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Former Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Downer has told Australians planning to travel overseas to grow up and take some responsibility.

After about 10 minutes as foreign minister I was a little surprised to learn I was “responsible” for miscreant Australians who got into trouble in foreign countries.  No, no, no, don’t get it wrong – drug traffickers, drunks, kleptomaniacs and fraudsters weren’t responsible for their own stupidity – I was.

It’s about time that great nanny in Canberra, the Federal Government, turned around and told people they are responsible for their own decisions.

Mr Downer goes on to say that of course Australia will always be there to help Australians in real trouble, especially in circumstances over which they have no control, and could not reasonably have predicted.

But even then, he notes, the response of many is not an expression of thanks, but more complaining:

I couldn’t help remembering the awful events in those same places three years ago when Israel went to war with Hezbollah.

There were said to be 20,000 Australians in Lebanon at that time and a hefty percentage of them were demanding the Australian Government save them and fast.

Lebanese support groups hit the airwaves screaming that the Government was too slow getting those Australians who wanted to be evacuated to safety. But hang on, Australia’s about 15,000km from Lebanon and we don’t dock ships in the eastern Mediterranean ready to ferry Australians to safety.

And there was something else. We’d issued a travel advisory months earlier warning Australians of the dangers of southern Lebanon and the risks of going there.

It didn’t matter – apparently we had to get them out.

We were lucky. The Australian ambassador, a petite, charming professional called Lyndall Sachs, worked day and night chartering ferries and providing comfort to the evacuees, who hadn’t cared about the travel advisories, and whisked them to safety.

It was one of the great achievements of an Australian diplomat. Almost single handedly, she managed to get around 5000 Australians to Cyprus and Turkey.

We then chartered planes to take them back to Australia. I hope they built shrines to her. Some did, at least metaphorically.

But some just whinged. They felt seasick on the ferry and that was our fault. Could they get frequent flyer points for the free flight back to Australia? And all this cost around $30 million dollars – your dollars.

I’ll tell you this – I didn’t get 5000 emails of thanks but I got plenty of abuse because we weren’t fast enough, the ferries didn’t go from their port of choice and we were slow because we were racist, and so on. I mean, we’d warned them and told them not to go to the south of Lebanon. They went all the same. And when the proverbial hit the fan it was, you guessed it, “our fault”.

It is a well thought out, well written and amusing article. Read the whole thing.

Swaziland has one of the highest rates of HIV infection in the world.

Swaziland politican Timothy Myeni has suggested that HIV testing should be compulsory, and that citizens testing positive for HIV should be branded on their buttocks.

“I have a solution to this virus. The solution will come from a law that will make it compulsory to test for HIV. Once you test positive, you should be branded on the buttocks. Before having sex with anyone, people will check the buttocks of their partners before proceeding.”

Most HIV sufferers catch the disease because of choices they make about their sexual behaviour. They have HIV because they would not be responsible, would not keep their pants on.

I feel deeply sorry for HIV sufferers. AIDS is a terrible disease, and a terrible price to pay for a few stupid decisions.

But it is still true that the disease is most often a consequence of irresponsibility, irresponsibility that generally does not stop even after a person knows he or she is infected.

Whatever Swaziland has been doing so far has not been working. Myeni’s plan could work. It could even save some lives.

Naturally there is massive outrage.

Another one to add to the bleeding obvious list.

Government grants (ie, giving other people’s money) to new home owners, amount to $21,000.

Because they have a larger deposit, (sometimes the grant is their only deposit) first home buyers are able to arrange larger loans. Which they are often unable to afford.

The average loan size for first-home buyers has risen by $52,000 – or 23 per cent – in the past two years, raising fears that the much-publicised government incentives for young buyers are artificially inflating the market.

Imagine governments encouraging people to take out home loans they can’t afford. Why, if they’re not careful that could cause some problems, maybe.

In addition, throwing tax payer funds at the housing market causes inflation, so that in many cases the total cost of a new home is more than it would have been if the government had minded its own business, not handed out unecessary grants, and saved my tax dollars for something useful.

Who was it who said the only thing we learn from history is that no one learns anything from history?

You know all those annoying hoax anti-virus messages that people used to send around?

They described in breathless terms some new virus which antivirus products could not remove, which would cause your hard to crash, losing all your data unrecoverably.

Now there is a virus which almost matches that description.

virut ce can cause serious problems with key Windows system files, making your computer impossible to use. For example, disabling the Windows interface so you cannot access the task bar, start button, icons, etc, disabling internet access, Windows key functions and task manager.

And it is extremely, and I mean extremely, difficult to remove. It sometimes infects necessary Windows files which have to be deleted. Even if your anti-virus can remove the infection, and many commercial products cannot,  you may be left with a computer which will not start again without help.

I strongly suggest not using p2p programmess until standard anti-virus programmes can find and remove this virus. Stay away from porn sites. Be more than normally careful with web browsing and with opening email attachments.

Some removal tools:

Symantec Fix Virut

AVG Remove Virut

Dutch chemist Dr Hans Schreuder drew on the work of a number of climate and other scientists in his address to the Northern Ireland Climate Change Committee, which is considering legislative controls of ‘greenhouse gas’ emissions.

The UN’s IPCC bases its dire forecasts on nothing more than computer models that regard the earth as a flat disk bathed in a constant 24 hour haze of sunlight, without north and south poles, without clouds and without any relationship to the real planet we live on.

Despite much rhetoric and research over the past two decades, there is still not a single piece of actual evidence that the now-maligned carbon dioxide molecule causes global warming (or “climate change”).

Any and all schemes to reduce carbon dioxide emissions are futile in terms of having an effect on reducing global temperatures or affecting the climate and any and all carbon trading exchanges are a fraudulent exercise amounting to no more than hidden taxation.

If this Committee does come to the conclusion that emission controls need to be imposed upon the people of Northern Ireland in order to make a difference to global temperatures, then it will have failed to a substantial degree in understanding the issues in hand.

I have said repeatedly over the last several years that the key question is whether there is any evidence of a correlation between human output of CO2 and changes in global climate. The answer is that there is not and never has been any such evidence.

via Ice Age Now, which also notes hundreds of low temperature records around the world over the last few months, reports of which have been strangely missing from the mainstream media.

You can imagine the headlines and warming hysteria if it were hundreds of high temperature records!

Ice Age Ending - Our Fault

Ice Age Ending - Our Fault

From memory, those are the opening words of M. Scott Peck’s book The Road Less Travelled.

It is true, of course. And the more you try to achieve, the truer it seems to be.

Rambling for a minute. When I was a teenager I remember reading a story about a woman in the US who had sued her local men’s baseball team. They had discriminated against her by refusing to let her join. She won. It was America, after all.

After playing two games, she was struck and slightly injured by a fast pitch. She promptly sued the club again, this time for failing to take account of the fact that she was a woman, and therefore had slower reaction times. Even at the age of fourteen, this struck me as the perfect example of the women’s movement in practice.

Feminists want to be treated like men, but when they are treated like men, they complain bitterly.

Men are competitive. They constantly test each other. And it is not hard to understand why. If you are going out hunting mammoth, or fighting the Viet Cong, or trying to win a critical contract for your firm, you need to know that the person next to you can take the strain. This is the purpose of ‘hazing.’

Testing gives you confidence in your own strength, and that of your fellows. While hazing can sometimes  trip over into bullying, it is not a bad thing in itself. I would not be confident on a battlefield with a buddy who burst into tears if someone laughed at the ladders in her stockings, or who complained about breaking a nail while on basic training.

Women (again generalising) test each other in different ways. When they choose to place themselves in a predominantly male environment, the prestigious world of garbage collection, for example, and are treated by men as those men treat one another, women often seem to interpret this as being picked on, belittled, put down. In fact, it should be taken as a compliment. The male workers are assuming that she can be one of them, that she can work on an equal basis.

This interpretation of equal treatment as unfair can be particularly evident in the workplace.

Again, to ramble for a minute, I worked in a bookshop where some books were stacked on high shelves. To reach them for customers or to restock, staff had to stand on a small step ladder. The female staff refused to do this, because people would be able to see their knickers. The same applied to changing lightbulbs, dusting, etc.

When I suggested that they knew this was part of the job, and that they should therefore dress appropriately, either wearing pants or longer skirts, I was berated for assuming the right to tell them what to wear.

Feminists tell women they do not, cannot succeed, because they face constant unfair discrimination. In fact, women who can do the job, and are willing to make the sacrifices (physical discomfort, repeated rejection, long hours, etc) that are needed, can do, and do do, as well as men.

Efforts to to achieve equality in employment at executive levels for women and minority groups by forcing employers to hire less qualified or able women, blacks, or whoever, only make the situation worse. People hired under such schemes will be the object of annoyance and frustration, and the knowledge that they have not genuinely earned their jobs reinforces rather than mitigates negative stereotypes.

It is not liberating or empowering for women to be told that they will never succeed because they face insurmountable obstacles of injustice and discrimination. The truth is, as Penny Vincenzi points out in this article, it is not an imaginary glass ceiling that holds women back from the top positions, it is not working as hard, not working as long, or simply not being good at their jobs.

Life is not fair. Work is not fair. Just stop whining and get on with it, and you will do as well as anyone with your commitment and abilities. That is the liberating truth.

North Korea conducted a powerful underground nuclear weapons test today.

The UN security council will meet. No doubt Kim Jong-il is quaking in his tiny boots as he contemplates the arrival of another letter telling him how angry they are.

President Obama and other world leaders have said they are gravely concerned. All to be expected. Not so expected is that China has also condemned the test.

Share markets have fallen slightly in response to the news of the test. Asian oil prices have also fallen.

On the other hand, shares in defense related companies jumped.

I think Kim Jong-il is on a mission to change his theme song. I’m So Ronery just isn’t doing it for him any more.

But if he wants to start singing ‘So What,’ I think I like Pink’s version better.

This column by a physicist and climatologist is a week old. But it is worth reading because of its clear comparison of the predictions of global warming theory with real word observations.

The conclusion: global warming theory is: a political movement with nearly all the recognised climatologists throughout the world dissenting from the man made global warming theory. This can be seen on the US Senate Environment committee web site with over 700 leading climatologists from 24 different countries including Nobel Prize laureates all dissenting from the man made global warming theory.

The magnificent Cardinal Pell, a champion of compassion and common sense, also notes that global warming just doesn’t seem to be happening:

… history shows the planet is dynamic and the climate is always changing, sometimes drastically.

Contrary evidence is already changing the debate.  Australia, with its tiny economy, is no longer aiming to lead the world.  The threat of massive job losses and increasing awareness of new evidence will provoke even greater caution in the future…

Evidence shows the wheels are falling from the climate catastrophe bandwagon.

The end to the global warming nonsense cannot come soon enough. Eventually governments will stop wasting vast amounts of time and money, and sabotaging key industries, to prevent something that isn’t happening.

Perhaps then, at least until the next mindless scare, we will have the will to deal with some of the world’s real problems.

Kleenmaid is (was) an Australian whitegoods manufacturer. I have owned a few of their products over the years, and found them to be well-designed and well-made.

Creditors including the Westpac bank (the same bank that mistakenly deposited $10 million in a NZ customer’s account), voted this morning to wind up the company, which has nearly $100 million in debts.

Directors Brad and Andrew Young said they were really upset, you know,and the financial situation and everything, and they were like, sorry and everything.

But liquidator John Greig, a partner of Deloitte, warned it was unlikely that creditors would ever see their money. He said the brothers appeared to have put all their property in their wives’ names.

Mr Greig said he had alerted the Australian Securities and Investments Commission over the removal of 30 boxes of documents from Kleenmaid’s Sunshine Coast headquarters on Friday by two of the company’s three directors, Andrew Young and his brother Brad.

Deloitte reported to creditors that it was likely that Kleenmaid had traded while insolvent for at least two years.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, franchisees are claiming the mess could have been prevented five years ago if the ACCC had taken their claims of malpractice seriously.

Trading in shares in another major whitegoods manufacturer, Fisher and Paykel, was halted on the ASX today pending a statement on the company’s financial position.

To believe seeing Australian tax-payer funded film Samson and Delilah would be a waste of time and money:

1.  Peter Garrett likes it.

2. It won an award at Cannes.

All day Saturday and Sunday, so no posts, probably, on either of those days.

Keep the faith!

And it was given by Dick Cheney.

Regardless of your opinions about ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ you should read this. For good or ill (and I think good) Cheney’s speech gives clear understanding of the concerns and reasoning behind the Bush administration’s decisions about how to deal with the threat of terrorism.

It is well-argued, passionate and convincing. Go read the whole thing. Here are a couple of excerpts:

To make certain our nation country never again faced such a day of horror, we developed a comprehensive strategy, beginning with far greater homeland security to make the United States a harder target. But since wars cannot be won on the defensive, we moved decisively against the terrorists in their hideouts and sanctuaries, and committed to using every asset to take down their networks. We decided, as well, to confront the regimes that sponsored terrorists, and to go after those who provide sanctuary, funding, and weapons to enemies of the United States. We turned special attention to regimes that had the capacity to build weapons of mass destruction, and might transfer such weapons to terrorists.

We did all of these things, and with bipartisan support put all these policies in place. It has resulted in serious blows against enemy operations … the take-down of the A.Q. Khan network … and the dismantling of Libya’s nuclear program. It’s required the commitment of many thousands of troops in two theaters of war, with high points and some low points in both Iraq and Afghanistan – and at every turn, the people of our military carried the heaviest burden. Well over seven years into the effort, one thing we know is that the enemy has spent most of this time on the defensive – and every attempt to strike inside the United States has failed…

… somehow, when the soul-searching was done and the veil was lifted on the policies of the Bush administration, the public was given less than half the truth. The released memos were carefully redacted to leave out references to what our government learned through the methods in question. Other memos, laying out specific terrorist plots that were averted, apparently were not even considered for release. For reasons the administration has yet to explain, they believe the public has a right to know the method of the questions, but not the content of the answers.

Over on the left wing of the president’s party, there appears to be little curiosity in finding out what was learned from the terrorists. The kind of answers they’re after would be heard before a so-called “Truth Commission.” Some are even demanding that those who recommended and approved the interrogations be prosecuted, in effect treating political disagreements as a punishable offense, and political opponents as criminals. It’s hard to imagine a worse precedent, filled with more possibilities for trouble and abuse, than to have an incoming administration criminalize the policy decisions of its predecessors…

It is a fact that only detainees of the highest intelligence value were ever subjected to enhanced interrogation. You’ve heard endlessly about waterboarding. It happened to three terrorists. One of them was Khalid Sheikh Muhammed – the mastermind of 9/11, who has also boasted about beheading Daniel Pearl.

We had a lot of blind spots after the attacks on our country. We didn’t know about al-Qaeda’s plans, but Khalid Sheikh Muhammed and a few others did know. And with many thousands of innocent lives potentially in the balance, we didn’t think it made sense to let the terrorists answer questions in their own good time, if they answered them at all.

Some of the decisions made may have been mistaken. Some of the methods may have been questionable. But after reading Cheney’s speech I am even more convinced that those who made those very difficult decisions were men and women who were not just concerned about protecting America’s interests, but were also passionately concerned about doing what was right.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has declared his intention to follow Barack Obama’s plan to impose strict limits on CO2 emissions from motor vehicles. This will increase costs, and cost jobs.

CO2 is not a pollutant. It is a vital part of the cycle of life. Plants need it. There is no evidence that human produced CO2 has ever had any affect on climate.

In other words, imposing limits on vehicle CO2 emissions is pointless, popularist posturing. Damaging, pointless posturing.

And incidentally, remember all those claims that US cars couldn’t be sold in China because their emissions were too high?

China Daily reports: “Obama’s automobile emission deal enhances the difficulty for Chinese auto manufacturers to export their vehicles to the US market, a highly-matured market Chinese players are dreaming of, as it’s even harder for Chinese vehicles to meet the new and stricter emission requirements,” said Zhong Shi, an independent auto analyst.

On Tim Lambert’s Deltoid blog, all about what’s wrong, or might be wrong, with Ian Plimer’s book Heaven and Earth.

Some of the critics seem not to have read the book at all. Most attack Professor Plimer personally – he’s an idiot, why would you bother with him, just read the science.

Many resort to the consensus argument – I don’t need to look through that stupid telescope, all the scientists say the Sun goes round the Earth.

Some pick on what may be errors in footnotes or minor arguments. You get claims like ‘I found two mistakes on two pages, so statistical analysis proves there’s a mistake on every page. And besides, it hasn’t sold as many copies as Andrew Bolt says it has. So there.’

You can almost imagine Mr Lambert poking his tongue out at the screen.

In any book of this length and complexity there are going to be mistakes. But none of the critics deal with the key issue of whether there is any correlation between human emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases and changes in global climate.

Where they venture into climate science at all, their criticisms are quickly trounced.

Perhaps Mr Lambert and his chums could do with a brush-up on both courtesy and integrity in debate.

The desperation is telling.

And brainer. And more fun.

However, I can understand some of them being a bit disgruntled about a political ally posting photos of them on a website without their permission. Even if the idea was that the more hot women in the Liberal (conservative) Party, the more successful the party might be in recruiting men. 

There’s nothing in any of the photos that would detract from my opinion of the women involved. They just look like attractive, intelligent women who don’t take themselves too seriously. And that’s another thing that makes them likeable.

Now if only the rest of the Liberal Party could work on being interesting, attractive and likeable.

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