Archive for August, 2009

Coalition split not on the table

I see that the media today is playing up the possibility of a split between the National Party and the Liberal Party, now that the Nationals have declared that they will not support the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Today’s meeting of the federal council of the National Party discussed the ETS, but did not, at any time, issue an ultimatum to the Liberal party. In fact, the media speculation seems to be a media beat-up.

The Nationals’ formal objection to the government’s emissions trading legislation sends a clear message that it won’t support the draft laws as they stand, party leader Warren Truss says.

About 50 delegates voted to unanimously reject the emissions trading scheme (ETS) during Saturday’s session of the federal council meeting in Canberra.

“This is a clear message to the government and for people in regional areas whose jobs are at risk under Kevin Rudd’s CPRS (Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme) that the Nationals will be standing up for them,” Mr Truss told reporters at a doorstop after the council vote.
[..]
Asked if he was prepared for a coalition split at the next vote, Mr Truss said the Liberal and National parties had so far voted against each of the government’s 11 bills that make up the ETS.
[..]
Pushed further on the prospect of a split, Mr Truss said it was a matter for the Liberals as to whether they wanted to change their position on the ETS.

“The Nationals won’t be changing ours,” he said.

So the real story here is that the National Party and Liberal Party might vote differently if the Liberal Party change their stance on the ETS. Wow, exciting story. How some bored journalists have turned this in to “the end of the coalition is nigh!” is beyond me…but points to them for initiative in creative writing.

I suppose it’s possible that they’re basing it on the other “end of the coalition” beat-up today. A story in The Australian where they reported that a recent meeting of some Nationals had discussed the possibility of it…in an idle chit-chat sort of way.

But Senator Joyce played down the possibility of a split, saying some Nationals were “kite-flying” and that no vote had been taken. “I don’t think it will happen,” he said. “Some of the most peculiar things get floated at party meetings. But it doesn’t mean they will happen.”

If I was bound to do every little thing I’d ever discussed in the form of idle chit-chat with mates, I’d be in jail for the next seven thousand years and probably be missing a couple limbs…or I’d be the new dictator of Australia. No sane newspaper would report on the ruminations of my idle conversations, and it’s a pity that they take the idle conversations of the National Party so seriously.

Samuel

August 22nd, 2009 at 03:30pm

Television Rugby League Coverage

An email to 2GB’s Andrew Moore, who will be busy calling the Tigers V Eels clash on 2GB and network stations (including 2CC) tonight. If you want live coverage of the match…you won’t get it on TV, so 2GB is the way to go. Find your local relay station or listen live here.

G’day Andrew,

Just thought you’d like to know that that Live NRL game in Sydney is not the live game on WIN TV across regional New South Wales tonight.

WIN, being a Wollongong based organisation, have decided to run the Dragons game live across NSW. They’re effectively running the Queensland feed through New South Wales.

I, however, will be engrossed in the Dogs V Cats AFL game tonight. I’ll catch you later in the weekend.

Regards,
Samuel Gordon-Stewart
Canberra

August 21st, 2009 at 04:04pm

Where are the press releases?

I See that the AFP website is missing a whole heap of ACT Police press releases from this week. There are a couple press releases from Monday up there, and one from today, but the bunch of press releases in the intervening period have mysteriously not appeared.

Here’s what’s on the website.
AFP Press Release website

It’s a stark contrast to the full list of press releases sent out to media organisations this week:

  • Morning collision provides reminder for parents — 17 August 2009 13:54
  • Witnesses sought to newsagency robbery — 17 August 2009 16:32
  • Police seeking witnesses to weekend assault — 17 August 2009 17:30
  • Witnesses sought to restaurant burglaries — 18 August 2009 09:05
  • Police arrest man for May armed robbery, Weston — 19 August 2009 08:07
  • Police seize $20,000 worth of heroin — 19 August 2009 08:18
  • Two arrested during Griffith burglary — 19 August 2009 13:02
  • Mobile RAPID nets 320 traffic offenders in first month — 19 August 2009 15:14
  • Public help in search for missing young person — 19 August 2009 17:23
  • Man arrested after burglary — 20 August 2009 09:03
  • Police and Westfield combine in program to reduce registration plate theft — 21 August 2009 09:19

There were also a couple correction notices, an update notice, and a not for publication media diary note.

Not only were most of these press releases not placed on the AFP website, they didn’t show up on the crimestoppers website either.
Crimestoppers website

So what are people supposed to do if they hear a mention of one of these stories on the news, and want more details in case they are able to help? The full details aren’t online, and I’m sure police communications phone lines have better uses than reading press releases to curious citizens.

C’mon guys and girls…it’s not that hard. If you want the assistance of the public, you need to give them some information. Copying those press releases on to your website is the easiest way to do that.

Update 10:44pm: Oh that’s amusing, all of the missing press releases except for the one about the missing boy (who has since been found) have appeared on the AFP website. I’m glad to see them there, but somewhat amused that it seems to take either a whinge from me or RiotACT for them to appear.

Hopefully they will keep posting them online now, as it’s a valuable community service which they have previously proven that they are capable of providing, and I’d hate to have to setup a third-party website to do their job for them. That said, if I was to do it for them, I could do it for the often-late ACT Government press releases as well. I wonder if there’s a viable business model in this? End Update

Samuel

August 21st, 2009 at 12:05pm

It’s Larry Emdur on Fox News

Well, a photo of him…and it was a dream, I don’t know if Larry has ever actually been on Fox News.

For some reason I had a dream last night where I was browsing the Fox News website and noticed on the right hand side of their page where they promote some of their shows, they were promoting “the gameshow hour”, with a picture of Larry Emdur and a model standing on either side of the yellow contestant bidding platform on the 1993-1998 Australian “The Price Is Right” set. The camera was placed overhead and they were looking up at it, smiling.

The website indicated that Fox News were going to become a free-to-air channel in Australia, supported by advertising and containing some Australian shows, and they were going to celebrate by running an hour of Aussie gameshow repeats, The Price Is Right and Wheel Of Fortune each day at 5pm in local Australian timezones.

I clicked the picture of Larry Emdur, and ended up on an advertising website, featuring an infomercial from Larry’s current Channel Seven show, The Morning Show. It was selling insurance.

The dream ended here before I bought insurance.

Samuel

August 21st, 2009 at 11:05am

KXNT Jerk Of The Week submission 20/8/2009

Your “Jerk of the Week” submission
Yahoo

Why should this person be the “Jerk of the Week”?
Deleting the Obama Socialism image from Flickr, and deleting Flickr accounts belonging to people who post anti-Obama comments.

Your Name (Optional)
Samuel Gordon-Stewart

Nominate your jerk of the week here.

Samuel

August 20th, 2009 at 11:38pm

James Hardie fines

An email to 2GB’s Andrew Moore:

G’day Andrew,

Re: the James Hardie fines. I think we need to keep in mind that today’s fines relate to an administrative deception, and not directly to compensation to James Hardie victims. For the items which they have been charged, I think the fines are acceptable.

What I think needs to happen though is that separate action needs to be brought against the directors for causing difficulties with paying compensation, and then they should, if found guilty, be forced to pay the unpaid compensation out of their own pockets.

Enjoy the rest of the afternoon.

Regards,
Samuel Gordon-Stewart
Canberra

August 20th, 2009 at 05:21pm

Wireless Network

I was curious this afternoon to see how far my wireless network signal goes, so to test it I left the 2GB webstream running on my laptop as I drove to 1WAY FM. I didn’t lose the signal until I was two blocks from home.

I wasn’t expecting it to reach this far, and alas it’s not quite far enough to be useful, as the suburb’s church which doubles as the election polling place, is just outside my wifi range.

I was also somewhat surprised to have Windows Media Player resume the 2GB stream when my laptop connected to the network at 1WAY FM. I was in the middle of a conversation and it was a bit like having a Chris Smith ringtone interrupting the conversation.

Hmmm, now there’s a thought…I should cobble together a ringtone of all the talk radio personalities that I like.

Samuel

August 20th, 2009 at 02:59pm

Praise the anointed one, or be banned from Flickr

It looks like Yahoo doesn’t like criticism of Barack Obama. Their Flickr photo gallery service has seen fit to silence opposition to the anointed one.

Obama SocialismThat Obama Socialism graphic that’s been doing the rounds of late has caused a bit of a stir on Flickr where they have deleted it, citing a copyright issue.

After creating the image [Firas] Alkhateeb posted it to his Flickr account and ended up getting over 20,000 views on it. 20,000 views that is until Flickr pulled the image down censoring him, along with everyone who commented on the image, citing “copyright-infringement concerns,” according to the [Los Angeles] Times.

Personally I think it’s too bad that Flickr decided to censor this iconic image. Whatever you may or may not think about this image and it’s appropriateness, the image would absolutely and unequivocally be considered parody and parody has always been one of the most effective defenses against any copyright complaint. Parody is why Weird Al gets away with creating a song called “Eat It,” directly to the tune of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.”

What’s more, in the interest of free speech, political parody *especially* is perhaps given the widest berth of all. This is why Ralph Nader was able to directly rip MasterCard’s “Priceless” campaign and why the courts subsequently ruled in his favor after MasterCard sued him over it. Earlier today, a friend and Flickr contact of mine from DMU, A Boy and His Prime, who is a law student, put it more directly. “If you produce something that is transformative, and not derivative, then it’s fair use (Folsom v Marsh). In Campbell v Acuff-Rose, 510 U.S. 569, Souter seemed to suggest that the main idea is substitutability, and that makes a lot of sense when you consider what copyright protects (i.e. your interest in your own work). The Jokerbama does not replace the original photo in any sense.”

And it’s not just this picture. It seems that posting anti-Obama comments can get your Flickr account nuked as well.

Flickr user Shepherd Johnson was browsing the official White House photostream one night when he decided to post a politically-charged comment. Then another, then another. Soon, without warning, Yahoo’s photo-sharing service deleted his account, complete with 1,200 pictures.
[..]
The Virginia man’s initial 10 or so comments, which went up Wednesday night, were deleted without explanation by Friday. That night, Johnson posted roughly ten more to different White House photos, this time linking in another Flickr user’s Abu Ghraib picture, as allowed by Flickr’s comment formatting (see Johnson’s reproduction of his comment, left, taken from his post to freedom-of-information hub Cryptome).

In the midst of this second round of commenting, Johnson found his account was gone. There had been no warning of any sort from Yahoo, he said. Johnson would later work his way up Flickr’s customer service tree, eventually leaving a message for the vice president of customer service and other bigwigs. He even left a message for Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz — a noted fan of frank discourse — on Bartz’s home answering machine.

Johnson, who lives outside Richmond, still has no answers. More crucially, he also doesn’t have access to any of the 1,200 pictures he uploaded to Flickr under his paid “Pro” membership. Many of the pics, he said, were “completely irretrievable — I didn’t back them up on any disks, I just spur-of-the-moment loaded it up and deleted the flash” memory originals.

This is exactly why I refuse to use Flickr or Facebook as my primary photo gallery, as I refuse to give a third party the power to moderate my publications. Flickr, with their politically charged censoring of accounts critical of Barack Obama, have just made my position that bit more solid.

And how do Flickr respond? By clamming up:

In accordance with Flickr’s policy, we cannot disclose information to third parties concerning a member’s account. However, in joining Flickr, all of our members agree to abide by our Community Guidelines. These guidelines require that all of our members be respectful of the community and flag content that may not be suitable for “safe” viewing.
[..]
Flickr is a very large community made up of many types of members from all over the world, and we respect the viewpoints and expressions of all of our members.

Very funny way to show it.

Samuel

August 20th, 2009 at 01:54pm

Who dredged this story up again?

It will never happen, it’s a silly suggestion, so why does it keep coming up?

A shared currency between Australia and New Zealand has merit but is unlikely to eventuate, NZ Prime Minister John Key says.

Speaking to a business luncheon in Melbourne, Mr Key said adopting the Australian dollar would mean NZ forfeiting control of its monetary policy.
[..]
“The reason I don’t think it would happen is not actually because of parochial, political reasons.

“I think it’s because then again you have to abandon, from New Zealand’s perspective, control of monetary policy.”

Mr Key said NZ needed to retain its fiscal independence in case of an economic catastrophe, such as an outbreak of foot and mouth disease.

Only then could there be an enormous correction in currency to try to offset “economic carnage”, he said.

Sovereign nations with their own economies, customs and laws should have separate currencies, unless they feel like giving away more than just control of their currency to some central bureaucracy like the European Union.

Samuel

August 20th, 2009 at 09:44am

Parliamentary triangle noise alert!

If you’re in the parliamentary triangle at 9am and you hear a lot of loud banging noises, don’t be alarmed, it’s just New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key receiving a 19-gun salute.

Call me ignorant if you like, but is this normal? I can’t remember the last time a foreign leader got a 19-gun salute at Parliament House. I would have expected this sort of thing to happen when they step off their plane.

Can anybody enlighten me as to what the normal procedure is?

Meanwhile this afternoon at 1:50pm, Mr. Key will be attending the Australian War Memorial. Expect traffic delays in the area, as the police tend to block off roads so that foreign leaders can have an uninterrupted run from A to B.

Samuel

August 20th, 2009 at 08:45am

Cash For Clunkers alternatives

A few weeks ago I noted that the controversial Cash For Clunkers program was underway in the US, since then it has been embroiled in all flavours of fiasco. The US government so badly underestimated how many people would use it, that the program ran out of money within days, and the government hastily threw more money at it before they disappeared for their August holiday.

Back when I wrote that original article, I was contacted by an outfit called Donate Car USA who were informing me of some of the interesting pitfalls in the Clunkers program. I noted their email, but never got around to writing anything about it. They have since contacted me again, and updated their notes on the Clunkers program, and I think the information is worth sharing.

To qualify for the Clunkers program, you have to be both selling and old car, and buying a new car. In effect, you don’t actually make any money as the cost of the new car well and truly outweighs the cost of the old car. In addition, there are some interesting rules:

  • Your vehicle must be less than 25 years old on the trade-in date
  • Only the purchase or lease of new vehicles will qualify you for the federal funding
  • Trade-in vehicles must get 18 miles or less per gallon
  • Vehicles must be in driving condition, plus registered and insured for the full year prior to the trade-in

As Donate Car USA points out:

The gas mileage rates are so low that only very poor mileage cars like SUVs or trucks will qualify.

And if your vehicle happens to be worth more than the $3,500 or $4,500 rebate amount, well tough luck, you don’t get any government money.

The fact that the program ran out of money with such tight rules is extraordinary, and makes me wonder whether funds were reserved for each application, pending inspection of the clunker in question rather than only being allocated after cars were officially deemed to be clunkers…in which case I expect we will start to see a lot of people very upset that their car doesn’t qualify.

So what do people do if they want to get rid of an old car in the US, but don’t qualify for Clunkers, or don’t want a new car, or just don’t want to go through the hassle of selling. This is where Donate Car USA steps in, making it easy to donate a car, in some cases regardless of whether it is running, to a charity of the donor’s choosing.

Still, it’s a case of giving away something, which might not be an easy thing to do for many people, so they’re offering an incentive…from their website:

And to thank you for deciding to donate your car to charity, instead of participating in the Cash for Clunkers program — when you donate your car to one of our 400+ fine charities — just tell your operator you’d like the $300 Free Grocery or Gasoline Rebate when you make arrangements with us for the free car donation pick up.

Now that’s a charity which understands its target audience. The “what are we going to do with that car on the lawn” brigade who are probably struggling a bit with the economy in the shape it is, and unemployment heading the way it is…a large market of people who would probably like to help out someone else and be able to make their own lives a tad easier at the same time. It’s a darn good deal, and I haven’t even touched on the possible tax benefits yet.

I would strongly advise anyone in the US who is considering getting rid of a car which they may think is a “clunker” to check out Donate Car USA and see if it’s right for them. There’s a lot more information on there than I could ever hope to represent here, and one would assume that their staff can answer any outstanding questions.

Now, are there any similar programs in Australia? Somehow, I doubt it.

Samuel

2 comments August 20th, 2009 at 07:24am

I wonder how many people will stumble over this one today?

A rarely used word appears in today’s AAP stories about Australian ambassadors and Chinese gas deals.

While Chinese state media has said little about the 50 billion Gorgon gas deal .. an editorial in the China Daily newspaper claims Australia’s sinophobic politicians are leading an anti-China chorus.

Sinophobia is the fear of China and the Chinese. It is effectively a version of xenophobia directed specifically at China. I wonder how many people today, when they read that, will think the journalist responsible for the story is actually talking about xenophobia?

Samuel

August 20th, 2009 at 05:55am

Some consistency please?

Oh Supt. Colbran, any chance of some consistency?

Today at your RBT operation (call it what you want, I call it an operation) on Adelaide Avenue I got hassled over a missing rego sticker because you didn’t have the RAPID camera there to quickly identify registered and unregistered vehicles…and your officer walked off in a huff when he realised that he couldn’t book me for anything.

A few hours later in Woden, leaving the carpark area outside Hogs Breath Cafe, a car with no rego plates very slowly drives past one of your marked cars, and the officers don’t even blink at it.

I don’t mind your officers wanting to check that my car was registered (although we could have both saved time if RAPID had been there, as it usually is for these operations), but I do mind being treated like a criminal when somebody else who is much more noticeably missing a crucial bit of identifying stuff on their car, doesn’t even get noticed.

I have to say though, that police presence on the roads today was quite something. I look forward to your next press release in which you will undoubtedly tell us how naughty we all are.

Samuel

August 19th, 2009 at 04:31pm

Roads, rates, rubbish and diets

The federal government have found something else to regulate…diets!

The Rudd Government’s Preventative Health Taskforce is understood to have called for the weight-loss industry to be regulated in a report handed down last month.
[..]
It wants a wide-ranging review of diet products and a common code of practice drawn up covering the cost, the training of counsellors and the promotion of the diets.

The Dietitians Association of Australia is backing the recommendation.

A spokesman told The Daily Telegraph all commercial diet programs should be assessed by a body of experts similar to the Therapeutic Goods Administration, which assesses drugs for safety and efficacy before they can go on sale.

The association said regulation should require businesses marketing a diet program to provide evidence to a panel of experts showing what percentage of those who used the diet kept the weight off two years after starting.

So, in other words, let’s kill the diet industry by requiring all diet programs to have a two year unprofitable trial before it can be examined by a panel of experts for some unknown period of time, after which it might, and I stress the word “might”, be able to go on sale.

The article continues with what appears to be the moronic reasoning behind the taskforce’s idea.

A Choice survey of pharmacy diet programs published earlier this year found they were successful at helping people shed kilos in a hurry if followed closely – but they did little to change a person’s lifestyle in the long term.

Errr, sorry, but that’s not what diet programs are there to do. Diet programs are there to help people lose weight, usually they will encourage a healthy lifestyle afterwards, but the staff of these diet programs can’t force people to live a healthy life after the program ends…that is a personal choice. Diet programs should not be punished by the government because people choose to return to their old ways.

You’d think that the government doesn’t have enough to do or something, so they go in search of new things to annoy us with. Seriously, roads, rates, rubbish, some schools, some emergency services, and leave us alone to make our own choices.

Samuel

August 19th, 2009 at 11:54am

Caltext Woolworths Weston out of unleaded petrol

No surprises in the fact that this happened on a “cheap” day. 121.9 cents per litre.

Call me cynical, but if I didn’t have other things to do, I’d set up a stakeout in the carpark opposite, and see if they unlock the unleaded bowsers before a tanker arrives.

Samuel

August 18th, 2009 at 03:09pm

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