Saturday, December 11, 2004

melbourne the 'sporting capital of australia' my arse

Perth was yesterday awarded the fourth Australian franchise in rugby union's premier provincial competition, the Super 12 (soon to be Super 14), for 2006. The WA capital had to beat out Melbourne to get the nod. Melbourne might have the population and the economy, but at least Perth people generally know the difference between a ruck and a maul. Wallaby tests in Melbourne are less of a sporting spectacle and more of a social occasion, a place where people go to drink chardonnay and be noticed. The sandgropers love their rugby and the huge population of expat Kiwis and Sarth Efricans also helps. But why stop at four teams? Why not have a Super 24 with 6 Australian, 6 NZ and 6 RSA teams with the other 6 drawn from Argentina, Japan and North America.
Anyway, at least this decision might silence all those fools who claim Melbourne is the 'sporting capital of Australia'.

12 South American nations yesterday signed the Cuzco Declaration, establishing a "South American Community of Nations" which will eventually become a supranational organisation similar to the European Union. The SACN will unite 365 million people and a 2 trillion dollar economy. If only the leaders of every country on earth would sign a similar global community.

Today is the 73rd anniversary of the passing of the Statute of Westminster, which gave Britain's dominions (Australia, Aotearoa, Canada, Sarth Efrica, Eire and Newfoundland) full legislative independence. There needs to be some sort of public celebration (perhaps even a public holiday) for this, as it is really the closest thing Australia has to an Independence Day.

On the subject of public holidays, its about we got rid of the religious-based holidays on our calendar (Xmas, Easter sunday, Good friday etc.) It's an insult to atheists like me who have given this country everything and only about 1 in 10 Aussies attend church regularly anyway. How about holidays commemorating the Eureka Stockade, the Kokoda Trail and perhaps even the Fourth of July (to celebrate the birth of the world's first democratic state).

Thursday, December 09, 2004

excuses, cricket, drunkenness, koertzen, esperanto

Sorry about the lack of blogging activity of late - was drinking with some mates all tuesday night and recovering from a hangover all wednesday (why isn't it spelt wendsday?) - so here goes.

Australia won the second match of the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy one-day cricket series against New Zealand at the SCG by 17 runs. South African umpire Rudi Koertzen has been noticeably trigger-happy with the LBW decisions this series - even to the point where he has given out deliveries that Hawkeye hasn't. He has also experimented with not calling no-balls when the ball is clearly a full toss above waist height. What's up with Rudi the red-faced umpire? Also during the cricket it occurred to me that Aussie spinner Brad Hogg looks kinda like Lloyd Braun from Seinfeld (serenity now!) I must start a regular "sporting lookalikes" feature on this blog.

The week's other great sporting highlight was tuesday night during our drinking session when myself and my three fellow drinkers proceeded to the local park to play the first ever proper game of a crazy new sport, swarajball. Basically you aim to throw a tennis ball into the opponent's goal (five metres long, twenty metres away and demarcated by two deodorant cans). Snowy (who owns this blog) and I lost 18-12 to the team of Jason and Trent (of Weirdabest fame), mainly due to Jason being the least drunk among us and Snowy's complete inability to defend (although he did score a good goal at the end). But at least Rudi Koertzen was not umpiring.

Was reading some stuff on Wikipedia about the Esperanto language. For those that don't know, Esperanto was created by a Polish doctor, L. L. Zamenhof, in 1887 with the aim of being an international language. Zamenhof merged all the major European languages of the time into one new tongue and hoped to bring about world peace. Over a century later and only 2 million people worldwide speak it and world peace has not been achieved. One of its major faults is that it purports to be a "world" language yet all its vocabulary is drawn from European languages - what about Arabic, Hindi, Bengali, Japanese, Chinese, Bahasa Indonesia etc.? A global language featuring all the world's major languages would probably catch on more than Esperanto did. Hopefully some cunning linguist will one day invent one.

Rip-off of the day: the company which owns M&Ms and Maltesers (it's late and I can't be stuffed looking up who it is) are selling "Traveller Packs" of those two chocolates for $4.25. They are a small container which contain about the same amount of chocolate that is in the $2.80 bags of the same chocolate. As former US Presidential candidate Bob Dole (also called Bob Newstart Allowance) once said: where's the outrage?

Monday, December 06, 2004

jesus sucks

"A lot of Christians wear crosses around their necks - you think when Jesus comes back, he ever wants to see a fucking cross?" - Bill Hicks.

Well, Christmas is nearly upon us and the Lord Mayor of Sydney, leftist independent Clover Moore, has been criticised for having only one taxpayer-funded Christmas tree and taking a 'generic approach' to the season, using the phrase "Season's Greetings" so as not to offend other religious groups. Of course, I hate political correctness as much as the next person but as an atheist I am equally opposed to the use of taxpayer's money to celebrate the birth of Jesus, a man who I detest with as much fervour with which I hate the likes of Bush, Howard, Telstra, Microsoft and Arsenal FC.

Why hate Jesus you ask? According to a summary of negative biblical quotations on the Freedom From Religion Foundation site, Jesus did the following:

*said that he came "not to send peace but a sword",
*encouraged the burning of non-Christians (which led to the Spanish Inquisition),
*attacked merchants with a whip (kinky?),
*drowned innocent animals,
*said that "if any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple",
*refused to give one of his disciples time off to attend a family funeral,
*advocated the keeping of slaves from "neighbouring nations" (wonder if all the born-agains in the US keep Canadians or Mexicans),
*encouraged the beating of slaves,
*told people they could not enter heaven without castrating themselves (which some of his followers at the time alledgedly did),
*told people to cut off their hand if they did anything "wrong" with it (he was speaking in a sexual context),
*warned people against planning for the future, saving money, working and having sexual urges,
*advocated stealing from the poor and giving to the rich, giving twice the judgement if you lose a lawsuit and giving people anything they want if they ask for it,
*cursed a fig tree for falling out of season (crazy bastard),
*said that "he that is not with me is against me" (reminds me of a Bush quote).

So anyway, have a think about that this festive season.

futsal, terrorism, ukraine, palestine, columbus and lots of bold text for some reason

What's happening in the world today?

Spain beat Italy 2-1 in the final of the FIFA Futsal World Cup. Both teams defended heavily and it was the sort of match that would have been 0-0 if played outdoors.

Basque nationalist terrorist group ETA detonated five bombs at a petrol station near Madrid, but didn't kill anyone because they rang a newspaper and police cordoned off the area. Idiots.

There will be a new presidential election in the Ukraine before December 26, after that country's Supreme Court annulled the results of the rigged November 21 election. Good luck to the reformist, pro-Western candidate Viktor Yuschenko and I hope severe defeat comes to the elitist, pro-Russian candidate Viktor Yanukovych (correct spelling?).

Palestinian terrorist Marwan Barghouti has entered the 2005 presidential election in that country. This is the problem with Palestine - every candidate who has a chance of winning the presidency is either a wannabe dictator or a terrorist. How the fuck are they supposed to "embrace democracy" (Bush's words I think) in these circumstances. If I was Bush or Ariel Sharon, what I would do (other than adopting a dodgy Texan or Israeli accent) is trial Palestine as the world's first country run directly by its citizens via internet voting. Of course, this would entail giving every Palestinian a computer and broadband access (the slowness of dial-up will just make terrorist more angry lol), but watch the rate of suicide bomb attacks decrease as young Muslim men discover the joys of a good search on Google, the simple pleasures of browsing Wikipedia and the fun of formulating a weird MSN name.

Yesterday in 1492, Christopher Columbus (or Cristobal Colon as they call him in the Spanish-speaking world) became the first European to set foot on Hispaniola (that island with Haiti and the Dominican Republic on it).

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Microsoft Enters Blogosphere

Looks like Microsoft are trying to enter the world of blogging with their new tool known as MSN Spaces. Their scheme is unlikely to catch on, due to severe censorship restrictions imposed by the company. Why would anyone start up a blog with Microsoft when you can have complete freedom of speech and a free blog at places like BlogSpot and TypePad? Blogging is a phenomenon created by and for the average internet user, and is now being copied by many journalists at major online newspapers and also by other influential people (eg. former Senator Meg Lees). Of course this irks the software giant, who consider it their birthright to control every single thing we do and see on the Internet.

ID Cards in Britain

The British government is currently embarking on a plan to introduce national ID cards for every person in the country. It's because of that omnipresent buzzword of the 2000s, 'national security'. This is similar to the scheme which former Australian PM Bob Hawke tried to introduce in the 1980s. The British scheme will entail citizens having to inform the government of any change of personal details at risk of a large fine, and having no right to see or correct data held about them on the centralised National Identity Register. While ostensibly hindering terrorism and organised crime, the ID cards will make identity theft easier, as thieves only need to steal one card. It is reportedly planned to amass huge amounts of data on people, including job information, religious and political affiliation and to track people in real time using mobile phone signals and CCTV. Don't believe the hype - the world today is the safest it has ever been. People like Adolf Hitler and Genghis Khan are long dead, Al-Qaeda are a bunch of amateurs and there is no justification for ID cards.

Futsal Semis - Spain and Italy advance

Watched a top futsal (indoor soccer) match on SBS last night with Spain beating Brazil in the World Cup semi-final. After a scoreless first half, the two sides produced two miraculous goals each, then a scoreless extra time with Spain winning a tense penalty shootout (as if there's ever been a relaxed penalty shootout). Italy defeated Argentina 7-4 in the other match and will face the Spaniards in the final at 11pm sunday night AEST. My prediction: Spain 4-2 Italy.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

howard, asean, crikey, telstra, clinton

Political Thought of the Day - Howard vs ASEAN Part 2

Looks like our fearless leader has come to his senses and come to the party with regards to the free trade agreement with ASEAN. But of course full free trade will only be achieved between Australia, New Zealand, the 10 Southeast Asian nations and China in ten years. Once again world leaders continue to hang on to their protectionist ideologies and fail to realise the benefits of abolishing all tariff and non-tariff barriers.

Link of the Day

Crikey is possibly Australia's best and most independent source of news on politics, sport, entertainment and business. The webmaster, Stephen Mayne, was once rendered homeless after being sued for libel by radio shock jock Steve Price. So make Crikey your first stop in the search for an independent voice.

Two Million Reasons to Hate Telstra

Departing Telstra CEO Ziggy Switkowski was yesterday given a 2 million AUD "golden handshake" as payment for his dismal stint as head of the 51% state-owned telco. Meanwhile, users of other broadband ISPs must pay a line rental fee to Telstra (for example $50 per month with IINet includes $37 to Telstra). But there may soon be an alternative - Tasmanian power company Aurora Energy are trialling broadband internet over existing electricity cables, where they do not have to pay line rental fees to everyone's favourite company and they can reach speeds of up to 30mbps.

Personally, I'm a fan of the idea once advocated by former ALP Shadow Communications Minister Lindsay Tanner, that Telstra should be privatised and broken up into separate retail and wholesale companies.

Top Sex (I mean Top Six) Bill Clinton Jokes

To celebrate the recent opening of the Bill Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas, I've recalled some of the best ever Bill Clinton jokes:

1. admission to the presidential library costs US$150, which includes a tour of a replica Oval Office, although sex with a replica intern costs an extra US$20.

2. when the new Spanish PM Zapatero pulled his country's troops out of Iraq in March 2004, it was the quickest pull-out by a world leader since Bill pulled out of Monica.

3. the doctor who operated on Clinton after he was hospitalised in 2004 was the first person to work on Clinton's organs since Monica.

4. a few works after leaving hospital, Clinton was recovering well and began to spend two hours a day at his desk...having sex.

5. in early 2004, a dog broke into the White House and sat under the desk in the Oval Office. It was the ugliest dog to occupy that position since Monica.

6. Monica Lewinsky walked into a dry cleaner's and had her dress dry cleaned. When leaving, the attendant said "come again, miss!" and Monica replied "no, it was a mayonnaise stain this time".

Sunday, November 28, 2004

mildura secession, 2012 olympic bidding

Political Thought of the Day - Mildura's Secession Plan

The Victorian government (a Labor one led by Steve Bracks, the sort of bloke I wouldn't piss on if he was on fire) is currently planning to shove a toxic waste dump near the north-western city of Mildura, which is right in the middle of a fertile food-growing region. Bracks insists the waste is not going to harm anyone, which begs the question of why he is putting it out in the country instead of near Melbourne, where most of it comes from. So the good people of Mildura have hatched a plan to leave the garden state and possibly become part of NSW or South Australia. They are currently being told that it can't happen without the Victorian government's approval, and Brackkks has made it clear he views the secession plan as a "publicity stunt". This is coming from a man who once held a press conference to show a chart demonstrating that Victoria's economy was stronger in years when Collingwood won the AFL grand final. Anyway, good luck to Mildura, but perhaps they could consider forming a new state with some of their surrounding regions, as they are going to be just as neglected under the NSW government.

Sporting Thought of the Day - Let the Bidding for the Games Begin

The IOC will announce on July 6, 2005 the host city for the 2012 Summer Olympics. The race is between five cities, who I have evaluated below. Nine originally bid, but Istanbul, Leipzig (Germany), Rio de Janeiro and Havana missed out on the final five. So, in reverse order of favouritism, let the evaluation begin:

#5 Moscow: hosted the 1980 Olympics, which were a disaster with many Western nations boycotting and local organisers resorting to various dirty tactics to help the home team. Russia's authoritarian political system and failing economy will work against Moscow, as will the fact that they have hosted it so recently before.

#4 New York: the Big Apple has surprisingly never hosted the Games before, and has a site in New Jersey lined up to build an Olympic village. Disadvantaged by the current global anti-American sentiment (not withstanding the fact that NY voted for Kerry) and the fact that another North American city (Vancouver) will be hosting the 2010 winter Games.

#3 London: has already hosted the 1908 and 1948 Games, so there is really no need to have them there again. Its bid has little government support and could be stifled by the UK's participation in the war in Iraq. The new stadium in Wembley is not coming along very quickly, depriving the ancient city of a possible selling point come voting time.

#2 Madrid: a positive bid which received high praise from the IOC's evaluation committee. Advantages will be its level of public support and the quality of its infrastructure, as well as sympathy over the March 2004 terrorist attacks. Disadvantages will be the fact that Barcelona hosted the Games in 1992 (although Atlanta hosted them 12 years after Los Angeles, and 2012 is 20 years after 1992).

#1 Paris: another place which has hosted the Games twice before (1900 and 1924). It is the bookmaker's favourite due partly to its excellent organisation of events such as the 1998 soccer World Cup and the 2003 athletics World Championships.

My opinion is that IOC members will shy away from handing to it to a past host such as Paris or London, and will attempt to open up new ground by awarding the Games to Madrid or New York. If I were a betting man, I would be putting some money on Madrid, but don't be surprised if New York comes through due to its well-regarded Olympic village plans.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Political Thought of the Day #1 - Trouble Brewing in the Ukraine

There's a good blog here which is providing a blow-by-blow account of the current situation in the Ukraine. What's happening is that the elitist, pro-Russian candidate Viktor Yanukovych rigged the election so as to defeat the reformist, pro-Western candidate Viktor Yuschenko. Yuschenko's supporters are staging an "Orange Revolution", which involves things such as a general strike and a declaration by various business groups and local governments that Yuschenko is the rightful President (if only they could have done something similar when Al Gore won the 2000 election in the States). Anyway, good luck to them - this Yanukovych sounds like a real wanker.

Political Thought of the Day #2 - John Howard's Pride 1, Australia's Economy 0

Our dickhead prime minister is at it again - this time he is refusing to sign a non-aggression treaty in the lead-up to an ASEAN summit. The treaty, which has been signed by all ASEAN members plus China, India, Japan and Pakistan, is basically a document saying that we are not going to go to war with any of the other countries signing it. Howard still stubbornly hangs on to the Bush-style notion of a "pre-emptive strike" and somehow believes that is important than taking another step on the road to joining ASEAN in the future. He makes a big deal out of "acting in the national interest", yet what could be more "in our interest" than giving Australian businesses access to a trade bloc full of 400 million consumers?

Link of the Day - The Things You Can Do With a Condom

Take a look at this chick - she's wearing a hat made of condoms which have been given to the Thai government to distribute to people for use as contraceptive devices. Fair dinkum.