Nightclubs! The place to be.

April 28, 2005

Not doing anything this Saturday night? Have a special someone and don’t know where to take them? Want to try something that’s both different and fun? Then you’re local nightclub is the place to go!

Forget that you don’t smoke, don’t drink, and dance like Virgil from the Thunderbirds. Just join the queue and take part in the late-night craze that’s sweeping the country.

Dress totally inappropriately and freeze in sub-zero temperatures while you wait to get in. have a size-20 bouncer stuffed into a size-10 shirt judge your dress sense. Be abused by complete strangers while you search for ID. Hold out your wrist as instructed and get your sleeve stamped.

Inside it’s just as fun. Become totally deafened by the music. Try your hand at passive chain smoking. Fall down the steps as you wander around in total darkness. Wait for your eyes to adjust then be totally blinded by a spotlight shining into them.

For those of you who like to sit back and relax, we have plenty to keep you entertained. Marvel at how 200 people manage to fit on a dance floor designed for 20. See the girls who inspired all those blonde jokes. Cheer on the the two drunken yobbos who can’t even stand as they try to punch each other out.

We haven’t forgotten you drinkers either. Push your way though the crowd to get to the bar. Be totally ignored by the bar staff. Pay outrageous prices for a drink that is 90% ice. Then try getting back out without have it spilt all over you.

Yes, you can enjoy all this and more when you visit your local nightclub. Have a nice day.


VSU WARS Episode II: Revenge of the Hippies

April 27, 2005

I’m sorry, couldn’t help it. Only 19 sleeps left until Episode III! ๐Ÿ˜€ But anyway, in my previous post, I outlined why VSU will not destroy student unions as some doom-sayers would like you to believe. There are of course, several reasons why students may not wish to join a student union in the first place. 1.Freedom of choice. Article 20b of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights states that ‘No one may be compelled to belong to an association’. Students should have the right to choose whether they wish to join, or not to join, their student unions. Just like the right to choose whether or not they wish to join a trade union, a political party, or a sporting club. Those who support compulsory student unionism will say that where there are collective benefits are to be gained from conformity, freedom of choice should be limited. Taxation is an example of this. Granted, but there are plenty of things you ‘should’ do which collectively benefits society. You may wish to donate to charity, clean up litter, or recycle, but you are not forced to do any of these things because have the right to choose. Society will not function without Government taxes. Universities will continue to educate students and conduct research without compulsory student union fees. 2.Student Unions are unrepresentative of students During the October Federal Election last year, the National Union of Students spent $250,000 of student’s money on anti-Coalition campaigns. A motion was even put forward at a UQ Union Council meeting last year to ban Liberals from the Union. How does this represent uni students half of them voted for the Coalition last year? Student Unions also run campaigns and organises protests on issues such as Troops out of Iraq, Free the refugees, or the Evils of capitalism. While sure, these may be perfectly legitimate causes for some, but they do not affect students in any way. People can protest all they want, that’s their right. But it’s not their right to force other people to pay for it. 3.Student Unions are wasteful Going on from the previous point, the amount of time and money student unions spend on trivial, ideologically-driven matters is ridiculous. Last year the UQ Union spent $300,000 on the Queer and Women’s Collectives, who between them have around 60 members. This was $50,000 more than they spent on all clubs and societies, to which there are around 15,000 members. Other highlights include $40,000 for a Queer conference at QUT (attended by 15 UQ students); paying a research to expore the Feminist Reclamation of the word โ€˜cuntโ€™; sending busloads of protesters to Lake Cowal (somewhere in northern NSW apparently) etc; not to mention $300,000 just for NUS affiliation. All of which have nothing to do with the well-being of the ordinary student, who is more interested in the price of a sausage roll at the union-run refectory, or the maths assignment which is due next week. Aside from personal liberties, VSU’s greatest benefit for students is that it brings a level of accountability into Student Unions which was not possible under compulsory unionism. Without the guaranteed stream of money, Student Unions will now have to actually work for the interests of students above anything else in order to stay afloat. Have a nice day.


The case for a voluntary student union

April 22, 2005

In case anyone hasn’t noticed, walk around UQ St Lucia, or any Australian university campus these days, and you’ll invariably run into a myriad of anti-Voluntary Student Unionism (VSU) posters and stickers. If you’re lucky, you may even encounter an anti-vsu campaigner, usually an 8th year arts student who doesn’t believe in wearing shoes. Or taking showers for that matter.

What is VSU? Basically, all university students upon enrollment become members of their respective student union and pay a student services charge, ranging from $200 to $500 a year at some campuses. Most of this money goes to the student union and sporting clubs. Student unions in turn use this money to provide services such as campus refectories, clubs and societies, counseling, legal services, advocacy, etc.

The objectivity of this rant stops here.

What VSU means is that students will now have the choice whether or not they wish to join the student union, hence whether or not they pay.

The main arguments against VSU include (a lot of this is UQ specific, as I don’t really know the workings of other student unions around the country):

1.Student unions provide essential services to students. These services will no longer exist under VSU.

VSU isn’t about destroying unions. Unions will still exist, only membership will not be compulsory. If student unions provide services which are indeed ‘essential’, then they have nothing to be afraid of. Students will be more than willing to join voluntarily. Conversely, if students don’t see union services as essential, then they won’t join. If most students do not join, then doesn’t that mean that the union is failing most students?

A counterargument to this is that student fees are like taxes. Not everyone may use all the services, but society is better off for it.

Firstly, a student union is not a fourth tier of Government, regardless of what some within it would like you to believe. Governments represent the entire population, and are elected when all citizens vote. Student union elections are lucky if they can attract a 10% turnout, with many office bearers elected through the ‘mate’s vote’ system. Governments provide schools, hospitals, police, defense, and a common rule of law, all of which are essential for society to properly function. A student goes to uni to be educated, which can be done with or without a union. A Government will not shut down it’s services as a protest, unlike what student unions around the country are planning to do next Thursday.

Finally, even if you can equate student services charges with taxation, taxes are progressive. The more income you earn, the more tax you pay. If you don’t earn any income, you don’t pay any tax. The student services charge on the other hand, are regressive. Rich or poor, we are all forced pay the same amount. This hurts the poor the most.

2.Students will lose their only form of representation

Most forms of representation are already provided free of charge by many clubs and societies, such as the Law Society, Undergraduate Science, Engineers, and Architecture. These clubs don’t need money or anything more than their belief in students rights to do it.

Again, if most students believe in the value of student representation by the union, they would voluntarily join.

3.There will be massive job losses amongst union staff

Amongst the 300 or so employees of the union, only 10% are in support services rolls. The remainder are in management and business services, most of which are very profitable. At the last meeting of the UQ Union Admin Committee, the Business Trading Manager, Ray Thorne, stated he did not see any reason why the Business Trading Division would be retrenching staff.

4.Clubs and societies will go

Clubs and societies should not go under VSU. Of course, funding will be a lot harder to find without the union pouring money into them. On the other hand, a quick look at last year’s Union budget showed that the queer and women’s collectives (with only around 50 members between them) received around $300,000 in funding, which is more than the total amount of funding received by the other 60 or so clubs and societies.

Remember again that students will have an extra $136 to spend every semester. If clubs are as crucial to campus life as the Union would have you believe, wonโ€™t some of that $136 go into joining another club or two?

5.Uni sports will go

So what? Students go to uni to study, not to subsidise jocks. If people want to play sport, by all means, do so. But pay for it yourself, don’t expect other people to. In fact, the prices for sports club membership through UQ Sports are only marginally lower than for other sporting clubs. Many of the players on UQ’s sporting teams aren’t even UQ students.

To be continued…


Subway: The greatest invention known to man

April 17, 2005

Did you know there are 9,278,100 different types of sandwiches one can order from Subway?

Yes, I took the liberty of counting them all after a conversation a few weeks ago with a mate of mine from Melbourne, who is also coincidentally an employee of Subway (they like to call themselves ‘Sandwich artists’).

But for those who are interested, it’s basically a simple combinatoric counting problem using the sums of binomial coefficients (I’ve always wanted to say that). Once you enter a subway restaurant, you are confronted by 5 types of breads, 5 cheeses, 13 meats, 10 salads, and 12 sauces.

Before we get on to the calculations, there are some assumptions we must make: 1. You can only have one type of bread, cheese, meat, and sauce. 2. You can only have 5 types of salads or less.

Of course, you may choose to have 6 salads or two types of meat etc, but that will only make the end result even larger. I didn’t want to include whether or not you salt and pepper either. That’s just stupid ๐Ÿ˜‰ If you do want to include the salt pepper factor, just multiply the end result by 4 (4 combos of salt/pepper: salt, pepper, salt and pepper, or no salt or pepper). These assumptions sound reasonable enough.

Now it’s simply: the number breads times the number of cheeses times the number of meats times number of sauces times number of salad combinations.

So it’s 5 * 5 * 13 * 12 * (number of salad combinations)

To work out the number of different salad combinations, we use a branch of mathematics known as combinatorics, and in particular, the binomial coefficient.

Since we are using only 5 or less types of salads, the total number of salad combos can be worked out as choosing 5 from 13, plus 4 from 13, plus 3 from 13, and so on (13 types of salads).

The number of ways of choosing k salads out of n is found by using the binomial coefficient ‘nCk‘:

Where k is the number of elements in the set n. In our case of 5 salads from 13, we have 13C5 which equals 1287. That is, there are 1287 different ways of choosing 5 types of salads from a total of 13.

By doing with same for k = 4, 3, 2, 1, we have the total number of different salad combinations = 13C5 + 13C4 + 13C3 + 13C2 + 13C1 which equals 2379.

Putting this back into our original sandwich equation,

5 * 5 * 13 * 12 * 2379 = 9,278,100

Or if you feel fancy about it, total number different sandwich combinations =

ย 

where b, c, m, s = number of breads, cheeses, meats, sauces respectively. n = number of salads, i, j = min, max number of salads allowed respectively.

And who said statistics has no practical purpose!?


Happy birthday Maccas

April 14, 2005

On April 15 1955, a businessman by the name of Ray Kroc founded the first McDonald’s franchise after approaching two brothers, Dick and Mac McDonald (the pioneers of assembly line burgers), who owned a burger restaurant in San Bernardino, California. Kroc admired the extraordinary capacity of the restaurant so much that he soon began setting up new ones all across America and eventually bought the business rights from the McDonald brothers. Fifty years later, 250 million people dine at Maccas every day.

Good on ’em I say. Kroc’s formula for setting up the McDonald’s Global Empire was simple. Cook burgers quicker, cheaper, more efficiently than anyone else on earth. McDonald’s has fed families who can’t afford to eat out elsewhere. It has provided employment and lifelong skills for countless young people who would be hard pressed finding employment elsewhere. Not to mention the incredible amount of charity work they provide the community through Ronald McDonald House. When Kroc’s widow died last year, she left $US1.5 billion to the Salvation Army.

Yet, as this article rightly points out, in the eyes of McDonald’s vast army of enemies, none of this adds up to a hill of gherkins. Why? Because the ubiquitous golden M has come to symbolise something far more sinister than a burger chain. To liberal Europe, it stands for American cultural imperialism at its most coercive. To anti-capitalists, it epitomises the frightful power of the multinationals. To trade unionists, it represents autocratic managers riding roughshod over cowed workers. To environmentalists, it means the wanton destruction of natural resources and reckless production of more garbage. To animal-welfare campaigners, it signifies all that is vilest about slaughterhouse farming. And to nutritionists, their prescriptive tendencies encouraged by the media panic about obesity, it offers an irresistible target for wrath and heavy-handed satires such as Super Size Me.

Come on people. Grow up. If you want to change the world, there are bigger fish in the sea of ‘why the world is shit’ than burger chains. In the end, it’s about consumer choice. People like burgers that are fast, cheap, and don’t taste too bad. If no one bought Maccas, then they wouldn’t exist. Simple.

As for the (lack of) nutritional values of a Big Mac, so be it. It’s no secret that McDonald’s isn’t exactly part of a healthy diet. But neither is beer. To blame it for our obesity epidemic is irresponsible and ironically, lazy. The real cause of obesity is our lifestyle, not McDonald’s. We won’t be so fat if we stopped spending hours upon hours sitting in front of the TV, walked to the shops instead of driving, and maybe even exercise now and again. But that will require effort, using McDonald’s as a scapegoat is far easier.

Have a nice day.


The Economics of Relationships

April 13, 2005

There’s a good reason why I’m not the first person you would go see for relationship advice. But in the interest of the advancement of human knowledge (and perhaps give a rational explanation for why I am single), I present โ€“ the Economics of Relationships.

Relationships, like most things, can be explained through simple economics. Supply and demand. As it is usually up to the man to make the first move, pay for dinner etc, women can be seen as sellers of the product, ie. themselves (supply), and men as the buyers (demand). Please, let me go on. The current status of a relationship can be largely described as the equilibrium function of supply and demand (intersection of two lines), in that a woman will supply the quantity of time spent with her partner (Q), in which men pay for in return (P) (when I say ‘men pay for’ I don’t necessarily mean money. It may also include love, dinner, sex, gifts etc). This can be represented graphically as such:

From this model, it can be seen that the more a male invests in a female (demand shifts right), the more time the female is willing to spend time with him, and vice versa. Conversely from a female’s perspective, the less time she is willing to spend with him (supply shifts left), the more he is willing to invest in her.

We often hear women complain about their boyfriends treating them badly. What they do not realise is that they have let their supply curve shift too far to the right. This crosses the demand curve at a very low P, but a very high Q, hence she is now spending too much time with him in which he now takes her for granted. To solve this, the female must realise that she isn’t an exogenous variable she has no control over, but rather she must shift her supply curve back to the left, decreasing Q. In other words, let the man know what he’s missing. He’ll want you back.

Anyway, that’s it for tonight, maybe more on the subject as I think it up. I really need to get laid.

Disclaimer: I did not intend the above to be in any way sexist. If you were offended, have a teary, then go make my dinner.


Some bad Camilla jokes

April 11, 2005

Now that the Royal Wedding is over, I suppose you could say that Camilla finally has a place to park-her-balls. (*snare-cymbal crash) And here’s one more – “Camilla Parker-Bowls-Windsor. So what did the batsman score?” I chuckled. Have a nice day.