July 29, 2005

Horse 378 - The War Against Terror

The War Against Terror, or TWAT, is commonly held to have begun on the 11th of September, 2001 when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in Baghdad. However, it was in fact started in 1492 when French terrorists attacked the World Dance Competition that was being held in Nigeria*.

The first mission of the TWATs is to rid the world of Widely Marketable Difibrillators or WMD, as they play a key role in numerous predicted terrorist attack strategies.

One such projected strategy is to to flood the global medicare market with cheap "meds" and crash the world's healthcare economy. As a result massive swathes of the aging Western population will fail to receive hip-replacements in time and die, leaving a lack of right-wing voters, allowing socialists to seize power and, through their idealistic ineptitude, bankrupt the West's economy. This scenario is known as the Raymond Burr Scenario due to its grannicidal element.

Another potential strategy of terrorists in possession of WMD is to use them as short-range assault weapons against members of the public. It is widely known that difibrillators possess the ability to fire bolts of lightning if attached to an appropriately large magnet - this power could tip the balance in favour of the terrorist in an urban combat scenario.

The Iraqi president Sandman Hussein was a known collector of WMD, as well as other less significant items such as Hans Blix™ and Plutonium. It made perfect sense, therefore, to depose him before he could hand such items to unsavoury individuals (e.g. Osama Bin Laden, Paul McCartney, Evil Bert) and allow a dastardly plot to unfurl. Given the highly efficient nature of the Iraqi postal service (Baghdad to Basra in 45 minutes or your money back) time was of the essence, and luckily the United Nations were easily persuaded to allow the plan to go ahead.

*Nigeria has since become the headquaters of the World Bank. This is evidenced by Nigeria's massive amount of surplus funds which need to be held in private bank accounts in foreign countries because there are no heirs for said funds.

July 27, 2005

Horse 377 - Dizzaholism

My name is Andrew and I am a recovering dizzaholic.

Dizzyness: The term is fairly vague, and can include a number of more specific conditions, ranging from harmless to life-threatening. One of the most common causes of dizziness is rapid spinning; this cause lent its name to the famous baseball pitcher Dizzy Dean of the St Louis Cardinals, whose windup while throwing the ball caused him to spin completely around.

Dizzaholism is a dependency on being dizzy; characterized by a strong craving to spin around in a circle very quickly. Sometimes those with the disorder will lead the sufferer to also use mechanical means such as an office chair or a park roundabout. Dizzaholism can be harder to break and significantly more damaging than dependence on most other addictive substances.

It usually affects young girls aged between 3-8 and boys aged 5-11, but if left untreated can lead onto harder forms of pursuit such as roller-coaster riding, motorbike riding and in extreme cases things like basejumping and skydiving.

I believe that it is a scourge in our community, only this afternoon I saw the brutal effects of Dizzaholism when a 6 year old girl spun around, fell over and began to cry. Clearly yet another innocent victim and one so young.

We must act quickly to end this terrible shadow on society or otherwise thousands of people may succumb and yes, even spill their ice-cream cones onto the pavement of despair.

July 26, 2005

Horse 376 - Monaro - Game Over

The Monaro is to be scrapped. Holden announced yesterday that the last of the V8 coupes would roll off the Elizabeth production line later this year. Thanks to American jingoism, the Monaro is no more. The car which was taken up by Pontiac as the GTO saw bad press as Americans refused to buy "their GTO" when it was built in Australia. So then, Holden who were exporting the car have been forced to surrender their tooling equipment and send it to the US, thus rendering no more facilities in Australia.

I would usually say that this is a case of cultural imperialism gone mad but considering that GM owns Holden anyway, this is scant an explanation but Holden is hopeful of producing a new so-called muscle-car in the future.

The company claims sales had nothing to do with the decision to drop the Monaro after a special edition CV8-Z to be released next month. Despite some speculation die-moulds for the reincarnation of the 1960s and '70s performance leader had been sold to Pontiac, Holden spokesman Jason Laird on their website said he knew of no plans to build the car offshore. I don't know what happens about export programs for the coupe. I guess that they're just leaving it to each of the export markets to decide on product plans.

Whatever the reasons for these sort of rumblings, Monaro as we know it dies in November; likewise Vauxhall's HSV copy, VXR also loses Monaro as I very much doubt that there will ever be another RHD variant. Where does this leave VXR? As far as I can see they are left with their VX220 and the Astra Sport Hatch. It's going to be rather difficult for them to sell the brand now I wager.

Monaro RIP. 1968-1977 & 1997-2005

July 22, 2005

iFive - 22nd Jul

Coming in at No.5 this week is a song by Morning Musume. The group is rather like an Idol type show with auditions being held roughly every six months. Shown as part of NHK's Hello! Project, Morning Musume has had 29 members who have been rolled through the group since 1997, generally they are no older than 22 years old. Suffice to say, it falls squarely in the J-Pop category of music.

J-Pop for the most part is even more upbeat that pop in the west, some would call it hyper. What a pity we don't get NHK on cable.

1. The Man From C&A - The Specials
2. Scott's A Dork - Reel Big Fish
3. Round Round - Sugababes
4. Tsunami - Southern All Stars
5. Yes! Pocky Girls - Morning Musume

July 21, 2005

Horse 375 - Road-Racing Cyclist Dies

Australian road-racing cyclist Amy Gillett was killed and five teammates injured when a car crashed into their group during a training ride. The accident happened Monday afternoon near Zeulenroda, south of Leipzig, where the six-member Australian Institute of Sports (AIS) women's road cycling squad was training for the Tour. The Australian team had a safety car behind the group, as is customary, but not in the front, organizers said.

Cycling Australia chief executive Graham Fredericks said two of the other riders, Louise Yaxley and Alexis Rhodes, were in a serious condition in intensive care at a local hospital. Fredericks also said the three other injured cyclists were in a stable condition.

The girl driving the Honda Civic who hit the cycling team head on had only received her drivers licence 4 weeks ago. She had swerved onto the wrong side of the road and hot them head on, then pranged her car into a ditch. She was also seriously injured and could not be interviewed by police yet. It is likely she can be charged with manslaughter.

While this is a great tragedy, I think it highlights something which quite frankly scares me as a driver. In the morning peak traffic periods, it is not uncommon to see cyclists and bicycle couriers not only weaving through traffic but worse, gambling with bus lanes.

It's not that cyclists shouldn't be allowed on roads, but there is a point in which caution and common sense has to be used. If a 1 tonne car hits a cyclist, then its usually the end of the cyclist.

Worse, by travelling in bus lanes, cyclists not only endanger themselves with far bigger objects than motor cars, but they annoy traffic generally which has to slow down to avoid buses.
I don't want to hit someone on a bike and if even elite sportspeople aren't immune to getting taken out by cars, then I think it's more than just a subtle warning that bicycles and cars don't mix.

Is punishment the answer here? A suspended licence is probably in order I suppose, but sending someone so young to prison on charges which are both unmeditated and quite harrowsome I don't think is a correct course of action and punitive damages won't solve the grief and the hurt that the family and loved ones of Miss Gillett must be going through.

July 20, 2005

Horse 374 - Elementary

I'm feeling very sciencey today, probably because on today the 20th of July, the words "that's one step for man, one giant leap for mankind" were uttered (with mistake) by Neil Armstrong. So in this vein of science, this epistle is loosely related.

Roentgenium or Rg is the Nelson's Number of chemical elements. Being 111 it used to have two far nicer names - Unununium and eka-gold. Due to its presence in Group 11 it is a transition metal and so probably would appear as a heavy, solid, shiny metal. One cannot speculate on whether it would be colored like gold or not.

Ununoctium or Uuo as element 118 must have some weird properties. It sits firmly in the Noble Gas column but it's too heavy to be a gas, so there is a distinct possibility that it could in fact be a noble metal. There is another problem, namely the problem of gravity. With 118 protons in the nucleus, at what point will the positive charge be enough for them all to repel each other thus overtaking gravity?

Illudium is a chemical element that exists on Mars. We know for a fact that it has highly explosive properties and that its chief known use is in the manufacture of Intergalatic Explosive Space Modulators. At least one Intergalatic Explosive Space Modulator has been trained upon the Earth because it obstructs the view of Venus from Mars.
Another element that bears mention is Phosdex, more commonly known as the "shaving cream atom" and only found on Planet X.

Common hydrogen has one proton, one electron, and no neutrons. Deuterium and tritium have, respectively, one and two neutrons per atom, and are used for hydrogen bombs. Quadium, following logic, must have three neutrons, and is, in the story, capable of blasting an entire continent off the face of the Earth, at least according to The Mouse That Roared.

and lastly... Davidtron.

A question was posed in my high school Physics class when someone on the same desk as me postulated that all unobserved matter in the universe could be explained via Davidtron.
Davidtron is an unobservable chihuahua shaped particle that only exists when it is unseen. If you look at a wall for instance, everything on the other side of the wall must be made of Davidtron. Thus because I can't see you as you're reading this, you are therefore made of Davidtron by my observation. If a tree falls in the woods and there is no-one around to hear or see it, then it must be made of Davidtron.

July 19, 2005

Horse 373 - Bird Watching

No not like that. I know what you thought I meant and I only wish... but believe me, in Mosman it just isn't worth the effort.


This afternoon I sat in the park eating lunch and reading the paper when a big black magpie came down and hung around for about 5 minutes. Not content with the chips I had thrown out for it, it decided to go and get its mates. By that stage I'd finished with my chicken and chips so upon finding that there wasn't anything left, one of the little bastards decided that my the back of my head looked pretty delicious so it decided to have a chomp at that.

Not surprising I moved. A flock of Rainbow Lorikeets were having a domestic high up in the trees and I thought having just been through the reminder from the magpies (and with my head still bleeding) that I'd better keep my distance.

If you've not seen a Rainbow Lorikeet then you really are missing out. They hang around in massive groups rather like pigeons but unlike pigeons, they have a most impressive colour scheme. In fact it's so brilliant, it makes the Benetton catalogue look like EGA from the 80s.

Some galahs showed up for a bit. Now I've always thought that galahs apart from their odd coats of pink and grey rather look like businessmen standing around with their hands behind their back. Galahs have to be about the laziest of all the birds that you'll see in suburbia, even more so than seagulls who feast on rubbish squawking as they go, galahs merely walk about the place, picking at stuff as they go.

Speaking of seagulls, has anyone else noticed how extraordinarily interested they are in cricket? Invariably at least once a year you'll see a seagull get hit on the telly by a cricket ball on its merry way to the boundary.

The birds that really interest me are lyrebirds. So called because of the shape of their big tail plumes, they have an amazing ability to imitate anything that they hear. If you went to Taronga Zoo you may be inclined to call them the Pentax 35 bird, as that's the noise that they hear the most and the noise which by inference that they repeat.

Birds are great, especially considering you can eat some of them sometimes.

July 18, 2005

Horse 372 - ID Cards?

The Howard Government in all its wisdom has decided that one of the best methods of stopping terrorism is to issue everyone in the country with a national ID card.Such a system has been trialed before. Once upon a time in a highly civilised nation with nice uniforms, if one wasn't in posession of their national identity papers they were killed on the spot.
I fail to see just how having a national ID card would have stopped the events in London. An ID card does not prevent explosions nor does it prevent the people who have possibly gone insane from acquiring the necessary devices to cause such explosions.

As for the threat of multiple identities. In the first instance if one wants to get a card, then what sorts of identification are they going to ask us for? Namely the ID that we already possess, i.e Driver's Licences, Birth Certificates etc. If these are already fradulent, then does this by inference create a non-fraudulent car obtained by legitimate means?

The only possible method I can see to stop identity fraud is to microchip the population at birth rather the same way that we chip animals such as dogs or cattle. We could even take this step one further and link it to our bank accounts, that way people would not be able to buy of sell anything unless they had the microchip.

Scaremongery? Mark of the beast? Possibly, possibly not but it does ask one very very pert question... WHY? The only reason that governments want these measures is to control the population in some regard. If anyone can convince me that there are only noble intents in having a national ID card, the by inference you've proven why we don't need one.

Perhaps I should step back from the edge just a bit here, as this all seems a bit paranoid. Forgive me just one second. In this world where our everymove is tracked by CCTV and entries in bank statements, it all makes you wonder doesn't it?

July 15, 2005

Horse 371 - Terrorist Attack in London²

It seems as though within a week we may have found our suspects, and all come from Leeds. By studying CCTV pictures, police have identified 3 of the 4 bombers and are now piecing together the event of last thursday. All have been identified as being Muslims of Pakistani descent.

It's horrible to think that one particular faith are being persecuted by a group of fanatics that they cannot control. Several Muslim leaders are making sounds now about being more proactive. I think it's finally dawning on them that although the vast majority of Muslims deplore these activities, there has not been enough done internally to address the issues.

You can read all about the events through a variety of news sources, I'm getting mine from the Evening Standard and the Beeb at the moment but one thing strikes me as being slightly skewiff here. You'd think that if these people had been witting accessories to this sort of thing that they'd at least want to notify their loved ones or something. To date, no letters or videos have been found left to their families and friends at all, that's somewhat scary.

My speculation is that these suicide bombers were nothing of the sort. It doesn't follow that you would not leave a note, a video or whatever if you did not intend to return. You would also ensure that only those dearest to you knew that you had blown yourself up to avoid recrimination.

My guess is that they expected to arm the bombs and move off. Perhaps they were told to arm the bombs at a particulat time and they would then have 5 mins to get out of there. However, the bombs were primed to explode before this time or even instantly. Perhaps the person/s behind these attacks wanted some home grown Martyrs to suit his cause?

Just speculation.

iFive - 15th Jul

iFive saw quite a lot of play as my boss took his holiday for the middle of the year. Consequently the iPod was more-or-less on continuous play for a week.

As I said back in Horse 259 I thought that Franz Ferdinand was the best album for 2004; upon hearing it again I tend to agree with my original opinion. News has it quietly on the wire (and not even the record stores in Australia know this yet) that their next album due for release in October will be unnamed. This sounds like a kooky idea but then the second bit of info which goes with that is even more strange. Their next album will look identical in packaging to their first except that it will be blue and not black.
I'm usually right when it comes to these things, my sources are pretty good.

1. All For You, Sophia - Franz Ferdinand
2. 24 - Jem
3. Anfield Rap - Brize E
4. Adam's Song - Blink 182
5. Hit That - The Offspring

July 14, 2005

Horse 370 - Time Travel

I read in this week's New Scientist magazine that the equations under the general and special theories of relativity with regards time-travel have been solved (for going backwards at least).
Quantum theory, which describes small particles as both waves and matter, yields probabilities on the location of these particles, the particles appearing, in layman's terms, where the waves interfere with each other constructively.

Daniel Greenberger, of New York, and Karl Svozil, of Vienna, solved the equations for waves going backwards in time and found they always interfered destructively. This means the particles do not appear and the conundrum does not arise.

Now although the equations have been soved on paper the results are as yet not entirely useful, for while something may be theoretically possibly, actually being physically possible requires another step. The problem of going backwards implies that particles would have to not appear, does this mean that the particles which make up the individual in question would also not appear as well? Ie would some disappear by travelling backwards in time, and the corollary is if having gone backwards, do they gain particles which may not be their own on the way back?

I for one maintain the time-travel is impossible for one very simple reason. It is impossible to go slower than dead stop. Electrons and sub-atomic particles keep on spinning even at absolute zero, so to stop them and even "send them backwards" is just outside the realms of reality.

Then there is the Douglas Adams that in order for time-travel to be actually possible, in order to avoid the whole-sort-of-general-mish-mash that would arise, time-travel would have to be discovered simultaneously at all points in time in the history of the universe, and we should have by rights already have seen someone.

Unless someone can develop the necessary technology to escape that current space-time dimensions via a time travel device ala a TARDIS, then I doubt whether we'll ever hear (or already have heard of in the past, present, future tense) of a time traveller other than Dr. Who.

oh and BTW happy Bastille Day - start a revolution and chop the head off of French King

July 12, 2005

Horse 369 - Opera House to Stand Forever

purilent little maggot that it is

What a pity, I hear on the radio that the Sydney Opera House has been included on the National Heritage List. This now means that the building has protected status.

When the building was first commissioned in 1959, Joern Utzon's design was not only impossible to build but actually difficult to even imitate. Utzon had so many disagreements with the builders that he walked away from the project vowing never again to return to Australian soil.The plan was to have the stage suspended from the ceiling which although a nice idea, would have been structurally unsound.

Work was started in 1959 and estimated that it would cost £5m, but by the time that the building was opened by HM the Queen in 1973, $55m had been poured into it, a state lotteries commission had been set up to subsidise it, Sydney lost it's tram network to help pay for it, and if that wasn't enough, the damn building was unfit for the purpose intended.

It is phyisically impossible to hold an opera in either the Opera Hall or the Concert Hall because the stage and orchestra pit is too small. If you've been inside the building you will have also noticed plastic donuts suspended from the roof. This is because the acoustics are so poor that the singers and concert players on stage can't hear themselves without them.
There is the annoying problem that the building carries an incredible amount of residual echo being finished in off-form concrete. The Sydney Opera House has one of the most advanced stereo systems in the world, and this is just to let the audience hear everything at the same time and not a dissident wave of garbled echo.

So as you could well imagine, I flipped when I heard the news this morning. They've actually decided to heritage list this piece of overblown and overpriced crap? It looks foul and shouldn't have been built in the first place, but then again we can always rely on our state government to spend our money wisely can't we?

$10bn on a water desalination plant, when a $2bn dam would provide 9 times more the capacity at a fifth of the cost also seems like a good idea we should pursue immediately.

July 11, 2005

Horse 368 - Thingo

Whilst thumbing through the dictionary I found that most redundant word in there. The word I was looking at was cadigan which the OED defines as a replacement word for thingamajig.
I had a think for a second and then came to the opinion that cadigan must be a self-defining word. Specifically the word acts as little more than a placeholder rather the place value of a zero in a cardinal number.

Typically placeholders occupy a syntactic space between nouns and pronouns. They typically function grammatically as nouns; their referents, however, must be supplied by context, like pronouns. They serve as placeholders for names of objects that are otherwise unknown or unspecified.

This sounds like an utterly stupid concept doesn't it? But we have so many of these things:

dingus, doodad, doohickey, doover, gadget, geebie, gizmo, thingamabob, thingamajig, thingummy, thingy, whatchamacallit, whatsitsname, widgets, you get the idea...

Then I thought that there must be more cadigans in everyday life. Lo and behold, there are four very common ones. Crap, stuff, junk, and shit are perhaps the most utilitarian cadigans in the English language, and to make matters worse, they're even mass nouns to boot as well.

July 10, 2005

Horse 367 - Terrorist Attacks in London­¹

Good Morning all,I would have replied earlier except that I've had a terrible case of the flu.
I shan't engage into theories as to why this happened, but I do have a theory into the modus operandii of this event.

The four explosions happened as follows:
Between Aldgate and Liverpool Street tube stations - Circle Line
Between King's Cross and Russell Square tube stations - Nothern Line
At Edgware Road tube station Circle Line
On a bus at Tavistock Square - Via King's Cros Bus Terminal

This in itself doesn't lend itself easily to an explanation as all of these trains and the bus were heading in four entirely different directions. Except when you consider their starting point. All of the trains left King's Cross at c.8:42am and the bus passed through the bus station at King's Cross.

The three bombs on the Underground trains on Thursday exploded almost simultaneously. Scotland Yard said the attacks took place within 50 seconds of each other.

It is my theory that the people who did this could have easily run around the station leaving the bombs on whatever train happened to be leaving at the time. If they then left something on the bus a short while later, it would have given them ample time to get a north bound mainline train out of St Pancras to the Midlands where they then could have flown out of the UK entirely.

I suggest that the reason why MI5 or MI6 didn't pick this up is becuase it was planned outside of the UK and in all likelyhood thye won't catch whoever did it because they're now long gone.

July 04, 2005

Horse 366 - 4th July - That Tea Party

Following the Seven Years War (1756-1763) with France, England went through a series of financial crisis and as a result of which, it was obliged to impose taxes on many products. Among them in particular were goods destined for the colonies, including wine, sugar, molasses, and tea.

The Stamp Act of 1765, and a little later the Townshend Act of 1769 enunciated these taxes, setting off a huge wave of protest. The colonists in America distributed tracts and organized a boycott campaign and nany newspapers published a declaration renouncing tea. This push by local media effectively replaced tea with infusions of local herbs or berries, with coffee, or with contraband tea imported mostly by Dutch merchants.

Merchants in the colonies refused to buy from the East India Company and even though the Tea Act of 1773 reduced taxes, the agitation continued. The East India Company decided to export cargoes of tea to America, intended for sale directly to the colonists, without going through the merchants.

In December, three of the company's ships, the Dartmouth, Eleonor, and the Beaver reached port in Boston. During the night of December 16, a group of 150 patriots led by the merchant John Brown, took the boats by force and threw their cargo into the sea. In return, London forbade all commerce with Boston. The other American cities joined in a united front, burning or throwing into the sea other English cargoes of tea. The stakes grew as skirmishes escalated into battles, and the United States ended up winning their independence in 1776.

It goes without saying that tea is not responsible for the independence of the United States. Nevertheless, tea was seen as a symbol of the intolerable relationship between colonies and the mother country. After independence, many Americans remained faithful to coffee, and the consumption of tea would never again reach the levels attained in the preceding era. To this day it is virtually impossible to find an American who knows how to brew a decent cup of tea without chucking it into the harbour.

July 03, 2005

Horse 365 - The Ruff

A group of us were in a public house at about 3am this morning in for a bit of the craic and watching the Championships as Miss Williams fought back to win 4-6 7-6 9-7 and as England recovered from the deepest hole one could dig one's self into as they came back to tie the ODI final at Thomas Lord's bit of dirt.

Invariably the conversation at some point will come around to the mystery that is the gammet of the relational gap between chaps and ladies when a rather interesting point was put forward.

It seems as though that the last 400 years has entirely changed not only the methods used by either sex to go courting but the dress which they use. In Shakespearian England a dander young suitor would often parade in the finery of a ruff. 'Twas at this point that we decided that something was very amiss with society today.

Women know very well that to attract a paramour that blokes are highly visual in their stimulus inputs but for some strange reason, blokes over time have become more standardised and less visually exciting to the ladies. A peacock for instance will be dressed in finery according to their plumage, but to quote the lovely Samantha from last night "Most guys just look the same. Real serious in black suits and stuff"

When you think about it, even in the workplace the pressure for a lady to have a different set of outfits and to accessorise them on a daily basis is probably quite taxing but for chaps, one could in theory get away with one black suit, a white shirt and a few ties.

And that's really when it boils down what the only difference is in a lot of cases. It's funny how what was once used to blow once nose into became a marker of difference... to which we said BRING BACK THE RUFF!

July 01, 2005

iFive - 1st Jul

With Geri Halliwell's album Passion not slated for release until Jul 6, I bought a little Hip-Hop disc by Jemma Griffiths or Jem. They is a trippy little number that sounds like hip-hop meets 1957. I guess Jem sounds a bit like Dido but that wouldn't do her justice, more like anti-Coldplay.

Apparantly most of her album Finally Woken appears as part of the soundtrack to The OC, but I wouldn't have a clue. I doubt whether it would make the Billboard Top 100, it's just too subtle.
The film clip for this is one of those bounce-your-eyes type clips. Apparantly they actually went up in a 707 to create the weightlessness effect. Some useful camera angles help as well.

1. Jem - They
2. Part of the Queue - Oasis
3. Track 3 - John Safran
4. Always Coca-Cola - Advert
5. Wake Me Up When September Ends - Green Day