Archive for June, 2007

By my own petard, hoist.

I hastened to the bank today to open an extra deposit account. I thought I’d pretty much anticipated the beaurocracy involved. I bought scads of identification. I had my ducks in a row, as it were. It wasn’t enough.

The bank officer wanted to do “relationship banking” with me. She wanted to talk to me about my aims and financial position. All I wanted to do was open an account. I knew which type, I knew the terms and conditions and I was ready to sign the form on the spot. But she wouldn’t let me.

“I’m sorry, everything’s on computer and I have to follow the procedure.”, she insisted.

So, we sat while she paged through screen after screen asking me questions – which I invariably answered with “I’m not interested in that”, or “I’m not giving you that information, it’s none of the banks’ business”. Which meant that she got rather sick of typing “not applicable” or “Not supplied”

Then we got to the section where she typed out the information on the account I wanted to open…. she selected the appropriate account from a list, then she opened up a paper brochure, and (with me watching gobsmacked), actually physically typed a whole paragraph of account description into a text field beside it. As if the bank didn’t know what their own product was about.

Then, she opened another program, with no link at all to the one that had just (not) captured information on me, and proceeded to enter all the account information again and actually opened the account.

It took a whole hour. I suspect if she’d just opened application no 2, I would have been out of there in 10 minutes.

Why did I title this post “my own petard”? Ironically, at IBM in the late 80’s and early 90’s I spent a lot of time working with National Bank developing just this kind of relationship banking cross-selling application. I hated myself at the time for doing it, and I’m not feeling any better about it now, I can tell you.


Wedge politics or sincere effort?

In the wake of the Northern Territories’ inquiry into child abuse in aboriginal communities, the Federal Government stepped in last week and announced a swag of measures – preempting anything the NT government might have suggested as a response to the report.

The measures are unprecedented – they take back ownership of aboriginal held lands, they ban alcohol and pornography there, they mandate medical examinations of children and withhold social security payments to families unless they show that a designated amount is spent on childrens’ schooling and food.

In effect they formalize a class of people with lesser rights than the rest of the Australian community who must be paternalised for their own protection.

I’m not against measures being taken against child abuse. I’m not familiar enough with the problem to judge if this level of response is necessary or practical.

What I do worry about is that the measure may well have been precipitiously taken just to drum up a crisis prior to the election in November. (and the indications are clear that it certainly was taken without any real thought of the implementation practicalities).  John Howard is a master of wedge politics and he thrives on self-created crises*.

And I worry because I see Howards vision of Australia becoming more and more Orwellian.

I wait with mounting apprehension for his announcement of the extension of reduction in rights to the wider community.

*Back in my IBM days, it was a well-known axiom that the way to get ahead in the company was to quietly and undetectably engineer a crisis in order to look like a hero when you saved the day.

Compound Interest on Deposits

Here in Oz, it doesn’t ever get really cold. Confined to the receding snowfields of our elderly, eroded peaks, ice seldom touches our lives. Unless, of course, we decide to pay ruinous prices for a ticket for a day of 30 second slides down rock and scrub-infested “ski-slopes” while avoiding suicidal snowboarders.

You can understand why our recent Canadian trip with snow, sleet, frozen lakes and all the other appurtenances of the Northern clime was a real treat for me.

I was particularly amused to encounter what, no doubt, is old news to most – the common Northern Poosicle, or Stalagshite.

I first encountered this phenomenon at a roadside stop between Banff and Jasper. Being remote, there was no plumbing, of course, so this was what we term in Oz, a “long drop dunny”. But the drop wasn’t long any more.

With the temperature below freezing, any “substance” deposited must have frozen fairly rapidly after just melting enough of what it had dropped onto to bond solidly. This resulted in a growing conical column of, errrr, well, let’s be frank, frozen poo. In this case the very pointy column was well over 7 ft tall, and had pretty much made it up to within inches of seat level. You actually had to aim off to one side of the top of it.

My loud exclamations of wonder were not appreciated by Ms Canada, who, refusing to enter the hut in case she glimpsed the offending item, was forced to cross her legs for another 100km.

Sneak preview

Car Free ?

One of our VicHPV members, Jon, is participating in the Wizwheels Car Free Challenge and is looking for “partial” participants to help him out with some experiences. Here’s the rules of the Challenge:

The rules of the Car-Free Challenge are fairly simple. You go without your car as much as humanly possible from May 15th to June 15th. Once the month is up, you write up your experiences in essay form and e-mail them to We’ll judge the essays and pick a winner on July 1st. That lucky winner gets a brand new 2007 Wizwheelz Cruiser.

and here’s what Jon would like you to do before June 15th:

  • Try to go car free for a day and write him about how it went for you.
  • Tell someone you know about the car free challenge and try it for a day.
  • You ask them if they are willing to have ago at a car free day (preferably with a bike in it, but doesn’t have to be)
  • They write something about it – as much or as little as they
    want. or they just say they did it and send him an e-mail.
  • After they send it to him, he will publish it on his blog ( He will only use first names) and the circle is complete.
  • On the 15th of June he will put the number of people who participated in the little experiment.

Here’s Jons Blog
and you can email him Here

I’d do it myself except of course, many of my days are car-free already!

Will we watch the Watchmen?

Update: You probably got here via a web search. This old blog entry is a bit dated. Feel free to have a look around the rest of the blog.

But… if you’re impatient, try the following links!