Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pigs by Name

A recent post defended a fancy pub, one with a fancy name. Subsequent events have caused Mine Host to abandon the defence of his industry comrade.

Despite the posh fancy name, there is nothing fancy about the treatment at the Pig & Whistle.

The long, long wait for table service on the occassion of Mine Host's earlier visit has turned out to be the norm, rather than a once-off. (Tip for those wanting lunch in Brisane, you'll spend most of your lunch hour just waiting for a waitress to approach your table, & even then it'll only be an afterthought to her)

This is bad enough. However on the most recent (& final) visit by Mine Host to the Pig & Whistle, as a parting barb he was asked for ID (after paying, though while still at the cash register.)

Still rankled by the slow service and waitress attitude that bordered on insolent, Mine Host was pushed over the edge by the manner of her request (for ID).

It seems words such as "please" aren't in her vocabulary, she didn't properly explain why ID must be sighted to leave the premises, and her tone of voice could not possibly have been described as hospitable.

In a textbook display of affected calmness Mine Host departed without any outward manifestation of just how insulted he was. No barbed parting comment to the waitress, no pause outside to give a vehement "forks" to the facade, nothing.

But the Pig & Whistle has made its last dollar from Mine Host. Plenty more pubs in Brisbane.

The sooner the Pig & Whistle is bulldozed out of the middle of Queen Street, & something else, perhaps a concrete slab, replaces it, the sooner Queen Street will be enhanced.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


The Fair Work Ombudsman investigates minor workplace complaints. Underpayment of wages, non-payment of allowances, employees being overworked, that sort of thing.

In reality they investigate almost nothing, they are too lazy.

Upon receipt of a complaint they write a letter to the targeted employer, urging that employer to "resolve" the complaint. (translation: to pay the amount of shakedown money demanded)

This letter is followed by a telephone call. The telephone call makes oblique references to "full investigations" that may uncover who knows what, whereas if the complaint is "resolved" first (ie, the shakedown money is paid), there won't be any need to investigate & see what the employer is really up to. The FWO inspector then advises that the best outcome would be for the employer to "resolve" (pay the shakedown money) the complaint immediately.

If this resolution does not happen there will be further telephone calls, all using every emotional/manipulative trick in the book to urge the employer to "resolve" (pay the shakedown money) the complaint.

When the deadline passes without the complaint being resolved (the employer neglects to pay the shakedown money), the FWO will have to switch from aiding & abetting a shakedown, and go do some actual work.

Only at this point will they even bother to have a look-see at the complaint to see if it has any merit. They will demand the employer provide them with copies of all paperwork, timesheets, notes, payslips etc. that could be remotely relevant.

They don't even check which award or industrial instrument applies, instead they demand the employer do that for them. They really are that lazy.

At this point the complaint will be found to have no merit (well, every complaint against me anyway). They will write a letter to both parties stating such.

Favourite part:
In the glossary accompanying the initial letter from the Ombudsman, the disgruntled (former) employee is termed "the complainant" and the employer (that would be me) is termed "the wrongdoer".

A more incendiary bit of terminology you'd do well to find a government department using on someone who doesn't have a blemish to their name.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Inexhaustible Discount Coupon

Lynn Edwards, one of the live-in staff at the Wayside Tavern, and thus part of the family that is the staff, is a backpacker, as some of the staff are from time to time.

She often discusses the trials & adventures of backpacking overseas. Mine Host is a receptive listener, having backpacked to something like 39 countries, and can relate to tales of how even the most budget of budget travel can have incredible financial pressure.

She & her girlfriend confided that in addition to many of the usual tricks of the budget traveller (eg, sponging a bed from people one barely knows, living on bread & cheese, hitching in trucks, etc etc) from time to time they "had to do" things that being girls they weren't really happy with.

On occassion some of this was elaborated upon, things like wearing tighter upper body clothing beside the highway to increase the chances of getting a lift, or working in a bikini for higher pay & higher tips. (Mine Host struggled a little with this latter one, as they'd both work in nothing but Victoria's Secret underwear, were he to allow them)

Then without realising it, one day she burst the balloon:
She was recounting how as an impecunious traveller, on the opposite side of the world (blah blah blah) she'd had to do things she wasn't proud of, just to ensure a clean bed & nourishment etc etc. During this conversation she revealed that the tattooist in town would do tattooing for free on girls, provided they were completely naked during the entire application of said tattoo.

It transpired she'd been "forced" by economics into this arrangement, Three times.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Out of His Depth

An official in the Fire Brigade, from his high rise office down in the Big Smoke, arbitrarily decrees that ("for safety reasons" of course) all fire alarm units in licenced premises must be "upgraded" to a certain type within 6 months.

The only manufacturer of this "certain type" of fire alarm is in Perth, and when contacted reveals that it will take them at least 3 years at full production capacity to manufacture enough to meet this sudden need.

The Fire Brigade official, at the 6 month deadline, suspects that not all licenced premises have complied. He obtusely commences site inspections, and fines venues for non-compliance.

He is stunned when his fines are challenged in court, stunned at the reason for the challenge (inability to procure commerical supply) and even then, does not comprehend why the challenges are upheld. That is, that that judges actually ruled against him, when it was a regulation that licenced venues comply).

How did he ever get above the level of "boy who washes the fire engine"?

Saturday, October 08, 2011


Hands up if you've ever been interviewed by a journalist.
Hands up if you've ever been subsequently misrepresented by that journalist?
(Golly, everybody kept their hands up!)
Hands up if you've ever had a journalist misrepresent their motives to you? Who hoodwinked, or lied to you, not chasing news to report, but instead something they could twist to fit their preconcieved notions?
(Funny, most people still have their hands up!)

Click through to the picture to read this one:

The ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) has been the most respected & revered broadcasting voice across the land. When I was a kid the ABC radio was the only transmission you could get. Messages were broadcast over it, for many communities. (No longer a requirement in this day & age when every householder has a telephone.)

When the bulk of Australia received a TV reception for the first time, in the late 1980's, ABC TV was the last to get into action. We had the commercial stations long before we had an ABC TV reception. (Perhaps that was a sign of the decline.)

In the bush respect for the ABC is now sub-zero. Respect has been replaced by contempt. For this the ABC can blame only itself. There is a special hell where these reporters are destined for, where unending fires burn one alive in perpetuity. Deservedly so.

This outfit (ABC) should no longer be funded by taxpayer money. From a broadcaster that passed messages to listening remote communities (eg: search & rescue operations, urgent meetings when the government was about to foreclose on more than half the stations in the district, etc.) it is now an outfit that is not only working against the interests of the taxpayers who fund it, and the people who have depended upon it, but is also working against the national interest.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Price Gouging

The Reserve Bank of Australia has been conducting an inquiry into electronic payment fees charged by merchants. That is: the fee added on when you pay by credit card "That will be an extra 3% sir, for payment by credit card".

This fee is a stiff one. It was costing me roughly $1,000 per week, there is little choice but to pass it on. Like all such charges & price rises, it is quite some time before most people actually pass it on (contrary to popular/journalist belief about "greedy businesses").

The fees charged to the merchant can vary greatly. A big merchant, with huge receipts by card, may be paying about 0.5% of every transaction. A small merchant, say a tiny coffee shop which doesn't take much card, may be (effectively) paying as high as 7%, or even more if you pay by American Express. This is why many small business will not accept American Express, they cannot afford to.

It is also why the fee charged by the shop can be quite high if you pay by American Express.

If the Reserve Bank carries out its promise, and next month makes it illegal for merchants to charge a fee (or caps the fee) expect to see many businesses henceforth refuse to accept credit card payments.

Here is a totally fictional scenario, about a hotel. This hotel is fictional, and is in no way meant to depict my place:
Currently a room is (say) $100 per night. Pay by credit card = $100 + 3% fee = $103 per night.
Then the RBA ups & declares the 3% fee to be illegal?
In this (totally fictional) scenario, the room rate is then changed for 2012 to $103 per night. Pay by cash or other cost free method, as many do (eg. account, direct deposit, etc), and this fictional hotelier will be kind & allow you a "once off" $3 per night informal discount.

The enquiry has recieved submissions from many interested parties. Including the credit card companies.

Visa & Mastercard had much to say in their submissions about merchants "gouging" customers, by as much as 1% in some cases.

Golly gee whillikers! Look who is talking! How is their form? Anybody ever noticed what the "extra fee" for late payment is on their Visa or Mastercard? Anybody ever noticed the interest rate on their Visa or Mastercard?

Thursday, October 06, 2011

We Collect, You Pay.

Proposed by the government is a Super-Tax on large mining companies.
This tax will (cough) "pay for" the retirement savings of the working population.


The govt will pull a swifty by passing a law forcing employers to pay an extra 3% byond each employee's wages into a retirement superannuation fund. (Currently 9%, will increase to 12%.)
Employers who happen to be a company will have a reduction in income tax of 1%.

Govt receives big tax $$ from mining co's.
Employers pay an extra 3% of payroll.

Why is no journalist asking the obvious question of the government?

Yes, there will be a reduction in company tax of 1%.

Employers who are not companies (there are many) get nothing, but have to pay 3% extra of payroll.

Government ministers (& apologists) are lying through their teeth when they say that a big tax on profitable mining companies will fund superannuation increases. Or else they are too stupid to understand how it will work.

Employers who are companies get a tax cut of 1% of taxable profit, but pay an extra 3% of payroll.
For a significant number of employers (if not most) payroll is up to 5 times greater than taxable profit.
We'll choose an example of (say) a pub. This pub is owned by a company and makes a taxable profit of (say) $100,000. Thus the tax cut will "give" this pub $1,000.
The payroll for this pub is $400,000. Thus the extra superannuation payment is $12,000

Costs go up by $12,000
"Paid for" by $1,000 less income tax.

Government (& apologists) are either lying or stupid if they claim this big-feller mining tax will pay for superannation.

Lying or stupid. There is no third option.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

His Party, He'll have it where he wants to

Fred Nerk was a constant pain for staff. Retired, he'd spend as much time in the pub as his pension allowed. He seemed to have no interests, not horse racing, football, discussion of the day's front page, not anything.

Except drinking. If ever staff attempted to brighten his day by speaking with him, he'd repay them by pressuring them to give him free beer.

He was a snivelling no-account, and had been one all his life.

It was hard work to serve him a beer. Very quickly we grasped that unless payment was visible on the bar beforehand, it was going to be painful getting the money.

He'd try to slip it in with a nearby shout, or suggest that his drink had been paid for by someone "the night before" & now he was here to claim it. He'd claim that his mate/son/whoever was on their way down to drink with him, they had his money & they'd pay "when they arrived". etc etc etc.

Ever cunning trick in the book he tried, every day. It was tedious. He even claimed illness. He'd been diagnosed as terminal, & "surely that's worth free beer?"

Turned out his diagnosis was a fact. Possibly the only truth he'd ever told. He'd disappear for several days/weeks at a time, for chemotherapry, or radiotherapy, or something.

One of his sons came in one day, & asked could they hold "dad's wake" in the front bar. We hadn't even heard that he'd passed on.

It is called a "public" bar for a reason. There is no need to ask. People hold wakes in pubs all the time.

On the appointed day the next week in shuffled all his sons, some friends, people who'd known him, several hangers-on, & anybody else who felt like a drink.

Something didn't seem right. Yep. Right there in the middle of the group was Fred Nerk himself. Still alive.

It transpired that he'd decided to hold his wake the week before he died, so he could enjoy it too. Indisputably he was very crook, as during the wake he didn't ask us once for free beer. Then again, plenty of others were shouting.

Somewhere between 7-14 days later he'd passed on.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Noisy Rabble

Oh boy, was last night's Q&A ever a waste of broadcasting spectrum!

The panel:
(1) Some Slovenian professor of something or other. Difficult to understand him. He dressed & presented like a slob, or to be kinder, like an absent minded professor. And he acted it too.

(2) A nice lady (Kate Adie) who'd been a BBC journalist forever. She looked like she would have been interesting & could have been drawn out well. But the subject matter all night was inane, & she was in with a rabble. Waste of a potentially very good panellist. She looked & carried herself rather like Helen Mirren.

(3) Some youngish bloke who could have been sent from central casting to play a university commo type. May have been interesting, but he didn't come out that way. Or perhaps I was doing something more interesting whenever he spoke, like going to boil the kettle.

(4) Some nubile sheila (Mona Eltahawy) who looked for all the world like Nana Mouskouri with curly hair. Don't know who or what she was meant to be, but she was stark raving mad! Bonkers! Hyperbole this is not, as the woman is off her trolley. Bordering on certifiable. Her only hope of redemption is to reveal that during the show she was high on some illicit substance.
In a textbook example of wasted potential, and mindful that women over 30 have the face they deserve, she would have been a "hot ethnic babe" in her 20's, but her nuttiness goes back a long way, & she is well on the way to being downright unappealing, despite having the raw potential for "hotness-in-her-40's" that many women would kill to have.
Alas, the woman is irredemably nuts. No mention on her wikipedia page of her marital status (a key piece of information for eligible bachelors - such as Mine Host) though this is one case where Mine Host would probably pass up even dinner, conversation & a good bottle of red.

(5) Greg Sheridan. The only panellist I've heard of. A newspaper columnist. I've seen lots of disparaging references to him online in discussion groups (translation: He sometimes writes stuff that skewers the hard political left) I can't recall if he is a supposed to be a lefty or righty. Given the performance of the others on the panel (drug-addled, descending to merely confused) I'd have said he was the panel's "token conservative", except the show does on occassion completely neglect to have a conservative on the panel. (Yeah, the ABC really is that hopeless)
Another wasted panellist. Remove the noisy rabble, & introduce some interesting topics/questions & he'd have made some interesting contributions.

Monday, October 03, 2011

There's One in every crowd

To the great consternation of army officers, when seeking a post-service career, it is always their N.C.O's who are sought out by civilian recruitment firms.

For it is the N.C.O's who know how to run things. Officers spend their career passing on other people's orders, making a few inconsequent minor decisions, & are also there to be the "fall guy" if a sane decision by their Sgt is thwarted by the enemy.

This is why so many former officers end up on the government teat, in a meaningless job somewhere in the public service (eg riding as a passenger on long haul bus trips, recording in a notebook the driver's breaks) whilst their Sgt has a real job, as head of an engineering department working on the Boston Harbour Project, or something like that.

There are of course smarter & more capable former officers, who enter a profession that has some meaning, and where the pay is more than they drew for wearing jungle green. But boy-oh-boy, do plenty of 'em end up selling vacum cleaners or somesuch.

Then occassionally one turns up who slipped through the system. We are blessed with one particular Duntroon graduate in our federal parliament. One could be forgiven for thinking this person is a serial malcontent, as he has at various times been a member of almost every political party, from one end of the political spectrum to the other.

Notable recently for threatening to throw the toys out of the cot if he doesn't get his way on a whole shopping basket of 10th-tier policies, he has also managed to cry his eyes out in parliament. (Must have been one real macho he-man platoon commander).

One's military experience can be ruined by being stuck with an officer who is bad news. Wonder what it was like to be in the battalion commanded by this deep-voiced confidence-inspiring macho-man? (That was a joke, he's a whiny voiced sniveller) It must be stressed here that fragging is a very bad thing to do, and this blog does not, repeat does not, mean to imply, in any way, that the bullets that killed this particular C.O. should have had anything other than "made in Japan" written on them. (Or whatever the modern equivalent is, "halal approved by Mullah Omar" or somesuch.)

How did former officer... ever get through the selection process for Duntroon?

Sunday, October 02, 2011

How did they know he was a Fake?

How did "the press" know he was a fake?

From the link:
A fake Batman has marched into Christchurch central police station demanding to know what emergency had triggered the "bat signal" - white light beaming through the sky.
The caped crusader, dressed in full superhero garb of mask, cape and tights, was insisting that the White Lights of Hope, which commemorate the earthquake anniversary, bear an uncanny resemblance to the bat signal.

Read on at the link to see how New Zealand police handled the matter.
(clue: New Zealand is a rather commonsense country, free from most of the red tape, the "blame somebody else" attitude, the nanny-ish guardrails around everything, & other restrictive rules that have come to blight society in most "developed" western nations)

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Bankruptcy IV

From the 2nd of September:

"If one is to be bankrupted, it is always imagined there will be a tangible reason, & a person to blame.

E.g You have made a rash decision, & can blame only yourself. Or you have a lowdown mongrel of a bank manager, & thus have someone you can seethe over & plan to shoot, or something.

Either way, you could expect to have lots of warning, i.e. to be trading poorly for a while beforehand, or be having difficulties meeting bank commitments etc.

It never entered my head that it could pop out of nowhere, that you could be trading profitably, looking to expand, everything going fine. The *pop* along comes an event that you never imagined would happen to anybody. There is no person to blame, no rash decision been made."
The spectre of bankruptcy is no longer looming, I can sleep again. And I made this offer:

"Anybody who can guess what it is that has caused such trouble will be allowed open slather in my wine cellar."

Nobody came close. Some great stories, but nobody guessed anywhere near to it.

The bank was very good about it. Much much better than expected.

The problem? I couldn't get insurance. No Australian underwriter would offer me insurance. The reason: I am located north of 23 degrees latitude, & insurance companies will not offer commercial property insurance to anybody north of 23 degrees.

I had expected there would be a last minute quote, but instead for several weeks I was totally & completely uninsured. (Public liability insurance was no problem, otherwise I'd have been in even worse trouble.)

My preferred insurance brokers, a huge worldwide firm, was finally able to find insurance for me on the international market. This was no joke, putting a country pub into a market that is designed for the insuring of entire fleets of oil tankers or something.

The insurance was finally cobbled together via 8 different underwriters. Quite an effort.

The cost as 1/5th of profitability.... When I entered the pub trade property insurance was about 1/70th of profitability. Increase in risk is negligible. Increase in real terms, in cost of replacement has been negligible.

Very few people believed me. The insurance industry became heated when I sooled the politicians onto them. My industry association was ambivalent, but after phoning a few insurance companies themself, oh boy did they ever believe me. The Liberal & National party responses varied between laughing ("You're in a pickle mate!" - from one very well known LNP politician, who actually laughed as if it was the funniest thing heard all week. This was not helpful)

My local member at least pretended to give a toss. Every ALP politician I contacted was extremely helpful, & escalated the predicament (it'll affect the bulk of businesses north of 23) at either state or federal level.

My ALP federal politician, within 30 minutes of being phoned by me, traipsed straight accross Canberra to thump the desk on my behalf with certain powers. For their trouble they received this response: "Your consitituent is making this up."

That was action within 30 minutes. The first LNP politician to call me back took half a week to do so. All they had to say was how lucky it was I had phoned them, as the ALP "won't even bother to help you mate."

Why is lack of insurance critical? It is a condition of bank finance. Without insurance the bank has cause to instantly withdraw their finance, force a sale. In such circumstances the sale would be for a fraction of what would be termed a "fire sale price", being as the incoming buyer would be buying something they cannot insure.

This is a possible explanation for the (to me) strange behaviour of the past few months from a couple of other pubs in town.