Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Lighter Side

Bloody hell - it's been a while since I have been out on the water on the jetski - so my nephew's Pirate Party at the Spit (beach just south of the Seaway) on Australia sunDAY looked like a great opportunity. Drag some kids on tubes, nick off through the seaway to jump a few waves, couple joyrides - family fun right? Wrong. First of all, when I was putting the ski in at the sneaky little ramp next to the pumping station in the park, the wheels fell off.

Well one of them. Literally.

The left hand trailer wheel basically dropped it's guts, the whole hub was stuffed. Mobile call to some Dads at Pirate Cove (arrgh) got me some volunteers and we manhandled the trailer to the water and slid the ski off. On the phone to SupaCheap and confirmed they have hub sets for a trailer so we figured we'd pop over there closer to leaving time and get the hub, fix the wheel and Bobs you're Aunty. But for now - lets get the ski thing happening.

Ah, or maybe not. Dash lights up, then the Battery warning starts it's shrill protesting whine. Oh crap. Was fine in the garage last weekend when I was doing a checkover in anticipation for this trip. Won't turn over. OK, we have jumper leads. Drive car to ski (thank god for Prados you can hang into the water), hook up jumper leads, nothing. Leave to "charge for 10 minutes that feels like 30, nothing. Give up and call Marshall, who oddly enough actually do have jetski batteries - for $150 including callout. It'll be an hour. OK, I'll wait - you lads head back to the party.

Nearly 2 hours later (as I sat on my arse and read the news off my blackberry) the Marshall arrives, we install the new battery - and guess what? Whatever is wrong with the ski ain't the damn battery. All sorts of wierdness then NOTHING from my readout LCD thingy (I am a technical kinda guy as you can see). No apparently loose leads, wires, or anything else. Mate who has 3 years of a Marine Mechanic's Apprenticeship and years racing his own boats is mystified. Bugger. So we may as well pull it out hey. Oh yeah, bloody trailer is busted. Look, you need a beer, anchor it here, no-one is going to nick it (I'm not that lucky), come to the party and have a spin on my ski, have a bite and a beer (in that order, I don't drink and ride, ever) and try to forget this for an hour or so. Good idea.

Well, I run into a guy I know on the beach with a friend of his and not 1 but 2 ski's out of petrol and the "support crew" on whatever bloody big stink boat they were out on safely ensconced back at Pallazzo Versace where the boat and ski owner lives. They call him and say "Hey bastard, we're out of fuel. Come get us." to which his response apparently was (as I found out later) to call VMR and hand it off to them. Old Mate wasn't feeling so bad by the time I told him what I had in front of me before I could even pull my dead ski out of the water. Mind you at that point he didn't realise his mate had fobbed him off to VMR and was back on the piss in 6 star comfort while they sat around like 2 shags on a rock getting pummelled by the 5 foot wash off all the Gin Palaces steaming past at 200 liters an hour. OK, beer is empty, wife is looking like she's had enough supervising 3 kids in that madhouse on her own, so I better get off to SupaCheap and fix this bloody trailer. Is it a Holden or Ford Hub? Can't read any inscriptions off the old one we have with us in greasy towell. Pretty sure this holden one is the right one. Back to the Spit - what the hell is up with this TRAFFIC??? Operation replace trailer wheel commences - to be immediately de-railed - wrong bloody hub, but we have buggered the bearing ring now. Back to SupaCheap (BLOODY TRAFFIC!!!) get different hub set, back to Spit (several near fatal road rage incidents and third different accident I have seen on the Sundale Bridge that day - what is with people running up each others arses on that bloody bridge? Is it some right of passage I am unaware of? It's more popular than Botox Parties in Paradise Waters) - this one fits. It's now like after 6pm. Wife wanted to be back in Brisbane by no later than 3. We still have to drop the Ski off at Heaths place so he can tow it to his mates who has a jetski place on the Coast later in the week for repairs. At that point I didn't want to look at the bloody ski or the bloody trailer, so I was happy to not have the thing following me all the way back to Brisbane like some faithful but defective hound. Arrive Brisbane circa 7.30 pm. Kids are tired, sandy, hungry and cranky. Wife similar. I'm all of that, with a side order of Guilt too please. I mean this whole thing is obviously my fault right? I tried to find something positive in it all - and all I could come up with was how lucky we were the hub didn't let go at 100km/hr on the M1. It probably decided to pack it in in just about the best place it could have, and at walking pace, going backwards.

Thank God for small mercies right?

Now it's Global Cooling???

OK, this is getting crazy. What happened to an Inconvenient Truth Mr Gore? I thought we had PROOF?

Now I see Andrew Bolts Blog in the CM that says:

DailyTech reports:
All four major global temperature tracking outlets (Hadley, NASA’s GISS, UAH, RSS) have released updated data. All show that over the past year, global temperatures have dropped precipitously.
Anthony Watts compiled the results of all the sources. The total amount of cooling ranges from 0.65C up to 0.75C—a value large enough to erase nearly all the global warming recorded over the past 100 years. All in one year time. For all sources, it’s the single fastest temperature change ever recorded, either up or down.
Check the graphics of
data from the four big monitoring centres here.
Another warming scare - this one peddled by Al Gore - bites the dust:
A team of scientists have found that the economic damages from hurricanes have increased in the U.S. over time due to greater population, infrastructure, and wealth on the U.S. coastlines, and
not to any spike in the number or intensity of hurricanes.
Alarmist Tim Flannery should also read this report ... and apologise for having spread the warming scare with this claim:
As it has warmed over the past decade, the world has seen the most powerful El Nino ever recorded (1997-98),
the most devastating hurricanes in 200 years (Mitch 1998, Katrina 2005), the hottest European summer on record (2003) and the first South Atlantic hurricane ever.
In fact, as this NOAA report says, Katrina was the “most devastating” only because there was more to damage where it hit (even overlooking the fact that the worst damage was in fact caused not by the hurricane itself but a breached levee). “Most devastating” is a meaningless term in assessing whether global warming is making hurricanes worse:
The results illustrate the effects of the tremendous pace of growth in vulnerable hurricane areas. If the 1926 Great Miami Hurricane were to hit today, the study estimated it would cause the largest losses at $140 billion to $157 billion, with Hurricane Katrina second on the list at $81 billion.

I have been saying for ages that the CORRELATION between our man made co2 outputs, and a rise in global temperatures in the EXTREMELY recent past does not mean there is CAUSATION. The UN’s panel of scientists put out consensus reports, based on limited data. Even with EXTENSIVE data, how hard is it to get scientists to agree on causation? How has it come about that these scientists have the appearance of such unilateral agreement on such a massivley complicated and poorly understood area? On the data, it would have been cavalier in the extreme to ignore the POSSIBILITY we had something to do with the rise in temperatures, but everyone seemed to just leap to us being the sole or substantial cause with very little in the way of robust debate or exploration of alternatives.

Are you all as sick as me of adamant scientists being utterly wrong in light of later discoveries and new data? Why can’t they just say “Look, we don’t really know. For THESE reasons, it looks like THIS might be what’s going on - but we need to know more about THIS stuff before we can really say. In the meantime, it might be prudent to start doing stuff like THIS, but don’t go nuts til’ we know a little more OK?”

Oh no no no. That won’t sell papers, or raise funds, or fuel agenda driven lobbying so someone always finds enough credible looking propeller heads to say what they need them to say to advance their particular goals.

And we poor slobs never really know what the hell is actually going on.

ABC spells Tall Poppy

In the wake of the ABC Childcare share plummet, I have observed some Blogs and comments by the public on Emminent Newspaper websites like the Courier Mail. The public reaction has on the whole been something between glee and vindictive glee at the amount of money the Groves' have lost.

How typical.

Some people are suggesting that we have the Government run all Childcare. Why is that the Governments job? And we are supposed to think they'd do it well? Like Hospitals hey? Brilliant idea. They provide subsidies for low income earners, they regulate the industry to protect kids and workers, lets leave it at that. Childcare is provided by a businesses. Businesses need to make a profit. ABC is LISTED, so it needs to perform for it's shareholders too - which include Mums and Dad's directly and through Superannuation and other managed investments. Someone else suggested capping the allowable profits. Nice precedent. Really thought that one through.

This is a MASSIVE over-reaction by a jittery market. Look at the business fundamantals. Demand exceeds supply. Strong growth. In an enviroment with rising interest rates and more financial pressure on families, MORE people need to return to work, which will drive demand for childcare.

I'd like to buy ABC shares like crazy. They're a bargain, and Eddie Groves has been badly hurt by the financial press looking for a sensationalist new disaster story now that MFS is old news.

And Brisbanites love to beat up a local success story. It's sick.

The 1001

Sounds like a new TV Series form the States. 1000 specially gifted individuals and their Leader bringing the World to a new Utopic existence by solving all the imponderable conundrums of the 21st Century in one massive talkfest. Like Hero's crossed with Numbers.

However the reality is less prosaic. What we really have is Opinion Polling By Proxy crossed with Plausible Deniability. The media will cover all the agenda driven genius ideas these Annointed Ones put forth, the Party Researchers will monitor public reactions in the blogosphere, in letters to the editor, callback radio and with their other usual research methods to work out which ones Poll well, and Kev can hitch his wagon to the popular ones without fear of coming up with a bad idea on his own. The flags that get torn to shreds before they're halfway up the pole are just someone elses ideas and suggestions - nothing to do with the Government. How terribly neat. And they think they look open, inclusive and consultative while they're doing it. A real Man for the People is our Kev. He really cares what we have to say. He listens. Yes indeedy.

What a terrible facade. What a transparent sham. What a thin disguise for a Government more concerned with Symbols and Announceables than substantive policy. So far in his leadership Kevin Rudd has confirmed his place as the most groomed, preened and artificial Prime Minister we have seen yet. The product of a veteran Lobbyist and a PR Machine, Rudd is all about the Ratings. He has issued a glut of symbolic and stylized Announcements that get adoringly reproduced and embellished by the Media for uncritical consumption by the Punters who were starved of good, old fashioned self-promoting politics by a Coalition Government that pretty much stuck to it's knitting and trusted the public to be able to sort the wheat from the chaff. Oops. Howard should have said Sorry, and signed Kyoto. But he forgot that being PM is as much about the Show as the Substance, and he lost touch with how the man in the street felt, and how the media works. He could have done these things and more with no danger to himself or his Government, but he was far too much a man of principle to make what he saw as hollow, meaningless gestures that would at best give false expectations and at worst gloss over real problems with symbolic placebos. In the end he seems to have forgotten what it means to be a politician in a modern democracy.

So soon we will have The 1001 sitting down in Canberra charged with delivering policy inspiration for a new Government that has already run out of workable ideas that go deeper than the 2 or 3 points on which they managed to carry an election. Now I don't know about you, but I have been involved in these brainstorming sessions, some organised by Government (notable Labour Again for their Queensland Creative Industry Economic Strategy), some within an industry - and the bigger they are, the more open they are and the less selective you are with who participates and what the session is focussing on - the more useless the process becomes. What we have here is a massive group, an unlimited agenda, a deliberately non-selective process (except for a handpicked committee from which all the real output will to the Government will flow) and absolutely ZERO chance for implementation of outcomes in a meaningful way.

Shouldn't we be alarmed that the Government has the TIME for this symbolic claptrap? They have been in Opposition for 11 YEARS! Are we to believe that in all that time they didn't work out what they would concentrate on in at least the first term if they ever got back in? They should be so busy implementing all their well considered and planned policy that pointless talk-fests should be the last thing on their minds. But clearly that isn't the case. Or maybe it is, but they're doing it anyway because they think it will look good to the punters. You know, like they care, and want to listen. So at best it's cynical and fatuous flattery, and at worst it's a sign of a Government without a clue.

Well I feel good about how things are going. What about you?

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

For Corby, Justice may be Blind

Despite the fact that there is no way an Australian court could make a finding of guilt beyond reasonable doubt, I fear that an Indonesian court may not have the same difficulty. It should not be about proving innocence, they should have to prove her guilt. This onus is at the heart of all functioning criminal justice systems. The Australian Government and QANTAS is not lifting a finger and that abandonment is inexcusable. John Howard should be very clearly letting his Indonesian opposite number know that he will be watching carefully to see that justice is applied and failing that he should have the Department of Foreign Affairs issue a travel warning in the strongest terms to all Australians and otherwise make sure Australian travellers are fully aware of the courtesy and respect that will be given to their freedom in that country.

I went to Bali on my honeymoon, but I would never have gone had today's climate prevailed then. As I understand it, Australia is a major contributer to Indonesia in tourism, but I think that all of us have underestimated the ease with which disaster can befall a traveller to Indonesia, and significantly overestimated the quality of the systems that protect the innocent from false imprsonment and conviction.

It is well and good to preach separation of powers, but to deny the reality of the situation is pointless. If an inept or corrupt process sees an unjust conviction arise, then the Australian Government should ensure that it intervenes in whatever manner necessary, or risk losing the support of the Australian people and disillusioning a nation.

The, at best, ham fisted and inept (and at worst corrupted) investigation by Indonesian authorities has severely damaged (and arguably deliberately sabotaged) Shapelle's case and yet nothing has been done by this Government to place pressure on them to play a straight bat or at least nothing apparent to the man on the street. She is an Australian Citizen and I would have thought we could expect our own country to protect it's citizens to the extent of ensuring procedural fairness and the right to justice in another country, even if politically those are sensitive issues. If an individual's basic human rights are to be sacrificed in the name of political convenience then we should all be ashamed.

Based on the Government's success so far in ensuring that the Indonesian Authorities behave appropriately, I hold faint hope that they will suddenly find the necessary resolve to act firmly with such an economically significant neighbour.