Friday, 30 June 2006
One is tempted to just yell, "go home and shut the fuck up", but most of these people are already at home and the loudest noise they make is the tap-tap-tapping of their keyboards.
Clearly, the profession of psychiatry is about to go over a cliff. Freud seems to have perfected the art of milking neurotic clients by getting them to lie on a couch and talk for an hour. All a shrink has to do is listen. They are about to get murdered by blogging. Once the neurotic figure out that they can type for free, and have lots of idiots listen, why pay for a shrink? Moaning, for the first time in history, is free.
Hence I have decided that my blog should include nothing constructive or useful (bar the odd recommendation about eating places to avoid) and that the whinge volume must be turned to full throttle. To paraphrase Spinal Tap, the blog has to be turned up to 11.
So let me just comment on my fellow bloggers by saying what a useless, pullulating bunch of knob pulling maggots you all are. Go buy a TV or get a sex life. The vapid, flatulent offspring of your fingers is less useful than resealable beer bottles. The dribble leaking down the wires of the information supersludgeway is drowning the world in puking snot. You'd be better off bottling the toe jam between your toes than continuing to blog - a bottle of marinated toe jam is a more fulfilling contribution to the sum of human effort than your perceived wisdom.
Which is interesting given the focus put on health and safety in the workplace these days. I would have thought that one way to reduce the risk of having an unhealthy workforce would be to avoid engaging those that are quite simply, monstrous.
Maybe I'm just seeing things, but I just got this nagging feeling whilst wandering through an office the other day that the newbies were all spending a lot of their time at the fried chicken shop.
Perhaps remuneration these days is worked out by the pound instead of by the hour. Instead of saying, "That person costs us $45 an hour" it's "That persons annual salary is $3,000 per pound".
I wonder how much extra we are going to spend this year on super-reinforced office chairs?
Thursday, 29 June 2006
Looks like he got off. No, I don't mean he got his rocks off having a tug on a letterbox outside an apartment, but the judge let him off.
Funny that the first thought that should come to mind is that it was Dr S. We went around to his place the other day - the recycling bin was full of Moet bottles, which is as it should be. In fact the recycling bin was more than full - they were also stacked up on the back step. Good to see that he hasn't let a brush with the press stop his appreciation of good Frog plonk. Lots of good plonk.
The Raw Bar is pretty small inside - it's got seating for maybe 20 people, so there are half a dozen tables scattered around outside. We had to take an outside table, and it was a good thing the sun was shining, because if it wasn't, we would have frozen to death. The wind was whipping in straight off the surf, and it was frigid. Thankfully, some people vacated a table that was behind a wind break not long after we got there - otherwise, it would have been a very short lunch. It's too windy for them to bother with those gas powered outdoor heater things, which is a shame. It was almost like eating out in Canberra - you just have to tough it out.
To cut a long story short, we totally stuffed ourselves. I have never ordered so much Japanese food in my life. We seemed to have started at the top of the menu and worked our way down to the bottom. We rolled back to the car when the meal was over - all 10 courses of it. Should have skipped the one, small bowl of rice that we shared.
I like the Raw Bar. The service can be a bit dodgy at times (and it was on that particular day, as some dopey waiter had not shown up for work), but the food is top class. They also have a few authentic Japanese beers, include Sapporo in the big silver cans where the entire lid pulls off and you drink it like a schooner of beer. Put it this way - the Raw Bar is about the only place in the universe where I will not only eat tofu, I will order it. Personally, I think tofu is like jellied elephant cum. It is not something that normal people should eat. However, the chefs at the Raw Bar know how to turn it into really nice food. I am impressed.
I'm also pissed off that I now live a fair distance away from the place, and only get to eat there every 3 months or so. The location of the restaurant is not the problem - it is the location of my house. We have a local Japanese place that is pretty ordinary - it turns out edible takeaway that I don't mind, but I get depressed when I eat it and think of the Raw Bar.
The Raw Bar. May they continue to deep fry jellied elephant cum for years to come.
The first place that was suggested was Encasa, but I have had a few indifferent meals there, so we avoided it. The next choice was Casa Asturiana, where I have had many a good feed. I used to go there for a beer and tapas with the boys before seeing a movie at the George St cinemas. To give you an idea of how long ago that was, I remember visiting Casa Asturiana before seeing "Wayne's World". Yes, it was a long time ago.
The place must have changed hands since, as it is now completely fucked.
Back in the days of Dana Carvey and Mike Myers having long hair, Casa Asturiana had kick-arse food. The mushrooms used to be swimming in garlic. They were almost minced garlic with a few mushrooms thrown in. Now, they are just mushrooms with a tiny, wimpy hint of garlic. The Patatas Bravas (I think) used to be spuds with a nice tasty tomato type sauce with a big blob of garlic aoli on top. For some reason, the aoli is now missing. They are just spuds with sauce. boring. The prawns came out in a simmering bowl, not a sizzling bowl. The baby squid was squishy, rather than crunchy.
The service was also totally fucked. I was waving my arms around like a windmill trying to attract the attention of our waiter, who had the attention span of a 7 year old boy with A.D.D and a bottle of red cordial.
In short - never going back. I had dinner there about a year ago, and it was not the best. So that is two strikes in a row. Fuck 'em. Which is a pity, because I used to love sitting at the bar upstairs, getting served straight off the stove by the barmen and watching the monorail trains go past the window. Drinking Coronas. Well crap, those days are gone. Time to find another tapas place.
The Oak is a good pub, and it has a good pub menu. They even had a nice selection of steaks, including proper bernaise as a side option.
Just one small problem - they took my fillet steak, which was very nice steak, and then dropped it in a bucket of salt before cooking it to rare perfection. I like just a bit of salt, not a solid salt crust. The bloody thing was like something from the Dead Sea. I was half tempted to send it back, but it was one of those order-and-pay at the counter places, so it's not like there were a lot of waiters running around where I could do a "Garcon, my compliments to the chef. Please feed this thing to the dogs and do me another one".
I'll be going back again, but next time I'll have to remember to tell them that I am alergic to salt, or have high blood pressure or some other such baloney.
The meal came with the option of a $5 side salad plate, which meant they give you a little kidney shaped dish and you can go up to the salad bar and refill as often as you want. The salad, to put it mildly, was not too flash. A red bean salad with a touch of chilli, frozen in big blobs of what looked like Philadelphia Cheese. I am not sure what it was. You had to pry the beans out of a pinkish goo that was set like concrete. Had one or two beans and left the rest.
A Caesar salad that was a pretty poor imitation of a salad. Croutons that were .... ugh. Little bacon strips that probably came out of a packet. Shavings of cheap, dry parmesan. Manky lettuce. Topped off with an indifferent dressing. A good Caesar is largely the product of excellent dressing - coddled eggs, an anchovy and good olive oil. Cheap white shit out of a bottle is not the same. A Caesar dressing really should be something else. It should have punch. So should the parmesan. The Oak served up indifferent white goop.
The pasta salad is just not worth thinking about. Little undercooked bows of pasta with some sort of green sauce scattered over it. Ick.
Dessert was good - we had a sticky fig tart with butterscotch sauce. The tart was excellent. I wasn't too fond of the coconut icecream that it came with, but that's just my taste and not a fault of the quality of the icecream.
The other meals looked good. The service was good. The atmosphere was pretty good. It's just that my steak was fucked and the salad should be avoided at all costs. The bernaise that came with the steak, and the chips, were excellent. The bernaise had a good tang of lots of vinegar and plenty of tarragon. Next time, I will try to fish and chips and avoid the salad.
Tuesday, 27 June 2006
Where do I begin to describe this pox ridden pile of filth? The article was spruiked along the lines of people in poor suburbs getting old crap fruit and vegies and rich suburbs getting nice new fruit.
Like, it's called "the market". There is an old nostrum that "you get what you pay for". It turned out towards the end of the article that people in 'rich' suburbs like moi are paying 80% more for oranges and 40% more for tomatoes. Shit, I wonder if that kind of explains the difference in quality?
They then showed a range of fruitbats on the street that came out with statements like "we should all get the same quality food - we're all Australians". I'm sorry Mrs Fruitbat-on-the-street, but there is Bill of Rights that has a clause saying, "All Australians have the right to top quality apples".
For starters, there is only so much premium quality fruit to go around. People who are prepared to pay more get the best stuff, and people that are not prepared to pay much get the leftovers. It's called a "market clearing price". When I want to make tomato paste, I go to the Flemington Markets and shop around for a box of really cheap tomatoes - maybe something along the lines of $4 a box, or about 50 cents a kilo. You know that you are not gettint fabo quality tomatoes to grace a tip-top salad. Some will be squishy. Some will have yucky fungusy bits. You just chop those bits off and chuck them in the pot. They're for making sauce, for fucks sake.
People in low income suburbs are unlikely to pay $6 for an organic, super-grade quality avocado. I shit you not - when I used to shop in Crows Nest, I used to visit the organic shop there, and that is what I once paid for an avocado in the hope that I'd be getting a really nice, tasty avocado. Well, it was good, but I never went back and paid $6 again. I just can't afford to buy a few $6 avocados a week. I can afford to buy maybe 2 avocados a week at $2. If I was busted arse poor, maybe I'd only buy avocados when they were 50 cents each. Heck, if I was busted arse poor and living in a lower socio-economic area, I'd be forgoing the fruit and simply eating at McDonalds.
Anyway, fruit and vegie people are smart. They are switched on. They know what their customers want intimately, as what they can't sell after a few days goes in the bin. They have to be on their toes. A vegie guy in say Logan in Brisbane is not going to be stocking hyper-expensive fruit. He knows all his customers have big-arsed mortgages and no spare cash and are living on white bread and vegemite sandwiches. He'll stock the basics, and it will all be fair-average quality. Nothing ritzy. People don't have the money to pay big prices in those areas.
So what are those dumb fucks at TT suggesting? That we create a Socialist marketplace (there's a term that's totally fucked up) where the rich subsidise the fruit bought by the poor? Get fucked.
What the story should have said is that poor saps like me in expensive suburbs are getting ripped off by being given no choice when it comes to fruit and vegie quality. We only get flashy fruit with no blemishes etc that costs a bomb, since lots of slightly blemished or damaged stuff gets ditched to meet our supposedly fussy tastes in fruit appearance.
Let's replace the word "fruit" with "cars". The story then says, "People in poor socio-economic areas are driving crappy old cars whilst people in rich suburbs are driving Mercedes".
And your point is??? When you put it that way, Today tonight looks like a pot of Marxists wearing too much makeup.
Sunday, 25 June 2006
Gee, I'm glad to know that the thin blue line gets to squeeze the trigger once a year. Next time I see Mr Plod draw a firearm, I am hitting the dirt - even if Mr Plod has his back to me and is pointing at someone in front of him. With target practice once a year, Mr Plod is liable to hit anything, me included.
The answer is simple - get rid of the Glocks, which are semi-auto and only hold something like a measly 13 rounds, and uprate the plod to a full-auto Uzi with a 30 round mag. Given that it is doubtful that they will hit anything with 13 rounds, you might as well give them 30 to give them a better chance of nailing a bad guy.
I think I got more practice with a pistol when I was a member of the Uni Pistol Club. We shot indoors every few weeks, and had the odd outdoor excursion when we could afford the ammo. Being poor, the outdoor shoots were few and far between. You can't tell me that the NSW cops are so broke, they can't afford to let the Plod have a blast every month or so? Heck, I joined a pistol club a while back when I could afford the ammo and had a fun afternoon blatting away with a .22, a .38, a .45 and a Glock. 50 rounds for the Glock was not that expensive. I spent my money buying lots of bullets in the hope of replicating the great Mel Gibson shooting range scene in one of the Lethal Weapons where he shoots a smiley face on the target. I almost did it, but mine ended up a bit lopsided.
The best fun we had at the range was when some whacko brought along his Italian made gas operated semi-auto shotgun. It was called something like a Franci Spaz. It had a pistol grip and a detachable stock, so you could fire it like the most awesome fuck-off 12 gauge pistol in the history of the universe. We fired at wine cask bladders filled with water that were hanging on a line, and I don't recall hitting anything using the pistol grip stance. I do recall the fucking thing recoiling into my face though when I fired it the first time. The 12 gauge packs a mean punch. The only way to get it up to fire it was to essentially throw it upwards with both hands on the pistol grip and to yank the trigger when the barrel appeared to be kind of lined up with the target. The recoil would throw the barrel up almost over your head, and you'd fire again as the barrel dropped (being gas operated, it reloaded for you). If you could fire it three times like that, you were Rambo.
Bloody gun buyback scheme put paid to that sucker though.
The goons that I went shooting with also loaded their own. I seem to recall getting splattered in the face continually by hot crap shooting out of the cylinder of the guy next to me - he was using a .44 I think, and he was way over-loading the rounds. Crap flew out the side of that thing in all directions when he fired it.
Ah, the good old days.
Then again, they might not be brainless chimps - they might be going apeshit deliberately. News in from the UK is that officers of the drivers licencing authority took drugs at work, jumped off filing cabinets naked and vomited into coffee cups and then left the cups in cupboards. Maybe Telstra should start drug testing its staff - or at least ensuring that they are wearing clothes.
My whinge - last time I moved house, my download speed dropped from 512k to 256k when it was reconnected. Some primate-brain had not bothered to check the details of my service.
We just moved again. Guess what? Download speeds are in the shitter.
I don't mind if people fuck up, so long as they learn from it. Telstra however does not appear to be a "learning organisation", to use a good old fashioned management wank term. If Telstra was a person, you'd hear the sound of dueling banjos in the background. Inbred, slack jawed, knitted eyebrow fuck-knuckledom.
Either that, or they have it in for me. As Goldfinger said, "Once is co-incidence Mr Bond. Twice is enemy action".
Enemy action, hmmm? Time to strap on a koran and go and blow up the local exchange.
I can see it now. We've all been told that Telstra has moved to automated exchanges and done away with all the people that pull plugs and connect your calls.
Yeah right. The people are gone, replaced with the scrapings of Taronga Zoo. Our balance of payments is in the crapper because of the enormous trade deficit that we are running with Malaysia in "IT" goods - IT being Malay for "orangutang". The rainforests of south east asia are being stipped of primates to feed the hungry maw of Telstra's call centres.
There's no need to blow an exchange up. You just run in, throw a few bananas around and act like the Pied Piper. A few crates of bananas would quickly bring the network to its knees.
Hell, with the price of bananas though, it's probably cheaper just to blow them up.
The dirty secret about Sol Trujilo getting the top job is that he started out with Barnum and Baillie. He knows how to whip and drive the monkeys.
Several things stood out.
One - this particular brand of tomato sauce was 68% tomato puree or extract. That's about 60% more than I expected. I always thought that tomato sauce was munched up guava mixed with red paint and salt. To find that it actually had tomatoes in it - amazing. The things you learn.
Two - it is supposed to be refrigerated after opening. Well bugger me! I have opened a lot of fridges in my time (to poke around generally) and I have never, ever seen a bottle of tomato sauce in the fridge. I have seen many a bottle in the pantry, exposed to the elements and the viscitudes of the weather, but never seen it kept at a stable temp of 4 degrees. Hell, I have seen the squidgy bits that leak out of the lid being left out in the open for months and then seen someone scoop them off and eat them with no ill effects. Face it, tomato sauce is like penicillin. It is highly unlikely that even the nastiest super flesh eating bug would be able to last more than a few minutes after contact with even the minutest amount of tomato sauce.
Next time you get admitted to hospital after some suffering a horrible wound, just take a bottle with you and insist that the A&E staff stick the squirty tip into the wound and fill the wound to the top with goopy red stuff. You're sure to recover in no time at all.
Three - tomato sauce contains some sort of natural anti-oxidant that is found in tomatoes. Once again, bugger me. Not that I am surprised that tomatoes contain something vaguely healthy - I am just amazed that the manufacturer would be taken to claiming some kind of dubious health benefit from tomato sauce. Face it, as far as health benefits go, eating tomato sauce is one step up from smoking. Then again, maybe not. OK, at least it is better than smoking crack, but not a whole lot better. It's not necessarilly the sauce that is bad - it is just the food that compliments it so well. Chiko rolls. Pies. The really awful hot dogs made out of mechanically recovered lips and arseholes and woodchips that you get at the cricket. Chips. Sausage rolls.
About the only thing it doesn't go well with is tempura covered lard sticks.
Next thing you know, we'll see the following on the side of cigarette packs - "Smoke keeps away mosquitoes that carry malaria".
I sit here surrounded by Australians of Italian origin in all directions. However, not many of them are wogs. To me, a wog is someone that would otherwise be described as "meathead". A wog can therefor be someone of any culture, nationality, religion or hue. Their defining characteristic is not hair colour or nose size or hairiness - it is their tendency towards the fuckwitrocracy.
You could say that wog is shorthand for "fucking deadshit". It is a term that can be used in polite company. It can be said on radio without attracting the opprobrium of various broadcasting bodies. You could probably even use it in church without being struck by lightning, or at least being hit over the head by the handbag wielding lady of Italian extraction in the pew behind you.
A wog is someone with an overinflated sense of self importance. They are complete sleases. They are the type that use the greasiest chatup lines on chicks, and then call them dumb fucking sluts when they don't fall for the line. Wogs have very small balls, which requires them to drive flash looking cars with spoilers and yellow mags and to have go-faster stickers smeared all over them. Wogs can be heard driving towards you from several hundred yards.
Wogs greet each other in a manner that makes normal people cringe. They have haircuts from hell. They wear too much gold jewellry. They drive with the seat back inclined almost to the horizontal.
They are pushy, arrogant little fucks.
They are not gentlemen. They have no manners. They are arseholes by any other name.
That being said, wog can be used in a nice way or a nasty way. It's like saying fuck. You can say "fuck you" for instance and mean it in an agressive way or a friendly way. When I talk about the local wog shops, I am paying them a great compliment as they are the apogee of things Italian. They offer the best in wog cuisine.
To make it easier, in future I will refer to "wogs" and "fucking wogs". I will leave it to you to work out which meaning means which.
There must be 6 or 8 cafes on the strip, but only one appears to be capable of cooking up pork and cluckers, and it of course is closed on Sunday. All the other cafes serve coffee, cakes and gellato. I have no idea what the local eyeties do for breakfast - surely they can't live on short blacks and canolli's?
We had lunch in this cafe because you can't do breakfast there. It was no good. I am not going back. The thing that infuriated me about it was that it is a tiny little place, but you have to order and pay at the counter. Look at where we were sitting in relation to the counter - the lazy sods could have called out, "what do you want?" and I could have called the order back without raising my voice. There are no tables to my right - just the shop wall.
I'm all for importing Italian cuisinne and coffee, but do we have to import Italian service? It's been 15 years since I was in Italy, but I recall the service as being generally appalling. Rude, indifferent and so sexist, it made my eyes water. All the good Italian waiters migrate to London. The ones that are left are the bottom of the bucket. Some good ones seem to have made it to Australia, if our experience at the local pizza shop last week was any indication.
Tourism has wrecked the Italian service culture - especially in the big cities. The tourists won't be back next week anyway, so why give them good service?
I do recall that the Italians had the most bizarre ordering and paying methods known to man. You went to one counter, had a look and worked out what you wanted. Then you went to another counter and got a number on a ticket. Then you went to another counter and paid. Then you went back to the first counter to get your gellato. It was fucking hopeless. OK, maybe it created lots of employment, but it also created lots of frustration. It was one step up from queuing for non-existant food in Russia.
To cap it off, the Italians do not know how to queue. More on that later.
Anyway, the cafe pictured above seems to have imported Roman techniques of non-service. Enough said.
Just in case you don't believe my posts about living in Italy, check out this photo. This house is a few blocks from ours.
I love it - white picket fence and the Italian flag. I don't remember seeing too many white picket fences in Italy.
A few days go by, and my pizza making plans go out the window - mainly because we left the pizza stones behind when we moved house, and I've been unable to find any replacements at our local shops. I moved on to making a tomato and basil and bocconcini salad with mint and basil and thyme and expensive olive oil etc etc. Except that most of my basil in the garden is dead or gone to seed, and the thyme has all died off, and the tomatoes are just crap at the moment. The only thing that is doing well is the mint, and I was not in the mood for a mint salad.
Then I tried one of the lovely little balls of cheese. Bugger. It was off. It was not off enough to give me stomach cramps or the squirts or anything like that, but it was too off for salad.
Fuck, fuck, fuck. The silly sods in the shop had not topped the container up with brine, so instead of the cheese sitting in a lovely brine soup that would retard bacteria growth, it was sitting in a little puddle of brine that did nothing to stop it all from going off.
So we had tomato and mint salad. It was not bad. But it was not what I was after.
I am now going to find the Italian-English dictionary so that I can work out how to say "Please fill the tub up with brine after you have weighed it so that my fucking cheese does not go off".
Federal MP Bronwyn Bishop is campaigning for tougher penalties for acts of violence against the Australian flag.
Mrs Bishop has tabled a Private Member's Bill calling for people who wilfully destroy or mutilate the Australian flag to face up to 6 months in jail or $11,000 in fines.
She is visiting the Shoalhaven in regional New South Wales today, where local MP Joanna Gash supports the push.
Mrs Bishop says under current law, it is not an offence to burn or otherwise vandalise the Australian flag.
"People are amazed actually that there is no protection for our national symbol, so we see strange fictions being resorted to," she said.
"For instance, when the national flag which was flying on an RSL in Sydney was taken down and burned, there was no offence committed by taking the flag and burning it.
"The person was prosecuted for theft."
That was lifted from the ABC.Two things:
Have you ever watched Angela Bishop on TV and noticed that she is always filmed from front on? It's because she has a big nose and hates being filmed in a way that shows her snoz from side on.
The other is that this is a stupid bit of legislation. All we need is an understanding that the cops will not prosecute anyone that beats the crap out of someone burning the flag. I can see the free speech angle regarding burning the flag, so I'm not going to support outlawing it. However, my right to free speech can be exercised by punching a flag burner on the nose, and I don't think my right to whack idiots should be infringed either.
Bronnie could of course whack them with her handbag in the best Margaret Thatcher style.
If some yahoos want to burn one out the front of Parliament House, they should just send Tony Abbot out to deal with them. When John Prescott (Deputy PM in the UK) punched a protester who egged him during an election rally, his ratings went up. The general public isn't put off by pollies whacking the occasional fool. I don't think anyone disliked Latham for breaking the arm of a taxi driver. They might have disliked him for many other things, but with apologies to Lettuce, I have been driven by a few dangerous cabbies that need to have both arms and legs broken - in order to keep them off the road.
Anyway, the cops should simply announce that flag burning ceremonies will be sites of tolerance. Tolerance of the burning, and tolerance of any and all broken noses that might result from flicking the Bic.
In fact I can attest that the ABC boondoogle office block in Ultimo is a nice place to be. Take it from me, having seen a few floors in that place, the ABC is not short of money. I went to the floors where the shitkickers hang out, and by the standard of most companies, they were nice floors. Spacious, good views, nicely fitted out, recent model PC's, that kind of thing. You can tell if a company is tight fisted as soon as you walk around the back office. If the staff are sitting on milk crates at trestle tables and the PC's are all IBM XT or AT models with green screens and the phone handsets are those horrible old white analogue things that Telstra (back when it was Telecom) used to giv everyone, then you know the place is run by tightwads. That is not the ABC.
We even got taken to an in-house cafe. Yes, we had to pay for our coffee, but the place was in house on something like the 9th floor. It took up a huge amount of floor space. If it was one of our buildings, you'd be talking about 1/4 of a floor. Yes, ABC management can say that they are not having to buy tea and biscuits for staff, but think of the rent that is being spent on providing an enormous cafe area indoors. I reckon you could have stuffed 20-30 workstations into the area that the cafe took up.
It means of course that the staffers never have to venture outside, where they might meet real people.
The real people have been making some pretty amazing demands this week. I'm talking about the aftermath of the shooting in Iraq where the Army brassed up some cut lunch commando's. Yes, bad things happen in nasty places, but I loved how some bloke came out and started telling that the wheat trade would be cut off unless compo was paid.
By any stretch of the imagination, that's a pretty strong position to start negotiations from. However, I don't see that as being out of place in the middle east. The locals would just take that kind of comment with a grain of salt. It would be like me running over the neighbours cat and the neighbour then threatening to nuke our house unless compo was paid.
I take it as a sign of a society that is not used to redress through the courts. If I run over the neighbours cat, he has various legal avenues to pursue to claim a fair and just settlement. That is the world that the SMH and the ABC lives in. A legalistic, moralistic, "fair and just" kind of place.
Saddam did not leave a strong legal system in place when he was given the boot. He had not produced a society that had much concept about fairness and justice. He left behind a dog-eat-dog, beggar-thy-neighbour kind of place. Hence the looting after the invasion. What kind of nutbags loot hospitals and schools?
Clearly, the crap that has been sprouted after the shooting is just crap. Of course we will pay compo - that's the way things are done. Hell, even Wellington used to pay for the supplies he bought in Spain during the Peninsular War (although I'm not sure he paid for the collatoral damage that his battles caused). The west has a long tradition of paying its way.
The Frogs never did of course. Napoleon was a great one for taking whatever he wanted without compo, and looting ruthlessly.
Back to the stipid SMH. I don't see why they can't understand that the Iraqis are just making excitable statements as a means to up the compo payment. We should just ignore the hyperbole and stick to paying the going rate. We don't need the SMH and the ABC to ramp up the amounts we pay for ventilating people. I thought those two institutions were "culturally sensitive" enough to know how people in other countries and cultures bargain. Hell, the closest I got to the Middle East was a carpet bazaar in Turkey, so I have a small understanding of how to bargain and haggle. The smart thing to do at the start is to make some outrageous statements in order to strengthen your position. If those wankers in Ultimo could extract themselves from their plush offices and fly to say Egypt, they might bring a bit more of the real world into their reporting.
Although we could always pay the compo out of the ABC budget...... I'm sure their response then would be to pay the families 8 cents a day........ They'd probably contract in the Israelis to do the haggling for them.
Saturday, 24 June 2006
- I am in search of a flat stomach, and
- It is the best form of stress release apart from sex
I have a reasonably stressy job. Yes, it shouldn't be - I am a pube after all, and pubes are reknowned for never getting their grey cardigans sweaty from stress. Well, I'm not the grey cardigan wearing type. I need to relax, or my eyelids start twitching. Meditation is for ducks as far as I am concerned, and the idea of a flat stomach and drinking away my worries do not go hand in hand, so exercise is my best option. Hard, nut busting, physically exhausting exercise. It's hard to have insomnia from stress when you are simply collapsing into unconciousness from pounding the pedals.
If I wasn't stressed, and parking was cheap (or free) I would happily fire up the 4WD and drive to work. That ain't going to happen anytime soon, as I have discovered that driving in peak hour does nasty things to my blood pressure. It's not the congestion or the million other cars that does it to me - it's looking at the bike path next to the road and knowing that I could be zipping along, miles away (mentally) from all the crap that comes with sitting behind the steering wheel. I get stressed from not cycling.
I'm clearly going whacko.
Anyway, all the whale saving benefits of cycling can be blown out my arse for all I care. I'm doing it for me, not the planet. Trouble is, the greener brethren in the cycling community have extrapolated cycling into some sort of mantra about it producing a lovely world where the car will be banished etc etc. What a pile of crap. Let's just say that cycling is very good for you, and it would be good if more people did it more often, but we are not about to see a revolution where the car is swept away and replaced by LPG powered buses and bicycles and other non-emitting transport thingys. If you want to see a society without cars, wind the clock back and visit Romania in say 1989 (before the Berlin wall came down) and tell me if that is a fun place to be.
What is the first thing that people in the 3rd world buy when their incomes reach a bit over $1,000 a year? A motor bike. Hence the billion motor bikes careering around the streets of Bali.
What happens when average incomes get to something like $5,000? They buy cars. Just ask the Chinese.
If you want to save the planet from the car, convince the Chinks to hang onto their bicycles and to not buy a car. Somehow, I think that campaign will go nowhere.
People are pre-disposed to doing nothing and getting fat. Life before industrialisation was pretty hard. Most people were short, thin and malnutritioned. They died young, probably without teeth. Getting rich is all about getting away from having to do manual labour. Cycling is manual labour. People in the 3rd world want to get off the bike because being fat is a status symbol. It's only us loonies in the west that think that being fit and healthy is a good option. I guess that is because we are the only societies that have people living long enough to have to worry about the diseases of old age, and things like gout and that are no fun.
Anyway, back to cycling as a transport option. The thought of cycling up to the shops to do my weekly shopping fills me with horror. Partly because I ride a road (racing) bike which is totally unsuited to carrying anything but me. It doesn't even have mudflaps, which means it is nasty to ride in the wet. Don't even think about carrying a bag of groceries.
I could make the switch, but it would involve buying another bike with panniers. Yes, I could probably get one for about $1,000, but I'd have to cycle to the shops for about 10 years before I got a payoff. Put it this way - you don't change over to a bike part time for financial reasons. You do it because you are a nutter. The bike mags that I read usually have a few articles about someone who has given up their car and now does everything on a bike and they are saving heaps etc etc etc, but they must live a pretty restricted life in a magical suburb with absolutely everything close at hand. Most people unfortunately don't live in a suburb like that. Yes, that is probably the fault of the car killing off the local shops and producing the rise of malls, but that's life.
I thought something similar was going to happen whilst riding into work yesterday. The mist was so thick, visibility was down to 50 feet or so. When riding around The Bay, the far shore was just a slightly dark grey sludge than the colour of the mist. The surface of the water was completely covered in mist. Mist, mist, mist, and not a drop to drink!
The nice thing about it was that the mist absorbed all the normal traffic noise. I was almost riding in silence. I'd hear the occasional noisy truck go by on the road next door, but couldn't hear any of the cars.
The cars were strangely silent, given that it was the morning of the game against Croatia. I figured things mustn't have gone well since only one car drove past our house that morning with the horn a-tooting. Even then, he only gave a few desultory toots - it wasn't the normally frantic and manic toot-toot-toot-toot-toot-toot-toot that goes on and on and on until the car is out of hearing range.
All the locals are supporting Italy. Maybe Italy did badly? Who knows.
Friday, 23 June 2006
I worked this out by observing her ladyship after her return from the pub tonight (and a few bottles of champagne).
- babies can't walk straight - they wobble around all over the place
- they gabble all day and night about inane shit
- they snore
- they get the munchies and eat anything (well, anything soft like mushy banana)
- they vomit
- they wee an awful lot - bunch of bladderboys
- they crap in their pants (ala Damien - son of Satan)
- they grope for tit all the time
- they chuck wobblies and beat up their toys
Yes, well if I had read the setup instructions for this fucking blog software properly, I might have noticed that there was a setting about who to allow to leave comments - registered users, anyone, etc. I had it set to "registered users" which seems to have allowed no one to leave a comment. It's now open slather.
I was wondering why you pricks had not been saying anything!
Wednesday, 21 June 2006
I have had the misfortune of having to venture into our local store from time to time to buy things for the house - material for wrapping up little monkeys and that kind of thing. After every visit, I have resolved to never set foot in the store again. Apart from the store being laid out like Bedlam, the place has a staff to customer ratio similar of about 1 per thousand. You have probably heard horror stories of the rationing and queueing that used to happen in the Soviet Union before the whole thing fell apart - well, Spotlight seems to be owned by a couple of Russian emigres whose purpose in life is to bring a little part of the Soviet Union to Australia - and I am not talking about vodka and caviar. If you have McDonalds at one end of the service spectrum, then you have Spotlight at the other.
The reason was on the front page of the Fin Review today. Apparently under the old award system, it was too expensive to employ the necessary number of staff on weekends, weekends being the time when all the pensioners and housewives and other people that can shop all week decide to descend like the Golden Horde on their local Spotlight store. Watching them pore over a pile of dress making material reminds me of watching a rampaging swarm of mice devour a pile of grain.
The new industrial relations thingy means that Spotlight can now employ lots of useless staff on weekends as they aren't being paid triple time and a half plus meal breaks and smoko breaks and all the rest of it. That must be a good thing. Only the Labor Party could think that this is a bad thing.
Then again, given the way Beasley and Co. dress, it is clear they have never actually set foot in a Spotlight with the aim of buying something. Keating certainly would not have been seen dead near the place - even if he was making his own suits, it is not the sort of place you find luxurious Italian fabrics. Spotlight is the Cash'n'Carry of the fabric world. In fact I can't think of a more obviously blue collar shopping mecca.
What the fuck have I been doing in there then? I only wear pure cotton shirts and pure wool suits and pure silk ties. My towels are all thick, Egyptian cotton. There is no rayon to be seen around me, baby.
I am digressing. Spotlight needs lots of checkout staff because your average shopper goes in there and buys lots of little things - 3 different types of buttons, 5 spools of thread, a couple of different zippers, 37 varieties of beads - that sort of thing. And those fiddly little things are impossible to barcode efficiently or economically, so you have lots of people manually bashing numbers into cash registers. People are also buying funny lengths of cloth from bolts - 5 metres of curtain fabric, 5 metres of backing, some lining etc etc etc. Your average transaction at the checkout makes an enormous weekend trolley filling expedition to Woolies look like a picnic.
In short, Spotlight needs to import about 50,000 Indians to man its checkouts.
That won't happen of course. So what you get is blue collar, battling women who work all week racing into Spotlight on Saturday morning to buy some curtain material for the new house because the family can't afford to buy ready made curtains thanks to the fantastically enormous mortgage.
She wastes about an hour standing in line because the store can only afford to employ 3 people on Saturday rather than the 30 it actually needs. (Gee, maybe youth unemployment would drop to about zero if all the little zit faced dole bludgers could be booted out of bed on Saturday morning to man a till in Spotlight). Who suffers? The blue collar shoppers, and the unemployed yoof. Rich people simply ring a decorator and get the bloody curtains made up to fit.
Who's side is the fat bastard on?
If he is such an evil sod, it would have been a whole lot easier to have simply hung him instead of committing him for life. Either he is not so bad, and therefore should only be locked up and treated like any other prisoner, or he is beyond the pale and should be subject to capital punishment. You can't say that he is not quite evil enough to justify bringing back the noose, but too evil to be treated like a normal crim.
Then again, it isn't like Premier Dilemma to make up his mind on a consistent basis.
Tuesday, 20 June 2006
If being an environmentalist is about being nice to the planet, being a natureist is being true to nature.
Let's say you are sitting at a pub with a vegan and a big steak is put in front of you. You simply say, "What would a lion, sitting out in a wild, natural state in Africa do?" Then you do what the lion would do - kill the vegan and eat her, then have the steak for dessert.
Or, you're sitting at a football game and a supporter of the opposite team tries to sit in your area. You do what monkeys or wolves or bears would do - drive the interloper out of your patch. If necessary, beat him to death with rocks. People who are not part of your "tribe" are invaders - potential stealers of resources (like the good seats near the goals) - so nature says that you must defend your turf to the death. Your survival depends on it. Your job is to stick with your mob of monkeys.
Another example - some goon starts talking about equality and how everyone should be treated the same. You have two choices - you can act like the 400 kilo gorilla that is the king of his gorilla pack and crush the stupid little turd to death, or you can act like a rooster and peck him to death. After all hierarchy rules in the natural world. The stallion rules the herd of horses. The goat with the biggest horns gets to root all the nanny goats, whilst the other goats look on or get sloppy seconds. The biggest, the meanest, the toughest and the most aggressive get the goodies, whilst the meek end up as fish food. Talents are not evenly distributed across the population. Some people are very good at certain things (running really fast, kicking goals, lifting weights, swimming 400 metres, mathematics, writing essays etc) whilst others are pretty mediocre at everything, or even downright useless. That's alright - beehives have drones, and there is no reason why human societies can't have them too. You are not an individual special snowflake - you are part of the all-singing crap of the world.
Monday, 19 June 2006
I hadn't read the paper, seen TV, heard radio or read anything on line, so I had no idea what the result was until around lunchtime. However, I had pretty much worked out that Brazil won by the glum faces.
The thing that really told me we had lost was the lack of tooting horns and revving engines and speeding wogs at 3am outside our place. All the local cafes up the road have been advertising 24 hour opening and wall to wall soccer, so I figured there would be a few thousand reved up wogs running around the streets waking everyone up if the result went our way.
When is the next game? Can I purchase a firearm in time? Is it legal to shoot hyped-up wogs in the 12 hours after a game? If not, why not?
At worst, I will have to root around in the glovebox for some ear protection. Another alternative is to decamp somewhere nice and quiet where the soccer isn't going to get a look in - like Cronulla. Down there, it is rugby league and nothing else. If you want to see burning cars, don't send a convoy of Lebs in there - send in a convoy of wog soccer fans. It'll be toasted Alfa Romeo before you can say, "oi, oi, oi!"
Is this something I should feel bad about? Did someone decree that we have to like soccer now because we have qualified in the whatever and won a game? Disliking soccer at the moment is like going to an RSL and declaring that you like to burn flags every Friday night.
We should never have let Catholics into this country.
Sunday, 18 June 2006
Heck, with ratings of 9% or so, I guess you could also call the ABC some sort of Quango that no one pays any attention to.
I see just one problem - most boards are pretty powerless. Yes, they might like to think that they are in control, but they aren't. The CEO isn't really in control most of the time either, especially in the public sector. In reality, the place is run by the mid level pubes. What used to be known as mid-level managers before they all got downsized and outsourced and heirarchies got flattened. Consultants thought that leaner companies would work better because a layer of fat had been taken out, but in reality, most decision making takes place amongst the middle tier.
Simple mathematics tells the story.
Let's assume that your average 10,000 person company requires 5,000 decisions per day in order to function. Those decisions range from the small (should we serve chocolate chip biscuits today or creme filled biscuits?) to the large (where should the Board have lunch this month?). If you have say 100 middle managers in the place, they will make the majority of those decisions - probably about 4950 worth. 10 senior managers and the CEO might make the other 50 between them.
Now take away the pubes in the middle. You have a few choices:
- Get the numb nuts down below to make decisions. Hey, that's smart. If they are such good operators, why are they a numb nut instead of a middle manager? Yes, lots of numb nuts are good at what they do, but a lot of people lack a crucial skill - the ability to make a decision. If you don't believe me, try standing in a queue at McDonalds at lunchtime.
- Make fewer decisions. Yes, this will happen when you get rid of half the toenail clippings that pass for managers in the middle strata. Some sit there like fat toads ensuring that all decisions have to go through them, which is a nice way to make yourself important. Remove a few bottlenecks and you remove some decisions. However, not all your decisions are going to go away.
- Push all decision making up to the top. Gee, that's a good idea. You get 10 guys who previously only had to make 5 big decisions each per day, and suddenly they have to make 500 decisions each. Somehow, I think the quality of the decision making process might decline. Besides, the best way to groom your next generation of big thinkers is to get them to make lots of small decisions (and mistakes) on the way up.
Which is the point really. If you can work out how to drive out those that actually do stuff, you can have the run of the place and do what you like, including doing nothing, or doing long lunches.
The first thing Windschuttle should request is that they Board throws open all middle management positions and makes a key interview question, "How many people have you sacked in your career?" That would exclude the entire existing middle management, and ensure that some hardnosed maniacs with chainsaws were recruited to run the place.
The problem seems to be that they can't shoot the harpoon into the whale's brain. Kim Beasley has nothing to fear then from any passing whalers - at most, he might cop a harpoon in the arse, but they aren't likely to hit anything vital. Then again, his arse seems to be his policy making unit at the moment, so it could be a career ending shot.
The way I see it, the Japs are failing to hit their target due to a lack of practice. If we want more humane whaling, we should give them more practice, which either means shooting more whales, or painting whale targets on the side of Greenpeace ships and letting them shoot at the odd Sea Shephard as it passes by.
Another way would be to contract in some roo shooters and put them behind the harpoon. If they can brain a roo at a few hundred metres, chances are they can zap a whale with a big fuck-off cannon.
My feeling is that the Japs will never be good shots - that's the problem with being slitty eyed. They should stick to making transistor radios and Hondas and leave the killing to a few boys from the back of Bourke.
Not that our Navy has much luck with shooting straight. I saw a snippet of Border Patrol recently and it showed a sailor brassing up an nog fishing boat. At least he seemed to be trying to brass it up - everytime he shot at it, all the rounds went into the water in front of the fishing boat. What's the point of giving these useless buggers guns if they can't hit the odd crewman? Heck, they can't even hit a wooden fishing boat at 50 metres. And they didn't seem to be using tracer either.
The nogs are probably being spoil sports by using diesel motors, but surely there must be something flamable on board that will respond brightly to a few well placed tracers? Maybe the odd bottle of propane that is used for cooking? That would save the hassle of having to tow the fishing boat into port.
By the looks of it, the standard of shooting on our ships is so bad, we'll have to go back to the old pom-pom type arrangement. Just point the quad barrelled thing in the general direction of whatever it is you are trying to kill and squeeze the trigger.
We could of course kill two birds with one stone here. Contract out border patrol to Japanese whaling vessels. Let them harpoon as many fishing boats as they can catch. What could possibly be wrong with that policy?
Well, here we are with a few pedestrians on the left sticking to their side of the bargain and a festering wingnut on the right walking in the bike lane. Fuckwit. Moron. Target.
On the plus side, at least she has the sense to walk far to the left of the path, and not smack down the middle of it as some do. That means I can get around her if I am the only bike on the path. However, often as not, there is more than just me. It's ok if there are a few bikes in a line all going in the same direction - we just all swerve around her, trying to clip her achilles with our pedals - but the real problems occur when there are bikes going in opposite directions with a fuckwit pedestrian in the middle.
I've had it happen to me where there is a walker in the middle of the path and I tinkle my bell as I come up behind her and she jinks left (as she should) and then decides to swerve right - smack into my path. So as I zoom up behind these fools, the following thoughts go through my head:
- If I don't ring my bell, and she holds that line, I can just zip around her. Chances are, she won't deviate (unless her phone rings, and then she will meander unpredictably as she tries to find it and answer it). However, she will probably squeal in shock as I zip past if I don't warn her, and if she hears me at the last second, she may squeal and jump into my path.
- If I do ring the bell, will she hear it over her phone conversation/iPod/chat with girlfriend? She may hear it, and then start dodging to the left and then the right. Very few have the sense to just move left. If she is already to the left, she will probably go right. If she is further to the right of the path than the middle, if I try to cut down the left hand side, she will go left and I will smack into her.
- Trying to make sense of which way a woman will go is like herding cats. Men are predictable - they tend to stay left anyway and they always move to the left when you come up behind them. They often hear my crank going whir-whir-whir before I get there and they move left, dragging their female partner with them.
- Brake. What the hell for? She should just get the fuck out of the lane. Braking is for girls.
The bloke on the right managed to tack this way and that and go up and down as I stood there watching, and he only fell in as he was returning to shore to give it up for the day. He was cursing and swearing - the water must be pretty nippy at the moment. He was yelling that he had managed to stay on his board all afternoon, and only fell off in the last 30 seconds.
I posted this as I reckon it is a pretty cool photo. Check out the reflection of the sail on the water.
Yes, the sun might be shining, but I was cycling with a thermal top on. Bright, but chilly.
I got a flat last week - in my kevlar lined un-puncturable tyre - and had to change it on the way to work. Getting the tyre off was not too bad, but getting it back on was a nightmare. My fingers and thumbs have got all wimpy. They are so soft, the skin peeled back from around my thumbnails under the pressure of getting the tyre back on. Ouch.
To cap it off, I was eyeing off a tyre lever tool last week that is supposed to make the job of putting the tyre back on so much easier. I looked at it, considered spending $20 on it and then went, "Nah, I have puncture-proof tyres".
Now of course I can't find the advertisement for the blasted thing, which can only be bought through one on-line store.
Damn and blast.
Regarding the last line in your recent article:
"She and her ilk should face facts. The road is not there to share. It is for cars. Footpaths are for pedestrians. And bike paths are for bikes, if there is any room left."
If only that was the case. I live in Drummoyne, and there is a wonderful path around The Bay that is split into a footpath and a bike path. Cyclists always get the rough end of the pineapple as pedestrians, particularly those with prams and dogs, usually decide that the bike path is there for them as well. One little old lady got confused last week and decided that the bike path was also somewhere to drive her car.
I'm all for separation. I don't want to cycle down Parramatta Road or William Street - I want to cycle on a quiet back street where the cars are few and far between, or on a separate bike path away from the fumigating cars and trucks and buses. Thankfully, I can cycle into the city like that from my place - Lilyfield Rd is pretty quiet now that traffic has been diverted by the City West Link, and the ANZAC Bridge has a nice wide cycle/foot path up one side. I used to cycle from Wollstonecraft and the story was the same there - bikes don't need to venture onto main roads that often if there is a good alternative up a side street.
As far as I am concerned, the slogan "The road is there to share" mainly refers to secondary roads and suburban streets. I should be able to cycle or rollerblade or scooter on a back street without worrying about being collected by some meathead in a souped up Japanese import with a rear spoiler, purple mags and a sound system that would put AC/DC to shame. I know that your paper likes to make the 4WD the whipping boy of the road, but I find the biggest menace is the young hoon going flat out in the quiet streets of suburbia.
The biggest users of bicycles are not lycra-clad commuters like me - they are kids. Children who are not old enough to drive, but still need to get around to play sport, go to school, visit friends or buy something at the local shops. I'm buggered if I am going to drive my kids everywhere - they can do what I did and either walk, catch a bus or cycle. If you want to alleviate some traffic congestion, get rid of all the parents who are driving their kids to this and that and something else - especially school. If you want to see motor mayhem, visit your local school around start or finish time. How much traffic would disappear if the kids walked or rode to school? That ain't going to happen though if you can't make people understand that the roads that kids use - the back streets, the secondary roads, the suburban byways - are there to share.
By the way, idiot pedestrians also step out in front of cyclists like me all the time. I've also seen some step out in front of buses. And yes, Sydney is hot and humid and hilly, but as far as I am concerned, it just makes cycling to work more of a challenge. If you want to be a wimp, feel free to drive. I had no idea that Australians had gone so soft, and that you endorsed that softness. I thought you hankered for a tougher, more resilient and self reliant nation. So there are hills to climb - boo hoo. If you want tea and sympathy, go see a shrink. Don't even think about crying on my shoulder. Big girls blouse.
I'm off for a ride now - maybe I'll run down a vegan, and then I can come home to a nice BBQ full of lamb chops.
Monday, 12 June 2006
On an August morning in 1978, French filmmaker Claude Lelouch mounted a gyro-stabilized camera to the bumper of a Ferrari 275 GTB and had a friend, a professional Formula 1 racer, drive at breakneck speed through the heart
of Paris .
The film was limited for technical reasons to 10 minutes; the course was from Porte Dauphine , through the Louvre, to the Basilica of Sacre Coeur.
No streets were closed, for Lelouch was unable to obtain a permit.
The driver completed the course in about 9 minutes, reaching nearly 140 MPH in some stretches. The footage reveals him running real red lights, nearly hitting real pedestrians, and driving the wrong way up real one-way
Upon showing the film in public for the first time, Lelouch was arrested. He has never revealed the identity of the driver, and the film went underground until a DVD release a few years ago.
Make sure your sound is on and keep an eye out for Elvis.
I spent nearly 9 minutes of my life watching this video. It is not the first time that I have seen it - a bloke had it at work last year. The video that I saw at work was first class - crisp, clear and quite heart thumping. It was worth spending 9 minutes to watch it. In fact I think I probably spent 27 minutes watching it with a few other blokes.
I don't know why I bothered spending 9 minutes watching the Google version. It was had the life compressed out of it. It's like watching a really grainy, dark, blurry video. It is complete crap. Some things should just not be posted to the web.
What a difference 20 years makes.
1986 - I am an Army Reserve Grunt. Young, dumb, and... you know the rest. I am the biggest guy in our section, so I get the fun part - the M-60. Woohoo, 10 kilos of rock and roll. I loved that ugly bastard - heavy, lumpy and a bitch to lug around, but I never ever resorted to using a sling to carry it. I had forearms like hams and biceps like Arnold.
The Army back then was not as modern and switched on as it is now, and the ARES was the most underfunded, backward looking bunch you've ever seen. We were still training for a war that was over 10 years dead by then - Vietnam. The drills were simple - we'd patrol in section strength (8-10 men) day and night and brass up the "enemy" - fellow grunts dressed in black pyjamas and cone shaped bamboo hats. We marched to simple tunes, like "napalm sticks to kids". War was hell, combat was nasty and I was given a simple brief as gunner - carry lots of ammo, and blast merry hell out of anyone that took a pot shot at us. In fact, blast anything that looked like there might be someone lurking behind it that might take a pot shot at us. Trees, rocks, ant hills, dirt mounds, fat hampsters - you name it, I shot at it. I was good at that. I was fit. I was strong. I played that M-60 like a violin.
Urban combat was not an issue in 1986. We expected to be working in horrible, steaming out of the way places where "urban areas" consisted of a few bamboo lean-to's and the locals were not armed with mobile phones and handy cams. The leech filled, mud laden shit holes that we expected to be deployed to would not be crawling with the media. The important thing was to keep your weapon pointing away from your mates and to brass up the bad guys with extreme prejudice. Any nig-nog that got in the way was, well, a nicely ventilated ex-nig-nog.
So the thinking went. We patrolled night and day for two weeks, got thoroughly filthy and bruised, then got wildly drunk at the end of tried to screw the female members of the unit. Life as a choco was simple. Difficult concepts like "collateral damage" and "civilian casualties" were not part of our briefing. Keep it simple for us young boneheads. Kill them all - let God sort them out.
Haditha, 1986 style, would have been simple. Bomb goes off, someone in our unit dies. We jump out of our vehicles and run this way or that way, depending on where we think the ambush is coming from. Gunners like me start hosing down any that looks like it has Luke the Gook (remember the post-Vietnam thinking) hiding behind it. Trees, houses, cars, goats, donkeys, chickens, ducks, swingsets, above ground swimming pools, banana lounges - you name it, I zap it. The guys with the 40mm grenade launchers might pop off a few rounds at the buildings, trying to get fragmentation grenades through the windows. The riflemen advance and blast anything that moves with their SLR's.
I know what the M-60 can do to a brick building, so I aim low (assuming that anyone inside will hit the deck when I start shooting) and concentrate on the areas below and to the sides of windows and doors. I know that the 7.62mm rounds will go through a few double brick houses in a row without even slowing down. The fun part would be to knock down a small house with concentrated machine gun fire.
The thought of even approaching the houses without blasting them first - ludicrous! The idea is to kill everyone inside before you even get near the place. That is the idea of the air cooled, belt fed, bipod mounted 7.62mm machine gun. In fact, screw the machine gun - that is what helicopter gunships are for. Who wants to do house to house combat with piddly little M-16's and fragmentation grenades? Shit, the idea of running upstairs to see if a good guy or a bad guy was up there would be seen as lunacy. Someone like me would just stand inside the front door, point the M-60 upwards and fire through the ceiling. My offsider would run around just behind me, laden down with lots of green bags each containing a 100 round belt. Every rifleman in my section ran around also festooned with the same green bags. There was no question - when the shit hit the fan, the M-60 would be a very well fed little sucker. We all wanted the comfort of lots of firepower, and firepower laid on with gusto. Gunners should love the sound of their weapon firing. If you didn't crack a fat at the thought of blasting away, it was time to quit the gun and pick up a radio.
Of course we didn't have buildings to train with. In fact we hardly had ammunition to train with. We ate rat packs that had been packed before I was born. We shot up trees because trees are cheaper to grow than buildings.
These days, they call it MOUT - Military Operations in Urban Terrain (I think). Back then, it was simple - "contact front", or "ambush left" and we blasted away in the chosen direction and then assaulted with deliberate, murderous intent. It was not uncontrolled blasting - it was well directed, controlled firing. But it was no holds barred fighting. I guess it was a military mindset that was a hangover from fighting the Japs in PNG. The swine never surrendered, and they never asked for quarter. It was a real fight to the bitter end mentality.
If it was 1986 and I was at Haditha, there wouldn't have been any buildings left. Anyone in them would have been buried underneath the rubble, and knowing our mindset at the time, we would have tossed a WP grenade on top of the rubble to finish the job.
Boy, have things changed.
Sunday, 11 June 2006
Not that I am complaining. I used to make pilgrimages out here from the north shore to buy the most excellent Italian hams and cheeses and smallgoods that the locals stock. You just can't make a nice pizza without top quality ham and gooey cheeses. The ham is something else - double smoked, nicely aged and sliced paper thin right in front of you. I don't always get what I went into the shop for as my Italian is very patchy. I asked for some sort of cheese a few weeks ago and walked out with an unpronouncable sausage. Once I get past "prego" and "ciao" I am lost.
There is one drawback to all this Italian culture - it is a very distinct mono-culture. I was thinking the other night about putting together a cheese platter of nice stinky cheeses, and I ran into a big problem - where to buy them in this neighbourhood. Stinky cheese is really the province of the French, with a bit of a nod to the Spanish, but the Italians just don't go in for wet, stinky washed rind cheeses or heavy, nasty blues like Stilton. Yes, the locals sell the greatest buffalo mozzarella and great parmesan that costs a bomb, but they wouldn't ever think of selling something that didn't have a green, red and white flag on it. The Italian cuisine is as far as their tummies and tastebuds will stretch.
So I had a dilema - where to buy some stinky cheese?
The local Franklins is a complete write-off. They sell white bread and coon and stretch the dairy cabinet to Kraft singles. Hopeless.
Then there is Supa-Barn. They sell a nice range of brie and stuff - they must have 10 different types of brie, but they don't go beyond that. They do however have a great range of quince paste and peach paste and other things that go really well with cheese on sale. I give them one thumb up and one thumb down.
I considered taking a walk from the office to the GPO, which has a really, really, really good cheese shop in the basement. Yes, the cheese costs about the equivalent of a pay packet (pre tax), and anything that I bought at lunch would be well ripe by going home time and I would be cycling home with a packet of reeking cheese on my back. I doubt any cyclist would want to follow me closely. Stinky cheese really is quite stinky when it gets going.
I ended up having to drive to Broadway to visit Harris Farm. They at least have one washed rind cheese on sale, but it is a bit of a girls blouse of a stinky cheese. As far as stinky cheese goes, it is the Kraft Singles of the stinky cheese world. It is a Claytons stinker. The stinker you have when you don't want a stinky cheese.
Anyway, my quest for a stinky cheese got me thinking about multiculturalism, and what it really means. To me, it means having the best of dozens of cultures. I get to pick and choose a bit of everything. Yep, come on over, bring your Thai cooking and learn English and settle down and live the good life. I'll eat at your restaurant 5 nights a week. No problemo.
However, what I see in my suburb is a distinct mono-culture. Multiculturalism isn't about a blending of cultures. That's complete crap. What we have is dozens of cultures all living cheek by jowl and largely not interacting. A non-melting pot of cultures. It's not like putting a bag of Smarties on the stove top and watching them melt - it's like leaving a bag of smarties in the fridge and watching them do anything but melt.
The only people getting anything out of these cultures are the Chardonnay swilling wankers a mile or two away in Balmain - the literati white bread anglo types who think they are being all multi-culti by eating Chinese once a month and attending the odd Mongolian film festival. The wogs around me would prefer to die rather than eat Chinese food. Chinese food is for the chinks - Italians eat pasta. Try asking an old wog how many curries he's had in the last ten years. Zero would be the normal answer.
The theory of multiculturalism is like putting a bag of Smarties in a circle and drawing a line between each and every Smartie - you end up with a non-hierarchial matrix of cultures all joined together. How nice and warm and fluffy.
The reality is that you have the dominant anglo culture at the top, and a hundred or so subservient cultures beneath it - think of the company org chart but with no middle management. All the lines go upwards to us, the descendants of poms, and none go sideways. You have a bunch of silos that do not connect (to use some recent management want words). That's great for me - I can watch the footy and the cricket and drink beer and red wine and have great coffee and gelato and Indian curries and Thai food and French cheese and vodka and tapas and sushi and all that kind of thing and think about what a great country this is.
Just don't try to get the Serbians to have dinner in a Macedonian restaurant.
Let's say our Middle East correspondent is somewhere in say Gaza and he says, "..and a column of Israeli tanks rolled into the neighbourhood blah blah blah.." and in the background, you see a couple of M113 armoured personnel carriers, or even the odd armoured bulldozer, but rarely something like an actual Merkava tank.
Ok, this picture is not an Israeli tank, but it shows the general features that I think a tank should have, like a big main gun and a bloody big turret on top. Yes, not all tanks have turrets, but most do. Yes, some APC's have a turret, but they don't have a big old main gun - something in the 75mm plus size (to include the older Soviet designs like the T-55 that still seem to be trundling around Africa somewhere).
If the ABC can't even get their vehicle recognition right, how much of the rest of their reporting is plain garbage?
Here's a hint - if people run out of a door in the back of the vehicle, it is probably not a tank. (Although I am sure that some picky bastard will point out that some tanks have a reloading door at the back). OK, if infantry run out of the back door, it is not a tank. If you don't know the difference between infantry and armour, go get a job on Play School and get the fuck out of the Middle East.
How soon before our wog brethren decide that this is the must have accessory for their purple chick pulling mobile?
Ok, so maybe I am getting old and feeling the cold. Or maybe I am the only person in the street without one of those wonderful new split system air conditioning things that cools in summer and warms in winter and keeps our coal fired power stations running full blast all year round. Where the fuck is the greenhouse effect when you need it? The birds are practially falling frozen from the sky, and I don't hear any greenies bleating on about carbon dioxide and global warming and Antarctica melting and drowning the penguins and things. They are probably all stuck in Newtown, huddled around a fireplace, wrapped in home knitted jumpers and beanies and burning their last copies of Green Lefty, or whatever it is called. I can hear them arguing now:
Jeremy: "Don't burn the April 1996 edition - that is a classic with a polemic by Fidel Castro on the evils of privatised electricity distribution networks".
Samantha: "Screw Castro, I'm freezing".
Jeremy: "Well then burn the August 2002 edition - that features Peter Garret and the whole copy is dedicated to the horror of nuclear power generation".
Edwin: "No, we cant burn that one - what will we have to wave at the next Labor Party state conference when they debate where to resume land to build the first 5 nuclear power plants?"
Samantha: "Who cares about next years conference? I just want to survive the winter. Burn the lot".
Which is kind of what people in the 3rd world do when they need firewood for cooking and heating etc. They just burn down whatever forest or rain forest comes to hand, and bugger tomorrow. It's pretty hard to worry about tomorrow when you are just trying to live through today.
Like me trying to survive today, huddled in my freezing garret watching.... dear God, some women should not be allowed to own 4WD's. I have just watched one pull up next to the park opposite our place to walk the dogs. She managed to completely misjudge the corner and mounted the kerb whilst attempting to park. As in park on a straight stretch of road that is maybe 300m long. With no car parked for at least 100m either side. Wingnut. Panel beaters are never going to go out of business. She owns labradors. That must say it all.
Where was I - ah yes, soup. Being in a lazy, frozen state of mind, I wanted to cook something that generated the least amount of washing up. The more time spent in front of the useless little blow heater that we have, the better. I this weather, one just can't go past pea and ham soup. My inspiration for soup comes from no other than Tex at Whackingday. I was reading a post about soup recently and it stuck in my mind. So I bought some bacon bones this week and resolved to make soup or freeze to death in the attempt.
There was just one problem with making pea and ham soup - the ham bit. The missus is a bit down on the whole meat thing, so I had to make a ham-less pea and ham soup. ie, chop up onion, carrot and celery, soften in butter, then add peas and water and cook. The result was - ugh, fucking awful. It tasted like celery soup with a hint of carrot. It was quite gross, particularly as it was lacking in that essential artery hardening ingredient known as salt. Soup cooked with stock is good. Using water just produces mushy vegetables.
I discovered however that you don't need stock if you add the bacon bones as about half a tonne of salt leaches out of the bacon, making the soup taste a bit like pea and ham brine. If you used stock instead of water, you'd probably make something that looked like a green version of the Dead Sea.
I also discovered that bacon bones and mainly, well, bones. You buy a kilo of bones and get maybe 1/3 of a kilo of salt, 1/8 kilo of meat and the rest is bones. Lots of little bones. Bones that get caught in the blender thing that you are using and make a terrible noise until you hit the off switch.
As you can gather, I have not made pea and ham soup before.
I thought it looked a bit thin and listless, so I left it on the stove for half an hout to thicken up. Except that I got absorbed in watching something and had to be reminded a few hours later that I still had soup going on the stove. If you have ever hung up wallpaper and used wallpaper hanging paste, then you will understand the type of soup that I created. It is real, good old fashioned goo. I don't need a spoon to get it out of the pot - I can use a fork.
So it is probably not much good for winos. You definitely can't suck it through a straw. It's a screw up that has worked out for the best.
As for the pea soup.....that's better off not being discussed.
Saturday, 10 June 2006
Take Sydney at the moment. The stand out thing this week has been the weather. It has rained most days. On some days, it has bucketed down. On others, it has been a steady light drizzle all day long. Whichever way you look at it, it has been wet. Wet stuff has fallen from the sky. In order to stay dry, you can do one of several things. You can carry a brolly. You can wear a wide brimmed hat and a japara or a drizabone. You can wear a normal sort of rain coat.
The one thing you can't do is walk along the pavement underneath the awnings out the front of buildings, as most of Sydney seems to be missing them. OK, some buildings have them, but they rarely join up with the awning of the building next door, so you have to walk through this six inch or two foot gap of bucketing rain between awnings. Or they lack guttering, so the water pisses off the edge and soaks you as you walk by. The best ones are the architect designed features where the awning is not attached to the building - you walk out the front door, and get soaked as you cross the gap between the building and the "ooh-ah" awning feature out the front. I hate architects. They should all be sacrificed when the building foundations are being laid by being cast into the concrete.
I blame Frank for all of this. He was mayor for years, and now he is in charge of planning. He decides on non-important issues like how high a skyscraper should be. Who cares if it is 100m tall or 200m tall? A bird flying into the top floor at speed will still be dead when they hit the bottom even if the building is only 20m tall. Get over it Frank. Concentrate on the Things That Matter, like awnings, which keep me dry. You want to get me out of my car, you fucker? Keep me dry when I am walking around the city at lunchtime trying to get fed. Or when I am trying to get to a meeting on the other end of town.
The best place to see Frank's vision of "planning" in action is the Wynyard bus area when the rain is coming down. They redeveloped the area a few years ago and put in lots of flash bus shelters. Woops, they hadn't considered how people react when it rains.
For starters, the bus that I used to catch was at the far end of the Wynyard bus thingy, so I had to walk about 100m down the street behind lots of bus shelters. In fine weather, that is not a problem - there is room for two people to pass. However, when it rains, and you and the other guy have an umbrella over your head, you will clash. The walk becomes one long umbrella fight as you try and get to the end of the street without you umbrella being snagged by someone else and having it ripped out of your hands. If the "planners" had planned ahead, they might have made the path wide enough for people to actually get past each other. Or, they could have extended the bus shelter awnings out the back so that people could walk behind them without requiring an umbrella to be open over their scone.
The other stupendously bright manouvere was to put in lots of individual bus shelters that are separated by a few feet of open space. Again, human behaviour was not brought into the equation. Lobotomised baboons probably have more insight into how humans behave than Frank's crack team of crack smoking crackers. The queue for a bus starts at the end of the street, extends through the first bus shelter, across the gap, into the second bus shelter, across the gap, into the third bus shelter etc etc. When it rains, you shuffle forward in the queue constantly opening and closing your umbrella as you move from shelter to gap. No one is game to leave the gap vacant as gap thieves will push in and take their place ahead of you in the bus queue. Granted, they should be beaten to death with umbrellas, but that is not the way things are done around here.
That's our Frank - the master of planning. Not that he would know how the city actually works, as I doubt he actually walks anywhere. The sooner our local members lose their car allowances and chauffer driven cars, the sooner our transport and infrastructure problems will be fixed.