Saturday, December 22, 2007

Season’s Greetings

click to enlarge  —  image source

This blog wishes to extend to all readers our best wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

And what, you may ask, is with the postal theme...? Well, it serves as a general reminder of absent friends, and nicely leads into the following image that I kind of liked...

click to enlarge  — image source

(L to R) Major Michael Webster, Warrant Officer Class 2 Kevin Brown, Corporal Barry Barber, and Warrant Officer Class 2 Andrew Major read Christmas cards sent to them by children from the Good Shepherd Lutheran School of Palmerston, Northern Territory.

I love the faces of these soldiers, in repose against a setting of conflict, for whom the ‘magic’ of Christmas yet prevails.

Whatever the merits or otherwise regarding Australia’s involvement in Iraq, we may take pride in our people in the Australian Defence Forces, who are among the most professional, disciplined and enlightened in the world today.

Our thoughts are with our ADF men and women this Festive Season, with our wishes for a successful mission and safe return home.


Friday, December 21, 2007

Howard-sceptics vindicated

Well sort of... now that at least one conservative writer is echoing some of what I and others have been saying for quite some time:

The main claim made for the [Howard] government is that it managed the economy well for 11 years, but the notion on which this is based ... is largely false. ...

The main influences on the economy are various national and international trends, plus the hard work and ingenuity of the Australian people.

The Howard government deserves little credit for these. It demonstrated the competence required in the circumstances that arose, and for that we’re grateful, but a Labor government would probably have performed similarly.

Other important influences on the economy are the relevant legal and institutional arrangements, and here the Howard government was the fortunate inheritor of Hawke’s and Paul Keating’s reforms.

Michael Duffy also notes that “the intellectual right did not criticise [Howard] sufficiently.”

Amen!! But Duffy then enumerates only a very sparing list of criticisms — for instance, the Children Overboard affair is an issue conspicuously missing from Mr Duffy’s discussion.

I nevertheless tend to agree with Mr Duffy’s assertion that “the abuse, and even hatred, heaped on the [former] prime minister by the left suggested he was far more extreme than was the case.”

Indeed, Mr Howard was not unremittingly bad. It’s just that when he was good, he was not really that good. And occasionally when he was bad, he was horrid.

(Incidentally, as Mr Duffy seems to be having difficulty with thinking of the Howard Government in past tense, I must refer him to Tim Dunlop’s News Flash.)

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All bananas are equal

The tendency of the Australian agricultural sector to favour a socialist command economy continues apace, with banana growers repudiating the choices consumers have been making.

A Mareeba banana grower Dennis Rigato says ideal weather conditions and bumper crops after Cyclone Larry have boosted supplies.

But apparently many consumers this year are “rejecting” larger bananas in favour of smaller ones, “forcing” growers to dump as much as half their crop.

Yes, once again the folk from the ‘smoke’ are oppressing those salt-of-the-earth farming folk — this time by force of their aggregate preference for smaller bananas.

At the very least, this will require a (taxpayer-funded) media blitz to influence consumers to be less discerning in their tastes. If they’re happy with another year of stale reality TV fare, then how’s a bigger banana going to hurt them?

As a matter of fact, it may have begun already, with the above ABC news item headlined:

‘Fussy customers’ force farmers to throw away fruit

Nowhere in the text is any farmer quoted as saying consumers are being too fussy, but the government-funded ABC would seem only too willing to oblige with agitprop.

Mareeba, by the way, is in the federal seat of Kennedy, which was retained at the recent election by ‘independent’ agrarian socialist Bob Katter.

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Christmas Goat Friday

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Brewed nieflets

Anyone who wasn’t aware that China was ranked 72nd in the world on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2007 would nevertheless probably take the following as indicative of certain problems facing China today:

A Chinese Government website encouraging citizens to report corruption has crashed on its first day under the weight of too many hits.

And the latest round in an argument that has raged for years, and will continue until the day we are either greeted as long-lost celestial brethren, or enslaved or zapped out of existence by the ETs:

Two senior scientists have resigned from an elite international study group in protest over a lack of public discussion about the possible consequences of attracting the attention of aliens by sending signals deep into space.

Almost forgot to mention that Tim Dunlop recently published an urgent News Flash over at his gig, as apparently he’d detected some residual confusion over events that occurred almost a month ago.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Brief newslets

Turkish warplanes targeting Kurdish rebels bombed villages deep in northern Iraq today, killing one woman and forcing hundreds of people to flee their homes.

But it’s okay, because it was done “with the implicit approval of US occupying forces in Iraq.”

Hang on — no it’s not okay, because the US didn’t approve it at all. But it would’ve been okay if they had...

And singer and songsmith Dan Fogelberg has died of prostate cancer, aged 56.

Meanwhile another singer and songsmith almost as well-known as Dan, Chris de Burgh, will become the first Western artist to play a gig in Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Incidentally, something about the chorus of Chris’s song, ‘Don’t Pay the Ferryman’, has always bothered me...

Don’t pay the ferryman!
Don’t even fix a price!
Don’t pay the ferryman
Until he gets you to the other side

I mean, what halfway competent ferryman would even contemplate getting you to the other side before first fixing a price that reflects market realities? And would any rational agent even want to be ferried by a person so lacking in basic commonsense?

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Park family Christmas.

The Park family descend upon the Lane Cove River National Park in pursuit of life, liberty ....start again. In pursuit of beer, wine, fine food, Cricket and Christmas...


The brotherhood...

Caitlin "Bradman"...not:

And no cricket game is complete without the obligatory streaker...

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Brief newslets

Arthur C. Clarke, marking his “90th orbit of the sun”, predicts...

“commercial space travel will one day be commonplace.”

Again?!! Clarke predicted back in the 1960s scheduled Pan Am flights plying the void between Earth and Moon by the year 2000. That turned out well...

And gee, this dad is strict!

After catching his 15-year-old smoking pot, a father sold the hard-to-get Guitar Hero III video game he bought his son for $US90 for Christmas at an online auction, fetching $US9,000. ...

The naughty son, however, will not go without a present on Christmas.

“I am still considering getting him a game for his Nintendo. Maybe something like Barbie as the Island Princess or Dancing with the Stars ... I know he will just love them,” the father said, tongue-in-cheek.

Finally, hope these wannabes aren’t sitting around waiting for their shoes to ring with a job offer.

The success of the James Bond movies has given the British secret intelligence service a recruitment headache — too many cranks want to join MI6.