October 31, 2015

Horse 2020 - The phrase "Reach For The Stars" is much older than that.

The phrase "reach for the stars" is indeed an interesting phrase. I've heard it in several contexts but my two most favourite are either:
1. When someone in a Western (usually an outlaw) points a gun at someone and tells them to "reach for the stars". In this context they want them to put their hands up; both as a way to make sure they they don't reach for any weapon to retaliate and because is makes it easier to perform a walletectomy of their victim.
2. As a sign of encouragement, the phrase "reach for the stars" is telling someone to aim high. It was Norman Vincent Peale, the author of that most famous of books The Power of Positive Thinking (1996) who wrote “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.”

The phrase is much older than that.

Related is the phrase "Reach for the Sky" which was a 1956 film based on the 1954 biographical book written by Paul Brickhill about RAF fighter pilot Sir Douglas Bader.

Bader had been an RAF pilot since 1928 but suffered a crash in 1931 whilst attempting some aerobatic maneuvers and lost the use of his legs. He was retired against his will and when hostilities broke out in 1939, he again joined the RAF and would go on to score 20 kills, 4 shared kills, 6 probables and damaged a further 11 aircraft. He was shot down himself and would be sent to Colditz prisoner of war camp where he would eventually be liberated by the US Army in 1945. As you'd expect though, being an RAF pilot...

The phrase is much older than that.

The Latin motto "Per ardua ad astra" is the motto of several Commonwealth airforces including the Royal Australian Air Force, Royal New Zealand Air Force, Royal Canadian Air Force and the South African Air Force but it was the Royal Flying Corps which eventually became the Royal Air Force which adopted it in 1912.

It has been suggested that the first commander in charge of the RAF, Colonel Frederick Sykes, asked his officers to come up with a motto as a way of boosting morale. King George V is reported to have liked it immensely. The officer generally credited with it is Lieutenant J. S. Yule, who was walking across Farnborough Airport with a friend at the time.
As you'd expect...

The phrase is much older than that.

As most people in the upper echelons of society at the turn of the 20th century were still educated in the classics of Greek and Latin, Lt Yule had read it in Virgil's epic poem The Aeneid. The Aeneid speak of Aeneas' journey from his home in Troy to Italy, where he would settle and eventually give rise to the Roman Empire.
The Aeneid dates from no earlier than about 19BC. Aeneas was already a well known character and appears in Homer's The Illiad; which itself dates from about 710BC.

In Latin the phrase "Macte nova virtute, puer: sic itur ad astra, dis genite et geniture deos." is said by the god Apollo to Aeneas's son Iulus and translates as "Go forth with new value, boy: thus is the path to the stars; son of gods that will have gods as sons." after Iulis has just killed one of the Italians, Numanus, despite having no war experience whatsoever and perhaps doing it by accident with a stray arrow.

Is the phrase to "reach for the stars" from a time before people knew they were gigantic balls of plasma? YES!
We now live in an age where even small children know that the sun is a mass of a mass of incandescent gas; a gigantic nuclear furnace, where hydrogen is built into helium, at a temperature of millions of degrees. Some say... that The B-Side to this song will be familiar to fans of a certain British Motoring Show, and that it was all the plan of a particular untamed racing driver to smash all the equipment in that hotel kitchen which closed it, so that Mr Clarkson wouldn’t get a hot meal, in a ploy to take over as the next host of the show.
All we know is... that "Reach for the Stars" is such an interesting phrase that it takes 7 people to sing about it. 

October 30, 2015

Horse 2019 - Fragments III: The Umpire Strikes Back - A No Hope

Just like Fragments I and Fragments II, this post is made out of the detritus that has built up on my tablet computer. These are the posts which get index numbers but never get properly written. These are the posts which will never become proper pieces but still deserve a life of their own.

It seems to me, you lived your life like a sandal in the bin.

A14 - The Flu

And so it was that in the years 2026 to 2028, that almost four million Australians died. They were not the victims of war and conflict but of simple influenza, brought on by institutional neglect.
How did we get here? What can we learn from this tragedy? What actions might have been taken differently? This book attempts to examine the causes and conditions which led to the single greatest disaster in Australian history; both in wartime and peacetime, so that the loss of some four million souls might not be in vain.
It is my hope that by shaking the ghosts of the recent past, we can hope to avoid the spectres of tomorrow. 
- Brian McClymont , 17th July 2030.


C52 - Anachronistic

This sign indicating that unauthorised vehicles will be towed is not the worst example of an anachronistic sign that I have seen. The car being towed does look like a small sedan or coupe and although there aren't that many, they still do exist even though they are relatively unpopular. A small car is likely to be a hatchback rather than a sedan though.
What you will see on road signs are some incredibly anachronistic things. Railway crossing signs frequently have pictures of steam trains on them even though steam was driven off the rails by diesel more than fifty years ago. High Wind signs tend to have pictures of cars that look like they were popular in the 1970s, towing caravans which also look like they date from about that era, even though the car most likely to be towing a caravan today is a big four wheel drive. Even signs for telephones are starting to look a bit old hat, as most of us carry mobile phones around with us and the old style receiver is mostly only found in businesses and the few remaining houses of people who still feel the gentle tug of telephone cable. Gone are the days when the only phone in the house can with its own piece of furniture and your conversations were the public drama which all in the house gathered around to hear one side of.


D13 - The Childishness Of The Private Sector

A client of ours spent a great portion of our meeting on Friday afternoon complaining longly and loudly about how much they were paying out in school fees for their child to go to a private school. Their little darling had just entered Year 7 and the jump in fees from the year previous was considerable. The obvious thing to do would have been to send their child to the local state high school (which by the way, still has a history of producing excellent results) but rather than blame themselves for this self imposed economic burden, they chose to blame the government for taxing them so much even though they easily clear more than five times AWOTE.
Halloween, the 31st of October, truly is the date when all the ghouls come out to play. They aren't little children who go from house to house demanding sweets though, they go to their accountants to haunt them before the imagined tax deadline approaches. (Are you tucked up safe and sound in beddy-byes? If you lodge with an accountant, your usual lodgement date will be 15th May next year.)
School Fees are one of those things where the expenses paid by government are submerged. If St Uppington's School For Priggish Children really did put the values of how much government subsidy was received per child, would parents begin to feel grateful? I imagine not.

One of my most favourite things to do in the year, is on Boxing Day when the temperature outside begins to approach triple digits Fahrenheit, is to lie as still as possible on the couch watching cricket on telly and boats on Sydney Harbour just after lunch. The Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race is possibly one of the biggest cases of conspicuous consumption of the year. In addition to the multi-million dollar yachts that make the run to Hobart; which are decked out in the names of high end watch companies and insurance firms, are the playthings of the 1% who have their own toys. One could say that such an event is capitalism at its finest but this totally ignores the fact that it is the Bureau of Meteorology who provide the data to tell the crews where the winds are and it is the Royal Australian Navy and teams of volunteers who have to fish people out of the water if it all gives wrong. Never even once, including when in 1998 some of the most massive squalls ever seen turfed 55 people into the angry blue nothingness, did any private firm even lift a finger to help. Where were you Prudential? Where were you Rolex?

If that sounds extreme, ask yourself how many private companies did anything in the wake of the Lindt Café siege. What about in the aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. There were plenty of firefighters who risked their lives but how many people from say, the Chase Manhattan Bank, or Lehmann Brothers, or AIG? None. That's how many. Yet when these firms run into trouble, they come crying back to governments like a bunch of little babies, waah waah waah. 

J60 - Boo!

I think that it is demonstrably different to when Hawks fans booed and continue to boo Buddy Franklin. In fact I'd say that it's almost the responsibility of Hawks fans to boo Buddy Franklin. In the case of Buddy Franklin, he moved from Hawthorn to Sydney and that's a bit like becoming the Dread' Pirate Roberts - if you inherit the costume of the Dread' Pirate Roberts then you become the Dread' Pirate Roberts. Buddy moved to Sydney and became a Swan. As far as Hawks fans are concerned, Buddy Franklin is a traitor but this is a specific case.
It's also different to say, when Sydney FC fans boo Berisha. There is a pointed and deep rivalry between Sydney FC and the Melbourne Victory (and I think one that's even deeper than the Sydney FC / Wanderers rivalry) but the second that Berisha happens to play for Sydney FC, the booing would stop. 

This is what I don't understand about the booing of Adam Goodes. He has stopped playing for the Sydney Swans and so in the context of on field rivalry, booing achieves nothing. Booing at Adam Goodes in the context of being a brand ambassador for a top end department store makes even less sense unless you are under the employ of another department store and even then that's not normal.
The only possible explanation that makes any sense is that the people who continue to boo Adam Goodes are fundamentally racist.

N8 - What Are You Doing, Troy Aikman?

I happened to be watching the Philadelphia Eagles versus the Dallas Cowboys when I was waiting in line at the bank and who did I hear doing commentary than none other than former Cowboys quarterback, Troy Aikman. In the eleven minutes that I was in the queue, Aikman must've reminded us at least a dozen times that he was once the quarterback for the Cowboys and kept on telling us about the style of football that he played.
I'm sorry Aikman but I kind of feel that the only reason that you achieved meteroric fame, as opposed to the other players is because you were the quarterback. I also kind of feel that the only reason that you still have enough brain capacity to be able to run all those Ford, Mercury and Lincoln dealerships is also because you were a quarterback and because you had a line of Nose Tackles, Tight Ends and Corner Guards standing in front of you, making sure that you weren't wiped out by some other hulking 300 pound monster coming through. Part of the reason that you are a successful businessman and own half of Denver is because American Football is a team sport and there were ten other players on the field at the time. When you talk about playing style of a highly organised team, then that style is usually imposed from above by the managers and coaching staff who work out how to run plays and spend their time analysing what does and doesn't work. 

Sometimes ex-players of various sports do make excellent commentators and this usually happens when they can anticipate what might happen or they can describe what's going on at a more intimate and technical level because they've been there. People like Alec Stewart, Richie Benaud, John McEnroe, Chrissy Evert, Martin Brundle and David Coulthard all fit into this category. Then there are the commentators like Murray Walker, John Motson, Martin Tyler, Phil Ligget and Henry Blofeld who themselves weren't renowned as players or competitors but they lived and breathed the sport they described to such an extent that it flows through them and into the microphone.
Aikman will be an excellent commentator because he has a voice which suits the job quite well but he needs to step back and remember that this is a different skill and that the audience doesn't need to be reminded every 38 seconds that he played the game, or that he owns a stack of car dealerships and half of Denver.

October 29, 2015

Horse 2018 - Time, Ladies and Gentlemen!

Which country has the most time zones in the world?

The obvious answer would be Russia right? This vast sweeping land of the Rus, extending all the way from Torfyanovka in the west, or even Yantarny in the Kaliningrad Oblast which has Lithuania and Belarus in the way, to Uelen in the east on the Bering Sea, stretches across 11 time zones.

+02:00 GMT Kaliningrad Time
+03:00 GMT Moscow Time - and all railroads throughout Russia
+04:00 GMT Samara Time
+05:00 GMT Yekaterinburg Time
+06:00 GMT Omsk Time
+07:00 GMT Krasnoyarsk Time
+08:00 GMT Irkutsk Time
+09:00 GMT Yakutsk Time
+10:00 GMT Vladivostok Time
+11:00 GMT Srednekolymsk Time
+12:00 GMT Kamchatka Time

Then there's the United States who through conquest, annexation and the amusingly named Guano Islands Act of 1856 which enables citizens to take possession of unoccupied and unclaimed islands anywhere in the world; provided they find bird poo there.
No, seriously. I am not making this up:

Whenever any citizen of the United States discovers a deposit of guano on any island, rock, or key, not within the lawful jurisdiction of any other government, and not occupied by the citizens of any other government, and takes peaceable possession thereof, and occupies the same, such island, rock, or key may, at the discretion of the President, be considered as appertaining to the United States.
- 48 U.S. Code § 1411, Guano Islands Act 1856

Those 11 time zones are:

−12:00 GMT Baker Island and Howland Island
−11:00 GMT American Samoa, Jarvis Island, Kingman Reef, Midway Atoll and Palmyra Atoll
−10:00 GMT Hawaii, most of the Aleutian Islands, and Johnston Atoll
−09:00 GMT Alaskan Time
−08:00 GMT Pacific Time
−07:00 GMT Mountain Time
−06:00 GMT Central Time
−05:00 GMT Eastern Time
−04:00 GMT Atlantic Time
+10:00 GMT Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands
+12:00 GMT Wake Island, McMurdo Station, and Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station

From what I can gather, Australia might have twelve time zones at the moment. When the clocks go forward for Daylight Savings, without fail there's always some remark about how complex Australia's time zones are. There are six time zones on the mainland at the moment; truth be told I had no idea about Central Western Standard Time which is used in the Eucla region of WA and in Border Village SA.

Australia might have 12 time zones:

+05.00 GMT McDonald Island
+06.00 GMT Cocos & Keeling Islands
+07.00 GMT Christmas Island
+08.00 GMT Western Australia
+08.45 GMT Western Australia - Eucla area
+09.00 GMT Casey Station Antarctica (Daylight Savings)
+09.30 GMT Northern Territory
+10.00 GMT Queensland
+10.30 GMT South Australia (Daylight Savings)
+11.00 GMT NSW, Victora (Daylight Savings)
+11.30 GMT Lord Howe Island (Daylight Savings)
+12.00 GMT Norfolk Island (Daylight Savings)

Then there's France. France as one of the great European powers who felt guilty about having an empire, solved its guilt by simply making all of its far flung islands part of France. You will remember (See Horse 2008) that places like Martinique, Réunion and  New Caledonia don't just live in French territories of French posessions, they live in France. They send members to both the Assemblée nationale and the Sénat French parliament and have full voting rights in Europe.

If that sounds weird, then remember it's no different to Tasmania which is a state of Australia or Hawaii and Alaska which are states of the United States. Some of these places are as much departments of France as Lozère or my favourite, Sarthe.

France's 12 time zones are thus:

−10:00 GMT French Polynesia
−09:30 GMT Marquesas Islands
−09:00 GMT Gambier Islands
−08:00 GMT Clipperton Island
−04:00 GMT Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin (Atlantic Time)
−03:00 GMT French Guiana, Saint Pierre and Miquelon
+01:00 GMT Metropolitan France (Central European Time)
+03:00 GMT Mayotte
+04:00 GMT Réunion
+05:00 GMT Kerguelen Islands, Crozet Islands
+11:00 GMT New Caledonia
+12:00 GMT Wallis and Futuna

The problem that I ran into at this point, is a legal one.
The House of Commons in the UK passed the Statutes (Definition of Time) Act of 1880 and that should have been where the story ended, if it wasn't for the fact that the world is a ridiculously weird place.

The law states that:
Whenever any expression of time occurs in any act of Parliament, deed, or other legal instrument, the time referred shall, unless it is otherwise specifically stated, be held in the case of Great Britain to be Greenwich mean time, and in the case of Ireland, Dublin mean time.
- Statutes (Definition of Time) Act of 1880

However, in the case of Gordon vs R (1889) in the British Court of Appeals, Gordon who was riding his bicycle without a lamp, an hour and two minutes after sunset, when the law stated that he must carry a lamp on his bicycle "during the period between one hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise", successfully was able to argue that "sunset” is not a “period" of time but a consequence of astronomical fact.

Prior to the arrival of railways in Britain, it was a free for all with regards time and So far, I've found what might be considered to be thirteen different time zones if we assume that time is only bound to the expression as contained within acts of Parliament etc.
I would assume that a clock in a town square fulfills the condition that local time is "otherwise specifically stated" by virtue of the fact that time is being stated on the clock.

Those 13 time zones out of what could potentially be hundreds are, in minutes difference to Greenwich Mean Time:

-23:39 Belfast Time
-17 Truro Time
-13 Barrow Time
-11 Carnforth Time
-9 Liverpool Time
-7 Manchester Time
-6 Leeds Time
-5 Oxford Time
-3 Boston Time
+0 Greenwich Time
+7 Norwich Time
+14:10 Bristol Time
+30 Sandringham time (Edward VII said so)

Even to this day, some places still show their defiance to the House of Commons and pooh-pooh their imposition of time through legislation.

The Bristol Corn Exchange:

There are two different minute hands showing both Greenwich Mean Time (in black) and Bristol Time. I think that it's fair to the say that the time in Bristol is specifically stating that the time is otherwise. I hope so, or else the country with the most time zones in the world is France... and that's awful.

October 27, 2015

Horse 2017 - The Real Reason Wellington Phoenix Were Ejected From The A-League

The Board of Football Federation Australia (FFA) has determined that an application from Wellington Phoenix for a 10-year licence extension to compete in the Hyundai A-League will not be granted.
The current licence term under the Club Participation Agreement (CPA) for Wellington Phoenix expires at the end of the Hyundai A-League 2015/16 season.
Under the CPA, the Club has the option of requesting that FFA lodge an application to the relevant football authorities to seek approval of Phoenix’s participation in the Hyundai A-League until the conclusion of the 2019/20 season.

Such an application is required in order to seek exemptions from various statutes of Football New Zealand, Oceania Football Confederation, Asian Football Confederation and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).
FFA CEO David Gallop said the Board decision was taken in the best interests of Australian football.
- Football Australia, 26th Oct 2015

This is the news that the Wellington Phoenix has effectively been booted out of the A-League at the end of the season. This is disappointing but not completely unexpected. I suspect that pressure was brought to bear on Football Australia by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and FIFA; notwithstanding the fact that I suspect that FIFA and the AFC are both racist organisations.

I think that it says something that even the United States which is a nation which doesn't really care about football, currently has it's Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division and the Attorney General's Department lookinh into mass fraud, money laundering and racketeering. So far, 18 individuals and two football confederations have either been accused, investigated or indicted for corruption.
FIFA isn't a case of a few rotten apples spoiling the bushel. FIFA is a case of the most of the bushel of apples being rotten and struggling to find a good one.
Although the AFC hasn't been implicated in the corruption scandal, it still makes you wonder about what is going on.

I for one wonder about the legitimacy of the process which saw Russia awarded the 2018 World Cup and Qatar the 2022 World Cup; particularly when you consider that Qatar has never qualified for the World Cup, had a population of less than a million when they were awarded the tournament, didn't even have plans to build five stadiums let alone the ten usually demanded by FIFA, and that during June and July when a World Cup is usually held, the overnight low temperatures hover around 29°C in the capital of Doha. Qatar wants to hold the 2022 World Cup in December despite this interfering with most countries' regular seasons and the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations which was scheduled to be held two weeks later.
One wonders how much oil money came to bear on FIFA.

That aside, some nations in the AFC really started to resent Australia's admission into the confederation after Australia "stole" a qualification spot in first the 2010 and then 2014 World Cups. In 2006 the AFC had four spots and Australia qualified for the World Cup via the half spot alotted to the OFC and South America. When Australia joined the AFC in 2007, it immediately then qualified for the 2007 AFC Asian Cup and then the 2011 tournament, then took one of the AFC's four spots for the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups.
In the 2011 AFC Asian Cup, Australia lost the final 1-0 to Japan and then this year in 2015, Australia beat South Korea in the final, 2-1 in extra time.

Even before the 2015 Asian Cup had ended, AFC president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa who is the President of the Asian Football Confederation, fired a shot across the bows of Football Australia, despite the fact that the 2015 Asian Cup was easily the best organised and the best attended in the tournament's 59 year history:

The president of Asia's football governing body says Gulf nations want the Socceroos expelled from the continental confederation.

"There are indications that prove that such desire exists among the confederations of west Asia to evict Australia. But I also know that the Arabs are not the only ones who are not convinced that Australia's membership in Asia's football is feasible."
- AFC president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa, - ABC News, 30th Jan 2015

I suspect that David Gallop has hidden a deeper truth in plain sight. By saying that the decision to reject the Wellington Phoenix' further participation in the A-League "was taken in the best interests of Australian football" I think that he might be saying as diplomatically as possible, that the AFC have a hammer and are threatening to smash Football Australia's fingers, whose hands are tied.
Wellington Phoenix, which is a club from New Zealand, complicates the AFC/OFC relationship and I suspect that the AFC would rather see the OFC cast adrift entirely.

Mind you, I don't understand why the AFC doesn't apply to FIFA to absorb the OFC in its entirety. The OFC does have 14 member confederations but once you remove Papua New Guinea with 7.0 million people and New Zealand with 4.5 million people, the rest of the confederation only contains 2.5 million people; which is less than the population of Sydney.
If the AFC were to absorb the OFC, it could claim that its 61 member nations are worth far more than the pathetic 4 spots that it currently gets. I think that the AFC is resentful that UEFA which has 54 member nations gets 13 spots and that CONMEBOL which is responsible for South America, has only 10 member nations but got 6 spots at the 2014 World Cup.

What I suspect has happened is that rather than persuade FIFA which it knows is a corrupt organisation, the AFC has bullied Football Australia into conforming to its will because it knows that it could very easily rustle up the Gulf nations to eject Australia from the confederation.
The fact that AFC president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa specifically mentioned the Arabs, indicates to me that if an expulsion order was tabulated at an AFC meeting, it would go down racial lines; probably also as retribution for Australia's ties with the United States.

This ejection of the Wellington Phoenix does mean that the A-League will be reduced to 9 clubs unless Football Australia either creates a new startup or allows new clubs in. I don't currently see anything on the horizon other than to say that the ACT, Tasmanian and Northern Territory governments have all expressed their interest in supporting clubs in the past and that the Northern Territory currently has no sporting teams in any national competition.

“The application for a 10-year extension to the licence does not meet the requirements we see as fundamental to the future growth of the Hyundai A-League.”
- Football Australia CEO, David Gallop

I would think that one of the requirements that the FFA sees as fundamental to the future growth of the Hyundai A-League, is the continued membership of Australia in the AFC. I think that's what's made Gallop play his hand in the way that he has. That and the possibility of having his fingers smashed by the AFC's very large hammer.

October 26, 2015

Horse 2016 - Australia's Prime Ministers - Nos 26 & 27 - Kevin Rudd & Julia Gillard

XXVI - Kevin Rudd

The story of Kevin Rudd's premiership begins almost a decade before he even won the top spot. Rudd was elected as member of the seat of Grifith in 1998, at the beginning of a series of lucky events and masterful strokes by PM John Howard. Howard was a man of almost no charisma at the start of his term of office but following the sale of Telstra, the introduction of the GST, his handling of gun control issues following the massacre at Port Arthur, the terrorist attacks on Sep 11 2001 and two subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, he built his charisma as he went along; into something formidable.
The opposition Labor party lurched along with Kim Beazley at the helm for two losing elections in 1998 and 2001, Simon Crean who took over for a while, Mark Latham who was a disasater and lost the 2004 election, before handing the reins back to Kim Beazley. Kevin Rudd who had been Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, took over as leader of the Labor Party in 2006 and then won an 83-65 landslide in the 2007 election.

Almost as the parliament's first action, Rudd organised an official apology to the "stolen generations" of Indigenous Australians who had been taken away from their families because of the actions of Federal governments past. A series of targets to improve the lot of Indigenous Australians was also embarked upon but this would prove far harder to achieve.

The Rudd Government also made its business to repeal the Workplace Relations Amendment Act 2005, which came to be known as WorkChoices (no space), which among other things removed all companies with fewer than 101 employees from unfair dismissal laws, changed the way that minimum wages were set, reduced the powers of the the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, phased out the system of Australian Workplace Agreements and installed a new board called Fair Work Australia with more oversight.

It was on the economic front though that Rudd's Government was to face its biggest test and in 2008 it did a rather good job of management during the Global Financial Crisis.
Sparked by the US housing bubble and a series of complex insurance and equity instruments, the US economy tanked, which resulted in trillions being wiped off the value of markets and banks refusing to extend credit.

In Australia, the Rudd Government as led by Treasurer Wayne Swan, initiated an stimulus package worth A$10.4bn and a second package worth A$42bn. In addition to this, the Federal Government sured up Australian banks by underwriting deposits at major banks, kick-starting spending with a $900 splash to taxpayers and announcing the beginning of two headline programs called Building the Education Revolution which saw the building of school buildings and the beginning of the National Broadband Network.

The Rudd Government failed to pass legislation surrounding a proposed carbon emission trading scheme and copped flak with regards its Minerals Resource Rent Tax. In June of 2010, the Labor Party dumped Rudd as leader and replaced him with the first female Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

XXVII - Julia Gillard

Julia Gillard had been Deputy Prime Minister since Labour had won the 2007 election and in the June 2010 leadership spill, she was elected unopposed as leader of the party and with it as Prime Minister.

Gillard's Government was quick to establish legitimacy and 23 days after she became Prime Minister, she announced an election.
The resulting bunfight saw Labor with 72 seats, the Coalition with 72 seats and six crossbench MPs. The Greens Adam Bandt and three independent MPs Andrew Wilkie, Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor, threw their support behind Gillard's government with regards supply and confidence and thus Labor remained in power 76-74 after everything had washed out.

Even though the Rudd Government before the election couldn't secure passage of its  emissions trading scheme, a fixed price on carbon emissions was secured in preparation for an eventual trading scheme and this finally came into being on 1st July 2012.

Gillard's Government introduced Plain cigarette packaging laws and in ongoing education reform, sought agreement from the six state governments for its National Education Reform Agreement, following the Gonski Report.

Ms Gillard herself became the target of increased personal attack on the floor of the parliament from Opposition Leader Tony Abbott; this finally came to the boil on X when she fumed at him for fourteen minutes in what has now become known as the "misogyny speech".
The level of political discourse continued to sink, particularly over issues like asylum seekers and undocumented boats arriving on Australian territory and it was issues such as the budget and border security; particularly over mandatory detention and sending asylum seekers to places like Malaysia and Nauru, that the Labor party became increasingly fractious and by 2013, Gillard faced two leadership spills in March and June; with the second ultimately signalling the end of her premiership.

XXVI - Kevin Rudd (again)

Rudd's second tilt at the Prime Minister ship was fraught with negativity. He personally rescinded his concerns about sending asylum seekers to Nauru and Papua New Guinea for offshore processing and the Greens became increasingly concerned with their support of the government.

Wayne Swan resigned as Treasurer and Chris Bowen took over that job and although the Rudd Government tried to make some headlines with regards the constitutional recognition of  Indigenous Australians, changing position on the subject of gay marriage and enacting the  Better Schools Plan which was a watered down version of what David Gonski had outlined in his report, by the time of the 2013, the government was walking wounded.

Tony Abbott's Liberal/National coalition easily won the September 2013 election 90 seats to 55. Julia Gillard did not contest her seat and Kevin Rudd resigned from parliament within a fortnight of the election. Later, Mr Abbott would boast that he had taken out two Labor leaders and was on course for three.

October 25, 2015

Horse 2015 - Just Another Lazy Sunny Saturday Afternoon In Blacktown.

The City of Blacktown is 35km away from the CBD of Sydney but it may as well be a million miles away. It has a population which according to the last census had people from 205 countries in the world and the only reason that it didn't have someone from the 206th is because that would mean more than just an immaculate conception, it would mean more than a minor miracle because the Vatican City is an entire country composed of a lot of blokes wearing silly hats and speaking gibberish in an art gallery.
Blacktown is a diverse place and along with people who just want to get about with their daily lives, there are a bunch of dead set nutters who are dead set on being as nutty as they can.

I'm convinced that the Republic of Blacktown City has a bunch of emergency sirens as its national anthem. I'm not saying that crime is necessarily running rampant but there do seem to be an awful lot of fires and people having accidents a lot.
Yesterday on Saturday 24th October, Blacktown couldn't decide which verse of its national anthem to play and decided to celebrate its nuttiness by inviting all three to a street party in Kildare Road. You can't have a street party unless someone provides the entertainment and at about midday, this was provided by a nutter in a big four wheel drive.

I can't know for certain what had happened but from what I could glean from a couple of Plods which were standing around and looking bemused and amused by proceedings, the nutter in the four wheel drive must've taken umbrage with the constabulary at some point and decided to drive his behemoth into the Police Station. In the process, just like a well aimed snooker shot, he canonned a van into the back of a an Astra, before running across the pedestrian footpath; taking out a business directory sign and then duly rolled his four wheel drive.
I hope that the owners of the van and the Astra are duly compensated and I hope that they're able to get nice replacements for them. Having a nutter destroy what is likely your second or first most expensive single asset is no fun at all.

I can imagine that when the emergency services where called on 000 (so named for the phrase "Oh? Oh! Oh."), that when they tried to locate that on a map and send out a dispatch, the police would've been happy because the walk to the scene of the incident would be shorter than the walk to the car park.
I suppose that if you do decide to be a loony and cause damage to other people's property and you do want to make as big a deal about it as possible, they you probably do want to have the trifecta of emergency services in attendance.
I must say, the police at this incident displayed calmness and an amazing amount of professionalism; the fire brigade showed equally as much calm and caution because a car with as much as 100 litres of fuel on board is very much a hazard to safety. Thankfully, the Ambulance service didn't actually have to transport anyone because the driver remained unhurt and even more thankfully the two innocent cars were both empty.

It will also make things nice and easy for the police when it comes to sentencing this nutter for speeding, culpable driving and criminal damage, it will only be a short walk from his stay in the police holding cells to the Court House which is next door; also on Kildare Road. To complete the treble, when it comes to sending this nutter to a stay at Her Majesty's Pleasure, it's only a short drive to Parklea Correctional Facility. Thus the police can do their part for the environment by keeping it local.

As for the crowd who were just milling around and gawking, myself included, we represented people from all sorts of ethnic backgrounds and religions. There were people from Africa, one chap who was wearing a Paraguay football kit, several Muslim ladies in head scarves, the usual crowd of skips in Rugby League kits (Parramatta was the most represented) as well as people of many shades of pink and brown who it wasn't immediately obvious where they came from. Did it matter? Of course not!
If you want to organise an actual true display of diversity in the community, in which everyone does exactly the same thing in a completely peaceful fashion, then this is obviously the way to do it. Just have a nutter in a big four wheel drive roll his behemoth in the street and everyone will come out in a common spirit of gawking.

October 24, 2015

Horse 2014 - An Angry Man Writes A Shouty Thing At A Group Of Companies Who Want To Sell Him Something He Already Has

Dear Insurance Companies,
Let's be honest about this. Insurance is a hedge against a bad thing from happening. That bad thing might be repairing a car and or people, as in motor insurance; it might be replacing people's stuff after an unsavoury individual has decided to take things, as in home and contents insurance; or it might be the significant and unexpected financial loss caused by someone's advice or designs, as per professional indemnity insurance.
As a consumer, I bet that the payout caused by the thing happening will be worth more than the damage caused or enough to cover said damage. As a seller of insurance, you have actuary staff (actuary? No, reary!) whose job it is to calculate the chances of a thing happening so that you can run the numbers and either turn a profit if the thing never happens or turn a profit by paying out less than we've paid you.
In terms of benefits paid out versus premiums collected by you, the game is rigged in your favour and those numbers can be expressed as a percentage of risk. The other area where you see payouts, risk and chance is in the casino and it is no small coincidence that often the best professional poker players in the world, often come from the world of insurance brokerage and arbitration. Insurance is glorified gambling and we both know it.

Why then, if I know this and you know this, are the selling staff whom you don't even employ directly to hawk your services, not allowed to admit this?
Once upon a time and oh so very long ago; before there was even SBS2, ABC Grandstand Digital, before Twitter, Facebook, before there was even MySpace, I worked in a call centre for a time. It was rubbish.
Call centres are staffed by people who would prefer to have a meaningful job, barked at by supervisors who are more concerned about sales targets and quotas on one side and by the general public who would prefer to be left alone on the other. This same general public also finds that if they want to call someone for help, the people in those call centres haven't been adequately trained and don't know enough or are so chronically overworked that they break down and either quit, or cry and quit. Call centres have one of the highest rates of turnover of staff because of this and yet thanks to the global nature of business, in a worldwide race to the bottom in terms of wages and conditions, it's always possible to find someone willing to accept even more rubbish pay, conditions and training than someone else.
You dear insurance companies, combine the worst of both worlds and employ staff through a third party (because you're too worried about profits to pay people adequately and provide proper benefits and training in the first place), to sell a product to the general public who if they had proper planning in place already have and if they don't, it's because they can't really afford it, which is based on a giant gamble where the game is rigged in your favour anyway.
It is the worst of the worst combined with the lowest of the low.

I being prudent (and because I have certain responsibilities) have already thought about and made plans with regards insurance. I already have Total & Permanent Disability Insurance, Life Insurance, Income Protection Insurance among other things. I don't have funeral insurance because quite frankly I think that every single version of funeral insurance that I've seen is one giant rort which is so far skewed in favour of the insurance companies and so no amount of pleading on your part is going to make me buy it.

This is the problem that I currently have with insurance companies. All of the major and established insurance companies compete on price and reputation. Insurance companies like Allianz, GIO, the NRMA, AAMI, heck even banks which have moved into the realm of insurance like Suncorp, don't need to phone people up constantly to try and attract business. Since most people like to tie up all their insurances with the same company, these companies offer discounts and benefits for talking out multiple policies with them.
I completely understand that a new insurance company who wants to move into the marketplace and establish market share wants to put their name out there but aggressive telemarketing campaigns, like the sort that I've have to suffer from Real Insurance and Insurance Line, have the effect of making me remember these companies' names and then never ever ever buy anything from them on principle. Tick people off and you poison a relationship before it even begins.

I like a lot of people form curious cases of brand loyalty and emnity with various firms.
To this day I have never ever bought anything made by the Sharp corporation, simply because they were the one time sponsor of Manchester United Football Club. After 2017, I'm never again going to buy a GM motor car because even after Holden was the only brand in the whole group in the world that turned a profit during the global financial crisis, they're still shutting down Australian production. Even though my bum never fits properly into a pair of Levi's jeans, I'm never going to buy another pair of Lee jeans because "the brand that fits" fell to bits on me within six months.
On the flip side, my heart still beats for a Blue Oval staring back at me from the centre of a steering wheel (even after Ford is also going to shut down Australian production in 2016), when my Seiko watch eventually dies I want to replace it with another one and even though Doc Marten's boots aren't made in the UK any more and even though they have impractical aspects about them, I still always want more pairs.

Personal anecdote is not substitute for a proper data set and should never be taken as the authoritative answer to anything but my rational irrationability is not atypical. If you annoy a sufficient number of people, then no matter how good your product is, you're never going to sell it.
The thing with insurance is that it is a very fungible service. When someone drives their car into yours, or a theif comes into your house and nicks your stuff, or Johnny Darkness comes along and places pennies on your eyes and your loved ones have to clean up and dispose of your mortal chattel and the corpse that you used to inhabit, then it really doesn't matter which insurance company you have chosen. The difference between insurance companies in the eyes of the consumer is entirely based upon price and terms; but mainly on price. Humans are a semi irrational race made of meat bags and thought muscles and if you annoy them, they tend not to be happy. If you are an insurance company, you'd best remember this because as a member of the human race, I'm also an irrational being made of meat bags and thought muscles and I will repay your annoyance with my economic emnity. If you do that to sufficient numbers of people, you will not survive.

So don't ring me; if you do, you're instantly on my list of companies that I won't do business with.

Yours sincerely,

PS: Make something well and even though it might not be the best and I will buy more of that thing more from you. The Samsung phone that I have is quite frankly rubbish and it doesn't do half the things that most other people's phones do and the screen doesn't work properly most of the time but it will not die. It is a fighter and it fights on and on. Likewise, my insurances are mostly with the NRMA; not because they're the cheapest but because they are sufficiently good enough for me not to change. If you are on a good thing, stick with it.

October 23, 2015

Horse 2013 - The Curious Disappearance Of Viking Street, Stanmore

Ten times a week as I traverse this conurbation we call Sydney, I pass through the suburb of Stanmore; which is roughly five miles to the west of the city. I have been trying rather unsuccessfully this week to take a photograph of one of the weirdest streets in Sydney and that happens to lie in Stanmore. That street is Viking Street and it is particularly weird because it may or may not exist.

This photograph which was taken as the train whizzed past at 60 miles an hour (sorry for the blur), shows what appears to be a street which passes under the railway lines and out the other side. There's nothing odd about that until you consider the actual lie of the land and realise that no such street exists. There is an electrical substation and a pedestrian tunnel and that's about it.

I stumbled across a document earlier in the week to do with the initial electrification of the Sydney Suburban Railway Network and found that the documents referred to a booking hall at Stanmore which resembled that of Burwood with the ticket office under the railway lines at a place called Viking Street but the earliest street directory that I could find which was the Gregory's from 1932 doesn't seem to think that such a street exists.

Now I know that in building the electric railway network of Sydney, there were considerable numbers of streets that were destroyed when the land was resumed. A similar process happened in North Sydney in the mid 1960s when the DMR bulldozed entire streets to make way for the Warringah Expressway; so I guess that this kind of thing isn't all that surprising.
The problem that I have with Viking Street though, is that there is not a street either to the north or the south which still retains the name and nor do the two streets to the north or south of the railway station look as if they would have formed a nice straight line between them.
For there to have been a Viking Street in Stanmore where the document suggests that it might have been, there was either a really strange looking intersection to the north or the south of the railway station or perhaps even two of them.

The other problem that I have is that I have no idea what's hiding behind that electrical substation. If the pedestrian tunnel exists because it makes use of the existing Viking Street tunnel then that would make sense but if there is just earth behind the electric substation, then what? Was Viking Street filled in at some point, or did it never exist, or was it perhaps a trap street in the same way that there are paper towns on maps to catch copyright infringement, or was it even a proposal for a future street and I've just read the document incorrectly? I have no way of knowing now and I can not remember what document I was looking at.

This is the mystery of the disappearing Viking Street. Did it exist and then go away? Did it never exist at all? Was it a proposal? Where was it supposed to have been anyway if it did or didn't exist? Not only do I not know the answers to those questions but I don't really know who to ask either. Viking Street if it did exist, probably did not by about 1931 and to find anyone whose memory of the area of more than eighty years ago and have it be reasonably reliable enough to rely on, is itself asking a difficult task.
It's possible that Percival Street was once named Viking Street and was renamed but there's almost certainly no one left who remembers and with that, it has ceased to be.

Viking Street if it did exist has gone the same way as Dumbleton, Pippita and Golden Grove. The problem with this sort of thing is that once the memories of places, people and things fade, they more or less cease to exist except as names in documents. Those documents of themselves have no memories and the names cease to mean much to people that are left to read them. 

October 22, 2015

Horse 2012 - Mosman Council: A "Not Fit" Council

The IPART report found about 60 per cent of the state's councils were not "fit for the future", according to IPART's criteria.
The list included Clover Moore's City of Sydney Council, which was considered fit on the criteria applied to other councils, but did not meet the tougher test of a "global city council".
In Sydney, only 12 of the city's councils submitted proposals to IPART deemed to be fit. Most of the 29 deemed unfit failed on the basis they did not meet the scale and capacity criteria.
- Jacob Saulwick, Sydney Morning Herald, 21st Oct 2015.

As indicated by the above article, the Baird Government intends to make sweeping changes to local government in New South Wales; and by sweeping they mean 'streamlining' and by streamlining they mean 'axing'.
This is obviously a cost cutting exercise, which more than likely lead to a reduced quality in services and whilst I feel sorry for the inevitable job losses and the families who will suffer as a result of the axe being wielded, I do not feel sorry for the organisations which are being reorganised out of existence.
One of those local councils which the Government probably intends to axe is Mosman Municipal Council and golly, gosh, darn and gee, haven't they been kicking up a stink about it?

To Mosman Municipal Council, if you should suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and suffer an existence failure, to you I say: good! Good riddance to bad rubbish! In the more than a decade that I've been working within your environs, I've found you to be  most troublesome and annoying thing. Your staff are excellent but they have had to carry out policy which was enacted by jackaninnies.

Mosman Municipal Council is probably unique among local government in Australia in that within its borders there is only one suburb and only one postcode. Places like Balmoral, The Spit, Spit Junction and Chowder Bay are all localities but they have never been afforded suburb status by the office that determines geographical place names in NSW. The last time that Mosman's status was threatened, the council threatened to split the suburb into five; which it hoped would defer the chop but that never happened.
Within this one postcode, one council, is either the first, second or third richest suburb in the country and I put it that it is precisely this which has caused so much of my ire over the years. It is not the politics of envy which bothers me but rather my attempts to do really simple things within the suburb.

In the days that I used to drive to work, I faced a morning battle to find a parking spot. Mosman Council had lovingly put up signs which restricted parking to two and one hours across the suburb, which is fine if you want to keep traffic moving but terrible if you need to park somewhere all day. The exemption to this was a resident parking permit which makes sense but because I am an employee of a business, I was not allowed to apply for a parking permit. As a business, even though we are ratepayers, we still weren't allowed to apply for a parking permit.
This just seems like crazy stuff to me. Businesses generate... business. That business puts money into the local economy. Mosman Council doesn't really give a rip about this and when this was expressed by several business owners at Council meetings, the response was that because they weren't residents, they shouldn't be entitled to parking permits. The opinion by the council is that in maintaining a 'village feel' they felt that residents should be the biggest benefactors of council decisions. One of the unintended consequences of restricting parking though, is that people tend not to stay and spend a lot of money. There are a few really expensive boutiques which cling on because they have been there for years but there are more shop fronts which have been boarded up due to lack of tenants than there are operating businesses in some parts of the high street.

Parking II:
Mosman boasts some really stunning beaches; the biggest being Balmoral and Chowder Bay. However, Mosman Council in all its stunning wisdom had decided to install stunning parking meters next to those beaches. Again, local residents are exempt from paying because of their parking permits but the council would prefer that everyone else stay away.
I have been to places in southern France where there are private beaches and I can tell you that its very annoying indeed. When you are told to move on or are threatened with a fine for trespassing, it ruins your day. Now admittedly, Mosman hasn't sold the beaches to private hands ( if they were allowed to I suspect that they would) but by putting up parking meters and parking restrictions, they have in effect erected barriers to entry. This means that from the outset, people who live in suburbs which don't have beaches are less likely to even consider a day out to the beach in Mosman, which I suspect suits the council and its residents down to a T, if it keeps the riff-raff out of the area. I bet that if some bypass could be built underground and sent the traffic that currently goes down Military Road elsewhere, that the council would be fine with that too - in fact anything which could keep the scum class (which begins in neighbouring North Sydney Council) out of the Most Serene Republic of Mosman, which would include armed border checkpoints and immigration checks at Mosman Ferry wharves (and sending boat arrivals to Shark Island), would also be voted for in a heartbeat by Mosman Municipal Council.

Even though the business that I work for is a ratepayer because we don't have a streetfront, we aren't entitled to a rubbish bin. Despite not being entitled to a rubbish bin, we aren't given a discount on council rates. This means that in effect, we are paying for a service that we're not even entitled to. Under most normal circumstances you wouldn't pay for literally nothing but with council rates, you have no choice.
The obvious trade off would be to allow us to put our rubbish into council bins but no, Mosman Council sneakily designed the covers of their bins so that you can't fit anything more substantial than a single plastic bottle through the opening. If you do have a football sized bag of rubbish, then you have to open the bag and place each item in the bin separately and without a council ranger from spotting you doing it because they can and will issue a fine.
Yes I realise that litter is a problem but this convergence of factors has led to situation of great annoyance. Even if you try to be tidy, Mosman Council lets no good deed go unpunished.

Council Rangers are efficious at the best of times and their job demands it but Mosman's rangers have taken this efficiousness to a standard of their own. In Horse 1606 I told the tale of how one of them stopped small children from pulling coins from a fountain but it doesn't stop there. I've seen the rangers tell off children for kicking balls on the Village Green, riding scooters through Mosman Square and most ridiculously of all, playing cricket on Mosman Oval. They're quite supercilious and pugnacious and all too quick to chalk people's tyres if they happen to overstay parking limits by even two minutes.

Usually it is a good idea that someone serving on a council should live within that council area but in 2012 Belinda Halloran only resigned her post as Deputy Mayor after the The Daily Telegraph published her plans to continue acting on the council after moving to San Francisco.

It doesn't surprise me in the slightest that Mosman Council wishes to remain independent but I think that the Baird Government is making the right choice here. I think that it's probably fair and reasonable that Mosman be amalgamated with North Sydney Council or Manly Council and will reduce duplicate costs.
The experience of the merger of South Sydney City Council with The City of Sydney Council indicates to me that amalgamations like ones proposed work perfectly fine. In that respect, Mosman Municipal Council is probably not only "not fit for the future" but probably also "not fit for the present"; my prejudices aside.
As someone who has written more than 40 quarterly cheques made payable to Mosman Municipal Council, I've often felt that I've not been getting value for money; even though I do like the library.

Hey hey, ho ho - Mosman Council has got to go.

October 21, 2015

Horse 2011 - Back To The Past To Imagine The Future

Seeing as today is October 21, 2015; which is the date that Marty McFly travels to in Back To The Future Part II (the rubbish middle one), I thought I'd look into two cars which may or may not have been visions of the future.

Firstly I'll start not with either of those but the star of the Back To The Future trilogy, the DeLorean DMC-12.
John DeLorean who was an ex-engineer at General Motors had previously worked on the Pontiacs GTO, Grand Prix and Firebird and then the no so stellar H-body Chevrolet Vega. His eponymous DMC-12 which was built in Belfast of all places, had the 2.8L V6 out of the Renault Alpine A310 and Volvo 242. It's somewhat gutless 134bhp meant that it would get up to its top speed of 140mph eventually but not even the famous gull-wing doors couldn't convince enough buyers to part with their cash abd within 2 years, the project folded; having been a giant farce from the beginnning.
The only reason that the DeLorean achived any lasting fame was because of the movies.

The Ford Probe in Back To The Future Part II is most likely a 1988 Probe Mk1. It's basically the cousin of the contemporary Mazda 626 and under the hood had a 2.2L inline-4, producing 110bhp.
I don't know exactly if the example in Back To The Future Part II is supposed to be representative of the future, or if it's supposed to be a 27 year old car which has undergone some sort of conversion but I do know that as a movie car, this is the one that I remember the most from this yawnfest of a film.

This 1992 car is a prototype which existed before the 1993 film "Demolition Man", starring Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes came out but this is the other vision of the future of a motor car that I most remember from film. The GM Ultralite also appeared in the 1999 movie Bicentennial Man, with Robin Williams and Sam Neill in it.
Like the Ford Probe, it also threw out a miserly 110bhp but it did so from a inline-3 cylinder engine which was two stroke as opposed to the normal four stroke engines found in cars. The car was mostly an exercise in materials technology and the whole car only weighed 635kg; as a result it could sip at 2.7L/100 km.

This is the thing about trying to imagine cars from the future, invariably because there's always the element of having to build the possible, then these imaginings end up being not that far away from something which will exist. The impossible remains impossible but the possible moves a couple of steps closer because someone imagined it.

That big swooping line on the Probe would not look pit of place on a current Honda Civic. The bulbous and rounded lines of the GM Ultralite look decidedly normal now as compared with the Ford Taurus circa 1999, or even the latest Mazda 3. These cars which embodied the future in the late 80s and early 90s wouldn't look out of place at all on modern roads and there's something a little bit sad about that.

Admittedly the imaginings of the 1950s, when cars suddenly sprouted fins still look like the future imaginings of the 1950s but if you were to take something like the lines of the Citroen DS19 and clean up the obviously outdated decorations, suddenly you have a car which still looks like it's from the future.
I've said it before that I think that the KE20 Toyota Corolla if it didn't have it's 1960s fake plasticy chrome to adorn it, would also look like it was still from the future.

Thanks to improvements in plastics technology and even in paint technology, car designers can pretty well much make cars look like whatever they feel like. I still find it disappointing that cars like the Toyota Corolla and the Hyundai i30 look so very similar. As soon as one trend in fashion hits the auto market, then suddenly everyone builds their own bandwagons and plays the same tune.

The real problem for car designers is to come up with something markedly different and is yet still acceptable to the public. As a design exercise, the GM Ultralite looks amazing but the practicalities of owning a car with gull-wing doors and no B-pillar would render it very annoying very quickly indeed to the average motorist if it was ever going to be sold. The future Ford Probe in the above picture has as far as I can see, no openable doors at all.
The DeLorean was itself a hideously impractical car for precisely this reason. I can't think of any sensible reason why anyone would have bought it when far more competent cars like the Mazda RX-7 or the Datsun Fairlady Z existed. The most futuristic car of the 1980s though had to be the Lamborghini Countach. This was a car which had been a product of the 1970s but through various iterations had become so outrageously bonkers, so expensive and so mind warpingly quick that it earned the right to wear its stupidly impractical scissor doors. I suspect that the GM Ultralite with its gull-wing doors was just like the DeLorean in that it was writing style cheques it knew it couldn't cash.
Both the future Ford Probe and the GM Ultralite, with their covered wheels would present the driver with an absolute headache if they were driving along and needed to change a tyre (unless those covers unlock somehow).

I haven't been to a motor show recently and so I can't say what future car being imagined today would look like but the interior of the current Honda Civic Type R (FD2) makes me think that the only possible direction that future dreamings for motor cars can go, is to either remove the steering wheel entirely and have the car drive itself, or move into some sort of super head-up display mode where every possible menu item is shown on the windscreen like some sort of fighter jet.

The exterior of whatever future visions of the future are going to be, are still constrained by the same design elements that were always there. The function of a car is to move people around. In doing that, there needs to be some place to put the people, door to be able to get in and out, some windows to look out of, some sort of propulsion device to make it go, lights to light the way and to indicate to others where you are going. Those things haven't really changed since the inception of the motor car.

PS: I still think it neat that even in the imagining of 2015 in Back To The Future Part II, if you look in the top right hand side of the picture, there's still an orange Volkswagen Beetle. I'd like to think that any vision of the future includes at least a few of those for a long time to come.

October 19, 2015

Horse 2010 - A Tragic Tale Told In Three Letter Words

I am Tim and I am six. I had a bad day.
I had my toy bus and my toy car and I was out on the tor and I saw it all.

I saw it. I saw it.
The bad fox has got the red hen!
How sad; too bad. I cry and I cry, for the red hen did not see it at all and now she is of old.

The cat is not sad. He is not mad. The cat is not sad at all. The cat can not see how bad it is, for the red hen did not see it and now the bad fox has got the red hen.
My dad did not see. My dad is out. My mum did not see, for she is out too. The one who saw it was me and I am the one who is sad.

How I cry! Me the one and one of all who saw the bad fox get the red hen. I saw her go icy, I saw her go wan. The red hen did die. She did. The bad fox got her. The red hen was and now she is not. She was and now is not a red hen. A bit of her is yon and a bit of her is yon; for the bad fox got her and now she is not.

The cat did see but he is not sad. The cat is sat on the mat but he is not sad. He is hot; he is old. He did not run for the fox; he did not get the fox. I am mad at the cat for he he did nil. The cat did nil as the bad fox got the red hen. The cat has got a wen on his leg and an ant on his ear and so he is not a bad cat. He is an old cat and he did not run. He did not try at all.

How can I say to all of the bad fox and of all he did? The red hen did not fly and nor did she run. She sat and she sat. She did not see the fox at all. Her lot is up. She sat as if she was not sad at all but now she is not. The fox is a cad, a cur and an oik. He did not get an egg, for the fox got her.

Can I say of the red hen to mum? Can I say of the red hen to dad? I saw as the fox had ire. I saw as the fox bit her leg. I saw her die. I saw her die. I cry and cry for I saw her die. My eye is wet for I cry and cry. I saw her die. How can I go on?
Who is sad for the red hen? Not mum, not dad, not the cat and not the fox!

The fox is not sad for he has won. He has won his lot. He bit the red hen. He bit the red hen, got her and ran. Is he bad for all he has won? Is the fox a dad? Has the fox got a kid of his own? If the fox has a kid, he or she can eat now. The fox and his kid can sup now but the red hen can not. If the fox has a kid, I am not mad but I am sad. The fox got the red hen and he ran.

I do not cry now but I am sad. I put on my hat and I go out. One day, we all go the way of the red hen, for we all die. It is sad but we all go on.

October 16, 2015

Horse 2009 - Alfa Romeo Mito: A Car That Makes No Sense But I Still Want One

On Monday I finally got the opportunity to do something which I've always wanted to do; that is drive an Alfa Romeo Mito. One of our clients said that they drove one and I explained that I think that it is as cute as a button and must be fun to drive. Half an hour later, I drove the car from Mosman to Hornsby and this is where this tale begins.

One of the things that any proper petrolhead has to tick off on their list of cars to own, if they truly are a petrolhead (no such thing as a true Scotsman) is an Alfa Romeo. Sure, Alfa Romeos have a reputation of breaking down and their fame for developing rust is so bad that they come with a six year anti-corrosion warranty (which is itself gimmicky) but that's the thing about a car like an Alfa Romeo. They aren't like normal cars, they're infused with Italian passion to the point whee they leak character (and many litres of oil) everywhere they go.

The 1.4L engine is an interesting animal. When married to the six speed gearbox, it wants to spin up and run away but only runs out of puff. Being only 1.4L and with the kind of torque that a household mixmaster could beat, it had to be mated to a six speed manual gearbox, just to give the driver enough torque to make the car useable at road speeds. The result is that you end up having to move your hand about as though you were mixing cake batter. You end up doing more changes per mile than there are changes in the weather in Melbourne.
The clutch is not that great either. You have to put your foot to the floor to make it work but then the amount of travel to find the bite point is practically nil. I was assured that this is similar to a Maserati and if this is the case, then I don't particularly want to drive a Maserati.
For reasons that I do not understand, the pedals are offset towards the centre and the only place that I could find that was remotely comfortable to drive from was one where my knees where up around my ears but my arms were stretched out in front like Kermit the Frog.

Visibility out the back though is rubbish and whilst you'd like to look in the mirrors to change lanes, I'm convinced that the blind spots are bigger than the areas that you can see out of but that is a common thing with modern cars. In an effort to make them all appear sporty, every car now has a belt line which rises as you go further to the back; as result, so many rear windows on cars are like looking through the slits of a bird watcher's hut. If I was a four year old in the back seats, I would have a view of the sky and nothing else; so it's no wonder today's children demand their own personal cinemas. We don't give them windows to look out of any more, what else are they expected to look at? Not that they'd fit in the back anyway because unless they're so small that they're installed sideways in a baby crib, the only children who'd fit back there are the sort with no legs. The Mito barely qualifies as a 2+2. Maybe a 2+0.2?

It isn't all bad news though. The suspension is firm as you'd expect from a car that purports to be sporty and the handling is simply stunning. It helps that the wheels are jammed into the corners but where the car shines is going through a series of corners with a change of elevation.
The car wants to corner flat but there's a wee bit of give to let you know that the wheels are reading and flowing with the tarmac. The car is a little pitchy because the wheelbase is so short but there's almost no roll and the car points where you want it to go like an excited little Jack Russell.

The Mito is a uniquely frustrating machine whose flaws are immediately obvious to all who step into it but I'm willing to forgive all of it because it comes with something that a Camry, Mazda 3, Audi A4 or BMW doesn't come with - a personality; even though it's chaotic.
It's almost as if the design team who put the Mito together were never in the same room. It's simultaneously annoying and rewarding at the same time. It's an Italian Opera by Puccini with a full orchestra and a kazoo. It is pasta prima vera with a banana it. It is a car that you want to love and hate at the same time. It makes you want to drive it for a thousand miles whilst also making you want steer it straight towards the nearest tree.

It probably handles better than the Ka that I had but you'd never notice it because of all its other shortcomings. I think that at $21,500 it is certainly the cheapest car that you can currently buy from any manufacturer which has won the Formula One World Championship and therein lies the appeal. Just the mention of the name Alfa Romeo conjures up images of an era when racing drivers wore leather helmets, goggles and scarves. The Alfisti are as fanatical as the Tifosi and there's a great deal of kudos in the badge on the front but it still doesn't change the fact that if you want a car in this class that you have to live with every day and you are a boring person, you should be getting a Mazda 2, Fiesta or if you have no personality at all, a Yaris or a Polo.

It is a car which is unashamedly Italian; which could have only come from the Po river valley. The hint is the badge on the front which is of a snake eating a person. Once you get bitten by Alfa Romeo, you're done for. 
Alfa Romeo doesn't give you a car that makes sense, they give you a car that gives you emotions: like joy, anger and confusion. The Mito is all of those in a cute little package that makes no sense at all... and I want one.

October 15, 2015

Horse 2008 - The Longest Domestic Flight... In The World

Australia's national airline Qantas, has recently started a regularly scheduled service between Sydney and Dallas. This means that at 13,756 km, QF7 outbound and QF8 inbound are the longest scheduled flights in the world.
On a forum which I visit, we decided to ask the question of "what is the longest domestic flight in the world?" The answer which I claimed, is significantly further than what anyone else did but it does bring into question of what the nature of a domestic flight is in the first place.

In a lot of people's minds the United States is made up of New York, New England and the east coast and Los Angeles, California and the west coast. The vast interior which presumably is made up of nothingness and amber waves of grain, even has the nickname of "the flyover states" because this is how a lot of people view them. America because of its bigness is the first candidate for finding the longest domestic flight but you can only really go from Los Angeles to New York in one hop. Alaskan Airlines doesn't fly to the east coast and neither does Hawaiian. Los Angeles to New York is a distance of 3,943 km.
The next obvious candidate for the world's longest domestic flight is in Canada, which also shares the North American continent. Air Canada (amongst others) flies from Vancouver to Quebec which is only 3,628 km but if you were to turn the globe, there is one even more obvious candidate.

Stretching across eight time zones (maybe?) is the mostly frozen and empty land of Russia. Some time after the breakup and collapse of the Mongol Empire, the Rus and the Tatars reasserted their control over an even vaster nothingness than America.
There is a pair of daily flights from Moscow in the west to Uelkel, which is way way over in the east and getting towards the Bering Straight. At 6,307 km, this is a truly monumental haul; which is made all the more impressive when you consider that it's probably being done with aging Ilyushin aircraft of dubious quality.
I tried to find a flight from Kaliningrad which is in the eponymous Kaliningrad Oblast in the west and surrounded by Lithuania and Poland but that all became academic as an even longer flight suddenly appeared in the competition.

Air France flies from Charles due Gaulle in Paris to the island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean; which is a distance of 9,375 km. Réunion is a very curious case because being one of the last vestiges of empire, a unique solution was found for it.
The British Empire was one on which the sun did not set because God could not trust the British in the dark. Having learnt the hard way from their experience in America, the British solution of how to administer an empire was to appoint governors and client rulers over foreign territories. This meant that places like Hong Kong which was a Crown Colony because of the Letters Patent of 1843, Canada, the six colonies in Australia, India and the colonies in the Caribbean, were never officially part of the United Kingdom and always remained separate; this was also confirmed as a consequence of the Colonial Laws Validity Act 1865.
France however was far less organised and so the little island of Réunion unlike New Caledonia, was neither independent not separate. A flight from Paris to Réunion leaves France and then lands in France. This in principle is like a flight from Seattle to Anchorage in that the plane which takes off in one country, lands in the same country but flies over another one to get there. It's just that in the case of flying from Paris to Réunion, the plane flies over a whole bunch of countries.
Réunion sends members to both the Assemblée nationale and the Sénat French parliament and the people of Réunion vote in European Parliament elections.

This is where the story gets strange though.

The longest scheduled domestic flight that I could find in the world flies from Sydney to Sydney. Yes, that sounds idiotic but it flies from Sydney to Sydney via Antarctica and it travels a distance of 13,572 km. The crazy thing is that it only flies over Australian territory.
The Australian Antarctic Territory like the Keeling and Cocos Islands, Christmas Island is an Australian overseas territory but unlike those places which have permanent populations, the people living there vote in Federal elections, in the seats that they would otherwise have normally resided if they were living elsewhere in Australia.
Even though there aren't more than maybe half a dozen flights over the Australian Antarctic Territory and even though they exist purely for sight seeing purposes, they leave via the domestic terminal, arrive back at the domestic terminal, no passports are needed to fly and like any other flight they are designated a flight number.

I guess that the reason that this is problematic is that the departure and destination point are the same. Because the flights over Antarctica leave from the domestic terminal, they might even depart and arrive from the same gate; giving you a net distance travelled of nil. To me this is like making a round Australia journey in that you travel thousands of kilometres and end back up where you travel started but isn't that what people going on holiday from Paris to Réunion ultimately do anyway? If you go on a two week holiday, then you end up going home at the end of it. Going for a flight over Antarctica just means that you get home quicker and since this is about the longest domestic flight in the world rather than the destination, I think that this is technically correct; which is the best kind of correct.

For those people who want to travel on what I think is the longest domestic flight in the world, the next of departs on 7th Feb 2016. Flights do leave from Melbourne but that's a shorter flight.
Link: http://www.antarcticaflights.com.au/

October 14, 2015

Horse 2007 - Property Prices and Talkback Radio

If you'd been listening to talk back radio this week, you'd have thought that just the prediction of a slow down in property price growth was utterly terrible. If you'd heard the carry on about the merest hint that property prices might even fall by 20%, then you'd conclude that a market correction or slowdown was worse than ISIS. Forget suicide bombers in Turkey or a 15 year old shooting an NSW police employee in Parramatta - falling property prices are literally the worst thing ever in the history of the universe; worse than terrorism and I kid thee not people said that falling property prices are worse than lSIS and worse than Hitler.
I get the impression that if property prices in Sydney were to fall by 20%, then the entirety of civilisation itself would come to a shuddering halt and the earth will plunge into the sun.
This great wen we call Sydney, is so obsessed with property that it has almost ceased to manufacture real products within its environs, is the measure by which society actually values people and I'm convinced that the only reason that the two daily newspapers in Sydney continue to operate is on the back of the revenues generated by people advertising houses that people are selling to each other.
The difference between Sydney and a pot of yoghurt is that after 200 years, a pot of yoghurt develops a culture. Sydney as a city refuses to and quite frankly, is more concerned about the value of the land that the pot of yoghurt is sitting on.

There are only three kinds of people who truly benefit from rising property prices.
There are people who are just about to sell their houses; rising property prices mean that they can get a higher list price without doing any real work whatsoever. Landlords like rising property prices because they can then justify rent increases without doing any real work whatsoever. The last group of people who like rising property prices are real estate agents; whose whole income cones from living inside the space between lessors and lessees and creaming their cut from the top. Real estate agents who maintain rent rolls on behalf of lessors certainly do no real work whatsoever and when it comes to buying and selling houses, they prefer to run auctions because they can cream a larger cut from the top of the sale for as little work as possible.

There's a really strange sort of irony in the fact that people who pull in more of their income from directly owning property and collecting rent, of owning part of property trusts which collect rent, are often the sorts of people who complain the loudest and longest about the government taxing them and then making transfer payments. The irony is that for most people who earn less than about 60% of AWOTE, their biggest expense is usually rents and those people are the direct recipient of those rents. There's also a rather interesting display of hypocrisy here in that rents are more likely to be paid from the proceeds of doing real work but collecting rent requires almost no real work whatsoever.
Actually in my personal experience, landlords and real estate agent are almost totally derelict in doing any real work whatsoever. I've been in a few places now where basic maintenance needs to be done and either because landlords are lazy or maybe willfully neglectful, they avoid it altogether. Even doing any real work whatsoever, is too much of a task for landlords and real estate agents but the second that tenants stop paying them for some reason, all sorts of fire, brimstone, Sheol and Hades are rained down.

The people who shouldn't care about and probably don't need to care about rising or falling property prices are those people who have laid off their mortgages and live in a house that they own outright. For them, it matter not a dot, not an iota, nor a tiddle; zero, zip, nada, nought, nothing and zilch, what the price of their house is or whether it is nominally rising or falling, except in incidental costs inllcurred as a result of council rates.
Someone who lives in their own house, doesn't pay anyone else rent; nor do they collect it. An owner occupier only really needs to bat an eyelid at the subject when they choose to move houses or at the point that they have died and their estate needs to be liquidated; at that point they can't care anyway because the grave sort of renders that difficult.

The people who would actually benefit from falling property prices are renters and people looking to buy. People who are looking to buy property, once they have settled on a property, transform into a lessor or an owner occupier. People who are renting and more than likely are doing real work to pay for that rent, unless they receive transfer payments, would very mub like to see falling property prices because this results in a pause in the amounts demanded that they should pay. I have never ever ever ever heard of rents falling as a result of falling property prices and I suspect that such a thing is like a blue swan. Such a thing may exist and it is conceivable but there's probably a greater chance of me becoming Prime Minister before that happens.

I don't think that a market correction or property prices falling by even as much as 20% is likely to be all that calamitous or even noticed by much of the general public. I don't think that falling property prices are worse than terrorism, or ISIS, or even Hitler, as much as callers to talk back radio would have us believe. The only reason that it gets so much airplay is that the people of Sydney are obsessed with property prices and the sort of people who complain the loudest and longest are those people who try do do no real work whatsoever if they can get away with it.

Dear ISIS,
If you really want to destabilise western societies and cause as much outrage and have people complaining really loudly, why not start investing in cheap affordable housing? By buying property and undercutting the complaining classes, you'll lower rents and you'll start to lower property prices. That really will get the sort of people who ring up talk back radio angry.

October 13, 2015

Horse 2006 - Prices UP + Sizes DOWN

Contrary to nutritionists, dieticians, chefs and popular opinion, I think that there are in fact six and not five food groups.
Those six food groups are:
1. Breads and Cereals
2. Fruits & Vegetables
3. Meat and Meat Substitute (you're not fooling anyone, vegans)
4. Dairy,
5. Fats and Oils
6. Purple.
Group 6, the purple group contains all of those things that come in purple packaging. Ribena, Passiona and Milka chocolate come to mind but the most important item is Cadbury Dairy Milk. The other six groups are things that you need to survive but group purple are all things you need to make it worthwhile.
Something hideous has happened in group purple though; something so hideous and heinous that Cadbury should be reported to The Hague immediately for violation of human rights. That thing is... a block of Dairy Milk has shrunk from 220g to 200g.

Shock, horror, calamity, howls of pain, blood and thunder - declare a national emergency and broadcast the sirens and warnings for people to stay in their homes. This is worse than a nuclear error and a disaster of such magnitude that not even Batman can help us.

Okay, so its not exactly the end of the world and perhaps I am using a case of hyperbole by a factor of more than a million times but it is illustrative and deeply symbolic.

Cadbury used to trade on the slogan that there was a "glass and a half of full cream dairy milk in every 250g block". That might very well have been true but a 250g block shrunk to 220g and now 200g; which means that there's only four fifths of a glass and a half, which equals twelve tenths of a glass in every 200g block and whilst 12/10ths might sound funky and modern and groovy, it's still minus 50g of what we used to get and that's un-Australian.

This has also happened with the Mars Bar which used to be 70g, then 65g, then 60g and is now only 53g. A packet of Tim Tams used to have 13 biscuits before it fell down to 11 and then 9. A Subway foot-long sandwich (and the reason that I know this merely serves to prove that I am a tightwad, a curmudgeon and rather persnickety - which are all excellent qualities for an accountant to have), is now only 11 inches long.

This happens all across the supermarket as well.
For some hitherto unknowable reason, bread is now sold in 680g loaves and not 700g, cereal which used to come in 750g boxes now comes in 700g boxes and canned goods which almost universally came in 500g tins now only come in 440g tins; that's a nightmare when you're cooking and you now have to adjust all of you proportions to be 0.88 of what they were previously. As an accountant I live in a world of numbers but for the average person who forgot how to do long division once they left primary school, this may as well be as unfathomable as theoretical astrophysics.

I suspect two things going on here for the price of what is now less than one.
Firstly, to increase profits, companies can either up their prices which is bad or decrease the amount of stuff inside their packaging to achieve the same effect. Firms will prefer to do the latter because its easier to underestimate the intelligence of the general public because stupidity, ignorance and lack of awareness are three products that it is impossible to glut the market with. Far better to maintain prices and stiff the customer than to send a price signal and make them angry.

Secondly, the other thing which regularly happens in supermarkets is a highly well planned out confusopoly. In an average supermarket there might be as many as two thousand different individual items. By putting some things 'on special' even though people might be being held to an overall increase in their shopping budget of about 2% a year, because they literally can not hold information about all two thousand products in their head, they'll notice the seven items on special before they notice the overall increase in their overall bill. One item that's half price or 10% off, will easily offset the nine other things that had price increases.
What's really galling is if a 440g tin of four bean mix suddenly appears on the shelf as 14% extra free for a time. All that means is that they've saved some of the 500g tins from before, so that people think that they're getting a good deal, then when the 440g tin goes back on sale on the shelves no-one will notice the increase in price when it comes back.

One of the favourite questions that I hear in court a lot, when lawyers want to show that either their adversary or their adversary's client is out of touch with society, is to ask them what the price of a loaf of bread is. Admittedly this question isn't being asked as much at the moment because both Woolworths and Coles are undercutting local bakeries by selling 85c bread at a loss but when this unsustainable madness ends, the price that they'll put the price of a 680g loaf of bread will be more than the 700g loaf of bread which used to exist. Bread is also one of those things which can be differentiated (white, brown, mutli-grain, high fibre, low GI, rye) to the point where supermarkets can even run a confusopoly for this single product.

If that weren't bad enough, the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement (or "let's swindle all consumers in the Pacific at once" agreement) now means that governments have less ability to set quotas on imports, which means that beans from Chile, pineapple from America and tomatoes from Vietnam, can be dumped on any market in the region. Ostensibly this is being done in the name of lowering prices to consumers but everyone knows that multi-national companies will be pocketing the difference and that end-user consumer prices will not change significantly.
Now we can confidently ask 'what's that got to do with the price of fish in China?' and know that South Australian skipjack tuna farmers and fishers will be more than concerned; whilst at the same time a 500g of tuna became a 455g of tuna whilst nobody noticed.

People tend not to notice increases across multiple items and are only sort of aware of a general rise in their overall grocery bills. I also fall into that category but when it comes to me buying single items on a semi-regular basis at work, like a block of chocolate to go with a coffee break, I notice these things acutely. It's akin to having the flu and experiencing an overall malaise but then stepping on a bindi-eye that hitched a ride inside the house.
I'd even go so far as to say that I probably wouldn't be aware of price increases of single items if I didn't believe that Purple is a separate food group. It is isn't it?

October 12, 2015

Horse 2005 - F1: Hamilton Storms Ahead; Raikkonen Causes Thunder (Round 7)

The Sochi Autodrom was built in the same phase of construction as the venues for the Winter Olympics of 2014 and although from the outset it was always intended as a motor racing circuit, the ribbon of tarmac which flows through what amounts to a concrete storm water drain behaves more like a street circuit and is as unforgiving. Carlos Sainz Jr, who has one of the most ironically unfortunate first names in Formula One, found this to his peril when he ran off the road and into a wall during Free Practice 3 on Friday. Toro Rosso worked frantically over the weekend to put his car onto the end of the grid on Sunday.
It was all systems normal during qualifying with an all Mercedes lock out of the front row and apart from the two Ferraris the rest of the first eight places on the grid were Mercedes powered. The weekend and the race was looked over by F1 supremo Bernie Eccleston and Russian President Vladimir Putin who must have been in some sort of secret competition of their own to decide which of them is the creepiest person in the world.

On the opening lap as Hamilton and Rosberg sped away from the field, going into turn 3, Hulkenburg spun his Force India with no help from anybody and tagged Vestappen's rear left wheel which caused it to blow and Eriksson in the Sauber had nowhere to go, running into and tangling with the stationary and backwards facing Force India.
Before the safety car was called out, Rosberg sneakily stole past Hamilton for the lead and Raikkonen found his way past Valtteri Bottas for third; in the start of what would become a race long argument. Somewhere in the chaos of backwards facing cars and tyres exploding, Romain Grosjean either ran into someone or decided that he wasn't getting enough front grip because he brought in a seemingly undamaged Lotus into the puts to adjust the front wing. After a twelve second pitstop where nothing appeared to happen, Grosjean rejoined the race behind the safety and behind everyone in the field.

After the restart on lap 4, Bottas flew past Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel almost also followed suit but his Ferrari team mate closed the door; much to his annoyance. Rosberg started to complain of a strange throttle response; which could only be explained by a glitch in the fly by wire system and on lap 8, Hamilton inherited the lead. Rosberg would bring his Mercedes into the pits at the end of the lap and looked despondent when he stepped out of the car.

Things quietened down for a while and then on lap 12, Grosjean either lost front end grip as a result of what had happened earlier, or because he lost effective grip in the slipstream of Jensen Button's McLaren. Whatever the cause was, the result was that the Lotus snapped violently and Grosjean was thrown off line. This caused the rear of the car to step out in the marbles and tear itself to pieces against the wall.
During the second safety car period, Ricciardo, Sainz, Vestappen, Button and Perez all came in on lap 13; with Perez hoping to make his new tyres last the remaining 41 laps of the race. A lap later, Alonso and Merhi also came in to attempt to do likewise.
On the second restart on lap 17, Raikkonen again surrendered third place but this time to Vettel and it took nine corners of scrapping for Ricciardo to find a way past Sainz for 10th.

Again the race settled down as Hamilton progressively built a lead and the phase of pit stops of drivers on one stop strategies began to play out.
Vestappen pitted on lap 25. Bottas pitted on lap 27 and fell from 2nd; slotting into 11th but quickly passed Sainz. Vettel also pitted from 2nd on lap 31 but in the interim had built up a sufficient cushion whilst driving in clean air that he slotted back into 6th whilst Bottas was 8th. Raikkonen came in a lap later but fell in behind Bottas for 8th place.
On lap 33, Lewis Hamilton had built up so much of a lead out front, that he pitted from 1st place and rejoined the race back in 1st place. On lap 34, Vettel made use of DRS and easily got past Perez to take 4th and Dannil Kvyat who had taken his Red Bull to 3rd, finally pitted and fell all the way to 9th.
On lap 35, Felipe Nasr pitted from 2nd place, which was the highest placing that he had ever achieved in his Formula One career but rejoined the race back in 7th.

The argument between Raikkonen and Bottas continued and on lap 36, Raikkonen had managed to pass Bottas up the inside going into turn 1 but ran wide on the exit of the corner and had to surrender third place back again. This argument would not be finished just yet.

Further down the field, the McLarens who are beginning to show signs of adequacy, highlighted their last remaining problem with their Honda power units. In periods where top end power doesn't matter, the chassis is quite fine but where the regenerative braking system is supposed to collect and then redeliver power through the hybrid system, Honda still hasn't worked that out.
Maldonado passed Alonso for 12th on lap 40 and Nasr repassed Button for 10th. Four laps later Maldonado also passed Button. Felipe Massa who had been relatively quiet, stormed past Kvyat.
On lap 45, Bottas passed Ricciardo for 4th and Raikkonen managed to pass, unpass, repass and unpass Ricciardo again, a lap later.

Carlos Sainz Jr's race came to a strange sort of end on lap 47 as his front brakes started to flame out; sending him into a spin at turn 8. Most drivers would have got the message after seeing flames belching forth but Sainz didn't and spun for a second time at turn 13 (which was where he'd had his Friday accident) and he clouted the wall, thus ending his race.
Raikkonen finally made his way past Ricciardo on lap 48 but this was more to do with suspension issues on the Red Bull rather than the brilliance of the Ferrari. Ricciardo's Red Bull stopped its charge on lap 49.

The tyres on Sergio Perez' Force India started to go off and both Bottas and Raikkonen breezed past him on lap 52 but their argument would come to a violent conclusion.
On the very last lap of the race, Raikkonen's temper got the better of him and he tried to jam his Ferrari into a space that it wouldn't fit into. In the process of enforcing Finn on Finn violence, he jammed his Ferrari into the side of Bottas' Williams which destroyed the rear end of the Williams and damaged the Ferrari to the point where it threw sparks all about the track.

As the word “Perkele!” was shouted by both Finnish driver, Sergio Perez who had surrendered 3rd place to them earlier, suddenly inherited it back again as Bottas went out and Raikkonen limped around the track; spewing more fireworks than a local council's New Year's celebration. Raikkonen was handed a 10-second stop-and-go penalty for causing the incident, which was in no way possible not his fault despite his stream of invective over the radio. As he could not serve this penalty during the race, this became a 30 second time penalty which demoted him to eighth in the official standings.

Hamilton who remained untroubled throughout proceedings, took home a very comfortable win, with Vettel second, Perez third; followed by Massa, Kvyat and Nasr.
McLaren managed to get their cars into ninth and tenth which is either a good sign for the future or just dumb luck after the mayhem ahead of them.

Race Results:
1. Hamilton - Mercedes
2. Vettel - Ferrari
3. Perez - Force India
4. Massa - Williams
5. Kyvat - Red Bull
6. Nasr - Sauber

"The John Logie Baird Television Was Better in 1984 Memorial Cup" at the end of Round 7 in Singapore looks like this:

46 Hamilton
37 Rosberg
30 Vettel
11 Massa
11 Ricciardo
11 Raikkonen
9 Kyvat
7 Bottas
6 Perez
4 Grosjean
3 Nasr
1 Hulkenburg

The Constructor's Championship is thus:

83 Mercedes
41 Ferrari
20 Red Bull
18 Williams
7 Force India
4 Lotus
3 Sauber