Farewell good and faithful servant

Pluto is no more. Well it’s still there. But now that it has no “planet” status is anyone going to care? The process, or act, of deplaneting a large orbiting object is interesting and probably sets a dangerous precedent. Who gave International Astronomical Union the final say over planetary status? I didn’t. Did you? I heard recently that you can purchase yourself a star in the solar system from a particular company who claim to own them. How does that work? I think I’ll start selling blocks of land on Neptune (for the non astronomy buffs out there – Neptune is gaseous)* Space is a funny business. The last great frontier (presumably the bottom of the ocean isn’t great – nobody seems to have claimed land in the depths of the sea yet either). But I digress…

I’ve written an obituary for Pluto (and by I’ve written I mean I’m writing it now – and you’re reading it after I wrote it – which means it happened in the past. Unless you invented a time machine and some how breached the space time continuum (wow space and time travel – this post is a geek’s dream))…

Pluto was a loyal and trustworthy companion. Dogs are not only a man’s best friend but a mouse’s as well. When John Steinbeck wrote Of Mice and Men he should have penned the sequel “Of Mice and Men and their Dogs.” There were many occasions where Pluto came to my rescue…

Actually confusing the planet with the Disney character isn’t as funny as I’d hoped it would be. To continue in that vein would be to flog the proverbial dead horse – or in this case dead dog… or rather, dead planet. Flogging an inanimate object is futile. So I’ll stop. In fact I’m not really able to work up a full head of steam over Pluto’s demotion into the “Dwarf Planet” category – except to say that it strikes me as a little politically incorrect to have a problem with “dwarf” status. I mean at the end of the day dwarf planets are like every other planet – just horizontally and vertically challenged.

Mmm. Clearly I should spend more time writing stupid stuff and less time on Press Releases, election briefs and other serious matters.

*I’m not claiming to be an astronomy buff – I had to track down a gaseous planet for the purpose of that joke. And by joke I mean statement.

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Long time no blog…

I apologise for my lack of blogging lately. I would suggest attributing it to a complete lack of blogworthy content. Any other suspicions would no doubt be completely unfounded.

I was a Hair’s breadth away from posting some form of comment on the Pakistan cricket fiasco… but then decided not to. If Darrell Hair really does believe ball tampering was going on then good on him for taking a stand. Lucky Dean Jones wasn’t commentating at the time the Pakistani decision not to return to the field was clearly an act of sporting terrorism.

There’s a state election happening in Queensland soon. It must be the least exciting election ever. When you have to choose between an incumbent idiot and two challenging idiots who do you choose? Actually, Springborg strikes me as a really genuine kind of guy, it’s a shame he genuinely has no policy solutions for the health and water crises… neither of which are of his making. It seems unfair that he should have to clean up Beattie’s mess, and be punished for not knowing where to begin. That would be like me having to tidy my housemate’s room – or vice versa.

There were also some interesting word things that I thought I might blog about – but you can look up anally retentive on wikipedia for yourselves.

I went to Magnetic Island again yesterday with a journo from the SMH. It’s the first time I’ve hosted a journalist there in sunshine. We conducted site (and sight (i’ll never tire of that pun)) inspections of some very nice new developments over there that I’d buy if I had the money.

Blog By Email version 1

This is the coolest invention ever. Cooler than sliced bread. Cooler than any of those other time saving devices dreamed up (somewhat ironically) by people with too much time on their hands. I can write an email from anywhere to my blog and it gets posted. Mattias asked why I thought that was cool. Well Mattias, let me tell you why it’s so cool. It makes writing a blog entry heaps easier. I can do it in about half the time. You’ll notice my reason here has changed since this was originally posted.

It’s 5.30 now, and I’m still at work. This is actually a test email because I’m not sure my emails are working. I guess there are other things I could be doing at 5.30 in the afternoon, because there are always new bits and pieces to write about Townsville. It’s a happening place.

In fact you should all move to Townsville. Every one of my readers (that’s right, all two of you). (I think that kind of feels a bit like I’ve done some work now).

I don’t really have a lot to blog about today… except the fact that I’m happily declaring myself a hypocrite. I knew all those years of bagging out couples for being couples would come back to haunt me.

A few weeks ago I mentioned a defamation case involving a NSW politician Michael Costa. He’s suing a radio station for airing a claim that he paid a visit to a lady of the night. That case got a mention in the papers yesterday – but a new and different case piqued my interest. TV host Ian Turpie, the luminary host of such classics as The Price is Right. Apparently Machiavelli was right, every man has his price*… for Turpie it took a few dollars to claim that he was suffering impotency – he was taken to court for faking it. My question is – does he now launch a defamation action to defend his impotency? Sounds like he’s between a rock and a hard place… or not. Sorry. That was bad. In fact this whole post was fairly gratuitous. I’m just enjoying my new toy (actually it’s not really a toy – more a convenient shift in technology).

*as quoted in A Man For All Seasons

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An interesting linguistic quirk

Hello loyal readers.

I just noticed something funny that I’d like to share with you all.

Traditionally the indefinite article “a” is used before nouns beginning with a consonant, whereas the indefinite article “an” is used before a noun beginning with a vowel. Like any rules there are exceptions – for example you have a university not an university.

It occured to me while writing this morning that you have an “f” not a “f”, or an “x” not a “x”. It would seem the usage rule boils down to the sound at the start of the word… phonetically speaking (or spelling) university would be yoo-nee-ver-city, which is a consonant sound – although y can also operate as a vowel. And the letters “x” (ex) and “f” (eff) actually start with vowel sounds even though they’re consonants. R (arr), L (ell), and S (ess) obey the same rule. This rule should also solve once and for all the aitch v haitch “H” debate. Because you have an “h” not a “h” it must be aitch. So there.

Isn’t language fun.

Israel, water, and Roman rule

Well. It seems I’ve promised a few people that I’d share some of my thoughts on a range of current issues via the ever expanding pages of this ‘ere blog. I haven’t done much blogging lately. I’ve been a bit distracted. Anyone who doesn’t know why should probably head to Mattias’ blog. For anyone who doesn’t want to read Mattias’ blog, her name is Robyn (while Matt got the scoop, I get the substance.) So here goes… a triple bunger.

I was talking to some people lately about the tension in the Middle East – and in particular the Israel/Hezbollah conflict. It’s a bit of a political hot potato really. But lots of people have opinions. And lots of people are stupid. Mel Gibson is stupid. Actually, pretty much anyone who takes a particular side in the conflict is stupid. The conflict itself is stupid. The re-establishment of the state of Israel, in hindsight, was probably stupid. You don’t see any Italians pushing for the reinstitution of the Roman empire do you. But then there wasn’t the same religious attachment or reasoning behind the Roman empire. The whole rebuilding of Jerusalem was based on a theologically flawed premise anyway… so there’s the background of my thoughts on the Israel/Lebanon tension… my thoughts on the tension itself are as follows:

No one in the world will ever have appropriate economic motivation to fire a nuclear weapon.

That’s my theory. The only people I can see firing one are a) Al Queda, b) North Korea, c) some crazy fundamentalist Christian sect from Northern Ireland. Al Queda because they hate everyone. North Korea because they’re crazy and want to be taken seriously even though they’re the smallest kid in the playground. The Fundamentalist Christian sect because I think fundamentalist muslims get unfairly tarred as the only crazy religious people – I mean, we’re forgetting Mormons and Scientologists when we tar all crazy people with the same brush.

I can’t see the US or any of the Arab states actually wanting to fire a missile into country side rich with the oil fields they all so desparately want to possess. I can’t see the Islamic countries firing a nuke at a city that holds a large amount of religious significance to their people. So, on that note, I’m not overly worried about world war three occurring this week.

Someone else asked me what I thought about the water shortage. Water shortages are bad. Especially if you are a farmer, or a particularly hygienic person. Whether you can legitimately blame a water shortage on a politician is another question. I don’t think you can. I think I should give some air time to my friend Joe’s theory on water use:

“We’re all going to run out of water at exactly the same time – so why shouldn’t I get more than my share of water while I can.”

Isn’t he a caring, sharing guy…

Speaking of caring sharing people. And because my blog follows the form of traditional newspapers with the sport at the end. I feel it’s time for me to give my first preview of the English Premier League which starts very soon.

Chelsea will win. Because Roman Abramovich will continue to pour his money into the club. This is a bad thing. As pointed out by this article. I was going to write more, but got bored, and distracted.

Cross media ownership laws: For dummies

Tonight I was going to spend a bit of time writing about my thoughts on the water crisis, the Israel situation and other events of global significance. But I changed my mind. Instead I’m going to run another one of my journalism tutorials for the uninitiated… My bachelors degree says I’m an expert (or it might, if I pulled it out of the envelope).

I have probably said something about cross media ownership laws before – but if I haven’t, let me say, for the record, that laws restricting cross media ownership are a good thing. Allowing the one super duper media company to control the media across the spectrum is not a good thing. Anyone who thinks that the press is free from editorial constraint is naive – the owners of a publication can dictate what gets printed. If an owner has control over more than one outlet they start to have the dangerous capacity to control the public agenda. For example – in a small country town if one party owned the local radio station and newspaper – they’d have almost total control over the messages getting out to the locals on any given issue – they’d essentially control what’s left of the public sphere (the place in which public discourse takes place (these days it’s talk back radio and the letters and opinions pages in newspapers)). This is a bad thing if you believe people should be able to reason out truth for themselves, rather than being told what to believe.

Funnily enough, in a survey conducted by crikey, journalists aren’t exactly over the moon with the proposed new laws. Here’s the stats (and a neat summary of the proposals – a voice = 1 media outlet).

The results show that most journalists are highly sceptical of plans to relax cross-media and foreign ownership restrictions and replace them with a new minimum of five significant media “voices” in metropolitan areas and four “voices” in rural areas. More than 63% of journalists surveyed said they believed Australian media companies have “too much influence” in deciding how Australians vote, and 71.4% said media owners had too much influence in determining the political agenda.

Alliance federal secretary Christopher Warren said the survey reveals that the people who work in the media know the truth about the Government’s proposed media changes. “The changes will undermine diversity, affect the integrity of journalism in Australia and further empower media owners who already have an unwelcome influence on their employees to report the news in a way that suits the owners’ political or commercial agendas,” he said. “The health of Australia democracy is at stake and these media law changes will clearly result in fewer voices and fewer choices for the Australian people.”

I guess there would be positive benefits if someone with taste (say Fairfax Holdings) bought out Channel 10. At least they’d have the decency to take Big Brother off the air.

This blog has been performance enhanced…

I’m in a state of shock. The positive drug test returned by Wallabies wannabe Wendell Sailor sent me into a bit of a headspin. I mean, Wendell is like, totally a role model right… and Warney and his mum’s diet pills – they weren’t helping him perform at all. I mean if those poster boys of modern sports ethics didn’t have you questioning the drug testing bodies then who will. Surely Wendell would never ever have been anywhere near a line of cocaine. I had some serious doubts about drug testing in sport – and this week those doubts have become fully actualised disbelief. It’s not enough that they tarnished the names of such reputable, luminary sporting figures. Now they have to drag two men who are at the pinnacle of their respective sports into the mire of a “positive” drug result. Drugs in cycling. I mean who’d have thought. Next we’ll be told people are using drugs in sports like weightlifting, baseball and professional wrestling. And now drugs in the 100m sprint. That’s taking things too far.

There are conflicting views on the issue of drug use in sport. Obviously health, “spirit of competition,” and “role model” issues aside there are certain points for and against either side of the performance enhancing drugs argument

Here’s a couple of quotes from the Sydney Morning Herald.

The most infamous drug cheat of them all, Ben Johnson, has his two cents’ worth on drugs in sport:

“The spectators don’t care, the sponsors probably don’t care … all they want to see is the world’s fastest man …”

German television station ZDF boss Nikolaus Brender puts the boot in on the Floyd Landis doping scandal in the Tour de France:

“We signed a broadcasting contract for a sporting event, not a show demonstrating the performances of the pharmaceutical industry …”

So some people are a little concerned about drugs in sport. Some people think sports stars should be having a positive influence on society. That sort of thinking is dangerous. Taken to its unnatural extension it creates problems where sports stars suddenly think they’re academically qualified to be making decision that have some bearing on wider society.

For example:

Outcast Brisbane Lions midfielder Jason Akermanis on his wooing into the world of politics by Queensland Premier Peter Beattie.

“I know a bit about politics. I have seen how politics can ruin a football club.”

Here is a man who is seriously considering entering the political arena. Celebrity and politics have always been a volatile mix. Lets look at the long list of successful celebrity/politics crossovers…

Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Peter Garrett… intellectuality at it’s best… well ok, I’ll begrudgingly credit Garrett with some brains. But in reality these men have been elected on the back of fame rather than ability.

I thought I had a problem with ex-sportspeople becoming media personalities (Except Channel 9’s Andrew Slack, he’s good, and Richie Benaud, although he was a police reporter while he was a cricketer… I’ll bet some of you didn’t know that) until they decided they wanted to be politicians instead.

Jason Akermanis reckons he knows a thing or two about the water crisis. Apparently Australia is an island, surrounded by water… so we shouldn’t have any problems waterwise… maybe we should just start watering crops with salt water Jason. I’m sure that’s a wise and valid suggestion… (I’m aware that salinity is a problem, that comment, like the rest of this entry, was tongue in cheek… although a men’s 100m sprint with everyone on drugs would be kind of cool).

Promises, promises… oh and an apology…

So when is a promise a promise? Some unnamed politicians (who will probably be named later) would suggest only “core” promises are promises. Consider this hypothetical (and by hypothetical, I mean real) dilemma:

In a job interview, in order to impress the interview panel, a potential employee suggests he or she will stick around for a lengthy period of time. The potential employee gets the job. Was that promise a core promise? Who knows.

Then for the sake of argument, say a job with substantially better pay is advertised and the particular employee believes they have a fairly high chance of securing the other job – should they stay or should they go?

Disposable promises are an insipid social malaise. No one wants to be bound by these promises any more. And it’s all because of politicians. Here’s an article posted on one of the Herald’s blogs about another form of apparently disposable promises (the marriage vow).

While I’m on the subject of politicians and what they say – I’m betting that following the Prime Minister’s apology on the interest rate rise there’ll be at least one letter to the editor asking why he can apologise for that but not for the treatment of aboriginals.

Well let me give you my insight into apologies. A topic on which I’m an expert. You can’t apologise for something that you didn’t do – you can say I’m sorry for the way you feel about it… that’s every kid’s favourite trick. The government can’t admit responsibility for the actions of previous governments. That would open up all sorts of litigious wormholes.

On the other hand. I’m sorry for all the… and by that I mean for my excessive use of the elipsis…