Thursday, December 21, 2006

Shane Warne?

Crazy as it may sound I think the surprise announcement by Shane Warne that he is going to retire after the Sydney test is a set up by Channel Nine.
The test series against England is over, 3 Nil down and 2 matches to go. Apart from the barmy and army and some die hard fans who would bother to go to MCG on Boxing day.

A dead rubber is a dead rubber.

Not now, Shane has changed all that with this announcement and all the management at channel nine must be sighing a collective sigh. It has guaranteed an audience for the last two tests despite the no contest situation. Who wouldn't want to watch the worlds best bowler of the last century firstly get his 700 th wicket, and play in his penultimate and then his last test match.

The reason I link this to channel nine is that it is definite that he will work for nine on his retirement and so to kick off his career with nine he announces his retirement in time to maximise the interest in these last two tests. There you go simple.

Best of luck Shane enough said.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Planes and Water

As the summer heats up and here in Melbourne we watch as our parks turn yellow and brown from lack of rain. We have been informed that as of the 1st of January we will be on stage 3 water restrictions. This means, I think that we can no longer use the watering hose as and when we like, and other water restrictions will be imposed. The government that is imposing these restrictions needs to reassure the public that they are on the case with regard to reusing the water we are already using. Not only that, but also how we are to find new water supplies from as many places and treatments as possible.
There are too many people living in cities like Melbourne to be left wondering about their future water provision and the quality of that water. So here's a water tip to the Brack's government announce some some water strategies so we can have a worry free Christmas.

Qantas is to be sold and now the pilots have come out saying they want to start a fighting fund to stop the takeover. If you read a previous blog you will see that I am against the sale too. So good on you pilots I'm right behind you.

Any additional comments can be sent to

Thursday, December 14, 2006


What the hell, The management at Qantas have agreed to be bought by a group called 'Airline Partners Australia' a bunch of faceless men who will now control our national airline. And all the minister responsible for this area could say was subject to compliance with regulatory blah blah blah and the share holders deserve a return on their investment. Again it is Macquarie bank behind this, the chief exec of Qantas is getting 60 million dollars for this deal so I wonder why the board caved in and sold. The chief exec is going to donate his 60 million to charity and in some way that will be alright.
So it is OK to fleece a major company of millions of dollars if you can be seen to be giving some of it to charity. Cause the CEO is not going to stop at the first 60 million he has many more where those were stashed.
The Macquarie pay their chiefs squillions and when asked just say that's what you need to pay them to keep good staff. Well try telling that to the hundreds of workers who will now get the sack so as to maximise profits to these new faceless owners. Not even a share holders meeting to air any grievances.
This government must take some of the blame for this they set up piss weak regulatory frameworks and then sit back and watch these companies get sold and their only comments are about market places and share holders.
If you want to run an airline and you have squillions to spend go make one for yourselves and try and make it profitable.

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

How we can't undo the done

An article today in The Age by my very favourite journalist Kenneth Davidson, is titled, 'The AWB scandal is a lesson on the pitfalls of privatisation'. And of course relates to the bribery scandal of the Wheat board and Iraq.

It got me thinking about a pet topic I have going around my head at the moment. That is that we as a species will find it almost impossible to wind back, unravel, undo, the way we survive. We are very good at inventing ways of survival, or reinventing our habitat. But if we were met with the challenge of undoing technology or reducing our populations, using less of things we consume as nations we don't just don't get it. We always want to do better than the last generation. We can pull together to improve our lot, but not to [in our eyes] diminish our standards of living.

Privatisation has been part of all that, because 'Wealth creation' is the corner stone of a capitalist society and by and large that is the predominant system around at the moment. I see privatisation as a last ditch attempt by big business to take from the many and give to the few. And I don't just mean the assets that they are taking, but the control as well.

If we want to control the green house gases, or the water resources, the energy consumption, Limit the population growth, protect the environment. All these things and more, require good unselfish governance, not privatised companies running these sensitive areas with profit as a motive, and a way out, if it all gets too messy.

An example of how bad governance that allows big business to get away with corruption. One response from the Government can be, 'I know nothing response.' If as prime minister you claim you haven't been told, you therefore don't know, so you can't be blamed. Or as our prime minster says of the AWB bribery scandal.

"There was absolutely no belief anywhere in the government at the time that the AWB was anything other than a company of great reputation. It had been involved in the wheat trade since the 1930s, it had not entered my mind that it could have acted corruptly."

This is a company that had been given the unique position of being the sole exporter of Australian Wheat. A monopolist in a capitalist world. Allowed by a government that professed to support free trade and enterprise. Note: [Take from the many give to the few] style of capitalism.

So in a world where we increasingly need to put our resources into sorting out our environmental problems our government shut their eyes to hundreds of millions of dollars going to a regime that we were at war with, in the form of bribes to prop up a dictator that we were being told had to be deposed with force.

Our government is a disgrace in so many areas, and to boot they have wasted the prosperity of the last decade on this kind of behaviour.

By the way congratulations to Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard. Lets hope they win the next election and bring about some honesty to governance in Australia.


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Friday, December 01, 2006

The sacred cow has gone mad

Stephen Hawking thinks we should look to other solar systems to survive. Please consider alternatives to this statement.
P.S. I saw Kim Beasely looking very chipper at the MCG on Thursday a touch of madness in his eyes too. Today we hear there is to be a leadership challenge that is most likely to succeed. I probably saw him for the last time as the leader of the opposition.
Woof again

LONDON, England (Reuters) -- Humans must colonize planets in other solar systems traveling there using "Star Trek"-style propulsion or face extinction, renowned British cosmologist Stephen Hawking said on Thursday.

Referring to complex theories and the speed of light, Hawking, the wheel-chair bound Cambridge University physicist, told BBC radio that theoretical advances could revolutionize the velocity of space travel and make such colonies possible.

"Sooner or later disasters such as an asteroid collision or a nuclear war could wipe us all out," said Professor Hawking, who was crippled by a muscle disease at the age of 21 and who speaks through a computerized voice synthesizer.

"But once we spread out into space and establish independent colonies, our future should be safe," said Hawking, who was due to receive the world's oldest award for scientific achievement, the Copley medal, from Britain's Royal Society on Thursday.

Previous winners include Albert Einstein and Charles Darwin.

In order to survive, humanity would have to venture off to other hospitable planets orbiting another star, but conventional chemical fuel rockets that took man to the moon on the Apollo mission would take 50,000 years to travel there, he said.

Hawking, a 64-year-old father of three who rarely gives interviews and who wrote the best-selling "A Brief History of Time", suggested propulsion like that used by the fictional starship Enterprise "to boldly go where no man has gone before" could help solve the problem.

"Science fiction has developed the idea of warp drive, which takes you instantly to your destination," said.

"Unfortunately, this would violate the scientific law which says that nothing can travel faster than light."

However, by using "matter/antimatter annihilation", velocities just below the speed of light could be reached, making it possible to reach the next star in about six years.

"It wouldn't seem so long for those on board," he said.

The scientist revealed he also wanted to try out space travel himself, albeit by more conventional means.

"I am not afraid of death but I'm in no hurry to die. My next goal is to go into space," said Hawking.

And referring to the British entrepreneur and Virgin tycoon who has set up a travel agency to take private individuals on space flights from 2008, Hawking said: "Maybe Richard Branson will help me."

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Terrance Cole

The 'Cole report has been handed down and as expected it lets the government off the hook. Having said that, I think there is enough in it to implicate government ministers and their staff. In fact if probably goes a lot further than that, if you only knew, as an insider would.

Below I have copied from The Age newspaper, a few lines quoting legal advisers to the AWB executives who say they didn't do any of the bribery for personal gain, and the government knew of these bribes all along.

I have always disliked people in power misbehaving with our money [taxes] or our trust. In this case one [money] led to the other. The opposition [Labor] are saying it is the biggest scandle in the history of the commonwealth. If it is found to be that the foreign minister [Mr. Downer] or the Prime minister [Mr. Howard] knew anything of this and have lied and purposely restricted the terms of reference for the Cole enquiry then they should go. And in the words of the Cole enquiry, 'They should be subject to the full force of the law'.


The Age 28/11/2006

AWB figures implicated in the Iraq wheat scandal have threatened to call Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer as a witness if they face trial, with one vowing "my QC will rip him to shreds".

With the Cole report yesterday recommending 11 former AWB executives be investigated for possible criminal offences but clearing Howard Government ministers and officials, several wheat board figures embroiled in the scandal hit out at the Coalition.

"The Government knew, and what about the UN? They knew everything," said one AWB figure. "It's like Breaker Morant all over again. If I go to trial, then Downer will be the first witness called, that's a promise. My QC will rip him to shreds."

Another AWB executive said: "This is ridiculous. None of us got any personal profit, it all went to the farmers … everything was approved by the AWB, by our lawyers and the Government."

Monday, November 27, 2006


Over the weekend we had an election, here in Victoria. That's just in case you missed. People in Canada probably missed it, cause we nearly did here. If it wasn't a case of you have to vote, then I think most of us wouldn't of bothered. Yes here in Australia all elections are compulsory, and you get fined if you don't vote.

The voting ritual goes a bit like this. You can vote on the day between 8 am and 6 pm. And you can send you vote in via the post. [Postal vote] or you can vote outside your electorate [Absentee vote] you just have to get your name ticked off the big register, one is held at all voting centers. The voting centers are usually primary schools, church halls, kindergartens. The scrutinizers are very strict with protocol but usually kind and helpful at the same time. There are things you can't do, usually to do with persuading others to vote a particular way or not vote at all. With in the confines of the voting hall you must wait your turn to see an election official who has the register, you give them your details they asked you a couple of questions.

'have you voted today?'

'What is your address?'

Then they line you off the register, and away you go with your voting papers in your hand.

We usually have 2 pieces of paper to vote on because the states have 2 houses of parliament and so does the Commonwealth. Which is the name we give to the Federal Government in Canberra.

Once you have sorted the voting out, which can be quite confusing, due to the number of candidates. If you were to tick all the boxes in the Senate you would need to have a pencil sharpener.

Back to state election, The queue of voters ran around the school, it took 25 minutes to get inside. While you wait, spruikers for the political parties approach and offer you 'How to vote' cards, which take the pain out of voting, that's if you want to vote the way your preferred party want you to vote. This means that the preferences of the candidates/parties will be distributed to their preferred candidates if and when required.

Don't ask me to explain this system, it means there is a lot of bargaining between political parties, much to the voters chagrin.

The election results were known by mid-evening and the incumbent Labor party were re-elected with a very small decrease in seats.


Monday, November 20, 2006

T3 and the Supa fund

Just a quick note on the T3 float that has gone so well, due I'm sure cause you can get a fully franked share. Not being a share holder it doesn't make much sense to me, but I can't think why you would invest in a share that has consistently gone down.
Still that is not what I''m writing about. I have noticed that the 15.5 Billion dollars it has raised is going into the governments Future Fund. Which should really be called the Supa fund for Public servants. I didn't agree at the last election when the Treasurer said this fund would be set up to pay out the supa funds of our public servants. They get a disproportionate contribution and in the past it is paid by the current public servants contributions. Now we are selling publicly owned assets to pay supa. Whereas when Telstra was first floated for sale it was going to the environment a much healthier cause than paying out public servants.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Mis-Spoken Beazely

A Yes Minister Sketch.
Dear The Age Letters,

Today Mr. Beazely claims he 'Mis-spoke. His exact words were,
"I would like to correct the record after I mis-spoke this morning,"

This was in reference to his attempt to offer his condolences to Rove
McManus on the loss of his wife Belinda Emmett. Instead of Rove
McManus he said Karl Rove.

I think if he was being honest about this he would say, I have made a
mistake. I have never heard the expression used in this way before. It
smacks of 'Yes Minister' speak to me. Who ever made the original
mistake should own up to it, either a staff member or Mr. Beazely

The sentiments behind an announcement like this is, of a personal
nature, and indicates a caring for the bereaved. When it goes very wrong like
this has, it diminishes the value of the sentiment.
In my book Mis-spoke doesn't exist, it's a cop out.


Pamela Stephenson and A Salty Tale

Showing on the ABC TV at the moment is a programme about Pamela Stephenson looking for the wreck of her great great grandfathers. I will attach and article from The Age newspaper re the reasons for this search.

The point I want to make having watch two shows [more to come] is that you get the impression that these people are so up themselves it puts them all in a bad light. It is a bit like the Hierarchical system of the English royalty playing it's self out and the main players are so unaware of their awful behavior.

They are either Royalty [Pam] with lines like, 'I want them to get off my boat'. 'It's my money'. [Referring to the lost treasure.]

Or they are the Courtiers, in this case minor public school affected voices pampering to the Queens desires.

Then comes the downstairs crew. Upstairs downstairs trip. The downstairs are the security, cooks, film crew.

And one more category the hangers on. I think at one point there is mention of 17 people on this 'Yacht'.

In many ways it is a rich persons junket, there are probably hundred of them taking place every year. It's just this could of been a good story of lost treasure and mutinous crew. Instead it is insight of sorts into the rich and not so famous and how they live, and such they don't come out smelling of roses.

To sum up there is a scene where two of the hangers on, are celebrating the sun going over the yard arm, by downing a couple of beers. With a bit of banter and a few shots of them swigging away the final shot is of the pair of them throwing their empty beer bottles over the side. Moments after which, we are told by Pamela just how beautiful and pristine the sea is.

And when she really needs to get somewhere [fast] she abandons the multi-million dollar yacht and flies off to pursue her search. The sense of adventure lost immediately.

So there you have it the comings and goings of the rich.


The Age Article

STUNNED by a chance meeting and a revelation about her great-great-grandfather's grisly demise, Pamela Stephenson sailed into pirate-plagued waters to discover her past.

The New Zealand-born wife of Scottish comedian Billy Connolly walked into a bar in Malta and heard a woman say: "It wasn't a mutiny, you know."

In her book Billy, Stephenson had briefly mentioned that her great-great-grandfather, British sailor Samuel "Salty Sam" Stephenson, had been the victim of a mutiny on his ship near Java in 1821.

But someone thought otherwise.

"It is probably the weirdest coincidence of my life," she said, describing in Melbourne yesterday the curious meeting. The woman said she was descended from a crew member of his ship Rosalie, and said it had been seized by pirates, who killed Stephenson.

"I was absolutely shocked that there should have been two completely different stories … handed down through families over many generations," she said. "The full import of it didn't hit me right then. It was only in the subsequent weeks that I thought, what is going on here?"

She readied a crew and sailed her 30-metres yacht Takapuna from Cairns to the Indonesia Archipelago. What happened from there is the basis of a book and four-part television series Murder or Mutiny, which investigates the story through old shipping records, personal testimony and physical evidence. Stephenson, a former actor and comic turned psychologist and author, feels satisfied with the results of her exploration, but continues to seek information about Salty Sam.

"One of the things that I'm hoping is that somebody might have more information," she said. "I think there are lots of pieces I still don't know."

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Smart Cards on Public Transport

A report out today tells of how here in Melbourne we evade our public transport fares in a big way. We do this because we can, the system lost it's conductors and number of years ago. They were replaced with an automated ticketing system, that hasn't really worked very well since it's inception.

The way it works: You buy a ticket either at an outlet such as a milk bar, tattslotto shop, or on the tram. You have to know what type of ticket you want, how long you want to travel for. 2 hours or more, where you want to go, zone 1,2, or 3. You have to provide a status I.D. if you want a concession ticket. As you can see just getting the ticket is a pain. Once you have the ticket and you get on the tram you are supposed to validate the ticket. This is done by passing the ticket into a slot in a validating machine these are mounted along the center aisle of the tram. Once you have done all this you can take a seat and rest easy. That is until a ticket inspector comes along to check on all those passengers who haven't bought a ticket, or validated their pre-bought one. Even the validating is a contentious issue. The law is vague about whether you actually have to validate a pre-purchased valid ticket.
So we have public transport fraud.

At the time of this system being put out for tender, there were all sorts of cock ups. Culminating in broken contracts, court cases and overruns in costs etc etc. Now we are on the brink of yet another system, that in my opinion will be even worse.

The new system proposes we use a smart card to pay for our public transport trips. Smart cards have been around for a while, but for a variety of reasons they are not in common usage yet. The main reason for that I think is that what appeared to be a secure card re privacy turned out to be not so.

My main objection to using a smart card in this way is that a smart card has a lot of private information on it. It has money stored in it. It requires sophisticated software. And all this is expected to work very quickly on a busy commuter tram with queues of passengers lurching this way and that, as the inexperienced traveler tries to decipher the information required to purchase the correct fare with the correct zone correct status etc etc. [See above for fare pricing]. I think the designers of this system haven't thought through the everyday practicalities of traveling on public transport. In a similar way to the current ticketing system which is still not working properly.
I know for one I wouldn't want to be harassed at a ticket machine on a busy tram with a faulty or used up smart card.
Next time I will suggest an alternative system.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

King Arthur [John Howard] And the Round Table

As previously mentioned, the climate debate is going to hot up here in Australia. The main stream politicians are jumping on board. Our esteemed leader John Howard has just announced an enquiry into climate change. He has set up a business club as a sort of round table affair where very well heeled captains of industry will help determine our global future from an Australian perspective.

It seems like only yesterday that John Howard didn't see any problems with global warming, in fact it was a totally unproven piece of hokey pokey, peddled by the lefties and the Greens who didn't like the way capitalism did business.

As previously mentioned now that some prominent elderly business men have decided to adopt some green credentials, the likes of King John will come on board and make a shit load of political mileage out of climate change and global warming. He won't take any blame for delaying this decision for the best part of a decade. He won't admit to being influenced in his cabinet by good mates, he had made ministers for energy and mines, who actually owned coal mines. He won't apologise for blaming his inaction on the loss of Australian jobs if he signed Kyoto. Which in fact is probably the opposite outcome if we do nothing to curb global warming.

All you can say is the canny old bugger, managed to get another 10 years of top price coal sales while he ignored the greenhouse gas emissions. Now he will get as much credence for seeing the 'Green' light.

I'm sure he hopes to wrong foot the Labor party and the Greens in his pursuit of the Statesman credentials he hopes he will be remembered for.

Cause his involvement in the war in Iraq surely shouldn't.

a link to a great little video, called [Wont get fooled again ] made I think while the Americans were having their Senate elections.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Forgetful, I was sitting here wondering what I had on my mind to write and realised I had forgotten the subject entirely, I had it on my way to work and now I am here it has gone. I know it included something with numbers in, that's all that comes back to me right now.

While sitting here I also realise I have forgotten to shave this morning. Did all the normal stuff showering etc. but somehow skipped the shaving bit. I'll let you know when I remember these things.

This reminds me of an article I read about getting older and getting cross with ones self about forgetting things. In the vain of I am forgetting simple things therefore I am becoming senile and dementia is setting in. The positive thought that came out of this rather depressing realisation was this.

We forget things all our lives, when we are younger it doesn't matter, and we don't beat ourselves up about it. But when we pass 50 we start to panic and think it is a new occurrence, and we are heading down the senile one way street. This is not true for most of us, it is just that we forget things like we always did. In fact we remember heaps of things and we have 50 years of memories to look after. So by the time I remember what I was going to write about I will of had a hundred more things to remember.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Global Warming

At the end of the last century we had the millennium bug. Yes we all caught the millennium bug. Whether it was real or imagined or real with a lot of spin, we may never know.

Once the year 2000 arrived we all got on with our lives never to think of it again. But you should of heard the noise it made in the lead up to that fateful day. We were so paranoid that disasters would happen,
aeroplanes would fall out of the sky, people thought their life savings would disappear from their bank accounts etc. etc. As a world community we spent billions of dollars on fixing the problem. I think it was the first time I saw figures in the billions to describe a fault fixing budget.

Now you may wonder what this has to do with Global warming or Climate change.

Finally the main stream press,
politicians, community, are taking notice of this problem. For the first time right wing middle to old age white men are being converted and because they are in powerful positions we will now be presented with their idea, of what changes are required to fix the problem.

But first we will get noise. Lots of noise, it will get so loud that we will be fed up with it with in the next few years. Elections will be fought over it, schools, work places, manufacturing, third world economies, all of these will be made to be accountable to treaties and international agreements. There will be everything from the benign to the extreme. And all will get their representation in the media, school newsletters, mission statements, retirement plans, you name it, it will affect it. The industry around this will be bigger than Ben
Hur, and all because it has become the issue/cause of the 21st century.

Don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem with cutting back on
consuming carbon fuels and most of the related addictions to modern consumer based society. I just don't think we will work out constructive ways to do it. We will all jump up and down and make all that noise. Have a hundred and one opinions and get very little achieved. We will probably pass the buck and the blame onto whoever is weaker than ourselves. We will have environmental spies, dob in a neighbour, already exists over some issues this mentality will get worse, or better considering your point of view.
You probably see where I am coming from, I will expand more as the noise gets louder.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The editing Pencil

I have just upgraded to the new beta blog. At the same time I have changed my computer to a newer one. I am running virtually the same xp system and viewing this blog on firefox. But some how I have lost that little pencil that enables you to quickly edit your blog when viewing it as a blog page. I have checked security settings and firewalls etc. etc.
I have even written to the blogger team, to no avail. Does anyone know how I can get that darn pencil back to edit my blogs.
Apart from that have a nice Melbourne cup and I hope your horse wins.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

New Blogger

Hi Anna went over to the new beta blog this morning, so no excuses re comments etc. Time does fly and we are already thinking about camping up on the farm again. 2 hours of daylight saving I think I remember that but I thought it was during the war. Hope all goes well.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Climate Change

Well now we have it, climate change is the big thing for the 21st century and if we don't do something about it we will be in strife.

The places that I think of, that will cop the raw end of the deal are the islanders around the world. Their homes have been under threat for many years, what with cyclones and occupation by colonial powers. So I feel for them in the coming years with rising sea levels, most affecting them.

I also think of the animals that live at the extremes of our planet. The Artic and Antarctic mammals. They need the cold conditions to live their lives, they need ice and snow.

Our type of democracy in the west has evolved with quite a different mind set to the one we need now. It has been one of expansion and always getting bigger and better. Now we have to think about getting smarter and smaller. For the first time in a long time the next generation will possibly experience a lesser standard of living. They may well start to have a shorter life span, have less variety in their diets and travel not in cars for much longer.

The great experiment in human industrialisation had a 200 year time span and is now in decline. There still exists a few people who have never known the lifestyle of the modern era. Unfortunately it is their environment that will be diminished by our global warming.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Summer Time Has Arrived

Summer time has arrived as in we have gone onto daylight savings. [is it saving or savings?]
This brings about a problem here in Australia, we have some states that don't want to have longer evenings. They come up with some fanciful ideas as to what happens if you do have daylight savings. Just this last week the Premier of Queensland said, 'People will suffer more skin cancers if we introduce daylight savings'. And he was serious. It is usually the more northern states like Queensland and Western Australia, who worry over the introduction of daylight savings. Where as the most southerly state Tasmania, loves it so much they start a month earlier than the mainland. Back to some of those comments, usually uttered by politicians who want to win rural votes at the next election.
The curtains will fade quicker.
The cows wont want to give milk. Or
The cows don't want to come in to give milk.
I am sure a dedicated observer could around this time of year come up with a shopping list of complaints. Cause it is this time of year that the topic is addressed, with boring repetition.
So I promise not to retell all this next year, though I might let you know when it ends. Just to keep you all watching this space.
Last word on Day light saving.
In the U.K. during the second world war, I was told they had 2 hours of daylight saving. It stays light until at least 9 pm with one hour just imagine with two. Living in the north of England or Scotland and waiting for the sun to go down, so you can go to bed.


Friday, October 27, 2006

The SBS reply

This the letter I received back from the TV station SBS. They just don't get it, re quality of broadcasting being about a viewing experience.

SBS has taken this course of action following a great deal of
consideration and investigation. It was not an easy decision to make,
but the alternative was far less palatable. SBS could continue with its
current format, but its ability to commission quality Australian
productions and to purchase the world's best films, television
programs and sporting fixtures would become more and more restricted due
to limited Government funding and the prospect of diminished advertising
revenue as a result of competition from Pay TV, the Internet and other

SBS obtains about 80% of its funds from Government. But in the May
budget SBS suffered a $3m shortfall in its appropriation for this
current year (excluding digital transmission and distribution costs) and
received no extra funds at all for program making.

The remainder of SBS funding comes from advertising revenue. Even
though that amount is relatively small, it is vitally important revenue
that goes exclusively to the purchase, commissioning and production of

Under its Act, SBS is obligated to operate in an efficient and
cost-effective manner and, importantly, it is required to actively
pursue funding opportunities independent of Government funding.

Since 1991, SBS Television has broadcast a maximum of five minutes of
ads per hour between programs and in natural breaks. This is far less
than the average 13-15 minutes of advertising permitted on the
commercial television networks.

Until now, SBS has broadcast up to five minutes of ads as well as
several minutes of program promotions in a single block between
programs, meaning 6-10 minutes would elapse before the next program
began. During this time, we consistently lost more than 50% of our
viewers. They would simply change channels or switch off.

With smaller audiences, SBS's advertising rates (already well below
the commercial networks) had to be reduced still further. The result has
been a curtailment of our program-making capabilities because less money
from ads means less money for the commissioning and the production of
original programs.

Under the new format the maximum of five minutes of ads per hour still
applies, but the ads will be spread across the hour in three separate
breaks, each containing 90 seconds of commercials. In half-hour
programs, there will be two 60-second commercial breaks.

This will restore true commercial value to SBS's ad breaks. By
placing short ads within programs, when SBS reaches its peak audiences,
our advertising rates can be increased. We estimate that this will raise
at least $10m in the first 12 months of operation. All of this
additional revenue will go into program making and the commissioning of
programs from independent Australian producers.

With this extra revenue we will launch a one hour news program in
January that will expand our coverage of international and national
news. The bulk of the additional funds will go to the commissioning of
quality Australian drama, documentaries and other programs.

By dramatically reducing the time between programs, we believe SBS
audiences will be encouraged to stay, especially because the in-program
breaks will include program promotions about forthcoming programs. It is
important that information about other programs on SBS reaches the
largest possible audience. Currently these messages, in the form of
promos, are lost in the middle of lengthy and cluttered breaks between
programs. Too often our audience tells us they would have watched a
particular program "if only I had known it was on". The placement of
promos in a more accessible place helps overcome that communication

We understand your concerns regarding in-program breaks, but these
changes will enable us to continue to provide our viewers with the
highest quality and most diverse programming available on free-to-air
television in Australia.

Yours sincerely,

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A letter to SBS TV

Dear SBS comments,

With regard to the placement of advertising during the programmes you


I have been trying to work out why it is wrong and doesn't fit in with

your image and format. I think I have found the answer. It is relatively

simple, but could also be a bit obscure, so therefore be missed by the


Most commercial television stations show programmes made for and therefore

design to fit the commercial format. Story lines, plot, action, etc.

can easily be molded into the commercial format. Most sports fit this

category to. They have been very successful on commercial tv.

Commercial tv stations often have complaints when they show a

film or a serious piece of television because they can't get the mix

of programme and advertising to work.

Here lies the essence of your problem of showing adverts during

programmes. The viewers are expecting a higher quality of

broadcasting, even if many programmes have been made with the

intention of showing them on commercial tv, the quality of production

and the feel [often European] doesn't lend it's self to the

Americanisation of advertising. The insensitivity of the advert break

is an intrusion that can be tolerated when the subject matter has been

made with a commercial feel to it's production. EG sport, soapy, lifestyle. But

not when the subject matter is hard hitting drama or in depth reporting

with editorial comment.

When SBS started putting adverts in between programmes it

fitted well into that time slot, that informs and at times instructs

the viewers, about programme rating and content. The placement of

adverts during a show, does not fit into your style of programmes or your station


In conclusion you have a small audience share, they are by and large

a select demographic group interested in your programmes. [Not just

couch potatoes]. If you don't respect them they will not respect you.

With thanks


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Mick Donalds

Just heard a report on the news that McDonalds is going to update it's interiors to encourage the punters to remain longer in their "restaurants". The voice over [an American] kept saying the Mick Donalds. Does that mean we are all going to eat a Mickers instead of a Maccas?

The professor [there is always a professor] to give expert commentary, said the young adults, who are the demographic group that McDonalds wants to attract. Eat out a lot and want an eating/dining experience. Isn't that an impossibility at a McDonalds?

The McDonalds I have visited are some of the saddest eating places I have experienced.


Thursday, October 19, 2006


We all know the value of keys. We use them daily to lock our selves in and out. They keep our lives private away from the prying eyes of our neighbours. All this and more I’m sure makes a lot of sense. However if you have your keys stolen then you have a problem.

This is what happened to us yesterday. Someone came in the back of our place and stole two sets of keys. One set opened and locked our public life and private life. I.E. Home and Work. The second set were for a late model Toyota car.

Luckily for us the house and work keys are easy for us to rekey and re place. Not so the work truck and car. Could cost as much as $1000.

Modern key systems with alarms and computers to work them are very expensive to replace/repair. And so specialized that very few places know how to fix them.

I would like to say to any one who is thinking of stealing things like keys/personal stuff think about the outcomes. This is about the third time we have had things stolen and it is always during the lead up to xmas. A great Christmas present for this little duck. Thanks


Special Broadcasting Service

SBS stands for Special Broadcasting Service and it is a multicultural channel in a world of commercial tv this is a gem. Virtually ad free and full of good tv shows in their original language with sub titles. A few years back they introduced ads and they showed them in between programmes, very civilised. Earlier this year the powers at b decided to run ads during programmes. This has incensed the loyal viewers of this great tv channel.
We are like frogs we allow this sort of thing to happen and before long the water is boiling and we don't see it coming and we are all boiled frogs.
Get writing to our MPs that we don't want our SBS running adds during programmes. If the government needs more money [they seem to be awash with surpluses] tax the commercial channels to provided alternative viewing to theirs. I know that may sound daft but with out quality viewing available at least some of the time tv as a medium is not going provide an outlet for talented film and programme makers.

Not all artists and directors can afford to make main stream film, but niche viewing on tv is possible and plausible. Whereas most commercial tv is made in such a way to lend it’s self to 10 minute blocks with breaks in between. Not story lines and drama made with a beat to a different drum.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Price Rises

Grumpy old Dog

Every time a supplier of our products puts their prices up we have to go around the shop re-pricing our displays. To do this we have taken to using the computer as a label maker. It took awhile to set it up so the size of sticker we use could be made into a shop label. Size vertical and horizontal, margins top and bottom. This was all nicely set up in the old computer took awhile but it worked a treat every time. Very easy to do a minute to set up and off we went. [Truth be told I still preferred the freedom of writing the labels myself].

Now to problem of changing computers even with all the same software, you just can't seem to get everything to work as you would hope. So each time we put the page of labels in the printer and hit print, they come out with numbers and dollar signs on the eschew. Over the edge of the lines above and below the margins. Great when you thought you had a page of 65 labels nicely printed but instead you had some modern art which should be mounted and displayed as forgettable art.

The answer to problem so far has been to revert to the old computer and nurse it back into action and so far touch wood it's working. The main problem with old computer was/is it can't cope with the rigors of programmes running in the background. It runs with a fever which could cause major melt down if not watched like a day old baby.
So wish me well, there are well over 1500 items in the shop to re-price over the next weeks and months. I'm going computer blind.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

New computers

I'm setting up a new computer, what a pain in the arse this is.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Really the lack of water is what concerns all of us here in the south east of Australia. We have been told that the prolonged drought is not a normal cycle of wet and dry spells, but probably the result of climate change.

It probably means some places in the world will get more rain than usual while others will get less. We are a lesser region. What we don't have is a large natural water supply. We don't have the winter snows that you get in the USA or N.Z. we don't have massive rivers flowing down from the wet tropics like the Nile or the Amazon. We have pretty average size rivers that used to flood on a regular basis but don't any more. And probably never will again what with the way the water is sold to farmers. The amount sold is greater than the flow.

So to cut a long story short, we must start reusing water on a big scale. With no ifs or buts no options re choices of which water we recycle. We just have to get onto it and now. All the signs are there no exceptional circumstances just a known situation. That is the population is getting bigger the water usage [per head of population] is getting bigger, and the rainfall is getting smaller. A bit like 2 plus 2 = 5.
Here in Victoria we have a massive State government surplus, lets use some of it to turn around the water we send to the sea from our home usage and house run off.

I see it like the Snowy river scheme of the 1950/60s a major project that will help secure the water requirements for the next century.

Lets not forget that when they built the Thompson dam the then premier proudly announced that the construction of the Thompson meant that Melbourne wouldn't experience water shortages again. Now we have stage 1 water restrictions and we are looking at much higher water restrictions by the end of this Summer season.
We need water every day of our lives lets get the politicians to make it an election issue. Reuse, Recycle.


Friday, October 06, 2006

When Old Computers Die

Well they are not always that old. I am writing this on an IBM that is running windows 98 and office 97. It has been given a new lease of life with a lovingly administered re-format and a bit of Irish luck that managed to defy the Internet modem and get it's self on line, with Broadband no less.

The reason I'm using this oldie is that the newer 2 1/2 year old computer has gone into hyper-drive and is blowing its AC adapter and running like an Ethiopian on a marathon the only trouble is it don't like it as much as the Ethiopian does. So at the moment it is in the sick bay and very soon it will be sent to a hospice for elderly computers and only let out again if it really makes an effort to run properly.

The main problem we are all facing with these machines that rule our lives is that they become slaves to the busy internet and whiz bang soft-ware that is cluttering up the works. No matter what you do they quickly take on a life of their own and then it is terminal before you can say gigabyte.


Thursday, October 05, 2006


We all have very unreliable memories. We may think we have a good memory and on some subjects we do, but if you were ever asked to swear your life on a memory then don't.
Here are a couple of examples:

1] A psychologist interviewed a group of children who attended a school that had undergone a trauma, like a shooting where kids had died or a fire. She then went back and re-interviewed the students a year later. What she found was that the kids who hadn't been at school when the incident happened had a more vivid and detailed memory of the event than did those who were there. This is despite the fact that they couldn't have experienced the events they claimed to of seen.

2] Someone I know was a young man when his Dad died. It was a very emotional time for the family which is quite large. The death took place in a hospital bed. The memory of my friend was of holding his Dad's hand as he died. He felt the life blood leave his father's hand.

My friends younger brother who was only 12 at the time was not in the hospital at the time of his Dad's death. However he too has a memory of holding his Dad's hand and sitting at the bedside as his Dad died. These conflicting memories have created disagreements between these brothers. As if one wants to steal his brothers memory.

I don't believe this is the case. I think the younger brother has relived the death of his father so many times he has transferred bits of his brothers experience onto his memory. He has done it so convincingly that he truly believes he was there.

Try remembering what you saw, did yesterday and if someone you know was there what they think happened. You could be surprised.


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Global Warming

Now I'm starting to believe the scientists. 30 C day in early October is not heard of. 80 bush fires, a day of total fire ban, and all hell is let loose.

But wait a minute aren't we being selfish? Think of all the plants that just love the extra carbon dioxide. Are we thinking this planet should and will be as we want it so our species and others like us can survive? If anyone has any ideas on this drop a comment.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Fix it yourself

Yesterday we had a problem with the car. Crushed wing and a broken tail gate catch. All up it was looking very bleak. What with insurance premiums, excess payments and no claims penalty rates. It was going to cost at least $500.00 for the dent in the wing.

So this morning we pulled a bit of paneling off and thumped and punched the panel until it looked pretty straight. As for the tail gate catch. That had fallen off in my partners hand as she opened the boot to get the fruits of her hunting trip down at the local supermarket.

On first inspection it looked dire, a hole in the floor of the boot where the stud for the door catch had sat. a 50mm hole with jagged edges and no way to get to it from beneath. With two heads and a bit of brainstorm this morning, a metal plate sandwich was constructed and within an hour the door was closing and locking. Perrrrrrrrrrrrfect.

We are not out of pocket and all is well with the world again. So I can get back to grumbling about the things that annoy me. Like try outs for kids basket ball, or the herd mentality when it comes to sporting events. And many more.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Cars and Panels

Someone across the road from where I live reversed into the front wing of our car last night. Well I think it was last night, I hadn't looked since Saturday. Saturday was Grand final night over here in Melbourne and a fair amount of reveling was going on. I suspect a late night partier from across the road. I wasn’t home myself until after one so had no chance of hearing the crunch of steel. The better half was asleep in the bedroom and may of been stirred by a muffled party goer leaving, but couldn't be sure.

The up shot of it all, is that I find we are insured but will loose our no claims bonus and will have to pay the first $400.00 so we are stomped aren't we. The car just isn't worth spending that amount on. So I am now on a hunt for a friendly panel beater, with the necessary skills to 'punch out' a medium size dent, in the front wing.

What pisses me off is that who ever did it didn't leave a contact number. So next time you have the unfortunate fortune of hitting someone else’s car, and they are not there to tell, leave a note to let them know. It will make you all warm inside.


Friday, September 29, 2006

Set top Boxes

Well the spring school holidays are almost over. The electricity grid will get back to normal supply when all the computers are turned off, and the kiddy winks are sent back to school. Having the puppies [kids] home for this two weeks has yet again been an eye opener. The lack of outdoor activity, the sit around watching DVDs and playing computer games takes up soooooooooo much time. In true grumpy old dog style, I find myself in the role of authoritarian dad. Kicking arse and making them go around picking up their dirty bowls, glasses, plates, fruit peel, etc. etc. This is usually met with sullen silence or hysterical shouting. So if the computer can survive the next 72 hours of WOW we can get back to normal programming. Which means for 6 hours a day the family computer sits in serene silence. Bliss.

To the set top box, for those who do not know, the name 'Digital set top box' has been given to a piece of technology that can convert an analogue tv signal to digital signal. The end result being you get clearer pictures and a better reception. Here in Australia our national broadcaster is called the ABC unfortunately the signal it sends out is consistently the worst of the free to air channels. It has become so bad here in Melbourne that it looks like you are watching tv through a snow storm with a driving wind blowing across the screen. Not so if you have the set top box. Or so I am told, perfect picture and even additional programming is available. So when the kiddy winks get out of the way and I get a spare few dollars I will go and get me one.
Glad to be back Hi to everyone who dibs and dabs into this blog.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Spring Cleaning

Very busy at the moment spring cleaning and getting ready to go away.

I was cleaning a fax/phone today and remembered how my family back in the UK used to have a woman come around about once a year to clean the telephone. The rationale behind having a professional cleaning service for a big black phone is beyond me. She was very serious about her job and would set herself up with cleaning cloths and a bottle of something like methylated spirits and give the phone a 20 minute work over. She had a pretend hand piece that was of a similar weight to the real one, and she would rest this on the cradle while she cleaned the hand piece every which way. I must of watched her cause I can see her as clear today in her dark outfit, a bit like a uniform, that she wore. I think the thought was that something you spoke into at such a close range was going to spread germs.

If this was the case I think you might of cleaned it weekly or even daily. But at least we had a clean phone for a couple of days a year, even if it was black and you couldn't tell, we knew.

The most common residues found on escalator hand rails, include snot and saliva. I think there may also be a fluid you wouldn't expect to be outside your pants on there too.
So onward and upward with the spring cleaning clean away the winter residues what ever they may be.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Recycle Water

Today there is an article in The Age [News paper] about using recycled water to cool a coal fired power station and then use the clean water that was being used as drinking water for Melbourne. There appears to be two main areas of concern.

1] The farmers from the area don't want their water, currently held in a dam to go to Melbourne.

2] The power station owners say the recycled water isn't clean enough.

These two statements alone give credence to my thoughts that you don't give the public a choice when it comes to water and recycling or other ways of treatment. Every one has a issue with water and most of us are wrong most of the time.

So here is the article that outlines the proposal and opposition.


THE Bracks Government is facing a backlash from Gippsland over a $1.5 billion plan to secure Melbourne's drinking water supply for 50 years by replacing billions of litres of fresh water used by Latrobe Valley power stations with treated effluent from the city.

With Victoria in the grip of a water crisis, the Government is set to begin working out funding options for the Eastern Water Recycling proposal after a two-year feasibility study found the plan to be viable.

In what would be the biggest water recycling project in Australia, 116 billion litres of fresh water now used to cool the coal-fired Hazelwood, Yallourn and Loy Yang power stations each year would be replaced with recycled wastewater piped from outer suburban Carrum.

Fresh water from Gippsland's Blue Rock Dam would be used to secure drinking water supplies in Melbourne, Geelong and possibly Ballarat, according to Government planning documents obtained by The Age.

The project would also reduce by 85 per cent each year the controversial release of billions of litres of effluent into the ocean from the Gunnamatta outfall on the Mornington Peninsula.

With the Government having ruled out building new dams and Melbourne's population forecast to grow by 1 million by 2030, Labor MPs are anxious for a big project to provide more water security across the state. "(The Eastern Water project) is an extremely exciting project for the Government … it has enormous potential for Melbourne and the whole state if it can be done," a senior Labor MP told The Age.

"I think it will become an imperative that it will need to be done. No government can sit back and do nothing."

But an investigation by The Age has revealed that the Government faces serious political and economic challenges in bringing the project to fruition. The investigation found:

■ Strong opposition from local councils in Gippsland and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union over perceptions that the proposal amounts to a theft of the region's prime water resource to benefit Melbourne.

■ The Government is in dispute with power station owners over the quality of treated effluent. The Government has proposed to treat the water to a lower standard that what the power stations claim to require.

■ Legislation could be introduced forcing the power stations to give up their fresh water.

■ A local Labor MP, Brendan Jenkins, has criticised the Government over how Gippslanders have been consulted.

In an attempt to win support from councils in Gippsland, Water Minister John Thwaites and project director Brian Bayley have visited the Latrobe Valley in recent months. Both declined to be interviewed about the proposal, but Mr Bayley, the former chief of Melbourne Water, has previously said the project could potentially secure Melbourne's water supply for 50 years.

It appears their lobbying has been unsuccessful. Latrobe City Council Mayor Lisa Price told The Age she could not understand why Gippsland should give up one of its main economic advantages — an abundance of fresh water — for places such as Melbourne, Geelong and Ballarat to be developed further.

"We understand our responsibility to the rest of the state. We have got the gas, the power and the water. But it has got to the stage where enough is enough.

■ 192 Victorian towns have water restrictions: 84 on low level, 67 on moderate and 41 high level.

■ Melbourne: permanent restrictions from September 1.

■ Geelong: stage one.

■ Ballarat: stage two.

■ Bendigo: severe restrictions — lawn watering banned.

■ Recent $220 million Government plan to pipe irrigation water to Ballarat and Bendigo.

"We cannot go on propping up the state at our own expense," Cr Price said.

Wellington Shire Council chief executive Lyndon Webb said the Government was treating Gippsland as a "milking cow" for the rest of the state, and it had failed to consult the local community.

Victorian Nationals leader Peter Ryan, a Gippslander, said the Latrobe Valley was being viewed by the Government as a "receptacle for Melbourne's waste".

Greg Hardy, secretary of the CFMEU's mining and energy division, said the use of treated effluent could increase health risks to workers at the power stations. But of greater concern to the union was the "pillaging" of Gippsland for the benefit of Melbourne.

Before water is diverted anywhere, the Government has to get the power station owners to give up their rights to fresh water from Blue Rock Dam and accept recycled waste water.

The Age believes the companies want the Government to pay for the more expensive reverse osmosis technology to treat the waste water going to each power station. The Government has so far proposed to use reverse osmosis only at Hazelwood and the cheaper, less effective ultra-filtration technology at Yallourn and Loy Yang.

The power station owners are also disappointed with the level of consultation from the Government. "It can't work without us," a senior power company official told The Age.

Government figures have warned that legislation might be introduced to force power stations to give up their water rights.

Mr Jenkins, the Labor MP for Morwell, supports the project but agrees with the criticism of the Government over its failure to consult properly. "There's no doubt that we've got to do a better job of engaging the Gippsland community with the proposals being put forward and investigated," he said.

A spokesman for Mr Thwaites said the Government was still considering the feasibility study and would not comment on agreements with power station owners or whether the proposal would be part of Labor's election campaign.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Medibank Private

Yes on that old hairy chestnut again. Why would the government want to sell Medibank Private when 66% of the population don't want it sold. They are running enormous surpluses and only give those to the rich in the way of tax cuts. So why? Apart from the obvious answer that it is ideological in nature.
So now we hear they are going to hide the sale until after the Election. We aren't very good at understanding who actually owns these public assets. So we probably wont even notice when and if the coalition get re-elected.
We also don't seem to get the whole health provision thing either. We think if we pay to a private system it is in some way better. Choice is given as an important factor.
As a community we are paying a fortune to the health services and there is not always value for money.
The private health funds don't really help in this equation they appear to be an added layer of bureaucracy and expense.

Friday, September 08, 2006


Sometimes you have nothing to say and it is best to say nothing and that is how I felt this morning. Just your average end of the week, day. Not having to work this weekend.

Then someone told me a story, here it is.

This guy used to have a guitar shop, here in Melbourne, he had gone to the USA to buy guitars. He rattled off names of the guitars mainly electric and semi acoustic. Good guitars, classics, made by Les Paul. Well he had got his haul of guitars, about 20 of them back to his shop and had them locked away in display cabinets, with a few still out on the shop floor. He had been back only 3 days. He came into his shop to find they had all gone. Stolen all of them.

Well he was beside himself. It was his life savings gone, they were valued at $4,000.00 a pop. He didn't know what to do. In desperation he called on a freind of his mothers who read coffee dregs. I know it sounds strange but he was telling the truth. The woman looks at the coffee cup and says you have had a big loss. A very expensive loss. He nodded and waited to see if she could come up with any answers to his problem. All she said was, 'Don't worry a woman with [white hair] has all the answers to your problem, and with in three days you will know more.

He was perplexed cause he didn't know anyone with white hair. Come Monday morning he is back in his shop, he has just opened up when a young woman with blonde hair came in his shop. Immediately he knew this was the woman the coffee woman had been talking about. She was known to him, so he went straight up to her and asked her what she knew about the missing guitars. She was taken aback, and asked 'How did you know, I knew.'
He just told her that if she didn't tell him everything he would go to the police. So she told him what she knew.

It turned out that a father and son who ran a TV repair shop down the road [about 5 shops away] had come across the roofs of the adjacent shops, [it was part of a terrace] and come down through a sky light and stolen all 20 guitars. They had taken them back to their shop and hidden them under the floor and in the attic.
He took this information to the police who found it hard to understand how he came to know how they had done the robbery. [He never told them about the coffee cup reader or the 'white hair’ woman.

The down side was the guitars were held by the police as evidence for 9 months. And seeing as some of the guitars were already for customers who had left deposits on them, he had to pay back the deposits and wait for the guitars to be made available.


Wednesday, September 06, 2006


We had the driest and warmest August in living memory, maybe longer depending on the age of our oldest citizens and their ability to remember.
At last a night of rain over most of Victoria is a pleasant surprise. The Liberals are talking up another dam. We had the mother of all dams a few years back. [Melbourne will never have water restrictions again] type dam. Well that didn't last forever did it. We are addicted to water, especially in the suburbs, where large gardens and acres of kerb side lawns proliferate.

I've been thinking lately that, after years of growth on all levels, from size of our houses, cars, salaries, our kids, probably even our hose pipes. In a matter of no time we have been hit by drought, rising oil prices, and a lack of confidence of our future. Can you imagine a suburbia with no gardens, and empty roads, and people who have lost their ability to cope with adversity.

I remember being told as a kid that more than half the world carry their daily water needs from well to village. This bit of info was delivered after a childhood complaint about some modern appliance not being available for immediate use. Well we may return to those days. Already you can't build a new house or extension to an existing without providing a rain water tank. These were discouraged for many a year, by governments of both persuasions.

Rain is a welcome relief but a night of rain isn't going to get us out of the woods. We need new/old ways of recycling/reusing water.
As of September 1 we are on a higher level of water restrictions and Summer is on the way.


Friday, September 01, 2006

Bread of life

Grains just ain't grains.
Apparently if you buy so called, whole grain bread in the super-market. The chances are it has had it's fibre taken out of it and replace with some other sort of fibre. Now why they do that I do not know. But the end result is the bread is probably cheaper, can be cooked in a steam oven, lasts longer on the super market shelf, and you can use white flour which is easier to get hold of than a better quality stone ground wholemeal flour.

Two places you go to, to get parts of your life fixed that you have little or no control over the service and the costs. Are the Dentist and the Mechanic for the car. I suppose you could add other examples to the list. But those two come to mind. I have been ripped off by dentists, so many times almost as many as the mechanics, who come first.

If there is no live music to listen to on a Saturday night, you best make your own. Get to it.


Thursday, August 31, 2006


Every day I shave and now my son does too. I saw that he uses the shaving foam at a rate disproportionate to the number of shaves he has. Now that may sound petty, but it did remind me of my father and many other men over the years who have shaved every day.

Dad could make a stick of shaving soap last a year or more, he could work a ‘lather up’ with hard London water, using a shaving brush and his hand. He used the palm of his hand like a cup, to hold some water and soap, and then brush the two together building a lather which he would then apply to his face. He would also strop his safety razor, [double sided blade that fits into a shaver] by stropping his blade he could make it last twice as long.

Of course there were the Cut throat razors as we knew them, the type Sweeney Todd was supposed to of used on his victims. I knew an old barber [dead now bless him] who would use a ‘cut throat’ to clean up the back of your hair cut. He could also do a good job on the facial shave too.
So there you go son plenty of history to the old shave technique. I suppose it wont be until you have to buy the shaving foam and blades yourself, that you start to economise on the Soap.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Telstra Solutions

Telstra is the name we have for our national telephone provider. It used to be called Telecom and probably had other names prior to that. In Australia we have a unique situation when it comes to things like telephone lines. We are so large and sparsely populated that the government has to subsidise the provision of essential services to the bush, [outback]. The city folk who make up the biggest section of our population, have by and large not worried about helping three cousins in the bush, we all understand the need for telephones, especially in remote areas.

A few years back, the government sold off just under half of Telstra, now it wants to sell the rest. This time round despite assurances re the governments safety net on prices and obligations imposed on the Telco the people are not so happy to see it remaining half get sold. So the government has had to hive off about a third of the remaining stock into a ‘super fund’ as a sort of creche for unwanted stock.

In amongst all this we have a problem, and that is we need fast internet connections to compete and be compatible with the rest of the developed world. Instead we have an old copper wire phone system that would need a few billion dollars to up grade it to fibre optic style cable. I’ve come up with a relatively simple way of achieving this. But for some unknown reason the government nor the commentators have mentioned it.

The solution is to split Telstra into two companies. One would provide retail phone/internet/mobile, etc retail sales. Just like the companies it is already competing with, but also providing cabling to. The second Telstra company would be a cable company providing [yes you guessed it] cables.

I think both could be profitable. The government could use the sale of the phone company side to help finance the cable company. The super fund, that was set up to provide retirement funds for public servants could also chip in with long term bond type loans to get the whole thing happening.

In conclusion we would no longer have the conflict we have had in the past, where the same company has had to compete and provide in the same market and also have quite strict regulations over pricing and supply. Telstra phone could truly compete with the other phone companies, and Telstra cable could make a handsome profit in providing the infrastructure. I would personally want the cable company to keep that side of the business in public ownership.


Monday, August 28, 2006

Niagara Café in Gundagi

I think this is the name of the café that we have visited on our way north. It is run by a family, I believe they are Greek. The location is the main street of Gundagi famous for the dog on the tucker box story. There is a monument to him not far from the township, from memory you can have a picnic there, appropriate really.

The first time we went there it was by chance [as with so many finds in life, a chance encounter and you can be hooked for life.] A car load of kids, a start of a holiday, lets give the kids something historical to see. What better than iconic Gundagi and seeing we were on the road there, the song came next, ‘On the road to Gundagi’ had to be sung as we drove the last few kilometres off the main road. Having got there it was a very ordinary little town. Main street with old shops and pubs, a playing field and picnic area down towards a river from memory. Having taken in the surrounds with a sweep of the main streets in the car, we decided first things first, fill our stomachs, that was the purpose of the visit.

I think we had a choice of a couple of eateries and a hotel or two. When I looked through the windows of the Niagara it looked like something out of the 1950s or 60s , with bench seats and fixed tables. Pictures on the wall of politicians was a bit different and mainly Laborites too. From memory outside was cold and inside was warm and welcoming. Milk bar counter and the front of shop and tables on the other side. The back was shielded with some panelling and fly trap type plastic strip doorway to a kitchen. Menus on each of the tables showed basic fare, including baked beans on toast and of course hot chips. A range of toasted sandwiches were chosen along with drinks and chippys, and while I waited I watched the family busy themselves around the shop and kitchen preparing meals and serving customers. A little disorganised to the untrained eye, but in a matter of no time the food was on our table and being devoured. The daughter who served us was beautiful in that dark Greek way. I think my eyes followed her around the room for the rest of my meal. She had a look of must get out of here one day soon. I imagined her wondering about the lives of her customers and their trips back to the city.

I think there was a picture of Bob Hawke or Paul Keating on the wall possibly saying “Hi” to the owner. Maybe it was both Bob and Paul in their buddy period.

Every time we go anywhere near Gundagi we call in on the Niagara Café. I hope it is still going and the beautiful Daughter I wonder if she ever caught a bus out of there and found what her heart is looking for.


Spring has sprung

The weekend went by with a blur of basket balls and some good music down at the local. Fire and Theft are really hitting their straps now.

Ev and I saw some amazing coins in the Ian Potter museum up at Melbourne Uni. Quite unexpected having spent half an hour looking at out of focus photo prints we found these amazing little coins that date back over 2000 years. They looked new straight from the mint.

Well to the Spring, for the first time in a long time the morning walk with dog started in daylight and there was a mildness in the air that makes the nose tell the brain that spring is in the air. The elm trees are pushing out their new leaves that look like clusters of green flowers. The air is thick with smells of blossom.
Tomorrow it will probably rain and go all south wind cold again. But for today Spring has Sprung here in Melbourne.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Grumpy old Dog: A first Time for Everything

Grumpy old Dog: A first Time for Everything

Poff thanks for your comment. I appologise if I didn't get the facts right re the reasons for the no vote. I was quoting a scientist I heard on the ABC. I still believe that we need to recycle our run off water and waste water. Your rates shouldn't affected by this the state and federal governments should subsidise these sort of projects.

A first Time for Everything

For the first time in my life, I agree with John Howard on something. He is very easy to disagree with let me tell you.
John says we should recycle water. That is to drink. And don't give the voters a referendum on the matter, just do it.
Recently up in Queensland they had a referendum on reusing their household water. They came back with a 60-40% against, a strong no campaign won out. A scientist at the time said the recycled water would be cleaner than the current damn water they are using.

It ain't rocket science, London has been doing it for years and so has Singapore. So yes John on such a dry continent as Australia we need to recycle water, or we wont have enough to go around in the future.

Our damns are down to 50% capacity and the farmers are using excess to the river flows to irrigate their crops. And to top it off, we have an El Nino coming, and we all know what that means. Don't we????

So yes for the first time ever I am in agreement with our Prime Minister. Let democracy go to pot on this one, and just get on with collecting and cleaning our waste water, and city run offs.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

John's Motorbike race

I mentioned in an earlier blog a elderly engineer [now dead] who I got to know briefly before he died. He had stories of his life that went back to the beginning of the 20th century. One of his story was about his time in the middle east during the first world war.

As a young British soldier he was sent to the middle east. For a bit of fun the troops would play with their motor bikes. One thing was racing them as fast as they could over the sandy roads on the outskirts of town. One day John needed some extra ummph to win a race he knew he couldn't win using just the standard fuel. So using his knowledge of chemicals he made some acetylene which I think burns with a smokey yellow flame. But if you mix it with oxygen it can burn a hole in metal. This is the oxy-acetylene torch.
John somehow managed to get his acetylene mixed in with his regular fuel. I think he did it while riding the bike and leaning over the air intake and either tipping or infusing using a cloth. The result of which was to give the bike an almighty boost. Not for long but enough to accelerate away from the competition just long enough to win his race.

I think they also used it to frighten the beejezus out of the pillion passengers when they hit the gas and took off, sometimes leaving their back seat rider on their arse.

He told these stories with a dead straight face, only an occasional twinkle in the eye. But he would manage to pop in the name of Lawrence of Arabia as a fellow traveller and risk taker.

I think it made me realise just how lucky they all were to get out of there in one piece.


Sunday, August 20, 2006

Winter Sand

Nothing better on a beautiful winters day
to be on an empty beach with views as far as
you can see.
Dogs allowed.
Woof. Posted by Picasa