An email sent to 2UE’s George and Paul shortly before I left Petaluma, and scheduled to appear here at the start of their show (9am Canberra time, 2pm California time).
Good morning George & Paul.
I realise that you’re not on-air for another four hours or so, but I’m about to embark on an approximately nine-hour drive from Petaluma (a tad north of San Francisco) to Las Vegas and thus might not have a moment to send this to you, although I will listen online, mobile reception pending.
I thought you might like this story which I heard on US radio this morning from the Portland, Oregon area about a truly bizarre 911 call.
Man calls 911 after wife’s zipper gets stuck
BEAVERTON — Each week, Washington County posts bad examples of 911 calls in its “You called 911 for that?” campaign.
The campaign is designed to draw attention to the dangers of non-emergency calls that tie up 911 lines. This week’s call really lives up to the hype.
OPERATOR: 911, Police Fire and Medical.
CALLER: Yeah we got a problem here. My wife is struggling in her jacket and can’t get it off. I want 911 here immediately.
OPERATOR: Is she not breathing?
CALLER: She’s alright, she just can’t get her [expletive] jacket off.
Just in case you were wondering, the fire department responded, rescued the woman and saved the jacket.
KGW Newschannel 8 also have the audio of the 911 call on their website at the above address if you want a bit of a laugh.
Anyhoo, have a great weekend…this country will get to the weekend eventually but for now I’ll enjoy a long Friday road trip.
I nearly fell off my chair the other night when I heard a radio PSA from the US Government’s Environmental Protection Agency (the massive bureaucratic nightmare that it is) which spent 30 seconds advising listeners that vacuuming the floor of your house is a good idea. Good heavens Uncle Sam’s overbearing cousin…really? I would never have guessed.
But then, when I thought it couldn’t get stranger, Jim Ball brought my attention to this bizarre idea from the gigantic unelected government known as the bureaucrats who seem to wield most of the power in the European Union. They’ve decided to take decisive action on that most pressing issue: overpowered vacuum cleaners.
Under European Commission ‘eco’ rules that will come into force next September, the power of new vacuum cleaners must not exceed 1,600 watts.
That figure will be lowered further to 900 watts by 2017. Current cleaners boast an average of 1,800 watts.
The move angered manufacturers, who say it will do nothing to make cleaners more environmentally friendly and will simply reduce efficiency in the home.
Critics say cleaners satisfying the new rule may use less power, but householders will have to use them for longer so they are likely to use the same amount of electricity in the long run.
So people will either spend double the amount of time cleaning, reducing productivity, or they’ll live in dirtier homes. Maybe the EU will be able to put together a European version of the EPA’s radio spot…at least people will have something to listen to while they spend those extra hours cleaning then.
Today’s Fairfax Radio News national 12pm eastern bulletin had an interesting story about how dogs can help people to de-stress at the end of a busy day. It featured a vet by the name of Dr. David Neck who was talking about how going to the park with your dog can be fun for both you and the dog.
No problems so far, and I have to admit that it wasn’t the content of the story which caught my attention as, seeing as I have dogs, the fact that it can be fun to play with dogs is not news to me. What caught my attention was the name of the vet. Dr. Neck? Really? For some reason there seem to be a lot of medical professionals with body parts in their name. Dr. Andrew Foote (not spelled “foot”, but it’s pronounced “foot”) is a prominent doctor here in Canberra who pops up in the media regularly, and there are others in various news reports around the world. This always seems to catch my attention for some reason and I wanted to check if I had misheard it.
It seems that I heard correctly. Dr. David Neck is a vet in Cottesloe in Western Australia. With that out of the way, I went in search of the story which I had heard in the news…but I couldn’t find it from a Google News search. That’s not uncommon, especially for press releases which are released to the media on a weekend when fewer staff are on-hand in most places and insignificant press releases are more likely to be ignored.
A general search for the story did lead me to something rather odd. It seems to have disappeared from the website recently, but Google cached the website of the Australian Veterinary Association on the 8th of July, which is just short of three weeks ago. At that time, the website carried a press release dated Wednesday, 25 July 2012 which is very familiar.
Furry friends help humans to de-stress
Wednesday, 25 July 2012
With Lifeline’s Stress Down Day coming up on 27 July, the Australian Veterinarian Association (AVA) is reminding people how important pets are in keeping us healthy and happy.
“Research shows that people who own pets are healthier and happier as they provide a sense of well-being and allow people to feel a part of their community said Dr David Neck, President of the Australian Small Animal Veterinary Association, a special interest group of the AVA.
“Those who live in cities and have stressful jobs can really benefit from having a four legged friend to come home to.
“A pet staring up at you when you come home asking for that pat of recognition can help to put everything in perspective.
“I get a real kick out of being greeted by my dog Fonti at the end of a hard day.
“Her affection is boundless. She offers love, companionship and a non-judgemental ear, all for a bit of food and attention.”
For many people one of the best ways to de-stress is through regular moderate exercise, which is exactly the sort of exercise you get interacting with your devoted companion.
“Walking your pet in your neighbourhood gives you a strong appreciation of your environment and gets you out talking to others who are doing the same thing.”
Dr Neck said that like humans, animals need to interact and communicate in order to remain healthy.
“This becomes a win win. Pets need regular exercise, socialisation, a healthy diet and love and attention and they’ll give back four-fold.
“It’s important to ensure you can provide all of these things before getting a pet and choose the right pet to suit your lifestyle.”
It continues after this with various links to websites of the Australian Veterinary Association, and phone numbers for media enquiries…but doesn’t that sound very much like the story which I heard on the radio this afternoon? It is effectively the same story. Dogs are nice. Exercise is beneficial for humans and dogs. Exercising with your dog will help you to de-stress. Dr. Neck has plenty of quotes. It’s the same story!
So, my question is, was the press release re-issued this year? Or did Fairfax Radio News recycle it with a grab of Dr. Neck from last year. I find the latter scenario highly unlikely, but then I also can’t see why roughly the same press release would be issued almost exactly a year after the original press release.
It has been a bit of an odd few days for news reports of insignificant things. Among other things:
The list goes on, but I can only take so many pointless studies at a time before I start to yearn for my tax dollars to be spent on more useful things…and besides which, if we give it a year, a whole new set of studies will tell us the opposite of these studies, and tell us the same things as these studies. I wonder if we will also hear about the benefits of going for a run with the dog in a year from now?
I’m in the middle of planning a trip (OK, closer to the start than the middle) to the US at the moment, and it occurs to me that my profile, plus my writings from earlier today, could just mean that a computer somewhere in the FBI or the CIA wants an agent to dig a little deeper.
From the perspective of a computer which has been programmed to look out for key words and phrases, this extract from my blog post about the postal system earlier today might seem a tad suspicious.
I would [..] embed some [..] devices in items I post
Yes, the statement was about tracking devices, and one would hope that an FBI agent would see that and dismiss the computer’s concerns, but I still think the computer would be worried about talk of posting devices and embedding things. The blog post also mentioned ricin, a poisonous substance which was mailed to the US President and a senator today, and so chatter about it would probably be high on the priority list for intelligence-gathering computers.
If I was putting together an automated system which looks out for suspicious activity of the terrorist kind, and was mainly basing it on key words and phrases, I would probably set it up so that after identifying something as potentially suspicious, it would then take another look over it for other, less immediately obvious, suspicious phrases which might indicate a plot or some sort of code. Looking back over that blog post, I listed my postal address in an unusual format:
a post office box at the Dickson post office (1272
And talked about the inside of government buildings:
They finally found it somewhere in the PO
parcels which are [..] stored in the post office’s back rooms
wandering back out to the back rooms
A drug inference could even be drawn from
Nattie did give the letter a good sniff
or possibly an explosives inference if the computer works out that Nattie is a dog.
Further examination of my blog brings up photos of phone towers, electricity substations, and a map of a powerline which feeds a government building.
Obviously, this doesn’t add up to anything suspicious, but I can see how, at a time when security services are on edge, the combination of my profile and writings could be enough to make a computer suspicious, and perhaps make security services want to take a closer look at me. Dare I say it, I won’t be surprised if I get pulled aside at Customs in the US next year for a little chat…in fact, I’ll be a little disappointed if it doesn’t happen.
All of this reminds me of a story from the start of this year about the FBI scanning emails for certain words and phrases which apparently are common in messages about fraudulent activity. The words and phrases were “gray area”, “coverup”, “nobody will find out”, “do not volunteer information”, “write‑off”, “failed investment”, “off the books”, “they owe it to me”, “not ethical”, and “illegal”.
Glenn Beck had some fun with this on his radio show and jokingly suggested that they (Glenn or one of his co-hosts) should send an email containing all of those words just to confuse an FBI computer. Sure enough, co-host Pat Gray sent the message, and went to some lengths to make some of the phrases fit.
I’m sitting here gazing up at a cloudy grey area of the sky wondering how to cover up this blemish that I have on my nose. As a dermatologist, I thought you might have an idea of what I could use so nobody will find out that I’ve broken out again like a teenager. If you do not volunteer the information, I’ll probably have to see a specialist.
Up until yesterday, I’ve been using Clearasil on it but I realized that I can write off that failed investment of $4.99 because it didn’t work.
I wasn’t able to use the cream you prescribed for me last week because I put the jar on top of some books at my parents’ house and wouldn’t you know it, I bumped into the table that those books were sitting on and a jar fell off the books and onto the floor and broke.
My parents said that since I loaned them $20 last month, they would be happy to pay for a new prescription because they owe it to me. But I told them I wasn’t sure if it was not ethical to provide the medication again so soon.
Anyway, if you can call me on that, please call in the Walgreens at Fourth and Main as I have found that to get the one on 29th and Main, you have to make an illegal U‑turn at the light, and I don’t want to do that.
Thanks again. Whatever you can do, Dr. Ahmed.
I found it much more amusing when I heard it go to air. The video of it is embedded in the page of the above link, but it’s not working for me. Thankfully I have my own recording of it.
(Audio credit: Glenn Beck, Mercury Radio Arts, Premiere Radio Network)
If there is one thing that intrigues me and fills me with an obsession to “check in on the current status”, it is the postal system, or to be more precise, figuring out how things get from point A to point B within the postal system. Consequently, I like using the tracking services of the various postal agencies, and have discovered some interesting quirks.
One thing which has me bewildered is the inconsistency in tracking between Australia Post and the United States Postal Service. An Australia post representative told me once, when I asked about their tracking service, that it is not meant for real-time tracking, and that not every scan of an item is registered in the tracking system (a “scan” being when the barcode of an item is scanned as it passes through a sorting facility, or is given to a delivery driver, or enters a post office, for example). This is very strange seeing as Australia Post charge more for most of their tracking services, and leads me to the question, is it really a tracking service if it can’t be used for real-time tracking?
An interesting difference can be spotted if you send something from Australia to the United States. Depending on the service you buy from Australia Post, tracking of the item will vary from non-existent to comprehensive up until it leaves Australia, at which point it enters the “not every scan is entered in to the system” phase. Oddly though, any item with a barcode will be tracked in detail by USPS right from the moment it enters the postal system at the Australian end.
Clearly the USPS system is automated and takes pretty much every detail in their system and makes it available for public tracking, whereas Australia Post’s system either requires manual entry, is overly-selective about which details are made publicly available, or a combination of both.
The whole system is very strange, but one thing experience has taught me is that there is no point in paying extra for tracking of items being sent to the US, as USPS will happily provide all of the tracking data free of charge via their website and mobile app.
Of course, one of the reasons I like tracking services is a life-long curiosity about how items travel through the postal system. We’ve all heard letters about the “dead letter office” and items being delivered fifty years late, and I’ve always been curious about how things get through the system. I recall once when Nattie was a much younger dog, I sent her a letter from the post box across the road so that it would travel through the postal system and hopefully pick up the scents of various parts of Canberra, and she would get to smell them on the letter when it arrived. It seemed to work as Nattie did give the letter a good sniff when it arrived.
In the last week, I have seen some very interesting and odd detours taken by items which I have sent to people.
A parcel which I sent to Sydney got lost for about a week after the recipient had been advised it was available for pickup from the local post office. The recipient described it to me thus:
What had happened was that they left a card in the box saying there was a parcel at the post office and I hadn’t been expecting one. I went and they couldn’t find it. So I returned the next day and they still couldn’t find it and said they would phone the delivery driver.
Went the next morning before the PO opened and got the people who do the sorting and they couldn’t find it. ……. I got it the following Wednesday. They finally found it somewhere in the PO.
I have a post office box at the Dickson post office (1272 if you want to send me something…no ricin though, I can do without a bunch of people in hazmat suits buzzing around me with detectors and hoses) and often receive parcels which are just a bit too big to fit in the box and are instead stored in the post office’s back rooms. When I hand over the parcel notification card at the counter, it often takes a little while for the post office person to return with my parcel. On a few occasions, they have come back to me to ask again for my PO Box number…this usually results in them muttering “that’s what I thought you said…hmmmmm” and wandering back out to the back rooms with a confused and frustrated look on their face. I don’t know what the sorting procedures are like in there, but they seem a tad chaotic. I do have to give credit to the senior staff member who works there now and used to work at the Civic GPO…I don’t know whether he is the boss or not, but things have certainly improved since he arrived.
Another interesting detour was taken by a parcel I sent to New Jersey last week. It arrived this week, but the route was perplexing.
3 April: Posted from Dickson, ACT
8 April: Processed through International Sort Centre, New York NY
11 April: Processed through sort facility, Bethpage NY
12 April: Processed through sort facility, Federal Way WA (it stayed here overnight and left at some time on the 13th)
14 April: Processed through sort facility, Kearny NJ
15 April: Arrival, Monmouth Junction NJ
For the benefit of those of you not familiar with United States state abbreviations and geography, Washington state (WA) is located on the north-western coast, on the other side of the country from New York and New Jersey which are located next to each other on the east coast. Mapping the journey from the time it entered the US really highlights how absurd the trip was.
Google Maps has labelled the various points of the trip A through E, starting at New York NY and ending at Monmouth Junction NJ. As you can see, Federal Way WA is nowhere near any of the other locations. If the parcel had entered via the international sorting centre in Los Angeles, then it might have made sense to go via Washington state, but I can’t see much logic here, especially once I zoom in on the New York/New Jersey area.
I should not that I have not plotted exact locations for any of the sorting facilities, so the spots on the map may be slightly out, but still, a trip from A to B to D to E without C would make much more sense. I wonder if someone at the Bethpage facility accidentally put the parcel in the wrong pile? Regardless of how it happened, it’s an expensive mistake for the postal service to make, and at a time when USPS is having fairly serious financial problems, it makes me wonder how much of their financial woes are due to inefficiencies like this.
Going back to my original fascination with how things make their way through the postal system, I would love to embed some tracking devices in items I post, and watch where they go. One day I might just do that. It would be fascinating
National guidelines issued late last year by a federal bureaucratic organisation called the National Transport Commission have concluded that being overweight makes you unfit to to a job which requires a lot of sitting down. That sounds silly enough on its own, but the main concern of the National Transport Commission seems not to be that being overweight increases the risk of heart attacks or diabetes (although they are slightly concerned about that, which on the latter point seems pretty silly seeing as the vast majority of diabetics are very good at managing their condition), but rather that being overweight is likely to make someone fall asleep. Seriously, you couldn’t make this stuff up (unless you’re a federal bureaucrat, it seems).
Under changes to national rail safety standards, all safety-critical CityRail workers – including drivers – will now have to keep their body mass index (BMI) under 40 or face being declared temporarily unfit for work.
Drivers with a BMI over 40 are now required to undergo a sleep study while workers with a BMI between 35 and 40 and who have other risk factors, such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure, will also have to undergo further testing before being allowed to return to the job.
The article goes on to state that being overweight is the leading cause of sleep apnoea…not that there’s a direct connection between the two things, just that there’s an increased chance.
It seems like a pretty flimsy reason to suspend someone from a job which they’ve been doing without a problem. In fact, it sounds like discrimination, and I’d love to see how this policy would stack up against anti-discrimination laws.
At this point you might be thinking I’m making mountains out of molehills and that it’s a sensible idea to ensure that train drivers are able to safely drive trains. When I heard the story, I thought a similar thing but for a different reason. I thought “surely there has to be more to this…surely they wouldn’t suspend drivers just because of their weight, surely there would have to be another factor involved before they would suspend someone”, so I had a closer look at the National Transport Commission’s guidelines, and it turns out that they’re even tougher than the Daily Telegraph article makes them sound.
The presence of the following risk factors should also increase the suspicion of sleep apnoea, even in the absence of self-reported sleepiness:
• a body mass index (BMI) ≥ 40
• a BMI ≥ 35 and either
− diabetes type 2; or
− high blood pressure requiring 2 or more medications for control.
BMI should therefore be calculated routinely as part of the periodic health assessment for Safety Critical Workers (refer to Figure 22). Sleep apnoea may be present without the above features; however, the standard identifies these risk factors as a basis for further investigation and classification as Fit for Duty Subject to Review (refer to Table 17).
Note the phrase “even in the absence of self-reported sleepiness”…effectively what this is saying is that, even if a person shows absolutely no signs of dozing off while working, if they are overweight, they have to be subjected to an entirely unwarranted sleep apnoea risk assessment and suspended from duty until the risk assessment is carried out. Given that NSW rail systems are run by government-owned corporations, this means that taxpayer dollars have to be spent on:
1) The wages of an unnecessarily suspended train driver and the wages of someone covering their shifts
2) The medical people who are engaged to carry out these assessments (which in this case involves keeping a train driver in a medical facility overnight to watch them sleep)
3) The countless bureaucrats who have to administer this whole scheme
All because a train driver is overweight.
If that’s not bad enough, the guidelines continue by declaring that people who are overweight are just as dangerous as:
• those who experience moderate to severe excessive daytime sleepiness (ESS score of 16–24)
• those with a history of frequent self-reported sleepiness while driving or working
• those for whom work performance reports indicate excessive sleepiness
• those who have had a motor vehicle crash or other incident caused by inattention or sleepiness.
Workers with these high-risk features have a significantly increased risk of sleepiness-related incidents.
They should be referred to a sleep disorders specialist to assess if sleep apnoea or another medical condition is causing their excessive daytime sleepiness. These workers should be classed as Temporarily Unfit for Duty until the disorder is investigated, treated effectively and fitness for duty status determined.
I accept that being overweight does make people more likely to have various medical conditions, but I absolutely reject the idea that just because someone is overweight they should be immediately suspected of having all of these conditions until they cane prove that they don’t, or that they should be labelled as being as dangerous as people who actually show some symptoms of a problem.
It bothers me that train drivers are being subjected to this nonsense, and it bothers me that dozens of government bureaucrats who comes up with, and will have to enforce, these silly guidelines.
But what bothers me the most is the next logical step. If train drivers, who drive vehicles which can only travel on very narrow passageways called train tracks and are therefore at a relatively low-risk of maiming or killing members of the general public when compared to other forms of transport which can go virtually anywhere, are subject to these guidelines, how long will it be before these guidelines are expanded to cover drivers of other vehicles, such as cars, which are certainly much more likely to be involved in a serious collision if the driver suffers some sort of medical problem while driving?
First they came for the train drivers…I might not be a train driver, but I won’t stay silent as this is an illogical decision, and it’s very likely that it will have consequences for the rest of the population if people don’t make a noise about it. I shudder to think of the economic impacts if road authorities decide to take overweight drivers off the road until they can prove that they don’t have a medical problem.
This, in my view, is one situation where the presumption of innocence until guilt can be proven is being subverted, and the ramifications could be a serious and unwarranted reduction in freedom and liberty for everyone, not just train drivers.
These pamphlets were dropped in letter boxes all over Braddon today.
Pamphlet in a letterbox on Donaldson St, Braddon
The only problem is that these start with “Dear Gungahlin Residents” and Braddon is nowhere near Gungahlin.
Braddon is a suburb of the inner-north, whereas Gungahlin as a suburb and as a town centre is much further north. Here, from my phone, is a quick map of the distance between the two, with the gap south and east of Mitchell being the approximate dividing line between the two town centres.
It’s rather concerning, but not surprising, that Canberra’s out-of-touch Labor government can’t even figure out where bits of Canberra are any more.
Update 5:42pm: ACT Labor have been in touch on Twitter to advise that they’re investigating what went wrong:
Hi @Samuel_SGS Some newsletters have been incorrectly delivered. Talking now with paid delivers trying to find out how this error occurred.
That will be an interesting discussion, I’m sure. If I was them, I’d be demanding a refund and/or free delivery of the correct material. They might also want to check the deliveries in Reid, as I have since discovered that Reid has received the same “Dear Gungahlin Residents” material.
Apparently in the last few days the freebie News Limited newspaper in the capital cities, MX, decided to rename the Koreas, calling North Korea “Naughty Korea” and South Korea “Nice Korea”. This angered the North Koreans which made noises about MX’s actions being against the spirit of the Olympics (because, as we all know, North Korea are the world authority on all of the peaceful sentiments of the Olympics) which in turn caused MX to run a paper with the headline “North Korea launches missive (yes, missive)”. That missive is one of the more amusing official statements I have ever read.
The Australian newspaper Brisbane Metro behaved so sordid as to describe the DPRK as “Naughty Korea” when carrying the news of London Olympics standings.
This is a bullying act little short of insulting the Olympic spirit of solidarity, friendship and progress and politicizing sports.
Media are obliged to lead the public in today’s highly-civilized world where mental and cultural level of mankind is being displayed at the highest level. Brisbane Metro deserves criticism for what it has done.
The paper behaved so foolish as to use the London Olympics that has caught the world interest for degrading itself.
The paper hardly known in the world must have thought of making its existence known to the world by joining other media in reporting the Olympic news.
Then it should have presented its right appearance to the world.
Editors of the paper were so incompetent as to tarnish the reputation of the paper by themselves by producing the article like that.
There is a saying “A straw may show which way the wind blows”. A single article may exhibit the level of the paper.
Many people were unanimous in denouncing the small paper for defaming the mental and moral aspects of the players of the DPRK who earned recognition from several appreciative world famous media.
Even hostile forces toward the DPRK heaped praises on its players’ successful performance at the London Olympics, saying that “Korea whirlwind” sweeps the world.
The Australian paper cooked up the way of moneymaking, challenging the authority of the dignified sovereign state. The paper deserves a trifle sum of dirty money.
As already known, it was reported that a lot of petty thieves sneaked into the London Olympics together with tourists. Players fight to the finish in the stadium, but those petty thieves demonstrate their “skills” outside the stadium.
The paper Brisbane Metro is little different from those petty thieves. In a word, the paper discredited itself. How pitiful it is.
The Brisbane Metro will remain as a symbol of rogue paper for its misdeed to be cursed long in Olympic history. The infamy is the self-product of the naughty paper Brisbane Metro which dared challenge the spirit of Olympic, common desire and unanimous will of mankind.
MX were having a bit of fun…probably not as much fun as I have been having while reading the peculiar missive from North Korea. MX’s altered medal tally may have been in bad taste, although I personally think it was quite amusing. In fact, I think the names should stick. From now on, I intend on adopting MX’s names for the Koreas, referring to the North and South as “Naughty” and “Nice” respectively.
Now, let’s see if I get a personal message from Pyongyang describing me as “most sordid” and “cursed long in Olympic history”.
Perhaps I’m just shocked by this because it’s coming from a government which I generally think are doing a good job, and so an occasional disagreement has more of an impact than an ongoing series of disagreements (when was the last time I launched a tirade against the ACT Government…I’m just so used to disagreeing with them that it hardly seems worth the effort to spend multiple hours per week reinforcing the fact), but this one really gave me a shock this morning.
The New South Wales Government has proposed the banning of a number of things on people’s own apartment balconies including smoking and, wait for it, drying underwear! Apart from the obvious fire hazard of forcing both activities indoors, and the potential of having smoke waft through air conditioning between apartments if people smoke indoors, I can’t help but worry about the seemingly unnecessary intrusion in to the goings-ons in private property by the state. What worries me even more is that people are seemingly willing to cede authority over what happens in private dwellings to the state, rather than dealing with it themselves or through existing means.
SMOKERS could be banned from lighting up on their own balconies under proposed changes to NSW strata laws.
Thousands of submissions were made in the first public consultations on a sweeping review of laws governing strata schemes, and were dominated by complaints about smoking.
Residents also wanted to ban balcony barbecues and the keeping of snakes “given their propensity to escape”. But they asked to be allowed to dry clothes on balconies “except underwear, which should be dried on racks out of sight”.
A report to the government, to be used to create a discussion paper, said smoking “was a significant bone of contention”. “The overwhelming majority of correspondents strongly objected to being subjected to second-hand smoke in strata buildings and demanded smoking be banned from communal areas and open air balconies,” the Global Access Partners strata laws online consultation report said.
The snake one I understand, but we already have laws about how domestic animals have to be kept. We can amend those if necessary, but it’s silly to legislate about such a thing in unrelated legislation about management of apartment buildings.
The smoking one I find bizarre. I live in a unit, and occasionally I receive wafting smoke from my neighbours, but if you are going to live in an apartment then you are surely accepting that you are living in close proximity to other people and, as such, will be less immune to the activities of these people. It’s a situation which calls for a bit of common courtesy, not government legislation and intrusion.
In my case, a quick word with the neighbours resulted in an understanding that they would make an effort to prevent smoke from drifting towards my place, although it was understood and accepted that it would not always be possible. To the same extent, I make an effort to prevent the two doggies from making too much noise. Obviously they’re going to bark when they’re concerned about noises or when they’re chasing a ball, but I try to limit such barking when there is no threat to the security of the property, and by limiting their playtime outside of daylight hours. It’s just common sense that when you live in close proximity to your neighbour, that you need to be mindful of what effect you are having on them.
If people living in an apartment complex can not reach an agreement, then there is a body corporate to whom they can take their disagreement for judgement. Through this process, people retain the right to decide on what is and is not allowed on their property by virtue of the fact that they have an ownership stake in the management of the complex by the body corporate and can vote against a manager or a decision if necessary. Ultimately living in an apartment complex does provide less freedom than living in a property which does not share walls with neighbours, but that is a choice made by people when they decide to live in an apartment instead of a house. This freedom however, should not be further curbed by governments making blanket decisions about all apartment complexes instead of allowing residents and owners to make decisions which suit their own needs.
As for the other idea which was floated of banning the outdoor drying of underwear. Why? What possible reason could people have to be offended by underwear? And why should somebody be forced to pay more to dry their underwear indoors in a dryer or near a heater (which the Fire Brigade regularly tells us is a bad idea) when they can do it for free in the sunshine on their balcony? If somebody has offensive messages on their underwear, then this is something which can be taken up with them or the body corporate, but is not something which requires legislation. I am of the view that underwear should be worn and not seen (I think that underwear visible above or outside pants while being worn in unsightly, but I don’t want to legislate against it, and oppose such legislation in places where it has been introduced), but even I accept that in order for it to be cleaned, it has to be seen. And what about the underwear which is sold in shops? Are we going to put it in locked cabinets like we have with cigarettes?
And how in the heck are we going to enforce it? Are we going to have government-employed building inspectors checking balconies for underwear? Who’s going to pay for that, and what good will come of it? Taxpayers, and none…only a further diminution of freedom.
If we are going to try and prevent inter-apartment offence, then I don’t think that we will stop at underwear, especially if the underwear and smoking ideas are being touted primarily for the “benefit” of young minds and bodies. I can see this progressing to bans on televisions displaying M rated (and higher) material near windows in case a youngster is prying. Perhaps even curtains could be regulated, as we wouldn’t want curtains bearing the Collingwood Football Club’s logo to offend a West Coast supporter, or vice-versa, would we?
Fair dinkum! For a country which allegedly likes freedom and a fair go, we certainly don’t seem to embrace it when we think it would be easier to just get the government to do the thinking for us.
I’ve been flicking through some of the coverage of the annual White House Easter Egg Roll, and while it looks like there was some fun to be had, and most of the coverage was positive, there were a few peculiar occurrences which have been glossed over by most of the media.
My favourite one is an event which seems to have been ignored by almost all of the US media. I know that talk radio gave it a mention, but other than that, I can’t find a single instance of this being covered by the American media…in fact, I’ve had to track the story down in the British press. Before I explain that though, some words from First Lady Michelle Obama at the Easter Egg Roll, courtesy of USA Today:
Over at the “Kids Kitchen,” Mrs. Obama joined “Top Chef Masters” winner Marcus Samuelson and the Today show’s Al Roker to help make shrimp and vegetable tacos.
The first lady discussed the importance of vegetables, telling parents: “If we have (too many) fried chicken and the carb-heavy dinners, the kind we all love, we’re not setting our kids up for success. Veggies aren’t really a choice. We think they are, but they’re not.”
This was part of the theme for the day, and is an ongoing theme of Mrs. Obama who has an insatiable appetite for talking about vegetables. And yet, as Britain’s Daily Mail reports, the menu on offer could not have been more at odds with Mrs. Obama’s message.
The Obamas welcomed thousands of children and their parents on to the South Lawn this morning to feast on a brunch menu that included waffles, French toast and slurpees.
Later in the day, visitors were offered choices of cheeseburgers, chicken tenders, hot dog and curly fries, egg salad or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
(h/t Daily Mail)
I particularly like the Obama Burger. Full of everything Mrs. Obama detests, and yet it still bares her name. The token fruit cup or salad at the end of the burger is amusing, but nothing more than a token gesture to allow Press Secretary Jay Carney to say that “healthy options were available” if anybody bothers to ask him about it.
Away from the menu, the Ego In Chief had his face plastered on the basketballs which were being used for the hoop shooting competition. Keith Koffler, among others, has published a photo of ABC News White House correspondent Jake Tapper holding the basketball.
I would probably refuse to play with a basketball with Obama’s face on it, as I would regard having to see his face for that period of time as some sort of cruel and unusual punishment…interestingly, I may have been right, the ball was used as an instrument of torture, just in a different way to how I would have expected. Back to USA Today for details:
Obama, meanwhile, visited the White House basketball court, half of which was being used for tennis lessons that featured legendary player Chris Evert.
The hoops end featured “Shoot for Strength,” where each shot made by Obama or a guest professional player meant three push-ups for nearby children.
I came across this a few minutes ago while reading a forum. I won’t link to the place where I found it because I’m sure the administrators of the site in question will want to delete it when they see it (after they recover from a laughing fit, that is)…but it deserves a wider audience.
Broken English in spam can be amusing, but the combination of broken English, some not entirely accurate technical information, a poorly integrated advertising bit which seems to be in the wrong paragraph, and descriptions of acronyms which don’t even come close, is what makes this the funniest bit of spam I have ever read.
What is an IPs
An IP (Online Protocol) Tackle is essentially how your personal computer or gadget is discovered on the world wide web. Any pc or system that is linked to the web has to be assigned a logical IP Address no matter whether it is from your ISP (World wide web Services Supplier) or your local router’s DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) server.
You can assume of an IPs like a vehicle’s license plate. Just about every automobile driving on the street (legally) has a license plate which is registered to the nearby DMV. The license plate is kind of like the car’s identification card, which makes it possible for somebody (generally a cop) to operate the plate and uncover out all sorts of info about the operator of the motor vehicle in which the license plate is registered to. An IP Address functions the same way. Every single personal computer browsing the online has to have some type of figuring out IP Handle, whether or not it be an IP assigned to the genuine pc, the router the laptop or computer is linked to, or the proxy server the personal computer is connecting with. This handle is what identifies a computer system on the online as a license plate is what identifies a car on the street.
A MAC (Media Access Control) Handle on the other hand is the bodily handle of the NIC (Community Interface Cards) in your pc (one thing like a serial amount). On broadcast networks, these kinds of as Ethernet, the MAC address distinctively identifies just about every node (workstation/computer) for distinct packet delivery. If you delight in analogies, you can variety of compare the a NIC’s MAC deal with to a vehicle’s VIN amount. The MAC identifies the bodily networking hardware as a vehicle’s VIN identifies a certain automobile. There are a lot of internet web hosting providers who can give u cost-free IPs, for example, blue host coupon codes is a coupon which you can sign up a online web hosting account at $3.95. You can even get a devoted ip with a couple of bucks.
The cause I chosen a automobile for my analogies is to help readers understand that a dynamic IP Tackle can transform just like a vehicle’s license plate range can be modified. But a MAC Address (beneath most situations) can’t be modified just like a vehicle’s VIN can not be transformed.
A static IP Address on the other hand is an IP tackle that you preserve frequent and never ever improvements (and normally have to spend a payment for). Acquiring a static IP is valuable for all those who operate servers or any type of gear exactly where you want for the IP tackle to always remain the similar.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and spend a payment.
I suspect that more than a few people will be very confused today, as their dubious daily guidance from Astrology.com.au will be less helpful than usual.
It’s a bit hard to see in that screenshot of the page, so I have blown up the relevant section. See if you can spot the problem.
Did you spot it? If not, take a closer look at the second sentence.
Much of what will come to pass in 2004 is dependent on Jupiter’s movement[..]
In 2004?? But it’s 2012 now. Does this mean that a planetary alignment is going to catapult me back eight years? That wouldn’t be a terrible thing as 2004 was pretty good to me, but if it’s OK with the great fraud astrologer Dadichi (sorry, should I have crossed out the other word? Oops) who runs the Astrology.com.au website, I think I’ll stay in 2012.
Oh, and Dadichi, if you’re going to recycle predictions because you’re too lazy to write new gibberish, then the least you could do is cover your track by fixing the dates.
I will give Dadichi credit for one thing though. At least he doesn’t recycle the same predictions every week or two like 2UE’s Sharyn O’Hare (Sharina, for those of you who didn’t know).
By the way, on the subject of so-called psychics and astrologers, if you’re familiar with Karen Moregold (she’s a regular on Seven’s The Morning Show) imagine the title of this blog post being spoken by her as I had her voice in mind when I wrote it.
A couple weeks ago I had a very nasty experience in a supermarket. After it happened, I sent an email to 2UE’s John Kerr about it which he read out on the air. I deliberately omitted the details of the store in question at the time as I thought it was only fair to write to the manager of the store and allow him or her time to reply and correct the issue before deciding whether it would be necessary to make my grievances public.
After this, I wrote a detailed letter to the manager of the store in question, however they have not replied yet. They have had more than enough time to respond, and I believe that they have ignored me. I gave them the opportunity to avoid negative publicity, but they apparently don’t care, so I am more than happy to announce that the store in question was the Woolworths supermarket in Dickson.
My next step will be to write a letter to the head office of Woolworths and include a copy of my original letter. Before I do this though, I feel that it is only fair that I bring you up to speed on what happened as the email to John Kerr, which I posted on this blog at the time, was quite vague and did not include all the details of the incident from that night or the other incidents. For your perusal, a copy of the letter which I sent to the manager of Woolworths in Dickson follows.
My five-page letter of complaint, with a two-page attachment: a printout from my internet banking service showing the disputed transaction. In the background, Nattie, who had decided that a footstool would be a comfortable place to sit for a while.
PO Box 1272
Dickson ACT 2602
February 6, 2012
The Store Manager
1 Dickson Place
Dickson ACT 2602
I am writing to you today to express my concern, disappointment and disgust at the behavior and attitude of some of the staff in your store in their recent dealings with me. I have had a few run-ins with your staff which, as isolated incidents, have annoyed me but not bothered me enough to care much about them, but the latest run-in offended me greatly and, when added to the previous incidents, is enough to make me want to avoid your store entirely.
I work about a five minute drive away from your store, and often work odd hours, so your store is a convenient place for me to pick up a few items and I usually do this at least two or three times per week. The incidents of late are enough to make me want to instead use the services of the IGA in Watson or, as they are not open as long as your store is, the Coles Express service station across the road from your store. The extra cost of doing so is worthwhile if it means that I will be treated with respect by the staff.
If I may crave your indulgence for a few minutes, I will endeavor to explain what has brought me to this decision, starting with the most recent incident which, to my mind, is the worst of the bunch.
On Saturday night (the 4th of February) I was at work and, upon finding out that the person on the shift which finishes a few hours after me had called in sick and that I would be required to stay back for an extra hour or two to cover for this person, I decided to use my half-hour meal break to visit your store and pick up some snacks to keep me going through the night. At about 11:10pm, I entered your store and proceeded to pick up a packet of Allens Strawberry and Cream lollies and a packet of mini easter eggs, which I then took to the self-serve checkout, but not before I was nearly bowled over by one of your staff moving stock around on a large trolley, who was not looking where he was going.
The first available checkout was the first one on the right as you walk in to the checkout area from the store and, as tends to be the case with these machines, it was neither accepting nor dispensing cash. I had hoped to get rid of a few coins with this purchase, but alas EFTPOS was the only option. This was a tad frustrating as it seems to be a bit of a waste to use EFTPOS for a $4.37 transaction, but so be it, I proceeded with the transaction. While I was using the checkout, I noted that the security guard was watching me with some interest. Once I was finished paying for my items (I have attached a printout from my internet banking transaction summary page which shows that this occurred at 11:14pm and was, as previously stated, a $4.37 transaction. The transaction is highlighted on page 2), I opted not to have a receipt printed as I would only have thrown it out as soon as I left the store anyway, picked up my items and walked towards the exit. Just after I had gone through the theft detection machine (which I should point out I did NOT set off), the security guard who had been watching me for some time stopped me and asked me if I had paid for the items.
“Yes” I replied.
“Show me the receipt” was his response. (He clearly was not versed in the ways in which the self-serve checkouts work, or he would know that they only print a receipt if asked to do so).
“I didn’t request one from the machine” I replied.
He then replied “If you don’t have a receipt, then I don’t believe that you paid for those items”. I did not say it at the time, but I was thinking that this was strange as I had seen him watching me use the self-serve checkout and wondered what he must have thought I was doing at the checkout for all that time. He then tried to ask the other staff in the area if they had seen me pay for the items, but they all ignored him. As he could not get confirmation from any of the staff, he told me that he did not believe that I had paid for the items, but I should leave with them anyway.
I was a tad confused by this, and offended that I was being called a thief and a liar. At first, I went to leave the store, and I did get out the door, but then the fact that I was deeply offended got the better of me and I walked back in and walked over to the security guard. I politely tried to gain his attention by saying “excuse me”, but he turned his back on me, so I tried again slightly louder and he started to walk away from me, so I tried again, a bit louder again, after which he turned and faced me. I informed him, calmly but in an annoyed tone of voice, that I was deeply offended by the way he had treated me; that I had seen him watch me pay for the items; and that as a matter of principle I was not going to leave with the items while he continued to accuse me of theft. I planted the items on the counter in front of him and informed him that the store could keep the items, and that I would be writing to the manager to complain about his conduct. I then walked out.
For the record, I have no problem with being challenged by security staff and accept the fact that you need to have measures in place to prevent people from walking off with items for which they have not paid, and I have previously consented to bag searches in stores when asked and have always been cooperative if I have set off a theft detector for whatever reason (usually it is a malfunction, although on one occasion it was due to a half-packet of AA size batteries which I had forgotten were in a bag that I was carrying). I have never, however, actually stolen an item from a store, nor have I ever been challenged by the security staff in your store for any reason, until Saturday night anyway.
In this case I believe that your security guard (who I note was wearing a Wilson Security uniform and is therefore probably not a direct employee of your store) overstepped his authority and was highly unprofessional in his conduct considering that there was no proof that I had stolen anything, and that the evidence in fact pointed the other way as I had not set off the theft detector when I walked through it, and the security guard had watched me using the self-serve checkout.
If more time had been available to me then I may very well have argued the point with him until he believed that I was not attempting to steal anything, and I probably would have done this by opening internet banking on my phone and showing him the transaction record, however as I was on a meal break from my job, I did not have the luxury of such time.
I believe that this needs your attention, not only because the security guard was incredibly rude, but because your staff paid no attention to his request for confirmation that I had paid for the items, and also because he was willing to let me walk off with items which he believed were stolen, which I am sure would horrify you as a store manager who is ultimately responsible for the bottom line of your store.
Unfortunately this is not the only incident which has caused me to decide that your store is an unfriendly place to shop. I don’t have dates for these other incidents as they were not big enough in my mind at the time to jot down the times at which they occurred, but I believe that they need to be brought to your attention anyway.
Firstly, your staff have been rude to me before on multiple occasions. On one occasion I was purchasing a cheese and bacon roll from the self-serve cupboard of your in-store bakery. As I picked out the roll, it occurred to me that I might need some assistance processing the roll at the self-serve checkout. I took a photo of the barcode on the shelf from which the roll had come, just in case the barcode would be useful. I then went to the self-serve checkout and asked the supervising staff member if she could show me how to buy the roll at the checkout, and I informed her that I had a photo of the barcode if it helped at all (Dendy Cinemas have previously scanned ticket barcodes off my phone, so I know that it is possible). Your staff member’s response to my question was a reasonably loud and angry tirade about how I should know how to do this myself and that I must be stupid if I thought that a barcode on a phone would be of any use. She then went on about how it was “obvious” that I should push a certain set of buttons on the screen (which she did quite quickly and without any attempt to check that I had some understanding or recollection of which buttons she had pressed) and then she wandered off mumbling under her breath.
It may very well be true that in the mind of a supermarket employee, the buttons which need to be pushed in order to make a checkout perform various functions are obvious, but it is a bit much to expect that a member of the general public would contain this knowledge, and it is definitely going a few steps too far to abuse a member of the public for not knowing these things.
On another occasion, one of the self-serve checkouts did not dispense change. It was only 20 cents, but I raised the point with the supervising staff member who informed me that as I could not prove that the machine had not dispensed change, she could not help me. It was clear that she thought that I had pocketed the 20 cents and wanted a further 20 cents to which I was not entitled. Yet again, on this occasion, I was on a meal break from work and was wearing a shirt bearing the logo of the company for which I work (a well-known company, I might add, but the details of which are irrelevant) so it seemed a bit odd that she would think that I, as a working person, would want to spend extra minutes in a store just to extort 20 cents from it.
Strangely enough, the staff in your store have never been rude to me away from the self-serve checkouts. They are rarely ever cheerful, but they do tend to at least be polite away from those machines.
On the subject of the self-serve checkouts, this is another problem which I have with your store. The upkeep of these machines is appalling. It is almost impossible to find a time when all of them are working properly. Most of the time at least one machine will be out of order, and the rest of them will be either only taking EFTPOS or only taking cash, and your staff do not take kindly to it if I want to wait to use a machine which is accepting my preferred method of payment, and they have very nearly started an argument with me over it on more than one occasion.
Then there is the fact that the things don’t seem to be cleaned very often. On more than one occasion, things have been spilled or smeared on the machines’ displays or the area which used to be the bagging area before the plastic bag ban was introduced. On more than one occasion I have had to wash my hands and/or the items which I have purchased after using these machines due to this problem. It is a matter of basic hygiene and public safety that these machines should be kept in a relatively clean state. You wouldn’t leave a spill on the floor of an aisle for longer than absolutely necessary, and your staff should be maintaining the same level of vigilance on the self-serve checkouts.
Unfortunately all of this, with the latest incident at the top of the list, has caused me to want to avoid your store at all costs, and the Woolworths brand as well. I do not enjoy being abused by your staff; I do not enjoy using unclean equipment; and most of all I do not appreciate being treated with contempt when I, as a customer of your store, am paying to keep the store running and the staff employed.
I would greatly appreciate it if you could, at the very least, investigate the first incident about which I have written and get back to me about it. You will find a copy of my bank records for this transaction attached to this letter, and I believe that you will have CCTV footage of the incident. To help you in locating me in the footage, on the night in question I was wearing an NYPD hoodie (it is official merchandise from the New York Police Department, so the letters NYPD are plastered across the front in giant yellow letters as per the NYPD logo which I am sure that you would have seen on television at one time or another, so it should be easy to spot). The rest of the incidents, while I would like you to be aware of them, do not need a response as I can not reasonably expect you to respond to incidents for which I do not have dates and times, although I would hope that you will talk to your staff about proper ways to deal with the public and about the importance of keeping the store clean.
Your actions in this regard will probably not bring me back to your store straight away, but may make me decide to revisit your store in the future if your response is good enough and if your staff smarten up their act considerably.
I should probably also note that, a few hours after the run-in with the security guard in your store, during some quiet time at work, I wrote an email about the incident to 2UE’s John Kerr who proceeded to read out my email on the air of 2UE in Sydney, 2CC here in Canberra, 4BC in Brisbane and a number of other radio stations around the country. I did not mention the exact location of the store in which this incident occurred (it would have been quite unfair of me to do so without contacting you about it first and giving you a chance to respond), however I did mention Woolworths and Canberra, so I would imagine that the Woolworths head office will have received a Media Monitors report about the email by now.
It would be safe to say that the security guard in your store put me in quite a bad mood, and it is not the first time that I have left your store thoroughly unsatisfied with the experience.
Thank you for taking the time to read this rather long letter. I hope that it helps you to improve your store, and I look forward to your reply with much anticipation.
Last night on the Ten Network’s “The Project” actress Magda Szubanski spoke in support of gay marriage, and about the fact that she is gay. I’m not going to discuss that in this post because it is really a distraction from her big comment of the night which I’m not sure that anybody really picked up on. Just for the record, I have no problem with Magda being gay. I do, however, disagree with her stance on gay marriage, but I respect her right to hold her view.
The comment that I found most interesting and alarming though, was her comment at the end of the interview. After stating that she would not take a pill, if one existed, to “cure” gay people of a genetic predisposition to being gay, she was interrupted and then sought permission to make one final statement. That statement was this:
If they want to look at a genetic predisposition, look at the genetic predisposition for prejudice and intolerance.
Find a pill that can cure that, put in the water. Bang! Problem solved.
If you want to see the comment for yourself, it’s at approximately the 14:30 mark of this video.
Now, let’s look at what Magda is advocating here. She wants a pill which cures everyone of prejudice and intolerance. That is patently absurd. Intolerance, in particular, is a perfectly normal part of human nature. We, as people, do not tolerate many things, such as murder, rape, theft, people driving on the wrong side of the road, etc. We are intolerant of many things for our own safety and security, and as part of our own moral code. To go to an example a bit closer to what Magda was talking about, I do not tolerate gay marriage as it goes against everything that I believe in, however I am more intolerant of violent and/or threatening behaviour, and thus would protest against a move to legalise gay marriage, but would not attempt to stop a service if it were legal. I may, however, attempt to have the law overturned.
Prejudice, in this case, would be justified as well. I would not need any information about the people involved to know that I disapprove of a gay marriage. I would, as a simple side-effect of the fact that I do not agree with gay marriage, be justified in being prejudiced against any given gay marriage before it occurred. This fits the definition of a prejudice perfectly (which is “a preconceived preference or idea”). As long as I do not attempt to stop the legal service by force or by intimidation, my intolerance and prejudice in this case is simply my opinion…and opinions are allowed.
Prejudice is also acceptable, for example, in the case of preferring local produce over imported produce. You don’t need to know where the imported fruit, meat, etc comes from in order to reach the conclusion that you would prefer to support local grown products, produced by local people. Without testing the quality of every single piece of imported produce for yourself, you are making that decision on the basis of some pre-formed assumptions (which may be evidence based, but that evidence doesn’t necessarily cover every piece of imported produce), and are therefore prejudiced.
So, to examine the practicality of Magda’s idea of cleansing everyone of intolerance and prejudice, there are two ways in which it could work. People could be tolerant of absolutely everything, resulting in tolerance of murders, rapes, etc. I doubt that this is what Magda wanted to see.
Rather, what Magda appeared to be advocating is cleansing people of particular intolerances and prejudices. In other words, enforcing a particular world-view. This is worse than the “thought police” telling someone off after they have announced their view of something as it is actually mandated thought control. What Magda advocated last night was that governments should spike the water supply in order to make people think a certain way. Apart from the utterly intolerable intrusion in to the mind of the individual, think of the potential of such a move. We might never need elections again as everyone would agree on everything, even which politician should be our national leader and, without any forms of disagreement being possible, our effective dictator.
It was quite frankly the single-most horrifying idea that I have heard put forward on national television for as long as I can remember. I actually doubt that Magda would want any of what she advocated…I suspect that she really just wants everyone to agree with her position on gay marriage, but alas, Magda, one of the great things about our country is that people are free to peacefully disagree about things, and I guarantee you that you do not want to live in a society where thoughts can be banned, or even worse, made impossible by some form of mass-drugging of the population.
(h/t Channel Ten for the image of Magda Szubanski on The Project last night)