Jon Stewart’s Speech at Rally to Restore Sanity

Overnight Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert hosted their Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear at the National Mall in Washington D.C. 150,000 people attended to witness one of the most bizzare protests/rallys you will ever see. But despite this it was also one of the biggest rallys in a generation. The speech made by Jon Stewart at the end of the rally summed up the feelings of the day quite aptly, at the same time in very much Jon Stewart style:

I can’t control what people think this was. I can only tell you my intentions. This was not a rally to ridicule people of faith or people of activism or to look down our noses at the heartland or passionate argument or to suggest that times are not difficult and that we have nothing to fear. They are and we do. But we live now in hard times, not end times. And we can have animus and not be enemies.

But unfortunately one of our main tools in delineating the two broke. The country’s 24 hour political pundit perpetual panic conflictinator did not cause our problems but it’s existence makes solving them that much harder. The press can hold it’s magnifying up to our problems bringing them into focus, illuminating issues heretofore unseen or they can use that magnifying glass to light ants on fire and then perhaps host a week of shows on the sudden, unexpected dangerous flaming ant epidemic.

If we amplify everything we hear nothing. There are terrorists and racists and Stalinist and theocrats but those are titles that must be earned. You must have the resume. Not being able to distinguish between real racists and Tea Partiers or real bigots and Juan Williams and Rick Sanchez is an insult, not only to those people but to the racists themselves who have put in the exhausting effort it takes to hate. Just as the inability to distinguish terrorists from Muslims makes us less safe not more. The press is our immune system. If we overreact to everything we actually get sicker and perhaps eczema.

And yet with that being said I feel good—strangely, calmly good. Because the image of Americans that is reflected back to us by our political and media process is false. It is us through a fun house mirror and not the good kind that makes you look slim in the waist and maybe taller, but the kind where you have a giant forehead and an ass shaped like a month old pumpkin and one eyeball.

So, why would we work together? Why would you reach across the aisle to a pumpkin- assed forehead eyeball monster? If the picture of us were true of course our inability to solve problems would actually be quite sane and reasonable. Why would you work with Marxists actively subverting our Constitution or racists and homophobes who see no one’s humanity but their own? We hear every damn day about how fragile our country is—on the brink of catastrophe—torn by polarizing hate and how it’s a shame that we can’t work together to get things done, but the truth is we do. We work together to get things done every damn day!

The only place we don’t is here or on cable TV. But Americans don’t live here or on cable TV. Where we live our values and principles form the foundation that sustains us while we get things done not the barriers that prevent us from getting things done. Most Americans don’t live their lives solely as Democrats, Republicans, Liberals or Conservatives. Americans live their lives more as people that are just a little bit late for something they have to do—often something that they do not want to do — but they do it. Impossible things every day that are only made possible by the little reasonable compromises that we all make.

Look on the screen this is where we are this is who we are. (points to the Jumbotron screen which show traffic merging into a tunnel). These cars—that’s a schoolteacher who probably thinks his taxes are too high. He’s going to work. There’s another car-a woman with two small kids who can’t really think about anything else right now. There’s another car swinging I don’t even know if you can see it—the lady’s in the NRA. She loves Oprah. There’s another car—an investment banker, gay, also likes Oprah. Another car’s a Latino carpenter. Another car a fundamentalist vacuum salesman. Atheist obstetrician. Mormon Jay-Z fan. But this is us. Every one of the cars that you see is filled with individuals of strong belief and principles they hold dear—often principles and beliefs in direct opposition to their fellow travelers.

And yet these millions of cars must somehow find a way to squeeze one by one into a mile long 30 foot wide tunnel carved underneath a mighty river. Carved, by the way, by people who I’m sure had their differences. And they do it. Concession by concession. You go. Then I’ll go. You go then I’ll go. You go then I’ll go, ‘Oh my God, is that an NRA sticker on your car? Is that an Obama sticker on your car?’ Well, that’s okay—you go and then I’ll go.

And sure, at some point there will be a selfish jerk who zips up the shoulder and cuts in at the last minute, but that individual is rare and he is scorned and not hired as an analyst.

Because we know instinctively as a people that if we are to get through the darkness and back into the light we have to work together and the truth is, there will always be darkness. And sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t the promised land.

Sometimes it’s just New Jersey. But we do it anyway, together.

If you want to know why I’m here and want I want from you I can only assure you this: you have already given it to me. You’re presence was what I wanted.

Sanity will always be and has always been in the eye of the beholder. To see you here today and the kind of people that you are has restored mine. Thank you.

Revenue gathering doesn’t save lives better roads do

The road toll in NZ this labour weekend is already five. This is despite, for the second long weekend in a row, the Police dropping the tolerance level for speeding from 10km/h over limit to 5km/h.

Last long weekend the Police claimed that their lowering of the tolerance level saved lives, however, with the road toll in NZ being so volatile due to weather factors, and the size of the country being small it was more than likely just a statistic anomaly then any effect the Police had.

This long weekend has just shown that the effect of lowering tolerance does nothing to the limit and instead just trivialises fines and is nothing more than a revenue gathering exercise for police.

In NSW police do the same thing with double demerit points on long weekends. This does not save lives or encourages people to drive safer. Instead people who do take note spend more time looking at their dashboards instead of the road ahead.

A few weeks back former V8 Supercar Champion, Mark Skaife, was on a current affairs show on TV arguing that money should be spent on improving roads, increasing the speed limit, driver education and better cars than super strict enforcement of the driving rules.

I doubt any change will happen though when police and government policy continues to be driven on ticket quotas, revenue raising, and persecution of young drivers.

Mourning the self-inflicted death of NZ unions

The core purpose of workers unions is to band together as a group of individuals to create a collective entity to negotiate with employers in industrial relations. However, in the recent decades union membership has fallen as people become more individually competitive and the unions become more about political bias and ideology than actually representing workers.

Sure this may be a very broad generalisation but the actions of the Council of Trade Unions (CTU) in the dispute regarding The Hobbit has done more damage to the reputation of unions in NZ than any government policy could dream of.

If NZ loses The Hobbit much more than $500 million in production costs and 2,500 immediate jobs will be lost. The flow on effects of tourism and related jobs and money will also be lost and the value of this cannot be measured. All of this because an Australian union with 80 members in NZ tries to hold an entire nation to ransom.

The reality is NZ is small economically and this dispute is already having an impact on the currency markets. NZ’s reputation in Australia is being trashed with the story front page on Friday’s newspapers. And even the actual actors are fed up with the stupidity of the unions. The NZ Herald reports:

… at the Armageddon Expo, Stargate Atlantis actor Torri Higginson told the crowd it would be “insane” if The Hobbit was not filmed in New Zealand. “If anyone knows him [Peter Jackson] tell him I’ll work for free,” said Higginson. “F*** the unions.”

Personally, I am ideologically pro-union. However, the actions of the CTU have put me off ever joining a CTU affiliated union, and I think many people in NZ would feel the same way. I except in the coming year union membership in NZ to drop even more.

Kiwiblog sums up the feeling of the nation well:

I suspect many actors would work for free on the film. But Jackson will not only be paying good weekly rates, he is the first Producer to offer residuals to NZ actors. How the fuck the CTU ever decided to make him public enemy number one I don’t know.

It’s not the alcohol we’re drinking, it’s the caffeine.

There is a gem of an article on news.com.au today:

PUBS are likely to be banned from selling energy drinks on tap with both the Government and Opposition committing to tackling the issue.

… highly-caffeinated drink Mother is on tap at 95 pubs and clubs across the state, despite NSW Health officials warning energy drinks, mixed with alcohol, can provoke sexual assaults and an increased rate of violence.

Health minister Carmel Tebbutt will look at banning energy drinks on tap and will put the issue on the agenda at a cabinet committee.

The next thing I expect is the BAC (blood alcohol concentration) limit for driving to be replaced by a BCC (blood caffeine concentration) limit.

The reality is alcohol causes much more problems than caffeine and I don’t see any moves to ban that.

Road Trip – Photos 5 – Port Macquarie to Sydney, Roads and Beaches

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This gallery contains 28 photos.

The final day of our road trip was spent travelling from Port Macquarie to Sydney via a detour to Foster and Newcastle. Pretty much unless you are in your 90s, death and blind don’t visit Port Macquarie there are only two pubs and you can’t go to the beach at night. Foster and the beaches around it on the other hand appeared much more appealing and would be certainly be worthwhile investigating. The drive into Sydney is spectacular as the quality of the road makes NZ roads look like unsealed backstreets.

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Road Trip – Photos 4 – Byron, Coffs Harbour, Roads and Waterfalls

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This gallery contains 32 photos.

After our visit to Movie World we headed south to Byron Bay, before staying the night in Grafton. The next morning we continued south to Coffs Harbour before heading inland to the New England Highway, then after travelling about an hour south back across to the Pacific Highway at Port Macquarie.

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Road Trip – Photos 3 – Stunt Driver

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This gallery contains 32 photos.

There are a number of live shows throughout the day at Movie World. One of the new shows is Stunt Driver in which a number of real movie stunt drivers show off their skills to a live audience. The premise of the show is the filming of a chase scene for a movie. The skill of the drivers in the show is absolutely amazing and shows you not everything you see in movies is computer generated.

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Road Trip – Photos 2 – Movie World

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This gallery contains 24 photos.

The first day of the road trip was spent at Warner Bros. Movie World. This was my first time at a major theme park and it was a fantastic experience. Photos from the Stunt Driver show will come in the next blog post. But here are 28 photos of other parts of the day, and this is only a very small selection of what is on offer.

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Road Trip – Photos 1 – Surfers Paradise

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This gallery contains 16 photos.

A friend and I have just spent the past few days on a road trip between Brisbane and Sydney. In total there are over 700 photos from the trip. I don’t have time to put them all online, but over the next few days I will be posting the best photos from each of the days.

To kick things off here are photos from my morning walk at Surfers Paradise.

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