The Pencil Guy: Hourann's illogical blog

Forgetting what political freedom means

Sunday 30 October 2005 at 9:40 pm

Over east, The Age was reporting yesterday that a comfortable two-thirds majority of voters support rather draconian measures (like locking people up without charge) in the name of preventing terrorism. I guess that when you lead a comfortable life in a house you bought with Honest John’s low interest rates, it’s easy to forget what it means to live in a politically free democracy.

I had been avoiding any mention of the new “anti-terror” laws because the presence of a sunset clause makes me less worried than I’d normally be, even if a decade is a long time. But the problem with draconian laws, as apartheid South Africa can attest, is they’re that much more dangerous when there’s public support for them.

I suspect everyone is scared by saturation media coverage of terrorist attacks that scream out YOU’RE GONNA BE THE NEXT VICTIM. Danny Katz (reprinted in yesterday’s West Magazine, with Carnegie replaced by Wanneroo) puts it nicely: “they were definitely terrorists … because the tram posters told me so”!

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Apple on music companies: I’m with stupid

Tuesday 25 October 2005 at 8:15 pm

As most other bloggers in this country had realised before me: woohoo, iTMS is available in Oz! Finally I have a compelling reason to go get a credit card.

The iTunes Music Store

For proof that the music companies are refining the delicate art of shooting themselves in the foot, witness that here, as in Japan for a few months, Sony/BMG are refusing to jump on board.

For more proof: Albums cost $16.99 and single tracks a whopping $1.69 ― compared to the standard US prices of $9.99 and $0.99, this means that in music-company la-laaa land, the Australian dollar is worth 58.6 US cents. No wonder Ian Dickson left that biz to pursue a TV career; at least TV execs in this country have their heads screwed on (well, not all of the time).

(Of course, I’m ignoring the possibility that Apple themselves are behind the higher prices. But Apple in Australia are a tiny offshoot of big Cupertino, and the fixed costs of the Australian and US stores probably aren’t any different, since a simple netstat says they both come off the same server farm.)


Brainwashing the masses?

Friday 21 October 2005 at 10:08 pm

My last essay-o-doom got finished yesterday, without too much trouble, but with very little sleep. As a result I slept in this morning and missed all but ten minutes of my lecture on peroxisomes :-)

Curiously enough, I saw the professor who came over from Cambridge to teach us for part of the essay-o-doom unit (about eighteenth-century English literature and its connections with the many scientific discoveries of the day) in the Reid library café this afternoon. ’Tis interesting that a visiting professor seemed happy to go there, considering that most UWA staff think they’re too cool to visit an eating venue where there might be students.

In other news, this blog hasn’t had a rant in a while, so I shall now mention something random I saw today. Imagine ― you’re a federal bureaucrat, complicit in a plan to undo a century of federalist tradition by trying to convince the Aussie public that yes, we really really need to take industrial relations powers away from the states. How does one do it?

Dodgy Government advertising

Sure you’ve seen the cheesy TV ads ― but now there’s cheesy Web ads as well!

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Two down …

Monday 17 October 2005 at 8:32 pm

Woohoo! I have now completed the second of my essays-o-doom, and only one remains. Unfortunately it is the biggest, hardest, doom-iest one :-(

On a much brighter note, let me use this post to formally announce that Hourann Is Going On A Holiday ™ ― yes I know it’s quite remarkable and unexpected, but would you believe, it’s true! Plans are in the final stages of finalisation as we speak, but it’s currently looking like starting 18 December and lasting three weeks, being a bit of a rail tour of the south-east coast. First the Indian Pacific to Adelaide, then the Overland to Melbourne, and the XPT on to Sydney, with a bit of a stop in each (plus some time in the Blue Mountains to boot). Should be very cool …

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Procrastination, yay!

Friday 14 October 2005 at 3:40 pm

Sitting in the library while I should be essay-writing, I’m presently feeling …

  • relieved that the essay-o-doom that I had due this morning is done ― twas slightly rushed but I think I gave the topic a reasonably thorough treatment. I must say, it’s rather cool to be doing a degree where I get to write essays about pictures of naked women ― and no, not that type of picture you dirty sod :-P
  • worried that there are two more essays-o-doom due in the next five days, particularly considering my progress is, um, not too great …
  • annoyed that the people sitting across from me (in the library, do recall) can’t stop talking to each other, right under a sign saying “silent study area”! Fair enough if you see someone and whisper to them for two minutes, but it’s been a bloody hour!
  • happy that in the space of thirty minutes today I randomly ran into three awesome people who I normally never see at uni, all in the library café.
  • freaked out (still) by the random stunt I witnessed yesterday: while I was at the main UWA bus stop at 6pm (the crowd waiting there was bigger than normal, not sure why), four guys wearing identical overalls pulled up their car onto the grass median of Stirling Hwy in front of us. They pulled out a jack and spare tyre as if they had a flat … but they didn’t. They started to jack up the car (on grass, so it rose all of 2cm) right after slowly stripping off their overalls to reveal bare chests & boxers. One of them took it all off and paraded nude along the median for a few minutes, then jumped back in the car and drove as the bus came. I am not making this up (honest!). What the?!

Road closed

Thursday 6 October 2005 at 7:53 pm

Despite my best efforts last December, my local government (that authority that is always acting in our best interests and is never wrong) has decided to close Miguel Road, the main connecting road across from my house. Lest I be accused of thoughtcrime, it seems I can’t complain otherwise. It will soon be necessary to do a grand loop on five roads to get anywhere from my house.

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