November 30, 2006

Horse 675 - I Aint Paying For Telstra

Welcome to the 21st Century proper. This is a land in which the services for which your forebears paid for have been flogged off and now are in private hands. One such example is Telstra.

Despite Australia's telcos announcing advances in technology with great fanfare in recent months, more consumers are now unhappy with the telecommunications industry than last year. The telecommunications industry ombudsman has just released his annual report, which shows complaints are up 10 per cent. The internet was the main cause of concern, with a doubling in complaints about internet contracts, and guess what, Telstra was the worst offender.

Specifically there's been a 44% increase in the number of complaints over the last 12 months, and I will now suggest that this will only get worse. If you read through the reports of the company going back to 1996, you'll find that the level of government investment has proportionally dropped off directly with its shareholding in the telco. With T3, although the government still holds about 17% ex-board, the regulatory effect of this is that its now no longer required at law to trump up any money at all for investment.

Around about $4bn would be required for a full roll-out of broadband services to areas outside of the major cities and whilst in 1995 this would have been paid for out of taxation receipts, the amount that the goverment is now required to find is... $0 The plan for a fibre optic broadband network has also been shelved because supposedly negotiations over regulatory issues with the ACCC broke down.

Perhaps in one of the only occasions I've ever agreed with Rupert Murdoch on anything, is in reference to a comment he made about access to broadband in this country. In the speech he gave to a Press Club Luncheon he called it a "disgrace"; interestingly Sol Trujillo was forced to agree with him, but again there's really little that can be done unless the money is found elsewhere.

The only real solution I can see in the giant investment hole here is for News Corporation to buy out a substantial stake in the telco. News Corp already goes halves with Telstra in the FOXTEL cable TV business, and certainly they have the money.

The bottom line is that as a taxpayer, my share in Telstra is now nil. Telstra has been pushed out of the nest and now should not be allowed to sponge even a red cent off the government. Whether they survive, prosper, fail or die is now longer my concern. If they happen to have a better deal then so be it, but like the Commonwealth Bank or Qantas, I'm not showing any brand loyalty to them.

November 28, 2006

Horse 674 - What's That Got To Do With The Price Of Fish In China?

Well firstly you need to know what a price actually is. In economics and business, the price is the assigned numerical monetary value of a good, service or asset. Now you can apply rules such as supply versus demand and laws of equilibrium to determine what that monetary value actually is, but generally in most people's lives, it will be the amount written on the sticker and the amount that you're required to pay in order to get said good and or service.

Now if you apply this theory to the actual shopkeepers in China who mark uo the price of their fish, you will find that very little of what you happen to do in life will have anything to do at all with the price of fish in China. In fact, unless you happen to be either a major fishing company, a grocery chain or perhaps a maratime regulatory authority then literally everything you do in life will have nothing at all to do with the price of fish in China.

This therefore renders the question along the realms of rhetoric, in which case the best defence against a rhetorical question is usually a surreal answer; these are usually best ascribed in legal terams as these are practially untraceable.

What's That Got To Do With The Price Of Fish In China?
Well it never used to have an effect before 1997 but then the communists took over Hong Kong because the lease has expired and so the price is now dertermined by the Communist Party and part of its price policies.
Unless you happen to understand the law in relation to Chinese Price Structures then you won't understand what the answer means, so although I could tell you, there is no point really.

Horse 673 - I Didn't Do It

Coming home tonight I looked up at the expanse of lights in the sky and realised just how much junk was being thrown into the sky. The number of stars just seems to be so much less when I was a kid. The only cure was to jump in the car and drive up into the mountains.

A winding mountain road, speed limit of 100. No way of being caught for speeding out here. No chance of finding a speed camera or a policeman.

So I pitted machine against road...

Well I'd like to say I did, but that would be to tell a lie. For although I had driven the road several times before and at speeds approaching ten-hundred-tasty-doo, I was given the impression that I was not allowed. Forbidden. Prohibited.

I was made rather aware that at some point I can't afford to be at brazen or patently reckless. My safety although not my concern might be someone else's. It would not be fitting for me or my little car to be wrapped around a telegraph pole. Further to this I'm more than likely going to be responsible for more than myself...

This scares me.

November 24, 2006

Horse 672 - In Focus

I must admit I have been in a bit of an automobiley mood this week. I saw in the space of 20 minutes yesterday a silver-grey 1992 Honda Accord and not long afterwards, a metallic burgundy 2005 Holden Vectra (as if someone was trying to tell me something). Every other day I pass another copy of Rosalini and the other driver and I occasionally wave at each other as if to compliment the other on their impeccable taste.

However, I am looking at the very real possibility of leaving this wide brown land and heading to the land of the star spangled banner. Now admittedly the "big" issues of who I'd work for, or where I'd live wouldn't necessarily be solved until I get there, but I can pretty well much guess one of the answers to a smaller question. What do I replace Rosalini with?

I could for instance lop across the border to Mexico and pick one up from down there which is actually quite cheap, or I could look in America itself for a car. Thinking seriously about this, I could in theory already buy what I'm thinking of here in Australia - a blue Ford Focus.

You have to admire the US here. They've been making big clunky cars for so long that they realised that with soaring "gas" prices, Europe had it right all along, so the blue oval brought in the Ford Focus. The Focus Mk1 was a fantastic motor car, the chassis was stiff, it was styled according to the "Edge" design school and if it wasn't for Evo VII would have won the WRC.

The Mk2 Focus although from a styling point of view was nowhere near as radical; in fact Jeremy Clarkson left one in a London high street and found that it attracted zero attention despite the fact that it was at the time an unreleased car. But if you don't buy a car based on looks, the mechanicals had better be good - and in the Focus, they're ace.

In 2005 the car was the highest selling passenger car on the planet with good reason. From an interior space point of view the car is as ergonomically sound as the Astra (which is still as close to perfect as you can get). The feedback from the stiff suspension gives you a real sense of feedback right through your bum, as opposed to a big Falcon which one does not drive but steer. I felt somewhat uneasy in the Malibu in America not because it was a big car, but rather it just felt entirely vague, which I guess is a function of US suspension tastes.

Whilst the Focus is a family car in the UK and Europe and a medium car in Australia, in the USA it looks decidedly small against the backdrop of clunkers. I can see great advantage in this. I'm able to weave my Ka through traffic like a figure skater; given that everything is bigger then this proportion would be maintained with the Focus.

There are also other requirements to think of. Because the car wouldn't be driven my me exclusively it would need to be an auto (despite my loathing of slush boxes). I may also need four doors for carrying things.

On reflection, the Focus is an entirely sensible motor car. The question remains whether that certain someone else (he said with an eyebrow raised) would tolerate a Henry and whether I am prepared to grow into sensibleness yet.

November 23, 2006

Horse 671 - All New 2007 Mazda9

Innocently parked in a carpark is what many consider to be one of the quietest secrets of 2007. Mazda has finally produced a replacement for its 929/Sentia. The vehicle which sits atop the all new Ford CD4 platform is larger than the Mazda6 and Ford Mondeo.

The all-new Mazda9 has some features carry over from the Mazda6 but takes them to new levels of refinement. It is expected that the car will feature power windows, 4 airbags, a 6 stacker CD player with MP3 capabilities as well as many other features as standard.

The Duratec 36 (code-name Cyclone) is a new 3.6L V6 that will appear in fall 2007. It is an all-aluminum engine based on the Duratec 30, and adds variable cam timing on the intake side, a feature already found on the Jaguar AJ30 and Mazda AJ versions of the 3.0.

The new heads relocate all accessory drives to the front of the engine with a flush chain drive, saving space. The new combustion chambers are reshaped as well. A dual-stage variable length intake manifold, centrally-located sparkplugs, and a 10.3:1 compression ratio are other features. The Duratec 36 is ULEV-II compliant and is said to be capable of meeting the PZEV requirement as well. The dual-stage intake manifold was part of the Duratec 30.

Engine output will eventually exceed 224 kW, but will be 195 kW and 305Nm at launch, a substantial upgrade in power from the Duratec 30.

The engine is the same exterior size as the Duratec 30, and should be usable in all vehicles currently using that engine and its derivatives. The company expects the engine to be used in one fifth of all Ford products by the end of the decade.

Everything above this notice is a bald faced lie. The point was to show just how anonymous the current model VE Commodore actually is. The fact that you can make it look like a model for another car company proves that the Commodore simply does not look like a GM car at all.

November 22, 2006

Horse 670 - Out Of Control Children

Apply your heart to instruction, And your ears to words of knowledge. Do not withhold correction from a child, For if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, And deliver his soul from hell.
Proverbs 23:12-14

A Current Affair tonight is running a story about "Out of Control" children and their tearful parents. I've just heard a sample from the story on the radio in the car and found myself utterly shocked.

Have you tried smacking your son?
Oh I can't do that, he might not respect me.

Might not respect you? Hello tearful father, you don't have to worry that your son "might not" respect you when the case is that he "does not respect you, NOW". This is what I find almost amazing about modern humanism, this is the thought that whatever I feel like I'll do and you can't do anything about it. This philosophy when applied to one's own children produces a state where if they want to do something, then they're allowed to; this is blatantly stupid.

I'm going to make a statement here which isn't popular. ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) does not exist. I'll say this again in case you missed it: ADHD does not exist.

The latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) states that ADHD is a developmental disorder that presents during childhood, with at least some symptoms causing impairment before the age of seven. It is characterized by developmentally inappropriate levels of inattention and/or hyperactive-impulsive behavior, with significant impairment occurring in at least two settings. Adults with ADHD are diagnosed under the same criteria, including the stipulation that their symptoms must have been present prior to the age of seven.

If this was indeed a neurological problem or some form of chemical hormonal thing, the there should be some form of cure. DSM suggests that ADHD is currently considered to be a chronic syndrome for which no medical cure is available.

Ok then, if it's something which can't be cured by medicine, and is purely a developmental disorder then whose fault is it? Dear old Mum & Dad? I put it to you that the vast majority of ADHD children either come from single parent families, or ones in which a divorce has occured. Or to put this another way, poor parenting produces poor children.

Children up to a certain age, lack the developmental abilities to be reasoned with as adults. They live in a very simple world and from a psycological standpoint, they are the most important thing in it. The question then is how does discipline fit into this?

By definition discipline is any training intended to produce a specific character or pattern of behaviour, especially training that produces moral, physical, or mental development in a particular direction. Discipline, while often thought to be a coercive mechanism, can be a collaborative process of building consensus regarding accepted behavior within institutions and society.

Hang on? Mental development? Isn't ADHD a developmental disorder? Was Solomon actually right?

People opposed to smacking and the cane often cite child abuse as the defence. I ask these people if they drive a motor car - if you have a car that can do 100, would you willfully do this in a 50 zone? Discipline and correction are for precisely that. Basing a defence around an extreme isn't proper.

I remember in 2nd Grade in primary school, 3 mates and I climbed up a tree and accidentally broke it. We were marched to the Principal's Office and all four of us were given the cane. Did we ever climb trees at school again? No. Did we die? No.

Dear Parents with children out of control... Take responsibility for your own children! No-one else will!

November 21, 2006

Horse 669 - Notes on Australia Before The Ashes

The First Ashes test for 2006/7 starts in two days and I thought I'd give out some vital information regarding this country.

1. Captain Cook found the place by accident.
Captain James Cook was not exactly the greatest explorer in the world. He managed to find Australia by purely just running into the place. In 1606 Captain Jansz of Holland found a bit of coast in WA where desert meets ocean and thought Deze plaats is onzin or This place is crap. Two weeks before Cook showed up Captain La Perouse of France landed in Botany Bay and thought Cet endroit est la merde or This place is crap. But when Cook turned up he pretty well much landed in the same place as La Perouse and in a rare turn of British optimism thought This place is crap but if we head around the corner a bit...
People have this misconception that Cook was a statesman, when in actual fact he came from Yorkshire. This means to say that his first words on the new continent would not have been Oh I say, what a darling little island but This place is ****in ****e

2. Australia Became A Gaol
Because the British didn't find the marks of civilisation (ie/ The Post Office, Fleet Street newspapers, The Lamb & Flag, and a Tescos) they declared the place empty. I think that half the reason that Britain was so successful in dominating the world was their accent.
See the shiny beads? Well you can have those, we'll let you keep them... we'll just take your country if you don't mind. Can you imagine the Irish? Aye, I cannae go cos I've got me knitting like and me mates have gone down the local...
With this Australia became a penal colony (and yes I can gear you sniggering in the back), and for 113 years the British sent out mainly Irish criminals and other ne'er do wells. This means that Australia has a dodgy past mate.

3. Australia Became a Country
We didn't have a war but a vote... real exciting... um... we became resentful to Britain so keep on having to find sports to beat then in? Actually and this is true, during 2005 when England last won the Ashes their 67p stamp was issued with commemerative Ashes photos. 67p is co-incidentally the price of a stamp to send a letter to Australia.

4. The Nation Today
That's pretty well much it. Australia never starts wars but gets sent to everywhere where our big brothers in the UK and the US tell us. We have our own little brother in the country of New Zealand whom we like to pick on but generally ignore.
We live on the edge of the island because the middle actually is crap but we daren't go into the water because of the sharks and sting-rays.

Yay Australia

Horse 668 - Red

Red is the colour of fire:
- stop signs
- traffic lights
- railway signals
- cards in football, telling you to get off the field
- brake lights
- starboard side lights
- stopping a motor race
- maximum engine speed
- marking errors in exams

Red is the colour of blood:
- medical crews (Red Cross, Red Cresent etc.)
- passion & love
- Valentine's Day
- Italian Racing Cars
- Communism?

Red is the colour of some typefaces:
- falling stock prices
- debts
- important calendar dates

Red is the colour of things I don't like:
- Manchester Utd
- embarassment
- Vodaphone
- Santa Claus

Red is also the colour of things I like:
- my car
- Liverpool FC
- apples
- $20
- Cabernet Savignon
- tomato soup
- London Buses

Red is quite handy aint it?

November 19, 2006

Horse 667 - I Love Miscellaneous Senseless Violence

I have been watching Project A - Part II featuring that master of bashing people up, Jackie Chan. There's no doubt about it that at his height, Jackie Chan was one of the best stuntmen in the world, often staging stunts in storylines that have just enough of a shread on sanity to keep the story believable.

What I find interesting is that the final credits show us that the chillis which Dragon Ma rubbed into the eyes of Awesome Wolf and Cobra were real. The prop department were supposed to make up fake chillis, but weren't able to complete them in time for the shoot.

This film had all the things you'd expect, people getting over the head with chairs, kung fu and karate in confined spaces, mass destruction of domestic appliances, windows broken, pencils being used as chopsticks, and the very famous telephone gag.

It's films like this which made SBS famous. The original Project A is over 20 years old now, and it's sequel is getting close, and despite the fact that Hong Kong was handed back to the Chinese a long time ago, this film hasn't suffered the effects of time at all. Watching people fighting with martial arts and breaking stuff is still fun to watch. It's more fun that watching a gun fight in Western films. Do you think that they could get away with someone using a cup of coffee as a weapon in say, Spiderman 3?

I rest my case.

November 17, 2006

Horse 666 - The Ashes are NOT a Trophy

The Ashes is a Test cricket series, played between England and Australia - it is international cricket's oldest and most celebrated rivalry dating back to 1882. It is currently played approximately biennially, alternately in England and Australia. The Ashes are "held" by the country which last won a series and to "regain" them the other country must win more Test matches in a series than the country that "holds" them. If a series is "drawn" then the country holding the Ashes retains them.

The series is named after a satirical obituary published in The Sporting Times in 1882 following the match at The Oval, in which Australia beat England in England for the first time. The obituary stated that English cricket had died, and the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia. The English media dubbed the next English tour, to Australia (1882-83) as the quest to regain The Ashes.

A small terracotta urn was presented to the England captain Ivo Bligh by a group of Melbourne women during the 1882-83 tour. The contents of the urn are reputed to be the ashes of an item of cricket equipment, possibly a bail, ball or stump. The urn is not used as a trophy for the Ashes series, and whichever side "holds" the Ashes, the urn normally remains in the MCC Museum at Lord's because of its age and fragility. Since the 1998-99 Ashes series, a Waterford crystal trophy has been presented to the winners.

In February 1883, just before the disputed fourth test, a velvet bag, which was made by Mrs Ann Fletcher, the daughter of Joseph Hines Clarke and Marion Wright, both of Dublin, was given to Bligh to contain the urn.

There used to be little public knowledge of the urn, and no record of a published photograph exists before 1924. However, when Bligh died in 1927, his widow presented the urn to the Marylebone Cricket Club and that was the key event in establishing the urn as the physical embodiment of the legendary ashes. The MCC first displayed the urn in the Long Room at Lord's Cricket Ground and since 1953 in the MCC Cricket Museum at the ground. It is ironic that MCC’s wish for it to be seen by as wide a range of cricket enthusiasts as possible has led to its being mistaken for an official trophy.

It is in fact a private memento, and for this reason the Ashes urn itself is never physically awarded to either England or Australia, but is kept permanently in the Museum where it can be seen together with the specially-made red and gold velvet and the scorecard of the 1882 match.

November 16, 2006

Horse 665 - A Papier Mache Music Box In the Shape of a Monkey Holding a Barrel Organ

Does the title mean anything to you?

The world is currently being taken in by Sasha Baron Cohen's Film - Borat: etc with a hideously long name. Without seeing the film, I can guarantee based on reviews and what I saw on The Ali G Show that the Borat film will derive it's humour from a few main sources, none of which I will divulge here.

The question then is what do I find inherantly funny. The answer surprisingly is mainly in the realms of innuendo.

See what I did with that one statement? Immediately one half of the audience reading this will have turned their minds immediately to smut; that's the beauty of innuendo. Innuendo relys on an allusion being made to something without saying what that something is. You people should get your mind out of the gutter.

The reason I make mention of this is partly due to the fact that I happen to prefer radio to television as a medium. Radio requires by the very nature of the beast that the people delivering the comedy have to create the word pictures and let the dear listener produce all sorts of things in their imagination.

In The Goon Show, some of the sound effects we are told of include Eccles driving a wall down the street or the entrance of Bloodnok with the sound of a chicken and some remark like "I must get that looked at", the innuendo produced is virtually impossible to actually imagine what the scene might look like.

In the antidote to panel games I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, this concept is taken to several extremes at once. Chairman Humphrey Littleton will at the end of his opening monologue usually make some reference about the lovely and sexy Samantha getting ready to score on the desk with him during the show. This is a piece of radio innuendo at its finest.
1. The double entendre of Samantha getting ready to "score on the desk"
2. That Humphrey Littleton is now 85 years old and adopts a persona on the show of deadpan, apathetic, disgruntled and occasionally bewildered style of chairmanship.
3. The actual fact Samantha who is frequently described in bawdy near-the-knuckle terms, does not actually exist.
Another few features of Clue is references to the Laser-Display Board or some other high-tech device when clearly the BBC would never fund such a thing.

One of the greatest examples of innuendo is in the film Duel. People find this film irritating because they never ever see the truck driver or find out his intentions are; yet this is the point of the film: to play on people's emotions to make them annoyed.

Frequently in court and parliament where the rules of etiquette demand dignity, you'll hear people speak of "my learned friends" which implies that such a person they actually think is stupid, and that in reality they're actually veiled enemies.

Innuendo is the art of making people imagine something without actually telling them what to imagine. It's a step above sarcasm, and possibly one below surrealism. A lady walked up to a bar and asked the barman for a Double Entendre, so he gave her one. You people should get your mind back in the gutter now.

November 15, 2006

Horse 664 - When Media Turns Nasty

Plastered across the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald are the reports that England Test Cricket opener Markus Trescothick has decided to leave the Test tour of Australia and go home citing depression as the reason.

Now mental health issues are nothing to be scoffed at; I for one don't know what it's like to suffer from depression but the high-profile world of Test Cricket is probably not the best arena to battle this in. Given that for the next 4 months it will be prime viewing in two countries, with wall-to-wall media coverage, not to mention the sledging onfield, Trescothick's decision is probably a wise one. The tour to Australia probably would have landed him about £30,000, so to forgo this is no small thing.

With the First Test in Brisbane in merely 8 days, personally I would have just gone walkabout; taken some time off in the Whitsundays. Usually in these circumstances it is advisable to get away from everything. When your nerves are shot this badly, stress isn't something you should deal with.

So I hope that Fleet Street isn't that hard on the chap. To turn down the opportunity to represent your country in possibly cricket's biggest prize fight isn't something you take lightly.


Fluffy Stroganoff...
is that too hard to conceive?

November 14, 2006

Horse 663 - STOP!!!

Half of Australia is exhausted - Dog-tired. Wearied by longer and longer hours, by all the paper in the paperless office, by all the time spent answering those time-saving e-mails, by the fear of redundancy, by long commutes, by the drive to try and get a mortgage before you're forty, by the debilitating lack of purposelessness... We are weary, weary, weary to the point of national depression. The number of prescriptions on the PBS for anti-depressants rose from 7 million in 1995 to 28 million in 2005. Meanwhile, books on stress proliferate whilst vitamin supplements, energy supplements and high-caffeine drinks come storming onto to our supermarket shelves to jolt our weary frames into one more day's productivity.

Does it really have to be this way?

Well, apparently not. The French have taken the standard working week down to 35 hours and seen unemployment fall and productivity rise. Still, by the time an Australian government whether avowedly worker-friendly like the Labor Party or supposedly family-friendly like Family First ergo the Liberal Party actually gets round to addressing the worker-hostile and family-hostile way we work in this country, most of us will either be redundant, pensioned off on an inadequate pension, or lying on a trolley in a hospital corridor waiting for a knackered, red-eyed, caffeine-resuscitated doctor to address the minor question of the heart attack we just had.

It's surely time to live differently.

But in what way is the community of Christ a sign to this culture of a different and better way? Are our leaders less stressed? Less workaholic? Are we? Or have we actually become conformed to our culture, accepted its view of time with a stoical shrug? Is this just the way that it has to be if you want to stay employed, stay housed, stay fed? Is it really?

God created the world as a context for human flourishing. He didn't put us on the earth without air to breathe, it was already there. He didn't put us on earth without food to eat, or the capacity to grow and harvest it. It was already there. God didn't create humankind on the first day or on the second day. He created us on the sixth day, when he had created a context in which we could flourish. "Go produce and reproduce," he then said, "Work and multiply." Go release the potential in earth and release the potential in humans. Does the way we are leading our lives in Australia really contribute substantively to human flourishing?

It's time for a change, or it would be, if we had time to think about how to do it. This system is killing us, killing relationships, cracking marriages, alienating children, and sucking the joy out of even very good jobs. And in whose interest? It is a fine and good thing to engage with culture but sometimes it's a far, far better thing to disengage from it.

In a work-crazed, acquisitive, anxiety-bound, stressed-out culture what more potent testimony could there be than a community marked by the capacity to stop work, by a community that knows how to rest and be refreshed, by a community with time for relationships, by a community with a purpose beyond the acquisition of goods? Are we anywhere near creating such communities?

And is there anything in the Bible to help us? And not just high-capacity middle-class people with the talent, opportunity and pay structure to downshift to a four day week, move to the Gold Coast or change trades.

In the beginning, the Bible tells us, God rested on the seventh day - not, of course, because he was tired. Later God told Moses and the whole people of Israel to do exactly the same thing, to stop work on the seventh day. To stop work. That is stop. Not, do just a couple of hours; not, catch up on one or two e-mails; not, just finish the ironing; not, get the kids' bags ready for tomorrow; not, do all those things we don't call work because we don't get paid to do them but are work. No, the commandment says stop.

Very interesting word that. It ends with a stop. For street signs the word is unique because no other word comes with that shape of sign. It means don't move, don't hurry, don't run, do go insane because there's a mountain of stuff that needs to be done yesterday if not sooner. Stop.

November 13, 2006

Horse 662 - My Lunch is Awesome

I work in the 10th richest suburb in the country and to be honest it shows. Things in the supermarket are about 20% more expensive and the greengrocers stock weird items in place of regular food. You can not for instance buy a head of lettuce, but rocket is abundant - who ever thought up rocket anyway? It tastes like dirt.

In Mosman there aren't normal things like bakeries or corner shops but rather, establishments like bread emporii and delicatessens that don't sell pies or sandwiches but bruschettes and big meats that are 9 ft long.

Imagine my utter triumph over the system today when I sucessfully made 2 sandwiches for the equivalent of 64c. At just 32c a sandwich, that's even better than a pack of gum. They're not dodgy bodgy sandwiches either, but have actual proper lettuce, tomato, cheese, chicken loaf and cucumber in.

I beat you Mosman... Eat That!

November 10, 2006

Horse 661 - Thanks

Usually when my birthday comes around I'm usually busy with either work or making plans for Christmas. It's only 45 days to Christmas* from my birthday and I suppose in some respects I'm glad I'm not my grandad who's birthday was Dec 27 which must have been really horrid.

This year being my 28th birthday is actually numerically significant. In the Gregorian calendar assuming that the 100th year doesn't blip the system, then it takes 28 years to recycle the calendar. Thus 1978 is the same as 2006 and likewise if you have any 1979 calendars they are also reusable. This aside the last year has been quite significant.

I've received 4 text messages today wishing me wishes for the day but more importantly a mysterious package arrived from the USA. I haven't yet opened it, but I'm sure that what's inside from Katja and possibly clan Salini will have been well thought out. Seriously, the fact that you even sent me anything is one of the best presents I ever got.
Ich sorge mich nicht. Sie sind meine Prinzessin und Königtum fließt durch Sie. Von himmlischen Federn trinken Sie. Sicher gibt es keinen schöner.

The Commonwealth Bank also phoned me up today and usually one doesn't want to hear from a bank manager in case it's bad news. In this case it was because they couldn't transfer my car payments.
I froze.
The reason? The car loan had been discharged. My little Rosalini, the Red Dwarf is mine.

It seems almost unfair that practically everything I ever wanted I seem to have been given without any effort at all. Most importantly the one thing I needed the most in this world, was given for free but the cost was terrible.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. - in Romans 5 (I forget where at the moment)
Why should I be given such a gift? This defies description.

I also happened to be given a gift by the Australian Taxation Office... a $1600 HECS debt request... I suppose you don't get everything.

*by bizarre co-incidence it's also 45 days from New Years Day to Valentines Day

November 09, 2006

Horse 660 - What Is It? It's Epica, What Is It?

You want it all but you can't have it
It's in your face but you can't grab it
What is it?
It's it
What is it?...
... it's Epica. So?

Back in Horse 358 and in Horse 364, I warned you about Holden ditching the Astra in favour of Daewoo's Lacetti. Already the Corsa has been hacked out with the Barina nameplate now affixed on the Daewoo Kalos - the car with a 1 star NCAP rating. Guess what? True to form, Holden is shoving out the Vectra in favour of the Daewoo Magnus to be called the Holden Epica.

Even Chevrolet in the USA won't touch this car, they chose the restyle the Vectra Vectra to become the Malibu. See below.

Basically the story is as follows. Holden own 51% of Daewoo and are probably looking to turn the company around by exploiting its cheap prices. On the other hand, sales of the Barina (Kalos) have lost major ground to Toyota's Yaris and even against sales of the more expensive outgoing Barina (Corsa).
The general buying public aren't hoodwinked by a badge. A Daewoo is still a Daewoo and the reason that they sell at all is purely on price. Pitching the Epica against the Camry is a bad move, since pre-sales of the Camry 4 already rival that of Commodore which itself is struggling.

The days of the big Aussie six ruling the roost have now passed thanks to rising petrol prices, but a drop in quality doesn't really justify the drop in price. The Focus and Corolla are perhaps the prime contenders in the future and I don't think Holden quite see this yet. Their billion-dollar-baby should have been replaced with a 3.6L version of the car that they're now axing in the Vectra. I fear Detroit is calling the shots here; let's face it, in their homeland, they lost the plot there too.

Admittedly the Vectra didn't sell a whole heap because people saw it as being too close to the Commodore. The Epica as it's replacement still doesn't address this problem merely because of price. I think for Holden it will appear as an anonymous car and be as unloved as the Piazza was.

November 07, 2006

Horse 659 - I Lost Big Time On The Melbourne Cup

I got:
NO Free Lunch
Couldn't pick up commentary on the radio because of the tin roof.
Worked all afternoon, while the boss nicked off early.
And still don't who won the damn race...

Of course I didn't lay any money on the race, that'd be stupid. I can think of far better things to throw money away on like petrol or chocolate.

The Race That Stops the Nation meant precisely three-quarters of jack-squat to me; I'd say it's a 50000-1 on chance that my life will change by not an iota because of it.

Horse 658 - Immigration & My Ignorance

There are lots of things I need to investigate or search out over the next few months/weeks. The regulations with regards immigration are just not very useful nor helpful, and I suspect that I'll need more than the odd visit to Level 59 MLC Centre will be in order. I've been reading through legislation and sub-clauses that makes the ITAA 1936 look like a children's flip picture book.
Can you say Indeterminate Zone Worker Class G4? I know you can.

It appears as though immigration into the US is handled by the US State Department. Bear in mine that these are also the same people who make you surrended little bottles of soda at the airport and take your fingerprints just in case they happen to show up on charred bits of metal when you supposedly blow something up. Somehow I just don't trust the gatekeepers at all.

On the other hand DIMIA which handles immigration for Australia seems relatively straightforward on several fronts. From the inside it looks like they'll accept anyone through the doors into Australia provided that they can't speak English and have the coping skills of a newt.

There is a way through all of this I just know it. Maybe it's like when Tip and Dorothy visited that castle in Oz. They had to enter the left door. There was only one door that led into the castle, so how could it be the left one? Put simply the castle used to have many many doors, but they had them all taken away, and now this was the only one left.

Logic like that is doing my head in biscuits and given that it's now half past stupid in the morning, I suspect that this post will make about as much sense.

November 05, 2006

Horse 657 - God Save The Queen

The origins of this song are shrouded in mystery. Having evolved something in the late 16th Century, there are versions which are almost never played including verses "To Crush the Scots". As the national anthem for Great Britain, it's place is virtually unique having never been adopted and over a country that is actually made up for 4 others.

When Australia played Great Britain in the Rugby League last night, this song was sung, and I happened to make the comment that within four year that this will probably be replaced with "God Save The King".

In the USA this is perhaps better known as "America" with the first line of "My country, 'tis of thee", and when I saw England play Lichtenstein in a Euro 2004 qualifier, they played England's national anthem "Land of Hope and Glory" followed by "God Save The King" which serves as Lichtenstein's national anthem. Perhaps people in the crowd may have know this, but it was interesting to hear an English crowd singing the national anthem of another country.

In the German film "Titanic" of 1943, the song was used as a propaganda instrument, but in all honesty if you saw this film through the eyes of the English at the time, they would have thought that it was in fact a British film.

November 03, 2006

Horse 656 - In A Biskit

Can someone please tell me what's going on with the In-A-Biskit range? I was wandering around the aisles of my local Woolworths this morning hoping to score myself a box of Vegemite-In-A-Biskit and much to my horror it has been discontinued.


I'm quite a fan of your In-A-Biskit range, There's Savory, Chicken Crimpy, Barbeque, Burger (though I for won have never ever tasted a burger even remotely close to that flavour), Salt & Vinegar, even uppity Chives & Lemon In-A-Biskit but as for the perrenial Australian definative - it's nowhere to be found?

Why oh why cruel world have you decided to do this to the world of snacks? We now live in a situation where the choices we have are simply too many. If I move onto the range of Shapes I find Pizza, Barbeque, Dixie Drumstick, these flavours are never to be repeated and you have to out of the store by midnight tonight... (sorry about the crazy warehouse guy interlude), but with all these choices it's enough to drive someone totally bonkers.

In Soviet Russia there were only two flavours for anything, Grey and Communist Red. Quite frankly I think in a world of virtualy know choice at least you knew that what you were getting was crap, and you didn't go insane trying to choose what kind or crap it actually was.

Horse 655 - It's What Dreams Are Made Of

"Nobody dast blame this man. A salesman is got to dream, boy. It comes with the territory."
— Death of a Salesman

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller has been on school examination papers for quite some time now as educators think it pert to install culture into kids by means of forcing the to study themes and issues in English classes. Like the study of Shakespeare and poetry, it instills a natural hatred within students and drives many of them to never read another novel or text ever again.
I was watching Fox last night and this came on the telly. Thankfully I didn't study this in high school, so my mind wasn't polluted with themes, issues and critiques.

At work I live in a very rigid world of boring numbers, rules, laws and forms that have to filled in. It is my job to take people's figures and tell them what they have to do to comply with the law (within the realm of tax) or let them know what they can or can't do with the money that they either do or don't have.
At its heart, my position in life is one of extreme curmudgeony. I am the cranky man, the boring man with glasses who sits in the exam room telling you to keep your heads down, not looking at someone else's paper or the hall monitor who tells you not to run in the corridors. On the famed fun-ometer I am 0.1, nerd incarnate.

Man's natural desire must embody an urge to create, to build, to make something that's never been seen before, to imagine, to dream. We call these people artists, designers, architects, poets, playwrights, sculptors and more importantly dreamers.
These are the people who create new stuff that the rest of us use, admire and look at. While something as mundane as a toaster is used for cooking bread, we still want to see more than just a little grey box with holes in.

So this is a Hurrah to all of the people who is got to dream. If you didn't then the army of nerdy rule tellers like me would have standardised the world by now; it would all be grey, taste like and be made from McDonalds Brand Imitation Megaplastic*

*The whole of everything in McDonald's is made from McDonalds Brand Imitation Megaplastic. Their burgers, chips, their drinks, apple pies, the benchtops, the tables and chairs, you name it it's all made from the same stuff and I'd like someone to prove otherwise.

November 02, 2006

Horse 654 - Tares

Bearded Darnel or Ryegrass is a common Lolium plant that very much resemble wheat. It does have its uses primarily as a stock fedd and also as the principle type of grass for use on the courts in The Championships at Wimbledon.
Because it so closely resembles wheat, if often represents industrial sabotage, because it is totally indistinguishable from wheat until the head or "fruit" is produced. As this point and because of the poisonous toxins contained therein, the only logical thing to do with it is to burn it, or totally destroy it.

The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?'
'An enemy did this,' he replied. The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?'
'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.' "

Structurally this story is rather simple but the things contained in it are hideously complex. Several things can be ascertained here. Firstly that there are people within the church who look the same as everyone else but aren't fruitful and do an excelleent job of hiding. Second, that they should be allowed to stay there until the harvest eventually comes.

The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

What does this then say if we can't actually tell who is a tare and who is a wheat? Admittedly it's not our place to judge but the thought that the enemy is already within the ranks with potential agents is a) scary and b) should be entirely expected.

To steer the fault light back on you. Are you a tare? Have you genuinely surrendered? Do you have any fruit to prove this? If not, why not? The warning is there, it's very very easy, safe and even easy to hide within a crop of wheat if you happen to be a tare, but eventually, it will come of nought.
Seriously consider this.