December 21, 2009

Horse 1061 - St Mary McKillop... why?

News this weekend broke that Mary McKillop has fulfilled the relevant criteria for canonisation as a saint. This post is broken into two parts:

Part A - The Serious Bit.

Not being a Catholic myself, I find the whole question of sainthood somewhat perplexing. Was this the Catholic Church trying to wedge itself into the pantheon of existing Roman life? The theory goes that you can pray to whatever saint for this or that and they will intercede on your behalf, notwithstanding the fact that dead people are dead and can not do anything, and thanks to Christ himself, the curtain was opened and Christians come to the Father through him - I am The Way, the Truth and the Life, no man comes to the Father except by Me.
Doctrinally it simply makes no sense.

There is of course the blatantly obvious question of just what is a saint in the first place. The usual Greek word for "saints" in the New Testament is the word Hagion, which roughly translated simply means "the Holy Ones". Ephesians 6:18 is an exhortation to keep on praying for all the saints, which if you were to believe the Catholic Church's limited rendering of the word would imply that we are to pray for those people who have been canonised as a saint.
This also doctrinally makes no sense.

Even the word "saint" itself is derived from the Latin "sanctus", from which we get the word sanctify and all related words. Sanctification by definition is being set apart for some special use. The letter to the Hebrews (10:10) again implies that this setting apart is common of all Christians and not just those selected by some internal church process. "And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."

It seems to me that this whole business of canonisation is a bit silly. On the other hand the idea of having heroes and people to look up to probably is a good idea. Society generally has heroes like Don Bradman, George Washington, Winston Churchill, David Beckham, Ludwig Van Beethoven etc and whatever, but the idea that you can pray to them and expect some sort of result is preposterous.

Part B - The Not Serious Bit.

Admittedly the whole idea of "Sainthood" and that you can pray to them is ridiculous, biblically flawed and utterly stupid, but if we absolutely must must must make Mary McKillop a saint, it stand to reason that she should be the patron saint of something.

St Honorius is the patron saint of bakers and confectioners. St James is the patron saint of judges... and David Jones city stores... and Newcastle United Football Club. St Martin is the patron saint of drunkards (how appropriate that the Commonwealth Law Courts in Sydney be between St James Station and Martin Place). St Christopher is the patron saint of travelling. St Andrew is the patron saint of old maids. St Erasmus is the patron saint of seasickness... etc etc etc.

It follows that St Mary McKillop should be the patron saint of something uniquely Australian, like the Barbecue, so that your snags could be done properly instead of burnt on the outside and raw in the middle. Perhaps she could be patron saint of the Hills Hoist, to make sure that it doesn't rain on your washing, or birds don't do their business on it.
No, on reflection there is only one thing that St Mary McKillop should be the patron saint of and that is football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars. Let's face it we already have the hymn to go with it. And let's make it a public holiday, because that would be traditionally Australian, having a public holiday for things no-one cares about... like Labour Day, or Queen's Birthday... or Christmas... er... hmm.

December 15, 2009

Horse 1060 - Hamas' 22nd Birthday

December 14 is a day which to be totally fair should hang in infamy, for December 14 is the anniversary of the formation of Hamas, a is a "Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement" (their words) or what I would call a very well organised socio-political terrorist organization.

We find that that prize goof Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has come out in support of Hamas, followed by an official meeting in Tehran.
Meanwhile, Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshal met in Tehran with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday. The Iranian president stressed his support for Hamas, saying, "The Iranian government and the Iranian people will always stand by the Palestinians and the Palestinian resistance.
Today Palestine is a symbol of the world-wide front of those who seek liberty from the militants," he said. Ahmadinejad said Iran doesn't recognize Israel's right to exist, and supports Hamas and Hezbollah.

Lets just look at that again... Ahmadinejad said Iran doesn't recognize Israel's right to exist, and supports Hamas and Hezbollah. What?

Hamas has in as many words as one of its objectives, the destruction of Israel.
On the Destruction of Israel:
"Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it."

This is the part where usually I'd quote the bible and show that because of a promise to Abraham, that the land belongs to Israel, however on this occasion I'm not going to do this. I shall choose a source which in theory an Islamic Resitance Movement should follow; this would be none other that the Qu'ran itself.

Sura 5:20-21
Recall that Moses said to his people (the Jews), “O my people, remember GOD’s blessings upon you: He appointed prophets from among you, made you kings, and granted you what He never granted any other people.
“O my people, enter the holy land (Israel) that GOD has decreed for you, and do not rebel, lest you become losers.”

Sura 17:104
And We said thereafter to the Children of Israel, “Dwell securely in the land (of promise)”: but when the second of the warnings came to pass, We gathered you together in a mingled crowd.

According to even the Qu'ran itself the land belongs to Israel because of the promise to Moses, then Abraham and then Issac. What I would really like is for an Islamic scholar to try to prove otherwise. If they try to invoke the principle that Israel vacated the land and were conquered, then by rights the land should belong to Great Britain, because they re-conquered it and won it as a spoil of victory by General Allenby, with the British Mandate and occupation taking place from 1917 onwards. If to the victor goes the spoils then its their decision as to what to do with those spoils.

This rubbish about returning the country to so-called pre-1967 borders is to be honest a load of highly refined bull twaddle. The truth is (and Hamas never admits this) is that the proposed 1919 borders which were totally enclosed by the British Mandate included the Negev, both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, a zone to the east of the Jordan and extending into the Lebanon and the Golan heights.

So Hamas, on this your anniversary, I don't support you, the Qu'ran doesn't support you and even history doesn't support you. The only people who do... are madmen.

December 14, 2009

Horse 1059 - Merry Christmas to You... Whoever You Are...

Walking around Westfield on Saturday, I noticed three things. The first was that people seem to be in some sort of race to either be as lardy as possible and dress as tackily as possible (I'm sorry but the OED has no variation listed for this) and the other two things were to do with Christmas.

I'm guessing that the Italian chocolatier Ferrero SpA (the same people who make Nutella and Tic Tac) must be going out of business or have a massive stock surplus, for sitting out the front of both Big W and Target were pallet sized arrangements of the not very nice chocolate Ferrero Rocher.
Someone at the company must've have a field day, because now instead of just three in a packet, I've seen plastic boxes of 27 and even a pyramid of 56 of the damn things. They're obviously intended as what former PM John Howard would have called an "aspirational" product, but fail to deliver on that aspiration.

The other virtually ubiquitous item at this time of year is the Gift Card. There are Gift Cards for a range of department stores, supermarkets, music stores, hardware, bookshops, even stationery shops and worst of all, Westfield itself!

Admittedly if you were 10 years old, getting money for Christmas is like winning the lottery and perhaps getting a gift card is better than giving a gift to someone that they really don't want, but really a gift card should be used only and only as a last resort if you still haven’t found something for someone, because nothing says “I know nothing about you” like a gift card, or a box of Ferrero Rocher.

December 10, 2009

Brilliance in Utter Madness

This is where utter madness lives. Forget the V8 Supercars and their attempts for the rather placid "Car of the Future", the Group B Rally Cars had in some cases over 700bhp coming out of just 1.6L. They were turbocharged to the eyeballs and threatened to explode at any given moment.

This is Crazy-Go-Nuts stuff... common-sense was left behind when they made these cars.

December 09, 2009

Horse 1058 - The Metro "We Don't Want"... apparently.

The train on plaftform number 5 is for all stations to Rogans Hill. First stop Mons Road, then Northmead, Moxham Road, Model Farms Road, Junction Road, Baulkham Hills, Cross Street, Southleigh, Parsonage Lane, Castle Hill, and Rogans Hill.

I personally have never heard this announcement. In fact I would struggle to find anyone who remembers hearing this announcement. The reason for this, is that the last time anyone would have heard this come over the loudspeakers, would have been on the last day of operation of the Rogans Hill Line on 31 January 1932.
As a result and more than 77 years later, the residents of Castle Hill now sit in traffic on the M2 for several hours trying to get work.

The day after Kristina Keneally became the new Premier of NSW, the Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell, again made it clear that he would oppose all new plans for any Metro Line, and urged her to scrap plans for the proposed CBD Metro in whatever form that takes.
"She needs to scrap the metro that no one wants. It's simply incredible, even within her first day, the former planning minister doesn't seem to have a view as to whether this metro is to proceed or not. It raises real concerns about who's making the decisions." - Barry O'Farrell, 4th Dec 2009 (from ABC Radio).

I really wonder whether or not Mr O'Farrell has actually been anywhere Castle Hill. As the member for Kuring-Gai his electorate enjoys the benfits of a free expressway and two railway lines. In fact to tie this story into the absurd, in 1932 just seven weeks after Castle Hill was cut off from the rail network, the electorate of Kuring-Gai was better connected to it by the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Let's think for a minute about the roadway across that grand bridge. The name of that road is the Bradfield Highway, named after the visionary John Bradfield. Bradfield's original plans for an underground railway included a city loop and a line out to the eastern suburbs as well as several other proposals which were never acted upon. Actually when it comes to those 1915 plans, it only took 41 years to see the city loop built and 64 years for the Eastern Suburbs Line to be half built so perhaps there's hope yet.
(Just check out Woolahra Station... they might build it in my lifetime... maybe)

New South Wales has had many plans over the years for railway lines to be built. So far during this century, we've had 8 of them, so sooner or later one of them is bound to come to fruition. It's just not while or if Barry O'Farrell comes to power, and probably not for the rest of the life of the current Labour Government.

All those people in their cars stuck in traffic on the M2 don't really want a new metro scheme... they just want someone to fix the mistakes that every single government since 1932 has made and put back their old train lines.

December 07, 2009

Horse 1057 - Winning Through Playing Actual Football. Who'da Thunk It?

The World Cup draw was released on Saturday Morning our time and already the daily newspapers are crying blue murder about the fact the somehow Australia has got either a "horror" or "shock" draw. This simply isn't true.

It was always going to be the case by virtue of how the process is drawn that every group is going to have a seeded team in it. Apart from South Africa which was always going to be in Group A as A1, every other group would have one of the seven teams from Brazil, Spain, Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Argentina and England (and of those, five are previous World Cup winners).

The challenge for Australia this time around, does not really lie in who is in our group, but rather the order of the game which they are played in.

If you cast your mind back to 2006, Australia played Japan first up. It was those tremendous six minutes at the end which determined how the game against Brazil was going to be played. To be honest Australia was never going to beat Brazil but if it had lost against Japan, then it would have been fighting far harder for the remaining matches, rather than playing a simple containment strategy against Brazil.

Because Germany is first up, Australia will need to open the campaign from the outset with a set of measured tactics. Merely being the "underdog" and hoping to play on the strength of that is not enough, because to be perfectly fair Germany are always playing against "underdogs" and will be looking for a kill first up.
If Australia loses against Germany, then the matches against firstly Ghana and then Serbia will be played chasing their tail.

One of the advantages that Australia had in Germany 06 was that most nations went prepared for the heat, and Guus Hiddink had deliberately trained for this; it showed when during the last 20 minutes whilst other side would wilt, Australia did not.
This time around however, every side will not only be training for the heat but also for the change in altitude at some venues. Whereas Australia tends to play a more physical game, Ghana and Serbia aren't really known for their technical prowess, and so this time around this also isn't an advantage.

No, Australia's World Cup campaign in South Africa 2010 will not be characterised by the underdog spirit. I'm afraid that Pim Verbeek will need to instill on his Australian side an "overdog" mindset (is that even a real word?) and impress upon whomever dons the Australian golden kit in 2010 that the only way to win matches is by going out and actually playing proper football.

Now there's a strange thought, winning by playing good football. Have we ever done that before?

December 04, 2009

Horse 1056 - The World's Fastest Car

Seeing as today is the first day of proceedings at the Sydney 500, I thought I'd ask the question:

"What is the fastest car you can buy in Australia?"

Is it the Bugatti Veyron? Maybe the Gumpert Apollo? Perhaps it's McLaren's gorgeous new MP4-12C?

Well, it's none of those.

What is it then?





Excited yet? Because I have a photo.






An ordinary Toyota Hiace.


Forget the Veyron, forget anything Italian, or even anything speedily efficient and German. The fastest car in Australia without a doubt is the Toyota Hiace.

Whislt the Veyron can do 407km/h, and even Shelby's SSC Ultimate Aero TT claims to do 413km/h, this is absolutely nothing compared with the speeds attained by Hiaces driven through Sydney traffic on a Wednesday afternoon. Ok I admit that I don't have documented evidence, but from what I've seen the speeds that some of the cowboys who drive these things can get them up to, are only otherwise found inside the Large Hadron Collider. They must be approaching 3/4 of the speed of light.

Greg Murphy's VY Commodore may have been able to go around Bathurst in 2.06.8594 (a figure which I've committed to memory) but how fast would have he been able to do in a Hiace? 2.03? 2.02? 2.01? 1.33 even? The V8 Supercars may be discussing the Car of the Future but I bet they'd all be running scared if someone showed up with a Hiace.

Of course this may be taking it too far. There are rivals such as the Ford Transit, VW Transporter, Mitsubishi Express, the Renault Traffic, Fiat Ducato and the Mercedes-Benz Vito, which could all equally warp time and space as they slice through traffic. So I suppose that the only real requirement is that the van be white.

So then "What is the fastest car you can buy in Australia?" A white van, obviously.

December 03, 2009

Horse 1055 - The Car of the Future Must Look Cool

Actual designs are still some way off but V8 Supercars Australia (V8SA) has stated many times that the CotF will still look like Commodores and Falcons with working headlights and swinging panels.
“The Car of the Future is about evolution not revolution and hopefully now the teams have got some ideas on the direction of where we’re heading.I suspect we’ll start seeing something more concrete in the next few months.”
Ford Performance Racing principle, Tim Edwards said it was imperative that the CotF was implemented correctly rather than as quickly as possible.
“We have got to make sure we’ve got authentic looking cars, which is one of our key principles (compared to other motorsport categories),”

This is a story which I have been following for several months now, and to be honest it kind of ties in with my post yesterday. The Car of the Future (CoF) is presumably in the early stages of conceptualisation and will eventually show up in 2012. This post isn't about what is taking place but rather what I would like to see happen.

Currently the V8 Supercars have these tacky little numbers in the rear window. Now I ask you, is this even remotely helpful?

This photograph of Jamie Whincup shows clearly why the tacky little numbers in the rear window is a pointless idea. At speed how are you honestly expected to work out who it is? Second to that, the number itself is kind of like a brand. When you think of the most famous number in Australian motorsport, what springs to mind? If you said anything other than 05 then you need your head examined.

Peter Brock's 05 Torana is probably the single most iconic touring car in Australian motorsport history; why? Because:
a) you instantly know who it is
b) the car looks so brutal with its flared guards, drop tank, duck rear wing and reverse bonnet bulge
c) the paint scheme is elegantly simple and bold

To that end, I'd tell the V8 Supercars organisation to ditch all of the wings and aero devices on the current crop of cars and go back to something simpler and cooler; maybe take a leaf out of the old HDT's book?

Who wouldn't want to see this as the Car of the Future? It's got cool dripping off of it.

December 02, 2009

Horse 1054 - Ford vs Holden vs WhoCares

This came from the V8 Supercars race in Bahrain in 2007 and it illustrates a very interesting point. Although V8 Supercars has marketed itself as the "Ford vs Holden" battle, do the punters really care anymore?

There may have been blue murder dried when Craig Lowndes "defected" to Ford in 2000, but now in 2009 no-one even seems to bat an eyelid that 888 Engineering are taking their whole team across the divide to Holden. Perhaps also, the fans are ignorant that whilst in Australia 888 are switching to Holden, 888 in the UK have been dumped by another GM brand Vauxhall, and it is questionable whether they will even appear in the 2010 BTCC.

NASCAR has had three "all-American" manufacturers in the past and even they ran several brands with Chevrolet, Buick, Pontiac, Ford and Dodge all throwing their hat into the ring, but the introduction of Toyota hasn't really been met with the opposition that was predicted at all. In fact it came without much of a ripple at all.

Even in Australia when you ask people about what their favourite tin-top car of all time are, invariably the Holden A9X will come out on top because it looked so wild, or even Ford's big XC Falcon coupes that Moffat and Bond took to a 1-2 in 1977, but immediately after that you start getting answers like the Nissan GTR, the Dodge Charger, the Mazda RX-7 and even Kevin Bartlett's Channel 9 Camaro.

Would the fans' noses be put that far out of joint if there was a V8 Supercar BMW, or Mercedes-Benz? How about a Ferrari or a Jaguar? Or a Hyundai, Toyota, Kia or Subaru? To be honest, I don't think we'd notice much.

December 01, 2009

Horse 1053 - Kevin 11
Tony Abbott is the new leader of the Liberal Party after ousting Malcolm Turnbull by just one vote in a leadership vote today.
Mr Abbott won the final vote against Malcolm Turnbull by 42 votes to 41 after challenger Joe Hockey was knocked out in an earlier vote between all three candidates.

I am utterly astonished by this.

How would they intend to sort out their front bench now? There isn't one person who isn't the enemy of anyone else now, except for Julie Bishop who wasn't even nominated for the leadership because she either doesn't represent a serious threat to anyone or the only reason she's there is to sit opposite Julia Gillard.

Who honestly thinks that Abbott is PM material? They might just as well have given Kev a free ticket to the next election - KEVIN 11 is looking more likely. To be honest all that this suggests is that the Liberal Party is still in search of a leader, because I don't think that Abbott represents the sort of person who can pull the party together, let alone lead the country.

I assume that from here on, Turnbull will just be put on the backbench with the same for Joe Hockey. For Abbott it will be case of: "This is my new shadow cabinet. Meet Fred."