Archive for January, 2012

I think this the first time I have heard a news bulletin declare that a government has “stuffed up”

We do often hear the term “bungle” used in relation to government programs, usually with a caveat that “the opposition claims that…”, but I think I heard something new today.

2GB’s 5pm news bulletin contained a line declaring that the NSW Government had stuffed up the new contracts for the disabled student transport scheme.

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2GB newsreader Natalie Peters (image courtesy Twitter)NATALIE PETERS: Macquarie National News at Five. A few showers tomorrow, tops of twenty-two degrees. Good afternoon, I’m Natalie Peters.

The state government will spend an extra one million dollars this week alone to ensure all students with a disability have transport to and from school.

It’s offering some bus drivers revised contracts for term one, after a stuff up before Christmas meant a number of the contracts weren’t finalised before the return of school this week, leaving more than seven hundred students stranded.

Labor claims it alerted the Minister to the problem last Monday, but Premier Barry O’Farrell says while pen may have been put to paper then, it wouldn’t have been received straight away.

NSW Premier Barry O'Farrel (image courtesy New South Wales Government)BARRY O’FARRELL: What Mr. Picoli said at yesterday’s press conference was he became aware on Wednesday. Thursday, the Department of Education put out a media release, and I got an email update from Adrian on Sunday that said that, not only had further operators pulled out over the weekend, but seven hundred and forty families were unlikely to have transport yesterday morning.

It is true, and it seems that the government have even acknowledged it…but still, hearing a newsreader say that a government had stuffed up came as a bit of a shock. It was, however, a very welcome shock and I was very glad to hear a newsreader who was not afraid to be direct about telling the truth. Keep up the good work Natalie.

(h/t Audio: Radio 2GB. Images: Natalie Peters’ Twitter profile page, and Barry O’Farrell’s NSW Government profile page)

Samuel

January 31st, 2012 at 06:03pm

Unnecessary Convolution!

Dear Mr. (redacted),

Please accept the wish of the undersigned of a greeting which you may find acceptable given all of the reasonably foreseen and unforeseen circumstances which may impact upon your decision as to what constitutes an appropriate greeting, as may have transpired between the time at which this message was sent (which may either be the time at which it was sent by the sender, or the time at which the sender did conceive of the original idea to send the message, whichever is appropriate, but not the time at which the message was received) and the time at which it was received, taking in to consideration any delays in transmission of a technical nature which may have been or may not have been beyond the control of the undersigned, as determined at the complete discretion of the appropriate party or authority for such determinations.

The Australia Post post office and an Australia Post van in Dickson, ACTIt is the undersigned’s great pleasure to inform you that the hard drive and DVD mentioned in previous communications are now in the hands of agents of the government who, at the time of taking guardianship of said items, were engaged in argumentative bickering over what time of day constitutes the best time of the day to count the money in their tills. Presently and currently as the production of this missive is attended to by the undersigned, a government vehicle has arrived at a designated point near the aforementioned location of the aforementioned agents of the government, to make haste with the facilitation of the transportation of the aforementioned items in an effort to secure the timely provision of the service for which the items were placed in the guardianship of the government, and for which the government received a mutually agreeable amount of monetary compensation.

Yours forthwith and with the appropriate amount of deference and friendly thoughts and wishes,
The Undersigned

Samuel
(the aforementioned undersigned)

With the exception of the photo, which was not included in the original message, this is a message which I sent earlier this afternoon, having been inspired to an extent by the convoluted conversation which the post office staff were having about counting money and how the post office’s policies affect the counting of money. The photo, which was taken a few minutes after the message was sent, was added to provide some context as to who these “agents of the government” are.

For what it’s worth, “agent of the government” is a term Leo Laporte uses in his live-read commercials for stamps.com where he talks about a post office employee coming and picking up whatever it is that you are trying to post via the services of stamps.com. It’s a good description of post office employees.

January 31st, 2012 at 05:23pm

How long until this government collapses?

If the rest of the Parliament doesn’t withdraw support from them, surely the in-fighting will be the end of them seeing as the poll numbers are just getting worse and worse.

Primary support for major parties. Newspoll January 31, 2012
(h/t Newspoll/The Australian)

Two-party preferred support. Newspoll January 31, 2012
(h/t Newspoll/The Australian)

I’m at a loss to explain the two-party preferred figures. Labor and the Greens both lost ground on their primary votes, and yet the Labor number is unchanged. Are Newspoll assuming that all non-Liberal/National votes automatically get distributed to Labor?

Meanwhile Julia Gillard has suffered quite a personal setback after the events of the last few weeks.

During the break – marked by the Prime Minister dumping her written agreement with Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie on poker machine reforms and the controversy over her office’s role in triggering a riot on Australia Day – Ms Gillard’s personal standing fell. Satisfaction with the Prime Minister dropped from 36 per cent last month to 33 per cent last weekend.

Ms Gillard also gave ground to the Opposition Leader as preferred prime minister, with her seven-point lead last month halving to three points as her support fell from 43 per cent to 40 per cent while Mr Abbott’s was a steady 37 per cent last weekend.

(h/t Dennis Shanahan, Political Editor of The Australian. Note: subscription required to view entire article.)

Preferred Prime Minister. Newspoll January 31, 2012
(h/t Newspoll/The Australian)

Satisfaction with party leaders. Newspoll January 31, 2012
(h/t Newspoll/The Australian)

I think we’re in for a very interesting year in Australian federal politics.

Samuel

January 31st, 2012 at 08:51am

Dumb idea averted…but why Barry O’Farrell throught it was a good idea to start with is beyond me

I have to say that I’m happy that the ban on unleaded petrol is New South Wales has been scrapped, but I’m also a bit miffed that they came to the decision last night. If they could have just held on for another day, then I would have been able to get around to writing about how stupid I thought the idea was. You see, I was actually looking forward to the opportunity to prove that, on occasion, I disagree with politicians who are usually on my side, and I’m not afraid to take them to task over it.

Alas, Barry beat me to it.

PREMIER Barry O’Farrell has backflipped on his controversial ethanol policy, dumping a government ban on unleaded petrol due to begin on July 1.

The cabinet decided yesterday to dump the ban a week after the leaking of secret cabinet documents revealed that Energy Minister Chris Hartcher had tried and failed to get the ban dropped last month.

The dumping of the ban came after it was revealed Mr O’Farrell was proceeding with it despite advice to the contrary from Mr Hartcher, his department, the ACCC, the Crown Solicitor and two independent reports.

The ban on normal unleaded fuel was supposed to force petrol companies to make more E10 fuel to meet the mandate of 6 per cent of all fuel being made with ethanol.

(h/t Andrew Clennell of The Daily Telegraph)

To be completely upfront about this, the ban would not have affected me as I don’t use regular 91 octane unleaded petrol. I’m pretty sure (yes, mechanical me and my lack of mechanical knowledge) that my car is supposed to run on 95 octane petrol or higher, but apart from that I have had problems with previous vehicles which I put down to the 91 octane fuel. All that said, I do treat the 91 octane fuel as a backup measure if premium 98 octane unleaded petrol is not available and I need fuel. I refuse, absolutely refuse, to use the ethanol stuff.

In theory, ethanol-blended fuel is safe in modern vehicles, but as I understand it, the fuel is less efficient and so any cost savings at the bowser are quickly offset by the fact that you use more of the stuff. There was also going to be the spectacular problem that it was not going to be possible to produce enough ethanol to meet the demand, which would force the price up, potentially making the premium unleaded fuel cheaper than the ethanol-blended fuel. And then there were the strange exemptions which were going to be granted to service stations, allowing some of them to sell regular unleaded for short periods of time…a product which was not going to be manufactured because it would be almost impossible to sell due to the ban, and for which the logistics were never worked out as service stations would either have to keep an underground tank on standby for the regular unleaded or clean out the ethanol-blended tank for a day of selling the regular unleaded, after which they would have to clean it out again before putting ethanol-blended fuel in there.

Madness!

It was also part of a plan to reduce New South Wales’ carbon dioxide emissions so as to prevent mythical man-made global warming. More madness.

But to my mind, the biggest problem here was not all of that, but rather the fact that due to a poorly thought-out government policy, competition was going to be reduced, choice was going to be reduced, and the consumer was going to suffer.

I’m glad that Barry O’Farrell and his colleagues have changed their mind and scrapped this dumb idea. Now, on to my next question, why was the normally sensible Alan Jones in favour of this idea?

POWERFUL 2GB broadcaster Alan Jones has been revealed as having passionately lobbied the state government to stick with a 6 per cent ethanol mandate which marked the end of unleaded petrol.

The former Liberal speechwriter-turned-talkback radio host unexpectedly arrived with ethanol company boss Dick Honan to a meeting with Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner last November during which Mr Jones lobbied for the mandate.

The meeting occurred a month before Mr Stoner pushed successfully in cabinet against a proposal from Energy Minister Chris Hartcher to dump the mandate.

(h/t Andrew Clennell and Evelyn Yamine of The Daily Telegraph)

I assume it was an ill-conceived attempt to help farmers…but surely a conservative radio host should know better. Haven’t we learnt all that we ever needed to know about the perils of having governments pick winners and losers in industry of late? Even those with the shortest of memories could point to the multiple collapses of subsidised solar energy companies in the US as example of why we don’t support governments that want to do this sort of thing.

January 31st, 2012 at 08:04am

Photo Gallery offline

Just in case you happen to be the one person who is likely to try to visit my photo gallery today (it doesn’t get much traffic any more, one or two people a day at most), please note that it is currently offline for maintenance.

I’ll say more about this later today when I’m done. For now, you can try to visit it if you like, but much of it will be working sporadically for the next little while.

Update:The photo gallery is now back online. There are one or two minor changes, but I’ll address those in a separate post as, although the changes from a user perspective are small, the changes from the backend are not.

Samuel

January 31st, 2012 at 05:43am

Why Obama can’t run on his record

This graphic says it all
Obama's horrible economic record
(h/t Darmon C. Thornton)

Now if only the Republican candidates would spend a little bit more time on this subject and how they would fix it, and a tiny bit less time on attacking each other. Don’t get me wrong, the in-fighting and the vetting of each other’s records is a good and healthy thing, but sometimes I wonder if they spend just a little bit too much time on it and not enough time on the things which are affecting the day-to-day lives of the rest of the people in the country.

Samuel

January 30th, 2012 at 11:17pm

Congratulations Jack Landreth

I would just like to take a moment to congratulate for KXNT Las Vegas program director Jack Landreth on his new gig as the program director at the top rated news/talk station in Kansas City, Missouri, KMBZ.

I discovered KXNT during Jack’s time as PD, around the time that he led the station to the top of the Las Vegas radio ratings. And by top, I don’t just mean top of the news/talk ratings, I mean #1 station overall. It was the first time in 30 years that an AM station had won the ratings in Las Vegas. KXNT also demolished the other news/talk station in the market during Jack’s time at the helm and, despite some extra competition when KDWN decided to put a delayed version of Glenn Beck up against Rush Limbaugh’s live show on KXNT, the station continued to dominate other stations in the genre, with their local programming consistently performing well and regularly breaking local stories.

It was a good time in KXNT’s history. Unfortunately the station has lost a lot of ground since Jack’s departure and is now ranked 22nd in the Vegas ratings. It still leads the news/talk ratings, but not by the huge margin that it once did.

Jack’s new station, KMBZ, leads the news/talk stations in the market with more than double the ratings of its nearest rival, but has shed a significant number of listeners in recent months. Congratulations and good luck Jack. I’m sure that Kansas City will benefit greatly from your work.

Samuel

January 30th, 2012 at 06:54pm

For Stan Zemanek fans

A long-term friend of this blog, Frankster, has uncovered a gem for those of us who were Stan Zemanek fans back when Stan was still with us.

Stan’s show used to attract all sorts of peculiar callers, and Stan used to package some of them up in to “caller replays”. When this was all going on, Frankster recorded as many of these segments as he could, and he recently found the tape containing them all. He is now posting them on his site franskter.zanyspace.com as an ongoing series. The first five are online (1) and (2-5), and there’s 123 to go.

If you want a good laugh, or just want to relive some great memories, these are definitely for you.

Thanks Frankster!

Samuel

January 30th, 2012 at 03:20pm

Eddie Everywhere, even on Seven

The sun must be cooling down or something, because the unthinkable is going to happen this year, Eddie McGuire will be calling football matches on Seven.

A QUIRK of the anti-siphoning laws and the new AFL broadcasting agreement will mean Eddie McGuire is likely to be heard calling a handful of games on Channel 7 this year.

While none of those games will be shown in Melbourne, the fact that non-Victorian AFL teams must be shown on free-to-air in their respective states means the Seven stations in those cities will take the Fox Footy feed on a few occasions.

McGuire, the face of Fox Footy as well as retaining a key role at Channel 9 with Millionaire Hot Seat, could feature in some games shown on Seven in Perth and Adelaide, as well as on 7mate in Sydney and Brisbane.

(h/t PerthNow.com.au)

This will only happen outside Victoria, but basically it means that any time that Seven have to air a match containing a “local” team for which they don’t have the direct broadcast rights, they will have to source the game from Fox, and every time they do that, there is a chance that Eddie McGuire will turn up in commentary.

Seven and Ten had to source games from Fox like this in the previous broadcast agreement as well. Ten usually opted for taking the full Fox coverage including having the Fox commentators host it, whereas Seven opted for having a couple people sit in a studio in Melbourne or Perth host the coverage and only take the actual game from Fox. It’s good to see that this provision was retained in the new agreement (even if it means that, for someone like me who supports a “non local” team, I have less chance of seeing my team on free-to-air television), although I have to wonder if Seven would have fought this provision had they known that Fox were going to sign Eddie.

Just quickly on the subject of strange things happening at Seven. While I’m sure that Seven will be glad that their decision to take a risk on airing the Men’s Final of the Australian Open live in to Perth paid off last night with the match going on for long enough to ensure that they had strong tennis ratings all night, their Perth newsroom must have been a tad put out by it all. Seven decided that, in order to accommodate the live tennis, Seven News in Perth would have to wait until the Tennis was over, which they tentatively schedule for 7:30pm Perth time (10:30pm eastern)…instead, due to the really long match, it didn’t start until 11pm Perth time (2am eastern). It gives a whole new meaning to “more at eleven”…and I think it’s a first too. The six o’clock news, tonight at eleven, only on Seven!

Samuel

January 30th, 2012 at 12:02pm

Some more on the conspiracy which led to the Australia Day riot, and the subsequent fallout

Since I last wrote about this a few days ago, it has come to light that one of Julia Gillard’s own staff tipped off a union official who then tipped off the protesters about the location of Tony Abbott. Julia Gillard’s press minions also perpetuated the myth about Tony Abbott calling for the demolition of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy.

The more this unravels, and the more the unions are found the be involved, and the more we see of Julia’s people perpetuating untruths about Tony Abbott, the more this all looks orchestrated to get the left-wing of the Labor party and the left-wing of the public-at-large back on side. It is really starting to look like the whole thing was designed to make Julia Gillard look like the hero of the left, and some sort of uniting figure between black and white Australians against a mythical divisive Tony Abbott.

It has backfired badly and could cost Julia Gillard and her government dearly. Today we see that Andrew Wilkie, who already had the Gillard government in his bad books after they stabbed him in the back on poker machine reform, is ready to not just withdraw support for the government, but also support a no-confidence motion in the government, and today’s Galaxy poll couldn’t have come at a worse time for Julia Gillard as it will surely make a few people in the Labor Party think very carefully about attempting to kill off the whole scandal right now by dumping Julia Gillard in favour of the allegedly more popular Kevin Rudd. They could do that…but would have to eat the “we know he was bad, but we didn’t expect her to be worse” humble pie that would go with it.

Either way, surely this government is toast and is, just like NSW Labor did before the last election, going through the motions until they get kicked out of office in a landslide. One can only hope that, in such a holding pattern, they’re not going to change leaders like they’re going out of fashion. That was a spectacle which will hopefully never be repeated by any government ever again.

Samuel

January 30th, 2012 at 09:45am

Even the warmists now admit that the planet has not warmed since 1997 and the sun might be in control of it all

For many years, the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit has been one of the main drivers of the argument that the earth is warming dangerously and it’s all due to human activity. In recent years, it has been proven, by the words of the researchers themselves in leaked emails (Climategate), that these claims are false and the data has been deliberately manipulated to “prove” their case. Despite this, they have continued to trot out data showing an alarming increase in global temperatures.

So you can imagine my surprise when the Climatic Research Unit released data last week which showed that the planet has not warmed since 1997. This new data is roughly in line with the raw data emanating from satellites which measure the planet’s temperature, and what the old manipulated data should have looked like if it hadn’t been manipulated.

Temperatures since 1997 (h/t Daily Mail)
(h/t The Daily Mail)

Not surprisingly, the data was released very quietly. Any time data is released (usually by a body related to the United Nations) which shows some alarming end-of-the-world-is-nigh warming, it is released to a lot of fanfare and all of the usual suspects such as Tim Flannery, Phil Jones and, to a lesser extent these days, Al Gore plaster their dire warnings across all of the media. For this data though…I’d be willing to bet that the majority of the people reading this here or in The Daily Mail On Sunday were hearing about it for the first time.

The Daily Mail On Sunday reports that, reminiscent of the 1970s, some scientists are now warning of an impending ice age because of, wait for it, a lack of solar activity! Yes, that’s right, the big glowing thing in the sky which has been proven to have a fairly substantial effect on the earth’s climate (and is our only source of heat) is now being recognised as a driver of climate by a growing number of previously “carbon dioxide will doom us all” scientists.

Based on readings from more than 30,000 measuring stations, the data was issued last week without fanfare by the Met Office and the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit. It confirms that the rising trend in world temperatures ended in 1997.
[..]
We are now at what should be the peak of what scientists call ‘Cycle 24’ – which is why last week’s solar storm resulted in sightings of the aurora borealis further south than usual. But sunspot numbers are running at less than half those seen during cycle peaks in the 20th Century.

Analysis by experts at NASA and the University of Arizona – derived from magnetic-field measurements 120,000 miles beneath the sun’s surface – suggest that Cycle 25, whose peak is due in 2022, will be a great deal weaker still.

According to a paper issued last week by the Met Office, there is a 92 per cent chance that both Cycle 25 and those taking place in the following decades will be as weak as, or weaker than, the ‘Dalton minimum’ of 1790 to 1830. In this period, named after the meteorologist John Dalton, average temperatures in parts of Europe fell by 2C.

However, it is also possible that the new solar energy slump could be as deep as the ‘Maunder minimum’ (after astronomer Edward Maunder), between 1645 and 1715 in the coldest part of the ‘Little Ice Age’ when, as well as the Thames frost fairs, the canals of Holland froze solid.

Now, it has to be said, that the projections of what the next solar cycle will do, do seem to be a bit on the low side given the historical record and current trend.
Solar cycles, historical and projected (h/t Daily Mail)
(h/t The Daily Mail)

If the next solar cycle is as inactive as is predicted, then I have no doubts that we will see some significant cooling, but it doesn’t even have to be that low for there to be cooling. Consider the daily effect of the sun on a given section of the earth. At dawn, the sun starts to shine but can only slow down the falling temperature at first, until the sun’s intensity rises a bit and the section of the earth begins to warm. The sun reaches peak intensity at around midday, however the planet continues to warm for the next few hours. The sun, with diminished intensity, is able to maintain temperatures through the late afternoon, and it is only when the sun is about to disappear that temperatures really start to drop, and then when the sun goes away completely it still takes an hour or two for temperatures to enter a free-fall. Put simply, daily temperatures trail the sun’s intensity by a few hours.

In the same way, it seems to be quite plausible that the overall temperature of the earth trails the sun’s intensity by a period of time. We have seen a drop off in solar intensity of late, temperatures plateaued for a while (like the late afternoon) and are now appearing to enter a period of falling (half a degree last year). The sun’s intensity does not currently seem to be enough to raise temperatures, but is enough to prevent a free-fall in temperatures. If the next solar cycle matches the intensity of this solar cycle, it is probable that temperatures will continue to fall ever-so-slightly.

All of that said, the effect of the sun on global temperatures, while currently appearing to be linked, is still largely based on historical data which is somewhat sporadic. As Pal Brekke, senior adviser at the Norwegian Space Centre said in the Daily Mail On Sunday article:

Nature is about to carry out a very interesting experiment,’ he said. ‘Ten or 15 years from now, we will be able to determine much better whether the warming of the late 20th Century really was caused by man-made CO2, or by natural variability.

Indeed. Carbon Dioxide controlling the climate is now pretty much a debunked theory, and the next ten to fifteen years will determine whether the sun truly is the main driver of the climate.

Meanwhile, it is worth noting that sixteen prominent scientists co-wrote an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal on Friday, commenting on the fact that a growing number of scientists are expressing concern with the growing disparity between the “carbon dioxide is causing global warming” models and the reality of the world’s temperatures. Among the highlights of their writing:

In spite of a multidecade international campaign to enforce the message that increasing amounts of the “pollutant” carbon dioxide will destroy civilization, large numbers of scientists, many very prominent, share the opinions of Dr. Giaever. And the number of scientific “heretics” is growing with each passing year. The reason is a collection of stubborn scientific facts.

Perhaps the most inconvenient fact is the lack of global warming for well over 10 years now. This is known to the warming establishment, as one can see from the 2009 “Climategate” email of climate scientist Kevin Trenberth: “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.” But the warming is only missing if one believes computer models where so-called feedbacks involving water vapor and clouds greatly amplify the small effect of CO2.

The lack of warming for more than a decade—indeed, the smaller-than-predicted warming over the 22 years since the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) began issuing projections—suggests that computer models have greatly exaggerated how much warming additional CO2 can cause. Faced with this embarrassment, those promoting alarm have shifted their drumbeat from warming to weather extremes, to enable anything unusual that happens in our chaotic climate to be ascribed to CO2.

The fact is that CO2 is not a pollutant. CO2 is a colorless and odorless gas, exhaled at high concentrations by each of us, and a key component of the biosphere’s life cycle. Plants do so much better with more CO2 that greenhouse operators often increase the CO2 concentrations by factors of three or four to get better growth. This is no surprise since plants and animals evolved when CO2 concentrations were about 10 times larger than they are today. Better plant varieties, chemical fertilizers and agricultural management contributed to the great increase in agricultural yields of the past century, but part of the increase almost certainly came from additional CO2 in the atmosphere.
[..]
If elected officials feel compelled to “do something” about climate, we recommend supporting the excellent scientists who are increasing our understanding of climate with well-designed instruments on satellites, in the oceans and on land, and in the analysis of observational data. The better we understand climate, the better we can cope with its ever-changing nature, which has complicated human life throughout history. However, much of the huge private and government investment in climate is badly in need of critical review.
[..]
Claude Allegre, former director of the Institute for the Study of the Earth, University of Paris; J. Scott Armstrong, cofounder of the Journal of Forecasting and the International Journal of Forecasting; Jan Breslow, head of the Laboratory of Biochemical Genetics and Metabolism, Rockefeller University; Roger Cohen, fellow, American Physical Society; Edward David, member, National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Sciences; William Happer, professor of physics, Princeton; Michael Kelly, professor of technology, University of Cambridge, U.K.; William Kininmonth, former head of climate research at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology; Richard Lindzen, professor of atmospheric sciences, MIT; James McGrath, professor of chemistry, Virginia Technical University; Rodney Nichols, former president and CEO of the New York Academy of Sciences; Burt Rutan, aerospace engineer, designer of Voyager and SpaceShipOne; Harrison H. Schmitt, Apollo 17 astronaut and former U.S. senator; Nir Shaviv, professor of astrophysics, Hebrew University, Jerusalem; Henk Tennekes, former director, Royal Dutch Meteorological Service; Antonio Zichichi, president of the World Federation of Scientists, Geneva.

(h/t The Wall Street Journal, and US radio host Joe ‘Pags’ Pagliarulo for bringing it to my attention)

Effectively what they are advocating is for us to do what we have always done: adapt to an ever-changing climate, and to spend money on researching a myriad of climate theories rather than obsessing on a debunked one.

I can support that. I’m ready to adapt to colder weather with what seems to be a growing number of heavy jackets, and warmer weather with an easily increasable number of light t-shirts.

Samuel

January 30th, 2012 at 06:42am

Police officers being banned from having visible tattoos

An email to 2GB’s Luke Bona

Good morning Luke,

About this story which popped up over the weekend about a new regulation for the New South Wales police to not have visible tattoos. I think it’s a good idea and about time.

The police are there not only to uphold the law, but to appear to uphold the law and appear to be upstanding and exemplary citizens. They should be the antithesis of, for example, bikie gangs, in appearance and behaviour. Having large tattoos sends the wrong message about the police officer.

In many ways, this is just a logical extension of the uniform which is designed to provide a certain image of police officers, and assist with enforcing discipline. If someone wants to have a tattoo and be a police officer, then they should have the discipline and common sense to have a tattoo which can be covered up by normal clothing.

As for the opposition’s opposition to this measure. This measure is clearly part of a much larger reorginisation of the police force, and wouldn’t be necessary if the previous Labor governments had done their job and given the police the support and resources they need. I put a lot of the blame for the current string of drive-by shootings at the feet of the Labor governments who did not provide the police with the necessary resources to prevent things from reaching this point.

Regards,
Samuel Gordon-Stewart
Canberra

2 comments January 30th, 2012 at 03:40am

Samuel’s Musician Of The Week: Gracie Fields

Last night I was watching a Dutch movie on SBS One entitled ‘The Black Book’ which was set during the months leading up to, and immediately after, the end of World War Two. The film revolved around the Dutch Resistance against the Germans and, in particular, a Jewish woman who was working with the Dutch Resistance and had to infiltrate the local Nazi headquarters. It was a very good film and dealt with some very important topics, including the often-overlooked effects that the end of the war had while free societies worked out how to be free again. I highly recommend finding a copy of the film to watch if you can.

Anyway, how this relates to the Musician Of The Week award is that, during one of the scenes in the local Nazi headquarters, the Germans were singing a wartime song about how they were going to free Europe by shooting everyone (or at least that seemed to be the general gist of it…the focus of the scene was not this song, but rather the Jewish woman feeling sick when she saw one of the Germans who killed much of her family) and it reminded me of a song which I heard from our side of the war on a documentary on 7two last week called “The World At War” called The Thing-Ummy Bob (because it was a war song, not because of any similarity in sentiment between the songs). I had added this song to my list of prospective award recipients, and seeing this movie last night made me decide to use the song this week.

The song was sung by a few people, but the version which I heard was probably the most popular one sung by Gracie Fields. The song celebrates the work of those who stayed in their home country during the war, and did things which supported the war effort. We owe a lot to these people, and we could learn a thing or two from them today.

So, here it is, Gracie Fields singing The Thing-Ummy Bob.

I can’t pretend to be a great celebrity
But still, I’m quite important in me way,
The job I have to do may not sound much to you
But all the same, I’m very proud to say…..

I’m the girl that makes the thing that drills the hole
that holds the ring that drives the rod that turns the knob
that works the thing-ummy bob
I’m the girl that makes the thing that holds the oil
that oils the ring that takes the shank that moves the crank
that works the thing-ummy bob.

It’s a ticklish sort of job making a thing for a thing-ummy bob
Especially when you don’t know what it’s for
But it’s the girl that makes the thing that drills the hole
that holds the ring that makes the thing-ummy bob
that makes the engines roar
And it’s the girl that makes the thing that holds the oil
that oils the ring that makes the thing-ummy bob
that’s going to win the war

I’m not what you would call a heroine, at all
I don’t suppose you’d even know me name
But though I’ll never boast, of my important post
I’ll strike a blow for freedom just the same

(Music)
That works the thing-ummy bob
(Music)
That works the thing-ummy bob

It’s a ticklish sort of job making a thing for a thing-ummy bob
Especially when you don’t know what it’s for
But it’s the girl that makes the thing that drills the hole
that holds the ring that makes the thing-ummy bob
that makes the engines roar.
And it’s the girl that makes the thing that holds the oil
that oils the ring that makes the thing-ummy bob
that’s going to win the war.

It is an’ all

Samuel

January 29th, 2012 at 07:27pm

Will the Tent Embassy and Occupy join forces? It seems to be where this is headed

Yesterday’s protest in which Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott were effectively held hostage in a cafe by Aboriginal Tent Embassy protestors was a disgrace. It confirmed virtually everything Tony Abbott had said about it being time to move on from this ridiculous ongoing protest shanty town.

While I respect the rights of people to protest peacefully, yesterday’s scenes proved beyond all reasonable doubt that the Aboriginal Tent Embassy is not a protest movement in favour of peace and reconciliation, but is instead a protest movement aimed squarely at highlighting and supporting differences between Australia’s democratic and “western” culture (which is supported and embraced by a large majority of Aborigines), and a perverted form of ancient Aboriginal culture where Aborigines want to live in violent, no-modern-convenience societies while still being propped up by the taxpayers in the society that they want to destroy.

I’ve been over this ground many times before, so I won’t go in to the whole argument about how wrong the Aboriginal Tent Embassy is, or my solution to the rift between some Aborigines and the rest of society. Instead, I’ll focus on yesterday’s protest, today’s subsequent protest, and where I think this is headed.

The Aboriginal Tent Embassy has been irrelevant for ages. We have barely heard from them in years and years, and yet yesterday hundreds of them were there to hold a protest. Yes, yesterday was Australia Day and yes, it is to be expected that they would hold their usual “invasion day” nonsense, but it normally doesn’t happen with the sort of numbers we saw yesterday.

It is not unusual in the slightest to see the Left come out in support of the Tent Embassy in the media…not in the slightest, but normally the Left don’t support violence or hateful comments against Julia Gillard, and yet, they are defending this:

Protester Gwenda Stanley of Moree almost tried the shoe [Julia Gillard’s shoe which fell off in the altercation] on before changing her mind. “I don’t want to walk in the shoes of a dead woman!” Ms Stanley joked

.
(h/t Daily Telegraph)

That same shoe, which was for all intents and purposes, stolen, is now being auctioned off on eBay. Proceeds of crime? Death threat, joking or not?

And look who has the shoe and is auctioning it off…Tent Embassy elder Pat Eatock.
Pat Eatock holding Julia Gillard's stolen shoe. Picture h/t Gary Ramage of The Daily Telegraph
(Picture h/t Gary Ramage of The Daily Telegraph)

Now, thanks to a court ruling last year (the case that Andrew Bolt lost), I can’t discuss how much of Pat Eatock’s heritage is Aboriginal. In much the same way that it is illegal to camp opposite Old Parliament House, I can’t discuss Pat Eatock’s heritage…the difference though, of course, is that for one reason or another, the law seems to not apply to the Aboriginal Tent Embassy’s occupants, and they have very little respect for the law, or the country itself anyway, as today they went and burned the Australian flag outside Parliament House, because for some reason they can’t understand why people are upset with them over yesterday’s disgraceful incident.

But not everyone is against them. Leftist blog New Matilda (I thought it had shut down…apparently not) has come out in support of yesterday’s violent protest. They claim that it wasn’t violent (or that the police who were protecting Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott as they ran to a car, were the ones who were violent), and that it’s a giant media conspiracy to claim that there was any violence (the statements seem contradictory, but they’re both in there).

So, let’s look at what happened yesterday. There was chanting, which is acceptable.

There was an angry mob surrounding a cafe and banging on the windows of said cafe…the windows were for all intents and purposes the walls of the cafe and there was genuine concern that the glass would break at any moment. Intimidation…illegal. Property damage…illegal. Detaining people against their will…illegal. This counts as violence in my book.

Then there were the attempts to block the path of the police as they hurriedly escorted Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott to a waiting car…maybe illegal, maybe not, but definitely wrong and intimidatory.

Julia Gillard tripped during the scurry to the car and she lost a shoe. The shoe was then taken by the Aborigines and a death threat was made against the Prime Minister. Illegal.

The shoe is now being sold. Selling stolen property is a crime.

And despite all of this, the Left still support the protest.

This support is straight out of another playbook. The “defend Occupy” playbook which the Left used in the U.S. last year to defend the Occupy camps which turned violent, and to try to cover up the rapes which occurred at some of the Occupy camps, and to try to claim that it was all just some media conspiracy that was trying to make the Occupy camps look bad (as if they ever needed any help in looking bad).

I don’t think any of this is a coincidence. I think the plans were drawn up after Andrew Bolt lost that court case last year.

It’s pretty simple really. The Occupy movement has gone nowhere in this country. There’s a handful staying in Martin Place in Sydney just so that they can remain in the background of Channel Seven’s Martin Place studios, but elsewhere they are almost non-existent or in such small numbers that people would mistake them for homeless people (which reminds me, last year a large number of Homeless people in the U.S. said that they wanted to reclaim the parks from the Occupy crowd). To maintain a minor position in the public consciousness, the Occupy mob occasionally camp out overnight in a place where that is prohibited, so that the media will report on their arrest.

Here in Canberra, Occupy had perhaps a dozen people on the first day, but they didn’t stay for the night and didn’t bother to turn up the next day. Their biggest problem is that most areas near Parliament do not permit camping…but there is one site where a group who claim to have a particular ethnic heritage are permitted to camp illegally…the Aboriginal Tent Embassy. And the court case last year just gave every white person in the country the ability to claim to be of Aboriginal heritage without ever being questioned about it.

Both the Tent Embassy and the Occupy movement were increasingly irrelevant forces in this country last year, but with that court case last year, an opportunity arose for Occupy to set up camp outside Parliament on the same site as the Tent embassy. They couldn’t just move in though…that would be too transparent. Instead, a plan had to be drawn up.

Australia Day is always a day of protest for the Tent Embassy, so nobody would be likely to bat an eyelid if the protest was a bit larger than normal as it could be put down to people giving them more support, especially if you can get some left-wing academic to claim that flying the Australian Flag is a racist act, just a few days before Australia Day (The Sydney Morning Herald seems to have pulled that article, but the ABC still has it online…attempts to rewrite history perhaps?). It is also predictable that, on Australia Day, a politician would make a comment about Aboriginal affairs and the Tent Embassy. It’s not hard to twist any statement on the matter to suit the agenda of the Tent Embassy, and that’s what they did with Tony Abbott’s comments. The protest could then be about whatever comments were made by a politician on this “ever so sensitive day for Aborigines”.

What couldn’t have been predicted was how lucky the protestors would get. They would have known that Julia Gillard would be near their protest, and picketing her would have been a big news story by itself…but for the object of their derision, Tony Abbott, to be there too…well they really did hit the jackpot. They were able to set up a hostage situation while keeping just enough distance for it to not be considered as one. They then followed through on the rest of their plan of making inflammatory statements and letting the media run with it.

Today, the Left have come out and defended the Tent Embassy protestors, and we have had another protest. Shortly, I predict, the rest of the plan is for Occupy to come out in support of the Tent Embassy and join them in “solidarity” at the Tent Embassy. It gives both movements some relevance again, and allows the Left to use both movements to advance their agenda outside Parliament.

What happens after that will probably depend on how the rest of us react and how our politicians react, but have no doubt, this whole thing was heavily planned and orchestrated, and we have only just seen the start of it.

Samuel

January 27th, 2012 at 06:06pm

US Senator Rand Paul being detained by the TSA, and it’s probably unconstitutional

This could become a massive story with massive implications very quickly.

US Senator Rand Paul (Republican-Kentucky) has been detained by the Transportation Security Administration for refusing a full-body patdown after a screening determined that something needed further investigation.

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul’s press secretary Moira Bagley tweeted on Monday that Transportation Security Administration officials were detaining her boss in Nashville, Tenn.

“Just got a call from @senrandpaul,” Bagley tweeted at about 10 a.m. on Monday. “He’s currently being detained by TSA in Nashville.”
[..]
Sen. Rand Paul’s chief of staff Doug Stafford told The Daily Caller the Senator “was detained by the TSA after their scanner had an ‘anomaly’ on the first scan.”

“He offered to go through again,” Stafford said in an email. “The TSA said he could only have a full body pat down. He would not consent to it. He offered to go through the scanner again. The situation is ongoing.”

Sen. Rand Paul has previously referred to the TSA’s use of full body pat downs as the “universality of insult,” and he called on the agency to end the tactic.

(h/t Daily Caller)

Apart from the fact that, from a PR perspective, detaining one of your most vocal political critics might not be the most sensible thing to do, this move by the TSA may very well be unconstitutional as Sen. Paul was on his way to Washington to attend a rally and a Senate session. Article 1, section 6, clause 1 of the United States Constitution prohibits the arrest of Representatives and Senators on their way to or from sessions of government:

The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

And the Senate is indeed in session today, with a vote scheduled for 4pm, as the Senate’s website notes:

Monday, Jan 23, 2012

2:00 p.m.: Convene and begin a period of morning business.

4:00 p.m.: Proceed to executive session to consider the nomination of John M. Gerrard to be United States District Judge for the District of Nebraska.

Detaining one of your most vocal political critics is bizarre. Doing so in an unconstitutional manner is a really good way to get yourself abolished.

The TSA has denied that Senator Paul was detained, although I happen to think that they have contradicted themselves.

The TSA says Sen. Rand Paul “was not detained at any point” but “triggered an alarm during routine airport screening and refused to complete the screening process in order to resolve the issue.”

“Passengers, as in this case, who refuse to comply with security procedures are denied access to the secure gate area,” the TSA adds. “He was escorted out of the screening area by local law enforcement.”

(h/t again Daily Caller)

If he was escorted out of the area, I think that counts as detention. Asking him to leave and having him leave on his own would be fine, but escorting him out is, to my mind, a form of temporary detention.

Either way, he has almost certainly been prevented from attending today’s Senate session, so it could be said that the TSA has interfered in the political process as well as potentially breaching the constitution.

As I said at the top, this could become a huge story with huge consequences very quickly. Watch this space.

Update: It is worth noting that Senator Paul did eventually make his way to Washington D.C on a later flight, so he wasn’t entirely prevented from attending the Senate, however the issue of the unconstitutional detention of a Senator making his way to a Senate session still stands. End Update

Samuel

January 24th, 2012 at 04:19am

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