March 31, 2008

WMD

Hillary Clinton has vowed to stay in the presidential race to the bitter twisted end, and then some.

Hillary is busy planning the first of millions of surges, to be conducted every three minutes for the next 100 years.

"I know there are some people who want to shut this down, and I think they are wrong," Senator Clinton said in The Washington Post at the weekend. "I have no intention of stopping until we finish what we started and until we see what happens in the next 10 contests and until we resolve Florida and Michigan."

"I'm saying I have a better chance," she said. "You cannot, as a Democrat, win the White House without a very big women's vote. What I believe is that women will turn out for me."

Hillary Clinton: woman of murrainly dimensions.

Clinton vows to fight to the end ...

March 30, 2008

Rudd loved-up

"The phone rang in Kevin Rudd's office one day last week. It was Russell Crowe. Well, not Rusty himself, but his people.

"Mr Crowe understands that Kevin will be in Washington over the weekend," said the Gladiator's personal attache. "And Mr Crowe would like Kevin to know that Russell will be available on Sunday if he wants to catch up."

Crowe's people confessed that the star actually had nothing he wanted to say to Kevin.

"Mr Crowe is aware that Kevin hasn't had a chance to meet him before," the attache said. "He thought Kevin might like the opportunity just to meet."

And Rudd's excruciating response? "Excited beyond words," one of Rudd's staff told me. "He blushed with happiness. Now we have to work out how to get the cameras into the meeting."
Read more, including how the Oz gov't is traditionally (and successfully) managed as a never-ending drinking binge ... G'day Kev, it's Russ ...

Spot the difference

Earth Hour - Melbourne CBD, March 29, 2008

(For anyone who's counting: there are 8,765.81 hour in a year.)

March 29, 2008

Human rights extended

Beverly Hills - Billion Dollar Brows - dedicated to the principle that: "beautiful brows are a right, not a privilege."

All of their "brow artists are highly trained estheticians who live for shaping the perfect arch".

There are worse things to live for, I suppose.

Aboriginal voices still being ignored

For decades we've heard the refrain that all things "aboriginal affairs" must involved endless consultation and involvement of aboriginal communities, there must be self-determination.

Well, many of the most respected aboriginal leaders continue to cry out into the politically correct void, begging for help from our ALP government - the same government that just reinstated the permit system, because, you know, it's better to keep abused women and children away from prying eyes, and the permit system has the added bonus of protecting their depraved, drunken, abusers who have a strangle-hold on both abuse and power in their communities.

"Remote indigenous communities in the Northern Territory need missionary-style dormitories to make sure children are fed, clothed and clean, according to the territory's most powerful Aboriginal leader.

Galarrwuy Yunupingu says a return to mission-style days is needed because thousands of children are still going without breakfast nine months after the $1.5 billion federal indigenous intervention began in the territory.

Community-run dormitories with cooking, showering and sleeping facilities should be built near schools, he told The Age.

Mr Yunupingu, a former Australian of the Year, said the federal intervention taskforce should act urgently to build them.

He said any criticism that dormitories would represent a return to the days last century when missionaries ran the communities was unwarranted.

"The missionary days were good. The missionaries looked after the kids much better than the Government does today."

"I see intervention people running around trying to fix doorknobs and broken windows," Mr Yunupingu said. "What has that got to do with the kids? It's not filling up their stomachs.

Speaking in Darwin yesterday, Mr Yunupingu said that he would tell an economic and social outlook conference being held at Melbourne University today that 60 elders of his own people in Nhulunbuy had decided to take a stand against those who had been reportedly abusing the town's indigenous youth.

Mr Yunupingu said he would also tell the Melbourne conference that other Aboriginal groups should agree to signing over their land to the Government in 99-year leases, as he has done with land at Ski Beach near Nhulunbuy.

"This is about locking in the Government to provide the same services that it provides in other towns and suburbs," he said.

"This is about ensuring communities get basic services like roads, houses, clinics, water, power and other things … I am stuck with a 99-year lease and I'm happy about it and other communities should be doing the same thing."

(Yes, the white abusers should be identified and removed, but the Aboriginal communities also need to stop protecting the majority of abusers - their own menfolk, and boys, who learn everything they know from those fatally flawed role models.)

Bring back the missions plea from NT leader ...

A question of experience

A tale of two Senators - productivity and experience:

Exhibit A

Senator Clinton, who served just one full term of 6 years and another year campaigning, managed to author and pass into law 20 twenty pieces of legislation in all of her six years.

Among her bills are: 4
to name buildings in honor of particular people, 3 to honor the lives / legacies of now dead people, 2 in support of the National Purple Heart Recognition Day, 2 for congratulations to university Lacrosse Teams on winning their championships, 2 to support the establishment of a couple of historical programs, 2 for post 9/11 programs, 1 for landmine victims in other countries, and 1 for declaring protecting part of a national forest in Puerto Rico.

Exhibit B


Senator Obama, in his 8 years in the Senate, has written 890 bills and co-sponsored another 1096. In his first year in the U.S. Senate, he authored 152 bills and co-sponsored another 427.

Among his bills are: 233 regarding healthcare reform, 125 on poverty and public assistance, 112 crime fighting bills, 97 economic bills, 60 human rights and anti-discrimination bills, 21 ethics reform bills, 6 veterans affairs.

March 28, 2008

March 26, 2008

A woman is pregnant

Astonishing: a woman is pregnant.

Displaying the oodles of sensitivity that they acquired at sensitivity and political correctness training, The Age journalists and sub-editors (and their O/S counterparts) have gone slightly batty, announcing, in all seriousness:
"A man is reportedly pregnant with a baby girl.

US man Thomas Beatie and his wife were expecting their first child in July.

Beatie, from the state of Oregon, was born a woman but had a sex change in which he had chest reconstruction and testosterone therapy, but no change to his reproductive organs"

Now, run that past me again - how one undergoes a sex change?

"He stopped taking testosterone injections to get pregnant.

Beatie admitted his situation "sparks legal, political and social unknowns"

Aarrhh, sorry Bertie, dream on.

You fell pregnant as a woman, you will give birth as a woman, and you will be a biological and legal mother to the baby - a mother who happens to dress and present to the world as a man: not the first woman or mother in the world to have ever done so.

Nothing to see here.

But good luck with your 15 minutes Bertie, all the best to you.

Pregnant man due in July ...


Wednesday Wisdom

In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But in poetry, it's the exact opposite.
Paul Dirac

March 25, 2008

Straight reviews

Unlike our local food critics and terrified media, the British press recently had the joy of hailing the upholding of a defamation appeal in the Irish courts as a victory for free speech and unfettered reviewing of restaurants.

The courts ruled for The Irish News and against the restaurant Goodfellas, which had earlier been successful in defamation proceedings against the paper. The Times immediately put critic Giles Coren on a plane to Belfast to swing the newly validated club of reviewing freedom over the collective Goodfellas skull.

He didn't disappoint:

"It is revolting. It is ill-conceived, incompetent, indescribably awful," wrote Coren of his pollo marsala. "A dish so cruel I weep not only for the animal that died to make it, but also for the mushrooms as it sits before me, congealing quietly, I cannot leave it alone but return to it every few minutes with the grim fascination of a toddler mesmerised by a pile of its own faeces, nibbling at it, gurning with revulsion, then nibbling some more. If you've ever sniffed your finger after scratching your arse, and then done it again, then this dish may not be entirely wasted on you."
I've spent my entire life wanting to have available to me the option of reading real and unfettered reviews of books, films and restaurants.

Might have to move to Ireland.

March 24, 2008

Outrage mitgation

"High-profile critics of Melbourne's public transport system were targeted in an "outrage mitigation strategy" devised by consultants for the State Government.

The $22,000 report, commissioned by the Department of Infrastructure and written by consultants Futureye, identified key critics of the Government's public transport strategies in 2006.

"The current context of intense stakeholder criticism demands immediate attention to concerns and outrage mitigation activity," Futureye's report found.

It mapped out a two-year strategy to reduce "intense stakeholder criticism" and convince critics to stop publicly criticising the Government.

It aimed to stop critics going to the media with complaints, by persuading them to go first to the department's public transport division."

An initial list of 75 critics was whittled to 50, presumably being those considered sufficiently malleable to silence.

Guess it's cheaper to spend $22K on a report and the annual salary of a "stakeholder relationship" manager than to fix our public transport system.

State tried to quell transport critics ...

Not our fault

A bizarrely sensible announcement from Port Augusta, South Australia, following an unusual and history-making 14 day heat wave, which set a new mean for March temperature of 39.5C - 10 degrees hotter than the average temperature of 29.5C:
"The Bureau of Meteorology said the heatwave was not the result of global warming but the fault of a high pressure system remaining stationary in the Tasman Sea and blowing hot air across the inland."
Sheesh - it was the weather!

Fancy.

Resume emitting.

As you were.

Meanwhile, some weeks ago, The New York Times got all huffy and puffy over "climate skeptics" leaping onto random cold spells as proof that climate change - more particularly global warming - isn't a done deal.

Apparently it's quite OK for Al Gore and co to blame every hurricane and butterfly death on "climate change", but when the skeptics try the same trick their anecdotal evidence must be publicly scrutinized and ridiculed, unlike the former, which is taken in the butt, much in the way of a shot of penicillin, reasons for which remain in-confidence between the patient and the doctor.
"Climate skeptics typically take a few small pieces of the puzzle to debunk global warming, and ignore the whole picture that the larger science community sees by looking at all the pieces," said Ignatius G. Rigor, a climate scientist at the Polar Science Center of the University of Washington in Seattle."
Yeah, right.

The noble converts would never do anything so intellectually sloppy, would they?
"I will admit that we do not have all the pieces," Dr. Rigor said, "but as the I.P.C.C. reports, the preponderance of evidence suggests that global warming is real." As for the Arctic, he said, "Yes, this year's winter ice extent is higher than last year's, but it is still lower than the long-term mean."
*Cough*
"Dr. Rigor said next summer's ice retreat, despite the regrowth of thin fresh-formed ice now, could still surpass last year's"
*Splutter*

Here's hoping Dr Rigor, I'll keep my fingers crossed for you.

"Michael E. Schlesinger [a climate change believer - ed], an atmospheric scientist at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, said that any focus on the last few months or years as evidence undermining the established theory that accumulating greenhouse gases are making the world warmer was, at best, a waste of time and, at worst, a harmful distraction.

Discerning a human influence on climate, he said, "involves finding a signal in a noisy background." He added, "The only way to do this within our noisy climate system is to average over a sufficient number of years that the noise is greatly diminished, thereby revealing the signal. This means that one cannot look at any single year and know whether what one is seeing is the signal or the noise or both the signal and the noise."

Sooooo, consistent signals and noise from, say, the last ten years might be compelling, non?

While a less than earth-flooding Arctic melt is clearly a major disappointment for many, that didn't stop the Melbourne's Age from declaring that the end is nigh - or at least it will be if we can figure out when and where they're getting their magic-information.

This is their intro paragraph, from today's paper:

"Ice scientists around the world watched with a mixture of alarm and astonishment as the great Arctic Sea ice sheet shrank over the northern summer to its lowest level in memory. The rapid melt exceeded almost every scenario the scientists had modelled."

Oooh.

Aaah.

This is happening, as we speak?

Well, one has no idea really.

I've read the entire piece, but The Age, having started out with gusto and promise don't ever get around to identifying which year this startling melt occurred.

We already know from The New York Times piece that the Arctic, at present, is a little thicker than some scientists would like it to be.

Back to The Age's turgid piece - turns out that they are not speaking of a present melt-down.

Indeedy no. They too are dreaming of a big flush, and daring to declare that the apocalypse is upon us, melt or no melt:

"As the scientists wait nervously to see if the sea ice shrinks again this year, they tell us the time for doubt has passed. Global warming has gone from a theory to hard fact. And as they turn the problem over to all of us, many, such as British scientist David King, are hopeful we will work towards a solution.

"This is neither a time for pessimism nor for denial," King explained: "this is a time for constructive, determined action."

Or maybe not.

This is not science fiction ... (Seriously, that's the real heading: I couldn't make up shite like that.)

Skeptics on human climate impact seize on cold spell ...

Crisis averted - warming ended

Good news folks, climate change, global warming, whatever your preferred euphemism for hysterical doom-sayer propaganda, has been averted.

The crisis is over, all bar a new scientific consensus, which, given enough government funding will eventuate in due course. (As does pretty much anything of your choosing, if you throw enough money at it and create enough greed-inducing entrepreneurial opportunities.)

Gobsmackingly, it turns out that the earth is better at self-regulation than all the computer models containing flawed, partial, or plain wrong data, and their modelers, would like us to believe. Who'd have thought, 'ey?

Last Monday - on ABC Radio National: host Michael Duffy, interviewing Jennifer Marohasy, a biologist and senior fellow of Melbourne-based think tank the Institute of Public Affairs (edited extracts - taken from The Australian):

"Duffy asked Marohasy: "Is the Earth still warming?"

She replied: "No, actually, there has been cooling, if you take 1998 as your point of reference. If you take 2002 as your point of reference, then temperatures have plateaued. This is certainly not what you'd expect if carbon dioxide is driving temperature because carbon dioxide levels have been increasing but temperatures have actually been coming down over the last 10 years."

Duffy: "Is this a matter of any controversy?"

Marohasy: "Actually, no. The head of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has actually acknowledged it. He talks about the apparent plateau in temperatures so far this century. So he recognises that in this century, over the past eight years, temperatures have plateaued ... This is not what you'd expect, as I said, because if carbon dioxide is driving temperature then you'd expect that, given carbon dioxide levels have been continuing to increase, temperatures should be going up ... So (it's) very unexpected, not something that's being discussed. It should be being discussed, though, because it's very significant."

Duffy: "It's not only that it's not discussed. We never hear it, do we? Whenever there's any sort of weather event that can be linked into the global warming orthodoxy, it's put on the front page. But a fact like that, which is that global warming stopped a decade ago, is virtually never reported, which is extraordinary."

Duffy: "Can you tell us about NASA's Aqua satellite, because I understand some of the data we're now getting is quite important in our understanding of how climate works?"

Marohasy: "That's right. The satellite was only launched in 2002 and it enabled the collection of data, not just on temperature but also on cloud formation and water vapour. What all the climate models suggest is that, when you've got warming from additional carbon dioxide, this will result in increased water vapour, so you're going to get a positive feedback. That's what the models have been indicating. What this great data from the NASA Aqua satellite ... (is) actually showing is just the opposite, that with a little bit of warming, weather processes are compensating, so they're actually limiting the greenhouse effect and you're getting a negative rather than a positive feedback."

Duffy: "The climate is actually, in one way anyway, more robust than was assumed in the climate models?"

Marohasy: "That's right ... These findings actually aren't being disputed by the meteorological community. They're having trouble digesting the findings, they're acknowledging the findings, they're acknowledging that the data from NASA's Aqua satellite is not how the models predict, and I think they're about to recognise that the models really do need to be overhauled and that when they are overhauled they will probably show greatly reduced future warming projected as a consequence of carbon dioxide."

Duffy: "From what you're saying, it sounds like the implications of this could be considerable ..."

Marohasy: "That's right, very much so. The policy implications are enormous. The meteorological community at the moment is really just coming to terms with the output from this NASA Aqua satellite and (climate scientist) Roy Spencer's interpretation of them. His work is published, his work is accepted, but I think people are still in shock at this point."

If Marohasy is anywhere near right about the impending collapse of the global warming paradigm, life will suddenly become a whole lot more interesting.

With catastrophe off the agenda, for most people the fog of millennial gloom will lift, at least until attention turns to the prospect of the next ice age. Among the better educated, the sceptical cast of mind that is the basis of empiricism will once again be back in fashion. The delusion that by recycling and catching public transport we can help save the planet will quickly come to be seen for the childish nonsense it was all along.

The scores of town planners in Australia building empires out of regulating what can and can't be built on low-lying shorelines will have to come to terms with the fact inundation no longer impends and find something more plausible to do. The same is true of the bureaucrats planning to accommodate "climate refugees".

Malcolm Turnbull will have to reinvent himself at vast speed as a climate change sceptic and the Prime Minister will have to kiss goodbye what he likes to call the great moral issue and policy challenge of our times.

It will all be vastly entertaining to watch."

Indeed, indeed.

Read more at the link, including how the The Age censored author Ian McEwan's balanced piece about the environment.

Climate facts to warm to ...

Easy: don't announce cuts

Rudd is a fast learner: having backed down on cutting the small annual sum of $1600 to carers, he has now cut dental help to those in greatest need - with no announcement.

For eligible people, the Howard government gave Medicare rebates on three dental treatments a year, which was increased to $4250 over a two-year period at the end of 2007. The scheme assisted people with chronic conditions or complex needs. I figure not many people would be eligible, with, no doubt, stringent criteria.

This week Rudd has axed the program.

Doctors and dentists were notified, patients were not.

The scheme is scheduled to end for new patients on March 30 (yes, that would be in six days) and for others on June 30.

No public announcements.

Next on their agenda is reviewing what they believe to be the over-funding of metal health services.

*Sniggle*

March 23, 2008

Magic plastic

It’s becoming far too difficult to keep up with the hyper-ridiculous claims made by supposedly independent and rigorously researched reports.

Honestly, whether environmentalism in general, or climate change in particular, the numbers and predictions never stack-up to anything resembling objective reality (yeah, old fashioned concept, that one), yet the media diligently report absurdities as if quoting from Baby Jesus.

I fear I will not live long enough to see an end to this global credulity.

Are we really such gobemouches as to believe that Australians used 4 billion plastic bags last year? That Australians used an extra one billion plastic bags, last year - a whopping 40% increase? Or that the weight of those bags in land fills was 22 million tonnes? That’s some awfully, awfully, awfully heavy plastic we’re carrying about our persons.

I'm damned sure that I didn't use my per head of population allocation of one point something tonnes worth of plastic bags.

I’ve always believed that an Australian billion is one million million, not the lesser American billion, which is only one thousand million (they cheat, I guess it makes the rich people feel good, so Britain is soon going to go the same way, which probably means Australia will too).

So, an alleged 4 billion plastic bags used by Australians last year, with a population of 21 million:
that would be 190,000 or so bags for every man woman and child in the country, including all the people who refuse to use plastic bags, or have at least cut down their use, in lieu of taking reusable carry bags when shopping, (which I do, btw, pretty much 100% of the time), nor does it encompass the myriad of goods that are packed into paper style bags, of which I would have a stunning collection, if I kept them all, and many more if I accepted them all (which I don't) - many stores do use paper, not plastic.

If we (incorrectly) use the American idea of one “billion”, it would be 190 plastic bags per annum for every person, which would be 3.6 plastic bags for every person each week – hardly what you’d call a plastic bag pig-out.

"Plastic carry bag use has skyrocketed in the past 12 months, despite repeated industry claims that fewer bags are being used by shoppers.

A confidential draft report prepared for the Federal Government shows that up to a billion more bags were handed out by supermarkets and shops last year than in 2006, an increase of more than 40%.

"It blows out of the water once and for all the misinformation being put out by the retail industry on this issue," said Planet Ark Founder Jon Dee. "It shows that the voluntary approach for banning plastic bags has been a total failure."

The Government has come under attack for considering an option to impose a $1 levy on bags at the check-out and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was forced this week to rule out a levy on bags.

"We remain committed to forging a sensible solution to protecting our environment from the impacts of plastic bag litter," Mr Garrett said yesterday."

Even if plastic bag use has increased by some small or even large amount, and given population growth, that in itself wouldn't be an outrageous finding, it would tend to suggest, unhysterically, that we plucky little Aussies are not nearly as fussed by environmental concerns as *we* claim.

Maybe we just like the sound of our voices droning on about how *concerned, alert, alarmed and perpetually anxious* with are. Maybe we're obsessed with creating the perception of "fighting above our weight" when it comes to both emitting and reducing CO2s. Maybe we're gigantic hypocrites. Maybe we have all drastically reduced our use of plastic bags, but that doesn't support the political agenda - create a crisis and cure it with an unnecessary financial or social hardship, so that the pain makes if feel worthwhile, ultimately achieving nothing at all.

Drastic plastic bag use ...

Trash news

Why so many little girls want to grow up to be either (a) famous or (b) an exotic dancer:

Exhibit A - Amy Winehouse


Meanwhile, at five months pregnant, recent photo's of Nicole Kidman would tend to suggest that she will give birth to a tiny acorn, or perhaps a grain of sand.

Enjoy your breakfast

Planning on having honey on your toast for breakfast tomorrow?

Honey is basically bee vomit, which bees use to feed their young and sustain the hive during winter. To make such glorious stuff, honeybees sip the best nectar from the ripest flowers. Nectar is a watery mix of various sugars, with those sugars accounting for between 3 and 80 percent of the solution. Through a combination of repeated regurgitation and vigorous wing fanning, bees make the solution lose moisture, giving the sugars sticky-sweet reign--and giving you the essence of spring flowers on your toast.

Enjoy.


Moving the view

I admire the chutzpah of Port Stephens Council, dropping off a couple of shipping crates to block the ocean in a neighbourhood occupied by people (some, or many) of whom believe they’re entitled to cut down trees, all the better to see the view.

One local resident Carol Kearins was indignant and idiotic:

"They have no proof that a resident cut those trees. It could have been drunken idiots from somewhere else."

Yeah, sure honey, drunken-yobs keep turning up out of nowhere, conveniently carrying axes, randomly cutting down mature trees, which, by happenstance opens up an uncluttered view of the ocean for many of the residents.

The Council plan to leave the shipping containers in place for the next three years, long enough, I gather, for trees to regrow.

Council couldn't contain itself ...


(Neither could the sub-editor, going by that heading.)

My how parliament has changed

Annabel Crabb is having a fun time with the still newish government and the still newish opposition. Someone has to, since the rest of us aren't.

On Kev Rudd:

"Mr Rudd's papers are fast becoming quite a feature of Parliament's daily main event.

When the PM arrives at question time, he immediately spreads out all his notes into a series of neat piles; there were 14 yesterday, stretching all the way to the end of his extremely long desk.

He fusses over them like a pensioner at Bingo, picking them up, putting them down, straightening them, and leaning out periodically to ensure that the outlying piles have not - God forbid - been disturbed by a stray breeze or nicked by Peter Garrett for recycling."

On Brendan Nelson:

"Nelson specialises in anecdotes; the more graphic, the better. Ask him about hospital funding and he will tell you about the 90-year-old with a gangrenous leg he met last week.

Ask him about the regulatory complications in Australian telephony, and he'll give you five minutes on a guy he knows whose son died from an asthma attack because the line was down.

It is not fair to question his actual sincerity about this stuff; he is a man of substantial empathy for those suffering from misfortune.

But it is entirely fair to say that Nelson's attention is drawn disproportionately to the Gothic end of the human suffering spectrum."

Both via Steve at Opinion Dominion

March 21, 2008

Refreshingly different

I don't know Simon Castles, have never heard of him, don't know what he looks like, but apparently he's a "Melbourne writer". (So am I for that matter: I live in Melbourne, I write stuff.)

Despite my lack of knowledge, Simon has zoomed up my list of "roolly hot guys" that I don't know, and never will, like Beckham and Pitt and Depp.

Simon earned his place by:

- firstly, not insulting women;
- secondly, not suggesting that women are a bunch of prissy, humorless, lesbian bitches who should just get over it; and
- thirdly, providing an intelligent, vividly presented and original dimension to the real ways in which both men and women are demeaned, exploited and manipulated in Western societies (by lots of things, I would add, not just images).

Edited bits from his little column:

"Eye candy is always bittersweet, even for men in a lad culture.

But if we know roughly how women feel about such a billboard, what about men? The question is rarely asked, for a couple of obvious reasons. Firstly, no one much cares what males think when it's their desires being appealed to and indulged, and not their gender being exploited. And secondly, it is presumed that heterosexual males have only one reaction to such an image, and it is a base one.

Indeed, the same images of female perfection that set up average women for disappointment and failure do much the same for average men. Just as the average woman can never be that person in the airbrushed picture, however much she primps, preens and starves herself, so the average man can never win that woman in the airbrushed picture, however much he strives for power, money and six-pack abs. Neither gender can capture an illusion, and strip clubs succeed in part because they sell men the idea that you can.

I'm not saying men suffer as much from these images as women. But nor are we on Mars and Venus here. Men and women are actually both on lonely earth, staring up at billboard beauties, dealing with somewhat comparable feelings of longing, frustration, resentment and failure.

Men, of course, are also turned on by these images.

And it is this crucial fact that will have women saying that blokes have absolutely no reason to complain. And next to women, maybe we don't.

Sure, it can be a thrill as a bloke to see a sexy woman on a billboard, magazine cover, or shop display.

But for boys and men, arousal of this kind is forced on them dozens of times a day, every single day, since before they can even remember. As writer Timothy Beneke has noted, males have their composure continually challenged by a culture of "intrusive images"; they are bombarded daily by pictures "designed to distract, arouse, and awaken sexual feeling". Who really wants that when you're, say, meeting a client, picking your kids up, or sitting in the car with your mum?

A daily bombardment of sexy images shapes male sexuality. Average men have their sexuality at least partly honed by an illusion.

A friend of mine once made a complaint about an advertisement that upset many women. It featured a perfect pair of legs above the slogan "Yes, God is a man". His message to the ad agency was simply this: "I'm no puritan, and I love looking at sexy women. And yes, well done, your ad succeeded in getting me aroused. But what in hell made you presume I wanted to get an erection while sitting stuck in traffic?"

The flipside of fantasy: a male perspective ...

Lies and drivel

Australian Workplace Awards have been in use for at least a decade, and even when not specifically in use, much the same ends were and can be achieved with a common law contract. Just ask any executive or high income earner or anyone not covered by an industry award.

Howard's bastard-child WorkChoices did not usher in AWAs, nor are AWAs and WorkChoices interchangeable concepts.

Last week, in parliament, Julia Gillard lied to the whole country when she treated the two concepts as being one and the same. Her simplification was deceitful, and founded in a deep and abiding belief that the Australian public are utterly stupid.

She also lied and manipulated like a dank fungus when she stated that the Libs had shown their true colors, that is, their intention to reintroduced WorkChoices if they even happened to win government.

Worse, the aspiring fascist managed to achieve these disgusting manoeuvres by proposing a motion that statutory employment contracts should never be reintroduced in Australia.

"The Coalition fought bitterly against this for hours, filibustering, accusing Labor of running a "jackboot government" by gagging their retaliation, and walking out of the House before finally returning to vote against the motion.

Ms Gillard seized on this opposition, saying that the Coalition had revealed its hand on reintroducing WorkChoices if it were re-elected.

"We flushed them out," she said. "Today the Liberal Party had the opportunity to put their signature on the death certificate of WorkChoices and, instead of doing that, they sought to revive it."

Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop accused Labor of foul play and wasting precious sitting time with an arrogant and ideological stunt.

But when Ms Gillard's motion was introduced after the bill had passed, the chamber erupted. The manager of Opposition business, Joe Hockey, accused Labor of wasting time only a day after asking him to curtail the speaking list to ensure more Government bills could be passed.

Liberal MP Christopher Pyne branded the Labor motion ridiculous and foolish, and implied, with his cry "bring out the guillotine", that Ms Gillard was like the vengeful Charles Dickens' character Madame Defarge.

Fellow Liberal Tony Abbott accused Ms Gillard of shrieking and Labor of "jackboot government".

Oh, did I mention that one of the 37 amendments passed by the government- of which Julia Gillard is the Deputy Prime Minister - is that it will let companies re-hire former workers on statutory contracts.

Gillard gives new life to the the words of Larry Hardiman: "the word 'politics' is derived from the word 'poly', meaning 'many', and the word 'ticks', meaning 'blood sucking parasites'."

Uproar ...

Witless and charmless

Stuff White People Like has not only attracted massive media attention in the US, but also gathered the obligatory sheep-following of - white people.

The blog is written by a would-be comedian (I didn't bother to find his name), and is supposed to be satire, or comedy, or socially insightful, or a really side-splitting critique of white-Anglo-culture, or something.

I was struck by its insipidity, and how I nearly fell asleep, despite the blogger displaying entirely adequate grammar and a good grasp of routine English.

I didn't smirk, snirtle, snigger or snort.

It's as if my entire body had been Botoxed, not a muscle moved. I swear I had no blood flow, all body cells ceased reproducing and repairing themselves, my fingernails and hair stopped growing, until I dragged my attention away to something more stimulating, like staring at the wall, trying to find tiny little bubbles in the paint work.

But then I was rudely startled when I went back to read the squillions of commenters who mostly proclaim the same thing on every single thread: "wow, that's so true".

Witlessness has reached a new low. An eighth level of hell, an eighth wonder of meaninglessness. My delicate (white) psyche cringed at the banality of it all, the peculiar narcissism, much like Paris Hilton telling us she is hot, hot, hot, even thought she's not, not, not.


The whole premise of the blog seems to be that something true is, ipso facto, funny.

This, however, assumes, with some contorted logic and a neatly woven-basket of ignorance that the inventory of "stuff white people like" is true or funny or both.

One thing we now know for sure, and it's not on the blog list, is that white people are not masters of chiaroscuro.
Don't laugh. It's not funny.

Even Hillary has to be somewhere

Newsflash: being alive inherently entails being somewhere at all times.

The American National Archives has released Hillary Clinton's daily schedules from her time as first lady and the first thing the US media jumped on was "where was Hillary" when Bill was getting a blowjob.

(For anyone who has not read The Starr Report: contrary to what you probably believe, the encounters were few, and if not for Bill being POLTUS, would have been considered nothing more than a tawdry fling with a random chick, rather than an affair of any duration or import. Let me be blunt here: a few blowjobs that end with a wank, is not a tryst over which to swoon, either sexually or emotionally.)

This will obviously come as a massive surprise to lots of people, but, gee, when someone's partner is diddling about, the other person tends to, invariably, be somewhere at the moments that their nearest and dearest is doing the diddling. Amazing, hey?

"Hillary Clinton spent the night in the White House on the day her husband had oral sex with Monica Lewinsky [while wearing that blue dress], and may have actually been in the White House when it happened, according to records of her schedule released today by the National Archives."

On the up side, this helps to reinforce Hillary's consistent claim that although she was not the president, she was the next best thing - being "in the room" for the important moments of Bill's presidency and being "instrumental", even though she wasn't "at the table".

Having suffered in this past week under a burden of proof that she had bugger-all to do with initiating or getting child health insurance legislation passed, Hillary must be well pleased that there is now evidence that she was somewhere and was doing something during at least one crucial moment in her hubby's eight year presidency.

Duck Friday

March 19, 2008

Wednesday Wisdom

Ask a deeply religious Christian if he’d rather live next to a bearded Muslim that may or may not be plotting a terror attack, or an atheist that may or may not show him how to set up a wireless network in his house. On the scale of prejudice, atheists don’t seem so bad lately.

Scott Adams

March 18, 2008

The shelves really are empty

Oh goody, it's not just my imagination: our major supermarkets really don't know how to sell us stuff for which we would otherwise - willingly - pay their over-inflated prices.

Yes, the shelves are truly empty of the things you want to buy, because the supermarkets choose to under-stock by several thousand units of the most popular items - thereby forgoing sales - rather than run the death-defying risk of having an excess packet of tissues or can of tomato soup scattered about the place.

"Why is it that whenever you go into your local supermarket it never seems to have what you are looking for?

According to a survey by the nation's biggest supermarket stocking and marketing agency, the answer is not straightforward - but the big retailers are keen to find it, and fix the problem."

Gee, good for them. So keen that they've waited until well into the 21st century to give it a burl.

"The Bailey Group found one in four supermarkets nationwide is consistently out of stock of staple groceries, and not just when items are on special.

While Coles and Bi-Lo have historically been the worst offenders, all the big grocery retailers - including market leader Woolworths and the No. 3 IGA - are failing to keep their shelves filled with popular items.

The chief executive of the Bailey Group, Stewart Bailey, said failure to ensure shelves were full was the biggest problem supermarkets faced. "It is a massive problem. It can kill brands"

Not to mention kill a consumer's appetite for grocery shopping.

"While it was impossible to say how much the lost sales were worth, worldwide the problem was estimated to cost retailers and manufacturers up to $100 billion a year, Mr Bailey said."

A well deserved loss of revenue - akin to a stupidity tax - I would have thought.

"Coles's reliability of supply is anecdotally regarded as poor, mostly due to its lack of computer-tracking systems, with which its rival Woolworths boasts it is streets ahead."

It beggars belief that Coles doesn't have an integrated computer based tracking and ordering system, but having said that, Woolworths, despite boasting an IT solution that is so awe inspiring that we'd have a brain-meltdown if we were to be invited to view it's inner workings, still isn't much better at having groceries on their shelves.

Meanwhile, someone in government, or a government body, at the directive of the government, is going to attempt to solve the mystery of why a bottle of coke costs around three dollars in an Oz supermarket chain (far more, of course, at at a 7/11, petrol station, takeaway food place, or sundry other outlets), but only costs half that in the US.

Empty shelves plague supermarket chains ...

March 17, 2008

Democracy and Dignity

David Burchell shares some provocative thoughts about America, democracy, dignity and us. Being reminded of anything that Tocqueville had to say - anything at all - never goes astray either.

"Many Australians believe they know all about America. On business trips they sidle through the galleries of New York, or amble down the boulevards of Los Angeles, and imagine that they have gained some essential insight into the American character. Back home they watch American TV and movies, and teach themselves that American society is gaudy, individualistic and lacking in decorum.

On the whole, though, most Australians' knowledge of American politics remains limited to a series of crude, child-like stereotypes of the type another generation may have attributed to deepest, darkest Africa.

...

Yet this vantage point obscures much of the substance of the contest. If Barack Obama is a historic figure, it's on account of his determination not to be the nation's first black president but rather an American migrant of mixed heritage who just happens to have a year-round suntan.

And while Hillary Clinton is undoubtedly a woman, her rancorous, grievance-based style of campaigning seems to belong to feminism's paleolithic era. If Clinton's campaign narrative were a movie, it would be called Thelma and Louise Go to Washington.

Look behind the identity politics drama, however, and the 2008 contest reveals a democratic culture which -- for all its excesses, irregularities and antiquities -- is still living, and even vibrant. Unlike the sad parody of democracy to which we once world-leading democrats often seem reduced.

One of our favourite fictions about the US is that its citizens, disillusioned by a lack of choice, don't bother to vote. And yet Americans vote, up hill and down dale, for everything and everybody that moves. For school boards, for precinct committees, for police chiefs, for judges, for district attorneys.

Like Australians, they vote because it's necessary to keep the wheels of organisation turning. But there's another reason. Somewhere underneath those layers of post 1960s cynicism, many of them still believe in their hearts that the act of voting is the consummation of the spiritual equality of Americans. How many of us could say that?

...

As a citizen of a frontier society, Tocqueville observed, an American "learns from birth that he must rely upon himself to combat the ills and obstacles of life".

Yet this didn't simply cause Americans to become hardy individualists: it also enforced upon them the importance of friends, neighbours and local community. And so it impelled them outwards as well as inwards, bonding in local associations to form clubs, organise festivities, or provide mutual aid.

...

Americans have been flooding out of their homes into voting halls and caucusing centres.

By nomination time, the better part of a hundred million Americans will have involved themselves, not infrequently standing in queues in the winter wind for several hours. Or they will have gathered in draughty community halls to be lobbied and harangued in the archaic yet quintessentially democratic caucus system.

Last week in New Republic magazine a young Texan journalist gave a worm's-eye view of his experiences in the Precinct 426 caucus in the city of East Austin. It reads like a chapter out of Tocqueville, suitably updated and digitised.

There are more than 8000 precinct conventions in Texas. They will elect some few dozen of the 4000 delegates at the Democratic National Convention in August. They are, in other words, the merest tip of the electoral iceberg.

Yet this year, when the Precinct 426 chair arrived with her sheaf of manila folders, more than 250 people were lined up outside the doors of the local elementary school. Most had never caucused before; some were old enough that they remembered voting for John F.Kennedy.

But there they all were, white, black and Hispanic, college-educated and high-school graduates alike, forming lines and making impromptu, hesitant speeches.

Australia's party system still echoes with the dying call of the old European class wars. Too many ALP branches are private clubs dedicated to the production of endless resolutions deploring everything (or expressing woolly solidarity with phoney liberation movements). And many Liberal party meetings, so rumour has it, resemble masonic lodges dedicated to the interests of local small business people.

No wonder most Australians (other than property developers and union functionaries) avoid the parties like the plague.

We could do much worse than to institutionalise our political parties, as the Americans have done. Give every citizen a voice in the selection of candidates, so long as they're willing to register in the name of one of the parties for the purpose. Encourage them to manifest themselves physically in the proceedings, and to make those impromptu, hesitant speeches.

The ends of democracy are vital. But as Tocqueville understood, the processes of democracy have profound significance, too. We ought not only to be enfranchised by our democracy: we should feel dignified by it as citizens, as Precinct 426's members did. I'd wager most Australians don't feel that way."

Read the whole thing - Why US is the great democracy ...

March 16, 2008

Media sex-up

It must be Sunday. I know this because the papers have gone all cock-a-hoop over the routine process for public officials to obtain a top-secret level security clearance.

"Ministerial staff in the Rudd government are being forced to list their history of sexual partners, before gaining security clearance.

Staff are also expected to reveal extra-marital affairs and detail homosexual experiences.

More than 300 ministerial and electorate staffers have been ordered to fill in a 25-page form and attend an in-depth interview into their personal finances, drug habits and sexual history before gaining high-level security clearance."
Let me point out that there is nothing special about this process, nor the questions. They are not new. It has ever been thus. They're not being especially inflicted on Rudd government personnel. Just go and ask a few thousand ordinary public servants.
"One question reads: "Is there anything in your personal life that could cause you embarrassment or reflects badly on your character?''

Another asks: "Have you ever used, or experimented with, any illegal drugs?''

An affirmative answer to an incriminating question does not necessarily mean security clearance will be refused. "
Depending on the level of security clearance required (and only a small percentage are confronted with the 25 pager and the ASIO check), the above types of questions might also be asked or confirmed verbally, with the interviewer taking notes to record the responses on a proforma. (A raft of forms still have to be completed by the applicant.)

Take it from me: offer up only a small sampling of embarrassing or character damning events, and a small sampling of drug use or experimental moments, lest the interviewer becomes flustered and forced to wave their hand in a protest gesture of: "no, that's sufficient, really, stop there - enough already".

Rudd staff must reveal sex history ...

Spitzer with his pants down

Former New York governor Eliot Spitzer's romps with absurdly well-paid prostitutes saw the wheeling out of the usual pained and stoic wife-by-the-side, and the usual indignant and salacious headlines, including: "Hooked! Sex addict gov spent $80,000 on call girls".

Sure
, if Spitzer had spent $80K on hookers in the last fortnight - a la the entirely unrepentant likes of Charlie Sheen, for example, during his more youthful and adventurous years - it would be easy to make assumptions about the misapplied "addictive" nature of his sexual appetite, or equally and more probable, the especially lewd nature of his peccadillos.

Turns out that Spitzer's spend is an estimate over the last decade, which adds up to paid sex, on average, maybe six times a year (not adjusted for inflation, no pun intended). On that basis, Spitzer has what could best be described as a modest libido. Rather than suffering an addiction, Spitzer's sexual appetite is a humble little thing.

A startled Australian businessman, Karl O'Farrell, was quoted as saying:
"This came from so far out of left field, nobody can believe it ... people in Albany in particular have been just stunned by it. The thing about Spitzer - and this is on both sides of the aisle - is that people really respected this intellect. He's a really, really, smart guy. That's one of the reasons people are so shocked that he could do this."
Well, I
don't know anything about Mr Spitzer's grocery shopping habits, or which side of the aisle he favors, but far more startling than the alarmed and distressed Mr O'Farrell is the revelation that there are real people in the world who believe - despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary - that stupid guys, and only stupid guys, could ever be led astray by their penis.

In fact, it's the poor and uneducated who are more likely to keep their pecker at home, or entirely to themselves, if for no other reason than lack of opportunity. On the other hand, the wealthy and the powerful have ample means, motive and opportunity for being wanton with their personal equipment. Which is not to suggest that the wealthy and powerful are always awfully, awfully smart.

The New York Times, which broke the story, was also gobsmacked:
"The ironies and mysteries in Mr Spitzer's precipitous fall are overwhelming. It is hard to comprehend why such a driven and accomplished prosecutor, who promised to clean up Albany's political sludge, would indulge in such reckless and self-destructive behavior."
Having sex a handful times a year is reckless?

(OK, I know that engaging a prostitute in the US is a criminal offense, but that's an argument for changing the law, for both the workers and the clients, rather than an hysterical damnation of Spitzer.)

The New York Post was apoleptic, requiring the use of many hundreds of words to explain that they are, in fact, speechless:
"And now this: a federal investigation into behavior so tawdry, so demeaning to the office he holds, so disqualifying of the public trust, that words fail."
Ann Coulter, just as besotted and breathless as the rest of the media, and just as distraught by the golden boy with the charmed life being caught with his pants down and his wallet open, tried to be singularly damning, but couldn't help herself from throwing-in a lewd image, turning her commentary into porn cover intro, rather than a stern morality lecture:
"He lives at the perfect address .. with his perfect Harvard law school-educated souther Baptist wife ... and their three perfect daughters ... And now Spitzer's entire anal-retentive, good paper-writing life has collapsed in the horrifying image of a frenzied masturbator. This is the most complete coup de grace imaginable, short of an assassin's bullet."
Indeed, for the leader of the free world to get lucky with a few blowjobs in the bathroom of the oval office is one thing - oddly, the world did not fall apart, the universe did not implode - but it's something altogether more sinister to have a (horrifyingly) frenzied masturbator holding office with his free hand.
Being a politician requires both hands to on the leavers folks, both hands at all times.

March 14, 2008

March 13, 2008

The sin of modernizing sin

Seven is a lovely number, and I continue to do my bit to embrace at least several of the seven deadly sins and call them my own.

Modernizing time-tested sins is a travesty, a sin, might I suggest, in and of itself.

Pride, envy, gluttony, greed, lust, wrath and sloth eloquently and succinctly cover everything it is to be human.

Yet, in its wisdom, the Vatican has finally decided to take a giant leap into the 21st century by fiddling about with the seven sturdy sins.

For truly spurious reasons, the Catholic Church has added a not at all roll-off-your-tongue set of seven politicized and emotive sins: polluting, genetic engineering, obscene riches, taking drugs, abortion, pedophilia and causing social injustice.

“Gianfranco Girotti, head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, responsible for absolving Catholics from their sins, named the new mortal sins in an interview with the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano.

He did not spell out details but said the original seven deadly sins had an individualistic dimension, while the new seven had a social resonance and showed worshippers that their vices affected other people.”

"New sins have appeared on the horizon of humanity as a corollary of the unstoppable process of globalisation"

Well, no, none of the *new sins* are new, nor are they newly sinner-like, nor has globalisation engendered new means or motives for sinning.

The beauty of the original (and best) was precisely the individualistic dimension, the individual accountability and responsibility for keeping an eye on one’s own worst failings, rather than perpetually looking over our shoulders at others.

(The random thought: don't shit on your own doorstep, comes to mind.)

The inelegance of these newly contrived sins is offensive enough, but do please also notice the blatantly ambiguous nature of them, the wobbly, wiggly essence that corrupts any conviction that might have been embedded within these *sins*.

Who amongst us shall define "obscene" riches, and how was this not already encompassed with the blunt and accurate accusation of "greed"?

Which drugs are now not for the taking - coffee, tea, wine, tobacco, Prozac, Xanax, methadone?

Polluting? The train I catch to work contributes to pollution, as does my commitment to having my clothes dry cleaned. In fact, merely washing my clothes at home contributes to pollution.

And, hey, how about a big show of hands from all those folk who believe they actively "cause" social injustice?

Genetic engineering? I'll gamble that the Vatican has a wonderful garden of flowers, perhaps roses included, many or all of which have been genetically engineered, not to mention the odd potato or wheat-made bread served up to the Pope for dinner.

Given the extent to which the church has protected and coddled its own pedophiles, the inclusion of pedophilia in the new list is almost more distasteful than ironic.

BTW: murder is merely a mortal sin, in case you were wondering. Confess to a priest and you will be absolved.

Grand Faux

I don't know how long or far or loud the Formula One Grand Prix was in Adelaide, but I do know that by 1995 Melbourne had stolen the event from South Australia, with indiscrete glee.

It would seem that it has taken Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone more than 13 years to figure out that Australia is, indeed, in a different time zone to the rest of the world.

Ecclestone has been throwing a prolonged tanty, threatening to "expel" Melbourne from his expensive, wasteful, gas guzzling, boy-toy macho-fest.

Reason being:

"The only way the race could stay in Melbourne, or anywhere else in Australia, is if it is staged during the night so that the public in Europe can watch it," Ecclestone has told all and sundry media types who hang off and scribe his every word.

"At the moment, it is ridiculous that people are asked not to sleep in order to see it live. That can't carry on."

Guess he’s never taken notice of the Olympic Games then, or any other sporting event held in random locations around the world, hey?

March 12, 2008

Wednesday Wisdom

Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, "Where have I gone wrong?"

Then a voice says to me, "This is going to take more than one night."

Charles M. Schulz

March 10, 2008

No dynamic duo

Having beaten him up and tossed him to the curb for being too inexperienced, too black and altogether too dodgy, Bill and Hill are spruiking Obama as terrific Vice Prez material.

Truth: Hill doesn't want Obama as a running mate, but she will need his financial supporters and his votes if, by continuing cynical manipulations, she wins the Dem's presidential nomination.

Truth: the very last person Hill will appoint as her V.P is a man who would always be seen as more respected, admired, popular, inspirational - and younger.

Hillary Clinton: swallowing the olive branch of unbridled desire for personal power since the 1970s.


Oxymoron



Even funnier than eco-friendly cars comes the mile high building, which will be - ta da, you guessed it - eco-friendly!

Standing 500 stories high, the building will house around 100,000 people, as well as schools, hospitals, and shops.

Apart from being ludicrously tall, and removing 100,000 or so people from anything remotely related to the natural environment, or even tangentially eco-friendly, the building will boast giant open spaces or “holes” that will feature green public spaces, complete with gardens and trees. Yep, throw in a token tree and you can call just about anything eco-friendly.

This particular piece of human vanity will be bunged-up somewhere in East London.

BTW - I need investors to help commercialize my eco-friendly whoopee cushion idea.