31 July 2008

Kou chandelier

From item
This stunning centrepiece chandelier is not only uniquely distinctive, but each of its bone china components is uniquely shaped by response to temperature variations in the kiln. The resulting vitrified unglazed material is surprisingly soft, strong and irresistibly sensuous. Hand-assembled to maximise the impact of this subtle, organic sculpting, no two Kou are identical.

Available with halogen or metal halide luminaires suitable for domestic or commercial applications, Kou is bespoke made in Staffordshire, England and can therefore be supplied in a number of lighting configurations, silhouettes and sizes from 635mm to 1400mm in diameter – and even in matt black glass.

Kou's distinctive 'starburst' profile is achieved through individual placement of hundreds of Staffordshire bone china spokes.

Designed specially for John Lewis' flagship Oxford Street store, this bone china chandelier forms the dramatic focal point of the new fourth floor restaurant and measures 1400mm in width by just 550mm in height, departing from Kou's typically spherical silhouette.

I have a thing about star and star-burst shapes, especially for Christmas decorations.

At £1500-5000, I will stick with the small decorations.

Thank goodness tomorrow is Friday.

30 July 2008

spun out

From TRAVEL + LEISURE magazine
You spin me round

Think the ferris wheel is just a ride for the kiddies? Think again. As Jane Parbury reports these gentle giants have grown-up and now no self-respecting metropolis would be seen without one.

No fair or show seems complete without a big wheel – and these days, no major redevelopment, or city seems entirely finished without one, either. From Berlin to Beijing and Orlando to Qingdao, giant observation wheels are running circles around cities.

The overnight success of the London Eye might have started the latest urban attraction revolution, but passenger-carrying wheels have been around since the 19th century, ever since engineer George W Ferris responded to a call from the organisers of the 1893 Chicago World Fair to devise an attraction to rival Paris’s Eiffel Tower.

Since then, the big wheel has enjoyed its ups and downs as a tourist attraction; right now, with the recent opening of the Singapore Flyer, its star is firmly in the ascendant.

There are new ferris wheels set to open in Melbourne, Beijing, Berlin and New York plus the Great Wheel Corporation, reportedly has plans for three more: a 185m whopper at Dubailand, Dubai; a 150m structure at Qingdao, China; and a comparatively modest 120m construction at Orange County, Orlando, in the US; while in Asia Japan is already a hotspot for big wheels, with several measuring over 100m.

Here are 10 of the world’s big wheels, including those that are due to open within the next year.

1. Name The London Eye
Where Southbank, London, UK
Opened 2000
Size 135m. 32 capsules; up to 800 passengers in total per revolution.
Ride 30 minutes
Views On a clear day, up to 40 kilometres along the Thames and across London's most famous landmarks, as far as Windsor Castle.
Claim to fame The biggest in the world when built. Achieved iconic status virtually overnight and now no postcard of London views is complete without it. Generally thought to have inspired the current big wheel - er, revolution.

2. Name Singapore Flyer
Where Marina Bay, Singapore
Opened 2008
Size 165m. 28 capsules; up to 28 passengers each
Ride 30 minutes
Views About 45 kilometres across the city, taking in sights such as Singapore River, Merlion Park and the CBD
Claim to fame Currently the world's largest, but set to be overtaken by its Beijing counterpart (see below).

3. Name Star of Nanchang
Where Nanchang, Jiangxi Province, China
Opened 2006
Size 160m. 61 capsules; up to 480 passengers in total.
Ride 30 minutes
Views Along its riverside location and across the city.
Claim to fame Briefly the world's largest, overtaking the London Eye before it was eclipsed, in turn, by the Singapore Flyer.

4. Name The Southern Star
Where Part of the Waterfront City development, Melbourne
Opening November 2008
Size Over 120m. 21 pods; up to 20 passengers each
Ride 30 minutes
Views All-round vistas over the city and Port Philip Bay
Claim to fame Melbourne has been the regular home-from-home of the travelling Giant Sky Wheel; the fixed Observation Wheel, which has a unique star construction, will top it – in physical terms at least – by some 70m.

5. Name Great Observation Wheel, Beijing
Where Chaoyang Park, Beijing, China
Opening late 2009
Size 208m. 48 capsules; up to 40 passengers each.
Ride 30 minutes
Views Some 60 kilometres, including the Great Wall of China to the north of the city
Claim to fame Will be the world's largest.

6. Name Great Berlin Wheel
Where Hertzallee, West Berlin, next to the Berlin Zoo
Opening Late 2009
Size 185m. 36 pods; up to 40 passengers each
Ride 35 minutes
Views Across greater Berlin
Claim to fame Will be the biggest in Europe and one of the tallest structures in the city.

7. Name Pepsi Globe
Where Meadowlands Xanadu sports and leisure complex, New Jersey, US
Opening Late 2009
Size About 85m. 26 pods; up to 20 passengers each
Ride 25 minutes
Views The New York city skyline
Claim to fame The largest big wheel in North America. It will be partially constructed from recyclable materials and powered by green energy. In common with the London Eye, it’s attracted a major sponsorship deal, in this case a soft drinks firm (London had British Airways).

8. Name The Texas Star
Where Dallas Fair Park, Dallas, Texas, US
Opened 1985
Size Just over 64m. 44 gondolas; about 260 passengers in total.
Ride About 15 minutes
Views On a clear day, across to the city skyline and to Fort Worth
Claim to fame The largest ferris wheel in north America since its opening, although likely to be eclipsed by the upcoming Pepsi Globe in New Jersey.

9. Name The Riesenrad (Giant Ferris Wheel), also known as the Prater
Where Prater Park, Vienna, Austria
Opened 1897
Size just over 64m. 15 cabins; up to 12 passengers each.
Ride around 5 minutes per revolution
Views The slightly seedy Prater funfair, the park around it and rather distant views of central Vienna.
Claim to fame One of the oldest giant ferris wheels in the world and probably the most famous. Substantially damaged in a fire in WW ll and subsequently rebuilt with fewer gondolas (15 instead of the original 30). Starring role in the 1949 film noir The Third Man, alongside Orson Welles and Joseph Cotton.

10. Name Tempozan Harbor Village Ferris Wheel
Where Osaka, Japan
Opened 1997
Size 112.5m. 60 cabins; up to eight people each.
Ride About 15 minutes
Views Unobstructed sightlines across Osaka Bay to the city, as far as Mount Rokko and Kansai International Airport.
Claim to fame One of several big wheels in Japan built around the same time, the Tempozan wheel’s particular appeal is in its night-time appearance, when a host of coloured lights illuminate the structure. This is prettiness with a purpose: the colour of the lights indicates the weather forecast for the following day. If they’re blue, for example, expect rain.

I'm more of a tower person myself.

Emily came over tonight for dinner, which was a beef Madras curry.

29 July 2008

still googling

The new search engine cuil does not appear to live up to its hype.

The results are presented in a messy way and half of them are not actual hits but advertisements.

Back to Google.

Aside from missing a function in Melbourne on Friday night due to a cancelled flight, I had an enjoyable weekend.

On arrival on Saturday morning, I headed straight to the MCG to catch the Essendon/Collingwood game. What a ripper of a game. Aside from watching the Pies getting smashed, it was great seeing my favourites playing really well.

In between, although I left the MCG in the final quarter, I caught up with friends at the Turf Bar.

The night game between Brisbane Lions/Richmond was a thrilling game, but the results did not go our way.

On Sunday morning, I went to the Melbourne Aquarium for our club's family day. It was great to catch up with a couple of the players (whom I missed on Friday, and after the game when they were not talking to anybody).

In the afternoon, I joined Elizabeth, Sue B and Kerry at the National Gallery of Victoria for the Art Deco exhibition.

It was great to visit and stay with Elizabeth and Fritz again.

28 July 2008


I'm back, but won't blog until tomorrow.

football - round 17

RICHMOND 2.2 8.4 10.7 18.9 (117)
BRISBANE LIONS 3.6 7.8 13.14 16.18 (114)

Brown 4, Bowden 4, Richardson 3, Riewoldt 2, Deledio, Simmonds, Schulz, White, Morton.
Brown 3, Bradshaw 3, Sherman 2, Johnstone 2, Brennan, Corrie, Charman, Black, Copeland, Drummond.

Bowden, Richardson, Deledio, Tuck, Simmonds, N. Brown.
Black, Drummond, Johnstone, Charman, Power.

UMPIRES Stevic, H Ryan, S Ryan.
CROWD 31,275 at Telstra Dome.

Oh dear. I haven't seen my team win in Melbourne for some time. It was a great game nevertheless and we very nearly won until the last few minutes of the game.

Tigger vs Foley

Shermo marks over Newman

One of Shermo's goal celebrations

Joely Pat tackling Deledio

contested mark

25 July 2008

Obama's remarks at the Siegessäule

Barack Obama didn't give a speech in Berlin, he made remarks. They were remarkable remarks too, like this one

That is why the greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another.

The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down.

There is something about repetition in speeches, err 'remarks'.
- cannot stand x3
- Look at Berlin x3
- this is the moment x8

Just as interesting is the Siegessäule. According to www.visitberlin.de
Originally constructed on the Königsplatz (now the Platz der Republik, in front of the Reichstag) as the national monument to Germany's "Wars of Unification", it was built to plans by Heinrich Strack from 1864–73 to commemorate victory in the Prussian-Danish war. After further victories against Austria and France, it was supplemented with Friedrich Drake's 8.3m-high golden Victoria (also known as Golden Else). During the Third Reich, a fourth column drum was added, bringing the total height to 67m. In 1938/39, the monument was moved to the Großer Stern crossroads in the Tiergarten, as part of the redesigning of the "Capital of the German Reich".

Surviving the war without major damage, it was restored in the 1980s. It features a columned hall with reliefs by Alexander Candrelli, Karl Keil, Moritz Schultz and Wolff depicting portraits and battle scenes. These were removed at the behest of the Allies, but reinstated in the 1980s. The glass mosaic created by Anton von Werner also depicts battle scenes. Golden gun barrels from the spoils of war decorate the column shaft. A viewing platform on the column offers a wonderful panoramic view of the city.
It's one of my favourite monuments and so much worth a visit. I must return to Berlin one day.

I was scheduled to fly to Melbourne today, but the rescheduled flight was cancelled. The options were to leave in the evening, thus defeating the purpose of being in Melbourne today (a football function at 5pm); or to leave right away this morning with little notice, rush packing, and depriving Kane of a morning walk before I departed.

Neither were suitable, so now I'm going on Saturday morning instead. These things happen I guess.

24 July 2008

Lesbians aren't just from Lesbos

Further to my post on 3 May 2008, Reuters has reported that residents from the Greek island of Lesvos (Lesbos) don't have exclusive claims to the word Lesbian
Greek court rules lesbians are not just from Lesbos
Tue Jul 22, 2008 6:13pm BST

ATHENS (Reuters) - A Greek court has dismissed a request by residents of the Aegean island of Lesbos to ban the use of the word lesbian to describe gay women, according to a court ruling made public on Tuesday.

Three residents of Lesbos, the birthplace of the ancient Greek poetess Sappho whose love poems inspired the term lesbian, brought a case last month arguing the use of the term in reference to gay women insulted their identity.

In a July 18 decision, the Athens court said the word did not define the identity of the residents of the island, and so it could be validly used by gay groups in Greece and abroad.

The ruling ordered the plaintiffs to pay court expenses of 230 euros (183 pounds).

"This is a good decision for lesbians everywhere," Vassilis Chirdaris, lawyer for the Gay and Lesbian Union of Greece, told Reuters. "A court in Athens could not stop people around the world from using it. It was ridiculous."

He said the plaintiffs were free to appeal the decision in a higher court.

Lesbos, which lies just off the Turkish Coast, has become a gathering spot for gay women from around the world, especially at the village of Eressos which is regarded as the birthplace of the poet in the 7th century B.C.

Several residents testified during the trial that the use of the word lesbian had brought recognition to the island and boosted its tourist trade.

(Reporting by Daniel Flynn)

(US$1=.6281 Euro)
Duh! Even if the court had ruled in favour of the plaintiffs, there was no way that it could have enforced a ruling that prevented gay women from calling themselves lesbian around the world.

Goodness, the week has gone fast.

23 July 2008

a born again atheist

I found this article by Catherine Deveny in The Age (also in sister paper, Sydney Morning Herald) very interesting
Red hot enlightenment led me to believe in one fewer god
Catherine Deveny
July 23, 2008

Believe what you will, but don't expect me to stop prodding you about why you're religious.

WASN'T it hilarious how World Youth Day was an attempt to make Catholicism appear all modern and trendy, but what it achieved was to highlight how deluded and anachronistic the religion is?

The cavernous gap between the fresh-faced young teenagers and the old blokes in frocks and party hats was never more apparent than when the words "pilgrim" and "texting" were used in the same sentence. Repeatedly.

I had to laugh when I heard that "Ratzinger Rules" had been spray-painted on the Hyde Park War Memorial. And when I saw pilgrims chanting, "Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! Oi! Oi! Oi!" I can't help wondering how the teenage pilgrims coped with their hormones and no condoms and what the consequences will be in a few weeks' time.

The fusion of wild youth and religious rapture is a complicated reality. A complicated reality I assume was responsible for the GOD ROCKS! graffiti I saw on an old stone church yesterday.

I don't give a stuff what people believe in, but it won't stop me poking at it or prodding it. Why should religion be any exemption? Telling me I'm going to hell won't bother me because I have the Flying Spaghetti Monster, the Invisible Pink Unicorn and Bertrand Russell's Teapot in my heart. Google them if you are in the market for some red hot enlightenment.

Over the past couple of weeks Catholic-bashing has been elevated to the level of an extreme sport. Put your hand down at the back there, I'm allowed to. I spent every Sunday for the first 18 years of my life sitting in a medieval torture chamber listening to a bloke bang on about his imaginary friend who did magic tricks. Then the next 20 years massaging, editing and pruning the brainwashing into something that fit until suddenly I woke up one day and realised I was an atheist.

I wasn't searching for anything. I wasn't dabbling or questioning. I wasn't having any kind of spiritual breakdown. I just opened my eyes one day, looked around and realised that I had once been standing in a house and one by one the walls had collapsed and there was no longer a house there. I was standing out in the open. It was very liberating.

Funny though. For a while I would go to pray and then remind myself that I didn't believe. These days I send out wishes. I know, just as crazy.

I question some of my progressive, believing mates about if they believe in Noah's ark, the Immaculate Conception, Adam and Eve, the Resurrection, even heaven, and they squirm a little and try to change the subject. They get vague, defensive and then start muttering something about faith and mystery and a power of love that unites us all.

Sure, it would be easy to torture them, but they're adults and it's their life. I just can't see why it's so difficult to have a rigorous discussion about it. I feel no need to convert them. I just want them to know that if you are brave enough to place your hand through the invisible electric fence there's a bigger world beyond.

It's been a revelation to me a year since my "epiphany". I feel as if I'm walking through life with the blinkers off. Suddenly all the religious mumbo-jumbo jumps out as so bonkers. Wearing certain things, eating certain things, mumbling certain things at certain times so some imaginary friend will let you into a club in the sky when you die. I want to do my living now, thanks. I'm not afraid of dying. I'm afraid of never having lived.

There is a school of thought that suggests atheists should not call themselves atheists but just say we apply rational thought to everything and religion is no exception.

As Sam Harris, author of The End Of Faith, puts it, "I think that 'atheist' is a term that we do not need, in the same way that we don't need a word for someone who rejects astrology.

"We simply do not call people 'non-astrologers'. All we need are words like 'reason' and 'evidence' and 'common sense' and 'bullshit' to put astrologers in their place, and so it could be with religion."

I don't care what people believe in, but I do care that religion impacts on political discourse, public policy and that it stunts the ability of people to think for themselves and question. And that it kills people and causes suffering. But most of all I care that the invisible electric fences that are wired in the minds of children brainwashed by religion are difficult to remove. And impossible if you don't even know they're there.

A quote attributed to Stephen F. Robert sums it up for me: "We are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."

Peace be with you.
It reminded me of the time when I was young and in college. I challenged a very devout Catholic about her faith. I couldn't understand the concept of the infallibility of the Pope. I questioned how the Pope's authority could come from God when he was elected by men. Anyway, I made her cry. I guess faith is meant to be taken for granted. I was studying science. Of course I questioned everything. I still do.

Emily came over for dinner tonight. I made baked balsamic vinegar marinated pork belly, with blanched cauliflower and broccolini. It was a very simple meal.

We've taken to watching The Gruen Transfer and The Hollowmen on TV. Both quality viewing from our public broadcaster.

22 July 2008


Reported in The Guardian
'Pitvertising' - the new whiff of adland


TV is the pits! No, I'm not moaning about the quality of the programmes on British television - I, for one, can't get enough of Kirstie and Phil's Property Guide on More4. It really is the pits with this ingenious new advertising idea - "Pitvertising"! The landmark, ground-breaking, never-been-done-before initiative features digital TV screens built into the armpit of a shirt to promote - what else? - Right Guard deodorant. Of course it does! "Pitvertising is a new and unexpected way of reminding the consumer to stay cool this summer!" says Right Guard. Yes, and another reason to slap your forehead and yell: "Oh Lord, what is the world coming to and why do I appear to be so out of step with it?" Coming soon: pantvertising (condoms), footvertising (thought about buying a new pair of shoes sir?) and specvertising - adverts stuck to the front of your glasses. For Specsavers, obviously.

One would hope that the people used by the deodorant company or their advertising agency would smell nice.

It's only Tuesday. Sigh!

21 July 2008

French equality?

Strange things are going on in France. Succinctly reported in The Economist
A burqa barrier
Jul 17th 2008 | PARIS

How Islamic headgear can stop a woman becoming French

WHAT is the right balance between public expressions of religious faith and legally enshrined national values? France, with its 6m Muslims and secular constitution, faces that question in acute form. In 2004 it banned the Muslim headscarf in state schools and other public buildings. Now the wearing of the burqa has been ruled “incompatible” with French values—and nationality.

A young Moroccan, Faiza M, married a French citizen in Morocco and came to live near Paris. In 2005 her application for French nationality was rejected for “lack of assimilation”. Now the Conseil d’Etat has rejected her appeal on the ground that she “adopted a radical practice of her religion, incompatible with the essential values of the French community, and particularly with the principle of sexual equality.” This is the first time the court has refused nationality on the grounds of religious expression. The court heard that the couple followed salafism, a radical form of Islam. The woman adopted the burqa at her husband’s request in France, where she “lives in total submission to the men in her family”.

The court decision has been welcomed. Fadela Amara, the cities minister, who is of Algerian origin, says the burqa is a prison. “It is not a religious sign but the visible sign of a totalitarian political project preaching sexual inequality,” she said. The new (Moroccan) head of the French Council for the Muslim Faith, Mohammed Moussaoui, called the burqa “neither an obligation nor even a recommendation” of Islam. In Britain and the Netherlands, the burqa has also stirred political controversy recently.

The paradox is that it was only when Faiza M came to France that she felt obliged to don the burqa. Ni Putes Ni Soumises, a group founded by Ms Amara to campaign for sexual equality, says many second-generation women in France come under pressure from Islamist radicals. Efforts to secure women-only sessions in local swimming pools and gyms are seen as similar attacks on equality. Last month a court in Lille caused a row by annulling a marriage between two Muslims because the bride falsely claimed to be a virgin, and the case was sent back for review. The latest court ruling may signal a more robust reaffirmation of secular values.
I am finding it hard to understand how a country of liberté, égalité, fraternité could demand equality by denying someone the liberty of practising their religion. The French government means well, but surely denying the right of religious expression is just as totalitarian.

There are no easy answers.

I nearly slept in today. I wonder if it was Mondayitis.

20 July 2008

Who knew that World Youth Day was on?

In Australia, it was hard to escape the news coverage of World Youth Day (WYD SYD 08). Saturation coverage indeed from The Australian, Sydney Morning Herald, ABC and SBS to name a few.

Crikey, on the other hand, came up with a totally different angle.
WYD: Sydney converted, it's time to rein-in Spain
Thursday, 17 July 2008
Nicholas Pickard writes:

On Sunday Pope Benedict will announce that Madrid will be the World Youth Day host city for the next event in 2011. The focus will then shift from Cardinal George Pell and Sydney, as the Catholic world focuses its attention to another battleground in the fight to resurrect a dying religion's popularity. Spain is, for the Vatican, the last bastion.

Not only is Spain experiencing the usual drop in Catholic adherence, but the country now has a socialist government within a society that is very liberal. Abortion, divorce and gay marriage are all legal, so the Church must make some inroads to reverse these trends.

Leading the charge will be some of the most right-wing and conservative elements of the Church. The elite Opus Dei with their stranglehold on power in the Vatican will of course be there but not far behind are the newer and more youthful right-wing organisations. And they are all here in Sydney.

From the outside, this big youth day event appears to be a religion united, but nothing could be further from the truth. Such is the rift between the right-wing and more liberal elements of the Catholic Church many within are busting at the seams to come out and say what they think.

To understand the politics of what is happening domestically, it is vital to understand that Pell isn’t particularly popular among your rank-and-file Catholics and this whole World Youth Day event is less about the Pope, and more about our local Cardinal boosting his career opportunities in the Vatican and impressing the people that matter.

With the Pope by his side, he can hurl a few two-fingered salutes to the liberal members of the congregation. Aside from Opus Dei, one of the organisations prominent in youth day events is a big contingent of neocatecumenals, an extremely conservative organisation that emerged out of Spain and has spread to more than 105 countries and more than 860 parishes worldwide. I understand that 40,000 neocatecumenal pilgrims have descended on Australia, 3000 from Spain.

For a moment, forget about all the Guy Sebastian, hippy type guitar events, this World Youth Day is largely influenced by restorationist Vatican I theology. Out with new fangled liberal views on environmental concerns, the role of women in the Church, contraceptives and gays and in with Opus Dei, Eucharistic Adoration, aggressive evangelism, relics of stigmatics and a host of rites that haven’t been seen in Australia since the introduction of Vatican II.

Cardinal Pell will be presiding over a meeting of the neocatecumenals on Monday and has asked them to make the Gospel spread around Australia and provide some spiritual help for a country that has some “very serious problems”.

For the left of the Church these associations are having some very practical and alarming consequences. Stephen Crittenden reported in last week's episode of the ABC’s Religion Report, that in one instance “the Jesuits have been ordered to withdraw their plan to host a forum with the gay Catholic group Acceptance and PFlag, the organisation for parents and friends of young gays and lesbians”.

All this will very pleasing for the Opus Dei members in the Vatican.

As soon as the Pope arrived, Pell swiftly transported him to Australia’s Opus Dei headquarters. Pell is one of its 500 or so members in Australia. Opus Dei isn’t particularly popular here and is at odds with many.

"There is a great dissatisfaction with the Restorationist spirituality, which is also devoid of any commitment to social justice," Fr Confeggi, a parish priest in the outer Sydney suburb of Mount Druitt, told The Sydney Morning Herald.

Many of the kids flying in from all over the world would be unaware of this theological undercurrent. Nevertheless, they will be the ones taking part in these baroque rituals that will not necessarily take them closer to God, but will move them toward the Opus Dei view of the Church.

At one stage, George Pell even wanted to get the Catholic conservative and sometime racist Mel Gibson to direct the WYD Stations of the Cross ritual. It never happened, but we are getting close to the type of doctrines exposed on the youth walking around Sydney with their red back packs.

And none of this even comes close to the worries within the Church over the cost. It's costing the Church an estimated $150 million on top of the $86 million that NSW taxpayers are throwing in. The left of the Church might have other ideas for where they would rather spend that money. Let's see how they go in Madrid in three years time.
It makes sense that in any large organisation, there would be politics involved.

Aside from an early afternoon outing with Kane, today has been a lazy day.

So was yesterday, though Kim came over for dinner and I made baked chicken (marinaded in preserved lemon, marmalade and soy), with dry roast potatoes (skin on, no oil), baked corn and blanched broccolini.

19 July 2008

loss for words

football - round 16

Brisbane Lions 5.4 11.5 14.7 17.11 (113)
West Coast 3.3 5.6 8.10 9.13 (67)

Brisbane Lions:
Bradshaw 4, Brown 3, Charman 3, Johnstone 2, Corrie 2, Clark, McGrath, Drummond
West Coast: Hansen 2, Lynch 2, LeCras 2, McNamara, McKinley, Wirrpanda

Brisbane Lions:
Power, Black, Dalziell, Drummond, Bradshaw
West Coast: Cox, Embley, Staker, Fletcher, Mackenzie

West Coast: Glass (quad)

Umpires: Nicholls, Ellis, Mollison
27,784 at the Gabba

I missed this game but followed the score on the internet (it was not on TV and I did not go to a local club). Finally, a win!


Drum roll



Razzle Dazzle

18 July 2008

Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday

LONDON - AUGUST 29:  Ex-South African President Nelson Mandela looks on during a statue unveiling ceremony in Nelson Mandela's honour at Parliament Square on August 29, 2007 in London, England. The statue depicting Nelson Mandela delievering a speech, by sculptor Ian Walters, is nine-feet (2.7-metres) high, made of bronze and faces the Houses of Parliament.  (Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)

There is a great write up in CNN.com about Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday today.

I still like this old classic song by The Specials

Happy Birthday Madiba.

It's been a busy week at work. No wonder I fell asleep on the couch not long after returning home.

17 July 2008

Mahna Mahna song

I love the Mahna Mahna song from Sesame Street and the Muppet Show.

Everybody on earth should know this song.

Thank goodness tomorrow is Friday.

16 July 2008

a country of billionaires

From Los Angeles Times
As hyperinflation spiraled last year, Fidelity printed million-dollar notes, then 5-million, 10-million, 25-million, 50-million. This year, it has been forced to print 100-million, 250-million and 500-million notes in rapid succession, all now practically worthless. The highest denomination is now 50 billion Zimbabwean dollars (worth a U.S. dollar on the street).

Despite the recent currency shortage, the Zimbabwean dollar has continued to slide against the U.S. dollar and shopkeepers are still increasing their prices steeply. The price of the state-owned Herald newspaper has leaped from 200,000 Zimbabwean dollars early this month to 25 billion now. Before the crunch, a beer at a bar in Harare, the capital, cost 15 billion Zimbabwean dollars. At 5 p.m. July 4, it cost 100 billion ($4 at the time) in the same bar.

An hour later, the price had gone up to 150 billion ($6).
How did it get this bad? The Zimbabwean regime under Robert Mugabe just printed more money as they needed, to spend and spend, without actually earning it.

Now, the country is running out of paper on which to print money. Interesting times ahead.

Also see
- The Observer (13 April 2008)
- SW Africa (15 July 2008)

You too could be a millionaire

On the way to becoming a billionaire

What a shame that all that money doesn't actually buy very much.

It is so cold. I'm achey in my bones and nearly didn't go to work today, but there is only me to do all this urgent stuff.

Emily came over tonight and I cooked pan friend Bass Grouper fillets and roasted fennel, beetroot and brussels sprouts. The fish was rubbery so it was probably better steamed.

15 July 2008

British vs foreign foods?

I found this article rather strange, from the UK Daily Telegraph
Classic British dishes dying out
By Daily Telegaph Reporter
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 14/07/2008

Traditional British dinners are being replaced by 'foreign quick fixes' as they take too long to cook.

Classic dishes such as toad in the hole, bubble and squeak and hot pots are dying out are diasppearing from the family dinner table, a survey shows.

Researchers found almost one in three people now opt for pizza or spaghetti bolognese at the majority of meal times.

And more than a quarter of adults polled named Italian as their favourite type of food.

However, not all British classics are disappearing as the research found that roast dinners and jacket potatoes are still firm favourites.

Kathryn Race from The Potato Council, which carried out the poll, said: "It's a shame to see that some of our country's best loved foods are no longer seen on UK dinner tables - they are our heritage and something we need to keep.

"However, we are travelling the world more than ever now, and it seems we are trying to recreate the dishes we sample abroad once we get back home.

"Foreign foods and the ingredients needed to make those dishes are also readily available in supermarkets making it far easier to cook them back at home, although this is, it seems, at a price."

The study of 2,000 people found that 82 per cent think traditional British meals are disappearing from our dinner tables.

More than a quarter say they haven't got time to make proper British meals and another quarter simply prefer foreign alternatives. But three quarters of people think we should make more of an effort to bake traditional foods at meals times.

The research showed: Top foods for dinner 50 years ago
# 1. Stew and dumplings
# 2. Liver and onions
# 3. Toad in the hole
# 4. Bubble and squeak
# 5. Hot pot
# 6. Jacket Potatoes
# 7. Oxtail soup
# 8. Faggots
# 9. Gammon
# 10. Cornish pasties

Top foods for dinner now:
# 1. Roast dinner
# 2. Jacket potatoes
# 3. Spaghetti Bolognese
# 4. Pizza
# 5.Salad
# 6. Lasagne
# 7. Curry
# 8. Fish and chips
# 9. Pasta bake
# 10. Stir fry
What a biased article. When there is so much wonderful food available, why would anybody go back to eating bland stodgy so-called traditional British fare?

To describe other food as foreign, when the United Kingdom has people from all over the world living there is just arrogant.

Today was a very busy day at work.

14 July 2008

Banksy revealed

I wrote about the 'graffiti' artist Banksy earlier this year.

It seems that the Daily Mail has apparently uncovered his identity.

The Daily Mail claims that Banksy is Robin Gunningham

I'm not sure about the resemblance to this supposed self-portrait

I was so not ready to go back to work, which has also been busy, and its only Monday.

13 July 2008

the best Booker

Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie was voted the best ever winner of the Booker prize.

I tried to read it about 20 years ago, but could not finish it. I wonder if I should give it another go.

Another very football-centred weekend away. Despite a losing game for my main team, I did enjoy it and was able to catch up with a few of my favourite players.

It is good to be home though.

football - round 15

Essendon 8.3 12.6 17.9 24.11 (155)
Brisbane Lions 4.0 8.4 14.8 18.10 (118)

Lucas 5, Lloyd 4, Jetta 3, Stanton 3, Lonergan 2, McVeigh 2, Laycock, Monfries, Nash, Neagle, Watson
Brisbane Lions: Brown 5, Bradshaw 4, Brennan 4, Black 2, Rischitelli, Johnstone, Collier

Welsh, Stanton, Lucas, McVeigh, Lloyd, Jetta, Hille, Lovett-Murray
Brisbane Lions: Johnstone, Brennan, Brown, Bradshaw, Corrie, Rischitelli, Notting

Brisbane Lions: Brown (hip), Black (shoulder), Leuenberger (knee), Drummond (hip)

Umpires: Matt Stevic, Shane Stewart, Ray Chamberlain
Official crowd:
40,053 at Telstra Dome

Another woeful performance. My team lost and my other team won. The game wasn't as difficult to watch as I also have my favourites in the other team and it was to see their improvements.

Power and Welsh contest

Tigger trying to shake Slats' tackle


Gussy evading Drummo

Woosha being tackled by Jed

10 July 2008

how normally wasted food go to the needy

From a great article in The Australian
Every day, tonnes of excess food is thrown away, wasted, even though much of it is perfectly edible. Every day, OzHarvest tries to do something about that contradiction. It collects at least some of the extra food and delivers it to charities that can make good and immediate use of it.
I cringe when I see or know of food being wasted. This is such a logical solution, that it's a wonder why it took so long.

OzHarvest only began in 2004, but is providing a great service. Similarly, SecondBite in Melbourne.

I hope this cold winter will not be a long one.

09 July 2008

the southern cross

Also known as Crux.


I can usually find it in the sky, but don't always look.

It was another cold day today.

Emily came around tonight and even cooked. She baked chicken Kiev (from the butchers) and roast tomatoes, with corn and green beans.

08 July 2008

Sokol slets

Slets were mass gymnastics and calisthenics made popular by the Sokols.

CZECH REPUBLIC - CIRCA 1920: Holiday of Sokols in a stadium, in Czechoslovakia. (Photo by Harlingue/Roger Viollet/Getty Images)

Sokolský slet v Pelhřimově 1921

I think they look awesome.

Today, North Korea uses a similar effect for propaganda purposes.

It's time to reclaim mass exercise and mass dancing from totalitariasm.

British group Out of Print Projects (OoPPS) is reclaiming slet.

It was so cold today and even colder tonight. I should be doing some tidying up tonight, but there is always tomorrow.

07 July 2008

chess boxing

Reported by AFP
Knights in the ring as chess boxers slug it out
6 July 2008

BERLIN (AFP) — Rarely do brains and brawn come together in this way. A Russian was crowned world champion Sunday in the novelty sport of chess boxing that requires equal skill at moving pawns and throwing punches.

Nikolay Sazhin (L) and Frank Stoldt box

Nikolay Sazhin celebrates

Mathematics student Nikolai Sazhin, 19, competing under the name "The President" knocked out a 37-year-old German policeman, Frank Stoldt, who served as a peacekeeper in Kosovo until recently.

The loser said he was simply too punch drunk to fend off checkmate.

"I took a lot of body-blows in the fourth round and that affected my concentration. That's why I made a big mistake in the fifth round: I did not see him coming for my king," he said.

Berlin is home to the world's biggest chess boxing club with some 40 members and it is in an old freight station here that the two men settled the matter in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The match began over a chess board set up on a low table in the middle of a boxing ring.

Stripped to the waist, wearing towels around their shoulders and headphones playing the lulling sound of a moving train to drown out the baying crowd, the men played for four minutes.

Then off came their reading glasses and on went the gloves and the gumshields.

For three minutes they beat each other and then, when the bell went, the chess board was back in the ring and they picked up the gentlemanly game where they had left off.

"This is the hard part, you are out of breath but you have to keep your wits about you," said David Steppeler, a 33-year-old instructor at the local chess boxing club.

"It is especially hard for the one who has to play first. He can easily make a false move, and in chess this is fatal. So in training we toughen people by making them do push-ups between every two chess moves."

A chess boxing match consists of six rounds of chess and five in the ring but it can also end suddenly in knockout or checkmate.

Alternatively one of the players can be disqualified for taking too long to make his move in the chess rounds or breaking the boxing rules.

The weekend saw two matches apart from the world title bout and some of the competitors might have felt equally at home in a MENSA club meeting. One had a doctorate in biochemistry, another held a degree in political science and two were teachers.

The best in the world of chess boxing score somewhere between 1,700 and 2,000 points on the ELO chess rating system -- putting them on a par with those who perform well in the sport at club level.

Perhaps fittingly, the sport had its beginnings in a comic strip by the French author Enki Bilal, titled "Equator Cold" that hit shelves in 1992.

The last work in Bilal's "The Nikipol Trilogy" features a blood-stained chess boxing battle set in an apocalyptic city in 2034.

In 2003, the young Dutch artist Iepe Rubingh decided to bring it all to life, but with less brutality, and organised the first match.

"But the way we do it is not as dark as it was in the comic strip. For me the thing is to channel your violence, to control it. Hence the marriage between boxing and chess," Rubingh, who is the president of the international federation of chess boxing, told AFP.

A French student who came to watch, Jelena, said the idea seemed "a bit mad" at first.

"But in fact it's really gripping to watch."
Much more interesting than competitive eating! I like it.

The weekend went too quickly.

06 July 2008

laughing to the bank

If anybody is laughing all the way to the bank, they had better stop once they get there, otherwise the bank teller (or bank clerk) will think they are very strange indeed.

Today was a lazy day. I watched Elizabeth the Gold Age which was simply brilliant. Cate Blanchett is brilliant. There is no way that Nicole Kidman could have carried that role.

After this afternoon's walk, Lavinia and Brendan came over (they will soon be travelling around the world for twelve months). We drank a bottle of Croser sparkling wine, which was their farewell gift from our big boss at work.

05 July 2008

an eating hero?

The hot-dog eating contest was on again. Reported by Associated Press
Chestnut wins hot dog contest after eat-off

By ADAM GOLDMAN – 4 July 2008

NEW YORK (AP) — Joey Chestnut reclaimed the top spot at the annual hot dog eating contest in Coney Island on Friday after first tying with archrival Takeru Kobayashi in a 10-minute chow-down and then beating him in a five-dog eat-off.

The men tied at 59 frankfurters in 10 minutes, before being made to gobble another five dogs in a last-minute tiebreaker. They consumed 64 hot dogs total and were looking quite peaked after the competition.

Kobayashi had hoped to reclaim the throne after a disappointing three-dog loss last year shattered his six-year winning streak.

"He wanted it, but I needed it," Chestnut said of his diminutive Japanese rival.

Thousands gathered at Coney Island on the Fourth of July to watch the glutinous gladiators compete in the annual event. Chestnut emerged victorious for the second year in a row, beating 20 others who had only 10 minutes to scarf down as many hot dogs as possible, two minutes less than in previous years.

The regulation time was changed after it was revealed that the original competition in 1916 was just 10 minutes long, instead of the 12-minute limit used in more recent years. The switch made for a tense competition.

Chestnut quickly pulled ahead, with cheeks puffed as he crammed hot dogs into his mouth. At one point, the 24-year-old Californian led Kobayashi 14 to 11. Kobayashi fell to third place, but ate his way back and the two went dog-to-dog in the final stretch. After a frankfurter photo-finish, the judges decided it was a tie.

Richard Shea, one of the founders of the International Federation of Competitive Eating, said it was the first time in his memory the contest went into overtime.

As usual, Kobayashi's strategy was to eat all the dogs first, then dunk the buns and eat them. A pause while swallowing the soggy buns meant defeat.

"He should've won it, it was his to win," said judge Gersh Kuntzman said of the diminutive 30-year-old of Nagano, Japan.

The 128-pound legend in the competitive eating circuit told Brooklyn papers that he wasn't feeling 100 percent, and while he was improving, the tooth problem and sore jaw that hampered last year's performance were still something of a problem.

"If I put one more mouthful in, I could've won (in regulation)," Kobayashi said through a translator.

Their competitors also included a pizza cook from New York City, a fishmonger from Chicago and a 110-pound mother of two from Maryland.

Chestnut, who topped out at 210 pounds, downplayed his win, which includes $10,000 and the coveted mustard-yellow belt.

"It was crazy. I'm just a normal guy eating hot dogs on the Fourth," he said. "You can't overcomplicate it."

Chestnut said he was mentally prepared to eat 70, but his body was pushing back during the competition; it didn't want to swallow fast enough.

And it shouldn't want to. In fact, it's downright bad for your health, says Dr. Marc Siegel, a professor at New York University School of Medicine.

"Hot dogs are extremely unhealthy, especially when eaten at high volume," he said. "They're really processed, they have high cholesterol and too much salt."

And thanks to the quantities the competitors ate, they'll likely suffer nausea, bloat, headache, and possibly high blood pressure for several days as the body slowly digests the food.

"One is bad for you, five's worse and 50 is terrible," he said.

Luckily for the svelte first and second-place winners, being in better shape helps in digesting the food.

And any gastrointestinal woes won't deter Kobayashi. He says he'll be back for a rematch next year. Before that, the two will face off again at the Krystal Square Off World Hamburger Eating Championship Sept. 28 in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Joey Chestnut, centre, and his arch rival, Takeru Kobayashi, left, battle to eat the most hot dogs at the annual hot dog eating contest in the Brooklyn borough of New York.
Joey Chestnut, centre, and his arch rival, Takeru Kobayashi, left, battle to eat the most hot dogs at the annual hot dog eating contest in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Photo: AP

And reported by CNN

Yes, there are food shortages worldwide. Eating contests are simply vulgar.

Joey Chestnut a hero? More like a glutton.

Today was a busy day (see Kane's tails).

04 July 2008


The (UK) Daily Telegraph has reported about strange beings seen at various events around London.
Faceless figures cause a stir at Wimbledon, Harrods and Elton John's ball
By Lucy Cockcroft
Last Updated: 12:01am BST

Two mysterious faceless figures have appeared in the crowds of the most high-profile events this summer, including Wimbledon, Henley Regatta, the Harrods sale and Elton John's White Tie and Tiara Ball.

Faceless people causing a bit of a stir at Wimbledon...
Faceless people causing a bit of a stir at Wimbledon...

In what looks like a scene from a horror film, the two sit almost motionless among spectators, their facial features totally obscured by a flesh-coloured membrane.

Close inspection shows that the masks - which appear to be made of a thin rubbery material - have tiny perforations around the eye and nose area so the wearers are able to see and breathe.

The anonymous figures have provoked much speculation among bloggers, desperate to guess what they are trying to achieve.

Could it be performance art? Or a ploy to advertise a yet unnamed brand?

One theory is that they are a couple of celebrities keen to avoid the glare of the paparazzi lens. Indeed, they seem to have access to some of the most sought-after A-list events.

The man and woman have been spotted at Elton John's white tie and tiara ball and the Harrods summer sale, opened by Sex and the City actress Kim Cattrall.

They have also popped up in a rowing boat at Henley Regatta.

Most recently the pair were photographed watching the ladies quarter-final at Wimbledon, and then sat out on Murray Mount.

One blogger wrote: "They probably aren't just random people off of the street.

"If it ends up being a pair of celebrities who have had it with being photographed all of the time and are staging a protest, I vow to support every project they appear on from now on.

"Whatever their purpose, I want to join them. And I have a new Halloween costume for this year."

Another suggestion is that they are from a group named Anonymous, which formed on the internet and is best known for organising protests against Scientology.

Members have turned up to past demonstrations wearing Guy Fawkes masks.

The favourite theory seems to be that they are part of a viral marketing campaign, possibly for BBC science fiction television series Dr.Who, or even - according to one internet site - for luxury car brand Lotus.

A blogger wrote: "This ad for .... the Lotus, takes the alien cake on over-the-top ads. Apparently you're a faceless droid until you ..."buy" a personality in the form of a Lotus."

But for now, the real identity and purpose of these faceless figures remains a mystery.

A plausible explanation is that they are recovering from facial cosmetic surgery, but still want to be out in public.

It has felt like a long week. I fell asleep on the couch after returning home from work. It might be a sign to have a do nothing weekend.

03 July 2008

Journal of Happiness Studies

Seriously, it exists.

Perhaps it might shed some light on what Thomas Jefferson meant when the US Declaration of Independence was drafted.

I could never work it out.

One more day of work before the weekend.

Emily came around tonight for dinner of Hokkien noodles with Chinese roast duck, puff tofu and vegetables. She found out today that she will be posted to Jakarta, Indonesia next year for work.

02 July 2008

doing a funny dance is perfectly normal

I think there is something perfectly normal and natural about doing a funny dance in public. It's almost as good as doing a funny walk. People should lighten up.

Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

Two more days to go before the weekend.

01 July 2008

toilet talk

Crown Prince Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands (aka the Prince of Orange) created a bit of a stir at the African Union summit in Egypt yesterday (30 June 2008).

He used the word toilet and talked about it (in his speech*), which happens to be not just a delicate subject matter, but also taboo in some countries.
*as chair of the UN Secretary-General's Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation

Yet perhaps you, like many others, will find it difficult to go home and speak passionately about sanitation and related subjects like human faeces. I would urge you to personally help break through the deadly taboo that surrounds this subject. That is why UNSGAB advocated declaring 2008 the International Year of Sanitation. We must overcome our discomfort at talking about toilets and personal hygiene. We need the words, the courage and the dedicated resources to do what we must to make a difference.

In the light of all of this, it will come as no surprise that I was delighted to note that some distinguished African Heads of State and Government took the initiative to have themselves photographed with a toilet. Their courage symbolised the step forward Africa needs to take. I can only invite you all to follow their lead, and break through the sanitation taboo. Let us call a spade a spade and a toilet a toilet. It worked in many countries for HIV/AIDS, so why shouldn’t it work for sanitation too?

I agree. I ask where the toilet is, not the bathroom. I don't want to take a bath, I want to use the toilet. I don't ask about the restroom. I don't want to have a rest. I want to use the toilet. After I shit, I use toilet paper, not bathroom tissue. The purpose of toilet paper is to clean one's arse. I don't understand why talking about toilets is embarrassing or offensive.

I've never found out if anybody I know who has travelled whether they have used a squat toilet. I want to know how people keep their clothes like trousers from touching it and how to stop things falling out of pockets.

a French squat toilet

I could do with a few more days off work.

Martin who used to be the back neighbour came around tonight for a simple pasta dinner and beer. Actually, I used the sauce from the coq au vin from the Saturday a week ago to stir through spiral pasta, and only added additional chicken meat. It's a great sauce to go with pasta.