Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Commonwealth Environment Minister is smoked out.

From the transcripts of Lateline

So now that the Government has actually picked winners to fund, in both the solar and coal fired power technologies, what's their actual potential? The Minister joins us now from Perth.

TONY JONES: Is this the one occasion when you can proudly say that the Government's initiative is all about smoke and mirrors?

Ha Ha Ha. I wonder how long it took to come up with that one. Finally a real smoke and mirrors project.

Party Political Boredcast


Editors Disclaimer: This is a statement of the bleedin' obvious.

A Bird? A Plane? A Trampoline!!!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Get Out Get Out (Stupid Pigeon)

No more needs to be said.

Bottle Recycling Levy set to rise in South Australia

The South Australian Government wants to increase refunds on drink containers by up to 15 cents - raising the nation's only container deposit legislation - despite a productivity commission report which found kerbside recycling was cheaper and more effective.

The plan to double or triple the refund on glass and plastic bottles, cans, juice and milk containers has raised the ire of drink manufacturers, which have funded the scheme for 31 years. They claim the move will force them to increase prices to cover their costs.

Premier Mike Rann yesterday called for public comment on plans to increase container deposit levies to 10c or 20c - up from the 5c levy introduced in 1975.

"We're doing this because obviously, with inflation, the 5c value has diminished over time," Mr Rann said. "The scheme is incredibly popular. It's great for the environment and of course it means so many charities and people get money back."

South Australia is the only state to offer a recycling refund scheme. On average, residents return 420million glass bottles, cans, plastic bottles, fruit juice and milk containers annually. But despite up to 90 per cent of drink bottles, cans and cartons being recycled, Mr Rann said 8000 tonnes of containers still went into landfill each year.

Environment Minister Gail Gago said recycling helped reduce greenhouse gasses.

"The savings on the current levels of aluminium-can recycling at present is the equivalent to removing about 2500 cars off our roads, it's about 20-odd thousand barrels of oil," she said.

But Coopers Brewery managing director Tim Cooper yesterday told The Australian his company was alarmed at the prospect of either a 5c or 15c increase.

"We wouldn't be able to absorb that extra amount within the cost of beer," Dr Cooper said. "It would be $1.20 or $3.60 more per carton."

Dr Cooper was concerned the increased cost would create a greater parity between the prices of beer, wine and spirits. Wine and spirits are not subject to recycling levies. "When the consumer goes to a bottle shop, does he buy beer, or does he buy wine or spirits?" he said. "The beer is going to be more expensive. The difference is quite significant."

The productivity commission found in May that introducing container deposit schemes was "typically costly", would only be justified for products that had a high social cost of illegal disposal and was "unlikely" to be the most cost effective means for reducing waste.

"Kerbside recycling is a cheaper option for recovering resources, while general anti-litter programs are likely to be a more cost-effective way of pursuing litter reduction," the report found.

However, Mr Rann "totally rejected" the premise of the commission's argument, saying: "We don't care what the productivity commission finds, this legislation works, it works exceedingly well and people want it."

Not too keen to spend more on beer to fund this programme, which is incredibly well supported already. Most people just do kerbside recycling, which is much more established now in South Australia. This achieves the same end result. Why not wine, which is very popular here in Australia and why not have these programmes in other Australia states.

Burquad Barbie

My daughter is about the same age as this little girl. I am sure she would do the same thing if she was veiled. I just love the blue eyed dolly.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

I'm a bodily kinesthetic kind of a guy

Your Dominant Intelligence is Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence

You are naturally athletic and coordinated, good at making your mind and body work together.
Sports are fun and easy for you, especially those requiring good hand - eye coordination.
There's also a good chance you're a great dancer, or good at expressing yourself through body language.
You learn best by doing, and you feel like you've always got to be moving (even if it's just your hands).

You would make a good athlete, physical education teaches, dancer, actor, firefighter, or artisan.

PE Teacher? Firefighter? Dancer? ...I don't think so.

Yanqui Policy Options in Iraq

From The Age

Sepp says Sorry to Socceroos

World soccer boss Sepp Blatter has offered Australian fans an apology and said the Socceroos should have gone through to the World Cup quarter-finals instead of Italy.

Millions of Australians were stunned on June 26 when Spanish referee Luis Medina Cantalejo awarded Italy a dubious penalty against defender Lucas Neill in the dying seconds of its final-16 encounter with Australia.

Fans were disgusted at what appeared to be a dive by Italy's Fabio Grosso to win the penalty that took his team to the quarter-finals en route to the World Cup.

Governing body FIFA stood accused of turning a blind eye to the problem of diving and faking injuries, or simulation.

In an interview to be aired on The World Game at 2pm on SBS today, Blatter concedes referees at this year's cup finals "were not at their best" but said the antics of players was the real problem.

"I think there was too much cheating on the players' side," Blatter said.

Interviewer Les Murray then told Blatter millions of Australians had been "shocked by the amount of simulation" at the World Cup.

"I agree with them and I would like to apologise (to) our fans in Australia," Blatter said.

Neill welcomed Blatter's apology but warned the situation appeared to be getting worse. "It's pleasing to see FIFA is at last acknowledging and paying more attention to the issue," he said.

Blatter praised the Socceroos.

"They were great," he said. "The Socceroos … should have gone into the quarter-finals because they were up to beating Italy."

As a Scotsman, I can identify with these kinds of moral victories. Interesting but irrelevant. Pretty much what the North Vietnamese Colonel in peace talks at the end of the Vietnam war said to the American Colonel who claimed that the North Vietnamese had never beaten the Yanks in battle. History will always show that Italy went on to win the World Cup in 2006.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Ozone Hole still getting bigger

Just when we thought it was getting smaller, the hole in the ozone layer has reached record proportions.

Between 21 and 30 September, the average area of the hole reached 27.5 million square kilometres (4 times the area of Australia), according to scientists monitoring ozone levels over the South Pole using NASA's Aura satellite and balloon-borne instruments. This marks an increase of roughly 3.9 million square kilometres from last year.

The blip is due to colder-than-average stratospheric temperatures in the preceding months, explains atmospheric scientist Paul Newman at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Although human production of substances that damage the ozone layer has dropped, the gases are still at peak levels in the stratosphere, and lower temperatures enhance the reactions that produce ozone-depleting chlorine and bromine. We won't see the effects of the drop until about 2024 because the gases have such a long lifetime, says Newman.

"The good news is that human activity isn't making the hole any worse," says Newman. "But we are vulnerable to changes in the weather and that's bad news for people living in the southern hemisphere."

From New Scientist

Friday, October 27, 2006

Answers to Important Questions (that you never thought would be asked)

Is Vegemite Banned in the United States?And what's in it, anyway?

Australians living in the United States are spooked because of rumors of a ban on Vegemite. Recent media reports from Down Under have claimed that U.S. customs officials have started searching for the spread. The U.S. government denies that the Aussie delicacy will be banned. What's in Vegemite, anyway?

A lot of yeast. Vegemite is a brown, salty paste made of leftover brewers' yeast mixed with vegetables and spices. Australians and New Zealanders often spread it on toast with butter. The taste is strong and bitter, so the spread, which has a consistency similar to margarine, is used very lightly.

The rumors about a possible Vegemite ban stem from the spread's high concentration of folate, a water-soluble B vitamin. Folate is a vital nutrient that, among other things, helps form red blood cells and prevents neural tube defects in fetuses. Artificial folate, also known as folic acid, is highly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, though, and only approved for use in a few foods (such as breakfast cereals). But since Vegemite's folate is naturally occurring—brewers' yeast contains several B vitamins—it is not banned in America. (Nutritionists typically use "folate" when referring to the naturally occurring vitamin and "folic acid" for the synthetic version.)

Wow scary stuff. Perhaps it is perceived to be potential constituent of a liquid bomb.

And that is the word of the Rumsfeld

The top US general defended the leadership of US War Jihadist Donald Rumsfeld, saying it is inspired by God.

"He leads in a way that the good Lord tells him is best for our country," said Marine General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

I just want to know Which God? This is what you hear from people with mental illnesses. "God told me to do it" If I was religious, more likely Satan. The man and all those people around him are certifiably nuts. Queue more death and destruction as God seeks to impose his will on all those anti Mericans out there.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

We Plough the fields and Scatter


Seeing the picture of Canola reminded me of the vibrant yellow fields of Canola you see in many parts of Scotland, where it is grown for oil and as a crop rotation. Here in Oz, a Victorian farmer who uses his own farm crops to power his vehicles tells us how he's avoiding the surging cost of fuel.

Growing your own fuel is not such a ridiculous concept for Steven Hobbs, farmer working the land at Kaniva, eighty kilometres west of Dimboola near the Victorian/South Australian border. He's gone into production of his own bio-diesel fuel to beat the rising commercial fuel prices. "My experience began... five years ago when I was first exposed to the idea of growing bio-diesel as a farmer," he says. "Initially it started as a philosophical statement... I believe in farmers making themselves more sustainable."

The material Steven uses to produce his own fuel is found in his own backyard. "Being a farmer I actually already grow it. I grow canola... and traditionally [farmers have] sold it into... [the] human consumption market," he says.

Let's make fuel production a part of your crop rotation... it's just a matter of looking at an old idea in a new way...

But what is bio-diesel fuel? What are the advantages?

"Essentially bio-diesel is a modified vegetable oil. A chemical process that's used to remove the glycerol component from the molecule... essentially transforms the vegetable oil into a... renewable fuel... that has very much the same characteristics as conventional fossil diesel, except it has the advantages of reducing emissions up to 60 per cent. And it's also a renewable source of energy," he says.

Yet the idea of renewable energy is not new to Australian farmers. "It's not a new idea - every farmer in Australia used to do it, they used to allocate 25 per cent of their cropping area for oats to cut for horses. Horses were organic tractors, if you want to put it that way," he says.

The idea of using vegetable oil as fuel has its roots in Europe. German engineers have developed a dual tank system, where diesel or bio-diesel fuel is kept in the main tank and vegetable oil is kept in a second tank. The motor heats the vegetable oil for use and the driver can then switch between their main tank and the vegetable oil tank. "There are over five thousand cars in Germany running this two tank system," he says.

How hard is it to go through this process? "It's not that hard... it's not beyond the capacity of the person to be able to perform it..." he says.

For Steven, the current global trend upwards in fuel prices provides great incentive for Australian farmers to get in on the fuel market, and to help reduce fossil emissions contributing to the greenhouse effect.

"[Let's] make fuel production a part of your crop rotation... it's just a matter of looking at an old idea in a new way," he says.

One of our subcontractors recently retrofitted his drilling rig to run on biodiesel. I keep meaning to catch up with him to find out how it is going and where he buys his biodiesel. I have yet to notice it in my periodic trips to the bank emptying station to fill up the car. At work, our Risk Assessment expert told me that there are some health risks with biodiesel. Not sure what they are, but I am sure that in the scheme of things they are not too dangerous. And there is no tax (at this scale)!

Wanna Be Santa?

Today in Adelaide, formal training for this years Santa's was taking place. The employment company that has been providing Santas to Adelaide establishments for over 40 years was getting the season of ho ho hoing going. Interesting insights include the fact that Santa does not say Ho Ho Ho anymore, because it may traumatise Americans, who associate a ho with ladies of leisure. Personally I am more traumatised by my childhood gardening tasks. Another task is the costume fit out. Apparently the company provides a fully padded top, to ensure that Santa has a round jocular appearance. I also learned that it is no longer Father Christmas, since Santa is a gatekeeper to children's greed rather than a Christian symbol. Wouldn't want to turn away muslims, buddhists, jews and that other religion that I cannot remember that does not observe Christmas. Apparently they are getting a bit short with a lot of older Santas getting to their sell by date. So if you have free time and could stomach a never ending parade of annoying children and equally irritating smothering parents (and that bloody photographer), go for it. There is a job waiting. They are taking enquiries for next year. Too late to do the Police Clearance for this year (now that is sad, but a fact of life in todays world).

Personally it is still challenging to adjust to it getting warmer as we head into Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere. I noticed yesterday that the supermarkets were already jam packed with Christmas Crap. Gotta have a selling point. The kids are not excited yet because their birthdays are just around the corner. They will be big into Santa and all that he brings by the middle of November, once the novelty of birthday present overdose wears off. I am certain I would be very grumpy if I had to put on a red suit and and white beard and offend sensitive Yanks. I doubt I could resist the HOHOHO thing, despite it being banned from the Santa School.

Black Pudding - the gourmet choice

Our new haunt in Largs, just down the road from Semaphore, is 23 a weekend breakfast restaurant, with a new lame joke on the sign board every week and all you need to clog your arteries and fill your tummy with pleasant company on a weekend morning. They even have nice coffee and good chat. Definitely the highest density of Irish in Adelaide on a Sunday morning. The highlight is the gourmet black pudding made in the Barossa. It is sort of funny to think of black pudding as gourmet, but if it makes it sell, what the hell. Unluckily they had run out last Sunday when we went to take the kids for a run on the beach with the dog. There is something very satisfying about black pudding. No need to know what is in it , just sit back and enjoy the experience.

Hair Today Gone Tomorrow

After 46 and a half years of longish hair I finally took the plunge and had it buzzed with a Number 4. It is amazing the reaction you get when you do something as simple as that.

Who's a Pretty Boy then.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Sad Day for Ozzie Piss Drinkers

Up to 30 tonnes of beer and munchies were lost when two freight trucks collided on the Bruce Highway in central Queensland.

In a devastating sight for beer lovers, tonnes of the amber liquid - primarily XXXX Gold - as well as countless boxes of biscuits and potato chips were strewn across the highway yesterday following the collision about 50 kilometres south of Rockhampton.

Personally it is no bad thing, since XXXX is one of the more dreadful Ozzie beers. Perhaps the good people of Queensland could try some of South Australias finest Coopers Pale Ale instead.

Little Angels Little Devils

Yesterday morning, the kids were very cooperative and got their clothes on and ate breakfast without complaining. They then went outside and got the boule set and were playing quietly. I was so impressed I called Elizabeth to let her know what delightful children we had and what a great job we had done in developing such fantastic kids. Not two minutes later they were screaming, arguing and bashing each other over who could go on the trampoline first. Oh well!. Hannah came to me afterwards and asked me "Why did we have to have a second kid? I hate Ryan.... The joys of childtaming.

Show Off

This is one of our cactuses, which go into fantastic display mode for about three weeks a year. The rest of the year they are just green and a little bit prickly.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Great Jobs #476

According to the Daily Record, betting shop staff in Scotland regularly face physical and verbal abuse at work, researchers found. Staff find themselves in the firing line when frustrated customers lose their money.

Almost one in five workers in bookies' shops said they had been physically assaulted or spat at while working. And more than half of those surveyed had seen or heard a colleague facing abuse from the public.

In one case, a woman was threatened by a customer who told her he would burn her house down after she declared his betting slip void.

At least Scottish punters don't have access to guns and it is difficult to chib somebody through the glass.

Ryan's Thoughts

I was lying down with Ryan tonight. He has some very thoughtful takes on life when he is not being silly. Tonight it was how he didn't believe in god. "When you are dead you're just dead, he commented. I don't believe in heaven and what is that bad thing?" "Hell?" I said. "Yes" "I still miss Grandpa and Chester". When can I go and see him in the coffin? I told him that Grandpa had been cremated and that he was in a box. "Does he still have eyelashes? Where is the box?" I told him that Grandpa was in the shed and that we could look at him soon, but that he was just ashes. "What are ashes?".....Daddy falling asleep. He is such a sweet boy.

Monday, October 23, 2006

When is it ok to speed?

Colonial Governor Johnnie heads for a wee break.

Mr Howard says he expects a warm welcome at the Pacific Islands Forum in Fiji, this week, despite the recent disagreements. The roots of the problem are analysed here.

Colonialism continues to cast its shadow over Australia's challenges in the South Pacific. Diplomatic spats between political leaders in Australia, Papua New Guinea and the Solomons have been the focus for observers of the South Pacific Forum in Fiji. However, travel bans on PNG ministers visiting Australia, a fugitive nominated to be the Solomons' senior legal officer, the question of Pacific guest workers in Australia, and accusations of Canberra's "arrogance", "bullying", and "sovereignty violations" only mask a series of long-term and seemingly insoluble problems. The diplomatic "crisis", as it has been called, can be traced to events that have their origin in the dissolution of European empires after World War II.

He seems to be less popular with his neighbours than his countrymen. I am sure that they have the cooking pots fired up.

South Australian Budget Foleys

The cockroaches are crawling out of the state governments new budget and some of the cuts look pretty short sighted. Chopper Foley, the state treasurer is ekeing out the money for some of the large trophy projects by chopping at worthwhile smaller programmes.

Phasing out a multimillion dollar school fitness initiative for schools when one of the major health issues is childhood obesity. In return a miniscule, exercise for part of the year and get a medal. Next up phasing out of a $30,000 school grant to cover the overhead of many small schools, so that they can run worthwhile programs. Next up very worthwhile music and aquatic programs. These group based programmes that enhance the school experience. At our primary school, this is the only chance that some of the less resourced kids have to experience a musical instrument. The last one is the very excellent school dental service, which was until now, free. For those who do not have access to a dentist, this was an early preventative step, which will now cost you $35 per visit. Thanks Kevin! If the state government cannot fund these kinds of programmes, I think that they have their priorities very skewed.

Based upon my experience with being a member of my kids school governing council, I think that they need to put a bomb under the Department of Education and start from scratch.

Another beauty, is the reduction in the allocation for the very worthwhile plastic bag reduction strategy from over one $100,000 to under $20,000. As Matt and Dave said on ABC Mornings, the devil is in the details. Most of these changes don't show up in policy statements and it is only when an email hits somebodys desk saying no from some anonymous beaureacrat that we find out. Some of the details look very short sighted. Obviously there are many more examples.

Adelaide Water Supply

While the new water restrictions are a short term fix for South Australia, the long term supply of water is a puzzle, but not impossible according to a new study.

Adelaide will have sufficient water resources until at least 2050, even if its population were to double.

Don Bursill, former water scientist for the South Australian Water Corporation, made the prediction yesterday mindful of a state government plan to double the city's population over the next 44 years.

"Water won't hinder the growth of the city, simply because the use of water in supporting Adelaide is the highest economic use water can be put to," Professor Bursill said.

"We might have to pay more for water, but the capacity to pay is there," he said. "The technology is around to turn anything wet into drinking water if it's filtered through enough money, so an increased population can be accommodated."

Desalination was a valid option because it was becoming cheaper and the energy requirements were coming down.

"I don't think desalination is necessary yet, but the efficiency of the technology is improving and it will no doubt be on the agenda down the track."

Professor Bursill will be presenting his findings at an Urban Institute of Australia conference in Adelaide this week.

He said scare campaigns on the supply of water to the city were unnecessary. The political emphasis on reducing the reliance of the state on the Murray River was not grounded in facts.

"I'm not sure why in the past five years the public has been getting messages of impending doom in relation to our water supply -- nothing has really changed," he said. "Apart from the current outstanding drought, normal rainfalls and river flows suggest Adelaide can accommodate a higher population."

Professor Bursill said Adelaide used about 200 gigalitres of water a year, about half from the Murray River. This was less than 2 per cent of the average flow into South Australia. This is less than the statistical error that is normally found in measuring the flows in the river system.

"Although I am in favour of conservation and improving environmental flows in the river, I am not sure it is practical or would have any measurable impact to reduce the dependence on the River Murray."

Much of the water in the Murray evaporated before it hit the sea, he said, with 50 per cent disappearing in the large shallow lakes of Albert and Alexandrina next to the coast.

As well, more than half of Adelaide's water supply came directly from the Mount Lofty Range catchment area.

He said urban per capita consumption of water in South Australia had decreased over the past 15 years due to water conservation programs. At 19 per cent, Adelaide had one of the highest rates of recycling.

"We have the worst water resource, because of the dryness of the state, but the most reliable public water system because of the very good planning and investments that went into our water infrastructure last century," he said. "We are still living on those investments."

This is interesting, because it is not consistent with the message we hear from politicians.

South Australia Water Wars

South Australia, one of the drier places in the world has water restrictions which will really impact the way people live starting today. In the run up to the start of the water restrictions, residents went on a water consumption orgy, according to Ruperts Rag.

Adelaide's daily water consumption has jumped 50 per cent in the lead-up to water restrictions which begin at midnight tonight. A significant amount of the water has gone into pools, spas and lawns, with homeowners preparing for the restrictions which ban emptying or refilling existing pools.

Residents soaking their gardens before the tough water restrictions come into force, coupled with a lack of rainfall, also have contributed to the surge in water use.

SA Water said average metropolitan daily water use was 531 million litres this month compared with 356 million in October last year. Comparative figures for regional SA are not available.

The Level Two restrictions, the most stringent in the states history, are expected to cut the state's water consumption by 10 per cent a year. A 10 per cent cut to average household water use would save residents about $15 a year on their water bills. The Opposition said this was a poor cash reward for people saving water.

Household water use costs 47c for every 1000 litres for the first 125,000 litres a year and $1.09 for every thousand litres after that.

While the restrictions are good, seems to me that taxing excessive water use should be part of the process. We are encouraged to dob in violators of the new requirements, but hitting people in the pocket book is likely to be more effective in the long term. That is assuming that the State Government doesn't just pocket the money (which they are good at).

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Nick Drake Musical Genius Died too Young

Nick Drake has one of the most haunting voices I have heard. Virtually unknown during his life, but highly respected and appreciated now. Sad and moving. I picked up one of his CDs in an excellent small record shop in Pennsylvania, quite randomnly during one of my trips to the US when I was based in Singapore. I played it over and over on the long haul back. He has a phenomenal voice. You can sample more here.

River Man is one of the most haunting songs you are ever likely to hear.

Ryans Lunch Menu

What do you want for lunch, Ryan?
Two Tim Tams and some chips Please!

U Turn (Election imminent)

The political antennaes are getting tuned as the early days of next years election get started. The Prime Miniature on the 7.30 report this week looked pretty rattled. Iraq, Industrial Relations and Media Reform, among other things are all looking unpalatable politically. Fish Net Tights is talking up the reality of global warming. The Labor Party is finally looking more credible, with a more dynamic presence in parliament. The media is becoming more receptive to arguments not wholly supportive of the dark force running the country. Is it possible that the dark side coalition is on the slide? The only good news for them is that petrol prices have gone off the boil.

Do your bit to save Pluto from planet oblivion

Join the fight to save the little guy.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Scottish Birthday Treats

Today is my 47th Birthday. Elizabeth bought some Scottish treats (probably at outrageous tourist shop prices), including Berwick Cockles, Edinburgh Castle Rock, Treacle Toffee, Tablet, and Highland Toffee, along with Irn Bru to accompany them. Very familiar stuff, although I doubt I have had these for over 20 years. The lowest common denominator is sugar. My grandmother used to make tablet and fudge regularly. It was great to see the kids curiosity, given that they had probably never seen or tasted them before. A little sad given that it is part of their heritage. They are already eyeing them agressively and were lobbying hard to have them instead of cereal.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Darts Hit the Bigtime in Iran

It is synonymous with beer, big bellies and rowdy British pubs, but darts has found a new spiritual home — in Iran. Dartboards are going up in mosques and clubs across the ultra-conservative Islamic republic.

Bearded clerics, senior politicians and even the feared revolutionary guards are among hundreds of thousands of new devotees stepping up to the oche for what is being billed as the latest in "good, clean, fun".

Masoud Zohouri, 43, head of the Iranian Darts Association, said: "The game is very refreshing. It brings happiness and joy and fun at a very cheap price. It brings people together and is a very healthy activity."

Such plaudits for the sport may well raise eyebrows in the West, where darts has long been associated with marathon drinking and smoking sessions from players and spectators alike.

"It's a fun family game, people of all ages can play and it's not very expensive to purchase the gear and get started."He said Iran now boasted more than 600,000 players.

The real reason for success is more obvious, with the Official George Bush Dartboard, the only sanctioned board in the country.

ABC Gagged

By any accounts the new guidelines imposed on the ABC by the new polically correct board will stifle debate and already create the very strong perception of meddling by coalition politicians and assorted wackos. It seems to me that the ABC is very balanced. I suppose the devil will be in the details and how things actually develop.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Sand Art

By Master Sand Sculptors Hannah and Ryan Campbell. Commissions accepted.

Shocking Surprise News

The best kept political secret in Australia is out.

Ministers escape blame for AWB scandal

Caroline Overington
October 16, 2006

THE Howard Government and its officials will narrowly escape punishment for the AWB kickback scandal, with senior counsel to the Cole inquiry recommending no criminal charges against any federal cabinet minister, bureaucrat or official.

The Australian understands that a final, confidential submission by senior counsel John Agius is scathing in its description of the Government's role in the largest trade scandal in Australian history.

But he makes no formal adverse findings against Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, former trade minister Mark Vaile, or the former agriculture minister Warren Truss, who now holds the Trade portfolio.

Well blow me down. Who would have thought that the widely predicted whitewash actually happened.

Nepal and the Flag

Having spent a year in Nepal, I enjoy seeing the Nepalese Flag. It is pretty unusual in the world of national flags, with its prayer flag appearance. I used to live just down the road from Swayambunath and used to like to go and visit early in the morning. There was a real connection with the religion, with vivid colours, religious icons, monkeys and off course the temples themselves. Although I am not religious, places like that made me wonder at the power of religion for individuals.

Superheroes needed to target (and destroy) bad guys. Save the World (Part II)

Very perceptive take on US Foreign Policy.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Deep Fried Mars Bar

Francis Xavier Holden's Scottish adventuring got me thinking about Scottish food after his post on Deep Fried Mars Bars. It is funny how things that look so bad and are bad for you, could taste so good.

Here is the before and after. Full instructions for those inclined, here. Cultural context and more information than you need here

And for proof, there's this.

For those with a more international taste, you can try deep fried coke.


Fried Coke has become the latest artery-clogging hit at US state fairs.

The gooey Coke-battered nuggets topped with cola syrup won the "most creative" title at the Texas state fair in Dallas last month. Fried treats are as big of a draw at state fairs as the rides and prize-winning farm animals. Twinkies, cookies and even pickles are stuck with a stick, dipped in batter and then seared in the deep fryer.

Fried Coke's inventor, concessionaire Abel Gonzales Jr, is a creative fryer whose experiments have proven popular. Last year, he sold 20,000 fried peanut butter, jelly and banana sandwiches

Fried Coke looks to be an even bigger hit: he sold 16,000 cups of the sticky balls in the first two weeks. He reworked the recipe to make the dough less cakey and more spongy so it would soak up more of the cola syrup.

Cranberry Farming

I was intrigued to know that Cranberry farming is just like working in a rice paddy. Having drunk it for many years, I was curious how they are grown, so I had a look. They are only grown in a few places in the US and Europe.

Cranberries are a unique fruit. They can grow and survive only under a very special combination of factors. These factors include acid peat soil, an adequate fresh water supply, and a growing season that extends from April to November. Cranberries grow on low-lying vines in beds layered with sand, peat, gravel and clay. These beds are commonly known as bogs or marshes and were originally created by glacial deposits. Commercial bogs use a system of wetlands, uplands, ditches, flumes, ponds and other water bodies that provide a natural habitat for a variety of plant and animal life.

Marvel ous Characters

Having moved on from the challenges of naming Hi Five, the Wiggles and Bob and his building buddies, I am forced to resort to Wikipedia to name the Marvel characters that fascinate Ryan now. A true parent credibility resource. Ryan has some playing cards with only about ten of them, but I am usually stumped.

Wots a Wabbit doing in the Fridge

A lady opened her refrigerator and saw a rabbit sitting on one of the shelves.

"What are you doing in there?"

she asked.

The rabbit replied:

"This is a Westinghouse, isn't it?",
to which the lady replied


"Well," the rabbit said,

"I'm westing."

I only torture you with this because my wife is motivating her work team with the challenge to find the lamest joke. There are so many it is not funny.

My five year old came up with his own
"Knock Knock"
"Who's there"
"Lame".......... Personally I quite like What did Mozart do after he died? He Decomposed So many more, so little time.

Don't try this at work

Climate Change hits South Australia

From the editorial in todays Murdoch Rag (so it must be true!).

The strands of the future suddenly came together to wake even the most complacent to the fact that human actions are having a dire impact on the planet's weather.

Consider this week's events: our worst recorded drought, raging springtime bushfires, record low inflows to the River Murray, soaring temperatures, looming rural recession and strict water restrictions.

This, against a backdrop of the past decade having some of the hottest years in recorded history, is a taste of the future.

For years scientists argued about a theoretical greenhouse effect, which became an academic debate about global warming, which became an urgent call to deal with climate change.

This week, those abstract discussions walked into every house in South Australia without bothering to knock and announced: "I'm here – get used to it."

The ramifications of climate change now are well and truly out of the lecture theatre and in the lounge room.

The drought is having a devastating financial and social impact on farming communities as weather patterns look set to change beyond the expected cycles of drought, good times and flood.

Well hello. Welcome to the real world. Finally some serious debate on an important issue for Australia.

Only in Australia

This fully-grown male koala popped in to watch a bit of television with Happy Valley resident Wayne Meredith – and it's not the first time.

Mr Meredith said his furry friend has paid a number of visits to the Dianne St home and "seems to really enjoy the company". "Yesterday he came up and knocked on the front door, so I opened it up, grabbed him a drink and gave him a pat for about 45 minutes," he said.

"But tonight I could hear something scratching at the windows and when I looked up I saw a koala nose squished up against the window.

"Then I went around and opened the front door and he just walked in and sat down in front of the TV."

Sadly, there was no wok-fried eucalyptus leaf being tossed together on the cookery show last night, but Mr Meredith doubts that will stop his buddy popping in again.

"He just sits on the dog's rug with a bowl of water and watches away," he said.

Koalas are probably safer than the family in Florida, who had a large crocodile knock on the door to try to get in. Must have been a relative of Roald Dahls, The Enormous Crocodile, implementing one of his "secret plans and clever tricks", to find some tasty children.

For those who like less scary versions of animals coming to visit, try The Tiger Who Came for Tea, one of the most delightful kids books you will ever read.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

So How Do You Pick Your Nose?

Aint that the truth

My wife is never short of comments on my driving. One of the more sarcastic regulars relate to not using turn signals when changing lanes. I just never have (and I probably never will). Isn't that the most satisfying thing, mouthing off about bad driving manoeuvres. Sorry assholes (not!)

Another new inciteful cartoon every day at Married to the Sea.

Clare Show

We went to the Clare Show today. It is a one day country show in a wine making region north of Adelaide. I love the country shows, much more than the big city ones. In Scotland, the scale of the Royal Highland Show was daunting, in California, the State Fair in Sacramento was a capitalist trap and the Royal Adelaide Show is fun, but expensive. I used to like to go to the Fife show, which was held around the County and sometimes just down the road at Balcormo. In California, the Auburn Fair was very scenic and a great scale. Likewise the Clare Show was held in a very nice wooded environment with lots of country folks. At least the fairs in California and South Australia generally have great weather, unlike my memories of squelching through the mud, avoiding animal poo in Scotland. The novelty in Clare was camel rides and dog jumping (high jump for dogs). Watching the professional shearers was interesting because of their ability to keep the sheep calm. Personally the highlight were the ducks and chickens. So many varieties of unusual forms of birds.

The activities are all very similar, in tune with the similarities of rural, agricultural life around the world. Home baking, art, plants.. you know what I mean.

The fairs and rides are also very similar. The business model of the show ride and show stall has not changed much in the last 50 years. Still the same cheesy prizes for kids to complete simple tasks and impossible challenges like the air rifles that don't fire straight, the bottles and cans that will not fall over, the tacky art work and the lucky dip with the tacky toys. Hannah loved the Gravitron, but was completely pale when she go off Wipeout. She and her friend ended up surviving it by grabbing each other and screaming. I could go on. Still a good time was had by all.