The Time Has Come (the Walrus said) Archives

Haneef and all that

Now the dust has settled, here’s a few thoughts about the famous Dr Haneef and the SIM card.

For years, we’ve had Little John and his Merry Men trumpeting about terrorism, passing a bunch of draconian laws about sedition, allowing people to being held without charge, and so on.

At the same time, this lot supported the invasion of Iraq with impassioned speeches in the Parliament about the evils of Saddam Hussein and his Weapons of Mass Deception Destruction.

Once it was proven that Iraq was a quagmire and winning the peace infinitely more difficult than winning the invasion, we’ve seen Iraq become the attractor of every disenchanted nutter, would-be terrorist, and general looney with a chip on their shoulder.

Little John and Co have insisted that being involved there would NOT make Australia a more attractive terrorist target, and have ridiculed, rubbished and demeaned anybody who suggests otherwise – including the head of the Federal police.

These same people have exploited these situations and the attendant fear (be A Lert, not A Larmed :) ), along with border control and the occasional Tampa, as a means of differentiating themselves from the Opposition.

In general terms, until recently the Opposition have taken an opposing view – not supporting the war, not supporting the changes to laws, wanting more humane treatment for asylum seekers, and so on.

The Government have exploited this difference, watering down the message and simplifying to something like “that lot are weak on border protection”, or whatever suits at the time.

In political speak, this is “The Wedge”. Bang something pointy between the two sides and then belt it for all its worth. The politicians and the community become polarised, and Howard and Co are masters at it.

Or more particularly, Labor were really BAD at playing the game.

Now we have Haneef, and we have a new leader for Labor.

This government have been itching to find a new BIG issue to make a polarised split (the wedge) between themselves and the opposition.

What better than a real genuine home grown terrorist?

And if we can’t grow one ourselves, why not so what Australia does so well, and just import one?

Now we’ve seen the new laws used, with the disgraceful treatment of seeing somebody – a guest in this country – locked up without charge for weeks, selective leaks to the media about his supposed crimes, and the capricious removal of his visa. During this, no wedge. The opposition supported the actions all along.

Finally, it’s all come unravelled. The Howard side’s dream of having their own terrorist to trot out and exploit for months leading up to an election has evaporated and they are left looking like a bunch of school-yard thugs.

You can just imagine their prayers each night: “Please please God, just give me a real terrorist that I can parade around and then lock up… please… please!”

The great shame so far is that to avoid The Wedge, Labor have supported the Government in their actions. Now they look stupid as well – the one time that if they’d gone out on a limb and made a boisterous opposition, then would have been right. Of course, it’s a high stakes game. If they’d things had gone the other way they would have looked a right bunch of dills.

Now the best the Opposition can do is call for an enquiry – a cunning move in some ways because they can target the people concerned, and if an enquiry were to start it can be used to keep the issue in the media for months.

But the Opposition still look like a bunch of toadies for supporting this all along, and they look shrill for calling for an enquiry once it’s unravelled.

So far, the score card from this whole sorry episode looks a bit like this:

  • Australia as a country: -50 points, looks like an anti-democratic bunch of terrified over-reactive whiners
  • Howard and co: -50 points, look like a pathetic bunch of lying two-faced nasty ogres
  • Labor opposition: -40 points, because they refused to let themselves get Wedged they gain a few points for cunning but they still make us look bad
  • Dr Haneef: +50 points – irrespective of his crimes or otherwise, he comes out smelling of roses, looking like the little guy who got beat up by the monster and survived. Treated as a hero in India, you can bet he’ll not be back to Australia in a hurry.

From this whole sorry exercise you can only conclude that the actions of the Government, aided and abetted by a compliant Opposition, have serve to highlight the insecurity of Australia, and the rampant paranoia of its people.

This action, along with the shrill rantings of our leaders over the last 10 years will continue to make Australia a terrorist target by raising our profile.

From all of this, we are LESS safe, nor more.

And in the meantime, the government continues to pray for some horrible catastrophe which will rally the great unwashed around, and aid their re-election.

Pathetic.

Spoiler

I have not yet got hold of the final Harry Potter story.

Wilma the Walrus has finished it, as has son #1.

I’m last in the queue after son #2.

In the meantime, here are my THEORIES (spoilers for what REALLY happens):

- It turns out that Malfoy the younger is actually Harry’s twin brother, he’s not evil, just misunderstood;

- Dumbledore was married to Bellatrix whatsername who done in Sirius Black;

- Snape is not really evil, he’s just doing a Jessica Rabbit* (he’s not bad, he’s just drawn that way);

- Ron finally gets to have a decent snog with Hermione (after all, we’ve been waiting for this for about 4 books now, let’s finally get it over with, or get it on, whatever);

- Crabbe and Goyle are not really evil either, they are just misguided and stupid;

- Dobby The House Elf on the other hand is as evil as they come and he’s a right nasty little toad;

- Voldemort is just a figment of Harry’s imagination, and if only Harry would stop imagining all this bad stuff then it would stop (such being the power of Harry’s mind and all that);

- Cornelius Fudge The Minister of Magic is both a total incompetent but (shock) he is also Harry’s secret father;

- When Harry wakes up he finds that he is not a wizard, he’s just had a really bad 7 book dream and he can go to plain ole school like anybody else, and tell everybody “Gee, I had a great dream last night”…

———

*Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Todays blatant rip-off – the death of personal responsibility

Ripped off from Crikey, who ripped it off from Felicty McMahon at Online Opinion:

(the abridged version)

The rising number of individuals seeking to blame the government for their struggling with mortgage repayments signals the death of people taking responsibility for their own choices.

It seems that every day there’s another story in the paper or on the news detailing the difficulties of Australian families battling to meet their mortgage repayments. On recent figures, apparently one in four Australian households with a mortgage is struggling to meet repayments.

This media attention comes despite the Australian economy showing all the signs of being one of the strongest economic periods in our history: near record low interest rates, sustained growth and almost full employment.
Given that we’re experiencing such excellent economic conditions, why do these stories on families battling to make mortgage repayments dominate our media attention?

Coupled with these stories is the astounding impact we’ve seen on the polls of late, with a staggering number of Australians blaming the Howard Government for their home mortgage problems. In response to the polls, Kevin Rudd has decided to, surprise surprise, hold another summit into housing affordability.

But why? What fault is it of the Howard Government that Australians, able to borrow more because of excellent economic conditions coupled with low interest rates, have decided to borrow too much and now find that their purses just won’t stretch to cover their McMansions, new cars and overseas holidays?

The fault of mortgagors increasingly struggling to meet their repayments rests not with the Howard Government at all, but with the borrower.

The problem is that people have simply taken on too much debt. As a Moody’s report outlined in March of this year (“Bad debt on the rise among home loan borrowers”, March 8, 2007, Sydney Morning Herald) “the availability of ‘easy money’ and a relaxation of lending rules had led to many Australian households incurring high levels of debt that were out of line with their ability to repay”.

In seeking a particular lifestyle or a new house while still maintaining the life the mortgagor had before taking out their loan, the household budget has just been stretched too far. People have bitten off more than they can chew.

We seem to have forgotten that it’s still the individual that decides where to live, which house to build or buy and therefore, how much debt is appropriate for the lifestyle that individual seeks to enjoy. The fact that so many Australians are in such high levels of debt is only their own fault.

Such commonsense seems to be beyond the media at the moment. And indeed, the average voter blaming the Howard Government for their financial woes.

In employment, in mortgages, in personal finances and debt, we witness the death of an important liberal principle – personal responsibility.

Could not agree more.

McMansions anybody?

How do these businesses make a buck?

So about 2 weeks ago the water heater packed up.

Quick phone call the following (Friday) morning, 8am, saw a new one being installed by 11am.

WELL DONE! to the plumbing company that came out and did it.

They took payment by credit card. After all, who has an idle $1300 lying around for that kind of expenditure? James Packer maybe, sure as heck not me.

So anyhow, they STILL have not charged that to my card!!

Are they a charity or something!?!?!?

The cost to a plumber of having that money outstanding must be huge.

The pain for m is that I only have a $2K limit on the card, and I have some other things I want to charge to it as well. I’ve set aside the money to pay it off the moment it hits the card a/c, I just wish they’d get on with it and I can stop checking the bank EVERY day!

Alex and Nick’s DAMN GOOD puttanesca

I work with Nick, and he sent me this a couple of years ago (argh. That long… sad).

I have finally made it.

I could not do it exactly as listed because of not having everything, so I improvised. Either way it’s DAMN GOOD.

Here is the before and after. Try it, try it!

——-

Original:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely sliced
2-3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1-2 small red chillis (we use the ones out of the tuna)
4 anchovy fillets
1tbsp tomato paste
400g tin tomatoes
2 tbsp capers
120g sliced Kalamata olives
2 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
185g tin tuna with chilli in oil (we use “Sirena” brand, since it usually has enough whole chilli in it to use) Fresh lemon for juice 500g spaghetti or linguine

Heat the oil in a large heavy based fry pan (preferably big enough to take all the ingredients and the pasta at the end).
Add the onion and cook it for ~5-6 minutes or until translucent.
Add the garlic, chilli, and anchovies and cook for about a minute.
Stir through the tomato paste and cook for another minute.
Add the tomatoes, breaking them up, capers, and olives, reduce the heat and leave to simmer for ~10 minutes or until it’s thick enough.
When the sauce is almost ready, cook the pasta however you like it.
To finish the sauce, flake in the tuna and warm it through. Add the parsely and a really good squeeze of lemon juice. Drain the pasta and tip it all into the sauce and stir it to mix it through thoroughly.

The secrets are to use the full 1/4 cup of good extra virgin oil, and a real good squeeze of lemon juice at the end.

———

My version (pretty much using fresh tomato instead of tinned, but dried parsley)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely sliced
3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon of minced chilli from a jar
4 anchovy fillets, chopped
3 large Roma tomatoes, finely chopped
1 sachet tomato paste
2 tbsp capers
about a handful of roughly chopped Kalamata olives
about a teaspoon dried parsley
180g tin tuna in springwater
Fresh lemon for juice
500g spaghetti or linguine

Heat the oil in a large heavy based frypan.
Add the onion and cook it for ~5-6 minutes or until translucent.
Add the garlic, chilli, and anchovies and cook for about a minute.
Add the chopped Roma tomatoes, and cook for about 10 minutes.
Start cooking your pasta.
Add the tomato paste, capers, and olives, reduce the heat and leave to simmer for ~10 minutes or until it’s thick enough.
To finish the sauce, drain the tuna, flake it in the tuna and stir it through. Add the parsley and a really good squeeze of lemon juice. Let it cook for another minute or so.
Drain the pasta, tip it back into the pot, and tip all into the sauce in. Stir it to mix it through thoroughly.
Serve with an Italian red wine or a rosé.

(A Dominic Versace Rosé went REALLY well with it).

Yesterdays Hero

When this kind of thing starts becoming commonplace, perhaps Little Johns time really is up:

Nicholson’s animation, from The Australian.

Lithium Batteries

Hint of the week:

DO NOT heat lithium coin cell batteries.

I was trying to solder a wire onto one. (Long story. Grr.)

When those coin cell batteries get too hot, they explode. Scared the hell out of me!

Jass-what?

This morning I went to get the occasional fix of baguettes (aka stick-bread) for breakfast.

The girl in the shop had her name badge on: Jassmyn.

Really.

I was tossing up between screaming, throwing up, and asking her if a name like that hurt. I decided silence was perhaps the most polite response.

Seriously, who in their right mind would name a child like that?

For heavens sake parents, learn how to spell names properly.

Next failure

No, not politicians.

The inevitable happened last night – we were all out, came home to find no hot water in the shower. Yes – the hot water heater has sprung a leak, water all over the ground.

The approximate price for a new one, fully installed is about $1300. :(

Should be installed today, all going well.

There is a lesson in this: ALWAYS have a bank account stuffed full of cash. You might need great lumps of it in an emergency. Or there are always credit cards. :(

Please Mr Howard

Blatantly ripped off from Lavartus Prodeo:

Just press the play-looking button.

Todays contradictions

Reading in the newspaper this morning, two articles.

Article #1: Promoter Glenn Wheatley has admitted tax evasion through use of offshore trusts and tax havens. The prosection want him sent to prison. In 1994/95 he apparently failed to declare $256410. So far the tax office have spent $305 million in this investigation and this is the only prosecution to get anywhere – so far. The advisor was a Philip Egglishaw – a Channel Islands accountant.

Article #2: Pengana Absolute Return Real Estate Fund made use of Philip Egglishaw’s brother David, a Cayman Islands based provider of tax services. The Pengana Absolute Return Real Estate Fund is a managed fund available for the use of Australian Investors. It is apparently based in the Cayman Islands (a tax haven), and Pengana was set up by Malcolm Turnbull and others. No impropriety is associated with Mr David Egglishaw, or Pengana.

(References: Weekend Financial Review – Page 3, and Page 11).

But this begs the question: Why is it not OK for an individual to siphon money offshore without paying tax, but it is OK for an investment banker to set up an offshore fund in a tax haven for use by the public – and then go on to become a cabinet minister? And then try to teach the treasurer a few tricks about raising tax!!!! Have I missed something?

Ha ha caught out!

Brendan Nelson has been furiously backpedalling, after admitting publicly that Australia is in Iraq to secure the supply of oil !!!

Oops, bet he’ll be in trouble with the headmaster now!!

*** EDIT – 7-Jul: Anonymous Lefty is amused.

%#$%@ meetings

I spent all of Monday sitting in a meeting, one of many like this over the years.

In these meetings there are always very senior people who bring their laptops, then we have 1/2 hour delay (or more) while they find power cables, figure out there are no LAN patch cables and get some, find a hub or switch, set it up, call MIS to get somebody in… blah blah blah.

All this time, all these highly paid people are futzing around. Sometimes they have travelled 1/2 way around the world to waste time like this.
Then finally the meeting gets going and those who don’t really want to be there tune out and use that expensive futzing around to surf the net, look at stuff they brought with them, or read their email.

Yesterday I was furious. I don’t have a laptop so I sit their with my old-fashioned pen and diary (aka Woodware), take occasional notes, and PARTICIPATE.

If people come to meetings they should bloody well participate or go away. Doing other things like reading emails is a waste of everybody elses time, and it’s RUDE.

F^$#ing evil laptops should be banned from meetings. The meetings might then be shorter, and more might get done.

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