Wednesday, 26 November 2008

You know why i love Thailand?

Ja, i mean besides the awesome food and the ping pong shows, I love the fact that when their government is fucked, they don't wait for the next election to boot out the ruling party, they stand up and do something about it now. Peacefully (for the moment, anyway)! Part of me is in awe of this anti-Thaksin (by proxy), anti-govermnet protest, and the rest of me is thanking my lucky stars that i fly back to Sydney through Singapore!

You know what i love about the UK? In winter? Not much really, but the imported beer is pretty good. This is the third time i've been here this year, and i still cant work out why the food in this place is so bad and so expensive. The supermarkets are world class, and really good produce isnt that expensive, but good god, eating in restaurants is paralysingly expensive, and the food is SHIT. Don't get me wrong, i dont actually pay for my own food (chortle, chortle), but i actually cook every meal i can at home because the food here is so awful. Anyway, enough whinging, i have some home renovation shows to watch...

'This is ridiculous and inconsistent'


I'm having a sick day today, so spent quite a bit of time reading articles on the internet...... just like i would do on a work day.... anyways amongst my reads I came across this article quoting Jeremy on the state of telecoms so thought it was worth a post. Now I wonder if Mrs MacDonald frequents this site often enough to see the post....?

So you think you are on the ball....

Hi All

So you think you are on the ball?
You think you can count accurately?
That you are aware of what is happening around you?
That you always see the bigger picture....


If this link doesn't work as this is the first time I'm trying to post a video - just google: Awareness video on you tube.

It is all about CHANGE.
You need to be aware of everything that is happening around you.
It means looking at life from a different angle in order to expand your horizons.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

errrrr..... this is quite big!

From business day this morning:

An inconvenient truth
WHEN Water Affairs and Forestry Minister Lindiwe Hendricks said in Parliament this year that SA was not facing a water crisis, we believed her. We had to. The electricity crisis had brought the country to the brink of economic disaster, and no one was in the mood for any more doom and gloom.

But now a hard-hitting paper outlining just how critical SA’s water situation is has been banned from being delivered, and its author, Anthony Turton, an internationally respected political scientist at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), has been suspended and charged with insubordination.

Read the rest of the article here

Although more drastic than previous reports, this is not new. The report below was published in Sept in Engineering News:

Gauteng may face 2013 water crunch, top official admits

Accelerated infrastructural planning is under way by the Departmentof Water Affairs and Forestry (Dwaf) to supplement water supply to the Vaal dam, and failure to do so will result in a water shortage in Gauteng by 2013.

Dwaf director-general Pam Yako says, “Unless we do something about the current growth trends and needs, we are going to have a water shortage by 2013.”

This is disconcerting, given that the Vaal dam supplies water not only to Gauteng and the mines in Mpumalanga and the North West province, but also supplies the bulk of Eskom’s power stations.

The necessary planning is taking place and feasibility studies are being finalised for possible projects. The department is also considering upgrading a phase of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, or sourcing water from the Tugela river, in KwaZulu-Natal.

“We are looking at this issue very seriously. “But, even with the fastest implementation, these [projects] will only be ready by 2019. We need to do something for the next six years,” says Yako.

She says that, unlike electricity, there is no national grid for water, but rather a dependence on regional schemes.
Currently, there are 6,9-million people without access to adequate water in the country. “What do we do to make sure that community needs are balanced with economic needs?”

One of the challenges in South Africa is unlawful irrigation. In the Vaal area alone, illegal water abstraction accounts for losses equivalent to 100 ℓ/m for every household.

“We urgently need to [plug] the leak in this system,” says Yako, adding that the department has not been strong on compliance, monitoring and enforcement, but that it will “step up” efforts to deal with these challenges.

“It will take a long time to get new infrastructure of the magnitude and scale that we are talking about, and conservation and demand management are critical going forward, together with reviewing irrigation technology practices.”

While the majority of South Africans are supplied with safe drinking water in the larger towns and cities, a lack of technical expertise and inadequate treatment infrastructure has resulted in poor drinking water quality challenges, inadequate investment in operation and maintenance infrastructure and sustainability of current infrastructure.

Meanwhile, 94% of municipalities are monitoring water quality and also reporting this to Dwaf; municipalities continue to be challenged by a lack of investment in maintenance and rehabilitation of water services.

Dwaf technical regulation deputy director Leonardo Manus says that all available indicators show that the vast majority of South Africans are enjoying safe tap water, but failure, though not exclusively, occurs in smaller towns and rural areas.

“These challenges are being addressed by constantly applying regulatory pressure on municipalities to rectify and improve where and when required,” he says.

Dwaf and the Department of Provincial and Local Government are investigating the possibility of placing water services functions under their administration.

“This is a controversial issue. Municipalities have a constitutional responsibility, and we have a responsibility to monitor and regulate, and we will be playing this regulatory role more [rigorously]. The process of intervention is not as easy as it should be, because one has to deal with an independent sphere of government. There is a process to follow, and I think the debate on how we deal with the new dispensation, roles and functions between municipalities and national government is one of the issues to look at, especially where there is seriously no capacity,” she says.

As a result, Dwaf will be “beefing up” its regional offices to improve its support for municipalities. Yako suggests that the National Treasury should look at the possibility of incentivising municipal asset management.

The Cape Town, eThekwini, Buffalo City and Nelson Mandela municipalities have been identified as key cities requiring urgent water conservation and demand management attention.

“There are enough water resources, but there is a big need to address some of the challenges, such as pollution, illegal water abstraction and contamination. We need to institute water conservation and demand management in many parts of the country, where the demand is more urgent,” says Yako.

Dwaf national water resources deputy director-general Dr Cor-nelius Ruiters says that the general state of wastewater infrastructure is a cause for concern, with the general status of water treatment infrastructure varying from world class to extremely neglected.

Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Dear Reader

I'm sure most of you know of Harris Tweed, and some of you know them personally. Their 1st album did nothing for me really. Phil mentioned a while back that one of the dude's from menomena had come out and was producing their new album. Well they've changed their name to Dear Reader and are now touring Europe, opening for Lambchop and Andrew Bird. Some of the tracks from the upcoming album are on their myspace page. Have a listen. You can hear the Menomena influence, and it really works!

Saturday, 15 November 2008

New ethics rules?

Um... It is just me, or is this a little strange? Private funding for government functions? I don't get it.

Obama Transition Team Adopts Ethics Rules

Published: November 11, 2008

WASHINGTON -- A top adviser to President-elect Barack Obama said Tuesday that the transition team would raise about $7 million to cover its costs, supplementing $5 million in government funds, but would reject donations from lobbyists or corporations and rely instead on the same pool of small donors who helped propel the Democrat to victory.

“We’ll raise all that money from individuals,” said John D. Podesta, who is a co-chairman of Mr. Obama’s transition team. “There’s a $5,000 limit on those contributions.”

In his remarks to a packed briefing room in the temporary transition offices here, Mr. Podesta, a former of chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, seemed intent on striking a tone of brisk efficiency and in advertising what he insisted would be historically high standards.

Under the rules announced by Mr. Podesta, federal lobbyists will not be allowed to raise money for the transition, nor continue lobbying while working in the transition. In addition, he said that someone who became a lobbyist after being involved in the transition would be prohibited from lobbying the administration on related matters for 12 months.

“These are the strictest ethics rules ever applied,” he said.

Mr. Podesta also vowed that the new administration would move “very aggressively and very rapidly” to address the country’s energy challenges, shifting American factories and consumers toward cleaner sources of power while creating more jobs.

Mr. Obama’s first priority was “to stabilize the economy and put America back to work,” he said.

Reiterating what Mr. Obama said at a news conference last week, Mr. Podesta said that if Congress did not pass an economic stimulus package in a lame-duck session next week that was announced on Tuesday, it would be “the first item of business after he is inaugurated.”

He confirmed reports that the transition team was reviewing options for closing the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, but provided no details.

Mr. Podesta also said that Mr. Obama had no plans to meet with any of the world leaders coming to Washington this weekend to take part in a financial summit meeting — “either here or in Chicago,” where Mr. Obama is spending most of his time for now.

He described a brisk pace for some transition actions, noting, for example, that fact-finding teams would review more than 100 agencies and commissions starting next week to aid in decisions on budget, personnel and policy.

He said that Mr. Obama wanted to expand on the practice of some presidents of selecting one cabinet member from the opposition party, but that whoever was chosen, it was rare for any cabinet members to be named before December.

“At a moment when we face the most serious challenges of a lifetime,” said Mr. Podesta, referring to the ailing economy. “President-elect Obama wants to assure that we hit the ground running on Jan. 20, because we don’t have a moment to lose.”

While new administrations almost always promise to hew to strict ethical standards, Mr. Podesta’s language was particularly strong as he promised “the strictest, most far-reaching ethics rules of any transition team in history.”

He said about 450 people would be hired to undertake the work of preparing for the new administration, promising a transition “that is efficient, that is organized, that is bipartisan, and more open and transparent than others before.”

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Keeping the Obamayomamamisms coming

Office of the President-Elect?

Is it me or is a bit weird? He isn't in government yet. Howcome he gets to use a .gov address?

Monday, 10 November 2008

We will miss you, Mama Africa

Miriam Makeba died last night in Italy after performing a concert. So sad. She was 76 years old.

I love these old B&W videos with her, she was simply amazing.

Americans may have elected Obama but they still suck

Not all of them, obviously. Just the crazies, who have gone out and bought tons of guns in expectation that the incoming administration will tighten gun control; and the hypocrites in Congress and big business who've begun open, shameless pleading with the Bush administration for lots of taxpayer pork to bail out General Motors, which is seemingly about to file for bankruptcy. GM will probably get it too. They make crap cars let them FAIL!

Friday, 7 November 2008

Battleship boardgame for ten dollars!

The crisis has its up-sides.

"Indeed, the situation for retailers is so dire that it is creating opportunity for any consumers in a mood to spend money. Seven weeks before Christmas, stores are offering eye-catching bargains as they struggle to move merchandise.

“This is the year the consumer has been given a holiday gift beyond belief,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for NPD Group. “You can get anything, anywhere, at any price.”

Malls are papered with sale signs, some seven feet tall and obscuring storefronts. New merchandise is being marked down before it even hits the sales floor. Stores are extending their hours and offering the kinds of deals — “doorbusters” — that are usually reserved for the day after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday.

Kohl’s will stay open until midnight this Friday and offer an array of doorbusters, such as $250 diamond earrings for $77.99. Kmart is offering “early Black Friday” deals on Sundays, such as a Sylvania 32-inch LCD television for $439.99, instead of the usual $549.99.

Even Wal-Mart, whose sales at stores open at least a year were up 2.4 percent in October, began a big discount program on Thursday, lowering prices on thousands of food and gift items. It is cutting the price of a Magnavox Blu-ray player to $198 from $229, and of the Battleship board game to $10 from $14.38"

From the NYT.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008