Monday, October 29, 2007

He should have gone with the magic beans

I just finished watching Four Corners.
No, this is not going to be a blog about how I'm becoming my parents.
Tonight's story was about Australia's fleet of aging fighter planes. In order to keep the ladies interested, I'll keep the technoporn to an absolute minimum:
The F-111 has been Australia's fighter plane for ages. In an age where you replace your computer more regularly than your car, these things have been flying around blowing up shit since the 60s. So, it's time to replace them with something new. Something exciting. As any fan of technology will tell you, "new" and "exciting" almost always equal "spine-gougingly expensive". There are a few planes around to replace the Kingswood Of The Skies, but Four Corners focused on the one we Australians eventually bought to replace it: the Boeing Super Hornet. It interviewed a bunch of pointy-heads who said that it was a piece of shit, and a couple of jarheads who loved it.
I can't tell.

It flies, it shoots. Done deal.
Four Corners made it seem like a bucket of bolts, and that may be true, but it's not my concern. What piqued my interest was the little tale about how we ended up pressing the "Ship Now" button on the Boeing website in the first place, on a whizzer that apparently the US didn't really want, but bought anyway because it felt bad that no one else in the world wanted it (except for eventually Sheriff South-East Asia). Brendan Nielson apparently watched the Boeing promo video, decided it was tops and told the Australian Government to hand over its credit card. The rest of the show was about how shithouse the Super Hornets are and how we should all just stay with the Kingswoods Of The Skies. The bit that caught my attention most, however was how much a carton of Super Hornets cost:
6.6 BILLION DOLLARS! (place little finger on bottom lip). That is with a 'B' as in 'bullshit', by the way. For 24 planes that are only being used to fill a gap until the next bargain comes along from Lockheed-Martin, which should arrive sometime before we all divide into Eloi and Morlocks.
I was dumbfounded, as I'm sure you are (or better be). I'm not about to debate the cost of effective military hardware and arms races and all that frankly macho bullshit. The point is that it's $6.6 Billion that I seem to remember a certain politician taking away from my colleagues and myself during the horrors of V.S.U. $6.6 Billion that he carefully trimmed away from higher education like so much long-pig so that he could spend it on planes that fly and shoot, but, as demonstrated in a simulation on Four Corners, couldn't actually make it to Indonesia and back without needing paddles, inflatable life-raft and a few infants to toss over the side to ensure national attention around election time.
As someone who is about to start work on the dreaded Research Quality Framework, making humanities and social science academics justify the positive life influence of their research (like trying to extrapolate the cost-benefits of telling children stories at bedtime), I want to just send this video along instead of every report with a note that says "I might be studying poetry in an extinct language, but at least I'm not blowing $6.6 Billion on shit that don't work!"

The only catch is that in this economically conservative environment, the cost of paying for those fighter planes is probably less than the cost now needed to re-invigorate Australia's education system to the point where we can actually think our way out of the need for them.


I'd also like to take this opportunity to welcome to the blogoblag, my personal hero: Jimmy Thins. The Jimmy Thins Style is a publication of taste, hilarity, hand-made flash and chocolate chips. I wanted to link one of his videos here, but he is mix mastering them to a new location, bitches. I will host the next one. I urge you to check it check it one two. Now!


Trent rolled out with the dirtiest joke (I won't reprint - check last post's comments!). Sorry O.o. Sam, crapped out. Jono was geographically closest with his guess at the Cologne Cathedral for the picture, sorry Neil, it was the St Peter's Cathedral in Prague.

1 comment:

  1. Research Quality Framework - ah yes I'm mired in the same fetid pool of quicksand as well....


An explanation of The Joy Division Litmus Test

Although it may now be lost in the mysts of thyme, the poll below is still relevant to this blog. In the winter of 2008, Mele and I went to live in Queensland. In order to survive, I bluffed my way into a job at a Coffee Club.
It was quite a reasonable place to work: the hours were regular, the staff were quite nice, it wasn't particularly taxing on my brain.
There were a few downsides: In the six weeks or so that I worked there, there was about a 90% staff turnover (contributed to by my leaving). This wasn't seen as a result of the low pay, the laughability of staff prices or the practice of not distributing tips to staff, rather it was blamed on the lack of work ethic among Bribie Island's youth.
However, one of the stranger aspects of the cultural isolation that touched our lives during our time "up there" was the fact that nobody at my work had heard of the band Joy Division.
The full explanation is available here.
But please, interact a little further and vote in my ongoing poll. The results are slowly mounting up, proving one thing: people read this blog are more well-informed about Joy Division than anyone who works at the Coffee Club on Bribie Island.

Have you heard of the band Joy Division?

Chinese food, not Chinese Internet!

Champions of Guess The Header

  • What is Guess The Header about? Let’s ask regular “Writing” reader, Shippy: "Anyway, after Franzy's stunning September, and having a crack at 'Guess The Header' for the first time - without truly knowing what I was doing mind you - I think I finally understand what 'GTH' is all about. At first I thought you needed to actually know what it was. Don't get me wrong — if you know what it is, it may help you. I now realise that it's more Franzy's way of invoking thought around an image or, more often than not, part of an image. If you dissect slightly the GTH explanatory sentence at the bottom of his blog you come up with this: “The photo is always taken by me and always connects in some way to the topic of the blog entry it heads up.” When the header is put up, the blog below it will in some obscure way have something to do with it. “Interesting comments are judged and scored arbitrarily and the process is open to corruption and bribery with all correspondence being entered into after the fact and on into eternity, ad infinitum amen.” Franzy judges it, but it's not always the GTH that describes the place perfectly that gets it. “The frequent commenters, the wits, the wags and the outright smartarses who, each entry, engage to both guess the origin and relevance of the strip of photo at the top (or “head”) of each new blog and also who leave what I deem the most interesting comment.” It generally helps if you're a complete smartarse and can twist things to mean whatever you feel they should mean - exactly the way Franzy would like things to be twisted." - Shippy Blogger and GTH point scorer.
  • Nai - 1
  • Lion Kinsman - 2
  • Will - 2
  • Brocky - 2
  • Andy Pants - 2
  • The 327th Male - 3
  • Mad Cat Lady - 3
  • Miles McClagen - 4
  • Myninjacockle - 4
  • Asheligh - 5
  • Neil - 5
  • Third Cat - 5
  • Adam Y - 6
  • Squib - 6
  • Mele - 6
  • Moifey - 7
  • Jono - 8
  • The Other, other Sam - 14
  • Kath Lockett - 15
  • Shippy - 19
  • River - 32