Saturday, 30 August 2008

Strategy And Tactics

Well, John McCain has made his strategic move - not only has he chosen a woman as his VP candidate but he's grabbed an evangelical Christian at that. The most significant aspect of his choice is obvious - it's a woman. A female choice is exciting, bold and clever - he can snare the obvious chunk of the self-declared Hillary supporters who have already said they're going to vote Republican in protest at the way Hillary has been treated by their party (not that her ill treatment was so much done by the party as by the 4th estate), these female supporters are probable single issue liberal feminists who will shoot themselves in the foot by supporting a new female, even if her Evangelical conservative values are far more dissimilar to most of their liberal values. Should McCain/Palin win it would not be long before these voters regret their spiteful folly. But the Evangelical choice has a significant secondary benefit - it reassures the faith-nuts who were having grave doubts that there was going to be any serious contender who grovels before their Vengeful God(TM). It pains me that the Leader Of The Free World(also TM) has to play the religion game. Why does western leadership pander to the religious right? I so wish that the churches would just admit they had a good run and quietly go away. There are more important issues at stake than traditional family values (whose family, mate? Whose family are you talking about? Mine - split parents, two houses, additional adult member, pretty decent kids? The multitudes of my friends whose parents split because they knew everybody's lives would be easier if it happened?), abortion (a terrible decision for any woman (and not too good for the man who's involved) to have to make but one that prevents a lot more problems than it causes) and the right to ignore the most basics of Science (evolution is provable - God is not). The environment, quality of life for the many and not the few and the management of the squabbling hundreds of countries and thousands of ethnic groups who just seem determined to cause havoc throughout the planet. Well, both McCain and Obama are aware that there's a world out there - and in order to be who they can be they need to be President and the first step towards that is getting elected. McCain's transparent grab for votes with his choice - get the women, get the Christians, get the excitement back in my campaign - may pull off a victory but I hope it doesn't. Barring a catastrophe - whatever happens, come November there will be either a woman or a black man in the White House - women won't take the big seat just yet - but which Vice President hasn't entertained the certainty that they'll be following their boss's footsteps when his term is up. And Palin wouldn't have to wait long - McCain's getting on in years and 1 term might be all he's got in him - but should she find herself contesting the presidency itself she'd be fighting Hillary, the most formidable female politician since Maggie Thatcher. But the other alternative is of a future just as bright - a man, who a hundred years prior, would have been a slave - fifty years prior wouldn't have been able to vote, is of a race that symbolised the plight of and galvanised the fight of minorities everywhere - and is now the leader of not only those minorities but the majorities and that is a hopeful thing indeed.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Ho, ho, yes, Miniman, go!

Awesome, but he'll always be Legoman to me ...

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Economist's No 1 City (Not Vancouver)

Oh Gods, was it something evil like salmonella hidden in a McDonalds Cheeseburger or Campylobacter jejuni in the foreskin of a Chorizo at a swanky Melbournian tapas bar?  I don't know but it caused havoc at the tail end of a trip down Melbourne way.  It's been a while since I've had to endure the dehydrating effects of gastroenteritis (that horrible gagging which strains every muscle in the body but has the benefit of totalling ripping your abs) but at least it happened on the Sunday and not on the Thursday.  It's also particularly unpleasant to hit with a hangover as you can't even keep an aspirin down to quell the headache (although it does purge your body of most of the undigested wine).  An interesting sojourne to the slightly less good capital of Australia - great accommodation (abused from a local union chapter!), great transport (from both public options as well as infrastructure for the preferred two-wheel option - always a good idea to take a bike when you're visiting a foreign city) and great entertainment - the Writing Festival of the UNESCO's latest City of Literature (interesting to note that if you want to get your city named a city of literature all it takes is hiring the guy who got the last city of literature named - he's incorrigible - he'd get Broken Hill named the City of Lit if you posted him there for a month).  Saw a fairly decent showing of shows - some of books that I knew (Chris Master's Jonestown was a very interesting chat and is a very interesting book, which is written by a very interesting and very gentlemanly man), some that I didn't (Shakedown (about East Timor) and something about press freedom's in China - did get drunk with the authors so I think I'm pretty much obliged to read these now) and one that I really have a half cocked view of - Germaine Greer is one of the most fascinating Australians ever - she writes pretty interesting articles that I always half-agree with and she was pretty much the figurehead of a feminism for decades before she (or the movement, depending on who you ask) went mad. 
Seeing the fambly, eating Crocodile, driving in a FIAT 500 and getting a jacket (which I barely needed) rounded out a weekend.  Leaving the confidentials aside may have been inopportune but it was definitely worth it.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

BBC NEWS | World | Asia-Pacific | Food for fuel: Olympian Phelps' unusual diet

That sounds like a fine diet to me ...  If only I could get some f**kin' grits in this country!!!!

Pillow Fight, Anyone?

A pillow fight in Belmore Park?  A guerrilla protest against anti-gathering laws, delightfully whimsical or perhaps just a kind of wanky way to spend the afternoon?  Well, 2,000 people didn't show up although it was a fair turnout for a facebook organised flash mob – upon arrival I found myself inching away in order to disassociate myself from the type of people who would actually go to an event like this – I've done my share of flash mobs before and they're kind of amusing to a point although I felt a fair amount of cultural cringe from the uni students and social networkers (who should keep their networking online) who were in attendance – not the least of whom was the organiser, a young individual who I've had more historical contact with than I would have liked.  Why do I always seem to know multi-talent-show types (convinced they can do anything yet are always the ones who are used as the laughable rejects on reality-TV).  Still, once it started I thought it would have been kind of pointless not to participate – my height gave me an advantage in that I could avoid getting whacked in the head for the most part yet still have the reach to get the heads of others – pretty exhausting after a while.  Won't be doing it again.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Ride for Life 2008

First time for everything - the riding is not nearly as hard as I thought it would be but the strategy is surprisingly important - who'd have thought I would have been so locked in until the end.  A bit sketchy with wobbling bikes and bumping wheels at speed but nobody crashed this time.  It may have helped to realise that the bell meant I was coming in for the last lap.  Next time I'm sure I won't make the same mistakes again ... let's hope anyway.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Please, please, please let him be real ...

Ever since year 5 when I hid myself in the geeky 'Mysteries' corner of the junior library I've been hoping that the big man with the big feet could be real.  I even almost read 'The Spy Who Came In From The Cold' because somehow I made a cerebral link that suggested it could have been about his abominable cousin.  But, now, it appears that someone's caught him ... he might be dead but there are claims that there are more.  If I was a betting man I'd put money on this being a hoax (that way I'd be happy with the result, either way - it worked in the last election) and it probably is but one can hope. 
I'm not the only one who's curious - this story is topping search lists all over the world - if it is real it would have to be one of the most important biological discoveries in the history of science - proof of evolution (as if we needed more), the cryptid who's managed to hide under the radar for so long despite thousands of hours of searching - hoo hoo!  Bring on the press conference, boys!  Bring it on!

Question of the day ...

When somebody offers you a lift would you expect them to drop you off at your house or their house?  Perhaps I have strange expectations.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

A swarthy rascal!

What a swarthy rogue and ne'er do well and generally rascally roustabout!  Not only did he steal millions with his skillful plying of dark trades but he came to America with dreams of martial arts glory!  He's already selling his story to the cops and it won't be long before it's Hollywood, methinks!

Climate Change Quick Fix?

"If the planet came to depend on chemicals in space or orbiting mirrors or regular oceanic infusions of iron, system failure could mean catastrophic - and immediate - climate change.  But maintaining the systems requires a political establishment with guaranteed indefinite stability."
Francis S Collins, Former Head of Human Genome Project

Next time some sci-fi reading kook starts babbling about putting mirrors into space or dumping iron filings in the ocean to generate CO2 eating algae as an alternative to massively cutting consumption and use of global warming crud you should kick 'em in the balls (or relevant anatomical part).  Does anyone honestly think that any human made system could be indefinite?

Maybe you need to be a Russian to truly appreciate this ...

A child asks his father ... "Daddy, who was Brezhnev?"
The reply: "Oh, he was a minor politician in the time of Solzhenitsyn."

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

How Embarrassing

Oh God, to be caught out by a slightly modern version of one of the oldest scams in the relatively recent history of telephony.  I DO deserve to be punished for this.

Monday, 11 August 2008


What say you?  Well, apparently brakeless fixies don't go down very well amongst a certain demographic - despite announcing my presence and staying well the hell away from anyone who might be perturbed by this beautiful piece of machinery it didn't stop one man (who is usually one of the nature's gentlemen according to another) from shouting out 'Stay the f**k away from me with that bike!' followed by 'Come back when you've got a front brake!' followed by other mutterings against the purity of the velocipede.  Well, suppose somebody can't be blamed for having their beliefs about safety - perhaps it was because my front wheel went beyond his (despite a fair few metres to the side) but still, there's never any need for that kind of aggression, I think.  Well, I won't bring it again, sheesh ...

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Supermarkets 'not competitive enough' - Breaking News - National - Breaking News

Don't let the headline fool you ... this is a story that is very close to my heart.  The consumer watchdog (whatever that means) has stated that supermarkets must implement unit pricing (by this, I'm presuming that for every item not only will you get the price but the price per 100 grams) so you can see how much something is at a glance.  It's all well and good to compare prices but when the same product is 200 grams in a small jar and a 165 grams in a large one you're screwed unless you happen to be carrying a calculator in your hip pocket (as I do) or a good at mental rithmatic (which I am) ... still, strike 1 for the little (if somewhat stupid) guy ... This was one of the few things I truly loved about the overpriced Tesco's in Dublin (apart from the potato farls) ...

Monday, 4 August 2008

Etiquette In The Modern Era
I don't agree with everything in these lists (it is okay to take food from somebody's place but only if permission is sought ... the same goes for PUTTING something on somebody's plate) something but it's high time that etiquette is finding its place in the cultural discourse.  Now, more than ever, an SMS code of conduct needs to be published.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

A Beautiful Fraud

Say what you will about the guys who put up  There are stories out there denouncing this as a fradulent website that should be shut down.  Well, it may be early days and it is possible that it is a legit website (although probably not).  If it's fake ... and lots of people have been duped out of thousands of dollars, well, a crime has been committed and you've got to go after the bad guys.  But if this is fraud then it's spectacular fraud.  The website is clean, it's plausible, it's richly detailed and it's functional.  If an idiot gets scammed by some snopes-tested Nigerian email fraud then that person deserves what's coming to them.  Unsophisticated fraud will get unsophisticated and greedy victims who we don't really feel sorry for (unless it's us).  But this is so subtle - it's not necessarily going after greed (unless they're massively undercutting) nor is it a carbon copy of a bank website which will suck in anyone not paying attention (sophisticated, sure, but something we're always wary about) - it's the kind of site that we expect, the kind of URL that we expect but it's fake.  And people are expecting to shell out thousands for the tickets so even a brief run is all it takes to make millions (hundreds of millions).  It's bad, yes, but it's beautifully bad.

Music and dancing and lots of ...

Ah, the Sydney Showboat ... a romantic evening spent criss-crossing one of the world's most beautiful harbours whilst being entertained by top notch magic and cabaret.  I suppose it might be.  Perhaps if I spent my formative years watching the Love Boat re-runs as opposed to the Albury drag shows I might have thought so.  Food was okay, I suppose (frittata should be avoided at all costs), and the magic show from the unwashed gentleman (so I heard, not smelt) who took centre stage was rather hum drum but the actual cabaret from the singing girl, dancing man and four Amazons (I LOVE shnoo-shnoo!!!) was so cheesy that I couldn't help but presume that they were emulating the drag queens and not vice-versa.  The boat was only half filled (it baffles me that they got as many as they did) with a mix of over cashed up internationals with a fair smattering of our western brethren and still nobody could answer the question.  Why?