August 30, 2006

Duh Report

A growing cadre of academics – yes, that would be a cadre of them - studying how movies are made, financed and distributed, are finding that the studio’s assumption that big stars will increase a movie’s bottom line is simply wrong.

“There is no statistical correlation between stars and success”

Once other factors influencing the success of a film were considered, a star had no impact on its rate of return. Employing a star had virtually no discernible impact on the box office itself.


“Looking across a sample of more than 2,000 movies exhibited between 1985 and 1996, they found that only seven actors and actresses — Tom Hanks, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sandra Bullock, Jodie Foster, Jim Carrey, Barbra Streisand and Robin Williams — had a positive impact on the box office, mostly in the first few weeks of a film’s release.”

(Hello? Where is Julia Roberts hiding when you want to give a Duh Report?)

Update: Speaking of Julia Roberts, she of the proudly hairy armpits: seems Ms Roberts has an increasing number of hairy hygiene habits that the rest of us tend to eschew. She recently discussed how she hates washing her hair, and likes to stretch a salon done hair-doo to the very limits of decency and humanity. “After he does my hair, I won’t do anything to it for two weeks,” she gushed. “I can go a good 10 days before it gets greasy.” Or smelly, or messy, or dandruffy, or plain eeeewwwwy.

Business as usual in IT la la land

First, some bright spark decided that the best way to encourage women into the IT industry was by producing a calendar of near-naked IT women, approximating scenes from well known films.

Second, some bright spark decided that the IT women didn’t necessarily need to be of appropriate age or demure for their film scene appropriation.

Third, some bright spark decided to follow BAU IT project methodology: go over time and over budget to do half-arsed job, hand out achievement awards for outstanding effort, cover largest arse’s liberally with bonuses and promotions, wait until client complaints start rolling in, spend 18 months and triple the original budget to do it right, act astonished when decades-old global best practice standards are pointed out, lay claim to “thought leadership” for implementing the bleedin’ obvious, hand out achievement awards for …

Yes, the calendar girls managed to produce a 15 month calendar with the wrong days for the months of May and October.

(And next up will be a calendar of random naked men, to encourage other men into becoming primary school teachers and child care workers.)

Google Gadgets

Google have new desktop gadgets.

The plug-ins are the real attraction though.

I don’t know where I was before I had the Indian railway schedules so readily available. Others will be more attracted to the random chicken cartoons, or the Ticker for Trekkers.

By popular demand!

Okay, that’s a gross exaggeration … only demanded by one person, and even then it was a passing and innocent suggestion, rather than a demand, and no threats were made, but James is very popular at his local 7/11 store, so we’d best just cooperate.


Serves 4

Degree of difficulty: Medium (if trying to do this with a half-pike turn with a triple twist at the end, degree of difficulty increases to “high”. Probability of injury increases to “very high”.)

Preparation Time: 25 mins

Cooking Time: 1 hour

1.5kg lamb leg or hind quarter of capretto
(Capretto is meat from very young, milk fed goats between 4 and 8 weeks of age.)
100gm pancetta or smoky bacon
18 button mushrooms
12 baby potatoes
12 pickling onions
12 cloves of garlic
2 cups dry white wine
Juice of 2 oranges
3tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper
Bouquet garni: sprig of rosemary, 3 sprigs of parsley and celery leaves – tied in a parcel

Heat 2 tbsps of oil in a large, heavy ovenproof casserole. Braise onions and potatoes.
Remove onions and potatoes and lightly saute mushrooms.
Remove mushrooms and fry lamb/capretto until golden.
Remove lamb/capretto and saute garlic and pancetta for 1 minute in remaining oil.
Pour in wine and orange juice. Allow to simmer for 1 minute.
Place lamb in centre of pot and arrange onions and potatoes around. Add bouquet garni. Season with salt and pepper.
Put lid on pot and place in a pre-heated oven at 190 C. and cook for forty minutes.
Return mushrooms to pot and cook for a further 20 minutes.
Remove meat, potatoes, onions and mushrooms. Discard bouquet garni.
Crush garlic and reduce sauce on cooktop.

Serving Suggestion
Slice lamb or capretto and place on a platter. Arrange the onions, potatoes and mushrooms around the meat. Pour sauce over. Serve at table – or at muffet, or at couch in front of teevee.

August 28, 2006

Safe Dress

You won't have to look like THIS anymore.
"Instead of being dressed to kill, you can be dressed to not be killed by Miguel Caballero, the self-described ‘Armani of bulletproof clothing."
Not many people can get away with a marketing line like that one.

Personally, I'm looking forward to the new line of bulletproof women's wear, from evening gowns to blouses.

Style statement bullet proof clothing.

Perhaps a little less stylish and a little more obvious, but you can never go past an ensemble of tactical armor.

And the Euro Spyshop has a bit of everything, from gas masks, to smart bullet proof attache bags, to lovely gloves to ensure you don't slip when roping out windows, and equally nice gloves to wear when playing with knives, as well as all things bulletproof and all things for that little extra peace of mind that comes from carrying personal protection. You'll be able to find something special for even the pickiest family member.

August 27, 2006

Calibre of Prisoners at all time low

You know things are crook when a crook declares that they want to stay out of jail because the company isn’t up to scratch, and that the pride one used to be able to take in a jail-term-served-well has lost its gloss.

Recently released prisoner, Danielle Sinclair, is putting a successful career in theft and drug crime behind her. We only know of this remarkable personal change in direction as Sinclair wasted no time in picking up a few honest dollars selling irrelevant tid-bits about another prisoner to our local daily tabloid.

“Sinclair has no plans to go back. Jail is no longer the badge of honour it once was.

"Jail never used to bother me, it was just an occupational hazard," Sinclair said. "But I can't believe the calibre of prisoner coming in now."

See, it’s not only your work place that has pathetic recruitment processes. The prolonged job-skills shortage means that every profession is suffering.

Genus Capra

Forget cats (oh, please, can we forget cats!), forget ducks, now we're going to be upstaged by a deliriously creative fellow Melbournian with GOAT Friday, and he is taking a unique approach. (Actually, I reckon he can't find roooly cool goat pictures ... like goats with goldfish, or goats with kittens, or goats flying, or goats with cute fluffy butts.)

On ya Jacob!

Applied Hermeneutics
(yeah, yeah, even some Aussie bloggers just can't stop themselves from having a pretentious blog name)

August 25, 2006

And then there were eight ...

There are now eight planets, which, in case you've lost count, is one less planet than you've been told all your life, and four fewer planets than was proposed last week.

The only planets are Mercury (the smallest), Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.

Pluto, Ceres and Xena (2003 UB313) are all "dwarf planets”. Charon remains a satellite.

Pluto has won official recognition as "the prototype of a new category of trans-Neptunian objects”, and while the the crack IAU committee did recommend that these objects be called "plutons," geologists protested that they already use that word--it's a kind of rock formation. "Whoops," said the astronomers. So, for now the new plutonic category lacks a nifty name.

As for "trans-Neptunian objects" that aren't round like 2003 UB313, or asteroids other than Ceres, or other assorted hunks in space, the IAU has ruled that these objects--things that orbit the sun, that aren't satellites, and that don't qualify either as "planets" or "dwarf planets"--are officially, and none too poetically, named "small solar-system bodies."

I’m glad we got all that sorted before the weekend.

Honey I Shrunk the Solar System

Duck Friday

Duck Friday is looking a little fishy - yes, there is a duck in there.

August 23, 2006

Venomous Fish Unappreciated

A stargazer fish.

We don’t know everything under the sun, not by a long way.

Each year biologists find 200 to 300 new fish species.

Our knowledge of venomous fish is woeful. American scientist Dr Smith contends that venemous fish are:

“undercounted, misunderstood and sadly unappreciated — an untapped resource for “bioprospecting” to find drugs among their thousands of venoms.”

It was previously thought that there were 200 species of venomous fish, but Dr. Smith and Ward C. Wheeler now suggest that there are at least 1,200 – all previously known species, but never identified as being venomous. Dr. Smith said. “With very few exceptions, everything we thought was wrong.” Life’s like that, why would fish be any different?

For the interested or ignorant: a quick course in ichthyology.

August 22, 2006

Sensitive and Tasteful

This could catch on: firing *surplus* staff and paying your outsourced *transition* provider to give the former-staff members helpful hints on how to save money, such as not being shy about pulling things you like out of trash cans, begging, erm, asking friends and family for hand-me-down toys and clothes for the kids, taking shorter showers, using old newspapers for kitty litter, putting money aside in a piggy bank in anticipation of the day you no longer have a wage – oh, and circle that special day on the calendar to remind you of exactly when you will need to start the family dumpster runs!

Yes, these suggestions, and more, were provided to laid-off workers at a US airline. Hell, they almost make it sound fun, don't they!

Other condescending commentary includes patting yourself on the back if you already have emergency savings – for times such as this – and if not, what a great incentive and reminder of what a beaut idea it is to have said emergency savings! They go on to suggest that this is the perfect motivational moment for the newly unemployed to commence their emergency savings by asking their employer to deduct money from each pay packet. Um, now which employer would that be?

The 101 quick tips on how to save money would lift the spirits of newly redundant staff everywhere.

Yes, the world owes the HR *profession* a monumental debt of gratitude.

August 21, 2006

"Cool" Websites

Time Magazine and CNN have put together a list of top 50 "cool" websites. That seems to be a rather subjective and singular criterion.

I haven't looked at any of them yet.

Knock yourself out - let me know if there's anything worth checking out and don't try to tell me I never give you any homework!

All that glisters is Porsche

The town of Pforzheim in south-west Germany is home to the first Gold-plated Porsche. The steering wheel, door knobs to the car, body and alloy rims, are all gold plated.

Nine more Porsche Models will be transformed into jewelry through the same process.

I might hold out for the diamond Porsche ... but that gold one is very pretty.

Via – Gush Magazine

Update: while I wait for my diamond Porsche I can make do with a $US1.3M diamond encrusted mobile phone. So, so pretty.

August 20, 2006

James splutters back into existence

OMG!!! James Waterton, lately of Samizdata fame, and previously of The Daily Constitutional fame, is attempting to be the first man alive to overcome writers block by ... “splutter” ... blogging.

Yes, James is back, blocked, and in need of prunes.

Let’s all do our little bit to heckle and take photographs.

Cheers James! Good to have you back where you belong.

And, uh, you know, good luck with the blockage and everything. Sending some triple ply Sorbent your way, just in case the blogging cure works.

August 18, 2006

Duck Friday

Fluffy Duck

Advocaat1/2 oz.
Cointreau 1/2 oz
Gin1 oz
Cream1 oz
Orange Juice1 oz
Lemonade – to fill

Mixing instructions: Half-fill a cocktail glass with ice. Pour in the Advocaat, Gin, Cointreau, orange juice. and cream, top up with lemonade. Can also go the whole duck and use a highball glass.

Garnish: Orange slice and cherry if desired.

August 17, 2006

Yeah – gelatin substances safe to take on planes!

Airport security should stop adding to the never-ending exclusions list, and go the simpler and quicker path of developing an inclusions list – a much shorter beast, it would seem.

We have already identified the first officially safe items to take onto a plane: matches and gelatin-like substances (which must be a huge relief to flight catering firms across the world, as well as pyromaniacs).

"Her carry-on bags subsequently were searched and matches were found in the bag as well as a gelatin-like substance but those items were not deemed to have any terrorist connection or pose a threat to the aircraft," Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney told a news conference."

Latest flight drama.

August 15, 2006

Blogging with the Iranian President

Perhaps this will catch on with other country leaders: Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has celebrated the ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon by launching his own blog. As you do.

His first online poll question, the results for which are running neck and neck, is: Do you think that the US and Israeli intention and goal by attacking Lebanon is pulling the trigger for another word war?

Whenever feel like dropping Ahmadinejad a note, or just to say g’day – now you can.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's blog.

[Little flags in the upper right side of the page – second flag from the left is for English text.]

August 14, 2006

Slow fuse for long flight

"A British Airways flight from London to New York turned around mid-flight and returned to London's Heathrow airport after a mobile phone started ringing, the airline said."

"The captain assessed the situation with the BA security team at Heathrow and it was decided that it was safe to continue. However, the captain decided to return to Heathrow as a precaution."
The captain was obviously counting on a really slow or really long bomb fuse.

Logic and rationality have been lost to us. The terrorists are winning.

(Okay, we knew that when airport security in the UK started emptying out shampoo bottles and other supposedly potential liquid bombs into vats in the middle of an airport packed with thousands of travellers.)

Parliamentary standards lifted

Top - a common drongo bird; middle - a pork chop; bottom - an Australian politician.

The President of the Senate has ruled that our political representatives may call each other a pork chop, or a drongo, or both. The ruling came after some Senators asked for a retraction of the unfortunate name-calling. Pork chop and drongo are now officially within the parliamentary standing orders.

Simply not the best

Telstra chief Sol Trujillo has admitted running the once blue-chip telco is not the best job he has had.”

That’s okay Sol: we admit that you’re not the best CEO we’ve ever had.

August 13, 2006

Dumb, Dumber, Dumbest

First we had Paris Hilton declaring that she had always wanted to grow up to be an “icon”, and in particular, a “blonde icon”. Nothing wrong with that.

Lots of little kiddies aspire to becoming an image; or a representation or picture of a sacred or sanctified Christian personage; or an important and enduring symbol; or one who is the object of great attention and devotion; an idol.

Now we have Lindsay Lohan threatening to go to Iraq to entertain American troops. Like Paris, she too is taking her cues from Marilyn Monroe, who entertained the troops in Korea during the 1950s. Lindsay revealed that she had wanted to grow up to be a “pinup”. Nothing wrong with that.

Lots of little kiddies aspire to becoming a picture, especially of a sexually attractive person, that is displayed on a wall; or person considered a suitable model for such a picture; or something intended to be affixed to a wall; suitable for a pinup; or designed to be attached to a wall.

So many walls in the world, all crying out for something to be affixed to them. The world can’t have too many pinups.

Lindsay is no ditzy blonde, that’s for sure, and she and her body guard (singular) are diligently applying themselves to their preparations for a possible trip to Iraq.

"I'm not afraid of going," she said. "My security guard is going to take me to a gun range when I get back to L.A., and I'm going to start taking shooting lessons. He says if I'm going to go there I should know how to shoot."

Yes, because the very first thing the American military will do as she and her bodyguard step off a plane in Iraq will be to hand them each some firearms. That always happens.

Given her inability to show up on time, or at all, for filming schedules, it’s questionable whether Lindsay would be much suited for turning up on time to shoot insurgents.

Still, one has to admire how close she has come to attaining her ambition:

"I wanted to do what Marilyn Monroe did, when she went and just set up a stage and did a concert for the troops by herself," Lohan said. "It's so amazing seeing one woman just going somewhere, this beautiful sex kitten, who's basically a pinup, which is what I've always aspired to be."

I think we should all get behind Lindsay’s wish to be pinned to a wall.

Meanwhile, singer Justin Timberlake has been shocked to the very core of his being during a trip to charity-hot-spot Africa with girlfriend Cameron Diaz.

“We arrived in this village and people were celebrating. We weren’t sure why they were celebrating,” he said.

“First we thought they might have recognized us, but we were humbled to find out they hadn’t a clue who we were,” he said.

“They were celebrating because they finally had a well with drinking water.” (via MX, Melbourne commuter newspaper, August 9, 2006)

Don’t worry Justin, now that they have drinking water, MTV can’t be too far behind, and a gigantic cinema complex will spring up right next to the town well. Personally, I’m sending the village an annual subscription to Who magazine, so they can keep up to date with everything that's important in the world as they sit around the camp fire.

Bored people are ... well, really boring

Helen Kirwan-Taylor is a 42-year-old writer, lives in Notting Hill, West London, with her husband and their sons Constantin, 12, and Ivan, 10.

She first discovered her total boredom with her own children before her eldest child was even 10 months old, assiduously avoiding all childhood activities, and in the fortunate position of being able to delegate everything from visits to the park, bedtime stories, and party attendance to the nanny.

“I confess that I was probably ogling the merchandise at Harvey Nichols or having my highlights done instead. Of course I love my children as much as any mother, but the truth is I found such events so boring that I made up any excuse.”

No dear, you don’t love your children as much as any mother, but you do seem to prefer ogling merchandise a tad more than other mothers might, and should have stuck with that as a hobby, instead of breeding.

“To be honest, I spent much of the early years of my children's lives in a workaholic frenzy because the thought of spending time with them was more stressful than any journalistic assignment I could imagine.”

Many other mothers spend their time in a workaholic frenzy because they have no choice, and they do it specifically for their children, not so as to avoid their children.

“I know this is one of the last taboos of modern society. To admit that you, a mother of the new millennium, don't find your offspring thoroughly fascinating and enjoyable at all times is a state of affairs very few women are prepared to admit. We feel ashamed, and unfit to be mothers.”

What’s with the manipulative “we” bit, ‘ey? Trying to drag every other mother into your narcissistic circle, laying claim to some supposed last taboo carefully hidden by all the women of the world?

Mrs Kirwan-Taylor is pleased at being able to find support amongst her friends:

“Her solution was to avoid subjugating her own life to that of her children's. 'I'm certainly not traipsing around museums or sitting on the floor doing Lego if that's what you mean by being at home,' she explains. 'I'm loving it, but my children fit into my life and not the other way around.”

And there we have the makings of excellent advice: when deciding whether to have a child, like buying a new dining setting, it really must be carefully chosen so as to fit perfectly with the existing décor.

Mrs Kirwan-Taylor is even more delighted at finding professional support:

“All us bored mothers can take comfort from the fact that our children may yet turn out to be more balanced than those who are love-bombed from the day they are born.

Research increasingly shows that child-centred parenting is creating a generation of narcissistic children who cannot function independently.”

No sireee, those little kiddies will never have the grand opportunity of becoming narcissistic, not when mum has appropriated the overflowing bowl of narcissism all for herself, along with a swimming pool sized serving of smug pretension.

Two lovely little lads try not to look bored at having to sit with their mum for 30 seconds.

Other reactions in the UK here and here.

I don't think I would object to this woman so thoroughly if not for the fact that she seems so dreadfully proud of being bored to death by her own children: she seems convinced that this is an achievement of some sort, a reflection of her superior existence.

August 11, 2006

Duck Friday

Pic by Drunka. This is the Drunka-wife’s favorite duck. The cute little butt-fan reminds her of Drunka-husband. [Waaaaay, too much information.]


Breaking News … Breaking News … Breaking News


“Hmmm... I thought, Duck Friday tomorrow (and had a bit of a chuckle to myself)”

Displaying all the pluck that we’ve grown to love and fall-about-laughing over, our very own Kath has risked life and limb to save a family of ducks in the wilds of Sydney.

While her timing could have been better, that is, it would have been clever if her mission had occurred, in fact, on a Duck Friday™, near enough is damned good enough in our books!

In her very own words, this is how events unfolded on Thursday, and the quick-thinking (see, I told you she was sober) derring-doo actions of the brave Kath:

“Went out to the mailbox and noticed the traffic slowing down somewhat. Upon further investigation I noticed a family of mountain ducks camped in the middle of the road. The drake was honking rather loudly. The hen was also honking (probably castigating the silly drake). They had three teeny cute ducklings. I wouldn't mind betting that there had been more ducklings... but considering the silly drake's road sense......

Anyway I was having kittens (Cube oughta get a kick out of that) thinking that very soon the duck family would be no more. So I ventured onto the road and ushered the family safely across to the other side.

The drake seemed rather miffed, the ungrateful bastard, and honked even louder. However I felt much relieved that the duck family were now safe!!!!!

Hmmm... I thought, Duck Friday tomorrow (and had a bit of a chuckle to myself).”

On this very special Duck Friday ™ we raise our glasses to Kath the duck savior!!!!!!!!

August 10, 2006

We want synchronized men!

While the war/s in the Middle East know no bounds, the war for equality languishes like so many limp wrists and wet spangles.

After decades of lobbying, men are still being denied the right to participate and represent their country in synchronized swimming competitions.

No amount of stage makeup, sponsored headwear topiary or free Speedos can cover up this ugly discrimination.

“Men have never done synchronized swimming in a sanctioned competition in this country. Officially, it's got, like, a zero acceptance rate.”

Gerald (played by Harry Shearer), on ``Saturday Night Live'' in 1984.

“The free routine's all about creativity. We have some bathing suits and glitter, props and things.”

Bob Wheeler, founding member of the synchronized swim team at San Francisco Tsunami Swim Club.

August 7, 2006

The great cover up

An un-attributed editorial in The New York Times expressed near breathtaking astonishment at finding out that leaving wounds exposed to the air is not the right treatment.

“It’s not often that a brief news item can totally upend our thinking on an issue. ... For years now, most of us have followed a time-honored ritual in treating the small cuts and bloody scrapes ... Leave the wound uncovered so that it can heal in the open air. ... That, we were assured by our parents and school nurses, is the fastest and safest route to healing.”


Most of us?

Time honored?

Since when?

That’s not what I was ever told by anyone.

Sometimes journalists should speak for themselves, and no-one else.


Long overdue on the toy shelves, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Guy is now yours for the having, inclusive of surgical mask, moist toilette and surgical gloves.

It’s a start, but I am wondering why they don’t have an OCD Gal yet – it’s not like they’ll have to sit near each other, or shake hands, or anything.

August 6, 2006

Not everyone reaches Dakar

Getting lost or shot at by confused warring locals might be the least of your problems when you enter the Dakar Rally, or even if you don’t enter.

A greater and unknown number of spectators die during the Dakar Rally than the number of participants who die. Not that the participant death rate is anything to be blasé about, with an average of two each year, along with the hauntingly “unknown” number of spectators.

Forget rugby union, sky diving, base jumping, or even Formula One, if thumbing your nose at death (yours or someone else’s) is your reason for living, the most deadly sport on earth has always been, and remains, the Dakar Rally.

Entry forms for 2007 available here.

Because the rally organizers want everyone to have a really good time, they provide excellent health and safety tips for participants, along with a full time 24 x 7 medical team of 50 people for the duration of the race.

Although the usual suspects – malaria, HIV, “dirty hands” disease, and so on – are all mentioned, the chirpy sign-off from the doctor in charge cuts in before any mention of instant death from automobile accidents, for which there is no effective soap or vaccine.

August 5, 2006

Offensive Boobs

In the USA, only one of these photographs is considered offensive.

This is not a trick question.

Is it:

A) Tara Reid, oblivious to the fact that half her dress has fallen off, thus revealing the extent of the ugly damage done to her body and her re-positioned nipples during breast surgery?

B) A large close up photo of a baby feeding on an anonymous breast, with no nipple showing?

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

The correct answer is: B)

We know this is the correct answer because a US magazine, BabyTalk, ran a photo very, very similar to the one shown above on the cover of its monthly edition.

People were almost uniformly offended and disgusted
"I was shocked to see a giant breast on the cover of your magazine."

"I was offended and it made my husband very uncomfortable when I left the magazine on the coffee table."

"Several readers said they were "embarrassed" or "offended" by the photo and one woman from Nevada said she "immediately turned the magazine face down" when she saw the picture.

"Gross, I am sick of seeing a baby attached to a boob," the mother of a four-month-old said.

Another reader said she was "horrified" when she received the magazine and hoped that her husband hadn't laid eyes on it. "I had to rip off the cover since I didn't want it laying around the house," she said."

Yes, husbands should be protected from naked breasts at all times.

Yes, fathers should be protected from the horrifying spectacle of a baby being fed breast milk.

Yes, it is far more pleasant to seen a nipple that has been reattached to a fake boob than to see a baby attached to a real boob.


Carry on.

As you were.

Who’s a silly bunny then?

The original and only copy of the first moon walk is missing. Unlike the dodgy-fuzzy television screening, the original film is remarkably high resolution. It’s possible that we will never see the clear footage of the moon-walk, as time is running out to both find and copy the analogue tapes. Film of five other Apollo missions is also missing.

They can send men to the moon, but they can’t remember where the hell they parked the film.

Jeers Mel

Passion of the Christ 2 : Judgement Day

[Note: logon for U Tube is required - you already have one of those anyway, don't you? Broadband also required. Some people might find this content offensive.]

Environmental Lies

Yes, greenies know how to tell the odd porky, most often based on a devilishly clever confluence of their areas of greatest ignorance: economics, social welfare, the environment, sustainability and business.

Having set such a sterling example for so many decades there can’t be much surprise that business has followed the lead by lying about how green are their vehicles. In Britain it has been reported that:

“Motorists are being ripped off to the tune of £192 million [$US363 M; or $AU478 M] by inaccurate fuel economy claims — with the greenest car the WORST offender.

Research has shown big differences between the number of miles per gallon makers say models do and what they actually deliver.”

Top ten differences:

Toyota Prius 65.7mpg claimed (actual 52mpg)

Kia Picanto 57.6 (46); Kia Rio 1.5d 60.1 (48.5)

Citroen C3 65.7 (56); Smart Fortwo 60.1 (51.5)

Peugeot 107 61.4 (54); Toyota Aygo 61.4 (54)

Vauxhall Corsa 1.2 51.4 (44)

VW Polo 1.4tdi 61.4 (54.5)

Ford Focus 1.6ti 43.8 (37)

The teddy bear massacre

Barney, the guard dog of whom an insurance company insisted be employed, has turned on his charges, leaving at least 100 of irreplaceable and priceless teddy bears torn from limb to limb.

Sir Benjamin Slade, the current owner of teddy Mabel, who was mortally wounded in the frenzied attack, and who was once owned by Elvis “sent around one of his men to collect the body." As you do. Sir Slade has not issued a statement about his loss.

Barney’s handler suggested that the massacre may have been carried out in a pique of jealousy:

"I still can't believe what happened. Either there was a rogue scent of some kind on Mabel which switched on Barney's deepest instincts, or it could have been jealousy: I was just stroking Mabel and saying what a nice little bear she was."

The surviving teddies will be offered counseling and professionals will monitor them for anxiety and symptoms of post traumatic stress.

"The aftermath, according to shocked staff, was appalling: shattered limbs, gouged eyes, ears torn off, and pools of sawdust everywhere."

Barney, with his handler: six years of docile service ends in massacre.

August 2, 2006


At first blush, you might not think that the Iberian lynx and the Japanese have much in common, but they’re both set on a course to extension – one far more quickly than the other, for sure, and one through lack of rabbits to eat, while the other, through a firm and persistent disinclination to behave like rabbits.

An inbred collection of Iberian lynx in Spain are estimated to now number just 150. Meanwhile, in Japan comedians and perky economists like to joke that by the year 3500 there will be 53 Japanese left to divide up the country between them. But that might be an optimistic joke, with the possibility that much sooner there will be only one left - to turn the lights out.

The Iberian lynx is the rarest cat in the world and likely to follow the way of the already extinct sabre-toothed tiger. Only 100 years ago there were 100,000 of the lynx roaming across Europe. Not only has their range decreased to the size of a pocket handkerchief, but their staple diet, consisting primarily of rabbit, is itself endangered in that part of the world – partly thanks to epidemics, including a new genetically modified virus from Australia. No rabbit, means that the lynx will starve to death. However, most of the decline in the Iberian lynx numbers has been caused directly by humans. There is no world-wide effort underway to help save the Iberian lynx.

Meanwhile, Japan isn’t just another country; it’s a way of life and culture unlike any other.

While teenaged and young adult males take refuge in hikikomori so as to avoid society and adulthood, the young ladies of Japan, seeking the same outcome, have found a means by which to express their withdrawal in an overt and entirely public manner – turning themselves into extreme Lolita’s. This doesn’t have the sexual connotations you might think either. The Lolita’s of Japan feign helplessness and youth, as well as having a ready made excuse for buying a whole new wardrobe of extreme-girly clothes, shoes, makeup and acquiring experimental hairstyles, which, I assume, they imagine are suitable adornment for the average aspiring Lolita.

Attempts at teenage rebellion in developed Western societies look trite, and barely momentarily amusing, when lined-up against the rebellion of the Japanese, who create entire new worlds within which to orbit outside their designated society. A tattoo, a tongue piecing, or green hair, are all tame stuff when compared to the creativity and commitment of Japanese youth.

"This is the baby-doll face of feminism in Japan. Under the peachy cheeks, frothy yellow hair and bonnet is a face hostile to everything a young woman should want. It is a rebellion with frills on. "The weaker a girl is, the better," says the main teenage character in the Japanese novel Kamikaze Girls.

"Exasperating though it may be for those around her, a girl is decidedly cuter if she cannot do a single thing for herself — if she doesn't even know how to tie her own shoelaces."

Call that feminism? For women in Japan, yes, because it is not about men. Nor is it about housekeeping, children, mothers-in-law, dead-end part-time work or the national obsession with raising the birthrate. In fact it's the opposite: pure self-indulgence.”

Just like the male dominated arena of hikikomori, the Lolita gangs are a potent expression of a desire to avoid adulthood and society. Within the bounds of Japanese rebellions, it is quite subversive: while the young males are invisible, hiding in their rooms for years on end, the Lolita’s contemptuously flaunt their frippery, along with their refusal to live up to societal expectations. For young women in Japan, this is, indeed, radical.

However, the oddly sterile Lolita’s are the least of the problems for politicians in Japan, who anxiously monitor the rates of marriage, with little reason to be optimistic that the men and women of Japan are becoming a’moured of each other. After all, the sexless marriage is an entrenched feature of Japanese society.

Desperation over the flat-lining birthrate has lead the Liberal Democratic Party to blame “equality”. Notwithstanding that no such thing has ever been within a coo-eee of being achieved for Japanese women, the party wants laws to be changed so as to abolish any nod of courtesy to the value of women. The party would like to drop the constitutional clause that states:

"Laws shall be enacted from the standpoint of individual dignity and the essential equality of the sexes."
They believe that:

“All the talk of equality is "weakening women's minds", says one panel member, a full-time housewife.”

The single men and women of Japan are even less interested in each other than husbands and wives, with many not even bothering to take an interest in romance, and many avoiding venturing into the icky adventures of sex – ever.

In one survey, 53 per cent of single men say that they make no effort to meet women. Another survey found that eight per cent of Japanese men aged between 40 and 44 say that they are virgins, although the true figure is probably higher, and 5% declined to offer an answer. Among women, nearly one third who are single and aged between 30 and 34 say that they too are virgins.

Japan's best-known female writer of crime fiction, Natsuo Kino, wrote a novel in which a group of lower-middle-class wives who work the night shift at a food factory rebel. When one of them kills her husband, a virtually unheard of crime in Japan, the others help her by cutting him into small pieces and putting him out with the rubbish. Women loved the book … But did men care? Apparently not.”

The light switch is thata way

August 1, 2006

A sharp intestinal crisis

Next time you’re trying to dream-up a plausible excuse for calling in sick, or begging off from a not-at-all-enticing social engagement, take a leaf from the book of Cuban President Fidel Castro, who has temporarily handed over duties to his brother, because extreme stress "had provoked in me a sharp intestinal crisis with sustained bleeding that obligated me to undergo a complicated surgical procedure."

Hell, it sounds convincing!

Daydreams of the average worker

Sex came top of the 10 daydreams that workers were most likely to have during business meetings – 57 per cent said sex was their favorite subject for daydreaming. There were notable variations between men and women, with 58 per cent of men admitting they have imagined having sex with a co-worker, compared with only 21 per cent of women taking a fancy to co-workers.

Lawyers claimed that they never daydream – about anything - with 100 per cent reporting their concentration in meetings was high or very high. This compares with a lowly 22 per cent of sales people making the same claim.

Less predictably, and far more disturbing was that teachers – (and people in the media) - were the most likely to be thinking about sex.

Even more shocking than the imagined fornication, with or without a colleague, was the finding that:

Nearly half of Welsh workers daydreamed about being at home watching TV.”