Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Equal Opportunity and Nanny Statism

I've been, er, busy. And have moved overseas. Anyway...

On the face of it "Equal Opportunity" sounds like A Good Thing. When you apply for a job, it shouldn't matter whether you are blind, deaf, white, black, Irish, Chinese, homosexual, Jewish, Muslim or Sikh. Your ability to do the job is the only thing that matters. From this, I would have thought that the information about your ethnic/racial background, disability status, religion (or lack thereof) and sexual orientation would be completely irrelevant.

In Britain, it's not.

I recently (yesterday) applied for a position with a public institution (a university) where at the end of the application form it had a page labelled "Equal opportunities application monitoring". This page proceeded to ask my gender (irrelevant), nationality (irrelevant - I'd already confirmed my right to work in the UK previously in the application), cultural background (irrelevant for this position*), whether I consider myself to have a disability (irrelevant), religion I affiliate with (irrelevant*), sexual orientation (irrelevant), if I'm related to any member of the University (relevant), criminal activity (irrelevant for this position**) and whether I'd worked for the university previously.

My response to those - which I didn't write down - was to ask why is is information then collected, and why does it matter? If it really is "equal opportunities" then the only pieces of information where I could see some relevance was whether I had a relative in or had previously worked for the university - I would guess to prevent any unfair advantages through the interview and candidate review process.

Of course, I forgot. I'm in Britain. There's a reason that it gets labelled the nanny state.

It's not the first time I've noticed this theme - the cameras are the obvious ones, but it's also the news. Currently there's a "credit crunch" going on, and the overriding theme from people seems to be that it's the governments' fault, and that the government should be the white knight to protect them from all the ridiculous decisions they've made in their lives. Example: a "documentary" called "The Cost of the Credit Crunch", where you were shown a range of sob stories where people have made decisions that weren't financially wise, and one and all they blamed the government. Exactly what the government is meant to do when you don't read a contract properly and only use the company you're dealing with's lawyers, I'm not sure. Or when you overreach on the number of products you've ordered and paid for and suddenly your debtors don't, won't, can't pay up.

I'm not denying it that there's people are doing it hard nor is it the case that I don't feel sorry for them (sometimes, to be honest), but there's a culture here to blameshift, and to try avoiding any personal responsibility. Of course, perhaps it's that these documentaries have the same amount of credibility as TodayTonight, A Current Affair and newspapers... or pretty much 90% of media in Australia.

* There would be some cultural backgrounds that would prevent a person from undertaking some roles. There are also some religious backgrounds that would prevent a person from fulfilling a role properly - say, a Catholic in an abortion clinic. Which reminds me of the new legislation in Victoria - discussed at Hoyden About Town and An Onymous Lefty.

** Mind you, perhaps if I had record for fraud, libel (which is possibly a civil offence?) or stealing equipment from my work offices...

Friday, July 11, 2008

Alexander, thanks for all

Alexander Downer (referred to as 'Dolly', 'Lexi', 'Sir Lord' or 'that buffoon' by a fair few blogs; he prefers 'Alexander') has announced his retirement.
At Grods, it's mostly for his blog, which is always full of interesting bits (i.e. constant name-dropping). Despite having a section allowing comments, they don't actually get published. I did try, and my comments were always polite - if, perhaps, difficult to answer (which he's been noted to have problems with previously).

There were also some lovely tributes from writers with well-known predilictions and biases such as Janet Albrechtson and Greg Sheridan. They were more entertainment, though - and I doubt the authors meant them to be taken that way...

Downer himself also had to swing in and defend himself, in doing so claimed that Timor was "his" achievement (Howard didn't flick the leash? Really...) and Iraq was mere "trivia". Obviously not content to leave the mules to do his braying for him.

Anyway, this means that as I'm still on the roll for Mayo (despite being overseas) I should be voting. Fortunately, there's still a little time to go before the by-election is held, but I still need to print out and post off an 'Overseas Notification Form'. Which pisses me off.

Especially as Downer did say that he'd stay the full term even if the Coalition lost government in the last election (sadly, not in the Advertiser. Only in the Courier, the Adelaide Hills newspaper). It's also good to see that he hasn't lost that lack of sense of hypocrisy:
"If Mr Rudd doesn't run a candidate in Mayo, well then he's slinking away in a cowardly way and he should be prepared to face up to the judgement of the people of Australia whenever that judgement is called to be made.

"I think they're treating the people of Mayo with contempt if they're not prepared to run a candidate when they're the Government of Australia."

Oh, yeah? And, what, precisely, is cutting and running less than 12 months into a term when more than 40,000 people voted for you to represent them for 3 years?!

Note 1: no-one asked him his thoughts on Howard and the Liberals "strategically" not offering a candidate in the various by-elections while the Coalition was in power. It'd be interesting to see him squirm out of that successfully without placing the blame squarely on Howard's door.

Note 2: funny how there haven't been any big business job offers that Lexi or Peter Costello said they'd be receiving...

Monday, July 7, 2008

On the Olympics

Somehow, Graham 'Arnie' Arnold has decided that Nathan Burns and (to a lesser extent, I don't rate him as highly) Bruce Djite are "only 20", and "they can't play in the heat, no matter who they are.".

Moreover, he was looking for "maturity, quality, athleticism, speed and tactical nous."
Burns: check, check, check, check, depends on form (can still drift in and out of games occasionally).
Djite: check, check, check, check, check.

Wait. They've ticked all the boxes, so why really aren't they there? The adage that "if you're good enough you're old enough" should hold: Rooney played for England at 17, Messi was a first team regular at Barcelona and Argentina at 17/18, Robinho for Brazil at 19, and Fernando Torres for Spain at 19 (as well as already captaining Atletico Madrid)? What does Arnold know about age in football that the Brazilians, Spanish, Argentinians and English don't? (Note: I'm not saying Burns and Djite at as good as those mentioned: for Australia, though, they may be as important.)

The both of them ticked all of the boxes. Furthermore, Burns has the habit of changing games - for Adelaide United, he was the go-to man (boy!), even if it sometimes didn't come off. He put Binh Dong to the sword in the Asian Champions' League with a hattrick of assists, dribbling the ball past the entire defence before setting up Travis Dodd (twice) and Diego Walsh (the American "Brazilian"). Even out of form, Burns was still more than able to control the ball, hold off some monster defender twice his size, and lay off a ball to a man in space - a lot more than could be said for most of the rest of the A-League.

Djite was taken to Kunming, China with the Socceroos for a vital away clash, and before his training ground injury, was going to start before Archie Thompson (way more overrated than Djite in my not so humble opinion, too). Pim Verbeek obviously thought he was good enough, and Kunming was one of the more challenging locations at just over 1800m above sea level. Even with my scepticism of his ability (mainly in the finishing department), Djite is still painful to play against - strong, quick, can play with his back to goal all day - and was playing as a lone striker for all of the last A-league season. Being up front by yourself isn't an easy job, yet Djite did it.

Oh, did I mention that Burns and Djite were actually the fittest members of Adelaide's squad? Yet, Kristian Sarkies is on the plane. Every time that kid got the ball, he'd kill an attacking move. Adelaide do like playing on the counter - with players that can run like Burns, Djite, Dodd and Lucas Pantelis, why not - but Sarkies was often too slow to either get the ball moving, or always chose the wrong option. His set piece delivery (which is delightful) would have had to have been his only saving grace.

Anyway, I'm ticked. I haven't seen James Holland (Newcastle Jets) play much (and I was fairly tipsy during the A-League GF), so I haven't an opinion on his ability, nor David Williams. However, these four young attackers have been left out for Thompson (who isn't good enough as a striker for the senior side anyway). David Carney (a left wing(er/-back) has also been selected despite James Troisi being in the squad. Waste of a couple of over-age places, what?

I guess don't mention that Burns proved his maturity as a person in his response - despite being devastated, he was an absolute gentleman.

So: seriously, Arnold, what are you doing?

Monday, June 2, 2008


You, News Ltd, have been pwnt.

As of now, they haven't even tried to print/post a correction.

Kate McCulloch is an opponent of a Muslim school in Camden, Sydney, and was labelled/claimed to be the new Pauline Hanson. Not only did Hanson hang up when contacted (she doesn't want much to do with this? Surprise...), but McCulloch has also been slapped down after claiming:
The Macarthurs will be proud of us...
Yeah, good one. As Wah and VTAY have also mentioned, racist.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Almost speechless...

Britain, what are you doing?

The notion of having free speech in Britain seems to be paper thin, rather than solid rock.

Update: Ok... how thin would you like your free speech? Wafer?

As a sidenote, sadly Manchester United won the European Champions' League this morning (my time). On second thoughts, perhaps not so sad; I would have been sadder had Chelsea won.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hmmm, innerestin'...

To start with, a couple of interesting links:
And then some entertainment. Online Opinion is a space where opinion pieces are posted. There can be some really interesting articles - and there can be some absolute dross. One issue I have is some of the women's issues articles in the last two months - they're poorly researched, not very well written and come to conclusions like "OMG NOT PRON, THINK of the CHILDREN". To me, the articles' lack of quality almost denigrates the issues.

In the last month, there's been a bit of controversy over articles on Anthropogenic Global Warming and in the ensuing debate, starting with former astronaut Phil Chapman saying an ice age is coming. This proposition was rebutted in an article by David Karoly (a Professor of Earth Sciences at Melbourne University) labelling it mischievous misinformation.

The lines were drawn, with a former astronaut versus Professor of Earth Sciences...

Two more articles in the following days by two marine scientists, one by Charlie Veron detailing the damage that will be done to the Great Barrier Reef, the other by Walter Starck rebutting (some of) his points.

On the 14th of May, journalist/businessman and JP Terry Dunleavy criticised the hysteria over AGW, and the lack of public discussion. However, he started his article with this paragraph:
It has become commonplace knowledge, and is unchallenged, that global average temperature has not increased since 1998. This corresponds to a nine-year period during which the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide, in contrast, did increase, and that by almost 5 per cent.
Unfortunately for him this wasn't a good idea, since it shows a lack of understanding of the basic data. To start with a falsehood in an article complaining that no-one's listening to the skeptics... I wonder if he's a sockpuppet, 'cos that's not a good look.

This article was followed up the next day by an article by the publisher of Online Opinion (and former(?) member of the Queensland Liberals), Graham Young, complaining about the introduction by Robyn Williams (ABC's experienced science journalist) of Don Aitken (a political scientist and historian) in a radio broadcast. In the piece, he also mentions that factual errors in Veron's article are "demonstrated" by Starck on OLO - except there are no references to any studies or data in any of the rebuttal paragraphs, and indeed only calls them "comments" in the disagreement. In the final page, Young also labels Williams a Marxist (whatever happened to freedom of expression?) and introduced economist John Quiggin and computer scientist Tim Lambert, labelling them as bullies and brownshirts - invoking Godwin's law. Lambert himself shows up in the comments, responding to each of Young's points, including correcting his "mistakes". Young then claims that Lambert is doing that to take attention away from his mistakes (at this point, I could post a lolcat with a "wtf" expression)...

Geoff Davies writes the final article in the series, "A cool look at Professor Aitkin’s global warming scepticism". The difference (to me) with Starck's article is that Davies includes numbers which are able to be checked straight out, rather than general statements which in themselves require some ability to analyse the data.

In initial responses on their own blogs Quiggin has claimed the Godwin here, and Tim Lambert has called it "On-line abuse". Quiggin has also made the point of Fred Singer's influence on the skeptic/denialist scene.

The comments thread are the ones that have really caught my attention. Don Aitkin (to his credit) is commenting regularly and calmly, as is Geoff Davies. Lambert is attempting to address the issues put to him, and most entertainingly, a commentor by the moniker of "jc2" spends his whole time attacking him, labelling Lambert a "ridiculous clown". Pleasant stuff. (I am, however, impressed by the arguments by a number of other commenters. Sadly they often don't get their very valid questions responded to by Young.) The dry comment by Lambert in Club Troppo's Missing Link Daily from Tuesday also apparently rates high enough to allow more abuse.

Through all this, the number of AGW skeptic pieces has been given larger airplay as compared to their supporter numbers on OLO, leading to many commenters to wonder at OLO's publishing and editing policy and direction. The editor, Susan Prior, has commented at least three times about this, saying the second time (with some understandable exasperation):
...each day I make the decisions about what goes into the journal. I try to achieve a balance but it is dependent on what I get sent to me or can procure myself. I have no political barrow to push, am happy to publish well reasoned/well written articles from all parties and strive to provide material that will get readers thinking and considering other points of view. If I published articles and opinions from one viewpoint you (and I) would soon get pretty bored. OLO is about opinions, debate and ideas. It is about expanding horizons and thinking. It is not about reading what you necessarily want to hear.

Doesn't seem to matter to Young. In his responses to Lambert's post that came in the "Best Blogs 2006", he's the one that initiates the abuse, labelling Lambert as "dishonest", and his post as "raw and barely digestible".

Perhaps a "cool look" needs to extend to discussion practices... and an improvement in the setup of those comments forums. They're a right pain to try to interpret...!

Update: I forgot the final article thrown into the mixer: Clive Hamilton's Death Rattles of the Climate Change Skeptics at New Matilda.

I have also apparently been beaten to the punch by Lyn at Public Opinion...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Budgeting pain...

So, the new federal budget is out, and there's obviously a lot of people doing it tough in the community.

I've been fairly critical of the media in previous posts, and this case wouldn't be an exception.

Choice quote:
Their combined income of more than $150,000 is quickly swallowed by the cost of raising two children, an average-sized mortgage, running a financial planning business and meeting car payments and private school fees.

"Average-sized" mortgage. Like what, over $200,000? More than $400,000?

Running a financial planning business... so they "only" pay themselves $150,000p.a.? Does that mean the business isn't going that well? Are they blaming the government for that too?

As for car payments:
They would have been hit with the luxury car tax, which jumped to 33 per cent for $57,000-plus cars, had they delayed buying a 4WD.

What kind of 4WD, and why do they need one? Do they really go out and use it (bush), or is it for carting the kids' friends around?

The article says nowhere what private school the kids are attending. Should I take it to mean he's going to Prince Alfred College, and she's at St Peter's (two of the most expensive schools in Adelaide)? Or are they going to some of the "cheaper" ones?

It seems to me that they expect the government to support them through their lifestyle choices, which they say are bad by complaining how much it costs, but do it anyway. And further, the lack of detail on exactly why they're "doing it tough" implies to me that the article is simply a beat-up for the Liberal party, because they're having trouble finding something relevant to complain about.

Remember, every baby is created equal. Of course, some are more equal than others.

Did you know Brendan Nelson's a doctor?

Update: Somebody's thinking of the children. I'm thinking along the lines of Senator Conroy not actually knowing what he's talking about, and some muppet from his department sent him out to face the media under-prepared.

And two: Ross Gittens gets stuck in.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Priority Media

It's a question that needs to be asked in Australia: where is the quality going? On Woolly Days Derek Barry has an(other) excellent post on whether any of Australia's main media outlets actually care about the quality of what they presented. Last night on Media Watch on the ABC host Jonathan Holmes covered the same story, and it included interviews with Roy Greenslade (Media Columnist, The Guardian), Mike van Niekerk (Editor-in-Chief Online, Fairfax Media) and Eric Beecher (Publisher, Crikey & Business Spectator).

A comment by Mike van Niekerk comparing printed and electronic media caught my ear:
Mike van Niekerk: I think they speak to different audiences. They are slightly different audiences. In fact I can tell you that the percentage of people that read both the print edition and the online edition is roughly about 25%.

Jonathan Holmes: The concern I guess would be though, if your web pages are the look of the future, if you like, the developing medium. And the newspaper is the one that's on the way down. If that's the case, does that mean that quality journalism is on the way down? Does that mean that funding the Canberra bureaus and the foreign bureaus and doing the investigative journalism is on the way down?

Mike van Niekerk: You know if that were to be the case, that would be the time that I would get out of this business because that would take all the fun out of it for me.

Well, that makes me feel better - until I was confronted by this image when I went to the "AdelaideNow" (The Advertiser/The Sunday Mail) website today:
The media in Adelaide is saturated enough with AFL news as it is (they love their Australian Rules here a little too much - to the point that it's disturbing), but former stars' bust-ups take precedent over 10,000 dead in Burma? Large picture of Grant Hackett's "belly"? Side note: he's just swum 10km, for crying out loud. Give over.

But that's a News Limited source. What about Fairfax and the Sydney Morning Herald?

Wayne, Scarlett, Kylie, Tom, Gazza, Sophie, Tom. The Burma story is only saying whether there's any Australian casualties, the article on Keating is just reviewing a column of his from the SMH, 'Road rage' is from reading a police media release and the 'Dungeon children' is reproducing international stories. If there's quality journalism there, it's difficult to see. Saying that the printed and electronic media customers are too different doesn't mean that there shouldn't be easily accessible stories with real substance. Those five stories about people in the entertainment industry take the width of the entire web page?

So, er, where/what is the money (that van Niekerk says they're still making) going to?

And just for laughs, what's the Guardian's (from England) website look like?

Hmmm. So,
1. Are Australia electronic media consumers that much more celebrity and sport-focussed than the print consumers?
2. Do the Australian media outlets expect them to have that orientation or judge stories by the number of clicks on each, then pander to those tastes?
3. Do the Australian media realise that serious journalism can be presented on their websites, too?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Lies, damn lies

ARIA are the Australian Recording Industry Association, (as wikipedia says) a trade group representing the Australian recording industry. They also claim to represent Australian music artists, and have released a documentary where several big-name artists are "crying poor" over piracy, quoting the Veronicas:
"The problem with downloading obviously is that it's ruining our industry in a way, because I mean you know artists just aren't making money, record companies aren't making money from it," Lisa Origliasso of the Veronicas says.
An Onymous Lefty covers this initial piece of news in more detail (in an excellent post). I was skeptical at reading of Frenzal Rhomb's inclusion in the list of artists, considering Lindsay "The Doctor" McDougall's position on this issue.

Hence, I wasn't particularly surprised at hearing a response to this on the radio this morning, and to read the follow up article in the Sydney Morning Herald:
Frenzal Rhomb guitarist Lindsay McDougall, also a radio presenter at Triple J, told the Herald he was furious at being "lumped in with this witch hunt" and that he had been "completely taken out of context and defamed" by the Australian music industry, which funded the video.
The film, which can be viewed at, features interviews with some of Australia's biggest musical acts including The Veronicas, Jimmy Barnes, Operator Please, Evermore, Silverchair and Powderfinger. They either could not be reached by the Herald yesterday or were overseas.
"Were overseas"? Haven't they heard of a telephone? Are the journalists too busy to call managers to confirm? Or did they only try to contact them through ARIA? A lovely bit of lazy journalism there.

As for the movie maker, Lindsay "The Doctor" McDougall replayed on the radio this morning an example of his response when contacted:

I'll leave the last word to The Doctor, too:
Frenzal Rhomb guitarist Lindsay McDougall, who claims he was duped into appearing in a 10-minute film that is driving the campaign, says "I think it's bullshit, I think it's record companies crying poor and I don't agree with it."

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Media and the Chinese

Would anyone really be surprised about this happening, after all the Chinese Ambassador has said? I almost wonder why he hasn't been told to front up at The Lodge and asked to explain him(them)self(ves).

In the meantime, what's with The Australian full-stop? Have they had feelings on inadequacy, and started drifting further right in response to them telling themselves that because the Labor Party won, we're going left. That's evil, obviously. Can't have and dissent of opinion. For example, a reasonable suggestion on a News Ltd's "blogger"'s entry treated very weirdly.

Ok, it's a bit of a draw to compare the two. But really. The opinion pieces posted on the website seem that they're raging, raging against the dying of the... er, light. Yeah. 'Cos obviously, with all this loving, caring, LEFT-leaning crazy 2020 summit stuff, someone's got to "provide balance".

And I haven't posted for a while. Sorry Soupie.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Reading emails

Oh, no. Not you reading your emails, but your boss!

So they're going to have someone wasting their time reading your email. It's all asking for trouble. I'm not particularly up in arms about them reading your email - it's work time, it's work email, you've probably got the company name, address, etc in the footer as a signature. If you're using it for non-work purposes, I wonder if it could be construed as misrepresenting the company.

And if you don't use a private email account for private communication (and there is a few providers around), you're a bit naive. You don't live at work, so why should you have a permanent and private address at work?

My actual issue with this is that the Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, thinks that this will help the nation's security:
He has said a hack attack in Estonia using "botnet" viruses shut down that country's government for two weeks.
Er, no. Just no. How is denial of service attacks related to checking your employees' emails? Even better, why would terrorists used unsecured and unencrypted email to coordinate anything of the sort? What's next, putting out posters warning non-targets not to go to a certain location at a certain time?!

Even better, from the Sydney Morning Herald site:
"It's unquestionable that it's necessary from time to time for network supervisors to open emails addressed to people to identify viruses and the like …"
Does he really think that an anti-virus program is actually a schedule or timetable written up for people to check emails, rather than a chunk of code?

I think this extends to both sides of politics:
Christopher Pyne, Malcolm Turnbull and Joe Hockey were the only senior former Howard government ministers who could use a computer, a Liberal party source said.
Note: this doesn't make Pyne any less of an idiot.

Oh, and lol. If he could help Nelson, he wouldn't have lost the last election.

Update: Jacques Chester does what the original journalists should've done, and asks some questions. So maybe McClelland doesn't think that, and some hack told him to say it. Or maybe he still does. WHO KNOWS.

It doesn't stop him and Gillard being foolish for using the OMG TEWWOWISM!!@#@!!! line - or actually knowing anything about teh web.

Friday, April 11, 2008

On the news tonight

There won't be anything newsworthy. Oh, it'll be what people are interested in - or rather, what people get told to be interested in, but it won't really be news. A bit like the new segment on the afternoon show on Triple J - "That's not news!" (Oh, and Dools and Linda are currently my favourite duo on teh J's.)

Despite the occasional loopy articles (Scientologists saying psychiatry r bad), ABC Unleashed usually has something of interest, in this case Antony Loewenstein's Spot the news story. And the premise asks a question that I don't know (especially locally-based) news outlets could answer with any justification other than "er...": why is incest worthy of more news time than a casual (but not very well judged) salute/wave, and more newsworthy than the US government approving torture, saying laws don't apply to (their) interrogators? Australia happily went along with them to a couple of random sorties into that bastion of savagery, the Middle East, and now this? Did we know what we were involved in?

It's not just a problem here, the US has it's issues too. Of course, everyone remembers Hillary Clinton breaking down crying. The only related piece of analysis worth anything was Jon Stewart giving a serve to the media's coverage of it - a raised eyebrow and a "wtf" expression.

The Piping Shrike's latest is not exactly real news, but at least it's real analysis. As are the daily updates from Woolly Days. In South Australia, there's The Advertiser, The Australian, the... no, wait. That's it for mainstream circulation. Both papers are owned by the same crowd - News Limited. Fantastic diversity, right there (I will say that I hear the editors of the papers do have a fair bit of autonomy - of course, News Ltd could just keeping sacking people until they find the ones they want, but that's another conspiracy theory). The quality of The Advertiser is negligible. The Sunday edition, The Sunday Mail, is like Woman's Day but for $1.80 (or whatever it is), and once a week.

The Australian as the only national broadsheet lays claim to be higher class, but a few in the blogosphere and a few responders to the op-ed pieces have had issues with their lack of education in statistics when reporting political opinion polls, and a lack of a left eye when covering politics in general. Trying to appear that they create balance by having Phillip Adams write a column once a week doesn't really cut it when Janet Albrechtson, Greg Sheridan and Dennis Shanahan are on the other side of the coin - although, Shanahan is at his best when discussing internal workings and performances of the one of the major parties, and not comparing between them.

Not saying he's biased or anything. Just... it feels like he allows his viewpoint to colour the article more than it should. The less said about Albrechtson's attempts, the better...

So for more analysis on the non-internet side, people need to rely on SBS and the ABC. For a couple of (mostly, in SBS's case) publicy-funded broadcasters, I'm not sure why they don't upload their documentaries and news stories to their websites. I could understand it if it's not an in-house production, but when it is? Being able to watch Dateline and The Cutting Edge when I want would be fantastic - and leave off the need to buy a $500 hard disk tv recorder. Hey, even The Chaser's War on Everything was available on their website (although the video quality was fairly average).

But I guess this is too advanced for us: if we're not at least 10 years behind every other 'first world' country, then we need to go backwards!

/me sighs

Oh, and bongs and other drug paraphernalia are now banned in SA. Obviously, burning hose pipes and alfoil are much safer options.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Giving geeks a voice

But then, do we have to? Maybe the only relevant argument to the obvious point of this entry is that there's a bit of geek in all of us; hence we're all geeks about something - and everyone should have a voice!

Or should they. Reading some of the comments on this story, it's hard to see how "shoot the dirty buggers" has merit (note: I am passing no judgement on the stories' subjects, there's been enough of that already). Or the reporters constantly providing new angles into the story - do we really have to? Or is that even the same thing?

...Probably not.

The actual point to this entry is that on a forum I frequent, a couple of people have recorded a few lines from each of us and uploaded it (to a file-sharing site) for others to hear our voices. For a few of us, considering the international nature of the forum, it's the first time.

What is interesting, though, is that after a decent period of online interaction (3? 4 years) people talk the way you expect them to talk, but don't always sound the way you expect them to sound.
...most people in real life are almost just as you picture them after knowing them online for a number of years.

(A certain someone should be chuffed I'm quoting them.) I guess the point is that online, despite some people creating a facade or different persona to amuse/compensate for themselves, you will still get a stream of words, mostly unedited from the mind to the page.

And that's all kinds of cool.

Friday, April 4, 2008

On life and loving personal freedom...

Somehow this is the best way the NSW Education Minister could think of to increase attendance.

So, for the count: they're fingerprinting minors; they called parents stupid for refusing to allow their kids to be fingerprinted (with exemption notes); and then the students weren't "allowed" to leave the room until their fingerprint had been taken, regardless of afore-mentioned note.

Equally disturbingly: the NSW government planned and implemented something like this with little to no media coverage. I don't watch Channel 7/Bubblegum news every night, but I do read web news sites, and quite a few blogs where something like this would have been mentioned, so I was wondering how this got past all that until I read to the end of the article:
The process had also never been formally announced by Mr Della Bosca nor the Iemma Government, he said.

O RLY. This story has even been buried on; I saw the article in The Ostrayhun:
The school children may as well get used to it. Within a decade, having your implanted ID chip, or biometric data, scanned every time you enter a school, train station, shopping mall or night club will be standard, every day stuff.

Brilliant. Can't wait for it.
An Education Department spokeswoman said inquiries would be made about the scheme.

I would damn well hope so.

Meanwhile, a more important issue: most Australians unable to fix their computer. Get some skillz, nubs.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Smarmy? Me?! Noooo...

I've just been called smarmy on Andrew Bolt's blog. I don't mind doing a bit of what he calls "trolling". After all, it's just asking a question to justify his viewpoint when he doesn't do a full disclosure. Gold lulz. (i.e. he has no idea what real trolling is like...)

His April Fools' Day joke wasn't really funny; what was were other people's reactions. Despite being "fooled", The Ostrahyun's update is amusing. As is the update from BoltWatch.

Anyway. The little office jokes and pranks are always the best. And better if they don't entirely depend on someone forgetting the date, but rather on cunning.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Crackbook or Crackpot?

When I started this blog, I thought to myself 'no more ranty posts', mainly 'cos they're crap. So, since I feel like typing, I need topics. Topics.

I added a Facebook "application" called 'Premier Football'. You select a team from your "friends", and compete against friends' teams (and against randoms, I think, but I'm not interested in beating people I can't lord it over), even if they're on yours. Which makes for a quite lulz.

What I'm wondering, though, is who the hell wrote the algorithm determining results?! So far I've played 3 games, and lost 12-0, 10-0 (here I thought it would improve), and 18-0 (10-0 at half time)! Crazy.

On the subject of Facebook (or Crackbook, depending on how much of an addictive personality you are), I was slightly... startled... to find out a while after joining about some of the terms of signing up. I didn't read all of the terms when I did, only a quick scan. Hence: slight surprise to read that one interpretation of them could mean that they (Facebook) actually own these details. So, apart from being cautious about friending not-very-well-known others, people should also have second thoughts on what data you put on there, not that just visible to friends. With the credit card function, for example, if there's any holes in security (due to your habits or otherwise) someone's probably got all the details to reset every detail of your bank account.

Well, maybe. Hooray for paranoia.

In the meantime, Australia drew with China 0-0, despite losing 53 of our best players to injury, travelling 12,085km to an altitude of 4,021 metres. Well, almost. And contending with a referee that thought a studs up late sliding tackle is only a free kick. 's not bad, actually...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Me too!

I think the Coalition should be ashamed of themselves. People've been saying for years that they've been underpaid, and suddenly, the Opposition is crying about it too! What's wrong with coming up with original complaints about your job?!

Apparently $150,000 a year isn't enough for floating around and listening to people, while occasionally turning up and having a spat in front of and with a lot of other blokes (with the occasional bird stooping to join in the dummies moving at high velocities), all of which make you look like an 8 year old.

Boo hoo.

In the meantime, my eyes went wonky reading Possum's housing affordability article, part 2. Long, but interesting (as always).

I was also entertained and slightly appalled by a certain rabid reaction to a typo/misspell (whichever, whatever), documented at GrodsCorp. I don't know why I am, though - been there, seen that...

Easter weekend vacillates between the best and worst weekend of the year. It's a 4 day weekend, so no complaints there. Batteries recharged, etc. However, I wished to purchase alcohol on Friday; apparently I have to conform to the religious beliefs of only 64% (and declining) of Australians...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Moar Movies

I watched the end of The Pianist last night. Adrian Brody's acting was ok, I guess. The circumstances in which he lived (and, really, survived) were pretty amazing. Eating some of that shit... staying in an apartment with 3-4 rooms for as long as he did. I'm surprised he could even walk after that. And actually play the Chopin Nocturne(?) he did - it was a pretty vigorous. I mean, not only is there a reason concert pianists practice for up to 8 hours a day, but the amount of energy he had - sure the preceding 30 seconds - 1 minute he could've been stiff with fear of ze German (Snatch reference; sorry), but he wasn't exactly full of bounce before that.

Overall, a sobering movie for me, but it feels at the end they suddenly thought "Shit, it's gone for 6 hours! We better wrap it up!". Meh.

I finished watching Fullmetal Alchemist on the weekend, too. All 51 episodes. I enjoyed it, the way they increased the power and explored more abilities as the series went, starting the series with an episode some time in the future, then going back and exploring the past and the path the Elric brothers took to get there. Ok, so people survived explosions and gunshots/stab wounds at a higher rate than normal, but it is anime, after all. I was left feeling a little lost at the end though; the final episode didn't resolve things enough, and it left it open for more.

As I found out reading the Wiki page, there's a movie which takes place after the series, so I think I better get that.

And, interest rates falling or rising? Hmmm. More interesting, though is this post about housing affordability, and this paragraph in particular:
What is really interesting here in terms of housing affordability is that real house prices remained virtually frozen over the period from 1990 through to 2000. It wasn’t until Howard started stuffing around with halving the capital gains rate and things like the first home buyers grant that real house prices started to accelerate.

Fantastic work.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

You... what?!

Hostel facing lawsuit after telling Aboriginal people to leave

You... seriously what? Ok, the proprietors might be racist. They can be racist. They don't have the right to discriminate because of that, but with free speech often comes issues that people don't really want to hear about. On both sides. That's an interesting follow-up I might do. Anyway, I'll leave the racism to the backburner for a tick, because sadly they could probably still do business while being racist.

So, are they simply stupid? Do they really think that this won't get news coverage, that their name (Haven Backpacker Resort) won't be broadcast everywhere? Idiots.

And to the revenge by mob rule on the intarweb. I'm gonna copy the post at Hoyden About Town.

Avoid the Haven Backpacker Resort (owned by Adventure Tours Australia) on Larapinta Drive, Alice Springs. They have issues with understanding racism.

I'm embarrassed to be Australian. Again. :( How does a tourist of a co-guest see and complain to the manager in all of 30 minutes? How do you even approach a manager about something like this?

Where do these idiots come from? I mean, I've heard stories about Alice Springs, the problems with alcoholism (mainly in reference to Aborigines), can't let women walk about at night (it's the same north of Cooper Pedy in South Australia due to drunken miners, according to a mate of mine). But... simply thinking that this is (or was; they've probably been told by now) anywhere near ok, leaves me, despite thinking originally I'd write more than this, speechless...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The pain of listening to idiots...

Especially when you don't really have a choice.

When you watch cricket, there are two choices: listen to the Channel 9 Commentary Team of Messrs Benaud, Chappell, Greig, Lawry, Taylor, Healy, Slater and Nicholas, or mute the TV and turn on the radio to listen to ABC Grandstand, which has Jim Maxwell (decent), Kerry O'Keefe and Harsha Bogle (funny buggers).

Simple choice? Well, yeah, except the radio is always 2 seconds after the tv due to the commentators required to also describe every action in the game. I always get a jarring feeling listening to the radio with the tv on, especially when the TV commentators get stats up relevant to the current situation, like Tendulkar's average in the first innings of a ODI. However, O'Keefe's funny, half because he is funny, and partly because he thinks he's funny and laughs with this sort of snort that everyone finds entertaining.

Meanwhile, listening to the Channel 9 commentary makes my skin crawl. Mark Nicholas and Ian Healy spend the whole time saying how grateful Australia should be to have these wonderful men representing the country. Urgh.

Nicholas suddenly appeared on our screens about 3 years ago, and has since taken up the host chair at the beginning and end of a match, innings, review or day's play. Originally, I tried to pass off his comments as taking it that this is what the English thought of the Australian team (i.e. gods), and are amazed at the level that they play at. However, this view receeded quickly. This article details some of the things wrong with him doing this, the most pertinent is that he has little idea about the very highest echelon of the game, verbally crawls and sucks at any interview (in between using a finger to point at the interviewee to make a point, which I find quite rude), and believes that any action on the cricket field quite literally shines out of (a) god's arse.

Healy just needs to stop commentating now, please. He's crap. He's crawling. He's way too chummy with the team to have any credibility.

For me, just put Richie on for the whole game. He's old, but he always makes the best points. Chappelli's conceited, Grieg's a wanker (not just as an insult; it's a valid description of him) and Lawry an idiot (albeit an entertaining idiot, sort of like the class clown). Michael Slater and Mark Taylor could be good - in fact, they're getting better. Finally. It's taken them a few years.

Meanwhile, India have finally worked out that they only need to lift their game 10% to beat Australia in the ODI's this summer due to the lack of form of a couple of the Australian mainstays (Ponting, Gilly, Symonds, and Clarke and Hussey have been sporadic), and are currently cruising and 1/99 in the second final after winning the first.

I think I'll leave my comments on the way the two teams, boards, media and the ICC have acted for another time. Suffice to say, lol.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday afternoons

It's a love/hate relationship. The weekend's so close you can reach out and touch it, but it drags on for like, forever. Maybe a beer with the pub lunch isn't helping the monitor headache that feels like it's coming on, too. Of course, it disappears once I look away.

Plus, I'm too busy thinking about the anime I'm going to watch this weekend: start with the final 5 episodes of Death Note (which I should've watched months ago), then hope that Fullmetal Alchemist is, er, ready to watch. Then, catch up on Underbelly - which isn't anime, but anyway, it's a tv series to watch.

Hopefully tonight at the Fringe isn't too awkward, and a certain couple of people do turn up to give me relief from the others that may be.

Beep bloody beep.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Weekend at the moofies

So, I didn't do anything last Friday or Saturday night, apart from watch a few movies that I had been meaning to - and one that I didn't mean to, did anyway, and lost a few brain cells as a reward.

First up, Memento. I paused the film halfway through to close up windows and blinds around the house, grab a drink and have a stretch, and I felt super weird. The scenes are cut in reverse chronological order, and the way Guy Pearce portrays the main character Leonard (and his loss of short term memory ability) made me feel extremely disjointed. I closed up the blinds and suddenly it felt like someone else had done them, and that only half of my brain was active. Awesome. Anyway, the movie kept me on the edge of my seat (metaphorically speaking, I was lying down) right to the end, where you find out how Lenny got himself in his current predicament (considering the scenes are backwards, the logical ending to the film!).

Saturday (after going for a run in the morning), I re-watched American Beauty. I'd forgotten how both awakening and enjoyable this film was, from watching the plastic bag blowing around in the wind with the leaves to Lester working through issues (otherwise known as stuff) to get to a place in his life where he was happy. Considering the amount of unenjoyment of this film that Australian high school students are put through... I dunno. Being a bit older now makes me realise that this'd be a film that you would want maturing teenagers to seriously think about.

Finally, Akira. I've had a few people give me the "it's not as good as everybody says it is", and I agree to a certain extent. The thing that grabbed me was the constant screaming of the characters at each other, which was grating and annoying. Other than that, ground-breaking, yeah, but Neon Genesis: Evangelion had the same feel: the writer just wanted to one-up everybody by showing how smart they were with a slightly incomprehensible story-line.
That and you could see where Dragonball(z?) took it's characters powering up and stuff from. And stuff. Heh.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Won't Somebody Think Of The Children?!

Oh, the pain. So, Labor's in government, everyone's happy (enough), and then... an idiot comes along.

I mean, is he stupid? Are we governed by Family First? Are we actually in China?!

This man somehow thinks that you can't just bypass a filter by a little bit of traffic redirection. Fool. More fool those Victorians, too, who didn't vote below the line.

So... the stats are in. Expected: 1.4 million downloads. Received: 30,000. Call centre receives 20-40 calls, per day. Waste of AU$84 million. What does this imply? Well, to about, lessee... 100 - 100*(30,000/21,000,000) = 99.85% of Australians don't want to have their internet filtered. And I wonder about what the percentage of those using the filter are concerned parents - that is, they probably don't want their internet usage filtered, but rather just their childrens'.

Seriously. I want the proportion of my tax that went to this department back.

For moar, here and here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Public implosions, chapter 1

Chapter 1 implies there'll be more. I expect there will be. The interviews with the "it wasn't my fault" cretins on the ABC's (Australian, of course) Four Corners post-election doco last night were good for humour, entertainment and pieces of amazement. Downer's assertion that the reason the Liberal Party is not forming government is due to voters simply wanting something new is more proof that he still either has no idea what happened, or in an interview where he made some admissions of a nature you'd think to be confidential to the inner circle of the party he lied.

lol. Lord Dolly Downer. Minchin spent his time trying to give an "I told you so" but with less guts, Hockey "it's not my fault WorkChoices sucked", Abbott "omg Howard's still a legend", and Costello, well. You could see the torture in his eyes, especially when Howard annoited him as his successor at the concession speech. I'm not going to jump into it and say that he was foolish for expecting Howard to step down (which he was) along with a puffed up ego (which he had)... wait, I have jumped into it. Oh well. Like someone commented elsewhere, he should've told Howard to get bollocksed in 1994.

Jeff Kennett was right in his call that the outcome of this won't do any good for the party; it was only good for the Liberal ministers (excluding Pynenuts; he's irrelevant) to try and write history the way they want it written.

More comments on the theatre is at Possums Pollytics and Larvatus Prodeo. For a right-whinger trying to defend(!) the Liberals, look for poster 'hc' at LP. Much lulz.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Movies galore

You know, Batman is a fantastic character. The sheer amount of fail in Batman Forever and Batman & Robin almost destroyed all of that, as Clooney reportedly said. However, Batman Begins was a start on the road back, with The Dark Knight hopefully continuing this. Having a hero that can represent some of the nastier side of humanity, while still trying to save people from themselves is something which any half-decent director/scriptwriter should make the most of.

I was also reading a review of Batman Begins which said that Bale had trouble connecting to the audience as much as Michael Keaton did; bollocks. I actually watched Batman about 6 months ago for the first time; a good description would be awkward and the fight scenes, er, laughable (which apparently is more down to Burton as a non-fight-scene director). The way that Batman Begins hid fight scenes by having Batman take out the crims behind the camera made for a spookier, and more powerful, effect.

About the one redeeming feature of Batman & Robin was Alicia Silverstone being as pretty as she is. Especially in pseudo-leather/body moulded armour. I couldn't really jump out of this paragraph without a mention of the sheer dedication that Christian Bale has shown in his roles in his past few films (and, most likely, all of them); putting on the 50-odd kilos between The Machinist and Batman Begins is pretty damn crazy. Asking for health troubles, he is.

Anyway, this was all brought to mind after someone commenting on the quality of of the Dune miniseries, made in 2000, and the question of why "they" ruin such good material with such crap scripting/acting/effects.

All I can say is fuck knows.

Friday, February 15, 2008

'tis frustrating

Friday afternoons, that is. Mornings shine brightly with that promise of the weekend just within touching distance, such that they are the best time of the (working) week. Afternoons are the most boring, drawn out, painful period any person could experience, as you have your fingers on the weekend, but are unable to bring those fantastically evolved opposable thumbs into play, and grasp...

It could also be the after-effects of football training last night, where I have been finishing up most nights with my calves cramping, probably due to the way I run - and it doesn't seem to matter how much I stretch. I do notice, though, that I don't cramp up in games. Perhaps the socks help. Maybe I should run around with my socks up (I don't wear shinpads at training).

Speaking of which, omg. It was freakin' frustrating last night. Somehow the first team coach decided a couple of guys were worth trying out. Mistake. Big mistake. I played at the back (none of the rest of them were capable) and was continually sold short by a lack of movement off the ball and game-watching. Two of them thought it was a good idea attempting to go forward in a 2v6 situation. It seems like they've never actually played with anyone else - they'd ignore all instructions from the back, wouldn't let anyone know if they had an opposition player up their backside, call "turn" when the player with the ball had no space...

Hopefully the actual contenders for this squad turn up next week. I even gave up drinking during the week for football, and this is what I get! be honest, it was in response to getting completely trashed Friday night, and being too hungover to do my own physical work for the rest of the weekend.

I know whose fault it is. Not mine. Absolutely not mine!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Blogs are terrible things

And they are. I mean, how much time am I a) going to spend thinking about updating this rather than doing any, more meaningful, thing else, and b) going to forget to update it, and somehow feel bad?

I probably won't feel bad. After all, I didn't really feel bad after failing to updated a LiveJournal. lol. LiveJournal. That's all sorts of emo fail, right there.

So, I guess I'm back to trying to work out how you can serialise (but with a 'z') a Hashtable of custom classes/objects, in C#. Lovely.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Post #1, omg.

So I'm here sitting here, apathetically grinding the trivia bot for the first time in months (ok, two), and it asks what soap was originally made of. I, being the tower of integrity and strength that I am, punch 'soap' into wikipedia (no, trivia bots don't deserve integrity).
The first picture I see, I think of Fight Club, and that I should watch that movie again... after I've seen everything else I'd been meaning to see.

Like Three Kings.

I'm sure that was interesting, but the meaning of it escapes me... for now. I'll remember it while jogging, I bet, and forget it by the time I get home.


Meanwhile, I'm amused by those making comments on that bastion of journalistic brilliance, Good to see just how educated the public is. It restores my faith in everything.
The particular comments amusing me are those criticising our dear PM, Kevin "Krudd/Dudd/insert childish demeaning name here" Rudd, and that we're saying sorry at all. In fact, those Aborigines should be grateful, grateful i tells ya! That's right! Speechlessness seems to be the best defence to the urge to scream.

And Scientology v everyone else. Much lulz.