Monthly Archives: January 2011

Now you see them, now you don’t

Peter Ryan, Deputy Premier of Victoria and Minister Police and Emergency Services, reveals his government’s priority on matters of road safety:

Cameras save lives. The Coalition Government is going to do all it can to instil (sic) that belief in the minds of Victorian motorists.

I’d have thought they might concentrate on a message to positively effect driver behaviour on the road, like “speed kills” or “concentrate while driving” or something like that, but advocating for voters to think more kindly of cameras is, you know, interesting too.

So unappreciated.

Meanwhile, there appears to be some confusion over what precisely Ryan is going to do about revealing the location of hidden cameras. The Herald Sun seems to think it’s going to be allowed to reveal all of them:

One measure of openness Mr Ryan is introducing today is to honour an election campaign pledge to allow the Herald Sun to reveal the location of previously secret mobile speed camera sites.

This welcome transparency about the siting of speed cameras will help ensure they are not placed in inappropriate areas. And if any motorist thinks any of the sites is inappropriate, they can take their concerns to the independent traffic camera commissioner.

Whereas Ryan seems to be saying that he sees a role for hidden cameras, too:

In the case of the detection of speeding motorists, police presence needs to be combined with a degree of covert police activity so that those who persistently flout the law are rightly caught.

So… that would be a no then? Even though the Herald Sun is convinced it’s a yes?

Look, are there going to be hidden cameras or not? If so, then how will motorists be able to object to “inappropriately” placed ones? If not, then how will police stop motorists “who persistently flout the law” in any area they know has no cameras?

Something there just doesn’t add up.

Republicans: some rape victims should be forced to have their rapist’s baby

This is actually a thing they are doing:

Rape is only really rape if it involves force. So says the new House Republican majority as it now moves to change abortion law.

For years, federal laws restricting the use of government funds to pay for abortions have included exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. (Another exemption covers pregnancies that could endanger the life of the woman.) But the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” a bill with 173 mostly Republican co-sponsors that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has dubbed a top priority in the new Congress, contains a provision that would rewrite the rules to limit drastically the definition of rape and incest in these cases.

With this legislation, which was introduced last week by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Republicans propose that the rape exemption be limited to “forcible rape.” This would rule out federal assistance for abortions in many rape cases, including instances of statutory rape, many of which are non-forcible. For example: If a 13-year-old girl is impregnated by a 24-year-old adult, she would no longer qualify to have Medicaid pay for an abortion.

So… some rapes don’t count?

Hey, if you don’t have bruises and a black eye then you didn’t say no hard enough.

Seriously, this is a political party people actually vote for?

Then someone will say what is lost can never be saved

Pretty much my idea of hell.

I hardly thought it was an accident, but some researcher at University College London has confirmed what should have long been evident to anyone who’d ever found themselves hunting for an exit there: IKEA deliberately “traps” customers in a carefully laid-out maze:

The path is “effectively their catalog in physical form” says Penn. “You’re directed through their marketplace area where a staggering amount of purchases are impulse buys, things like light bulbs or a cheap casserole that you weren’t planning on getting … Because the layout is so confusing you know you won’t be able to go back and get it later, so you pop it in your [cart] as you go past.”

That might seem like genius to IKEA headquarters, but it’s also the reason I never go to their ridiculous stores. Hopefully the customers they’ve driven off with this cynical contempt outnumber the customers who’ve bought a stupid extra widget they didn’t need. Wouldn’t it be nice if treating customers with respect was something capitalism rewarded, and the inverse something it punished?

When we said “poor Queenslanders” we didn’t mean we’d be happy to pay to help rebuild

Extraordinary, the very week of Australia Day, how pathetic some people are being about the idea of paying a levy to help rebuild Queensland after the floods.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said he strongly opposed the flood levy, and the clean-up could be paid for by spending cuts.

…which he refused to specify, other than abandoning any Labor program that he’s duty bound to whinge about. (No, no, 3G wireless is a broadband network! Really it is!)

“If the Rudd-Gillard Government hadn’t so recklessly squandered the surplus left to it by the Howard government, it would now be in a position to respond effectively to the floods without a new tax,” Mr Abbott writes in today’s Herald Sun.


“Families that are already struggling with higher grocery and electricity costs are going to be hit again by tax increases.”

Families on less than $50k each won’t pay the tax at all, and those on an average income will pay about $90. I know! To Queenslanders! Isn’t it outrageous? Why can’t it be paid for by making life even harder for the poor, eh?

Readers of Brisbane’s Courier Mail are happy to chip in.

Mr Abbott said people who had made donations, volunteered for the clean-up, and even flood victims, would be forced to pay the tax.

No, Tony Abbott is quite wrong: flood victims will not pay the tax. Anyone who received the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment (which was not means-tested) will not have to pay the tax. (I think the wealthier ones should, but the ALP’s decided to make ALL flood victims immune.)

As for those who made donations, or helped clean up – well, Mr Abbott has a point. Naturally those who cared enough about Queenslanders’ plight to send money voluntarily or help clean up will be absolutely outraged at joining in with everyone else in funding the recovery. Making a donation or helping cleanup is, of course, only done in the expectation of not having to do anything else and pre-empting any possible levy.

No, seriously, we actually shouldn’t have needed to make donations at all – we as a country should have a properly-funded disaster relief fund paid for out of our taxes such that our fellow citizens can rely on government support in such times without relying on charity. Charity is optional – making sure every Australian is properly looked after in such times shouldn’t be. But, failing that, this levy after the fact is the least we can do – if you didn’t think it’s a good cause, then why did you make so much noise about caring about the flood victims at the time? Put your money where your mouth is.

The programs being cut to maintain the surplus are another thing entirely, of course – if they were good and important programs in the first place, we should cop a short-term deficit to pay for them, not throw them aside. Surpluses are NOT the primary determinant of “good economic management”, and it’s high time Labor tackled that lie head-on.

UPDATE: Strikethrough paragraph removed because it made the rest of the post look like an update.

Elsewhere – Tory Shepherd at the Punch declares that “By all that’s unholy, Australians hate paying taxes” and suggests a reason for the feeling of outrage:

Our taxes pay for the Government to take care of people – through unemployment, social services and universal healthcare. So we assume it’s all taken care of already. What a rude shock then, to work out there apparently isn’t enough elasticity in the system to take care of this. We feel like they’ve pissed our hard-earned cash up against the wall.

We thought it was all sorted.

It should have been. Problem is, we keep demanding tax cuts so it isn’t. I suppose the same people who whinge about every tax are shocked when they discover there’s no national dental scheme. But those taxes I avoided paying and demanded the government not charge me were supposed to pay for that!

Meanwhile, apparently we object to being “forced” to look after each other. Those of us who’d happily help the flood victims voluntarily are apparently outraged at the thought of the uncharitable being compelled to do likewise, if you believe the line being fed to us.

Spotted on a t-shirt in Cronulla

Me, elsewhere

The two previous posts both have updates referring to me-related content elsewhere:

And to top it all off, this blog features a self-promoting stub of a post all about stuff I’m doing elsewhere! Yes, I never stop giving.

We Aussie patriots only came to the conclusion that this is “the best country on Earth” after careful study and research

Once again, only a few days before Australia Day, the ABC publishes the views of a traitor:

I know there are those who think it a form of disloyalty to not believe that Australia is the greatest country on earth. Certainly, they have their counterparts across the world. There is a strange correlation between being born in a country and believing that it is the greatest country in the world. This hasn’t yet given pause to the super-patriots here and elsewhere. Yet this is suggestive that patriotic fervour is not always entirely rational, or motivated by a sober evaluation of the merits and flaws of one’s homeland.

Oh, and I suppose Mr Brull also thinks it’s revealing that the vast majority of religious people happen to have chosen the religion of either their country or their family (or both).

Correlation does not equal causation, mate. I bet if the patriotic Aussies had been born in America, they’d still have grown up declaring Australia “the best country on Earth”. Just like if Jim Wallace had grown up in Iran to a Muslim family, he’d DEFINITELY still be a fundamentalist Christian because his chosen religion is the result of years of careful research and study. Seriously, we’ve watched TV programs about other countries. Jim met a Jew once.

To suggest patriotism is as shallow and empty as “I like the people and places I know and I’d like to feel special and virtuous for having this ordinary human feeling” is beneath contempt.

Time for us to dismantle the ABC for publishing it.

UPDATE (25/1): Dave and I discuss what’s great about this country in a special, early edition of The Pure Poison Podcast.