Wednesday, June 29, 2005

From St Kilda to Kings Cross

By Paul Kelly

From St Kilda to Kings Cross is thirteen hours on a bus
I pressed my face against the glass and watched the white lines rushing past
And all around me felt like all inside me
And my body left me and my soul went running

Have you ever seen Kings Cross when the rain is falling soft?
I came in on the evening bus, from Oxford Street I cut across
And if the rain don't fall too hard everything shines just like a postcard
Everything goes on just the same
Fair-weather friends are the hungriest friends
I keep my mouth well shut, I cross their open hands

I want to see the sun go down from St Kilda Esplanade
Where the beach needs reconstruction, where the palm trees have it hard
I'd give you all of Sydney Harbour (all that land, all that water)
For that one sweet promenade

Monday, June 27, 2005

Flash presentation of Iraq Fatalities

This via Nick Lewis. Every little tick you hear represents someone dying. There are some points at which it goes off like a geiger counter near the Chernobyl reactor.

The darker the red dot, the more people were killed on that particular day.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Scott Ritter: The war on Iran has begun.

You're no dummy if you are appointed chief UN weapons Inspector at the tender age of 38. Christ, that's how old I am now. I remember a couple of years ago hearing Scott Ritter in an interview with Richard Glover on the ABC's Sydney station 702. Whilst I can't remember what was said the gist was in general that there was a lot of pokery jiggery going on in the background in Iraq. He was forthright and surprisingly open.

Ritter went very public with the goings for which he gained my admiration. Perhaps his reasons are a case of sour grapes syndrome or perhaps he actually did face an ethical pang of conscience based on the bullshit he observed. The resulting outing of "how things actually were" saw him shunned from the cosy six or seven figure salary and a consultancy that most people in power tend to look forward to in their retirement.

So he's now working for the "other guys" at Al Jazeera after working for "our guys" at Fox. The muzzle is off and he tells it as it is again.

His latest article describes how the war against Iran in all likelihood has already started.

"Liberation" and the spread of "democracy" have become none-too-subtle code words within the neo-conservative cabal that formulates and executes American foreign policy today for militarism and war.

By the intensity of the "liberation/democracy" rhetoric alone, Americans should be put on notice that Iran is well-fixed in the cross-hairs as the next target for the illegal policy of regime change being implemented by the Bush administration.

But Americans, and indeed much of the rest of the world, continue to be lulled into a false sense of complacency by the fact that overt conventional military operations have not yet commenced between the United States and Iran.

As such, many hold out the false hope that an extension of the current insanity in Iraq can be postponed or prevented in the case of Iran. But this is a fool's dream.

The reality is that the US war with Iran has already begun. As we speak, American over flights of Iranian soil are taking place, using pilotless drones and other, more sophisticated, capabilities.

The violation of a sovereign nation's airspace is an act of war in and of itself. But the war with Iran has gone far beyond the intelligence-gathering phase.

President Bush has taken advantage of the sweeping powers granted to him in the aftermath of 11 September 2001, to wage a global war against terror and to initiate several covert offensive operations inside Iran.

The most visible of these is the CIA-backed actions recently undertaken by the Mujahadeen el-Khalq, or MEK, an Iranian opposition group, once run by

Saddam Hussein's dreaded intelligence services, but now working exclusively for the CIA's Directorate of Operations.

It is bitter irony that the CIA is using a group still labelled as a terrorist organisation, a group trained in the art of explosive assassination by the same intelligence units of the former regime of Saddam Hussein, who are slaughtering American soldiers in Iraq today, to carry out remote bombings in Iran of the sort that the Bush administration condemns on a daily basis inside Iraq.

Perhaps the adage of "one man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist" has finally been embraced by the White House, exposing as utter hypocrisy the entire underlying notions governing the ongoing global war on terror.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Freedom Girls

Military Magazine online reports

U.S. Patriot Bonds

Six-year-old Anastasia Richardson pleads for your support of our soldiers in the fight against terrorism.

Freedom Girls!

Help Anastasia, cover girl for the Patriot Bonds, and the Freedom Girls promote U.S. Savings Bonds. Due to budget cuts, the Savings Bond Program no longer has a marketing department and the Freedom Girls are on a quest to promote U.S. Savings Bonds. They are challenging Americans to purchase U.S. Savings Bonds to support our soldiers fighting the war on terrorism and in memory of 9/11 victims.

Purchasing a savings bond will help our nation financially support the war on terrorism and help curb the financial burden taxpayers will incur. The program is the most cost effective way to borrow money. The current Treasury cost model shows that for every $1 billion borrowed throughout Series EE (Patriot Bonds) and Series I Savings Bonds, $17 million is saved in comparison to cost associated with marketable securities.

Anastasiaís grandmother, Randi Johnson Dale, posed as a child model back in 1944 for a Popular Photography magazine cover promoting War Bonds. Now Randi, along with her daughter Susan, and granddaughter Anastasia, have appeared at Oklahoma county fairs and on street corners in Tulsa to encourage people to buy Savings Bonds.

Meanwhile The Guardian has excerpts from the Riverbend blog now a book.

Riverbend, 'Girl Blog from Iraq' as she dubs herself, was a computer programmer before the war - not any more. In her diary of the occupation, she describes the new, confined way of life, especially for women, amid the mayhem

Thursday, August 28 2003

Yesterday, I read how it was going to take up to $90bn to rebuild Iraq. Bremer [the former head of the US Occupation Authority] was shooting out numbers about how much it was going to cost to replace buildings and bridges and electricity, etc.

Listen to this little anecdote. One of my cousins works in a prominent engineering company in Baghdad, well-known for building bridges all over Iraq. My cousin, a structural engineer, is a bridge freak. He spends hours talking about pillars and trusses and steel structures to anyone who'll listen.

As May was drawing to a close, his manager told him that someone from the CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority) wanted the company to estimate the building costs of replacing the New Diyala Bridge on the south-east end of Baghdad. He got his team together, they went out and assessed the damage, decided it wasn't too extensive, but it would be costly. They did the necessary tests and analyses (mumblings about soil composition and water depth, expansion joints and girders) and came up with a number they tentatively put forward - $300,000. This included new plans and designs, raw materials (quite cheap in Iraq), labour, contractors, travel expenses, etc.

Let's pretend my cousin is a dolt. Let's pretend he hasn't been working with bridges for over 17 years. Let's pretend he didn't work on replacing at least 20 of the 133 bridges damaged during the first Gulf war. Let's pretend he's wrong and the cost of rebuilding this bridge is four times the number they estimated - let's pretend it will actually cost $1,200,000. Let's just use our imagination.

A week later, the New Diyala Bridge contract was given to a US company. This particular company estimated the cost of rebuilding the bridge would be around - brace yourselves - $50,000,000!!

Something you should know about Iraq: we have over 130,000 engineers. More than half of these engineers are structural engineers and architects.

Guess where all those Patriot bonds are going Freedomgirls?

Winter Solstice

St Thomas grey, St Thomas grey,
The longest night and the shortest day.
Traditional English rhyme.
St Thomas's feast day is now July 3 , formerly December 21

Today is the shortest day of the year if you're downunder and the longest one if you're up top. So I suppose if you were taking a religious view of things, we should be celebrating Christmas down here as a throwback to "pagan", Ogham, Egyptian Ancient Greek and other assorted hunter-gatherer celebrations as the days got longer. (This website gives an account of a Greek Festival Lenaea)

The winter solstice ritual was called Lenaea, the Festival of the Wild Women. In very ancient times, a man representing the harvest god Dionysos was torn to pieces and eaten by a gang of women on this day. Later in the ritual, Dionysos would be reborn as a baby. By classical times, the human sacrifice had been replaced by the killing of a goat. The women's role had changed to that of funeral mourners and observers of the birth

Sounds pretty violent! It sounds more of parable which was regarded as "truth" in later times, describing the active priciple (the male/sun) being devoured by the passive priciple (the female/moon) then re-emerging.

So if you are of the following faiths here's what your people do, which in the main has been "borrowed" from less organized spiritual festivals.......note the constant light emerging from the darkness themes.

Buddhists are one step ahead and have celebrated Buddha's enlightenment under a tree on December the 8th, this would make it around May the 31st downunder.

Judaism: Celebrate the start of Hannukah (which to me always sounds Hawaiian for some reason) celebrates the taking back of the lamp from a Syrian king, again a parable based on the return of the light or the sun. They light eight candles over eight days starting with the day of winter solstice. Whether they celebrate Hannukah in June or december down under I don't know.

Druids: Apparently they see the Sun-God as travelling through the underworld.... on the shortest day of the year.

Islam: Recognises the word of Allah via the Qura'n to the people. It starts on the first sighting of the crescent moon, ie when the moon is on the first day past it's darkest state.

Christianity: Celebrates the birth of Yeshua of Nazareth.(three kings guided by a light at might to the stable) No-one knows when he was born so to fit this in the pagan festivals, Roman powers-that- be replaced the festival of Saturnalia with this one.

Being the fragmented divided unit the Christian faith is,
The Lutherans, Dutch Reformed, Catholic and Anglican churches forged ahead with the celebrations while the Baptists, Presbyterians, Quakers and Puritans continued to rail against it. Even today, some Christian groups, including many Churches of Christ and Seventh-day Adventists, do not acknowledge Christmas as a religious observance.

Winter Solstice was at one time the day of St Thomas of "doubting Thomas" fame, the analogy I suppose is that St Thomas was in the dark until he saw the light:-)

Hindus: Celebrate MAKAR SANKRANTIwhich due to the particularly complicated and typically Indian intracies of the Vedic calendar, has a variety of opinions which Indian date it falls on.

Makara Sakranti is the winter solstice in the Hindu solar calendar. It is marked by the passing of the sun into the sign (Sakranti, Samkranti) of Makara (Capricorn). There are festivals on the day itself and on the eve to celebrate the coming of spring.

Unfortunately, there are several ways of calculating the Hindu solar calendar, so its date may vary by up to one day in various parts of India depending whether local custom dictates the use of the old or new Hindu calendar or astronomical tables. This is further confused by the fact that the date reported as a holiday is sometimes the 1st of Makara and sometimes the eve. It always occurs around the 14th or 15th of January. Lohri, in Punjab and Harayana, commonly occurs one day earlier on the 13th or 14th

Back to things around my location and less spiritual and little more commercial.Later in the year around July, there will be Christmas in July or Yulefest further up the mountains around Katoomba and Blackheath where it sometimes snows. It's a good chance for some of the hotels and restaraunts around here to make some money during a usually pretty cold, windy, freezing, miserable time of the year.

A small group of Irish visitors had come to The Blue Mountains to enjoy the clear winter climate that they were accustomed to back in Ireland - they commented that "Celebrating Christmas in Australia during the heat of summer just didn't feel quite the same".

The host and owner of the Mountain Heritage offered to re-create for his Irish guests, a festive 'Winter Christmas' atmosphere with all the trimmings - frosted windows, Christmas feasts of turkey, hams, mince pies and steaming plum puddings, and choiristers joining together singing the joys of the festive season. Plus, of course, a snowman.

The idea has caught on, "Christmas in July" now takes place from Fremantle on the west coast, to the tropics in Queensland(in Aussie laconic style "Our coldest month of the year, all the way down to 20 degrees at night") to the Alpine regions of the Snowy Mountains.

Anyway....... I'm not particularly religious..... spiritual perhaps, so I'll most likely take up the feast aspect of ancient Roman times, enjoy the long night, get myself one of those big juicy hamburgers, that drip down your arms from the takeaway up the street, maybe a couple of glasses of red as well. Followed by a good book on the couch.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

The incense holder supporting device.

Peter has a rant about those trying to extract money to watch TV. Like him, my TV is a forgotten piece of electronic obsolescense used occasionally for watching DVDs. I used to watch the Sopranos but that got canned by the Nine network downunder. Britcoms used to be popular at one time too. Sport is a big no-no in this house.

The TV's main function serves as a piece of furniture which my incense holder rests. Here's the picture as promised!

Sunday Morning Sunrise

Google Algorithm is out.

This via Nick Lewis.

Great Site Ranking in Google The Secret's Out
Google recently filed a US patent which reveals a great deal of how they rank your web site. Some of it you could never have guessed at...

By Darren Yates, 6/11/2005

Google recently filed a US patent which reveals a great deal of how they rank your web site. Some of it you could never have guessed at...

How many years did you register your domain name for?
If it was only one then Google could hold that against you.


Because the majority of Spam websites only register a domain name for one year. A domain name registered for a longer period implies that the owner is more likely to be legitimate and serious about their web site.

This is just one of the unusual factors possibly considered by Google when indexing and ranking a website. Factors you could never even have guessed at in some cases.

How do I know this?

Google recently made public, March 31 2005, the contents of their filing of United States Patent Application 20050071741.

In which many of the search giant’s secret ranking criteria is revealed and it makes very interesting reading. You must read this if you are serious about ranking well in Google. The days of Spamming Google are drawing to a close. With this patent they reveal just how hard they're coming down on Spam sites. You Do Not want to get caught out.

Yes Minister

If you would like to know the mechanics of the British government system, Yes Minister would be a good start. There's a slew of Yes Minister quotes and exchanges by the witty writing team of Antony Jay & Jonathan Lynn here. Including the following:

Bob: Minister are you lying the foundations for a police state?
Jim: You know, I'm glad you asked that question.
Bob: Well Minister could we have the answer?
Jim: Well yes, of course, I was just about to give it to you, if I may. Yes as I said I'm glad you asked me that question because it's a question that a lot of people are asking, and quite so, because a lot of people want to know the answer to it. And let's be quite clear about this without beating about the bush the plain fact of the matter is that it is a very important question indeed and people have a right to know.
Bob: Minister, we haven't yet had the answer.
Jim: I'm sorry, what was the question?

And this:

Sir Humphrey: MP's are chosen by the people, they're chosen by their local party, thirty five men in grubby raincoats or thirty five women in silly hats.
Bernard: And the government are selected from the best of them.
Sir Humphrey: Bernard, there are only six hundred and thirty MP's. If one party has just over three hundred it forms a government, of that three hundred one hundred are too old and too silly, one hundred are too young and too callow which leaves just about a hundred MP's to fill one hundred governmental posts. There's no choice at all, they've had no selection, no training. We have to job for them.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Some news from Crikey

This morning there's a couple of articles of interest from that bastion of independent Aussie journalism, Crikey . One from Cristian Kerr describing what looks like a government cover up of the loss of more than 400 people as a refugee ship sank in "international waters" between Indonesia and Australia. The organiser of death ship has been charged but as yet, nothing from the powers that be........ who from the look of it seem to have conveniently no information on the matter.

This one stinks to high heaven.

The trial has failed to answer many of the questions surrounding the tragedy. The SIEV-X sank in international waters south of Indonesia on October 19, 2001, about 33 hours after it left the southern coast of Sumatra. The wooden boat was shockingly overcrowded with more than 400 asylum-seekers, most of them Iraqis.

Evidence given during the trail has revived persistent rumours that drowning passengers were seen but ignored by Australian and Indonesian naval vessels. A Senate Committee investigated the failure of Australian navy to rescue SIEV-X survivors as part of the 2002 Children Overboard inquiry, despite the presence of vessels in the area as part of the shadowy campaign against illegal immigration, Operation Relex. The final report cleared the ADF, but still questioned how the foundering of the ship and the drowning remain undetected.

The Senate Committee investigated allegations that SIEV-X was sabotaged as part of a joint disruption program against illegal vessels by the Australian federal police and Indonesian authorities. AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty refused to give evidence to the inquiry on the grounds that it might prejudice pending investigations, and admitted that the Australian government had no control over Indonesia's disruption activities. The Committee called for a full independent inquiry into Australia's role in disrupting asylum-seeker vessels, but the government has refused to act.

The same allegations have now been raised in the Daoed trial – and remain unanswered. Calls for an inquiry have been mounting in the days since Daoed was found guilty. Labor, the Democrats and the Greens may well up the ante.

Former diplomat Tony Kevin, who has investigated the SIEV-X case, says there will be whistleblowers. “People retire, their consciences start to weigh on them; they have a look at the pictures of those drowned children. They think about the possible role they may have played,” he said yesterday.

The verdict puts new pressure on the government. Will the truth ever out? And will it reveal more shameful secrets of the maladministration of the Immigration portfolio by Philip Ruddock and Amanda Vanstone. Bubbling under are more detention centre abuse stories.

And questions are not only being asked in the media, a Thursday's Senate Hansard reveal a couple of probing questions from Green Senator Bob Brown, nicely batted away by Senator Vanstone under the "international waters" excuse.

The government has either shifted ground on where the refugee boat SIEV-X sank – or Amanda Vanstone has stuffed up yet again. Have a look at her answer to a Question on Notice from Greens' leader Bob Brown on page 113 of yesterday's Senate Hansard:

Siev X
(Question No. 431)
Senator Brown asked the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, upon notice, on 10 March 2005:

With reference to the sinking of the boat known as SIEV X:
(1) Will the Minister now release the list of names of people who are thought to have drowned.
(2) How many queries has the Government had from people seeking the names of persons thought to have been on board:
(a) from within Australia and
(b) from outside Australia.
(3) If the list is not to be released:
(a) what are the precise reasons; and
(b) if one reason is that release of the list would endanger an informant, in what way.

Senator Vanstone – The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:
(1) The Government has no way of knowing or verifying all those who drowned, being an illegal venture out of another country with the tragedy occurring in international waters. Some names of those who have thought to have drowned are held.
(2) Records of requests are not held.
(3) The Government does not hold comprehensive information nor is it in a position to verify it.

Here we go again. “International waters.”

And another story, with rumours regarding Rupert and Hilary Clinton's courting which came via the New York Observor.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

King George III & George Bush II

Sometimes you can look backwards to see the present.

Reading the Declaration of Independence, some two hundred and twenty nine years later. One wonders if the Iraqi and Afghan population and in some cases USA itself could substitute the "he" meaning King George the third for George Bush the second.

These "facts of oppresion" are contained therein. Some of the links don't exactly fit but many are similar and have aspects of the charater of the declaration.

The heirachy in action.

Rego time.

The $500 sticker Posted by Hello

Rego time.... how I used to despise rego time. It was akin to a visit to the dentist, procrastinated 'til the last moment. Rego time for anyone outside of OZ is the time when you hand over large wads of cash to various insurance, government and motor mechanic sorts of people to register your car. Rego is so much easier to say than registration hence when you mention rego downunder, you'll generally be understood. And shortening words to the point of ridiculousness is a fave habit of us down here.

I decided to head off to get some tyres, as mine were almost down to the last skerrick of tread on the inside. I took the car for a drive on a sunny winter day, down the motorway to a favourite place of mine run by some rather friendly Armenians at Regents Park. They started off in a small very dirty shop many years ago. Things have improved, they're in a larger complex with a lot more workers and Dad drives a brand new Mercedes. Mum runs the books whilst constantly being on the phone and the eldest son still looks after the practical side of things in a small dark office out the back.

Whilst waiting, I went for a walk up to Regents Park strip of shops and found about only three open, the rest with their shutters down or "For Lease" signs in the window. A modern day ghost town. The only thing available for brekky (breakfast: see a shortening again) was a some chicken kebab on Turkish bread. It was an unusual breakfast but nice nevertheless.

New tyres were on by the time I returned and a wheel alignment to sort out the wearing on the inside issue.

Then it was back to the Blue Mountains on the motorway via the car wash. I don't know why I always tend to wash the car before rego inspection. It never used to work before.... I suppose it is some sort of token effort to show how much I work on my car. Picked up some globes at the servo( service station/gas station) and replaced a parking light and a number plate light.

I took it to my local mechanic for a once over to get my "pink slip" which is a roadworthy certificate. This is where I used to have real headaches. Coming from South Australia where one doesn't have to worry about inspections, I found when cominig to New South Wales a "pink slip" usually meant six or seven hundred dollars of work depending on how quiet business was for the mechanic. Beauracracy and mechnics combined and my one time mechanical apathy was never a good thing.

Luckily these days I have Scotty the young guy, who started pretty recently and I was one of his first customers plus sent a few more customers his way. He knows the car, and I know the basics of cars..... so now it is no problems. These days I have a bit more cash to look after it then I used to so things get fixed, so it is always in a state of roadworthiness anyway. But how I used to FEAR the dreaded pink slip process in my younger cash strapped days, driving old clunkers into the mechanics. A couple of times I bit the bullet and junked the car, getting a less sub standard one. But today, the car passed on first inspection.... my first win.

Then it was off to the local NRMA (similar to the AAA in the US) to get my "green slip" which is basically a pooled insurance fund to cover any injuries caused by cars. First quote was for $480 but then it was determined that I had no under 25 year old drivers and no history of accidents. Quote was reduced by $200 to $280. Another WIN! One good thing about the Blue Mountains is that it is considered "country" so I don't cop the higher fees they experience in the urban areas. And as I've grown older the premiums have decreased...... I'd rather they keep the $200 and I keep my youth; that's life I suppose.

Then I took the assorted stamped pieces of paper to the state run Roads and Traffic Authority. The fee for this was $247, $47 for the actual registration and $200 for "vehicle tax".... whatever that is. At most city RTA offices there is quite a wait, not so at my local. I took the number from the machine and walked straight to the counter at lunchtime. And yet another WIN.

So rego cost about $548 this year which isn't much different to when I first arrived in NSW some 15 years ago. The 500 or so dollars was a lot more in those days in real terms and really hurt as I scabbled to rake up the necessary cash to pay for the blessed thing.

I celebrated my small wins and the annual gaining of the sacred rego sticker with a box lunch from a nearby chinese restaraunt, it was fun waiting for it. Chinese chefs seem to be LOUD, constantly yelling in an angry sorta way above the sounds of utensils and woks banging around on cast iron stove tops.

So....... the rego sticker is in place until another year.

Monday, June 13, 2005

The long weekend gongs

gong: Aust and British colloq. A medal or decoration.

On appelle ça des hochets, je sais, on l'a dit déjà. Et bien, j'ai répondu que c'est avec des hochets que l'on mène les hommes. — "These are called [trinkets], I know, it has already been said. Well, I answered that it's with [trinkets] that you lead people."- Napoleon

The Queen's birthday sees the majority of the unwashed masses getting a day off and a small amount of the top honours going to Australians in the form of the Order of Australia (AC) Companion in the General Division.

The seven recipients of the top gong are made up of three politicians, one cardinal, one socialite (already a Dame) a high ranking CEO and a humanitarian worker. Politicians and Judges seem to figure prominently as one works their way down the list of less significant awards.

Just an observation.

I'm taking my bat and ball and going home.

This via Harry.

Republican Senator Sensenbrenner picks up his bat and ball and calls a premature end to the Judicial Committee hearing into renewal of Patriot act sunset clauses. There's a video of the fiasco to witness some good old fashioned jackboots on dissent.

This morning Rep. Sensenbrenner, the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee was leading a committee hearing looking into the renewal of Patriot Act

Mr. Sensenbrenner decided that he didn't like the tone of the meeting and simply got up and left but not before he criticized the witnesses who came and gave their testimony to the committee.

After he left the microphones were switched on and off while the Democratic members of the committee continued to discuss the renewal of the Patriot Act

I can see now why the Senate Intelligence committe wanted to expand law enforcement powers in a closed session. These pesky people asking questions and encouraging debate seem to be holding things up.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Foggy winter morning in the Hunter Valley.

This is the only decent shot I took whilst away at the Hunter Valley on my weekend which is a Monday and Tuesday. Not much had changed since my last visit some 5 years ago except for a couple of newer architectually stunning new wineries that have mushroomed in places that were once just dirt. I wish I could remember a few of the names but unfortunately their marketing ploys somehow missed their mark in influencing my memory.

The older and family owned wineries such as Tyrrel's, Draytons and McWilliams were worth a visit. There seems to be a profusion of smaller ones as doctors, lawyers, merchant bankers and oenologists have a crack at the good life. Again the names escape me.

My friends and I stayed at Harrigans Irish Pub which was an Aussie pub with some old Guinness bottles, Irish music and a few Irish beers. Like any of these nouveau Irish themed pubs, they try pretty hard but something is missing. They're experts at taking your money and making you feel good about it. Accomodation was in a separate wing with a couple of Irish themed pictures on the wall. I brief walk from the front door and I was looking at the view above.

Because it was a Tuesday, it was DEAD. There weren't that many people around, save for a few farmers on holiday in the quiet season and a disproportianate number of well heeled older gentlemen with their "neices", up for a "business trip"! They grey haired gent in an expensive Maserati with his 20 something platinum blonde was a standout.

Four of us actually went for a SWIM in the unheated pool in June, this is probably the first time I've taken the plunge in winter. The water was actually warmer than the air outside on a sunny early winter's day. Four youngish blokes in a pool is bound to be fun, there were bombs, belly flops, poorly executed swan dives, backflips, front flips, side flops and my speciality the "Suey" which involved going into a high belly flop position before curling up just before hitting the water.A real crowd pleaser.

"Ooooooh that's gotta hurt" was the cry as another badly perfomed high dive went amiss. A few of the foolhardy unskilled in the art of a good bomb returned with their torsos a little more rosy as pale skin made some pretty HARD contact with water.

Anyway we quaffed a few reds and enjoyed a couple of beers and some pretty good food in some wonderful surroundings. There were no hangovers or feeling queasy Tuesday morning so I 'spose for a supposedly unruly mob of blokes on a mens weekend away we were pretty well behaved. It's funny because when this group of guys go away to get away the thing they talked about mostly was the mysteries of women. Most all male groups I've been out with tend to do the same.

One thing that always hits you when you go to the Hunter is the profusion of smells. Terra Rossa soil, grape vines, old wine barrels, withering vines, steaks cooking and an abundance of eucalypt trees make you wish you could bottle it. There is something "earthy" and indulgent about the fragrances that seem to linger there.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Some Top fives and sixes.

Sleepy at the hallowed halls of The Wreckroom tagged me so I suppose I'm it!

I rather enjoyed doing this and culling out the wannabe's. The link finding was a lovely exercise. You may notice some names popping up in more places than once and some names that seem out of place. Aussie readers note I've included some names that are familiar downunder but never really made it offshore.

If you would like to give it a try with some of your own choices please go ahead. I'm not much of a tagger.

A. Top Five Lyrics that Move Your Heart:
  • Decades: Joy Division........ 25 years too early
  • Anything that Thom Yorke from Radiohead comes up with is fine by me in a Generation-X angst ridden way.
  • Power and the Passion: Midnight Oil. Five really, really angry young men have a spit about the apathy in Oz during the early 80's. They were 20 years too late or 20 years too early.
  • Mandela Day: Simple Minds
  • One:U2

B. Top 5 Instrumentals: (samples on links)
  • Drivin South: Jimi Hendrix Experience Radio 1(Now called the BBC Sessions). BLISTERING, done live in two takes.(I'm not sure how they chose this one, both seem equally as good) Jimi goes places you never thought possible. Ginger and Jack keep up admirably.
  • Montok Point: by William Orbit:(Awesome website) Technically not an instrumental as there is a 15 second spoken word section in the middle. Bookended by about 7 minutes of Orbit's Infectious grooves.
  • It's a fast driving rave up with the Dandy Warhols 16 minutes. Again there are lyrics in there somewhere but you don't know what they're saying.
  • Chronologie 1: Jean Michel Jarre. There is no decent part download of the last section which gives me goosebumps.
  • On the Run: Pink Floyd..... David Gilmour did this in one off performance on a VCS3. No overdubs!

C. Top 5 Live Musical Experiences:

  • Mal Eastick: Old time Aussie session muso who could be Stevie Ray Vaughn's clone. Fabulous with a Strat.
  • The Wipeouts: South Australian band from Penola with some killer hooks, riffs and chops. Seen at the Commercial Hotel Mt Gambier in around '86. The band who should of made it but didn't for reasons unknown. Won (make that OWNED) a state battle of the bands in the late '80s.
  • Dandy Warhols Metro Sydney October 5th 1998. Their first Sydney gig. There were about 60 or so punters in an almost empty Metro, when the Dandys flew down for a surprise gig in Sydney from the Livid festival in Brisbane... "just for the hell of it". The crowd went silent as they sung material from their first album (at that stage was an US indie release not available downunder) but seemed to know all the songs from "Come Down" which was getting a bit of airplay on JJJ at the time. EVEN supported and were good enough for a venue for themselves.
  • The Cruel Sea Instrumental gig: Annandale pub early 90's.
  • U2's Under a Blood Red Sky tour 1983 Adelaide: 3000 or so fans packed into the smallish Apollo Basketball stadium to hear a relatively unknown Irish band.

C and a half (I've added this)......Top 5 Live Musical Experiences I kicked myself for missing out on.
  • Tool:
  • Pink Floyd's last gig downunder.
  • Metallica at the Big Day Out 2004
  • Flaming Lips at the same deal as above.
  • Anything by Midnight Oil, they used to NAIL the speakers to the stage.

D. Top Five Six Artists You Think More People Should Listen To:

  • Icehouse This is mainly for the youngun's downunder..... yes the 80's had Cold Chisel but some of us preferred Iva's band. It's refreshing to hear some samples being picked up by younger musos.
  • Galaxie 500 : Boston band with a Kiwi lead singer around at the same time as The Pixies..... Melancholic.
  • Cut Copy Newish Aussie band with a wunderkid writing all the great songs Joy Division, New Order, Kraftwerk and The Human League didn't.
  • Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark. The first band to put warmth in Synths. Oh and they MADE their instruments too. I hear their samples EVERYWHERE.
  • Daniel Lanois I like him ever since seeing his documentary some time ago.
  • Tom Heasley: Another new discovery. Ambient music with a tuba, sounds strange on paper but it works.

E. Top Five Six Albums You Must Hear From Start to Finish:
  • Brian Eno: Ambient 4 On Land New discovery still playing it some three weeks later. Brooding.
  • Beatles: Sgt Pepper Buy this album, then buy the rest. Well that's what I did. ......A Day in the Life is worth the album price alone.
  • Midnight Oil: 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 Did I mention how ANGRY these guys were? We're talking in the range from simmering hot under the collar to Peter Garret popping his neck veins out kinda anger here.
  • Hoodoo Gurus: Stoneage Romeos Tripped out surf, kinda punk guitar. There are about ten other songs on this album that you dont hear on MMM, in fact I think MMM picked up on these guys some 4 years after JJJ.
  • New Order: Power Corruption and Lies The song samples at Amazon don't do this album justice
  • Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark: Architecture and Morality As above

F. Top Five Musical Heroes:
  • John Lennon Nuff said I agree with Sleepy on this one.
  • Paul Kelly Another South Australian no longer at home. His song "Adelaide" is sometimes how I feel about the place.
  • David Gilmour I like Gilmour a lot, always have, always will. Dunno why.
  • JJJ Radio station downunder which has in it's own way helped significantly nurture our isolated music scene
  • The Pixies: Turned the bland post poodle rock US scene on it's head and influenced HEAPS of others. Like Jimi they had to go overseas to the UK to be successful.

Monday, June 06, 2005

I wish i could write like Steve.

This from Steve Gilliard's news and views site. Methinks I'll have to drop him when I get back. Which is no big deal, he gets the readers in.

If you want to grab an audience, you have to work at it. You have to do it every day and not expect an ounce of help. Not one link, not one kind reference. You have to do the work to get noticed. Some of us are more talented than others, but if you work hard and show effort others will appreciate it.

Gilliard's blog IMHO is a first rate case of punditry which in some cases is hopelessly clueless and inadequetly researched. I passed by a few weeks ago and left a note how much I enjoyed his blog, not from a content issue but more from the endless number of Gordian knots he seems to get himself into. Yes, I do engage in the art of punditry from time to time, my grammar sometimes sucks and spellin mistakes and ttypos pas by unchecked. So perhaps he's raised a few hackles there. Unlike Gilliard, I admit my lack of knowledge on some subjects and readily admit mistakes.

There again I might leave the link to remind me of what and ego out of control looks like when released on the blogosphere.

A Discerning Thief

I just went to my car and discovered someone knocked off (Aussie slang:stole) a few of my CD's.

What they took:
Beatles: Rubber Soul
Midnight Oil: 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1
Midnight Oil: Capricornia

What they didn't take

Midnight Oil: Red Sails in the Sunset
Beatles: Revolver
Tangerine Dream: Best Of
Rolling Stones: Forty Licks

I'm rather impressed with their taste although why would you take one Beatles and Midnight Oil album and not the other ones?

Another of life's little mysteries.

I'm in an Alfred Hitchcock movie.

I'm in an Alfred Hitchcock movie

Low res shot with a camera phone. Uploaded to the PC via IrDA (Infra Red Device Association).

Which reminds me if you have bluetooth perhaps you should think of the security concerns.

Adam Shostack who is in the computer security side of business always has informed and interesting news on the security vs privacy front. (Another great blog via Harry's world of interesting links. ) If you read anything vaguely connected to security or privacy in the mainstream media, Adam has probably covered a few days and in some cases weeks previously.

He has a good article on bluetooth vs Infra Red transmission of data. Line of sight is important via IrDA whereas Bluetooth transmits everywhere. I can vouch for that, the IrDA can be sometimes a little finicky to set up.

The police at Bondi Beach, Sydney used the Bluetooth vulnerability to catch some guys using mobile phone cameras taking photos of topless bathers and transmitting the photos to friends nearby. If you are transmitting via Bluetooth via mobile phone, the signal is received by other units in receive mode.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

When does terrorism become"that kind of behaviour"?

There has been an interesting turn of events over the past few weeks downunder.

First there was judgement on the Corby case in Indonesia. There's a good summary from young Nic White at 52nd State (BTW must link him).

My feeling on the matter are as a sometimes surfer, you'd somehow know the difference between the weight of a half kilo foam bodyboard and the weight of a couple of laptops in your body board cover. Call me overly pragmatic but that's one way I see it..... the pundit in me admits there are still a lot of unknowns on this one. So again I'll leave it at that.

What is interesting, is what is happening on the periphery.

I left a comment somehwere that I thought it was a media beat-up, whipping the Australian public into a frenzy of opinion on how bad our Indonesian neighbours are and how their justice system sucks. For what purpose the media-fest was for, I don't know. The Murdoch owned Telegraph had a field day before it suddenly did a U-turn, winding its efforts backs a bit which was attributed to a bit of government pressure.

Anyway, emotions were at such a level, some nutjob decided to send some white powder described as a "biological agent" to the Indonesian embassy in Canberra in some weird and twisted reponse. Latest reports seem to indicate a bacillus bacteria.

The thing is, that this hasn't been described as an "act of terrorism"® and yet it seems to fill the criteria.

The unlawful use or threat of violence esp. against the state or the public as a politically motivated means of attack or coercion.

A search for "biological agent" and "embassy" shows 403 reults on Google news. A search on "biological agent" and "terrorism" shows only 55 results. Therefore the word "terrorism" seems to have been effectively CUT or not used in 348 articles.

Mr Howard doesn't describe this as terrorism.

"Let me say that I'm staggered that it's happened but I'm afraid that we have to recognise that there's a dark corner in every country and you can get that kind of behaviour in every country,"

Perhaps if the receiver is of an Islamic nature, the definition of terrorism doesn't apply. For example in a larger case, the alleged chemical bombing of Fallujah by the US armed forces would not be considered an act of terrorism but maybe it could be a case of "that kind of behaviour". However the use of biological or chemical agents by "terrorist organizations" in Iraq would and could not be considered "that kind of behaviour" but "terrorism".

The DOD definition of terrorism is

"(DOD) The calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological."

The DOD has no definition for "that kind of behaviour".

So I 'spose if napalm was used in Fallujah, it must have been lawful violence which I'm unsure if it fits into "that kind of behaviour" or not. This is not a case of me justifying any violence from the other side (whatever that is), I find it interesting how this "terrorist" meme is used or not used depending on the perpetrator and victim of violence or threat of violence.

Is there (as Mr Howard describes it) a "that kind of behaviour alert" now at the National Security Centre? Or is this merely a case of of bit of diplomacy towards our northern neighbours? How would a "biological agent" sent to an Australian embassy in Indonesia be described by the Aussie media?

Maybe those clever people at the Telegraph could educate me on this one. I'm a little confused.

What is it?

Random picture from the factory

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Damn and blast.

There may be a few numbers in this post.

There are some cool things about working a three day week such as getting four days off as a matter of course. Every day off is a long weekend.

The flip side is that a working week crammed into three days tends to make a standard day with two meal breaks rather long. I live about 40 minutes from work and start 30 minutes earlier and stay back for a bit at the end of the day...... so from door to door extends the day out to about fourteen hours most days.

I usually get up at 4:30 am Go to work at about five-ish leave work at 6:30pm and get home at about 7:15pm. Eat, surf around for a bit the sleep. I can go out Friday night but I really have to get home kinda early otherwise the next day drags on even more. By Saturday night one doesn't really feel like going out that much....I'm well and truly shagged. Sunday is really and truly a day of appreciated rest. The Sunday to Wednesday long weekend is when not much happens, so must of us on this shift don't go out that much.

The wake up time hard wiring sees me regarding a 6am wake up time as a "good sleep in". Yep I'm one of those early riser types now..... that considers a late function somewhere in the order of 10 or 11pm.

Then there is today when I am going in earlier still, at 5am to cover for a friend who usually sorts out the shift staff shortages. I set the clock for what I thought was 3:58am. I got up showered and realised I got up at 2:58am....... DAMN.

It's going to be a long, long day.

Still, I suppose I've got a few days to get over it :-). A few of the boys from work (with the same non-existent social life) are going to the Hunter Valley on our weekend on Monday for a Sideways experience. Sampling some "big reds" which Australian winemakers seem to be pretty good at making and stay the night somewhere nice.... most likely in an on-site vineyard cabin. Things are usually a bit quieter during mid-week tourist wise which is another bonus.

I haven't been to "The Hunter" for awhile and I might enjoy a BIG sleep-in of say about 6:30am.