Friday, April 29, 2005

3 strikes and you are out (of pocket)

Originally uploaded by Other Rants.
Is this yet another covert influence of fundamentalist Christianity on state policy? The latest leak from the Health Minister's office is regarding Medicare rebates for IVF. Women are to get only 3 rebatable goes at IVF per year if under 42 and over that age it is 'three strikes and you are out (of pocket)'. Is man (sic) to be punished for interfering with god's work or is this just another cost cutting measure based on a dumb look at the figures. The statistics that the department is quoting is that across all ages, 90% women tend to stop IVF after 3 or less procedures, therefore think the bureaucrats, that must mean they are all pregnant! Strangely they have discounted the fact that IVF resulting in live birth is successful in only 18% of cases.

It is a strange measure for a "pro family" government to adopt in a time when they are telling women to stop what they are doing and just go out and have babies. It's a message that a Ballarat teenager recently heeded. However after keeping her pregnancy secret and managing to give birth in her bedroom, while her mother had nipped outside to put out the washing, she became silent to the governments wishes and repeatedly punched the neonate in the head, cracking its skull, causing its death. Was she concerned about the lack of childcare places, the new policy to have all solo parents out into the workforce by the time their child turns 5 or was she just another rape victim who had inadequate resources to nurse who through her trauma? The fact is the governments desire to get the population numbers up, run contrary to so many of their other policies.

Infertility, like obesity, is becoming one of our modern day epidemics, one not caused by microbes but of affluence. The pill contributes to some cases of acquired infertility, inappropriate and inadequate nutrition to others. Some claim computer use, flying in planes and various other sources of radiation is another contributor. It is clear that a healthier and happier population is more likely to be a fertile one. However, this is not an easy number to crunch and stays off the politician's agenda.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

thought for the day

Am listening to Radio National where they are talking about blogging. A new blog is created every 7 seconds, so that's a baby blog being born as i write...and another...

"Blogs are the first genre to come out of the web to make sence" hmmm will muse on that one.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Home of the Queer

Originally uploaded by Other Rants.
Congrats gay kiwis, you can now join together in a State blessed union. Personally i have no idea why any sane person would wish to marry, but the civil union, for sake of things like being recognised as a legal partner (superannuation when your partner leaves you, life insurance if they die, a right to contest wills and other such legal mazes) is yet another progressive step forward. Interestingly hets too can apply for a civil union, for those straight couples who have wedding jitters but want civil recognition. I love my equal opportunity homeland.

Some would say that its no ones business as to how your relationship is viewed, it only matters to those that are in it. But personally i think that comes from a priveledged view point. So book a trip to NZ, break out the champers and toss the confetti. But most of all watch the christians turn blue from holding their breath and stamping their feet about this one.

Civil Union Services Available From Tuesday
Friday, 22 April 2005, 4:50 pm
Press Release: Department Of Internal Affairs
22 April 2005

Civil Union Services Available From Tuesday

From Tuesday next week customers will be able to access civil union services throughout New Zealand, the Department of Internal Affairs said today.

The Civil Union Act comes into effect on Tuesday 26 April, allowing couples to apply for and enter into civil unions.

Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages Brian Clarke says the Department has been working towards this "go live" date since the legislation was passed at the end of last year.

From Tuesday, our offices and agencies across New Zealand can accept applications for civil union licences. Applicants will need to attend in person when seeking a licence, as a statutory declaration is required. It is a legislative requirement that licences cannot be issued earlier than the third day after application, so we don't expect any ceremonies to take place until 29 April.

With the recent appointment and publication of a national network of over 600 civil union celebrants, customers can be confident of accessing celebrant services nationwide for a private or registry office ceremony, says Brian Clarke.

He says information about civil unions, including downloadable forms, have been available on the website for several weeks, together with a customer brochure that provides information about civil unions and includes how to apply for a licence and an outline of the ceremony.

We are pleased that we have the people, systems, processes and agency arrangements in place for the introduction of civil unions next week. We will continue the process of appointing civil union celebrants as applications are received and we will be closely monitoring the delivery of our services to ensure we are meeting our customers expectations while honouring our responsibilities under the Civil Union Act, concludes Brian Clarke.

Monday, April 25, 2005


Anzac day. A good weekend to plug in the ipod and block out all the hype. The continuous glorification of war is making me nauseas. The endless tv/radio programs never seem to mention that the purpose of war is power, greed and a vehicle to legitimise murder. These “brave men” (and sometimes women) have been nothing more than cannon fodder as the machinery of mass killing evolves throughout the ages. I have no issue with those who have served. They have been manipulated by propaganda or circumstance to lay their life or sanity on the line. It serves no purpose to vent my spleen at the cogs of this machine.

This being the 90th anniversary of the landing of ANZAC troops at Gallipoli, means that these now long dead diggers are the focus of nationalistic frenzy. At a time when we have just sent more troops off to Iraq (the government breaking yet another election ‘promise’) focusing on this disastrous campaign in WWI creates a distraction, lest the public notice we are sending more hapless cogs off to slaughter. Gallipoli is a particularly odd military action to immortalise. Rebadged as a wonderful testimony to mateship, the reality is this was yet another hopeless battle that didn’t need to be fought in the first place. The issue of what we were doing fighting a war in Europe in the first place aside, this was yet another military blunder resulting in 8,000 of “our boys” dead (though something like 30,000 english and French soldiers also died). History reads like a good horror novel. One of the ‘baddies’ to slip through the story is that of an alcoholic commander who is largely responsible for the carnage. Later he was shipped off home safely for a cup of tea and a good lie down.

Perhaps this is a good day to not only ponder the futility of war, but consider what in our own life is futile, badly thought out or alcohol driven – and take a reality check. History need not always repeat.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

The dairy conspiracy

Originally uploaded by Other Rants.
I am not the greatest fan of dairy products. For years I have been sickened by the propaganda generated by the dairy foods industry that milk = the best source of calcium for strong bones. Dieticians have always swallowed it whole. The public continues to be duped by the advertising they take as fact.

In recent years there has been gathering support to show that the industry has been hoodwinking us and in fact, milk may be the cause of weak teeth and bones.

Doubts over milk's role in strong bones
Peta Bee

HOW COMFORTING it is for parents of the child who won't eat to know that at least she's getting calcium from that evening cup of milk.

Drinking milk and eating dairy foods as a way to strengthen bones has always been something of a mantra for the layman and nutritionist worried about the risks of developing osteoporosis in later life. But recent research has raised questions about the benefits of milk, yoghurt and cheese on bone health.

A report in a recent issue of the US journal Pediatrics (2005;115(3):736-43) suggests there is ``scant evidence'' that dairy intake has much effect on promoting strong bones. The report's authors - researchers on the Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) in Washington - based their findings on a review of 37 studies.

Of these, 27 showed no relationship between dairy foods or dietary calcium and bone health in children and young adults, while the remainder found only a small association. This led researchers to conclude that ``under scientific scrutiny, the support for the milk myth crumbles''.

According to Amy Joy Lanou, a nutritionist in the PCRM team, calcium, of which dairy food is a source, does play an important role in the development of bones. But Dr Lanou says their findings showed that physical activity during the peak years of bone growth (between birth and the early twenties) is a far stronger indicator of a strong skeleton in adulthood than dairy consumption. ``It is really important for parents to understand that milk is not a necessary food for young people,'' she says.

``If children can't drink milk for health or other reasons, their bones are still going to be just fine.'' There is no denying that osteoporosis is an increasing problem. According to Osteoporosis Australia 1.9 million people in Australia had the condition in 2002 - a number expected to jump to 2.2 million by 2006, and to 3 million by 2021.

Every eight minutes someone is admitted to an Australian hospital with an osteoporotic fracture. This is expected to rise to every three to four minutes by 2021.

As many as four out of five people with osteoporosis don't know they have it, according to Osteoporosis Australia, which could explain the much lower incidence rates recorded in official statistics. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimated that 52,000 Australian men, and 248,000 Australian women, had osteoporosis in 2001 - about 1.6 per cent of the population. Because the condition becomes more common with age much higher incidence rates are recorded among the elderly. According to the 2001 Australian National Health Survey, 10.5 per cent of women aged 65-74 had osteoporosis, increasing to 12.3 per cent among women over 75. The percentages among men were 1.2 per cent and 1.5 per cent respectively.

However other experts suggest that the emphasis on dairy foods is overplayed, and point out instead the importance of other factors including weight-bearing exercise, genetics, smoking, protein consumption and an adequate intake of vitamin D.

Walter Willett, head of nutrition at Harvard University School of Public Health and the principal investigator in the Nurses' Health Study (which has followed the diet and lifestyle habits of 72,000 women for 25 years), says that there is ``no solid evidence that merely increasing the amount of milk in your diet will protect you from breaking a hip or crushing a backbone in later years''.

Professor Willett found instead that women who drank a glass of milk twice a day for many years were as likely to a suffer broken bone as those who drank only a glass a week.

In a separate study of 43,000 men the Harvard research team also failed to link long-term low-dairy consumption with brittle bones.

It has also been suggested that dairy foods and meat can even promote a leaching of calcium from the bones. According to Colin Campbell, of the department of nutritional biochemistry at Cornell University, these foods contain good amounts of animal protein, which makes blood more acidic; the body tries to neutralise this by drawing calcium from the bones.

Professor Campbell argues that the more dairy people eat, the more calcium they will need to consume to balance these losses. His research has shown that in Asian countries, where dairy intakes are low, their populations suffer one fifth fewer broken bones than in Britain or America. ``Those countries that use the most cow's milk and its related products have the highest fracture rates and the worst bone health,'' he says.

Bridget McKevith, a nutrition scientist for the British Nutrition Foundation, says that adults and children need no more than 0.8g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight every day, about two servings. ``Too high an intake of animal protein is known to affect bone health adversely,'' she says. ``The same is true of highly processed foods and products that cause high levels of acidity, such as fizzy drinks.'' But McKevith and the majority of nutritionists remain cautious about the suggestion emerging from this research that it may be time to ``ditch the dairy'', because full-fat milk is a ``convenient source'' of fat and calories for children under 12.

``Some calcium is essential in the diet,'' she adds, ``and dairy remains a useful way to get it, although it is not the only step we should take to protect our bones.''

The Times

Friday, April 22, 2005

just the kind of help you need when you are up the duff

Almost choked on lunch on wednesday while reading "The Australian". In response to a question in the senate the government has disclosed who gets what regarding pregnancy counselling. This is in light of some Liberal reactionairies trying to bring abortion back onto the agenda, or rather push it back into the 'Vera Drake' dark days. The stats came out, while i have searched the Australian site on line in vain for the actual article this is a close approximation. About $1.2 mil is dished out to agencies that aid women in finding a solution to their unplanned pregnancy dilema. Just over $100,000 each goes to family planning and another womens health agency. The rest, over $900,000 goes to an agency run by the catholic church. You can just imagine what kind of unbiased advise they give. It's one thing for women hating religions to dupe the public with innocent looking "pregnancy help" advise lines, but another for our non sectarian government to fund them.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

New strategy to decrease prison overcrowding - outsourcing gone crazy

In the shadow of the notorious Corby trial (is she innocent or just really, really stupid to take coals to Newcastle?), nine little Aussies are arrested in Bali. In its self it’s not unusual for Australians to be busted for drugs in Asia. But this time our own federal police had been hot on the heels of the ‘Bali nine” for at least 2 months. So why then did the feds tip off the Indonesian authorities just as the perps were leaving the country? Wouldn’t this be a coup for our own Customs operation to apprehend them as they entered Australia with 11 kilos of heroin strapped to their bodies? It would have made great viewing on “Boarder Security” at the very least.

While civil libertarians, and anyone with half a brain is outraged by this exercise of neighbourly cooperation, our opposition leader, Kim “Bomber” Beazley says its “nit picking” to worry about where these people were arrested. Let’s have a think about it Kim, if your daughter was the hapless mule, where would you have preferred her to be busted? What are the differences between the Indonesian and Australian criminal justices systems? Oh slightly larger scale corruption, hell hole prisons and if found guilty you get to tango with a firing squad. I know our prisons are over crowded but is this really the best way to save money in the crime budget?

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

outsider runs for pope

Originally uploaded by Other Rants.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Selling your soul to the devil

My lonely commentor (there is only one, it can get lonely sometimes) seems to think i am letting the side down and slipping to the point of no return on some kind of genitalia fetish. So as not to forget my roots, here's a piece from Aljazeera. Interesting to see how what some may consider to be "the other side", think of the US army.

On a similar subject heard an amazing piece on NPR (national public radio, US) about how army recruiters have a firm toe hole in the schools now. Government threatens the already pitiful public funding of schools if they don't give the recruiters access and vocational guidance staff must always mention the military as a career option for their students.

Can't wait til little johny brings it in here.

More US troops questioning Iraq duty
by Christian Henderson
Sunday 10 April 2005 1:43 PM GMT

As the tally of American casualties in Iraq continues to rise, so does the number of soldiers uneasy about serving in the two-year-old war.

US army figures indicate that since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, about 5500 military personnel have absconded.

In 2003 an independent advisory service for US military personnel, the GI Rights Hotline, received 32,000 calls, twice as many as in 2001, from soldiers wanting to leave the military. 

Some refuse to serve for political reasons, others are just unwilling to go to a country where 1500 US soldiers have been killed and more than 11,000 wounded.

Many soldiers who object have already spent time in Iraq and become disillusioned by their experiences.

Camilo Mejia is one of them. He spent six months in a combat unit in Iraq after the invasion, and upon returning to the US for a vacation decided he would not return for moral reasons.

He subsequently served a one year prison sentence for deserting.

Hard to justify

Mejia says his experiences in Iraq shocked him.  

"The commanders wanted us to get into firefights because they wanted to put that on their resume to make them look better," Mejia told "Thirty people were killed by my unit. About three of those people had weapons."

"Once you come home it's really hard not to think about it. You start going back to those moments and it's really hard to justify that," he said.

As some soldiers begin their second or even third tour of Iraq, Mejia says many are asking why are they still in the country two years after invasion and after handing over power and overseeing elections.

"'What the hell else are we there for?' Soldiers ask themselves this question. It's like there is no ending," he said.

Unofficial draft

The Pentagon is struggling to maintain enlistment targets.

According to army figures the active-duty army in March missed a monthly recruiting goal for the first time since May 2000, and the Guard and Reserve are also lagging.

And as the Pentagon struggles to find enough troops to replace already overstretched units in Iraq and Afghanistan, many say it is resorting to measures that amount to an unofficial draft.

"We think there is a draft but a different kind because it doesn't include everyone," Robert Dove, an administrator with the Quaker peace group American Friends Committee, told

Stop loss

Dove points to the US Army's "stop loss" policy, which prevents soldiers from retiring or leaving the military after they have finished their duty.

Carl Webb says he is a victim of this policy. He went Awol after being given orders to return to duty when he had just finished three years of part-time service in the US National Guard.

"One month before I was due to leave they gave me these orders [to return to service] ... I enlisted for three years in August 2001, which meant that my time was up in August 2004. I am saying this is illegal," Webb told

"The policy that they have now is the policy of not allowing people to leave or calling back men who are 40 or 50-years-old. It doesn't affect the general public," he said.

Overloaded system

Despite the vocal protests of some of those who refuse to serve, there is evidence that the number of desertions has actually declined.

"We have had a steady decrease in the number of deserters," a US Army spokeswoman said.
"Most of the people who are deserting are continuing to desert for the same reasons. ... The number of people who have deserted for reasons of conscience is very, very small," the spokesperson told

To be sure, cases of soldiers coming out against the war and registering themselves as "conscientious objectors" are still far less than the 190,000 claims filed during the Vietnam war.

But despite the army's figures, Dove of the American Friends' Committee believes the number of deserters is actually much higher.

"There are at least 5000 and I am sure that means there are a lot more. The system is overloaded," he says.

Poverty draft

Webb says he joined the National Guard simply because he needed to supplement his income.

"I didn't have any money. I was broke. I was in debt and there was a $2500 bonus for those who joined, so I sold my soul to the devil," he said.

Critics of US Army recruitment policies say that in a bid to meet their quotas, recruiters often operate in poor communities and lure young people with promises of an education and other benefits.

"I think poor people are definitely targeted. We refer to it as a poverty draft. What that really means is that recruiters target low-income people. So when they choose which high schools to recruit people from, they spend a lot more time in high schools in poor areas," Dove said.
He said the benefits of joining the US military were usually less than many recruits were led to believe.

"You can get up to $70,000 in assistance once you have completed your service. Almost no one gets that... Most people who get any money at all get considerably less than that and a lot of people get nothing," he said.

Also, an increasing number of National Guard units are being sent to Iraq, something that has shocked some National Guard recruits.

Great horror

"The National Guard were originally for emergencies within the United States, so a lot of people join the National Guard for a host of reasons, including that when they go for their training camp they will get paid for it," Dove said.
"But in the last two years they have been enlisted, and to their great horror they [have found they] can be sent off to war."

Both Mejia and Webb have added their voices to the anti-war lobby in the US, attending rallies and speaking about the reasons behind their actions.

"The only way this can be resolved is through protests by the masses," Webb says.

For his part, Mejia says he realised while serving in Iraq that the arguments used to justify the conflict were bogus.

"You go into an Arab nation, you kill people, you steal their oil, you destroy their country and charge them to have it rebuilt," Mejia said.

"You are giving terrorism a whole new life."

By Christian Henderson

You can find this article at:

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Big week in news

Interesting week so far:
Feminist Andrea Dworkin has died.

Margaret Thatcher visited a strip club (Mr Stringfellows gave the girls the night off though).

The health of young aborigines has been found to be deterimentally effected by the consequences of the stolen generation.

But all we can talk about was, what was Warney doing in this shot?

Monday, April 11, 2005

Big hope for the little guys

this won't hurt a bit!
Originally uploaded by Other Rants.
you've heard of dickheads...

Surgery gives man chance at fatherhood April 11, 2005

A Russian man born with genitals so small that he was unable to have sex has been given the chance to lead a normal love life after a new penis was "grown'' on his arm during pioneering surgery. In an 11-hour operation, plastic surgeons in Moscow removed the 28-year-old's undersized penis and stitched it on to his left forearm, where they grafted on additional flesh and tissue taken from his inner arm. The newly enlarged organ, which had grown from less than 2ins to nearly 7ins, was then reattached to his groin. His surgeon, Professor Mikhail Sokolshchik, of the National Medical Surgical Centre, hopes that the patient will eventually be able to have sexual relations and father children.
The patient, who comes from a Siberian village and was identified only by his first name, Sergei, paid over £1,000 towards the cost of the operation, which the doctors had warned was performed at his own risk. The bulk of the cost, however, was borne by the clinic, which hopes to market the procedure to similarly afflicted men around the world. Prof Sokolshchik, who has specialised in microsurgery and phalloplasty - plastic surgery for male sexual organs - for 13 years, said: "We've carried out thousands of operations on patients, ranging from female-to-male transsexuals to the treatment of victims of horrific accidents, and have a wealth of experience in amputation, reconstruction and surgical implants. "But this operation was highly risky because it was an amputation, reconstruction and reattachment in one go. If it had gone wrong, the patient would have ended up with no genitalia at all.'' It is thought that up to one in 200 men are born with "micropenises'' - the medical term for male genitalia that are less than two inches long when aroused. Many sufferers find intercourse either difficult or impossible, often having acute psychological problems as a result. During Sergei's operation, the surgeons began by removing the tip of his penis - the most sensitive part - and grafting it to his left forearm, allowing cell and tissue material to be kept alive. Simultaneously, skin from his forearm was cut into two separate flaps, which were rolled up and stitched around flexible tubular silicone implants to fashion a lengthened shaft. The shaft and tip were then joined as one, before they were removed from the forearm and sewn back on to the base of the man's groin. A section of skin from his thigh was then grafted on to his forearm to reduce visible scarring. Throughout the operation, doctors swiftly reattached severed veins, capillaries and nerve endings to reduce the risk of sensory damage. A catheter was attached to the man's urethra. Surgeons have previously used skin from a man's forearm, which is similar in composition to that of the male genitals, in micropenis surgery. Usually, however, the micropenis is not removed. Instead, the artificially created shaft is grafted alongside it. The result is largely cosmetic as the new shaft has little or no sensation. David Ralph, a consultant urologist at St Peter's Hospital and the Institute of Urology in London, who pioneered the original technique last year, said that Prof Sokolshchik appeared to have taken the procedure a stage further. ``This seems to mean that the small penis has been joined to the top of the new one, which is slightly different to our own technique,'' he said.

Prof Sokolshchik, who plans to publish full details of the procedure in a medical journal, said the patient was coming to the end of his two-month recuperation period since the operation. Sergei should soon be able to have sex for the first time. He will not be able to achieve an erection, but will be in a permanent state of semi-arousal. "He has never had a partner or sex because of his micropenis,'' Prof Sokolshchik said. "Now he has the opportunity to begin his sexual and romantic life and to father children, assuming his sperm count is normal.'' He declined to give further details about Sergei, beyond saying that he contacted the centre eight months ago after reading about it on the internet. Sergei still faces challenges in his quest for a successful love life. "He has never had a partner before and lives in a village in an extremely remote area,'' said Prof Sokolshchik. "It may not be that easy for him.'' - The Sunday Telegraph

Sunday, April 10, 2005

an expensive tale

Your local vet (name supplied on demand)
Tax Invoice - receipt 30 mar 2005

Hospitalisation half day cat $30
Anaesthetic cat gas $120
Consultation/examination $37
Bandage cat (0.3m) $10.80
Dental prophylaxis/scale (0.5) $45
Theatre fee - dental $15.50
Elizabethan collar $6.13
Clavulox injection (0.25 ml) $13.19
Clavulox oral suspension (15 ml) $50.00
Rimadyl injection (20 ml) $14.43

Total $324.04
Gst $34.20
Total $376.25

I am in the wrong profession. The mark up in vet land exceeds almost anything (bar the sex industry). Note a generic injectable antibiotic which charges out at $52.76/ml and bandages at over $35.60 a metre (a friendly supplier told me they sell it at $10 per 6m).

This is extortion and I'll be voting with more than my paws.


Saturday, April 09, 2005

The spook who came in from the cold, or actually a warm night in Melbourne

I Spied
Originally uploaded by Other Rants.
The Comedy Festival gig to tickle my funny bone most, was last night's gem "I Spied". Dave Callan (incidentally one of my favourite actors in SBS's experimental drama "Going Home") spent years at a desk job in this country's intelligence organization. Depicting a world where public service bureaucracy meets James Bond, the humour comes from the fact he is telling us how it really is to work for ASIO. Come on lets face it, we all want to know about the world of spooks. This is supremo voyeurism.

But more than that the guy can act, as any successful 1 hour solo show attests. And he can sing! I expect him to reincarnate as a crooner of torch songs next.

Caught a selection of acts while hanging out preshow at Fed Square. Micky D gets the thumbs down for being most unfunny. Just didn't even raise a grin. Cute award to The Pinch boys hamming it up in their cardies. Made you want to take them home and cook them a nice roast.

A hot autumn night in Melbourne. City was buzzing. Take a ride on the ferris wheel by the river (you can see right into the top flor of Taxi and watch the diners).

But just be careful, you never know who's following you :)

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Was it good for you?

It's 5am and most people and felines are snuggled under the doona in downtime melbourne, dreaming that indeed it is a couple of hours before the alarm goes off. It is a cosy scene. Then "bang", its loud, sounds like thunder, then another and another...and more. Not thunder, definitely explosions, a lot of them. There is a helicopter overhead and in the distance I hear gunshots. How would you feel awoken to this? It doesn't sound too safe out there and just how far away is "out there" I wonder.

Not brave enough to venture out, I turn on local radio, searching unfamiliar zones of the am frequency, to find a melbourne station chatting in present time. I stumble upon 3AW for what is likely the first and last time of my life. It's 5.15 and there are ads every 3 minutes, god knows what prime time programming is like. There is incessent talk back. Cranky old bastards talking total shite, then fortunately not long, a caller from inner city melbourne reporting the explosions, helicopter and yes, gunfire. The announcer doesn't sound too phased, unlike the caller who politely wants to know if the world is coming to an end. Another irrelevent call about a rubbish dump on fire, too far away to cause the explosions. Then a caller from a 6th floor apartment in Collingwood who sounds very excited, saying he can see the explosions and its a great show going on, the whole building has been shaking. He is none the wiser to the cause but sounds like its turning him on.

Finally the producer must have pulled out a police press release from earlier in the week announcing that there is a series of counter terrorism exercises occuring in this fair city. No notification of time or place.

It's an hour on. I am mighty annoyed to be woken so early, with no warning and even more pissed off with commercial radio.

I searched the papers online today and it gets no mention. Surely if the public are warned about such things not so much sleep will be lost and police public relations will be improved. But perhaps that is the whole point. Keep the public on their toes, in fear of a faceless invader amongst us. That way we will be happy to sign away an increasing amount of basic human rights, all in the name of fighting terrorism.

Those wacky nips are at it again

Meet the neighbours
Originally uploaded by Other Rants.
More on the way the Japanese are reported. When they aren't wacky (I mean who doesn't love "Iron chef"!) they are dangerous, deceiptful and untrustworthy.

In recent years the official Japanese view of history has angered those who faught against them in WW2, basically by having quite a different take on how they treated those who crossed them in the Pacific. Well the text book writers are at it again, this time upsetting those closer to home.
(from BBC News)
Japan history texts anger E Asia

Japan has approved a set of new school history text books whose version of past events has already sparked complaints from South Korea and China.

One of the eight texts is an updated version of a book which triggered diplomatic protests in 2001.

Seoul said the new books sought to glorify Japan's war-time past, a continuing source of regional tension.

The move follows a row between Japan and South Korea over disputed islands, and anti-Japanese protests in China.

The South Korean Embassy in Japan said in a statement: "The Republic of Korea expresses regret over the fact that some of the 2006 Japanese middle school text books... still contain content that justifies and glorifies wrongs committed in the past".

In Beijing, China called in the Japanese ambassador and said the new texts would be "vehemently condemned by people from all Asian countries being victimized by Japan".

The Japanese government, which says it can only press textbooks to be amended if they contain factual errors, said it was up to individual school districts to decide which books they use.

Schools have until August to make the choice. The books will be in junior high schools from April 2006.

The most controversial of the new books was written by a group of nationalist historians called the Society for History Textbook Reform, and its first version, published in 2001, caused Seoul to recall its ambassador for nine days in protest.

The Chinese ambassador to Japan on Tuesday singled out this book for criticism.

"A textbook by Fushosha Publishing Co has distorted history and hurt the feelings of people in Asia, including China," Wang Yi was quoted by Japanese officials as saying in a meeting with Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Shotaro Yachi.

The Japanese government had demanded 124 changes to the book following the complaints in 2001. These have been made, but the new text still has controversial elements.

It refers to the Japanese slaughter of some 300,000 civilians in the Chinese city of Nanjing as an "incident", rather than the "massacre" it is known as elsewhere.

This book is currently in use in fewer than 0.1% of Japan's schools, but this time the authors are hoping for a better response.

'Lack of detail'

The seven other texts approved on Tuesday are also accused of dispensing with the kind of detail Japan's neighbours say is necessary for a balanced account.

Only one of the books gives figures for the number of civilians killed in the Nanjing Massacre, while the others say "many people" died.

A civic studies text book, approved on Tuesday, is also set to stoke a row between Japan and South Korea over disputed islands.

The book says that "South Korea is illegally occupying" the islands, known as Dokdo in South Korea, and Takeshima in Japan.

Tensions between Japan and China over territory and history are also on the rise.

Japanese businesses in two Chinese cities were targeted on Monday by mobs protesting against Tokyo's attempts to gain a permanent UN Security Council seat.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/04/05 12:34:52 GMT

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Thought for the day

Originally uploaded by Other Rants.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

the sexless marriage, japanese style

This piece in the Age today, originally from the guardian, caught my eye on 2 counts:
firstly, is it xenophobia or what, but most news reports of japan represent them as wacky in some kind of way
secondly, who knows if we are having sex in marriage in australia? The sex industry certainly thrives on some lack there. But what would i know, I've always found being single the best way to ensure a fulfilling sex life :)

From 'I do' to 'I won't' By Justin McCurry Tokyo April 5, 2005

Like many Japanese women, Junko waited until her early 30s to get married. When she and her fiance decided to tie the knot, she set her sights on starting a family. Fifteen years later, Junko and her husband are childless. It is not that they cannot have children; it is just that they have never had sex. The sexless marriage is one of several reasons why experts fear Japan is on the verge of a demographic disaster. In 2003 Japan's birthrate hit a record low of 1.29 - the average number of times a woman gives birth during her lifetime - one of the lowest rates in the world, according to the cabinet office. The population will peak next year at about 128 million, then decline to just over 100 million by 2050. The 200 women a year who seek help at a clinic in the Tokyo suburbs have not had sex with their husbands in up to 20 years, and some never, according to Kim Myong-gan, who runs the clinic. "The women who come to see me love their husbands and aren't looking for a divorce," he said. "The problem is that their husbands lose interest in sex or don't want sex from the start. "Many men think of their wives as substitute mothers, not as women with emotional and sexual needs." Mr Kim's short-term solution is unconventional. After an initial counselling session, he produces photographs of 45 men, mostly professionals in their 40s, with whom the women are invited to go on dates and then arrange regular assignations in hotel rooms. Mr Kim dismissed accusations that his service was little more than a male prostitution ring. "The men volunteer and pay half the hotel and restaurant bills, so legally there is absolutely nothing wrong with it," he said. He had rescued hundreds of women from despair, he said, but his "sex volunteers" would do nothing to cure the malaise that afflicts the institution of marriage in Japan. "Men don't even think it is a problem if they don't have sex with their wives," Mr Kim said. "They have pornography and the sex industry to take care of their needs, but their wives have nowhere to go. They just suffer in silence." The number of married couples is in rapid decline. In 2000, almost 70 per cent of men and 54 per cent of women between 25 and 29 were unmarried. That bodes ill for the birthrate, as Japanese society frowns upon having children outside marriage. A survey of 600 women found 26 per cent had not had sex with their husbands in the past year. "We are sort of room-mates rather than a married couple," one man, who had not had sex with his wife for two years, told the Asahi Shimbun newspaper. The Government has introduced several measures to lift the birthrate. Fathers will be encouraged to take more than the 47 per cent of annual paid leave they currently use, and their employers will be told to provide more opportunities for them to stay at home with their children. Local authorities, meanwhile, are devising novel ways to increase fertility. In the town of Yamatsuri, women will receive 1 million yen ($A12,000) if they have a third child, and in Ishikawa prefecture families with three children will get discounts at shops and restaurants. The absence of children in so many homes is having an impact. Fun parks are closing and there are signs that the "exam hell" teenagers go through to secure places at top schools and universities is less of an ordeal because the competition is less fierce. The divorce rate has nearly doubled in the past 10 years. More women blame their sexually inactive husbands for break-ups. - Guardian

Monday, April 04, 2005

sweet flowering of anarchy

sweet flowering of anarchy
Originally uploaded by Other Rants.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

ding dong the pope is dead!

Yippee another conservative bites the dust. Lets stop eulogising the old geezer. After all he encouraged the spread of HIV by banning the use of condoms, condemned abortion and womens' right to reproductive freedom. Let alone any remote equality of women within the church, they must remain the cooks, cleaners, caregivers, barefoot and pregnant.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

The politician and his ex girlfriend

We have been feasting on the story of the conservative politician, his ex girlfriend and the love child that turned up working side by side with the unwitting dad in parliament house. We saw the son, rather shocked that the man he perhaps never held with much regard was his father, the father joyous and kind of penitent too and the emotional birth mother happy to reunite.

We loved it. The polie has been leading the charge to take women’s rights to safe, legal abortion back to the dark ages. A staunch catholic now in charge of the health portfolio, stacking advisory groups with reactionary mates. The guys wrestled for many years with becoming a priest, while at the same time actively pursuing sex outside of marriage, playing what he called Vatican roulette.

We all know how effective catholic forms of contraception are, so it didn’t surprise Tony to find his girlfriend was pregnant. They broke up, she was 17 and was in no position to support herself and a child. She acquiesced to giving her child up for adoption.

Fast forward a few decades later. Identities are revealed. Families now accommodate a rediscovered member. Throw celebrity into the mix and the spin doctors pump happy families and a good adoption story to the max. After all we know there is no such thing as a good abortion story. This was a gold mine for Tony and he milked it for all he could get.

But there was a twist. An old flatmate watching the news fell off his seat, that kid looks just like my son, he exclaimed and the memory of a one night stand flooded back. With the might of DNA testing, weeks later a new story unfolds. The babe aint the politicians. The ex girlfriend is given a bit of a grilling as to her wanton behaviour.

Ah but it doesn’t end there. Later she coughs up to not one but two affairs. Tony she explains kept dumping her when thoughts of the monastic life beckoned. She hadn’t been two timing, just seeking comfort when her boyfriend dumped her.

How many ‘affairs’ did Tony have? Was it just him, Kathy and god? It doesn’t matter. Nor if she had a thousand lovers. This is just another morality tale. The man comes up clean, the woman tainted and the son? Who knows, but I more than sneakingly suspect he feels relief that the political animal is no relation, just a warm prop whose direction he aimed a microphone at.
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