December 30, 2011

Amending the calendar

Residents of Samoa will go to bed tonight and irrevocably lose an entire day, and it won't be due to collective debauchery or general drunkenness.

No, Samoa is sensibly aligning their days and times with us and our first cousins, all the better to do business.


It will be December 29 when they go to bed and Saturday December 31 when they awaken - meaning they'll skip Friday forever.

This neat bit of time travel is the result of a very contemporary concern: trade and economic relations with Pacific neighbours Australia and New Zealand, who are nearly a day ahead on the clock.

Now, with the disappearance of Friday, Samoa will shift west of the international dateline and share the same date and time as its two key partners.

Explained Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, "In doing business (now) with New Zealand and Australia we're losing out on two working days a week," The (London) Times reported.

"While it's Friday here, it's Saturday in New Zealand and when we're at church Sunday, they're already conducting business in Sydney and Brisbane."

Actually, this won't be the first time switch for Samoa, a nation of 180,000 about halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii and once the home of Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Kidnapped and Treasure Island.

Samoa and neighboring American Samoa lay west of the dateline until 1892, when an American trader lobbied to switch to the east on the grounds it would be more convenient for trading ships. The result was two July 4s that year.

Now Samoa -- but not American Samoa -- will switch back, raising the slightly unsettling opportunity of celebrating one's birthday on the same date but on separate days after a plane flight of less than an hour.

As for business owners, Friday will be very much a lost day -- they are required to pay workers for a day that doesn't exist. However, hotel guests won't have to pay for an extra night.

Duck Friday

Happy New Year

December 28, 2011

Digital darkness

I found time to do ironing yesterday, and washing of the kitchen floor.

On the eve of Christmas (or Xams, as iJustin prefers), my trusty dirt cheap second hand computer suffered a fatal hard drive problem, from which no amount of CPR elicited resurrection. When your hard drive makes gurgly and screeching noises, you know you’re in serious trouble.

When system restore insists there’s no good config from which to restore, you start to sweat a little.

When the operating disk to do a rebuild chugs along from process to process, before declaring – in effect – “sorry, can no do, your hard drive is fucked”, you sweat, shake and shrug.

Nearly eight years of trusty service, not rebuild once in that time; never touched, other than adding a bit of ram about seven years ago - can't complain really, although I'd very much like to.

So, if things are awfully quiet around here (in the public and private domains), for quite some time, you’ll understand why.

Resumption of normal transmissions is in search of a target date.

Meanwhile, I have found time to do mundane things that ordinarily escape my interest.

Maybe on the weekend I’ll trot around the local park and initiate pleasant conversations with strangers.

Wednesday Wisdom

Do your damnedest in an ostentatious manner all the time. 

General George Patton

December 23, 2011

Duck Friday

Crispy Duck

December 21, 2011

Wednesday Wisdom

If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience. 

George Bernard Shaw

December 19, 2011

Real history will see Gillard and Abbott gone - and damned

... there’s a belief that Tony Abbott is popular in the suburbs and regions; that his everyman no-nonsense conservatism goes down well with real, everyday, average etc Australians.

There’s a more general belief among politics watchers that a politician, particularly an opposition leader, must personally “connect” with key parts of the electorate. It’s rubbish; just think of most successful politicians.

In particular—I kid you not—Mark’s ridgy-didge persona was supposed to go down well in Queensland, another demographic at a desperate ebb for the party. But on election day both these swung by larger than average to the Howard government.

Abbott is like Latham in that he is the observer’s idea of what works in politics. A real Australian, who could resist a story like that?
But Latham was much more popular. It tends to be forgotten he was at the time the most approved of federal opposition leader in polling history, which means since approval/satisfaction ratings began to be measured in the 1960s.
Latham peaked at 66 per cent satisfied in Newspoll and the last Newspoll of the 2004 campaign registered a healthy 54 per cent. Abbott’s “peak” was 44 in February last year and his most recent one was 33. 

But Latham was difficult to vote for. Like Abbott is.

... Tony’s popularity among some elites and the party faithful is not replicated in the general community.
And like Julia Gillard he probably won’t be leading his party at the next election.

Pollies have taken to a new morally loaded phrase (particularly the ALP and the Greens):  it's the ludicrous predication of "being on the right side of history" - used as an admonishment, a sanctimonious threat or judgment upon anyone who disagrees with their policies -  as if any of us, let alone politicians, have a crystal ball or have a say in determining what history writes.

The only history we can be sure of, before it's written, is that Gillard and Abbott are a shocking stain on Australian Federal politics, and this will go down as one of the most damaging policy periods we have ever seen.  The mess will take a massive effort - possibly decades - to undo.  

The only other bit of history, not yet written:  neither Gillard nor Abbott will front the next election in the capacity of leaders of their respective parties.  They will be recorded as the most uninspiring, least intellectually and morally capable, and most disliked leaders we have had the misfortune to endure.  (Predication:  when they are both gone, expect lots of journalists to tap into their retrospective wisdom to write, at length, exactly that.)

Is Abbott popular?

Keating: Twenty Years Ago Today

Although some suggest that Keating may not want the attention and is not seeking to bask in the glory of the past, Brereton says, "drawing down on the vital legacy of our movement is something that we should always do."

But on Monday's anniversary, the Labor Party will be holding a trivia night at the Trades Hall in Sydney. 
A trivia night?  Yep.  Sounds about right for the Labor Party (or Liberals, or Greens) of 2011.

Hawke and Keating - 1991

No party for the prime minister who mattered

December 16, 2011


Everyone from god downwards sent their thoughts, love, prayers and wishes to Molly (Meldrum) during the last 24 hours.  I think Michael Chugg did too, in his own way:

"I was peaking to (UK promoter) Harvey Goldsmith in London" he told ABC radio in Melbourne  "... and they're just mortified, you know it's gone around the world".

Paper cut upsets little states

The never ending catalog of misplaced human outrage:

The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPCD) has cancelled their subscriptions to newspapers from everywhere other than London, Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra.

Yes, let's get all huffy about the PMs own department's lack of interest in the rest of Australia.

Let's not be outraged at:

- cost savings: $9569

- continued spend on hard copy papers and journals: $103,252.

All newspaper articles, bar the pay wall content of the Financial Review and The Australian and most journals, are available, for free, online.
Liberal Senator Scott Ryan, who sought the information, said it showed Ms Gillard's department was not interested in life beyond the southeast states.

"I really think she (Ms Gillard) would be better served learning about the issues that affect Queenslanders and getting her head out of the London papers," he said.
No Senator, both she (Gillard) and you would be better served noticing that the paltry sum saved is meaningless and the amount still being spent on newspapers by DPMC is, in this day, unjustifiable; ditto any other government entity.

Get huffy about something that matters, for goodness sake.

Gillard's department cancels subscriptions


Christopher Hitchens, gone - December, 2011
His vision of earthly bliss: "To be vindicated in my own lifetime."

His ideal way to die: "Fully conscious, and either fighting or reciting (or fooling around)."

Duck Friday

December 14, 2011

Karl Lagerfeld is a small, annoying cock

Last week in Paris at a long table laid for high tea with a maharajah, around which the world's most expensive and expensively dressed models paraded in his latest collection, [Karl Lagerfeld] cast himself as the Queen of Hearts, pronouncing he was inspired by India because ''even the poor have dignity there''.

With Wonderland logic, he explained that this was evidenced by the fact that in India ''even poor women own three gold bracelets''.

Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel -Photo: AFP
Even by his prolific standards, it was a vintage week for Lagerfeldisms. The designer delighted in telling reporters that he had never actually been to India.

''Fantasy is often better than reality,'' he explained. ''It's much more inspiring not to go to places than to go.'' A sentiment with which the Mad Hatter would probably agree.

Wednesday Wisdom

Fear of the neighbours has driven aggression for 50,000 years.  Internal and international conflict remains essentially tribal. Fear of the "other", the people who aren't us, is at the heart of conflicts between civilisations and between factions in the ALP. 

Phillip Adams (2011)

December 11, 2011

Toys R Us

When Julia Gillard said "We are us" in her speech to Labor's national conference on the weekend, most thinking people assumed she had lost the plot. Other than as an exercise in pop banality, it made no sense. 

But perhaps it was a coded message to the furious rosy-cheeked man in the front row: We are us, Kevin, and you're not. Get over it.  
She really said that? 

She's actually the Prime Minister? 

(*Rubs eyes; shakes head*)

For Rudd there's no me in we

December 9, 2011

Another wrong inquiry

Back in July, my brief foaming at the mouth rant about the tawdry corrupt tender process for the Australian overseas broadcasting service - Australia Network - elicited little to no interest from my small but adored readership.  

I'm still foaming, and can't believe how little the public care about yet another truly gobsmacking ALP perversion of governance.

And those who do care, a tiny bit (you know, the bogans in Frankston), hold a sturdy and misguided belief that this thing should never have gone to tender, should always be handed on a platter to the ABC as an expensive sheltered workshop for a select group of journalists (and old re-runs, as it turns out; although that might be a tautology).  I assume, those people also believe the lie of "the leak" offered by the Gillard Government for aborting TWO tender processes, both of which recommended Sky News as the preferred supplier on an objectively assessed value for money basis.  TWICE.

Oddly, the ABC managers, approaching ministers to discuss the tender while in progress - an action that should be sufficient to disqualify the tenderer - isn't cited by the government as one of numerous corrupt episodes.  

The only clean player in this has been the evil empire - the hate media - the Murdoch owned Sky News.  

The federal police are now in search of the leaker, and the auditor general will also inquire into all the wrong things.  

White washing the Gillard Government is becoming a full blown industry.

This, from Graham Richardson:
To hear the PM at a press conference telling us that the tender process had been compromised by leaks was just plain embarrassing.

Everyone knows that the only leaks have been about who won the tender not about the details of the tender themselves. Sky News won and she and Conroy just wouldn't accept it.

An independent panel was set up to examine the documents and the next leak was that they had recommended Sky News - again. It wasn't the process the government didn't like. It was the leaking of who had won - because it was the wrong winner. The police were called in and the Auditor-General decided to have a look as well.

With two investigations under way, ministers raced to find microphones to say no decision would be made until inquiries were completed.

Then bang, out of the blue, the declaration of the loser coming out on top was made.

The investigations are continuing but obviously their findings could not be allowed to interfere with the predetermined announcement. If the Auditor-General finds the ABC comprehensively lost, the PM and Conroy will look ridiculous.

Social Network 2

Ever wondered what a post-apocalypse Facebook-free world would look like?

Coming to a theatre near Somewhere ... Social Network 2.

Duck Friday

December 7, 2011

Wednesday Wisdom

As we have seen, great earthquakes, forest fires and mass extinctions are all merely the expected large fluctuations that arise universally in nonequilibrium systems. To avoid them, one would have to alter the laws of nature.

Mark Buchanan

December 4, 2011

Revisiting Turnbull's limitations

Malcolm Turnbull isn't nearly as bright in politics as he was in the private sector.  It's not, as Sheridan argues, that he seems incapable of taking the longer view, it's that he clearly has no friggin' idea what he's talking about - yet persists anyway:  good for him!  At least he can do no harm, and never will - unlike Abbott and Gillard.

It's irrelevant that these observations are made in relation to China (the current PM is useless in international matters, ditto Abbott); no, it's not foreign affairs that matter here, it's the halo of gullibility and superficial knowledge that bothers.  If Turnbull can be this dumb about China, and the Asia Pacific and America and Australia, it's only dumb luck that he hasn't appeared to be this stupid about everything else (although he's a fan of Tim Flannery & co ... that should have been the canary gasping, but we didn't notice).
Malcolm Turnbull has delivered two important speeches on China that help explain why he was such a disastrous Liberal leader and why he should never be considered for the leadership again.
 Turnbull is overestimated intellectually - all at sea on चाइना

December 3, 2011

Who has the sourer grapes?

Rudd is a vengeful, vain man; we know that, but he has, this past year, popped up all over the place with a large grin and a remarkably happy disposition.

Gillard, on the other hand, fronted the ALP conference yesterday, giving an banal (as usual) speech (although Rudd, as PM, was guilty of the same sin; remember his droning acceptance speech, the night he beat Howard?), mentioning every former Labor Prime Minister - except for Rudd.

Bitch?  Ungracious?  Sour grapes?

All of that, and likely more.

Some time during the last 18 months, Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia, has utterly forgotten that the ONLY reason she is PM - albeit, a deeply loathed and appalling one - is because one Kevin Rudd convincingly defeated one John Howard.

Grace in losing is admirable, but grace in winning is a great deal more important*.  Surely an ALP lackey (or the sycophantic Bill Shorten) could have explained this before Gillard got on a stage and showed everyone the size of her bowl of sour grapes.

*Although it's still difficult to grasp what it is, really, that Gillard has won; certainly, for the rest of us the community - the loses under her rule mount day by day.

December 2, 2011