The Pencil Guy: Hourann's illogical blog

Airliners, crackpots, bird flu and phones

Saturday 13 January 2007 at 11:48 pm
  • The best news I’ve heard so far this year: Tiger Airways, a Singaporean discount carrier modelled after Air Asia, is starting flights to Perth in March. And just like Air Asia, they have ridiculous discounts: $20 one way to Singapore, plus (obscene) taxes, on selected dates until October. This more than plugs the hole left when Valuair stopped its Perth flights after a merger with Qantas (mutter grumble), and makes it wonderfully cheap to travel around Asia. I’m already planning a trip to relatives in Penang for about $400, less than half the current cost. Hopefully this will also be a good thing for West Australian tourism — the State government had better take advantage of it!
  • Who decided that this guy was so important anyway? (Just like Christianity, Islam is divided into different factions and schools of thought, and he’s only one mufti …) I don’t think we should ban him from returning or revoke his citizenship (now that’s a horrid idea: how do you decide who’s a bad citizen?), and he’s entitled to freely travel and express his views. But if I flew overseas and told some people that all Australians are idiots, somehow I doubt there’d be such a swarm of coverage. The media need only stop paying attention in order to transform him into Yet Another Harmless Crackpot.
  • The ASEAN summit in Cebu, postponed from last December, has just started. Impressively, our government has used this as a chance to pitch in a $5m donation to combat bird flu, which gives some meat to the rather hollow Declaration from the last East Asia Summit, and fits in nicely with the argument made on page 29 of my thesis ;-)
  • Finally, after more considered analysis, I’m not sure the iPhone is as awesome as it first seemed. It’s far and away the best phone interface ever, that much is certain, but it won’t be able to run 3rd-party software (perhaps not even Web 2.0 apps), we know little about the camera, and there’s a case to be made that hardware keyboards are better (they’re good for blind people — such as me, when SMSing while half-asleep). Speaking of which, this is an awesome response to everyone’s reactions.

Will it degenerate into war?

Tuesday 18 July 2006 at 11:39 pm

Truth be told, I actually don’t know what to say about the current conflict(s) in the Middle East. Israel’s sudden military campaign against Hezbollah strikes me as slightly insane, the perfect way to stoke a war in a region that isn’t exactly the most stable in the world.

But I also recognise Israel’s right to protect itself from terrorists; the initial Hezbollah attack was pretty brazen (albeit poorly reported here). The response seems popular within Israel, probably because it makes the government appear strong — and given that, I can understand why Aussies in Lebanon are crying to our government for help as if it’s a superpower that can deploy navy ships to the region within two days. (Speaking of the Aussie government, little John’s visit to Timor-Leste today seems to have been little more than a meet-and-greet; I wonder if they talked about Timor Sea gas deals?)

The Israeli attacks also came as a shock to me because I’ve been busy writing (rather theoretically) about how the risk of traditional war between equally-matched states is lessened in the contemporary world because states are more interdependent than they used to be … and while that’s still true for Southeast Asia, I guess the Mid-East is always a bit exceptional.

At least I can say this with certainty: the Israeli campaign is doing a great job of drawing attention away from the Gaza Strip. And Iraq, for that matter …

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