Friday, December 18, 2009

Internet Filtering

Dear Senator Conroy,

While there are very few people who would complain about action being taken against the availability of child pornography, it seems the vast majority of informed people agree that the proposed internet filter is simply not the way to go about it. To proceed with this action will have very little effect against the obvious primary target, as such material is apparently spread largely though Peer to Peer (P2P) networks and other methods which would be unaffected by the filter.

It is also reported that targets for the filter are to include other material deemed unfit, or "unclassifiable" by the government. I'm afraid that most people, myself included, do not consider censoring material available to the rest of the world to be part of a democratic government role. In fact it would be a disgusting perversion of the that role to start bocking access to anything that it considered unfit without first gaining absolute agreement from the citizens it is elected to serve on what exactly this material should be. And I mean 100% agreement from all citizens.

Nobody is going to publicly support blatant child pornography, so you'd think the blocking of such material would gain this absolute agreement but, as evidenced earlier this year with the outcry against legitimate, artistic photography of children, even this broad heading contains grey areas. It is extremely important, essential even, that the arbitrary judgements of a few do not become entrenched as an absolute ruling on what is and isn't suitable for the entire population.

Governments are elected to run things. Finance, health care, infrastructure, etc. They are not elected as a moral minority bent on promoting ignorance on matters such as euthanasia, drugs, religion or any other topic you may consider yourselves qualified to decide upon. Nor should it be governments' role to act upon such judgements by restricting access to any side of any debate. No government, or minority group of any kind, is qualified to make such decisions except in the most obvious cases which everyone agrees on. And let's face it, there are very few things that everyone agrees on, if any.

There are also the widely argued points of the slowing down of the internet which this filter would cause, and other technical aspects which I freely admit I am not qualified to argue about. The problem is, however, that neither are you. Testing of the system has been limited and the promised public consultation process has been limited to a few details which do not include the central issue of whether or not to even have a filter at all. This is unacceptable and I remind you that this is a democracy. You are our elected govenrment, not our nanny.

Yours sincerely,

Derek Armsden

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mr & Mrs Bogan do a backflip

So far this year, from January to October, we have averaged 33.34mm of rain per month. The long term average for this period is 39.48mm per month. That's 84.4% of average and, given the nature of the word 'average', that isn't such a huge discrepancy. Not enough to continue to warrant the label 'drought'. Last year, over the same period we only had 24.74mm average per month, only 62% of the long term average. So that was a drought. The drought is over and has been since March when we came within a few buckets of the average, and we've been nearly at, or even comfortably above, average rainfall levels almost every month since.

I mention all of this because I'm sick of hearing the word drought bandied about as an excuse for water restrictions, which I'm also sick of. In fact, I'm not only sick of water restrictions, I'm angry about them. It's not that I care about watering my garden, I rarely bothered even before I wasn't allowed. It's not about cleaning my car either, who cares about that? It's simply that I always get angry about stupidity, and deliberate and misleading stupidity by people in authority makes me want to start growing a rain-forest in my garden just to be conspicuous in my displeasure.

We can't use sprinklers, we can only use hoses in certain hours on certain days, we can't wash cars... we can't 'waste' water. It seems fair enough until you bother to look at the statistics and discover that domestic use accounts for only 9% of total water usage. Less than 1 tenth. If every household in the state obeyed every restriction there might be, oh, let's be generous and say a 25% saving, which would mean a whopping 2.25% saving to the total usage for South Australia. In other words, not enough to have any effect. At all.

Read any of the reader's response columns on the news sites and you'll notice what I think is An Interesting Thing. When the restrictions were put in place the overwhelming response was anger at the inconvenience. As the 'drought' went on and more restrictions were placed upon us some people still grumbled, but they were increasingly met with hostility from those who were doing as they'd been told. An almost vigilante mentality crept in against those who were seen to flout the regulations, or even simply complain about them.

This week there was an announcement that some of the restrictions are being lifted and the dominant reaction to this was, again, anger. Anger at the Government for letting us use more water!

This represents a complete 180° turnaround in the attitudes of Mr. & Mrs. Bogan. So brainwashed have they become that, instead of feeling pleased at being thrown a small morsel of fruit from the whole tree they used to own outright, they are now convinced that using water for things like gardens is frivolous and should never be allowed, no matter how much water is available. It's absurd. The reasoning seems to be that they are now being robbed of their right to feel superior to those who ignored the restrictions all along.

They've not been given more water, they've had their moral supremacy kicked out from under them.

Friday, October 09, 2009

NASA ready to 'bomb' moon in water search

SCIENTISTS at NASA will tonight discover whether their unorthodox approach to discovering if there is water on the moon will pay off.

The space agency will slam a satellite into the moon and study the resulting debris to see whether there is water near the surface.

The spacecraft will hurtle towards the moon at roughly 9012km/h, with a second satellite following it to record data from the ensuing celestial dust cloud.

Full Story

This is pathetic. America gets its nose put out of joint because someone else claims to have discovered something that, for reasons I don't understand, is considered to be important. To save face, they throw millions of dollars at it to be able to claim ownwership of this discovery. It's pointless. Who cares? Speaking of ownership, who or what gives them, or anyone, the right to go around shooting projectiles into the surface of something that they don't own? It's not their moon, why should they be allowed to go around vandalising things that don't belong to them? Annoying bloody Americans.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Call to end free news

Article from: The Advertiser

DREW CRATCHLEYSeptember 11, 2009 12:01am
THE "misappropriation" of online newspaper content by rival media companies and internet search engine providers is the major challenge facing print media.
APN News & Media chief executive Brendan Hopkins also yesterday joined global media giant News Corporation – publisher of The Advertiser – in saying publishers should charge for access to online articles generated by newspapers.
Mr Hopkins said charging for online content would not be controversial if publishers offered high-quality unique content...
Mr Hopkins singled out search engines for particular criticism, saying their business models had been key in promoting the notion that journalism content was "free".
"To use an analogy, I see search engines as breaking into our homes, itemising the contents, walking out and listing everything for everyone to see. And they get money out of that process," he said.
"The only problem is, I don't see any revenue being paid directly from Google, Yahoo! or Microsoft in our company profit-and-loss accounts."

Full Article

Grumpy's Comment:
I expect we'll see a lot more of these 'stories' on Rupert's media outlets as they prime us for the concept of paid access to their sites. Sure, today they're only saying other news sites should be paying but they have already expressed a desire to make their news sites paid subscription based to the public as well.

However, if Google etc. are to be accused of breaking into their homes and taking the contents, surely providing RSS feeds amounts to leaving the key in the front door under a sign that says "come in and take our stuff". I know aggregators don't need RSS feeds but if you've already left the front door open, obviously it's no big deal if people come in through the windows as well.

Also, if this site and its sisters are to claim property rights over their contents, they should likewise be paying YouTube, Twitter, etc. for the huge amount of content gleaned freely from those sources. There are plenty of much better sources of news than this groups sites. In fact, almost every other news site has better content than this one.

I only come here for a laugh at the stupid stories anyway so I can do a Grumpy rant about them!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Kidnapped Californian girl kept as a sex slave for 18 years

A CONVICTED rapist accused of kidnapping a girl and keeping her hidden in his backyard for 18 years has told US media he's turned his life around, and has pleaded for people to hear his "most powerful, heart-warming story"...
In an interview with local TV station KCRA 3, Garrido asked people to wait for his side of the story about what happened in the house.
"You are going to be completely impressed," he said.
"It's a disgusting thing that took place with me at the beginning. But I turned my life completely around and to be able to understand that, you have to start there."
People close to Garrido, who owns a business called God's Desire, said he became increasingly fanatical about religion, bursting into song on random occasions and claiming God spoke to him through a box.
"What's kept me busy the last several years is I've completely turned my life around," Garrido said.
"And you're going to find the most powerful story coming from the witness, the victim - you wait. If you take this a step at a time, you're going to fall over backwards and in the end, you're going to find the most powerful heart-warming story."

Full Story

If someone claims that "God spoke to him through a box", religion is undeniably a part of the story, although this is most likely a case of an insane person latching on to religion as part of his delusion. From what is quoted of his TV interview, "you're going to find the most powerful heart-warming story", he's probably a born-again Christian with a story to tell about Jesus becoming his personal saviour. If this led to the victim being freed, this might just be one of the very few examples of religion leading to a positive outcome. Do not, however, interpret this as me supporting religion, this story actually illustrates the sort of person who gets sucked in by it - unstable nutjobs.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Secret Gardens 3

Photographed by holding my phone camera at arms length to peek over peoples anoyingly high fences.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Organic food - fad or phenomenon?

"THE organics industry has been dealt a hefty blow by the United Kingdom's Food Standards Agency's declaration that organic food is no healthier than ordinary food.The ruling follows the world's largest study into the subject.It also backs up the view of other bodies, including the British Nutrition Foundation and numerous Australian organisations, that organic products are no better for us than other foods."
Full Article

What everyone seems to have failed to mention is the one factor that I, and many others, find to be the most important in our choice of produce. It's not about nutrition or health at all. It's about FLAVOUR! When was the last time you ate a cheap supermarket tomato that actually tasted of anything? I couldn't care less about the nutritional value of the slices of bacon and the egg that I put in a sandwich, I just want the result to taste great - and that's not going to be the case if I choose the vacuum sealed cheap bacon in slime from the racks and the cage eggs. I buy organic or free-range for items that have to stand up and be tasted, because where's the pleasure in eating textureless pale rubbish that tastes of nothing?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Secret Gardens 2

Yes I do realise that this could constitute a gross invasion of privacy, but it's fun!

If, by some random and very unlikely sequence of events, you happen to see your own Secret Garden posted here and would like me to remove it, just say so and I will.

Secret Gardens

In an older blog on another network I would sometimes post pictures of things I couldn't see on walks around my neighbourhood.

"How does that work?" I hear you ask in your eternal search for knowledge and understanding.

Simple really. Lots of people have really high fences and walls so their front or back gardens, yards or tips can't be seen from the outside. I found myself wondering what was over these fences and realised that a phone camera held aloft as far as my arm would reach could easily photograph the hidden scene. Then I could just look at the screen on my phone to see what was over there and, if it was interesting enough, I could post them on my blog!

So I've decided that I miss doing this and am starting again from today. First up is the view over the fences either side of my own back yard to those of my neighbours, and then a couple of others I shot on the walk down to the shoe shop at the end of my street and back. Then I'll repost all the ones from my now defunct old blog in another series of posts after that.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Sporting groups cry foul over alcohol sponsorship ban

The Daily Telegraph

July 18, 2009 12:01am

No solution ... AFL boss Andrew Demetriou says a propsed ban on alcohol sponsorship would cripple football.
* Plan would devastate sport, say codes * Wouldn't make a dent on problem drinking * Government tight-lipped on proposal
BANNING alcohol sponsorship and advertising would devastate sport and not make a dent on problem drinking, major sporting groups said yesterday...

Full article

I'm sick to death of living in a nanny state where those in charge concentrate so much effort on trying to modify human behaviour with regard to products that are perfectly legal to produce, purchase and consume. The role of government is to administer the finances and laws of the land, not to tell us how to live our lives. They seem to think, naively, that if you keep information from the public as to what choices are available then they will cease to seek out the things that they want. This is obviously not the case. Everyone knows alcohol exists, everyone knows where it can be purchased and anyone who wants to avail themselves of it will continue to do so. All that will be changed by banning alcohol advertising is the amount of time people spend in bottle shops choosing what they want to buy. If you know what you want you ask for it, if you don't, you browse. By causing people to spend time browsing they will actually have the reverse effect of what they are trying to achieve. It's a retailers dream to have uninformed customers wandering about looking at their wares. The more time people spend looking, the more they buy. So sport suffers for no positive outcome. Stupid.

Friday, July 03, 2009

VIDEO: Hoon drag race

Look at this video:
VIDEO: Hoon drag race

Link to the story:
Hoon drivers post illegal street race videos on YouTube

HOON drivers are laughing in the face of authorities, posting an internet video showing an illegal street race in front of a southern suburbs police station.
A video posted on website YouTube just four days ago shows a young male driver street racing in front of the Christies Beach police station on a wet and slippery Dyson Rd at night.
The video creators and hoon driver reflect precisely the dangerous drivers Road Safety Minister Michael O'Brien describes as a "cohort of highly irresponsible, predominantly young, male drivers" who are responsible for causing a "bedrock" limit to reducing the state's road toll.
The video shows two high-powered cars at traffic lights directly outside the police station, revving engines in a bid to entice a drag race.
Cars and a truck pass in front of the ready-to-race vehicles, the red light holding them on their start line. The road ahead is wet from rain, is poorly lit and narrows to a single lane shortly beyond the intersection.
The camera records an expression on the face of the hoon driver before turning to the opponent's rear wheel – which spins madly as the lights go green and the race starts with a screech and roaring engines...

My (Grumpy of Norwood) comment:
Rubbish! That video shows nothing more than a great demonstration of how to make something seem more exciting than it really is with the use of sound. At no stage did the other cars wheel "spin madly". It merely started to rotate as the car went forward and we hear a squealing noise that suggests a spinning wheel. The car in which the filming was done never appears to go particularly fast, it just makes a lot of noise - and I'm not convinced that sound wasn't added later either. Total beat up story based on absolutely no evidence of anything actually going on. Watch it again with the sound turned off and see how exciting it seems then.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Email scammers target taxpayers

A link

Email scammers target taxpayers
By Eoin Blackwell
June 26, 2009 02:03pm

* Emails promise $250 with tax return * ATO says it "never sends these emails" * Online scammers in stimulus grab
CYBER criminals purporting to be the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) are using a sophisticated email scam involving personal tax returns to fleece consumers, a computer security company says.
The scam ATO email, which promises a $250 bonus on top of a tax return, links the taxpayer to an online form that asks for personal details including ATM pin, credit card details and tax file number."

My (Grumpy of Norwood) comment:
Oh My God. This article cannot be serious! I got that email and it was the least sophisticated attemp at fraud I've ever seen. It was in Courier, badly centred, English was obviously not even the writer's 2nd language. I laughed. I called people in from other offices to show it to them so they could laugh as well. And the link didn't even work! Nobody is going to be fooled by this silly scam.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My job is now keeping me awake at night

It's after 1am and I can't sleep because I'm so frustrated, bewildered and angry about a ridiculous thing that's going on at work. It's entirely caused by ignorance, at least it's not malicious or intentional, but that doesn't change the fact that I'm stuck with it.

OK, so let's try to sort this out. I've been asked to do a logo design for a housing development. Great, I love designing logos. They are the most challenging and rewarding task for a designer. Get the logo right and everything else becomes easy. The logo sets the type, colour and style basics for everything that follows - stationery, advertising, website, brochures - they are all so much simpler to design if you nail the logo first. You get to create a consistent look for the client that becomes recognisable in the marketplace, which helps everybody. It makes it easier for the client to reach the target audience for their product, it makes it easier for the audience to recognise the client's brand, it makes it easier for the designer to produce everything required because the logo sets the style for it all.

When a client comes in and says "I've got this new product, I'm going to need a brochure", the correct response is, "OK, we'll first need to sort out the logo then so we can get started on your brochure". Not, "OK we won't bother the designer with that yet, instead we'll have our production guy knock up a brochure layout and worry about things like the logo later".

If the client has, say, $5000 to spend on a logo, brochure and website, you allocate at least a few days worth of solid time, perhaps $1000, to producing logo options, refining and editing down to the final result until it's perfect. It makes sense because then the brochure and website will only take half the time to design because you already half know how they should look.

What you don't do is, again, get the production guy to produce a single brochure visual, with no logo, present that to the client and get their approval, do nothing for a week and then tell the designer he has to design the logo and the website in a single working day. That would be nuts, right?

That would mean that the logo now has to be something that will fit into this already approved brochure design, which makes the job both far more restricted in scope and therefore infinitely more difficult. And it means that this riddle has to be solved within a few hours, so it's never going to be anything special, or going to work as well as something that was designed solely for the purpose of representing the product. It has to be a compromise before it's even begun.

I'm sure you've guessed which route they've taken at work. I have 1 day to not only design this logo and the website, but also the website layout for another job as well. Obviously we're just not a company that rates quality of design very highly, which is a shame because, as a designer, I do.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

It's a miracle!

My sister, Missy, age 45, was admitted to hospital on the 28th December 2008, and wasn't expected to live beyond a few weeks. That's what the doctors told us, that's what the nurses told us, it's what common sense told us. She'd abused her liver to the point where it was "running on fumes", she had blood clots, internal blood leakages, her waste disposal system was all backed up and there was ammonia burning away at her brain cells. She was fucked.

Then she got better!

After more than 2 months in hospital, with lots of care and drugs and rest, she got to a stage where it was decided that she could leave and go home. Last time I visited her the nurse said, "Oh, you want to see the miracle woman!" Everyone was shocked that she had got better. Except Missy.

She never knew she was dying you see. Nobody told her. They all told us, the family, but on visiting her it was obvious that she was under the misapprehension that she was going to recover, so we went along with it and wondered about the ethics of her not having been informed, since it was such a certainty, apparently.

Then 2 weeks ago a nurse told me she might be getting out soon. I was stunned and demanded to talk to her doctor, who confirmed that things had indeed changed. A meeting was arranged to discuss Missy's progress and imminent release, which I attended. There were 2 doctors, the head nurse for the ward, a health & safety woman, a physiotherapist man, 2 social workers, my sister, her supposed boyfriend (I say supposed because I'd never seen or heard of him prior to this meeting) and me, in a boardroom around a big table that we all filled. A serious meeting. Everyone gave their reports on my sister's progress, I asked the odd question here and there, and then the lead social worker made the comment that Missy had been given a very big scare and was expected to be committed to remaining sober and not damaging her liver again. I didn't agree and proceeded to tell the lot of them off.

"How has she had a scare? As far as she is aware she came in here, woke up some time later and proceeded to steadily improve until this day where she is now almost ready to go home. At no time did any of you bother to inform her that she was 'absolutely, definitely' going to die!" I looked straight at her and said "You were 'absolutely, definitely' going to die, apparently, as far as we were told constantly right up until yesterday. I'd even arranged your funeral for Christ's sake. You were never going to get out of here alive and nobody ever told you".

That shocked her.

The doctors looked sheepish, the nurse and the rest of them took special note of whatever was written on their pads and books in front of them. I felt like a school teacher telling off a class of wayward children. It was weird and wrong but at least they did then confirm what I had said to Missy. Yes, it was nothing short of a miracle that her liver had responded so well and that she had come extremely close to not getting another chance.

Arrangements were made for Missy to be released, pending a successful procedure the next day for Gall Stones. She would be escorted home by the health & safety person and an assortment of social workers, her flat assessed and appropriate equipment to help her would be installed. A very nice plan, but it didn't work out that way.

There's a whole lot of back story to this tale that I can't be arsed going into detail about but the basic gist of it is that some old guy, Trevor, who is her drinking buddy (and claims to "own" her), had taken up residence in her flat while she was in hospital and I had no luck in getting him out and changing the locks. He had also announced that he was holding Missy's dog to ransom and that he would kill it if she didn't go back to him, and he had cleaned out her bank account to the tune of over $2000 as well, since she'd given him her ATM card and password to pay her utility bills. Nice guy.

So what happened yesterday is that Missy was discharged from hospital with Matt, the "boyfriend", and they were to meet the health & safety woman and her "Home Care" crew at her flat later in the day. But she didn't. Instead she vanished... Phone calls from Home Care people to Mum, Police alerted, calls from Mum to social worker lady. Panic. Blah blah blah, turns out she was just at this Matt person's flat around the corner. Tomorrow Housing Trust people arrive to kick out Trevor, they intend to have a "good talking to" Miss about who gets keys to her flat in future. Once Trev's out the equipment installers do their thing and my bloody sister ends up back in her old flat, in her old life surround by the same old people and she's expected to stay sober or die.

I give her a week.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Yellower and angrier

Missy, my sister, was conscious when she arrived at the hospital last week but they sedated her while they plugged her in to the system that's currently supporting her existence. After a couple of days they stopped the sedation but she decided to stay asleep for a couple of days more.

Then she woke up. It wasn't very pleasant for anyone so now they've knocked her out again after only two days.

She's angry. Not happy about something, possibly everything really. During those two days she was rarely responsive to much by way of answering questions with nods or shakes of the head or finger squeezing - these being the only options for someone with a throat full of tubes. Instead she preferred to respond with expressions of pure violence and hatred and attempts at ripping things out and off of her. So they had to restrain her arms and then she did pretty much nothing at all.

So now the question is, is there anyone home? My (very) basic understanding of the situation is that the blood which is meant to flow to her liver is finding that route impassable and heading off in other directions. Also, somehow, blood that's meant to flow to her brain isn't getting there and a lot of it is ending up in her esophagus. I don't know why or how. Anyway, the crucial bit is the fact that it's not been feeding her brain and, on observational evidence alone, she's getting worse in that department.

Initially she was conscious and distraught. Then she was unconscious for several days, then awake and partially responsive, going through to awake and hostile, then just awake. As I said, now she's been knocked out again so there's no way to tell.

I'm not visiting her today because, well, she's asleep. I'm not even certain she was aware of me visiting when she was awake so right now I can't see the point at all.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

I have a yellow sister

People aren't supposed to be yellow, well, caucasians aren't anyway, so this colouring was the first visible sign that something was seriously wrong. The great stack of machines and monitors plugged into her was another clue, and the fact that she and the machines are all in the Flinders Medical Centre's Intensive Care Critical Unit is yet another.

Yellow is the colour of jaundice, and that's what you get when your liver is fucked. "End Stage Liver Failure" is the proper term for it, and that's what my sister has. Years of drinking and drugs + Hepatitis C = 0 Liver. There were lots of miserable sounding words and terms flying about in my discussion with her nurse this morning, none of them nice. Cirrhosis, Internal Bleeding, Encephalitis and Brain Damage among them. There are others I can't even remember right now.

I can only see this ending one way. A person can't live without a functioning liver, and she hasn't got one, and she's not going to get a new one with her history and the Hep C. There aren't a lot of ways that can go.

I saw her on Saturday following an email from Mum telling me what was going on and where Missy (my sister) is. She wasn't conscious though, having been sedated since admission. I think that was the first time I'd seen her for about 8 years. My folks were there and it was the first time I'd seen them in over 6 years. Oddly, they haven't aged a day in that time, which is more than can be said for Missy. I didn't recognise her.

Today she's awake, but not really "there". Sometimes she responds with a nod or shake of the head but mostly she doesn't. She's got tubes down her throat so speaking isn't an option, but they are hoping to be able to remove those later today, but they said that yesterday and the day before as well. Mostly she just lies there being disturbingly yellow with patches of bluey black.

She's got a shocker of a black right eye and bruises all over various other bits, her lips are swollen. Apparently she's been falling down a lot and unable to walk without the aid of a walking frame for months. She lives upstairs and has passed out several times part way up and fallen down them as a result. She's probably also been beaten up once or twice lately because that's normal in her life.

What a fucking mess.