February 28, 2005

Horse 305 - Football as a Religion

The subject of football as a religion I have thought somewhat interesting. On the great terraces we have congregations of people who week in week out sing out their praises for team. Sometimes people's emotions rise and fall with the fortunes of the club and there are even people who will make pilgrimages across the country and even the world just too see them play. In Australia the football faithful have to stay awake to often ridiculous hours watching on cable or lie awake with a tannoy buzzing away in your ear as the sounds flood in from half a world away.

Yet what happens if your team fails you? This morning Liverpool suffered a 3-2 defeat after leading 1-0 for most of the match. This was caused by a Gerrard own goal and with that the chance of silverware died. Gerrard himself threatened to leave the club is success was not forthcoming and yet it is literally on his very head that it was snatched away - I wonder now how he feels as the one who is personally responsible.

But the faithful don't get angry if God doesn't deliver a miracle every week. Football fans on the other hand do get very annoyed if their teams are not performing to the expected level, and miracles are often demanded. I don't think having dedicated fans is enough to class football as a religion. There is no belief in a super-human controlling power in football. Fans watch, support and maybe even worship eleven men running around a pitch every weekend and although that doesn't seem very spiritual nor entirely very wise, it does breed intense patience. Liverpool fans have been waiting 15 years for another league title; there exists an entire generation of people who weren't alive the last time that England raised Jules Rimet.

"It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich fan to enter heaven" - Alex Ferguson

"Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I'm very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that." - Bill Shannkly

Of course football's not more important than life and death and I don't think Bill Shankly thought so to. I do think, though, that he recognised a central tenet of humanity - that there's little point in having a life if you don't care for anything during it. That's the real meaning of his quote - that there should be a passion in people's lives. Whether or not you think it should be filled with football is another question altogether but it'll do for 90 minutes... except this morning - Life is crap without silverware.

February 27, 2005

February 26, 2005

Horse 304 - We Need Global Warming

Global Warming is grouse. I think it's utterly brilliant. People talk of global warming like it's a bad thing but quite frankly I can see certain benefits to it:

1. Holidays - Most people if you ask then would like to go somewhere warm for their holidays. If the world was warmer then all of these people wouldn't have to go as far would they. This would not only save of time and effort but also valuable resources like petrol with reduced travel costs.

2. Sea Levels -
a) I have a theory that sea-levels would move precisely nowhere.
The ice caps in the ocean are rather like ice in my glass of gin & tonic. The amount of water created by melting ice is less in volume than the ice itself, so there is in effect no chance of the water levels rising such that it spills over the edge of the glass.

b) If in the event that sea-levels happen to rise then who would actually lose? Poor people on idellic Pacific island countries.
Besides, if you're a Pacific island country, how difficult is it to push a lean-to up a hill? People should just buy property in Dubbo if they that worried. Sure it may be 400 miles inland now, but if the sea level rises far enough it's prime beach front real estate.

3. Climate Control - People always complain that the weather forecasters always get it wrong. If we were to set up a nuclear winter with a greenhouse effect then we could actually control the weather for ourselves. Australia has loads of empty space at the moment, I'm sure that if we were to dump some nuclear waste out there and have the odd nuclear accident then no-one would say very much other then the kangaroos who evolve x-ray vision and laser devices in their eyes.

If we all do our part then I'm sure that we can all contribute to global warming. It makes perfect logic, and we'd be helping the environment too.

February 25, 2005

Horse 303 - Football Philosophy 101

In the game of football a team's character more often than not is defined by the make up of the formation and sometimes more often than not the philosophy of the coach/manager.

Having plied my trade at Winno for so long, the move to Wenty Uniting I've found almost disheartening. I always knew that the skills I had to read a game from the middle were there and in quite a number of places I still can evade defenders and direct play, BUT...
Wenty Uniting plays a vastly different game than I am used to. On the whole we seem to be rather intent on playing the tram lines and frequently I find myself running backwards from behind RM to RB. Also I find that turn-in happens far later than expected, either through unsuredness or vacillation; what this invariably means is that at this stage I'm quite often 10ft behind the ball expecting something not forthcoming. Admittedly, technically I lack a left foot and some basic defending skills, begrudingly even in training I'm tending to fall back to a defensive-mid rather than a central role and I also expect that as a newbie that I am still invisible on the park.

So for this year I trade the Orange kit for the Blue, the 13 strip for probably the 27, Max Ruddock Reserve for the fields of Freame and a side built around a mid 6 to one built from the defensive 4. 2005 will be a season of total change both physically and philosophically speaking. Houghdy will fix it, Damascus was on the road, but only time will tell what Rollo will do.

Follow http://wentyfootball.org/ for all results, photos n stuff. I expect our intrepid reporters of Thommo, Houghdy & BJD will kee you all informed.

February 23, 2005

Horse 302 - Sexiest Cars on the Road

Perhaps a follow up to Prawn's post about the Astra (and even Horse 292) this post has been on the back burner for a while...

So I don't think that the Astra is the sexiest car on the road, actually it looks a bit too corporately bland to be sexy in my book. Here then hopefully are the 6 sexiest common cars on the road - please note that these are the common cars, I could have said the GT40 but since I've never seen one they hardly count, not do I could either the 1968 Corolla, the Mini or the Beetle as all of these have been discontinued for some times and fall into the realms of "classic"

6 - New Beetle - New Beetle isn't more sexy than the old one. New Beetle qualifies in it's own right because it is fairly common now and actually breaks the mould of what a 2 door hatch should look like. Purists may whinge that it's not a "Beetle" but keep in mind that the car is a Golf in a different package. My only thing wrong is that dashboard that extends seemingly forever over the horizon out the front.

5 - Ford Ka - I wax lyrical about these little cuties. Very rarely does one actually get something so desirable on the road. I fell in love with the prototype at the 1995 Birmingham Motor Show, and it took 6 years before I finally got my hands on one (they say that you're often the happiest when dreams and reality match - I could not have asked for a better car than this). Even watching other Kas go down the street still turns my head. This was the last Alec Issigonis designed car (the guy responsible for the Mini) and it's good to see that the old guy never ever lost it. So why only 5? There's better than it.

4 - Holden Monaro GTSR LS2 - You'd probably start to think I was going a bit fruity with the so called "girly" cars so far but nothing is quite as subtle as bashing an egg with a 16 pound sledgehammer. The two bonnet scoops are a reminder of the HT Monaro but the LS2 adds something new... even more brute power. 335kW comes from 6 litres or 438bhp - that's more than the race variants of the RS500 Sierra. I fear that most road users are only ever going to see the taillights of this beast.

3 - Daihatsu Copen Turbo R - I could never bring myself to own one for fear of being laughed at but the little Copen is a very well conceived car. You don't step into a Copen, it's like putting on a warm coat; to drive one of these you really do lose all trace of where you end and the car begins. It's cheap, chic and a little bit Carnaby St... just not in the rain.

2 - Citroen C2 - There is a variant of this with silver C-Pillars and a brushed silver inlay that reads C I T R O E N across the boot of the car. Evoking memories of the 2CV, C2 again shows why little French cars just seem to look better than everyone elses.

1 - Renault Clio Sport 182 - Although the 172 was a nicer looking car, it isn't sold here (or else the Astra Coupe would have made this list) the 182 however makes up for its looks somewhat raw looks with its vents and scoops by being butt-numbingly powerful. Having driven one, the car has much more of a shove in the back than a Monaro does yet it's nimble enough to scoot through traffic.

February 22, 2005

Horse 301 - Do What Now?

On the subject of album covers, the question was put to me on MSN of which I think is the best album cover of all time. Strangely I think that there's two that qualify, one of them (Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band) has sleeve notes but curiously Be Here Now by Oasis has nothing of the sort. These are my attempts from what I can gather.

1. The Building is Stocks Hotel and Country Club, at Aldbury, near Tring, Hertfordshire, a favourite haunt of late Who drummer Keith Moon.

2. The Rolls Royce submerged in the pool is an allusion to Keith Moon when, in celebrating his birthday, piled a Lincoln Convertible into a hotel swimming pool.

3. The Rolls Royce is a copy of that driven by John Lennon in the late 60's.

4. The number plate of the Rolls Royce (SYD 724F) parallels that of the police car on the right hand side of the cover of The Beatles Abbey Road LP.

5. The parking meter in the pool with the Rolls Royce alludes to the Beatles track Lovely Rita, about Rita the meter maid.

6. The white TV, showing the album cover, resembles that seen in The Who film Tommy

7. In the Beatles film Magical Mystery Tour, there is a scene in which Ringo looks through a telescope, as Noel does in the background.

8. The Clock leaning against drummer Alan White's right leg alludes to the station clock found in the Beatles film A Hard Day's Night

9. The Clock itself is also the label on the disc itself. There are no hands of the disc, and the Oasis logo covers the number 9 which incedentally is the position of the title track on the album.

10. Be Here Now does not feature in the lyrics to the song. In fact only What's the Story (Morning Glory)? is the only album title to appear in the lyrics of a song.

11. The Gramophone, resembles a tribute to the record label HMV, perhaps a nose up to Sony?, and whose logo features a dog (Kipper) sitting next to a gramophone.

12. The Vespa scooter behind which Liam stands is typical of 80's `mod' iconography. (The number plate - 514 FMK - who knows?!)

13. In original pictures of the cover, the calender was set to the date September 3, paralleling the day John Lennon and Yoko Ono left British shores in 1971.

14. However August 21, the release date of Be Here Now, was the day in 1988 when British legislation was passed allowing British Pubs to be open 12 hours a day, except on Sundays.

15. Also however there was a delay in shipping of the album. So the album cover was changed in accordance of the release dates in the country. 24 is France, 26 is New Zealand (both picured).

16. The Egg-Shaped Globe was rotated such that Bonehead was looking at the country that it was being released in.

17. The picture on the television is the album cover. Perhaps yet another allusion to The Who but referring to the effect used in the BBC series Dr Who.

The Abacus, Egg Timer, "Examination in Progress" sign, Cigarette butt in the foreground, Bonehead holding a gold key in guitar pose...who knows? I have no idea.
Perhaps Liam's explanation is perhaps the most apt: It's actually a bunch of rubbish we put on an album cover.

February 21, 2005

Horse 300 - Copy Cat, Dirty Rat

Fish Records, Dirt Cheap CDs and about a dozen other record stores have been implicated in the sale of counterfeit CDs this mornings papers tell us. Yet ARIA would prefer to go after the bigger "pirates" who are shifting MP3s on file sharing networks than these people themselves. Given ARIA's position to go and prosecute people, it's almost somewhat of an irony that they're not pursuing active pirates. It's like the Copyright Act is only there if and when people choose to a) obey it and b) enforce it.

Now I don't know about you but something seems distinctly malaise here. ARIA was set up by the record companies to protect the rights of artists and copyright holders to gain royalties from the sale of their music. Or perhaps this really is a case of mistaken identity. ARIA has already accused file sharing networks of stealing away sales and yet actually actively ignores the fact that singles are now only sold on 8 week cycles. The manufacturer will only press the number of CDs it wants to push, market that as agressively as it can and then stand back if it bombs.

What I also find somewhat worrying is ARIA's resistance to admit that record stores on the whole are actually shifting more stock as a result of the sale of DVDs than the corresponding fall in CD sales. In fact the only real barometer of sales may be the album charts themselves. The back catalouge will usually account for about 40% of all record store sales. Because these are a bigger range, they will never appear in the Top 40's lists and therefore not affect stats.

My last question is to do with the value of a gold record itself. Casey Donovan, the winner of Australian Idol, went gold before the record had even gone to stores. Because the album itself was received so poorly, I honestly doubt whether it actually acheived gold through the stores.
In the case of Mistaken Identity by Delta Goodrem, if they've shifted sufficient units does that mean that it earnt a Fool's Gold Record or are ARIA just really a bunch of fools?

February 18, 2005

Horse 299 - Holy Church of Dollar

An evangelical Christian church with links to the Liberal Party has received almost $800,000 in grants from government departments in the past five years.
The Sydney-based Hillsong Church has received $473,588 from the Department of Family and Community Services since 1999, according to government answers to Labor questions on notice.
The Department of Workplace Relations also gave one of the pentecostal church's organisations more than $300,000 last financial year alone.
- SMH 18/02/05

Fairfax Newspapers

This is the final straw that broke the camel's back. It took me a very very long time to arrive at this opinion but I am now fairly well convinced that Hillsong's primary aim is to sell CD's to an overly trusting Christian market. It seems either suspicious that the sitting member of parliament for Greenway, Louise Markus, happens to be both a member of the Liberal party and a long standing member of Hillsong and with these questions put before the Federal Goverment, I too wish to know the answers.

What made me somewhat prick my ears up was something hidden on page 26 of the Sun-Herald on Feb 6 this year:

Hillsong superstar splashes out $2m for recording studio
Darlene Zschech Australia's biggest-selling Christian singer has bought one of the country's best-known studios, which has been used to record albums by artists such as Silverchair, Delta Goodrem, Missy Higgins and Grinspoon. The studio on the NSW Central Coast was purchased by the Hillsong artist for $2.2m.

Sun Herald 06/02/2005 No link to the website as Fairfax want me to subscribe. This is from the newspaper itself.

Now I have no problem persay with Christians being rich and nor do I have a problem with ministers and pastors being paid for their profession (in fact we are supposed to support our ministers finacially, it's prudent and commendable) but something screams "not quite right" when someone like Darlene Zschech just happens to have $2m to throw around like this.
I then happen to go trouncing through Hillsong's own website to find this lovely gem...

In February, we will capture the high praises and worship of our God and cut it into a new album, and our love affair with God will travel to the far reaches of the earth… and in March, we get to host "our nation and beyond" with the Colour Conference. The Spirit of God will draw women from far and wide, so be praying as we get to host and carry this moment.
We love you! Be blessed! Be amazing for Jesus! And let's prove to anyone watching that God is definitely alive, well and working His magnificent plan on the earth!
- Their own website.

From The Hillsong Website

and cut it into a new album? What's wrong here? CD Sales? I ask you. A look into the ARIA charts reveals this...

The Hillsong Church album 'For All You've Done' marks the first time in Australian chart history that a Christian recording artist has held the No. 1 position in this country.

Australian Record Industry Association

Now who is buying these CDs? Well it certainly isn't the general public. Historically Christian music is taken to be a bit of a joke, and in a world that is so anti God and religion, the only people who logically would have bought the disc are Christians themselves or those on the fringes of the realm.

Even Brian Houston as pastor of Hillsong published a book in 1990 called "You Need More Money: Discovering God's amazing financial plan for your life." It smacks more of profiteering from Christians than applied teaching.

Paul was shipwrecked twice, beaten several times and thrown in prison many times. Somehow I think I should follow the example of Paul rather than Hillsong. I admit when it comes to actual pain and hardship, I pale in comparison but I found this in Phillipians 1 which is just staggering...

It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. - Phillipians 1:15-18

I still don't think that the gospel should be used to turn a buck though.

February 15, 2005

Horse 298 - Late Edition, Transmetropolitan

Spider Jerusalem our hero is a indy journalist who writes for an underground newspaper against the fetted stench of a plastic whitewashed society. Dilution and supression of the important things like corruption and theft were the sorts of things that got me hooked on Transmetropolitan. It tells the story of Spider Jerusalem who after retreating to the mountains to escape human kind, finds that his money has been frittered away. A threatening phone call from his publisher brings him back into the City to resume work as an investigative reporter. When he arrives he falls smack dab into the middle of a civil rights riot staged by a womanizing former rock band manager who is an old acquaintance.

The goal of these first few issues was to introduce Jerusalem as a postmodern anti-hero that we can all relate to, and Ellis achieves that admirably. We are given a drunken antisocial and ultimately antagonistic view of what our culture and society inflict on it's members who believe in things like truth and decency. Ellis' thesis is basically that it turns them into depraved drug addicted curmudgeons, who are incapable of interacting with the rest of society. As a depraved curmudgeon living under such circumstances myself to a degree (with the power of Murdoch, Fairfax and Packer), I can confidently say that this analysis is spot-on. And more power to him. The underbelly needs its advocates.

After the carnage of the first three issues, Ellis laid back a bit and did some exploring of the world he'd unleashed the angry little man on. He explores various real issues in the context of a fictitious world. For instance: in Jerusalem Ellis asks the question of what value the is in history when compared to the lives of modern people, through Jerusalem's explorations of the Reservations, a place for the preservation of the exact historical context of various cultures. Ellis postulates the idea of modern people with artificial memories placing them in "Cultural reservations" whose goal is to preserve ways of life no longer practiced. Like the Sun worshipping Aztec culture and the Zen lifestyle of Japan prior to western contact and influence. Throughout Jerusalem's explorations of the Reservations and various other fictional subcultures, you begin to get an understanding for who Spider Jerusalem is, what he believes and what his faults are and there are loads of them.

From the outset he was not created to be a likeable character but I like him because I see pieces of myself in his crushed idealism. I think it's something that most intelligent people can relate to. Spider's personality is unfolded masterfully for the reader as a dejected revolutionary who wanted very much to believe that everything will be all right if he only can steadfastly pursue the truth, only to be shown vividly in graphic detail how little the truth matters in the modern world.

Which brings me to another point. Transmetropolitan is supposedly a Science Fiction Comic, it was originally on DC's Helix label before being moved to Vertigo. Yet it avoids the great pitfall of most science fiction, which is that it forgets to be of the moment it was created in favor of the authors barely plausible gadgetry and setting. I think it was Aristotle that said that setting was the least important aspect of a serious work, or some ignomonious bollocks like that. Ellis follows this logic, his fantasy world serving only to support the purpose of the work, and is not a purpose in and of itself.

In other words, don't go expecting a nicey-nicey sci-fi comic book, it doesn't look cute, the issues and themes certainly aren't simple and the colours and mood is dark bordering on the psychotic. Transmet won its Eisner Award for good reason and if taken to its logical conclusion, Spider Jerusalem would have used that as an ashtray.

Horse 297 - Holden Monaro... Game Over?

Listening to ABC Radio (Australian Broadcasting Corporation - Australia's "Aunty") they interviewed a chap from Holden who was of the opinion that the next GTO/Monaro would be built in the USA as there was resistance by Americans against having "their GTO" come from overseas.

This would effectively spell the end of the Australian built Monaro because the factory in Australia producing these mainly does so for export and there simply isn't the demand here to warrant the factory existing to supply Australia and Britain only.

If the car is produced in the USA, higher wages and then import costs would actually render the vehicle too expensive to import back into Australia and thus there would be no need to develop an RHD variant. This means that Holden gets screwed out of the car that it developed in the first place and Vauxhall would no longer would have the big coupe for their VXR range.

I've said this before, The Monaro shouldn't have been rebadged the GTO in America. All I've heard is complaints about the styling from the americans. It is a great car but it was never built to be a GTO. It was built in Australia, for Australians. Then Bob Lutz came over and said yep I like that, I'll take that and that (the Monaro and the SS ute). Then he expects to sell a refined European styled car as the GTO. Get real. Remember, who is Holden a subsidiary of? That's right, GM. Not surprising, really, as these mental midgets couldn't come up with an original concept for the GTO. So they co-opt the Holden Monaro and decided to "americanize" it.

All of this looks set to be decided within the year with the LS2 Monaro being the last. Thank you Mr Howard, this is what signing a free trade agreement does. It is an Aussie built and designed car and if the U.S wants it they should jolly keep shipping it over from here.

Enjoy the Monaro while you can... game over.

February 14, 2005

Horse 296.1 - Disdain Defeated?

  1. My Ka came home today.
  2. My uni career at Deakin Uni begins today

Horse 296 - Absolute Loony Love

To put this in perspective I am not a fan of this "holiday" but only by association; usually I'd slate the holiday as being little more than an attempt by commercial powers to extract tribute from amorous individuals. In fact the day had been declared a saint's day in 496AD by Pope Gelasius. Although there had been cards passed as such, the day wasn't truly exploited until 1916 when the British Infantry Forces decreed free postage for all troops in active service for the occasion. Now admittedly the cards and presents sent from the front lines in a lot of cases would have been quite depressing, as there was the ever real threat that a poor lady's beau might have been blown off the face of the planet, leaving her behind.I suppose I see the value in this day for those purposes, professing one's love for one's special significant other is indeed a noble and lovely thought.

The thing that truly impressed me today was this inscription on the epitaph in Mosman.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. - John 15:13

Now perhaps you might call it co-incidence that I should pass by this today of all days but I happen to think it suggests something far more robust than just a $3 greeting card, a box of melty chocolates or some wiltatious flowers. I suggest that you think about this:

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still His enemies, Christ died for us. - Romans 5:8

You won't find a more stark picture than a bloodied man who spent hours in pain nailed as a criminal to the most horrid torture device devised to that point as a symbol of love. The colour red may be everywhere on February 14 but it may as well pale in comparison to the most expensive gift ever given. I ask you, what sort of a person would openly go through this just to demonstrate their love?

February 11, 2005

Horse 295 - Future Charles III

There will soon be only five kings left - the kings of England, Diamonds, Hearts, Spades and Clubs.

The world probably heard about this simultaneously at once, that Prince Charles is set to marry Camilla Parker-Bowles. While the news is probably worthy to make the front pages, it isn't as much of a scandal as the press are trying to make out. Admittedly the two of them are divorcees and both went on public record as openly committing outright adultery during the time that they were married but probably quite rightly the reaction among most Britons is that of one giant yawn - 40% of the population when polled didn't care.

I will however in this post try to explain in some regard what this means in relation to Australia... precisely squat. Charles when he does eventually become king will be Charles III. Camilla by virtue of being his wife isn't actually that high up the order in line for the throne with both William and Harry as well as Edward, Andrew, Anne and their children ahead of her. William would be William V and Harry if for some reason that William doesn't become king would be actually be Henry IX. Believe it not, his full name is Henry Charles Albert David Windsor. On the back of the coins Charles III would be facing to the left and William V would be facing to the right in following the tradition going back to the Tudors.

Consitutionally there will be precisely no changes. As it stands currently HM Elizabeth actually has no power in parliament at all. Since the Australia Act of 1984 all appeals to the Privy Council and even her ability to give Royal Assent to bills actually doesn't exist. The Govenor-General as her representative by almost legal fluke is by de facto the head of state.

What do I think of the whole deal? As a known Anglophile and nominal monarchist (by virtue of the fact that I can't honestly see what benefits would be accrued by changing the current system), I like the Great British public think the whole think is worthy of one giant yawn.

Perhaps this still rings true? "The only reason that the sun never sets on the British Empire is that God doesn't trust the English in the dark"

February 10, 2005

Horse 294 - Col. Sanders

Colonel Harland Sanders, born on September 9, 1890, actively began franchising his chicken business at the age of 65. Now, the KFC business he started has grown to be one of the largest fast food chains in the world. And Colonel Sanders himself is known the world over. More than a billion of the Colonel's "finger lickin' good" chicken dinners (right Presbyterian like) are served annually. The Colonel's cooking is available in more than 80 countries and territories around the world.

When the Colonel was six, his father died. His mother was forced to go to work, and young Harland had to take care of his three-year-old brother and baby sister. This meant doing much of the family cooking. By the age of seven, he was a master of several regional dishes of the deep south.

At age 10, he got his first job working on a nearby farm for $2 a month. When he was 12, his mother remarried and he left his home near Henryville, Ind., for a job on a farm in Greenwood, Ind. He held a series of jobs over the next few years, first as a 15-year-old streetcar conductor in Indiana and then lying to get into the army, he spent 6 months in Cuba as a soldier at only age 16.

After that he was a railroad fireman, studied law by correspondence, practiced in local courts, sold insurance, operated an Ohio River steamboat ferry, sold tyres, and operated service stations. When he was 40, the Colonel began cooking for hungry travelers who stopped at his service station in Corbin, a hicktown in Kentucky. He didn't have a restaurant then, but served folks on his own dining table in the living quarters of his service station.

As more people started coming just for food, he moved across the street to a motel and restaurant that seated 142 people. Over the next nine years, he perfected his secret blend of 11 herbs and spices and the basic cooking technique that is still used today. Sander's fame grew. Governor Ruby Laffoon made him a Kentucky Colonel in 1935 in recognition of his contributions to the state's cuisine. And in 1939, his establishment was first listed in Duncan Hines' "Adventures in Good Eating."

In the early 1950s a new interstate highway was planned to bypass the town of Corbin. Seeing an end to his business, the Colonel auctioned off his operations. After paying his bills, he was reduced to living on his $105 Social Security cheques.

Confident of the quality of his fried chicken, the Colonel devoted himself to the chicken franchising business that he started in 1952. He traveled across the country by car from restaurant to restaurant, cooking batches of chicken for restaurant owners and their employees. If the reaction was favorable, he entered into a handshake agreement on a deal that stipulated a payment to him of a nickel (5c) for each chicken the restaurant sold. By 1964, Colonel Sanders had more than 600 franchised outlets for his chicken in the United States and Canada. That year, he sold his interest in the U.S. company for $2 million to a group of investors including John Y. Brown Jr., who later was governor of Kentucky from 1980 to 1984. The Colonel remained a public spokesman for the company. In 1976, an independent survey ranked the Colonel as the world's second most recognizable celebrity.

Until he was fatally stricken with leukemia in 1980 at the age of 90, the Colonel traveled 250,000 miles a year visiting the KFC restaurants around the world. And it all began with a 65-year-old gentleman who used his $105 Social Security cheque to start a business, which all goes to show you that even an old guy can become famous.

February 09, 2005

Horse 293 - 30 Years of Walkmans

Just a little over 30 years ago in 1975, the Sony Walkman started to appear on the Tokyo Subway. Hailed as the new gadget of the 20th century it was bound to change the way people commuted. It meant that for the first time that someone could be surrounded in their own little music bubble and not have to listen to the hub-drub of sweaty often noisy metro carriages.

The first major advance it had was that for the first time people could listen to cassettes (do you remember those?) as well as the radio. People could literally take their own music whereever they went. Of course ettiquette soon suggested that if you had your Walkman up so loud that others could hear it, then in polite Japanese society you were instantly looked down upon and given a very very hard stare.

Ray Bradbury predicted this all the way back in 1951 in Fahrenheit 451, when he suggested that "the bees in people's ears, swept away the silence no leaving any time to think or question". I suppose that that is correct and especially when you look at the types who have their "music" (read chish-chish-chish for that's all you ever seem to hear outside), up so loud that even in not-so-polite society they're still derided as idiots.

Technology moved on from cassettes through CD's and the ill-fated MD experiment. In Neon Genesis Evangelion, Shinji Ikari wears a Sony Walkman that plays S-DAT tapes and what's really intruging about that is here we have a technology that was superceeded before it began and it appears even more archaic in 2015. The most recent technological advance is MP3 and the inevitable rise of iPod and Shuffle devices: instantly desirable they were the "must have" items of Christmas 2004.

I find it odd though that the utility of those original chunky cassette Walkmans is still difficult to find. It's almost impossible to find a CD Walkman with an AM/FM radio and when DAB strikes I fear that it too will be difficult to find. I expect that the most common application in 4 years time when DAB is finally the only last free radio medium (once both AM & FM are terminated - 01-01-08) that MP3/DAB will finally be commonplace.

I still however would have liked to have seen what would have happened if the electrics had been around say in 1955 whether we would have had anti-skip LP Walkmans... 12" of anti-skip technology? That would have been hillarious to watch people carry those about.

February 08, 2005

Horse 292 - Per ad Ardua Astra

Well my Prawny bard, the days of quirky French motoring have come to an end; to be replaced by a car named after the Latin word for star - Astra.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear up front the Astra is not, I repeat not, a funky car. Is most definitely however, in the words of Luke Hines (VX Racing 2004) a car that came to "kick ass and blow bubble gum, but I'm all out of bubblegum". The only option left then was to kick ass and I can assure you the car did quite a lot of that. Everything the car touched in its own right it blew to the kerb. Not a funky car but literally a champion of its domain.

While funkyness may not be a virtue, the car without a doubt screams General Motors. The design cues came from the 78 Rekord which became VB Commodore here in Oz, the boot line with its characteristic lights was passed down from the 1986 WRC surprise package... the Opel Kadett/Vauxhall Astra and then stolen by everyone else (most notably the last model of the Mazda 323 which uses literally the same Bosch rear light cluster). The actual design itself comes from the studio of Bertone. Famous for other such cars like the Lamborghini Muira and Lancia Stratos, both of which like the Astra won the European Car of the Year Award.

The engine has its roots all the way back in JB Camira, good old Family 2. In fact most of the production units (1.8L, 2.0L) were actually produced in Elizabeth, South Australia. If there's one thing to be said about the Australian motor industry it's that it doesn't produce crap. Automotive produce from this wide brown land can be made to be driven into the ground virtually forever and usually only the cancer of rust will finally kill the cars.

As for where it is built? I have no idea. The car could have come from Belguim or the UK or Italy, the only way of knowing is to actually look at the VIN. Admittedly GM had a reputation for building cheap motor cars, and in savvy Europe the way they sought to beat this image was to go motor racing and did they ever.

This is the short list of titles that the plucky Astra won:

1998 British Rally Championship - Manufacturers
1999 British Rally Championship - Manufacturers
2000 British Rally Championship - Manufacturers

1998 Irish Rally Championship - Manufacturers
2000 Irish Rally Championship - Manufacturers

1998 European Rally Championship - Manufacturers
1999 European Rally Championship - Manufacturers
2000 European Rally Championship - Manufacturers

2001 BTCC Champion - Jason Plato
2002 BTCC Champion - James Thompson
2003 BTCC Champion - Yvan Muller
2004 BTCC Champion - James Thompson

2001 BTCC Teams Championship
2002 BTCC Teams Championship
2003 BTCC Teams Championship
2004 BTCC Teams Championship

2002 BTCC - Manufacturers
2003 BTCC - Manufacturers
2004 BTCC - Manufacturers

That's quite a record for anyone to argue against. Admittedly that doesn't include the nearly two dozen race wins it clocked up in the DTM in V8 guise, nor the 18 victories in the South African Thundersports series. The car stole more than just the odd point away from the full-time WRC competitors as a 2WD kit car.

The car itself feels dead in the steering (which is normal for most cars these days - why is that?) and it's a lottery to see if you get one with the dicky reverse gear locky thing that you have to pull up before you can pull the stick across (NB: I got stuck at a services in an Astra on the A3 near Guildford just outside the M25 and couldn't work this thing out for nearly 25 minutes) but ultimately it tracks true and will tend to sit up on the motorway except if the air-con is on.

Ergonomically it's all you'd expect from an Opel, it's literally perfect. Just like the VB-VL Commodore, GM Germany thought long and hard before putting anything in the console. German efficiency comes to hand at every point and apart from trim, the general layout never varied. Grey plastic abounds, which does tend to make you forget which colour of car you're in. In closing, the car aint a funky machine, it's a Eurobox but one that was so perfectly put together that quite frankly the record speaks for itself. There's nothing that can be argued against there and if the new "me too" Astra (that tries so desperately to look like a Peugeot 307) wants to displace the old Annie Astra, then it'll have to more than just "kick ass and blow bubble gum" to upstage its departing sibling.

February 07, 2005

Horse 291 - P-Plate Drivers & Same Old Same Old

Haven't we been here before? Only this time it's worse...

From that bastian of news reporting - News Ltd - Street racer ploughs into crowd

"AN angry mob of drag racers turned on police after an illegal street racer careered into a crowd of spectators in Sydney last night. Up to 30 people lay injured on the road and footpath as punches were thrown and officers shoved. Dozens of police raced to the scene in South Strathfield to help bring the 50-strong crowd under control."

Watch The Daily Telegraph have a field day with this. After successfully conning the NSW State Government into passing laws to keep "inexperienced P-Plate Drivers" out of high performance cars, we have 30 people in hospital after riots and fighting - and who was there on the scene before the police even arrived? None other than Channel 9 and ta-dah, The Daily Telegraph.
The cars in question here are a Datsun 1600 and a Renault Clio, 1595cc and 1394cc respectively. Far far short of the scaremongery employed a few months ago. I'm sorry but neither of these consitute high-performance vehicles no matter which way you look at it; both of these with less power than your standard hack Corolla.

I guarantee that over the next few days, that there will be a recommencement of media attention; the State Goverment will applaud itself over the new laws that it has passed and the The Daily Telegraph will applaud itself based on high-quality investigative journalism... cough cough.

In reality the NSW Government underfunds the Police as badly as the hospitals, schools, railways, roads (why do we pay taxes again?) and The Telegraph makes a living from scandalising everyone without regard for facts for the sole purpose of selling newspapers.

Laws are in place for the good order and well-being of society. It is good if one uses it properly. We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels* It only works under two circumstances, either it is obeyed or enforced. If it's not being obeyed then enforcement is the only option, either by real police or by speed cameras on every traffic light (I don't care). Clearly it has failed and I don't see either the NSW Government or The Daily Telegraph applauding themselves for that now do we?

*sounds like a quote from somewhere don't it? Amazing how much wisdom is packed in there.

February 06, 2005

Horse 290 - Bills

Everywhere I go I see signs saying 'Post no bills', yet every day in the post I receive bills from the the water board, electricity board and telephone company. It's just another example of one rule for national utilities and another for the rest of us.

'Just three dollars a week will supply water for an entire village in Tanzania', says World Vision. So how come Sydney Water charges $150 a month for one only house? Someone is on the take.

February 04, 2005

Horse 289 - Menace on Four Wheels?

Cue a montage of overlapping news sound-bites: "...nearby residents presented a petition of over 500 signatures demanding traffic calming measures...", "...demonstrators blocked the road in front of the school for a total of eight hours...", "...since its installation last year the camera has caught 40,000 speeding motorists...".

Where did it all go wrong? There was a time – not that long ago, even – when motoring was not just a means of getting from A to B, but was also something to be enjoyed; something we were allowed to enjoy. Great stretches of road were built for our convenience and pleasure; our mobility was positively encouraged. But somewhere we took a wrong turn and lost our way. Instead of being applauded as a means to visit and explore, the car has become derided as a destroyer of communities. Instead of being seen as a wondrous tool for efficient door-to-door transportation, it has become an artery clogger that we should abandon because it is too slow, yet simultaneously a ruthless ground-coverer that should be reined in because it is too fast.

We are waist-deep in an anti-car age and struggling to find a branch to haul ourselves out by. But how did we get here? How is it that a nation so clearly in love with its cars – almost regardless of cost – can also hate them so much? 85 per cent of eligible males and 60 per cent of eligible females hold licences, and teenagers are still tripping over themselves to get mobile by motor at the earliest possible opportunity, so who exactly are we fighting? What is this massive force that makes us feel such guilt for daring to enjoy our cars, that makes us almost ashamed to declare a passion for them in polite company?

Sure, there's a handful of small, extremist groups, occupying their time dreaming of a car-free utopia where children can play in the street and where you can leave your front door unlocked at night. They inflict their vision upon the rest of us a couple of times a year by blocking a main thoroughfare or two (always when the weather is nice, you will note), but they are a minority, nothing to worry about, a small fraction of the population who never got the chance to learn to drive, or whose circumstances mean that they can't afford the cost of car ownership (or soap). Their numbers will never stretch beyond that. After all, have you ever heard of anyone who's had a taste of motoring turning their back on it?

Then we've got a government that chooses to lash out at the car. Not through any conviction that it is doing The Right Thing, but because it knows that it can exploit our weakness if it can make is feel bad about our habit. Motorists contribute $137 billion to the economy each year, but in return only $30 billion is spent on transport. Yet guilt buys our silence and our acceptance, and disproportionate reporting that favours sensationalism over education keeps the fear topped up. But the real threat to our motoring pleasure starts much closer to home.

Unlike those small but passionate anti-car groups, ignorance and laziness mean that when we are under attack, we motorists fail to organise ourselves and fight back to redress the balance. And why is it that councils think we want lower limits, more cameras, restricted access, speed bumps and "local traffic zones"? It's because we're asking for them! Sure, we want freedom and rapid progress on our journeys, but in our own street we want everyone to slow down. Well, everyone else, that is, as humorously situated speed traps in response to residents' complaints often prove.

OK, so you and I, motoring enthusiasts, probably aren't that small-minded, but Mr and Mrs Ordinary Average Car User are. Unthinking drivers taking their mobility for granted. And despite never giving a second thought to improving their own driving skills and behaviour, they know for certain that every other driver out there is under-skilled, inattentive and dangerous, and they want protecting from those reckless individuals passing their doorstep. Trouble is, everywhere is someone's doorstep. So the petitions start, the street furniture moves in, and we all have to tackle the obstacle course. And once one neighbourhood gets it, the next neighbourhood wants it: they need protecting too.

It's this frightening lack of thought from so many, mixed with superb propaganda from relatively few, that has led us to this position where cars are perceived as the root of much evil, and to invest more than is strictly necessary for basic five-seats-and-reasonable-economy transportation makes you best mates with Lucifer himself.

It's a sad state of affairs, but what's even sadder is that a large proportion of the blame lies at our own feet. It seems that when it comes to motoring, we're our own worst enemy. When 45% of all accidents happen within 4km home isn't it time to wake up and THINK?

February 03, 2005

Horse 288 - What's The Story?

Listening to Radio 1 last night was rather strange. Jo Whiley was having a chat to someone in Kettering or something or other; giving away yet another DAB radio which the Beeb seems so intent on in doing these days when who should burst through the door then none other than Noel Gallagher. Mayhem ensued for about the next 4 minutes as security was called but it soon came to be clear that Noel not only had permission to be there but also had some news for the world.

The next album of nearly two years in the waiting will hit stores in the UK on May 16. As yet it's untitled and Noel jokingly said that that's just what they might end up calling the album... Untitled. The artwork for the cover looks "very bleak and northern" and the album features songs written by Noel, Liam, Gem and Andy Bell.

"There was an obvious first single but I was singing it," Noel explained. "After 12 years of Oasis, Liam thought that might sound a bit odd, people might think he'd left the band. He threw his cans out the pram."

Oasis long accused of ripping old Beatles materials (by reporters who have never got beyond the "All Around the World" film clip) now can take one step closer to their accusation as Oasis' line-up now includes on drums the son of Ringo, Zack Starkey.

The three opening singles are expected to be as follows: The Importance of Being Idle (Apr 3), Part Of The Queue (Apr 17), Guess God Thinks I'm Able (May 1). Of the 8 stadium shows in the UK this June & July, only the show in Ireland has any tickets remaining, the rest are sold out.

February 02, 2005

Horse 287 - Band Survey

From The Rubber Pants Man

The aim of the game is to pick a band and answer the questionaire using lyrics from the band's songs.

Band: Oasis

Are you male or female?
I wanna love you, I wanna be a better man
(Better Man - Heathen Chemistry)

Describe yourself:
In my mind my dreams are real, Now you're concerned about the way I feel
Tonight, I'm a rock 'n' roll star. Tonight, I'm a rock 'n' roll star.
(Rock 'n' Roll Star - Definitely Maybe)

How do some people feel about you?
You're trying hard to put me in my place and that is why I've got to keep running.
(I Hope, I Think, I Know - Be Here Now)

How do you feel about yourself?
There's nothing wrong in my world, these things they really don't matter now.
(Flashbax - B-Side to All Around the World)

Describe your girlfriend/boyfriend/interest/spouse:
Maybe she'll come dancing with me, 'cause to me it doesn't matter if her hopes and dreams are shattered.
(The Girl in the Dirty Shirt - Be Here Now)

Where would you rather be?
Don't you know, I should have stayed in England, on my polluted beach with all my special friends.
Don't you know, I should have stayed in England, with me big house and me big car and all me friends there at the bar. La la la.
(Bonehead's Bank Holiday - (What's The Story) Morning Glory? - vinyl only)

Describe how you live:
There are many things, That I would like to know, And there are many places that I wish to go
But everything's depending on the way the wind may blow
(Acquiesce - B-Side to Some Might Say)

Share a few words of wisdom:
All of the stars are fading away, just try not to worry, you'll see them some day.
Take what you need and be on your way and stop crying your heart out.
(Stop Crying Your Heart Out - Heathen Chemistry)

What a delightfully silly game ^_^

February 01, 2005

Horse 286 - 12 Men of Virtue True

The Michael Jackson court case starts today, and while I don't want to get bogged down on this case in particular, it raises a few questions about whether anybody in the public eye can ever get a fair trial.

A big part of the process is selecting the jury. Out of a pool of several hundred people, twelve have to be selected who can demonstrate that they'll be impartial. There are questions over whether this is open to fraud, and even when the jury is finally chosen some are concerned that it could be 'nobbled'.
When the "12 men of virtue true" are selected, the defence can actually decide not to include people in that group for any reason they see fit. The defence will naturally pick those people they think will help their defendant's case. Isn't the Ratio Decendii suppposed to be published along with the rest of the trial. Admittedly if anything was added in the obiter dictum then that would be inadmissable as evidence, but a retrial can be called in a higher court surely?

However it seems that many people have already made their minds up. I've heard comments ranging from "oh there's no way he touched those kids" to "it's so obvious he's guilty". And these aren't just from celebrity obsessed nutcases, they're from friends of mine who I thought knew better than to judge someone on the strength of some media reports.

It's guaranteed that once the trial stars there will be unprecedented coverage in the tabloids and gossip magazines, both in the USA and beyond, I wonder what steps will be taken to ensure that none of this opinion reaches the courtroom. The trial is likely to be protracted, so will the jury be properly isolated from the brouhaha which is bound to ensue.

The Jackson case is exceptional because the allegations are so serious, and becuase he's one of the most famous people on the planet; but can anybody (in)famous ever get a truly fair trial?

And can I have a gold star for using the word 'brouhaha' in my post?

Horse 285 - Kill The Wee Thing

I am sitting here contemplating what I would like to post, and in doing so, I took a moment to examine how I was really feeling. This is a task which most of the time I try to avoid because of all the people in the world, I am more critical of myself than anyone else and also find me the most difficult person to trust.

I feel a heavy heart, a sad, and even fearful one. Why is that? I think that because the past has held so many mistakes and hurts, that the present and the future frighten me. I don't trust my own heart to protect me not that I did trust it in the past either. I knew that even if I was faithful and loyal; then even if I was betrayed, I would be able to go forward, holding onto the good that was brought out of it, recognizing the bad for what it was, and hopefully learning from the experience. But now?

No, I don't trust my heart's judgments. As time has past, and for many reasons, I have reflected and even been forced to re-examine my relationships, and to my despair, my own heart betrayed me. What I thought was, was not, and I sacrificed much to those delusions. I thought, not that long ago, that I would be able to recognize a betrayal approaching, but I did not. I have gone forward, thinking I conquered the hurt and disappointments, but too many times, this insane heart of mine comes back up to the surface vulnerable, feeling a love that was lost, causing me pain and anger. I quickly force it down, trying to take control again and quell anything and everything that maybe brought forth at all.

Shove it to the floor and step on it; there it must stay. A foolish heart's folly causes its own demise! What frightens me most, I think, is that I really, truly cannot trust my own judgement of heart. I am one who sees with my heart rather than, and at times, in spite of the good eyes and mind that I have been given. It is a deficit, I believe. I thought that many times it was an asset. Clearly, it is not... it is just not. So, I restrict myself to using only my eyes, my mind, and then, possibly at some point, my heart if required.

If only things were not so complicated in this world, in the people of this world, that one could trust others and trust themselves enough to meet in a place of honesty and vulnerablity, and experience a love everlasting...THAT would be my hope for all.

Edit: Must learn to stop typing things at stupid o'clock in the morning.