April 30, 2012

Obama’s Use of Complete Sentences Stirs Controversy

Could Imperil Reelection Hopes, Experts Say
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) – In the first term in office, President Barack Obama has broken with a tradition established over the previous eight years through his controversial use of complete sentences, political observers say.

New polls indicate that millions of Americans are put off by the President’s unorthodox verbal tic, which has Mr. Obama employing grammatically correct sentences virtually every time he opens his mouth.

Mr. Obama’s decision to use complete sentences in his public pronouncements, as well as his insistence on the correct pronunciation of the word “nuclear,” has harmed his reelection hopes among millions of voters who find his unusual speaking style unfamiliar and bizarre.

According to presidential historian Davis Logsdon of the University of Minnesota, after eight years of George W. Bush many Americans find it “alienating” to have a President who speaks English as if it were his first language.

“Every time Obama opens his mouth, his subjects and verbs are in agreement,” says Mr. Logsdon. “If he keeps it up, he is running the risk of sounding like an elitist.”

The historian said that if Mr. Obama insists on using complete sentences in his speeches, on Election Day the public may find itself saying, “Okay, subject, predicate, subject predicate – we get it, stop showing off.”

Elsewhere, consumers who believed that Nutella was nutritious have won a $3.05 million lawsuit, the highest award ever paid to morons. 

The rain falling mainly on Spain

While the normally low (by comparative international standards) suicide rate in Greece picks up a pace, over in Spain the unemployment rate is a shade under 25 per cent, which translates to 5.6 million people in need of a job.  The unemployment rate for young people is more than 50 per cent.

Retail sales - not a big surprise, with those stats - continue to fall:  21 months in a row and counting ... down, down, down.

It's safe to say that Spain is in recession, for the second time in less than three years.

Spain is the fourth largest economy in Europe. 

Economic recovery, for many countries, is proving to be hard slog and very little sunshine.

April 28, 2012

Slipper's Cabcharge slips

Peter Slipper has released a number of Cabcharge slips, proof, so he says, that no fraud has taken place, as the hand writing is clearly his, ergo, he did not hand out unsigned blank Cabcharge slips to taxi drivers.

This, apparently, casts a doubt over all claims made by his accuser, although I'm beat as to how Slipper's handwriting has any bearing - or offers proof of innocence - on the sexual harassment complaint, which appears to be remarkably well documented, if not in handwriting, certainly in crude text messages. 

However, back to the Cabcharge problem.  I'm flummoxed to think of any reason why someone in Slipper's position would risk criminal charges for actions that, as far as I can tell, garner no personal benefit.  Over-paying for taxi trips?  Paying for taxi trips not taken, or at least not plausibly taken?  Unless he has a bunch of cousins each driving taxis in different companies, why do it?  Does it result in a safer trip, a better ride, a more reliable pick up?  Again, got me beat.  There's nothing in it for Slipper.  The "why" question, in these circumstances, might never get a halfway plausible response. 

The handwriting is a side issue, when lined up with the rest of the exhibits - not yet rolled out for handwriting examination - a whole pile of trips, examined by the Financial Review (article here, behind a paywall) found an astonishing level of overpayment, that is, Slipper has had the misfortune to have drivers who take the long scenic route, no matter where he is going, and an astonishing number of identical fare charges - down to the last cent, even when travelling in different cities.  Yes, life is full of coincidences, but some coinky-dinks are more improbable than others, like these:

- Jan to March 2011 - 16 trips @ $75.68
- Jan 2010 to March 2011 - 22 trips @ $95.86
- Jan to June 2010 - 7 trips @ $126.14
- Feb to July 2010 - 24 trips @ $327.95 (all 24 trips were between Brisbane and Buderim, Slippers home)
- Aug 2010 to June 2011 - 62 trips @ either $236.35 or $268.18 (also between Brisbane and Buderim, and all paid by invoice or by reimbursement claims, not with Cabcharge)

The charges do not seem to be probable, plausible or possible.  It does seem that Slipper has a case to answer, which has nothing to do with handwriting tests.  (On one day, among other anomalies, he twice took multi-hundred-dollar drives from Brisbane to his home, with no record of a trip in the middle taking him back to Brisbane.  Or another that had him in a taxi at the exact time he booked out a hire car at an airport.  Yes, there are questions to be answered.)

I'd really like to know why he threw tax funds around, like confetti, at taxi drivers?  The reimbursement claims would have gone straight into his wallet, but not a dollar would have benefited Slipper from the surprising amount of dollars given away via Cabcharges. 

The Slipper Cabcharges - Look, it's his own handwriting!

April 26, 2012

Dead set

With everyone else pulling out, Republicans are reluctantly getting behind Mitt Romney for their next presidential nominee. 

The GOP suddenly have the option of Mittens or Mittens, so, arh, they have no fooking choice but to claim they support him.

How will this year's American election pan out?  Perhaps not how you might think:  if an election was held today (or tomorrow in their time), Obama and Romney would each get 46 per cent of the vote.



Meanwhile, the hideous Kardashians have just signed up for another three seasons of their un-reality show/s, for which they will bank $40 million-plus. 



When is Armageddon getting here?

April 25, 2012

Gillard on Slipper

Our Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has a unique take on Peter Slipper's contribution during his brief time as Speaker of the House:
''Having Mr Slipper be Speaker has enabled the government to do some important things on behalf of Australian families,'' she declared.
Of course he has.

Evidently, next year's federal election campaign will again see the ALP running with a vacuous f-word.  Last time we had the clanging emptiness of moving FORWARD.  I predict next time we're going to hear an awful, awful, awful lot about Australian FAMILIES.  But damned if I can think of anything that Gillard or Swan or Rudd have done for "families" during the last four years.

It's like Julia's other mantras:  "I'm getting on with the job"; "trust me" ... if she says them often enough, she  believes we will all believe.  And so it shall be,  Julia will click the heals of her red shoes together:  "we're fucking things up doing important things for Australian families".

Meanwhile, The Archbishop of the Anglican Communion, John Hepworth, has defended Slipper, describing him as a bit of a larrikin.  Indeed.

Shades of Whitlam era in all this babble

Wednesday Wisdom

[He] saw politics clearly as a conflict of ideas and not as a sordid battle of personal hostilities. 

Robert Menzies (after the death of John Curtin)

April 22, 2012

Left luvvies antisemitism looks ugly up close

It's difficult not to squawk:  "won't someone think of the children" when thinking or saying anything about the never-ending and exasperating Israeli / Palestine conflict. 

It's also difficult to support the expansion of the occupied territories, the wall to partition Palestinians off from access to anything at all, the day to day reality of Palestinians lined up at crossing boarders for hours on end just to go an buy some food, or supposedly to go to work (you'd figure none of them have fixed hours, right, because the conditions over there are rather worse than trying to get to work on time on a loop train in Melbourne). 

There are many reasons to be appalled, on both sides, and the anti-Israel arguments, if presented without too much detail, can be superficially seductive, which is why it's a good idea to take a cold shower once in a while.

The left has singled out Israel, for particular attention - for protests and boycotts and demonising.  Not China, not Zimbabwe, not the government of the Congo, not Mexico, where the murder rate is about 40,000 people every year, not Iran, not Afghanistan.  Not even a blink of concern for the citizens of North Korea or Cuba.  The worst of the worst, with so many truly ugly, evil, barbaric, brutal regimes to choose from - so the left tell us - is Israel; and the most sympathetic, and in need of support community in the world is Palestine. 

There is, when you look at this absurd assertion objectively, something wrong in the extreme, and it does, as time goes by, and the shrillness gets louder, begin to look more and more like mindless antisemitism than a legitimate concern with the well being of any Palestinian.  It starts to look like a deeply misguided first world indulgence.  (Much like anguish over the perpetual pending environmental Armageddon being a first world privilege.)
... the avoidance of Israel and all its ideas and wares has become a weird way of life for some people, where the aim isn't to achieve tangible political goals but rather an inner sensation of super moral smugness.
Hating Israel is no longer a serious political stance so much as a cultural signifier. It's one of the key ways through which the chattering classes now advertise their decency, their caring streak, their loathing of "evil" and their pity for "victims".

And therefore, the more conspicuous they can make their loathing of Israel, the more loudly and colourfully they can declare it, the better. That is why they constantly write letters to newspapers, tell everyone that they studiously avoid Israeli shops, and wear the Yasser Arafat-inspired keffiyeh - because these are all signifiers of moral worth and thus must be made visible to all and sundry.

Hating Israel is now like wearing a red ribbon for AIDS or making a virtue of eating only organic foodstuffs.
British luvvies' anti-Israel stance achieves nothing

Guns back

Not so much a case of guns-buy-back, more a matter of guns-never-went-away.

There are an estimated six million illegal guns in Australia, or one for each household.

Sure, I know that's loose-guns-down-the-back-of-the-couch stuff compared with gun ownership levels in the land of firearms-worship - America - still, it's an awful lot of guns for a country without a gun culture.

With so many firearms in the 'burbs, it's almost comforting to acknowledge how few shooting deaths there are each year, and slightly astonishing that there aren't more.  Why not?  Simple:  we don't have a trigger happy culture, nor is it perfectly normal to pop a gun in your pocket or handbag as you head off to buy groceries or take the kiddies to the park.

Armed and dangerous 

April 21, 2012

Oh oh - here we go

So, Joe Hockey gave the federal Labor Party their first ever free kick, only a few days ago.  Hope Gillard enjoyed her moment, because it is, surely downhill at speed from here.

Craig Thompson received a secret $160K payout from the union three years after he'd left, "compensation", or a bonus, so that he could still afford to visit brothels, I suppose.  The details are murky.  How much shit can possibly hit the fan and be flung all over the place before the ALP have to cut this cock of a man free?

Now they have two cocks to keep them awake at night (although not Julia, because nothing is so bothersome that she loses sleep, she says).  Appointing Slipper to look after the House was a sleazy move, albeit, clever and understandable.  Not risk free though, and the risks have just arrived. 

On top of his extravagant use of his government benefits, Peter Slipper has been accused of sexually harassing one of his staff, and the evidence would seem to be quite solid, based on the reports.

How long can Gillard hold the charade together?  She's supposed to hold on until at least September next year, which is looking like an awful long way off.   It's going to be an ugly, ugly, and politically useless, 17 or 18 months. 

Pass the large bucket of popcorn.

Slipper denies sexual misconduct claim 

Who is really ripping off unemployment benefits

This is galling beyond belief.  Any unemployed person, since outsourcing was introduced, could have told the government this - gratis.

They don't find jobs for people, either.  Any unemployed person could have told the government that for free, too.

Governments want to find savings, cut the fat?

Easy, take away the tens of billions of dollars given to all programs like this, which contribute and achieve nothing - there's a vast industry out there, on funding, on grants - billions and billions of dollars, year after year, never questioned - the program budgets increased each year. Many of the services rendered are, in plain language, a fraud.

A bigger fraud is that both Liberal and Labor governments initiate and continue these frauds, and tells us what a great job is being done, how efficient and effective, not to mention cheaper than keeping government services in-house.  Outsourcing is much better.  Right? 

I've always assumed that every jobs agency claims a fee every time someone gets a job, even though the agency did nothing to help the individuals identify or land a job. I thought this was a pretty obvious "loophole".

Just 42 per cent of job-finding fees claimed by employment agencies were found to be genuine in a top-level audit of the $4.7 billion welfare-to-work program.

As a result, some Job Services Australia providers - private firms and charities contracted by the government to assist the unemployed find work - now face the prospect of a fraud probe.

The inquiry suggests the job-assistance industry improperly lodged as much as $106 million of false claims in the past two years. Of this, $63.3 million was the extra loading designed to incentivise agencies to source jobs themselves for their clients.
Tip of the iceberg:  based on only 14 agencies, only six months of records, and a random sample of five per cent. 

While Joe Hockey puffs himself up with indignation and bleats about a welfare race into poverty with Asia, and Gillard and Swan cry poor and tough times for all so as to have a paper-based surplus of a couple of dollars, right under their noses are tens of billions of dollars being, effectively, stolen.  These programs should be stopped in their tracks, and not a single family in Australia would lose, the needy would not become more needy, the missing services would not be missed by anyone, and the federal budget would not only be in surplus, instantly, but a great deal of money would be freed up to spend on tangible infrastructure and the creation of jobs - worthwhile, long term employment for thousands, and desperately needed economic growth in areas other than mining.  That's what should happen, but it won't, and voters will have forgotten by tomorrow.

Agencies rorting job finder fees

April 20, 2012

Hockey shits on his own doorstep

Oh sure, Joe Hockey, shadow Treasurer for the Liberals, was in London, marking his territory, but he was playing strictly to the cheap seats - the audience for the next federal election:  you and me.

He proved himself to be a bigger dick as shadow Treasurer than we'd previously thought.

Firstly he had the audacity to berate every other country for their health, education and welfare support - yep, think American ... mull on it.  Hockey doesn't know much about our closest cousin's economy, which in itself is a mystery that warrants investigation and resolution.

Secondly, he claimed that Australia was not nearly as bad as the other bad, bad bunch.  Nope - all of Howard's uncapped non-means tested tax transfers for the needy-rich were a bit over the top, but otherwise sound economic management.

Thirdly, Hockey has just given us a glimpse of his vision for Australia's economic future, and it looks suspiciously like a "work choices" for welfare:  you know, fuck the needy, this is a race to the bottom with the rest of Asia, just as it was with wages and work conditions.

Next he'll be advocating a one child policy, capital punishment, making chewing gum illegal and following the economic model of, say, Japan or Hong Kong.

Don't worry folks, Hockey wasn't talking about taking away negative gearing, family bonuses, tax funded maternity leave, nannies, first home buyer grants.  No, he was targeting universal community-risk based health care, pensioners, the unemployed, free education, aged care.  

Biggest free kick to Gillard since ... I don't remember when.  Oh, that's right: this is her first free kick! 

Hockey blasts attitude of entitlement 

Hockey's strange road to entitlement enlightenment 

Run Joe run 

Duck Friday

April 19, 2012

Fat is everywhere, it's just unevenly distributed

 Distilling many decades of research, “Weight” chronicles how we’ve eaten our way into disease and sometimes despair. About two-thirds of American adults now qualify as overweight or obese, according to the C.D.C. 

But here’s the scariest (and trickiest) part, which deserves much more attention than it has received and must be factored into our response: we may be doing nothing more or less than what comes naturally to us. Our current circumstances and our current circumferences may in fact be a toxically perfect fit. 

Following in the heavy footsteps of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” “The End of Overeating,” “The End of Food” and much else, “The Weight of the Nation” makes an especially persuasive case that gluttony isn’t Americans’ problem. Agriculture and abundance are. 

Over the last century, we became expert at the mass production of crops like corn, soybeans and wheat — a positive development, for the most part. 

We also became expert at feedlots for livestock and at processing those crops into salty, sweet, fatty, cheap and addictive seductions. This has downsides. 

Densely caloric and all too convenient food now envelops us, and many of us do what we’re chromosomally hard-wired to, thanks to millenniums of feast-and-famine cycles. We devour it, creating plump savings accounts of excess energy, sometimes known as love handles, for an imagined future shortage that, in America today, doesn’t come. 

“We’re simply not genetically programmed to refuse calories when they’re within arm’s reach,” said Thomas A. Farley, New York City’s health commissioner, when I spoke to him recently. He is one of dozens of leading physicians, academicians and public-health experts who appear in “The Weight of the Nation.”

John Hoffman, an executive producer of the documentary, told me: “Evolutionarily, there was no condition that existed when we were living with too much fat storage. We’ve only known a world of plenty for maybe 100 years. Our biological systems haven’t adapted to it.” 

This is probably summed up best by Michael L. Power and Jay Schulkin in their book “The Evolution of Obesity.” “We evolved on the savannahs of Africa,” they write. “We now live in Candyland.” 

Our systems aren’t just rigged to gorge.
No, they're not, and yet people in first world countries, in particular, insist on gorging, and all of those advances in food production - over production - have benefited the already over nourished.

I don't see how this "oh gosh, we devour food because it's there" argument contributes to the problem of resource and economic inequality, nor the evolution to instant-over-gratification societies, filled with people who, apparently, have lost the knowledge that we eat to live, and preferably live well, not live to gorge. 

I hope the book and the four part HBO documentary have more to offer than this trite core point, I'm sure they do, otherwise it will be a total waste of a great title - The Weight of the Nation - and love handles for all.

April 18, 2012

Wednesday Wisdom

Chastity - the most unnatural of all the sexual perversions. 

Aldous Huxley

April 16, 2012

Just keep telling yourself that ...

You think our politicians are the most deluded bunch to have ever sat in a parliament?

Not so

North Korea can't successfully launch a fire cracker, but their leadership sure as shit wins first prize for delusions of grandeur.
"Yesterday, we were a weak and small country trampled upon by big powers. Today, our geopolitical location remains the same, but we are transformed into a proud political and military power and an independent people that no one can dare provoke."
Kim Jung-Un, in his first public speech since assuming the leadership of North Korea.

North Korean leader stresses need for strong military ... yeah, 'cause they're a sitting duck and everyone is out to get them; not paranoid, much.  As for not daring to provoke: alas, the moral will of the West is highly selective.  North Korean citizens deserve to be liberated, and given a good feed.  It wouldn't take much - throw a few hand grenades, a handwritten note sacking the government, and a send in half a dozen paper planes. 

April 14, 2012

The undead and organ havesting

In an American study, 37 percent of patients in PVS (persistent vegetative state) were found to be conscious. In a British study, 43 percent. In PVS, the patient’s brain stem is functioning, and he can breathe on his own, but his higher brain is theoretically dead. Some of the people in the British study had been supposedly unconscious for four years, but using PET scans and other techniques, the researchers found activity in the cortex, and they were able to communicate with these patients. The most common mistake is that many PVS patients have been struck down by stroke, which can blind them, and the bedside tests for PVS are weighted toward eye examination, which blind people do poorly at. The scary thing here is that the organ transplant industry has its eye on PVS patients, estimated at being 100,000 strong in the U.S. alone. A 2008 White Paper from the President’s Council on Bioethics suggests that the donor pool be expanded to include both brain-dead and PVS patients, ignoring the fact that 37 to 43 percent of PVS patients have been misdiagnosed.
It’s true that as much as 65 percent of brain death exams are done incorrectly, and many doctors could not list the criteria for brain death correctly. Doctors I talked to said not to worry about patients moving about on the table or their blood pressure or heart rate spiking during harvest. These were just post-death reflexes, not an indication of pain or awareness. And yet the Harvard Criteria, the ur-text of brain death published in 1968, specifically state that there should be no reflexes and no movement. But the bigger problem is that brain death as death per se is a fiction. There is no scientific purpose for brain death. It’s a serious, serious kind of coma, but not death. It was made death for practical reasons. The heart of a brain-dead person still beats, and circulates blood to the organs, keeping them fresh for their future owners. And though the 1981 UDDA (Uniform Determination of Death Act) states that the “whole brain” must be dead, the whole brain is rarely tested. Usually, only activity in the brain stem is tested, not the cortex or higher structures of the brain, where consciousness, pain, and pleasure are interpreted. 
Dick Teresi Talks About the Line Between Life and Death

Book review - The Undead, by  Dick Teresi


Trying really hard to summon up Satan some response and level of enthusiasm over the news that Pitt and Jolie are engaged. 

I got nothin'.

c/o Kath - beaut piece from a commenter over at Iain Hall's, which concludes:
"It is now time for me to hand on leadership to the motley rabble I call my colleagues. I am, after all, 666. I want to leave the ship before it sinks, content that the Greens have managed to destroy Australia’s economy for years to come. I’m particularly proud of the carbon tax in this respect.

This morning Party Room unanimously elected Christine Milne as Leader. Christine has been my great colleague and friend for the past 25 years and she will be a frighteningly bad leader of the Australian Greens.
I am ready to enjoy the other green pursuits, such as flying around the Milky Way with my new alien friends. Yes Earthians, they did call!

The Greens are an illogical response to the post industrial age human community’s need to secure the biosphere, biodiversity, equal opportunity and long-term economic, employment and lifestyle security. Greens political philosophy will spread like a cancer, bulldozing away the rights of any individual.

The future is Red.

April 13, 2012

Important announcement to Earthians

Earlier today, Bob Brown announced his resignation from politics, to take effect in a few short months. 

Earthians everywhere are now drunk with happiness. 

Julia has no friends

Premiers, big business, small business, medium business, greenies, voters, domestic animals, small children, pot plants - doesn't matter where you look, our Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has no fans, has no friends. 

Anyone else would be a bit worried.  Not Julia.  She blindly sallies forth, "getting things done" - stuff that no sane person wants her to do. 

The premiers are being dicks on the World Heritage front though:  how about they worry about some basics, like jobs, infrastructure, building a sound future, rather than the peculiar preoccupation with digging up World Heritage sites - hardly a priority, not a burning concern. 

Everyone busy attaching the Prime Minister

Duck Friday

April 12, 2012

Bit Rich

Clive Palmer - he who bleats quite a bit about billionaires paying too much tax - didn't pay any tax via his private company last year, and precious little in the two years prior. 

Clive:  it's time to keep a much lower political profile.  Seriously dude, if you're leveraging your losses in such a manner as to avoid even one dollar of tax, you should spare the proletariat your lectures about what's fair, just, equitable and wealth-generating. 

Magnate's company paid no tax 

April 11, 2012

Mittens it is!

Rick Santorum has suspended his bid for the White House, effectively making Mitt Romney the Republican candidate for the November presidential election.
Santorum pulls out of race for White House 

Wednesday Wisdom

One can understand life looking backwards, but one must live in the future. 

Søren Kierkegaard

April 10, 2012

Real humans eat meat

Read this article, all of it.

What's your beef?

While reading, be mindful that the burps of cattle are not the only lies, distortions and pseudo science trotted out to manipulate and guilt you into a sheep-like belief in a great deal of nonsense about carbon emissions and your own body - your nutritional intake and physical well being.

Every day, in pretty much every way, we should all have a beef:  about the endless lies and distortions aimed at amending human behaviors, aimed at impinging on our private domains. It's a deluge.  

April 9, 2012

Q & A

Dawkins and Pell on Q&A:  where the hell did they get the audience?  They're twits, they applaud anything and everything, most especially utterly contrary points.  They also seem to have never acquired rudimentary scientific knowledge during their primary and secondary school educations.

Pell, on the other hand, has no such excuse.  He's supposed to be god's top guy in this country, yet can only muster the most child-like responses and explanations.

Gawd, it's awful viewing.

This, I suppose, is why I don't normally watch Q&A.  I'd smash too many televisions.


A reasonable summary of the whole tedious business:

Dawkins shades Pell in battle of beliefs

April 6, 2012

Ugliest buildings in the world

18: The Longaberger Basket Company building in Newark, Ohio. Opened in 1997
 Tough competition:  pick the ugliest buildings in the world.

Our Melbourne Federation Square comes in at number eight, which I thought was too kind, but having seen the others, I now think the ranking is reasonably fair - yep Fed Square actually could have been much worse than it is.

Top 21 ugliest buildings in the world 

Duck Friday

April 5, 2012

It's not easy being ... err ... really average looking

So as not to be thought of as an intellectual snob or elitist, I like to occasionally jump on the bandwagon of viral interweb outbreaks.  One such outbreak relates to a UK journalist, Samantha Brick (now that's a heavy moniker), writing about the burdens of being a beautiful woman and generally banging on about why other women hate her.

First (because it's more deserving), some local Oz commentary from Jacqueline Maley:
For it hurts me deeply that other women don't seem to like me, which is why I have written an article asserting my innate superiority over them and at the same time insulting them for being so petty-minded that they cannot get over themselves and just, for the love of God, see past the dazzle of my looks to my lovely personality.

My friends (all male, of course, and one or two lesbians - they, too, are helpless to resist my charms) have given me some interesting feedback on my plight and that of Samantha Brick.

Maybe, said one, Samantha's beauty is matched only by her instinct for self-promotion.

In one 24-hour period, she has managed to become a global sensation, spawning homages and earnest think-pieces on why women are so unkind to each other.

Her original piece, for Britain's Daily Mail, attracted more than 4000 online comments, untold amounts of traffic for the website and no doubt sales of the paper, which featured a follow-up story in which Brick conveniently argued the vitriol just proved her original point - that all women are eye-scratchingly jealous of each other.

Maybe, said another, the reason other women don't like Samantha is just the usual reason women don't like other women - coz she is not very nice.

Both these explanations I dismissed out of (exquisitely manicured) hand.
It ain't easy bein' pretty as a brick 

Of course, I HAD to click the story, mostly to see a picture of Brick.  Well, she must be gob-smackingly gor-ge-arse, mustn't she?  *Sigh*  She's not.  What a let down.  Ordinary, nicely groomed, dyed blonde on regular basis, around 40 years old, probably older, but well preserved.  (My guess, prior to reading the piece by Brick.) 

While I presume Brick hasn't made up her lifetime of anecdotes, and sure, one could accuse her of being "brave" or "honest", I can't imagine meeting her (at any age - hers or mine) and feeling snitchy and bitchy about her.  She looks like millions of other women, none of whom I'd give a second thought - unless they were memorable for being charming, friendly, witty or exceptionally talented and smart, all of which would be delightful.  Perhaps Brick has a captivating personality. That's all I can think that might explain her strange belief that other women hate her for her beauty. Although she only lays claim to beauty, not other enviable attributes.

That we're well into the 21st century and crap like this is published disturbs me greatly.  I wouldn't mind if there were serious articles by men - "Why other men hate me in the gym / for being rich / for my big cock / for changing nappies / for my beard", etc, etc, so that it was equal opportunity trashing of the genders - but it's only ever women dumping on other women over personal matters (and don't men love the spectacle of women bitching about each other, all the energy that goes into that activity, instead of taking over the world?).  
I say the same about the endless women-bashing via breast feeding, or child care, or what age to breed, or when to give up wearing skirts above the knees, and on and on and on it goes.  What women can and can't do, is always up for a bitter, nasty public fight.  There is no equivalent ongoing public debate about men.  When, oh when will this stop?

Tim Dowling has fun at Brick's expense with his piece, but that's point - it's FUN.  He's satirizing.  No man would be stupid or asinine enough to seriously write about how ridiculously good looking he is and how his life has been blighted by other men hating him because of it.   The Dowling response merely proves why the Brick piece should never have been published.  It doesn't deserve our time - yet I am giving it time, yes
If you're a man, on the other hand, you've doubtless already formed an opinion about me. You almost certainly find me a threat – a threat to your career, your relationship, your masculinity. It's not something many men will dare to speak publicly about, but being terribly, terribly handsome is a double-edged sword. For every female Starbucks employee who made it her business to remember my name, there was a male employer telling me to do up my top three shirt buttons in the office. I can't tell you how many male acqaintances have stopped speaking to me over the years for petty "reasons" (unpaid debts, being alleged source of unpleasant rumour, refusal to appear as character witness), when jealousy is the transparent cause. I'll probably never know how many women have been too intimidated by my looks to talk to me, but I know exactly how many men have been angered enough by my face to try to punch it.

I don't invite the attention. I've come to dread the sarcastic, whispered comments in the gym about my physique, my chiseled jaw, my loose-hanging tank tops. At times I've found it so stressful that I've even taken steps to play down my physical beauty. I tried wearing a hoodie all day, but they wouldn't let me into Harrod's food hall, where the lady at the cheese counter sometimes gives me free samples, even though I hardly ever buy anything. More recently I decided to grow a beard, just to blend in with "normal" men. It helps a little, but there are only so many parts of a face a beard can cover. You can't grow hair on soulful, beseeching eyes, for example. Also, stuff gets caught in a beard – food, small leaves, postage stamps – which just gives women another excuse to strike up a conversation, and their jealous partners another reason to roll their eyes.

I know some people (men) will feel obliged to cast aspersions on my looks – believe me, I've heard it all before – but I won't apologise for the truth. I can already anticipate the global backlash my courageous honesty will generate: the nasty tweets, the threatening emails, the bad-mouthing from Jeremy Vine (it's beneath you, Jeremy, it really is). That won't stop me. I'm prepared to meet my critics face to face, on social media, to put my case. I've dug down and exposed an issue very few gorgeous men are prepared to talk about. And I intend to keep right on digging. After all, your hatred only proves my point.
"Oh Lord it's hard to be humble, when you're perfect in every way.

I can't wait to look in the mirror, 'cos I get better looking each day...."

April 4, 2012

Our intelligence agencies

ASIO Headquarters - Canberra
The release of a white paper about Australia's intelligence agencies, in January this year, must have been done in a whisper.  I have no memory of it.  However, no mind - no concerns or criticisms were raised.  Our intelligence agencies are hunky-dory:  nothing to see, move along. 
Black and Cornall justify this vastly increased spending on intelligence agencies by listing what they call ''many notable outcomes'', including a couple of convictions a year against ''terrorist'' plotters, support for military operations, disrupting people-smuggling, countering cyberthreats and the like. However, as the supremely wise Frenchman Michel de Montaigne cautioned in the 16th century, ''plans must not be judged by results'' and ''outcomes provide meagre testimony of our worth and ability''.
I spy another intelligence whitewash 

Wednesday Wisdom

One should not aspire to high office, one should aspire to having the qualities the public would want you to have in high office. 


April 3, 2012

Gillard out of touch no matter the subject

More than 80 per cent of Age readers responding to an online survey believe that the illegal drug problem would be best addressed with decriminalisation, rather than the failed criminalisation path.

Julia Gillard, our tone deaf, off in some other drone-like universe, Prime Minister disagrees - with no equivocation, of course; because she never equivocates, does she, not on anything, no matter how wrong she is, off she goes - where ever the people are not following, that's where we'll find Julia.  Not far behind will be Wayne Swan and the rest of her parrot-happy cabinet chums.

Carr is an exception, in this instance, but his contribution to this particular debate was made prior to his entrance to federal politics, and he now says he will tow the party line.

Australia's war on drugs has failed (and so has everyone else's ... just ask more than 45,000 people murdered in Mexico each year; ooops, that's right, you can't ask them - count the bodies instead)

Gillard rejects calls for rethink on drug laws 

Australia21 - The prohibition of illicit drugs is killing and criminalising our children and we are letting it happen

Stand your ground ... and shoot

As the investigation of the shooting death of the teenager Trayvon Martin by a self-appointed neighborhood watchman goes forward in Florida, news accounts are reporting a toll of shootings, knifings and other violent homicides in which the state’s dangerous Stand Your Ground law was successfully claimed as a defense.

The killings included domestic disputes, barroom brawls and drug violence, according to The Tampa Bay Times, which surveyed 130 cases in which the 2005 law has been invoked. Seventy percent of the cases involved a fatality; more than half of the cases did not have to go to trial.

So far, that is the laissez-faire situation in the Trayvon Martin slaying. The civilian shooter, George Zimmerman, ignored a 911 dispatcher’s instructions, tracked the teen he found suspicious, unholstered his gun and fired — and then claimed immunity under the law. With the boy dead, Mr. Zimmerman was taken at his word when he claimed that his life was threatened in a confrontation. 

The victim was unarmed, walking back from a store. A videotape of Mr. Zimmerman’s arrival handcuffed at the local police headquarters shows none of the cuts and bruises he claimed resulted from an attack by the teenager. Audio experts have been asked to analyze police tapes of screams from the scene and a possible racial epithet uttered by Mr. Zimmerman about the black teenager. ...

Mr. Zimmerman’s gated community, a 260-unit housing complex, sits in a racially mixed suburb of Orlando, Fla. Mr. Martin’s “suspicious” profile amounted to more than his black skin. He was profiled as young, loitering, non-property-owning and poor. Based on their actions, police officers clearly assumed Mr. Zimmerman was the private property owner and Mr. Martin the dangerous interloper. After all, why did the police treat Mr. Martin like a criminal, instead of Mr. Zimmerman, his assailant? Why was the black corpse tested for drugs and alcohol, but the living perpetrator wasn’t? 

Across the United States, more than 10 million housing units are in gated communities, where access is “secured with walls or fences,” according to 2009 Census Bureau data. Roughly 10 percent of the occupied homes in this country are in gated communities, though that figure is misleadingly low because it doesn’t include temporarily vacant homes or second homes. Between 2001 and 2009, the United States saw a 53 percent growth in occupied housing units nestled in gated communities. 

Another related trend contributed to this shooting: our increasingly privatized criminal justice system. The United States is becoming even more enamored with private ownership and decision making around policing, prisons and probation. Private companies champion private “security” services, alongside the private building and managing of prisons. 

Stand Your Ground” or “Shoot First” laws like Florida’s expand the so-called castle doctrine, which permits the use of deadly force for self-defense in one’s home, as long as the homeowner can prove deadly force was reasonable. Thirty-two states now permit expanded rights to self-defense. 

In essence, laws nationwide sanction reckless vigilantism in the form of self-defense claims. A bunker mentality is codified by law. 

Those reducing this tragedy to racism miss a more accurate and painful picture. Why is a child dead? The rise of “secure,” gated communities, private cops, private roads, private parks, private schools, private playgrounds — private, private, private —exacerbates biased treatment against the young, the colored and the presumably poor. 
George Zimmerman seems to have taken a private vow to protect and defend — but, for some reason, he has not realized his stated desire to become a police officer. (In 2009, though, he was accepted into Seminole County’s Community Law Enforcement Academy, in which students take tours of the courthouse and jail, go on ride-alongs with sheriff’s department employees and visit a firing range.) 

“I don’t think it was safety that he was concerned with as much as people’s rights and people’s welfare,” his father said. “And where he was living has a lot of problems with people coming in and burglarizing. I think he became alarmed, and he helped organize the neighborhood watch.” 

Police records over the last several years suggest a man who was quite familiar with 911 dispatchers; who seemed, somehow, to be always in the middle of things. In October 2003, for example, on perhaps his greatest day in civic vigilance, Mr. Zimmerman chased after and assisted in the capture of a man who had stolen two 13-inch TV/DVD players from an Albertsons. 

Mostly, though, his calls were less exciting, more anticipatory. Dangerous potholes. Stray dogs. Speeding vehicles. Open garage doors. Suspicious characters. On Feb. 2, he reported seeing a black man in a black leather jacket and printed pajamas in the Retreat; nothing came of it. 

This is what George Zimmerman did. ...

“Hey, we’ve had some break-ins in my neighborhood,” Mr. Zimmerman said to start the conversation with the dispatcher. “And there’s a real suspicious guy.” 

This guy seemed to be up to no good; like he was on drugs or something; in a gray hoodie. Asked to describe him further, he said, “He looks black.” 

“Now he’s just staring at me,” he said. 

The incomplete knowledge of the next six minutes, from about 7:11 to about 7:17, comes from recorded 911 calls; a few witnesses who often heard more than saw; Mr. Zimmerman’s account, as told to others; the police account, as told to the Martin and Zimmerman families; and a 16-year-old girlfriend in Miami who was on the telephone at the time with Trayvon. 

Mr. Zimmerman told the dispatcher that this “suspicious guy” was in his late teens, with something in his hands. He asked how long it would be before an officer arrived, because “These assholes, they always get away.” 

Mr. Zimmerman’s father said that what largely aroused his son’s suspicion was how this person was walking close to the town houses, and not on the sidewalk or in the street. Perhaps someone up to no good — or, perhaps, someone disoriented in a maze of identical structures, ducking the rain and looking for the house he had left less than an hour before. 

Around the same time, Trayvon told the girlfriend he was talking to by cellphone that somebody was watching him, according to Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for Trayvon’s family. The lawyer said that the girl, whose name has not been released, said she told Trayvon to run — and that Trayvon responded by saying: “I’m going to walk fast.” 

Mr. Zimmerman told the dispatcher that the hooded figure was now running. He jumped out of his car to follow him, the beep-beep of his car, as recorded on the 911 call, announcing the instant that he moved beyond his understood mandate as neighborhood watch coordinator. 

The wind could be heard whooshing through Mr. Zimmerman’s cellphone as he tried to keep the visitor in view. Also heard is a garbled epithet that some have interpreted to be a racial slur, though his father insisted that his son would never say anything like that. Dispatcher: “Are you following him?” 

Mr. Zimmerman: “Yeah.” 

Dispatcher: “O.K., we don’t need you to do that.” 

Mr. Zimmerman: “O.K.” 

He and the dispatcher arranged for Mr. Zimmerman to meet a police officer near the mailboxes at the development’s clubhouse, and the call ended with a “thank you” and a “you’re welcome.” 

Some of what happened next, along a poorly lighted path that runs between the back ends of two long rows of town houses, is lost to the night. 

According to what the girlfriend has told Mr. Crump, Trayvon asked the man why he was following him, and the man responded by asking what Trayvon was doing there. She said she heard what sounded like the earpiece to Trayvon’s cellphone falling away before the line went dead. There was no answer when she tried calling back. ...

Sanford police have said that once Mr. Zimmerman declared that he had shot Trayvon in the chest in self-defense, they were barred from arresting him by the state’s now-famous Stand Your Ground law, the broadest protection of self-defense in the country. It immediately requires law enforcement officials to prove that a suspect did not act in self-defense, and sets the case on a slow track.  ...

For example, the lawyers said that, as of late last week, no investigator had interviewed Trayvon’s girlfriend. ...
Trayvon Martin had it coming, or so we will soon be led to believe. The surely unattractive details of his short life as a black man in America will tumble forward—his troubles in school, the weed baggie that got him suspended, the altercation in which police and George Zimmerman claim he was the aggressor. He was a maladjusted, Negro man-child, so ferocious he could kill an armed man with his bare hands. He had to die. ...

On Monday, local law enforcement offered a preview of this old, familiar narrative when someone leaked Zimmerman’s account of the night to the Orlando Sentinel. According to the Sentinel, Zimmerman had given up his hunt of Martin and was returning to his SUV when the 17-year-old caught him by surprise. Do you have a problem, Martin is said to have asked, before answering for himself, “Well, you do now.” He reportedly began pummelling Zimmerman, leading the armed man to shoot and kill. Sadly, it’s necessary to point out that there isn’t an imaginable scenario in which an armed man can shoot an unarmed child to death and it be okay. But set that obvious fact to the side. Trayvon Martin did in fact have it coming. He was born black and male in the United States and was thus marked for death. ...

Of course, this violent manifestation of white supremacy is not visited upon black male bodies alone. Indeed, as Tea Party candidates like Nevada’s Sharron Angle reminded us in the past election cycle, we must very much begin to see Latinos in the same way—lurking, dangerous, illegal. Fear and loathe them. If you encounter them on a dark street be ready to go to arms. And so Latino men have a lengthening gruesome roll call, too.

Surely all these people have done something to bring the murder, the poverty, the brutality down upon themselves! That’s America’s unique twist on systemic oppression. We cage people, then call them animals. We starve people, then jibe them for being malnourished. We write laws that allow people to gun down unarmed children and then make the child the aggressor. And so now Trayvon Martin will be all manner of sinner—a pothead, a dropout, a ne’er-do-well with a temper problem who had it coming. But what he will indisputably be is dead, like too many before him and surely many after him. He had it coming, as a black man in America.
The fatal flaw in Florida-style gun laws

The gated community mentality 

In the eye of a firestorm

The Trayvon Martin had it coming narrative

Compare with this incident - After police shooting of Pasadena student 911 caller arrested ... involuntary manslaughter - it's not taxing to join some dots and wonder how this is any different; except that the Martin killing is protected by a law that allows people to shoot, claim they were 'standing their ground', then figure out a story to match.

April 2, 2012

Bob Brown offers eternity

Apart from coining new words - Eathians, extincted - Bob Brown confirmed his goal of one global government, inspired and led by the Australian Greens.  With startling candor, Bob offered eternity to Earthians, thus flagging his side-plan to replace all religions with God Bob.
The ''Earth parliament'' would have goals of economy (prudent resource management), equality, ecology and eternity (the non-religious kind - ''the pursuit of eternity is no longer the prerogative of the gods - it is the business of us all, here and now'').

Politicians talk about vision but not usually like this. ''Recently, when I got back to bed at Liffey [the property he has gifted to Bush Heritage] after ruminating under the stars on this question for hours, Paul [his partner] inquired, 'Did you see a comet?' 'Yes,' I replied, 'And it is called Global Democracy.''
Brown a Green of many colours 
So why isn't life out there contacting us? Why aren't the intergalactic phones ringing?

Here is one sobering possibility for our isolation: maybe life has often evolved to intelligence on other planets with biospheres and every time that intelligence, when it became able to alter its environment, did so with catastrophic consequences. Maybe we have had many predecessors in the Cosmos but all have brought about their own downfall.

That's why they are not communicating with Earth. They have extincted themselves. They have come and gone. And now it's our turn.

In 2003 our other Greens senator, Kerry Nettle, seconded the motion but we failed to attract a single other vote in the 76-seat chamber. The four other parties - the Liberals, the Nationals, Labor and the Democrats - voted ''no!''. As he crossed the floor to join the no's, one senator called to me: ''Bob, don't you know how many Chinese there are?''

Well, yes I did. Surely that is the point. There are just 23 million Australians among 7 billion equal Earthians. Unless and until we accord every other citizen of the planet, friend or foe, and regardless of race, gender, ideology or other characteristic, equal regard we, like them, can have no assured future.

Let us determine to bring ourselves together, settle our differences, and shape and realise our common dream for this joyride into the future. In that pursuit, let us create a global democracy and parliament under the grand idea of one planet, one person, one vote, one value.
Global democracy alone will save us from ourselves 
Yet the more Labor gives to the Greens the more they want. And Labor has followed them, chasing its former supporters to the left instead of trying to fight for the middle ground.

All the evidence suggests this will prove fatal, not just to a transient government but to the prospects for the party across the nation for some time to come.

Apart from the carbon tax, Labor has given the Greens a $10 billion green energy fund, undermining the economic credibility of the government's carbon tax package. The ALP has also fallen for the Greens-generated gay marriage push -- not necessarily unwise or unpopular except that a government struggling with the basics is signalling to the electorate that it might have its priorities wrong.

Similarly the Greens have lured the Gillard government into an argument with the media and an ill-advised excursion into media regulation. The green agenda has pushed state Labor governments to favour wind turbines and solar schemes that continue to push up power prices; and desalination plants, obsolete already, that have driven up water rates.

In the Labor-Green alliance it is the Greens agenda that has triumphed but it is Labor that has paid the price.
Just to rub it in, Greens senator Lee Rhiannon told me on Sky News on the weekend that "Labor's problems are of Labor's making; it's like they don't have confidence in themselves and they've lost the confidence of the electorate."

Those words demonstrate clearly that the parasite on the left wing of politics is happy to kill its host. "For a long time Labor has tried to walk both sides of the road," Rhiannon said, shamelessly claiming Labor had abandoned workers for corporations and failed to protect public assets. To cap it off, this senator for the party that forced Labor's hand on a carbon tax, audaciously suggested that Labor needed to focus on cost of living issues.

Earth to Julia Gillard: these Green Earthians are not your friends.
Earth to Gillard:  Watch Bob Brown