Friday, April 30, 2010

Poison gas attacks alleged

The Taliban is accused of attacking school girls with poison gas:

Scores of Afghan schoolgirls were knocked unconscious or made ill over the weekend by suspected poison gas attacks on their schools and authorities are blaming insurgents who oppose educating girls.

Middle East expert Antony Loewenstein somehow manages to ignore this alleged attack on little girls while making a big deal about an alleged poison gas assault on his beloved Hamas. By the way Antony, strictly speaking, Egyptians aren't Arabs.

Female sailor has hands full

More sexual harassment problems for the Royal Australian Navy:

The HMAS Success is embroiled in another alcohol-fuelled sex scandal after a female sailor allegedly went on a binge in Singapore.

It is believed the woman went ashore during a port visit this month, got very drunk and began to publicly grope her male colleagues.

One of the men made an official complaint and the Australian Defence Force Investigation Service has launched an investigation.

Since females complained of inappropriate touching it's only fair for males to do the same. Pathetic but fair.


Kuta cowboys forced to dismount

Bali's tanned and muscular beach gigolos have been rounded up by authorities following the release of a film showing them catering to the needs of tourists looking for some good loving. There's no need for the ladies to panic and cancel their trips; after a few obligatory bribes the cow-punchers will be back in action. Yeehaa, ride 'em cowboy.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Shock finding: Afghan government corrupt

No surprises here from this BBC report:

The US defence department has said that only a quarter of what it regards as key regions in Afghanistan support the government of President Hamid Karzai.

The Pentagon said in a report that much of the country was either neutral to the central Afghan authorities or supportive of the Taliban insurgency.

It blamed government corruption and lack of efficiency as major reasons for people's distrust of the authorities.

Readers are encouraged to nominate a Muslim country with a government that is both efficient and honest.

Editing note: In response to emails to management, the sentence directly above was editing to no longer state that no predominantly Muslim country has a government that is both efficient and honest, to instead ask for suggestions of efficient and honest predominantly Muslim countries.

Midnight cigarette tax grab targets the poor

The federal government will raise cigarette taxes from midnight tonight. The surprise move is designed to prevent consumers stockpiling cigarettes thereby beating the government out of a few dollars in taxes:

"Because of media speculation about the excise in recent days, there was real concern about changes to consumer behaviour and the importance of acting now," Mr Rudd said, saying the decision had been brought forward on advice from the Tax Office.

Health Minister Nicola Roxon said the Tax Office was already monitoring cigarette outlets for any signs of stockpiling among consumers today.

Hoping to impress voters with his toughness the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd claims the excise will hurt evil tobacco companies rather than the consumers of tobacco products:

“This is a tough decision for the government,” he said. “It won't win the government any popularity. The big tobacco companies will hate what we are doing."

As if the expected $5 billion tax windfall won't be at the expense of the poor, those most likely to smoke.

Smokers already pay much more to the government through taxes than they receive in benefits and are subsidising those who live longer. If the government seriously wanted to tax a group of consumers who cost the government billions, it would dramatically raise alcohol taxes. But that would be very unpopular and isn't going to happen.

The surprise rise in cigarette tax is a cash grab pure and simple.

Update: A much more equitable salt tax would save many more lives.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Organic foods will never feed the world's hungry

Norman Borlaug, father of the Green Revolution, knew how to feed the world's hungry: introduce high-yield crops and modern farming techniques. Borlaug's methods have fallen out of favour, however, with a new emphasis on more "environmentally friendly" farming techniques. As a result many Africans and south-Asians will likely starve:

What's so tragic about this is that we know from experience how to fix the problem. Wherever the rural poor have gained access to improved roads, modern seeds, less expensive fertilizer, electrical power, and better schools and clinics, their productivity and their income have increased. But recent efforts to deliver such essentials have been undercut by deeply misguided (if sometimes well-meaning) advocacy against agricultural modernization and foreign aid.

Organic foods are self-indulgent fantasy and will never feed the poor.

Searing smear

Australia's Vexnews provides a special treat for all of those readers clamouring for another Jeremy Sear post.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A new opportunity for online sex drug spammers

Priligy tablets, which help premature ejaculators to "last three times as long", have gone on sale in the U.K. Expect to receive a flood of emails offering to sell you the tablets at unbeatable prices.

Now if only someone would come up with a drug that makes grey-haired old men attractive to rich young women.

Adverse reactions prompt flu vaccination suspension

Following suspected adverse reactions in recently vaccinated young children – fevers leading in some case to convulsions – the flu vaccine will no longer be administered to Australian youngsters under five. This will no doubt add to general suspicions that vaccines can be harmful, this fear largely resulting from bogus claims linking the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine to autism. It has not yet been established that the flu vaccine caused any serious adverse reactions but parents of recently vaccinated children are warned to remain vigilant.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Kiwis offered an opportunity to have their IQs lowered

Antony Loewenstein – or is that Lowenstein? – will speak in Auckland on 17 April 2010, on the role of Palestine in global peace – or is that unrest? Make sure you register; if you show up unannounced it'll cost you NZ$1.00.

West Australian taxpayers help fund hanky-panky

W.A. Treasurer Troy Buswell has admitted having an intimate relationship with Greens MP Adele Carles but refuses to resign, this despite Buswell's further admission that tax dollars helped pay for the hook-up:

In the interests of drawing a line under this event and give my family the opportunity to move forward, I would like to touch upon several instances during this relationships which are pertinent in relation to the use of parliamentary entitlements.

Firstly, I can confirm that after a trip to a ministerial council meeting in late March in Canberra Adele Carles joined me in Canberra on the Thursday meeting and we travelled together to Sydney where we stayed for two nights.

I was scheduled to fly back to Perth via Sydney.

I funded the additional two nights' accommodation out of my own pocket.

Secondly, I can confirm that my ministerial car was used to drop me off to meet Adele Carles on three occasions.

I will repay the government garage for the cost of those trips.

Third, in mid February I travelled to Albany in the afternoon ahead of a series of meetings the following day.

I was joined by Adele Carles that evening.

I will repay the cost of the accommodation.

So here we have the Treasurer admitting to the misuse of public funds. It's no wonder then that the Sunday Times's Joe Spagnolo is calling for Buswell's sacking.

Will cheat-gate be Buswell's downfall? Stay tuned.

Update: Carles at her blog:

As a parent, I stand with the Greens for the sake of my children.

The welfare of her children is apparently not always her number one priority.

Idiot-proofing is impossible

To protect itself from being sued by idiots, the manufacturer of the luggage rack now attached to my motorbike provides a booklet containing not only mounting instructions and tightening torques but also three warnings and two cautions. For example:

Caution To install/remove the luggage rack, switch off the motorcycle and secure it against falling over and rolling away. Keep children and pets away from the work area!

Warning Avoid touching hot engine parts or the hot exhaust system when installing/removing the luggage rack, as there is a DANGER OF BURNS!

All for the simple procedure of removing the six screws attaching the factory-installed grab-handle and then reinstalling the screws to attach the luggage rack. The installation could be performed by a 10-year-old without instruction but the manufacturer is obviously worried someone will somehow manage to kill their cat or incinerate themselves, or maybe both. Kinda sad, really, except for the cat part. Anyway, idiots are going to find ways to do damage no matter what, hence a number of bikers are missing fingers mangled while attempting to clean drive chains with the motor running and the bike in gear – spinning the rear wheel by hand is way too strenuous and time consuming.


Western Australia sex scandal an unlikely affair

Politics does indeed make for strange bedfellows as illustrated by the unlikely extramarital affair of West Australian Liberal state Treasurer Troy Buswell and Greens MLA Adele Carles, revealed by Carles over the weekend. Buswell has yet to address the allegations but is scheduled to speak publicly later today.

If the allegations are true – and there's no reason to think Carles is lying – Buswell has progressed from pathetically childish shenanigans – bra-strap-snapping and chair-sniffing – to stealthy betrayal of his family. The man evidently has major impulse control issues.

It will likely be argued that Buswell's indiscretions are family matters of no concern to the public. Wrong. In a fair and just world the man's political career would be finished, as would Carles'.

Voters cannot simply shrug their shoulders accepting that, while titillating, Buswell's surrender to pleasures of the flesh is in no way indicative of his performance as an elected representative. Moral issued aside, the public must demand that those elected to serve will exercise both self-restraint and good judgment.

In going into politics Buswell chose to live in the political fish bowl, his life subject to intense ongoing scrutiny, interest in what he gets up to heightened by his bra-strap snapping and chair-sniffing antics. Yet he apparently still cannot control himself, instead violating the intimate contractual arrangement entered into with his wife. There is no reason to assume he is any more committed to honouring the less formal contract he has with the West Australian public, which has no way of knowing what else he has gotten up to behind the scenes.

In mitigation it will possibly be argued that Buswell's marriage is unhappy or that he was abused or unloved as a child. Maybe he has a drinking problem owing to a battle with depression. Perhaps he can't control himself because he suffers from ADHD. There is no adequite excuse for Buswell's behaviour, however, so he should accept responsibility and resign, as should Carles.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Boisterous teens attack police

Victorian police trying to break up an out of control party are attacked:

Police officers have been punched and hit in the head with bottles while trying to bring a party under control in the Gippsland region of Victoria.

Police were called in after several fights broke out at the party in Sale about 10:30pm.

They say the behaviour of the crowd worsened as they shut down the party and tried to disperse the crowd.

Five officers, including a Senior Constable, were allegedly assaulted. Police say they were hit with bottles, punched and headbutted.

The ABC News headline: Rowdy teens headbutt police officers. Kids will be kids.

Famous Australian author, journalist and blogger disregards copyright

More than just a best-selling author, journalist and fabulously successful blogger, Antony Loewenstein now claims to be a "documentarian" and photographer. Really, as if laboriously reading a script – not narrating, reading – makes hims a "documentarian". And like owning a digital camera he's competent to operate makes him a photographer.

But Lowenstein's blogging is in overdrive, his 10 most recent posts totaling 4,717 words. The thing is, only 283 words over those 10 posts were written by Loewenstein; the other 4,434 were written by others, Loewenstein copying and pasting them – the man is multi-talented. Lacking writing talent Loewenstein disregards copyright and relies on the work of others.

Update: Loewenstein will appear at the Auckland Writers & Readers Festival. He can't write so he must be a featured reader.

SEC employees investing time in porn viewing

An internal SEC investigation discovered 33 employees – 17 of them senior staff earning up to US$220,000 a year – had watched porn on government computers over the past five years:

The report said a senior enforcement attorney in a regional office viewed porn during work hours and had a thumb drive containing five hard-core videos; an attorney in Washington, D.C., spent up to eight hours a day watching pornography; and an accountant in a regional office was denied access by the government firewall 16,000 times when he tried to access Web pages containing pornography.

Not all on the job time-wasting is spent watching pornography, however, with the Internet offering an almost infinite variety of online distractions. Every large organization must have its fair share of eBay wheeler-dealers, game players, online chatters, bloggers and the like. Then there are those who waste time officially by habitually sending irrelevant emails – people who in the past would never have taken the time to construct memos are now able to dash off emails of no importance whatsoever, typically sending them to everyone within an organisation. Recipients must at least scan these emails to make sure they contain nothing important before disposing of them. Multiply the few minutes spent every day dealing with this trivia and multiply it times the number of employees in the organisation and you'll get a huge block of time wasted.

Okay, now that I've had my little rant for today it's back to eBay for me.

China droughts unpredictable

Tree ring research reveals four major droughts affecting China over the past 1,000 years, the latest, in the 1870s, causing "tens of millions of people to starve to death". Researchers do not fully understand what caused these droughts and are as yet unable to predict future occurrences:

Global climate models fail to accurately simulate the Asian monsoon, and these limitations have hampered our ability to plan for future, potentially rapid and heretofore unexpected shifts in a warming world.

How is it then that climate models are expected to accurately simulate global conditions?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Lefty blogger can't find a right-wing site worth reading

Erstwhile Asian Correspondent contributor Jeremy Sear can't find a single "honest and fair and open to reasonable discussion" right-wing site so he asks his readers for recommendations. Helen Dale's Skeptic Lawyer site gets several nods but there's no way Sear is going to acknowledge these recommendations because Dale's co-blogger Legal Eagle dares to link to a right-winger Sear doesn't like: me.

In a separate post Sear alleges that "modern Australia doesn’t build railways". He's wrong, of course: the 1,420 kilometre Alice Springs to Darwin rail link began construction in 2001 and was officially opened in 2004. So it's business as usual for diehard lefty Sear who misrepresents, with a leftist slant, damn near everything he writes about.

Update: Sear rejects the Skeptic Lawyer recommendations:

I don’t know about skepticlawyer – they’re okay in what they write, but they also fraternise quite openly with the sort of bottom-dwelling righties who have no limits to which they will not sink – which they know very well. I find that very difficult to respect. There are a couple of links on their sidebar which are like a flashing orange WARNING sign.

None of Skeptic Lawyer's links has yet sunk to the depths plumbed by Sear himself.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Simple living doesn't come cheap

Simplicity poseurs want to live like the Amish but without the incovenience:

Welcome to the simplicity movement, the ethos whose mantras are "cutting back," "focusing on the essentials," "reconnecting to the land" - and talking, talking, talking about how fulfilled it all makes you feel. Genuine simple-living people - such as, say, the Amish - are not part of the simplicity movement, because living like the Amish (no iPod apps or granite countertops, plus you have to read the Bible) would be taking the simple thing a bit far. Modern simplicity practitioners like Jesus (although not quite so much as they like Buddhist monks, who dress more colorfully) because he wore sandals and could be said to have practiced alternative medicine, but they mostly shun religious movements founded in his name. Thus, simplicity people are always eager to tell you how great the Amish are, growing their own food (a highly valued trait among simplicity people), espousing pacifism (simplicity people shy away from even just wars), and building those stylishly spare barns (aesthetics rank high in the simplicity movement), but really, who wants to have eight kids and wear those funny-looking hats?

Yep, leftists do talk a good game.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

BMW motorcycle clothing: Top quality gear at the right price

Looking for the highest quality motorcycle clothing at the right price? Try Procycles, which is running a sale at the moment – ignore the Webstore, instead sending them an email.

But first check out the BWM apparel site to find what you want and then contact Procycles for a price – I today received a StreetGuard 3 jacket from Procycles having saved $560 off suggested retail. They might not have what you're after but it's worth a try.

DDT: Life-saving miracle powder maligned by the left

Anti-chemical, fear-mongering leftists will be unimpressed with Richard Tren and Donald Roberts' new book, The Excellent Powder: DDT's Political and Scientific History, which highlights the left's misguided anti-DDT campaigning:

Orchestrated, well-financed, earnest, but erroneous campaigns forced most countries to ban DDT without scientific justification. These campaigns created many myths and fears about DDT. Excellent Powder - DDT's Political and Scientific History, dispels these myths and sets the record straight about this chemical, which continues to save hundred of thousands lives in poor countries today and could save hundreds of thousands more.

Computer programmer Tim Lambert, as part of his less than earnest but decidely erroneous anti-DDT campaign, can be expected to attack Tren and Roberts as corporate stooges perhaps funded by Exxon or big tobacco, both keen to distract the gullible from the the really important issues confronting mankind – tobacco related health problems and global warming. A few million dead Africans is a small price to pay in pursuit of these leftist distractions.

Wikileaks Apache attack video questioned by soldier on the scene

U.S. soldier Ethan McCord was one of the first on the scene following the Apache helicopter attack that killed two Reuters employees – as shown in the much discussed Wikileaks-released gun-sight footage. Interviewed by McCord tells of his distress at discovering the two children wounded by 30mm chain-gun rounds but is also realistic about what happened: Wikileaks presented the incident as though there was no engagement from insurgents. But you guys did have a firefight a couple of blocks away. Was it reasonable for the Apache soldiers to think that maybe the people they attacked were part of that insurgent firefight?

McCord: I doubt that they were a part of that firefight. However, when I did come up on the scene, there was an RPG as well as AK-47s there…. You just don’t walk around with an RPG in Iraq, especially three blocks away from a firefight…. Personally, I believe the first attack on the group standing by the wall was appropriate, was warranted by the rules of engagement. They did have weapons there. However, I don’t feel that the attack on the [rescue] van was necessary.

Now, as far as rules of engagement, [Iraqis] are not supposed to pick up the wounded. But they could have been easily deterred from doing what they were doing by just firing simply a few warning shots in the direction…. Instead, the Apaches decided to completely obliterate everybody in the van. That’s the hard part to swallow.

And where the soldier said [in the video], “Well, you shouldn’t take your kids to battle.” Well in all actuality, we brought the battle to your kids. There’s no front lines here. This is urban combat and we’re taking the war to children and women and innocents.

There were plenty of times in the past where other insurgents would come by and pick up the bodies, and then we’d have no evidence or anything to what happened, so in looking at it from the Apache’s point of view, they were thinking that [someone was] picking up the weapons and bodies; when, in hindsight, clearly they were picking up the wounded man. But you’re not supposed to do that in Iraq

This testimony from someone actually at the scene will disappoint leftist armchair experts like Crikey blogging barrister Jeremy Sear:

The military (the same military that worked so hard to bury the video) says they were terrorists! The military says there was a firefight going on somewhere in the vicinity! Ignore what the video shows, just believe the people who didn’t want you to see it in the first place!

Will Sear acknowledge that the Wikileaks video is not the clear cut indictment of the U.S. military that he makes it seem? Don't count on it: Jeremy isn't noted for his corrections.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sudden vehicle acceleration is nothing new

The Argus-Press reports in 1987:

Since 1978 [the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration] has investigated and in some cases is still studying sudden acceleration reports in GM, Nissan, Audi, Toyota, Honda, Chrysler, Renault, Ford, Volvo, Mitsubishi and Mercedes-Benz cars. It has received reports of sudden acceleration in nearly every make of car.

The most likely cause of "runaway" vehicles? Pedal confusion.

West Australian paedophile accepts 40-year sentence

Accused paedophile camp counsellor Scott Zirus, 26, from Pinjarra, Western Australia, has surprised a Texas court by accepting a recently rejected plea bargain that will see him spend 40 years in prison. Better 40 years than life:

Zirus shares a cell in the Kerry County Jail with Alfredo Ramirez, a 27-year-old from Kerrville, who fought allegations of sexually assaulting 13 and 14-year-old girls, but lost the case and on Thursday was sentenced to 119 years' jail.

"I think that changed Mr Zirus' mind," [Kerr County investigator Todd] Burdick said of the Ramirez verdict.

Zirus will be eligible for parole in 20 years but won't go free; he will deported to Western Australia where he will face further child abuse charges – provided he manages to survive incarceration with Texas inmates who will snuff him if given the opportunity. This looks to be one kiddy-fiddler who will never again be anywhere near a child


Chair-sniffing stink again fills the air

Several years ago West Australian Treasurer Troy Buswell, then in opposition, made a complete arse of himself by sniffing the chair of a female staffer. Done amongst a group of close mates this crass act might have  been amusing  – even though lots of people won't admit it, sick humour can be funny: witness Sam Kinison – but sniffing a chair in front of a female staffer who recently occupied it is a gross error in judgement, ultimately costing Buswell leadership of West Australia's Liberal Party.

The incident is again in the news in a West Australian piece titled Inside story: staffer tells of chair-sniffing hell (click the link to view two videos of Smith for the first time describing Buswell's shenanigans):

It was a panicked Troy Buswell who phoned former Liberal Party staffer Karry Smith with a bizarre question on February 15, 2008, just three weeks after he was elected Opposition Leader in a bitter struggle with Paul Omodei.

"He said I've just had a television crew stick a camera under my nose and ask me if I'd ever sniffed your chair. Have I?" Ms Smith told
The West Australian in an exclusive interview this week.

"I was a bit taken aback because I don't think you'd forget about doing that to a person. I said yes you have and you know you have."

For the next 10 weeks Ms Smith endured a barrage of media inquiries as the chair-sniffing rumour circulated the WA political world. She became afraid to answer her phone. She begged Mr Buswell's office to deal with the situation, even offering to write a statement for Mr Buswell to read in Parliament but her entreaties were greeted with silence.

Now she wants to ensure that no one else is ever placed in the same situation she found herself in 2008 when the world turned its gaze on the bizarre story of the leading politician who sniffed the chair of a female worker.

Ms Smith gives her reasons for now going public with full details of the chair-sniffing indiscretion:

I see our Equal Opportunity Act as discriminatory now because I know what it means to be sexually harassed and not have any provisions of legislation to offer any kind of protection.

This is rather odd considering that Smith makes it clear that her anguish was more due to the ongoing media frenzy than to Buswell's suggestion that he could detect her lingering scent on a piece of furniture. In my opinion, Smith does not make a good case for having suffered sexual harassment and it is unclear exactly how legislation might be worded to cover all such incidents which females might find offensive.

Also, Smith's initial decision to refuse to comment on the incident and her ongoing (then) support for Buswell do nothing to enhance her credibility.


Friday, April 16, 2010

IPCC climate report science questioned

Is the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report crafted exclusively from peer reviewed science or from reputable science plus "press releases, newspaper and magazine clippings, student theses, newsletters, discussion papers, and literature published by green advocacy groups"? Nah, couldn't happen.

Increased cancer risk for adults thin as kids

Fat can be beneficial:

The risk of contracting cancer after the menopause is greater for girls who are considered thin at the age of seven than their chubbier counterparts, a new Swedish study published on Wednesday claims.

And since cancer risk increases with age parents should consider fattening up their children.

Fools and the Internet, a dangerous combination

The Internet offers unprecedented opportunities for fools to beclown themselves as discovered by a young name-caller:

Queensland's Liberal-National Party (LNP) has expelled a young member who called US president Barack Obama a "monkey" on Twitter.

Griffith University medical student Nick Sowden stirred up a storm of controversy for his Twitter comments during Kerry O'Brien's exclusive interview with the US president.

The 22-year-old says he is not a racist and his comments were supposed to be ironic and have been taken out of context.

At least young Sowden can be thankful that, unlike other intemperate young bucks, he won't end up in court.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Muslim spokesman proclaims ignorance

Always keen for media exposure, Islamic Friendship Association of Australia mouthpiece Keysar Trad graciously offers ABC News everything he knows about al Qaeda recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki's February 2009 speech or maybe sermon (by phone) at Sydney's Lakemba Mosque. The ABC interviewing team clearly doesn't believe Trad's sergeant Schultz-like claim to know nothing about anything. Sorry Keysar, nice try.

Watch the whole interview (less than 7 1/2 minutes) and be amazed by Trad's performance.


Correction: It's "Keysar", not "Kayser" as originally written.

Lexus GX 460 U.S. sales suspended

Toyota U.S.A. has stopped selling the 2010 Lexus GX 460 SUV following Consumer Reports issuing a Don't Buy warning after testers reportedly encountered handling problems that could cause roll overs.

To its credit Toyota reacted very quickly to this new safety issue but such a negative report from Consumer Reports further damages the company's reputation for building high quality cars.

Six out of 10 young Australians crash a car in the first five years of driving

According to a Victorian study 60 percent of young drivers are involved in a crash within five years of obtaining their licence. In 2005 the crash rate for young drivers was 43 percent. Unless Victorian youth are atypical these figures are probably representative Australia-wide.

I should probably consider myself lucky then that none of my three children – all of whom have been driving for more than five years – has ever crashed or been a passenger in a crashed car. But the kids do frequently speak of friends and acquaintances who have pranged their cars, some quite seriously.

This all rather strange. Back when I first started driving I would have been mortified to have crashed a car; everyone who found out would have ridiculed me mercilessly, this because crashing a car was seen, and in most circumstances rightly so, as a sign of driving incompetence. This doesn't mean I was a law-abiding driver: I got my fair share of speeding fines, as did my friends. So just like today's young drivers we too hooned around, speeding and doing burnouts but managed to stay out of accidents – thinking back on it I can recall only one person involved in a serious smash, a young female who drove off the side of a bridge in the middle of the night.

Fear of ridicule was not the only thing that kept us from crashing cars, however. For one thing, most young Texas drivers back then formally learned to drive through their high school's driver education program. Learning to drive was a shared experience: we spent hours learner driving with an instructor and two other students in the car. Thus a class of mostly 14 and 15 year-olds was taught to drive responsibly, with a commitment to group safety (imagine the chaos on Australian roads if 14 year-olds were allowed to drive).

Responsibility is perhaps the key ingredient. Back then excuse making wasn't yet in vogue; anyone making a bad decision had to suffer the consequences without resorting to today's all purpose cop out, bad parenting. This applied across the board. Do something stupid at school and the deputy principal couldn't care less how much your father drank or if your mother neglected you; you had to wear it. Not so today.

It's no wonder then that young people, after having been absolved of responsibility for their actions throughout their childhoods, are irresponsible drivers.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Great Barrier Reef damage not nearly as great as that casued by natural processes

The Chinese coal carrier Shen Neng 1 gouged a huge scar in the Great Barrier reef:

It could take 20 years or more for the Great Barrier Reef to recover from three kilometres of destruction caused by the grounding of a Chinese coal ship, authorities have revealed.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority says the damage to the reef is significant, with large parts of Douglas Shoal "completely flattened" and marine life "pulverised".

The damage is nowhere near as great as that caused by the 100% natural crown of thorns starfish, however:

AIMS [Australian Institute of Marine Science] has implemented the most comprehensive [crown of thorns starfish] monitoring program in the world across the GBR. This long-term program, combined with genetic studies, has shown that COTS outbreaks begin in the north and migrate southward on ocean currents over about a 15 year period. These surveys also show that healthy reefs generally recover between outbreaks, taking 10-20 years to do so.

So human activity (in the form of the Shen Neng 1) has damaged a tiny segment of the reef whereas natural processes destroy huge areas of coral on an ongoing basis. Ain't Mother Nature a bitch.

African charities doing more harm than good?

It comes as no surprise that Bob Geldof, "former Boomtown Rat turned self-styled saviour of Africa", is an opportunist, seeking not to help starving Africans but rather to draw attention to himself. Unfortunately, many Geldof critics are themselves crass opportunists, promoting the "outdated idea of the White Man’s Burden", portraying Africans as child-like figures incapable of determining their own destinies. Thus are we bombarded with celebrity-centered campaigns aiming to save Africans from themselves:

In truth, numerous politicians, opinion-formers, aid organisations and apparently edgy charities have helped to turn poor Africa into a platform for self-serving moral poseurs from the West – and elbowing Geldof off that platform won’t make everything better.

The road to Hell...

Bogus doctor performs unwanted internal exam

Have you heard the one about the guy who walks into a shop and tells a young woman he doesn't know he's a cosmetic surgeon of renown? The woman, impressed by the helpful "doctor" offering to improve her body, pulls down her pants so he can have a close look at her trouble spots. Unfortunately the trickster does more than look. Now this isn't funny, of course, but what happened next is so stupid it's hilarious:

[Prosecutor Jim] Pearce said Amjad then left his phone number with the woman so she could contact him for medication which Amjad claimed would cure her cellulite and give her slightly bigger breasts.

Police had no trouble finding bogus doctor Mehran Amjad, who is now on trial.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

AFL hands out big fines for bad language

Friday night's on field war of words between Collingwood coaching staff and St Kilda player Stephen Milne has cost participants dearly: Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse was fined AUD $7,500 (USD $6967), assistant Paul Licuria AUD $3,000 (USD $2787) and Milne AUD $3,000 (USD $2787). Perhaps more important than the fines is Malthouse's admission that his original claim not to have spoken to Milne is untrue, being one of those justifiable little white lies occasionally told by everyone:

When asked (at the press conference) if I was directing comments at St Kilda players or my own players, I chose the latter option basically under the old code of what happens on the field stays on the field.

I'm definitely no Malthouse fan but agree with him here, sort of. Sure coaching staff shouldn't be spouting off to an opposition player and the targeted player shouldn't retaliate but these are men mentally toughened by years of fierce AFL competition and have no doubt been repeatedly sledged by opponents trying to psyche them out. What's said on the field should stay on the field.

AFL management would like to eliminate sledging to make the game more wholesome but this isn't going to happen unless all players are miked and recorded. Then listeners will get to hear player to player comments like, "Golly, you are playing well today!" That'll certainly add some excitement to the game.

Shen Neng 1 refloat disappoints environmentalists

The successful refloating of the Shen Neng 1 will deeply disappoint environmental activities who had hoped the ship would break up on Douglas Shoal spilling 65,000 tons of coal and almost 1,000 tons of fuel oil onto the Great Barrier Reef. Had the Shen Neng 1 befouled the reef with coal and oil the disaster could be added to the list of evils associated with Australia's coal export industry hopefully hastening its demise. The destruction of a tiny section of the reef would be a small price to pay for the mortal wounding of the coal exporting corporate giants.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Pure Poison for Crikey

Crikey's aptly named Pure Poison subsidiary – pure poison for Crikey – was an unwise attempt to take GrodsCorp mainstream. Originally written by Jeremy Sear, Scott Bridges and Ant Rogenous, Pure Poison was in trouble from the outset.

Having been bested by Tim Blair, the Pure Poison crew, aided by GrodsCorp mate John Surname, applied their superior investigative skills to "discover" that Blair was posting all over the Internet using an assumed name. This "deception" was duly reported by Ant Rogenous in a Pure poison post.

Unfortunately for the Pure Poison crew, the allegations of Blair sock-puppetry were wrong, so the original post was pulled and a half-hearted apology issued – the almost apology was also eventually withdrawn.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Blair sought legal advice and eventually sought redress through the courts. Crikey has now apologised unreservedly to Blair. I'll leave readers to work out who paid whose legal bills and if any compensatory damages changed hands.

Like Chernobyl and the Exxon Valdez, only worse

The coal-carrier Shen Neng 1, aground on the Great Barrier Reef, disgorged some two tons of fuel oil and later another 50 litres as the fuel tanks were emptied. According to occasional Asian Correspondent contributor Jeremy Sear (aka Melbourne Lefty and Anonymous Lefty) this is an environmental disaster akin to Chernobyl and the Exxon Valdez. Notwithstanding the Chernobyl and Exxon Valdez environmental impact exaggerations, the Shen Neng 1 grounding is unlikely to significantly affect the environment.

Australian breasts ballooning

After reading an article by Melissa Singer I have booked myself in for an eye test – my vision must be failing as I have failed to notice this:

As a nation we are getting bigger all over, but the number of ''average-sized'' women with above average bust lines has ballooned, with the most common bra cup size increasing from a B to a DD in the past 50 years.

Then again I'm a leg man and don't really pay much attention to "fun bags" – long perfectly formed legs are much more attractive than wrap-around breasts.

Australian rules football: Bad language and bottom pinching

Aiming to transform the Australian Football League from gritty sports competition into wholesome family entertainment, league officials have endeavoured to stamp out the boys-will-be-boys elements of the game – on-field aggression that once gave colour is now strictly forbidden, with even player-to-player comments subject to scrutiny.

League officials were no doubt mortified by events during Friday night's game between St Kilda and Collingwood, with Magpie coach Mick Malthouse allegedly calling Saints player Stephen Milne a "f----- rapist" and Milne reportedly calling "Malthouse a 'grey-haired old c---' and Magpie assistant Paul Licuria, who also tangled heatedly with the player, a 'f------ homo'".

As if that wasn't bad enough, a Fremantle player will likely be charged with a much more physical transgression;

It is understood Ballantyne pinched Steve Johnson on the backside during a scuffle in the opening minutes of the match.

Perhaps AFL game should be broadcast only in the middle of the night when impressionable children are safely tucked in bed.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Young woman strangled by scarf

A day of fun has turned to tragedy for an Australian family:

A young mother has died after her hijab became tangled in a go-kart in an accident witnessed by her husband and children on the NSW Central Coast yesterday.

Scarves and machinery are a dangerous combination.

U.S. universities outsourcing grading to Asia

U.S. universities, keen to improve students' writing through detailed assignment grading feedback, are tapping into a pool of underemployed experts eager to grade papers for a fee: Indian housewives working from home.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

The world's ugliest statues

There are lots of candidates but the honours go to North Korea for hosting a gigantic representation of megalomaniacal dwarf Kim Il Sung and Senegal for constructing the truly grotesque African Renaissance Monument.

The Internet: too much information at too low a cost

Is the Internet a valuable tool for knowledge-seekers? Not according to Rupert Murdoch:

Instead, we are engulfed by a tsunami of unmediated content too often resembling a stream of unpaid free associations. Digital advocates promise individuals can now unleash their inner writer or publisher. In whose interests might that be, apart from all the too busy therapists or burgeoning creative writing programs?

That might sound like Murdoch but it's actually Melbourne University Publishing (MUP) CEO Louise Adler, who, despite being a left-winger, expects readers to pay a premium price for a "superior" product:

Readers have long depended on a series of quality controls: editors in publishing houses sifting the gold from the dross, a vibrant critical culture, a community of readers, and the unscientific yet powerful market force of "word of mouth". These tools for discernment and discrimination will be more necessary in the e-book era.

Yet no amount of MUP editing was able to turn this dross into gold. Crank out a few more books like that and "the unscientific yet powerful market force of [Internet] 'word of mouth'" will kill MUP.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Real women need fake boobs

Like all less-than-well-endowed females, transsexual Miranda Lee wants a boob job so she can be a "real woman". What, no hankering for government provided anal bleaching?

Wombat terror: Crazed furball mauls man

A marsupial has joined the long list of dangerous Australian creatures:

A man is recovering in hospital after he was mauled by a wombat at Flowerdale, north-east of Melbourne.

The deranged furball managed to bring its victim to ground, continuing the attack for some 20 minutes. This improbable event, no doubt linked to global warming, was ended by a well placed blow from an axe.

What next, deranged sheep on the rampage?

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Want to buy into an upmarket area at a bargain price?

The West Australian government has sprung into action following the "discovery" that land it sold, and on which homes have been built, sits over groundwater heavily contaminated with a toxic chemical stew leaching from a hazardous waste landfill in the adjoining suburb. The government's response? The Department of Environment and Conservation has placed a caveat on a property's title classifying it as "possibly contaminated", the caveat reducing the property's value by an estimated 70%.

It is, of course, appropriate for government to protect any future buyers in such circumstances but who protects the citizenry from government?

Previously the DEC stated "there was no information to suggest that groundwater contamination was migrating from the former landfill".

But The Sunday Times has a letter from the Health Department dated August 1991, sent to a Mirrabooka resident, which said: "The environmental controls for landfills at that stage (in the 1980s) were not as strict or as sophisticated as they are today and as a consequence the operation of the disposal site is causing a number of problems.

"The most serious of these problems is a significant plume of polluted groundwater which extends for some distance to the southwest of the site."

In the end the government will have no choice other than buying all of the affected properties at uncontaminated values.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Another boat load of illegals intercepted

Only 13 weeks into 2010 Australia has already intercepted 34 boatloads of illegal immigrants. That's better than one boat every three days. Australia leads the world in so many ways.

The Kevin Rudd welcome mat is proving very effective.

Female Moscow suicide bomber identified

Police investigating terrorist bombings are often aided by the intact remains of those who blew themselves up – suicide vests and belts are inclined to leave easily identifiable upper bodies with attached heads at the scene.

Russian police are therefore reasonably certain as to the identity of at least one recent bomber:

The 17-year-old widow of a North Caucasus militant is suspected of being one of the suicide bombers who attacked the Moscow metro on Monday.

Exactly what a female "martyr" is meant to do with 72 virgins over an eternity in heaven is uncertain. It could make an interesting documentary, however.

Improbable quote

Heather Mills describes herself as "overly helpful Heather". Right.

Mills also describes her former nanny – currently suing her – as "very motivated by money". Hmm.

Mills knows something about the motivating power of money having sought a £125 million settlement from former husband Paul McCartney. Mills had to settle for a paltry £24.3 million. It's therefore no wonder she had to cut back by eliminating the live-in child minder.

Sea Shepherd exploits Bethune's poor judgement as a fund raising opportunity

Pete Bethune, skipper of the bottom of the Southern Ocean residing Ady Gil, is facing trial and possible long term imprisonment in Japan. Sea Shepherd has responded by declaring Bethune a political prisoner, exploiting Bethune's poor judgement in boarding a Japanese whaling vessel as a fund raising opportunity. Interestingly, the webpage ostensibly dedicated to helping Bethune but really a plea for donations, features a great big photo of habitual attention seeker Paul Watson – admiral of the Sea Shepherd fleet – at the top left with Bethune's much smaller photo tucked away down the page. And doesn't Watson look a figure of decisive – almost military-like – strength?

So come on you anti-whaling types with money to spare, donate to Sea Shepherd to help ensure that Paul Watson doesn't have to get a boring old real job and can keep living out his super-hero vigilante wrong-righting fantasies. After all, those pretty little, heart-protecting, Captain 007 sheriff badges can't be cheap.