Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Where The Streets Have No Name

...the successful conclusion of the British Army’s longest ever military operation.
-- Nick

Going Down?

A GROUP of vegans in New Zealand - vegansexuals - are shunning sex with meat-eaters because their bodies are made up of animal carcases.

"When you are vegan or vegetarian, you are very aware that when people eat a meaty diet, they are kind of a graveyard for animals," vegan Nichola Kriek said in the Christchurch daily The Press.

But it just leaves one question unanswered doesn't it?

-- Nora

Monday, July 30, 2007

TV's Snuff Porn

In the intro to the book of her 1990 documentary Bodywork, Australian Chris Pip recalled the words of social historian Michael Gorer* in 1955:

"Pornograph would appear to be a concomitant of prudery... whereas copulation has become more and more 'mentionable', particularly in Anglo-Saxon societies, death has become more and more 'unmentionable' as a natural process."
The emphasis (probably added by Pip) in this quote from Gorer's essay The Pornograph of Death highlights a disturbing development just over half a century later as television shows led by CBS' CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) break one of the final taboos of the small screen.

Gorer was writing of natural death, that which comes from old age or, distasteful as it may seem to many in the early 21st century, disease, which is, after all, a natural process.

Pip observed:

I was in my mid thirties. I had never seen a dead body in my life. In other cultures and in other times contact with a corpse would be commonplace at my age. Had I been born a century earlier I would no doubt have borne six children, half would have died before the age of five and I would have dressed, wrapped and buried those bodies myself on the family property. As it was I had never even seen the body of a close relative.
But what she had seen had also been observed by many others:

At the same time violent deaths reported in the media, and shown 'live' on television news, have become commonplace on an unprecedented scale. It is part of the fantasy offered to the populace.
Seventeen years later, the fantasy is a full-blown orgy, played out with realistic prosthetics and sophisticated computer generated imagery on prime-time TV.

When Gorer incisively noted the pornographic nature with which death had been imbued in mid-20th century culture, a person depicted as being shot on a TV show might be shown grasping their white-shirted chest and slumping to the ground with not a hint of blood.

Today, we are treated by CSI and other shows to multiple replays from multiple angles of not only the moment of death but also the bullet's eye view, the passage of the projectile as it pierces clothing, skin, bone, muscle, organs. Then into the mortuary and the lab where, in graphic detail, we see autopsies in detail, learn to recognise the techniques of the post mortem examination and soon nod knowingly at phrases like 'medium velocity blood spatter'.

I've been considering the removal of the last taboo - the showing of corpses, gratuitous rather than glimpsed - in TV dramas for some months. In many ways, it's less the lingering on the freshly-deceased on the sidewalk that disturbs me (although we're lingering longer than we did and that does disturb) than the obscene fascination with the charnel house work of the mortuary technician, the Y-incisions and the laid-bare internal organs.

Someone, somewhere, years ago noted it somewhat ironic that in pornographic movies it was necessary to deny the usual reality of the sex act by withdrawing at the moment of ejaculation to demonstrate that the act was real. No doubt someone with access to miniaturised technology or CGI has attempted to overcome this but the fact is, for the vast majority, sex loses its allure once the observation of it is more than skin deep.

However, the new pornography of death is all internal, all the time, the point of view cutting rapidly from the orgasmic agony of the object's face to slow-mo replays of blades and bullets penetrating.

It's an oft-used excuse for porn that watching the sex act is life-affirming, it's natural; so what is watching death with the same degree of avidity? It would be natural if we were to be intrigued by the passing of a person after a complete life - after all, when we are able however briefly to stop denying that death awaits us too, it is the death we hope for - but a fascination with unnatural death is, well, unnatural, not to mention obscene.

Snuff movies are, quite rightly, regarded as amongst the worse of perversions yet shows like CSI are virtual snuff movies that top the ratings.

What will be their impact in years to come?

-- Nick

*Michael Gorer or Geoffrey Gorer? The author is identified as the former in the book of Pip's documentary Bodywork - Confessions of the Funeral Trade but as Geoffrey Gorer in this UCLA sourced essay.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

A Coming Storm

Youth camps at which hundred of uniformed youths pledge alliegance to the president and are encouraged to procreate for the motherland?

Russia slides towards fascism:

The idea that Russia's anarchic, apathetic youth would ever be attracted into a disciplined mass movement in support of their president - what critics called a "Putinjugend", recalling the "Hitlerjugend" (German for "Hitler Youth") - seemed fanciful. How wrong we were.
Worth reading.

Good take-out quote for those who think fascism means life under John Howard:

When the American administration blundered into Vietnam, hundreds of thousands of people protested in the heart of Washington. When eight extraordinarily brave Soviet dissidents tried to demonstrate in Red Square against the invasion of Czechoslovakia, in 1968, they were instantly arrested and spent many years in labour camps.
-- Nick

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Hair Messed Up


Britney 'feared for kids' safety' during tousle
-- Nick

Two Old

It's long been thought that women TV newsreaders have a use-by date at which they're sacked because they're no longer young and pretty enough to appeal to the audience.

Late last year we had Tracey Spicer suing Network Ten after her sacking, with the Brisbane Courier-Mail claiming her legal action was 'not for money but for the many TV women who are sidelined when they get old or start a family, while male colleagues prosper'.

In the UK, the increasingly trouble-prone BBC copped a hiding for laying off Moira Stuart after 26 years in broadcasting. The Independent reported:

MPs, pressure groups and powerful broadcasting figures united in protest against her departure from the slot she occupied on the Sunday AM programme, alleging that the BBC was yet again guilty of shuffling an older woman off the screen.
Both Spicer and Stuart should consider themselves lucky they lasted as long as they did. At the Gold Coast Bulletin they pension females off for younger models when they hit their mid-20s.

'Reporters' Shannon Willoughby and Melanie Pilling wrote their last column as 'The Go Girls' on Thursday. Originally a trio until one Amy Harris left the newspaper, the remaining duo will be replaced from next week with 'three new girls'.

To be fair, a pair of young women in their mid-20s cannot be expected to sustain such a column forever. They're probably wanting to actually go home to sleep some nights these days.

For The Go Girls has been, for the past four and a half painful years, the 'adventures' of two or three junior tarts on the town, around and about the Gold Coast and, one suspects, occasionally face down in the gutter in Surfers Paradise.

Their columns have ranged from relatively benign juvenile bitching about everything that doesn't go their princess way to deliberate and viciously insulting attacks on country people; from infantile post-feminist peevishness about everything that's wrong with males to the blatant sexism of a two-page spread recommending how to trawl for hot guys at the annual IndyCar race, including suggesting wandering the halls of the major hotels in the hope of bumping into a driver wearing nothing but his bath robe (well, they do say Indy is a peak working period for prostitutes); and from a guide to 'safe partying' which was, in fact, a description of a drunken dusk til dawn debauch (in which dinner was there solely to soak up the pre-dinner booze and men were flirted with for drinks in 4am nightclubs) to an admission that images found on ones digital camera were sometimes the only way to remember what had happened the night before.

Perhaps the outgoing Go Girls can't be held too much to blame, however, being young and undeniably stupid.

A column such as The Go Girls can exist in a large, bureaucratic organisation such as a major publication only when it is enabled and driven from the top down, prompting one to ponder on many occasions what exactly motivates editorial 'leaders' - especially males in their 50s - to encourage teen and early 20s females to write highly descriptive essays about bra shopping and bar hopping.

If Willoughby and Pilling learned anything of value from the past four and a half years of prostituting their private lives to the prurient fantasies of old men, could they please now share it with the unfortunate children about to follow in their footsteps - that is, if what they have learned is perhaps to tell dirty old men where to go.

Sadly, however, one imagines their advice will be to 'party hard' and spin it for what it's worth, both in the newsroom and on the town where admiring readers shouted them plenty of drinks, according to Willoughby's closing words as a Go Girl.

Unfortunately, Pilling's closing comment unintentionally highlighted the tip of a downside as big as an iceberg:

"I'd like to thank... those who have taken the time to tell us they enjoyed... what we have written. It made the hate mail easier to deal with." (Emphasis added)
Nineteen or 20 years old is too young to be receiving hate mail, especially when the boorish behaviour and deliberately provocative public utterances that elicit it are not occurring entirely voluntarily but as the result of a 'professional' assignment.

That Willoughby, Pilling and Harris actually survived their stint physically unscathed leaves one fully convinced of the old saying that God looks after drunks and small children. Indeed, it is miraculous none of them were once assaulted by the enemies they so blithely made for the sake of a bitchy comment in 9 point Times New Roman or, hideously worse, raped while indulging in the seeming obligatory public binge drinking that was part of their role.

Still, not their problem now. New generation coming through.

And if any of you 'new girls' are glassed by some drunken grrl or wake up face down in your own vomit wondering where your underwear went, well... it'll only hurt a while and your boss will be so sympathetic.

In fact, he might help you spin the whole thing into a great first-person victim piece. Might even win a Walkley to keep you warm on the nights sleep won't come.

-- Nick

Journalists, Lawyer Confused

Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews tries to explain to the media how the law works, lest their confusion continue:

Mr Andrews said it was important to remember much less evidence was required to cancel a work visa than to make terrorism charges stick. "The test I have had to apply as Minister for Immigration pursuant to the Migration legislation is a different test," Mr Andrews said. "It goes to the formation of a reasonable suspicion of association with a person or persons engaged or having been engaged in criminal conduct."

Dr Haneef in his record of interview has already admitted his cousin is Sabeel Ahmed, who has been charged under the Terrorism Act in Britain in connection with the failed bomb plots. This raises the possibility that the cancellation of the visa might remain in place.
See, Journalists, com-pli-cat-ed.


Meanwhile, terror suspect Haneef's increasingly pugnacious lawyer admits he's similarly confused:

Dr Haneef's solicitor Peter Russo last night said his client should have had his visa restored immediately. "It's frustrating that the minister can't seem to be able to make a decision that everybody else in Australia has been able to come to," Mr Russo said. "It's just a bit confusing."
Russo is a partner in 'Australia's Largest Criminal Law Firm', Brisbane's Ryan and Bosscher Lawyers which absorbed Russo Lawyers in 2005. Their (not updated since 2005) About Us web page currently yells:

Ah, this being a matter of immigration law, that explains Russo's confusion.

But, of course, Russo isn't really confused. Used to manipulating a mere 12 dumb members of the public while defending bikies, drug pushers, gangsters, killers and rapists in court, he has stepped skilfully to the plate to defend Haneef in front of the entire nation.

His suggestion that Andrews should simply acquiesce to the mood of the mob is a ploy to make his opponant look weak and apparently vindicate his client should the Immigration Minister, having taken advice, restore Haneef's visa.

Russo and his partners should do very well, thank you, out of this case, win or lose.

Still, criminal lawyers always do do well, don't they? As the joke goes, one's clients are innocent until proven broke.

-- Nick

Postscript: One was going to suggest that surely Ryan and Bosscher Lawyers could afford to pay to update their web pages more often until noticing in the URL of their About Us page that they use the SnapCMS content management system that permits in-house updating.

Their clients must be relieved that R&L are more efficient at criminal law than seeing to web updates. Perhaps the partners could get one of the secretaries to read the SnapCMS manual and refresh their content.

While they're at it, they could also spring for a copy of Photoshop and a half-day course for the junior tasked with the job of maintaining the site.

The profile page photo of Russo is a 4Mb, 300dpi, 2100 pixel by 3150 pixel file, probably straight out of the Nikon D70 that shot it back in 2005. Don't bother clicking on the link unless you're willing to wait over a minute for the picture to download even on broadband.

Yet it's the work of only a minute to resample and crop the photo to the intended display size of 137px wide by 240px high at 96dpi and reduce the file size to a slim 27.77Kb with a download speed of a mere 11 seconds even on 28.8Kbps dial-up.

After all, viewing their website is free; it's not like they're charging by the minute.

And, speaking of 'slim', one notes that the coded display size of the photo (137px x 240px) is, in fact, disproportionate compared to the source file. It should be 137px x 206px.

Increasing the display height has the effect of thinning the portly Pete of 2005, thus making a photo manipulation program a weight loss program too.

Accidental? I think not, M'Lud...


Friday, July 27, 2007

Sloshed In Space

A PANEL has found that astronauts were allowed to fly on at least two occasions despite warnings they were so drunk they posed a flight risk, Aviation Week reported today on its website.

The publication said the panel set up by NASA to study astronaut health issues reported “heavy use of alcohol” within 12 hours of launch.

It said flight surgeons and other astronauts warned that the drunken astronauts posed a flight risk when they flew on the two known occasions.
Countdown: 3..hic...2...hic...1...

Blue Star Cocktail Recipe
1 oz gin
3/4 oz white wine
1/3 oz blue curacao liqueur
1 oz orange juice
Shake and strain into an ice-filled old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a cherry and a slice of orange. Serve in "Old-Fashioned Glass"
-- Nora

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Overcome Evil With Good

Spot the difference:

Christian martyr - 42-year-old pastor Bae Hyung-kyu killed for bringing aid and hope to people in Afghanistan.

The South Korean church that the abductees attend has said it will suspend at least some of its volunteer work in Afghanistan. It also stressed that the Koreans abducted were not involved in any Christian missionary work, saying they provided only medical and other volunteer aid to distressed people in the war-ravaged country.

Muslim martyr - 20-year-old Andaleeb Takafka killed by her own hand in order to murder six and wound 104 Israelis.

In in (sic) an interview prior to her suicide mission, Andaleeb Takafka said "when you want to carry out such an attack, whether you are a man or a woman, you don’t think about the explosive belt or about your body being ripped into pieces. We are suffering. We are dying while we are still alive."
Tell me now which is the religion of peace?

Romans 12 14:21
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay,"[1]says the Lord. On the contrary:
"If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."[2]

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
-- Nora

[1]Deut. 32:35
[2]Prov. 25:21,22

Geek Post Of The Week

The Times Online lists the Top 50 movie robots - complete with links to You Tube clips.


-- Nora

Monday, July 23, 2007

Something Like Scales Fell From Her Eyes

IS Sydney getting more and more sleazy or had I just never noticed what a tart this city is?
Why has it taken you so long to notice?

It's amazing what a month away from your hometown can do for your perspective.

But she's perfectly correct, of course.

Funny thing is Tory Maguire, Journalist, comes back from a month away, suddenly realises what she sees everywhere is tacky and offensive and has a good old whinge about it in the pages of the Telegraph.

But if it had been Tory Maguire, citizen and member of a local church, complaining then 'Journalist Maguire' would have probably sneered at the narrow-minded religious right.

-- Nick

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Lies Are All You Need

Freedom of Information reveals that the BBC, currently embroiled in a scandal over phone-in competition fraud, has been lying to the public for years:

The Beatles' performance of All You Need Is Love for the world's first-ever, live satellite transmission in 1967 drew condemnation from viewers... (but the BBC) wrote to Brian Epstein, the band's manager, to say that the performance had been highly regarded by the BBC and the audience.
Amusingly, the documents also revealed:

American television networks refused to join in because they regarded Europe as a boring irrelevance
-- Nick

Swear To Tell The Truth?

The oddest quote of the week comes from lawyer Peter Russo, defending terror suspect Dr Mohamed Haneef:

"To all the allegations that I've had to put to him - I've spoken to him about the allegation that when he was at school he was part of a banned terrorist group in India - his response to that was that he swore a word that I taught him. Basically, he disagreed with it."
Disagreed with what?

The assertion that he was a member of the banned terror group Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI)?

Or that the Student Islamic Movement of India is a terrorist organisation?

-- Nora

Softly, Softly Targets

Drat. I lost a bet.

Nicky said nearly five years ago that if terrorists were plotting action in Australia that it would be on the Gold Coast, possibly during Schoolies Week.

I disagreed citing Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane as more likely targets:

POLICE are investigating whether Mohamed Haneef was part of a planned terrorist attack on a landmark building at the Gold Coast.

Australian Federal Police are examining images of the building and its foundations found among documents and photographs seized in a police raid on the doctor's Southport unit three weeks ago.
The landmark building is likely to be the Q1 in the suburb of Surfers Paradise, currently the world's tallest residential tower.

D'you think the Gold Coast Bulletin has 'caught up' yet?

-- Nora

Update: The incriminating photos don't exist. So how did the story come about? Was it Chinese whispers amongst 'sources' and journalists? Or are Haneef's lawyers spreading more misinformation to white-ant the case against their client?

-- Nick

Saturday, July 21, 2007

We're Way Ahead

This is exactly why AUDA should have kept its ban on people registering place names as com.au domains:

It's the new website of the Gold Coast Bulletin - www.goldcoast.com.au - passing itself off as some sort of information portal representative of the Gold Coast when the publication is, in fact, an embarrassment to the majority of folks who live here.

Says Gold Coast Publications Managing Director Roy Miller:

... the website would become an international portal to the city, providing potential visitors with all they needed to make their holiday successful. There is detailed information, drawn largely from the extensive Bulletin archives, on the best of the Gold Coasts beaches, bushwalks, surfing spots, shopping centres and even the key details about relocating here.
Many do indeed like the beaches, bushwalks, surfing spots, etc and we've had international visitors say they'd love to move here, but their compliments are often tempered by the question 'what is with your local paper though?'

The answer could be suggested by the front page of Friday's print edition spruiking the new website and featuring a young bikini-clad girl who appeared to be pulling down her exceedingly brief, mound-exposing togs to demonstrate that her Brazilian did indeed go all the way.

Further answers can be found in the newspaper's kitsch replacement for cutting the ribbon when, proving the Queensland Labor Party is a pack of media tarts who'd attend the opening of an envelope and dance with a monkey to get their publicity hungry mugs in print, the website was 'launched' by Deputy Premier Anna Bligh on Thursday:

QUEENSLAND Deputy Premier Anna Bligh has officially launched the Gold Coast's newest and most dynamic website, goldcoast.com.au. Ms Bligh, a former Gold Coaster, marked the occasion in typical Coast style by pushing a giant red button attached to a surfboard.
And further proving the Bulletin's collective ineptitude when it comes to dealing with teh interweb, here's a grab of the site this morning:

It shows the only 'published' comment on the only story on the site with comments enabled after 48 hours live.

The story is a week old and the comment potentially pre-dates the go-live of the site. It's plainly a 'test' comment - on an out-of-date story that had already turned into a murder case, reported by the Bulletin, by the time the site was launched.

The Gold Coast Bulletin's positioning statement is 'Catch Up'.

Perhaps they should.

-- Nick

Rare Byrd

US Senator Robert Byrd is a Democrat with a difference - he supports the death penalty, or at least won't vote against it:

...Byrd is among this set, failing to lend support to the Federal Death Penalty Abolition Act.
In fact, he wants to extend it:

...Byrd weighed into the dog-fighting scandal surrounding gridiron star Michael Vick yesterday by raising the prospect of execution for offenders. The 89-year-old Democrat said he had witnessed one execution but wouldn't mind seeing another "if it involves this cruel, sadistic, cannibalistic business of training innocent, vulnerable creatures to kill".
Wouldn't be at all surprised if there are plenty of Byrd's buddies on the left who would agree with the aged animal lover's sentiment - but oppose the idea of putting down those who viciously and wantonly kill other human beings.

-- Nick

Profit Immoral

Farmer Howard Poole makes hay while the sun shines - or rather while rain and frost damage others' crops:

TWO months ago, Granite Belt vegetable grower Howard Poole was getting $12 a carton for celery produced on his Amiens farm. This week the same item was fetching $20 due mainly to floods in Victoria that wiped out crops and frost that has wrecked production. "Twenty dollars is good money," said Mr Poole.
But he has problem with supermarkets wanting to pass on his price hike:

"...the major chain retailers are exploiting the consumer... It is pretty immoral..."
The basis for Farmer Poole's complaint is the profit margins enjoyed by supermarkets that transport, stock and distribute his product via complex and costly infrastructure while employing thousands of people and generating millions of dollars in taxes that, among other things, bail out natural disaster-afflicted farmers.

But that's a different issue. The question I'd ask is if he's so offended by the retailers making even more profit out of the shortages, why did he negotiate and accept an extra 60 per cent?

Just asking.

-- Nick

Update: Former farmer Olav Muurlink sets me straight in comments.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Cold, But Not Frosty

Blogging has been light on because I've had the flu and Nicky's been taking on some of my workload too.

Might have something to do with the near sub-zero temperatures in the area.

And in spite of all of that he has time to create a special cold buster cocktail just for me!

Baby It's Cold Outside
1 measure vodka
1 measure dark rum
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tbs lemon juice
top off with fruit juice
Mix together well and serve in a highball glass.
-- Nora

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Oral Exam Is Worth 30% Of Your Overall Marks

There used to be a joke that you needed a university degree to be a bus driver these days:

Funding for tertiary courses in prostitution could be considered under changes aimed at boosting quality and relevance in the sector, New Zealand education officials say

Uh-hum. A hooker who can opine on existentialism.

Is she still worth the money?

-- Nora

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Terrorists Air Grievances, Issue Demands

"There has been 100 years of human rights' crimes against our people," (Stop the Genocide on Stolen Aboriginal Land Protest organiser Robbie Thorpe) said. "Things are not going to change until there is a treaty (with the indigenous community) in this country.'
And we'll keep sexually abusing our kids until we get it.

-- Nick

And Damned If You Don't

Well this is where trying to be culturally sensitive gets you:

HUMAN rights activists in Congo Republic accused organisers of a Pan-African music festival yesterday of mistreating a group of pygmy musicians by housing them in tents at the city zoo instead of in hotels...

...Organisers of the music festival, which ends today, told Radio France Internationale that as pygmies normally live in the forest, they had hoped to try to recreate their natural habitat by housing them in the zoo, which has areas of trees.
-- Nora

Friday, July 13, 2007

Tree Leaves

The Labor Party's Tree of Knowledge memorial in Barcaldine faces the axe - literally:

QUEENSLAND'S historic Tree of Knowledge will stand for just two more weeks until it is cut down to prepare for a striking new memorial to the Australian Labor Party.

Mayor Rob Chandler said the tree, in the central western Queensland town of Barcaldine, would be felled on July 29 during a special ceremony to which past and current political heavyweights had been invited.
Any thoughts on what would be a suitable monument to the Australian Labor Party? Leave your views in comments.

To get the party started, have a glass of this punch - it's delicious comrade:

Tree Smacker
600ml peach schnapps
600ml apple schnapps
600ml rum
1/2 cup apple juice
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup sweet and sour mix
1/2 cup grenadine syrup
1 splash high proof rum
Add spirits then add juices. Color red with grenadine. Float the overproof rum.
-- Nora

The Answer Is No

Illegal alien queue jumper from New Zealand sets up a false identity and defrauds Social Security of $304,000 over 22 years:

Defence lawyer Brenda Duchen asked the judge to consider Ms Anderson's involvement in an abusive relationship, and that the money had been spent on daily necessities...
That excuse cuts no ice.

Plenty of people overcome abusive relationships and raise their children without resorting to stealing about $12,667 every year from the taxpayers of Australia over almost a quarter of a century.

"She gave a false name and applied for a benefit under that name to support herself and her children,: Ms Duchen told the Downing Centre District Court. "

It is likely she will be deported ... it is highly unlikely she will be allowed to remain in Australia," she also said.

Ms Anderson, who pleaded guilty to the charges, told the court she was "very remorseful" for what she had done.
More like remorseful that she got caught.

-- Nora

The High Cost of Kevin Rudd

Every other news story at the moment trumpets the 'high cost' of groceries and the tune they're playing is the Kevin Rudd Election Song.

But as the media leaps relatively uncritically on Rudd's claim that groceries are skyrocketing and bangs the drum that might just get Labor elected to Federal Government, here's the truth:

AUSTRALIANS are spending less of their take-home pay on food than they were a decade ago thanks to wage increases that have outstripped food price rises.

As Labor yesterday attempted to add grocery costs to a pre-election hip-pocket armory - which already includes housing affordability - economists said there was little evidence to support the party's claim that grocery prices were spiralling because of a lack of competition among supermarket chains.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that in the 10 years to March 2007, average full-time wages rose 47 per cent. Over the same period, food prices rose 41.3 per cent and inflation was 29.1 per cent.
Unfortunately, when has the truth ever got in the way of what the media wants to hear and wants us to hear?

On last night's A Current Affair (Nine Network), a reporter 'proved' grocery prices were terrible and getting worse not by asking an economist or statistician but by doing a vox pop.

One almost blew a gasket hearing a well-dressed woman in her 50s or early 60s claiming 'Oh yes, my groceries have gone up $30!' and being prompted to repeat it again and again.

The question never asked was 'since when?'

-- Nick

Thursday, July 12, 2007


After going on a worldwide rampage Duckzilla hits Sydney.

Here is an exclusive picture taken by Nick Charles:

-- Nora

Just Asking

Why is it that a Catholic who repeatedly sins in the knowledge that confession will provide absolution is regarded as a hypocrite while Al Gore can produce more carbon emissions in a month than the rest of us do in a year and purchase carbon offsets from his own company and be regarded as a messiah?

Just asking.

-- Nick


Hey, as a sport I think it could really take off.

-- Nora

Saturday, July 07, 2007

'Poverty' Cause Rooted

A former insider takes a cluebat to those with over-simplified views of the 'root causes' of Islamic terrorism:

Mr Husain, whose book, The Islamist, exposed the workings of Hizb ut-Tahir, is contemptuous of the idea that the latest plots were inspired by the West's intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"This is just an excuse. They reject Western culture full stop, not just 'slags in night clubs'."
And he offers a brutally realistic analysis:

"These are angry men. Accommodation is not an option. It has to be containment or annihilation."
-- Nick

UPDATE: And the 'Iraq war' excuse is in its nadir too:

Osama Bin Laden's second in command issued a warning yesterday that Britain faced fresh terror attacks as ''punishment'' for Salman Rushdie's knighthood.

The threat - addressed directly to Gordon Brown - came in a 20-minute audio-tape posted on jihadi websites by Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Everyone's a critic.

-- Nora

What Do You Call People Who Hang Around With Musicians?

The Daily Telegraph's Kathy McCabe asks the Live Earth Sydney acts some questions about their green credentials including:

What is your favourite green anthem and if you don't have one, what song do you think could easily be adapted as the theme of climate change?
To which Missy Higgins' response:

"Kermit The Frog's It Ain't Easy Bein' Green. What an anthem."
...is beaten soundly into second place for sheer dumb-assery by Ghostwriters' Rob Hirst:

"Green Green Grass Of Home was clearly a stoner anthem of the '70s but could become a modern carbon footprint dance floor hit."
The Green Green Grass Of Home, written by Claude Putman Jr and a major hit for Tom Jones in 1966, is a country song about a man who wakes from a dream of happier days to realise he is in jail and condemned to be executed for murder in the morning. (Lyrics | Wikipedia entry)

Whether or not Hirst, the former drummer for Midnight Oil, was being humorous is irrelevant. His and Higgins' facile responses add weight to recent criticism by more sensible members of their professional peer group.

-- Nick

Friday, July 06, 2007

Better Make It A Double

A man was lucky not be sucked out of a plane when a hosptial emergency flight he was aboard suffered an explosive decompression:

...the flight nurse was transporting a patient to a Seattle hospital aboard a twin-engine piper turboprop. As the plane was cruising at 20,000 feet, the window adjacent to Fogg's right shoulder exploded, causing a drastic change in pressure that sucked him out of the window, headfirst.
It's reminiscent of the dramatic British Airway's flight in 1990 when the jet's cockpit window blew out sucking out the captain. The captain was saved by his quick thinking flight crew who, not knowing whether he was dead or alive, held on to his ankle. He was alive AND conscious.

Suck a lucky escape deserves a drink:

Lucky Double
- 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 oz Cointreau
- 2 oz vodka (mandrin)
Slice the lemon half further into four quarters, and drop into to a mixing glass. Add triple sec and muddle well. Add mandrin vodka and ice, shake well, and pour out into an old-fashioned glass.
-- Nora

Lovely Lindy

Lindy Nelson-Carr is the Queensland Labor Government's Minister for Environment and also Minister for Multiculturalism:

...continuing the work for people from different cultural backgrounds and celebrating diversity...
Except for the people of Far North Queensland:

"The last thing Queensland needs is a bunch of gun-happy hillbillies on a crocodile shoot," she said.
Nelson-Carr is a former high school teacher.

-- Nick

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Same Old Song

The predictable reaction after being caught trying to murder people:

Concerns have been raised that Haneef's arrest could spark public outrage against foreign-trained doctors, particularly those with a Muslim background.
They've feared it before:

Australian Muslims are being warned to be vigilant following the Bali attack.
And before that, pre-Bali:

... NSW Supreme Islamic Council president Gabor Elgafi said... the community was living the daily effects of being under suspicion since the September 11 attacks. "The whole world is looking at Muslims now as a threat ... we are portrayed as terrorists."
One can't imagine why.

Mr Elgafi said his son, who is a doctor, was strip-searched had his bag emptied twice over a two-hour period after returning from overseas.
A doctor, eh? But that should place him above suspicion...

-- Nick

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Drive By Doctor

Links to Islamic terror come close to home:

QUEENSLAND Premier Peter Beattie says a second doctor is being interviewed after a Gold Coast doctor was detained in relation to the UK terror plot...
And it's leaving the usual lefties askance - two doctors in Australia arrested, six doctors out of eight people arrested for the London and Glasgow plots - how can this be?

They're not improverished or marginalised, indeed they're well-respected doctors, so what could make such men, subscribers to the Hippocratic principle of 'first, do no harm', want to cause death and destruction?

Well, they weren't touting for business, that's for sure.

Perhaps we should ask a jihadi (well, former jihadi):

How do Islamic radicals justify such terror in the name of their religion?

There isn't enough room to outline everything here, but the foundation of extremist reasoning rests upon a model of the world in which you are either a believer or an infidel.

Formal Islamic theology, unlike Christian theology, does not allow for the separation of state and religion: they are considered to be one and the same.

For centuries, the reasoning of Islamic jurists has set down rules of interaction between Dar ul-Islam (the Land of Islam) and Dar ul-Kufr (the Land of Unbelief) to cover almost every matter of trade, peace and war.

But what radicals and extremists do is to take this two steps further. Their first step has been to argue that, since there is no pure Islamic state, the whole world must be Dar ul-Kufr (The Land of Unbelief).

Step two: since Islam must declare war on unbelief, they have declared war upon the whole world.

Along with many of my former peers, I was taught by Pakistani and British radical preachers that this reclassification of the globe as a Land of War (Dar ul-Harb) allows any Muslim to destroy the sanctity of the five rights that every human is granted under Islam: life, wealth, land, mind and belief.

In Dar ul-Harb, anything goes, including the treachery and cowardice of attacking civilians.

The notion of a global battlefield has been a source of friction for Muslims living in Britain.

For decades, radicals have been exploiting the tensions between Islamic theology and the modern secular state - typically by starting debate with the question: "Are you British or Muslim?"

But the main reason why radicals have managed to increase their following is because most Muslim institutions in Britain just don't want to talk about theology.

They refuse to broach the difficult and often complex truth that Islam can be interpreted as condoning violence against the unbeliever - and instead repeat the mantra that Islam is peace and hope that all of this debate will go away.
Go, read the rest now.

-- Nora

UPDATE: Quote of the day regarding Dr Mohamed Haneef, the Gold Coast-based doctor arrested over alleged links to the 'Doctors of Death' terror plot comes from Royal Australasian College of Physicians cheif Executive Craig Patterson:

"What's scary ... about this, if these people are found to be guilty, is they are good quality doctors."

UPDATE II: If you can't get Chuck Norris to save the world, how about John Smeaton?

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Sympathy For The Devil

Nine's A Current Affair 'reported' a couple of weeks ago on a group of old biddies who were upset that they couldn't take their dogs into the local bingo. Their ire is not the subject of this post.

What is is that one of the 'heroines' of the piece was admiringly referred to as the matriarch of a gangland family.

Also that same evening on Nine, the father of Melbourne gunman Christopher Hudson, who shot three people in cold blood on a Melbourne street, killing one, was seen in a press conference talking about his son.

And several weeks ago, 'multimillionaire milk mogul' Ken Lacey was seen on TV and in print denying that his sons Jade and Dionne could have had anything to do with the shooting murder of a 23 year old man. This after his offspring were also linked to the kidnapping and torture of another person.

While the media has forever been besotted with the likes of the latterday Ma Barker and her murderous spawn, there's a more recent trend for newspapers and TV news shows to give column inches and airtime to the protestations of the most spotless innocence by the family of all manner of despoilers of life, limb and innocence.

One might expect an expression of disbelief from a father or other family member for whom a child or relative's outburst of murderous violence is sudden and unexpected.

But in the case of Terry Hudson, his son is a Hell Angel - a member of an organised crime gang - and his boy was last year involved in a bike gang brawl at a Gold Coast hotel in which illegal guns were fired indiscriminately in a packed venue.

Meanwhile, Ken Lacey's virginal lads were also linked to the kidnapping and torture of another person, indicating fairly clearly that they were not as pure as the proverbial driven snow.

Which brings us to convicted rapist-murderer Bevan Meninga who was the central player in this Thin Man post back in May last year.

It's unusual for a post to attract comments once it's dropped off the front page but it happens every now and then as subjects and names are googled and the posts show up in the search results.

Which must have been what happened when, suddenly, persons sympathetic to Meninga popped up in comments, also a couple of weeks ago.

Commenter helenb did a quick txt-style drive-by in which she said:

I would just like to say you should all get ur facts straight before writing untrue and unfair statements for the world to see to all u people who belive this garbage u are as bad as the scum who wrote it as beven is doing his time he deserves a second chance NO 1 IS PERFECT
Commenter Nicky was more thoughtful, if equally grammatically challenged:

I just hope this letter makes some of yous think a little bit more of bevan meninga he is still a human with feelings. He just wont the same things in life that you want that is to be happy he has to live with his mistakes every day. It is just so weird because everyone has there own perception of him and how they think of him.
Nicky also returned a few times to cryptically hint that Meninga had been, to use the Pommie parlance, 'fitted up':

It is so unfair how storys are told there is your side his side and the truth [no rape or stabbing]... was bevan ever charged with a rape or stabbing NO so get the truth... he did comit murder but not in way the media tells it im not going to get in to the how,and why the people how care know
While Nicky and I were exchanging comments on the issue, a possible explanation for the reason why helenb and Nicky had suddenly raised their heads over the trench emerged.

Meninga was named in a June 23 Brisbane Courier-Mail article as possibly linked to:

...a cash-for-favours scam embroiling four detectives. Bevan Meninga, 34, Lee Henderson, Gerhard Rade and several other unidentified prisoners are believed to have received money in their trust accounts from Queensland police officers via Australia Post money orders.
Despite Nicky's evasiveness when questioned, it's fairly clear that he and helenb are intimates of Meninga or the Meninga family, if not actually members of the family themselves.

The question that has to be asked is this: Just what does it take to convince the families and friends of those who commit horrific crimes that their relatives and confederates are as the evidence portrays them?

And what part does the media play in perpetuating, or indeed enabling, amplifying and encouraging, this cognitive dissonance by the way in which it today not only fetes the families of gangland 'superstars' but even the relatives and pals of the grubbiest of common killers?

-- Nick

Parental Guidance Recommended

It was a brutal crime, a teenage girl is bludgeoned to death by her boyfriend.

Murder or manslaughter?

In the case of Gold Coast man Damian Sebo, 30, the jury over this weekend came back with a verdict of not guilty of murder, guilty of manslaughter.

Jennifer Tierney, the mother of Taryn Hunt, aged 16 at the time of her death in 2005 is outraged:

"I am feeling sick in the stomach, I am horrified.

"I never believed they'd come back with that verdict. I was shocked.

"Taryn was not the girl she has been painted to be.

"Australia needs to change these laws and quickly."

Ms Tierney's sister, Deborah Brownstown, said: "No ordinary man of the same age would pick up a club and cave someone's head in."
Yes that's true but let's back up a little and we will see why the the outrage of the dead girl's family is misplaced.

Worse than that, we will see how decisions made by Jennifer Tierney on how her child was raised directly contributed to her daughter's death.

Fact 1. At the time of Hunt's death in 2005 she was a 16 year old school girl in the company of Sebo. What were they doing? They were drinking with mutual friends at Jupiters Casino.

More specifically, on Wednesday, September 7 2005 on a school night (September holidays were to begin 3pm Friday, September 9) Taryn Jessica Hunt aged 16 was drinking alcohol at a licenced venue.

In fact, she hadn't been to school on that day at all:

The court heard that on the day of the attack, the young couple had spent the day shopping, having lunch and had "made love" twice before going out drinking with mutual friends.
Point 1. Hello? Where was the mother in all this? Letting her 16 year old daughter wag school and go drinking with her 28-year-old boyfriend.

Well, let's give her the benefit of the doubt on this point - after all there are plenty of parents who are unaware that their teenagers are drinking and truanting from school.

Fact 2. Damian Karl Sebo entered into a sexual relationship with Taryn Jessica Hunt at the age of 26. Hunt was 14. That amounts to statutory rape.

Point 2. What did Hunt's mother do? Not only condoned the illegal relationship, but also enabled it by inviting Sebo to live with her and her daughter.

The jury was told Sebo first started seeing Ms Hunt when she was 14 and after she threatened to move out with him, her mother let the couple live with her at Pacific Pines.

Ms Hunt's mother, Jennifer Tierney, gave evidence yesterday saying her daughter had been difficult at times but she never thought Sebo would kill her.

She said she remembered that when the couple broke up and her daughter started seeing another man, Sebo warned her that Ms Hunt might be hurt if she continued her behaviour.

"He said, 'That girl needs to see a psychiatrist (and) if somebody doesn't do something soon she's either going to be raped or murdered'," she said.
In fact Sebo was living in the house at the time of Hunt's death.

The court was told Mr Sebo continued to live in the same household after the pair split...
Fact 3. Taryn Jennifer Hunt appears to have been promiscuous. To use the correct term, a slut.

Sebo said the two were arguing about Hunt wanting to be dropped at another man's house, when she revealed she had cheated on him repeatedly during their relationship and bragged about how easy it had been. She allegedly pushed and hit him.

"She kept going on about the people she'd been with, how and where, and what she did . . . she was just laughing in my face and that was it for me," he said...

...During the interview, Sebo also said Hunt had aborted a child he believed was theirs almost a year earlier, and had been acting differently ever since.
Point 3. And it seems Hunt's mother knew about her daughter's whorish behaviour. It is becoming increasingly clear that Jennifer Tierney is a stupid, negligent woman.

Sebo told police he and Taryn had been planning a future together and that they were intending to go overseas and have children.

However, Taryn's mother maintains the couple had split up and that Taryn had started seeing another person.
Fact 4A. Throughout the trial evidence Hunt was variously described in terms of 'Nobody says she's an angel', 'difficult', that her relationship with Sebo was 'tempestuous'. The fact that she had blackmailed her mother into letting an adult man conduct a sexual relationship with her in the family home by threatening to run away is indicative of her character.

Fact 4B. It is clear that Sebo is emotionally immature and, quite possibly borderline mentally deficient. During the trial Tierney herself admitted she the never expected Sebo capable of violent rage.

Ms Tierney previously told The Sunday Mail of the difficulties in raising a teenage daughter who had attracted a much older lover.

"They did love each other for a couple of months. He never showed any aggression," she said.
Point 4. In this day and age it's not fashionable to blame the victim, yet both Tierney and Hunt directly contributed to the events that followed.

That said, indeed Sebo deserves a hefty prison sentence for taking Hunt's life. In fact before the trial he had pleaded guilty to manslaughter, an offer rejected by the prosecution in favour of a charge of murder.

The jury's decision to find Sebo guilty of manslaughter is absolutely the correct one.

In light of the evidence at trial it is hypocritical in the extreme for Hunt's mother to be askance at the jury's findings.

Moreover the lack of shame she shows for her culpability in the matter is either another example of Tierney's maternal neglect or her abject stupidity.

The jury is out on that one.

-- Nora

UPDATE: Queensland attorney general Kerry Shine, treads a thin line between justice and the abandonment of due process by offering to look at the sentence given to Sebo.

Mr Shine said he was now seeking advice on grounds for an appeal of the sentence.

"As attorney-general, I cannot appeal a jury's decision to acquit," Mr Shine said.

"However, I have considered the sentencing remarks for the manslaughter charge, and I have asked the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for advice about grounds for a possible appeal against the sentence imposed and the prospects of success."
Be careful Mr Shine. This particular case is not the best one to start this campaign with.

First, the jury's decision was correct and second Sebo is facing a jail term.

This is not the same as drunken thugs who fell total strangers with one killer punch and who subsequently face no jail time whatsoever.

-- Nora

UPDATE II - In response to PDB below:

Dear PDB,
Thank you for your well-written and reasoned comment.

I respect your point of view and equally respectfully I have to disagree with it.

Indeed, I am basing my post based on the media reports. If you have an issue with how the media reported the case, then that is a subject that you should take up through the Press Council.

The substance of my comment was the reaction of Taryn Hunt's mother.

Indeed, she lost a daughter in the most distressing of circumstances, but that does not absolve her of the responsibility she directly bears regarding the death of her child and judging by her interview with the media, I'm not sure she appreciates her culpability.

This case has as many questions as it answers for instance:

1. Why did Taryn's mother allow her to become sexually active so early?

2. A 14 year-old child blackmailed her own mother to let her adult lover move into the family home. This suggests the action of not someone who was sweet natured but rather someone who could turn off the charm and become nasty if she didn't get her own way. Is this an accurate description of Taryn?

3. Why did Taryn's mother not go to the police to have Sebo charged with statutory rape considering the alarming age disparity?

4. Why did Taryn's mother condone her drinking?

5. Why did Taryn's mother allow Sebo to continue living in the house even after she knew that Taryn was seeing another person? (Side question - how many sexual partners is appropriate for a 16-year-old?)

6. Where is Taryn's father?

Having abrogated her responsibility in raising Taryn when she was 14, her mother seeks to abrogate her responsibility to Taryn again.

One would be somewhat more sympathetic if she had said to the media: “I wish I had never allowed her to enter into a relationship with Sebo in the first place, not necessarily because he was an unsuitable partner but because my daughter was too young.”

But now Tierney paints herself a victim. Had she showed courage to do the right thing by her daughter at the age of 14, Tierney could have saved two lives – that of her daughter and that of Sebo.

As I mention in the post, Sebo does deserve a hefty prison sentence for his crime (I'd be happy to see him spend 20 years behind bars, but then again, I believe someone who murders in cold blood should be executed) and I suspect that he is emotionally if not mentally retarded based on his pursuit of a relationship with a minor, no matter how willing she was.

The fact that you sat through the entire trial indicates that you are invested in the case and the nature of your comments that you are invested in Taryn's behalf.

Given the personal investment you're hardly a dispassionate observer - based on your initials are you Taryn's aunt?

Another question, why is an outside observer not entitled to comment on the worth of a jury's verdict? Who knows, may be one day you’ll serve jury duty and be asked to conduct yourself with impartiality.

As I mentioned in the update – that, unlike the cases The Courier-Mail mentioned this week, the Hunt-Sebo affair is quite different.

In this particular case, mitigating circumstances have everything to do with how and why the jury reached its decision.

Taryn wasn't some random girl in the street minding her own business, who copped a fatal punch to the head at the hands of a drunken stranger.

She was a sexually precocious child who treated her mother and Sebo poorly.

What demonstration of caring and kindness did she show her mother in blackmailing her?

What demonstration of caring and kindness did Taryn show Sebo in taunting him?

Indeed, what degree of self-preservation did Taryn display that night? Had she shown some better judgement, she might be alive today.

The issue is one of personal responsibility and the responsibility that parents have towards guiding, shaping and nurturing their children who are too immature to possess the degree of personal accountability that they might later grow to develop.

In this case, Jennifer Tierney has failed and killed her daughter as a result.

-- Nora

Easily Confused

You save people's lives, you'd think they'd be grateful. You'd be wrong:

How very interesting? New Prime Minister sworn-in, suddenely bombs, undetonated are found on the streets. The reports suggest that they could have been detonated by mobile phones yet they were not when the bombs were discovered at a busy time. Is this all a ploy for the architects of the Iraq war to force Brown's hand into staying in Iraq and Afganistan if he has plans to the contrary. Don't get me wrong, this could have been a real threat but the timing is very interesting and rather curious.

Posted by: yunus of inala 11:06am June 30, 2007
Comment 1 of 5
The following three comments all hysterically support the view that the foiled London car bombs were, in fact, planted by the British to justify staying in Iraq or launching a new war on Iran. Only the last commenter attempted to inject any sanity into the debate.

One suspects the first four would have no trouble believing this, however:

Lieutenant Walter Haut was the public relations officer at (Roswell) in 1947 and... died last year but left a sworn affidavit to be opened only after his death. Last week, the text was released and asserts that the weather balloon claim was a cover story and that the real object had been recovered by the military and stored in a hangar. He described seeing not just the craft, but alien bodies.
We don't need to wait for Islam to plunge the West into a new Dark Ages. They're already here.

-- Nick

Update: Men of Middle Eastern appearance attempt to firebomb Glasgow Airport with a Jeep full of petrol and one almost self-immolates during the attempt. Probably just a pair of government agents really committed to continuing the war in Iraq.