25 March, 2009

Deregulation to the Rescue!

Despite the world economic crisis confirming the massive dangers of rampant deregulation, there are still those who argue that it’s too much regulation that caused the disaster, not too little.

They are right, of course. It’s time everyone had the opportunity to benefit from deregulation.

In that spirit, I suggest we deregulate the road laws.
If someone has worked hard enough to afford a car that will do 200kph, and has the skills to control it, why shouldn’t he be allowed to perform at the peak of his potential? If it turns out that he cannot control such a powerful car, he will be made aware of that fact soon enough and natural attrition will take care of the rest. Why should the best and bravest drivers be dragged down to the level of the mediocre masses?

Let the market decide what a safe blood alcohol level is.

Rip out all traffic lights. First in, best dressed. He who hesitates is lost. You snooze, you lose. etc.

“What about pedestrians?” you may ask. Won’t they be in greater danger?
Well, at first they will. But as we all know, the greater the risk, the greater the return. Pedestrians will become fitter and more alert as increased competition leads to a better deal for everyone. As with drivers, the lower achieving pedestrians will fail and cease to be a drag on the market.

You know it makes sense.

24 March, 2009

The Rules: Answering Machines

If you don't want to leave a message when you get someone's answering machine or voice-mail, that's fine - but hang up BEFORE the beep. You know how these things work, you know what's going to happen. You don't have to wait.
(Psst: It saves you money too!)

21 March, 2009

Saturday Night Rocktails

Sorry there were no Rocktails last week. I was out getting rained on.


Pour 1½ measures of Jim Beam over ice and top up with Coca Cola.

Now I know it sounds like something that's been done a thousand times before, but really this is very new and innovative.... honest!
aka, The Strokes, The Vines, The Darkness, The Wolfmother, etc.........

19 March, 2009

The Rules: Journalism


I am sick of hearing so-called interviewers, mainly in the American media, saying to their guests, "Talk about this thing."

It's bad enough that so much alleged news is little more than uncritical repetition of party or department talking points, but can't you even make it seem like you're questioning the guest? Couldn't you at least say "Can you explain to us....?" instead of just saying, "Talk about [insert daily talking point here]"?

Even the most simpering puff-piece on Entertainment Tonight will at least say, "Tell us about your character," instead of just saying, "Talk about that thing you came here to talk about for a moment. Fill some air time for us."

How can anyone be biased when they're this lazy?

17 March, 2009

Bring on the Santelli revolution

So much has been written and said about Rick Santelli’s not-so-impromptu rant on CNBC a few weeks ago that to say any more seems like piling on. It has been debunked, exposed as planned, and White House spokesman Robert Gibbs quite inadvertently revealed Santelli to be a crybaby too. Santelli claimed that Gibbs’ comment, “I'm not entirely sure where Mr. Santelli lives,” was a veiled threat against his family. Rick, if you’re going to call for a new revolution, you’re going to have to learn that if someone wanted to threaten your family, he would say, “We know where you live.” Of course, the mistake here is Gibbs’. When someone is calling for insurrection, the government ought to know where he lives. But the administration is right not to make Santelli any more important than he is.

But the reason I am bringing this up now is that for all the back and forth over Santelli’s “Chicago tea party,” speech railing against “losers” who can’t pay their mortgages, I have yet to see anyone just call Santelli’s bluff. There he was rallying the troops on the trading floor but when the most mild-mannered of press secretaries wondered about what kind of place he lived in, he cried foul. What’s more, I haven’t seen similar cries for revolution over the news that AIG is using some of its bailout money to pay executive bonuses. History has shown that this is how revolutions really starts, not by upping taxes on futures traders.

But if Santelli sees things differently, if he thinks his people are the real victims and they’re not going to take it any more, then I say Go for it! It will be great! Just think about it: a bunch of pale, pudgy share traders versus thousands of angry working class people who are about to lose their homes. Is that a fight you really want to pick Rick? If so, then bring it on! I’ll sell tickets.

Here was I thinking I was late with this comment. It turns out I couldn't have timed it better, since a few hours later, Santelli went on tv and rationalised the AIG bonuses.

In fairness to Santelli, he was making the point that the bonuses are a drop in the bucket compared to all the good money being thrown after bad at AIG. But it's still rather telling that he whips up an angry mob at the thought of having to pay losers' mortgages but not at having to pay other losers' bonuses.

Or maybe he'd just learnt from his mistake before. Place your bets.

08 March, 2009

An Open Letter to Sam Neill

Dear Sam,

I'm pleased to see them repeating your series of short natural history films on how red meat contributed to human development.

However, I still have some questions.

Could you please explain how eating meat that has been grown, slaughtered, butchered, packaged and sometimes even cooked in advance stimulates our physical and mental development in the same way as it did for our ancient ancestors who had to hunt and kill their own food?

Anyone who follows natural selection knows that those who weren't fast enough to catch their prey, or strong enough to kill it, or smart enough to find easier ways of catching it and killing it would die out, therefore raising the average of the pack. Does eating farmed meat purchased from the supermarket or pie shop raise the average in the same way?

Finally, while I don't dispute the nutritional value of red meat as you put it, those animals have to be fed too, and it turns out that the grain we feed them has a higher nutritional yield than the meat we get out of it. Were we “meant” to do this? Is this the behaviour we should expect from “the most highly developed species on the planet,”?


07 March, 2009

Saturday Night Rocktails


Create a sweet but solid foundation of raspberry sorbet.
Top with Moet.
If you can't get Moet, try Riccadonna
If you can't get Riccadonna, try Great Western
If that doesn't work out, try fruity lexia
If that still doesn't work, pour in a bit of whatever's around. Surely something will work.

The Sex Pistols

Half fill a glass with lager, then spit in it.
Top it up with tap water, then laugh as people talk about how important it is.

I am not an addict

Reading back over the previous post here, I am somewhat uncomfortably reminded of an episode of The Goon Show.

In the episode, Tales of Men’s Shirts, they very quickly describe the beginning of World War II,


Bang? War! I must write my memoirs! (sound of typing) The day war broke, I said to Allenbrooke, “You fool....”

While I stand by what I said about the virtues of ’blogs and Twitter when the unexpected happens, suddenly the idea of checking on one’s loved-ones first, then immediately Twittering about the event, and then ’blogging about Twittering about it sounds embarrassingly close to that scene from the Goons.

I don’t have a problem though. I could give up any time I want.

06 March, 2009

A tweeting earth tremor

A bit over half an hour ago, we felt an earth tremor here. Nothing serious, I read one suggestion that it was a 4.2 magnitude but I have no idea if that’s correct or where that number came from. I know I wouldn't want to feel anything any stronger, and yes, Californians are welcome to call me a wimp.

After ascertaining that it was not a gust of wind or some possums going for a run across the roof, we checked out who else has felt it. First we called a friend up the road, and then another friend across town. Wondering how much further away it was felt, and if it was worse in other places, led me to Twitter.

The microblogging site was derided earlier this week when US congressmen were revealed to have twittered through Obama’s address and while it is this year’s most popular time-waster among geeks and fashion victims, it's times like this that the idea really comes into its own.

A quick search for "earth tremor" brought up hundreds of hits revealing that it was felt all over Melbourne. (As well as a hundred "did the earth move for you?" jokes) It also brought up the unsubstantiated claim that it measured 4.2 and was centred around Korumburra. A search for Korumburra done after I began this piece, brought up a link to a site that does know what it’s talking about.
(Which brings up the side issue of why the US Geological survey service has this information out before the Australian equivalent.)

I mentioned in my opening post that my personal Twitter account is just for family and close friends and I keep it just for occasions such as these. I've since relaxed my stance on Twitter and set up a separate account for the ’blog. While it can sometimes match Facebook for useless bullshit, I think Twitter does have a useful place on the ’net and it's worth opening an account if only for occurrances such as these.
And don’t worry, everyone is fine, just a little rattled. Literally.

04 March, 2009

World Party

I promised you music and so far, haven't delivered much. So here's a review of World Party's second album, Goodbye Jumbo. I've always shied away from reviewing World Party simply because I love them far to much to have anything but the utmost praise for them. Which isn't to say I'm completely non-objective when it comes to artists I adore, but I still felt a little too close when it comes to World Party. As wordy as I am, I find it very hard to adequately describe the brilliance of Karl Wallinger's music. I would say he is simply incapable of making a bad record, but that isn't completely true. But the only exception to that rule is a bonus download called "Silly song," so you know what to expect, and it does exactly what it says. So it's rather hard to write about World Party without the gushing that you've just been subjected to.
But when I got a request from CD Universe to write a review of Goodbye Jumbo (I know these are automatically generated things - I am under no illusions that CD Universe are hot for my bod), I started to get some ideas for what I could say without coming across as the hopeless fanboy that I clearly am.

When first released in 1990, World Party's second album sounded like an instant classic and years since have proved it to be. Five years before Britpop made it fashionable again, Karl Wallinger made an album of beautifully crafted songs that lovingly quote his 60s influences but never descend into pastiche. Using the recording studio as his main instrument, he seemlessly arranges sounds that recall the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Prince but without ever trying to call attention to that fact. Instead, the music is instantly familiar and brand new at the same time. Goodbye Jumbo, and its follow-up Bang! should have made World Party as big as Oasis. But since Karl was always more interested in crafting the next record than punching photographers outside the Met Bar, it never quite happened that way. But now that their back-catalogue is being reissued and the new album Dumbing Up is out this week, we have a chance to rectify that injustice.

Orginally published at CD Universe.

01 March, 2009

Saturday Night Rocktails

The Flaming Lips

Pour measures of Brandy, Drambuie, Blue Curacao and Red Bull into separate glasses, then try to drink all four simultaneously.

The Robbie Williams

Serve diet lemonade in a martini glass.
Tell people it's a martini.

And, as a bonus, I've found the original article, so I'll post some of those too. It's from NME's Christmas 1991 issue, so they're even more dated than mine. And, as with all great British journalism, it begins with a lame pun. These are, of course, copyright, New Musical Express.