31 August 2008

that film Troy was rubbish

Wolfgang Petersen has made some dud films. Troy was one of them. The dialogue was really lame. I never bought the DVD. I thought Alexander was better.

I thought this analysis by Alex von Tunzelmann in the Guardian was amusing.
No gods or gay men but a whole lot of llamas

Alex von Tunzelmann wonders why the makers of Troy bothered tackling ancient Greece in the first place

Thursday August 28 2008 09:28 BST

Troy: Brad Pitt as Achilles
Big boy ... Brad Pitt as a straightened out Achilles.

Director: Wolfgang Petersen
Entertainment grade: D
History grade: D–

The Trojan war was an epic siege carried out by the Achaean (Greek) kingdoms against the city of Troy, around 1250 BC. Homer's Iliad is a poetic version of events: part history, part myth. Wolfgang Petersen's 2004 film, "inspired" by the Iliad, edited out all the gods and nymphs, and made the war into an action movie, supposedly based on history.


In Sparta, King Menelaus holds a banquet for the Trojan princes, Hector and Paris. But Paris isn't up to speed with guest etiquette, and sneaks off to have sex with Menelaus's wife, Helen. The next day, she runs away with him to Troy. This puts Menelaus in a bate, and gives his brother Agamemnon an excuse to start a war. A simplification of the story, but not too far wrong yet.


"Sparta was never my home," Helen explains. "My parents sent me there when I was 16, to marry Menelaus." That's odd, considering that her parents were king and queen of Sparta. Helen herself chose Menelaus, a prince of Mycenae, to be her husband, and he gained the throne of Sparta by marrying her. Did no one check Wikipedia?


War obliges Agamemnon to enlist Greece's A-list warrior-hero (and biggest pain in the backside) Achilles, played by Brad Pitt. Pitt's Achilles is a hero with an attitude problem the size of Asia minor, who spends most of his time lounging around in a kaftan and getting laid. Not a million miles from the Homeric depiction, but much more annoying. In classical history, Achilles was disguised as a girl to avoid going to war. The film wimps out of putting Pitt in a dress, and instead has him in a cobalt blue sarong, necklace of shells and tousled honey-blond wig. He looks like a creepy yoga teacher at an overpriced Californian spa.


Achilles is sparring with his lover Patroclus, who the film insists is just his cousin. It seems the Greek hero has undergone a radical straightening process – and I'm not talking about his hair any more. No gods and no gay men. You've got to wonder why they bothered making a film about ancient Greece in the first place.


As the Greek ships arrive at Troy, the people start panicking in their marketplace, running past the camera with a donkey, a birdcage, and two llamas. That's right: llamas. From Peru. It is impossible that there would have been any llamas in Europe or Asia for at least another 2,800 years. Unless these ones were really good swimmers.


Paris challenges Menelaus to a duel. Being a big girl's blouse, the prince of Troy is no match for the Spartan king, who lumbers around whacking him with a sword for about 30 seconds until the bleeding Paris scuttles away to hide behind Hector's skirts. Menelaus goes in for the kill, but Hector gets him first with a stab through the chest. Very wrong. The real (or real-ish) Menelaus survived the Trojan War, and was happily reunited with Helen afterwards. Petersen also prematurely bumps off Ajax and Agamemnon. At least all these deaths rule out a sequel.


The Trojans venture out one morning to find the Greeks have vanished, leaving the beach covered in smoking embers, heaps of rubbish and plague-ridden corpses. A bit like Somerset the day after the Glastonbury Festival. They have also left a mysterious giant wooden horse. Which is seriously bad news for the gullible Trojans.


Leaving the gods out is a terrible decision artistically, but Petersen doesn't lose any history points: it's probably safe to assume they didn't really exist. A lot of the material in the Iliad is open to question, but Troy still scores low thanks to taking liberties with what evidence there is. The making-of documentary brags about its authentic wobbly bronze swords and meticulously perfect cityscapes, but it's hard to see why you'd go to the trouble if you're just going to fill the marketplace with llamas.
I hate it when the classics are messed up for Philistine consumption.

It rained all day, so I did nothing.

football - round 22

Sydney Swans 3.3 7.8 12.9 17.12 (114)
Brisbane Lions 1.6 3.9 5.13 6.17 (53)

Sydney Swans:
Moore 4, Veszpremi 4, Jack 2, McVeigh 2, Everitt, Malceski, Bird, Richards, Hall
Brisbane Lions: Bradshaw 2, Selwood, Clouston, Henderson, Charman

Sydney Swans:
Moore, Roberts-Thomson, Malceski, McVeigh, Barry, Veszpremi, Richards
Brisbane Lions: Dalziell, Black, Brennan, Merrett, Power

Sydney Swans:
O’Keefe (flu) replaced in selected side by Veszpremi

Reports: J. Bolton (Sydney Swans) by field umpire Mathew James for rough conduct on Proud (Brisbane Lions) in the fourth quarter

Umpires: McBurney, James, Chamberlain
Official crowd:
24,076 at the SCG

That's it for my team. Their season is over, coming 10th out of 16th on the ladder. The top eight get to play finals - a complicated system of qualifying, elimination and preliminary finals before the grand final.

I had planned to go to Sydney for this game last night, but it became too difficult closer to the date.






30 August 2008

Alien lamp

Designed by German design studio Büro für Form , the Alien lamp looks like a blob.

More from Contemporist

Today was a very lazy day.

29 August 2008

save fuel, ditch passengers

Due to soaring fuel costs, airlines are trying to cut down on weight.

Emirates Airlines will not provide its inflight magazine Open Skies and has banned onboard paper on A380 flights. Air Canada's regional carrier Jazz is removing its life jackets.

AirAsia X, which is expanding its routes in Australia, is considering additional charges for overweight passengers.

Perhaps it is time to ditch passengers altogether. After all, they weigh the most.

I had the day off work today but didn't do anything at all. Sometimes, doing nothing is the best way to spend a day. I wonder if watching a marathon session of GRΣΣK counts as doing nothing.

28 August 2008


Fatty (March 1990 - 28 August 2004)

Four years may have gone, but I still think of Fatty.

Fatty was a unique cat who behaved more like a loyal dog. He was a one person cat who didn't like lots of people around, but he followed me everywhere. He fretted when I was away, and he always waited for me inside the door when I returned home from work.

Fatty used to wake me in the mornings by tapping his paw on my nose! He was very assertive and directly communicated his demands by meowing or headbutting, unlike Keiser who expected me to read her mind.

Fatty loved fish and seafood. He was a real fish cat. Every now and again I gave him prawns (shrimps) as a treat.

Fatty loved going outside and was let out every morning (supervised) while he checked all the smells and re-marked his territory. He even rolled in the dirt like a dog! Then he would have to be brushed.

I will never forget Fatty. I have even called Kane, Fatty a few times. Fatty came to me when I called him, like Kane does now, even using the same hand signals.

27 August 2008

Crows and magpies know who you are

I was surprised by this report in the New York Times
August 25, 2008
Friend or Foe? Crows Never Forget a Face, It Seems

Crows and their relatives — among them ravens, magpies and jays — are renowned for their intelligence and for their ability to flourish in human-dominated landscapes. That ability may have to do with cross-species social skills. In the Seattle area, where rapid suburban growth has attracted a thriving crow population, researchers have found that the birds can recognize individual human faces.

John M. Marzluff, a wildlife biologist at the University of Washington, has studied crows and ravens for more than 20 years and has long wondered if the birds could identify individual researchers. Previously trapped birds seemed more wary of particular scientists, and often were harder to catch. “I thought, ‘Well, it’s an annoyance, but it’s not really hampering our work,’ ” Dr. Marzluff said. “But then I thought we should test it directly.”

To test the birds’ recognition of faces separately from that of clothing, gait and other individual human characteristics, Dr. Marzluff and two students wore rubber masks. He designated a caveman mask as “dangerous” and, in a deliberate gesture of civic generosity, a Dick Cheney mask as “neutral.” Researchers in the dangerous mask then trapped and banded seven crows on the university’s campus in Seattle.

In the months that followed, the researchers and volunteers donned the masks on campus, this time walking prescribed routes and not bothering crows.

The crows had not forgotten. They scolded people in the dangerous mask significantly more than they did before they were trapped, even when the mask was disguised with a hat or worn upside down. The neutral mask provoked little reaction. The effect has not only persisted, but also multiplied over the past two years. Wearing the dangerous mask on one recent walk through campus, Dr. Marzluff said, he was scolded by 47 of the 53 crows he encountered, many more than had experienced or witnessed the initial trapping. The researchers hypothesize that crows learn to recognize threatening humans from both parents and others in their flock.

After their experiments on campus, Dr. Marzluff and his students tested the effect with more realistic masks. Using a half-dozen students as models, they enlisted a professional mask maker, then wore the new masks while trapping crows at several sites in and around Seattle. The researchers then gave a mix of neutral and dangerous masks to volunteer observers who, unaware of the masks’ histories, wore them at the trapping sites and recorded the crows’ responses.

The reaction to one of the dangerous masks was “quite spectacular,” said one volunteer, Bill Pochmerski, a retired telephone company manager who lives near Snohomish, Wash. “The birds were really raucous, screaming persistently,” he said, “and it was clear they weren’t upset about something in general. They were upset with me.”

Again, crows were significantly more likely to scold observers who wore a dangerous mask, and when confronted simultaneously by observers in dangerous and neutral masks, the birds almost unerringly chose to persecute the dangerous face. In downtown Seattle, where most passersby ignore crows, angry birds nearly touched their human foes. In rural areas, where crows are more likely to be viewed as noisy “flying rats” and shot, the birds expressed their displeasure from a distance.

Though Dr. Marzluff’s is the first formal study of human face recognition in wild birds, his preliminary findings confirm the suspicions of many other researchers who have observed similar abilities in crows, ravens, gulls and other species. The pioneering animal behaviorist Konrad Lorenz was so convinced of the perceptive capacities of crows and their relatives that he wore a devil costume when handling jackdaws. Stacia Backensto, a master’s student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks who studies ravens in the oil fields on Alaska’s North Slope, has assembled an elaborate costume — including a fake beard and a potbelly made of pillows — because she believes her face and body are familiar to previously captured birds.

Kevin J. McGowan, an ornithologist at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology who has trapped and banded crows in upstate New York for 20 years, said he was regularly followed by birds who have benefited from his handouts of peanuts — and harassed by others he has trapped in the past.

Why crows and similar species are so closely attuned to humans is a matter of debate. Bernd Heinrich, a professor emeritus at the University of Vermont known for his books on raven behavior, suggested that crows’ apparent ability to distinguish among human faces is a “byproduct of their acuity,” an outgrowth of their unusually keen ability to recognize one another, even after many months of separation.

Dr. McGowan and Dr. Marzluff believe that this ability gives crows and their brethren an evolutionary edge. “If you can learn who to avoid and who to seek out, that’s a lot easier than continually getting hurt,” Dr. Marzluff said. “I think it allows these animals to survive with us — and take advantage of us — in a much safer, more effective way.”

I was surprised Dr Marzluff had to test the birds. Surely it is common knowledge that these birds remembers who annoys them. Notice that the NY Times article did not source a published study in an academic journal.

Our neighbourhood has a large magpie population. Some people claim they have been swooped during spring, when nesting magpies protect their young. I have never been swooped as I actually talk to the birds and they remember me and that I mean them no harm.

The magpies were building nests last month. Some even came into the deck area to take Kane's fur (which I'd been pulling off from the brush and leaving over the edge of the deck). Hopefully they will recognise Kane by smell when we go walking.

I stayed home today. There is a some bug going around the office and today became my turn. Most of the day was spent on the couch.

26 August 2008

Oh dear! Celebrities should stick to their principles.

Last year, I wrote about Sophie Monk going nude for vegetarianism for a PETA campaign.

She even criticised KFC.

Now look what she's done.

Why should the general public take any notice of celebrities who cannot stick to their principles?

What a boring day today at work.

Stella came over after work for dinner of duck leg confit, roast pumpkin and beetroot, and broccoli. She didn't want to come when I walked Kane.

25 August 2008

Eating as a sport?

More bizarre reading from The Independent
Not to be scoffed at: Competitve eating is the world's fastest-growing hobby

What compels a person to swallow 65 hard-boiled eggs in six minutes? The money? The danger? The adoration of fans?

By Tim Walker
Friday, 8 August 2008

What's the most dangerous thing you can do sitting down? It takes stamina and determination, and it tests your body to the limit. It brings fame and fortune to its top competitors, but claims as many lives as motorsport. Whitewater kayaking? Operating a crane? Or could it be competitive eating?

In the US, home of professional food consumption, the governing body Major League Eating (MLE) presides over a pastime that, it claims, is the world's fastest growing sport. Last month, 1.5 million people tuned in to ESPN to watch 23-year-old Joey "The Jaws" Chestnut defeat Takeru "Tsunami" Kobayashi in a tie-breaking eat-off at Nathan's Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest, the biggest event on the eating calendar. Chestnut walked away – gingerly, no doubt – with $10,000 in prize money.

Chestnut and Kobayashi are the Federer and Nadal of competitive eating. Between 2001 and 2006, Kobayashi, 29, won the Fourth of July contest at Coney Island, New York, six years in a row. In 2007, Chestnut beat his rival for the first time, breaking the Japanese champ's world record by eating 66 hot dogs (and their buns) in 12 minutes. When, a few days before the competition, Kobayashi announced that his vigorous training regime had resulted in an arthritic jaw, the news was briefly the lead story on the New York Times website. He recovered in time to compete, but could only stomach a personal best of 63 dogs.

Kobayashi retains some of his records, like the 41 lobster rolls he put away in 10 minutes, or the 17.7lbs of cow brains he once poked down in 15 minutes. But the young Chestnut's CV already reads like Godzilla's weekly shopping list. In June 2006, he ate 47 grilled cheese sandwiches in 10 minutes. In October 2007, he ate 103 hamburgers in eight minutes. And in April this year he ate 8.8lbs of tempura deep-fried asparagus spears in 10 minutes, at the Asparagus Fest in Stockton, California. His pee must have smelled funny for weeks.

The queen of the women's circuit is the diminutive Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas, holder of numerous world records including hard-boiled eggs (65 in six minutes, 40 seconds), baked beans (8.4lbs in two minutes, 47 seconds) and oysters (46 dozen in 10 minutes). Thomas, who weighs in at just 105lbs prior to competition, is living proof that you needn't be obese to be a champion eater. In fact, she believes that her skinny build allows her stomach to expand with less difficulty than if it were surrounded by constricting adipose tissue; this is known as the Belt of Fat theory. Even the legendary Kobayashi weighs a modest 160lbs pounds.

Eric Booker, left, and Sonya Thomas compete in a ham biscuit eating contest in 2006. Thomas ate 60 to Booker's 42

Ryan Nerz is a spokesman for MLE, and the author of the competitive eating chronicle Eat This Book. As a non-competitor, he's still unsure of the motivations of most professional eaters. "America will make a sport out of anything," he says. "A lot of college fraternities and Wall Street banks hold eating contests, where they take bets on how many Big Macs they can eat in 10 minutes. Guys like to claim they're big eaters the same way they claim they're big drinkers.

"At the big eating events you have normal guys who get up and do this thing well, beat a bunch of people, and all of a sudden they have a camera shoved in their face. They get a whole new group of friends, a blog, a MySpace page, fans. It very quickly becomes their identity, and it transcends their former identity as a waiter at a pizza restaurant, an accountant or whatever."

The profile of a typical competitive eater has changed in recent years, from the overweight, blue-collar champions of old, such as Eric "Badlands" Booker, who has released two competitive-eating-themed hip-hop albums (Hungry and Focused and Hungry and Focused II: The Ingestion Engine) to a younger, slimmer, more middle-class competitor. There are now even two women in the world top 10, including Sonya Thomas.

MLE has made attempts to take the sport global, including holding a mince pie eating contest in Somerset in 2006, and a chicken satay eating contest at the first MLE Asia event in Singapore last week. Lup Fun Yau, 35, holds UK records for the eating of sugared doughnuts without licking one's lips (six in three minutes), and full English breakfasts (five and ¾ platefuls of fried food in 12 minutes). "It's a US sport," he says. "They take it far more seriously and the prize money is much bigger. The Black Widow and Joey the Jaws have made millions from it; they're in it for the money. But for people in England it's just about having a laugh, getting in the newspaper and having your 15 minutes of fame."

Kobayashi's jaw condition was a rarity, but intestinal injuries are expected to become more common as eaters develop training regimes as rigorous as an athlete's. Some top competitors regularly knock back large amounts of liquid (water, milk, or cola) to teach their stomachs to stretch. As well as the ever-present threat of gastric rupture, such treatment may damage their stomachs' digestive capabilities in the long term. "They're very close-lipped (pun intended) about their training methods," says Nerz. "They have to work on their stomach capacity. They have to work on being able to swallow large, barely chewed chunks of food. And some of them simply have natural talents – Joey Chestnut just has a really big mouth."

MLE maintains strict safety standards at all of its events, including the presence of emergency medics, and a lower-age limit of 18. But no one can legislate against unsanctioned competitions. Such episodes have led to a number of deaths. Adam Deeley, a graphic design student from Swansea, recently died after eating five fairy cakes in an impromptu contest. In January, a woman in California died after drinking almost two gallons of water in a competition sponsored by local radio – the prize on offer was a Nintendo Wii. And in 2002, a 14-year-old schoolboy from Japan choked to death after challenging his friends to a bread-eating race.

"Something like that happens every couple of years," says Nerz. "And we think that bolsters our whole reason for existing. Eating contests will occur whether or not they're organised by a governing body like MLE. So you may as well make sure they're organised with an emergency medical technician at every contest, and with a group like us who'll monitor the safety of each contest. The reason each of our events is only about eight to 12 minutes long is that, not only will the audience and the media reach a limit of what they want to watch, but also the competitors won't cause themselves any distinct damage."

It says something about the decadence of the developed world that we should celebrate the swallowing of 47 glazed doughnuts in eight minutes (by Eric Booker), while the world food crisis rages just outside the stadium gates. Then again, as Nerz argues, motorsport also has an ethical case to answer: "[But] people don't complain about Nascar wasting gas."

The competitive eaters' hall of fame

Mayonnaise: Four 907g bowls in 8 minutes - Oleg Zhornitskiy

Mince pies: 6 pies at the Wookey Hole Big Eat in Somerset in 10 minutes - Sonya Thomas, 29 November 2006

Nigiri sushi: 141 pieces in six minutes - Timothy Janus, 11 April 2008

Peanut butter & jelly sandwiches: 42 sandwiches in 10 minutes - Patrick Bertoletti, 8 August 2007

Spam: 2.72kg of Spam in 12 minutes - Richard LeFevre, 3 April 2004

Pork ribs: 3.81kg in 12 minutes - Joey Chestnut, 16 July 2006

Pigs' trotters: 1.31kg of pigs' trotters in 10 minutes- Arturo Rios Jr, 23 June 2007

Peas: 4.31kg in 12 minutes - Eric Booker

Shrimps: 2.26kg of spot shrimps in 12 minutes - Erik Denmark, 22 September 2006

Jalapeños: 177 pickled jalapeño peppers in 15 minutes - Patrick Bertoletti

Waffles: 29 waffles in 10 minutes - Patrick Bertoletti, 7 October 2007

Lobster: 44 Maine lobsters (5.13kg of meat) from the shell in 12 minutes - Sonya Thomas, 13 August 2005

As I've mentioned previously, simply vulgar. Some people in the world can barely eat enough to survive, others are able to eat for pleasure, but eating wastefully for a sport is immoral.

Monday. I even got into work earlier today.

24 August 2008

Fang Zhen didn't go to the Olympics

Untold stories are always the most interesting. Especially those that we are not supposed to know. From The Australian
The story Beijing doesn't want told
Peter Lalor | August 22, 2008 12:00am

THERE are always great stories of courage around the Olympics and Paralympics. Women with one leg, men shaking off the burden of tragedy, ordinary people defying the odds.

So, too, the story of a Chinese athletic champion pieced together from various website reports that you can access from the cheap seats but are almost certainly blocked in Beijing.

As a boy, Fang Zhen was so motivated by the inclusion of China back into the Olympic family at the Los Angeles Games in 1984 that he set his sights on studying at the Beijing Academy of Physical Science. He wanted to represent his country and went on to be a promising discus and javelin thrower.

Unfortunately that dream was shattered when both legs were amputated (one below and one above the knee) following a vehicle accident.

Fang was not totally discouraged and went on to represent Beijing in the third All-China Disabled Athletic Games in Guangzhou, winning two gold medals and breaking two records. However, he has not been able to compete again because of a government order.

Tracked down by a reporter recently, Fang said he would stay at his home in Hefei in Anhui province rather than travel to Beijing for these Games.

"I do not plan to come to Beijing for Olympics or Paralympics," Fang told The Independent newspaper. "As to what happened to me, it was many years ago. I am certainly very angry about it. These days I live a very ordinary life. I am just an ordinary civilian."

The reason Fang has not been allowed to compete is because the Chinese Government is worried he might tell the truth about his "traffic accident".

Fang, you see, got caught up in the Tiananmen Square protests. While fleeing soldiers, who were throwing hand grenades at the protestors, he paused to help a female student. In that moment, he became entangled with a tank which dragged him along and crushed his legs.

You can read a little of Fang's story in an open letter from two jailed Chinese human rights activists, Teng Biao and Hu Jia.

It's an interesting document which details some of those annoying little abuses and crimes against humanity that have been perpetrated to make sure these Games run smoothly.

The activist pair claim that in April, 2007, the Ministry for Public Security sent out an internal document barring "43 types of people" from 11 categories, including dissidents, the media and religious participants from participating in the Olympics.

Hu Jia, coincidentally, is another one of those heroic Olympic stories. No doubt you would have heard all about it, but the International Olympic Committee and the Beijing administrators have somehow overlooked the need to invite reporters to the prison where he is held.

The activist was sentenced to three-and-a-half years' jail in April this year for inciting subversion -- that is, he criticised the government by putting out documents like the open letter cited above.

Hu is married to Zeng Jinvan and the couple has a baby daughter. There is a picture of the Beijing family on the internet if you want a look. Zeng has detailed the stories of trying to visit her husband in prison on a blog site, which, strangely enough, has been shut down.

The young woman had been writing a blog for some time and last year was voted as one of Times Magazine's "100 men and women whose power, talent or moral example is transforming the world". The magazine said she was "Tiananmen 2.0".

That was enough for the cockroaches who run these Games to put her under house arrest in her Beijing flat around the time they jailed her husband.

Unfortunately none of the journalists who bothered to make the trip to her apartment before the Games was allowed past the goons and any who want to visit now are wasting their time.

Zeng and her baby disappeared on the eve of the Olympics and her family has been unable to contact her since. Her lawyer, Li Fangping, told the American network ABC that he believed she had been taken out of the city by public security officers until the end of the Games.

Li is so nervous at the increased scrutiny of his own life that he voluntarily left Beijing when the circus came to town.

Of course it would be churlish to criticise the Chinese for jailing political activists during the Games. As we all know sport and politics should never mix.
Governments that try to control information through censorship have a lot to hide.

Today was a very lazy day. I did iron seven shirts, and fold a laundry, which had been piling for months. Okay, today was a less lazy day than usual.

23 August 2008


I liked this article in the Daily Mail (UK)
'You make the best homemade stew around': Sting pops to the top of misheard lyrics chart

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 8:20 PM on 20th August 2008

This is one chart that Sting probably wishes he didn't top.

The rock legend has come first - as well as seventh - on a list of the most commonly misheard pop lyrics.

Message in a Bottle, his 1979 hit with the Police has the line: 'A year has passed since I wrote my note'.

But fans regularly mishear it as: 'A year has passed since I broke my nose'.

His 1980 song When the World is Running Down, is meant to say: 'You make the best of what's still around'. To some, however, it sounds more like: 'You make the best homemade stew around'.

Sting, 56, beat the Beatles, the Bee Gees, Queen and David Bowie in the online poll of 2,000 music fans.

The Beatles also make two appearances in the top ten, with Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and Michelle.

In the first song, the line: 'The girl with kaleidoscope eyes' is apparently misheard as... 'The girl with colitis goes by'.

And 'Michelle, ma belle, sont les mots qui vont tres bien ensemble, tres bien ensemble, sounds to some like: 'Michelle ma belle, some say monkeys play piano well, play piano well'.

The Bee Gees came in at number two with Stayin' Alive. 'It's all right,

it's okay, you may look the other way' is mistaken for: 'It's all right, it's okay, you make love the other way'.

Such misunderstandings, or mishearings, are called mondegreens. The term is a reference to the 17th century ballad The Bonnie Earl O' Murray, in which the final line 'and laid him on the green', can be heard as 'and Lady Mondegreen'.

A spokesman for hearing aid retailer Amplifon, which commissioned the survey, said: 'We heard some brilliant misquotes during our research that had us in stitches.

'However, there's a serious side to the survey as it highlights the sad fact that in the UK alone there are an estimated nine million people classed as deaf or hard of hearing.' Interestingly, Sting was last year voted the worst lyricist in history, by readers of a U.S. music magazine, for 'mountainous pomposity and cloying spirituality' and his use of 'ham-handed metaphors''
I mishear lyrics all the time. A lot of singers actually mumble.

Today was a very lazy day, aside from a lot of walking.

Declan, Nell and Kim came around for dinner. I made a lamb roast, with roast vegetables (pumpkin, beetroot and fennel), and blanched broccoli. Nell brought over home-made brownie and some ice cream.

He was singled out for rhyming the word 'cough' with 'Nabokov', and for De Do Do Do De Da Da Da.

football - round 21

CARLTON 7.2 11.3 12.4 18.7 (115)
3.4 7.9 16.12 16.13 (109)

C Cloke 4 R Houlihan 3 B Fisher 3 B Fevola 2 M Murphy 2 J Waite 2 N Stevens A Walker.
D Bradshaw 6 J Brown 4 L Power 2 A Corrie 2 R Hooper M Rischitelli.

C Cloke N Stevens B Fevola M Murphy B Fisher B Thornton.
D Bradshaw B Dalziell S Black M Rischitelli.

S Stewart S Meredith S Ryan.
Offical crowd: 34,327 at Gabba.

They did it again, snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. My team will not be playing finals football.


Jed trying to shake Juddy

Razzle Dazzle

Big Red

22 August 2008

whales - part 4

Unfortunately, Colin (now found to be Colette) the abandoned humpback whale calf who had been languishing in Sydney could not be saved and was euthanised today (see The Age). The baby whale captured the imagination of the world's media and the hearts of Sydney-siders.

Meanwhile, reported in The Australian
Whalers' toll tops 200
From correspondents in Tokyo | August 22, 2008

JAPANESE whaling ships caught 211 whales during their three-month voyage in the northwest Pacific, the fisheries agency said.

The main ship of the six-vessel fleet, 8044-ton Nisshin-maru, will arrive in Tokyo on Saturday, with the rest returning to their ports by the end of the month, the agency said.

Since they left on June 6, the ships caught 100 sei whales, 59 minke whales, 50 Bryde's whales and two sperm whales, the agency said Friday.

The Japanese government, which says whaling is part of the national culture, plans to kill around 1000 whales a year using a loophole in a 1986 international moratorium that allows "lethal research" on whales.

Japan's last catch in the Antarctic Ocean earlier this year came to little more than half of that due to harassment by Sea Shepherd activists, who hurled stink bombs and hopped onto the whaling ship.

Members of Sea Shepherd have repeatedly tried to interfere with Japanese whaling.

One of the latest cases occurred in March, when the militant activists hurled acid on to a Japanese whaling ship off Antarctica, hurting three crew members.

Japan has previously demanded that Australia, where Sea Shepherd had docked, take action against the activists.

Australia and most other Western nations have opposed Japan's whaling, arguing that it is inhumane and endangers a growing whale-watching industry.
Many people wanted to save Colin/Colette by any means possible. Quite surprising then, that the Japanese government wasn't approached for assistance, given all the research they have done on whales.

Oh, that was sarcasm.

It has been a long week, and there were days when I should have stayed home from work. Quite a few people have been away sick this week.

Tonight, I watched Jumper. The film had lukewarm reviews, but I still enjoyed the special effects.

21 August 2008

The Chicago Spire

A super skyscraper/tower under construction in Chicago is the Chicago Spire, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava and being developed by Garrett Kelleher of Shelbourne Development Group, Inc.

When completed, it will be 609.6 m (2000 ft) tall with 150 floors, and the ninth-tallest freestanding structure in the world. It will contain 1200 apartments/condominiums with a price range from $800,000 to $40 million (US dollars).

I think it looks like a drill bit. The Giant Drill Bit.

The design is rather phallic. I wonder if the architect has any issues.

Emily came over for dinner tonight. I made baked pork ribs (with bbq sauce), with mash potatoes and broccolini.

20 August 2008

the two Anastasias

I never gave synchronised swimming much credence until I woke up last night from an after work nap and it happened to be on tv.

I was actually impressed. It looked really difficult to keep legs kicking above the water. The two Anastasias from Russia were awesome!

Russia's Anastasia Davydova and Anastasia Ermakova with a gold medal winning performance at the Beijing Olympic Games on 20 August 2008

Rob came around for dinner after work. I made roast pork belly (marinated with preserved lemon, marmalade and soy sauce), served with blanched bok choy and couscous. A simple meal. We then walked Kane around the big block.

19 August 2008

100 years, but is it authentic?

The Brits are celebrating 100 years of Chinese food in their country. From the Daily Telegraph
Making the Chinese sexy
Adam Edwards
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 01/08/2008

After 100 years, Britain is still the place for original oriental food, says Adam Edwards

Next week, as our Olympians prepare to wave the flag at the opening ceremony of the 2008 games at Beijing's "Bird's Nest" stadium, a lower profile celebration will occur in London. Not only is it 100 years since the British capital first hosted the Games, it is also a century since the first Chinese restaurant in these islands opened its doors.

Ching-He Huang
Ching-He Huang: 'There's nothing more British than a chinese restaurant'

That first dish was served to curious London diners in 1908. Since then, the Chinese restaurant has become an integral part of most of our lives.

It was that summer that Chung Koon, formerly a ship's chef on the Red Funnel Line, opened Maxim's in Soho, the first mainstream Chinese restaurant in Britain. The food was Cantonese and the most popular dish was pork in a sweet and sour sauce called "jarjow".

But it was not until after the Second World War that the Chinese restaurant emerged as an integral part of our national life. Its genesis was the result of the British government recognition of Mao Tse-tung's Communist regime stranding scores of staff at the Chinese Embassy in London. Some, including the diplomat Kenneth Lo, opened restaurants in Soho.

A decade later, in 1958, Chung Koon's son, John, opened the Lotus House in Queensway, Bayswater. This was so popular that customers who couldn't get a table asked for food to take away. Thus it became the first take-away in Britain. That same year, Billy Butlin introduced chop suey and chips in his holiday camps, turning what had been an exotic food into an English high street staple.

Today our love affair with Chinese food shows no signs of waning. According to recent figures from the Restaurant Association, Britons eat more than 110 million Chinese meals a year, while a survey earlier this year from the food company Amoy found that three out of five Britons said that their favourite food was Chinese.

"The Chinese restaurant is part of modern British life," says Ching-He Huang (pictured above), host of the current BBC2 series Chinese Food Made Easy. "Everyone talks of having a 'Chinese' on a Friday or Saturday evening," she says. "The food may often be Anglicised and not representative of all of China, where there are more than 50 different regional foods, but there is a place for everything in our cuisine." Now, as the sweet and sour restaurateurs celebrate the centenary of "The Chinese", it is beginning to change.

"The food is getting more authentic, more regional and more sophisticated," says Alan Yau, proprietor of London's stylish Hakkasan.

"Chinese food has not changed very much over the past 20 years. But now chefs are moving on. They are using healthier food and making mainstream cuisine much more discerning." Sir David Tang, owner of China Tang in London's Dorchester Hotel, agrees that there is now a broader acceptance of what he calls "the non-standard chop suey food".

"Like all cuisine, a niche was found from a broader range," says Sir David. "It will probably take a little bit of time to move on, but eventually people will understand the different kinds of regional Chinese cooking - just as the distinctions between northern and southern Italian, or urban and provençal French, are already appreciated." This new sophisticated approach to Chinese food is a long way removed from the world of monosodium glutamate that most of us were weaned on. And that MSG culture bore even less relation to the early Chinese restaurants in Britain, which were crude cafés in the docks of London and Liverpool, catering exclusively for Chinese seamen.

"Until the Seventies, Chinese restaurants served British-style food such as chop suey, curry and sweet and sour," says Tatyan Cheung (pictured left), who has been running Tatyan's restaurant in Cirencester for 20 years.

"Then Yang Tzu Kune, a Cambridge graduate, founded the Rendezvous restaurant chain in London and introduced more truly Chinese dishes such as shredded beef and crispy duck." The Chinese restaurant moved from being a cheap and cheerful after-pub joint to a middle market establishment for a more upmarket customer. But today most of those restaurants still offer the simplified Hong Kong Cantonese menu that we have all come to know by number and love by name. Now the move towards more regional dishes is about to change the menu once again.

"London is the innovator and the city has made modern Chinese food sexy," says Alan Yau.

"This will be followed by an uptake in provincial England. It has happened before - there was Ken Lo in the Sixties, Mr Chow and the Rendezvous in the Seventies and Zen in the Eighties. They were all players who set the agenda." But while the food is changing, there are fears that the traditional "Chinese", which Culture Online - part of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport - recently nominated as an English icon, is losing out to the new ethnic restaurants.

Tatyan Cheung says that in the past 10 years there has been a gradual decline in both the restaurant and the take-away business.

"The British are travelling to more exotic places and now want different food - Thai, Mexican and Malaysian food are all currently cutting into our core business," he says.

Meanwhile, with a bit of luck our Olympians will be enjoying the food in Beijing, confident ordering from menus they first encountered as children from the 100-year-old British institution that is "The Chinese".

I had a "Chinese" meal with my cousin at a restaurant on Wardour Street in London once, a few years ago. Actually it was twice. We agreed that the food was terrible and terribly 'Anglicised' for the local palate.

After 100 years, "Chinese" food may be a favourite there, but British (English, Welsh, Scottish) people still don't know how to eat it. They do not order dishes to share communally, nor can they use chopsticks.

Australia had Chinese restaurants way before they first appeared in Britain, although those that began appearing in small country towns initially served steak and chips along 'Australianised' fare . Thankfully, the restaurants in the cities eventually served authentic food. With increasing numbers of students from mainland China now studying in Australia (Melbourne and Sydney especially), there are now plenty of cheap places to eat real Chinese food.

I feel asleep on the couch after I returned home from work today.

18 August 2008

the prime minister and my football team

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd congratulates Jamie Charman

The Australian Prime Minister attended Saturday's game between my team, the Brisbane Lions and the Western Bulldogs.

Mr Rudd had a paid membership once.

At the game, Mr Rudd wore his own, very old market-bought football scarf. It wasn't even legitimate licensed merchandise.

As there wasn't much on tv tonight, I watched Jeepers Creepers 2. I forgot how scary the film is and had to ask Kane to lay close by in order to protect me.

17 August 2008

Olympic spirit

These Olympics seem to be focused on winners and gold medals, and Michael Phelps. Actually, I find the stories about those who did their best without any expectations to be much more interesting.

Last week, I finally caught some of the footage of the men's gymnastics and was amazed at Benoit Caranobe's floor routine.

Veuillez installer Flash Player pour lire la vidéo

Benoit was having so much fun that he didn't realise he had won a medal.

From Les Dessous du Sport
Réalisez-vous votre exploit ?
C’est encore un peu flou, mais ça commence à venir. C’est une grande satisfaction pour moi et surtout une énorme surprise. Je veux maintenant savourer cette médaille.

Pourquoi une surprise ?
Mon objectif en arrivant à Pékin était d’entrer en finale au saut de cheval. Le concours général, c’était un plus. Je voulais réussir mes mouvements, conserver ma 9e place et me faire plaisir.
And Reuters
Caranobe too busy having fun to notice medal

By Sonia Oxley
Thu Aug 14, 2008

BEIJING (Reuters) - French gymnast Benoit Caranobe was so busy having fun in the all-around final on Thursday that he did not even realize he had won an Olympic bronze medal.

The 28-year-old went about his business almost unnoticed while all the focus was on Chinese Yang Wei's successful bid for gold and the remarkable comeback by Japan's Kohei Uchimura to snatch silver.

While favorites like German Fabian Hambuechen and South Korean Yang Tae-young were fluffing their lines, Caranobe was giving the performance of his life to become the first French gymnast to stand on the all-around podium for 88 years.

"My happiness is so tremendous, it was so unexpected that I believe that this medal is only going to sink in a little bit later," Caranobe told a news conference.

"I was not taking any notice of my scores or anyone else's scores, I only realized at the end that I had won a medal," he told reporters.

He first started gymnastics as a child alongside his triplet brother and sister. They gave up but he persevered, eventually helping France reach the men's team final here and qualifying in 10th place for the 24-man all-around event.

"This was my best ever performance," said Caranobe. "I thought it would be necessary for some other gymnasts to make errors for me to place among the top eight. I just wasn't thinking about a medal at all. It is an unbelievable feeling."

Caranobe said he had not even been aware that the last French medals in the Olympic all-around were Marcos Torres' silver and Jean Gounot's bronze in Antwerp in 1920.

He has the chance to grab a second medal in Monday's final for the vault, on which he was the top gymnast on Thursday with a score of 16.600.

The champagne is on ice for now.

"I can't really celebrate this evening as I still have to think about the vault final," he said.

"My next final is really close to my heart and I want to focus on it and to enjoy it.

(Editing by Keith Weir)

More from AFP and France2.

I'm astounded by attitudes that a silver medal means losing. One doesn't need a gold medal or a world record to be a winner.

The weekend has been a relaxing one. I caught up with Sue D when we went to the farmers' market followed by our walk up Mount Painter with Kane. I postponed dinner with Kim, Declan and Nell until next Saturday (Kim was ill yesterday). I also meant to go to the cinema with Emily today, but opted to stay at home.

football - round 20

BRISBANE LIONS 3.3 6.4 8.8 13.12 (90)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 4.4 7.8 8.14 10.19 (79)

Brisbane Lions:
Hooper 3, Brown 3, Bradshaw 2, Copeland, Dalziell, Power, Rischitelli, Patfull.
Western Bulldogs: Giansiracusa 3, Johnson 2, Griffen, Gilbee, Murphy, Harbrow, Eagleton.

Brisbane Lions:
Dalziell, Patfull, Power, Black, Brown, Brennan.
Western Bulldogs: Eagleton, Cooney, Cross, Boyd, Giansiracusa, Johnson.

UMPIRES McBurney, Farmer, Chamberlain.
CROWD 27,315 at Gabba.

What a win last night, and I missed it!



Joely Pat


Ash, Big Red, Bushy, Jmac and Moods

15 August 2008

Sir Nils

Military penguin becomes a 'Sir'

Penguin Nils Olav inspects the guardsmen at the zoo

A penguin who was previously made a Colonel-in-Chief of the Norwegian Army has been knighted at Edinburgh Zoo.

Penguin Nils Olav has been an honorary member and mascot of the Norwegian King's Guard since 1972.

Over the years, he has been promoted through the ranks after being adopted by Royal Guard who visited the zoo.

During the ceremony, Nils had a sword dubbed on each side of his head, where his shoulders should be, to confirm his regimental knighthood.

A crowd of several hundred people joined the 130 guardsmen at the zoo. A citation from King Harald the Fifth of Norway was read out, which described Nils as a penguin "in every way qualified to receive the honour and dignity of knighthood".

The guardsmen come to see Nils every few years while they are in Edinburgh performing at the city's Military Tattoo.

The proud penguin was on his best behaviour throughout most of the ceremony, but shortly before the ritual was concluded and possibly suffering a bout of nerves he was seen to deposit a discreet white puddle on the ground.

'Extremely proud'

Drawing a polite veil over that, Darren McGarry, animal collection manager at the zoo, said afterwards: "It went extremely well and we are delighted that the Norwegian Guard honoured Nils Olav with a knighthood.

"We all enjoyed the occasion and Nils was a perfect penguin throughout."

British Major General Euan Loudon officiated at the ceremony.

Mr McGarry, added: "Nils always recognises the Norwegian guardsmen when they come to visit him.

"He loves the attention he receives at the ceremony and takes his time inspecting the troops."

Nils has also received medals for long service and had a 4ft bronze statue built in his honour.

Guardsman Captain Rune Wiik said: "We are extremely proud of Nils Olav and pleased that an enduring part of the Royal Guard is resident in Scotland helping to further strengthen ties between our two countries."

However, the penguin honoured on Friday is unfortunately not the original Nils Olav.

He died in the 1980s and was replaced by a two-year-old penguin at the Zoo.

Norway presented the zoo with its first king penguin in 1913, the year of its opening.

David Windmill, chief executive of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, the charity that owns Edinburgh Zoo, said: "We have a long-standing history with the Norwegian King's Guard and it is something we are extremely proud of."

This story appealed to me! King penguins are found naturally in the south of our planet. I wonder how many people think that king penguins are from Norway.

Anyway, I expect that Sir Nils Olav's next promotion will be to Norwegian prime minister, or crown prince.

14 August 2008

run for your life

From Stanford University School of Medicine press release, 11 August 2008
Running slows the aging clock, Stanford researchers find

STANFORD, Calif. — Regular running slows the effects of aging, according to a new study from the Stanford University School of Medicine that has tracked 500 older runners for more than 20 years. Elderly runners have fewer disabilities, a longer span of active life and are half as likely as aging nonrunners to die early deaths, the research found.

“The study has a very pro-exercise message,” said James Fries, MD, an emeritus professor of medicine at the medical school and the study’s senior author. “If you had to pick one thing to make people healthier as they age, it would be aerobic exercise.” The new findings appear in the Aug. 11 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

When Fries and his team began this research in 1984, many scientists thought vigorous exercise would do older folks more harm than good. Some feared the long-term effect of the then-new jogging craze would be floods of orthopedic injuries, with older runners permanently hobbled by their exercise habit. Fries had a different hypothesis: he thought regular exercise would extend high-quality, disability-free life. Keeping the body moving, he speculated, wouldn’t necessarily extend longevity, but it would compress the period at the end of life when people couldn’t carry out daily tasks on their own. That idea came to be known as “the compression of morbidity theory.”

Fries’ team began tracking 538 runners over age 50, comparing them to a similar group of nonrunners. The subjects, now in their 70s and 80s, have answered yearly questionnaires about their ability to perform everyday activities such as walking, dressing and grooming, getting out of a chair and gripping objects. The researchers have used national death records to learn which participants died, and why. Nineteen years into the study, 34 percent of the nonrunners had died, compared to only 15 percent of the runners.

At the beginning of the study, the runners ran an average of about four hours a week. After 21 years, their running time declined to an average of 76 minutes per week, but they were still seeing health benefits from running.

On average both groups in the study became more disabled after 21 years of aging, but for runners the onset of disability started later.

“Runners’ initial disability was 16 years later than nonrunners,’” Fries said. “By and large, the runners have stayed healthy.”

Not only did running delay disability, but the gap between runners’ and nonrunners’ abilities got bigger with time.

“We did not expect this,” Fries said, noting that the increasing gap between the groups has been apparent for several years now. “The health benefits of exercise are greater than we thought.”

Fries was surprised the gap between runners and nonrunners continues to widen even as his subjects entered their ninth decade of life. The effect was probably due to runners’ greater lean body mass and healthier habits in general, he said. “We don’t think this effect can go on forever,” Fries added. “We know that deaths come one to a customer. Eventually we will have a 100 percent mortality rate in both groups.”

But so far, the effect of running on delaying death has also been more dramatic than the scientists expected. Not surprisingly, running has slowed cardiovascular deaths. However, it has also been associated with fewer early deaths from cancer, neurological disease, infections and other causes.

And the dire injury predictions other scientists made for runners have fallen completely flat. Fries and his colleagues published a companion paper in the August issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine showing running was not associated with greater rates of osteoarthritis in their elderly runners. Runners also do not require more total knee replacements than nonrunners, Fries said.

“Running straight ahead without pain is not harmful,” he said, adding that running seems safer for the joints than high-impact sports such as football, or unnatural motions like standing en pointe in ballet.

“When we first began, there was skepticism about our ideas,” Fries said. “Now, many other findings go in the same direction.”

Fries, 69, takes his own advice on aging: he’s an accomplished runner, mountaineer and outdoor adventurer.

Hanging on his office wall is a photo he jokingly describes as “me, running around the world in two minutes.” In the dazzling image of blue sky and white ice, Fries makes a tiny lap around the North Pole.

Fries collaborated with Stanford colleagues Eliza Chakravarty, MD, MS, an assistant professor of medicine; Helen Hubert, PhD, a researcher now retired from Stanford, and Vijaya Lingala, PhD, a research software developer.

The research was supported by grants from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases and by the National Institute on Aging.

I wonder whether this study should be compared to studies done on runners who have died while running.

What is also interesting about the media release is that Reuters and AFP picked up the story and some media outlets just used the wire services instead of looking for the original source (shame on The Age).

This week is already far too long. Thank goodness tomorrow is Friday.

Emily came over for dinner tonight and I made a bacon and vegetable frittata for dinner. Neil, who is home in Perth on leave from his posting in Tehran phoned her, so I had a quick word with him.

13 August 2008

Decagon House

The Decagon House is a residential house in Oxford (UK) built by Henry Chopping. It featured in the Channel 4 series, Grand Designs, which is being rebroadcast in Australia on ABC1.

The finished interior of the living room shows off the ceiling feature of the main decagon design.

Too many houses are just too square.

I don't know of any bureaucrats/civil servants who look forward to going in to work because they enjoy it.

12 August 2008

I wonder if the shit hit the fan

American artist Paul McCarthy's installation in Bern at Zentrum Paul Klee literally blew away. From AFP
Flying piece of art causes museum chaos in Switzerland
12 August 2008

GENEVA (AFP) — A giant inflatable dog turd by American artist Paul McCarthy blew away from an exhibition in the garden of a Swiss museum, bringing down a power line and breaking a greenhouse window before it landed again, the museum said Monday.

The art work, titled "Complex Shit", is the size of a house. The wind carried it 200 metres (yards) from the Paul Klee Centre in Berne before it fell back to Earth in the grounds of a children's home, said museum director Juri Steiner.

The inflatable turd broke the window at the children's home when it blew away on the night of July 31, Steiner said. The art work has a safety system which normally makes it deflate when there is a storm, but this did not work when it blew away.

Steiner said McCarthy had not yet been contacted and the museum was not sure if the piece would be put back on display.

Actually, the AFP report did not mention "Complex Shit" at all, instead using "Complex S(expletive..)". What the?

The item was picked up by a number media outlets, which did not have any problem with the word "shit". In fact, their bylines were also less tame.

- The Age - Blow-up poo causes museum chaos
- The Australian - Complex Shit causes museum chaos
- Die Welt - Aufblasbarer Hundehaufen fliegt durch Bern
- Daily Telegraph - Giant inflatable turd escapes moorings and brings down electricity line
- The Guardian - Giant dog turd wreaks havoc at Swiss museum

I'm waiting for the story to be picked up by the American media to see if they actually use the word "shit".

I wonder if the shit hit the fan in Bern.

Here is a picture of what it looks like, when it was installed at Middelheimmuseum in Antwerp.

I wonder if I should start photographing Kane's dog poo in the back yard to enter into photographic competitions. Err, I mean "shit".

Tuesday. Just three more days to go before the weekend.

11 August 2008

towing the line

From The Age (Channel Seven is the Australian broadcaster of the games)
Claims Tibet ad pulled at last minute
Josh Gordon
August 10, 2008

CHANNEL Seven has been accused of "pulling" an advertisement highlighting human rights abuses in Tibet, booked to be screened during Friday night's opening ceremony.

Advocacy organisation GetUp! claims that a TV ad produced jointly with the Australia Tibet Council was dumped at the last minute by Games host network Seven because the broadcaster feared it would damage commercial arrangements with the International Olympic Committee and China.

The ad depicts an Australian Tibetan woman making a plea to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to speak out on human rights issues in Tibet before he leaves Beijing. GetUp! said the 30-second ad was scheduled to run both before and after the ceremony in five capital cities and five regional centres.

GetUp! director Brett Solomon said his organisation would now buy time on channels Nine and Ten to air the ad over the next two weeks.

"Our plan is to run the television ad on every other (major) station in the country but Seven," Mr Solomon said.

But Seven is denying the claims, saying GetUp! had in fact booked an ad relating to the Government's Fuel Watch scheme, but Seven had been unable to air it because the opening ceremony ran 45 minutes late. Mr Francis said GetUp! was one of 18 clients whose ads did not air.

Mr Solomon said Seven's claims were "completely untrue".

Here is the GetUp! ad

Despite a healthy democracy with a free press, commercial arrangements do dictate.

Today was cold. Our work section has a new boss. I fell asleep on the couch after returning home from work.

10 August 2008

cinema popcorn

According to The Observer (UK), cinemas in the UK are starting to ban popcorn.

Why stop there? Most films only last 90 minutes these day. Most people are also able to go for more than two hours in their own homes without a snack or drink.

Ban food in cinemas I say.

Today was a very lazy day. It was just too cold outside.

I did catch up with Devi for lunch. We went for dim sum (called yum cha in Australia) nearby (at the Dumpling Inn).

09 August 2008

Tracey Emin should make her bed

There is a Tracey Emin retrospective at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh. One of her most well-known pieces is Tracey Emin's unmade bed.

Why would anybody think that somebody else's messy bed is art? Even Katherine Whitehorn, writing for the BBC is confused.

If a kid 'maintained' an untidy bedroom, can he or she tell their parents that it is for artistic purposes?

Today was a fairly busy day. See Kane's blog.

I did manage to watch a DVD instead of the Olympics broadcast on TV. Paris, je 'taime was great. I must visit Paris again.


football - round 19

Hawthorn 1.3 3.7 7.11 16.14 (110)
Brisbane Lions 1.2 1.5 2.10 5.11 (41)

Franklin 6, Rioli 3, Stokes 2, Lewis 2, Roughead, Crawford, Dew.
Brisbane Lions: Bradshaw 2, Brown, Sherman, Brennan.

Franklin, Hodge, Crawford, Rioli, Mitchell, Lewis, Ellis.
Brisbane Lions: Rischitelli, Power, Johnstone, Black, Brennan.

Brisbane Lions: Charman (cut head), Drummond (quad).

Umpires: Meredith, McLaren, Chamberlain
Official crowd: 19,929 at Aurora Stadium

Great defensive pressure from my team, early on in this afternoon's game. Unfortunately Hawthorn is a far superior team.




08 August 2008

Beijing Olympics opening

Yes, I watched. Indeed, it is still on. Yes, it was quite spectacular. I really want to see how the cauldron will be lit.

Meanwhile, reported by Reuters
Clampdown on dissidents smothers Beijing and beyond
Fri Aug 8, 2008 9:22am EDT

By Chris Buckley

BEIJING (Reuters) - Countless Chinese will stay locked in on Friday night, watching the Beijing Olympics open on television. Quite a few will do so against their will.

The build-up to the opening ceremony has brought a smothering security lockdown aimed at ensuring dissidents and protesters do not distract from the official festivities.

Across Beijing, dissidents and their families are being held under house arrest, while others have fled to distant provinces or been taken on enforced "holidays" by state security minders, said human rights groups and many Chinese activists.

"I can go outside, but I have to ride in the police car with my guards wherever I go," said Yu Jie, a dissident-writer speaking by telephone. "It's absurd, because I have no interest in the Olympics, not even in watching them on television, and this is just giving me more subject-matter for critical essays."

Human Rights in China, a New York-based group, issued a list of 24 protesters, critics of Communist Party control and their family members detained or closely guarded in recent days.

"In order to ensure a 'Safe Olympics', the Chinese authorities have put society under a virtual lockdown," said Sharon Hom, executive director of the group, in an email.

On Friday, Beijing's Tiananmen Square was closed and surrounding streets cleared of people, many of them Chinese tourists hoping to enjoy pre-Games excitement on the landmark site.

Petitioners who have come to the capital to present complaints to officials have often been detained, many said. "We're always on the run now," said Wang Haizhen, a middle-aged woman from Hebei province next to Beijing.

China has said the relentless security and more than 100,000 police and troops watching Beijing are needed to foil terror threats during the Games.

Beijing Olympic organizers Secretary General Wang Wei said on Friday security was at the "top of the agenda".

"We spared no effort in terms of making a safe Games," he told a news conference. "The force has been reinforced. We share intelligence with other countries of the world. Nevertheless we want to make the Games relaxed."

Authorities routinely impose clampdowns during sensitive political meetings or on anniversaries to prevent protests that could be embarrassing or spark social unrest.

The lockdown extends beyond the skies, streets and subways of Beijing to towns and villages far from the capital, where peaceful rights campaigners and ordinary residents alleging official corruption described strict surveillance.

"I'd love to watch the Games opening ceremony but I'm being held in a room without a television cable," said Yao Lifa, a former teacher in central China's Hubei province who has long faced official pressure for demanding democratic change.

"I thought the Beijing Olympic Games were for all Chinese people, but it seems I'm an exception."

(Editing by Nick Macfie)
Interesting also that Sudan has such a small team. It's okay for the Chinese government to sell arms to the Sudanese government to use against its people in Darfur in exchange for oil, but they won't help them to send more athletes to the Olympics.

I'm so looking forward to the weekend.

8.08 080808

Just trying out my luck.

This post has been back 'dated'.

07 August 2008

Citius, Altius, Fortius... or Eric the eel

The Beijing Olympics has already started with some competitions despite the opening ceremony not until tomorrow.

Not every competitor in such games are there to win. Eric Moussambani from Equatorial Guinea swam in the Sydney Olympics and displayed a lot of courage.

From The Times (UK) of 19 September 2000

Courage on the blocks
Eric Moussambani, from Equatorial Guinea, learnt to swim in January when his nation established its first aquatics federation. Yesterday he stepped onto his blocks in baggy blue trunks, drawstrings dangling and untied, to make his Olympic debut over two lengths of the pool in freestyle.

It was a nervous moment for the 22-year-old, who fumbled with his goggles with the dexterity of a child handling a pen for the first time. Two lengths amounted to 100 metres but Moussambani, one of 11 from his country in Sydney, had only ever raced over 50 metres before in a 20-metre long pool, and the Olympic waters of the Sydney International Aquatic Centre stretched out before him like a marathon course.

Beside him were two bodysuited swimmers, Karim Bare, of Niger, and Farkhod Oripov, of Tajikistan - all three invited to Sydney under the friendship funding programme organised by Fina, swimming’s global authority.

The starter called the swimmers to their marks. Moussambani, 5ft 7in, held steady. The taller bodysuits wobbled, fell in and were cast out of the race under the one-start rule, their Olympic Games over. The 18,000-crowd booed but the judge would have none of it.

Moussambani would plough a lonely lane for his finest 1mins 52.7sec, though it felt like an hour. Equatorial Guinea’s aquatic answer to Eddie the Eagle - Eric the Eel - churned the lane in which Ian Thorpe had raced to a silver medal in 1min 45sec over double the distance the day before.

At first, the crowd clapped politely. But the mood turned upon Moussambani’s turn, for here was a man with an Olympic courage bigger than Thorpe’s feet. Confusion reigned for a moment - was he facing up or down, and did he know himself? A sense of relief washed over the pool as the man from Molabu surfaced to take a breath.

The largely Australian crowd - nearly every man, woman and child probably capable of swimming faster than Moussambani - warmed to the occasion and lifeguards stood by poised to plunge in for the rescue as the swimmer’s stroke shortened, and his legs sank from the surface. With a final desperate lunge, Moussambani was safe. It would be some while before he could get dry; an hour after clambering shattered on to the deck, he had still not made it through the gauntlet of cameras, microphones and media.

His time would have won the 100 metres at the world masters championships - in the 100 to 105 year group, the speed of a 97-year-old from the United States still a target on his way to Athens 2004.

Moussambani, who works in information technology, sent “kisses and hugs to the whole crowd”, and, speaking in Spanish and French, added: “I could hear them cheering and it helped me to get to the end. I didn’t want to swim 100 metres but my coach told me that I should do it anyway - I thought it was too much but thanks to the crowd, I made it.”

His mother and three younger siblings - his father is dead - would watch his great moment on television the next day. They had already seen him once. “I carried the flag at the opening ceremony because they needed a small swimmer to do it, and nobody knew who I was. But now, when I go home, everyone will know me,” he said. Moussambani was later to be found celebrating his newfound fame. “I’m going to jump and dance all night long in celebration of my personal triumph,” said the slowest swimmer in Sydney who became more famous than Thorpe for an hour at the Olympic Games yesterday.

Craig Lord
Swimming Correspondent

Here is the clip

If every nation only competed to win, then smaller nations with no chance of a medal would not bother attending.

Emily came over tonight and we had t-bone steak for dinner with oven baked (no oil) potatoes, pumpkin and fennel, and blanched broccolini.