August 31, 2007

Err, awesome ...


A web crawling with millions of spiders is growing across several acres of a state park 50 miles east of Dallas, inspiring both wonder and revulsion.

“You’d have to get a lot of spiders together and feed them a whole lot of food to make a web that big”

*Burp*

New York Times ...

Tepid

Bang goes the gleefully flaunted theory that the anonymity of the Internet turns people into slimy weasels with the morals of whores on a low rent wharf who toss around the type of trollopy opinion that they'd be much too 'fraidy-cat to offer up at a cordial dinner party in the company of their grandmother.

Proof that people on the Internet are polite and kind to the point of absurdity can be found on Hot or Not, a popular vanity site where men and women willingly upload their photo to let other folk rate their appearance.

On Hot or Not, the notion of 'the kindness of strangers' is taken to demented levels.

Even the most
determinedly duffus, unattractive, and sleazy individuals garner average ratings above seven. This is the equivalent of going to work on a crowded train and finding yourself surrounded by a carriage full of lookers: statistically impossible in this lifetime, in other words.

Some guys seem fond of using pics that show their six-pack, with their face in darkness, which seems to work a treat in the Hot or Not world, because they invariably rate above nine.

In fact, pics of people in which you can't see them (almost total darkness, partial view of a small proportion of them, blurred and stupid, standing 100 yards away from the camera) still elicit dazzling "hot" scores. This has got me flummoxed.

The only thing sadder and more pathetic than the obscenely generous scores being handed out to the truly unattractive (or not visible) is the frequency with which the up-loaders log on to check their scores. Obsessively validating one's delusions via the kindness of Internet users: strange, very strange.

[My path to Hot or Not was via Audrey Apple (whose pop quiz report of her most recent blind date alone is worth the admission price) via Darlene.]

Duck Friday

August 30, 2007

PM fails economics 101

The number of Australians living in poverty has increased.

That is not surprising, given the rise in casual and temporary employment, and the “race to the bottom” for salaries that the Prime Minister and his cabinet seems to believe that Australia should be having with our neighboring Asian countries.

The Prime Minister has dismissed the poverty figures, because, based on his logic, employment rates are up, therefore, poverty must be down, not up.

"I don't pretend for a moment that there isn't more that can be done but it's just altogether too glib for people to say, 'oh well, poverty keeps rising despite the prosperity of the country'."

I think it’s altogether too glib for the Prime Minister to have no clue whatsoever about the economic environment that his government has created and the struggles of the low-payed employed and those on welfare.

I think it is definitely altogether too glib for the Prime Minister to dismiss evidence of increased poverty under his watch based on nothing more than his personal logical fallacies.

According to Families Minister Mal Brough, poverty in Australia has not increased during the entire reign of the Howard government – 11 years, no increase! Like the PM, Brough frails to support his statements with anything other than his own intake of breathe.

This is galling and insulting to the two million people in Australia struggling to “live” on $249 or less per week.

(No word from the ALP yet. The poor aren’t their primary audience either.)

Two million below poverty line ...

PM glibly asserts that they aren't ...

August 29, 2007

Wednesday Wisdom

Apparently, a democracy is a place where numerous elections are held at great cost without issues and with interchangeable candidates.

Gore Vidal

August 28, 2007

Miss Twaddle

Miss Teen USA entrant, Miss South Carolina Lauren Upton, when asked a darstardly tricky question from the pageant host, very nearly carried off her imbroglio of an answer with something not quite resembling aplomb.

"[Miss Upton] pointed out the cartographic deficiency at the heart of the world's richest and most powerful nation.

Contestants vying to be Miss Teen USA were asked why they think one fifth of Americans can't locate the US on a world map.

"I personally believe that US Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some people out there in our nation don't have maps," Ms Upton said. This problem didn't stop her promoting the American education system.

"Our education over here in the US should help the US … uh, should help South Africa… and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future for our children."
While not being awarded the diadem, Ms Upton still managed to take fourth place in the pageant, which possibly signified the judges indifference to American ignorance, and an even greater indifference to the indolent minds of Miss Teen entrants.

We can safely conclude that future generations of Americans will continue to be incapable of finding their way to their local primary school, or locating their country on a map, and Miss Teen USA entrants will prosper.

August 27, 2007

"Trust Me"

"Australians should be prepared for PM John Howard to "say anything" to hold on to power as the election approaches, Labor Leader Kevin Rudd says."
Pot.
Kettle.

Black.

Herald Sun ...

August 26, 2007

Who is this man?

Will this story be buried, or will Rudd?

Just how caste-iron is the stomach of the Australian electorate?
Federal Opposition leader Kevin Rudd may be called to answer questions relating to the destruction of evidence as a police investigation into the rape of a Queensland girl 19 years ago gains new momentum.
Read the full story ...

We must continue to ask: who is Kevin Rudd?

Why do so many people want this man to be the next Prime Minister?

Via - Nick & Nora

Revisiting the ALP

Remember way back when, both before and after Mark Latham did the world's most spectacular post-loser political dummy-spit, and the ALP gnashed their collective teeth and journalistic analysis (in all its depth and wisdom) reduced Labor's humiliating loss at the last federal election to that fatefully boorish handshake?

Seems forever ago, doesn't it?

Ah for the good old days. At least there was color and movement.

Here's what one ALP thinker had to say after the last federal election:

[I don't know who; I didn't keep that bit, although it may have been Tanner. I don't know when or what paper; I didn't keep that bit either.]
"Last-minute announcements that have no connection with Labor's earlier positioning simply invite voters to question our sincerity. Our key policy announcements must reflect at least two years of hard work and advocacy, not gimmicks and giveaways. [Hello Julia and Medicare Gold! Hello Kev-07 and mega-medical centres!]

"More coherent and focused election commitments are a central element in rebuilding our economic credibility and connects with a message on tax - that the tax burden in overall terms is too high and Labor's bias is to reducing it, not increasing it."
I know we're not within the campaign phase yet, but does anyone smell that no lessons were learned?

Does anyone know what the ALP tax policy is; or recall Rudd whispering anything about plans to reduce the tax burden?

Can anyone pick a policy, any policy, that might, just might, have spent a couple of years being carefully gestated by the ALP prior to being spewed into the public sphere?

Hard working Hubble



August 25, 2007

Plodding Plods?

I can't even begin to guess how a country can ban handguns and, ten years later, have a rapidly rising rate of crime involving, yes: handguns!

In Australia, our gun laws are such that most average people intent on violence or the odd killing has to resort to using a fork stolen from McDonald's, or their child's hoola-hoop. The really keen spend six months fashioning a sharp implement from a large wooden spoon stolen from the next door neighbor's kitchen draw.

Not so in Britain, where a decade-long ban on handguns means diddly-squat.
"Despite a ban on handguns introduced in 1997 after 16 children and their teacher were shot dead in the Dunblane massacre the previous year, their use in crimes has almost doubled to reach 4,671 in 2005-06. Official figures show that although Britain has some of the toughest anti-gun laws in the world, firearm use in crime has risen steadily. This year eight young people have been killed in gun attacks: six in London and one each in Manchester and Liverpool."
Specifically in response to increasing violence and murder amongst youth:
"Mrs Smith has outlined a range of measures, including the increased use of Acceptable Behaviour Contracts and a crackdown on the sale of alcohol to under-age children. The Government has issued guidance to police and local authorities on how to use the contracts — written pledges to improve behaviour — effectively."
Wonder if those Acceptable Behavior Contracts include not purchasing illegal weapons, not firing illegal weapons, and, at a pinch, responsible use of your illegal weapon?

A paradigm too far

For all our touting of the fair go, equality, a good life for all, and so on and so forth, we've nothing more than sniveling self-centered little clods, and that definitely includes the bleedin’ hearts, the hand-wringers, the greenies, the hippies, the whatever’s.

(Yes, I'm looking at you greenie-folk, who are so seemingly keen on drinking and washing in their own pee, because that would sure be a successful alternative to building a damn or a desalination plant once in a while.)

The following alternative paradigm is simple and elegant, and the underlying philosophy could be applied to many facets of life and resource management, but it would never catch on, not in first world capitalist democracies like ours, that's for sure. Imagine this way of thinking applied globally?

In Indonesia, rice farmers have an elected committee, the chairman of which is always the last farmer at the end of the channel of water that irrigates the paddy fields. He can be relied upon to ensure that his family gets water, and so, every one else upstream does too.

How smart is that?

How dumb are we?

Discovery of nothing

It's a truly rare thing for researchers to admit that, for all their toiling, their findings amount to absolutely nothing.

Let's revel in the honesty and purity of the US scientists who are cockahoop over, and freely confessing, their finding of nothing.
"This is incredibly important for something where there is nothing to it."
Yes, they have found a really big bit of empty space out in space, which is pretty cool.

A whole lot of empty space ....

August 24, 2007

Nicole's Boobies

Adorned with baby-boob accessories, Nicole is looking fab.

Rumor has it that Nicole "fully cooperated" with authorities as she whizzed through her 90 hour jail sentence in a record breaking 82 minutes. Good for her!


Remember five minutes ago, when Nicole was nothing more than a flailing skeleton and the only thing on her mind was a desperate hope that the scrap of cloth covering her bony bottom wouldn't fall off?

Here is Nicole, with faithful side-kick Joel, trying to impress the court judge by dressing as extras from Reservoir Dogs. It worked too.

Aren't they adorable? Mum and dad in waiting. Let's bask in the knowledge that, for all their irrelevance, the happy couple are doing a remarkably beaut job of imitating an ordinary young couple anticipating the birth of their very first contribution to the global supply of spawntourage.

Nicole endured her grueling interview with Diane Sawyer without using any cheat notes, and not once did she claim to be misunderstood. She didn't even offer to become a devout Christian or dedicated charity worker.

In a moment devoid of choreography, daddy-to-be and dotting-partner Joel snirtled (vigorously) when Nicole said she "had no idea" that Vicodin "would have that kind of effect". Like, duh, how could you not know? He was snirtling with her, not at her. It was charming.


Not to be outdone, Paris polishes up her post jail-time image by donning a gold swim suit - to signify her born-again-Christian and earth goddess credentials - and takes the easy way out by stealing a passing toddler in the hope of demonstrating the depth of her maternal qualities to eligible lads in L.A.

It's easy to imagine Paris having a lot of Gore Vidal moments lately: “Whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies."

Duck Friday

August 22, 2007

The Wicker Man

Some most unfortunate turns of phrase in the reporting of this serious crime:
A woman set fire to her ex-husband's penis as he sat naked watching television and drinking vodka, Moscow police said today.

Asked if the man would make a full recovery, a police spokeswoman said it was "difficult to predict".

The attack climaxed three years of acrimonious enforced co-habitation.

The couple divorced three years ago but continued to share a small flat, something common in Russia where property costs are very high.

"It was monstrously painful," the wounded ex-husband told Tvoi Den newspaper.

"I was burning like a torch. I don't know what I did to deserve this."

Wednesday Wisdom

“If [the remarks] were off the record in 2005, they should also be off the record in 2007, and if something is off the record it in effect doesn't exist and there's nothing wrong with denying something that didn't exist."

Tony Abbott, Federal Minister for Health

August 21, 2007

Two Stripped

Media group Fairfax have sacked Walkley award winning journalist Jack Marx for posting a satirical post on his blog "The Daily Truth", which was pulled off the Internet yesterday.

Marx was sacked without notice, on his birthday, for a post in which he imagined what Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd got up to in a New York strip club.

For the "offending" post that cost Marx his job ... read here.

Not my idea of a hanging offense, but it's safe to say that it was not the imagined strip club scene that did it. Read to the end - Marx has been done like a dinner for imaging what a bloke might do in the privacy of his lonely hotel room after visiting a strip club; that's my guess. The papers are being coy about spelling out the nature of that single paragraph.

Meanwhile, Kevin Rudd's sister-in-law has admitted to her no longer secret past as a stripper.

"Okhola Rudd, the wife of the federal Opposition Leader's brother Greg, said she spent several months at a Brisbane strip club in 2001 working as an "exotic dancer".

"I didn't need to dance as an exotic dancer, it was just a stage that I went through," she said.

"Some people go through drugs, some people choose to dance as an exotic dancer.

"It was fun for me. I am from the part of the world where I had never experienced that kind of stuff, so I just did it because it was there and it was fun to do."

Husband Greg is tetchy:
"Greg Rudd yesterday said his wife had been unfairly dragged into the federal election campaign.

"Everyone's been trawling through my life and our family's life since Kevin became opposition leader," he said.

"I met Okhola in a coffee shop in Albert St in Brisbane one Sunday afternoon.

"Yes, she did tell me she was a part-time exotic dancer. Yes, I did visit her at the club where she worked.

"Do I think it's fair on Okhola to be dragged into an election campaign for having a few months of fun seven years ago? No."

Oddly, tacked onto the end of a piece about interest rate rises .... here.

This story has grown more legs than it deserves and Marx did not deserve to lose his job.

UPDATE:

If you've always wanted to indulge your criminally-run club / stripper fantasies, here's you're chance:

Now that The Sopranos is over, the owners of the real-life club that played the part of the Bada Bing will auction off the 3.6-metre stripper poles and other relics from the HBO drama on eBay.

Other items going on sale later this week include a pool table, a disco ball and the fluorescent purple men's room sign often seen in the background as mob boss Tony Soprano conducted business.

Good luck with your bids!

August 20, 2007

Pseudo-Confessions

We've descended into trite and boring confessions already, and it only took one day.

Our pollies are shameful at confession and revelation compared to their overseas counterparts.
Defence Minister Brendan Nelson has admitted visiting a strip club when he was younger.

Dr Nelson has admitted visiting one almost 30 years ago.

"I remember being at one when I was 20, in Adelaide," he told ABC radio in Adelaide."
The Australian has used up nine lines to report this stunning admission.

August 19, 2007

Porky Politics

"[T]he Costello-Howard leadership wrangle obscured what was undoubtedly the biggest porky of the week. Launching his new $600 million rental assistance package, Kevin Rudd set up one of those excruciatingly scripted "photo opportunties" with hard-pressed renter Joanna Harris.

During their "spontaneous" conversation that went to air on the evening bulletins, Rudd did a quick calculation on Joanna's rent and informed her confidently she'd be "$50 a week better off" under Labor.

Except she wouldn't. Because Rudd's plan extends only to new rental housing that won't come on line until about 2011. Bad luck Joanna and the other half a million Australians currently renting.

If Rudd tried that on during an election campaign he'd be finished. Because it's those kinds of lies that count."

Glenn Milne nails it, on page 89 of the Sunday paper.

Rudd's New York Night Out

The Herald-Sun reports that Kevin Rudd went to a New York strip club in September 2003.

The Age reports that Kevin Rudd went to a New York gentleman’s club in September 2003.

Whichever way you spin it, he was drunk, there were naked women, and he was on a taxpayer funded jaunt, with a Labor backbencher, which cost $18.000.

Some sources” claim that Mr Rudd was warned by the club management against inappropriate behaviour; meaning he was warned: don’t touch the naked women. He and his little group are said to have complied with the management request.

New York Post editor, Col Allan, who was out carousing with Mr Rudd (along with NT Labor MP Warren Snowdon) says that:

"(Mr Rudd) behaved like a perfect gentleman”

Mr Allan is the one who provided the story to the media. One does wonder why he would blow the whistle on a piss-up at a strip club purely so as to reveal that Kev behaved “like a perfect gentleman”. Safe to assume that Allan would not have offered-up a story about Rudd’s gentlemanly behavior if they’d hadn't gone to a "gentleman's cub" wherein Rudd was afforded the opportunity to demonstrate his "gentlemanly" behavior.

Rudd is frequently touted as working himself, and his staff, relentlessly; maybe Costello was taking a subtle swipe at that reputation with his comments:

"Treasurer Peter Costello declined to criticise Mr Rudd, but said he had never visited the Scores club.

"I find when I'm in America on official business they pack your program pretty full. I don't think that you get much time for that kind of activity"

While Rudd says he was too drunk to remember anything he did remember sufficiently to feel compelled to call his wife the very next day to discuss his "too drunk to remember" night out with the boys.

The Herald-Sun reports the circumstance thus:

"At the time, I raised these matters with my wife, Therese, and the circumstances surrounding them. I indicated to Therese that it would have been far better for me to have simply returned to my hotel after dinner."

While The Age offers the summary:

"He rang his wife, Therese Rein, at home in Brisbane the next day to confess to her."

Not often a man is anxious to call his wife to confess about things he can't remember, but there ya go, Rudd does.

Four years down the track Rudd is very twitchy about the public response to his strip club visit.

"Mr Rudd said he expected his public popularity to plummet following the revelations."

Either he's a complete idiot who knows nothing of the hard, black little hearts of the Australian electorate, or Rudd is setting this up as his fall-back, just in case his popularity does plummet between now and the election, and just in case he loses the election. (How handy it would be to be able to slate blame to a single night out four years ago, rather than Labor policies.)

Queensland Premier Peter Beattie takes a contrary view, believing that strip club visits will "endear" Rudd to voters.

"Mr Beattie said visiting Manhattan "gentlemen's club" ... showed Mr Rudd had "blood in his veins".
Shall we do a quick vox-pox to find out what voters had previously thought was flowing through Rudd's veins?

"I mean, what I think it will do is enhance his vote - show that he's human."
And another vox-pox to find out which species voters previously thought Rudd belonged to?
"I think anybody who's has a few drinks and gone off to a club of some kind, provided they've behaved appropriately, my attitude is big deal."

Note Beattie's gender neutral statement.

Note too his ignorance of, and insensitivity to. Victorian voters, all of whom were given a cold hard lesson in the realities of our local strip clubs only two months ago.

UPDATE:

Will there really be a backlash, or is this another beat-up by journalists with column inches to fill?

(Expect 'emergency' polls in the week ahead and breathless analysis.)
THE political danger for Kevin Rudd as he contemplates his moment of New York madness is that it gives the lie to the persona he has so far successfully sold to voters.
Only last week Rudd addressed the Australian Christian Lobby. He was a prominent member of the Federal Parliamentary prayer group.

History shows the electorate is swift in judgment on politicians who fail the character test. Ask Mark Latham. [Ouch! No one wants to be compared to Latham - ed]
Herald-Sun
A sign of humanity or a serious character flaw? Public opinion is split on whether Kevin Rudd's visit to a New York strip club will hurt the Labor leader's popularity. Of the 500 comments posted on the news.com.au website by 1pm, about half thought the incident proved why Mr Rudd was not fit to become prime minister.

"So I pay tax so Rudd can get tanked and act inappropriately at a titty bar?? Great news. Rudd is a fraud," he said.

Larry of Coastie suggested a new Labor candidate: "Shane Warne's chances of entering federal parliament have improved. Keep it up Kevin07."

A reader known only as Hubert said: "Congratulations Kev, from the look of this forum you have got the pervert vote stitched up.
Herald-Sun

August 18, 2007

Clever Costello

While Howard continues to act exactly like a desperate man (now he wants to take over the ports), the man-who-will-never-be-prime-minister gets the hang of clever politics.

"PETER Costello has moved to undermine Labor's commitment to build a national broadband network by derailing its funding.

Mr Costello has announced that laws will be made to prevent money being taken from the Future Fund other than for what it was intended.

The Future Fund was set up to cover the superannuation liabilities of public servants. It now holds $50 billion. Labor said earlier this year it would tap the fund to help finance its broadband plans if it were elected.

"This Future Fund has been lauded by the OECD, the IMF, which said, quote, 'Australia's Future Fund looks like a good model for other countries'," the Treasurer told parliament yesterday. "The Future Fund won't work, however, if politicians are able to raid it for their own political advantage."

Mr Costello said the Government would introduce rules to make it explicit in the legislation of the Future Fund that no government would be able to use the assets to invest in a particular company or support a particular activity. "That will insure that Labor's grubby attempt to get its hands on the Future Fund will be contrary to legislation.

"I expect Labor to support this legislation because the member for Lilley (opposition treasury spokesman Wayne Swan) has been demanding for months, if not years, that the Future Fund be a 'locked box'," he said."

As reported in The Australian

August 17, 2007

August 15, 2007

Same old, same older

Yes, as threatened, she's back.
Pauline Hanson has applied to register her new party, so that she can be listed "above the line" in her attempt to win a Senate seat in Queensland in the Federal election.

Her party would have the egocentric name of
Pauline's United Australia Party (PUAP).

Ms Hanson has already flagged her interest in banning Muslims from coming into the country and closing the gate on all those "disease ridden" refugees.


Same shit, different decade.

Hanson will be trying to wrestle a Senate position from the popular, diligent and intelligent Andrew Bartlett, of the Democrats.

Like everyone else trying to bag Bartlett's spot, Hanson will be in need of 14.5% of the vote.

Buckley's and none, I reckon.

Emergency Vitamin Injection

Seems that Madonna didn’t eat anything on a recent seven hour plane trip, which doesn’t really explain her need for an apparently urgent vitamin injection right before landing at her destination.

It’s not as though you fall over dead if you don’t have food for seven hours. Heck, most people go without food for that long while they sleep and still manage to get up and go about their business as if they’re fully functioning and nutritionally prepped humans.

One does wonder why any white, rich woman would be in such desperate need of medically provided injectable vitamins.

Anyway, her needle-injecting display on a commercial flight left other passengers suitably shocked and awed.

Maybe for her next trip Madonna's housekeeper could pack her an apple and a vegemite sandwich.

Wednesday Wisdom

"You have to say this for Paris Hilton. She always manages to look a hundred bucks."

Kath & Kim

Sober, but legless

A Japanese biker failed to notice his leg had been severed below the knee when he hit a safety barrier and continued riding for 2 km (1.2 miles), while a friend collected his limb.

The 54-year-old office worker was out on his motorcycle with a group of friends in the city of Hamamatsu, west of Tokyo, on Monday, when he was unable to negotiate a curve in the road and bumped into the central barrier.

He felt excruciating pain, but didn't notice that his right leg was missing until he stopped at the next junction.

The man and his leg were taken to hospital, but the limb had been crushed in the collision.

August 13, 2007

No answers

The realms of domestic crime is always and forever a minefield, not least of which being the politically charged “domestic” tag, or the more contemporarily coined, “family violence”, both labels suggesting that the actions in question are of a strictly private, rather than societal nature, which of course they are not, and have never been.

Domestic violence is the leading cause of death and disability for women aged under 45.

New laws to be introduced in Victoria sometime this year will allow authorities to remove offenders from the family home (such laws already exist in other states, and countries) and offenders will not be allowed to personally cross examine their victims; they will require legal representation for that task.

Such laws in other jurisdictions generally place the removal decision firmly in the hands of the police, and whatever decision they make, based on the circumstances they encounter, cannot and will not be withdrawn.

The obvious difficulty with this approach is the overt paternalism of removing all decision-making and all responsibility from the (usually) female victim.

The approach also pushes the envelope in terms of assuming guilt, with the first decision - removal - carrying with it the twin assumptions that, in the heat of some event, the victim is being factual and truthful, and the accused is guilty (and instantly homeless), with both assumptions tending to unrelentingly flow through the entirety of the legal process.

Far more controversially, the new legislation will expand the definition of family violence to include psychological and economic abuse, and rules of evidence will be relaxed to permit hearsay.

With around 30,000 cases dealt with each year, and an estimated 120,000 unreported cases, the government aims to encourage women to speak out.*

Additional training for magistrates, prosecutors and police will be funded, along with more legal aid for offenders. There is no suggestion of an expanded police force or judiciary will be provided to deal with the potential deluge during the next decade.

The existing laws are, from time to time, exploited by women out of spite, or revenge, perhaps little realizing the seriousness of what they are doing when they unleash the laws on innocent men. This is likely a very small percentage of cases, but I have no idea, and no data.

The flip side is that, all too often, women at most risk are not safe no matter the law, and no matter the thorough and professional job done by police. The judicial system frequently plays a part in failing to protect women in worst case situations.

There is no information yet on who will establish that accusations of psychological and economic abuse have a foundation in truth; nor the nature of the spectrum upon which such abuse will be measured; nor how such abuse will be punished as a criminal offense.

I don’t question for one moment that psychological and economic abuse are real and possibly even wide spread in the community, but I cannot begin to fathom how anyone, no matter their professional role, will provide proofs and determinations of the degree and true nature of such subjective and, literally hidden, behaviors, thoughts and responses.

It will be quite some time before we start seeing investigation articles about the consequences of this ill-defined slippery slope aspect of the legislation.

There are some things that cannot be legislated by governments - many things, in fact; there are some behaviors that cannot be measured in a robust manner, and, therefore, should be tackled via other social mechanisms or forums, rather than one that will, quite obviously, be open to its own form of abuse from day one.

This legislation might not be wrong, but nor does it appear to be right.

*Sorry, lost where I saw those figures; from memory only, treat with caution.

The Auguries

Rudd finally gets around to addressing housing supply-side, but botches the whole deal by throwing in a myriad of convoluted complexities, each of which, over the term of such a policy, would no doubt be subject to fiddling and diddling in relation to eligibility.

Encouraging the private sector to provide more low cost housing is good. Government control over who will be permitted to live in said housing is bad. If Rudd wants to control who becomes a tenant in the proposed new houses he should build government housing, otherwise the proposal loses its legitimacy.

(Think too of the job creation of public servants to administer this monster.)

With their IR and housing policies already on the table, we can expect to see additional and equally complicated and administratively burdensome policy proposals from the ALP.

Fed-Ex is going for full custody of the Fed-tots. Hands up anyone who would have picked dad as being the superior parent 18 months ago? One wonders what will become of Brit-Brit, a young woman who had everything, but gives all appearance of having a magnetic attraction to the gutter.

Insurance is the world’s largest industry, with annual revenues from premiums of more than $US3.5 trillion and another trillion in investment income.

Showing how adaptation to climate change can be a painless and business-boosting gig, the insurance industry is looking set to lead the pack with cheaper insurance premiums for hybrid cars. We can expect to see other carbon-reducing incentives that directly affect behaviors – personal and corporate – to be initiated by the insurance industry. See, it’s not so difficult or painful, is it? It's not even especially clever.

August 12, 2007

Testicle Lockbox

As we sprint (at a remarkably slow pace; more like running through treacle really) toward the federal election, all eyes are glued to the boys, but let's not forget that there's an important subset of testicle-strangling girls parading their stuff.

"Glamour" girl, Labor candidate Maxine McKew, is firming up to deliver a humiliating wipe out to the Prime Minister, which would make Howard the first PM to lose his seat since 1929.

This trend firms up my earlier suggestion that people in the rest of the country don't need to vote against their sitting Liberal members in order to oust Howard: that task would seem to be in the safe hands of the voters of Bennelong. A little bit of faith could see the country having it's cake and eating it too. I wouldn't put money on it, but the option is there for the taking.

Meanwhile. a tee wee catfight (no jelly or mud involved) has broken out between the always groomed-to-within-an-inch-of-her-life Education Minister Julie Bishop, and the graceless, style-challenged Julia Gillard.

Minister Bishop has accused Gillard of “behaving like a "fashion model or TV star".

Gillard swiped back by “describing Ms Bishop as a "silly sausage". (Ms Bishop is said to be curled up in a fetal position, sobbing uncontrollably at the unusually intemperate insult.)

However, Minister Bishop went a step too far when she described Gillard's recent forays into magazine cover fodder as being Gillard's "Cheryl Kernot moment".
The truth is, the only female politician to have ever had a
"Cheryl Kernot moment" remains the mortifying and prostate wrenching Cheryl Kernot (pictured here, having her "moment" for a women's magazine).

August 10, 2007

August 9, 2007

Proof : men in lycra have decreased blood flow to brain

“An increasing number of otherwise normal Australians are shaving their legs, donning tight lycra (which leaves little to the imagination) and clogging up cafe sidewalks every weekend in order to fit into a growing subculture.”

Les Clarke, the deputy editor of Australia's leading road magazine, Ride Cycling Review, was asked why he had smooth legs.

"Basically it's a badge of honour that says 'Yes I'm a serious road cyclist' and 'Yes I want to look nice in lycra," Clarke said.

[Basically, it's a poncy, half-arsed vanity exercise. Give us a call when you've earned your back-crack-sack badge; only then will you look really pretty in lycra.]

"Clarke says there's "no embarrassment factor at all" when enjoying a coffee after a training ride."

[Not for him, just for everyone else, who have to find some scenic spot in the distance on which to focus and avert their eyeballs.]

"The harder you've ridden the more credibility you've got and the more license you have to be sitting around (in lycra)."

[No, you don't have a license to be anything other than a prostate wrenching tosser. "Credibility" and "lycra" in the same sentence is an oxymoron.]

The Age ...

August 8, 2007

Professional diagnosis sought

First there was some momentary noise about implementing a superfluous blogging code of conduct, so as to bring about an unnecessary level of civility to the metaverse, now some waggish “loosely formed coalition of left-leaning” folk want to burden innocent bloggers with union membership, all for the sake of imbibing the pajama-ugg-boot-clad with a professional veneer.

By joining a union, you too could be deemed a “professional” some-thing-or-other, or thing-a-mi-gig. That’s all it takes, funnily enough. So if you’re off getting a degree or working your way up the corporate ladder, forget it, find a union, any union, and you’ll be a professional.

There are, as your little imaginations would have already run riot figuring out, many sound and serious reasons for flagging the urgent need for a blogging union, such as:

"I sure would like to have that union bug on my Web site," said Burgard, a blogger who uses the moniker Bendy Girl.

[Burgard] hopes that regardless the form, the labor movement ultimately will help bloggers pay for medical bills. It's important, she said, because some bloggers can spend hours a day tethered to computers as they update their Web sites.

"Blogging is very intense — physically, mentally," she said. "You're constantly scanning for news. You're constantly trying to come up with information that you think will mobilize your readers. In the meantime, you're sitting at a computer and your ass is getting wider and your arm and neck and shoulder are wearing out because you're constantly using a mouse."

Clearly not quite the “Bendy Girl” she claims to be.

[See, you can’t trust bloggers as far as you can defenestrate them.]

[BTW – can anyone explain the whole “mobilize your readers” concept? Mobilize? Readers? Not computing.]

In seeking comment from medical professionals, Dr Kildare said that the left-leaning folk in search of a union:

"quite likely suffered borderline personality disorder, and were most likely borderline bloggers".

His colleague Professor Clooney declined to offer any prognosis without conducting thorough physical examinations, but was prepared to suggest that:

the wrist ache almost certainly has nothing to do with obsessively moving a mouse".

He hung up abruptly, without elaborating.

[Oi, could someone untether me now. Anyone? Oi, seriously, I'm tethered here, and my arse is getting bigger and bigger as I type, and I swear my neck is going to, like, fall over like a rotting tree trunk.]

Wednesday Wisdom

Amateurs built the ark; professionals built the Titanic.

August 7, 2007

Embarrassing, but true

You thought the coming Federal election was between Howard and Rudd, didn't you, hey?

Well, forget "Rudd", it's "Kevin" to you and me. We're all on first name terms now.

Kev is everyone's friend, and today he launched his campaign website, Kevin07.

"Become a part of the K07 community. Here at KEVIN07, we're doing things differently."

"GET ON BOARD WITH KEVIN07. Get a t-shirt, send us your photo or make your own video. Tell us why Kevin should win in 07."

Excuse me, I need to barf.

When "hip" and "twee" are combined I always get an upset tum
my.

UPDATE: Handy-dandy tip for the government: there's one sure fire way to give Kev's campaign and his t-shirts the old kibosh - hold the election in January 2008.

Okay, so a federal election has never been held in January, so what? Mid-January is the latest possible date for this government to hold the election, and if they're going to go down the gurgler anyway, why not turn the opponent's campaign into something that looks, and is, so last year? Just for fun. Just because they could.

It all goes pear-shaped

It’s a little premature (men can be like that), but the Government’s campaign for reelection has suddenly gone pear shaped. Predictions of a close election result may have been equally premature.

The troops are rallying around their leader – in a consoling manner – as the Liberal’s own polling has found that the voters think Howard is too old and too shifty. He’s cactus, in other words.

On top of that, the Government has had to pull one of their obscenely expensive Work Choices ads, now that they’ve been told that one of the actors was, until recently, a shonky employer who didn’t always pay his young apprentices and who still owes many thousands of dollars to staff and suppliers of his failed painting business.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the fence, new Victorian state Premier Brumby has given his federal colleagues a big thwack, albeit, inadvertently. Seems that Brumby appointed the new state Treasurer on the basis of his being a family man – wife, kids. The other potential contender is unmarried and childless, therefore, according to Brumby, lacking the life experience necessary for being Treasurer. Not the sort of thing that Julia Gillard and her “barren womb” would have wanted to hear from her own side of politics while she ate her Weeties this morning.

August 6, 2007

The Auguries

Newsweek coins the weasel expression: "The Denial Machine".

A woman who sued a judge after he sentenced her to attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings has reached a settlement and will not be required to attend the 12-step program, her lawyer says. Mindy Offutt had claimed the sentence amounted to forcing a kind of religion on her.

Cat owner and family conflict specialist murdered his elderly parents with an axe because they chuckled at him over the death of his cat.

Three degrees of separation

Last week, PM in waiting, Thumbelina-Rudd, told us that there were a total of three areas of difference between Labor and the Government: the war in Iraq, climate change and industrial relations.

No matter how often our opinion piece journalists and our pollies hype it up, only one of the three areas might be considered a voting pressure point – industrial relations, and in that regard, Work Choices may be causing pain, but abolishing AWAs is as stupid as Gillard’s Medicare Gold from the last election. Both parties are equally on the nose when it comes to industrial relations.

The war in Iraq is not a defining issue. We have, maybe, a few hundred troops in Iraq, and as from the start, they are primarily involved with training locals and other useful practical matters related to rebuilding efforts, that’s why we’ve had no fatalities, other than one unfortunate accidental self-inflicted incident. Think about it: we’ve been over there for years now, with no fatalities. Not exactly an issue over which anyone needs to be taking to the streets. Our presence is symbolic, valuable for the work being done by our troops, but nonetheless, symbolic. As a point of differentiation, Rudd may as well be playing handball with a grain of sand.

Neither party has come up with anything remotely interesting or controversial to address climate change. In exchange for what he hopes will be picking up two seats, Rudd has expediently decided to support the logging industry in Tasmania, so if he tries to wave a greener-than-thou flag, his credibility is already tatty.

With theoretically negligible differences between the major parties, a perception deliberately pursued by Labor, it’s not especially surprising to start seeing predictions that – contrary to all current polling – the election is likely to be the closest since 1961, when one seat and a few hundred votes decided the result.

"This will be the closest election since 1961," Mr Sawford said. "And the party that wins will win by two to four seats. What Kevin Rudd has been saying is correct, this will be a line ball election."

At this point it's impossible to predict how well the "we're exactly like the other bunch, but with different hair-do's" campaign will hold up. Right now the facade looks credible to many voters, but Rudd and his team will have to keep mute during the election campaign, lest their significant ideological differences in relation to education, welfare, health, defence, policing, infrastructure, and economics, to name a few, inadvertently slip through the dizzying spin.

While Labor persist in making themselves a tee wee target, the Government will be attempting to find real pressure points that touch voters at a visceral level. That, and hammering away at Gillard, as the link most likely to snap under the pressure of having to appear moderate and reasoned week after week after week. (I can almost feel her pain.)

Meanwhile, Mr Howard is seeking input from voters over the coming week on the Yahoo!7 Answers forum, where people will be able to ask the PM any question they like.

"In what he called an exciting development, he plans to select five of the questions submitted and respond by video."

You heard correctly: the PM will answer five questions. Yep, I'm excited. Very, very excited.

August 4, 2007

It's time to ignore the Middle East

Western analysts are forever bleating about the strategic importance of the middle east. But despite its oil, this backward region is less relevant than ever, and it would be better for everyone if the rest of the world learned to ignore it.

So says Edward Lattwak, who presents a compelling case, in one short essay.

When you consider the column inches devoted to all things middle east, including oil, terrorism, global threats, cultural clashes, alleged repression and dispossession, supposed burgeoning military might, and on and on it goes, Lattwak makes it all look
anencephalous and anfractuous .

His lucid thoughts beg the question why politicians, of all hues, the world over are so cringingly and persistently stupid in relation to the middle east.

The Middle of Nowhere ...

August 3, 2007

August 1, 2007

More sustainability swindling

"[Toby] Heap admitted the power "savings in real terms" were "very small", but insisted the site was about more than just saving power on internet searches.

"The point isn't about how much energy this on its own can save, it's about trying to get people to think about other ways to save energy and constantly think about making little changes to save energy," he said."

So claims Toby Heap, the Sydney-based makers of a so-called eco-friendly version of Google, which is supposedly helping to rescue the planet, but all that's being saved is the piles of money Heap is banking.

"Hundreds of thousands of searches a day are conducted by Blackle.com users, who use the search engine instead of Google because they believe they're doing their bit for the environment.

Its creator, Toby Heap, said Blackle.com - a custom version of Google with a black rather than a white background - could save thousands of watts of power a year because it took less juice for a monitor to display black than white."

Unfortunately, in these days of our Yettie-sized carbon footprint, there really are millions, even hundreds of millions of people who will believe anything, including that a black screen instead of a white one will save energy, or that a black search engine screen will subliminally prompt users into a never-ending quest for other cute and cuddly means by which to reduce their daily impact on the environment.

In truth:

"at the very least, supporters of a black-screen Google are overstating their power savings by about double. At worst, as CRT monitors are continually phased out in favour of LCD screens, the power consumption of a black-screen Google will actually be more than what we already have with the standard white Google."

Yet Heap continues to wiggle like the exploitative worm he is:

"Heap admitted the power "savings in real terms" were "very small", but insisted the site was about more than just saving power on internet searches."

Yes, it is about something more: it’s about making one clever bloke very rich off the gullibility of an increasingly brain-washed and acquiescent public.

"The point isn't about how much energy this on its own can save, it's about trying to get people to think about other ways to save energy and constantly think about making little changes to save energy"

Beaut! Except that Blackle.com isn't one of those "little changes" that contribute to energy savings, or behavioral changes. These are goals toward which Heap and his search engine are contributing absolutely nothing.

Quite obscene really.

"[Heap] said he was in the middle of making "a list of different ways you can save energy" to put on the site, which he hoped would allow Blackle to have "a bigger flow-on effect".

Big whoop.

There are already tens of thousands of web sites dedicated solely to offering energy savings advice or environmental sustainability management, most of them run by reputable institutions, with scientific underpinnings, and even government departments, with authoritative information relevant to local regions.

I too could spend a day collating some Internet search results, and I too could “make a list” to add to my site, but my value-add, my contribution to existing knowledge and behavioral change would be exactly jack-shit. (But then, I wouldn't be banking a motzah from my little search and collate effort either.)

Heap, and others like him, are at the bleeding-edge of sustainability cynicism. They are the contaminants lurking in the recycling bin that render the entire effort null and void.

The Age ...

Wednesday Wisdom

Today we pay homage to Samuel Johnson, whose most famous work was A Dictionary of the English Language (1755). His was not the first English dictionary, but it was the best and most widely used. He was also a delightfully droll chap.

“No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.”

"Lexicographer: a writer of dictionaries, a harmless drudge.”

“Marriage has many pains, but celibacy has no pleasures"

On fishing:

“A stick and a string, with a worm at one end and a fool at the other"

Johnson also coined the aphorism:

"When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight it concentrates his mind wonderfully."