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Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

World of Warcraft is five years old.

If you log on over the next few days there is a free pet, the Onyxia Whelpling.

But even more fun are the Mohawk Grenades:

Absolutely tasteless, but beautifully done and hilarious, the real Australia:

Well, no more tasteless than that other Australian tourism promotion.

 From the Epic Fail blog (link below) via Mark Shea (link on the right), just because it’s funny. 

epic fail pictures
see more Epic Fails

Firstly, for his gushingly warm congratulations to Barack Obama on his totally unmerited win of the Nobel Peace Prize:

By awarding you its most prestigious prize, the Committee is rewarding your determined commitment to human rights, justice and spreading peace across the world, in accordance with the will of its founder Alfred Nobel. It also does justice to your vision of tolerance and dialogue between States, cultures and civilizations. Finally, it sets the seal on America’s return to the heart of all the world’s peoples.

Setting the seal on America’s return to the heart of all the world’s peoples?    Oh, puh-leese….

And secondly, for being the first head of state publicly to criticise the arrest of Roman Polanski on child rape charges.

Whoopi Goldberg’s angle on this was, well, hey, it probably wasn’t rape, and anyway, he’s one of us, you know creative genius  Hollywood film people, so it’s OK.

One expects that sort of thing from the zombies of Hollywood. Apparently we must now expect a similarly dimwitted level of thinking about justice from heads of state.

Sarkozy’s view appears to be that if a criminal runs away and avoids any punishment for his or her crime, then after a while we should just forget about the whole thing, and politely pretend it didn’t happen.

Seriously.

I wrote earlier this year about the Kangaroo Island Council’s decision to partner with the Federal Government in a scheme to subsidise the installation of solar panels on houses on the island.

About 200 households applied for and will receive grants of $8,000 for solar panels which will produce about 100 watts of electricity per hour. During daylight hours. On a good day.

So taxpayers have paid about $1.6 million to generate enough electricity on Kangaroo Island to run an extra 200 lighbulbs (or globes if you prefer) while the sun is shining.

Does anyone seriously think this is the most efficient way we could spend money and resources to generate electricity?

Total PC Gaming Magazine reports in issue 22 that the 11 million World of Warcraft players around the world, including individual players’ computers, servers, and data transmission, use about 6.6 gigawatts of electricity each day. About the same amount of power each day as was generated by solar panels worldwide for the whole of last year.

That does not mean that WoW players are a selfish bunch of wasters. It just means that solar power is an expensive toy, and will never be a realistic alternative to fossil fuel, hydro-electric, or nuclear electricity generation.

Dudley Moore:

Victor Borge:

I know, I’ve said it a thousand times before, almost all subsidies are a waste of time, and end up costing more than any benefit they provide.

There are three reasons:

First, if you are getting a subsidy, you don’t have to worry so much about careful planning, or financial responsibility (because someone else – the taxpayer, usually – is picking up the bills), or whether anyone will like or buy what you produce. In other words, subsidies enourage a lack of efficiency, and the production of goods and services which nobody wants.

Secondly, subsidies are inefficient. Subsidies mean taking money off some people and giving it to other people at the whim of a politician or lobby group. This bad enough, but the process itself, its planning, administration and record-keeping, all cost time and money – which means substantially more money is taken from the taxpayer than ends up in the hands of the recipient. In some instances, the cost of assessing a person or group’s eligibility for a subsidy is more than the value of the subsidy itself.

Thirdly, subsidies (and food and clothing and other material aid, except in the most dire emergencies) discourage potentially viable businesses, and therefore discourage investment of both time and money in creativity, in business, in research and industry. The long term consequence of this is that businesses, artists, causes, etc, that might be successful on their own merits are disadvantaged.

In developing nations, local business people cannot compete with shiploads of food and clothing aid. So the West’s generous subsidies mean local people have no incentive to invest in developing the primary production, trade and industry which produce long-term wealth.

In relation to art, it is sometimes argued that good art is not necessarily commercial. Something may not sell well, and yet be worthy of support.

But who decides this? If no-one wants something enough to pay money for it, on what basis is it judged to be good?

I cannot think of a single piece of visual art or music, or a play or film that people have wanted and enjoyed, or which has shown itself to have lasting value, which depended on subsidies for its production.

On the other hand, there are hundreds of talented artists, musicians and playwrights who stand on their own feet, and who have made the world a more interesting place, by showing us truth or beauty or meaning where we had not seen it before.

My friend Neil Sheppard is one. Neil makes a good living from producing good paintings – that is, paintings that say something worthwhile, and that people enjoy enough to be willing to pay for.

Neil’s (Shep’s) website is on visualartist.info, but you can see more of his work on Flickr.

Enjoy!

Read this column by Jeremy Clarkson for the fun of it. It’s just a silly story about not realising how hot a bottle of hot sauce was going to be.

But in passing, it makes a point I have thought about a few times – that the result of the proliferation of product warnings on every imaginable product is that the few we need to take note of get lost in the blur.

A few examples of amusing, silly or pointless product warnings.

I know, it sounds like an oxymoron. But it might just be true.

I haven’t seen Paul Hogan’s new film Charlie and Boots yet. Philppa Martyr has, and has written an intelligent and amusing review, full of praise for what she says is an intelligent and well made film. Two of the things she enjoyed about it were its good-naturedness, and its lack of self-consciousness and preaching. Yet the film does have some worthwhile things to say.

Astonishingly, Margaret Pomeranz and David thingy both enjoyed it too. I just hope that doesn’t put too many people off.

The two major Australian grocery retailers are both currently running offensively sexist ads.

The Coles ad is the less offensive of the two. ‘You shouldn’t be taxed for being a woman’ it says. So Coles will pay the GST on the whole range of feminine hygiene products.

How nice. I don’t think I should be taxed for being a man, either. So why aren’t they paying the GST on shaving products, or hair restoring products?

I also don’t think I should be taxed for having to eat, or having to wear clothes, but I doubt any retailer is going to say ‘Well that’s unfair, we”ll pay the GST on life’s essentials.’

Women spend most of the family income, so it is natural that retailers should target advertising to women. But suggesting that women are somehow being victimised by the taxation system, and that they, Coles, are bravely and generously remedying this injustice is dishonest nonsense.

The Woolworths ad is even worse.

A woman is making scones. She talks about the ingredients, and then says that recipe doesn’t say anything about fancy packaging. Then she looks at her husband, and says ‘I’ve never been worried about fancy packaging.’

Imagine the uproar if the ad went like this instead:

A bloke is in his toolshed. He says that every tool is in its place, and every tool has its purpose. He adds that tools don’t need fancy packaging, and then looks at his wife and says ‘I’ve never been worried about fancy packaging.’

People would recognise this for what it was – a deliberate putdown. They would complain. And they would be right to do so.

So why is it OK for advertisers to belittle men?

Possibly one of the cutest things you will ever see:

Crop circles with an appealing Mayan theme have appeared in Wiltshire. On second thoughts, I’m not sure that the phoenix is part of Mayan mythology (it’s Persian).

Phoenix Themed Crop Circle

Phoenix Themed Crop Circle

But the whole ‘The Mayans believed the world would end in 2012’ thing is too cool to pass up.

Actually the Mayans don’t seem to have believed that, it is just that their calendar ticks over then, like an odometer.

But there are some odd references to gods returning then, so who knows?  Well, one reference. And it’s fragmentary. But that probably just means someone tried to hide it. Or something.

This is an even more interesting circle:

Pi Crop Circle

Pi Crop Circle

It is a geometric representation of the first ten digits of Pi.

Whatever else all this means, it certainly means that there are some people in Wiltshire with mathematical and artistic talent, decent lawnmowers, and plenty of time on their hands.

One by Dennis Prager on the cowardice of Hollywood, and why you should go and see The Stoning Of Soraya M.

And one by Christina Hoff Summers (and yes the articles are related) on the entrenched dishonesty of contemporary academic feminism.

I never paid much attention to Farah Fawcett. I wasn’t fond of Charlie’s Angels, and when I did watch it, enjoyed Kate Jackson more.

Farah was indeed beautiful, and was an actress of considerable ability. But those are not the most important things about who she was.

Years ago I watched Brideshead Revisited with Jeremy Irons and Laurence Olivier. I had read the book as a teenager and loved it. The series was as good as the book – and that is saying something.

The climax of the story is when Lord Marchmain, who has violently rejected the Catholic faith in which he was raised, is lying on his death bed, and at the last moment, makes the sign of the cross.

That scene brought tears to my eyes. It told us that hope and redemption were possible, only a step away, no matter how far we might have strayed.

Now watch this video news story about Farah Fawcett:

Tears again, even though I did not know her. Hope and redemption and joy.

The most important thing about Farah Fawcett was that she was a woman of faith.

Rest eternal grant to her, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon her.

Michael Jackson has died of a heart attack. he was fifty. The same age as me.

He was a bit of a Peter Pan, always seeming young, despite the ghastly plastic surgery.

The last several years have been difficult for him, with accusations of child abuse followed by declining income.

People with high public visibility are easy targets. An accusation of child abuse is enough to destroy a career.

This gives money seeking predators enormous power. All that is needed is to arrange for a child to be alone with the star for a few minutes, and that is enough to have a basis for blackmail.

‘Give me $2 million or I’ll go to the police.’

Because there is no way to prove something did not happen, and people are so willing to believe the worst, it may seem easier for a high profile personality to pay the money. Then if that gets out, the celebrity magazines take it as proof of guilt.

Of course some celebrities really are drug abusing, child molesting monsters. I don’t think it is fair to Michael to assume he was – there is not enough evidence to make that judgment.

But there is enough evidence to be thankful for his contribution to music and dance.

It became fashionable to dislike his music after ‘Bad’ (which really wasn’t). But you only have to watch the videos of ‘Beat It’  (from ‘Thriller, the biggest selling album of all time) or ‘Black or White’ (the biggest selling single of the nineties), to realise that he was an entertainer who was genuinely creative, and genuinely entertaining.

Requiscat in Pace.