Saturday, July 29, 2006

Kids Art Studio

The kids recently went to the new Craft Cafe in Adelaide. Parents can drink latte and kids can be creative. They came away with some nice stuff. More pictures here.

Honest it's a genuine Rolex

What a shock to discover that sales commissions that are paid to financial planners and accountants for the most part have nothing to do with advice in the interests of the client. They are about selling the particular sponsors' product and, shock horror, the world is starting to find out that is true."

These comments follow the Australian regulator disciplining AMP over its failure to manage conflicts of interest in its advice to clients about switching super funds last year. After a major surveillance program, it was found that AMP had advised customers to switch from rival funds that 93 per cent of new business had been pumped into AMP products.

"It's disingenuous for the product providers to pretend that somehow they didn't know it, or that it was all naughty planners. Nothing to do with the naughtiness of the planners. It's a deliberate strategy on behalf of the superannuation providers who pay people very lucrative trail commissions out of a person's lifetime savings."

"But the problem is not the commissions. The problem is that the clients actually believe in most cases that they are getting advice in their best interests."

As somebody who has been sucked in in the past, it is good to see some scrutiny of this shady business that everyone is forced to participate in and some of the scum buckets who operate in it.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Kapowee the Fighter Ace Jewee

Nothing Beats Paddling in the Sea with an Ice Cream in the Middle of Winter

It seems like ages since I took the kids down to the beach after school. We had ice cream, lots of laughs and screams and a nice sunset. Even in the middle of winter in Adelaide, the beautiful beaches here have a lot of appeal.

No contest for who was the most sandy and the wettest (it wasn't me).

Ryans First Bike Ride

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Monday, July 24, 2006

Is small scale genocide and failed state destruction fair game?

According to the Angry Arab, the various "terrorist" targets that Israel successfully bombed in Lebanon are: schools, hospitals, factories, tents, TV stations, radio stations, radars, boats, ports, airports, apartment buildings, bridges, refugee convoys including many children, catholic churches, roads, alleys, mosques, husayniyyat, relief trucks, and telecommunications installations.

I read somewhere else the strategy was to bomb all electrical, telecommunications and transport infrastructure out of existence, disrupting evacuation in the south of Lebanon and then suggesting that they leave. Last night they bombed Sidon, where most of these refugees were massed.

Last night a major Australian Jewish leader urged the masses to remember the Holocaust. Nothing like grabbing the moral high ground. If you say it often enough, people will start to believe you. At least some of the European leaders are strongly condemning the Israeli action in diplomatspeek. Apparently these are strong words in the generally genteel commenting of diplomats.

The British Foreign Office apparatchick, Howells said: 'The destruction of the infrastructure, the death of so many children and so many people: these have not been surgical strikes. If they are chasing Hizbollah, then go for Hizbollah. You don't go for the entire Lebanese nation.' The minister added: 'I very much hope that the Americans understand what's happening to Lebanon.'

As for me, it just makes me really angry. It would be just like the Yanks bombing Haiti. Nothing like destroying already failed states, who really cannot retaliate. If the beef is with Syria, go and bomb Syria. Cowards pick on little guys. Civilians pay a huge price. Is Israel going to pay for the rebuilding of that society, assuming they can dislodge the naughty boys who want to get rid of them?

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Iraq - Civil War to end all Uncivil Wars

In the spirit of calling a spade a spade, Nicholas Sambanis, in the New York Times, seems to have bucked the trend in the media. He describes the nature of the so called democratic process in Iraq, including murder, mayhem, civilian death and other not so pleasant aspects such as roadside bombs, assassinations and suicide bombs, as a civil war, not an insurgency as our friends in the Dubya friendly media and their enablers like to put it.

According to Sambanis, civil wars are defined as armed conflicts between the government of a sovereign state and domestic political groups mounting effective resistance in relatively continuous fighting that causes high numbers of deaths (over 100 per day in June). This broad definition does not always distinguish civil wars from other forms of political violence, so we often use somewhat arbitrary criteria, like different thresholds of annual deaths, to sort out cases. Depending on the criteria used, there have been about 100 to 150 civil wars since 1945. Iraq is clearly one of them.

Seems pretty clear to me and most people outside of Dubyaland. The most common resolution, according to Mr. Sambanis, is a decisive victory. I think that is about as likely as Carlton winning the AFL Grand Final this year or Sandra Kanck becoming Prime Minister next year.

First Draft of the Howard/Costello/Andrews/Abbott Election Manifesto 2007

Water Labelling Ahead?

The world today grows twice as much food as it did in the '70s, keeping pace with population growth. But to do that we take three times more water from rivers and underground reserves.

Few realise how much water it takes to get through the day. On average, we drink no more than five litres of the stuff. Even after washing and flushing the toilet, filling the swimming pool and hosing the car, Europeans get through only about 150litres each, though an average Australian manages to push that to 350litres a head. That may be profligate. But it is only when we add in the water needed to grow what we eat and drink that our personal water footprint really begins to soar.

According to statistics compiled by the UN's Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation,, it takes 2000 to 5000 litres of water to grow 1kg of rice. That is more water than many households use in a week for just a bag of rice. It takes 1000 litres, one tonne of water, to grow 1kg of wheat and 500 litres for 1kg of potatoes.

When you start feeding grain to livestock for animal products such as meat and milk, the numbers become yet more startling. It takes 11,000 litres to grow the feed for enough cow to make a hamburger; and 2000 to 4000 litres for that cow to fill its udders with one litre of milk. If you have a sweet tooth, so much the worse. Every teaspoonful of sugar in your coffee requires 50 cups of water to grow it. Which is a lot, but not as much as the 140 litres of water (or 1120 cups) needed to grow the coffee. Prefer alcohol? A glass of wine or a pint of beer requires about another 250 litres and a glass of brandy afterwards takes a staggering 2000 litres.

We are all used to reading detailed technical information on most food packaging about their nutritional content. Maybe it is time we were given some clues as to how much water it takes to grow and process the food.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Ivor Cutler RIP

Ivor Cutler was born in Glasgow on 15th January 1923 to a Jewish middle-class family. He died earlier this year. My dad introduced me to him. I can understand why his quirky sense of humour would appeal to him.

His performances generally combined tales and musings with solemn songs which he would accompany on a harmonium and sometimes enliven with cowboy-like "yee-hahs". His stories featured such heroes as the boy who took root in his own garden and the man who attracted crowds by breaking the arms of random passers-by.

Cutler would ask his audience to consider, for example, the hygienic way to drink water from the gutter, or the erotic joys to be derived from sitting in a bowl of shredded wheat. One story, in its entirety, reads: "The meeting of their bodies gave her more pleasure than she would have believed possible. I'm glad I'm a spider, she whispered."

His songs, of which there are more than 300, are not misrepresented by this refrain: "What happens to sharks when they're old? / They don't just fade away / What happens to sharks when they're old? / I'd rather not say." New Statesman & Society commented: "The deceptive, almost oriental simplicity of his [works]… often cause their simplicity to go unnoticed."

More good stuff here.

Well What a Surprise No Happy News from Iraq

According to Harpers, despite the deteriorating situation in Iraq, no National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) has been produced on that country since the summer of 2004. The last NIE, a classified document that the CIA describes as “the most authoritative written judgment concerning a national security issue,” was rejected by the Dubya Dudes (after being leaked to the press as being too negative), though its grim assessment subsequently proved to be highly accurate.

Apparently Dubya's henchmen are stonewalling requests to update the already grim assessment, judging that it would be more bad news for the Happy News from Iraq Department, spoiling the already somewhat jaded Victory is just around the corner message.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Suicide by Soda (and biscuits)

Wow! More inefficient ways to kill yourself. Just take a few hundred and see you later. You work out your own method on this morbid funny site.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

All the craziness you could fit into 1.37 minutes

I can still remember the first time Hannah clicked when we discussed eating animals. When we had ducks, however, I don't remember suggesting we eat them. I find them rather fatty. In Singapore, they often had them on display in their magnificent red fried/cooked ready to eat mode. I tried it a number of times, but always preferred the chicken rice from the food courts.

Wowee Get out the Deck Chairs. Scotland Almost Hits 30 Degrees!

With the highest temperatures yet to come, Scots were yesterday already buckling under the strain of a prolonged heatwave (read warmwave) which put Mediterranean holiday resorts in the shade.

There was a very real chance that the winter snow would finally melt.

As the mercury continued to threaten 30C, trade unions urged bosses to allow workers to loosen collars (and that everyone should be allowed hourly pub breaks). An air conditioning firm rushed out a survey showing that productivity slumped during the high temperatures (and that elephants should be made available in everywork place to provide refreshing showers).

The continued hot weather also brought health warnings, with elderly people especially at risk of strokes and overheating. The productivity survey also showed younger employees aged between 18 and 29 are three times more likely than their older colleagues to become aggressive as temperatures soar.

Dr Harry Burns, Scotland's chief medical officer, urged people to drink lots of water.

The public should be sun aware and should avoid sitting in direct sunshine between 12 and 3pm when the sun is at its hottest. You should stay cool by using fans or sitting in the shade and, if you are going to be in the sun, you should use UVA protective lotions and wear a hat," he said.

Though the heatwave has not broken any national records, its duration and intensity is unusual, and temperatures exceeded that in holiday destination including Athens, Bermuda, Rio de Janeiro, Rome (and Adelaide).

Thousands headed for the beach in Aberdeen on Monday where the city experienced its hottest day since records began at a roasting 29.8C. However, a change of wind direction brought cooler air from the Atlantic Ocean yesterday, leading to lower temperatures in eastern parts of the country and the highest recorded in southern and western areas.

Mr Justice Aikens, a High Court judge sitting at the Old Bailey, took off his wig yesterday morning and told others to do the same.

As thousands of people flocked to Scotland's beaches, lochs and rivers, the RNLI warned against using inflatables on the water. Colin Millar, of Troon lifeboat team, said: "Lilos may be fun in the swimming pool but they are not safe on the sea. If you see someone on a lilo being swept out to sea, don't go after them, ring 999/112 immediately.

What is it with Adelaide and Arsonists, Ram Raids, Graffiti and Hold Ups

Adelaide appears to have a very high rate of arson. There was another residential house fire bombed last night. I hear it almost as much as I heard murders on the nightly news when I lived near Denver. Schools, houses, public facilities are all fair game it seems for fun. Likely kids, but some very large facilities have been put to the match. You very rarely hear of murders by gun here, with guns only figuring in hold ups of petrol stations and convenience stores. They are basically banned after the Port Arthur massacre and I assume hard to get. Not like in Amerika Y'all. I was always surprised how many Americans had guns in their house. There were certainly plenty of gun shops, including Mike Moore's favourite KMart, where I never really got over the little gun shop within the store. Very jarring. Our neighbours here went through a very violent patch and based upon my experience in America, I kept expecting to hear a gun shot. In the end it never got above a lot of yelling and screaming, some drunken brawls and one of the sisters trying to run the other down as she tried to walk to work. Ram raids and graffiti are the other means of keeping the criminally inclined occupied.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Hot Dog

I always like a little of my Family Variety Hot Dog Chili Soup in the morning. In real life it is very convenient to have a major global consumer brand named after me. I can always gracefully get out of the How do you spell your name? question. Campbell just like the soup. End of that conversation. It even works in Yanqui land, which was good. People would engage in long meandering conversations about trivial issues just to hear my Scottish accent. I just luuuuv your accent, it's soooo cute..... Now, having lived in many different countries and not having the strongest Haggcent in the first place, I am often mistaken for Canadian. Relic of my ten years living in the last of the Souperpowers (where they talk and spell funny). My first conscious change in was tomayto for tomato. It just got tooo irritating to have to repeat it.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Good bye Chester

Chester the cute kitten was squished on the road this week. We are all sad and miss him very much. We only had him for about 10 weeks, but in that time he became a real part of the family. I still expect him to turn up to eat from time to time. Hannah said it was like a bad dream. There is a real hierarchy of affection with animals. One of the goldfish died this week also, but no big deal. We buried him in the garden where he used to lie in the sun. Ta ta Chester.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Ping Pong Cricket and the Bash Brothers

Sri Lanka broke the world record for the highest one-day international total in their match against Netherlands at Amstelveen this week. Four days after battering England into submission at Headingley, they sauntered to 443 for 9, past the mark of 438 set by South Africa at Johannesburg to win the match against Australia after Australia had earlier in that match set a very short lived world record. This heady news was not reported widely, because there was no television, radio, internet, journalists, spectators.....or opposition. This despite the fact that there was full ODI status for the game. Wow over 8 an over. Look for some really competitive games in the West Indies when it comes to the World Cup. Hard wickets and short boundaries. Biff, Bash, Tonk.....

Come on England II

England's cricket players may have served up a few stinkers of late but help could be at hand, according to the ever in the know Cricinfo. For their latest cunning strategy, the English Cricket Board have signed a deal to have the Hugo Boss fragrance linked with the England team. The makers, Procter & Gamble, were incredibly cagey when asked what the sponsorship deal will include and refused to release further details. What could possibly be on the cards? New product lines Capitulate, Despair and Hope, Despite all Odds, Jock Strap ???. Strategic uses could be Short-
Leg offering a pungent sample to the batsman (out next ball)? Squirting aftershave into the opposition's (or the Umpire's) eyes ? Seems that the only aroma associated with the team at present is Under the Knife.

Saturday, July 08, 2006


Ashes to Smashes (Dust to Dust)

With the loss of most of the Ashes squad to injury and poor form, it is hard to see England competing with Australia in the Ashes this year. Even harder to see them competing in the Champions Trophy, One Day Triangular Series and the World Cup. The only got completely thumped by Sri Lanka at home. Time for some radical changes? Roving reporter Tim de Lisle tells all.

My own suggestions include selecting Eddie the Eagle as an opener. His never say die attitude would enthuse the fans and one of his jumping skis as a straight bat would ensure that at least one wicket would not fall.

Next get Barry Bonds to change nationality and havethe rules change to allow pinch hitters. I mean Lords is the home of cricket. They should be able to get the rules changed. With Bonds in the line up, they will be able to regularly score 36 runs an over.

Next strategy, use the current World Cup Ball. All the bend and swerve will be guaranteed to bamboozle the opposition ala Murali and Warne. The England players could spend the rest of the summer practicing. They might hit it.

Still on the World Cup, we will arrange to use some of the current trigger happy referees as umpires. A little financial inducement and a red card could be shown after each ball (throwing the ball away) and diving (to make your ground), plus with all the other arbitrary penalties, the game could be over in the first ten overs. Also it would be good to engage Graham Poll as an Umpire when England are batting. None of the batsmen would ever be out.

Finally, given the range of debilitating injuries, permanent pinch runners should be adopted. These two are good candidates. Instead of running singles, they could run hundreds.

So other than these options or the Tanya Hardings boyfriend strategy, it is hard to see happy news coming Englands way.

Peter Sculthorpe

I had never heard of Peter Sculthorpe until I came to Australia. He is very inventive and has a distinctive Australian outback sound, incorporating many different instruments, including the didgeridoo and aboriginal influences rather like Aaron Copland has a distinctive American sound. Both are played regularly on ABC Classic.


Just listening to An American in Paris on ABC Classic. They just put together a really nice tribute programme. I really like some of Gershwins orchestral pieces, especially the original clarinet solo in Rhapsody in Blue. Nice excerpts and interesting information on George and his brother Ira on the official website. Gershwin was only 38 when he died of a brain tumour. What is it with those musicians and composers? Make it to 40 and you are doing well.

Robbie McEwan Cycling Hero

For such an apparently corrupt sport, it is encouraging to see the success of Robbie McEwan in the Tour de France. With most of the favourites kicked out as drug cheats, before a pedal was turned, it is good to see an (apparently drug free) Aussie hero. I watched his first two stage wins live on SBS. Last night he won another stage. The ABC Radio News this morning short changed him attributing this as his second stage win this year. Note to ABC: Get some fact checkers. Originally SBS showed only highlights, then longer coverage very late. Now they show the whole race. Cycling must be very popular here in Australia. Nobody talks about it much. Must be taboo to admit to enjoy watching the race. It is like a four hour version of one of the travel programmes, with often interesting visual coverage of the French countryside, interspersed with the occasional crash, flat tire and assorted maladies. I remember watching them eating lunch last year. They get containers of things and just eat what they want and throw away what they don't. Not so environmentally friendly. My wife cannot comprehend watching it, especially so late at night. She has similar feelings about cricket. It is strangely addictive from a spectator perspective. The commentary is measured and knowledgable and the tactics (apparently there are a lot) are becoming more clear. Next year they are even starting in London. Sacre blue (it can't be true). Tour de Londres?????

It's getting expensive around here

The Australian Weekend Magazine has a list of 12 things that used to be "free".

1. Music Downloads
2. Airports
3. Directory Assistance
4. Rubbish Tips
5. Education
6. Water
7. Bread at Restaurants
8. Bank Service
9. Fishing

The question is have taxes reduced and we are being asked to pay using the money that we used to pay in taxes or are some such as Music Downloads not really a fair change to reflect the fact that it was really stealing. Airports are a major rip off, with airport charges and taxes more than some fares. Charges for rubbish tips and water seem fair to reflect shortages of land and water and to promote responsible environmental management. Trouble is these seem to be revenue black holes for governments. Bread at restaurants seems fair, especially living in a family with gluten intolerances. Banks and Telephone companies seem to be trying to stiff the general population with a raft of hidden and stealth charges to make a buck. In any other industry, it would be considered extortion. Banks encouraged ATMs by making them free. Last year we paid $583 million for the privilege of using our own money. Roads and parking seem fair game if they can improve service and flat out discourage people from driving and to encourage public transportation. Seems these are just money grabs, rather like speeding tickets, which just go into general government revenue, without trying to link the revenue source with reinvestment to reduce the related problem. As for doctors, you can still get doctors without a gap, but be prepared to wait an hour. Think about how much of our taxes goes to maintain this system. As for fishing, I hate it, so charge what you like. So slish slosh taxes, fees, charges, fines, call it what you like, nothing much has changed.

Spring is here (well maybe)

Still getting used to South Australian Winters. People here moan and groan about how cold it is. Having grown up in Scotland, with the combination of rain, wind, snow, storms, sleet, frost (all before 11am), I have no complaints. We are in month two and it feels like spring. As low as 3 degrees, with a high of 15 degrees. Geraniums and daisy's flowering and vegetables growing. Very different from the gloom and doom of Scottish Winters.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

My 5 year old will be impressed.

Your results:
You are Batman

Iron Man
Wonder Woman
Green Lantern
The Flash

You are dark, love gadgets
and have vowed to help the innocent
not suffer the pain you have endured.
Click here to take the Superhero Personality Test

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Global Warming set to hit Port Adelaide

Recently Port Adelaide Enfield Council announced plans to address the imminent flooding of parts of their electorate. Wouldn't want to lose any voters or rates income now. A study is underway to work out which neighbourhoods will be additional public bathing facilities when the oceans rise and what can be done to stop it. You can add this to the following short list of potential global warming effects.