Retail, Politics and Hate

Today I found out that H&M is about to open a new store in Israel’s capital, Jerusalem. Normally, I couldn’t care less – another retail giant opening yet another outlet, big deal. Well, this time, it is a big deal.

H&M Store Melbourne

H&M Store Melbourne

Or at least it was made into a big deal by Melbourne scumbags from the BDS movement. What’s their issue with a shop opening halfway across the world? Nothing really. Nothing except a blind hatred towards the state of Israel.

Now, if you ask the people (and I use the term “people” very loosely here) from BDS what their goal is, thy will tell you that it is to bring Israel to its knees, stop it from any activities in Judea and Samaria and by doing so advance creation of an independent state of Palestine.

Noble cause, right? No, not really. To me, a noble cause is the one that improves the lives of poor and oppressed. A noble cause is the one where you do all you can to make sure that your workers work and live in a humane, sustainable conditions.

So let’s look into it a little bit deeper.

H&M has stores in dozens of countries. Including in the Middle East, countries that might not necessarily be Israel’s friends. They have stores in Bahrain. They have stores in Jordan. They have stores in Kuwait. They have stores in Lebanon. Oman. Qatar. Saudi Arabia. United Arab Emirates. All these countries have benefited from having H&M stores in their shopping centers. All these countries recognize the importance of having a robust economy based on free trade and sound management. How many of them are going to close down H&M chains in their countries, just to piss Israel off? None.

This is what BDS supports

This is what BDS supports

So why is the BDS different? Is it because they care more about the plight of the Palestinian people than the Arab countries do? Hardly. If they did, they wouldn’t cause the closure of the SodaStream factory in Judea and subsequent loss of jobs for 500 Palestinians. If they did, they wouldn’t oppose $15 Billion gas deal between Israel and Jordan, a deal that is set to benefit people of Jordan immensely.  

But let’s go back to H&M for a moment. If anyone from BDS bothered to look at H&M website, they would find that the level of morality and justice advocated by this company is something that every  company in a world should try to imitate. They work hard to make sure that everyone who works for them is earning enough to live on. H&M philosophy – Everyone who’s employed by the fashion industry should earn enough to live on – whoever they are and wherever they work. To this end, H&M set a goal that all of workers should have improved pay structures for fair living wages in place by 2018. This will affect around 850,000 textile workers. They take care of workers conditions, they pay attention to things like sustainability and animal welfare. They use their influence to positively change people and countries they involved in.

But all of this means little to BDS. They rather see people lose their jobs, farmers unable to sell crops, than to allow a new shop in Jerusalem. I guess it’s hard to see the reason, to see unmistakable advantages to hundreds of thousands of people, when your head and your heart filled with hate.
All this reminds me of something Golda Meir once said: “We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.” Today, it can also be applied to BDS and all the other Israel haters.

ASIC – a toothless tiger of financial industry

Last night I was looking for some light reading, so I’ve turned my attention to the Money Management website. On it, I found an article telling us that ASIC (Australian Securities and Investments Commission) purposefully does NOT take action against misleading advertising by Industry Super Funds.

Former Faceless Man, now in a running to become our next Prime Minister

Union cronie, wants to be our next Prime Minister

For anyone who just came back from extended travels throughout the Phoenix Cluster galaxy and might not be up to speed with things here on Earth, Industry Super Funds are effectively owned by the Unions and for all intents and purposes are untouchable.

According to ASIC’s own website, they “contribute to Australia’s economic reputation and wellbeing by ensuring that Australia’s financial markets are fair and transparent, supported by confident and informed investors and consumers.” Again, in their own words, one of their strategic priorities is “Ensuring fair, orderly and transparent markets”. They should add “unless it involves Trade Unions, in which case we tuck our tail between our legs and play dead”.Don’t get me wrong, ASIC isn’t just sitting idly on its hands. It jumps in and investigates and sets rulings and cancels licenses and banishes businesses….. Only last year they banned a finance broker from Lidcombe, NSW. They banned Commonwealth financial planning adviser for not providing a paperwork within specific timeframe. They banned adviser of the Magnitude Group. They banned insurance broker of Leedam Pty Ltd. The list goes on and on and on. Mostly ASIC came down really hard on small to medium size businesses.

real people are the victims

-thejournal.ie

Don’t get me wrong, ASIC isn’t just sitting idly on its hands. It jumps in and investigates and sets rulings and cancels licenses and banishes businesses….. Only last year they banned a finance broker from Lidcombe, NSW. They banned Commonwealth financial planning adviser for not providing a paperwork within specific timeframe. They banned adviser of the Magnitude Group. They banned insurance broker of Leedam Pty Ltd. The list goes on and on and on. Mostly ASIC came down really hard on small to medium size businesses.

 

I am the first to congratulate ASIC for cleaning the industry from the dodgy operators. I would congratulate them even more if they actually dared to face up to the real bullies of the industry.

Melbournians fallen victims of self-absorbed and disgruntled renegades with permanent chips on their shoulders

Another day, another industrial action by Melbourne’s Public Transport workers. Once again tens of thousands of people have been left stranded, inconvenienced, made hostages of the Unions.

Yarra Trams holding Melbournians hostage

Yarra Trams holding Melbournians hostage

Yesterday, for the fifth time in two weeks Melbournians fallen victims of self-absorbed and disgruntled renegades with permanent chips on their shoulders, otherwise known as Rail, Tram and Bus Union leadership.

Workers fighting for their rights and conditions is an important and necessary part of a democratic society.  Unless, of course, this fight becomes a nasty squabble and stops being a vehicle of progress.

 

 

So what do the Unions want?

They want 6% pay raise each year for three years (18% pay increase) for Yarra Tram and Metro employees. That’s on top of already generous pay increase they’ve negotiated in the last two Enterprise Agreements:

According to a report from 3AW tram and train drivers have received pay rises of 28 per cent in the past six years after negotiating two new EBAs since 2009.

What does the Metro Train management offer?

Another day, another industrial action

Another day, another industrial action

  • 13% pay raise over three years
  • Increased maternity leave from 12 to 14 weeks
  • Increased Carers leave from 1 week to 2 weeks
  • Up to 5 days of Bereavement leave
  • Trauma and Family violence leave
  • An option of when to take their five weeks annual leave

According to Yarra Trams, tram drivers, on average, currently take home $91,000, including penalties, bonuses and overtime. So we are not exactly talking about poverty-stricken segment of our society here.

 

It reminds me of when Telstra employees engaged in the rolling industrial strikes few years ago, after the Company and the Union failed to reach an agreement.

I’m sure you all remember it – tens of thousands of people lost their access to the internet, nobody could call their families overseas, people couldn’t withdraw cash from the ATMs and the entire police force went on leave, because no-one could call 000, remember? No? Because that’s not how it works when people taking industrial actions actually care about what they do and about their customers.

The problem is, the way I see it, that the Union bosses get joy from making life hard for businesses. They genuinely thrive on it, and are completely indifferent to the hardships their militant actions cause to country as a whole.

What’s even worse, they end up becoming a Labor Politicians and legislate to make it easier for their Union cronies to continue this vicious cycle!

People Who Live in Glass Houses Shouldn’t Throw Stones, or Is This The End of English Monarchy?

‘The Sun has sunk to a new low’, ‘British public reacts with fury after tabloid publishes 80-year-old pictures of the seven-year-old Queen and the Queen Mother being taught a Nazi salute’ – these are just some of the headlines following publication of the current Queen of England performing Nazi salute 80 years ago.

There is a lot of talk about banishing The Sun, and about restricting Murdock’s rights of entering the UK. While I understand the sentiment behind it, I disagree with the idea. UK is a free, democratic country. The Sun, while being an absolute rat rag, published a factually correct story.

Queen Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth

Instead of calling for heads to roll and for banishing people and businesses, the English establishment should stop and think about what this really means to them.

The way I see it, a 7 years old girl had been brainwashed to become a Nazi sympathiser. Instead, she grew up to be a woman of good stature and a reasonable Queen. She had shown the strength of character befitting of a monarch. If anything, the English should see it as a feel-good story.

On another side of the divide, there are loud voices calling for the end of monarchy and for introduction of a republic.

This just makes me cringe. I wonder if these same individual protest all and any political and/or economic dealings with the US government, which was quiet happy to acknowledge the French Vichy government as the official government of France. The fact that it was Hitler’s little puppet didn’t seem to bother anyone in Washington.

In all fairness, France  and USA weren’t the only ones who openly (or secretly) embraced the Nazi regime. Russia had signed a Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, aimed at carving up bits of Europe.

It Is also a well-known fact that Muslim Brotherhood’s leader Hassan al-Banna, was an ardent supporter of Nazi Germany, as was a Grand Mufti of Jerusalaem.

It wasn’t just the political and religious leaders who willingly cooperated with Nazis.

There was a lot of money to be made, and some big businesses couldn’t contain their greed.

Nazi Concentration Camp Tattoo

Nazi Concentration Camp Tattoo

That’s why I wonder how many of these same republicans that call to abandon the monarchy, simply because a 7 year old girl gave Nazi salute, are driving Fords? Henry Ford was Hitler’s close friend and the only American who received Nazi Germany’s highest honour – the Grand Cross of the German Eagle. Or how many of them use IBM equipment? Remember those infamous tattoos that Nazi victims were given upon entering concentration camps? They are the serial numbers that were fed into IBM’s accounting systems to insure efficiency.

The list of the companies who made their fortunes by cooperating with Nazis is quite long. Some of them made (or at least attempted to) make amends for their dark past, some are completely happy and comfortable with their history.

I guess what I’m saying is that before calling for the heads to roll, and for monarchs to be toppled, the instigators should have a good look at themselves and make sure they are not tainted.

I got my Crystal Ball out, and here are my 6 predictions for 2015

2015 is here, and looks like we are stuck with it for the foreseeable future. Some people like to look back and reminisce, but I prefer to look forward and get ready for what lies ahead.
So what is ahead? I don’t have a crystal ball, and I’m not particularly good at reading tea leaves – some people might say that I’m not particularly good at anything, but I think these people are just mean.
So I’ll have a go at coming up with the list of 6 predictions for the new year, and in a last blog of 2015 I’ll try see how many of my predictions were right.

unemployment

Unemployment to go up in 2015

1. Lets start with the sad and boring: Unemployment in Australia will hit 7.2%

2. With all the Wearables popping up, the time is almost right for this part of the market to explode…. Almost, but not quite. There won’t be any “out of this world” breakthrough in a next 12 months.

3. Speaking of “out of this world” – 2015 is set to be a year when we’ll see the advertising done in space, specifically; it will be placed on the Moon. Can’t wait to see the laser displays to rival the beauty of Aurora Borealis.

4. The sanctions on Russia will be relaxed, or removed completely. In part it will be due to the increased tensions between Turkey and Greece over the Mediterranean gas fields. (and yes, Russia will retain all the territories it “acquired” last year)

Parliament of Australia

Parliament of Australia

5. Closer to home – in September, it will be two interstate AFL teams battling in the Grand Final, but the Port wouldn’t have enough power when it’s needed most, and so it would be the Swans flying back to Sydney with the Cup.

6. Tony Abbot to lose his residence at The Lodge by 30th of April (this one is actually not my prediction, it’s a learned opinion of my friend-blogger Edward from The Mugwump Post )

 

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

There is this Russian saying that goes something like this: The way you’ll start a New Year is the way you’ll finish it. To make sure that I finish 2015 on a high, I better start it right…

Cheers, everyone, Happy New Year!

Life Without Internet in 21st century? Surely Not!

The other day I overheard a conversation between two young people, both in their 20th. The girl was trying to understand the concept of Facebook, and the guy was trying (without much success) to explain it to her.

You've Got Mail

You’ve Got Mail

I immediately felt the need to bud in on their conversation, and started asking questions of my own. It turns out, that the girl not only has no idea about Facebook, she also doesn’t own a mobile phone, and she doesn’t have an internet connection at home either. I must’ve had a stupid expression on my face, when on my question “How do you pay your bills?” she answered “At the Post Office”.

I must point out here, that the girl is NOT some sort of backwards person, unable to grasp the technology. She is a lovely girl, competent in her job, uses computer and internet at work, knows how to use them, so it’s a matter of personal choice not succumbing to the extra pressure of being on-line and available at all times.

I kept coming back to this conversation for the rest of the day, and I become curious as to how many other people are out there, that do not have internet?

Apparently, quite a lot. According to the Australia Bureau of Statistics, at the end of 2013 there was 12,397,000 internet subscribers, of which, amazingly, over 200,000 were still on Dial-Up connections.  It appears that we are not as technologically advanced as I’ve always thought. Australia is only ranked 25th in a world by internet penetration, having 82.3% of its population on-line.

Some users are still stuck with a snail pace of Dial-Up

Some users are still stuck with a snail pace of Dial-Up

The list of countries and their internet penetration makes for a very interesting read – there are some surprises there.

First, Falkland Islands are ranked Number 1, which must piss Iceland off big time, as that little bit of rock  in South Atlantic is pushing the little bit of rock in a North Atlantic into the Second spot. Our cousins from across the Tasman Sea are doing real good, managing to secure a spot in the top 10. But the biggest surprise for me was Nigeria – I was sure that with the millions of e-mails from millions of relatives of the dead people, all promising me the guaranteed way to get reach, Nigeria would be high up on the list. But no – it only comes at a lowly 128th spot. Those poor scammers must be working overtime, to be able to contact so many unsuspecting winners  🙂

 

 

 

Federal Budget, Retirement and Death

Over the past couple of weeks we all have been exposed to the proposed “tough love” budget that our Federal Government is attempting to pass through Parliament.

One of the things that will affect most of us – the retirement age is set to go up to 70 years. While it scares me to even think that I might have to be in a workforce for so long, there is something that scares me even more. It’s the thought that we will have significantly higher number of drivers in their mid to late sixties regularly navigating our roads.

Are you ready to retire?

Are you ready to retire?
Is the government ready for you to retire?

Why does it scare me? It’s simple, really. Older drivers are not as safe as the younger ones. They are accountable for one-third of all fatalities related to traffic accidents.

Now, before all the old-timers out there decide to collectively bash me up – statistics don’t lie. Of 247 fatalities in a 12 months to April 2014, 84 are from the age group of 60+.

The reality of it is, this number is set to go even higher. Today drivers over 60 years old are mostly drive out of peak hours, and mostly for recreational purposes. When they will have to drive to and from work, faced with bumper to bumper traffic, and an added pressure of getting there on time, how will they cope?

I wonder if the government is prepared to spend extra money paying unemployment to all the young people who will have to wait few extra years for the older generation to retire?

I wonder if the government is prepared to spend extra money paying for increased number if accidents on our roads?

But most of all, I wonder if it’s a ploy to force all those 70-year-olds to become just another road accident statistic, thus eliminating the need to pay them pension for another 10-20 years?

Getting old doesn’t look like a lot of fun right now…

Tinglers and Tampons

This post is more of a WTF category, just a couple of things I’ve come across recently that made me stop and take a second look…

The first one was at a truck stop somewhere between Melbourne and Canberra.

Boldly Glow Where No Man Has Glowed Before

Boldly Glow Where No Man Has Glowed Before

While washing hands in a toilet, I’ve noticed a vending machine that was selling Tingler Rings.

Looks like our truckies have become more sophisticated, more adventurous. It’s not enough to just grab a plain old condom from a machine for a quick “pit-stop” on a way. Now they are looking for the Tingler Ring – a product promising you to “Boldly glow where no man has glowed before”.

It also promises to “Prolong The Pleasure Of Sex” – I always thought that our truck drivers work on a tight schedule, they would be more interested in a product that will allow them to get maximum satisfaction in a shortest time possible…you know, “in, out, back on the road again”?

 

The second thing that made me go “hmmm” was the banner in a local health shop.

What's In Your Tampon?

What’s In Your Tampon?

For a reason that escapes me, they posted a question “What’s in your tampon?”

Now, I’m not too sure what they are trying to achieve here… If they want to know what tampons are made of, they might be better off directing the question to the manufactures. If they want to know what’s in a tampon after it’s been used, I don’t even want to go there.

Being a health shop specializing in all things “natural”, I suspect they wanted to make people aware of some different type of tampons made of natural, or recycled ingredients.

What I find hard to swallow, even harder than a tampon staring in my face, is the fact that they sell those horrible drinks there, they call it “coffee” but it’s made from the soy milk and dandelions. No human should be allowed to suffer through drinking that horrible stuff.

Maybe next they should put up a poster asking “How to make real coffee?”

The Big Bang Theory and Hot Tub Time Machine meet at Australian Synchrotron

For all the nerds, geeks and all the “regular” people who are not afraid to show their “geeky” side, this month’s calendar had one very important and exciting day. I am talking of course, about the Australian Synchrotron Open Day.

Australian Synchrotron opened in 2007 and in what’s becoming a yearly tradition, the scientists and the support staff are opening the doors to this marvel of engineering, volunteering their time and knowledge to bring the science to the masses and give our kids (and there was A LOT of kids) a taste of what science is, and hopefully inspire some of them to become the next Albert Einstein.

Synchrotron Open Day

This is how visitors were greeted

This year I decided to take this opportunity and see what all the excitement is about. Secretly, I was hoping to see Dr. Sheldon Cooper in attendance, or Leonard Hofstadter, or maybe even their girlfriends. Unfortunately, I didn’t see them, but I did see a guy who closely resembled Howard Wolowitz, down to the weird hair and a skivvy. Although, I am absolutely convinced that Penny was there at some point. How else do you explain that many bottles of nail polish?

Penny was here

Penny…..Penny…..Penny….

What I found very intriguing, was the scientists’ fascination with aluminum foil. It was EVERYWHERE! They either treat the whole thing a bit like a primary school science experiment, or they are really paranoid about the government spying on them.

There were dozens of bits of gear, all wrapped in foil

There were dozens of bits of gear, all wrapped in foil

At one stage I even began to wonder if those scientists are really all that smart. I mean, you would have your doubts too, if you found that they need these type of signs to aid them in their work:

Those scientists really worry me...

Those scientists really worry me…

But as I was moving along, I realized that I have little reason to worry. The scientists definitely knew what they were doing. One of the projects I spotted was obviously a robotic can opener; a must-have in every household

Robotic can opener

Robotic can opener

Soon after, I’ve discovered even more amazing project Synchrotronians (is it a word?) were working on. Not sure if the Hollywood producers borrowed their idea for a movie from our scientist, or our scientists drew inspiration form a Hollywood blockbuster, but the fact remains: Time Machine is real, and it is right here, in Melbourne!

Hot Tub Time Machine

Hot Tub Time Machine

Overall, it was a great day, the staff there were very helpful and did their best to explain even the hardest theories and hypothesis in a way that anyone would understand.  They were there on a Sunday, during their time off, away from their families. Yet they made all of us feel like a family, welcoming us to a wonderful world of science.

Managing your own financial affair isn’t a rocket science.

I finally did it. With only 8 days till the deadline, I have submitted my Tax Return.

It was an intense 2 hours, skimming thru ATO’s regulations, digging out 12-months old receipts, generally trying to do the right thing.

Tax Time is the time to get involved

Tax Time is the time to get involved

All this made me remember doing my very first Tax Return, all those years ago. It used to be a very involved process. First, it required a visit to a Newsagency to pick up a copy of the Return, and to get a pack of smokes (I’ll need them). Then I needed to clean up the dining table, so I can spread all the papers out, next step was realising that I don’t have a black ink pen, so back to the Newsagency I go, getting a bottle of vodka from a bottle shop while I’m out (I’ll need it later too). Finally, about an hour after I’ve started filling in the form, I hopelessly stuffed it up. Stuffed it up to a point that I just knew that no amount of Whiteout would fix it. Which only meant one thing – another visit to the Newsagency, to get another blank form.

Back home with the form, thoroughly frustrated, I spend the next few hours doing my best impersonation of an old accountant. I grumble, I argue with the form I’m filling in, I’m yelling at my pen, I admonishing the receipt for deciding to play hide and seek with me.  At long last, it is done. Two sets of forms and a pack of smokes later, I feel totally exhausted, but my Tax Return is done. Now all that’s left to do is to jump in a car and drive to the local Tax Office branch to make sure my forms are there in time. By the end of the day, the place looked a lot like this:

Paperwork during tax time

Paperwork during tax time

 

Looking back at the way I did my first Tax Return, I suddenly realise that today’s tax affair is rather boring, uneventful, even dull.

After having a late breakfast on a Sunday morning, I downloaded eTax software from the ATO website, “digging out 12-months old receipts” in reality only took a couple of minutes, as most of them are electronically stored in my e-mail. No hunting for forms or for pens. No wasting time going to and from Newsagency. If a mistake is made, all it takes is to hit the Back button and correct the mistake. And once all is done, getting the information to the Tax Office is as easy as pressing the Lodgement button.

All this makes me wonder why would people pay hundreds of dollars to have their basic Tax Returns done by accountants? Unless you have a complex financial portfolio consisting of investment properties, shares, running a couple of small businesses, you don’t really need anyone sticking their nose in our financial affairs. Think about it – a lot of people would pay a few hundred dollars to an accountant, just to have a couple of hundred dollars in tax return. next year, why don’t you give it a go and try doing it yourself. After all, if you were smart enough to have finished high school, you are smart enough to manage your own Tax Return.

How much should the paramedics be paid, or the perks of a shift worker

Anyone driving around Melbourne would’ve seen Victorian Ambulances, all covered in signs indicating that our Ambos are the lowest paid in Australia. It is all part of an ongoing dispute between ambulance workers and Victorian government. Ambos are claiming they are the best trained but lowest paid for their duties in the country.

Victorian Paramedics - the lowest paid in a country

Victorian Paramedics – the lowest paid in a country

Yesterday, as I was letting one of the emergency vehicles overtake me, I decided to check out how much they actually get paid, and what do they ask for. Figures themselves are not too exciting. There are dozens of articles on a subject, some in support of the paramedics, some are clearly pro-government. Depending on the source, ambos are getting between $73,000 and $93,000 a year including overtime, and they want a 30% raise, to make their pay line up with that of their colleagues in other states. As far as I am concerned, this sort of demand is not unreasonable, these men and women work day and night, sometimes up to their elbows in other people’s blood, guts and vomit.

But what really got my attention was an article in the Herald Sun that went on to describe to its readers how good the ambos have it. The author was throwing in numbers, examples and quotes, all to prove that ambos are only working 11 days a month and therefore their claims of being overworked and underpaid are “not an emergency”.

What the author failed to mention was the hidden “perks” of being a shift worker. Perhaps he is unfamiliar with what the word diurnality means (go ahead, google it). Or maybe he should have a look at a study published in the British Medical Journal last year, which concluded shift workers were 41 per cent more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke. Or maybe, while he is having his soy latte in a morning, he would check out the study from Office of Road Safety of Western Australia – the one that determined shift workers are six times more likely to be involved in a fatigue-related vehicle incident. Alternatively, I can suggest he visits Victorian government’s Better Health website, where he will find that Shift Workers get, on average, two to three hours less sleep than other workers. They often sleep though the day in two split periods, a few hours in the morning and then an hour or so before going to work at night. Night workers can find it difficult sleeping during the day (particularly in Australia). It’s difficult to keep the sleep environment dark, free of noise and relatively cool.

Hidden dangers of shift work

Hidden dangers of shift work

Now, I am not a whinger, but the author of that article not only having a go at our paramedics. By insinuating that they don’t work enough days, he offends, no-he disrespects, each and every one of Australia’s 1.4 million shift workers.

I wonder if his opinion will change one day (or night) when he would have to use his mobile phone (24×7 service) to call Police or Ambulance, Fire Brigade or Nurse on Call (all 24×7 services)?

Halloween in Australia, Mud Wrestling or Tomato Throwing?

I had to do a bit of shopping in Big W the other day, and the moment I entered the store, I was confronted with evil pumpkins, witches, spider webs and zombies…..Yes. Halloween is upon us once again. So what is Halloween, and why do we celebrate it here, in Australia?

Halloween

Evil Pumpkin

The origin of Halloween is from the Celtic festival of death marking the beginning of their New Year, celebrated on 31st October or 1st November. The earlier records indicate that it is not just a day for the dead but also the day when the dead might reach out to the living. It came to be known as the feast of the dead, because the Celts believe that on this night the border between the worlds of the living and dead is the thinnest, enabling souls of the dead to re-enter the world.

When first Europeans came to America, Halloween wasn’t a big day on a calendar, due to the fact that most immigrants at a time were Protestants. It wasn’t until the end of the 19th century, when millions of Irish made the trip across the Atlantic, that the festival started to gain momentum and became a national holiday.

So why do we celebrate it here? Why not? After all, we are quite happy to celebrate Christmas in a 40C heat, and we embrace the spring holiday of Esther by getting out our winter clothing, so it only logical that Halloween is a sound choice for Australian holidays. While we at it, we might want to consider adopting another festival – La Tomatina. Getting a bucket load of tomatoes and chucking them at complete strangers sounds like a fun day out. Or if you are after a bit more “hands on” experience, maybe we can start lobbying to adopt a Korean festival known as Boryeong Mud Festival? Two words….Mud Wrestling

Halloween in Australia

Halloween is here

I guess, there would always be people who are happy to embrace an idea of a new festival, just like there would always be those who oppose any change. Whichever side you are on, it is easy to show your allegiance. If you think Halloween is an evil’s work, go buy yourself the biggest water gun you can find, and give those little shits a good spray if they dare to disturb your evening. But if you think Halloween is a fun holiday bringing families together, go spend few dollars and shower little angels with candies.

Since either way it is spending –  there is no wrong choice, for any spending is good for our economy.

Is there such thing as bad publicity?

For me, TV is an endless source of entertainment, amusement, frustration and, surprise, surprise – material for my blog.

The latest “light bulb” idea comes after watching an Old El Paso ad, the one advertising Mexican Rice Kits. Apparently, Mexicans are a backwards people, complete baboons, who just recently discovered what to do with forks.

It got me thinking: do we really need this kind of racist advertising to push a product? And what other ads are out there, playing on our feelings of superiority towards other races?

I found quite a few examples of what can be construed as racist advertising. One of the oldest ones is a Jell-O ad from the 60’s, implying that if it wasn’t for the Western Civilization, Japanese still wouldn’t know what a spoon is. Another one is a South Oak Dodge ad – again having a go at Japanese. All those imported cars must be really pissing that guy off.  Not to be outdone, the Japanese advertising for the Play Station Portable White is pushing the limits of advertising. Italians contribute to the list with the ad for Coloreria Italiana. Closer to home, KFC had to pull down its ad depicting a white Aussie cricket fan, offering fried chicken to West Indies supporters. What’s interesting here, is that this ad was deemed racist over in America, but in Australia we just laughed it off as an example of Australian humour. To be honest, I don’t get what the problem is – the guy is sharing his food with his mates…we’re all mates, aren’t we?

Dick Smith Australia Day

Dick Smith Australia Day ad

And what about the infamous Australia Day ad from an Aussie icon Dick Smith? I mean, seriously, who doesn’t like some dick?

Just to finish it off, here is an ad from Volkswagen, promoting its new model VW Polo. In this commercial German car maker is stereotyping Muslims as terrorists. It’s actually funny coming from Volkswagen, the company with really close ties with Nazis and Hitler.

I’m sure there are plenty more of these ads out there. Some are actually racist, some borderline so, and some are just labelled as racist by bigots or people with no sense of humour.

I am not a whinger, but it is a Politically Correct world we live in, where making fun of other people’s race or religion is frowned upon. Unless you are an Aussie, of course. In Australia, we are allowed, no – expected, to take a piss out of everyone. Anything less would be un-Australian.

As for everyone else – avoid the dangers of being labelled a racist and stick to the good old axiom that “sex sells” and play it safe.

Sex Sells

Sex Sells

Comedy Festival started early, or My Recollection of last night’s Election.

It is coming up to 6 pm and all the channels on TV are doing election special. We don’t know any results as yet, they haven’t even started counting, but everyone feels qualified enough to make predictions and to tell us that Abbot is going to be the new king….I mean Prime Minister. Maybe it is just my male gene, or maybe it is my desire to get as many opinions as possible, but I keep flicking from one channel to another.

On 7 it’s rather a small affair, with only Alexander Downer showing any sparks of intelligence. On 9 my favorite is Amanda Vanstone-she’s quite witty, quick with a joke and doesn’t mind a bit of tongue lashing. Another almost iconic presence  is Laurie Oakes, who looks like it’s all just a tad too fast paced for him. He used to be almost brilliant, but I think it’s about time we let the old war horse rest. Peter Costello is also there, looking like he’s struggling to keep up. Hard to believe that he was one of the best treasures this country had ever known. Moving on to channel 10, it’s The Project. I’m not their biggest fan even on a good day, and on a day of election they are even worse. Producers should seriously bring some one to the show whose IQ is higher than their shoe size. I’ve attempted to watch ABC coverage as well, but for some reason I can never get it to work on my TV. So I’m just going to assume that it had its usual left-wing aligned coverage.

election 2013

image thanks to news.com.au

Now, I’m not a whinger, but can some one please tell me: I understand that election is an important day on our political calendar, but why do all the channels feel the need to start broadcasting hours and hours before we even start counting? No sane person can possibly maintain interest for that long. My mind switched off after about 30 minutes of speculations, as did the sound on my TV, at which point I got a bottle of Brown Brothers Moscato out, and settled down to read Daniel Silva’s Moscow Rules.

Clive Palmer

Image courtesy of news.com.au

From time to time I was turning the TV sound back on, to get the updates on voting, and to check footy scores (sorry to all the Collingwood supporters, btw). Highlights of the election coverage for me? Palmer’s interview with Chanel 9 (I really hope he gets a seat in Parliament, for entertainment value, if nothing else) and all the losers being fed to the sharks by Chanel 7.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. My bottle of Moscato is empty, all the professional comedians are getting ready to run this beautiful country of ours, and I’m waiting for all the amateur comedians to descent onto Melbourne next March for the Comedy Festival 2014.

The Cost of Doing Business With Terrorists

The internet news services these last few days were alive with all the stories about UK selling chemical weapons to Syria (AFTER) the civil war there had already started.

Now, I’m not a whinger, BUT……WHAT THE HELL WERE THEY THINKING?!!!

Are we really consumed by greed THAT much? Quick search on Google says “yes, we are”. Here are just some examples of international madness, or as some prefer to call it, business…

Attack Helicopter

We build deadly weapons. Sell them to the bad guy.

Russia sells nuclear technology and weapons to Iran. Threatens to sell offensive weapons to Syria’s Assad if European Union will supply weapons to the rebels. More on Russia’s trades: it’s key arms customers are reportedly Syria , Malaysia, Venezuela, Algeria, China and Vietnam.

But I guess, what can else can you expect from the big bad russkies, right? Surely, our democratic, progressive-thinking western governments are opposing this madness?

Hardly.

USA’s biggest arms buyer is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. During the infighting between the forces of Mubarak and the Muslim Brotherhood, US delivered four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt. The Pentagon is looking at sending $US2.7 billion in weapons to Iraq, despite the country being on the verge of civil war. The US and Britain sold Saddam Hussein the technology and materials Iraq needed to develop nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction. Then they went to war with Saddam, looking for Weapons of Mass Disruption.

War is good for business

War is good for business

The UK Government has issued more than 3,000 export licences for military and intelligence equipment worth a total of £12.3bn to countries which are on its own official list for human rights abuses. In 2009 Britain sold £16.4m worth of arms to Egypt.

France selling to United Arab Emirates 700 million euro worth of two spy satellites. It’s not just satellites that have been sold, but also access to image processing software, the training of specialists in intelligence analysis, transmission systems and encryption .” It’s a well-known fact that French supported Iraq during the Iran–Iraq war.

As I was writing this post, I found an interesting tweet, alerting me to an article in the Examiner. Apparently, Syrian rebels admit that a gas attack was a result of mishandling chemical weapons. This is a perfect example of why this kind of weapons should NEVER be sold to any government or opposition in places like Syria, or Saudi Arabia, or Iran…the list goes on and on. 

I know that selling weapons is a big business, bringing a lot of money to companies and governments selling them, but at what cost?

Maybe we should stop sometimes and think beyond our greed, beyond immediate profit, and try to do the right thing, act responsibly to assure our children’s future.

Election, or A Right to Lead a Country

Australia’s election campaign is in full swing, and all the politicians are out there, trying to win as many votes as they can. Or at least to stop their competitors from winning extra votes. I think that was the main reason behind the statement made by Palmer with regards to experience (or a lack of) of current cabinet members of the Labor Party.

Australian Parliament

Australian Parliament

Palmer said something along the lines that all the Labor politicians combined only have about 15 years of real life work experience. His criteria were – any Union or Government related job wasn’t counted as experience, and neither anything in legal profession.

It sounded too far-fetched to me, so I’ve decided to check it out myself. Here’s the result of my investigation….

The break-down of Labor Cabinet:

Anthony Albanese            Deputy Prime Minister of Australia and the Deputy Leader of                                                     the Labor Party. He is also the Minister for Infrastructure and                                                   Transport, the Minister for Broadband, Communications and                                                     the Digital Economy and the Leader of the House of                                                                     Representatives.

Years of prior experience:    2 years  Commonwealth Bank

Kevin Rudd                        Prime Minister of Australia

Years of prior experience:   0 years

Kim Carr                              Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research and                                                     Minister for Higher Education

Years of prior experience:  9 years secondary school teacher

Brendan O’Connor             Minister for Employment and the Minister for Skills and                                                             Training

Years of prior experience:  0 year

Richard Marles                  Minister for Trade

Years of prior experience: 4 years Slater and Gordon

Julie Collins                         Minister for Community Services, the Minister for Indigenous                                                   Employment and Economic Development, and the Minister for                                                   the Status of Women

Years of prior  experience:  Not clear, but no more than 5 years customer service and                                                           business support roles in real estate and energy environments.

Tanya Plibersek                 Minister for Health and Medical Research

Years of prior experience:  0 years

Joel Fitzgibbon                  Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Years of prior experience: Up to 5 years automotive electrician, electorate officer, part                                                      time technical education lecturer and small business operator

Gary Gray                           Minister for Resources and Energy, the Minister for Tourism,                                                     and the Minister for Small Business

Years of prior experience:  2 years BHP steelworks, and then at the Savings Bank of South                                                  Australia.

Mark Dreyfus                     Attorney-General of Australia,

Years of prior experience:  17 years lawyer

Mark Butler                        Minister for Climate Change and Minister for the Environment,                                                 Heritage and Water

Years of prior experience:  0 years

Bill Shorten                         Minister for Education and Minister for Employment and                                                            Workplace Relations.

Years of prior experience:  1.5 years lawyer

Catherine King                  Minister for Regional Australia, Local Government and                                                               Territories

Years of prior experience: Possible 2-3 years? social worker, research officer and public                                                       servant. social welfare sector in Ballarat

Tony Burke                        Minister for Immigration, Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship

Years of prior experience:  7 years posible work

Bob Carr                             Minister for Foreign Affairs

Years of prior experience:  2 years ABC radio

Jenny Macklin                    Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous                                                        Affairs and Minister for Disability Reform

Years of prior experience: 2 years researcher at the Australian National University

Stephen Smith                   Minister for Defence.

Years of prior experience: 4 years lawyer

Chris Bowen                      Treasurer of Australia

Years of prior experience:  2 years maybe in something related to economics?

Jacinta Collins                   Minister for Ageing and Mental Health

Years of prior experience: 0 years outside of Unions

Penny Wong                      Commonwealth Minister for Finance and Deregulation

Years of prior experience: 0 years

Australian Government

Politics is a funny business.

So here is the verdict:

Total of 65 years of work experience outside of politics spread between the 20 Members of Parliament (and I’ve been VERY generous). This is just over 3 years of experience per politician before we let these people to run the country.

Now, I’m not a whinger, BUT….Is it any wonder that our country’s economy and domestic and foreign policies are up the proverbial creek?

Super Fast, or Super Stupid?

Over the past few weeks, we were bombarded by a new Optus ad on TV – you know the one, two girlfriends talking on a phone and one of them complains “she is trying to send a photo, but her internet is too slow” and the other one responds “You have buffering issues, but I don’t, I have a 300 Gb plan with Optus”.

Without going into the details of the actual plan, I wonder how much the advertising agency understands what the commercial is about, who in Optus signed off on it, and how stupid do they think the average person is?

The thing is, both women in the ad can be on a “massive 300 Gb” plans, but one of them could be on ADSL1, or Satellite, or even a Dial-up, and the other one on ADSL 2+ or Optus via NBN. Comparing the speed of your internet connection with a download allowance is a typical case of comparing apples and oranges.

To finish it off, I would like to say that I am not a whinger, but…. if you are trying to sell a product, or a service, treat your customers with respect, don’t assume that you have to “dumb down” the advertising in order for it to be understood. Give us some credit.

Note:
The author of this post is a customer, shareholder and employee of Telstra.
The views expressed here are the author’s only and do not represent views of Telstra in any way, shape or form.