March 31, 2006

Yes, in our backyard

Even if our great brown land did not hold some of the world’s largest stores of uranium, of which we are set to increase mining and exporting (we will, we will, just wait), I have always believed that it’s nothing more than surly to decline and avoid being a key location for storage of the world’s nuclear waste.

Our geography, our size, and our location dictate that we should long ago have stopped being precious about this and set ourselves up as the preeminent provider of world class nuclear waste storage faculties.

Nuclear physicist Geoff Hudson has now, bravely, come out in public support of my opinion. Today he was quoted in The Age as saying:

"From our own self interest first, it is safer for Australia if we store world nuclear waste here than have it sitting somewhere else over a fault line where the risk of accident and biosphere release is high," he said.

"Worldwide nuclear waste to date is 200,000 tonnes in total but it is dense and could all be stored on just a few hectares of land of around 20 metres high.

"This is minuscule."
We should store world’s nuclear waste: expert.

Yes, we should dig it up; yes we should sell it; and yes, we should complete that magical circle of capitalism and charge a premium for bringing the waste back home to a safe final resting place.

This is the only responsible course of action. Anything less is a disservice to the world and to future generations.

March 29, 2006

OMG – 12 whole weeks without (very many) holidays!

How will they manage?!

Seriously, teachers in Victoria are facing a 12 week term, with only the Easter four day weekend; one other public holiday; and various “curriculum and planning days”, to break up the arduous torture of their overburdened working day lives.

You think I’m kidding? Think I’m being hysterical, just for effect? No, this is REAL.

Illness and fatigue” are expected to take a “punishing toll” on our teachers.

Fatigue? I hear you ask.

FATIGUE?! I hear you ask again.

A PUNISHING TOLL?!” I hear you screech into the black of the night, having stumbled home from work after midnight, tired, starving, and with three papers to write before morning, for someone being paid 10 times your salary, who won’t bother reading them – ever.

Once upon a time, school terms were 14 weeks apiece and no one died; teachers turned up; children turned up; the world spun, as normal, on its axis.

In these modern times, the second school term in Victoria would normally be a breezy little 10 weeks.

Assuming you completed your high school education a minimum of five years ago, you may have grasped the rudimentary elements of mathematics, and have possibly worked out, all on your own, that the second school term has, for this year only, been extended by an entire two weeks. That would be ten working days, or nine working days for the schools that manage to schedule a planning day for the last day of term, so that the school will be free of pesky children.

TEN DAYS?!” I hear you wail into your computer screen, thereby waking the neighbors, who call the police– not to report their dire concerns for your safety - but to complain about the jerk keeping them awake.

Yeerrrs, I think we’re all feeling something akin to an almighty binge of sympathy for teachers in Victoria right about now.

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Over at Nick & Nora’s place (The Thin Man Returns), Nora posted about her engagement with some folk on the topic of “teacher morale”, on the Courier Mail blog – read Nora’s comments in full, interspersed with her willing, but apparently unable debaters.

One particularly inspired commenter suggests that Queensland teachers are working in “third world conditions". While another – bless his little cotton socks – got all carried away with the automatic accolades and authority vested in anyone with a university degree, this being proffered as proof absolute of the capability of all teachers.

Nora takes mere moments to swat them down like so many drunken blow flies. Yet, one can’t help wish they’d been up to the task. One would have hoped that at least the would-be teacher, and those commenting upon the pedestal-stature of teachers, all of whom, we trust, have been taught themselves, could have lasted the distance, or at least made a decent fist of it. The chap who places such faith in the credentials of teachers obviously didn’t scroll to the earlier post directing readers to the piece about teacher entrance scores & the bottom of the barrel.

Let’s also not forget that education, and university degrees (and MBAs!), have long required the evaluation parameters of wine, as in: what year did you get it?” As well as "where did it (or the grapes) come from?"

Even back in my day (and that’s a while ago), a friend was doing her teaching degree, and I had the grave misfortune to be exposed to numerous of her essays during her final year of study. They were thrust upon me, much against my will. Suffice it to say, the only redeeming quality of the work was the disingenuous spelling, the imaginative grammar, and an autistic approach to addressing the essay topic. She became a teacher of high school students. She graduated well before I finished my studies, and I'd guess it must be 15 years ago. I shudder that standards had a place. somewhere deep and dark, somewhere much lower to go, but by all accounts they have, and 15 years is a long time to be in free fall, particularly coming off such a low baseline.

A funny little wag attempts to demolish one of Nora’s articulate and reasonable points on the past conditions of the class room and the zero causal link of such with learning outcomes.

Nora wrote:

"A question we may have to ask then is why students of the past, learning in classrooms that were completely air-conditioning-free, were able to leave school with a higher level literacy and numeracy standards today."

Apart from taking a fallacious ageist stab of utter irrelevance, another commenter jumps in with this as their opening gambit:

“Your question pines for an imaginary place in the past that never existed, apart from within your overactive imagination.”

Reading that response, and having read it a number of times, I must now ponder the question: is it humanly possible to imbue people with ignorance and stupidity?

In the past, logic would have had me baying “no”. Now I’m less sure.

Yes, we have no bananas!

I have seven bananas left. Bids will be accepted, but the number of bananas available for the successful bidder cannot be guaranteed, and no correspondence will be entered into.

I also have eight relatively nice, but not particularly large or juicy plums.

With Cyclone Larry having destroyed the banana crops in Queensland; rendered hundreds of families homeless; and engendered a new crop of unemployed; Australia is set to be bereft of bananas for at least the remainder of the year. It’s looking as though the most exciting event for the new year of 2007 will be the gradual reappearance of bananas in our shops.

A figure of 15 million bananas “eaten” every week by Australians is being touted and bandied about as a gospel truth. Of course, no one mentions the 7 million bananas left lurking at the bottom of school backs; browning in lunch boxes; or black and decorative in fruit bowls across the country; all destined, not to be eaten, but binned.

It has been noted in the MSM and on the Internet that people in other countries have not suffered any dire consequences from importing yummy bananas, and it seems to be implied that we are pandering to the less than 2000 people employed in the banana industry, as well as, perhaps, being weak willies, scared too easily at the thought of exotic bugs infiltrating our land.

But I say - what the hell - we don’t own much of anything anymore, having given it away to multi-nationals; or given up, in lieu of importing everything, so - YES - let’s man the barricades against future pestilence and famine across the land – real or imagined – lets keep bananas true blue, and lets keep a few jobs up in Queensland. Being without peel for comedy acts and without bananas at the bottom of school bags for nine months is but a minor inconvenience in anyone’s life time.

March 25, 2006

A Better Class of SPAM

I used to be offered smorgasbord of options to change the status of my under-sized penis; as well as medical intervention to improve my cup size; and miracle dietary aids for my weight problem; along with a range of non-intrusive options to make me as hard and durable as steel.

I was quite convinced that the invitations I used to get to view Paris Hilton showing the entire world just how extremely bored one young & filthy rich gal can be while having sex & taking calls on her mobile were somehow tied in with the diet business people, the breast business people, as well as the penis business people, but I can’t prove any of this.

That was all a very long time ago, back in the days when I used Hotmail - because I was young & silly, and I didn’t know any better, and because Google hadn’t invented their g-spot yet.

Then finally came Gmail and I’m no longer accused, on a daily basis, of having a small penis; I’m no longer offered cheap prescription drugs for diseases I don’t yet have; no-one insists that I have to lose 10 Ibs of ugly fat; and the random stabs at what may or may not be my sexual proclivities have ceased. My flaccid penis and my suboptimal breasts have reverted to being my private business, not the business of hundreds of people who spent years trying to convince me that it was their business.

These days, with Gmail, I’m offered things like legitimate software – as opposed to *hard*-ware (tee, hee; sorry, that was a tiny, tiny, tiny joke and I promise not to do it again) – or cheap car insurance; and loan offers from the Christian lending fund (isn’t that sweet?). I could even start ordering my personalized Easter gifts right now, if I wanted to; or I could get help applying for government grants; that’s if I wasn’t so excited about today’s note that said I “may have been selected to win a million dollars”. I may not have too, but I’m sure they have an ethical and transparent process for selection, perhaps adjudicated by the Christian lending fund.

None of the Gmail spam ever sullies my inbox either; it’s all routed straight to its rightful place in the spam folder.

Apart from that, the Google graphics are so darned cute, and Google gets just as excited as I do when there’s “no spam here!” I adore the even cuter messages when Gmail very occasionally and very temporarily goes down (no pun intended). When that happens I actually look forward to it staying down, just so I get to read the subsequent messages – they get funnier as the minutes tick by.

I suppose it can brighten up a dull days to receive an email with the subject “ULTIMATE ERECTUS” or “B*G LAR&%G@#E GROW” (although I do worry about their keyboard skills), but with Gmail, I don’t only get a better class of spam, I get HUMUNGOUS storage – enough to last me forever, without ever having to delete an email, and it’s free. That’s exactly what everyone wants really – upsized, free and low fat.

March 23, 2006

Wardar, Wardar Everywhere

This is my token post about the Commonwealth Games, a large sporting event presently being hosted in our fair city.

I would have published some photographs of the awesome pyrotechnics and fabulous long shots of the entire city lit up like the proverbial Christmas tree, from the end phase of the otherwise cringe-worthy opening ceremony, but for reasons known only to them, the media didn’t publish any of what I expected to be shown of the city. They chose, instead, to publish the odd picture of flying trams, a nice young boy, and a duck whose semantic significance escaped all of us. So, you’ll have to take my word for it: the city looked spectacular.

My interest in the Games sporting commentary was piqued a little the other night when I tuned into the coverage and heard a female commentator seemingly obsessed with “warder”. Yes, really. It went something like this:

“She’s moving through the warder…she turned in the warder….she’s powering ahead in the wardar…she’s gliding through the wardar…she’s going fast in the wardar
…she looks really good in the wardar…that’s the best she’s done in the wardar…she's leading in the wardar.”

It eventually occurred to me that the former Australian champion swimmer – who was the second half of the commentary team – with her new birds eye view of the sport, was overwhelmed and astonished that yes, indeedy doo, the sport is conducted within the confines of a very large amount of water.

I’m hoping she will recover from her awe and wonder at this fact, some time before the next Games, or perhaps during her next elocution lesson.

I also caught a little glimpse of the marathon “walkers”, a race during which not a single commentator was compelled to tell me anything at all about the asphalt over which the participants were gliding, powering, leading from the front, etc. I recovered from that mild disappointment, only to ponder the continuing relevance of walking as a competitive sport. You see, the “walk”, with all its stylized strangeness, has become more and more unnatural over the years. Sure, perhaps not as unnatural as the girl coming out of the well and through the television set in The Ring (the real version), but all the same, it was always a tad ungainly.

The walk, to my mind, is no longer just another silly walk, worthy, apparently of a medal; rather, it has morphed into a silly jog. I don’t care how they slice it, or how they rationalize it, the competitors are not walking – they are jogging, albeit in a very silly manner. They are no longer walking quickly; they are jogging slowly. It’s time for the walking events to leave the stadium on the grounds of being a fraud.

The Games still have several days to go, and the haul of gold by Australia is already mortifying, unseemly, ungracious, and greedy. I don’t begrudge any of our medal winners, really I don’t, but it would have been nice to share just a little more than we have. Sharing is nice.

Apart from the cache of gold, the Games will leave behind a cache of athletes not too keen on returning to their own country. So far we have seven athletes from Sierra Leonean reported “missing”. I’m expecting that count to increase before Sunday. We must be able to out do Manchester on those numbers – they had ten left over athletes following their Commonwealth Games. Come on, we can beat that!

March 21, 2006

A larger throne for Australians

This is disturbing at a number of levels.

Standards Australia is in the process of drafting new design guidelines for toilet seats, with the goal to ensure that toilet seats of the future will withstand your average 150 kg (330.7 lbs) Aussie, tourist, student or refugee.

Compare this weighty goal with the current toilet seat standard, which, astonishingly, is only required to take a weight up to 45 kg (99.2 lbs).

Yes, truly. Our present toilet seats are designed to take the weight of your average 12 year old. Okay, I’m guessing on the latter point, since I don’t know how much children weigh at different ages these days, but I keep reading that it’s an awful lot.

Still going to feel safe next time you sit on a toilet, eh?


But consider this: if toilet seats are designed to only take 45 kg, how much weight are porcelain toilets designed to withstand; and furthermore, wouldn’t you want to review both sets of standards at the same time?

Let’s just follow this through to its logical conclusion: toilet seats of the future will be designed to take several multiples of the current weight requirements. This will mean both a very different shape and size of seat, or an entirely different material will need to be bought into the equation, such as something super strength, but pretty, that NASA uses to build the Mars rovers, for example. Without the aid of the latter, I’m having fearful thoughts of requiring a ladder, or some other aid, to help people foist themselves onto sturdy yet gigantic toilet seats.

How far behind will be a new super strength toilet bowl, with reinforced cladding?

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PS I’ve just become aware that a new store is to open in Melbourne, specializing primarily in “Legal Regalia”. Yes, legal regalia (primarily), can be had by all!


March 19, 2006

Afterglow

Key Job Accountabilities:

1. Find the beginning of the Universe.

2. Develop robust Big Bang tests.

3. Other duties as directed.


And you thought you had a tough job, right?

“A NASA space probe has peered back in time to a bare instant - less than a trillionth of a trillionth of a second - after the Big Bang, astronomers report.

A robotic probe detected the afterglow from the Big Bang, the energetic event scientists believe gave birth to the universe some 13.7 billion years ago, to discern unprecedented detail about the earliest moments of the cosmos.” The Age, 17 March 2006

The Mission site has all kinds of fascinating tid bits about the Universe.

Of course, you may be concerned about the arguments for and against the Big Bang, in which case you will be tantalized by the “errors in some popular attacks on the Big Bang” - no mention of the unpopular attacks, but you no doubt have a passing familiarity with those already.

If you search around on the links provided you’ll come across enough material to enable you to carry out your very own Big Bang tests at home.



March 18, 2006

Draw your own conclusions

Reported today:

English school students in Western Australia could pass their final-year exam without reading a book or being able to spell, punctuate or use correct grammar.

The new Year 12 English exam instead asks students to compare posters for the films Spider-Man 2 and Gandhi, and to analyse a piece of their own writing rather than accepted greats such as Shakespeare or George Orwell.

The sample exam for the new general English course just released for the West Australian Certificate of Education says students can draw answers and are not required to use grammatically correct sentences.

"Student responses can also be given in dot-point format, diagrams or other suitable alternatives to continuous prose," the marking key says.

"Student responses should not be penalised for poor spelling, punctuation, grammar or handwriting, unless these are elements ... specifically being assessed."


That's all you really need to know, but you can read the rest in The Australian.

I have nothing to add.

March 16, 2006

Raving Lunatics


I’ve recently noticed a vomit inducing quirk on some comments in blogs.

Have you ever heard those nauseating people who call radio stations and jump in with “Hi Stan, long time listener; first time caller”, before gushing on with the pea-brained thought that finally inspired them to participate after being a mere listener for 120 years?

(This being a more cringe-worthy nervous twitch than that even more gratuitous self introduction offered up by the 500 callers who, one after another, with banal predictability, get on air and immediately ask of the assembled DJ/s “how are you?”, as if the state of their day or their emotional equilibrium may have dramatically changed during the 12 seconds since the last caller asked “how are you?”. But, I digress, as is often my wont.)

Well, the same icky practice is creeping into the blogosphere, but the comment doesn’t always come at the beginning by way of an oozing personal introduction, it can be thrown in at the end, such as: PS – Long time lurker, first time commenter. “Hi” I enjoy your blog so much; I read it every day!!!” [Squeals, blushes, hands over autograph book; oooh, I'm your biggest fan...]

Eeaaakkk! Suck ups; go back to Nog (the Not Blog place.); there’s an obnoxious radio host just waiting for your call.

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The above comments were a precursor, a random thought, a warm up, a bit like the “shorts” we used to see at the cinema, before the feature film.

What I really want to share with you is a feature article from The Australian, IT Business section from 14 March 2006. But I can’t, because I can’t find a URL.

The piece was by journalist Chris Jenkins, with the main article being “Blogging the Brand”. There was nothing new under the sun in the article, and a few thousand words seem to have been devoted, primarily, to promoting Telstra’s, err, *interesting* approach to corporate blogging. Telstra; and / or their corporate blog URL / name; or someone from Telstra was mentioned / quoted in nearly every paragraph. The rest of the article was padded with asinine filler. I expected a byline at the end, with “this feature article was generously sponsored by Telstra’s corporate blog (insert URL)”.

Of much greater interest was a “side bar” section, again written by Jenkins, which sat not so much on the side, or even in a “bar”, but more right of the centre, and about two thirds down the page, in a rectangle layout. This little section had no mention of and no quotes from Telstra.

David Holmes, from OneDigital finishes off his variously quoted thoughts about corporate blogging with the following relatively average advice for business (that’s not meant as an insult to Holmes, after all, business can be so dumb; they need all the common sense average advice they can get), but I was struck by how these salutatory thoughts applied, perhaps equally to we non-corporate bloggers; we little folk in the blogosphere. The ‘sidebar’ concludes thus, with quotations from Holmes:

“Risk has to have a reward, and my biggest issue on blogs is that there is no clear evidence that the reward is there.”

Unless there is an audience ready to lap up the material they post on their blog, companies may also find they are speaking to an empty room.

Blogs are, in effect, “digital soapboxes”, he says.

“Sometimes people gather around and say that guy has something to say, but in most cases you’re the raving lunatic talking to five people,” Holmes says. “How much time do you want to spend talking to five people?"

Err, well, as it turns out, in the fullness of contemplation & everything, quite a bit of time, it would seem, quite a bit indeed.

To my favorite bloggers, and to my lovely commenters, and to my ever faithful lurkers: it has proven to be rather fun & always stimulating being the raving lunatic “talking to five people”.

And may my conversation expand to six or seven people, any day now!

Come on number five, there really is a little more room on the couch, squash up a bit for the new comers; do try to make an effort to be friendly.

March 11, 2006

Prove it


For women reading this, here is your challenge for today, and everyday: prove to me that you are not a prostitute.

Seriously, I’m waiting. Prove it. Come on. We don’t have all day. Get on with it, where’s your proof?

What? You can’t? So, you must be a prostitute. Really, you can’t prove to me that you are not a prostitute, can you?

Well then, off to jail with you little lady.

That’s the scenario facing all ordinary women under new Indonesian laws.

Almost worse than the new laws is this disturbing statement:

“…intellectuals, feminists and artists are beginning to mobiles against what they believe is a plan to reshape Indonesia.” (Moral Crusaders focus on females, The Age, 11 March 2006)

That’s it? The treatment of women and young girls throughout Indonesia is to be left in the hands of “intellectuals”, “feminists”, and “artists”. No-one else cares? No-one else is up to the task? That’s the best support that can be mustered?

Why does the care and concern for the treatment of women fall into the hands of a powerless minority of pretentious gits?

May a nice omnipotent deity be on the side of Indonesian women, because it would seem their powers on earth are up shit creek without a paddle.




All together now!


Over at
Evil Pundit's place we are provided with the following quote from Glenn Reynolds, who originally made the comment on Instaupundit.com. It’s rather elegant in its clear sighted simplicity:

"I question the Islamists' strategy of making everybody else in the world hate them simultaneously." -
Glenn Reynolds
It also raises some obvious questions, such as: from which of the global corporations is Islam getting its strategic advice, and whose HR policy did they pinch?

March 7, 2006

Shock Horror – Celebrities are Manufactured!!!


One time American Idol runner up, Clay Aiken, is possibly neither heterosexual, nor particularly Christian in his beliefs, despite jauntily signing ditties that would suggest otherwise.

In the normal course of the world, this would not be something over which to attempt to raise a Botoxed eyebrow. Not so for nine of his girly fans though, who have lodged a complaint with the US Federal Trade Commission.

Their stated reasons for lodging the complaint are delightful (we won't mark them on grammar, as this was obviously written under stressful circumstances):

"As consumers, we feel ripped off. It is obvious now that the private Clay is very different from the manufactured, packaged Clay that was marketed to us … This is tantamount to a manufacturer concealing information about a defective product. Therefore these actions were unfair and deceptive to consumers."

Celebrities are defective products? That sounds accurate.

(Singer wasn’t straight with us, say former fans, SMH, 07 March 2006)



March 6, 2006

God and Cake

Only 49% of young Australians believe there is a god, yet 55% of them believe that life after death is a certainty. (Life’s on-call butler: how teens view God, The Weekend Australian, 4-5 March 2006)

Either this reflects the failure of our schools to teach children the basics in logical thinking, or it’s just a severe case of not having your cake, but eating it anyway. Not that I’ve ever understood the aphorism about “having your cake and eating it too”. Why would you not eat the cake if you have it? Why would you bake or buy a cake, if not to eat it? You would not ever get to eat cake unless you first had a cake. This has always perplexed me. Personally, I’m a big believer in both having your cake and eating it, preferably before it passes its use-by date.

But back to the sliver of teenage atheists who are dead-set-certain that an afterlife awaits them, despite their disavowal of the existence of a god. It does have certain logic, since regardless of what the generations X and Y keep telling us about their clever, savvy dispositions, and their anxiety to take over running the world; these later generations do seem to hold rather strongly to what they consider to be their entitlements, without ever having to do anything, and without needing to establish their credentials. It’s all that way over the moon high self esteem but no competence thing going on.

Yes, it makes perfect sense that some of them would believe they will have an aftelife, with no need or reason to acknowledge or pay due respect to any omnipresent or omnipotent being during their indulgent life on earth. Something for nothing rules. A piece of cake, right?

Why?

Russia plans to hit a golf ball into Earth orbit from the International Space Station. If NASA approves the plan, the ball would set records for the longest drive ever made.

A gold-plated, six-iron golf club will be used to hit the ball, which is made out of the same scandium alloy used to build the station.
After being hit from a special platform alongside the station, the ball is expected to orbit Earth for about four years, beaming its location to Earth-bound computers using global positioning transmitters. Eventually, the ball will lose altitude through atmospheric drag and burn up in the atmosphere.”

There are only a few little dangers involved in this little stunt, like if the golf ball hits the space station, it would be the equivalent force of a 6.5 tonne truck moving at almost 100 km / h.

New Scientist.



March 3, 2006

Who stole YOUR ideas?

I would like to take credit for everything ever written by Camus, although my legal team will definitely earn their money arguing the minor technical difficulties surrounding the fact that I wasn’t born when Camus was walking the planet.

I would also like to take credit for all of the original ideas of Anthony Powell and Lawrence Durrell. I won’t go after Tolstoy, but only because credibility might be stretched to breaking point when trying to establish my capability to write at such depth and length, when I struggle to write the occasional short post on a blog with no hint or pretence of a coherent narrative.

I would also like to take credit for post-it-notes, mostly because I don’t know how I lived without post-it-notes, and now that we have them, I can’t imagine a world without post-it-notes. Anyone could have come up with sliced bread.

Over in Britain, a couple of historians are suing their own publishers - over a work of fiction also published by their publisher, in this instance, the fiction by that Da Vinci Code bloke - for stealing *history* and turning it into and ripper of a fiction yarn. Or as they prefer to express it, for stealing the entire “architecture” of their version of *history*.

Oddly, someone has shamelessly put his hand up to take blame for the idea depicted in the film Mr & Mrs Smith. More oddly, it would seem that the idea started life as a children’s story.

So, whose novel, or film or invention would you like to claim?