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Because of lower margins

Why have chip prices gone up? Or when they say lower margins do they just mean that PC sales have been down in the first quarter?

I hope Intel CEO Paul Otellini is right when he says PC sales bottomed out in the first months of 09 and are now returning to normal. Not just because PCs are my business, but because spending on PCs is a good indicator of confidence in both home and business expenditure.

According to protestors at the G20, capitalism doesn’t work.

G20 Protestors - Captitalism Doesn’t Work

It certainly works better than anything else that has ever been tried.

It seems odd to me that people complain endlessly about the government, and then some of those very same people claim to want a system in which everything is run by the government, and everyone works for the government.

Of course it’s true that some people, and some parking meters, make obscene amounts of money. Sometimes markets are manipulated and the poor suffer. There will always need to be safety nets for people who cannot cope, or who are inveterately lazy.

But encouraging people to use their abilities to help themselves and those around them works. It is a way of doing things that has resulted in living conditions for most people around the globe – clean water, good food, access to education and medical care – that even royalty would have been envious of 200 years ago. And it has enabled the building of a world community in which it is possible to respond to disasters and other great needs quickly and generously.

But the protestors are right – another world is possible. A cold, dark, hungry world. Like North Korea.

Korean Peninsula by Night

Well, that’s not quite what he said. Jesus said that people had a choice about building their lives on the rock foundation of truth, or on the shifting sands of fashion and desire.

Obama said people had a similar choice about building a new economy on the rock of his wisdom, including, for example, higher taxes, discouraging business, and record debt, or continuing with the unstable sands of a market economy which has brought unprecedented wealth and opportunity around the globe. Although he didn’t put it quite that clearly.

“It’s more than most Congresses and most presidents have to deal with in a lifetime,” Mr. Obama said, speaking of the financial crisis.  Really?

“I know there’s a criticism out there that my administration has been spending with reckless abandon, pushing a liberal social agenda while mortgaging our children’s future,” Mr. Obama said.

Yep. That’s pretty much it.

David Keohane, 29, was on his way home from a party in Coogee in Sydney when he was beaten beyond recognition in August last year. He had been in a coma in a hospital in his home town of Cork in Ireland, but awoke on St Patrick’s Day and is now talking.

Doctors had been unsure he would ever recover consciousness. His family are attributing his dramatic recovery to the intercessions of Australian Josephite nun Mary MacKillop, whose prayers for him they had constantly asked.

Catholics don’t pray to the saints (although they may sometimes loosely use that expression). Instead, they ask the saints, their friends in heaven, to pray for them in the same way as other Chrisians ask their friends on earth to pray for them. Catholics (and some other Christians) believe that if we are united in Christ, even death cannot separate us from those who have gone before, and that the ‘great cloud of witnesses’ continue to care for us.

Mary MacKillop was beatified by John Paul II in 1995. The process leading to the Church recognising her as saint began in 1925, so it has certainly not been rushed. The final stage is canonisation, which really means ‘being added to the list.’

The Pope doesn’t make anyone a saint – only God can do that. Every Christian is a saint, in the sense of being sanctified, set apart for God’s purposes. But the Church acknowledges certain people through whom the light of Christ has shone so clearly that their heroic dedication to the will of God is an inspiration to others. One of the requirements is two confirmed miracles attributed to the intervention of the person. Mary MacKillop needs a second miracle.

During his visit to Australia in 2008, Pope Benedict said: ‘She will be canonised, we’re waiting for the miracle.’ The recovery of David Keohane may be that miracle. But it will be a long process, and any medical testimony will be thoroughly tested.

Still, this might be it – Australia’s first saint.

This is the Mary MacKillop Prayer, as prayed by her own order, the Josephites:

Most loving God,
We thank you for the example of Blessed Mary MacKillop,
who in her living of the Gospel witnessed to the human dignity of each person.
She faced life’s challenges with faith and courage.
We pray through her intercession for our needs……..

May her holiness soon be acknowledged by the universal Church.
We make this prayer through Jesus the Lord.
Amen.

Cosme Aballes was beheaded shortly after being kidnapped on Good Friday by a group of bandits consisting of members of Abu Sayyaf and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The kidnapping took place on the island of Basilan in the South West of the Philippines. Another man, Eman Chavez, was kidnapped at the same time. His fate is unknown. This brings the total number of hostages held on Basilan to seven.

On the nearby island of Jolo (Sulu province), two Red Cross workers are still being held by Abu Sayyaf. The Philippine military is now blocking all food and water supplies to the kidnappers’ camp.

“I think the hostage crisis won’t last much longer. We will not allow them to dictate on us. We are the ones supposed to be making the demands on them, that they release the hostages or else” said Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan.

He is quite right. Making concessions to terrorists is the easy way out in the short term, but encourages an industry of kidnapping.

But what a scary call to make. Please keep praying for the hostages – there and in Somalia.

I was sorry to read this story of casualties in demonstrations in Bangkok – two dead and 113 injured.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva imposed a state of emergency in the capital, but was claiming by last night that the unrest was almost over. I hope he is right.

Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has a lot to answer for.

I don’t mean allegations of corruption while he was in power. Whether those allegations are true, and if so, whether those negatives were outweighed by the good his government did alleviating rural poverty and implementing universal health care, are questions too complex for discussion here. It is certainly true that the military acted questionably in ousting his goverment in 2006, and that the court appointed by the military regime probably acted wrongly in outlawing his Thai Rak Thai party.

But.

Thaksin Shinawatra could easily have responded differently to allegations of corruption at the time. He could have acted differently in response to the massive protests which led the military to act as it did. He could have called elections for example. He could have stayed and faced the charges of corruption. He could have refrained from calling for revolution in communications to his supporters.

He is saying now that he wants a peaceful resolution to the unrest, and a return to true democracy.

If that’s true he should stay out of Thailand and Thai politics completely, and urge his followers to express their concerns through the ballot box. Or he should return, face the charges of corruption pending against him, and then, if innocent, stand for office again.

But encouraging violence, then saying he wants peace, then saying he will come back to lead a coup himself, then saying he doesn’t want any more coups, is not helping either himself or the Thai people.

In the mean time, if you are planing a holiday to Thailand, you might be safer putting it off for a while. Or come to Kangaroo Island instead!

Not to me. Thanks anyway.

75 year old Shigeo Tokuda started in the porn business when he was 59. He was interviewed last Monday on the set of his latest film in which he is shown as a master of sex. In the film he used vibrators, whips and candle lights to show the master satisfying a 36-year-old actress.

“I wanted to challenge what ordinary people did not, so I decided to be a porno actor.”

If you say so. I guess if you are going to challenge what ordinary people do (or did not), becoming a porn star beats dragging your family through pirate infested waters. Or dragging yourself across the Arctic, getting lost and suffering frostbite because of the unexpected cold, in order to prove to the world that global warming is real.

I have enjoyed some of Safrans’ work. He can be genuinely funny. But when people are kind and harm no one, mocking their values and beliefs is not funny. It’s just try-hard.

I can sort of understand the practice in some parts of the Philippines of being crucified on Good Friday. It’s a symbolic identification with Christ in his sufferings, an expression of a desire to share the burden he carried.

I think it’s the wrong thing to do. But I still respect the sincerity and faith of the people who do it.

John Safran dressing up in ‘Life of Brian’ type wig and pleading to share in this ritual just so he can belittle the people involved is not something which is fair or amusing.

Devout Christian followers of Good Friday’s crucifixion rituals in the rural Philippines village of Kapitangan were devastated to learn that John Safran’s nailing to the cross alongside local penitents was a TV comedy show stunt. In this isolated part of Bulacan province north of Manila the arrival of a faithful foreigner in a jeepney who pleaded to take part in the gory Easter ceremony and didn’t chicken out was at first applauded. Villagers were bewildered to learn on Saturday that Safran was not even a Christian. Student Jhoan Caparas, 18, who saw Safran’s crucifixion, said his actions had been disrespectful and immoral. “Why does he want to come here and laugh at us? We don’t laugh at his culture and his beliefs. So he should respect ours.”

Yes he should.

The Prime Minister of England. But he seems a decent enough bloke. I find it difficult to believe he would ever have countenanced the kind of deliberate and malicious smearing of poltical opponents that one of his advisors seems to have suggested to another Labour figure.

Damian McBride, who has now resigned as one of Brown’s senior advisors, sent emails containing gossip and fabricated stories to Derek Draper. Draper is a Labour party publicist and blogger, who had proposed setting up a website called ‘Red Rag’ dedicated to gossip about Conservative MPs. Draper originally described McBride’s ideas as ‘brilliant.’

But the idea came to nothing. It was, as Draper points out, a few juvenile ideas tossed about by a couple of mates. They decided, after a few laughs, that it would be wrong to proceed in that way, and they didn’t.

The harm seems to have been done by British blogger Guido Fawkes, who somehow got hold of those emails and made them public, causing embarrassment not only to McBride, Draper, and now to Gordon Brown, but to the people mentioned in the stories. Without Guido, those bits of gossip and baseless stories would never have become public knowledge.

Guido’s allegations about Brown’s likely knowledge and approval of the plan seem to me to be just as baseless and malicious as any of the ideas McBride and Draper emailed to each other.

The difference is that McBride and Draper told no one else about their silly stories. Guido did. And now he’s making up some of his own, with the intention of doing exactly what McBride and Draper talked about doing. But didn’t.

Guido’s a right-winger and so am I. And as I said, I am no supporter of Brown or Labour. But fair is fair.

And is the first South American ever to win the US Masters golf tournament.

Angel Cabrera’s US Master’s prize money is a $1.35 million share of the $7.5 million dollar purse

That’s enough to park in Sydney for nearly 30 years.

Or to buy Kylie Minogue 270 facials. I hope the media isn’t too hard on Kylie for her recent beauty and relaxation expenditure. She deserves a little pampering. She works hard, and she’s had a hard battle with cancer, and she’s one of show business’s genuinely nice people.

After gains in US markets yesterday, and the Wells, Fargo and Co bank announcing a higher than expected profit.

But Comsec chief economist Craig James says there is still a bumpy road ahead. “Investors shouldn’t be surprised if companies report declines of up to 50 per cent in earnings per share compared with a year earlier,” he said.

Between counter-productive government stimulus plans, high unemployment and reduced profits, I don’t think we can expect any gains for a while yet. Anyone needing to get their superannuation out now is not going to be happy.

But if you have spare cash and a long term plan, it is a better time to be buying shares than selling them. And the same goes for real estate.

One of Sydney’s parking meters earns $47,000 per year.

Sydney’s 1304 parking meters earn the Sydney Council more than $30 million per year.

If they didn’t have that income they would need to increase rates to fund the services they provide, so I don’t begrudge them the money.

It’s just, well, it’s quite a lot, isn’t it?

Last night over 200 spam comments were sent to my post Another Rau Row. That’s a record for this blog.

They were mostly advertising online gambling, but some offered cheap online prescription drugs.

They all came from this IP address: 83.233.30.32

Any suggestions?

Says US advisor Juan Carlos Zarate: “The U.S. has a very clear sense that, if you start to pay ransoms, you in essence create an industry for kidnapping,” he said. “And, frankly, it’s why you see an uptick in the piracy problem in East Africa. It’s a for-profit venture. It’s very lucrative at low cost for the pirates and it’s, in part, fueled by the fact that shipping companies in other countries have been paying ransoms for the release of ships, cargo and personnel.”

That just seems obvious to me. Paying millions in ransoms to pirates and terrorists enables them to purchase sophisticated equipment, buy friendships and favour, and encourages them to keep attacking civilian targets. It is short-sighted and stupid.

The French took an important intiative on this when they rescued Florent Lemacon’s family from the yacht Tanit. Lemacon himself was shot dead. French authorities will conduct an enquiry into whether he was murdered by the pirates or accidentally killed in cross-fire.

I found three things of particular interest about the hijacking and rescue of the Tanit.

First, the family had specifically and repeatedly warned about the dangers of Somali piracy, and that they should not go near the Gulf of Aden. I’m glad the French took the action they did. But Lemacon’s irresponsibility put not only himself and his family in danger, but also French personnel who rescued them.

Second, the French rescue was prompted by the fear that the pirates were considering either murdering the family, or taking them to shore, perhaps with a view to selling them to an islamist terrorist organisation. This would have made any rescue attempt much more dangerous and difficult.

And third, Lemacon’s father’s description of his son as a dreamer who had rejected western materialism. Defending the couple’s decision to take their son on a risky voyage, he said: “They chose a lifestyle. In their own way they were fighting with deeply held convictions for the right to live differently.”

Choosing a lifestyle is one thing. But since when did the ‘right’ to live differently include the right to put others in danger? We hear far too much about ‘rights’ and far too little about responsibility. And if you can afford a luxury yacht, with all the electronics and conveniences that Western technology can offer, and to sail your family around the world, in what possible sense have you rejected Western materialism?

But the big news of the day is the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips. Phillips had given himself up to the pirates in return for the rest of his crew being allowed to go free, after the crew had fought to regain control of their ship. US Naval forces killed three of the four pirates who were holding him. Another is being held for trial. Phillips is unharmed.

Thank goodness some decisive action has been taken at last. 

But the pirates will be angry. Some have already threatened to take revenge on any Americans they capture. And more than 250 hostages are still being held, including 92 Philippinos, and 16 Italians from a tugboat captured last Sunday.

Is this guy out of his mind?

Unemployment is at its highest levels for twenty years. People are being forced out their homes, soup kitchens are struggling to meet the demand.

And President Barack Obama, community organiser, wealth redistributor, has a pizza chef flown 860 miles to make 20 pizzas for he and his family and mates.

I guess it was someone else’s pizza Michelle Obama had in mind when she said that in order to get universal health care and a better education system, some people were going to have give up a piece of their pie.

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