February 24, 2010

Horse 1072 - We Make the News...


POLICE are baffled how they did it but the Prime Minister definitely has a problem in Rose Bay - with a large illuminated traffic sign sending the message: "Kevin Rudd sucks".

The sign, which dramatically appeared overnight on New South Head Road, has proven a traffic stopper.

I saw this article in that brilliant piece of raggy trash Mx; I imagine that it also most probably appeared in that great bastion of reliable journalism, the Daily Telegraph.

It is no secret that News Corporation which is a Murdoch newspaper, would prefer to have right-wing laissez-faire government in charge and as such, piggys-up-the-do with the Republican Party in the USA, the Tories in the UK and the Liberal Party in Australia. Is it little wonder that this would appear in the Murdoch press? Would they dare to stoop so low as to rubbish opponent?

I'm not saying that it isn't funny (however I heard funnier jokes from an average 2nd grader), but what I do ask is somewhat pointed... Just how did the "reporters" at the Daily Telegraph find out about this otherwise unimportant roadsign? The photograph isn't otherwise doctored, so I too wonder like the editorial staff at the Daily Toiletpaper no Telegraph (actually I was right the first time) Toiletpaper:

Do you know who is the daring culprit? Phone us on 02 9288 3413, email us at online@dailytelegraph.com.au
Please... please, anything... I'll give you apple... I'll give you banana...

Is it Joe Hildebrand or David Barrett? Perhaps it was photographer Brendon Cocks or John Grainger? Would it be really past the people at the Daily Toiletpaper Telegraph to generate their own news? I wonder... Hmmm.

February 19, 2010

Horse 1071 - Rewrite of Famous Crimethink Document

In crimethink book "1984", George Orwell pastwrite in Oldspeak :

Take for example the well-known passage from the Declaration of Independence:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of those ends, it is the right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government. . ."

It would have been quite impossible to render this into Newspeak while keeping to the sense of the original. The nearest one could come to doing so would be to swallow the whole passage up in the single word crimethink. A full translation could only be an ideological translation, whereby Jefferson's words would be changed into a panegyric on absolute government.

Is this in Oldspeak truly "impossible"? Is this in Newspeak ununpastmakeable?

I pasthave a try to rewrite Oldspeak part of "Declaration of Independence", edit crimethink into Newspeak Oceania Crimethink Document 4th Jul 1776. I bellyfeel that is doubleplus good. I maketruehave that you bellyfeel that is doubleplus good too.

Is you feel my Newspeak rewrite true or untrue of Oceania Crimethink Document 4th Jul 1776?

In Oldspeak - excerpt from the Declaration of Independence:
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. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

In Newspeak:

We hold true as true that all persons are pastmake same, that they are pastgived by their pastmaker true untaked things, that plus live, bellyfeel and doublepluswalk bellyfeel. That to plushold bellyfeel, Party are maketrue in persons, out their true power from maketrue of persons, that pastplusunpast any form Party maketrue unmakes of ends, it is the bellyfeel of persons to maketrue Party, maketrue on true and order power in form, as to plusmake unpast pax and bellyfeel. Ration true are that Party past unpast unmaked for light and makeunmake effect, fortrue all past truetrue that persons are unbellyfeel while doubleplusungood are bellyfeel than to bellyfeel selfs by unmaking things. When long train of ungood, doublepluswalk same object, and unpastplus ration Minipax for unpast pax.
- Oceania Crimethink Document 4th Jul 1776

Is this plusgood? Is you bellyfeel this plustrue?


Is you make saychange for maketrue?

February 17, 2010

Horse 1070 - Heart Failure

On the back of the news that Clint Bolton has signed for the A-League's newest club, Melbourne Heart FC, I thought I'd do some research on who the heck Melbourne Heart FC actually is; on reflection I can't be bothered.

Consider their logo:

I think that we have a winner for what is possibly the worst logo for a football club ever invented. According to the official blurb it it supposed to an "M intertwined with an H in the shape of a stylised heart", so in other words it's exactly what it says on the tin. The problem is that I thought that it kind of looked like a pair of Y-Fronts. The only other thought which sprung to mind was that it kind of looks like a logo for a brand new Health Insurance company; still not what you'd expect for a football club.

What sort of name is Melbourne Heart anyway? If anything it reminds me of Captain Planet, and Ma-Ti's Power of Heart, which when it came to it, was pretty well useless.

In fact there is another football club with "Heart" in their name, but it has a far better logo and a proper historical reason for the name as well.

Heart of Midlothian FC is one of two clubs in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh. It derives its name from this mosaic pattern set into the cobblestones as part of Edinburgh's Royal Mile. Legend has it that if you spit into the heart then you will at some point in your life, return to Edinburgh.

This heart set into the street cobbles on Parliament Square marks the site of the entrance to the Old Tollbooth Prison which was built in 1561 originally as a Custom House for merchants.
It then became the Town Hall where the Privy Council, College of Justice and the Scottish Parliament met, but by the mid 17th century it had become a prison and the place of execution.

In other words, Heart of Midlothian or Hearts for short, has a proper reason for having a heart as a logo. Melbourne Heart FC is a stupid name with no underlying tradition to it.
Also, to add further fuel to the fire, the Lord Mayor's Charitable Foundation of Melbourne has said that it intends to pursue a legal trademark rights case because Melbourne Heart FC is too similar to the annual homeless appeal Heart of Melbourne.

For some reason in Australia, the national "franchises" for the various sporting codes have gone for more elemental names over the past few years. We now have teams called Power, Fury, Glory, Storm, Tactix, Pulse and now Heart. Wouldn't it be easier to name teams simply on where they are based? Would you for instance be able to tell where Sydney FC or Gold Coast Football Club came from? Of course you would; it's as obvious as the nose on your face.

It all highlights how ridiculous the name Melbourne Heart FC actually is. It's as if they asked a bunch of high school students to come up with a team name. Actually one of my more enduring memories from high school was when we came up with "The Alexander Graham Bell Memorial Team" as team name. It has more heart than certain other names.

February 15, 2010

Horse 1069 - It is Better to Give Than to Receive

"Our real blessings often appear to us in the shape of pains, losses and disappointments; but let us have patience and we soon shall see them in their proper figures."
- Joseph Addison, 1703

I lament the fact that my Ka will probably in all likelihood be written off. Mainly because with the amount of money that insurance company is going to give me back, the cars on offer are all quite frankly crap. Prudence suggests that I should use the money to repay a loan which still exists from the honeymoon, and the expenses of setting up a home.

Being told that all things will pass and that this world scarcely compares with what is to come, might very well be true, but to be on the receiving end of such a statement sounds to me like I have just been fobbed off with a thought-terminating cliché, or yet another meaningless and trite platitude. passed off though it was significant and original.

Quite frankly I am sick and tired of people telling me that things happen for a reason, but mainly because it doesn't actually solve anything.

I wonder how many people actually know the sting of not knowing if at the end of the fortnight, whether or not you're going to have a dollar in the bank to show for it? Or thinking about just how far you can stretch the budget if you don't have lunch for the week. How about knowing that you can save 50c by buying a loaf of White Bread as opposed to Wholemeal? Or that Franklins White Bread is 17c cheaper than Woolworths?
Do other people know what it's like to see that bored expression in people's face when you tell them that you yet again can't go out on Saturday night because you don't have the money? Or the tremendous boredom that follows when they stop asking you because you couldn't afford to in the first place?
Do they know what it's like to walk home in the rain, after standing on the train for an hour an a half? How about walking home in shoes with holes in them where the water leaks in? How about not going to the dentist, or the doctors and the price that putting up with the pain is cheaper because it isn't covered by Medicare?

It's amazing how much wisdom there is in people who can not, or more to the point will not empathise with you, when they themselves have never been through similar circumstances. If anything I have been taught that richer people actually are a better class of people, and will go to extraordinary lengths to prove it. It's almost as though the Matthew Effect is running rampant:

For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.
— Matthew 25:29

If there is a reason for all of this, I certainly don't see it; I don't much enjoy being on the receiving end of it either. And I certainly don't like being told that things could be worse, because although that is also true, it's only an oh so fragile step to going there as well.

February 10, 2010

Horse 1068 - By any other name...

In my job as an accountant, I get to see a great number of interesting names. The great kaleidoscope of people's names, reflects the great diversity of culture and influences which our society has. Even so, I think that there is a point when parents who are endowed with the task of giving a newborn child a name, exceed the boundaries of sanity.

A person's name is I think, pretty fundamental to their identity. People carry their name around their entire life, and other people (in a lot of case quite wrongly) bring outside impressions and prejudices to that name. No sane person for instance would call their son either Adolf, Judas, or Jesus. The first two because we wouldn't wish the associated prejudice which would follow on anyone, and the latter because the weight of that name is also far too great.

Yet there is a growing trend I've noticed for people to give their children "unique" names (by unique, I mean euphemistically "stupid"); I think that it's hideously unfair on the poor unfortunate child who must live with it.

Just in the past month I've seen the following names of children of our clients:

I think that this supposed to a respelling of MacKinlay. If it is, then why does a girl get this name? Secondly, what sort of embarrassment and annoyance will this poor child suffer because she has to spell her name over the telephone, and over the counter to banks, and other institutions?

Why couldn't these people just have picked Michael for? Michael is a good honest name. Mychal sounds more than a little bit camp, or if you are of a literary persuasion, like the lumbering lazy brother of Sherlock Holmes (who was called Mycroft - an equally silly name).

I now know of four Jarons. Admittedly it means "the sound of Israel rejoicing", but it sounds like a corruption of Aaron and Jack or something.

I am totally at a loss at how to pronounce this name. Is it like the Croatian name Neve, or is it like the word Never?

I assume that this name is a respelling of Madison (which is a name I already dislike) with an s on the end. What makes this utterly atrocious is that Madisyns is a little boy. Giving boy's names to a girl is one thing, but when this boy is 10 or 11 years old, I bet that he's going to find himself bashed up after school.

The award for the most truly horrible names I've ever heard are for a couple of twin girls whose names are Kofisha which admittedly sounds perfectly fine with the Batswan surname name Moputu (Kofisha Moputu works reasonably well), and her sister Eee, which means "the exalted princess".
The problem is that these two parents although they were living in Botswana where there might be plenty of Eees and Kofishas, but they've moved back to Sydney and their surname is... Thompson*. By the way what sort of name is Eee anyway? You can just imagine the phone call with the bank:

Can I have your first name please?
Did you say E?
No, I want your first name, not just the initial.
That is my first name.
What? E?
Yes, Eee.
Could you spell that please?
E e e.
No, three Es.
E e e?
That's unusual...

I feel sorry for poor Eee... and Kofisha, and Madisyns, Nevaeh, Jaron, Mychal, Makynli and every other Tyrone, Cheyenne, Acedia, Thecla, Dusk and Kelsea. Your parents are clearly all bonkers, and you're paying for it, forever.

*Well actually not really. I changed it for privacy reasons, but it is that common.

February 09, 2010

Horse 1067 - Should we Raise the Drinking Age?

PM Kevin Rudd was answering questions on ABC1's "Q and A" programme in the Old Parliament House last night, and one of the questions put to him was whether or not he personally was in favour of raising the legal drinking age to 21, as is the case with a number of American States.

Mr Rudd who is a declared Christian* (and who also regularly attends an Anglican Church), stated that his personal opinion was that he would like to see the age raised to 21 but that it would be policy which should in due course be subject to a proper debate.

"But I believe in something called evidence-based policy, which is if the evidence is there and it's capable of being proven and it works, then we look at these things and make a decision. But you're asking me for a personal impression, and you don't run policy that way."
- Kevin Rudd, ABC Q and A

This of course raises an interesting question. How do we respond to this? If it was personally up to me, I would leave it at 18.

Age of Majority Act 1919
s3. Subject to this section for all the purposes of the laws of the Commonwealth-
(a) a person who, on or after the day of commencement of this Act attains the age of eighteen years, attains full age and full capacity on attaining that age.

The legalese of this Act basically states that at law, the everyone who is aged 18 and over is legally held responsible for their own actions. This single piece of legislation, in one fell swoop defines when someone can vote, when they are allowed to purchase cigarettes and alcohol, when they can be conscripted for military service and when they can face a court for their own actions if they break the law.

The reason for this lies in conditions which helped to forge the legend of this nation itself. In WW1 or what was then called "The Great War", it was possible for 18, 19, and 20 year olds to die in the service of their country on some far flung field, and still not have any say about the government which directed them there.

Having said this, I think that it is obvious that some people will knowingly behave stupidly irrespective of the law. If all the government does is change the law, and the underlying attitudes which create a problem in the first place do not change, then all that happens is the criminalisation of something for which people are held responsible.

Unless you changed the minimum drinking age to something like 40, you're still going to get youthful exuberance leading to a significant proportion of alcohol abusers. From what I can tell (although admittedly I am no expert and haven't researched the issue in depth, so I'm willing to be proved wrong) there isn't a significantly reduced incidence of alcohol-related problems in somewhere like America, where the drinking age is 21, as compared to Australia.

The problem with drinking in Australia isn't age, it's the culture/attitudes of both young people and adults who encourage drinking to the point where they cannot image any event or occasion without it, or create occasions just for getting completely wasted. Raising the age will not fix this; what needs to be addressed is why people (of all ages) are drinking so much so regularly. In Italy and France where the drinking age is as low as 14, the culture for some reason doesn't seem to lead to mass cases of drunkenness and violence.

The obvious question is what purpose does the law itself serve. If the law can be shown to shape and modify society for the better, then there is a strong case to be made for changing it, but if it can not, then questions need to be asked.
Laws exist in principle either as a guideline, a boundary, an instruction or a standard. The question which I ask runs concurrently with that standard, namely is it right to assume that someone has full legal responsible for their own actions, whilst at the same time denying them reciprocal privileges under the law?

That is a little bit more difficult to answer. Personally, I think that if you do hold someone fully legally responsible for their own actions, then those reciprocal privileges should follow; thus the age of 18 should remain...

... or perhaps we should just raise the Age of Majority to 21 and be done with it.

- This makes for some interesting reading.

February 02, 2010

Horse 1066 - Barriers, Fences and All That

The Sydney Morning Herald today reports that Pakistan's ports Minister Aijaz Hussain Jakhrani has called for tighter security after the incident involving Khalid Latif on Sunday night, and whilst I agree that something should be done I'm not sure if the examples shown by the SMH are actually sensible.

PAKISTAN'S Sports Minister Aijaz Hussain Jakhrani has urged Cricket Australia to set up barriers at grounds and ban alcohol following the tackle by a spectator on Khalid Latif in Perth on Sunday night.

"The thing that really worried me, what if that person had a knife on him, he got there and could have done anything he wanted," Jakhrani told the Herald. "They should ban alcohol at grounds. There should be some kind of barrier or restriction to stop people entering the ground. This is the right time to think about these things. It is no good waiting for someone to die before making decisions."

Grounds in the subcontinent have barbed-wire fences dividing players from spectators, which has prevented the ground invasions that are frustratingly common during the Australian summer.

Mr Jakhrani who is of course acting in the interests of safety for his players, I think has entirely the right spirit. There should be a stronger deterrent to stop people from entering the field of play. However, the suggestion to erect barriers is in my opinion quite dangerous.

21 years ago when Liverpool played Nottingham Forest in an FA Cup Semi Final, 96 people were killed in a crowd crush in the now world infamous Hillsborough Stadium Tragedy. The subsequent Taylor Report which was commissioned into the disaster actually pointed to the crowd barriers among other things* as a root cause of the disaster in the first place. If there was a crowd crush in a stadium with "barbed-wire fences dividing players from spectators" as perhaps the Herald as implied, then I for one would not wish to be within 25 meters of said fence.
Apart from the 96 people who died, another 766 people were injured and around 300 people were hospitalised. One shudders to think what would happen under such circumstances if you then introduce barbed-wire into the mix.

Certainly I agree with the sentiment that crowd security and player safety should be looked into because this is quite a prudent thing to do, but introducing measures which in other circumstances which have proved to be fatal, might well be a price which is simply unbearable.
Having said this, the recommendations which came out of the Taylor Report are worth revisiting, for the administrators of any sporting code where they expect large numbers of people to be seated in a relatively small area, but I would have expected this as part of the normal review process.

There is of course the other question about banning alcohol at cricket matches. One thing to bear in mind is that Mr Jakhrani represents the interests of an Islamic nation, and as such the consumption of alcoholic beverages by Muslims is officially illegal in Pakistan, so I don't quite know if this is a backhanded method of enforcing Islamic values on the West.
Most major sporting venues in Australia either prohibit the bringing of alcohol into the venue, and also have as part of their licencing agreements and regulations, both the responsible service of and a prohibition of removal of alcohol.
At any rate, the 37-year-old man who tackled Khalid Latif to the ground has not actually been charged with drunkenness, but with the more serious charges of assault and trespass and has also won himself a life ban from the WACA Ground.

Perhaps the best thing in this case would be a punitive fine of $10,000 for invading the pitch: this seems to work quite effectively in both Sydney and Melbourne. But the idea of erecting a potentially lethal barrier around the pitch itself, I think should be killed here and now.

*The recommendations of the Taylor Report included points on items such as the sale of alcohol within stadia, crush barriers, fences, turnstiles, ticket prices and other stadium items.

February 01, 2010

Horse 1065 - Making The Difference

At lunchtime this afternoon, I was on my way to the Post Office to pay several bills when a white Toyota Tarago van drove past and on the side was an advert for a company called Master Coaching.

Now the only reason that I even think that this is worth mentioning is because of their logo, which looks like this:

from: http://www.mastercoaching.com.au

Now I don't know about you but a company which self-styles itself in promoting "Advanced Learning Techniques" should have realised that their logo has a fraction on it; moreover the value of that fraction is... 0.

0 - zero, nil, nada, null, naught, zip and zilch.

Any fraction with 0 as the numerator (expect where the results are undefined) has a value of 0. Of course if it is supposed to be a heraldic device where the field is a party per bend sinister, then the party in the "upper" field is the dominant party; therefore the dominant is... 0.

0 - zero, nil, nada, null, naught, zip and zilch.

What are they trying to say here? That if you use their services then the extent to which they actually are "making the difference" is zero?