July 31, 2007

Vegansexuals

Excellent news, at least for anyone living in, or visiting, New Zealand: there is a newly reduced risk that you will inadvertently exchange bodily fluids or organic wheat grass with a vegan or vegetarian.

A small, but naturally cleansed, group of vegans in New Zealand have taken a long overdue stand on behalf of carnivores and omnivores - they are "shunning" sex with meat eaters!

"When you are vegan or vegetarian, you are very aware that when people eat a meaty diet, they are kind of a graveyard for animals," vegan Nichola Kriek told the Christchurch daily The Press.

Another said: "I would not want to be intimate with someone whose body is literally made up from the bodies of others who have died for their sustenance."

They don't want to be "intimate" with us, and there are days that we don't want to stand down wind of them. This is going to work out really well.

If only wars could be settled so easily and with such mutual satisfaction.

This new arrangement is definitely a win/win!

The Age ...

July 30, 2007

Minister Jackanapes

I don’t ever remember sitting around being ashamed of being Australian, or cringing into my Korn Flakes with mortification about our international reputation, nor I have I ever suffered loss of composure over the actions and inactions of our sometimes blitheringly stupid politicians, but then along came Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews.

Hoping to be given permission to release a much vaunted “secret dossier” so as to convince a cynical public that he had compelling reasons for canceling Mohamed Haneef’s visa on character grounds, the Minister has been sounding desperate and pathetic.

Minister Andrews’ portfolio has the latitude to apply a much wobblier degree of evidence and proof than, for example, police or juries, which is nice, because the Minister has set his personal bar somewhere around 300 foot below sea level - that way he doesn't have to even cock a leg to get it over.

The Department of Immigration doesn’t need much, and certainly nothing much that might be deemed “secret”.

Let’s remind ourselves for a second that no law enforcement agency in Britain is investigating Dr Haneef – for any reason. Zip. Yet the events leading to Haneef’s arrest as a terror suspect and the subsequent canceling of his Australian work visa all happened in Britain. The British authorities have no suspicions in relation to Haneef. Nothing to see here.

The flimsy charges against him were finally dropped a few days ago, but the canceled visa remains canceled, and Haneef is now home in India, greeted by many happy well-wishers when he landed at the airport.

So, why I am cringing about the Minister Andrews? It's not merely because he's a dufus.

"The cancellation of the visa was on character grounds and what the legislation provides is that there is a reasonable suspicion; that is, you know that there is a doubt, this man has had associations with people engaged in criminal conduct," he told ABC radio today."

Yes, you can’t pick your cousins!!

Let that be a lesson to us all.

Actually it might be best to disavow all of your relatives, right now, so that you never have to carry the ignominy of having “associated” with them, which may, at an unpredictable moment, sully your reputation and limit your life and employment chances globally.

(Don't know about you, but if I'm not my brother's keeper, I'm sure as heck not my cousin's, or my second cousin's, or my next door neighbor's keeper.)

While the doctor’s legal team will try to have the visa ruling over-turned, the Minister was eager to be rid of Dr Haneef, who, unsurprisingly left Australia at the earliest opportunity, to return to his family and to meet his new born child, who is now about 6 weeks old - that’s the baby he was going to visit when arrested at the airport on suspicion of being a terrorist, because he gave a SIM card to his cousin in Britain.

These were Minister Andrews' dismissive and derisory comments after Dr Haneef was released from jail:

"After taking advice, including from the Australian Federal Police, I have indicated that the Commonwealth has no objection to Dr Haneef leaving Australia," Mr Andrews said.

"Indeed the effect of the visa cancellation is that he should remove himself, he should depart Australia in any event.”

Yeah, nick off, get the heck out of here, don’t appeal the visa ruling, make it easy on everyone, just go far, far, far away!

Yesterday, following Dr Haneef’s departure, the Minister became even smarmier:

"Mr Andrews - who cancelled Dr Haneef's visa soon after he was bailed - said the doctor's swift departure after his release from detention only made him look more suspicious.

"If anything, that actually heightens rather than lessens my suspicion,"

No word yet on whether the good Minister will be adding his invigorated and heightened suspicion to the secret dossier.

Nor do we have a clause reference for the relevant evidentiary framework in the legislation from which the Minister is hanging his suspicion. Perhaps the Minister is waiting for permission to release that secret clause along with the secret dossier.

Don’t know about you, but I’m glad this guy is only in charge of immigration, not ASIO or the Federal Police, or indeed any arms of law enforcement or the judiciary.

Left with his pants dangling around his ankles, 51 year old Minister is acting much like an average five year old, with an equally rudimentary understanding of his portfolio, legislation and appropriate Ministerial decorum.

(I imagine Minister Andrews' next press release will commence with something like: "nayyna, nayyna, nayyna, nayyna ...". )

Sunday Age ...

Monday Age ...

Update: Just a little mis-start

"Australia will not be apologising to Dr Haneef," Mr Howard told reporters in Sydney.

No, of course not, we never apologise for damned anything.

"Dr Haneef was not victimised and Australia's international reputation has not been harmed by this 'mis-start' to its new anti-terrorism laws."

Yep, just a little mis-start. It's still good.

The Age ...

Meanwhile, Prime Minister in waiting, Thumbelina-Rudd, has announced a $500 M plan to help on the supply-side of the housing market. Bizarrely, local governments would via to get their grubby little hands on the money, through which they would, by some market miracle, pass on some infrastructure savings to buyers of new houses.

Sounds to me like getting State governments to cut stamp duties and sundry other inflated costs would be infinitely more efficient (also requiring zero additional public servants to administer) and would be a direct benefit to home buyers, as well as being more equitable. Oh, oops, that's right - State governments agreed to do that years ago, as part of the GST deal.

Passing on savings to the mug-punters? Somehow, when pass the parcel starts amongst government levels the music never stops and no-one gets to unwrap the parcel.

The Age ...

July 28, 2007

The invisible man

Cartoon by Nicholson

He is leading in every poll, including the marginals, which is the only place it really counts.

In non marginal Coalition seats, the primary vote is Labor 44 Coalition 43 and in non marginal Labor seats it is Labor 56 Coalition 29.

In marginal seats the primary vote is Labor 51 Coalition 36.

Two party preferred in non marginal Coalition seats is Labor 52 Coalition 48.

Non marginal Labor seats are Labor 66 Coalition 34.

Two party preferred in marginal seats is Labor 59 Coalition 41.

Source - Newspoll

If those type of numbers hold up on the only day that counts, it won't be a landslide, it'll be a bloodbath.

There's still around four months to go before we go to the real polls. How is Kev going to keep up his impressive hire-wire numbers, especially when it comes to the hot-house of an election campaign proper?

Saying "me too" has already become a tired, whiny ploy, yet it's not losing him any support.

Out there in the 'burbs, everyone wants Rudd, for no other reason than that he's not Howard.

It's a flimsy reason for letting a man become Prime Minister, but it's compatible with our increasingly asinine culture, and no less flimsy than people who are gleeful at the thought of the shrill Gillard being deputy PM; apparently her being in possession of a vagina is reason enough to think this would make us an awfully grown-up country. (The US of A is suffering the same syndrome, ramped up 1000%.)

If Rudd and Gillard are to be our next leaders, and right now it's a dead cert', we can be sure of this: tears, tummy upsets, vomiting, pillow fights and grave disappointment will have set in by about the time Christmas rolls around.

Like an icky hangover that no-one planned upon, thus not having thought to stock up on palliative treatments, the country will wake to lurch forward with woozy steps, or maybe even a paroxysmal aftermath. But before all of that, the belief holding sway is that a disappointing Rudd and a trenchant, divisive Gillard are better than Howard any day of the week.

Howard has bought this on, as I've said before, his self-interest bringing down his entire party. That's the dumbest thing about election 2007: people want Howard out, and he holds but one seat, they don't necessarily want the coalition out, but they can't differentiate the party from the man they are sick of seeing, sick of hearing, and whose policies they no longer support (ironically, given that mini-me Rudd has much the same policies!). Howard is yesterday's man, and the voters believe - correctly, alas - that the only way to be rid of Howard is to be rid of his party.

Having already set the course, Howard increasingly gives the impression of a man trying to lose (as if the loss is not already writ large), shoring up to ensure an already certain failure. Making a grab for a sundry range of state powers in the run up to a Federal election is like a man looking to go out with as much bluster as he can muster.

It's not as though his centrist ideology isn't known, but this might not be the time to be splashing it about like a drunk with a super sized cask of cheap wine.

He hammered in another nail during the week by "assuring" voters that he would serve at least two years if he won the election. In other words, the bugger is never going to go away, on any terms other than being booted by the public. He also handed the ALP 25 free kicks, with the obvious election adverts already writing themselves. (Exhibit A - "Do you want another three years of this man?" Exhibit B: Juxtaposed pictures of Howard and Costello, and perhaps a few other faces, raising the "scary" doubt over who will be PM if the coalition wins, as if party leaders are never allowed to retired - yet we've seen numerous elegant fox-trot hand-overs at the state level.)

In the meantime, Rudd has his strategy for staying the course: make himself so small that we can't see him at all.

Rudd is becoming the invisible man. By the time the election comes around he'll be about the size of Thumbelina. Rudd is turning himself into the anti-colossus. Whatever it takes, no matter how small he has to become, winning is everything.

The question that should be asked is not why we would want such a person as the leader of our fine little country, but rather, when the deed is done, and when Rudd is dunked in water to grow back to full size, what will be his true colors, what will we think when his intentions are finally unveiled, post election win?

It's not that Rudd isn't genuinely bipartisan, goodness knows he's probably more conservative than Howard. But tucked somewhere into the folds of his warm brown cardigan there must be a few big issues uniquely his own, other than wanting unionists to stop swearing. He whimps-out by not pushing his own barrow, hardly the image you want of a leader.

More colorful than anything Rudd could potentially reveal though will be the internal and ALP-union cat-fights that will break out all over the country if Rudd romps it in. Right now they all smell victory, so a suffocating self-discipline is descending. All that repression would likely see Rudd spending more time refereeing in-fighting than running the country; he would have his hands full keeping the support of his own side. Oh, and let's not forget some inevitable warring with his state counterparts, who are already showing signs of being feisty, possibly even defiant, even in the face of a Rudd win.

I guess there's still a chance they will piss it all away during the campaign, which is sure to be a vigorous affair. Or maybe even via unintended consequences of expedient, but morally reprehensible, preference deals. The latter seems less likely though, given the ALP primary vote is riding high.

What about the ALP ministers? They've been nobbled. Don't expect to hear much of anything from them until after the election results are in.

Which leads us back to wondering what Thumbelina-Rudd stands for? Not much, by the looks of things. Certainly not justice, human rights, old growth forests, or state rights. He has some half-arsed concerns about petrol and grocery prices, troops in Iraq (but no action plan), a raft of meaningless and economically damaging greenhouse gas reduction strategies, and an industrial relations plan that will very likely be binned as "too hard" if they get into office. So much for convictions.

The Thumbelina PM or more of Howard? What a choice, hey.

July 27, 2007

Oooops

We all forgot, even me.

Yes, two whole years, pounding away at the keyboard, trying to eke out a little place - extraordinarily little, as it turns out - in the metaverse.


So, happy second anniversary to me and my Briefs!!


(Thanks to
Drunka, aka jgm, aka John.G.Martin, of Denver infamy, for kindly remembering. Bet he's the sort of bloke who even remembers the dog's birthday.)

Duck Friday

July 26, 2007

Le'ts Keep the People Out of It

Someone with self-described authority is telling us that there is a growing backlash against the populism of the Internet.

In a new book, The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet Is Killing Our Culture, author Andrew Keen laments that by pushing amateurs of all kinds to the fore the Internet:

“is undermining truth, souring civic discourse, and belittling expertise, experience and talent.”

No confirmation yet if those with experience, talent, expertise, and in possession of both civil discourse and a personal conduit to truth, were born that way; nor if the remainder were foolish enough to have taken a too shallow dip into the collective ancestral gene pool that would otherwise have permitted one entrée to full and vigorous participation in local and global society, as if one was, in some small way, actually worthy of such a thing.

July 25, 2007

Spin, Spite or Spittle?

Brit Brit volunteered for an exclusive photo-op and interview with America’s OK magazine, which was conducted some time after shooting her new video and doing some shopping.

The video director (or someone) said that Brit Brit worked “really hard”. Good for her.

Some random sales people said that that Brit Brit was “really sweet”. Good for her.

Seems all that hard work and sweetness caused a meltdown by the time OK mag got their little hands on her, or so they're sayin'.

This is supposedly the cover for the yet to be released OK mag Brit Brit exclusive. Shocking hey? Come on, you’re shocked out of your tiny little mind, right? Wow, I've never seen such a hideous photo in my entire life. Brit Brit looks like a walking catastrophe, yeah?

Well, maybe not quite.

The story is so over the top it stretches both credulity and couture.

All the same, let’s press on, shall we? (What the heck.)

The photo shoot allegedly went so badly that "even photoshop" couldn't rescue the results. That would be the very same photoshop that can make every celebrity and every nobody in the world look 20 pounds lighter, 15 years younger and 65 times more gorgeous than their mirror would suggest. Yes, even that photoshop could do nothing to help a 25 year old scubber scrub up while draped in Chanel.

First photographic evidence of the disaster in the making are shown below.

Aarhh my gawd! Run for your lives! Isn't this the most hideous celebrity meltdown you've ever seen? Don't you just want to tear your hair-extensions out at the horror, the horror, the horror of it all? Yes, this is allegedly the setting for the frightening and "career destroying" photo's of Brit Brit. (What, she has a career now? When did that happen?)
Let's ignore the snarky rumor that the current OK editor might be fired some day soon. No editor would would make up deranged stories just to sell an extra couple of copies of their mag or to save their own arse. Besides, who would need to when you can just park yourself at a police station and wait for celebutards to be arrested, ya know? Or easier still, wait for Brit Brit to stumble into a hairdressing salon in the middle of the night.

Apart from the "career destroying" pics, OK are claiming that the "interview" (what interview?) will leave the world shocked and awed and .... again ... kill Brit Brit's career.

Heck, I'm awed by the brute power that OK magazine has over anyone's career!

(This is the same mag that only weeks ago spent $400 K to buy pics of Nick Lachey and his girlfriend having sex in a hot tub (or somewhere equally unoriginal) - not to print them, but so as to get them "off the market", lest Nick's "squeaky clean image" be tainted. Who knew he had an image?)

In short, Brit Brit turned up to the photo shoot / interview three hours late, then proceeded to have a “meltdown”. At one point her eyes rolled back in her head causing her to "look half dead". Her mood was erratic. She took 'frequent bathroom breaks'. She was “completely paranoid”. She ordered some fried chicken and after eating it she wiped her hands on a several thousand dollar Gucci dress, staining it with grease. One of her dogs pooped all over the floor and Brit used a Chanel dress to clean it up. Brit Brit refused to let the hired stylists and makeup artists do their stuff on her hair and face. She touched herself inappropriately. She spoke in baby talk. She went to the toilet without closing the door. She ran off with $20 K's worth of clothing provided for the photo shoot.

I'm impressed: Britney cleaned up the doggy poop herself, not calling upon any of the minions for assistance. Hey, say what you will about her, but being a Mum has clearly taught Brit Brit to take responsibility. Good for her.

Other online gossip news outlets have been playing 'truth or dare' with OK mag, saying they don't "have the guts" to print the "true" story. Humongous surprise then, after the entire "story" has been leaked, and days of gut-wrenching hand-wringing, OK mag claim they are going with the "real" story, not a sanitized version.

Boy the pics had better be something far more scary than the cover shot, because if OK are already taking bows and awarding themselves kudos for "killing" Brit Brit's career, they are under the hammer to deliver.

After all, this is the woman who has shown the entire world her va-jay-jay, who shaved her head in front of a camera clicking audience, who beat the crap out of a car in her well documented umbrella attack, and much, much more.

If OK mag have something, anything at all, it has to top the crazy Brit Brit that we've already seem, 'kay? It will need to be mega-insane.

I also want photographic evidence of the greasy Gucci gown and the poop covered Chanel frock. I mean it: I want proof y'all.

Brit Brit doesn't exactly abseil over the cutting edge of ladylike decorum or modern etiquette, but if you're going to make statements that someone is this crazy, and if you claim that you're going to run "horrifying" photos, you have to deliver, big time.

Otherwise someone might be said to be out of control y'all, but this time it might not be Brit Brit.

P.S: I'm looking forward to reading explanation of how Brit Brit sat in the middle of all the worker-bees to use the toilet, with the door open, yet during this very same photo shoot she also took 'frequent bathroom breaks' (a not subtle euphemism for: "took frequent drug breaks") and after each one her mood "changed".

So, you know, y'all, I just wanna understand whether all of the toilet breaks were with the door open and whether they were all taken in the middle of the room where all the workers could see. 'Cause, Brit Brit either kept peeing with everyone watching, or she kept sneaking off to the toilet, with the door closed, so that she could take drugs. Ya can't have it both ways, see what I mean, y'all?

P.P.S: Britney Spears has never been arrested, not even for crimes against wigmakers, fashion or motherhood. Just sayin'.

Wednesday Wisdom

"If some people buy my books for vanity, and then do not understand them, that is not my fault. I consider it a tax on idiocy."

Umberto Eco

July 22, 2007

Wife killer and child sex abuser appointed to shield Aboriginal children

A 55 year old Aboriginal man convicted of having unlawful sex with his teenage promised wife five years ago, for which he was jailed for 24 hours, has been appointed to a tribal justice committee set up to protect children from abuse in a remote indigenous community east of Darwin.

Mr Pascoe, was also jailed in 1995 for the manslaughter of a former wife.

Read it and weep ...

Why women choose to be orange

Research in Britain has found that women think it’s more effective to slap on a fake tan to improve their body’s appearance than to get off their butts and do some exercise.

The study found that three quarters of women were unhappy with their bodies, with flabby tummies fat thighs, sagging bottoms, flabby arms and broad shoulders topping the list of gripes.

Rather than lifting a weight – or two – six in 10 women claim that a fake tan can *disguise* all of their worst bodily features.

July 21, 2007

Tokens of sense rear head in the US

Sense #1

US Aviation authorities have concluded that it was a waste of time to search for the lighters before passengers board planes.

Security officers have been collecting some 22,000 lighters a day nationwide, slowing down lines at check points. Disposing of the seized lighters has cost about $4 million a year.

“Taking lighters away is security theater,” Mr. Hawley said. “It trivializes the security process.”

No shit Sherlock.

Sense #2

Hillary Clinton faces skepticism among older women and those who are married especially.

Forty percent of voters view her unfavorably, more than for any of the other major candidates for president (although they are not as well known). Neither men nor women fully trust that she is saying what she really believes, the poll found.

No shit Sherlock.

BTW - The G.O.P is hoping that Hillary gets the Dem nomination. Their polling has shown that beating Hillary would be easier; Obama, on the other hand, not so much easy.

A good backhand oughta do it

US Radio Host - Neil Boortz:
"And somebody, like I said yesterday, somebody needs to grab the Muslim world by the shirt collar, backhand it a good one, knock it into the damn corner and say straighten up or we're gonna eradicate you beetles from the face of the Earth. … "
Not that anyone got upset about that thought.

No, what gave offense was when Boortz suggested that Islam is a cult rather than a religion.

Now the Council on American-Islamic Relations don't like him.

July 20, 2007

Looks happy, talks sense

Wow – good looking, happy and smart? Would you like to be like Bjørn Lomborg?
It’ll be tough.
First you’ll need to talk sense and you’ll need real research and data to back your analysis and conclusions.
That rules out nearly everyone – alarmists and denialists alike.

Finite resources and infinite demand: that’s the enduring and only global problem, in a nutshell.

It’s a simple concept, one that could be taught to a six year old without difficultly. On that basis, the world’s population currently has an average age of about two years. I reach this conclusion on the basis of the political and economic irrationality and glib thoughtlessness surrounding climate change.

Forget the science. People on the street don’t understand the science, no matter how much scientists, journalists or Al Core try to dumb it down (it’s scientifically proven that PowerPoint slides have made people 65% dumber than they used to be). If you read enough scientific material from the opposing sides you still won’t understand the conflicting science, or the hypothetical modeling. (Prediction is difficult, particularly about the future.)

Apocalyptic predictions are not new. Ever since man and women trod the earth, human kind has been the guilty party. Truly, the bible and Adam and Eve have a lot to answer for.

The left loves misery and neo-Marxists love nothing more than a brand spanking new apocalyptic future, all but certain to destroy the whole of human kind, unless we destroy capitalism so as to save the world. Ah, days like that are happy days for the left without a cause!

Climate alarmists are not sincere, whether it be Al Gore or pop stars and their galloping consumption and yeti sized carbon footprints, or Hessian bag wearing greenies, their motives cannot be sincere when they so conspicuously latch on to being climate alarmists, yet have never lifted their shrill voices to spend small sums of money on fresh water to every child on earth, or an even smaller sum of money on vaccinations for children in third world countries. They want to “save the earth”, just not the people on it. The latter is heroic, the former is all too ordinary.

The little known Bjørn Lomborg, however, is too perspicacious to be suckered by pranks, hysterics or delusional heroics.

"Australian author Tim Flannery recently told an interviewer that climate change is “the only issue we should worry about for the next decade.”

Tell that to the four million people starving to death, to the three million victims of HIV/AIDS, or to the billions of people who lack access to clean drinking water.

Human-caused climate change deserves attention – and it has gotten it, thanks to Gore, Flannery, and others. … much of the developed world believes that global warming is the planet’s biggest problem.

Yet, the world faces many other vast challenges. Whether we like it or not, we have limited money and a limited attention span for global causes. We should focus first on achieving the most good for the most people.

The Copenhagen Consensus project brought together top-class thinkers, including four Nobel Laureate economists, to examine what we could achieve with a $50 billion investment designed to “do good” for the planet.

They examined the best research available and concluded that projects requiring a relatively small investment – getting micro-nutrients to those suffering from malnutrition, providing more resources for HIV/AIDS prevention, making a proper effort to get drinking water to those who lack it – would do far more good than the billions of dollars we could spend reducing carbon emissions to combat climate change.

Carbon reduction activists argue that focusing exclusively on climate change will bring many benefits. They point out, for example, that malaria deaths will climb along with temperatures, because potentially killer mosquitoes thrive in warmer areas. And they would be right. But it’s not as simple as the bumper sticker slogan “Fight climate change and ward off malaria.”

If America and Australia are somehow inspired by the Live Earth concerts to sign the Kyoto Protocol, temperatures would rise by slightly less. The number of people at risk of malaria would be reduced by about 0.2% by 2085. Yet the cost of the Kyoto Protocol would be a staggering $180 billion a year. In other words, climate change campaigners believe we should spend $180 billion to save just 1,000 lives a year.

For much less money, we could save 850,000 lives each and every year. We know that dissemination of mosquito nets and malaria prevention programs could cut malaria incidence in half by 2015 for about $3 billion annually – less than 2% of the cost of Kyoto. The choice is stark.

... even if we could stop global warming right now – which is impossible – we could reduce malaria infections by only 3.2% by 2085. Should we not worry more about the 100% infected now, whom we can help much better, more cheaply, and with much greater effect?

When we look at the evidence, we discover again and again that the best solutions to the world’s biggest challenges aren’t the ones we hear about the most. We could save many more lives during extreme weather events, for example, by insisting on hurricane-resistant building standards than we would by committing to Live Earth’s target of a 90% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050. This would be easier, much less costly, and ultimately do far more good. Indeed, the Copenhagen Consensus experts discovered that for every dollar invested in Kyoto-style battling climate change, we could do up to 120 times more good with in numerous other areas.

It’s honorable that the Live Earth organizers are so concerned about the far-off future, but you have to wonder why there is so little concern about the much-worse present.

I don’t want to stop anyone from caring about climate change, only to encourage a sense of perspective. There is a massive amount of good that we can do through practical, affordable approaches like HIV/AIDS education, malaria prevention, and the provision of micro-nutrients or clean water.

This is the message I would like to ring out: we should focus on the best ideas first."

Bjørn Lomborg has a new book coming out sometime, called Cool It. Sounds like it will make for worthwhile reading, if only everyone can stop over-hyping Al Gore for five minutes. His other books are How to Spend $50 Billion to Make the World a Better Place, and The Skeptical Environmentalist ("... probably the most important book on the environment ever written.").

Duck Friday

July 17, 2007

Let’s Go!

After two years of development and with a $200 K budget, the Sydney city council is introducing the “Go Bag” concept to local residents.

The “Go Bag” is obviously intended for our Sydney friends to “go” - not very far – in the event of an insignificant and momentary disaster.

Many workers carry 10 times as much as this to get them though the arduous demands of the working day. (Our trains aren’t full of people; they’re full of ginormous backpacks.)

Hell, most kids carry 20 times more than this just to visit a friend three doors down.

Sydney cat owners are advised: "you can carry your cat in a cotton pillow case". (I'd suggest the same for small children and politicians.)

While city workers should pack important items into a "grab and go" drawer. (Close your eyes and picture that, just for a moment.)

I guess our Sydney friends will be counting on improvising their survival techniques, with endlessly imaginative use of sunblock, toilet paper and cats in cotton pillow cases.

Sydney Morning Herald ....

July 14, 2007

He has landed

Having been greeted at LA airport by 16,000 photographers and assorted fans, the Beckham family have officially become USA residents.

Head of the household, David, was again feted by squillions of photographers and assorted fans when he visited his local soccer field to be given a very plain looking jumper of some sort (what, they couldn't have asked Armani, or Versace for something stylish?)

Among the besotted:
"I’m a pastor; I always preach about idolatry,” said Jorge Del Toro, a Galaxy season-ticket holder. “I have qualms about being here, but he’s David Beckham."

"Pablo Ruiz, a Galaxy season-ticket holder, canceled three meetings Friday to welcome Beckham, the team’s star midfielder."

" Carlos Almendarez, a high school counselor, flew in from San Francisco, and he is not even much of a Beckham fan."

"Jeff and Teri Miller, season-ticket holders, surprised their 11-year-old daughter, Courtney, and let her play hooky from summer school. “She thinks Beckham’s cute,” Teri Miller said of her daughter. “I think he’s cute, too. Courtney told me I was too old to think he’s cute.”

"Alexander Mira, a Galaxy fan who banged on a drum and wore something on his head that was either a diorama featuring photographs of the team’s players or a small shrub.

“I see David Beckham and my heart is happy,” Mira said."

Offering a remarkably Australian-like level of analysis and irrelevance, the US journalist couldn't help but delve into shallow waters:
"Not everyone was impressed, or even aware, of his arrival. The actor Richard Chamberlain, asked about Beckham in a television interview at a movie premiere, said, “I’m not sure I know who he is.”
I'll take a punt here: I'll bet David Beckham has no idea who Richard Chamberlain is either. Funnily enough, neither does the handy-dandy click and find information on the online New York Times ("no results found").

Chamberlain is an actor, roughly 146 years old, and Beckham is a 32 year old soccer player. The degrees of connectivity or shared personal framework between these two would be roughly diddly-squat.

Apart from that: three jelly beans to the person who can name anything, anything at all (off the top of your head!) that Chamberlain has done since Dr Kildare (1961) and The Thorn Birds (1983).

Then we can discuss at length the 55 reasons why the New York Times questioned and quoted the likes of Richard Chamberlain, in relation to soccer, with such childishly smug satisfaction.

New York Times ...

July 13, 2007

Vacancy Incarnate

Paris Hilton probably didn’t find god while in jail, and you can bet your little cotton socks – based on her uncomfortable silence in the Larry King interview – that she didn’t go to the trouble of reading any or all parts of the bible while she was there either, despite statements to the contrary. Even with her interview cheat notes, which she stared at for an eon, were of no help to the quick-witted one when asked a simple question about whether she had any favorite scriptures. (The agonizing wait elicited a “no”.)

Post-jail-time, Paris has been quick to reconnect with – well, herself, as pictured, above.

I’d hazard a guess that the gossip columns weren’t joking when they claimed that Paris requested (and was refused) permission to have a framed photograph of herself from home to decorate her jail cell. Not her family, not her friends, not a religious icon, no, all Hilton wanted was to gaze upon herself.

Paris is the post-modern-uber-vapid-narcissist, incapable of any other role, and the reasons have suddenly crystallized.

Where once we might have thought of her as being nothing more than the leading member of the spawntourage, the celebutard with the least, the heirhead who has to work for a living, a role model for the photographed-to-fame, we can see now that she is far more than the sum of her tawdry vanity and asinine parts, she is, in fact, Andy Warhol’s wish fulfillment.

Long after his death, Warhol continues to be famous for his tedious films, his mass produced pop art prints, and for his 1968 prediction that "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes”.

If only Paris could tell time.

In wearing a Warhol inspired t-shirt, printed with her own image, there is no irony. Hilton is the embodiment of every idea that Warhol ever had. His prescience was, in fact, channeling Hilton, willing her into existence.

As with Warhol’s art, his ideas, his life, Hilton basks in banality. Hilton is an empty image, taking studied pride in her very emptiness. Hilton is a mass produced screen print; Hilton is a can of Campbell’s soup.

Warhol made a career, in and beyond life, of being pointless, derivative, shallow, bored, and emotionally null and void. The vacant screen upon which content is suggested, fleetingly, only to vanish, leaving a mirror, for us to doubly view the blank canvas, but mostly for Hilton to gaze in awe at her own image.

They also share an unfiltered urge to give themselves to the world at large, to sacrifice their lives, willingly, not to any individual, but to everyone and no one.

Like Warhol, Hilton is pure trash, trivia and plastic, a creation that has escaped creative input.

Hilton is Warhol’s ideal projection, the embodiment of his anti-narrative: blank, vacant, plastic, Xeroxed into meaninglessness, devoid of sincerity, existing with no explanation.

The puzzle is solved. Hilton is the bastard child of Warhol, so perfectly executed that even he, if still alive, would gasp in wonder at the serial emptiness before him.

Duck Friday

July 11, 2007

Rudd gets serious on bread & butter

The man who would be Prime Minister jumped into the serious policy arena of grocery pricing yesterday, announcing that he would give the ACCC new powers to monitor supermarket prices.

The ACCC already has powers to deal with unfair price hikes (though damned if I can remember that power being acted upon), and pricing collusion, but never mind, one should not quibble over details in an election year.

Rudd would require the ACCC to “report within six months on national grocery pricing”, ‘cause, apparently no one in the ALP knows what prices we pay for our groceries. I won’t spoil the fun by telling anyone.

Good old Kev, our would be Prime Minister, doesn’t seem overly aware of a well known Federal government department called the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which has been collecting and collating grocery price data for nearly a score of decades. (I won’t say anything if you won’t.)

Mr Rudd has no idea what he would do with his new beaut report on pricing, stating the vague aspiration:

"It's simply to get to the bottom of what's going on out there in terms of the retail grocery market"

Not because anything fishy is going on with the price of eggs and bacon, or at least not that he is aware:

“Mr Rudd admitted he had no evidence of anti-competitive conduct by supermarket chains and said a closer watch on supermarkets would not guarantee lower prices.”

Kev keeps on coming with those heavy hitting policy ideas!

I’m dazzled.

Really.

Rampant

The drip-drip-drip backlash against the federal government’s drastic interventionist measures to protect abused children and women in dozens of woe begotten outback Northern Territory Aboriginal communities continues.

Combining equal measure of threats and warnings, the backlash essentially seeks to convince us that lifting the veil of secrecy and access to these communities will have a worse effect than letting abuse fester and multiply after decades of inaction. It’s a difficult proposition to argue, one would think, in such emotive circumstances, but placing land rights and old gripes ahead of social order and the well being of individuals within Aboriginal communities is an old trick, which, alas, frequently works a treat.

From July 07, 2007:

"All Australians are entitled to privacy but this must include ensuring that tribal Aboriginal people are not subjected to rampant tourism or rampant journalism - and can live their lives without being photographed and gawked at by busloads of tourists," he said.

"Removing the permit system will mean a free-for-all, with Arnhem Land instantly becoming the world's most sought after backpacker destinations."

Mr Fry said Arnhem Land would be flooded with tourists and backpackers bringing in alcohol and drugs.

"Beaches and rivers in communities will be packed with sunbathing backpackers, four-wheel drives, recreational fishers and campers - at the expense of fragile ecosystems and the interests of Aboriginal people," he said.

"Respect for private property rights and protection of privacy and the environment are legitimate concerns shared by all Australians."

Yes, privacy is very important to minimizing intrusion and identification of abused women and children: this is a universal truth.

Waving the greenie-environmental flag is, at most, a lame token gesture for gaining support from middle-class activist students and greens in the white community.

Offering up the image of a fragile ecosystem on the brink of backpacker inundation is a curious priority to place over and above fragile and chronically abused children and women, who must, we assume, be long past the brink of stupefying physical and emotional devastation.

For a change of pace:

"Another Aboriginal leader wants half of the "stolen" Australia returned to his people so they can establish self-sufficient communities free of federal and state politics."

Throwing in red-herrings is an overused and abused diversionary tactic, and, unfortunately, another one that plays well to a post-modernist white community incapable of applying moral condemnation to anything at all. Asking for half the country to be handed over smack bang in the middle of a shameful exposure of the appalling state of Aboriginal communities is, at best, a stupid stunt, at worst, a distasteful dismissal of the very real problems at hand. Land rights have not stopped the rampant growth of child abuse. More land will not stop the revolting fact of high prevalence of STDs amongst children.

But back to the rampant sunbathing, drink and drug running, four-wheel driving, fishing, camping gadabout tourists: it won’t happen, but nice try.

Besides, placing such far-fetched concerns above the rampant sexually transmitted disease among Aboriginal children is perverse. STDs at a rate of at least 25% among children has a much higher priority than keeping out a few backpackers in search of serious sunburn.

Also on July 07, 2007:

“NT Chief Minister Clare Martin yesterday led growing criticism of the intervention in the territory, saying seizing control of townships and scrapping the permit system did not make sense. She said the moves would not stop child sexual abuse."

Martin's government has decided that they will not support the removal of permits, and will support any legal challenges to the removal of permits.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough provided the obvious and sensible response:

"He said the NT Government "can no longer hide behind the permit system for the lack of policing in indigenous communities. It has failed to protect children in indigenous communities from abuse."

Another common attack in this last fortnight has been in relation to the ignored 97 recommendations:

"Hilary Tyler, from Alice Action, said yesterday that the child sex abuse report that prompted the Federal Government's intervention had been ignored.

"Of the 97 recommendations in the Little Children are Sacred report, none of which mention acquisition of land, the Howard Government is implementing only three," she said. "Clearly, there is a separate agenda — that of land grab."

I'm already bored with the "land grab" cliché, besides, it's an insult to every Aboriginal woman and child in the country.

I haven't seen the 97 recommendations, but I do know that of the NINETY SEVEN recommendations in relation to child abuse and child sexual abuse in Aboriginal communities, a scant TWO recommendations concern men. Seriously. Think about that for two seconds.

In today's reports some new angles are taken out for a stroll:

"The dismantling of the permit system, which restricts access to towns, would make it easier for "grog runners and shonky art dealers"

Ah, yes, shonky art dealers. Gotta keep a handle on them. Big priority. Because there really is such a thing as too many shonky art dealers.

"The report warns that if the Government's emergency measures are implemented without community consent and ownership, there is a risk that problems such as alcohol addiction "will be driven underground and that initiatives to help prevent child sexual abuse and family violence will be resisted".

Out there in the outback, I'm not entirely sure how any problem or activity could possibly be "driven underground". These are, by any standard, small communities, with an embedded communal culture, along with limited outlets for supplies of alcohol, or petrol, or drugs. Hiding anything would be damned hard, taking it "underground" even harder. This isn't like some sophisticated urban cocaine operation. This is rudimentary cheek-by-jowl communal living, in the middle of nowhere, in which even the itinerant numbers are known and their movements well understood.

The far more serious suggestion that "initiatives to help prevent child sexual abuse and family violence will be resisted" is yet another slap in the face to the members of these communities. To suggest that Aborigines are so uncaring and petulant that they would spit-the-dummy rather than cooperated in efforts to protect the children and women in their communities is patronising and deplorable.

"Consent and ownership" is illusionary, feel good, and worthless at this point. It was a nice idea sometime last century, and it didn't work then either.

"Many of the Government's 'emergency' measures to stop child sexual abuse extend well beyond an immediate response to the problem. The resolution of wider problems such as joblessness, poor housing and the destruction of family, culture and community cohesion is part of any effective strategy to stop child sexual abuse and violence …"

Yawn, bored already. See, I have a very short attention span when people avoid reality, and assiduously avoid the problem that has engendered Federal government intervention. I most especially get bored when they parrot the same lines, wanting the government to turn water into wine, and a loaf of bread into a feast, in the middle of no-where. Not a single middle of no-where either, but up to 60 (?) remote settlements, and that's only in the Northern Territory.

I can't account for "the destruction of family, culture and community cohesion", really I can't. The permit system prevents the likes of me and you from going anywhere near these communities, so who is destroying the families, how is the culture, isolated as it is, being broken down, and why, in these far away places, where very few white people are permitted to venture or stay, is community cohesion falling apart?

"Proposals to take control of Aboriginal land (through five-year leases, administrators and removal of the permit system controlling access to lands) are likely to weaken the communities' capacity to deal with these problems."

Because owning the land and controlling access has proved to be so remarkably successful in providing jobs, housing and well cared for, safe children? Is that what the land has delivered? No? Is there a magical target date for when the ownership of land will confer safety, education, housing, sobriety, and jobs? By osmosis?

Veteran Aboriginal leader Pat Dodson, shared his wisdom with the ABC:

"Removing child abusers from their communities had a downside. "Fundamentally, you're destroying families as well as implementing what your good intentions may be"

"You remove … 100 men out of the community, they're someone's uncle or grandfather or brother — you remove a fairly big portion of the community out of the place for arrests or whatever, what do you do with a community that's left to deal with those factors?"

Huh?

If there were 100 child abusers, or men bashing up women, in a community of say, 2000 people, wouldn't most of us feel, you know, somewhat alarmed? Wouldn't most of us be concerned that "someone's uncle or grandfather or brother" is raping children, or bashing up women? Wouldn't most of us be, like, hyperventilating at the idea of "the family" being sacrosanct, in those circumstances? Wouldn't most of us be very, very concerned to see that these men are arrested and charged, and, heck, let's say it: removed?

Let's be blunt here: wouldn't most of us be plain horrified and repelled by the idea of 100 abusers being kept within the warm glow of a tiny community? Horrified at the idea of identifying perpetrators but excluding them from our laws?

It all begs the question what contribution Mr Dodson believes these uncles, grandfathers and brothers are making to family and community life that is so valuable that it exceeds the damage of abused women and children.

It is precisely these circumstances that make the front pages of our newspapers when white urban families are encouraged and supported to stay together by the Dept of Human Services, or whose files are closed despite dozens of reports and violent incidents. There is always community revulsion and outrage when the details of such cases, generally after the murder of a child, invade our delicate sensibilities.

If touting to keep abusers within the family creates moral outrage in white urban communities, how can we begin to comprehend the suggestion of keeping abusers, dozens, or hundreds, within tiny, isolated communities.

It's impossible to comprehend what contribution Mr Dodson so strongly believes these men are making that requires their continued presence. Economic , social cohesion, moral leadership, role models for future Aboriginal leaders? I don't think so. Generally speaking, child rapists don't fulfill such valuable social and community functions.

Covering up or tacitly condoning the chronic abuse of children and women must be rejected, by everyone. This should not ever require elaboration or justification.

July 10, 2007

Doing my part

It falls to fewer and fewer entrusted earthly inhabitants to continue the honorable tradition of actively filling landfill. Notice the operative part of the word: "fill"?

I have made small progress in decluttering my personal habitat, but I'm proud to say that this has already led to an (almost) gigantic stride toward filling the local landfill.

Someone has to do it, and with others neglecting this important community service, I volunteered.

See, you don't have to be a rich rock/pop star with three private jets, 24 houses and 84 luxury cars to raise awareness of climate change. Even little bloggers, exactly like you and me, can spread environmental messages, while emitting no more than a minor burp of CO2.

July 8, 2007

Lying about history has worked out so well

You’d think the academic left would eventually learn that the path to hell is paved with “good intentions”, but they’re a bit more determined and a bit more dense than that, as exemplified by the extreme relativism, moral revisionism, and personal narrative, which, apparently is how history is taught in our schools today.

It’s safe to assume that these articles won’t make it onto any of our high school history curriculum.

Aboriginal violence was ‘sanitised’

“Publishers in the 1980s and 1990s sanitised Aboriginal history by censoring accounts of violence, including sexual abuse and infanticide.

Award-winning historical author Susanna de Vries has revealed that her books on early colonial life, based on the memoirs of pioneer women, were allegedly toned down so as not to upset Aboriginal sensibilities.

"We don't sanitise anti-Semitism and the Holocaust," said Louis Nowra, author of Bad Dreaming, which documents the use of Aboriginal customary law to legitimise sexual abuse and domestic violence against women and children.”

"Anything to do with the abuse of Aboriginal women and children by their fellow Aborigines has been censored out by editors keen not to offend and raise ghosts of the stolen children stories. Ignoring the other stories of the rape of Aboriginal girls by Aboriginal men; the killing of Aboriginal babies often by leaving them to die in the bush; and the neglect and abuse of Aboriginal and part-Aboriginal children have all been part of a taboo which is based on guilt."

Controversial historian Keith Windschuttle, who came to national prominence for questioning claims by other historians that Tasmanian Aborigines were massacred by white settlers, said the tendency to whitewash Aboriginal culture started in the 1970s.

"People thought by flattering pre-modern Aboriginal culture you would assert esteem in Aboriginal culture and make Aboriginal people feel good about themselves," Mr Windschuttle said. "It also continued the belief that the problem with modern Aboriginal culture doesn't lie with Aborigines, it lies with white people instead of seeing that the problem in many ways lies with both."

Historian Inga Clendinnen said censorship arose from a "very understandable tenderness and concern" towards the Aboriginal community.”

Airbrushing Aboriginal infanticide, tribal warfare, and the rape and removal of women from the history books was incredibly tender and caring.

Yes siree, that sentiment has worked out so well for our Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander communities, particularly the women and kiddies.

Speaking of Keith Windschuttle (we were, weren’t we?) …

“What struck me at the time about the controversy was the evident fact that a large and influential part of the Australian academy and intelligentsia actually wanted there to have been a genocide.”

If the state was founded on genocide then, however superficially satisfactory it might appear at first sight, it is necessary to refound it on a sounder, more ethical basis. And the architects and subsequent owner-managers will, of course, be the intelligentsia, for only they are qualified.”

I’m not necessarily buying into the wishful thinking of the intelligentsia about their qualifications for building six Lego pieces into a tower, let alone a “more” ethical state. I think their motive is more prosaic than that: elevating, romanticizing, and infantilizing the “noble savage” natives, while denigrating and demonizing the invaders – err, that would be us white folk.

Why our intellectuals want to believe in genocide …

July 7, 2007

Petrified Piranhas

"In fact, the little fish are so fearful of human contact that while Magurran and Queiroz were studying wild-caught fish in a tank, they had to erect screens to stop the fish hyperventilating (flapping their gill flaps more rapidly, indicating stress) every time the researchers came too close."
Seems
that piranhas aren't overly fond of eating us alive, either. Piranhas often prefer their meals to be dead first, and then they give it a nibble, not a gnawing.

Cosmos ... Man eating piranhas a myth

Lazy conformance offers no answers

One day history may look back on our times to judge us harshly for our lazy intellectually conformity.

(No, no, not over gerbil worming! Err, well, on the other hand ... )

Carping about poor, disenfranchised Muslims, who are so utterly alienated because of the rich, nasty and culturally corrupt West, that they feel compelled to become suicide bombers should, objectively, have been blasted from any sensible debate long ago.

There haven’t been many servile goat herders going into the terrorist trade. That’s a fact.

The West’s simplistic analysis of Muslim inspired terrorism, of theologically driven mass murder, is lazy. Tolerance and integration are empty concepts in this circumstance, fueled by an obsessive commitment to mediocrity, conformance, and thread bare idealism – ours, not theirs.

An editorial in the New York Times falls straight into this void of thought, confident in a belief that only a sprinkling of Muslims pose any difficulty, and equally confident that Muslims should be embraced and “celebrated”. A tolerant and compassionate West, at its drippiest worst.

Here is the New York Times, telling Germany what to do, demanding that Muslims be given their shinning proud place under German skies:

“… a six-year effort by leaders of the city’s [Cologne] 120,000 Muslims to get a building permit for a grand new mosque has provoked an ugly backlash of ethnic and religious bigotry. Responsible civic leaders need to stand up and grant the needed approval.”

Let's spell out their argument: Germans are ethnic and religious bigots. Germans are irresponsible. Muslims are good.

Cologne’s argument isn’t really about balance or security issues; it’s about demonizing a religious minority and keeping it invisible.”

Invisible? Minority? It's is we who are guilty of demonizing?

*Splutter*

Cologne already has nearly 30 mosques, but most are hidden away in back courtyards and factory buildings. The new mosque, designed by a German architect who also designs churches, would boldly step out of the shadows, with its minarets, dome and glass walls proudly affirming its identity.”

Muslims aren’t entirely shy about stepping boldly - and proudly - out of the shadows. Let's also be clear here that the New York Times is not talking about a bold and proud piece of architecture affirming it's glorious identity. That's a sneaky metaphor, a manipulation, in an environment which doesn't lend much affection for the concept of Muslims everywhere being bold and proud about affirming their identity. There is plenty of the latter, in any case. Still it's a touchy line for any newspaper to be advocating.

“Surely furtive conspiracies flourish most readily among people who are shunned and forced to practice their religion in secretive back streets rather than celebrating it in glass-walled mosques.”

Hmm, I guess you could try telling that to the citizens of the former Soviet Union or the Chinese who for decades had to practice Christianity in secretive back streets.

Notice though, how the New York Times gilds the lily by speaking of “furtive conspiracies” flourishing, not the more accurate “furtive terrorism” or “furtive murder”.

As it becomes more evident that when two or more happy, well educated, financially comfortable bunch of Western Muslim blokes gather together, a terrorist plot almost invariably flourishes, this mealy mouthed, apologetic, cringingly reverential editorial is the natural culmination of lack of thought, lack of intellectual rigor, and a preemptive passive surrender.

Where once moral relativism may have been a mark of original thinking, now it has become nothing more than mindless conformance. The West needs a new paradigm, far more than any bold, shiny, proud new mosques.

At what point will we start believing terrorists when they tell us, repeatedly, that their happy, prosperous, and successful lives are of no matter to them, that they are motivated in their choices and actions, not by resentment or disenfranchisement, but by their religion. They keep telling us. They articulate the point without ambiguity. They are already out there and very proud about what drives them. It seems, increasingly, that we are furtively conspiring our own downfall. We are deaf and dumb.

We are becoming increasingly self-indulgent, taking an exalted pride in our capacity to be unoriginal and plain stupid. This is the logical culmination of our immersion in moral relativism.