Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Google softening it's push - conceding limits to satellite imagery software

See this article from Israel national News for an interesting article, the headline (above) basically sums it up. I can see the argument to limit access to satellite photos of sensitive installations, especially in that unstable region. It's also not surprising that Israel has obviously pushed hard to get this concession. What is suprising is that Google has agreed. Word on the cyberstreet is that the Australian Government pushed to have images of the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor removed or limited from Google satellite sites and programs but Google didn't conceed.

Perhaps Google has taken some fallout from its aggressive push to digitise and catelogue the entire world - most controversially in the areas of satellite mapping and print publishing - where security protocols and international copyright law are being bent (if not broken.)

2006 might be the year of Google - not such a bad guy after all! We'll see how GoogleWatch reacts!

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Monday, December 19, 2005

Japan aims to give Google run for its money - Technology - smh.com.au

Well, good for good ol' Japan. This doesn't really come as any surprise except that they made the mistake of announcing it to the world. Develop in secret, release with fanfare. They're so hard working, but when will they learn?

Hang on, since they're so good at announcing, maybe they can tell us where that midget sub is!

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I had to laugh when I read Aussie film crew caught in Philippines gun clash from SMH today:
Cameraman Michael Beran was angered that the group had not been warned of unrest in the area.

"We went there to film a movie. No one told us we were going to an island where there's trigger-happy people intent to shoot you," he told Seven.

When I went to The Philippines earlier this year, everybody said, "Oh it's a great place, but don't go to Mindanao, they shoot you." I can't believe this crew from Seven went to Mindanao and no-one told them about the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf operating out of Mindanao, kidnapping and murdering westerners.

I guess he didn't read Smarttraveller, where in the dangerous parts of Mindanao the advisory is Do Not Travel, and in the rest of Mindanao it's Reconsider Your Need To Travel. Maybe he reconsidered and the paycheque was too good.

I can just imagine next year's overseas post for Mr Beran, "But no-one told me Baghdad was dangerous. Why didn't you tell me? Show me where it's written down. No, you need to tell me explicitly, you can't assume I'd know. No, I don't think it's unreasonable! Oh, you mentioned it five or six times? Oh. Well, OK then. Next scene."

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Sunday, December 18, 2005

Tanveer Ahmed argues there is a specific segment of the Lebanese community in Sydney causing the unrest. - On Line Opinion - 15/12/2005

One comment from this article caught my eye:

"The behaviour of some of the drunken louts was a national disgrace. There is no argument there. But, there is a Lebanese problem. It is not an Arab problem, nor is it really a Muslim one."

The article goes on to examine the Lebanese society both in Lebanon and here in Australia. The author, Dr Ahmed, a psychiatrist and a writer, analyses the specific reasons for the disproportionately large number of nocturnal 'bad boys' and gang members being Lebanese. Among other reasons he attributes it to absent fathers, unsuccessful parenting and the Muslim tendency to attitudes of female inferiority.

It seems to me the answer, in this simplified analysis of the situation is fairly clear. Firstly, we all need to acknowledge that society is dynamic and changing on a slow but observable scale. This means there will always be a 'gang niche' in Sydney's society and nightlife and that it is currently filled by south-western suburb Lebanese, but this could change and in the future, any cultural or demographic group is susceptible to falling into the role. This bit is really important because society tends to have a static view of things. Views and attitudes tend only to change from one generation to the next, which is even slower than social dynamics change. There are a group of Australians who are absorbing all the current anti-Leb sentiment and will carry it with them forever - long after the Lebanese gangs cease to cause trouble.

Secondly, if it is so obvious that over the course of a few years it can be observed what demographic group is forming the majority of the troublemakers it makes sense that that group may well become the perpetrators or victims (or both) of further unrest in the future. All you really have to do is look different and attack a lifeguard!

So finally, it seems clear to me the solution is to analyse these statistics - who is perpetrating what - and focus on the largest demographic groups. Focus social programs, focus cultural grants, focus education campaigns, public spending on schools and hospitals. Ease the tensions as they arise before it explodes. It's a never-ending, spotfire way of doing things, but then again, so is governing a nation.I'm sure the community leaders, police, multicultural affairs representatives and the like could easily sit down and hammer out some good social programs to quell any rising concerns in the community, long before it reaches boiling point. Actually, I'm sure they already do. I guess my point is they could do it better and perhaps in a more systematic way.The next race riots will probably involve the Antarcticans. No one trusts the Antarcticans!

Read the article here.

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Harry:Potter and the English:Curse

I saw Harry Potter last night, in my defence it wasn't my choice, but I did enjoy it so say what you will.

As I watched the film I noticed the star, Daniel Radcliffe, had changed in appearance since the first film, four long, magic-filled years ago. As with most child stars, the awkward (how bloody hard is it to spell that word!!!) teenage years hit and the angelic little ten-year-old with the lightning scar on his forehead has developed a nasty case of Prince Charles syndrome. Unfortunately, as particularly noted in Princes William and Harry as they mature, it is no longer clear which one takes after his mother and which his father. Both have changed appearance and if there was ever a 'handsome' one and an 'ugly' one I suggest they may have swapped places, at least according to teen girlie magazines. (What, you don't read them?)

Daniel Radcliffe has wizzed his way into puberty on the big screen and has certainly lost some of those round-cheek-round-eye features, that I am sure helped him win the part of 11-year-old Harry back in 2001. His newfound hooked nose certainly stands out on screen, (did he break it or something?) and I think the makeup lady will be doing overtime on his next film.

Added trivia: Apparently the first Harry Potter movie was called "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" in the USA, presumably because the average movie going American wouldn't know what a philosopher was if it bit them in the archetypal form.

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I have realised a lot of you may have never seen my book collection. I call it impressive, others call it sad and oh-my-God-you're-such-a-nerd.

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Saturday, December 17, 2005

Soft:Aussies - the:Asian:Drug:Haven

The Singapore press and the ASEAN leaders are whispering about Australia being soft on drugs for fighting against the death penalty. There's a can of worms burst all open! Let the politics begin!

Our response has been a bit soft - "No we're not. We're hard on drugs. Er, don't um, do drugs."

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The Floodgates are Open

The violence in Cronulla has opened the floodgates to a huge outpouring of emotional please for tolerance and racial acceptance. The talk-back radio stations are broadcasting non-stop call-in discussions where Aussies with ethnic backgrounds are revealing the history of this kind of intolerance going back thirty or fourty years in Australia. According to what I'm hearing the 'Lebs', Greeks and other dark skinned Aussies have always been considered 'less Aussie' than the Anglos. I have been hearing dozens of stories of growing up with the sideways looks and the distance the Anglos are keeping from the 'darkies'. Racism in the 70s and especially in the last 5 years.

As much as John Howard would like to push the Government's "we're not a racist country" line (while he jets off to Malaysia tonight) it just doesn't appear to hold water. One Nation, September 11, the Lebanese rapists, the London bombings and the anti terror movement have awakened a sleeping tiger and the Lebs and the Muslims are taking the heat.

Right now it's hard to deny we are a racist country. One Nation, however briefly it existed, legitimised anti-immigration sentiment for the forseeable future and the Howard government's own Immigration policy hardly puts out the welcome mat. Our anti-terror message has clearly awakened the sleeping giant.

I can only hope that this opportunity of open discussion is used to slay the beast that has reared its ugly head, and not to soothe it. It lives in each of our hearts. The choice is ours.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A Current Affair - Christmas in schools

I just watched an article on A Current Affair, in which one non-Christian family complained about all the references to Christmas in the school news letter. One teacher apoligised to the family and now the community is up in arms saying she should not have apologised and what the hell is wrong with the school celebrating Christmas?

The article went on to describe how the family's son was excluded from music class for refusing to sing "Away in a Manger".

One indignant community leader said: "What's wrong with singing a few Christmas carols? We should call it the silly season. It's begun for sure!"


As a non-Christian myself, I have grown up irritated by the overload of commercialised Christian holiday crap and absolutely flabbergasted at the vast majority of this country's ignorant Christians who don't even equate MYER's pre-Christmas Xbox 360 sale with the birth of "Our Saviour". Who does that selfish community leader think he is? I'll tell you what the hell is wrong with singing Christmas carols - YOU'D be the first loudmouth ignoramus to complain if some school started forcing Ramadan Rhymes or Hanukah Hymns down some stranger's kid's throat.

Annoying shit I've grown up with perpetrated by ignoramus majority Christians:

  • pre/post Christmas adds from October to February
  • non religious Christians revelling in the 'festive season'
  • questions like - "Yeah, you don't celebrate Christmas but you still believe in Jesus, right?"
  • no bloody shops open on Christmas day when on every other public holiday everything is open
  • assholes like the one mentioned above who can't see why anyone would get upset about some innocent Christian propaganda

Maybe I'm being harsh, but so is that guy. Why doesn't he stop and think? What a prick, he makes my non-Christian blood boil!

Season's Greetings!

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Monday, December 12, 2005

The Next Generation

I wrote a post last week called Generations, Chromosones and Senility about social generations: Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y. That took us from 1946 to 1985. This post from ON LINE opinion is an excellent article about masculinity among our 20-year-old males and their younger brothers (and sisters.) It's the 1985 and onward post-Generation Y crowd. The current generation. The author of the article, Peter West, calls them the computer generation, but I prefer...


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What We're Saying about the Violence

Everyone's commenting on the Cronulla Race Violence (CronRaV™). I don't want to comment on the violence, but I do have some comments about the commenters.

We all watched Paris erupt in violence a couple of months ago. My first thought was "Muslims in France? Bonjour-Salaam!" I guess Jean-Pierre is watching TV news in Paris, wondering about those Muslims in Australia! Quel Bizarre!

Let's not kid ourselves, the world is watching. Word is the international news media converged on Cronulla yesterday and they're all still there reporting, filming, blogging. Whatever I, you, she, he thought about those French Muslims... the rest of the world is thinking it about us now. About Cronulla. About you.

The world knows four things about Australia's race relations/human rights history:

1. We displaced and mistreated the Aboriginal inhabitants
2. We flirted with a little thing called the One Nation Party a few years ago
3. We use the Department of Immigration like a foreigner deterrent using fear
4. We tell the Chinese to shape up and follow our good example.

Hmm... not a good track record. It's funny the way people reacted to the news of Muslim unrest in France and how the same people are reacting to the home-grown stuff.

Conversation around town is subdued and coffee shops are full of tête-a-tête couples with concerned faces. The boozy conversation at the pub last night - watching the more palatable hatred of Danny Green and Anthony Mundine in the boxing - was silenced as for five minutes the bar manager switched over to the news to watch the live updates. We all gazed in silence and then went back to our conversations, but the whispering was all around. "Gee that's scary." "It's just terrible."

It's funny that none of the reactions I've seen have been about one side or the other in the argument. No one I hear is saying "I support the Bra Boys! Let’s retaliate!" "This is my country! Send 'em all home!" People are all just disgusted by the violence - and what it could symbolize. The vibe I've been getting around town is a fear of the racial polarisation. People are cringing back from the words "white supremacists" and "racial hatred". We don't want to be that kind of society. That's the big fear now – are we really a racist society? It's something that is scaring people.

Some will say it’s just the undercurrent coming to the surface. Pollies vehemently disagree – unanimously. The Prime Minister says the events are sickening, but not indicative of a wider problem. So does Kim Beazley. Are bipartisan politics overshadowed by the fear of a bad global image? Or is it a genuine political fear of a breakdown of society? I guess it’s just the right thing to do and I’m being cynical.

I don’t know if I’m irritated by this country’s concern for it’s world image or if I’m proud our reaction is overwhelmingly one of condemnation of the violence – regardless of the message of either side.

I guess I’m both. Like usual. What else is on TV, the cop shows bore me.

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Say No (prescription and over the counter) Drugs!

I notice the following two articles from SMH and New Scientist go hand in hand.

In one article we see a drop, for the first time, in the sale of drugs provided by the Pharmaceutical Benifit Scheme. According to the article:

Medical leaders believe the drop in drug use reflects a more cautious approach by doctors and patients, triggered by better pharmaceutical education and findings of potentially lethal side effects in some drugs, including the once popular pain-killer Vioxx.

The other article describes a new finding that overdoses of good ol' Paracetamol can lead to fatal liver failure. Yikes!

As a symbol of independance, endurance, machoism and what-if-you-were-lost-in-a-desert thinking, I usually avoid taking any drugs, including Paracetamol (this doesn't apply to antihistamine – hayfever sucks!) and now I see the trend catching on. I always thought if you have a headache you don't take Paracetamol – you just identify the cause and avoid it next time. healthy living people!

Damn I could use a smoke!

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Miracle wedding

I read in the SMH this morning this article about a wedding in London where the bride lost both legs and 75% of her blood in the July 7 London bombings. Wow.

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Sunday, December 11, 2005

New Scientist Breaking News - Smart inbox cuts email drudgery

New Scientist Breaking News - Smart inbox cuts email drudgery

This article is about a new free Microsoft product called SNARF (yeah, snarf you too!) which prioritises the huge load of emails in your inbox after a long absence. It goups them by sender, then prioritises them according to how many times and how quickly you have responded to each sender in the past.

This sounds great (especially the free bit!) but theory only works in practise in theory. In practise this is not always so. Umm... yeah.

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Reading list using Del.icio.us

I've discovered a great use for Del.icio.us! I read so many daily feeds referring to such great sites, I usually click on a link to skim in a new window, but this usually causes an exponential explosion of windows (well tabs actually, I use Firefox) and I don't usually give these articles the attention they deserve. So I've started using del.icio.us as a reading list. I just use my post to del.icio.us tool and among other tags I give each site, I add a "toread" tag as well. That way in my few snippets of free reading time, I can go back over them all at leisure.

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Holy shit! What a good feed!

This post from Spyhunter highlights a fantastic product - The toilet paper RSS feed printer! Read all your favourite feeds as you sit and think! Cool!

Hmm... nah, crap.
Ah, here's a good one, oh crap!

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Saturday, December 10, 2005

Birth (2004)

I saw the film Birth today. It stars Nicole Kidman as a woman who falls in love with a ten-year-old boy who claims to be her dead husband reborn. It generated some controversy because it contains a scene showing her having a bath naked with the boy.

The film itself was a good story and a thought-provoking ending. I was most impressed, however, by the direction of Jonathan Glazer. This is the first film of his I've seen, but he has also made Sexy Beast (2000) and a couple of music videos.

He used a lot of slow scenes with no dialogue and classical music, especially the concert scene, which show's the simplicity of Kidman's acting skills. In a couple of odd places through the film he uses a technique of keeping the focus of the scene out of shot. When Sean first speaks to the family, we see the family looking at him, but we don't see him. in the concert scene, we never see the stage or the musicians. It's a cool effect.

Unfortunately, the film relies too much on the audience's reaction to the distastefullness of the overall situation in the hope that they won't notice some of the more clumsy plot manipulations.

Overall: Creepy, but clumsy.

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Friday, December 09, 2005

Elfster - just in time for the office Secret Santa

For all you wired office social clubbers out there, introducing Elfster! An online secret Santa organising tool!

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New Look Blog

The Online:Headspace has gone a bit more metrosexual. Please let me know if you like/dislike the makeover. Please also remember to wash the hair gel off your hands after visiting the site.

By the way, your dress looks fabulous.

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

New additions to my blog

Hi everyone! You may have noticed a few additions to my weblog. You can now subscribe to email updates, just look under my profile pic near the top of the blog. This is a cool way to have my sharp witticisms delivered straight to you and crammed down your throat without having to remember to look me up all the time. Heaven forbid any of you should subscribe to my RSS feed!

You can also see my Technorati profile and the blogs that link to me. Yay!

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America - The Goofy Country

I was reading a SMH blog yesterday called All the Way USA? The main thrust of the article is to compare Australian film and music tastes with USA and answer the question: Are Australians just mini-Americans?

The article, is about two pages long. The comments go for over 70 pages. Here's a couple of choice extracts:

An anagram of "AUSTRALIA" is "A TRIAL USA"

To all you Americans reading this, please forgive these ill informed armchair travellers.
I'll guarantee they haven't even left their state, let alone the country.
I too was misguided before visiting the US. I loved the place, cool people (especially SF) with open minds.
Half the hicks here don't know what they're on about, I swear to to god. I'm quite embarassed actually.

Get REAL! Australians trying to be Americans is a sure achievement because this country is way too uncivilised, cut from the rest of the world. You know you want it - just look at your kids in the backyard tryina hard to be a Yank. And just how can you be surprised when your own Prime Minister is leading the way, being a Bush puppy and bootlicker he is. Get REAL and wake up to reality!

As an Aussie having lived in America the last 10 years, I would have to say Americans are some of the most ignorant, racist, materialistic people on the planet.
They truly look down on anyone who is not American, lets include the Aussies, Brits & Canadians on that one. They might say they "luurrve"
Australians while they are secretly trying to stab you in the back. They think Australians are naive & stuck in the "fifties", the truth be told. Unlike Australians , money is their God & God help anyone that stands in their way.
A favorite American saying "Root, Hog or Die" Go Figure!!!

I could go on, but please, read it for yourself. I love a good chuckle. Then, to push my point home USA's goofyness is best shown by this article from the Washingtron Post, forwarded to me by Dave Jacobs. Basically, a woman spots a big queso fresco cheese and, of course, thinks it must be cocaine. Duh! It is USA after all! So what does she do? Right. She hires a hitman to kill the occupants and steal the cheese cocaine.

Well, root, hog or die as I always say.

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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Generations, Chromosones and Senility

Here’s an interesting article from ON LINE opinion about intergenerational differences. It’s the third such article I’ve seen lately (the other two being from SMH and another ON LINE opinion article.)

It seems that comparing the three major current western generational cultures (Boomers, Xs and Ys) is in vogue at the moment. I’m personally lukewarm to the whole thing since I appear to be left out of the loop. One previous article defined the generations as follows:

Generation => Born in…
Baby Boomers => 1946-1964
Generation X => 1965-1976
Generation Y => 1979-1984

Now I was born in 1977. I guess that makes me a XY-cross. Combined with my male XY chromosomes I become a good old Aussie X ² Y ² . (as opposed to my X ³ Y female contemporaries.)

Now we ecks-squared-why-squared types don’t know where we fit in to these generational categories, I guess since the Gen-Xers are the rebels and the Gen-Yers are the me-me-me-now-now-now types, a XY-cross would have to be a me-you-whatever-when’s-my-inheritance-coming type.

This brings me to the scary part of the above-mentioned article. The Gen-Xers are all sitting around watching their wealthy Boomer parents slowly slip into their Golden Years in the hope that the word ‘inheritance’ isn’t the first one to fall down Mum’s and Dad’s senility rabbit hole. (Excuse the Alice in Wonderland reference, but Alice’s running-as-fast-as-she-can-just-to-keep-up stunt is as good a description of senility if ever I heard one.) One sentence near the end of the article especially grabbed my attention:

Recent research by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute found that 25 per cent of boomers expected to spend all their assets before they die.

Yikes! Really? 25 per cent. That should grab some Xers’ attentions! It now becomes a roulette wheel gamble. Am I in the 75% or the 25%? What are the folks really planning? Gee Mum, another trip to Prague? How about a weekend in the Blue Mountains huh? Only a hundred and fifty bucks a night and go easy on the room service!

In the end it’s all a bit derivative. And by that I mean:

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New Scientist Breaking News - Arguments dramatically slow wound healing

This is a fascinating article from New Scientist about how a thirty minute argument can delay wound healing for a day!

I guess all those arguments about being a hypochondriac were genuine.

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Monday, December 05, 2005

Departure Date

These pictures are from August 6: my sister's last day in Australia before she went to Canada. Check out the stress levels!

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Earthquake resistant building causes earthquakes!

The world's tallest building, Taipei 101, appears to be causing tremors through it's own weight causing pressure on an underlying fault line. The building is actually a high tech quake-resistant building with a huge counterweight spherical pendulum suspended among the upped floors of the building. Huh. Irony!

This SMH article has the details. If you notice the reference to the September 1999 quake down the bottom of the article, I was in Taipei when that one hit. Wow, yikes. Talk about mother nature getting her panties in a twist. That earthquake was a full-on mother-nature-wedgie!

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Sunday, December 04, 2005

Superman's view

Flying through the clouds!

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Friday, December 02, 2005

Statler & Waldorf: From the Balcony

This is so cool! Go the muppets! Statler & Waldorf: From the Balcony

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Adros47's Quips and Quotes

The success of the masterpieces seems to lie not so much in their freedom from faults–indeed we tolerate the grossest errors in them all–but in the immense persuasiveness of a mind which has completely mastered its perspective.

- Virginia Woolf

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How much is that Audi?

Driving back from Canberra the other day with four colleagues I passed an Audi with a very ambiguous licence plate. It read "AUDIO". One passenger in our Tarago said it was "Audi-o" as in Ford-o, Holden-o and Mazda-o.

My first thought was that it was "audio" as in audio/video.

Then, another passenger said "He's selling the car for $10!"
"How do you know?" we asked.
"Just look at the plate!" he exclaimed. "AUD10"

After a thoughtful silence, I said "That's nine dollars more than a normal Audi."

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My face! My valuable face! Take my face... please!

Well, according to this New Scientist article, the first ever face transplant has been completed. Basically a woman, disfigured in a dog attack, has received the chin, lips and nose from a dead woman. I'm most interested in whether the facial components look more like the donor (owing to the shape of the skin), or more like the recipient (owing to the bone structure) or a hybrid of the two! Yikes!

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