October 31, 2006

Horse 653 - Nohackember

Mr B has come up with an interesting idea. Following on from the familiar Rocktober in which music is to be played at 11 or louder the month that follows is to be called Nohackember. The idea is that there is to be no hacking during the month of November. This however leaves me with a quandry based on the definition of hack.

Hack -
1.(verb) to cut, notch, slice, chop, or sever (something) with or as with heavy, irregular blows (often fol. by up or down).
2.(verb) to damage or injure by crude, harsh, or insensitive treatment; mutilate; mangle

This is pretty straightforward. The broad definition of the verb implies that during Nohackember, we aren't supposed to cut each other down. This sounds like a good idea but I'd like to see certain statutes of limitations on it.

What happens for instance if someone actually needs pulling down from their pedastal? If someone is doing something stupid then do they need hacking? Gentleness and kindness should be the key drivers here. I see a major exception that could be argued - does Nohackember include everyone in the world? Would I lose my right to cynicism in the name of humour?

How about on immutable issues such as what is right and wrong, perceived injusticies, having a whinge or on the subject of Man Utd? These things need hacking, no?

Hack -
1.(noun) a person, as an artist or writer, who exploits, for money, his or her creative ability or training in the production of dull, unimaginative, and trite work; one who produces banal and mediocre work in the hope of gaining commercial success in the arts.
2.(noun) a writer who works on the staff of a publisher at a dull or routine task; someone who works as a literary drudge.

The other definition directly affects this column. I could be described as a hack very easily, though I've not seen any reward for my "quality" journalistic talent. If you want it, you can buy it. Golden Arches on the banners, Samsung on my tie, cash for comments, I'll do it to a degree. If someone wants to pay me $1,000,000 to write a puff piece on SUVs then I'll do it.

One thing you can't buy however is my integrity, I will remain the voice of reason. Statistics tell me that over 50 people a day pass through the doors to this little off-ramp on the information super-highway, and you know why? I might spout crap, but it's a different kind of crap En quatre couleurs.

So then, I fail under both conditions for Nohackember unless of course in typically Rolloesque fashion, I change the rules. Nohackember becomes... No hack; ember! In other words, give up merely cutting people down but raze them to the ground. It's a brand new age of illumination I tell you - well you cant actually be any more illuminated then being on fire can you? Or is that incinerated?

October 30, 2006

Horse 652 - A Thought

Here's a thought.
...........................................................................100% - done.

Today's thought is:

I rather like ginger snaps.

Yes, that'll do. I might think of something else later.

Horse 651 - Halloween Annoys Me

Apart from the fact that I think that premise about sending kids out into the night dressed as little devils, ghoulies and ghosts annoys me. I also don't like the fact that they come to your house and then demand lollies for the priviledge of annoying you in the first place. Imagine my contempt at a flyer which happened to come in the mail which said that "some children will be coming around on Tuesday night so could you please be prepared".


I will not be prepared. I don't see why I should be forced to take part in a stupid "holiday" which has been appropriated from Celtic pagan religions. More importantly I don't understand why I should give candy to children in a country in which we don't actually have Halloween. Thankfully Halloween wasn't celebrated in Britain before the 20th Century (or Ireland for that matter) and didn't travel to the colonies.

The commercial practice is only really from what I can gather a product of mass-marketing after the 50's. In the UK in particular, the day has warranted extra police to be deployed as youngsters have seen this as an opportunity for petty vandalism and damage. Reaction in Scotland, I've found has resulted in many houses placing signs out the front which read "Beggars, Go Home!" which I found somewhat amusing.

I bet that these were the same children who last year threw eggs over my Ka. Because of the proteins in egg, it means that they're highly unkind to the duco of motor cars. Quite frankly I should found the little gromits and made them clean up their mess. If we actually voted for a National Annoy The **** Out Of Your Neighbours Day then we'd all have something to answer for.

Thankfully Halloween is a Tuesday so I will be out playing football, so this means that I won't have to deal with the potential snotnoses.

October 28, 2006

Horse 650 - Halloween

I think it's just around the corner, and to be honest it's isn't celebrated in Australia at all but I thought it would be interesting to look into the reasons why it exists.

Halloween is in principle similar to Vampire Day but unlike Vampire Day, Halloween is more about Zombies. I make reference to the following from Horse 566.
Vampires, Ninjas and Pirates are unionised labour. They have their own health care fund and superannuation plans. This is yet another reason why they need sorted mail.
Zombies are similar to Vampires in that they're both undead. Zombies however do not have unionised labour laws and as such have to negotiate their own individual workplace contracts. In the latter part of the 20th century this led to minor rioting in the southern states of the USA.

Zombies are not in fact arguing for equal pay for equal work. What they are essentially campaigning for is increases to overtime rates. Most Zombies although they work more slowly and frequently use up sick leave, can work as many as 23 hours in a day.

The other major issue facing Zombies is that of workplace safety. Vampires for instance can not work with exposure to sunlight; so there are many of them working in photographic dark rooms. Zombies have the unique problem of limbs falling off and so most of them would prefer office type positions but sadly most of these seem to be already filled by Pirates (who make excellent customer service staff on account of their loud voices) and Ninjas who by stealth have already taken many office jobs.
Zombies argue that since Pirates and Ninjas hate each other that workplace moral in such an organisation is compromised and therefore they themselves should be considered for such positions.

The main drawback is that because most Zombies move only very slowly, most of them miss their job interviews and because of this Zombies remain part of hidden unemployed because undead people are unable to government benefits.

So there you go, Halloween is really about the undead class labour struggle - which is rather like Labour Day. No hang on, it's exactly like Labour Day, because the Labor Party has about 90% of its members who are undead... except Kim Beasley who's obviously some sort of Were-Person.

October 27, 2006

Horse 649 - We Still Don't Like Your Taxes

In 1775 the American Revolution was sparked over the imposition of a tax on foodstuffs and in particular tea, which was viewed as tyrannical and opressive. 231 years later another row has broken out over taxation, and in this case it's actually on British soil.

The U.S. Embassy in London owes more than £1,000,000 for the Vehicle Congestion Charge in London. City of London authorities say the charge on driving in the centre of the city is a road toll and diplomats have to pay it like anyone else. Washington says it is a tax and diplomats are exempt.

The U.S. Embassy has refused to pay the charge since July 2005. Several other embassies have also refused but London says the U.S. embassy is the worst offender by far. London's outspoken Mayor Ken Livingstone caused a flap earlier this year when he branded U.S. ambassador Robert Tuttle a "chiselling little crook" for refusing to pay.

Drivers who fail to pay the daily £8 charge by midnight the following day face a fine of up to £150.

"It is for the British authorities to decide what is a tax and what is not a tax in the UK," Livingstone said. "Both the UK government and the Greater London Authority consider the congestion charge a charge for a service: reduced congestion. The U.S. Embassy benefits from the reduction in congestion."

He said British diplomats in the United States paid American tolls and charges. "U.S. diplomats should respect British law and pay the congestion charge," he added. The U.S. Embassy has not made an official comment but has previously said its lawyers believe diplomats are exempt from the charge under treaty.

Politically is this different to say Iraq, in which the U.S. was exempt from international law?

October 23, 2006

Horse 648 - Fallen Asleep in the Light

If God's on our side, then God is a joker,
Asleep on the job, his children fall over,
Out through the door and straight to the sky,
I don't want to die...!

Everybody's Gone To War - Nerina Pallot

I met My Maker, I made Him cry
And on my shoulder He asked me why
His people wont fly through the storm,
I said listen up Man, they dont even know You're born.
D'Ya Know What I Mean? - Oasis

I haven't written about what's on the iPod or what sort of music is currently running around my space for quite some time. Mainly because to extract the statistics is a dull process, but every so often you will end up with the odd few in combination that make you ask yourself questions, like the two stanzas as shown above.

I suspect that Nerina Pallot isn't a Christian, and I very much doubt that Noel Gallagher is but they do pose a very potent and scary question. That is, how come people on the outside of the church instinctively know what we're supposed to be doing despite us hiding away in our little hidey-holes not trying to offend them?

I seriously doubt that they'd actually want the gospel preached at them, but even they can see a gaping failure in our ability to stand up for what we believe in. It's as almost as if, the enemy actually wants a decent opponent to attack rather than a walk in victory. People inherantly like a contest, and when we don't provide one they're annoyed.

From our point of view, what doe it actually say about us if we can't be bothered to a) defend the gospel or more importantly b) tell it? Is this some secret defiance against the standing orders to go make disciples? That order as far as I know remains unchanged.

Countless the souls that are stumbling in darkness.
Why do we sleep in the light?
Jesus commands us to go make disciples,
This is our cause, This is the fight.

Why do we sleep in the light? Asleep on the job, his children fall over, they dont even know You're born.
Quite scathing aint it? If this is the impression we send out, then quite frankly, we're crap.

Horse 647 - Bye Bye Schumacher

There is a distinct difference between greatness and being a champion. A champion without honour is no champion at all. - Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen

Ever since the Belgian GP of 1991 some 15 years ago, Michael Schumacher has worked his way to being 7 times World Drivers Champion amidst much controversy.
From his collisions with Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve at cruicial moments in the championship race, to other moments where by regulation
or tactic, Schumacher's career has never been far away from courting criticism.

Whatever you happpen to think of the man, he has won a staggering 91 Grands Prix, finished on the podium some 154 times and driven some races showing a supreme amount of skill at driving a motor car.

Today's Brazillian GP marks the final outing of Schumacher in a Grand Prix. I'm not afraid to admit this, but I think that the sport will be better off for his leaving. Despite the millions of dollars being thrown around the paddock in a world where nobility counts for nought, 2007 just has the hint of being a tad fairer for all.

Bye bye Schumacher - Don't let the door bang on your arse as you leave.

October 20, 2006

Horse 646 - Technically Speaking

I found that when I was in America, people commented on my accent being distinctly different. This is quite obvious, but the differences between the two broad classes actually have to do with construction of vowels and more specifically the glottal stop. This in fact somewhat strange as both are more or less decended from Irish variants - in the case of America this was because of emmigration and Australia it was more to do with transportation, so the formaer rather than then latter should have a "richer class" of speaker.

Dialect does have a great deal to contribute as well, with Australia picking up Cockney and Northern turns of phrase, reflecting the criminal element on which the country was started. At any rate the techincal differences are vast, and the following are the distinct causes I think.

In many areas the American "t", when not the initial consonant in a word, is pronounced closer to a "d", and in some cases can disappear altogether. Thus latter and butter sounds more like ladder and budder, and words like twenty and dentist can sound like twenny and Dennis. Why do Americans pronounce t as d? Perhaps because to pronounce the frequent "r"s at the end of words ending in "-er" it is easier to say "-der" than "-ter".

In Britain, "t" is generally pronounced like a "t", but there are areas the glottal stop is very well known. This is the sound in between the two vowels in uh-oh, or the initial consonant in honest. In these two examples, and others like them, the glottal stop occurs as much in America as in Britain. But the glottal stop that replaces the "t" in the Cockney and Glasgow dialects is much stronger; imagine bracing for a punch in the belly when you make the sound.

As an interesting side note, Americans sometimes replace the "d" in a British word with a "t", as if hypercorrecting "d" back into the more "correct" "t". I"ve heard "Wimbleton" on ESPN and FOX Sports, found that spelling in the Webster's which is the major American encyclopedia, and whilst looking, even found cases of "Wimpleton". This confusion is borne out by Americans trying to imitate a Cockney accent by putting a glottal stop in place of "d" instead of "t" , which sounds quite odd to an English person.

In Britain, the glottal stop occurs in informal speech in many areas, although with Estuary English, perhaps not informal anymore. The association of the glottal stop with lower classes or Cockneys typically also includes dropping of "h"s , and dropping the g in -ing words.

The other major difference that I was told about specifically with me was that I'll insert "l" and remove "r" from certain words. This lies in the almost unique aspect of Australian English that we have very sharp vowels but are a non-rhotic nation.

Rhotic speakers will pronounce the r in barn, park, cart, fart, whereas non-rhotic speakers won't, making no distinction between barn and (auto)bahn. Most of America is rhotic, with the notable exception of the Boston area and New York City. SE Britain is apparently the source of non-rhotic. England is non-rhotic, apart from the SW and some ever-diminishing northern areas. Scotland and Ireland are rhotic. In the movie The Princess Bride, the bishop (Peter Cook) over-emphasized the non-rhotic accent by loudly announcing "mawidge" (marriage), and Americans often joke about eastern New Englanders who "pahk the cah in Hahvahd yahd".

In Britain, the non-rhotic accent gives rise to linking "r"s, where an otherwise unpronounced "r", in "clear", is pronounced if followed by a vowel, "clear away". An intrusive "r" is an "r" added in such a situation where none actually exists, so "law and order" becomes "law ran order". In some cases, there is even hypercorrection, such as adding an "r" (Louisa - Louiser), especially when a non-rhotic person moves to a rhotic area. But if Clair hears the "r" she'll correct you.

In contrast, in the North and Scotland, r's roll stronger. Even d's can be r'd. I've been called a bluhreeiree (bloody idiot) a few times. Worse is the fact that Scottish and Geordie have stolen words from Gaelic; Scottish Gaelic is different to Irish Gaelic which futher fuels the confusion. The quaint term to refer to one's children as bairns falls hopelessly into incredulity if you happened to mention the great Scotsman Robbie Burns. Inadvertanly Scots and Geordies may actually be speaking about his children, and if "bairns" are in the "burns unit" in "burnside" you'll have a right old mess.

So then, where does this leave me? Well thankfully thanks to McTelevision and the great and powerful Beeb, Australians in general have no problem in understanding Americans or Brits. Conversely because of the way that Australian sounds are constructed, they can in fact pick up everyone else's accents easily with either coaching or by immersion. Americans on the other hand always sound odd when affecting any British accent, except for Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones, but that's due to very strict & formal coaching.

October 18, 2006

Horse 645 - A Strange Frondship

This morning I was standing at a pedestrian crossing and saw a chap in a red Mazda Miata driving merrily along with a potted palm in the passengers seat. He was driving along looking as happy as larry, while the pot plant was actually buckled in; with the wind rustling through its leaves - clearly an item.

I could hear sniggering by the people standing next to me and wondered what was going through the mind of this man. In this age where people are free to live their lives as they please, what makes a person want to enter a relationship with his pot plant? Is it right for him to be cursed with such slurs as "Tree Hugger" or "Chlorophile"? Surely this is a crime against nature, I mean there's even a clash of basic genetic material. I've never heard for instance of any example of cross-pollination of RNA and DNA either by grafting or other methods (the mind boggles even at the very thought).

I don't even know what such a person would actually have in common with a potted palm. It not like they could share common interests other than a love of gardening is it? I don't care how much of a green thumb this man thinks he has, he doesn't posess any foliage at all. They don't even respirate the same way - one of them exhales Oxygen and the other exhales Carbon Dioxide, but in that respect I suppose that one really could not survive without the other... literally.

Am I reading too much into this? Or should I let the principle of Leaf and let leaf rule here?

October 17, 2006

Horse 644 - It's Dark Outside & Inside Today

I've been thinking about my life lately.
Those of you who know me know that "I've been thinking about my life" lingers somewhere on my list of phrases between "I need to go to the bathroom" and "I'm going in for my prostate exam today."

Given the fact that I have a morbid imagination, sitting around thinking about life never comes to any good. I inevitably depress myself, and the main effect of that is that I get unusually quiet. Being quiet at all is pretty damn unusual for me, honestly.

I've come this far through life by barreling through it like a blinded bull in mating season, and I think it's worked out well. Overall, I know that my problems are small and petty, and I'm well-adjusted enough that people feel comfortable discussing their lives with me, since I'm a good listener and won't try to butt in with my own problems. I just don't think my problems are worth talking about, since I know that given time and effort they'll work out without anyone ever needing to hear me whining.

But I turn 28 in four weeks, and the state things are in has me thinking hard about where I am, and where I hoped to be at this age when I was younger.

You see, when I started writing this sort of thing in earnest, I didn't just write jokes to make people laugh, but to make a point. The jokes told a story in and of themselves, pointed out little things that wouldn't necessarily have gotten expressed in narrative, and while I'm not deluding myself into believing that I was doing any sort of hard-hitting journalism, I like to think that people at least "remembered" what I was talking about and learned something.

I'm okay with that to a point - you write what you know, and I know my own little quirks and anxieties well enough to know what other people will find funny about them. And certainly, comedy as a method of self-examination is an established and often popular form.

But I think about if I'm doing enough with my voice, even in the most insignificant ways. But here I sit watching countless horrors inflicted by people on each other and the world out of fear, ignorance and anger while I just shake my head and wait for the political climate to change. Were two World Wars so that I could sit on my hands in freedom and shake my head at the ridiculous lengths people will go through to appease their fears and keep themselves in power? I vote diligently and in ways I think are responsible, but what am I doing, really? Talking about how blackjack dealers named Howard and Peter Costello will take your money while conveniently ignoring how the government is afraid of my tiny tubes of TOILETRIES while soldiers are going out every day and dying in what has rapidly become a self-fulfilling prophecy of hate and unrest.

What am I DOING with myself? What SHOULD I be doing with myself? It's never too early or late to be asking yourself this question, and it seems like I haven't asked it in far too long.

Part of this goes back to my job, too. I'm not complaining about the job itself; I have no right to complain about the commute. But what am I doing here? My job here is not to entertain and inform, it's to make people give their dosh to the very same blackjack dealers named Howard and Peter Costello. Can I really say that this is what I plan to be doing for the rest of my life? Can I say that this is what I want to be doing by this time next year?

What does that make me? That's a stickier question, and it's contributing to a lot of time spent staring at the ceiling. What am I doing, and how does that compare to what I should be doing?

What have I accomplished over the last year that I can be proud of, really? When I look back at 2006, will I look at it as the year that I became financially stable and paid off my debts? Is that what I'm wanting out of life? Will this be the year that I gave up on the succession of dreams I had been living previously and settled for stability?

So I usually shut up about it and keep these kind of things to myself so that they don't bother other people. But sometimes I can't help but wonder, and that's when I slow down and try and figure out why. There will be of me wondering what I'm doing at this stage of my life at the moment, and then I'll return to being the weirdo you're used to; it's just that sometimes, you can't help but sit down and dump your troubles into your keyboard, which after it's all said and done aren't really worth bothering about in the first place.

*By age 28 William Pitt the Younger was already PM of England, was up for re-election and decided to annexe Australia.

October 16, 2006

Horse 643 - Murdoch Wants To Get Rid Of The ABC

I opened today's edition of The Australian to find an editorial (that was pointed to via the frony splash) advocating the sale of the ABC. Now whilst this is perhaps not unexpected from a Murdoch publication, it actually sets a dangerous thought in the mind of the Federal Government who is intent on selling every single damn thing it owns.


This has been stolen without permission. If the Australian wishes to charge me for the use of this article, then they're welcome. I did buy this edition of the newspaper.

Rudi Michelson: Privatise the ABC
With its poor performance, entrenched ideological bias and 'Vietcong-style' industrial strife, surely it's time we sold the public broadcaster

October 16, 2006
THE ABC in 1932 comprised 12 radio stations and was formed mainly because Australians were besotted by the British empire. Australia wanted its version of the BBC.
Postmaster-general James Fenton was typical of sentiment on the ABC Bill in Hansard in March 1932: "(The ABC will) deepen our empire spirit considerably if we, through the wireless, can listen to the greatest British artists, speakers and lecturers."

Looking back, the birth of the ABC is hardly spirit deepening. The ABC was highly censorious. It scrutinised scripts of plays to excise words such as damn, it banned certain kinds of dance music and refused outright to play jazz. Jazz was the music of black Americans. You had to apply for a licence to own a radio and only 6 per cent of Australians were affluent enough to own a radio.

Fast forward to century 21 and the reasons for establishing the ABC have become totally irrelevant. It is riddled with acrimony and operates in a range of crowded competitive markets.

The ABC today comprises businesses that include television, radio, 38 retail outlets, book publishing (over 120 titles each year), magazines, videos and DVDs, contemporary music including Renee Geyer and Kate Ceberano and logo licensing. These are all crowded commercial markets, yet Australian taxpayers are subsidising ABC businesses to the tune of nearly $800 million each year. In broadcasting, Australia has 627 operating radio stations and 138 TV stations, plus pay TV. The internet is a further ubiquitous source of information and entertainment. Why is a government broadcaster competing in this mix?

Government broadcasting is favoured by totalitarian states and Islamic theocracies. New Zealand has no government broadcaster and the CBC in Canada gets 60 per cent of its revenue from commercials.

After Australia's spate of privatisations in the 1980s and '90s, it is intriguing that the ABC was spared. Qantas, Commonwealth Bank, the ports, airports, energy, water and others were privatised. It was OK to privatise monopolies and duopolies in essential services, yet not a government body that provides entertainment. The ABC is not a smooth-running organisation. More than 3000 complaints each quarter from fed-up audiences, staff disputes, court cases, industrial action and personal vendettas are common. The latest acrimony was last month's extraordinary threat of "Vietcong-style" attacks by staff for more pay. With a fixed budget, expect more service deterioration if management capitulates.

In July it was the staff campaign against the ABC board for acting on legal advice not to publish a dirt book on rival radio broadcaster Alan Jones. This venting included a widely signed complaint, exclamations of outrage all over the ABC airwaves including a school-marmish berating on Media Watch. Yet all this heat ignored the question of why the ABC has a book publishing business. Further is the moral bankruptcy of using the ABC's supposed scarce funds for a book attacking a person's reputation and private life.

ABC acrimony has various targets and the airwaves are used to attack people. Here's just one example of how our broadcaster treats Australia's elected Prime Minister. On nationally televised The Glass House, compere Wil Anderson (April 30, 2004) responded to a taped excerpt of John Howard:

Howard: "And I always admire somebody who in his own way for his own reasons forms a conscientious objection on something."

Anderson: "Bullshit. He admires someone who forms a conscientious objection on something (sarcastically). Yep, like the war in Iraq. Or the treatment of indigenous people. Or being screwed by a free trade agreement. Gee, John Howard must have admiration coming out of his arse!"

I challenge the Friends of ABC to name a worse example of Australian broadcasting. There are more examples like this - from the ABC. The ABC complaints process is pathetic. Material such as the above is exempt because it's in a so-called comedy program. What's worse is that ABC management and the Government tolerate personal abuse and indulgences on the airwaves as just another day at the ABC.

ABC TV and radio ratings are poor. Audiences prefer the commercial networks even with advertising. A typical week's free-to-air TV ratings are: Channel 9, 28.5 per cent; Channel 7, 27.1 per cent; Channel 10, 23.7 per cent; ABC TV, 15.8 per cent. If your footy team performed like this every week, it would be asked to leave the competition. Yet the commercial stations pay tax on profits while the low-rating ABC sucks up tax dollars and complains it doesn't get more.

The ABC is positioned in a no-man's land: it can't compete with the commercial networks, but also is too big and dull to be a niche provider. There is nothing special or unique about ABC programming. ABC radio mimics its commercial rivals with the main difference being a much fatter diet of political content. When the ABC website says one of its three "must see" TV programs is the tired British Midsomer Murders you know you're in Blandville.

Part of the dullness comes from the ABC being a big politically correct straitjacket. The dominant personalities are Phillip Adams on Radio National, ex-Whitlam staffer Kerry O'Brien on TV and perennial leftists on Media Watch, At the Movies, Four Corners et al. If the ABC decides to become true to its claim of diversity, it would stop appointing same-olds.

Tonight ABC managing director Mark Scott will release the latest ABC editorial policies at the Sydney Institute. The ABC website says it publishes the most extensive set of broadcasting guidelines in Australia. This boast is like the old Soviet Union's claims of the most extensive human rights laws in the world. But the ABC needs overhaul; rewording the most extensive guidelines in Australia is just tinkering.

Privatising the ABC would be a bonanza for taxpayers. They would be spared the nearly $800 million liability each year and sales of ABC businesses would fetch multi-billion dollar prices. Also, profitability from future services would be taxed just like the ABC's competitors. But any government knows that privatisation would incite a squealorama led by the inner-city set who need their soft-left group-think reinforcement. More valid resistance may come from people who don't want commercials. Yet SBS TV's transition to semi-commerciality has been generally hailed as a success.

Further, historian Ken Inglis's book This is the ABC: The Australian Broadcasting Commission, 1932-83 states that both the Scullin Labor government and Lyons UAP government supported an ABC Bill that allowed private sponsorship. This was overturned by amendment after pressure from newspaper proprietors who did not want advertising competition. Hardly a legitimate reason.

There are different models of privatising the ABC without reducing broadcasting services. Over the past two decades, governments have become adept at privatisations especially at getting improvements in service quality. Broadcasting asset sales would be subject to strict service standards and air time would not be reduced.

A new-look ABC would carve out the retail and other fringe businesses, say goodbye to the Ultimo bureaucracy and see a number of smaller media groups of TV and radio stations similar in size and diversity to the successful mid-size public company Southern Cross Broadcasting. First preference may be management buy-outs especially in regional Australia where the people who operate the radio station could own it. Larger asset groupings should be sold to new media entrants.

Talented and hard-working ABC staff would benefit from greater rewards, more autonomy and more professional workplaces.

The ABC is becoming less relevant and less credible. It started out with roughly 50 per cent market share of Australian media in 1932; today its total media market share must be 5 per cent or less. The Government has a clear role to regulate media, but there is no compelling reason why it should own and operate an entertainment business.

Rudi Michelson, a financial public relations consultant in Melbourne, is a fellow of the Financial Services Institute of Australasia.

Dear Sirs,

I write this in response to Rudi Michelson's article on the 16th of October calling for the privatisation of the ABC. I suspect that his original starting point of argument is in fact fundamentally flawed.

The ABC as a public broadcaster has two unique points on which it can never hope to please anyone with. If it tows the government line then it will be accused as being the government's mouthpiece. If in the event it attacks the government, then it will get its funding progressively cut. Clearly there is a fine line to be straddled.
Mr Michelson cited an example from The Glass House where in the name of satire, Wil Anderson made light hearted fun over issues which this very publication has asked serious questions? Come on now, which is it to be?

Further to this they cite the ABC being set up in response to the BBC and in deference to Britain. It is argued that the government should not hold an office by which it should be allowed to inform and entertain. Is this because The Australian is scared? Remember it is proudly owned by News Corporation, which as part of the Fox conglomerate also happens to own half of Foxtel.
How then does Foxtel raise funds? Foxtel is paid for by advertisers and subscribers. Now this is an interesting point - the BBC is paid for by subcribers (via the TV licence), in principle they are both user a pays system. In 1974 when the ABC dropped the licence fee of the basis of "equity", it was then forced to live in the government's pocket. I bet that The Australian was there 32 years ago also beying for blood. Hypocritically what does Foxtel do now? Charge a TV licence fee under a different name. Or is the newspaper prepared to distance itself from its parent corporation?

Another example Michelson gave was that New Zealand has no government stations. Has The Australian resorted to lying? TVNZ which runs One and Two in NZ is a Crown Entity and as such is in principle identical to the ABC. It is fully funded by the New Zealand Government, or has this fact been conveniently forgotten as well?

Hypocracy, Lies and Deception dressed up as editorial journalism. An Australian reader is an imformed Australian, really? Quite frankly I expected more from this newspaper.

Yours Sincereley,
Andrew Rollason

An owner of the ABC who doesn't want your filthy, immoral and corrupt mits near it.

October 15, 2006

Horse 642 - I Won't Keep My Opinion to Myself

You're a big eejit!
Don't touch what doesn't belong to you. No-one intentionally plays catch with a live hand-grenade so why start now? If you want to eat fish then expect bones, and if you want to start talking crap then expect pain. Didn't common sense tell you not that what's off limits is always off limits, no matter what the circumstances?

Doesn't your conscious suggest that this is a very very bad idea? If not, hadn't you better ask it? Blindness doesn't have to result in stupidity does it?

October 11, 2006

Horse 641 - Life Imitates Art

I was looking in the Trading Post Magazine for a new car for a friend of mine. I just burst out laughing when I read this, but the car does seem like a reasonable buy for the money.

Price $12,960
Vehicle: 2000 Ford Falcon AU S Pack
Sedan - Red
Automatic Transmission
Distance: 115350km
Engine: Inline-6 4L
Plate: QGQ-175

Air-Con, Alloy Wheels, Front Air Bags, ABS Brakes, Remote Central Locking, Cruise Control, CD Player, RACV Inspected.

Now then, guess the headline that ran with the article - it's just so obvious isn't it?

Horse 640 - I Bished

1996 - Lowndes/Murphy - Number 1 plate

Craig Lowndes as the 1996 ATCC Champion won the right to wear the number 1 plate on his car until the next time the championship was run. The usual numbers of 05 and 15 were changed to reflect Mobil's wishes and for a better asthetic look on the side of their cars. So for Bathurst 1996, the Lowndes/Murphy car wore the number 1 plate.

This was not an altogether odd thing to do either. For the 1973 running of the Bathurst 1000, the Brock/Chivas car wore the number 1 after Brock had been running 28 for the 1973 ATCC Season.

For 1997 the organisation had been taken over by AVESCO, and so the Lowndes/Murphy car wore 15 which Murphy had campaigned to a very respectable 4th in the championship. The 05 car which was touted at the time as Brock's last Bathurst came nowhere in the great race with co-driver Skaife.

The rules on who had the right to take the number 1 plate had also changed. Since Bathurst was now a championship event, one had to wait until the next year before they could take over. Strictly speaking, could Lowndes/Murphy had worn 1 in 1997? Probably maybe.

October 10, 2006

Horse 639 - The Promised Land

"Andrew is at times more likely to daydream than pay attention to his work. Sometimes in art, his imagination goes to places that a normal little boy's doesn't" - Miss Silver, Year 4

You know what? Nearly 20 years later, I think that Miss Silver may have been right. Oops.
I misspelled Israellites as well.

October 09, 2006

Horse 638 - Please Don't Vote For Me

In the town of Blaine in Minnesota a candidate who is on the ballot paper for the city council elections is currently campaigning for his opponent and hoping to lose the election. Paul Herold has been officially told by the offcials that it is too late to remove his name from the ballot list, but it seems that Mr Herold has already landed himself another job and would not have time to actively represent his electorate.

Apparantly he's phoned up friends and family and appeared on local news media doing his level best to not get elected. In a bizarre twist of fate and despite this his actually still managed to advance to the next stage of elections and is now pitted against the imcumbant candidate.

Herold paid for advertising that offered to drive voters to the polling stations as long as they pledged to support anyone but him. It didn’t work. The extra media exposure made him a pseudo-celebrity in the small community. Some argued that they wouldn’t have turned out to vote had he not inspired such political curiousity.

To strike him from the ballot paper is too late, but if he gets elected against his will he would more than likely resign instantly which would mean another $30,000 would have to be spent in organising another election.

Herold stated that the only way he can get out of this would be to die, or move out of the district. Herold has been advised to offer to join the incumbent’s campaign in an effort to kickstart her campaign.

Reports have surfaced that Katherine Kolb has refused his help, arguing that his endorsement is likely to help his own candidacy. In one of the more bizarre election campaigns, a candidate who doesn’t want to run beat a candidate who wanted to win, and is poised to beat an incumbent who doesn’t want to lose. In Blaine, they may end up with a politician who doesn’t want to serve, that may have to because there is no alternative, proving that in politics, you never really know what you are getting when you cast your vote.

That's democracy at work for you - government of the people, by the people, for the people; a nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal and really really STUPID.
Apologies to Mr Lincoln

October 08, 2006

Horse 637 - Henry Beats the General

Every year in October the nation stops to watch one of the biggest motorsport events in the world, the running of the Bathurst 1000. Some 7 hours after they begin and 1000km later, competitors will have charged around a tourist drive 161 times in the usually sleepy town of Bathurst in the NSW goldfields.

With the passing of 9 times winner Peter Brock this year's event started out emotionally but as soon as the green light came on at 10am the gloves went on and sentiment was blown out the exhaust pipe.

Holden's favourite son Mark Skaife lasted only a few hundred yards with a slipping clutch before he was smacked from behind and with him, the red menace's fortunes went to shash - by about lunchtime their second car was also kaput. By the end of the day, it emerged that the town was not painted red but blue.

The winner Craig Lowndes, dedicated yesterday's Bathurst 1000 victory to his mentor and the man who won more races at Mount Panorama than any other - Peter Brock. He also promised to take care of the inaugural Peter Brock Trophy, likely to spend its first year in Ford's headquarters. He and Jamie Whincup ended Holden's seven-year winning streak as a record number of fans paid tribute to the driver known as the King of the Mountain.

The day was especially challenging for Lowndes, a protege and friend of Brock. They went to the same school in Melbourne and played for the same football team. They stayed in close contact after Lowndes defected from Holden to Ford. Yesterday was Lowndes's second Bathurst win. His first was 10 years ago with Holden, when Brock was still part of the Holden Racing Team.

Lowndes increased his lead at the toop of the championship which means that if all keeps on going his way, it won't be 888 on the door next year but for the first time in 10 years, the number 1 plate will again be fixed to his car.

October 05, 2006

Horse 636 - We Didn't Start The Fire (But We Did Create a Lot of Confusion)

Billy Joel didn't start the fire, or so he says. If you look through the lyrics of his famous song, you soon realise that he didn't put things in chronological order either. Despite various attempts I've found to date the events, there are a number of outriders.

49 Harry Truman
49 Doris Day
49 Red China
49 Johnny Ray
49 South Pacific
48 Walter Winchell
49 Joe DiMaggio
50 Joe McCarthy
50 Richard Nixon
56 Studebaker
51 Television
50 North Korea
50 South Korea
53 Marilyn Monroe

51 Rosenbergs
51 H-bomb
51 Sugar Ray
53 Panmunjom
55 Brando
56 The King and I
51 And The Catcher In The Rye
53 Eisenhower
53 Vaccine
52 England's got a new queen
52 Marciano
53 Liberace
53 Santayana goodbye

53 Joseph Stalin
53 Malenkov
54 Nasser
53 Prokofiev
53 Rockefeller
58 Campanella
56 Communist Bloc
54 Roy Cohn
55 Juan Peron
54 Toscanini
41 Dacron
54 Dien Bien Phu Falls
52 Rock Around the Clock

55 Einstein
55 James Dean
55 Brooklyn's got a winning team
54 Davy Crockett
53 Peter Pan
56 Elvis Presley
55 Disneyland
52 Bardot
56 Budapest
56 Alabama
56 Khrushchev
56 Princess Grace
56 Peyton Place
56 Trouble in the Suez

57 Little Rock
57 Pasternak
56 Mickey Mantle
51 Kerouac
57 Sputnik
58 Chou En-Lai
57 Bridge On The River Kwai
58 Lebanon
58 Charles de Gaulle
58 California baseball
58 Starkweather homicides
62 Children of Thalidomide

59 Buddy Holly
59 Ben Hur
59 Space Monkey
59 Mafia
57 Hula Hoops
59 Castro
59 Edsel is a no-go
60 U2
60 Syngman Rhee
59 Payola
60 Kennedy
60 Chubby Checker
60 Psycho
60 Belgians in the Congo

61 Hemingway
61 Eichman
61 Stranger in a Strange Land
61 Dylan
61 Berlin
61 Bay of Pigs invasion
62 Lawrence of Arabia
64 British Beatlemania
62 Ole Miss
61 John Glenn
62 Liston beats Patterson
63 Pope Paul
63 Malcolm X
63 British Politician sex
63 J.F.K. blown away

60 Birth control
55 Ho Chi Minh
68 Richard Nixon back again
69 Moonshot
69 Woodstock
74 Watergate
74 Punk rock
77 Begin
81 Reagan
76 Palestine
76 Terror on the airline
79 Ayatollah's in Iran
79 Russians in Afghanistan

83 Wheel of Fortune
83 Sally Ride
83 Heavy metal suicide
82 Foreign debts
85 Homeless Vets
85 Crack
84 Bernie Goetz
88 Hypodermics on the shores
89 China's under martial law
85 Rock and Roller Cola wars

Now the things in bold are the events which for asthetic reason have been mushed and places swapped. For all you nerdy types out there, I've included an Excel chart which actually shows something perhaps not unexpected.
Nerdy People Please Click Here for the Excel spreadsheet
A graphical analysis of the dates shows that there is a marked spike in the values for things mentioned late in the song. Consequently this song dates as 1989 (which is also the last thing mentioned)

When you apply the theory to coin collecting you can date any given hoarde by the date of the last coin. With memory on the other hand, generally history books are written for things that have happened after the event; time acts as a filter and a lot of crap magically disappears. It is perhaps not surprising therefore that the things mentioned in the immediate past are only concepts rather than actual events.

For me this song sits in the same category as REM's It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine), Bob Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues and of course Don McLean's American Pie. It is very difficult to find anyone who can actually sing all three songs from memory - this is a feat which not even I can do.

October 04, 2006

Horse 635 - NZ Rugby Sevens

The tale of Rugby is a tumlutous one with many twists and turns, from the famed split that saw the Rugby League break off in 1909 to the eventual hosting of the Rugby World Cup in 1987. Few can dispute the utter wave of joy that swept England after they won the 2003 World Cup, or the bitterness when over the course of 12 months the Wallabies managed to lose all four trophies that they held (Cook Cup, Bledisloe Cup, Tri-Nations Trophy and the World Cup).

Of course most feared of all the rugby nations in the world is that of New Zealand. That little spit of islands lying 3 hours by plane off the coast of Australia, boasts a national side that even before the kick-off is likely to make their opponents weep, if for no other reason than their war dance the "Haka" before the match. When the Bledisloe is played, Australia always goes in as underdogs for the simple reason that if New Zealand were to lose, it would be a national disgrace.
Rugby is really the only sport played in anger in New Zealand and I do literally mean "in anger".

Is it perhaps little wonder then that when it comes to the Sevens variant of Rugby, New Zealand has won all World Tournaments bar 2006 when the tiny nation of Fiji stole the cup from under their noses. Is it little wonder then that the All Blacks coach Graham Henry came out this morning with the promise to "restore NZ Rugby pride and win back the 2006-07 series.Tenei te tangata puhuru huru. Nana nei i tiki mai. Whakawhiti te ra!" The last part taken directly from the Haka and means: This is the hairy man who fetched the Sun and caused it to shine again.

New Zealand's record in the Sevens format is so blistering that when it comes to their Commonwealth Games efforts, not only have they won all three Gold Medals for the three occasions it's been part, but the have also never lost a Commonwealth Games Rugby Sevens match.

Incidentally the USA leg of the tournament will be played San Diego's Petco Park on February 10-11, 2007. The pitch will line up so that one corner will line up with the foul lines from home plate.

October 02, 2006

Horse 634 - Three Mondays

The City of Sydney is bounded on three sides. To the north by the Kuring-Gai Plateau, to the south by the Woronora Plateau, to the west by the Blue Mountains and to the eastby the Pacific Ocean.

The last three weekends have been particularly interesting. The first week I saw the sun set into the Pacific Ocean, the second I managed to lose Tuesday almost in its entirety and this morning I saw the sun rise out of the Pacific Ocean.

Now I had seen the sun rise out of the ocean on a number of occasions and have even seen the little green flash that happens just before the sun rises, but when the sun sets it's something different, almost like the deep red sun is being extinguished by the water. One almost expects to see a giant puff of steam as it sinks below the surface.

If you want to know the truth, I did happen to see a giant puff of steam, but that particular cloud came from out the rear end of a 1990 Toyota Tercel - which was neither expected or nice - Poor old Kirby.

October 01, 2006

Horse 633 - Thomas

Sometimes when I'm in church I suspect that even if I'm listening to the same sermon as every one else that something either in my brain or maybe because I'm concentrating on something else like making sure the notes go to screen, causes me to take something away that either was not intended or alternatively was meant only for me.

Luke last nigth was talking about Galatians 6 and the close of the letter. I on the other hand was thinking about another comment he made part way through with regards the apostle Thomas. Now Thomas is sometimes derided as having little faith in the Bible when he demanded to see Christ's wounds, but perhaps there is another lesson to be learned here.

What is wrong with demanding proof?

If something is true then it should be able to be proved thus. Assume for a second that you happen to be a non-believer and you find someone who claims to be a Christian. Isn't it simply a matter of logic and common sense that you should be able to witness or notice a changed life? Or at very least find evidence?

Christ himself bore the scars of the price he had paid, but as Christians are we also required to be and act like Christ towards them? Thomas demanded proof probably out of a state of shock, but in the modern world where everything is plastic, fake and can be counterfeited and bought from a knock-off shop for $1.99, it would be very easy to see why people also demand proof.

Then of course if the proof isn't there, then this does bring into question what people claim. Just because something has a bill, doesn't mean it's a duck - if it looks like, sounds like and walks like a duck, then it's probably a safe bet that it is one or otherwise that thing with a bill mit just be a platypus.

Thomas demanded proof, why should the world be any different? What's wrong with giving people proof and truth?