Let me tell you / how it will be / There’s one for you / nineteen for me …

Ooh-ooh I’m the taxman.

Ken Henry is a dude from Taree.  He likes wombats.  He is also the head of the Treasury.  The Treasurer asked him to do a big old review into what’s what in the tax system, and what we should do next.

Continue reading Let me tell you / how it will be / There’s one for you / nineteen for me …

What to do with a Southern Cross tattoo?

There’s a handful of stars that are very very far from each other, but when you look from a certain place we call earth, they make the shape of a cross.

Continue reading What to do with a Southern Cross tattoo?

Free Alcohol

If you could get alcohol for free, what would happen?

I thought so.  But this was a thought experiment, not a party invite.  Consider this: the Government bans alcohol and then makes it available for free at pharmacies, in regulated doses to registered people.  Kind of like some people propose for illegal narcotics. What would happen?  Would we still drink? Would alcohol still have allure? Continue reading Free Alcohol

Haiti and three kinds of development aid

Haiti was hit by an earthquake of magnitude 7.0 last week.  The death toll estimate in this morning’s newspaper stands at 200,000.  We can only hope that the estimate cycle is at its peak, and it will be revised down later.

Earthquakes registering on the Richter Scale at 7.0 are rare but not unheard of.  There were 16 Earthquakes of this magnitude or more in 2009.  Six people died in Japan when an earthquake measuring 6.8 hit there recently.  The  disaster is as much the poverty and ill-rule in Haiti.

Continue reading Haiti and three kinds of development aid

Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal looks like this.
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It’s a mausoleum, which means there’s dead people in there.  Dead person number 1 is Mumtaz Mahal.  Mumtaz was the wife of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, and he built the Taj Mahal for the sole purpose of housing her dead body.  He really liked her a lot.  Then, when he died, his son installed him in there alongside his lady.  The Emperor was the second and final person stowed in there. Continue reading Taj Mahal

Cheap property

People of my age tend not to own property. But, increasingly, they want to.

Here’s what you get for a smigden under $800,000 in North Fitzroy:

Here’s what you can get for a smidgen under  $200,000 in Ballarat: Continue reading Cheap property

Campaign: Ride like you walk!

I ride a lot.  When I ride for fun,  I wear sports clothes, avoid the city, and go fast.

I also ride to get to places, and when I do, I wear the clothes I want to wear at my destination.  Sometimes this means I’m riding in jeans, sometimes I’m wearing a suit, sometimes boardshorts and thongs (i.e. flip-flops).

And when I’m riding in my suit, people go past me.   I want to tell them it’s not a race, I’m not playing your game, I’m not even trying.  But they looks so smug.

Continue reading Campaign: Ride like you walk!

On ‘The Road’

At 1am last night, as Melbourne sweltered through its warmest ever night, ( a minimum of 30.6 degrees celsius was reached only at 8.49am), I picked up ‘The Road’ by Cormac McCarthy.

As the temperature gradually dropped through the 30s I plowed through his post-apocalyptic, grey, dark and snowy book. By 4.30 am I finished the last page.

Cormac McCarthy was born in 1933, and his 76 years on earth have gifted him a particularly bleak outlook. I was familiar with his work only by having seen the film No Country for Old Men. Which may have been the most powerfully horrible, morally destabilising film I have ever seen.

So I was prepared for the book’s epic-scale serving of bleak. I’d guess no book I ever read  had the word ‘grey’ in it so many times. A man and his son traverse a post apocalyptic land (probably, but not identifiably, America) along a road full of the hopeless, the starving and the violent. The Road. Continue reading On ‘The Road’

Rolls Royce Drivers are Baby Killers

You can say this for capitalism. It’s a civilising influence.

Back in the day, when people wanted to demonstrate their power, they’d sack a few local villages, slaughter the menfolk, and hang the plundered booty from the ramparts.

The modern-day descendants of these megalomaniacs are calling for more market research, making the logistics budget lean, and driving a Mercedes.

It could be a lot worse. Demonstrating your power by compelling a factory-full of Germans (with compulsory superannuation and health insurance) to do eight-hour days until your new SLK is ready is not such an ill.

But as our civilisation become more civilised, our moral quandaries grow more subtle. Continue reading Rolls Royce Drivers are Baby Killers

Flaky Myki

Even though the Metcard is probably the last functional vestige of the public transport system, it is to be severed. Its replacement is a malformed, grossly over-priced, hideous new appendage.

Maybe I’m being a bit unfair. I don’t know if the new system will work or not. But I have my doubts… Continue reading Flaky Myki

Racial Violence

Melbourne is in the midst of an epidemic of racial violence.  Maybe.

In recent times, a number of Indian people have been attacked. Last week Nitin Garg, a 21-year-old Indian man was killed in Yarraville.

I’ll admit it.  Australia is racist.  Let’s go back to Cronulla beach and the southern cross supermen. There’s enough racism in the city and suburbs to provide for a racially motivated attack.

The circumstantial evidence is circling this event like a pack of ravenous sharks.  Are we going to let the narrative of racial hatred consume this latest event? or does logic demand that we see if we can wrest it from its jaws? Continue reading Racial Violence

# Bling-a-Ding-Ding #

Bling isn’t for everyone.  The Atlantic reports that University of Chicago economists found that black families spent 25 % more on BMWs, finger-rings and Yves Saint Laurent than a white family of the same demographic.

Each day, this blog is forged within the solid gold frame of this very macbook.

They tested this finding out in a bunch of other circumstances.  They found rich white people in South Carolina spent far more on bling than those in California.  A theory started to emerge.

Conspicuous consumption is stronger among people from social groups that are on average, poorer.    It’s why Jay-Z video’s have Rolls Royces in them. He’s from the projects.  It might explain why the Chinese are so keen to buy cars. It could even explain why, back in the day this lady’s great-great-great-grandfather thought it would be totally sweet to have a hat made of gold. Suck on that, peasants!

Continue reading # Bling-a-Ding-Ding #

The price of anarchy / The magic of roundabouts

Anarchy comes with a price.  Lawyers, economists and political scientists believe this.  This is what drives the congresses and senates and cabinets and presidents to make laws.

Continue reading The price of anarchy / The magic of roundabouts

Thomas the Grinch Engine

Christmas.  The time of goodwill to all is in reality a great boon for the forces of stress, unhappiness and unmet expectations.

One source expressed their yuletide sentiments thus:

Do they expect this to continue for ever?  The dread, the hate, the boredom?  Every year, until we die?

You could deck a lot of halls with that much ennui.  Continue reading Thomas the Grinch Engine