Saturday, January 09, 2016

Moronic Motorists

No, the car is not pulling away from the kerb, it is parked in Little Bourke Street, and I didn't scrawl the 'Can't park for s***' on the rear window.

I watched the woman reverse into this space. The difficult part was done but instead of completing the parking by turning her wheels inward and moving forward, she just left it there and got out. Crazy or lazy?

This visible stretch of kerbing is no standing but that doesn't stop people parking there. You would think that with all that space to illegally park, you wouldn't park right on the pedestrian road crossing. Pure selfishness.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Animal cruelty beyond belief

When I was a child, more that once I saw a cat torture a mouse to death. It was not nice. I seem to recall I was horrified at the time, but that is the natural order of things, no matter how unpleasant the viewing may be. We humans are better than that, mostly.

Off the shore of West Australia a ship has broken down, and just relying on memory, the ship has been sitting there for ten days awaiting repair. On board is a thousand or thousands of cattle for live export to Israel and they are dying an awful death. Do you know West Australia has had some terrible bushfires? There has been a loss of a whole town of around 100 houses. It has been killer hot there and that is the temperatures that these animals have been suffering, like 40 degrees, 104F.

These poor mammals, just a little down the evolutionary scale from us, are suffering badly. Yet no matter the colour of the government, the hideous practice of live animal exports is not stopped.

Get Up and Change dot org seem to have not been effective in protest. It may well be time to flood email our Prime Minister.

My blog post won't change anything, but a consensus of opinion about live animal exports will. 

Damn was not a strong enough word

Hmm, so this is going to cost.

Funny Friday

'Allo 'Allo was not a tv show I really watched but I did catch an occasional glimpse. I think I would enjoy it more now. I cracked up when I watched this 36 second clip.

Later edit: It seems this clip was from the tv show, The Dave Allen show.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

A neighbour's party

The may be very very rich but I felt sorry for the neighbours. I did not know when the event was going to happen but the deck was being set up for a party in 41 degree heat. The catering crew turned up to assess the site. Surely they can't dine outside in this heat, even if it might be a little cooler in the evening.

It was the evening of the following day and instead of tremendous heat, there was a tremendous downpour, so my sympathy was not wasted.  I could hear plenty of music though, from a DJ, and there was dancing and many caterers running about, pausing at times to dry themselves or something.

Strangely the next day the tables and other catering stuffs disappeared, but not the umbrellas. They were used for shelter from the sun for Christmas Day dinner. The spa was uncovered for only about the fourth time since the building was erected, and this delightful gold inflatable swan appeared. It amused me no end for a couple of days as it swam around, propelled by the wind.

What better to do after Christmas dinner than relax in a spa, although the dog was anything but relaxed and wanted to join in the spa fun.

I would not like to live there, with the Gladys Kravitz of St Kilda Road peering down on me from across the road.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Mass sexual assault of women in Cologne

Alarmist headline? Not really.

No matter what you think of Germany's PM Merkel and her decision to allow hundreds of thousands of refugees into Germany, this is extremely disturbing. I loved Cologne when we briefly visited the city. It was such an alive city, full of a diverse range of real people and in spite of being heavily bombed during the war, there was still plenty of history. There seems to have been an attempt at a cover up, and once the story was out, no one would say anything about race or origin of the perpetrators, but eventually the story broke properly, or did it? Did you hear about it? It is futile to attempt cover ups in these fast communication days and it is futile to not name the origins of people who perpetrate crimes. Even the most prominent do gooders in society need statistics and information about problems with those they support. The stupid mayor, herself the victim of a knife attack by extremists, suggested women should keep men at an arm's length to protect themselves. A woman encircled by twenty North African and Arabic men intent on sexually assaulting her should take note. Keep the men at an arm's length. Very sad business indeed for women out to have some fun on New Year's Eve.

Do remember that Merkel is a conservative party politician, and conservative parties are always looking for factory fodder workers to break down the working conditions and pay of those born to the country. 

This text from the wonderful Guardian electric newspaper

German police are investigating reports that scores of women were sexually assaulted and mugged in Cologne city centre during New Year’s Eve celebrations, in what a minister called a “completely new dimension of crime”.
Authorities and media were accused of a cover-up linked to initial indications that, according to the police, those allegedly responsible for the sex attacks and numerous robberies were of Arab and north African origin.
Sixty complaints were filed to police, a third of which were linked to sexual assault. Cologne’s mayor, Henriette Reker, called an emergency meeting of high-ranking security officials on Tuesday, saying her aim was to ensure the city centre did not turn into a “lawless zone”.
Between 500 and 1,000 men described as drunk and aggressive are believed to have been behind the attacks on partygoers in the centre of the western German city. Whether they were working as a single group or in separate gangs remains unclear.
Women reported being tightly surrounded by groups of men who harassed and mugged them. Some people threw fireworks into the crowds, adding to the chaos.
“Sexual crimes took place on a huge scale,” said the police president, Wolfgang Albers. “The crimes were committed by a group of people who from appearance were largely from the north African or Arab world.”
He said one of the victims had been raped. A volunteer policewoman was among those said to have been sexually assaulted.
The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, called Reker to express her outrage, according to a statement from her office. She called for authorities to find the perpetrators as “quickly and comprehensively as possible and to punish them without regard to their origin or background.”
Officers are working on the assumption that the men had organised their plan of attack. They said many of the perpetrators were known to them and some may have been asylum seekers, though not new arrivals to Germany.
Similar attacks are believed to have taken place on a smaller scale in Hamburg’s red light district of St Pauli on New Year’s Eve, according to a police spokesman.

In Cologne, police said the men appeared to have come from Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia and were on average in their mid-20s. They had gathered on the square in front of the main train station next to the city’s towering Gothic cathedral and smaller groups of men appeared to repeatedly leave the group to target female revellers, many of whom had arrived via train from the provinces around Cologne to celebrate the new year in the city.  

Heiko Maas, Germany’s justice minister, condemned the attacks and called for better police protection in German cities. “The despicable attacks on women will not be tolerated. This is obviously a completely new dimension of organised crime,” he tweeted.
Barbara Steffens, the minister for emancipation in the North Rhine Westphalia (NRW) government, said the New Year’s Eve incident was “the tip of a very unpleasant iceberg”. She called for a “larger societal condemnation of a male abuse of power”.
The density of the crowds in Cologne meant that hundreds of police were deployed on Thursday night. Questions are being asked as to how they failed to realise until much later that crimes were taking place on such a large scale. Police say the full extent of the attacks only became clear in the following days as increasing numbers of victims began to come forward. It is believed that many women have yet to report assaults, and police appealed for people who had not already done so to come forward.
Arnold Plickert, head of the police trade union in NRW, told the Deutsche Presse Agentur that the incidents were “of a new quality … What we’ve been able to establish is that this is an organised method.”
He said questions needed to be asked as to “how it was possible that this thousand-strong group was able to come to Cologne and meet up there”.
Police in Hamburg said some aspects of the attackers’ methods were akin to those of skilled pickpockets operating in the city.
Officers of Operation New Year, set up to investigate the attacks, will examine CCTV footage from in and around the station in an effort to identify perpetrators. Reker said a discussion on installing further cameras would form part of her emergency talks.
One of the victims, identified only as Katja L, told the Kölner Express: “When we came out of the station, we were very surprised by the group we met, which was made up only of foreign men … We walked through the group of men, there was a tunnel through them, we walked through … I was groped everywhere. It was a nightmare. Although we shouted and hit them, they men didn’t stop. I was horrified and I think I was touched around 100 times over the 200 metres.”

One investigator told the Kölner Express: “The female victims were so badly pushed about, they had heavy bruises on their breasts and behinds.”

Critics of Merkel’s open-door policy on refugees were quick to blame it for the attacks, despite the police’s insistence that the alleged perpetrators were not new arrivals.
One tweet attributed to a follower of Pegida, the anti-Islam, anti-immigrant protest group , stated: “Merkel … you’re an accessory to the abuse at Cologne.”
On Pegida’s Facebook page, a woman identifying herself as Angelina Southern got more than 500 likes for her comment: “I could puke when I read this, and there are still so many deluded idiots who say ‘Welcome refugees’ … Close the borders now. For God’s sake, Merkel belongs on the scaffold.”
The attacks have been the main talking point on Twitter in Germany, with some people accusing the media of a cover-up and others expressing their concern that the incident would be seized on by anti-refugee groups.
On New Year’s Eve worldwide attention had been focused on the southern German city of Munich where areas around the main station and another station outside the centre were closed after intelligence reports indicated that Islamic State supporters planned to launch attacks. It followed the cancellation of a football match in the northern city of Hanover in November after a French tipoff that Isis planned to target the stadium.
In October, Reker, was the victim of a vicious attack over her refugee-friendly policies when she was stabbed in the neck by a man during her campaign as an independent candidate for the mayorship.
Each subsequent incident has prompted an escalation in the fierce debate over whether Germany is making itself more vulnerable due to its refugee policy.

The Expert Politicians

This probably needs an edit and a tidy up, and some fact checking but after ten plus years of blog writing, why would I start doing that now? 

There is a bloke at one of our universities, Graeme someone I think, and there was also the late Paul Meese, also a university person. They know and knew public transport inside out. Without mentioning names, there are some real non professional people who know about public transport here in Melbourne. Yet, politicians know better than people who have made their lives as public transport experts.

Two words in caps for emphasis. CLIMATE SCIENTISTS. Apparently some of our politicians know better than climate scientists and deny climate change. A climate scientist had surely studied weather and its changes for a very long time and yet politicians (and some newspaper columnists)  know better.

Politicians go against advice by very experienced medical people and make rules to suit their budgets, not the practicality of medicine.

For years we have wanted proper labelling on food products, yet we don't yet have it. And why not the red/orange/green light system?

Why don't we have the much talked about refundable deposit on drink containers as South Australia does?

I have never heard anyone argue against permanent clearways, that is no car parking, in Punt Rd/Hoddle Street. How hard is it to put up clear way signs? Very difficult, it seems.

I do not understand why before anything in our State of Victoria has to or is going to be done, we have to reinvent the wheel. At times an overseas study tour is required. Why? All the information is available on the net.

Uber taxi users complain about a 8 fold increase in prices for New Year's Eve travel. That my friends is why taxis were regulated. You want unregulated? Then you pay 8 times the price in peak demand. Pure unfettered capitalism.

Our taxis might be highly regulated, but the regulations are not enforced. If there is an issue the government can't ignore, it will make a new law and not enforce that either. I was in town one night last week and between Bourke and Lonsdale Street in Swanston Street, taxis were lined up in both direction under the 'this is not a taxi rank' signs on both sides of the street. They were also in the loading zone in Swanston Street at Federation Square and also queued back from Flinders Street Station in the cycling lane over Princes Bridge. Oh yes, our taxis are highly regulated.

The tourist rip off horse and cart folk park illegally in Swanston Street when they want and clearly do what they want whenever. I can tell you, there is one day going to be horrible public accidental death of one of those horses and guess what the government or council will do? Make a new law, when it should have enforced the old ones.

Have you ever seen one of our Border Security tv shows? If you are overseas, maybe you are impressed by our border security. What border security? We have heaps of illegal visa overstayers and illegitimate foreign students and mainland Chinese abusing our immigration system.  Around Melbourne on NYE over forty fires were started by illegal fireworks, illegally imported probably from China. Australia is awash with drugs, imported mostly via corrupt Singapore ports. Singapore tries to pretend it is a first world non corrupt Asian country, but never believe that.

Gosh, I thought Australia looked embarrassingly ingratiating when former Prime Minister Abbott knighted Prince Phillip, husband of our Queen. Lynton Crosby helped former Australian conservative PM John Howard be re-elected and went on to help David Cameron be elected PM of England. It seems his political work earned him an English knighthood. England, you should be really embarrassed about this outrage. Crosby is a nasty cut throat piece of work and would sell his mother for a couple of pieces of silver. England, you give a knighthood to this man?

Speaking of England, how awful the floods were. Nothing to do with climate change though, mind. The US has had some terrible weather too, but neither is that to do with climate change either. France and Poland are having a lovely warm weather winter. Could it be climate change? Of course not you silly sausage. They are just in luck. It is not a trend.

The English city of York was badly affected by floods but they have two brilliant rescue boats ready to do the job they were bought for, that is rescue people in flood waters. Not being a York person, and I don't want to be, Yorkies?, no, they are Yorkshire puddings, should be massing in the streets in protest as to why these boats were kept high and dry while other boats from nearby and afar English towns were called in to help rescue people. Extraordinary! England's Tory government has cut funding from city flood defences, and guess what happened when it rained a lot? English towns were flooded. Some basic cause and effect there.

Lest you think I am a Tory/Liberal Party hater, you are correct, but Labour/Labor doesn't do so well at times. While I am a staunch unionist, how disgraceful in Australia was the behaviour of union officers Craig Thompson and Kathy Jackson. They ripped off their poorly paid union member workers for huge amounts of money.

Are you ever tempted to take Yahoo news seriously? Crap like this headline that takes you directly to advertising should stop you in your tracks. 'New Craze is wiping out slow computers across AU and is now the #1 reason not to buy a new computer'. It is shite. Btw, we are buying a new computer, over the internet from a Sydney shop at the suggestion of an acquaintance.

Rant completed. If anything I have written made you question what you may have thought, my job is done.

Really should add a photo so that apparently I will attract more attention in blog lists. Hey, I can have another rant, all over advertising on public transport vehicles that stops your view out of the window for a stop or street or building you may be trying to see. It is so much worse when you are travelling in a tram with drop down windows and you get double thickness of all over advertising.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

A most terrible mistake

We have made as serious and expensive mistake. It is not earth shattering. We haven't gambled away our home.

Some weeks ago R mentioned that he wasn't hearing the tv sound terribly well. I finally said what needed to be said and told him he was going deaf. He asked me to investigate a sound bar for the tv on the information super highway. His tablet is connected to the information superhighway but apparently only does Face Book and solitaire. I ignored him for a bit and then he mentioned it again. I took a look online. Ok, sound bar with a sub woofer. Good discount at Gerry Harvey's shop but  the Monday post Christmas on the way to Gerry Harvey is The Good Guys. We have had some bargains from there in the past, like our brill Sony tv that does the dishwashing as well. I had a good idea of watts and dollars but I was a little reluctant.

A Sony sound bar was heavily discounted at The Good Guys and it was one of the more attractive units. It had sub woofer. I kind of knew what that was, but R did not and had already decided where it should be placed to be aesthetically pleasing. Err, good sound is so often not aesthetically pleasing.

The sales person offered the opinion that although we could buy any brand, buying the Sony model would be a better match for our tv. We bit the bullet.

Once home we made a temporary connection using an odd supplied wire I have never come across before. We fiddled and fiddled and eventually had it set up. R could not understand why we could not hear the sub woofer. It was about eight metres away from the tv, four metres from where we sit and not pointing at us. It was like a dull echo. If you are unsure what a sub woofer does, my opinion is that it is a bass sound enhancer. I convinced R that it needed to sit near to the tv, so it went next to the Christmas tree. It sounded ok, but a sub woofer really comes into its own with special effect movies and music, none of which we watch or listen to much. The sub woofer stayed in that position for a couple of days and then went back to the other end of the room, with the words "I am not having a speaker control my life". I agreed to the relocation where it will be pretty well unnoticed unless you are sitting at the head of the dining seat, and it booms into your left ear.

That was the Monday after Christmas. On Tuesday we went into town to buy an HDMI cable to properly connect it to the tv. R was convinced the HDMI needed to cost us a lot of dollars. I stymied him with some research from credible sources like CNET. If you are an audio perfectionist you may want to pay $60 for a 3 metre cable, but a $5 HDMI cable will do the job. We visited DSE and theirs were expensive and I was just not going to pay huge amounts. I never told R, but I think one of our machines is connected by an HDMI cable I bought in a $2 shop kind of place. We were on our way to check Officeworks when I suggested we looked in Big W at QV. Sure enough, a 3 metre cable for $20. That is fine. And then the fun started.

Our cables between units and the tv are concealed within the wall. I have dabbled in that area before when I ripped out old style dvd connections and as I pulled the wires out, with wire I twitched on, I pulled through the new HDMI cable for our new dvd player.

R imagined he could just drop the HDMI cable in the top hole in the wall and pick it up at the bottom hole. I knew that wouldn't work. The space is tight. There are obstructions.

My plan was the only way. Pull an existing cable out of the wall with a wire attached and then pull through with the wire two cables. I might add at this point, I am getting to old for these shenanigans of getting down on the floor in a confined space and doing stuff. That is what I did and mucked it up badly by pulling the wrong end and just pulled the cable out without pulling the wire through. I did call myself some terrible names. OK, there are two more cables and two more chances but could two HDMI cables with their big plugs be pulled through? No, I judged. This is our second last chance. I am a little confused now as there were three cables to pull through. Ah yes, I need to pull through another wire and will use another cable to so. I was now very focused and tied three lengths of wire, after some unravelling to one cable and pulled them through. Then with some difficulty we pulled through three HDMI cables. The first was hard, but the second two not so bad. Do you believe that I was sweating big time and ready to punch R on the nose for his idea of a sound bar? Had R's nose not cost so much to make perfect, I may well have.

In total I suspect about four hours was spent on connecting the sound bar, working out settings and hiding the HDMI cable. Never mind, we have a great sound system for our tv. I learnt from research, well I already knew but I had to show R in writing, that $20 is enough to pay for an HDMI cable. The Big W model for $20 is fine as it has high speed on the package and is ARC compliant. I did not know about ARC and nor did I know that only some HDMI sockets are ARC compliant. Fortunately our tv has one. Audio Return Cable?

But, at some point in the process I remembered the words of the tv salesman who sold us our tv. He said, this in the only tv that you will be able to properly hear without an extra sound system. And you know what?
The sound bar is not really that much better. It is a marginal and a barely noticeable improvement.

So there concludes the post about two old gay men who clearly have money to waste, about $450. As R said, kick me when I have the next bright idea.

The full conclusion is, why do we need sound bars? Why buy a tv that does not give good sound? Sound bars are a total rip off if you are not into those big block buster movies, yet they were selling like hotcakes.

I stood up after finishing this post and thought, well, the sound is really a bit better. I looked at the sound bar and it had not auto turned on as it is supposed to and was off. God, are we fools or what. There is now a distracting low booming noise coming at times from somewhere in the room, but at least the sub woofer hidden away in a corner is aesthetically pleasing.

You ain't staying there, my friend. To the corner with you.

Looks like the sound bar grew there.

Monday, January 04, 2016

You need an atlas

You will have to go and find your Phillips Family Atlas to see where we are holidaying next year.

To and fro we have gone with possible holiday plans. Tasmania? Cruise to New Zealand return? Indian Pacific train to Perth and fly home? (tracks aren't great and neither is the train. Longest stretch of straight rail line in the world but an average train speed of 80 km/h.) Visiting Asian countries by cruising the South China Sea. A Mediterranean cruise? I would like to see some more of Victoria or even Australia, but as R says every time I mention it, we need to do our overseas travel now while we are fit enough. Easier local travel is for our old age. No ideas came to anything. I don't want to go anywhere hot and humid. We have had enough of heat and humidity during recent holidays. I said to R, something will pop up that will inspire us.

Two days later it did. I will explain in the fullness of time but if the plans come off we will holiday in Alvor in May. A week will be long enough there so we will do something else in that vague area. It seems there is only one Alvor in the world so girlfriends and boyfriends, get busy with the electric atlas.

Musical Monday

Among all the dross I write there has been a couple of posts I wrote where afterwards I received a  personal email from someone I mentioned or someone associated.

Two spring to mind and one post was about our then ABC reporter in Afghanistan, Sally Sara. In a post I queried along the lines as to why she wore a head scarf when reporting, going native as it used to be called.  It was probably something I should have thought through a bit more. She sent me an lovely email and explained why. Of course now I am totally in tune with anything Sally does. She is an excellent reporter and story teller.

The other that comes to mind is when I published a You Tube clip of the late US performer Ruth Wallis. I received a nice email from her son. I really wish I could see a live performance of this online. She was a treat. Her son said, Read your blog (re"Ruth Wallis"). My mother has received more airplay since her death than during her 30 year career. She was really considered quite taboo during the Eisenhower era. Here is a video that was done with her "Ugly Man with Money" track. Hope you get a laugh. I did. Ruth was brilliant and scandalous for the time.

So this is a repeat post of Ruth Wallis singing . I think this is just brilliant and it is certainly catchy.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Wreaths and a Wrap

This will do for Sunday Selections. It is not much. Maybe River and some others will do better.

Wreaths have gone viral on one particular floor of our building. I don't know of any other wreaths on doors of the 128 apartments in The Highrise, but four of the five apartments on our carpark level have wreaths. We have never put up a wreath. I took the photos with my phone.

Melbourne Central's Christmas effort. Ho hum. I don't like the place anyway.

Royal Arcade. Nice work.

Sunlight on the hangy things.

My Christmas gift from R. A new fitted sheet, a flat sheet and two pillowcases. I am not fussed on the pillow cases. I like my coloured ones but the fitted sheet in proper black and is great, instead of off black that I bought cheaply. I gave him a kind of French hand knitting machine. It has disappeared and so maybe he is not so impressed. It was quite some work to find. I bought the machine at Riot, which does not sell the wool to use in it, so then I had to visit Lincraft. Lincraft in town is just great but I was astonished at the price of a ball of wool. Surely it's cheaper to buy a woollen garment than make one.