Thursday, December 31, 2009

It's not the world's fastest train when sitting still

One of China's new super-fast trains was brought to a 2 1/2 hour standstill by a tobacco addict who set off a smoke alarm. The smoker, presumably with cigarettes secreted in his undies, has not been caught. If a suspect is caught he'll likely be summarily executed; railroaded, if you will.

Toad gassing

Western Australia's Department of Environment and Conservation has directed Toad Busters to stop euthanising destructive cane toads with carbon dioxide, deeming the process cruel. Fortunately there are alternative, albeit inhumane, methods of sending the evil little critters to cane toad heaven. (Warning! Animal lovers might be offended.):


'Natural disaster' fire not natural at all

The devastating Toodyay fire that destroyed 38 homes is not the "natural disaster" Premier Colin Barnett says it is:

Western Power's managing director Doug Aberle says it appears likely a single wooden transformer pole fell to the ground and sparked the fire.

"The conclusion is that somehow or other, the pole came down and it was probably the conductor coming down with it that sparked the fire," he said.

That's not to say Western Power is to blame, of course. But the electric utility does have an ongoing powerline fire problem, as this from 2004 shows:

Western Australia's acting Premier, Eric Ripper, says he will not tolerate Western Power being bloody-minded about a blaze that caused the death of two women in the Great Southern region.

Last month's fire in Tenterden claimed the lives of 59-year-old Judith Ward and 46-year-old Lorraine Melia.

In a report released yesterday, independent watchdog Energy Safety blamed faulty powerlines owned by Western Power for the blaze.

And there are accusations of inadequate maintenance:

State Opposition energy spokeswoman Kate Doust says Western Power has an appalling record in infrastructure maintenance.

"They just shut down a number of their contracts for power pole maintenance in the last few weeks and we've lost almost 200 workers that are involved in doing more maintenance throughout the state," she said.

"So if those workers aren't doing the job, I don't know who's out there doing power pole maintenance.

"So my understanding is that Western Power still have about 70,000 poles outstanding and about 3,500 of them should be demolished."

If it is eventually determined that the Toodyay fire was caused by powerlines, Western Power needs to immediately act to compensate those affected rather than attempt to stonewall or pull one of those we-have-bottomless-pockets-go-ahead-and-sue-us-and-see-where-it-gets-you maneuvers.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Same race racism

Tiny penises to blame

A really interesting post from Atanu Dey about how Indians "don't like sex and don't have sex". See folks, the problem here is those tiny little Indian penises:

A survey of more than 1,000 men in India has concluded that condoms made according to international sizes are too large for a majority of Indian men.

The study found that more than half of the men measured had penises that were shorter than international standards for condoms.

Australians both enjoy sex and engage in it often. Massive they are.

How much airport security is enough?

On a recent visit to a Perth court I had to pass through a metal detector several times because it kept sounding an alarm - oh Jeez, another of Beck's personal stories. My pockets had already been emptied of coins and keys so I couldn't figure out what was going on. In the end the security guard determined that the foil paper in a pack of cigarettes in my back pocket was triggering the walk-through detector. Sure it was a hassle being detained while a potential security threat relating only to the safety of others was sorted out, but that's life.

Lots of people are having a big sad about enhanced security measures in the wake of the failed underwear bomber's attempt to bring down an airliner - a threat to all passengers on board the aircraft. A notable complainer is former Customs Officer Allan Kessling, who reckons that airport screening is pretty much "window dressing/PR so beloved of politicians and loathed by the public":

Public safety in air travel must not be compromised by commercial considerations, such as increased costs due to slower movement of passengers, baggage or cargo. However it is delusional to imagine that safety or security will be provided by extended restrictions on the overwhelming majority of the public. While 100% security is impossible, much is done, quietly and unobtrusively, by Customs and other federal agencies, using known and well tested risk assessment techniques.

In the case of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, several recognized risk factors, not including his father warning the authorities or being on a danger list, were obvious before he came within cooee of Lagos airport. Any one of these warning bells would have been deafening to Australian Customs, using current procedures and systems. More than one would have woken the dead.

Kessling does not elaborate on the "risk factors" that would have made the underwear bomber an obvious threat but he does oppose "racial profiling". He also doesn't state what level of security screening is appropriate. So, let's take a quick look at how Israel's El Al screens passengers:

Passengers are asked to report three hours before departure. All El Al terminals around the world are closely monitored for security. There are plain-clothes agents and fully armed police or military personnel who patrol the premises for explosives, suspicious behavior, and other threats. Inside the terminal, passengers and their baggage are checked by a trained team. El Al security procedures require that all passengers be interviewed individually prior to boarding, allowing El Al staff to identify possible security threats. Passengers will be asked questions about where they are coming from, the reason for their trip, their job or occupation, and whether they have packed their bags themselves. The likelihood of potential terrorists remaining calm under such questioning is believed to be low (see microexpression). At the check-in counter the passengers' passports and tickets are closely examined. A ticket without a sticker from the security checkers will not be accepted. At passport control passengers' names are checked against information from the FBI, Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Scotland Yard, Shin Bet, and Interpol databases. Luggage is screened and sometimes hand searched. In addition, bags are put through a decompression chamber simulating pressures during flight that could trigger explosives. El Al is the only airline in the world that passes all luggage through such a chamber. Even at overseas airports, El Al security agents conduct all luggage searches personally, even if they are supervised by government or private security firms.

Also, El Al is right into "profiling" and all flights are manned by plain-clothed armed security staff. Thus there has never been a successful terrorist attack on El Al.

Now whereas I agree that proposed rules that passengers not leave their seats during the last hour of a flight and have nothing on their laps are silly, I'm all for pre-boarding screening. But it does seem unlikely that a pat-down search is going to detect a small quantity of high-potency explosive hidden in a wearer's underwear. That seems to leave authorities with the choice of employing either full body searches or through-the-clothes scanning, both of which are regarded as overly intrusive.

El Al, being Israel's national carrier, does not have to operate at a profit. Commercial airlines do not have this luxury and must balance risks and costs. Mr Kessling seems to think that commercial airlines security is a superfluous farce and could be eliminated entirely. As someone who hasn't flown in over 20 years and has no plans of flying internationally anytime soon, I'm all for ripping out the metal detectors and other security devices and checks and relying exclusively on the experts who, according to Mr Kessling, are capable of intercepting a would be terrorist before he can get "within cooee" of an airport. Passengers will then be able to show up at the airport and get straight on that brand spanking new Airbus 380 without submitting to bothersome security formalities. Kaboom.

Mothers arrested for allegedly selling obscene photos of daughters

Japanese police have arrested a number of women charged with selling explicit photos of their daughters, ranging in age from 1 - 12. The circumstances aren't exactly clear but it seems that police became aware of the situation when one of the women complained that a male buyer failed to pay for photos received.

Obviously there isn't enough money to made from selling used panties.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Incompetence: it's the rule, not the exception

If you think your boss is incompetent you're probably right; the whole world is run by incompetents. Barack Obama is the perfect example. And chances are that you, if you've been in your job for a while, are incompetent too.

The Peter Principle specifies that people advance through a hierarchy until they reach their level of incompetence, where they remain, mismanaging and making their underlings miserable. The theory was first put forward in the 1969 book The Peter Principle : Why Things Always Go Wrong.

According to Mark Buchanan, writing in New Scientist, research proves the Peter Principle correct:

Promoting the best-performing employees merely takes people out of positions where they are doing well and pushes them upwards until they arrive at a position for which they lack the requisite skills. Their promotion history then comes to an end: the Peter principle wins out.

"The system locks incompetence into place," says sociologist Cesare Garofalo, one of the authors.

So the next time your boss does something stupid don't blame him, blame the incompetent who promoted him beyond his level of competence.

Going on a holiday to Bali? Leave the drugs at home

A former poltical candidate and would be union offical has been busted for trying to import drugs into Bali from Australia.

Indonesian authorities allegedly caught Robert Paul McJannett, 48, with two grams of marijuana in socks in his luggage at Denpasar Airport.

Officials say McJannett, a crane operator, was initially uncooperative following his arrest, attempting to flush the marijuana down a toilet.

He had been detained after arriving in Bali with his 21-year-old son on a Virgin Blue flight from Perth on Monday night.

Given the publicity surrounding past drug arrests and harsh prison sentences it's a mystery why anyone would seek to import drugs into Bali. Just stupid, I guess.

Surfing Namotu (Fiji)

My younger son surfs the breaks around Namotu, a highly recommended destination for anyone into water sports.




Shallow reef breaks are dangerous, even for very experienced surfers.


Would-be bomber's undies failed to explode

Sewn into the underpants of would be plane bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was 80 grams of highly explosive PETN - photo and more info here. There will now be a rash of explosive underwear jokes - is that a bomb in your jocks or are you just glad to see me?

Anyway, it's a real shame the bomb didn't partially explode; you know, just enough to blow the Islamonutters dangly bits into heaven without him - those 72 virgins would no doubt have a good laugh. That would have discouraged any such future attempts.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Sly gynecological exams conducted on unconscious women

Anaesthetised females are at the mercy of medical staff who might want to have a look around:

An anonymous source told Aftonbladet that it is common for students to perform gynaecological examinations without the patient's consent. "This occurs systematically," the source said.

Woman knows her place

Olympic hurdler Jana Rawlinson has a post-separation epiphany:

Rawlinson has opened up to Woman's Day, revealing that she begged Chris for a second chance after discovering he had started seeing another woman following the end of their marriage.

"I knew instantly I was about to lose my husband forever, and I'd already worked out I didn't want that," Rawlinson has told the magazine.

"I felt sick at the thought of him with anyone else."

It took six weeks of begging a guarded Chris to give her another chance before he allowed her back into his life.

Many women never reach this stage of enlightenment. How unfortunate.

An extra added bonus: a photo gallery of Rawlinson before and after breast augmentation.

Rape as art

Okay audience, everyone put on your thinking caps and concentrate on coming up with a defence for famous movie director Roman Polanski allegedly having sex with a 13-year-old girl. You have five minutes to discuss this before I ask each group its recommendation.

Time's up. The group on the far Left, what have you come up with? What's that you say?

Defending Polanski is entirely consistent with the defence of artistic freedom.

Hold your calls folks, we have a winner.

Via Tim Blair

Ground vulture brain: The key to winning lotto

No one seems to have noticed that vulture brain smokers don't win lotto:

The traditional medicinal practice of smoking dried vulture brains to induce a vision of winning lotto numbers is killing off the bird's population in South Africa, researchers say. .... Rolled into a cigarette or inhaled as vapours, vulture brains can also help at the horse races, boost an exam performance, or lure more clients to a business, according to believers.

Unfortunately, smoking dried vulture brain does induce a craving for rotting flesh. Oh well, pass me some of that rhino horn and the bear bile gravy.

Mother Nature says, 'Don't forget to eat your meat'

Ever watch a video of wolves or African dogs hunting? Small prey is no problem but canines aren't really equipped for quickly despatching large animals which end up being overwhelmed and slowly torn apart and devoured still struggling and screaming. See, that's the thing about Mother Nature, she provides beautiful flower-filled meadows, delightful spring days, majestic mountains, cute frolicking bunnies, colourful melodious birds and myriad wonders to delight our senses, but she's also a fickle brutal bitch.

There are a million and one things out in nature all too keen to bite, envenom, kill, kick, stab, burrow through the skin, live inside, suck blood, swallow, infect, etc., whatever animal is available. Then there are the so called acts of God: floods, avalanches, droughts, fires, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, storms and so on. Life in the wild is fraught with peril and tends to be short and brutal, the end often coming slowly and excruciatingly. We might shake our heads at the horror of it all but, since such events are part of nature's scheme, wouldn't think of intervening.

Why then must vegetarians continually object to the meat eating habits of others? It's great that non-meat eaters have forsaken the food that gave humans the brainpower that enabled us to debate the merits of meat-eating but, really, the constant preaching has gone beyond tiresome.

More people are becoming aware of the atrocious conditions that factory farmed animals live in, as well as the shocking cruelty inflicted on them. This is largely due to revelations in the media showing what really goes on behind the closed doors of intensive animal farming.

Life is full of atrociousness; get over it. I think I know what goes on at these factory farms - I've been to a poultry processing plant - but that's not going to stop me eating meat any more than knowing what really goes on during a surgical procedure is going to stop me seeking life-prolonging medical intervention or even more brutal dental treatment.

For the truly enlightened Lefty there is only one thing worse than a factory farm - a caring, sharing Lefty organic farmer who takes good care of his animals and kills them as humanely as is humanly possible:

As we enter not only a new year, but a new decade, it's time to refocus our attention on challenging our use, not just our treatment of animals. No animal goes willingly to the slaughterhouse, happy for their corpse to be served on a plate. There is nothing humane about slitting a sentient being's throat - regardless of whether it's been raised in a factory farm or pasture.

Yeah well, I didn't want to pay my divorce lawyer either but didn't really have a choice. Meat is what makes us human. Any brachiator can gather fruit. Dumb-as-they-come kangaroos are vegetarians. Catching and killing large game required teamwork. Weapon making spurred technological development. Cooking and communal eating added a new social dimension to human existence. And the high protein content enabled our brains and bodies to become bigger and more capable.

If you choose not to eat meat I admire and respect you. It is unnatural, however. So please do us omnivores a big favour by showing us the same respect by shutting the Hell up about it. Being vegetarian makes you odd; not a hero.

Doctors push for massive cigarette price hike

Doctors want cigarette prices raised to AU$20 a pack to encourage smokers to give up the filthy habit. Coming up will be taxes meant to discourage the consumption of unhealthful fatty and sugary foods. Those who continue to smoke can take satisfaction from knowing that they're doing their little part in helping out the government:

That's why we're encouraging the state Government to introduce the tobacco transaction levy, which would give the Victorian State Government an extra $3 billion a year just in Victoria alone, which would allow us to fund a lot of the shortfall in our public hospital expenditure.

Surely a huge chunk of public medical expenditure goes to pay doctors, and quite handsomely to. Perhaps it would be appropriate for doctors to voluntarily take pay cuts. I mean, considering what doctors are able to make a lot of them could take huge pay cuts and still live like kings. And think of the environmental benefits: the sales of fuel-guzzling luxury cars would plummet.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

India's Hugh Hefner videoed in action

A politician is at once disgraced and greatly admired, by other males, at least:

A senior Congress leader and governor of a southern Indian state resigned after an alleged sex scandal in another blow to the ruling Congress party which is facing protests over statehood demands there.

Governor N.D. Tiwari, a top representative of India's president in Andhra Pradesh state, resigned late on Saturday after a local television channel aired a video of the 86-year-old Congress leader allegedly in bed with three young women.

At almost 90 it wouldn't have been quite a romp but you gotta give the guy credit for gameness.

Korea accuses Japan of aiming to claim rocks

Korea has an ongoing problem with what it perceives as Japan's refusal to own up to past aggression. Amongst other things, Korea accused Japan of sanitising history by teaching students that its forces "advanced" on the Asian mainland rather than "invading" it. A subtle difference, but important to Koreans nonetheless.   

There is also an ongoing dispute about ownership of the Dokdo rocks, a group of islets occupying 0.18745 square kilometres. The row has flared anew with Japanese hints that the ownership of Dokdo - currently administered by Korea - is open to dispute.

Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan called in Japanese Ambassador to Seoul Toshinori Shigeie to deliver a message of protest against Japan's renewed plan to teach its students about its claim to sovereignty over Korea's Dokdo islets, according to a ministry official Friday.

Earlier in the day, the government expressed regret over the move, but has yet to decide on other measures to deal with the claim, such as recalling South Korean Ambassador to Japan.

"No matter what claim Tokyo makes, our government stresses once again that there is no territorial dispute between the two sides," foreign ministry spokesman Moon Tae-young said.

The statement came hours after Japan released a teaching manual for high school teachers, which is non-binding but affects textbook publishers as well.

There is more to this dispute over useless rocks than just historical animosity, however; the area around the islets is thought to hold large reserves of gas.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Turn up the lights, the movie is coming on

According to Antony Loewenstein Gazans must endure multiple deprivations: not enough food, water, gas, diesel, building materials, electricity and so on. In the title of a recent post he tries to make a point about electricity shortages, instead providing an example of the unintentional humour he's rightly famous for:

Watching cinema in the dark in Gaza

Which is how anyone with even half a brain watches a movie. The linked story concerns an Arab film festival but also takes a swipe at Israel, of course:

Last Thursday marked the end of a one-week film festival in Gaza City. The Palestinian Film Forum, an independent Palestinian community organization, sponsored the event with 33 films produced in six Arab Gulf states. Ranging from documentaries to educational and short films, this is the first film festival in Gaza since Israel placed the territory under a tight blockade more than 30 months ago.

A Gaza film festival is a tad ironic in any event since the strip has no cinemas. Jeez, you mean those evil Israelis don't want Palestinians trapped in Gaza watching movies so they bombed all of the cinemas? Not exactly:

Gaza used to have six major movie houses, but all were shut down because Palestinian activists felt entertainment was inappropriate at a time of struggle.

A movie house called al-Nasser was only reopened in 1995 for three months before being burned and destroyed by radical Hamas protestors in Gaza.

It looks like they'll have to wait until it comes out on DVD.

Al Qaeda linked to "fireworks" incident on flight to Detroit

Nigerian-born Abdul Mudallad is reported to have told investigators the explosive he attempted to ignite on a Northwest Airlines flight as it approached Detroit was provided by al Qaeda operatives in Yemen. The explosive is described as a mixture of powder and liquid. Whatever it was he was able to get it past security.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Leftover Christmas food? Give it to your dog

With their keen noses dog can sniff a prospective meal and instantly decide if it's safe to eat. And with their digestive systems set up to handle carrion and other foods that would kill a human, dogs can eat just about anything, no matter how it looks or smells. Dogs aren't as good at disposing of waste food as pigs are but it's a pretty close run race.

Dogs avoid leafy vegetables like cabbage and lettuce but other than that they'll eat just about anything that has a bit of meat added to it. You shouldn't give your dog lots of sweets, onions or chocolate but other than that any Christmas leftovers that are a bit iffy can go to Fido; if he eats it, it's probably not a worry.  So rather than dump any expensive leftover Christmas food in the bin see if your dog will eat it. He'll love you for it and you'll save money on dog food.

The best movies of all time

I may not know what's good but I know what I like. After number one they're in no particular order.

  1. Dr Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb - Apocolyptic nuclear doom that shouldn't appeal to a conservative but does because it's amazingly well executed. (Many younger viewers won't be able to appreciate it being unaware of what the 1960s were like.)

  2. The Maltese Falcon - Worth watching just to hear Bogart say, "When you're slapped, you'll take it and like it."

  3. Alien - The "chest-burster" scared the crap out of me.

  4. Chinatown - Long and slow but finely crafted, you gotta pay attention from start to finish.

  5. Fargo - The high point of Joel and Ethan Coen's comedic perversity.

  6. Miller's Crossing - Albert Finney is bullet-proof and his Tommy-gun never runs out of bullets (perhaps the single best movie scene ever).

  7. Kung fu/Kung fu Hustle - Very strange, entertaining and often very funny Chinese-produced martial arts action.

  8. Heat - Robert de Niro as the "bad guy" and Al Pacino as the cop trying to catch him. It's hard to know who to root for.

  9. 300 - Who cares if it's accurate history, it's stunning. Sometimes a man has just gotta do what a man has gotta do.

  10. Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) - Charles Laughton is Captain Bligh.

  11. The Verdict - Paul Newman plays a down and out lawyer given one last chance to redeem himself. Co-stars James Mason and an oddly sexy Charlotte Rampling.

  12. Notorious - Directed by Alfred Hitchcock starring Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains. What more could you want?

  13. Goodfellas - The gangster movie, by Scorsese, of course.

  14. North by Northwest - Is Eva Marie Saint a deadly seductress or a damsel in distress? Who cares, she's hot, and Cary Grant knows it.

  15. Lawrence of Arabia - The epic movie.

  16. A Clockwork Orange - Visually stunning futuristic black humour from Stanley Kubrick.

  17. Die Hard - Bruce Willis kicks "terrorist" arse. The original and still the best.

  18. The Usual Suspects - Who is Keyser Soze?

  19. Singin' in the Rain - The musical.

  20. Witness for the Prosecution - Beware the scorned lover.

  21. To Have and Have Not - A great movie worth watching just for the Bogart - Bacall chemistry.

Don't like my choices? Make your own list.

Avatar director James Cameron doesn't do f**king autographs

A keen Cameron fan makes a big mistake in politely asking the Canadian-born director to sign an Avatar poster, a task requiring mere seconds:

I don't owe you a f**king signature . . . just get out of my f**king personal space.

The fan, f**king unimpressed, f**king retaliates.

Read it here. View it here.


Christmas, the perfect time for a lawsuit

Santa Rosa, California resident Irv Sutle is considering suing Sonoma County. Yeah well, just about everyone has wanted to sue the government over something at least once. So, what's got Irv upset? Some zoning law issue? Fascistic parking inspectors? A cutback in vital services? Nope, stars and angels decorating Christmas trees in county buildings. And why do angels and stars so bother Irv? Because they are a ''real slap in the face to agnostics, atheists and every person who believes in the separation of church and state.'' Irv is in serious need of a life.

Hugo Chavez: Comunista loco

At Copenhagen the Venezuelan President launched a stinging attack on capitalism, which must be destroyed before it destroys Pachamama (Mother Earth). On the other hand he now attacks Toyota for not producing enough planet-destroying, carbon-belching four wheel drive vehicles. Chavez es un comunista loco o muy borracho quizá otra vez.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Christmas is a special time when even those of us who aren't religious feel warm, compassionate and giving and people we've never met, and likely won't meet again, wish us a Merry Christmas. These sentiments are great, of course, but we often forget that many within the community will have anything but a Merry Christmas. Millions of people around the world, especially children, will have nothing to celebrate. There will be no presents or celebratory feast. December 25th will be just another day of trying to survive hunger, poverty, abusive parents, whatever.

I therefore suggest that we think long and hard about the little things we can do to help others. It won't cost us much and we have plenty to spare anyway.

To all of the staff, contributors to and readers of Asian Correspondent I wish a Merry Christmas and a healthy and prosperous New Year. And all the best to those who don't celebrate Christmas -- I'm drinking a beer for you as I type.

Anyway, I'm not trying to end the year on a downer; just trying to point out that ultimately it's much more satisfying to give than it is to receive.

And why can't we name our son Allah?

Unless you're filthy rich and able to give your offspring a childhood sheltered from peer teasing you're probably going to opt for a name that's not too unusual. The most common Australian baby names for 2008 were:

Top 10

Boys: Jack, William, Lachlan, Joshua, Riley, Thomas, Cooper, Oliver, James and Ethan.

Girls: Mia, Chloe, Isabella, Charlotte, Emily, Ella, Olivia, Sienna, Ava and Sophie.

Child-hating parents do choose less typical names, however:

In the latest battle over what people may legally call their children, the Swedish Tax Authority (Skatteverket) has ruled that the parents of a two-month-old boy in Skåne in southern Sweden may not call their child Allah.

Other names picked by Swedish parents seeking to doom their children: Metallica, Google, Q, Token and Michael Jackson.

Science solves Christmas dinner novelty problem

For those not in the know Wikipedia offers this description of Christmas crackers:

Christmas crackers or bon-bons are an integral part of Christmas celebrations in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and other Commonwealth countries as well as countries of the former Soviet Union (where it is called "хлопушка"). A cracker consists of a cardboard tube wrapped in a brightly decorated twist of paper, making it resemble an oversized sweet-wrapper. The cracker is pulled by two people, and, much in the manner of a wishbone, the cracker splits unevenly. The split is accompanied by a small bang produced by the effect of friction on a chemically impregnated card strip (similar to that used in a cap gun).

In one version of the tradition the person with the larger portion of cracker empties the contents from the tube and keeps them. In another each person will have their own cracker and will keep its contents regardless of whose end they were in. Typically these contents are a coloured paper hat or crown; a small toy or other trinket and a motto, a joke or piece of trivia on a small strip of paper. Crackers are often pulled before or after Christmas dinners or at parties.

Scientists having suffered the indignity of getting the short end of the cracker were keen that they should never again eat Christmas dinner hatless so they applied themselves to the "problem". Hundreds of man-hours later:

British researchers say they have devised a guaranteed method of pulling crackers, to avoid disappointment at the dinner table this Christmas.

The researchers say the method for always winning the long end of the cracker, and therefore the prize inside, is in the angle that you grip it.

They have released a mathematical formula to follow to guarantee success.

The formula, O11xC/L+5xQ, is based on the angle, grip and quality of the cracker.

You must first multiply the circumference of the cracker in inches (C) by 11 before dividing that number by the length (L) of the barrel.

Take that total and add it to the figure you get when you multiply the quality (Q) by five.

The quality is either one, two or three, depending on whether the cracker is cheap, standard or premium.

The formula ought to produce a figure between 20 and 55 degrees, which is the optimum pulling angle (O).

The cracker should also be pulled one inch from the end of the tail, newspapers said.

As if drunken holiday-makers will be carrying a micrometer, a protractor and a calculator. Just pull the God-damned thing, hope for the best and ask for a top-up on your wine.

Word for the day: Orwellian

Sure commies are ruthless do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do-or-you-get-a-bullet-in-the-back-of-the-neck totalitarians but when you don't have to live under them they're ever so entertaining -- their attempted manipulation of language is hilarious. Take North Korea, a totalitarian state if ever there was one, yet it's billed by its leadership as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Of course it's democratic; the people get to decide which dirt and grass to eat when the shelves in the government store are bare, again. Meat? Yeah, I've heard of it...

Anyway, Fidel Castro, the far Left's favourite retired octogenarian dictator, had an opinion piece in The Age the other day that's an Orwellian comedy classic. In it he argues that "Mother Earth" must be saved from capitalism, "the culture of death" but in the very next paragraph demands that "the culture of death" start delivering big wads of cash to the deprived, like those unfortunate enough to live under central planning mismanagement, especially now that there's no Soviet Union to prop up the dysfunctional economy:

[Bolivian President Evo] Morales described as "ridiculous" the figure of $10 billion offered per year up until 2012 when, in reality, hundreds of billions of dollars are needed every year.

Yep, let's take up a collection for the Cuban basket-case. Granted that's more ironic than funny but Castro soon launches into the humour in earnest:

The Danish police are resorting to brutal methods to crush resistance [at the Copenhagen conference]; many protesters are being preventively arrested. I spoke on the phone with our Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, who was at a solidarity rally in Copenhagen with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales, Cuban Vice-President Estenban Lazo and other ALBA representatives. I asked him who those people were that the Danish police suppressed with such hate, twisting back their arms and beating them repeatedly across the back. He said they were Danish citizens and people from other European nations as well as members of the social movements who were demanding from the summit an immediate solution to deal with climate change.

A lecture on human rights from a former dictator whose government ruthlessly crushed any and all political opposition. But there's more;

Our comrades in the Danish capital told us an even worse situation occurred on Friday, Decembe 18. At 10am the UN Summit was adjourned for two hours while the Danish Prime Minister Rasmussen met 20 heads of state invited by him to discuss "global problems" with US President Barack Obama. That was what they called the meeting, which was aimed at imposing an agreement on climate change.

Even though all of the official delegations are to take part, only "invited guests" were allowed to express their views. Of course, neither Hugo Chávez nor Evo Morales are among those entitled to express their opinions.

Chavez and Morales not being allowed to speak is worse than police beating protesters and arresting them pre-emptively? Right. Give Chavez the Microphone? Nobody in his right mind want to listen to that pig-faced authoritarian megalomaniacal nut-job talk complete and utter commie crap about nothing in particular for three or four hours -- talk about cruel and unusual punishment. But the transcendent humour is yet to come:

As television channels have broadcast the footage, the world has been able to see the fascist methods used against the people in Copenhagen. The protesters, young people in the main, who have been repressed, have earned the solidarity of the peoples.

Despite the manoeuvres and unprincipled lies of the leaders of the empire, the moment of truth is drawing closer. Their own allies are increasingly losing confidence in them. In Mexico, as in Copenhagen or anywhere else in the world, they will be met by the growing resistance of the peoples who have not lost the hope of surviving.

And what of those Cubans who resisted and ended up imprisoned or shot? Did they hope to survive or were they resigned to their fates? But, you know, you can't make an omelet without breaking some eggs or shooting a few thousand people to set an example.


When in doubt, deep fry it

Apply a little ingenuity and anything can be deep fried. Strawberries, pickles, pizza, cheesecake, macaroni and cheese, jelly beans, you name it and it's been battered and immersed in hot fat. Deep fried butter, yummy.

Via Instapundit

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mystery item

See if you can guess to which common article the following properties are important - it sounds like a diamond-studded condom but isn't:

It has excellent elongation and elastic recovery and its ability to stretch is important, along with the flexibility, abrasion resistance and strength.

The mystery item costs AU$1,120 (US$981). Answer here.

'Death threats' sell books

Israel critic Antony Loewenstein's life is frequently threatened, or so we are told ad nauseam. None of these threats have ever been published, at least not as far as I know, and there are no death threats amongst the nasty letters cited by Loewenstein:

For the record, I only publish the most vile/challenging/hilarious mail here. Rest assured, I also receive many supportive messages.

Yep, from Jew and Israel-hating weirdos from both fringes of the political spectrum.

Could it be that these death threats don't exist and are but a ploy to help increase the sales of his books? Yes.

Children: Australia's future

Via Tim Blair, the full text of the six year-old's letter quoted by Prime Minister Rudd at the Nohopeochangen conference. Little Gracie restores my confidence in Australia's leaders of tomorrow.

Lights out in Venezuela

Venezuela sits on huge petroleum reserves with its economy dependent on oil exports, mostly to the United States. Despite these vast energy resources the Chavez government has recently decreed compulsory energy conservation measures:

Venezuela has imposed sweeping power cuts on industry and businesses in order to save its limited energy resources and avoid mass blackouts.

The government said the cuts were because of falling water levels at the Guri Hydroelectric dam, which supplies much of the country's power.

Limited energy resources? Gee, maybe putting all their domestic energy production eggs in the environmentally-friendly-power-source-basket was a mistake. It certainly looks that way when there's a power shortage at home while huge amounts of energy are being exported. Oh well, this is what happens when enlightened leftists are given a mandate to run things. We have so much to look forward to when the United Nations central-planners are running the planet.

Whale war goes high tech

This year's skirmishing between Sea Shepherd hippies and Japanese whalers began in typical fashion with the beatniks throwing bottles of rancid butter and the Japanese responding with sonic weapons and water cannon. The whale-savers were prepared, however, holding in reserve a radar-evading stealth boat and photonic disrupters. Oh my God, Japanese photons are going to be disrupted! Actually, photonic disrupter is geek-talk for an eyeball frying laser. Yikes! It's gotta be difficult to drive a boat while wearing welder's goggles. I hope there aren't any collisions.

In response to the high seas hijinks Shadow Environment spokesman Greg Hunt demands immediate government intervention:

Now is the time, this is the moment, this is the day for the Australian Government and Mr Garrett in particular to make clear that this summer, the Australian whale sanctuary will not be violated by Japanese whalers.

Great, except that Australia's claim to the waters in question is dubious at best, so the Japanese are well within their rights to tell us to mind our own business. And really, why should we care? If the Japanese enjoy shooting whales and eating their blubber, so what? It's not like our big-brained aquatic cousins are going to be wiped out. And anyway Australia regularly culls camels, water buffalo and kangaroos by the thousands -- my dogs are partial to lean but tasty roo meat. So perhaps we should just mind our own business and leave the Japanese to it.

Regardless, the Americans, and probably also the Israelis, will no doubt eventually become involved in the escalating tecnological war in the southern ocean as a testing ground for new weapons. So be prepared for the introduction of particle beam weapons, phasers and photon torpedoes. Your boat sank in a blinding flash of light? Don't look at me; I was out walking the dog. Odd? Not at all; he's a water spaniel.



India boasts of scuttling climate talks

A proud announcement of new-found international muscle:

India has confirmed it worked with China and other emerging nations to ensure there were no legally binding targets from the Copenhagen climate talks.

Facing parliament for the first time since the UN talks last weekend in the Danish capital, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said India had "come out quite well in Copenhagen".

Although India won't do all that well if carbon emissions are changing world climate - the country could be severly affected. Time will tell.

Anyway, it looks like the days of western hegemony are well and truly gone:

From day one, an impression gained ground that a cabal was going to dictate the terms as far as the Copenhagen meeting was concerned.

In your face bossy white guys.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Poverty summiteers travel in style

Sweden recently hosted the European Development Days, a five-day summit meeting of EU ministers discussing poverty and climate change. Attendees thumbed their noses at both the poor and the environment, Sweden stuck with a 3.5 million kronor ($480,000) bill for limousine services. Most of the climate change-conscious ministers flew to the summit, of course.

Baby rescued from sauna

A 34 year-old Sydney mother is in trouble with authorities for allowing her 18 month-old child to experience the invigorating, toxin-eliminating health benefits of a makeshift sauna:

Police are investigating after an 18-month-old baby was left inside a car with the windows closed in Sydney's north-west today.

Thank God the woman was smart enough not to leave the family dog in the car.

Ragendra Pachauri climate-aware but not self-aware

Ragendra Pachauri is the United Nations' grand poobah of climate change; when he speaks the world should listen. It's impossible to take him seriously on matters of global climate, however, since he's unaware of what's happening on top of his own head. Maybe he doesn't own a mirror.

Photo: Wikipedia

Slips of the tongue produce multiple orgasms

Jason Wood the Federal Member for La Trobe and Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Justice and Public Security - which means he's Liberal, not Labor - has a very public moment he'd like to forget.

Mother Earth's problems solved

Far Left Bolivian lunatic Evo Morales knows how to fix the multiple problems confronting humankind:

These are things that cannot just be solved with money. We have to resolve problems of life and humanity. And that’s the problem that planet earth faces today. And this means ending capitalism.

With the advent of Morales's communist utopia all human progress must stop:

Living better is to exploit human beings. It’s plundering natural resources. It’s egoism and individualism. Therefore, in those promises of capitalism, there is no solidarity or complementarity. There’s no reciprocity. So that’s why we’re trying to think about other ways of living lives and living well, not living better. Not living better. Living better is always at someone else’s expense. Living better is at the expense of destroying the environment.

Let's all live well on a collective farm. The razor wire? That keeps out marauding cabbage-eating rabbits. Some pretty scary thoughts roam the wide open spaces inside commie heads.

Money might not be the solution but that doesn't stop Morales demanding a mountain of it from evil capitalists while they're still around:

The best thing would be that all war spending be directed towards climate change, instead of spending it on troops in Iraq, in Afghanistan or the military bases in Latin America. This money would be better directed to attending to the damages that were created by the United States. And, of course, this isn’t just $100 billion; this is probably trillions and trillions of dollars.

Morales will be only to happy to hold the cash in his Swiss bank account, you know, for safe keeping, until he figures out how best to spend it for the benefit of all humanity.

'Tis the season to be Tasered

Some Australians do go a bit nutty at Christmas. It's hot and people drink lots of alcohol - there is no better way to celebrate Jesus's birth - which inevitably leads to biffo. And for Ocker hoons an audience full of kids is the ideal venue:

A Sydney police officer has Tasered a man during a Christmas carols event after being punched in the face and surrounded by an angry crowd.

No doubt the kiddies found the impromptu spectacle stunning, as did the 18-year-old puncher.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Europe leaves it to others to take the lead on climate change

Australians have heard it again and again: We must set an example for the world by cutting emissions! We must lead! It's a great responsibility but we must do it! If we make big cuts to our carbon emissions others will follow!

Okay, how about those environmentally concerned, trend-setting Europeans, who outnumber us by like 20 to one?

The European Union in the end did not make the leap from a 20 percent cut in emissions to 30 percent, reckoning that the other reduction offers on the table were not sufficiently ambitious.

They're not stupid, leaving the leading to others. China has global ambitions, maybe they should be out front showing how it's done. Nah, ain't gonna happen.

Andrew Bartlett is wrong

Andrew Bartlett gets it wrong in his most recent AC post:

People are entitled to believe that the main scientific opinion regarding climate change is wrong, but with governments from virtually every country – as well as most scientists and the majority of the public - believing otherwise, the debate now has to be focussed 100 percent on what actions now need to be taken.

It is by no means certain that any money spent attempting to halt or even slow climate change will be money well spent. The way it looks, the planet is going to warm no matter what. So perhaps money would be better spent on adapting to a warmer Earth. Or perhaps expenditures should be calculated on the most cost effective mix of carbon emission reductions and climate change adaptations.

Total focus on emissions reductions is a classic example of "putting all of your eggs in one basket". If this money was to be spent on a certainty, fine, but it isn't.

There simply isn't enough money to both attempt to halt climate change and to fund strategies designed to help those most affected cope with a changing climate. The risks and benefits need to be carefully considered and funds allocated for the greatest overall benefit.

Climate change: The long, dark shadow of doom

Clive Hamilton, perhaps Australia's highest profile "public intellectual", predicts the dire consequence of Copenhagen's bureaucratic dithering:

Despite the genuflection to the two degree target in the [Copenhagen] accord document, the actions pledged by the major emitters mean that the world is now confirmed on the path to a four-degree world.

That a catastrophic rise in temperature is inevitable is recognized by every person on the planet. Well, not quite all:

Everyone seems to understand this except Tim Flannery, who has praised the accord as a good outcome that has made "huge advances". With his bizarre interpretations, frequent blunders and repeated changes of position, Flannery has become the butt of jokes among the cognoscenti, although that won't cool the ABC's ardour for the former Australian of the Year.

Yeah, like fringe Leftist Hamilton isn't the subject of ridicule - he may be a genius but he doesn't edit all that well, describing himself as "ther Greens candidate in the by-election for the federal seat of Higgins." No biggy for certain but surely the uber-intelligent must be held to a higher performance standard than us non-intellectual pontificators.

Back on topic. For Hamilton the problem isn't those loony climate change-denying conservatives. Nope, the problem is deluded, well meaning Leftists like Flannery who aren't out there with Hamilton way beyond the Left horizon in Narnia or Oz or wherever it is he hangs out when not spouting doom and gloom. You see, with Lefties like Flannery breaking ranks the cognoscenti (without doubt 100 percent progressives) is never going to be able to convince the public to let the United Nations run the planet.

And why exactly was Hamilton overlooked for Australian of the Year, the gong going instead to know-nothing Flannery? Life is so unfair.

Anyway, you'll note that non-scientist Hamilton predicts a four degree temperature rise. On what science does he base that figure? Do a bit of looking around and you'll find temperature rise predictions ranging from two to seven degrees, with new predictions popping up just about daily. These conflicting predictions tell me the science isn't as settled as we're led to believe. The climate wonks really should get in email contact with one another to sort this out.

Workers attempt to run down protesters

Environmental protesting can be dangerous:

Coal power station workers this morning tried to run down protesters picketing against climate change in Collie.

A group of anti-coal demonstrators waving placards, banners and a blow-up dinosaur in front of the Muja power station were targeted by some workers arriving for the early morning shift.

Hard working Australians do not take kindly to hippies trying to prevent them doing their jobs. (Warning! The attached video contains much swearing.)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Too much opinion, in my opinion

With the introduction of The Drum, Australia's publicly funded national broadcaster, the ABC, is serving up online a great slab of opinion-based journalism masquerading as news. Too much opinion, as I see it.

Get pregnant: Go to jail

The U.S. Army will jail female soldiers who become pregnant while serving in Iraq. This is a response to females who become pregnant in order to have themselves removed from Iraq. Impregnators will also face jail time. Anyone silly enough to use an unborn baby as a pawn deserves to go to jail.

How to have an environmentally friendly Christmas

The Beck family is having a green Christmas this year - follow our lead and you too can help save the planet.

A potted tree is much "greener" than a factory produced plastic tree. Go one better by using a pot plant - you can smoke the best bits thus reducing your need to consume environmentally unfriendly alcohol and compost the leftover bits for your organic garden. And if you grow a really healthy pot plant there's no need to decorate it; your friends will be very impressed with a six-foot beauty covered in buds.

Walk to the nearest organic produce shop and buy a box of locally grown organic apples, which are great as both decorations and gifts - getting an apple is better than underwear. Rather than wrap an apple make it festive by using a nail to inscribe "Merry Christmas" on its surface.

If you must wrap gifts use only paper saved from past festive events - you did plan ahead, didn't you? Instead of sticky tape use little dabs of locally produced organic honey to seal packages.

Do not drive or fly anywhere. Walk, ride a bike or take the train - a few gift apples are easier to lug around than is a plasma TV and other bulky gifts.

If you must drive, tightly wrap your contribution to the festive meal in aluminium foil (it can be reused many times, if you're careful) and place it in the engine compartment where it will cook enroute. Potatoes strapped to the exhaust with the copper wire from stripped discarded electric cords will bake on the way.

Instead of turkey serve easily snared seagulls. They can be a bit tough and stringy but the exotic seafood overtones make the extra chewing worth the effort. Those living really close to the ocean can catch crabs for the big lunch. On a typically hot Christmas day a blue manna will cook in the mid-day sun on pavement in about two hours, with really big ones taking maybe a bit longer. Like seagulls, kangaroos are easily snared and great for feeding a crowd. But you will need to be careful since a roo can put up quite a fight. A cricket bat or robust tree limb makes a great roo pacifier.

Dandelions and many other wild plants are tasty and nutritious. Do the right thing by washing them in grey water - waste water from clothes washing has soap already in it.

Christmas lights waste electricity. For outside decorations take an old CD you're never going to listen to again and snap it in half. Use one of the pointy bits of the broken CD to scratch festive sentiments into the windows facing the street. When finished use recycled string to hang the broken CD bits outside in the sun where they will glitter and glisten.

Make a refreshing fruit punch using plums (locally grown, organic only!). Place the plums in the laundry sink and mash them - it's best to have a small child tromp around on them for a few minutes but I don't have one of those so I use an old brick saved for just this purpose. Add water  - grey water is not especially good for this - to fully cover the pulp and let stand until the slurry stops bubbling, probably about a week. Skim off the foam and your punch is ready to enjoy and like expensive store bought concotions has chunks of fruit in it. The alcohol content should be around 10 percent. Drink a liter or so of this punch and then reread all of my tips above - they'll make perfect sense.

Merry Christmas.

Prisoners beaten to death

The U.S. government will be deeply embarrassed by new revelations of further abuses at Abu Ghraib prison where three prisoners are confirmed to have died after "a series of beatings". It is also alleged that a number of prisoners, both male and female, were raped by interrogators. These allegations were denied. The government did acknowledge that some 30 were killed as they were being apprehended and that several hundred remain behind bars. Five of those detained have been sentenced to death for engaging in "anti-government activities." This is yet more proof that white imperialist American aggressors regard conquered dark-skinned people as something less than human.

The deaths and rapes above actually occured in Iran's Kahrizak detention centre. The victims had been arrested following protests related to the suspect re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Iranian government now admits that its earlier claim that the protesters died of meningitis was incorrect, that is, a whopping great lie. Unfortunately, there are as of yet no photos of the abuses for the entire Muslim world to get worked up about. But even without photos these revelations are certain to provoke outrage: Muslims beating Muslims to death is so un-Islamic.

In happier news, a polygamy club in Indonesia is having no trouble recruiting new members.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Copenhagen accord reached: We're screwed

It's time to buy a shotgun, stock up on baked beans and head for higher ground:

Western leaders began to leave Copenhagen in the early hours of Saturday morning, claiming to have secured a global agreement to keep global warming below two degrees Celsius. But the deal provoked immediate anger for failing to include concrete measures to reach that target, and scientists at the talks said it would set the world on a path to 3.5 degrees of warming by 2100.

Like anyone with an IQ over 70 seriously thought any meaningful agreement would come out of the Copenhagen talk-a-thon.

Cold traps 2,000 in channel-tunnel

Western Europe is really cold at the moment. It's so cold that Nicolas Sarkozy's tongue is stuck to... oops, wrong story. It's so cold that super-fast Mission Impossible French trains are breaking down in the channel-tunnel, trapping more than 2,000 people underground. For a train going 0 kph making it from France to England is indeed Mission Impossible. Bet they could go for some of that global warming right at this moment.

Copenhagen really about people, people who need people

It is widely known that Prime Minister Rudd scheduled his Copenhagen visit so he could be close to Obama. It now emerges that Mr Rudd hoped to achieve more than just a climate agreement, this little secret revealed by Greenpeace's Steve Campbell:

Kevin Rudd has said that he went to Copenhagen to get a legally bonding outcome.

And did he succeed? It could have been one hot and steamy Copenhagen conference.

Psst, wanna trade a car for a kidney?

Indonesia prohibits selling body organs but as with many illegal internet activities, the law is difficult to enforce. So an apparently roaring trade in kidneys has developed, with price starting at a today only, this offer will not be repeated, US$5,945. For some sellers the deal doesn't even require cash:

16-year-old male selling a kidney for 350 million rupiah or in exchange for a Toyota Camry.

This is easy to make light of but is actually quite gruesome. What next, killing people and stealing their organs? Oops, forgot that the Israeli Defence Force is already accused of doing just that - don't shoot that Palestinian in the head, his brain will be useless for transplant.

I reckon there are some pretty good reasons for having not one kidney but two, and using one of them as a piggy bank isn't amongst them. Now that's easy for me to say living, as I do, the life of Riley here in Australia.

Anyway, if someone is desperate enough to sell a kidney it's great to see them keeping prices down by eliminating the kidney broker middlemen. And what kind of job is "kidney broker"? I mean, does one go to an employment agency and sign up for that? What the Hell would you put on a CV? Would a job application ask if you'd every robbed a grave or stolen from a morgue? Does Harvard Business School offer courses in "kidney broking"? It all seems very weird to me.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Australians opt for planet-destroying high-emissions cars

"Environmental responsibility" has "dropped off the radar" for Australian car buyers, replaced by interest in "prestige, performance and the ability to tow". High performance sports cars and convertibles are selling especially well.

The "concern for the environment" fad sure didn't last long, quickly replaced by the "screw the enviroment, I'm going to enjoy myself" attitude.

Beer truck crash = Party!

Four thousand cartons of beer on a crashed truck were ripe for stealing by the residents of three Papua New Guinea villages. Local police hope everything will return to normal "when everyone sobers up".

Australian don't wait for trucks to crash before stealing beer:

A thief who stole a shipping container load of the premium Belgium beer Hoegaarden has refused to reveal where he stashed nearly 1500 cartons of the brew.

Papuans are amateur beer thieves.

Schwarzenegger sends hidden message (repost)

There is a distinctly rude - some would say offensive - message in California Governor Schwarzenegger's veto letter (below) to the state assembly. The letter's URL - which reads in part 2009bills/AB1176_Ammiano_Veto_Message.pdf - clearly indicates that the letter, while addressed to the assembly, is actually intended for Schwarzenegger nemesis Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, who is gay.

To the Members of the California State Assembly:

I am returning Assembly Bill 1176 without my signature.

For some time now I have lamented the fact that major issues are overlooked while many
unnecessary bills come to me for consideration. Water reform, prison reform, and health
care are major issues my Administration has brought to the table, but the Legislature just
kicks the can down the alley.

Yet another legislative year has come and gone without the major reforms Californians
overwhelmingly deserve. In light of this, and after careful consideration, I believe it is
unnecessary to sign this measure at this time.


Arnold Schwarzenegger

The not so hidden message can be seen by reading the first letter of each line of the body of the letter starting with "I", thus revealing I FU*K YOU. The governor's spokesman says there is no message in the veto, however:

It was just a weird coincidence. I suppose when you do so many vetoes, something like this is bound to happen.


US drone video feed intercepted by insurgents

Those likely to be targeted by U.S. drones are using cheap downloadable software to intercept and watch the video in real time as it is transmitted to ground controllers. This ability effectively neutralises the drones as a weapon. The U.S. military has been aware of this for some time and is addressing the vulnerability.

Drones such as 'Raptor' and 'Reaper' are effective for surveillance and attack in large part because they are unseen and unheard. Flying at low speed they are able to loiter over an area for hours observing the ground below. Unlike conventional military aircraft, drones are incapable of quickly zooming in for what amounts to a surprise attack. Drones instead rely on stealth, those on the ground not realising they are being observed.

It is possible to detect unseen aircraft, however. Radar is the obvious means of detection but there is a low-tech alternative: listening. Back in the days before radar, sound amplification devices - essentially gigantic ear trumpets - were used to detect the sound of approaching aircraft. It seems only logical to assume that even a simple ear trumpet would enable those on the ground to detect the engine noise from loitering drones. A drone thus detected would be useless.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Whale war

Anti-whaling activist Paul Watson was this morning shot in the head by a Japanese sniper aboard one of its whaling vessels. Whoa, the Japanese have obviously had enough of the rancid butter tossed onto their decks. Sea Shepherd vessels might do well to clear the area - Japanese torpedoes could be next.

Captain Watson is indeed lucky that the fine wire bridge-piece on his classic Ray Bans deflected the high velocity projectile that would have otherwise struck him smack between the eyes. It's another miraculous escape for bullet-magnet Watson.

Watson had earlier sought Australian intervention:

Really what Australia should do and could do is send a navy vessel down here and order the Japanese out of the Australian Antarctic territory.

Australia could do this but shouldn't: it's sovereignty over Antarctic waters is not clearly established. Thus it's not unreasonable to think Japan might consider naval intervention an act of war. And just imagine what might happen if an Australian vessel sank a whaler and picked up the survivors. Having seen the Oceanic Viking precedent there's no way those hard-headed Japanese whalers would go ashore anywhere other than Japan. Hell, they could be on board forever - World War II holdout Hiroo Onoda didn't surrender until 1974.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

"Scientist" vs scientist: Fire the liar

There's a good chance any academic who says anything computer programmer Tim Lambert doesn't like will be accused of academic misconduct. It's his thing -- think of it as a hobby. Anyway, Lambert's at it again, this time accusing Ian Plimer of "research misconduct" in relation to a debate with George Monbiot. Lambert could, of course, simply say Plimer is wrong but instead goes for the throat hoping to see him sanctioned or perhaps fired. Very serious stuff indeed.

The thing is, Lambert himself is notorious for telling whoppers. In Lambert's case it's not a matter of ignorance, it's intentional -- when in doubt he just makes stuff up. Quite naturally, his ability to make a point through manipulation of the truth has made him something of a lefty darling. And is typical of lefty science types -- think climategate -- he tolerates no dissent: express a dissenting opinion at his blog and it's almost certain your comment will be disemvowelled or deleted. Persistent boat-rockers are quickly banned.

Anyway, this is all rather odd (or perhaps not, we are dealing with a lefty here) because if Lambert were held to the same standards he expects others to follow, the University of New South Wales would have long since told him to hit the road and he'd be doing "computer science" from his garage.

A few examples of Lambert's manipulation of the truth.

Please take a number, be seated and stay there forever

It was almost like the big shots running the banks all got together and decided, hey, we're the only banks around so we can slash the number of branches while simultaneously cutting the number of staff and our customers will just have to queue up and wait for service because there's nothing they do about. Ha Ha! Add a few more zeros on the end of year profitability figures. It's the same at Coles and Woolworths: 10 checkouts but only three of them open. Go ahead chumps, go shop at the corner store and get better service but pay much higher prices -- you'll do it a couple of times and then you'll be back here queued up where you should be.

Things were considerably better at most government customer service outlets, however. Sure the ladies behind the counter at the Licensing Centre were always grumpy but they were efficient and the line always moved quickly. In and out in a matter of minutes. Medicare was a real dump and had been there for years but the service was always quick and friendly. The local coucil offices are the best of all -- walk straight up to the counter, get served and you're out of there.

Then progress hit. The Licensing Centre now occupies a snazzy new suite in a new building. You walk in and take a number and sit, with a big wall-mounted TV for your viewing pleasure. Little did I know that I would get to watch Spartacus from begining to end before my number came up.

Medicare has also moved to a new, futuristic building where there's this robot number dispenser at the entrance -- there is no TV but it is quite entertaining to watch unattended kiddies repeatedly punch R2D2's button while he dutifully spits out ticket after ticket. Damn, does that thing hold a lot of paper, or what? (Chairs in a government service centre is always a bad sign.)

I therefore figure the governments amalgamation of Centrelink and Medicare to, you know, streamline service, is going to be a nightmare -- better take a sleeping bag and drink bottle just in case.

Sorry to be so negative about this; I have this thing about queues.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Pacific

Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg collaborated on this much anticipated follow-up to Band of Brothers:


Virginity in the news

Hong Kong police are investigating a desperate-for-cash teenager who offered to sell her virginity to the highest bidder. Such an act constitutes prostitution, of course.

In tangentially related news, "a Swedish sexual rights group unilaterally proclaimed a new English term for what it considers one of the most misunderstood parts of the female anatomy",  renaming the hymen the "vaginal corona". Thus "popping a corona" takes on a whole new meaning.

Copenhagen: It's about the money

Copenhagen is about to be invaded from the south:

Brussels will be all-but empty during the last full working week of the year, as leaders head for the climate summit in Copenhagen and MEPs go to Strasbourg.

EU commission president Jose Manuel Barroso and EU parliament chief Jerzy Buzek will take a gaggle of commissioners and MEPs to the Danish capital for the climax of the talks on Thursday (17 December) and Friday.

The whole of Belgium breathes a big sigh of relief.

For this gaggle of enlightened European bureaucrats climate change isn't the only item on the agenda:

With world leaders, including US president Barack Obama and Germany's Angela Merkel, also to attend, expectations are high that the event will lead to a landmark agreement on global warming and re-distribution of wealth to the third world.

And how much of that wealth, taken off Europe's well-meaning, tax-paying schmucks, is going to end up in the secret personal bank accounts of the third world's corrupt leaders? Lots.

This whole climate change thing is almost certain -- of what the Hell, it's certain -- to be the biggest boondoggle of all time. The supreme sense of smug self-satisfaction acquired by those doling out the money won't come cheap.

Unfit for human consumption

The government has announced that the intenet will be censored (filtered) at the ISP level. But Australians shouldn't worry that the soon to be implemented block of sites deemed inappropriate will infringe our freedoms because an "independent body" and not the government will decide which "internet content is simply not suitable in a civilised society." Senator Conroy, this bastard baby's father, elaborating:

It is important that all Australians, particularly young children, are protected from this material.

The Government believes that parents want assistance to reduce the risk of children being exposed to such material.

But Senator, what of those unfortunate Australians who must view this material in order to deem we must be protected from it? Surely they will go insane or be driven to commit unspeakable acts. It all seems so unfair.

And what next will our benevolent, paternal government decide to protect us from? How about fatty foods? Vehicles able to exceed the posted speed limit. Alcohol. Cigarettes. Talcum powder (bad for the lungs). Flying (carbon!). Ban them, ban the lot. Better safe than sorry, I say.