16 October 2012

Newcastle Police employ new tactics in war on crime

In somewhat heroic efforts to further personal clerical duties, police in Newcastle have hit upon a method of identifying potential Serial Killers in the local area.

Sgt, Const Gerb Hulffn of the Newcastle Domestic Duties Squad today told the Newcastle Herald through an interpreter, that they will be going door to door throughout the city to identify the quiet loners in the area. "We now know that serial killers are not the single mothers, young folk and homeless vagrants we normally associate with this sort of crime." He said. "They are a cunning enemy and try not to draw attention to themselves."

Sgt, Const Gerb Hulffn (Far left) and his team of front line
clerical duties officers preparing to door knock for Serial
Killers in Newcastle.
Encouraged to go further by his sniggering associates he went on to say, "We encourage anyone who might have a neighbour who is polite, well mannered, keeps to themselves and plays any sort of board game, to come forward and point them out to us.  We need to arrest these perverts before they begin molesting and killing pretty, nubile, young women for their soft, tanned skin to wear and knitting their pubic hair into interesting handy crafts to sell at local markets."

Sgt Hulffn then held up a so called `Dream Catcher' popular with the young folk, as an example of the sort of objects they were looking for. On passing it around to other members of his elite squad to examine and gently smell, he praised the Newcastle Herald for their clearly worded Saturday Form Guide. "I find the yellow paper used in the fold out section particularly soothing to my eyes." He said.

13 October 2012

I wonder what the new iMac will look like?

I'm due for an upgrade on my darling lil 5 yr old iMac soon and got to thinking,` hey it's been a while since there's been a major modification to the design of what I think is the greatest desktop computer ever made so far. I wonder what Apple might have in store for us?'

I can't imagine there would be too much of a change from the current design. As far as what I can see, it's perfect. For current technology that is. Lets not get ahead of ourselves speculation wise. But, it's a stand, perfectly balanced with a screen on the top. Ta Daaaa, well done Jonny Ive.

So the new one?
Apple's Chief product designer Jon Ives ponders whether the
latest iMac, due soon, will have a tear drop shape.

Well I reckon it will be Retina. That seems like a given to me. Probably the same size as the current larger one, 27 inch and 16 x 9 aspect ratio. But I speculate that Apple will take the DVD, CD burner out. That tech is redundant and I was surprised that they left it in on the latest upgrade. But what I reckon they'll do is take out completely the old spinning hard drive and replace it totally with Solid State. This would make the iMac as thin as all buggery as they say in tech circles. But where then would they put the power plugs, USB, Thunderbolt, ethernet etc? Hmmm. Will this mean they will have to change the design again? Is this part of the reason it's been a while between iMac upgrades?

What do you folk reckon?

24 April 2012

A thought bubble bursts over columnists...

A Thought bubble -

Reading the Sydney Morning Herald website this morning, I scanned down through the headlines and came to editorial section where languish the persuasions of public intellectuals and paid-up opinionators.
And woop-de-fucken too - here's another article by Gerard Henderson. He's one of those right wing public intellectuals you want to strangle in front of their mother because you and her would both find it funny. He's not as bad as some as he sometimes seems to be swayed by common sense but more often than not, he's staying on course of the conservative narrative. And he's boring! He pops up occasionally on the ABC program `The Insiders' and he reminds me of the old cartoon `Deputy Dawg' with his hang dog, expressionless, humourless face and Truman Capote voice. The thing is. I rarely read what he says anymore because it's just the same old same old. There's nothing new or challenging in what he has to say, it's just the same old tired conservative drivel again. I just can't be bothered reading it anymore. There are others at the Herald I just don't bother reading either - Paul Sheehan, well, I'm still having trouble working out whether he's sane or not. He tends to be rampantly conservative, but of the Newt Gingrich Moonbat variety. In News Corps stables there's Piers Ackerman and Andrew Bolt. I'm sure they must get an email each day from Tony Abbott's office on what position they must maintain on the current news items.

But then there are the same extremist's on the left. Mike Carlton and Phillip Adams are two I have no time for. I read and listened to both for a while, well as much as I could. I challenge anyone to not want to stab Phillip Adams in the face and garrotte him with his microphone cable after a couple of listens. Thats of course is if you can stay awake, his voice is like a dull white noise designed to bring people down from amphetamine highs. And he's done fucking everything and knows everyone. It's to the point now where, and I don't know how he couldn't be aware of this, he's become a foolish parody of himself. The only thing I'm surprised about is that he hasn't claimed to be there advising Governor Arthur Phillip on how to handle interracial challenges while setting up the colony two hundred years ago.  Honestly this bloke drops name and inserts himself into every significant Australian event ad nausea. And he's boring! He and tedious companion in smugness Mike Carlton.

I try to look out for columnists to read who's opinions are not dictated by ideologies. I can accept left or right leaning, but it's the ones who take issues at face value, who point out the hyprocracies of either the left or right about a situation that I find hard to locate. I can't think of any off of the top of my head though. So I'll have to get back to you on that one.

Stone the bloody crows.

10 March 2012

Please watch this video, (it's very good) then go to www.kony2012.com and help the world catch this bastard. (Then we go after that prick Assad in Syria).

21 January 2012

A `too much coffee' Saturday rant about manufacturing.

It's a warm, sunny Saturday morning here in Newcastle. I'm in at my favorite Cafe, ' The Last Drop', patiently awaiting breakfast and downing a couple of strong long blacks. As I sit at my table with a fine view of my dearest as she commands her small army of gorgeous servers and admire the tanned, lithe beauties who parade past to and fro from Newcastle Beach. I think about China in relation to the state of manufacturing in Australia and the geopolitical shift that has been underway for the past two decades. Well - I do!!

Everyone's aware of the whole China thing, no new news there though I did enjoy that aliteration. The poor buggers building our iPhones, computers, Telly's etc are getting paid up to 31c an hour (with 36 hr individual shifts) to build them, did you know that? And that's at Foxconn, the 'prestige' factory. What are the smaller business' paying? It's no surprise that the west can't compete with that. How can they? It's slave labour. 

My answer? Don't.

We in the west are collectively wringing our hands about loosing our manufacturing jobs offshore to countries who use their population as slave labour. So we need to stop whining about it and get clever.

Reading a Wired Magazine article last year got me thinking. It was about how a small but growing number of companies in the US were shifting their manufacturing away from China. Sure it cost them peanuts to get their products manufactured, but they were more frequently than not paying hand over fist for poor workmanship, silly mistakes and corner cutting from Chinese factories. With some rethinking of different elements within the manufacture of their products and some negotiation on wages with American factories, they were able to sell their products at roughly the same price and for the same profit margin as they had with the Chinese factories but with increased quality and assurance of delivery. 

Later in the year, friends of mine went to the west coast of the US for a holiday and bought me back a sensational bottle of Cayenne Pepper sauce. I guzzled it down and went online to try and find some more. In my search I found that the sauce was manufactured by a small company in Kansas called `Original Juan' that bottled, manufactured, marketed and distributes food products, retail and online, by whoever has a great food product they felt needed to be shared with the rest of the world. These were folk who built their own trade marked, small and flexible assembly line for brewing & bottling food products.  It's Micro-manufacturing or as they call it Micro-Batch and I reckon systems like and similar to this are the way to go in Australia. We've been conditioned to think we can't compete with China and India, Indonesia etc, because of the costs involved with making a widget. But what price the widget if it’s of poor quality or fails to work to expectation? 

Australian garlic is another example. For some time, Australian farmers had given up. How could they compete against cheap Chinese imports? But they have. Using the Internet and some lateral thinking and hard work, they have managed to crawl back market share for Australian Garlic. 

Are you following my train of thought?

With some lateral thinking, wage negotiation and courage there's no reason we can't get manufacturing happening again in this country. We can use the gifts that living in the west affords us such as the freedom to create, innovate, question and negotiate that you just can't do in China. Quality and innovation from western countries will easily surpass the countries where creativity and independent thought is discouraged and corruption is part of every day life. We don't have corruption anywhere near the scale they do in the rising asian countries. Just bad laws that can be changed if enough people get on board.  

Good service is something successful companies realise is unquantifiable monetarily, (that I know of,) but is part way the reason to many successful companies. The time will soon come when the mining boom will cease, what are we going to do then? It's a way for Australia to level out the two speed economy and keep our population at work when the mining boom ends.

For some people the point of owning and running a business is not to make billions of dollars. It's to earn enough to maintain a modest standard of living leaving enough to retire on. Small manufacturing and related industries can supply this. There's always a chance for some to strike it rich but for the most part, people just want to earn an honest living. This is what living in a liberal western democracy can achieve as opposed to living in a Communist dictatorship. (is it obvious I'm not fond of communism?) We enjoy the freedom to be creative and bold - we just don't use it.

UPDATE: Through the week I wrote to the lovely folk at Original Juan telling them about this article and asking permission to use their company as an example and if they had any comment. Here's their reply;

"Hi Ross, thanks for contacting us.  I thought the blog was very well written, thanks for including us.  I have a few points to include, you can word then however you want.

1) The food system in American is becoming more and more concentrated.  Four to five major corporations control a great deal of the food system.  Companies like ours meet a lot of opposition in stores because our prices are slightly more expensive and we don't pay slotting fees.  We have to operate at a smaller profit margin than larger companies to get on the shelves.  The benefit to consumers is we help keep prices competitive in stores.  There are a lot of barriers to get into major chains when you are our size.  We have been successful through a lot of determination and a little bit of luck.

2) Companies like ours depend upon the loyalty of our customers.  We are thoughtful in the quality and contents of our products.  We are never going to be the cheapest, but we are proud of the quality of products we manufacture.  Our customers have a connection with us, they visit our facility, they participate in our social media.  Simply put, we know and care about them. 

Sorry about the rambling, hopefully there is some useful info to you.  Let me know if you need anything else.
Lindsay Howerton
Vice President of Marketing"

Thanks so much to Lindsay for taking the time to reply.
I'm going to be ordering more of their sauce and I highly recommend it to you. It's mighty tasty!!
(I had the `Pain is good! Cayenne Hot sauce' It was hot but marked mild, so I'm keen to see what the medium and hot ones are like)

19 December 2011

My Exhibition, ENHANCED - words and pictures.

My first solo exhibition is up at the Last Drop Espresso Bar in Newcastle. If you're in town, I hope you'll drop in to have a look and try some of the best coffee in town and the yummiest all day breakies and lunches.  You can't miss it, there's lots of fairy lights.
The images are all still for sale!

So if you see a piece you just have to have or you'll just explode, or maybe just because you like it moderately even, drop me a line and lets see what we can arrange to bring you and my artwork closer together.

Later on, I'll let you know, I'm going to be putting these pictures up onto my Redbubble site where you will be able to buy the work in many variations. ie; framed photo prints, cards, posters etc and they're all exceptional quality.

To explain a bit of where I'm coming from and also to show some of my work, here are some excerpts from my catalog.

Digital Photography

This exhibition will be the first in a series of exhibitions of images of houses from down the length of Beryl Street in Broken Hill, an infamous old mining town in Western NSW and some 'Cartoony Art'.  Really, this is a series of photos of old houses with some intense colour manipulation.  Yet it could be argued that they represent so much more. The Cartoony Art does as well but from a different though complimentary angle.

We're always living through interesting times, to reference the old Chinese curse, but (apologies for mashing cliches), some are more equal than others.  There is some discussion at the moment about the decadence of our society and the decline of Western Civilization and gradual shifting of power; political and cultural, to the East. (As if the warming of the planet wasn't discomfort enough). How do enhanced images of old miners homes in a 19th Century mining town relate to the decline of our comfy civilization as we know it? And isn't that a big call for such a little exhibition? (I mean, who the hell are you Carroll?)

Broken Hill really is a very interesting place and the old miners huts, up to and over a hundred years old as they stand today, have been added to and enhanced by numerous occupants over the towns checkered history reflecting their cultural and ethnic heritage and in a lot of cases, personal artistic expression.  They are all examples of personal expression in a town where the very reason for it's existence is based upon hard physical labor and dreams of huge wealth but exist in a reality of drudgery, violence, sex and a lot of alcohol. (Probably a bit of love thrown in there too but lets not get pedantic.)

They are conscious and unconscious expressions of inner desires and introspection. I've amplified these expressions by saturating the existing colour in the images in an illustrative way as a comment on our own cultural narcissism. Narcissus was in love with his own image and disengaged from reality to engage with the illusion of self. An indication of a cultures decline is it’s propensity to indulge in this onanistic practice to the exclusion of everything else.  Why are we not considering what we can learn from the East and elsewhere to halt a decline into cultural, economic and political irrelevance, where the advantages of living in a liberal democracy become distant prosaic memories? Or they might just be some nice pictures of houses.

Digital Illustration, Cartoony Art

 I call my illustrations Cartoony Art because I love the art work of animated movies, specifically those from Disney, Warner Brothers shorts and Pixar. I love the styling, colour and textures. It’s hard not to look at the artwork of Disneys `Sleeping Beauty’, art directed and in most cases rendered by illustrator, Eyvind Earle and not feel excited at the artistic potential of animation. Beyond the movies or on my television, I wanted to see work like it on my wall, and I wanted it to tell a story as well, for context and entertainment. These images, and there are many to come in different stages of completion, are in my mind, all from movies that have never been made, about characters who still have a story to tell.

There’s the insidious niceness of Dinky Bo Bo. From first viewing, he appears a lovable, childlike, sausage shaped character who is inexplicably found serving tea in the African Jungle by a lost French, Boy Scout Legionnaire. On eventually emerging from Africa’s dark heart many years later, desperate to get home to France and his beloved family estate and Tyre factory, he tries to sell Dinky in the back room of a seedy, smoke filled Moroccan Taverna. The buyer, a Sydney Greenstreet kind of character, plies him with a home cooked meal and a mug of an hallucinogenic cactus and mango juice to trick him into selling Dinky at a low price or better still, for nothing.  But pity those who ever come in contact with Dinky Bo Bo. He is a character of true evil.

Domestic Spuff is a riff on all of those old TV shows from the early years of Television like Mr Ed, Bewitched, I dream of Genie and My favorite Martian. Spuff is a visitor from another world who’s somehow got himself into a very intense relationship with a career minded single woman. We can only speculate as to the nature of their relationship but it seems as if this day is the day where it all hit the fan. The pressure of being constantly spied upon by nosy, `Kravitz’ style neighbors and the machinations of the seemingly urbane and sophisticated pet dog `Mr Tickle’ have conspired to bring Spuff and his beautiful lady to the very knife edge of their relationship and into the back seat of a waiting Taxi. And you thought you had troubles!!

 Candlelight Willy is an image of  Willy Wobble and Pepe, the mistakenly canned Tuna. Together they stumble blindly around the Austrian Alps keeping invaders away from their precious land. They own the best views in the world and sharing it with others is simply unheard of, especially when you’re blind.

...And here are some snap shots from the opening night.

20 November 2011

My first Exhibition

Yep! I'm finally having an Exhibition.

Hope you can make it along to the opening on Friday 7pm, December 9 at the Last Drop for drinks and nibbles and a chance to snap up some top quality artwork as a Christmas gift to yourself or someone special.