Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Toowoomba, Oct 6th, 2012

Toowoomba Carnival of Heathens

Just a quick note to let anyone who is in or around the Toowoomba region on Saturday 6th October, 2012 know that there will be a marriage equality rally - Love Is Worth Fighting For - at Frog's Hollow in Queens Park (corner Margaret and Hume streets) from 1PM - 4PM.  This will be a family friendly event with a sausage sizzle, some stalls and face painting for the kiddies.  This is a drug and alcohol free event.

For more information on this event, see

Also, after this event we'll be having a Critical Thinking get together at Fibber's/Fitzy's from 4:30PM until, well, what time do they close?  :)  This will be the inaugural meeting to establish a community of skeptical/rational/secular/humanist/critical thinkers in Toowoomba so that we can help those who feel that evidence-based thinking is getting the short straw in Australia (and around the world).

This meeting will be an informal get together so that people can see that they are not the only person who feels similarly to how they feel and so that we can work out a time and place to hold future meetings on a regular basis.  This is clearly not an alcohol-free event! :)

I'll be there, as will Ronnie Williams (of the NSCP High Court Challenge fame), Chrys Stevenson (of Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear fame), Jane Douglas (of Putting Her Oar In fame), Emily Dye and a number of others.  Feel free to come along and discuss your thoughts, feelings, frustrations and drink choices with a friendly bunch of critical thinkers. :)


The Outspoken Wookie

Saturday, September 22, 2012

ACT - 90% Renewable Energy By 2020

I just sent the following email to both the ACT Environment Minister Simon Corbell and also the Chief Minister Katy Gallagher in response to this article in the Canberra Times - thanks to for bringing this to my attention:

As a Queenslander who has just had the misfortune of witnessing our incoming government dismantle not only our previous ALP government's Solar Dawn Program and the Solar Bonus Feed-In Tariff, but numerous other green schemes, it is encouraging to hear that in the ACT, the future is being considered with much greater care than has recently been shown here.

I would like to congratulate you on your ability to make quality calls about the future of the Territory's energy requirements.  This is a good step towards a saner, more manageable and more responsible energy plan for Australia.  I believe the WA government is looking seriously at biodiesel - another area that we Australians need to take a much closer look at, as well as other algae-related fuel and material sources.

With the current global warming we're seeing, someone has to take action.  Australia's Carbon Tax is a small step in a long. long journey and clean/renewable energy will not only help reduce our reliance on CO2 producing energy sources, but will also reduce the other emissions we generate from our energy production that we then need to breathe back in.  The LNP's position here in Queensland that the Carbon Tax that the Federal ALP has enforced on Australia will make further research and development of clean and green energy sources redundant is, to put it politely, utterly ridiculous.

So, again, congratulations on seeing what's needed for both the ACT and Australia and taking steps to implement these practices.


The Outspoken Wookie

Sunday, September 16, 2012


The following lyrics were written by a great poet...

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try

You don't actually have to try to imagine there's no heaven - all you have to do is look at the evidence for heaven (whichever form of heaven you believe in) and see that there is no real evidence.  Heaven doesn't exist - there's no need to try and imagine it isn't there as it simply isn't there.

No hell below us

Along with heaven, hell is a myth.

Above us only sky

... and 13.7 billion years of history in this universe.

Imagine all the people living for today

That's right - live for this life, the only one you have, and make sure this life is well lived and you leave the place better than you found it.  Don't bother to "store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal" as that place does not exist.  Make this life good.

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do

Right now with the way the Internet is reaching across the globe and, aside from a few places where it is being heavily censored, such as China, breaking down walls and boundaries this isn't really all that hard to imagine.  Sure, countries still exist and still fight each other for land (look at Israel as a prime example), but these days people have the ability to see what other countries are doing as and when they are doing it and learn from the mistakes that have been made throughout history.  Whether they want to learn or not is still an issue - but the lessons are all out there and available to almost everyone.

Nothing to kill or die for

Now, this will require some serious imagination.  As a species, we're good at two things: Exploration and Aggression.  At times, the aggression pushes our exploration to reach further than it would have (look at the early space race as an excellent example), yet other times our aggression hinders our exploration (look at the current state of space travel and exploration as an unfortunately excellent example).

And no religion too

Humans will always, I think, find something to fight over.  Religion is one of those things - people have different imaginary friends and will kill each other rather than admit those imaginary friends are, well, imaginary.  I don't care if you want to personally have an imaginary friend, but you cannot use that imaginary friend to restrict nor remove the rights of others - but feel free to have them restrict your own rights all you want.

Imagine all the people living life in peace

Peace.  Hhmmm...  Do we really know what that even means?  :(

You, you may say
I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one

I'm most definitely not - I know a number of people who would like to see religion used for personal reasons, not to control the will of others.  People like George Pell, Jim Wallace and Peter Jensen are on the other side of the fence, along with the radical Muslim clerics who are beating up this recent anti-Islam movie into something they can use to murder people - the other side of the fence wants to use their own personal religious beliefs to oppress others in various ways.  Homophobia, for instance, will result in the early deaths of more homosexuals than their "lifestyle" could ever cause.  Living with the hatred of your community for what your genes have expressed (ie, something you cannot control and have no choice over) cannot possibly be an easy thing.

I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Yes, that would be awesome.  Reality is awesome.  Though I'd like a few more people to accept reality for what it is and not feel the need to shield it with religion. Thinking is hard, sure, but the payoffs are great! :)

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can

Well, I don't know if I'd go so far, John, but I get your point.  We may not want to have a communist society (theoretically decent, but they are always corrupted by those in power - those who are "more equal" than their subjects) but there's enough wealth to go around that we really shouldn't have people living below the poverty line.

No need for greed or hunger

With the amount of food produced in the world today, there currently *IS* no need for greed nor hunger.  The amount of food that developed nations throw away is obscene - especially when there are way too many currently not only in poverty, but living without adequate food.

A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world

How is it that we pretty much all teach our kids to share their toys and play nicely, but we then willingly throw this valuable lesson out later in life?  Some of the lessons we learn as children are extremely valuable and this is definitely one of them.  No, I don't long for a society of free love, free food, free card and free, well, whatever, but we do have enough resources on this planet to be able to see more equity across the board.  I don't begrudge those who work hard and play hard and make good headway, but we also need to keep an eye on those further back in the class and help them along a bit.

Realising that we are all human beings, no matter what our color, gender, sexual orientation, personal religious beliefs nor anything else and that we all deserve a chance to live a decent life is something that as a species, we cannot afford to lose sight of.  The more critical thinking people start learning how to do, the more they will realise that their beliefs in mythology are unwarranted and they will start to give up on their magical thinking - then they will have the opportunity to experience the absolute awesomeness of reality and the understanding that we are *all* human beings.

You, you may say
I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will live as one

Yes, I truly hope that one day we can get past this magical thinking and we can all use our brains for working out ways to move us forward as a species.  That will be a wonderful day!


The Outspoken Wookie

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Windows Experience Index - Windows 8

The WEI scoring system has changed a fair bit since it was introduced in Windows F^HVista and the version that's in Windows 8 extends the Windows Experience from a highest result of 7.9 (as per Windows 7) up to a top of 9.9.  Here's the link to my Windows 7 Experience Index post.

For a decent read about what the Windows Experience Index involves, have a read of this. It doesn't go into a lot of technical depth, however it is enlightening.

Now, I have a few computers here right now that I'm running Windows 8 on and below I've listed the scores as well as scores from other people's computers that I've been able to verify. I'm particularly interested in the HDD/SSD and RAM scores for use in regular daily office use. CPU usage is rarely ever an issue (on modern PCs), but more so as a comparison between tablets, ultrabooks, notebooks and desktops to see if one could be usable for extended periods.  The component/figure in bold is the base score (determined by the lowest subscore).  Also, as more figures are obtained, I'll add them to this table.

(If you want to send me details to add to this list, please send the following:
* Screen capture of Control Panel\System and Security\System
* Screen capture of Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Performance Information and Tools
* Screen Capture of Device Manager showing your HDDs (and highlighting the Primary HDD if you have more than 1 installed)
* A zipped HTML output from CPU-z
as all of the above give me the detail I need to complete this table.)

Alan Burchill's Desktop
Win 8 Pro x64
CPU - Core i7 2700K @ 3.50GHz
Graphics - Unknown
Gaming Graphics - Unknown
Primary SSD - Intel X25-M 160 GB
Roy Adams' Dell M4700
Win 8 Pro x64
CPU - Core i7 3740QM @ 2.70GHz
Graphics - Intel HD 4000
Gaming Graphics -Intel HD 4000
Primary SSD - Samsung PM830 256 GB
Hilton's Desktop
Bus Speed O/C to 166 MHz
Win 8 Pro x64
CPU - Core i7 920 @ 2.67GHz
RAM - 3*4 GB A-RAM PC-12000 (1600 MHz)
Graphics - 2 * Gigabyte HD4850 Fanless
Gaming Graphics - 2 * GV-R485MC-1GI
Primary SSD - A-RAM AR120GBE 120 GB
Dell XPS L501x Notebook
Win 8 Pro x64
CPU - Core i7-740QM @ 1.73 GHz
RAM - 2*4GB HMT351S6BFR8C-H9 (667 MHz)
Graphics - nVidia GeForce GT435M 2GB
Gaming Graphics - nVidia GeForce GT435M 2GB
Primary HDD - Toshiba MK6461GSY 640 GB
Dell XPS 12 Notebook
Win 8 Pro x64
CPU - Core i7-3537U @ 2.00 GHz
RAM - 2*4GB DDR3 (667 MHz)
Graphics - Intel HD 4000 2GB
Gaming Graphics - Intel HD 4000 2GB
Primary SSD - LITEONIT LMT-256M6M 256 GB

Friday, September 07, 2012

Jim Wallace - ACL

On 5 September, 2012, Jim Wallace, the Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby (a fundamentalist christian lobby group), said at a same sex marriage debate in Tasmania "I think we're going to owe smokers a big apology when the homosexual community's own statistics for its health - which it presents when it wants more money for health - are that is has higher rates of drug-taking, of suicide, it has the life of a male reduced by up to 20 years. The life of smokers is reduced by something like seven to 10 years and yet we tell all our kids at school they shouldn't smoke."

After this, he claimed that when the media released this quote - which he, of course, doesn't deny making - they have misrepresented him.  Now, "The Age" did headline their story on this issue "Smoking healthier than gay marriage" and had the following as their opening paragraph "The head of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) Jim Wallace says smoking is healthier than the lifestyle that would be promoted by same-sex marriage."  Neither of these are written as a quote of what Jim Wallace said, they are a written summary or an outline of what he said.

The following afternoon, on 2GB's "Sydney Live" program with Ben Fordham, Jim Wallace says, when asked if he pleads guilty or not guilty, "Look, I plead not guilty to having said 'smoking is healthier than gay marriage' I mean that was a quote attributed to me in 'The Age' and I think that's the nub of the problem here..." I think Jim Wallace fails to see that the "nub of the problem" is terribly bigoted, irrelevant and misleading comparison he clearly made between the health risks of smoking (a choice people make themselves) with homosexuality (a choice people's PARENTS make through their genes - ie, this is not a choice people make themselves).

Now, to clarify Jim's comparison of smoking with homosexuality, he was interviewed on ABC News where he goes on to say "No, well what I'm saying is I'm comparing the packaging. I'm talking about the packaging and, ah, what I'm saying is that if packaging's important in how we actually present things to people then, ah, certainly the packaging of marriage and, ah, packaging particularly heterosexual lifestyle and homosexual lifestyle under it as one package, ah, is , I think, inappropriate ah in a number of areas and I spoke yesterday about a whole range of issues that come up here but one of those...".  And this is clarification?  In what way - I can't work it out.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard, in response to the original comments, stated "I believe yesterday's comments by Jim Wallace were offensive. To compare the health effects of smoking cigarettes with the many struggles gay and lesbian Australians endure in contemporary society is heartless and wrong. Although everyone is entitled to their own view, these statements reiterated again today on behalf of ACL are totally unacceptable. In light of this, I believe my attendance at the conference would be inappropriate."

Does Jim Wallace not realise that his bigotry is unwarranted and unwanted?  Does he not realise that the likely cause of much of the damaging behavior that the homosexual community engages with is likely caused by the hatred and bigotry they are forced to endure on a daily basis?  As a straight man, I cannot personally understand exactly how the gay community must feel when subjected to constant bigotry by people like Jim Wallace and the ACL, however I can at least empathise with them and stand with them to fight for their rights to equality.  In February, 2012, a Galaxy Poll (on behalf of Australians for Marriage Equality) found that 62% of Australians polled supported gay marriage and that 52% of coalition voters want same-sex marriage reform.

Remember, too, that this is the same Jim Wallace that tweeted, on ANZAC Day, 2011, "Just hope that as we remember servicemen and women today we remember the Australia they fought for – wasn't gay marriage and Islamic!"  So obviously, it isn't just "the gays" that Jim's opposed to - it is anyone who is different from him.

What we need is a secular government that is not influenced by the bigotry of a narrow-minded religious group.  I personally believe that anyone can choose what religious views they want to have, however they cannot expect to have their religious views imposed on the general population to restrict the freedoms and rights of others.  All people should be treated equally.

When Jim Wallace was asked why the ACL invited the Prime Minister to their conference, he replied with "Yeah, well, the Prime Minister was going to speak on the theme of the conference which was 'Religious Freedom'. Ah, I was quite interested to hear do that, she has always been a keen supporter of religious freedom and, ah, religious freedom is, ah, under threat around the world particularly for minorities around the world. Ah, it is an issue in Australia with the review of the Federal anti-discrimination laws at the moment and once again, the same people who have made this a problem today are trying to remove the exemptions and exceptions that churches and people of faith, ah, enjoy to, ah, for freedom of religion.  Because, remember that freedom of religion is a Human Right."

Hang on, so Jim Wallace who correctly states that the freedom of religion is a Human Right (Article 18 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), wants religious groups to be exempted from anti-discrimination laws when the same Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in Article 1, states "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights".  So he wants to have different rights - basically, the ability to ignore anti-discrimination laws - from non-religious groups.  And how is that treating everyone equally and fairly?  Article 2 states "Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status" - that doesn't seem to say, to me at least, that a religious group should be allowed to restrict or remove the rights of people not of their particular faith.

Now, I respect Jim Wallace's right to free speech and I completely believe he has a right to his opinion, no matter how bigoted that opinion may be, but I also believe that everyone has a right to be treated fairly and equally and I for one do not want to see the limitation of the rights of a sector of our community because of someone's personal religious beliefs.  I think that is morally wrong.


The Outspoken Wookie

Sunday, September 02, 2012

The Reality Of Words

It has been said that reality changes words far more than words can ever change reality(1) and I would agree with that statement.  For starters, any language in which the definitions of words (and the even actual words themselves) are not changing is a dead language.  One of my favorite examples of this definition change is with the word "awful" which was originally used to mean "awe inspiring" and has changed so much over time that now it is used to mean "terrible" - quite different from it's original intention!

There are a number of ways that words can be redefined - some of these ways can be quite passive as in the slow change of a word over time as technology advances (such as "computer" which originally meant "one who computes" and now is mostly used to mean specific categories of computing devices including laptops, desktops and tablets) and some can be a little more active such as where a group or community takes a word and re-defines its meaning for their own reasons.  One of these words currently being actively redefined is "persecution".

I've been hearing a lot of people lately claiming they are being persecuted for their views on various things, such as marriage equality and other forms of societal inequity.  "Persecution" according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is defined as "the act or practice of persecuting especially those who differ in origin, religion, or social outlook".  So, I've heard "persecution" being claimed by both sides of the marriage equality debate.  On that definition alone, these may be fair claims, so let's take this one step further.  "Persecute" is defined by Merriam-Webster as "to harass or punish in a manner designed to injure, grieve, or afflict; specifically: to cause to suffer because of belief".

Now, with the definition of "persecute" as given, it would be a little disingenuous for those fighting against marriage equality because of their personal religious beliefs to claim they are being persecuted by "the gays" when all the LGBT community is after, really, is marriage equality.  In my experience, the LGBT community is not asking for church ministers to be forced to marry couples they don't want to marry, nor are they asking for straight couples to become gay couples - they are simply asking for the same legal recognition that is given to a marriage of a man and a woman to also apply equally to a same-sex couple.

What could rightly be claimed as persecution is the treatment of same-sex couples as somewhat inferior to different-sex couples, as if the love that a same sex couple has for each other is in some way not quite up to the level of love that a different-sex couple feels for each other.  And as a straight man interested in treating all people fairly, I find this inequality offensive.  No, I don't feel persecuted personally, but I can empathize with those members of the LGBT community who definitely feel persecuted.

So even though some groups, mainly the fundamentalist religious groups, are trying to redefine "persecution" to mean "being made to (rightly) feel like bigots because we want to enforce our personal and restrictive views on other areas of the community that do not share our religious views" I don't think that as a moral and accepting society, we should allow the redefinition of this word.

I'm happy for religious ministers not to marry a same-sex couple if they don't want to, just like they don't currently have to marry people of alternative faiths.  I'm happy for people to hold the religious beliefs they choose.  I'm not happy for people to try and restrict, reduce nor remove the rights of others based on their own personal religious beliefs.

In 2012, are we not, as a society, mature enough to allow consenting adults to make their own choices and not try and force our personal, restrictive views on them when what they are doing does not actually affect us detrimentally in any way?

(1) Mark Forsythe, TEDx Houses of Parliament, June 2012


The Outspoken Wookie