Balmain Boys Do Cry

Friday, November 26, 2004

4WDers. Yes, they're wankers, but...

Darp has a crack today at some particularly stupid guys in a 4WD. I've actually been meaning to write a post on this topic for a couple of weeks, ever since the Good Weekend article a couple of weeks ago. There is certainly enough circumstantial evidence to suggest all 4WD owners are complete fuckwits, but are they just easy targets? Well, I guess wilderbeast are easy targets sometimes too, because they're so dumb, and they all follow one another. A strong parallel I think you'll agree. But anyway, here is my response to Darps post:

Now I know it’s fun to make sweeping generalizations, especially when they’re based in fact (yes, most urban 4wd driver ARE wankers) but lets consider a few points here:

The BWM, assuming it was the 6 cyl petrol model, uses less fuel and puts out way less pollutants (thanks to more modern emission control technology) than your falcon, and probably about the same, if not slightly better, than even a new falcon. It’s about 15% heavier.

When it comes to crash avoidance, rather than impact effect, the BMW is certainly going to have the edge over a lot of cars with things like electronic brake-force distribution, as well as the fact that it’s less likely to slide when changing direction quickly. In short, the BWM will stop, or swerve successfully, whereas the falcon (or Daewoo for that matter) will just keep going, especially cheaper models without ABS.

So perhaps the death on wheels comment isn’t exactly accurate. All cars can be death on wheels when driven by dickheads.

Yes, these guys certainly do sound like A-grade tossers, a mentality not uncommon amongst 4wd owners, but I think we need to consider there may be some differences between the likes of a CRV / RAV4 / X-trail and a Landcruiser. The former set are smaller overall, have smaller engines and weigh less than an aussie-6 wagon, which they probably replace. And they’re hardly expensive in terms of new cars, so the elitist tag is possibly not appropriate. I say possibly, because I’m sure that there is a percentage of those drivers who really wanted a Disco, but couldn’t afford it.

That said, using a 2.something tonne Pawanko as a taxi is just stupid. Big-arse, heavy duty 4wds ideally should be confined to the bush, and an upgraded license should be needed to drive them, regardless of where. A Prof of mine at Uni, on an exchange program from France, bought himself a Disco, went bush, and promptly rolled it. I don’t think he’d ever been behind the wheel a 4wd before, and certainly had no off-road experience. Great guy, but obviously overestimated his own driving ability, as we almost all do.

The question is, once you get rid of 4wds, who next? Personally I find people who drive WRXs, Skyline GTRs, falcon XR6s, Commodore SS’s, Porsches, and a list of other sports cars to be aggressive, shit drivers with no concern for other road users. Maybe they are just less visible so don’t attract the kind of manic hatred 4wds do. Perhaps it’s like motorcyclists, especially sports bike riders – yes, quite a few do ride like they have no interest in living, but that doesn’t mean that all of us do.

I hope the message that everyone gets is that we can all be arsehole drivers if we want to be – as a rider of motorbikes and pushies you certainly see a hell of a lot of idiots. They don’t need a 4WD to take you out, just to be talking on the phone (even with an earpiece / hands-free kit), changing CDs, doing their make-up, shaving, belting the kids, speeding because you are running late, or just generally being distracted. Most drivers drive with minimal care and respect to anyone other than themselves – a little concentration and courtesy makes everyone safer.

While I’m ranting on about cars, why are german cars allowed to be imported to Australia without even basic safety equipment such as indicators and mirrors? Or is there another explanation for why these things are never used?

Driven to distraction

For once, the Daily Terror actually carries a front-page story I’m inclined to agree with. Should there be some restrictions on P plate drivers and the cars they can drive? Damn straight. I don’t just say that because I’m an old fart either – I’m young enough to remember what a dickhead of a driver I was when I was 17.There were certainly a couple of mishaps I was able to scrape out of more by good luck than my driving skills, like the time I misjudged the speed going into a corner, lost traction at the back of the car and slid across two lanes of traffic on the opposite side on a fairly busy road, before landing in a servo. Amazingly, I missed every other car on the road, and was merely badly shaken up, but it could have been a lot worse.

Some of the suggestions being bandied around for restrictions don’t make a lot of sense, like the ban on driving between 10pm and 6am. This impinges too far on young peoples’ ability to work, socialize, or attend uni part time, and while public transport still sucks majorly in most areas, this just isn’t an option. The aim is to save lives, not punish younger drivers. The restriction on the number of passengers is interesting, and I’m not sure about this one. Certainly having your mates in the car as a teenage male tends to make you drive in a more risky manor, but the trade-off to this would be potentially more people having to drive, and perhaps less likelihood of a single designated driver being responsible for transport home, leading to more drink-driving.

The final point being suggested is a ban on high-powered vehicles, presumably based on specific models, and /or some sort of power-to-weight ratio. This restriction is placed on P-platers for motorcycles, so why not cars? Yes, as a bike rider it kinda sucked at the time having to tool around on a 250, after paying way too much for it due to the high demand. Seeing the larger, more powerful bikes I could have bought for less money was infuriating, but I guess in the end the law was there to protect me from myself. Once I got my big bike,

I quickly found out why I had to spend time on the 250 getting the skills needed to keep myself alive. So I have no problem whatsoever with this idea being carried across to cars. Lets face it, after only a year or two of driving, almost no-one has the skills to handle something like a V8, a boosted WRX, or tragically a Nissan Skyline.

Some arguments that such a proposal is unfair on younger drivers whose families only have high-powered cars. Well, most of those cars are not cheap, and if a decision has to be made to keep your kids safe, not to mention the lives of other road users, then you should make it. It probably wouldn’t hurt too many macho dads (or my mum in her old falcon 500 last of the v8 interceptor days) out there to slow down a bit, too. Others argue that modern cars have newer features and technologies that make them safer. Granted, but it is still possible to get a safe car without the high performance. Take a Mercedes A160 for example. Massive safety, couldn’t pull the skin off cold custard. I’m not saying everyone has to go to that level, but you get the idea.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Finally, a good use of her talents

Britney dyes her hair dark, protests Ukraine election results

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Brett Lee's son to run in Melbourne Cup

Who knew that there was a melbourne cup for greyhounds as well? I hope the jockeys are really small down there.

While Tony Lockett was building a reputation as Australian football's greatest goalkicker, his other passion was always greyhound racing.

And tomorrow night, his outstanding sprinter Hallucinate - successful in 23 of 38 starts - will contest the richest greyhound race in Australia - the Melbourne Cup.

Lockett bought and sold Hallucinate's sire, Brett Lee.

Plugger does love his dogs - I used to see him often in Centennial park of a morning when he was still playing and training, and I'd be out running my dog. Every other morning he'd puff as he went past - "I wish I had a dollar for every time that dog's been around this park".

Something tells me he probably has at least that.

Tip Top work, Mad Mandy

I mentioned in an earlier article about how a french mate was unable to get his permenant residency here in Australia, despite having built a business, settled into the community, employing people etc, and how he is now moving to Canada.

Well, he's sold his business faster than expected, which is great for him. The people that bought the business seem nice, and I hope they make a go of it, but the bread won't be the same. The lid is now being shut fast on the bucket containing the sourdough starter culture that has been in his family for generations. Lucky bloody Canadians - not only do they get the good ski resorts, but now the good bread too.

Amanda Vantwentystone, I'm holding YOU personally responsible

Porn site sues Google

For what? Not enough porn on the internet? No, it's actually for allowing people to look at, well, porn.

LOS ANGELES (AP)—A Web site that sells photos of naked women is suing Google Inc., alleging that the online search engine leader is destroying its business by distributing links and passwords that provide free glimpses of the nude models. Beverly Hills-based Perfect 10 Inc. is seeking unspecified damages from Mountain View-based Google for alleged copyright infringement.

Google displays the images from rogue Web sites operated in foreign countries, according to Perfect 10's lawsuit. The search engine also provides links to password hacking sites that provide ways to gain illegal access to Perfect 10's Web site, the suit alleges.

Apart from being stupid, it does beg the question, can Google, or any other search engine, actually be held responsible for what other people put on their web sites? Could it be taken further, where search engines are held responsible for the views, opinions or language on the sites they scrape? Let's hope this case gets thrown out, and damages awarded against "Perfect 10". Couldn't happen to a nicer company.

Monday, November 22, 2004

and in "right to arm bears" news...

A dispute among deer hunters over a tree stand in northwestern Wisconsin erupted Sunday in a shooting that left five people dead and three injured, officials said.

The alleged gunman, a man from the Twin Cities area, was arrested Sunday afternoon at the line between Rusk and Sawyer counties, according to Sawyer County sheriff's officials.

The violence began shortly after a hunting party saw a hunter occupying their tree stand, Sawyer County Chief Deputy Tim Zeigle told KSTP-TV of St. Paul, Minn. A confrontation and shooting followed.

One of the shooting victims radioed back to the deer shack for help, he said. When more hunters came to the scene, they also were shot, Zeigle said.

Yet another great reason why guns and (stupid) people don't mix. It cecrtainly dents the arguement that guns are only for hunting. They're for hunting and shooting at people who go near your tree. I'm not going to condemn all gun use, but I have to say I think hunting for sport is a pretty ordinary passtime. Sure, if roos are eating your crops out, you may have to cull a few, but the deer in Wisconsin aren't pests to that degree. - the main danger they pose is to cars hitting them.

Colour and movement

There's just no way that any world leader looks good, or lets face it, even vaguely respectable in the sartorial horror that is the annual APEC shirt dag-off. Luckily for us, very few australian PMs have ever been trendsetters in the fashion stakes. Even the sartorial Paul Keating was subjected to the fashion faux-pas that saw recycled tablecloths being reappropriated into shirts for APEC 94 in Indonesia

Paul Keating vs tablecloth

Little Johny has pretty much no style whatsoever, so is in fact the perfect foil for the diverse range of disasters that constitute APEC wear down through the years

Given that it's just a few short years till we have the great honour of hosting APEC in 2007, I think we need to start putting together some suggestions as to appropriate Australian Bad Shirts. After all, it's a standing joke amongst member countries, and delegates actually feel insulted these days if they have to wear subdued or moderate fashions, like these from Brunei

I mean, come on, they're not even trying.

So it's time we scoured the back catalogs of Mambo

and perhaps put in a bid on some of Big Kevs outfits now he's no longer running his company. He's got the time and the skills to start churning out classics like this:

It's never to early to be thinking CHOGM 07. Submit your designs c/- Parliament House, Canberra

Friday, November 19, 2004

Wedding Props

No, I haven’t come over all ghetto (ala Marcia Hines) on your asses. I’m talking actual wedding props. Having decided to go with the DIY wedding (scaled back from a moment of insanity that saw us temporarily book an entire city block and a circus) one of the challenges is how do you turn a slightly daggy venue in a killer location into an approximate replica of a stylish city bar? My first thought when this request came up was to hire a velvet rope and a gorilla, and wait for overdressed pretentious people on drugs to turn up and act like wankers. Hey, it seems to work quite well for transforming previously shitty locations in Sydney into allegedly groovy bars. Of course we had to put this idea aside when we realized that the possibility of finding a reasonable number of overdressed people on the central coast was approximately zero.

Back to plan B, which involves importing our own friends, family, booze, and props. I knew people went to a lot of trouble with wedding decorations, but I kind of always assumed that you just told the venue what you wanted. Or something like that. DIYing is a little different.

Tracking down 10 bar tables, bar stools, low couches, ottomans funky lamps, etc to hire isn’t that easy. Function hire places don’t do it, especially outside of Sydney. They’re more of the “did you want round tables or rectangular tables” types of outfits. Wedding hire places generally have ugly chairs covered with hideous pillowslips topped off with bows that look like they were swiped of Little Bow Peep’s frock, and often can’t understand why you don’t want everything in white. Furniture hire places aren’t mad on hiring stuff for only a weekend, especially with the thought of intoxicated wedding guests spilling red wine all over them.

So after weeks of stress, despair, and tears (and I’m just talking about me here) it was fantastic to find the lovely folk at Sydney Prop Specialists who not only have the coolest stuff, but gave us a great deal too. Now I just have to figure out how I can work the life-sized rhinoceros, Dr Who red UK phone box, and the pair of 4 meter high Nubian slaves into the reception.

Deep sea fishing

A former Navy deep-sea diver charged with stalking rock star Sheryl Crow had developed "a dangerous obsession" for the singer, prosecutors told the US trial jury today

Poor bastard probably thought he'd discovered some new species of giant squid

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Safe drinking rooms

A proposal to introduce safe drinking rooms to get alcoholics off the street deserved consideration, NSW Premier Bob Carr said today.

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore has reportedly thrown her support behind the concept, which is used in England.

She told a council meeting earlier this week she hoped the council's social plan would refer to so-called wet centres.

Mr Carr said it was a sincere proposal, although he did not know whether it was practical.

"I'm not sure it would work," he told reporters.

"It deserves to be looked at. How you make the separation between people who are homeless because of an alcohol dependency and people who are sometimes over-enthusiastic drinkers I don't know.

"I'd need to be persuaded of it."

I thought that's what we called pubs? What happened to RSA? Did we just give up on that as an idea that didn't really work? And wouldn't a safer environment for alcoholics be a dry room?

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Parenting - Not so hard after all

Ok, so I've lined myself up for a tirade of abuse on this one. On the weekend Mrs-stilt-to-be and I did a house-swap with friends, and got to stay in their amazing house overlooking the ocean on the northern beaches, while they had a night out in the city. Ohh, and as part of the deal, we got their two kids, aged 4 and 2 for the 24 hours.

It didn't look so promising at the start, with 2 yr old master H only uttering one word for the first hour - "mummy". So our conversations went something like this -

H, do you want a drink?
H, do you want to read you book with me?
H, do you want a snack?
H, why don't you tell me what you really want?
"mummy". Accommpanied by crying.

Eventually he realised that mummy wasn't going to magically reappear, and when his older sister arrived home from playing at t friends' house, decided that, yes, he would like some attention now. After a bit of reading and playing, I decided it was time to tire the kids out a bit, so suggested walking the dogs. It was only meant to be a short walk before bath time, but my unfamiliarity with the area, despite growing up up that way, soon saw us on what was turning into a never-ending coastal / cliff walk. After almost an hour of this, H had had quite enough, and demanded to be carried. Fair enough - I would have to if I think I could have gotten away with it.

After a bath with minimal splashing incidents, the normally fussy kids hooked into their dinners, eating almost all of it, and then after a bit of a video, went to bed with only a minimal amount of complaininig. H only got out of bed once - apparently a miracle as his mum often has to lock the door after the third or fourth escape attempt each night.

We'd noticed a similar phenomoenon when MSTBs' 3 yr old nephew came to stay - a long walk with the dog around Balmain for an hour or so, and dinner/bath/bedtime seems to go a lot smoother. So there you have it - my totally uneducated and un-scientific theory for child control - death marches.

Overall, the kids were angels. Except when their parents returned home the next day. Cue fighting, screaming, crying, fits, you name it. Which I had no idea of how to deal with, apart from withdrawing gracefully. MSTB changed the nappies - something I'm still not down with. She asks me how I can pick up dog turds every day, and still find nappies gross. Well, for a staret, the dog is outside, not in my bedroom, and I don't have to wipe it's arse. Maybe I'm not quite ready for parenthood just yet....

If only I could teach the dog to do that

Busy beavers found a use for thousands of dollars stolen from a Greensburg casino and thrown into a creek, authorities said Sunday night.

Beavers building a dam on the creek apparently tore open one of three money bags and wove many of the bills into the sticks and brush of their dam, said Maj. Michael Martin of the East Feliciana Parish Sheriff's Office.

Deputies also recovered two other money bags, one of which had floated against the dam, Martin said.

No charges have been filed against the beavers, though their home was ransacked by the search.

Glad to see teh beavers aren't up on money laundering charges, or receiving stolen goods, or even profitiing from crime. And I hope my dog can be trained to retrieve bags of money now without charges, instead of just retrieving bags of rubbish.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Rafter tells Scud - "Pull your finger out"

doesn't say of whom.

Yeah, I know, but it had to be done, didn't it. It's friday.

Spot the difference

NSW Transport Minister Michael Costa

image from todays SMH

I'm thinking of renaming Sydney's collapsing rail network the Alan Parsons Project....

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Immigration - No Bakers Delight

I don't think it's the worlds biggest secret that the best bread in the world is baked by the French. Yes, I know other countries make great breads, and that I’m making sweeping generalisations here, but I think I’m pretty close to the mark. So what? Is this bread appreciation day? Well, sort of.

My favourite bread comes from a small bakery close by; fantastic sourdoughs that are impossibly crunchy outside, and deliciously soft inside, specialty regional breads with champagne, organic loaves and more. Fresh that day, there’s nothing like them. And thanks to the idiocy of our immigration department, soon there won’t be anything like them.

Frenchy, my baker mate, has been living here in Australia for over three years, and loves the place. He still can’t work out why we won’t buy bread everyday, and why we commit crimes such as freezing bread, but he’s happy that he can bring the tastes of his homeland and childhood to people. He’s sunk money into building his business, employs several staff, and supplies local cafes and restaurants. His youngest kid has never really known another country.

For almost all of the last three years, he’s been trying to secure permanent residency here in Australia, but has failed. With no tertiary qualifications (he learnt the trade from his family) his point score suffered, and the Department of Immigration has decided that we don’t need any more bakers. Of course not – there’s a Bakers Delight in every suburb, and Tip Top on the shelves at the supermarket – why would we want anything different? The fact that he has built a business, employs staff, has other local businesses relying on him, and has woven himself into the fabric of the local community seems to count for nothing.

I talked to him about trying to appeal the decision, but the thought of more paperwork and hassle and probably getting knocked back again, not to mention the time away from his business made him reluctant. Six weeks ago he decided to give up and apply to immigrate to Canada. Yesterday he got his confirmation – he’ll leave early next year. The thing that makes it eve more depressing is that there’s probably dozens more cases like this. We’re idiots.

Lest we forget

Thanks, great grandad.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

In world news - the bleeding obvious

Realising that she was never going to be able to catch her sister in the skankiness / most partners / most widely viewed home videos stakes, Nicky Hilton has decided to have a crack at the "i've been married more times that you" trophy, divorcing after a bit less than 4 months. Who said it wouldn't last?

In local news - massive stupidity!

When a colleague in Melbourne sent through this screen grab* a week ago – he thought it was hilarious what was considered “news” in Sydney. Without wishing to denigrate both the media and the law, it’s more trivial, and also far more serious than it appears.

Bob, a local dog, has been charged with being a dangerous dog after chasing a cat across Birchgrove Park. The owner of the cat claims that Bob also attacked her, a claim yet to be proven. I’ve met Bob a few times when walking my dog around Balmain, and he seemed, like most dogs, to be fairly relaxed, well socialized, and not at all aggressive. Plays well with other dogs and people.

The alleged incident took place in an area of the park, one of only three or four in Balmain, designated as an off-leash exercise area. There are not too many places in the area where dogs can go for a bit of a run, so they tend to be quite convivial places, where owners stand around and catch up while dogs do what they do – run around like crazy and sniff each others butts. The vast majority of owners I’ve met are responsible people, who try and control their dogs within reason. I say within reason here because lets face facts – dogs chase cats. This is hardly something new - dogs have been bred for thousands of years to chase things. And when dogs start chasing something, be it a cat, a rabbit, a possum, or even a rat, even the best-trained dog will often fail to respond to their owners’ calls to come back.

So seriously folks, why the f*ck is my local council spending my rates money to take Bob, or more specifically his owners, to court? Beats the shit out of me, too. Dogs chase cats – get over it. The cat was unharmed, as they almost always are – in fact there’s a cranky old moggy in my neighbourhood that sits on its front fence, waiting for dogs to go by, so it can have a swipe at them. That’s one tough cat. No one is dragging its owners into court.

It’s a big city. We all live on top of one another. Especially if you choose to live in Balmain, regardless of how big you build your fences to keep the world out. How about we all jujst chill out for a while, and think about others for lets say, two seconds. If Bob is declared a dangerous dog, this will have serious implications for both him and his owners. No more running off the leash, even in designated areas. Wearing a muzzle everywhere he goes. And one more strike (or vacuous complain – you won’t be the judge) and its probably off to the big kennel in the sky. All for just doing what comes naturally. The case goes to court this Friday, unless Leichhardt council withdraws the motion earlier.

Save the court expenses. Save common sense. Save Bob.

* for some reason I can’t seem to upload images through the work firewall. It was a shot of Friday 5/11 with the headline “Dog charged with chasing Cat”

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The Ponds Institue

In a breathtaking leap of logic, Gerard Henderson pokes his head out of the "Sydney Institute" (you know the one, just down the street from the Ponds Institute) and suggests that because voters for Howard here and Bush in the US were in the (slim) majority, therefore they were actually correct, and that they shouldn't be called ignorant, or greedy, or any other hurtful names.

Yet it is unreasonable for those who oppose the Bush-Blair-Howard position to dismiss those who disagree with them as idiots or greedy or whatever.

Even if some of them are. The whole emphasis around "family" values, the acceptance of being lied to, of submitting to fear; of course that makes those views correct. That people in inner-city Australia worried about terrorists, and the fact that voters expressed concerns that "labor will put up interest rates" doesn't mean these people are greedy or ignorant. Except maybe it does, to some extent. Yobbo has an excellent post today on just how Bush voters see the world and the issues surrounding the campaign, and it's not pretty. Often for unexpected reasons - go read it.

Monday, November 08, 2004

sport sport sport sport reality sport

What can you determine about a nation from what it watches on the idiot-box? Hopefully not that much after this list was published in the SMH today:

Compiled by David Dale for The Sydney Morning Herald, based on OzTAM's audience estimates for the mainland capitals. Series figures are for the most watched episode of the year.

1. Rugby World Cup final 2003 (7) 4.01 million

2. Australian Idol final 2003 (10) 3.30 m

3. The Block auction 2003 (9) 3.11 m

4. September 11 reportage, September 12, 2001 (9, 7, ABC) 3.10 m

5. Wimbledon day 14 2001 (9) 3.04 m

6. AFL grand final 2003 (10) 2.96 m

7. Big Brother winner announced 2004 (10) 2.86m

8. AFL Grand Final 2004 (9) 2.80 m

9. Big Brother finale 2001 (10) 2.78 m

10. The National IQ Test 2002 (9) 2.78 m

11. World Cup Soccer final 2002 (9) 2.70 m

12. AFL grand final 2002 (10) 2.62 m

13. AFL grand final 2001 (7) 2.60 m

14. Friends finale 2001 (9) 2.54 m

15. World Swimming Championships day 8 2001 (9) 2.51 m

16. Melbourne Cup race 2002 (7) 2.50 m

17. Rugby World Cup Aus v. Argentina 2003 (7) 2.49 m

18. Rugby World Cup opening ceremony 2003 (7) 2.49 m

19.Melbourne Cup Race 2004 (7) 2.47m

20. Cricket World Cup final Aus v India 2003 (9) 2.46 m

21. Rugby World Cup semi final Aus v NZ 2003 (7) 2.43 m

22. Logie Awards 2001 (9) 2.41 m

23. Friends opening 2002 (9) 2.41 m

24. Ten news Sunday 2002 (10) 2.40 m

25. Rugby League grand final 2003 (9) 2.35 m

26. 60 Minutes 2001 (9) 2.34 m

27. Backyard Blitz 2001 (9) 2.32 m

28. Big Brother final eviction 2002 (10) 2.30 m

29 Logie Awards 2004 (9) 2.29 m

30. Big Brother final eviction 2003 (10) 2.27 m

31. The Block II auction 2004 (9) 2.26 m

32. Survivor II: The Australian Outback final 2001 (9) 2.25 m

I'm glad The Block and Australian Idol had more impact on the country than say, September 11. I know for one that they totally changed my world. At least it makes us consistent with the US and the emphasis on "values" during the election. Why worry when you can renovate? Or even better, spectate while others renovate? Or feel a little bit insecure about your IQ? And try to calm those fears by discovereing your IQ is greater than Eddie Macguire's? Remember - " more people get their news and pre-digested ideas from Channel 9 than any other source". Scary, innit?

turning point?

From Associated Press:
U.S. jets have been pounding the rebel bastion for days, launching its heaviest air strikes in six months on Saturday including five 500-pound bombs dropped on insurgent targets to soften up militants.

Is it just me, or is a 250kg bomb not really the sort of thing that first springs to mind when you hear the phrase “soften up”? Did it accidentally get stacked alongside the Cuddly™ at the Baghdad Woolies? If your real intention is to bomb people to a pulp, why not just say so?

Sgt. Maj. Carlton W. Kent, the top enlisted Marine in Iraq, told troops the coming battle of Fallujah would be "no different" than the historic fights at Inchon in Korea, the flag-raising victory at Iwo Jima, or the bloody assault to dislodge North Vietnamese from the ancient citadel of Hue they seized in the 1968 Tet Offensive.
"You're all in the process of making history," Kent told a crowd of some 2,500 Marines. "This is another Hue city in the making. I have no doubt, if we do get the word, that each and every one of you is going to do what you have always done kick some butt."

Kent was later reminded by his superiors of the grammatical error in ending a sentence with “butt”.

On a more serious note, wasn’t it the Tet offensive that was billed as the “turning point of the Vietnam War”? And the building-to-building battle for Hue that Sgt. Maj. Kent refers to dragged on for a month, costing hundreds of US soliers their lives. Yes, after a few weeks the Americans did manage to drive the North Vietnamese / Viet Cong back, yes the communists lost thousands of men. But it showed how tenuous the US position really was, and for the first time brought home in graphic detail the mess that they were in – from then on public opinion began to turn against the war. Are they sure that they really want to replicate that this week in Fallujah?

AP also went on to point out that the old, sick, very young, and others unable to travel were probably still trapped in the city. Poor buggers.

Friday, November 05, 2004

just because all the cool kids are doing it....

without going into too much detail, this junior johnny (caution - site badly coded and broken in firefox) tried to defraud voters, and told The Age about it. Ms Fits, Darp, and a few others had a go at her. She got all upset and ran away. And now her mates have removed the comment section from their blogs. Her mates lept to her defence, saying

"Miranda has had her blog taken offline because of your immature harassment and personal attacks"

As Television's Kynan Barker so accurately retorted 'Or is it simply, as the French would say, "if you can't stand the heat"?'

I'm just hoping that since she was daft enough to use her real name and photo all over the web, someone has the time to give her this treatment - 20 reasons why you shouldn't post your picture on the internet


I stepped in dog poo this morning on the way to the bus stop. I'm sure in some cultures this is considered good luck, but it just annoyed the hell out of me. I mean, really people, is it that bloody hard to pick up your dogs' crap after they take a dump on the footpath? For those of you not familiar with Balmain, it's a very built up area - lots of people, and even more dogs, in a small space. And also a lot of young kids - even more reason for owners to clean up after their dogs - kids, like dogs, will eat anything! Seriously, it's not that hard to carry a plastic bag or two around with you, especially since Leichhardt council puts bag dispensers all over the place.

So, on the bus I got thinking - how do you try and get people to be a little bit more responsible, and a little bit more considerate of others? Well, for a start, I would have thought that if you let your dog crap everywhere, odds are eventually YOU are going to step in it, which is always disgusting. But this doesn't seem to be enough for many people. Obviously the fear of being busted and slapped with a $50 fine doesn't strike fear into the hearts of the locals, many of whom view $50 notes as cheap lunch coupons. So what to do? You can't really sealastic up the dogs arse - after all it's not really the poor mutts' fault their owners are fucktards. Perhaps make offenders go to the toilet in public without any toilet paper for a month? Humiliating, yes, but it certainly won't help keep the streets any cleaner.

What sort of penalty can society apply for anti-social, selfish behaviour that will be reasonably balanced across all? Fines clearly aren't the answer - too harsh on those struggling, while trivial to the wealthy. Then I started thinking what privilege does society bestow upon people that could be withdrawn for infringements, that would make people think twice? Perhaps the revoking of the Drivers licence for a month would be suitable - enough to make people think twice. Even if you can afford to catch taxis, the hassle involved would make you reconsider leaving that turd on the footpath.

Friday's Weakly Award

This weeks inaugural Weakley* award for shoddy hyperbolic journalism goes out to Darren Goodsir at the Sydney Morning Herald, for his brilliant "expose" on Chubbs' run-in with the ACCC in the Federal Court over charges it took on security patrol work it had reason to know it couldn't perform. Yes, Chubb were guilty - they admitted as such - and probably deserved the dressing down they got, along with whatever fines the court decides to impose. So, if it's all true, why has Goodsir picked up the Weakley? For his little claim in the opening paragraph that up to 11,000 jobs were at risk. Turns out this is the entire staff of Chubb Australasia - not just the security division, which employees less than 20% of the company's total employees in Australia. If Chubb do lose their security licence in Australia, it is unlikely to impact on the companies other divisions (such as Fire, Cash etc), let alone their New Zealand operations.

Don't get me wrong here - I'm in no way defending the actions of Chubb or its franchisees, but please Darren, how about putting a little bit of effort into fact-checking your stories. I'm sure it sounded like a good headline at the time, but you're making the Herald look sloppy.

*it's the stilt's highly valued award for lazy journalism. Know a candidate? Send them in!

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Second best

Following Ms Cynic’s great post on why she was such a bitchin’ Maid of Honour (MOH) I promised to respond with why being Best Man generally sucked.

Best Man is an odd sort of tradition, really. The Best Man originated from the days when a groom would kidnap his bride. Back in the days, her father may not have been too happy about this as she was his property and he had expected a nice dowry for her, so the Best Man was there to help in a fight should the need arise - he was there just in case some of her family decided to try and take her back (that is why the best man stands on the right of the groom, leaving his sword hand free). Obviously to do this the groom would choose his closest friend, someone he trusted to protect him at all costs and get him and his bride to safety or better still the church. Really, if medieval man had any brains, he would have hired a decent mercenary for the job.

Now, none of my mates that have got married actually kidnapped their bride. In some cases, I’m sure the respective family was happy to be rid of her. But that’s another story. I’ve never seriously tried fencing, but I would imagine I’m pretty useless with a saber / rapier / pointy stick, so the actual use of a best man is a little beyond me. Except for the fact that you WILL be possibly placed in positions of danger, and be expected to fight your way out. It’s just that no one has the decency to give you a sword to do it with anymore.

Your roll as best man will start some time before the big day – the general rule of thumb is the bigger the wedding, the earlier you will get pulled in. Hurrah – you are now part of the bridal party. A large part of your responsibilities at this stage will consist of keeping the groom alternatively sober (rehearsals, shopping, etc) and drunk (the rest of the time, due to stress). Expect to hear details about aspects of your mates beloved that you identified early on in their relationship, but were too much of a friend to point out. Your response in these moments needs to tread the fine line between supporting your mate, without insulting his bride-to-be. And remember that he will have changed his opinion of her tomorrow, so it’s best to not really have one at all.

Other duties include getting suited up for the big day. Of course, you will have no say in what you will be wearing, you just get told. Brides here fall into two camps: the first will simply tell you what you will be wearing, and where to go to pick it up. This is actually the preferred option. The second type of bride will just come along when you go looking for outfits. Not to tell you what to wear, mind you. No, that would be interfering, and that’s not her style. She’s just there to tell you which outfits NOT to pick.

Now saddled with a rental suit and a potentially drunk friend, it’s time to meet the Maid of Honour you will be partnering. The third most stressed member of the wedding party (the bride and her mum are running neck and neck – awaiting photo before odds are paid), the MOH is rarely even single, let alone hot. Actually, if you are only meeting the MOH at this point in the proceedings, the above won’t matter all that much, as it is a blessing in disguise. The alternate scenario is that, as a single friend of the groom, the bride-to-be has been trying to set you up with HER single friends for years, meaning that either :
a) you’ve already slept with the MOH, and she now hates you, or
b) you wouldn’t sleep with the MOH, and she now hates you.

It’s going to be a long day.

When the big day arrives, your duties ramp up, mainly getting the groom to the church on time / sober, and remembering to bring the rings. Failure in either of these tasks will result in certain death. You then have to stand through the entire ceremony (pray it’s not catholic), all the while getting death stares from the MOH (see above).

After the “I do’s” it’s more standing around while papers are signed, then some glad handling of mystery relos, before being loaded into a car and driven off crammed next to the now hot or cold and angry MOH. Everyone else is off to the pub, but no, for you it’s more standing around in a few locations while the requisite 5000 photos are taken.

Finally you make it to the reception, but it’s still not plain sailing. Oh no. First, you will still be running around, herding people to the photographer, and keeping warring sides of the respective families apart. Always extra fun if either of the bride or groom have divorced parents who don’t get along… And you won’t be drinking much just yet, because you’ve got the all-important speech coming up. It has to be funny, memorable and moving, a fitting homage to the couple and the day, not too long (boring) and not too short (trite). AND you have to deliver it with style, despite nerves, stress and those few drinks you’ve managed to sneak in.

After all this, it actually gets better. That’s because the night is now basically over, apart from the waltz with the now (thankfully) drunk MOH, who will take this final opportunity to give you her honest, forthright opinion of your shortcomings. Oh, and if you have brought a partner to the wedding, you then need to make sure that you grab them immediately, and dance with them longer than the first dance, so everyone knows you belong to them, even though all you want to do is sit down and drink.

Once the happy couple ride off into the distance, all you have to do now is make it home, and get the rental suit back on time. Reject any offers from others (especially the brides mother) to do this – you WILL get trapped into reliving the wedding in detail.

So tell me, is this the BEST we can do?

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Kiddie Ho-wear part II

I said in my last post that I was going to discuss the idea of stupidly young models / pimping kiddies. OK, so that was days ago, but I’ve finally gotten around to putting this post together. A mate of mine dropped around the other night, really excited. He’s a printer, and they had just run their first job using some revolutionary new technique for printing that gives deeper, richer, more life-like colours. He had the brochure in hand, and yes, it looked amazing – definitely a step up on anything I’d seen before. I’m sure the super glossy stock helped as well, but the richness and texture was incredible.

So what, you’re asking, does this have to do with the previous post?

Well, the brochure was for a swimwear company, and after admiring the print quality, he told me that the girl featured throughout the brochure, including the front cover, was 15. 15. I mean, are we that desperate to push the ideals of youth onto a jaded market that swimwear models are now not even of age? And where is the line between young models and child exploitation? Now I’m not suggesting that this is in anyway pornographic, but surely you have to wonder about the blurring of the line between legitimate and not, and our society’s view on such matters.

As I said in my earlier brief post, I’m guessing that this is going to make me sound like a bit of an old wowser, which is far from the truth. I’m just not sure this is the right direction for us to be taking as a society. Just a thought.

The race that stops a nation

how often did you have to hear that tired old cliche today? It should be extended to: The race that stops a nation from doing anything sensible this afternoon. I love Cup day as much as the next bloke, but lets make it a national holiday. Apparently some 61% of people support this position, and it would certainly get away from the current ridiculous scenario of the majority of workplaces downing tools at lunchtime and not really picking them up again.

Meanwhile - I want to know what the good folk at The Age knew - they had the winner posted a minute before the race started. I must remember to check the thursday afternoon for the Powerball numbers....