Wednesday, June 27, 2007

ABS Results

Every 4 or so years, we go through the task of filling out a census form. Here are some of the slightly more interesting results:

For every 100 women in Australia, there are 97 men.

Marriage is still the norm for couples, although married couples now account for a lower share of the population than they did in 1996 - down from 53.3 per cent to 49.6 per cent.

The number of followers of Hinduism has more than doubled since 1996, now covering 0.7 per cent of the population.

Followers of Buddhism also doubled to more than two per cent of the population.

Islam accounts for 1.7 per cent and Judaism 0.4 per cent.

Christianity remains the dominant religion. It grew slightly, from 12.6 million followers to 12.7 million but fell as a proportion of the population from 71 per cent to 64 per cent.

Almost 19 per cent of Australians said they had no religion.

The number of young people living with their parents grew by eight per cent and the number of students dependent on their parents rose by 14 per cent.

More school students now attend private schools, 35 per cent, compared to 30 per cent in 1996.

Living at home with your parents and going to private school? Yup. That's Melbourne alright. And 19 per cent of Aussies say they have no religion. That's a fair chunk of the populace given that a reasonable share of people would write down a religion even though they don't really follow it, I imagine.

CIA Secrets

The CIA has decided to release some of its old documents to remove its alleged veil of secrecy:

The CIA worked with three American mobsters in a botched attempt to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro in the early 1960s, according to a 700-page CIA dossier known as the "Family Jewels" released today.

The documents detail some of the agency's worst illegal abuses during about 25 years of overseas assassination attempts, domestic spying and kidnapping.

CIA Director Michael Hayden released the dossier to lift the veil of secrecy on the agency's past, as the Bush administration faces criticism of being too secretive now.

Mr Hayden told agency employees in a statement the trove included "reminders of some things the CIA should not have done" and a glimpse "of a very different era and a very different agency."

Much of the information had been released in various congressional investigations in past years, but the pages provide detailed accounts of CIA activities, much of it against the backdrop of the Cold War.

Some of the CIA's Family Jewels describe the agency's initial efforts to get rid of Castro, whose 1959 revolution ushered in communism to the island. Despite the US campaign against him, Castro remains Cuban leader at age 80, although he handed over temporary power to his brother Raul after surgery last July.

I wonder if the documents detail how they trained the Bolivians to get rid of Che (el Pajero)?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Cheeky Iranians

The Brits could have learnt something from us:

Quoting a "military source", BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner reports Iranian forces made a concerted attempt to seize a boarding party from the Royal Australian Navy and that the Australians "were having none of it".

"The BBC has been told the Australians re-boarded the vessel they had just searched," Gardner reports, "aimed their machine guns at the approaching Iranians, and warned them to back off, using what was said to be 'highly colourful language'."

Colourful language, eh? Amazing how far it gets you sometimes.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Trams, lattés and mobsters

Ah, good old Melbourne. The arrest of this Fat Tony character in Greece has made for some interesting reading. I don't have to travel far from my leafy suburb to find some spot where some underworld figure was shot down sometime in the last couple of years. You don't get that in sleepy old Brissie.

Another thing you don't see as much in Brisbane is such blatant unionism. Every construction worker I see has a Eureka flag on his sleeve, and there are plenty of union offices scattered throughout the city. I guess then I shouldn't be that surprised by the following:

The majority of underworld crime figures and major incidents can be traced back to the Painters and Dockers Union that existed on Melbourne's waterfront after the Second World War. The Union had a Mafia-like structure, and most criminal activity was centered around control of the Union, and the cut associated with the drugs (primarily heroin and cocaine) that passed through the port.

Whatever happened to that romantic image of the hard-working union member with a family to feed? A fair day's pay for a fair day's work and all the rest. Our struggling family man was replaced by Tony Soprano, apparently. Still, makes for the odd interesting article in the news.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Hippie Perished

I sometimes wonder if hippies know why we don't take them seriously when they attempt to lecture us on economical and social issues. Perhaps, it's because they do stuff like this:

A man who died from extreme dehydration after an outback purification ritual was not given immediate medical help because fellow campers believed he was astral travelling, a coronial inquest has heard.

Melbourne man Rowan Douglas Cooke, 37, died on November 3, 2004, a day after being dragged unconscious from a heated tent, called a sweat lodge, as part of a native American ritual.

He was camping with 10 others from Victoria on an isolated property in the Gammon Ranges in South Australia's far north, undergoing an eight-day ritual of fasting, meditation and purification.

The mind boggles. Pity about the man's family. Still, you reckon his efforts are worthy of a Darwin award? I know, I know. I'm going straight to hell.

Aussie Meedja

The following vicious, though entertaining, extract from the Crikey! newsletter outlines the sad state of affairs that is our media:

Overnight Australian time a young Los Angeles resident was jailed for 23 days after a series of minor driving offences. This is bigger news than China's reluctance to pursue some sort of solution to its contribution to global warming and thus save the planet.

According to Media Monitors, the incarceration of Paris Hilton has received 485 broadcast mentions across all Australian electronic media in
Are we there yet? Have we finally arrived at some point at which the public imagination has at last been saturated by the low-life likes of Lindsay Lohan, Nicole Richie, Britney Spears and Paris Hilton? Who are these people? Why are we obsessed with intellectually malnourished, semi-starved, over-coiffed, hyper-indulged air heads? Why on earth does anything that they could conceivably do matter? They are like a cancer of the collective bowel.

The great pity is that only one of them is behind bars. A zoo if it has to be. Just take them away.

past 48 hours. Chinese emissions policy, by comparison, has been referred to 71 times.

Good to see the media is so obliging to the lowest common denominator. This is partly why I rarely blog nowadays (the other reason is that I'm lazy and have work to do). My American office mate, who would actually read such inane celebrity-related articles, thinks Ms Hilton got a raw deal. I say, who cares?