October 31, 2017

Horse 2339 - Coca-Cola Plus Confusion

John Pemberton's​ invention of 1886 of Coca-Cola, came just before what has sometimes been called "the great binge", which was that period in history where hard drugs were readily obtainable and unregulated. As a result, everyone who had access to free money, was pretty well much on anything that they could lay their hands on. Queen Victoria was said to have had a laudenum habit, the UK went to war with China and won Hong Kong as a result of the Opium Wars and even in literature, the great fictional detective Sherlock Holmes was known for taking Heroin. Coca-Cola like so many of the tonics of the day, also originally contained a hard drug; specifically cocaine. In due time, the cocaine would be taken out.
Coca-Cola became the de facto drink of World War Two when it was made available to US servicemen abroad at the price of 2 cents a bottle, which is what they could get it for back home. For the latter half of the twentieth century, Coca-Cola reigned as the ubiquitous drink of many parties and summers, and for a short time became the synonymous with a marketing war with Pepsi.
In the twenty-first century, it has lost its place as the unchallenged market leader when it comes to fizzy diabetes inducing drinks, as we've entered another kind of unregulated "binge" of so-called "energy drinks"; the most visibly famous being Red Bull. This has meant that the people at Coca-Cola have had to come up with something different and new and that's where this fits in.

I won't say that I don't know what possessed Coca-Cola to​ come up with this product but I do know that it will pass into the realm of the past with almost no lament at all, and that's a shame because it isn't all that bad.

In my not very well paid opinion, the king of coffee in a can is made by Ueshima Coffee Company and is labelled UCC. Coming in a close second is the coffee in a can made by Pokka. If you've never had coffee in a can before, it can be something of an unnerving experience but that sensation of mental calamity very quickly wears off. I expected Coca-Cola And Coffee to be as equally as weird the first time and completely normal after that. I was half wrong.
Coca-Cola And Coffee was completely normal to me from the get go and therein lies what I think is its main problem - it is dull. There's a little bit of a brain disconnect when you experience the two flavours of Coca-Cola and Coffee competing with each other and then the flavour is exactly what it says on the tin; it is Coca-Cola And Coffee. It's not mind numbingly amazing and it's not brain implodingly terrible. As a thing which is exactly what it purports to be, it is what it is and that's a problem.

When you buy a can of Coca-Cola, you are expecting a can of Coca-Cola. When you want a can of coffee, you are expecting a can of coffee. I can think of no point in my life, either before or after why I'd want both at the same time. It would be like going to a café and ordering Coca-Cola in it, or alternatively going to a place that served cold drinks and asking for a Coke with coffee in it. Sure, you can do it but why would you?
I quite like Vanilla Coke because that has crossed the boundary into its own territory and for that same reason, Cherry Coke has also crossed the boundary into its own territory even though nobody knows what sort of cherry that it's supposed to be. In fact I'd argue that precisely because nobody knows what sort of cherry that the cherry in Cherry Coke is, that that is the reason why it is so wonderful. Coca-Cola And Coffee isn't particularly distinctive enough to justify its own existence.

Coca-Cola And Coffee falls into that same valley of indifference as Pepsi Max and Lime. The difference with Pepsi Max and Lime is that it does have a point and that is that it is secretly calling out for a shot of Bacardi to be put into it. Coca-Cola And Coffee seems like a solution to a problem which nobody knew that they had and nobody asked for either. It is like the key pocket on a pair of Stubbies that no key can ever fit into; yes it is a thing but why? It as though someone at a board meeting thought that it was a good idea but no A/B testing was done afterwards.
Don't get me wrong. I am not saying that it is unpleasant at all. If it was a hot afternoon, you would be quite happy to have it as a cold drink but that's because it is a cold drink rather than anything else. You absolutely not spit it out in a giant comedy spray which can be posted on YouTube later. In fact if anything, it will register remarks like "Hmm" and "Oh" as you try to determine what it is; then having done so, you'll be left with a quizzical expression as you ponder why but come away with no answer.

I don't hate Coca-Cola And Coffee, I don't love Coca-Cola And Coffee. I have no strong feelings one way or the other. This is a thing which in the year 2037 people will say "that was a thing" and someone will get completely hyped for in a wave of faux nostalgia for a thing. It will be like Leed Lemonade, or Sunkist orange. It will be was a thing and no more.

October 26, 2017

Horse 2338 - V = I R (A Love Letter To Electricity)

V = I R

As I tap away on the tablet computer which I use to write this, the sounds of Dvorak's 9th Symphony "The New World Symphony" plays through my earphones. I have heard this so many times that I virtually know where every single note is, what's been before and what's coming up. The computers inside the tablet, the earphones themselves, the train which I am in, and even the impulses which pass from my ears to my brain are all driven by electricity and all of them are governed by the insanely simple equation which describes all the electricity in the universe: V = I R.

Voltage, that is the potential difference in energy between two points within an electric circuit, equals the amount of current which flows multiplied by the amount of electrical resistance in the system. This is the story of the computer age, the electronic age and contained within the bodies of every single living thing that ever was, the story of life itself. When no more current passes through the body of a living thing, it is dead. That even includes the micro, pico, atto and femto currents in the cells of trees, plants and algae but also of single cell bacteria and viruses.
The entire of chemistry, is really just the interaction of particles but mostly the passage of electrons writ large; expanded to many layers of extraction. When you talk about chemical bonds or chemical reactions, really you're talking about the interaction of atoms and their electrons. It isn't a very long journey to go from chemical reactions to the flow of electrons through wires and into the world where they encounter resistance and dump their potential energy somewhere: V = I R

When you have the movement of just a single electron, for the very small amount of time that it has moved from one place to another, that is a calculable flow of current. Any resistance that that electron encounters can also in theory be calculated. The difference between the two energy states before and after it has moved, represents the change in potential difference, which is the voltage.

I don't know about you but I find that to be most singular.

In the case of a rock band in particular, electricity is generated in the brains and muscles of the players which operate the instruments. That is then converted back into strings of electricity via amplifiers and mixing desks. Then that is saved onto computers; where still more people generate electricity in their brains and muscles, to operate and manipulate the data. That is then sent out via vast distribution networks, which might involve the physical production of storage devices; where it is then played on some sort of music player and possibly amplifier system. It is then converted back into strings of electricity when the sounds strike people's ears, before those electric strings travel into their brains.
All along that journey, which might include many hundreds of relatively mundane and boring steps, are all powered in some way by the flow of electrons and governed by that crudely simple law of V = I R.

I come from a generation of people who remembers the time before the internet and when a telephone was a thing that plugged into the wall. My parents' generation can remember a time before television and my grandparents'​ generation could even remember a time before radio. I suspect that you would be hard pressed to find anyone living on the planet now, who can remember a time before there was electricity. The World's Fair in Chicago in 1890, was remarkable not because of anything particularly on display there but because of the thing that made it possible to display anything at night. The World's Fair in Chicago in 1890 was really the first major scale use of electric lighting.
The 20th Century which might well prove to be the most remarkable century for a very long time, was the first century in history where people could gain access to power by simply plugging something into a wall. The steam engine may have ushered in the Industrial Revolution but it was electricity which really ushered in the modern world. The valve, transistor and the integrated circuit, did more to transform the way we move, are entertained, communicate, do business, do work, and live our lives, than any other set of physical inventions in the history of the world and yet they're all governed by the simple law of V = I R.

I am willing to suggest that of the four fundamental forces of the universe (gravitation, electromagnetism, the weak nuclear force, and the strong nuclear force) that electromagnetism is perhaps the most elegant of them because it is the purest to explain. We knew about gravitation first because but the maths were messy and the two nuclear forces have even messier mathematics but electromagnetism has one of the simplest to understand and remember of all the equations and identities in science; and I think that that's beautiful.

October 21, 2017

Horse 2337: NZ shock: losers write newspaper copy

One of the great ironies about the only national newspaper in Australia being called The Australian, is that its founder and proprietor in chief, Rupert Murdoch, willingly gave up his Australian citizenship for business reasons. Another great irony of the company News Corp Australia is that by its own admission, it isn't really a news organisation but an editorial company.

The Australian’s purpose remains the same as it has been since its launch in 1964. The Australian's aim is to lead the independent thinking, essential for the further advancement of our country and the Australian business environment.
- News Corp website as at 21st Oct 2017

If you read yesterday's Australian, you'd be left wondering what the actual aim was of the newspaper. One can only assume that the further advancement of our country involves the ridicule of another, when the results of the process of forming government don't go as you'd hoped.

On the 23rd of September, the New Zealand general election returned a hung parliament. This means that no party won enough seats to form a majority in its own right and that whoever could negotiate to form the biggest coalition of a sufficient number of seats, would form government. That process after a considerable number of meetings took 26 days and Labour, NZ First and the Greens were able to form that coalition. That process seems completely alien to The Australian and you'd think after reading their news reportage, that a horrible travesty has been committed. My reading of The Australian leads me to believe that either nobody who writes for the newspaper has even a rudimentary understanding of how a NZ Election or the NZ Parliament operates, has ever studied basic political science or taken a civics class, or perhaps more worryingly are just plain scurrilous knaves.

New Zealand’s socialist-leaning Jacinda Ardern will form a Labour-led coalition government after veteran maverick and political chameleon Winston Peters rejected outgoing Prime Minister Bill English’s claim to have won a fresh centre-right mandate by outpolling Labour at last month’s election.
- Ean Higgins and Primrose Riordan, The Australian, 20th Oct 2017

This was the opening paragraph from the article on the front page entitled "NZ shock: losers take power". There is already something wrong with this factually in just the headline. Exactly how has someone "lost" the election if they have formed a government? Usually you would call the ability to form government a win but not in the eyes of the Australian apparently.

The article then goes on to say that outgoing Prime Minister Bill English claims to have won a mandate to govern by outpolling Labour at last month’s election. How? Government in a parliamentary democracy is formed out of a majority of members on the floor of the parliament. By my calculations, the National Party of which Bill English is the leader won 44.45% of the vote. Collectively, Labour, NZ First and the Greens won 50.36% of the vote; hence the reason why in a proportionally repesented parliament, they won 50.83% of the seats. I assume that the Australian is able to stand by this statement because they can fall back on the opinion that Bill English made the claim and not them.

This article then goes on to state that:

Mr Peters said that under New Zealand’s mixed-member proportional electoral system — in which voters elect their preferred candidate for their electorate but also for a preferred party, which produces the final make-up of parliament on a proportional basis — Mr English did not have an automatic right to form government.
- Ean Higgins and Primrose Riordan, The Australian, 20th Oct 2017

Perhaps I need to reiterate this. Government in a parliamentary democracy is formed out of a majority of members on the floor of the parliament; therefore nobody ever has an automatic right to form government. I would hate to think what The Australian thinks of the German Bundestag which uses almost the same system with variations in counting, and where there are seven parties on the floor.

The editorial which sits buried all the way on page 13 and which attributes no credits for authorship to it, probably on the basis of cowardice on the part of The Australian, has this to say:

Winston Peters' decision to throw in his lot with Labour to form New Zealand's new government makes a mockery of last month's election. It flies in the face of the convention Mr Peters adhered to in his role as kingmaker under the complex mixed-member proportional electoral system on two previous occasions when he pledged the support of his New Zealand First Party to the party that won the most votes, ensuring stable government.
- Editorial, The Australian, 20th Oct 2017

I want to know exactly how Winston Peters' decision for NZ First to enter into a coalition with Labour and the Greens makes a mockery of the election. Again Government in a parliamentary democracy is formed out of a majority of members on the floor of the parliament; therefore anyone who can cobble together a majority by any means necessay, will form government. At any rate, Winston Peters left the Nationals in 1993 to form his own party; that party has formed coalition goverments with both the Nationals and Labour in the past; so the idea that forming the next government with Labour somehow makes a mockery of the election, when all 120 members of the parliament have been democratically elected, is stupid.
In 1996 NZ First entered into a coalition with the Nationals. In 2005 NZ First entered into a coalition with Labour. In 2011 NZ First entered into a coalition with the Nationals. In 2014 NZ First entered into a coalition with the Nationals. Have I made my point yet?

As for the mixed-member proportional electoral system, is it really that complex?
You vote for a party and your local electorate. Basically if a party wins say 24% of the vote, they're entitled to 24% of the seats, which is 28 of 120. They fill those seats by whoever won the most number of votes in electorates, then the rest of the seats are filled down the list. If a party more electorates than it has party seats, it still gets them as overhang seats. How is that complex? I've been able to describe it in one paragraph. How come The Australian which supposedly has political journalists who have been there for thirty years or more, can't work that out?

The thought of perhaps 10 years of good government was ultimately unbearable for them.
- Greg Sheridan, The Australian, 20th Oct 2017

Who's to say that the new government which has been formed won't be good government. Seriously? What's going on here? For a publication whose supposed aim is to lead independent thinking, they've done an awful lot of value judging. Just because your team hasn't won doesn't make the process illegimate; just because you can be bothered to understand the process doesn't make it illegimate either.

Really the only genuinely truthful part of the reportage in The Australian about the NZ Election and Jacinda Arden becoming the next NZ Prime Minister was the headline for Greg Sheridan's article which was "Vanilla election concludes with a bitter aftertaste". That bitter aftertaste is The Australian's reportage which is like indigestible right-wing baby formula which should be spat out at the first available opportunity.

October 20, 2017

Horse 2336 - Murder On The Southern Aurora - The Death Of The Australian Motor Industry

Arguably the most famous of all of Agatha Christie's​ Poirot novels was "The Murder On The Orient Express"; it so famous that my tablet suggests all of those words in order before you type them. As you work your way through the novel you gradually learn that everyone who is named had some motivation for murder and spoiler alert: everyone did it.

Yesterday ​the last Holden Commodore VF rolled off of the production line and today marks the ceremonial end of the Australian car industry. I have spoken extensively about this in the past and so I'll not go over that ground again; so today will be a denouement for the murder of the Australian car industry. Spoiler alert: everyone did it.

Rob McEniry - was CEO of Mitsubishi Australia in 2008 when instead of looking at developing a Lancer or Mirage variant, they decided to build the 380 which was a localised version of the Galant. Sure, the 380 was and is an excellent vehicle and in every way the better of the American Galant but it was simply too big and too late. If the car had debuted in 1997, it would have been something of a cult classic but that was not to be.

Alan Mulally - was CEO of Ford Motor Company in Detroit; when Ford Australia applied to build the Focus in Australia, he said "no". When Ford Australia applied to build the Mondeo in Australia, he said "no". When Ford Australia applied to build the Fiesta and/or Join in Australia, he said "no".

Mark Fields - was the CEO of Ford Motor Company in 2016. Even after Ford Australia had done the engineering work for the Ikon and the T6 Ranger, instead of letting them build any car which would ensure the viability of the company, he basically signed the death warrant of the Broadmeadows factory.

Joe Hockey - as Treasurer, on the 13th of December 2013, he dared the motor manufacturers to leave Australia and said that there wouldn't be any more subsidy payments. This was quite apart from the fact that for every dollar that was paid by the government in subsidy payments, it generated roughly nine dollars in economic activity due to the supply chain and related industries and generated roughly three dollars in additional taxation receipts for the federal government.

Akio Toyoda - was the CEO of Toyota, who made the decision to end production of the Camry. The Camry had always been a volume seller and was otherwise profitable. Just like Ford and GM, Toyota had profit shifted to avoid paying tax in Australia but were more than happy to take subsidy payments. Toyota could have easily built the Corolla, Hilux, Yaris or any number of vehicles in Australia if they wanted to.

Dan Akerson - was the CEO of General Motors in 2012 when the decision was made to replace the 9th Generation Impala. Rather than take up the VF Commodore which was already fully exportable and compliant with US regulations (with VE already having been sold as the Pontiac G8 before the whole brand was shut down), management in Detroit decided to protect American workers and only import the SS as an orphan, rather than the complete suite of three engine choices and the three suites of body styles (sedan, wagon and ute).
He was also the CEO of General Motors in 2013, who made the decision to kill off Australian manufacturing, despite the fact that the 10th Generation Impala was and still is a worse vehicle than the VF Commodore, and the fact that although the Insignia B is better than the 10th Gen Impala it is also worse than the VF Commodore.

The Australian Public - yes, this is also our fault and I am especially looking at every single one of you who drives a big SUV. The Australian public has bought loads of pathetic SUVs which can't even go off road, and have less boot space than either the Commodore, Falcon or Camry wagons. You think that by buying an SUV that you're buying something "cool" I assume but most SUVs are either uncool or seriously uncool; with only a very few number of exceptions.

Me - yes, this is also my fault for being born after real wages peaked in the third quarter of 1978. I have never really been able to afford a new large family car and usually buy small ones. If Ford had built the Fiesta or Ka in Australia I would have had one of those. If Holden had built the Barina or Adam in Australia I would have had one of those.

In "Murder On The Orient Express", the victim dies because all twelve of the suspects line up to stab him; Poirot eventually shows his utter disgust at everyone during the denoument. It is never made clear which particular stab actually kills the victim and so blame is laid equally at the feet of all of them. In the case of the Australian car manufacturing industry, there are some very obvious stabs and a lot of tiny needle jabs but the fact remains that this list of suspects collectively killed off the Australian car industry and as I write this, no more cars are rolling off production lines in Australia. Australia as of 20th October 2017 is now the largest economy and indeed the only economy in the G20 not to produce a motor car. As of today, our premier motor racing category has two cars which have ended production and one car that isn't even on sale in Australia.
Probably as many as 120,000 people will never be employed at the same wage level ever again and the skills that Australia had in doing world's best engineering will dissipate. If someone can explain the logic of why every single car with a build date of 20th October 2017 and going forward, being imported and the money paid for it leaving the country, makes any sense whatsoever then I'd like to hear it.

There's been a murder; everyone did it; as of today, the blood is still dripping from the corpse.

October 18, 2017

Horse 2335 - Taxing Churches Is Either A Pointless Or Nasty Exercise

One of the things that I've seen with mind numbingly dull regularity and usually in relation to fixing holes in government budgets, is the suggestion that churches should be taxed. I suspect that this is almost always put forward because of one of two worldviews: firstly that there is a perception that churches are​ monolithic organisations of magic piles of untapped monies; secondly that the person making the suggestion either doesn't like churches or has a quiet vendetta against them. The first of these two theories is relatively easy to unpack, the second is even easier because at least it is open with its truth.
So, I'm going to do precisely that.
The idea that churches somehow hide a limitless pile of untapped monies is laughable; yet if you unpack this for people, they tend to want to accuse you of being a conspiracy theorist, even though it is their theory that you've just unpacked.

Churches and indeed all religious organisations derive their income from voluntary sources. It probably should go without saying but we need to start somewhere. One of the basic assumptions of economics happens to align up with one of the central tenants of Christianity quite well and that is that people are selfish. Economics usually goes on to make the further assumption that people are rationally selfish but anyone who has observed people in anything more than an academic sense, which usually isn't economists, will tell you that people are not particularly rational. On the other hand, mathematicians will tell you that if you have a sufficiently large enough sample size, then the individual irrationality of people becomes a statistical predictability; so we'll look at that.
The Australian​ Taxation Office tells us that the rate of charitable giving in Australia works out to be slightly less than 1% of people's declared taxable incomes. The Internal Revenue Service in the United States, which also happens to include donations to churches within people's tax returns as allowable deductions (church giving is not an allowable deduction in Australia), reports that the rate of charitable giving in the United States only improves to about 2%. You can of course put forward the theory that people who give money to charity don't want to report their charitable giving because of reasons of piety but the obvious counter to that is that the rate of charitable giving by companies and trusts is so incredibly small as not to be statistically significant.
We can make the general assumption that churches and indeed all religious organisations probably collect about 1% of total GDP as revenue. If we take the doctrine of the tithe, which suggests that one tenth of a Christian's income should be given away for the purpose of doing good, then working backwards we can draw the conclusion that of the total population that probably about 10% of Australians are regular atttendees of churches and that seems about right to me.

It should also be pointed out at this point that churches and other religious organisations in Australia are almost never vertically integrated. A local church is almost always an exclusively local organisation, which might pay association fees for administration but even something as big as "the Catholic Church" is still made up of independent parishes with independent sets of accounts. They aren't even large group employers for the purposes of taxation. In addition to this, schools, colleges, universities, hospitals and philanthropic and charitable organisations and foundations are also independent from churches. Unless a school is exceptionally small, although they might share board members with the church that spawned them, then they are both functionally and actually independent.

Taking that 1% of GDP as the assumed revenue for all churches (which by the way I think is very much optimistic) then the total amount of available money should be $12.05bn, right? Well not really.

If we're going to make the assumption that churches specifically should be taxed at company tax rates, then it immediately follows that they should also be allowed to make deductions which relate to the revenue that they collect. Section 6 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 provides the definition of ordinary income and almost immediately after, Section 8 of that same act defines the allowable deductions which relate to that income.
Here we immediately run into a problem. Once you allow for electricity, water rates, gas bills, council tax, insurance, stationery, maintenance of buildings, and what not, then like most organisations, the single biggest expense for churches are paying wages. The thing is though that right across Australia, there is a consistent underpayment of vicars, pastors, immams, and others​ ancillary staff, if indeed they are paid at all.
Should the full economic costs of what amounts​ to voluntary work be brought to account? As soon as you start enforcing that vicars, pastors, immams and everyone else employed by religious organisations are paid at full rates of wages, then immediately the entire sector of the economy begins to start running on exceptionally tight margins, to the point where they almost always run at actual losses. This is exactly the reverse problem which usually presents itself in corporate tax law: instead of corporations sending revenue streams overseas to create tax losses and avoid paying tax, churches would need to start bringing to account previously unaccounted for expenses.
Instead of a magic pot of untold billions of tax dollars that those people who want churches expect to be found, we find a hole of untold billions of expenses which have never been paid for and if they were all brought to account, then I can pretty well much guarantee that most churches would become loss making entities and pay zero corporate tax. So much for that idea then.

The other issue why people might want to start taxing churches is because they don't like them and wish punitive harm upon them. Scratch the surface of the veneer of civilisation even just a tiny little bit and you'll instantly return to that previous statement that people are irrationally selfish. If you then ask the basic question of why a church isn't any different to a sporting club, theatrical society or a book club and your previously reasonably rational person who wants to justify taxing churches, turns into a knave. If that's all that substantiates the desire to tax churches, then in the cold light of rationality, why not start taxing sporting clubs, theatrical societies and book clubs? I openly hate rugby league and think that it is stupid but I don't think that rugby league clubs should be taxed unless they pass into the realm of obviously being a business.
That last point is worth considering. At some point, club, association or society does look less and less like a not for profit organisation and does begin to look like a full blown profit making company. I don't know where the line lies but I do know that Sanitarium Foods and Hillsong Music very very very much look like profit making businesses and motives should very much be questioned. The local parish church in an inner city suburb with 60 members and only 4 properly paid staff, although it might sit on a plot of land worth a few million dollars, is not exactly what most people would call a business.

The logical conclusion is that if churches were to suddenly become companies for tax purposes, just because some bozo out there thinks that there's a massive untapped pile of tax revenue, it won't do much at all. If that same bozo wants churches were to suddenly become companies for tax purposes, just to fulfil some kind of strange vendetta, then that's equally as pointless. I imagine that taxing churches would be even less fruitful than the brilliantly myopic Minerals Resource Rent Tax of the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd/Abbott governments and collect less than 10% of the expected revenue and since the expected revenue is already diddly-squat, then 10% of that is not even diddly - which makes such a plan either stupid or nasty, so pick one.

October 14, 2017

Horse 2334 - 38 "Facts" About Grapefruit That Nobody Asked For Or Wanted

1. The grapefruit originally came from the Nile River delta and were almost exclusively known as until the advent of Middle English​ as the Egyptian Citrus.
2. Grapefruits are second behind the Grand Mumbai Orange in terms of being the largest citrus.
3. In 1477, the city of Hamburg banned grapefruits from being inside the city walls.
4. King Charles II of England had a grapefruit tree which was so fecund, that the court developed its own recipe for grapefruit liqueur. The recipe has subsequently been lost to the ages.
5. The 9th Battalion of the British Army in World War I had a grapefruit as its insignia.
6. Grapefruits are more likely to be left behind to rot it refrigerators than any other fruit.
7. The grapefruit became the standard size for bowling balls in the Yorkshire variant of Nine Pin.
8. The game of Knock Down Sally is traditionally played with a grapefruit in the north of England.
9. The Imperial German Navy used to issue grapefruits to ships in order to prevent scurvy in sailors.
10. The spy John Mango from the Carribbean Butler series by Fulton Presley, was originally called John Grapefruit in early drafts.
11. Grapefruits must be X-rayed to prevent fruit fly from entering the Australian state of Victoria.
12. Johnathan Swift had a specifically designed grapefruit sized hole put into the wall of his house so that he could take delivery of them without having to go outside.
13. The rapper Macklemore usually places three grapefruits on his rider list of demands before a concert because they remind him of his childhood.
14. Grapefruit related eye injuries are the fourth most common injuries which concern fruit in New Zealand.
15. During construction of the Lincoln Monument, grapefruits were placed outside the site to prevent cats from interrupting construction.
16. Susai Bangbang Yudihono presented Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with a tray of grapefruits as an official gift because no other gift had been organised.
17. Grapefruits and sticky rice are among the ingredients used to make the mortar that holds together many sections of the Great Wall of China.
18. There is more Vitamin B14 in one grapefruit than in all the beef from a cow.
19. Grapefruit appears on the Societié du Comedies official list of "inherently funny things".
20. Grapefruit juice was in the standard issue of food and drink products in the Apollo program that went to the moon because testing showed that the flavour was remarkably stable.
21. The nominal ground rent in the French Department of Alsace for one hectare of land, is two grapefruits.
22. None of these facts about grapefruit are actually real.
23. Grapefruits were shown at the 1851 Royal Exposition and members of the public could buy one for 17/6 which was more than the average weekly wage at the time.
24. Grapefruit is 100% non effective at curing liver cancer, despite the protestation of the British Holistic Medical Society.
25. If a lorry is heading down a mountain road, grapefruits are the second thing to drop off; after the speed of the lorry.
26. Tony Blair has a grapefruit named Kevin.
27. Grapefruit juice was the basis for the invisible ink which was used in the Magalevian Conspiracy of 1926.
28. There is enough chemical energy in a grapefruit to power a transistor radio for a short period of time.
29. During the Blitz on London in the Second World War, grapefruits were kept in Aldwych station as emergency rations.
30. One of the last bosses in Food Fight IX, is The Grapefruit Brothers. You need to beat them on Hard mode or better, to get the Silver Santoku of Suntory.
31. The Grapefruit version of the Android operating system was the first with a swipe diagonally function.
32. Periodically, McDonald's in southern Italy adds a grapefruit sauce for its chicken nuggets during the summer.
33. It​ is possible to rent a grapefruit as part of the room decor in many Hilton hotels.
34. John Wilkes Booth ate a grapefruit at a cafe, half an hour before shooting President Abraham Lincoln in the Ford Theatre.
35. The first organic thing sent into space was a grapefruit on a Redstone rocket, to see what the effects of radiation and the like we're.
36. A man was arrested in July 2016, for dropping a grapefruit out of the Burj Khalifa.
37. A tray of grapefruits is technically an acceptable present for second anniversary of someone's wedding.
38. Nobody is really sure why one of the gargoyles on the Sarajevo Opera House is of Cerberus holding a grapefruit.

October 13, 2017

Horse 2333 - Four Sonnets

All the way back in Horse 1766, I posted three sonnets. These four sonnets have been sitting around on my tablet like someone waiting for the last train to Transcentral at 3am. I think that it's time that they finally left the station.

The job isn't over until the paperwork is done.

I love its feel against my shiny skin.
Before I quickly flush it all away.
Its job complete it does not need to stay.
From roll, to job, and then to wat'ry bin.

One ply is not enough to do it right.
Two ply is adequate and is just so.
Three ply is for the kings who never know,
How much it costs and how the pennies bite.

Please do not scrimp and save on this wee thing,
Or else your friends and family will howl,
About the cheapness of your dainty towel.
And also of the redness of the ring.

Think carefully about your shopping caper,
When next you go and purchase toilet paper.

Richard iii

Here is a thing which is good for a lark.
If you happen to kill a king or lord.
Make sure that you run them through with the sword.
So they'll be found in a council car park.

It is not a hard thing for you to do.
Most anyone can do it all the same.
Your friends will just pretend it's all a game.
And maybe they will even help you too.

A six foot grave is something you must dig,
Or else the body may be stole away.
A wheezing ruse you must try to convey.
Of course, helps if you have a rotting pig.

Go forth, for now you have to kill a king.
A tyrant, that will make the people sing!

All Stations to Richmond.

If you are sitting on the evening train
And you affix your gaze out the window.
Imagine how the people come and go.
In weather fair and horrid driving rain.

Long lines of cars snake their way around.
In fineries of streaming red and white.
On jaundiced paths beneath a guiding light,
An from your view they never make a sound.

The chariots in combat you ignore,
The shrieking of the sirens are not heard,
The honking, growling traffic is absurd,
And lies beyond the firmly closing door.

And once again you're free to take a nap,
So hop aboard and kindly mind the gap.

The Sonnet Of The Forgotten Motor Car

I don't know if you've heard my anxious plea.
My squealing and my horrid carry on.
To let you know that all my fluid's gone.
And now you need to listen up to me.

Your care, it leaves a lot to be desired.
Neglect is your default way of thinking.
I find your attitude to be stinking.
For it is you; not me, to be retired.

You leave me outside, freezing in the cold.
In frost and fog, in horrid winter's chill,
And now you're wond'ring why I'm feeling ill.
While frozen parts are slowly growing old.

If I could speak, then at you I would quip:
"Buddy, you would fail to pass your pink slip"

October 11, 2017

Horse 2332 - Fly The Friendly Fart Filled Skies

A little over a week ago on Twitter, I made the assertion that one of the consequences of smoking being banned on aircraft was that the airlines could recycle the cabin air on a flight less frequently. I was chastised for suggesting such a thing and because text doesn't lend itself to nuance, I decided not to pursue this until I was in possession of a larger number of facts because specificity is the soul of narrative. Before I begin this story, I'm going to throw around some science.

Most passenger aircraft operate at many thousands of feet above sea level. I reckon that on a Sydney to Melbourne flight, that I've seen 39,000 feet listed on the in flight entertainment panel on the back of the seat in front; which I suspect means that the plane was following a semi ballistic trajectory. Officially Mount Everest used to be listed as 29,002 feet tall and what the exact number is doesn't matter, the point is that people suffer from altitude sickness up that high and aircraft operate another several thousand feet above that. Because of this, aircraft need to pressurise the passenger cabin or else have everyone black out.

The actual process of pressurising and air conditioning the passenger cabin is quite a complicated one but the short story is that air is drawn through the compressors in the engines, passes through the air-conditioning units in the aircraft and is piped into the cabin where all of the paying meatbags they call passengers are. The actual process is a bunch of electricity and goblins as far as I'm concerned, before lovely moist air comes out while you're blissfully unaware while you watch The Empire Strikes Back again. Here's where the story gets interesting.

I emailed someone at Airbus UK after Boeing didn't get back to me and according to their PR department, the air-conditioning system on an A320  is rated to able to completely replace the air in the cabin 45 times per hour; so that mean that there's a fair amount of over engineering built into the system. They also told me that in the event that the main engines expire, that the Auxiliary Power Unit makes enough electricity to drive all of the flight surfaces and the necessary systems required to make the plane controllable and keep the cabin pressurised. In my mind the APU looks like a cat's bum staring at you from the back of the plane.
Secondary to that, the usual operating settings for the aircraft in question are usually set to run a mix of 50:50 fresh versus recycled air. What this means is that assuming that the airlines run their aircraft according to the ideal specifications set down by the manufacturer, the air inside the cabin should be recycled and replaced at 30 times per hour.

This is where the story gets ridiculous. The US Department of Transport and the FAA first tried to impose smoking bans on aircraft in the 1980s but there was pushback from the airlines. The best available information that I have is that they wanted to keep the ability for passengers to smoke on board an aircraft due to passenger demand. Over time, bans slowly spread from flight of less than two hours, to less than six hours and finally only to all flights but only after a passenger died due to anaphylaxis caused by passive smoking. USDoT passed its set of no smoking rules in 2000 and the FAA followed suit.

There was an on effect though. Once it was realised that because people weren't smoking on board aircraft any more, the airlines soon realised that they didn't have to recycle and replace the cabin air as often. Since airlines are businesses which already run exceptionally tight margins, saving fuel and money because​ the cabin air didn't have to be recycled and replaced as often, is a very easy method of increasing profit margins with minimal effort. Because of this, that same person at Airbus UK told me that the airlines that they deal with, if the airlines want to be really tight with their money, will turn down the recycle and replace rates of cabin air to as little as 15 times an hour. Apparently that saves as much as 4% of fuel on a transatlantic flight.
It has been pointed out to me that the air on board an aircraft is cleaner than that in an average office building but again the person at Airbus UK put that down to a better HEPA filtration system on their aircraft and that the incidence of filters being changed in an average office air conditioning system are practically never. The actual air quality on board an aircraft, works out to be lower than what it used to be when smoking was still in place because the ratio of fresh air used to be higher and the rate of recycling and replacement was also higher.

I'm not saying that smoking on board an aircraft is either a good thing or even desirable. What I am saying is that airlines, who are after all it is said and done nothing more than businesses, saw that opportunity to turn down their air-conditioning systems in the pursuit of higher profits and did so.
Back in the days of smoking still being allowed on an aircraft, the airlines had a duty of care to replace the air as quickly as they could; whereas now when the air inside the cabin is being recycled less often, we're all living in more of our collective fart filled funk for longer.

October 10, 2017

Horse 2331 - President Trump And The Bad Cheque

I suspect that if the Voting Rights Act of 1965 had been placed in front of President Trump, that he would have used his veto power and denied it's passage. Quite apart from his general misogyny, his complete lack of sympathy for people if they've had their homes destroyed by a hurricane, and his only timid denouncement of actual neo Nazis after one of them ploughed a motor vehicle into a crowd of protesters, he has waged a war of words against immigrants and brown people; as most symbolically pictured in a border wall that will almost certainly never be built.
I can not yet tell if the actions of his Vice President Mike Pence were orchestrated by Mr Trump but orchestrated they were, in an act more orchestrated than Beethoven's 5th Symphony with a full orchestra playing.

As far as I can make out, Vice President Mike Pence deliberately flew home to his native Indiana to see the Indianapolis Colts host the San Francisco 49'ers and deliberately left the game during the continuing knee down protests of players in the NFL. In an act which there isn't absolute proof for but which the likelihood is pretty high, it seems that Mr Pence attended the match for the sole purpose of showing visible disgust for the knee down protests, which President Trump has previously denounced because they supposedly disrespect the flag (whatever the heck that means).

By way of background, these protests began last year after a smattering of shootings of black men by primarily white police officers, by Colin Kaepernick and against the wider background of the Black Lives Matter campaign. The knee down protests started out as a one man stand but have gradually spread across the NFL. I don't know at what point they became a problem for Mr Trump but given his habit of being outraged at a thing that Fox News told him to be outraged at, that seems like a good candidate.

I don't know exactly what sort of message that Mr Pence's arrival and departure from the Colts-49'ers game is supposed to send but I do know that set against that same background of Black Lives Matter, it is not a good look. This could be anything from a simple act of solidarity with President Trump (which given his misogyny and racism) is not a good look, or it could be a doubling down on the current messaging which is being sent out of this administration. Mr Trump's comments that he could stand on the corner of 5th Avenue in New York City and shoot a bunch of people and everyone would still vote for him, it turns out is actually a very astute if not scary piece of observation. This act by Vice President Pence, practically confirms such a statement because the people who would support Trump's brand of nativism don't even waver in their support of him no matter what sort of nonsense or bile gets spat out of his mouth. Certainly Mr Trump publicly endorsed Mr Pence's actions via his favourite bully pulpit, Twitter.

One of the interesting things about the knee down protests is that while people want to denounce them as UnAmerican, the First Amendment to the US Constitution protects the right to free speech. In making a knee down protest during the National Anthem, the act of protest actually confirms the belief contained within the First Amendment. The real irony here is that protesting and especially during the National Anthem, is possibly one of the most American things of all to do.
The thing being lost in all of this though, is that the medium has inadvertently become the message. It is perhaps convenient for Messrs Trump and Pence that disasters in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the shooting of 58 people in Las Vegas have stolen the available media oxygen from the knee down protests, because it means that while everyone is still staring in horror at something else, then they don't really need to address the continuing problem of police brutality against black people. It is also helpful in that same cause of not actually addressing the problem of even caring about the issue, that President Trump's​ own brand of nonsense and insanity is so unbelievably daft and shocking that people don't even need to think about the underlying issues relating to police brutality against black people.

What is absolutely certain is that Breitbart seemed to agree with Mr Pence's actions and that was very much like preaching to the choir. The problem is that the choir in question happens to be singing songs of racism and division, which only serves to prove the knee down protests to be completely and utterly justified and even noble. We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal? Not if you happen to be named Pence or Trump.

People tend to remember some very specific words from Martin Luther King Jr's "I have a dream" speech but there are parts of it which are even more relevant today; that have been whitewashed over:

In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our Republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men - yes, black men as well as white men -would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life,
liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this  promissory note insofar as her citizens of colour are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back
marked ''insufficient funds.'' 
- Rev. Martin Luther King Jr, 28th Aug 1963.

It really does not help when the President of the United States, who formally promised to uphold the Constitution before entering office, wants to write "cancelled" on that same cheque and his Vice President is not helping either.

October 05, 2017

Horse 2330 - Free To Air Motorsport Coverage In Australia - All Hope Abandon Ye Who Enter Here - Channel 10 Can Do Nothing; Foxtel Hates You

If you had tuned in on Sunday evening to see the Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix, you would have instead seen Family Feud, The Sunday Project and Australian Survivor. In a move which basically gave Australian motorsport fans a slap in the face, the scheduled race was not shown live but hidden away at stupid o'clock on Monday Night. In a move which then told Australian motorsport fans who don't have Foxtel, to go away and never ever come back, Channel 10 has unexpectedly already shown its last ever live Formula One race other than the Australian Grand Prix because Fox Sports has pulled rank on them in an act of pure spite.

I first had a vague suspicion that somthing was afoot in last Friday's Australian:
Ten has only retained the rights to the Australian Grand Prix, which will be simulcast by Foxtel as an ad-free broadcast. Iconic races on the F1 calendar — including the Monaco Grand Prix and British Grand Prix at Silverstone — will only be available to watch on Foxtel. A new deal will take effect this weekend with the Malaysian Grand Prix immediately switching to the pay-TV platform. Industry sources said an announcement will be made tonight.
 - The Australian, 29th Sep 2017

This is a News Corp newspaper basically laying down the line to Channel 10, who at this stage were still optimistic.

Only this week a News Corp article tipped TEN’s motorsport agreements for Formula One and V8 Supercars as not being renewed. TEN described that as “just plain wrong.”
- TV Tonight, 30th Sep 2017

"Just plain wrong", eh? The proof that The Australian were just plain right, came on that Sunday night. Futhermore, Foxtel was crowing over the dead corpse of Australian free to air motorsport fans as though they were thoughroughly righteous and justified in their actions:

From next season, Foxtel will be the only place to watch every Formula 1™ race LIVE or streamed on Foxtel Now. Viewers wanting to watch this week's Japanese Grand Prix can access it immediately on Foxtel Now with a two-week free trial for new subscribers.
- Foxtel, 3rd Oct 2017

This is of course perfectly in keeping with News Corp's usual modus operandii, having destroyed free to air coverage in the United Kingdom as well:
Live free-to-air coverage of Formula One in the UK will almost completely end in 2019 as Sky has announced a new deal to broadcast the sport exclusively.
The British Grand Prix will continue to be shown live on a free-to-air channel, a Sky spokesperson told F1 Fanatic, along with highlights of the races and qualifying sessions from the other rounds.
- F1 Fanatic, 23rd Mar 2016

On Channel 10's website, that change that they have already lost Formula One Coverage has already been made on their website.
Given that they previously described the suggestion that the motorsport agreements for Formula One and Supercars as not being renewed as being  “just plain wrong” is now completely untrustworthy, what does this say for the rest of the schedule?

I have sent emails to both Network Ten and Supercars management but neither of them have replied. It is now the 5th of October and so I am only left to draw my own conclusions.
Supercars management have refused to confirm my suspicions, most probably because their customer service is in the toilet and because their customers are Foxtel management and Pay TV subscribers, so the only logical conclusion that I can draw is that the 2018 Supercars season will have only the Bathurst 1000 shown live on free to air television and nothing else.
The reason for my suspicion is the announcement that only the Australian Formula One Grand Prix will be shown live on free to air television and all other Formula One races will be exclusively on Foxtel. For its part, Foxtel is acting like a pigeon who has just won a game of chess by crapping all over the board and knocking over all the pieces. Lots of factors have come together for this general state of affairs and all of them have worked in concert to play in an awful symphony of the damned for free to air television.

Channel 10 became a pawn in the game of Lachlan Murdoch to buy a free to air television licence in Australia. Having purchased 17.88% of Network Ten Holdings Ltd in 2010 in a co-ownership arrangement with James Packer, Lachlan Murdoch effectively bought himself a seat on the board and helped to gradually drive the company into the ground. I can only assume that the plan was to create a Network Ten so degraded that the Federal Government would simply be forced to change the media ownership rules to ensure the viability of the company.
Say what you like but it has to be about the biggest coincidence in the history of Australian television that after Lachlan Murdoch acquired a seat on the board of Network Ten Holdings Ltd, that mysteriously the rights to both Formula One and Supercars went to Foxtel. It is also a massive coincidence that as the share price of Network Ten Holdings Ltd fell, that Network Ten lost the rights to show all of the races for both Formula One and Supercars, live. It is also a mysterious coincidence that Network Ten Holdings Ltd also bought back MasterChef from Foxtel at roughly three times the price that they had sold it to them in the first place, in an act that must've absolutely pained the management at Foxtel.
In any other context, this would probably be seen as insider trading with various rights assets like Formula One and the Supercars being transferred from Network Ten Holdings Ltd, not to Foxtel but to Fox Sports which is a direct subsidiary of News Corp. Having done so, Lachlan Murdoch retired as a Director of Network Ten Holdings Ltd to join News Corp and 21st Century Fox as Non-Executive Co-Chairman; wherein he tried to buy a 15% share in the company and tried to get his friends in parliament to repeal the cross media ownership rules.

The malaise doesn't end there with just Network Ten though. Oh this story is far more complex than that. For you see, the curious thing about going motor racing is that you need cars to go motor racing in. Let's not forget the part that the Federal Government played. On the 13th of December 2013, the then Treasurer Joe Hockey thundered from the floor of the parliament that if the motor manufacturers didn't like the idea that there would be a reduction in the amount of subsidy payments made to them (which by that stage hadn't been announced as government policy) then they should leave. By Friday the 20th, all three of the motor manufacturers announced that they were going to end building cars in Australia. As of today, both Ford and Toyota have already ceased building cars here and the last Holden to leave the factory will do so on a fortnight tomorrow.
Quite apart from the end of thousands of jobs in Australia, the viability of the city of Elizabeth which might look as much of derelict ghost as Detroit does in a few years time, the ramifications for motor racing are obvious. You can not go motor racing in a car that does not exist.

A few years ago there were five brands of car represented in a Supercars grid. Holden, Ford, Nissan, Volvo, an Mercedes-Benz. Erebus Motorsport never really got any support from Mercedes at all and they ended their program in favour of reverting to running Holden Commodores. Garry Rogers Motorsport had a very public dust up with Volvo of Sweden and in an act of what looks like prudence on the part of Volvo, they took back the chassis and Garry Rogers Motorsport now runs Holden Commodores. Ford withdrew their official support in 2015, stopped producing the Falcon in 2016 and have made no announcement that there will be a replacement in Supercars for the teams currently running Falcons as legacy pieces. Nissan haven't publicly commited to their continued participation in the sport, have already withdrawn the Altima from sale in Australia, so I wouldn't be surprised if they just let the clock run out on their contract and simply not bother in future. That only leaves Holden who abandoned their own Holden Racing Team, are leaving the engineering of the turbocharged 3.6L V6 to Triple Eight Engineering and have no contingency plan for teams converting existing chassis from VF to ZB models; and are expecting the teams themselves to wear the costs of doing so at about $40,000 per car.

If I was in the marketing department for a very large firm, I would seriously question what the actual value is putting advertising on the side of cars that fewer people in 2018 will see than would have seen them in 2013. If I was a member of the general public who wasn't a hard core motorsport fan, then my consciousness about Supercars is going to be practically non existent unless I am already a Foxtel subscriber who also has paid for the additional sports channels. Without the sport being shown live on free to air television, it may as well be on the dark side of the moon.
If I was head of the marketing department of Nissan or Ford, I would scarcely see the point in providing motor cars to go racing with, for precisely the same reason as above. The old adage of "race on Sunday; sell on Monday" only works if anyone actually knows about it. Ford's current investment in the sport is nil, and Nissan are probably already internally peeved at the fact that they are prevented from advertising their own products on their own platforms​such as Nismo TV. I wouldn't be surprised if at the end of 2018 with falling crowds, Holden are left all alone in a category that no other manufacturers care about any more.

Supercars haven't confirmed it but it's kind of obvious that their customers are no longer the public who watched motorsport in Australia for the best part of fifty and a bit years but the subscribers and management of Foxtel. Almost certainly the management of Supercars will have run the numbers to see what the damage of destroying the free to air television audience is and Foxtel is a willing and able partner in that; so I suspect that they're fine with it. There is however a series of tombstones to Australian sport which might prove instructive: Channel 7 and the Super Tourers at Bathurst, Foxtel's own failed Super League project, and the Rugby Championship experiment, all show that if you treat the viewing public with sufficient contempt, they will respect that in kind by abandoning your product.
If there simply isn't the customer base on Foxtel, then the whole viability of Supercars as a thing might not last beyond the end of 2019. At that point, Nissan might have already gone and not replaced the Altima, Ford already haven't showed any inkling about replacing the Falcon, and with the ZB Commodores being the only cars produced in the past three years by that point, I don't even see what if any cars are even viable in 2020. The 2020 Supercars Championship looks like it will be 26 Commodores running around, at this point in time. Are the public going to want to pay for that?

Free to air fans of motorsport in Australia? Channel 10 can do nothing any more; Foxtel hates you. Please go away.

October 03, 2017

Horse 2329 - Thortsonpreaz In Las Vegas.

It didn't take long for the President to make a public statement about the mass shooting in Las Vegas, which very quickly became the worst such event in American history. By my reckoning it took 12 minute from the initial report by CNN to the statement by Mr Trump. A statement like this was to be absolutely expected and equally to be expected was the phrase "thoughts and prayers"; which has now become so hackneyed and trite as to fall into the realm of cliche. Maybe if only the White House, and indeed the rest of the American people, had thought harder and prayed harder, then this wouldn't keep on happening again and again with alarming regularity.
The truth is that "thoughts and prayers" for the several hundredth time in a year, are pointless.

This is what we know:
- The gunman has been identified by the Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo, as a 64-year-old white male named Stephen Paddock. Seeing as he is a white male, he will not be declared to be a terrorist because white males can not be declared as terrorists under the unwritten convention of assumed privilege and racism.
- At least 50 people were killed and at least 200 more were injured, when Mr Paddock opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort, into a crowd of at least 30,000 people who were attending the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival.
- Mr Paddock was found in his room and killed on site by an off duty police officer. At least two policemen were also killed during the incident.
- Mr Paddock's girlfriend Marilou Danley who is an Australian citizen, has been declared as a person of interest.

What I find extremely disappointing is that sort of thing happens so often now that if you were in the news room of a media outlet,  you could save time and effort by simply writing up a proforma document, safe in the knowledge that you will need it within a few days; because apart from changing a few names, most of these details are by now mostly interchangeable.

In March 1996, when a chap shot 18 people in Dunblane, the British Government set about passing legislation which banned semi automatic weapons and made the process of obtaining a gun harder. In April 1996, when a chap shot 35 people at Port Arthur in Tasmania, the Australian Government set about passing uniform gun legislation in the states which banned semi automatic weapons; there was also a gun buyback scheme which also cleared many weapons from the hands of the public.
In contrast, after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December of 2012, in which 28 people were killed (most of whom were children aged six and under), the United States Government's​ response was to issue yet another statement offering up "thoughts and prayers" and the American people bought more than three billion bullets within a week. Instead of doing anything beyond trotting out "thoughts and prayers", the uniquely American solution was to release 9 bullets for every single woman, man and child, into general circulation. We shall see how many more bullets are purchased over the next few days, won't we?

Presumably Mr Paddock will never be classified as a terrorist because doing so would gain the ire of the National Rifleman's Association whose membership is second only to the American Association of Retired Persons. I think that it speaks volumes that the events of 11th of September, 2001, which triggered off two wars which still have ramifications, are eclipsed roughly twice a year in terms of the number of people killed every single year and yet instead of taking any action at all, the best that the American Government can do is offer up yet more "thoughts and prayers".

Also presumably, someone will bring up the subject of mental health issues as the reason why Mr Paddock decided to destroy at least 58 people's lives. As it is the Congress has spent the last nine months yelling about repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act; so if that actually was successful, the plan would be to make access to proper treatment for mental health issues even more difficult, expensive and tenuous.
All of this conveniently dodges the question of why someone who has mental health issues should even be able to obtain weapons which can destroy so many people so quickly. It should be stated that the state of Nevada has open carry laws, no background checks are required at all, and there is always the underlying principle that Mr Paddock was entirely within his Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Thanks to the efforts of organisations like the NRA, that whole guff about a "well regulated" militia being necessary to the security of a free state, is completely irrelevant and the words "shall not be infringed" are yelled loudly from the rooftops.

Keep those "thoughts and prayers" coming, America. Maybe if you yell the words "thoughts and prayers" loudly enough you might be able to drown out the words "shall not be infringed". Maybe get the President to roll out the words "thoughts and prayers" for the several hundredth time this year and see if that makes any difference at all.
It seems that you hold some truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal and are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights and among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. However, you don't particularly find it self evident that the continued operation of the Second Amendment destroys all three.

As the body without the spirit, is dead, so faith without works, is dead... as is at least 58 people... as is at least 11,000 people each and every year.

Thortsonpreaz, Thortsonpreaz, Thortsonpreaz, Thortsonpreaz...

October 01, 2017

Horse 2328 - Sport Has Always Been Political

Some time today, a chap who I've never heard of called Mackelmore (which sound to me like a new mackerel burger at that Scottish fast food restaurant with the goofy looking clown), sang a song which I've never heard of, at the Grand Final of a sport that I don't like, and thanks to the miracle of digital television I can not watch because the reception here is non existent.
The song "Same Love" is apparently the NRL's attempt to weigh in on the same sex marriage postal survey; which is daft considering that most people have already received their survey and sent it back already.

What I've found somewhat baffling is the comments being made by the political cultural right about all of this. Queensland Senator and repeat enfant terrible Pauline Hanson, came out and said that she objected to Mr Macklemore's​ song before adding that she like me hadn't a clue as to who he was and wouldn't be watching anyway. Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott complained that Mr Mackelmore's song would be politicising sport; Attorney General George Brandis pointed out that in a civilised society where the right to free speech exists, if the NRL wanted to make such a statement then even though he disagreed with it, he was fine with them voicing an opinion.
Tony Abbott's comment about sport being politicised although completely valid and true, actually misses one rather obvious fact - history. Probably since the invention of sport it has been politicised and this is but one of a very long chain of sport which has been wedded to politics.

The ancient Greeks with their Olympic Games, certainly married politics and sport. The winning of wreaths acted as yet another propaganda piece as the various city states vied for power and glory. The Mayans tied sport and religion together, with the winner of some of their games winning all the clothes of everyone else present in the stadium. The Romans were far more organised, with various arenas and colosseums used as very public displays of the power of the empire; with undesirables being made to face each other in combat for the entertainment of those in the grandstands.

More recently, the revived Olympic Games were first run in conjunction with World's Fairs, to show off the technical prowess of various nations; with Hitler wanting to host the 1936 Olympics as a monument to the might and power of the Third Reich. The 1980 Olympics were held in Moscow and the 1984 Winter Olympics were held in Sarajevo, for pretty much the same reason. Formula One Grands Prix have been held in countries who were formerly on the dismal side of the Iron Curtain to show that those countries had arrived as a power in the modern world.

Equally, you can point to the boycott of South Africa because of apartheid by a lot of sporting teams as being so for political reasons, as was Tommie Smith's and John Carlos' black power salute at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics also done as a very visible political​ statement. Colin Kaepernick's simple protest against police brutality against black people, by kneeling while the national anthem is playing has become an issue which has gone straight to the top, even drawing the ire of the President himself.

Indigenous rounds in the NRL and AFL are political in tone, with the sporting bodies wanting to paint themselves as heroes for their inclusion of indigenous peoples. Of course, when someone like Adam Goodes actually took a stand against systemic racism in the AFL, he found that the actual support from those sporting bodies fell well short of the image that they were promoting. When the suggestion that a statue of Nicky Windmar be put up just outside the MCG, of that famous incident when he lifted his jersey and pointed with pride at the colour of his skin, the AFL also turned that down, in yet another show of how hollow their whitewash of history is.

Given that the NRL is primarily in the business of selling tickets and advertising space, with sport being the vehicle by which they sell these things, it surprises me not that they have taken a position which they see as popular. I have no problem whatsoever with the inclusion of an overtly political message at a sporting event because probably since the beginning of organised sport, there has always been politics lurking around in the change rooms. This is no different and no matter what the cultural right says, fine. It takes something pretty odd for me to agree with George Brandis but here we are.