September 30, 2005
Do you see a connection here? I'm afraid that I couldn't no matter how hard I tried. No really, maybe the shuffle function is truly random.
Eye Level was the theme to the 70's detective show Van der Valk. Van der Valk didn't always catch the criminal he was after, in some cases he didn't even get close.
1. This Is England - The Clash
2. Na Na, Hey Hey Hey, Goodbye - Gary Glitter
3. Eye Level - Simon Park Orchestra
4. The System Is Down - Strong Bad
5. Duet for Violin and Garbage Disposal - Spike Jones
September 29, 2005
I live on Lavinia St. The surrounding streets are Isabelle, Suzanna, Athabaska, Cornelia... notice a trend here? When the block was released back in 1953, it had formed part of the Spanish Estates. Thus all the connection with Spanish queens.
Not too far away are Limpopo, Zambesi, Mississippi, Orinoco, Amazon etc. This block was the Grand Rivers housing commission estate. Likewise there are common themes like this all over Sydney and dare I say possibly the world.
Except for Japan.
With the exception of major roads, Japanese streets are not named. Instead, cities and towns are subdivided into areas, subareas and blocks, similar to the insulae system of the Roman empire. To complicate the matter, houses within each subarea were formerly not numbered in geographical sequence but in the temporal order in which they were constructed.
If addresses are written in Japanese, they start with the postal code, followed by the prefecture, city and subarea(s), and end with the recipient's name. If addresses are written in English, they start with the recipient's name and end with the prefecture and postal code. A typical Japanese address looks as follows:
Mr Hiro Katsushima
8-19-3 Ginza, Chou-Ku
Mr Hiro Katsushima (if you do happen to live here whoever you are, then that's plain bizarre)
Section 8, Block 19, Building 3
Tokyo (the Ward or Prefecture), Postcode (all postcodes are seven digits long)
Most Japanese people will give you a map to tell you where they live with handy little pictures and things to look out for. This system was in place well before the US Army occupied Japan after WW2 and was voted to remain in place to confuse them.
U2 had a song called Where the Streets Have No Name. I bet Bono wasn't thinking of Japan when he wrote that.
September 27, 2005
Now expand this idea of snotty little children by a factor of millions. Instead of children, we'd have countries fighting each other, using any excuse they can as to why they're right, be it religion or otherwise.
Since 1916 the two parts of Ireland have been petulant snot-noses intent on harming the other with the prize being little more than "Ha ha, I was right, Nyah Nyah". This week the IRA officially announced that as an organisation its weapons were "beyond use". The weapons of idiotic destruction have officially been decomissioned. The North still retains its weapons as a part of the UK, but we don't know under what capacity.
Only the Irish who've gained a reputation as being stupid could keep a war simmering for 90 years. Ancient grudges without purpose except as revenge for killing our brothers because we killed yours because you killed ours etc etc etc ad nauseum ignotium per ignotius have been kept on the boil and for what?
The border hasn't moved since it was laid down except when it's been blown apart to a new location. So what is the damn point? I don't care what the reasons are anymore, everyone should have put up, shut up, gone home and eaten dinner a long time ago. Ireland - you've been behaving like children for 90 years. Grow up!
September 24, 2005
Studio Ghibli has again outdone themselves. Somehow they've convinced the great Hayao Miyazaki to come out retirement, but then they've managed to get him to write the screenplay and do the direction for Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones.
The book which is about 20 years old follows the story of young Sophie Hatter, a bookworm, the eldest of three daughters, a girl doomed to an uninteresting life as a hat maker. Sophie resigns herself to her boring fate, but fate has other plans for her. Cursed by the Witch of the Waste with the body of a 90-year-old woman, she finds her way to the moving castle inhabited by the wizard Howl, said by all to eat the souls of young girls. Howl has been cursed by the Witch as well, and is seeking the love of young girl to help him break the curse.
Perhaps it's under the influence of Disney that a Japanese production house should make a film adaptation of a story from the west, but there is no way that this is anything other than Miyazaki's work. Every backgorund is lush, and little elements like snow falling had been added.
The story itself is really quite endearing and because it's only PG you could take your kiddies to it. Be warned however, small children will find it a little scary and I even found that I had to hold back the odd tear (mind you being in the dark cinema nobody else knew).
This is everything an animated film should be. There are English dubs out there and to be honest I saw it in the Japanese with subtitles, but the English cast is really quite excellent so I suppose it's a matter of how patient you are to read. Go see it, aw go on. Cartoons aint just for kids... unless you too are 90 years old and under a curse.
September 23, 2005
Regular pundits will know something of my fascination with the Beautiful Game, and this extends into the music and the crowds as well. The power of a football crowd in full song is something to behold, especially if England has just won and they're belting out "Jerusalem".
Deutschland 2006 die zweite invasion beginnt! Deutschland 1 England 5
1. Jerusalem - Fat Les (Purcell)
2. I'm Happy Just To Dance With You - The Beatles
3. Vindaloo - Fat Les (Blake)
4. The Wombles of Wimbledon - The Wombles
5. I - Shirley Bassey
September 22, 2005
I don't have a problem persay with the outsourcing of jobs for simple tasks such as changing details in a database but I do happen to find some aspects of the whole concept of an offshore call centre daunting. What happens for instance if I have a technical fault that requires a trained technician to fix the problem? Only just the other day I had to ask Telstra to cancel a phone line, I spoke with someone who had nary a clue how to go about doing it nor it would seem what I was talking about.
Often you can play a bit mean and trick these people out. Usually they are briefed on points of small talk, and are told that to improve customer service it may be helpful to engage in small talk on matters such as the weather or national politics. If in a lot of cases the call centre happens to be in the sub-continent, I like to talk about the Indian domestic cricket competition - let's see how they like their own tactics.
One of my friends lives in Centennial Park but probably as a result of a call centre encounter, all mail addressed from ANZ arrives addressed to St Daniel Park. You can just imagine a postie in the sorting office thinking "Where the heck is that?" and then asking a co-worker in a typical Aussie whine "Where's Senndenneal Paark mate?" "Near the criggit ground?" "Thanks mate"
To reverse the process, can you imagine an Indian ringing up a call centre in Australia. "I have a problem with my credit card, can you help me?" The response of "Yeah, it's stuffed. You're about as broke as a dead dingos doorknob. You aint paid the last bill, have you got roos loose in the top paddock?"
Caaarn the call centres, lift your game. Give us an RHG and take a GHLAY.
September 21, 2005
Because maybe, you're going to be the one that saves me.
And after all, you're my Barry Hall.
Sydney Swans captain Barry Hall has been cleared to play in Saturday's AFL Grand Final after the tribunal agreed to downgrade a striking charge against him. The verdict provides an enormous boost to the Swans' premiership hopes, given he has been the club's best player and leading goal-kicker this season.
Hall pleaded guilty to striking St Kilda's Matt Maguire in last Friday night's preliminary final, but successfully argued the incident took place "in play" rather than "behind play". What this means in real terms, who knows? But it only took 3 minutes of deliberation to decide the case. He was either going to play the final or not depending on the verdict.
Hall's defence team used TV evidence supplied by the AFL to clubs to explain the definition of behind play. They successfully argued that the incident clearly fell within the definition provided by the AFL in its own video, so naturally the AFL tribunal caved in, not wanting to look daft.
Being a Hawks fan I care not much about the decision, but if this bring out the supporters in Sydney then hope the dire shadow of Rugby League can be eliminated finally. In the words of the great Sam Kekovich (half back for North Melbourne in the late 70's & 80's; and Triple M commentator) "My team isn't in the finals, so everyone else can get stuffed."
I would like to personally thank the people at Carlton and Collingwood football clubs for finishing worse than the Hawks and a big up goes to former Premier of Victoria Jeff Kennett, who finally took control of something more important that a fish & chip shop and the state of Victoria (though the two are indistinguishable).
They say footy's a funny old game,
Why isn't Eddie Maguire laughing?
Wake me up, when September ends.
September 20, 2005
Mel C is in Australia at the moment promoting her new album Beautiful Intentions. Now before I say anything further, anyone who's known me for any length of time happens to know that I rather liked the Spice Girls albums. They came out just as I was leaving high school, and for a period of possibly 14 months they and a whole swathe of Britpop and Punk(?) formed the soundtrack to the whole gammet of my friends and I falling in and out of love, having the freedom and the cars to be able to go anywhere, and 6 weeks before uni began without reponsibilty (or the ability to plan anything until results came out) or care.
The question that arose last night (after that deviation) happened while we were watching Rove. This was: Can you imagine a place where everybody talks like her? Wouldn't that be weird?
Well, such a place does exist and it's one that I hold quite dear, the city of Liverpool.
Nestled at the bottom of a hill and at the ends of the M56 and M53, and hugged by the rather swampy River Mersey, Liverpool shouldn't have much going for it at all. Of course being a port and at one stage the world's biggest, it's a real melting pot where you'd expect to find all sorts of culture (in fact it's the European Capital of Culture for 2008) but it's surprising just how homogenous the place is.
Apart from the obvious things like football which is down lines of colour of red and blue, or the incredible musical vein the city has (Gerry & The Pacemakers, Girls Aloud, Atomic Kitten, The Beatles, The La's, The Lightning Seeds, Frankie Goes to Hollywood) the thing you can't escape is the accent which disappears less than 40 miles away.
Scouse is an incredibly robust accent which is odd considering it's so close in locality to Yorkie, Welsh and the Mancunian Whine. It sounds dead common as well, so the city although it does have lines of class, they all sound dirt poor.
Kim Catrell, Craig Charles, Alexei Sayle, Jimmy Tarbuck, Kenny Everett, Cilla Black, Tom Baker even, they're all Scousers. If you've heard any of them speak sans character you'll hear the same almost grating tone that comes across.
Oi, do you want to buy a new motor?
In case you we're wondering, yes that is from inside a Ka. Even overseas they're still brilliant.
September 19, 2005
To understand why this day exists you'll need to take a trip back in time to the mid 80's and a Radio 4 program called The Million Pound Radio Show. Andy Hamilton and Nick Revell who were the main writers on this show kept up the same frenetic pace as had been achieved on television with Not The Nine O'Clock News. The show mainly covered similar sorts of topics and became famous in a set of bizarre circumstances.
British Airways in the early 1990's had procured thousands of episodes of Radio 4 comedies for use on its long-haul flights. Almost ironically, the Million Pound Radio Show had more listeners in this captured market than it did on the originaly playing on Radio 4.
Thanks to an unassuming and fairly typical sketch about a band of mutinous pirates who demand a Training Day to be set for September 19 (pressing their captain for the chance to "compare work methods and prioritise objectives, damn your eyes!") A number of people who heard this in the air, apparently telephoned the BBC to say this was the funniest thing they’d heard for years, and the sketch was repeated on a compilation CD highlighting the best moments of 1980’s programming.
Incedentally the Million Pound Radio Show is still played on BBC7 which has become a home for classic comedy, and not surprisingly today's episode contains the sketch which thousands alude to but very few actually know.
September 17, 2005
Epping station at 10:30pm on a Friday night is surprisingly dull and quiet; more importantly all the shops around were closed. I hadn't actually managed so much as a single cup of tea since about 5:30pm so as you could imagine I was well and truly parched. Added to this was the rain (yay!) and a mild gale was blowing - the player comfort level was low to freezing.
Jumped in my little Ka and about 10 seconds later, all the windows fogged up and I had to run the air-con, the heaters and the rear de-mister. The Shell service station I pulled into had no pies for sale, the McD's was closed and all of the Coke had also run out. I thought short and not very hard and bought a can of 7up.
There is a distinct reason of why it's called Lemonade. The Ade part I reckon has to refer to it being so helpful in restoring one's sunny disposition and general feeling of contentment. Bob Geldof should hold a Lemon-Aid concert for all of the thirsty kiddies of the world. Cars should be equipped with a Lemon-Aid kit in case of refreshment emergency (you need Lemon-Aid more than First-Aid).
And beyond all of that, 7up even has a picture of Fido Dido back on the cans. How brilliant is that?
September 16, 2005
99 Luftballoons differs greatly from the English version 99 Red Balloons. The version although sung by Nene (name after the Rolls-Royce jet engine, not the lead singer) had been toned down for the English speaking world. Gone are the references to War Ministers, Gas Canisters and Jet Fighters.
Actually this song dates itself rather subtly. As this was written from within West Berlin, the sightof both US and Russian jets overhead was a very real and present danger. Both sides has nuclear weapons and spent 50 years being stand-offish.
1. 99 Luftballoons - Nene
2. 99 Red Balloons - Nene
3. 99 Red Balloons - Ben Folds
4. 99 Red Balloons - The Presidents of the USA
5. 99 Red Balloons - Goldfinger.
September 15, 2005
Barnaby Joyce, a name that will forever be etched on the minds of Australians as the man who sold Telstra. The other faceless and heartless drones of the Senate who voted in favour of the sale of the telco will never have the same fame as this one man who given the opportunity failed the people of his state of Queensland but more importantly failed the nation.
What did the man himself have to say about this? This was his repsponse to the ABC this morning:
"I feel about 65 per cent happy. You know you do the very best deal you can knowing the alternative to that is you get nothing. The real judgement will be in 18 months time. You've always got, you know, a feeling in the back of your head there could be problems in the future. On the balance of the information I've got and what I've got to lose, I think we're making the right decision and that's about it."
65% happy? Only 65% happy? I'm sorry sir but you've just STOLEN the nations phone system from under them and you're only 65% happy. I'm glad you're somewhat happy because I can tell you that the approval rating for this as given by the Morgan-Gallop poll published in today's Sydney Morning Herald was only 4%. 4% of voters are happy with this, far less than you're 65% happiness.
Stephen Conroy a Labor senator probably summed it up the best this morning with this comment:
"We will see rising prices, we will see falling levels of service. That's the reality of today's bill, that's the reality that many hundreds of thousand of Australians will now face."
This is the reality which 96% of unhappy Australians will be forced to live with. Foreign interest will now own the telco and no input will be allowed by the government - it's abrogation of responsibility at it's most insidious and corrupt. It's so nice to know that in a so called "democracy" that 96% of people disagree with something yet it comes down to 37 people to decide the fate for 21 million. Democracy my butt!
The Govenor-General is the last person in this ordeal, it is he who formally enacts a bill into law once it's been passed by giving it Royal Assent as the Queen's representative. Only problem is that NO bill that has ever been passed by the Senate has ever been turned down in Australia and the last time that Royal Assent wasn't given was back in 1808 by Queen Anne.
People of Australia, last night your government told you to get stuffed; just to make it worse they stole from you as well.
September 13, 2005
Sep 2000 - I was mainly operating the switchboard for AdNet. This was a horrible place to work with a boss who didn't want to pay for anything at all. There were barbeques in the backyard of a mate's house and that summer there were football matches and things on every weekend.
10 Years Ago:
Sep 1995 - Oasis had just released What's The Story (Morning Glory)? I was still in high school and Ms Markovski's Maths class. I'd spent most of the year adoring a red-haired girl called Kate from afar only to see her walk off into the sunset with my best friend.
Lunchtimes were spent playing football on the bottom oval or in the library playing games of Big Two. Handball games were some of the most important things in the week and we were all bored in English classes as our teacher who looked like a witch, talked on about corruption as a theme in Shakespeare.
15 Years Ago:
Sep 1990 - Was the selective high school test that important? Riding down the newly opened cycleway by the creek and trying to take kid's ties from the private school down the road. If you had a bike you had total freedom to go anywhere and if you didn't you had to cadge one from a mate.
I'd had the same desk for 3 years and when we moved rooms I found an apple that had been well beyond brown and black and moved into the realms of grey. I pity the poor kid who moved into that seat and got the desk with all its appley glory.
20 Years Ago:
Sep 1985 - School classes were held in a demountable classroom without air-conditioning. I spent most of the year sitting next to Jacqueline French who was a lot taller than me. Pencils with big finger grips to teach you how hold a pencil. Handwriting classes and Reading Rigby books with stories that were all too short.
Hiding under the fort in the playground and forming our own Spy Club which meant spying on the other two spy clubs and trying to take their tree and the concrete pipes.
At home we had a pink couch and cartoons were still on Saturday morning.
25 Years Ago:
Sep 1980 - My sister was still two years into the future so I was all alone in my own world. We had a silver Torana which I'm pretty sure was a two door car. I think I barely remember the Olympics in Moscow and of course our white house with the lino coming up in the kitchen.
September 12, 2005
As petrol prices continue to rise, motorists find the squeeze in their hip pockets to be tighter as their cars consume more money. Pressure is on the government to lower taxes and the petrol companies blame increased demand from China as the main cause of price hikes.
The above picture was retrieved from ASIO offices by stealth reporters from Horse. Clearly we can see that crude oil is both plentiful and abundant. Worse, it is obvious that it's having a strange side effect on the environment and wildlife.
In this surveillance shot, you'll notice both a Common European Fox (Canis Vulpes) that has mutated and grown a second tail. What is curious is that it appears to have adapted to its surrounds and predicament by learning how to shape the tails and use them like helicopter blades.
Also note what appears to be a giant cat. It is in fact a European Hedgehog (Erinaceus europeaus) that somehow has turned a peculiar shade of blue.
Whereever this oil is coming from, we do know that if left unchecked we could see and environmental disaster on the same scale as the Exxon Valdeez. This would be a tragedy and a waste.
September 09, 2005
Number one this week was a B-Side to Lyla, and to be honest it sounds crudely simple until you realise that the four guitar parts aren't in time with each other and they're not even playing the same thing. The major chords overlap and this leaves you with a layered effect with stuff coming and going. Who said Britrock was dead?
1. Won't Let You Down - Oasis
2. Hippy - Atomic Kitten
3. Uncontinuable Announcement - Cityrail
4. I - Shirley Bassey
5. What's New Pussycat - Tom Jones
September 07, 2005
These five people have been fixing oil prices using any lame excuse they can get their mits on. In effect they have been stealing from the good and common people of the world and it's now at the point that I wish nastiness on them.
The House of Saud.
Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud
Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
The House of Bush.
George Herbet Walker Bush (41)
George Walker Bush (43)
The House of Orange.
Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard
Contained within the ownership of these 5 people is control of Amarol, Shell, & Texaco, Caltex & Q8. These people are stealing from you at the petrol pump. Remember that peeps.
To put this into perspective, Telstra had received 14.3 million fault calls in 2004. More than 14 per cent of all telephone lines have known faults. With the need to replace obsolete or non-vendor-supported equipment, the ageing of the workforce, lack of training for new workers (Have they trained you Prawn??) and IT systems not capable of handling the volumes this can only get worse under private management.
In official reports released, the company says $2bn - $3bn in additional investment in operating and capital expenditure should have been spent over the past 3-5 years. Telstra shares have collapsed since Mr Trujillo joined the company in July, driven lower by the escalating battle with the Government and a string of negative comments that culminated in Monday's warning of a 7 to 10 per cent fall in full-year profits.
What did the Goverment have to say about this? "I think it is the obligation of senior executives of Telstra to talk up the company's interest, not to talk them down." PM John Howard told Parliament. Well I'm sorry Mr Howard but people have a right to know the truth. Three kinds of people precisely:
1. Taxpayers who will now have their telco stolen from them without consent.
2. Customers who have to deal with increasing dis-and-mis service of maladroit phone lines.
3. Prospective shareholders who are to be sold a pup.
As an economist you should have seen this, it's because you are a farty trumped-up little smeghead who's more concerned with worshipping the great god Dollar than using common-sense that you haven't got.
More to follow in this series.
September 05, 2005
On the motorway you'll find these big red signs on the off ramps which read Wrong Way - Go Back. I would have thought that that would have been glaringly obvious considering that you'd be driving head on into traffic that's coming at you at 60mph.
On the inside of those little traffic refuges there's the sign that reads Turn Left At Any Time With Care. Why? Would people react differently it it read Turn Left At Any Time With Reckless Abandon? I get visions of people driving through with the tail flicking out and laying screechies on the pavement.
Pearl Jam named one of their albums Yield after the street sign in America that bears this word. I think in Australia we have it better with Give Way. I know that the road is a battlefield, but Yield makes it sound like the motorist is conceeding defeat whereas Give Way implies that one should literally Give Way to those already in the intersection.
Then there are those slow speed limit signs. Up at Green Point there's one of these on the grounds of Green Point Baptist that reads Caution 8 Children. Should one be cautious of these villanous 8 children? What did they do?
Then I wonder about those signs that read Keep Left. The general rule of the road is to drive on the left anyway, why would one instantly decide to break this?
The best sign bar none par excellence is the signs erected by Wyong City Council telling people to avoid throwing their rubbish out the windows. These have to rank up there as the most ambiguous signs in existance, they merely read... Slobwatch.
September 01, 2005
Betty Bambalam was the mother of a single child who was born blind. This led to the child being socially maladjusted and consequently resulted in Betty's mental breakdown. This factor was obviously counteracted by other things though.
We do know from the evidence that Betty Bambalam lived in the city of Birmingham, Alabama. Not to be confused with Birmingham in the Midlands of England which would have made her a Brummie.
It is not know exactly how Betty was employed, however we do have several clues. The phrase "she get's me high" is from the author's personal experience, so this tends to make one wonder if she was either a crane operator or an elevator operator.
There are two points of conjecture in Ram Jam's account. Black Betty is both described as being rock steady which may either refer to her skill in operating equipment or her general mental state as discussed earlier.
One of the most ambiguous portion of Ram Jam's diatribe is the unspecified fact that Black Betty made him sing. Again whether this is a direct order or a response is a matter of dispute.
There is also the issue of "shaking that thing". What "that thing" actually is, is totally unknown. It could be uncouth and suggestive of Betty's anatomy or perhaps of the machinery she happened to be operating.
Ram Jam's account leaves much to be desired, but sadly it is one of the few documents that we have on the life of Black Betty Bambalam.