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Monday, May 30, 2011

Scammer warning

Be warned - the scammers pretending to be from Microsoft are hard at work in Australia.

I received a telephone call late yesterday from someone claiming to be from Microsoft, claiming that my computer was sending error messages to Microsoft and this call was to resolve these.

I hung up.

I telephoned the telephone company, Telstra, hoping to be able to trace the call and pass that information to the police. Unfortunately they were unable to advise me of the origins of the call.

During subsequent discussions with both Telstra's Unwelcome Calls Centre and the ACCC's Scamwatch, I learned that these thieving scum are very active. The reason why they are so active is because they are finding people who fall for their b.s. and give them the details needed to perpetrate their scam.

There are a couple of points of concern with this matter.

One - why are people still falling for this? There has been report after report about this in the media. Microsoft do NOT telephone people as some sort of courtesy.

Two - all the relevant authorities are well aware of the activities of these scammers, so why is it they are unable to close them down?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What's it all about??

I was standing in the checkout line at the local supermarket earlier today and with nothing else to do at the time, I glanced at the covers on the magazine rack.

'KIM AND CHRIS SHARE BABY SECRET' shouted one cover, over a picture of Kim Kardashian and her presumed latest beau, a toddler on Ms Kardashian's knee. I looked further. Every single magazine cover on display seemed to be of various 'beautiful people', all announcing earth-shattering news such as 'my bikini secrets' or 'how Miranda lost it [her baby weight apparently]'.

The checkout line was a little slow, leaving me with 4time to have a think. So I thunked a bit more about this apparent cult of celebrity-ism.

Take Kim Kardashian for example. Several years ago, the entertainment 'news' greeted me with excited announcements that Ms Kardashian was going to pose for Playboy. 'So what? Who is she anyway?” was my response. Ever since then, it seems virtually impossible to get away from the Kardashian clan.

After several years of this Kardashian phenomenon generally inflicted on us, I am still left wondering just what it is that makes them so famous? What is it that they actually do? I even watched a couple of episodes of 'Keeping Up With The Kardashian's to try and understand who and what they were but I was left even more mystified. A lingerie shop apparently comes into it somewhere, not that I saw much evidence of them actually working in it.

Out of curiosity, I have pulled some of the story together. Mr Kardashian, father of the three Kardashian girls among other siblings, was a legal eagle who shot to fame (infamy?) by being part of O J Simpson's defence team. He presumably made a packet from that and his other legal dealings, judging by the apparent post-divorce lifestyle of his wife and children. Mrs Kardashian, after divorcing Mr Kardashian, met and married former Olympian, Bruce Jenner. OK, I knew who that was, not just because I am an old sports head but because I will actually admit to seeing the Village People film from 1980 that he appeared in. In my defence, it was a group of female friends from High School who were one short of a group discount that talked me into going to the film with them.Ultimately I was glad I went – not for the film but because the feature was supported by a full-length Captain Kremmin adventure. Who is Captain Kremmin? Oh you poor, benighted philistines. Kremmin was one of the late Kenny Everitt's finest comic creations. But back to my original ranting.

When Mrs Kardashian married Mr Jenner, it was a Brady Bunch-esque situation with each bringing three children to things. The newly married couple wasted little time in producing three more children of their own, although at least one of them in more recent times has apparently decided Dad's name wasn't good enough and started going by the name Kardashian even though she isn't actually a Kardashian at all.

Right – all this trivial information is just that – trivia. It does not actually indicate what these people do. Jenner was at least in the past involved in home fitness stuff and for all I know still is. I don't really care.

The three Kardashian girls grew up. The baby of the trio, Kim, became chums with that media whore, Paris Hilton. But with her good looks and apparently (at least back then) natural and substantial curves, the media began talking an interest in Hilton's friend, Kim.

Aha – now we're getting somewhere. Apparently Ms Hilton did not appreciate her chum taking away 'her' media, leading to a bad falling out between the two, which was also reported extensively in the 'entertainment news'. What is this – junior high school?

This was only the start of the media attention for Kim Kardashian. A 'reality' television program resulted. Ummm since when was their lifestyle anything remotely like 'reality?' Mrs Kardashian even became Kim's manager. In fact it was Manager Mum who thought it was such a great idea for her daughter to be getting her kit off for Playboy. But again I have to ask, just what is it that they actually do that makes them so 'famous' and such 'celebrities'?

At the end of the day, Kim Kardashian and to a lesser extent, her two older sisters, are simply famous for being famous. That's it. Is KK Junior attractive? You betcha. I am honest enough to tell you that my breath comes just that bit faster when I see a picture of her. But so what? And the three girls seem to have made a pretty darn good living out of this being famous for being famous and in short, becoming media whores. An ugly term to be sure, what what else can we describe it all as? Pay me enough and you can put me on the cover of your magazine!

Out of curiosity, I followed Kim's Twitter feed for a while. Nope, no further real illumination to be found there. Sure, there was the seemingly obligatory release of a Kim Kardashian label perfume, but so what? Who doesn't have their own fragrance range these days? Even I'm about to release my own fragrance line: Rossco's Reek. You too can smell of stale cigarettes, shaving cream and sweaty armpits! When I saw Ms Kardashian boasting in her Twitter feed about going shopping with Lindsay Lohan, I lost all interest. Being friends with that drug-addled skank has-been actress that no movie studio is prepared to work with any longer, is something to boast about? Oh please.

I am left with the conclusion that the Kardashian gift to the world is a life spent travelling around the world to parties, photo shoots and personal appearances, sudden weddings and equally sudden divorces. That's about it.

Now you could be forgiven for thinking I really dislike that family, especially Kim. Not really, although it has to be said that I am not particularly favourably inclined towards a mother who not only whores her children and family in general out to the media, but takes a managerial commission on it all. I am old fashioned enough to think that parents seek to protect their children etc.

Who I am really contemptuous of is the public that can elevate people like the Kardashian's into such massive media celebrities and famous for nothing more than being famous. And even more sadly, the Kardashian's are just one example, albeit a very large example. Appear in a couple of direct-to-DVD movies ten years ago? Look good on camera? Preferably female with plastic tits? Then you have a full-time career ahead of you appearing in the media, being feted for doing nothing of any consequence. And still yet more alarming, these nobodies have become role models for a generation who think that soft of lifestyle is something to aspire to!

Really, just what does this say about our society? Forget about global warming, nuclear threats etc. If this is the apparent pinnacle of our 'civilisation' then we probably aren't even worth saving.

Here endeth the rant.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Bloody Outrageous!

I know that I am far from the only one person with mixed feelings about what happened in the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden. I was just as disturbed by the sight of partying Americans in their streets as I was at the sight of similarly celebrating Palestinians etc in the wake of the World Trade Centre attack in 2001. For Barack Obama to be using this as an opportunity to claim that the US can do 'anything' even smacks of an arrogance that the US is not accountable to anyone or anything, although I suspect that was not his intention with that remark.

Things have gotten way out of hand however with some outrageous comments by New Zealand MP, Hone Harawira. Mr Harawira, an indigenous Maori politician, has praised slain bin Laden as a freedom fighter. Quoting from a press report: "We have heard nothing but negative things about him from the Americans, but he fought for the self-determination of his people and for his beliefs," Harawira told Maori-language television on Monday.

This is simply outrageous. Bin Laden was not about 'self-determination for his people' at all. He was a militant religious extremist, who publicly rejoiced in the murder of thousands of innocents. The fact that this phenomenal act of murder actually included fellow Muslims, seems to have been overlooked by the bin Laden apologists. His actions inspired yet more acts of murder by extremist terrorists, including the Bali nightclub bombing in 2002.

Are we supposed to rejoice in all who murder for their beliefs? OK, let's start handing out Nobel Peace prizes to Adolph Hitler, Pol Pot and all the rest of the murdering filth everywhere. What about Ted Bundy - he had the belief that he should be allowed to brutally torture and kill people simply because he liked it. So should we be celebrating his pursuit of his beliefs???

Just as bin Laden did NOTHING to push towards peaceful reconciliation between the nominal Christian world and the Arabic, Harawira is giving his own credibility a shot in the foot and thus doing little for his ability to pursue Maori rights in a meaningful manner.

I am not that naive to expect the world to just simply all start holding hands, sitting in a circle while singing Kum Ba Yah, but wholescale murder by extremists is NOTHING to be praising as Harawira has effectively done.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A reason for rejoicing and sorrow

The death of Osama Bin Laden is a reason for both rejoicing and sorrow.

The end of the leader of one of the most militant extremist groups going around, has to be a reason to be pleased. Extremism of any flavour is abhorrent but when it is used to justify wholesale butchering, it ascends to a whole new level.

The death of anyone in stupid, pointless conflict is also a cause for sorrow. However there is a distinct possibility that Bin Laden's passing shall be seen as creation of a martyr thereby birthing yet more violence, more reprisals and so the cycle would continue.

Far more intelligent people than I have been unable to come up with a resolution of the issues behind the rise of militant extremism so I shall not attempt to do so here. However blatant manufacturing of excuses to go to war as exemplified by the Bush Junior administration, supported by Britain's Tony Blair and Australia's John Howard, not only fail to address those concerns, they created far more. Let's be honest - we were presented with a complete load of bullshit to justify that Coalition of the Willing or whatever the heck it was called. The phrase Weapons of Mass Destruction eventually became nothing but a bad joke because of the way it was used in the Iraqi context.

There are times when I briefly consider worrying about environmental issues is a waste of time as we will have already killed ourselves off as a species before environmental problems could do so.