February 28, 2007

Second Best

We’re still the biggest fantasy island in the world.

If money was no object, Australia is the place everyone wants to be, for a visit, if not forever.

However, we’re only number two in the hit parade of friendliest nations, robbed of the number one spot by ….. *gasp* … CANADIANS!

Damn those Mounties!

Nation Brands Index

February 25, 2007

Altruistic Bunny Boiler

Former girlfriend of a Sydney based senior medical specialist was seared by her conscious following their breakup, compelling her, in a fit of Little Miss Goody Two Shoes, to take action to reform the Australian medical profession.

Ms Karen McLeod girded her loins to change the world of medical practice by writing to the NSW Minister for Health, and to her former boyfriend’s health service employer.

In the letters she explained that Dr Mark Hertzberg was wont to a bit of "schmoozing and boozing" on drug company junkets, and was something of a "dysfunctional walking zombie". Not dissimilar to the rest of us, in other words.

"I thought my letters would change the system … I don't believe there was anything in those letters that was malicious to him. It was about the good of humanity, the system, and for him."

A less noble person might have written a kind letter to his Mum, noting all of his faults, and suggesting that he had come from a deficient family setting. But Miss Humanity thought more good would come from writing to someone with no power or inclination to do much of anything about your garden-variety boozing-dysfunctional-zombie doctor.

Ms McLeod was surprised that her letter found its way back to her former boyfriend, obviously believing - quite reasonably so - that the identity of Supergirl would be protected, as the recipients of her missive sprung into action behind her, stung by the devastating revelations of her correspondence, their very beings pricked like pin cushions at the notion of doctors taking advantage of drug company sponsored conferences, not to mention the social and medical ramifications of the consequential jet lag. This was whistle blowing on a grand scale, on matters previously hidden safely behind the curtains of business class.

Thus it came to be that the former boyfriend sued Supergirl, not for the depth and sincerity of her humanity, rather, for defamation, as if schmoozing at pharmaceutical funded fun-filled days is a tawdry matter, of which doctors carry a private burden of shame, or that boozing is a dirty family secret in this great brown land.

Funnily enough, the jury was a phlegmatic bunch, rejecting nine of the ten charges of defamatory imputation, concluding, we assume, that it’s damned near impossible to defame a doctor. You can throw as much mud as you’d like, and a jury will shrug its collective shoulder, and mumble, slack-jawed, “huh”, as if one had merely mentioned a baby passing wind, or burping. A doctor’s reputation is a momentary and valueless thing.

The jury did agree that Dr Hertzberg "brags he is cooking the system" - but found it was not defamatory.

It is expected Dr Hertzberg's barrister will ask for the jury verdict to be put aside as "perverse", as you would.

Having failed, on this occasion, in her "duty to reveal the corrupting influence of drug companies", and to thereby bring about any good for humanity, the system, or her former boyfriend, we await Supergirl’s future efforts at doing something good for humanity, the system, and her next boyfriend.

February 23, 2007

February 22, 2007

Chivalry Lives

Now that Britney is bald both upstairs and downstairs, her childhood play mate and long ago boyfriend, Justin Timberlake, has come to her defence, proclaiming her bald-do a smart choice.

“She is starting over, cleaning herself up.”

“It was something you wouldn’t expect most stars to do, so she is taking a chance."

Nice one Justin. I have no idea if what you say makes any sense, but kudos to you for the gesture. Brit-Brit needs the positive vibes.

February 21, 2007

Our teevee stations suck

We all know that *new* Blogger sucks big time, but it still doesn't suck and blow within dimensional cooee of Australian television:

"Over the past two years, average Australian broadcast delays for free-to-air television viewers have more than doubled from 7.6 to 16.7 months"

Clever programmers we have in this part of the world, unimaginably clever.

Turning viewers into pirates

February 20, 2007

Quote of the Week

"If a barreling teenager knocks over a wooden fence ... and nobody is there to capture it for YouTube, is he still an idiot?"

Running into fences

February 19, 2007

Caffeine Karma

For those of you who believe in disposable karma, go for a whorl with 14 simple and simplistic modern-day questions, the sum total and scoring of which will tell you nothing of your current karma, nor the direction or stage at which your karma will be in your next incarnation.

But what the heck, you’re in this incarnation right now, so you may as well do the silly test.

Karma Calculator

Once you’ve done that, bring yourself back down to earth with something far more realistic and achievable.

Ever wondered how much caffine you’d need to ingest before it was just a little too much and you’d drop dead?

Of course you have.

Well, wonder no more!

Death by Chocolate Milk – how much chocolate milk will kill you?

February 18, 2007

Odd Bods

Dr Stephen Juan’s latest The Odd Body, part 3, reveals:

Each year three people in Australia die while using their tongue to test if a 9-volt battery still works.

Don’t try the tongue test at home folks, and don’t be stingy, just buy a new battery, okay.

In 1997 eight Australians cracked their skulls after passing out while throwing up into the toilet.

Seems the bucket may be a safer option.

Via The Age, book reviews, February 17, 2007

February 17, 2007

We're Famous

Prime Minister, John Howard .... um, oops, would you believe Finance Minister Senator Minchin ... talking about gerbil worming:
"We get attacked for this, but scepticism is one of the all-time great Australian attributes. It is one of the tings Australians are famous for."
Err, okay, if you say so.

Duh Research

This week Tanya Chartrand takes a bow with her groundbreaking research. The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology has kindly pandered to her small contribution to the world.

“It’s been called selective deafness, passive aggressiveness and forgetfulness.

But spouses who apparently ignore their partner’s requests may be disobeying instructions on purpose.

The research findings show that often people do not follow instructions even if they are for their own benefit, simply to avoid doing what other people want them to do.”

Fancy that. Who knew, ‘ey?

Equally unremarkable, and not worth remarking upon, Chartrand was inspired to pursue this research after noticing that her very own husband appeared to ignore her requests for help around the house. Go figure.

The far more impressive University of Arizona professor, Charles Gerba, on the other hand, pursued a line of research for which a quick call to his Mum would not have provided all the answers.

In the process, the clever-buggalugs professor has inadvertently uncovered where all the food that could feed the entire third world has been going – women’s work desks.

Yes, really.

The good Prof went in search of germs at work and discovered that a woman’s desk harbors a squillion more bacteria than a man’s desk. This is partly attributed to women harboring all manner of grooming products on and around the place, such as hand lotion and makeup, but by far the biggest contribution is all the emergency food supplies that women have stashed away at work. The Prof found that 75% of women kept food in their work area.

“I was really surprised how much food there was in a woman’s desk” he said

“If there’s ever a famine that’s the first place I’ll look for food.”

The germiest thing about men is their wallets, which, when being held captive in warm clammy back pockets is the perfect incubator for bacteria.

Via Melbourne commuter newspaper mX, February 16 2007

February 16, 2007

February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day!

Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love

February 13, 2007

Love in the Pen

In Melbourne, single women out number single men, thereby creating a degree of mild discomfiture for local ladies of a certain age.

Are you easy going, open minded, and over thirty? Yes? See, I thought you were!

Randy Sands from Florida might be your dream match. He’d be particularly well suited for ladies who experience a touch of insecurity within their intimate relationships, because Randy won’t do anything to incite jealous rages from you, at least not until he’s released in 2023.

More likely lads – an entire prison’s worth – can be found at Hot Prison Pals.

February 12, 2007

Media Savvy

During recent years, we, the public, have been told, lectured, berated, and belittled into accepting – if not believing – the merits of the all singing, all SMSing, all dancing post-modern education, in which students, we’re assured, come out the other end of their schooling with far grander, far more sophisticated analytical and critical faculties than generations of yore.

They are, we, the public, have been told, lectured and hectored, the most savvy generations ever to plant their little footprints on the Earth, with multiple mass media understanding and communications expertise that cuts like Freddie Kruger through the froth and gullibility of their impoverished-Shakespearean-dependent elders.

Conversation overheard in the queue at the supermarket checkout on the weekend, between two female members of the post-modern / deconstruction / tech savvy / media savvy / communications-expert generation:

Savvy lass one: I read that Princess Mary wants to divorce her husband.

[Explanatory note: Princess Mary is married to Prince Frederick of Denmark, and she is due to give birth to their second and spare heir sometime within the next several weeks.]

Action: Savvy lass one identifies the evidentiary magazine on the stand at the check out, pouncing on it to show her friend.

Savvy lass one: Look here it is; it says her marriage is in a crisis and she’s going to get a divorce.

[Explanatory note: the cover headline did say “Mary’s Marriage Crisis”.]

Savvy lass two: So that probably means she’s not getting a divorce.

Savvy lass one: It sounds true.

She replied blandly, yet with a level of unchallengeable confidence and faith, as if she knew the intimate mind of royal brides, via a weekly trash mag.

Savvy lass one, having thus assured Savvy (and unbelieving) lass two of the truth of the story then went on, blithely, to explain to her friend that if Mary divorced Frederick she wouldn’t get to keep the children. This fact did not seem to deter lass one from her conviction that a soon-to-give-birth Mary was about to chuck hubby and children away, and that this was a plausible and probable turn of events. After all, the magazine told her so.

Ah, bless the post-modern deconstruction media and communication savvy generations.


If nothing else, they’re good for a snirtle.

February 11, 2007

Meddling

"Prime Minister John Howard has launched a broadside against US presidential hopeful Barack Obama, warning his victory could destroy Iraq and prospects for peace in the Middle East."
'Cause, you know, there's so much of Iraq that hasn't been destroyed yet, and the prospect of peace breaking-out across the Middle East is lurking a mere hop, step and a jump around the corner.

Our PM isn't known for being good at shooting from the hip.

He still isn't.

Story ...

Update: If it wasn’t bad enough that our jolly PM decided to share his free speech in regard to American presidential hopefuls – and let’s not forget that neither the GOP nor the Dem’s have held their primaries to determine who their respective and actual presidential nominees will be – in jumps our Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, insisting that in a free world, “You won't get anywhere trying to close down debate." Which might be a point with a modicum of validity, if only PM Howard had initiated, from across the seas, a debate with Senator Obama, or anyone else.

Instead of a debate, PM Howard asserted that:

“Al-Qaeda would be praying for a Democratic win at the 2008 US presidential elections because one of the Democratic hopefuls”

Which is a lie, on the part of The Age (see previous link, above), since PM Howard specifically singled out Senator Obama, who is but one of the Democratic candidates.

In a touché that would have mortally wounded smaller Prime Ministers and politicians, Senator Obama was stinging and succinct in his response:

"I would also note that we have close to 140,000 troops in Iraq, and my understanding is Mr Howard has deployed 1,400, so if he is . . . to fight the good fight in Iraq, I would suggest that he calls up another 20,000 Australians and sends them to Iraq,"

On behalf of the Australian government, Foreign Minister Downer offered this poncy and pathetic rejoinder:

"That would be half of our army. Australia is a much smaller country than the United States and so he might like to weigh that up,"

Yeah, sure, Senator Obama might like to weight that up, if only he hadn’t already, and obviously, done a full mental and mathematical weigh-up.

On the other hand, maybe the politicians running our country might like to start weighing-up their words and foreign relations skills a more carefully.

If not, then at least they should put a sock in it.
They should be mortified.

Update II: Sorry about the half-missing update ... it's not that the post was meant to be half naked, it's Blogger playing funny buggers.

Long Bets

"By the year 2050, there will be at least 1 green autotrophic person on the Earth..."

In time, we'll understand that killing animals for nutrition is no different than slavery or colonization. We'll be ashamed of our past. The next step of this will be to become autotrophic. We'll figure out that killing plants is also a sin! And as our technology allows it, we'll start injecting chlorophylls into our body and just like plants, we'll start producing our energy by ourselves and working with the solar power. This will allow us to stay alive without killing any living and this will be very cool!

"Evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence within the solar system will be confirmed before evidence from several light-years away."

I am betting that extraterrestrial (non-Earth) intelligence, in one form or another, has already reached our solar system and will be confirmed first.

"By the year 2150, over 50% of schools in the USA or Western Europe will require classes in defending against robot attacks."

I predict robots with AI will inevitably be uncontrollable and over power their human masters. Schooling and education is what the children of the future need to fend off these super human robots. Therefore, many schools will offer if not require training in robot fighting. The first wave of these schools to offer the class will be around 2120.

"Downtown American cities in two hundred years will look pretty much as they do now."

The information revolution is not going to mess much with the atoms in our city; it will re-arrange our work, our relationships, and our identities, and animate the inanimate in the city. But standing downtown, you'll see what you see now.

"By 2025 at least 50% of all U.S. citizens residing within the United States will have some form of technology embedded in their bodies for the purpose of tracking and identification."

Despite our outward social and technological advancements, even evolutions, we are still driven by the eon old concepts of survival and protection. This is, as it has always been and always will be, human nature. Combine these driving forces with technology and a revenue-driven industrial complex ? mix with a healthy dose of fear (both real and manufactured) and a bleaker reality emerges.

"The concept of time as a linear dimension will be replaced by one of time as a polarity between content and context."

Reality is energy recording information. As the amount of energy remains the same, old information is erased as new is recorded. What exists is the energy and the information that is currently recorded. We are not simply at a point on a line because past and future do not exist, except as they pertain to what is present.

Absolute zero is the absence of motion. No mass, no energy, no past, no future.
Just empty space.

"The Long Bets Foundation will no longer exist in 2104."

Some cataclysmic event will wipe us out in the next 100 years.

Whatever the cause, human society will go the way of the dinosaurs. There will be no more Internet.

One Wonder

There is only one of the Seven Wonders of the World left, and even it is potentially facing the utter indignity of being voted off the one-wonder list as web users cast their vote for a new list of seven wonders.

The remaining ancient wonder of the world is Egypt's Pyramids at Giza.

The largest and oldest of the three, the Great Pyramid, was built for the pharaoh Khufu (called Cheops by the Greeks) in the 26th century BC. That makes it 2,000 years older than any other wonder on the list. The Great Pyramid climbs more than 450 feet (138 meters) into the sky. It was the tallest structure on Earth for almost 4,000 years, until European cathedrals started reaching for heaven. It's made up of about 2.3 million massive blocks of stone, weighing perhaps 6 million tons all told. Some have described it as the most colossal single building ever erected on the planet.

The six lost wonders of the world were:

Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Bible readers know Nebuchadnezzar II as the king who, in 587 BC, destroyed the Temple of Jerusalem and forced the Jews into exile in Babylonia. But ancient tourists knew him as the man behind Babylon's Hanging Gardens. Built around 600 BC, the gardens grew on the roof of a terraced structure within his palace walls, irrigated by pumps that drew water up from the Euphrates. Today, Babylon is a ruin near Baghdad, and no definitive trace of the gardens has ever been found.

Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

The Ephesians erected their great temple for Apollo's twin sister Artemis around 550 BC. They built it a second time in 356 BC, after a terrorist bent on fame set it ablaze. Located in today's Turkey, across the Aegean Sea from Athens, the temple drew many Greeks bearing gifts. They marveled at its size, about the size of a football field surrounded by marble, with the inside filled with art. Little remains of the temple today, just fragments at the site and in museums.

Statue of Zeus at Olympia

In 435 BC, the famed Greek sculptor Phidias was pounding the last plates of gold and ivory into place on a 40-foot (12-meter) statue of Zeus, seated on a cedarwood throne. No one knows what became of the thunder god's likeness, but the workshop Phidias used to make it was found.

Mausoleum of Halicarnassus

South of Ephesus, at Halicarnassus, ruled Mausolus, a Persian satrap who admired the Greek way of life. When Mausolus died in 353 BC, his sister-widow-queen, Artemisia, built him the most opulent Greek tomb around. It was 135 feet (40 meters) tall, adorned on every side with sculpture, and capped with a pyramidal roof. An earthquake brought the tomb down in medieval times, and Mausolus's memory now survives mainly in the word mausoleum.

Colossus of Rhodes

On the Greek island of Rhodes in the Mediterranean Sea an army had besieged the island's capital. Rhodes resisted for a year, and the army left. So the Rhodians reforged the army's abandoned bronze and iron weapons and sold its siege equipment to make a colossus: a 110-foot (34-meter) statue of the sun god Helios. By 280 BC, it stood tall on a marble pedestal near the harbor, until an earthquake toppled it just 56 years later.

Lighthouse of Alexandria

In Alexandria's harbor, on a small island named Pharos, stood the original lighthouse. It was made around the same time as Rhodes's statue, but dwarfed it. It stood 384 feet (117 meters) high, or more. Fires burned at the top at night, and bronze mirrors reflected sunlight during the day. It stood until the 14th century, when earthquakes ruined it, too.

Cast your vote for a new, and we presume temporary, Seven Wonders of the World, from the list of 21 nominees.

No hurry though, you have another 146 days before voting closes.

February 10, 2007

Girly Men

On the runway recently Thom Browne offered up his latest collection for men.

You'll need to click the link in the first line of the post for the pop-up window (you can "skip the ad") for a selection of photos from this adventurous outing.

What struck me was not how silly men might feel going to the office without trousers, yet with a nice silver train; or sans trousers but with a lovely pair of ribbed over the knee socks to go with their jacket and tie; or perhaps a fairy cape and matching fairy trousers for a night out to the theatre; nothing so practical or self-conscious crossed my little mind.

All I could think was that these are precisely the stylistic creations that are made for and draped on women - not just on the runway - and remarkably, no one laughs, least of all women.

Whatever the blogger and the commenters on that post may think, I'm rather inclined to believe that Thom is poking a bit of fun at the absurdity of women's couture as well as the ready-to-wear. He is almost hinting and winking, perhaps subliminally: "Ha! Men can look as stupid as women. So there!" And what a superb, beautifully crafted, job he does of it too.

SOS Concert

You can stop worrying now: a humungous concert, generating unquantified volumes of carbon, methane, noise pollution, rubbish destined for landfill, millions of miles of newsprint copy, frightening numbers of unkempt concerned citizens, and copious sound-bites on the evening news, is going to be held so that everyone will think about the subject of climate change.

You won’t need to donate money. You can pledge to do something nice for the planet, like suppressing farts for two months, or only drinking bottled water, or switching off your big screen teevee – but not while the concert is on.

Beaut hey?

Everyone singing and dancing to save the planet.

And you don’t have to do any thinking until the concert starts.

February 9, 2007

Duh

A few hours after the death of Anna Nicole Smith a commentator on CNN said:

"This is certainly an unexpected and very tragic turn of events for Anna Nicole Smith.”

Sure, being dead is a tragic turn of events for most people, I’d guess, if only they knew.

Duck Friday

February 7, 2007

Oh Bill

Bill Gates has great faith in the Russian legal system, and equally great faith in the robust and ethical nature of Russia’s commercial enterprises.

Even Mikhail Gorbachev could not persuade Bill to come to the aid of a Russian school principal charged with software piracy.

Seems that Aleksandr Ponosov went out and purchased computers for his school, as you do, which already had unauthorized Windows software installed. Now he is potentially looking at time in Siberia.

Bill doesn’t care.

Praising Russia’s enforcement of intellectual property rights, Microsoft sought to distance itself from the prosecution in a statement issued by its public relations agency in London.

“Mr. Ponosov’s case is a criminal case and as such was initiated and investigated by the public prosecutor’s office in Russia,” said Microsoft, whose European operations are based in Paris. “We are sure that the Russian courts will make a fair decision.”

“We do respect the Russian government’s position on the importance of protecting intellectual property rights.”

Even President Vladimir Putin has condemned this prosecution – during his annual news conference, no less.

Not Bill.

Bad form Bill, very bad form.

February 5, 2007

Every freckled son?

Everyone's son was once a school boy, cute or not, freckled or not, including Terry Hick's son, David, last known residence: Guantanamo Bay; last known work and hobby: aspirational terrorist; who, being well pleased with the events of 9/11 2001, hot-footed it back to Afghanistan to do - well, who knows what he imagined he was doing, but he pursued it with a clear and present mind and an unconfused commitment. The volitional actions of a grown man.

I'm perplexed at the "Team Hicks" advertising campaign, in particular the manipulative use of a photograph of David Hicks as a pint-sized freckled school boy, as if youth and freckles have clung to him, along with inherent childish innocence.

The man over in Guantanamo Bay is not a child. Therein lies the problem.

The stated goal is to humanize David Hicks. Of course, that's neither the overt nor covert goal. The goal here is to infantilize David Hicks, as someone's perennial little boy; too young to distinguish right from wrong, or games from real life; being bullied by the US and Australian governments, and in need of a cuddle and a home cooked meal from Mum and Dad.

I'm even more perplexed by the voice over for this advertising extravaganza - an expensive and professionally designed effort - which has Terry Hicks stating, as he always has:

"if he's done wrong he should have to face the consequences"

Note the persistent modifying "if" . The Hicks family have stood by their son; good for them, so they should, but Hicks senior has always taken great care to never give an inch about guilt, being, instead, derisive and dismissive of all allegations, and now, the actual charges against his son. Playing fast and loose with feigned ignorance, Terry Hicks has already flipped away the charge of "aiding the enemy", as, perhaps, his son operating a photocopy machine for terrorists. We, the reader are left to insert our own hearty snort of derision at the silliness of the 'aiding the enemy' charge, as if we too believe that it might actually relate to nothing more than photocopying the weekly coffee-run-roster.

Note the ethical stance that his son should "face the consequences" (notwithstanding the continual undermining of the validity of any charges, and therefore, any probability of guilt). This is the ethical front, without any moral follow-through, given that Hicks senior has always wanted his son bought home, in full knowledge that Hicks junior would, therefore, avoid both a trial and consequences. There are no laws in Australia under which Hicks could be charge if bought back. There are no laws under which the government could restrict his activities or movements, or in anyway impede his immediate and indefinite return to normal everyday life - or as normal as it could be, all things considered.

In a peculiar conflation that only the would of advertising can summon at will, the Hicks senior's voice-over reaches its penultimate point with:

"but I'm sure that the Guantanamo trials have been created by politicians to do one thing: guarantee convictions."

"I'm sure" ... "created by politicians" ... "guarantee convictions"

A vacuous assertion - "I'm sure" – coupled with the implicit and repeated implication of actual innocence, that is, only innocent men would need to be subject of trials "guaranteed" to bring about convictions.

"Created by politicians" is almost delicious in disingenuousness. Three little words, ah yes, we all know the diabolical and unfair things that politicians inflict on the citizenry - lower than a snakes belly, always at the bottom of the list for professions we trust. Who else, pray tell, has authority to "create" trials in democratic countries? Oh, that's right: no one. Only parliaments can create the laws, ipso facto, yes, the laws were and could only have been created by politicians - yet this factual statement carries the full weight of the sinister and conspiratorial intentions. Except that it's a little askew, isn't it? There have been no trials, yet, and politicians don't create trials - they write legislation and create laws, which may or may not result in people facing charges and being tried. By using "trial", instead of "laws", the statement becomes false, but serves the far more useful purpose of carrying the specter of witch-hunts and Kafka-squire turns of events, that could, at a pinch, be turned against any one of us innocents. Politicians making laws is one thing, but politicians creating trials is beyond the pail. None of us wants, after all, to be randomly subject to a trial.

Freckled school boy ... innocent man ... cloak & dagger trials ... created by politicians ... injustice guaranteed.

The whole thing is clever and simple; very clever and very simple.

The final request in the advertisment is to bring the freckled nine year old lad home.

The final request is not about guilt or innocence, or justice, or whether Hicks junior is going to be a good Australian citizen and contribute in some valuable way to society upon his return - or perhaps skip on back to primary school. It's a plaintive parental wish, with no strings, no admissions, no qualifiers. The little lad is still nine years old. He should be safe and sound with Mum & Dad.

Deconstruction of this manipulative and cleverly simple campaign is not difficult. Deconstruction of why Australian politicians and the public believe this a compelling case upon which the "fair go" can and should be exercised is more difficult, and far more important, as it scratches the surface of how far we will give and bend and forgive - even our own - when it comes to terrorism. If the greatest future threat is home grown terrorists - and that is the case - how far are we prepared to let little Aussie lads push the envelope?

This is where the rubber hits the road, and Australians are being asked to act as judge and jury to determine whether – with time already served in detention – David Hicks should be handed a get out of jail free card.

We’re being asked to take sides: you’re either for or against the Aussie “fair go”, as if a beloved cliche is on trial, rather than a man who enthusiastically took to the road to become a terrorist.

It’s a strange request to have to answer, for any country.

February 4, 2007

Chlamydoselachus anguineus

An unhappy frilled shark.

Running into a frilled shark is rare, given that they normally lurk at depths of a few hundred or a few thousand feet. This frilled specimen was probably unwell, which would explain her short lived capture and appearance at Japan's Awashima Marine Park last week.

See a pretty frilled one in swimming action at YouTube.

A close up specimen.

Personally, I find those sex-assisting claspers a tad too kinky.

Ain’t love grand?

Nearly ten years after leaving an Oklahoma jail ahead of his scheduled exit - taking the deputy warden’s wife with him for company - an escaped murderer, along with the warden’s wife, were found safe and sound living in a trailer park – of course. That was back in 2005.

After all those years the escapee was unable to remember if he had kidnapped the deputy-warden’s wife, or if she had, alternatively, aided him with his escape.

No matter, Randolph F. Dial has been sentenced to more years in jail.

Meanwhile, the then deputy-warden, Mr. Parker's career prospects did not miss a beat, and he is now facility security operations director for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.

As so commonly happens in cases such as this, Mr Parker's wife promptly returned to his side at the cessation of her ten years of contented living with an escaped murderer.

Mr Parker “dismissed the [Dial’s] account as a fabrication. Mr. Parker said he believed his wife’s account that she had been abducted and held against her will in fear of Mr. Dial’s underworld connections.”

Maybe I should have saved this for Valentine’s Day.

February 3, 2007

Last rites, last straw

The last act of capital punishment in Australia was carried out in Melbourne on February 03, 1967.

Ronald Ryan was convicted of killing a prison guard during an attempted escape. He was hanged. The circumstances around his conviction and subsequent execution are still touted as “controversial”. I have no idea why. The adjective is applied to almost every criminal conviction anywhere on the planet, and certainly every execution. Even the predictable and pedestrian recent hanging of Saddam Hussein was hyper-controversial; apparently because it could have all been carried out in a much nicer manner, with a friendlier team of hangmen.

Ronald Ryan’s remains within the grounds of Pentridge prison have been found – phew, that’s a weight off my mind. And now found, a rose garden is to be built, either in his honor, or in honor of him being the last murdering bastard to be killed by the state, or in honor of ourselves, for being so civilized for getting out of the execution business.

"A garden will be created in the area where Ryan was buried and remains today. This is only fitting in a society that has denounced capital punishment as an improper means of achieving justice."

I cannot begin to fathom that I could or would ever venture to a rose garden memorial for a murderer. What, exactly, is it intended that members of the public should contemplate standing at this mans grave - at what will become a tax payer funded rose garden?

February 2, 2007

Ode to Pink

Baa, baa, baa, baa.

Duck Friday

If you squint you can count the number of duckies that were racing down the Yarra River on Australia Day.

They looked a lot like this.

Via The Herald Sun, January 27, 2007