Thursday, May 31, 2007

Don't Smoke and Drive

South Australia banned smoking in cars with kids under 16, today, World Anti Tobacco Day. Next up, plans to ban smoking in houses with kids. Imagine the potential for being dobbed in.

While I am a virulent anti smoker, I find some of this stuff a bit Big Brotherish. The fines for smoking in the car with kids are about in line with those for talking on your mobile phone without a hands free arrangement.

I really think our friends in blue have better things to do.

He's a Dog Eater (and prize wanker!)


Hetrosexual Males, the best Map Readers?

According to an article in the Age, boys do it better than girls.

It's long been a tedious joke that women are crap at reading maps. But could there be some truth in it?

A new study into the mental skills required to read a map has handed blokes new ammunition and dealt heterosexual women a final indignity.

The research, from the University of Warwick in the UK, suggests that not only are straight women worse at map reading than straight males, they are also outperformed by bisexual men, gay men, gay women and bisexual women - in that order.

The study looked at what's called mental rotation. This is our ability to mentally visualise an object from different perspectives.

Applied to real life, the most practical example of mental rotation is map reading, says Dr Michael Tlauka, an expert in gender differences and spatial ability from Flinders University.

This is one mental task where studies have shown that men consistently outperform women, Tlauka says.

"It is absolutely true that mental rotation is the task of all spatial tasks where you get the biggest sex difference," he says.

"Men tend to be much better at mental rotation than women."

He says the old chestnut about men being better map readers than women is actually rooted in fact.

"It's not a myth at all - map reading and spatial skills in general, you'll find that men outperform women."

So we do mental rotation better than the girls Nah! Nah! Nah!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Small Town America Parades

This is what I remember about small town America parades. Fantastic community events.

Thanks Theo and Maggies Farm

Goodbye Wish List

Flute has done a fun list of Coalition MPs who will lose their seats if there is a consistent swing in accordance with the latest polls. Fun Stuff!. Expect many baby photographs and politicians in your neighbourhoods.

Dino The Creationists Best Friend

According to the television news tonight, Creationists are creating Theme Parks in America to push their wacky views. As you can imagine, there are some strong polarised opinions. I just laugh, but what is an atheist cynic to do with such preposterous material. I was most amazed at the amount of money being poured into these projects. Don't they have better things to do with their money?

As far as I can tell the only other place where humans and dinosaurs coexisted was in The Flintstones.

That said as a gesture to balanced coverage, I did a little research and found this old article from the Los Angeles Times, which is a good summary.

A 45-foot-high concrete Apatosaurus has towered over Interstate 10 near Palm Springs for nearly three decades as a kitschy prehistoric pit stop for tourists. Now he is the star of a renovated attraction that disputes the fact that dinosaurs died off millions of years before humans first walked the planet.

Dinny's new owners, pointing to the Book of Genesis, contend that most dinosaurs arrived on Earth the same day as Adam and Eve, some 6,000 years ago, and later marched two by two onto Noah's Ark. The gift shop at the attraction, called the Cabazon Dinosaurs, sells toy dinosaurs whose labels warn, "Don't swallow it! The fossil record does not support evolution."

The Cabazon Dinosaurs join at least half a dozen other roadside attractions nationwide that use the giant reptiles' popularity in seeking to win converts to creationism. And more are on the way.

"We're putting evolutionists on notice: We're taking the dinosaurs back," said Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, a Christian group building a $25-million creationist museum in Petersburg, Ky., that's already overrun with model sauropods and velociraptors.

"They're used to teach people that there's no God, and they're used to brainwash people," he said. "Evolutionists get very upset when we use dinosaurs. That's their star."

The nation's top paleontologists find the creation theory preposterous and say children are being misled by dinosaur exhibits that take the Jurassic out of "Jurassic Park."

"Dinosaurs lived in the Garden of Eden, and Noah's Ark? Give me a break," said Kevin Padian, curator at the University of California Museum of Paleontology in Berkeley and president of National Center for Science Education, an Oakland group that supports teaching evolution. "For them, 'The Flintstones' is a documentary."

Tyrannosaurus rex and his gigantic brethren find themselves on both sides of the nation's renewed debate over the Earth's origins and the continuing fight over whether Charles Darwin's "The Origin of Species" or Genesis best explains the development of life.

Science holds that dinosaurs were the Earth's royalty for about 160 million years. Their reign ended abruptly, possibly after a meteorite smacked into the planet, but they're considered the forebears of birds.

It makes these guys seem pretty run of the mill.
Editors Note: I have made my mind up about this one.

Technology Language Evolution

Meg from Dipping into the Blogpond has done a nice summary of the evolution of technology related words that we use every day.

Straight Jacketed in Melbourne

A Melbourne Publican has won the right to limit access to hetrosexuals, who he claims disrupt the ambience of his gay bar.

Pub owner-manager Tom McFeely said the move was necessary to provide gay men a non-threatening atmosphere to freely express their sexuality.

"If I can limit the number of heterosexuals entering the Peel, then that helps me keep the safe balance effectively," Mr McFeely told Southern Cross Broadcasting.

Mr McFeely said that while the pub welcomed everyone, its gay clientele had expressed discomfort over the number of heterosexuals and lesbians coming to the venue over the past year.

"We've had instances in the past where, for example, a buck's night has come up to the Peel or a hen's night - our whole atmosphere changes immensely," he said.

Mr McFeely said that prior to the ruling it was illegal to refuse entry to a large group of people based on sexuality, making gay male clients uncomfortable and unable to freely express their sexuality.

He said there were more than 2,000 venues in Melbourne that catered to heterosexuals, but his pub was the only one marketing itself predominantly to gay men.

Scottish Luck in Indianapolis 500

With the help of the weather and being the last man crawling around the track in a downpour, Scot, Dario Franchitti won a rain shortened Indianapolis 500 yesterday.

Now that is memorably Scottish way to win. Now give me a kiss Ashley.

It reminds me of the Australian speed skater who won a Gold Medal when he was the only skater left standing after a big crash in the final. It still stands as a gold medal.

Monday, May 28, 2007

1967 Referendum. What did it Achieve?

Forty years after the 1967 Referendum, including native Australians in the Census and providing them with greater resources, there is still a huge economic, political and cultural divide between them and more mainstream communities. Aboriginals have a life expectancy of 17 years less than other Australians, there are endemic health and social problems such as alcohoholism, violence and poverty. Many aboriginal communities are isolated and do not have access to basic services. All the hallmarks of a benign apartheid. The current focus of the government is integration, with moves to encourage learning English, skills, health, education, job skills. A huge task.

Paul Kelly in the Australian looks at the legacy of the landmark referendum.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Attack Ads bite Hard. If in doubt, Bite Back

Stephen Loosley in the Australian runs through the history of Attack Ads. Yes I know everyone hates them, but they are very effective.

The first was in the early 1960s, when President Johnson, successfully branded Barry Goldwater as a maniac, ready to nuke the world. My grandmother was convinced Reagan planned to do this when he was elected and she hadn't seen any Attack Ads to come to this opinion. Clearly the central message of the ad must resonate with the viewer, niggling away at a fear or doubt.

Nowadays, most of the themes are more subtle and more sophisticated and researched, but it is clear that it is essential to respond strongly to an effective Attack Ad or you will be finished.

The Australian Election is still in an early phase, but the unions campaign against the Governments Industrial Relations changes have been very effective. We can expect much more as we get into the slogging stage of the campaign. Good for the bottom line of commercial media.

This is the original advert that consigned Goldwater to a political grave.

And this is a not too subtle lame attempt in the current US campaign to turn it around. Democrats are too weak at the knee to blow anybody up, seems to be the message. Personally, I think that it is a good thing.

Elect, our guy! He will make sure all those Anti 'Mericans, such as Communists, Atheists, Muslims, Al Quada Sympathisers, Iranians, Talibans and other deviant sorts...... are nuked back to the Stone Age if they get out of line. That is exactly the sort of stuff that makes many people outside of America worry.

Dudes, The Cold War is Over.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Power of the Universe

Slithershanks in The Age has determined a semi serious list of the ten most powerful things in the known and unknown Universe. Top billing goes to the US Dollar.

What do you think are the most powerful things in the Universe, known and unknown?

Another Optimistic Scottish Commentary

Google Translation

Using the very nice Google Translation Widget on the Sidebar, I learned that my name in Japanese is

* Colinキャンベル

And this is how the Jaberwocky by Lewis Carrol looks.


「Twasのbrilligおよびslithy tovesはgyreをおよびwabeでgimbleした: 完全にmimsy borogovesおよびmomeのrathsのoutgrabeはだった。

「Jabberwockの私の息子を用心しなさい! かむ顎、つかまえる爪! Jubjubの鳥を用心し、避けなさいfrumious Bandersnatchを!」

彼は手元の彼のvorpal剣を取った: 長い時間彼が彼を追求したり従ってTumtumの木によって休ませたmanxomeの敵は思考に、およびしばらく立った。


1つ、2! 1つ、2! そして完全にvorpal刃は忍び笑い軽食行った! 彼はそれを死んだ残し、頭部によって音をたてて歩くことを行った。

「およびJaberwock殺害されるhastのthouか。 、beamish男の子によって私の腕に来られる! oのfrabjous日! Callooh! Callay!」 彼は彼の喜びで声高に笑った。

「Twasのbrilligおよびslithy tovesはgryeをおよびwabeでgimbleした: 完全にmimsy borogovesおよびmomeのrathsのoutgrabeはだった。

Lewis Carroll

I just knew, you needed to know.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Three Scots football fans

Three Scots were spending a quiet Friday in Saudi Arabia watching football on TV, and sharing a smuggled case of booze. All of a sudden Saudi police rushed in, arrested them, and they were sentenced to death!

However, with the help of very good lawyers, they were able to successfully appeal their sentence down to life imprisonment.

By a stroke of luck, it was a Saudi National Holiday the day the trial finished, and an extremely benevolent Sheik decided they could be released after receiving just 20 lashes each of the whip.

As they were preparing for their punishment, the Sheik suddenly said, "It's my wife's birthday today, and she asked me to allow each of you one wish before your whipping.

The Rangers fan was first in line (he had drank the least), so he thought for a while and then said, "Please tie a pillow to my back."

This was done, but the pillow only lasted 10 lashes before the whip went through. The Rangers fan had to be carried away bleeding and crying with pain when the punishment was done.

The Celtic fan was next (he finished an entire fifth by himself) and after watching the scene, said "All right! Please fix two pillows on my back." But even two pillows could only take 15 lashes before the whip went through again, sending the Celtic fan out crying like a little girl.

The Dunfermline fan was last (he had finished off the crate) but before he could say anything, the Sheik turned to him and said, "You support the greatest team in the world, your team has the best and most loyal football fans in the world. For this you may have two wishes."

"Thanks your Royal Highness," The Pars fan responded. "In recognition of your kindness, my first wish is that you give me not 20, but 100 lashes."

"Not only are you an honorable, handsome and powerful man, you are also very brave," the Sheik says with an admiring look on his face.

"If 100 lashes is what you desire, then so be it. And your second wish? What is it to be?" the Sheik asks.

"Tie the Rangers fan to my back...

Virtual Terrorists Bomb ABC Island

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation Sponsored Island on Second Life has been hit by a terrorist attack. The island, promoting the laid back Aussie way of life and all the good things that an Australian public broadcaster can do for you and the third most visited island on Second Life was obliterated by some mean spirited hackers. Virtual repairs are underway. It is not known whether any virtual lives were lost.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

From Little Things Big Things Grow

Welcome to the Third Carnival of Australia.

Thanks to Megan for getting this whole thing going. Hopefully this Third Carnival will increase the visibility of the Carnival of Australia and this Carnival can flourish going forward. Enjoy!

This weekend, is the 40th Anniversary of the referendum that allowed native Australians to vote, although Pommygranate has corrected me on this. Apparently that is an urban myth. Paul Kelly and Friends have a great song to celebrate. Our kids did a play centred around this song with music and dance for Assembly last year.

At the same time, would you pass the Australian Citizenship Test? These are some sample questions from the Newspaper last weekend. In reality, they are multiple choice. I managed to scrape 19 out of 20. Do you know who the first Aussie Prime Minister was?

1. Which colours are represented on the Australian flag? (Hint provided)

2. Indigenous people have lived in Australia for how many years?
3. What is Australia's national flower
4. Australia's political system is called a...
5. What is the capital of Australia
6. Which animals are on the Australian Coat of Arms?
7. Where did the first European settlers to Australia come from?
8. Who is Australia's head of state?
9. Who was the first Prime Minister of Australia?
10. What song is Australia's national anthem?
11. What do you call the elected head of a state government?
12. Which federal political party or parties are in power?
13. What does Anzac Day commemorate?
14. In what year did the first European settlers arrive?
15. How many states are there in Australia?
16. What is Australia's biggest river system?

Thanks to fellow Pommigrant, Pommygranate for the nice kwiz precis and useful information for the second part of the citizenship puzzle, to understand the essence of Strine Culcha. Getting to understand or just memorising the following words and phrases would be helpful for the interview. This may be in my future, so I am grateful.

Many Aussies are not too impressed with the proposed quiz, worried that they will lose their citizenship. You can read more and even take the quiz, here.

Another encouraging sign for me in my quest to be accepted here in Australia are my skills in Footy Tipping. Last weekend I got 8, much to the chagrin of my colleagues. What is a Scotsman doing leading the Footy Tipping? Those Australians, they are nothing if not competitive.

Another Australian Cultural Ceremony that is taking place at the moment is Australias Biggest Morning Tea, a series of social gatherings across Australia to raise money for Cancer Research. Our office is doing one on Thursday and are still getting over being turned down by Krispy Kreme Donuts, who have maxed out their production capacity for the week. We we still do something to celebrate. Michelle Sweeney provides the background and how you can participate. Posted at Tonic Gifts.

Talking of food, Gillian Polack presents movie food. What would you have been eating at the movies in the 1940s and 1950s. A vegemite sandwich? Hopefully it would be relatively cheaper than the outrageous prices we are forced to pay nowadays for Popcorn and Coke. Posted at Food History.

One of the great things about Australia is the beautiful scenery. Baleboosteh presents Fire In The Sky posted at Baleboosteh.

Megan Bayliss presents a History of the Australian foster care system posted at Imaginif...

This tells the early story of Foster Care in Australia, starting in Norfolk Island in 1795. Having had immigrant foster kids when I lived in America, I know that this is an important role in the development of functioning and productive adults as well as many challenges in keeping kids safe and happy.

GrrlScientist presents The Return of the Rimatara Lory posted at Living the Scientific Life.

My life's passion is the birds of the South Pacific, particularly the Loriinae, which are parrots commonly known as the lories and lorikeets. I study them professionally and I have lived with them and bred them for most of my life. So it was exciting to me when I learned that one of my favorite lory species, the endangered Rimatara lorikeet or Kuhl's lory, Vini kuhlii, experienced a conservation triumph several weeks ago: twenty-seven of the parrots were translocated from the island of Rimatara, in the Cook islands where a small population still exists, to the island of Atiu, where they had been driven to extinction by the Maori hunters several hundred years ago. Officials hope that this homecoming will lead to establishment of a reserve population of the endangered birds.
I can certainly identify with the gloriously coloured birds that are a feature of Australias Parks and gardens. Personally, I have a large budgie collection, which have the benefit of requiring little maintenance and they don't bite too hard.

And for those with a literary bent, Gillian King presents Best seller! posted at School of St Jude. She uses here blog to support a school with 850 kids in Tanzania. Very interesting reading. We have an Australian friend, who is teaching English in Tanzania at the moment. Gillian writes

I find that St Jude’s is a great book for people who like an old-fashioned ‘good read’. Gemma has a great story to tell and she tells it with simple appreciation for both the rewards and challenges. In this way, it is similar to Albert Facey’s A Fortunate Life.

And what would a Carnival of Australia be, without something on sport. Here, Ajanta presents an Indian take on why Aussie Cricketers are top dogs posted at CricDigs - The Community of Cricket 'fan'atics!.

As Ajunta says "Now, there are a few things we all could learn from the Australians. While we talk of playing our A game in a few important matches, they do it day in and day out. While we talk of setting high standards in batting, bowling, or fielding, they make sure they set the highest standards."

And is that not just the Aussie way of Sport (and life).

And trust the English to find the smutty sex angle on the Ozzosphere.

Finally, in the humour department, can I recommend the Tale of Emperor Nasi Goring.

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of the Carnival of Australia hosted at imaginif... on June 6 using our carnival submission form.. We look forward to submissions from many new Aussie bloggers. Come on Aussie, c'mon, c'mon.

Past posts and future hosts for the Carnival of Australia can be found on our blog carnival index page. Why not consider hosting.

Until the next time Mates!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Punting on Shanghai Shares - Tsunami Watch

Listening to coverage of the meteoric rise and related punting by the locals on the Shanghai Stock Market, reminded me of the Malaysian market when I was living in Singapore in the 1990s. It was a get rich quick scheme to end all others. Most of my local work colleagues were punting on the secondary exchange in Singapore and talked about the status of their stocks. You couldn't fail and many people felt rich. The thing that struck a bell in the reports from Shanghai was the number of ordinary people borrowing to punt.

Danger. I seriously doubt that the current pattern is sustainable and the realities of financial gravity have to kick in before too long.

I am no stock picker, but it was ugly when it collapsed in Malaysia and Singapore. There were a few people who took a different kind of plunge.

Aussies Top Domestic Water Consumption

Australians, despite living in the driest continent are the most profligate with domestic water use. This from a recent study, summarised in The Age.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Wild Animal Husbandry Management Exam

I have heard this a few times. Most recently on Theo Sparks Blog. I have knicked it. My kids liked it and even adults get a kick from the funky logic.

1. How do you put a giraffe into a refrigerator?

The correct answer is: Open the refrigerator, put in the giraffe, and close the door. In the Australian context, you would have to take the beer out first. This question tests whether you tend to do simple things in an overly complicated way.

2. How do you put an elephant into a refrigerator?

Did you say, Open the refrigerator, put in the elephant, and close the refrigerator?

Wrong Answer.

Correct Answer: Open the refrigerator, take out the giraffe (and the rabbit), remove the vegetable crispers and the Vegemite and put in the elephant and close the door. This tests your ability to think through the repercussions of your previous actions.

3. The Lion King is hosting an animal conference. All the animals attend... except one. Which animal does not attend?

Correct Answer: The Elephant. The elephant is in the refrigerator. You just put him in there. This tests your memory. Okay, even if you did not answer the first three questions correctly, you still have one more chance to show your true abilities.

4. There is a river you must cross but it is used by crocodiles, and you do not have a boat. How do you manage it?

Correct Answer: You jump into the river and swim across, after consuming all the beer before it gets warm. Have you not been paying attention? All the crocodiles are attending the Animal Meeting. This tests whether you learn quickly from your mistakes.

I don't know about you, but I wouldn't get in the river. What about the Pirranhas? (That is one dastardly word to spell).

Thanks Theo.

Now you can get on with whatever you were doing before. Thank you for your care and interest for the welfare of animals.

Don't Eat Yellow Snow

Not really the same, but along the same kinds of lines, Tickersoid warns of the dangers of level crossings. We have quite a few in our neighbourhood and every now and again, we hear about some poor sad individual who had the misfortune to lose their valuable commuter wagon to a train. I also know that for the despondent, it is an effective means to relieve that pain. My friend was standing on the platform one day and there was a guy on the other side acting a bit odd. When the train passed through the station, he wasn't there any more. Momentum, it will get you every time.

This reminds me of the Physics problem we were set in high school about the fly flying, as they do, into a train and whether the fly stops the train, since in order for the fly to change direction and go in the direction of the train, it would have to stop and so would the train. I know that this is pretty theoretical and that yes, I now know the fly and all who travel with her would be squished.

OK, no more morbid posts for at least a few aeons.

Thanks Tickersoid

Workchoices - Beware of Polished Turds

After spending millions to develop the now hated Workchoices Brand, used to promote changes to industrial relations in Australia, HowardCo have decided to junk it and are now spending millions more to tone down and reassure the Australian public about the despised reforms. Know where you stand is the theme. Make sure you don't stand on a turd, even a nicely polished one, more like.

Why Australians Hate Telstra

Mark Pesce analyses why Australians hate Telstra, the monopolistic telephone carrier. Telstra is frantically trying to make a deal that protects their network monopoly and protects their market position. They are buying lots of ads and railing against the competition regulator, which is rebuffing the bluff and bluster. At the same time, the government is keen to make a deal that helps them to get re-elected. All bets are off if Labor is elected.

Australia lags significantly behind other western countries and the infrastructure is poor or not available for commercial reasons outside the major cities. The major sticking point is the price that other users who want to access the network, mostly paid for by Australians, prior to privatisation, are charged. Telstra wants to charge about three times what I currently pay per month for secondary providers to access the network. In New Zealand, where they are a minority player, they are using exactly the opposite argument.

Monopolists. They are all the same.

Pampering Pooches Overkill

Maybe it should be Pampered Pooches Will be Killed based on this photograph from a zoo in Japan. I think that this is cruel and unusual punishment for this dog. Imagine having to breast feed a tiger, a creature that would probably like to have you for lunch later in life.

Crushed by Ingsoc likes dogs. I do too. Just not this much. Dogs are just animals and the thought of pampering them too much makes my skin crawl. Pampering should be for humans, especially me. Each as they please however, I suppose.

Spotty, our annoying but friendly canine companion is exposed to a wide variety of foods, including raw carrots, which he steals from the rabbits, duck food, chicken food and his least favourite, commercially produced dog food. He is regularly exercised by running around like a mad thing when we come home and chasing other canines up the fence as they walk past. He exercises his vocal cords through ferocious barking at any potential intruders. He then practices his feel the love techniques if anyone braves the wall of sound to come in. He has grown to tolerate the horror of his bi-weekly bath. In the early days he hated it and ran away. Not quite as much as the cat, who felt that his feline essence was being violated by the mere vicinity of water.

As one concession to my wife, I do take responsibility for picking up after him. We are a bit cruel and make him sleep outside in his kennel, which is his daily complaint, as he slinks out late at night, especially in winter. We got tired of unexpected puddles and the like. One of his favourite spots was the shower, which was definitely not a good start to the day for my morning averse partner. His luxury is getting up on the couch on winters evenings and the occasional face lick under sufferance. The sacrifices owners must make.

Today is the Million Paws Walk for the RSPCA, where large numbers of fellow dog owners go and hang out together at parks all over Australia. I think that is cruel and unusual punishment to put so many dogs together at one location. They will all have to be on leads, which always get in the way of dogs trying to sniff each others bums and think of all those poops. I think that we will just take Spotty to the beach instead, where he loves to run along the shoreline. For a dog who hates water, he loves the sea.

West Indies Bowlers More Generous Now

Interesting article on the changes in West Indies Cricket by Martin Johnston in The Telegraph.

Their bowling attack is significantly more friendly and pleasant to be around for opposition batsmen now that Garner Holding, Croft, Marshall and Roberts are long gone.

It is inconceivable that an English batting line up would get four centuries against a West Indies pace attack from the 70s and 80s, far less still be batting at the end of Day 2.

Also the culture of cricket has changed dramatically.

It's definitely becoming more boring being a professional sportsman. Tiger Woods is out of bed and doing his press-ups before the milkman has set off on his round, snooker players are going to the gym, and there has even been the occasional sighting of a darts player sipping mineral water and wearing a shirt with less material than your average family camping tent. Cricket used to be the most unhealthy game of the lot. A fried breakfast, pot of tea and biscuits before play, a four-course lunch, jam scones in the afternoon and several pints of ale and a curry at night.

There were times when a side would win the toss and bat, not so much because of the playing conditions, but because three of their players hadn't made it to the ground after the previous night's bender.

That said, there is always Andrew Flintoff.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

My First Record Purchase

In response to Ian Grey's meme challenge relating to your first record purchase, while I don't have a specific recollection, I have a few selections.

At least they weren't bakelite.

Tequila The Upside and Downside

I can remember the first time I came under the influence of our good friend Tequila.

I had been clearing a cross country ski track in Aspen, prior to the start of the winter snows. The guys I was working with went to the bar after a long day of slogging through brush. This was soon after I moved to the US from Scotland and I had never had Tequila before and had no idea of its reputation to render such collateral damage. Beers quickly moved on to beers and tequila shots and then just tequila. Things were rosy until I stepped outside into the freezing cold air of the evening and fell over. I managed to stagger home and remember making quite a mess and my future wife slapping me to wake up. The hangover the next morning, was a league ahead of the many I had experienced in my Scottish alcohol abusing days.

Tequila. You gotta love it!

Have you had a Tequila moment?

Where Clever means Cunning, Crafty and Sly

When it comes to deciphering the language of the Australian election, which is reaching the pointy end of the faux election stage, with an election due to be held before the end of the year, Anthony Koutsatonis in the Age, provides some helpful guidance.

Kevin Rudd, the Labor leader has been using the code word, "clever" to describe the current Prime Minister, John Howard. As Anthony says,

Look it up and you see words like intelligent, alert, brainy, and bright. It is inconceivable that the Prime Minister would ever deny the description.

Were Mr Howard to stand up and deny the charge, saying, for example, "no, I am not clever", voters would agree. Yet the more Mr Rudd says it, the more obvious it becomes that what he really means is cunning, crafty, sly

Well yes he is and I think that it is a fair cop. While this is not Willie Horton stuff, which Ronald Reagan used to destroy Michael Dukakis, it is clearly part of a plan to spear Howard.

Why can't politicians come out and say it as it is. How about some Ozzie honesty and straight talk? Most Australians would agree with this characterisation of Howard (and worse), yet he continues to be popular, albeit not as much as in the past.

You can be sure that there will some less subtle stoushing as the campaign develops, especially with the Liberal coalition well behind in the polls. There is a lot at stake as Howard tries to extend his hold on power through a likely barrage of secret plans and clever tricks (accompanied by dollar denominated elections sweeteners), accompanied by his trademark "Who Me?" as the mud flies.

Welcome Wembley Goodbye Multiplex Hello Football

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Bloody Meetings

I like Leon Gettlers' Management Blog in the Age. Here he talks about the Chinese Water Torture of Meetings. One of the great things about my job is that I seem to avoid most meetings. I enjoy short meetings with clients, but most other organisational meetings, you can keep.

He has a very refreshing and interesting style. Well worth a look.

Carnival of Australia Here Next Week

I am hosting Carnival of Australia, here, next week. If you have an interesting post that you would like to include, please use the widget on the sidebar to submit. Anything and everything welcome. Thanks.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Howard Calls for Heavy Armour to boost sagging polls

Based on the current polls, HowardCo will need one of these to get the election poll bounce, much anticipated by most of the Australian media and still to appear.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a mirage?

No! It's a worm! It's a slug! It's a cow pat!

In reality it is looking more like something which leaves from Cape Canaveral may be what is needed.

Slow and steady Kevvie, roundly criticised and speared for the last few weeks by the media, continues to rise in the polls.

Next up desperate election tactics, including cabinet reshuffles, pork barrelling, smear campaigns, scare tactics and the like.

Peanut Butter Spill Stalls Traffic

A huge spill of peanut butter in North Melbourne has made things a bit sticky for drivers this morning. The police spokesman could not confirm whether it was smooth or crunchy.

Reports that commuters were bringing loaves of bread to make their kids lunch also could not be confirmed.

Why did Emperor Nasi Goring build the Great Wall of China?

To Keep Out the Rabbits!

That is the basis of the top rated commercial in Australia last year. After 22 years as a Postman, Patrick O'Meara gave it all up to be an actor and his first job was a fantastically successful advert for Telstra BigPond, the largest internet service provider in Australia. It tells the story of Chinese Emperor Nasi Goring and his plan to keep out the rabbits by building a large wall. Based upon my own experience with pet rabbits, this is a little bit of overkill. Unfortunately all this stumbling ignorance is at the expense of his knowledge hungry young son, who is about to present to his class. Better get Broadband and Replace Your Brain with Google seems to be the message.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Benefits of Patience

If you get angry, count to about 31 million and say your piece.

Australia bans Zimbabwe Cricket Tour.

Good! A sensible decision. Why give a vile dictator good publicity and a bucket load of money to prop up his failing regime.

James has some of the background to banning sports tours and a quiz.

Scottish Elections A Guddle a Fankle and a Bourach likely to lead to a Stramash

Whatever happens, at least there is new leadership in Scotland. No doubt there will be even more backroom deals and dodgy arrangements and likely political chaos from time to time. It will be interesting and the worst that can happen is that there will have to be another election.

Perhaps they can arrange a simpler ballot then and not run an election more in keeping with this crowd.

Thanks to Theo Spark for the image.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Nutty Number Plate Lottery

Would you pay $8.24 million for the Number 5 on your car?

Somebody in Abu Dhabi did. At least the money is going to charity.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Seven Year Itch

I hope somebody misses me if I disappear for a while.

I wonder if you have to have a doctor write a death certificate or whether you can just call the undertaker?

We just got the final bill "Paid in Full" for Elizabeth's dad, who died over two years ago. There had been some payment documentation bungling. It was very jarring to see a simple piece of paper, likely the last administrative contact Hugh had with the world, finally documenting an aspect of his life and death.

In Praise of the Wiggles

Pommygranate hits the nail on the head with an excellent post on the benefits to parents of entertaining distractions for annoying toddlers. Forget the impact to children. What about the young lives that are saved by inane singing and goofing around by numerous lightweight entertainers.

Allelujah and All Praise for the years of service provided by the Teletubbies, Wiggles, Bob the Builder and Play School, to name a few. Nut ball academics that preach the benefits of non television watching for kids under two need to be consigned to a screaming home to be sat inside a play pen and have mushed peas thrust onto their faces.

Although our kids generally poo poo that kind of stuff now and will deny ever having watched it, there are immense benefits in having ten minutes (if you are lucky) of quiet reflection while the young ones suck up inappropriate childrens audiovisual content.

I would have added my personal congratulations on succinctly slamming some of the nutty pc thinking, but Haloscan was sad.

What's your Japanese Name?

Your Japanese Name Is...

Ronin Genji

Arigato Island Girl

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

How Do You Explain this to the Boss?

Jambe devant guichet????

This looks much more complicated than the French Cricket I remember from my youth. We could have used some of these rules to get my Dad, the most competitive recreational French cricketer of the 1960s and 1970s, Owzatted!!

My kids like both versions of cricket, which is probably a good social inclusion tool in cricket mad Australia.

Merci Corridor of Uncertainty.

No I don't want a free mobile phone. Thanks.

Australia has just introduced a Do Not Call Register to screen those annoying calls. The web page where you can register crashed due to overwhelming demand in the first few days. There are still many bodies who can call, including worthy causes and politicians. At least there will be fewer free mobile phones from Mumbai.

As this article in the age, which echoes my views exactly, says, why not a Please Do Call Register, for those socially isolated members of society, who like to receive pesky calls at the wrong time of day. In addition, I have the same advantage that the writer has, in that my wife has a different surname and the phone is in her name. Whenever they ask for Mr (My Wife's Surname), we can cut to the chase and chase them away.

Australia is much better than America, where it seemed that there were calls every night. Perhaps I am just not fully integrated into society here yet. For those who really don't like these kinds of calls, I can recommend moving to Kathmandu. I don't remember receiving any unwanted calls there. Usually the phones were down.

Monday, May 07, 2007

One Lump or Three

Sugar Sugar Everywhere. The amount of sugar in breakfast cereals such as Special K has tripled and wholemeal bread has almost one spoonful of sugar per three slices. Experts think that the generous helpings of sugar in everyday items is more of a public health threat than smoking, with rapidly rising levels of rotten teeth, diabetes and general all around fatness.
Have you checked the ingredients list lately?

Qantas Bid - Pop Go the Weazles

Very interesting insight into the thinking and practices of hedge funds and how one clever clogs derailed a multi billion dollar bid for Qantas, by betting wrongly on the level of acceptances that were in the market and sleeping through the deadline. In the process, he deprived some of his best hedge fund buddies of millions in a major miscalculation. I mean what is a few hundred million between friends. Very healthy I say. From what I read, this was just a short term hurdle to keep the bid alive and to allow more speculation to continue. Australia's takeover panel has kyboshed plans to keep it going, making the very good point that all the players had plenty of notice and new well the deadline. The scheming and gaming came back to bite them big time. Very embarrassing for all parties.

The whole thing seemed very sus all the way through, with huge bonuses on the table for management and lots of commissions, fees and profits for advisors. That, along with the likely reorganisation (job losses and off shore exporting of services) required to make the economics of the deal work to return profits to the private sector backers, it may well be not a bad thing.

At a very basic level many Australians want Qantas to remain an Australian company, not a play thing for hedge funds. It is a national icon and this despoils it.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Life Sucks

How come I can't get this kind of TLC?

Pathetic Old Warties Bag Gillard

Julia Gillard, the Labor Deputy Leader, is getting some not very complementary advice from some of the the more broad minded members of the Liberal Party. Quite astonishing. This is 2007, not 1907. These are the guys that have been running this country for the last 10 years. Get rid of them.

Gary Sauer Thomson tells the story.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Camel Burger Anyone?

I heard this on AM on ABC radio yesterday and in response to the title of Morag the Mindbenders' thought provoking post titled, What does one do with 1,000,000 camels?, and not really about camels, here is one solution. There are others, including live and dead export and camel racing, which are detailed here.

From ABC AM Transcripts and my memory.

They're ugly, ungainly, and they sound like a flushing toilet, but apparently one day these desert loving beasts of burden are heading towards a future life as burgers, sausages and steaks, for a barbie near you.

Australia has the only wild herds of one-humped camels in the world, and in some parts of South Australia and the Northern Territory they're in plague proportions with a population estimated at more than a million, with predictions that it could reach over 4 million. In a move to diversify, mining giant BHP Billiton is running a trial near Lake Eyre, corralling camels in paddocks to see if they can be bred as a grazing species. It's hoped that the camel can then be marketed as healthy red meat for both the domestic and export market.

Historically they are as grumpy as they look and hate to be placed in paddocks, destroying fences and generally rendering havoc when given the chance. Camels also will, given the right situation, move en masse into remote Aboriginal communities, and smash things up a bit, destroying air conditioners, pulling taps out of the ground, and even smashing toilets. I wonder if they have camel ASBOs in the outback.

The first camel to stride onto Australian shores was a giant bull called Harry, a beast of burden brought in from the Canary Islands in 1840. They were put to work transporting and pulling people and goods all over Australia. More great photos here. But with the increasing use of cars and trucks in the 1920s, Harry's successors were discarded in the deserts of Australia where they've thrived ever since.

Camels have advantages over cattle in the extreme desert environments that they habit. They require less water, about one-twentieth the amount cattle need. They don't drink as often and they can drink more saline water. Dams and water holes around the edge of Lake Eyre often can get very salty, and while you have to move cattle off, the camels can last longer.

Australia, the only country to eat it's national emblem, could be heading down the path of Camel Burgers before we know it. Like kangaroo and emu meat, apparently the key is to not overcook it. I wonder if it is wine or beer with camel? Followed of course with camelbert cheese and after, you could always have a smoke.

Trivia Question: Do camels get up from the front or the back. If you have been on one, you will not forget. They have camel rides at Glenelg, just down the road, by the sea from us here. A very different feel to the donkey rides of my childhood. Not sure that they would make very good pets either.

Friday, May 04, 2007

'pparently 'tis me

How You Live Your Life

You seem to be straight forward, but you keep a lot inside.
You're laid back and chill, but sometimes you care too much about what others think.
Your friends tend to be a as quirky as you are - which is saying a lot!
Some of your past dreams have disappointed you, but you don't let it get you down.

Thanks James

Those pesky low clearance bridges

This story reminded me of some of the odd stuff and chaos of my trips to India for work.

From the BBC

Residents of the Indian city of Mumbai (Bombay) are wondering how long it will take to remove a disused Boeing 737 that has been abandoned in a busy road.

The decommissioned aircraft was being driven through the city at the weekend when the driver got lost and then abandoned the plane. The Boeing used to belong to the private company Air Sahara. Some locals are angry that no action is being taken to move the plane. Others say it is a tourist attraction.

It appears that after taking a wrong turn, the driver found himself facing a flyover that was too low for him to take the plane under.

The driver has not been seen since and no-one is assuming responsibility for the 737.

My client works for Rex Andrews here in Adelaide and they seem to do a good job of getting big stuff, like bridge spans, locomotives, wind turbines and the like to the job on time. Maybe there is a business for them in India.

This is a picture of one of their jobs where they had to take the prefabricated parts of wind turbines, shipped from Europe from Port Adelaide to site in Northern Victoria. This is the Main Street in Mount Gambier, one of the large towns in South Australia. I am still trying to work out how you get around the round about.

Update: I talked to the drivers yesterday as they waited for a bridge span, at the concrete factory in our neighbourhood. Apparently for the longer loads like the propellers, the rear steering is controlled from in the cab. The other, shorter ones, are controlled by a guy, who stands at the back and helps with those pesky turns. I told them about the Indian story and they thought that was unlikely to happen here in Australia, but that they had been in some difficult spots.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Listerine - Drink of Choice in Alice Springs

With the introduction of tough new liquor laws in Alice Springs, in the centre of Australia, serious drinkers are turning to Listerine mouth wash for their highs. Alice Springs has an alcohol consumption rate twice the national average and new laws have made it more difficult to buy alcohol for binge drinking. Chemists and supermarkets have empty shelves. Apparently it is completely unregulated despite having a high ethanol content and eucalyptus, both of which can cause severe systemic problems, even death.

I wonder if you would blow over the limit after a Listerine night on the town. Added benefits include having a fresh breath odour to share with your significant other, and sparkly teeth. Probably better than petrol sniffing however.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Carnival of Cities Number 11 Musings from the Antipodes

Welcome to the Carnival of Cities from Adelaide South Australia. Thanks to Home Turf Media for the last Carnival.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Engines.

I doubt that a City could be called a City without a zoo and this is what a family day at the zoo is all about. I used to like to go to the National Zoo in Washington DC, where I lived for a number of years. Posted at All Night.Org.

The next post reminded me of many of the small towns I visited during my many years living in the United States. There are so many common traits to these towns. Posted at Wicked Winter.

Another city I have lived in is Seattle. One of the things I liked was the Asian influence after having spent a year in Asia. I have spent a lot of time in the Smithsonian in Washington DC and you can now see part of it in Seattle’s Wing Luke Asian Museum. Posted at The Seattle Traveler.

I haven't seen much of Canada, but I have been to Vancouver a few times. Other than the overcast weather most of the time,I really liked it. James Higham obviously liked it too. Posted at nourishing obscurity.

I love the photograph of the ducks in this post. We used to have a pair just like that in our back yard. They would have liked the weather here this week. jmb introduces us to a wet Thursday at Granville Island, Vancouver. Posted at Nobody Important.

San Francisco has much to recommend it and public transport is one thing that enhances it. That said I can remember many a traffic jam going north and south through the city. Not as bad as some that I have been through in Manila, Jakarta and Seoul that I have endured. Posted at San Fran Voice.

One of the great things about my trips to San Francisco was the opportunity to head north along the coast. This post reminded me how beautiful that area and particularly Muir Woods are. Posted at Silicon Valley Real Estate Blog - 1SiliconValley.com.

Still in California, for those with a few too many coins, and that is what you need to buy a house in this part of the world, here is a steal in Silicon Valley. I wonder what the power bill is? Posted at The Digerati Life.

Another city I have lived in and travelled too is London. Personally I preferred visiting, to living in London, just as Ian describes. It is a great City to walk around. Posted at Shades of Grey.

If you want to know anything about living in Sicily, then take a look at Take a Stroll Along My Street. This is as close as you will get to living there without visiting, which of course, you should. Posted at Sicily Scene.

And continuing in Europe, a typically concise post from Tom Paine on Gaudis Architecture in Barcelona. Posted at The Last Ditch.

I love the tag line on Pauls blog from Hungary. It sounds so typical of overpaid sports stars.
"Hungary is very similar to Bulgaria. I know they're different countries.": Kevin Keegan, the former England Football Player. Pauls post reminds me of the Chinese Diaspora, which I have seen in so many cities I have lived in or travelled too. Some are very visible, others, such as those in Budapest are not so visible. Posted at Further Ramblings of a N.Irish Magyar.

Speaking of the Chinese, one of my favourite destinations while I lived in Asia, was Hong Kong, where there is a fairly large Chinese community. Sheila Scarborough makes a very good case for visiting. One of the things that I never did was to try to learn the language. Sheila is to be commended for having a go. I loved Victoria Harbour on a foggy morning. Posted at Family Travel.

Just over the sea from here, I like this quirky story about the little guy fighting the big corporate telco and winning a moral victory in the Christchurch Telephone Box War. Posted at Christchurch Tour Guide.

Here in Australia, have just had Anzac Day. David describes how it was celebrated in Brisbane. Posted at Brisbane Is Home.

And finally I don't recommend coming to my neighbourhood barber for a haircut.

Thanks and Happy Travelling.