Tuesday 31 May 2011

Coincidence? Or is someone actually paying attention to moi?

Although I enjoyed the movie "The Castle" when it came out, I've generally found Michael Caton to be just a bit insufferable. The Castle came out in 1997 and made him a bit of a star in Australia. He used that star power in 1998 to campaign against public transport - namely a rail link to Bondi.

Bondi residents turned out in force at Bondi Beach on Sunday 26/4/98 to protest against the proposed CityRail extension from Bondi Junction to the beach. 
The crowd, estimated at about 2000 people, was led by singer Kate Ceberano and actor Michael Caton.  
Since the environmental impact statement for the proposed link started, hundreds of locals have been out to stop it, including a group called "Save Bondi Beach".  
Write a letter of protest to the Premier: 
The Honourable R J Carr MP
GPO Box 5341
Sydney NSW 2001 

Some people, myself included, have long memories. From a Sydney Public Transport forum back in feb:

I was there that day... Michael Caton gave a great speech, said he was worried the beach would become packed to the rafters.

Comedy gold. Don't worry, I'm here all week :-D

followed by:

not long after that they started protesting about parking meters, lack of parking spaces and too much traffic

Maybe the NIMBYs were worried Bondi would become a bit like Cronulla.

Anyway, this was my independent contribution to history back on the 29th at Tim Blair's place:

And what did I find when I opened the paper two days later? The Premier putting the boot in to Caton over the same issue.

Should I be paranoid? Are they watching me right now?

Prepare the tinfoil hats!

On the other hand, they might have been after this bloke who got a letter published on 29 Sept 2009:

Echoes of Bondi in north shore protest 
I couldn't help but roll my eyes when reading that Michael Caton is back on his soapbox again (''Tell 'em they're dreaming - north shore gets bolshie'', September 28). What noble victory is he aiming for this time? I am still suffering from his 1998 overthrow of the proposed Bondi Beach rail project.
The Save Bondi Beach group, put together by Caton and Kate Ceberano, cited reasons such as ''a new influx of people'', ''increase in crime'' and ''a substantial rise in beach rubbish'' to successfully lobby the government to back down from what would have been a low-impact solution to reducing visitor and resident traffic to Bondi.
Now, during peak hour, commuters can sit on a bus (if they can fit) or in a car for up to 30 minutes just trying to get up to Bondi Junction. On behalf of this fed-up group of residents, I beg Michael: can we please have a train to Bondi? I can hear his imperious reply: ''Tell 'em they're dreaming.''
Jamie Carroll Bondi

Monday 30 May 2011

Someone isn't happy

I have no idea when this billboard first went up on Victoria Rd in Balmain - if the media coverage is anything to go by, it was erected fairly recently.

I spotted the big rip in it on the weekend, but didn't manage to get a photo. That had to wait until this morning.

That isn't a result of the glue going all runny in the rain - someone has bothered to climb up there and do their best to rip it down.

If this isn't going down well in Balmain, which is about as trendy and politically correct and Godless as you can get, then that's saying something. Unless it was a militant agnostic who saw the name "Jesus" and blew a gasket.

Attack of the killer cucumbers

Nice, wholesome, organic vegetables..

...which just happen to kill you.

If it's true that the infected cucumbers were in fact organic, why wasn't that reported by the BBC?

Saturday 28 May 2011

Energy subsidies - how big are they really?

Have a look at this set of slides (don't worry, it's not death by Powerpoint). As far as energy subsidisation goes, Australia doesn't even rate a mention.

Hat tip.

Heroin - part VIII

In one of my recent posts, I tried to trawl through the research to determine how much heroin is consumed in NSW each year, and what that costs. Depending on what assumptions you make about how many addicts there are, how much they inject each time and how many times they inject per day, it could be anywhere between 1.2 and 3 tons per year. Or it could be way outside those boundaries.

Without going down to Kings Cross and trying to score, I have to base the retail price on what the research tells me - that it's around $320 per gram.

1.2 tons is 1.2 million grams.

3 tons is 3 million grams.

That puts the retail trade in NSW as somewhere in the vicinity of $390 to $960 million per year. Or it could be way outside those boundaries.

Since retail purity is around the 50% mark, that means only half those amounts of pure heroin need to be imported each year.

And how is all that funded?

Heroin users are prone to resort to crime to fund their purchases of heroin.  Law  estimate that the number of dependent heroin users in Australia increased from about 670 in 1967 to about 67,000 by 1997.  Heroin dependence has been a particularly prominent problem in NSW.  This State has about a third of Australia’s population but, between 1979 and 1995, accounted for more than half of all those placed on methadone treatment and just under half of all fatal opioid overdoses.
Proceeding on this basis we estimate that, since 1966, each 10 per cent increase in the annual number of dependent heroin users has led to a 6 per cent increase in the NSW robbery rate.  By comparison, each 10 per cent decrease in the robbery clear-up or imprisonment rate has led to a 3-4 per cent increase in robbery.

A significant proportion of the funds expended on purchases of heroin are raised through the commission of property crime.  A 1984 survey of imprisoned NSW property offenders, for example, found that 50 per cent of those who identified themselves as regular heroin users stated that heroin use had increased the amount of property crime they committed.

Those who described themselves as ‘heavy’ users of heroin committed armed robberies 1.8 times more frequently and break, enter and steal offences 1.7 times more frequently than those who described themselves as ‘light’ users of heroin.  
The observation that regular heroin use amplifies of ending frequency amongst those involved in crime has been confirmed in other studies.  
Blumstein, Cohen, Roth and Visher, for example, cite evidence that daily heroin users committed robberies and burglaries, respectively, at rates which were 2.9 and 4.7 times higher than ‘infrequent’ users of the drug.

And another income source:

The majority of the sample (86%) reported that  they were currently unemployed or receiving government benefits. Seventy-nine percent of the sample  reported that their main source of income over the preceding month had been a pension or government benefit, while 7% reported a wage or salary, 9% nominated criminal activity and 3% reported sex work
The libertarian in me says that if you want to snort, smoke or inject heroin, then that's your business and I really don't give a rat's. I like this view of libertarianism:

"Libertarianism is the view that each person has the right to live his life in any way he chooses so long as he respects the equal rights of others"

Respecting the equal rights of others means not breaking into their property and stealing their stuff, or accosting them on the street and robbing them, or committing fraud against other taxpayers (ie, the government) or businesses. I am not very worried about heroin use; what I can't stand is the consequences - the screwed up children of addicts, the billions poured into social services, the heavy handed policing and the property crime that is a major embuggerance to every citizen.

I can't stand the idea that I am paying taxes to support a class of bludgers who, when freed of the need to do 35-40 hours of paid employment each week (plus the time required to travel to and from work) have plenty of free time to steal from the rest of us.

But this series is not about me ranting about certain things. It's about questioning whether a safe injecting room in Kings Cross is good public policy. Given the crime stats that I've just quoted, the first question that comes to mind is, "What impact does a safe injecting room have on the crime stats?"

Over to you.

Heroin - part VII

What's more effective in reducing heroin use - an increase in the price of drugs, or a safe injecting centre?

Striking confirmation of the price-elasticity of demand for heroin has emerged in Australia over the last few years. Early in 2001 the median price paid per gram increased from $220 to $320. This sudden increase in the cost of heroin was followed by greatly reduced heroin use frequency, expenditure on heroin and, potentially, a large reduction in the number of heroin users active in the heroin market.
The benefits of this reduction in heroin use have been substantial. Weatherburn found a 74 per cent decrease in opioid-related overdose in one major Sydney heroin market (Cabramatta) following the onset of the shortage, and a 53 per cent reduction in overdose across NSW. The drop in heroin use also appears to have produced a significant fall in the incidence of robbery. Prima facie, these outcomes vindicate the assumption underpinning national drug policy that supply control policy has a role to play in harm reduction.
The shortage of heroin that appeared in 2001, however, also had an undesirable side effect. Many heroin users who were still in the market following the peak of the heroin shortage appear to have responded by increasing their consumption of other drugs, most notably cocaine and methamphetamine.
The good old Law of Unintended Consequences strikes again - you have success in the heroin market, and users simply substitute cheaper drugs instead.

This drug substitution effect does make me wonder though how "addicted" to heroin most of these addicts really are. I grew up with movies like The French Connection etc, and they portrayed going cold turkey as a horrific ordeal for the user. However, if a user can give up heroin because of the price and move to cocaine of meth instead, that says to me that they're not physically addicted to heroin. Instead, they're addicted to getting off their nut, and how they get off their nut is really not that important. If all they want is to get into an altered state, then no amount of treatment is going to wean them off drugs. 

Thursday 26 May 2011

Heroin - part VI

But wait - there's more!

We've had a look at estimates of how many heroin users there are in NSW (and the numbers are pretty old). Now let's  have a look at how often they stick a needle in their arm.

Frequency of heroin use
  • Once a week – 9%
  • More than once a week – 20%
  • Daily – 16.5%
  • More than once a day – 46%
Mean expenditure – about $1000 per week (2005).
Here's the bit that all law-abiding, tax-paying householders and shopkeepers will love:

Three-quarters of PS users reported committing at least one crime in the previous 30 days
It's worth noting that the information on the NSW Druginfo site is a bit contradictory in places:

During the 1980s and 1990s research suggested the numbers of heroin dependent users in Australia rose from around 34,000 in the mid 1980s to about 74,000 estimated in 1997, when the last major study was conducted.  At that time, the research suggested there may have been up to 35,000 dependent users in NSW.   
NDARC has described a dependent heroin user as one who uses 2-3 times per day.  Dependent users consume about 85 percent of heroin imported.  
In addition, NDARC estimates that there are as many as 2-3 times the number of dependent users who use occasionally, perhaps once per week.

So exactly how many bloody users are there in NSW today?

After a fair bit of Googling, the answer seems to be "buggered if I know", because there hasn't been any published research in the last 9 years. The numbers might have gone up, or they might have gone down.

So let's go with the estimate of 20,000 dependent users in NSW as that's what the latest research in 2002 said, and let's go with the definition of "dependent" as someone who uses 2-3 times per day (because as the research says, this lot use 85% of all heroin).

If they're shooting up 2-3 times per day, that equates to about 50,000 hits per day. For a user, that's 15-20 injections per week.

How much in a hit? What do I look like - a drug encyclopedia?

If heroin costs about $300 per gram (as it did during the drought in 2001) and junkies are spending $1000 per week on heroin, then we can calculate an intake of 3.3 grams per week, or about 0.2 grams per hit - although heavy users might consume lots more than that.

So by those rough calculations, those 20,000 users are going through at least 60,000 grams per week in NSW - or 60 kilos. That's 3 tons per year.

This has to be taken with a pinch of salt though, as a more recent study puts average drug expenditure at $56 per day, or $392 per week. That's about 1.2 grams per week, or 1.2 tons per year.

To put that in perspective, a huge drug seizure in Australia is 400kgs - and that was back in 1998.

But let's go back to Bob Carr's statements about the benefits of a safe injecting room:

There have been approximately 600,000 visits over 10 years. There are about 200 injections a day – that is, with medical supervision on hand, whereas without the centre…? 
To reinforce this point, the number of drug overdoses successfully managed stands at more then 3,500. 
Now this is also important : there have been more than 8,500 referrals for addiction treatment, mental health, homelessness or acute medical problems. We always envisaged this as a portal to treatment. 

Like I said above, the junkies of NSW are putting away 50,000 hits per day. That's 18,250,000 per year. The safe injecting room has been open for 10 years and has seen 600,000 injections. In that time, all the other junkies in NSW have stuffed a needle into their arm 182,500,000 times. What is 600,000 divided by 182,500,000? It's not a lot. It's 0.00328 - that's what it is.

Is that good policy, or just pissing in the wind?

Interestingly enough, the ABS hasn't provided any updated numbers on drug deaths or the number of heroin users in about a decade, so we can't tell what's happening to the addict population. If there were 19,900 heroin users in NSW when the injecting rooms opened for business a decade ago, and they've made 8,500 referrals for treatment, then one would expect that the number of addicts would have continued to decline sharply due to more and more of them getting treatment etc etc.

I doubt very much that has happened.

Wednesday 25 May 2011

Heroin - part V

Just what is an overdose, and how does it kill you?

This part of my research was quite fascinating. Until now, I had no idea what an overdose was all about. Here's some interesting bits and pieces for you:
  • Some studies estimate that up to 60% of all heroin users have experienced at least one overdose. 
  • people being released from custody are at a greater risk of overdose because of a tendency to binge on alcohol and drugs shortly after release without taking into account their reduced tolerance from a reduction in drug use whilst in custody.
  • Despite a perception that young inexperienced users make up the greatest number of heroin related overdoses, research evidence clearly shows that older long-term users are more susceptible to heroin related overdoses.
  • It is estimated that there are between 12,000 and 21,000 non- fatal overdoses in Australia annually.
  • Victims of overdose are predominately single, unemployed men aged in their late 20s and early 30s, with a long history of heroin dependence.
  • Concomitant alcohol or benzodiazepine use, and recently depleted tolerance, are significant risk factors for overdose. 
  • Death from overdose is rarely instantaneous. Overdose most commonly occurs in a private home, with or near other people. Witnesses of overdose are reluctant to seek help.
  • Overdose fatality is not a simple function of heroin dose or purity. There is no evidence of toxicity from contaminants of street heroin in Australia.
  • only 2% of heroin-related deaths  in New South Wales in 1992 were in methadone maintenance at the time of death, while seventy-five percent of fatalities had never been in methadone treatment.  
  • Enrolment in methadone maintenance has been found to be protective against overdose in spite of continued use of heroin, probably reflecting a combination of reduced heroin use while in treatment and/or a higher tolerance to opioids while being maintained on methadone. 
  • In the majority of cases death occurs two or more hours after administration. The majority of deaths occur in a private home. 
  • Studies typically report that approximately half of all overdose fatalities occur in the own home of the victim, while a quarter occur in the home of a friend or relative. This pattern also holds true for non-fatal overdose, with only 10% of users reporting that their last overdose occurred on the street. 
  • Approximately one in ten overdoses ends fatally.
This was all news to me. From reading the rather dry medical reports, I started to get this picture of a recently released crook who heads down to the Cross for a post-prison bender. He (and most are male) gets on the turps, then takes a few pills, and then shoots up. The alcohol and pills both suppress the respiratory system - and this bloke doesn't have good lungs to start with because almost all junkies are also heavy smokers (I read that too) and they suffer all sorts of bronchial-pulmonary problems. So his lungs are buggered, he's full of booze (which shuts down your breathing a bit), then he takes pills (which shuts it down more) and then he tops it off with heroin, which shuts them down even further. And then he dies - that's an overdose.

It's not the heroin that's killed him. It's the combination of poor health and at least one other suppressant that's done him in.

So, how does an injecting room help out here?

I can see how having medical staff on hand with a few tubes of Narcan would stop idiots like the one described above from killing themselves when on a bender. The good citizens of the Cross wouldn't have to step over another body on the way to work in the morning. But does it do anything to treat the underlying problems that led this goose into going on a booze, pill and heroin bender to the point where he overdid it and would have died unless a medic had rammed a needle into him?

heroin - part IV

In the last post, I noted that the deaths from heroin overdoses went from 6 in 1964 to 737 in 1998. Why the sudden increase?

Some clever people sat down about 10 years ago and wrote a paper entitled Estimating the number of current regular heroin users in NSW and Australia 1997-2002. Here are their median estimates for that period for NSW:

1997 - 35,300
1998 - 48,000
1999 - 48,200
2000 - 43,900
2001 - 22,100
2002 - 19,900

On page 19 of the report we find this fascinating graph - "Number of opioid overdose deaths among persons aged 15-54 years, 1980-2002". It covers both NSW and the rest of Australia. 

What the table of heroin users and the graph shows is that the number of deaths (and presumably users) started to take off in the mid 1990s, reaching a peak in 1999 before dropping sharply in 2001. The primary reason for the fall seems to be a heroin drought around that time.

Let's go back to one of Bob Carr's justifications for the injecting room:

The ultimate argument ? It might just save lives – the lives of people who are using heroin until a time ( often their late 30s ) when they get sick of it and decide to make a break with that life. We need to sustaint them till they reach that point. 
After looking at the graph above, if you ask me, the biggest life saver in the last decade has been a shortage of heroin, which has more than halved the number of users in NSW. If the estimates are correct and users dropped from 48,200 at their peak to 19,900 just a few years later, then that would produce a 60% drop in deaths from overdoses. That's mighty powerful stuff.

But does that make an injecting room poor policy? My mind is still open - there is more to come.

Heroin - part III

We don't hear much about heroin overdoses and deaths these days - they rarely seem to interest the media anymore unless they relate to a celebrity. However, back in 1999, it was a different story. Heroin use had exploded, as had the number of overdoses and deaths.

The Australian National Council on Drugs reported that:

The number of deaths associated with heroin overdose has increased markedly in the past 25 years. National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre publications record that the number of deaths in the 15-44 year old age group has increased from 6 people in 1964 to 737 people in 1998. Recent reports further suggest that this figure has again increased in 1999. The 1998 figure equates with almost 9% of all deaths in this age group being attributed to heroin related overdose.

Some studies estimate that up to 60% of all heroin users have experienced at least one overdose. Each heroin related overdose potentially represents another fatality
That's quite an increase - from 6 deaths in 1964 to 737 in 1998. It's worth noting that:

The highest rate of fatal overdose occurs in New South Wales. In 1998, overdose fatalities in NSW accounted for 48.6% of all fatal overdoses nationally.
That's why we ended up with a Drug Summit - heroin was killing a lot of people back then. One of the outcomes of the Summit was a safe injecting room in Kings Cross. The question is - did the safe injecting room make a difference? Did it materially reduce the number of deaths from heroin overdoses once it opened?

Heroin - part II

Why did we a supervised injecting room in Kings Cross? The answers can be found in the 60-odd pages of the 1999 paper The NSW Drug Summit: Issues and Outcomes. It's actually worth reading - it's well put together and it has input from a wide range of characters.

I had a good laugh reading the first few pages, as they catalogued a series of knee jerk reactions from the government of the day to adverse media reports. I'm old enough to remember the following photo:

On 31 January 1999, a photograph of a teenage boy engaged in injecting drug use in a lane-way in Redfern, appeared on the front page of a Sydney newspaper.  This acted as the catalyst leading to the establishment of the Summit.   In the articles which accompanied this photograph the age of the boy was given as 12 or 13 (he was subsequently identified and his age confirmed as being 16 ), and it was asserted that the injecting equipment was obtained from a near-by needle exchange (a NSW Department of Health report into the incident later revealed that the boy did not obtain any injecting drug equipment from the near-by needle exchange outlet ).  
The then Minister for Health, Hon A Refshauge MP, reacted by immediately closing down the needle exchange outlet, and ordering a review of the $9 million statewide needle exchange program
Not long after that:

On 25 February a youth welfare group, Open Family, announced its intention to open rooms in its Cabramatta and Footscray offices for young heroin users to inject drugs.  Open Family’s plan was partially supported by Footscray’s local council, but met widespread condemnation from other drug welfare groups and the  local community.   In Sydney the Carr government condemned the plan as ‘irresponsible, dangerous and illegal’. 
We then had an election on 27 March 1999, with Labor (led by Bob Carr) romping home against a rather useless Coalition.

Bob then convened the Drug Summit between 17 May and 21 May 1999. It's interesting to look back at the actions of the government just prior to the election, and what it actually did after that election.

Heroin - part I

Back in early May, Bob Carr wrote two pieces on his blog Thoughtlines about the safe injecting centre that was set up in Kings Cross during his tenure. You can read them here and here. I do enjoy Bob's blog, but he has a bad habit of leaving some of my comments in moderation forever - such as this one that I penned on the 12th of May.

But let's not get wrapped up in Bob's policy on comments. Maybe he's got better things to do these days than moderate comments from people like moi.

In his posts, Bob made a number of statements about the effectiveness of the injecting rooms. I thought I'd do a bit of reading and see how they stack up (yes, that's partly why I've been very quiet of late). Amongst other things, Bob wrote:

At the end of the 1999 drug summit convened by the government in parliament house two ministers, Craig Knowles and John Della Bosca, stood in my office with a proposal for a medically supervised injecting room and persuaded me. The ultimate argument ? It might just save lives – the lives of people who are using heroin until a time ( often their late 30s ) when they get sick of it and decide to make a break with that life. We need to sustaint them till they reach that point. 

The facility, as my government designed it, would be a gateway to treatment. It would mean paramedics would not be called to dark carparks or back alleys to rescue a victim of an overdose at the risk of needlestick injury to themselves. By taking injecting indoors it would mean the streets of Kings Cross would be improved.

There have been approximately 600,000 visits over 10 years. There are about 200 injections a day – that is, with medical supervision on hand, whereas without the centre…? 

To reinforce this point, the number of drug overdoses successfully managed stands at more then 3,500. 

Now this is also important : there have been more than 8,500 referrals for addiction treatment, mental health, homelessness or acute medical problems. We always envisaged this as a portal to treatment. 

There are 90 supervised injecting centers in the world but not all of them provide such a gateway to treatment. 

By the way, there is no evidence of a “honey pot” effect, drawing addicts to Kings Cross.
All those injections – 200 a day – would have taken place in public places or, at least, without access to medical intervention. Kings Cross had the highest concentration of drug overdose deaths in the country. 

Good policy or not?

It was the last line that got me - "Good policy or not?" I'm going to make a big assumption here - Bob's blog is generally followed by fellow travellers, so most are likely to agree with the idea that it was good policy. Since Bob pushed that policy, he would also think it was a fabulous idea. Trouble is, there are pernickety people like me out there that like to test these assertions using things like evidence and logic instead of feelings.

As I write this, I haven't made up my mind as to whether it was good policy or not - that will come out as I examine each bit of evidence that I've trawled up over the last few weeks. I'll take you through what I've found, and you can make your own mind up.

I've read through quite a lot of stuff over the last few weeks, and here's a short list of the most relevant ones:

Heroin Related Overdoses Position Paper - this is where the recommendation for the supervised injecting room came from

The NSW Drug Summit: Issues and Answers - a good summary from the NSW Parliamentary Library

High Risk Groups and Behaviours - this explains everything you ever wanted to know about heroin overdoses in NSW

Psycho-stimulant use, health and criminal  activity among injecting heroin users - how often do heroin users shoot up, and how much do they spend on drugs?

Estimating the number of current regular heroin users in NSW and Australia 1997-2002 - also includes data on death rates from overdoses

The impact of heroin dependence on long-term robbery trends - in case you were wondering how junkies fund their habit

Heroin Overdose: Prevalence, Correlates, Consequences and Interventions (2000) - another paper that recommended the establishment of the supervised injecting rooms

Cost of heroin - pretty self evident what this is about

Drug Law Enforcement Policy and its Impact on the Heroin Market - also shows the impact of heroin use on property crime

So there's a bit of light reading if you're interested in this topic. Most of the research is from the late 1990s or early 2000s - I couldn't find anything really up to date. Either no one is funding such research, or it's a work in progress. However, I doubt the behaviour of heroin users has changed much since 1999, so let's not get our knickers in a knot about the research not being hot off the press. Note that I was looking for research that was specific to NSW - there is tonnes of stuff out there about the experience of other countries, but I wanted to stay focused on NSW.

Monday 23 May 2011

I haven't gone out of business

I decided to do a bit of research into heroin a few weeks back, and the effort kind of put me off writing for a while. I'm still around - but my muse isn't. Service will resume shortly I'm sure.

Sunday 15 May 2011

This tickles my fancy

Jesus tells Archbishop to shut it

Squaregating Air Farce muppets

If there's one thing the Air Farce (and its cadets) can't do it's march in time without square gating. A whole bloody parade of them going up George St in the middle of the day - half out of step, the other half square gating. The bloke in front was the only one to swing his arm up properly - the rest waggled them lazily back and forth a few inches.

Christ on a bike, any one of the NCOs that I served with would have been roaring up and down this line of sad sacks turning the air blue with "suggestions". Ah, hang on. The most common suggestion made to a digger that couldn't march properly was "to join the fucking air force".

Wednesday 11 May 2011

New definition of "racist"

Bought a coffee this morning in a cafe. On the counter was a brochure for a coffee loyalty scheme iPhone app. You load the app, buy a coffee and then scan a barcode that's stuck on the counter - when you get to x number of coffees, the next one is free.

I asked the barista if many people were using it. The answer was "yes".

His next statement was a ripper though; "It's pretty racist though - it only works on iPhones".

We now have different races of smart phones?

Sunday 8 May 2011

Trees killed for no good reason

The kids have been watching the 1999 series of Walking With Dinosaurs. It was cutting edge computer graphics back then - it looks a bit clunky now, but it's still very good. I like Kenneth Branagh as a narrator.

I was so taken with this scene of a huge dinosaur pushing over trees, I just had to post it. Listen to what Kenneth has to say - they're not pushing over the trees in order to make furniture or floor boards or cardboard or paper. They're not even pushing them over to eat them. They're pushing them over to get at the ferns underneath.

Where's Greenpeace when you need them? Why aren't there bearded ferals running around the forest, chaining themselves to trees in order to stop this senseless slaughter of the forests? Is it ok for nature to thin the trees (as elephants still do today), but not ok for man to harvest them and put them to good use?

The next scene is all about a massive dinosaur fart - I've left that bit on the cutting room floor.

Saturday 7 May 2011

US Imperialism created Osama

So says this poster on George St. It's our old friends from the Socialist Alliance.

They sure were quick off the mark.

GetUp housing strike - what a stupid idea that was

Left wing media junky group GetUp (a clone of the US MoveOn group) had a stunt fall flat this week - a house buying strike.

(What is it with groups like GetUp, who generally hate the US, but copy every left wing idea that the US ever produces?)

Of course a house buying strike was going to fall flat, especially with GetUp members. Most GetUp members are baby boomer Canberra bureaucrats - in other words, just the sort of people who will own not only their own home, but possibly an investment property or two as well. They're the group that has benefited most from the housing price bubble in Australia. Self interest dictates that they're not going to poop in their own nest - they want house prices to continue to increase, thus increasing their retirement nest eggs.

Thursday 5 May 2011

Normally, I can't stand Leunig

But I just couldn't help touching up this rather notorious cartoon of his. Ironically, I lifted it from Antony Loonstein.

Maybe I will refrain from punching out idiot drivers

Cyclist admits manslaughter of grocer

A cyclist who killed a greengrocer in a road-rage attack has been told to prepare himself for jail.
Paul Lambeth, 35, pleaded guilty yesterday to the manslaughter of Tony Magdi, who died after a single punch to the head in Portland Road, Hove in November last year.
Mr Magdi was attacked as he opened his car door into the path of three cyclists, causing them to swerve out of the way.


Bugger me, it's tempting at times, but I'll just stick to waving my fist and swearing a lot.

Hold this thought

There are those that decry the execution of Bin Laden. They say that killing people never solved anything, and never got us anywhere.

If that's the case, why do terrorists kill people?

Terrorists want something - money, power, glory, fame, whatever. They believe that they will get what they want if they kill people. They believe killing people is an effective way to get things done, to solve problems, to get you closer to where you want to be.

So if terrorists believe that killing people is an effective solution to their problems, why is killing terrorists not an effective solution to our problems?

Welcome to the underclass

Great photos and video of how the underclass treats taxpayer supplied property. Great, as in everyone should have a good look at how some people live. It's disgusting and frightening.

Don't look it you are scared of cockroaches.

That obviously didn't go down very well

Hmm, no takers so far on my suggestion for a mardi gras float in next years parade.

I guess I'll have to tone it down a bit. Maybe the shotguns were a bit over the top, but they would have been useful for repelling boarders - particularly bearded fanatics with knives intent on lopping a few gay heads off.

So here's plan B.

I call it "Osama pig Laden".

We stick with the giant papier mache head, except do one of a pig's head on a platter (with an apple in its mouth - or a bomb if you prefer). Add a patented bin laden beard, and everyone will recognise it for what it is - Osama pig Laden.

You know it makes sense.

Wednesday 4 May 2011

Suggestion for 2012 Mardi Gras Organising Committee

My Dear Committee members

I'd like to share with you an idea I've had for a Mardi Gras float next year. You might recall that back in 2008, there was a float featuring Fred Nile's head (I think it had something to do with John the Baptist). There wasn't much outrage in the gay community when this float appeared, given that Fred had said some less than pleasant things about gays in the preceding years.

Well, someone that hated gays even more than Fred has been in the new lately, and I think it would be the perfect time to feature his head on a Mardi Gras float.

Yes, I'm taking about Osama Bin Laden. Fred was less than complimentary about gays in NSW; Osama was a very important person in a part of the world where they are regularly executed. If Fred deserved to be mocked by one flat, then Osama deserves to be mocked by an entire parade.

Here's my idea - build a papier mache Osama head and mount it on a pike on the back of a truck. Suspend a large, pink thong (as in flip-flop) over  his head with a hinge at the rear. The thong can then be waved up and down to beat him over the head - a terrible insult in Middle Eastern lands.

The head should be lined with bags of pig's blood. The dancers on the float, dressed in short-shorts with a Navy SEAL theme, can take turns blowing holes in the head with shotguns. By the end of the parade, the dancers and street will be liberally smeared in a mixture of pig's blood and Osama's remains. A few of the dancers might get carried away and simulate sex with some of the newly formed holes in Osama's head.

Police protection for the float shouldn't cost more than four or five million dollars - a price well worth paying for giving the gay community the opportunity to poke Osama and his minions in the eye.

Let me know what you think.


Tuesday 3 May 2011

I wonder...

Bin Laden got taken out just down the road from a number of Pakistani military installations. You have to wonder why there appears to have been no response from any of them when helicopters were buzzing around just down the road, and a firefight broke out.

Here's my take - I reckon the commanders of those installations all got a phone call shortly beforehand. The conversation probably went something like this:

*click* "Hello, Abbotobad Defence Academy, Colonel Islamonirimidad speaking".

"Listen carefully. My name is General Buck Turgidson. I command all the US Air Force assets in the Middle East. Right now, 80% of them are either circling around overhead, or doing racetrack patterns just over the border. There are more warthogs just down the road from you than there are clapped out, beaten up taxis in your town. I've got an entire wing of B-52s orbiting less than 10 minutes out.

"If you so much as open a gate to put the cat out, you and everyone else in your town will be falling as vapour droplets over India next time there is a monsoon.

"I'm told that Pakistan's Got Talent is showing tonight on Channel 5. I suggest you turn up the volume, and take that red phone on the corner of your desk off the hook.


Monday 2 May 2011

Osama is dead....

....so how long until we see a condolence motion from Marrickville Council?

Sunday 1 May 2011

I do like this

The Peoples Cube

I know someone who might appreciate this

It is two weeks before Easter Sunday and the sacristan has covered the statues in St Mary’s Cathedral with purple material bound tightly by diagonal black bands. Only these coloured outlines remain of our two new statues of the risen Christ and Mary Magdalene at the moment she recognises He is not the gardener. The English sculptor Nigel Boonham carved them from the Carrara marble used by Michelangelo, although the quality of our stone is better because of today’s more advanced extraction technology. My large claim is that these statues are worthy of Bernini, certainly of Canova.

After Mass and a breakfast meeting on ‘Coming Home’, our proposed media programme for retired Catholics and new Catholics, I meet with a delegation from St Lucy’s, Wahroonga, a school for children with severe intellectual disabilities. The principal explained their financial plight, an annual shortfall now running at about $500,000. One of the mothers asks whether our fund for disadvantaged children’s education could be used for St Lucy’s, although it is located outside the boundaries of the Archdiocese.

The young intellectually disabled should be counted among our first responsibilities, rather than granted something from what is left over and they too have a right to religion. We have no right to ask governments to shoulder all our financial burdens, but over some decades I have been part of delegations asking successive Commonwealth governments for significant increases in funding for disabled children. The economic return on such expenditure is almost non-existent, but we have a solemn duty of care. Neither can you put a monetary value on innocence and love. The Sydney Archdiocese will do more, but it won’t be enough.

(From The Spectator).