March 31, 2007

Horse 743 - Man-Made Fibres

The clothesline at the moment is full of washing that's drying very quickly 'cause the weather's fine. Flip-flap, flip-flap etc.

Obviously man-made fibres are everywhere in our lives. Nylon, polyester, lycra - these were the new-fangled materials of the late 60's and people made all sorts of brilliantly coloured clothing out of them.
Unfortunately as we found out, these man-made fibres don't breathe as well as their natural counterparts; thus they happen to be stinky, smelly and just a little bit crap.

The words "Man-Made Fibres" is a curious word combination. If you saw Chicken-Fried Rice you wouldn't honestly expect that an actual chicken had got out some rice nad made a lovely little stir-fry for you. Unlike spiders, people do not have spinnarettes from which they could actually produce fibres. Instead they're mostly made from petrochemical compounds and then machines extrude and physically make them for us.

When you think about it, it is somewhat of a marvel that nature is capable of producing firbrous material. The only truly man-made fibres are hairs. I don't know of anything that you could possibly make from human har except if you happened to run a moustache factory of perhaps use them to filter coffee, but in either case like nylon, polyester, lycra etc, they would tend to get stinky, smelly and just a little bit crap; rather like this post!

March 29, 2007

Horse 742 - That's What It's All About

The answer to Life, Death, The Universe and Everything is 42; that's an established fact. There are other questions that need to be asked, like what's it's all about? The answer to that lies with the Hokey Cokey I fear.

You put your left arm in, You put your left arm out,
You put your left arm in and you shake it all about,
You do the Hokey Cokey and you turn around,
That's what it's all about!

I applied this principle to this morning's newspaper which informs me that Britney Spears has checked out of rehab and into a hospital complaining of toothache. She checks her whole self in, She checks her whole self out, She checks her whole self in and she shakes it all about...

Consider the instructions on a bag of McCain Microwave French Fries. Place bag into microwave on High for 3 minutes, then remove and shake before putting back into the microwave on High for 8 minutes. You put your French Fries in, You put your French Fries out, You put your French Fries in and you shake them all about...

SBS recently ran a series called The Second World War in Colour, which was a series of films captured during the war in and around combat zones. One of the episodes featured training exercises for riflemen in close combat situations. You put your bayonet in, You put your bayonet out, You put your bayonet in and you shake it all about...

You can't even escape the Hokey Cokey when you sit down to a nice cup of tea. Lipton for a while marketed a brand of tea called "Lipton Jigglers" which was tea infused with aromatic oils and the like. You put your teabag in, You put your teabag out, You put your teabag in and you shake it all about...

The Hokey Cokey is so entwined within our lives that it's in there hiding even if we don't see it. It must be tied to the meaning of life somehow because it even says That's what it's all about!

PS: I don't really suggest actually turning the Hokey Cokey into the basis of a religion.
Larry LaPrise, the man that wrote the Hokey Cokey died peacefully at the age of 83. The most traumatic part for his family was getting him into the coffin. They put his left leg in and then the trouble started.

March 28, 2007

Horse 741 - Kitty Revenge

I was round at a friend's place last night because I popped in to say hello, when they relayed the story of how their cat has well and truly grown up. It has ceased to be this little playful ball of fun and has just discovered that most catty of traits... revenge.

For those of you who are not familiar with kitty revenge, it's different to people revenge because kitty revenge comes without conscious. Perhaps it's one of the reasons why the ancient Egyptians thought that if they tried to appease the kitty gods, then they might not suffer kitty revenge... wrong. There is no kitty god; even if there was, it would act like other kitties, so appeasing the kitty god would be useless.

Most musicians is as their wont, will invariably start a band. To this end, the couch was removed from the lounge room and a drum kit was put in its place. You're probably familiar with that horrid trait of male kitties of them wanting to declare ownership of things by weeing on them. We all remember Robin Williams live tour and even Cat in Red Dwarf spent about 10 minutes in one episode saying "See these things? They are mine!" Kitty had realised that HIS couch had been removed and apparantly had walked into the room, found the offending drum kit and would hiss at it.

If we roll forward about two weeks, we get to the point where a funky smell existed in the lounge room. A quick squiz around the room and a sniff off revealed that every day for two weeks, kitty had decided to step into the bass drum and take a dump in there. Two weeks of kitty poo smells distinctively worse than just cat wee. Kitty revenge was complete.

It is a good thing that people do not exact similar to kitty revenge on other people. It would involve defication on motor cars and people's houses. Though on reflection, we do hear roughly once a month that a pile of manure has been left at the front steps of a local council somewhere in the country, so perhaps we're not that far removed from Kitty Revenge.

March 26, 2007

Horse 740 - Telstra: Yes, We Forgot

Corporately I don't understand how a company that posted a $3.18bn profit for the year 2005-06 can cry foul that it's being treated "unfairly" by government regulations. I would suggest that any company which has produced 9 consecutive quarters of record corporate profits must be doing fairly well.
The thing which really annoyed me this past week was a brochure asking people to support Telstra's Broadband Australia Campaign. This particular campaign relies on emotive grounds to get the public to support a corporation which they previously used to own and which was sold via Mr Howard's "mandate", and specifically the pieces of legislation which created firstly Telstra as a Corporation and secondly its privatisation.

Consider this excerpt:
"Send a clear message to government and regulators that backward looking regulation should not get in the way of high-speed broadband and a stronger economy."
"Telstra wants to invest billions of dollars in delivering high-speed broadband across Australia. But backward-looking regulations, which prevent Telstra making a competitive return, are stopping us from building this infrastructure."

What Telstra hasn't told you here is that there are esentially 3 pieces of legislation which they do not wish to comply with anymore: Telecommunications Act 1959, Sale of Telstra Act 1996 and the Sale of Telstra Act (T3) 2003.
The regulations provide specifically that:
In the course of building new infrastructure Telstra should provide a comparable service to country and city customers so as not to discrimnate between them. - s.208E Sale of Telstra Act (T3) 2003.
Fair enough you might say, but when you consider the vast distances which Australia covers, to do this is an investment which Telstra would have to now find funding for by itself which it previously did not. If a high-speed broadband service is provided in Melbourne, then the regulations provide that a "comparable service" must be provided to Karratha or Longreach by the same logic. Intruguingly s.19 of the same act drew in a "shading period" of 10 years from the end of the full sale of Telstra, which would mean that these are quietly dropped at the end of 2013, which has by the way been convieniently ignored.

"Government and regulators should give Telstra a fair go to invest in high-speed broadband, rather than subsidising foreign companies that send their profits and valuable jobs offshore"
Somehow a key factor has been silently forgotten here. I ask the corporation how much they actually paid to set up their copper wire network in the first place? $100bn? $50bn? $2bn? $100? Try jack squat. Telstra inherited its biggest single piece of infrastructure without paying so much as a single red cent for any of it - the reason was in theory that it simply didn't need to. Any investment which was forthcoming up until 2003 was paid directly out of Federal Government taxes. Subsidising foreign companies eh? There's a $29bn asset which Telstra never paid for, and was given for free.
Part of this relates to Investec's bid to install a $4bn fibre-to-the-node network. Investec has in theory joined with NZ Telecom, Optus, Cable & Wireless, Singtel and perhaps worryingly Macquarie Investment Corp to produce a joint venture called G9.
Telstra's own fibre-to-the-node network was canned in 2005 on the basis that traffic volumes on their own network would not warrant the initial investment in the first place, but they didn't tell us that in their brochure either.

If you happen to visit the offical website for this at we happen to find this lovely piece of information:
Exactly one month after Telstra launched its Broadband Australia Campaign, the Federal Labor Party has promised to act on the issue, pledging $4.7 billion for a national high speed broadband network.
Um... didn't Telstra want to stop government subisidies? Where exactly does this $4.7bn come from? Oh my aching head.

"In Australia we only have a couple of million people on broadband and they don't even get 1MB. I think it's a disgrace. They can do it in Japan, they can do it in South Korea. We should be able to do it here" - Rupert Murdoch, Australian Fin Review 16 Nov 2006
It you read through the financial reports for the year ended 30 Jun 2006, the proposals for future broadband it would appear are to be funded by "Foxtel" which is 49% owned by Fox Networks. Fox being a News Corporation company doesn't actually trade on the ASX as they delisted and moved operations to the NYSE back in 2004; since Telstra is a 100% private company now, it in theory could be owned by anyone, provided anti-offshore regulations don't rule this out. I wonder if Telstra would cry blue murder if Sky Networks wanted to install their own fibre-to-the-node network like they have in the UK, Netherlands, Hongkong, Canada and Japan, without their approval.

Privatising a telco giant was never going to do anything for the minority who live outside the surban sprawl of the major cities; who still need a viable infrastructure to link the whole country, not just focus on what is good for Sydney and Melbourne. A private company is not going to waste money on little return, but zoom in on the cash cow. As a company its responsibility is not to the customers but the board and shareholders.

Fair enough, privatise Telstra and make these "leeches" actually work for their money as telephone and communications providers but maintain a government-responsible mechanism to take over, develop and maintain our future infrastructure needs. Perhaps (shock, horror) we need to take this responsibility away from the corporation and give it to people who need to maintain their communications skills at a very high level - military communications personnel. After all, they are the ones who are going to have to repair and maintain communications links in time of crisis.

In the meantime, could Telstra please remember that they are a special corporation who was borne of unique circumstances. No-one else was given $29bn for free. We don't hear Qantas, the Commonwealth Bank or GIO whinging do we?

March 25, 2007

Horse 739 - The Third Bucket

I really don't understand how Australia can be called truly "democratic". The way that Government is decided in this country is that once every four years, people turn up at their local polling place and bosh a few numbers on a piece of paper for some bozos who've they've never heard of before (even during the campaign) to give them a $120,000 a year job for sitting around and ignoring the constituents.

There is a common phrase "choosing the lesser of two evils", but in an election you usually get the choice of 3 incompotents, two ratbags and someone who actually believes in something but wont be elected anyway. People often forget that when they actually do pick "the lesser of two evils" they've still chosen an evil, which in the case of government means a continued state of not enough money being spent on public services and laws passed which help the people who sponsored the politcal parties in the first place.

Perhaps we could change the system to one where every four years you could turn up and stick your head in a bucket of something nasty of your choice. Exit poles would have people saying things like:
My family has been sticking our head in cold porridge for 60 years.
I'm not telling you what I've stuck my head in because it's a secret ballot.
I went for the independant bucket of sump oil.
I didn't really care what I stuck my head in, so I just went for the first thing I saw.

I think that this way voters wouldn't be any worse off and it would validate the inconvenience of turning up at a polling place once every four years.

March 23, 2007

Horse 738 - I Don't Know Jack Crapp

Jack Crapp (1912-1981) was the captain of Gloucestershire between 1936 and 1953; a dependable batsman and a fine fieldsman, who early in his career was thought of as a potential Test batsman. However when the shadow of the Second World War loomed long, it cut through what should have been the peak of his cricket career.

When Australia toured in 1948 with the resumption of sporting events, he was called up for England in a particularly dismal series when the Australians (who would later be called the Invincibles) beat them 4-0 in the test series and never lost once on tour. The English team was captained by Norman Yardley.

He would be remembered for facing a fiendish delivery from Keith Miller which struck him on the head. Barely conscious he struggled on and saw a great line of the English tail fall away without score before he himself would also succumb.

On the England tour of South Africa for the summer of 1948/49 his form wasn't brilliant and Crapp was dropped from the Test side in 1949. He continued to perform well for Gloucestershire, becoming their first professional captain in 1953. In 1955 he handed over the role to George Emmett.

He finished with a first-class record of 35.03 having scored over 23,000 first-class runs. He played in 7 Test Matches and after his playing career was over, he became an umpire and presided over numerous County and Test Matches.

It's true that I don't know Jack Crapp, but I know about Jack Crapp.

March 22, 2007

Horse 737 - Laughter Is A Drug

WARNING: This post is rated MA15+, it contains drug references.

On the ABC news on the radio at lunchtime today there was an item to do with the increase of crimes relating to substance abuse in Australia and at the time I was doing the flip around for something else, so consequently this wrote itself.
He came into town with his 6-puns blazin' and a firin'

I think that one of the biggest sources of addiction in Australia without a doubt has to be Ikea. People go there and start on small items like lamps and doorbells for a quick buzz. Sometimes they start on soft-core things like beanbags and sofas and maybe pillows and cushions.

Invariably this moves onto harder stuff like dining suites and sideboards, then we find that they're getting into cuboards and wardrobes. I tried getting onto Mary J once. The only one that I knew of was Mary J Kostakidis at SBS, and her answering machine was always on, so I assume that getting onto Mary J must be very difficult indeed; it wasn't worth the effort let me tell you.

No, after you've been through flat-packed furniture, eventually the habit becomes difficult to break. I imagine that substance abuse is when you start yelling at a pot of glue because you couldn't glue Slot F into Hole G. It gets worse when you hit a piece of marble (which is a far harder substance) with a hammer.

I knew I had gone too far when I bought a flat-packed Eiffel Tower. I was getting really high, like a thousand feet in the air or something when I realised that I'd not installed the lifts or the viewing platforms, so coming down would be hard. I should have known after I'd bought that flat-packed Albert Memorial that was issued with 11,000 Phllips Heads and several Allen Keys that eventually all of this would lead to me being screwed up monumentally.

Next week I'm going to try Heroine - I think I'll start with Miss Marple or maybe Kim Possible. The problem is that I have a fear of needles. I tried them once and all I did was knit granny a jumper.

March 20, 2007

Horse 736 - Three Lions vs Six Points for 3 Points??

This Saturday 24th March, England travel to Tel Aviv for their Group E clash against Israel in the Euro 2008 Football Championship. Since when was Israel part of Europe? Aren't they closer to Africa or Asia?

To understand why Israel is part of UEFA, one needs a short history of Israel. Before 1917 is was part of the Ottoman Empire and until 1948 with the creation of the modern state, was a British Protectorate (so in all honesty, Palestine's claims are bogus - but that's a whole other topic). In 1929 the IFA (Israelli Football Association) was admitted to FIFA and in 1956 when the requirements to join a confederation were established, they joined Asia.

Based on pressure from the Arabic states who refused to play against Israel in all competitions, Israel was voted out of the AFC in 1971 and left them without a path to the World Cup at all. FIFA eventually listened to reason and they played qualifiers through Oceania. In 1991 they were admitted to UEFA as a full member and have played in every tournament since.
Also perhaps related is that Israel is one of the members of the European Broadcasting Union and is thus elligible for the Eurovision Song Contest which they have won 3 times (it is also worth noting that Morocco entered in 1980 but has failed to qualify since).

England arrive under the same cloud as Israel, Russia & Macedonia. Only two teams escape the group phase and potentiall it could be 2 out of 5 countries. Only Estonia and the tiny Principality of Andorra have failed to register a point in this tournament to date. So this means that this clash is rather pointed. It's worth noting that Israelli press blasted their coach for losing 4-3 to Croatia, for if they didn't then they'd be top of the group. Steve McLaren is also under the axehead, for if England lose then potentially he could get the chop.

Fingernails at the ready... commence biting!

March 19, 2007

Horse 735 - No Big Words?

This post has been made with only tiny words so that folk who do not get big words can read it. In a chat that I had, Steve said that this blog was too hard too read as it had too many big words. But I have found that it is very not easy to say what you want with only tiny words and the tone and lilt of your mind gets lost and you end up with a post that just looks kind of well... silly.

It made me think about the folk who are only at the start with English and how hard it must be to say what you want and not look like you are ten years old. Even at the time when I wrote this, it was very hard to put an idea into words if they were all tiny. Try it, it is hard. I also think that to some point you lose the feel and flow as the stop and start of the thing just trips you up.

"Not real" ideas can be very hard to say if you only keep to small words. To try to paint an image when most of your shades are not there is not easy thing to do at all. In fact it tells us why kids find it so hard to tell us what they want to say, for if they do not have the words, then how do they to tell us what they want at all?

It is a good thing that the flower of English has a lot more than the small words. If they were not here then many things of great worth would not have come to be, such as many poems, plays and books. It was George Orwell in his book 1984 who said that if you take away words, then you not only take away what people can say but also take away what they can think. If the words hold ideas and then those words stop being, then to take away the words means that the ideas will also stop.

Are big words a "good thing"? I think yes.

March 16, 2007

Horse 733 - Apathy Rules... Meh

If Jimmy cracked corn and people didn't care, then why did they write a song about it?
Today's Apathy Anonymous has been cancelled due to lack of interest.

Are you still here? Haven't lost interest yet? Why not close the browser and stare at a wall or something? I've got the cure for all known disease; I could make money grow on trees but that's not what motivates me, I'm interested in... aw stuff it.

Apathy. n. - I can't be bothered to do this bit.

The process of apathification has taken its strongest hold in Australia (which defies definition by being simultaneously an island, a continent and a country), where the power of apathy has been harnessed effectively to power all the major cities. With the rejection of the Kyoto Protocol by the current Howard Government, the only western country other than the United States not signing this agreement, the Howard Government has launched a large scale apathetic campaign toward the general population.
Apathetic power thus forms the basis of Howard's current energy and environmental policy. John Howard now pushes apathetic power as the solution to Global Warming having now abandoned his former promotion of Carbon Sequestration. The New South Wales state Labor government has followed suit and has publicised its plans to harness the unlimited supply of apathy to power the new desalination plant being built at Kurnell, NSW.

In recent years, activists have been working hard to fight the rising tide of apathy around the world. Thus far, the primary technique appears to be constant nagging, poking, and prodding. This generally does succeed in providing the recipient with some motivation, though it is often only the motivation to strike the activist hard, and this motivation subsequently vanishes once the act is complete.

Some researchers believe that highly-caffeinated coffee could be used to fight apathy, but its highly addictive nature, combined with recent reports of ultra-violence caused by drinking cheap instant coffee with artificial sweeteners, have made this choice impractical.

I have just noticed that the title should have been...
Horse 734 - Apathy Rules... Meh
but I can't be bothered to change that either.

March 15, 2007

Horse 733 - The Grumpy Lady of Town

Sydneysiders who listen to FM radio in the mornings will have noticed for about the last month a shift in the way the town's Lord Mayor's name is pronounced. Triple M, The Shebang's Marty Sheargold and Fifi Box have taken to Clover Moore's name by rhyming it with Clobber not Rover.

The theory goes that Clovver (for the purposes of pronounciation) had a run in the the Rev. Dr. Doug Mulray on Triple M in the early 90s and has refused to appear on the Ms ever since. Clovver was elected in 1992 and Mulray went off Triple M in 1999, so if anything it would have been while she was still just only the independant MP for Bligh in the NSW Lower House. She was not Lord Mayor of Sydney until 2004.

When The Shebang moved from it's drive slot to breakfast, Marty and Fifi were congratulated by Premier Morris Iemma, former Premier Bob Carr, opposition leader Peter Debenham, and several celebrities but Clovver was nowhere to be found. She'd remained incommunicado and when pushed her office sent an official refusal to Triple M.

The interesting thing here is that this is a personal matter and not one of political bias. In theory because Clovver is an Independant, she doesn't have any political bias other than her own. As Lord Mayor she caused controversy at Christmas 2004 by not providing a budget on PC grounds for Christmas decorations in the city, a practice which had been going on since 1946.

She officially claims to be a Roman Catholic but famously diverted $322,000 to the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in 2005 and openly supports Gay rights as per her Private Members Bill to the NSW State Parliament in 1993. I don't know if she does happen to be a la-la but she's appalling enough that she may as well be.

Whatever the case, even if she turns out not to be a la-la, Clovver still presents as a cranky lady much like the Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher. People will soon start calling out sourpuss and grumpyface.

March 13, 2007

Horse 732 - Right of Way

I found this article in today's SMH. This has been stolen without permission.

Jordan Baker Transport Reporter
March 13, 2007

SYDNEYSIDERS are confused about the rights of pedestrians, and their mistakes are putting lives at risk, a study has found. Many people are mistaking sections of brick paving and pedestrian refuges with official crossings, and think they have more rights on zebra crossings than they really do, the researchers found.

The authors of the report, published in the international journal Accident Analysis and Prevention, questioned almost 600 people across NSW about their understanding of right-of-way laws. Half the Sydney residents surveyed wrongly thought brick paving on the road gave them right of way. Twenty-seven per cent mistakenly believed a pedestrian refuge was an official crossing.

Sydneysiders were more likely to believe pedestrians had right of way than the respondents in the county.

Julie Hatfield, of the Injury Risk Management Research Centre of the University of NSW, was the report's lead author. She said brick paving confused both drivers and pedestrians.
"[They are] a couple of metres wide and look like they are a crossing, but they don't operate as a crossing," she said. "Nobody is really too sure. There's about 20 per cent that didn't know what the hell they meant."

Dr Hatfield called for these paved sections to be turned into official crossings or removed. "As far as I can see, they have no road safety benefit. I think it is done for aesthetic reasons."

However, pedestrian refuges - bays in the middle of the road to allow pedestrians to cross one section at a time - did have a safety benefit, especially for older people, Dr Hatfield said.

Most respondents knew drivers had to slow down and stop when a pedestrian was on a zebra crossing. However, 71 per cent wrongly thought the pedestrian also had right of way while waiting at a crossing.
The researchers also observed 2854 people on signalled crossings. They found there was confusion over who had right of way when drivers were turning left on a green signal and coming into the path of pedestrians who were also given the green light.

In NSW 78 per cent of collisions between pedestrians and vehicles occur when people cross roads.

This may be a revelation to the people at the Sydney Morning Herald but this is what the law has to say:

Australian Road Rules Act 2000

Section 3. Rights of Way
(2) Pedestrians shall have total rights of way in all circumstances except by operation of appropriate legislation.


Section 26. Pedestrians to use footways and footbridges
(1) A pedestrian must not go onto any part of a tollway, motorway or expressway other than a footway or footbridge.

Interestingly nowhere else in NSW traffic legislation are pedestrians even mentioned, which means that as the law stands they have total rights except on motorways where they're not allowed to go in the first place.
Let's apply the law as it stands shall we?

"think they have more rights on zebra crossings than they really do"
Pedestrians shall have total rights of way in all circumstances - What could be more right than 100%?

"Half the Sydney residents surveyed wrongly thought brick paving on the road gave them right of way."
Pedestrians shall have total rights of way in all circumstances - Technically speaking the brick doesn't "give" them right of way, especially considering that they already had total right of way.

"71 per cent wrongly thought the pedestrian also had right of way while waiting at a crossing."
Pedestrians shall have total rights of way in all circumstances - 71% would be correct, they have right of way everywhere except motorways.

"They found there was confusion over who had right of way when drivers were turning left on a green signal and coming into the path of pedestrians who were also given the green light."
Pedestrians shall have total rights of way in all circumstances - Well there should be any confusions, pedestrians have right of way.

"In NSW 78 per cent of collisions between pedestrians and vehicles occur when people cross roads."
Um... where else are they likely to occur? In people's living rooms? Perhaps in the shower? Maybe inside a department store? What is your game here?

Pedestrians have right of way EVERYWHERE. Get that? EVERYWHERE. If you're driving a motor car and a pedestrian runs out in front of you, deliberately, wielding an axe and a shotgun, with the intent to kill you, even if they actually shoot you and kill you rendering your car effectively without a driver and your car then runs over them, it is still your fault.

Pedestrians shall have total rights of way in all circumstances except on any part of a tollway, motorway or expressway other than a footway or footbridge.

March 12, 2007

Horse 731 - You Know a Bunch of Stuff? So What?

There's a small bit in the letter of James in chapter 2 which reads:
You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that — and shudder.
Now this got me thinking about these entities which for the most part we can not see. What the heck do they believe? What do they know that may be of some use? They obviously believe in one God, as stated above but what else.

Part of the answer may be found in the gospel of Matthew. We're told somewhere in chapter 8 (I can't remember at the moment) that there was this man who was possessed by demons (as opposed to being repossessed which is when they can't make their mortgage repayments) and Jesus shows up and drives them into a herd of pigs who decide to drown themselves.

They actually call Jesus the Son of God; further to that they also submit to his authority. Also, they make mention that they fear being tortured before "the time appointed". So then, here we have a group of beings who: Believe that God exists; believe that Jesus is the Son of God; believe that they're under his authority and that ultimately they will be judged by him. The story is repeated in Mark 5 (probably) and we're told there that when the man saw Jesus he fell down and worshipped him.

Now for the crunch - even if you happen to know all of the Gospel and believe that it's true, it is still possible for it to mean precisely nought. Knowing a bunch of facts without doing anything with them is pointless. I know that Queen Beatrix is the Queen of the Netherlands, that she became Queen in 1980, but that still doesn't in any way shape or form even make the slightest bit Dutch.

March 09, 2007

Horse 730 - Melting a Snowman

I'm not citing this as an example of my brilliance by a long shot, nor do I wish to brag by this. Hopefully you may learn something from this experience though... I think I have.

At work I've had to deal with a particularly nasty person. They're extremely slow in paying bills (they always go at least 120 days from the invoice being sent) and when they do want something done, they will complain until they're black and blue in the face that they want the work done now, they want it done tommorrow or they want it done yesterday. They demand some of this, less of that, and plenty of that and tommorrow their demands will have changed so we'd better stay awake.

This particular person is a real estate agent and on the whole they're not known for their luminence of character; especially this person.

It came upon us that one of their clients wanted to get some background information on them. Owing to confidentiality requirements (because if you can't tell someone in confidence, then they aren't worth knowing), I told this person that our real estate agent friend was a skilled operator (which although is true, doesn't mention anything about their character) and they went away happy. The truth is that the job would be done very well, even if they don't see us as particularly important.

Not long after this, I wrote to the estate agent and told them that I'd slashed their latest invoice by 8% and then enclosed a voucher for two people to go to quite a nice restaurant in Mosman. My boss thought I was stark raving bonkers and wanted to know what possessed me to do such a crazy thing and I told him that if we showed a little bit of kindness to our most difficult clients, despite and in spite of them being a persnickety ogre, then even if we get nothing back then at least we may have warmed their heart of ice a bit.

People find it very very difficult to be nasty to someone who's just been nice to them. It was once said of Eleanor Roosevelt that she got even in a way with someone that was almost cruel, she forgave them.
There is a famous story of the sun and the wind having a competition to see who could take the coat off a man. The wind blew and blew but the man held his coat even tighter. It blew even stronger and the man hid behind a tree to get out of its way. But the sun shone warmly and gently and the man who was now warm, took off his coat without complaint.

I don't mean killing someone with kindness either, but at some point you just realise that repaying what you got only escalates it, be it violence, kindness, apathy or dare I say it love.

March 08, 2007

Horse 729 - The Internet is Old

People may not realise this, but the interwebs is a far older thing that what people imagine.

The parable of the Prodigal Son found in Luke 15:11–32 is somewhat of a curiosity. The word Prodigal does not mean lost as many people would assume but is the same root word as Prodigy and thus would be better rendered as "extravagant".
We find these words: He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. No-one is suggesting that one should actually eat portable music players, however if you consider the value of the devices, then this perhaps understandable. It is just possible that he may have intended to smuggle them out of the country.

Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus or more commonly just Claudius, succeeded Caligula. His autobiography "I, Claudius" is actually somewhat of a mistranslation, when it should actually read iClaudius.
Owing to the grammatical order of Latin, a common misconception has been propogated about the emperor Nero. The truth is that he was quite a skilled sound engineer and in the Circus Maximus, the Rome Symphony Orchestra were assembled. On that particular day, the string section happened to be performing and Nero recorded this onto CD; thus Rome fiddled while Nero burnt.

It's a little known fact that The Great Fire of London of 1666 was actually caused by an electrical fault in a router, which caused a stack of printed reports to catch fire. Before the advent of electricity, Bulletin Boards were physical things with messages sent in by mail; hencce the expression "posting".

Swiss folklore holds that William Tell courageously shot an Apple from his son's head with his crossbow, defying a tyrannical ruler and bringing freedom to his people. More than likely it was probably a G3 with a dud CD drive.

March 07, 2007

Horse 728 - Commodore's Kids

The red machine is the UK's new Vauxhall VXR8, which also happens to be Australia's HSV Clubsport R8 (ignore that "based-on" nonsense... this is as straight a rebadge as you'll ever see). Both are the evil spawn of the morbidly ugly Holden VE Commodore as presented after the speed freaks at HSV have had their way with it.

In this case, "having their way" means 420bhp in the old money or if you wish, the UK variant is 323kW as opposed to 307kW in Oz or a paltry 275kW in Pontiac's G8 "GT". The source of the enhanced juice is GM's muscled-up 6L V8 but instead of running 87RON in the US or 91RON in Australia, the UK VXR8 only runs on 95RON+

Operationally this is slightly bizarre. VXR being the performance department of GM in the UK (like HSV in Australia or Opel's OPC) also happens to be the biggest stakeholder in 888 Engineering who build their BTCC Touring Cars. 888 Engineering run the Vodafone Falcons in the V8 Supercars in Australia, which are Fords... Hmm.

To take this a logical step further, the Australian car was built to GM's "global climate standards" which meant that the tolerances for the vehicle were build for America's open spaces and snows, and Britain's slushy winters but someone seemingly forgot Australia's arid interior which is where the car woudl spend a lot of its life. Most new owners of the VE Commodore have found sparkling problems littered throughout the car - most of these are electric related.

The G8 on the other hand has had an agressive American styling package thrust upon it, highlighted by strong garish Pontiac design cues, such as that massive dual-port grille, fog lamps, hood scoops and front fender vents. At the rear, jewel-like taillamps also are mounted in housings and feature bright work surrounding the red light clusters. G8 models have red taillamp lenses and twin chrome exhaust outlets, while G8 GT models feature clear taillamp lenses and quad chrome exhaust tips.

With the General starting to realise the benfits of European motoring (the Cobalt is a re-cued Astra & likewise the Malibu is a re-cued Vectra) I don't know what they're possibly trying to achieve with the Pontiac brand. The car has logical competitors from within it's own stable such as the Buick Lucerne and the Chevrolet Imapala. I wonder if this car will suffer from cultural imperialsm like the ill-fated Monaro/GTO.

It looks like after all this time that Holden may have possibly found the markets for their Billion-Dollar-Baby. Time will tell if they just threw the cash into the wind.

Horse 727 - I Believe I Can Fly

Horse 727 is posted on 7/3/7 but not on a 727 or a 737 but if you happen to be reading this on a 727 or a 737, then good luck.

A report put out by some university this week (and I only caught the tail end of this on the radio, so my research is skimpy) has suggested that children's confidence levels tend to lead them to engage in more dangerous behaviours while dressed up like superheroes. To put this in layman's terms if you dress up your kids like Superman then they're more likely to try to fly.

It got me thinking about the many stories (and personal experiences) where kids have tried to jump off the roof thinking they were some sort of superhero. Kids imaginations are huge, and I know that they can really believe that if they do something, then something else happens. One of my neighbour's kids was really really angry that when he put on his Batman suit, that he couldn't fly; I remember that we were on holidays once and some kids was covered in red ink and bawling because he'd tried to be Spider-Man and failed.

Knowing this has given me a very wise thought. If I ever have children, I'm going to give them some white make-up and a clown costume; that way they can dress up like a mime. All I'd have to be worried about then is that they accidentally got trapped inside an invisible box or were caught walking against the wind. The only down side to this is that they might think that they're Canio the Sad Clown from Pagliacci or perhaps will want to don the schellenmütze (I don't even know the English word for this - the cap and bells?) and marotte. Either way they'll look ironically less stupid than some kid in the supermarket who thinks they're Batman.

March 02, 2007

Horse 726 - iTwenty Five

Brendan did it - James did it - I follow... how dull ^_^

1. Australian Radio Callsigns - Adverts - Australian Radio
This is a compliation of various radio callsigns from around the country. Like so much of the things on my iPod this forms part of the music furniture but whether it is actually music in it's own right is debateable.
Keepin Melbourne Rockin 3-X-Y

2. Choose Life - PF Project
The sample in this song comes directly from the beginning of Trainspotting as said by Ewen McGregor. As a dance/trance track it's not that interesting otherwise.
I chose not to choose life, I chose something else.

3. An Own Goal By Paraguay - Radio 1 - Chris Moyles Show
The Chris Moyles Show on BBC Radio 1 has a different opening sting for every morning that it's on air. This was the day after England beat Paraguay 1-0 in the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
The Chris Moyles Show - Rooney looks like Shrek! International Radio 1!

4. We Beat Jamaica Six - Nil - Radio 1 - Chris Moyles Show
This represented the biggest win for England under the tenure of Sven Goran-Eriksson. For at least a few days, hope sprang up.
We will win the Cup, unless we lose to Trinidad and stuff the whole thing up.

5. Soramimi Keeki (Fancy Hearing Cake) - Azumanga Daioh
I also have quite a few themes from television programs; this being the opening theme from the anime Azumanga Daioh.
The letters on the mysterious door say "Fancy Hearing Cake" (I think that's what it's translated as)

6. You Mean, During The Break? - Azumanga Daioh
Sometimes the soundtrack to a film (or in this case an anime) is as memorable as the characters and the plot. Subconsciouisly we all know what certain cues in films happen to mean. I mean just listen to the opening theme of Star Wars for all of the consitutent components.
(No Lyrics)

7. Fall To Pieces - Avril Lavigne - Under My Skin
Next to Britney and Christina, Avril's first album looked distinctively dour. Maybe it's the series of sweeping guitar chords through this that make it so listenable.
I don't wanna fall to pieces, I just want to sit and stare at you.

8. Take Me To Another Town - Emma Bunton - Life In Mono
Ms Bunton has made 3 albums to date and sold more records than any other of the ex-Spices. This single was handily released just as she was appearing on Strictly Come Dancing, so the hopping along nature of this track was apt.
I go to Cairo, I go to St Tropez, there are too many people who keep getting in my way.

9. The Fallen - Franz Ferdinand - You Could Have It So Much Better
Almost mechanical in approach, Franz Ferdinand's second album was a good follow up. This song is like a call out to the troubled and dispossessed. You really have to stop yourself from bouncing around with this.
Well who gives a damn about the profits of Tesco?

10. Part of the Queue - Oasis - Don't Believe The Truth
Still the highest played song on the iPod, it made it to No.1 in 2005 and No.6 in 2006. Part of the Queue is one of those songs from the former "best band in the world" as declared by the NME, who no longer yell in out but kind of sigh.
Suddenly I've found that I've lost my way in the city, The streets and the thousands of colours all bleed into one.

11. Let There Be Love - Oasis - Don't Believe The Truth
Also from the same album, this is one of the few tracks where both Liam and Noel sing. This is not your typical "power ballad", in fact the whole thing sounds almost desperate and that's difficult to acheive.
Come on baby blue, shake out those tired eyes, the world is waiting for you.

12. A Whiter Shade of Pale - Procul Harem
Quite a mournful song, it uses a Hammond organ in a sort of Bach feel. In the film Good Morning Vietnam, it's used as the soundtrack to a firefront as people are being blown off the face of the earth.
We skid the light fandango, did cartwheels 'cross the floor.

13. Dont Get Any Better - Geri Better - Passion
From my Number 4 album of 2005, Geri belts out a chunky disco song. Steve Wright on Radio 2 played this quite a lot and for a while, immediately after it would be Ask Elvis.
What I got is what I need and I know it's good enough for me.

14. Knock 'Em Out - Lily Allen - Alright, Still
It's strange that a lady who it must be said is so middle class was able to produce such a ladette album. This deals with the disappointment of far too many Friday Nights in the city.
And you're like, no not in a million years. Leave me alone, you're nasty.

15. Jerusalem - Fat Les
This will usually for part of the Last Night of the Proms, but in recent years has been taken to the terraces by football crowds. This is William Blake's poem, turned into Parry's hymn. King George V suggested that it should replace God Save the King as the national anthem.
Bring me my bow of burning gold; bring me my arrows of desire. Bring me my spear, oh clouds unfold. Bring me my chariot of fire.

16. Wonderwall - Oasis - What's The Story (Morning Glory)?
If there was a trademark for what defined Britriock then this is that stamp. By far their most famous song, it was pipped by Country House by Blur for the number 1 spot. It also uses that curious trick of throwing in a cello.
Backbeat, the word is on the street that the fire in your heart is out.

17. Don't Look Back In Anger - Oasis - What's The Story (Morning Glory)?
I think of Wembley in 2000 when I hear this - 90,000+ people all singing the chorus. This is yet another one of those songs in which Pachelbel had managed to hide himself.
Stand up beside the fireplace; take that look from off your face. You aint ever gonna burn my heart out.

18. 92.5 FM Community - Radio Luxembourg
Radio Luxembourg was able to subvert British radio licensing laws by transmitting with an insane amount of power from the Low Country.
(it is and does what it says on the box)

19. Let's Begin - Azumanga Daioh
You know the routine now. From the soundtrack album, this is an extended version of the little grabs that enclose the ad breaks.
(no lyrics)

20. New School Term 5 - Azumanga Daioh
Starting to notice a pattern here? This is played on a tin whistle and a tamborine of something and sounds insanely happy.
(no lyrics)

21. My Happy Ending - Avril Lavigne - Under My Skin
One of those songs on the radio about a break up that spits acerbic. It also happens to play with dramatic pauses quite effectively.
Don't leave me hanging, in a city so dead. Held up so high on such a breakable thread.

22. C'est La Vie - B*Witched
Irish group B*Witched managed to combine plastic pop with traditional Irish Jiggery in a way that for about 3 months was fun but on reflection has gone the same way as a flock of seagulls haircut.
I'm the wolf today. I'll huff, I'll puff, I'll huff, I'll puff, I'll blow you away.

23. Three Lions '96 - Skinner, Baddiel and the Lightning Seeds
Hosts of Fantasy Football League and later Baddiel and Skinner Unplanned inadvertantly created a terrace chant that would resurface for 1998 and later for 2002. The songs speaks not of England's success but the fact that since 1966, every tournament has ended in dashed hopes and the feeling that England will never again reach those heights.
Three Lions on the shirt, Jules Rimet still gleaming. Thirty years of hurt, never stopped me dreaming.

24. Steve Wright: Ask Elvis - 01-09-06 - BBC Radio 2
Ask Elvis is a segment on Steve Wright's afternoon radio show in the UK in which people ask "Elvis" questions ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. This particular podcast opened with someone asking Elvis about the legals status of what a landowner actually owned.
A snap head rivet is different to a mushroom head rivet and they have very different applications. Give me the pieces, The King wants to build a battleship.

25. Steve Wright: Ask Elvis - 25-08-06 - BBC Radio 2
As above.
I think you're giving yourself a whole mess of problems if you try and stich hexagons together with a machine. I'd do that by hand.