Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Petrol and Taxes...

I'm sure you have all heard about the price of petrol is about to hit $1.20 in most Australian capital cities in the next few weeks, and from this has come calls for the government to do something about it. Whether it be forcing the oil companies to cut their margins further, cutting the fuel tax or even giving a rebate to low income earners, people want something to be done.

I came across
this article in the todays SMH which is reporting that economists believe the amount of tax on petrol is too low when compared to other countries around the world (see chart below).



At first I thought that we pay way too much for our petrol, especially when you use the US as a comparison. But after looking at that chart I think we are actually quite lucky when it comes to the price of petrol.

Back to the article, there are some good points raised by the economists for their reasoning behind increasing the tax of petrol, namely trying to get people to move to more efficient forms of transport.
Economists warned yesterday that cutting fuel tax could lead to an unsustainable reliance on an expensive non-renewable energy source and discourage the uptake of more energy-efficient methods of transport.
The article also referred to the way Australians view their cars, as a necessity, when in fact they are a distinct luxury. There are other ways to get around, I too am guilty of jumping in the car to duck down to the shops not far away, but if the price of fuel were to jump to $1.50 a litre, wouldn't that force most people to rethink their car usage?

Friday, June 24, 2005

Scary...

Isn't it great when a legitimate application gets turned into a lynching device?

A
posting on /. made referenced to a Google Maps hack to locate convicted sex offenders.

The referenced
site has since been taken down and replaced with a static page after the author received a bucketload of abuse. From the about page:
About the site

This site is a freely browsable listing and mapping of sex offenders. I'll be adding more states soon. Currently data for Washington DC and Maryland are provided. There are still some issues to work out but hopefully they'll all be resolved soon. I'll be adding some pages outlining how I made this site if anyone is interested in building their own google map application.

He then goes on to try and absolve himself of responsibility for presenting the data:
Don't lke the idea of mapping sex offenders?

Go talk to your local officals and congressman. I'm just taking data that's freely available on the web and presenting it in a slightly different manner. In fact there are states (like California and Texas) that map sex offenders.

For those of you who haven't figure it out yet, you can enter a zip code and see people in other areas. The zip codes set by default are just examples used to show how it works.

Why?

My reason for making this site was to learn more about Google Maps (and also to learn a bit about AJAX development).

I bet this guy writes spyware and/or adware too, just so he can see how pop up ads work.

Things like this really worry me, you don't see violent criminals put onto a registry when they get out of gaol. I would be more worried about those found guilty of murder, armed robbery or home invasions than someone found guilty of sex offences living in my street. And anyway, if these people have served their time in gaol, then don't they deserve to be let back into society not pushed to the edges and marginalised further?

I really don't know what is worse though, someone who presents information like this just for the hell of it or a
group of people who feel so strongly about it that they create an organisation to make sure sex offenders are advertised to all.

From the MAKO website:
MAKO aims to lobby Australian Governments for harsher penalties for convicted Paedophiles/sex offenders, including the introduction of mandatory lengthy jail terms (including first offence) community notification when a convicted sex offender moves into your neighborhood and A National Public Register of convicted pedophiles/ sex offenders in Australia

I notice they they don't want to help the convicted people get rehabilitated properly. They just want these people to be locked up for a very long time and then treat them like sub humans when they get out.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Hello pot, meet kettle...

From this article, our illustrious Federal Government is having a spit about Qantas being restricted on flying to European destinations, in particular London. Seems like a bit of protectionism on the part of the Europeans doesn't it?

From the Transport Minister, John Anderson:
"I am really concerned, really concerned, that Qantas just does not have the access it needs into Europe and into London particular," Anderson told reporters.

"This global obsession by many governments to have their carrier at whatever cost to the taxpayer, is a real problem for us."

But if you look at this article on the same subject, you find out that just last week Qantas successfully lobbied the Federal Government to block Singapore Airlines from flying the Sydney-LA trans-pacific flight.

The Federal Government last week refused to grant Singapore Airlines access to the lucrative Australia-Los Angeles route, saying "the time is not right".

Qantas, which makes about 15 per cent of its profits on the prized route, lobbied strongly against SIA access, with chief executive Geoff Dixon speaking publicly of the need to move jobs offshore if Qantas' government-funded rivals won concessions.

Do Qantas want a level playing field or don't they?

Qantas is a company that has traded on its Aussie image for too long without offering something to back it up. Sure they are the Flying Kangaroo and 'Our' airline, but personally, I would rather fly with Singapore Airlines than Qantas any day. The service, food and general feeling on SIA flights leaves Qantas for dead.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Rescued???

This whole Douglas Wood scenario shows how duplicitous the federal government can be. Firstly it says there was an intelligence tip that led to the rescue of Mr Wood, next we hear that 'Team Australia' were responsible for the release of Mr Wood, and now we hear that Mr Wood was found only by accident when the Iraqi forces were searching a neighbourhood in Baghdad for something coompletely unrelated.

If John Howard and Alexander Downer didn't know the full story about the release of Douglas Wood, why did they spin such crap to the people of Australia? Who knows, they may have known the full details and still chose to run with a false line, which makes it all the worse I believe.

I can give the Howard Government a bit of credit, they must have some of the best political strategists that you can get. It is the strategists that are responsible for the success of this government's continued popularity. The fact that they can come through unscathed from all sorts of scandals shows how well their strategies are working. Children overboard and Iraqi intelligence are the two most notable examples of their failings.

I wonder when Howard will send his 'Team Australia' to go and save another Australian who is being held against his will in a foreign country for no reason. David Hicks was taken by the US Forces 3 years ago, and has been held since then in Cuba with no charges being brought against him. If he was doing something wrong, charge hgim with something and put him to trail, but isn't 3 years more than long enough to work out what he was doing that was illegal?

Friday, June 17, 2005

Deal is done...

Well, it seems as though the Holden-Daewoo deal has been done. But it seems that Holden may be doing a staggered introduction, not dropping the Opel built Astra straight away. The Viva, the larger of the two shown below, will replace the Astra Classic.

Bumper Sticker

I saw a bumper sticker this morning that I think you might find amusing...

To add some context, it was placed on the back of a Harvey Beef delivery truck.

Vegetarian is Hindi for Piss Poor Hunter


Very cool t-shirt design...



Click to enlarge!


I do hope the Sweat Shop Productions logo isn't placed on there that large...

Hackers vs. Microsoft

How funny would it have been to be here, watching MS engineers faces go red and get pissed off cos someone hacked their code :)

From the article:

The random chatter of several hundred Microsoft engineers filled the cavernous executive briefing center recently at the company's sprawling campus outside Seattle.

Within minutes after their meeting was convened, however, the hall became hushed. Hackers had successfully lured a Windows laptop onto a malicious wireless network.

And also:

Matt Thomlinson, whose job it is to help make Microsoft engineers create more secure code, noticed that some of the engineers were turning red, becoming obviously angry at the demo hacking incident. Yet as painful as the lesson was, he was glad to see the crowd of engineers taking things personally.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Crazy Frog? Axe him.

And while I'm on the subject of ranting about stupid things on TV. Are we all across that stupid Crazy Frog Axel F thing?

The Brits, bless their soap-dodging souls, loved it so much it hit number one. This world just keeps going from strength to strength when a cleverly marketted telephone ring tone can take number one in the charts.

And now Aussie record companies are falling over themselves to get rights to distribute it here in Australia. I do hope that Aussies aren't similarly stupid.

Is there no end to what mindless sheep will bend over for?

"Toxic Big Brother"

This story on news.com.au talks about a recent episode of Big Brother un-cut where two house mates appeared to be having sex in a bath.

"Family groups" our outraged because apparently kids "have a chance of seeing this". Surveys show thousands of kids between 5 and 12 years of age watch BB un-cut at 9:40pm.

Now, I'm not a fan of the show myself, but seriously (pun intended), Channel Ten is showing this show at a time when kids of that age should be in bed. I remember as a child of that age I wasn't allowed to watch TV after 8:30pm without parental permission and supervision in most cases.

So once again: isn't it up to the parents to instill proper viewing discipline in the family? If necessary there are tools you can get that locks the TV at certain times of the day and requires a code to unlock.

While I'm not defending Channel Ten in any way for showing this kind of thing, I am once again dismayed that people seem to be missing the point of parental care giving.

*stepping off soap box*

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

TV Piracy... Get my parrot! Aarrrr

This article in todays SMH is the first time I have seen anything relating to TV viewers taking things into their own hands in the mainstream media. So many people have broadband now and giving them the name of the software to download their favourite TV shows will only make the torrent community bigger.

The article also has a list of unshown episodes in Australia. No surprises that Ten doesn't have any outstanding episodes of The Simpsons :)

Nine

Smallville 54 episodes unshown here
Judging Amy 40 eps
The West Wing 31 eps
Gilmore Girls 29 eps
Third Watch 27 eps (C)
Malcolm in the Middle 24 eps
Joan of Arcadia 36 episodes (C)
Farscape 22 eps and a miniseries (C)

Seven

That 70s show 79 eps unshown here
Bad Girls 56 eps
8 Simple Rules 31 eps (C)
Jag 30 eps (C)
Arrested Development 25 eps
Boston Public 19 eps (C)

Ten

One Tree Hill 34 eps unshown here
NYPD Blue 32 eps (C)
The Osbournes 10 eps (C)
The Guardian 9 eps (C)
The Secret Life of Us 8 eps

C = now cancelled in the US