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Attila the Pun
Monday, August 29, 2005
 
tee-hee

With the current craze for hybrid cars in the US, it is good to see that Dodge are doing the environmentally responsible thing and introducing a hybrid version of their new Charger.

Check out the advert for it.

As autoblog point out, the Prius gang aren't amused.

I know people will create forums about just about anything - but a Prius? The heading says the forum is "The Only Online Community for Toyota Prius Owners and Enthusiasts"

Wow, I would have thought that Prius enthusiasts would require at least 3 online communities - one for each of them.

Sunday, August 28, 2005
 
Oh, those bananas

Joseph Wakim in today's Age:

After the Muslim summit, Islamic schools were put on notice that they would be audited to ensure that their students understand Australian history, culture and values or forfeit their government funding.

Yet there has not been one shred of evidence to suggest any un-Australian activities are taking place behind these school walls or any link between the schools' curriculum and London-style home-grown terrorists.

I don't know if it counts as a "shred", but how about this from the Age on July 31?

The teacher could not believe what he overheard. The "visiting" imam was launching into a tirade against the Jews and Americans that bordered on the ludicrous.

But then came the clincher, he recalled. "The imam told the students that the Jews were putting poison in the bananas and they should not eat them."

True, thats more anti-semetic than un-Australian, but its certainly a start. Of course the Age gave the school a sympathetic showing - i.e. the teacher was shocked that the imam could say such a thing. The imam wasn't named, but would it be a fair guess that if we looked at any of his writings, his anti-Jew sentiments would be pretty clear? Maybe not the "poisoning the fruit bowl angle", but the general gist.

It is not just visiting imam that may cause people concern at the Werribee school:

The treatment of female staff and students has become an issue over recent years, with attempts to pay female teachers less, prevent them from sharing offices with male teachers and the imposition of strict dress codes.

Treating women as second class citizens used to be Australian behaviour, but thankfully may now be described as un-Australian I think.

And from the same article, regarding another (unamed) school:

The teacher was alarmed by what she discovered in the school library. An image of Christ in a book on comparative religion had been defaced.

When she asked students to explain, they told her that another teacher, a devout Muslim, had asked them to demonstrate that Islam was the one true faith by striking the picture with sharpened pencils.

"They told me they had been made to line up and one by one stab the picture," the teacher told The Sunday Age. "As far as I know, the book is still in the library."

If it had have been in Art class, they could have submitted the picture to the NGV and probably received rave reviews of course.

In one case a non-Muslim member of staff was told to remove a crucifix from the dashboard of a car parked in view of the students and a female Hindu teacher was ordered to remove marriage jewellery.

The teacher, who was dismissed from the school because she was "over qualified", is now employed at a Christian faith-based school.

She says she has no regrets about leaving. "The atmosphere at the school was unhealthy," she said. "When you asked children to write about their favourite hero, they nearly always wrote about Osama bin Laden."

Nothing to see here, move along.

Thursday, August 25, 2005
 
Exit, stage right even

Remember the "non-partisan" group GetUp? Even though they claimed one of their reasons for existing was to combat Howard's control of the Senate, and their campaigns so far have been in relation to David Hicks and Voluntary Student Unionism, they continued to claim they were non-partisan.

Proof of this supposedly came from having John Hewson on the board. Yeah, that lasted about a month:

The former leader of the federal Liberal Party, John Hewson, has left the board of the new web-based political campaign organisation, GetUp! less than a month after its launch.

GetUp claimed he left because he was too busy:

GetUp! campaigner Lachlan Harris said Dr Hewson had been "really supportive in helping us get off the ground".

"He just doesn't have the time to make the commitment and so he's had to withdraw," he said.

Anybody believe that? Hewson didn't return SMH's calls, and his spokeswoman would only confirm that he had left.

The search is now on to find someone who is not aligned with either the Labor Party or the Greens to gain wider community appeal.

Good luck with that people. The media is so desperate to talk to any high profile person willing to attack Howard that there aren't many "non-aligned" types available. Instead, may I suggest Merlin (provided you dont have to be an Australian citizen of course)? Or maybe Julian Burnside SC - god knows he doesn't get nearly enough publicity currently.

This story brought me back to GetUp's website, where you can view their latest proposed advert. It is attacking VSU, following the standard "services and sports clubs will disappear" plan of attack.

Amusingly, the still photos they use in the ad are a) rugby b) cafe c) health services d) gym and e) cricket. For some reason they don't seem to include the other activities that your student fees pay for - like political advertising, subsidising "protest buses", womens rooms etc. Show me pictures of some arts students using my uni fees to photocopy pamphlets than delay my results by trashing the Adminstration building and I will sign up in a jiffy!

 
Strange but true

The SMH puts this story in their "unusual tales" section, with a link from their main page headed "Strange but true". It should be headlined outrageous intimidation:

London: A family that breeds guinea pigs for medical research is to abandon its farm in a final attempt to get back the remains of a relative whose body was dug up by animal rights extremists.

David, John and Chris Hall said that Darley Oaks farm in Staffordshire in the English Midlands would close by the end of the year. Their family, friends and business associates have been subjected to a six-year campaign of intimidation that culminated in activists digging up and stealing the remains of Chris Hall's 82-year-old mother-in-law, Gladys Hammond, from St Peter's churchyard in nearby Yoxall last October.

Rather than portraying this as some sort of "Wacky foreigners" story, London's Daily Telegraph expresses a much more suitable sentiment (registration required):

The new-style animal rights nutter is as English as cream teas, and he or she is willing to engage in every sort of intimidation, issuing death threats, carrying out fire-bomb attacks, and basically indulging in a species of barbarity different only in degree from the "foreign" terrorists whose actions they find so incomprehensible.

Barbarity is a key word for these nutters: they think it is barbaric to sacrifice the life of small animals for the benefit of scientific research, but think it's OK to dig up the corpse of 82-year-old Gladys Hammond, as they did last October and then boast about where the parts of her body are hidden.

Animal rights "activists" who firebomb property in the name of their beliefs are just as reprehensible as anti-abortion advocates fire bombing clinics and should be treated as such.

Thursday, August 18, 2005
 
iGloating

It appears that I am not the only one who thinks that Apple gets an armchair ride from the techology press. Charles Wright (who has the Razor blog at the SMH) had this to say:

Here and in the Bleeding Edge column, your humble correspondent has for years been attempting to expose Apple's considerable failings in the area of quality control and product support. Apple, being possibly the world's most arrogant computer company, has largely ignored us.

It's always seemed to us one of those towering ironies that the company which has the world's most loyal customers - so fanatically loyal that they consistently rate it No. 1 for customer service - should treat them so badly.

There are a couple of reasons for this: (a) many Apple users believe that anything but blind enthusiasm might harm the company's prospects or their own reputation as superior technology beings, and are reluctant to complain and (b) many of the journalists who write about Macs seem to feel that they're honourary members of Apple's PR department, rather than working journalists presenting the news without fear or favour.

He links to an article by a US journalist attacking Apple's poor service. He then says this:

We doubt that this is going to cause a sudden interest by Mac writers in questioning the myth of perfection behind which Apple has been allowed to shelter for too long, but who knows, it might inspire Apple users to demand that the journalists reporting on the company do a better job.

On the other hand, we weren't all that surprised to find in the comments beneath Dan Gilmor's article the following accusation:

"I wonder how many years it will take until it is discovered that there’s “payola” in the blog world. 'Prominent' bloggers suddenly decide to go against a company because the competitor starts paying them ... and all of a sudden there’s 'more bad press for Apple'.

Some people are beyond help.

Amusingly, he gets pretty much the same treatment from the iMob in his own comments section:

I can't believe this.... I'm finally absorbing all these extraordinary comments and then I note that this whole episode is sponsored by IBM ....lets assassinate Apple! or at least allow the debate to solicate fear and concern.....wow the opposition must be truly concerned about Apples growing market share!

What a lame bunch.
Led from the bottom by the chap who upgraded his operating system without checking to see if his programs were compatable with it --
Through the chap who couldn't be bothered reading the manual and then gets hacked off when the problem is he didn't read the manual --
Right on up to incredibly complex and obviously unique stories of one-off errors.
What is the matter with you people?
Never had a car break down? A washing machine glitch? A watch stop?
Computers are bits of technology. They break. This is universal. Bits of Apple techology are no different in that regard. But do try to look at the whole picture.
Apple is a computer company so widely copied and followed that many things we think of as "standard" wouldn't exist without them. Things like the Windows operating system, the idea of plug & play, the idea that devices should just work.
Apple's constantly pushing boundaries. And yet no company has ever been more unjustly criticised for being simply _not perfect_.
Is there real news in Razor, somewhere?


how strange all the people with a beef with apple have bad things to say.... still if apple do give bad service which in 5 years and many varied devices ( i even dropped an i pod in a bucket of water and they fixed that)i've yet to expeirence, it is still better than having to deal with 10 times as many problems in microsoft land...

etc etc. It really is like you insulted their mother or something.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005
 
A-a-awesome

Some of you may have already seen this, but if not, and you:

a) hate email and ebay scammers; and
b) have a spare 15 minutes,

then read and enjoy the story of the P-P-Powerbook. It is an absolutely brilliant story of when nerds attack.

I hope the wannabe scammer enjoys his new computer.

Monday, August 15, 2005
 
Rad

So some of your mates think they are pretty smart because they built themselves a spud gun out of PVC parts?

Try a home built PVC flamethrower on for size then.

I love the internet.

Thursday, August 11, 2005
 
Down on success

Crikey.com.au has got stuck into the Downer family by criticising the recent winning of an exclusive scholarship by Alexander Downer's daughter, Georgina. They pose a series of rhetorical questions:

Does an Australian foreign minister have a conflict of interest if a close member of his family is awarded a prestigious scholarship by a country which uses such scholarships to "contribute to the maintenance of a strong relationship between the countries"?

Is an unfortunate perception created during a time of war when the daughter of the foreign minister receives a valuable benefit from one of Australia's key allies in that war?

But are careful to say this:

Crikey isn't suggesting any impropriety by either Mr Downer or his daughter in her successful application for one of the Chevening scholarships, due to be announced in a few weeks' time. Nor do we suggest any kind of direct interference by Mr Downer. (emphasis added)

Except that by writing the article in the first place, thats exactly what they are suggesting. To add to their suggestion of undue influence, they also decide to attack her academic results:

According to the application forms, Chevening scholarships are available each year to a small number of Australians who have "obtained, or expected to obtain, at least an upper second class undergraduate degree" (in 2003, for example, seven out of eight Chevening scholars had first class honours degrees). Georgina Downer was awarded a third class honours degree from Melbourne University.

Not only does the selection process include an interview component, but maybe the selection panel also realised that not all honours degrees are created equal.

After they contacted Mr Downer's office, they got this answer:

Through his spokesman Mr Downer told Crikey: "Every time she has been successful in life she has had to put up with this accusation. She should be left alone to pursue her own successful career."

I couldn't agree more - while they are at it, why doesn't Crikey also suggest that she only got her job at Minter Ellison (a top tier law firm) because the firm was hoping for government work?

Georgina Downer has not replied to our emails.

Good. What do they expect her to say?

In writing this story we do feel badly for Georgina Downer. She's not a politician and, as her father says, she should be left to live her own life and have her own privacy. She doesn't deserve this attention.

I am not sure I believe that they do feel bad, but either way, you can hear the "but" coming from a mile off.

But the harsh reality is that when someone decides to take on high political office they drag their families into their net. And in a democracy where proper and open conduct is critical, that's exactly as it should be. Which means that sometimes, in the interests of optics and fairness, family members of powerful politicians must refrain from doing things they could do if they weren't a close relative of a government minister.

You should certainly never take advantage of something like that, but nor should Downer's children be expected to hamper their own lives and careers because of it.

Alexander Downer shouldn't have done this to his daughter – or to Australia.

Ignoring the sanctimonious tone of that last line, it also sums up what is wrong with this article. What exactly is Downer accused of having "done" to his daughter and Australia? They keep saying they don't think he interfered, which means the only people that have "done" things are Georgina in applying, and the scholarship committee in awarding it to her.

What should Downer have done - told his 25 year old legally qualified daughter what she can and can't apply for? Spiked her chances by having a quiet word to the committee? Who would or should do that to their children?

Thankfully, Crikey's readership appears to have taken issue with this as well:

Now that my derision has subsided, I feel moved to respond to your two days of vilification of Alexander Downer, and now his daughter, for God's sake. What do you people know of proper conduct? (You have criticised the absolutely proper ostracising of the low-life socialite who Edward VII married). Now you are so small and narrow as to be critical of a perfectly good Australian sense of humour in Downer. Your attack on him in relation to his daughter is utterly and transparently petty.

and

Oh, bullsh*t! Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't I read somewhere in this diatribe that Georgina Downer is a 25-year-old woman with a career of her own? What right has Downer or anyone else to direct or expect his independent adult daughter to limit her career ambitions because some idiot journalist somewhere might exercise their political prejudice against him on the basis of her actions? Grow up.

though there is this:

How could anyone with a third class honours degree be awarded a scholarship of any kind at any university – let alone a $50,000 scholarship at the LSE? Third class honours are virtually a fail. Even upper second class degrees will not get you a postgraduate position in many faculties at Australian universities. When I was involved in selecting graduates for employment somebody with a third would not even get an interview.

Funny, Minter Ellison didn't seem to think so. I guess a third class honour in creative writing or something similar may be considered close to a fail, but third class honours in Law at the University of Melbourne ain't no pushover. And then there is this:

The British public should be equally or more concerned that the British Foreign Office and the Commonwealth Office with their Chevening scholarship are failing the people of Britain. Consider these facts. 1. Mummy is/was a British citizen and I believe has family in Britain. 2. Daddy was virtually an adopted Brit even to being a member of the British Young Conservatives. (Incidentally Radley College is a private school and not an Oxford Uni College, as the article implied). 3. Georgina has probably been to the UK more times than she can remember.

So he doesn't know the citizenship of her mother, he "believes" they have family in the UK, her father is an anglophile and Georgina has "probably" been to the UK more times than she can remember. What a well researched and fairly argued position to take.

The bottom line is that Alexander Downer annoys some people because of his background, family, education etc. This is a just another excuse to have a crack at him, using the success of one of his children as a convenient weapon.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005
 
Article gets an "F"

Remember the snickering that occured when a teachers union in England wanted to replace the word "fail" with "deferred success"? If Neil Hooley's views are representative of the current crop of education lecturers in Australia, we could be heading the same way.

We can perhaps excuse ourselves a wry smile when we hear that the Federal Government is demanding that all schools fly the national flag. This is part of the agreement reached between Canberra and all states and territories on the provision of $31 billion of funding over the next five years. Interestingly, and as far as I am aware, flying the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander flag is not included in the contract.

Why is that interesting? Australia has one flag, that's the one that should be flown. I don't believe the flags of the states are part of the contract either, is that also "interesting"?

Unfortunately, it gets worse.

Yes it does.

States and territories are also required to ensure that student reports are based on a system of letter grades, A to E. Apparently, parents are confused by other terminology that might use words such as "established", "consolidated", "developed" and the like.

I am not so sure that parents are "confused", more likely they are annoyed or frustrated that such vague terms are used.

A grade of B, for example, is very explicit and everyone knows what it means.

Yep.

But if I received a piece of paper inscribed with the letter B and nothing else, I would have very little idea of what was intended.

And you teach at a university? Of course comments can be provided suggesting how work could be improved, but where is the vice in providing a grade as well?

We have a distinct choice here. Either it is appropriate to draw up an absolute scale that measures achievement, or we look at progress that has been made over time.

So applying that logic to sport, the award for "most improved" should be more prestigious than that for "best and fairest" because the B & F winner may have won it last year as well, and therefore hasn't made as much "progress" as the willing but inferior player? Actually, Hooley does attempt to apply it to sport:

Matthew Hayden, for example, took a decade to break into the Australian cricket team and overcame many hurdles along the way. An absolute rating during his journey may have been a fail.

Actually, on a scale of A to E, it would be perfectly possible to compare Hayden's career to his peers and come up with a mark. This could be done per season (his tour of the sub-continent getting an A, his current tour of England getting a D) or over his entire career.

The allocation of absolute grades to the learning of children fits into a particular logic of knowledge.

Uh-oh.

This says that schools are involved in the passing on of predetermined information or subject content that can be known, taught, assessed and rated accurately at each age or year level.

He has a problem with schools "passing on" information that can be "known"? What role does he think schools should perform?

An alternative view indicates that children learn by building their own knowledge and that learning is always a work in progress. Under these conditions, it is highly problematic whether predetermined content can be known, taught, assessed and rated accurately.

Any school whose "logic" states that "predetermined content" cannot be known or taught has no right to call itself a school.

Can we construct one paradigm as more equitable than the other?

I hope this guy doesn't lecture in grammar.

Does it really matter whether criteria are used, whether one logic or the other is followed? There are two concerns.

If you are lecturing teachers to believe that kiddies can only build their own knowledge, and cannot be assessed on predetermined content, then I have more than two concerns.

First, not all children approach learning in the same way and following one approach will, by definition, exclude large numbers of children who prefer the other. Second, adopting one logic, whichever it is, says to children that there is only one way to learn and that deviation from this leads to personal and educational failure.

Note to kiddies - believing that there can never be a "correct approach" and that on your "learning voyage" only you can "build your own knowledge" will lead to educational failure, except in arts degress and lecturing in education apparently.

What many teachers try to do to get around these problems is to develop an inclusive curriculum that recognises the different approaches. The framework of learning involves participation with the knowledge, ideas and practices of others, but the starting point for inclusion is the child's interests, history and intent. The framework is democratic and inquiry-based rather than autocratic and obligatory.

I would never suggest that education shouldn't be tailored to a child's needs to a certain extent, but you can never have a "democratic" and voluntary framework - otherwise most kids would vote to do bugger all. How much maths would get taught in a democtratic classroom...?

Parents will make up their own minds, but children may have little option to do so, locked in the iron cage of A to E determinism.

They got children released from compulsory detention, surely getting them out of determinism should be a breeze by comparison.

Monday, August 08, 2005
 
Hysteria alert

Do you oppose compulsory student unionism? Well why don't you go burn some crosses then:

Federal Liberal MP Tony Smith's advice to his National (that is, Country) Party colleagues on this page on July 5 could not be worse. His constant identification of opposition to making fees optional as a left-wing plot is about as dated and accurate as the southern racists' claim (see Mississippi Burning starring Gene Hackman) that the civil rights workers murdered in 1964 were representing that terrible communist, Martin Luther King.

Thats from Robert Solomon by the way, ex-Liberal MP. I think its a great idea to try and convince people by comparing people you oppose to the KKK. Furthermore, I also try and gather all my historical references from Hollywood films.

Friday, August 05, 2005
 
Nuclear powered George

A George Monbiot article is pretty much self-fisking. The fact that he really only has one or two themes (West = bad) makes it even easier.

Nevertheless, his current article in the Age (cribbed, unsurprisingly, from the Guardian) warrants a few responses.

Lets start with the headline:

The world learned nothing from Hiroshima

Not true. The world, or at least the countries which constitute it, learned not to f_ck with the USA face to face. After the unconditional surrender of Japan, wars occured by proxy (Korea, Vietnam) or by non-State parties (9/11).

Tomorrow is the 60th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. The nuclear powers are commemorating it in their own special way: by seeking to ensure that the experiment is repeated.

Note the language - "seeking" - i.e. actively pursuing and "ensure" - guarantee it will occur. In other words, Monbiot is not saying that Chimpbushitler and his poodle Tony bLiar are bumbling along a course which might inadvertently lead to another nuclear attack, he is claiming that they are purposely trying to make it occur. Not a good start for the rest of the article.

Bush wanted to destroy the treaty because it couldn't be reconciled with his new plans. Earlier this year, the Senate approved an initial $4 million ($A5.1 million) for research into a "robust nuclear earth penetrator" (RNEP). This is a bomb with a yield about 10 times that of the Hiroshima device, designed to blow up underground bunkers that might contain weapons of mass destruction. (You've spotted the contradiction.)

err, no I haven't. Is the contradiction supposed to be that the US are developing nuclear weapons designed to destroy other people's nuclear, biological and chemical weapons? If so, is there a contradiction in them developing planes which are designed to shoot down enemy planes?

You see what a wonderful world he inhabits when you discover that the RNEP idea was conceived in 1991 as a means of dealing with Saddam Hussein's biological and chemical weapons. Saddam is pacing his cell, but the Bushites, like the Japanese soldiers lost in Malaya, march on.

Good point George - Saddam is the only tinpot dictator who has thought of hiding his weapons (or his command and communication network) in underground bunkers. With him out of the way, I don't think we need bombs of any sort anymore.

To pursue his war against the phantom of the phantom of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, Bush has destroyed the treaty that prevents the use of real ones.

There in a nut shell is the error in the thinking of many of the UN and international law boosters - the NPT does not "prevent" the use of real weapons, any more than the Treaty of Versailles prevented Germany rearming.

But the biggest disaster was Bush's meeting with Singh last month. India is one of three countries that possess nuclear weapons and refuse to sign the non-proliferation treaty.

Wait, so even with the NPT in place, at least three countries have managed to acquire nuclear weapons? Shouldn't the treaty have prevented this? And when you are quoting Iran to make your point, you know your are really in trouble:

The implications have not been lost on other states. "India is looking after its own national interests," a spokesman for the Iranian Government complained on Wednesday. "We cannot criticise them for this. But what the Americans are doing is a double standard. On the one hand they are depriving an NPT member from having peaceful technology, but at the same time they are co-operating with India, which is not a member of the NPT."

Iran is a signatory to the NPT, yet is widely considered to have developed, or be close to developing, nuclear weapons.

North Korea ratified the treaty, the pulled out over a dispute over inspections. They have also publicly declared that they do have nuclear weapons. This has all occured prior to the moves by Bush and Blair which Monbiot is so critical of.

Thanks to Bush and Blair, we might not go out with a whimper after all.

Pop quiz - who is most likely to launch a nuclear attack:

a) terrorists;
b) Iran;
c) North Korea;
d) United Kingdom; or
e) United States?

If it were a), b) or c), George would still have us believe, even as the mushroom cloud settled over London or Washington, that it was all our fault.

Thursday, August 04, 2005
 
Amazing what you can buy nowadays...

Crikey.com.au has an article regarding the recent comments made by Andrew Fraser, Associate Professor, Department of Public Law at Macquarie University.

The article itself isn't that interesting, but the Google Ad on the sidebar is magic:

White Slavery
Great deals on
White Slavery
Shop on eBay and
Save!
www.ebay.com

It would explain where Crikey gets some of its quality articles from I guess.

 
Consulting the Oracle

Do my psychic powers know no bounds? This was how I finished a mini-rant against Apple:

Oh, you might want to join the rest of us and get used to a grown up 2 (or 7) button mouse as well.

Two months later, we get this:

Apple on Tuesday introduced its first computer mouse with multiple buttons, including four sensors and a tiny scroll ball. Although a departure from the company's traditional mouse, the "Mighty Mouse" looks very similar to the single-button model Apple has long produced.

Of course, in keeping with Apple's usual policy, this mouse will set you back $80. For a corded mouse.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005
 
Movin' on down

Good news people. For all of you frustrated that Australia didn't have a home grown version of Moveon.org, there is now hope.

GetUp.org.au has now launched. Rather than one of those boring political parties that require attendence at branch meetings, handing out pamphlets, attending policy discussions etc, this is a political movement for the 21st century - high on indignation, low on required effort

Rather than sitting through tedious party branch meetings, the outfit will ask voters to donate to web and TV ads, think up their own campaign ideas and lobby politicians by email and SMS.

And the geniuses behind this?

The project is the brainchild of Jeremy Heimans and David Madden, who met while studying at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard in the US.

Last year the pair started Win Back Respect, a group that produced attack ads during last year's US presidential race arguing that George Bush's foreign policy was damaging America's world standing.

And look how sucessful they were.

Using small donations from online contributors, Win Back Respect paid for a speaking tour by General Wesley Clark and hired a charter plane for the Band of Sisters, a group of female relatives of US soldiers killed or serving in Iraq, to chase Vice-President Dick Cheney on the campaign trail.

Wow, they paid a losing Democrat presidential nominee to do a speaking tour, then exploited the deaths of US servicemen in Iraq to harass the US Vice-President. I can't wait for such tactics to be applied in Australia. Why not get Latham to do a speaking tour, or get relative of Bali victims to harass Treasurer Costello? Success in a bottle I tells ya.

Now Mr Heimans, 27, and Mr Madden, 30, want to translate that success to Australia, hoping to reach people who have progressive political views but little time and money.

I am pretty sure that line about success was meant with a straight face.

They have already made their first television advertisement — a spot that features ordinary Australians warning the Howard Government that voters will hold them to account for their Senate majority now that Parliament cannot.

So a movement that scorns traditional politics wants to remind a traditional (and highly sucessful) political organisation that they will have to answer to voters in a few years time? Wow guys, talk about subverting the dominant paradigm.

The group's initial recruitment target is the 69,000 Australian-based email subscribers of MoveOn, another political group in the US that campaigned to oust Mr Bush from office last year with donated funds.

Now here is a curious thing - how did they get those emails? The website of MoveOn states:

We treat your contact information as private and confidental. We will not provide your contact information to any other organization except MoveOn.org Civic Action unless you specifically authorize us to do so.

I wonder if all of these 69,000 people "specifically authorised" MoveOn to give their details to GetUp. If not, why should anybody believe GetUp when they claim:

GetUp will not provide your personal information to any other organisation except where necessary eg to verify credit card transactions or as required by law.

We won't sell, trade or exchange your information without your permission.

But I shouldn't mock them. This kind of organisation is drawing together people who have though a lot about the issue facing us today, and have meaningful contributions to make regarding improving things. People like "Sean":

"I'm concerned about education, environmental infrastructure, changes to industrial relations, and indigenous disadvantage. I want to do something about this stuff."

Right on man - lets fix this "stuff". Or "Alex"

"I want to be a member of GetUp because when the chips are down and we've got a big fight on our hands I am the kind of guy that thinks to himself, "Get up and fight!" GetUp typifies that type of Aussie determination I hold close to my heart."

Careful Alex - those sentiments appear to be endorsing violent resistance, not to mention stereotyping about Australian attitudes - you don't want to be brought before the GetUp People's Committee let me tell you. "Luke" is all about being fair:

"I'm getting involved because I just reckon this country's not fair anymore. Australia was always a fair country, but I don't think that's true anymore. I've joined GetUp to make this country a fair place again."

Fair enough. He makes a fair point really, repeatedly. Simon wants to do something, but doesn't want to have to pay membership fees or help out at election time:

"I joined GetUp because I'm not interested in joining a political party but I'm still interested in politics. I don't want to just have my say one day every three years."

OMG - by joining GetUp you can like totally SMS the Government everyday mang!

Labor should try and get GetUp to organise a flash mob at the next leadership vote.


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