Saturday, March 31, 2007

Free Trade Agreements are Clearly Just That (Free for One Party)

Japan and the Philippines have recently concluded a Free Trade Agreement. In a puzzling move, the Philippine Government gave tariff preferences on Japanese waste materials. Under the JPEPA, waste products such as waste pharmaceuticals, ash and residues from incinerated waste, sewage sludge, clinical waste, and even articles like used surgical gloves can be shipped from Japan at zero tariffs.

Government officials have explained these products are for “recycling.”

Apparently zero tariffs are supposed to encourage importation of products in short supply or not manufactured locally, or if there is little demand. But it seems there is no great need for Japanese waste.

Based upon my own experience, conducting environmental audits in the Philippines, there are very limited facilities for these kinds of wastes and all responsible waste generators are storing and exporting these kinds of wastes. Why the Philippines would be agreeing to import these kinds of wastes unless there were some kinds of hidden agendas is mystifying. There are virually no industrial waste landfills, no industrial waste treatment and almost no solid waste management facilities that would pass any kind of western standard.

According to local critics of the agreement, other questions need to be answered: Can local recycling facilities handle a deluge of waste materials? Are authorities adequately prepared? My judgement is NO and NO. A local expert also warned that other countries could take advantage of the agreement to dump waste on the Philippines via transshipments. Well no shit Sherlock IMHO. This already happens every day and this agreement will only make it worse.

Another expert said that it is questionable that the Philippines is allowing waste products in while getting only a few concessions such as the entry of Filipino nurses and caregivers to Japan.

Japan and the Philippines are complementary economies — the former can supply industrial goods while the latter can readily export farm commodities — but Filipino agricultural products such as mangoes, bananas, pineapples, and tuna have already made headway in Japan, he said. Being perfect FTA partners, the Philippines is supposed to gain from closer trade relations with an affluent trade partner.

Loopholes could also come under the form of non-tariff barriers that Japan may impose. For example, Tokyo has been using sanitary and phytosanitary standards (SPS) to block Philippine products, such as smoked tuna (because of carbon monoxide residue).

Nice arrangement, Japan and their allies get to dump all their toxic waste, the Philippines gets to dump some of their excess labour force (they are Catholics after all) and all food exports are either discounted, banned or controlled.

Nice arrangement. Free Trade. Gotta Love It.

Exclusive! Cash for Peerages Explained

It's actually quite simple really. I'll have a few for me and my mates please. Lord Levy eat your heart out.

Take me back to Kathmandu

Anyone who has lived in Nepal will appreciate this story of the Ant and the Grasshopper (Nepal Style).

I was surprised to see that there are now over 2 million people living in Kathmandu, a city with only one dangerous road out. When I was there in the mid 90s, it was pretty crowded and polluted. Driving around was an exercise in patience and you had to be sure not to hit the cows. Kathmandu was somewhere between the 14th and 20th Century depending upon the neighbourhood and time of day.

Getting things done there was challenging at times. Getting things done quickly was even more difficult. I can remember the convoluted process of getting our car registered. We had to go to three offices with a local fixer and rummage through dusty files, fill in all the forms, provide all back up documentation in triplicate, along with all required fees and bribes and then wait and wait and wait while the negotiations for the fees and bribes were resolved and the documents produced. The Embassy had people who just did this kind of stuff every day to ensure that their employees could function. Very interesting place to spend some time.

Thanks Nepal Sites

Hospital Humour for Kids

Organisations like the Starlight Childrens Foundation and Clown Doctors make a big difference to kids when they are in hospital. Ryan was in the Adelaide Womens and Childrens Hospital for a few days earlier in the year for a knee infection, which was treated succesfully with intravenous antibiotics. He was very unhappy as he was moved to the ward and had asked me many times whether he could go home. In waltzed Captain Starlight and his assistant for an afternoon of fun. He also benefitted from the self contained entertainment centres that are provided by the Starlight Foundation. More videos, cartoons and games than you could play in a lifetime, all loaded up on to one machine. When we left he would have been happy to stay for longer.

Clown Doctors also work in hospitals here in Australia. They are masters of humour and diversionary medicine and are part of the medical team having completed training in both clowning and being part of the medical teams. Tomorrow is Smile Day, which is their major fundraising event.

Laughter really is a great therapy, especially for stressed and unhappy children and their worried parents. Very worthwhile organisations, both of them.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Funny Wee Joke (Naughty word included)

An Octopus walks into a bar and says "I can play ANY musical instrument
you like".

Englishman gives him a guitar which he plays better than Hendrix.

Irishman gives him a piano which he plays better than Elton.

Scotsman throws him a set of bag pipes.
The octopus fumbles about for a couple of minutes
and the Scotsman says "What's wrong - can ye no play it?"

The octopus says "Play it?
- I'm gonna fuck her brains oot once a get her pyjamas off!"

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Slaying the Dragon

Imagine trying to get planning permission for this one. The head is 30 meters tall and the whole dragon is planned to be 21 kilometres long, snaking along mountain ridges. The local environmental bureau in Henan Province are looking into and the whole project may be scrapped.

Haircuts for Charity

Elizabeth raised $600 for Leukemia Research by chopping off her hair. Pretty dramatic difference.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Look at Moui! Shane Warne Hits the Big Time with Second Marriage

Shane ties the virtual knot with sports mad Sharon Strezleki played by Magda Subanski in the next series of Kath and Kim. First, Sharon has to fight off bitter competition.

Plans for a US version of the show are still having teething problems. Bizarre! Why not just show it as it is. It really is very funny and a great insight into Australian culture.

Americans have no problem exporting their shows, good, bad and indifferent. Why not import some quality shows from the countries that they dominate on the commercial networks, Australia being one of the largest overseas markets for American television content.

Are your really sure that you want to be the boss? Are your really really sure?

My boss should probably have read this prior to his promotion. So true. It is a very painful transition for many, including him. He recently made the transition to Regional Manager, after having other, more technical roles. He is the nicest person and highly admired. I really like him, but you couldn't pay me enough to do his job.

I looked at him yesterday as his eyes glazed over with the issues I brought to him for direction and resolution. It makes me very happy with the role I have, along with my part time hours. Not too much responsibility and virtually no responsibility for managing people. I know I would not be good at that and it is good that I don't have to do it. Life is too short.

Sibling Rivalries Enough to Make You Cross Eyed

After years of trying to emulate his sister, the cross eyed master, Ryan has finally hit the big time with this useful skill. Next up, who can whistle loudest and will the wind change. Those little battles that siblings have are very interesting, if a little infuriating.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Biofuels Start Your Engines

With a decision for all US Indy Cars to run their V8 Engines on Ethanol this year, the US Auto Manufacturers are on board for biofuels. Rather than endorsing the option for environmental or sustainability reasons, the main reason is political, driven by a desire to reduce the dependence on overseas oil and the preference by the manufacturers for biofuels over increasingly strict fuel economy standards.

Chief executives from the U.S. automakers Monday urged President George W. Bush to back incentives to bring ethanol and biodiesel to more gasoline station pumps as the companies increased production of so-called flexible-fuel vehicles.

Half the vehicles made by General Motors, Ford Motor and the Chrysler unit of DaimlerChrysler by 2012 could be able to run on biodiesel or E85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, Rick Wagoner of General Motors, Alan Mulally of Ford and Tom LaSorda of Chrysler said in a statement.

This has implications here in Adelaide, where Holden (General Motors) is going to be ramping up exports from the local plant. Specialised modifications to existing technology would have to be incorporated into the models produced here.

We have limited access to biofuels here in Australia and it is mainly minor players who make the blend available at a small discount. Australian biofuel companies have concentrated on expanding in America rather than here in Australia.

Blairs Long Term Solution for Global Warming

Thanks Poldraw

No Cricket Tours to Zimbabwe

The Australian Cricket Team are being encouraged to cancel their tour of Zimbabwe later in the year. This is one area that I actually agree with Captain Howard the Sporty and Alexander the not so Sporty Downer.

This man, Mugabe is a despotic tyrant and nothing should be done to provide endorsement of his regime. If the Catholic Archbishop in Zimbabwe is prepared to face guns to get rid of the tyrant, while the rest of the African leaders bury their heads in the sand, then the least that can be done is to stop sporting endorsements, while people are being beaten and murdered and the countries economy implodes, while he lives the high life in Harare. He certainly makes Ian Smith, the heavily vilified former Prime Minister of Rhodesia look like a Saint.

Northern Ireland moves on.

Growing up in the 60s and 70s and making regular driving trips to Donegal through Northern Ireland from Scotland, I have vivid memories of the troubles on the radio, television and seeing some of the areas featured in the evening news for all the wrong reasons. It was very odd (I really struggled to get the right word here) to see Gerry Adams and the Reverend Ian Paisley sitting together with plans to govern cooperatively.

It just seems very unlikely.

Ian Paisley's voice is for me, the embodiment of the hatred that existed (and probably still does) , despite the public relations love in. I mean they didn't even shake hands. It was just like Arafat and Rabin with Clinton.

Guantanamo Kangaroo Court Day of Shame

The only people happy about the outcome of Adelaide's most famous would be terrorist pleading guilty in Guantanamo will be his mates, behind him (stabbing him in the back) all the way, John (I'm your buddy) Howard, Alexander (the Executioner) Downer and Philip (He's guilty as hell your Honor) Ruddock.

I hope these guys can look themselves in the mirror in the morning as they move into the next phase of the election with one issue defused somewhat. As Hick's dad said, "He just wanted to get out of there". I am sure that Howard and his cronies felt exactly the same way about getting Hicks out of there, but for very different reasons.

Let's hope the abandonment of an Australian Citizen, regardless of what he did, sticks like mud in the run up to the election.

Dads Army Gets New Lease of Life in Australia

Not content with buying unusable overpriced American tanks, subsidising the JSF whiz bang fighter plane, buying submarines that don't submerge.....the list goes on, nutty Australian Grand High Poobah for Warmaking and Pacific neighbour policing and the like, Dr Brendan Nelson has announced a new strategy to boost Australian human war making capabilities. People as old as 56 will be allowed to join up and can hang around until they are 60. A new wheelchair mounted battalion is to be established on the Gold Coast, while the dialysis squadron will be in South Australia.

Young people will have their sense of patriotic duty encouraged in the face of their current tendency to run a mile when given the chance to sign up, given the real potential that troops will end up actually fighting. Entrance requirements are being lowered and peoples characters rather than high school diplomas are going to be an increasing part of the selection process. The potential for conscription is being placed quietly on the table as the current government seeks to have the resources to keep check of Australias unruly neighbours.

These are exactly the same issues that America faces as young people increasingly vote with their feet and seek other options to spend their late teens and early twenties.

International Cricket Council Scores You Tube Own Goal

With a remit to globalise the game, crickets mandarins are spending their energies squishing the limited free publicity they get on You Tube. With less than 75 percent of the potential audience able to access the Cricket World Cup on free to air television and the free coverage available largely dominated by the murder of one the coaches, you would think that this was a low priority for these bozos. With India, the largest commercial market for cricket out of the competition, you would think that a more progressive approach would be sensible. In addition, it doesn't really make sense for tickets for the matches themselves to be priced more than four times the average weekly wage in the host nation. If they want to make it more of a peoples game, they need a less reactive approach.

Man banned from pub... for farting

Can you believe it? This is what happens when they ban smoking in pubs.

A man has been barred for dropping the smelly one while others were drinking.

Your Roving Reporter

Monday, March 26, 2007

Harmony Day

Every year our kids school celebrates Harmony Day, where the kids celebrate the rich cultural diversity in the school community and respect for this. This year Ryan decided he would wear his kilt, so Dad decided to lend moral support. Hoots!

Not Bad for a Has Been

Matthew Hayden blasted a 100 in 66 balls, a World Cup Record. It was made against South Africa, ranked number 1 and not a minnow nation. Not bad for somebody who was considered to be over the hill and unlikely to make it to the World Cup less than six months ago.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Hampden Heaven and IsraeHell

The new Scottish Manager Alex McLeish and the boys squeezed out a last gasp win in Glasgow against Georgia in the Euro 2008 qualifier, and in the process retained the Unofficial Football World Championship, closely modelled on boxing championships. Next up the defence in Italy on Wednesday night. The winner takes the title for a while.

Steve McLaren on the other hand, looks like he is on his last gasp as England Manager after a pathetic scoreless draw in Tel Aviv. The Sun must be baying for blood this morning.

The pictures tell the story. Most Scottish people will take as much pleasure in the English result as the Scottish one as described by the ever so eloquent Flying Rodent.

Glasgow goes for broke to get Commonwealth Games

Scots, known for their economy and looking on in horror at the cost of the Olympics in London are trying a different strategy to get the Commonwealthy Games in Glasgow in 2014.

Personally, I am not sure why anyone would want to do athletic events in Scotland. I can remember watching the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh sometime in the 70s, when it pissed down the whole day. Poor miserable conditions for athletes. That said, we Scots have a cunning plan to win the games and the money it will bring to our dour economy.

Many of the famous events which go to
make up this spectacular event, are to be especially altered for 2014 to boost Glasgow's bid. A copy of these changes has been leaked, and is reproduced


The flame will be ignited by a petrol bomb thrown by a native of
Ferguslie Park, or one of Counciller Terry Kelly's Constituents, in the traditional dress of balaclava and a Burberry shell suit.
The flame will be contained in a large overturned police van situated on the roof of the stadium.

In previous Commonwealth Games, Scotland's competitors have not
been particularly successful. In order to redress the balance, some
of the events have been altered slightly to the advantage of local

Competitors will have to hold a DVD player and microwave oven (one
in each arm) and on the sound of the starting pistol, a police dog
will be released from a cage 10 yards behind the athletes.

As above but with added obstacles (i.e. car bonnets, hedges, garden
fences, Walls etc)

Competitors in this event may choose the type of hammer they wish
to use (claw, sledge etc) the winner will be the one who can cause
the most physical damage within three attempts.

Participants will first find a suitable telephone pole and bring it to the stadium, prior to tossing it.

This event shall be sponsored by Cash Converters who shall also
provide the hardware. The contest itself shall be based outside kebab
shops in Baillieston, Riddrie, Drumchapel, and Easterhouse....the
winner shall be the one who can leave A & E first.

A strong challenge is expected from local men in this event. The
first target will be a moving police van. In the second round,
competitors will aim at a post office clerk, bank teller or
Securicor-style wages delivery man.

The traditional .22 rifle has been replaced in this event by a
choice of either a Browning automatic handgun or Sawn-off 12-bore

Entry to the boxing will be restricted to husband and wife teams,
and will take place on a Friday night. The husband will be given 15
pints of lager while the wife will be told not to make him any tea
when he gets home. The bout will then commence.

Competitors will be asked to break into the Glasgow University bike
shed and takes an expensive mountain bike owned by some mummy's boy
on his first trip away from home. All against the clock.

As above, but the bike will be owned by a visiting member of the
Australian rugby team, who will witness the theft.

Amended to include mugging, breaking and entering, flashing,
joyriding, underage drinking and arson.

All waterways are currently being tested for toxicity levels, once
one is found that can support human life, swimming events will be
organised, please note that the Synchronised Swimming event for this
year will comprise of dropping acid and watching all the funky
ripples on the pool, the specific musical support to this event will
be provided by Belle and Sebastian.

A safe route has yet to be decided. Likely somewhere near Oban.

Unfortunately this will have to be cancelled, as the police cannot
guarantee the safety of anyone walking the streets of Glasgow,
especially anyone that appears to be mincing...

Entertainment will include formation rave dancing by members of the
Govan Health in the Community, anti-drug campaigners, synchronised
rock throwing, and music by the Dennistoun community choir. The flame
will be extinguished by police riot water cannon following inevitable
pitch invasion by confused old firm fans.

The stadium itself will then be boarded up before the local
athletes break into it and remove all the copper piping and the
central heating boiler.

These are just the initial contingency plans, but it sure beats spending 15 billion pounds to fix up some neighbourhoods in East London.

The selection committee has already been threatened with severe bodily injury and tempted with the promise ipods full of Andy Stewart to make this an event not to be missed.

The killer strategy is that the management committee has been advised by Global Warming experts that Glasgow can expect mediterranean climate conditions by the time the games commence.

So why would you hold them anywhere else?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Scotland Crumble (and Bumble) on the Big Stage

The Scottish Cricket team followed the well worn path of numerous Scottish Football Teams in the World Cup in the West Indies. Having performed well in the lead up to the tournament, Scotland performed reasonably against Australia and South Africa, respectively two and one in the world rankings and then capitulated to the Dutch, ranked about sixteenth and who had been more comprehensively smashed by both of of these teams. We Scots are used to this. It is part of our National Psyche.

Obviously we have to stick to curling (and drinking). We would at least have a shot at those.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Authoritarian Dictator to get Honorary Doctor of Laws

Lee Kwan Yew, the authoritarian dictator who runs Singapore is to be given an Honorary Doctor of Laws by the Australian National University. No big announcement from the University, just a private announcement and a defacto stealth endorsement of Lee's use of the law to stifle debate, jail and bankrupt opposition politicians and general run an all around authoritarian regime.

Looks like grubby commercialism by the University to encourage more Singaporeans to come and spend their hard earned money at ANU. No Honorary Doctorates for jumped up Authoriarian Dictators please ANU. Where is the justice in this?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Aussie Car Industry in Turmoil

Peter Martin summarises Australian car industries issues. It doesn't look too good. The Australian public are not buying what is being offered. The industry is being propped up by huge government direct and indirect subsidies.

Here in Adelaide, Holden (General Motors) just laid off 600 people after closing a whole shift a couple of years ago. Mitsubishi is only open because of political pressure and has an embarrassingly low output. Some of the people who work for me were there yesterday doing some work. All the storage parking lots, which used to be chock a block are now empty and models are being made to order. Many of the parts suppliers are being taken to the cleaners by overseas competitors.

The part of the article that surprised me was how many cars are bought for fleet use. Over 80 percent are sold to car hire companies, large companies and the government. Parking in some of the garages in Adelaide, there are levels and levels of state fleet cars, waiting to be used. The only company that has a large proportion of showroom sales is Toyota, which sells cars people want to buy.

The Australian car industry is obsessed with large cars. Hardly any four cylinder cars are sold. This obsession may well contribute to the demise.

Then there is the madness of fringe benefits tax, where people are encouraged to rack up the miles to get their tax down. Now there is an eco unfriendly piece of public policy that should be shot at dawn.

Australians are very happy to purchase imported cars, especially fuel efficient ones. There are not too many Australian cars that meet that criteria.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Scotland to Raise Bar on Mathematics Testing




1. Shuggie has bought half a kilo of cocaine to sell. He wants to make 300% on the deal and still pay Mad Malky his 10% protection money. How much must he charge for a gram?

2. Wee Davie reckons he'll get £42.50 extra Marriage Allowance a week if he ties the knot with Fat Alice. Even if he steals the ring, the wedding will cost him £587. And he'll have to start buying two fish suppers at £3.95 each every night instead of one. How long will it be before Davie wishes he'd stayed single?

3. When Rangers play Celtic, their fans sing The Sash every 10minutes when they're winning and every 15 minutes when they're losing.How many times did they sing it at last season's Cup Final?

4. Joey and Davie stole a 1999 green Toyota 1600GL with 35,000on the clock - and got a grand for it. How much more would they have got if it had been metallic silver, done 29,000 miles and had low profile tyres?

5. Jake the Flake and Fingers got grassed up for dealing speed.The Flake got 18 months but Fingers got 3 years. How many more previous convictions did Fingers have?

EXTRA CREDIT: Who was Fingers' Brief?


Name...................Rugby Club.........................Daddy's Company.........................

1. Gavin has a spare ticket for Julian Clary at The Festival Fringe. But Benji and Adrian BOTH want to go with him. How long does he cry before giving them the tickets?

2. Half of Peter's friends say that they went to school with Ewan McGregor. Another third say they were Gordon Brown's flat mate at University. A sixth say that their dad played rugby with Tony Blair's dad and the rest say Sean Connery was their milkman. Only one is telling the truth, so how many friends does Peter have?

3. Todd wants to be a lawyer, but is as thick as EdinburghCastle. His daddy is a Freemason and a QC. How long before Todd becomes the Lord Advocate?

4. Tamsin's Personal Trainer charges £250 a week, but has sexwith her whenever she wants it. Jasmin's Life Coach charges £50 a weekbut has refused all sexual advances. Which one of the women weighs 19 stone?

5. Princes Street is 2467 yards long. On average, there issomeone begging for money every 195 yards. You walk at 3.1 miles an hour. How long will it take if you tell them all to sod off and work for a living?


Name................Glen.......................Clan .......................

1. After Hector's death, Archie has to pay Death Duty on Glenbogle. With 25,000 acres, Archie must pay £1.76 for the first 15,000acres and 90p per acre for the remainder, including VAT. How How many people actually give a toss?

2. An Afro-American called Zachary Obisanjo Kokobobo asks aTartan Shop in Inverness if he has any Scottish Geneaology. How long does it take to flog him full Highland dress and matching kilts for his wife and 10 kids?

3. If an Aberdeen supporter laid every sheep in Grampian Region end to end, how many people would be surprised?

4. If you caught a Loch Ness Monster 115 feet long and each foot weighed 27lbs, how much money would you make by selling your exclusive story and pictures?

Sorry, question 5 has been delayed by heavy snowfall and will be here as soon as the Cockbridge - Tomintoul road re-opens in the spring!

The Dangers of Juice

As juice addicts, our kids are currently bucking the trend. One lump or six?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Household Water Savings - Drop in the Bucket

Apparently the small domestic water savings that we are all making are truly insignificant in the big picture. Very disappointing, but I am going to continue to do it anyway.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Clean Coal Window Dressing

The latest we are green strategy from the Howard Government in the run up to the election is a $100 million dollar investment in clean coal technology project in Victoria. I can never get my mind around clean coal. Based upon my experience in waste management, I have to assume that this will generate a very concentrated waste stream. Not sure what you do with it, but it is just transferring the waste from the air into another waste stream.

This is very problematic, according to one of the Board Members of BHP Billiton, one of the big players in the coal industry. He believes that storing the waste streams related to clean coal will be just as problematic as managing nuclear waste.

It is a clever marketing ploy. Australia is the largest coal exporter in the world and there are plenty of markets.

Conlon wants to have Cake and eat it

Pat "Fat Conductor" Conlon, one of the troika that run South Australia wants to sell uranium to the Chinese as a means to combat global warming, through reducing the Chinese dependence on coal powered plants and increasing their dependence on nuclear power (powered by Aussie uranium). South Australia has no coal and China only imports a little coal, but it does have uranium.

More likely it is a means to underpin the South Australian tax base, through securing markets for the major mining developments in the north of the state, which have an element of uranium in the make up of the material to be excavated. He is at odds with most of his left faction buddies, who are a bit suspicious and doubtful of the value of a nuclear strategy either for internal use or for export. This is an important issue in the run up to the Labor Party conference coming up soon, because the Labor Party policy is for no new uranium mines and presumably no export of uranium. Many others across the political spectrum are not so gung ho on this strategy, while others are holding their cards close to their chest. The Premier has drawn a line in the sand on nuclear power in South Australia. He will be long gone before a decision is made to build one.

One of the favoured sites for the development of a nuclear power station is reportedly Port Augusta, just up the road, with access to water, the electric grid, road and rail networks and near the new mining developments (and very far away from large centres of population). Wouldn't want one of those guys nearby. When I was in Port Augusta last week I asked people about it and they were pretty relaxed. They have a very visible power station there and people felt that it would bring many economic benefits to the area. All this is down the road, but some of Australias richest men have set up a nuclear power company to evaluate options, no doubt with the tacit backing of the government, who have just completed a study which concluded that nuclear power was a viable option for Australia.

Me, I don't really understand it all and am very unsure about what the right way forward is.

Parliamentary Clean Up

After Santo the obsessive stock punter admitted to his addiction and resign, has gone to a 12 Step Stock Junkies Programme, Janet Albrechtson would like a clean up of the gene pool of the Australian Parliament. I would prefer to blow it up. Having politicians increasingly pontificating and regulating the way we live, while they live on a different planet when it comes to their own values and behaviours is sickening and smacks of supreme arrogance. The culture of lying to our faces is despicable.

Irelands Eyes are Smiling

I was in the office this Sunday morning at 7am, St Patricks Day (in most of the world) and the Genie came out of the Lamp. After cruelly being denied the Six Nations Championship, by some lame Ecossais defending, it was just desserts. I watched some of the tortuous late overs on the internet and hoped for the upset.

The Captain scoring a six to win the game was fantastic.

This is a Pakistani reaction and here is an Irish one. Somewhat different, but interesting.

Got to love the underdog. So much for all those snooty pants who did not like the inclusion of the minnows. As a minnow follower I say Go Minnows!

Sports Stars are all the same.

Hello Freddy! You haven't won the Ashes back yet.

Happy Birthday Sydney Harbour Bridge

Today the Sydney Harbour Bridge is 75 years old. The bridge is closed so that over 200,000 Australians can walk across it. A much better reason to close it than when Cheney came last month and needed to go to lunch with the PM and later when he went for a cruise.

Very Surprising, Not!

Another in the long list of not very surprising things about Iraq.

I am very sure, that I would do this myself.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Herschelle Gibbs Smashes the Dutch

Herschelle Gibbs smashed six sixes in one over in yesterdays carnage against the Dutch, the first time in a one day game. South Africa scored 353 off 40 overs and the three of the first four batsmen made tons (the other a duck- bummer). Ugly (if you are Dutch and care about cricket).

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Joy of Flying

Coming back from Port Augusta this evening reminded me of the joy of flying in small planes. We had a Jetstream 32, flown by a young lady, a somewhat rare occurence. When you take off, you really feel like you are flying. An added touch was the second officer doling out the refreshments.

Australian Election Season Well Under Way

First you develop a clever plan.

Then you implement it.

Then you reap the rewards.

Just deserts I say. Australians are really turned off by the current mudslinging in the run up to the election later in the year. The more the government have tried to go negative, the worse the polls. On current polls, Labor will win election easily.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Adelaide Cup Holiday Weekend

Today is a quiet relaxing day, a public holiday for the Adelaide Cup, which although it has been downgraded and almost no one goes, is still a public holiday in South Australia.

I took the kids to the Animal Expo, where they got to meet Dr Harry, Australian TV Vet Extraordinaire, who lead an interesting session for kids on how not to be bitten by dogs. Then on to the many stands with different animals. We learned how to train rabbits, the challenges of looking after sick or abandoned joeys in your home and new developments in poultry
husbandry. Then on to the rides and the portable climbing wall. Both the kids got to the top. I was very impressed. Then on to the pony rides and home.

Yesterday we had a day at WOMAD, which stands for the World of Music, Arts & Dance. Over three days, WOMADelaide, held in Botanic Park in Adelaide every year, runs six outdoor stages featuring performances and intimate workshops by around 35 groups from over 20 countries. There is a great mixture of the well known and the not so well known. It also presents a KidZone, visual arts and street theatre programs, and an amazing Global Village of 100 arts, crafts, international cuisine and educational display stalls and three bars.

Yesterdays highlights were The Waifs, with Paul Kelly, who sang an adaptation of Little Things, Salif Keita and the Kronos Quartet, who were great other than choosing to start their routine with a very odd rendition of the Yanqui National Anthem. I have seen the Kronos Quartet a couple of times before at the Singapore Festival. They really have a fantastically resonant and interesting sound, constantly evolving reflecting many different musical influences. What I like is just hanging out and listening to the music and looking at the people.

These kinds of events bring out all the hippies and out there people, along with everyone else from zero to eighty. The kids area had lots of creative events, including the dinosaur petting zoo, which got out of hand, with fantastic large scale dinosaur puppets ala Walking with Dinosaurs. The only stressful moment was when Ryan ran ahead and disappeared into a sea of people for this event. I looked around and around and it was only when I thought about it that I found him, the highest kid in the tree overlooking the stage. Fantastic fun event.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Hope for Succesful Careers for Parents

A new study has determined that having children doesn't have to be career poison. The article published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that parents are happier and more productive workers.

According to the author "this is the first study that showed being a parent improves not just personal well being but work performance as well." (my emphasis)

"Being able to manage demands of children and running a household helps to manage stress at work rather than adding to it. Family experiences...help managers develop the ability to see others views."

In more technical terms, here is the abstract. It is good to know that only specialists in this field can interpret what appears to me to be patently not the case, based upon a study.
The authors tested the premise that family role commitment (i.e., marital role commitment, parental role commitment) has simultaneous negative and positive effects on managers' (N = 346) life satisfaction, career satisfaction, and performance through family-to-work interference and enhancement. The authors also explored whether psychological strain mediates the effects of interference and enhancement on outcomes. The authors expected family role commitment to reduce the favorability of outcomes by increasing interference. To the contrary, they found that neither marital nor parental role commitment was associated with increased interference. The authors expected family role commitment to improve outcomes by increasing enhancement. As expected, marital role commitment was associated with increased enhancement, which, in turn, seemed to reduce strain and strengthen outcomes. Parental role commitment was also associated with increased enhancement. However, parental role commitment had direct positive effects on outcomes that were more substantial than its indirect effects through enhancement. Overall, marital and parental role commitment had more benefits than costs. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved)

I haven't read articles like this since my days studying Pyschology at the University of Stirling in the 1980s. Based upon my own experience, work is a healthy respite from being around the children and I think that my experience of working part time, so that I can do some parenting keeps me focussed at work since it is easier to do it there rather than trying to intervene in arguments and burn toast while trying to discuss projects with clients over the phone or writing emails while the kids are running around.

Solar Panels for Everyone

Australia with some of the highest potential for solar power has a research breakthrough, which is being commercialised immediately, with the development of significantly cheaper solar panels. Rather than waiting for up to twenty years to pay off, the new panels may pay off in less than five years. The key is to reduce the amount of silicon by 90 percent using clever tricks. The new panels can be shaped more creatively and can even be placed in windows.

I think some of these in every back yard would be better than a nuclear plant in our back yard.

Lake Eyre has a drink.

Lake Eyre a huge salt pan draining about a sixth of Australia, along the northern border of South Australia, started to fill up this week after 5 years of drought. Floods in Queensland last month finally made their way into the Lake, the largest lake in Australia when it is full and the lowest point, 15 metres below sea level.

Since it was discovered in 1839 it has only filled up six times. Highly saline, it attracts a wide variety of wildlife each time the water turns up.

Friday, March 09, 2007

I'm a C List Blogebrity

C-List Blogger

Deskdisorganisation Clean Up and Repeat

I laughed when I saw this. It looks way too organised for my desk, although I am going through a clean up this week. My desk generally looks good for about three days after that.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

B Teams take the field

Crickets second stringers get their day in the sun. This guy, Duane Leverock, a 21 stone spin bowler for Bermuda, who is a policeman in his real life and who makes Shane Warne look thin, got Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood out in the recent warm up game. Too bad the batsmen could only amass 45 runs. In other warm up games, Ireland gave South Africa a scare and Bangladesh beat New Zealand.

Some of the top current and former players don't like it and there are plenty of opportunities for wipe outs, but I think that it is good for cricket. The ICC wants cricket to be global and this is a good way of moving that along. Standards have to improve with the Associate Countries and there is nothing like money to help that process. I don't think that being thrashed by the big boys will diminish the enthusiasm of the smaller countries and there is always the chance of an upset.

Here is a nice history of the World Cup from The Age.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Supersize Me Redux

A Swedish Professor has tried to replicate aspects of the Morgan Spurlock Diet Study for the Golden Arches and made into the movie Supersize Me. Yes you gain weight, but apparently it is not all bad.

Our kids love to watch that movie and are starting to memorise parts of it. They are also fascinated by the television show, The Biggest Loser. They see all the bad stuff, but they still want to eat fast food whenever possible. They would be very sad if McDonalds was banned as our Royal Friend would like.

Thanks Beau Bo D'Or

Scottish plants and animals to get leg up against global warming

Scotlands plants and animals are to get a helping hand in adjusting to the ravages of global warming

"Just like the Chinese Red Army, who, under the leadership of Chairman Mao, travelled about 8,000 miles across some of the most inhospitable parts of China, with thousands dying along the way, Scotland's wildlife face a similarly tough journey" explained the well meaning spokesman for the Great Escape.

"Climate change is going to push a whole range of our species north, and it won't be an easy journey. There are lots of barriers. Mao's communists had to climb mountains, cross rivers - all sorts of things. The challenges facing our butterflies, plants and small animals are similar, although the barriers may be railway lines, motorways and housing estates."

"There will be casualties on the way. We are going to see some species snuffed out."

Good to know that important issues are being addressed with passion. Sounds like something out of an animated cartoon. You can just imagine the day your garden plants pick up and walk, when it gets too hot. Were oota here. Next seen in a suburban garden in Inverness.

A similar scheme has been established, in Australia, allowing plants and animals to migrate south. As humans head to the Gold Coast, for warmer weather, animals head out to cooler climes.

It's a goodbye fae him and him and him and her

Scots are more than twice as likely to commit suicide than our neighbours to the south. Scottish men are three times more likely than Scottish women to top themselves. The reasons according to the study are not clear.

This is on top of the slow suicide, which is the Scottish diet, the violent drinking culture and generally sedentary way of life, the weather and crap sports teams. It is amazing that some Scots stay alive long enough to commit suicide.

I can remember sitting next a guy called William Harding in a third year English class. He was prone to outrageous behaviour and proudly announced that he was going to kill himself that morning. Every two minutes he took an asprin and carried on working. Nobody else knew this was going on and the teacher was very intimidating, so I had no idea how to deal with it. I had to wait until the end of the class and dob him in to the Headmaster. He wasn't very happy to be rushed off to the hospital in Dundee to have his stomach pumped.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

We're going to huff and puff and blow your house down.

The chief Kevvie attack dogs were in fine form yesterday trying to make apparent sleaze stick (and largely failing). Just when they thought they had something on Mr Rudd, the polls show Labor further ahead. Costello looked like a pompous clown on Lateline. Tony Jones did a great job of keeping him honest. Run Kevvie run.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Scottish Political Meltdown

As the SNP takes a strong position in the polls in Scotland and the two other members of the Scottish Troika running things in the UK look increasingly glum, this made me laugh. I went to University with Jack McConnell at Stirling University, where he was a major political hack and President of the Students Association. A dodgy politician even in his early days.

Thanks to World of Jack

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Corporate Hospitality Gotta love the smell of burning rubber in the morning

Our company does two major corporate hospitality events in Adelaide. This weekend it is the Clipsal 500, a huge motorsport festival, the other is the cricket test match. Yesterday, a work day, 66,000 people, including me, turned up for practice and some of the other classes of racing. The racing itself takes place over a street circuit through some of the Adelaide Parklands and streets, where the Formula 1 Grand Prix used to be run. The area is transformed within a month from scenic parklands to a mecca for petrol heads. The pit area itself is the largest demountable building in the world. My daughters friends' dad spends about a month before the event putting up stands and stages. I would never pay to go to an event like that, but I marvel at the logistics of putting on the event. Apparently it costs around $20 million to stage and has become so big that the State Government has approved a renovation of Victoria Park, including a new section just for this event and a dual use pit and viewing area. I was very suspicious about this plan, but the schematics made it look very attractive. I think that the event is so big and important for South Australia that it may be here for ever.

That said, trying to talk to clients with V8 cars careering past (those guys are faster and noisier than on television) is a bit challenging and I have to question whether our company, working in the environment field should be supporting a huge carbon dioxide emitting and polluting event like this. That said, the petrol suppliers and car manufacturers and some of the major sponsors are our clients. Perhaps I should just enjoy it until the hangover kicks in the following morning.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Beware of Canny Scots

Australian Cricket Captain, Rickie Ponting , warned the opposition that Australia were the team to beat at the Cricket World Cup, despite their recent poor run of form. When reminded that their first match was against those Canny Scots, famous giant killers and usually major underachievers, he said he wasn't much worried, because they Canny Bat, Canny Field, Canny Bowl. You wait Ricky.

Prehistoric Web Rampaging Awaits

Express your thoughts about a Web Page with Net Disaster. Don't like it, destroy it with . Dinosaurs, Martians, acid attacks. For the more peace loving there are worm and flower attacks. Silly but fun.

Self Fulfilling Prophecies

From Radwaste

Weather Cycle

It was April and the Aboriginals in a remote part of Northern Australia asked their new elder if the coming winter was going to be cold or mild. Since he was an elder in a modern community he had never been taught the old secrets.

When he looked at the sky he couldn't tell what the winter was going to be like. Nevertheless, to be on the safe side, he told his tribe that the winter was indeed going to be cold and that the members of the tribe should collect firewood to be prepared.

But being a practical leader, after several days he had an idea. He walked out to the telephone booth on the highway, called the Bureau of Meteorology and asked, "Is the coming winter in this area going to be cold?"

The meteorologist responded, "It looks like this winter is going to be quite cold." So the elder went back to his people and told them to collect even more wood in order to be prepared.

A week later he called the Bureau of Meteorology again. "Does it still look like it is going to be a very cold winter?" The meteorologist again replied, "Yes, it's going to be a very cold winter." The elder again went back to his community and ordered them to collect every scrap of firewood they could find.

Two weeks later the elder called the Bureau again. "Are you absolutely sure that the winter is going to be very cold?" he asked. "Absolutely," the man replied. "It's looking more and more like it is going to be one of the coldest winters ever."
"How can you be so sure?" the elder asked.
The weatherman replied, "Our satellites images have shown that the Aboriginals in the north are collecting firewood like crazy, and that's always a sure sign."

I couldn't work out how to link to this story, so I just copied it. I really liked it. I think that there are probably many versions of this story, but it is topical, given that we are now heading towards cooler weather here in the Southern Hemisphere. Last month was the warmest February in 100 years, with an average of 33 degrees for the month, up an average of four degrees.

Meanwhile in the Australian Capital, Canberra, my companies office was closed yesterday, the last day of summer after a huge ice storm with hail stones hit town, inflicting damage on the centre of town. Yes, that is ice in the photograph.