June 27, 2008

Horse 893 - Paying the Bills

Not that it matters much to the company but the third richest man in the world, Bill Gates, has decided to hang his hat up for the last time. Several times the world's biggest company, Microsoft gained its fortune through two keen oppotunities - namely creating MS-DOS for IBM and then having Big Blue not retain exclusive right and secondly, stealing the kernel for a GUI from Xerox's photocopiers which would form the basis of the original Windows.

It has to be said through all of this, that Bill started in a priviledged home and then had the necessary business sense to ensure that the "luck" went his way. Starting in 1975, Microsoft developed and sold BASIC interpreters for the Altair 8800, a machine with no screen or keyboards but a series with 8 switches on the front.

Gates' "vision" of "a workstation running our software onto every desk and eventually in every home" though grandiose, eventually reached about 90% of market saturation. As a result the company has made has made four billionaires and an estimated 12,000 millionaires.

I don't think this spells the end for the company. As an organisation that "eats its own dog food" they have a ready-made batch of testers, and given existing market share, it would be very difficult to mess it up even if Bill has gone.

June 26, 2008

Horse 892 - Programmed Madness

Just when you think you've heard it all, a computer failure closed down Sydney's M5 East tunnel at around 7:10am yesterday (25th June), leaving traffic to bank up for kilometres in both directions.

NSW Roads Minister Eric Roozendaal said the failure meant safety systems such as the tunnel's controversial ventilation were not working. "It's a catastrophic failure in terms of the computer. I understand that system has shut down, and if we have that system not operating, it's not safe to bring people into the tunnel."
This statement is fair enough in all honesty but just when you think the situation couldn't get any worse this little doozy happpened.

When asked what the RTA was doing to rectify the problem, the Roozendaal indicated the government did not have direct supervision of the tunnel and therefore was directly responsible: "It's worth pointing out that the tunnel is actually operated and maintained by Bilfinger Berger, a private company."

So what does this all mean? Well it means that Eric Roozendaal and the RTA are doing exactly what they're employed to do, and that is to direct and shift traffic. Though I wonder whether political traffic and road traffic are enitrely separate.

June 25, 2008

Horse 891 - Coloured for Speed

The following shot is from the currently running film Speed Racer.

It is without doubt the most colourful film I have ever seen in my life. If you ever wanted to know what being on LSD would be like (I'm NOT speaking from experience), then this would be the film to go and see.

Growing up as a kid, Speed Racer's Mach 5 was easily one of the coolest cars on television. Now obviously cars like this never existed in real life, I mean who'd honestly have a set of jump jacks or a couple of saws fitted to the front of their car? So when I heard that the Wachowski Bros. of The Matrix and V for Vendetta fame were going to make a "live action" film, I immediately wanted to go and see it irrespective of how crap the reviews were going to be.

And that is the point of the film, it's very very cartoony. People use cars as weapons, never mind the anti-corporate message throughout the film when itself cost $29 million US to make, or the fact that the tracks they race on have loops, no runoff or barriers either.

I so wish I'd bought the double volume comic whilst I was in America now.

June 24, 2008

Horse 890 - Janking the ARIA charts for fun and profit.

I was speaking to Neve at Spit Music this afternoon and was asking some questions in my own inimitable style.
"You know that America song "A Horse With No Name", if it ran away, how would you get it back?"
"Call it"
"With what? It doesn't have a name"
"Oh yeah."

This was soon followed by:
"If I wanted to manipulate the ARIA charts, how many record sales would I need?"
"Yeah, 22. This band called Sparkadia... well one of the band members' mums, walked in and bought 22 copies of the CD. It went to No.23 based on our CD sales"
"Well there's only 27 record stores left in Australia that actually report to ARIA anymore. There just aren't that many record stores since everyone started downloading stuff."

That there says it all. If someone like Ellie Magill wanted to get her EP "Fists and Fingers" onto the ARIA charts, then you could either do it by microsales via iTunes or by actual CD sales through an ARIA reporting shop. Since it can't take more than 3 dozen sales to manipulate the charts, my suggestion is obvious and all we'd need would be the impetus to get us there.

Scary aint it?

June 23, 2008

Horse 889 - Australia are World Champions!

http://www.theage.com.au/news/health/australia-now-worlds-fattest-nation/2008/06/19/1213770886872.html From The Age - Blogger has decided that it hates links.

Australia has become the fattest nation in the world, with more than 9 million adults now rated as obese or overweight, according to an alarming new report.
The most definitive picture of the national obesity crisis to date has found that Australians now outweigh Americans and face a future "fat bomb" that could cause 123,000 premature deaths over the next two decades.

If the crisis is not averted, obesity experts have warned, health costs could top $6 billion and an extra 700,000 people will be admitted to hospital for heart attacks, strokes and blood clots caused by excess weight.
The latest figures show 4 million Australians — or 26% of the adult population — are now obese compared to an estimated 25% of Americans. A further 5 million Australians are considered overweight.


All the way back in Horse 14, 5 years and 12 days ago, figures showed that 60% of the population was overweight. Today, we've reached a new level by bettering America and becoming World Champions at being lard buckets. 1 in 4 adults is now obese. What went wrong Australia? I can't believe this! This is disgraceful. For a nation that's supposed to be renowned for being sport-loving, how did we become a nation of purile purulent porkers?

Obesity is the only disease I have ever heard of that can be described as "morbid". You don't for instance hear of "morbid bronchitis" do you? No! It's like they some how needed another category for super-duper-fat people - I don't see what was wrong with the old schoolyard tag of "Fatty-boom-bah". C'mon Australia we need to try harder!

It stands to reason that physicians can not prevent chronic disease or the complications of chronic disease. It is the responsibility of the patient to prevent chronic diseases and its complications. The patient has to change their lifestyle. Poor lifestyle choices lead to chronic disease and it’s complications! Society does not "cause" a smoker to get lung cancer - Nope, it is the individual's fault over many years by making deliberate choices. Yes, you heard me - Choices. Although this is going to sound insensitive, here goes: being obese is a choice made over several years; it doesn't happen overnight but it does happen. It is your choice to shove inordinate amounts of food down your gullets Australia. It's as much a choice as smoking, drinking, not wearing a seatbelt or any other range of really stupid stuff people do that can lead to them dying.

This rant could end here and now but guess what? I have a solution Australia, and it comes in two parts:

1. The MMORPG: Outside!
This RPG requires zero monthly fees, has a massive fully rendered and textured world to explore and has amazing terrains and real-time processing of weather. The AI of the NPCs ranges from one dimensional to utterly staggeringly intelligent and there are about 95,500 different character archtypes. It's fully PvP and comes in Super XHD at 6.3 Megapixel and Dolby 12.4.

But it requires you to GO OUTSIDE YOU FATTY-BOOM-BAHS!

2. The other part involves just one simple pill - just one.
But Rollo, you're suggesting that obesity can be cured with a pill? Indeed I am. It weighs 454g or 1lb. in the old measures and is 27 inches in circumference. This pill is not taken internally but kicked repeatedly or if your name happens to be Bill Ellis, picked up and carried. I'm talking about footballs!
Whilst going outside might be half the story, actually doing something out there is the other part of it. Kick a footy, run, ride a bike, do whatever it takes, padlock the fridge. We need to see arms throwing balls, fat legs runinng and plentiful chins frivolating.

I blame political correctness. Some time ago we decided that making fun of fat people might hurt their feelings so we told our kiddies not to and look what happened! Right before our very eyes we turned into the World Champions of being Chunky-Chunky-Gabuptas! That's not something we want to win, is it?

June 20, 2008

Horse 888 - FG, the end?

These are the official pictures of the brand new "Nitro Blue" FG Ford Falcon V8 Supercar. Jointly developed between Ford Performance Racing, Stone Bros. and Triple 8 Engineering, the car from outset was designed to be cheaper to build but as competitive as the current BF Falcon.

I suspect that V8 Supercars has a distinct problem. Ford's FG V8 Supercar which was unveilled last week, may have the misfortune of being the last of its kind. The problem revolves around the fact that come 2011, there might not be a locally produced replacement for the car. Ford North America pulled the pin on Fairlane and LTD by denying Ford Australia an export market for the long-wheelbase variant, and now with the cancellation of the aging inline-6 that's pulled the car for 42 years, coupled with rising petrol prices, the market might dry up for the next model code-named "Hunstman" (BF was code-named "Orion") like it did for the ill-fated Mitsubishi 380.

Project Blueprint went part of the way by defining standard gearboxes and suspension componentry and FG relies less on welded panels for strength than the BF, which allows for swifter removal and replacement of damaged panels, so the whole car acts more like a zip-on and zip-off affair.
Ford teams had agreed that the FG had to be less expensive to build as a new shell as well as being cheaper and quicker to repair after an accident and to further reduce costs, the FG was designed so that the maximum amount of BF mechanical components could carry over into the new chassis.

All of this sounds great in theory until Ford abandon production of the car. What happens then? Does V8 Supercars move to something like NASCAR's "Car of Tommorrow" where the cars are shaped identically and even the grill and headlights on the front are stickers? Or does it shift to something smaller, perhaps taking up the WTCC's Super 2000 regulations? In terms of asthetic looks, the 2008 Vauxhall Vectra still looks like a very angry motor car.

Whereever Australian motor racing goes, I don't think it will be a problem so long as the manufacturers agree to supporting it. The only reason why Group A finally bit the dust in 1992 was that Ford and Holden had a collective dummy spit when Nissan built a better car and so they had to throw the baby out with the bath water. If they decide something new, how tetchy would they be about letting someone else play with them? NASCAR seems to have survived with the addition of Toyota.

June 19, 2008

Horse 887 - 30 Years Later

It was 30 years ago today that the small orange cat Garfield, broke cover and into our daily newspapers. That's 30 years of slightly inane marketing genius aimed at exploiting the wallets of people everywhere.

It is true that Jim Davis did want to create a marketable character, and the proof of this was that within 5 years, the product saw sydication in world-wide newspapers and already a sizeable stack of merchandise.

The comic strip itself is no longer drawn by Davis, who at the age of 57 didn't want the quality of the work to "age" like Schultz' Peanuts did. In fact this shows in that the quality remains quite consistent. Also, like Peanuts the ages of the characters never change.

One of the funnest things I ever found was this:
Garfield Minus Garfield which is the strip minus the titular character. What we're lift with is described on the site as "an even better comic about schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and the empty desperation of modern life" through the eyes of Jon Arbuckle. "Let’s laugh and learn with him on a journey deep into the tortured mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness in a quiet American suburb."

Davis has created 10,950 comic strips, two movies, 133 television shows and specials, and sold 135 million books. Something that big can not be ignored very easily.

June 18, 2008

Horse 886 - The Micro Micro Car

The sight of a 6'5" Jeremy Clarkson trying to fit into the miniscule Peel P50 on Top Gear on Monday night was certainly one of the funniest things I have ever seen. The car at just 53" long and less than a cricket stump wide is truly a marvel.

Whilst the car could only do 38mph or 61km/h, it's 49cc DKW moped engine could get as much as 100mpg. At £199 new, even adjusting for inflation it only comes out to about £1034 in 2008 prices.

Having seen Jeremy drive it through London, I would be very scared to drive it through traffic; especially considering the monarchs of the road the London Omnibus rearing down behind you.

Although Clarkson says that it would be subject to the Congestion Charge, a look at the Transport for London website indicates otherwise.

My Ka look positively monstrous next to the Peel P50 and in a world where petrol is fast becoming a luxury, I would love to see a modern re-interpretation of it. The world would be far safer with 90,000 of these critters rather than big-fat Land Cruisers.

June 17, 2008

The man in the 'coon-skin cap, in the big pen...

... wants 11 Dollar Bills

You Only Got Ten!

Horse 885 - The UN-Constitutional UK

I find in the Telegraph this week the following article:
Link found here.
The UN Human Rights Council said the UK must "consider holding a referendum on the desirability or otherwise of a written constitution, preferably republican".
The council has 29 members including Saudi Arabia, Cuba and Sri Lanka.
It was the Sri Lankan envoy who raised concerns over the British monarchy.

The resulting report said Britain should have a referendum on the monarchy and the need for a written constitution with a bill of rights. The monarchy costs each adult in Britain around 62p a year but even groups representing taxpayers said there was no case for getting rid of it.

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "With so many human rights abuses around the world the UN should be busy reporting on issues of starvation, execution and the denial of the vote to huge numbers of people around the world.

"Saudi Arabia and Cuba should pay a little more attention to their own human rights record."
The UN report was also critical of the UK's treatment of immigrants from Sudan.

Syrian representatives accused the UK of discriminating against Muslims and Iran complained about the UK's record on tackling sexual discrimination.
A royal source said: "People here certainly haven't detected any appetite for a referendum. The Queen is a focus for national unity, identity and pride."

I have a submission I'd like to present to the UN consisting of just two words; the second one is "off" - you can guess the first.

I've already reviewed previously the fact that the UK has not one but THREE Bills of Rights in Horse 882, but perhaps more intruguing is the question of why the UN would want to review the UK's politcal process in the first place.

The League of Nations which existed from 1919 until 1946, was largely toothless and ineffective; especially when it came to the agression of the Axis Powers and the causes of World War II. So when Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin proposed an allied council in 1943, the idea was retained and the UN proper came into existence on 24 October 1945, after the Charter had been ratified by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States — and by a majority of the other 46 signatories.
Then there is the case of the little known declaration of the "United Nations" from which the UN itself eventually came from which was united in the cause to dismantle "Hitlerism".

I don't see what would be acheived through writing a constitution for the UK. There exists a vast mass of parliamentary legislation as well as well-established but uncodified conventions which exist. The Queen herself has reserved but largely unused powers which history has shown in both the UK and in cases like Australia on the 11th November 1975, is better to be left unwritten and unexplored.

It makes sense that the UN should look into making sure that elections are free and unbiased in places like Zimbabwe or Iraq where there are the breaks from a pure dictatorship, but the UK? Surely a parliamentary process which was born from the ashes of a rump parliament and based on the principles that people had the right to vote for their sitting member in the first place counts as a democracy? I could of course be totally wrong here. What of the countries which existed as a result of the British Commonwealth and have their own parliamentary democracies based on the halls at Westminster, what of someone like... I don't know... Sri Lanka? What is your game here? Do 1948 and 1972 mean anything to you? No?

Further to this I suspect that within the 21st Century, the UK will probably change into a republic but what form that will take I know not - this will be for the people themselves to decide at a referendum. That is of course the point of all of this, it is the people's self-determination that ultimately gives government its power; not the documents and the instruments through which its vested.

The UN is very quickly in danger of turning into Ouroboros but instead of the snake eating itself, its in danger of disappearing up its own fundamental orifice; perhaps they should extract their head?

June 12, 2008

Horse 884 - 30-0 QUEENSLAND!!!

QUEENSLAND 30 - New South Wales 0, dud, zero, blot & egg.

What a way to arrive back in this wonderful Australian country which we call Australia with none other than the Rugby League State of Origin which is played according to the highest principles on the planet - those principles being: "Peace through violence, harmony through brutality and getting everyone to shut-up and behave just like us or they’ll cop a boot up the date and a fist of fives." It's State vs State, Mate vs Mate and if you happen to be Russell Phone-Thrower Crowe it's also Hate vs Hate. What bigger chapter in the Book of Feuds is there than this? Where else can you find spitting, dacking, wedgies, gouging, groping, pig-rooting, fighting and roughhousing broadcast live on telly in this wide BROWN land.

Only last week whilst I was out of the country, Willie "The Brains Trust" Mason had proclaimed that there would be 65,000 "nutbag redneck" Queenslanders filling The Cauldron, notwithstanding the fact that it only holds 52,500 people.

King Darius Boyd crossed twice, The Ambitious Walker Hannant who still looks very slow and 1967 Folau all shoved the pill to the deck while Thurston put them over the bar. The Cockroaches played like a bunch of White Flag merchants as they didn't break their egg. 30-Blot... 30-BLOT is disgraceful and it should be stomped out of the game. Everyone wearing a blue shirt should be given instant life bans from playing the code. What sort of message does this send out to the kiddies? It truly is chilli on the stick stuff and I HATE IT.

So we move to Game III, after which we can all put the card table away until the Festival of the Boot Parts 1 & 2 sponsored by Frosty Lahood Motors Australia.