Aussie Treasurer vs. QLD Health

Scott Morrison was doing a presser at a local Queensland Health-run hospital to sell his budget. As always he was looking for something to beat QH with to show how badly run and loss making things were in Labor-run health systems.

While ScoMo was checking the books he turned to the executive of the hospital and said I notice you buy a lot of bandages. What do you do with the middle of the roll?””Good question” noted the executive. “We save them up and send them back to the bandage company and every once in a while they send us a free roll. We recycle whenever possible.”

 

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gov.au Enters The Digital Age – not!

Most of you know I work in the Information Security area. You probably also know I am passionate about Australia. However, this post is not about the technical ineffectiveness of the technologies that have been proposed (which I will write later). This is more about the method in which the Australian Government is pursuing the implementation of those ineffective technologies. Yet another example of Australia – The Nanny State (funnily enough, which is the complete opposite of the culture of the Australian People).

For those of you who don’t know (and, given the lack of reporting in the mainstream media about the subject, I wouldn’t be suprised), the Australian Government is currently undergoing trials to enforce filtering of “illegal and objectionable material” at the Australian ISP level. What does this mean in practice? They want to filter your internet access using methods that just don’t work, just like the governments of China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and many others do – but without the people to validate what is being filtered properly.

Remember, this is the same population of civil “servents” that has made it illegal for you, the Australian citizen, to purchase fireworks without having to physically travel to Canberra. Which, of course, is punishment in itself.

The policy will be enforced by two levels of blacklists – one of which is mandatory for all internet connections, the other is an “opt out” for those who need their fix of “restricted’ online porn, up to R18 level. However, even the Government’s own trials have shown a shockingly high false-positive rate, which means that the filters have incorrectly filtered innocent information even using the deep-packet-inspection technology that is quite advanced compared to the URL-and-IP-address-blocking that you are used to when trying to get to Facebook from your work desk (and you already know how to get around that, don’t you?)

ACMA have not detailed the governence around this “solution”. And where does it stop? What will stop Big Media (the Music and Movie industries) from lobbying – hard – to block all technologies used to distribute files online, because they *might* be used to distribute Rhianna’s latest album? (Hint: get the videos instead, she is gorgeous).  What else will they add? Any websites or people critical of Government policies, similar to the Freedom Fries debacle of the US Government when France refused, correctly I might add, to support the invasion of Iraq based upon failed intelligence about WMDs? Given the Australian Government’s useless performance at yesterdays climate change talks, I wouldn’t be suprised that most environmental groups suddenly have their websites filtered due to lobbying by the Resources sector.

I tried to make an argument on the government’s consultation blog about this, but must admit I got into one of my infamous rants that also included Telstra’s ablility to slow down the information economy. But I was also happy to see that many other Australians have found the blog and submitted similar messages. Many more have also signed petitions and will be attending protests in each Australian Capital tomorrow (Saturday).

Prime Minister Rudd, I voted for you because I thought you would bring much-needed change to Australia. The Apology, and signing Kyoto were very good starts. But your Government’s recent actions – the lack of them in particular with regards to Climate Change, the lack of action against the Japanese slaughter of whales in Australian oceans, and of course the Great Australian Firewall – is starting to make me think that the other lot wern’t so bad after all. It is true that Australians do NOT have any freedom of speech protections – something I think you should fix and protect our freedoms just like every other democracy. As a fellow Queenslander I don’t want to stop supporting you, but you are making that a difficult position to maintain.

BTW – With regards to the Child Porn issue. I do not condone this. I would happily work with the Australian Government (contact me) on addressing this issue. My personal view is to set up a dedicated unit in the AFP (or similar) tackling this issue, to monitor, gather evidence, capture and prosecute each and every single cretin who is involved with this. I alledge (got that lawyers, I alledge – I don’t have proof!) you guys already have the technologies to do this, and in fact are already doing this, (example here), for National Security interests. Why not leverage the same technologies, resources and do something similar in the non-classified environment?

Back to the Child Pornogrophers … once these bastards are found guilty in a court of law, based upon the evidence collected asbove, I propose they are castrated – without anasthetic any medical support – using blunt, rusted, metal knives and left to rot in a cell. That is the minimum punishment that these sick bastards deserve. Lets stop this problem at the source.

US Elections: What if WE could vote?

Today Americans go to the polls to vote in a new president.

Now it is a completely fair call to hear comments from Americans such as Who cares? Its our president we’re voting for, not yours. However, for better or for worse, the United States pretty much the only superpower left since the end of the Cold War.

By basically ignoring the will of the United Nations (who unfortunately are good at talking, but not at action), the USA pretty much sets the agenda for the world. For whatever reason, we all suffer when the US decides to set that agenda -whether its illegal wars in the Middle East, or dodgy economic practices and fraudulent activites in the financial sector, or blatantly ignoring the issues of global warming and the destruction of the natural environment; we all collectively have to suffer for the actions of their elected government. America sneezes, the rest of the world catches the ‘flu.

So … three Icelandic guys came up with a thought experiement. Today anyone can vote at iftheworldcouldvote.com. And it is very interesting the results so far. Wether this is a result of media portrayal (unlikely – given most global media outlets are not biased like the US ones are) or by a global disenchantment with the US Administration (which reflects on peoples views about the US in general), i don’t know. But as of the time of writing, and evene acknowledging that the result isn’t totally scientific, 97% of the world wants Obama to be the next president. Time for change.

I believe the world should wake up. The past eight years of a single country’s administration ignoring world opinion on a variety of issues and taking unilateral action. The United Nations needs to get more teeth, or at least another superpower to provide a balance. China in particular could become that superpower, but I personally don’t agree with the communist ideals. Russia seems to be going backwards into the cold war scenario under its current leadership (even if he is no longer the president).

I believe that if Europe could get its act together, stop the internal bickering, put the past in the past (the UK and France are the guilty parties here – move on!) and speak with a common voice, it would be the ideal counterbalance to keep the US in check. And hopefully, we don’t have to suffer the past eight years of agony again.

A Message from HRH Queen Elizabeth II

A few of my Pommie friends have whinged about some of my recent posts have involved highlighting how Australia is fantastic, or how England sucks. Which, I guess, is a fair call. So as a public service announcement I’ll relay the following announcement from the Queen of the United Kingdom.

To the citizens of the United States of America from Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth  II

In light of your total failure in recent years to nominate anywhere near competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately.

(Note to G. W. Bush : It is OK for you to look up ‘revocation’ in the Oxford English Dictionary if you have one. Whatever you do, please don’t try and ‘ad lib’ what you think this word might mean. It’s just too painful for everyone involved.)

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Kansas, which she does not fancy).

Your new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections.

Congress and the Senate will be disbanded.  A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. The letter ‘U’ will be reinstated in words such as ‘colour,’ ‘favour,’ ‘labour’ and ‘neighbour.’  Likewise, you will learn to spell ‘doughnut’ without skipping half the letters,  and the suffix ‘-ize’ will be replaced by the suffix ‘-ise.’  Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels.  (look up ‘vocabulary’).

2. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as ”like’ and ‘you know’ is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as US English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf.  The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter ‘u” and the elimination of  ‘-ize.’

3. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.

4. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists.  The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you’re not quite ready to be independent.  Guns should only be used for shooting grouse.  If you can’t sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you’re not ready to shoot grouse.

5. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler.  Although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

6. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side with immediate effect.  At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables.   Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

7. The former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon.  Get used to it.

8. You will learn to make real chips.  Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps.  Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.

9. The cold, tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all.  Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of  known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager.  Australian beer is also acceptable, as they are pound for pound the greatest sporting nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer.  They are also part of the British Commonwealth – see what it did for them.  American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat’s Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.

10. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys.  Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters.  Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialogue in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one’s ears removed  with a cheese grater.

11. You will cease playing American football.  There is only one kind of proper football; you call it soccer.  Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies).

12. Further, you will stop playing baseball.  It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America.  Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable.  You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the Australians first to take the sting out of their deliveries.

13. You must tell us who killed JFK.  It’s been driving us mad.

14. An internal revenue agent (ie. tax collector) from Her Majesty’s Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).

15. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 pm with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; plus strawberries (with cream)  when in season.

God Save the Queen!

PS:  Only share this with friends who have a good sense of humour (NOT humor)!

Guys, Listen To This CD: Cry Stolen

Guys, you just have got to listen to this CD. Cry Stolen has been recently released by the Kimberley Stolen Generation Aboriginal Corporation and showcases tunes that describe the pain and suffering that the local aboriginals in the Kimberley region went through during the Stolen Generation era.

I’ve just listened to this and am filled with regret and remorse, even though I personally have nothing to do with what happened. Lets hope Kevin does the right thing and apologises for this terrible era and suffering inflicted upon the real, native, inhabitents of Australia.

Opinion: Daylight Savings Time in SE Queensland

The issue of Daylight Savings Time for South-East Queensland has continually dogged the State Government and local pollies, including the new premier, Anna Bligh.

It is a very controversial topic. Indeed having lived in South East Queensland for a couple of years now, I know how much of a pain it is to get woken up by the strong sun at 5.30am and for it to be night again by 6pm. And, given our physical location of just above the 30 degree latitude, these times remain approximately the same throughout the year.

The pro-DST lobby, on the other hand, cite the cost to local businesses for not being “in sync” with businesses and government in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra; the personal cost to people who have to go to work meetings in those cities when they observe DST (i.e. they have to take the 5am flight out of Brisbane instead of the 6am flight to arrive on time … which generally means having to fly down the night before); and the impact it has in general health-wise on the population of the Gold Coast, Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast.

The anti-daylight savings time lobby, predominately those from the Tropical and Regional areas, have some good arguments against implementing it; mostly complaining about Brisbanites and Business continually whining until they get their way. To her credit, Anna Bligh has decided that there will no longer be a referendum on this, as she needs to govern the whole of Queensland, and not just the South-East corner.

I personally am divided on this issue. On the one hand, it would be a lot nicer to have a beer after work as night falls; and not having to wake up early due to the bright sunlight or having to catch a stupidly early flight to comply with Qantas’ and Virgin’s view to schedule their flights around Mexican Standard Time (erm – sorry I mean Daylight Savings Time in NSW and VIC). But on the other hand, in Tropical and Regional QLD the introduction of DST would impact their communities even worse. Apparently, the curtains would fade faster and the cows would get confused.

I guess just because of my tounge-in-cheek anti-Southern State views I guess I would have to oppose the introduction of DST, I mean how can anyone like a sport where two teams just kick the ball to each other? And of course, it certainly puts Queensland on the map of the world, we officially have our own time zone (UTC+1000 Brisbane).

Still, a great article from a pro-DST journo which claims in the 273-page Government Report into the issue:

[…] showed the reasons some people were against moving clocks forward were as petty as ‘it would be no benefit to me’.

One woman said it just meant her husband would stay in the pub longer and, despite Premier Anna Bligh’s denials, some farmers were still concerned their livestock would get confused.

I would just love to see this report, but not been able to find it. Can anyone who does post a link?

If a couple of hundred retirees in the outback have blocked Daylight Savings Time just because they want to stop hubby staying in the pub longer and the cows getting confused, I would be p!ssing myself laughing about that for the rest of the week.

Chasers War on Sydney APEC Security: The Video

It was aired last night on the ABC. Media reports say that over 2.3 million people watched it last night, just in the Capital Cities alone. Which, I find amazing given that this is over 10% of the Australian population, and Wednesday evenings are usually reserved for the pub quiz or a barbie.

Those of you in Australia can download the full episode from the ABC, those internationally can find a higher-quality video, and those who are too lazy can just see it below.

Chasers’ War on Sydney APEC Security

Well, it had to happen didn’t it.

The Federal and NSW Governments spent over $250m on securing the Sydney CBD for the ongoing 2007 APEC Summit.

Two of the Chaser’s War on Everything guys, not only did they get waved through two checkpoints and posing as the Canadian motorcade, thy got as far as near Dubya’s hotel before being stopped, arrested and charged under the APEC Act.

The APEC Act restricts people from being in the “secure area” without justification during the summit (a case of guilty until you prove yourself innocent?). Even the ABC’s own report states that they didn’t intend to get as far as they did.

True, Chas being dressed up as Bin Laden during the stunt probably didn’t help, but is bloody funny.

This incident is highly embarrasing for the police, federal and state governments who have essentially fallen for the old trick of Social Engineering to bypass Security measures. For example, the media are reporting that it was due to a “breakdown in communication”, but surely they could have checked to see if the Canadians were in town in the first place (the Canadian PM hasn’t even arrived in Australia yet).

Of course, its not the only Security gaffe so far. Two “unauthorised” men were arrested for being in the hotel lobby when Dubya arrived. Two members of the Labor party were issued police passes for the security zone.

With the global media (so far: CNN, el Reg via Reuters, Australian news.com.au, etc) already covering the story, I believe its likely that they will be made an example of when they front court in Early October.

Hopefully, these minor gaffes will jolt the authorities into a proper state of alert, against real risks or threats. Personally, i can’t wait until next weeks’ episode of The Chaser as they’ll be taking the piss big time.