February 27, 2007

Horse 725 - The Queen, The King & I

I don't really have a coherant thought today, so here goes:

Wasn there a flotsam about last night? I'm led to believe that the Oscars were on last night but to be honest, my interest in self-primping awards ceremonies is about as great as my love of rocket lettuce (so not much).

I was doing other things, and I heard something about the Queen and then not long afterwards heard mention of Scotland and thought someone must have been watching a documentary about the Act of Union which was passed in 1707 and therefore is now 300 years old.

I later found out that there was a film about the life of Idi Amin that had an actor win something or other. Know I already knew that Idi Amin was the self-proclaimed King of Scotland, and that logically if he were to fulfil his claim, then he'd either have to marry Queen Elizabeth who is technically the Queen of Scotland before she's the Queen of England by virtue of the aforementioned Act of Union of 1707, but even then he'd only be Queen's Consort like Prince Phillip is now, or Prince Albert was when he married Queen Victoria.

I suppose that Idi Amin could logically have actually been the King of Scotland had he committted regicide and by military invasion, taken over the Northern Kingdom of the British Isles and in some respects, the people of Scotland might have actually appreciated it because invariably they've been moving away from England emotionally now for about 30 years; even now to the point where they've devolved and gotten their own parliament with special rule for the country.

Then I heard about awards and things and wondered if there was something to do with the Six Nations or some such. It was only this morning that I actually realised that the Oscars were on last night, so I guess this means that I better find out who won the major awards for no other reason than it might be asked in a pub trivia competition down the track.

But a film about Idi Amin? Doesn't everybody love a jolly fat man? Well Idi Amin certainly loved himself. Look at the title he gave himself:
"His Excellency President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea, and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular."

So what if the Oscars were on last night. I don't think my life will change much. Isn't Oscar the chap who lived in a dustbin?

February 26, 2007

Horse 724 - We Honestly Don't Care What Happens To You

SMH - No Obligation

This is an excerpt from today's Sydney Morning Herald:
A Sydney courtroom packed with supporters of terrorist suspect David Hicks has been told the Australian Government has no legal obligation to help the Guantanamo Bay inmate. The Government might have a moral obligation to assist Australian people abroad, but there was no legal basis for a Federal Court challenge to Hicks's incarceration by United States authorities, the Federal Court was today told.

A team of lawyers has launched the action in a bid to force the Government to take steps Hicks home. The 31-year-old has been detained without trial at the US naval base since January 2002, following his arrest in Afghanistan. The action against the Federal Government, federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, seeks declarations and an order that could lead to the release of Hicks from the US military jail in Cuba.

Government lawyer, Solicitor-General David Bennett, QC, told the court a general obligation for the Federal Government to protect citizens abroad "is simply something that the law has never recognised".

However, The note inside Australian passports states:
The Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, being the representative in Australia of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, request all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer, an Australian Citizen, to pass freely without let or hindrance and to afford him or her every assistance and protection of which he or she may stand in need.

Put simply - that note inside your passport is worthless.

The rub is this:
People of Australia - no matter what happens to you abroad, and whether you happen to be arrested without charge, fitted up for charge or even suffering torture, your country honestly doesn't care even an iota about your welfare. Legally they're not required to give a hoot and experience tells us that that they won't even so much as lift a finger to help you.
Yet this same government has the power to send you off to war without your consent for any reason. They have the power under sedition laws to permanently detain you without cause.

And you wonder why I'm not proud to be an Australian... why should I bother?

February 23, 2007

Horse 723 - Butter or Guns?

Forbes Magazine which is famous for publishing its list of the world's biggest companies, has in its latest issue compiled a list of the world's fattest nations. The results based on BMI were somewhat surprising.

At the top of the list was the South Pacific island nation of Nauru. The region it seems is collectively winning as 8 out of the top ten are in the South Pacific. The USA predictably has come in at 9th and Australia weighed in at 21st. All is not lost though as the Old Dart, Britain was 28th.

Come on Australia, this is something else we can be World Champions in! Australia has world class cricketers, runners and swimmers who can beat the best - at 21st in the world for being a nation of Fatty-Boom-Bahs, it's a pretty poor effort. What makes this so impressive is that it actually takes less effort to win, not more.

Drive more, don't walk to the shops, use more remote controls, get stuff home delivered, walk less, watch more television, if you must play games then do it on X-Box or PlayStation. Maybe the words of The Prodigy and Hermann-Goering are in order.

Steel? We have no butter, but I ask you: would you rather have butter or guns? Shall we import lard or steel? Let me tell you! Preparedness makes us powerful, butter merely makes us fat. Lard?

We can be number 1 Australia, I know it!

February 20, 2007

Horse 722 - I Love...

In perhaps one of those scarier moments of dagginess I think back to those days of 1992 when Semi-Hip-Hop-Christian group dc Talk came out with the album Free At Last. The opening track to this was the funkily misspelled Luv is a Verb.

It is perhaps quite well known that the Greeks had four words for their four concepts, and almost as well know that there is no direct word for it in most of the Eastern languages like Japanese, Korean and Mandarin. Perhaps the English word Love is not entirely silly, in there being only one word.

The noun and the verb in English (except for the variant which is a zero score in tennis etc) are in reality precisely the same thing. If someone were to say "I love chocolate" or "I love Top Gear", then the meaning although different in subject is still esentially the same as in "Jennifer loves Phillip" or "For God so loved the world that he gave His only Son".
Think about it, in all circumstances the object or person, surreal thing being loved is always the subject of some great interest.

Think about what your interests are, Did they happen to instantly happen to turn out like that? In quite a number of cases as many writers and philosophers have said, Love is as the direct result of choosing something; is therefore a highly active verb. If I happen to take a deep interest in something, then usually the investment that results is of some cost.

If you take this to its logical conclusion, all of us want to be loved deep down on some level because we have a need that someone should take an interest in us. I will love you not for your wit and talents, or pehaps some external beauty and charm but because of a distinct and obvious decision to do so. To love that person or thing for no inherant reason other than because it happens to be.

Think about the things in life that we happen to love: The chocolate is eaten, the football team loses, Jennifer and Phillip with both grow old lose their beauty, Top Gear only lasts 45 minutes. Even when God decides to love His creation, it happens to tell him to just piss off in as many words. So then, what the heck is the point to loving anything when obviously whatever it is will fail?

If you remember one simple fact it would be this God is love (1 John 4:8), since we're little reflections of that then it also follows that it must be someway connected to our nature; although we're imperfect, it's because we have to.

February 18, 2007

Horse 721 - With Mind Bullets

I heard two things on the radio this morning that I think at least half way prove that the world is on an express train to total madness.

The Royal Australian Navy who is finding it a bit difficult at the moment to attract people will be having a recruitment drive at none other than the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras. I heard this on the news and literally snorted coffee out my nose.
What's going on here? I know that many of them already wear the uniforms (for other reasons) and that they may know all of the lyrics to "In The Navy" by the Village People, but given the know levels of intolerance and obvious cruelty within the military, you'd have to fear for the safety of these people not from the enemy but from being bashed by the handsA of their own comrades.

ASIO on the other hand is also looking for new recruits. The suggestion is that the conditions for entry have been relaxed and they'll now accept people who have criminal records but only ones with drugs charges.
The old addage is that the best way to catch a thief is to find another thief to scout them out because they're already in the mindset for it. Is this then a congruous thought? Is the suggestion now that if people on drugs already think that there's someone watching them, then when it comes to international epspionage, they're already well equipped? Somehow I seriously doubt that the government actually is using radiation from the television to control our minds, but if they happen to be watching us by using lampposts, then we're all in serious trouble.

February 16, 2007

Horse 720 - Unlawful Combatants

People are trying to convince me somehow that due process was followed through when applied to the detainees at Guantanamo Bay. I made the comment that if someone could prove otherwise that I'd eat my hat.

David Hicks is one such person who has been held there without charge. The terms of being an "Unlawful Combatant" were actually held to be invalid when the US Supreme Court ruled against the US Government in the case of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006) in which it was held that the terms of imprisonment "violated both the UCMJ and the four Geneva Conventions."

Deeming people as "Unlawful Combatants" is fairly tricky since there is no real oversight within US Law or International Law. What is to stop someone from flying through the US, detained and declared as an unlawful combatant, thrown to who knows where for interrogation purposes? The answer still seems to be shrouded in hand waving and other mysterious "trust us" assurances. Can you really blame people who look at this scheme as a "lock them up, we'll invent the excuse later" kind of thing? The current administration plays fast and loose with things here which shouldn't be exactly applauded but that is all off topic.

Unlawful Combatants do not fall under the UCMJ, the Geneva Convention, nor the US Code. They are foriegn nationals whose countries deny any association with them. Logically it follows then that they are being held without authority. Since the term "Unlawful Combatant" is also unknown in international humanitarian law under whose authority are they incarcerated under?

This I think is quite an important point. In the wake of this the Military Commissions Act of 2006 was passed in order to "bring to justice terrorists and other unlawful enemy combatants through full and fair trials by military commissions, and for other purposes."

Yet the act is being applied retrospectively. In the case of Hicks, he was sold to the US Special Forces in 2001 some five years before the act. The US administration has not alleged Hicks engaged in any actual acts of terrorism, nor that he killed any U.S. or Coalition soldier, so therefore is not being held as a POW but under a piece of legislation that did not exist at the time or under a set of terms that violated the US Constitution and the Geneva Conventions.

Suffice to say, I have written to my Federal MP Louise Markus which I expect will precisely nothing, since she has never responded to any letter I have ever sent - that's democracy for you isn't it? And since she's a member of the Liberal Party in theory supports the Australian Government's standpoint.
I have also written to the Prime Minister's Office which I also expect will do nothing because he personally supports the US Government on this.

Just as an aside, the following is the first Article of the United Nations Convention Against Torture

Article 1
1. Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.

Torture has been alledgedly used on the Unlawful Combatants in Guantanamo Bay. Quite frankly this makes me sick. The fact that this exists tends to make me think that there are some truly evil people running the world.

February 14, 2007


♫ Vielleicht wird sie Tanzen mit mir kommen
Wenn sie etwas sagt, wird sich sie vorstellen ♫
Wie besonder sie ist!

Horse 719 - Only YOU!

During medieval times, there was a friar who in his spare time, would collect flowers, plants and herbs to make cures for various illnesses. He suddenly got the idea to become a florist and sell flowers to everyone in the village at very low prices. As it turned out, his religious beliefs shaped him into a very paitient person, thus causing him to excel in customer service.

The people of his town began to turn to him for all of their flower needs. This infuriated all of the other local florists due to the fact that they were all losing customers and money, and so it was that they all got together and pooled whatever money they had. They used that money to hire a thief to break into the friar's flower shop and steal all of his flowers and then burn the flower shop to the ground. The friar never collected flowers again and abandoned his faith. He commited scuicide two weeks later.

The morale of this story: "Only you can prevent florist friars."

Also as an aside:
Ever since 1944 when Smokey the Bear signs started appearing in the New York Subway, there has been the remarkable record of there being not even a single forest fire on the New York Subway.

February 12, 2007

Horse 718 - Quite Frankly, We're Lost

A report released by IATA last week has stated that the practice of naming airports after famous people is likely to cause confusion amongst pilots and especially those from Non-English speaking backgrounds. On the ABC this morning there were a few people with serious and stern voices condemning the practice as though something terrible had occurred.

How hillarious is this? Are they actually serious?

John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York city is famous the world over. Would people be confused if they named it after the suburb it happens to be in? Probably yes, for it would then be called Jamaica Airport.
Charles de Gaulle International Airport not surprisingly is named after the founder of the fifth Republic of France. People might be confused if it was named Roissy after the local area.
John Lennon International not surprisingly is in Liverpool. If you were a Serbian pilot who didn't happen to have heard of The Beatles then you're forgiven.
Chinggis Khaan International Airport of course is in Mongolia, but perhaps one would prefer not to undertake similar travel plans to the man himself.

The point is that if you are a qualified pilot for a big airline, wouldn't you be expected to plan the whole flight path rather than just hope? Imagine you're flying into Charles Kingsford-Smith from the United States:

This is your pilot speaking. We are currently flying at 19,000 feet. Look, we don't actually know where the airport is. Let's just fly around Sydney for a bit and find the nearest one.

Ok, bad example. Because Sydney only has one international airport then this would work, but for somewhere like New York which has three or Tokyo which has two (which are both over 90 miles from the centre of town), pilots would be lost. Would you honestly feel safe on a plane with a pilot who didn't know where they were going? Message for IATA: Planes aren't taxis!

February 07, 2007

Horse 717 - Doing The iPod Shuffle II

Here's how it works:
1. Open up the music player on your computer (or your iPod, possibly).
2. Set it to play your entire music collection.
3. Hit the "shuffle" command.
4. Tell us the title of the next ten songs that show up (with their musicians), no matter how embarrassing.So, without further adieu...

1. The Deadwood Stage (Whip-Crack-Away) - Doris Day
This song comes from the film and later the stage musical Calamity Jane, which also had the Oscar for the best song in a film for 1953 "Secret Love". Though Doris Day had been described as "the world's oldest virgin", her career off the silver screen was far more interesting with her husband and Jerry Rosenthal responsible for racking up debts of $20m which left her bankrupt.

2. Love Machine - Morning Musume (v3)
Released on 09/09/99 at 9:09am in Tokyo, this was the 9th single from the group. Morning Musume hold auditions every year for new members as people come and go from the group, such that as at 2007 we're currently up to Version 8.

3. Ebaum's World Dot Com - Lemon Demon
Perhaps an overly cynical song about how Eric and Neil Bauman have made a fortune by filching content from other internet portals. Lemon Demon are more famous for their flash and animutations than actual music though.

4. I Don't Like Spam (Bed) - Radio 1
One of the 519 radio jingles I possess with the lady from the now ubiquitous Monty Python "Spam Sketch". I suspect that the underlying track has itself been lifted from the House of Pain track Jump Around.

5. Bloody Stupid Mary - Las Ketchup
Las Ketchup released Aserejé in 2002 which miost people wlll remember as "The Ketchup Song". This Latin inspired song is a breezy track that in the light of the competition for the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest looked hopelessly inadequate. By itself it's a Sunday Afternoon with Iced Tea and Lemon type song.

6. Tony Blair Rings IKEA - Radio 1
Long before Dead Ringers, John Culshaw was on with DJ Chris Moyles in the afternoons right after Mark and Lard. Culshaw would phone people up using the same range of voices which would later appear on both Radio 4 and later BBC One.

7. Keep Belongings With You At All Times - London Underground
In addition to the radio idents and commercials I have, I also happen to have a series of announcements from the Jubilee Line and the Central Lines of the Underground. I think I'm a qualified anorak now.

8. Jump - Girls Aloud
In 2003, Girls Aloud covered "Jump" for the movie soundtrack Love Actually. The film however uses the Pointer Sisters' original version in the film itself due to American audiences being unaware of Girls Aloud, who feature in the end credits.
This made it to #2 in the UK and when the film clip was finally released, Polydor found itself subject to a security scare because MI5 were convinced that it was shot around Number 10 and not on a stage set.

9. Smelly Cat - Phoebe
This song probably should have been recorded by Phoebe whilst Friends was at its height of success. From the top? There is no "top", that's the beauty of Smelly Cat.

10. Leeds, Leeds, Leeds! - 1993 Leeds Utd FA Cup Squad
Few football songs are as cheesy as this with its tin whistle and Yorkie singers. This was the beginning of the end for Leeds Utd, as the winners of the last League before the creation of the Premier League, they won too eraly to benefit from playing in Europe and paid a fortune in transfers to stay on top - which failed.

I'm still not convinced of the randomness of this thing you know...

Horse 716 - Super-Heated

The following story stems from a scoreless draw in the Merseyside derby. Liverpool 0 - Everton 0 is a result although perfectly acceptable in the eyes of the city did nothing to ease tensions between the red and blue halves.

Rafael Benitez annoyed Everton by calling them a small club in his post match press conference on Saturday. Rafa Benitez upset the neigbours by pointing out, quite correctly, that they're a small club because they don't happen to be one of the big four, or playing in Europe. Benitez made the comment in a TV interview after the match and repeated it in his post match press conference. Afterwards the Reds' boss was unrepentant.

"After a game when a team comes to Anfield and plays a top side like that, looking for a draw, what else can you call them?" Benitez reasonably asked. "Playing against a small team, it is not easy when they have nine men behind the ball. One team wanted to win while one team came not to lose. We controlled the game and had all the possession, and they had one chance from our mistake. After that we controlled everything."

Rafa's remarks upset the Blues. Chief Executive Keith Wyness had a tantrum in the directors box while Bill Kenwright threw his toys out of his pram, very literally. He had to be exported out of the ground for fear of throwing things at the rival officials. Meanwhile, the Everton manager Lee Carsley claims Everton's players feel 'insulted' by Rafael Benitez's comments which have now sparked a furore on Merseyside.

That prompted an angry response from Everton supporters, and led to chief executive Keith Wyness expressing his club's disappointment "to hear such an unnecessary comment". Wyness added: "I suspect he is in a minority of one in believing Everton is, in any respect, a small football club. Somehow we just expect more of a Liverpool manager."

My only surprise from all of this is that anyone was surprised. Whilst perhaps nowhere near as bad as the sectarian violence that can hang around Old Firm matches in Glasgow, the local media in the area has to be seen as neutral for as you walk through the city you either find red, blue or black doors (for people who either don't care or have internal fights in the house).

Added to this is the buyout of Liverpol for £475m and the promise that when they new stadium is built at Stanley Park, Everton will most definately not be allowed to share. That is a staggering amount of dosh, and one which should turn the blue half green with envy at the red.

February 05, 2007

Horse 715 - Super-bowl

The United States of America I suspect will have ground to almost a halt for these couple of hours as the 41st Superbowl takes place. In terms of actual money spent on advertising and number of television sets tuned in, then this rates only behind the Football World Cup Final for a worldwide audience.
To be totally fair, you have to hand it to America when it comes to putting on a massive show. The Superbowl does attract major superstars to appear at half-time and the hype that surrounds it must be ludicrous.

Yet for all of this, the main criticism of the game in Australia is the two points that the game although only an hour long, takes four hours to complete and that there are too many rules. This I hope helps to disperse that.

When it comes to games that take a long time, we in the colonies have a game that days not 4 hours by 6 hours multiplied by 5 days. A cricket Test Match if played to completion can take up to 37.5 hours in total if the over rate is slow. That's a shade over NINE TIMES as long.

The other main problem that people in Australia seem to have with the NFL is the myriad of rules. If you look at the official rulebook, then you only find a mere 34 laws that actually govern the game of American Football. Again cricket exceeds this with 46 Laws.
In fact the Laws of cricket are so seemingly arbitrary that it actually requires a meeting of a Privy Council of the UK House of Lords to get them changed. From a constitutional standpoint, it's the reason why appeals are still allowed through the state parliament of Western Australia. I very much doubt that you'd get a select committee of the US Congress just to sit on the adjudication of rules for American Football.

Of course there is one major difference which cricket does have in its favour. If you happened to see someone at a cricket match taking a cup tea, you might think that they were jolly good folk but at an NFL game, they'd just look a bit naff.

Addenda: Indianapolis beat Chicago 29-17 to win Super Bowl XLI in rain that made parts of England look positively like the Sahara - it was filthy.

February 03, 2007

Horse 714 - Super Casino

News reports indicate that Britain's first "Super Casino" (It's Super, so it must be good) has been awarded not to the city of London or Blackpool but Manchester. The people of Blackpool who have been the hotbed of slot machines now for the past 60 years are a bit disappointed, but the area of Manchester that the proposed casino is to be built is an area that is currently a bit run down.

Perhaps the people who live in the run down areas decided that they needed a few new shiny things and that the new casino will make the place a bit pretty what with all the coloured lights etc. Are these people who live in these areas expecting to get rich from it? By playing the machines? I can see how this will work.

It seems to me that the only people who can afford to gamble are those who come from a non-run down area, and they'll lose their money sp it effectively means that while these people lose their money to the one armed bandits, that the rest of Manchester will tend towards being run down. Still, it will be the first time that a lot of them will have actually seen fruit.

It is rather a bit of a mixed message though isn't it? If the government is seen to be tough on crime and the causes of crime, then this doesn't help their cause. A Casino after all is a form of organised crime, it just happens to be a form of very very slow theft.
I understand how poker machines work. Basically you put your money in and then you geta bit of a lights display and a crap show for about 20 seconds and then you realise that the money you just inserted is gone. Eventually you can delightfully fritter away your paycheque, car, house, family etc and be free of these things... hmm, that's not a good thing is it?

The Millenium Dome Consortium will apply for a judicial review of the decision to approve the casino for Manchester and meanwhile the people of Blackpool wil just write a nasty letter... inside a stick of rock candy.

February 02, 2007

Horse 713 - Gentlemen... BEHOLD!

??? People really are this thick!

Abridged version: LED light signs depicting the Mooninites from Aqua Teen Hunger Force are places in major cities all over the US to promote the new movie that comes out next month (which is going to kick butt up and down the street by the way). Moronic Boston citizens and police officers spring into action, identifying something that looks not unlike a Light Brite as an explosive device, and practically shut down all major traffic routes. BATTERIES + WIRES = ARGH CALL THE FBI!!

"It is outrageous, in a post 9/11 world, that a company would use this type of marketing scheme," Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino said in a statement.
Woah, batman forbid a company do something other than a 40-foot wide billboard on the side of some building. Blargh! I guess I never really got the full idea of how scared of their own shadow 9/11 has made some people, until now.

I laugh at your puny three dimensions for we on the moon have five... five thousand. This sucks let's go home.