Sunday, December 30, 2012

No, I didn't

Back in Dubai after sampling some of the culinary delights of Singapore for a few days.

I did give some of the offerings a miss though

I didn't even bother to ask exactly what the  two pieces of froggy were. His legs perhaps.

Like the pig organ soup I saw advertised in several places, I decided not to try it.

Monday, December 24, 2012

To Singapore

Looks like a good time to be away from Sydney, with a headline in today's Sydney Morning Herald saying "Wild Christmas weather across Sydney"
Photo Nick Moir. Sydney Morning Herald

In Richmond, north-west of Sydney, the temperature was 39C, then dropped five degrees in five minutes as the storm hit, dumping rain and hail.

With the perfect weather here in Dubai it's good to be here, but we're off to Singapore this evening, where we're told it hasn't rained for ages, which is unusual. It'll still be warm and humid though, I'm sure, it always is.

We haven't been there for quite a while so we're looking forward to it.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Dubai at its best

Just about perfect weather in Dubai right now.

Bright sunshine all day. Mid to high twenties celcius daytime, a little under twenty at night.

It rained one day about a week ago so the dust was washed off the buildings and greenery and the place is sparkling.

Our apartment is in Dubai Marina which is probably 90% complete now - very different from the handful of buldings and virtually no facilities when we moved back here in 2005.

There's a big choice for people who want to take to the water of Dubai Marina. An RTA ferry, various water tours on traditional wooden dhows or modern motor cruisers, self-drive hire boats and a choice of floating restaurants.

There must be over a hundred restaurants and cafes now, plus plenty of supermarkets, convenience stores, pharmacies, medical centres, a shopping mall, hotels and hotel apartments, even a fire station.

Sparkling during the day it's also beautiful at night with not only the restaurants covered in lights but with the shape of the date palms picked out in lights too.

We're enjoying it.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Away for the holidays

Back in Dubai now, arrived early this morning,  and on Christmas Eve we're heading to Singapore for a few days.

It's certainly cooling off here. There was rain on Monday and when we went out for coffee this morning it really felt chilly. It was about 19C but there was a cooler wind coming in off the sea making it feel a good bit less than that.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Race to the bottom

It's been a depressing time the past week or so if you're concerned about standards and where we're at as a society.

Banks given huge fines for money laundering but, even though they've broken laws, can't be prosecuted because they're too big, too powerful.

Politicians and businessmen being exposed by ICAC (New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption) for colluding with tip-offs and government approvals to help each other make tens of millions of dollars.

A federal judge, to the surprise of no-one, throwing out the case against Peter Slipper as 'abuse of process' involving politicians intent on bringing down the government, lawyers, PR people and Murdoch 'journalists'.

The exposure of the commercial radio staple, hysterically funny to their listeners, of what's given the innocent-sounding description of  'prank calls' - in fact infantile, spiteful calls designed to embarrass or humiliate people.

Ongoing corruption in the building industry highlighted by the Bankstown apartment fire in which a student died.  That's put the spotlight on the system of apartment block approvals in NSW being open to abuse, because since deregulation developers buy their certification from private certifiers.

The very dodgy relationship between government and clubs, especially where poker machines are concerned.  It's been going on for years but a good example cropped up when a club was given approval to install over 100 extra machines in return for 'a donation to the local community'. (That's one of the favourite sound bites of the pokies/club industry - supporting the local community). In reality the 'donation' was for the club to build a new grandsand for itself.

Standards, what standards?

Here's a list of links to more on each of the stories:

Banks too big


Abuse of process


Apartment blocks


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Climate change?

I can't believe the weather we're having.  Thirty degrees one day, seventeen the next.

Two weeks before Christmas and we're wearing our winter sweaters and raincoats.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Humiliating people isn't funny

I ran out of time, otherwise I was going to comment yesterday about the infantile stupidity of the two 2DAY FM presenters who made a hoax call to the Duchess of Cambridge's hospital.

Events overnight made me find time today.

Who these morons call is irrelevant to me, I just hate the whole childishness of hoax telephone calls.

Supporters call them ' harmless pranks'  but they're much more than that.

It's nothing but "Look at me, I'm cleverer than you. You're stupid" designed to embarrass and humiliate the person receiving the call. It has no place in adult life, it should be left behind in the schoolyard after the age of about six.

There are calls to women telling them their husbands are being unfaithful, calls to students telling them they've failed their exams. Now a call to a woman struggling with illness in hospital. It's not clever, it's not funny, it's not adult, it's not responsible. It's plain infantile nastiness masquerading as humour.

The latest' prank' was applauded widely here in Oz by media types although, not for the first time, they were out of step with majority public opinion.

According to the Herald the radio station realised it was facing a backlash from the public, two thirds of whom regarded the stunt as cruel, according to one poll. Their Facebook page has thousands of comments, most expressing outrage.

Yet up to yesterday the papers were talking about a harmless prank, all good fun. Christine Sams in the Sydney Morning Herald told us that "in Australia, those who are well practised in this art of japery said on Thursday that the British outrage over the phone what makes it so good".

Her report includued comments from other media people, such as:  "It's funny and I think (the radio station) was wrong to apologise". "Prank calls are really legitimate...". "Three cheers to them, I think they've done an amazing job...the joke went really well. Anyone who doesn't laugh at this story, and works in the media, is angry they didn't do it themselves".

The story finished: Despite the official public apology from Austereo, Greig and Christian were said to be privately delighted by the global reaction. Their names (and the 2DayFM brand) have made headlines across the world.

It's all changed now though, after the worst possible outcome with news that a nurse on the receiving end has killed herself.

2DAY FM 'apologised' but the herald confirms that more than seven hours after Jacintha Saldanha's death, 2Day FM's website was still plugging its royal scoop, which one of the presenters insisted was just a "big fat joke".

We obviously don't agree and the latest news is that after the huge backlash major companies such as Coles and Telstra have pulled their advertising from the station.

What is amazing me is the two radio presenters are still getting support from people who should know better.

For example, ex-Victorian Premier Jeff Kennet said today he hoped the Australian public would support the two radio hosts involved in the 'prank'. There was nothing wrong with the 2DayFM prank and the radio hosts should be given support, he said.

"Now they will be under extraordinary pressure and I just hope that they get our support and that their employer provides them with the professional support to help them get through what will be a terrible few weeks," Mr Kennett told ABC radio".

So suddenly they are the victims!

In an obvious move to get onside with the public mood the media has suddenly changed from 'perfectly normal, typical FM radio harmless prank" to throwing up their hands in horror.

Amongst it all I thought an editorial in the Herald hit the nail on the head: What holds a civilised society together is an understanding of action and consequence, a duty of care to each other that allows some elasticity for fair mischief and good humour, but does not contravene a handful of basic tenets: humanity, dignity, compassion, respect.

By the way, 2Day FM is the station found to have breached the ''decency provision'' of the broadcasting code when presenter Kyle Sandilands called a female journalist a ''fat slag'' and a ''piece of shit'' on air because she'd dared to criticise him.

The culture of a company is set and maintained by management. 2Day FM's management and board need to be held accountable for what is done in the station's name.

Todays extensive coverage in Sydney Morning Herald is here.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Let's call it 'White Elephant Theme Park'

A big announcement this week, that a half-billion dollar Chinese 'cultural theme park' is planned for Wyong, here on the NSW Central Coast.

Excuse my cynicism but it smells to me like one of those grandiose ideas of which I've seen so many, which never happened.

There's just a hint of that in a couple of lines from a report in our local paper:

At a previous meeting a spokesperson for the development company said it had already received support in principle from the Chinese government, which was important in attracting the necessary private funding to develop the centre.

That was followed by the chairman of the developer saying that "...we will now work hard to start detailed planning".

It's all so familiar - float an outrageous idea with broad, generic ideas, before finance is in place or plans are actually prepared.

Apart from all that, I'm struggling to understand the whole project.  A Chinese theme park is hardly appropriate, in keeping, with the Central Coast.

It reminds me of the idea back in the eighties for a Chinese junk to sail tourists around Sydney Harbour. Naturally that was a non starter - on Hong Kong Harbour yes, but Sydney...?

According to the press reports the planned theme park will include  'a full size replica of Beijing's Forbidden City' and 'Panda Paradise' which will have no pandas.


We're told a start will be made on the project sometime in 2015 with completion in 2020.

Watch this space.

The full announcement

Monday, December 03, 2012

Man bites dog bites man

I did like the report of a man who, when arrested by police, thought it would be a good idea to bite a police dog.

Not surprisingly Dexter the dog took exception to the treatment and did what any sensible dog would do - bit him back.

Dexter, as you would expect, was better at it than the man.

Man bites dog