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.