Commenting.


COMMENTING
Due to the move of the blog to Wordpress posts from Jan 2012 onward will have commenting disabled (when I remember to do it)
Cheers - AE

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Solving the 'child obesity 'epidemic'

Persuade them all to starve themselves to death.
Almost 600 children below the age of 13 have been treated in hospital for eating disorders in the past three years, new figures have revealed.
The statistics include 197 children between the ages of five and nine - with cases within this age group almost doubling over the period.
[...]
The figures, from 35 NHS hospitals in England, show more than 2,100 children were treated for eating disorders before they reached their sixteenth birthday.
They include 98 children aged between five and seven at the time of treatment and 99 aged eight or nine. Almost 400 were between the ages of 10 and 12, while more than 1,500 were aged 13 to 15.
Bad, eh? Well, no. It seems it's probably worse.
Even these statistics, disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act, are likely to be an underestimate.
Some NHS hospitals treating such patients refused to provide any data, while among the 35 hospitals, some would only disclose the figures for those children admitted to wards after becoming dangerously emaciated - excluding those undergoing psychiatric therapy as outpatients.
And what is thought to be the reason for this?
Experts blamed the trend on a "pernicious" celebrity culture which glorified size zero figures, leaving increasing numbers of young girls struggling to cope with their growing bodies.
[...]
Susan Ringwood, chief executive of eating disorders charity B-eat said the figures reflected alarming trends in society, with young children "internalising" messages from celebrity magazines, which idealised the thinnest figures.
"A number of factors combine to trigger eating disorders; biology and genetics play a large part in their development, but so do cultural pressures, and body image seems to be influencing younger children much more over the past decade," she added.
Ah, it's our modern sleb culture, is it? Biology and genetics aren't going to change things a great deal unless there's an eating disorder gene which is dominant, so presumably it's this problem that this obsession with "body image" has grown so much over recent years. Okay, that makes sense to me, and there's no denying that magazines that do nothing but show pictures of skinny or buff people (sometimes rather weirdly so, sometimes photoshopped, and probably sometimes weird and photoshopped) have played a role. But I wonder if Susan Ringwood isn't missing another factor, another focus on body image that's been increasing a great deal in the last few years.





Nah, what am I saying? It couldn't possibly be anything to do with everyone running around screaming 'obesity epidemic' every time a kid turns his nose up at a green salad and asks for a burger instead, could it? Not least because it would mean the Righteous, those people whose lives are devoted to telling everyone else what to do and pointing the finger at those who aren't doing it right, are themselves are part of the problem.

When you want to know what to do just ask a celebrity

Number Six's mum?
Why ask people who do it for a living when slebs always seem to have all the answers.
[Olivia Newton-John] - in a comment piece in The Sunday Age - has called for a moratorium on fracking until all health, social and environmental risks have been examined.
I have to say she's looking very good for her age. Suspiciously good in fact. Hmmmmm... Apparently not ageing, blonde but with slightly dead eyes, and possessed of a calculated misanthropy while being keen on hybrids. And she's against fracking too, which with everything else we're not allowed to do anymore is almost the only pleasure left. There are very likely lots more just like her too.

Scary thought. If she gets upset when someone mentions toasters then we may be in a lot of trouble.

Olivia? Do us a favour.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

The taxmong cometh

I AM DEATH, NOT TAXES. I COME ONLY ONCE.                                                  
                                                  Feet of Clay - Terry Pratchett

And when Taxes come in the form of HMRC they can come all the time, and the Taxmong doesn't let anything get in the way of demanding money. Especially nothing trivial like not actually being owed any.
A damning report from the Treasury Select Committee said that HMRC had sent letters suggesting that taxpayers’ possessions could be seized and sold to pay their tax debts, and that this had been “completely inappropriate” in some cases.
“These letters appear to have been widely used without sufficent thought to whom they were sent to, even being sent to people who did not actually owe money,” the report said.
That's about as inappropriate as it gets really, sending demands to people who don't owe HMRC a penny. I'm afraid I find it all too easy to believe too, since for my first two or three years in Australia I was sent a tax return with the usual threats of fines for not filling it in despite my having told the tax office before I left that I was going and probably for good. Even when, after a number of long distance calls, I'd finally got the damned returns stopped I still kept getting letters at first bollocking me for not paying National Insurance and then almost begging me to start paying again. Admittedly I never had anything threatening property seizure, but having been told by phone and email several times that I didn't earn anything in Britain and didn't plan to ever again I'd the Australian residential address they were putting on the envelopes gave them some kind of clueAnd that's before we even get on to the letters' contents.
Some of these letters stated that payment was needed “to fund the schools and hospitals we all rely on”...
Oh yeah? That include people with no kids because they can't afford a family what with all the tax? That include people who've taken a good look at the NHS and decided that private medicine is for them? Because typically those people have to keep paying the tax for those services they're not going to use. What comes around, goes around. Shove the emotional blackmail somewhere dark and at body temperature, and just be bloody honest: governments treat citizens as cash cows and always have, and not only did the last government overspend massively even by the usual standards of government profligacy but the current wasters can't or won't stop doing it either. Just put that on the fucking demands that you send out to people who don't owe you money - at the least there'll be some who appreciate the honesty.
A spokesman for HMRC, which has been plagued with problems in recent years, said that it had been sending letters to people who owed tax “since the Napoleonic wars”.
Even more inappropriate. Aren't they all dead? Actually it's a shame that HMRC isn't chasing the taxpayers of the early 19th Century - at least those people would find the letters less upsetting and easier to ignore.
The recent problems surrounding PAYE, which resulted in over six million people either being owed tax or owing extra, “have done significant damage to the public perception of HMRC and the tax system more generally”, while the response to telephone calls has been “patchy at best and unacceptable at worst”.
Again, no surprise to me. For about half the years I was on someone's payroll some part of my PAYE was wrong, invariably meaning I was overpaying, and rather than correct it instantly and send me a cheque for the overpayment the bastards always left it to be corrected with a revised code. I'm shocked but not altogether surprised that they're still stuffing it up, and six million people has to be what? A fifth of the workforce? If it wasn't so disgraceful you'd laugh, and they don't have a lot of comfort to offer.
A spokesman for HMRC said the organisation was doing what it could to make things better. “We know we have a lot more to do to improve our services to customers.”
Customers? I think the word you're really looking for is 'victims', and I'm not just playing the taxation-is-theft record here (though it is). British taxpayers seem to be victims of serial and persistent fuckuperation on the part of HMRC.
"But HMRC is in a much stronger position now than in 2010 and plans to go further."
And if you're a UK taxpayer that sentence should chill your soul.

By a man's works shall you know him

Years ago I had a good chuckle when I read that Al Gore, the Al Gore who was talking about a 6 metre sea level rise because of warble gloaming, bought a condo only a few hundred metres from San Francisco bay. There, I said to myself, goes a man who has either forgotten the doom he's predicted, has a lot of confidence (arguably misplaced) in it being averted, or didn't really believe what he was saying in the first place. Which of those depends on whether you think he's mad, stupid or over-egging the warble gloaming pudding in an effort to getting everyone on board and taking the action I'm sure he sincerely believes is necessary. Catastrophists would no doubt disagree, perhaps pointing out that the Goreacle's condo is on ground more than 6m above sea level, but it doesn't change the fact that that kind of rise will cause a lot of disruption nearby and buying property there wouldn't be a smart move if you really think it's going to happen.

However, if Andrew Bolt in the Herald Sun is correct then Gore has been outdone in a big way by Australia's Professor Tim Flannery.
Flannery in 2006 warned we could be on the brink of causing the seas to rise by 25m if we did not slash our emissions.
"Picture an eight-storey building by a beach, then imagine waves lapping its roof," he said dramatically.
"So anyone with a coastal view from their bedroom window or kitchen window is likely to lose their house as a result of that change."
So how terrifying it must be for Flannery as he gets his breakfast each morning to look up and see the estuarine waters of the Hawkesbury, just 5m from his waterfront home on Coba Point.
Why hasn't he sold up and moved to higher ground? Is it because even he doesn't believe his absurd scare?
Good question, though again Coba Point isn't all in the danger zone and rises to over 100m according to Google Earth. Unfortunately all of the visible houses, and presumably Tim Flannery's is one of them, are practically on the beach, and beaches tend to be rather close to sea level.

Perhaps Tim's planning on pulling it uphill when the waters get too close.

Princess Diana had to die...

... because she knew the Truth: that Prince Philip had advanced knowledge of the planned destruction of the World Trade Centre on 9/12 way back in 1997 having learned from Tony Blair that New Labour would have bad news that they'd need Jo Moore to bury in the first half of September 2001*, and so she had to be silenced for good. The plan was nearly ruined anyway when a bunch of colossal fucknuts flew some planes into the buildings before the planes that were supposed to fly into the buildings the very next day, but luckily everybody that Diana had ever spoken to about it were on those flights.



Well, it's better than accepting that sometimes shit just happens. Next week I'll be explaining why Oliver Stone and Kevin Costner's parents had President Kennedy killed so there'd be millions to be made from a movie thirty years later, and also creating an opportunity to have Gary Oldman killed for being a much better actor than Costner and replaced by an impostor from the same organisation that's been supplying the fake Paul McCartney all these years. That last bit would have given the game away apart from the fact the Gary Oldman impostor they got was also a better actor than Kevin Costner.

Clever bastards, they think of everything.


* Also in March. And August. And January to late Feb. And around Christmas. And a couple of months either side of June. And in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002 ..... actually most of the time Blair was in power. Christ knows what they needed to bury under the huge distraction of Gordon Brown taking over but I'd guess the Earth was destroyed by a comet and we're still reeling from the shock of Gordon fucking Brown as PM to have noticed.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Somehow it's appropriate

I'm not sure what the thinking behind the design of the 2012 Olympic medals really was, but I found it instantly reminiscent of an iconic piece of contemporary British culture: the scratched tag train window.



On top of which the fact that the design is also too big to fit in the pockets of Team GB's uniforms just speaks fucking volumes, doesn't it?
The medals are so thick, the uniform designers of Team GB have had to make some last minute changes.
The pockets of the athletes' formal suits have been adjusted to accommodate the medals' 85mm diameter, 375 -400 gram weight and 7mm thick.
'Kinell!

A message for Mac users

Safari 5.1 is shithouse and Steve Jobs needs to do something about the Cupertino circle jerk that perpetuates the myth that every idea Apple shits out is automatically wonderful because it's Apple. Although it's got a couple of nice new features such as the reading list they still haven't got true tab duplication - i.e with histories, the way Opera has done for fucking ten years or more - some of my extensions don't work, one critical one work properly because 5.1 incorporates so many changes that the poor buggers that wrote are saying they've had to rewrite almost from scratch. It's also become very sluggish with more than a few tabs open, prone to beach balling, very temperamental if even one tab has any video content - which is half the content on any news site these days - and worst of all the fucking thing has fallen over on me so many times this morning I'm half tempted to check to see I didn't install a beta by mistake. This is Internet Explorer territory. If you haven't downloaded it already think carefully before you do - check every extension and plug in for compatibility, and make sure you've got a backup in case for when the problems outweigh the benefit of the new features. At the current rate of annoying things happening I'll have given up on it and gone back to 5.0 by lunchtime, and it's now a quarter past eleven.

This has been an anti-Apple rant/public service announcement. Never forget that all big companies, even ones that make some nice products, can be a shower of cunts from time to time.


UPDATE - And just under an hour later I've lost my patience entirely and gone back to the last version of 5.0.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Life is a lottery...

... and it sometimes seems as if more and more people are seeing misfortune, even if largely self inflicted, as a winning ticket. In today's news from opposite sides of the world we have a British policewoman who was too sick to work but was able to go on Total Wipeout suing the police force, and an Australian federal government employee demanding compensation from her employers because while working away from home, and engaging in what sounds like some fairly energetic sex in a motel room, a light fell on her head. And I have questions about that.

First, the copper.
Colleagues of PC Lesley Hart, 51, complained to their bosses after seeing her take part in the high energy game show hosted by Richard Hammond.
She was flown to Argentina to take part in the programme while she was on long term sick leave from the Devon and Cornwall police where she worked on domestic violence cases.
Now she has launched legal action against the force claiming she was not offered the support she needed to return to work.
[...]
She had been moved to the domestic violence unit after returning from another lengthy sick leave for a shoulder injury - apparently caused by wearing heavy body armour.
At the time she flew to Argentina to record Total Wipeout she was off work suffering from stress which she attributed to the emotionally demanding nature of her work, excessive caseload, and lack of support from senior officers.
[...]
The trip was not authorised by senior officers but an internal investigation cleared her of any misconduct and no disciplinary action was taken.
Her medical retirement occurred a few weeks later.
[...]
She has now launched a legal claim against the force which will be heard either in an employment tribunal or in the High Court.
It is understood to allege that the police did not do enough to support her in her job before she became ill and that it did not offer her the help she needed to continue working.
Now all of that may well be true, I have no idea either way, but assuming it is I have to ask why it's anyone else's problem? Did the police force have any kind of duty to do that? Might have been wise for them to anyway since they had time and money invested in her training and experience, although when someone on long term sick leave goes on a physically demanding TV game show without even mentioning it to colleagues I suppose the value of that investment might be reassessed. But should employers be under any kind of obligation to bend over backwards for someone who for whatever reason can't actually do the work anymore? I'm sure it was a stressful and emotionally job, and it's one I wouldn't do for quids, but you know what? A lot of people just go and find another line of work when they're not happy in their job anymore.

But while I don't know either way about Lesley Hart's situation, although I doubt it would have occurred to me to take legal action, my mind's more made up on that of the unnamed government worker here in Oz because for the life of me I can't see what it had to do with her employers.
The woman's claim is based on the fact that she suffered the injuries "during the course of her employment", because she was required to travel to the country town and to stay overnight to attend a budget review meeting early the next day.
Her barrister, Leo Grey, argued in the Federal Court today that she was "induced or encouraged" by her employer to spend the night at the hotel where the incident occurred, and was thus entitled to compensation under workers' compensation laws.
Well, if they induced or encouraged to spend the night at a hotel infamous for its falling light fittings I could see her point, but I'm pretty sure that it was just 'You're needed in this town for this purpose, and since it's a long way away you'll need to stay overnight.' I'm even more sure that her employer would not have induced or encouraged her to have sex so hard the lights fell down since that's generally not an occupational requirement in most work roles outside brothels.
The woman is appealing against a decision by Comcare, the federal government workplace safety body, upheld by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, which found that sex was not an "ordinary activity" during an overnight stay.
But Mr Grey said the fact that his client was having sex had little to do with the case.
"This case ... is as much about slipping in the shower, or being beaten by a gang of thugs or being shot by a jealous rival," he said.
And how would any of that have been the fault of her employer? Surely it would have been the fault of the gang or the rival or, for falling in the shower, the fault of Shit for making good on it's threat and Happening. As it was she fancied a nice shag and a light fell on her, and I couldn't work out why she was taking her department to court instead of the hotel whose light fell on her. I mean, was it poorly fitted or something to have been just shagged off the wall by a couple, er, coupling away on the bed below?

Not quite, though you need to watch the video on the link to find out why (my bold).
While she was there she had sex with a male acquaintance in a motel room paid for by her employer. While they were having sex one of them grabbed a glass light from the ceiling which fell and smashed into the woman's face.
Ah, and is that why she's not taking the hotel to court? Because it didn't just fall down but was grabbed by one of them during And was grabbing the light encouraged or induced by her employer? Forget the fact they paid for the room. If she had a dairy allergy and accidentally put milk in her tea while she was in there would that be the fault of her employers? Would they have induced or encouraged her to? Or would she simply have done something off her own back that had unpleasant consequences for her?
Today the woman's lawyer ... said his client's injuries occurred during the course of her employment.
I envy lawyers sometimes, I really really do. It must be a lot of fun being paid to say some of the things that they have to say for their clients as well as challenging to keep a straight face. Frankly I'm surprised they don't all play poker.

As far as what this particular lawyer has said and what I think of it, well, as I've already mentioned I think it's pretty unlikely she was sent there to have sex, let alone have the kind of movie sex that wrecks light fittings. I'm not a lawyer so I really don't know if that the law here still counts that as 'during the course of employment', but it seems harsh to blame them for her decision to have sex and for its consequences. If she'd got pregnant nobody would say it was during the course of her employment and that she should get child support from her department, would they?

Or maybe I'm being harsh because in the past I've had a job that involved early starts away from home and an unwanted hotel stay the previous night, and from personal experience I can tell you that when you've got two people having headboard thumping, spring squeaking, chandelier swinging movie sex in the room next door you'd be happy for the light to fall on them if it meant you could finally get the fucking sleep you drove all that way for.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Further thoughts on Anders Behring Breivik

NORWEGIAN mass killer Anders Behring Breivik claims he is part of a network of up to 80 ''solo martyr cells'' of people wanting to overthrow Western governments that tolerate Islam.
Firstly I'm willing to bet that this boast of dozens more just like him is a complete fantasy, so-called links to the English Defence League notwithstanding. They may share some common opinions, though I very much doubt that shooting unarmed innocents because they don't share your politics is one of them. So this network of solo martyr cells is probably at best some people he's met who he's convinced himself will do something similar once he'd got the ball rolling, and in all likelihood those people are all sitting aghast at the thought that they'd once been in a room with someone who'd become a mass murderer. In short these cells almost certainly don't exist outside of Breivik's own head, though you can expect that many police forces will be looking very hard to be sure and many politicians will be looking at this as an opportunity for a bit of a crackdown on the EDL and others who share any of Breivik's opinions. The worry there is that in 1,500 pages of writing, some of which has apparently been lifted from other sources (including the Unabomber, FFS - another complete fucknuts), there might be things he's said that I agree with (or not - I honestly don't know since I haven't read a single word), and I'm damn sure I'm not I'm not a cell. I've agreed with parts of Labour and Conservative manifestos and not voted for either because I disagreed with enough of both - a few thoughts in common does not a supporter make and more than agreeing with the sixth commandment makes one a Christian.

The other thought about Breivik (or is it Berhring Breivik? Anyone know?) is that with all this background about him coming out - mention of a privileged upbringing and being a mollycoddled mother's boy being just two that headline links that I didn't click - there's one missing and which I suspect will stay missing. We're not hearing anything from the ex-girlfriends, and I'm not holding my breath since a bloke who craves what might be called 'the tactical look' and likes to pose with a rifle with all sorts of torches and accessories and a bayonet attached probably didn't have one.

QOTD

Claiming that Whitehall mandarins are accountable, via ministers to Parliament, is a bit like claiming that the Press Complaints Commission properly oversees tabloid newspapers.
Douglas Carswell.

Monday, 25 July 2011

And in case we needed convincing that he's a nut...

Click for linky

A uniform? What the hell for? As far as anyone knows right now he's an army of one. Completely cuckoo.

"Never mind, Johann...

Click for linky

... you'll still have your reputation," said Hugo Chavez in a stage whisper, in front of all our admirers.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Amy Winehouse

Great voice, damn shame. The 'genuinely sad' tag is getting a lot of use the last couple of days.

It was always going to happen eventually - UPDATED

Obviously this may be premature since the investigation into the horrible events in Norway has only just begun, but reports are starting to come out describing Anders Behring Breivik, the arrested man, as a Christian fundamentalist.

There are a few caveats to mention before we go on. He's also been described as a nationalist and a right-winger and is said to hold anti-Muslim views. For all I know at this early stage all of them might be true or none of them at all. And of course they'll have barely begun questioning him, much less have charges ready1 and a trial is even further off. If he is charged1 and tried there is the possibility that he'll be acquitted, and for all we know he could be released tomorrow with an apology and an admission that they'd arrested the wrong man - it happens to every police force now and then, as we all know.

However, assuming for the moment - and this is the Exile assumption, meaning it is uncertain but let's just say, rather than the media assumption, meaning we're not allowed to actually say we think he's guilty but we do and we know you know we do - assuming for the moment that the right man was arrested, that he'll be tried and convicted, and that these reports that he is a Christian fundamentalist turn out to be accurate, then we will have had what I've long thought would probably happen one day: an act of Christian terrorism.*

And if so I have no doubt that Christians in general will be appalled. They'll say, quite rightly, that this man is in no real sense a Christian, that he's twisted his beliefs to fit his hatred and that he is, at least on some levels, quite insane. And they'll get no argument from me, but... it would still be a Christian terror attack, wouldn't it? But also quite wrong to treat all Christians as being latent Breiviks, and sadly for Christians there will be people who'll do just that.

The other day James Higham, occasional commenter here and one of the older kids at the Orphanage who makes sure the rest of us brush our teeth and so on, and also a Christian himself, said in response to my post on moderate Muslims speaking up:
... there are the Christian fundamentalists too I don't like the look in the eyes of.

It's the fanaticism which is the problem.
I think he's spot on. A fanatic is a fanatic is a fanatic - what flavour of fanatic doesn't really matter much if they're setting off bombs and spraying bullets into crowds.

Of course, and as I said at the top, this could all be completely irrelevant if these reports turn out to be wrong, like the very early ones saying some Islamic nutters were claiming responsibility, or they've got the wrong guy. In the meantime I'll repeat what I said earlier today, the one fact we can be sure of: this bloodshed was the work of a lunatic. I'll add only that being mad doesn't rule out being bad as well.

UPDATE - the same caveats apply to this as above, but I've seen mention in comments elsewhere that some stuff on the web supposedly written by Breivik refers to Atlas Shrugged and that there's a possible 'libertarian' (massive quote marks) aspect to his politics. Don't know if it's true, and the only references I found in the document linked to referred not to Atlas Shrugged but to a URL with 'atlasshrugged' in it it might be a misunderstanding, but as a libertarian the thought doesn't exactly give me a warm fuzzy any more than the religious link will Christians. Whatever else may be claimed to be a motive in the coming days the act was one of evil and insanity.


* Depending on their view of certain historical events some might say another act of Christian terrorism.

1 - Via the comments JuliaM informs me that the BBC are now reporting that Breivik has been charged with both the bombing and the shooting.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Aaaah, look, they're getting all grown up

For a blog that's supposed to be the semi-coherent rantings of an English expat upset at the goings on in the land of his birth I feel it's been a bit overly focused on Aussie affairs lately, and was determined to give it a rest for a bit. The trouble is that while the phone-not-hacking business seems to be dominating news in the UK, and is also being so well blogged elsewhere I haven't got much to add, there appears to be a wider variety of things going on here that have got sufficiently far up my nose to blog about. Money being wasted, carbon tax, some more money being wasted, different money being wasted elsewhere, politicians saying one thing and doing another, politicians talking complete bollocks, politicians talking bollocks whilst wasting money, politicians destroying the cattle industry - Christ, I've just realised I haven't even done that one, but fortunately the Real World Libertarian has covered that as well. Well, best intentions of mice and bloggers blahblahblah, because I'm going to do another one. No apologies though, because this is important - Australia's nannies have decided it's growing up enough to be allowed scary videogames.
SEXUALLY explicit and violent video and computer games banned in Australia could soon be sold here after all state and federal governments except New South Wales agreed to an R18+ rating for video games.
Now as I've mentioned before, the reason we don't already have one was that one state, South Australia, would not agree and that unanimity was required for change on this, so you'd be forgiven for thinking that nothing much has actually changed. NSW abstained rather than objected as SA had done in the past, although the new Attorney-General from NSW, Greg Smith, is reportedly a conservative (yeah, that Liberal kind of 'liberal' again) and argued against introducing an R18+ classification.
Mr Smith said he abstained from the vote because it needed to go to state cabinet first as the government was new - it was elected in March - and so he could consult the community.
Same same but different, you'd think, because that's really not far off the old situation - one strongly conservative view, quite possibly religiously influenced, held by a paternalist know-it-all in a position that lets him decide for the whole country rather than just his state (or better yet, his family) has apparently been exchanged for another. However, the federal government are not letting one state lay down the law for the whole country anymore. Kind of begs the question why they've been content to do so up to this point, but nevermind.
Brendan O'Connor says the Federal Government would over-ride NSW and implement the R18+ rating regardless of its decision.
And then there's that community Greg Smith mentioned, and that can be divided into three groups: the gamers, who overwhelmingly want to be able to buy adult oriented games since so many of them are adults; the non-gamers who mostly don't care or support the gamers; and the small but phenomenally noisy and, for their numbers, highly influential Christian lobby, who up 'til now have mostly opposed games that would be rated R18+ because of the violence and the risk of a T&A being included. Presumably the feeling is this sort of thing inevitably leads to hot women playing World of Warcraft in the nip and naked gaming parties, which in turn can only lead to sticky sheets, Kleenex shortages and babies, and this game-induced lust-fuelled sexmageddon will meet the game-induced bloodlust-fuelled murderpocalypse head on.


No, I don't know how they get there either, and that many of the kind of games they worry about are not only not banned but are sold to 15 year olds here in Australia because of rather than despite the lack of an RA18+ rating seems to have escaped them until now. On that point there seems to have been a waking up and smelling of coffee...
THE Australian Christian Lobby has overturned its opposition to a new R18+ category for adult computer games, saying a new in-principle deal would keep extreme games out of Australia.
... though it's not exactly a Damascene conversion.
“The draft R18+ guidelines as originally proposed would have matched the R18+ guidelines for films,” spokesman Rob Ward said.
“This was clearly never in the interests of the community, with the boundaries of the R18+ film guidelines slowly eroded to allow extreme violence, actual sex and simulated pedophilia in films.
“Although ACL awaits the final detail from the meeting, it appears that the existing ceiling for games has been maintained with a commitment to move the more extreme MA15+ games into a newly-created R18+ rating.”
So while the Christian lobby, or at least one of its most vocal parts, has worked out that the current situation is counter-productive they haven't gone quite as far as conceding that they don't speak for 'the community', just themselves, or that adults in Australia should be able to buy the same games that are available elsewhere without the game developer having to specially ruin it for the local market.

Still, the main thing is that the opposition to an R18+ category has pretty much dried up and I'd say it's almost certain that it'll be in place in time for Christmas orders. And I'd be prepared to bet that although the wording on the game classification guidelines may be slightly different to those for other media I'd be prepared to bet that the official censors - the people who've been employed to nanny us but have often allowed games aimed at adults to slip through as MA15+ - will allow into Oz unaltered games that they can't at the moment.

I'd prefer to see an end to the gaming nanny completely, and realistically with online sales growing - my last two games purchases were made via Steam and with the prices of games in the shops I'm likely to carry on buying that way - I don't see how they expect to stop someone downloading games that aren't for sale here anyway. Even if the internet filter plan hadn't stalled I'm sure serious gamers would be working out ways around it so they could download ZombieSplatterKill4 from the US or elsewhere.

So I have mixed feelings about it, but overall there are more positives than negatives. It didn't go as far as I'd hoped and certainly not as far as I'd like, but baby steps I suppose. Progress has been made and Nanny is going to let us play the scary and slightly naughty games now, which for a country with the biggest and most blatantly sited sex shops I've ever seen is probably about time.

View Larger Map -- Sexyland, just off the Tullamarine freeway about ten minutes from Melbourne international airport

For those who are interested there's a good potted history of the road to an adult games rating on The Age's Screen Play blog.

Oslo and Utøya Island

It goes without saying that Norway has my deepest sympathies for what's going on there at the moment. It should also go without saying that whatever the motivations and politics of the person (or people if it's more than just the guy they've arrested) responsible these are the actions of lunatics, and that whenever one bunch of fucknuts does something like this other fucknuts will try to claim the 'credit' for it while others assume it's yet another bunch of fucknuts, which is more or less what's happened. I'll leave the speculation out and stick just to what's known - 80 or more are dead and inevitably many more are injured, and my thoughts are with the Norwegians.

Warble gloaming will cut your feet off

The mind just boggles sometimes, it really does. The Real World Libertarian notes the latest warble gloaming related insanity has resulted in some very strange construction regulations in a Victorian town.
Port Albert, on the southern coast of Victoria has to go even further to meet the challenge. There is a fascinating story from a couple of days ago about how, owing to two sets of regulations, they have to lower their height.
That’s right, residents of the town have to get shorter.
Because of the requirement that sea level rises have to be planned for, new housing has to be built on stumps 1.5m above ground level, despite the fact that the town's original colonial buildings have survived on ground level since the 19th century. Normally, this would not present that much of a problem, other than for the infirm who would now have to climb steps.
Unfortunately, heritage rules prevent rooflines being built higher than the roof of the pub, which may be Victoria's oldest continuously licensed hotel.
Once heritage listings come into effect, its damn near impossible to get rid of them. You see where this is going, …
Yep. The difference is near as dammit five feet, so either lower ceilings for two storey buildings or single storeys which either have pointlessly high ceilings or aren't built up as high as they could be. And this just as research has emerged which found that sea level rise is decelerating and has been the whole time the world has been soiling its pants over Goracle predictions of 6m sea level rise (presumably not calculated from his condo a few hundred metres from San Francisco Bay).

And on that topic I'm adding another warble gloaming date to the list, courtesy of a commenter called Roy UK over at Watts Up With That a few days ago in response to a post asking for some help.
I’m looking for pronouncements in press and blogs from prominent players and scientists in the AGW issue where they’ve said “We’ll have an ice free Arctic by the year xxxx”.
Very much like my occasional 'warble gloaming dates for your diary', and Roy UK found a corker from 2007 (my bold).
Louis Fortier, scientific director of ArcticNet, a Canadian research network, said the sea ice is melting faster than predicted by models created by international teams of scientists, such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
[...]
"The frightening models we didn't even dare to talk about before are now proving to be true," Fortier told CanWest News Service, referring to computer models that take into account the thinning of the sea ice and the warming from the albedo effect - the Earth is absorbing more energy as the sea ice melts.
According to these models, there will be no sea ice left in the summer in the Arctic Ocean somewhere between 2010 and 2015.
"And it's probably going to happen even faster than that,"
said Fortier, who leads an international team of researchers in the Arctic looking for clues to climate change.
So we're a third of the way into that six year time frame and it has not yet occurred, not forgetting that Fortier said that it would probably be even sooner than that. Given that the article comes from 2007 I'm not sure how much sooner Fortier was expecting since there were only two years to go before the earlier end of his no-ice time frame but if he was serious then we're probably about halfway through the period in which he predicted the Arctic Ocean would become ice free. Being harsh this looks like it's already a fail, and even being charitable and treating it as a prediction to occur by 2015 it's looking decidedly shaky.

So the revised list now looks like this:

Still, we're getting a carbon tax anyway for all the good it'll do.* Reality generally trumps modelling but when it comes to political decisions it's the other way around.


* My prediction is none at all, or at least nothing that can be measured.

In Soviet Russia, beer drinks you


Actually it's probably more accurate to say that in Soviet Russia beer now drinks you, but it used to eat you because up 'til now they've been classing it as food to avoid regulating it, but sadly this shining example of sticking a rather wobbly middle finger up to the healthist nannies has fallen by the wayside.
Under legislation signed by President Dmitry Medvedev, all drinks with alcoholic content higher than 0.5 percent are now classified as alcoholic and subject to sales restrictions.
Before, anything containing less than 10 percent alcohol was treated as a foodstuff and exempt from rules applied to strong drinks.
And why the change?
The reform seeks to end the familiar sight of Russians drinking beer on their way to work in the mornings. The law bans drinking in public from next January, although similar rules on spirits have long been ignored.
Why can't they just sack the pissed ones? Sure, the poor sods won't be able to afford to buy beer and won't have any work to be on their way to while drinking it, but that's kind of the point. And even if they do start to enforce the public drinking laws it doesn't strike me as all that difficult to get around the same way people in the west sneak grog into events, though that does mean them drinking spirits rather than beer, and mixed in with something soft to disguise it. Vodka seems to be the old favourite, which is a happy coincidence for the Russians though perhaps not for the Kremlin.
The Kremlin hopes the measures will reduce ruinous levels of alcoholism in Russia, where consumption is double the critical level established by the World Health Organisation.
Of course they're also restricting the ability to buy alcohol by fiddling with permitted open hours, and if the WHO are jerking chains I suppose we shouldn't be surprised if increased duties and minimum pricing get mentioned next. And of course once you've got that lot all organised nobody can ever touch a drop again without prior approval, right? Oh.
Vodka may be distilled from any starch/sugar-rich plant matter; most vodka today is produced from grains such as sorghum, corn, rye or wheat. Among grain vodkas, rye and wheat vodkas are generally considered superior. Some vodkas are made from potatoes, molasses, soybeans, grapes, rice, sugar beets and sometimes even byproducts of oil refining or wood pulp processing.
Okay, so you can make the stuff out of nearly anything, and since they've been doing it for several hundred years it doesn't sound like it's rocket science either. Maybe Russians will become clean living and forgo the boozy breakfasts, and maybe they'll switch to some home made instant blindness in a jam jar that you could use to launch a Soyuz as an alternative to drinking the stuff.

Oh well, as long as it's not beer, eh? Na zdorovia, fellas.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Smug mode

Smug mode activated
It seems like just the other day when I had a nice, satisfying rant about governments' poor talent for picking winners and how they often end up just spunking away eye-watering sums of money - and not their own money - on activities that shouldn't be a government function in the first place. Oh, silly me, it was just the other day, wasn't it? On that occasion I was having a go at the idea that governments are any good at promoting tourism, and also wondering whether they should be doing it even if they are any good, I also mentioned that perennial theme of mine: governments attempting to be sports promoters. And just two days later an article in The Age proves my point.
An independent economic impact report has found that overall, the 2011 Grand Prix increased Victoria's gross state product by between $32 million and $39 million.
Which would be wonderful except for two things. First is my broken record refrain of 'It's not their bloody money'. As I've said more than once, including in that last rant on the subject, if the government took the huge pile of taxpayers' money down to the casino and came back with a few million more than it went with there'd still be hell to pay despite because that's not what paying taxes is for. And nor is being a fucking sports promoter. Even if you take the statist line and say taxes are necessary to provide 'essential' services the widest definition of 'essential' doesn't include motor races, Olympics, tennis tournaments and paying money to randy golf stars to stop shagging for long enough to play some bloody golf. Even if you take the socialist line and believe taxes are also necessary to redistribute wealth I'm pretty certain the idea isn't to redistribute it into the pockets of billionaires. Doesn't matter how much money it makes, pretty much any way you look at it it's not something the government should be taxing people in order to do. It simply isn't.

Oh, and the second thing that makes the ≈$35 million boost the Grand Prix gave the state's economy less than wonderful? As the article points out, it costs the government more than $50 million, meaning that even by the most generous estimates of the benefits it ended up costing the state more than $11 million, and with more pessimistic figures perhaps over $18 million.

/facepalm

Actually for me personally there's a third less than wonderful thing, and that is the possible health effects from my blood pressure spiking when I read quotes from pollies defending this kind of thing.
Tourism and Major Events Minister Louise Asher said despite what is an overall loss to the state, there are other benefits from the event which need to be taken into account.
Yes, Louise Asher again, the very same Louise Asher who was attempting to justify spending vast sums on having Oprah Winfrey over in a failed bid to boost tourism. Now I kind of understood her attempting to defend that cock-up since both the previous Labor government under John Brumby and the current Coalition government under Liberal Ted Baillieu, Lou's boss, had a hand in it. But the Grand Prix? Aside from the fact that it was a Liberal Premier who poached the event from Adelaide in the first place that's something that can be laid at the door of Labor party since, as I blogged back in January, they had the last opportunity to get rid of the Grand Prix or preferably just to stop subsidising the damn thing only three years ago. Instead John Brumby signed a new contract to keep the race here until 2015, which was not only committed his own government to carry on subsidising it but, since the term of the contract is longer than the Victorian election cycle, also the Baillieu government too. And since Ted seemed less than happy about the cost of the race and being stuck with a contract he had nothing to do with you'd think that his ministers would be folding it into the pointiest point they can and poking Labor in the eyes with it. To be fair Ms Asher did have a small swipe at Labor for having locked the state into a lousy deal, but only a small one because she seemed a bit busy telling us all that losing the thick end of twenty million was actually A Good Thing and that in any case it'll be brilliant one day, you just wait.
Tourism and Major Events Minister Louise Asher said despite what is an overall loss to the state, there are other benefits from the event which need to be taken into account.
"You have to look at the whole year, at ongoing branding of Melbourne," Ms Asher told reporters today.
[...]
Ms Asher said new negotiations on the Grand Prix contract will begin in 2014 and she anticipates getting a better deal from Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone, to whom the licence fee is paid.
Is there any danger of getting a politician to consider whether we need to pay him anything at all? It takes place on state owned land, yes? Rather than the government paying him even a cent from petty cash, let alone for the millions from the taxpayer, for the privilege of having the Grand Prix shouldn't Bernie Ecclestone be paying the state for the privilege of holding it in a public park near the city centre?

I'd hoped after Baillieu's remarks earlier this year there might be a move towards telling Bernie that if the British Grand Prix can be run without subsidies it would be expected that the Melbourne Grand Prix should as well, and that if that means the race is uneconomic to have here than it's fucking uneconomic. Ms Asher's talk of getting a better deal when the contract's renegotiated in a few years suggests that's a pretty faint hope.

'Kinell!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Wrong compo

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge received £200 ($323) compensation from British Airways (BA) after the airline's in-flight entertainment broke down on the couple's trip home from the US.
Lucky them. Some of the shit that I've flicked through on a long flight has made me think passengers should be compensated if the bloody thing works.

A very expensive night at the Oprah

It's a recurring theme among many libertarians and free market types that governments are pretty crap at picking winners, so bad in fact that it would be much better if things that required them even to try were not government functions in the first place. It's been a recurring theme with me that in particular governments should stop trying their hand (with our money) at events promotion, starting two years ago with a rant about Formula 1 which touched on the increasing cost to the Victorian taxpayer of the Melbourne Grand Prix and soon expanding to include the $1.5 million the state government paid the pre-shamed-by-affairs Tiger Woods to swing his stick around on a gold course* as well as the eye-watering sum spent on the London Olympics and good result for Britain and Australia in losing the bid to host the soccer World Cup.

And to that we can also add that it's not a government function to dream up gimmicks to promote tourism, especially if it involves giving five million dollars of taxpayers' money to an extremely wealthy American chat show host to come to Australia with her own audience and say nice things about the place.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Quote of the Day

Or possibly Tweet of the Week, on the subject of the comedian that nobody had heard of until the bellend pied Rupert Murdoch.
Last night, Mr May-Bowles's membership of the Labour Party was suspended and a woman claiming to be his girlfriend posted on Twitter: "Not funny. Not clever. Not your girlfriend."
Still, calling him a greedy billionaire like that... comic genius, eh?

Cunt.

Islamophobiaphobia

I'm not sure if that's the right word to describe a fear of Islamophobia and I'm not even sure that Islamophobiaphobia is a real thing, even allowing for some of the stuff on Comment is Free. But even if it's not a phobia I'm fairly sure that it's a bit of a worry for some Muslims that the actions of some of their co-believers have created where a nervous flyer who also happens to be a Muslim can't say 'Thank Allah we've landed' without everyone else on the plane simultaneously shitting themselves, not least because several of those actions have involved planes and the creation of a whole generation of nervous flyers of all creeds.

So on the whole I think it's probably a good thing for everybody when the sane, moderate Muslims, the kind that in fact are the only kind* I've ever dealt with professionally, come out and say something like this:
"Muslims can be whingers and they tend to blame everyone but themselves for the way people view them."
No, that's not a hypothetical wouldn't-it-be-nice-if-someone-stood-up-and-said-it, they're the words of man called Diaa Mohamed and you probably don't need too many guesses about what his religion is. Nor are they the words of some culturally Muslim secular type criticising a faith they don't really hold - apparently Diaa Mohamed professes to be a devout Muslim and is the co-founder of mypeace.com.au, a website he hopes will tell people of other faiths more about his.** He doesn't stop at saying that Muslims can be whingers either.
"A lot of Muslims point the finger at the media for giving them a bad reputation but it's nobody's fault but our own," ... Diaa Mohamed said. "Muslims haven't done the job when it comes to being out there and showing who they are and what their values are.
"A lot of the things we see on television are acts by extremists and radical Muslims.
"That is not who we are."
Good on the guy for speaking up. It reminds me of the Muslims who pitched up to an Islam4UK do back in 2009, but to protest against them (as well as take the piss out of them) rather than with them. Here's a reminder:

So in fact there are reasonable and moderate Muslims who are prepared to stand up and speak - that's the good news. Now here's the not so good. When I blogged it at the time the title of the post was "More Please", and I wrote that more Western Muslims rejecting violence and publicly embracing liberty, free speech and live and let live would improve their image and reduce Islamophobia more effectively than, well, anything. And yet nearly 2 years on and I can't recall seeing any other articles about British Muslims for Secular Democracy, the group behind that protest, and this is the first I'm writing of any other Muslims doing anything similar.

So where are the rest?

I very much doubt a billion and a half Muslims all read this blog and there's no reason why they should take any notice of me anyway, but I'd have thought that the same thing would have occurred to more of them. Not so much Joe Average Muslim, like the guys (and girls) I used to deal with in West London ten years or so ago who hardly anyone gave a second thought about until September 2001 because they just rocked up and did a 9 to 5 like everyone else apart from working through every lunch hour when it was Ramadan. I was thinking more along the lines of Muslims who can command some media time and encourage others to be more vocal.

So we have a group in Sydney, the BMSD and, er... the only other group I've ever come across is Minaret of Freedom, which came up when out of curiosity I put 'Muslim libertarians' into Google to see what it would find.*** I'm not likely ever to come to believe what they believe (in fact over at the Orphanage I've been explaining that I have a profound lack of belief for anything much) but to me they seem to be reasonable and sane people who are no scarier to me than Christians.

Most Christians

That Diaa Mohamed is in the news for saying Muslims have got to accept that they've not been helping their cause suggests that it's probably not the media's fault for ignoring them, though of course outrage sells papers so Muslims saying or doing something outrageous is a better story than Muslims singing the Coca-Cola song. But even the media are going to get bored with running the same kind of story over and over again and will go with something different just for novelty value. Moderate Muslims, those that can get on TV, can make something of this if they want. Perhaps they feel they shouldn't have to or don't have the time, but if they ever want Muslim communities - and sticking to communities mightn't be the best idea either - to get back to fairly normal terms with their adopted countries I'd say they want to give it a try. The alternative is to let the ones preaching death, destruction and violent proselytisation to continue to have it nearly all their own way.



* Always in work environments, where for some reason I've never met the other kind - maybe they're too busy photocopying leaflets or making placards for marches or something.
** I only had a quick look at the home page and a couple of random links but my first impressions is that Islam4UK it ain't. There was a link about becoming a Muslim, and let's be honest I'd be surprised if there wasn't - it's not like Christians, especially the evangelicals, don't proselytise - but other than that it all seemed pretty non-threatening.
*** Haven't really looked at that either so although their banner professes free market ideals I don't know if they are libertarian as such.

Monday, 18 July 2011

The mark of a good Julia Gillard impersonator...

... has to be sounding more like Julia Gillard than Julia Gillard does.



More on the spookily similar sounding Amanda Bishop in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Gissa job

One that pays handsomely for doing literally nothing at all would be lovely, especially if they have to bribe you a further ten thousand dollars to clear your desk and go do something productive, though I don't really want to move to New South Wales.
THE state has handed almost 150 bludging public servants a bonus of $10,000 each to quit and get a real job.

The $1.4 million worth of handouts are on top of their usual entitlements.
Good, eh? But even better when you can say no.
Astonishingly, a further 250 "unattached" public servants - some being paid $100,000 a year to do nothing - have knocked back Premier Barry O'Farrell's generous $10,000 payout offer.
Why would they? Ten grand's a decent lump sum but if they're getting that every six weeks or so and not having to do anything for it then a lot of people aren't going to take you up on it. That's not surprising, really. What is surprising, if not downright astonishing, is how long some of these people have been on a payroll and not been doing anything for it.
A TAFE worker, who has been pulling a wage for 16 years despite not actually having a job to do, and two RTA workers without a position for a decade are among the state employees refusing to take the handouts to quietly get off the state's books. Taxpayers are paying $16 million in wages each year to 390 public servants on the notorious "unattached list" - those who have had their positions axed but, incredibly, have held on to their jobs because the previous state government refused to order any forced redundancies.
I don't want to encourage stereotyping here, and anyone who reads my stuff a fair but will know that I'm not much of a fan of the Australian Liberals, but for completeness of information I'd like to point out that the previous government of New South Wales was a Labor government, and that it had been Labor from 1995 all the way up to the election four months ago. The guy who's been paid without having any work to do for 16 years could well have had his position eliminated in 1995 just after Labor took the state, and he stayed there through no less than four Labor governments and leaders. Make of that what you will.
Those who do not accept the cash incentive before the end of the week will be given three months to find a job or have severance payments cut.
And yet nearly 400 have said no. Make of that what you will. Even more interesting:
The longest time spent on the list by a staffer taking up the offer is 6.4 years.
Another seven departing public servants have been on the list for more than five years, while 35 have been displaced for two to five years.
The figures show 54 employees taking up the offer have been on the list for less than a year.
So the longer they've been getting money for nothing the less keen they seem to be on taking the ten grand. Gosh, another huge surprise.
A government source said many staff were still hoping to find a permanent role before choosing to accept the offer.
I'm sure they are, I really am. Let's face it, if the public service in New South Wales is anything like the UK's there are probably no shortage of jobs that pay pretty well and do actually exist but still produce roughly two fifths of fuck all. It's not as good as sitting around doing nothing on full salary but it's not a bad result all the same, and if you've spent 16 years without being asked to do any work it probably looks a hell of a lot better than heading into the private sector.

What's a real shame is that this kind of thing makes it tempting to tar all public servants with the same brush and treat them all as feckless and lazy. I do know a couple in the Victorian public service who work quite hard and are not bludgers, and I don't doubt that they're as appalled by this kind of thing as I am. However, governments waste money and rather than be seen as nasty bosses sacking workers they're as happy to waste it on needless staffing as they are anything else.

Lessons for a successful government #1

When the leader of the government is struggling to persuade sceptical taxpayers of the need for a policy, especially if they themselves had previously said they weren't going to do it, the best thing to do is spend those taxpayers' money on telling them again why you're going to do it anyway and denying that you ever said you weren't. You may repeat as necessary. In the event that the opposition suggests that this should be paid for from party funds the correct answer is 'Shuttup shuttup shuttup go way'.

Stony Stratford

Hope it went well, though a shame about the weather, and looking forward to reading the reports later today. Probably on the usual blogs since it's been a couple of weeks leading up to it and four and a half hours since 11am, and still the fucking MSM don't seem to have bothered reporting it.

Bastards!

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Stony Stratford Saturday

A brief post to wish those going with Dick Puddlecote to Stony Stratford today a very enjoyable and successful day proving that smokers and non-smokers can get on together just fine, and hopefully getting the chance to raise the point in front of the media that the ban-happy, nannying control freaks are already targeting drink and food that they disapprove of and that non-smokers who think they'll never be in the firing line should think hard about how sure they are about that. But keep your own cameras on - Cllr Bartlett sounds crazy enough to empty a load of ashtrays all over the streets the minute you all go just so he can blame it on you.

Climbdowns



















Yeah, but is Gordon?

Friday, 15 July 2011

Us too! Us too!!

In one of the more bizarre forms of international keeping-up-with-the-G7s it seems like it might become the in thing to have a pressing need to investigate and possibly re-regulate your media. So in America, despite there having been no suggestion that the NotW or anyone else not-hacked the phones of the victims in the ten years since the World Trade Centre attacks, the FBI is investigating to see if anyone from Murdoch's News Corp attempted to not-hack the phones of the victims of the World Trade Centre attacks.

Now, in the immediate aftermath there was a lot of confusion and some estimates of the number of dead were as high as ten thousand, more than five times what it turned out to be. Nobody knew who was missing, who was dead and who was lucky enough not to have been anywhere near the place after all, and in all that confusion and not really knowing it seems like use of the NotW style not-hacking voicemails would have been much trickier than the 7/7 bombings in London in 2005. I might be wrong but I can't help thinking that the identities of the dead in an incident that killed so many more people... well, where would you even start? Supposedly someone from the NotW tried to bribe a cop or an ex-cop for phone records, but that seems a little odd. If it happened in 2001 or maybe 02, which is when it would have been newsworthy, then how come it's only now that we're hearing about it? Time heals and despite this being a huge injury you have to think that had phone-not-hacking etc of the dead been going on, ignoring for the moment the practical difficulties of not knowing who's dead (and therefore not knowing the phone numbers either), the level of outrage would have been far greater then than it is now. So why make the allegation nearly ten years later and only after it turns out that it was done after a later terrorist incident, one with far fewer dead whose identities emerged much more quickly and, being in the city where the NotW is based, seems likely to have been a much easier proposition as far as getting those phone numbers goes.

On the other hand if this is supposed to have taken place more recently then you have to wonder about the sanity of the NotW still playing the same games when they'd already been caught once and were under the spotlight. You'd also have to wonder at how slow a news day it must have been to go on that kind of fishing expedition perhaps five or six years on and, if they were going to do the not-hack of voicemails again, whether there'd even be anything there after all that time. Obviously the idea is out there now and of course it needs to be looked into but if I was a betting man I'd put a few dollars on it being all smoke and no substance. Still, if a government with a constitutional obligation not to interfere with press freedom wanted to be able to move in that direction, even if only temporarily, then a nice bit of public outrage against the media generated by the judicious poking of a still unhealed wound could be just the ticket. Not saying that the US government is behind the claims or even that they have such an agenda, but the US government is a huge entity with many people working in it and many things it doesn't want to discuss - anyone believe that not one single person has thought 'Just a minute, this could work in our favour'? Anyone? Anyone at all? No... ? Yeah, me neither.

But the US are not alone in wanting to give their media a bit of a shoeing, and so inevitably there's to be an investigation down here in Australia as well.
THE Australian media faces a sweeping parliamentary investigation into its ownership, regulation and ethics after Julia Gillard yesterday left the door open to an inquiry into print and broadcast companies.

The Prime Minister indicated she would consider Greens leader Bob Brown's call for a wide-ranging Senate investigation into media practices in the wake of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal in Britain.
Translation: the bloody media have embarrassed us parliamentarians often enough and if we can't use this to bring the bastards to heel then I reckon we can at least get our pound of flesh, what do you say?

The thing is that Gingery Dullard, unlike the Yanks, may have rather more cause to investigate the Aussie media. And interestingly it's not the Murdoch owned mob but their competitors, the Graun friendly, lefty-loving, phone-hack hating Fairfax group, who have been accused of being up to no good.
THE editor-in-chief of The Age, Paul Ramadge, has refused to detail his personal involvement in the newspaper's unauthorised access of an ALP database now being examined by the Australian Federal Police.
And how did this happen?
The Age accessed the database from its own computer terminals using an unauthorised password provided by an undisclosed source.
"This story came through entirely appropriate journalistic methods," Ramadge said. "Entry to the ALP database came via a whistleblower who raised concerns about private information held on it.
"This whistleblower had authorised access to this material and we reported in the public interest."
[...]
The Age used material obtained from the database to inform a story run in the final week of the Victorian election campaign about Labor keeping a "secret" file on citizens. Several people whose details were accessed were contacted by the newspaper before publication. Others, such as Mr Faris, were contacted after publication and assured their information would not be stored or misused.
Okay, so they may have had good reason but it sounds like it's fair to ask the question. And even if they have good reason if they commit a crime in the process does it somehow un-crime it? I'm not sure a good reason would let me off something as trivial as a speeding offence - actually I'm pretty sure it wouldn't - so I can't help thinking that if a crime has been committed with good intentions it's probably still a crime and that there'd be a case to answer. If there is, and I stress 'if', then it's for the judge and jury to take any claims of good intentions into account. In the meantime they seem to be in a glass house and might be advised to drop the stones.
Barrister Peter Faris QC, one of a group of high-profile Victorians whose personal details were accessed through the database by The Age, described the newspaper's actions as "very close to corruption and criminal conduct."
"The Age has covered up this incident and it is a bit rich that they now lead the charge to criticise the Murdoch press in Australia," he writes in The Australian today.
The Age has denounced the phone hacking by News of the World reporters, which prompted News International, the British arm of Rupert Murdoch's global media interests, to close the paper. It has given front-page prominence to the story every day this week.
Quite. Motes and beams, fellas, motes and beams. This has been the Angry Exile bringing this information to both his readers (hi Mum).

Because it'll be little short of a fucking miracle if you see it in The Guardian.

What the hell is Obama talking about here?

Seriously, can someone who speaks American make sense of these remarks on the subject of America's worrying debt level and the possibility of the country losing it's top credit rating?
"...we might as well do it now – pull off the Band-Aid, eat our peas."
"They're in one week and they're out one week... You need to be here. I've been here. I've been doing Afghanistan and bin Laden and the Greek crisis. You stay here. Let's get it done."
The words are English and I can understand them just fine, but the some of the sentences have left me confused. Don't mistake this for snooty English criticism of how the Yanks use the language. They can use it any way they want or not at all as far as I'm concerned. If they want fanny to mean arse and bum to mean tramp and all those other little difference that's more than fine by me as I need only learn a little vocabulary rather than a whole language, and like lots of others I watch enough American TV that I'm pretty confident in my ability to get by. But this time, and admittedly it's not unprecedented when it comes to American presidents, I just don't know what the fuck he means.

And more damned lies

Toby Young, writing in The Telegraph (yes, I know I keep taking the piss out of it but some of the blog writers there are pretty good) dissects Gloomy McSnotmuncher's speech. It was good to see that a couple of MPs brought him up on the McBride-Whelan business and asked why the Browns were still pally with the Murdochs and with Rebekah Brooks two and three years after the story on their son ran, but there was another little oddity that I'd missed elsewhere.
If, as Brown claims, the Cabinet Secretary obstructed his efforts to order a judicial inquiry into the dastardly goings-on at News International, why did Sir Gus O’Donnell issue a denial immediately after the speech claiming that the decision not to launch an inquiry was Brown’s and Brown’s alone? Sir Gus is now seeking permission to publish the confidential advice to rebut the allegation.
Well, I can't see how the two sides of that story can both be true. I have no idea how much light it might shed on things but still, let's hope Sir Gus O'Donnell gets the okay to back up his version of events, or failing that publishes it anyway. There'll be a replacement for the NotW soon enough though if technically it's not supposed to be published they might not want it. Bit soon, really.

Gordon Brown's or Sir Gus O'Donnell's? Place your bets.

H/T to The Libertarian Alliance.

Lies, damned lies and ... no, that's it. Just lies and damned lies.

Via the Kitty Counters, the Prime Mentalist of Australia, Gingery Dullard, and the Treasurer, Wayne Swan.



Counting Cats has also put up a vid of the Prime Mentalist getting called out as a liar by a member of the public and coming across as a patronising tool in her responses. Unfortunately there's no subsequent Brownian reveal of the PM's thoughts over a forgotten wireless mic, but we can't have everything.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

How's that belt tightening working out for you, Sir Humphrey?

Bernard, dear boy, it's simply dreadful. I've just found out that as
Permanent Secretary for the Department of Administrative Affairs
I'm to get a performance bonus of nearly £20,000.

Twenty.. twenty thousand, Sir Humphrey?

Yes! All the Permanent Secretaries - Peter at the Department for
Communities and Local Government, Dame Helen at the Home
Office - all of us. We're all in the same boat.

But that's good isn't it? I mean twenty thousand... it's certainly
more than us Principal Private Secretaries are getting.

Oh, Bernard, do try to keep up. It's a performance bonus. Can't
you see the problem?

Ah, you mean someone might ask what the actual nature of the
performance was?

Yes! No doubt some revolting little hack from the press will
already be ringing round everyone in Whitehall he can think of,
trying to find out who got the most and what they did to earn it.

And, er, what did they do?

It doesn't matter, Bernard.

Well, twenty grand does seem a lot for not doing anything that
matt... oh, I see. Sorry.

Bernard, must I again explain to you how demanding the position
of Permanent Secretary is? Must I reiterate how much effort is
required to look after the Minister and ensure that he's fully briefed
and to look after the long term interests of the Department itself?

You mean, making sure the Minister doesn't put his foot in it.

No, making sure that feet are put in 'it' with sufficient regularity
for us to be needed to extricate them for him, but never to put them
so deeply into it that extrication becomes impossible.

Unless he's needed to resign?

Unless he's needed to resign, yes. So you do understand?

Yes, I think so. You get £180,000 for making sure the Minister
doesn't wreck the department, and you're getting an extra twenty
thousand because he hasn't?

Close enough. Bernard, but of course allowing it to be put like that
in the press would damage the Department and the Minister, and we
really don't need to be put to the trouble of housetraining a new one
so soon. Now, how can we prevent all that?

Couldn't we say that we can't reveal details of bonuses paid because
that transparency agenda thingy requires them to be kept secret? By
the time the confusion clears it'll all be forgotten.

No, unfortunately the Department for Business, Innovation and
Skills is using that one.

Well, it was innovative of them.

Be serious, Bernard.

Alright then, we could say that it was all agreed with the last
government and there are contracts and everything, so...

... So the new one can't tear up the contracts but isn't actually to
blame...

... Yes, and nor are we because it was all approved by the
government. Only not this one. And because the one that did
doesn't exist anymore it's sort of nobody's fault. It just happened
and now we're stuck with it, aren't we?

Hmmm...

Better than the one Business, Innovation and Skills are using, isn't it?

Bernard? Do you realise exactly what you're suggesting?

Sir Humphrey? Er... well, it is true isn't it.

Yes, but it could apply to all departments. The hacks would
get the same answer everywhere.

It could? They would? Oh. It could, couldn't it?

Yes, it could. Well done, Bernard. We shall have to see that
there's a small bonus for you.

Doesn't the Minister have to sign off on those?

Yes he does, Bernard. And?

YouTube's sense of humour failure

The Go The Fuck To Sleep book is probably pretty well known by now what with the press it got when it came out and especially with the Samuel L Jackson reading. So it's slightly surprising that when Noni Hazlehurst, who I'd never heard of but apparently was on the Aussie Play School for twenty years or so, put up a clip of herself reading the book Play School style, and which amused me enough to blog and embed it here, YouTube pulled it.

Noni, to her credit, has promptly put it back up again, and bloody right too since other versions of it were never taken down.
Former Playschool presenter Noni Hazlehurst says the decision to remove a recording of her reading mock children’s book Go The F--- to Sleep from YouTube was ‘‘laughable’’ and ‘‘absolutely ridiculous’’.
The video was pulled late last night only to be posted again about 5am today.
[...]Her video was removed, but others including those read by German arthouse film director Werner Herzog and American actor Samuel L. Jackson stayed online.
‘‘It’s ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous, and to leave all the others up there is even more ridiculous,’’ Hazlehurst said.
‘‘The hypocrisy just makes me laugh.’’
[...]
‘‘Anyone with a tenth of a brain would realise this is not meant for kids,’’ she said.
The trouble is, Noni, that some people who look at YouTube probably have less than a tenth of a brain.
A YouTube spokesman said no comment would be made about individual videos, but they could be removed because a user had flagged them as offensive or because the person who had posed (sic) the video was underage.
Since Noni Hazlehurst is in her fifties it sounds like the latter. I'm speculating here, but I reckon some softcock, and sadly it's probably an Aussie who saw her name and thought 'Oh, this will be sweet and harmless', got offended by it and complained to YouTube rather than take the more practical option of turning it (the fuck) off. Samuel L. Jackson's version? Well, he's an actor who says bad words in lots of his films so our mystery whinger(s) may never have come across his version. Werner Herzog? Arthouse film director? Hmmm, ditto I expect. But sweet Noni Hazlehurst who used to - she's not presented the show for a decade - sing songs down the TV at toddlers and make stories with teddy bears and dolls, that Noni Hazlehurst going all potty mouthed? Oh no, the childhood of some 30-somethings is irrevocably shattered. It can't be borne, so it must be banned.

And of course SupineTube caved in.

Fellas, it's aimed at adults. It's humour for adults who can laugh at the frustrations an adult may feel when trying to get a noisy baby to shut the fuck up and give them a little peace. And maybe, according to Noni Hazlehurst herself, a bit of a warning.
The book and her reading are a bit of fun, she says, ''but there's a serious underlying issue. People need to understand when they're talking about how nice it would be to have a baby that it's a huge undertaking.''
[...]
''Many of the kids I entertained are parents themselves now, and I think it's pointless saying, 'Make sure your child has a lovely environment to sleep in'. I think we have to speak in a language people understand.''
This subtle distinction is apparently lost on YouTube, who'd rather pull something not meant for a general audience because someone's had a whine about it, even though other versions remain on their site. It's a little tempting to go trawling through the place looking for any overtly religious damnation-to-sinners type videos and flag as offensive as many as I can just to see whether or not they pull any of those, but that'd be unfair to anyone who actually did get their video removed. Instead I think I might make and put up a video myself and then log in as someone else with some bullshit complaint about how it offends me, and then we'll see what they do.

In the meantime, here's Noni Hazlehurst hosted by EyeTube...



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