March 31, 2009

April Fools' Offensive

If you haven't already heard about Conficker, where have you been?

Get to and check your home PC before April 01 rolls around.

If you can download the MS patch, do so.

For others, with special *cough* versions *splutter* of MS software, at least disable AutoRun in MS Windows (something everyone can and should do regardless of the provenance of your software ).

The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) have put together the essentials for corporates and home users:

Check your PC


Disable AutoRun is outlined at point III under the solutions link.

Go on! Why are you still here?!

Ochre not a man's best friend

Libyan leader Moamer Gadhafi hurled insults and fashion sense at an Arab summit yesterday.

Violence flares

We're used to uber-crimes being reported from the US, but this last week has seen a disturbing spate of fatal and grizzly incidents.

Elderly residents shot dead at a nursing home by a killer with no apparent motive.

A young man decapitated his five year old sister in full view of a police officer, having already stabbed other family members to death.

A family of eight shot to death in Silicon Valley, a case of mass murder-suicide.

In Florida another domestic incident with police finding three bodies and one survivor.

In Illinois a father has killed his two sons and himself.

All of this in less than a week.

It's a big country, yet even for America, this is a tragic, meaningless series of violent and deadly crimes.

Let's hope it's an aberration, not a trend.

March 29, 2009

Who the hell is Helen Liu?!

First up Australia's Defence Minister, Joel Fitzgibbon, is secretly investigated by his own department.

Then the secret report is leaked to every man, woman and child in the country.

Then we hear he didn't declare two trips to China paid for by his Chinese-Australian businesswoman friend, Helen Liu.

Then we hear he returned an expensive suit that Ms Liu gave him last Christmas.

Why was the suit returned; wrong size?

Now we know that Ms Liu has met John Howard, our former Prime Minister and Liberal leader, as well having met current PM Kevin Rudd, the latter prior to his becoming PM.

All of which begs the question: who the fooking hell is this woman?

And why would Fitzgibbon or any other pollie need to get antzy or declare gifts from a close family friend of 16 years standing?

Correction: gifts from a woman with whom he has had a "close personal relationship" - his words - for 16 years?

Isn't that like having to declare what your Aunt Ginny bought you for your birthday?

Whoever Helen Liu is and whatever is going on with Fitzgibbon, I know this much is true: game set and match to the Defence Signals Directorate. Job done boys, job done.

Ruddles riddiculed

Therese Rein: perpetual fashion tragic.

Performing on the international stage has never looked so challenging.

Rudd can do a beaut fandango in China when he wheels out his Mandarin speaking credentials, but it's a lonely party trick.

Wife Rein has been rubbished for her ruffled cuffs, looking sillier than Seinfeld in the puffy shirt episode. Therese was all decked out to perform a few clown tricks of her own to entertain the underprivileged kiddies when she visited Harlem. There is much to be said for a fashion statement that diverts attention from one's lesser features. We can only imagine that Therese has determined that her only good feature is her hands and she's working them!

PM Rudd, meanwhile, is being dismissed by the British press with nothing more than a few swipes of pithy ridicule.

"Style: charisma-free zone best known for drunken trip to a New York strip club," was how one newspaper described the Australian leader.

Under the "distinguishing features" of the leader it records: "cool exterior belies inner chaos. May wear RM Williams boots."

When the Ruddles were in the US (now touched down in London), Obama spent the bare minimum of time with Rudd that diplomatic decorum requires, canceling their lunch and handing him over to Hillary for the breaking of bread instead.

Rudd will need to pull some magic out of Rein's cuffs for the G20 schmooze, otherwise this OS trip will be damned with much feint praise: an embarrassing failure, in other words.

March 28, 2009

Etiquette Lessons

John Elliott has a new web page and he's giving out free etiquette tips, or at least his site manager is, so pens and paper at the ready - a brief exam will be conducted at the conclusion of the lesson.

"Australians have terrible table manners, however not as bad as Americans, who have none at all.

Having stayed with British Royalty and been briefed accordingly, and dined in the greatest restaurants around the world, I want to make the following points to help to improve the table manners of Australians.

* The most important guest should be placed on the right of the host, and the second most important on the left.

* As you take your seat as a guest you should pull out the chair for the ladies on your right and left, and not sit down until they are comfortably seated.

* Immediately you are seated you should take your serviette/napkin and place it on your lap. It is embarrassing to see the waiters having to do it as it shows your bad manners.

* When food is being served it should firstly be served to the person on the right of the host then the person on the left, and then continue by serving second from the left.

* If a cold dish is served you should not commence eating until all parties have been served.

* If a hot dish is served you should start your meal immediately. This is one of the biggest faults of Australians. They wait until everybody gets served and the food goes cold.

* Holding your knife and fork is another important facet to good manners. The fork and knife should be held with each forefinger placed on the top, you should not hold your knife like a pencil, this highlights poor breeding.

* You must put your knife and fork down when you are not eating.

* Don’t chew your food with your mouth open.

* It is perfectly acceptable to pick up a bone and chew it, provided you only use one hand.

* Dishes should not be taken away from the table until everyone has finished the course.

* When a lady leaves the table you stand up, when she returns to sit down you repeat the process.

* You can put one elbow on the table but never two.

* When you have completed your meal/course you place your knife and fork together to signify completion.

* Mobile phones should be turned off."


Q1 - Who should bring the beer to a sit down dinner?

Q2 - How much beer should be on hand when entertaining 8 companions?

Q3 - How many sausages should be provided per person?

Q4 - Is it always appropriate to serve coleslaw?

Q5 - What is the most pressing duty for the lady of the house after serving first beers?

Q6 - Where should condiments be placed? How frequently?

Q7 - A lively conversation with a dinner companion should be deemed switched off when: a) one of you shoves a fork into the others eyeball; b) one of you is having the Heimlich maneuver performed to remove a large chunk of sausage; c) one of you wanders off for more than 45 minutes?

Q8 - You should always stand up when: a) peeing; b) taking the piss; c) a goal is kicked?

The John Elliott Report

March 27, 2009

Enough with the vacuum cleaners already!

Yet another man caught molesting a vacuum cleaner.

Jason Leroy Savage - no reason why Jas should remain anonymous - aged 29, not only sought the stress relieving company of his vacuum cleaner, he undertook his amorous activities at a public car wash in Michigan.

A car wash?!

An alert local resident (and the world is full of them when it comes to wayward penises) reported *suspicious* activity to the police.

Jason will serve 90 days in jail for indecent exposure.

[Tip to makers of small to medium electrical items: make vacuum cleaners less attractive, less alluring.]

Duck Friday

March 26, 2009

Long line of Cocks and Dafts go meekly into the night

OK, so I'm stretching the envelope of the proud tradition of penis chronicles, however, there are cocks involved, so let's just work with what we've got.

There has been a catastrophic decline in embarrassing British surnames.

During the last 120 years the Cock, Daft Smellie, Gotobed, Sufflebottom and Jelly families have either stopped breeding or the more sensitive men in the lineages have eschewed their birth names, perhaps preferring the safety and camaraderie of being a Smith, Jones or Brown.

The number of Cocks has shriveled by 75% since 1881.

"David Hey, author of Family Names and Family History, said that ridiculous names were often more harmless than they appeared. "`Bottom' names were from farms at the bottom of a valley. In the Middle Ages `daft' meant meek. It was a perfectly acceptable name."

Was. Not now. Still doesn't explain Cock or Ball or Gotobed or Smellie.

Name shame causes Cock shrinkage but Wang is on the rise

And the big men fly!

The year finally begins!

Carlton vs Richmond, Judd vs Cousins.

Game sold out, live to air.

Does it get any better?!

What is it with the "no priors" whinge?

"Giving her a 22-year sentence is like using a cannon to shoot a mouse," her lawyer, John Minock, said.

"She is a 47-year-old, mild-mannered woman with no previous criminal record other than trespassing."

And again, the "no previous criminal record" whine (oops, other than trespassing)!

What is it with people thinking they deserve leniency, compassion, a get out of jail free card, all because this was ... oooh, the very first and last murder they've ever committed ... so they latch onto the 'I promise I've learned a deep and meaningful lesson and will be scrupulously well behaved around knives in future' defence?

Truly, being pure as the driven snow, right up until you commit a criminal act doesn't lessen the nature of your new found inner criminal.

In this instance it was arson, causing a million dollars worth of damage, a crime committed by a self-confessed life long eco-terrorist.

Back in the day, arson was still arson, even if it was conducted for the purpose of protesting the heinous scientific development of moth resistant food crops for Africa.

Yes, the horror, the horror, what will those dastardly corporate scientists do next?

"Asked whether the fires might have terrified university staff and students, she said: "It was intended as an enlightenment moment that people would see what is going on beneath the surface."

Marie Mason, serial arsonist, will have 22 years in which to contemplate what went on beneath the surface of her trial.

22 years for "mild" Marie terrorist

Field Excursion - cont.

March 25, 2009

Field Excursion

Wednesday Wisdom

I love deadlines, I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.

Douglas Adams

March 24, 2009

Party, party, party!

Australia gave the world Earth Hour, but now we redeem ourselves by giving the world the first ever Climate Sceptics political party.

"Scepticism is the highest of duties, and blind faith the one unpardonable sin.” - Thomas Huxley

  • Dedicated to expose the fallacy of Anthropogenic or man-made Global Warming (AGW)
  • Committed to oppose all forms of a Carbon Tax including all Carbon Trading Schemes
  • Pledged to resist all climate-related Government policies that are not based on independent and verifiable science
Notice their aversion to action words ending in "ing"?

Now we sit back and wait - sceptically, of course - to see if they do anything.

A web site isn't a major achievement, not even in politics, and the bar is set quite low in that sphere.

The Climate Sceptics

(alerted via Kae's blog)


Acting vice-chancellor Maddy McMaster of Melbourne's RMIT said it was not for universities to provide consecrated religious spaces.

"A university's responsibility to its students is to provide them with a quality education," she said. "Recognising that the educational experience is not confined to the classroom, RMIT offers other services, including prayer rooms. It falls to religious communities to provide the consecrated spaces."

The protests have been long and loud and will continue, despite RMIT providing a multi-denominational prayer space that is set aside solely for the use of Muslim students for many hours a day. Not good enough, apparently.

A small moment of sense prevails. A rare moment from the ivory tower.

Uni rejects demand for Muslims' prayer room

No bells, no whistles ... no DVDs?

I don't ordinarily steal other people's headings, but why strain myself, right?

Our very own Milky Bar Kid, who has touched down in the US, should not expect any fuss or bother for his state visit to meet up with Prez Obama.

Ruddster will be permitted to loiter in the Oval Office for a little bit, with some token journo's along for the understated moments.

I hope he didn't pack gifts. A packet of Tim Tams and a Wagon Wheel for the little girls to share, perhaps, but anything more would smack of sycophancy.

Via The Australian

Outlaw bikies alarmed at violent streak

Australia's largest and busiest international airport.

Broad daylight.

Security standing about the place.

Man bashed to death in full view of security and civilian witnesses.

Australian Federal Police arrive on the scene a minute after it's all over.

And just so you know you're not alone in your concerns: traditional outlaw bikie gangs in NSW are alarmed at the violent behaviors of new gangs, one of which has its own peculiar traditions, such as driving 4WDs with tinted windows instead of motor bikes.

No members of non-traditional gangs partook in the airport murder.

The man killed was not known to be a bikie.

Meanwhile, tens of millions of dollars spent every year on catching and preventing terrorists and women with cosmetics in their handbags doing any damage via our airports and the AFP can't get a handle on a straight forward punch up between a small number of bikies in the arrivals lounge.

Feeling safe and comfortable yet?

Call for national ban on bike gangs

Could have been terrorists

Battle cry [huh?!] that led to a brutal killing

Security fears after bikie killing

Sydney airport in the dark on bikie threat

March 22, 2009

You have your deficits, why shouldn't the government?

If you borrow to buy a house or a business, you're in deficit for a goodly number of years. It's a solid and sensible investment though, right? No one would accuse you of being an irresponsible spendthrift, nor would you accept the label.

However, if you borrow to buy a new Prada handbag once a month and a new Amarni dress once a week, you'll look delightful, I'm sure, but your long term fiduciary well-being (short of catching a wealthy husband blinded by your fashinista self) are not so hot.

Same with government deficits. Money well spent is always going to be a good investment, including when a deficit is required, along with the mega interest bill.

A balanced budget doesn't work for households wanting to improve their long term position any more than it works for countries.

So, lets not fidget and fuss too much over government deficits, unless the deficit is too small to be suitably kick-arse, or spent on the wrong things (here's looking at the Ruddster!).

There's a neat little summary of the situation in the NYTs today - deficit is not a dirty word:

"Over the last eight years, Bush administration deficits raised the national debt by almost $5 trillion. Given the current crisis, it’s easy to imagine a similar increase during the next four years. At recent interest rates, servicing $10 trillion of extra debt costs about $400 billion annually — a big amount, to be sure, but less than 3 percent of the economy’s full-employment output. We’ll still be the richest country on the planet even after paying all that interest."

And paying off the US deficit won't take an eon of generations, nor will it be agonisingly painful. For example:

"Once the downturn ends, there should be no need to incur additional debt. Indeed, there are many ways to pay down debt without requiring painful sacrifices. A $2 tax on each gallon of gasoline, for example, would generate more than $100 billion in additional revenue a year. Europeans, who pay more than $2 a gallon in gasoline taxes, have adapted by choosing more efficient cars — and they appear no less satisfied with them."

Down under, our deficit is much smaller than those of other countries and will not take even a single generation to pay off. Assuming things eventually go in an upswing-like direction ... sometime ... preferably this millennium.

Don't waste time hand-wringing.

The government deficits are small stuff compared to the way we've all been screwed by the financial markets (hey there, here's looking at my super fund!).

Not enough people in the world

Russia is worried about not having enough people.

To boost numbers they've spent $300M to date to scour the world and lure Russians or their descendants back to the homeland.

The only criteria are that the returning Russians / descendants must be able to speak Russian and have a healthy appreciation for the local society and culture.

So far more than 10,000 have taken up the offer. An estimated 25 million people scattered across the globe might be eligible to make the move.

A sturdier Russia beckons its children home

Only the goose gets the pâté

We're all familiar with the refrain: reducing recurrent labor costs, thereby increasing shareholder value is always an excellent thing, nay, a fabulosity of sharp shooting commercial acumen! Labor might suffer a massive amount of hemorrhage-like small amount of pain, but it's all for the long term prosperity of the greater number of people or shareholders (whoever has the most money wins).

Happily, when it comes to salaries and bonuses for executives, that rule doesn't hold, it's the opposite.

Reducing salaries or recurrently extravagant and unjustifiable executive top-ups (known as "bonuses" in MBA speak) is the only way to increase shareholder value and save money.

Wall Street "took a tumble" (I love the way that the share market is spoken of as if it's a person, a living entity) a couple of days ago all because the US government has threatened (not actually done, just the threat) to hit bonus payments - only those made by companies in receipt of federal bailout money - with an extra dose of taxing, thereby taking all the fun out of the annual top-up-and-quadruple-my-salary-time at a few companies. Weirdly, this sent the Dow Jones index (or something or other) toppling by 1.6 points.

Investors are awfully, awfully nervous that clever executives from a few companies might take their bats & balls, collectively resign, and go off to China to work for 50 cents a day in a Xmas tinsel making factory, rather than face the indignity of paying a whopper tax on the extra part of their humongously attractive incomes.

Of course, there is always that risk. Always. It might happen. Then where would all the failed companies of the First World be?

Failed, failing, failing - and mostly newly owned by the government - with MBA graduates across the country refusing to lead us out of the depravities of their making.


Wouldn't that be too awful?

New depths in diplomacy

Tacky enough that Obama handed British Prime Minister Gordon Brown a pile of DVDs picked up from the local discount store, now it turns out that the presidential office didn't bother to make sure the disks could be played on a standard British DVD.

They can't.

On the upside, the British PM has a new set of cheap but sturdy drink coasters by which to remember his first meeting with President Obama.

Everyone is a sucker, everyone is biased

Hey, remember, ooooh ... last week ... when the experts and the commentariate were all over the shop, insisting that the nudie Hanson photographs were not Pauline Hanson?

How the neck wasn't long enough, the eye color was different, the lips were just oh so slightly wrong, the jaw line was too fleshy, and so on and so on and so on and so on?

'Memba that?


Suckers one and all.

More proof, if ever it was needed, to never trust an "expert", no matter how many computer models they possess.

Also proof that people will invent evidence that doesn't exist, or will literally see things that aren't there, in order to reinforced their pre-existing beliefs.

Try to remember these little lessons in future folks and look into your own cognitive tricks.

The head shots
were Hanson, we assume photoshopped onto some random woman, rather than the head shots being a Hanson doppleganger.

It's not that anyone need feel stupid (well, those laying claim to being expert facial analysts should feel like frauds right about now), but it's well worth digging a more deeply to appreciate that being objective does not come naturally to most people. Knee jerk collection of false evidence would seem to be the natural path of human thinking - even when the evidence is visual.

It's disturbing in so many ways.

March 21, 2009

Let's make a deal

If for mysterious and random reasons not yet know, the opportunity arises in your life to choose between doors number two and three, after door number one has been eliminated, you're got a 66% chance of making the right choice if you switch from your initial decision.

It's the Monty Hall Problem.

Also useful to remember when doing multiple choice tests.

Lessons in condecension and marital failure

A week ago gave space to a woman whose delight in treating her husband like a child elicited all but no response from commenters.

"Could it be that the same tactics I use on my two sons -- one in second grade, the other still in diapers -- might work on my husband as well? Would, say, a cranky toddler and a cranky 34-year-old scientist respond to the same things?

... every relationship has its rough spots. If I could smooth them by using the child-rearing tricks I already knew by heart, so much the better. I tried -- and my successes led to one of the more enlightening weeks of my marriage.

... creatively disciplining felt a whole lot better than arguing, and at the end of the night, I felt oddly forgiving instead of resentful. I even felt fonder of Greg than before.

So, did the week of using parenting skills in my marriage work? Absolutely. For one thing, it was tremendously refreshing to see these strategies actually get results. (Grown men are amazingly more responsive than children, I thought one night as Greg picked up all the towels while Zander ignored my exhortations to get out of the tub.)

It turns out that trying to find the best way to relate to your kids (who certainly put all kinds of new stresses and strains on your relationship) can actually help you relate to your spouse.

Will I persist with the experiment? Definitely. As a wise man told me just the other day, scientific research can take longer than you think to complete. We may never get this whole thing exactly right, but the results are promising."

Which is great. Really. So long as you don't want your 34 year old scientist husband going to work and earning a living, undertaking adult responsibilities, conjugal duties, or in general behaving remotely like a grown up - like a man - then by all means treat him like a wayward toddler in nappies. And if you find that you like your husband a great deal more when you're training him up as you would a naughty toddler, that's fantastic. Really.

Parenting techniques to try on your spouse

Smart Mamma

Mamma orangutan and her baby, stranded in a tree by flood waters in Malaysia accepted a rope, tested it, and jumped in the water, working along the rope to safety where she was provided with much needed food, before disappearing back into the forest with her baby.

While aorangutans are believed to be afraid of water, this smart and brave mamma didn't hesitate when offered a human solution.

March 20, 2009

Einfeld goes to the big house

Ex-judge Marcus Einfeld will go to jail for a non-parole period of two years for perjury in relation to a speeding offense committed three years ago.

Small tip people: paying a $77 fine and copping some demerit points is often times a more noble sword to fall upon than making up elaborate stories about a long-dead woman driving your car at the time of the offense.

Back story here and sentencing here.

Duck Friday

March 19, 2009

Yellow Bird gives the money shot

Confirming that Indian Studies might not be inhabited by a bevy of sagacious types, Yellow Bird left bird droppings all over the place yesterday, which he executed with remarkable brevity:

For the final question CU attorney Patrick O'Rourke asked indigenous studies professor Michael Yellow Bird during his re-cross Wednesday morning, he pulled up [sic] a transcript of previous testimony the professor had given to CU's Privilege & Tenure Committee and asked him if he had made the statement that "fabricated, made-up accounts promote the truth".

With a slight pause, Yellow Bird said yes.

From the ongoing reporting of the Ward Churchill court case in Denver, c/o Drunka.

Our cynosure for the duration of the case, John.G.M also offers some personal musings and panoramic insights to the witnessing of the law in action:

"About Courtroom Six: It sux. I'm a lithe young prole, but half an hour sitting on those benches and I'm ready for a walker (which I steal from the 74-year-old Chutch supporter just behind me every day at lunchtime. "Hey, you young hegemonist!" he yells. It's hilarious).

The room's acoustics are horrible, and the sound system (which I believe the lawyers supply themselves) is rinky beyond dink. There are cigarette burns in the floor. How long's it been since smoking was allowed in courtrooms?"

March 18, 2009

Whiny parasitic little bitches

Covering the court case bought by the repulsive and unrepentant Ward Churchill against Columbia University, Mr Paine, blogger of the Pirate Ballerina blog pirouetted to a sassy and savvy piece by blogger David Thompson, who writes about kulcha and comics and stuff.

(All of which comes via, in the first instance, honorary Aussie John.G.M of Drunkablog, who is providing colorful first hand reporting of the Churchill trial hot off his keyboard in Denver.)

Defined by whining Thompson concludes with all the eloquence that the rest of us wish we could summon and with the moral force that only a gay man can execute (so, you know, that leaves most of us out of the competition, quite frankly).

"Obviously, as a gay man, I too feel aggrieved and entitled. Entitled, that is, to say, “Get the hell over yourselves, you whiny, parasitic little bitches.”

While that's a high point, it's not even the best of it. Thompson has a way of grabbing academia by the balls, as it were, to capture the insincere fabric that passes for radicalism, not to mention righteous indignation. Quoting himself from an earlier post he writes:

"The problem is that adversarial role-play has little to do with reason, refutation or how the world actually is. It does, however, have a great deal to do with how those concerned wish to seem. In order to maintain a self-image of heroic radicalism - and in order to justify funding, influence and status - great leaps of imagination, or paranoia, may be required. Hence the goal posts of persecution tend to move and new and rarer forms of exploitation and injustice have to be discovered, many of which are curiously invisible to the untutored eye. Thus, the rebel academic tends towards extremism, intolerance and absurdity, not because the mainstream of society is becoming more racist, prejudiced, patriarchal or oppressive – but precisely because it isn’t."

For those of you mildly delighted, yet confused, let's quickly follow the bread crumb trail to Heather MacDonald's piece, with the envy inducing title of "Victimology 101 at Yale":

"In December 2008, Yale University president Richard Levin announced a series of budget cuts to compensate for a 25 percent drop in the value of Yale’s endowment. This February, the university launched the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Resources to provide support for Yale’s homosexual community. According to its director, the new office is intended to make the “University feel like a friendly place as opposed to an alien, hostile place” to gays. The recession, it appears, is going to have little impact on the academic culture of victimology and the ever-growing bureaucracy that supports it. The idea that Yale is an “alien, hostile place” to gays is one of those absurd conceits that could only be maintained in the alternative universe of academia. Yale students and faculty are undoubtedly the most tolerant, least homophobic people on Earth; Yale helped launch the field of gay studies three decades ago and has only increased its involvement since."

Which is where the previous quotes from Thompson step in as he sighs:

"Ah, but the drama must go on indefinitely. That's the whole point."

And yet, you wonder, stroking your chin, how does any of this tie in with Chutch's trial?

More from MacDonald:

"Unsurprisingly, this appetite for grievance and indulgence has been exploited and internalised by many students, especially those entranced by tribal identities and the leverage they make possible. (Not least among those who believe we live in the 1950s.) MacDonald goes on to list Yale’s pandering to this particular tribe, including lectures, conferences, professorships, elaborate nondiscrimination policies, the establishment of a Lesbian and Gay Studies Centre, the hiring of “special assistants for LGBTQ issues,” oral history projects, “critical analysis of queer and normative sexualities,” the provision and subsidy of “safe spaces” for LGBTQ students, and courses in “music and queer identities” and “gender transgression.”

Students in today’s university regularly act out little psychodramas of oppression before an appreciative audience of deans and provosts. The essence of those psychodramas is to force the university to recognize a student’s narrowly defined “identity” through ever more elaborate bureaucratic mechanisms. Rather than laugh the student players off the stage, the deans, provosts, and sundry other administrators willingly participate in their drama, intently negotiating with them and conferring additional benefits wherever possible."

And so it goes with any tribal or minority identification, of which Chutch and the identity-challenged students who respond to his tune, are, for our purpose "Exhibit A".

A grab of some well coined comments:

"What I find eerie is the use of organised suppression and intimidation by those who proclaim their “tolerance” and “progressive” attitudes. There’s an obliviousness to contradiction that’s more than a little odd.

In-group belonging is often the priority - purity, as you put it - hence the tendency towards extremism. As the mainstream assimilates (or tolerates) whatever was radical ten years ago, the goal posts have to move and new struggles have to be found. For some people - quite a few, I think - the contrarianism and drama is hard to do without. It would make them feel less special. Whether the drama is justified, or sane, doesn’t seem to matter very much.

You were once a practicing socialist? I hope you weren’t too scarred by the experience.

Regarding the clips linked above, it’s the ludicrous irony of leftwing students claiming that “campuses are places for open-mindedness,” while proving the opposite by drowning out an opinion they happen to disagree with (for reasons that still aren’t clear). They claim to oppose “hate” while acting in ways designed to intimidate not only the speaker but anyone who wants to hear what that speaker has to say.

They want a monopoly and they want it now. Another student sneeringly mentions the “marketplace of ideas,” while making sure no-one else gets a chance to hear views *he* doesn’t like. Evidently, his worldview is the one everyone should have and competition won’t be tolerated.

What’s extraordinary is just how widespread this inversion of reality is, and the obliviousness to contradiction is actually quite sinister."

MacDonald can finish things off with a flourish or two:

"Can a student who is furiously itemizing the many ways she has been dissed as a female of color or a lesbian, say, lose herself in the opalescent language of A Midsummer Night's Dream or hear the aching melancholy in Wordsworth's "Intimations" ode? She will have been taught to scour books for slights to, or affirmations of, her own self, but neither the play nor the poem is directly about her carefully cultivated identity.

In his December 2008 letter on Yale's budget problems, President Richard Levin affirmed the university's mission of "educating the most talented and promising students for leadership and service." Teaching students to identify phantom insults to their egos doesn't train them for leadership and service but merely for future whining."

Maybe Gen-Y and Gen-Z aren't entirely the fault of the baby boomers or Oprah after all.

Victimology 101 at Yale

Now the hunted

If publication of the alleged photo's of Hanson were deemed tawdry by one and all, how much worse is it to see Channel 9's A Current Affair offering a $10,000 reward to anyone who will lead them to the 'real' woman in the photo's?

With lines like "we will find our woman" and "we are on your trail" they made it sound like a new fun game - it's almost enough to make a viewer dry wretch.

Apart from ACAs clear amusement over their "hunt her down" caper, they're treating the 'real' woman - if there is such a person - as someone who has committed a deliberate fraud. Yet, has anyone eyed the originals, dated them? *Someone* is being defamed and implicated as a criminal, based on nothing.

Holy moly. Slow learners our media.

"Expert" face analysis here ... yet, the jaw line looks the same, contrary to other pics that Hanson put forward, and claiming a short neck in the photo's under debate is a bit dumb for any expert, given the position of the woman, etc.

Best discussion of the whole thing comes from Jack Waterford of The Canberra Times (thanks to Kath), who draws attention to why this story really matters:

"It is doubtful, however, whether any public interest defence, even with an extended law, could protect the Hanson publication. Just how does seeing the photos, or even knowing of their existence, help us, as citizens, know anything important about Hanson's capacity in public life? The more so given that whatever she is, or has argued for, she has never set herself up as any moralist and cannot be accused of hypocrisy.

Like Hartigan and his industry-wide Right to Know Coalition, I would like to see a considerable extension of the media's right to know what is going on in public affairs, and to tell the public about it. In general, the practical difficulties of doing so increase each year.

But big media is deeply compromised by the behaviour of some of their organs. It is the primary reason why politicians, judges and others are able to resist greater scrutiny of government and public institutions and public figures by journalists and citizens. Tabloid television, celebrity journalism and the hypocritical and shameless exposure ''journalism'' exemplified by the Hanson episode sit uneasily alongside claims of acting in, or pursuing the public interest. So, alas, do the profits from it."

Wednesday Wisdom

All communication is as sign of failure. If everybody is pleased with the situation, then there is no need for communication.

Peter Gardenfors

March 16, 2009

Looks like a duck ....

He says it is, she says it isn't.

The face is definitely hers: we'd know that dead-eyed look anywhere!

Here and here.

Almost as alluring as a pound of frozen fish fingers.

Hanson has taken legal action, not for the publication of the photo's, but for her assertion that the photo's aren't real. She makes some interesting points about the alleged timing of the photo's, the age of the man who claims to have taken them, and so on.

Heck of a good photoshopping effort if they're fake.

Either way, the world would have continued to turn in its usual manner, and we all would have gone about our business without feeling any need to see a real, or pretend, teenage Hanson looking every bit the anti-sex harpy. A cruel and unnecessary assault on the public senses.

Update I

Hanson offers to take a belly button test.

Media outlets insist they subjected the pics to forensic analysis and detected no fiddling. They stand by their claims of authenticity.

Hanson has taken things a step further by claiming that even the head isn't hers, stating that she had long hair during the years when it's alleged the pics were taken. If so, the belly button revelation isn't necessary and the whole thing could be whipped off the front pages by first thing tomorrow morning with a quick public showing of select happy snaps from the family albums of that era. Too easy, hey?

Coverage here fwiw

Update II

Paper today shows pic of Hanson with long hair, apparently from her book. Note the long hair. Note that the hair in the nudie pics might just have been pulled back. But photo's show the same style of hair as it sits around the crown and forehead. Most particularly note that the hair color in both is the same. If the nude pics are fake, someone went to the trouble of tracking down her real hair color, and her hairstyle from that era - black hair, not the distinctive bright red we're accustomed to seeing. Given all that, a legal case might hang on the belly button test.

Update III

The debate continues to rage, with yeahs and nays still divided evenly.

I'm not taking any bets folks, although, as Kath points out, the alleged photographer has started back-tracking. Now he's not sure who the heck is in the photo's.

See Ian Hall's post and comments (alerted via SkepticLawyer).

March 14, 2009

Papers folding like paper

The US newspaper industry is looking like a spotted dick. The single blue spot (medium sized, over on the right, top quartile area) is the only one with growth, all other spots indicate readership decline.

It's impossible to fold a piece of paper in half more than eight times.

Unless you fold in accordance with the right equation, for example, like so:

In which case, the fact of not being able to fold a piece of paper in half more than eight times becomes a lie, replaced with the new fact of not being able to fold a piece of paper in half more than 12 times.

That's something to think about next time you buy a newspaper, because they're folding ... err ... exactly like paper.

With some Interwebs business models turning out to be plastic turkeys (previous post), old media has long been sucking up the ugly reality of a receding readership like a bald man and his comb-over.

Most pundits and the unwashed commentariat have long done a little rain dance on the not yet dead print media, even while relying solely on such for their own spleen venting. The exceptions are not blogs in the amatuer sense, they're news sites with traditional journalists being paid in the traditional manner, to go forth and report on the traditional things - for such sites (mostly counted on one hand) being published online and not in hardcopy is the only break with the tried and true nonpartisan reporting tradtion. What's also missing, other than paper, is long term investigations and depth of analysis.

This comment, in full glorious ignorance, is apparently where we're heading:

"Come on, folks, it's not 1920. We can actually get along without newspapers. There are so many other ways to communicate that are faster, cheaper, and just as effective. Besides, if the market can't support a newspaper - or for that matter, a car dealership, an opera, or a locally-owned bank - then so be it. The public has spoken."

Because, sure, newspapers are about "communicating", and you can do that on Twitter with only 140 characters. So there! The public has spoken and the words are brief and free.

On the Interwebs, everyone is equal, and partisan opinion-puff fights it out to the death. And while so occupied, no one provides checking or balancing of organisations that rule, and sometimes ruin, the world.

The fourth estate exists for a reason, with its diminishing force civility - and reason - will be lost.

NYTs - As cities go from two papers to one, talk of zero

March 13, 2009

PJ Media goes nighty night

Pajamas Media, an alliance of 170 blogs ( founded in 2005 has given all the bloggers cookies and a glass of milk and told them to naff off.

The PJ Media CEO has decided to throw the company's remaimomg cash at yeah olde traditional / crossover media: a new television channel, on the Interwebs (yeah, slow, slow, slow learners).

PJM was ostensibly a collective rebellion against MSM, but in real life it was supposed to turn into a cash cow (or even a scrawny new born calf might have sufficed) and a serious rival to the online presence of the likes of CNN or Slate.

Such conventional aspirations.

The 'you're tossed' letters were sent to the aggregated PJM bloggers in January, who, just by the by, were rarely seen to be linked on the site in any case.

Such a conventional demise.

The site will be finally swept under the carpet on April 01.

Pajamas telly has already hired "Joe the Plumber" and has asked some of its *star* bloggers to take up a new career as telly anchors and analysts.

Arh, the irony of it all.

Duck Friday

March 11, 2009

Wednesday Wisdom

Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles.

Frank Lloyd Wright

March 8, 2009

Handy dandy facts

Women in developing countries on average carry 20 litres of water over six kilometres every day.

Only 21% of all news subjects (people interviewed or whom the news is about) are women.

Women do two-thirds of the world's work but receive only 10% of the world's income.

Women make up 51% of the world's population but hold only 16% of parliamentary and congressional seats worldwide.

Every minute of every day a woman dies in childbirth.

International Women's Day

March 6, 2009

Not necessary, really not

SJP is desperate to hold onto her husband, her youth, her fans and her awesome celebrityness.

But mostly - I'm guessing - she's desperate to show off her new puppies, which were given their first walkies at the recent Oscars.

Sarah Jessica Parker is considering bearing her breasts for the next Sex and the City film.

An "insider" says:

"She hasn't made up her mind but it's something that she might do if necessary for the scene to work."

Err, as yet, no scenes have been written.

Biggest Pimplist

"In the past two years, Dart's department has made more than 200 arrests linked to the website on charges that include juvenile pimping, human trafficking and endangerment of a child.

The people arrested have ranged from heroin addicts to suburban soccer mums, a former reality TV star and teenagers as young as 14 years old."

That would be globally notorious web site Graiglist, against whom one US police department has become really pissed off, now asking a federal judge to order the site to abolish the Erotic Services section. They also want Graiglist to pay for the police time spent rounding up pimps and prostitutes who advertise their wares on the site.

A Craigslist spokeswoman said:

"Misuse of Craigslist to facilitate criminal activity is unacceptable, and we continue to work diligently to prevent it"

Misuse of the site is exceptionally rare compared to how much the site is used for legal purposes."

Ah, well that's OK then!

As you were.

"In November, Craigslist said it would charge a small fee and require credit card verification for postings in the Erotic Services section and all revenue from the ads would be donated to charity."

Ah, well off the hook entirely then, free pass!

As you were.

"An FBI investigation found last year that more than 2800 child prostitution ads had been posted on Craigslist and a recent nationwide sweep for child trafficking and prostitution netted hundreds of arrests, he added."

Even with the Interwebs there is a moral business line. Craiglist are obviously struggling to identify that line.

CraigList named Americas biggest pimp

Duck Friday

March 5, 2009

Hot protest thwarted by snow storm

Don't you just hate it when a gargantuan global warming protest is shut down due to a snow storm?

Fifteen centimetres of snow in Washington put the kibosh on "the largest act of civil disobedience" in the US.

Come global warming, all civil and uncivil activism will proceed as planned.

Big chill buries global warming protest

Spot the difference

"Signs an employee might be a corporate psychopath included being smooth and charming, redirecting conversations to themselves, putting down others, telling lies, demonstrating a lack of empathy, creating internal power networks and using them for personal gain.

Signs of trustworthy, diligent, chirpy, psychologically well adjusted employees might include:

Being smooth and charming, redirecting conversations to themselves, putting down others, telling lies, demonstrating a lack of empathy, creating internal power networks and using them for personal gain.

Psychopaths threatening Australian businesses, experts say

Meanwhile, Lord Black of Crossharbour has enjoyed the convivial company of fellow inmates during his first year in jail.

Comments tend to suggest the Conrad Black is a saintly chap who was done wrong by the establishment, yet still manages to put on a happy face and contribute to the rich intellectual tapestry of human kind.
Jolly good for him!

"I feel for Mr. Black, he did not deserve a 6 year banishment.

Anthony , Aurora, Canada

This has been a travesty of justice. I am happy to see that Lord Black has been keeping his spirits up (I hope this is for real). I wish him all the best for the future and this includes his being released from incarseration (sic).

John Burton, Smiths Falls , Canada

70 million dollars were pillaged during the trial, and not by Mr. Black. What was done to him by the Chicago machine is absolutely disgusting.
Needless to say, a strong Conrad Black supporter.

Pat, Powell River, BC., Canada

Very sad. I suspect he's not a bad sort on a personal level.
Certainly a great mind. When you treat the money of shareholders as if it's your own there is occasionally a price to be paid. Best of luck to him. David Radler they should throw back inside.

Shaun, Edmonton, Canada

$6.1million seems peanuts now against the billions our banking 'giants' have taken for themselves while sending the rest of us to perdition. Go Lord Black I like your style!

Jeremy Martin, Exmouth, UK

Black's fraud seems pretty small beer in comparison to the bankers we are bailing out.

Neil, Portsmouth, G.B.

It reflects the character of his Lordship, that he makes the best fist of his present circumstances.

Tom Stack, Derby, England

What a character. A real lesson to all the complaining, self serving victims of our era. Take whatever life serves up and make the best of it

David, Amsterdam, Netherlands

A miscarriage of justice at the expense of a good and talented man. Nice to see he continues to contribute to the public discourse.

Eric Richard, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA"

Prison not so bad after all

March 4, 2009

To the Goldilocks Zone


Kepler's mission is "to discover Earth-like planets in Earth-like places — that is to say, in the not-too-cold, not-too-hot, Goldilocks zones around stars where liquid water can exist."

The job, in short, is to find places where life as we know it is possible.

Kepler, named after the German astronomer who in 1609 published laws of planetary motion that now bear his name, will look for tiny variations in starlight caused by planets passing in front of their stars. Dr. Borucki and his colleagues say that Kepler could find dozens of such planets — if they exist. The point is not to find any particular planet ... but to find out just how rare planets like Earth are in the cosmos.

“It really is going to count many Earths. About four years from now we will have a really good estimate of how many Earths there are.”

... if all keeps going well, it will be time to confront the next series of questions: whether anywhere else in this galaxy the dust that once spewed from stars has come alive and conscious.

“We are going to be able to answer for the first time a question that has been pondered since the time of the ancient Greeks. Are there other worlds like ours? The question has come down to us from 100 generations. We get to answer it.”

If Kepler doesn’t come through, that means Earth is really rare and we might be the only extant life in the universe and our loneliness is just beginning."

In a lonely cosmos, a hunt for worlds like ours

Kick a dog when it's down

Sixty-three percent of Americans say they wouldn’t buy a car from an automaker in bankruptcy.

When a bargain is to be had, they won't bite?

Talk about taking your moral high ground to Everest.

No explanation was sort or offered for these odd, and seemingly cut-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face, results.

Rasmussen Report

What the?

"I've heard this speech four times now and it's boring," he said. "The NSW Chamber was directed that there would be no questions, and everyone I've spoken to is pissed off."


Kev Rudd, of course.

Addressing small business owners for 35 minutes.

So verbose, so inarticulate.

PM's speech a let down

Wednesday Wisdom

Give a man a fish, and you'll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll buy a funny hat. Talk to a hungry man about fish, and you're a consultant.

Scott Adams

March 2, 2009

A waste of sand through the hourglass

The four minute egg timers distributed to all households by the government and intended to help reduce showering times of the grubby Melbournian populace have failed to reduce water usage.

My egg timer is still on my fridge and I still flip it over every now and again. Thusly, my household has implemented the four minute egg timer very successfully. What are the rest of you doin'?

Melbournians ignore 155-litre water target

Perfect one day, lunatic asylum the next

Between floods and Pauline Hanson taking yet another shot at the gravy train of politics, you'd think that Queensland has had more than their share of natural disasters for one year.

Seems that Warwick Capper might go head to head with Hanson.

Perhaps the seat of Beaudesert could be declared a national disaster zone and the army sent in to control outrageous hair-doos, overtly sloppy grammar and gratuitous displays of the Australian flag.

Here ...

March 1, 2009

Pot ... Kettle ... Black

Bono has described Chris Martin as a dysfunctional character, a cretin and a wanker.

Bono, 48, has admitted to feeling threatened by Coldplay.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the biggest wanker of all.