Four Ways You Can Save Money On Books

September 26, 2009 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Business, Finance and Investment 

Not many people would dispute that Australian consumers get ripped off when buying books.

I first noticed this in the year 2000, when the GST was introduced by the Howard government. I was a university student, and the cost of a single textbook had broken the $100 barrier. It seemed that book prices had virtually doubled overnight. When I asked the manager, I was told that the introduction of the 10% GST and the new accounting procedures added a lot of overhead.

I think that’s only a small part of the explanation:

In Australia, four chain bookstores dominate retail book sales: Dymocks, Angus & Robertson, Borders & the Co-op Bookshop. They are traditional walk-in bookshops with large displays, elaborate decorations and many staff. Online book retailing in Australia has not yet reached the mainstream as it is in the USA and Europe.

Also, Australia has controversial laws preventing parallel importation – stores are not allowed to legally sell a cheaply imported book published overseas if the same book has also been published locally. There have been calls to change these laws to allow parallel importation,  but I doubt it will reduce prices significantly.

Despite this, there are still many things you can do to avoid overspending on books. Here is a list:

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Aspiring Egyptian Book Burner Loses Bid To Head UNESCO

Long-serving Egyptian Culture Minister Farouk Hosny has lost his bid to become the new Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation – UNESCO. The position was instead won by former Bulgarian Minister Irina Bokova, who received a majority of the final vote 31-27, amongst the 58 delegates.

Farouk Hosni’s campaign was hampered by a threat he made in the Egyptian parliament last year to personally burn any Israeli book he found in Egypt’s famous Library of Alexandria.

According to the linked article, “Critics also said that Mr Hosni was unfit to be UN guardian of culture because he censored books and films and stifled media freedom to support the authoritarian Egyptian government of Hosni Mubarak”.

In true Arab Muslim style, he blamed his election loss on a “Jewish Conspiracy, cooked up in New York”.

The Final Word on 2Day FM Shock Jock Kyle Sandilands

September 12, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Australian News 

Kyle Sandilands is in the news again, this time for his jibe that Australian TV comedienne Magna Szubanski could lose more weight if she were placed in a concentration camp. He has been suspended from duties at 2Day FM.

I agree that this is offensive for a number of reasons, but should this be another scandal? I say no.

Kyle Sandilands is a SHOCK JOCK  – not a diplomat, politician, church leader or anyone with an important public role of responsibility. His job is to say offensive things on radio. Some radio listeners are entertained by his frequently crude and offensive remarks, and that is why he is there.

Whilst I am here, I also commend Magda Szubanski for her achievement of losing 36kg, lowering her weight from 121kg to 85kg – She is a great role model for other obese individuals who want to lose weight.

Young Couple from Queensland to Face Trial For Using Abortion Medicines

September 12, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Australian News, Australian Politics 

Australia is truly regressing backwards. Earlier this week, we had the stupid Liberal MP Scott Morrison tell parliament that pornography is as dangerous as firearms. Now we have this:

A young couple in Queensland, aged 19 and 21 respectively, have been commited to trial for using abortion drugs to ‘procure a miscarriage’. The story goes that the police, whilst searching their home for another undisclosed reason, came across the used packaging for the abortion drugs RU486 (Mifepristone) – commonly called the ‘Abortion Pill’, and Misoprostol. Due to meddling by religious conservatives in parliament, RU486 is not easy to obtain in Australia, even though it is widely available in other countries, including our neighbour New Zealand and most European nations.

Here are some newspaper links that tell the story in depth:

One can infer from the above that the Queensland police did not find what they were really looking for during the search, and just so that would not leave empty handed, they came up with another petty reason to charge the couple. Apparently, this is the first prosecution for this offence in 50 years! If convicted, the woman may face up to 7 years prison and her partner may face up to 3 years.

What beefs me even more is that if the couple had gone to a public hospital or private clinic for a surgical abortion, that would have been perfectly legal, but because they took the drugs of their own initiative – obviously because it was faster, cheaper and less traumatic than surgery – they now face prosection.

In my opinion, there is no greatly cruelty than to give birth to an unwanted child who does not have parents with the will or means to look after them.  This young couple had mutually agreed to abort their pregnancy and they knew they were not ready. Furthermore, they had the support of both their parents.

In what way does society gain from prosecuting this young couple?

Crazed Libyan Leader Muammar Gaddafi to tell UN to Abolish Switzerland

A year ago, Gaddafi’s youngest son, Hannibal Gaddafi, and his wife were arrested in a Geneva luxury hotel after beating two servants with a belt and a coat-hanger.

According to a New York Times article, “Hannibal Gaddafi had previously been busted in France and Italy for beating a woman and fighting a cop, and once for driving drunk down Paris’ Champs Elysee at 90 mph  – the wrong way.”

How do you think Hannibal’s dad Muammar reacted? By issuing an apology to the Swiss? By taking some perks away from his son? By paying compensation to the beaten servants?

No, of course not! He reacted like a typical Arab Dictator – he threw a tantrum like a 3-year old boy – that is, a 3 year old boy with money and autocratic power. Gaddafi’s regime did the following:

  • Recalled Libyan diplomats From Switzerland
  • Suspended visas for Swiss citizens
  • Withdrew funds from Swiss banks
  • Blockaded the Tripoli office of the Swiss food company Nestlé

And the Old Arab Favourite trick:

  • Threatened to cut off oil deliveries to Switzerland.

Oh and also they kept two Swiss businessmen as ‘guests’ [hostages] until Libya received an apology for poor little Hannibal’s arrest.

Now as you can imagine, such financial pressure can even crack most principled of people, especially the Swiss who are known for their love of other people’s gold. Two weeks ago, Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz travelled to Tripoli to issue a grovelling apology, hoping to pacify madman Gaddafi and get their businessmen back.

In true Arab style, Libya reneged and the businessmen are still there. Now Merz, having made a fool out of himself, is apparently facing calls for his resignation from outraged Swiss citizens.

But that’s not all. Gaddafi is still angry as hell and he now plans to demand the dissolution of Switzerland when he next addresses the United Nations. If Gaddafi can sway enough of his fellow Arab, Muslim and African dictatorships, maybe he’ll muster a UN majority to pass a Switzerland dissolution resolution.

After all, similar tactics got Taiwan kicked out of the UN in 1971, and get Israel criticised every other week for defending itself from destruction at the hands of its Arab Muslim Neighbours. That’ll teach the Swiss who’s boss!

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