Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I have so much cool stuff to write about...

... but some dickheads in Cronulla are going to get a bit more webspace instead. What a great homecoming, bloody race riots in Sydney!!! Anyway, I've got nothing more to add to the huge volume of material out there on the web about this. This whole thing has been one seriously ugly event and I am just struggling to say anything constructive at all. I can't believe John Howard and Kim Beazley's denials of the racist nature of these riots, I just can't even fathom the complete lack of leadership that they have shown.

If you want to read more about this, I strongly recommend Tim's post about this at Road to Surfdom. Also worth a read is Lisa at Desert Pea, Andrew Bartlett, and Anonymous Lefty somehow managed to get a laugh out of me.

Maybe I'll post a bit more about this when I've cooled my head a bit and can actually contribute something.

Oh yea, I had my graduation ceremony yesterday. It doesn't seem so important in light of all of this. Maybe I'll write more about that later too.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Bush's victory plan

As usual, fafblog provides an analysis of the IRAQ VICTORY PLAN (sorry, for some reason I felt that just had to be in bold caps...) that is better thought-out than anything spewed out by the Bush administration.


Today Liberal party donor and shonky businessman, Robert Gerard, was forced to resign from his post on the board of the Reserve Bank of Australia after a week or so of copping it on all sides about his family business' tax evasion schemes.

There can be little doubt that he was told to fall on his sword by Howard and Costello. Costello made a huge mistake in not thoroughly checking out Gerard's business affairs before appointing him to his post at the Reserve. Howard and Costello have got lucky though, as pointed out on LP, the resignation coincides with Friday arvo and the unfortunate execution of Nguyen Tuong Van. Chances are the Labor party won't be able to drag this issue into the next week.

If they could though...

Wouldn't it be nice if Wayne Swan moved in for the kill on Costello on Business Sunday? Why Business Sunday? Well, as pointed out here, a lot of Liberal party voters watch business Sunday. Maybe Swan could dig up some hard evidence that Costello knew perfectly well that his mate was a shonky businessman and that he wanted to reward him for his generous donations to the Liberal Party?

Imagine if 60 Minutes did an expose on Gerard and his dealings with the Liberal Party? Maybe focusing on how he got an invitation to the state dinner with George Bush?

A few well placed media stories could keep this issue rolling on into the next week. Maybe, just maybe by next Friday Howard's people (who don't like Costello much anyway) will start to feel shaky about having Costello as treasurer and will call for him to be axed? Maybe Malcom Turnball will get greedy and have a go at toppling Costello. Or possibly Tony Abbott will have a crack at it?

Wow, I'm so dreaming. We'd need an independent media for all of this to happen. Oh, and an organized opposition....

If Costello goes, the Liberal Party becomes uber-vulnerable. he has been their economy guy. They have sold Costello as being the man that has kept interest rates down. All of a sudden they won't have that. They will have an out-of-touch billionare or a creepy religious guy with their hands on the till. The Howard and Costello double-act is strong because it is a double act. Take away one and the other might fall.

Update: Costello has copped a serve-and-a-half in this Saturday's Oz. The Gerard resignation is the top story with seven articles linked to it. The political editor, Dennis Shanahan puts the boot in and George Megalogenis puts on some big-assed steel-capped 14 hole docs and kicks the living bejesus out of him.

It isn't a huge surprise that the Oz is going after Costello. They don't like him because he doesn't share the Oz's editorialists passion for taxation reform (you know, because people who get paid 100K plus a year aren't wealthy). Whereas Malcom Turnball on the other hand...

After this debacle it seems unlikely to me that Costello has a hope in hell of becoming PM anytime soon. If Labor can keep the heat on you never know what could happen...

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Jack-boot industrial relations

They report in the Oz today that Education, Science, and Training Minister, Brendan Nelson, has warned Australian universities that he plans to suspend the planned funding increase for 2006 while his department checks that the universities have complied with the government's guidelines for enterprise bargaining agreements.

It is bad enough that DEST ties funding increases to the industrial relations policies of a university, but to force an audit and suspend the increases in the meantime just shows the arrogance of the Howard government. This amounts to an unplanned budget cut to universities. As the article states, most universities will either have to borrow money to cover the suspension, or alternatively, will lose interest on the money if they planned to invest it.

Just to put some figures to this, the Labor party claims that the amount of money to be suspended adds up to $153 million. That's a lot of interest and I'm sure that DEST has no plans to compensate universities that have complied with the DEST guidelines for lost revenue over this period.

Make no mistake, this government is hell-bent on governing by ideology and making it clear that they are out to punish all those that get in their way.

Or maybe it's just that Nelson is trying to convince the universities that government funding is so unreliable that they should look to raise revenue in other ways???

Monday, November 28, 2005

The eye of the tiger...

A big shout out to quasi-Dr Andrew Hines as he has now handed in his thesis and just started a post-doc at UBC in sunny Vancouver. To celebrate, he has started a new blog, Eye of the Tiger.

It's fair to say that he is risen up, and back on the streets...

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Evil Dick!

This is funny. Whereas Tim from Road to Surfdom has turned it into pure comedy gold. I think Tim should be writing for the Onion...

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Email Barnaby

If you aren't cool with the Howard government's proposed "Work Choices" industrial relations legislation, you might want to go to this website and send an email to Senator Barnaby Joyce.

Do this especially if you are a Queenslander and point out that he is representing you and that you don't want him to vote for this legislation. I did.

I'm living in a Christmas movie...

So it started snowing on Friday and it still hasn't stopped. Coincidently, the Innsbruck Christmas markets also began on Friday, and they lit the city's Christmas lights and decorations for the first time. The whole city has been transformed into some Christmas winter wonderland. It feels a little like I'm living in the Santa's workshop section of Myers, except the white stuff everywhere is not made out of some polycarbon but is instead cold and wet.

To give you all an idea (and like I promised dk.au), this is what it looked like from my front door yesterday morning:

and this is what the driveway looked like:

As I mentioned earlier, the Christmas markets started on the weekend. These were something pretty foreign to me, we don't really do anything like this in Brisneyland. Basically, from now until Christmas there are markets in the center of town that sell arts and crafts and stuff. More importantly, they sell gluhweine, rum punch, and all sorts of interesting traditional foods as well. For the most part the markets seem to be an excuse for most of the town to stand around in the snow drinking booze ...so naturally I decided to give it a go :-).

Here is a photo of my Canadian mate, Kris Luttmer, eating some special Tirolean Christmas food. It's basically a big donut served sauerkraut in it (definitely weird, but it tasted surprisingly good):

Friday, November 18, 2005

Eight reasons why Howards IR reforms are a scam

Michael Costello in the Oz has done a good job of debunking eight myths about John Howard's planned industrial relations law changes. Anyone who has any opinion at all on the matter should read his article carefully.

Oh, I got pointed to this article by this post at Road to Surfdom. By the way, has anyone else noticed that Tim has writing like a man possesed in the last week?


Like I said, IT'S SNOWING!!!!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

By popular request...

Here is the original version of the photo in the header, the one without the fancy cropping work...

West Wing on the ABC!

Just read in the latest Crikey that the West Wing will be shown on the ABC. Apparently they bought the rites off Chanel Nine and will soon start screening the entire series from the first episode. A definite must watch for anyone interested in politics.

The picture in the header

I took this picture,

while walking to work the other day. It was pretty much the last day of Autumn here in Innsbruck, well at least so I thought. Today isn't too bad, but we are expecting snow tonight and then it's going to continue to come down for the next week or so. You should see the same landscape now, pretty much every dark bit in this photo is now snow covered!

I look different

Okay, I've wasted a bunch of time making a new template. I hope people like it.

Oh yea, I can hack CSS now...

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Is it time for a template change?

I'm doing a poll, is it time for me to change my blog's template?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Escaping from Winter (for a while)

For those of you that don't already know, I'm going to be making the trek home to Bris Vegas for Christmas. I'm arriving on the 7th 8th and staying until boxing day.

I'm heading home for a few reasons:
  1. To see my family and friends!!!
  2. To do work with these guys.
  3. To attend my graduation ceremony.
  4. Well, obviously, for Christmas.
It will be so great to catch up with my mates. I'm really looking forward to it. Not to mention looking forward to the beach, pies, bundy rum, New Farm, The Valley, West End, Straddie, the English language, warm weather, pluggers, good coffee, half-decent frisbee,...

Oh, and before I go home I'm going to Germany for a week to work with these guys.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Politics is boring me. Really, it is.

I think the title says it all. At the moment, politics is boring the hell out of me. This is weird for me, it really is. I'm feeling uber-apathetic about the whole political process. Maybe I should be in the federal Labor party?
Seriously, I'm really sick of John Howard winning all the time. The industrial relations laws are a farce, but they'll go through and people will love Howard for making there lives significantly worse. The terror laws went through, so now howard can get the praise for hard work that was done by the police leading up to the arrest of 16 suspected terrorists yesterday. I am really failing to see the point in blogging about politics at all. It doesn't seem to make any difference, especially seeing as so many blogs seem to be occupied by partisan hacks stoushing away about the same old bored topics.
At least, while I'm feeling sorry for myself and my battered set of political beliefs, some people are doing some great political writing in plog land. I'm becoming a fan of Desert Pea, a new blog that seems to be refreshingly intelligent and devoid of the typical partisan name calling crap that occupies so many blogs. I've also become a fan of AnonymousLefty, it's an oldish blog but I thought I'd throw it a bone because it always seems to be able to make me laugh (Oh yea, the author, Mr Lefty, is also an author of BOLTWATCH). I've just blogrolled both of these blogs.

Friday, November 04, 2005

100! Happy birthday to me!!!

Ok, so I just realized that today is my blog's birthday.
I also realized that I was 4 posts shy of 100 so I thought I'd speed things up a little so that I could celebrate 100 posts and this blog's birthday at the same time.
So, 1 year ago I posted this article. I also posted this one too, I think I like it better because it has a photo of my old beanie that I lost in a drunken taxi-ride incident about 6 months ago.
It's been a weird year. When I started this blog I was in the middle of writing my PhD thesis. Now, I'm a big grown-up postdoc living on the other side of the planet. I've seen and done a lot in this time, some of which has made it to this blog, some of which hasn't. I try not to think too much about how much my life has changed in this time. I get pretty dizzy just trying to piece it all together.
So where am I at now? What am I thinking about today? Well, I woke up this morning and Innsbruck was turning on a spectacularly clear morning. I could walk outside and see for miles. It was pretty spectacular scenery too; little villages up in the hills, the forests which are all shades of red and yellow, and the taller mountains were tipped with snow.
Walking to work I could see that a lot of the trees have already lost their leaves. This afternoon, the skies are grey and I'm thinking that I better get out there and buy myself some winter clothes before the snow starts to fall. I guess that is my plan for this weekend.
I wonder how I'm going to cope with the winter? I've lived my whole life in Brisbane, this whole winter thing is extremely foreign to me. The sun here doesn't come up until 7 or later now, it goes down again at 5. It gets so dark so early that I feel like I should be leaving work at 3 in the afternoon. I think I'm going to find this all quite weird.


Almost there...




Thursday, November 03, 2005

The White Stripes rock!

Last Saturday night Sarah and I went to see the White Stripes play in Duesseldorf. They absolutely rocked! They were as tight, and energetic as they were when I saw them in 2003. I think the only difference was that Jack seems to be a bit tubbier than he was back then.

It was a great night, it began with me and Sarah knocking down a bottle of Malibu between us on the way to the gig. It is both a great and a horrible thing that you are allowed to drink anywhere in public in Germany and Austria. On Saturday it was a great thing. We shared the bottle between us on the train trip from Moenchengladbach (where Sarah's apartment is) to the concert.
We got to the gig about half-an-hour before the support act, the Greenhornes, got on stage. Because we were there early we were given these little red wristbands that allowed us to come and go from the mosh pit all night! That was totally cool, it meant that we were about 10 to 15 metres from the stage the whole night.
Anyway, the support played for a half hour, then Meg and Jack white came on and rocked the hall for 1 and a half hours. I couldn't remember the playlist if I tried. I do remember that there seemed to be a lot more stuff from "Elephant" and "Get behind Me Satan" than from the earlier albums. I guess that's not really so surprising though.
I think the only downer of the night was that there were some drunken idiots that didn't know how to dance around up the front without hurting people. I guess though that you always get this at gigs by popular bands. Still, it was a White Stripes concert, not Rancid...
Anyway, like I promised, here are some pics from the gig. I think they were all taken by Sarah, I think I was too drunk to take any good ones :-).

Jack playing right in front of us

Meg looking awesome as always singing "In the cold, cold night".

Meg and Jack just rocking out.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Austrian nationals

Alright, first things first, I finally have my new computer! I’m currently bashing away at my keyboard on a high-speed german train enroot to my girlfriends place which is near Duesseldorf. My old lappy could no longer handle such difficult circumstances, the battery’s ability to hold charge long ago faded.

Anyway, back on topic. It’s been a helluva week ulti-fans. Back home in Oz they just held mixed-nats, and just before my customary sprint to the train station I had an email in my inbox from Al telling telling my that Bootius Maximus got 3rd place and the Lovers had pulled 7th! I was so stoked to hear this!!!! I guess all that training for worlds next year is beginning to pay dividends.

Well, while my mates back home were running around fields in Adelaide, I was running around fields in a town called Ried, which is a bit more than a drivers huck from the city of Linz in Austria. I was playing at the Austrian nationals with my city’s team, The Flying Circus. The Circus had managed to rustle up an open and a womens team for the tourney. I met a bunch of nice people at the tournament. I met Heidi-Marie, who was an American playing for the “Spin” women’s team. She was a lot of fun and tried to keep my spirits up a bit when my team was busy getting pasted (I especially liked the “Go on. Show me something special”. Then she missed a great layout-d of mine at a pivotal point of one match!). I also got to catch up with the team from Graz, “Catchup”. Those guys are always fun to hang out with and I absolutely love watching them play. They remind me a lot of the teams back home.

I also had a great time with many players on my team. They really are a friendly bunch of people. The party was super. It took a while to get going, but once a sufficient amount of booze was downed the dancefloor was packed with hot’n’sexy ultimate folk looking to boogie. Arno, our captain was kicking it till the wee hours showing all us young-uns how it’s done. Oh yea, me and Kris (a new Canuck in our team) had a great drunken layout session using some gymnastic mats and a trampoline (actually, that’s how we met Heidi-Marie, she thought it looked like fun. She was right!).

Well, I’d love to say that during the tournament we totally kicked ass, but we didn’t. The open team won 3 out of 7 games and placed 11th of 15. Though the women managed to pull 4th place, I was really happy about that.

I had a good time, don’t get me wrong. I like my team, they are a great bunch of people. They are fun to party with (especially the lasses), and they all really care about each other. The problem is, that we don’t have anything like the depth of the teams back in Oz, or for that matter the teams from the other cities in Austria. At a really good training session we’ll pull 20 or so people, that’s guys and girls. The skill level ranges from absolute beginner, to the ridiculously experienced. It is so hard to run a training session, talk tactics and even practice skills in such a way that can keep everyone happy. Normally, the sessions are pitched low, with the hope that the more experienced types won’t get too frustrated by this. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to work. Well, at least it isn’t working for me anymore.

At the moment I feel like my skills are beginning to stagnate. I’m not feeling pushed at all. When I’m playing in Innsbruck, I find that if I want to throw a break, I throw a break. If I want to make a cut, I get the disc. If I want to huck it, I can huck it. There aren’t a whole lot of experienced, or even intermediate players playing against me and pressuring me to play harder and better.

This was killing me on the weekend. Our level of tactical play was barely above the beginner level. Our intensity was a smidgen above that of a funday arvo pick-up. In the easy games, this wasn’t a problem.

Our team’s skill level is pretty high, there are a lot of good throwers and the fitness isn’t too bad. In the hard games, things turned haywire. Suddenly, the intermediate/experienced were being pushed (and, in reality, rarely by players that were any better than they were) and they began to panic. We started to throw the disc away a lot. We would try to switch-up the tactics only to find that we either all weren’t on the same page or the level of ulti-knowledge in the team was too low to implement the required changes to our game.

For me, things hit there worst when we were playing against Spin (one of the teams from Vienna). They weren’t too bad, they are also a really nice team (both the girls and the guys). We were getting pasted pretty much because our team didn’t know how to play zone offence. For those of you who played with me in Bris-Vegas, you would know that this would kill me. I used to live for zone. I don’t know why, it probably has something to do with my past life as a Rugby player. Anyway, I was totally pissed at my team. I was pissed with the experienced players because we were all disagreeing on what to do. I was pissed with the beginners because they had no idea what they were doing. I was pissed at myself because I was spitting the dummy.

Our team has been on the slide for a while. The beginners and intermediate players have never played in a good ultimate team. They have good players around them. Some of the experienced people here are as good as or better than anyone I ever played with in Brisbane. The problem is, that the experienced players are aging and can’t commit as much to the team as they used to. When you combine this with our small-player base it is no wonder that we are struggling.

This has been getting me down for ages. I have felt completely powerless to do anything at all about this. Part of the problem is that I don’t speak the language, and for this reason I feel like a lot of what I say is completely lost on people. For a long time I’ve just been resigned to play in a team that isn’t so great and to deal with getting pounded at tournaments – maybe I could just focus on winning the party? On the weekend though, something changed. At some point during that game against Spin I made up my mind. Either get better, and drag this team with me. Or get out.

For the time being I’m going with the first. I’m going to try to get better at my ulti, and I’m going to try to improve the level of play in the players around me. The only way I can think to do this is to start small. Many of the players will be a bit frightened of big changes. But they might barely even notice the small ones.

I already do a lot of fitness training on my own. Maybe I should start emailing the team list to tell them when I’m going for a run and invite others to join me? Maybe I could do the same with the gym or maybe initiate some small-group sprint workouts? I think maybe just organizing to go and have a throw (even in winter!) in the park regularly might change people’s mindset a little. Maybe I can talk to the more senior people in the team about contributing more to the training sessions?

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I think the only way our team is going to get better is if a few of us take the initiative to get it better. Personally, I know I can do more and that maybe I have to if I want to continue to develop as a player.

Friday, October 28, 2005

On the road again

Hey blogland, I haven't posted since forever. The real-world has been interfering pretty heavily with my blogging, but hopefully I'll get back on track a bit in the coming weeks. I've got a zillion half-written posts waiting to be finished and put out there.
At the moment though, blogging can wait. I'm in Duesseldorf right now spending a few days with my girlfriend. I'm absolutely stoked because tomorrow night I'm going to get to see the White Stripes in concert. I have seen them once before, at Brisbane's Livid festival in 2003. That was a great gig. If they pull off something half as good it will be a great night. Expect a post on this gig next week, hopefully with a few photos.
Did I mention that I'm writing this with a German keyboard, there are lots of ö, ü, äish symbols and some of the kezs arenät in the write place...

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

For geeks only

Today I found The Springer Graduate Texts in Mathematics Test after finding a link to it at my mate Steve Flammia's website. Anyone who has looked at my research work won't be too surprised by the result:

If I were a Springer-Verlag Graduate Text in Mathematics, I would be Frank Warner's Foundations of Differentiable Manifolds and Lie Groups.

I give a clear, detailed, and careful development of the basic facts on manifold theory and Lie Groups. I include differentiable manifolds, tensors and differentiable forms. Lie groups and homogenous spaces, integration on manifolds, and in addition provide a proof of the de Rham theorem via sheaf cohomology theory, and develop the local theory of elliptic operators culminating in a proof of the Hodge theorem. Those interested in any of the diverse areas of mathematics requiring the notion of a differentiable manifold will find me extremely useful.

Which Springer GTM would you be? The Springer GTM

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


My laptop died yesterday!!!!! Well it isn't dead but it will never be the same again, something to do with a corrupted registry... With some luck I'll get my hands on my new computer early next week and my work life might begin to get back to normal. Oh yea, and it'll make blogging easier too :-).

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Frisbee blogging will never be the same again...

... Now that the Ultimate Lovers have a blog. Some of ex- and current members of the University of Queensland ultimate frisbee team have started a new team blog, oh yea, this includes me.
Well, a bunch of us already wrote about frisbee on our own blogs, so it just made sense sorta to put all of those postings in the one place. So from now on I'll probably cross-post all of my frisbee stuff to the lovers blog.
I think, with a bit of time, this blog will be very cool. This is pretty much because the contributors are current and ex-members of the team. The current players are at the coalface of the Oz frisbee community, with many of them preparing for world clubs next year. While the ex-members are spread across the planet having their own, sometimes unique, frisbee adventures. Hopefully this will make for some interesting posts and discussions on tactics, training and all things frisbee related.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Physicists ruling the world!!!

It looks as though Physicists might be taking over the world. Well, at least central Europe anyway.
Apparently the conservatives in Poland, who won an election on the weekend, are putting an ex-physicist forward as their candidate PM.
This follows the debacle of an election in Germany a couple of weeks ago where physicist, Angela Merkel, led the Christian Democrats to win the largest proportion of seats in the federal parliament. While the final make-up of the government is not yet known, it is looking increasingly likely that she will lead a coalition between the SPD and the Christian Democrats.
After hearing about the Polish election, I realized that there might be more that little truth behind some friendly banter I had with Dave at the Quantum Pontiff about theoretical physicists taking over the world...
Question: Why aren't there any left-wing parties with physicists leading them? I'm happy to volunteer if anyone needs me...

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Fun things to do on a Sunday when there is no frisbee training

Alternate title: The hills are alive with...

This weekend I went hiking with one of my flatmates (Karol) and some of her mates. It was very cool, some spectacular scenery and a lot of laughter. Here are the pics:

The crew: Gerard, Karol (being distracted by a mountain biker hurtling down the hill while I took the photo), Martina, and Dani. I should point our that they are all doctors...

The crew without Martina and with me doing the stupid bunny ears thing to my flatmate Karol. I can't remember why I thought this was a good idea. It was in retaliation for something, I swear, I wasn't just being a smartarse.

What Innsbruck looks like from above.

What Innsbruck looks like from above at a slightly different angle.

Cable cars are cool. Don't see them so often in Ozneyland. You might be able to make out the Inn, the river running through Innsbruck in this pic, I think that's what I was trying to take a photo of.
Dani and Gerard. The white building in the top-right corner is called Hoettinger Alm, it's an old shepherd's hut and now it's basically a pub. We hiked to it (it's at about 900m above sea level - at least I think that's right, anyone who knows for sure please correct me!) and ate lunch there. After lunch, and very full of knoedel, we walked down that tiny-little track you might be able to make out going down the hill from the Alm. Going down that track was fun, especially wearing running shoes instead of hiking boots....

Friday, September 23, 2005

Damn damn damn

I missed this article by Greg Sheridan in The Oz the other day. I hate to admit it, but it's a good-un. He gives big props to the former Senator for Doc Martins, and the new senator for shoving it down the throat of right-wing arseholes, Natasha Stott Despoja. He is calling for her to be reinstated as the head of the Democrats. Personally, I think this would be a great thing for the Dems. I also wouldn't mind fellow Bris Vegan and Nick Cave fan, Andrew Bartlett, getting the nod again, however I'm not sure that would poll so well.
The Dems have some great parliamentarians and they have been a balancing force in Oz politics for a long time. Like Sheridan says, it would be a shame to see the Dems disappear from the Australian political landscape, something that could well happen at the next election unless they redress the political tailspin that they have been in since Meg Lees decided to support the GST.

"Loud doesn't mean right"

Apparently leftish talkshow host Phil Donahue was interviewed by Bill O'Reilly on Fox in the US the other day. Apparently it was a hell of an interview. Two talk show hacks, well, hacking away at each other. The transcript is available here.
Anyway, the main reason I'm mentioning it is this classic line from Donahue:

"Loud doesn't mean right"

I hope lefties interviewed on Fox from now untill the end of time use that line whenever they begin to get shouted down.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

We still have a long way to go.

Caolionn O'Connell, a Caltech postdoc in physics, wrote a post yesterday explaining how worried she is about trying to juggle a family with her career. It actually made me feel pretty sad. Feminism, for all that it has given us, still hasn't been able to make it easy to raise a family and have a successful career at the same time.
I hope that someday this is resolved, this is one of the big problems in western society and I don't think it gets enough emphasis.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

And in more good news from Iraq...

Once again I'd just like to congratulate the US and the rest of the coalition of the willing on their brilliant Iraq strategy. Apparently there is now two-way traffic between millitants in Iraq and Afganistan.
Bush's strategy for turning Iraq into the frontline in the war on terror has worked! Now terrorists get training and experience in Iraq that they go on to use elsewhere! We have been successful in drawing terrorists to Iraq - it's just that they are going there, kicking our arses and going other places to teach others how to kick our arse. I wonder if they ever thought through that scenario...

What does a frisbee tournament look like?

Warming up on the first morning:

The party:

Where we all slept:

The team that came 2nd and played savage (no reserves!) all weekend:

The winners:

Thanks Georgie

Just when I couldn't think of anything to post today, along comes Cardinal George Pell (for some great photos look here) with a diatribe against relativism in the classroom.
I'm not the biggest fan of relativist teaching in the classroom. However I think there is a case for at least some relativist influence. Students need some grounding in reality and an understanding of societal norms. However, they also need to learn to question and to realise that those societal norms are a controlling force whose influence should always be questioned.
George Pell, and other conservatives like to argue that there are absolutes in the world. That our morality and decisions are based on some underlying truths. What if these truths were something different from those that they believe in? They like to believe in absolute truths because they think that the dominant social norms are evidence of the existence of absolute truth. At the same time, however, they are worried that relativist teaching could eat away at the "accepted" norms of our society.
Pell worries that Australia is rejecting it's moral principles,

"it was hard only 50 years ago to believe we would abort 100,000 babies a year,
contemplate men marrying men, killing the sick, experimenting on human

it doesn't seem to occur to him that maybe Australia is developing a more refined set of moral principles. He tries to argue that the rejection of his principles as the rejection of all. In reality I think he just fears that his principles will be superseded and that he would prefer classroom teaching to be a tool for reinforcing the dominant social structures (that is Christian teaching and Anglo-American traditions).
Oh yea, "100 000 babies" aborted. The 100 000 figure is extremely disputable, and the use of the term "babies" is completely emotive...
Lets turn his quote on its head:
It was hard only 50 years ago to believe that we would no longer have a white Australia policy, would no longer take Aboriginal children from their families, that women might one-day achieve equality with men on all levels....
Take your pick Georgie boy, there are plenty of examples in history where challenging the dominant societal norms has led to a progression in society. Teaching from a critical, relativist, perspective is an important part of this process. Sometimes your beliefs will be attacked, sometimes they will be reinforced.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Spirit prize

My new team, the Flying Circus, recently won the spirit prize at a tournament. I was just thinking about this and came up hard against this age-old question:

What should mean more to an ultimate player, winning the spirit prize or the

If you think winning the spirit prize is more important than winning the tournament, then is that bad spirit because you aren't focusing on playing competitively?
If you think winning the tournament is more important, are you then willing to do anything to win, including things that are against the spirit of the game?
Incidently, the games in which I think we played in the best "spirit of the game" were those where we played our hardest, and best, ultimate.
I think there is a tendency among some ultimate players to associate good spirit with uncompetitive play. Actually, that isn't quite right. I think some players associate competitive play with bad spirit. I absolutely believe that if you are to play in the proper spirit of the game you have to try your hardest, within the rules, to win. That doesn't mean you have to act like an asshole. But it dies mean that sometimes you have to exploit weaknesses in other teams and do your best to hide your own deficiencies.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Totally priceless

Courtesy of Antony Loewenstein's blog. Geez I hope this makes it into a newspaper... Brendan Nelson's media people must be freaking out.

A weekend disconnected

The weather turned real bad here over the weekend. A lot of snow was dumped on the mountains and there was a lot of rain down in the town. As a result of this I had zero motivation to make the trek into work to get connected to the net. Boy did I choose the wrong weekend to stay disconnected...
We've just had the weekend of the too-close-to-call elections. The NZ and German elections have resulted in practically non-results. Everyone seems to be claiming victory left, right, and center. On top of all that there is still all sorts of vitriol pouring out of the Latham diaries.
Oh yea, and this morning comes the announcement that North Korea has abandoned their nuclear program. That's the best thing I've heard in ages.
I really have a lot of reading to catch up on...

Friday, September 16, 2005

The Latham debacle

Ok, I'm beginning to think that the Latham Diaries should be re-named the Latham Debacle. Why, well according to dictionary.com debacle means:
  1. A sudden, disastrous collapse, downfall, or defeat; a rout.
  2. A total, often ludicrous failure.
  3. The breaking up of ice in a river.
  4. A violent flood.

Well, we can kinda discount the last two, though a violent flood is a good description of the abuse and ramblings that have poured out of his pen and mouth over the last few days. Mark Latham's fall from grace has been hard, and ludicrous. It seems that he had real problems connecting to the realities of his own shortcomings.

It seems that Latham had a great vision for Australia. He had a vision of an egalitarian society that was strong and independent. Unfortunately, his vision was obscured by a hatred of the forces that he saw as being impediments to a better society.

It seems that his own hatred led to some of Labor's policy disasters in the leadup to last year's election. This is especially the case with Labor's divisive school's policy and the Iraq "troops home by Christmas" policy.

In today's Weekend Oz, Paul Kelly paints Latham as a character who increasingly sought to lash out at those around him throughout his tenure in the Labor leadership. The people Latham criticizes seem to be exactly those that he should have been listening to. Beazley, Rudd, Whitlam, Keating,... the list is a who's who of intelligent policy thinkers and strategists in the Labor party. It seems that Latham was himself a divisive character in the party, unable to work within a team, who believed that the only way forward was his.

I guess it was lucky for the ALP that he didn't win last year. Well, at least that's the line being spun by the Murdoch press. I'm not so sure I believe that. If Latham was so dangerous and divisive after an election win, then I'm sure we would have been given the boot by caucus. Anyway, this argument is purely academic, it's about events that never happened (in fact, that didn't really even come close to happening).

What I think should be speculated on a bit more, is whether there really was any divisive behaviour among the federal ALP leadership, and whether there still is? As Julia Gillard has pointed out, some of this should be looked into. Labor needs a united team to take on Howard, they need to get over their own ambitions and beliefs and take the fight to Howard.

Talk like a pirate me hearties!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


I've updated my links in the sidebar a bit. Check out some of the new political blog links, some of them are pretty cool.
Boltwatch is great, they tear apart Andrew Bolt's columns every week. For those of you that are new to my blog, I think Andrew Bolt is so much of a tool that I'm not going to even hyperlink his name. I also especially like Larvatus Prodeo as the level of debate is high and the people who contribute don't take themselves too seriously.


Find out what it means to me.

Natasha is definitely keeping it real.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Crazy conspiracy theories...

*For anyone reading this, I'm not being very serious in this article (if you didn't already realise that). I'm absolutely wearing my tin-foil conspiracy theory hat - the one that keeps the aliens from reading my mind... I don't seriously think any ideas I have written here are true, I'm just playing with ideas for the hell of it and basically because I think it's funny. I do however think that The Pontiff's article that I'm referring to is important and should be discussed seriously.*
For anyone who didn't realize this before, I am by occupation a theoretical physicist who works in the field of quantum computing. Quantum computing is arguably the largest sub-branch of a relatively new field of science dubbed quantum information science.

On of my mates (and scientific colleagues), "The Quantum Pontiff", recently posted an article talking about the fact that quantum information science is largely funded by 3/4 letter defense agencies that are extremely interested in Shor's Factoring algorithm. Shor's factoring algorithm can only be performed on a quantum computer that can factor large numbers in polynomial time (this is computer-speak for "damned fast"). Factoring large numbers quickly is important because if you could do it you could probably hack most available public key cryptosystems, that is most of the cryptosystems used on the net at the moment. Anyway, in this article "The Quantum Pontiff" discussed what might happen when we actually do build a quantum computer (which, incidentally is probably many years and many millions of dollars away). Who will control it? What will it be used for? These are good questions to ask and as a community, quantum information scientists need to have this discussion.

On a lighter (or not) note, some of my old workmates and I used to have a bit of fun wondering what you would do if you had discovered an efficient CLASSICAL factoring algorithm? That is, an algorithm that can be performed using the computers that we have right now.

Well, we used to debate about this a bit. I notice actually that David Poulin (another old friend and workmate) has raised this question in the comments on the Pontiff's page. We used to talk a lot about whether you should put it up on the net, tell the government, defense agencies etc... Most of the talk actually centered around two main issues:
  1. The impact of such a discovery on the world's economy
  2. Keeping yourself and the information safe

Like I said, this debate was normally just a bored group of physicists throwing around some big ideas for a bit of a laugh.

Ok, time for a random paragraph to another not quite so related (but soon will be) topic: Regular readers will know that I'm pretty into politics. I spend a lot of time reading plogs (politics blogs) and this blog is sometimes pretty much just about politics. Often the physics part of my brain is quite divorced from the politics part of my brain. I don't know why this is, probably has something to do with taking physics and politics courses at the same time back in school. I kinda had to get good at switching my brain from the Schroedinger equation to the class struggle in short periods of time in order to pass exams.

Anyway for some reason a few weeks ago I started to use my politics brain to think about the whole "efficient classical factoring algorithm" question. Here is what I came up with:

Imagine you are person who has just discovered, or is on the verge of discovering an efficient classical algorithm for factoring, or something to hack public key cryptosystems.

Who are you? Well, to begin with it goes without saying you are a math nerd.

Who are you professionally?As most of the money in this sort of field comes from the 3/4 letter agencies you are probably either directly working for them or are getting some sort of funding from them. It's hard to find mathematicians/physicists or whoever working on cryptosystems that aren't somehow involved with the 3/4 letter agencies. Often people would prefer not to, but it's just a fact of life that it's these agencies that dole out the dough.

Do you give the agencies the information you have discovered? Almost definitely. You are probably legally (and debatably morally) obliged to give them the information before it goes public. So, you do your job, because in reality you are just some math nerd and decisions like this shouldn't be made my you because you aren't qualified to make this call on your own.

What happens next? Well, they (the agency) panic a bit. This is BIG NEWS. Big news can be dangerous. For instance, what happens if you have such an algorithm and you don't have a public key cryptosystem that is invulnerable? I'm sure the thought would go through someone's head "if we can find this, why can't someone else?". The world is full of smart math nerds, often results are proven independently and simultaneously by mathematicians all over the world. Surely any defense agency would begin to get pretty worried about how to control who has access to such an algorithm.

A good analogy would be nuclear proliferation. There is no power in having nuclear weapons if everyone else has them. All you have then is a seriously dangerous situation.

If you have the biggest stick, you want to make sure no-one else gets a stick as big as yours.

What do you do about it? Well, this is where my political head kicked in. Politics 101 tells you that if you don't want someone to see something, give them something else to look at. Is quantum computing that "something else"? In the mid 90s did someone get close to finding a way of breaking public key cryptosystems? Is the influx of money into quantum information science just a really clever way of diverting a bunch of really smart mathematicians, computer scientists and physicists away from something big?

I mean, it's pretty easy to see that quantum computing would absorb a lot of people for a long time. Everyone has always said that building a quantum computer would be really hard to do. There is a lot of interesting science to be done in the meantime, with a lot of potential for spin-offs which are also interesting. As far as basic science is concerned, quantum computing is a great way of advancing science. Maybe "they" realized that they could easily get people to work on quantum computing (because as far as science goes, it's interesting), but is it also a good way of distracting scientists from the "main game"?

By publicly announcing support for QC, and not really making any secret of the fact that you want it for Shor's algorithm are the 3/4 letter agencies really doing the scientific equivalent of pointing over someone's shoulder and yelling "hey, look at that!" ?

In politics it is always hard to hide information. It is always easy to make a lot of noise about something that isn't such a big deal...

Monday, September 05, 2005

More lazy blogging

I could write something serious here, lord know's there is plenty of seriously nasty stuff going on in the world at the moment. Instead, I'm going to post a bunch of photos I took of an amazing sunset here in Innsbruck the other day....

By the way, can anyone tell me why sunsets are so amazing after thunderstorms? I'm guessing it has something to do with high humidities and subsequently larger amounts of refraction in the atmosphere. I can't quite put my finger on it... Something to do with the red light being refracted more than the blue... Okay, that is probably the answer, but if someone has something better (i.e. they have thought about it for longer than it took me to write this sentance) I'd like to hear it.
Just before sunset there were these two amazing rainbows arcing over the whole valley. It was totally amazing, I couldn't get the whole thing into the one shot. What I wouldn't give for a fish-eye lens...

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I know I should be more serious but...

I know that I should write something serious and political here today, but I really don't feel like it. I'm feeling a bit apathetic. Maybe it's because I'm avoiding all the junky right-wing blogs. Maybe I've just eaten too many cashews? Maybe I just don't feel like it because a whole lot of people died in today Baghdad and New Orleans is underwater? Or maybe it's because I'm just getting back into the swing of things at work? You decide.
Anyway, I'll get back to it in the next few days. In the meantime, go and check out the new improved Webdiary. Alternatively, go and check out Road to Surfdom, which operated by Tim Dunlop, the guy tipped to replace Margo Kingston at smh.com.au.

Monday, August 29, 2005

I'm back from holiday!!!!

Crap. Back from holidays...

Sorry everyone no hard-hitting blogalism today. Just worked my way through the inbox and, well, it took most of my day and my brain is fried.

Though, to keep you all reading this blog, here are some cool pics from my travels.
To begin with here is a photo of my brother and sister (half pissed) in a not-so-typical but totally cool english pub:

Now, next is an obligatory tourist shot of me and Sarah by the Thames. If you look closely (well, not too close actually), you can see "Westminister", "Big Ben", and the "London Eye" in the background.
And finally, I ended my holiday by visiting Sarah's home town, "Bad Laasphe", where they were having their "stadtfest" (for those non-Germans out there, it's basically just a big pissup that the whole town goes to). Oh yea, Germany can be really pretty when it wants to be.

Friday, August 19, 2005

I'm on Holiday!!!!

I'm now on holiday! Yay! I'm going on a real, proper, holiday this week. Tomorrow my girlfriend and I are flying to London to meet up with my sister (who lives in London), my bro, and my bro's girlfriend (both of which are en route to Vancouver). It should be absolutely awesome. I haven't seen them all since March.
I was planning to post a bunch of hard-hitting articles on issues including: multiculturalism, global warming, industrial relations, and "negative quantum information" but screw it, the world can wait a week can't it? For the next week or so as I don't intend to do anything more taxing than trying to decide which Indian restaurant to have dinner in...
Stay tuned for much more ranting and raving in the following weeks...
Oh yea, if anyone is interested in my brother's travels they should go here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Fightbacks in frisbee (The Lovers lost again :-()

So, for all of those out there that care, the UQ lovers lost the "Dog Cup" final last week. The team went down 11-9. It sounds pretty close but from what I gather the team started slow, got behind and spend the rest of the match playing catch-up. Nice try though guys. Really, from what I've heard there was some great play and you put on a bit of a spectacle for the crowd. I heard that a lot of the crowd were backing the Lovers to take the cup home this year. I still wish I could have been there, I'm sure a bunch of the ex-Lovers would have liked to be there screaming "GO LOVERS" from the sidelines... Oh, and Jill took some photos at the match here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
Debate question:
I wish I could get some stats on how many games of frisbee are won by teams that get a lead and hang on to it. I can't remember too many games that I've played in that have had a successful fightback. I've been in plenty of fightbacks, but normally you tend to miss out by a point or two. Basically, you always end up hitting the time-cap. I also wish I knew how much fightbacks are related to the team in the lead running out of legs versus this team running out of motivation. I guess these two things are related, but is there a general rule about which comes first?
On a related topic, is it smarter to come out onto the field "all guns blazing", totally pumped up to win the first few points - and then suffer the inevitable adrenaline/energy crash; or to come out calm and just hope that you win the first few points and save energy for later in the match? If it is true that frisbee games are often won when a team gets a lead at the start then you could mount a pretty convincing argument that says that you should go out onto the field without any notion of energy conservation. That is, put the best 7 on the line and tell them to run their pants off for a few points. I'm sure this doesn't work at the elite level, that is when two equally matched teams are playing each other, but maybe it isn't such a bad idea as a tactic early in a tournament?
If anyone has thoughts on this issue drop them in the comments box. I'm really interested in hearing what people have to say about this.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Frisbee training schedule

*Frisbee post warning!*
Last night I played in the weekly frisbee scrimmage between the Old Sox and the Flying Circus. Well, it wasn't so much "between" the teams last night as "with", we kinda mixed up the combos for a bit of fun. Anyway, to the point... I was asked by one of the players how much training I do each week, kinda after a point involving some pretty crazy sprinting. So I figured I'd write a bit of a post about my training regime. It isn't a perfect regime. It isn't even that great for frisbee. I know a lot of places where it could be better (especially with running and skills training). I'm also not doing a very serious regime at the moment either because I'm not getting ready for any tournaments any time this year that I'm taking very seriously... But if you want to comment on ways I can improve it would be more than welcome. So here goes.
Loosely, this is what I do in a good week that isn't interrupted by the shear craziness of life:
  1. 3 gym workouts
  2. 3 running sessions, 1 day dedicated to running
  3. 2 frisbee scrimmages/training sessions

Ok, I should explain a lot more.

Gym sessions

I have 3 gym sessions a week, each works out different muscle groups. I do vary the workouts a bit, especially if I've been doing the same thing for a few weeks and I'm bored. For each exercise I normally do 3 sets of 6, 8, 10, or 12, it depends how long I've been doing the exercise. As is typical, when I start a new workout program with new exercises I start doing reps of 12 with a low weight, and then every few weeks I increase the weight and drop the repetitions.

Here are the three different workouts:

Chest and tri's

  • Warm up chest with off-the-wall pushups and stretches (5 mins)
  • dumbbell benchpress (or normal benchpress, I switch between these every now and then)
  • Incline benchpress
  • Tricep exercise 1 (Normally tri-pulldowns with a rope)
  • Tricep exercise 2 (tri-pulldowns with something solid)
  • Tricep extensions alternating with barbell bicep curls
  • Abdominal exercises (2 or 3 different exercises, depending on how tired/bored I feel)

Legs and Shoulders

  • Warm up, probably running or cycling
  • Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Lunges
  • dumbbell shoulder press
  • 1 arm bent over dumbbell shoulder rows (the ones where you but a knee on a bench and lift the dumbbell up to your side)
  • Lateral raises
  • Abdominal stuff

Back and Biceps

  • Incline bench rows (dumbbell or barbell, depends on my mood)
  • Lateral pull downs
  • Seated row
  • Standing barbell curls (aim for power)
  • Seated dumbbell preacher curls (low weight, aim for better form)
  • Back extensions

Ok, like I've said. I normally do an ab routine when I go to the gym. I vary it all the time, I've found that if I stick to the same thing week-in week-out I get bored and I don't gain that much after a few weeks. Normally I do 2 or 3 different exercises. There are a million different exercises that one could choose...

Running sessions

Ok, this is a little more random than my gym workouts. I try to do 1 day a week where I do nothing but running and stretching. Lately this has taken the form of a 10km or so run along the In river (the river that Innsbruck is built on). I chose this route mainly because it is a really nice run and has nothing to do with trying to train on flat ground vs hills or anything (something that I sometimes do think about).

When I get closer to a big tournament I tend to drop the distance running and spend some time working on sprint training. Normally I either do hill sprints (anyone who's been to Innsbruck or Brisbane would know that you can do this anywhere...) or I do some sort of shuttle run things.

The other running sessions that I do are mixed in with my gym sessions. Sometimes I have some quality time on the treadmill at the gym (normally when the weather is pretty shitty) where I run for 4 or 5 kms and try to do a pretty decent time. Other times I run to the gym, do my workout, and run back. This is actually a pretty good running session. I have a 1 km downhill followed by a 1 km flat on the way to the gym. This gets me nice and warm for my workout. Then I have a 1 km flat and a 1 km uphill home. This is a pretty serious workout on its own. The hill is an absolute bastard...

Frisbee training

Ok, obviously this depends a lot on what the team (Flying Circus) is doing and what season it is etc, but at the moment our team has a training session followed by a scrimmage every Sunday. Every Wednesday people in our team drive to a nearby town to play the Old Sox in a scrimmage. Thursday nights people play beach ultimate, I pretty much always skip this though. At the moment this is pretty light frisbee training for me. Back in Brisbane I'd play at least 2-3 days a week and would do skills training at least 2 days a week. I'm not doing as much here basically because I don't have the time and there aren't so many people here banging down my door asking if I want to o do some skills training with them...

Ok, so that's it. Like I said, it isn't perfect or even that intense. I've taken training much more seriously in times past, especially when training for Australian mixed ulti championships last year with the Lovers. I guess I'll take it more seriously at times in the future as well...

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Go the Lovers!

My old frisbee team, the UQ Lovers, are playing in the Brisbane MAL (Men's A-League) final tomorrow. I am totally stoked that they made it! They knocked off the top seeded team (that they had never beaten) in the semi-final to make it into the final. We did exactly the same thing last year! I swear that semi-final was one of the best games I had ever played in. The final wasn't too bad either, 'cept we lost by 1 point after time-cap....

Anyway, good luck guys! I expect emails telling me how the game went!

For those of you that are interested in nostalgia, here is a photo of our team taken after the final last year (aren't our campy 70s style shirts uber-cool?):

Anyway, good luck again guys. Go one better than we did and bring home the "Dog Cup"! I will be sleeping in my Lovers jersey tonight to bring you guys some luck...
Oh yea, whoever is marking Matt, stay on him like a shadow. Whoever is marking Mike, um, good luck...
And one more piece of advice, play a tight game! Any long swill will be eaten by Mike (but it isn't as though Guns won't have said this already!).

Am I an angst-filled rock star?

In order to counterbalance yesterday's rant, my posting today will contain almost nothing political and hopefully will make you all feel happy and balanced (maybe, except for Helene as there are photos of her drunk in this post - but she never leaves comments here so I don't care :-).)

For those of you that don't know, I turned 27 last Friday. For those of you that did know, thanks for the birthday wishes.

(Speaking of well-wishers, Lora (from the US) email me about playing frisbee in Innsbruck. We are always happy to play disc with new people here :-).)

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. Last Friday I turned 27. For those of you that know your angst-ridden rock star history you'll know that most of them seem to die at the age of 27. One could pose the question, "am I a rock star?". This might seem like a stupid question to ask, but at least one person in the last 2 weeks has asked me this question - some guy came up to me on the bus a week-or-so ago asking if I wanted to be in his band because he thought he'd seen me playing before... Weird doesn't begin to describe it... Anyway, if I die in some unfortunate circumstances this year I guess I was really meant to join that band and be a rock star...

OK, that's more than enough smack-talk for one day.

I had a great birthday and lot of people helped me to celebrate it. I was a bit worried (as was my Mum) that my first birthday in Europe would be a bit of a lonely affair. Well, that didn't happen as I seem to have found myself some really nice new friends, not to mention the efforts of some really nice old friends that also conspired to make me smile a lot.

Some special mentions include my girlfriend who started the birthday shenanigans for calling me at midnight to wish me a happy birthday (though not forgetting my mate George who messaged me 4 days in advance :-)). Another goes to my new(ish) flatmate Karolene (who's name I've probably misspelled) who baked a totally awesome birthday cake for me. I woke up to find that my three flatmates had organized cake and coffee for breakfast. It was a really nice way to wake up. Here is a photo of the three of them (Helene, Maria, and Karolene):

In the evening we cooked a serious Thai food feast (kinda inspired by me going crazy and buying everything in the Asian grocer downtown). The green vegetable curry was great but I was disappointed by my attempts at a laksa (if anyone has a good recipe, send it to me!). The dinner was made extra-special because an old friend of mine from home, Pat, happened to be in Innsbruck on my birthday and could make it to dinner. It was really cool to catch up with him. Anyway, here's a photo us all about sit down to the feast (from the left: me, Maria, Georg, Maria, Stefan, Helene, Pat and Karolene was taking the photo...):

The only down-side to my birthday was that the following morning one of my flatmates, Helene, moved back home to France after spending her summer here working with the experimental BEC group here in Innsbruck. Helene was a lot of fun to have as a flatmate, and as I threatened her I would, I'm posting some photos from her "going away" party last week:

Here is a photo of Helene madly preparing food for the 30 guests that were agout to burst through our front door:

Here is a photo of Helene at about 2 AM after she drank more glasses of wine than she could accurately remember (note the beanie she's wearing, this was a gift from the BEC group that she received that night, she was very proud of the beanie...):

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

I think I feel sick

This editorial that has appeared in today's Australian makes me feel sick. There is nothing at all rational about the argument for voluntary student unionism. In the editorial a paragraph is devoted to attacking National party senator Barnaby Joyce, I quote:
In effect, student unionism has been little more than a playground and training
facility for Senator Joyce's political enemies. He has a short-sighted view of
his own interests if he throws it a lifeline.
What exactly are Senator Joyce's interests? Does he believe in democracy? Do you think the editorial would read the same if the Labor party were in power and they were making efforts to destroy the National Farmers Federation, the AMA or any number of other breading grounds for Coalition members of parliament? How exactly is it in the interests of the country if it decided that it is okay for a government to blatantly economically destroy their political enemies. It's really nice to see that the editor of the Australian believes that the government doesn't need to win political battles by, gee I dunno, providing arguments and evidence for there point of view.
What's next? Maybe they should make payment of membership fees to the Labor party voluntary.
As for the argument that VSU is about implementing a "user pays" system of service and support in universities, well, this is just plain bullshit. This argument that "only a fraction" of students use student union facilities is total crap. Apparently:
students are grown-ups and perfectly capable of choosing what they wish to spend
their money on.
Again, total crap. Student unions are mini-governments. In fact, they aren't even so mini. My old university had a population of about 50 000, the student union organizes and provides services for these 50 000 people. This is not a union, it's a government. The notion that student unions are purely left-wing political organizations is also complete crap. Students VOTE FOR THEIR LEADERSHIP is it the left-wing organizations fault that THEY WIN THE ELECTION. Students don't want Liberal party leadership of their unions. They don't like the Liberal party. So students are being made to suffer because of their political preferences.
Would the Liberal party be happy to let student unions change their name to student governments? Maybe then the "union fees" could be called a "tax", which everyone should be forced to pay. The point I'm trying to make is that the student unions ARE GOVERNMENTS. The argument that they are unrepresentative can equally be made about any government at any level. It is bullshit, they are representative.
There is one more extremely disturbing point to the arguments put forward in this editorial. The editor tries to argue that good universities will get more students, will have more funds, and will subsequently be able to chose whether or not to spend money from their budgets to spend on services. It seems like a reasonable argument. I know plenty of pro-VSU people who put this forward. Again, it's complete crap. I'm going to bypass the whole "they probably won't use the money for services because they are broke anyway" argument and get to the real problem. The pro-VSU camp likes to say this is all about choice. They are giving people the choice to spend their money on what they want to spend it on. In short, they are not being forced to subsidize the union.
Where this argument falls down is that by letting universities decide how to allocate support budgets they have completely taken away the only control that students had over their money. It could be countered that all services on campus become strictly "user pays", thus letting economics become a quasi-democratic process. Well, this might happen, but it is unlikely. I believe it is much more likely that services will be subsidized by the university as as attempt to try to lure more undergraduate students. Universities with nice campuses, good facilities, and an active student life will attract more students therefore the big, wealthy, universities will introduce a service budget which won't be controlled by student unions but nevertheless will control services (especially sporting clubs and counseling services etc) that were previously administered by the student body. Democracy is definitely vanquished by choice. With student unions, students can vote for a party that decides on how money is allocated. With VSU, the university administration is the sole arbiter of service funds.

Monday, August 08, 2005

It's meant to be bloody summer!

It freakin' snowed here last night. It's August and we are in the middle of summer. This is nuts...

Here are some pictures I took today:

Friday, July 29, 2005

The world gets one more doctor

Yesterday Marc Hein successfully defended his thesis! Congratulations Marc!
Last night we went out to celebrate. This might have something to do with why I thought the "yogurt fresh" magnum ice-cream I ate this morning was the greatest thing I've ever eaten. It is probably also the reason why I desperately craved a kebab for lunch, and then really regretted eating one. It might have also had some small influence on why I've been struggling to look at my computer all day and why I keep falling asleep on my desk...

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Orwell would be proud (actually amazed, but you get the idea)

Today the Oz government tells us that they didn't sign the Kyoto Protocol because it doesn't go far enough. A new report, entitled Climate Change: Risk and Vulnerability has just been released by the government basically claiming that everything that all of us hippie-scientific-fear mongers are actually right and that the greenhouse effect is nasty, real, and going to create a whole lot of serious problems.

The report claims that all measures that the international community have taken to limit greenhouse gas emissions thus far will be completely ineffective for halting climate change, which might be very true. The government is claiming that this is the reason why they have failed to support the Kyoto protocol and other efforts, now this is a total lie. For years John Howard has been saying that the reason Australian won't sign is primarily economic. It is true though that he has muttered stuff about enough not being done, exceptions for developing countries, and the policies of China and India with regard to global warming, however, the primary reason why NOTHING HAS BEEN DONE is economic.

The government's new position raises some interesting questions that no-one is going to ask. If we are so concerned about the Kyoto protocol not being enough to halt climate change, where are the reports suggesting alternatives? Has Australia been involved in diplomatic work that is trying to establish a new and better standard for greenhouse gas emissions not to mention the development of technology that might fix these problems?

I wonder how much of this is related to George Bush's recent quasi-position reversal on the issue of climate change. It appears that the republicans have decided that maybe us little humans have actually created a problem with our environment. At least Bush is tough enough to admit that the reason the US isn't really interested in doing a lot about it at the moment is that it would be bad for their fossil-fuel driven economy. In the days leading up to the G8 meeting there was a step up in the rhetoric coming out of the US about finding "technological solutions" to climate change, as everything else is ineffective. I guess Australia is going to tow this line now as well.

If they are serious about "technological solutions", and not just shifting position a little to escape criticism, we should see an injection of funds into alternative energy sources (no guys, uranium doesn't really count as "alternative", though I see it took about 20 minutes for someone to bring it up already in response to this new climate change report) and greenhouse gas management policy development. What's the bet that this will go into the "too hard" basket?

Anyway, I love the Orwellian nature of this debate. I mean, there is soooo much double talk and position reversal going on at the moment. It's really interesting to see that the right-wing bloggers and commentators seem to have gone quiet on this issue. Some of them have gone on some amazing rants about this issue, talking up divisions within the scientific community (which pretty much don't exist) and making out that scientists like to scare the population because it brings in more funds. Will they ever take back their words if Howard and Bush keep talking up being the champions of the anti-global warming movement?

Friday, July 22, 2005



Holy Shit!!! The Australian mixed ultimate team competing at the World Games just beat Canada! I really wish I was there. The final score:

Australia 15 - Canada 14

That's right people... it went to cap! They were all tied up at 10, then 11, then 12, then 13, then 14... For a while there it looked like Australia might coast it in! We had them at 9 - 6 then Canada came back to level at 10s! You can check out "when-who-threw-what-to-who-to-score" by clicking here.

General match info for all the games can be found by clicking here.

So what does AUSTRALIA BEATING CANADA mean for the World Games tournament? Well, if Australia wins one game tomorrow then they will definitely make the final. Tomorrow they play the USA (who haven't lost a match) and Germany (who haven't won a match).

Here's hoping I can catch the final on Eurosport 2.

Oh and, I'm a dumbass (not that this piece of information wasn't on the public record already) because I COULD HAVE BEEN THERE. My girlfriend lives a 30 minute train ride away from the fields. I decided to "do the right thing" and not visit my girlfriend this weekend because she has exams in a week... I'm a dumbass I should have gone anyway...

To celebrate, here is a photo of Jonathan Potts, the Australian captain:

This photo was taken at the Australian mixed nats tournament in 2004. Oh Jonathan is the one on the right. The one on the left is Anna, she lives in the states but was in my team at mixed nats (and she's a damned good mid - and like most people who have ever played for a Queensland team, she's fun to drink with). Coincidently, she and I were trading sms's when AUSTRALIA BEAT CANADA. We were both watching from our computers at the time and could have been sending emails, using Skype, msn messenger, or anything else, but we chose to send international sms's (nice and cheap...). Again, I'm a dumbass.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

More frisbee cutting advice

Further to my last post, I thought I'd add a bit more advice for cutting effectively.

Before every game the coach should pull the runners in the team aside and go through the following dialogue with them:

Coach: What are your legs?
Runners: Springs. Steel springs.
Coach: What are they going to do?
Runners: Hurl me down the field.
Coach: How fast can you run?
Runners: As fast as a leopard.
Coach: How fast are you going to run?
Runners: As fast as a leopard.
Coach: Then lets see you do it.

Any Australians reading this might recognise the dialogue as coming from the Peter Weir movie Gallipoli. It pretty much epitomises my philosophy towards cutting. You've got to run hard and have confidence that you can always beat your defender.

Oh and I was reminded about Gallipoli when I saw it in a dvd store here in Innsbruck the other day.... go figure. I wouldn't have thought you'd find an Australian film from the 80s being sold here but I guess it's a pretty small world.

Words of advice for young people

WARNING! ACHTUNG! This is a frisbee post, it won't make any sense at all to non-frisbee folk.
Parinella has been playing frisbee for ever and has been involved in coaching and explaining to people how to play frisbee for almost as long. He recently posted his rules for cutting. These rules are awesome. Any self-respecting mid should memorise them and recite them about 200 times a day. Here they are:
1. Cut sharp.
2. Cut hard.
3. Cut decisively
4. Think, but only before or after the cut.
5. Know when to just run.
Parinella expands on what he means by each of these rules. Read his explanations, understand them and make endless yards on the field...
Oh, and my team here in Innsbruck, the "flying circus", has a new website.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Photos from my holiday

I was going to write a post about why I think Tim Blair is a wanker this week, but I decided to chill and instead post up some pics from my holiday a couple of weeks ago.

Here is a photo taken from Prestwick (in Scotland) International Airport's train station:

not bad eh?

Oh, and for those of you that know Nick:

I was in Scotland for his wedding. That's Nick in the middle, I took this photo about 5 minutes before the wedding...

Anyway, more photos to come later.

By the way, has anyone else noticed that Blogger has a new cool photo upload feature. You don't have to use "Hello" anymore...

Thursday, July 07, 2005

People suck

rant mode on
So, today some absolute arseholes decided to launch a terrorist attack on London. I'm pretty much speechless. Less than 24 hours after London was awarded the Olympic games in 2012, they decide to unleash hell on in the middle of peak-hour.
I mean, let's look at the symbolism of this attack. The fundamental principles of the Olympic movement are spelled out in the preamble to the Olympic Charter:
  1. Olympism is a philosophy of life, exalting and combining in
    a balanced whole the qualities of body, will and mind. Blending sport
    with culture and education, Olympism seeks to create a way of life
    based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example and
    respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.
  2. The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the
    harmonious development of man, with a view to promoting a
    peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.
  3. The Olympic Movement is the concerted, organised, universal
    and permanent action, carried out under the supreme authority of the
    IOC, of all individuals and entities who are inspired by the values of
    Olympism. It covers the five continents. It reaches its peak with the
    bringing together of the world's athletes at the great sports festival, the
    Olympic Games. Its symbol is five interlaced rings.
  4. The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must
    have the possibility of practising sport, without discrimination of any
    kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding
    with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play. The organisation,
    administration and management of sport must be controlled by
    independent sports organisations.
  5. Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person
    on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is
    incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.
Now, does anyone have a problem with these principles? Why attack a city that is in the midst of a celebration of these principles? It doesn't make any sense.
I guess you can say the attacks were due to the G8 meeting in Edinburgh, but then why attack London?
Are you trying to send a message to Blair? Give the guy a break, he has spent the last month or so trying to work out a way of saving Africa from destitution and to fix the massive problem of global warming. He might have screwed up on Iraq BUT NOW HE IS TRYING TO DO THE RIGHT THING!
I think this all has me kind of pissed. Maybe it's because my sister lives in London and I'm having a brotherly bout of "you pick a fight with my sister you're picking a fight with me" syndrome. But maybe it's because I think this is a really despicable act that is designed to ruin a celebration of something that I believe should be celebrated.
rant mode off