March 25, 2008

Horse 872 - Anger Management

Manchester Utd 3 - Liverpool 0

My reactions live to this were that this was one of the most disgraceful displays of a player reaction in a long time; not helped by the fact he completely lost his cool and would not leave the pitch until he was dragged away by Liverpool players and management. Mascherano, however, believes he should not have been penalised in the first instance. He told the Liverpool Echo after the game: "I do not know why I was sent off. When the referee showed me the second yellow card and sent me off I could not believe it. I asked the referee what was happening. I did not swear, I was not aggressive and I did not confront him."

Mascherano's behaviour came in the wake of Chelsea defender Ashley Cole's show of petulance to referee Mike Riley last week and the Football Association's launch of their 'Respect' campaign - aimed at improving conduct towards officials. Notwithstanding Sir Alex Ferguson's outburst during the match which recieved precisely nothing (remember the FA did bring Sir Alex into contempt after similar rages against a referee back in November).

The problem with this is that in the context of the match the whole character of the fixture changed, with 10-men Liverpool constantly playing chasey for the second half. Several free kicks awarded to Man Utd for trivial offences merely added to the woes, and the second and third goals were merely outworkings of this.

Somewhere down the line, the referee has to be brought into question though. It's all very well to protect the referee from dissent but I wonder at what point his performance should be questioned. Vidic escaped scott-free from his tackle on Fernando Torres, when in the same match, yellows were dealt out for far lesser offences. When Anderson brought down Torres, he was not even punished by Bennett, who re-started the game after treatment for the player with a drop-ball in the United half. Torres now awaits the results of scans on ankle and back injuries.

And now:

Kofi Considers
"I think it would be better as Kofi Konsiders"

Maybe... I hadn't thought of that...
Well Considered!

March 21, 2008

Horse 871 - I Can Do Rhymes, Time After Time(s)

It has often been said to me that there are not rhymes in the English Language for Purple, Orange and Silver. I hope to lay this rumour to be but replace it with a whole slew of other words for of which rhyming words exist, I know not.

Hurple - To hobble along with one leg dragging along behind the other.
Curple - is the leather strap passing under a horse's tail and is buckled to the saddle to stop it slipping forwards. It can also refer the rump or hindquarters of a horse in general usage.

Chilver - is the correct and proper name for a ewe lamb. Interestingly the name for a young male lamb is the same as a castrated lamb - a whether; why this is the case I also know not.

Sporange - any plant or fungal system that contains spores. Although it's debateable whether this should be included as the singular for Sporangia which includes the whole panoply of Sporanges, for utility, there simply isn't any other singular.
Borange - that little decorative thing that hangs down off the end of a curtain tie. The most common place to find a borange is on a Portiere or a curtained doorway if you will.

I however know of no rhymes for the following:
Almond, angry, angst, anxious, aspirin, bachelor, breadth, bulbous, calumny, cannabis, caveat, chaos, chimney, chocolate, circus, citrus, citizen, condom, denizen, depth, diamond, different, eighth, elbow, else, empty, engine, fifth, film, foible, fugue, galaxy, glimpsed, gulf, golf, hostage, husband, iron, justice, laundry, luggage, monster, month, mulcts, ninth, neutron, obvious, office, olive, pint, pedant, penguin, pizza, plankton, plinth, promise, reptile, sanction, sandwich, shadow, transfer, twelfth, vacuum, width, wolf

Anyone who wishes to take up the challenge them please feel free to hunt and find them.

And now:

Kofi Considers

Generally speaking Mr Annan most multi-syllable words do not have perfect rhymes. Well Considered!

March 20, 2008

Horse 870 - Tunnel Vision
Sydney will build a $12 billion metro rail link between the city and its northwest suburbs in the first stage of the nation's biggest infrastructure development. The rail line will run underground from the city to Rouse Hill with completion expected by 2017, the NSW state government said in a statement on its website. The 38 kilometre metro link will have 17 stations with connections to existing railway stations and buses.

Premier Morris Iemma's Sydney Link project is designed to halve commuting times and take pressure off the existing train and road network with a series of metro lines intersecting the city. The north-west route will carry 60,000 passengers an hour and cut travel time from Rouse Hill to the city to 45 minutes from an hour and a half.

Top idea Mr Iemma. You do of course realise that this was touted back in the Christie report of 2001, appeared on CityRail maps to be completed by 2007 and still not even a sod of earth has been turned on the project? Yes, the northwest of Sydney has been screaming out for public transport for nigh on 30 years. Still, the Eastern Suburbs Railway line was cut back in 1935 and wasn't opened until 44 years later - by that logic I expect that King William VI will open the line in 2045.

This I find worrying though.

"Construction of the north west Metro provides an additional corridor into the CBD for residents," Mr Iemma said in the statement. "Metro rail is already operating successfully in more than 30 cities around the world and in Sydney will form a broader strategy to benefit more than 2 million people."

Construction of the single-deck, heavy rail system will start in 2010. The government plans to progressively announce new components of the metro network, which may include lines to the south-eastern beach suburb of Malabar and Parramatta in the west.

Sounds great right? WRONG! Iemma wants private enterprise to front with the cash and given the total cock-up of the M2, the M7, the M5, the Cross-City Tunnel, the Gore Hill Freeway and Epping Rd and the complete lack of skill which saw electricity prices triple in Victoria and Connex chuck a spaz in Melbourne, my faith in the private sector to deliver a project like this is about the same as my faith in the Iemma Goverment to deliver... anything really.

The problem with private enterprise is that quite rightly so, they need to return profits and capital to their shareholders but a major piece of infrastructure like a railway line really serves as a public utility that may live well beyond the lifespan of current shareholders and profit motives. When the Sydney Harbour Bridge was started in 1923, I'm almost certain they the expected the utility of it to last far longer than the end of the profit cycle; and 76 years later it still is a vital transport link.

This requires two little things called vision and foresight, which sadly not many politicians in my lifetime have had the courage to show.

And now:

One Word Weather With Nelson Mandela

Keep smiling Mr Mandela, you are a ray of sunshine to us all.

March 18, 2008

The Geordie Thermometer

Stolen but well worth it...

Southerners turn on their heating.
Geordies plant their gardens.

Southerners shiver uncontrollably.
Geordies Sunbathe.

Southern cars will not start.
Geordies drive with their windows down

Southerners wear coats, gloves, and wool hats.
Geordies throw a t-shirt on (Girls start wearing mini-skirts)

Southerners begin to Evacuate.
Geordies go swimming in the North Sea.

Southern landlords turn up the heat.
Geordies have the last barbecue before it gets cold.

Southerners cease to exist.
Geordies throw on a lightweight jacket.

Polar bears wonder if it’s worth it.
Geordie Boy Scouts start wearing long trousers.

Santa Claus abandons the North Pole.
Geordies put on their long johns.

Alcohol freezes.
Geordies become frustrated because the pubs are shut.

Microbiological life starts to disappear.
The cows on Newcastle town moor complain of vets with cold hands.

All atomic motion stops.
Geordies start to stamp their feet and blow on their hands.

Hell freezes over.
Sunderland qualify for Europe

March 15, 2008

Horse 869 - Real Estate Agents Are Scum

I would like to express my extreme disappoinment and disgust with the real estate industry. This bloated sack of parasites who live off of the commission of buying and selling houses and who control rent books, work as little as they possibly can.

I have discovered that some do not bother to show up on the weekends, and have had the legislation written such that they are not legally obliged to deal with you unless you have seen the property in question. Mind you, then average time that a house is available for inspection in the first place is only 15 minutes for which they charge the person who actually owns the place a minimum of $400 for sending someone to stand around and look disinterested.

How is someone who is already working for a living, expected to drop everthing and trape halfway across this city in the first place, to meet with someone for a quarter of an hour with no guarantee that they'll show up in the first place?

From looking at the other side of the accounts, I've more or less come to the conclusion that estate agents are slimy people, who employ back office staff at the absolute minimum wage they possibly can. These people are the leeches of society, the utter scum of the pond, full of sound and wind, contributing... NOTHING!

And now:

One Word Weather With Nelson Mandela

The weather, yes - My disposition, no.

March 12, 2008

Horse 867 - Grumpy Sir Alex & Glorious Cup Ties

This is a Horse in two parts: A front end and a back end... is it a patomime horse?

The Front End

The Football Association have contacted Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and assistant Carlos Queiroz to ask them to explain their comments following the FA Cup quarter-final defeat to Portsmouth. Both parties have until Wednesday, March 19 to respond and could face disciplinary charges.

An irate and grumpy Sir Alex said: "It's absolutely ridiculous. I cannot explain it. Managers get sacked because of things like that and he's going to referee a game next week. He's not doing his job properly and he needs to be assessed. I'm assessed as a manager, players are assessed, referees should be assessed properly by the right people. That performance today should not be accepted by our game."

This all happens to fall into the same vein as José Mourinho when he complained about a supposed penalty against Liverpool in a Champions League Semi Final: "The referee had a very bad game but, like everybody in the game - me, the players, everybody - he made a mistake and his mistake was the Arbeloa handball. But it was a decision against us, a big one. If it's a penalty it's a big decision. If it's a direct free kick, you reduce the percentages for the possibility for being a goal."

It's understandable that when in the pressure cooker situation of critical matches, managers tend to let off steam rather badly. It can't be easy for someone when you're in charge of a football team worth millions of pounds or worse if in the case of Man United, a shade over half a billion quid.

Naturally Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp disagreed with the suggestion of bias in his side's victory: "The referee was not on our side, that's for sure. He didn't have to be because there wasn't a bad tackle in the game."

The Back End.

The back end of a horse is it's bottom... Sir Alex Ferguson is one of the biggest horse's arse of them all.

Man Utd 0 - Portsmouth 1
Barnsley 1 - Chelsea 0
Middlesbrough 0 - Cardiff City 2
Bristol Rovers 1 - West Bromwich Albion 5

I don't care what anyone says, the romance of the FA Cup is back. The FA Cup being the third oldest sporting trophy in the world (behind the Americas Cup (1851)) has always offered the opportunity for minnows to kill giants; the four clubs who've done this have all slayed theirs and now deserve a chance at silverware.

Quite frankly, I despise the idea of putting Premier League clubs in only the 3rd round in the first place, and this shows why. This year's cup tilt won't have poncy primpped up prima-donnas paid £100,000 a week for their poofy preening but proper football people from proper football towns; playing proper punitive pure football.

As a neutral now (grumble, grumble) the 2008 FA Cup race will be the most interesting and dare I say it, exciting in living memory. The FA Cup is the greatest competition in the world and to top that off, it's back at home where it should be - Wembley.

Brilliiiiiant, Fantastiiiiiic!

And now:

Tony Blair's Imaginary Victory
"The FA Cup"

I wonder if New Wembley also has 39 steps to the trophy like the old one did.

March 11, 2008

We Went Up Downtown

Their time was up. Without the money the bank was going to beat them down. Quickly thinking they boarded their premises up and closed the buisness down. They then burnt the building down and watched as it went up in flames. down the street the police rolled up and when the police took down their names, they knew they gig was up. They were sent down to the Old Bailey and weren't allowed out until their time was up. Bit of a down I know but that's what you get for stuffing up like that.

Horse 866 - The Awesome Awesomeness of Awesome

AWESOME -- Given a one-year moratorium in 1984, when the Unicorn Hunters banished it "during which it is to be rehabilitated until it means 'fear mingled with admiration or reverence; a feeling produced by something majestic." Many write to tell us there's no hope and it's time for "the full banishment."

"The kind of tennis shoes you wear, no matter how cute, don't fit the majestic design of the word." -- Leila Hill, Damascus, Maryland.

"That a mop, a deodorant or a dating service can be called 'awesome' demonstrates the limited vocabularies of the country's copywriters." -- Tom Brinkmoeller, Orlando, Florida.

"Overused and meaningless.' My mother was hit by a car.' Awesome. 'I just got my college degree.' Awesome." -- Robert Bron, Pattaya, Chonburi, Thailand.

Wouldn't you know, I deleted and forgot where the link was... drat

I really despise the overuse of the word awesome. Awesome is one of those words which for some reason has come to take up a pointless placeholder in people's vocabulary. The OED defines the root word awe as to be filled with a deep sense of respect and fear and wonder. The things which I find are worthy of such a word are not a pair of sneakers, a sandwich or a new shirt.

Standing on a lookout at the Grose Valley gives you a sense of the awesome. To stand there is a case where creation yells so loudly that you're forced to stand there in the midst of your surrounds and simply shut up. - This is Awesome

I had the fortune to go for a wander around the Queen Mary 2 while she was in port in Sydney a while back. At 148,000 tonnes, 13 decks, and standing 60m above the water line, this is an awesome ship. She has 15 restaurants, an atrium which is 6 stories tall and a powerplant which generates 157,000 horsepower (over 5 and a half times the power of a Formula One grid). - This is Awesome

The white cliffs of Dover for a traveller returning to England are a stark reminder of the Sceptered Isle that is Britain. On a clear day you can see them from Calais which is 40 miles away. Voted Britains 3rd most important national wonder, they fill the traveller with a tremendous sense of wonder and that you're coming home. - This is Awesome

I think that the overuse of the word awesome has drained it of its power. Can you honestly say that Gustav Holst's Mars with its rising power is truly awesome anymore? What happens when faced with the raw power of the Atlantic Ocean that can rip ships to bits and which has sent many a mariner straight to Davy Jones' lock - how can that be awesome anymore? What of the utter vastness of the night sky, for which a zillion suns burn, wasting power as though it were rubbish? Where has the awesome gone? Is it really in a pair of Chuck Taylor All-Stars? I doubt it.

And now:

One Word Weather With Nelson Mandela

Are you right in there Mr Mandela?

March 10, 2008

Horse 865 - The Gall!.. Hill "Free"way

Although I could point the finger at Mr Iemma's Government and their total lack of leadership, their spineless policies on electricity and the paucity at which they treat the voter, this piece of invective is best directed at his predecessor Mr Carr. I refer now to the M2 Gore Hill Expressway and the Lane Cove Tunnel.

Epping Road which should be a main thoroughfare used to be two lanes in each direction. Then because extra traffic passed through the area, it was widened to three lanes back in 1986. Now apart from the obvious that this was part of the F2 Lane Cove Expressway plans back in 1963 of which Gladesville Bridge was really the only section built, the need for capacity was still obvious and so plans to continue the F1 Warringah Freeway were completed. This created a traffic blockage node at Epping Rd and the Pacific Highway, so further plans were made to divert traffic under Lane Cove by means of the Lane Cove Tunnel.

The Government in all their short-sighted and greedy wisdom decided that instead of building public infrastructure, they'd build the road and then pass ownership on to a private company. I object to toll-roads at the best of times, but when politicians are lining their coffers at the expense of the people who elected them something is very wrong.

But Lo, the private company comlplained that the traffic flows passing through the tunnel weren't collecting enough revenue. The solution as of today is to cut more lanes out of Epping Rd to not before 1986 levels but half that again. The practicle outcome of this is that what used to take me 62 minutes to get to work, on Day One of the new traffic measures took 114 minutes. So much for the "good and fair people of NSW".

But my complaint isn't necessarily directed at Mr Iemma who was lumbered with this. No the credit for this needs to go the the slimy scumbucket who mysteriously squirrled his way out of parliament just before the manure struck the fanblades - the "Right Honerable" bespectacled rapscallion Robert Carr.

Oh, by the way, just where is Mr Carr now? Well he happens to be a consultant for Macquarie Bank, who just happen to be the main shareholders of the Connector Motorway Group who own the Lane Cove Tunnel.
Why blame Mr Carr? Well, apparantly were we told of these changes when they were considered in the 2001 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and became part of the Planning Minister’s 2003 approval. They have been supported by a more recent Parliamentary Inquiry.$FILE/LCT%20Final%20compiled%20report%2017%20August.pdf

On Dec 8, 2006 we were told:
THE State Government will pay $25 million to the Lane Cove Tunnel company to ensure controversial road changes do not cause a voter backlash at the March 24 election. The deal - branded an outrageous misuse of taxpayers' money by the Opposition - comes as the Government faces a lawsuit worth hundreds of millions for scrapping Cross City Tunnel road changes. The $25 million compensates Connector Motorways for delaying the narrowing of Epping Road, which would have driven motorists to use the tunnel by creating congestion on the surface.

"We have learnt the lessons of the Cross City Tunnel. It makes sense to let motorists get used to the 48 traffic changes that come into place by the time the Lane Cove Tunnel project opens." Eric Roozendaal.

Yes indeed you have learnt the lessons.
1. Sign over ownership of something to a private company so you can then get a backhander when you leave parliament.
2. Pay the private company to keep quiet when they are going to squeal before an election.

ICAC isn't much better in this. When the Independent Commission Against Corruption was asked to look into this, it declined to investigate, saying while the public policy reasons for making the decision might coincide with political advantage, it did not make the Government's actions corrupt. Because paying $25m to shut up isn't corrupt is it?

And now:

One Word Weather With Nelson Mandela


I need 300g of dyxiedrumstyk stat!

March 07, 2008

Horse 864 - Repeal the Second Amendment Pt 3
Four adults and two children were found shot dead inside a Memphis home, and three other children were rushed from the scene in a critical condition, authorities say. The injured children were 10-months, four-years, and seven-years-old, they said.

Police have not yet released any additional information about the victims or potential motives or suspects. Memphis Police Lieutenant Ray Douglas says they have confirmed that there are fatalities on the scene. "Other than that, we don't know a whole lot right now," he said.

Every time I see a story like this in the newspaper, it causes three reactions in me. One is disappointment and grief that yet more innocent people should have to die so needlessly. This could be someone's mummy or daddy, a brother or sister. Someone loved who has been stolen. Second is disgust that someone would even think about commiting the act and third is utter hatred at the legislation which allows it:
I refer yet again to that fatally tragic pile of steaming legislation, the Second Amendment to the US Constitution.

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

I referred to it here in Horse 581 as well as in Horse 280 and every time I mention a disagreement with the Second Amendment, someone somewhere will always send me a half-baked excuse as to why the so-called "right to bear arms" is an inalienable right. I'll be looking at two excuses in this piece and showing fundamental flaws in them.

1. Self-Defence
The call that people need guns for self-defence is only true if everyone else in society has them in the first place. The simple fact of the matter is that if people do not have the necessary means to kill each other then they don't. Australia learned a horrible lesson in 1996 when Martin Bryant turned a weapon on 11 victims and consequently set in place a series of tougher laws. Ten years later, statistics prove that they actually worked.
The new report, titled Australia's 1996 Gun Law Reforms: Faster Falls in Firearm Deaths, Firearm Suicides and a Decade without Mass Shootings, finds that in the 18 years before the gun buyback there were an average of 492 firearm suicides a year.
After the introduction of the buyback scheme, that figure dropped to 247 in the seven years for which reliable figures are available.
After the massacre, tough gun laws were enacted across Australia, specifically targeting military-style weapons, which resulted in hundreds of thousands of weapons being destroyed.
The number of deaths caused by firearms dropped almost 50 per cent between 1991 and 2001, with the biggest yearly fall in deaths coming after the 1996 Port Arthur massacre.
The risk of dying by gunshot has halved since Australia destroyed 700,000 privately owned firearms, according to a new study published today in the international research journal, Injury Prevention.

The argument that the right to "self-defence" is also spurious as this is not once mentioned in the constitution, and wasn't mentioned as one of the inalienable rights in the first place - those being life, liberty and happiness (which for the record aren't in the US Consitution anyway but the Declaration of Independance which itself does not hold the force of law).

It must be said that anyone who owns a gun with the primary intention of using it for self-protection is far too paranoid about their safety. Currently, the USA seems to lead the world when it comes to security paranoia, so the two things go together naturally. Secondly, if your neighbourhood really is so dangerous that it's safest to be armed, there are deeper-rooted problems there — problems that shooting people in the name of security probably won't fix.

2. Tyannical Government
The argument runs something like this: A murderer kills some, a tyrannical government oppresses virtually all. The theory is that by allowing the people to be armed, they are somehow able to incite a revolution if they find themselves oppressed by the government. Tish! There are two very obvious arguments against this and two legal examples of why this doesn't work in practice.

If you read the first bit of the amendment you find this: "being necessary to the security of a free State". This of course is a sensible idea. Whilst the Continental Army was relatively organised, a free-standing US Military did not yet exist. The need to quickly form an army was needed to defend the nation. In 2008 that situation faded quite some time ago. If you were to form a half decent militia to fight the United States, you'd be up against a fully mechanised and mobilised force worth $548bn/year in running costs.

Whilst this does indeed sound stupid, there is a test case for just such a situation; that being the US Civil War... and the United States still beat the rebel Confederates. If you really want to know something odd, the US Supreme Court found that the Civil War was an illegal act (Texas v White 1869) and held that "the Constitution did not permit states to secede from the United States, and that the ordinances of secession, and all the acts of the legislatures within seceding states intended to give effect to such ordinances, were "absolutely null" So if states can not seceed from the Union, then what chance does the individual have when it comes to rising up against "Tyrannical Goverment"?

Nil, it would seem, for even if you turned your newly created militia against the United States, you've not only be arrested for civil disobedience but be put on trial for treason, which itself is a violation of the Article 3, Section 3 of the constitution.
Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attained.

Your "revolution" against "tyrannical" governments is a weak excuse, because it's illegal.

What possible defence is there for the Second Amendment? "the right to bear arms" exists for what purpose? Something that removes people's life, liberty and happiness to the tune of 10,100 lives per year is not excuseable. Even Thalidomide which was probably responsible for 8000 deaths was removed, yet since 1962 when it was banned, something which has caused more than 52 times more death and mayhem is not only allowed to go on sale, but is fiercely defended because of seven words in a 217 year old document.

If anyone can provide even a logical and well-thought out reason as to why it shouldn't be repealed immediately, I'll tip my hat to them, provided they don't try to blow my head off first.

And now:

One Word Weather With Nelson Mandela


and dandy.

March 05, 2008

Horse 863 - Australia Isn't Actually Backwards

I now have the definitive proof that we drive on the proper side of the road in Australia. It is not us who are backwards, but rather everyone who drives on the right hand side of the road. To tell this story properly, you have to wind the clock back about 2300 years to Ancient Rome.

Assume you are a Roman soldier. If you pick up a sword and a shield, your sword goes in your right hand and your shield in the left. In order that every Legionaire move together in a Phalanx, it meant that their shields had to be very tightly packed together; the best method of doing this was to standardise battle dress.

The Roman empire was exclusively right-handed by decree and travelled down the left hand side of the road for the above reason. Because the loose hand is the attacking position (in this case the right hand) then the defensive seat must be on the left; this applied to all horses, chariots, wagons and pushcarts. Thus the rules of driving down the left hand side remainded uniform across the Roman Empire and remained as the de facto rule of the road for well over 1800 years; in fact all of Europe up to and including the time of Napoleon obeyed a rule of the road on the left.

Britain was the first country in the world to formally enact this standing rule in 1835 with the Highways Act.
Section 78 of the act is of some import.
Drivers causing hurt or damage to others, or quitting the road, or driving carriage without owner’s name, or not keeping the left or near side, or interrupting free passage, if not the owner to forefeit 20s; if he be the owner, 40s.Woah, those are some steep charges! £2 in 1835 was a lot of dosh. Bearing in mind that Karl Benz' motor car was 50 years into the future at least, it would appear that Britain merely formally adopted what already existed.

Although I've heard the story that Napoleon changed the rule of the road in the countries he conquered from keep-left to keep-right. The justifications mentioned are usually symbolic, such as that Napoleon himself was left- (or right-) handed, or that Britain, Napoleon's enemy, kept left. This story has never been shown to have a factual basis and it appears to be a legend from what I can gather.

Keep-right road rules appear to be a political thing in Philadelphia in 1792, New York in 1804 and New Jersey in 1813. Certainly by the time roads moved westwards in America, traffic was on the right. Most of Europe however switched over between 1882 and 1939 either as a result the Triple Alliance, the Weimar or later Nazi Occupation. Sweden switched over to right hand drive in 1967 to bring it in line with Europe and their experience shows that in reality no "side" of the road is safer.

And now:
One Word Weather With Nelson Mandela


... yesterday my life was filled with pa-ain!