November 30, 2012

We what? They what?

We abstained from the Palestinian vote.


Okey-dokey.

UN members voted 138 to 9 in favour of recognising Palestine as a non-member state.  There were 41 abstentions.

I don't get it.




Duck Friday


November 28, 2012

Wednesday Wisdom

All men are frauds.  The only difference between them is that some admit it.  I myself deny it. 

H.L.Mencken

November 23, 2012

November 21, 2012

Wednesday Wisdom

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past. 

F.Scott Fitzgerald

November 17, 2012

Laws to live (and die) by

In Thailand it's illegal to leave your house if you are not wearing undies. You can't drive your car if you are not wearing a shirt. Strangely there is no law against no pants in cars.

In Switzerland it is illegal to flush the toilet in an apartment building after 10pm. 

Do not get naked in Kenya's Masi Mara. That is illegal.

In Singapore it has been illegal to chew gum since 1992. 

In Saskatchewan Canada it is illegal to drink water in beer parlours. (Damed right!)

Don't take your beer onto the street in Chicago, US. That's against the law. In St Louis you can take beer onto the street but you can't sit down with it.

In Longyearbyen, Norway dying is illegal. The remote artic town found that bodies didn't decompose in the permafrost. So if you're so sick that you're going to die, they will ship you over to the mainland.

In England the Outer Space Act of 1986 allows the Secretary of State to use reasonable force to prevent an alien attack. But if the aliens come with paperwork saying they have a licence to invade, then Britain will have to invoke the Space Objects Act to repel them.

In New York cinema owners must chisel all chewing gum off the bottom of their seats every month. 

In Denmark you don't have to pay for your food unless you are full at the end of your meal. You also need to legally check under your car for children who may be sleeping there before you start the engine.

In 2009 Japan made it against the law to be fat. In the nation that is the home to sumo wrestling actually set a maximum waistline size. Men aged 40 and above must not have a waist more than 80cm. Women get an extra 10cm. 

The Limits of Evolution

Max Galuppo meets his match. 
450 years of Evolution come to nothing.


November 16, 2012

November 15, 2012

A very puerile Xmas



More sophomoric rubbish from the ALP; they can't even refrain from tainting the office Xmas party ... and can't refrain from making Abbott the star attraction of their end of year festivities. 

November 14, 2012

Eclipse of the Light





Wednesday Wisdom



Our politicians have become a group of baggy-pants clowns on talk shows, trotted out in a low sketch comedy of hostility, tearful sanctimony, prejudice, xenophobia and social disruption.

Graeme Blundell (Australia, August 2012)

November 10, 2012

Back to candles and kerosine

Remember the ALP promise to go to war on grocery prices, even though government has no say in the price of Vegemite or frozen peas? 

Remember the ALP promise to go to war on petrol prices, even though every price inquiry has resulted in a finding that, shrug, petrol prices are what they are?

Now a new one, but more perverse.  (Is that possible?  Yes, yes it is.)

The Gillard government is going to do for electricity pricing what they did for grocery and petrol prices, only worse.

Having introduced a carbon emissions tax - and beforehand not noticing that electricity prices have been going through the roof for years, yet consumer usage has been dropping, and dropping, in a useless bid to out-drop the price increases - the Gillard government has suddenly become aware of what the rest of already know. 

Their solution?  Market deregulation and smart meters.

In Victoria, we started paying for the fully-paid-for-by-the-government smart meters a couple of years ago, meaning:  before we even got the meters, and we are paying twice.  We also got meters that aren't smart at all, since there's no ability to see the meter unless you wonder around outside.

The Auditor's report on Victorian smart meters found that, contrary to the claims that ushered in this wonderful technology, there was no benefit, real or imagined, to consumers

Of course, smart meters do mean that power companies can sack every worker who used to drive around doing the old-fashioned meter read.  They're not needed anymore.  For this, and for the meter that isn't smart, we pay more. 

As for "deregulation":  Victoria sold off power to the private sector long ago, and the prices have never stopped rising.  Yes, all power companies have to submit price increases to a regulator who approves or denies, rarely the later, but sometimes there is a bit of argy-bargy over just how high the price should go, which offers some sort of break on the private sector. 

Imagine, then, with a fully-deregulated private sector, the gloves off, the naked greed running rampant up the polls!

Year on year on year, I've used less and less electricity during each quarter.  Yet, my most recent winter quarterly bill was a splutter-worthy $100 more than for the same period last year.  That extra was the most recent power increase, approved by the government regulator, on top of every increase during the last five years, and on top of the smart meter charge, of which I've been paying for more than a year and will be paying for years to come (I got my "smart" meter a couple of months ago, coinciding nicely with the whopping latest usage price increase).

Kar-rist! 

Are the people in this Labor government lunatics?  Do they understand anything about what is going on in the utilities sector?  Have they looked at pricing in the States that have already sold utilities to the private sector?  The States that are already rolling-out smart meters?  Do they understand power pricing?  The margins?  Simple economics - supply and demand?  Which in the utilities industry means the less the consumer uses, the more they put up the prices so as to maintain their margins?  The water industry is exactly the same - the regulator grants increases to price to make up for lost profits when consumers insist on being responsible citizens by curbing their water usage,  just as the government insists they do.

Kar-rist!  Kar-rist!  Kar-rist!  

This new big announcement from the Gillard government melts my poor little brain cells.  
The Gillard government will unveil an all-out assault on power bills, recommending the deregulation of prices for households and small business and "time of use" pricing to prevent wasteful investments in poles and wires that are used for only a few hours a year. 

The major shake-up which would do away with retail price controls set by state-based regulators and allow energy retailers across the nation to set their own charges will be hammered out by Julia Gillard and state leaders at next month's meeting of the Council of Australian Governments.

It could involve a roll-out of smart meters, which would allow consumers to avoid high tariffs during peak periods such as hot spells in summer.

Releasing the final energy white paper today, Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson will also reject policies of reserving gas for local industry and declare that Australia must cut the costs on resources projects if a $230 billion pipeline of works is to be delivered.

And he will warn that if Australia is to secure the second $230bn pipeline of investment "we must reduce the costs of production in Australia", including cutting red tape and streamlining best-practice environmental approvals for major projects.

He will argue that realising the potential of the future will require "significant levels of investment in domestic infrastructure and further development of our resource base".

The paper will also reveal that Australia's domestic oil refinery capacity will plunge by 28 per cent between this year and 2014 because of the planned closure of Shell's Clyde and Caltex's Kurnell refineries in NSW, and that making greater use of "clean" energy could require more than $200bn in new electricity generation capacity by 2050.

Mr Ferguson will use the launch of the paper to declare that soaring energy prices are hurting households and businesses and are not sustainable, and will urge the states to resist populism and dump price controls set by state-based regulators.

"The willingness of other state governments to take on these hard reforms will be essential," he says in a speech to be delivered today, obtained by The Australian. "It will take political courage where others have failed."
 Oh bullshit!  Utter, utter bullshit.  

The only thing (not) keeping a check on prices in Victoria is the government regulator.  Take away the regulator and it really will be back to candles, kerosine and an esky to keep the milk and butter from going sour.

Labor takes aim at power bills

Let's salute the Australian Electoral Commission

In Virginia and Texas some voters waited in line for four hours. In Pennsylvania, there were inappropriate demands for official photo IDs. Recorded calls went out to residents of Florida saying misleadingly that they had until 7 p.m. “tomorrow” to vote. And in Ohio, there seemed to be an unusually high number of provisional ballots, causing concern that they might not all get counted. 

One of their biggest concerns was the apparently large number of provisional ballots given to voters in Ohio, the state many consider the central battleground for the presidential election. Provisional ballots are given when information presented by the voter does not match the registration roll or insufficient identification is presented. By law, provisional ballots must be counted if officials later determine the voter is legitimate. Many provisional ballots end up not getting counted. 

At the Mother of Christ Church in Cincinnati, there was frustration among those advised to use such ballots.

“I don’t want to vote provisionally — I want to vote for real,” Canessa Harrell, 42, told poll workers. Ms. Harrell said poll workers at another precinct had told her to come to Mother of Christ Church to vote, but when she arrived there, she was not listed in the rolls for the precinct. “Will my vote count?” she asked.

“It will still count,” a worker said, following Ms. Harrell, who had decided to leave instead. 

In Columbus, Annie Womack, who was volunteering for the N.A.A.C.P. to watch polls, said she saw people walk away rather than agree to wait in another line and receive a provisional ballot. In Ohio in 2008, about 20 percent of provisional ballots were discarded. 

Another concern had to do with voter identification requirements in Pennsylvania. A law passed earlier this year said voters had to present an official form of photo ID at the polls, but a judge said that would not go into effect for this election. He said poll workers should ask for the ID but voters without them could go ahead and vote in a normal manner anyway. 

But there were examples of voters without the ID being told they could not vote without it. In Allegheny County in the southwestern part of the state, a judge barred people outside polling stations from demanding identification from voters after a complaint that poll workers were seeking ID from people outside a polling place in Homestead, Pa.
No matter how low our lowly current bunch of politicians stoop, no matter how empty their basket of goodies, at least we have a tidy, fair and robust voting system - yes, it's still all done on bits of paper and with blunt pencils, but it works.

Plus we get to vote on a weekend, so can wait patiently in line, without harassment, and without need of worrying about getting back to work. 

So let's give a shout-out to the Australian Electoral Commission! Bless.

Long lines, demands for photo ID, provisional votes, mar voting for some

Angry white men out of time

Sixty eight per cent of single white women who voted in the USA election did not vote for Mitt Romey and his angry Republican friends. 

Hispanics weren't too fond of him either, with only 27 per cent going with Mitt (down from Dubya's 44 per cent of the Hispanic vote).

Angry white guys stuck in another era have a dwindling support base. 

Hmm.  Tony Abbott and the Liberals might do well to take some lessons from the American election, just as Julia Gillard and the Labor Party are already looking to copy whatever Obama did, in the hope that the magic will rub off for them too.

Republicans, unplugged

November 9, 2012

November 7, 2012

Zombie armageddon averted: replaced with climate armadeddon

 Oh jeez.  If it's not one Armageddon, it's another. 

The whole Armageddon thing is becoming tedious.

So is the whole over-reach-hysterics generated by the believers in global warming / climate change / extreme weather events. 
The next United Nations climate report will ''scare the wits out of everyone'' and should provide the impetus needed for the world to finally sign an agreement to tackle global warming, the former head of the UN negotiations said.

Yvo de Boer, the UN climate chief during the 2009 Copenhagen climate change talks, said his conversations with scientists working on the next report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggested the findings would be shocking.

"That report is going to scare the wits out of everyone,'' Mr de Boer said in the only scheduled interview of his visit to Australia. "I'm confident those scientific findings will create new political momentum.''
Not fucking likely to scare the wits out of me, unless they've built a computer model that reflects real world data and dynamics, and unless the new report explain - without hyperbole or make-believe - why global temperatures haven't risen since 1997.

Yes, it's such a short time frame for the Earths cyclical climate, isn't it?  Yet the same experts peddling this stuff have claimed 15 years to be absolute, unequivacle, indisputable proof of warming. 

A grain of sand is only an irreversible trend if it supports the prevailing religion.

Flip-flop, flip-flop. 

No matter what happens, there's a new spin, a new yarn, and a stunning denial that the story has lost the plot.

Why also, it much be asked:  why oh why, the glee, the excitement at the prospect of scaring the wits out of everybody?  That tactic, on it's own, the exaggerated assertions, has done more damage to any good intentions of faith-based climate science than even the most dodgy of unsubstantiated causal claims. 

Climate report will shock nations into action

Wednesday Wisdom

People asked me if it was hard with the press camped outside the door.  

Growing up on the wrong side of the tracks in Africa is hard.  Being a Jew in Hitler's Europe might be hard.  Being chased around the block by a couple of goons from The Age?  Not hard.  

Bill Henson 
(Australian photographer; redemption, of sorts, via perfectly sensible thought)

November 6, 2012

America Votes

In further evidence that Democrats are winning the social media war, hundreds of people have taken to  Twitter  to "report" on a fictional event where Republican Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has called upon satanic powers in a last ditch effort to swing the election in his favour.

The tweets, with the tag #RomneyDeathRally, have  taken on the tones of the Biblical end of days.

The #RomneyDeathRally is described as an apocalyptic event where Romney, running mate Paul Ryan and various other right-wing figures gather with the hordes and there is much death, eating of babies, howling and general mayhem.
We can only dream of finding anything funny to about our next federal election (think ahead, around 10 months: can you think of anything giggle-worthy?) - or anything funny beforehand, either.

Twitter madness and the #RomneyDeathRally

Neck and neck

Our more popular leaders:

Exhibit One

"detailed programmatic specificity"  - Kev Rudd

Exhibit Two

"anachronistic spatial determinism"  - Mal Turnbull

November 5, 2012

Our unloved leaders

The lack of love for our leaders continues at a trot.

Abbott's love-o-meter is still to zinging down, down, down.

Gillard, despite all evidence pointing to being a leader least likely to engender warm fuzzy feelings (for reasons too myriad to list), remains surprisingly resilient on the love-o-meter, bouncing around the 50/50 mark, depending on which way you look at it. 

Kev Rudd, who grows more and more lovable the less power he has over anything (which is how it should stay, otherwise all love will again be lost), has a not quite out of this world love-o-meter reading from the good folk in his home state, but no one - least of all Kev - should get overly excited about Queenslanders wanting their guy back in the top spot, and still harbouring bitterness over his blood-stained removal.

Malcolm Turnbull, unlike Rudd, has wider appeal, with the best love-o-meter reading of the lot.  Based on the meter, Turnbull is everyone's guy.  More, more, more!  Yep, that's what we want. 

But we all salivate, at least a little, over what we don't have. 

As the old, old, old adage goes:  don't wish too hard ...

Abbott's support plummets

Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott race to the bottom

November 2, 2012