The Time Has Come (the Walrus said) Archives

Today at the Financial Crisis Party

Yesterday, the party was a blast.

Gee we had fun.

The Chinese were behind the bar serving drinks, and every time we went back the prices got lower and lower. (Sometimes the beer was watered, and I shudder to think of the melamine that ended up in the whiskey, but hey, that’s market economies, right?)

The beer miners were in a corner, whooping it up. Mr Rio Tin-tin, and his pal Mr B. By-the-ton were gloating about how every last skerrick of beer they dug up could be sold  to the Chinese behind the bar, at higher and higher prices. The wanna-be beer miner, Mr Wood, was in on the act as well. His game was to rush around behind the big beer miners, dig a few holes, find some murky ground water and pass it off as beer. The Chinese wouldn’t notice, would they?

The bankers were in another corner, figuring out schemese where they could sell the beer before it was dug up. Then they got some really bright ideas and decided they could sell the empty bottles to some guys outside the party wanting to get in, only the empty bottles were disguised as full ones. A couple of fancy names helped. You should have heard the roar of laughter when “Beer Default Swaps” was suggested! And “Securitised Beer Obligations” had them going so hard they were crying.

The speculators were in another corner, egging on the beer miners and the bankers. The miners and bankers thought their enterprises were so good they formed corporations and sold shares to the speculators, who ignored what the businesses actually did. They traded the shares between themselves and pushed the prices higher and higher – much to the amusement of the miners who pissed themselves laughing.

The great unwashed wanted the music turned up louder, and demanded a few mirror balls, dancing girls, and Kylie Minogue. Somebody was sent out at midnight to try and find them all. They failed, but came back with a ute-load of corporate regulators who joined the mad scramble at the bar, demanding drinks.

Thinks got really ugly when some of the miners and most of the bankers decided to make the whole operation more “efficient” by dispensing with the bottles and glasses, and just sticking their heads directly under the draught beer tap. When questioned they said “PISS OFF, ITS BONUS TIME AND WE DESERVE THIS. YOUR TURN LATER.”

Then some neighbour called the cops.

The bankers gathered in a circle, grabbed all their money, looked really really serious and said “go away, you can’t have any of this, its OURS”. The bankers pushed half their group out, saying “sorry you lot, nice knowing you, we had a blast”, and those left agreed among themselves the speculators were a bunch of bastards for ending the party.

The speculators stopped trading the miners stocks. Lack of demand and basic economics meant that the miners stock prices promptly fell. The speculators then turned on each other and started a huge fight. After the blood, snot, and hair had been flung in all directions they stalked off in a huff and blamed the bankers for ending the party.

The miners stood around looking dazed, told Mr Wood to piss off and get serious, and decided to try and screw the Chinese behind the bar one more time anyhow, figuring that hey – the party isn’t over yet, right? Right?

The Chinese behind the bar looked at the turmoil, decided nobody was buying beer anymore, and it was time to shut up shop. When the flow of beer stopped, EVERYBODY then blamed the Chinese for ending the party.

The corporate regulators blinked in the bright lights, and did the finger pointing act: both hands pointing in opposite directions: “It was his fault. I didn’t stop the party. I wasn’t REALLY asleep in the corner, it just looked that way. I was monitoring the beer consumption REALLY CAREFULLY. Really.”

And Joe Public, outside, finally looked at those beer bottles they’d been buying off the bankers and realised they were empty.

“Dudded!” they screamed. “Those bastards have sold us empties. We believed all that stuff about them being as good as a real one in spite of funny names… like a Collateralised Securitised Beer Swap Obligation… everybody knew that was just a full bottle.”

And the bankers shook their heads NO wisely, but wouldn’t give anybody their money back. “No”, they said, “You see, we need that money for ourselves. And besides, you DID read the product disclosure statement, didn’t you? 150 pages should have been sufficient for you to know what you bought. Caveat Emptor, and all that.”

The police rounded every body up, and then decided that a special bail-out beer package was needed. A hair-of-the-dog. Easily paid from the special reserve they had been taking earlier in the evening in the form of a beer-tax. What goes around comes around, right?

Joe Public wanted to use his beer allowance to drink half, and pay half back to the bankers to service his loans. The miners were still off drunk, in some land of delusions, the speculators were passed out under a table and not interested. And the bankers said “Sure. We need a bail out. After all, we have to get OUR beer bonus from somewhere”.

AND NOW KIDDIES… you know why the world is in the hung-over, bleary-eyed mess it is today.

Not good enough

To recall why this series is here, go to this original post.

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This is in the garden, inside the fence, around a large building occupied by a prominent German company.

Good enough for Berlin. Not good enough for Tea Tree Gully.

Straya Day comin up

Right all youse bogans, i hopes youse been payin good attenshun to all them adverts from mr rudd an the guvinmen. Cos its awstraya day comin up and we hafta have a barbie and burn chops. Cos the govermin adverts say so. And kev is da man.

I really don’t get all the horrible fake nationalist jingoism thats sprung up about Australia Day. And I doubly dislike some dipstick in the government spending my tax dollars on advertisements exhorting me to more nationalist crap. Excessive, frequent, and obvious nationalism has something rather unpleasant, even abhorrent about it. Perhaps it’s too close to American behaviour, or perhaps it’s just that strong nationalism has so often led to wars.

Bah Humbug to Straya Day.

Though this does remind me, about 20 years ago when I worked for the Guvmint doing very secret things… back in the days when envelopes from any government agency still bore “O.H.M.S.” (*)… I was one of a few lucky ones who went off to field trial some equipment I’d been helping to design and build.

We spent about 10 (or 14… can’t remember) days deep in the Flinders Ranges at this time of year. Every day was very, very hot – typical in-shade temperatures in the middle of the day were around the 40 to 45 degree mark.

Anyhow, we would leave each day for the work site, typically about 6, or maybe 6:30 am with an hours drive to arrive, work through until about 6pm, and drive back to the Wilpena motel.

This continued through weekends, after a week we knew all the staff at the motel and had eaten every single item on the dining room menu. Some of the other people staying there got curious, about this bunch of blokes who would be off at the crack of dawn each day, and back in the evening. Some little Irish fellow asked what we were doing, and quick as a flash one of the other guys replied “taking soil samples to locate ground water”. He went away satisfied, though this was about as far from the truth as you could get.

The long days continued through Australia Day, though we did make an exception: We took breakfast outside, sat around a table, and about 7 am sang, very loudly “Happy Birthday to You” (being Happy Birthday Awstraya). Then we nicked off for the day, back out to work again.

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(*) O.H.M.S. is not some kind of government tribute to Georg Ohm, after whom the unit of electrical resistance is named, and who in turn gave  us Ohms Law – the foundation on which much of Electrical, Electronic, and Communication engineering is based. (Though James Clerk Maxwell is probably better credited with the ultimate foundation for all of electrical and electronic engineering, but that’s another story entirely.)

No, O.H.M.S. stood for “On Her Majesties Service”. (And now you can see where the James Bond title of many years ago sprang from – a logical extension, “On Her Majesties Secret Service”.)

Not good enough…

Some of you may be aware (but I bet most of you are not) that in our local council district where I live there is an annual council-sponsored and run art exhibition.

During 2008, there were 2 works of art banned because they were deemed to be “too lewd”. That’s right folks, they showed a NAKED FEMALE BREAST.

Never mind that art and artists have been showing boobs for the last 2000 years, its not been good enough for the City of Tea Tree Gully.

So folks, while away in Europe during 2008, we found a few public works of art, or sculpture, or just plain ole stuff, that is NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR TEA TREE GULLY.

Here is episode 1, and I plan on a new photo each week, for quite a long time to come yet.

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Look carefully on the top right hand side. The Shipwrights Arms pub – near London Bridge.

Good Enough for London. Not Good Enough for Tea Tree Gully.

Net Censorship

Our glorious leaders have been banging the drum of Internet Censorship for some time. 

This all began many years ago with Senator Harradine & Richard Alston, but with the change of government the baton seems to have well and truly passed to Senator Conroy.

Mike Fitz has explained, eloquently, the myriad problems with what is being proposed.

The proposals:

- Won’t work

- Will give a false sense of security

- Will block meaningful content by mistake (the problem of false positives)

- Will cause greater expenses to be borne by ISPs who will pass it on to US

- Will make all internet speeds slower

This madness seems to be pushed by a small number of interest groups. But the Rudd government has shown itself already to be hugely susceptible to interest groups. Remember the Bill Henson photo’s business of mid-late 2008?

If people are so concerned about inappropriate content being found on the internet by children, they have 2 options: 1. TALK TO THEIR CHILDREN! Supervise and explain what’s right and what’s not. 2. Install a local parental filter at home where it does the most good at the least cost to anybody else.

I really wonder what on earth is going on in this Labor Party we elected.

I just finished reading a book called “Underground” – a bit dated now, but about an Australia in 2020 with a continuation of the Howard govt. Censorship is the way, as is control, exclusions zones, permanent war. It’s like 1984 but set in Australia in 2020.

The trouble with it is, everything in this book is eerily credible. Even the names that have been chosen to shock have actually come to pass. In the book, people are controlled by “The Department of Citizenship”.

I just recently found that the former Dept of Immigration is now “The Department of Immigration and Citizenship”.

We are not all that far removed (and actually never are) from the imposition of police-state rules.

The really sad thing is that this is being pushed hard by Labor. The same Labor formed to defend the rights of the people in the shearers strikes, the legacy of the same people who stood up for what’s right at Eureka. The same Labor who managed to kill off the Menzies constitutional change to outlaw the Communist Party.

This Labor Government we have is not Labor. It’s the Liberals in drag.

Rudd Labor: FAIL.

Wots in a name, then

Fellow blogger, Redcap, has categorised some of the modern wierdo spellings of children’s names as “SBG” names.

SBG means Shallow Bush Grave – the idea being that people with names like “Penzy Mae”, or “Shaniquwaah” seem to end up in the news, after being found buried in a Shallow Bush Grave.

Go over HERE and read all about it.

Well… somebody took exception, emailed her, and she’s had a suitable reply.

Strange though this might seem, I’ve just finished reading a fascinating book: “Freakonomics”, by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. The sub-title, appropriately enough is “A rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything”.

The book covers a few topics, including school teachers who cheat in standardised tests (and how they were caught using statistical analysis), and “why is it that if drug dealers make so much money, so many live at home with their parents?”.

But the topic that really caught my attention was a rather long chapter on children’s names and their long term prospects and educational outcomes.

The study group is large, and comparisons are made in the changes over time to conventional, as well as unconventional, names.

The important conclusions from this are:

- children with strange names – be that odd spellings (JassMyn for Jasmin), or just unconventional (DeShawn) tend to be indicators for parents with low levels of education.

- children with strange names tend to have poorer outcomes.

- you can’t determine causality:

In some cases, the name IS USED to judge a person when applying for jobs and so on. If you can’t in the high door because of a strange name, you only get the low-door opportunities.

But in some cases, the poor outcomes for children are simply reflecting the poor outcomes their parents had, which is correlated with the level of the parents education.

(Which came first? Strange name caused a setback? Or a poor choice of parents caused a setback AND a strange name?)

So Redcap might not like the strange names. And some parents will get terribly defensive about their choice of strange names. In spite of the difficulties of causality, if a parent wants their children to do well in life there are some things that can help:

- don’t give a strange name with weird pronunciation or spelling. It just makes the kid have a life of unneeded torment.

- encourage as much education as possible.

- and if you are well educated as well, even better.

You’ll love @#$^@#

No I damn well won’t.

T’other half went to a Coles supermarket the other day (somewhere we don’t normally go… when you own a few Woolworths shares bought in 1989, you shop at woolies… what goes around, comes around).

ANYHOW… suddenly there have appeared on the kitchen bench a few bottles of  You’ll Love Coles WATER.

Buying bottled water at the best of times makes makes my blood boil. Bottled water might be Ok in a country where the tap water is bad, in Australia it is just a sign of excessive affluence. In Adelaide, maybe there is a vague excuse, the tap water DOES taste like crap. (Seeing as it comes from the Murray, and IS the effluent discharged by NSW and Victoria, and every country town along the way, this is hardly surprising.) But even in Adelaide, the tap water tastes a whole lot better if you fill a jug and let it stand 24 hours.

Anyhow, the rest of the family had been out walking and must have needed a drink. Normally, we’d buy a bottle of anything maybe a couple of times a year, keep the bottle and refill it from the rainwater tank. So they must have been caught short and had to buy some. Sigh.

ANYHOW… looking at the bottles, I’m struck by 2 things.

The first is the picture of “Elysha” who supposedly drinks 2 litres per day. Presumably of “You’ll love Coles” water. Clearly Elysha is a dimwit and pillock, firstly for a bizarrely spelled name, and secondly for spending 1/2 a kings ransom on Coles Bottled Water! Gag. Some marketing type should be shot for that.

And the second is that I would never, ever, knowingly buy anything branded “You’ll Love Coles”. I know it might be the house brand. But its naff. How condescending. How positively gag-retch-chuck making. “You’ll Love Coles” screams B.. O.. G..A..N.. from a thousand paces. Blerk. No wonder Coles have been struggling for years if this is the best they can do. For that one as well, some marketing type should be shot.

I won’t love Coles. Ever. And telling me I will makes me more determined than ever not to. Sod Off.

Posting the poo

Seen in one of the Parks around London, this bears an uncanny resemblance to a post box, you know, the sort for posting letters.

You post something else, here. Good thing it’s painted a different colour. I guess the white doggy on the side helps.

Really, though, you don’t want to think too much about some of what could be posted here.

The ReadyNAS is ready for take off

Just before Christmas I bought a NetGear ReadyNAS Duo.

Wots a ReadyNAS? It’s a thingy you plug onto you local network. If you have an ADSL modem or router, then you have a local network. You just need a spare RJ-45 jack to plug it into.

The ReadyNAS, in its most basic form, just gives you a location you can copy files to with oodles of storage. It can be tizzed up to do all sorts of other things (like serve a blog or a picture gallery out over the internet, without a need to keep a PC running).

$499 from Officeworks is the best price I could find anywhere, it gets a machine with 500 GB of storage and room for a second hard drive. Putting the second drive in does not double the storage, it means you store 2 copies of everything in the ReadyNAS, so that in the event of a single drive failure you have another copy sitting there. You can buy another 500 GB drive for about $100 from most computer shops.

I’ve been worried for some time about the hard drive in the PC dying. Seeing as we have zillions of digital photos, and backup is a pain, then the possibility of a disk failure leading to loss of all our photos is very real. And disks do fail. Back when I was a small network system administrator we used to bet on about 1 disk drive in 30 failing, once a year.

The other neat thing about the ReadyNAS is it comes with a program to automagically copy everything you tell it to onto the ReadyNAS and then monitor your main disk for changes, and copy them as well.

The only trouble is, the program supplied with the ReadyNAS to do this task is, well, not all that flash. It does weird stuff. It misses some files (typically a few hundred in every 30,000 files). It crashes now and again with strange errors. And it’s slow and makes the computer run s..l..o..w.

So, folks, I’ve written a replacement program: QuickShadow.

You can download the installer here:

http://wallythewalrus.com/downloads

Noted

You have to check this – needs broadband – a lot of broadband.

What you can get up to with 280,000 post-it notes, from the diet-coke and mentos guys.

Barely a Quantum and not much Solace

We went to see “Quantum of Solace” a few days ago.

What a disappointment.

Where do I start?

Where is the wit and humour? No jokes, no puns, no witty one-liners. 

Where was Q and the gadget factory? The only gadgets here were the phone (OK, it was pretty cool), and the table-surface-info-screen thingy used by M’s rent-a-geek. So somebody finally found a use for the “table-surface user interface. Wheeee!

This film had loads of action. So much damn action that I got lost in it. The good and bad guys all looked much alike, and half the time the minor players were on screen for such a short time that it was impossible to remember what they looked like or who they were, or whose side they were on.

Daniel Craig spent the whole time giving one of his 3 trade-marked looks: Insolent, Insulted, or Injured. That last one was easy to tell because of blood. The other two are hard to tell apart. He’s wooden. Can we have a real Bond, now, please?

The film is 106 minutes, and should have been 10 to 15 minutes longer. The must be hundreds of feet of film sitting on the cutting room floor. Either that or we have a “directors cut” in the wings.

Things that were cut were important: like a warning going off in the aeroplane: we get a brief shot of a warning lamp flashing but no time at all to read the text around it. We need to know! Does this mean low fuel, too low, bad guy behind you? It’s important!!

The locations were scattered all over the world, and we had brief introductions to each location with a 1950’s style text appearing “Bolivia”, “Moscow” and so on. But how did he get there? And in half the cases, why the heck was he there at all? It was not even clear why some of the locations were important.

I’m going to have to watch Casino Royale again, and then this, again. After 2 or maybe 3 viewings, it might begin to make sense. Perhaps I’ll wait for that Directors Cut.

2 out of 5.

And a score of 1 out of 5 for Hoyts Tea Tree Plaza, who could not figure out how to keep the theatre lights OFF for the duration of the film. Bringing the house lights up 1/2 an hour from the end is not a good idea. Flicking them on and off, and bringing the cleaning lights up is even worse. All cinemas struggle to get more than 3 out of 5 from me – lousy seating, poor cleaning, and way-expensive ice-creams do not aid their cause. At least keep the bloody lights turned off during the screening!

I see, I see

Today I defrosted the freezer.

The chaps have been looking forward to this day for the last week, becuase they get the “snow”.

Oldest son helped out, but as soon as there were two plastic bowls of icey frost, he was off like a shot. He, youngest son, and the son from next door spent the next 3/4 hour running after each other hurling ice.

Defrosting the freezer: costs nothing but your time, and provides the kids with an hour of zero-cost entertainment.

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In other exciting news, I reviewed (very briefly) the regualar comment spam that I get bombarded with here. There are quite a few spammers trying to get nibbles (!) on sites for Paris Hilton nude.

Why?

Paris Hilton is quite unattractive. Especially the dead-eyed look.

Bizarre.

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