Saturday, December 27, 2008

Don't film us on a raid, say officers

Mr Hac, 27, told the Herald he was walking home with friends when, about 100 metres from his apartment, he saw eight police officers and a sniffer dog rush past him carrying a camera.

He said he was threatened with arrest when he asked what they were doing. Believing he was within his rights to photograph incidents occurring on a public street, he took out his BlackBerry and started filming.

"One of the officers noticed I'd filmed them and aggressively came towards me … they said, 'Give me your device' and I said I'm terribly sorry - I would have apologised 100 times - and they said 'You're not allowed to film us' because there were other officers from different areas of the police," Mr Hac said.

An officer snatched Mr Hac's mobile from his hand, despite him repeatedly saying he did not consent to them searching it.

He said the officers did not know how to delete video from the device so one of his friends, who was watching from a few metres away, had to assist them.

"They looked into my inbox, which is where my SMS and email were … they looked through my photos," he said.

Mr Murphy said a decade ago police could not even demand identification, but recent laws such as the Australian Anti-Terrorism Act 2005 gave them "extraordinary powers".

Mr Hac said he went to the police station to file a complaint yesterday afternoon and was assured the police involved would be spoken to and all Kings Cross officers would be told that citizens had the right to film them doing their job.

from SMH

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Breaking up...

hey, Robert.

Fortunately, we sorted it out today. It was so frustrating last night and we almost break up. I tried my best to explain how I feel and think, but he still refused to forgive me and he needs think about it. So I was so grievously last night. However, this early morning he came down to my house unexpectedly and he apologized for being so angry with me.

Anyway, we still need to rebuild our relationship as he said it has been so fragile. A part of reason was I always say a break up easily and he is so hurting and stressed. Now I understand I shouldn’t say a break up all the time when I feel frustrating. Otherwise, the feelings are soooo bad…

Thanks for your kind advice and it has been very useful for my decision on this crisis.

I am glad. Actually, I thought about this quite a bit. What you have been doing to X is similar to what Belle did to me. It is one of the reasons I am now convinced she never loved me.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Chinese Media at Crossroads

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Humility and Pride

Some people, such as the German philosopher Nietzsche, see humility as a weakness. But the ancient Greeks knew it to be an essential quality of heroes, a product of courage and self-knowledge. Humility is the antidote to pride, which the author C. S. Lewis once damned as the "greatest sin", the vice that leads to every other vice.

"There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves," he wrote last century.

Lewis also wrote that, unlike other vices, pride was intrinsically competitive, getting "no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man". He described it as a "spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love or contentment or even common sense [emphasis added - RC]".

from Miranda Devine, SMH

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Where to get a good (and bad) coffee

Every country has its own particular foibles, it's little eccentricities that make it unique. However, there are certain things that cross the board that you can judge a country on.

Transport is one of them. Food is definitely one of them. Toilets are one of them. And, if you're anything like me, coffee is one of them.

I like coffee. I need coffee. When I wake up in the morning, there's a good shot of the black stuff between eyes opening and brain functioning.

But there's more to my love of coffee than a simple caffeine hit. I love the ritual of coffee. I love heading over to my local cafe and chatting to the barista, Andreas, while he works the espresso machine like a farmer milking a cow. I love an afternoon espresso standing at a bar, talking about football.

To me, coffee's all that's great about the world. So when a country takes it seriously, and does it well, it's got a friend in me.

Coffee when you're travelling is different to coffee when you're at home. It's no longer just an excuse to get out of the office for 10 minutes or so - it's a way of feeling another country's culture.

In somewhere like India, it's a chance to pull away from the manic streets and relax in a little secluded corner of the world. In Europe it's a chance to mix with locals in the town squares as they observe centuries-old rituals.

A coffee break is a chance to chat to locals, a chance to make friends ... and a chance to drink more coffee.

So, where's the good stuff?

Now, I realise I'm not exactly reinventing the travel writing wheel here, but the best coffee in the world has got to be in Italy. Smooth, rich and served at the perfect temperature, it's heaven in a cup.

And in my humble opinion, the best cappuccino in Italy is not in some little back-alley cafe in Rome, or, shudder, lining St Mark's Square in Venice - it's at the humble Autogrill service stops that dot the Autostradas. That, friends, is coffee at its finest. You might need a degree in astrophysics to figure out the system for ordering the stuff, but it's made by absolute professionals who probably dish out thousands of espressos a day. It's worth the hassle - they know what they're doing.

Away from Europe, I was surprised at how good the coffee was in Vietnam, particularly the cold coffee - an espresso poured into a glass of ice and condensed milk. Team that with a Hanoi pastry and that's your breakfast sorted. Malaysia is almost as good.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, Argentina is also home to some of the best java going. I could (and did) spend all day hanging around the piazzas of Buenos Aires drinking cafe chicos, eating medialunas, and wondering why I still couldn't speak Spanish.

There's also a lot to be said for those who like their coffee thick and strong, like in East Africa or Turkey, where it takes a fair amount of sugar to help work that sludgy espresso down. Still, it's well worth it if you don't want to sleep for the next few days.

Much as I love coffee, however, there are a few countries where it's probably best to ditch it in favour of the local brew - mainly because the other stuff is so good. Indian coffee isn't bad, for example, but you'd be crazy if you weren't drinking the street chai.

In Bolivia and Peru it's best to go for a mate, or coca leaf tea, to ease the pain of altitude sickness; and the green tea anywhere Asia is always worth a go.

But then there are countries where it's best to avoid the coffee for another reason: it's crap. I know the cafe culture is catching on in Britain, for example, but if someone is spruiking the only decent coffee in London as being made by antipodeans, they've clearly got a ways to go. (NB: Caffe Nero is not coffee.)

French coffee isn't great either, despite the country's proximity to some of the cafe kings. Although going by the stories I've heard, that could just be down to me not knowing how to order it properly.

And, much as I hate to kick the Yanks around all the time, for a country seemingly obsessed with coffee, it's mostly pretty bad over there. As you'll note when a barista hands you a bucket of steaming cappuccino, quantity does not equal quality.

Oh yeah, there's one country I've neglected to mention in all this: Australia. Maybe its our rich pool of coffee-loving immigrants, but it's pretty easy to get a damn good coffee around here, which goes some way to explaining why Starbuck's failed so spectacularly.

It fact, I'd say ours is some of the best in the world.

And as for which city has the best coffee? Well, that's easy. It's, um ...

Which country do you think makes the best coffee in the world? How about the worst?

from here

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Trade liberates and enriches everybody

In the 19th century, the French economist Frederic Bastiat expressed a principle applicable in the 21st century: "Where goods do not cross frontiers, armies will."
from here.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Chinese man held for quake photos

Chinese man held for quake photos

A Chinese teacher has been detained for posting images on the internet of schools that collapsed in the Sichuan earthquake, a rights group has said.

Human Rights in China said Liu Shaokun had been ordered to serve a year of "re-education through labour".

Mr Liu was detained for "disseminating rumours and destroying social order", the group said.

The 12 May quake killed nearly 70,000 people. Many of those who died were children whose schools collapsed.

The poor condition of the school buildings has become a sensitive political issue for the government, and grieving parents have staged numerous protests demanding an inquiry.

Many have accused local officials of colluding with builders to allow them to get away with cheap and unsafe practices.

"Instead of investigating and pursuing accountability for shoddy and dangerous school buildings, the authorities are resorting to re-education through labour to silence and lock up concerned citizens like teacher Liu Shaokun and others," said Human Rights in China Executive Director Sharon Hom.

No trial

According to Human Rights in China, Mr Liu's wife was informed by police last week that the teacher, from Guanghan Middle School in Deyang city, had been sent to a labour camp.

The "re-education through labour" system allows police to incarcerate a crime suspect for up to four years without the need for a criminal trial or a formal charge.

The system, in place since 1957, has been widely criticised by the UN and other organisations.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Starbucks sells coffee?

From The Killfile:
I remember when they opened the Starbucks on Lygon Street in Melbourne. It was the only shop that sold coffee on Lygon Street which was consistently empty. That always made me smile.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The crimes of Che Guevara

I am what you would call right of centre, a right-wing social democrat. Bit vague, and don't feel like going into it now, but a summary which will do for now is this:
1. Market-mechanisms are undoubtedly the best means of allocating resources. Where socially desriable outcomes (a subjective issue) are not met by the market, the optimal strategy is to design a market by fiat where shadow costs or similar reified concepts can be traded.
2. The market is often not, in its current state, the optimal place for looking after the disadvantaged, for providing justice, education, health or defence. But market mechanisms can often (but not always) be harnessed to provide some efficiency to goals that are viewed as desirable.
These are technical issues. They are about how to achieve something, not about what is right. So that is what many people would call right-wing. But I have a social conscience, and so there is the social democrat side of me.

Often I find myself arguing pro-left points of view not because I necessarily believe them, but because I find myself talking to someone who takes their right-wing point of view as a religion, rather than a debatable topic. Just because I disagree with you in words does not mean that I actually disagree with you.

Anyway, communist murderers is what I wanted to talk about here. I cannot be as erudite as others have been, so instead I will cite a few references:
1. mass-murdering communists, with particular reference to Che Guevara.
2. 180 documented victimes of Che Guevara in Cuba.
3. Che Guevara - just another dead thug.
4. 216 Documented victims of Ché Guevara in cuba: 1957 to 1959.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Chinese politics

I just had a Chinese student come by to consultations and start a political argument.
He asserted, as do most who take this point of view, that the western media are biased. As evidence of this, he cited the fact that all the western media were in support the Iraq war! I mean, what media is this guy talking about? What rock has he been living under? The only media outfit supporting the war was Fox news, but I think that they hardly qualify as reputable.

Then he said, wait for it: "just because we don't have elections doesn't mean that we're not a democracy". Then I just asked him to leave.