Australian Idol 2006

The winner of Australian Idol 2006 is Irish born Damien Leith, who has reportedly applied for Australian citizenship but is not yet an Australian.

Whilst his musical talent is unquestionable, is it really proper that the winner of Australian Idol is not an Australian, either by birth or by application for citizenship?

Personally, I congratulate Damien on achieving his success but I can’t get rid of this feeling that somehow we’ve been cheated.

What do you think?

2006/2007 Ashes Cricket Test Series begins

At last, Australia can seek redemption for losing the last Ashes series in England.

The long awaited and much anticipated series began in Brisbane on Thursday, November 23.  Australia showed their true colours, spending almost 2 days amassing a massive score of 9/602, and then taking 3 quick wickets to have England reeling at 3/53 at the close of play on day 2.

Grab a cold beer and a comfy seat in front of the tv and join me in a rousing chorus of our cricketing national anthem…

C’mon Aussie, c’mon, c’mon…
C’mon Aussie, c’mon, c’mon…

Hehe – ’tis the end of day 3 – England all out for 157, Australia 1/181 (giving the Aussies a lead of 626), and the Barmy Army prove they are just a bunch of whinging poms – all they can do is complain about what they consider heavy-handedness by the local constabulary.

What time tomorrow will Punter declare?

Ok you dinkum Aussies (and anyone else that feels like joining in), sing along – you all know the tune… C’mon Aussie, c’mon, c’mon…

😛

Bigpond IRCops show their true colours – again

On 12 November, 2006, the IRCops of Bigpond’s IRC network once again displayed their inability to understand their place in the grand scheme.

Since May, 2005, they have shown complete disregard for proper handling of their positions as IRCops.  They have shown time and again that they are quite happy to place long term bans against users simply because those users have dared to voice an opinion that is either different to their myopic views, or that they consider is in some way personally slanderous or insulting.  It seems these control freaks simply can’t stand it when someone has the audacity to stand up to them, and they view any comments that are not uplifting or a stroke to their egos as an attempt to undermine their authority rather than simply being someone else’s opinion!  Woe betide the person that attempts to make it public knowledge the wrongs these IRCops have inflicted on users of the network!

One of the most heinous acts these IRCops are guilty of is seizing control of chatrooms on the network in very dubious circumstances.  Indeed, they have been known to disperse all sorts of misinformation to garner support for their actions.  The most notable case, until 12 November, 2006, was the seizing in late 2005 of the room #Peers.20s.  Their official story was that the founder had come to them and asked them to take over the room as he no longer was interested in looking after it.

Well, I’m here to tell you that is one of the biggest lies of the century so far!

The founder of that room is a friend of mine, and the real story is this.  These IRCops deliberately seized control of the rooms and banned him from accessing the network because he dared argue with them about them idling in the room.  Having an IRCop idle in a chatroom is kind of like having a policeman sitting in the back seat of your car when you are driving.  The majority of chatters didn’t want them in there, and neither did the founder.  The room’s chatters took offence to the degree that they made quite a few disparaging remarks about the presence of these IRCops in the room.  The IRCops called the founder to their inner sanctum to ask him to tell the chatters to cease and desist.  His response was that he would ask people to be polite, but his policy was that the room was one where people were free to speak their minds on any topic and he wasn’t about to curtail that freedom.  He suggested that if they didn’t want to be insulted, then they should focus on what they are IRCops for and shouldn’t idle in the room and try to interfere in room management.  This went over none to well, and shortly thereafter the room’s founder discovered his access had been cut off and the lies had started circulating.

When they seized that room, they also deleted his chat nickname, and thereby all his other rooms disappeared as well.  Furthermore, by seizing control in the manner that they did all the room’s existing control staff (“hosts”) were deleted from the network records.  As IRCops, they had plenty of other ways of achieving their aim of taking control of the room without deleting the founder’s nickname.  Doing it as they did was sheer laziness, and done in haste for their own expediency.  The fact they didn’t re-instate the room’s host list is a good indication they didn’t want anyone associated with the previous founder having anything to do with the room.  Consider this – if the founder had indeed come to them and asked them to take over the room, wouldn’t he have simply given them the room password?  Furthermore, why remove all the existing hosts, the ones with the experience and knowledge of the room’s regular users?

Well, they’ve done it again – only this time they’ve taken a series of commercial rooms that are positioned by a major media group for their promotional purposes.  The person holding the founder status of these rooms on behalf of the media group also happens to be someone I know quite closely.  The scenario surrounding the seizure of these rooms is quite similar to that of the situation for #Peers.20s.  This person already held a low opinion of the IRCops abilities and that opinion is even stronger after this current turn of events.  What makes this latest seizure laughable is that the founder logged in from a different connection to speak to the IRCops about the ban, and spent some time in one of their so-called “Help” rooms (and the Help rooms on this network are something of a joke in the IRC fraternity as the IRCops technical and people skills are generally deplorable – take a look at this Bigpond IRCops article) talking to them at the end of which they agreed the founder was permitted to come back again whenever suitable to further discuss the ban situation.  The founder then spent the rest of the day quietly minding their own business in one of the media groups chat rooms, until one of the IRCops kicked the founder off the network (even though the founder had done nothing all day) for reasons still not known as they refuse to answer e-mails and the founder is unable to log on as he would be “evading a ban”.

And therein lies one of the ways they abuse their power.  How is an affected user to find out what they’ve done wrong or how to have a ban removed if the user cannot log on to the network, nor will the IRCops respond to e-mails?  It is only because of some information from other friendly sources that can connect to the network that the founder has discovered they have deleted the founder’s chat nickname, and thereby all the rooms are no longer registered.

In closing, let me just say that the above actions are undertaken in the main by a group of 3 of the network’s IRCops.  They use the chat nicknames sammee, megs, and merle.  These 3 megalomaniacs appear to have nothing better to do than try to inflict their will over the entire network and want to control everything and everyone, especially any room with a large number of users.

These people don’t understand their function is to serve and assist WHEN ASKED, not march around the server poking their noses into everyone else’s business.  As IRCops they should be concentrating on maintaining server security, not trying to maintain room operations and over-ride room founders.

They have to go!  Are you listening Sol?  GET RID OF THESE FOOLS!!

No rally to support Muslim cleric Sheik Taj Aldin Alhilali

The planned rally in Sydney today at the Lakemba mosque as a show of support for the embattled Sheik Taj Aldin Alhilali did not proceed.  It is being reported that his followers have heeded his request to call off the rally, and Tom Zreika, the president of the Lebanese Muslim Association (LMA) that administers the mosque, is quoted as saying he believed the furore over the Sheik’s recent comments (where he implied scantily dressed women deserved what they got if they were raped) was now “dead in the water”.

I suppose the fact that it is a cold, blustery, showery day in Sydney today didn’t have anything to do with it either?  What are the odds that the rally would have gone ahead if the weather had been more kind?  It’s also interesting how much people OTHER than the Sheik are back-pedalling on the Sheik’s behalf.  One woman is reported as saying that the Sheik believes the act of rape is one of the worst capital crimes in Islam.  That may be so, but why can’t he say it for himself?  Then again, he has so badly damaged his own credibility that such comments from him would be viewed with extreme cynicism by the rest of the Australian community.

And the furore is “dead in the water”? I think not Mr Zreika.  Sheik Alhilali clearly has offended all woman-kind with his comments, not merely non-Muslim women.  His anachronistic attitudes and comments are not in keeping with the Aussie way of life, and the Sheik would best serve his religion by standing aside and letting a cleric of more modern thinking take his place.

Australia is NOT a strict Muslim nation Sheik Alhilali, and I believe you should be preaching acceptance of others and their beliefs, and perhaps giving consideration as to how your church can adapt itself to modern society rather than trying to drag everyone back to the days of the origin of the Islamic faith.

P-platers copping a raw deal

Is it just me, or does the current media focus on P-plate drivers seem a little unfair?  It’s tough enough being a young, newly licensed driver without adding the pressure of almost constant media scrutiny and attack.  The majority of these drivers are responsible young adults, but driving in Sydney’s hectic traffic is not for the faint-hearted so is it any wonder that drivers with low levels of experience feature more highly in accident statistics?

And there lies part of what I believe is the crux of the matter – experience. 

The other thing that I believe contributes in no small way is the pathetic driver training given to these people.  The licensing system in NSW is pathetic – it simply teaches people how to pass a test.  It does absolutely nothing to teach people how to drive.  The government has attempted to make it look like it is doing something by introducing a longer period between application for a Learner’s Permit and sitting for a driver’s license, and requiring learner drivers to have a certain minimum number of hours behind the wheel and maintain a log book as evidence.  This system is so open to abuse, it’s laughable.  There is too much anecdotal evidence around to say that the stories of parents “fudging” their child’s log book hours are all untrue. 

Another thing that I find amazing is that, in NSW at least, non-english speaking applicants for a driver’s license are able to undertake the exams in their own language, a point I have commented on before.  This is simply appalling!  How are these non-english speaking people supposed to understand road signs, or verbal instructions from police or other officials?

Having watched members of my own family go through the NSW driver’s licensing system and then seen the result on the road, I made sure they received additional driver training of the same type that I did as a newly licensed driver in my teens.  I have always been a great supporter of the “schools” that employ professional drivers to teach responsible attitude, road awareness and crash avoidance skills, and the skills to regain control of a skidding or spinning motor vehicle.  It’s simply not possible to understand the dynamics of a car that is spinning or skidding on a wet or loose surface until you have actually experienced it.  A lot of accidents occur because drivers suddenly find themselves having to make an emergency stop for some reason, and they have never experienced what a skidding car feels like.  The result?  They become just another passenger in the car, frozen into inaction by their lack of knowledge and uselessly holding the steering wheel and waiting for the “ride” to stop.  That stop is invariably a hard one when they hit an immoveable object.

So, how do we improve the situation?  I don’t hold myself out to be a guru here, far from it.  However, I will suggest some steps that I think go a long way to alleviate the problems.

1. Get them early.  Start teaching our children proper attitudes from an early age.  This is a parental responsibility, so all you people with kids better realise that if you have bad habits, your kids are learning it right from the first time they travel in the car with you.  These lessons will stick with them for life.

2. More driver education programs in schools.  It seems to work well in the USA (one of the few good things to come from their education system it appears), so why shouldn’t it be done here?  Part of this education should involve lectures from Police Highway Patrol officers, including pictures of crash scenes with statistics like estimated speed of the vehicles, road conditions, etc, so that students can understand the link between these things, and how easily cars bend at relatively slow speeds.  As gruesome as it may sound, outings to hospital accident wards might also be valuable in providing a wake up call to them that they aren’t “bullet-proof”.

3. The log book system has a lot of merit as evidence of driving in conditions that aren’t ideal, such as in rain, fog, and/or at night, on roads with loose surfaces, etc.  However, it is clearly open to abuse in it’s present form.  Perhaps there could be some sort of electronic “log book” developed that at least provides evidence of time behind the wheel, although I expect this would require the co-operation of the car makers in providing a common interface for the “log-book” to be plugged in to the car.  The device would also require security features to prevent it’s data being falsified, things like bio-identification (a finger print pad or the like).

4. Compulsory attendance at a professional car control course where they learn, in a safe, controlled environment, what an out of control car feels like and what to do and NOT to do to bring the car back under control.  I’m not suggesting an advanced course where they learn high speed manoeuvres, simply a basic course focussed on road awareness and crash avoidance, with a back up of skid control techniques.  In fact, might I go so far as to suggest they do such a course twice before attaining a full license?  Once when on their L-plates prior to obtaining their red P-plates, then again as part of the application for a full license at the end of their green P-plate period.

5. This idea could be used across the board for all drivers, P-plate or full license.  Develop a system of positive reinforcement.  Why not award additional license points to drivers with good driving histories?  I’m sure a suitable formula could be worked out, perhaps half a point for every year without an infringement notice or other driving related penalty?  This would give drivers more reason to aspire to better driving skills and road behaviour.  Taking this one step further, award additional points to drivers that take regular refresher courses at driver training courses and/or that voluntarily re-sit the driving license exams as proof they are keeping up with road rules.

C’mon people, let’s help our kids with positive support, not hinder them with ever more repressive rules and regulations.

Addenda:
This article appeared on the Sydney Morning Herald web site on 4/11/2006:
http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/another-pplater-death-on-roads/2006/11/04/1162340087261.html

The government’s proposals won’t help.  The system needs drastic change, not band-aid solutions.