30 April 2009

reflections of my life

Not exactly, more like reflections of buildings in Townsville. Am back, more bloggings at weekend.

27 April 2009

this is a great country (*)

See this letter to the Ed of the SMH today:

In Australian politics, rarely does a leader of Malcolm Turnbull's stature appear. This man began his leadership as a standout and has been reduced to a sniper by his party. The ideology of Abbott and Costello has betrayed his leadership style to his detriment and the detriment of this great country. There is simply no one else on the conservative side of politics - local, state or federal - who can hold a candle to Turnbull. In a desert of nomads he was the one bright light that could have attracted a following. Now that has been extinguished. Liberal and National Party factions are tearing the federal Coalition apart on a daily basis. Their trump card has been eliminated from within and it is a sad old commentary on a sad old party.
Shaun Newman Townsville (Qld)

It's pretty silly but it's not the panegyric (?) to Turnbull that gets me (hey, we all have our weaknesses) but the phrase "this great country."

Why does anyone seeking to make some obscure point have to remind their reader/s that Australia is "great?" You wouldn't say "so-so" or appalling because love of country is pretty much self-evident, otherwise you get on a boat or plane, depending on your circumstances (such as, do you have a sound business relationship with someone who is the "scum of the earth" or do you actually prefer an Indon fishing vessel to Qantas)?

Adding "great" doesn't add to your argument. Pollies are always guilty of this inane, reflexive usage. Mrs VVB and I, like many (probably most) Aussies who have lived overseas, understand very deeply what a wonderful and special place we have here. But we don't feel obliged to shout it all the time (or fly the flag from the front lawn or car, for that matter).

Nationalism, leave it alone.

This foregoing, quite inconsequential point has in fact only been a lead-in to my advising you that VVB will be on a few days' break while its owner is away on business.

Talk amongst yourselves, smoke if you wish.

(*) So I googled for a suitable song title or band name for the post. And blow me down, look what I found. After I'd finished retching, I realised I'd just proven my point. Go ahead, you know you want to.

25 April 2009

new wave

I kick it old school.

Damn I love people who use these kind of phrases. Imagine when I'm 80 - hmm, not too far away - how those dern young 'uns will be talking.

Languages aside, the point of the blog - started by
Anil Dash - is to value what you already have, you don't need the latest model.

VVB has always been heavily into this mode of living. We only got a our first TV bigger than 51 cm (isn't that the 'standard' size?) a couple of months ago.

And when I was having trouble getting the new TV to do all its magic tricks with the DVD (about 4 or 5 years old) and the new amp/receiver (replacing my 1986 Luxman), the dude who eventually came to help looked at my NAD CD played and asked was it a new one?

No, the beauty of NAD gear is that their current line of CD players looks just like the 1994 models, which is what I have.

Psst: don't tell Kevin about not buying shiny shiny new things!

And while I'm here...what are readers' (apostrophe placement indicates heartfelt hope I have more than one) views on the child abuse ads on TV. You know, there are three situations:
  • the father who loses his temper and whacks the mower when it won't start, the young son recoils in surprise or fear;
  • the mum stuck into the plonk after either breakfast or lunch (can't tell by the plates on the table, no sign of the kids);
  • the bloke with the little girl in the bedroom, about to do some genuine kiddy-fiddling.
Sure the first two will do some damage in different ways, but the third is more what I associate the word 'abuse' to mean in this context. Wouldn't diffusing the point of the ad in this way reduce its impact? If you're going to put on yet another ad trying to get people to dob -well, that's what it does seek to achieve with its silly "thank you" closure line - surely better to make it a bit more unambiguous?

time is on my side

I'll get to time being on my side in a minute.

In the meantime, when a column in the Times, of all papers, comes down in favour of the benefits of a tax rate that slugs the rich, you know that there are massive shifts afoot.

Mind you, most the comments are along the 'best and brightest'/'masters of the universe' line along with deriding what most evidently must be class envy. Until you get to one Steven Reeve of Southend:

Guess I'll be THE ONE - well done, Ms Turner. Spot on ! Absurd to suggest that we desperately need these so-called high-flyers. High pay does not equate with ability - as our present mess indicates. Judging by the tone of most of the comments it does not equate with integrity / community service.
Stephen Reeve, Southend, UK

I guess we'll believe it when it's an editorial.

Pedant alert! There's always one. Have a read of this article about a Beatles recording and then watch the
comments thread get derailed into a discussion about prepositions. And also score a George W Bush reference. Bizarre what some people see, innit?

Actually the main point of doing a post was not to comment on Anzac Day - I did that over at
Sam the Dog - but to let all and sundry know that an additional two weeks' secondary fermentation has done wonders for the Coopers Stout and it's now quite drinkable with the added prospect of it becoming quite nice indeed. Yay. Time has been on my side all along.

NB: am on second bottle.

24 April 2009

people are strange

"nice tie
we're fucked
i like your tie"



Can you not see the connection between the majority bullying a gifted pupil, and the tax robbery of the country's minority wealth creators?

Well, not immediately, no.

We all know Americans get fixated, well boy do they get fixated.

More fixation of a very different kind:

"I field 800-900 emails a day."

Sound highly unlikely, doesn't it?

Yes, I'm still up.

jeremiah robert was a bullfrog

Here we are, yo ho ho and so on, however I'm r**ted from lurgy and work so not even the tiniest skerrick of energy to waste on attempts to entertain, inform, or anything else.

So, without further ado, I give you Robert the frog. It's a frog which visits our balfalcony every night, well most nights, and Mrs VVB named him Robert.

After that further ado, but without too much additional ado, tonight's musical special is the Moody Blues' Isn't Life Strange. I found a few live versions and ended up not being able to choose between them. This is very much a stage version without all the strings, so just based on what they could do themselves. Voices always let down rock bands and so it is here, but it's real, man. The album, Seventh Sojounr, was always one of my favourites even though the first version I bought, which was on cassetts, had such wildly differing levels between the left and right tracks that it was almost unlistenable. I can't remember why I never took it back to exchange as it was clearly not fit for purpose.


21 April 2009

minor epic failure

So now Turnbull and his assorted bunch of assortments are in high dudgeon because Kevin (that'll be the PM to you, sonny) has only just announced/conceded/boasted that Australia is officially in recession, and he wouldn't previously, so obviously he's covering something up.

Remind me, please, because my memory is crap, just how many minutes ago was it that the same assortments were tearing into Wayne Swan for talking down the economy?

As I believe the contemporary parlance has it:

Consistency: epic FAIL.

Credibility: also EPIC fail.

I think you're meant to read 'fail' as 'failure', but whatevs.

don't forget to remember

As I feel - no dammit, I know - my memory is getting even worse, I've started playing guitar for half an hour or so each night as a way of having to remember chords and words. Also downstairs has some brilliant acoustics because of lots of tiles and hard surfaces.

Anyway suffice to say that I can't remember half of the songs I used to know; time was when I could just go for hours as another (admittedly three chord wonder) popped into my head as I finished the previous one.

More to the point, I'm finding it really difficult to learn new songs. Been working on Diamantina Drover on and off for a couple of weeks, but I can't get either the chords or words to stick. But playing it tonight, I was kind of struck by the mental image conjured up by the first line of the last verse: "I sometimes think I'll settle down in Sydney."

That phrase brings a vivid recollection of going to Sydney as a young bloke (ie starting from about age 9). We'd fly to Sydney and pick up a new car from the works at Zetland, then drive it back.

The CBD was much more accessible then. We used to stay at Criterion, right on the corner of Pitt and Park Streets - the high-diddle-diddle of town, as the old man might have said. It was only ever an average place, I can't really remember the rooms in detail but I'm certain the old man wouldn't have been lashing out for extravagance, we were far from well off in those days. In any case, it's certainly
no longer top drawer.

Sydney now is a nightmare to get around and a lot of its individuality has gone - national franchise brands are everywhere. A Diamantina Drover would be horrified, I think.

So on that basis my visual memory is probably OK, but the other side of the brain she is not working sehr gut.

Probably also explains why I thought of something to blog about while driving to work this morning, but not a trace remains.

Driving to my other office and back yesterday, a trip of just over 200km, I had some fresh CDs in the player including Bread. I'd forgotten the lyricism of David Gates' writing. You might get very 'tired' continually trying to sign in such a high register, but the feeling and emotion is certainly there.

19 April 2009

the air that i breathe

..is first of all filtered through a chair that has a sensor designed to detect the presence of noxious gases and then post a tweet on twitter.

I can't remember how I got to this post/article but:

a) there is no limit to the nonsensical things that people will do;
b) especially if it can be tweeted;
c) it really does give us an insight into the decline of western civilisation.

18 April 2009

i alone

Continuing the once-over-lightly look at (what other people are saying about) libertarianism in its various strains, a couple of sentences stood out in this Guardian article on the regrouping - possibly - of the hard right bit of the Republican Party:

In Norquist's view, American politics consists of two coalitions. One side, on the left, wants "to take things from people and give it to themselves". The other, on the right, may seem like a motley collection of gun-owners, home-schoolers, libertarians, religious devotees and anti-tax activists, but have one thing in common: "They want to be left alone."

"Our founding fathers understood that the guys with the guns make the

By turns highly entertaining and just plain frightening - there's absolutely no problem that can't be fixed by lower taxes, but we all need to carry more armaments - it seems that they're all taking after Greta Garbo and "just want to be left alone."

It'd be an interesting society (taking a loose interpretation of society) that resulted.

17 April 2009

we don't need another hero

Damn, I started this post and then lost the lot. Oh well...now what did I say?

I actually started by reflecting on work from home. I don't feel very Friday-ish because for the last two days I've stayed home so as to minimise the broadcasting of whatever lurgy it is that I have, the symptoms being sore glands, bunged up nose, headache. Not really bad but enough to not inflict on the office.

However as I have a 3G enabled laptop (in the loosest possible interpretation of the word 'enable', that is) I can still operate. And because we have a few intensive things on the go at the moment, I haven't got that 'yay, Friday, quick post with some appropriate YouTube clip' feeling.

But, we shall plod on regardless. Via
Bookforum, excellent as always, we learn of a magazine called Good. Kind of strikes the right note, doesn't it? And in Good, learn various things associated with bottled water. As always, one particular phrase might make more of an impression than its neighbouring words:

Every bottle of water in the country might as well have a stamp that says “Approved by Bob.
Yes, quite Good.

Very fortunately, I think, the Ayn Rand cult never took hold in Australia to the same extent it did in the US. Even now, US philosophy and economics journals are an ongoing battleground between the true believers, known as Randroids, and normal people who recognise human frailty as a non-negotiable part of life (whoa, I first wrote 'existence' and then realised what I'd done. Close call). This article, from the Guardian (UK) I notice, is beaut but, as always, the comments are better. One commenter simply posts a well known quote (I say well-known simply because I've run across it before):

There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.
This excerpt from the article itself also caught my eye:

He has also encouraged several other similar heroes to join him. These are all supermen: supremely intelligent, rich, very good-looking and clever. Without them the world outside begins to collapse and destroy itself, as a collection of two-dimensional "college educated" caricatures pass increasingly idiotic legislation in the name of "essential need", and feed ever more hungrily on the few producers whom Galt has not yet taken to Colorado.
And the reason it caught my eye was because only a little earlier, over dinner, I saw this in the Business Review Weekly:

"The five o'clock shadow, square jaw and broad shoulders have muscled their way
back on to the catwalk and catalogues of leading men's fashion brands as the global financial crisis leaves the Western world hankering for heroes. Myer national corporate affairs manager Mitch Catlin says the metrosexual look has been dropped in favour of a more traditional image of masculinity."

So it looks like Rand was right - in a limited sort of way.

Reading on, we find:

"The credit crunch has left the metrosexual lost and afraid," a lecturer in marketing and retail at London Metropolitan University, Jeremy Baker, says. "The economic crisis has provoked a rapid change in the man of our ideals. The machosexual has been forced to emerge with a desire to be the pioneer of change, to lead everybody out of the current economic mess."

Leaving aside the utter superficiality of the analysis ("I've got a BA in retail", what a conversation-stopper), the fatuousness of the notion of only certain folks being lost and afraid (seen any news clips of big tough miners crying because they've lost their jobs - no metrosexuals there), I have to ask you: "Machosexual?" "Lead us out of the economic mess?"

(Drum roll). Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: (BOO!).

Well that has to be enough silliness for one Friday. Tomorrow I pay for my working days at home because I'm working again - real stuff with real people. In the meantime, as always, we need a little something to help us slide into the weekend. And today it's a video from the cheesy 80s, but it brings back many memories for me - where I was working in the mid-eighties we had a self-run club where we'd go for (many, many) drinks each Friday night. There was a video and data projector and I had about half a dozen tapes from Rage and similar music video programs that I'd put on. This was one. Enjoy it for what it is.

Update: Whoa, Randian references is everywherez.

16 April 2009

beware of darkness

Especially if you're under a mushroom. That's where the government and MSM want to keep you.

And you know
what you'll be fed.

Over and out.

(puts on tinfoil hat, creeps out slowly, backwards)

15 April 2009

we're in the money

Have been sort of following the BrisConnections fiasco while only understanding about a tenth of it.

And hence this quote in an article in today's SMH kind of set me off somewhat:

Among the more positive reactions were: "Congrats must go to Nicholas Bolton", "you played the game and won!" and "Mr Bolton has done with BrisConnections what the mum & dad investors were all too dumb or gutless to do - cashed in on capitalism".

Well yes, I suppose. Provided you rather people saved their money in those old Commonwealth Bank money boxes, or interest-bearing savings accounts, or debentures, or spent it at Harvey Norman, the best way to encourage ordinary people to invest in companies that will build the country is to label them dumb and gutless.

I'll go out on a limb here are posit that the twitterer is a self-indulgent gen Y who's never really had to work for anything, possibly an equities analyst where the chief decision is what wine to order for lunch, because no risk whatsoever attached to any 'analysis' or 'recommendation' he produced. I could just spit.

Then you get "Stephen Mayne's analysis of the situation and if you're anything like me (all obvious responses to that will be ignored), you try to understand the articles and you watch the principal players (oh yes that's such an appropriate word in this context) obfuscating and management-speaking on TV and you come to two simple conclusions:
1) Government fear of taking on debt has simply given us outrageously complex financing arrangements that mainly finance lawyers and merchant bankers, ie BMW owners; and
2) they all appear to be crooks.

Now, is there anyone else I can insult?

Update, the next day.

Looks like my interpretation is shared.

14 April 2009

i can't explain

The Who's classic intro single was of course about the first stirrings of lurrve in the heart, but in fact was more likely the groin, even though Roger Daltrey claimed to be "dizzy in the head." Well, you know what happens when all the blood drains elsewhere.

But, quelle surprise, we digress! Today's crikey.com.au newsletter contains a couple of references that certainly had yer 'umble correspondent bemused.

Item 1:

When you factor in the virtual goods available on social networking platforms like Facebook, it's a multi-billion dollar industry that's growing by the week -- something most corporates are at least getting some awareness of. Teen virtual world Habbo Hotel recently reported fifty million Euros in revenue from sales of virtual furniture and clothes during 2008.
So, do I have this straight? Teenagers pay real money for virtual goods that only exist within the game? Please tell me that this sort of profligacy will die right out once daddy's lost his mega-million dollar/pound/euro/rupee banking job and all of a sudden kids have to make their own fun, in the real world, in real time. With cardboard and string.

Please tell me it's not true.

Item 2:
OneSteel surprised by asking for its shares to be suspended "pending a further
announcement from the company in relation to the company's financial outlook."
VVBSea has some (inherited) shares in OneSteel. Now, I've just come off what was essentially a 14 hour day, Mrs VVB slacked the usual 8. When are we supposed to get time to monitor our (actually not very substantial) holdings and make informed decisions? Work/life balance, pah! (NB: Particularly when you take the need to blog into account. I think I've just lost my own argument, but I wasn't there when shares were suspended).

So, what I can't explain is how the world has changed and we haven't. Mrs VVB reckons I'm turning into my father, it sounded like the prelude to a threat. So excuse me while I pop outside and assume the lotus position.

13 April 2009

come out swinging

Having been led to the on-line Australian - how on earth that happened I don't know - I learn that a group within the Liberal Party, known as the Big Swinging Dicks, are trying to bring down Julie Bishop.

I found this quite astonishing. Who would have guessed that anyone within the Libs had a dick?

Of course it's a Glen Milne article so it ends with a little snark intended to cast nasturtiums at Malcolm Turnbull so that Peter Costello can, according to some type of divine right apparent only to Milne and Costello himself, stroll into the leadership at some as yet undetermined time in the future.


But I did laugh about the dicks.

12 April 2009

within you without you

Because of all the chocolate bunnies and other religious artifacts flying around, we slept in. A bit.

We probably should have slept in longer because once we had the coffee and the paper, we also had Morning Sunrise or whatever they call the Sunday variant of the Mel 'n Kochie show.

Anyway, most of it was - unsurprisingly - devoted to popular 'culture', wherein I was quite speechless to learn that Michael Jackson, the King of Pop (r) (tm) is auctioning lots of the things he has collected from "Disneyland and other places around the world."

Now at this stage I could take you through the thoughts that ensued this revelation, but somehow, I think you're there already.

Shaping up to be a good day, it was. So, off to the computer we trooped.

Tigtog links to Pharyngula wherein you can find Christopher Hitchens responding on an altogether different plane to his literally-minded interlocutor. It's a classic and you need to not only listen but read the comments.

It would be remiss and quite unbecoming of me to leave you in that place. So I'm going to lift you up.
This is something far more real than Disneyland or any of the other constructions that people will load on you, particularly at this time of year, to get you to their way of thinking. People trying to do good is always OK by me and when they do it with music, it's all the better. (Alternative link here, may download better).

Now you all enjoy, you hear me?

In other news, we've got some Coopers Stout about to start bubbling away downstairs, some work to be done before Tuesday and two cars to wash. How much excitement can we bear?

11 April 2009

one world

I gather from the comments that the Boston Phoenix must be a leftist newspaper. Diatribes about "leftists" are everywhere nowadays. I don't recall too many admonitions against "rightists" as a group or in general over the last ten years, although I certainly recall plenty against individual politicians of the right: Bush, Blair and Howard spring to mind (oh really? whoda thunk it?).

So on the basis of my categorisation of the Phoenix, I guess
this is just a giant scare campaign with only a few truths in its kernel. Makes for interesting reading, anyway: if even some of its assertions are true, then those who lost the last US election are taking it very badly indeed.

Just as well we don't get that kind of disproportionate response here in Oz but just to be safe, don't let Nick Minchin anywhere near it.

10 April 2009

i want you

People who own their own businesses are happier because...they can point at you and say "you will purchase my product/service/widget/other stuff."

That would seem to be the case from the quite bizarre photo atop
this article.

"I want YOU...as my customer."

It's a bit vague of what happens next, except you get less free time to purchase other people's products/services/widgets/other stuffs.

Mrs VVB wants to know why all of a sudden Good Friday church services are overflowing with people carrying replica crosses everywhere, it didn't happen when she were but a babe in arms. Or slightly older perhaps, in that she could remember Easter without lumberjacks in every church.

The rest of the day was taken up mainly with sleeping, as a result of a several nights without a good sound sleep. I cracked a bottle of the last brew, a Cooper Real Ale and it was foul.

I hope it gets better with a little age, this was only just under two weeks.

friday on my mind

That'll be Good Friday, of course.

Traditionally a slow news day - the old man used to go bananas because it was the one day of the year when no newspaper thudded onto the front lawn - allow me to give you some peeks into alternative worlds.

Well, this certainly is:
Barack from Kickassistan. Seriously weird.

And I'd started a post last night on the story of the innocent passer-by in the environs of the G20 summit who got pummelled by the rozzers and then had a heart attack. The London rozzers have some
form here, of course, but incremental increases to police and more broadly based coercive powers - think application of supposed anti-terrorist legislation to safeguard investments (stupidly high risk investments) in Iceland, that sent the country bankrupt.

The special legislation that gets introduced for one-off events - economic summits,
visits by Daddy Goodspeak (interpretation here) - but somehow remains on the statute books so people can be cleared off the streets without any good reason. Think back to Joh days. And don't get me started on the so-called "anti-hooning" laws now in place around Australia. Where if you accelerate from rest to the legal speed limit in anything under 4 hours, you're "hooning" and you lose your car.

Stone the crows, how did we get here? That's not a peek into anything but some of my various obsessions. I see the rozzer in question has been stood down, there's talk of a police cover-up (oh really, that's novel), you wonder how the family feels - they have been
far more reticent in their grief than those who even turn their own tragedies into 15 minutes of fame.

More relevant, the talking heads on the morning TV show report that sales of science fiction are soaring. Most appropriate for today. Also there's a brand new ab crunch machine that will render all your old ab crunch machines obsolete. Fortunately it folds away to store under the bed, unfortunately there's no room under the bed because that's where all the old ab crunch machines are. In fact there's so many of them, there's no room for communists (Redgum joke).

Anyway, better slip away to do something, or nothing. Yep, slip away. You can too. Enjoy. (Note: should be safe for Laurie).

07 April 2009


It'd certainly be more...efficient...if I did all my evening blogging at once, but that'd get in the way of guitar 'practice' (ha bloody ha there) and getting all the work I brought home out of my bag and looking at it.

And eating grapes. Tell me, is it possible to stop at, say, 10?

Anyway, Aussies always get up in arms about local brands being sold overseas and you get endless arguments about the benefits of foreign investment and the evils of multinationals. But we don't really, if we looked in our heart of hearts (you know, just as an aside, where is the heart of hearts? is it inside the, like, you know, proper heart, or is it, kind of, you know, in the soul? just askin', you know what I mean)...er, where was I, oh yeah, if we looked where I said, we'd really trooly rooly admit that we don't do comments threads like the Poms.
Cultural cringe? Hah, who cares, it's damned fine entertainment.

Isn't it?

I feel more cheated and duped by this than the bankers.

In which case you're a fool.

Anyone who bought an inncocent (note that 90s lower-casey-ness) smoothie other than for the fact that they were thirsty and it tasted good seriously wants their head examining.

Ad guys set up company exploiting gap in market for ready-made smoothies and layer on foksy-marketing, complete with grass covered vans, a head office called Fruit Towers, a nice music event in Hyde Park were mummy and daddy can take Ben and Rosie to sample the latest strawberry and kiwi concoctions.. and you feel cheated??

They gave you everything you wanted, for God's sake!

Well done, lads. Take the money and run. As you well know, you'll lose a few bollytas and gain millions of Federicas and Giulianas, who'll also kid themselves they're saving the planet, one papaya at a time. Kerching.

spy vs spy

Anyone having any doubts at all that we now live in a Surveillance State, that there are rozzers behind every parapet just waiting for you to transgress the unwritten law, and if you've nothing to hide then you've nothing to fear (a staple of letters to the editor writers in these here parts, should just read Harry Hutton and stfu.

That which was once the realm of science fiction is a reality.

In fairness, I'd be highly sceptical of some of his commenters, though.

06 April 2009

convenient parking (*)

Crikey.com.au reports John Mellor of online car mag GoAuto on the practices of Melbourne airport vis-a-vis parking revenue.

"In Melbourne, airport management has basically shut down any parking on any
public roads within the airport area -- and beyond -- to stop drivers from waiting to meet incoming passengers in any place other than their high-priced car parks.
Airport staff, exercising regulatory powers passed on by the state government, secretly take down the number plates of cars alleged to be stationary in these public areas with owners later getting a $110 parking fine in the mail."
The Age also

Well that just about presses all of my hot buttons.
a) What happens when you privatise a previously government-operated monopoly.
b) What happens when you delegate the State's coercive powers to a private entity. Do you see anything wrong with being given a parking ticket without any evidence?
c) What happens when you give Jobsworths a uniform and pencil.
d) What happens when you have to ride roughshod over the liberty to park in a public street in order to make the 'numbers' stack up.

Being blind in both eyes, I fail to see how the defenders of privatisations can stick to their stories, it seems to me, nearly all of the infrastructure privatisations have contained as many dodgy practices (think Sydney's Cross-city tunnel) as a sideshow knock-em-down.

I'm not against privatisations: no sirree, I don't want to be shot in the court of neoclassical opinion. Just do 'em straight, don't bodgy the numbers.

Of course, governments desperate to avoid borrowing on their own accounts will always succomb to whatever prestidigitation some flibinite developer mesmerises them with.

Note: not all of this post may be serious, up to you to guess which bits.

(*) Apparently a song by a band known as Modest Mouse. I think they're after my time.

05 April 2009

take me for a ride in your car car

There's a few kilometres between our place and 'town'. It's mostly dual carriageway but there are a couple of stretches of single lane road. I was on the road today and, coming up to the end of dual carriageway before the longest piece of single lanery, I came up behind a car obviously travelling slower than me and, it seemed, well below the 100 km/hr speed limit. I went to sneak past, they immediately sped up and also moved into the right hand lane early, to keep me out.

And then proceeded to drive at between 85 and 90 for the whole stretch of single carriageway, at the end of which there was a procession of a dozen cars waiting to get past.

Some people should have their licences taken from them if they can't handle the posted limits. Then be shot, and then eaten. And not get their licences back.

Jeremy Clarkson is someone who appreciates the meaning of a posted limit in terms of smooth flow of traffic, but
look what happens when he drives a car that can't make the grade. I loved his suggestion that they should have called it the "Imodium."

Mr Clarkson is also a vehement opponent of the nanny-state and I have to say I'm with him in most cases. The arrival of technology that simplifies remote monitoring of both public and private behaviour, combined with the incursion of the State into more of our lives, is far from a benevolent development.

It's trite and a truism that technology has outstripped governments' ability to respond. You'd think that this would be a sufficient reason to look at government processes with a view to ensuring that governments can respond in a more timely fashion.

This is where our adversarial model of government is unhelpful. If a government and opposition could agree on what were the big long and short term challenges, they'd be better placed to respond.

Instead, we get
this kind of puerile schoolyard spat.

Inconsequential linguistic annoyance of the day: the use of "name-check" for "reference."

04 April 2009

in deep

Shoulda stayed on the computer keyboard, as I dived into Bookforum for a little more meat than in the previous post. And indeed, we discover in some depth whether constant/incessant/ increasing time at the pooter is turning us into cyborgs. No, is the stern reply, but it's a genuinely fascinating read as we get there. The article and interview explore the link between shorter attention spans and how we think and interact when on-line. Tellingly, I stopped reading halfway through. And went to sit on the verandah - where it was much cooler - to pluck on the guitar. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

Dipping another toe into the water, we get some
reflections on the reign of Margaret Thatcher. It's an even-handed piece that doesn't attempt to sheet Britain's social changes solely to Thatcher's supposed capitalist revolution. But she bears a good deal of the responsibility, according to the article, if only because she failed to understand what she was actually dealing with.

Want to live a good life? Exhibit some
sympathy. And if you want to do it well, you'll need a whisperer. Going forward, you'll be getting up close and personal and, like, it'll be all about you.

Finally - do you really think people buy more of Product X if it's advertised through Brand Power than through an ad direct from the maker? And if Brand Power a better product than What's New or Zoot Review? "Yeah, I saw it on Zoot Review and I was, like, wow?"

Give me strength.

a quick one

Bears wearing jaunty ties do what in the woods?

The comments are in the whoda guessed it category, the research certainly seems a little...predictable. Possibly even denecessary.

The Courier Mail is all up in arms today about
kids fighting and posting on Youtube. The only difference between now and, umm, 50 years ago - umm, as I recall - is Youtube. It's been a long time since I heard "fight, fight."

Who would
condom Kevin Rudd? (Hint: No 96). Wriggle out of that one!

03 April 2009

emotional rescue

So, in defiance of all trends and despite a feeling, observed several times over the last few days, that woooooork is more than a four letter word and is in fact endless, here we are on the most very forward-pressing part of the weekend. So before we get to a suitable piece of music to launch our weekend endeavours/reverie/insert suitable noun here, it behoves us to indulge in a small spot of reflection. Are we settled comfortably? Then let us begin.

'Across' is not a substitute for 'throughout.' Well, actually it has been for quite some time. In fact it's been yonks since I've seen someone deploy 'throughout'...except for me, because I insert it at every opportunity.

Today in explaining some current activities to a group, I used 'roll out' instead of 'implement' or 'extend'. I felt quite queasy afterwards, but I'm sort of OK now I've confessed.

It seems that
Coca-Cola has been very naughty by trying to convince people who don't know any better - ie, teenagers, of course -that Coke is good for you. But it's not. And Kerry Armstrong's brand has been tarnished through her association with something that's not good for you and isn't "Bob Jelly.

She needs some of


The G20 leaders have met in Lonodn - which, like Bahrain, is a pretty bloody place to be,
as you will recall - and agreed to do lots of things, starting with instructing their minions to do some actual doing. It was all very exciting and afterwards they all had to go and have a good lie down.

Except for the PM - referred to on Sunrise during the week as "our boy in London", can you imagine any newsreader referring to John Winston Howard in such familiar terms? Or Keating, for that matter. Looks like Kev's our mate for some time yet.

Anyway it looks like Our Kev vented some of his apparently well-known anger at a RAAF hostie - sorry, an in-flight services (except for meat, you vego dickhead) and provisions coordination supervisor, officers for the use of - who failed to serve up the previously requested (unless the order went astray, we've had a change in our IT providers and all last week's orders have disappeared into the ether, sorry PM maaaate) curried egg sanger. Maybe one of the senior military officials who no doubt accompanied the PM could suggest that in future, a spare Batman or two might be requisitioned so that our maaaate Kevin 0-PM can get a falafel kebab without having to chuck an in-flight spack attack?

What? Oh, I mean

Anyway, the global theft and professional mendicant industry is going to have to withstand some greater scrutiny going forward. You'll have guessed it, of course, but countries will need to bolster their public services by recruiting lots of scrutes in order that adequate scrutiny can be undertaken. In academic circles, this is known as tax-eating. Nah, just joking.
I am particularly looking forward to greater regulatory oversight of the ratings agencies. The law of unintended consequences will undoubtedly come into play, I just can't quite picture how.

Anyway, enough of this frippery and folderol. Last week I made
Laurie's head explode with some hello sailor - go on, you can open this one, mate - so this week I really need to make amends. The bit that starts at 1.39 is, without a shadow of a doubt, just sublime. Sorry I couldn't find a good enough live version of the whole thing.

Enjoy your weekends.

02 April 2009

the real thing

Several years after the rest of the world, I am so over 'reality' TV. Faux stern 'hosts'; incomprehensible never-ending internal monologues; false 'choices' that really aren't; the 'house'; petty backstabbing; changes of rules when the model stops working mid-season; the 'house'; ascribing monumental importance to utter trivia; does it ever end? Surely people are heartily sick of it all by now?

Over at Mental Floss you can get lots of lists made up by people who, I suspect, watch a lot of reality TV. Anyway, they're running a competition for people to vote for new isms. A couple are
moderately chuckleworthy.

You can also buy T-shirts. One is almost perfect for
this little blog.

And one is perfect for
people who studied mathematic at school. That's right, only one of it. I heard a pollie, I'm pretty sure a Federal minister, refer to 'math' on radio the other day.

I don't know if it's possible to physically strangle a radio, but that's what I felt like doing.

I was, like, all omg that we are, like, so not Aussies any more.

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