December 29, 2006

Horse 696 - ABCDE & bits from Melbourne

Area-7 at the Espy is still a hard act to follow. This creaky old hotel in St Kilda does however manage to hold itself together whilst the people inside bounce up and down to the infectious ska that comes out of the place.

Maybe it's because they've disappeared off the radar for the last few months but Area-7 played nothing from any of their albums or EPs. The show I saw last night was for all intents and purposes, Area-7 as a covers band. People would yell stuff from the pit and almost without warning, they'd launch into whatever the first person said. Literally music on demand and it's a skill which few bands will even attempt.

The Melbourne Test has ended in 3 days with Australia rolling onto what could very well be the first whitewash in Ashes history. England elected to bat on the first day and could only muster 159 as the rain came, went and came again. In reply Australia played on a drying wicket and Hayden and Symonds who scored his maiden test century, made the English bowlers look like a Sunday club.
England's second innings was as dismal as the first and with grey skies above, the action on the pitch wasn't much better. The only real glimmer of class came from Monty Panesar who batting at No.11 had the sheer cheek to belt a Shane Warne delivery back over his head.
The Sydney Test on Jan 2 is the last hope for England to walk away from this with a shred of confidence: certainly it lies in tatters at the moment.

Eng 159 & 160 def by Aus 411

I have been exploiting Melbourne's tram network to the point of laziness. At one point I needed to go to a cashpoint machine and rather than walk the block to get there I saw that a tram was coming down the street and got on and off, thus saving me maybe a couple of hundred yards walk.
It's interesting that once you have a weekly Metcard, the idea of validating the trip once on just never dawns. If a connie were to inspect tickets, then it would still read the expiry date at the end of the week. In fact Connex has such a hard time counting the number of trips made that they're even running a mass campaign at the moment for people to validate their tickets.

The number of English people in Melbourne at the moment is scary. Assuming that the crowd was bi-partisan, than that by inference means that there's 40,000 running around the centre of town. For the moment the city sounds slightly skitzoid, with the voices of the Mother Country and the crosses of St George all around.

A thought just occured to me. One of Deano's favourite comments in church is that God replaces peoples colours with his own. Now if you look at the world's flags you'll find in principle a few basic designs.
a) the tricolour as invented by france, or horizontal like Germany and Austria
b) the cantoned flag - ala the USA, Australia, Malaysia
c) the religious flag - either with a cross or a crescent on
Seeing the crosses of St George around the place is interesting. When England took up the flag during the crusades, it was most definately saying to the world that they believed in and were fighting for God. The Union Flag whilst being British and not English is a combination of three crosses.
The United States on the other hand has a distinctive flag but it doesn't openly say anything about where it's heart lies. The coins and the banknotes declare "In God We Trust" but unlike England or say Pakistan, the flag ironically doesn't.
Meanwhile what does the Union Flag in the corner of the Australian Flag say?


December 24, 2006

Horse 695 - Postcards From History

Dear Abram,

The people here are very free and easy. We've been enjoying the nightlife and no mistake, but sadly they start demolition tommorrow so we'll be forced to leave. Still, as the wife says it will be something to look back on.


Dear Mum,

I'm having a wonderful time I think, therefore I am.

Rene Descartes

Dear Victoria,

I have arrived at a very large waterfall which I have decided to name after you. Your messsenger Stanley arrived last week, he is rather a presumputuous chap.

Dr David Livingstone

Dear Doris,

I know you must be terribly worried about me but please disregard what you read in the tabloids as it was Granny Smith who hit me. I trust that you'll understand the gravity of the situation.

Sir Issac Newtown

And finally I found one from Sir Samuel Morse:

Dear Dot,
Must dash.

December 22, 2006

iYear - 2006

In 2006 the total number of songs mainly due to increases in Podcast entries now sits at 5028. I still however detect a hint of bias in the statistics, though that's expected.

1. (NE) I'm Confused - Alan Partridge - 40 plays
2. (NE) Congratulations - Silvia Night - 35 plays
3. (20+) Love Like a Bomb - Oasis - 31 plays
4. (NE) Ramen 3bun Cooking - Ai Otsuka - 29 plays
5. (NE) LDN - Lily Allen - 28 plays
6. (1) Part of the Queue - Oasis - 28 plays
7. (20+) Please Leave the Train - London Underground Anouncement - 27 plays
8. (3) Lyla - Oasis - 27 plays
9. (5) Mind the Gap - London Underground Anouncement - 26 plays
10. (15) Wonderwall - Oasis - 25 plays
11. (20+) Exterminate - Dr Who - 24 plays
12. (6) The Hindu Times - Oasis - 24 plays
13. (20+) Fall to Pieces - Avril Lavigne - 23 plays
14. (20+) A Bell Will Ring - Oasis - 22 plays
15. (20+) Don't Look Back in Anger - Oasis - 22 plays
16. (20+) Lillibulero - BBC Radio 4 - 22 plays
17. (20+) Am I Paying For This Abuse - Blackadder - 21 plays
18. (20+) Due To Derail - CityRail Announcements - 21 plays
19. (20+) Katamari On The Rock - Katamari Damacy - 21 plays
20. (20+) Let There Be Love - Oasis - 21 plays

In similar fashion 15 of the top 20 were from the UK, and 4 of the 20 are under 30 seconds long. There are 5 re-entries into the top 20 and all of them are by Oasis. Of the top 100, 78 are from the UK. In the grand scheme of things, precious little has changed eh?

December 21, 2006

Horse 694 - The Content of Their Character

Shane Warne has announced his retirement from cricket today as the highest Test wicket taker of all time. Whilst he will be remembered for "The Ball of the Century", he'll also be remembered for:

Weather forecasts and bribery in India

Joe the Camerman

Lewd text messages

Being caught smoking whilst being the spokesman for Nicorette

Smashing a kid's camera in NZ

and those photos in a London hotel room

The paper today called him a colourful identity. The term "colourful" is usually reserved for mobsters and lords of the underworld of organised crime.

Nevertheless, Warney leaves as the hero of many a Test Tour, ripping through batting orders like a chainsaw through a box of kumquats. Full of bite and the once "Sheik of Tweak"

December 20, 2006

Horse 693 - Tom Cruise is Officially Bonkers

Either I've really gone mad and therefore need to be locked up or there really could be a shread of truth in the rumour that Victoria Beckham has been lines up to star in Tom Cruise's new Scientology film.

The former Spice Girl has apparently been picked to play an alien bride in The Thetan which based on the bizarre sci-fi cult, who believes in alien life forms.

Tom Cruise has had to bankroll the project himself after it was rejected by all the major film studios and is said to have picked Victoria for the role after being impressed by her "comic genius".

Certainly I'm starting to think that Tom Cruise at least could very well be an alien. If he's not an alien and Scientology is a fraud then he's certainly a wacko nutjob.

Thinking that Posh Spice is a comic genius... I think we should put Mr Cruise in one of those special jackets where he can hug himself all day long, la la la...

December 19, 2006

Horse 692 - Arrogant Prat!

Who are you to me?

I found this picture contained within a PDF of a prospectus for a merchant bank who is fast gaining a reputation for buying up everything. The accompanying caption is "Stand tall on your opposition". Now I don't necessarily think that I'd enjoy being friends with this person, for the simple reason that I suspect that I might be stood on, beaten down and left behind. There is a word for this: Arrogance.

Such a brilliant word. The word itself conjures up images of flying higher than everyone, that sensation that the world is somehow beneath us. It is a sneaky thing, sometimes it flies in through a half-checked window and like The Raven quoths Nevermore.

You come down the stairs in the morning and notice shoes lying on the kitchen floor. Then you look closer and notice that they are your shoes. Will you pick them up? No. That's the job of someone else. Then you see garbage lying by the back door, garbage that's been there for a day, or two. Will you take it out? No. That's the job of someone else.

We're in traffic and going to make a left turn. Common courtesy says to put on our blinker, to let the person in the car behind us know that we're going to be turning. Do we? No. Who are they to me? We're entering the front door of some store somewhere, and you notice some strangers behind you. Do you hold the door open for them? "Why should I?" you wonder to yourself. "Who are they to me?" We're tired and we start to yawn. Do we cover our mouth? No. So what if others are staring right at us, seeing our tonsils? Who are they to me?

Arrogance says, "Yes, I always have to be right." And so we stand our ground even on small matters, matters of little consequence. Even if no one asks for it, we always point out when others are wrong.

Arrogance also sneaks in when we have different agendae than the people around us. For instance, where are we going to eat today? What are we going to watch on TV? Where are we going to go on holiday this summer? What color should our house be? What kind of car should we buy? More importantly, who is going to get the old car? Arrogance says "It's my way or the highway. We will eat where I want to eat. We will watch what I want to watch. We will go on holiday where I want to go on holiday. And you can be darn sure that I'll be driving the new car."

Arrogance can sneak in when other people have success. Because arrogant people really don't like when others have success. In fact, we put down other people's accomplishments. We see flaws in other people's achievements. And we belittle other things that people are proud of. We certainly don't lavish praise on them.

Arrogance can sneak in also whenever we encounter people who are different than us. The laborers who mow the lawns and tend the gardens and care for the council parks. If we are not careful, it doesn't take long for this arrogance to slip into our psyche. It is an arrogance that comes from status. The checkout operator at the supermarket, the guy who comes to fix the phones, the lady who runs the bank, the person at the coffee shop - are any of them really less valuable?

Finally arrogance can sneak into our minds when we are being penalized or punished. Arrogant people don't believe the rules apply to them and when they get busted for breaking the rules, they don't believe they should be punished. So, they fight the speeding ticket even though they know they were speeding. They bad mouth the boss even though they knew they broke a rule.

I hate pride and arrogance. - Proverbs 8:13

This should be the last word on the matter. Arrogance isn't not only unpretty but is hated by God. I stand on shaky and hated ground. Am I an arrogant prat?

December 18, 2006

Horse 691 - I am a Terrorist Apparantly

What with the avian flu that came and went without trace and SARS that also shot through, we've been sitting waiting for out latest bit of terror to be manufactured for us to be scared of.

On my way home this afternoon I stopped just outside of Top Ryde and decided to pour myself a cup of tea (from the remains of the flask that I'd made this morning). Whilst sitting there a panda car came up behind with a full set of lights flashing and two constabulary enforcers of the law stepped out . I had a breath test taken and they searched the Ka and ended up swiping two sets of chopsticks. I wondered what one earth all of this was in aid of and wondered that if I asked I might be done in for sedition.

As it turns out they were suspicious of my red car because it happened to be stopped with occupant directly under the flight path of the North-South runway. Now Mascot is in fact some 19 kilometers away at this point but I guess that in this age of terrorism everyone truly is a suspect.

Then again, my car does happen to have a ticking clock it the dashboard...

December 15, 2006

Horse 690 - This is the Meaning of Life

It makes perfect sense that we can't really very well give God anything that he already doesn't own. Let's face it, the Chap is so big, powerful (add superlatives etc) that he actually owns everything at all time in the whole of the space-time-mass-energy thingo.

If this is the case, then what the heck are we here for? Aren't we totally redundant in the grand scheme of things? What is the point to our existance? What is the meaning of life?

I think that this has been answered sufficently before.

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
- Ecclesiates 12:13

I've often heard it said that they want to know what the meaning of life is. I don't honestly think that you could possibly get any more explicit than this. Or perhaps you'd like that directly from God himself:

Love the LORD your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always.
- Deuteronomy 11:1

I did a search for things I'd flagged in my electronic copy of the NIV and came up with the following...
Search result:842 Results

842 results. That's 842 times that we've been told what the meaning of life is. Now if God already owns everything and he's told us what he wants from us, doesn't the rest fall into line pretty easily? Do you think that He'd give us tools for the job in advance to do just that?

When we talk of a man doing anything for God or giving anything to God, I will tell you what it is really like. It is like a small child going to his father and saying, "Daddy, give me sixpence to buy you a birthday present." Of course, the father does, and he is pleased with the child's present. It is all very nice and proper, but only an idiot would think that the father is sixpence to the good on the transaction.
- CS Lewis, Mere Christianity

C. S. Lewis was comparing that to his belief that God gave him and us the gifts that we possess to serve him. We should do it humbly, with humble hearts, realizing how we got the gifts in the first place.
- Leigh Nash

Or if you wish, perhaps you'd like a piece of mail that someone once wrote to someone else. Don't worry, they won't mind if you go through their mail.
For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
- Ephesians 2:10

Created by God, for God, to do His work. Is that good enough for the meaning of life for you? I'd write more but don't have the time-space-energy to go through another 842 things for you.

December 14, 2006

Horse 689 - Diamonds Aren't My Best Friend

I've been hearing an advert on the radio a lot this month, and the tag line is this:

... because a diamond truly is forever. So this Christmas, say it with diamonds. From De Beers.

I hate diamonds. There I've said it, I hate diamonds. As a piece of ornamental jewellery they're prized for their ability to throw back fantastic amounts of colour. Part of this is to do with their internal structure. They have a relatively high refractive index because the arrangement of the carbon atoms is a whole heap of triangular pyramids. This also gives diamond another property - they are in fact terribly brittle. It you were to hit a diamond with hammer (and yes I have done this) they not only shatter as you expect but also turn to dust.

I'll say it again, I hate diamonds. Everything about them disgusts me. I hate shallow girls comparing carat size with each other, I hate admiring people’s rings, and I hate walking past ostentatious jewelry stores. I hate the fact that people fight and kill each other over control of diamond mines so that some poor chap can spend four months working in order to purchase something for a girl in order for her to show off and conversely to show her off. I hate the materialism and vanity that goes with diamonds. I hate fake salespeople and their slick ways of talking you into buying the latest bracelet, Seiko watch, or oversized rock. I hate how infants are starving to death or people are dying of easily curable diseases while people spend thousands on a tiny ridiculous rock. I hate how I can’t bring myself to wholly hate diamonds. Sparkly, shimmery, beautiful diamonds.

I have to continually remind myself of why I abhor diamonds. As soon as I do I can walk away from the polished glass diamond counter, breathing a sigh of relief that I’m not the type of chap who likes things like that, however much colour they can throw back.

The biggest reason that I don’t get into the diamond market is that buying diamonds hurts people. Somewhere between 4 and 15 percent of diamonds traded are part of something called "conflict diamonds" (or "war" or "blood diamonds") This means that people with guns and weapons take advantage of people without guns and weapons and make them mine diamonds in horrible conditions to help pay for those guns and weapons. These guns also keep those without guns from causing a fuss about anything illegal or atrocious that the mine operators do. In the last ten years some 3 million people have been killed. Countless more have lost their hands or feet so that they could serve as examples to others. These people with guns also use the profits from diamonds to buy more guns to support other unwholsome activities but let's not say anything about the Congo, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe or South Africa just yet.

But let’s say that a person really wants diamonds. Let’s say they are willing to go the extra mile and pay the extra ¥£$ to purchase a certified, non-conflict diamond. They can’t. There’s no way to be sure you’re not buying a conflict diamond. (Well... there is, there is a type of laser scanning technology, but it is not used, due to little demand for it.) There are also organizations and sanctions trying to keep the diamonds straight, but nothing works really well. In the process of mining, cutting, polishing, and setting, a diamond passes through many hands. And it takes just one person with their eye out for number one to scramble up the pot and ruin it for the rest of them.

Let's say that somehow, you have gotten a hold of a non-conflict diamond. You went to the mine yourself and saw well-paid, of-age, happy workers mining diamonds. They worked in safe conditions and could go home to their family with all four limbs intact. Can you dish out your hard-earned dough, feeling good about what you’ve done? Maybe you can, but the toddler who lost both hands to serve as a lesson to his parents working in the mines can’t.

Diamonds are not as valuable as most people believe. The price is kept unnaturally high by very powerful diamond lobbies; mainly by the South African company De Beers who since the late 40s have cartellised and controlled the market. By paying that lofty price for your non-conflict diamond, you are keeping conflict diamond prices high, and making it very much worth their while in Congo to keep those mines open and keep on mutilating and killing for profit.

Stepping off that soapbox for a while I’ll jump onto another one. Another reason I don’t like diamonds is all the materialism, greed, and vanity that goes with them. It’s hard to even know where to start. From all these ads on television and billboards, I am almost starting to believe that diamonds are no longer just a symbol of love, they actually mean some sort of concrete materialisation of love for some people. If I were to take this seriously then I would believe that any problems people's relationships or lives have, a new piece of jewellery will fix it.

A husband should feel as though he is a lesser man because he didn’t buy his significant other a large enough stone? That his love doesn’t mean anything unless it comes paired with a full carat stone affixed atop a platinum band? His wife doesn’t need quality time or support or even some help matching the socks, just a new pair of diamond earrings come Valentines day?

I hope that isn’t how real people think. Oh man, I really hope that is not how people think, but I’m pretty sure some people do. Isn’t love how you treat each other, not the size of a ring? That those fingers might be clammy, that you spend pointless time worrying about their wellbeing and safety, that you might throw your back out for them? And why else do people buy bling, if not to express their love for another person? To impress people? To feel better about themselves for being such a generous person? I hope both of those reasons are empty enough that I can leave it at that.

December 13, 2006

Horse 688 - Triple MMMadness

If all of the rumours are correct, then next year for Sydney radio on MMM, the landscape will look very different indeed.

The Cage which is currently on an extended season will most likely not appear on Sydney radio. The five pronged attack of JB, Fitzy, Parko, Brig and Pete Berner who will strangely continue to work out of Sydney, will continue on MMM in Melbourne.

The morning slot in Sydney will in all likelyhood be taken over by The Shebang with Marty Sheargold and Fifi Box, who currently operate out of two separate studios. Of course their foray into morning radio will place them up against Merrick & Rosso on Nova and Kyle and Jackie O on sister station 2Day FM.

This leaves the afternoon slot free for none other than Wil Anderson former co-host of the JJJ breakfast show to take over. 2Day FM will take the full two hours of Hamish & Andy from Melbourne's FOX FM.

2GB still leads the ratings war with Alan Jones' morning program still the most popular in Sydney which says more about fuddy-duddies than it does about the drivel which this man continues to spew.

If you're confused by all of that then don't worry. Vega 95.3 is still out there somewhere and for 2007 will continue to broadcast its own brand of irrelevance which only 3 people and their hamster listen to.

December 11, 2006

Horse 687 - THe Kelly Gang Wins

Toll HSV Dealer Team's Rick Kelly has been confirmed as the 2006 V8 Supercar champion after a marathon appeal hearing today. The appeal hearing, which lasted over four hours, saw three stewards once more review the incident in race three at Phillip Island where Rick Kelly made contact with the back of Craig Lowndes' car.

This caused Lowndes' car to make contact with Todd Kelly, with Lowndes and Todd Kelly spinning before Lowndes' car was struck by Will Davison.
The incident badly damaged Lowndes' car while Kelly's was virtually unscathed, the subsequent drive-through penalty given to Kelly costing him far less time during the race than the bent steering cost Lowndes.

The two drivers had entered the race equal on points after 33 of 34 races. With Kelly finishing eleven places ahead of Lowndes in the final race, Kelly won the title.

As with the Investigating and Prosecuting Officer's review yesterday, the stewards today decided that the original decision of a drive-through penalty was the correct punishment for Kelly's actions, and that no further punishment was necessary. With the results remaining unchanged, Rick Kelly was confirmed (again) as this year's V8 Supercar champion.

Unfortunately what this does suggest is that if you happen to take out your oppponents in this sport, then the governing bodies will take only token actions. It's a step further down the slope; the thin end of the wedge.

RIP: Sportsmanship, gone to join Nobility and Fairness.

December 10, 2006

Horse 686 - Cochicken

If you want to look at something surprising, head on over to Will It Blend, a website for a company that sells blenders. One of the things that they blended was a roast chicken and a can of Coke.

On the website it says "Don't Try This At Home". Now usually if I hear that, the first thing that I want to do is to go out and try it. Removing the bones from chicken fillets, and then adding Coke to a blender, produces an opaque mixture that appears for the most part like milkshake. Let me tell you it is:

Just Like a Chocolate Milkshake - Only Chickeny

December 09, 2006

Horse 685 - The Weakest Link

Disciples Edition
Presented by Cornelia Frances

Cornelia: Well disciples, I'm afraid you've done quite poorly. You've only accumulated 5 bits of fish and a couple of bread rolls. It's not what I'd want for my last supper. Now who is just not contributing? Who is a liability to the cause?
It's time to vote off The Weakest Disciple.

Cornelia: Simon, who is also called Peter, you voted for Judas. Why?

Simon Peter: I just have this feeling that he might be the one to betray us.

Cornelia: Right, I see. He's also the only one who's banked any money. 30 pieces of silver to be precise.

Simon Peter: I just think he's the one who's going to let us down.

Cornelia: Well we'll see just how smug you are after the cock has crowed then?
And Thomas, you voted for Judas too. Do you think he's happy about that?

Thomas: I doubt it.

Cornelia: Yes, you would doubt it Thomas.
It's votes that count and it looks like you Judas have been voted as The Weakest Disciple. Goodbye.

Judas: Well yes it is true, I've betrayed innocent blood. I'm going to find a tree and then hang myself.

Cornelia: Well you've certainly taken it better than most of the contestants on this show.

December 08, 2006

Horse 684 - 1337 Po3try

+3h Ro4d no+ +4k3n
Rob3r+ Fro$+

+wo ro4d$ div3rg3d in 4 y3llow wood
4nd $orry I could no+ +r4v3l bo+h
4nd b3 on3 +r4v3ll3r, long I $+ood
4nd look3d down on3 4$ f4r 4$ I could
+o wh3r3 i+ b3n+ in +3h und3rgrow+h;

+h3n +ook +3h o+h3r, 4$ ju$+ 4$ f4ir,
4nd h4ving p3rh4p$ +3h b3++3r cl4im
b3c4u$3 i+ w4$ gr4$$y 4nd w4n+3d w34r;
+hough 4$ for +h4+, +3h p4$$ing +3hr3
h4d worn +h3m r34lly 4bou+ +3h $4m3,

4nd bo+h +h4+ morning 3qu4lly l4y
in l34v3$ no f33+ h4d +rodd3n bl4ck.
Oh, I k3p+ +3h fir$+ for 4no+3hr d4y!
Y3+ knowing how w4y l34d$ on +o w4y,
I doub+3d if I $hould 3v3r com3 b4ck.

I $h4ll b3 +3lling +hi$ wi+h 4 $igh
$om3wh3r3 4g3$ 4nd 4g3$ h3nc3:
+wo ro4d$ div3rg3d in 4 wood, 4nd I --
I +ook +3h on3 l3$$ +r4v3ll3d by,
4nd +h4+ h4$ m4d3 4ll +3h diff3r3nc3

December 06, 2006

Horse 683 - I Agree With An Islamic Dictator

The title says it all. Most people if they heard that in isolation probably would think that I'm a basket case, but this particular Islamic Dictator has said possibly the most intelligent thing by any politician on earth in 60 years.

General Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan has suggested that talks begin between India and Pakistan to decide the future of the territory of Kashmir.

Pakistan is prepared to give up its claim on Kashmir, the demand for plebiscite in the region and on implementation of UN Resolutions if both countries agree on the four-point solution proposed. Gen Musharraf said that Pakistan was prepared to give up its claim to Kashmir if India and Pakistan agree on the four-point solution (a solution in which boundaries are not changed and India does not have to give up any territory).

President Musharraf also made it clear that if the four-point solution, which includes no change in boundaries of Kashmir, making borders and the LoC irrelevant, staggered demilitarisation and autonomy or self-governance with a joint supervision mechanism, is agreed upon, Pakistan would also give up on the UN resolutions and its long-standing demand for a plebiscite. He said when both sides are negotiating, it meant compromise and compromise could never take place without stepping back. So inherently, both sides would have to give up their positions and step back.

If you bear in mind that Kashmir was once an independant kingdom, and an independant kingdom that joined the Union of India in 1935 of its own volition, then the idea that Kashmir should again return to the state of an autonomous country is really the only course of action that should have happened in 1947 when Pakistan and India split.

Quite frankly the actions of both India and Pakistan for 60 years have been nothing short of criminally stupid and have wasted far too many lives pointlessly. To stand back, walk away and give the people back their own country is the most excellent solution.

Horse 682 - John Howard Will Win in 2007

Australian Politics despite what people say is really very simple. Voters in this country are on the whole only concerned with their hip pocket and will vote accordingly. If you look back at election results going back 60 years to when "Ming" took power in 1949, we find that an encumbant government has only been voted out of office 4 times - 1972, 1975, 1983 and 1996.

The election cycle at a federal level since 1949 has been dictated by one factor: Australia's economic performance, comprising a combination of the inflation rate and unemployment rate. Australians are only prepared to vote out a government federally when the economy is experiencing stagflation - a relatively high unemployment rate and high inflation. Because stagflation is rare in Australia, since the election of the Menzies Government in 1949, change of government at a federal level is also rare.

From 1972-73 to 1980-81, unemployment kept rising: the average rate jumped to about 7 per cent. By 1972, the inflation rate had also leapt to above 7 per cent. With this combination, the long reign of conservative government ended in December 1972.

But the election of a Labor government federally was short-lived. Unemployment continued to worsen between 1972 and 1975 and inflation went through the roof, reaching 17.6 per cent in March 1975. Gough Whitlam was voted out of office at the end of 1975.

Unemployment continued to rise during the Fraser Government, but it stayed in power until March 1983 thanks to a trend downwards in inflation from 1975 to 1982. But inflationary pressures set in again, with the inflation rate hitting 12.5 per cent in September 1982. With unemployment reaching 9.7 per cent in February 1983, the Fraser Government lost the federal election.

The Hawke-Keating Labor Government was in power for 13 years. Between 1983 and 1990, the unemployment rate fell from 10 per cent to below 6 per cent (5.8 per cent in January 1990), holding back any change in government from inflationary pressures and rising interest rates (which were about 17 per cent at the time of the 1990 election).

After the 1990 election, Australia went into recession. By February 1993, unemployment had reached 10.8 per cent and everyone, including the Labor Party, thought the Hawke-Keating Government was over. The 1993 election was unwinnable for the then prime minister, Paul Keating.
But Keating won. Why? Although unemployment was at record high levels, inflation had dropped significantly. In March 1993, the inflation rate was about 1 per cent. Between 1993 and 1996, unemployment fell to 8.1 per cent, still historically high. But by December 1995, the inflation rate had risen to 5.1 per cent. Keating lost in March 1996 in a landslide to John Howard.

The annual inflation rate in Australia was only 3.9% in the three months to Sept. 30, the second consecutive quarter it has breached the Reserve Bank's target band of between 2-3%. Although prices have been rising, it's not yet enough to make people hurt. And despite the fact that the Federal Government is telling us what a good job it's doing (after selling the rest of Telstra and making people buy something which they used to own), really Mr Howard's Government isn't really doing anything at all and nor does it need to.

So long as the Australian Voter is as thick as cement, then Howard had nothing to fear. 60 years of evidence proves this.

December 05, 2006

Horse 681 - Making Peace With Santa

For many years I've made fun of the stupidity of Santa Claus. It just seemed a bit silly to me that we'd deliberately lie to children with such an implausible lie. Flying Reindeer? A man who went round the whole world in one night when planes take 22 hours to get to London and satellites orbit every 90 minutes. When there's actually nothing at the North Pole (I knew of Amundsen's expedition at an early age).

Francis P. Church's editorial letter in the The Sun (New York) to Virginia O'Hanlon of 115 W95th St, is perhaps one of the most famous editiorials of all time. Church's father, Pharcellus, was a Baptist minister and journalist who founded The New York Chronicle, so perhaps his answer was not aimed necessarily at perpetuating a lie but saying something else to the rest of readers of The Sun.

First of all, what is Santa Claus actually for? The modern incarnation of the chap is roughly based on poem "A Visit From St. Nicholas" ("The Night Before Christmas" - published 1823).
The other person who is responsible is the artist Haddon Sundblom who was commissioned by Coca-Cola in the 1930s. So popular were Sundblom's images of Claus (Sundblom's images are used by Coca-Cola to this day) that the urban legend soon arose that Sundblom had actually created the modern image of Santa Claus.
Sundblom also painted the iconic image of the scary Quaker Oats man in 1957; the image is still used in Quaker branding to this day AUGH!!.

The Christian Church is also responsible for its repeated hijacking of festivals. St Nicholas' day which is on Dec 6 is credited with presenting the three impoverished daughters of a pious Christian with dowries so that they would not have to become prostitutes.
Despite Santa Claus's mixed Christian roots, he has become a secular representation of Christmas. As such, a number of Christian churches dislike the secular focus on Santa Claus and the materialist focus that present-receiving gives to the holiday.

Esentially Santa Claus is a marketing piece, albeit one who's as insidious as the Easter Bunny (the only thing I've seen come out of a real rabbit is something that you really do not wat to eat). In that respect he's a bit like Uncle Sam, John Bull or Captain Birdseye. I still think that lying to kiddies is a bit dumb though.

Edit at 1422: Australia need 168 off of 36 overs. England appear to be in trouble... NO!!

December 04, 2006

Horse 680 - Toast?

... and I will always love you?
- Whitney Houston

England going into the final day of the Fifth Test are 97 runs ahead and only one wicket down in their final dig, but the door is wide open for Australia to steal a victory at the final trumpet... toaster?

The Barmy Army is not just Barmy but decidedly insane.

December 03, 2006

Horse 679 - It's a "Silly" Place

The genteel game of cricket has a patchwork quilt of phrase and fable that both borrows from and adds back to the colours of the English language. Frequently we can hear people in regular conversation say that they're "stumped" or have been "hit for six". The game itself has stolen phrases from elsewhere, no-one particularly likes fielding "in Cow Corner" for instance.

What may confuse non-followers of the game are those close in positions around the batsman called Silly. During the Second Test this afternoon Jim Maxwell told us that there were: 2 Slips and a Gully, a Point and a Cover Point, an Extra Cover, Backward Square Leg, Mid-On, Long-On and no players in Silly Positions - to which my sister asked "aren't they all silly? I think the whole game is stupid."

Perhaps fielding in a Silly Position is an apt description of the level of the intelligence of someone standing there but if you look at the original definition of the word, perhaps this starts to make some sort of sense.

Silly was originally a description of a thing in a helpless or defenceless state. From this we extend this to either an indefensible state of explanation or a one lacking good sense. A silly state can either refer to being stunned ot dazed or lacking intelligence. So therefore a fielder in a Silly Position is both defenceless (especially when the ball is moving at them at +120mph), lacking intelligence or otherwise they would not stand there and if whacked with the ball would then be dazed. All of which satisfy the very definition of the word.

Silly by 3 counts.

December 02, 2006

Horse 678 - NEVER Give Up On People

If there's one thing I've learnt over the years it's that we do not have the right to give up on people for any reason - ever. No matter what state people happen to be in or what they actually do to you, then you simply can not and should not give up.

This is going to sound so strange to so many people but there are actually people in the world who intend to hurt you. They derive their enjoyment from either making you look stupid or physically doing damage to you. Yet through this, you must not hinder the gospel.

I had this made somewhat real to me a few years ago when someone I never even thought would listen to what God had to say, is now working as a Youth Pastor. I'm guilty in some respects that if I get attacked my usual response is to pay back in kind - this is wrong.

Look to the cross for the answer. Here was a man who was beaten and battered because He refused to give up on people. When people hurled insults, rocks and abuse at Him he didn't retaliate at all. Even when "hanging" on the cross and being nailed up there which is possibly the most digusting method of execution yet devised He still refused to give up on the people that had done this to Him - "Father forgive them. They know not what they do"

For this weekend although I was hurt (which went away) I took deliberate steps not to hinder the gospel. I'm a sad reflection of my Master, who refused to give up on people but I think I've learnt the principle a little better.

Horse 677 - Mad Dogs & Englishmen

At tea on the second day of the Second Test at the Adelaide Oval, England are 468-4

This afternoon we've seen a controlled batting display by Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood who is finally out for 206. On his way to only the second double hundred by an Englishman in Australia in history, Collingwood was at the crease for 515 minutes - 8 hours, 35 minutes.
Collingwood and Kevin Pietersen shared a record fourth-wicket stand for England against Australia, worth 310 when Collingwood fell on the stroke of tea.

I have heard excuses that the pitch is too hard, or the the ball isn't helping the bowlers. What perhaps needs to be acknowledged is that the two batsmen out there have showed temerity, skill and pluck, whereas the Australian bowling attack of Warne and McGrath which would usually strike fear and terror into the hearts of batsmen is just looking old and unimaginative.

What is midly confusing is that on the radio we're hearing the names of Clarke and Clark and somehow just expected to know the difference.

Horse 676 - The Castle

In summing up, it's the Constitution, it's Mabo, it's justice, it's law, it's the vibe and...
No, that's it.
It's the vibe!

I don't know if the writers of The Castle intended to produce an iconically Australian film, but even if they didn't then this is pretty well much it.

The story follows the exploits of Daryl Kerrigan, a tow truck driver living in Melbourne, and his family. Unfortunately, the local airport wants to expand and plans to evict Daryl's family and their neighbours by way of compulsory acquisition. Daryl attempts to foil the expansion in order to keep his home. He later ends up challenging the legality of the acquisition under Section 51(xxxi - he even learnt Roman Numerals) of the Australian Constitution at the High Court of Australia.

The Castle is a courageous story about one man's obsession with his "castle" and his loathing of officialdom. The humour in The Castle plays on the self image of Australians, most notably the concept of "the little Aussie battler". The movie title is named for the English saying, repeatedly used in the film, "A man's home is his castle." The film also refers to the land rights movement of the Australian Aborigines, with Kerrigan drawing an explicit parallel between his struggle and theirs.

The film was shot in a total of ten days, with a rough-cut ready five days after that. In all, the entire project from conception to completion took just five weeks, and was made with a remarkably low budget. Distributor, Village Roadshow then came in with funding to distribute the film. At the box office The Castle became one of Australia’s most successful films in grossing more than $10 million which then led to large American independent, Miramax Films, buying the US distribution rights for US$6 million.

The film unfortunately suffers from a lack of intelligent dialogue, namely the use of the F word. As far as I know it is the only film in American history to be given an R rating on no other grounds - in Australia the film only carried an M rating, which says something about American predjudice more than anything else. There are no adult themes, no violence (apart from when Kerrigan steals a gate).

It goes on to consistently list itself as one of the classic Australian films of all time; the biggest reason is that the rest of the world has no way to "get"it. Then them they're dreaming...

so much serenity