July 31, 2006

Horse 602 - Sexy Little Italian?

We all should know by now of the brilliant television show Top Gear by the BBC and currently shown on SBS. Every week Jeremy Clarkson with his unique brand of pomposity slates, berates, denigrates and occasionally accolades the produce of the automotive world. Known for his love of big massive loud cars that cause an oil crisis it's not surprising that on the "Cool Wall" rating cars from "Cool" to "Naff" the two coolest cars in the world in his opinion are the Vauxhall Monaro and the Aston Martin DB9.

Imagine then the shock, horror and utter confusion when in a survey by Top Gear and published in the magazine, the World's Sexiest Car was decided. Let's just say that the winner fit most of the regular criteria because she was dressed in red, hot-blooded, and Italian...

Scroll down...

Keep going...

Nearly there...

And this is the winner. The Fiat 500. This petite Italian temptress beat such other dames as the Aston Martin DBS, and three other belle signore in the Maserati Quattroporte, Alfa Brera and Ferrari Enzo. Usually you'd expect some other grand lady to win a coveted prize such as this but with rising petrol prices and snarling traffic, perhaps people are willing to trade in the high-octane pheremones and the ability to flash down the motorway at +150mph for a bit of chic and cheeky vita matta.

Top Gear editor James May says of the Fiat 500 that it, "advertises nothing about its owner, except that it's someone who doesn't need to try. So you look, and you know. You would, wouldn't you?"

What's also interesting is that Fiat themselves intend to repeat the two-card trick with a release of the new Fiat 500 next year and unlike the New Mini that isn't very mini at all and the New Beetle which contains no dak-dak noise, the Nuevo 500 promises to live nicely alongside it's forebears.

There are other twists to this. The 500 was by Lupin III, the protagonist of the Lupin the 3rd series and movies and with a bit of careful product placement, Luigi in the Disney/Pixar film Cars also happens to be a 1959 Fiat 500.
On that note, Sally Carrera a Porsche 911 also from the Disney/Pixar film Cars, came 10th in the survey. Thus...

1. Fiat 500.
2. Aston Martin DBS.
3. Maserati Quattroporte.
4. Chevrolet Camaro.
5. Citroen C6.
6. Lincoln Continental.
7. Bentley Continental S1 Fastback.
8. BMW M1.
9. Rolls-Royce Phantom.
10. Sally the Porsche 911 Carrera (from the Pixar film Cars).

People may say "but they're only cars!", well maybe...

ph34r t3h cut3 0N3$

July 30, 2006

Horse 601 - Am I A Professional?

This post come to you live from Myer Bourke St from the city of eternal rain, Melbourne.

Yesterday I was at a self-published artists festival for manga and other assorted comic type stuff. As my mega-epic still isn't finished or the website set up yet (though I am dangerously close) I went and draw some 16 page yon-koma short comics and sold those.

I sold all 40 copies of both that I had before 12pm after the con had started at 10am. Now I wouldn't consider this anything to holler about considering that I shan't break even oin the trip even before taking into consideration travelling costs, but at least my name is out there, and people in the world who may have spheres of influence have seen what a bizarre little world resides within the four walls of my mind.

My sister who had a last check over it before I took it down thought that it was kinda of quirky but looked really cute. I've also had people at the con make mention that it's totally different to the range of ornate comics which they'd seen earlier that day.

I think I'm starting to know my place in the landscape of this world. Hopefully in times to come I'll be more than just a hot-dog stand on the motorway. Hey, if Dinosaur Comics can produce 3 years of work without any changes in graphic, then it's not such a silly dream.

July 28, 2006

Horse 600 - Roll Credits

Before I go any further I should like to point out that I spent most of last night carefully considering my first words for this edition of Horse because I realised that they had to be quite prolific, so then, here it goes:

Welcome to Horse 600.



Starring in no particular order:
Katja Stolle
Rabbi Wolfgang
The Prawny Bard
Roberto del Celicacio
Triple T Kate
Kat Aclysm
Baron von Wienerdog
The Count
Emporer Alpatine
Rollo des Soixante-Dix-Cinq
Markus Zeta
Jules Veronica
Derik Derik Derik

Queen Victoria
Erika Hayasawa
White Ninja
Strong Bad
Imhotep (who is invisible)
Sir Winston Churchill
Rollo des Soixante-Dix-Cinq
Sound Engineering
Rollo des Soixante-Dix-Cinq
Rollo des Soixante-Dix-Cinq
Rollo des Soixante-Dix-Cinq
3rd Unit
Rollo des Soixante-Dix-Cinq
Set Designer
Rollo des Soixante-Dix-Cinq
Locations Manager
Rollo des Soixante-Dix-Cinq
Costumes & Finery
Rollo des Soixante-Dix-Cinq
Assistant to Mr des Soixante-Dix-Cinq
Rollo des Soixante-Dix-Cinq
produced by
Rollo des Soixante-Dix-Cinq
directed by
Rollo des Soixante-Dix-Cinq
No animals were mistreated or maimed during the filming of this motion picture. A cat got hurt and someone shot a duck but really that's it.
Cameras and Lenses by
This Film was shot on 135mm film provided by Kodak
All motor vehicles provided by the Ford Motor Company
The Soundtrack for this film is available on Parlephone Records by EMI.
This film was shot on location in:
London, Liverpool, Port-of-Spain, Athens, Wagga Wagga, Ulan Bator, Paris, Insmulen, Singlefinden, Shefield, Epping, Wapping, The Solomon Islands, Akihabara, Winnipeg, Medicine Hat, Orange, Zurich & Lagos.
The producers would like to thank the people of Nigeria for sending us $14,000,569.14 from a deceased estate which was resting in our bank account (which you'll never ever see again) which made the production of this film possible.
This has been an Imhotep is Invisible production
in association with
BBC Radio 1, France 3, NBC, ABC 2, TVNZ, The Fairfax Group, The Japan Times, Fuji Television, Sky Networks, DW, TVE, RAI, the EBU and the Wagga Wagga Advocate
for Soixante-Dix-Cinq Films Ltd.
(c) 2006
Dolby 8.1 in Selected Cinemas
Rated U

July 27, 2006

Horse 599 - Thinking of You

I got one of those darling little chain emails the other day filled with nuff-nuff sentiment that when you seriously look at it doesn't really stack up. I must admit that it is a departure from the usual parade for - Cheap Meds, Online University Degrees, emails informing me that my privatii don't work properly and emails from people with names like Aloyisious N'Zogba Djemba Djemba.
The email had pictures of bunnies, duckies and teddy bears in it, so I suspect it was designed for the sorts of people who have Camrys with rear parcel shelves covered in soft toys and "Back Off - I'm Trouble" and do 15 to 20 below the speed limit in the fast lane. Of note was the following line:

"Every night before they go to sleep, somebody thinks of you" There's the obvious fluffy sentiment there but I had a think about this and thought "is this something I really want?". I picture several possible scenarios here.

Firstly, why are they thinking about me before they go to sleep? Am I that dull and boring that I act like Horlicks? Is there an insomniac in the world who either can't find a drug or has found that my ramblings are so sleep inducing that they nod off? Does the same principle apply to when I'm giving a speech and the people in the audience fall asleep? What about preachers? Does this mean that it's not their sermons but rather that the people in the congregation were thinking of them?

Alternatively, am I keeping people awake? I know that I'm hillarious and should be given an Emmy, Oscar, Logie or a BAFTA for my comedy skills but seriously, fall asleep... please. What if for some reason I'm really scary and that's why they can't sleep?

For this thing to work properly I figure that there needs to be ratios and balances in action. This means that in all likelyhood that people are paired off. What happens if there's an odd number of people in the world? Some poor soul in Tajikistan is going to be sitting up in their bed crying "I can't sleep, no-one's thinking about me". Is thought comminicative? If so, are those people who've been saying for the last 50 years that the government is sending mind-control messages through the TV correct?

The scary thing is that I believe this theory, wanna know why? Well, the next time to happen to get an email from Sherwyn Issingxme!nz of Nigeria informing you that their uncle has died and has USD19,000,475.14 that if they don't get your bank account details so you can "hold the money for 14 days" for them, it probably is a scam. If then you jokingly say "I don't know how you can live with yourself Mr Nigeria Man, I hope you sleep well tonight" - then chances are that they probably will, because let's face it - they were thinking of you.

July 26, 2006

Horse 598 - A Roll is a Roll and a Toll is a Toll

This is a picture of possibly one of the most beautiful sights in the world. No it isn't the river or even the bridge in the background, but that yellow sign in front advising people that the toll booths are gone. Look how happy all of those people are. Now they can scoot along merrily at 50mph without having to fumble for change and without paying extra to use something which they've already paid for.

Tolls are being scrapped on the Erskine Bridge but will remain on the Tay and Forth bridges in Scotland, I read on the BBC. The Erskine Bridge toll will be scrapped on 31 July. The Ministry of Transport further rejected plans to increase the fee on the Forth Road Bridge from £1 to £4 at peak times and they've also agreed to start planning for a replacement Forth crossing at South Queensferry.

I think that this is a brilliant idea myself. Personally I really really hate paying tolls on turnpikes and motorways; I personally find the whole concept repugnant and horrible and an affront to the good people who use the roads. The various Transport Authorities are put in place around the world to make life easier. In particular in Sydney, this idea went out the window a long time ago, and new private motorways are being built using the public purse and at great expense to the taxpayer. In the midst of this, the private operators get free licence to rape the wallets of the poor motorist, who already forks over 70% of the cost of petrol in other taxes.

This is the list of charges for using the motorways in Sydney:

M1 Eastern Distributor - $4.50 - Northbound
M1 Cross City Tunnel - $3.56 - both directions
M2 Harbour Tunnel - $3.30 - Southbound
M2 Harbour Bridge - $3.30 - Southbound
M2 $3.80 - both directions
M2 Gore Hill Tunnel - $2.00 - both directions (opens Nov 2006)
M4 $2.20 - both directions
M5 $3.30 - both directions
M7 $0.3033 per kilometer capped at $6.07

This is just for cars mind you, for trucks it's usually doubled.

This is only within the confines of Sydney. As soon as you leave Sydney the roads cease to be of Motorway quality. Worse is that all of these motorways are owned by different companies, so the money doesn't even go to NSW State Revenue but private coffers, who still have no real interest in the well-being of taxpayers. Then the State Government has the audacity to steadily increase the road tax despite not building any new roads of its own.

What I want to know is, why should I be forced to pay a toll to use a road when I'm already paying a road tax in the first place? If it isn't being spent on roads (well obviously its not, since all new motorways are private) then what the heck are my road taxes for?

July 25, 2006

Horse 597 - On Books

In the local library near where I work there is a sign which says "Please Be Quiet in the Library". Now I had always wondered about this sign and the almost ironic placement of it.

Right next door to the library is a ramshackled house which has been approved for demolition; consequently just outside the window is a steady stream of jackhammer, bulldozer and concrete mixer noises. Obviously since they're outside the library they're not under any complusion to be quiet at all.

I also thought about the other extreme case here where a little lady in horn rimmed glasses with a blue rinse beesnest hair cut and wielding a well worn copy of a Barbara Cartland novel would go outside and in one of those high pitched whiny voices yell "Look here sonny Jim. Don't you know that people in here are trying to read and don't need lollygaggers and flibityjibbits like you polluting our ears with that cacophony"

There must be something special about people who are surrounded by books. Last night I was in Borders and had bought a textbook, so I decided to visit their coffee shop and read the opening blurb. Nearly 45 minutes later they were closing the store and yet again I've been met by one of those strange people with glasses. She asked me to leave the premises, but I rather get the impression that she didn't really want to; nor did she want to leave the precious books herself.

Ray Bradbury in Farenheit 451 speaks of a time when books are seen as outmoded and big screens dominate the walls of people's houses. Are we really that far into the future already? Are people that impatient that they just don't understand the quiet power of books?

My grandad had a room which he called his Upholstered Dogbox, the room was entirely unremarkable save for a wall which was a bookcase from floor to ceiling. Apart from the two reading lamps and his big desk, this was a room in which the 20th Century was not allowed to enter. The only thing that could be heard was the solemn ticking of the clock in the hall if the door was open. This room was most assuredly a cathedral to the printed word.

When I eventually shift home, I shall make it a priority to install a bookcase. Books aren't furniture in themselves but no house is properly furnished without them.

July 22, 2006

Horse 596 - Progress

I am in the city currently chowing down on a very nice croissant and cup of tea. To get here I've got off at Martin Place Station - interesting observation:

There is an escalator here which is actually open and there's a plaque which proudly proclaims: Out of Service - 18-7-89, In Service 24-6-06.
Now I think that this says something about how difficult it is to get stuff done in this country. We now know how long it takes to fix an escalator - nearly 17 years.

In that time we've had the Berlin Wall come down, Nelson Mandela freed from prison, been to war with Iraq... Twice, Communism dismantled, several Eastern Bloc countries dissolve and reform, the setting up of a common European currency, the World Trade Centre attacked, Afghanistan attacked, the construction of two railway lines in Sydney, the building of Petronas Towers, the selling off of Japan Post, and most importantly the rebuilding of 4 Railway Stations in the CBD with no less that 24 escalators between them.

I guess it must be on another request form or something.

July 21, 2006

Horse 595 - Terrible Music

If you look at a standard piano with full register, you'll find 88 keys in white for notes in the C major scale and black for other notes which became standard for pianos in the late 18thcentury.
Almost every modern piano has 88 keys (seven octaves plus a minor third, from A0 to C8).

Many older pianos only have 85 keys (seven octaves from A0 to A7), while some manufacturers extend the range further in one or both directions. The most notable example of an extended range can be found on Bösendorfer pianos, two models which extend the normal range downwards to F0, with one other model going as far as a bottom C0, making a full eight octave range. Sometimes, these extra keys are hidden under a small hinged lid, which can be flipped down to cover the keys and avoid visual disorientation in a pianist unfamiliar with the extended keyboard; on others, the colours of the extra white keys are reversed (black instead of white).

The extra keys are added primarily for increased resonance; that is, they vibrate sympathetically with other strings whenever the damper pedal is depressed and thus give a fuller tone. Only a very small number of works composed for piano actually use these notes. More recently, the Stuart and Sons company has also manufactured extended-range pianos. On their instruments, the range is extended both down the bass to F0 and up the treble to F8 for a full eight octaves. The extra keys are the same as the other keys in appearance.

Or are they?

If you look under the hinged lids of a few piano keyboards you will find as in the above picture an unusual set of keys. These 19 notes form what is technically called the Boîte Diabolique, or in English the "Forbidden Notes". Most of these notes are either "superflat" or "unnatural" versions of existing notes one can play on the regular piano.

Take particular note of the red key in the middle. This is not an error, this is in fact quite deliberate. When struck, this key produces an H5 note. Because most of these notes occur as a result of the Pythagorean comma (which resulted in the retuning of pianos).

A key of notes is produced with simple mathematical ratios being 1:2 2:3 3:4 etc. The problem is that for the 13th note in the key, it produces a dissonant noise with another note in the series. With the publication of JS Bach's "Das Wohltemperirte Clavier" the practice of tempering was complete. By altering the notes artificially, the dissonance was removed and all keys could be played in harmony at the same time.

Essentially the Boîte Diabolique is all the notes removed as a result of "Well Tempering" the notes. The 19 notes in questions are the 8 "unnaturals", the 8 "superflats", a Z3 and a Z4 (which actually fit in between their respective F & A notes) and both of which occur in Bach's Mechanique Wohltemperirte, lastly the H5 which is last comma left about G5.

When notes from the Boîte Diabolique are played, it usually results in a general feeling of unpleasantness for the listener. In particular when H5 is played, some sensitive people may find that their ears will actually begin to bleed. For this reason, audiences for the most part ceased to hear the notes of the Boîte Diabolique unless accidentally played. With the advent of modern instruments and the ability to produce virtually any sound, it may be quite a fearful thing when again composers and musicians take up writing compositions utilising the Boîte Diabolique again.

Heaven help our ears.

July 18, 2006

Horse 594 - The Art Gallery

This life turned out nothing like I had planned,
Why not? By now I should've had some land,
Some money in my hand, round about fifty grand,
But I got nothing, I write rhymes on the bus,
I keep suffering; like the lines in the dust.

Imagine if you will that your life is like a great big art gallery. Contained in it a works on display, some rooms that have been set aside for future works and still other areas that have doors firmly locked.

I think it was Freud who said that dreams are like paintings not yet on display. In some cases it's because they're still to be finished and enacted and in other cases they're secret things to be hidden away never to be seen.

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

I have heard it said before that allowing Christ into one's life is like letting in a janitor to clean up the mess. Well this may be true to some extent but what about the rest of everything? Since our lives are on display to a lot of people they get to walk around and look at a lot more than just the hallways.

Christ does more than just do clean up. As author and perfector of our faith he acts more like a curator and artist in the gallery. Looking at some paintings and making modifications, looking at others and setting fire to them wholesale and still others in parts of the gallery not yet seen, replacing the hopes and dreams yet to come with others.

Certainly in my life there's been sections shut off, others where the lights have been switched on to reveal horrid paintings that have been later set fire to, and other sections that I didn't even know existed in the first place where the most utterly fantastic works have been shown.
What He opens no one can shut, and what He shuts no one can open.

The gallery still remains open for business.

July 17, 2006

Horse 593 - Holden's BIG Mistake

Holden motor company of Australia may have just accidentally taken the first step to comitting automotive suicide. With petrol prices rising every 23 minutes, you'd think that it would make logical sense to produce a smaller and more effcient car. Holden with their latest variant of the Commodore have done precisely the opposite; made an even bigger one.

Mitsubishi were going nowhere and then decided to produce a car which would save the company. 6 months later the 380 is anonymous on the road and flagging sales have meant that they've had to reduce the sticker price in the showroom. The Commodore actually managed to gain another 125 kilos into a market which they already knew was shrinking but they headed full on into the development program throwing good money after bad.

The highest selling car in Australia for the first time back in March was the Toyota Corolla, No 2 was the Astra followed by the Camry at number three. The old VZ Commodore came crashing in at 4th spot (the Falcon suffered even further coming in at 6). Now that they've effectively shot themselves in the foot, when they already knew that they shift more Astras than Commodores, then why didn't Holden develop the Vectra for Australian conditions? The Vectra at 3.2L is 340kg less than the VZ Commodore, and on top of that they already built a prototype based on it - the TT36 Torana (or XP54). Who really would notice the loss of 12 kW when you're stuck in traffic? Or better yet build the Astra? Toyota who are the world's biggest car company have shifted more Corollas by nameplate than any other car in history. Get off your big fat noisy horses Holden and out-Corolla Corolla with the Astra!

Holden execs are keen to point out that the VE will form the basis for the next generation of the Omega series to be sold by Opel, Vauxhall and Chevrolet. What they don't tell you is that the volume sellers for both Vauxhall and Opel are the Astra, not the Omega which will be billed as the top-of-the-line fleet car.

I think it all look fairly ominous for the General. I also pity the poor saps stuck with a Commodore, for when the price of petrol soars towards figures of $1.50 and $1.60 which it will, I'll stil be driving my little Ka and laughing at you as you put a fourth mortgage on your cardboard box houses trying to pay for petrol.

The 10th Commandment is "Do not Covet". Let me tell you, I shan't be doing any coveting at all or your big tanky cars, because I already own the cutest car on the road.

July 16, 2006

Horse 592 - Re-Writes and Edits

Listening to WS-FM at about 3am this morning whilst down the street at a neighbour's house playing cards, the song "California Dreaming" came on the radio. Now this song at the moment has just a little bit more significance for reasons that are ever more imminent, but it's amazing at what my super-awesome brain can come up with.

If you can follow this and know the tune, you might want to sing along.

All the leaves are brown
All the leaves are brown
And the sky is grey
All the leaves are brown
I went for a walk
All the leaves are brown
On a winter's day
All the leaves are brown
I'd be safe and warm
All the leaves are brown
If I was in L.A.
All the leaves are brown
California dreamin'
All the leaves are brown
On such a winter's day

I stopped into a church
All the leaves are brown
I passed along the way
All the leaves are brown
You know, I got down on my knees
All the leaves are brown
And I pretend to pray
All the leaves are brown
Oh, the preacher likes the cold
All the leaves are brown
He knows I'm gonna stay
All the leaves are brown
Oh, California dreamin'
All the leaves are brown
On such a winter's day

Of course with any call-and-response you could in theory add anything you wanted to, in fact in this song any of the lines could fit quite easily as the response and still not suffer.

This whole thing makes me think of something like Who's Line is it Anyway? and their Hoedown songs, or equally a segment on BBC Radio 4's I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue with "One Song to the Tune of Another". Triple M's Stump the Scardies is the same idea again so clearly the idea isn't new or difficult to replicate.

Even little ol' me has achieved a wee bit of notoriety with a re-write in about 10 minutes of Your Way by Chris Griffiths (1991) to a song about Norway...
... so I guess any schmo can do it really.

July 14, 2006

Horse 591 - The Most Ridiculous Story Ever Told

Precisely one month after Vampire Day I just had to ask the perennial question who would win in a fight between pirates and ninjas?

Historically, ninjas are viewed as criminals and villains, but really they were fighting for what they thought was right by using any method they could. They learned all sorts of martial arts and magic tricks. Ninjas could turn invisible, enter into any structure undetected, poison the guards, and leave a knife in the back of the head of household. Ninjas possessed stealth that allowed them to climb sheer surfaces and overhangs. It allowed them to traverse the squeakiest of floors or rockiest of gravel pathways. They mastered the arts of concealment and could even fight in complete silence. They fought with noiseless shuriken (ninja stars), flashy nunchucks, swords, sais, chains, staves, and of course their unmeasured martial arts abilities. They knew their poisons and dust cloud powders. Ninjas posed as regular people and wandered the streets, but when it was time for action they put on the black suits and made with the sneaky. Silent, invisible killers – these guys were cool.

Pirates were viewed as criminals and villains because they were. These guys hated their bosses and so they took to a life of crime and excess. Pirates fought every single day and they could live for weeks on watered down rum. When they weren’t fighting they were drinking and whoring, and when they weren’t drinking and whoring they were sailing. If they lost a leg, a hand, or an eye, they replaced it with wood or steel, then fought some more. Pirates were in it for the money and the good times. They didn’t care that they smelled or wore rags because they knew every day could be their last. When your choices are fighting off death or fighting off stink we’d all side with the sea dogs. Mercenary, bloodthirsty, and cheating – pirates were cool. So cool that even their pet monkeys wore vests, fezzes, or eye patches.

Then you have to look at the other major forces in the world. Whilst Pirates and Ninjas control the vast majority of the world, as technology changes so do the powers that be.

The Undead like Vampires, Skeletons and Zombies (they always act as a trio) were viewed as criminals and villains but they may or may not be. All of them have come about through being bitten or reanimated by existing members of the classes. A dead Pirate or Ninja can come back as a Zombie or a Skeleton and if bitten by a Vampire be turned into one of them. As self-replicants they fight on not to gain power through possession of material but through claiming combatants. Their principle method of fighting is via the bite, but Skeletons are usually well equipped in the arts of close combat with swords.

The last group are the Robots. Robots are neither alive nor undead and have to be destroyed like Zombies and Skeletons through dismembering. Depending on what sort of Robots they are, they may be equipped with all manner of mechanical and technological weaponry. This includes lasers, flamethrowers, guns, swords, spikes and bommyknockers. Robots have no fighting code unless expressly programmed, so a rouge Robot shows no remorse or fear when killing an opponent. All enemies are simply targets acquired which must be eliminated. Notable Robots include the Daleks, Astro Boy, and Robbie.

If all of them came into combat, it would largely depend on where the conflict occurred. Pirates would be better on sea, Ninjas excel in the forest and the Undead and Robots are better in open spaces. All things being equal though, who ever would be killed would bolster the ranks of the Undead.
Zombies and Skeletons are slow moving and would be hacked apart by Robots and Ninjas. Pirates vs Robots would see a hopeless slaughter of Pirates because of an obvious impass of technology. Ninjas and Vampires would be an interesting line up, because if a Ninja was bitten you'd then have a Ninja Vampire which would very interesting indeed. Equally Ninjas can probably move faster than Robots and more than likely dismantle vital elements.

I think it would all be a really interesting match-up; but I wouldn't want to be caught in the middle of it. If you throw into the mix Legions, Paladins, Knights, Aliens, Wizards, Witches, Dwarves, Trolls and Mechas, you'd probably have the basis of the coolest movie ever made. Better throw in a few motorbikes, explosions, a car chase, disaster on a space station, a love story, some secret agents, and a small kitten as the hero who fights despite adversity just for good measure.

Horse 591 - Addenda:

I still want a cut of the royalties from the book, film, DVD, CD Soundtrack, merchandise and the adaptions in both "On Ice" and "The Muscial" formats.

July 13, 2006

Horse 590 - Give FIFA a Red Card

With Italian football currently embroiled in a match-fixing and corruption scandal, their recent win in the World Cup will probably go a long way to smoothing over a lot of issues. Don't be surprised if the ramifications are as minor this time around as in 1982 when similar circumstances abounded.

Having said this I wouldn't put it past the same people involved in scandal in Italy to have manipulated FIFA in the same way. When people like the Agnellis who own FIAT and Ferrari also own Juventus, and people like Silvio Berlusconi who was European President and Italian president was the president of AC Milan and only just quit in 2004, it's not hard to make the mental leap to realise that some very powerful people could potentially have fingers on button that they shouldn't.

Honestly, I think that there's been a distinct bias against the English speaking nations in the World Cup. Australia and the USA were both subject to obvious directed refereeing against them, and England were on the receiving end of some pitiful decisions which was only really masked by the lacklustre tournament they had.

Does anyone remember the abysmal challenge of Edwards on Owen in the Trinidad & Tobago match? You don't? Well the consequences were obvious when he started limping and was substituted for Rooney and then even more obvious a couple of days later when he went to ground against Sweden.
What did Edwards get for it? Not an iota, not a dot.

Italy needed to win this tournament because just like the last time they did there would be a scandal back home if they didn't. Full credit to them for playing well enough (though boring) to win, but FIFA if it doesn't already should have some serious questions to answer to.

FIFA have openly resented both England and Germany as well as UEFA for having more money and power than them. Since FIFA also control the referees and the "directives" given to them before a match behind closed doors, again I ask who's pushing buttons.

The FIFA Board itself is composed of the four delegates from each of the four British associations as permanent members and four FIFA delegates. The FIFA website describes the Board as "an abiding acknowledgement of the historic significance of the British associations in world football" officially, but in reality resents this position.

Still, it’s not all bad news as there’s only 49 days until the Premiership resumes and we can, at last, get back to watching some "proper football".

July 12, 2006

Horse 589 - On Anger

The last two days have been somewhat cranky for me. Someone (who will not be named, so that they don't know who they are) said something rather hurtful to me and although I could have retaliated I decided on the spot that the best course of action would be to let the whole thing die off and be forgotten. Consequently I said nothing and squelched it on the spot.

There's a few things and principles that have sprung to mind of the last few days. Among which are a couple of verses in 1 Peter and James.
And above all things, have fervent charity among yourselves, for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging. - 1 Peter 4:8-9
Therefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. - James 1:19-20

Anger is not of itself a bad thing. I have heard it said that anger is not an emotion but a reaction. This is only half right because it is possible to be angry in empathy even upon reading and perceived injustice.

I would guess that rather than a passive emotion like sadness, anger is active and is usually employed or triggered with an express purpose of attacking the cause of the problem whether it be feasible or not. In the case of most argument, anger is merely employed to rise up against opposition and does not actually address the problem at hand.

The problem is when it is allowed to persist or is employed as the first line of defence. I think that if properly employed, anger (if allowed to simmer rather than explode) can be directed to actually force a change in something. Thankfully, I've noticed a distinct difference in the way I handle things. The person in question will never know that I was angry with them and because of this, they can't hold this back over my head at some point in the future.

I guess that apart from this post no-one will ever even know; in a few days not even I will what this was about - mission accomplished ^_^

July 11, 2006

Horse 588 - It Just Is!

Good day to you,
Of course when I say "good" I'm speaking metamophically.

Still, not one more word about the weather...
...on the principle that if we ignore it, it might go away.

How and ever and not withstanding, and any road up, the show must go on.

Loud shouts of "why? WHY?!" because... I'll think of something... because because "why", that's why. So if you can spare us the odd frostbitten ear, you'd be very welcome!

July 10, 2006

Horse 587 - Forza Noioso, sealed with a Glasgow Kiss

Zinedine Zidane was not the first and will not be the last player to be sent off in a World Cup Final but his actions today will go down in legend as how not to show sportsmanship. After a period of confusion among the officials, his 110th minute headbutt on defender Marco Materazzi resulted in his ejection from his last appearance in international duty and invalidated him for the penalty shootout which France subsequently lost.
Horacio Elizondo, the referee who sent off Wayne Rooney the quarter-final, reached for the red card after consulting with a linesman. Zidane made his way slowly down the tunnel in tears.

Perhaps of note is what happens now for Italian football. Perhaps the players may have just saved hundreds of people in embroiled in a corruption scandal in the Serie A, just as it was when they last conquered the world, 24 years ago.

In the stadium where Jesse Owens won four gold Olympic gold medals, Italy won the World Cup for the fourth time. 70 years ago the world met here under very different circumstances, but for the past few weeks the world has been united.
FIFA is an organisation that boasts more members than the UN, but the weapons of warfare are equal for all nations. In the end all that's out there is 22 players, green grass and a football.

It's coming home, it's coming home
It's coming, Football's coming home
It's coming home, it's coming home
It's coming, Football's coming home

Tears for heroes dressed in grey, no plans for final day
Stay in bed, drift away
It could have been all songs in the street
It was nearly complete, it was nearly so sweet
And now I'm singing

Three lions on a shirt
Jules Rimmet still gleaming
Forty years of hurt
Never stopped me dreaming.

Roll on 2010 in South Africa.

July 08, 2006

Horse 586 - Cultural Me

This post comes from the rainy city. The city of public transport that works, and where restaurants are actually open at 3am. Welcome to Melbourne.

I'm here for an Australian Taxation Office Tax Seminar (w00t - not) but amongst other things, there'll be an AFL match I want to see and an exhibition featuring the works of Picasso at the National Gallery of Victoria. Not to mention the TV50 display on at Federation Square.

The drawback with this is that there wont be any photographs. The weather here is a typical winter's day in Melbourne and is nothing short of VILE. The rain is coming in from the sides and in some places is actually coming upwards.

Hopefully when I'm looking at paintings that I can't work out what they're supposed to be, when I'm watching telly of famous people that I've never heard of and listening to lectures about taxation that don't concern me, I'll be inside and most of all warm.

Aint Melbourne grand?

Horse 586a - Additional

The rain held out long enough for me to visit the NGV and see the Picasso exhibit. Now I realise that I'm an uneducated Philistine when it comes to the realms of pure art but I still have to ask the question - "What was this guy on? Was he on the gear? Was he smoking ice in a back alley and painting the pretty colours that he saw?"
There's not really an explination for the paintings that were on show but suffice to say that the whole thing has passed over my head like several flights from Heathrow Terminal 4.

I also happened to watch Australian Rules football at that cauldron of Australian sporting culture the MCG. The G was no where near capacity (only about 47,000 people) but the noise eminating from that place could probably be heard as far away as St Kilda.
The Hawks lost by 10 points...
Also on this, walking around in my Hawks jersey after the match, people on the street would ask you what the score was and what it was like. The people of Melbourne are far more friendly than Sydney. Maybe it's all of those hook turns and trams but people actually treat other people like... people, instead of annoyances which impede progress and get in one's way.

Horse 586b - Additional

Despite the spin doctors and their jazzing up of "Southern Cross Station", people here still call it Spencer St. I have also yet to discover what purpose Flagstaff station has either. It is always perpetually closed.

For those taking notes, I'm staying at the Toad Hall. Every time I walk out of the front door I feel like yelling "poop poop, ahah!", though I suspect that the Water Rat and the Badger would look down on such rakish and outlandish behaviour.

July 06, 2006

Horse 585 - Aye The Noo

The fine people of that country north of Hadrian's Wall are reknowned the world over for several things. Their whisky which is a lovely soothing drink that can be enjoyed by all and often leads to windows being broken and sectarian violence at football matches. The other primary thing that one usually thinks of when one mentions the Scots are their inadequate trousers that have a rather skirty sort of feel. To complete the look they will often carry a set of bagpipes with sound like a cat being strangled (in an entirely different way to the way Wagner sounds), and that other almost redundant pouch, the sporran.

Because apparantly I do have some Scottish heritage, I am entitled to wear a tartan, though it must be said the only tarten that I would knowingly choose would be the Stewart F1 racing tartan from 2001. The next question I need to ask when I purchase my Scottish attire would be "what is kept in a sporran anyway?". The answer from what I can gather is surprisingly utalitarian.

I must admit that what I would keep in my sporran would be different to what it would have been in the past. Following in incident with yoghurt a few years ago, I have learnt not to keep perishables in my sporran.

Look as you might you will not find cheese or even come cold sliced pieces of meat for a snack. Now it's all stationary, tissues, a selection of pencils (go on take one), I really don't mind. Underpants, Mars Bars, Milky Ways, and occasional bus tickets for those journeys across town, mind you, you do not actually want to take a seat on the bus for fear of someone looking upwards.

I suspect that traditionally one should keep items like gun powder and buckshot in a sporran though without a military context all that you could expect to find in your average Scotsman's sporran are things like keys, a money clip, credit cards, and identification of some sort. Personally I prefer a decent HB.

Horse 584 - Peter Pan

Peter Pan was the boy who didn't want to grow up, a little bit like our very own John Howard who still thinks it's 1956 and has only just got around to getting himself a television.

Born in the very wealthy southwest London borough of Kensington, Chelsea, he disappeared one evening and strangely social services were not called. He then went to prance around with a small girl called Tinkerbell which can only be one of those strange names given to children born of pop-stars like Apple or Heavenlt Hirany Tiger Lily.

Not happy with his underground exploits with pirates such as Smee and a man with a strange clawed hand (that is to say illegal activties on the high seas, rather than flogging off copied movies down at the local tube station). He used to nip into the chambers of other children and drag them along with him - aiding and abetting it could be called.

One night a child who was named after the outlets of the sanitation system, John, was enjoying a restful kip when suddenly the elfin child appeared at his window. "Hello" he said "I've come to take you away from the drudgery of school and football and take you to a nether world of madness".

Someone accused me of having a Peter Pan complex and by this I thought that they meant that I refused to grow up. As it turns out they were merely pointing out my fascination with wearing green tights, running across inner-city rooftops, and flying. However I would suggest that if anyone would try to combine these ideas one would simply get thrown off the aircraft.

July 04, 2006

Horse 583 - The Commonwealth of America

The Continental Congress voted 12-0 on the 2nd of July 1776 that the fledling colonies should break away and declare their independance from the United Kindgom. The official announcement and hence the date of the 4th is the date by which the terms of Jefferson's declaration should take effect.

Despite the genesis of Independence Day, it is largely uncommon for Americans to express anti-British sentiment on the day or to view it as a celebration of anti-colonialism. Indeed, most Americans today consider the United Kingdom their greatest ally. Rather than specifically as an opportunity to commemorate the end of British rule in the 18th century, contemporary Americans generally perceive the holiday as a celebration of the U.S.A. itself and the political values that motivated the United States Declaration of Independence.

Independence Day is as far as I know the only holiday celebrating the United States as a whole.
So what would have happened is those 13 colonies had not signed the Declaration? What would have been if the instrument of the United States had not existed?

I suspect that what would have happened is that America would have adopted a slightly different constituition more akin to something like Australia and been eventually awarded Commonwealth status which is different to Canada and New Zealand which were Dominions.

The Canadian Constitution which is the oldest of the 3 has the pre-amble as follows:
Whereas the Provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick have expressed their Desire to be federally united into One Dominion under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, with a Constitution similar in Principle to that of the United Kingdom shall form and be One Dominion under the Name of Canada; and on and after that Day those Three Provinces shall form and be One Dominion under that Name accordingly.
Unless it is otherwise expressed or implied, the Name Canada shall be taken to mean Canada as constituted under this Act.

The Constitution of Canada provides the framework by which the powers of the Provinces and the Nation are spelled out. The respective constitutions of Australia and New Zealand also act very similarly.

America instead of being called the United States of America would more than likely been afforded Commonwealth Status with with the same sort of relationship between the states and the federal parliament to Australia. And because they would be a Commonwealth would called be the Commonwealth of America, still hold a bicameral parliament and more than likely have cabinet appointed from elected members rather than the case at the moment where not one single member of the cabinet is appointed by the people.

Actually , Queen Elizabeth II in Australian, Canadian and New Zealand politics has no executive power at all, so in this regard America would probably have the same level of autonomy and sovereignty as now.

I think culturally the Commonwealth of America would be as a nation less militant than now. The rights of free citizens would have been extended to all sooner, certainly under English common law no person could be recognised as the property of another and how this came about in the USA is somewhat of a mystery to me.
Also because the constitution would be different, the 2nd Amendment which gives Americans the right to hold firearms would not exist, so I suspect that the place would be safer.

So in all consideration without the dilemmae of slavery and guns in society, America would have been a better place.

July 02, 2006

Horse 582 - Why?

Why was Rooney sent off?
Why did Figo start the match after being suspended in the previous match?

Neither of these questions can be answered within the realms of sanity. Luis Figo's start of this match was as the result of a FIFA directive - conspring against England. When Rooney was sent off for a harmless shove, England were reduced to 10 men and Sven had to reshuffle things to put on Crouch.

In the end neither side could score in regulation time and the match ended in the standard farce, the penalty shoot-out. This means that for all tournaments under Sven Goan Eriksson, England were never beaten in free play even once.

I'm disappointed with the whole thing.

England 0

Portugal 0
(on penalties)

July 01, 2006

Horse 581 - I Say, Still Repeal the Second

All the way back on 20th January 2005 I commented in Horse 280 about a report in which Chicago had overtaken Washington as the murder capital of the world. My general comment about this was that if gun ownership wasn't seen as a constitutional right and if less people had them, then people wouldn't be using them to kill each other.

I find about 3 days ago that a pro-gun person who is intent on having an argument, has provided an incoherant set of statements and then asked me to provide a reply... this is that reply.

First, let's revisit the Second Amendment shall we?

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. - 2nd Amendment

As with all documents, you need to look at the intent of the legislation and also the character of the language as it would have been used.

A well regulated Militia - this is fairly straighforward. A Militia is basically a small unit of troops be they organised by the state, freemercenaries or on a contract or hire basis. If you bear in mind the simple fact that the USA was borne from a war and could not have provided a standing military immediately then this makes sense.

being necessary to the security of a free State - again this refers to the nation and its ability to defend itself. The straw that finally broke the camel's back as it were was the specific imposition of taxes on the 13 colonies. Despite several key players actually having fought for the British against the French (George Washington etc) the 13 colonies wanted to show themselves as distinct, ie a Free State.

the right of the people to keep and bear Arms - This is a collective statement and talks about the people as a group. Also keep in mind that the document was intended to be presented to the parliament of the United Kingdom, "the people" in context refers to the nation and not the individual.
Also, "bearing Arms" in general parlance of the late 18th century generally meant that one was going to fight in the army. Whilst it may be true that arms can be borne by brother against brother, yet again this is meant as an external document.

shall not be infringed - What is an infringement? An infringement is not a transgression of the law but rather a violation of something or when something as been exceeded. Do we therefore take it to mean that the right shall not be exceeded or violated? Yes!

The arguments that are always put forward in these arguments are threefold. Self-Defence, prevention against tyranny and the actual right are always held up.

Self-Defence - A gun is an instrument who's sole purpose is to either maim or kill people. Nobody EVER has the right to do either.
Prevention Against Tyranny - Would a small group of individuals be able to stop a tyrannical government with a modern mechanised army with a show of force? Of course not, to think otherwise is delusional.
The Actual Right - As stated above the right was intended in the defence of the nation not licence for people to own instruments of war. Used improperly the law is a dangerous thing with ramifications that were never intended.

I honestly think that the Second Amendment was intended for a limited time until the proper facilities of government were installed. As an 18th century stop-gap it worked very well but in a modern context is a dangerous thing.