Sunday, November 27, 2005

Facts about USA Thanksgiving.

Only in America Dept...........

There are only 600 Federally recognised Wampanoag, without a reserve,
in the double-entedre riddled area of "Gay Head".

"In 1600 the Wampanoag probably were as many as 12,000 with 40 villages divided roughly between 8,000 on the mainland and another 4,000 on the off-shore islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. The three epidemics which swept across New England and the Canadian Maritimes between 1614 and 1620 were especially devastating to the Wampanoag and neighboring Massachuset with mortality in many mainland villages (i.e. Patuxet) reaching 100%. When the Pilgrims landed in 1620, fewer than 2,000 mainland Wampanoag had survived. The island Wampanoag were protected somewhat by their relative isolation and still had 3,000. At least 10 mainland villages had been abandoned after the epidemics, because there was no one left. After English settlement of Massachusetts, epidemics continued to reduce the mainland Wampanoag until there were only 1,000 by 1675. Only 400 survived King Philip's War.

Still concentrated in Barnstable, Plymouth, and Bristol counties of southeastern Massachusetts, the Wampanoag have endured and grown slowly to their current membership of 3,000. The island communities of Wampanoag on Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket maintained a population near 700 until a fever in 1763 killed two-thirds of the Nantucket. It never recovered, and the last Nantucket died in 1855. The community Martha's Vineyard has sustained itself by adding native peoples from the mainland and intermarriage, but by 1807 only 40 were full-bloods. Massachusetts divided the tribal lands in 1842 and ended tribal status in 1870, but the Wampanoag reorganized as the Wampanoag Nation in 1928. There are currently five organized bands: Assonet, Gay Head, Herring Pond, Mashpee, and Namasket. All have petitioned for federal and state recognition, but only Gay Head (600 members but without a reservation) has been successful (1987). The Mashpee (2,200 members) were turned down by the federal courts in 1978."

Australia dragged kicking and screaming into the noughties........

I-Tunes is finally available in Australia.

I was in Europe in 2004 and the computer I was using had I Tunes loaded. I tried to download songs but because my credit card was registered in Australia, I couldn't buy any songs. Bummer.

So now it's here and I've been furiously downloading stuff that is really hard to find in second hand record stores.

One of the tracks I downloaded was Simple Mind's "Theme for Big Cities". I have been after this track since I was around 19 years old, not knowing the title. I heard it on radio a couple of weeks ago and fired off this e-mail to the presenter after it wasn't back announced.

"I enjoy your show very much, the highlight of my Monday. I grew up in
Adelaide in the mid 80's and a lot of my hard earned filthy lucre ended up
in the pockets of the guys at Seeing Eye records who had a great shop in
Rundle Mall.

I think you mentioned Adelaide last week or the week before that.

Anyway what was the instrumental that closed the show today. I caught the
end of it and the announcer after you back announced his FIRST song (Bizarre
Love Triangle) but didn't back announce yours. The screams in my car could
be heard across Sydney.

I HAVE BEEN AFTER THIS INSTRUMENTAL FOR AGES!!!!! And when I say ages I mean since when I was 19 years old which would make it 19 years ago in around 1986.

here's the story..........

A friend of mine in '86 lent me a tape of some music she taped off the radio
5mmm (pre Austereo, when the mmm tag was was owned by a community station) in Adelaide , she didn't know the name of the piece. So I taped it from her tape to one of my own and thrashed it, it broke, I spliced it back up, I
replaced the reels but eventually lost it somewhere.

I've heard it being sampled as an Olympics sound over in 2000 wrote away to
a very disinterested TV station.

I've looked on Napster in the late 90's thinking it may be called "The Real
Thing" as it sounds similar to Russel Morris' song.

I've searched high and low.... all to no avail.

And at about 1pm today I heard it again, I pulled my car over, turned it off, had my pen and piece of paper ready for the name of this enigma then......NO BACK ANNOUNCEMENT, therefore I still don't know the name of this infernal instrumental.


Paul wrote back and informed me it was "Theme for Big Cities" and now I have it!

Other stuff I've been after that I now have.

Porroh Man: Big Country
The Delivery of Marie Claire: Daniel Lanois
Eruption: Van Halen
Cry: Godley and Creme
Twist in my Sobriety: Tanita Takaram
Theme from Southern Comfort: Ry Cooder ( I was after this track for some time too, the soundtrack was never released and is probably one of the best I've heard. Lousy movie, great soundtrack)
Couple of Malcolm McClaren songs
Heaps of Miles Davis stuff.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Spider web Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Blogging meme of the day via Johnny The Horse

This via Johnny the Horse aka The Bed and Breakfast Man (Don't worry they're Madness song lines and titles)

The tag is as follows:

1. Go into your archives.
2. Find your 23rd post.
3. Post the fifth sentence (or closest to it).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
5. Tag five other people to do the same thing.

Mine wasn't my words but those of Bill Hicks:

"Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves. Here's Tom with the weather......"

As a bridge blogger, I'm sending it offshore, tagging some people over the Pacific Peter, Moff, Tetricus, Sleepy and Winston.

˚◦°°◦.. ®€Ð◦♡◦®Ø§ë..◦°°◦˚ aka Red Rose

Cutey Hunny Posted by Picasa

˚◦°°◦.. ® € Ð ◦♡◦ ® Ø § ë..◦°°◦˚ = Red Rose..... Get it?

Australia's Top Rated Blog according to Blogshares..... I wanna puke. It's just S-o-o-o-o cute.

At some stage the l33t H4X0Rs had their studlycaps hi-jacked by such Hello Kitty types as these. The blog world has been taken OVER!

BTW, if you're into Hello Kitty, here's the ultimate laptop for you to build, it's just a little too pink for me.

1/2 a planet away

Magic Beams Posted by Picasa

The ability to type stuff on my keyboard on another continent, see it on my screen at night-time, send it thousands of kilometers away via a telephone line, then via waves through the ionosphere bouncing off satellites or through a big thick undersea cable, to a little parcel of magnetic medium in Silicon Valley, or Seattle or somewhere in the USA in daytime, where you can access it........

Seems particularly slow today.

It actually quite magical if you think about it when it works.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


In these uncertain times of Australian legislation branding writing "seditious" I'm a little nervous about this....nevertheless, I'll press on.

I've just watched the documentary about Al Jazeera during the Gulf War, Control Room.

A good indeopent article about the documentary here

I was completely blown away by this documentary and the presentation of the network. The quality and intelligence of the Al Jazeera journalists and producers, a lot of them from the ex BBC Arab Network, since closed down.

From the other side of the fence I was equally blown away by the frankness, honesty and frustration of a Lieutenant Josh Rushing who was effectively silenced by the Pentagon after the documentary was aired. In frustration he quit, bummed around for a bit and now works for Al Jazeera itself. he was a little younger and greener than the seasoned Al Jazeera journos, however he presented his side admirably.

A couple of highlights came form the DVD extras.

One was a cuddly loveable journalist Hassan Ibrahim

.....with a mind like a steel trap; arguing his point about the definition of "terrorism" with another arab journo. The other guy defined terrorism as violence against a civilian population with a political aim......war against soldiers could not be considered terrorism.

Ibrahim argued the point that unless a new bomb was invented that distinguished between a civilian and a soldier then such bombing was "terrorism". Shrapnel from a ten tonne bomb makes no such ethical distinctions. This is the West's problem with the definition of "terrorism".

Ibrahim summed it up, the abhorence of all forms of violence should be the goal; whether they be government sanctioned "liberations" or religous nut attacks upon civilians. I tend to agree.

There were a couple of exchanges between Lt. Rushing and Ibrahim. The older wiser Ibrahim keeping the younger Rushing on his toes. Rushing described it in a later 2004 interview "It’s like a nightmare where you are on ‘Jeopardy.’ You don’t know the answer, but your buzzer keeps going off."

Another interview on the DVD extras with Rushing stood out for me.(They pretty well all did, his thoughts flowed freely with no umms or errs). He was describing how the USA saw the world, he came up with a one word definition and the changed it. I thought he would say "apathy" but he said "ambivalence", I had to look this up.

" Uncertainty or indecisiveness as to which course to follow."

Which is sort of how I feel in these changing times.

It all happened so fast.

Turtle Posted by Picasa

The turtles were out in force on some sort of lemming like suicide mission upon the mid-Western Highway yesterday. I saved two from a certain squishing by passing semi-trailers and cars. They were just sitting in the midle of the road, heads and legs in the shell looking like rocks.

I counted a couple that weren't so fortunate.

Anyway, here's a pic of one who got away.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Head down bums up Posted by Picasa

The Jacarandas are out.

Jacarandas Posted by Picasa

I can pretty well set my calendar by what time the Jacarandas viewed from my balconey start blooming. They bloom very late in the year, around the first week of November, much later than those down on the flats of the Sydney plains. I'm unsure why the late blooming here, perhaps its to do with the micro-climate around here, described by a United Nations metereologist as the most equitable in the world.

It's been a long, dry winter which makes them bloom even stronger.

They are beautiful trees, native to South America but lovingly adopted by those downunder in Oz. A friend flying back from Alice Springs in the dry, central, red soiled outback heard a desert dweller on the plane ask, "What are all those purple things?". It was the multitude of Jacarandas in full bloom.

I was in Parrramatta on Tuesday night and there were some Jacarandas next to the Parramatta River, dropping their blooms in the slowly moving current. A patch of intense purple petals sat under the trees in the brown river dispersing and reducing in intensity as they drifted downstream...... gorgeous!

Commisioning or commissioning

I'm unsure how to spell commissioning is it double "m" double "s"? A spell check would no doubt sort out this dilemma of mine, but I don't like computers telling me how to I'll leave it as commissioning for this post.

It has been a hectic week at work.

There are four production lines where I work at a beverage factory, one does cans of fizzy drinks. The other lines (including mine) do fizzy drinks in glass and plastic (PET) bottles. Mine primarily does 2 litre and 1.25 ltr PET bottles and has been under utilized of late..... so "The management" decided to send some of the other sized bottles my way....... little unamanageable 600 ml ones. My entire crew has been dreading this size ever since we were told we would be running it.

Friday was a "commissioning" day where we set up machines for a completely different size and carefully note and dial in settings. Usually a "commissioning" is slap dash, without any thought of how long these things take. Production is assumed to be at 100% within a couple of hours which is ludicrous. It's akin to building a prototype motor car and expecting it to run at 160mph at the first start of the key. Unrealistic and unbased in reality.

The management on Friday gave me 12 hours to get it right and not put pressure on me for "production".....wooo-hoo! I had a whole day to get things right.

Then there's the tradesmen and technicians. If you've ever tried renovating a house and have two or three tradesmen at the same place at the same time you'll appreciate the dilemma. Tradesmen work in different frames of linear time reference, around 10 o'clock can mean anywhere from 8am to 5pm and that is assuming they turn up at all. I had a total of six equipment technicians (including inhouse ones) along with the regular nine production technicians. Outside technicians were flying in from all parts of the country and managed to be in the same place at the same time AND they STAYED..... A previously unseen parallel universe had suddenly opened up...... cue twilight zone music.

The commissioning Gods were smiling at me.

There were a couple of problems that were fixed by days end. A filler which had seized in it's vertical adjustment setting which was found to be a seized worm drive and some corroded electrical fittings. A labeller that required some MAJOR fine tuning before it would run at speed. A bottle packer that required a LOT of fiddling around so that bottles did not end up on the floor in a mess of bottles and smashed up cartons. An argument between my manager and one of my subordinates which made its way from the shop floor to men's changeroom. A conveyor that was feeding bottles too fast and causing a MASSIVE bankup was fixed rather quickly.

An awesome piece of German wizardry which mixes, carbonates and pumps fizzy drink...... operated by a touch screen was up and running in specification and at speed. All the computers, pumps, transponders, actuators, plcs, circuits, pneumatic valves and whatnot were working like a treat.

By day's end we were pretty confident that we would get some production out on the Saturday. We reckoned the line was about 90-95% ready....whether we would finish the schedule was dubious, after a commissioning you expect some minor niggles to further iron out. I told my manager not to expect any miracles..... we may get out 80,000 bottles at the most.

I had my bottle of Lourdes holy water brought back from my trip to France, just in case.... it was at the ready to douse any daemons out of the machines. These are the problems that technical and experience expertise just will never fix. Bring out the holy water and the problem is solved.... it works, I don't know how but it does when all else fails.......there's another post there.....

Saturday came and we ran and ran and ran...... finished by 2:30pm. It had been my best days figures EVER! I actually doubled the 80,000 estimate.

Yep, the commissioning Gods were indeed smiling.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Senate Submissions Link

Senate Submissions Posted by Picasa

Heres a blurb from the ACTU (a screen dump converted to a JPEG) either click the picture above or click this link to make your submission. There's a groundswell on this one, the ACTU was hoping for 200 submissions and has close to 3000 to date.

Keeping the Bastards Honest

Senator Andrew Bartlett

Senator Andrew Bartlett of Queensland has put forward a request for Senate Submissions for the recent Howard Governments 1200 page Industrial Relations legislation, tabled last Tuesday, allowing seven days for submisions to be lodged.

You can lodge your concerns here at the ACTU Your Rights at Work Senate Submission page.

As Andrew says:

Politically and morally corrupt government

At the risk of further opening myself up to charges of sedition, I should mention the new workplace relations laws which were finally made public last Wednesday, November 2nd. There is a Senate Committee Inquiry into the proposed law, but the full process of allowing public submissions, public hearings and consideration of the law is required to be finished by 22nd November (yes that’s less than three weeks).

If you have any views about the new law, it is a good idea to send a submission in to the Senate Inquiry - if only to show that you wish to have your views heard by the Parliament. Unfortunately, submissions close on on 9th November, so you better be quick. The absurdly short amount of time for the Committee to examine legislation that makes the biggest changes to workplace law in 100 years is a scandal – a corrupt process which befits a government which has already seen fit to steal millions dollars of taxpayers’ money (over 50 million at last count) to pay for advertising propaganda aimed at covering up the real content and impact of this law.

However, if this were not bad enough, one key aspect of the inquiry which seems to have occured without any comment is the severe curtailing of the Inquiry’s ability to examine a whole range of pivotal issues. In the process of forcing the Senate to accept this truncated inquiry, the Government also added the following requirement:

“The inquiry not consider those elements of the bill …… which relate to secret ballots, suspension/termination of a bargaining period; pattern bargaining; cooling off periods; remedies for unprotected industrial action; removal of section 166A of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 (the WR Act); strike pay; reform of unfair dismissal arrangements; right of entry; award simplification; freedom of association; amendments to section 299 of the WR Act; and civil penalties for officers of organisations regarding breaches.”

So not only is there less than three weeks for the Committee to do its full inquiry, but central compentents of the law are supposedly not to be considered by the inquiry, on the spurious grounds that these matters have been looked at before by previous inquiries. (which is true, but they were not looked at in the context of other changes also being made which would (a) completely alter and overturn the whole nature of the law and (b) bring vastly increased numbers of people under its reach).

The intellectually bankruptcy of this notion is so comprehensive it would be hilarious, were the process not so morally and politically corrupt, and the personal consequences for millions of people not so damaging.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Neurotic and disagreeable?

Why artists are rebels

Creative types are more prone to psychosis and rebellion, a study has found.

University of Melbourne researcher Karen Hendricks tested artists and non-artists and found creative people were also more predisposed to mental illness, even though they may never become unwell.

Dr Hendricks found that writers scored highest on most personality disorder scales and were also more likely to be neurotic and disagreeable.

Performance artists scored highest on the narcissism personality scale.

"The healthy rebellion aspect involves things like questioning social conventions and being open to new or radical ideas," she said. And the psychosis processes were

"a driving force for creativity".
Source: The Sun-Herald

Why sacking journalists is dumb

I read this article from Crikey a couple of days ago and made a note to place it up on the blog. Got around to it today!

There's a couple of points before you read this article and your not from downunder.

The media down here is in the hands of a few people. Television is controlled by about three or four families, the newspaper business is run by around three. Two if you're looking at the big circulation cities. Rupert Murdoch's Newscorp has tabloid papers in each city, he also controls "The Australian" which is the national daily. Fairfax media has two broadsheet papers in the larger cities of Sydney and Melbourne.

The Newscorp tabloids are read by the working class in the western suburbs and a little more Murdoch-like...... right wing and shallow, the Fairfax broadsheets are more in the eastern suburbs and have a left-leaning style and go into a bit more depth. That's a broad sort of definition.

If you walked into a newsagent, you could propbably tell which area of Melbourne or Sydney you were in by the height of the respective Fairfax or Murdoch stack.

It looks as if Fairfax is looking to "dumb down" it's image a little and focus on entertainment as they try to find their niche in these internet vs news on paper times. That's a shame, The Sydney Morning herald gets cited regularly on the net as it sometimes covers stories that the usual media via AAP and Reuters doesn't cover. Another example I can think of is The Guardian in the UK, who maintains that fiercely independent spirit, not singing from the same song book that is written by a large media owner in charge.

nd talking rationalization, I can think of a similar example of an airline who went through a similar thinking process when they askied the question "What business are we in?", they decided they were in the "ticketing business" and then proceeded to flog off airplanes, pilots, terminals, aircraft maintenance operations and the like. From memory they went under pretty quickly.

Lets hope they don't head the same way at Fairfax.

Anyway here's the article from Crikey

Fairfax job cuts a dumb move

Media and telecommunications analyst Paul Budde writes

There is no doubt that the media industry is going through some very serious changes and that to date John Fairfax has not been very successful in finding a good position from which to move into the converging markets of media and internet/telecoms.

In my analyses of the newspaper market in the past I have argued for a strategic review of these media companies. They will have to decide what they are – content providers or printers. It has been clear for many years that customers are changing their attitude towards gathering and processing news and information.

This is partly to do with the commercialisation of the media. In order to increase the share price news media now operate less as objective news suppliers and more as entertainers. This has led to a dumbing down of the media, which has produced an environment of mediocrity. The once proud image of the media has been undermined by this process and by a concentration of monopolistic domination in the media industry. This has made readers cynical about the information delivered to them.

With less vigilance being placed on the independence of the media, readers began to drift away – and, more importantly, new (young) readers are not emerging. Given the lack of good quality information, news and open discussion, and the sensational form in which the official news bulletins are delivered, there is now not much different between them and the entertaining popular news and information shows on TV that have been growing in popularity, especially among the 25 to 35 year olds.

Apart from these alternative programs, other more specialised or in-depth news and information can be gathered from the internet, according to the customer's own choice of favourite journalist/newspaper. While this is an excellent development, finding the right news and distributing it is a daunting task that is not undertaken by many. This offers a great business opportunity for quality news media.

Newspapers will have to review their structural arrangements and I believe that their added value is in content and not in printing presses. A structural separation is needed and the content business should be media-independent – in other words, news and information should be provided in whatever format the customer fancies (and is willing to pay for). This will most likely be a combination of text, video and audio – in other words, internet, broadband TV and podcasts.

My advice to many media companies has been to train their journalists to be multimedia journalists. The journalist should be able to generate a text article from an interview, also put the interview (or a summary) on video and make audio versions available as well. A range of other services can be built around the news sites, including a dissemination of overseas news.

Newspapers should offer different services to different customers, based on what the customer is interested in – niche market segmentation to such an extent that journalists can interact with their readers. Personal briefings from expert journalists and other services should be developed around this concept.

The actual distribution of these services can be outsourced to the appropriate infrastructure providers (printers, internet companies, broadband TV, mobile services, etc). There is no need for media companies to own these infrastructures and it certainly is not appropriate to own only one of these sources, the printing presses. The old newspaper model hinders these media companies from becoming truly infrastructure independent and selecting the right distribution model for the right customers.

By sacking journalists rather than outsourcing the printing, John Fairfax is cutting into its core business and endangering its future. Instead the company should show less interest in printed media services and look at how it can make structural changes to free itself up and allow itself more open-minded consideration of alternative business models.

I recognise that the company has been looking at new models, but this has been done in an ad hoc, add-on kind of way. This needs to become its core business model and newspapers – which are currently declining as a business segment – should be an element of this. Now I would be the last one to say that this will be easy, but I am convinced that the future of companies such as John Fairfax lies in content and not in presses and I believe they should start working seriously towards a new future.

John Fairfax is a quality media company and it will be that quality that secures its future position in the new media. Anybody can deliver mediocre products and there are plenty of them already; however quality products are going to be at a premium – they will be sought after by customers. Permission-based marketing models, based on one-to-one advertising, can support this model and will also offer an excellent new product for advertisers.

Quality is needed, not just in the actual content but also in the intellectual skills necessary to effectively select news and information, package it and deliver it to customers. Only media organisations of high standing will be trusted by the customers to do this for them and I can see a very clear spot for John Fairfax here. It hurts to see this first-rate company going downhill. Drastic action is needed to turn this around and making severe cuts to its core business (its journalists) is, in my opinion, the wrong way to go about it.