Yay, I’m back for who-knows-how-long… For those who aren’t in the know; I have a bad back. To be precise I have two herniated disks in my L4 and L5 lumbar. So that means from time to time they go nuts on my spinal cord and I can’t do simple things like sit or walk. I had an operation once to fix this problem when I was 24 but the problem resurfaced a few years later. I could have another operation but the time needed for recovery is rather large so it’s just not an option at the moment.

So in practice what that meant was I had to spend a week in bed, which wasn’t as exciting or romantic as it sounds. Thank goodness I have a Macbook and an almost endless stream of movies to watch, not to mention the free wireless access through some kind neighbour’s unsecured network!

The funny/sad thing about all this is now I share my bed with a Macbook. Does that means I’m now cursed to never have a girlfriend ever again? At least I don’t live in my parents’ basement…

Another upshot is that the update I had in the works is now hopelessly out of date. But it’s refreshing to note that apart from a couple of celebrity deaths and a couple of aircrashes that nothing much has really changed in the news over the past few weeks – at least in the meta-stories that I follow…

I qualify for the free 12,000 yen from the Japanese Government! I have the form and will go down to the city office soon to stake my claim. No idea how I will choose to stimulate the economy… Any suggestions?

One interesting development in the Australian internet firewall fiasco is that iiNet has pulled out of testing the new system. They have cited the reason that the list clashes with their philosophy of supporting free speech and social responsibility. The list of banned sites was leaked onto Wikileaks and showed that the government was not just targetting child porn sites (the reason for the censorship) but also regular porn sites as well as some that discuss euthanasia, hate speech, even inocuous sites like that of a Queensland dentist. A big thimbs-up to iiNet for taking a stand, and hopefully if the other testers follow suit the government will have no choice but to abandon this ridiculous program.

You could also add the Australian government’s environmental program to the list of policies that need drastic overhauling. Rudd’s done a Howard and gone to ‘clean coal’ (an oxymoron if ever there was one) instead of doing what the Europeans (and even Obama) are doing and that’s developing solar and wind energy.

Cracks are appearing in the mainstream media’s one-eyed hero-worship of Obama with a 60 Minutes interview taking the new President’s seeming callous attitude to the economic crisis to task. Public protests are also starting up across the country as it becomes clear that the bailout of the banks may well be doing more harm than good.

Obama’s empty rhetoric is justifyably getting an airing, and we need to keep supporting people researching what’s really going on behind the words of this charismatic man. Take closing Guantanamo for example. 200 or so of the prisoners (since they aren’t called ‘enemy combatants’ any more) are being moved to an expanded Bagram base in Afghanistan, where their situation won’t change. Another is the escalation in Afghanistan. Obama would do well to listen to the advice of the former Soviets – and that is, basically, don’t bother.

There was also the passing of legislation that could lead to the creation of a seven-million strong civilian “army” that could be drawn upon to keep the peace if the country goes to pot, or just become a default ‘draft’. This one can’t be blamed entirely on Obama as it’s been in the pipeline for ages, but it is happening on his watch, and with his approval.

One independent commentator is asking if Obama is really “dumber than a bag of hammers”. Another has declared that the USA has two solutions; either declare bankruptcy or start a war – a big one. That could well happen in Pakistan as the state looks to be very unstable at the moment – and they have nukes.

Regardless of the economic situation, Britain’s chief scientist has released a report claiming that due to food, water, energy and environmental problems getting out of hand, by 2030 the world is going to be in a desperate state, and people will respond by taking desperate actions.

With China and Russia calling for the world to abandon the US dollar as the default reserve currency, things are going to get very interesting indeed.

Meanwhile the top story in Australia the past couple of weeks has been over whether Pauline Hanson had nude pictures taken of her. No, I didn’t look, and I don’t think you should either (urrrgh!), but it gives you an idea of why I don’t read the mainstream press that much…

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Scientists are predicting that this year will be the coldest year of the decade. It has been friggin’ cold up here in the Northern Hemisphere for my southern-dwelling friend. Got news for youno sunspots. Not a one. Remember the last time that happened? Well, not unless you’re 400 or something, but it got cold – for years. Buy stocks in a fleece company.

A woman has spent a year doing everything Oprah says to do  in the name of ‘art’, and by ‘art’ we mean getting her face in the media and getting a book deal. At the end of the year she’s become an Oprah Drone without realising it. You know who wins in the name of Oprah vs. ironic post-feminist art? Oprah, baby, that’s who.

Here’s an interview of Ed Benedict done by John Kricfalusi. Who’s Ed Benedict? The guy who invented The Flintstones (as well as Yogi Bear, Quick Draw McGraw, Huckleberry Hound….). Who’s John Kricfalusi? The guy who invented Ren and Stimpy. Read on.

Someone at Burger King needs to read up on Orientalism and Colonialism. Bleah. Someone needs to do a Festival Of The Chicken on these guys. (I’m not making that up!)

That economic rescue package thingy has grown to $8.5 trillion. That’s eight and a half trillion dollars, or a crap-load of money. So what happens when you extrapolate the eventual cost of something else the Bush administration is responsible for, such as the Iraq War, onto the bailout? $595 TRILLION. One piece of good news is that it now costs peanuts to hire a cargo ship…. errrmmm…

Don’t worry, the CEOs got paid

Greenland’s not the only place where storm clouds are gathering. Try Italy, where education cutbacks are threatening the future of society. Try Europe as a whole, where immigration policy threatens to destabilize the region. Try Thailand where violent protests are just a moment away – still. Try Pakistan, where violence and chaos are growing day by day. It threatens the whole region. Try my sunny homeland, Australia, where the government is really going to bring in Internet filtering. Thankfully people aren’t going to take it lying down.

So, a year on from the Nova collapse. Wow, a lot has happened!

In Tokyo, tourists have been barred from the famous Tsujiki fish markets for a month. They can’t keep their greasy mits off the merchandise, or their camera flashes off apparently.

I remember back in the late 80s when mildly rascist commentators went berzerk over how the Japanese were going to buy everything – and it didn’t happen. Now it’s the turn of the Chinese.

I don’t agree with the Catholic church about most things, but I can agree with them about this; Disney is evil and should be wiped from the Earth.

Steve McQueen has been dead for nearly thirty years and is still cooler than anyone – except perhaps Stephen Colbert.