June 30, 2005

Horse 364 - Viva Holden! ... or is that Holden Viva

Do you remember back in Horse 358 how I suggested that Holden had "long term plans to replace all the cars below Commodore with Korean built examples"? Well surprise, surprise, Holden has confirmed it will introduce two 4-cylinder produced in Korea later this year.

The new Holden Barina, read re-badged Daewoo Kalos, replaces the existing Corsa/Barina and Holden Viva will hit showrooms to cut Holden’s small car prices at the budget end of the market. Barina and Viva will include design and engineering influences from Holden, particularly in areas such as chassis and engine performance to ensure driving characteristics reflect expectations of Holden buyers and meet the harsh thumping conditions of Australian roads.

The TK Barina will replace the existing XC model while the JF Viva will establish a new nameplate for Holden between Barina and the AH Astra series. The TS Astra Classic will be phased out as Viva is introduced into dealers. The TK Barina will be available in 3-door and 5-door hatch variants while the Viva will come in 4-door sedan, 5-door hatch and 5-door wagon variants.

The two-way relationship between Holden and its South Korean counterpart is growing stronger it seems, this has been cemented with the introduction of Barina and Viva. Holden has exported 4-cylinder engines to South Korea for many years and this year began shipments of the Daewoo Statesman from Australia to South Korea.

So my Prawny Bard your baby Astra is set to miss out on seeing it's kids anymore, instead it will be saying hello to it's eastern cousins from Busan.

June 28, 2005

Horse 363 - Rain?

For the last few days it's been raining...

Southern Baptist Preacher:
You know, people have been coming up to me lately and saying:
"Oh Phooey it's raining"
Well I tell you that this has got to stop! We can't be bagging rain, I mean, what is it that makes out flowers grow? What is it that keeps our rivers wet? Why, it's rain.
Without rain there'd be no plants to give us food. Without rain there'd be no rivers and creeks and streams for our children to play in. Without rain there'd be no water in the tap to drink. You couldn't wash anything, you couldn't make cement, you couldn't go swimming, even my little fish Albert wouldn't have anywhere to live.
So it's about time we got behind rain. Support your local rain cloud, learn to love rain, it's one of the sky's most important products.
God bless you, be good to your family and remember to always: Pray for rain.

Personally it hope it keeps on going for a while, except for the incessant whinging of the farmers.

Six Year Old Kid:
Whinge whinge whinge there's no rain and we can't grow anything and we want drought relief money. Whinge whinge whinge there's too much rain and we can't harvest anything and we want flood relief money. Why can't the government do something about it instead of ripping us farmers off? It's the government's fault you know. If they'd put in decent cloud making machines 40 years ago then we'd have lots of rain today.

Then there is always the Big Brother argument.

I remember when rain was clean and wholesome. Now it seems you can't step outside without some little nimbus dropping it's condence in the shower. I tell you it's little more than precipitation for the masses.

...ah I think I'm done now.

June 24, 2005

iFive - 24th Jun

Lazaro's Dog is one of those bands which everyone has heard a song of, but never heard or seen the band at all. Like Yello's "Oh Yeah" from the film Ferris Bueller's Day Off, everyone I know can sing Home Entertainment System word for word. This is not at least caused in part by the appearance on the Sony advert.

I predict that The Caesars with Jerk It Out will be another such song. Although it appeared in FIFA 2004 it's most famous for it's part in the iPod Shuffle commercial. Ironically, the CD is copy controlled in Australia which means that even if you bought a legitamate copy in Australia then you couldn't actually play it anyway... at least not through iTunes - yeah, good work Sony.

1. Could Well Be In - The Streets
2. Poprocks & Coke - Green Day
3. Sport on Two - Radio 2
4. Home Entertainment System - Lazaro's Dog
5. Rise to the Challenge - Asian Dub Foundation

June 23, 2005

Horse 362 - Feng Shui

Feng Shui is the ancient Chinese practice of placement and arrangement of space to achieve harmony with the environment. The practice is estimated to be more than three thousand years old.
Feng Shui literally means wind and water in Chinese or in its original expression: Wind is that which cannot be seen or invisible and water is that which cannot be grasped or elusive. Therefore Feng Shui is a life-force/entity thingamybob which must be both Invisible & Elusive.

Various tabloid magazines explain that Feng Shui is the arrangement of objects within a home to obtain an optimum flow of qi (which I assume to be soem sort of magical energy); however this qi has never been observed and many believe that certain, filthy, low-down, dirty, double crossing, no-good, scoundrel, corrupt interior designers have abused this concept to profit from poor, innocent yet naïve consumers.

I however think that Feng Shui is a marvellous idea and before you tell me how New Age radical I am, I must explain myself.

Being winter, my bedroom is very cold; therefore by carefully placing a heater in the room, heat energy will make it less cold. Also if I install a second power point, energy will flow down the cable into the heater rather than an existing extension cord across the room which I might trip over.

Also, I think it might be a good idea not to put too many books on top of the bookshelf in case they develop kinetic energy and fall on my head if the door slams.

Later on this evening I might even use Feng Shui on my car by getting qi to flow into my petrol tank via stored chemical energy of the petrol to create even more kinetic energy when I put my foot to the floor.

What a marvellous idea Feng Shui is. Energy can be changed from one form to another, but it cannot be created or destroyed. The total amount of energy and matter in the Universe remains constant, merely changing from one form to another. The First Law of Thermodynamics states that energy is always conserved, it cannot be created or destroyed. In essence, energy can be converted from one form into another.

Energy exists in many forms, such as heat, light, chemical energy, and electrical energy. Energy is the ability to bring about change or to do work. It seems to me as though Feng Shui is just a shorthand method of saying The First Law of Thermodynamics.

June 22, 2005

Horse 361 - The Office

Channel 10 are shouting from the rooftops about their new comedy The Office, saying that it breaks new ground in comedy. What they don't tell you is that this series (already shown of Fox 8) is a remake, and a poor one at that.

The British show (made by the BBC and seen here on the ABC) is set in Slough, England, in a small branch of the fictitious paper company Wernham Hogg. The office is managed by David Brent along with his assistant Gareth, a lieutenant in the Territorial Army. Much of the comedic success of the series stems from David, who tries to be his employees' best friend even as he is an office tyrant.

David's character flaws are used to comic effect, including numerous verbal gaffes, unconscious racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination. The British show has no laugh track, and is designed to resemble a fly-on-the-wall documentary (mostly because when it began, the show's budget was skimpy - as is typical from the Beeb).

Other office denizens include the unassuming Tim, whose flirtation with bored receptionist Dawn is a major arc in the series because she is engaged to warehouse worker Lee; of course a rather subdued love triangle is played out.

After the original British series won two Golden Globes, an American version of The Office was created by NBC. Though it retains the same title, the American version of the show is set in Scranton, Pennsylvania (which is equally as boring as Slough I assume). NBC has described it as a faster-paced version of the original; I describe it as crap.

The original writer Ricky Gervais said before the premiere that it would probably have actors with better teeth but this is about all it has. Gone are the subtleties of the original like the hum of lights and the awkwardness of the staff, also gone is the slimyness portrayed by the boss, replaced by American brash cynicism which just makes this look like any other sitcom.

So then Channel 10, it looks like you've bought a failure... pity really.

June 21, 2005

Horse 360 - Etats Unis Petit Prix

How many cars do you see here? 26? 20? 10 even? Try SIX, and this is just the just of the US Grand Prix.

Michelin teams have been ordered to explain their part in the US Grand Prix tyre fiasco at a hearing of Formula One's ruling body later this month. The hearing is set to take place in Paris on 29 June, the FIA said in a statement on Monday.

All seven teams using Michelin tyres withdrew from Sunday's race after the company admitted problems with them. Their request for the installation of temporary chicane to reduce speeds was rejected by the FIA.

The six cars which started the race were all on Bridgestone tyres, including eventual winner and Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher. Team boss Frank Williams said the Michelin teams were willing to race for no points as long as a chicane was added on to the circuit.

The problems in Indianapolis came to a head when two Toyotas crashed in free practice on Friday, thought to be as a result of tyre failure. Michelin checked all their tyres and conducted similar tests in France, concluding that there could be no guarantees of safety.

The technical director of Michelin, Frederic Henry-Biabaud blamed the specifics of the Indianapolis track and he hit out at motor racing's governing body, the FIA, for failing to agree to a compromise.

This is perhaps what is most frightening. Most F1 circuits have runoff areas at the edge of the track, Indianapolis doesn't. If this had happened at say Silverstone or Monza then the two Toyotas would have simply ended up in the gravel and little more would have been said.At the end of the day, drivers aren't paid to kill themselves and it's better in the interests of safety to have not raced rather than have another weekend like Imola in 1994 when Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna both died.

Team officials, F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone, and at one point all 20 drivers were locked in lengthy talks in a bid to save the race. The teams emerged to say nine of them had agreed to race with a chicane at Schumacher's accident spot. But Ferrari objected and F1 officials had already ruled out making a change to the track. That's right Ferrari, who by clever working of concorde very nearly threw Minardi out of the Australian GP.
The Italian team vetoed a plan agreed by all the other teams to introduce a chicane at the final corner, which was where Ralf Schumacher had hit the wall at 340km/h on Friday.

Formula One has made itself look stupid on a number of occasions in recent years but the fiasco that was the 2005 United States Grand Prix took it to a new low. Any number of solutions were possible, even if all of them had their inherent problems. What was needed was someone who could cut through the fog of self-interest and find a solution to staging a race and it is worrying for the entire future of the sport, let alone its future in America, that no-one could do that on Sunday.

June 20, 2005

Horse 359 - Parking Inspectors

Grey Ghosts, Blue Bombers, call them what you will; by any other name they'd still be hated by all and sundry. I speak of none other than the scourge of common trade and the source of much inconvenience, the parking inspector.

These municipal council appointed parking stasis must take joy from being the most hated people in the community. It's not just the odd occasion when I've been parked legitimately to find an offending yellow envelope stuffed under the wiper blades of the Ka.

And is it just me or are the women (and I use the term loosely) employed by Mosman Municipal Council frightfully butch? What is it with dykes and bad haircuts and uniforms? Did these people fail at being police? A few years ago I would have accused them of being stupid, but let's be honest, no-one is too stupid to be a police officer in NSW today.

Why can't they be doing something useful? There seems to be an abundance of graffiti on the walls and streets and let's not forget terrorism: it seems that you can't walk down the street without someone else being accused of being a terrorist.

I say give them all handguns and let them loose on the youth gangs. Whatever happens we'd all win.

June 17, 2005

iFive - 17th Jun

iPod does pop is the message that the little white brick gave me in the last set of seven. Not content with rambling around with rock music, it decided to play songs which no regular bloke would usually admit to having - but rules are rules. I make no apologies for the summery plastic pop music on my iPod. There has to be a balance to offset angry guitars and angsty lyrics.

Emma Bunton (aka Baby Spice) has now got two solo albums. They'll never make it to Radio 1 playlists and perhaps were always destined for Radio 2 but it still says something that she has sold more records than Mel C (whose latest outing Beautiful Intentions belongs in the microwave).
Indeed Free Me sounds like it would have topped the charts in 1966, even the title track could have been in the opening sequence to a Bond film (those silhouetted bits).

1. Free Me - Emma Bunton
2. Kiss Kiss - Holly Valance
3. More More More - Rachel Stevens
4. Unforgiven II - Metallica
5. Take Back - Green Day

June 16, 2005

Horse 358 - GM

What's good for the General Boomers (boom) is good for the USA.

But all is not well at the giant car maker. There is talk of 25,000 jobs to be cuts over the next 3 years and already one of the brands stateside has already suffered the chop, one can no longer buy an Oldsmobile.

Of all the brands in the GM group worldwide, there are only 4 that turned a profit in 2004; Isuzu, Vauxhall, Daewoo and Holden.

Isuzu Trucks picked up a major boost in 2002 when Sumitomo Bank started to write off bad debts in Korea. This then meant that in Japan Isuzu's biggest competitor, Mitsubishi was cash-strapped and when they suffered a league of poor reports of poor build quality then Isuzu came in and stole market share.

Vauxhall of the UK is closely tied to Adam Opel AG. Opel itself has this lingering image of cheapness which plays against it in Europe, whereas Vauxhall over the last 15 years has slowly come to a point of domination of the British Touring Car Championship.In 2003 Vauxhall added to this new image when it rebranded it's BTCC team VX Racing, and on top of that started to import Holden's Monaro under the new tie-in brand VXR.

Daewoo on the other hand is a tale of an underlying company being sound when the management was insanely corrupt. Daewoo Group ran into deep financial trouble in 1998 due to the Asian financial crisis and the defunct Korean government under President Kim Dae Jung.
The government could not keep their own deficits down to a respectable level, so had to push companies like Daewoo off the chart. This ended with the ultimate destruction and dismantling of the Daewoo Group without much opposition. Chairman, Kim Woo Jung was exiled in silent force overseas and was named as a fugitive after he did not return.Daewoo in an effort to stay alive more or less de-branded itself and when Holden bought out 51% of the company in 2003 Daewoos were rebranded as Chevrolets in Europe as it was felt that the name Daewoo would not shift product.

Holden Motor Group has either sat as number 1 or 2 in the Australian market for nearly 40 years. The Family-2 engine and its derivatives have long been exported and sold in Opels, Vauxhalls and Daewoos for quite some time. The Monaro which is exported to the UK and to the US as a Pontiac GTO has also built a handy little earner for the company.When Holden bought 51% of Daewoo in 2003 it had long term plans to replace all the cars below Commodore with Korean built examples.
Now that GM has faltered, Holden has taken a further step and it looks like that the Vectra, Astra and Corsa (Barina) will all be replaced with jointly developed cars.
So what is the problem for GM in the US? It has been said that their biggest problem is simply economies of scale. GM operates the Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Hummer, Pontiac & Saturn brands in the US alone with little to no cooperation in the group. R&D and doubling-up has to occur in there no doubt.

Perhaps an elimination of the brands is in order, people buying a GM car outside of the US will usually only see one brand for sale but not in the US. I hope that the General does get out of its woes, for at one time it was the largest corporation in the United States ever, in terms of its revenues as a percent of GDP. In 1953 Charles Erwin Wilson, then GM president, was named by Eisenhower as Secretary of Defense.

In 1955 it was the first company in the world to make over US$1bn in a calendar year, so what's good for the General Boomers (boom) is good for the USA.

NB: I drive a Ford and wouldn't have it any other way.

June 15, 2005

Horse 357 - More Than You Can Poke A Stick At

Just how much is it exactly? Can it be defined? Why do we even care?

The first variable that needs to be looked at is what actually defines a stick. Now if a stick was very small, or twig size, the scope for doing any poking with it diminishes. Likewise an unwieldy stick doesn't facilitate actual poking and turns into a giant wave fest.

Clearly in order to do any poking, we're looking for maximum size that is still moderately controllable.
Also, the stick needs to be a single unit. If it has multiple ends then the act of poking closely resembles a sweep or a brush.
Therefore the ideal stick with maximum reach I estimate to be something in the order of three feet.

Now then, if the average person doing the poking is about 6ft tall, then logically the total reach capability is about 9ft from floor to top. Therefore the largest possible thing that you could poke a stick at would be that inscribed within a 9ft cube.

When you come to think of it, 729sq.ft of stuff is actually quite a fair amount of stuff to be poking a stick at. In real terms this means that you could poke a stick at small cars, elephants, bus stations, bookshelves etc. These things aren't totally unreasonable nor unfeasible to be poking a stick at so perhaps out 9ft cube is about right.

It's also incidentally about the same as enough room to swing a cat in case you were wondering.

June 14, 2005

Horse 356 - The Flag of Hawaii

Yesterday was the Queen's Birthday holiday in NSW (maybe that's why she's so old - she has two birthdays a year) and something struck me as quite odd. Australia is still part of the Commonwealth and as such still retains the Union Flag in the canton but what of Hawaii?

Yes Hawaii. 50th US State and given status in 1949, that Hawaii. The Hawaii that had it's own king even. So then, how could a state of the US of A still retain the Union Flag even though at no point in its history was it ever a British colony or dependancy?

The answer lies in an accident as much as the discovery of the Australian east coast in 1770. James Cook's first voyage from 1768-1770 had been scientific in nature and he'd hoped to carry out experiments on the transit of Venus; they failed so sailing home he found this big sort of island thing (Australia) and then went home.

Cook's 2nd and 3rd voyages were more based around finding Terre Australis and possibly a trade route back to Britain. On his 3rd (and final) trip in 1778 he found a group of islands and named them after his boss Lord Sandwich. He then continued east until he found the west coast of America but alas, no way through. So he then headed back through the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) whilst complaining of a stomach ailment (probably from walrus meat) and was subsequently speared and killed by the Hawaiians over an altercation over some stolen rowboats.

I guess that there must have been a fair degree of guilt between the two parties, because when George Vancouver visited in 1814, he gave King Kamehameha I (not to be confused with Dragonball Z) a Union Flag as a token of the friendship between the two countries - yes I mean countries. Hawaii was a kingdom in its own right. At some stage the Union Flag was incorporated as a gesture of goodwill and peace between the two nations.

It's a strange one anyway, here is an entity which was never part of the British Commonwealth and yet still flies the Union Flag anyway. So while we in Australia fly corrupted Blue Ensigns as a symbol of subjugation, Hawaii does so though an historical oddity.

June 13, 2005

Horse 355 - Wake Up With Sir Wogan

Waking up with Wogan (which is infinitely better in Australia considering we're 9 hours ahead) will never be the same again. Terry Wogan has been given a knighthood in the Queen's birthday honours list.

Former chat show host Wogan, boasts the highest audience of any UK radio DJ with his BBC Radio 2 breakfast show.

He would have been given the title "sir" had he been a British Citizen but as it stands because he's Irish he can't get it. What a shame we can't call him Sir Terry Wogan OBE.Terry is an advertisement for the human race - I just don't know what sort.

As a proud TOG (Terry's Old Gits) I hereby ring out this news from the highest rooftops in the empire... and pray for all our souls if even Terry is a knight.

June 12, 2005

Horse 354 - The Doctor

The Doctor has been back on Aunty for 5 weeks now. Chris Eccleston (no relation to F1 supremo) as The Doctor and Billie Piper as Rose Tyler have fitted the parts well. Eccleston is of course the 9th Doctor and matches the requirements for a Doctor very well - he is a nutter.

That was always one of the endearing charms about Dr Who. Despite every alien world looking like it was a quarry in Wales, the Beeb always managed to play up on the very fact that the budget for something as frivolous as Dr Who would have to in nature appear cheap and cheesy.

But now there's CGI penetrating the very core of the show. This in turn has meant that one of the strangest things in the universe no longer holds. Once upon a time if you wanted to outrun a Dalek all one needed was a set of stairs, but it seems as though Aunty has provided them with jets, so now they can come upstairs after you.

Another great irony of the show is the TARDIS itself. It was explained a long that the chameleon circuits which enabled it to cloak itself ceased to work and therefore it has remained a 1950's style Police Box ever since. Also that when The Doctor did repair them that he couldn't find his own TARDIS anymore so had it change back into a Police Box (he then re-damaged the circuits).
What we now find is that the copyright on Police Boxes is actually owned by the BBC and not the Metropolitan Police force who actually invented the things because it seen seen to be more readily associated with Dr Who than the Met.

Also freaky is that the current series is made by BBC Wales - so all those quarries now mean a trip across the street in a lot of cases.

June 10, 2005

iFive - 10 Jun

iFive? Sorry. The number of tracks played on the iPod this week is nil. Why? I feel like I'm 15 years old again, I now have a new Oasis album in my hands - Don't Believe The Truth.

It sounds different to everything that Oasis have ever done before. Andy Bell, Gem and even Liam have written songs which means big brother Noel has to compete to get onto it.

#1 in the UK and in Japan. I expect it to do mid 30's in the US and probably about #4 in Australia which is a pity because X&Y by Coldplay isn't as musically interesting - aw well.

Horse 353 - International Tracksuit Pants Day

According to Merrick and Rosso of Nova Radio, today is International Tracksuit Pants Day. The day when you're supposed to wear them to work, to the shops or even commit arson of some great public building. Do you even remember trakkie dacks?

The ones you bought to play sport in? The same ones you now only put on to flop onto the couch, eat pizza and watch bad TV. The same ones that now stop you leaving the house. "No, mum, I can’t go and get the milk. I’m in my trackie dacks! What if someone sees me?"

Tracksuit pants are so comfortable that as soon as you put them on, you lose all interest in sport, running, walking, even bending down to pick up the TV remote. Tracksuit pants can be insidiously paralysing.

Unless you’re wanting to commit a crime, that is.

When you read crime reports, or see "Crimestoppers" it’s obvious. Tracksuit pants are the garment of choice for almost all criminals: Bank robbers, Drive-by shooters, Wife-beaters, Litterbugs, All are committed tracksuit pants wearers. Is it the comfort aspect, or the implication of speed or the lack of judgement that comes from spending far too long on your butt in a bean-bag that’s driving these rampant tracksuit pant wearers to lives of crime? Maybe we will never know.

What we do know, however, is that tracksuit pants first materialised in the 50’s. Now I’m not making any connections between tracksuit pants and communism or alien invasions or the freemasons here, but you’ve got to admit, a LOT of our very best conspiracy theories have their roots in the shadowy activities of the 50’s.

It’s best to stay wary of them just the same.

After all, it’s possible that the damage inflicted on our psyche through constant viewing of baggy, floppy, pizza-stained garments with elasticated ankles lead to even more disruption of our lives in the future.

We could see tracksuit pants wearers of the future stumbling into flop-houses where they’ll loll about, glazed-over with comfort and laziness, the elasticated waists of their tracksuit pants pushed down to allow their pot bellies more room to breathe.

We’ll have to rescue friends and family and educate them on the character building wearing in on your freshly washed skintight jeans. We’ll have to confiscate tracksuit pants and hide them when the afflicted are strung out on their beds waiting for their pants to dry on the line. Hell, we’ll probably all end up at Tracksuit Pants Anonymous meetings.

It could happen. Just wait and see.

June 09, 2005

Horse 352 - Language in Gaol

The news in this country over the last few days has been replete with high-profile court cases; trials, hearings and whatnot (Shapelle Corby, Michael Jackson, phone-chucker Russell Crowe) but what I'm really peeved off with the the use of the word jail. This may be because I happen to live in the United States of Australia that has no life or will of its own, but increasingly the media here is becoming very lax and I wish to call an anathema on it. I even saw the word colorize in print yesterday. Colorize? It's not a real word surely. The nearest word would be colourise I should think. Also, the pronunciation of 'Z' is getting annoying. 'Zed' not 'Zee'! It makes me angry how Americans want to say 'zee' just so it rhymes, what's worse is that 30 years of Sesame St are beginning to have an effect on Aussie kids.

Now I'm the first to admit that language is an evolving animal that should adapt as needs bear and I'll even conceed that the standard repository for language in this wide brown land of telephone chuckers is the Macquarie and not the Oxford Dictionary but even the Macquarie doesn't include jail or color within its pages. -ise is the accepted variant and even words like elevator and automobile should be replaced with 24 carat honest words like lift and car.

Jail? Horrid word.

The whole purpose of having a dictionary is to standardise the language, or else we'd be stuck in the utter chaos of Chaucerian English. I may hold on to the old ways like a well chewed shoe, but my time has not yet passed. Especially when an institution like Old Melbourne Gaol was printed in the newspaper as Jail, even with a photograph of the sign in the background. Don't even get me started on traffic circles, I mean what are they supposed to be? Ah, someone meant to say a roundabout. I've said it once and i'll say it again. 'Center' is the final frontier. As soon as we go down that track I leave this country behind.

My big gripe with Windows/Office etc is that it always seems to default to US English. When I install Windows on my machine I always specify Aus regional and language settings so why can't Office pick this up and give me the Aus English dictionary by default? Why does MS Publisher not pick up the same dictionary settings as for MS Word? And why is it in MS Publisher that when I change the dictionary to Australian English that it continues changing my s's to z's? I may not be a fan of American-English but I accept that its usage is probably more widespread than Anglo-English. Just please don't force me to use it, I far prefer the style, character and quaintness of the traditional Anglo version.

And Jail vs Gaol? I admit I think that Gaol looks far more old-fashioned (and thus, perversely, trendy).

June 08, 2005

Horse 351 - I Believe I Can Fly

...well not me, and maybe not my Ka but my Ka can pull something that can. If you're thinking that this photo look downright daft, then you're 100% correct, give yourself a goldfish.

Yesterday afternoon after spending the morning thoroughly bored with calculating Elligible Termination Payments for a client's superannuation fund (believe me the rules are a nightmare), I was privvy to a phone call from someone who wanted to take their glider for a fly. Now being the sort of chap who likes merely watching planes, I thought this would be good for a few yuks but what was to follow was really something.

I arrived at Schofield's Aerodrome to find that my friend Big Ron had got his Falcon Ute bogged in the grassy airstrip. The problem it seemed wasn't so much as how to get the plane moving, but how do it without chopping up the grass before the glider ran over it. Solution?

My little Ka.

Only being a light car and having quite a lot of torque, I was able to accelerate both the Ka and the plane to a shade under 130km/h (80mph), now I can tell you first hand that doing 80 miles an hour over grass isn't the most fun thing in the world. Then having the rear of the car lifted into the air briefly as the slack is taken up by a plane some 100ft in the air is frightening.

Ka survived, plane was in the air. Photo looks daft and there are 3 million stories in the big city, this has been one of them.

June 07, 2005

Horse 350 - EU and EI Addio

I think I've just found possibly the very first noble act by a politician anywhere on the face of the planet within my lifetime, excuse me while I have a lie down now.

The UK's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw says there is "no point" in pursuing plans for a referendum on the EU constitution after France and the Netherlands voted "No". The plans for a referendum in Britain have been more or less put on hold until further notice.

Now apart from my obvious leanings towards "the sceptered isle" I shall now tell you why I think that this act of public sloth from the Foreign Secretary is perhaps one of the best things that could possibly happen in the immediate future (which by all accounts happens to show a touch of irony considering we usually hate it when pollies do diddly-squat).

Yesterday being the 6th of June marked the 61st anniversary of D-Day. During the 20th Century, Europe saw the vile shadow of not one but two World Wars. Now while it's fair to say that England was never sucessfully invaded in either sets of conflict, it still paid a hurrendous price with the loss of many of its sons and fathers - if that's just England and Her Maj's UK then what of the rest of Europe?

It's been estimated that directly and indirect loss of life during the two World Wars was something in the order of 250,000,000. It therefore makes perfect sense to unify the nations of Europe somehow to ensure that this terrible bloody mess never happens again. Intertwined with the promise of a united and peaceful Europe also lie the seeds for the destruction of that union. Europe as an entity is an economic unit that could take on the United States sure, but instead of 50 states which are all part of one country, there lie about that many countries and possibly double the number of ethnic groups speaking some 29 languages.

The Constitution of Europe requires at its essence an acquiescence on the part of the member countries to let European Law have priority over their own laws. Now while this works for the 6 states in Australia and the 50 in the US, in Europe there seems to be a lot of resentment if say a country like Poland was railroaded by the other member countries into imposing a law which it neither agreed to nor ratified.

There are of course other implications for Britain which are unique. One is the problem of the Scottish banks. Currently they issue their own currency against the debts of the bank, but under EU rules, this power would be removed and consequently I think it's fair to say that the buy-back of hard currency would probably bankrupt Scotland and thus drag down the UK with it.Also there is the problem of state monopolies like the BBC and the NHS, both of which are paid via subscription and not via taxes.

When Britain becomes president over the EU come July 1 it would want to show yet again a united front, and as such if Britons also voted "no" on the constitution, then they'd be accused of being the baddies who killed Europe. Europe will die eventually, it's just that no-one really wants the blame yet - doing nothing is the best policy and hence Jack Straw is the first noble politician I've seen in my lifetime.

June 06, 2005

Horse 349 - I Hate Flowers

The BP in Cammeray as the last standpost of the green shield has finally succumbed to corporate whims and has relented and replaced its signage with that flower.
From 1915 BP had as its logo a shield in black and white super-imposed over the Union Flag. There could not be a more formal statement of British Petroleum than this.
In 1932 it changed to reflect Britain's rise as what would eventually become Formula One's only superpower and the black and white became British Racing Green and yellow.

The shield always gave me the impression that BP was a reliable company. Italicising the lettering and changing the shape of the shield slightly in the late 80's retained the strength but gave something of a forward-looking image and, combined with the very rapid recolouring of stations, signage and pumps to a warm, friendly shade of green, made the stations attractive without descending into faux-friendly all lowercase childishness as we have now (Wild Bean café? Why?)
Pre-90s the stations were mostly white with green & yellow (and some red) highlighting - closer, in fact, to the present colour scheme. Indeed, the sans-serif lowercase font used on the pumps and canopies in the 80s was particularly nice, and I'm thinking if I have a photo of them somewhere...

Now even the last bastian of the shield has fallen to that flower and I find myself lamenting a world of what once was. The new flower is supposed to represent la-dee-da enviro-hug-a-rainbow values but ends up just looking like someone in a suit in a board room must have been smoking one of the refractory products of the crude which the company sells.

Also, it would appear that there was a name change that snuck under the radar, for they are no longer British Petroleum but now Beyond Petroleum. What are you too good for petroleum, now that you're beyond it? Petrol is sooooo last century, I'm off to play the grand piano. La-dee-flower-da! It reminds me of hippies trying to save the world by using less off "mother nature's" precious resources and then driving a clapped out 1967 Kombi.

I still hate the flower.

June 03, 2005

iFive - 3 Jun

When my workload goes up, I'm actually more inclined to take the iPod on the walk to the bank. Also I find that as Nova switches slowly to having more RnB in their chase for ratings in the afternoon and the Shebang plays more 80's rock again, I find myself mining older and older records.

Popcorn - released in 1972 is the ultimate in Synth-Pop. Despite all attempts since, this ridiculously simply song made full use of the new electric instrument at its disposal. Not until the Mellotron came back into use in the 90's did anyone even get close.

1. Popcorn - Hot Butter
2. Turning Japanese - The Vapors
3. American Pie - Don Maclean
4. 1967 It's Happening - Radio 1
5. Stole My Car - Mai FM