Monthly Archives: September 2009

It’s not their race that worries the regulator, it’s the nasty, oppressive, overly-powerful government to which they’re attached

A Liberal party donor who was apparently hoping for some sweet Chinese cash that may not now be coming, comes out swinging:

Billionaire mining magnate Clive Palmer has launched a scathing attack on the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB), labelling it racist.

Australia’s foreign investment regulator has expressed a desire to cap the level of Chinese investment in local projects.

Is any action directed at limiting efforts by a particular aggressive foreign government to control national resources “racist”? Or is considering these issues entirely reasonable, and just what every government – including the Chinese government – does? Does the Liberal Party actually advocate something different, or do they agree with the Government – in which case, does Mr Palmer think they’re “racist”, too, and will he be withdrawing his support?

PS You can see how Mr Palmer made his billions: with shining wit like this, who could resist his business overtures?

“I must say to the Treasurer Wayne Goose, Wayne Swan – I knew he was a water fowl of some description – I object to that as an Australian citizen too,” he said.

It’s funny because the name “Swan” has another meaning.

But what if they stopped speeding?

It’s good to hear that the state has moved to a velocity-based taxation system, but I’m concerned that this might not be sustainable in the long term. Just as when taxation was based on income, tax-avoiders made a point of keeping their “taxable income” as low as possible, present velocity-based taxpayers may well start cheating the system by keeping to the posted speed limits.

That would destroy this fantastic development, quick-smart. The only solution is for the government to rapidly expand its Stupidly Low Posted Speed Limits program, its brilliant method of ensuring an infinite source of infringement tickets. This policy, which involves constantly reducing the rate at which drivers may travel ever further below what is necessary merely to keep the roads reasonably safe, has made some spectacular strides forward in the past decade.

But it can, and must, go further. If drivers actually start abiding by 50kph limits on long, straight, open suburban streets with good visibility – drop it to 40. If they obey 40 – drop it to 30. Hell, if we reduce it all the way to below walking speed, people will get rid of their cars and walk. Meaning that, in addition to reducing deaths on our roads to nothing, we’ll have made a huge blow in the fight against air pollution, climate change and oil dependency.

Of course, the economy would collapse because no-one would be able to get anywhere – but surely that’s a small price to pay for an incredible end to all road trauma. I’m certainly willing to give up the convenience of modern transport in exchange for absolute safety on the roads I wouldn’t use any more. Aren’t you?

How ludicrously unfair is this?

I’ve written about this before, but I hadn’t realised just how much of a difference it really was.

Two jobseekers on NewStart sharing a house. (Because you can hardly afford to rent a whole place on your own on that payment.) Total payment per fortnight between the two of them: $912 ($228 each per week).

They have sex. They call each other partner. Centrelink assumes that, miraculously, living has suddenly become magically much, much cheaper! Their payments are immediately cut by $99 in that fortnight – more than 10 percent – to $813 ($205.75 each per week).

Tell me how that makes even the remotest amount of sense. Good thing they’re sharing a bed (possibly) – now they’ve had to disconnect the heater to make ends meet, they’ll need to huddle together to stay warm.

Being hated by lying crooks is rather a compliment, actually

I see those lying scumbags at “GreensWatch” have returned, spreading outrageously defamatory lies and hiding behind a US ISP and the fatuous line that they don’t break electoral law by refusing to disclose who they are because, they bizarrely claim, no-one’s “paid”. (Yes, apparently they’re pitching their site at the moronically credulous who would believe that the commercial US ISP doesn’t require payment to host them.)

Obviously, you can tell the credibility of their allegations by how willing they are to stand behind them. We’re no-one! We’re above the law! We’re beyond the law! We can make up any revoltingly false garbage we like and disappear mysteriously into the night!

Whatever you may think of the Greens, you’d have to concede that the fact that such loathsome, cowardly crooks as the people behind “GreensWatch” hate them so much, and devote so much time and effort to trying to hurt them, and that they’re forced to dissemble and outright lie to do it, is a fairly ringing endorsement. Vote for the Greens – it’s what Australian politics’ dirtiest players fear the most!

The Greens must be doing something right.

UPDATE: Well, downdate really. Looks like I wrote something very similar last time they came up, and looked at the s328 issue then. In fact, that post is what prompted their lame disclaimer.

Turns out you can entirely block something unpleasant from your memory, after all!

Pride comes before utter, utter shame

The saddest part of the “iSnack 2.0″ debacle? The unbelievably misplaced and tragically unaware pride apparently held by the guy who came up with the name:

The winner of the contest, West Australian web designer Dean Robbins, 27, told The Sun Herald: ”It’s been difficult to contain my excitement; I actually leapt out of my chair when I heard the news. To think that I could go down in Australia’s history is overwhelming.”

Poor iDean 2.0. He’s in for a very disappointing time.

UPDATE: Do you think he gets it yet?

Lily Allen demands internet accounts be suspended; internet is mean to her in return

Lily Allen correctly notes that musicians today are not “rich”. She bizarrely, madly blames this on piracy, rather than the publishers which leave artists with a pathetic 8% or so of revenue from sales. Apparently unable to cope with the new model – where musicians earn their royalties from their songs being played on the radio, which serve as an advertisement for their live concerts – she turns around and argues that the British government should implement the constitutionally-flawed due-process-abandoning internet disconnection on industry complaint scheme.

She is rightly lambasted for this, particularly once it becomes apparent that she herself “pirated” songs in her youth (thereby demonstrating that her own musical output was partly influenced by open access to other people’s music) and, until recently, hosted them on her own site.

Then she cracks a sook and claims she’s going to “quit music for acting”. While people are prepared to pay a hundred quid or so each to see her perform, we’ll see how long that resolve lasts. She quickly deletes her blog advocating disconnecting people from the internet, because internet-users are “abusive”.

Lily, there is something horribly wrong with music today – but it’s not the “pirates”. It’s the bastards who are blaming your pitiful cut on the pirates whilst pocketing many, many times more per song of yours than you’ll ever see. They’re selling you a con.

It’s pretty embarrassing for you – and the other “artists” who’ve signed on – that you bought it. And it’s tragic that you burnt your reputations to promote it.

If you weren’t trying to do something so stupid and vindictive to people you’ve never met, I’d feel very sorry for you.

PS Good thing Andrew Bolt’s away. He’d be torn between approving of Allen being a sop for the big corporate music industry, and his pre-existing contempt for her for writing sweary songs about GWB.

UPDATE: Via LGWS, a musician’s retort to Lily:

UPDATE #2: Well, that lasted a long time, didn’t it?

Prediction

The AFL Grand Final will be won by a group of footballers with whom I have nothing whatsoever in common but who wear a specifically-coloured outfit, who will defeat a different group of footballers with whom I have nothing whatsoever in common but who wear a differently-coloured outfit.

Once again, I can’t wait to see what happens.

UPDATE: I was right! If only St Kilda had thought to kick more goals. They must be kicking themselves.

The fools… The mad fools.

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From Dr Strangelove, in 1964:

Ambassador DeSadeski: The fools… the mad fools.
President Muffley: What’s happened?
DeSadeski: The doomsday machine.
Muffley: The doomsday machine? What is that?
DeSadeski: A device which will destroy all human and animal life on earth.
Muffley: All human and animal life? … I’m afraid I don’t understand something, Alexiy. Is the Premier threatening to explode this if our planes carry out their attack?
DeSadeski: No sir. It is not a thing a sane man would do. The doomsday machine is designed to to trigger itself automatically.
Muffley: But surely you can disarm it somehow.
DeSadeski: No. It is designed to explode if any attempt is ever made to untrigger it.
Muffley: Automatically? … But, how is it possible for this thing to be triggered automatically, and at the same time impossible to untrigger?
Strangelove: Mr. President, it is not only possible, it is essential. That is the whole idea of this machine, you know. Deterrence is the art of producing in the mind of the enemy… the fear to attack. And so, because of the automated and irrevocable decision making process which rules out human meddling, the doomsday machine is terrifying. It’s simple to understand. And completely credible, and convincing.
Turgidson: Gee, I wish we had one of them doomsday machines, Stainsy.
Muffley: But this is fantastic, Strangelove. How can it be triggered automatically?
Strangelove: Well, it’s remarkably simple to do that. When you merely wish to bury bombs, there is no limit to the size. After that they are connected to a gigantic complex of computers. Now then, a specific and clearly defined set of circumstances, under which the bombs are to be exploded, is programmed into a tape memory bank. … Yes, but the… whole point of the doomsday machine… is lost… if you keep it a secret! Why didn’t you tell the world, eh?
DeSadeski: It was to be announced at the Party Congress on Monday. As you know, the Premier loves surprises.

From Wired, this week:

Russia’s doomsday machine. That’s right, an actual doomsday device—a real, functioning version of the ultimate weapon… Turns out Yarynich, a 30-year veteran of the Soviet Strategic Rocket Forces and Soviet General Staff, helped build one.

The point of the system, he explains, was to guarantee an automatic Soviet response to an American nuclear strike. Even if the US crippled the USSR with a surprise attack, the Soviets could still hit back. It wouldn’t matter if the US blew up the Kremlin, took out the defense ministry, severed the communications network, and killed everyone with stars on their shoulders. Ground-based sensors would detect that a devastating blow had been struck and a counterattack would be launched.

The technical name was Perimeter, but some called it Mertvaya Ruka, or Dead Hand. It was built 25 years ago and remained a closely guarded secret. With the demise of the USSR, word of the system did leak out, but few people seemed to notice. In fact, though Yarynich and a former Minuteman launch officer named Bruce Blair have been writing about Perimeter since 1993 in numerous books and newspaper articles, its existence has not penetrated the public mind or the corridors of power. The Russians still won’t discuss it, and Americans at the highest levels—including former top officials at the State Department and White House—say they’ve never heard of it. When I recently told former CIA director James Woolsey that the USSR had built a doomsday device, his eyes grew cold. “I hope to God the Soviets were more sensible than that.” They weren’t.

It’s not quite the same as the fictional Premier Kissov’s scheme, but – damn. And it’s still being upgraded.

ELSEWHERE: Talking of worrying automated systems

Twitter: sometimes you want to follow a topic, sometimes you don’t

Twitter has many strengths, one of which is the ability to watch and participate in conversations on current events live, whether you know the other people or not. The way it does that is with topics preceded by a hash-tag. Say I’m one of the two or three people interested in today’s Grand Final, I can comment as it goes and end my tweets with #grandfinal, so anyone wanting to know what people are saying about the Grand Final at that moment will find my incisive condemnation of that stupid umpire/the thugs on the other side/my team pissfarting around with the ball at the wrong end*, right there.

The problem with this is that if you’re following a number of people interested in the same event (with the party animals I follow it’s more likely to be question time, #qt, but the point’s the same) then your twitter feed will be drowned out with those topics when the event’s taking place.

My suggestion is this: Twitter – or one of the many Twitter clients, at least – should implement a means of selecting a particular topic and NOT receiving those tweets, until you choose to re-enable them. That would mean you could keep GO HARLEY in touch without SEND HIM OFF being interrupted every RIEWOLDT SUCKS few moments by WHAT THE HELL IS THOMPSON DOING random crap duplicated DOES THOMPSON HAVE A PLAN OR WHAT a dozen times.

So, you know. Some enterprising person with technical skills should do that.

*This might not happen with the teams playing today; I barrack for Melbourne. Melbourne supporters are reduced to taking pleasure in the fact that our team managed to field a complete set of players in every match this year and even kick a few goals. We’re easy to please.

NOTE: “Twitter is stupid”, “I don’t get Twitter”, “What’s the point?” comments are off-topic and will be deleted on the basis that they’re a waste of everyone’s time. Like Twitter.

Stop asking stupid questions

Via Hoyden, the news that smacking children apparently “lowers their IQ”.

After studying 800 toddlers aged between two and four over a four-year period, he found those who were subjected to smacking had an IQ five points lower than that of a child who wasn’t physically disciplined.

An alternative conclusion: intelligence has a genetic correlation and it’s stupider parents who beat their children.

Anyway, talking of stupid, this reminded me of New Zealand’s recent abortive citizen initiated referendum on the subject, and a discussion I’d been meaning to have here on their bizarre system.

In NZ, you don’t need a referendum to amend the Constitution – it could be done with a simple Act of Parliament. No, when the people are asked by the government to answer a specific question in NZ, it’s via a non-binding system which costs millions of dollars and involves poorly-worded questions framed by cranks being expensively put and then the results being ignored by the government.

They’ve had three so far -

  • “Should the number of professional fire-fighters employed full-time in the New Zealand Fire Service be reduced below the number employed in 1 January 1995?” (Framed as a negative question because it’s easier to get people to vote “no”, even though that meant that the “yes” side was defending a proposition it didn’t propose – hardly any turnout, ignored.)

  • “Should the size of the House of Representatives be reduced from 120 members to 99 members?” (Passed, a decade later still not implemented – raising another question: should there be a time limit? Should laws be enacted based on something the electorate said ten years ago?)
  • And the spectacularly vague – “Should there be a reform of our Justice system placing greater emphasis on the needs of victims, providing restitution and compensation for them and imposing minimum sentences and hard labour for all serious violent offences?” (Four questions in one; meaningless, ignored.)

I know what question I’d put up for a Citizen Initiated Referendum if I lived in NZ:

“Should the Government continue to waste public money on poorly-worded Citizen Initiated Referenda?”

I’d greatly enjoy watching the “yes” campaign tie itself in knots defending that.