October 31, 2008

October 30, 2008

Thin edge of the wedge

I never knew that two of the greatest threats to all that is good and adorable about Australia are euthanasia and anorexia.

How could I have never known this?

How has it escaped my attention, my daily angst-ridden internal musings?


Don't worry about not being able to access your favorite bomb-making site, and don't worry that your next door neighbour will go troppo & do something violent because he can't access kiddie porn. Nope. Our government will be offering you and your fellow Australians an "opt in" censorship that would cover those topics.

The mandatory - the "no option" option - Internet censorship (or "filtering" as they like to call it) proposed by our very own odious government will block things such as euthenasia and pro-anoexia websites.

The secondary - non-compulsory - level of censorship, for which one can sign-up to if one wishes to, covers access to, or rather blocking access to, "adult material".

Do I need to spell out the slippery slope here, the implications of any government picking topics for which they want to *protect* the feeble-minded populace?

Do I need to point out that this pecking order of mandatory versus optional gives any pretense about protecting children a wholloping heave-ho?

Do we need to discuss the easy avenue for adding topics that some politician randomly takes an irrational objection to - euthenasia and pro-anorexia sites today, tomorrow ... mullet hairstyles for the noughties, achievement of small breasts, vitamin supplements, penile dysfunction treatments ... who knows, hey?

"In response to arguments that the proposal would affect basic civil liberties and the principle that households should be able to be their own internet policeman, [Communications Minister Stephen Conroy] said: "We are not trying to build the Great Wall of China.

"We are not trying to be Saudi Arabia, and to say that is to simply misrepresent the Government's position."
Sure.

You keep on telling yourself that Minister Conroy.

Internet screening move hits hurdle

October 29, 2008

Wednesday Wisdom

You can pretend to be serious; you can't pretend to be witty.


Sacha Guitry

October 25, 2008

K.Rudd is a fool

Still banging away at implementing one of their most irrelevant and wasteful election promises, Ruddster & Co are being kept busy censoring those who would critique the government's planned censorship of Internet access in Australia.

Filtering out the fury: how the government tried to gag web censor critics

I've said it before, I'll say it again: I have never, in more than 15 years of using a PC - with about 10 of those years having ready access to the www - accidentally stumbled across any unpalatable or pornographic web sites. Never. Ever. Seriously, you have to go looking for this shit, you can't accidentally come across a Nazi hate site, any more than you can stumble across kiddy porn.

I support any rational and achievable move to block access to child pornography, without qualification - identify the source sites and block them to everyone in Oz (won't stop people, but at least it makes it harder for them to find the sites). But the Ruddster is a twerp, a blithering idiot to persist with this wildly pointless and expensive plan, which will degrade our already pathetic broadband speeds and achieve absolutely nothing.

Would you

Mooted on and off for some years now, and firming up as a genuine possibility, at least in mice: med's to block nasty memories.

Would you take a little pill to block out something from your past?

What is the ethical basis of allowing people to take a little pill to help them get over a broken relationship, for example? A fairly trite and normal life event, relatively.

Where does one draw an invisible line that designates some life events too painful to live with, allowing science will step in and take the memory away?

(You know, like if McCain becomes POTUS, and 49% of Americans want to wipe out the ideological sting, the offence, to make life bearable for the next four years.)


With squillions of people in developed countries already medicated to the eyeballs, and, one could argue, already detached, their existence already mediated by pharmaceuticals, how much further do we take it?

Oh

Putting a whole new spin on your cute domestic pet's character: seems that dogs might find delight in playing with squeaky toys because, to them, it sounds like an animal in distress. Oh joy.

October 24, 2008

October 22, 2008

Dead enough?

The Federal Minister for Health has assured potential organ donors that they could be sure they would be dead if their organs were ever retrieved.

That's comforting.

The reassurance was prompted because of an article by one Dr Tibballs, who has caused a little angst in the medical profession by suggesting that being 'dead' might be a continuum with a tad too much flexibility when it comes to harvesting organs.

"Dr Tibballs, a pediatric intensive care specialist at the Royal Children's Hospital, said this week that most organ donors in Australia were not truly dead when their organs were taken and that often transplant procedures did not conform with the law.

In a controversial article, published in the Journal of Law Medicine, Dr Tibballs said clinical practice clashed with the law, which says organs can be taken from a donor when they have either irreversible cessation of all functions of their brain or irreversible cessation of blood circulation.

He said guidelines used to diagnose brain death and cardiac death (cessation of blood circulation) could not prove irreversible cessation and that some interventions to ensure the viability of organs could actually harm or cause the death of a donor. "The question of when is it permissible to retrieve organs is now phrased not in terms of whether death is present or not, but rather 'how dead is enough'," he said.

Dr Tibballs said clinical guidelines commonly used to diagnose brain death could not prove irreversible cessation of all brain function, and that the concept of brain death introduced into Australian law in 1977 was a "convenient fiction" that had allowed the development of organ transplantation.

Dr Tibballs also argued that when organs were taken after cardiac death (defined as the absence of blood circulation) it was usually done when the heart failed to restart itself for two minutes, not when proven "irreversible cessation" of its function had occurred.

This two-minute time limit was set partly because there is a limited time for organs to remain viable when someone is dying, he said.

Furthermore, Dr Tibballs said some interventions to ensure the viability of organs could actually harm or cause the death of the donor.

Despite donors being told by government organisations that they will be "brain dead" when their organs are taken, Dr Tibballs said donors were usually very close to death with no chance of survival during organ procurement."

Donors not truly "dead" when organs removed

Canberra rejects organs review call

Wednesday Wisdom

The folly of mistaking a paradox for a discovery, a metaphor for a proof, a torrent of verbiage for a spring of capital truths, and oneself for an oracle, is inborn in us.


Paul Valery

October 21, 2008

Solving the housing problem

Newly anointed doomsayer economist of the nanosecond has put his own home up for sale, and mostly believes others should sell their homes too, so as to avoid the pending 40% drop in property values.

Err, I'm obviously a bit stupid, and obviously not an economist: while a flood of homes into the market would be great for first home buyers and great for the less-than-rich, wouldn't that be a cause of home prices dropping precipitously?

Being equally stupid, and equally not an economist: once all the houses are sold, so as to avoid taking a hit from the loss of value, where are all of those newly minted renters going to put their cash - into the share market, perhaps?

Doomsayer gets instant fame

October 20, 2008

Arrhh ... smoke & mirrors of the CPI

We, the public, have long known - factually, not mere perception - that the CPI never has a ring of authenticity.

Anyone who buys the occasional basket of groceries, or buys shoes, clothes and stuff for themselves or their children knows that prices keep shooting ahead of anything resembling the tee wee CPI figure released by the ABS every quarter.

Finally, in simple language that we can almost understand, The Age explains "why is it so", because, yes, yes indeed, it really is so!

While the article is focused on the billions of dollars foregone by those receiving benefits, because of a contorted approach to measuring the CPI, it would have been nice to see a broader brush applied, to remind the punters that they are not losing their minds after all, and to acknowledge that this appalling piece of deception hurts every person in the country, in real dollars (what about workers whose pay increase is often tied to the CPI, even if only as a benchmark?), and psychologically (how many of us feel a tad inadequate when we seemingly buy less, spend more, and are told by our government that the CPI isn't hurting a bit?).

Sure, it's a longish piece, and a bit dry, but it should be - and won't be - mandatory reading for every adult in the country.

Then we should tell the fucking government to stop this smary, smart arsed practice.

Pensioners ripped off

October 19, 2008

Mean Guy

He might not want her money - he has plenty of his own - but Guy Richie wants custody of his son, so Madonna's lawyers are busy compiling a dirt file to demonstrate Richie's vile, monster-like husbanding qualities and general unfitness as a human.

In what might turn out to be one of the most hilarious celeb divorces in history, Madonna is claiming that Richie was a cruel, nasty, insulting bastard who undermined her self-esteem. (*Splutter*)

To date, the dirt file is bulging with scuz-baggery things that Richie said to Mads during their eight year marriage, such as:

- he allegedly told Madonna that she couldn't act
- he allegedly told Madonna that she looked like a granny compared to her backing dancers
- there were even times when (can you believe it?) Richie would ridicule Madonna's sense of humour.

Richie's lawyers will sure have to work hard to defend such ugly claims.

I want my parallel universe now!

Dang it, I might not live long enough to learn the truth of parallel universes, at least if I believe Michio Kaku, who writes of such things in his book Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration of the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation and Time Travel.

Essentially, Kaku attempts to build a case for humans achieving Arthur C. Clarke’s 3rd law: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Kaku shows how the terrain of the impossible is being systematically conquered by science, although, as I understand it, he fails to explain why we aren't all wearing silver jump suits and zipping around in personal pods.

Kaku classifies various fantastical ideas into three ranges of time for when we will see them. "We" being used rather loosely, since "we" won't be here ... even botox and filler won't hold out that long.

Class 1 Impossibilities: technology that is not possible today but within the realm of physics. These are possible within a century or two. In this class, Kaku lists force-fields, invisibility, phasers and death-stars, teleportation, telepathy, psychokinesis, robots, ETs and UFOs, starships, antimatter and anti-universes.

Class 2 Impossibilities: Technology that lies on the cusp of our knowledge of physics. These are possible perhaps within millennia or millions of years. In this class, we find faster than light travel, time-travel, and parallel universes.

Class 3 Impossibilities: Technology that violates known physical laws. Here we find perpetual-motion machines and precognition. That’s it, only two.

Amazon

In case you've forgotten the other two of Clarke's three laws of prediction (surely not, hmm?):

  1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
  2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
  3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

October 17, 2008

Laughter & Forgetting

WASHINGTON—In a nationally televised address to the American people Wednesday night, President Bush called upon every man, woman, and child to spiral uncontrollably downward into complete and utter panic.

Speaking from the Oval Office, Bush assured citizens that in these times of great uncertainty, the best and only course of action is to come under the throes of a sudden, overwhelming fear marked by hysterical or irrational behavior.

"My fellow Americans, the time for running aimlessly through streets while shrieking and waving our arms above our heads is now," Bush said. "I understand that many of you are worried about your economic future and our situation overseas, and you have every right to be. Yet there is only one thing we as a nation can do in times like these: give up all hope and devolve into a lawless, post-apocalyptic, every-man-for-himself society."

Bush Calls for Panic

Duck Friday

October 15, 2008

Wednesday Wisdom

We are alone, absolutely alone on this chance planet: and, amid all the forms of life that surround us, not one, excepting the dog, has made an alliance with us.

Maurice Maeterlinck

October 11, 2008

Palin into oblivion

An investigation had found that GOP vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin abused her position as Alaska governor by pressuring officials to sack a state trooper once married to her sister.

A 263-page report released by Alaska's Legislative Council concludes that Palin violated state ethics rules governing public officials.

Anyone want to start taking election outcome bets?

I'm suddenly up for it.

An ode to Father Park

Gambrinous means full of beer, which is after Gambrinus, the mythical king of Flanders thought to have invented beer.


October 10, 2008

October 8, 2008

Mr & Mrs PM feel our pain

Wacky Wednesday News

Malcolm Turnball, newly anointed Federal opposition leader of the Little Libs (to be henceforth known as LL), has taken full credit for the Reserve Bank 1% interest rate cut yesterday, and full credit for any bank passing-on the full cut to the proletariate.

Ah, Turnball: the Jesus of our times.

Bless him.

Meanwhile, Aussie mother of the missing lass in some foreign country, has "done a Colby" and gone all balistic at the Federal government, and specifically balistic at the Australain federal police investigator sent off shore to lend a hand and liaise in dealings with the relevant foreign police.

Seems that our federal police can't summon up a facsimile of charm or care. He was all cold and business-like with family members, rather than showing up with flowers and cup cakes and tea and sympathy.

Wednesday Wisdom

My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.

Vladimir Nabokov

October 7, 2008

Educational tid bit

There are more beetles than any other creature in the world.

October 4, 2008

13 years too late

OJ Simpson has been found guilty of robbery and kidnapping, 13 years to the day after he was acquitted of murdering his ex-wife and her friend.

One of those occasions when the adage "better late than never" doesn't, can't and won't ever suffice.

October 3, 2008

October 2, 2008

Weak

Week.

Bad.

Me.

Pathetic.

Tired.

Hungry.

Sober.

No.

Energy.

To.

Think.

Or.

Post.

Many scintillating things to discuss, such as:

- some country changing toilet door signs from"ladies" and "men", to "toilets" and "toilets with urinals", so as not to offend the 0.000000000001% of the population that identifies as transgender. Pity the foreign tourists in search of a loo, 'ey?

- a local university introducing basic literacy courses for all first year students, because most of them (ie, nearly 100%) are functionally illiterate. The university states that students finish school with such a dismal basic skill-set because 80% of English teachers are equally illiterate.

Alas, we will never speak of these things.

No.

Time.

Must.

Find.

Food.

Eat.

October 1, 2008

Wednesday Wisdom

The universe is a big place, perhaps the biggest.


Kilgore Trout