26 October, 2009

Well I’ll be buggered!

It’s been a bit of a drought for me lately.  Maybe that’s a tad of an understatement.  Then…
Let’s not call it a flood.  But the drought has broken.  And I have my iPhone and a particular app that Jimbo doesn’t appreciate- yet. Or at least in company.

And fair enough too.  It’s rude to be checking out who might be interested (usually not) a few miles away (alas, it measures distances by miles and feet), and with a few stats.  Like age, height, weight in lbs (whatever that is) and a nice pic.  Usually of the torso and occasionally various states of arousal of their equipment.  If one is really lucky, a picture will be of a head.  Nearly all are reversed as the user holds up their iPhone to a mirror.  Almost a kind of narcissism; tanned, super-buff torsos are the most common pic.

Anyway, the point is that Jimbo is right; if your with your mates, put your bloody thing away and furtively glance at the hotties that happen to be within eyesight, and practice your conversational skills.  Of course, as any tweeter knows, there are the right times and places for the box’o’magic to be whipped out so one can add to the feed.  It’s the new social etiquette.  Just make sure you know that everyone there knows it’s a tweet and you aren’t ignoring them.  Common sense, people!

Now that being said, and with this last weekend being an example of what hell would be like if it existed, I divided my time appropriately with my hosts — of whom it must be said were very, very kind — and with myself.  Since I didn’t think I had a snowball’s chance in a Pilbara Iron Ore mine, of either leaving, bumping into some fantabulous guy completely by random and being asked back for “some refreshment”, I thought I could occupy some time by fantasising about — let’s be honest — many of the guys on Jimbo’s least fav app.

However, the best plans of mice and men…  A “hi” here and a “g’day” there suddenly became promising.  Usually at the best of times I’m ignored.  But not this time, just to make life even more difficult as I had to be honest about the fact that I don’t have a place to accommodate any guest, let alone one that has a similar objective to me.

Fate, if she exists — and she would be a she — was mocking me. One chat became two.  Two became three.  Bloody hell, suddenly I AM DESIRABLE!  To make matters worse, it became time to return to my “normal” temporary home and still the offers came flooding in.  A case of it never rains but it pours.

Now, just to add further problems to my sudden desirability — and no I didn’t doctor my pic or lie about my height and so on, it’s all real except I don’t give out my name in the app — I don’t have a car; I prefer public transport despite a car being really convenient.  There was no way I was going to ask my house mate to borrow his as the situation is tense enough as it is.

So there I am — chatting to four guys.  All of them wanting the best bits of me.  Somehow I managed to tick P box off the list, late last night in fact.  So only three to go.  And I can’t wait. O is next on the list, and seems to be a very understanding, wonderful guy.  S is from interstate on a holiday and is awesome; I really don’t understand what he sees in me.  Finally is C.  Not as easy as it appears as C, although the most enthusiastic of all, is just starting out; experimenting I suppose at a later stage than most.

My “mantra” these days mainly is to make sure I don’t set myself up for a fall.  If it all falls flat on its arse that’s fine.  These things happen and all that.  Yet I must talk a bit about P.

P wasn’t sure, even though quite close by.  That’s understandable as chatting via text doesn’t give all the picture of a person.  And I didn’t mind if nothing happened; I was annoyed by the excuses though.  Not the “my mum’s coming home any minute now” kind of rubbish.  It was more the lack of pride or self esteem “I’m not good enough for you. You won’t like me if you see me” kind of excuses.  They are forgivable and human.  However I wasn’t going to let that bother me; P wasn’t going to be a conquest or there for pity sex.  Not at all.  My mindset is firm; I won’t do anything the other party doesn’t want.  No means no.

So I am glad that P gave me the green light.  It was wonderful.  He was wonderful.  My drought has been broken and P has given me so much self confidence; I may be broken but for real people that doesn’t matter.  Those that put down a little bio that they are this, that and the other, 6 foot 9 and 115 pounds with gym fit and very muscular body wanting same be warned: that is so transparent that it would be little wonder if others ignored you because being the Adonises you all are, you are unobtainable, or because you’re full of shit.  Alternatively someone may engage with you, chatting along and feeding you lies, leading you on.  That would be fun; I don’t seem to have the time.  At least P is a real person and wasn’t like 2 minute noodles.

Wish me luck with O, S and C!

23 October, 2009

I love a good parade.

I've been wooting it up lately.  By wooting it up I mean going into Northbridge and watching people having a good time.  Or joining up with some of the Perth Twitter élite; eating, drinking and being a-tweeting.  Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you may diet and all that stuff. #TapasPTUB at Harry’s Bar was a success, as was #ItsAllAboutThePieTUB (thanks @MrsMacs, @dragonflyspark & @freocookster for the #TexMex pies - scrumptious!) It’s fun having a lemon, lime & bitters while watching people get drunk.  Honestly.

Coming attractions - non-Twitter related - is the Pride “Homecoming” Parade; Perth’s biggest social event.  No, really.  More people watch the parade than the Christmas Pageant (take that, you breeders!)  Bigger than any equivalent Festival in the world, bar the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras.  So if you’re near Perth (a relative term), come and see the real thing come and see.  Saturday 31 October 2009.  20 years of solidarity for one night of freedom and one helluva party afterwards. Good luck getting tickets to the Party, Ladies and Gents and Inbetweeners.  But for everyone else, make sure you get in early along the route (that’s pronounced “root” here in Australia, for my American and Canadian friends) along William Street and James Street in Northbridge.

I myself will be attending a pre-march drinks party (Champers and GnT, or rather LLBs for me) before wandering across to watch the wonder that is the Dykes on Bikes and the Perth Marching Boys doing their stuff.

In other news: spring has sprung.  We had a corker of a few days maxing out near 40°C (104°F for those that are Metric challenged).  The natives are in full bloom and there is a danger that manufacturers of tissue paper will make huge profits as they drive the price of their prissy boxes up to cater for the sudden load of hay fever and the subsequent flying snot.  Not being a hay fever person, it amuses me to see such a preponderance of proboscises snorting and sneezing their way through the day, it makes me glad of three things.  That I don’t have hay fever, I’m immunised against Influenza A Pandemic H1N1, and it won’t be long before the long, hot days and insanely hot nights are here.  Well, hopefully none of the latter as the Freo Doctor should sort that out.  And with that means by day the beach, and by night the beer garden of some pub - with a tasty lemon, lime and bitters - watching my mates turn into a drunken mess.  Oh the fun times of being a tee-totaler.

Speaking of fun times, I thoroughly recommend couch-surfing.  Honestly.  It means I get to pay for not being homeless for the time being.  But don’t worry, as soon as I find a suitable home, I’ll be grabbing it with both hands and making it mine.  That could be some time as the Western Australian economy is popping champagne corks again and speculators run amok in the stock exchange buying up anything that can be dug up, pumped, sucked, compressed or distilled and sent in ships bigger than an intact “Exxon Valdez” to China.  It’s good in a way; the Aussie Dollar is at record highs, almost at parity with the US dollar, and making every Aussie’s dream of a cheap flight to Bali a reality.  The bad news is that anything that is exported, due the the crap value of the US Dollar, doesn’t make the books look that amazing.  What arse-head decided that contracts for exports should be decided in US Dollars?  Why should we negotiate in a nation’s currency when that nation has become a byword for sub-prime?  Maybe we should do what the Chinese government has been doing for ages - devalue the currency, but in our favour!  What a fiendishly fabulous plan.  We would have to put off the next plan to fly to Bali to buy cheap, pirated DVDs.  However in these uncertain economic times we need to tighten our belts *cough-bullshit*.  Sorry, hay fever.

The good news is my footy membership renewal pack arrived yesterday.  The really, really good news is that I have a chance to win a holiday in Mauritius before it disappears under the globally warmed Indian Ocean.  Global warming caused mainly from all that stuff that’s been dug up, pumped, sucked, compressed or distilled being converted into  trillions of tonnes of carbon dioxide gas.  Still it’s good to know that I have a chance to visit the place, speak some creole of French and English, and leave with a few good memories and photos so that I can tell the children of the “whatever” generation I have proof the place existed.  On second thoughts, that’s just wrong.  The “whatever” generation have become so lazy “whatever” is now simply a “meh”, if one is lucky to get anything at all.

20 October, 2009

As the sun sets on the Empire, the Empire wants to strike back.

After yesterday, (Monday, Australian time), the Battle-lines were drawn up between Murdoch (NewsLtd/NewsCorp, News.com.au) and Taxpayer funded independent Public Broadcasters (the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the British Broadcasting Corporation).
(Watch/read “End of the Free Ride.)

MediaWatch recently celebrated its 20th birthday - the report that reporters dread for it is without fear or favour, and never afraid to bite the hand that feeds it (the ABC).  Always controversial, insightful and with humour when required, reporting on the industry of (Australian) journalism.
One highlight of the 20 years of MediaWatch was a political episode of what became known as the  “Cash for Comments” scandal; radio jocks being paid by big corporations to comment favourably about them or their industries, without telling their listeners about any comment being an advertorial.  Strident critics had become fervent admirers.
The political and industrial fallout was nuclear: without MediaWatch, I doubt anyone would know the murky, grimy, greasy-palmed world in which journalism operates, and why nations like the United Kingdom and Australia need a publicly funded independent news source that is globally respected for its impartiality.
Murdoch may want the BBC and ABC to stick to radio and television, but in this brave new world of free news content, it’s important that the BBC and ABC at least match what NewsLtd/NewsCorp can do online, and provide it for free.  After all, in Australia the ABC’s tagline has been for 2 decades “It’s YOUR ABC.”

14 October, 2009

I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley!

Surely you can't be serious…
The Australian Labor Party in Western Australia is becoming both a joke and on the nose.  It lost the unlosable election; a young, charismatic Premier at the height of his powers in the middle of a mining and industrial boom, with hand-picked high profile local celebrities verses a tired old conservative deposed leader with a team of conservative players that really didn't like their “captain” much.
Worse, the conservatives had a proven formula of losing elections; Colin Barnett had demonstrated this before.

But Carpenter, or “Carps” as the local rag like to call him, made two horrendous mistakes.  Firstly he allowed his “team” to talk to disgraced former Premier and criminal Brian Burke, and then after fixing that blunder called an early election.
If there is one thing people hate more than compulsory voting, it’s having to endure an election campaign before the government’s term is due.  And Labor lost, after a coalition of independents, Nationals and the Liberals formed.
But one could be forgiven if Labor learned any lessons.  For example, prior to the election, Labor wanted to reform shopping hours.  Instead of businesses being forced to close their doors at 5pm in most cases, Labor was committed to deregulation of shopping hours.
That was in the good ol’ days before the glitch in credit costs to banks.
Now in opposition, Labor have made themselves as popular as roast pork in a synagog by using the childish argument ‘you didn’t help us push reform through, so we’ll block yours ,nah, nah, nah, nah’ and using silly words like ‘mandate’ and ‘community standards.’  Um, Labor, you lost the election, and you say you have a mandate?
Even when the Premier offers a compromise, the leader of the opposition — and of Labor — the silly old school teacher Eric Ripper comes back with a haggling nightmare of “well, you can extend trading hours by one more hour, if you agree to our terms.”
Eric Ripper, excitement machine, dynamic powerhouse, completely un-gormless non-twit.

Now I don’t want to end on a sour note, so I admit I’m not a Hawthorn fan.  However, Jordan Lewis could make me turn — if only he kicked for the other “team!"

08 October, 2009

Science and scientists aren’t trusted anymore

Science and scientists aren’t trusted much anymore. Nor are doctors or most professions which have to deal with science — except technology.  I'll get back to that.
I don't blame those that think what their GP says is a load of crap.  Or that a public think that a bunch of be-goggled, white lab coated boffins have to say on this, that or the other.  Or they'd rather get there informed opinion from a naturopath, psychic, astrologer or fraudster.  I don't blame them one little bit.
How did this yawning schismatic chasm of trust come about?
In a time before mine, whatever a man in a white coat said was true.  How could it be not, he’s wearing a white coat.

A Nazi Officer, Adolf Eichmann, said in his defence that he simply took orders.  “Why me?  Why not the local policemen, thousands of them?  They would have been shot if they refused…”
This prompted Stanley Milgram’s (in)famous 1961-1962 experiments, and 1963 paper “Behaviorial study of obedience.”  (Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, Vol. 67.)  Simply put, a very high percentage of people will do as they are told, despite seeing the results of what they are doing, when told by a person in authority.
Prior to this revelation, our societies believed in science.  Science had won the war, and now chemists were making stuff that killed bugs more efficiently and helped crops grow in impoverished soils.  More importantly in the US and Western Europe, science was in a struggle to win the Cold War.

By the time 1970s came along. Environmental Science was becoming respectable, and not some crazy hotchpotch of ideas.  Various chemicals that companies said were safe were, in fact, toxic — if not carcinogenic — to humans.  Names like organochlorines and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were the catchwords of unexplained tumours, animal deformities and deaths, and all-round general nastiness.
Big companies that were trusted brand names were now the enemy.
I don’t blame anyone for being even a little hysterical after finding out a chemical company knew that something it produced caused cancers or, worse, deaths.
What a bunch of irresponsible scientists!
Medical science seemed to be no different.  General Practitioners treated patients with indifference.  Often whatever was wrong with little Johnny was put down to a virus.  It didn’t matter what virus.  But these new-fangled antibiotics will help (which for viruses, of course, they don’t).
And like the subjects of Miligram’s experiments — doctors wore white lab coats after all — people were content with whatever diagnosis the doctor gave, and the prescription.  Besides, doctors were good people; they wanted to help humanity.
Yet as medical science progressed, General Practitioners didn’t, or wouldn’t. Residents were too busy and Consultants too set in their ways, or too busy teaching.  This didn’t apply to every practicing doctor, of course, but you get the idea.
By the mid 1960s, the younger generations were watching or reading about their Rock & Roll heros visiting mystics, gurus or other eastern teachers.  It seemed logical that western medicine was failing, while eastern medicine seemed to be more natural and had a history of thousands of years.
More “westerners” started putting their trust in eastern or alternative practices (even if some of these practices could be debunked very easily, or were nothing more than scams by unethical, greedy persons).  It just seemed more logical that if traditional Western Medicine couldn’t cure cancer, then anything that claimed to be natural and claimed cured cancer, then we’ve been fed lies by these people in the white coats and should do what the naturopath or homeopathist or herbalist or chiropractor says.  After all, it’s natural, right?  And natural must be better than something synthesised in a lab by someone in a white coat.
Well, no.
Whether it’s about a chemical that kills flies, or a pharmaceutical drug that stops epileptic seizures, it all comes from the same foundation of science; it’s not about proving something, it’s about trying to disprove it by controlled, precise experimentation. Any experiment must be repeatable — like a recipe — by other experimenters. Results must be tested and tested, and tested from all angles.  Other scientists must be free to debate it.
We lay peoples may not understand the jargon or the terminology.  But do we understand the jargon used by alternative medicine practitioners?
We don’t have to know how an iPod works in order to use it.  Or how solar cells and Albert Einstein are related.  We don’t need to know how the internet works to use it.  Or how Google searches the web, and so on.

Yet there isn’t a mass counter-culture against technologists.  Those goofy boffins that come up with really cute robots, or a better way to navigate in the car.  Even just a better way to communicate full stop.  The only difference between a medical researcher and a research engineer is the cuteness factor.  Research engineers don’t hurt anybody, they’re trying to make life more sustainable for humankind.
Well, not really.
Technology is neutral — until it’s utilised.  We all want ‘good’ technology but not ‘bad’ technology.  But the same technology that lets you navigate using your mobile phone (or cell phone) is the same technology that was designed for warfare.  The technology that has you gasping in awe at the brightly lit skies from fireworks is the same technology of ancient warfare; refined it’s the technology of today’s weapons designed to kill.  The technology that lets you cram thousands of songs onto your MP3 device is the same technology that governments and militaries around the world use to send secret messages; usually not pleasant ones.
So does that mean we should throw out our iPods, mobile phones, TVs, computers and stop this technical nightmare we are in?  No.  Just because a safety pin was invented by the same person that invented the semi-automatic rifle doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have babies; that’s absurd.
Today more chemicals are tested more rigorously than ever.  Over longer time-spans, and the ecological effects are a priority rather than a side-effect.
Medical researches have better understandings and better tools than ever before.  They aren’t blindly searching using the hit-or-miss techniques of the 1800s.  No, they are like a good detective following a lead.
General Practitioners, Residents, Specialists even Consultants wear more relaxed clothing.  They are better at communicating, better at diagnosing, and are constantly updating their skills as more understanding of a problem comes to hand.
As the last of the Nobel Prize functions come to a close, it’s wise to take another look at science with an open mind — after all, that’s what scientists do when they look at our world.

05 October, 2009

Jack Evan’s Funeral

I don’t like funerals.  But they have a purpose, if not sombre or morbid, to let the family know that we that are left remember them, and are there for comfort.
The funeral will be held Tuesday 13th October at Pinnaroo Valley Memorial Park.

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04 October, 2009

Vale, Jack Evans.

Sadly, a friend and mentor, Jack Evans, died in his Waneroo home on Friday, aged 80.
I will miss him.  Much Sympathy is extended to his family and friends.
You can read Andrew Bartletts’s obituary to find more about Jack and his achievements on the Australian political scene.

Swine flu and vaccination debates.

Nothing makes me more angry than deliberate ignorance.  If someone doesn't understand, it’s natural to ask questions.  Not asking questions is the road to ruin.
A group that calls itself the Australian Vaccination Network doesn’t ask questions, they don’t trust evidence based science.  The AVN should be called the Australian Anti-Vaccination Network.  The AVN mouthpiece believes her own children had whooping cough, but didn't suffer. One of her children, she claims, was cured using a homeopathic vaccination.
Excuse me?  Homeopathic vaccination?  A dose of water on a bit of sugar is vaccination?
Whether it's an unnecessary death due to pertussis (whooping cough) or an agonising death due to homeopathic treatment of eczema by parents “who should have known better,” let there be no doubt that now the Influenza A (H1N1) vaccine is available (to Australians at least) especially health workers, the young, old and vulnerable; I’m getting my 1st shot this coming Friday.
If someone of the AVN ilk has a question, then they should consult an epidemiologist, or at least a GP.  Well researched, peer reviewed articles also have a place; Vaccines and autism: a tale of shifting hypothesis.  Not some bunch of scare mongers’ or conspiracy theorists’ web pages and blogs.
As one tweeter put it, “My view: the argument, no vacs in case of side effects, is like saying no seat belt ever for fear of drowning trapped in car underwater.”  Well said, @DrMobs.

Living with the Ex. Why?

So it’s over.  Move on!  Well, sometimes it's not that easy.  Take me (please).  I'm a nice guy — no, I'm a lovely guy, yet after 3 years of happy togetherness, it all fell apart. (I can hear the “awws.”)
Problem is I have no where to go.  The rabid mining boom in Western Australia had left not only a housing shortage, but a rental market squeezed harder than a US bank.  Then, just as we thought the bubble had burst and the world was heading for economic ruin, things actually improved.  Affordable accommodation pretty well meant buying a cardboard box.  And it hasn't improved since — the boom didn't pop — it merely took a breather.
So here I am, part renting a room from my ex, part couch surfing and part house sitting.

$700 million well spent.

It's not very often politicians from all sides of the political spectrum share a small tent with standing room only and have more ribbon cutting scissors than there are spectators, but the completion of the Kwinana Freeway extension and Forrest Highway was an exception.  Now commuters from Mandurah or even Bunbury can do so on without the lights slowing them down.  Money well spent, since the commuter trains from Mandurah or Bunbury are faster and probably cheaper than driving a car.  Perhaps the $700 million could have been spent on, I don't know, housing?  Hospitals?  Schools?  Vaccinations?  Just a thought.
Mind you, the sojourn to Bunbury during the week was not only wonderful, it was a stress free time for the driver (even if she did find it too easy to speed!)

Gay, but not out (and about).

I don’t own a car.  Don’t have a real need for one.  Perth’s public transport system — despite it’s detractors — is better than any city in Australia, including Melbourne.  The trains don’t need special operators to get disabled passengers on and off at stations, and nearly all the buses are ACROD rated so again any disabled person can light and alight with ease.
With a station a 10 minute walk away (or the next at 20 minutes, and twice as many trains), there is no excuse not to use public transport.  Planing is easy on Transperth.  I can look up timetable information from my iPhone when out and about.  The real question is “why am I not getting out and about with my fellow movers and shakers?”  Well, one answer could be that when I want to go to The Court, my ex has arranged to meet a date there.  That would be awkward.  “But wait, there are other gay or gay friendly pubs, clubs and bars” protesteth you.  Yes, it’s true — gay friendly pubs are everywhere in the ’burbs.  Though I’m protesting back; I don’t mind taking public transport to where-ever someone wants to meet up, but please do me the courtesy and not assume I’ll take a taxi for your convenience.  Besides, I need to save up some money.  The rental costs for we semi-homeless is ridiculously high.

Health-care, or: why I just don’t understand.

I’ve grown up in a society of universal healthcare.  Hell, it’s more than that, it’s a system of welfare.  A safety net.  If you are part of the “working poor,” or unemployed, or disabled, or retired and pensioned, the Government – that is taxpayers — pick up the tab; for hospitalisation, for surgery and for most medications, and so on.  Nearly every reasonable Australian thinks it’s fair.  In fact, the welfare system goes beyond the low income earners.  Even middle-high income earners can receive benefits for their children.  The more children a family has, the higher the benefit for each successive child.  Until recently we even had a “baby bonus,” a once off payment for parents for each child to overcome the “greying” of society.  That is when these bubs become working citizens, their taxes are helping to pay for their parents pension.
It’s not only an Australian phenomenon; many other countries are “welfare states.” Canada, New Zealand, most European Union Nations like the United Kingdom, France, Germany.
But I don’t understand why some Americans would oppose a universal health care system.  What’s the problem?  Has the American health insurance industry (Australia’s health insurance industry is subsidised and heavily regulated) wormed its way into the ears of Congressmen and Senators and told them that such welfare and safety nets are intrinsically evil?  That the reason for the Holocaust is because Hitler wanted health reform?  That any health reform is a form of socialism and as such is incompatible with democracy?
For the record, last time I checked Australia, Canada, France, New Zealand the UK, etc., were all healthy, robust democracies.  Australia even managed to avoid the dreaded recession, and posted surpluses in the Current Account and Trade Account.  Our only problem is the tumbling value of the USD$, Euro€ and UK£ with a rising Australian AUD$.  That and the federal parliament gearing up for a democratic election.
So please, anyone, tell me what the problem with these “You lie!” health reform deniers is all about?