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All 171 Posts in the Category: Current Affairs

21
Oct 11
Fri

Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s obituary

From The Telegraph’s obituary for the whacky Gaddafi:

Gaddafi would arrive at summits of Arab leaders in a white limousine surrounded by a bodyguard of nubile Kalashnikov-toting brunettes. At one non-aligned summit in Belgrade, he turned up with two horses and six camels; the Yugoslavs allowed him to graze the camels in front of his hotel – where he pitched his tent and drank fresh camel milk – but refused to allow him to arrive at the conference on one of his white chargers. Several of the camels ended up in Belgrade zoo.

At an African Union summit in Durban in 2002, his entourage consisted of a personal jet, two Antonov transport aircraft, a container ship loaded with buses, goat carcases and prayer mats, a mobile hospital, jamming equipment that disrupted local networks, $6 million in petty cash, and 400 security guards with associated rocket launchers, armoured cars and other hardware, who nearly provoked a shoot-out with South Africa’s security forces.

On his return motorcade through Swaziland, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi, Gaddafi tossed fistfuls of dollars from his car to appreciative crowds, remarking that this way he could be sure they went to the poor.

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28
Nov 10
Sun

Cablegate has broken

The first batch of Cablegate cables has been posted to Wikileaks. NY Times reports:

A cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables, most of them from the past three years, provides an unprecedented look at back-room bargaining by embassies around the world, brutally candid views of foreign leaders and frank assessments of nuclear and terrorist threats.

Here is example of one leaked dispatch, entitled “A Caucasus Wedding” (which the Times refers to at the end of the above article). It’s fascinating:

After the fireworks, the musicians struck up the lezginka in the courtyard and a group of two girls and three boys — one no more than six years old — performed gymnastic versions of the dance. First Gadzhi joined them and then Ramzan, who danced clumsily with his gold-plated automatic
stuck down in the back of his jeans (a houseguest later pointed out that the gold housing eliminated any practical use of the gun, but smirked that Ramzan probably couldn’t fire it anyway). Both Gadzhi and Ramzan showered the dancing children with hundred dollar bills; the dancers probably picked upwards of USD 5000 off the cobblestones. Gadzhi told us later that Ramzan had brought the happy couple “a five kilo lump of gold” as his wedding present. After the dancing and a quick tour of the premises, Ramzan and his army drove off back to Chechnya. We asked why Ramzan did not spend the
night in Makhachkala, and were told, “Ramzan never spends the night anywhere.”

Here is the NY Times’ justification for publishing reports about this data. On the other hand, I think that the ethical and other grounds that Wikileaks stands on are far more questionable.

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17
Jun 10
Thu

Daily news rundown

  • S&P cut BP’s debt ratings from AA- to A
  • MySpace Co-President Jason Hirschhorn has left – MySpace seems to be dying a slow death
  • Criterion Capital Partners bought Bebo from AOL for 7 figures – AOL paid $850m for Bebo in 2008 (ouch)
  • Agricultural Bank of China proceeding with $23b IPO
  • Apple sells 600k iPhones on first day of pre-orders – I’m one of them, despite AT&T’s overloaded servers
  • Conroy still pursuing Aussie net filter – seriously, dude, in the next election I’m going number every single senatorial candidate on the ballot just so I can put you at the bottom (I did it back when Alston was in govt) Link
  • Mexico-France: 2-0 – wtf?
  • Lakers win NBA playoffs
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9
Jun 10
Wed

Daily news rundown

  • AT&T security flaw reveals email addresses of iPad users – includes people at the highest echelons of government and industry
  • Bidding for lunch with Buffett currently at $700,100 this year – the previous record was $2.11m in 2008. Link
  • Microsoft raising $1.15b in convertible debt – sounds like it’s part of a refi (I wonder why wouldn’t they just pay it off using the large stockpile of cash they’re sitting on?) Link
  • BP down 15% today – more rumors about bankruptcy (that would be so crazy were that to pan out). Link
  • China approves IPO of Agricultural Bank of China – IPO expected to raise up to $30b by offering 15% of its equity – the bank has over 350 million customers and focuses on rural lending – set to break the $21.9b world record set by ICBC in 2006
  • Fiorina and Whitman are the GOP’s nominees in California elections – but Chris Kelly didn’t win in his bid for the CA A-G position
  • World Cup in less than 2 days!
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8
Jun 10
Tue

Daily news rundown

  • iPhone 4 launch as WWDC – 960×400 screen, front-facing VGA camera, 5mp back-camera with flash and 720p HD video recording, video calls (over Wifi only), 24% thinner, up to 40% more battery life, steel edge doubles as antennae, gyroscope for 6-axis motion sensing, runs iOS 4 (multitasking), preorders on June 15 for a 26th launch
  • Jerome Kerviel’s trial is underway – remember the former Soc Gen trader whose bets blew up to the tune of 5bn Euros?
  • Investing in Russia apparently still fraught with peril - link
  • GS having media problems in Chinalink

Bonus link

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21
May 10
Fri

Daily news rundown

  • FTC approves AdMob deal – Google will go on to acquire it – iAd, seen as a competitor, helped
  • Financial regulatory bill getting closer to being signed – the House and Senate are going to meld their versions of the bill – Senate bill has the Volcker Rule (prop trading restrictions for banks) and derivatives trading restrictions – needs to pass the conference committee before getting voted on by Congress
  • Government moving to IPO of its stake in GM – Lazard hired to advise
  • AT&T ups cell contract ETF to $325 – apparently in preparation for June iPhone launch and the rumored loss of exclusivity in several months
  • Twitter contesting subpoena demanding real names of users – subpoena from PA’s attorney-general is being attacked by ACLU and other groups (I’m very interested to see how this plays out in the media). Link
  • Google unveils Android 2.2 (Froyo) at Google I/O – quicker than an iPad – Google really is all about speed
  • Google announced Google TV – competing with Apple TV – platform that integrates web browsing, cable TV and Android – primed for Fall 2010 launch. Link
  • Google also developing iTunes competitor – AAPL vs GOOG. It’s so on.
  • Zynga acquires XPD Media, opens Beijing office
  • Germans ban naked short selling
  • Blackstone is setting up in Australia – Link
  • Thai stock exchange closed – parts of it were on fire as the violence in Bangkok continues
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18
May 10
Tue

Daily news rundown

  • Symantec close to buying VeriSign’s authentication services business for $1.3b
  • Zynga and Facebook announce 5 year deal – looks like the relationship has been salvaged (although it probably wasn’t genuinely in jeopardy to begin with). Link
  • Google buying Oslo-listed Global IP Solutions for $68m – to "build its real-time audio and video Internet capabilities"
  • Microsoft suing Salesforce for patent infringement – 9 of them
  9:12pm  •  Business & Finance  •  Current Affairs  •  Tweet This  •  Comments (1)  • 
13
May 10
Thu

Daily news rundown

  • ASIC blocks class actions against bank fees – it looks like that class action suit against the banks that I noted a few days ago has been blocked. Link
  • Rajaratnam claims an IM was about cricket – in a deposition of the Galleon Group co-founder accused of insider trading. Link
  • MGM, straining under ~$4b in debt, got a reprieve – lenders hold off on collecting on repayments until July 14
  • Prudential likely to begin $21b soon – raising funds to buy AIA, AIG’s Asian life insurance arm
  • Canadian tourist bitten on penis by a venomous spider in New Zealand – because it’s a slow news day. Link
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12
May 10
Wed

Daily news rundown

  • SAP is acquiring Sybase for $5.25b, all cash – reportedly in an effort to compete with Oracle (which acquired Sun last year for $7.4b) – closing is scheduled for Q3 this year – SAP will also assume Sybase’s debt of about $550m
  • Transurban rejected a A$7.2b shareholder-led buyout offer – says offer too low – responding, two major Canadian shareholders who were bidders threaten to sell their 28% stake. Link
  • Baidu’s shares surge after 10:1 stock split – up almost 10% today
  • Now Morgan Stanley is being investigated – over some CDOs. Link
  • WSJ reports that VC industry looks like it’s picking up – M&A activity is healthy with 77 VC-backed companies being sold in Q1 ($3.9b vs Q1 ’09 $3.4b); 15 sold last week alone – 14 IPOs of VC-backed companies so far this year (compared with 8 for all of 2009 and 7 in 2008; Q1 ’10 raised $711m) – IPO pipeline "remains robust" – but, "Some venture capitalists caution the current spate of deals is confined to a relatively narrow set of high-growth or profitable technology and biotechnology start-ups." Link
  • Bank of England May 2010 inflation reportLink
  • Afriqiyah Airways plane crashes in Tripoli, killing 92 – mostly Dutch tourists – boy said to be sole survivor
  • FTC extends AdMob deal review by 2 weeks – due to iAd
  • China Mobile wants the iPad – and also the iPhone, but hasn’t got it yet (the iPhone has been selling really well in China). Link
  • Apple 4th gen iPhone allegedly turns up in Vietnam – teardown reveals an A4 Processor, 256MB RAM
  • More rumors that Verizon will get the iPhoneLink
  • HTC counterclaim accuses Apple of infringing 5 HTC patents
  • Gold hit another high, $1234.93/oz
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11
May 10
Tue

Daily news rundown

  • Australia’s Federal Budget was announcedSMH’s coverageGittins on the budget (video)
  • David Cameron is UK’s new PM – Lib Dems form coalition with Tories – Nick Clegg is Deputy PM – 5 Lib Dems get cabinet posts
  • JPMorgan, Citigroup and BOA join GS in recording trading quarters without any down days – in 61 trading days
  • Verizon rumored to be backing an Android-based tablet – combined with rumors that Verizon will stock a CDMA iPhone by the end of the year, and you have an interesting situation (what does Apple think?) Link
  • AT&T has been bringing forward iPhone upgrade eligibility dates to 6/21 – corroborates a June launch of the 4th gen iPhone. Link
  • MSFT’s Project Natal console probably launching in October – looks very cool. Link
  • CRM company Lithium acquires Scout Labs – rumored $20-25m in stock and cash
  • Mozilla CEO John Lilly leaving to join VC firm Greylock Partners – remains a director
  • Fenwick IP partner Michael Blum joins Quantcast as GC
  • KKR raising $500m in share sale
  • Mizuho planning to raise $8.7b – in common shares to meet increased capital requirements – Mizuho is Japan’s 2nd largest bank by assets
  • Gold futures hit record high of $1232.50/oz
  • Aussie banks in $400m class action lawsuit against them – relating to $5b in "exception" fees like late payment fees (I think the legal argument will be that the fees are penalties and therefore contractually unenforceable). Link
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The effect of petrol prices on vehicle mileage

Driving habits are slow to change. This is a great way to display the information conveyed in this graph by the NY Times:

10
May 10
Mon

Daily news roundup

  • EU delivers a $957b rescue package – markets recover as probability of Greek default dissipates – EU finance ministers agree to provide $636b in lending to deteriorating economies, IMF prepared to give up to $321b separately, ECB reversed policy and is now buying govt bonds and corporate debt, US Fed will also provide liquidity (see below), as will the Bank of Japan – in response, Greek 10Y bonds plummet from 10.25% last Friday to 4.72% today, Euro rose above $1.30, CAC40 up 9.7%, DAX up 5.3%, Dow up 3.9%, gold down slightly, oil up slightly
  • US Fed steps in to help EU with Greek credit woes – Bernanke opens up currency swap lines with the ECB to provide liquidity for the European money markets. Link
  • Obama nominates Kagan as John Paul Stevens’ replacement on SCOTUS
  • GS reveals its traders made a profit on every single trading day last quarterLink
  • Truth behind AT&T’s exclusivity agreement with Apple still as clear as mud – Link
  • Israel finally admitted to OECDLink
  • Fannie Mae reported $13b Q1 loss – still hemorrhaging money
  • Facebook hiring more lawyers – Timothy Muris, former FTC chairman reported to be a likely hire (ostensibly, to deal with FTC investigations) – they earlier hired Tim Sparapani, an ex-ACLU lawyer as director of public policy
  • BRK reports Q1 results – revenue up from $23b to $32b, net earnings rose from –$1.4b to $3.8b.
  • Macbook Air refresh rumored for tomorrow
  • Harrods was sold by al-Fayed to Qatar Holding
  • Meanwhile, in Zimbabwe… link
  • Push for derivatives on movie box office grosses likely to be nixedCantor Exchange in limbo (looks to me like Hollywood is being short sighted again, "The real reason most of Hollywood is opposed to this development is unclear, but it is probably simply the age-old story of large, conservative institutions being averse to change"). Link
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7
May 10
Fri

Daily news rundown

  • Apple sued by Nokia over 5 patents – Apple of course counterclaimed – meanwhile, Nintendo, after a decline in profitability, identified Apple as a competitive threat, or "enemy of the future"
  • iPad’s international release announced by Apple – May 28 in Australia, Canada, Japan and Western Europe; HK, Benelux, Mexico, NZ, Singapore, Austria in July – pricing is materially more expensive, apparently due to taxes (top-end model is GBP 699 vs USD 829) – iPad has reportedly sold out in US retail stores
  • UK election results in a hung Parliament – here are their options now – people turned away at poll booths and vote counting went all through the night and the next morning in a mismanaged election
  • Germans approved their portion of Greek bailout – 22.4b Euro over 3 years as part of 110b Euro package
  • Zynga announced Zynga Live – a move towards a split with Facebook after Zynga complains about Facebook’s 30% cut of Facebook credits and negotiations begin to break down
  • AIG announced $1.5b Q1 profit
  • HCA files for $4.6b IPO – health care company was taken private in a $21b LBO in 2006 by Bain Cap, KKR, and MLGPE
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6
May 10
Thu

Daily news rundown

  • Conservatives lead UK elections, but punters think hung Parliament on the way – the Times has a live feed of BBC’s coverage of the election which is on right now (it’s currently 4am GMT!) – Seats: 226 Con / 169 Lab / 36 Soc Dem / 26 Others (need 326 to win, 457 seats out of 650 called). Link
  • Freak wave of selling sees DJIA fall 550 points in 5 minutes, before rebounding to close the day down 3.21% (-349 pts) – DJIA was down around 1k pts at one point – AUD/USD fell 3c to 0.8780 – mostly caused by European jitters – Euro hammered, reached 14-month low of $1.28. Link. Some of it due to glitches and nerves – Accenture went from $40 to $0.01 for a couple minutes, P&G went from $60 to $39.37. Link 2. Update: looks like some glitch triggering a mass of automated trading programs. Link 3
  • TechCrunch reports how web struggled to keep up with stockmarket volatility – people like to trumpet how quickly Tweets move info, but nothing moves and acts on info as fast as Wall St (or at least the trading programs that traders use). Link. News anchors also struggled to keep up with it. Link
  • Peter Henning analyzes the three arms of litigation GS is potentially facing – SEC civil, criminal, shareholder derivative suits – also evaluates the desirability of obtaining a settlement. Link
  • Blackstone, TPG and others in LBO talks with $11b-large Fidelity National – would be largest LBO since Blackstone bought Hilton for $25b almost 3 years ago – FN is a leading technology provider to banks
  • ICANN switches on non-Latin TLDs – three new TLDs in Arabic script. Link
  • Judge denies AP’s request to unseal affidavit used to obtain search warrant in the Gizmodo iPhone investigations – DA argued affidavit contained names of “two individuals of interest, whom police do not want to alert”
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5
May 10
Wed

Daily news rundown

  • The UK goes to the polls tomorrow – general election being contested between the Tories, Labour, and Lib Dems, but none of these parties are expected to get a majority of seats in the 650-seat House of Commons, leading to a hung Parliament. A coalition will need to be formed to break the deadlock. Hung Parliament makes it difficult to pass legislation at a time the country faces a $250b budget deficit
  • Singaporean shipbuilder New Century cancels $3.84bn IPO – reportedly because the Singapore stock exchange received a complaint that a lawsuit against NC wasn’t mentioned in the prospectus. Link
  • Stack Overflow raised $6m from VCs – including Union Square Ventures
  • Supreme Court Nominees list narrowed to 4: Kagan (Sol-Gen), Woods (7th Cir), Garland (DC) & Thomas (9th) – Kagan is the odds-on favourite, but ATL thinks Woods is the front-runner for a variety of compelling reasons. The two men are probably out of the running
  • Fitch downgrades GS outlook from stable to negative – citing litigation issues. Rating remains at A+, but may slip if criminal indictment occurs (unlikely). S&P and Moody’s already have GS’ outlook at negative. GS closed the day down 0.84% at 148.19
  • Groupon opens Silicon Valley office – Chicago-based daily deals company was valued at $250m last December and, after funding from DST, was valued at $1.35b – 2010 revenue on a $350m runrate (although I question the usefulness of revenue without also knowing their margin)
  • Picasso sold for $106.5m at auction – record price for an auctioned artwork – buyer was anonymous, but speculation it was a hedge fund owner. Link

Bonus links

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4
May 10
Tue

Daily news rundown

  • FTC said to rule on Google’s $750m AdMob acquisition tomorrow – rumors suggest FTC will block, but even AdMob’s competitors have written into FTC in support of deal
  • FTC also probing Apple’s upcoming iAd service – rumors suggest Apple will charge advertisers on both a CPM and CPC basis (that’s impressions and clicks, not or)
  • RBA lifted the cash rate 25 basis points to 4.5%
  • Google planning to launch Google Editions, its e-book service in June or July – will compete with Amazon and Apple – see also this New Yorker article for background
  • Six Flags is no longer under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection
  • IDC sold to private equity firms Warburg Pincus and Silver Lake for $3.4bn – 33% premium, cash deal – Morgan Lewis acted for seller, Simpson Thacher for buyers
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26
Apr 10
Mon

Can you disappear in surveillance Britain?

The UK apparently ranks 3 in the world, behind Russia and China, for societal surveillance. David Bond tried to disappear off the grid for as long as he could and hired a couple of private investigators, armed with only his name and photo, to hunt him down. A sort of PG-rated version of The Running Man (the book, not the movie), and also reminiscent of Wired writer Evan Ratliff’s attempt to go dark. The aim for Bond was to produce material for a documentary, but the experience drove him a little bit nutty in the process.

Before going on the run, he made 80 formal requests to government and commercial organisations for the information they held on him. He piled the replies on his floor, appalled by the level of detail. The owners of the databases knew who his friends were, which websites he’d been looking at, and where he had driven his car. One commercial organisation was even able to inform him that, on a particular day in November 2006, he had “sounded angry”. It was more than he knew himself.

Incidentally, he was tracked down quicker than Ratliff, but only because he went to see his pregnant wife who needed to go to the hospital.

Stuff like Facebook is not so bad, actually, because you still have control over what you disclose and how to disclose it. However, it’s the stuff that’s collected about you that you don’t know that is scary. Incidentally, that includes Facebook, which tracks virtually every mouseclick and thing you do on their site (and now with Open Graph, things you do on others’ sites as well). Their privacy team must be mighty busy, but it’s gotta be really interesting work as well.

  7:16pm  •  Current Affairs  •  Law  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 
25
Apr 10
Sun

A lawyer called Hotman

The NY Times has an article on the improbably named Hotman Paris Hutapea, a high profile Indonesian lawyer:

In a country where bribes play an integral part in the legal system, where attorneys and judges usually hide part of their wealth to deflect unwanted attention, Mr. Hutapea has never denied gaming the system. On the contrary, he has reveled in his success by wearing fat diamond rings and carrying, until laws changed a couple of years ago, a gun in a hip holster. His office buildings here are adorned with signs that scream in big, bold letters: HOTMAN PARIS.

He is a regular on television gossip shows that link him to one starlet or another. Colleagues may prudently choose to drive conservative cars, to court at least. But Mr. Hutapea hops into his new red Ferrari California — the first one sold in Indonesia, for $630,000 — and parks it right in front of court buildings. To his critics, the car and its owner are a prime symbol of the cancer infecting the legal system; to Mr. Hutapea, the Ferrari amounts to an honest acknowledgment of the system’s imperfections.

“If I say I’m a clean lawyer, I’ll be a hypocrite, that’s all I can say,” he said. “And if other lawyers say they are clean, they will go to jail, they’ll go to hell.”

You may remember that Hutapea was on the defense team for Schapelle Corby when she was busted for trafficking weed in Bali, 5 years ago.

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13
Jan 10
Wed

Covering the Decade

2000-2009, recounted in magazine covers:

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18
Dec 09
Fri

Time Magazine on the last decade

Time has an article called “The End of the 2000s: Goodbye to a Decade from Hell“.

Calling the 2000s “the worst” may seem an overwrought label in a decade in which we fought no major wars, in historical terms. It is a sadly appropriate term for the families of the thousands of 9/11 victims and soldiers and others killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the lack of a large-scale armed conflict makes these past 10 years stand out that much more. This decade was as awful as any peacetime decade in the nation’s entire history. Between the West’s ongoing struggle against radical Islam and our recent near-death economic experience — trends that have largely skirted much of the developing world — it’s no wonder we feel as if we’ve been through a 10-year gauntlet. Americans may have the darkest view of recent history, since it’s in the U.S. that the effects of those trends have been most acute. If you live in Brazil or China, you have had a pretty good decade economically. Once, we were the sunniest and most optimistic of nations. No longer. …

Were we Americans alone in our troubles? Hardly. The Asian tsunami of 2004 killed more than 200,000 people. And our financial meltdown quickly spread around the developed world. Yet from our lofty perch overlooking the 20th century — the American Century, TIME’s co-founder once labeled it — the fall has been precipitous. Who among us is unscathed? Not many. Even if none of your family members died in combat, you had no money with Madoff and you own your house free and clear, you most likely still took a hit. To paraphrase the question Ronald Reagan posed years ago, Are you better off today than you were at the beginning of the decade? For most of us, the answer is a resounding no. …

There is no guarantee that the next decade (get ready for the Teens!) will be any better than this one. It’s likely that China will continue to grow faster than the U.S., and we may continue to see our global dominance erode. But very significantly, we still hold many of the world’s trump cards. We still have the world’s strongest military, which means we can and must lead in maintaining order and crafting peace. We are the leaders in technological innovation. And we are still the nation that most others emulate. If we remember those points and avoid the easy outs of deferral and neglect, then the next decade should be a helluva lot better than the last one.

It actually has been a pretty torrid decade, all things considered.

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17
Dec 09
Thu

Laptop shot three times

A few weeks ago, a part-Jewish American tourist was crossing from Egypt into Israel and was being questioned by Israeli border authorities. The authorities got a little suspicious of her and in particular her laptop, so they took it away. And shot it three times. Amazingly, the bullets, which each left huge gaping holes in the Macbook Pro, all missed the hard drive. The Israelis apologized and will be reimbursing her for her laptop.

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10
Dec 09
Thu

What’s happening to Tiger Woods’ sponsorships?

As the number of women claiming to have been with Woods continues to tick into the double-digits, what’s happening to his money-making capacity? While I find it difficult to believe that, come the New Year, this whole affair wouldn’t have affected his golf game in one way or another, Woods makes most of his money from sponsorships. Bloomberg reports that he has endorsement agreements with Accenture, Nike, PepsiCo (Gatorade), Tag Heuer, EA, Upper Deck, NetJets, TLC Vision (where he got Lasik done), and P&G (Gillette). Apparently none of those deals have been affected yet, even though he’s all but disappeared off the TV.

The article also mentions a couple of interesting metrics that they use in the entertainment industry:

Before the reports, Woods ranked just below Oprah Winfrey on the Davie Brown Index, which tracks 2,800 celebrities. The index was created by Los Angeles-based Davie Brown Entertainment to provide a way to measure the use of celebrities in campaigns. …

Woods is the best-known active athlete, based on a September study by Marketing Evaluations, a Manhasset, New York- based research company that publishes the Q score, ranking entertainers by their appeal to consumers.

Among U.S. consumers over the age of 6, 86 percent recognized the golfer, with 28 percent saying Woods was one of their favorite personalities, giving him a +28 Q Score.

The average celebrity is recognized by 32 percent of the U.S. general population and has a +17 Q rating, according to Henry Schafer, the company’s executive vice president.

Update (12/14): Accenture drops Tiger Woods. Gillette has started phasing him out from their ads.

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7
Dec 09
Mon

Portraits of Power

Platon, a photographer for the New Yorker, set about gathering as many portraits of world leaders as he could during a UN conference. The snippets of audio attached to each photo are interesting to listen to as well. Of Ban Ki-Moon:

“This was the first shoot we did for the project … I really liked him and everytime he and his entourage passed me, often when he was walking with another head of state, he would always raise his arm to me as he walked by and shout out, “Platon! Hello!” So, y’know, when an important person like this does that everyone else around looks to me and thinks I’m suddenly more important than I really am. And that’s all I needed, often, to get people to sit for me.”

The Berlusconi clip was amusing, the comments for Mugabe were fitting, and the mistaken President of Madagascar was embarassing.

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9
Dec 08
Tue

Sensationalist

This is some pretty misleading headlining by the Herald:

Click for full sized image
“Obama caught in corruption scandal”

Compare this to the Times:

Click for full sized image
“Illinois governor in corruption scandal”

4
Nov 08
Tue

Election liveblog

10:05:42pm: Residual counts: Indiana might actually go for Obama. Missouri is pretty damn close too. Dems won’t get 60 in the senate. Montana is surprisingly close.

8:03:50pm: over! CNN just called

7:05:58pm: Looks like a foregone conclusion. Of course, the networks aren’t calling it yet.

6:33:15pm: I notice that Ohio has been called for Obama. That’s big. 15 minutes of class left.

5:47:35pm: Stuck in a class, but it looks like things are going without too many surprises…

3:53:40pm: The Kentucky gap seems to be closing…

3:30:59pm: Indiana with about 20k votes counted in is 55%-44%. Kentucky is 36-62 (5.5k).

3:20:45pm: First election results are coming in. Kentucky, for example, is starting to report.

1:30:56pm: A series of proposals on state law are also being voted upon today. Massachusetts is actually voting for whether they want to abolish income tax by 2010. (That’s right, zero income tax in Massachusetts!)

1:27:56pm: FiveThirtyEight.com writes:

“Andrew Gelman of Columbia University has taken a recent set of our simulations to look at what may happen conditional on the outcomes of the first states to close their polls at 6 and 7 PM [EST]. The bottom line? If those states go roughly as expected (meaning, say, an Obama win in Virginia and a close race in Indiana), we can conclude with almost literal 100 percent certainty that Obama will win the election”.

Annoying, I have a class at 4.15pm PST, but if this is any indication, we could have a very clear idea of how things are going to go down by then.

1:18:18pm: The consensus among the students here is that an Obama victory is a foregone conclusion. I have heard from one or two people back in Australia who are not so certain.

Here’s the GCC – sorry about the quality, the iPhone camera is crap. It looks like the lines earlier in the day have cleared out. There are some Obama placards around, but no McCain advertising.

12:51:41pm: The Graduate Student Center is a polling location and apparently there’s a long line outside it. I’m going to swing by and check it out when I pick something up from home.

11:37:30am: Intrade is currently showing that traders expect a 93.1% chance of an Obama victory and a 7.5% chance of a McCain victory. Their real time election tracking page is calling the EVs 364-174.

9:45:48pm: To start us off, this summary video is a great New York Times feature summarizing the lead up to today. For live election coverage online, here is a good list of resources.

9:42:26am: I’m making this post a liveblog and will attempt to update it throughout the day. The law school here has set up the student lounge for election viewing with a big projector screen from 3-10pm and are keeping it supplied with food and drinks, so it sounds like a good place to camp out for the day.

21
Sep 08
Sun

A lot of heads of state are getting axed this month

South African President Thabo Mbeki, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej have each been booted out of power prematurely within the last month. And Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf was ousted in mid-August. Wow.

Malaysian Prime Minster Abdullah Ahmad Badawi might be gone soon as well, if Anwar really has the numbers and a no-confidence motion is successfully passed.

(There’s of course been movement on the domestic front too – NSW Premier Morris Iemma was axed, as was federal opposition leader Brendan Nelson.)

16
Sep 08
Tue

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the world…

Amid all the coverage of the finance markets, many other interesting things have been progressing in the world.

A couple nights ago, I caught up with Justin, a Malaysian friend I hadn’t seen for some years. Justin was in San Francisco for a couple weeks, working for a major mobile phone company on some undisclosed big ticket project. We took the opportunity to catch up over dinner in Palo Alto and he filled me in on the dramas of Malaysian politics. To cut a long story short, Prime Minister Badawi, the leader of the governing coalition has been rapidly losing support, both within his own party and with the public, including its traditional Malay support base (usual story of mismanagement and corruption). The last federal elections saw Barisan Nasional (the governing coalition) being returned to power, but with its normally clear majority severely cut down. Anwar Ibrahim, the leader of the opposition coalition, recently won a by-election after his bar from being a politician recently came to an end (the bar stemming from a doubtful corruption conviction). Anwar is also currently facing a charge of sodomy. He has been charged with that offence in the past, only to be acquitted. Over the past few months, Anwar has been announcing that he has a list of about 30 government MPs willing to defect to his party. With such defections, Pakatan Rakyat (Anwar’s party) would essentially become the governing party, ending the rule of BN which has been in power since Malaysia’s independence. Pretty monumental. Anwar threatened to announce the defections this Tuesday, and over the weekend some pretty bizarre events occurred, including the jailing of several people – including a journalist, a blogger and a politician – under the country’s Internal Security Act (a distateful piece of legislation which allows indefinite detention without trial). The move was a misstep by the government and was met widespread condemnation. A BN cabinet minister resigned in protest over the incident.

A bunch of BN MPs were also ferried to Taiwan under the guise of “training”, but which many suspect as a ploy to keep the MPs out of contact with Anwar. When Anwar’s party sent 5 of its own members to Taiwan on a “cultural trip”, BN promptly cancelled the “training” and recalled the MPs. There are also many racial elements in play here which add another layer of complexity to events. Today Anwar announced that he would miss his own deadline for announcing the MP defections. Badawi thinks Anwar is bluffing and so the story continues…

Back in Australia, Turnbull has ousted Nelson for leadership of the opposition. Maybe now Australia will move more quickly towards becoming a republic.

At the municipal level, Labor got totally routed in the recent NSW local elections, mostly due to a backlash caused by the utterly incompetent state Labor government. Former Premier Iemma, of course, is now history.

In Zimbabwe, the text of the agreement signed between Mugabe, Tsvangarai and Mutambara has been published. I had a quick skim, and it’s pretty hazy as to who really holds the power (but I think when push comes to shove, we can guess who will assert their dominance). I have never seen so much preamble in a single document. There’s more aspirational text in there than operative text.

30
Jun 08
Mon

Again?! You can’t be serious!

Anwar Ibrahim has once again been accused of sodomy and has fled to the Turkish embassy for protection. Anwar is filing a civil suit in response. Here is the event timeline. This is all seems quite ridiculous and it doesn’t make Malaysia look any good. I made a post on the original conviction quite a few years ago.

Incidentally, along with Morgan Tsvangirai seeking refuge in the Dutch embassy in Harare last week, it is interesting to note that embassies have “extra-territorial status”, which means that the patch of land an embassy stands on is more or less treated as the sovereign land of the embassy’s home country. It’s almost like fleeing to the country itself (in a legal sense). Of course, you’re still physically in the host country, so while you may be protected from the host country’s government’s intervention (assuming it doesn’t want to cause a diplomatic incident), it only nominally protects you from other physical threats. For example, the Japanese embassy hostage crisis in Peru in the 1990s.

1
Mar 08
Sat

Sunday news

First three articles that caught my attention on smh.com.au today:

- Labor to deliver lightning internet speeds – Labor plans for FTTN network to use VDSL technology (25Mbps). I’ll believe it when they get started with the rollout. Which I suspect won’t happen this decade.
- Only one woman invited to Rudd’s talkfest? So what? – Miranda Devine article.
- Banks pass rate-hike pain on to borrowers – Our interest rates continue to rise while the US’ drops.

9
May 06
Tue

Federal Budget

The Budget was delivered tonight. With our large budget surplus, there’s plenty of spending to go around. Heaps of tax cuts – most grads like myself will have about $10/week extra to play with. Of course there are concerns that the extra cash everyone gets is going to fuel demand in the economy and push up inflation and perhaps interest rates. Luckily, I don’t have a mortgage (and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change anytime soon).

The two guys finally made it out of the Beaconsfield mine after 14 days. Great end to the story.

3
Nov 04
Wed

Election hinges on Ohio

I’m pretty sure Ohio has gone to Bush despite the news sites refusing to call it. Bush is up by over 130,000 votes. Very depressing. The Democrats insist on waiting for the absentee/provisional ballots (of which there are 175k to 250k), but even with the most generous figures, if there are 250k absentee ballots, people will have to vote 76% Kerry in those in order for him to level the votes. If there are 175k ballots, Kerry will need to poll 87%. That is pretty much unobtainable.

Sounds like Australia: “With the Republicans also tightening their hold on the Senate, keeping control of the House of Representatives and the possibility of more changes in the supreme court, a second Bush term would see the Republicans controlling all four key levers of government. Mr Bush can therefore claim with some foundation that he now possesses the clear mandate that eluded him four years ago.”

Sarni has had good coverage of the figures throughout the day.

2
Nov 04
Tue

Election

Okay I’ve been following for about 2 straight hours, and if I had to make a call now, I would call the election at this stage for Bush. Let’s hope I’m wrong. It’s half past midnight on America’s east coast currently.

Looks like Florida has gone Republican

Even with a lot of absentee ballots from Democratic counties like Broward uncounted, it looks like Bush, several hundreds of thousands of votes ahead, it going to take Florida. News services are still refusing to call the state, however, no doubt given the events of 2000. Hard to figure out what’s going on without TV commentary, have to rely on American news web sites…

14
Sep 04
Tue

School Funding

The latest election issue to hit the press is that of funding and education. I haven’t been keeping up with election events all that much, but I got the opportunity to have a browse through a hard copy of the SMH today (sidenote: nothing beats hard copy where related articles are more conveniently grouped together – so much easier to read than online where coverage may be scattered).

I noted that my alma mater is one of the schools that would cop a large funding cut under Labor’s education plan. I have vague recollections of each Speech Night where the Head Master would announce yet another annual fee increase (always above the inflation rate), which cued the ritual groans from some 2000 parents.

It turns out from this “hit list” that the school is the fifth most expensive in the State, in terms of fees (and it looks like sixth nationally). It stands to lose $3 million, more than half its funding, if Labor were to enter Government, based on Labor’s new criteria for determining how much funding private schools receive. What I want to know is what a private school with fees that high is doing with so much public funding in the first place? It’s bewildering.

I imagine that all that money isn’t just for sustaining the school. Not by a long shot. A lot of it is put into development and expansion, to raise the school’s profile, to be able to expand capacity and take in more students, and oh yes, provide a better quality of education (which also includes out-of-classroom co-curricular activities). This isn’t a bad thing, but it does raise problems when the school starts to begin being run too much like a corporate entity. When I was attending the school, I heard rumours of them thinking of splitting up middle school (years 7-9) into two campuses – one in the city, and one in the country so they could get more students and also tap into the regional “market” more directly. To me, it sounded like a bad idea.

So there’s nothing inherently wrong with this continual focus on growth that the wealthier private schools have, but, especially in the interests of equity, everyone needs an education. Not just “any education”, but a reasonably decent one. There are a lot of other schools in the private system that are nowhere near as well resourced and funded (indeed, some are struggling). The Latham cuts/redistribution would help somewhat to alleviate this imbalance.

The private schools on the hit list have said that if Latham were to implement his funding cuts, they would be forced to raise their fees. I don’t think they are raising fees because they couldn’t survive if they didn’t – they would be raising fees so they could continue expanding and building, or at least to maintain their sprawling multi-campus properties. Is this result fair to the parents? I suppose it’s a sort of user-pays system. If parents want to give their children what they might perceive to be the “best education”, then they’d be willing to pay the extra amount (they’re paying some of the highest fees already). And if they’re not, then at least the less costly alternatives will be able to offer a better quality of education with the extra funding received.

I know who I’m voting for come October.

3
Jul 04
Sat

Schoolgirl Photos

SMH Article: A chick from Barker College posted up a few semi-revealing photos of herself in school uniform and got suspended. Her blog, cached by Google is here. Not surprising, given how disciplinarian some of these city private schools are.

“Barker boys wear skirts and high heels, tra la la la la, la la la la…” used to be a common chant at CAS sports carnivals in reference to how Barker’s upper grades are co-ed. I bet most CAS boys were now wishing they went to Barker instead. At least they don’t have any problems with Apple Chapels and Anacondas. {src: Lime Jelly}

Anyway, it’s not like it’s the first time something like this has happened.

Barker Sux!
Click (possibly nsfw)

29
May 04
Sat

More on the Barker St murders

Ram Puneet Tiwary, the “sleeping flatmate” of the two Singaporeans murdered last year on Barker St has been refused bail. Tiwary is himself a Singaporean. What I find vindicating, is that when the murders were reported in Singapore, the media there were up in arms and many Singaporeans questioned the safety of sending children to study in Australia. How ironic it is that it’s a Singaporean who could be responsible for the murders.

14
Apr 04
Wed

Il est interdit de toucher la reine

Touch the Queen, make the news. Almost touch the Queen, make the news as well. Protocol has been breached or almost breached in the past by a French guy, a Canadian guy, an American woman, and a couple Aussie guys.

We are not amused

Sourced from a Fark comments thread

15
Oct 03
Wed

Oops

Bob Carr hits the headlines with his soon-to-be-infamous “obey the law or leave the country” quote:

“My message is simple: Obey the law of Australia or ship out of Australia,” he told reporters. “We’re not going to see, step by step, our civilisation dragged back to medieval standards of revenge cycles. We’ve got private vengeance, private vendettas being pursued here and we won’t have a bar of it.”

When asked to explain how Australian citizens – if found to be responsible for the crime – could be forced to leave the country, Mr Carr only referred back to his original comments.

“I make no apologies for saying we don’t want this in Australia.”

Then came a swift Labor “clarification” after Brogden stepped up to criticise Carr:

NSW Labor backbencher Janice Crosio said she understood how Mr Carr’s comments could be seen as racist, but migrants had to understand they must obey Australian law.

“We are a nation that has welcomed migrants for 200 years since European settlement first started. We all love our country and we would like all our new settlers to do the same.”

Welcomed migrants for 200 years? Really?

28
Sep 03
Sun

Cabinet Reshuffle

Howard has reshuffled his cabinet. All rejoice as Richard “World’s biggest luddite” Alston finally steps out of his portfolio as Minister for IT and Communications due to his imminent retirement! Taking his place is the former A-G Daryl Williams. The new Attorney-General is, ironically enough, Philip Ruddock, an appointment that will ruffle more than a few feathers I’m sure. The new minister for Immigration is Amanda Vanstone.

16
Sep 03
Tue

News in Brief

- Media bill heads back to Senate: Alston is once again pushing for cross-media ownership.
- Electronics and Planes: “You’ve got to ask, do you want to get there, or do you want to use your laptop?” Heh.
- RIAA’s missteps: Excellent article! {src: Fuzzy}
- The EFF
- 40 Gig iPod out: Aussie Educational price is just under $830.
- Radio Tags and Privacy Erosions

29
Aug 03
Fri

Mum Strips for Son

Desperate times (finding you can’t celebrate your kid’s birthday because all the go-carts have been rented out) call for desperate measures (putting on a striptease for your son and his friends instead).

29
Jul 03
Tue

Terrorist Futures

Interesting:

The Pentagon is setting up a stock-market style system in which investors would bet on terror attacks, assassinations and other events in the Middle East. Defense officials hope to gain intelligence and useful predictions while investors who guessed right would win profits. …

The market would work this way. Investors would buy and sell futures contracts — essentially a series of predictions about what they believe might happen in the Mideast. Holder of a futures contract that came true would collect the proceeds of investors who put money into the market but predicted wrong.

Some are naturally up in arms about it. Read Article.

23
Jun 03
Mon

Incursions onto Royal Property

Well we know that some two-bit comedian gatecrashed the Prince’s 21st, but a more interesting story is when Michael Fagan busted twice into Buckingham Palace in 1982, once into the Queen’s bedroom where he chatted with her for a few minutes before the Queen managed to raise the alarm. He was taken into custody by police. However, trespass was not a criminal offence in 1982. Since it would be unbecoming for the Queen to stand in a civil trial, Fagan was let off by the DPP for his unauthorised entry. He was also found not guilty of theft by a jury after he consumed half a bottle of royal wine in the Palace. Very amusing. In 1984, trespass became a criminal offence. Read more: 1 (anecdotal account), 2 (newspaper articles from 82), 3 (BBC snippet).

15
Jun 03
Sun

Beazley slaughtered by Crean

58 votes to 34. It’s amazing because a few months ago, Labor was in turmoil (it still is), suffering from a lack of vision and insipid leadership. Beazley was looking appealing again because of his drive and passion. Ultimately though, what seems to have happened in the last few weeks is that Beazley screwed up. Labor didn’t want just a salesman, they wanted a salesman with policies to sell. I wonder how this will affect the public’s view of Labor. In any event, I’d wager that Howard will get re-elected by landslide next year, ceteris paribus (I know, that’s a futile assumption in politics).

14
May 03
Wed

Graduates Face Difficult Job Market

It’s happened/happening in Australia, it’s happening in the US. Graduate recruitment is facing tough times. Feels sort of like buying high (into uni in 1999) and selling low (out of uni in 2003) in the stockmarket. Maybe the best time to start uni is when the economy is in the trough of a recession. Of course though, we can’t really control when we were born.

30
Apr 03
Wed

2003 Big Mac Index

The Economist has come out with an updated Big Mac Index. According to the index, the AUD is still around 30% undervalued. Despite the increase in the Aussie in recent months, Maccas hasn’t jacked the price up on the burger very much, so the the undervaluation hasn’t been “alleviated” too much.

4
Apr 03
Fri

Computer Worms

Young computer addicts get ‘aged ailments’.” Mostly fair enough, although I thought a lot of jobs these days, whether IT or not, require you to sit for up to 8 hours in front of a computer.

19
Mar 03
Wed

War has Begun

We relaxed on the library lawn today, enjoying the cooling breeze under a warm Autumn sun as we ate our lunch. Uni was over for most of us for the week, the start of our extended weekend. Class was stimulating and we were discussing the ethical issues concerning selective client representation by lawyers. We were using the case of Swiss banks who held 50-year old Jewish bank accounts from WWII and were refusing to give the money back unless the claimants jumped through some rather impossible hoops.

Meanwhile, literally half a world away, it is well past the witching hour, but the sun will not rise for a few hours. It is 4am, but the children are not asleep. Instead, they are hiding in the darkness, in tattered housing which is about to become even more dilapidated. Parents tremble, children cry. Families shut themselves off from the world, sealing windows, barring doors and clutching paper-thin face masks that they believe will save them from biological and chemical toxins; cowering under paper-thin ceilings that they hope will save them from the bombs. But even the illest-informed of these commoners know what the effect is of bullet through skin. How could they forget? It was only a scant 12 years before, for them. How could anyone forget, even after a life time? They don’t know when it will come, or how it will come, but they know it will come.

We sit in class with a laptop, magically hooked up via a wireless connection to the university network, itself connected to the pulsating mass of cables and transmitters that carry the data of the Internet. In a few minutes, the pulsating mass begins to throb faster and faster as the world anticipates. We load up a news site and find out in our nice air conditioned building, that a man, half a world away again, has declared war on Iraq, shattering decades of UN progress, world cooperation and all the underpinning principles associated with that. For the millions of Iraqi citizens, Bush’s “shock and awe” plan is redundant. They were shocked and awed long ago. But they can’t do a single thing about it.

17
Mar 03
Mon

Gulf War 2

It is now the morning of the 17th in America. A declaration of war, without UN sanction, may be just hours away. The inevitable has finally arrived. I hope that the Australian public does not forget this when the next federal election is called, sometime before March 2005.

16
Feb 03
Sun

Bystander Apathy

This news is shocking. A man gets murdered on a busy street, at a petrol station, in full view of everyone, and no one bothers to call 911. I mean, the man is murdered in full view of a guy pumping petrol, and that guy finishes pumping petrol, pays, and drives off and doesn’t give a shit. And neither does the rest of the street. Psychologists researching bystander apathy will have a field day with this.

9
Feb 03
Sun

Trinity Settles. Apparition is no more.

Trinity settles out of court with bullying victim:

But he felt both teachers and students had more sympathy for thebullies as they had been sports stars at the school and he was accused of being a “dobber”. [...] The effects of the bullying inside Trinity went much further than just the victims. The younger brother of the 14-year-old victim also left Trinity after he had conflicts with boys who branded him the “brother of a dobber”.

Older student still traumatised.

I’m about 5 minutes from Coogee, but I haven’t been up to see the so-called apparition of Virgin Mary. Someone took a bat to the fence in the meantime: Vandals destroy fence that held a vision of Mary

14
Oct 02
Mon

Bali Bombing

What’s there to say, really? Except that news of it has already dropped off the front page of CNN.com. Horrible. For Aussies, not quite as bad as an act of terrorism occurring on our own soil, but about the closest you can get to it.

8
Aug 02
Thu

Airport Security

Things have got plain out of hand when things like this happen. Next, security guards will be frisking breasts to make sure there aren’t any “plastic explosives” hidden underneath there. Thanks Vic (via Wade).

Responses:

about the breastmilk incident (the article from USA Today you linked), when i went to greece in march, they made me open and drink some of the water in each of the 6 500mL bottles i brought as a drink for the plane (not knowing i’d have full free access to a variety of beverages in comically small containers)

i didn’t think much of it at the time, y’know, better to be hassled a little than to go down a-flamin, right?

this isn’t the same situation, but what is the big deal with drinking a little breast milk? teenage guys DREAM about that sorta thing, right? and on top of that, what do you do when you burn your finger, or get a cut? right, assuming it’s not a plasma induced limb melting, or a gash that is causing severe blood loss, you stick it in your mouth and saliva works its first aid miracles.

bodily fluids, especially your own is really no big deal, and if it is, why are you feeding it to someone else?! senseless anger.

“She’s primarily concerned this doesn’t happen to somebody else,” Kuby said. “She does feel the people who did this were plain stupid, and should be punished in some way.”

bullshit. how would punishing this guy for following the rules strictly keep it from happening again? he should get a medal, a commendation or some other citation for good rule following. she should have expected it… what a dumbass, she needs to spend less time henning around walmart, and more time in the real world imho.
- Kevin Cedrone

Well you’re always going to get people who think nothing of incidents like this, any people who take offence. Where do you draw the line? Should security guards exercise common sense?

18
Jun 02
Tue

Stranger than Fiction

Man sentenced to a 5-mile run. Reminds me of that episode of Ed, “Wheel of Justice“.

Sidenote: Television Without Pity is an excellent resource. Great for you missed last night’s episode of <insert showname here> because your mum couldn’t find the Record button on the VCR.

Russian She-Hippo

Man sued for calling chick a hippopotamus. Hahaha. If she can sue the guy for being insulting, surely the guy can sue the girl for being misleading… and causing mental trauma? BTW, a centner is about 100kgs.

15
Jun 02
Sat

WTC 2002

The new design concept for a new WTC looks like a Sim City Arcology. It looks massive, sticks out, and doesn’t really blend into the New York skyline the same way the twin towers did (then again, I imagine nothing other than an exact replica of them would).

6
Jun 02
Thu

Tattooist has last laugh

If you are going to get Chinese written into your skin, at least know the characters you want written there. Otherwise,
something undesirable could happen
. Sure is funny…

7
Apr 02
Sun

SMS Foils Kidnap

Reuters article. One wonders why she just didn’t dial 112 instead. I guess talking aloud would’ve alerted her kidnappers.

25
Feb 02
Mon

Cityrail

Big in news lately is the SMH’s investigative report on Cityrail and Sydney’s rail system (yesterday and today). The updated cityrail network will provide access to places otherwise impossible/hard to access via public transport – such as Drummoyne, the Eastern suburbs (Kingsford, UNSW etc.) and up in the North places such as Frenchs Forest. Unfortunately 80 stations is a massive amount of infrastructure, and it will take decades before that all happens. I also wrote a while back that Sydney was lacking a London “tube-style” underground subway, and that is another thing that has been proposed. The new millennium trains coming into service should be a breath of fresh air. All in all though, when you see and read the stats, the system is pretty awful. I got used to the idea of standing for an hour on the 5.30 train from Central to Campbelltown, but that is not something that should be happening.

A little bit on the East Hills line, which I take:

East Hills. This is the most unreliable line on the network. In fact, its performance is so bad it has dragged down the entire Sydney rail system.

The line has the most complex mix of stopping patterns on the network, increasing the chances of things going wrong. Passengers are offered a wider range of choices than the average steakhouse: fast, fast-medium, medium, snail’s pace.

The delays have been made worse by CityRail’s recent multi-million dollar upgrade of the line between Turella and Kingsgrove – where there are now four tracks – but the rest of the western arm of the line is still only two tracks, leaving no opportunities for overtaking.

Passengers have also had to put up with more crime on this line – 17 assaults and twice as many robberies were committed last financial year.

One of the chief complaints from residents in inner suburbs along the line is that a minimum number of services are forced to go down the Airport Line under the contract for its construction. That route is slower than the older way via Sydenham.

Only four out of five trains ran on time in the financial year 2000-1, although CityRail’s overall performance has improved markedly in recent months.

14
Feb 02
Thu

Hahahah

News Article: “Consumers’ Institute chief executive David Russell said there was no consumer law that protected a customer from being called an ‘arrogant bastard’.” {src: Fuzzy}

11
Feb 02
Mon

Star Signs and Accidents

A study has postulated that there may be a relationship between driving safety and what star sign you belong to. I’ve been bundled into the “restless, easily bored and frustrated” category :) As long as they don’t change premiums based on date of birth…

10
Feb 02
Sun

Patents

Linking Patent Goes to Court. BT wants to cash in on a hyperlinking patent it holds.

3
Feb 02
Sun

Colds

I have managed to contract a cold. I guess it’s appropriate to link this story then: Hong Kongers Talk Too Much, More Likely to Catch Flu.

15
Jan 02
Tue

Headlines

I only just noticed, but Google has a news headlines page off their news resources page.

19
Dec 01
Wed

HSC

HSC UAI marks out. They’re still suppressing results after the Daily Telegraph/Mt Druitt fiasco in 97 (just in time for when I took my HSC in 98). That’s the strange thing about this country – sporting achievement is leagues above any other type of achievement. In this case, academic achievement is seemingly being played down. There’s something to be said when the government feels that Year 12 students that underperform in the HSC must be protected from “feeling too bad about themselves”. It may be that it is related to the tall poppy syndrome inherent in Aussie culture, where playing fields are leveled. Because the new merit lists don’t take into account relative subject difficulty, weaker students have greater opportunity to appear in the lists, whereas stronger students may miss out.

The result of this suppression of information about academic performance is that many top students miss out on any mention in these well-publicised merit lists. There are a great many students who achieve an excellent overall result – scoring a UAI of over 90 which puts them in the top 10 per cent of the state – but fail to be mentioned on a single merit list. To demonstrate this, the Herald asked eight of Sydney’s leading private schools – (public schools are not permitted to release UAI results) – to provide results gathered from last year’s HSC students, selecting out those students who achieved a UAI of 90 or more and seeing how many missed out on a merit listing.

The results were startling. In schools such as Sydney Grammar, SCECGS Redlands, SCEGGS Darlinghurst and The Scots College, almost half of these high achievers failed to gain a mention. At Sydney Grammar, for instance, 64 of the 130 students who got UAIs above 90 were not on the merit list. At Ascham, Newington, Ravenswood and Trinity more than a third with UAIs of over 90 missed the list. One state headmaster, who would not be named, said similar patterns existed for the higher performing public schools. Similar distortions occur in the publication of what the Board of Studies has called its “all-rounders list” – comprising students who appear on merit lists in at least 10 units.

Responses:

Can’t believe that UAi comes out day after. It’s BS. Can print every name in City-Surf, but can’t print 100 UAI.
- Kev (via SMS)

Trains Stop

Burga, get back to work! :) Two more days at work… two more days until Singapore… three until Thailand!

9
Dec 01
Sun

M5 East

The M5 East freeway opens to cars today. The M5 motorway links with the F5 freeway near Campbelltown and goes all the way to King Georges Road. The new extension, a government project which opens a half year ahead of schedule(!), will extend the M5 so that it pops out really close to the airport. It comprises 8km of tunnels. This means travel times from Camden to Kingsford will probably be slashed by a good 15 minutes. No more travelling up Stoney Creek and Forest Rds. Awesome. M5 East Map and info.

10
Nov 01
Sat

Election 2001

As predicted, Liberal stays in government for its third consecutive term.

8
Nov 01
Thu

Trains

Sydney-siders, be aware. Major rail maintenance in the city circle over this weekend.

5
Nov 01
Mon

Election 2001

Federal Election happens this Saturday. Some links: ABC coverage, ABC’s weblog, AEC site. Also, most school kids learn how votes are worked out for the preferential voting system for the House of Reps (which is what all the election day action concerns), but for the Senate, things are slightly different.

I need to find a site that will give live updates on results come Saturday…

Melbourne Cup

The Melbourne Cup is on this afternoon. I have no bet, I’m clueless when it comes to horse racing.
Update: The favourite, Ethereal, won.

11
Sep 01
Tue

Terrorist Attack

Y’know, Slashdot’s forums are very reminiscent of the forums of “The Nets” in Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. Lots of links and commentary from Slashdot here. All CNN coverage here. Time eyewitness accounts. Photos from Brooklyn. Obviously when disasters like this happen, people scour the prophecies looking for correlations. I’ve seen Nostradamus’ “Two brothers torn apart by Chaos” prophecy circulating around (dodgy hoax). The NY Times have a few multimedia and interactive features on their site. A few bits of irreverent “humour” have cropped up around the place too (as can be expected): 1 {src: Fuzzy} 2 {src: Solo}and there’s a “all your base” spoof I’ve seen too.

Holy Fuck

It’s like it was a movie, but not. If you haven’t heard about it by now, you will soon. It’s being declared everywhere that the US is “under attack” by terrorists who have crashed commercial airliners into the World Trade Centre and Pentagon. It’s being covered everywhere (tv, radio, etc) but for a starting point online, try the usual CNN. I wonder what the repercussions for the rest of the world will be… At least it wasn’t a nuke they set off.

22
Apr 01
Sun

Taiwanese Student MP3 bust

Article on the Register. I don’t know why it would have been much trouble for the cops to have gotten a search warrant:

“I need a warrant to search these peoples’ computers for MP3s.”
“What grounds do you have for suspecting them of having illegal copyrighted material?”
“They’re university students.”
“Ok.”

“Free” Beer

24,000 beer bottles plunged into a river.

20
Jan 01
Sat

What Trinity is going through is truly, truly shocking. Read it all here. To think I went to that school… The allegations of “coverups” aren’t the least bit surprising though.

1
Dec 00
Fri

Kids Selling Porn in Playgrounds

Uh huh :)

Weird News

A blind woman can now see again. That’s after she bumped her head into a table after leaning down to pat her guide dog. Doctors are mystified.

21
Nov 00
Tue

When is Unlimited not Unlimited?

When the ACCC says so. Optus can’t claim its cable is “unlimited” anymore.

19
Nov 00
Sun

You can’t be serious

McHotels is the latest venture of McDonalds. What a troubling thought.

14
Nov 00
Tue

Trinity’s Woes Continue…

As if assault with a “homemade phallic device” wasn’t bad enough, the charges have been upgraded to 11 counts of group rape. Full article appeared in the SMH last Saturday, viewable here, but the meat of the story is this:

Four boys from Trinity Grammar committed sex offences against two of their schoolmates over a four-month period, Bidura Children’s Court was told yesterday.

The four have been charged with 15 offences, including 11 counts of group sexual intercourse without consent between May and September this year at the Summer Hill school.

The charges comprise aggravated indecent assault and aggravated sexual assault and common assault.

Yikes.

8
Nov 00
Wed

Yeh

Florida’s being recounted… damn it’s close.

2
Nov 00
Thu

More TGS News

Remember how I was talking about the assault charges laid on a few Trinity boarders a week or so ago? Now, what if I told you that the dildo (apparently nicknamed the “Damaging Dildo”) was not only used to bash the Year 8 kid, but to sodomise him as well? You’d say, “bullshit that can’t be true”, right? Well, that’s what I thought. Until today:

"Aggravated Indecent Assault"
Daily Telegraph, Nov 2, 2000 (pg. 2)

“Homemade phallic device” is a euphemism if I ever heard one… I only hope they sanded down the thing which was made in woodwork class. Can you imagine the splinters if they didn’t?

(Man… can you imagine what the Knox boys would be chanting at the CAS carnivals now? I’m so thankful this didn’t happen while I was still in the school…)

1
Nov 00
Wed

SIA Plane Crash

Read about the Singapore airlines crash in Taiwan. I think this means that Qantas is the only airline in the world with a zero-fatality rating. (But it’s only a matter of time, unfortunately. Let’s hope, a very long time.) SIA completely ripped down their site and turned it exclusively into providing news about the ill-fated flight SQ006. I’ve never seen a company do that before.

28
Oct 00
Sat

Microsoft Hacked

Some crackers put a trojan on a Microsoft computer and have been siphoning passwords and source code from them for about 3 months. MSNBC report.

16
Oct 00
Mon

Student Reveals: “I Was Bashed By Dildo!”

It made the front page in Sunday’s papers, that a few students from Trinity were up for assault charges. Trinity’s my old school, and it’s quite troubling that something like this could not only happen, but that it was actually publicised in national papers (bullying happens in all schools I’m sure – Trinity just had the misfortune to have this go public). Anyhow, the rumours that have been filtering through tell of a bunch of Year 10 boarders bullying a Year 8 kid. Among the “50 cases of assault” are things like tying up the kid with rope, opening the shower door on him and snapping photos of him while naked, and, also allegedly (and most disturbingly) beating the poor guy up with a homemade dildo created during woodwork class. What they were going with a dildo in an all boy’s school is another question that is probably best left unanswered. They are boarders, after all :).

2
Sep 00
Sat

Fishermen Find Colleague’s Head Inside Fish

This is grisly enough to be an urban legend, but of course, it’s not.

26
Jul 00
Wed

Poetic Justice

So not all lawyers are boring. Just a little wacky.

6
Jun 00
Tue

Hahahah!

The Offspring are selling unlicenced Napster clothing off their web site. Damn that’s funny. Read more here.

30
May 00
Tue

Cityrail Shit

They can’t do anything right can they? “The State Government’s fare-free day on the city’s beleagured rail system turned into an expensive farce today when hundreds of commuters rushed ticket offices to cash in on 20 per cent discounts for monthly, quarterly and annual tickets.” This week, they were meant to sell weekly tickets at 20% off. A computer glitch made it so people could get monthly, quarterly and yearly tickets at 20% off too. (I missed out, which is part of my annoyance). However, “A spokesman for the Minister for Transport, Mr Scully, confirmed the mix-up which follows revelations that commuters who use a combined ferry/train or bus/train tickets will not get the discount.” Which means I don’t get a discount on my weekly Travelpass (which is a bus/train/ferry combined pass). Read more. Free fare day has caused them more bad publicity than good: “[Kerry Chikarovski] claimed the fare-free day, announced by Mr Scully to apologise for continuing problems on the system, had caused absolute havoc among State Rail senior executives and had ‘blown the cost to taxpayers out of the water’“. Yeah – guess who has to pay for their mistake? Morons.

“Last week, Mr Scully publicly admitted that his transport system was so bad that commuters should not be forced to pay to catch a train. Today’s ticketing fiasco is further proof of a system in absolute shambles – being run by an incompetent Minister who has continually failed to take responsibility for the mess. Mr Scully must be sacked for his total incompetence in announcing a gimmick that will now cost taxpayers dearly – money that always should have been used to fix our ailing transport system to make sure trains run on time, were not overcrowded and dirty.” [SMH]

26
May 00
Fri

I Live In…

Cowshit Lane. Well I don’t, but some people do. However, phone calls to my home register as phone calls to “Cowpastures” on the phone bill. No Westie jokes, please.

23
May 00
Tue

GST – New Prices

Expected price variations as a result of the GST being introduced have been released. For example, computer systems are expected to drop 3.6-4.6% in price (the wholesale sales tax of 22% is being replaced by the GST of 10% – isn’t that a 12% drop? where’s the rest of the discount disappearing to?), CD prices will also drop (only by a dollar or two), etc. etc.

Power 50

The top 50 people with power in Asia.

13
Apr 00
Thu

Optus Free SMSing

Optus is running a nifty promotion. Sourced from here. Thanks to Fuzz *”* for this!! Of course, the only reason why people go for Optus mobiles is because they have all the freebies (yes time, yes weekend, and now this). Otherwise it has the worst reception and service of the lot of mobile phone carriers.

Optus is offering free SMS messages until the end of May 2000 to Optus mobile digital customers (except Optus Express, Optus Analogue, MobileSat and Optus CDMA customers). So now is a great time to talk without talking by sending text messages to most compatible mobile digital phones connected to a GSM mobile network within Australia. This promotion is available 24 hours per day, 7 days a week from 12/4/2000 until 31/5/2000.

11
Apr 00
Tue

Exchange Rate

It dropped below 60c to the US Dollar, and is slated to fall to 55c. The Aussie dollar is now ranked the 7th worst currency in the world. Screw Dat!! No more buying from Amazon for a while…

16
Mar 00
Thu

Hug an Aussie Day?

Seen in today’s column 8:

A GRIM coincidence: Hug an Australian Day, to be observed in the US on April 26 (Column 8, Tuesday), coincides with Stop Domestic Violence Day in this State.

15
Mar 00
Wed

Various News

I archived the soapbox history from August 1998 – February 2000.

In other news, we have a classic item that goes nicely into the “only in America” category: 10 Year-old Boy Stabs Father to Death. The stupidity involved in that incident is incredible.

This is also interesting, the premier of Western Australia supports capital punishment (onoly for Western Australia alone though). It will be interesting to see what happens. I wonder what the US would be like without capital punishment…

1
Mar 00
Wed

Hmm

All I can say is, lucky guy.

27
Feb 00
Sun

A Hi-jack With a Difference

Heheh… employees get “revenge” on management.

21
Feb 00
Mon

Poisoning the Queen

Some underchef-in-training working in the Queen’s kitchen got sacked for making comments on how easy it would be to poison the Queen with cyanide. I wonder what punishment would have befell her if this was a few centuries ago, when the monarchy still meant something? Hung for treason :) Now, she’d probably sue for unfair dismissal.

5
Feb 00
Sat

Ermmm…

Click. Hey, it’s not April 1 yet.

24
Jan 00
Mon

Freaky News Item of the Day

“Doc Zorro” carves initials into woman’s abdomen. That’s a rather scary article. I don’t get it though – the nurses just stood around while the Doctor scapeled in his initials? Thanks to Fuzz for that newsbit.

14
Jan 00
Fri

Headlines

• Usenet threatens @Home with UDP – I’ve never heard of UDPs until I read this, but they do demonstrate a positive side to the net. The users can make the corporations listen, and there’s nothing the corporations can really do about it (there’s certainly no one to sue)
• DNA Computer – How many of you know how a CPU works… I mean really works (given you’re not a hardware engineer or something). You know it works on electrical impulses, gates, transistors and a whole lot of 0 and 1s, right? But not much else. DNA CPUs are even weirder… not to mention Quantum computing – but both are still years away to be of any practical use.
• Gates No Longer CEO Of MS – But he’s still Chairman. And he’s still richer than Steve Ballmer.

12
Jan 00
Wed

Bid Overthrown For Oatley Campus

My uni, UNSW, is trying to get rid of a remote campus. Throughout the past year, my old high school, Trinity, has been trying to acquire it offering $19 million for it. Now, it has been “sold” to the government for $4 million. Rumours have it that one of the reasons Trinity wanted this extra campus (which would house years 7-9), which is situated South of Sydney to not only enrol more students from other areas, but to bolster the school’s sports teams (rugby, especially) – apparently after year 9, students from the two junior schools would merge into the same, single campus. Pretty weird, but I wouldn’t put it past the new guy in charge (the same guy that was quoted saying these these things: “…recognise the economic… err… educational advantages of the IB [International Baccalaureate]” and “We all have a role to pay. I mean, play.”). Deal’s off, thankfully.

Time-Warner/AOL Merger

Yeah it made front page news here too.

Sanity At Last?

Tabloid The Daily Telegraph ran an article entitled “Not guilty – Why computer games don’t turn players into violent anti-social slobs”. Excerpts:

Computer games do not prompt players to morph into anti-social, aggressive couch-potatoes, a four-year Government-sponsored report has found.

The majority of players feel happy, exhilarated, relaxed or challenged when playing, according to researches, who witnessed “very little overt aggression” in video arcades. “The main type of aggression was robust tratement of the equipment. Verbal aggression towards others was negligible and, if it did occurm, laughter and playful talk accompanied it,” the report states. Researchers point to international research which suggests that playing computer games can improve children’s co-ordination and analytical skills, increase interest in computer education and enjoyment of leisure time.

“There is little reason to believe that the activity itself should be a cause for concern and little evidence that it is a major source of anxiety within the community,” according to the report. “Young players reported that the aggressive content is not the central attraction of games. Many players said that they perceive the aggressive content as fantastic and preposterous, with the result that they do not take it seriously.”

But it was still a tabloid. An accompanying picture of a wild-eyed psycho was captioned, “Cleared… this Playstation character does not make players more aggressive.”

21
Dec 99
Tue

Mormons, eh? Come in, have some coffee and biscuits…

“MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) A man received a suspended two-month jail sentence Friday for feeding hash cookies to two unsuspecting American Mormons.” Read on. Anyone have any funny run-ins with street-roaming religious fanatics? [Source: SNoT]

12
Nov 99
Fri

Beanie Babies

They strike again. Not kids at each others throats with steak knives this time, though. Just a divorced couple and a judge on a courtroom floor divvying up a couple thousand dollars worth of those things…

1
Nov 99
Mon

Drunk Driving

Always funny to hear a celeb get charged with drink driving. 0.135 is pretty far over the limit… funny how the media covers more on her “mental and physical breakdown” than anything else… If she didn’t get booked, would she have had that breakdown? I might sound cruel, but to me it sounds slightly like a cover to divert attention away from the intoxicated person in question.

27
Sep 99
Mon

Swede Acquitted

Remember that Swedish teenager that got busted for makin a site that linked MP3s? He got acquitted. Good to hear they have common sense.

However, the court said he was innocent because he only posted links to other sites on the Internet where the music files could be found.

14
Sep 99
Tue

Telstra Trialing Internet Call Waiting

Telstra is trialing a new service which lets you be dialed up to an ISP and receive voice calls on the same phone number. What happens is that the phone call is diverted through to your computer (basically the computer becomes the phone). It’s a free trial, and even though I have separate phone lines I’m gonna test it out anyway.

Solowatch ’99

Holy shit huh? Tune in to Solosier. He’s potentially in the direct path of hurricane Floyd. It looks like, from the latest weather map, it will hit Tuesday evening. About 15 hours from now. In Aussie news

Hurricane Floyd bears down on Florida
More than one million people were told to evacuate the Atlantic coast and NASA all but abandoned Cape Canaveral as Hurricane Floyd – one of the most powerful storms ever to threaten the United States – charged toward Florida with potentially catastrophic 250 kph winds.

Floyd was much larger than Hurricane Andrew, which smashed into South Florida in 1992, causing $US25 billion in damage, killing 26 people and leaving 160,000 homeless.

Floyd looks BIG. I expect a damage report :)

11
Sep 99
Sat

Sweedish Sued for Linking MP3s

Link. Storing mp3s on the server is one thing. Linking to them is totally different (or so I thought). It’s pretty weird that they sue a 17 year old for something like this – the fine, if he’s found guilty, is about US$150 (about the amount of money he’s made from banner ads. What was the point?

28
Jul 99
Wed

GST

Well the GST got passed a while back and tomorrow will see the first round of it being phased in. The wholesale sales tax gets replaced with the GST. As a result, computer component prices will drop by about 10%. Mmmm.

20
Jul 99
Tue

Happenings

JFK Jr, wife and sister in law died. Yup you know this already. Front page news for days, even here.

6
Jul 99
Tue

Whoa bro get a whiff of this…

Some Malaysian youths sniffing cow dung. News from the Straits Times. Those are some very bored Malaysians… Thanks to Kev.

3
Jul 99
Sat

GST

So much for the Democrats (the party with the “keep those bastards honest” campaign motto). Australian good and services tax got passed by parliament this Monday – due in mid-2000. I reckon, as I posted some time last year, that we needed this tax reform. And it means cheaper computer hardware/software :).

Collins Class Submarine

Hahahha. Said to be “the most lethal submarines the Western world has known” five of these submarines produced for the Australian Navy turned out to be duds. And they produced six of them. What a joke. Australia would be such an easy target should a war break out… such a large landmass, small population (only 18 million) and crappy military force.

17
Jun 99
Thu

CNN Fringe Headlines

• Italians now free to duel, drink, beg and blaspheme
• Man accused of assaulting woman with 10 pound fish
• Scotland’s Nessie sighted — on the Internet
• Christian biker clubs duke it out over Jesus logo and name (hahahaha)
• County throws away $43,000 in coins
[All From CNN]

Beazley – PIED

Kim Beazley (leader of Labor – the federal opposition party) was slapped in the face with a lemon meringue pie today. He so fits the bill of an Aussie “bloke” (esp. with that gut). He licks at the pie and says, “That’s the best feed I’ve had today.” I dunno why they went after Beazley – he’s likeable as a person… Howard’s the “dignified” one – he’s got a vague air about him of being snobby. Beazley didn’t press charges. Almost makes me want to vote for him.

9
May 99
Sun

Guy shoots person who had a crush on him

Hey, I mean, how would you feel if someone told national television they had a crush on you? And they were the same gender as you? (And you were straight, of course). Crazy stuff.

30
Apr 99
Fri

Typical of the French

The bloody French are suing their weather forecasting service cos they failed to predict a hailstorm. Ah huh. Sydney had the largest hailstorm since white settlement (1788) a fortnight ago. Hailstones as big as tennis balls! Went to uni and there were smashed windows on various buildings. A few of my friends’ houses were pretty badly damaged, and as for cars… Millions and millions of dollars worth of damage and yet, no attempt has been made by anyone to sue the weather bureau. But the French have.

27
Apr 99
Tue

In The News

Remember the infamous blue screen crash of Windows 98 at Comdex last year? Of course, huh? But the real question that’s been on everyone’s minds is – what happened the poor guy who had to take the crash? “Was he taken out the back and shot, or given a 10 minute head start before the dogs were unleashed? Whatever did happen to the poor guy who crashed Bill Gates’s computer in front of the TV cameras?” That question was answered at Comdex 99, which started Monday. The guy’s name is Chris Capossela. Find out about it in The Australian or at MSNBC.

23
Apr 99
Fri

Heh

This week’s attack inspired a copycat act by teen-agers on Wednesday, although there were no weapons involved. Four teens were charged with trespassing in Colorado Springs after arriving at a school in trench coats and masks.

“The suspects were mocking yesterday’s events,” a police statement said.
[Source: AP]

16
Apr 99
Fri

Anwar

Well as you’ve heard by now, Anwar Ibrahim (former deputy PM of Malaysia) has been sentenced to 6 years jail. I think it’s pretty damn clear now that the Malaysian judicial system is well and truly corrupt. I still can’t work out what he was sentenced for (there wasn’t any backing for the sexual allegations) but I do know that it was three times longer than what is normally given out.

12
Apr 99
Mon

Something Strange

http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/19990412_1531291_251_0104.asp – I guess this is a lesson to all that none should evade their taxi fares. Thanks to Fuzz.

27
Mar 99
Sat

State Election

The Labor party has been re-elected as Kerry Chikarovski’s coalition has been massacred. She conceeded defeat pretty early in the night. Link.

15
Mar 99
Mon

News from the Left Field

WARSAW — Nato’s latest recruits from Poland are often smelly; many do not get time to wash and some change their underwear only once a month. Source: Reuters

Link to the stink.

In Other News…

An Egyptian truck driver cut his wife’s throat and beheaded her in a mad rage after she accused him of earning too little and slapped him, police said. Source: AFP

Yikes. “Wife who belittled hubby, beheaded.” Crazy Egyptians :).

23
Feb 99
Tue

The Lost Brain

Here’s an article on how they lost this chap’s brain for about 80 years, then found it preserved in a warehouse. Not as grizzly as it sounds, but it is as strange as it sounds.

14
Feb 99
Sun

Clinton Acquited in Senate Trial

Just in case you haven’t heard yet. Yeah. Right.

6
Feb 99
Sat

$5,000,000,000

It appears that Bill Gates (and his wife) have decided to make donations to charity totalling $5 Billion (all values in Aussie dollars). That’s a shitload of money, in anyone’s language. It’s the biggest donation to charity, ever, and is a bit of an improvement from his “miserly” $100 million donation last year. Gates’ worth is estimated at $130 Billion, so the donation is about 4% of his worth (and an even greater proportion of his yearly earnings). I’m betting he’ll still be in the black this year. Regardless, it’s a significant gift, but there will always be cynics that won’t be happy until the guy gives all his money away and Microsoft burns to the ground.

10
Dec 98
Thu

As seen in the newspapers

Read in the papers yesterday that the Wax Gallery Madame Tussaud’s (sp?) were having some trouble with their wax figure of Bill Clinton. Apparently, patrons keep unzipping his fly. HAHAHAHA… so in the end they had to sew up the zip, and check back on the President’s pants to “avoid embarrasment”. Furthermore, people taking their picture with the President are often doing it in a kneeling position :D.

10
Sep 98
Thu

Starr Report

Released! One step close to possible impeachment :). Here’s a list of impeachable offenses.

5
Sep 98
Sat

Sydney Water (yet again)

This is an absolute farce. Sydney’s water supply is stuffed again, with contamination “worse than before”. I think no one cares if they get sick anymore…

28
Aug 98
Fri

Boris Rumoured to Resign

They’re trying to impeach Yeltsin for “crimes against the State”, and there also have been rumours that Boris is going to resign in the next weeks. Noo! I like Boris – world’s most powerful alcoholic :).

Global Economic Meltdown

The Aussie Dollar fell to the the 55 cent mark yesterday against the US dollar. We were thinking of going over to the States at the end of this year (when the dollar was at 80c) but this has put a lid on those plans. Apparently the falls in dollars all over the world have led some economists to forecast that there will be a global depression of the same scale as the Great Depression in the 1930s occurring. Man, we’re part of history in the making if that happens. 50 years down the track and grandchildren are gonna be asking us “what was it like living in the nineties, in the Greater Depression (or whatever)?” What a thought.

Water Contaminated … again

That really bites. Sydney water has been contaminated again with Giardia (sp?) and Cryptosporidium (sp?) – some bugs that cause sickness (basically). This time the problem is really widespread, and apparently, bug levels are 100 times higher than they were with the last contamination alert (only about 3 weeks ago). Now we gotta boil our water for a minute before we drink it – you can’t drink from the tap. To make matters worse, the bloody water board doesn’t even know where the hell the bugs are coming from. Friggin crappy infrastructure… can’t even get clean water.

25
Aug 98
Tue

More on the concrete chuckers

Addition to the last post… Well there were four psychopaths – 2 adults and 2 teenagers. What they did was they loaded up a car with rocks and broken concerte slabs and spent a bit of time chucking it off the overpass. Then check this out… after they killed the guy, they drove off to a party. Wait – it gets “better” – the way the cops found out it was them was because they returned to the bridge to take photos of the scene. How sick and twisted are they? Bail wasn’t granted due to the “lack of remorse shown” and danger to society etc. Now they got murder charges against them.

Concrete Chucker Caught

A couple days ago some loser chucked a slab of concrete off an expressway overpass. Some truckie was driving under at the time and the slab smashed through the window and killed the truckie instantly (he was the father in a family with two children). The news on tv got a shot of the truck windscreen and there’s this massive hole – dead center – through the driver’s side. I really don’t understand the dumbasses who do that sort of thing… they’ve got NFI… totally NFI. Anyway, I heard he was caught. I wonder what’s going to happen to him… Actually now Dad’s telling me that there were two teenagers and two adults and they all got charged with murder and not manslaughter (not sure of accuracy of this info).

31
Jul 98
Fri

Water Bug

There’s bugs in Sydney water. If you drink it, the symptoms (which may take up to 3 weeks to appear), include chronic diarrhoea (how the hell do you spell that word??), smelly burps, frequent flatulence (so you can be Mr Methane for a day!) and stomach pains. 3 weeks = in trial period. As for me, well I’m in whoop whoop, so Camden’s not affected :). Take it, urbanites!

9
Jul 98
Thu

Take it Skase!

Almost got Skase… the Spanish government has decided to terminate Skase’s residency because he doesn’t have his Aussie passport anymore :). Once the order goes through, he’ll have 15 days to leave. The problem is, the country he goes to may be one Australia can’t extradite him from. I guess it’s wait and see again, but there’s a chance we’ll get the bastard now :). He’s probably one of Australia’s most hated men.

8
Jun 98
Mon

Ah Crap

The Aussie dollar hit a 12-year low today, falling below 60 US cents. Even the RBA couldn’t halt the fall when it intervened today. Can’t shop over the net anymore… too expensive :).

4
Jun 98
Thu

El Niño Over

The El Nino Effect has officially been declared as over. You can’t blame bad weather on El Nino anymore.

31
May 98
Sun

7-5! 7-5! 7-5!

WTF am I talking about? Well the Pakis released another 2 bombs, and that takes the nuclear scoreline between the two countries to 7 – 5 (Pakistan’s way). Go the Pakis :).

29
May 98
Fri

150%!

Russian Interest Rates hit 150% the other day. You read that right, 150%. What were you saying about the stability of the Russian economy, Kisliakov? :)

23
May 98
Sat

Shooting

Another school shooting in the States. Some guy who got expelled for bringing a gun to school returned for vengeance. The troubling thing is he knew he was going to come back and “do something stupid” (told to his friends). One person is dead, and he also shot his parents (I’m not sure if this is confirmed). I can say that there will be a few more of these reports before the year’s end, and each time, it’ll move from the front pages of newspapers to small columns, to single paragraphs… How depressing.

25
Mar 98
Wed

Yeltsin

Haha. Russia has “political stability”? I think not. A couple days ago, Boris sacked his entire cabinet, including the Prime Minister. Too much Vodka probably.

Only in America…

Two kids 11 and 13 gunned down 5 of their classmates yesterday. One of them rang the fire bell to get the school to file out of class, and when they did, they fired around 30 shots at them. 11 were injured. Pretty shocking, but I guess that’s what you get when a state doesn’t make it illegal for minors to possess firearms(!!). They shot from about 100m away, and had four shotguns/rifles between them. Link to CNN.

4
Mar 98
Wed

Police Murderer Found

Amazing. The police force managed to track down the cop-killer within a couple days. Good on them. Maybe it’s not so amazing since they were only teens and one of them turned themselves in. Four people were arrested, one charged with murder and attempted murder, and the other three charged with concealing a serious crime. What happened to the drugs though? Aren’t they getting busted for trying to sell them?

1
Mar 98
Sun

In the News…

On the front page of the SMH today was a story about two off-duty policemen who got stabbed (one who’s now dead) by two teens (aged 16 and 18) on the street. Allegedly, the two teens were trying to sell off some crack to the policemen, and when the policemen tried to arrest them, one of the teens pulled out a knifed and stabs two of them. The other policemen (there were 3) gives chase, but has to abort because of his wounded companions. Obviously, the teens didn’t give a stuff that they were police (they showed them their badges before they got stabbed). The bastards that exist in the world today are incredible… Well I think the only way to stop this sort of thing is to give the police more power. This may or may not be wise, due to the corruption present (although thankfully much of it has been weeded out), but if you have a society in which police lose their power, and society loses respect for them, then you have a society in deep $#!+.

9
Feb 98
Mon

Howard Agrees to “Support” Clinton in Gulf

From an annoucement by Howard today, Australia has agreed to commit about 300 Australian troops to aid Clinton in the Gulf. Well, that’s good, but 300 troops is just a token contribution, just telling the world “look we have no army, but we good friends with the US”.

4
Feb 98
Wed

Gates creamed by pie!

gatespie.jpg (35013 bytes)Hahahahaha. Uncle Bill (“The Bill stops here” & “and Bill’s your uncle” – My own ™s :) got hit by a pie. Yes – literally – hit by a pie! Haha. Just check out the picture to the right – yes it’s real, it’s Gates and it’s unaltered (I got it from the link below). It happened in Belgium. Now I don’t have any grudges against Gates (although many do) – I always thought that while a ruthless businessman he may be, he was a sorta down-to-earth guy – y’know, how he flies economy class (before the Lear Jet he reluctantly bought was purchased), how he eats at Hungry Jacks for lunch etc. Besides, he’s not the only one making MS’s decisions. There’s a whole board room. But after seeing the movie, and his reaction, he doesn’t seem so nice anymore. Sure, I wouldn’t like to have been hit by a pie, yeah sure it would’ve been humiliating — but — it was a joke (MS isn’t laying charges, just as well), and he could’ve taken it as a joke. I mean it wasn’t really dangerous (ruined the suit, but just buy another!). However, he looked really disgruntled, and ran off (looking like some  conman that current affairs programs chase with a camera). When they asked him for a comment, he just kept a grim face and kept walking. C’mon, that wouldn’t raise any popularity points. At least he could’ve smiled and joked about it or something. Made some witty comment. That movie will be on all over the world. Maybe he’s not as down-to-earth as I think. Oh well…

Read more about it on cnn’s website, including a QuickTime movie of his “strategic withdrawal” :
http://www.cnn.com/TECH/computing/9802/04/belgium.gates.ap/

A profile of Gates on cnn.com reads:

Microsoft’s work environment has been shaped by Gates. There is
no bureaucracy or conformity to a dress code, but an atmosphere
of openness, flexibility and intellectual rigor.
[But...] Employee turnover is
low. Workers often take salary cuts to join the company and work
double the typical eight-hour workday. Gates himself is a
demanding taskmaster, battering his staff with technical challenges
and finding flaws in their work.
[But...] Still, he elicits strong employee
loyalty.

Interesting… Also, it is thought that the pie attack may be attributed to Noel Godin – a man attributed to his famous pie attacks on famous people. While unconfirmed, an article on Godin reads :

Good humor, in fact, is all a target need demonstrate to obtain mercy, Godin says. In May 1985, Godard was entarte at the Cannes festival, a favorite stalking ground for Godin, who claims he is now banned from entering the French Riviera town. The famed director licked thoughtfully at the thick cream on his face and played down the whole thing. He was never targeted again.

I’m still laughing.

2
Feb 98
Mon

General News (Real News :)

• Umm… okay the first day of the ten day Constitutional Convention was held. I’m for a republic, just in case you were wondering…
• I’m a fan of most things regarding sci-fi. So what did I read in the SMH SIT (Stay in Touch) section today? Sci-fi writer Arthur C. Clarke has admitted to being a pedophile. Dirty ol’ bugger. He’s pretty casual about it too (not on the run like one Mr Bell), but does that make it better or worse? Either way, he’ll be knighted soon. Heh. Sir Elton the Gay (not that there’s anything wrong with it you say. I think there is but that’s personal and I don’t hold it against him (okay, maybe I do). But I still like his music). And now its Sir Clarke the Pederast (there is something wrong with this). What a joke. Republic I say! Dump the Monarch :). I still like ACC’s writing though – it’s legendary. Go read the Rama series (I’ll find an amazon.com link for it later).



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