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Monday, December 29, 2003


Another attempted hiatus notice 

So I'm in Sydney from tomorrow until the weekend, so I can guarantee that posting will cease until Monday, January 5th. New years should be fun. If you're lucky you might get a picture or two, but I wouldn't count on it.

Now, before I go, I've added the Adam Smith Institute Blog to the sidebar. It's very good to read if you have any kind of interest in economics; and I say that despite them being U.K. based and me being noticably not based in the U.K. Anyway, go and say hi to the good doctors (and others) there.

Finally, I'll throw in a link to Random Prose, despite him not bothering to link me in his gratuitous linking post. This is obviously an inferior blog. Curses!

Well, I'm off to kill something. See you all in 2004!

UPDATE: This blog is slightly less inferior now. Yay!


Another polling retirement 

It's time again to retire my attempted ego-stroking poll. Here we go:

Out of 146 votes:

Marty is:
... too cool for school. -- 12 votes - 8%
... abnormally awesome. -- 3 votes - 2%
... the greatest person on earth bar none. -- 64 votes - 44%
... too bloody full of himself! -- 67 votes - 46%


I'm thinking that 46% of you are just jealous. Please amuse yourself with the new, less egotistical poll.


A Holiday Story 

I know I should be taking several days off in accordance with my previous decree, but I just can't help myself.

I was discussing Mark Latham with (dare I say it) an old friend of mine who just happens to be a complete, utter, total leftist. I've had arguments with this guy before that just turn into massive bitchfights because he knows precisely what he's talking about and I get treated with complete contempt for having the audacity to disagree with him. Given our previous argument history, I was expecting this discussion about Mark Latham to descend quickly into the same kind of hissy-fit name-calling that sees me exiting quickly with my dignity still intact. This discussion remained civil, and I actually convinced my friend of Latham's current tail-between-legs politics, trying to heal the bruises he's delivered on himself over his past.

However, I digress. Since this discussion remained civil, it actually got me thinking as to what it was that I did right. It's all in the way the argument is delivered, I finally concluded. The broader topic of the discussion was how good an alternative Latham's Labor would be to the "real evil of the Liberal Party". Since I was trying to have a civilised debate, I didn't bother setting off the ArguBomb™ (also known as the MaturiNuke™) by trying to get him to understand how the Libs aren't evil; but rather take the different angle of how Latham isn't really an effective alternative for one who sits left-of-centre. I guess what I'm trying to say is that no matter how strong your argument is, if you can't directly appeal to and disprove their argument by taking their angle, you don't have a chance in hell of convincing them of anything.

As pointed out by Alex Singleton at the Adam Smith Institute Blog, the general style of arguments from the political left take one out of two paths. The first is generally simplistic insults, common on a lot of left-leaning internet message boards. "Bush stole the election because he's a Republican", or "Saddam tried to kill Bush's daddy and is sitting on a lot of oil - that's why he took us to war". They're unsubstantiated, factually unsupported pot-shots at a president they clearly know nothing about. Some guy was slagging him off on television, so he must be right!

The second type of common leftist argument is one taken by most academics. They will baffle you with meaningless jargon (or vague obscurities) to support their wildly idealistic philosophies. Commonplace are arguments or statements like "the evil technocrats are yet again pulling the string from behind with their cancerous rhetoric." You'll notice that it's just ordinary spiteful slagging, but it's decorated with large, emotive words.

I often notice that a vague or spiteful argument is often compensating for a lack of understanding of the subject matter. It's all well and good to despise multi-national corporations like the left do, but why? Because they "crush the little guys"? They "pay and treat foreign workers like slaves"? Any understanding of capitalist economics would quickly dispel that argument. The cost of unskilled labour is cheaper in developing nations like China and Indonesia, so multi-nationals will put up plants there as it costs less to make the same product. Private enterprise moving to less-developed countries creates employment and wealth for the workers. As a result of newly-employed workers obtaining wealth, they can afford to consume more. So long as nothing affects this growth trend (e.g. wars or bad governments), the country will have more wealth floating around it and so everyone can afford proper education; everyone can afford good quality food; everone is a lot better off as a result. So, what's so bad about globalisation if it will end up working for the greater good?

It helps to have a proper understanding of things before you get too wound up in an argument. Even then, the left seems to have this uncanny ability to block out anything they don't want to hear. Me? I'm quite happy to be conclusively proven wrong. It means I've learned something new. Try proving a lefty wrong and you'll be wearing an insult like "I know best, and you're just a damn fool."


Tuesday, December 23, 2003


Hiatus notification 

There's a little bit of meat in today's posting because I'm taking a vacation from this blog until 2004. That is not to say that I won't update at all, because if I feel there is something to blog about, I'll update here. But posting will certainly come to a near, if not complete halt over the festive season.

Regular posting will resume on the 5th of January, 2004

Best wishes to all who read this - see you next year!


Take this, tree-huggers! 

I read this article and I was wondering why it was awesome. I then looked to see who wrote it, and it was none other than Andrew Sullivan.

...Alongside the religious Right, there is also an irreligious Right in the US. They are an often urban, culturally liberal, fiscally conservative slice of the population who are as appalled by Left-liberal humbug as they are turned off by evangelical theocrats. Politics is not as important to these people as their everyday lives, their desire to be left alone. But when those lives are threatened -- by over-taxation, government regulation or the mass murders perpetrated by Islamist terrorists -- they get engaged.

Theirs is a negative politics in the classic conservative sense. Their politics is in the service of their lives, not the other way round. To quote [Dennis] Miller again: "I will say this, I feel more politically engaged than I've ever felt in my life because I do think we live in dangerous times. Anybody who looks at the world and says this is the time to be a wuss - I can't buy that anymore."


That's me, baby.

There's only one thing that I'm not sure whether I agree with in the article though. Sullivan writes:

If people wonder why anti-war celebrities such as Janeane Garofalo or Michael Moore failed to win over the younger generation, you have only to watch South Park to see why. The next generation sees through the cant and piety, and cannot help giggling.

In one episode, when liberal talk-show host Rosie O'Donnell shows up to lecture the children about democracy, their teacher declares: "People like you preach tolerance and open-mindedness all the time, but when it comes to middle America you think we're all evil and stupid country yokels who need your political enlightenment. Just because you're on TV doesn't mean you know crap about the government." The teacher is a thinly veiled closeted homosexual.


Idiots like Michael Moore seem to have a big impact on most non-political types (young and old), because he markets himself as a typical guy that speaks the "truth". It also seems easier for the more idealist of people to get a strangle-hold on a non-political's mind. There must be something in the human psyche that responds easier to criticism -- however irrational or misinformed -- of a country's leader than support of the country's leader. Or maybe it's just that people caught up by losers like Moore tend to become whingy crackpots that absolutely must have their voice heard over everyone elses. That's democracy, yo.


Economatic 3000™ 

I'm bored, so I'm going to say some things. Starting with yet another crazy Adbusters campaign: Buy Nothing Day.

The general idea of the day is for anti-consumers to get out there and spread the message of "don't consume! Save your money! You don't need this stuff! You're all suffering from corporate brainwash and propaganda!" In other words, the day is just a big dig at consumer culture. Organisers of BND have goals to curb overall consumption to the point where ... um, well basically the wheels fall off the economy. It's typical of organisations of this ilk to spew doomsday warnings of capitalism collapsing and that communism does have substantial benefits. Although it must be noted that communism has fallen in the Soviet Union and more recently (and to much less acknowledgement) in China.

Anyway, this kind of backwards-moving forward-thinking these guys are apparently full of is complete fluff. It should be obvious that private enterprise means cheap goods; but it's not. Why protect industries that, frankly, your country isn't any good at? Australians, for example, aren't exactly brilliant car manufacturers when compared to the Japanese and the Europeans and yet we feel this is an industry we should protect. As a result of saving a few remedial jobs, we have a ridiculous import tariff (somewhere around 10-15% I think) on new cars that are of better quality. The best way to improve the quality of Australian cars would be to pit them in direct competition in the Australian car marketplace with overseas contestants so that the Australian makers will pull their fingers out and hopefully out-do their foreign competitors. It works in the domestic marketplace, so why shouldn't it work in the international marketplace? Another question that begs to be asked is: What is more important? The quality of the product or the hands that made it?

My answer to the question would be that no matter what the quality of the product is, the hands that made it would remain the same. Car manufacturers would need to employ people to assemble cars no matter if the quality was good or utter crap. So, why stunt technological progress (such as Holden in Australia coming up with a better engine than that dumb pushrod V8 they use) with protection, instead of forcing them by means of gross competition to innovate and be at the front of their field?

Going back to the anti-consuming Adbusters, I think they have an economic point. It's obvious that it's more beneficial for a society's progress to have massive import and export tariffs slapped onto everything to Stop Corporate Power™ and therefore be getting around in crap cars that are more detrimental to the environment than current ones, due to the lack of stimulation for innovation. It's obviously better to be buying groceries from your friend Joe for about $50 per week more than you would if you bought them from your local supermarket chain. And it's obvious that if we all still lived in the stone age before the concept of currency was brought in, we'd be much happier.

Much happier indeed.


Monday, December 22, 2003


Funniest Simpsons quote that I've heard this week 

From the episode where Lisa joins Mensa

Business Woman: "Do I detect some sarcasm in what you're saying?"

Professor Frink: "What are you talking about? This baby is going off the charts!"

Comic Book Guy: "Oh, a sarcasm detector! Now that's a real useful invention!"

*machine explodes*


'Tis the season 

It's nearly Christmas. Several pundits have closed down, or at least slowed activity due to the impending holiday season. Since there will be a lot of drivers on the road (probably those bloody pundits), and I need more content, I'm going to steal Jim's idea of a guide to driving in Atlanta and do a guide to driving around New South Wales.

1) Wearing P plates* and having 6 subwoofers with crap R'n'B playing from the back of your tiny hatchback won't put me off. Nor will dickhead skater boys neglecting to wear a shirt.

2) While we're on the subject; face it, your stupid 1985 Corolla was never meant to be constantly revved at 5,500rpm. Wondering why it's blowing black smoke? Oh, and front-wheel burnouts don't impress anyone. Unless you do it while attempting a roundabout in the wet. Then I'll laugh.

3) Make sure you're in the proper lane to turn before you get to the turn. If you're dumb enough to be in the wrong lane, I'm not going to let you in unless traffic is very heavy and is only moving at 10km/h.

4) I'm not afraid to use hi-beams if you're doing an unnecessary 50km/h in an 80 zone.

5) Don't sit right on my tail unless I do the same to you. Which I won't.

6) At traffic lights, green means go and red means stop. Why the hell do you sit there like a stunned mullet upon a green light showing, yet you're quite happy to not slow down at a red light?

7) You don't need to scream around the streets, but on the other hand, if you're going unnecessarily slow for whatever reason, I will deploy my Camry's hidden laser cannon.

8) I don't give a shit if you have a big Jeep; I want that bloody park and I'm going to get it!

9) If I have my driver's side window down, don't get into the lane next to me and talk to me. I don't want to talk to you unless I signal you to do so. Which I won't.

10) I don't care if you're wearing L plates* either; if you're unable to cope with the situation of traffic (i.e. you can't operate a clutch properly), you shouldn't be driving.


I think that may be it. Any further suggestions can be left in the comments of course.

* Drivers on provisional licenses must display "P" plates, for all those out-of-staters.
** As above, but "L" plates for those with Learner licenses.


Scare tactics! 

The U.S. government has put the terrorism alert to 'high' after intelligence is pointing to a terrorist attack that could rival September 11th:

Homeland Security officials said there was also concern about the possible use of chemical, biological or radiological weapons.

It is the first time in seven months that the US has issued an orange alert - the second-highest status after red - and Mr Ridge said the threat was "perhaps greater now than at any point since September 11th, 2001".


I'm waiting for the kooks out there to jump up and down calling this "Christmas scare tactics" and so on.

UPDATE: Sure enough:

Bush can literally do this terror alert stuff any time he wants for as long as he wants -- fear and bullying being his only political strategy -- and there is no way for the public to know if it has any basis in fact.

The strategy works because when in fear, people tend to err on the side of caution, giving Bush the benefit of any doubt.

What is most frightening is not the alleged terrorism, but the logic of the fear-mongering itself.


And then there's this:

I asked a close friend who works with DHS about the latest threat level change today. His comment was there is no imminent threat, nor has there been anything discernable on the horizon. His explanation was that based on nhow DHS is funded, the only way they can keep all the analysts working over the holiday is to elevate the threat level. If they didn't, everyone would be out of the office for at least two weeks.


It proves my theory that if the American government is remotely concerned about a possible attack and they warn people of it, it's a scare tactic to get political gain; yet if they don't say a thing and one does happen, they knew all about it and didn't tell anybody. It's a lose-lose situation. Then again, is there anybody out there with a brain that would take these morons seriously?


Friday, December 19, 2003


Sidebar Shenanigans 

I thought I'd be really cool and do quite a sizable update to my sidebar. You'll notice plenty of new links, all of which are worthy of a read. I'd link more, but the ones I added were the ones that I didn't forget.

So go ahead and take a look-see at them! NOW!


Thursday, December 18, 2003


Open 24/7 

I have no problem with Arabs. Especially when they're sensible:

The jubilation in Baghdad put the Arab media to shame. America, for this brief moment at least if not for longer, is a liberator and not an occupier. I can’t help being smug, since what I saw gave me back some confidence in the possibility of justice in this world. I had almost lost hope. It took George Bush to give me that back. I don’t agree with him on many things, and while many Americans share my stand, I’ll give the man his due. He will go down in Arab history as the liberator of Baghdad, even if the whole mission in Iraq comes to nothing more than this.


Yet all the Bush and America haters out there still can't see past their petty hatred and give the man his dues. Read the whole thing. After you've done that, compare that sentiment (written by an Arab, don't forget) against the sentiment expressed by The Guardian:

"Why are the Iraqi police and the American soldiers not caring about the remains of the dead?" said Ali Jassim, 20, who dug one of the makeshift graves with his bare hands. "We are Muslims and these body parts must be buried." Like many in the crowd, he could not accept that the bombers had been Iraqis. "This is happening because of the open borders around our country, people are coming in to do this."


That's strange, I thought Iraq was actually very difficult to enter. According to lefty Niall Cook, at least:

Very few internationals are free to come and go into and out of Iraq without US-led coalition permission. Ironically less than were permitted under Saddam. International freight firms still don't, as a rule, fly into Iraq and commercial airlines most certainly don't.


Interesting. So what's the dealio? If it's so hard to get into Iraq, it's America's fault for being too strict. If the borders are completely open, it's America's fault for having no security. If they're moderately controlled, it's America's fault because one or two foreign terrorists got in, yet other people still can't. Those Americans will never win!


This'll get complaints 

Wahey! Here is a rather bizarre story:

BEIJING - Had it not been for the Sars outbreak earlier this year, the sex orgy involving close to 300 Japanese tourists probably would not have turned into a diplomatic embarrassment for both Tokyo and Beijing.

This is because their company-sponsored 'comfort trip' to the southern city of Zhuhai would not have been postponed until the eve of Sept 18, the date which marks the beginning of Japan's occupation of China during World War II.


Maybe the delay secretly coincided with the anniversary so the Japanese could try out another "brutal occupation"?


Wednesday, December 17, 2003


Clarification 

So anyway, other projects and illicit dealings are eating up all my time. Well, for today at least. Full service will should might continue tomorrow. If tomorrow is a little easier on me than today was.


Double you em deez 

I'm updating right now because I feel obliged. As a result, this is a half-assed post to satisfy my "weekdaily update" criteria. It's been a busy day today, and I'm tired. So, um, read this editorial by John Hawkins. It's very valid.


Tuesday, December 16, 2003


I need new shoes... 

While I was at the Adbusters site before (see previous post), I checked out a project they're undertaking called The BlackSpot Sneaker. I think I may have mentioned it on this site before, but I can't find it in my archives. Anyway, the object of this project is basically to stick it to Nike and Phil Knight because of their use of cheap labour and fabulous profits.

This shoe will be made from quality labour out of only the finest ingredients. My biggest problem about the whole project is that nowhere on the BlackSpot Sneaker website can I find how they're going to tackle the manufacturing process. What's even funnier is that they think this will work as a marketing strategy:

STEP 1 - THE NEW YORK TIMES
Let’s launch the “Unswoosher” to the masses in the same way Nike and every SUV, razorblade and cell phone company does with their products: a slick advertising campaign. A full-page ad in the New York Times sells for $47,000. Two million eyes can be ours to watch Philly boy squirm in his booties. Join us as we shake up the system with the Unswoosher’s kick-ass marketing strategy.


Yep. That's market saturation if ever I've seen it. Oh how I'd love it if Nike did a counter-campaign. It would be so hilarious (and equally as vindictive). So bugger it, I'm going to go to the Nike corporate site and see if I can get hold of anybody who might like to be filled in about this (if they haven't been already).

If nothing happens, well it's still a cool idea to think about. If something does happen, yay for me!


Adbusters: Putting the "F" back into "art" 

Um... I'm not sure about this being on the first page of the Adbusters site:



Most of the writing on the wall appears as you'd expect from a bunch of morally-superior artists, but "stop consuming" being crossed out and replaced with "stop complaining" threw me off a bit. Although it'd be great if they did stop complaining...


Snivelling whingers Pt. MMVCVIII 

On morning talk radio there is the head of the Australian Assyrian group (or something along those lines) saying how good it is that Saddam has been captured, but how much the United States sucks. It's good that Saddam is gone, but everything that the United States has done has been a dismal failure. No electricity, no water, no hospitals, no schools, no security. Go figure.

First of all (via Tim Blair) is an observation by an Iraqi that seems to go straight over everybody's head:

"For 50 years, Iraq went without freedom and democracy. You can't make it happen in three weeks, three months or three years.

"It takes time."


And for all those who think America's mission has been a dismal failure, check this out (this one via Tex):

Since President Bush declared an end to major combat on May 1... over 60,000 Iraqis now provide security to their fellow citizens.

Since President Bush declared an end to major combat on May 1...nearly all of Iraq’s 400 courts are functioning.

Since President Bush declared an end to major combat on May 1... the Iraqi judiciary is fully independent.


Since President Bush declared an end to major combat on May 1...on Monday, October 6 power generation hit 4,518 megawatts—exceeding the pre-war average.

Since President Bush declared an end to major combat on May 1...all 22 universities and 43 technical institutes and colleges are open, as are nearly all primary and secondary schools.

Since President Bush declared an end to major combat on May 1, by October 1, Coalition forces had rehabbed over 1,500 schools - 500 more than their target.

Since President Bush declared an end to major combat on May 1... teachers earn from 12 to 25 times their former salaries.

Since President Bush declared an end to major combat on May 1...all 240 hospitals and more than 1200 clinics are open.


There's many more of those, so go read. What the hell is going on anyway? Are so many people so hell-bent on seeing the United States fail and George Bush crucified at the stake that they'll completely ignore what's really happening? With many of the attitudes I've seen; yes. It's just bloody pathetic.


Monday, December 15, 2003


The infamous Paris Hilton video... 

A lot of people have been getting zillions of hits off Google for the last ages because of the Paris Hilton porn video. So HERE IT IS!

... My post that's trying to cash in on all the traffic, that is.


We've got the bastard! 

That's right; in what is probably the best news I've ever woken up to, the United States has captured Saddam Hussein:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- After months on the run from coalition forces, a disheveled Saddam Hussein was found hiding in a hidden hole near a farmhouse and was captured without firing a shot, coalition authorities announced Sunday.

"The former dictator of Iraq will face the justice he denied to millions," President Bush said in a short televised address from the White House. "For the Baathist holdouts responsible for the violence, there will be no return to the corrupt power and privilege they once held.


Interesting how Bush's critics will take this. Is it just going to be sour grapes? With the general attitude of the anti-war Left, I'd say yes.

"Sure, America may have captured the head of one of the most brutal dictatorships since Hitler's Germany, but it will help get Bush re-elected. Therefore it sucks! Oh, and that's not to mention the bazillion terrorist attacks that will happen as a result of this!"

I have no idea how petty anybody could want to be, but if you would have wanted Saddam to get away from the U.S. just to see Bush and your own country fail, that's pretty loathsome.

Oh well, here's another few articles if you want to verify the news.

As for the reaction; Tim Blair has done all the work and research already (and has provided much linkage as well). So head on over and read.


UPDATE: The crackpots at the Democratic Underground are going crazy, with gems like this:

Cynicism is about the only tool of discernment we have against this administrations shenanigans. I prefer to call it 'being on guard'. You don't even need a tinfoil hat to pick up the little snippets of insanity and paranoia these days. It's right here in front of us in plain sight.


Well, to anybody that visits the Democratic Underground anyway. My other favourite place to find lefty whackos is the Adbusters forums. Of course, they're all bitter and twisted that Bush isn't failing:

It could be another scam to make bush popular again. FUCK THE OIL WAR


However, in the same thread there appears to be some morons who are less moronish now:

It wasn't a fucking oil war, that was just an extra prize. Bush actually thought he was fighting a war against terror which he was. And I truely believe now that america did do some good. 400,000 graves, millions and millions died from the Husseins regime. And to top that, they had WMD.

Sure you can say, "the US has 20,000 nukes." My question is, do you honestly think they would ever use them? Not even a moron like George Bush would ever order the launching of a nuclear weapon.

Iraq HAD to be disarmed they HAD to be.


In the end though, the general consensus among the crackpot community is that this is all a big publicity stunt by Bush to gain popularity. He's going to rig the next election, etc. etc. Yawn.

CNN now says that Saddam will face a war-crimes tribunal:

The court sessions will be "open to the public, with the press, so that people in Iraq can see the nature of crimes committed with Saddam at the helm," said Dara Noor Alzin.

Saddam is accused of crimes against humanity during his three-decade reign of terror, including using chemical weapons to kill thousands of Kurds.

The council members spoke after meeting with Saddam and described him as "tired and haggard, unrepentant, even defiant."

Asked about thousands killed and dumped in mass graves, Saddam dismissed his victims saying, "They were thieves," said one council member.

"He was not apologetic. He was sarcastic and making a mockery of Iraqi people," said one member of the council.


Yep, anywhere between 300,000 to a million thieves. Sounds about right. Perhaps Adbusters should head a search around the United States for equal amounts of mass-graves filled with thieves.

On the aus.politics Google Group, there is much confusion about who is more of a criminal: Saddam for ruthlessly murdering so many innocent people, or Bush for invading Iraq and disposing of Saddam. It's a big quest for power in this instance:

Now that Saddam is captured, Bush loses some competition in the contest
to be the world's worst dictator.


That was followed up with:

Only a dictator could execute a dictator ...


Expect Bush to have all members of the Democrats detained and tortured, and France to be nuked for no apparent reason. Moving along, I got the impression that The Age isn't really impressed about yet another U.S. victory either:

Donna Mulhearn, from the Hunter Valley in NSW, spent the beginning of the war in Baghdad as a human shield and returned there recently to work with street children and the poor.

"Many Iraqis are in a state of disbelief," she said in an email today.


Just "disbelief"? Certainly not what I was watching on TV...


Saturday, December 13, 2003


Oops 

I should have updated yesterday, but I didn't. I should also make up for it by doing an update today, but I won't. Why? It's a pretty busy weekend for me.

In vaguely related news, I now have my Occupational Health and Safety Green Card. Therefore, if you're on a construction site at the same time as me, I can tell you to piss off. That's if I don't like you anyway.


Thursday, December 11, 2003


Who's your Baghdaddy? 

Turns out the big anti-terror demonstrations in Iraq yesterday were a big success. Zeyad has three albums of photos plus commentary. Don't expect any mass-media coverage either.

The rallies today proved to be a major success. I didn't expect anything even close to this. It was probably the largest demonstration in Baghdad for months. It wasn't just against terrorism. It was against Arab media, against the interference of neighbouring countries, against dictatorships, against Wahhabism, against oppression, and of course against the Ba'ath and Saddam.

We started at Al-Fatih square in front of the Iraqi national theatre at 10 am. IP were all over the place. At 12 pm people started marching towards Fardus square through Karradah. All political parties represented in the GC participated. But the other parties, organizations, unions, tribal leaders, clerics, school children, college students, and typical everyday Iraqis made up most of the crowd. Al-Jazeera estimated the size of the crowd as over ten thousand people.


Who's been saying that the U.S. screwed up Iraq? Now they're free to state how they really felt about Saddam (and by extension, the U.S. invasion). It's fun knowing that most real Iraqis favoured the war, and how little the mainstream press has acknowledged that.


Ha ha! Suckers! 

Oh dear. Whoever thought that the mean, old United States would deliver a backlash to its critics? Countries like Canada, France, Germany and Russia were quite happy to go around declaring America as the most dangerous nation on earth, and that Americans are all completely stupid for electing Bush as president; yet they are surprised that America has now turned around and said, "you didn't want to support us, so fuck you".

It is truly a great injustice, isn't it?


Wednesday, December 10, 2003


NASACAR 

So, NASA are sending more rovers to check out Mars. They're raising awareness and excitement throughout the youth of the U.S. by dubbing the mission "Marsapalooza". Interesting enough, but I bet it's still the same old rover that just goes too damn slow.

If NASA wants my interest, they should be testing out what the gravity is like on Mars and go for land-speed records. Get some images and data from the rover jumping over craters, speeding through the Martian terrain and maybe even a couple of cool-looking crashes. Then I'll be interested!


The Channel 9 News cricket team favours a slow pitch with lots of turn... 

I was watching the Today Show this morning, and one of the items that went along the newsbar on the bottom of the screen read something like:

"George W. Bush opposes apparent referendum by Taiwan to gain independence"


I read that and immediately thought, "check out the spin on that!" What the brilliant minds at Channel 9 seem to have forgotten is that China has all kinds of missiles pointed at Taiwan and as a result, shouldn't be provoked to hit that big, red button. They just had to spin it to make Bush look like the evil, fascist, nazi, warmongering election-rigger that many journalists know he is. Here's a more accurate story, which I'm actually kind of surprised to see a transcript of on the ABC website. Watch for spin.

GEORGE W. BUSH: We oppose any unilateral decision by either China or Taiwan to change the status quo, and the comments and actions made by the leader of Taiwan indicate that he may be willing to make decisions unilaterally that change the status quo, which we oppose.

JOHN SHOVELAN [reporter]: President Bush was referring in particular to Taiwanese plans to conduct a referendum on March 20th on whether the Taiwanese people should demand that China renounce the use of force and withdraw hundreds of missiles aimed at the island.

While the removal of the missiles is already US Government policy, the referendum is seen by the White House and Beijing as an indirect step towards independence.

Premier Wen welcomed President Bush's stand against the referendum.

WEN JIABAO (translated): We very much appreciate the position adopted by President Bush towards the latest moves and developments in Taiwan, that is the attempt to resort to referendum of various kind as excuse to pursue Taiwan's independence. We appreciate the position of the US Government.

JOHN SHOVELAN: The Bush administration has already been accused of a double standard – imposing democracy in Iraq while opposing a shift to full independence through democratic means in Taiwan.

But a former assistance secretary of state for China, Susan Shirk, says President Bush took the stand because of national security concerns that China could go to war if the referendum proceeds.

SUSAN SHIRK: I think it's important to say that I believe that the President did this not to keep Beijing happy, but did it in order to prevent the military conflict that might ensue.


Hardly a silly move by Bush at all, really. Plus it's scoring points for the China-U.S. relationship which is further dispelling my concerns.


Take this, crackpots! 

Big anti-terror demonstrations in Iraq today. Zeyad will be there taking pictures.

Hopefully this will be big enough to stick it to the anti-war crowd. I'm not expecting big mass-media coverage, so keep an eye on Zeyad's blog for pictures. Actually, keep an eye on Zeyad's blog anyway. It's always good to read about what's really going on in Iraq from a real Iraqi who wanted George Bush to rid Iraq of cuddly, harmless Saddam.


Dammit! 

My bloody sidebar isn't working!! Not happy.


UPDATE: Never mind... it is now. Slightly happier.


Tuesday, December 09, 2003


More on Mark 

Everyone in Australia is talking about the new Labor leader Mark Latham. Even me. I actually had another post ready on his comments about how it's the government's responsibility to make sure housing prices stay down. Unfortunately, Blogger ate it and I subsequently threw the computer out the window. Luckily it wasn't my computer...

Anyway, for all you Latham fans out there, may I point you to what Patrick Cook's armchair pundits said about him in last week's issue of The Bulletin:

Armchair 1: Will the people ever like Mark Latham? Man of the future. Lots of ideas.

Armchair 2: Not afraid to stand up and be counted.

Armchair 3: For a total of one vote. Not afraid to run around with carrots in his ears shouting out: "Who's a cwazy wabbit, then?" Can you imagine being shot into space with Latham, for a moon landing? First of all he'd say: "My family comes from around here." Then he'd try to seize the controls because he had a better idea.

A1: Still, great ideas. He wants everyone in the country to be paid $100,000,000 tax-free, every year, by the government.

A2: And the usual nay-sayers will ask: "Where's the money coming from?"

A3: To which Latham answers: "Bottle tops." He apparently believes that bottle tops are a greatly under-utilised Australian natural resource. When challenged about his statistics, he refers to his economic guru, a whoopee cushion called "Ramone".

A1: And he wants to harness the power of Australian fruitbats as a renewable energy source. That's unusual.

A2: And he could be the first ­Australian leader to attempt to head-butt a US ­president. That could put Australia on the map. Innovation? He's full of it.


Seems true enough. I still can't understand what he wants to do with the country either. However, I'm not too sure if he'll be headbutting George Bush anytime soon, what with Latham wanting to be on the good side of the U.S. now. Yet another backflip.


Up wi' da free trade deals, yo 

Like it or not, China is looking like becoming the worlds second superpower in roughly 50 years time. Many people already know and share my concerns of another Cold War scenario. May this be the beginning of events to prove my concerns wrong:

Wen Jiabao, China's premier, on Monday urged the US administration to resist demands that it block imports from China, and said he would not engage in tit-for-tat retaliation against recent US moves.

"I have come to this country to seek friendship and co- operation, not to fight a trade war," he said in a speech to the American Bankers Association in New York on the second day of his US visit. "We should not and will not fight a trade war."

The conciliatory words came against a backdrop of increasing US-China tensions over trade, fueled by a growing US trade deficit with China and charges from US manufacturers that China is manipulating its currency to hold down exports.

[...]

He blasted Washington for maintaining Cold War-era national security restrictions on high-technology exports to China, calling for the US to "make a clean break with those obsolete concepts and anachronistic practices, and throw them into the Pacific Ocean, so as to boldly keep pace with the times."


Hooray! With China negotiating free trade deals everywhere, they will eventually give in to a market economy (actually, as far as I'm aware, they've begun that already). I'm interested to keep an eye on how China goes economically from now and into the future, as fundamental communism is slowly giving way to free markets. You are aware that China ran out of money in the late 1990's, and thus are slowly embracing capitalism, right?


Monday, December 08, 2003


Shit! 

Oh God! IT'S ACTUALLY HAPPENING!

Tokyo crimefighters staffing police boxes are being ordered to respond to the country's crime wave by offering residents near their posts friendly greetings, the Mainichi has learned.


That'll show those filthy criminals! Actually, it's not that serious, but it is still kind of silly. I wonder if the same tactic that is doomed to fail in Japan would work in the Middle East, where a couple of Palestinians have agreed to a new conditional ceasefire? Maybe the peace-loving Palestinians only want a hug...


No more fat jokes! 

What the hell is this all about?

American researchers have found overweight characters on top-rating shows ... are less likely to be shown as attractive, romantic or physically affectionate. And despite the TV industry lauding actress Camryn Manheim when she dedicated her 1998 Emmy Award to "all the fat girls", overweight characters are less likely to be shown at all.

[...]

A lecturer in public health at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Lily O'Hara, who is leading the call for Queensland to follow Victoria and extend anti-discrimination laws to cover weight and body shape, says negative stereotypes created prejudice.

[...]

The issue of body image is being considered by commercial TV channels in a wide-ranging review of the 1999 industry code of practice.

Commercial Television Australia has adopted a proposal which calls for programmers, program promotion producers and program classifiers not to place inappropriate or irrelevant emphasis on gender, or on physical characteristics or family status. Public submissions on the draft code are now being considered.


Man, that's going to make for some bloody boring television. Listen up, Americans, there's going to be no more Australia jokes for you!


Now this is just plain juvenile... 

I'm not too sure if this guy is the first to be found with a bomb in his pants:

He was armed with a 20cm-long Powergel stick - which is used in mining and favoured by some Northern Ireland paramilitary death squads.

The explosive compounds from the gel, if detonated, would have been enough to destroy a family sedan.


I don't think there's any need for me to take the level of this post below what it already is... Although I think it is headed in a downward direction anyway.

He had tried to impress the mainly international travellers at the hostel...


Oh dear. I'm pretty sure that I warned you, dear reader.

...by pulling the explosive stick out and saying: "Look at what I've got, mate - it's a stick of bloody Powergel."

The backpackers were shaken and told the hostel's duty manager about the "bomb situation".


Oh well, at least he wasn't as crude about it as he could have been. You know, something like the typically lame: "wanna check out my weapon of mass destruction?" I don't know how the backpackers would have reacted to the "bomb situation" if it was put to them that way.

"Oh shit, he really did have a bomb down there," would probably be the red-faced reply.


Notice of arrival 

I'm back from a fantastic weekend in Brisbane (as far as I can remember anyway), and I'm feeling all the more cooler because I'm on Tim Blair's blogroll. Hurrah!

That reminds me, I should update mine with all the other places I visit regularly. But I'll do that later.


Wednesday, December 03, 2003


Notice of departure 

Having finished university for the year, I might point out for those that aren't aware that I'm back on the mid-north coast of New South Wales. That said, the reason for this post is letting y'all know that I'm off to Brisbane for the rest of this week and the weekend. Cheerio.

Normal posting will resume on Monday, folks.


Tuesday, December 02, 2003


Oh, those wacky Greens! 

Just going through the Australian Greens official economic policy. It is hilariously stupid. Check this out:

The Greens seek a socially responsible society where people contribute in proportion to their ability and resources, and where the community ensures that no-one need do without the necessities of life.


In other words, they want to reduce everybody to the lowest common denominator. If some idiot is capable to work, but refuses to, he gets handed his "necessities of life" on a platter with a "thank-you for choosing to live in Australia" card personally signed by Bob Brown. Another guy, perhaps a barrister or other well-paid figure, gets pretty much everything he earns taken off him until he can only afford his "necessities of life". Sure, it may be an equal distribution of wealth, but is it really fair? You seriously want to work your arse off for everyone else's benefit? I guarantee you that this system would quickly give way to lots of people quitting their jobs and retiring early because they have it nearly as good on government support anyway.

So, once everyone quits their jobs (or get laid off as I'm sure businesses would get taxed very heavily for whatever reason), how is the economy going to hold itself up? If so many services and natural monoplies are nationalised (for the sake of democracy), and so many people work in the public sector as a result, how is that economically sustainable for the government? All wealth would be flowing in a circular motion between the individual and the government, so of course that's sustainable I hear you say! Well, yes, in theory. However, the libertarian in me just doesn't trust governments with money, and for good reason. If the government controls all the wealth in a society, they will eventually get lazy with it all and become hideously inefficient.

To cut to the chase, the end result would be that government spending would reach monumental heights to retain order and "equity"; the country would be losing wealth rapidly as it deters foreign investment with extraordinarily large tariffs; domestic industry would be far too inefficient to meet demand because of the lack of overseas competition; there will be mass movement out of Australia to other places like the United States, which offer much more freedom for enterprise.

Sure, this kind of socialism may work in theory, but my very firm belief is that it is ridiculously unsustainable and far too idealistic. A successful government needs to have a very large amount of discipline, which basically translates to being kept in check. A well-disciplined government should be able to do a lot with a little. So if a government is spending beyond its means, it's one of the first pointers to them being weak in leadership.

This is more a musing than a thesis, so if you're going to comment, try and comment on the ideas expressed here, rather than the points that I made... if that's possible (although I know for a few of you that isn't possible, so I don't know why I bothered saying that).


Beazley falls through the floor.... again 

Mark Latham is the new federal Labor leader. Tim Blair put it best in the comments to this post at his blog:

Everybody's a winner...! Margo has her dream candidate, and Howard gets to face someone already pulled to bits by Peter Costello. And, just in case Latham flukes an election win, we know he's essentially a right-winger!


Furthermore, it is pushing idiots like Bob Brown further to the sidelines. If Latham does indeed fluke an election win, I predict he will adopt quite a few Liberal Party policies. Now I'll just sit around with my popcorn and watch hilarity ensue.


UPDATE: Tim Blair now has a very good wrap of Mr. Latham. I agree wholeheartedly with this part (emphasis mine):

My theory: Howard’s supporters and detractors fall into two main camps. His supporters generally agree with Howard’s positions on a range of issues, just as his detractors generally oppose them. It’s a clear divide. But Latham’s supporters and detractors are everywhere -- on the right, on the left, upper, middle, lower, rich, poor. He’s created a maze of faultlines and divisions, and struggles to present a coherant image. People inclined to support him on the war reject his economics. People who admire his economics loathe his personality.


Economically, I'd almost go as far as to say that Latham belongs with the Liberals. But his attitude is very much in-tune with the Labor style in that they're more comfortable with playing the man, not the ball (so to speak). I really don't think Latham will help Labor at all in the next election. Largely because Latham has fallen out with a significant amount of the hard-left (due to his very staunch support of tax cuts and freer markets) and conservatives like myself can't stand his nature. So who is left? Latham may get a few fence-sitters in the next election, and perhaps a few of the centre-right figures. I think a lot of the tofu voters will throw their votes away to the Greens and/or the Democrats which may get them a couple more seats around the place, but the Liberal Party will still remain in power. With all of this in mind and at this current stage, I am predicting Labor to go down spectacularly in the next election.


Monday, December 01, 2003


Wonderful private enterprise! 

Check out the media spin on the latest attacks on US troops in Iraq between News Ltd. and the Sydney Morning Herald.

From News Ltd:

US forces have killed 46 attackers and wounded at least 18 others who tried to strike military convoys in Samarra, north of Baghdad, in the deadliest reported firefight since the end of the war there.


And from the Sydney Morning Herald:

Witnesses claimed return of fire by US troops had killed innocent bystanders in clashes between insurgents and US troops in the Iraqi town of Samarra today.

Residents of the town questioned claims by a US spokesman that all 46 killed in the firefights had been attackers.


Also bearing in mind the headlines associated with the two pieces. News Ltd. says "46 Iraqis killed in US retaliation" while the SMH says "Clashes between insurgents, US forces spark bloodbath". Which is more accurate? The mass-media have a lot to answer for in their coverage of the conflict in Iraq. There is no way that we're getting objective news from Iraq since every media source has their own slant on every event. If it comes down to it, my personal preference goes to News Ltd., because it's harder to tell what their angle is. The Fairfax sources (SMH and The Age), have a much more noticable slant on things.

Actually, maybe I prefer the Murdoch press because I know Murdoch isn't a lefty.


I know nobody cares, but... 

For the none of you reading this that care about the V8 Supercar championship final held at Eastern Creek in Sydney's west yesterday, here is this roundup of the incident between Mark Skaife and Russell Ingall. The punishment wasn't as severe as I would have suspected. Both drivers are appealing against the ruling, as would be expected.


A fun December morn 

Going through gradual system upgrades sure is fun. The entire morning was spent installing the newest version of Quickbooks 2003 in the office. Suffice to say, I was on the phone to technical support within 30 minutes of installing the program.

I wonder if this explains why my head hurts.

In the end, though, everything is running ... well, smoother than it was 3 hours ago.

Finally, a pinch and a punch for the first of the month! Suckers!