Archive for June 2004

Get Yer Tall Poppies Here!

June 24, 2004

This one has got it all. Football players behaving badly, the evil machinations of the hamburgery-industrial complex, and poor defenceless kids! Won’t someone please, please, please, please think of the chiiiiiiiiiiiiildren!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

FAST food giant McDonald’s has been accused of running a covert marketing campaign in schools.

Famous footballers employed by the hamburger chain have plugged the McDonald’s menu, and free McDonald’s merchandise has been given to students under the guise of motivational talks in high schools.

Complaints surfaced after Hawthorn footballer Ben Dixon gave a McDonald’s sponsored talk to a group of 250 Doncaster Secondary College Year 9 students on Tuesday.

Don’t you love the emotive language? Fast food giant! Covert marketing campaign! Can’t be that covert if they’re giving out merchandise, can it?

Meanwhile, the Potato Marketing Board still has not drawn any fire from anyone, despite their deliberate targetting of children.

Up next: Ronald McDonald, The Hamburglar and Mayor McCheese accused of pack-raping a Wilderness Society Koala. However, the koala’s case isn’t looking very good either. Unlike footy groupies, who are all devout christians saving themselves for marriage to the boy next door, koalas have been proven to be dirty, dirty sluts.

Quagmire

June 24, 2004

The war on drugs – An astounding success!

After a decade of concern about illicit drugs, ecstasy is cheaper than ever and much easier to procure in the nation’s capital cities, the head researcher of a study of nightclub patrons has said.

“The cost of an ecstasy tablet has fallen from about $70 in the mid-1990s in most of the major capital cities to about $30-35 now,” said Dr Cameron Duff, the director of research at the Australian Drug Foundation. “Allied to that, we’ve had a significant increase in the availability of these substances in the community.”

Dr Duff’s findings are confirmed by research on party drug trends, conducted by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre. Only 3 per cent of those interviewed in a recent study of ecstasy users reported the drug to be difficult to purchase. In contrast, 80 per cent said it was easy, or very easy, to buy.

The national survey, of more than 800 regular users, showed friends were the primary source of drugs – a significantly more common point of purchase than dealers.

The only way it could get any cheaper is if it was included in the PBS.

Hitch Bitch

June 23, 2004

Incomparable master of polemicism, Christopher Hitchens, serves up tirades against heroes of the right and the left. Something for everyone to hate!

New Group Blog

June 23, 2004

Online Opinion, an Australian punditry site that provides the odd interesting article, has jumped on the blogging bandwagon with “Ambit Gambit“. So far, nothing particularly mindblowing, but it may be one to watch in the future.

It’s A Space Ship

June 23, 2004

Today’s Australian has a photo gallery of SpaceShipOne’s launch on Monday.

Lisa Wilkinson Wants YOU

June 23, 2004

Been dreaming of debating David Koch? Here’s your chance:

REALITY TV will invade the federal election campaign, with a national contest to elect six independent candidates for the Senate.

Channel 7 announced it was going ahead with Vote For Me, where 18 serious candidates will be chosen by political experts, before the audience votes for a final six.

The winners will then get $10,000 and regular air time by Seven in their quest to be elected to the Senate.

The contestants will run for Senate spots in Queensland, NSW, Victorian, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia.

More information on Sunrise’s web page here. If you are thinking of entering, you’d better get your skates on, because all entries must be received by July 2.

Update: Some people don’t need any help from the crew at Sunrise. Ozblogger Todd McKenzie, for example:

I must admit that I thought it would be a while before I said this, but I am taking the leap and becoming a candidate for the seat of Lilley in the upcoming Federal Election. I will be running as a National for the seat.

Space Page

June 22, 2004

Regular Samizdata contributor Dale Amon has a series of posts presenting an insider’s view of the world’s first privately developed Spaceship, which entered space for the first time yesterday.

Monday’s flight followed a series of test runs for SpaceShipOne, which is the lead contender in a $10 million race to fly a three-passenger, reusable craft to suborbital altitude, then repeat the feat within two weeks. More than two dozen teams have entered the X-Prize, which expires at the end of this year.

Rutan developed SpaceShipOne with funding from Microsoft co-founder Allen, who said he spent more than $20 million on the program.

“We built a complete manned program from scratch for the price of one of those government studies,” Rutan said.

Catch up with the action at Samizdata.

Update: Alan E. Brain has…an update.

Barmy Red Army

June 22, 2004

Some hints as to the future of world cricket:

Bad

Good:

China’s government has launched a drive to make the country a world force in cricket. It is determined to reach the top rank of the game within 20 years.

And, if their future cricketing history bears any similarity to England’s, they’ll spend the second half of the 21st century losing to Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau and Tibet.

La Qantas Nostra

June 21, 2004

Michael Jennings has an excellent article on the history of Australia’s aviation industry at the UK-based Transport blog.

Yobbo, ChrisV Banned

June 21, 2004

Worried about the potential for terrorist financing, federal cabinet has examined wide-ranging legislation to ban foreign internet gambling and ordered further work before it makes a final decision, which may be next week.

Government sources said cabinet was looking at options including total prohibition, stiff industry regulations, or leaving policing to the states.

Here are your options regarding total prohibition: Pull out the plug that connects Australia to the internet. That’s it, very simple! That’s the only way you will stop internet gambling. Is it really worth it?

Let me provide a quick explanation of how useless further “industry regulations” will be. The gambling site that I use most days, Empire Poker, is incorporated in that great nation “Kahnawake Mohawk Territory” which, for those of you who need to brush up on your geography, is located on the South shore of the St Lawrence river, across from Montreal.

Internet Gambling is also banned in the US, see. Most companies are therefore based in various financial islands in the carribean, (such as good old Tuvalu, which also gives us the very handy .TV top level internet domain), or on other Indian reservations. Now, regardless of Australia’s status as “deputy sherriff in the Pacific”, I’m pretty sure we are quite incapable of defeating France in a future war over gambling in their former colonies. After all, they have nukes.

Therefore, to prevent Australians accessing internet gambling sites, you have to stop the access from our end. How the Howard government proposes to do this is a mystery to me. Sure, you could block the IPs of every current internet gambling site, which would work quite well until a new one opens in 15 seconds time…

I also like the oh-so-scary threat of terrorist financing used to justify the bans. Funny how it doesn’t stop the government from running the TAB or Casinos located in Australia. In fact, it’s vastly easier to launder money at a bricks-and-mortar casino, because most internet sites place strict limits on the amount of cash that may be transferred through their systems on a daily basis. Around $5000 in most cases. You could launder hundreds of thousands in a real casino before they took any notice whatsoever.

The terrorism angle wasn’t needed last time they banned internet gambling, why bring it up now? Is it because the traditional “gambling is evil” justifications are losing their effect? Unlike the US, Australia’s conservative party doesn’t have a large Christian segment that pushes for anti-sin laws at every turn. Who among the Liberal party faithful is actually pushing for this ban? I grew up in Liberal/National heartland, and everyone there gambles. Australia has a public holiday for a horse race, for fuck’s sake. Why the hell are the Libs still pursuing this rubbish?

Myself, ChrisV and a lot of our friends were kinda hoping that with Alston gone, the Howard government would seek out a less retarded internet policy in the future. This is an issue that could be a Sullivan-style “Deal Breaker” for all of us, as they are basically planning to outlaw our livelihood. I’m yet to see any response from Labor on this issue, but something tells me their policy will be no different. In the event that these laws are ever actually enacted, we will probably have to emigrate.

A lot of lifelong Liberal voters read this site: What are your thoughts on internet gambling?