Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Why Bookface is crap

Cory Doctorow has an article in Information Week which sums up a lot of Facebook and MySpace's shortcomings:

For every long-lost chum who reaches out to me on Facebook, there's a guy who beat me up on a weekly basis through the whole seventh grade but now wants to be my buddy; or the crazy person who was fun in college but is now kind of sad; or the creepy ex-co-worker who I'd cross the street to avoid but who now wants to know, "Am I your friend?" yes or no, this instant, please.
The full article is here.
I think I'm going to delete my Facebook again. (And I'd delete my MySpace, except deleting it doesn't seem to work.)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Op shopping in Greensborough

Today I went op shopping with Nomes and Andy in Greensborough. We found some papier-mâché mushrooms at Savers.

If you want them, they are probably still there.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The new government

Yesterday I got a text message from Marcus, saying, 'Christop for PM, Jesus for treasurer.' It turned out he'd sent it to just about everyone. I asked him today why that was, and he said that because he's (apparently) semi-famous he gets all these people asking who he's voting for, and he gets a bit sick of it. So he sent that around to everyone.

I'm pretty pleased with the election results. I think Rudd will be a fair bit less bad than Howard - especially with a more balanced Senate. It seemed like Howard was relieved not to have to do the job anymore.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Noble Park bull

Last night we had tea at Adam's place in Noble Park. One of his friends cooked us some chicken, so we went around to her place to pick it up, and there is a bull on the vacant lot behind her house:

When we lived in Noble Park I remember there was a vacant block where some people had sheep, and when I was really little we had goats in our back yard.

'No to economic refugees'

Have just been writing letters to some government ministers (Fisheries, International Affairs and Immigration) about the sixteen asylum seekers who've recently been rescued in Australian waters. They're apparently seeking asylum here because their fishing boats have been destroyed, to deter them from fishing in Australian waters, despite the fact that Indonesians were fishing near Australia long before European settlement. Kevin Andrews has said that we won't give asylum to economic refugees. Fair enough (maybe, I'm not sure) but if we're destroying their fishing boats shouldn't we at least be involved in trying to find a way they can make an income without having to break our laws?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Club lockout for Melbourne CBD?

Have just been reading in The Age about plans for a lockout for clubs in Melbourne's CBD ('Hoon "lockout" plan for clubs'). It would mean that after a certain time, people wouldn't be able to go into a club. That would hopefully mean that there'll be less drunk people out on the street, because they wouldn't able to go from one club to another. They tried this in Ballarat when I lived there, and it seemed to work pretty well. I'm not sure if it would work real well in Melbourne though, because like Chris Duthie (from Melbourne East Police) says in the article, if the lockout just in the CBD, the problems are likely to just move to various inner suburban areas.
It also brings to mind the five o'clock swill. There used to be a law that alcohol couldn't be served after six o'clock. (My great-grandfather John McCue, known as 'Victoria's most famous wowser', apparently supported these laws.) It was supposed to stop people from drinking too much, but it actually meant that just before six o'clock everyone would order heaps of alcohol and drink it really quickly, just before the pub closed. So you ended up with heaps of really drunk people out on the street at the same time. Could the lockout mean that everyone decides to travel between clubs just before lockout time? That would mean there'd be heaps of drunk people all out in the street at once.
What do you think?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Zero tolerance

A re-elected Coalition government would take control of the welfare payments of people convicted of offences involving hard drugs, Prime Minister John Howard announced today.
Mr Howard said welfare recipients convicted of offences involving heroin, cocaine or amphetamines would have their payments quarantined for an initial one-year period which could be extended in some circumstances.
(Read the whole article here.)
Sounds like a good idea.
Except it's not going to stop people from using drugs. It probably means that people will have to make more money illegally (eg. theft, drug dealing, prostitution) in order to support their addictions.
Zero tolerance doesn't stop people from using drugs. And it actually increases the harm caused by drugs. For example, if heroin was decriminalised, it wouldn't cost much, therefore not many people would have break the law in order to maintain their habit. It would also be much safer to use heroin, because people could actually know the purity of what they were using, and not have to worry about whether they're also injecting talcum powder or Special K. People would be able to inject in safe, clean places, rather than having to do it secretly in dirty laneways and squats.
I expect most voters wouldn't agree with me though. What do you think?
There is more about harm minimisation here.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday, November 09, 2007

Thursday, November 08, 2007

'"Love thy enemy" -- U.S. soldier gets discharge'

A U.S. soldier who said his Christian beliefs compelled him to love his enemies, not kill them, has been granted conscientious objector status and honorably discharged, a civil liberties group said on Tuesday.
Capt. Peter Brown -- who served in Iraq for more than a year and was a graduate of the elite U.S. military academy West Point -- said in a statement issued by the New York Civil Liberties Union that he was relieved the Army had recognized his beliefs made it impossible for him to serve.
"In following Jesus' example, I could not have fired my weapon at another human being, even if he were shooting at me," said Brown, who plans to continue seminary classes he began by correspondence while in Iraq.
Read the rest here, at Yahoo News. (Props to Jarrod.)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Yesterday evening, after we'd finished cleaning up from the Cup Day barbecue in the laneway, I went for a walk around Docklands. Took these:

Pakistan's state of emergency

Just gotten an email from Avaaz about what's going on in Pakistan at the moment. (President General Pervez Musharraf has imposed martial law, sacked the Supreme Court and shut down the media and basic freedoms, saying that it's necessary for the War on Terror.)
This is from an email written by Asma Jahangir (head of the Pakistani Human Rights Commission and the UN's Special Rapporteur for freedom of religion worldwide), who is under house arrest in Lahore:

There is a strong crackdown on the press and lawyers... The Chief Justice is under house arrest (unofficially). The President of the Supreme Court Bar (Aitzaz Ahsan) and 2 former presidents, Mr. Muneer Malik and Tariq Mahmood have been imprisoned for one month under the Preventive Detention laws...
There are other scores political leaders who have also been arrested. Yesterday I was house arrested for 90 days... the President (who has lost his marbles) said that he had to clamp down on the press and the judiciary to curb terrorism. Those he has arrested are progressive, secular minded people, while the terrorists are offered negotiations and ceasefires.
Lawyers and civil society will challenge the government and the scene is likely to get uglier. We want friends of Pakistan to urge the US administration to stop all support of the instable dictator, as his lust for power is bringing the country close to a worse form of civil strife...
There is a petition here that you can sign, asking other countries to stop supporting Musharraf with military aid.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Walk Against Warming

Walk Against Warming (organised by GetUp) is on this Sunday (November 11, two weeks before the federal election) in each of the capital cities as well as a lot of regional centres. The point of it is to tell our politicians that climate change needs to be taken seriously.
People will be meeting for the Melbourne walk at 12:30pm outside the Ian Potter Gallery at Fed Square.
Click here to find out if there’s a walk in your area.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Another reason to avoid driving

Just been reading this article from The Age, about how a lot of people are going hungry so that we can keep driving our cars:

And if the food runs out?
“The use of food as a source of fuel may have serious implications for the demand for food if the expansion of biofuels continues,” a spokesman for the International Monetary Fund said.
The outlook is widely expected to worsen as agri-industries prepare to switch to highly profitable biofuels, according to Grain, a Barcelona-based food resources group. Its research suggests the Indian Government is committed to planting 14 million hectares with jatropha, an exotic bush from which biodiesel can be made.
Brazil intends to use 120 million hectares for biofuels, and Africa as much as 400 million hectares in the next few years. Much of the growth, the countries say, would be on unproductive land, but many millions of people are expected to be forced off the land.
Oxfam has warned the European Union that the EU policy of substituting 10 per cent of all car fuel with biofuels threatens to displace poor farmers.
The full article is here.
Any ideas about how we can decrease our dependence on cars?