterday said they would gladly wash their children's faces twice a day under a deal with the Federal Government.
"It's not blackmail -- it's our idea," said elder Rebecca Johns.

The Australian: We are just saving our kids

THE Aboriginal parents who struck a deal promising to force their kids to wash in return for community petrol bowsers yesterday delivered a powerful message to political opponents - the plan was literally saving their kids' lives.

How many 'elders' can a community of 160 people have? Did they all get interviewed by media outlets?

Reactions were mixed. Latham at least managed to keep his head:

Mutual responsibility is a left-of-centre agenda," Mr Latham said.
"We believe in the genuine two-way street where governments have got to meet their responsibility to provide the services, and individuals and communities have got to meet their responsibility to make good use of those services."


Whereas Senator Carr goes off the deep end:

Senator Carr said the commonwealth was "washing its hands" of its responsibility, describing the shared responsibility agreements as a potential breach of the law and a human rights abuse.

The editorial of the Australian has this response:

IF Kim Carr really wants to help indigenous Australians living in remote impoverished communities he will shut up until he has a constructive contribution to make to the debate on the Howard Government's mutual obligation plan.

Mick Dodson is also critical of the plan:

"What are the obligations from government, what are they doing? All the obligation seems to be on the community. There's nothing really mutual about this -- I wonder if it is a free informed choice by the people," he said.

It is interesting to note that Mr Dodson does not consider the Government handing over $172,260 to be doing anything.

The chairwoman of the new National Indigenous Council is more reasonable:

"I don't view anything which is going to benefit Aboriginal people -- which Aboriginal people themselves put up -- as being paternalistic, because it's not being imposed (on) Aboriginal people," she said.
"Rather, it's Aboriginal people saying this is what they want to do as a shared responsibility."


Hear hear. Paul Kelly has an excellent article on the issue:

But the core conclusions seem irresistible. Pearson asserts that "passive welfare" has become the main component of the indigenous economy; that passive welfare leds inexorably to social and cultural breakdown; and that it is false to believe a political settlement is a precondition to social and economic recovery.

Anybody who thinks this is just Howard playing wedge politics misses the entire story. The point is that the policies of the progressive Left have collapsed -- and the failure of these policies in relation to Australia's most underprivileged minority is pivotal in its own right and prophetic for the course of politics.

And Andrew Bolts chimes in with his usual approach:

SEE yesterday's headlines, with the Howard Government bribing parents at an Aboriginal settlement in Western Australia with cheap petrol bowsers to make them do what any good parent should do without even being asked -- like wash their children's faces and keep their homes clean.
Where are the black leaders who insist on clean children and tidy homes as a matter of pride, not a bargaining chip for a handout?


It is also interesting to note that Mulan has alcohol bans in place. Presumably, these were also a community initiative. If the Government supported them, would they automatically become paternalistic and racist bans?

The Greens complain predictably:

He said the plan - which has received support from the West Australian Government - set expectations that inducements might be offered for other behavioural changes wanted in the future.

Maybe Greens members aren't as stupid as they appear. Of course inducements are going to offered in return for behavioural changes - thats what Governments do, either through inducements (e.g. baby bonus) or penalties (taxes). This program is just an extension of the philosophy behind work for the dole programs. Unfortunately for the Greens (and Labor if they fight it too hard) that program has broad community support. As will this one I imagine, especially if enough of the locals publicly endorse it.

The Age give an unfortunately long hearing to Aboriginal 'activist' Micheal Mansell:

Mr Mansell said the Government's mutual obligations doctrine in itself might not be unlawful, but each time it was given effect in a discriminatory way - as it had been for the Mulan community - it was unlawful and unenforceable.

"As a person who believes in advancing human rights and the cause of my people I am concerned we seem to be going backwards," he said.

Memo to Michael - Aboriginal people can't go backwards. The state of Aboriginal health, education and employment in Australia is an utter tragedy. Cleary, the current programs are not working. Hopefully, this new approach is at least a step in the right direction.

The Age of course hates the plan, as it is a Howard initiative:

Hopes for a dramatic change in black-white relations have been dashed by a controversial deal linking funding for an indigenous community with behavioural change.

With such a fundamental error in the first sentence, you know this article is going places. These types of agreements are in of themselves a "dramatic change in black-white relations". Whether you agree with them or not is a seperate issue, but you cannot deny their significance.

Quoting Patrick Dodson (referred to as "the father of reconcilliation" when he is saying things the Age agrees with):

He said it was an indication of the Mulan community's desperation that it was prepared to forgo civil liberties to get essential services. Under the deal, the West Australian Government will provide regular testing for the eye disease trachoma, skin infections and worm infestations.

What civil liberties are being given up here exactly? Nowhere has it been said how the agreement will be monitored or enforced (other than health checks), though Vanstone has indicated that a community that failed to meet the requirements would be unlikely to be offered another deal.

Thankfully, the indications are that Mulan was already on the right track, with trachoma ( a disease almost unheard of in the developed world) infections falling significantly over the last twelve months.


Thursday, December 09, 2004
 
Nice one

This has been doing the round for a couple of days - but nonetheless - go here to to see the video of a prank recently played on Harvard students by the arch rivals, Yale.

By pretending to be the Harvard Pep Squad, they convinced fans to hold up pieces of card they thought would be spelling "Go Harvard". Instead it read "We Suck".

Gold.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004
 
Oops

Apparently the workers who marched in support of jailed union thug Craig Johnston did so in clothing made by non-union members:

Topline Embroidery and Logos director Mark Shaw yesterday confirmed that his company had been contracted by the Free Craig Johnston movement to produce T-shirts and polo tops and that his staff were not union members.

The Trades Hall Council president doesn't think its like "a death row pardon, two minutes too late..":

"I don't think it's ironic," she said. "Anyone who is having clothing made for union causes should make sure they are made in union shops and I will be telling those responsible that they should check their sources."

You don't think its possible that the company got the work because it was able to tender at a lower price because they aren't held to ransom by a union do you...?


 
Happy days are here again

Woo-hoo. One of Australia's (and the world's) most gifted writers finally has much of his work online - Clive James has a website!

Ever wonder if you are really on the right side when it comes to arguing the causes of terrorism? Go with James I say. His piece written just after the Bali massacre is eloquent and cutting.

I don't know if his review of Orwell is on there as well, but if so, find it and read it.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004
 
Bring back Crean!

Gun. Fish. Barrel.

Howard now holds a 35% lead over Latham as preferred Prime Minister, and Labor's primary vote has fallen to 33%, lower that when Crean was axed.

Thats okay though, Phil Adams has the solution - Kevin Rudd:

Why Rudd? No, it's not a case of being king in the land of the blind -- or being the last man standing. Still standing are Wayne Swan and Stephen Smith, and it hardly matters which of that double act is on offer. Both are apparatchiks, machine men, pollster pollies. Hell will freeze over before either comes up with an interesting idea. The sort of political plodders who pore over demographic data, they're entirely identified with failed campaigns. But Rudd is different.

File those descriptions away - if either Swan or Smith are leading Labor into the next election, you will hear Adams sing their praises from the rooftops, until they lose. Don't believe me? Here is Adams pre-election:

And what of PM Latham? Without a doubt, he’ll combine the courage of Curtin with the decency of Chifley, the wit of Whitlam, the irreverence of Keating and the gravitas of Menzies, not to mention the dance moves of Fred Astaire and the table manners of Mike Tyson.

and post:

"He's one of those people who, it seems, doesn't like being grateful to those who've helped him over life's hurdles. Again and again, he cuts them off, refusing to be under any obligation. " ... "While holding himself in the highest regard, Latham is suspicious and dismissive of others" ... "Nonetheless, it's desirable to keep the worst excesses under control. I've never believed that Latham can control his. Or that anyone else can"

We can keep going if you like. In relation to Beazley, Andrew Bolt does the honours:

His Australian column on election day was typical. Beazley had "a heart the size of Phar Lap's", and might be "too big-hearted for the political profession".

He was a man of "intelligence" and "kindness", and likely to make "a great prime minister". True, he'd "soft-pedalled on too many issues" dear to the Left, but he'd reassured Adams over lunch that on, say, mandatory sentencing: "Don't worry. When I'm prime minister I'll fix it".
I found it odd that Adams could endorse a seeming trick -- Beazley allegedly promising Adams one thing but voters another.


But worse was how differently Adams wrote about Beazley just seven days later, with the election lost and no voters left to con.

NOW Adams revealed Beazley wasn't big-hearted at all. He was instead so "pusillanimous and insincere" that he tried to sneak "into power via the White Australia Policy Mark II". He'd led Labor to such a "dishonourable loss" that Adams said he "was glad to see him going" and had been "close to resigning from the party" in disgust.

He is still tucking into Beazley in today's column:

"Yet Beazley, to borrow from a memorable satire by John Clarke, insisted on another "go on the bike". And when he fell off, young Kevin was squashed beneath his bulk. "

"It wasn't the Bomber's family connections with Moral Rearmament that posed a problem -- more that Beazley wasn't sufficiently moral when it came to ethical issues such as refugees."

I love this logic - Beazley lost the election because his policies were too similar to the party who did win the election. What he (and later Latham) should have done, is propose policies radically different to those endorsed by the majority of Australians. Great thinking Phil.

But back to the boy wizard, Kevin Rudd. His main assets appear to be *shock*, that he is most like a Liberal candidate:

But hang on a minute. We might be looking at useful ingredients in electoral terms. Rudd can't be condemned as anti-American and, in a time of conservative triumphalism, particularly when religious reactionaries are on the warpath, being a High Anglican is no impediment.

Yeah, those religious crusades led by the Family First party are really starting to bug me. Oh wait, there haven't been any. As for Rudd, doesn't Phil think that Labor should differentiate themselves from the Coalition, not elect as leader the person who most resembles a Coalition member?

I am undecided on my thoughts of Rudd. He is obviously intelligent (speaking Chinese is no mean feat), is not knee-jerk anti-American, and is very good at Quidditch. Acting against him has been the need to spout the Labor line on Iraq. Given free rein to craft his own policy, who knows what he actually feels. One thing is for certain, he would not have pulled the Latham "troops home by Christmas" cock-up.

Before I break out in a cold sweat by discovering that I agree with Adams, it is comforting to know that he is merely parotting the much more sensible Greg Sheridan from last week:

Rudd, by contrast, is a mainstream person with good people skills, emotionally stable, who has completely mastered complex policy and translated it effectively in the media. His ability to generate newspaper headlines critical of the Government's Asian diplomacy this week, when we began negotiations for a free trade agreement with ASEAN, was a typical example ofhis political effectiveness. He achieves these results not through stunts and gimmicks, "triangulation" and "new politics", but by mastering an area, briefing journalists effectively, speaking cleverly in parliament, working indefatigably.

It will be interesting to see which way Labor stumbles.


Sunday, December 05, 2004
 
The spice...

Somebody has been reading a bit too much Dune I think. I would have gone for the personal shields myself...

Friday, December 03, 2004
 
Anti-irony day

Bwhahahahahaha. The UN wants us to celebrate anti-corruption day.

Bwhhahahahahaha.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004
 
Dick missing

It appears this blog caper was all to much for Richard Neville - his "blog" hasn't been updated since the first hilarious post. Meanwhile, the love continues in the comments section:

Thankfully your bend over and cop it from the Islamofascists is a minority view held by the navel gazing latte set with more dollars than sense.Wake up alright you culpable fool.

Had a look at your blog. Sorry, Dick old son, your commentary is inane, banal and grossly at variance with the reality any rational person (of whatever persuasion) can fact-check in the blogosphere.
Those are its good points.


OK, a list of Richards' successful attempts at futurism was a big call I know. How about just one?Anyone? Someone?
[cue crickets chirping]
Has he ever been right about anything or is he just a whinger?


Not to mention the moonbattery:

If I was religious I'd pray that these Red-state ass-holes would go to Hell (If there IS a hell. But as we progressives know there IS no hell.. or heaven... there is only you and me fighting against the fashists in power right now). Keep fighting the good fight Dick. Courage...

Wondering what a fashist was? So was PB apparently:

At least most of us can spell. What is a higeher being, or for that matter a fashist? I'll have a go at the last one- someone who designs stylish uniforms for nazis is my guess.

But the mascot of the tinfoil brigade remains our old friend Shane Muir:

So, consequently, I am now driving around Shepparton with Common Law License Plates on my car.
Big Deal!, you say. Well, yes, it is a big deal. From small things big things grow.

What the hell is he talking about?

In Australia, our Constitution says "A law in excess of the authority conferred by the Constitution... is no law"

Err, no it doesn't dude. And i will bet you one million Common Law Dollars that it doesn't.

We have 3 million laws for 20 million people. And guess what? Most of them are illegal because they separate you and I from our Common Law Rights. They are not really laws anyway.. they are called statutes.. and they are bullshit.. totally bogus dude!

Common Law Rights? How about Complete Bullshit?

Perhaps this page could become the start of the new Peoples Movement that changes the world.. who knows? I have faith.. do you?

I no longer have faith in our mental health programs, thats for sure.

I have never met Richard, by the way, and I don't know what his arse smells like.

Good to know.

But I do know that Martin Bryant is innocent, we have not set foot on the moon, and LOVE IS THE ANSWER.

Love and guns one assumes, if he is sticking up for a mass killer like Bryant. And finally - I didn't know who Shepparton's mayor was, but all of a sudden I feel very sorry for her:

PS3 If Anne McCamish is reading this (Shepparton’s Mayor)…did you get my email?

I am not going to repeat the anti-semetic trash that 'Chris Mac' has posted (assuming it wasn't satire - with moonbats as nutty as they are today, its hard to tell sometimes), but I certainly do hope that Dicky is happy with the kind of fellow travellers his anti-US bile attracts. Commies and neo-Nazis working together at last. Should make them easier to lock up at least...

 
fricken laser beams

Tim Blair has pointed out a bit of Greenpeace scaremongering concerning the Lucas Heights nuclear facility.

"Greenpeace says a little known company called Silex is using the facility to develop a process to enrich uranium with the aid of lasers."

Ignoring the inherent coolness of Australia using laser beams to enrich uranium, how does one become classified as a "little known" company?

By having a website?

By being listed on the Australian Stock Exchange?

You can read Silex's response to the Greenpeace claims here. I like this one in response to claims that their technology will aid proliferation of nuclear weapons:

"Laser technology is far more difficult and techincally challenging to implement, but if sucessful, offers superior economics.

Proliferators are not interested in economics."



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