Archive for July 7th, 2009

It’s a start…

US Talk Radio host Mark Levin has been nicknamed “The Great One”. I suppose I should, therefore, be honoured that a spammer by the name of “Mr. Robert” has seen fit to dub me “The Good One”, which might make me a contender to fill-in for Mark one day.

As much as I’m pleased to receive an email purportedly from Switzerland, with the greeting “Dear Good one!!!”, I just don’t think that I’ll ever see the promised 232 million US dollars. Actually, I probably have as much chance of seeing the money, as “Mr. Robert” has of getting my personal details.


July 7th, 2009 at 10:47pm

The difference is how it’s not the same

I’ve had two days to digest this one now, and I still don’t get it. Senator Mark Arbib, I submit to your superior intellect and ask you to kindly explain the difference to me.

Senator Mark Arbib - confusing people on ABC TV's InsidersThere have been, like there’s a story today on the front page of the “Sunday Telegraph” and there’s been a number of them and almost all of these stories that we’ve gone away and checked out have been either inaccurate or not correct.

Yes, the stories are either inaccurate or not correct.

Meanwhile Mark also put on his psychologist hat during the interview, and came up with this pearler:

Senator Mark Arbib - confusing people on ABC TV's InsidersWe’re going to create on the ground and the productivity gains that the country’s going to get.

I mean this is, to sort of question our intentions, [is] just – crazy

Mark, I have a job for you. There’s this bloke over in the US who talks to the media every day…sends them to sleep, uses the word “um” as every third word, and rarely has the faintest clue what’s going on. His name is Robert Gibbs, and he is the White House Press Secretary. I’d like you to take over his job. You make just as much sense, and with an attitude of “questioning our intentions is crazy”, you’d fit right in to the Obama White House.


July 7th, 2009 at 08:37pm

Playlist from a trip to Googong Dam

This afternoon I visited Googong Dam, where the-powers-that-be are building a spillway. Photos to follow tomorrow (it gives me a good reason to get the photo gallery back online), but in the meantime I thought you might find this interesting.

For the drive to Googong Dam, plus the walking around the dam, as well as the drive back via Weston Creek (where a free coffee was waiting to be claimed) and my post office box in Dickson (empty…can you believe that neither Senator Kate Lundy, nor a nameless minion, has bothered replied to my letter?), I took the iPod with me and set it to shuffle. I was pleased with the results, and thought I would share with you, the playlist that it created.

Hagenaar & Albrecht – What Would We Do (Original Mix)
The Cuckoo’s Nest – Medibank Private (We’re gonna flog it off)
The DJs of Euro Trance – Suck My Tube Steak (Hell N’ Back Mix)
Flash Brothers – Stay (Edit)
Cat (Red Dwarf) – Tongue Tied (Funk mix)
Franz Ferdinand – Come On Home
Gerry Rafferty – Baker Street
Sneaky Sound System – (Because of you people say I’m) Crazy
Janis Ian – Fly Too High
Joe Jackson – Is She Really Going Out With Him
Kenny Loggins – The Heat Is On
Wham – Wake Me Up Before You Go Go
Duran Duran – Hungry Like The Wolf
Cletus T. Judd – Trailer Park Woman
The Vogues – Five O’Clock World
Tina Turner – Simply The Best
Nancy Sinatra – These Boots Are Made For Walking
U2 – Angel Of Harlem
Robbie Williams – A Man For All Seasons
Harvey Norman Ad Bed (Version 15FullVox)
The Doobie Brothers – Takin’ It To The Street
Cat (Red Dwarf) – Tongue Tied
The DJs of Euro Trance – M.I.A.
Howard Goodall – Red Dwarf (End Theme)
Alavi – Smells Like Rerox
Boyz Noize – Oh! (A-Trak Remix)
The Irish Rovers – Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer
The Cuckoo’s Nest – He Cut The Hair of Armstrong (and swept it up with a broom)
The Potbelleez – Are You With Me (Hook ‘n’ Sling Mix)
? – Ghostbusters Theme (Techno Remix)
Jose Amnesia – Wouldn’t Change A Thing (feat. Jennifer Rene) [Retrobyte Clubmix Edit]
Bissen – Exhale (Edit)
Mike Foyle – Firefly (Original Mix)
Stevie Wonder – Master Blaster
Bond – Victory (Mike Batt Mix)
Slim Dusty – G’day G’day
Starshine – Feels Alright
Fats Waller – I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter
David Guetta – When Love Takes Over (feat. Kelly Rowland)
Boney M – Mary’s Boy Child
Various Artists (In The Mix) – The Trance Yearmix 2007 part one (which I skipped after a few minutes when it started playing a track which I had heard earlier on in the journey)
Dave Edmunds – Girls Talk
The DJs of Euro Trance (Trance Anthems) – Take It or Leave It

Most enjoyable, although I have to wonder if that list will surprise a few people.


7 comments July 7th, 2009 at 05:59pm

WA Police understand driver risk categories

I feel vindicated. It’s so nice to know that a police force somewhere, even if it is on the other side of the country, agrees with me that you can’t just declare all unauthorised drivers to be incredibly dangerous, and expect your citizens to swallow your hype.

I wrote a lengthy editorial about this subject last year, in which I spelt out the differences between the risk profiles of the various types of unauthorised drivers, after the Australian Federal Police (who police the Australian Capital Territory) went on a bizarre crusade…I couldn’t stand by and let them lump all unauthorised drivers in to the same category of “extremely dangerous”.

From the article in the first link:

A record number of cars have been impounded since new laws came into effect yesterday.

Under the laws, police have the authority to impound any car for 28 days if the driver does not have a valid licence.

So far, about 70 cars have been confiscated, including several company cars.

So, that’s the “crackdown” in a nutshell, but how does this prove that the Western Australian Police force agrees with my categories…?

Inspector Royal says not all unlicensed drivers face having their car confiscated.

“Unlicensed driver’s licence impounding will not affect people whose licence has expired,” he said.

If you’ve never held a driver’s licence you won’t get your car impounded. If you’re driving contrary to driver’s licence conditions you won’t get your car impounded. If you are under fine suspension you won’t get you car impounded.

(emphasis mine)

Proof that my point last year about administrative suspensions not making drivers inherently dangerous was not just a 3am rant. The WA Police have agreed with my point, and I’m pleased to see it.

I’m not condoning driving when one is not legally allowed to do so, but it’s great to see that at least one Police force has seen the light, and noticed that focussing the harsher penalties on the people who have proven themselves to be dangerous is a smart use of Police resources, and a better way to manage the roads.


July 7th, 2009 at 01:29pm

Never let the New South Wales Government build a train tunnel

Because if, for some strange reason, they actually succeed in building it, you can be assured that it will be plagued with problems. This time around, it’s lighting which makes train drivers sick.

Chatswood Epping Rail link a blinking farce
By Rhys Haynes
The Daily Telegraph

THE problems facing the $2.3 billion Epping to Chatswood Rail Link – a train line $1 billion over budget that goes halfway to it original destination – continue to mount.

Yesterday I travelled along the line, staring out the window like any of the 10,000 passengers would do each day.

I tried to count the individual lights as we went along, and at one point I swayed sideways because I felt so giddy.

I was able to look away and take a few seconds to readjust my eyes because I was dizzy.

I can’t even imagine what it is like for a driver trying to concentrate on his or her job.

It would be like trying to drive a car while having your front seat passenger flicking a torch on and off in your face – for 8½ hours.

RailCorp played down the claims of ill drivers when approached by The Daily Telegraph yesterday.

But in the same breath one of the organisation’s most senior executives, Andy Byford, said he had immediately implemented a number of considerable shift restrictions and driver rules because he was taking “no risks”.
The link won’t be officially in place until October when the line is integrated into the rest of the network’s timetable.

That means the Rees Government has less than 100 days to sort out the problems before it gets truly embarrassing.

Right now these issues are buried deep underground in a small pocket of Sydney’s northwest.

Steep tracks, loud trains, problematic concrete sleepers and cracks in the ceiling are just the start of it.
The latest problem on the Epping to Chatswood line involving a strobe-lighting effect seems staggeringly obvious to anyone who has travelled in the tunnel.

Why did it take a driver in hospital to force RailCorp to investigate the problem?

That would be a good question Rhys, if it weren’t the New South Wales government in charge. Have you ever known the Carr/Iemma/Rees et al government to build a tunnel or other bit of transport infrastructure, be it for cars, trains, aeroplanes or ferries, and get it right?

Didn’t think so.


July 7th, 2009 at 11:51am

Here we go again…either outlaw it, or leave it alone

I’m sick of the government’s war on cigarettes, alcohol and anything else which they deem to be bad for you. The reason I’m sick of their war on said items is that they don’t have the guts to outlaw the darn things…instead they take the “softly softly” wrap-you-up-in-expensive-cotton-wool approach of increasing the taxes on the items they don’t like, under the false guise of the extra revenue being spent on the health system.

This time around its cigarettes which are in the (no pun intended) firing line.

The price of a pack of cigarettes could soon hit 20 dollars for a pack of 30 as the federal government considers tax hikes in bid to force up to one million Australians to kick the habit.
The landmark report, now being examined by Health Minister Nicola Roxon, urges the government to slash smoking rates over the next decade to nine per cent, reducing the number of people aged 14 and over who smoke daily from three million to two million.

Under the changes, some of which were canvassed in a discussion paper released late last year, cigarette packets would be generic and plain, with larger graphic health warnings taking up about 90 per cent of the front and 100 per cent of the back.

The plan has been strongly backed by anti-smoking organisations such as the Public Health Association, the Cancer Council and the National Heart Foundation, but has alarmed cigarette companies, which claim it could be unlawful.

I think the best summary of this nonsense was on ABC TV’s “Insiders” programme on Sunday morning which, sadly, the ABC can’t be bothered transcribing. The video is here for the rest of the week.

Basically, George Megalogenis from The Australian went on about how the extra revenue will be kept separate from the rest of the budget, and the government expect the price hikes to not produce extra revenue in the long term because of the larger number of people who will choose to quit smoking if the price is increased in this way, to which Andrew Bolt from the Herald Sun responded “You’re so trusting”.

Spot on Andrew. An increase in the cost of smoking like this may very well force a few more people to decide that smoking is no longer financially viable for them, but it’s just as likely that others will just choose to cut back on the amount they spend on other items. The number of times we have seen governments take money and promise to do certain things with said money (such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge toll), and instead throw said money in to general revenue…if you believe that an increase in tax revenue from cigarettes will go directly in to the health system, then you also believe that pigs will fly in to Parliament House and sing the praises of Kevin Rudd during question time (and no, that does not include jetsetting backbench MPs posing Dorothy Dixer questions).

To put this as simply as I can, if the government has the guts to outlaw cigarettes, then I will support them, because that might actually have the positive health effects that they would like us to believe a tax increase will have. I will not, however, support stupid, money-hungry tax increases dressed up as health benefits.

And I don’t even smoke! I just don’t think it’s fair for people who legally choose to smoke, to be forced to pay extra taxes for the privilege, when those taxes are taken under false pretences. Nor do I think it is fair for smokers to be, on the assumption that smoking taxes actually do go towards health initiatives, forced to pay the nation’s health bill when there are plenty of other reasons for people to need to health care.

But of course we know that the government won’t outlaw cigarettes, because they know that a large percentage of the nation’s voters happen to enjoy smoking, and would not take kindly to their government declaring them to be criminals. It’s surprising that those same voters are more willing to accept an artificial increase in the price of their indulgence.

This plan has nothing to do with health, and everything to do with politics, and the people who wrote the report for Nicola Roxon know it.


July 7th, 2009 at 09:37am

Barack Obama’s Rasmussen approval ratings for June

Another month (and a week) gone, so it must be time, once again, to check in on US President Barack Obama’s approval ratings, and it has to be said that June was not a great month for him, with the “strongly approve vs strongly disapprove” figures favouring the “strongly disapprove” for the first time ever, and for a number of days in the month.

As always, the figures presented herein are taken from the Rasmussen Daily Tracking Poll.

June saw, as the overall trend, a slow closing of the gap between the raw “approve” and “disapprove” numbers.

Barack Obama's approval rating during June 2009
Data courtesy Rasmussen Reports, LLC

Looking solely at the “strongly approve” vs “strongly disapprove” figure, known as the “Rasmussen Approval Index”, we see that it crossed the zero line many times.
Barack Obama's Rasmussen Approval Index during June 2009
Data courtesy Rasmussen Reports, LLC

As usual, to put this in context, here are the graphs for all of 2009.
Barack Obama's approval rating during 2009 until May
Data courtesy Rasmussen Reports, LLC

Barack Obama's Rasmussen Approval Index during 2009 until May
Data courtesy Rasmussen Reports, LLC

It’s quite clear, looking at those graphs, that June continued what May paused: the gradual increase in disapproval with Barack Obama. It’s just a pity that the US system of government does not have an opposition leader, as I would love to be able to compare the figures with an opposition leader if they had one.


July 7th, 2009 at 07:57am


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