Friday, March 31, 2006

Honest John's "Soviet Style Command and Control Systems

In another chapter in the development of the socialist republic of Oztralia, the conservative H. R. Nicholls Society has attacked the Federal Government's new workplace laws, comparing them to a Stalinist regime of command and control. The H. R. Nicholls Society has been one of the staunchest supporters of deregulating the industrial relations system.

Society president Ray Evans yesterday found common ground with the union movement. ACTU secretary Greg Combet said last week that the new laws gave the Government "Kremlin-like" control and scrutiny.

Mr Evans told the ABC's Inside Business yesterday: "It's rather like going back to the old Soviet system of command and control, where every economic decision has to go to some central authority and get ticked off."

They also give Workplace Minister Kevin Andrews sweeping powers to monitor every workplace in the country. Big Brother meets Big Business.

"We feel very let down by the WorkChoices legislation," Mr Evans said. "I don't believe the Howard Government is that keen on freedom. This new legislation is all about regulation." Mr Evans, a committed federalist, also criticised Prime Minister John Howard for using the corporations power to override the states' industrial systems.

"He is a centralist," he said. "He's the most centralist PM since Gough Whitlam. This attempt on his behalf to diminish the role of the states to concentrate all power in Canberra is very much to Australia's detriment."

Seems to me if it looks like a duck then it is a duck.

So you thought Honest John was a conservative

Ten years of John Howard's supposedly conservative leadership has turned Australia into something of a socialist utopia. While that may sound extreme, consider: There are now 700,000 Australians on the Disability Support Pension, an increase of 20 per cent in the past five years – a time when workplaces have become ever safer. According to the Australian, not so. Australia is more like Sweden in the way it takes and distributes tax to keep people broke and happy. The consequence is middle income earners being squished and then given some bones to keep them happy. Here the marginal tax slug, made worse by bracket creep, is particularly cruel: a couple with one earner making $50,000 a year and the other $33,000 loses 61.5c out of every additional dollar they make. This social engineering squishes initiative and is a major disincentive to getting ahead.

How to Get the Conclusions You Want on Tax

According to the Australian, the independence of Sir Peter Costalot's review of the nation's tax system has been called into question, with bureaucrats in his own department dictating the report's content. Late last month, the Treasurer appointed two leading business figures (buddies) to conduct an (independent) study comparing Australia's tax competitiveness with other nations, to address concerns that the Government are a little too greedy with their tax take, especially with Ozzie battlers (like us).

But The Australian has learned that almost all the work is being done by a team of nine Treasury officials who are conducting the research and drafting the report in order to meet the April 3 deadline set by Sir Peter. It is understood that the Treasury team has been sending drafts of chapters detailing their conclusions for the authors' comments. But it is understood Treasury failed to include some of the authors' amendments and suggested changes in revised drafts. No doubt Sir Peter's is trying to burnish his image as he tries to hang in there for a better job.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Now I know my ABCDEFailure....

Thank goodness the Australian Education Union (AEU) have taken a strong position on the loony Commonwealth bribe to the States of more money in return for a commitment to grade kids from A to E in their report cards in Primary School. Thanks Brendan (not). Their members have voted not to implement the system.

According to the AEU South Australia website, 96 percent of school sub-branches that have responded to the AEU have determined to ban the Federal Government failing report cards and are continuing with locally developed reporting formats.

AEU members have expressed anger at being required to award A-E grades to Year 1 to Year 10 students using the SACSA frameworks. Members are to be congratulated for their principled stand in protecting their professional integrity and the educational well-being of students.

I just think that it would be devastating for many kids who struggle at school to have this added burden. Incoming a major self esteem squasher and major demotivator all rolled into one.

I am on the Governing Council at school and believe strongly that they have a role to play too. On with the struggle.

Nature Table

Our kids love to pick up stones, sticks, flowers, leaves and other nature things. Yesterday my wife took the kids to school and Hannah accumulated some nice stones. Mum was instructed to display them at work, which she did. Her group are planning to establish a nature table to improve work energy and to have a tranquil meditative location in the midst of the hustle bustle of the work routine. Last night I ended up carrying three branches, 5 pieces of bark, 7 olives, 3 stones and some flowers (along with 2 school bags and the dog). It is the collecting that counts, since the lure of chocolate biscuits and kids television allow the nature objects to be immediately forgotten when we get home.

Finally it is Autumn

It has really cooled down now as Autumn rolls in. I like it. It is still warm during the day. The plants love it as they recover from the toils of unreasonably hot weather.

Footy Tipping

Footy Tipping is front and central everywhere you look and listen, with the start of the season tonight. I am in a pool at work, which is a basic responsibility of all civic minded employees. Here in South Australia it is only Australian Rules that matters. Depending on footy results, productivity is low or really low as partisans dissect the matches. It is an interesting Ozzie phenomenon, with an easy Monday morning conversation topic for blokes and blokesses. My wife established her credibility with the guys and her career at work when she joined her office tipping pool. For the best tips, go to Coco.

Utter Hypocracy

One of Indonesia's biggest-selling newspapers has depicted John Howard and Alexander Downer as a pair of sex-crazed dingoes, dragging media outrage over the Papua visa row down to a new low.

The front page of the Islamic-leaning Rakyat Merdeka (People's Freedom) newspaper was dominated by the cartoon of the two having sex under a palm tree on an otherwise barren island signposted "Papua".

Headlined "The adventures of two dingoes", the drawing shows Mr Howard as the dominant dog, shaking as he tells the foreign minister: "I want Papua!! Alex, try to make it happen".

Not that I like Honest John or Honest Alex, the cartoon is pretty low. I think fair minded Australians need to take to the streets and burn some embassies. No desecration of Australian family icons. I wonder what this newspapers position was on the Danish cartoons.

Not to be outdone, The Australian got in on the act on April 1. Not sure it was a joke.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Scary Atheists worse than Satan

University of Minnesota researchers have found that Americans rate atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in “sharing their vision of American society.” Atheists are also the minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their children to marry.
Even though atheists are few in number (about 3 percent of the population), not formally organized and relatively hard to publicly identify, they are seen as a threat to the American way of life by a large portion of the American public.
The authors argue that today’s atheists play the role that Catholics, Jews and communists have played in the past—they offer a symbolic moral boundary to membership in American society. “It seems most Americans believe that diversity is fine, as long as every one shares a common ‘core’ of values that make them trustworthy—and in America, that ‘core’ has historically been religious,” says the author. Many of the study’s respondents associated atheism with an array of moral indiscretions ranging from criminal behavior to rampant materialism and cultural elitism.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Get Down

List of the top ten guitar solos of all time.

Top 10 guitar solos
1) Led Zeppelin - Stairway to Heaven 2) Van Halen - Eruption 3) Guns N' Roses - Paradise City 4) The Eagles - Hotel California 5) Metallica - Enter Sandman 6) Cream - Crossroads 7) Jimi Hendrix - Voodoo Child (Slight Return) 8) Ozzy Osbourne - Crazy Train 9) Free - All Right Now 10) Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Goodbye Brompton Community Garden

Since moving to Adelaide, I have become interested in gardening. My father in law got interested in gardening at the same time and we often went to the Brompton Community Garden to buy interesting and cheap plants. The guys who ran it were friendly and knowledgeable. My garden is infinitely more interesting for their input. It is sad to see the demise with the development of housing in this area. Although a final decision has not been taken, it seems like it will close, certainly in its current form. Snowy, the ancient plant oracle, with his white hair, who sits in the shed and takes the money and doles out lollies to kids will be sorely missed. I always admired their sense of humour, and their funny notes. The following are good examples.

My wife and I were happy for 20 years and then we met. I still miss my wife, but my aim is improving. Marriage means commitment; so does insanity.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Way Out There Bedroom

Ryan's next creation is a psychadelic treat. Imagine trying to relax and chill out in here. More creative genius here.

Groovy Toilet

Ryan made this Groovy Toilet using Kid Pix, the greatest piece of software for kids out there.

Cesaria Evora

While I was thinking about Cape Verde, I dug out my Cesaria Evora CD's and had a listen. She has a great voice and was unknown, until she was around 50. I got to know about this music through the Soul of Cape Verde CD, a very nice collection, but no longer available.

Blue doors

Blue doors
Originally uploaded by Mammakillen.

I love photographs of doors and windows. This is from Cabo Verde, source of much fantastic music.

Sacred Heart

This is from Balamban, Cebu, , which is a part of the Philippines I used to visit regularly for work. Although I am not religious, my many trips to the Philippines made me realise what an incredible influence religion has on people. The verse of the day,from the Balamban Municipal Website tells it all. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 (Allelujah Amen 10 Hail Marys and Recite the Rosary and they all lived happily ever after). Religious symbols are everywhere, from the jeepneys, to offices, homes and buildings, even churches. The sacred heart, the devotional symbol of Jesus's suffering is one of the strongest symbols. Most Philippinos are incredibly influenced by the Catholic Church and all that it stands for (including no birth control). Very smart,nice people, stuck with a bankrupt government, with leaders like Marcos and Erap, poverty and a corrupt political and social culture in a mostly beautiful country (outside Metro Manila).

Friday, March 24, 2006

Welcome little tadpoles

Our latest family members are two little tadpoles. Not sure what we will do with them when they become frogs, but they are interesting for the kids at the moment.


iDoNotLoveBlue, originally uploaded by bikebreath.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Och Aye Ye Ken The Noo aboot Campbell

Ne Obliviscaris or do not forget
is the Campbell motto. The name is said to derive from two Gaelic words, "cam" meaning twisted and "beul" meaning mouth. Aw ye need te ken here
The soup cans are helpful if you end up in the US and need to spell your name over the phone. "Just like the soup" works a treat.

Wierd Connections

It is amazing, how a simple cyclone can change the price of bananas by about 300 percent. The Commonwealth have elected to not import bananas in order to protect this industry. So much for free trade.

Happy Employees Inc.

If you have ever been in an organisation that uses motivational posters to lift employee morale, you will love this site.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Worm Genocide and Rebirth

I was sure that I was multiple worm killer, but apparently these guys are pretty resilient. When it gets hot, apparently they will eat each other or burrow down deep or lay eggs, which can lie dormant. The worm farm that I was sure was the scene of mass worm genocide is a happy worm home again. Lots of yummy organic matter to devour and make relatives. Onwards. Thanks to Linda at www.squirmy-worms.com

Monday, March 20, 2006

Reading Expert

My son is starting to read and he is on Level 1 at the moment. He told his mum that once you get to level 10 you can stop reading. Oh that life was that easy.

Formula 1 is boring boring boring....

I never cease to amaze at how boring Formula 1 is. I had it on low volume while I worked on my resume this evening. There are way too few accidents and dramas. Just monotonous noise, pollution, and yabbering commentators with not too much to say. Pretty expensive toys for so little benefit to humanity.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Scottish Glory at the Commonwealth Games

For about three hours on Day 1 of the Commonwealth Games, Scotland were top of the the medal table. As always, good things don't last too long. Another short moment of glory for us Haggisbashers.

Brokeback Mountain Glasgow

Friday, March 17, 2006

Star Wars Chronology

Since my children have recently become Star Wars Fanatics, I am endeavouring to be able to answer some of their questions (never having watched any of the episodes). It is rather like the questions from Harry Potter and Maisy. Yes I know, Maisy didn't have too many questions. Now I can sound knowledgable.

Chronology of Episodes

I. The Phantom Menace
II. Attack of the Clones
III. Revenge of the Sith
IV. A New Hope
V. The Empire Strikes Back
VI. Return of the Jedi

Wow! Search Engines by the gazillion (and context)

All you need to know

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Bluebell Wood Scene

This reminds me of the lush woods around my house where I grew up in Scotland.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Buena Vista Social Club

Seeing this picture reminded me of the very bumpy flight from Seoul to Singapore, where I watched the Buena Vista Social Club two and a half times (in between taking care of a one and a bit year old little girl). I was totally taken in by everything about it. When we got back to Singapore, I bought and played many of the CDs that came out of the film. There is something very colorful and bleak about life in Cuba. It reminded me of the working class communities that my Grandparents came from (without the colour and the good weather). Thanks Ry Cooder and Wim Wenders.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Asian Markets

One of the great things about travelling around Asia during my previous life, were the local markets. So much work for the stallholders. This is a very beautiful example. Many were pretty unhygienic. Stick to vegetables and fish (first thing in the morning).

Charlie and Lola

Another in the category of good book and cartoon is Charlie and Lola by Lauren Child. My kids love it. We had three of the books at home from the library at one time. I will not ever NEVER eat a tomato and I Am NOT sleepy and I WILL NOT Go to Bed are two good ones Charlie is seven – he likes rockets, making racing cars and playing football with his friend Marv, who lives downstairs. Lola is four, but very nearly five. She likes pink milk, chimpanzees and her best friend Lotta. She is fascinated by everything and very independent! As they come up against life's daily problems (be it a spider or learning how to share), they use their own method of problem solving: imagination and fantasy. I love the cut out animation.

They are bloody well here!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Old Tom (Morris)

Tom Morris came up when I was searching for images for Old Tom. Funny the connections that can be made. I doubt that I had seen an image of him for 30 years, since I was at High School in St Andrews. He is pretty famous there, having won four of the first eight Open golf tournaments and as a well respected golf club maker. The Tom Morris shop looking over the 18th hole of the Old Course, also named after him, was still there the last time I looked. I think my best memory of that hole was watching Jean Vandevelde, the French Golfer blow his chance to win the open with a comedy of errors, including hitting an advertising board and trying to play a shot out of the Swilcan Burn. I think that he was three or so shots clear and ended up losing in the playoff. Such do or die gallic bravado.


My daughter is the most competitive person I know. It is odd, because I am at the other extreme. She just hates to lose or not to have the last word in a discussion/argument and any means to avoid this are fair game, including: setting the rules, changing the rules, ensuring that nobody else can win, arguing until everyone gives up.... If all else fails, have a tantrum. Other than that, I have no issues with her. La La La La La.....

Old Tom (for kids)

Old Tom is one of those great kids books that translate really well onto television. He is a beat up slightly naughty but endearing cat. His owner, Angela Throgmorton, lovingly puts up with all his eccentricities and foibles. The are a very delightful couple. Our kids like the books just as much as the cartoons.

Wanna Fight?

One of the great things about having a 5 year old is his toys and how he uses them. We have a great collection of Schleich Knights, a castle and some other medieval battle things. When he plays with them, all sorts of other toys such as Hot Wheels, Toy Story plastic soldiers, supermen, Shrek's , Batcopters.... join in.

Saturday, March 11, 2006


I always liked this painting in the National Gallery of Scotland. I think that the bird must be a relative.

Why cows don't make good pets

I find our terrier annoying when he wants to lick to say hello. I think that a pet cow would be worse. Picking up the poo would also be a challenge.