Saturday, 29 March 2008

Comedy and Food

My wife and I were in Melbourne city centre last week for the Comedy Festival.

First of all, we went to see Tom Basden Doesn't Say Anything at Melbourne Townm Hall. The crowds were huge as there were several performances going on in various rooms at similar times. Tom Basden was in 'The Powder Room', a small anteroom with a capacity of about 80 and it was about half full.

I found the performance a bit disappointing really. We didn't know anything about it beforehand thinking we would just try something different. The show was a series of songs which, while occasionally amusing, didn't get a real laugh from anyone. This type of material has always worked well as part of a show thrown in among a few stories a la Mike Harding or Max Boyce but as an act in itself, gets a bit repetitive.

After the show, which lasted an hour, we walked down to Southbank to find a place to eat. We hadn't booked anything as there is a wide selection of eating places so finding a table isn't usually a problem. We decided on looking for a Chinese or Thai Restaurant and found the Red Emperor Chinese Restaurant on the third level of Southgate on Southbank.

I must admit that the meal was the best Chinese I have eaten in our ten years in Australia. Whilst not cheap ( the meal cost about $100 for a main course with a couple of drinks each), each dish we chose was exceptional and the service was excellent.

The Spicy Pepper Chicken was tender and delicious on a bed of crispy seaweed and the Manderin Prawns were also extremely tasty and cooked perfectly. Even the special fried rice was exceptional, moist and full of flavour.

So if you're out in Melbourne, I'd recommend a visit to the Red Emperor.

Friday, 28 March 2008

Has Hillary 'Jumped The Shark'?

With the full effects of Tuzla-gate yet to be seen, it appeared to me that Hillary jumped the shark when she tried to point the focus back onto Rev. Wright.

In a campaign that has seemingly become more desperate as the mathmatical chances of success diminish, it will be very interesting to see the next polls out of Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

I think this will be the day that marks the beginning of the end.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

What Really Happened at Tuzla?

You've heard the story. You've seen the video. Here's the definitive version...

There was a grunt and a clatter of equipment as Sinbad threw himself down at my side. Sweat glistened on his bare arms, and I could see tendons contracting and relaxing as he squeezed off bursts from his M14. The motion was hypnotic, like a snake about to strike. Perhaps, when all this was over-

No. Concentrate. Focus on the mission. Survive.

The First Line Says It All

You don't really need to read the rest, do you?

Australian model Kristy Hinze says she was instantly attracted to her 63-year-old boyfriend, Texan billionaire Jim Clark, by his intelligence.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Flickr Of The Day


Power To The Sky
Originally uploaded by Philippe Sainte-Laudy
A dramatic picture.

Monday, 24 March 2008

A Report From Iraq

It's a pity we don't see more reports like this.




H/T Andrew Sullivan

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Why Not To Buy A Sony

If you're shopping for a new laptop, Sony has a very generous offer for you.

For an extra $50 they won't pre-install all of their crap software.

This is a hobby!

The world's largest remote controlled plane. And what a great landing.

The Sniper Dash

I have nothing further to add.

And my favourite bit?

...including a moment when Clinton uses her body to shield a little girl from danger:

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Sandwiches Anyone?

A very funny ad from Durex

Where's Wally

Stephen Colbert reminds us that we never did find out where George W Bush went, after the swift-boating of Dan Rather.

Friday, 21 March 2008

LA to New York in 4 Minutes

A time-lapse video of a drive from Los Angeles to New York.

It would have been nice to see a few sub-titles flashing up to show where they were.

A Sad Old Man

Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post tries to keep the racial politics of the last generation going and ignores the content of the speech to keep highlighting the 'outrages' of Wright's speeches.
But that is not the question. The question is why didn't he leave that church? Why didn't he leave -- why doesn't he leave even today -- a pastor who thundered not once but three times from the pulpit (on a DVD the church proudly sells) "God damn America"? Obama's 5,000-word speech, fawned over as a great meditation on race, is little more than an elegantly crafted, brilliantly sophistic justification of that scandalous dereliction.
Obama is never going to sway the closed minds of the far right who seem unable to grasp the ideas of the reality based community. Even when their goals of empire and deregulation bring disaster they are unable, or more likely, unwilling to recognise the damage, but continue to try to strike fear into their audience.

Obama can make a difference. This is their biggest fear.

A More Perfect Union

I've read the speech and seen the video.

I hope all Americans do the same.

Flickr Of The Day

Scotland - Sunset at far end of Europe

Thursday, 20 March 2008

If Ann Coulter had liveblogged the Gettysburg Address

Brilliant!

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.

Right. As if Mr. Lincoln's victory over his sectional enemies on behalf of his black friends were the same as the survival of the nation. It all comes back to the cult of personality.

We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

Well, no. It would be more "fitting and proper" to leave the dead in peace rather than to use them as a club with which to beat conservatives. But Lincoln, like all liberals, is completely shameless. Joshua is right: they're basically fascists.


H/T John Cole

Sunday, 16 March 2008

What to do with those old Vinyl Albums

Great idea. Not sure about that Prince one though.


The Fallon Resignation

William Arkin makes a six point arguement that the US is not heading for military action with Iran and summarises

So: Is the U.S. headed for war with Iran? It depends on what the meaning of "headed for war" is. If Iran makes a grave error in judgment, if diplomacy fails, if Iran is intent on developing nuclear weapons in defiance of the international community -- then yes, we may be "headed for war." But headed for war because of Fallon's resignation, and before the November election? That's nonsense.
I think Arkin is relying too heavily on reasoned logic being used by Cheney and Co in the White House. Dick Cheney has been advocating military action against Iran for the last 18 months and has had to back off his public rhetoric since the release of the NIE. Iran's 'grave error in judgement' will be more likely, something initiated in the dark recesses of the VP's office. Be prepared for another Gleiwitz.

The Obama I Know

Well worth reading.

This was a pretty amazing conversation, not only because of Obama's mastery of the legal details, but also because many prominent Democratic leaders had already blasted the Bush initiative as blatantly illegal. He did not want to take a public position until he had listened to, and explored, what might be said on the other side.

This is the Barack Obama I have known for nearly 15 years -- a careful and evenhanded analyst of law and policy, unusually attentive to multiple points of view.
Judging from the latest national polls, the mudslinging seems to be hurting Hillary more than Obama as she appears to more and more electors as a continuation of the current administration.

Friday, 14 March 2008

Flickr of the Day


Montbenoit
Originally uploaded by Quantum Muse
Montbenoit - in the Doubs region near the Swiss border. We holidayed near here many years ago , just up the hill by a fromagerie.

We rented a gite on a working farm - they make a great and affordable holiday spot.

Unbelievable

I've seen some chutzpah in my time, but this is breathtaking in its audacity.

Journalists really need to prepare for their interviews. A denial is a pretty standard response. Couldn't they just have some examples ready.

H/T Andrew Sullivan

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Flickr Of The Day


Fishermen
Originally uploaded by Colin 30d
I love this picture and the story that goes with it. The fun police strike again!

Have Some Phun

This looks great!

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Bush's Pick

If you want to support George Bush's choice for successor, then you have two options...

His [Bush's] major goals are to prevent criminal prosecutions of himself (unlikely in any event) and his aides (more likely), to keep the public from finding out much of what he and his advisors actually did and ordered done during his presidency (his fight for immunity for telecom companies who engaged in illegal surveillance should be understood as part of this larger strategy), to entrench the U.S. presence in Iraq for the foreseeable future, and do what he can to ensure that John McCain becomes President, or failing that, Hillary Clinton as a second best solution. He figures that McCain, and, to a lesser extent Clinton, are most likely to continue aspects of his policies and keep troops in Iraq for some time. The longer that the next president continues his policies-- including warrantless surveillance, his interrogation practices, and his war in Iraq, the longer these features will become normalized and/or the next President's problem.


How much of this expanded executive power would Hillary hold on to? The Clinton's excessive secrecy to date means more of the same for the next four or eight years.

H/t Dan Froomkin

Terrorist Plots Foiled?

I've just been watching CNN and a report that China has disrupted a terrorist cell in North West China. The whole report was laced with skepticism and doubt.

Where's that skepticism when GWB says the same thing based on the torturing of individuals? Where is the same level of doubt, which this Executive has surely earned?

Interestingly, haveing led with the report on World Report I can't find the story on cnn.com.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Why bother to vote?

Did you trudge through the snow or rain to vote in the Democratic Primary or attend a Caucus? Did you get stuck in trafiic trying to get to the polling station?

Well, you shouldn't have bothered, obviously. It doesn't matter for whom you voted. According to Hillary...

How can you win the nomination when the math looks so bleak for you?
It doesn't look bleak at all. I have a very close race with Senator Obama. There are elected delegates, caucus delegates and superdelegates, all for different reasons, and they're all equal in their ability to cast their vote for whomever they choose. Even elected and caucus delegates are not required to stay with whomever they are pledged to . This is a very carefully constructed process that goes back years, and we're going to follow the process.
(my italics).

It doesn't matter if their district voted for Obama, they should switch to me seems to be the message. Democracy can be very untidy, can't it.

Flickr Of The Day


Eye of the Rainbow
Originally uploaded by down_the_rabbit_hole
A Rainbow Lorikeet. They are regular visitors to the garden.

Oops

Make sure everyone in your family knows if you're going away for the weekend!
A Melbourne doctor and his wife have arrived home from holiday to find homicide detectives about to hold a press conference into their suspected deaths.
I'm not sure why the police ripped the back deck up before speaking to the neighbours.

Intervention in Rwanda

When Hillary Clinton was asked whether this was true, she said "It is."
Really?

So: Clinton didn't mention that she advocated military intervention in Rwanda in her memoirs. Neither did Madeleine Albright. Neither, as far as I can tell, did anyone else. Military intervention was not considered as an option, "never even debated", which means that any advocacy she did engage in must have been pretty ineffective.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Norwich City's Greatest Moment?

I think so.




Just in case you think the first goal was a fluke...

Four More Years

This is what we're in for, after 8 years of of Bush's secrecy and distortion...

Federal archivists at the Clinton Presidential Library are blocking the release of hundreds of pages of White House papers on pardons that the former president approved, including clemency for fugitive commodities trader Marc Rich. The archivists' decision, based on guidance provided by Bill Clinton that restricts the disclosure of advice he received from aides, prevents public scrutiny.
if Hillary wins.

H/T Andrew Sullivan

Playing the Clinton Game

Andrew Sullivan explains how the Clintons are destroying the hopes of millions for their own dynastic purposes.

If the Clintons, after having already enjoyed presidential power for eight long years, destroy this movement in order to preserve their own grip on privilege and influence in Democratic circles, it will be more than old-fashioned politics. It will be a generational moment - as formative as 1968. Killing it will be remembered for a very, very long time. And everyone will remember who did it - and why.
It's time the Washington Insiders opened their eyes and saw the damage this is doing. It's not just the USA that is hanging on the result of this primary. The rest of the world is waiting with baited breath.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Peak Oil - When do we start worrying?

With news that OPEC has refused to increase production, I was reminded of this article that I read and bookmarked a while ago. Is OPEC refusing to raise production because it sees no need, as it says, or it can't because there isn't as much oil as it claims.

The problem is that projecting the capacity of Saudi oil production is a tough nut. Ever since the Saudis took control of their national oil company, Aramco, from Western oil companies in 1980, a shroud has dropped over every facet of the kingdom's oil industry. The Saudis release no official data on how their aging fields are holding up, or how well their exploration efforts are going, and their published production totals may not be credible, let alone how much they will be producing a decade from now. As with most OPEC members, Saudi claims of proven reserves have increased steadily since 1980, but most analysts agree that these numbers have been manipulated upward for political reasons related to OPEC production quotas and bear little relation to reality. For oil industry experts, Saudi Arabia is a gigantic black hole, a target of guesswork, not analysis.
And there's this...
The result of his [Matthew Simmons] analysis is Twilight in the Desert, whose title summarizes his conclusion: He thinks Saudi oil production--and therefore world oil production--is in a lot more trouble than anyone is letting on.

Once again, water is at the core of the critique. Of Saudi Arabia's 10 million bpd of oil, about 90 percent comes from a mere seven giant fields, all of them old. Ghawar, a uniquely gigantic field which all by itself accounts for more than half of Saudi Arabia's output, has been in production since 1951. A massive water injection program was begun in the early '60s, and today more than 7 million barrels of seawater are required daily to keep Ghawar going. Even at that, though, the best evidence indicates that Ghawar's production may have already begun declining.
I've no idea when peak Oil will occur, but having a large part of the information hidden from view doesn't make me feel comfortable.

Still, even the peak oil ideologues who make these arguments can't agree on how close the peak actually is. Princeton professor Kenneth Deffeyes jokingly pinpoints the peak on Thanksgiving 2005, Colin Campbell's latest prediction puts the date around 2007, and other peak oil supporters suggest dates anywhere between last year and 2015. As Simmons and others admit (or perhaps warn ominously), we won't know for sure that oil production has peaked until a year or two after it happens.

Flickr of the Day.


Cromer Pier
Originally uploaded by doddie79
Winter Sunset, Cromer Pier. Great place to live and it can be pretty special in winter (except when that North wind is blowing!)

Hillary Clinton (R)

What is Hillary Clinton doing? What is the logic behind preferring the Republican nominee over your Democratic opponent?

Is it that if she can't win it, she doesn't want Obama to get it either? Unbelievable.

There's a very entertaining and very long thread on Balloon Juice on this.

Highlights:

Andrew Says:

Olbermann, paraphrased: “Doesn’t this first lady business mean that Laura Bush has almost as much foreign policy experience as Hillary?”

Blue Neponset Says:

Hillary “Dubya” Clinton strikes again. As much as John McCain is wrong about everything he ain’t George Bush. I will give the man credit for that. Hillary, OTOH, is looking more like Chimpy McFlightsuit every damn day. She would send a class of second graders to Gitmo if it served her purposes.

Singularity Says:

Hillary is just doing the math. As Veep in the administration of a 72-year-old, she stands a much better chance of ascending to the presidency than she does as Veep in the administration of a 47-year-old. And you just know Mark Penn has told her that McCain-Clinton ‘08 will roll over Obama-Anybody. I imagine this has at least been a topic of discussion at Burson-Marsteller.

and so on...


The Norwich City Revival

I haven't said much about the recent fortunes of Norwich City but it's worth mentioning the impact that Glenn Roeder has had on the club.

6 points adrift at the bottom of the table in November, the transformation has been remarkable. But the highlight for me is the way he speaks. In his time at Norwich, I don't think I've heard a thing I disagree with or that I've thought should have been expressed differently.

This is an interesting article which highlights how deeply Glenn has become engrained in the Norwich way. And it gives you a bit of pride in your club. It's not surprising that season ticket sales are well up on last year. I think the Playoffs were always a step too far this season, but we can look forward to the next campaign with some confidence.

Obama vs Clinton

Now that the dust has settled down after the Texas and Ohio primaries, I'd like to add my thoughts to the huge volume that have already been aired.

1. There is a major difference between the Obama and Clinton campaigns that needs highlighting more prominently. Where is the money coming from and what will the donors expect from their investment? With over 1 million small donors Barack Obama's campaign is fueled by the desire of Americans to get away from the corporate ownership of government. Where is Hillary's money coming from? How many lobbyists are involved in fund-raising for her ? A Clinton administration will mean more of the same with policy decisions being driven by big-money interests.

2. Open government. After 8 years of the most secretive government in recent times and a massive extension of Executive power, how much is either candidate prepared to roll it back and restore the influence of Congress? Obama's website makes it clear that open government and high ethical standards will be a priority. What will Hillary Clinton do with all that power? I haven't read that she intends to restore the balance of powers. What about the secrecy surrounding her White House papers and tax returns.

3. First Lady or First 'Laddie'. This is another key difference which should be pushed. How will Hillary control Bill in the White House? How much influence will he hold in the partnership? After all, she is claiming that the eight years of his presidency counts as Executive experience for her. Will this turn out to be a third term for Bill? I must admit, I am really uncomfortable with the dynastic appearance of Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton, and who knows, another Bush in eight years time.

4. Iraq. I know that Obama has been hammering this but he shouldn't let Hillary get away with the 'one speech' comment. This was a momentous decision which was made, just before the Congressional elections in 2002 to try and make the Democrats look 'weak on terror' if they voted against it. Obama should highlight this as a real weakness in Hillary that she didn't have the courage of her convictions and could be bullied by the administration. To highlight how important this decision was, I see that the Bush Administration is now claiming that the resolution now gives them permission to sign a treaty with Iraq without Congressional approval.

5. Dignity. With all of the negative campaigning that has gone on in the past few weeks, Obama would still command the respect of Hillary's supporters in the presidential campaign. I'm not sure if the reverse would be true as Hillary follows the Rove playbook. I'm reading a lot of disillusioned Democratic supporters at the moment who could stay home if she somehow prevails.

6. America's standing in the world. After 8 years of the trashing of the USA's reputation, Obama holds the greatest hope in restoring it. I know we can't vote in the coming election but the result will have a major influence on us all. Obama represents a clean break from the past while Hillary, while reversing a lot of the damage, will mean a continuation of the partisanship or American politics.

We, in Australia, had our own change of course last November. Let's hope that America can do the same in this.

EDP Net Traffic Up


I would imagine that the internet traffic to my old local daily paper has increased suddenly today. Dan Froomkin, in his widely read Washington Post column 'White House Watch' links to a story about email traffic, some highly classified, being sent to a local domain instead of the major American Airbase next door.

You'll find the item near the end of the column. Check out the cartoon links aas well, it's always worth it.