Friday, June 29, 2007

Don't they have enough Money?

Do we really really really want more of Posh et al?

Second Life for Real

So true

Thanks Delicolor Furse

Another Pop Gun Attack on Bloggers

Who cares if people don't go to blogs for the truth. What is the truth? It is opinion and don't buy it without checking if it is important to you (rather like shares I suppose).

......the blogosphere - a virtual soapbox of citizen reporters, self-proclaimed experts and armchair commentators - is looking less like Drudge's utopian vision and more like the wild west.

Populated by anyone with a viewpoint and an internet connection, it's a daily ping-pong match of unfiltered opinion. But without the traditional checks and balances of mainstream media, can we really trust what's being said?

For me that is the great thing about it. A great free ranging discussion. Laugh a bit, think a bit, enter into discussion, write your own thoughts... You are not being paid (much if anything). Enjoy! Make up your own mind.

When I was little there was two sources of information in our house, The BBC and The Scotsman Newspaper. My dad never talked about politics having grown up in an angry disputatious communist house in West Fife. My mum kept here opinions to herself.

I am glad that there are a lot more sources and ways of interacting and receiving information now. There is obviously too much information now and we just have to sift through what we want to hear. Don't like it? Disagree? Comment or Click and then gone. The irreverent give and take of blogs are just part of the puzzle that makes up my understanding of some of the things that are going on in the world.

Lighten up Sir. It is all good clean fun.

Thanks Gary Sauer Thomson

Happy Tenth Birthday Platform 9 and three quarters

Apparently Platform 9 and three quarters is between Platform 4 and 5 at Kings Cross in a quirk of location.

JK Rowling admits that she actually made a mistake when she placed Platform 9¾ at King's Cross Station: "I wrote Platform 9¾ when I was living in Manchester, and I was actually thinking of Euston. So anyone who's been to the real Platforms 9 and 10 at King's Cross will realise they don't bear a great resemblance to the platforms nine and ten as described in the book, and that would be because I was thinking of Euston at the time (HPM)."

The platform actually used for filming at King's Cross Station is Platform 4. Hagrid and Harry are also filmed walking over the pedestrian bridge across the tracks.

Rubber Ducks Escape from Future Hell as Bath Toys

This is one big journey for a very big family of rubber ducks, desperate to avoid the hell of life as a bath toy. Look out for them. We're free We're free at last.

Thanks Theo

For a more serious take, go here.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Lawyer Jokes

These are from a book called Disorder in the American Courts, and are things people actually said in court, word for word, taken down and now published by court reporters who had the torment of staying calm while these exchanges were actually taking place.

ATTORNEY: Are you sexually active?
WITNESS: No, I just lie there.

ATTORNEY: What gear were you in at the moment of the impact?
WITNESS: Gucci sweats and Reeboks.

ATTORNEY: This myasthenia gravis, does it affect your memory at all?
ATTORNEY: And in what ways does it affect your memory?
WITNESS: I forget.
ATTORNEY: You forget? Can you give us an example of something you forgot?

ATTORNEY: What was the first thing your husband said to you that morning?
WITNESS: He said, "Where am I, Cathy?"
ATTORNEY: And why did that upset you?
WITNESS: My name is Susan!

ATTORNEY: Do you know if your daughter has ever been involved in voodoo?
WITNESS: We both do.
WITNESS: Yes, voodoo.

ATTORNEY: Now doctor, isn't it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn't know about it until the next morning?
WITNESS: Did you actually pass the bar exam?

ATTORNEY: The youngest son, the twenty-year-old, how old is he?
WITNESS: Uh, he's twenty-one.

ATTORNEY: Were you present when your picture was taken?
WITNESS: Are you shittin' me?

ATTORNEY: So the date of conception (of the baby) was August 8th?
ATTORNEY: And what were you doing at that time?
WITNESS: Uh.... I was gettin' laid!

ATTORNEY: She had three children, right?
ATTORNEY: How many were boys?
ATTORNEY: Were there any girls?
WITNESS: Are you shittin' me? Your Honour, I think I need a different attorney. Can I get a new attorney?

ATTORNEY: How was your first marriage terminated?
WITNESS: By death.
ATTORNEY: And by whose death was it terminated?
WITNESS: Now whose death do you suppose terminated it?

ATTORNEY: Can you describe the individual?
WITNESS: He was about medium height and had a beard.
ATTORNEY: Was this a male or a female?

ATTORNEY: Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition notice which I sent to your attorney?
WITNESS: No, this is how I dress when I go to work.

ATTORNEY: Doctor, how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?
WITNESS: All my autopsies are performed on dead people. Would you like to rephrase that?

ATTORNEY: ALL your responses MUST be oral, OK? What school did you go to?

ATTORNEY: Do you recall the time that you examined the body?
WITNESS: The autopsy started around 8:30 p.m.
ATTORNEY: And Mr. Denton was dead at the time?
WITNESS: No, he was sitting on the table wondering why I was doing an autopsy on him!

ATTORNEY: Are you qualified to give a urine sample?
WITNESS: Huh....are you qualified to ask that question?

And the best for last:

ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for breathing?
ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
ATTORNEY: I see, but could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?
WITNESS: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practising law.

Captain Politeness Strikes Again

South Australian Treasurer, Kevin Foley accused the Opposition Leader Ian Hamilton Smith of lying in a budget estimates meeting today. The meeting was suspended to allow him to cool down and be a good boy.

More Productivity Bonus (cuts) analysis coming in the next few days.

Pasha Bulker to be salvaged this week

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

It's a Hello from Him and a Goodbye, Goodnight, Adios, Get Lost, Be Gone from Him

Viva McGordo. The Scottish Political Occupation Continues.

Up yer kilt Tony McBliar. Awa and feed the coos.

And if you think Gordo is lucky, think about his neighbours.

From Shades of Grey

By the way, it may be Gordon Brown's dream home, but Downing Street is in a seedier area than folk imagine. In a council house just over the back fence lives an extended family run by a grumpy old woman who keeps a pack of fierce dogs. Her husband makes racist comments and a local shopkeeper says he murdered his son's girlfriend – but the police do nothing. Most of their kids have broken marriages, and their grandchildren are always out clubbing. They all live off the state, and every day the papers are full of their excesses. Who'd want to live near Buckingham Palace?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Doctor Doctor

Thank you Thank you Jessica Hagy

Mushroom Cloudy Day in Prague

This is not the type of weather forecast I remember from Michael Fish. Boing Boing has all the details.

Thanks Damien

Linden Dollar Income Taxable in Australia

As we head into tax season here in Australia, we learn that Linden Dollar income has been determined to be taxable income by the Australian Taxation Office. Other governments, including our Scottish friend Gordos' lot are looking into it.

The always entertaining Laurel Papworth has the scoop.

“The real world value of a transaction may form part of your taxable income, even if it is in Linden dollars,” a spokeswoman for the Australian Tax Office told the paper. “If you are getting a monetary benefit then it’s not treated any differently - normal rules apply.”

Spoil sports and spoken like a true bureaucrat.

In Britain and the United States, income earned in a virtual currency such as Linden dollars is only taxable after it is converted into a real-life currency. A U.S. Congressional committee is investigating whether new laws need to be created to deal with the rapid growth of worlds like Second Life, although the committee’s chairman has said he is opposed to any “premature attempt to impose a tax on virtual economies.”

Nothing is free in this world. I will have to watch my dodgy SL transactions. I will see if Tom Paine can set me up with a tax haven island on SL.

Also interesting how few Australians are on Second Life. Around 3,000 total members. It may be a function of the shocking broadband speeds here. You also need a pretty woop dee doo computer to run it effectively. Certainly when you visit Australian focused sites, they are usually pretty empty.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Some Thoughts on Big Brother

From Answers

When George Orwell's 1984 came out in 1949, his dystopic projection of a totalitarian state was far in the future. Orwell, born on this date in 1903, was dying when he wrote the book; he succumbed to tuberculosis just a few months after the book was published. Orwell coined the sentence "Big Brother is watching you," for 1984. He wrote of a society where people spoke Newspeak, a language of words with contradictory meanings designed to deceive and manipulate people, and where the individual — his thoughts, feelings and personality — would be completely dominated by the state.

It is really quite surprising how close the present is to his vision. He was only off by about 20 years in the UK. In an ironic way, the reality that many of us are watching Big Brother, does not diminish the erosion of liberty and the rise of the state that we see every day.

Thanks for the image Crushed By Ingsoc.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Jocko Cioc in Second Life

One of my Second Life Guises as I prepare for the Blogpower Awards.

Second Life is somewhat challenging initially, but quickly becomes fairly intuitive. My six year old knows about as much as me after an hour of taking over Jocko's body. Most of my changes of appearance are due to their creativity.

Delicolor Writer from Shades of Grey has a dog, which miraculously appears and disappears as needed, doesn't bark (unless requested), is fed at the touch of a mouse click, doesn't poo and is generally very well behaved. I wish Spotty was that easy.

Good to Know



Online Dating

Mingle2 - Online Dating

I was surprised, because the naughty words didn't seem too bad.

Google to Enter Online Dating Market

Google Search, Google News, Google Images...Next up Google Dating. Damien Mulley has the scoop on this one.

SA Labor Proposes to Steal from Children

The South Australian Labor State Government is proposing to cut $28 million out of public school budgets to fund investments in the future, including the development of a number of impressive sounding Super Schools. This is the death of a thousand cuts, especially for small schools, often the heart and soul of small communities. They have already successfully whacked small country schools with a large cut this year. More pain coming up this year. The school our kids go to is looking at a cut of $30,000, with other larger schools, significantly larger cuts.

Public Schools in South Australia are already underfunded and this will make things much worse. The divide between private and public schools is getting larger. Surely this type of exercise will just undermine the Public Schools even more. Important programmes will be cut and resources withdrawn. In a time of budget stability and significant investments in other areas of the budget, the so called Education State is subsidising foreign American Universities to set up in Adelaide, writing off multi million dollar debts for the Festival Centre and at the same time depriving the future workforce of South Australia of resources needed in the classroom.

This is all Bollocks. It makes me very angry. This is a Labor Government. An arrogant one all the same.

So Mike Rann, Kevin Foley and Jane Lomax Smith, Lolly Jar Thieves and Smiling Assassins all, think this through a bit more. There are a lot of angry people out there.

I have set up a blog on this issue if any one is interested. It has the non confrontational name of SA Labor Stealing From Children (salaborlollyjarthieves.blogspot.com). I have been to a rally, wrote many emails, called politicians, signed petitions, called in to the radio station more than once and am supporting our school community through my work on the Governing Council.

If you can't do a little to support your kids then what is the point.

Rant Over

Access to Broadband - The Defining Issue

For me there is no other issue than the current governments attitude to broadband (Fraudband?) that defines their has been status. It is all catch up. Australia is a third tier nation in world rankings of internet infrastructure, with large sections of the population unable to access even modest broadband.

The technologies currently used, ADSL and wireless are plagued with inconsistent service, are relatively slow and relatively expensive. The monopoly telco, Telstra, which was privatised without really thinking through the current requirements for telecommunications services, by the government, wants to build the next big super duper mega fast roll out, keep all the customers and charge about three times what we are currently paying for our service.

So Australian in business strategy. Set up a monopoly or if you have to, a duopoly and carve up the market. How about some real competition. Thank goodness for the ACCC, who at least stand guard over predatory and monopolistic practices, which many Australian businesses seem to favor.

Whatever happens, Australia is likely to move up to the second tier in the next few years, once the men with the money figure out how to line their own pockets. A net positive I suppose.

Irish Eyes are Smiling

Paul Kelly presents an interesting piece on the strength of the Irish economy. Well researched and informative, with parallels and things to learn for Australians.

This comes during a week where Australian politicians argue over the productivity of the Australian economy. Australia has a strong economy, but I can't help but feel that they could loosen things up a little to stimulate other forms of wealth. Currently the economy is dominated by many old world companies, Bank One, Bank Two and Bank 3, Supermarket One and Two, Agricultural Co One, Agricultural Co Two, Resourceco One, Resourceco Two.....

Australia has parallels with Ireland with a former dependence on commodity exports and the export of skilled labor. What is being done to make Australia attractive for the many skilled people who have gone abroad to work, many for every. What will underpin the economy in ten and twenty years when the resources boom is gone and the population is seriously ageing? Will Australia have made the investments required to transform the economy for a productive future?

I used to go to Ireland until the 1980s. The country Paul describes is very different from the one I remember. I can remember talking to many well educated young people, who had taken advantage of free education to earn multiple degrees and who were forced to travel abroad to get a job in their field. The option to stay at home is at least there now.

Too bad the weather is crap and they have a second rate cricket team. Australia has them beat in those areas.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Honest John Finally Says Sorry

On a more serious note, Ken Parish dissects the HowardCo Emergency legislation for Native Australians. Also Pommygranate weighs in with surprising support, given his libertarian leanings, but like me, what do expat Scots and Poms know about this complex and difficult area. All the same we both feel comfortable to weigh in.

I was surprised what a small proportion of Australias population this issue was addressing. I read somewhere that it is about one percent of the population.

This is an ugly relic of Australias history and the debate is very polarised. It reminds me of the polarisation of the divide in America with colour, predominantly blacks. This is the Howard Government wiping their hands (or should that be their bum) of this ugly wart from the past. They have been in power for over 10 years and it is all hands on deck less than six months before the next election. Call me cynical. These are intractable, long term deeply rooted problems that will not be solved by General Mal Brough occupying and controlling aboriginal communities, in the same way that the surge in Iraq will fail.

In America, the native American divide is not so polarised, with significant programmes to mainstream that population, continuing to take place and massive economic contributions to the native American population. That is not to say that there are not many similar problems on the reservations themselves. I have been on some of the American reservations and they are very depressing soulless places from a visitors perspective.

It is the lack of hope in these communities that I see as the biggest challenge. That and all those years of doing nothing. No wonder everyone is cynical.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Cactus Flowers Short and Sweet

Welshcakes posted pictures of flowers from Prickly Pears in Sicily. These are from different succulents that we have in our garden here in Adelaide. They only come out to play for a few days and then they are gone for another year.

With our very dry conditions, succulents are excellent low maintenance plants for this climate.

Aegean Whales and Dolphins hit Scotland

It's getting warm in Scotland.

Next up coral and tropical fish. Plans are being considered for the development of the European equivalent of the Great Barrier Reef, which is facing bleaching and a threat to the ecosystem from warming oceans in the Southern Hemisphere.

When is a Condom Not a Condom

When it is a sex toy!

From the BBC.

The Hindustan Latex company says that the new condom was launched to promote the use of condoms in order to prevent the spread of Aids.

"The product was launched with the primary objective of addressing a fall in condom usage... A major reason cited by users was the lack of pleasure when using condoms.

"So we added the vibrating ring as a pleasure enhancer. It helps to hold the condom in position besides producing a vibrating effect," company spokesman S Jayaraj told BBC News.

Condoms are becoming more available in India.

The company says the condom pack, priced at 125 rupees ($3, £1.50) has been "well received".

It has strongly rejected allegations that its product is a sex toy.

Next up, they will have romantic ring tones. You will be able to put your condom on silent, vibrate or ringing mode, depending on your mood.

Update: Apparently there are many non sexual or disease prevention uses for condoms in India.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Blogging Success Story

One way to have a phenomenally successful blog is to follow the path of Casey Serin. At 24 and within a year of beginning a real estate investment career, he had bought 8 houses, amassed $2.2 million dollars in debt and then defaulted on it all, when the market went south. Next up foreclosure and writing a blog documenting this dubious business strategy, a book and publishing deal and voila, get rich quick beckons again.

Interesting reading and talk about a polarised readership. Only in America.

Garden Gnome Snake Smuggling Scam Busted

An evil group of Garden Gnome's plans to smuggle Australian snakes and lizards into Australia from the UK has been thwarted by the Australian Quarantine Service. In a strategy similar to drug smugglers swallowing drugs before flying, the gnomes ingested the snakes for the long flight.

Police are looking for a pale female ringleader, thought to be behind the gang. The gnomes are expected to receive a sentence of neglect in high security suburban Australian gardens.

Monday, June 18, 2007

So True

"Brilliance is typically the act of an individual, but incredible stupidity can usually be traced to an organization." -- Jon Bentley

Most Dangerous Job in the World?

With all the focus on Alan Johnston being held hostage in Gaza, it is easy to forget all the other journalists who are kidnapped and silenced for speaking out. The latest Iraqi journalist killed was Filaih Wadai Mijthab a Newspaper Managing Editor with the state run Al-Sabah Daily. He was kidnapped and found recently in a morque with multiple bullet wounds. No doubt he was held responsible for something said in the paper. This killing takes the number of journalists killed in Iraq since the start of hostilities to 182, most of them Iraqis.

At a time when it is important for people to speak out, it is difficult to comprehend the bravery of these people, with the threat of execution hanging over them every day.

Free newspapers are often at the forefront of political fights. The fight in Iraq is one with no winners, just many losers and many dead people, including journalists.

I hope this does not happen to Alan.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Why So Long?

Arise Sir Beefy Botham of the Bat Ball and Wicket!

As Andrew Miller says on Cricinfo, it is richly deserved!

Until now, Botham's solitary honour was the OBE he was given in 1992, at the fag-end of a 15-year Test career that encompassed five Ashes victories, two World Cup finals, and 383 wickets - more than any England bowler, before or since, has mustered. That he threw 5200 runs and 120 catches into the bargain was by-the-by. Botham has a rightful claim to be England's greatest living sportsman, end of story. When you take into account the magnificent charity work that has sustained his appetite for conquest long since retirement, it is little short of a scandal that he has been overlooked until now.

My Grandfather used to join him when he was in his 70s on sections of his long walks to raise money for charity. He always spoke very highly of him as a human being. I am sure he is right.

There may have been other colourful players, but Botham's combination of cricketing skills, drive for success and charity work have not been surpassed.

Thank Goodness Becks and Posh didn't get anything, as had been speculated, before this guy. Talk about a huge potential injustice.

Cowaroo to fight global warming

Blognor Regis has the scoop on moves to reduce the flatulence contribution of cows to global warming. Apparently Kangaroos are also large fart contributors to the environment, but that they have different enzymes, significantly reducing the carbon dioxide contribution.

The obvious solution, a joint breeding research programme. Look for Cowaroo meat in the Supermarket in the coming years. Challenges will be how to round up bouncing cows and maintaining the quality and quantity of milk.

Why did Kangaroos come to Australia A Christian Conservative View

Everyone to their own view. I love the equivalent to the legal disclaimer at the end.

From Conservapedia

According to the origins theory model used by creation scientists, modern kangaroos are the descendants of the two founding members of the modern kangaroo baramin that were taken aboard Noah's Ark prior to the Great Flood. It has not yet been determined by baraminologists whether kangaroos form a holobaramin with the wallaby, tree-kangaroo, wallaroo, pademelon and quokka, or if all these species are in fact apobaraminic or polybaraminic. There is, however, no evidence of a genetic bottleneck in the kangaroo species which would be expected if all kangaroos were descended from two individuals.

After the Flood, these kangaroos bred from the Ark passengers migrated to Australia. There is debate whether this migration happened over land with lower sea levels during the post-flood ice age, or before the supercontinent of Pangea broke apart, or if they rafted on mats of vegetation torn up by the receding flood waters. The idea that God simply generated kangaroos into existence there is considered by most creation researchers to be contra-Biblical.

Other views on kangaroo origins include the belief of some Australian Aborigines that kangaroos were sung into existence by their ancestors during the "Dreamtime" and the evolutionary view that kangaroos and the other marsupials evolved from a common marsupial ancestor which lived hundreds of millions of years ago.

A majority of biologists regard evolution as the most likely explanation for the origin of species including the kangaroo.

Conservapedia, The Trustworthy Encyclopedia has Commandments rather than rules governing their work. Everything must be original, true and verifiable and no opinions are to be stated.

That said, one of the sources used for this article claims the following.

Kangaroos are ingenious examples of God’s craftsmanship, designed by a Creator who knew perfectly what He was doing. To Him all praise, glory, and honour is forever due.

That sort of stuff is right in line with the Commandments, obviously. No mention of the Ark in Wikipedia. Obviously a left wing atheist bias.

So basically Joey and Skippy, the kangaroos from the ark made their way by a series o improbable means, chosing Australia as the ideal spot to raise their family. The rest as they say, is history.

I think I will stick with the scientists.

Return of the Strap and Cane?

Federal Health Minister, Tony the Abbott, has weighed in in favour of the whack of the leather and the crash of the cane in restoring discipline to out of control teens in Australia's schools.

I strongly doubt that it will make the slightest bit of difference. My own personal experience was that the teachers who were respected hardly ever had to use corporal punishment in the classroom. The one's who used it most were either ineffective or very permissive teachers.

My brother, had the record for his year for the number of times he was belted. It was like a badge of courage as he took it to the teachers. I on the other hand was the quiet type and only got belted twice, once for chewing gum in class and another for a minor incident that four people were held collectively responsible for.

In neither case did the presence of corporal punishment make the slightest difference to behaviour.

I think you have to look to families to make a difference. It seems that this responsibility is being abdicated by many.

The other alternative is to go to stronger measures as suggested in the photograph.

See Your Blog

At Browsrcamp.com, you can get a screen shot of the whole of the first page of your blog. It is not surprising that this one takes a while to load.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Viveoleum - You Light Up My Life Exxon Mobil

Classic hoax played out at the Oil and Gas Expo in Calgary by The Yes Men.

Exxon-Mobil's plans to replace the worlds oil supplies with energy from all the dead people killed by the impact of Global Warming.

Thanks Typing is Not Activism and Advice From a Fake Consultant


These stunts, also by these guys are also very excellent.

If are happy and you know it clap your hands!

And for my one thousandth post, some happy news.

According to Leon Gettner I live in the
happiest of happy capitalist countries, Australia.

The report says happy societies have 10 signs:

1. High degree of trust in fellow citizens.

2. Low amount of corruption.

3. Low unemployment.

4. High level of education.

5. High income.

6.High employment rate of older people.

7. Small shadow economy.

8. Extensive economic freedom.

9. Low employment protection.

10. High birth rate.

Australia scores highly in most of these categories.

I certainly think that it is a nice place to live and I trumpet it on my blog header every day.

We ended up in Australia, not by design, but by the impact of some loonies flying 747s into the World Trade Centre. I have a vivid memory of being woken up by our next door neighbour in Sacramento. She knew that we did not have a television and wanted to share the dramatic news. I had recently moved back to America, with the company I had worked for for over ten years.

Most recently I had spent time in Singapore, where I had a nice life jetting around Asia advising on environmental and land contamination issues. I extricated myself from a previous unhappy marriage, got a divorce, met my current wife and we had two kids after living in Singapore for over five years. Singapore was very stable and a very easy and comfortable lifestyle.

I had a Green Card, which meant I had no issues with immigration into the US. My family were with me, although their long term visas had not been processed yet. We bought a house, a car, a fridge..., everything you need to get going in a new country. I just assumed that everything would work out.

Well that dramatic event put paid to our plans and to cut a long story short, visa processing for immigrants and temporary residents went into the slowest of the slow lane as all immigration resources were poured into rooting out potential subversives.

During our trip to Canada to renew my families temporary visas, my family were denied reentry and forced to decant with their bags to Australia through Singapore immediately. So I was in America with a job and all of our stuff and they were in Australia, with nowhere to live. My son was only one at the time and my daughter was three, so my wife had a lot on her plate.

After finally extricating myself from this odd situation, giving up my job, house stuff etc, I ended up in Adelaide. Elizabeth got a job with the Government, which gave us some stability and I started the process of applying for residence. Adelaide was nice. It was possible to do a lot of stuff without a lot of money. It took me a while to get over it all, but over time I rebounded.

That is all resolved now and I am an Aussie Permenant Resident. After four years staying home with the kids until they went to school, I am now gainfully employed part time in the same field I was working in before. I arrange my schedule so that I can take the kids to school, pick them up in the afternoon and do my domestic tasks. I have a nice work environment with nice colleagues. I volunteer at the school and am on the Governing Council. I do all the shopping and most of the domestic chores. Life is relatively uncomplicated and stable.

So yes I feel lucky here in Australia. We have a good life and I am generally satisfied with my lot.

As Crushed mentioned in the last post, Australia is very familiar for British people, something I never felt, living in America for all those years. I think that has a tremendous impact on your level of happiness. Having lived in many countries there is always the feeling of not really belonging.

So for me happiness in no particular order is having a stable family life, cultural familiarity, not worrying too much about where the next dollar is coming from, nice weather (we have a lot of that here), being able to get up early and have some quite time to myself, nice work arrangements with pleasant coworkers, access to a computer and broadband and what that allows, a dishwasher, a garden to fiddle around in, a few pets, a reliable car, being able to spend time with my kids, a few pets, a smooth commute to work, access to a beer now and again, nice food and having time to be around my wife.

As one of the commentators on Leon's blog said, it is all relative.

Happiness. It's all relative. Take the Soviet diplomat who said, "When I am not abroad, I live with my family on the 16th floor of a high-rise apartment building in Moscow. I am sitting with my son on my knee, reading him editorial from 'Pravda', when I hear 'knock-knock' on door. I open door and there stands Secret Policeman. He says, "You name Ivan Ivanovich?". I say, "No! He live upstairs...". That's my idea of happiness."

Although I am not really the upbeat or particularly optimistic type and can be quite depressed at times, I think what it really boils down to, is to be happy with what you have and always look on the bright side of life.

Now that always makes me laugh.

Whose Australia? A view from Birmingham

Brought to you by the wonders of modern technology, some thoughts through a Guest Post from British Brummy Blogger Crushed By Ingsoc, always interesting and thoughtful and usually provocative and quirky

When I was a very small child, my view of the world bore no relation to reality.

England was somewhere in the middle, with Scotland and Ireland attached to it, everything else was overseas. I knew that countries were either ‘West’ or ‘East’ and to me Western ones were like us, Eastern ones were different.

Beyond a little stretch of sea were France, Holland, Spain and the other countries of western Europe. Somewhere beyond them were Russia and other strange countries, like Albania, Transylvania, Yugoslavia, Ruritania, etc.

Then beyond a bigger sea were America, Australia and Japan.

On the other side, to the East, lay China, India and Africa.

When I looked at a globe, years later, I was surprised to see where Australia really lay.

Because it is a little strange, when we think of it.

Many has been the time I have been channelling surfing and thought ‘This film looks all right. Looks like a British film as well.’It’s only been gradually that I’ve realised that these are Australian accents, not Cockney accents I’m hearing, and the city is Melbourne or Sydney, not London. The culture I see is even more like ours in the UK, then the US is even, and it still remains true that America always seems less like a foreign land than say, France.

Partly this is language, but also culture.

Even our slang is almost the same.

And yet geographically, you can’t get much further away.

Part of the reason why the British are such bad Europeans is that there are so many things which you can say about almost every continental country that bind them culturally, but are not true for the British Isles. The UK and Ireland stand out as a different culture with different values and outlooks. Australia and New Zealand, likewise do not fit culturally with their neighbours. We all know why this is, but it does raise issues.

Australia, like the Americas is a stolen continent in origin. Australia, like The USA, exists today, in the form it does, because of a series of actions we would condemn if they happened now.

But what can we do about it? None of this can be laid at the door of current Australians or current Americans, any more than the Europeans alive today can be held responsible for slavery. England is stolen too, long ago, by invading Saxons.

It is a pernicious tendency to judge the living for the actions of the dead. I think this is an issue which affects Australia’s psyche more than it does the US, because it’s foundation is so much more recent. Australia’s sense of being Australian is something that has really only flourished with the World Wars and it is still growing. But this battle of conscience seems to run deep.

The problem with following this guilt trip about Australia’s origins, is that if you follow it’s logic only the aboriginal inhabitants can really call themselves Australian, and most of it’s people are in reality Brits who live on the other side of the globe.

But that’s very damaging for Australia’s sense of identity. Too much soul searching can be a bad thing and Australia needs to move out from between the two extremes of feeling guilty how it was born and clinging to that origin.

Australia is about the people who make it up today and it doesn’t matter how they got there.

Australia has a lot to be proud of in the way it has taken it’s place on the world stage in it’s own right. Australia has assumed leadership in it’s part of the globe and has an important role to play in the future of the world.
And be doing that, by doing it more confidently every day, it shows the world what being Australian means.

Thanks Crushed.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Nyepi Balinese New Year A Day of Silence

The Balinese New Year Nyepi is celebrated by a day of silence and contemplative activities. Mobile phones are turned off and lights are turned out and the borders to the island are closed, with a few exceptions. What a good idea. We spend so much of our lives in a chaotic rush, quiet family time would be highly appreciated.

Thanks Ubud News

Legal System Gone Mad

This kind of stuff is insane. When I lived there, Washington DC had the highest percentage of lawyers anywhere in the world. I doubt that it has changed. This reflects a kind of madness that is hard to comprehend.

The defence lawyer describes it as a "terrible example of American litigiousness". The Korean immigrant family who run the dry cleaners are having to shell out two years of income just to defend themselves.

Update: He lost.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Delusional Tony Bags Blogs

Ever understated, Tom Paine, doesn't much like Tony Blair. Virtual bashing is not enough for him. Watch out Tom or you will get an ASBO or be sent to Guantanamo.

It seems our Tony felt he would get a better hearing in the blogosphere than the media.


Now go and become a Religious Zealot, Political Pandering, Money Grabbing Former Politician.

Go On

Jiminy Cricket - Disney punts on Cricket

Disney is buying into cricket. Perhaps we will see Jiminy bringing out the drinks.

Lights Camera Action.

Out first ball and it will be a Donald Duck.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Dubya Love In

Where's Dubya and where did that danged watch go?

If things go pear shaped for George, he can always come and live here.

Queen Dubya Hoxa II would be able to use his cult of personality to establish himself. He can then take on the mantle of Enver Hoxa and live happily ever after, crown jewels and all.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Moderately Famous Hotel Heiress Herpes Theory

According to Tovarisch Wills' sleuth contacts, that unmentionable one may have a nasty medical condition that allowed her to plead for leniency. His photo documentary of the most important news story so far this century is hilarious and the link, even funnier.

Based upon the very large number of less than complimentary comments on the linked blog, there appears to be an incredible number of people who are very satisfied by the events that transpired. It is interesting to me that people could despise somebody they hardly know, so much.

Her Hiltonness, herself, appears to be mighty unhappy. Over three weeks to her next fix. Mommy M0mmy I want my Mommy!


Breaking News: Apparently it was a Fake Get Out of Jail Free Card.


Saturday, June 09, 2007

Luck of the Irish

Boy am I lucky. To Be Sure To be Sure....

It's funny, I just don't remember sending that email.


The Irish Lottery
P O Box 1010
11 G Lower Dorset Street,
Dublin 1, Ireland
(Customer Services)
Ref: UK/9420X2/68
Batch: 074/05/ZY369

Dear winner,

This mail is to bring to your notice that your email emerged as one of
our winning email address in our just concluded Irish Lottery Board
sweepstakes programme that made you automatically a winner of the sum
of £750,000.00(GBP)
Please note that your lucky winning number falls within our European
booklet representative office in Europe as indicated in your coupon.
In view of this, your £750,000.00(GBP) will be released to you by
any of our payment offices in Europe.
Our European agent will immediately commence the process to facilitate
the release of your funds as soon as you contact him or her.For
security reasons, you are advised to keep your winning information
confidential till your claim is processed and your money remitted to
you in whatever manner you deem fit to claim your prize.
This is part of our precautionary measure to avoid double claiming and
unwarranted abuse of this program. Please be warned!!!
To file for your claim, please contact our Claims Agent and fill the
payment processing form and send it to our claims agent immediately.

Name Of Claims Agent: Mr. Scorry Cole
Email address : irish_contact_agent07@yahoo.co.uk

1.FULL NAMES:________________________
5.MARITAL STATUS:___________________
7.E-MAIL ADDRESS:_____________________________
8.TELEPHONE NUMBER:_____________________
10.AMOUNT WON:___________________________________
11. COUNTRY________________________________

Yours faithfully,
Sir Kolyn Perkins.
Online coordinator for THE IRISH LOTTERY
Sweepstakes International Program.

Thanks to Snoskred, in comments and the very useful scamomatic, I can confirm the bleeding obvious.

Please carefully review the following Scam-O-Matic results:
  • This email looks like a fake lottery scam. Consider the following facts about real lotteries:
    1. They do not notify winners by email.
    2. You can not win without first buying a lottery ticket.
    3. They do not randomly select email addresses to award prizes to.
    4. They do not use free email accounts (Yahoo, Hotmail, etc) to communicate with you.
    5. They do not tell you to call a mobile phone number.
    6. They do not tell you to keep your winnings secret.
    7. They will never ask a winner to pay any fees to receive a prize!
    Any "courier service", "lawyer" or "bank" that a fake "lottery" may have introduced you to is also fake!
  • The following phrases should put you on alert:
    • "claims agent":
      real lotteries do not use a "claim agent" / "fiduciary agent"
  • This email lists mobile phone numbers. Use of such numbers is typical for scams because they allow criminals to conceal their true location. They can receive calls in an Internet cafe from where they send you emails, while pretending to be in some office.
    • +447035729153 (UK, redirects to a mobile phone in another country)
  • This email lists free webmail addresses. Besides personal use for legitimate purposes, use of such addresses is also typical for scams. NOTE: Lotteries, banks, government agencies and any but the smallest of companies do not normally use such addresses. Criminals use them to anonymously send and receive email at Internet cafes.
    • irish_contact_agent07@yahoo.co.uk (Yahoo, United Kingdom; can be used from anywhere worldwide)

Thank you for using Scam-O-Matic. If you found the results from this check useful then please mention www.scamomatic.com to your friends, family and co-workers, so they can also use it to check out and report suspicious emails that may have been sent to them by criminals.

Once you have received any scam emails, it means the scammers know your email address. You will probably receive further scam emails. Therefore we recommend that you bookmark www.scamomatic.com (Ctrl+D) in your web browser for when you may need it again.

Organic and/or Environmentally Friendly Food

The UK Soil Association, honorary organic arbiters, are looking at whether foods grown abroad can be certified as organic.

UK supermarkets import over 30 percent of organic foods. The concern is that somehow the impact of air transport dilutes the organic branding, because of the impact of on global warming.

I think the two issues have to be separated. Clearly some people want to understand the chemical inputs required to produce the food. How do you balance that up against out of season unavailability and the cost of food. Others may want to buy local. Are they willing to forego or pay extra to have it available. Is it fair to get on the high horse on this one by driving to the local farmers market to buy organic foods in your Toorak Tractor?

The other issue, which I think that my kids would agree with, is who needs oranic brocolli and brussel sprouts all year around. Part of the attraction of these kinds of foods is that you don't have to eat them all year round.

I notice that they plan to consult with the supply chain. How about chatting with consumers?

David Reevely analyses the issues, along with a suggestion for modified colour coded labelling.

Here in South Australia, there is a noticeable organic component to the vegetable and fruit market. Most of it is grown locally, often on a small scale, but with a significant price premium. The major imports seem to be oranges and other fruits at out of season times. The current dry conditions are increasingly a challenge for this industry and have impacted pricing dramatically.

Supermarkets here label meat and fish products with the location of origin. It is interesting how many of the fish products are flown in. Smoked fish from South Africa and white fish from Vietnam. There is certainly potential to produce exactly the same product here in South Australia, so the primary factor must be price. We do have a huge tuna processing operation at Port Lincoln, much of which is exported to Japan and now the US.

I don't notice this so much with vegetables, suggesting that most of it is home grown and consequently environmentally friendly.

On the subject of farming, Theo reminds us that most food actually comes from farms, not the supermarket. Duh! I had no idea.

Look Who Came For Tea

A 40,000 ton bulk tanker filled with coal, grounded in wild weather near Newcastle, NSW.

The Captain obviously chose the wrong time to leave town.

If this was in other parts of the world, the locals would probably have emptied the hold by now.

I wonder if they will get a parking ticket?

Pure as the Driven Snow

Mount Hotham, a Victorian ski resort (yes there are ski resorts in Australia) is set to create a worlds first with the use of recycled wastewater in artificial snow.

Apparently if it is good enough to spray on vegetables, then it is good enough for face plants.

And watch out for that yellow snow.

This weekend is the start of the season, which looks to be much better than last year, which was a complete dud.

I am a bit of a ski snob, having learned to ski in Aviemore, when we skied on wooden skis and had to lace up our own boots, which hurt all day and we froze our balls off. After having spent many miserable days at Glenshee and The Lecht, battling gales, white outs, rocks and ice, I was lucky to take my basic skiing technique to America with me. I have been lucky enough to spend many a day at Colorado, Utah and California resorts. After my Scottish experience and having skied at some of the best resorts it is hard to get too enthusiastic about Australian skiing, which is unpredictable, crowded and expensive.

I plan to just stick to watering my vegetables.

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Essence of Scottishness

As the Scottish Nation celebrates a glorious victory in the Faroe Islands, keeping the pressure on Italy and France in Euro 2008 Qualifications, Callum Carr, the most famous blogger originally from Dunfermline, has put down his well thought out ideas on Scottish identity and independence.

I feel British but this is a poor second to my Scottishness. I don’t feel European, ever. I know I am officially a European but the concept of Europe as an entity of which I am a citizen means nothing to me.

Therefore, my Scottishness is undefinable – it just is – and, similarly, my Britishness just is.

I am quite clear: I am Scottish first and then British is a distant second. In the weeks since I wrote the above piece I make one significant addition: I am Scottish, I feel Scottish, I only feel Scottish but I am British because I know logically that I am British. I do not feel British in the way that I feel Scottish. In fact, I do not feel British.

As I read it I kept thinking that is pretty much how I feel, although I am a little bit more sympathetic to the idea of being British.

Having lived around the world a bit, this cultural identity is important. Although I lived in the US for over 10 years, I never felt very American. I certainly never felt very Nepali or Philippino when I lived there and I certainly never felt at all Singaporean when I lived there. Australia on the other hand, I can get my mind around being Australian. Scottish Australian perhaps. Always Scottish.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Every Parents Nightmare

Justin highlights every parents nightmare, where your kids dob in all your bad behaviour.

"Daddy was drunk three times last week. He didn't do the dishes on Wednesday and my dinner was cold last night. Mummy made me have a bath three times and I had to feed the dog and clean the rabbit hutch, in order to get pocket money"

You can just imagine the kinds of things a ten year old might say.

Anonymously, of course, according to those who should know. How much information does the government need to know. I can just imagine the development of Parent Behaviour Courts, where parents have to defend their parenting in front of a jury of children.

It is bad enough going to teacher parent interviews, like we did last week, to get into trouble for bringing your kids to school late and why did your son draw a pig with blood coming out of his mouth and make inappropriate jokes in class?

Big Brother really is starting to build up a big head of steam all over the UK. Generally these sorts of trends have some impact in Australia. No thank you Pomiticians! Stop spying into peoples lives. Leave us alone.

This message has been brought to you by the Parents Rights League. No children were harmed in the making of this blog post.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Aussie Lingua Franca 101

Essential Insights into the Aussie Vernacular. Maaaaate!

Berlitz for Wannabee Aussies. Learn to josh and abuse in the pub Aussie style.

Gone But Not Forgotten

It's a B1 from him and a B2 from him.

Goodbye Third Carnival of Australia. It's been nice hosting you.

Hello Fourth Carnival of Australia.

Now Go and Visit Megan, Matey's.

Loony lame, 'lympic logo epilepsy link

As always, Mr Eugenides is on top of the issues of the day in the UK.

He even provides free medical advice.

We can blame Flash for this.

You can design your own logo and submit it here.

Big Woopy Doo Dah

Getting into the act is The Englishman taking a lead from the ever humorous Theo Spark, who has a poll on how long the logo will last.

What a load of dogs bollocks. Honestly, you couldn't make it up. It is, at least very amusing. Not too hot for the branding campaign however.

And ultimately, it is all about the money.

Defending Public Education

Helen at Road to Surfdom does an excellent job analysing some of the blatently political high jinks that drive the current Australian Government's education funding. Although children's education is predominantly the responsibility of the states, almost seventy percent of national funding goes to the private sector. Some of the richest schools and wealthy parochial institutions are being subsidised heavily by public money.

Based upon my own experience, public schools are being starved of resources, infrastructure spending is being curtailed and morale within the teaching profession is low.

In Victoria, private schools have seen a massive increase in federal funding, which was pushed politically as a means of increasing access to these schools by aspirational families. In reality as funding has gone up by up to ten times as much as funding for public schools, fees continue to rise. It is like funding a voracious animal.

Here in South Australia, the new state budget proposes to pass on costs of workers compensation to individual schools without an increase in budget. For our little primary school, this will reduce the schools budget by over $20,000 and directly impact some of the value added teaching services. We will be going to State Parliament next week to protest.

It just doesn't seem to stack up with the Australian tradition of a fair go.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Laughing Cows (Not too cheesy)

Warning Politically Incorrect - So Shoot Me

Economic Models explained with Cows - 2007 Update

You have 2 cows.
You give one to your neighbour.

You have 2 cows.
The State takes both and gives you some milk.

You have 2 cows.
The State takes both and sells you some milk.

You have 2 cows.
The State takes both and shoots you.

You have 2 cows.
The State takes both, shoots one, milks the other, and then throws the
milk away...

You have two cows.
You sell one and buy a bull.
Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows.
You sell them and retire on the income.

You have two giraffes.
The government requires you to take harmonica lessons

You have two cows. Both are carbon neutral.
You capture the flatulence from one cow and power local towns through
a heat exchanger.
The emissions from the other are captured and the carbon sequestered underground.

You have two cows.
You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows.
Later, you hire a consultant to analyze why the cow has dropped dead.

You have two cows.
You sell shares in the cows at inflated prices to listed subsidiaries
You then list these cow shares on the secondary cattle market and
the profits from the transaction are given to the clever CEO as a bonus.

You have two cows.
You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of
credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a
debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all
four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows. The milk rights of
the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island
Company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who sells the rights
to all seven cows back to your listed company. The annual report says
the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more. You sell one
cow to buy a new president of the United States, leaving you with nine
cows. No balance sheet provided with the release. The public then buys
your bull.

You have two cows.
You shred them.

You have two cows.
You go on strike, organise a riot, and block the roads, because you want
three cows.

You have two cows.
You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and
produce twenty times the milk. You then create a clever cow cartoon
image called 'Cowkimon' and market it worldwide.

You have two cows.
You re-engineer them so they live for 100 years, eat once a month, and
milk themselves.

You have two cows, but you don't know where they are.
You decide to have lunch.

You have two cows.
You count them and learn you have five cows.
You count them again and learn you have 42 cows.
You count them again and learn you have 2 cows.
You stop counting cows and open another bottle of vodka.

You have 5000 cows. None of them belong to you.
You charge the owners for storing them.

You have two cows.
You have 300 people milking them.
You claim that you have full employment, and high bovine productivity.
You arrest the newsman who reported the real situation.

You have two cows.
You worship them.

You have two cows.
Both are mad.

Everyone thinks you have lots of cows.
You tell them that you have none.
No-one believes you, so they bomb the **** out of you and invade your
country. You still have no cows, but at least now you are part of a

You have two cows.
The one on the left looks very attractive.
The other has already run off.

You have two cows.
Business seems pretty good.
You close the office and go for a few beers to celebrate.

You have twa auld coos.
One is your wife and the other is your mother in law.
Ye gan doon tae the pub to get awa' fae it all.

No cows were harmed in the development of this post.
The owner of this blog would like to apologise to any cows who have been offended by this post.
Just think how much respect you would have if you could fly.
They would have to make very large umbrellas and windscreen wipers.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Private Jets and Big Egos for Climate Change

The series of rock concerts, where the conspicuous consumers of the world can have a good time and save the world are a bit suspect. The concerts, to be held around the globe, to bring awareness (we need more awareness?) to the dangers of climate change look like they will more likely promote conspicuous consumption, drug use and increase carbon emissions. Of course these emissions are being offset by product placement of low emission cars and the like.

The plan to turn off the lights, similar to the rather silly stunt in Sydney has been canned because it may melt down the power grid. As the gentleman from the electricity company said, we are in favour of promoting long term energy conservation, not publicity stunts.

Bring on the middle aged millionaire musicians, have a good time, buy more of their recordings, but don't expect the concerts to change much. That is up to you and me (and the politicians).