Just getting lazy

Watching the cartoons yesterday morning I couldn’t help but feel that Matel was just getting lazy. Their new offering was simply called “2009 Holiday Barbie (wrapped in a pink shiny bow)”. No “santas little helper Barbie” or “Modern Manhattan socialite Barbie”. Just an it’s Christmas and we should have something new for you to buy, but honestly we just can’t be bothered. Now obviously it’s no skin off my nose, as I have no desire or plan to buy a Barbie, let alone a let’s-cash-in-on-Christmas Barbie, but surely the customers who do want one deserve a bit more.

Religious rant

It’s been a while since I’ve got on this particular high horse, but I must say that you have to be concerned when a church is willing to all but split in two over the prospect of a woman becoming a bishop.

They make up 50% of the population, and are at least as smart as their male counterparts (and in many cases more so), and in the absence of a really convincing burning bush suggesting that they should stay home the whole thing makes the male hierarchy of the chuch seem like asses.

Only god knows what they’d do if they got sick and had to put their lives in the hands of a female doctor, or their freedom in the hands of a female lawyer, or their freedom to worship in the hands of a female lead government…

Earth Hour

Recently some group of nitwits cam up with a plan to have an “Earth Hour” where people would turn off lights and appliances for an hour to ostensibly save some carbon and highlight the problem of global warming.

In the leadup to it I maintained my standard skepticism for these kind of populist stunts (Does anyone other than Bob Geldof actually believe that Live Aid, Live 8 or any other similar things made a shred of difference in terms of concrete benefits for their purported beneficiaries, or effected any form of long term societal change in relation to the causes they aimed to highlight?).

The day after the event (which had been surrounded by the usual healthy pile of celebrities and media organisations passing around large helpings of feel-good back-patting self congratulations) I sat around work and had to put up with hearing person after person go on and on about how they had gone home, turned off the lights, and lit up a bunch of candles for the evening, completely missing the irony that the reason that we don’t all use candles all the time is that electric lights are more convenient, more energy efficient, and almost certainly involve the production of less greenhouse gas / carbon in their manufacture and running.

So all these people who were walking around feeling all warm and self important for doing their part in saving the world had not only missed the point, they had almost certainly done the exact opposite to their stated aim.

May the universe save us from our own stupid selves and our perpensity for populist group driven idiocy.

Wow, Vista REALLY sucks..

I’ve just been involved trying to do some stuff on a computer running vista, and even after everything I’ve read, I was still quite startled how completely hopeless it was.

It’s slow. I mean really really slow. I think there may have been another system task running in the background, but I still managed to get the graphics to stutter while playing solitaire.

It asks me to confirm almost everything I try to do. After the fifth “Windows needs to check whether you really want to do what you’ve just asked it to do” dialog box in as many minutes I began to move from finding it comical to just outright irritating.

It arrived with absolutely tons of bloatware and trialware, which I suppose I can at least in part blame the hardware vendor for, but it was still an annoyance in that it took windows ages to uninstall it all.

It remains difficult or impossible to do even simple things (like resizing a photo to be a desktop wallpaper without having it stretched so the people in it look short and fat…).

And as advertised by so many other tech blogs, it just doesn’t work with other company’s software. I won’t even start with the fun I’ve had already in this department.

Suffice it to say that if you’ve got XP, for god’s sake don’t “upgrade”, and for myself I’m profoundly glad I made the switch to a mac. OSX is soo much nicer than vista.

..and one little rant

It didn’t really fit into the science post, but another thing I found, which I can’t get past feeling is a really elegant solution to the creeping damp of expanding copyright and intellectual property privileges, is to ask the question “If IP Is Property, Where Is the Property Tax?“.

It would encourage works that are no longer financially lucrative to be un-licensed and un-copyrighted and thus pass into the public domain for the general benefit.

On the creation of “heroes”


Again I watch a bewildering cycle of absurdity play out in America.

Kid goes on shooting spree, leaves note, says that “Now he’s going to be famous”

People despair and ask why.

No-one asks why anyone could possibly need an AK47 for keeping the squirrels in check etc.

Everyone floods him all over the news, making him “(in-)famous”, and thus actualising his prediction, and serving as a nice little reinforcement for others that if you find yourself feeling like no-one, you can kill a bunch of people, “solve” your problems, and become a “someone”.

Instead how about (a) making some moves to curtail assault weapon and handgun ownership, and (b) not making it public that part of his intention was fame, so as to avoid making him a role model to other disaffected youth.


Huge pet hate

Having come back from 6 weeks in New Zealand, and being re-acclimatised to their enlightened approach to eftpos I find myself repeatedly wanting to physically punch retailers in the mouth when I got to pay for something with eftpos and they turn around and say “Oh, sorry, $10 minimum on eftpos”. Seriously. Are they institutionally retarded? Are they under some illusion that they are stuck in 1987? I even get it in large shopping centres where surely all their eftpos transactions are not going through a phone line but via the centre’s broadband internet connection (and thus removes any concern about the cost of the call to dial into the eftpos system).

And then they turn around and say “How about just adding <insert some $2-3 item I didn’t want (otherwise I would have bought it to the counter with me) > to make $10”.

Increasingly I look at them as though they have a giant moron stick poking out of theirforeheads, tell them to get stuffed, and walk out without buying anything. They either want my custom or they don’t and I’m sure they can afford to factor in the 20cents worth of call to eftpos if they realise that a $7 purchase is still a $7 purchase, and if they treat me well I’ll most probably come back in the future (because like most males I’m a terrible creature of habit, and will in future go straight back to places I know and which have treated me well (and conversely never again frequent places that treat me with rudeness or disdain)), and spend (often a lot) more there next time.

The whole thing is absurd, insulting and counter-productive, and all around puts my blood pressure and my hackles up, when I know it’s not necessary, because other countries do fine without it.

Being a little hopeful

In news out the other day the Chinese government announced that Tibetan people would not be allowed to reincarnate without permission from Beijing.

I think they kind of miss the point, on several levels, and once again come out looking pretty damn stupid.

You can say it

The case of Dr Hanif continues to show how nasty and stubborn and pig headed the current government is, and continues it’s so far predictable course. I love it.

First one court says there were no charges to answer despite the government’s assurances of “just trust us” (yeah, as if)…

Now another court said that (as I initially asserted would be the case) immigration minister Kevin Andrews made a mistake and should not have cancelled Dr Hanif’s visa.

And yet Kevin Andrews continues to stubbornly insist that he was right and everyone else was wrong, and his mates John howard and Phil Downer (foreign minister) keep on doggedly insisting that Kevin is right, and that we should just trust them because they have “classified” information that we don’t need to know about but which support their side of things.

It seems that they can’t admit that they were wrong, and that the historical treatment of aboriginals is not the only thing they are not man enough to say they’re sorry about.

Sometimes people make me so furious

..that I don’t even know what I can do.

I have been following with oscillating levels of furiousness the unfolding drama of the Indian trained Doctor from the Gold Coast who has been charged with providing material support to a terrorist organisation, after he left his mobile phone sim card in Britain with his second cousin, who has subsequently been implicated in the recent attempted car bombings in the UK.

(for those of you in NZ/elsewhere who have not heard much about this: Yes, they are actually being that ridiculous.)

The Australian federal police have forensiced his entire house and held him for questioning on no charges for 11 days (although at least here, as opposed to UK/US the police has to go back to court every 2-3 days and apply to a judge for an extension of the detention, and provide a reasonable argument as to why it was necessary).

Then when they eventually charged him (seemingly because they wanted to keep holding him, but couldn’t do so without a charge) he applied for bail, and a judge (sensibly) said effectively “He gave his cousin a sim card?? Yeah, I can see how that makes him a really dangerous person”, and granted him bail.

The thing that happened almost immediately which has got my currently fuming is that the federal immigration minister revoked his imigration visa, so that if he wasn’t in jail he would be rounded up and locked in one of Australia’s legally dubious (according to the UN and several groups specialising in International Law) immigration detention centers.

The whole thing smacks of (a) legislative interference in a judicial matter, and (b) downright vindictive f*ckwit arsehole nastiness on the part of the government (again) in a migrant legal rights issue.

I keep on thinking about my long term future in Australia with regard to staying here and naturalising etc, but in the decade I lived in NZ and was politically aware of these kinds of issues I think there may have been 1 time I was infuriated by the nastiness of the government, whereas in the 5 years I’ve been in Australia there have been 3 or 4 thing which have made me angry towards and deeply ashamed of this country’s government.

So today I once again got fuming mad, expressed my opinions (intermixed with a healthy quantity of expletives) to Simone (who, to my frequent consternation, has almost no political interest at all) and did the only think I could think to reasonably do as law abiding member of society: I wrote to the local MP (and the local federal MP and Senator..). I can only hope that they are as willing to meddle in the workings of the judiciary as the minister of immigration seems to be.

I doubt it will amount to anything, but it is about the only thing available to me to dispel my feelings of of anger, frustration, and perceived helplessness.

(And as an aside, aren’t those the three things they tell you are the foundations of terrorism recruitment in minority groups, and thus precisely what governments are supposed to avoid causing? (Just a thought). )