Monday, February 25, 2013

for grace

When somebody sent me the photos below, I thought of Grace.

Grace, of Perth Daily Photo fame takes stunning photos of, well… Perth. And while Western Australia’s capital city makes for a good subject, her photos make the town look extra special.

There are three more things we know about Grace:
  • elle aimes toutes choses francaise, surtout les patisseries, and
  • she has a lovely sense of humour, and
  • lately she has noticed the weather in Perth has been warm.

Friday, February 22, 2013

what’s in a name?

the cat is not really being sucked up by a vacume cleaner
he is just horrified at what spellcheck is doing to the english lingo

Needed a vac and couldn’t decide which model to buy, so I went with a brand name. This was a big mistake. The brand no longer represented anything beyond a name. Naturally I had thrown away the warranty card. After 3 months gave up trying to find any way to identify or contact the manufacturer. There was no company with that brand name incorporated or even registered as trading under that name. The name was air.

Bought a mini muffin one day and when I unwrapped it, the end of it was rather mangled. It had definitely not been mangled by anything mechanical, it had been ratted. Tried and failed to find anyway to tell the manufacturer their product sucks.

I do prefer a particular brand of tuna because of its taste and texture. Brands don’t always let us down. But I won’t be surprised if it does, one day, and I will never buy it again.

Supermarkets are making their second attempt to launch their own generic brands. The first time, a few decades ago, they tried to appeal based on a no frills price. It has all but fizzled out. Now, they are trying to establish their own brands as of equal quality but better value, or even of greater quality. Competitors’ brands are slowly but inexorably being starved of shelf space. I don’t buy them because I resent the manipulation behind them. Monopoly is not just about screwing the customer, it’s about screwing the supplier as well. Sooner or later suppliers of these generic brands will find their nuts [or ovaries] in a vice in much the same way our dairy farmers already have.

Today, the worst performing, once-trusted but no longer reliable, can’t find anyone interested in what I think let alone prepared to accept responsibility for their product brand, is the Labor Party.

The stuff they produce falls apart and won’t work properly. There is nowhere one can go to have it repaired. I gag on anything they ask me to swallow cos an image of ratshit keeps floating before my eyes. And they have managed to squeeze out all the little players and turn the market for votes into an oligopoly, both chains desperate to screw anyone who comes within cooee. [Well, it seems the Greens brand was synonymous with the name Brown and has, metaphorically speaking, been removed from the shelves.]

Labor no longer stands for anything. A slogan like “there are enzymes in Labor” would be as meaningful as anything they will soon trot out. They are trading solely on their name and the name is no longer one many voters are inclined to trust again, now or in the future.

To paraphrase Bill Hayden’s comment from 30 years ago, a drover’s dog could lead the Liberal Coalition to victory at the next election. In fact, it seems the Coalition is so stable it will be led by the same drover’s dog in September twenty thirteen as it was in twenty ten.

So, where do we go from here?

I shall probably vote for the coalition. The best I can hope for is that the party which is pissing on my leg is one that won’t be trying to convince me it’s raining. If no party is going to give a crap about workers, would-be-workers, the older people who built what we now have [if it hasn’t been sold], the young who should be our future, the ill who deserve some compassion, and more, then I’ll vote for the one that is open about sucking up to the world’s richest woman but will possibly pay off some the national debt as well.

There is no face or name in the Labor Party that can resurrect it now, or in the next ten years. No one with a soupcon of ambition or intelligence would throw away their political career by signing on to a stuffed brand.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. At least, it is only likely to be a bad thing temporarily. There is a huge gap in the market and, God willing, a new third force in politics will appear that actually promises to stand for something. After 3 years of being pissed on during a Coalition induced drought, voters will start buying the new brand. The Labor Party will go the way of the DLP, the Democrats, and the whackos that run what’s left of the Greens.


You might be comforted to know none of my grandiose predictions ever bear fruit. But the time, like Labor itself, has never been riper.

Monday, February 18, 2013

was it really 30 years ago?

Recent posts and comments on the 1 Billion Rising movement have reminded me of how absolutely awe inspired I was the day I first saw this photo:

[I didn't pay to use this but it came from here]

Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp was established September 1981 to protest the siting of nuclear weapons [cruise missiles]

The more authorities arrested and moved protesters, the bigger the camp grew.

In December 1982, 30,000 women joined hands around the base, to Embrace it.

In April 1983, about 70,000 protesters formed a 14 miles (23 km) human chain from Greenham to an ordnance factory at Aldermaston.

Peace camps popped up in more than a dozen sites in Britain and Europe.

The last missiles left the camp in 1991 when weapons treaties and policies changed - not as a result of the protests of course.

The camps and protests hardly brought about world peace but they helped change my world a little.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Let me confess up front that I found out about this on MT Waggin’s blog.
Not only does she take incredible photos of the incredible place she lives, and loves dogs and other critters, she has a good soul.

Babies and doggies are great ice-breakers when we are out and about - they help remind us all of what all people have in common, and think a little less of competition and other crap. But boy, is dancing a universal bonding thing or what!

This is the sort of thing that restores a little faith in human nature – well, in this case, a lot of faith in human nature – and inspires hope that social media can be a powerful force for good.

Break the Chain

One Billion Rising is a global campaign calling for an end to violence, and for justice and gender equality.

On February 14, 2013, a one-day event will be held, a call for one billion women around the world to walk away from their homes, businesses, and jobs, and join together to dance in a show of collective strength… The word "billion" refers to the one billion women who are survivors of abuse.

Founder of the movement, Eve Ensler

As of September 20, 2012, people from 160 countries have signed up to take part in the campaign. 

And yes, there are blokes and boys taking part: in the European Parliament clip there is a chap who even looks a bit like Kevin 07. [He simply refuses to go gentle into that good night.]

I don’t have the stomach to go looking for reminders of why hope is so important. The following samples of rehearsal mobs showing this truly is a global thing are all safe.

Can’t wait for the big day!

South Africa








il papa pell?

Okay, so Benny the 16th is retiring. I trust Raph Epstein didn’t really want to ask, but what are the odds of Cardinal Pell becoming il numero uno?

66 to 1, according to some.

I’d like him to win. In fact, the odds are so great I’d consider slipping him some peptides. Not only would I get rich but Pell would become an ex-pat. Sounds like a win/win scenario to me.

texting for seniors

Covered by Medicare
Driving while incontinent
Bring your own dentures
Can’t remember a flippin’ thing
I know I came in here for a reason
Wish my bowels were as loose as my teeth
Oops I spoke too soon
Some young people wouldn’t know how to wipe their bums
Now I can’t reach mine
I’d see what you mean if only my arms were long enough
It’s getting harder to do comb-overs since my hair shifted down to my ears
Free Zarb
I used to wet myself when I sneezed, now I don’t have to sneeze
Rolling on the floor laughing my arse off and now I can’t get up again

Monday, February 11, 2013

what are the odds?

What sadder thing could there possibly be
Than having the whole of our national identity
Defined by sport, or nearly all…
don’t forget gambling on two flies crawling up a wall
betting on which way two coins might fall
betting on which party might win an election
Or the chances of our footy team’s resurrection
Or which horse is faster over a short distance at our favourite track when the weather is dry but the turf is still soft and the horse is placed on an inside barrier and carrying top weight cos it’s normally faster than the other horses in similar races and the jockey is not an apprentice …

The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority is a statutory body charged with keeping dope out of sport. Sometimes it seems to me that there are a lot of dopes in sport. I think ASADA has its work cut out for it.

Lance Armstrong might be in disgrace, but I bet our entire country’s sporting reputation is looking fairly tarnished in the face of the recent scandals at the Essendon Football club. Well, that’s what happens when we corporatise community organisations. This time I mean it: I am never going to admit again that I'm an Essendon supporter - well, at least not until we win another premiership.

I thought taking a dive or match rigging were only international cricket things. Much the same as insider trading and therefore quite common and therefore perfectly respectable.
But one of our football teams has been tanking? - deliberately losing matches to gain some advantage further down the track? Who’d have thought? Bring on relegation.

But wait, there’s more:

Footballers with substance abuse/ anger management problems or sexist, racist or homophobic attitudes are one set of things, but taking drugs to CHEAT?

No. A line must be drawn. Now.
The government – authors of ha ha ideas for reducing problem pokie-playing – is talking of an enquiry into all this cheating in sport BECAUSE IT IS MAKING GAMBLING A DIRTY BUSINESS.

I’m sure Australia is not the only country with a Sports Anti-Doping Authority. I’d put money on it.
Nonetheless, having a statutory, government funded authority just to deal with this issue says something about our priorities, or what we think is the role of government.

ASADA’s 2012 annual report says the federal government gave it an appropriation of about $13 million.
And a 2011 article in the Hun puts the cost to Victoria of the Grand Prix at $100 million and rising.

Further research… well, okay, a quick and grubby glance at Google… reveals that in 2010 in NSW it cost about $450,000 per year to keep one hospital bed open. Honestly, newspaper stories like that are just unAustralian.

the inimitable leunig

Thursday, February 7, 2013

gravity hill straws lane woodend

Apparently this sort of hill is fairly common around the world. Many years ago I went to Straws Lane near Macedon and a plastic bottle full of water convinced me it was rolling uphill.

Here's an "experiment" with a sense of humour

Wikipedia says this uphill stuff is an illusion.

[I understand the third point of reference /triangulation bizzo, but a hill is a hill is a hill. ]

The slope of gravity hills is an optical illusion, although sites are often accompanied by claims that magnetic or even supernatural forces are at work.
The most important factor contributing to the illusion is a completely or mostly obstructed horizon; without a horizon, judging the slope of a surface is difficult as a reliable reference is missing. Objects one would normally assume to be more-or-less perpendicular to the ground (such as trees) may actually be leaning, offsetting the visual reference.

The Wikipedia article then goes on about some kind of physics experiment and an Ames Room – way over my head.

There is also a reference in Wikipedia to what cyclists call a “false flat”.
A low-gradient climb, usually occurring partway up a steeper climb. So-called because while it may look deceptively flat and easy (especially after the steep climb preceding it), it is still a climb.

This sort of made sense to me til I tried to plot it like a simple graph line. Now I get it even less.

It all makes me feel as stupid as Why is it so?’s professor Julius Sumner Miller.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

a post post-script

A while ago I asked for some help in deciding what sort of new second-hand car I might buy. Thanks for your help, peeps!

Ended up looking on

Fired off some questions via website email function to several car yards and, as I could not contact sellers without leaving a mobile number, opened with the request “please reply by email as I am unable to take calls”.
Specific questions included “how many kms has the car done”, “when does the registration expire”, and “where are you located?”

Only 2 yards replied by email. One answered my questions [but was located in Traralgon]. Another sent me a vague catch-all email suggesting I visit them at x and they will help me find a car that fills my needs.

My mobile’s missed call log showed that 3 yards each rang four or five times a day for more than a week. I also received a lot of calls from a number which a google search reveals is a follow-up enquiry by

A meaningful and open ad led me to the website of Shepparton Toyota, where I found a traded car for $10,900 which has travelled 94,000 country kliks. The previous owner lives in Kyabram and had all of the milestone services in his book stamped by Kyabram Ford.
Readers, I bought it [after getting a country cousin to take a boy’s look at it].

It’s a Ford Fairmont BA MkII which possibly means more to you than it did to me a month ago. Key features are adjustable pedals and a seat wot lifts up high enough for me to see over the dash. These features are complemented by a steering wheel which goes up and down or backwards and forwards. [Yes, I can hear the stampede in response to a promise like that!]

There is an information console [Black and white LED, tres passé] which provides detailed info on a vast number of additional features. As I do not have a BA in Ford Features many of them will be wasted on me.
From Shepp to Franger [predominantly hwy and fwy driving] the monster tells me it averaged 8.8 L/100 kms. I expected it to be a gas guzzler and am not at all displeased with this consumption rate.

Aunty came with me to Shepp and even squeezed her very tall frame into the driver’s seat of the purple hurtle at one point. That she was able to even manoeuvre her gammy leg past pedals is remarkable. As she drove she rediscovered the delights of driving long distances in a small car with no cruise control. She, like me, felt like a dog with worms as we scooted in the low-slung box along the hwy. We both had extremely tired and sore backs by the time we arrived at Shepp Toyota.

Transaction completed, we travelled a few hundred metres up the road for a quick breakfast at the Butter Factory caf. Aunty had two giant slabs of French toast [raisin bread] with maple syrup and ice cream.

Tummies happy, we then made our way to Longwood where I was to deliver the purple hurtle to aforementioned cousin, who bought it for $500. Aunty offered to drive the hurtle which was extremely generous of her, but no new toy could be more important than her, so I drove the hurtle to Longwood myself, while Aunty followed in fair ford luxury.

For the last leg of the journey, Longwood to Franger, I finally got behind the wheel. Bliss. Absence of Stress. Courage at roundabouts. Ease at easing onto freeways. Cup holders! Individual climate control.

The duco is in excellent nick. Have decided not to park the ford under the tree outside our house as I did the hurtle. It is currently parked along the kerb outside the house of Mr Next Door, the bin man. There might well be another post post script arising out of this decision.

As it is still a “new” toy I have yet to choose a name, but am getting accustomed to the colour.

Memo to self: Work out how to preset radio to ABC 774 and Magic 1278.

wise and knowing critters

tax office help an oxymoron

The lovely JJ (a Registered Div1 nurse in the Philippines) has come to stay in Frankston for a few months while she brushes up on her English at Chisholm TAFE.

As she is here on a student visa, she is allowed to work 20 hours per week.

Best get a TFN ASAP says I, visiting the ATO website and hoping to do the deed online. JJ does not drive and has no car but, because she has a passport and visa number does not need to apply personally for ID purposes.

And so I progress from page A to B to C and back again as the ATO website takes me round in a loop. Okay, so if you do what you always did you will get what you always got, but when I travelled in the loop three times more it was just to confirm the doing what I always did part.

No mind, there is a 1300 number we can call and speak to an operator 24/7.

The recorded message at the 1300 number offers option 1 [order forms through post] or option 2 [speak to an operator]. The second option takes one to a lot of recorded waffle designed to encourage use of online services – then suggests if one really wishes to talk to an operator one must call during normal business hours.

It almost makes sense [morally bankrupt as it is] for government to make Senna Link’s systems impenetrable. At least it will save government from haemorrhaging money.

Making the tax office system impenetrable seems decidedly stupid.

big night out

I went to see a militant Islamist  tribute band last night.
They were called “Bomb Jovi”.  They were brilliant.
Their last song “Living on a Prayer Mat” almost brought the house down.
Then this Muslim bloke started bragging about how he had the entire Koran on dvd.
I was interested so I asked him, “Can you burn me a copy?”

And that was when the trouble started……..