December 21, 2009

Horse 1061 - St Mary McKillop... why?

News this weekend broke that Mary McKillop has fulfilled the relevant criteria for canonisation as a saint. This post is broken into two parts:

Part A - The Serious Bit.

Not being a Catholic myself, I find the whole question of sainthood somewhat perplexing. Was this the Catholic Church trying to wedge itself into the pantheon of existing Roman life? The theory goes that you can pray to whatever saint for this or that and they will intercede on your behalf, notwithstanding the fact that dead people are dead and can not do anything, and thanks to Christ himself, the curtain was opened and Christians come to the Father through him - I am The Way, the Truth and the Life, no man comes to the Father except by Me.
Doctrinally it simply makes no sense.

There is of course the blatantly obvious question of just what is a saint in the first place. The usual Greek word for "saints" in the New Testament is the word Hagion, which roughly translated simply means "the Holy Ones". Ephesians 6:18 is an exhortation to keep on praying for all the saints, which if you were to believe the Catholic Church's limited rendering of the word would imply that we are to pray for those people who have been canonised as a saint.
This also doctrinally makes no sense.

Even the word "saint" itself is derived from the Latin "sanctus", from which we get the word sanctify and all related words. Sanctification by definition is being set apart for some special use. The letter to the Hebrews (10:10) again implies that this setting apart is common of all Christians and not just those selected by some internal church process. "And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."

It seems to me that this whole business of canonisation is a bit silly. On the other hand the idea of having heroes and people to look up to probably is a good idea. Society generally has heroes like Don Bradman, George Washington, Winston Churchill, David Beckham, Ludwig Van Beethoven etc and whatever, but the idea that you can pray to them and expect some sort of result is preposterous.

Part B - The Not Serious Bit.

Admittedly the whole idea of "Sainthood" and that you can pray to them is ridiculous, biblically flawed and utterly stupid, but if we absolutely must must must make Mary McKillop a saint, it stand to reason that she should be the patron saint of something.

St Honorius is the patron saint of bakers and confectioners. St James is the patron saint of judges... and David Jones city stores... and Newcastle United Football Club. St Martin is the patron saint of drunkards (how appropriate that the Commonwealth Law Courts in Sydney be between St James Station and Martin Place). St Christopher is the patron saint of travelling. St Andrew is the patron saint of old maids. St Erasmus is the patron saint of seasickness... etc etc etc.

It follows that St Mary McKillop should be the patron saint of something uniquely Australian, like the Barbecue, so that your snags could be done properly instead of burnt on the outside and raw in the middle. Perhaps she could be patron saint of the Hills Hoist, to make sure that it doesn't rain on your washing, or birds don't do their business on it.
No, on reflection there is only one thing that St Mary McKillop should be the patron saint of and that is football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars. Let's face it we already have the hymn to go with it. And let's make it a public holiday, because that would be traditionally Australian, having a public holiday for things no-one cares about... like Labour Day, or Queen's Birthday... or Christmas... er... hmm.

December 15, 2009

Horse 1060 - Hamas' 22nd Birthday

December 14 is a day which to be totally fair should hang in infamy, for December 14 is the anniversary of the formation of Hamas, a is a "Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement" (their words) or what I would call a very well organised socio-political terrorist organization.

We find that that prize goof Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has come out in support of Hamas, followed by an official meeting in Tehran.
Meanwhile, Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshal met in Tehran with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday. The Iranian president stressed his support for Hamas, saying, "The Iranian government and the Iranian people will always stand by the Palestinians and the Palestinian resistance.
Today Palestine is a symbol of the world-wide front of those who seek liberty from the militants," he said. Ahmadinejad said Iran doesn't recognize Israel's right to exist, and supports Hamas and Hezbollah.

Lets just look at that again... Ahmadinejad said Iran doesn't recognize Israel's right to exist, and supports Hamas and Hezbollah. What?

Hamas has in as many words as one of its objectives, the destruction of Israel.
On the Destruction of Israel:
"Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it."

This is the part where usually I'd quote the bible and show that because of a promise to Abraham, that the land belongs to Israel, however on this occasion I'm not going to do this. I shall choose a source which in theory an Islamic Resitance Movement should follow; this would be none other that the Qu'ran itself.

Sura 5:20-21
Recall that Moses said to his people (the Jews), “O my people, remember GOD’s blessings upon you: He appointed prophets from among you, made you kings, and granted you what He never granted any other people.
“O my people, enter the holy land (Israel) that GOD has decreed for you, and do not rebel, lest you become losers.”

Sura 17:104
And We said thereafter to the Children of Israel, “Dwell securely in the land (of promise)”: but when the second of the warnings came to pass, We gathered you together in a mingled crowd.

According to even the Qu'ran itself the land belongs to Israel because of the promise to Moses, then Abraham and then Issac. What I would really like is for an Islamic scholar to try to prove otherwise. If they try to invoke the principle that Israel vacated the land and were conquered, then by rights the land should belong to Great Britain, because they re-conquered it and won it as a spoil of victory by General Allenby, with the British Mandate and occupation taking place from 1917 onwards. If to the victor goes the spoils then its their decision as to what to do with those spoils.

This rubbish about returning the country to so-called pre-1967 borders is to be honest a load of highly refined bull twaddle. The truth is (and Hamas never admits this) is that the proposed 1919 borders which were totally enclosed by the British Mandate included the Negev, both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, a zone to the east of the Jordan and extending into the Lebanon and the Golan heights.

So Hamas, on this your anniversary, I don't support you, the Qu'ran doesn't support you and even history doesn't support you. The only people who do... are madmen.

December 14, 2009

Horse 1059 - Merry Christmas to You... Whoever You Are...

Walking around Westfield on Saturday, I noticed three things. The first was that people seem to be in some sort of race to either be as lardy as possible and dress as tackily as possible (I'm sorry but the OED has no variation listed for this) and the other two things were to do with Christmas.

I'm guessing that the Italian chocolatier Ferrero SpA (the same people who make Nutella and Tic Tac) must be going out of business or have a massive stock surplus, for sitting out the front of both Big W and Target were pallet sized arrangements of the not very nice chocolate Ferrero Rocher.
Someone at the company must've have a field day, because now instead of just three in a packet, I've seen plastic boxes of 27 and even a pyramid of 56 of the damn things. They're obviously intended as what former PM John Howard would have called an "aspirational" product, but fail to deliver on that aspiration.

The other virtually ubiquitous item at this time of year is the Gift Card. There are Gift Cards for a range of department stores, supermarkets, music stores, hardware, bookshops, even stationery shops and worst of all, Westfield itself!

Admittedly if you were 10 years old, getting money for Christmas is like winning the lottery and perhaps getting a gift card is better than giving a gift to someone that they really don't want, but really a gift card should be used only and only as a last resort if you still haven’t found something for someone, because nothing says “I know nothing about you” like a gift card, or a box of Ferrero Rocher.

December 10, 2009

Brilliance in Utter Madness

This is where utter madness lives. Forget the V8 Supercars and their attempts for the rather placid "Car of the Future", the Group B Rally Cars had in some cases over 700bhp coming out of just 1.6L. They were turbocharged to the eyeballs and threatened to explode at any given moment.

This is Crazy-Go-Nuts stuff... common-sense was left behind when they made these cars.

December 09, 2009

Horse 1058 - The Metro "We Don't Want"... apparently.

The train on plaftform number 5 is for all stations to Rogans Hill. First stop Mons Road, then Northmead, Moxham Road, Model Farms Road, Junction Road, Baulkham Hills, Cross Street, Southleigh, Parsonage Lane, Castle Hill, and Rogans Hill.

I personally have never heard this announcement. In fact I would struggle to find anyone who remembers hearing this announcement. The reason for this, is that the last time anyone would have heard this come over the loudspeakers, would have been on the last day of operation of the Rogans Hill Line on 31 January 1932.
As a result and more than 77 years later, the residents of Castle Hill now sit in traffic on the M2 for several hours trying to get work.

The day after Kristina Keneally became the new Premier of NSW, the Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell, again made it clear that he would oppose all new plans for any Metro Line, and urged her to scrap plans for the proposed CBD Metro in whatever form that takes.
"She needs to scrap the metro that no one wants. It's simply incredible, even within her first day, the former planning minister doesn't seem to have a view as to whether this metro is to proceed or not. It raises real concerns about who's making the decisions." - Barry O'Farrell, 4th Dec 2009 (from ABC Radio).

I really wonder whether or not Mr O'Farrell has actually been anywhere Castle Hill. As the member for Kuring-Gai his electorate enjoys the benfits of a free expressway and two railway lines. In fact to tie this story into the absurd, in 1932 just seven weeks after Castle Hill was cut off from the rail network, the electorate of Kuring-Gai was better connected to it by the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Let's think for a minute about the roadway across that grand bridge. The name of that road is the Bradfield Highway, named after the visionary John Bradfield. Bradfield's original plans for an underground railway included a city loop and a line out to the eastern suburbs as well as several other proposals which were never acted upon. Actually when it comes to those 1915 plans, it only took 41 years to see the city loop built and 64 years for the Eastern Suburbs Line to be half built so perhaps there's hope yet.
(Just check out Woolahra Station... they might build it in my lifetime... maybe)

New South Wales has had many plans over the years for railway lines to be built. So far during this century, we've had 8 of them, so sooner or later one of them is bound to come to fruition. It's just not while or if Barry O'Farrell comes to power, and probably not for the rest of the life of the current Labour Government.

All those people in their cars stuck in traffic on the M2 don't really want a new metro scheme... they just want someone to fix the mistakes that every single government since 1932 has made and put back their old train lines.

December 07, 2009

Horse 1057 - Winning Through Playing Actual Football. Who'da Thunk It?

The World Cup draw was released on Saturday Morning our time and already the daily newspapers are crying blue murder about the fact the somehow Australia has got either a "horror" or "shock" draw. This simply isn't true.

It was always going to be the case by virtue of how the process is drawn that every group is going to have a seeded team in it. Apart from South Africa which was always going to be in Group A as A1, every other group would have one of the seven teams from Brazil, Spain, Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Argentina and England (and of those, five are previous World Cup winners).

The challenge for Australia this time around, does not really lie in who is in our group, but rather the order of the game which they are played in.

If you cast your mind back to 2006, Australia played Japan first up. It was those tremendous six minutes at the end which determined how the game against Brazil was going to be played. To be honest Australia was never going to beat Brazil but if it had lost against Japan, then it would have been fighting far harder for the remaining matches, rather than playing a simple containment strategy against Brazil.

Because Germany is first up, Australia will need to open the campaign from the outset with a set of measured tactics. Merely being the "underdog" and hoping to play on the strength of that is not enough, because to be perfectly fair Germany are always playing against "underdogs" and will be looking for a kill first up.
If Australia loses against Germany, then the matches against firstly Ghana and then Serbia will be played chasing their tail.

One of the advantages that Australia had in Germany 06 was that most nations went prepared for the heat, and Guus Hiddink had deliberately trained for this; it showed when during the last 20 minutes whilst other side would wilt, Australia did not.
This time around however, every side will not only be training for the heat but also for the change in altitude at some venues. Whereas Australia tends to play a more physical game, Ghana and Serbia aren't really known for their technical prowess, and so this time around this also isn't an advantage.

No, Australia's World Cup campaign in South Africa 2010 will not be characterised by the underdog spirit. I'm afraid that Pim Verbeek will need to instill on his Australian side an "overdog" mindset (is that even a real word?) and impress upon whomever dons the Australian golden kit in 2010 that the only way to win matches is by going out and actually playing proper football.

Now there's a strange thought, winning by playing good football. Have we ever done that before?

December 04, 2009

Horse 1056 - The World's Fastest Car

Seeing as today is the first day of proceedings at the Sydney 500, I thought I'd ask the question:

"What is the fastest car you can buy in Australia?"

Is it the Bugatti Veyron? Maybe the Gumpert Apollo? Perhaps it's McLaren's gorgeous new MP4-12C?

Well, it's none of those.

What is it then?





Excited yet? Because I have a photo.






An ordinary Toyota Hiace.


Forget the Veyron, forget anything Italian, or even anything speedily efficient and German. The fastest car in Australia without a doubt is the Toyota Hiace.

Whislt the Veyron can do 407km/h, and even Shelby's SSC Ultimate Aero TT claims to do 413km/h, this is absolutely nothing compared with the speeds attained by Hiaces driven through Sydney traffic on a Wednesday afternoon. Ok I admit that I don't have documented evidence, but from what I've seen the speeds that some of the cowboys who drive these things can get them up to, are only otherwise found inside the Large Hadron Collider. They must be approaching 3/4 of the speed of light.

Greg Murphy's VY Commodore may have been able to go around Bathurst in 2.06.8594 (a figure which I've committed to memory) but how fast would have he been able to do in a Hiace? 2.03? 2.02? 2.01? 1.33 even? The V8 Supercars may be discussing the Car of the Future but I bet they'd all be running scared if someone showed up with a Hiace.

Of course this may be taking it too far. There are rivals such as the Ford Transit, VW Transporter, Mitsubishi Express, the Renault Traffic, Fiat Ducato and the Mercedes-Benz Vito, which could all equally warp time and space as they slice through traffic. So I suppose that the only real requirement is that the van be white.

So then "What is the fastest car you can buy in Australia?" A white van, obviously.

December 03, 2009

Horse 1055 - The Car of the Future Must Look Cool

Actual designs are still some way off but V8 Supercars Australia (V8SA) has stated many times that the CotF will still look like Commodores and Falcons with working headlights and swinging panels.
“The Car of the Future is about evolution not revolution and hopefully now the teams have got some ideas on the direction of where we’re heading.I suspect we’ll start seeing something more concrete in the next few months.”
Ford Performance Racing principle, Tim Edwards said it was imperative that the CotF was implemented correctly rather than as quickly as possible.
“We have got to make sure we’ve got authentic looking cars, which is one of our key principles (compared to other motorsport categories),”

This is a story which I have been following for several months now, and to be honest it kind of ties in with my post yesterday. The Car of the Future (CoF) is presumably in the early stages of conceptualisation and will eventually show up in 2012. This post isn't about what is taking place but rather what I would like to see happen.

Currently the V8 Supercars have these tacky little numbers in the rear window. Now I ask you, is this even remotely helpful?

This photograph of Jamie Whincup shows clearly why the tacky little numbers in the rear window is a pointless idea. At speed how are you honestly expected to work out who it is? Second to that, the number itself is kind of like a brand. When you think of the most famous number in Australian motorsport, what springs to mind? If you said anything other than 05 then you need your head examined.

Peter Brock's 05 Torana is probably the single most iconic touring car in Australian motorsport history; why? Because:
a) you instantly know who it is
b) the car looks so brutal with its flared guards, drop tank, duck rear wing and reverse bonnet bulge
c) the paint scheme is elegantly simple and bold

To that end, I'd tell the V8 Supercars organisation to ditch all of the wings and aero devices on the current crop of cars and go back to something simpler and cooler; maybe take a leaf out of the old HDT's book?

Who wouldn't want to see this as the Car of the Future? It's got cool dripping off of it.

December 02, 2009

Horse 1054 - Ford vs Holden vs WhoCares

This came from the V8 Supercars race in Bahrain in 2007 and it illustrates a very interesting point. Although V8 Supercars has marketed itself as the "Ford vs Holden" battle, do the punters really care anymore?

There may have been blue murder dried when Craig Lowndes "defected" to Ford in 2000, but now in 2009 no-one even seems to bat an eyelid that 888 Engineering are taking their whole team across the divide to Holden. Perhaps also, the fans are ignorant that whilst in Australia 888 are switching to Holden, 888 in the UK have been dumped by another GM brand Vauxhall, and it is questionable whether they will even appear in the 2010 BTCC.

NASCAR has had three "all-American" manufacturers in the past and even they ran several brands with Chevrolet, Buick, Pontiac, Ford and Dodge all throwing their hat into the ring, but the introduction of Toyota hasn't really been met with the opposition that was predicted at all. In fact it came without much of a ripple at all.

Even in Australia when you ask people about what their favourite tin-top car of all time are, invariably the Holden A9X will come out on top because it looked so wild, or even Ford's big XC Falcon coupes that Moffat and Bond took to a 1-2 in 1977, but immediately after that you start getting answers like the Nissan GTR, the Dodge Charger, the Mazda RX-7 and even Kevin Bartlett's Channel 9 Camaro.

Would the fans' noses be put that far out of joint if there was a V8 Supercar BMW, or Mercedes-Benz? How about a Ferrari or a Jaguar? Or a Hyundai, Toyota, Kia or Subaru? To be honest, I don't think we'd notice much.

December 01, 2009

Horse 1053 - Kevin 11
Tony Abbott is the new leader of the Liberal Party after ousting Malcolm Turnbull by just one vote in a leadership vote today.
Mr Abbott won the final vote against Malcolm Turnbull by 42 votes to 41 after challenger Joe Hockey was knocked out in an earlier vote between all three candidates.

I am utterly astonished by this.

How would they intend to sort out their front bench now? There isn't one person who isn't the enemy of anyone else now, except for Julie Bishop who wasn't even nominated for the leadership because she either doesn't represent a serious threat to anyone or the only reason she's there is to sit opposite Julia Gillard.

Who honestly thinks that Abbott is PM material? They might just as well have given Kev a free ticket to the next election - KEVIN 11 is looking more likely. To be honest all that this suggests is that the Liberal Party is still in search of a leader, because I don't think that Abbott represents the sort of person who can pull the party together, let alone lead the country.

I assume that from here on, Turnbull will just be put on the backbench with the same for Joe Hockey. For Abbott it will be case of: "This is my new shadow cabinet. Meet Fred."

November 27, 2009

At the moment if you could kidnap the top 6 in the Liberal Party and hold them to ransom, you'd be lucky to get 50c.

November 25, 2009

Horse 1052 - 2012 is Bunk

Before the media decides to spin its wheels with hype about this 2012 movie or whatever it is, let me state quite categorically that the world will not end on December 21, 2012. I have documentary evidence to prove it.

1. Pepsi Perfect

"Huh? What's that?" I hear you ask... well actually I don't hear you ask since a) I don't know who you are and b) this is the medium of text and to be perfectly honest unless you have some sort of text-to-speech program then of itself text will not speak.
"Huh? What's that?" I hear metaphorically you ask... that's better.

I want you to cast your minds back to that brilliant documentary series Back to the Future; specifically in Part II when Marty McFly walks into the Cafe 80's and order said Pepsi Perfect (see below).

I ask you, how is Marty McFly able to walk into the Cafe 80's on October 26th, 2015, if the world had ended in 2012? Obviously 2012 was followed by 2013, 2014, 2015 etc.

2. People Cashing In

"Huh? What's that?"

I'm ready to take action! I'm tired of all the misinformation surrounding 2012.
I'm ready to learn the truth about 2012 and get real information. I understand that for the locked-in low price I'm getting unlimited and instant download access to the entire package...
bla bla bla, what is this really about? Ahah!
NOW: $49.95
Click Here To Pay By Credit Card

I'd like to ask you "Official Countdown" people, why you have the gall to charge people $49.95 for something that's unpreventable? In if fact the world is going to end on December 21, 2012 (and I note that no-one is even sure of the date of this) then isn't that money better off in everyone else's hand anyway? What you are in effect is stealing their money so that you can presumably live it up in the mean time.

I have heard all sorts of theories about why the world is going to end in 2012, and most of them revolve around the Mayan Long Calendar. Most sensibly Sandra Noble, the executive director of the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies in Crystal River, Fla. has said that to render Dec. 21, 2012, as a doomsday or moment of cosmic shifting is "a complete fabrication and a chance for a lot of people to cash in."

3. It Doesn't Make Sense

Logically the very existence of a doomsday implies that there is a supreme being / God / god(s). Using those same rules of logic, why would that supreme being tell of the time that they were going to return and end it all?

If anything that would by inference negate any cause to live moral, upright and just lives because just like a group of teenagers at home whilst their parents are away, it would give them the freedom to act exactly how they felt like and then just clean the place up at the last minute. Alternatively if there wasn't any hope for these people, then you'd have to assume that this supreme being was pretty heartless for creating humanity in the first place.
Logically it follows that actually telling humanity the date in which the world is coming to an end implies either that the supreme being is either stupid or heartless.

Thankfully this isn't the case:

Matthew 24:36-39
But the exact day and hour? No one knows that, not even heaven's angels, not even the Son. Only the Father knows. The Arrival of the Son of Man will take place in times like Noah's. Before the great flood everyone was carrying on as usual, having a good time right up to the day Noah boarded the ark. They knew nothing—until the flood hit and swept everything away.

"Huh? What's that?"

At this exact moment in time, everyone is pretty well much free to do whatever they like*... and be held accountable for it, because although December 21, 2012 probably isn't the date that Christ will return to judge the living and the dead, He is coming. The next question is what do you do about it? And is it appropriate?

*everyone was carrying on as usual, - that seems to be quite apt to describe what's going on right now eh?

November 23, 2009

Horse 1050a - additional

As quickly as Erin Jones' "Grant Blog" appeared, it is being pulled back into the scumspawn from whence it came. It is now a mass of white space, broken links and text. Which all goes to prove that a scam is still a scam...

or a great steaming pile of electronic kaka.

Horse 1051 - Stupid News for Stupid People

Mr Murdoch has spent the best part of the last fortnight having a giant whinge because people are accessing his news websites and aren't paying for the privilege. After attacking both the BBC and the ABC as well as Deutsche Welle and Japan's NHK, he now intends to place a so called "pay-wall" around his websites so that people can not gain access unless they pay. He has even threatened companies like Google and Yahoo that he intends to debar them from displaying News Corp news articles via their news feeds.

In Australia, people are most likely to get onto the internet via one of two service providers; those being Optusnet and Telstra Bigpond. People already pay their internet service provider to get onto the internet, why should consumers in principle be asked to then pay again?

My second question of Rupert is "Why do we want top pay?"

I had a look at the "Most Popular" box at and found the following:

1. Climate expert 'cheered' by Aussie's death
2. Facebook bikini photo 'cut insurance'
3. Bouncer's foot almost severed by machete
4. Australian Idol winner announced
5. Rann slams 'malicious' sex talk
6. New baby joy for mother of murdered trio
7. 'JFK nephew barred from communion'
8. ADHD guidelines pulled after drug scandal
9. Rare Charles Darwin book found in toilet
10. School mistress 'had sex with students'

To be honest I didn't even read any of them (nor do I intend to) but do any of these news stories seem like "quality journalism" to you? Mind you I do ask the question as to why these are the most popular? As time goes on, people are voluntarily reading less; and progressively becoming more stupid. The "Most Popular" stories at are the natural outcome of this.

Is that the fault of the media selling less intelligent crud, or is it the fault of society generally because they are not prepared to think? I still haven't worked out the answer to this.
Rupert Murdoch: The fact is there's not enough advertising in the world to go around to make all the websites profitable. We'd rather have fewer people coming to our website but paying.

The bottom line is the bottom line. Murdoch is after all a businessman and it does cost money to produce journalism; the fact remains that he does have the right to ask for payment for that product. In that respect, then taking money from stupid people is probably fine.

November 19, 2009

Horse 1050 - Erin's Amazing Grant Checks

I love it when spam comes through my inbox; I especially love it when the author of that spam clearly didn't bother to do any research at all. This then is said email:

My name is Erin and I'm from Sydney, Australia. I figured out a way to get free cash from grants. Here's the situation, each year billions in grants are given out to people like me and you. The thing is, most people don't think they qualify for a grant and never apply, this makes it easier for the people who actually try.

Below is a picture of the actual grant check I received in the mail:

Does anyone else see three critical errors with the email?

Firstly, before we even look at the the photograph itself, there is the certain problem of receiving a grant check from the government. We happen to live in Australia, and as such in Australia we don't actually have grant "checks", unless of course we are making sure something is correct, or perhaps threatening an opponent's king in chess. No, in Australia the instrument used to transfer monies from one person to another is a "cheque".

Since Samuel Johnson's A Dictionary of the English Language, published in 1755, the British Commonwealth more or less standardised its spelling of the word cheque, and the Americanism check didn't actually appear until Noah Webster's blatant vandalism of the English language with his American Dictionary of the English Language in 1828


Secondly, if you look at the picture supplied, this clearly does not look like any cheque ever written by the Reserve Bank of Australia. Grant Cheques would be brown in colour, they certainly do not feature the Australian flag on them, nor are they emblazoned with Maple Leaves and they most definately not endorsed by the Receiver General for Canada.


Thirdly, if you follow any of the links within the website (and I do mean website, for although it does say Erin's Grant Blog, it clearly isn't a blog, since there are no new posts, none of them are dated etc.) you are redirected to:

This website is plastered with the American Flag, the White House, and Benjamin Franklin's face smiling at us from several US $100 bills (I used that term in deference to the fact that in Australia, a banknote is a note and not a bill, since a bill is essentially a demand notice to pay).


So Miss Erin Jones (if that is indeed your real name), quite contrary to what you have suggested in that "If I can save you some time and grief, the stuff I did here is free to get started and took me a long time to research." you haven't done any research at all. In fact, me with barely 8 seconds of "research" have concluded, that your blog (which isn't a blog at all) is a) trying to sell me something and b) a great steaming pile of electronic kaka.

Of course it does suggest that the fact that I'm finding holes in spam, must mean that today is a very boring day indeed.

November 17, 2009

Horse 1049 - Silver Arrows

Mercedes-Benz will enter the Formula 1 World Championship with its own team, beginning with the 2010 season, and Daimler AG and McLaren Group will change their form of cooperation with effect as of 13 November 2009. This was announced by Daimler AG today.

Nobody wasted any time with this one. It seems as though the media people probably already have everything printed in lieu of the next international motor show. Ross Brawn must've known something and that's why he was cagey about his dealings with Richard Branson and his Virgin Group. As it is, it leaves Brawn GP as the most successful team in GP history, having secured the World Driver's Championship with Jensen Button and the World Constructors Championship for 2009, thus Brawn GP leave the sport being the only team in history with a 100% success record.

You can of course expect over the next few months images of Fangio and Moss though I suspect that they may want to sort of gloss over the events of the 1955 Le Mans 24 Hour Race when Pierre Levegh's Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR crashed and killed 84 spectators, and nor do I think that they'd show Mark Webber and Peter Dumbreck's mishaps in the 1999 Le Mans 24 Hour Race when they both flipped their Mercedes-Benz CLRs during the car's only competitive outing. Though the car which they'll most likely show will be 722, another Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR which Moss used to win the 1955 Mille Miglia and Targo Florio.

For me this is a trip down a Nostalgia Lane that had already been long demolished before I was even born. Mercedes had built some truly glorious Grand Prix cars in the 1930s but from 1955 until 1985 Mercedes-Benz' official involvement in motorsport was nil. It wasn't until 1995 that they returned to Formula One, and then they didn't really show their colours until 1996.

Speaking of that colour, the "Silberpfeile" or Silver Arrows, is a story which legend would suggest is pure accident and was the result of shaving off the paint from a Grand Prix car to make it comply with a weight limit. Whatever the case, both Audi and Mercedes-Benz both list Silberpfeil-Grau, or Silver Arrow Grey as a colour that they sell their road cars in, but as far as GP racing is concerned...

...the Silver Arrows are back.

November 09, 2009

Horse 1048 - When the Wall Came Down

The 9th of November 1989 will live long in people's memory as it was primarily a day of decreased geography, and when two countries once again became one.

The events of that cold day in Berlin meant little to me as an 11 year old. I was far away and safe on the other side of a television set, but I imagine that the effects of that day would be immensely changing for the people that lived there.

People of Berlin in some cases had been separated from even members of their own family since 1961, and that morning and day as people moved again between two halves of a previously divided city, would have been very strange. The U-Bahn and S-Bahn underground trains that would have previously passed through so called "phantom" stations, where the railway lines passed underground into another country and then back out again, now stopped at these stations for the first time in 28 years.

The wall itself was a physical symbol of the "iron curtain" which had descended across the Continent from Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic.

The then Conservative PM Margaret Thatcher said:
"We do not want a united Germany. This would lead to a change to postwar borders, and we cannot allow that because such a development would undermine the stability of the whole international situation and could endanger our security."
Admittedly President Mitterrand of France warned Margaret Thatcher privately that a reunited Germany might “make even more ground than Hitler had” only a few weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall, newly declassified documents reveal. So it certainly seems that the prospect of a reunited Germany scared Western Europe.

It is a credit to the German people though that the reunification process went reasonably smoothly. The expected drag on West Germany's economy never really happened, because the work ethic of Prussia which was firmly in the East, put paid to that.

If anything, one Germany I think has showed the world that it is possible to peacefully acheive something great. The people of Ireland, Palestine and Korea aught to take note of this, because there is far more joy in breaking down barriers than erecting them.

9th November was also the date of Der Kristallnacht (Night of the Broken Glass) which in 1938 saw about 500 Jews murdered and a further 25,000-30,000 placed into concentration camps to eventually be murdered. I bet that the GDR Politbüro
were keen to have that story of history quietly pasted over.

October 31, 2009

Horse 1047 - Scab Day (Halloween)

Welcome to the 56th state in the Union, Australia. Apparently, we like District of Colombia (51), Puerto Rico (52), Guam (53), Canada (54), Britain (55) have joined the United States.
I didn't realise that this had happened until Saturday night when we celebrated that most stupid of holidays, Halloween.

Ah yes, Halloween, the day in which children go from house to house in the hope of scabbing lollies from other people. Now whilst I don't object to charity, I'd say that 102% of the children that I saw (allowing for a 2% margin of error) on this year's Scab Day run, were in no need of charity whatsoever. Certainly a great deal of them were in dire need of a walk outside, but luring them out with sweeties is hardly what you'd call sensible.

What would happen for instance if I were to walk 9 doors up the street and ask for lollies? People would think that I'm insane, and then probably ring up some gentlemen in blue to put me up for the night at Her Majesty's Hotel. What happens for instance if the kiddies happen to knock on the door of someone who especially likes children... a lot... I mean a whole lot. There'd be an outrage, and especially considering the hoo-haa in the news of late about one such person who happened to be near a school, why do parents allow their children out on Scab Day runs?

As far as I can make out, there isn't even a need in this country to even celebrate Scab Day. I mean the day after it is All Saints' Day (November 1), which according to the Roman Catholic church is a "Holy Day of Obligation" on which "the faithful are obliged to participate in the Mass" but somehow you don't see parents sending their kiddies along to that now do we?

It would appear that this is purely a marketing push by Allen's, Cadbury, Nestlé, et al. to foist the sale of their produce onto the public. Quite apart from the fact that it's mainly an American tradition, which we don't really need (though I can see the value in Thanksgiving), why do we need to release a whole bunch of children onto the streets full of sugar? What happens when they turn 12 or 13 and become punk teenagers? Eggs, that's what.

No sir, I don't like Scab Day and nor should anyone else. No-one in their right might would vote for a National Annoy The Crud Out Of Your Neighbours Day would they? Then why send your kiddies out to do it for you?

October 23, 2009

Horse 1046 - Hazem El Masri MP

I haven't read the article in today's Daily Telegraph (not do I intend to) but across the front page are plans for the Liberal Party to run Hazem El Masri as the proposed candidate in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly electorate of Lakemba.

The question being asked at the moment is "What makes the Liberal party think that an ex-Rugby League player suitable to be a member of parliament?" The answer as I'm about to explode is, "Who Cares? It's irrelevant"

A member of parliament and indeed any elected official's job is in essence very simple. They are there to represent the people of their electorate in the parliament. Quite literally an elected representative should be one who is elected and is therefore popularly chosen; and a representative, that is, someone who will stand and speak on behalf of the people who elected them for that purpose.

The reason why I think it's totally irrelevant about what the chosen person's background is, is mainly because there aren't really any hard and fast rules about who is the best person to speak for the electorate.
The beauty of the parliament lies in the fact that provided the people's voice is being heard (and in this case through the vehicle of their elected members), then the member's background really does not matter a fig.

Some of the greatest politicians that we've had in Australia have been: a train driver, a garbage collector, a secretary for an Australian rules football club, several barristers and lawyers, a dairy and peanut farmer, a miner, and even an umbrella mender*. I can see therefore no reason why a Rugby League player shouldn't be in theory any different.

The question isn't one of whether Hazem El Masri would be suitable as Premier of the State of NSW or even the Prime Minister, but rather "will he serve the people of Lakemba as their elected member?" Personally I think that if Hazem listens to what his electorate tells him and is then able to let that voice be heard, then the job is well done, which after all is what everybody expects of their elected representatives.

*Ben Chifley, Nathan Rees, John Curtin, Bob Menzies, Alfred Deakin, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, Andrew Fisher, Billy Hughes - what a ragged lot!

October 13, 2009

Horse 1045 - Koup de Grace

Something distinctively strange is going on. Kia have within a calendar year, managed to produce two cars (yes count them, one, TWO!) that
a) don't make me want to vomit profusely all over the place and
b) actually might like to have (not buy, just have).

The Kia Cerato Koup is possibly the only genuine coupe on sale in Australia currently for less than an average year's salary. The only thing that might come close is the Mazda RX-8 which retails at just a shade over $50K, but fails the very definition of a coupe because it has... four doors.

That's the rub. There are plenty of sporty hot hatches out there and even in three door, but a 3-door hatch, no matter what the manufacturers try to tell you isn't really a coupe. They're 3-door hatches.
I must admit that Mitsubishi probably ruled the roost for a long time on this one with its Lancer. For a while Proton continued this vein with a virtual copy the Proton M21, but since about 2000, in Australia the segment has been... empty.
It's odd. Australia used to have quite a number of coupes. The Monaro, Falcon, and Torana were Australia's favourite sons, and for a while we saw the odd Chrysler Charger and even BMW's 3 & 6-series' have all had a punt but of late... nothing.

The Cerato Koup runs to a pretty standard formula: 2L, 4 cylinders, 115kW. What really makes this interesting is that it uses Hyundai's Theta II engine. Hyundai bought 51% of Kia back in 1998 (though probably only owns about 40% now) and I suspect is using Kia in much the same way as the VW/Audi Group does Skoda. The bits in the Cerato Koup will probably appear in Hyundais in about 15 months.

So what do I actually thing about the car? From an internal vision point of view, it's better than the Astra Sport Hatch, the Honda Civic and the Ford Focus. The front styling is as sharp as any of the aforementioned and I suspect that because we get the 2L and not the 2.4L that they do in the USA, that there is less weight over the front wheels and therefore it should produce a more positive handling car. Of course if anyone from Kia wants to give me a Cerato Koup then be my guest. They say charity begins at home, and I don't see why it shouldn't be mine.

I never thought I'd say this, but Kia are shooting skywards at a tremendous rate of knots. The Kia Soul is ironically a soulless box, but the upcoming Venga, ex-cee'd and Pro-cee'd are a step forwards. And as for the Cerato, it's a real Koup. (pun intended)

October 09, 2009

Horse 1044 - Why I Hate the propsed Human Rights Act

The SMH and The Age on their front covers today, are both running articles about the proposed Human Rights Act which the Federal Government intends to put before the parliament. Personally I think that such an act if passed is a disgusting and dangerous piece of legislation, because of several higher operating principles.

1. It encourages limitation of humans rights merely to those listed in the legislation.

Believe it or not, discussions were held on this very topic 110 years ago when the Australian Constitution was being framed. The people looked at the example of the American Bill of Rights which formed Amendments to the US Constitution and concluded that the laws which were being passed, although were being made in reference to those rights, considered nothing beyond those rights as written in the legislation.
When you consider possibly one of the Declaration of Independence which inevitably led to the creation of that document, it is important to take note of one specific word.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

This sentence has been called "one of the best-known sentences in the English language" and one of the most sweeping statements of human rights ever written, but take note of that word "among". That is not to say that what followed was all of the unalienable rights endowed by one's Creator, but only some among them.

2. It removes powers from elected representatives (ie the Parliament) to unelected persons (ie the judges and bureaucrats).

The really ironic thing about this is, that the most vocal people on this topic are two people in Australia's political history, that I most often disagree with; namely Menzies and Howard.

"A bill of rights would diminish parliament's authority by transferring decision-making authority to unelected judges, accountable to nobody in the barest theoretical sense.
I've always held the classical view that the public elects members of parliament, who pass laws hopefully in the public interest and those laws are in turn interpreted and enforced by courts.
If adopted, a bill of rights would politicise the appointment of judges, increase the volume of litigation and would not in any way increase the rights and protections now available to Australian citizens".
- John Howard, 27th Aug 2009

Sir Robert Menzies responded to Lionel Murphy in the early 1970s on this subject when the former attorney-general had sought to establish an international covenant of civil and human rights in Australian law.
"In Australia it is necessary to remember, when discussing civil liberties and rights, that one of the functions of common law has been to protect the individual against infringement of his or her personal rights"
- Sir Robert Menzies, 17th Jul 1971

The principles which Menzies and Howard are talking about are ironically even more fundamental than that proposed Act which the Parliament would pass. Howard's argument rests on the fact that the Parliament is ultimately answerable to the people, and Menzies reminds us that common law is ultimately based on the principle of equity: what is fair and just.
By actually enacting a Bill of Rights, the rules with regards what is fair and just are subverted by what is legal.

3. Do we really need a fourth Bill of Rights?

Rather than repeat myself on this subject, I'll provide the link here:

But as it stands there are already three Bills of Rights which have legal force in Australia. Namely the English Bill of Rights 1689, the Scottish Claim of Right 1689, and the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948.

Legally if the existing legislation is either being ignored or trampled, then why does anyone think in their right mind think that new legislation is going to change anything? If the laws already exist USE them.

October 07, 2009

Horse 1043 - You Know What I Mean about Ridiculous Assumptions

Advertising is supposed to inform prospective customers about products and/or services in the hope that people will buy said same products and/or services. Simple enough, but whilst most advertising for the most part either fails to do much for me or annoys me, the following two adverts I find intriguing for the wrong reasons.

They came on during One's telecast of the Japanese GP, and I noticed immediately that the same guy making ridiculous assumptions, also knows what I mean about oil.

Now fair dos that this chap is an actor and trying to earn a living, but this falls into the same category as Angus Sampson doing adverts for NRMA, Maggi noodles, and the Nissan Navara. None of these adverts make me want to rush out and buy the products in question, but I have noticed the work of the actors.

If Coca-Cola stopped advertising tommorrow, would they instantly lose market share? Possibly. The phenomenon of Ad Creep has been noticed before, perhaps most obviously by Fry in Futurama when ads were "Only on TV and radio. And in magazines and movies and at ball games and on buses and milk cartons and T-shirts and written in the sky." Surely there must be some point when it's simply useless... or in this case a ridiculous assumption that although I may know what I mean, that I'm going to buy anything.

October 01, 2009

Horse 1042 - Mad Bad Barry Hall to go to the Dogs

In this the week after a brilliant AFL Grand Final when Geelong took what was rightfully theirs and St Kilda saw their dream smash into a million tiny little pieces right before their eyes, you'd expect that footy news would be light on... not today!

The theory goes that Big Mad Bad Barry Hall will be joining the Western Bulldogs in 2010 in return for a second round draft pick for Sydney. If this happens then all other clubs in the AFL should be put on notice, for next year they could be reunited with a friend called PAIN.

It would mean that the Doggies forwards line-up would have two names up for a fight, and certainly two names who can put them between the sticks. Namely: Hall and Akermanis.
Aker himself was famously involved in a dustup with Leigh Matthews whilst he was at Brisbane, and since he's moved to the Dogs, they've come 3rd in two seasons and them made it to the semis on both occasions. Will the arrival of Mad Bad be enough to finally take them back to the top?

Whatever happens it will be good to see Mad Bad Barry back to his mad bad best as a madman. The AFL needs a few mad bad madmen.

September 30, 2009

Horse 1041 - The Death of Austext

“Seven is aware that Austext has many loyal supporters and we know that many of you will miss the Austext service. We sincerely regret any inconvenience the cessation of this service may cause and we have endeavoured to provide you with as much notice as possible.”

Channel 7 started offering teletext services in 1977 with the system going live in 1982, but now on 30 Sep 2009, some 32 years after it began, Austext dies. Naturally Channel 7 cites technology issues and upgrade expenses and the internet for the service being shut down, but really it comes down to a matter a of commercial viability.

I will be quite unhappy when tomorrow morning, Austext will be no more. How many people has sat staring at a screen waiting for sports results to change, willing the numbers to click over?

120, 140, 160 - National News, International News, Sports News... 329, 333 the Weather for Liverpool and Sydney... and then... sans teeth, sans eyes, sans everything...

Where do all the calculators go when they die? Silicon Heaven? Will Austext join them? Goodbye sweet Austext, you blocky thing you.

September 28, 2009

Horse 1040 - V8 Supercars "Memory Hole"

Horse 1039 has now got a dead link thanks to either the people at Holden or the people who run the V8 Supercars. I did a google search for a key phrase and found that the Motor Report also took the grab and that Carpoint were also suspicious about who spoons out the information:
Another matter this week which reflects V8 Supercar racing in a different light is the removal -- or attempt to remove -- a story from the website because it wasn't music the V8 Supercars Australia honchos wanted to hear.

We heard that the boys at V8 Supercar headquarters weren't happy with the story and that V8SA media manager Cole Hitchcock was delegated to contact the man with the contract to supply the editorial content for V8, Neville Wilkinson of V8X, to get the story removed. The story's headline, 'Holden may not play if CoF isn't right', promptly disappeared from the site news list or story menu.

We still feel the bottom line is, as we said at the outset on this matter, that V8SA is being thin-skinned and intolerant of views that don't align with its own.

How very interesting all of this is. Whilst I could make mention of this being rather like the pages of Pravda and information mysteriously "disappearing" in Soviet Russia* it smacks more of a situation of being inside Oceania's Ministry of Truth in 1984 where the revision of old newspaper articles in order to serve the propaganda interests of the government is routine. I don't really know who is at fault here but someone is operating The Memory Hole.

It could very well be that either the V8SA themselves or Holden didn't like the adverse reaction to the story or perhaps this may have been a "rogue" story which was known inside the editorial staff of the website that was only half cleared and in an effort to ensure content was kept up was released.

Either way, the whole thing looks very suspicious indeed, almost as though my accusation in Horse 1039 has far more credence than first thought.

*In California, you can always find a party. In Soviet Russia, The Party can always find you!

September 25, 2009

Horse 1039 - Well Done Holden... Bullies.
Neither the prospect of technical rule changes that dilute the level of General Motors DNA in a Commodore V8Supercar or the entry of other brands onto the grid impresses Holden, says its motorsport manager Simon McNamara.

"If they go down a path that doesn't suit us in any way shape or form then we just won't do it. Simple as that," McNamara said.

Well done Holden, absolutely true to form. It must be said at this juncture that both Holden and Ford when it comes to motorsport in Australia generally treat the fan as chumps.

Ford's greatest hour in 1977 was won by the Moffat Ford Dealers Team but over the next three years they gradually pulled back their effort when in 1980 Ford didn't supply any real effort at all until 1992.
When Ford did finally decide to again put their tag on a motorsport team, they picked Dick Johnson and just to prove their loyalty they then picked Glen Seton, then Gibson Motorsport before buying out the two latter. And then when Stone Brothers and 888 were more successful that their own team, they dumped them all cold.

Holden on the other hand were perfectly happy to bask in the glory of Peter Brock through the early 80s but when Holden and Brock parted ways, from 1988 onwards they kind of tightened their grip over the sport.

CAMS were bullied and harassed by Holden until the creation of the 5L formula in 1992 and the eventual split when Holden and Ford assumed partial control of the sport through manipluation of the new V8Supercars series. They effectively denied both Mitsubishi and Toyota from entry at various stages and there was the curious case of the Bathurst 24hr races where Holden bullied PROCAR into admitting a GT2 car (in their Monaro 427C which was virtually a hybrid of a V8 Supercar with a racing Corvette C5 engine) into a GT3 race.

Now that the V8Supercar category could be opened up (notwithstanding the fact that GM itself declared bankruptcy) Holden are again trying to bully the motorsport world; basically saying if they don't get what they want, they're taking their bat and ball and going home.

Quite frankly I would not expect anything less from Holden or Ford for that matter. Whilst they both rant long and loudly how it was they who built V8 Supercars to where it is today, they conveniently forget the decade that went one before 1992, when both of them showed chronic neglect of the sport. All Holden have done with this weeks statement is shown that they still treat motorsport in Australia and the fans as chumps. Well done Holden.

September 22, 2009

Horse 1038 - Nissan GTR, The Menace of Godzilla

GTR: Three letters that either bring peril to the Australian Touring Car fan or lament, as they remember the terror that was "Godzilla"*.

Somewhere in Victoria, presumably Clayton Business Park the so called "Car of Tommorrow" is being built and tested, and although it might be the first technical step forward for the V8 Supercars, the finished product will more than likely be yet another single overhead cam, rocker driven, 2 valve, 5 Litre V8. How dull.

Why do I even mention this? Well over in Japan, the GTR wasn't killed off. In fact the car continued to be raced, and the Japanese Group A series developed into the Japanese Super GT Series. The cars themselves are quite mental, and the letters GTR still hold a great deal of menace.

The Nissan GTR GT500, is now a 4.5L, camless, 4 or 5 valve per cylinder (depending on which produces the best tune for the circuit) V8. Like the rest of the cars in the series they're limited to 500bhp.

Now this is a bit of Wild Mass Discussion (WMD) but I'm wondering how difficult it would be to take that 4.5L V8 and bore it out to 5L, and then drop the whole drivetrain into a Nissan Maxima.

Actually come to think of it, there are a whole slew of V8s that are already raced in the world hovering around the 4.5L mark, such as Lexus' SC430 in Japan and their IS-F in America, BMW's M3, as well as the DTM Audis and Mercs. Would Holden and Ford let anyone else play with them though? Of course not. Holden and Ford are whingers.

PS: Even more mental looking than the Nissan GTR GT500 is the Toyota Corolla Axio GT300. It's a Corolla?!

*or indeed if they're even older than that - the GTR-XU1.

September 21, 2009

Horse 1037 - Structural Separation of Telstra

I'm going to choose my words very carefully here, and produce the reasons why I think that Telstra should undergo a structural separation.

Telstra is a very highly vertically integrated company that exists within a natural monopoly. That is, they are the biggest player in terms of scale and therefore are able to control prices; they are what economists call "price makers". They own the infrastructure, the wholesale rights to that infrastructure and the retail business which is attached to it therein.
If this was a road, they'd own: the Road, the Traffic Lights and something in the order of 90-95% of all of the Cars on the road.

My esteemed collegue the Noble Prawn had this to say:
"Yet this morning, the Australian government has decided that it doesn’t like an Australian company being too successful. After all the the time, money and effort that Telstra has invested into becoming the leaders, the Government has decided that it’s time to slow it down."
Sep 15, 2009

The basic question that needs to asked here is "What is the definition of successful?". Success for every private company is mainly defined by a single outcome - profit. Unfortunately, that profit is extracted from none other than the consumer.

The consumer on the other hand doesn't really care who their provider of services are. What the consumer's basic desire is, are reasonable services at a reasonable cost. Is Telstra "successful" because it genuinely provides reasonable services at a reasonable cost, or is it using its position which it inherited as a natural monopoly to overcharge its consumers?

That question can not be answered currently, because in coming up with a charge model, Telstra which also owns the infrastructure and the wholesale rights is able to shift costs around its accounts internally. What a structural separation would do would actually force the company to track costs through itself, rather coming up with a generic wholesale charge rate.

There is another issue contained within the Prawn's post, and that is an ethical question which is wrapped up with a closing paragraph:
"Bring on the comments telling me that Telstra is a big bully and that it’s the right thing for “competition” and for Australia – I’d love to hear them and I’m ready for a fight. Cos you try and tell me that the government isn’t being the biggest bully of them all right now."
15 Sep, 2009

A company by its nature is essentially an amoral organisation, that is not to say "immoral" which implies "not right" behaviour, but "amoral"; that is, without morals. The company even said as much within its 2003 Annual Report:
"Rather than being on the superhighway most of us are limping along a two-lane road and the rest, mainly but not all in the country, are still on a dirt track - let Telstra go and do what it wants. At the very worst we will end up with a world class piece of infrastructure."
The 2003 Telstra Annual Report

If you let a company "do what it wants" then the inevitable outcome is one of maximising profits, which again are extracted from the consumer. Does that imply reasonable services at a reasonable cost? The direct answer is no. If a company was able to "do what it wants" it would invariably charge the consumer as much as it could possibly get away with (which from the company's perspective is entirely fair and reasonable). But this is in stark odds to the wishes of the consumer, and it's not like they can easily go elsewhere when the the infrastructure and the wholesale rights to that infrastructure are owned by the same company.

So then, is the government acting like a bully? Quite frankly it is, but it should in theory be acting on behalf of the electorate, rather than unnamed shareholders. They of course have the basic right at law to exercise this right as well:

Commonwealth Of Australia Constitution Act (1901)
51.The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to:
v. Postal, telegraphic, telephonic, and other like services.
xxxi. The acquisition of property on just terms from any State or person for any purpose in respect of which the Parliament has power to make laws:

What is of course the definition of "good government"? Admittedly that has never been tested in the High Court of Australia, but anything which is for the betterment of the Australian people must surely fit that definition.
As for whether Telstra should be compensated for the loss of its assets if that's how this proposed National Broadband network is to come about, then the answer is obviously "Yes" and on "just terms" whatever that would happen to be.

Horse 1037 - Aside:
The European Union when it came to the issue of functional separation produced a hideously massive document extending into just over 12,000 pages, but it was quoted in the House of Reps this afternoon:
Functional separation has the capacity to improve competition in several relevant markets by significantly reducing the incentive for discrimination and by making it easier for compliance with nondiscrimination obligations to be verified and enforced. In exceptional cases, it may be justified as a remedy where there has been persistent failure to achieve effective non-discrimination in several of the markets concerned, and where there is little or no prospect of infrastructure competition within a reasonable timeframe after recourse to one or more remedies previously considered to be appropriate.
However, it is very important to ensure that its imposition preserves the incentives of the concerned undertaking to invest in its network and that it does not entail any potential negative effects on consumer welfare.
Directive 2002/21/EC of the European Union on a common regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services.

September 14, 2009

Horse 1036 - Bakkie to the Ute(ur)

It is an open secret that I really like the idea of a ute. To me they represent the whole idea that you can have an entirely practical two door coupe, and still fit a shed load of stuff in the back, and quite possibly the shed (if you dismantled said shed).

Imagine then my excitement when I heard on the news this afternoon, that Ford in South Africa, intend to turn the already cool Fiesta 7 into what Seff Efrikens call a "bakkie" or what we'd call a ute.

The current 1.6L Ford Bantam (derived from the Mark 5 Fiesta) will set you back 115,950 Rand. Whist that sounds excessive, bear in mind that the Aussie Dollar currently buys 6.43 Rand. 115,950 Rs = A$18,005, which for a 1.6L ute isn't too bad. The only logical competitor in Australia currently would be the Proton Jumbuck.

The whole idea of a little ute in Australia isn't a new thing at all. The Morris Minor 1000 ute, used to be a common sight on Australian roads; even the NRMA used them. Datsun's 1200 ute became the stuff of folk lore and has invariably turned into something of a tuner's martket icon. So perhaps the Fiesta as a ute (would they call it a Bantam here?) might have a market. Certainly I'd consider buying one... and if Ford brought out an XR4 Turbo ute, well... consider it sold. If it's good enough for South Africa, surely it's good enough for Oz?

September 11, 2009

Horse 1035 - Is the RTA on the take?

This morning, I actually saw the speed camera on Fitzwilliam Rd go off and nab a motorist. Now my problem isn't necessarily with the obvious fact that excessive speed in inappropriate conditions is a bad thing, but that the whole campaign is basically a cover for a giant revenue take.

Nobody for a second doubts that when small children are about, that they often do not check for traffic and will simply dart across the road. And in that respect, 40km/h in a school zone during prime school hours is perfectly acceptable, but the rest of the time, because the speed camera is there, it turns into a giant game of watching the speedo which is a distraction and does not promote safe driving at all.

On Victoria Rd, there is a camera outside of Holy Cross College in Ryde. Now during school times when children are about it's fair enough but that same camera in peak periods, causes drivers in both directions to take their eyes off the road and all simultaneously look down at their speedos. The result is ironically more nose-to-tail accidents than if the camera hadn't been there in the first place.

I should also point out that speed by itself doesn't kill you. There was an advert a few years ago that showed a couple of kids being wiped out in a Ford Laser with the caption:
72 in a 60 zone. Safe speeding, there's no such thing.
Firstly, that 60km/h limit is a function of the authority who decided to put the limit there. If that same stretch of road was labeled as either 70 or 80, would the road be any more or less inherently safe? Ok, so the question is daft, but that's precisely the mechanics of the Pacific Highway between North Sydney and Hornsby, there are heaps of speed limit changes without any inherent change in the actual physicality of the road, but it's posted as 60, 70 & 80 depending on where you are.

There are of course several separate issues at play here. Namely, what speed limits are actually appropriate and at what point are they put in there simply on the basis of collecting revenue?

Take Brians Road between Windsor Rd and Old Windsor Rd. That was originally upgraded as part of a Sydney Ring Roads Project. The road itself has a set of design tolerances such that it is a safe road to be driven on at 90km/h. Yet when the M7 went in, as if by magic, that section of road instantly dropped its limit from 80 to 70. No single other factor changed about the road, except for the change in speed limits. If our friends in the Laser according to the commercial who would have been "safe" doing 72 in that 80 zone, are they now "unsafe" doing 72 in a 70 zone; considering that the road itself had been designed for 90?

I suppose my question about the speed camera on Fitzwilliam Rd is coloured by the fact that at 06:30am and against the flow of traffic, our friend would have been perfectly within a case of reasonableness doing 64km/h on that stretch of road. Yet because somebody decided to put a camera there, the RTA gets to push the buttons on its cash registers.

September 09, 2009

Horse 1034 - I'm Beached Az

"I only eet plenkton"

What began as a cartoon lasting a mere 1'38" long has now launched its own series on ABC2.

What I find somewhat odd about this, is that New Zealand seems to be able to find money from nothing to be able to create a cottage animation industry, what with Bro'town and the like hitting our television screens.

No-one as yet in Australia seems to want to tell stories that relate to an Australian audience. You could look at the success of say the Simpsons with its massive budgets and ask why the best that we can do appear to be twee and cliched series like "The Adventures of Blinky Bill", "Skippy: Adventures in Bushtown" or "Lil' Elvis and the Truckstoppers"

Would anyone for instance like to make a show about our own sordid past? Perhaps the life of Ned Kelly, Roy Cazaly, or even the perennial long-runner Ginger Meggs? Why is it that we don't have the capability of doing anything for ourselves?

Admittedly the same question can be asked about comedy, drama and other assorted programs on telly. Really about the only thing which Australian television does which is the envy of the world is OB productions of sport. Maybe that does say something about this country, I don't know.

September 01, 2009

Horse 1033 - Pontiac G8... Game Over... But Not?
This means the local Pontiac G8 will be sold in two guises not available in the US (where it was a sedan only), making the ute and wagon particularly rare. Even though all cars will be based on the Holden Commodore SS V and wear SS V badging they are expected to become collector's items as they will mark an important milestone (and memory) in Holden history: when it last exported cars to the world's biggest car market. Significantly, the limited edition models will not wear Pontiac badges, but they will get all the other Pontiac parts. The parts include the Pontiac G8 bonnet, front bumper and grille. On sedan models, the lower 'lip' boot spoiler will replace the SS V's high-mount spoiler.

Sometimes I'm particularly scathing of Holden for treating its customers like idiots, but in this case I'm more than prepared to give Holden a standing ovation on this one.

Holden's excursion into the US market, selling the Commodore as the unimaginatively named Pontiac G8, was not quite the success they had hoped for. To be honest, the G8 was the best car in GM North America's lineup bar none but failed at the final hurdle because the Pontiac brand was chopped under GM's Chapter 11 bankruptcy program.

America's loss however is Australia's gain. Holden is about to pour salt in America's wound, with an iodine chaser. If the above article is to be believed then we'll not only be able to purchase a Pontiac G8 SS-V sedan, but Wagon and Ute variants as well, which not even America got.

Somehow it's like Holden is giving head office a giant "two-fingered salute", before leaving a great big number 11 on the pavement. The car that refuses to die, refuses to die quietly.

August 27, 2009

Horse 1032 - The Daily Telegraph Does Not Do Research (part 2),27574,25987866-421,00.html
PREMIER Nathan Rees has broken his holiday silence to declare in five simple words that he won't be going anywhere, any time soon.
The embattled leader, who is on leave with his wife Stacey, said last night he had no plans to resign, The Daily Telegraph reports. "I have no such intention," a defiant Mr Rees said.
Mr Rees interrupted his holiday in New South Wales to issue a statement that he had absolutely no intention of resigning.

Well done News Corporation, well done indeed. Firstly you have the gall to accuse the Premier of being uncontactable and his whereabouts as being unknown, and then you get told off by him because your research department can't be bothered to get off of its duff and actually chase the news.
This morning Mark Colvin from the ABC's AM program on 702 Sydney, was told by Nathan Rees himself that the rumours of a Labor leadership challenge in NSW were "a complete load of bullcrap". He was probably motivated to set the record straight after his face pretty well much taking up most of the front page on yesterday's Daily Telegraph.

Unfortunately what they've failed to realise is that Nathan Rees as Premier has a fairly safe position precisely because the NSW Labor Party is so fractious.
Rees is effectively the leader of the Labor Left, while Health Minister John Della Bosca is the champion of the Labor Right; the Sussex St administration is headed by Joe Tripodi which means that the top position is supported by a tripod of mutually suspicious parties. No serious contender could hope to take the top job because they'll almost certainly never secure the numbers in the caucus.
Basically Bob Carr was a strong enough leader to keep the simmering forces from chopping each other. Iemma lost his job because of them, and Rees is there because of reasons stated above.

It is a sad state of affairs when I appear to be the most reliable news source in the country. Even worse when a daily newspaper with a circulation of over a million a day, tries to orchestrate the news because of its own commercial interests to sell newspapers.
Perhaps it is understandable to a degree. Both the Daily Telegraph and the Sydney Morning Herald have both within the two months, had a new editor-in-chief take over both newspapers. Maybe they're both trying to make a name for themselves and certainly putting someone's head on the chopping block would be a way to gain glory and fame.

Then again, maybe I'm secretly hankering for a newspaper job myself... nah, not really. Though if someone did offer, I'd probably take the job. Hint hint hint.