Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve, another year come and gone and they seem to go faster and faster the older you get. Since lots of you will be downing a few bottles of Liquid Courage this evening and then hitting the Karaoke stages, I thought I'd better provide you with the full lyrics to Auld Lang Syne:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne.
And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp ! And surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne.
We twa hae run about the braes, and pou’d the gowans fine ;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit, sin’ auld lang syne.
We twa hae paidl’d in the burn, frae morning sun till dine ;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d sin’ auld lang syne.
And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere! And gies a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak a right gude-willie-waught, for auld lang syne.

And if you can't understand any of that, don't worry, no-one else can understand you either when you start singing up on the Karaoke Stage, so just sing anything that comes out. Well, words that come out, anyway! No crying weakly for Ralph or Hewey, please!

What the hell does the song actually mean? (Wikipedia)
Auld Lang Syne in WAV format

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Microsoft Never Fails… to Fail

Just 4 weeks after it's release, security flaws have been discovered in Windows Vista. The Big M spent 5+ years developing it, and released it 2 years(!) late. In fact, according to an article in The Australian newspaper, it's the first major upgrade since Windows 95, 11 whole years ago! And what do they have to say about the problem? "Well, sure it's there, but there aren't any nasty programs taking advantage of it… yet… Oh, and Explorer has a few security holes in it as well, sorry about that". Still, Mike Reavey, operations manager at Microsoft's Security Response Centre, isn't worried… "Windows Vista is our most secure platform to date." Well, since Windows has some 114,000 viruses so far, versus the Mac platform's… er… has anyone found any yet?… I wouldn't be too proud of that, Mike.

I use both platforms, so let me say it straight from a real-world side-by-side user: Get a life and get a Mac. Once you've gone Mac you'll never go back. Well, hardly ever anyway.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

In the Year 2525…

In the year 3535, ain't gonna need to tell the truth, tell no lies.
Everything you think, do and say is in the pill you took today.
In the year 4545, ain't gonna need your teeth, won't need your eyes.
You won't find a thing to chew, nobody's gonna look at you.
In the year 5555, your arms hanging limp at your sides.
Your legs got nothing to do, some machine doing that for you.
In the year 6565, ain't gonna need no husband, won't need no wife.
You'll pick your son, pick your daughter too, from the bottom of a long glass tube.
In the year 7510, if God's a-comin, he oughta make it by then.
Maybe he'll look around himself and say, "Guess it's time for the judgment day".
In the year 8510, God is gonna shake his mighty head.
He'll either say, "I'm pleased where man has been", or tear it down and start again.
In the year 9595, I'm kinda wonderin if man is gonna be alive.
He's taken everything this old Earth can give, and he ain't put back nothing.

Now it's been ten thousand years, man has cried a billion tears.
For what he never knew, now man's reign is through.
But through eternal night, the twinkling of starlight.
So very far away, maybe it's only yesterday.

Zager and Evans In The Year 2525


We are a rock revolving around a golden sun
We are a billion children rolled into one
So when I hear about the hole in the sky
Saltwater wells in my eyes

We climb the highest mountain, we'll make the desert bloom
Were so ingenious we can walk on the moon
But when I hear of how the forests have died
Saltwater wells in my eyes

We light the deepest ocean, send photographs of Mars
Were so enchanted by how clever we are
Why should one baby feel so hungry she cries
Saltwater wells in my eyes

We are a rock revolving around a golden sun
We are a billion children rolled into one
What will I think of me the day that I die
Saltwater wells in my eyes

Julian Lennon

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Evil Santa's Site

Admit it - like me, you always thought the "Nice Old Do-Good Man in a Red Suit" cover-story was a bit suspect, and Santa was actually up to no good at all! Check out the website at Letters from Bad Santa for form letters, unusual gifts, etc. And on a more serious note, don't over-eat, don't over-argue and don't whatever you do drink and drive. See you again after the X-bomb fallout settles!

Or for something a bit more family-friendly, take the kids to NORAD Tracks Santa so they can see how amazingly technologically advanced the good-ol' US of A is, and how even though they're pretending to track good old Santa, those same technologies are what makes them God's Own Nation! Yes, combining myth, religious dogma, and killing machines in a form kids can relate to and learn to love - now that's the real Christmas spirit.

And for all us poor bloggers, stuck "out there" in cyberspace, what would Christmas be without a reply from Santa to the letter we sent him a few weeks ago?

Friday, December 15, 2006

A Million Years in One Afternoon

With the hype-up to Christmas in full swing, I've posted a few religious-oriented entries in the last week or two, so I'll leave the subject alone for a bit now with this parting shot. Anyone who still believes that the world is billions of years old (or perhaps its trillions or millions now, the figures in popular science journals change every 3 or 4 years), I would suggest a visit to Now I know what you're thinking, but the fact is that if you truly believe in science, then that includes the belief that any rational theorum which explains things more accurately than your current model, is a more scientific approach. For me, Creation explains what I see in the world a lot more accurately than Evolution. Consider this example, from creationwiki:

Perhaps the most remarkable catastrophic events to have occurred at Mt St Helens was the rapid erosion that was accomplished by mudflows, landslides, and waves of water. On March 19, 1982 a small eruption melted the snow that had accumulated in the crater over the winter, and a resulting hot mud flow carved a system of canyons up to 140 feet deep and 17 miles long in a single day. The deepest of the canyons has affectionately been called the little Grand Canyon of the Toutle River, and is 1/40th the size of its namesake. The small creek that now flows through the bottom would appear to have carved this canyon over a great length of time, but this unique event has demonstrated that rapid catastrophic processes were instead responsible. The Grand Canyon in Arizona has also been claimed for some time to have been carved gradually by the Colorado River, but it is now becoming clear this American icon is as well the result of catastrophic erosion.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Depressed Yet?

In case you missed this story in the News, a US Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended Wednesday that warnings on anti-depressants be changed. It seems that anti-depressants cause an increased risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors in children and adolescents, and the debate is whether that extends to young adults or older patients as well, and whether the warning labels should be changed to reflect the fact. Now forgive me for exclaiming "WTF!?", but surely anti-depressants are to stop this kind of thought/behaviour pattern? I can just picture a man walking into the Doctor and saying "I'm so depressed, Doc, I think I want to kill myself", and the Doctor says, "Here, take these pills, then you'll be sure!"

It shouldn't come as any surprise, though. Scan through old newspapers sometime and find any article that says something is good for you, then scan ahead a year of two and find the corresponding "No it isn't" article. We've been told to eat more chocolate, don't eat chocolate, drink more tea and coffee, drink less tea and coffee, no red meat, lots of red meat, minimal dairy, as much dairy as you can, more sugar, less sugar, no sugar, more sugar, take an aspirin every day for your heart's sake, don't take aspirin ever. What a world.

The only thing you can discern for sure out of the whole thing is that anybody claiming to be an expert is best not listened to, and the best way to live life is to use your own common sense. As my Dad used to say, "The whole world is mad except me and thee, and I'm not so sure about thee."

FDA Panels Urges Changes to Antidepressant Labeling

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

What Did Jesus Really Look Like?

Which of the images above is the real Jesus? Well, most people would say number 4, or perhaps 1 or 5. And they'd be wrong. In fact, number 6 is probably the most accurate picture of Jesus, although even that's just guesswork. The simple fact is that we've all been conditioned by Hollywood and Sunday School to accept an image of Jesus as tall, lean, with flowing blonde hair, fair skin and light-coloured eyes, but that doesn't fit with any of the evidence.

We only have two hints from the Bible about his looks, and both are fairly uncomplimentary. Isaiah says that he has "no comeliness" and that "there is no beauty that we should desire him". And that His face was "marred more than any other man". And in the 3rd century, Tertullian said that Jesus' body "did not reach even to human beauty, to say nothing of heavenly glory".

Apart from these direct references to his appearance, a lot can be assumed from other evidence. First, Jesus looked ordinary - when a mob was out to get Him, He hid from them simply by melting into the crowd. And at His betrayal, Judas had to point Him out to the soldiers, even though there were only 12 people in the garden, with a pre-arranged signal. These incidents show us that Jesus looked like any other Jew of His day. Archeological evidence shows the average semetic male of the era was around 5'1" and 110 pounds. Since Jesus worked outdoors as a carpenter until He was about 30 years old, it's reasonable to assume He was more muscular and physically fit than our portraits suggest, although He did a lot of walking when He began His ministry, so it's fair to assume He would have become leaner.

How did Jesus wear His hair? Well, the apostle Paul saw Jesus and knew exactly what He looked like. In the time of Christ most men wore short hair, and in 1 Corinthians Paul wrote, "Doesn't even nature itself teach you, that if a man have long hair, it is shameful?" Would Paul have made such a statement if Jesus had long hair?

The simple fact is, although there were no pictures of the real Jesus, or accurate descriptions, that hasn't stopped people through the ages inventing them. From the static yet profound icons of Eastern Orthodoxy to the punishing bruiser of Michelangelo's "Last Judgment", Jesus served the needs of the day. Slave-era blacks painted an African Jesus, Jesus took on almond eyes in Asia and blonde hair in Scandinavia. The consistent trend has been to make him more human, to make a Jesus that His followers could easily identify with. Caravaggio did it for Italians in the 17th century with a suffering, peasant Jesus, and the filmmaker Kevin Smith reflected the modern "Jesus is my best friend" mentality by introducing a smiling "Buddy Christ" in his movie "Dogma."

Ultimately, then, the answer to the question, "What did Jesus really look like?" is: Whatever you want Him to.

Further Reading

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Safe & Healthy Workplace

These days every organisation seems to have a Political-Correctness-Police approved mission statement, most of which are simply copied and pasted from someone else's, all the way back to the original model statement which originated in some disabled vegan lesbian aboriginal's poetry book. Take, for example, this excerpt from the Tasmania Fire Service website, and let's stop for a moment to think on what it really means, and if the principles stated really would provide for a better workplace.

The TFS works hard to have a safe work place where people are able to fulfil their potential and contribute to the achievement of our goals. We want a workforce where diversity in all areas is valued, particularly in the areas of gender and ethnicity. It is our view that the way we deliver our services will be improved if we have people from a wide range of backgrounds and social groups working in our organisation.

Fighting fires isn't a safe activity, by its very nature, so that part is just drivel. It's nice to give humans the opportunity to reach their potential, find Nirvana, and be one with the universe, but in most cases, fulfilling your potential means stopping someone else from reaching theirs. It's on this very point that most Political Correctness falls down - the simple fact that giving a Right to one person automatically implies you are taking it away from everyone else. And the chances that what I need to do, to fulfill my own personal potential, will coincide with the goals of the Tasmania Fire Service are very remote indeed. Having a job is all about giving up personal freedom in exchange for the pay cheque, no matter what the PC Police say.

As for a workplace where diversity is valued, nothing could be further from desirable for any organisation, which needs all its staff to work toward it's goal with one mind, one purpose, and one set of actions - the complete opposite of diversity, in fact. And although there are certainly businesses where it might be an advantage to have a German, for example, on staff, they are a small percentage. In most businesses it doesn't make one iota of difference if your staff are of varied ethnic backgrounds, or a mix of male and female, yet the TFS, like so many other PC-correct groups, says it wants this, even needs it, so that it's "delivery of services" will be improved by the most diversity it can squeeze in.

The sad thing about all this, is that everyone knows statements like the above are just so much legally-required garbage, from the people who draft them to the people in the government who tick off the box that says the organisation's mission statement is acceptable. And day-to-day, despite the stated desires for ethnic variety, culturally sensitivity, male and female interaction and spiritual closeness, people are still being employed based solely on their ability to do the job they were hired for. Shame, shame, shame.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The True Origin of Christmas

There are a lot of Christians running around these days chanting "Put Christ back into Christmas". Well, I am a Christian, but I've got some bad news for you guys. Christ was never a part of Christmas in the first place!

The Shepherds and the Wise Men
Jesus wasn't born on December 25th or anywhere near it. Shepherds don't sleep out in the fields watching their flocks by night in the middle of the Middle East winter, so the best guess for Christ's birth is somewhere in September, but the date isn't recorded. A lot of people get confused because they've heard the Wise Men may have taken years to get there, but the shepherds were on the scene pretty much straight away. The Wise Men were almost certainly Astronomers from China or Persia. They came from the East, and took up to 3 years to get there, because Herod ordered all children under 3 killed. There weren't 3 of them, either, this is a common assumption based on the fact that 3 different types of gift were given. Considering the length of the journey and their importance, there may have been a caravan of hundreds of people in their retinue.

December 25th
December 25th was the Roman Festival of Saturnalia, where lawlessness, intoxication, debauchery, rape and human sacrifice reigned, all without punishment. Human-shaped biscuits were eaten, and singing naked in the streets was common (the precursor to modern carol singing). In the 4th century, the Catholic Church, hoping to convert the heathen, adopted the Festival by promising they could continue to celebrate it after conversion, and in 1466 Pope Paul II revived many of the old customs to persecute Jews.

Christmas Trees and Mistletoe
Worshippers of the pagan Asheira cult worshipped trees in the forest and brought them into their homes to decorate. Their practices also were adopted by the Church, giving us the modern Christmas tree. In Norse mythology, Hoder killed Balder while fighting for the female Nanna, using a mistletoe-poisoned arrow. Druid rituals used mistletoe to poison their human sacrifices. The custom of kissing under the mistletoe is a mixing of the sexual nature of the Saturnalia Festival and Druidic sacrifice.

In pre-Christian Rome, the Emperors forced citizens to bring them offerings and gifts during Saturnalia. The Catholic Church simply invented Saint Nicholas and adopted the gift-giving practice.

Saint Nicholas and Santa Claus
Nicholas was Bishop of Myra around 300, and was named a saint in the 19th century. In 1087 a cult worshipping him developed, and in Turkey he supplanted a female deity called The Grandmother in the role of giving gifts to children. The Nicholas cult spread north and was adopted by German and Celtic pagans. These groups worshipped many gods but their leader was Woden, father of Thor, who had a long white beard and rode a horse through the sky every August. The legends of Saint Nicholas and Woden merged, and his schedule was changed to December 6th, Nick's birthday. In an attempt to convert pagans in Northern Europe, the Catholic Church adopted the Nicholas cult and moved the date to December 25th. In 1809 novelist Washington Irving wrote a satire of Dutch culture which referred to Saint Nicholas using his Dutch name, Santa Claus.

Santa Becomes Famous
In 1822, Professor Dr Clement Moore published a poem, "The Night Before Christmas", based on the character of Saint Nicholas after reading Irving's book. The modern image of Santa is largely the work of illustrator Thomas Nast, who from 1862 to 1886 drew more than 2,200 cartoon images of Santa for Harper's Weekly. Nast also invented the North Pole address, the workshop filled with elves, and the list of good and bad children. The only thing missing was Santa's red outfit, and for that we can thank the Coca Cola company, who contracted Haddon Sundblom to create an advertisement featuring Santa drinking Coke - and insisted that his suit be Coca-Cola red.

Disastrous News!

Bushfires burned out of control on the island state of Tasmania yesterday, with up to 600,000 people killed and many others missing from their homes. The devastation was total in some areas as entire populations lost their homes. Experts say most of these victims will never build a house again. Thick black smoke turned day into night in various locations, and firefighters worked desperately to save anyone they could, despite being inches from deadly fires themselves. Possibly 4,000 homes were destroyed in Hobart alone, and police were on the lookout for looters throughout the night. One witness, a World War 2 veteran, described the scene at his former home as "the worst thing he'd ever seen in his life."

Bushfires wiped out the entire state in 1967, at least according to a Time Magazine article. I lost all faith in that magazine when I found an old issue as a teenager, and read how devastated the entire island was in 1967, how Tasmanian industry was wiped out and would never recover, and how bare the island now was. But in fact, horrific though the 60's bushfires were, they only covered an area of 2,642 sq km, or about 3% of the state. And it's with this paragon of reporting style as my model that I wrote for you the above account of what the bushfires did in Tasmania yesterday. The amazing thing about my story above is… every word is true. But not necessarily in the way you think.

Some parts of the bushfires yesterday weren't being controlled, while firemen worked on other parts of the fire instead. No people were killed - zero is certainly in the range of numbers up to 600,000. Across the state, people were missing from home because they were at work, school, etc as normal. Where the fires had burned down trees, the devastation was total, and the animal populations which lived in those trees lost their homes. They will never rebuild, because animals don't build houses. At the base of any of those fires, a few inches from the ground, smoke made it very dark, and also inside trees, etc. Firefighters always work to save whoever they can in any fire situation. Fire is deadly if you're caught in it, and every firefighter is somewhere within a million inches of a fire. No homes were destroyed in Hobart, though there is always a possibility that could happen. And police keep a watch out for burglars, looters, etc 24/7 every day of the year, fires or not. The World War 2 veteran, who never went overseas and served in a recruiting office in Melbourne for the whole war, went for a drive to where his home used to be 30 years ago, it had nothing to do with the fires, he just sold it back then. When he got there he saw two dogs engaging in… well, anyway, he said it was the worst thing he'd seen in his life.

And there you have it, a prime example of how the News can be true and untrue at the same time. Thanks, Time Magazine, for teaching me this important skill, and keep up the crappy work.

The 1967 Tasmanian Bushfires
Bushfires in General

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Smoke if You've Got 'Em

I just thought a second blog entry for the day might be appropriate, since I'm pretty much shut inside for the day. The sky for 360° around is filled with smoke from the 22 separate bushfires currently burning around Tasmania, making the day fairly dark and ominous. As a sort of false evening approaches, the sky can be seen glowing and flickering here and there where some of the fires are. Earlier today we heard repeated, regular blasts of a fog-horn, which I've never heard before in my whole life, from the Port of Devonport, some 10 km away, presumably guiding the Spirit of Tasmania, or smaller vessels without satellite navigation, into port. Checking the Tasmania Fire Service's website, I found something else I've never seen before in my life - an Asthmatics Warning. That's right, they're officially telling people to stay inside, where the air is better. The feeling in my chest (a sort of magical weather bureau) tells me we're in for a dramatic downward change in weather over the next few days. The weather widget says its 30°C today (terribly hot to us Tasmanians, we consider 18° a hot day) with the next 3 days going down to 16°, 15° and 18°, so I guess my chest is correct. I bet those firefighters out there are looking forward to it even more than the rest of us!

Eddie's Etymology Lesson

FORMER TV star Eddie McGuire is so unhappy he's considering quitting as Channel 9 chief executive. He's on record as saying he wants to "bone" TV personality Jessica Rowe, but it's not what you think - "bone" is his term for dismissing someone, according to Eddie. That's really convenient, because no-one I have ever met uses the term for sacking someone from their job. Nor anyone you've ever met, either, I'll bet. The slang term "bone" means to have sex with, and Eddie's attempts to pretend that he personally has a different meaning are just so much bullshit. Oh, please don't get offended at that expression - my personal meaning for the term "bullshit" is "a promise to put money in the collection plate next Sunday".

Assigning a personal meaning to the term "bone" avoids a great many problems as far as Channel 9, and Eddie, are concerned. After all, in his capacity as chief executive, he has every right to talk about sacking someone, whereas the alternative - the meaning everyone else in the world assigns to the term - would make him guilty of sexual harassment and would cost 9 and Eddie a hell of a lot of money in court.

Years ago, the policy of Education Department's in Australia was that if a child spelled a word wrong three times, then the teachers shouldn't correct him or her, because it was obviously "the right spelling, for that child". This is taking political correctness and citizen's rights to a ridiculous extreme. Just imagine if I smash windows as I walk down the street, and when the police stop me, I point out that I smashed more than 3, therefore it is correct and legal behaviour, for me.

Eddie is a bonehead, and as far as I'm concerned, he can bend over and bone himself. And I don't mean give himself the sack.

News Article

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Ancient Empires Lux

Head on over to SillySoft and check out the new offering, Ancient Empires Lux. Unlike the real Lux, which has a map editor built in, this is a standalone bunch of campaigns, more like Mark Bauer's American History Lux, but there are enough different civilizations, and skill levels, and easy or hard starting positions, that you'll be quite some time defeating everything the game has to offer. And at only $20 US, it's priced right where good games should be. Free downloads are available, and it works on any platform, so check it out.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Santa's Force

You'd better watch out, you'd better not cry,
You'd better lock up, I'm telling you why…
Santa's Force is coming to town.

He sneaks in when you're sleeping.
He brings a sack with him.
Everyone thinks he's bringing gifts,
But he's really stealing them!

You shouldn't go up to the North Pole.
Santa's got a warehouse there you know,
Where he stores the loot that he steals.

The DEA is raiding,
The CIA are there.
The FBI are standing around,
And pretending they really care.

You'd better arm up to your back teeth,
Or all you'll be getting is a brand new wreath.
Santa's Force is coming to town.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Santa's Not Coming

There is only one species of reindeer and it definitely cannot fly! But there are perhaps several hundred thousand species of living organisms yet to be classified, and while most of these are insects and micro-organisms, this does not completely rule out flying reindeer which only Santa has ever seen.

There are 2 billion children (persons under 18) in the world. But since Santa doesn't appear to handle the Shinto, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Animist, and atheist children, not to mention the bah-humbug non-Santa believers, that reduces his workload to 15% of the total - about 378 million. At an average census rate of 3.5 children per household, that's 91.8 million homes. One presumes there's at least one good child in each.

Santa has 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels east to west (which seemes logical). This works out to 822.6 visits per second. This is to say that for each household with good children (well, good enough) Santa has 1/1000th of a second to park, hop out of the sleigh, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left, get back up the chimney, get back into the sleigh and move on to the next house. Assuming that each of these 91.8 million stops are evenly distributed around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false but for the purposes of our calculations we will accept), we are now talking about .78 miles per household, a total trip of 75.5 million miles, not counting stops to go to the toilet, which most of us must do at least once every 31 hours (In that time he also, of course, consumes almost 100 million pies and about 25 million litres of of sherry - are you surprised you don't see him for the rest of the year!?)

This means that Santa's sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second, 3,000 times the speed of sound. For purposes of comparison, the fastest man-made vehicle on earth, a space probe, moves at a pokey 27.4 miles per second - a conventional reindeer can run, tops, 15 miles per hour.

Now consider the huge load in the sleigh. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium-sized lego set (almost 1 kg or 2 pounds), the sleigh is carrying 321,300 tons, not counting Santa, who is invariably described as overweight. On land, non-flying reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting that "flying reindeer" could pull ten times the normal amount, we cannot do the job with eight, or even nine. We need 214,200 reindeer. This increases the payload - not even counting the weight of the sleigh - to 353,430 tons. Again, for comparison - this is four times the weight of the QEII cruise liner.

353,000 tons travelling at 650 miles per second creates enourmous air resistance - this will heat the reindeer up in the same fashion as a spacecraft re-entering the earth's atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer will absorb 14.3 quintillion joules of energy. Per second. Each. In short, they will burst into flame almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them, and create deafening sonic booms in their wake. The entire reindeer team (all 214,000 of them) will be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second. Santa, meanwhile, will be subjected to centrifugal forces 17,500 times greater than gravity. A 250-pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of his sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force.

In conclusion - If Santa ever DID deliver presents on Christmas Eve, he's dead now.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

9 Things I Hate

1. People who point at their wrist while asking for the time. Hey, I know where my watch is pal, where's yours? Do I point at my crotch when I ask where the toilet is?
2. People who are willing to search the entire room for the TV remote because they refuse to walk to the TV and change the channel manually.
3. When people say "Oh you just want to have your cake and eat it too". Damn right... what good is cake if you can't eat it!?
4. When people say "it's always the last place you look". Of course it is - why the hell would I keep looking after I've found it? What sort of people do this?
5. When people are watching a film and they say "did you see that?". No, I paid $12 to come to the cinema so I could stare at the floor.
6. People who ask "Can I ask you a question?" Got me there, didn't really give me a choice, did ya sunshine?
7. When something is 'new and improved!'. Which is it? If it's new, then there has never been anything before it. If it's an improvement, then there must have been something before it, couldn't be new. And why do all these companies keep making their washing powder 'whiter and brighter'? What the hell were we washing with before, mud!?
8. When people say "life is short". What the hell?? Life is the longest damn thing anyone ever does!! What can you do that's any longer?
9. When you are waiting for the bus and someone asks "Has the bus come yet?" Now look, if the bus came would I still be standing here!?

Monday, December 04, 2006

One Mongrel to Ruin It All

Every year, I take my kids to the Latrobe International Speedway's Fireworks Spectacular meeting. They look forward to it all year. But this year, they won't be having that special Christmas season treat.

The permit for the Speedway to hold the Fireworks meeting this Saturday night has been revoked, because of one complaint by one pathetic miserable sad loser who complained that he didn't like the noise.

Never mind that the Fireworks evening is a north-west Tasmanian tradition.
Never mind that he bought his house with the full knowledge that the event had been held for 30 years.
Never mind that it only goes for 15 minutes.
And never mind that about 5,000 people attend on that night, in fact for about 3,000 of them its the only Speedway meeting of the entire year they attend.

None of that matters, apparently, when it comes to a minority being able to ruin it for everyone else.

The objector's name, address and phone numbers are in the map above (click on the map for a larger view). I hope everyone will ring the person up and make their opinion of his selfishness known, or write him letters saying so. I suggest you don't make prank calls, throw bags of faeces on their lawn, or any of a hundred other nasty pranks that a quick search of Google could inspire you to do, because that would be plain nasty. But certainly, let your opinion be know. Writing to, or ringing up, the Latrobe Council is also a good idea.

Thanks very much to the Mountain Dew Ice International Speedway, at Latrobe, Tasmania, for putting on its fireworks every year, and to its longtime sponsor, Wyllie Tiles. And a thousand curses on the one person who can't tolerate 15 minutes of noise for the sake of 5,000 other people's enjoyment.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

This is not a paid advertisement

Quite a few years ago, I bought Apple G3 'Wall St' laptops for my kids. They had a lot of fun with them, and then the power supplies packed it in on both of them. Every now and then I sourced replacement power supplies, but they were so expensive in relation to the decreasing value of the computers that they just weren't worth buying. That is, until yesterday, when I thought 'hang the expense' and ordered one from a supplier I found on the web -

I ordered the replacement power supply from them yesterday at 3:17 pm. It came, from another state of Australia, in this morning's mail. That's damn good service by any account, but when you consider that I had previously sourced the power supplies elsewhere at $135 plus $15 freight, and that MobilePower charged me just $105 including freight, it's incredible. And did I mention that they supply power supplies for just about every brand and breed of laptop ever?

Let's sum it up with a score table:
Product Range = 10/10 Speed of Delivery = 10/10 Pricing = 10/10

What more could you ask for? Dust off your old laptops and head over to their website today - this is one company that really deserves your business. And thanks a heap, MobilePower. You can expect me to order another one for the second G3 laptop in the next month or so.

MobilePower's Website

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

McStunt Burgers

Have you ever noticed that McDonalds employ stunt, or stand-in, burgers for all their advertising? You look up at the menu board and see those beautiful, pristine burgers with their fancy backlighting, then buy one, unwrap it and say, 'WTF!?'. I witnessed an argument between an old man and a serving wench in McD's one day - he had ordered one of 'those' he said, pointing angrily at the board, and they had given him the wrong thing! The poor wench tried to explain that the Big Mac shown on the board was what he had been served, but how much hope of success have you when they look so different? To demonstrate the point, below is an example: The Big Mac on the left is from the McDonalds web site, and the one on the right is a freshly unwrapped one - look carefully and you may spot slight differences between them… found any differences yet…?

That's right, real Big Macs look nothing like the publicity photos! For starters, consider the size - those stunt burgers look about 5 inches tall, whereas the one above, fresh out of the wrapper, measures just 4.5 cm! I invite you to email your own photos of McD food to me - - so I can include them here. No rigging the shot… the photo must be taken immediately upon unwrapping the food, and within 5 minutes of purchase. There's no need to cheat to show McDonalds what their food really looks like, so tell it just like it is, and the photos will speak for themselves!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Cna uyo rdea sith ko?

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by itslef but the wrod as a wlohe.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Rare Videos

Wow, I found these Star Trek Animated Series videos on Australian ebay, and the starting price is only $20! What a bargain! These are a very rare item these days, and a search of US ebay only turned up one set, starting at 3 times this price! Of course, I found them in the first place because… well, I admit it, I'm the Seller. But honestly, they are rare, and they are definitely worth this asking price. Check them out if you're an Aussie reader - and remember, Only You Can Make Sure Your Kids Get Hooked On Star Trek - by starting them young!

Bargain of the Year

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Scumbag of the Year

As some humans come to terms with the loss of their homes and possessions, there are others who act like prowling animals and think of nothing beyond themselves. There are a lot of people out there who are wasting what precious little oxygen is left on the planet by prolonging their useless, pathetic, parasitic life, but the award for Scumbag of the Year has to go to the sad, stupid idiot who stole a firefighting vehicle while the crews were battling bushfires near Hobart yesterday. You don't have to be just spastic to do something like that, you have to be completely heartless and brain-dead as well, and when you get caught and brought up for trial, the Judge needs to ask, "is there any real benefit to society in letting this individual continue living?" I hope they throw the book at you, moron. In fact, I hope they chain you and lock you in a shed then set fire to it, then ring the fire brigade and see if they can get to you on time on foot! You're scum, mate. Do us all a favour and shoot yourself.

The Age story

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Bushfire Season

Here we are not even officially into summer yet, and we're experiencing some of the hottest days of ANY season. Across Australia, firefighters have been battling bushfires already, and I predict that the next 3 or 4 months will see one of the worst Bushfire seasons ever in Australia. Last week, my parents went to Hobart to stay for a few days and had to hose down the house while a bushfire burned just 500 metres downhill, on Mount Nelson, which I visited 2 months or so ago with the kids to see some snow. This isn't the first time my Mum and Dad have stayed at a place where there was a fire while they were there, or shortly after. In fact it seems to happen with surprising regularity… Meanwhile, the NSW Police Force knows how to combine business with pleasure, announcing today that a veritable army of police will be spending those long, hot summer days on the beach, supposedly to prevent a repeat of last summer's beach riots. Yeah, sure guys. 'We'd better question those two bikini-clad blondes over there immediately, Constable'. 'About what, Sarge?' 'Gawd I dunno, make something up, quick, before those surfie guys get to them…'

ABC News - Fire threatens Hobart homes

Friday, October 13, 2006

Song Contest Blues

Feel like crud, my path's turned to mud,
Had a lover's spat then stepped on the cat,
Leaking roof, got an aching tooth,
Car broke down miles out of town,
Lightning struck my last living duck,
Mother-in-law is knocking at the door,
Got a flat tyre, the barn caught fire,
The school caught my son playing with a gun,
Mormons turned up, kidnapped my pup,
The oak tree fell over on top of poor Rover,
Washing's all dirty, I'm approaching thirty,
Bank accounts as clean as I've ever seen,
Daughter needs braces, lost big at the Races,
Her boyfriend loves bon-bons but not using condoms,
My wife wants divorce and won't do her chores,
The Parson came by just as she started to cry.
Song Contest, I'm in it and I really want to win,
But how can I write a Blues Song,
When I can't think of anything to put in it!?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

IQ test

I'm a bit worried about the mental calibre of the people I'm getting reading my blog, so I thought it was time to weed out the riff-raff with a little test. If you get less than 8 correct, perhaps you would be happier reading some other blog…

Answers below… answer the questions first before you look!

1. Write your name.
2. Do they have a 4th of July in England?
3. In a non-leap year, some months have 31 days, and some 30, but how many have 28?
4. If a doctor gave you three pills and told you to take one every half hour, how long would they last?
5. If you had only one match and entered a room where there is an oil lamp, an oil heater, and kindling wood, which would you light first?
6. A farmer had 87 sheep and all but 21 died. How many did he have left?
7. Divide 30 by half and add 10. What is the result?
8. How many animals of each species did Moses take aboard the Ark?
9. If you take 31 apples from 93 apples, how many apples do you have?
10. You drive a bus with 31 people from Oatlands to Hobart, pick up 6 more there, drive on to Campbell Town and drop 5 off, then pick up 4 more and continue to Devonport where 7 get off and 2 get on. Based on this information, what is the bus driver's name?

11. Adam and Eve were evicted from the Garden of Eden for eating… what?

1. You should have written the words your name as instructed.
2. Yes, they have a 4th of every month, just like everyone else.
3. Twelve. Every month has at least 28 days.
4. One hour, not an hour and a half!
5. The match, obviously.
6. He has 21 left.
7. The answer is 70. 30÷2+10=25, but 30÷1/2+10=70.
8. None. Noah took animals on the Ark, Moses wasn't around.
9. You'd have 31 apples because that's how many you took!
10. The bus driver's name is whatever your name is. 'You drive a bus…'
11. Adam and Eve were evicted for eating 'the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil', not an apple. See Genesis 2:17 if you don't believe me!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Flying High

I haven't blogged for a week or so; I'd like to say it's because things of earth-shattering import have been occupying my limited temporal allotment, but the fact is, I just haven't had anything much to say - for once!

Still, all good things must come to an end, and so I post once more. Today I got a phone call (actually a series of them) from a customer who is also a member of the Exclusive Brethren. In case you don't know, they aren't allowed to use technology, so he asked me to book him some flights from Melbourne to Tassie on the internet for him.

Firstly, Regional Air Express (Rex) told him on the phone (which is also technology, but apparently allowed) they had $104 seats at 8:30 am on November 4th for Melbourne to Burnie, and 6:30 pm on November 8th for the return flight. Except they didn't. Online, I couldn't find any flights on those days at that price. He called them back, they insisted they did, he called me back, I said they didn't, and so it went on. Eventually, I told him that if they said the flights were there on their internet, then they could book them for him, because they weren't showing up on my internet! We should have been looking at the same thing; last time I checked, I wasn't mirroring the entire internet on my computer, but with all the internet-savvy and phone-home software these days, I can't be sure. Perhaps I am and just didn't realise it. That would go part-way to explaining why the terabyte of storage I bought 2 weeks ago is almost full already.

Secondly, when i found the cheapest flights that were available, they came to $396 - plus about $190 taxes and surcharges! What are these surcharges? There was the Domestic Passenger Levy, which I thought was a bit cheeky - even though the airlines are privately owned, I have to pay the government for the privilege of flying in Australian airspace as well. But the second surcharge really got me - the Fuel Excise Surcharge of about $130. Melbourne to Burnie is about 120 km, which would take about $10 of petrol in a car, but I understand that aviation fuel costs more. What it effectively means is that whenever you get on a plane in Australia, you're paying for your own fuel - not as part of your ticket, but completely separately.

So what I want to know is this: When the pilot announces we'll be arriving 10 minutes early because we've had a good wind behind us, surely that means we've used less fuel than expected? So shouldn't the airline be refunding some of our money for the fuel we paid for but didn't use? Next time I fly, at the end of the flight, I'll make a point of asking the pilot how much he owes me and when he's going to pay up.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

All Upside Down

Just watched the new Poseidon movie. The original, done way back in the 70's, was full of mistakes, mostly where the set designers had had trouble thinking upside-down or the carpenters just didn't think when making the sets. You'd think in a remake of the film they'd be very careful of that, perhaps even build every set right way up and then flip them. But no, the modern version has a number of similar mistakes as well. About 2 minutes after the ship rolls over, our heroes are crossing an elevator shaft and a grill on the wall is the right way up. Grills have slanted vanes to stop the dust getting inside, but this one, when the ship was upright, would channel the dust into it. And not long after, our intrepid ex-fireman doesn't know basic Rule One of firefighting - aim the extinguisher at the base of the fire, not 4 feet into the air. Good thing the door was hot but the fire had already gone out! And my favourite one of all, the multi-story theatre room with balloons everywhere - which presumably weren't helium-filled and were drooping down sadly before the ship flipped, because the still are now. Guys, helium balloons would still be the right way up! Anyway, you get my drift. Check out, a great site for picking the nits out of your favourite movies, if you want to see a few more.

Movie Mistakes - Poseidon

Friday, September 29, 2006

Apple Still #1

First a quick joke: In the Post Office one day the mail sorters see a letter addressed to "God, Heaven", in a child's writing. They open it up and read "Dear God, mum is very sick, can you send $500 to help us out? Signed Johnny." Well, they immediately run around the mailroom showing everyone, they all put in money to help out, and they come up with $350, which they send off to the boy. A week later another letter arrives addressed to God, and they all stop work and gather around to hear what is in it as one of them opens it and begins to read aloud: "Dear God, thanks for the money, I only got $350 of it because you know what thieving bastards those Post Office people are…"

Recently I ordered a Mac Mini, and got up Apple on this blog because their order confirmation said it would take 14 days to ship when their website said 24 hours. I rang them, and said they don't listen to their customers. Here's what happened:

• I emailed a complaint to them and asked them to read the blog entry.
• I received an explanation of the delay by email after they had done so.
• I was asked to fill in a survey of their service even though they knew I wouldn't say nice things.
• I received another email saying my Mac had shipped.
• I received my Mac yesterday.

Shipping to Tasmania always goes through third-party and very slow couriers. This means that not only did Apple listen to me, the customer, but someone at Apple must have moved hell and high water to get it to me so quickly. This was certainly service above and beyond the call of duty. So I certainly won't be like the boy in the joke; if Apple Store staff read this blog again to see if I'm still complaining, let me assure you I'm not! You've done very, very well indeed, and this customer is once again happy. Thank you.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

War on Telemarketers

Telemarketers are an absolute pain. But the bad news is that it's our own fault. No matter how cheap the call costs to these organisations (and believe me, they pay next to nothing), they still wouldn't worth doing it if idiots out there didn't encourage them. All of us pay the price, and the only way to stop this method of selling is for every single person to declare war on telemarketing, and refuse to buy their crap. I hate people with scripts on the other end of the phone. After all, isn't the phone for conversation? Would you put up with a friend if all they ever did was continue saying what they wanted to, without ever listening to you? So method number one in the fight is - disrupt the script. Today I got a phone call and it went something like this:

Tm: Hi it's Jane here from the Broadband Company. We're a Telstra service…
Me: Are you part of Telstra or a separate company entirely?
Tm: Oh, er, we're associated with Telstra…
Me: I'm associated with them, too. I'm one of their customers. Is that what you mean in regard to your association?
Tm: We're associated with Telstra to…
Me: So you're a completely separate company with no corporate link to Telstra then?
Tm: Yes, we're offering you…
Me: May I have your ABN [Australian Business Number] please?
Tm: Er, um, I'm not sure what it is…
Me: But as a phone sales company you are required by law to provide it immediately upon request.
Tm: We're calling about our broadband service…
Me: Speed and cost?
Tm: Pardon?
Me: I'm a busy man, speed and cost?
Tm: We have a number of options…
Me: Fastest speed for lowest price. Give me figures.
Tm: Well, er, we have a 256k…
Me: Too slow. Connection AND your answer. Bye.

See how easy it is? Now, if you think of these people as poor battlers struggling to earn a dollar you'll come unstuck and buy something from them out of sympathy. Remember always that every telemarketer owns a private yacht, they are all part of the conspiracy to bring about one world government, and most of them watch porn on their computer screen while selling you stuff. Their children are locked in a cupboard upstairs, and they kill, skin and eat their cat's kittens for tea. Remember this, and you won't have any troubles saying 'No' next time these devil worshippers call.

He Saved the World - Literally!

I noticed a couple of days ago that Google's title graphic had been changed to include a birthday cake, signifying their 8th Birthday. Google regularly commemorates special events in this way, but there is a far more important anniversary than their birthday to celebrate - September 26th is the date that the world would have ended, but for Colonel Stanislav Petrov.

On 26th September 1983, Petrov was in charge of the Soviet Union’s satellite warning systems. This was the height of the cold war, NATO was carrying out its annual tactical exercises, and two weeks before the Soviets had shot down a Korean airliner that had wandered into their airspace. Ronald Reagan was publicly calling the Soviet Union an ‘Evil Empire’, the warmup man at a UK Conservative party rally had opened with the call to “Bomb Russia”, we had Andropov, a former leader of the KGB, as the current ruler of the Kremlin, and every American was digging a backyard bomb shelter. Things were, to put it mildly, on a hair trigger.

At 40 minutes past midnight on the 26th, Petrov looked up and saw a missile launch from a United States silo. You might expect panic at this point, but missile command tends to attract serious, sober types, the type of people who smoke a pipe and sew leather patches on their jackets. Petrov kept his head. He knew the satellite had been reported as suspect and decided to hold off on informing the high command. Then a second missile launch was picked up, and shortly after another, and another and another. Petrov knew that if he waited until he could confirm the launches with ground radar it would be too late for his country, he and his family would die and the Yankees would win the Cold War.

Thankfully, he thought before acting. He reasoned that it was illogical for a surprise attack to launch missiles one after the other – instead you’d launch everything you had and hope to wipe out the enemy before they reacted. He left the launch button alone and thankfully the missiles proved to be ghosts. Millions of people slept peacefully in their beds that night, blissfully unaware of how close they came to fiery death or a worse existence than they could imagine.

Petrov was reprimanded and now lives in the scientific community of Fryazino in Russia. He was honoured in a ceremony at the United Nations and has been been distinguished by two World Citizen Awards. So take some time out today and say your private thanks to the man who saved the world.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Tautologous Places

Tautology is putting extra words in a sentence which mean the same thing, so there is no point having them there. Newspapers, in their bid to pad a story out to a certain number of words, are the worst culprits, and you'll often see phrases like "illegal theft" (all thefts are illegal therefore the word illegal isn't needed), "dangerous speeding" (all speeding is dangerous), "dishonest politicians" (well, you get the idea…)

Here's a list of some real place names from around the world, which you can use as examples when you try to Win Friends and Influence People by telling them what tautology is (just before they punch you for being a smart-***):

River River River Avon, England - Avon, spelled Afon in modern times, is Welsh for river.
River River River Río Guadix, Spain - Río is river in Spanish, Guad river in Arabic and Ix is river in Phoenician.
Long Tidal River River Connecticut River, United States - Algonquin.
Big River River Mississippi River, United States - Algonquin.
Lake Lake Second Lake Rotorua, New Zealand - Many NZ lakes have the "Lake Roto-" form.
Lake the Lake Lake Tahoe, Nevada/California - Washo Native American Tribal language.
Lake Lake Lake Nyassa, Malawi/Mozambique - Yao.
Lakeville Lake Michican, USA - The village is Lakeville, the adjacent lake is Lakeville Lake.
Hill Hill Bredon, England - Celtic/Saxon.
Hill Hill on the Hill Breedon on the Hill, England - Celtic/Saxon.
Mount Mount Big Mount Maunganui, New Zealand - Maori.
Mount Snowy Mountains Sierra Nevada Mountains, California - Spanish.
Hill Hill Hill Hill Torpenhow Hill, England - SW-English, Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, English.
Hill Hill Hill Pendle Hill, England - "Pen" Cumbric language and the suffix "dle" from the Old English language.
Mountain Mountain Mongibello, Sicily, Italy - Latin "Mons" and the Arabic "Gebel".
Peak Peak Summit Peak, New Zealand - The US also has five hills called Summit Peak.
Sheep Islands Islands Faroe Islands, North Atlantic - Faroese.
Island Islands Gili Islands, Indonesia - Sasak.
Many Islands Islands Polynesian Islands, Pacific Ocean - Greek.
The The Tar Tar Pits La Brea Tar Pits, California - Spanish.
Deserts Desert Sahara Desert, Africa - Arabic.
Waterfall Waterfall Waterfall Eas Fors Waterfall on the Isle of Mull in Scotland
Beech Wood Wood Wood Beechhurst Holt Wood, England - Anglo-Saxon.
View View Elementary School Vista View Elementary School, Minnesota - Spanish.
Valley Valley Beqaa Valley - "Beqaa" is Arabic for valley.
The Rock of The Rock of Tariq The Rock of Gibraltar - Arabic.
Town's Town Townsville, Australia - French.
East East Timor-Leste, East Timor - Indonesian/Malay, Portuguese.
Circle Circle Trendle Ring, Somerset, England.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Land of the Long White Cloud

A Luxer called Philip Lyth, from New Zealand, sent me a 'Thankyou' email for a couple of my other maps, so I was inspired to make one for the 'Land of the Long White Cloud'. But after about 3 attempts I still wasn't sure what era to base it on! So with a bit of modern satellite terrain, some notes of Captain Cook's, and borders that are a mix of modern electoral boundaries, Maori tribal boundaries, and just plain made up ones, plus a few inset enlargements because everyone just loves them(!), here it is! With all these mixed elements in the map it shouldn't work, but somehow it does - which sums up modern New Zealand society perfectly. Enjoy.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Apple, Are You Ready?

Top marks to Apple for replying to my queries about the MiniMac I ordered within 24 hours, even though I still object to being told 24 hours on the website and 14 days on the order confirmation email. Let's stop and think, for a moment, about what is going to go through the mind of a huge number of PC users over the next few months.

1. Yah, Windows Vista is out. I want it!
2. But damn, I have to upgrade my computer before it can run Vista. New hardware time.
3. Hmmm, Mac OSX is really a great OS. I can buy an Intel Mac and still run Vista, AND have a Mac too.
4. Great, I'll order an Intel Mac instead.
5. Wait a minute… buy a PC off the shelf in my local store OR wait a month for an Apple…
6. Well, the Mac would be nice but I want it now so… new PC it is.

Right now Apple have 3-4% of the computer market, despite constantly having the most innovative hardware with none of the security holes, bugs and incompatibilities that the PC market has. And the average buyer has to wait 2 weeks for his new Mac. Windows Vista is going to be the best advertisement for the Intel Macs ever, and there are going to be a hell of a lot of people who will use the opportunity to change over, IF THEY CAN! But they CAN'T. Apple struggles to service 3-4% of the market - how are they going to cope with 30-40% in the next couple of years, or 60-70% two years after that?

Apple, sort it out, NOW. There's no point labouring to till soil and plant seed if you let the fruit rot on the branches when harvest time comes!

Sunday, September 24, 2006


There's been a lot of talk this week about a proposal that elderly drivers should have to display an 'E' plate, just as Learners are required to have an 'L' one and Provisional riders a 'P' plate. But the question I ask is, "what would be the point?" A Provisional driver looks just like everyone else on the road, so I agree with that; a Learner can even pass for a normal driver unless you happen to see his face, with that eyes-straight-ahead concentration that is often called "Race Face". But the elderly!? If you can't see that the driver up ahead is an elderly one from a distance of at least 100 metres, based on such subtle clues as the 20 kph speed, the "one inch from the gutter" lane position, the indicator left on for the last 10 kilometres, or the brake lights flashing on and off every 3 or 4 seconds, then you shouldn't have a licence either! If your powers of observation of the road, and other people sharing it with you, are so poor that you find yourself within 50 metres of an elderly driver without realising until then that is was one, shame on you, get off the road and stay off.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Driving on the Left

A policeman in Oldbury, West Midlands, England, pulled over a weaving car. "I attempted to speak to the driver, who appeared to be fumbling around with the controls," said the constable. "At that point the passenger leaned across and stated, 'He's blind'."

Sure enough the driver, Omed Aziz, 31, had lost both eyes and three fingers in a bomb blast in his native Iraq, and his passenger was giving him directions so he could steer. Aziz denied charges of dangerous driving, but was convicted and given a three-month prison sentence, which was suspended, plus a three year driving ban. (London Times).

Apparently the judge thinks that should be long enough to grow new eyes.

From This is True

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Throwing the First Stone

A Minister was walking down the street when he came upon a group of about half a dozen young boys, standing around a dog. Concerned that they might be hurting it or planning to, he went over and asked what was going on. The boys told him that the dog was a stray, and they all wanted to take it home and make it their own, so they'd argued about it, then decided to have a contest. Whoever told the biggest and best lie would get to keep the dog.

The Minister was appalled. "You boys shouldn't be having a contest to tell lies!" he exclaimed, then launched into a long sermon against sinning, lying, cheating and generally being dishonest, starting with "Don't you know it's a sin to lie?" and finally ending with a description of how to live a virtuous, honest life, such as he himself did.

When he finished, there was dead silence for a minute, then the smallest boy gave a deep sigh and said, “Alright Minister, I guess the dog is yours."

Sensational Steve Circus

Yesterday saw live coverage of the memorial service for Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter. I always saw him as a fairly ordinary bloke who liked animals and had a good way in front of a TV camera, but boy, did I undersell him. Apparently, he was a Saint who never did anything wrong in his whole life, an Aussie Legend and he Changed Our World. The Prime Minister opened the circus proceedings, and the Show went on… and on… and on. If I ever hear John Williamson singing 'Hey True Blue' again I'll vomit, but hear it I will, because it's fairly obvious the ageing, long out-of-stardom Williamson is hoping that the exposure will make him popular again, as well as making his song standard fare at all future funerals. Brave little Bindi, reading a speech about her Dad, and vowing to continue his work, brought a tear to everyone's eye. And that moving climax, one man slowly loading Steve's ute with all his camping gear, while all the other zoo workers formed an avenue of honour, then his ute disappearing out of the arena… The psychologists after the Show, counselling all of us on how to deal with the trauma our kids will be feeling, without once mentioning the most obvious way - tell them he died and what death is.

I'm not criticising Steve. Quite frankly, I think he would agree 100% with me and stick the finger up at the whole thing. It was a media circus put on by morons for the benefit of total strangers with the emotional maturity of five year olds. Expect that sometime in the coming year 20th September will be officially declared 'Steve Irwin Day', and meanwhile, back at his grave, the earth will continue to be disturbed as Steve turns over in his grave… and over… and over.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Mini Movement

I ordered a Mac Mini from Apple's online store yesterday, the dual core Intel and Mac 1.8 gig model. I looked at all the Intel Mac options but it was the sheer size (or lack of it), and cheap price, of the Mini that won me over. For a guy who's losing his eyesight day by day, the main priority was to stick with the 21" monitor I use, which looks to me like a 12" would look to you. Sure I'd have liked one of those spanky new LCD-monitor included iMacs, but one the size I need would set me back a lot of money, compared to the Mini. And once you make the decision to stick with your existing monitor, suddenly all the other Intel Macs become a bit pointless.

On Apple's website, it said shipping in 24 hours. All day I tried to access my Order History only to have an error message pop up saying their ordering system was undergoing maintenance. Finally, today at lunchtime I see my order at last, and the shipping is - wait for it - 8 days until it ships, and I should have it around 4th October, 14 days from now. Now I don't mind a little exaggeration, but 14 days instead of 1 is pushing the limits a bit. So I rang Apple's freecall number to ask why. What I got, of course, was a guy who could barely speak English following a script written out in front of him, and my questions like "How come it takes 8 days to ship?" were answered "First you will receive an order confirmation via email, then a shipping email when Shanghai ships it…" It's not just that he didn't answer my questions that annoys me, but the fact that he probably couldn't even understand me at all.

Eventually I realised myself why the extra delay - because I 'customized' the Mac by ordering 1 gig of RAM instead of the standard 512 meg. If you order a heavily customised system, I can understand there will be a delay while someone assembles it, but adding one RAM chip isn't really in that league. Apart from the fact that it takes 2 minutes to do, it would be a pretty standard order, so why don't Apple have 512, 1 Gig and 2 Gig standard units already on the shelf?

I'm a little disappointed but then I usually am whenever I order directly from Apple. I've had Macs since 1984, a long series of them, and experience has always shown that they are best bought anywhere but from Apple directly. They have the best, most innovative products in the world, and lousy customer service. But then, is it Rotten Apples on their part, or Sour Grapes on mine?

Pope in the Poop

The Pope made a few comments in his speech last week which got Muslims upset. Frankly, I don't blame them. Whether he was quoting from an old text or not, his comments were very insensitive. Following that, the church issued an apology, if you can call it that. The 'apology' went along the lines of 'Well, if what the Pope said caused Muslims to take offense because of their own sensibilities...' This is an apology!? You tell someone he's a bastard, then you say to him, "Well I didn't offend you, but if you took offense because you're sensitive about it, whereas most people wouldn't be…" And how come the Pope apologised anyway? According to Catholic dogma, he's infallible.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Who farted!?

HOUSTON: International space station astronauts pulled an alarm and donned protective gear yesterday after smelling a foul odour that turned out to be a vapour leaking from an oxygen vent, NASA said. My question: If it was an oxygen vent, surely the vapour leaking out was oxygen? Oxygen doesn't really have a foul odour, in fact it's kind of sweet and tangy, and anyway, these guys surely being astronauts should be used to the smell of oxygen! I smell a conspiracy to cover the truth here... admit it, NASA, someone panicked after sucking on a tube of baked beans and you're trying to make the incident more palatable to the public!

Astronauts put on protective gear after odour noticed

Crocodile Tears… of Laughter

The question that we've all been asking, of course, is if Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, was killed by a stingray not a crocodile, wouldn't there be a lot of really angry crocodiles out there now? There they are, waiting their turn and commisserating how their brothers have failed more missions than the CIA and FBI put together, then along comes this stupid flat fish that just casually flicks it's tail at him and wham! No more Steve! Candanian funny man Norm Macdonald sums it up beautifully:

Monday, September 18, 2006

Ron Barassi

If you've heard of Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, or Michael Jordan, you've got some idea of what Australians think of Ron Barassi. Even though the news of the past week has all been about the crocodile hunter, Steve Irwin, and his media-circus televised funeral, Ron Barassi is never out of the news. Just look at a few of these search results from Google News:

Footy legend Ron Barassi … it's not every day Ron Barassi comes to town … Barassi was the legend … AFL legend Ron Barassi says … affair began when he saw Ron Barassi play … water-walking Ron Barassi … how much torture can a man take, wondered Ron Barassi … AFL legend Ron Barassi, a patron of Melbourne … I was there three weeks after Ron Barassi… Melburnian of the Year Ron Barassi … Ron Barassi revolutionised the game … identities nvolved in the station were Ron Barassi … October's Barassi Cup in Canberra … Carlton went on to win following Ron Barassi's half-time exhortation … action-packed 70th birthday year for Ron Barassi …

You get the idea. Australian football is just like American football, except you can understand the rules in the Australian version and Oz footy players don't chicken out by wearing body armor onto the field. And the fans are just as fanatical, and if there was ever a man who could be called "THE' legend of the game, it's Ron.

Now Australian footy grew up in Melbourne. In fact, for many years the Victorian Football League, or VFL, was the only place in the country you could see it played at anything like professional level. That was Ron's heyday. But time moves on, and other states began to field their own teams, then their teams began to actually be reasonably good. They've improved so much in fact that this year, none of the Victorian teams made it to the Finals. Ron Barassi wants an Official Inquiry into why. Well Ron, legend or not, I'm afraid I'm going to burst your bubble here and save the fans a lot of money here by telling you the answer before the Inquiry even starts. The fact is, they just weren't good enough! That's it, no need to look further. A series of round-robin games was held as usual, in a totally fair way, and all of the Victorian teams lost. You need to look down at your jumper, mate, and notice that it says AFL now not VFL. The League has been the Australian Football League for a while now, and it's inevitable that the number of Victorian teams will go down and that other states will win. Personally, I reckon it's pointless having teams for Fitzroy, Essendon and Carlton, for example, if none of the players in those teams are from those areas anyway! Get over it, Ron. I'd like to see every single Victorian team retired and replaced by a single Victorian team. Maybe then, with the best players from all those useless little clubs, you might have a chance of making the Finals again.

Ron Barassi Website

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Stupidest Species

I take back what I said a few days ago about cows being dumb. I take back everything I ever said that implied that humans had intelligence. I saw this video on YouTube today and thought, straight away, "what could I possibly say on my blog today that said it better than this video?" So here 'tis. Oh, and before the author of the video gets too self-righteous, he needs to ask himself, "how can someone know how to edit videos together and not be able to spell the most basic words in the dictionary?" It's 'graze', you fool.

If 'survival of the fittest' is any rule, then the guy rollerblading from the second story of a house must already be dead. Somehow I don't find any sadness in my heart or sympathy for his relatives, though. If you raised one of the people featured, you need to be asking yourself, "was my whole life just a waste of the planet's limited oxygen supply?"

Saturday, September 16, 2006


"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…"

I'm confused. For most of my life I was taught that calling someone a Nigger was a bad thing. But nowadays it's quite ok to call someone a Nigger, as long as you're black. White people, no, black people, yes. That's called "equality" apparently. As in, both sides have the same rules. Apparently. The opposite applies too, of course - it's quite ok for a white person to call another white a Honky, but not for a black person to call a white Honky. Yes? No. I'm really confused. Many years ago Australia had a policy which kept people out of the country if they couldn't speak English. It was ruled by the courts to be illegal and racist. And just a few weeks ago, our government complained no-one learned Australian history any more, and most of Oz couldn't pass a history test. Today the Prime Minister announced that immigrants to Australia will soon have to be able to speak English and pass an Australian history exam. I'm very confused. Kids these days apparently spend all their time indoor playing video games and never venture outside into the real world or talk to other people. They also hang about on the streets causing trouble, or sit on their front verandah lazily doing nothing, or meet down by the river or in the park to crack onto each other. I can't quite work out where they would have to be, to be in the right place doing the right thing. I'm totally confused. This week an Australian court ruled that a white woman calling an aboriginal woman an Abo was racial vilification, but the reason, because the aboriginal woman called her a white slut, wasn't racial vilification. I'm completely and utterly confused by this whole idea of what is equal and what isn't. All while I was growing up it never occurred to me that women were any different to men, except for the obvious physical reasons. Now I found our society treats women badly in almost every regard. No-one I know does, but apparently it's common for women and men not to be treated as equals. The Australian government lists 29 departments devoted to women, but not a single one for men. It's ok to run TV campaigns saying "To violence against women, Australia says 'No'", but I have to think that the very fact that women are singled out in the advert is wrong. Why not, "To relationship violence…" or "To violence in general…"? I really can't get a hold of what this word, "equal", is supposed to mean. From empirical evidence, it seems it means "two sets of rules, each applying in a different way to a different set of people". I'm utterly confused, but then, can you blame me?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Cannibalism? Hogwash!

Well I have to say I'm disappointed that the Indonesian authorities didn't jail the Today Tonight crew (see yesterday's "Justice for All" post); instead, they evicted them from the country after they admitted they were there to work not as tourists. And what was this so-important story they were there to film? Oh, Naomi! Oh, TT crew! Where is your research department, and what are they paid for!? The crew were there, ladies and gentlemen, "to save a Papuan orphan from being eaten by his cannibal tribe". Sixty Minutes did a story on the poor orphan boy four months ago but decided it was "too costly" to rescue him, so the TT team went in like Wonder Woman and the Stooges to do what Nine Network wouldn't do. And to top it all off, Seven are saying that Robson and her crew were dobbed in to the Indonesians and flew straight into an ambush set up by rival network Nine!

Never let the facts get in the way of a good story. Research by a good many historians and anthropologists has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that not only aren't there any cannibal tribes, there almost certainly never were! Cannibalism is the jungle equivalent of urban myth. No researcher has ever been able to find an actual person who ate someone, it's always "in the old days" or "the tribe over the hill". And it's not hard to see why the legends would have been made up in the first place, either. A vulnerable village or tribe who told every visitor they were cannibals, or lived next door to cannibals, would have been left well alone by raiders. And telling the kids to be back at the hut by dark in case the cannibals got him would have obtained unquestioning obedience.

This isn't conjecture. A simple web search on the truth about cannibalism would have told the intrepid idiots from TT that. But then, I guess current affairs isn't about telling the truth, it's about making the truth. What wasn't even an issue today becomes tomorrow's story, if told in the right way, and that of course makes it next week's paycheck. But come on, Today Tonight and Sixty Minutes, try reporting the real news for a change, you might discover someone is interested in that, too!

The Straight Dope - Is there such a thing as cannibalism?
Courier Mail - Robson Frogmarched Home
The Australian - Robson Set Up by Nine
NineMSN News - Rivals Fight Over Cannibal Myth

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Justice for All

Australia's current affairs programs, notably Today Tonight and A Current Affair, are the first to jump on anyone who bends the law for their own gain. We're presented with an endless procession of shonky taxi drivers taking the elderly for a ride financially, young people rioting, and con-men in every trade. How ironic, then, that the Today Tonight crew, along with host Naomi Robson, have been detained in indonesia for illegally trying to enter the country on tourist visas when they were, in fact, there to work. If this were someone from Indonesia who tried to come into Australia, pretending he was a tourist but actually here for a job, the Today Tonight team would have a field day "naming and shaming" him, one of their favourite tactics. Not to mention, of course, they would be pushing the highest court in the land, the Court of Public Opinion, where the solicitors are The Media, for a full conviction, fines, jail, and deportation. Quite frankly, the hypocrisy of this Indonesian event astounds me. I urge the Indonesian authorities not to go easy on them, but to prosecute to the full extent of the law. Fines will be paid by their Network and won't mean a thing. If there is any provision for a jail term for illegal entry into Indonesia, I urge the Indonesian authorities to use it.

We have had The Media lambast the Indonesian authorities for some time here in Australia. In every case where an Australian druggie is apprehended trying to smuggle drugs into or out of Indonesia, we have a picture painted by our media of inept, bumbling keystone cops and a third-rate backwater who wouldn't know what real justice is; a picture of children playing pretend grown-up games who really could never understand what real grown-up governments do. Attempts are made to move the criminals to Australian jails, presumably because they can't expect humane treatment, justice and so forth over there. It's a pathetic attitude, and it's utterly racist, the old white-superiority showing up again. I think it's time the Indonesian authorities hit back and made Australians realise they have as much right to enforce their sovereign laws in their territory as we have in ours, and that whether we have the same justice system or not, we should keep our noses inside our own country and not try to tell people outside it's borders what to do. Send Naomi and the Today Tonight team to jail - they did the crime, now make them do the time.

Nine MSN News - Today Tonight crew face deportation

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Dumb & Dumber

Looking through the News today, I was torn between two stories both begging comment.

Firstly, there was the British tourist up in the Northern Territory who has managed to get lost twice in a week, which has cost the taxpayers of Australia a great deal of money and man-hours searching for him. I'd like to be generous toward him and say something like, "These things can happen", but somehow I just can't bring myself to do it. What I will say, instead, is that the man is an idiot! A bit harsh, I know, but look, Fundamental Rule Number One of bushwalking says "Don't do it alone". Not to mention, be prepared, have the right equipment, have a good map, take plenty of food and water, etc, etc. It seems that this moron has failed in every single important respect, in an area of the world where even locals die of exposure from the slightest mistake. That he was found the first time within shouting distance of town, and didn't even know it, is pathetic. Let alone the fact that the second time, police rang him on his cell phone after his hotel reported he was missing again, and he acknowledged he'd been lost for 4 days. So why hadn't he used his phone to call for help? One day without water in that desert means it'll be your last one. Perhaps he was just too embarrassed, but the expression "dying of embarrassment" isn't meant to be taken literally.

Outback Tourist Rescued Twice in a Week

Secondly, one of the cows of the Heazlewood's, Latrobe, Tasmania, is to be given an artificial leg. Apparently, she (the heifer) was "very brave after the accident" and seemed to be "asking us to do something to help her… she also does seem to miss the leg and often acts as if she has a phantom leg there." Reality check, people. "She misses the leg?" No, she's just a dumb animal who doesn't know it's even gone. She has no capacity for rational thought at all. While dedicated animal husbandry is a Good Thing, you're obviously going a bit far. Cows don't talk, and can't ask you anything; they aren't brave, stupid, dynamic or morose, and they don't have immortal souls. Ascribing human emotions and actions to animals is, in my opinion, the first sign of madness. Don't get me wrong, I'm an animal lover and have pets of my own. I even have cows. It brings me joy and peace to feed and protect them, but their response is only instinct. If one is injured, I with great sadness have the vet put it down, because that's the humane thing to do. Your 'animal lover' status is a total pretense, because if you had one ounce of love toward the animal, you'd know it was cruel to keep it alive in the state it's in, let alone strap a false leg to it, all for your own financial benefit because you don't want to lose a good breeder.

The Australian - Theresa's no longer out on a limb

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Berkeley Systems?

You remember Berkeley Systems, don't you? They made After Dark, the first wildly popular commercial screensaver. AD was created in a time before Windows 95 made screensavers truly integrated, and it was created with flair. Who could forget the Flying Toasters? Lawnmower Man? The Simpsons version of AD?

Apparently, everyone. AD fell by the wayside as Berkeley hit it big with a little Jellyvision program you might've heard of called You Don't Know Jack. Jack turned out to be the future of the company, and as the 123 different versions of Jack can attest to, it's been profitable. Oddly enough, Jack was similar to AD in that it was a bit of a prelude to what was coming down the pipe: online gaming.

Berkeley's embraced that, too; the game network Bezerk was one of the first commercially successful net gaming sites. But they outsourced that to last year. So what's left at Berkeley? Not much. While you can still buy AD, why? It doesn't work on Win 2000 or Mac OS 9, let alone modern systems, and as their FAQ points out, upgrading software is cost prohibitive. There are dozens of free screensavers out there. And you can still get Jack, but who doesn't have it already?

The interesting part of the whole story is that Berkeley was bought out by Sierra - formerly Sierra On-Line - which also used to be a highly profitable company. Now, Sierra is but a shell of its former self because it didn't keep up with the times. Berkeley, whether under the Sierra umbrella or not, succumbed to the same fate.

Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11 Five Years On

Well, it's 9/11, the anniversary of the World Trade Center attack. At least, it is here in Australia, which is 18 hours ahead of the US. And although the Towers get all the publicity, let's not forget that there were other targets that got hit too. Even the White House was apparently going to be a target for a fifth plane. Like most of the western world, I watched the aftermath on tv and cried as I watched. Even now, as I type this sentence, the memory of those people jumping to their doom, all hope gone, brings tears to my eyes. The 9/11 events were possibly the saddest most of us will ever see in our lives.

I have a couple of acquaintances that are conspiracy nuts, and every single thing that ever happens is a high-up conspiracy by someone, apparently. I firmly believe the truth stands on it's own, so I looked into all the 9/11 conspiracy stories so that I could intelligently argue against them - or agree with them, if the evidence suggested they were actually right. And everything I've read suggests that my initial reaction, that they were nuts, was correct.

Still, 5 years on, there are still a lot of questions that haven't been answered about 9/11. Chief among them is the basic question: "Why did the US go to war against Iraq in response to a terrorist attack by Afghanistan?" Could it have something to do with the fact that, by best estimates, the world has roughly 15 years of oil left, and Iraq has 65% of the world's remaining reserve? And why are the allies still in Iraq? Weren't we assured at the time that it was a quick in-out to stabilize the situation, and that the allies weren't going to become a long-term occupying force? What about all the financial links that Michael Moore made in Fahrenheit 9/11 between the Bush family and Saudi high finance? Sure Moore was as biased as biased can be, knew all the answers to his questions before he asked them and only made the documentary to show his own point of view - but then, that's what every documentary does.

Perhaps the most basic question we need to ask about 9/11 is this: Why, of all targets the terrorists could have chosen, was the US singled out as a target, and why did they hit at the heart of finance? What is it about the US that turns ordinary men into psychopaths who are willing to kill themselves and others to make a point? What can we do, as a tiny, fragile world, to make ourselves better, to bring peace to the world so that no man feels this sort of thing is acceptable?

Sadly, despite the predictions of many, many years of science fiction, I think we're still thousands of years away from that capacity, if it ever happens at all. And that's the saddest thought of all.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

New Blog

Many famous Christian books are also, unfortunately, hard to read because they use old, archaic English. One that almost every Christian has a copy of is CH Spurgeon's "Morning & Evening", a twice-daily devotional. I've created a new blog (this one will still continue to operate) in which I will attempt, day by day, to translate "Morning & Evening" into modern language. Whether you're a Christian or not, the lessons in "Morning & Evening" are well worth learning. I admit I'm no Spurgeon, and I hope that in trying to make the book accessible to modern audiences I'm not making him turn over in his grave. I trust I'll stick to the original essence of the lessons as much as possible, and certainly ask that people who feel I've failed or changed the meaning, tell me so. You can also find on the same blog links to an online version of the American Standard version of the Bible, as well as a FREE complete audio version of the Bible in MP3 format (not computer-read, and with music and dramatisation). Whatever your leanings toward Christianity, I urge you to check out my other blog and maybe learn a little more about life while you're there.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Brocky Makes a Hat-Trick

Well, rounding out the hat-trick of famous deaths this week is Peter Brock, possibly Oz's most famous racecar driver. For those who don't know what a hat-trick is, it's a term from the game of cricket where 3 people get out in a row (and for the really dumb, 'cricket' is that game where a bunch of over-paunched men stand in a paddock getting suntans and very, very occasionally throwing a ball at one man in the middle). Peter Brock's former partner, Beverley, says she had a premonition last week that he'd die in a car accident by running into a tree. Interestingly, the stingray who killed Steve Irwin during the week may also have had a premonition about Steve's death, but we'll never know because stingrays are too smart to spout crap like that to the media or anyone else.

You may have gathered I don't believe her. And the reason I don't is that she is just too specific, as well as the fact that she didn't tell anyone before the event. Any fan of Nostradamus knows one of the fundamentals of having convincing premonitions is to hide the message in completely unrelated gibberish so that no sane person could ever see a link between the the original prediction and the event. The secret is not to say, after the crash, 'I predicted that last week', but instead to ring the papers before the event and say something like 'Blossoms of the springtime cut in twain, the tree of life weeps'. Now that would have convinced me absolutely that she knew he was going to die.

Ex-Partner Spouts Crap
Nostadamus on

Friday, September 08, 2006

Optical Illusion

One of the better optical illusions I've seen, click on the link below and have a look at the full version of the Spanish castle. Stare at the dot for 20 or 30 seconds, then move the cursor into the picture area and it will be replaced by a BLACK & WHITE copy of the same image - but you'll see it in full colour!

False Colour Optical Illusion