Wednesday, December 16, 2009

China, Iran, Myanmar, Australia

Snow over Wien

The man came to fix the heating. He fiddled about upstairs for a while and came down ready to leave saying ‘I have fixed it – goodbye’.

To which I said ‘Aber’ (but) (‘Aber’ is one of my favourite German words).

‘Aber’ I said ‘Aber die Klima funkionert nicht!’

‘Was?’ he said ‘Klima?’

‘Ja’ I said and demonstrated to him that icy blasts were coming out of the heating system. I explained to him that the heating had not worked for days and I had really hoped that he was here to fix it.

He was totally perplexed by this revised scenario and after an immense amount of discussion we deduced that he had come to fix the hot water – which in fact was not working when he arrived – even though frostbite man had fixed it two days ago.

He set about this revised task with renewed vigour and after a large amount of banging and crashing announced triumphantly that the widgets in some of the units were ‘Kaput!’

He got some of the units working after a fashion and it is now quite balmy – all things considered. The cats are sitting under a beach umbrella drinking banana Daiquiris. The Inuit are panic stricken because their Igloo is dripping all over the floor.

(Update: This morning the hot water is working but the heating is not. This certainly represents progress).

He has ordered new widgets and when they arrive he will call me to arrange to come and fix them. Or his son will if by then he has retired – but he is a young man – I have hope.

You may recall that in January this year some men came to look at the heating which wasn’t working. I quote from my Blog of 28 January 2009

“The men came to fix the air-conditioning and spent six hours here. After much farnarkling their solution was to cut pieces of cardboard from a number of cardboard cartons and put these pieces of cardboard into each air-conditioning unit. They said that they would get metal pieces made to replace the cardboard and one man spent some time drawing the specifications of these pieces of metal.

The men indicated that they would be back before the end of the century to fit these. This raises a number of questions - for example - if the air-conditioners require cardboard to make them work why was this not fitted in the factory?

The air conditioners are 10 years old. Why has the absence of cardboard not been noticed before now?”

I mention this only because today’s man removed a piece of the cardboard and regarded it with some interest before leaving it aside. He has apparently concluded that this particular part of the system has undertaken a process of self-healing and no longer requires the cardboard.

For the remaining pieces of cardboard I shall hold a first birthday part on 28 January.

I am embarrassed to advise that the Australian government has decided to go ahead to try to censor the Internet. It will now join such enlightened and freedom loving countries as – oh – China and Iran – and there must be some others – Myanmar?

It is such a fundamentally crackpot, unworkable, ill-advised, badly thought out idea that it is not worth discussing. However it is not – as you think – an attack on the freedoms of Internet users.

It is a constructive attempt to reduce the unemployment rate in Australia because when the system is introduced each boy aged more than 8 years of age will require 24 hour guards to prevent them from hacking the software and posting the codes on Twitter.

I predict that one will certainly slip through – due to the laxness of the guards knowing this is only short term employment - and within 24 hours of the system going live it will be effectively dead. If not - I know a number of ways around these types of systems and will publish them on my website!

You can’t get me here Kev! Hang on – is there an extradition treaty with Austria?

Merisi has given me some fabulous gift ideas – and if I was going to get Cate a gift I would have lots of opportunities. But we no longer exchange gifts because we believe that the wonder of waking up with each other Christmas morn (indeed any morn give the amount of Austrian white wine we drink) is in itself a precious gift beyond price.

And yes Jim ‘Belief is unreasonable’ unless you believe that Tony Abbott is a complete Plonker – in which case it is entirely justified.


  1. If you hang on courageously, while receiving precious survival lessons from your Eskimo friends, you must remember that spring is just a few months away. And, never forget that some of our most vicious European winters have given rise to glorious spring and summer seasons. It's purely a matter of patience. But seriously, I can't imagine that Viennese craftsmen are incompetent. After all, their skillful ancestors wrote some of the most cheerful waltzes you could possibly imagine... and I'm counting the days until I can hear them once again on TV, on New Year's Day.

    More seriously still, I appreciate greatly your wise reflection concerning the technological legacy and new challenges that Stephen Conroy is bequeathing upon the hacker youth of Australia. We'll soon have the brightest juvenile net wizards on the planet. Thanks, Steve. I've always realized that you were thinking constantly of the quality of the Aussie Internet. Everybody surely agrees that there's no better way of educating youth in this domain than to give them practical exercises in a real-life hands-on laboratory environment.

  2. Gift ideas? Me?
    Would you pleeease share them?
    I don't remember them, but am in desperate need of ideas. My children still believe in das Christkind and amazon only shows my own wishl list!

  3. Just popped back to OZ after 5 months in Europe - Geez, it's cold in Scotland !
    Philip, thought of you whilst watching a movie, so thought I'd recommend it, for one of your balmy nights when you have nothing better to do (Ha !) It's called "In the Loop" - Hilarious, so why not get hold of it as a gift, to yourself !
    Didn't quite make it to Austria, perhaps next year.
    Cheers, keep it up

  4. I can definitely recommend In the Loop. It has some pretty scary resonances if you've been exposed to Tony Blair, Alastair Campbell and the New Labour spin machine, but it's laugh out loud even if you aren't familiar with the dysfunction of our ego-driven government. Really great political satire with lots of inventive swearing!

  5. Shirlee and Parsifal - I will order In The Loop immediately from Amazon.

    Merisi - my gift ideas are inspired by your photography. But I mainly buy gifts for myself - like Truffle Cake and Coffee at Demel and such places.

    William - I am sure the current government has many more exciting ideas in store for all of us. None of them will be good for atheists.