Archive for the ‘Dumb Citizens’ Category

Bring Back Hanging!

A Texas man has been arrested for failing to return a library book. Others have been jailed although a 4 year old was allowed to pay a fine and avoid incarceration. This is America, after all. It seems excessive at first glance, at least to those of us that live in a country that doesn’t have more people in gaol than any other in the world and a larger percentage of the population imprisoned than any other. But think about it.

If you borrow a library book and don’t return it, surely you have formed the intention to ‘permanently deprive the owner thereof’? That’s larceny.

“A person takes and carries away, any thing,  the property of another, with the intent to permanently deprive the owner thereof.”

Even if at the time of the taking and carrying away the intent wasn’t formed, surely when the due date fell and he still didn’t take it back he had decided to keep the goods. Three years later given he still lives in the same town one could be forgiven f0r thinking he wasn’t going to return the book (and complete his contract with the library) unless he was given some serious motivation. A night in the County Jail did the trick.

So was it excessive? Books cost a lot of money and not returning them on time deprives others from being able to read them. Crime is crime, is it not? Where does one draw a line? Read the article linked here and let me know your thoughts.

 

Not Welcome In Australia

This is absolutely beyond the pale. What is it with these people? Shooting two teenage girls because they were filmed dancing in the rain? With other children and wearing full traditional dress, yet according to the twisted, misogynistic madmen that masquerade as men in their community, they brought dishonour on the family and had to be killed. What a sad, tragic joke!

I don’t care what the limp wristed types will say, there is no excuse for this in any society in this day and age. It is not right and never has been and trying to excuse it as a cultural anomaly is insulting. I hope our immigration people take note and refuse entry to any from these communities. interrogate them and discern if they hold such  a medieval mindset and if so, refuse them entry on any grounds. Even if the rest of their family are here, don’t let them in.

We have seen these so called ‘honour killings’ in the UK among some communities. Mostly Middle Eastern, Pakistani and Indian but not limited to these nationalities. Girls brought up in a western culture savaged by the beliefs and practices of a foreign culture that has no place among western communities. We can’t go there and behave in our ways, they would kill us. So why do we let them come to our society and bring their evil mindsets with them?

Of course not every Pakistani, Yemeni or Muslim holds these views or condones such behaviour. I would be certain of saying most would condemn these murders. I am not talking about denying them entry; just the other kind. Too many are already here as asylum seekers or with legitimate visas and some have committed crimes against women such as the rape at Macquarie University by a Sri Lankan asylum seeker housed in student accommodation recently and other attacks. It is not Islam or Muslis (in the Macquarie case I doubt the Sri Lankan was a Muslim; most likely Tamil) but the individuals and the specific cultures they come from within larger ethnic or religious societies that simply do not get it. They do not share our views on women and their place in our society.

Sadly, many of our older generation, politicians and even younger people from some demographics are still behind the times. But they are our own, home-grown problem. Let us not add to the issue by importing more of their ilk and worse. If this post makes me a racist, then so be it. Call me what you like but don;t call on me and cry when it is your daughter, sister, wife or mother that has been brutally introduced to what ‘real men’ in some parts of the world believe is how to treat other human beings, albeit the female variety.

Let us be very clear on this; it has NOTHING to do with religion and everything to do with ego, pride and men being evil. Religion is often quoted as the rationale, the authority for such crimes but no religion in the world condones this. As the BBC write on their web site:

‘Tradition, not religion’

None of the world’s major religions condone honour-related crimes.

But perpetrators have sometimes tried to justify their actions on religious grounds.

“Honour crime happens across the board in the Asian community,” says Ram Gidoomal of the South Asian Development Partnership.

“People try to blame Muslims, Hindus or Sikhs but it tends to happen in families where there are the strongest ties and expectations. It’s a very strong cultural issue.”

Leaders of the world’s faiths have also strongly denounced a connection between religion and honour killings.

Winbase Equities – Thieves, Conmen or?

Last year I was contacted by a salesman from Hong Kong based investment firm, Winbase Equities. I was looking for a place to invest some of my Self Managed Super Fund money so I agreed for him to have the broker call. David Sperring called me and came across as a knowledgeable and decent professional. The pitch was that they bring new clients aboard with an investment in Heating Oil in November and vacation gasoline in June as these futures always make strike and you never lose your investment. I did my due diligence and while the basic information seemed accurate I can’t say their promise of making $65,000 from $5,000 seemed a lot to make from one trade, especially as they said they only take 1% if I make money but I figured plenty of others make millions this way, why not give it a try. Of course, I was naive and uneducated in the ways of investing on the stock market but I did my best to investigate the firm, the broker and the market.

All seemed plausible and I was prepared to risk my five large because sometimes you have to take risks to get anywhere. If I had known about Puts and Calls I would have hedged this ‘bet’ with a Put, or sell order so that if the price dropped I could get my money back. I would lose all if it didn’t make ‘strike’ without the put. In this case that was about 34 cents per share more than the starting price. In fact the price never went up more than a few cents this year and so when my option expired I lost my money. No problem, that’s the risk you take. At least that is how I would have felt if I hadn’t been let’s say, managed, or handled.

Let me be the first to say I have little doubt everything David and Winbase Equities did was legal and by the book. The book of course doesn’t say they have to ‘educate’ the investor but one would think it ethical to at least advise him properly; at least it is considered so in Australia. David, once I had sent my five grand off to the bank account they use in China, said I might be in luck and Richard, the big boss, might call me and give me some of his precious time. Lo and behold Richard did indeed call me. Spoke to me at length and very ‘folksy’ he was too. Lots of ‘genuine’ interest about the wife and kids and of course how rich he had become doing this very same investing thing.

It was then the alarm bells rang loud. He was too suave and smooth and I knew a sales pitch when I heard one. He told me about puts and calls and how you must have a put or else you could lose the lot. OK, why didn’t David warn me of this, he knows all about puts and calls? Oh, I would have to invest more to ‘qualify’ for a put to cover my calls. I didn’t have another $5,000 to invest but Richard let me stew on this over the weekend then called back with the ‘good news’. The company was willing to throw in $3,000 f the needed $5,000 because they like me or whatever. As if! They would never risk a dime of their own money, no company would. I told Richard I was not spending another dime, we’d see how the options I had fared.

Of course they dived so I sent an email to David Sperring asking him where was my $5,000, exactly? I didn’t mention I had recorded the conversations we had and those I had with Richard but I did get a response. The reply I got was a call from Richard. He wanted me to invest a few more grand and all would be well. I refused and told him I thought his behaviour was sharp practise in my book. A set up. An obvious rip. I accepted it was probably 100% legal but it was certainly not ethical and he wasn’t getting another penny. He was taking this well until I mentioned how I would be blogging about my experiences. That’s when he offered to extend my investment another month! Free of charge. OK, so all of a sudden my $5,000 wasn’t ‘gone’? No, the company would do this just for me because Richard liked me and didn’t want me thinking he was a conman. Please, Richard, don’t expect me to swallow that one.

He did reinstate my account and for another month I watched the price of heating oil go nowhere near where it had to for me to make any money. I doubt it would have and I think the 34 cents was too much, but all part of the sting. They hook you with the call, then advise how you need a put. You save your money and have confidence in them to invest again. I didn’t have the extra to throw in and I guess they are not used to dealing with true peasants like me. Actually I had the extra but I had made it a rule when I invested the $5K that I would test the waters with that and that was all I was prepared to lose.

For me it was a calculated risk, a gamble. It may have paid off but it didn’t. No sour grapes, no crying. What miffed me no end was the way David (who has never once replied to several emails or calls) set me up and Richard finished me off, or tried to. Winbase Equities are still out there, of course. As I said, no doubt they operate within the laws of wherever they are but I would not, based on my personal experience, recommend them to anyone. Even someone I didn’t like. I should have stuck to my original plan and bought that much in silver bullion but I admit to being tempted by the chance to make a significant return. I did think the investment had legs when I paid in but as soon as they closed the trap with the phone call from Richard I knew then, with months to go until the option ran out, I had lost my money.

I have since invested on the stock market and made a small gain by using the hard won knowledge of puts and calls. They lied to me when they said the minimum to have both a put and a call was more than my $5,000. Other brokers do it for less, even if they don’t. I’ll be in Hong Kong in a few months and I know where David works and lives. I think a visit and an apology are in order, but we all know that will take some getting. What do I think happened? I think they buy a swag of options and of course have puts to cover their calls, then they sell parcels of these to punters like me. They get us aboard with the good news, then once they have our money they hit us with the bad news. They select the strike (34 cents in my case) knowing it will never get there. They have their calls at  a more reasonable 15 cents or whatever. They will never lose and they make a ton of money from silly punters like me who buy in at $5,000 and above a time. All legal I guess but hardly ethical. Caveat Emptor. I am aware, have paid for my education and will put the investment to good use. Meanwhile I am starting to investigate just what happened to my money as it was not mine, it belonged to my SMSF and next October the ATO will want to know where it went. Having lost five clams in one year isn’t that bad though, before I started my own super fund the professional incompetents running my other fund were losing me far more!

Reverse Racism – No Such Thing!

If there is one thing that I can not stand it is racism. Having said that, I confess I have my personal preferences on various races when it comes to interaction, for various reasons but none of them because this person is white, black, from here or there. Caution when it comes to strangers is a human survival trait and being able to detect strangers due to their looking differently or speaking a different language is part of what has kept our genes moving along the line. But this does not condone hating people because they are a different race or nationality. It does not mean you discriminate on the grounds of racial differences, but of course when making choices you differnetiate on some grounds or another. But because their government is disputing a bunch of rocks in the middle of the South China Sea?

A Beijing restaurant has refused service to those tourists from countries involved in maritime disputes with China; Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines. The dog reference is a play on a mythical sign alleged to have been posted at a Shanghai park during the 1930s refusing entry to Chinese and dogs and the inference that obviously makes. That argument aside, this reminds me of the most offensive term in the lexicon when it comes to discussing racism. Reverse racism.

Racism is racism, pure and simple. To apply such a term, always when a person of colour (black, brown, Negro, Asian whatever but not white, Anglo or European) is racist towards a white person, is grammatically incorrect if nothing else. I can’t say ‘against a caucasian’ because if we boil things down to the three basic racial types: caucasian, negroid and mongloid (Asiatic), Indians and Sri Lankans (very dark skin tones) are caucasians. Australian Aborigines are also caucasian. Neither are negroid or mongloid. So when someone with darker skin, darker hair and usually brown eyes is racist towards someone with fair skin, fair hair and lighter coloured eyes, then this is reverse racism? As if racism can only go one way! From white to brown/black/whatever. How ridiculous!

No race has a monopoly on racism, it is a human trait. No race is racism free either, because it is a human fault. Here we have a Chinese restaurant owner discriminating on racial lines against other Asians. That is his prerogative and while I vehemently disagree with his action, I support his right to choose who he wants to take money from. Believe me, I have seen some of the worst examples of racism from ‘them’ to ‘us’, reverse racism as the PC crowd would so infuriatingly label it.

When will we ever learn? Personally, if I saw that sign, even if it didn’t refer to me (which it doesn’t) I would not eat there on principle. On Malapascua Island in the Philippines there was a restaurant that refused to serve the local island inhabitants,  only tourists, although they could be Filipino tourists. I never once ate there and it was considered by many the best on the island. Many tourist attractions in the Philippines have higher prices for tourists (eg. Oslob Whale Shark watching) and I always make a point of protesting this. It is not the few extra dollars but the principle. If we tried that in Australia the hue and cry would be considerable and so it should be.

As a pure Anglo-Saxon, I am proud of my Indo-Malay wife and our mixed race children. All are wonderful human beings and each one of them is a proud Australian with a very Australian face. You see, the ‘Face of Australia’ hasn’t been an Anglo-Saxon one like mine for decades, even a couple of generations. The sooner we accept that, embrace it, then move on… the better. Bottom line, we are all humans, Earthlings. We don’t have to love everybody or even like each other but a modicum of respect and common courtesy would make this a better place for all.

Trust Me, I’m An Expert

A woman is in a critical condition in a South African hospital after she was gored by a rhino. The tour guide advised her, it is alleged, to stand closer to the rhino and she did. The animal attacked and now she is fighting for her life. Moral of the story, don’t trust ‘experts’ with your life just because they are claiming they are an expert. Also, never trust a wild animal. Look up ‘wild’ in the dictionary and there is nothing about peaceful, calm, safe, trustworthy to be read. Now check the thesaurus… still nothing akin to ‘you’ll be right, mate’ is there?

Blood Money & Eggshell Skulls

While the suicide of Jacintha Saldanha is tragic, to be fair one must pause and ask a few questions that are definitely not politically correct but nonetheless need to be asked. The nurse took a prank call from a Sydney radio station with the two DJ’s pretending to be HM the Queen and HRH Prince Charles. She believed them to be who they said they were and passed on the call to a colleague who revealed intimate details of the Duchess of Cambridge’s medical condition. A week later, Saldanha has taken her own life and the presumption is that it was directly because of this incident.

First of all, I think it shameful and disgusting that the DJs thought the personal and very private details of anyone’s pregnancy is fair game and should be public knowledge. That is poor taste in the extreme but sadly not a crime, I believe. It raises a lot of questions about what is and isn’t acceptable these days, especially as we seem to be becoming a society of softies, ready to take offence at the drop of a hat.

Secondly, for someone to be so deeply affected they abandon their husband and two teenage children and take their own life is something I can’t fathom. I find it cowardly and selfish in the extreme and I appreciate how devastating such an event is to those who loved the deceased. I have friends who have lost loved ones to suicide and mentioning this no doubt opens old wounds. For that I apologise but I do believe we need to discuss this topic openly, remove the media ban on reporting suicides and let the public know just how widespread a tragedy suicide actually is. I do think some of us are more susceptible to suiciding than others but the eggshell skull doctrine comes into play here.

There is a legal concept called the ‘eggshell skull’ which declares that even if the blow to the head wouldn’t have harmed 99% of the population, it did harm this victim as they had an eggshell skull. In other words each case must be tried on its merits and not on the merits of every other case. If Saldanha is more susceptible to such an extreme reaction to these specific events than anyone else int he world, so be it. But to me she must have had other issues, surely? She only passed on the call, she didn’t initiate it nor did she give the information away. Yet she appears to have felt sufficiently guilty to suicide. Sorry, but to me that is being about as selfish as you can be. We all handle situations differently to some degree but this is an extreme reaction, surely? There must have been underlying issues that were kicked over the edge by this, as if it was the trigger event she had been waiting for. I could be wrong of course but this is the only explanation I can accept as being the most logical.

What about the radio station? They suspended advertising to protect their advertisers from fall out. Fair enough but that was more commercially motivated and PR driven than anything else and that is understandable, they didn’t know the deceased. Yet to offer a $500,000 payment is so typical of today. As if money will fix everything. Blood money. Money will assuage the guilt and cleanse the slate. It is a bit like the news presenter telling us that, at the scene of the bus accident involving twenty schoolkids counselling has been offered to everyone. Great, we can all let out a sigh of relief, they are getting counseling so that means we don’t have to develop a psychosis over this. We sit in our overstuffed lounge chairs watching our giant flat screen TVs and suck up the gospel according to big business and those who mold our minds to consume what they make the most profit from. We are warned that the scenes we are about to see might cause some viewers distress. Well aren’t we bleeding lucky we aren’t actually there on the scene seeing everything! All the real horror of a bomb ripping apart women and children in a Middle Eastern marketplace,  blood and body bits hanging from trees. if they forget to cut out every morsel of reality and accidentally leave us with a large blood stain to shock ourselves over, they warn us before hand Don’t want someone sueing the TV station, do we. Can’t have real life push aside the construct the powers that be create for us so we can continue to consume in guilt free bliss.

Offering the money is as good as an admission of guilt in my book. The radio station is settling out of court, mitigating the collateral damage and all the other 21st century cliches and media catchphrases. A nice, large number, five hundred grand. Minimum. If they make more in ad sales between now and New Year’s then they will hand that over. Why not? It is a charitable donation and thus tax deductible. If they don’t do this they may lose more advertising revenue but now the advertisers can feel good about advertising on a station staffed with DJs who don’t seem to think through their pranks. 2DayFM, the home of the arch idiot and mister arrogance himself Kyle Whatshisname. They must have the most experienced damage control team in the PR world!

So why did Jacintha Saldanha commit suicide? Was it just because of the 2DayFM prank call? Her family claim she is such a devout Catholic this would have been enough to set her off. Thank God I don’t believe in God! It seems like such an onerous responsibility. Make no mistake, the loss of this nurse is a tragedy. What is also tragic is that we, as a society, think it is acceptable, even funny, to trick someone into giving away private information for the sake of a few laughs and some ratings, increased advertising revenues and a couple of ego’s. It is tragic that we feel it acceptable to pay off the family and even use this as a tactic to mitigate the damage and minimise the fallout.

When my wife was pregnant nobody but friends and family cared. No radio stations called, no women’s magazines stalked her for photos of her baby bump. Her pregnancies were just as special and at the same time every day and run of the mill natural as any celebrity’s. Perhaps the real offender here, and the victim, is us. Society. That we give the media the signals that we accept what they do to bring us our bread and circuses. That we want to read this stuff, to be titillated and shocked. It is just a part of the human condition and we’ll never change, no matter how many Jacintha Saldanha’s feel despondent enough to commit suicide. This is not, as a species, our finest moment.

Fat Is An Adjective

Jeff the waiter at Chili’s, Stockton, California in the USA might be fired for listing the customers at Table 1 as ‘Fat Girl’s/1′. When the bill was examined by the customers they took offence at being listed as such. The thing is, are they fat? If they are then what is the problem? Fat is an adjective used to describe someone who is overweight or obese. Why do we take it as an insult? If you are fat you know it, so why pretend otherwise? If you are fat and someone describes you accurately, why make a fuss and seek their termination from their job?

This is indicative of our soft society. We are so damn quick to take offence at anything that doesn’t stroke our egos these days. I am fat. I am a fat man and I know it. Call me fat by all means, it is merely an accurate description. If you were reporting me to the police as a missing person, surely my body shape and size would help them sort through all the people they might vet quicker than if it is not mentioned. It is no different to describing someone as ‘of Middle Eastern’ appearance, or ‘Indian or Pakistani’ (even if they are Bangladeshi or Sri lankan) or ‘Aboriginal’ appearance. It is not racist! It is reality. Putting someone down because they are of ‘Middle Eastern ‘ appearance or refusing them a job purely because they look ‘Indian or Pakistani’ is racist and it is wrong. Period. But describing them as such isn’t and can’t be. They are fat, or they are of Middle Eastern appearance and so on.

What amuses me is that there is no mention of the size of the three women in the story. My money is they are fat and too often it is the truth that we get upset by.

 

Brave But Stupid 1

No doubt this category will have more candidates in coming months. Today it is all about the California family that have died saving their dog from high surf conditions. Sadly the dog made it out on his own while the 16 year old son that went in after him is yet to be found. The dog chased a stick thrown into the water… begging the question why do that when the surf was so rough? The boy followed to rescue the dog but made it out after realising how bad the conditions were. He was followed by his father and when he got into difficulties, the boy and his mother went to his aid. She was dragged out dead by others, the father’s body washed up while the boy is still missing. Meanwhile the dog swam ashore unaided. I wonder who will throw sticks for the dog now?

I wonder what people are thinking at times like this. I remember many years ago a family rip to the Colo River which was in flood at the time. My dog fell in and was paddling like mad against the current when my sister bravely leapt into the water and helped Bolo to shore. The thing was, as much as I loved my dog and still have sibling moments with my sister, I wouldn’t swap him for my sister. She risked her life because that river was in flood and full of fast flowing debris. I figured Bolo would get back to the bank in a second or so and then we could drag him out. My sister acted instinctively and this is what gets people killed more often than not. It can also mean the difference between life and death, tragedy or heroic rescue but we need to weigh up the risks if we have the time and presence of mind to do so.

The Army use explosive sniffing dogs for two reasons. One, they can smell explosives better than humans, although nowadays we have electronic devices that are pretty close in capability. Two, it is always better to bury the bits of a faithful canine comrade than a human one. The dog is there to take the hit, not the handler and not the people the team are protecting. Throwing a stick into heavy surf is not the smartest way of playing with your dog, nor is going in after him in such conditions. Think before you do anything and accept that Nature is not a theme park, it’s not a ride you can hit the emergency stop switch for and everyone just gets off.

Dead And No Python To Show For It

The things people will do to win free stuff. In Florida a man eating live cockroaches in order to win a python at a contest held in a Miami reptile store finished the contest but collapsed and died outside the store from asphyxia. The roaches got their revenge! Cockroaches are full of protein and have kept many a prisoner alive. The trick is to purge them of any stomach contents and bodily waste, in other words starve them for a day or two before consuming them. In Thailand they cook them and along with many other insets are on sale at street stalls in the later evening. So other than personal revulsion, they can be eaten and they are nutritious.

The problem, as always, lies in the amount of cockroaches eaten and how quickly they are wolfed down (not that wolves eat cockroaches as far as I know). Moderation in all things is a good maxim to live by but it doesn’t win contests. Sadly, knocking back dozens of roaches, not winning and then dying as a result isn’t exactly my idea of a good time but Edward Archbold thought otherwise. And paid the penalty.

Overkill In Taser Death Or…

The tragic death of Brazilian Roberto Laudision Curti this year at the hands of police suggests the officers acted well beyond the guidlelines and were responsible for the student’s death. In fact the Coroner went further to say the police acted thuggishly and like wild ‘Lord of the Flies’ schoolboys with a pack mentality.  I have no doubt they did get caught up in the heat of the moment. Perhaps they had copped hours of abuse earlier in the shift from other yobs?

While I would never condone excessive force it must be remembered the police didn’t take the LSD for Curti that set him off. They didn’t steal two packets of biscuits from the convenience store or report it as an armed robbery. While I agree Curti was of little if any risk to the public or himself, he knowingly and willingly took LSD, a prohibited drug. He broke the law on purpose, to give himself a ‘high’. He is responsble for putting himself in a position of vulnerability and high risk. Whenever you are under the influence of a drug, be it alcohol or even legal medication, you need to be aware the risk of something happening of an adverse nature is increased.

Curti should not have taken LSD and if he had not then he would not have been paranoid and stolen biscuits and ran around frightening people. He is responsible for his actions even though the officers involved are responsible for theirs and their actions led to his death. While no doubt he was loved and lovely, he died a drug crazed thief and no amount of trying to transfer responsibility to the police will change that. Curti is not entirely blameless but he has, no question, paid far too high a price for his choices.

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