They say that "still waters run deep".    Those that know me will know that although Im quiet on the surface there is a lot going on underneath which most people don't see. I think deeply about issues and form my own opinions - sometimes I'm serious, and sometimes, its just for fun. Sadly it seems that many people dont think enough, and my opinions often catch them unaware...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

No News is good news

I havnt been keeping my blogs updated recently. My bad... but at the same time, I also cant recall anything that has happened in the last few months which would piss me off enough to write about it here. In this blog at least, the old saying "No news is good news" is probably true.

I still have a few old articles to retrieve and I will get to them one day. They will be added to the archives soon - perhaps with a link to them from a recent post to let readers know when old articles have been added.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Your government wants to gross you out!

In an article on ABC News Online, titled "AMA Urges Ban On Cigarette Packet Covers" the Australian Medical Association and the federal government want to ban cigarette cases because they see them as a way to obscure the totally gross pictures which they are now forcing manufacturers to print on cigarrette packets.

Damm right!!

I smoke. I know the risks. I dont need to be reminded every time I light up - I have a longer attention span than that - and if they think Im comfortable being forced to see disgusting images of rotten gums or diseased eyes, they are insane!! We go to great lengths to prevent kids from seeing such images on the net or TV, yet now they will be everywhere. When was the last time you saw a discarded cigarette packet on the street?

The government see the sudden rise in sales of cigarette cases as "profiteering", yet they have been around in one form or another for a very long time. Originally they were a luxury, a sign of affluence and style. Now they are simply nescessary, and smokers everywhere want one. Its just supply meeting demand.

To legislate that cases or covers must have the same disgusting images printed on them is like trying to legislate what colour shoes we must wear. Once we have bought the cigarettes, its nobodys business how we then choose to store or carry them.

If you think the pictures on packs are bad, wait until you see the commercials on television. One came on last night while my wife (a non-smoker) and I were having dinner. She was grossed out by the images of a gangrenous leg about to be surgically removed. There are now statistically more non-smokers than smokers out there. How do they expect them to react to these commercials?

Movies containing violence or horror depicted with latex props and special effects are rated by censors and given a later time slot, but these so called "community service" commercials are unrated and free to show the real thing. How does that work ???

Dont get me wrong. I know smoking is bad for you, but its my choice to continue, and I do so for my own reasons. I welcome efforts to reduce the number of people who take up the habit, but I stop short of wanting to turn the stomachs of smokers and non-smokers alike.

You can rest assured that no matter what the government does I will not put up with these images - even if it means I have to wrap my cigarette packets in masking tape.

Personally, I'd rather opt for a stylish case to hold my smokes, but if thats not an option...

Update: 17th September, 2006

These ads have now been appearing on the back of busses for several weeks. You can imagine the size I am talking about. Next time you feel car sick, pull over and let the bus ahead of you dissapear into the distance.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Biometric Warfare

I decided a couple of years ago that I would never visit America. This is despite having friends and relatives there, and having wanted to visit California, New York, and a few other places for many many years, just to do the tourist thing.


Because I dont believe they need to take my fingerprints and photograph just for a short holiday visit to their country.

Im a law abiding citizen in my home country of Australia (which is a good friend to America), and also when I travel, yet here is a country that wants to fingerprint me like a suspected criminal before I can even enter, and then store my data in a database which they will later search, looking for criminals and terrorists.

We all know how accurate their intelligence and information gathering systems are - especially when they are looking for "Weapons of Mass Deception".

Just being in that database is a scary thought. What if they pull out my record in some kind of error and label me as a terrorist?? Stranger things have happened!!

Fine, no big deal, I just wont go there. End of problem.

Today, I read in the news that Japan has passed a bill to allow them to do the same thing.

That's a problem. My wife is Japanese, and I like Japan. We have family there, and Im sure we will be travelling to and from Japan for many years to come. Its unavoidable. I cant just decide not to go there, like I can with America, and still maintain a happy marriage, and good relationship with wife and family.

Here's the thing. Only foriegners are subject to this. Citizens and permanant residents do not need to provide fingerprints when they travel. These countries would never think - even for a minute - of trying to fingerprint their own law abiding citizens. The people wouldnt allow it, and the govenment would not last past the next election. It would be a huge issue!! Australia has been through this already, with the proposal of a national ID card, which was quickly and firmly rejected by the people. Yet these countries are quite happy to force this on foriegners, who have no choice but to accept it, and no power to prevent it.

The surprising thing is that this has forced me to completely reverse my thinking on biometrics and fingerprinting of foriegn visitors. Ive done a complete 180! Bring it on!!

While I completely disagree with having to provide my fingerprints to a foriegn government, when my own government does not even have the right to them unless I am first suspected of a crime, I now fully support the Australian Government in any attempt to introduce similar measures.

Our only defence to this practice which is starting to spread across the world is a retaliatory strike. This may even be the underlying reason why Japan has recently gone down this road.

If they want to fingerprint us, then we should fingerprint them. There is nothing else we can do. We dont have any rights in the countries that are doing this. We have no voice. No one speaks up for us. The only thing we can do is show their people the discomfort that we are feeling, by subjecting them to the same treatment.

Perhaps then the people will understand and not allow their governments to persue such practices, either domestically, or where foriegners are concerned.

Update: 23rd May, 2006

If you think mix-ups dont happen, take a look at this news item from 22nd May:

Mix-up brands innocent citizens as criminals

The British government, already under pressure over a series of blunders in its immigration and prison services, has confirmed it wrongly branded around 1,500 innocent people as criminals due to a computer mix-up.

It said the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB), which carries out checks on people who have applied for jobs working with children or vulnerable adults, had confused the innocent people with convicted criminals because they had similar or identical names.

The names were stored on a police database....

"We make no apology for erring on the side of caution. We are talking about the protection of children and vulnerable adults," a Home Office spokesman said.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Leave me out of it!!

I dont like taking drugs of any kind, not even pain killers or cold remedies that you can buy at any local supermarket, so when I walk into a pharmacy to buy medication you can be assured that I have given it a lot of thought. At the moment I have a head cold, the worst part of which is the stuffy and runny nose. I dont have a headache or sore throat, so I have no need for those "one tablet fixes all" combination cold remedies - I just want my nose to stop running. In the past, I have always used Sudafed to fix this, and have never had any problem obtaining it. I dont get colds often, perhaps only once every couple of years, so its not very often that I need to buy it.

I was completely surprised today when I stopped at my local chemist on the way to work, to find that they didnt even stock it - I mean, its a common over the counter sinus medication. No matter, I decided to try another chemist down the road. They too didnt stock it. I started thinking that this was really strange. At the second chemist, the girl I spoke to seemed a little lost by my request, so I repeated it, only to hear a firm "We dont stock it Sir" from the pharmacist who was at the other end of the shop. "Fine." I said, and walked out.

There are not many pharmacies between my home and my bus stop, but I decided to go out of my way and try a third. I really didnt want my nose running all day at work... it can be quite disgusting when you sneeze unexpectedly - not to mention embarrasing.

At the third pharmacy, I could see the Sudafed behind the counter. By this stage I was already late for work, and my next bus was due in just a couple of minutes... I was in a hurry, so that I could catch my bus, and not have to wait over half an hour for the next one. The pharmacist asked me if I had a heart condition. "No, just a stuffy nose", was my reply. Am I on any other medication? "No, I generally avoid it". Have I considered a nasal spray? "Look, I dont have time for this!" was my reply, and everything went down hill from there.

The pharmacist was very reluctant to sell me a single pack of sudafed, despite my sniffling and watery eyes. Ive been using Sudafed to fix a stuffy nose (when required) for over 20 years. This is its intended purpose and I have never found it so hard to obtain before. She asked me for identification? What the?? Fine, I dont have time for this, get on with it. She very slowly entered my ID into her computer. I resented the fact that I had to provide ID, and I said so. She stopped whatever she was doing and started explaining that they ask everyone for ID when they buy certain drugs. This was news to me. She started explaining and naming the various chemicals in the tablets. I didnt need a long explanation and asked her to get on with it. At this point she was very close to refusing to sell me the Sudafed at all.

She asked for my address. "Is that a legal requirement?" I asked. She stopped again and started with the explanations. I had a bus to catch. "Fine, fine, just do it". I said, and gave her my address. Finally after something like 10 minutes I left the store, with the pack of Sudafed that would make my day at work a little more comfortable, and a lot less embarrasing. I noticed later that my full name and address was printed on the reciept, which I would now have to destroy thoughtfully, rather than just toss in a bin somewhere.

I missed my bus, which was already the next one after the one I had intended to catch, making me an hour later than I had initially planned.

All of this is apparently due to new laws restricting the sale of Sudafed and a few other medications, due to them also being used to make illegal drugs such as speed or ice. Thats all well and good, but I dont use drugs. I simply have a cold and need some medication. Pharmacies have stopped stocking the specified medications, presumably due to the hassles and irate customers, making them even harder to obtain, and when you finally do find somewhere that stock them, you have to provide identification for something that was previously an over the counter cash sale.

Sudafed was previously a Schedule 2 (S2) medicine, but now has a Schedule 3 classification, meaning that only the pharmacist can sell it to you (shop assistants are not allowed to sell it). Ive also read news articles that suggest it will soon be classified as Schedule 4, meaning that you will need a prescription from a doctor! Great. I really need to pay $45 for 5 minutes of a doctors time so that I can then buy a $15 pack of tablets, which I already know will relieve my symptoms.

Its great that the government wants to crack down on people making illegal drugs, but what about the rest of us? These so-called backyard chemists buy several packs at a time. Surely buying just one, to treat your cold shouldnt require all the extra hassle, looks of suspicion, and twenty questions before also having to provide ID!

I fully support the fight against illegal drugs, but leave me out of it! I am not part of it, and should not be treated with suspicion merely because I want to relieve the symptoms of my cold!!!

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Can't get a "foot long" sub at Subway

Every now and then I drop in to Subway on my way home to grab one of their sandwiches. I normally order a foot long sub, which in case you dont know Subway, is made on a 12 inch long bread roll. Its right there on their menu. They also make subs in a 6 inch version, as well.

Now, when I order something on a foot long roll, I expect it to be a foot long, but the geniuses at my local Subway (and probably yours too) cut it in half, every time, without so much as asking my preference, essentially making it two 6 inch rolls.

What's up with that?

I didnt ask for two 6 inch rolls, I asked for a foot long roll. If I ordered a large coffee, I wouldnt expect it to be served in two regular size cups, so why give me my sub that way?

Its just plain wrong. If I ordered two 6 inch subs it would cost me $3 more according to their price list, yet thats what I get for the cost of a foot long version. I bet if I ordered it the way they serve it, they'd charge me the extra three bucks.

Subway make great sandwiches. When you're looking forward to a nice big sandwich, its kind of dissapointing to end up with a couple of small ones.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Today really sucked

No really. It did.

It started with the driver of the 393 bus on my way to work this morning, and didnt let up until I got home.

First there was the bus driver that let my girlfriend on to the bus, and then promptly closed the doors as I moved to follow her. I ran down to the next stop since he got stuck in the traffic waiting for the lights to change, and even though I got there before he did, he went right past me. Many thanks to the driver of the 395 ahead of him who saw this and waited for me even though I had waved him on so I could catch the 393 at the second stop.

Then there was the guy at work who thinks that localhost is a good name for a DNS listed machine with a real IP address. Ive wasted 3 days trying to get localhost to resolve to How this guy got to be the DNS admin for the USA region of my global employers network is beyond me. Thankfully the Australian DNS admin had a clue, and fixed it.

Later, there was the pedantic little security guard who told me that despite being outdoors in a rather large open area, at least fifty feet from the nearest building and far from the nearest non-smoker, that I had to move about 20 feet further on to the tiny "designated smoking area" in the corner. I guess some people need to excercise what little power they have in order to feel important.

Finally there was the guy who implemented my change request the way he thought it should be done, rather than how I specified it should be done, without advising me. It was a simple scheduling change. He told me that I couldnt tell him how I want my jobs to be scheduled because the scheduling package was his toy, and that I should just tell him what I want scheduled and leave the rest to him. He didnt want to hear why I asked for them to be scheduled the way I did, and finally hung up on me when I asked him to send his response to me in writing.

Just thought I'd share.