Code of Conduct

January 31, 2006 by  
Filed under News

As a receiver of emails from Your City Your Say (YCYS), a Brisbane City Council initiative to include members of the public, I sometimes receive notices like the following about submissions available for public comment. It’s good they tell me and a few other people about them, but there never really seems to be much effort made to communicate these things to the broader community, particularly on sensitive issues that council would prefer not to receive too many public comments or questions in relation too. And so, for anyone in Brisbane who reads this blog, this is a general public announcement from you Brisbane City Council

Council has recently developed a draft Code of Conduct for Councillors. This code sets out agreed standards of behaviour for Councillors in carrying out their official duties.

This code was developed following an ammendement to the Local Government Act 1993 which states that as of 1 March 2006 all local governments in Queensland must have an enforceable Code of Conduct for Councillors in place.
Council’s Code of Conduct for Councillors is designed to be a tool that supports a common understanding of the roles and behaviours expected of Councillors. It will assist in providing transparency, accountability and good governance.

The draft Code of Conduct for Councillors of Brisbane City Council is available for public comment from 9 January to 10 February 2006. To access the draft code click here: http://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/BCC:STANDARD::pc=PC_76

When will the draft become final?
After the public consultation period ends at 12 noon on 10 February 2006, all submissions received will be considered. A revised draft Code of Conduct for Councillors will then go before Council for discussion and approval. Council must adopt the Code of Conduct for Councillors by 1 March 2006. The Code will then become operational and Councillors will be accountable for following the Code from that date.

The link provided doesn’t actually take you directly to the draft Code of Conduct. That link should actually be to this page

Cool air disguises effects of hot sun

January 30, 2006 by  
Filed under Pictures

Driving back from the coast today we took the toll road to get Kate to work by 12.30, where I left her with the car. Almost four hours after catching the train home, doing some blogging, mailing Kate’s job application … I’ve suddenly realised my right arm is burning up. Seems the drive home cost me more than $2.70 at the toll booths.

News not fit to print

January 30, 2006 by  
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Project Censored keeps track of the most important stories not reported in 2005. Is sarcasm really the lowest form of humour? Because it’s obvious these stories are only important to people who don’t understand the reality of how the world works. I’ll tell you – THAT’S why these stories didn’t get printed, because they weren’t worth printing! Why won’t these bleeding heart liberals just shut up and die already? I mean really, if you’re anti-government, anti-business or anti-Bush, you’re just not worth the oxygen you consume are you?

Looking for evidence of how your country brutally deals with anyone who dares question the regime? Don’t use Google.

January 30, 2006 by  
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Google has done, and is doing, a large number of exciting and useful things for the internet and access to global information. Launching Google.cn in China, and acquiescing to repressive Chinese censorship demands to do so, is not one of those good things. Best to see how they describe it in their own words:

In order to do so, we have agreed to remove certain sensitive information from our search results.

The search for information is undertaken to inform ourselves of things we otherwise might not have known. With that information we are able to make somewhat knowledgeable decisions about matters that affect us. China has not only a history of repression of dissent and free speech, but also of twisting the arm of companies to help them in these endeavours.

The other online giants, Microsoft and Yahoo, have been criticised for their stance on not only search results but also bloggers (such as myself) who have either been using their blog or web-hosting services. In one case a journalist was identified to Chinese authorities by Yahoo by linking his email account to the IP address of his personal computer. In another Microsoft pulled a Chinese blog that was critical of the government. What does Google and search results have to do with bloggers, Microsoft or Yahoo? Much of China’s upper and middle class, or more importantly students, intellectuals, artists and the ‘educated’ classes, have access to and use the internet to get their news and information.
Google (also from first link) justifies restricting their access to that news and information by saying:

Google users in China today struggle with a service that, to be blunt, isn’t very good.
[…]
Filtering our search results clearly compromises our mission. Failing to offer Google search at all to a fifth of the world’s population, however, does so far more severely.

Except that Google’s service is information. By allowing that information to be restricted they have not improved Google’s service one jot. They may have improved the accessibility of their website, but that is not their service. The information remains unavailable.

A good article on this whole subject by Danny Sullivan at searchenginewatch.com points out that Google also restricts search results in France, Germany and even the USA in accordance with relevant local laws, but as he says:

Today’s news is a fundamental shift. Google isn’t running for the cover of protecting the user experience by omitting some news sites. It’s flat out saying that the Chinese government wants it to do censoring in news search, web search and other areas and that Google will comply.

Another blogger, Rob at sayanythingblog.com, points out that one of the FAQs at Google has been pulled. It asked Does Google censor search results? and answered, in part:

…we do not manipulate our search results by hand. We believe strongly in allowing the democracy of the web to determine the inclusion and ranking of sites in our search results.

When entering the Chinese marketplace democratic ideals can be put aside, and it seems they need to be.

Headline News

January 30, 2006 by  
Filed under News

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I think I’m going to have to come up with a new category. RSS syndication has led me to this point, with the first par of major news stories attached to a headline in a feed. When that’s all the news will give me in a syndicated feed, what’s a person to do?

And so I bring you Headline News or:

Dave makes critical analysis based only on headline and first par, without reading the actual story.

Nepal candidates ‘in safe houses’
Local election candidates in Nepal are being put in safe locations to protect them from Maoists, officials say. [BBC News]
Wasn’t that how Napoleon effectively declared himself emperor, by removing the French politicians for their own ‘protection’? So officials say local election candidates are being protected – what would local election candidates say, I wonder?

“Help! I’m in a box and I can’t get out!”

But then there’s this followup story the next day…

Nepal candidates abandon election
Up to 600 candidates for local polls in Nepal withdraw their nominations, say election officials. [BBC News]
In fact, we felt in such imminent danger from Maoists we realised the government was right, indeed we should withdraw in the interests of our own safety. I’ve actually read one of the stories now – these are all government candidates as the opposition are refusing to even participate.

Russia ‘to close rights group’
The Russian government seeks to close one of Moscow’s oldest human rights groups, reports say. [BBC News]
I cheated. I actually read this one earlier. It goes something along the lines of NGOs and human rights groups who are a threat to the security or stability of Russia can be effectively shut down. Or: You can work here and do ‘nice things’ for people until you disagree with us about which direction the wind blows, you stinking spies. And take your Georgian gas with you.

Hamas floats Palestinian ‘army’
Hamas is prepared to merge its military wing into a new Palestinian army, the group’s political leader says. [BBC News]
An army whose purpose would naturally be simply for the protection of Palestinians and not, of course, for the wanton destruction of Israel, every Jew who survived the Holocaust, and their progeny, and the United States… of course. Protection only.

Georgia cuts Russia embassy gas
Georgian officials cut off gas supplies to the Russian embassy there after blaming Moscow for its energy crisis. [BBC News]
Fair enough I say – shady Russians. They’re accused of having cut off gas to Georgia through the sabotage of pipelines, an energy crisis that has left most Georgians freezing in -20oC weather. A couple of cold Russian diplomats (read SPIES – shady Russkies) doesn’t warm the heart of every Georgian, or me, but it goes part of the way.

French troops to help fight virus
France is deploying 400 troops to fight a mosquito-borne virus on its island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean. [BBC News]
Hoho! You Frenchies and your mutant mosquito-borne viruses overpowering people in what is obviously a sign of the end-times. What did you think was going to happen when you nuked half the Pacific? And what are troops and guns going to do? Don’t you know, guns don’t kill mosquito-borne virus’s, people do!

Democrats fear Hillary too risky
HILLARY Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign is running into a hail of opposition from within her own party after a poll showed last week most Americans would “definitely” not vote for her. [The Oz]
Democrats fear her too risky, or just too risqué? I think the latter is good cause for a great amount of fear in the hearts of us all.

To find out the answers to these and other questions I may have but won’t answer for myself, follow the above links! Stay tuned for future Headline News, where I will try to decide whether to stick with semi-serious analysis or continue the slide into mockery.

Time Out

January 25, 2006 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

150mb doesn’t go a long way. With only 4mb left of my free student dialup download quota (that’s a mouthful) to last the next six days until the end of the month, I suspect web presence will be scarce.

UDPATE: And now, 2 hours later, I have 3mb left.

Rugova

January 25, 2006 by  
Filed under News

A word of warning – this is long, so I will employ the ‘More’ feature. I recommend using the second link.

I haven’t really been keeping up to date with what’s happening in Kosovo. I’m writing this offline and, having just gone through my downloaded headlines, I’ve seen from CNN – Kosovo mourns for President Rugova and from the BBC – Kosovo mourns leader’s death. Once I get online to follow and read those links, I’m sure they’ll be much more useful for your reading than what follows. At least I know the BBC has a lot of links to very good background information about Kosovo.

When I was more involved in the international relations aspect of my degree (haven’t done any IR for two semesters) I had started to focus on the Balkans, particularly the rocky relationship between Serbia and Kosovo since 1999. I managed to work the topic into a couple of assignments, including a journalism subject where I analysed, and I use the term lightly, the relationship between Serbian media and the state during the Balkan wars that split the former Yugoslavia in the early 90s. As such I like to think I should attempt to make sense of the meaning of Ibrahim Rugova’s death to Kosovo, no matter how shallow, ill-informed or trite my thoughts turn out to be.
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String Anniversary

January 21, 2006 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

I don’t think it really is, but one year is paper I think, so what’s one month? That’s what we went by last Tuesday.

Married life is good, if challenging at times as we’re stretched and shaped. You know, finding out more intimately how we each react (or sometimes in my case don’t react) to different situations. Better communication of my emotions could probably be improved to help Kate out.

If my personality doesn’t change, I’ll just have to verbalise. At the moment when I think I need to say how I’m feeling, it comes out stilted, Lurch-like.

I am pleased.

I’m not annoyed.

That’s an important one.

And I am quite pleased with our most recent purchase. I find it more than worth the cost, a good bargain! We went to IKEA to get the $249 2-seater couch we had chosen a while ago, but on the way out stopped in the ‘bargain bin’ to see what was there. Instead of purchasing the one we had planned, we saw a different couch, 3-seater, marked down because of dirt marks (minimal) which will never be seen once the separately purchased new cover is put on. So, this couch we bought for $239, marked down from $800. Sweet. Paid $80 to get it delivered and it arrived today. Kate had no idea how I felt so, in her words, was being “extra enthusiastic to try and elicit a response”.

I am happy.

Comment Poetry

January 21, 2006 by  
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I had not received any spam comments on this blog until December 20th. Since then? About 25 a day, but a healthy 277 spam comments came in on December 27th.

Where are they all, you ask? Well, thankfully WordPress has an option for automatic comment moderation based on the number of links. More than two links in the comment? It won’t appear unless I approve it.

I thought I would post here for your reading pleasure the three most recent spam comments. They all start out generally making sense, but then the drugs kick in.

I’m asking myself: How can it be that I’ve never ran through your site before? It’s a great one! when Table Steal Pair Play, Standard is feature of Collective Cosmos Round can Loose Mistery , Forecast Destroy Create – that is all that Game is capable of Astonishing is feature of Superb Corner

Hi. Just letting you know that I enjoyed your site. Profound is feature of Greedy Circle, Big Boy is always Lazy Soldier Good Cosmos Create or not , Faithful Grass Play or not Green is feature of Collective Table

Very original content. I really like your site. Destroy Game is very good Tournament, Circle will Gnome unconditionally Red Grass becomes Greedy Plane in final , Bad Stake becomes Tremendous Table in final right Table will Double Cosmos without any questions

The strange thing is all the links in the comments go to legitimate sites. I haven’t actually followed them, but I recognise links like ranchero.com, abc.net.au/news and cnn.com. Anyway, remember that for the future kiddies – if you’re going to link more than twice in a comment it might never be seen.

If you want any advice on comment spam, particularly in relation to WordPress, this post asks the question and gets relevant suggestions.

Oy Sven!

January 17, 2006 by  
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England football manager Sven Goran Eriksson will not be a popular man. News Of the World reports Sven is prepared to walk out on the English team. In great English tabloid tradition, thousands of British pounds were spent tricking Eriksson into meeting with a fake sheikh about employment prospects.

Given the things he’s said about Michael Owen, Rio Ferdinand and especially Wayne Rooney, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he gets turfed out before the World Cup. How could they dump him? He’s five years into an eight-year contract and less than six months out from the World Cup England hopes to seriously challenge for. A lot of Britons could be said to come from a ‘poor’ background, but of Wayne Rooney’s temperament, Sven said:

It is his temper…He’s coming from a poor family, a very rough…

I think the public outcry will be enough to pressure him into at least an offer of resignation, and the FA will itself be none too happy with his reported willingness to walk out on his contract with them.

It’s not like he’s been a great asset to the English team. Their form under his tutelage has not exactly been consistent, comforting or otherwise instilling confidence. Could the team perform without a coach? Every international team has a lot of staff who assist the coach, I’m sure they’d do without Sven.

Take Australia as an example. Guus Hiddink is both coach of a national team and PSV Eindhoven on opposite sides of the globe. In his role as club coach he will miss several Australian games because of Champion’s League commitments. With assistant coach Graham Arnold and other staff, I’m sure the team will do well at the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Asian Cup without the head coach being present.

For a team like England the loss of the coach is perhaps felt less by players of such a high quality who have played and trained together much more often, and against much better quality, than Australia has been able to. Nonetheless, Australia beat England 3-1 in December 2003, so naturally Sven must be crap and England can do without him.

Google Earth

January 13, 2006 by  
Filed under News

The Google Blog has information about Google Earth, now available for the Mac. I won’t use it on dialup, but get into it all you broadband Apple freaks.

Sideshow Bob

January 13, 2006 by  
Filed under News, Pictures

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There were reports, apparently mistaken, that the movie Brokeback Mountain would not be screened in rural and regional Queensland when it opens in Australia next week.

Bob Katter, a rural Queensland politician made the news with this clanger. I missed the bleeped out part to try and read his lips, but he was chuckling right through:

I’ve never heard of a ****** cowboy in my life. Maybe there are some out there, but I’ve never heard of them. I mean, it’s not a profession that attracts those sort of people.

It is amusing that he says it with such ignorant confidence. As clangers go, he’s still got nothing on Pat Robertson, who continues to churn them out with regularity.

Wedding Speech

January 9, 2006 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

This quick post is, as the title suggests, my wedding speech. I didn’t specifically mention my blog in my speech but made a reference to it (linked here). Since my blog had already made into both my dad’s and brother’s speeches though, there was really no need. Since it’s long I’ve used the more feature which should allow you to follow the link to read the rest of the speech. Enjoy or ignore. If you attended the wedding, then relive that great moment all over again.
UPDATE: Not sure how to change it, but the better link of those two is the second. The first will load a new page to show the speech, the second will open it instantly and keep you on this page.

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Fine Dining

January 9, 2006 by  
Filed under Pictures

I finally got the last coat of stain and varnish on our table and this is the beautiful result. What? I like my work.
Here you see our dining area with no table.

And then with table.

Obviously I made the mistake of not taking a true before photo – what the table looked like before I got to it with the orbital sander and finish. It was pretty bad, a clear rough finish that was beaten up, having sat in the back of a church storage shed with stuff stacked on for who knows how long.

Not long now before we’ll have a nice new sofa (and cheap – thank you IKEA), and a coffee table that we’ll utilise as our lowline TV unit.

UPDATE: These pictures will better show the table’s finish.

Letter

January 7, 2006 by  
Filed under Pictures

This is a mass email I sent out. The two people who read and comment on this blog will have already received it. Most of the people who received the email don’t read my blog. As Dan already mentioned in his post about my wedding day, my blog was mentioned by both my dad and brother (best man) in their speeches. So far I haven’t noticed any increase in traffic, which isn’t all bad. I worried for a moment I would be held to some higher standard.

Dear Everyone,

This email is just to let you know very briefly what’s going on at the moment.

This email is going to many people who haven’t heard from me in a long time, as well as people who saw me less than two days ago. In brief, I’m living in Brisbane, Australia, and recently was married to Kate edited (obviously now Earley).

We had a great wedding and really enjoyed the whole day, as well as the reception – it’s great to have close friends and family there to celebrate. Yes, there was love all throughout the air. It seems like a lifetime ago now but it’s only been three weeks today! I don’t have any pictures from the wedding but I’ve attached a few I took on the honeymoon.

We had a fantastic time and returned safely, if a little sunburnt, to our apartment in Brisbane. We’re settling into the unit but taking our time getting organised. I still work casual hours, as does Kate, but since we’re both not studying at the moment we have a lot of spare time. Thankfully we can still pay the bills while spending most of our days together as we both usually work afternoon/evening shifts.

I’m not studying because I’m on summer holidays for another six weeks. The past is so soon distant while the future rushes unchecked towards us. Marriage three weeks ago seems an age gone, while university in six weeks will arrive sooner than expected. Deep thoughts, indeed. I have a lot of some work to do around the house in that time. Most of the items needing organisation are mine – I have several boxes of ‘stuff’ to sift through – and we have a dining table and chairs in the garage waiting for the last two coats of stain/varnish before they can come upstairs. They’ll be a welcome addition to our current seating furniture which includes a director’s chair, two fit-balls, and the office chair in the study. Eating at a table for the first time in our unit will be a momentous occasion. The other furniture (couch, TV unit, coffee table) we’ve chosen, but for some reason they won’t let us take it home. Something about giving them all the money first.

Kate’s not studying because her graduation ceremony was three days before our wedding and she’s looking for full-time work. She graduated from Social Work, but is looking for a job as a lawyer doing some kind of family law, preferably with domestic violence. How does a social worker get a job as a lawyer, I hear you ask. Kate graduated and worked as a lawyer for a year before going back to university to add Social Work to her repertoire. Now that’s done she never has to worry about university again. Unless of course she decides to become a brain surgeon or get a PhD, but I think she’s had more than enough study for now.

Alright, I’ve spent much longer than I’d planned to on this ‘very brief’ email. I’ll try to do a better job of keeping in touch, and if I haven’t personally replied to emails, letters, phone calls, parcels or carrier pigeons, please know that I had planned to. This apology applies to the future as well, just to cover my bases.

UPDATE: Within 10 minutes of sending, I’ve received 12 undeliverable, returned emails.

Kate&David@lookout

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