October 31, 2009

Horse 1047 - Scab Day (Halloween)

Welcome to the 56th state in the Union, Australia. Apparently, we like District of Colombia (51), Puerto Rico (52), Guam (53), Canada (54), Britain (55) have joined the United States.
I didn't realise that this had happened until Saturday night when we celebrated that most stupid of holidays, Halloween.

Ah yes, Halloween, the day in which children go from house to house in the hope of scabbing lollies from other people. Now whilst I don't object to charity, I'd say that 102% of the children that I saw (allowing for a 2% margin of error) on this year's Scab Day run, were in no need of charity whatsoever. Certainly a great deal of them were in dire need of a walk outside, but luring them out with sweeties is hardly what you'd call sensible.

What would happen for instance if I were to walk 9 doors up the street and ask for lollies? People would think that I'm insane, and then probably ring up some gentlemen in blue to put me up for the night at Her Majesty's Hotel. What happens for instance if the kiddies happen to knock on the door of someone who especially likes children... a lot... I mean a whole lot. There'd be an outrage, and especially considering the hoo-haa in the news of late about one such person who happened to be near a school, why do parents allow their children out on Scab Day runs?

As far as I can make out, there isn't even a need in this country to even celebrate Scab Day. I mean the day after it is All Saints' Day (November 1), which according to the Roman Catholic church is a "Holy Day of Obligation" on which "the faithful are obliged to participate in the Mass" but somehow you don't see parents sending their kiddies along to that now do we?

It would appear that this is purely a marketing push by Allen's, Cadbury, Nestlé, et al. to foist the sale of their produce onto the public. Quite apart from the fact that it's mainly an American tradition, which we don't really need (though I can see the value in Thanksgiving), why do we need to release a whole bunch of children onto the streets full of sugar? What happens when they turn 12 or 13 and become punk teenagers? Eggs, that's what.

No sir, I don't like Scab Day and nor should anyone else. No-one in their right might would vote for a National Annoy The Crud Out Of Your Neighbours Day would they? Then why send your kiddies out to do it for you?

October 23, 2009

Horse 1046 - Hazem El Masri MP

I haven't read the article in today's Daily Telegraph (not do I intend to) but across the front page are plans for the Liberal Party to run Hazem El Masri as the proposed candidate in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly electorate of Lakemba.

The question being asked at the moment is "What makes the Liberal party think that an ex-Rugby League player suitable to be a member of parliament?" The answer as I'm about to explode is, "Who Cares? It's irrelevant"

A member of parliament and indeed any elected official's job is in essence very simple. They are there to represent the people of their electorate in the parliament. Quite literally an elected representative should be one who is elected and is therefore popularly chosen; and a representative, that is, someone who will stand and speak on behalf of the people who elected them for that purpose.

The reason why I think it's totally irrelevant about what the chosen person's background is, is mainly because there aren't really any hard and fast rules about who is the best person to speak for the electorate.
The beauty of the parliament lies in the fact that provided the people's voice is being heard (and in this case through the vehicle of their elected members), then the member's background really does not matter a fig.

Some of the greatest politicians that we've had in Australia have been: a train driver, a garbage collector, a secretary for an Australian rules football club, several barristers and lawyers, a dairy and peanut farmer, a miner, and even an umbrella mender*. I can see therefore no reason why a Rugby League player shouldn't be in theory any different.

The question isn't one of whether Hazem El Masri would be suitable as Premier of the State of NSW or even the Prime Minister, but rather "will he serve the people of Lakemba as their elected member?" Personally I think that if Hazem listens to what his electorate tells him and is then able to let that voice be heard, then the job is well done, which after all is what everybody expects of their elected representatives.

*Ben Chifley, Nathan Rees, John Curtin, Bob Menzies, Alfred Deakin, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, Andrew Fisher, Billy Hughes - what a ragged lot!

October 13, 2009

Horse 1045 - Koup de Grace

Something distinctively strange is going on. Kia have within a calendar year, managed to produce two cars (yes count them, one, TWO!) that
a) don't make me want to vomit profusely all over the place and
b) actually might like to have (not buy, just have).

The Kia Cerato Koup is possibly the only genuine coupe on sale in Australia currently for less than an average year's salary. The only thing that might come close is the Mazda RX-8 which retails at just a shade over $50K, but fails the very definition of a coupe because it has... four doors.

That's the rub. There are plenty of sporty hot hatches out there and even in three door, but a 3-door hatch, no matter what the manufacturers try to tell you isn't really a coupe. They're 3-door hatches.
I must admit that Mitsubishi probably ruled the roost for a long time on this one with its Lancer. For a while Proton continued this vein with a virtual copy the Proton M21, but since about 2000, in Australia the segment has been... empty.
It's odd. Australia used to have quite a number of coupes. The Monaro, Falcon, and Torana were Australia's favourite sons, and for a while we saw the odd Chrysler Charger and even BMW's 3 & 6-series' have all had a punt but of late... nothing.

The Cerato Koup runs to a pretty standard formula: 2L, 4 cylinders, 115kW. What really makes this interesting is that it uses Hyundai's Theta II engine. Hyundai bought 51% of Kia back in 1998 (though probably only owns about 40% now) and I suspect is using Kia in much the same way as the VW/Audi Group does Skoda. The bits in the Cerato Koup will probably appear in Hyundais in about 15 months.

So what do I actually thing about the car? From an internal vision point of view, it's better than the Astra Sport Hatch, the Honda Civic and the Ford Focus. The front styling is as sharp as any of the aforementioned and I suspect that because we get the 2L and not the 2.4L that they do in the USA, that there is less weight over the front wheels and therefore it should produce a more positive handling car. Of course if anyone from Kia wants to give me a Cerato Koup then be my guest. They say charity begins at home, and I don't see why it shouldn't be mine.

I never thought I'd say this, but Kia are shooting skywards at a tremendous rate of knots. The Kia Soul is ironically a soulless box, but the upcoming Venga, ex-cee'd and Pro-cee'd are a step forwards. And as for the Cerato, it's a real Koup. (pun intended)

October 09, 2009

Horse 1044 - Why I Hate the propsed Human Rights Act


The SMH and The Age on their front covers today, are both running articles about the proposed Human Rights Act which the Federal Government intends to put before the parliament. Personally I think that such an act if passed is a disgusting and dangerous piece of legislation, because of several higher operating principles.

1. It encourages limitation of humans rights merely to those listed in the legislation.

Believe it or not, discussions were held on this very topic 110 years ago when the Australian Constitution was being framed. The people looked at the example of the American Bill of Rights which formed Amendments to the US Constitution and concluded that the laws which were being passed, although were being made in reference to those rights, considered nothing beyond those rights as written in the legislation.
When you consider possibly one of the Declaration of Independence which inevitably led to the creation of that document, it is important to take note of one specific word.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

This sentence has been called "one of the best-known sentences in the English language" and one of the most sweeping statements of human rights ever written, but take note of that word "among". That is not to say that what followed was all of the unalienable rights endowed by one's Creator, but only some among them.

2. It removes powers from elected representatives (ie the Parliament) to unelected persons (ie the judges and bureaucrats).

The really ironic thing about this is, that the most vocal people on this topic are two people in Australia's political history, that I most often disagree with; namely Menzies and Howard.

"A bill of rights would diminish parliament's authority by transferring decision-making authority to unelected judges, accountable to nobody in the barest theoretical sense.
I've always held the classical view that the public elects members of parliament, who pass laws hopefully in the public interest and those laws are in turn interpreted and enforced by courts.
If adopted, a bill of rights would politicise the appointment of judges, increase the volume of litigation and would not in any way increase the rights and protections now available to Australian citizens".
- John Howard, 27th Aug 2009

Sir Robert Menzies responded to Lionel Murphy in the early 1970s on this subject when the former attorney-general had sought to establish an international covenant of civil and human rights in Australian law.
"In Australia it is necessary to remember, when discussing civil liberties and rights, that one of the functions of common law has been to protect the individual against infringement of his or her personal rights"
- Sir Robert Menzies, 17th Jul 1971

The principles which Menzies and Howard are talking about are ironically even more fundamental than that proposed Act which the Parliament would pass. Howard's argument rests on the fact that the Parliament is ultimately answerable to the people, and Menzies reminds us that common law is ultimately based on the principle of equity: what is fair and just.
By actually enacting a Bill of Rights, the rules with regards what is fair and just are subverted by what is legal.

3. Do we really need a fourth Bill of Rights?

Rather than repeat myself on this subject, I'll provide the link here:

But as it stands there are already three Bills of Rights which have legal force in Australia. Namely the English Bill of Rights 1689, the Scottish Claim of Right 1689, and the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948.


Legally if the existing legislation is either being ignored or trampled, then why does anyone think in their right mind think that new legislation is going to change anything? If the laws already exist USE them.

October 07, 2009

Horse 1043 - You Know What I Mean about Ridiculous Assumptions

Advertising is supposed to inform prospective customers about products and/or services in the hope that people will buy said same products and/or services. Simple enough, but whilst most advertising for the most part either fails to do much for me or annoys me, the following two adverts I find intriguing for the wrong reasons.

They came on during One's telecast of the Japanese GP, and I noticed immediately that the same guy making ridiculous assumptions, also knows what I mean about oil.

Now fair dos that this chap is an actor and trying to earn a living, but this falls into the same category as Angus Sampson doing adverts for NRMA, Maggi noodles, and the Nissan Navara. None of these adverts make me want to rush out and buy the products in question, but I have noticed the work of the actors.

If Coca-Cola stopped advertising tommorrow, would they instantly lose market share? Possibly. The phenomenon of Ad Creep has been noticed before, perhaps most obviously by Fry in Futurama when ads were "Only on TV and radio. And in magazines and movies and at ball games and on buses and milk cartons and T-shirts and written in the sky." Surely there must be some point when it's simply useless... or in this case a ridiculous assumption that although I may know what I mean, that I'm going to buy anything.

October 01, 2009

Horse 1042 - Mad Bad Barry Hall to go to the Dogs

In this the week after a brilliant AFL Grand Final when Geelong took what was rightfully theirs and St Kilda saw their dream smash into a million tiny little pieces right before their eyes, you'd expect that footy news would be light on... not today!

The theory goes that Big Mad Bad Barry Hall will be joining the Western Bulldogs in 2010 in return for a second round draft pick for Sydney. If this happens then all other clubs in the AFL should be put on notice, for next year they could be reunited with a friend called PAIN.

It would mean that the Doggies forwards line-up would have two names up for a fight, and certainly two names who can put them between the sticks. Namely: Hall and Akermanis.
Aker himself was famously involved in a dustup with Leigh Matthews whilst he was at Brisbane, and since he's moved to the Dogs, they've come 3rd in two seasons and them made it to the semis on both occasions. Will the arrival of Mad Bad be enough to finally take them back to the top?

Whatever happens it will be good to see Mad Bad Barry back to his mad bad best as a madman. The AFL needs a few mad bad madmen.