Posts filed under 'Bizarreness'

White House Easter Egg Roll: First Lady’s unhealthy menu, and Obama punishes kids for his success

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.”

(h/t USA Today)

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.

The 2012 White House Easter Egg Roll menu (h/t Daily Mail)

(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.

The Obama 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.

(h/t USA Today)

So, Obama has a victory, and everyone else gets punished for it and has to pay. Sounds like an appropriate analogy for his presidency really.

Samuel

April 10th, 2012 at 08:19pm

The funniest spam I have ever read

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.

Samuel

2 comments April 4th, 2012 at 03:27am

Predicting the past will make your accuracy rating look better

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.

Astrology.com.au's prediction for Gemini on the 4th of March, 2012

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.

Astrology.com.au's prediction for Gemini on the 4th of March, 2012

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.

Samuel

March 4th, 2012 at 08:30am

The horrible service of Woolworths Dickson

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 to Woolworths Dickson
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.

Samuel Gordon-Stewart
PO Box 1272
Dickson ACT 2602

February 6, 2012

The Store Manager
Woolworths Dickson
1 Dickson Place
Dickson ACT 2602

Dear Sir/Madam:

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.

Yours Sincerely,

Samuel Gordon-Stewart

2 comments February 17th, 2012 at 07:30am

Magda Szubanski advocates the mandatory drugging of the entire population to cure “intolerance”

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:

Magda Szubanski. Image courtesy Channel TenIf 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.

(The embedded video is not working properly in some browsers. The direct link to the video is http://theprojecttv.com.au/video.htm?movideo_p=39696&movideo_m=162684 if you’re having issues watching it. Thanks to Lynn to reporting the issue.)

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.

Samuel

(h/t Channel Ten for the image of Magda Szubanski on The Project last night)

5 comments February 15th, 2012 at 06:08am

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

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

Soft Drink manufacturing halted due to carbon dioxide shortage, and Brussels sprouts

An email to 2UE’s John Kerr, who was accused by his second caller of the morning of being obsessed with Brussels Sprouts because he had made one mention of them earlier in the morning

Good morning John,

There was an article on page six of Friday’s Canberra Times which was brought to my attention yesterday and gave me a good laugh, so I thought you might like it. The first paragraph in particular was quite interesting.

Article from page 6 of Friday's Canberra Times

“A soft-drink shortage is gripping Australia due to disruptions in supplies of carbon dioxide – the gas that puts the pop in soda.”

So, now we have a shortage of carbon dioxide? When we’re always being told that we have to have a carbon tax because there’s too much carbon dioxide? It certainly made me laugh.

And about Brussels Sprouts. I never really liked them as a kid but would eat them under protest with tomato sauce on them. Now I don’t mind them plain but still like to have the tomato sauce on them, not because I want to cover up the taste of the sprouts, but because I think they’re plain and don’t really have much of a taste of their own. People say that chicken has no flavour…well I disagree, it’s Brussels Sprouts which have no flavour.

Have a good week John. I’ll try to give you a call next weekend.

Regards,
Samuel Gordon-Stewart
Canberra

One does have to wonder how the carbon tax will be calculated on factories which produce carbon dioxide as their main product…perhaps if they start recycling the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere they would receive carbon credits.

(h/t Tom White for bringing the Canberra Times article to my attention)

January 8th, 2012 at 03:44am

Kim Jong Il back from the dead?

Is it just me, or does it look like Kim Jong Il has come back from the dead to watch his own funeral?

20111222-180719.jpg

See the man on the left with the glow around him? It’s a worry…

Samuel

December 22nd, 2011 at 06:09pm

When “transparency” backfires: The tender process that just won’t provide the preferred outcome

I don’t understand this one any more. The federal government is clearly intent on awarding the next contract for the operation of the Australia Network to the ABC, but is also so hopelessly intent on pretending to be following correct processes that it has yet again changed the rules in the hope that the inferior bid of the ABC will somehow be declared the winner.

The Government has terminated the tender process to find a new operator for the Australia Network due to “significant leaks” relating to the contract to run the broadcaster.

The communications minister Senator Stephen Conroy announced the decision to terminate the process late on Monday afternoon, saying the process had been compromised to such a degree that a fair outcome could not be achieved. A decision will now be made by March next year, he said.

Of course when Conroy says “fair outcome” he actually means “giving the contract to the ABC because those people at Sky will corrupt the Asians with a ‘Bob Brown’s hate media’ view of my inept government”.

Recently, the Government requested that the Australian Federal Police investigate developments surrounding the tender including the leaks, according to a report in The Australian Financial Review. That request came after The Australian published a story claiming that Sky News had been nominated as the preferred tenderer for a second time.

(h/t Media Spy’s bacco|007)

Yes, that’s right, a second time. The last time Sky News were about to win, the government changed the rules as well. Back to July goes the time machine…

Doubts have emerged about the tender process to determine who will run the Australia Network, after it emerged that the Federal Government sidestepped an independent assessment that Sky News would be better placed to run the broadcaster.

Fairfax newspapers report today that Sky News’ bid was originally favoured over the ABC’s offer by a majority of the public servants charged with overseeing the process. But the panel’s role was effectively ditched after the Government made a late decision to modify the rules governing the tender.

(h/t Media Spy’s Cyril Washbrook)

This all reminds me of the good (aka bad) old days of the ACT Government under the leadership of then-Chief Turnip Jon Stanhope where every decision went to a “public consultation” where people who could be bothered going along to the consultation sessions were promptly ignored and ridiculed by the government officials in attendance, and the government just went ahead with its own plans anyway.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that a Labor/Greens federal government is using the tricks of a Labor/Greens territory government…I just wish that if they were going to do stuff regardless of the outcome of reviews/consultations/committees/etc that they would just do it instead of wasting money on the reviews/consultations/committees/etc, but then who would they pass the blame to when it all goes badly? Oh, of course, Tony Abbott, just like she did with the boat people policy when they fell in a giant steaming heap, and didn’t the opinion polls absolutely love her for that?

Julia, just give up and call an election. It’s clear that you have no idea how to govern…just let us elect someone else, please!

Samuel

November 8th, 2011 at 02:45am

Green, maybe; peace, nope

I have been quietly amused by the name “Greenpeace” for some time now as I rarely ever hear about them doing something peaceful. Yesterday was no exception.

Around 9:30am today (Thursday, 14 July), ACT Policing received a formal request from the CSIRO to investigate the destruction of a wheat crop. It is believed that entry was gained to the premises through a perimeter fence.

As much of the media reported yesterday, the crop in question was an experimental genetically modified crop, and Greenpeace quite proudly posted a video on the Internet of their operatives destroying the crop with whippersnippers. Greenpeace even provided a spokesperson to the media to go on and on about the supposed dangers of these crops if they were to be let loose in the wild, and also some conspiracy theory about a CSIRO plot to use the crops in bread products so that they could test them on humans.

Well I don’t know what this mob were smoking (the crop perhaps?) but there clearly wasn’t much thinking happening.

If the crops are potentially dangerous if released, then they’re not going to do anyone any harm while they’re locked away in a greenhouse. Strike one.

Using whippersnippers on the crop will make some of it airbourne, meaning that the next time the door to the greenhouse is opened (I wonder if they left it open during the destruction) there is a chance that the airbourne bits could escape and do all of that potentially dangerous stuff which Greenpeace are worried about. Strike two.

The experimental crop will be used in bread so that it can be tested on the general population??? Guys, stop smoking whatever it is that you’re smoking, because if you keep going down this path you’ll fine yourselves in padded cells where doctors will be asking you if the television and the radio talk to you. Strike three.

And I thought the CSIRO was Greenpeace’s favourite government body, what with all of the global warming doom that it preaches. Why threaten the friendship? Strike four.

Away from Greenpeace, and I was also disturbed to find out that Shane Rattenbury, one of the Greens MLAs in the ACT Legislative Assembly, got on the local communist ABC station to praise Greenpeace’s actions. Shane, it was an illegal act. Would you like it if somebody found it abhorrent that you grow flowers in your garden and decided to break in to your property and take a whippersnipper to your flowers? It’s the same thing.

Now Shane, I understand that you’re opposed to GM crops. That’s fine…but surely the better thing for you, as an MLA, to do is to introduce legislation banning GM crops rather than condoning illegal activity. I wouldn’t support such a bill, as I think research in to GM crops is a good thing which could, if safe methods can be found and proven, end world hunger, and will can only reach that point through research…but I would at least support your right to try to ban GM research through legislative means rather than anarchic means.

In the meantime, I hope that these Greenpeace loons get the full force of the law thrown at them, especially those lovely provisions about trespassing on Commonwealth property.

Samuel

July 15th, 2011 at 06:37am

Those “green” electric cars…well, they’re not really all that “green”

It turns out that the good old-fashioned petrol car isn’t that evil after all…or that it is evil, and the electric car isn’t the saintly solution that it was supposed to be…or something like that. I’ll let Yid with Lid explain.

Global Warming Moonbats believe that electric cars are one of the major solutions to the problem of man-made global warming which is causing the snow caps to melt, animals to die and your public library to run out of the book you have been waiting to read. According to a new study, electric cars could produce higher emissions over their lifetimes than gas equivalents.

According to the study, an electric car owner would have to drive at least 80,000 miles before producing a net saving in CO2. Many electric cars will not travel that far in their lifetime because they typically have a range of less than 90 miles on a single charge and are unsuitable for long trips. Even those driven 100,000 would save only about a tonne of CO2 over their lifetimes.

Yid with Lid then goes on to quote from an article out of The Australian:

a mid-size electric car would produce 23.1 tonnes of CO2 over its lifetime, compared with 24 tonnes for a similar petrol car. Emissions from manufacturing electric cars are at least 50 per cent higher because batteries are made from materials such as lithium, copper and refined silicon, which require much energy to be processed.

Many electric cars are expected to need a replacement battery after a few years. Once the emissions from producing the second battery are added in, the total CO2 from producing an electric car rises to 12.6 tonnes, compared with 5.6 tonnes for a petrol car. Disposal also produces double the emissions because of the energy consumed in recovering and recycling metals in the battery. The study also took into account carbon emitted to generate the grid electricity consumed.

Darn, and there I was feeling all warm and fuzzy because my not-overly-efficient petrol guzzling car and my penchant for going on long drives for little reason (I’ve averaged 139 km per day over the last nine months, not including the kilometers travelled in the few weeks that I had a hire car) was helping to boost the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and feeding all of the plants, when all along I would apparently have produced more carbon dioxide in an electric car.

Then again, given that I can travel further before needing to refuel in my car than I would be able to do in an electric car, I probably am coming out ahead on the carbon dioxide count, but if I ever do become one of those “I only ever drive to work and the corner shop” people, then I’ll change to an electric car to keep that carbon dioxide count up.

(h/t to: Yid With Lid for the linked and quoted blog post, Mark Levin for bringing the blog post to my attention, and Ben Webster of The Times in London for the article which was reprinted in The Australian.)

Samuel

June 15th, 2011 at 12:22pm

Why wait five years?

Remember that story, was it last week, about the “anthropogenic global warming is real” climate scientists at the Australian National University who were receiving death threats because of their beliefs? Did the timing seem as odd to you as it did to me?

It certainly seemed odd to Andrew Carswell from The Daily Telegraph who did some digging and discovered that these death threats which supposedly had the ANU put these scientists in lockdown very recently, actually occurred up to five years ago.

CLAIMS prominent climate change scientists had recently received death threats have been revealed as an opportunistic ploy, with the Australian National University admitting that they occurred up to five years ago.

Only two of ANU’s climate change scientists allegedly received death threats, the first in a letter posted in 2006-2007 and the other an offhand remark made in person 12 months ago.

Neither was officially reported to ACT Police or Australian Federal Police, despite such crimes carrying a 10-year prison sentence.

The outdated threats raised question marks over the timing of their release to the public, with claims they were aired last week to draw sympathy to scientists and their climate change cause.

The university denied it was creating a ruse, maintaining the initial report, in the Fairfax-owned Canberra Times last week, failed to indicate when the threats were made.Reports also suggested the threats had forced the ANU to lock away its climate change scientists and policy advisers in a high-security complex. The Daily Telegraph has discovered the nine scientists and staff in question were merely given keyless swipe cards – routine security measures taken last year.

(The article goes in to much more detail, read more here.)

A few points about this:

One. When you receive a death threat or similar, the advice from police is to not talk about it, lest it encourage more threats…but of course these threats were never reported to police, which makes one wonder who seriously the threats were taken in the first place.

Two. If it happened so long ago, why bring it up now (and tell the left-leaning, global-warming-is-going-to-doom-us-all Canberra Times) unless you’re fishing for sympathy and trying to paint a negative image of people who believe the science from the other side of the debate?

Three. Why lie about the lockdown?

Now, don’t get me wrong, death threats are wrong, threats of harm are wrong. I’ve witnessed the effects first-hand and know how awful it can be to be on the end of such threats. The people who make these threats should be punished to the full extent of the law. But to the same extent, lying about receiving threats is also wrong, and strikes me as a sign of someone who is either unstable or seeking undue attention.

Now, can we please get back to the actual debate about climate change rather than the debate about which side of the debate is insane?

Samuel

June 9th, 2011 at 02:14pm

Camels for Carbon. These people really are nuts.

I first spotted this story this morning on The Drudge Report. Most of the stuff I spot on Drudge turns out to be correct, but this story was just so out there that even I wasn’t sure. Drudge was linking to a Financial Times article, this made me wary as the Financial Times, while filled with interesting stories, is a British newspaper…could this be our royal overlords having fun at our expense I wondered?

Then I noticed that the story is in The Australian this morning, which increased the story’s credibility even though The Oz credits the Financial Times for some of the story, and was noted by Reuters last week. My fears about the story being a hoax were quashed, but my fears about the Australian Government being insane were confirmed.

Details from The Australian’s Graham Lloyd:

A consultation paper issued by the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency gives the first insight into how the federal government will decide what will qualify for carbon permits and what will not. Feral pests are firmly in the sights.

A proposal by Northwest Carbon to cull the estimated one million feral camels roaming the outback has made the list. The company’s plan, first revealed in London’s Financial Times newspaper, was based on an agreement with the West Australian Department of Agriculture and Food to develop a market solution to control feral camels.

Large areas of Western Australia are overrun with the camels, which do enormous damage to vegetation and have been known to terrorise townships in their search for water.

In its written proposal to government, Northwest says it would shoot the animals from helicopters or four-wheel-drives, muster them and send them to an abattoir or process them for pet food in the field.

The company has promised to use marksmen trained and accredited in animal welfare.

One camel is estimated to emit about a tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent a year, measured as 45kg of methane, and they each eat about a tonne of vegetation.

Camels are bad. We get it. So just go and shoot them and make pet food out of them. Don’t start insisting that you need carbon credits for it, especially when you’re flying around in carbon dioxide emitting helicopters to do it, because once we go down this road of saying that killing animals warrants carbon credits, there is no turning back and the ramifications are massive.

If killing a camel warrants a carbon credit, then it won’t be long before killing cows warrants carbon credits (and more of them than the other plan in the government report of giving cows some sort of medication which makes them belch less), and given the current ruminations about compensating farmers whose cattle isn’t going anywhere, I can see killing off their herds and giving them resettlement funds while the farms get turned in to government-run solar power plants as an option which the government will consider.

Or even worse (if there is such a thing as worse than destroying our agricultural sector), domestic pets. If the government sees camels as polluters (not that carbon dioxide is a pollutant, but you get my point), what about the domestic pets which also emit carbon dioxide? Will the government issue carbon credits for killing these animals…or even humans?

If people want to turn feral animals in to pet food, then good, go for it, make money by doing it like you would have done before the term “carbon credit” existed, but don’t expect the government to reward you for it with a set of carbon credits…the ramifications of such a scheme are alarming at best. The really worrying thing though is that the government is considering it and taking it seriously.

Mark my words. If this gets beyond the “consultation” stage and becomes policy, this country will not be worth living in. Obamacare’s death panels will be quite tame compared to this.

Samuel

June 9th, 2011 at 11:14am

The Sunday Bits for Sunday June 5, 2011

Good Sunday Morning. Plenty to get through this morning, so we’ll dive straight in.

A little while after I posted many details on the fact that the US economy is in serious trouble, more evidence of this came to light.

The US government’s jobs report showed hiring by US companies slowed markedly in May, while the unemployment rate kept rising.

Non-farm payrolls rose by 54,000 last month as the private sector posted the smallest job gain in nearly a year, according to the Labour Department. The jobless rate, which is obtained from a separate household survey, unexpectedly rose to 9.1 per cent in May.
[..]
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 97.29 points, or 0.8 per cent, to 12151.26, led lower by Alcoa, which dropped US28 cents (1.7 per cent) to $US15.92. The blue-chip index has dropped 5.1 per cent during its five-week losing skid and closed today at its lowest level since March 23.

(h/t Steven Russolillo, Dow Jones Newswires, via The Australian)

The fact is, the US economy was never in recovery despite what the Obama administration would have you believe. It had a decent period of stability on the back of over-the-top government spending, but it never entered a recovery, and as was always going to happen, the government’s crippling debt is now an even bigger problem than the original economic woes were. If there ever was any doubt (I’d say that there wasn’t, but it’s an arguable point), it’s gone now, Obama owns this recession and seemingly has very little idea of how to fix it.

***

On a similar note, another market isn’t doing so well. The carbon trading market.

THE World Bank has revealed the global market for trading in carbon permits has stalled, just weeks out from the federal government’s release of its detailed plans to shift to an emissions trading scheme.
[..]
The value of the primary Clean Development Mechanism market fell by double digits for the third year in a row, ending lower than it was in 2005.

(h/t Graham Lloyd and Siobhain Ryan from The Australian)

Even the bankers can’t work out how to make a quid out of this crazy scheme. It seems that trading in fresh air just isn’t lucrative, so what makes Ms. Gillard and friends think that taxing the air will be any more successful?

***

In the news today we have a rather interesting story which seems like a good idea…and like many good ideas these days, somebody in the media has decided to label it as “radical”.

CHILDREN as young as 12 would be allowed to drive under a radical road-safety training proposal to be put to the State Government this week.

That opening line sounds crazy, but if we dig a little deeper, we find that it’s misleading.

Under the CAMS plan, schoolchildren would be given up to four practical lessons each year from age 12. CAMS will explore the idea of using dirt tracks or paddocks for lessons, which would include driving along a skid pan.

CAMS president Andrew Papadopoulos – who taught his own children to drive at age 12 – said the existing school driving courses needed to include a much greater practical component.

He said waiting until students were 17 or 18 to teach them driving skills was too late, because many young people had already developed attitudes towards driving by that age.

“This is about instilling the right attitude to driving in kids early,” he said.

(h/t Linda Silmalis, The Sunday Telegraph)

If, as the opening line suggest, this idea was about letting twelve-year-olds loose on the roads, then I’d agree that it’s “radical” and alarming, but the actual idea is an incredibly good idea. Our current system puts kids (they’re under 18, they’re kids, even if the ACT government disagrees and thinks 12-17 is “young person” and not “child”) in a position where driving is a novelty to them, and generally a fun thing rather than a serious thing. The problems tend to be attitudinal ones more than capability ones.

This idea would change the attitudes of kids before they are old enough to drive on the open road by taking them through practical sessions which would imprint the fact that driving is a serious activity.

If it were up to me, I’d be implementing this idea immediately. I also have ideas to overhaul the driver’s licence system in a way which would make the process of getting a licence similar to the current arrangements for motorbike licences, with an emphasis on solo learning under limited demerit points. People who could successfully graduate from such a system would then go straight on to a full licence, while people who fail either by racking up too many demerit points or by failing assessments would be forced through a logbook system for basic skills before they could graduate back to the solo-learning system.

I believe that one of the great flaws of our current system is that it teaches reliance on a passenger rather than on one’s own judgement, and considering that the vast majority of driving is done on one’s own, it is important for people to learn on their own…and people who are incapable of that simply shouldn’t be on the road. Of course another thing I would do is get rid of the crazy system which is in place in New South Wales where artificial speed limits are imposed on L and P platers which prevent people from learning to overtake, prevent them from learning to handle a vehicle at highway speeds, and provide a slow-moving hazard for the rest of us.

Anyway, my plan could probably be legitimately considered “radical”. The plan from CAMS on the other hand should not be considered radical, and should be implemented immediately, and it’s good to see the O’Farrell government taking it seriously.

***

Also in New South Wales, and the sideshow this week has been centred around filibusters, not that I can work out why this has caused so much excitement.

The basic story is that the O’Farrell government introduced a bill which would give the Premier the ability to set wages for public servants, something which sounds like a sensible idea for a boss to be able to do. The Greens and Labor, predictably, didn’t like the idea and so tried to block it with a filibuster and a deluge of amendments. Nothing out of the ordinary here, this is a regular tactic in politics and is permitted under the rules of parliament, even if it’s not a regular occurrence in Australian governments. Then, after a few days of this, the Liberal/National coalition used their majority to, as is allowed under the rules of parliament, break the filibuster and restrict debate on the deluge of amendments.

The bill passed the lower house yesterday, and will pass the upper house soon.

Yet, incredibly, this has all sparked outrage from both sides of politics. On the right, there was outrage about the Greens babbling on and on for hours and hours and hours, with individual members setting new records for the amount of time a person has spoken in the New South Wales parliament, and now on the left there is outrage over the government using their massive majority to break the filibuster and pass the bill. Both sets of outrage are ill-considered. It could just be that, due to the rarity of these events in Australian parliaments, people think there is something wrong with the events, but it’s more likely that people are just using the opportunity to make their points on the bill rather than the actual events which have occurred in the parliament.

Either way, I think the simple solution here is to say “move along, nothing to see here” as the political machine just moves through its regular processes.

***

Of course there was also a sideshow in federal politics this week involving cat noises. While it was dumb of Senator David Bushby to meow at Senator Penny Wong, at least he had the grace to apologise for it afterwards. We’re still waiting for the apologies from Ms. Wong’s colleagues for the similarly sexist comments which are shouted at Julie Bishop during every session of parliament.

***

Back to the New South Wales parliament, and Queen Princess Clover is AWOL.

FOUR overstretched and stressed-out State MPs will quit their second jobs as mayors, declaring they can’t cope with the workload of both positions.

But the most prominent double-dipping MP – Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore – refuses to concede there is a problem despite missing every day of parliament last week while on a mayoral junket to Brazil and New York City.

In fact, while parliament was open for business yesterday continuing its marathon session about public sector pay, Ms Moore was tweeting from New York City, where she was checking out bike lanes.

Ms Moore, who has missed 25 per cent of parliamentary sittings since Barry O’Farrell took office, is tightly holding her grip as the Lord Mayor and the MP for Sydney despite politician mayors from all sides of politics admitting it can’t be done.
[..]
Ms Moore, who pulls two six-figure salaries, has three offices and two distinct sets of advisers and staff for each position despite insisting there is overlap in the positions.

(h/t Linda Silmalis, The Sunday Telegraph)

It should be illegal to hold political office in multiple governments. It’s illegal to be a public servant and hold a political office, and the conflicts of interest there are similar to the conflicts of interest in holding multiple political offices.

In Clover’s case, it’s beyond me why she needs to inspect bicycle lanes in New York City when she has already plastered the darn things all over Sydney. And the climate change summit in Brazil…catch a plane to that one did we Clover? Wouldn’t a teleconference have been less carbon dioxide intensive? And how exactly are you being an effective member of the New South Wales Parliament if you’re absent a quarter of the time?

Beyond Clover, we’ve seen similar issues with politicians missing votes in the federal parliament. Here’s a thought, perhaps the rule should be that in order to get paid, the politicians have to turn up to the parliament. If you don’t turn up, your pay is docked…just like it would be in the private sector.

***

The AAMI building in Fyshwick
In business news, AAMI Insurance is set to close all of its branches, moving all of its customer service to the phone and online.

Spokesman Reuben Aitchison says the branches these days contribute just two per cent to the business and transactions of the Suncorp-owned company, while there has been a significant growth in business through the Internet.

He says the insurer will now concentrate on providing telephone and online services, and hopes to employ half of about 100 affected staff in call centres.

(h/t Australian Associated Press via The Herald Sun)

Personally, I don’t have a problem with this. If the branches, which are retail outlets anyway and not really able to manage insurance claims, are costing more to run than they are bringing in, then effectively my premiums are subsidising the branches, and I would much rather see AAMI’s running costs reduced than to see my premiums go up. I have no problem with their telephone and online customer service, in fact I have nothing but praise for it. If people really want to sit across a desk from an employee of their insurer, then they can go and pay some other insurance agency the extra money to make it happen.

(Image: AAMI’s Fyshwick building at a tad after 5am yesterday morning).

***

As a general rule, I find that most reasonable people like to help other people. A decent proportion of people are nice enough to want to go out of their way to help people that they don’t know, and are often willing to pay more for a product if they think it will provide a better deal for the person who produced the product. Unfortunately, as a result, these people tend to open themselves up to charlatans who have no qualms with pretending that an expensive product is helping someone, when in fact it isn’t.

For a very long time I have suspected that the “Fair Trade Coffee” market was a scam which was, at best, not helping farmers, and at worst, making their lives worse. Until recently, this was just a suspicion which lacked proof. Now though, proof exists.

That fair-trade cup of coffee we savour may not only fail to ease the lot of poor farmers, it may actually help to impoverish them, according to a study out recently from Germany’s University of Hohenheim.

The study, which followed hundreds of Nicaraguan coffee farmers over a decade, concluded that farmers producing for the fair-trade market “are more often found below the absolute poverty line than conventional producers.

“Over a period of 10 years, our analysis shows that organic and organic-fair trade farmers have become poorer relative to conventional producers.”

(h/t Lawrence Solomon, National Post, and additional h/t to Casey Hendrickson who alerted me to the story some time back)

Have a read of the article. Lawrence, its author, is very well versed in the coffee trade and goes in to some detail about how much of a scam the whole fair trade coffee thing is, and how it discriminates against the poorest of farmers. The highlight of which, for me at least, is:

It discriminates against the very poorest of the world’s coffee farmers, most of whom are African, by requiring them to pay high certification fees. These fees -one of the factors that the German study cites as contributing to the farmers’ impoverishment -are especially perverse, given that the majority of Third World farmers are not only too poor to pay the certification fees, they’re also too poor to pay for the fertilizers and the pesticides that would disqualify coffee as certified organic.

Their coffee is organic by default, but because the farmers can’t provide the fees that certification agencies demand to fly down and check on their operations, the farmers lose out on the premium prices that can be fetched by certified coffee.

To add to the perversity, it’s an open secret that the certification process is lax and almost impossible to police, making it little more than a high-priced honour system. Although the certification associations have done their best to tighten flaws in the system, farmers and middlemen who want to get around the system inevitably do, bagging unearned profits. Those who remain scrupulous and follow the onerous and costly regulations -another source of inefficiency the German study notes in its analysis -lose out.

I won’t repeat the whole thing here, although I do implore you to read it. Lawrence Solomon’s work here is exemplary.

***

In domestic media news, Derryn Hinch continues to fight his decades-long battle for the right to name sex offenders who prey on children, despite the fact that it could very easily see him spend his final days in a jail cell.

3AW drive time host Derryn Hinch has been found guilty this afternoon of breaching suppression orders relating to the naming of two sex offenders.

AAP reports that the journalist is facing the possibility of up to five years in prison, after Magistrate Charles Rozencwajg ruled he had breached suppression orders four times on his website and at a public rally. A fifth charge was dismissed.
[..]
Hinch remains defiant over his decision to name those guilty of sexual offences towards children.

“I still feel the same way I always have… people have a right to know,” he said outside the court.

“I know what I have done. I am not sorry for what I have done. It is a good cause and the law is a bad law.

“I don’t like getting convictions. There are always risks in doing the sort of work that I do and you pay for it.”

(h/t “Big Dan”, Mediaspy)

I happen to agree with Derryn on this one. I am of the belief that people who commit sexual offences against children are sick, vile people who are beyond help. I think they should rot in jail for life or face the death penalty, however in lieu of such laws, we should have the right to know exactly who these people are. The existing laws are wrong.

I hope that Derryn doesn’t have to spend his final days in prison, although if he does, then I have to admire his courage and his convictions (moral, that is, not legal).

***

To sport, and you may have noticed that I gave up on the footy tipping again. Truth is, I’m pretty hopeless at it, and I’ll gladly accept it and move on. I just can’t see the point in continually tipping with less than 50% accuracy.

That said, I am still a fervent fan of the Bulldogs in both the NRL and AFL. Alas that means this weekend has been a pretty poor one.

Watching David Smorgon’s (AFL Bulldogs’ President) body language yesterday, I got the distinct impression that he had a heavy heart from a difficult decision, and as such, I believe that Rodney Eade’s days as coach are very limited and he will not see out the season. This is a shame, because I think Rodney is doing a good job, and it’s the players which are letting him down. Just watching Rodney’s pure frustration in the box each week makes that obvious to me.

As far as I can see, the Dogs had a great chance at winning the Grand Final last year with a team which could not physically last beyond the year. The chance was squandered by the powers that be when they sacked Jason Akermanis. Jason provided the team with the extra option on the field that they needed, and were never able to fill once he left. Rodney Eade tried to work around the loss, but it simply wasn’t possible.

This year, be it through injury or an aging lineup, the situation is worse.

I strongly believe that Rodney could build up a great team within a few years if given the chance with some new talent in the side, and that this is our best shot at a flag in the coming years. A rebuilding phase is needed, but sacking Rodney is a bad idea at this time. I do hope that I misread David Smorgon yesterday.

In the rugby league’s version of the Bulldogs, it is reported today that coach Kevin Moore has lost the support of the board. I can’t say that I’m surprised. I’ve never been a big fan of Kevin Moore as a coach, and I don’t credit him with much of the success the club had in 2009 as I see a lot of that as being the result of board decisions and good players rather the coaching decisions. Kevin is one coach who I won’t miss should he happen to leave.

***

Some audio for you this morning which will touch the hearts of animal lovers everywhere.

Mark Levin, a great radio host and constitutional lawyer in America (we’ve discussed his work here previously), is a dog lover. Sadly his best friend, the lovely dog Pepsi passed away a couple weeks ago. Mark took a week off to mourn the loss and spend the time with his devastated family. I was very saddened when I heard about the loss (Mark mentioned it on Facebook before disappearing for a week) and sent a card to Mark which apparently arrived on Friday. Many thanks to the nice people in Landmark Legal Foundation’s Virginia office for passing the card on to Mark.

When Mark returned to work on Tuesday, he devoted some of his show to explaining what had happened, and just how much Pepsi meant to him. I cried when I heard it, and I gave Nattie a really big hug when I got home. The audio moved me so much that I have to share it with you, with thanks to Citadel Radio for the audio.

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Mark Levin's dogs Pepsi, Griffen and Sprite

Mark, whose two other dogs Sprite and Griffen were shelter dogs whom he and his family rescued, is very passionate about rescuing dogs which have been abandoned. To that end, he and his family have set up a special fund, “Pepsi, Griffen & Sprite’s Legacy Gift” to help dogs who have been abandoned for one reason or another. All proceeds of the fund go to the Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation who provide dental services, surgery, heartworm treatments, diagnostic testing and more for dogs who would otherwise be overlooked in crowded shelters. I know that Mark contributes greatly to the fund, so I simply ask that if you are at all interested in helping out and can spare a few dollars, please consider donating. I know that you will make a dog somewhere very happy if you do.

***

And that’s it for this week’s rather large Sunday Bits (3,500 words or thereabouts). I visited the Captains Flat weather radar during the week, so you can look forward to some photos from that trip soon.

Until next time, tada.

Samuel

June 5th, 2011 at 09:49am

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