All posts by Cartledge

Sanctioned murder rules

When an inmate is murdered in a high security prison questions are bound to be asked. Until yesterday Carl Williams was the most notorious inmate in the Victorian (Australia) prison system. (Killed by a trusted inmate)

He was housed with two other prisoners, who he was apparently comfortable with and subject to 24 hour surveillance – cctv, a guard present, shackles outside the immediate cell area.

None of that stopped one of his mates there smashing him over the skull with part of an exercise bike, all caught on camera. The question is not who murdered Williams but how it can occur in such a secure environment.

William’s lawyer is the only one saying what others are thinking; he wants a full independent enquiry. He spoke to Williams the morning of the murder, about a tabloid front page claim of police paying his daughter’s school fees.

Few actually grieve Williams, apart from TV producers perhaps, but that revelation might have given a motive, as is suggested, that Williams was killed for being a dog (informer). Regardless of potential motives the fact that it happened in a high security facility, with a guard only metres away, still raises questions of prison and police integrity.

I, for one, still delight in the blatant openness of Aussie corruption. The truth, on past experience, will never be known and public perception of the country’s innate corruption will increase marginally. Oh, and we should see another Tele-drama too.

A flight of fancy

Australia launched a new set of postage stamps last week, one of them featuring the rural fly spot I now regard as home. I’ve no idea of the actual population of Mia Mia, or neighbouring Redesdale in Victoria. The census lumps them together and they still don’t reach the base reporting number of 300 souls. But fascinating souls if the district can warrant a postage stamp.

The stamp set celebrates a century of flight in Australia, and in 1910 the local Duigan Brothers flew the first plane designed and built in this country. Harry Houdini actually beat them in the first flight stakes, but in a plane he brought here from France. He also left it here, having had his fill of barnstorming.

So one hundred years on another aviation story nocked the history right out of the headlines – THE massive Joint Strike Fighter project is going to be delayed and cost more, the US Deputy Secretary of Defence Bill Lynn says. The relevance is that Australia plans eventually to purchase 100 of the fifth-generation stealth warplanes at a cost of about $16 billion.

With healthcare also on the agenda in Australia and the USA the cost for these toys raises to an estimated $US112 per unit some interesting questions arise. For a start, if it is suggested our countries can afford hundreds of these obscene machines of destruction why is it so difficult to contemplate provision of effective universal health care?

These unrelated concepts tend to coalesce in a mind almost devoid of human engagement, with sheep, kangaroos and cockatoos sort of un-numbering people here by a wide margin. Perhaps the policy makers know something beyond my understanding.

The questions still need asking

Before I head off back to the splendid isolation of my rural retreat, which lacks power and other amenities like internet, a quick reflection on issues arising in the past week or so. Well perhaps this can be summarized with headline and sub-head which caught my attention: Who else but Fox News would have Sarah Palin? Palin fits in totally at Fox – standing up for ignorance and stupidity.

The late Sir Keith Murdoch was widely regarded as a ‘scholar and a gentleman’ in Australia. An unofficial sobriquet to be sure, but the highest accolade one Aussie can give to another. Sure he ended up owning newspapers, the springboard for the loathsome Rupert, but Keith cared about journalism and about those in the industry. He helped establish the AJA, the journos union here.

Now second question here is: How did Rupert catapult a minor region media property into a global enterprise? Oh, and a third: Why did Rupert start talking about charging online access fees after the demise of his political benefactors?

Rupert accepted his inheritance with great pleasure and sought to make his name immediately with the launch of ‘The Australian’ newspaper. Rupert soon joined forces with transport magnate, Peter Abeles; allegedly shipping illicit drugs around the word. Possibly complicit in this was Bush Sen., Cheney and that toad Richard Armitage.

Back to media; Rupert quickly found a home in the USA, dumping his Australian passport for a more profitable one. As a compliant minion of the American political establishment Rupert had it made, so long as they lasted and he followed order. Presumably embracing (a horrid thought) Palin Rupert sees the potential to stay in the loop.

The point is, Murdoch is not committed to journalism, rather he is committed to his on vision of power. Now we have some national leaders with IQs bigger than their shoe sizes one would hope that is a false hope for Rupe. On the other hand, IQ is no real indicator of potential. It is up to the people to keep badgering and asking.

Come the revolution

Amigo Kvatch and friends were lamenting during the week (Blogs Against Kleptocracy – Game Over ) another blow to a dubious democracy by the US Supreme Court. At the same time a desperate Aussie farmer was 30 ft up a wind monitoring mast on his property in the high country south of Canberra, on a hunger strike. He is protesting new laws which forbid him to clear native vegetation.

The link with these stories is the assumption that systems of government and law were established with most of us mind. A public protest to Federal Parliament began in Canberra’s “Magna Carta Park” in the firm belief that that historical document enshrined some sort of rights to the people.

When King John conceded rights to the ‘people’ that group consisted of a well defined group of powerful male land owners. The majority in England at that time were merely regarded as a rabble of undeserving serfs. Only a change in language use, a more inclusive approach gave the impression it means us.

Equally the American founding fathers were sparing, even nervous, about giving any real power to the rabble. You still are not trusted to ‘elect’ a president, and historically the entrepreneurial class has, by default if not law, been given precedence over the people. The only real wonder is that the people have, Ragebot aside, willingly accepted this travesty of democracy.

My real fear is that Corporate Kleptocracy; the American model, is a creeping pandemic. I feel a Julius Caesar moment approaching where any semblance of rights we do have will be taken away. All for our own good mind.

Aussies are a feisty lot and will continue to fight it, but with countless competing agendas a cohesive counter attack is highly unlikely. And still I sigh wistfully: Come the revolution…

Let us celebrate a win for the extreme right

Okay, it is only Australia, but I am excited to see an extreme candidate take leadership of the countries major opposition party, the Liberals. The issue splitting this fractured party even further is climate change legislation.

The hapless merchant banker cum leader, Malcolm Turnbull, crafted a great watered down version of a watery approach to carbon emissions, but his party has now dumped him in favour of a hard line climate change opponent; well he doesn’t accept the science it seems.

I am thrilled to see Tony Abbot become opposition leader. His fierce conservative (bugger, we need some new adjectives here because he’s a bloody right wing radical) approach will finally out the self serving bastards who call themselves Liberals.

So we Aussies, already suffering the effects of climate change with floods, fire, drought and the rest are probably going to see a new election capitalising on the stupidity of these representatives. It will be a double dissolution of parliament, which means every position, lower house and senate, will be up for grabs.

Personally I’d rather see some effective emission controls in effect, but perhaps a new, clean house might include more greens. The big issue is that most Aussies don’t like the new opposition leader and are actually concerned to see effective environmental initiatives. Onya Liberals! But the Greens had better get working.

Below the belt above the 49th

When Canada spends less on renewable energy than the State of Alaska, it means Stephen Harper isn’t just behind Barack Obama on clean energy – he’s behind Sarah Palin.

Ouch! That comment comes from a dinky die Russian count with an unpronounceable name and an eye on Canada’s Prime Ministership. Michael Ignatieff’s Liberals are lagging in the polls and desperate make up ground. Not so much about latitude as attitude.

PM Harper, like all good conservatives, has a genetically programmed blindness to the evidence of global climate change; can he help what he is? Still, suggesting he is behind Palin might be construed as a compliment; by Harper and many Canadians.

Iggy has been a far easier target for Harper, having to defend spending most of his adult, academic life in the USA and Britain; and horror of horrors, speaks French with a Parisian accent rather than good old back street Montreal patois.

Frustration is the lot of opposition parties and leaders mid-cycle, and Canada is mid-cycle, even if out of step. While other countries are moving to progressive Canada and my Aussie neighbour New Zealand are firmly conservative. I wonder if there is a lesson to be drawn from that dynamic?

IP blocking an ancient art

Recent discoveries have revealed that IP(indigenous pictograph) technology filtering technology might have been an issue as long as 60,000 years ago. The original developers of rock based communications in Australia, Gwion Gwion, developed a durable archive; albeit without effective date stamping and certainly with no anticipation of BCE – CE.

From Gwion Gwion

There are more than 10,000 of these sites in Northern Australia, showing the potential of rocks as long term storage devices. This is despite constant attempts over eons to overwrite the original servers. Miraculously these gorgeous old girls survived intact in the face of successive moves to censor them.

Of course the Gwion Gwion platform has survived time and space and is generally referred to now as graffiti. The miracle, beyond mere survival, is survival in the face of constant attempts to eradicate it. Rocks, walls and other surfaces might be slow communication modes, but perhaps not that much slower than Aussie broadband.

These archives have survived countless tens of thousands of years, but are now under threat from malicious ‘wetware’ known as VANDALS v2009+. You can find pictures of one of these vulnerable ‘rock servers’ and some of the graphics they store HERE.

The junk that makes us human

According to New Scientist researchers have found Three human genes evolved from junk, bits unique to we humans. These were found in non-coding stretches of DNA targeted as genetic junk. At the time of going to press there was no real indication of what the three new genes, called CLLU1, C22orf45 and DNAH10OS actually did.

Surprising new research has turned up the clue, the raison d’etre, for these curious little bits of genetic material. The breakthrough occurred when researchers looked at the differences between humans and chimps, gorillas, gibbons and macaques, particularly behaviour.

The first clue came from a scientist waiting in the lunch line-up at his local drive through; it was sort of a bored ‘eureka’ moment. As he gazed about him he noted that while a few of the other customers were suspect none could actually be classed as a non-human primate. In fact he recognised the potential insult in comparing his company to the glorious great apes.

When he arrived back at the lab car park a fellow researcher had his head under the hood of an old Plymouth, shouting insults, including; ‘what sort of life form would tolerate junk like this in their daily existence?’ I expect that was more like a ‘bingo!’ moment. They quickly got together in the lab and matched the discovery to the strange gene forms.

The whole lab is currently in uproar following the junk theme – junk food, junk cars… “What about the junk in everyone’s attic?” was one suggestion. “that would be feeble ideas in our attics…” was the riposte. As one suggestion has it, no primate would seriously consider Sarah Palin in any leadership role.

Cross words for the print media

So Rupert Murdoch’s media empire is bleeding money and he’s had to take a pay cut – a bloody big pay cut. So what does he do? He wants to charge for his online ‘news’, which is usually anything but news.

Not my serious Aussie media crew here; when Mudoch left here and became a Yank Fairfax won the crown. Well Fairfax were talking about charging for big ticket news, the expensive deep stuff few of us read anyway.

Fairfax has now cut right to the quick and simply stopped their daily online cryptic crossword!!! Damn their eyes! They say, if you want it daily buy the paper! Fair crack of the whip, much as I love solving a cryptic I won’t buy a fish wrapper to get to it.

Now I guess my rage is a little cryptic for North Americans who don’t value the mind teasing cryptic crossword, but it sure as hell means war here in Australia. I still think – (1 across 4 letters) It’s shitty when a high note leads modern music genre. Answer – CRAP!

Another study into urban transport

Recent transport economic figures in Australia provide a horrifying view were mass transit falls short of delivering any real solutions. It is instructive to note that the greater LA area has a higher population than the whole Australian continent.

“traffic congestion is costing the Australian economy $12.8 billion a year and, without urgent action, will hit $30 billion a year in 2015.” Paralysed in commuter gridlock

Sydney ranges close to 4 million population, with many residents forced, by cost, to live beyond the transport infrastructure. “Sydney congestion this year at $4.58 billion – $12.5 million a day – and forecasts that will increase to $7.76 billion by 2020, or $21 million a day.” (IBID)

According to Sydney’s Lord Mayor, Clover Moore:
”The No. 1 infrastructure issue for Sydney is the need for new public transport and this has to be the priority for both state and national governments.
”What’s needed in Sydney is a massive expansion, particularly the suburban railway network and a high-capacity light rail system in the inner-city areas where congestion makes buses completely inadequate to the task of moving large volumes of passengers efficiently.”

Kvatch put the issue into perspective: Mass transit everywhere isn’t just AN alternative. It’s the ONLY alternative.