October 31, 2005

Horse 428 - Global Warming II

In Horse 383 I had rather a tongue in cheek jib about global warming, it turns out that there are some really bizarre side effects.

1. Britain and France actually get colder because of Global Warming.
Yes, this is true. I'm not lying at all and there's statistical proof now as well. To explain this you'll need to know about one of the basic laws of physics.

Where you have a potential difference in energy, energy will flow from the state of high potential to the positional state of low potential. You can see this by the operation of a battery, eventually the two sides of the battery will possess the same potential and whilst the battery isn't "used up", energy can't flow any more and is useless. Likewise heat will flow from a hot place into a less hot place (what is inaccurately called cold), thus when you open a fridge, you're not actually letting out the cold but letting in the heat.

As the planet heats up, the difference between the poles and the equator is actually becoming less and therefore the amount of energy flow from the equator should slow down. Now then, the biggest energy transfer system in the world is a sea current that runs from the Carribean across the Alantic called the Gulf Stream. This moves at between 2-4 knots typically and dumps warm water in the North Sea near Britain and France.

Think about it, if that flow slows down (which it is doing), then the heat transfer from the equator is becoming less. Unfortunately, the overall daytime temperatures in both France and Britain are experiencing less of a boost from the transfer of heat, so average daylight temperatures are actually falling slowly as a direct result of Global Warming. Daft eh?

2. People are profiting from Global Warming.
If you take a glass of and fill it with ice cubes, then fill it to the brim with whiskey (whiskey has a freezing point of -5°C so is perfect for this experiment) and then go outside to the shops or maybe K-Mart or whatever it is that you do and forget that you've left the experiment, the ice melts.
When you come back you'll see that the amount of volume displaced by the ice is actually more than the liquid water formed and the levels in the glass (even after accounting for evaporation) actually fall.

There are people alive right now who will for the first time in recorded human history actually see a summer when the Arctic ice caps will melt entirely. This is of course extremely useful.
As the polar ice caps melt, they free up transport routes across the North Pole. It becomes possible to move ships from places like Norway and Canada right across the top of the world. A shipping route from Amsterdam to Tokyo which currently goes via the Mediterranean and the Suez canal et al. would simply scoot across the top; reducing travel times from 27 to just 8 days.

In fact Pat Broe who owns a bunch of US railways, bought the previously semi-frozen sub-Arctic Canadian port of Churchill, Manitoba, in 1997, for just $7US. 7 bucks bought this guy something that's potenially worth millions and millions.Currently there's a land rush going on for ports in Russia as well as Scandanavia to cash in on the potential of transport opportunities.

... and people thought Noah was stark raving bonkers for building a great big boat in the middle of nowhere. I'd say he was an estute businessman.

Horse 427 - The Little Words

One of the distinct character traits I have apart from an immense competitive streak comes a certain degree of perfectionism. When I do my job at work, I like everything to be done as quickly and accurately as possible; when I'm working with manual tasks, I like edges to be straight and true and finishes to be as exact as possible; finally if I do an exam, a pass grade is never enough, 98% correct in my opinion is still 2% wrong.

Imagine therefore what happens to me in those areas where there aren't any exact standards, when simply doing my best either isn't good enough or in some cases where my best is over and above what is required. I often am driven to re-think things again and again.
A consequence of this is me thinking things out to the very very end; to be honest some outcomes for things scare me immensly, and I will admit to not attempting some things for fear that one day they may end or worse break.

Tonight I drove someone home from a football match and was thanked but told that I had a "kind heart". This floored me. I do not accept praise for anything easily, criticism I find very easy to deal with because this gives me something I can work on or with, but tonights statement left me with no path out except to say thankyou.

I felt utterly helpless to be appreciated, it's such a strange occurance that quite frankly I don't know what to do about it. It's one of the biggest fears that I have actually, that someone notices that I've done something for them. Grant that I do quite a bit for other people, but when they start thanking me for it, what the heck am I supposed to do then??

The big hard nasty words require action but it's the little kind words I find the most difficult to deal with.

October 28, 2005

Horse 426 - Wisdom of the Council

I read with much hillarity in the great bastian of truth and nobility the Illawarra Mercury that Caboolture Shire Council has ordered that one man should make certain alterations to a fence that he has erected.

The fence at nearly 30 miles long had been put up to stop feral cats and foxes from getting into the National Park; this seems resonable enough. Caboolture Shire Council handed down the decision, that this chap should cut holes in the fence at regular intervals to allow the passage of kangaroos.
Forgive my application of logic here, but I think you'll find that kangaroos are in fact a great deal bigger than a feral moggy. If you cut holes in the fence to let kangaroos in, a cat isn't going to stop and think "I shouldn't go in there, that's a kangaroo hole; not a cat hole" are they?

Elsewhere, Mosman Municipal Council has put up a fence around a children's playground to stop big dogs from coming and harrassing young kiddies. Sounds good in theory, except that the fence only goes around two sides of a four sided playground. Again, are they thinking that dogs won't venture around the ends of the fence because it's against council regulations?

I often wonder the logic of Holroyd Municipal Council who proudly declare themseleves as a Nuclear-Free Zone. Does this mean to say that the nearby councils mysteriously have nuclear reactors in them? Perhaps Holroyd is proud that they have disarmed themselves of their nuclear arsenal. Seriously I think that the only Inspectors that you're likely to see in Holroyd are of the parking variety.

Then there are countless councils all over Sydney who think that local streets are best served by turning them into motocross arenas by erecting speedhumps, chicanes and roundabouts all over the place in the name of traffic calming. Parramatta City Council made potentially a fatal error by placing a whole swag of these around the immediate environs of Westmead Hospital, thus increasing ambulance travel and response times and giving sick people a very very bumpy ride.

But the prize for an utterly stupid civil ordinance sign has to go to Sydney City Council who have erected a "No Swimming" sign on a fountain in Martin Place. This fountain is different than most because it's basically a series of jet nozzles in the pavement that every 15 minutes spray a wall of mist into the air.
How does one a) go swimming in the pavement or b) go swimming in the mist hanging in the air? The sign has obviously been placed to comply with a directive that all fountains should bear adequate warning signs, but really the worst I've ever seen from this is someone sneezing because they got a wee bit cold.

What's next? Warnings on coffee because it's too hot... hang on... hmm.

iFive - 28th Oct

When X&Y came out everyone was blown away by the hype that went with it but then as you get into the album it gradually looks like this is not the classic that it was painted as.
Franz Ferdinand's second delivery is no different than their first, almost literally. It's basically seamless between the two albums. The thing is that where in most cases this would be a bad thing, with Franz Ferdinand, they're still thumping out a dozen decent tracks. Scotland never sounded better. This is destined to be part of the soundtrack of 2006 I'm sure of it.

1. Loves Me Not - Tatu
2. Falling - Franz Ferdinand
3. Carry On - Taxiride
4. Om - Smeg and the Heads
5. The Typewriter - Leroy Anderson

Horse 425 - Lies, Half-Truths, Truths and Untruths

In BJD's Divulge which goes up every Friday, we are given the opportunity to answer 5 questions. One of this week's question was particularly interesting.

Is it right or wrong to tell lies to make people feel better?
to which I answered:
It's not helpful to tell lies, even if the truth hurts.

This led me thinking this morning about that most grevious of questions, namely "Does my bum look big in this?"

Two principles I consider core:
1. The old "Do not bear false witness against your neighbour" line. Any distortion of the truth (direct lie or omission) which is designed to paint an misleading perception of another is out. Some people tell a lot of lies by only telling part of the story.

2. Does omitting part of the truth give me an unfair advantage over the other person? There are times I may wish to ommit detail from a response either to protect my privacy or to avoid unnecessary hurt to another (maybe to save my skin). Questions like "What are you thinking?" or "Does my bum look big in this?" are ones which often require a less than full and honest answer.

Consider another question from this set:
"Is it right or wrong to do 10% over the speed limit?"
I might choose not to seek out the police to report myself if I notice that I have exceeded the speed limit but will answer honestly if stopped and asked.

This sounds kind of messy. It is not a defence of dishonesty, it is an attempt to have a framework for honesty which allows for privacy and avoids unnecessary hurt without allowing any space for dishonesty for the sake of personal advantage.

"Does my bum look big in this?"
Life would all be easier if people did not ask some of those questions.

October 26, 2005

Horse 424 - She Needs A Name

No seriously.

I have no idea at this stage, but at some point in the future once I get over the scaling issues, get some photography done, maybe even do some decent inking etc etc etc - somewhere on the WWW will be my very own webcomic.

Like so many before it, it may or may not be doomed to failure. I only hope that the 90 odd pages of story I written and the strength of elements like character should be able to eliminate all the various problems with lack of drawing talent.

I don't see drawing as a means to itself, rather the vehicle by which I can tell a story. Oh don't worry, if you see little pieces of yourselves melded into the lives of my characters who dance the presidium arch then don't feel bad. It's art imitating life... well not quite.

I'm just feeling grandiose

October 25, 2005

Horse 423 - King of Scotland

There is to be a film released next year about the life of the barberous, eccentric dictator Idi Amin. While in the west he was portrayed as a buffoon, this is a grave mistreatment of a man who inflicted a terrible horror on his people, this is not about him.

This post however is about titles.

The full title that Idi Amin gave himself was:
His Excellency President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin, VC, DSO, King of Scotland, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea, and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular.

Most of this is an out an out lie, but it's no worse than say Saladin, the Arabic leader who was financed inadvertantly by Richard III to sack Jerusalem:
Saladin, Emperor of the Universe, Sultan of All Time, Shah of All Generations.

English and French kings were sometimes given titles reflecting their character or some aspect about them:
Richard the Lionheart, Edward the Confessor, William the Conqueror
I somehow don't think the following would have been impressed though:
Charles the Fat, Louis the Stupid, Edwin the Bald

Still other titles are official like Dr or Sir which are either conferred by an educational institution or by the monarch for distinguished acts. Terry Wogan KBE can not for instance use his "Sir" because he is not a British Citizen.

B for a while coined his own title:
The Reverend Dr Deakin Daly
which is more for the purposes of assonance I suspect.

I however would like the more genteel and inexact title of "esquire". In proper usage it refers to one who was neither a Baron or a Lord or a Doctor or a Knight or a peasant; what Marx would have called a prole or the Romans a pleb. And I do so much think that Andrew Thomas Rollason esq. befits my position in this world which aint much.

October 24, 2005

Horse 422 - Time Check

Sun 1530: Arrive back from a Boy's Brigade camp after spending a weekend up at Lake Macquarie. 60 kids and some of their dads showed up and praise goes to God for planning a truly awesome weekend. Our meagre efforts are rewarded with the smiles on heaps of kids who heard the gospel proclaimed loudly.
It's weekends like this that provide experiences that last with people. They'll look back on moments like this with fond memories, I can't thank God enough for just giving us the opportunities to provide and share in these moments.

Sun 1548: Have made it home when a phone call arrives informing me that one of the kids can't find his bag that was in my car. As my car is now empty as this point I drive back down to the church to have a look.

Sun 1551: Back down at church, he's found his bag, drive home again. Get changed and bung stuff in the washing machine.

Sun 1554: Realise there is no washing powder. Drive to Seven Hills to buy some and then load the washing machine.

Sun 1607: Back down at church as am running the Data Projector. Fighting sleep but makes it through the entire service.

Sun 2022: Coffee cake and toast at Castle Towers. Do I exist? Not entirely sure about this, in all likelyhood probably not.

Sun 2133: While pointing out where someone else car is in the carpark, I accidentally shove my right hand through the weathershield busting it into several bits. My right hand starts bleeding and throbbing.

Sun 2140: Still bleeding. Pull over to the side of the road and try to close the wound up with a band-aid; this fails. Continue to drive home.

Sun 2153: Arrive home. After washing my had and applying band-aid, the pain is still there. I figure that it will go away, so I start a 5000 word report due tommorrow (owing to my brilliant planning skills, and procrastination).

Mon 0247: Finally finish said report, have realised that I need to go and put all the stuff I removed from the Skyline back into it before I move my Ka the next morning.

Mon 0316: Sleep?? Who knows? I am exhausted.

Mon 0526: Get up and drive the Ka to the Ford dealers in Blacktown as the brake lights have ceased to work. This means I shall be sans Ka today and will need to use the dreaded public transport.

Mon 0606: The train is packed and the only seat I can find is between two fat people who fill a three-seat row. I am told at one point by both of them to move over a bit as they are squashed (what about me getting squished by two people eh??)

Mon 0622: Decide to stand. Get yelled at by both people and am accused of "discrimination" because I have made them both look bad, despite them both having extra room (hey I'm the one who now has to stand in this sardine tin of a train).

Mon 0833: After taking a train and a bus I arrive at work and begin the day.

Mon 0849: The pain in my right hand is getting ridiculous. Leave work and head to the GP's surgery around the corner. There is no anasthetic and the doctor cuts into my hand with a scalpel then with a set of tweezers pulls out a shard of plastic roughly 3mm square and 22mm long. Yeeeouch!

Mon 0922: Ford ring and tell me that despite the fact that the faulty connection with the brake lights is their fault, I am still liable for their labour to re-connect it. That's just dumb.

October 20, 2005

Horse 421 - Weakness

The ABC are weak dogs who make me sick - don't ever watch them again - Steve Foxx

The ABC it turns out have no plans to release DVD 2 of Double the Fist. This 8 part ABC series shown on television last June and July beat Kath & Kim to an AFI award for Best Comedy but did the ABC take notice? Not in the slightest.

Here was a show that exposed weakness in all it's forms, via the use of a mockumentary game-show type... it defied description really. Graphically it was extremely slick and all 8 shows were done on the paltry budget of just $125,000.

You'd think after the success the series had and the fact that DVD 1 had sold nearly 77,000 copies that the ABC would commission a second series, but nooooo. Kath & Kim on the other hand had its funding secured by being sold to the ABC.

In fact the only way to get the second half of the series on DVD was to go to Supernova where Steve Foxx himself and Panda had taken half of someone else's booth and pirated the copies themselves. The DVD's are marked Illegal & Unauthorised and personally signed by Steve. Which leads me to an interesting conundrum, have I breeched copyright by paying for an "illegal" DVD by paying the originator of the work directly? If copyright resides with the ABC and isn't for sale but I pay the owner of the intellectual property, what happens then?

I don't know exactly, but I'd rather help out the artists who made the series, than let them be dumped without an income stream. I hope that someone picks up the second series that was in pre-production.

In the meantime the ABC gets NO FIST.

October 19, 2005

Horse 420 - The Tale of a Princess

The story of Princess Mary of Denmark is one that would make even the hardest of ogres smile for the pure romantisicm of it all. The story of a prince finding love in another country and then taking her back to be his princess despite her being a commoner.
Is the other side of the coin valid? Most people will have heard of the story of Edward VIII who gave up the throne of England to marry Lady Wallis-Simpson. A similar story is being played in Japan right now.

The only daughter of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, the princess will marry Yoshiki Kuroda, a Tokyo city official, in a grand ceremony next month. When that happens, the 36-year-old will lose her royal name, Norinomiya; become plain Mrs Kuroda and forfeit her residence in the imperial palace and her place on the civil list.

Under the imperial system, Princess Sayako is considered the emperor's daughter while single. Once married, she joins the Kuroda family and her children will be outside the line of succession.

Life beyond the palace moat may be something of a shock. Her fiance, 40, is believed to earn about ¥7millon a year as a town planner, an average salary in Tokyo (A$81,000). Having said this, it is customary in Japan for the wife to control the family purse, although Princess Sayako has never had to worry about money.The Japanese government has announced a one-off gift of ¥150million (A$1.7m) to ease her passage into her new ordinary life; this will help buy a modest flat at best.

Beyond that, she will have to adapt to a very different life. The Japanese royals are surrounded by servants and the food they eat comes mostly from their own farm, where Jersey cows supply them with milk and the vegetables are organically grown.

Empress Michiko, who was born a commoner, is reported to be spending these last weeks coaching her daughter. She ensured that Princess Sayako had her own kitchen from an early age, where she learned to cook using everyday ingredients. However, the princess was reported to have asked a friend how to shop in a supermarket and wondered how one carried all the food.

She may be the last princess to become a commoner. Japan is moving towards allowing a woman to ascend the throne and an advisory panel said it was unfair to remove women from the royal house on marrying.

At the moment it is rumoured that Sayako will be given a job in a very secure position indeed. In line with her dropping out of royalty, Japan Post have decided to give her a management position. It means that there may yet be another reason for that royal warrant on mail vans.

October 18, 2005

Horse 419 - Scientifically Accurate

When pop singer Katie Melua claimed in her hit song, Nine Million Bicycles, that the universe was 12 billion years old, physicist and well-known author Simon Singh protested. Scientists had worked out that the universe was 13.7 billion years old, Singh pointed out. This sparked off a huge fuss, with some sticking up for Singh and others metaphorically putting the boot into him.

I've just heard the BBC Radio 4 broadcast of a new scientifically accurate version, the lyrics of
the original offending chorus are as follows:

We are 12 billion light-years from the edge,
That's a guess,
No one can ever say it’s true,
But I know that I will always be with you.

and the new scientifically accurate version:
We are 13.7 billion light-years from the edge of the observable universe,
That’s a good estimate with well-defined error bars,
Scientists say it’s true, but acknowledge that it may be refined,
And with the available information, I predict that I will always be with you.

It got me thinking about other songs. Old Blue Eyes would have been shocked if he'd been told off about:

Fly me to the moon,
And let me play amongs the stars,
Let me see what spring is like,
On Jupiter and Mars.

At best guess there will only be another spaceflight to the moon by 2019 at best guesses and as for playing among the stars? Pioneer 10 has only just left out solar system and left earth more than 30 years ago.
Jupiter and Mars don't have seasons persay, and from what we've seen from the Gallileo probes, Jupiter might not have a solid surface to speak of. As a swirling gas giant it appears to just get denser and denser.

Do you remember the song of the late 60's by Judy Stone?

Four million, Three thousand, Two Hundred Twenty-one tears from now
Maybe I'll forget, that we ever met
Four million, Three thousand, Two Hundred Twenty-one tears from now
Maybe then I will have cried you out of my heart

A friend of mine who's an auditor said that they checked this song with all available estimates and found that if you could sucessfully cry Four million, Three thousand, Two Hundred Twenty-one tears it's likely you'd be roughly 135 years old and very very forgetful indeed.

October 14, 2005

iFive - 14th Oct

In between fighting traffic and the inevitable drear of commerical radio, it's nice to know that my Ka is a haven of the bizarre and wonderful. In the words of Bridget Duclos it's Random & Fabulous.

I can't explain even a logical connection bewteen anything I heard this week. There may be some dubious linbe somewhere but I think it fails scrutiny.

1. Knock On Wood - Rachel Stevens - Funky Dory
2. Happy Days - TV Theme - US TV
3. Second Sun - The Superjesus - Jet Age
4. Minute Waltz - Chopin
5. Radical City (Living In The City) - Sonic R - Soundtrack

October 13, 2005

Horse 418 - Cross City Rip-Off

The world's most despised and hated tollway is officially Sydney's Cross City Tunnel (alias: Cross City Rort). This new motorway that has opened up to take the pressure off Druitt Street and Bathurst Street in Sydney's midtown district has been virtually ignored by motorists because of the extortionate toll being charged for passage, currently $3.50 with a no-tag surcharge of $1.60, indexed to grow by 3% or at the rate of inflation (which-ever is the higher) until 2030 when it reverts to ownership of the New South Wales Government.

The latest messages we are receiving from the consortium that manages the tunnel is that the toll, originally $2.50 and then climbed to $3.50 when the tunnel opened for business, will soon escalate another 10c as the consortium is allowed to raise the toll every three months. If that is not enough to put people off using the tunnel for good, the tunnel's operator wants streets around the tunnel's portals equipped with traffic calming devices, such as humps, barriers, etc, to discourage motorists from 'doing the rat run' to avoid having to pay the toll.

Here is my chance to have my say on tollways in general. Sydney motorists are being taken to the cleaners by tollway operators. The M7 Motorway, which is due to open in December, is being wrongly touted as a 'fair' motorway because the toll charges will be based on distance travelled. It's certainly a fairer system than the Cross City Rort however charging taxpayers to use roads that have been partially funded by the taxpayer is wrong. Even before the opening of the Cross City Tunnel and the M7, Sydney has more tollways than the rest of Australia combined. Where is the fairness in motorists being charged more than $15 to do a round trip on roads that are just as congested as the 'old' roads? Lets never forget that Labor gave a core election promise in 1995 to ditch existing tolls on the M4 and M5 and to never build any further roads under Build Own Operate Transfer (BOOT) schemes.

With the M7 and the Cross City Tunnel being cashless tollways, there is now an incentive by all tollway operators to harvest large chunks of money from those who invest in the tags needed to use the roads, supposely without incurring extra penalties. Some of the tags are paid for with a refundable deposit, which is the fairest way of distributing them, though others are issued by the payment of a monthly fee. Tollways that accept cash, such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, don't force the luxury of account keeping fees or surcharges on motorists, though when a tollway operator decides that they no longer want to hire any staff and replace the toll collectors with tags we get slugged for the privilege of dealing with more robots instead of real people.

If there are approximately 4 million vehicles registered in NSW that pay on average just over $1000 in registration taxes. Thats around $4bn a year which the State Govt has to spend on roads. Add the nearly $11bn they get from levies on petrol and they should be collecting about $15bn a year.
Now the total roads budget this year, encompassing new construction, major upgrades, maintenance, road safety and road safety education, will amount to almost $2.9bn in 2005-06. Where's the other $12.1bn gone?
Even just last year the Government launched its "Action for Transport 2010 Plan", a 10-year, $3 billion plus plan to revitalise public transport. Total funding for rail capital works, funded from both the Budget and the Rail Access Corporation is a mere $466m.
Including all of this, where's the other $8bn?
Let's face it, that $8bn is effectively being stolen from the "good and fair people of NSW" those Tollways could have and should been been funded from the public purse and could have been IN CASH.

My response to these licences to print money? Don't use any of the tollways at all. No matter how much the bastards push the government to force motorists onto tollways there is a legal obligation for the government to provide an alternate route which is free of charge. In five years time I may be the only driver without a tag attached to my windscreen but if I am the only mug saving money as a result then I am happy to do so.

October 11, 2005

Horse 417 - It's a Visual Thing

I must admit after reading this site for so long I still fail to see what the hell you see in that little pile of red pus but each to his own. I just can't believe that people take such a thing seriously. - Toby

Why a Ka? That's so bubble-shaped Euro. - Katja

In 1995 at the Paris Motor Show, a little blue supermini concept was unveiled to virtually no fanfare, was given no pride of place on the stand and was just sort of hidden off to the side of their stand. Little did they realise that on opening night, the little Sub-B compact would actually draw attention away from their GT90 supercar with people asking where they could buy one.
Ford was stumped and by Christmas 1995, the Ford Ka hit showrooms in Europe and in Britain in January.
When I saw one of these at the Motor Show for the first time the thought from Wayne's World "Oh yes, it will be mine. Oh yes, it will be mine." shot through without hitting the sides. Here was a car that had everything one could ask for in one package.

The adverts "It's a visual thing" weren't far wrong. The 1996 Amsterdam Motor Show ran this banner "Kunst met een grote Ka" or almost literally Art With a Big Ka. Like Peter Pan (the boy who never grew up) the Ka has hardly changed at all in 10 years. A 2005 plate Ka is still pretty well as cute, and avant garde as the original 1995 version.
Did I mention cute? It has a happy face, and a set of lights with a grille that have been styled to reflect where the engine came from - the '59 Anglia. Borne out of Ford's "Edge" design theory, it spawned its bigger cousins the Focus, Mondeo, Falcon. As Ford have come back from the edge (pun intended) they've blanded up again, which explains why the cheeky little Ka needs to stay there. 10 years on it's the only Ford with fun.

The engine is a Kent 105E or FVE (Four Valve Endura). There's four valves per cylinder under that little bonnet, something unheard of in 1959 but standard in 1995. The engine has had nearly 50 years of development now so is pretty well unburstable. Reliability matched with fuel efficiency which still puts even the Smart to shame.
Dynamically the wheels are shoved into the corners, so if you remember the fun you had when you drove a Mini all those years ago, it's reproduced here.

It's a real pity that Ford dropped it from Australian sale. With increased petrol prices, it's starting to make a lot of sense and with a top speed as standard of 109mph it easily eats motorways. I've taken mine to Melbourne and back on several occasions, and the furthest I've got at 110km/h is 809km which is just extraordinary. Did I mention cute?

So I'm happy I own my little pile of red pus Euro Bubble. I still think "aw, you're soooo cuuute" every time I see it and there aren't many cars you can do that with after several years of ownership... goodness knows what happens when she eventually dies, I intend to keep my "woman in red" for the next 60 years. I figure that in 2065 when I'm 87 years old, that the Ka will still look like something from the future.

It's a visual thing.

October 10, 2005

Horse 416 - Random Prose

The gears in my head are turning at the moment, just in weird directions...

Major Quentin Peter Parker returned from his tour of duty from the Falklands and for all intents and purposes was totally unemployable. He didn’t understand people, figures or basic management practices. Somehow he had weaselled his way into the upper echelons of the Royal Bank of Scotland’s hierarchy and had been forgotten. His branches were profitable, his lending arm was turning more than a tidy sum and yet he had not the slightest idea of how this had happened; for that matter he didn’t really have much of an idea of who was in his organisation let alone where they worked.

When Timothy arrived at the head office on the Monday morning, the banking chamber was busy. Queues snaked across the vast expanse of thick carpet that looked more like a blue square lake under a squiggly marble sky far above. Timothy waited for an attendant in a deep leather couch that seemed to swallow him up; when the attendant did finally arrive it was difficult to escape the grip of the couch. They descended down a set of marble stairs under the main chamber and to a lift lobby as equally impressive. Lamp sets hung overhead from the 1930’s but what was to follow paid more of an impression on Timothy’ psyche.

Maj Parker’s office was right on the corner of the building on the tenth storey. Out of the windows were two striking views. The first was over the city towards the mall and the Radio City tower. The second was the expanse of the Mersey from behind the three famous stone buildings and the Wirral somewhere off in the distance.

Maj Parker himself looked like he was straight from the pages of the War Pictorial of 1917. His ruddy moustache hung down to two bushy points and had he been wearing a pith helmet one would not have been so blatantly reminded of his highly polished head.

Horse 415 - Inside the Space of the Mundane

After church last night and after I'd copied a few CD's of the sermon, I retreated back to my usual job of filing the music and songsheets back into the files, to find a rather largish pile of extra fun bonus stuff. Now I didn't have to undertake this task ( B said that he was quite capable on Thursday) but by this stage my throat had basically packed it in and I couldn't really see the point of going out after the service if I was incapable of talking.
With precious little else to do, then why shouldn't I have done it? Here I was with all this extra bonus time, so it had to be put to some use.

The church emptied and no-one even said so much as boo to me until the lights started going out. By this stage the only people left were myself and one of our pastors, Luke. He offered to help file the stack of stuff and so I relented my grip and took his help.

He really didn't have to, I'm more than sure that there were far more important things to do in the world. In fact I'm sure that being home 20 minutes earlier with his family would have been ten thousand times more enjoyable than filing with someone who by this stage was virtually silent.

Nevertheless I was touched by someone who did a relatively menial act when they didn't have to. In fact if you're reading this B, make an effort to thank Luke for me on Thursday. Such service is appreciated and especially when not called on.

October 07, 2005

Horse 414 - Conquistador

7th October 1510,
The only information that the Sydney Morning Herald gives for it's historical column was that Spanish conquistador Balboa (the guy with the funny looking hat) found a tribe of cross-dressing males in Panama and executed them all on-spec in the name of the Queen and God. A Panamanian Transvestite colony? Wow.

Conquistador - now there's a profession that you don't hear much of these days. Conquistador. I mean it's right near the beginning of the career alphabet too. A - architect, artist. B - Binman, Baker. C - Conquistador! Why wasn't I offered that as a career option? How unfair.

There's programs in schools to help people leaving school decide what sort of careers they might like. Now as talented and fabulous as I am, they never once offered me that option. Know what they suggested that I do? Become a baggage handler at the airport. Now with all my flair and intelligence, you think that they could have come up with something better than that.

I would have liked to follow in the footsteps of James Cook, Chris Columbus, Cardinal Fang etc. Well I suppose they didn't really have footsteps did they, being on ship and all.
But I can see the other side of the coin as well. On 19th January 1514, the Queen had Balboa executed... so it's probably a good thing I didn't become a Conquistador.

But the name Conquistador is still pretty cool.

iFive - 6 Oct

Isn't it ironic how some football club songs spruke unending loyalty to their club. "Oh the premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood" - Hmm, came second last did we? How sad, Eddie Maguire will be spitting chips. Who Wants to be a Millionare? Clearly Eddie.

The Sven Sven Sven song came out mid 2004 after the Germany 1 - England 5 game. 'Twas an absolute rout. These lines are gems though...
Rudi Rudi Rudi Rudi Völler
Vorsprung Durch Technik or something or other
Ollie Ollie Ollie Oliver Kahn
Eins Zwei Drei Vier Fünf that's five in German

1. Glory & Fame (See the Bombers Fly Up) - The Fable Singers (Essendon Club Song)
2. Hey Baby (Go England!) - DJ Ötzi
3. The Man United Supporters Songs - Mike Harding
4. Sven Sven Sven (Glorious München) - Bell & Spurling
5. Good Old Collingwood Forever - The Fable Singers (Collingwood Club Song)

Horse 413 - Nothing Fits 2

Back at that same rail bridge on the way home. Probably the same lot of commuters going home to their family, friends, no-one, empty houses, broken homes, loved ones... etcetera etcetera etcetera. Apart from no-one fitting into society, know what else all of these people share including myself? They're all screwed up.

There is no such thing as cold. A paradox you may say but true nonetheless. Cold is merely an absence of heat. Likewise there is no such thing as darkness; darkness is an absence of light. What about evil? Could evil be the absence of "good"? Maybe not in the active malicious sense anyway, but still true enough.

Most people when asked would tell you that they lead a "good" life. Good is one of those glib words that doesn't really say much. Good people it would appear would be everywhere but... what is it that they lack? If I am precisely the same as all these people then what strikes me as different?

I put it to you that evil is not an absence of "good" but rather an absence of "God". Now there's a strange concept. If Christ himself said "I am the way, the truth and the life" and "no man may come to the Father but by me" what does that say if we're living with an absence of God?
Directionless, truthless, dying people? Yet isn't that what we see every single day of our lives?

Without God what is the point of any of this? There are thousands of "good" people living equally glib lives, none of which lead to a direction, the truth or life... which by inference is death. In fact most of these people whilst they don't openly harbour a campaign of malice against God would rather that he remain distant or absent, and then wonder why there's no "good" in the world.

Something I read in the drudgery of boredom while at work I think is somewhat pert. This was directed at King Asa but equally applies throughout history.
The LORD is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you. 2 Chronicles 15:2

The world won't find God for the most part because they aren't implicitly looking. God is allowed to remain absent and off in the distance. We need to shove him into people's faces, because they're not going to look by themselves very well. They'll continue to commute back and forth every day etcetera etcetera etcetera.

*Sorry, about the tone of this. I should really stop typing away madly at 3am in future. My brain suddenly whacked itself into gear again... drat.

October 06, 2005

Ph34r m3!!!!

1 am s0 1337 nd t3h wi53, 1 roXOrs.

My Nucl34r fir3w4all works flawle$$ly. Ph34r t3h w4ll o f1r3!

Horse 412 - Nothing Fits

I was standing on Cleveland St bridge with the digital camera last night looking down at the 40-odd railway tracks underneath and the trains filled to the brim with commuters going home to family, friends, no-one, empty houses, broken homes, loved ones... equally as many stories as there are people in those trains - probably with multiple sub-stories as well.

One thing I can't get over is how densely packed everything is. Ok, in the 'burbs of Sydney we don't notice it as much but what about in the megalopolis' like New York City, Tokyo, San Angelis, or Mexico City? It seems as like everything is so crammed together that there's no room at all for anything that doesn't fit.

Yet in a strange sort of way, I "don't fit" into society with equally as many quirks (maybe more so) than the next person, the whole fabric of society is held together with such a loose set of threads, and it's really quite easy to throw the whole lot into chaos again as we've seen with fire, flood, bomb and shortage of late.

It makes you wonder how useful a "reset" button would actually be in life. Of course you'd have to do a Ctrl-S every so often so that you didn't mess up the good bits, but in the light of everyone else doing the same thing, would there be any advantage at all? After all we'd still be the same people at night going home packed together.

Rather like the Circle of Life that Elton John sang about...
The Circle of Life, is like a random bloke from Sydney, tryiiing to fiind a parking spaaaace, and staring at commuter trains from a road briiidge.... or maybe not; all the antelopes are standing around thinking What's this git going on about? It's not very easy to dance to is it?

In fact I'm almost somewhat glad at points that there are these 4 million variations, it means that my screw-ups don't get noticed much among the sea of all these commuters going home to family, friends, no-one, empty houses, broken homes, loved ones...

If I "don't fit" into society, then in all likelyhood nobody else does either.

October 05, 2005

Horse 411 - Zombie Watch

I'm down with the 4-1-1

Most of you by now will now how much I loathe the undead. Most of all I really can't stand Zombies. This short post will tell you how to identify a zombie so that you can either dispatch them with a crossbow or a small flame thrower.

Zombies are not known for being highly intelligent. One instant giveaway that you're in the presence of a zombie will be incessant grunting and a distinct inability to form sentences greater than 3 syllables.

You may also wish to look for an ungainly smell, this is due to the undead being composed of non-living flesh. There may also be a hint of drool and quite possibly a lack of fashion sense; often zombies will look similar to each other. Zombies also share a trait with vampires in that they loathe the sun. This means that they will try to cover their eyes at every opportunity, some will even hide in dark rooms just to avoid the sun at all costs.

Of course by now you'll realise that the description of a zombie is pretty well much close to your average angsty teenager. I'd treat them with caution as well... and remember that crossbow.

October 04, 2005

Horse 410 - Detox?

I was walking through the local newsagent where I work (a bad practice I know) and noticed that this week in particular, a lot of the women's magazines seem to be advocating the benefits of "detox". I think in all honesty that detox is scientifically unsound, and the reason for this is largely based on how brilliantly built the human body is.

Detoxing and fasting both hinge on an old medical premise (circa 1900s and before) about the body building up waste but this is simply not true, in general. We do build up those nasties in our arteries from improper diets, so, in a way, oats, olives and walnuts may be called "cleansers" (with science backing them up) if eaten regularly. However, we do not clog our intestines, as the old medical profession once believed.

Ditto for the necessity of liver cleansing, fasting etc. The energy spent on these measures (that carry some risk) is better directed at eating a good diet, in moderation. It's true that "cleansing" and fasting may feel invigorating, acting similarly to altering the state of consciousness, but that feeling should not be confused with improvement in health. As for clearing the system from environmental pollutants, no-one has ever proved these measures do that, and it's highly unlikely.

The liver and the kidneys are both amazing instruments. The liver acts as a giant scrubber whilst the kidneys are an expunging system for the chemicals that for the most part the liver removes. Whilst it is true that these organs can be damaged it requires a concerted effort to do it in a short period or increasingly as people's lifespans are increasing, this may be due down to the process of aging.
That is not to say that the entire theory of detox should be thrown out entirely. Industrial workers during the end of the 19th century were developing diseases due to increased levels of heavy metals in their workplace. Chelation therapy involves the ingestion of agents specifically designed to attract the metals in question such that the liver and the kidneys can do the job intended.

One thing I find quite worrying is some of the effects of something that happened nearly 20 years ago. When the reactor at Chernobyl failed, it released a cloud of Strontium-90; this found it's way into the ground water after being widespread throughout Eastern Europe.
Strontium-90 replaces calcium in fatty acids, which in cow's milk will replace the calcium deposits found in human bone; as far as I know, there is no plan of cure or even a solution found to this as yet. At any rate we're talking about a specific cure for a specific ailment.

Our liver and kidneys like so much of the human body is far more capable of removing toxins and impurities than anything science has managed to develop. The only equivalent is the use of dialysis techniques and machines which at best are about as 40% as effective as the equipment we were given at birth.

So called detox is about being sensible in the first place. A reasonable diet should cure all problems before they've begun. Perhaps detox is sold to the gullible with the express purpose of making people feel guilty?

I should create a list of things that are bunk, detox is one such thing.

October 03, 2005

Horse 409 - An Evil Evil Mistress

I have an evil evil mistress,

I have travelled half way around the world to see her, visiting three continents, have booked tickets to 2 dozen countries and to date have spent thousands of dollars in pursuit of her.

I have waited in conditions of rain, sleet, snow, been burnt alive under a searing sun, have driven for hours, risked bodily harm and have been uttetly bored waiting for her.

As for visiting her at home, well she moves a lot. Sometimes she leaves without a forwarding address, once she even left for 18 months without even a hint as to when she would return.
She has been the recipient of my money, I have seranaded her. I've lost sleep in the wee small hours just so I could see her.

Sometimes I have experienced happiness, joy, elation and at other occasions have been filled with horror and despair.

Who is this you may ask? Football. The most evil and demanding mistress the world has ever seen. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned they say, I say those people have never stood on the terraces for 90 minutes.

This morning she kicked me in the guts again - Chelsea 4 - Liverpool 1. Love must be blind, because if it isn't, it's certainly stupid.