May 31, 2006

The UK at its finest

Still to be finalized, the official British inquiry into the death of Diana, Princess of Wales (contrary to the insistence of the MSM, she lost usage of the “Princess” prefix during the divorce settlement), while a matter that could, potentially be taken seriously, seems to have slipped into silliness before the report is even finalized and made public.

Firstly, the senior detective leading the investigation offered up some tantalizing, yet entirely useless bait to journalists while he was “speaking at a literary festival, in Hay-on-Wye, Wales”.

This worthless bit of fluff finishes with the following gob smacking revelation:

A Metropolitan police spokeswoman, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with policy, said she could not comment on the reports.”

Wow. Journalism at the cutting edge. Stand by for more breaking news.


Brothel Blatantly Sexual

Complaints lodged with the advertising board, about the above billboard for a brothel, included that it is "blatantly sexual and crass".

A brothel being blatantly sexual in its’ advertising ... a brothel being crass ... what will they think of next?

All complaints were dismissed.


May 26, 2006

More death … err … more life on Everest

Dead man found alive: lucky Australian Everest climber Lincoln Hall was thought to have died, and was even officially reported as such, but was later found alive by other climbers.

Unlike the appalling and immoral situation of the British climber who died only days ago, Sherpas spent 9 hours trying to help Hall down the mountain, before being told to save themselves.

All the same, this new incident at the busiest mountain on earth (has it become a commuter centre?) has a least some shades of the earlier death. (I think this quote probably comes from the “Mount Everest” website.)

"This morning Dan Mazur on a summit push discovered the still alive Lincoln Hall at the second step and gave him hot tea and oxygen and he was able to use the radio to call his expedition," reports the website.

Dan with one client continued to the summit....nice one sunshine! Seems like more mountaineering brotherhood classes required.”

Still a bit icky, but at least Hall was not only given oxygen, but also a nice hot cuppa.

I suppose that’s one small step on the way back to the path of moral decency, at least on Everest: not sure about everywhere else on Earth.

Full storyEverest Climber “found alive”.


Aawwwwww

Baby Kookaburras - Via Tim Blair's place

Kookaburra Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree
Merry merry king of the bush is he
Laugh Kookaburra, laugh Kookaburra
Gay your life must be

Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree
Eating all the gumdrops he can see
Stop Kookaburra, stop Kookaburra
Leave some gums for me

Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree
Counting all the monkeys he can see
Stop Kookaburra, stop Kookaburra
That's no monkey, that's ME!!!

You can listen to the Kookaburra here (scroll down)



Anew - 7 World Trade Centre


The first destroyed skyscraper to be rebuilt since September 11 has opened, with few tenants but modern features that developers say will be part of all the new office towers to rise at the World Trade Centre site. More ...

May 25, 2006

Glossary of Terms

Today Crikey offered up a starter kit glossary of some of the most common doublespeak used by journalists, politicians and business leaders (note: some references are Oz specific, but our O/S visitors should feel free to substitute names of local identities):

"Close personal friend" – lover
"Assisting police with inquiries" – guilty
"Sources close to Michael Kroger" – Michael Kroger
"Kerry Packer's friend" – Kerry Packer's mistress
"Colourful character" – a crook.
"Flamboyant" – gay
"Tired and emotional" – drunk
"I've decided to spend more time with the kids" – sacked
"The CEO has full support of the board" – about to be sacked

Feel free to add your own suggestions.

One of my favorites, used ad nausea in weekly junk magazines is the unnamed close friend – usually attached to a quote, or several, about the intimate life and times of some flibbertigibbet celebrity person, or some flibbertigibbet celebrity couple.

“Unnamed close friend” – this person is a fiction; this quote is a fiction, as is the entire story; the journalist made up the story and the quotes, and did a very fine job of it too; this magazine does not print news or real stories; what the hell do you expect for only four bucks anyway; do you really think we could churn out so much crap week after week if we had to wait for famous people to actually do stuff and wait for their near and dearest friends to actually spill their guts, eh?

Update: Crikey readers have let rip with their own extensive offerings!

Politics

"I do not plan to challenge [party leader] now, or ever" – I don't have the numbers
"Kim has my full support" – I haven't got the numbers, yet
"She served his needs in a number of positions” – departing female advisor who he was having an affair with the president/PM
"The minister has my full confidence" – he's a disaster but the political cost of sacking him would be worse than toughing it out
"The public has been fully consulted" – we have spent a sh*tload of taxpayers money advertising our decision
"You know you can count on my vote"– yours is the best offer so far
"You know I'll vote for you and I'll even show my ballot paper to your mate George" – George and I both plan to rat on you
"Thank you for your letter and your comments will receive my urgent attention" – go and get f*cked
"I have no intention of resigning" – Give him/her a week...
"Non-core promise" – lie
"Iron clad guarantee" – lie
"Never, ever" – next year
"Tax reform" – Cuts for the rich. The poor pay the same, or more
"Canberra" – government by politicians who do not represent or live in Canberra
"I think Mark would make a great PM" – I didn't know he kept a diary
"Drastic action is required" – the electorate will forget this before next week
"This is a government priority" – we lost the file
"I was unaware of " – I made sure I deleted all the emails I sent
"Iraq has WMD" – Iraq does not have WMD
"This war is not about oil" – this is an oil war
"WorkChoices will increase jobs" – at casual rates of $8/hr
"We had a full and frank exchange of views" – we told each other to f*ck off
“No decision has been made yet” – the decision has been made we just can't tell you right now
”We're conducting a full investigation” – to make you go away and hope you never ask about the result
"Mate" – ALP doublespeak for "about to be knived"
"Maaaaaate" – as above but the contract is out and time to pack the bags

Underworld

"Racing identity" – shady gambler
"Colourful racing identity" – acts like a crook but we don't dare call him one
"Colourful Sydney racing identity" – very shady gambler
"Prominent Sydney racing identity" – organised crime boss
"Known to police" – we know he's a crook but we can't get the evidence
"Assisting the police with their enquiries" – is in the process of having both his eardrums burst by being belted with the telephone directory
"Melbourne underworld figure" – we know his name, we're just too frkn scared to publish it
"Gold Coast property developer" – drug importer
"Independently wealthy" – takes bribes/possibly a drug dealer
"Is known to police" – a crook

Business

"Decided to seek a new challenge" – sacked
"Took voluntary redundancy" – sacked
“Left to pursue personal interests” – sacked
"Resigned for personal reasons" – was a hopeless incompetent
"With all due respect" – you're a moron
"Cautiously optimistic" – we're sh*tting ourselves
"Sitting on the sidelines" – we missed the bus
"We're quite bullish" – we just sold
"It's a dog" – we already lost 50%
"We're neutral" – we have no idea
"This stock looks expensive" – I wish I'd bought it
"This stock looks cheap" – I wish I'd sold it
"Our fees are at the low end" – I've got a new boat
"We're doing this in the shareholders' best interests" – we're lining our pockets
“We put our employees first” – the most important thing is meeting financial targets

Journospeak

"A source close to the minister" – the minister
"Usually reliable sources" – rumour
"Bitter dispute" – mild disagreement
"Burning issue" – no-one really cares
"The tributes poured in" (for an obit) – we phoned the usual suspects for comment.
"Critically acclaimed" – sh*thouse
"Undocumented worker" – illegal alien
"Exotic dancer" – stripper
"Fair and balanced" – right-wing bias
"Redeployment of troops" – withdrawal
"Outspoken critic" – rabblerouser
"Eccentric" – weird
"Civilian casualties" – innocents killed
"Targeted killings" – assassinations
"Elite media" – Age/SMH
"Gossip site of Sydney Morning Herald ex-editor Eric Beecher" – Crikey
''A left-wing commentator'' – any of the Crikey team
"Our circulation has never been higher" – we offloaded thousands of free CDs and meat pies last month
"A man of interest" – felon
"Refused to speak to the Age" – has a deal with the Herald Sun
"Refused to speak to the Herald Sun" – has a deal with the Age
"Refused to speak to the media" – was still in negotiations with all comers
"Did not return the Age's call's last night" – we rang at 9.30pm with a last second chance to respond to the allegations having sat on them all day and crafted our story
"Seasoned campaigner" – old
"Single mum" – lazy welfare cheat
"Single dad " – hero
"Mother of three" – mother of three
"Suburban housewife" – suburban housewife
"Sub judice" – can't tell you
"Commercial-in-confidence" – can't tell you
"No net increase" – an increase
"No increase in real terms" – an even bigger increase
"In 2006 dollars" – likely to be double in five years
"Freedom fighters" – terrorists
"Terrorists" – freedom fighters
"Outspoken immigration campaigner" – racist

May 23, 2006

Morality

If you’ve ever read Touching the Void, or seen the film, you’ll know what a compelling and genuine moral dilemma was posed in that real life story - one over which the climbing community no doubt still argues - and a story from which two climbers have made an excellent living for a couple of decades now, and good for them, it’s a hell of a story.

We’ve been waiting a very long time (not for more extraordinary stories of survival, we have plenty of those every year) for another similarly immediate, compelling and substantial moral question to be posed, and now we have it, but this time it's not a story that involves two men, unbelievable courage, and remarkable survival. This time it’s more than forty people and one dead man.

Mount Everest – that multi-lane mecca of hyper-tourism:

"On that morning, over 40 people went past this young Briton -- I was one of the first."

In radio calls, his party was told that if the man had been there any length of time without oxygen, there was nothing that could be done for the climber.

"He was effectively dead ... so we carried on," said Inglis."

Just a little quibble here: no one actually knew how long, or how short a period of time he had been without oxygen. No-one will ever know.

He was alive: that's all any of them knew with absolute certainty.

He had no gloves: being without gloves is not a good thing on Everest, but it won't in and of itself kill you. You'll end up with amputed hands, for sure, but death and no gloves don't automatically go hand in hand.

More than 40 people saw this dying man and decided that going to the top of Everest was more important than sitting with a dying man, even if only for comfort – their own, not necessarily his. And far more important than any small chance of saving his life by getting him the hell down from there and into the arms of medical assistance.

Everyone just carried on.

There are amazing stories of survival, involving one or more people putting their own lives in jeopardy - on Everest. This time there were many dozens of people who could have chosen to do something, on the off chance that the young man might still survival, but no-one did.

Lends a real purpose to the saying: left for dead”.

Would you have done the same?

Dying on Everest

Update: subsequent reactions Everest hero slams modern climbers


May 19, 2006

Scorned

If not for Alison Summers’ frequent apoplectic spewing to any journalist who will listen, I would never ever have know that she was supposedly a central character and theme in her ex-husband Peter Carey’s latest work of fiction – Theft: A Love Story.

I would also never ever have known that Summers may well be some sort of career-obsessed money grubbing harpy who lays claim to all credit for her ex-husband’s success.

Nor would I have ever known that she wanted to “eviscerate” – actual or a mere attempt – his works and wealth as part of what must have been a jolly good time had by all during divorce settlement negotiations.

Summers is taking the moral high ground, as you would have already deduced. That’s why she can’t keep her mouth shut about her alleged less than anodyne qualities and why she won’t brook the alleged theft by Carey of her very being as grist and gristle for his latest novel.

Peter Carey, meanwhile, declines to discuss the “ex” and will concede only that he writes with the resources at his disposal at a point in time – a not unreasonable observation, from any writer. What else would a writer be using as they proceed from one fiction to the next, other than their current intellectual ponderings or emotional preoccupations? But to assume that a fiction writer is only ever a thief is to negate all human imagination, fanciful thought and story telling skills: the minimum bedrocks of fiction; whether the highbrow variety or the catchy cultural trash that entertains and distracts us all too well.

Reading interviews with Summers one could be forgiven for garnering the impression that Carey has zilch imagination, writes pure non-fiction, rather than stories, and that his latest novel is embedded with a germ of some horrible truth – about Summers. Not a mere sliver of ice in his heart, but an entire ice making machine, churning out not-so-cutely-shaped little ice cubes by the minute. He allegedly takes real lives and transcribes them, nothing more.

Summers claims that her media crusade is not about convincing people who do not know her – and I believe her, because why on earth would she care what I think, or what you think, why would she be trumpeting about things we would not otherwise have known about her? No, we are not her motivation. She is, she claims, solely concerned that people who do know her, or have ever met her, will have their opinion of her contaminated by reading Carey’s novel. Or, we presume, reading the articles and publicity to which she has so generously contributed.

“It's the people who know me - from my schoolteachers to my great-aunts and uncles to friends all over the world - that I want to assure that I have not changed, that I have not become corrupted into this nasty stereotype of a gold-digging, shoe-obsessed bimbo.”

Yes, seriously: her means for communicating with her family, friends, acquaintances and old school mates is via mass media outlets. Apparently she has neither an address book nor a list of phone numbers in her mobile. Everyone she knows must be contacted via newspaper, but not a paid advertisement, nor a letter to the editor, it must be a feature article, because that’s where her relatives and loved ones go looking if they want to find out what kind of person Summers has become – hey, isn’t that what we all do when want to defend our reputation to those who know us personally? Either that, or give Jay Leno a call.

Drawing parallels between a writer’s fiction and their own life is always a dodgy business. Is Carey’s Theft a “divorce novel”? I’ve only read the reviews and the interviews, but I gather the present circumstances of the key character, and the point at which the story begins, are preceded by a colorful divorce. Divorce is a common enough event and Carey had that freshly on his mind. A published fiction writer has a form for venting denied to the rest of us, so he has probably let rip, within the bounds of his imagination and the framework of his fiction. That’s all we needed to know, until Summers insisted we needed to know differently.

On the one hand Summers insists that Carey is a beastly man who has falsely and publicly painted her in a less than flattering light, on the other hand she baldly states: "I see him as a vampire. He consumed everything in my life". If the latter is the case, it would suggest that he has sucked and portrayed the very real essence of her in his novel. Which is it to be?

If, on the other hand, she means to suggest that he sucked the life out of her during marriage, then all we can observe is that it took her 20 years, plus 4 years of separation, to reach that particular conclusion, in which case there appears to be no-one eligible for blame for her own slow learning.

She insists: "I don't feel angry any more.” Which is great. I know I was very pleased for her, as it means she won’t have to keep taking those calls from journalists all over the world, who make her relive what was obviously a bitter end to a long and fruitful marriage.

If I remember correctly, both Carey and Summers were in New York on 9/11/2001. Not a remarkable fact, since they were living in that city. I’m also sure that both of them wrote articles after the event. Summers had actually been out shopping, or catching a train, or such, right at the World Trade Centre that morning. We have such grand expectations and hopes for human nature, don’t we? An innocent belief that shocking and sobering events will transform individuals into better people. We are almost always wrong. Petty grievances and self-obsession are reinstated at front and centre stage all too promptly.

Summers is intent on maintaining her dignity and her newly acquired tranquil countenance by writing her own novel, already with the title Mrs Jekyll. Obviously it will be a work of pure fiction: the moral high ground.

Yes, that’ll show him, cupcake. That’ll show us all.

Ex-wife comes out swinging


May 18, 2006

Oh parc !!!


Nevaeh is Heaven spelled backward.


Last year Nevaeh was the 70th-most-popular name for baby girls in America.

The stupid must be punished.

And if It's a Boy, Will it be lleh?
The New York Times, May 18 2006


May 16, 2006

Who needs "experts"?

The BBC has inadvertently interviewed a London cabbie in lieu of a pre-prepared “computer expert”. The interview with the cabbie went live to air.

After his initial and obvious surprise at finding himself on teevee - instead of merely picking up his next fare - the cabbie did remarkably well, jumping in with gusto and conviction to comment upon
Apple Computer's legal battle with Apple Corporation:

Karen Bowerman: Hello, good morning to you.

Taxi driver: Good morning.

KB: Were you surprised by this verdict today?

Taxi driver: I am very surprised to see ... this verdict to come on me because I was not expecting that. When I came they told me something else and I am coming. So a big surprise anyway.

KB: A big surprise, yeah, yes.

Taxi driver: Exactly.

KB: With regards to the costs involved do you think now more people will be downloading online?

Taxi driver: Actually If you can walk everywhere you are going to see a lot of people downloading the internet and the website and everything they want. But I think eh It is much better for development and eh to inform people what they want and to get the easy way and so faster if they are looking for.

KB: It does really seem the way the music industry's progressing now that people want to go onto the website and download music.

Taxi driver: Exactly you can go everywhere on the cyber cafe and you can take, you can go easy. It is going to be an easy way for everyone to get something to the internet

KB: Thank you. Thanks very much indeed.

Perhaps the media should ditch their proclavity for “expert” commentators and pull cabbies in off the street instead. As an audience, we would be no worse off and perhaps we would often be better informed or otherwise stimulated.

May 13, 2006

Shy Nudist Covers Toe Nails

A 75 year old nudist has “disgusted” a member of the Queensland constabulary, and quite possibly left the officer emotionally scared for life, not to mention fighting an overwhelming and recurrent urge to remove his own retinas.

Stemming from events nearly a year ago, the elderly nudist has recently fronted up to court with a not guilty plea to a charge of “willful exposure”. The nudist pensioner believed he was doing nothing wrong as he had been visiting the “unofficial” nude beach at Third Bay for around 30 years.

Giving testimony, the police officer claimed not to be disgusted by naked men per se, so long as it was confined to changing rooms. On the other hand, his disgust at naked men romping around on public beaches was acutely heightened by the sight of the pensioner’s polish-enhanced toe nails.

The constable admitted on the stand that the “multi-colored toenails [had] increased his disgust”.

"When you look at him as a member of the public and as a police officer, its not acceptable (behavior)," he said.

A real nudist would not have been so coy as to cover their toe nails in either monochrome or multicolored polish.

May 12, 2006

Exhibit A: A Valuable Study

This week The Onion bucks the worldwide trend of useless and inconsequential studies by providing a timely insight into the way a study should be done: a pertinent topic; robust statistics; plausible and probable conclusions; and a valuable contribution to human knowledge.

Study: Alligators Dangerous No Matter How Drunk You Are

May 10, 2006

BATON ROUGE, LA—In a breakthrough study that contradicts decades of understanding about the nature of alligator–drunkard relations, Louisiana State University researchers have concluded that people's drunkenness does not impair the ancient reptiles' ability to inflict enormous physical harm.

Alligators exhibit the potential to inflict serious harm, regardless of the blood-alcohol levels of their victims.

"Our data strongly indicates that human intoxication does not transform an alligator into a docile creature that enjoys wrestling," said professor Ryder McCrory, chair of the Wildlife Taunting Department of LSU's prestigious Center For Bullying And Hazing Studies. "Despite its slow-witted demeanor and tendency to bask motionlessly in the hot sun, it's a mistake to believe that an alligator will passively tolerate a half nelson, no matter how much Southern Comfort is fueling it."

McCrory said the study yielded statistics that speak for themselves.

"In 10 out of 10 documented cases of violent alligator–drunkard encounters, the reptile was not influenced by the fact that the victim was 'just kidding' or 'just having some fun,'" McCrory said.

Read to the end for their tips on a variety of alternative and safe activities when drunk.

Only one thing missing from that list: bloggers wrestling - fun and perfectly safe!

May 11, 2006

Does not compute

Using old computers supposedly leads to people taking more sick leave.

In addition, women in the workplace are far more likely to be dumped with old computers than men. That part I do believe.

In the study, “old” seems to be deemed to be hardware at least three years old, which is not my idea of an old computer.

But here is where we really come undone:

“About two-thirds of those polled also complained of problems like eye fatigue, headaches, and repetitive strain injury (RSI).”

Eye fatigue, headaches and RSI? Caused by “old” computers, but not by brand-spanking new computers? Oh really?

Maybe people feel “undervalued” if not provided with a new computer every 24 months.

Maybe women feel like second class citizens and become resentful when they know that men are given computer upgrades but they aren’t – especially when the former group, clerical and administration staff, probably spend more time actively using their computers.

Maybe some people stupidly believe that they actually require a shiny new computer to do their job properly, even though the only difference is aesthetic, not computer functionality or grunt, so they become inappropriately frustrated with their ability to perform their job and take sick leave.

Toys in the office are a status symbol and these days nothing speaks of illusionary status more than a new toy, even if it’s only the latest new model of a common toy. Unlike mobile phones, computers don’t have new functionality added every 7 minutes. A computer box, a screen and a keyboard serve the same purpose and do the same things, no matter the colour, the age, the shape, or the accumulated biscuit crumbs. A flat screen looks pretty, but it will still give you a headache and eyestrain if you sit in front of it for 10 hours.

Whatever the case, yet another example of researchers pissing good money up against a wall asking the wrong questions, collecting the wrong data and reaching blatantly wrong conclusions, all the while presenting no supporting evidence and establishing no causal links.

------------------

Over at Drunka's you can read about virtue and finding your friends in US Federal Prisons.

And my last post as blogsitter at Drunka's place - he'll be home any time now!

May 10, 2006

Educational Material


Important educational material about Australia has been posted over at Drunka’s place.

Blogsitting days are winding down, Drunka will be back soon. (Phew!)

May 9, 2006

Relatively Speaking


A scientific piece about some of our closest relatives, such as the gold fish and the banana, not to mention simians -
posted at Drunka's place. Enjoy!


May 5, 2006

Come the Rapture

American's are so much better prepared than us. Bumper sticker.


May 4, 2006

Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation

New proven and scientific method to improve your brain – over at Drunka’s place!

May 2, 2006

Literary Interlude

I have never read Roth, indeed, I have never heard of him. No, no, not that Roth, the other one – the one you’ve never read or heard of either.

I’m talking about the great Austrian writer Joseph Roth.

Michael Hofmann, who has devoted many years to translating Roth’s body of work (and still going), offered the following except in a recent article. (The Age, 25 March 2006)

The paragraphs appear at the beginning of Chapter 8 of the book The Radetzky March.

It is, as Hoffmann says, moving and majestic.

Read it and be moved, or read it and be envious of the clarity and elegance of the writing.

“In the years before the Great War, at the time the events chronicled in these pages took place, it was not yet a matter of indifference whether a man lived or died. When someone was expunged from the lists of the living, someone else did not immediately stop up to take his place, but a gap was left to show where he had been, and those who knew the man who had died or disappeared, well, or even less well, fell silent whenever they saw the gap.

When a fire happened to consume a particular dwelling in a row of dwellings, the site of the conflagration remained for a long time afterwards. For masons and bricklayers worked slowly and thoughtfully, and when they walked past the ruins, neighbours and passers-by alike recalled the form and the walls of the house that had once stood there. That’s how it was then! Everything that grew took long to grow; and everything that ended took a long time to be forgotten. Everything that existed left behind traces of itself, and people then lived by their memories, just as we nowadays live by our capacity to forget, quickly and comprehensively.”

Cross posted at Drunka's Place

May 1, 2006

The President's Penis

Come on, come on, you know the deal:

Pop over to Drunka's place to read about the Presidential Penis Proportions, and to view other fun stuff, like the "Alcohol and You - Schematic".

All, excellent posts and educational too!