30 September 2008

that drumming gorilla

A drumming gorilla has started appearing on Australian television.

He drums to Phil Collins' In the Air Tonight - still a fantastic song after all these years.

In fact, the advertisement took out the top award in the film category at the Cannes International Advertising Festival this year for Fallon.

I had no idea what the gorilla was selling until the very end.

The original advertisement aired in the UK last year. Their gorilla is now drumming to a different beat.

In fact, the gorilla drums to lots of different beats now (remixes).


I could do with a holiday.

29 September 2008

food dares

Reported in the Daily Mail, Mr Andrew Lee died after eating a plateful of chilli sauce after a dare with his girlfriend's brother over who could make the hottest chilli sauce.

Occasionally, food dares can be fatal, especially where allergies are involved, such as peanuts.

A much better food dare would be balut.

as eaten by Anthony Bourdain

First day in a brand new office (building) today. The kitchen and print room are further away. In fact most people have to walk more. What a shame we can't use the building stairs until the end of October.

28 September 2008

talking shit

Literally. Rose George has written a book about shit. There was a great review in the Observer
Cut the crap - let's talk about excrement
A brave author boldly ventures into our waste lands

Robin McKie
The Observer, Sunday September 28 2008

Mention Agincourt and English hearts stir with pride. The victory on 25 October 1415, by a ragged army of around 10,000 soldiers over a French army vastly superior in numbers, still evokes profound nationalistic feelings.

The Big Necessity: Adventures in the World of Human Waste
by Rose George
pp326, Portobello, £12.99

What is not often recorded, however, is the fact that half of England's archers fought while naked below the waist. Henry V's army had been ravaged by dysentery. Thus Voltaire concluded England had 'taken victory with its pants down'. Shakespeare, of course, makes no reference to this ailment among the medical complications that were 'had on Crispin's day'. It is not the most delicate of subjects, after all.

Nor have our sensitivities changed much over the centuries. Faeces, excreta-related diseases, diarrhoea and sanitation still tend to be avoided as dinner-table talking points. Terms for excrement remain our conversational taboo, as Rose George notes in this important book. 'Sex can be talked about. Death has once again become conversational. Yet defecation remains closed behind the words, all chosen for their clean association, that we now use to keep the most animal aspect of our bodies in the backyards of our discourse.'

And that is a shame, the author argues. As she notes, Gandhi observed that sanitation was more important than independence. And certainly, for those who lack it, the consequences are usually terrible, as George makes very clear. A total of 2.6 billion people today have no access to clean food or water and lead lives surrounded by human excrement, either in the bushes outside their villages or in their city streets. 'It is tramped back in on their feet, carried on fingers on to clothes, food and drinking water,' says George.

As a result, more than two million people, most of them children, die every year of diarrhoea triggered by faecally contaminated food or water, the equivalent of a child losing his or her life every 15 seconds. Faeces-related diseases kill more people than Aids, TB or malaria.

Yet we appear to lack the language even to discuss this toll or its causes. Hence George's book, a bid to get us talking about the excrement that is killing a third of the planet, a task, we should note, that does have some notable antecedents. Rudyard Kipling thought sewers were fascinating. 'I study 'em and write about 'em when I can,' he announced in 1886. Chekhov described the dreadful sanitation of the Russian isle of Sakhalin, while Freud wrote that humanity would be best advised 'to admit shit's existence and dignify it as much as nature will allow'.

So how does George fare against such august competition in her self-appointed task of bring the topic of sewage out of the water closet? Fairly well, I would say. Given the unappetising nature of her subject, her narrative is surprisingly tasteful and she successfully straddles a fine line between being scatological and silly and being humourless and self-righteous. In the process, we are taken on a grand tour of the sewers of London, whose 37,000-mile network dwarfs all rivals including New York's puny 6,000-mile system and Paris's piddling (sorry) 1,500 miles; we meet the workers who make Japan's deluxe, rim-heated, anus-showering super-lavatories; and we visit the World Toilet Organisation and its international college in Singapore. We discover that James 1 of Scotland was murdered by noblemen while hiding in his privy; that the average human bowel movement weighs 250 grams (about half a pound); and that we each spend, on average, three years of our lives going to the lavatory.

Most important, however, we learn of the profound benefits to be had from properly dealing with our own excrement. Most estimates suggest modern drains, sewers and lavatories have added 20 years to the average lifespan in the West and have brought more benefits than antibiotics, anaesthetics or the Pill. Those who lack these basic necessities face the prospect of disease and death. Bad hygiene and unsafe water cause one in 10 of the world's illnesses. Without sanitation, civilisation is impossible. Hence George's desire that 'we talk frankly about shit'.

• Robin McKie is The Observer's science editor
Cool. I hope the book explains why American toilets are full of water, thus resulting in splash while German toilets don't have any water until the flush.

I must get this book.

Today was a going out visiting day. I went to Devi's place and we waited a few hours for an electrician to finish installing her automatic carport door, then we went to the new DFO (Direct Factory Outlets) complex which had opened a week ago.

We returned to my place, walked Kane and then I cooked a mini lamb roast for dinner with roast potato, sweet potato and asparagus and unfortunately over cooked green beans.

27 September 2008

Big Bird is not a name!

Many many years late, but here goes.... what sort of a name is 'Big Bird'?

Couldn't Jim Henson have given him a proper name?

After all, even Oscar the Grouch is called Oscar, and not Stinky Grouch.

I reckon Big Bird should be renamed Stuart.

Today was a did nothing day. It was the footy grand final.

26 September 2008

naked clowns are still evil

In January, I wrote about evil clowns and coulrophobia.

As if that wasn't scary enough, they have decided to put out a Naked Clown Calendar.

This guy could give someone nightmares with that evil smile

Name: Jonah Katz
Hometown: Sebastopol, CA
Year of Birth: 1988
Special Skills: Tap dance, eccentric dance (pop/lock, robot), acrobatics, juggling


We were allowed to sign out at 2pm from work. We had work drinks, then I went home. Despite returning home at 3pm, I fell asleep on the couch, and woke up in time to take Kane on a walk.

25 September 2008

Tetsuya's confit of ocean trout

Tetsuya's is considered one of the world's best restaurants.

(picture from flickr - earlier posted picture removed due to copyright infringement)

His signature dish is confit of ocean trout (pictured above). In the (sydney) magazine, monthly supplement of the Sydney Morning Herald, Matthew Evans wrote about the journey of the fish and he gave away the secret (also multimedia).

In the beginning, Wakuda would often cure the fish a little, particularly if the texture was soft, by salting it briefly, and he has experimented with cooking oils, timing and temperature. "The recipe has changed - over four times," he says. "The fish is more consistent now. We don't cure it any more. No need."

The trout is simply cooked in a light olive oil mixed with grapeseed oil. The fish is immersed in the oil mixed with lightly crushed garlic and herbs, covered with plastic film and cooked for 25 minutes in an oven at about 50-55C, then left to cool. The ends of each fillet tend to become overcooked and are used at staff meals; the remainder provides five to six portions per side. The slices are dipped in konbu (dried kelp) and served on finely shredded fennel with daikon (long radish) and shiso cress. The white plate is dotted with ocean trout roe flavoured with sake and soy. The end result is a dish that mixes salty, silky, crisp and sweet elements.

So the trick of cooking oily fish like salmon or ocean trout is to use very low heat.

We are moving offices tomorrow, to a new building across the road. There was a lot of packing today.

24 September 2008

hog wash

A woman in rural New South Wales was terrorised by a pig. From ABC News
Hog hostage drama set to end

Posted Wed Sep 24, 2008 7:31am AEST
Updated Wed Sep 24, 2008 10:23am AEST

Bruce the pig will be taken to a piggery. (Emma Sykes)

* Video: Caroline Hayes describes the ordeal (ABC News)

An 80 kilogram pig that has outstayed its welcome on the New South Wales north coast is expected to be captured and sent to a piggery today.

The bald pig, nicknamed 'Bruce', has upset the neighbourhood with its incessant demands to be fed.

Caroline Hayes, 63, says she has been unable to leave her Uki house to use the farm's outdoor toilet at times because the pig is aggressive towards her.

Ms Hayes says the animal recently bit her on the leg when she tried to go to the toilet and pushed her into her bedroom, where she fell over.

"I picked up a broom and poked him out with it and he snapped it in half with his mouth," she said yesterday.

Rangers from Murwillumbah Council tried to catch the animal on Monday but had taken a cage that was too small.

Yesterday, a pest animal ranger from the Tweed Lismore Rural Lands Protection Board, Len Hing, visited the pig.

Mr Hing says while the creature is friendly, its large size makes it difficult to control when it is hungry.

"I wouldn't like to see the pig go as a pet anywhere because he could become a potentially dangerous animal," he said.

He says the pig will be removed this morning and relocated to a piggery.

"The pig isn't endangering anyone. He's nice and quiet," he said.

"I'd advise people not to go into the area where he is so that we can take the pig out of the area on a nice, quiet basis."

Ms Hayes had claimed the pig was as big as a shetland pony when she called the ABC yesterday morning.

She said the animal had come from a home two kilometres away but its owners could not handle it and let it loose in the rainforest.

The woman said she and her neighbours began feeding the pig when it showed up at their homes 11 days ago.

"When I found it, it had 15 ticks in its eyes which I actually took out," she said.

"One of its eyes it couldn't see out of, so I put cream in it and I fixed its back up, but apparently it's actually claimed my land and claimed my place."

Ms Hayes said the pig became aggressive when it wanted more food.

"It started getting very pushy, started pushing me around, so I started to get a bit frightened, until the stage that it started knocking on my door at 4 o'clock in the morning, actually head-butting my door," she said.

Ms Hayes, a self-described animal lover and vegetarian, said she had not stopped crying since the mayhem began.
The lesson of this story is never feed a pig that shows up at your place. If Ms Hayes wasn't a vegetarian, she could have threatened 'Bruce' to put him on a spit.

I was making a curry for dinner and Emily was going to drop in after her Bahasa language class, so she stayed for dinner. It makes up for tomorrow as she is going out to a birthday dinner instead.

23 September 2008

Hobbit feet

If we had Hobbit feet, the footware industry would not exist.

I've had to buy new shoes as Doc Martens are no longer what they used to be - now made in China. My last pair lasted under 12 months, with a hole in the leather upper.

My new shoes are Aquila and fashionable, but they hurt my feet.

Oh, to have Hobbit feet.

Happy Tuesday.

22 September 2008


Havidol (avafynetyme HCl) is the only treatment available for the newly recognised disorder of Dysphoric Social Attention Consumption Deficit Anxiety Disorder (DSACDAD).

Print media advertisements

Television advertisements

Before asking the doctor to prescribe, it might be worth reading this. Now if only Justine Cooper could earn as much as a product manager for a giant pharmaceutical company.

Monday. It rained.

21 September 2008

greed was the cause

Finally, an article with the background explaining how the whole mess happened. From US News & World Report
A New Direction on Wall Street
The feds take unprecedented actions to save the financial system
By Rick Newman
Posted September 19, 2008

On Wall Street, they're calling it the Great Unwind. Trillions of dollars of interlaced leverage and debt is now being removed around the globe after years of steady economic growth and record low interest rates encouraged investors and speculators, including scores of American financial institutions, to take unprecedented risk. Today, it's clear that those bets were made on a now collapsed foundation of greed and overly optimistic economic assumptions. And anyone with a dollar at risk is looking at mathematical models or even Ouija boards to figure out what happens next.

The job of keeping the Great Unwind from turning into another Great Depression has now fallen to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. In a mere two weeks, Paulson and Bernanke have transformed American capitalism, as they mount a high-stakes commando operation to head off the worst financial crisis since the '30s. After a dizzying fortnight of near-death experiences, the U.S. government now effectively owns the world's biggest insurance company, American International Group, and has approved up to$85 billion in loans from the American taxpayers to prevent a bankruptcy filing and a deeper market meltdown. The feds are now deeply into the mortgage business, too, thanks to a $200 billion commitment to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which fund three quarters of all home mortgages being written today. "Who would have thought that the United States would nationalize its financial assets?" asks economist James Barth of the nonprofit Milken Institute.

Global gloom. And it's not just an American crisis. Central banks worldwide have been forced to pony up a collective $200 billion plus to unplug the clogged drains of the global credit markets. Russia, recently celebrating its newfound oil wealth, suddenly found its stock market dysfunctional. And China, everyone's great financial superpower of tomorrow, moved to buy up shares in its banks. But not everybody is getting a bailout. When Richard Fuld, CEO of Lehman Brothers, came hat in hand, the feds said no, and Lehman declared bankruptcy virtually overnight. The once venerable Merrill Lynch didn't even wait to be turned down: It rushed into the arms of Bank of America, creating a new, if fragile, financial titan.

At the center of these troubles is America's housing boom and now bust. As the Fed poured cheap money into the system in the past decade to prevent a financial shock after the dot-com bust, interest rates plunged and home prices soared. That fired up the market for mortgage-backed securities. Mortgage brokers lent as much money as they could to hopeful homeowners—even if it meant shaky or even fraudulent loans—since they didn't have to hold the loans themselves. They just passed it along to Wall Street through a process called securitization. Most of the world's major financial institutions ended up with a portfolio of mortgage-backed securities that turned out to be much riskier than any of them or their fancy computer models anticipated.

The whole rickety scheme began to unravel in 2006, when overpriced homes began to fall in value and refinancing became a lot tougher. Then, foreclosures skyrocketed, and mortgage-backed securities began to blow up like time bombs. Investing firms hold very little cash (unlike their commercial bank colleagues) and borrow much of the money they invest. Lehman, for instance, had as little as $1 in cash on hand for every $30 it borrowed. As worried creditors started calling in their loans, the whole show looked like a cat with a ball of string. First to fall was Bear Stearns, which was forced into a shotgun marriage with JPMorgan Chase, with the feds providing a $29 billion dowry.

So far, the government (i.e., the taxpaying public) could be on the hook for more than $300 billion in guarantees and loans. The betting in Washington is that's preferable to a full-scale meltdown that could take an already ailing economy with it. But at some point, the bill has to be paid, and already the critics are wondering whether the bailouts are a placebo treatment that's losing effect. Instead of taking comfort from last week's AIG deal, for instance, the markets plummeted, fearing more devastation ahead. "The feds have exhausted a lot of policy initiatives," UBS executive Mike Dion warned clients. "This may be the deepest crisis in 50 or 100 years, but we'll only know a couple of years from now."
Greed. Lending money to people who could not afford to borrow. Not taking responsibility for risks. And now some of these bankers have lost their jobs because what they were doing was unsustainable, and possibly unethical. The real people who have ended up paying for greedy banks and bankers are taxpayers.

Free market? Capitalism? Strange how governments are expected to prop up failures at a huge financial cost. If governments are expected to intervene, then perhaps they should do it early and regulate against such pretensions.

Today was another do nothing day. I did do some gardening though, mainly cutting up previously pruned tree branches to fit into the garden waste bag, which will be emptied on Tuesday.

20 September 2008

Lobster Chair

The Lobster Chair was designed by Danish design and architecture company Lund & Paarmann for Danish furniture manufacturer Strictly Design. It was launched at IMM Cologne in January 2008.

I like the cocoon effect and the homage to Eames.

Today was another do nothing day.

19 September 2008

talk like a pirate day

I totally forgot.

Today was international talk like a pirate day.

We even have a Ye Auld Australian Association Rum Riddled Rapscallions, or YAAARRR.

Shiver me timbers.

I wasn't in the office today. There was a cultural seminar in the city. We even attended Muslim Friday prayers. It really wasn't that much different to a Christian service.

18 September 2008

Everybody needs a document to officially exist

I found this article from Associated Press quite sobering
Thousands lead invisible life in Italy
By ARIEL DAVID – 14 September 2008

ROME (AP) — They speak Italian, eat Italian and cheer for Italy's soccer stars, but they are not Italian. In fact, it's hard to say what they are.

Thousands of people are living in Italy without citizenship or identity documents from any country. Most were citizens of countries that no longer exist, like Yugoslavia or the Soviet Union. But they never received citizenship from the new countries that replaced their broken-up nations, and they also fail to meet the requirements to become citizens of Italy.

It's hard to know how many there are because they survive on the margins of society, but the Sant'Egidio Community, a Rome-based Catholic organization, puts the number at about 10,000 to 15,000. They are often hunted by authorities, who try to deport them as illegal immigrants even though they have nowhere to go.

Life in limbo can be particularly harsh for those who were born and went to school in Italy. Once they turn 18, they become little more than illegal immigrants under the law.

"We are not Yugoslav, we are not Italian. We are like clouds," said Toma Halilovic, who lives with his parents, wife and children in two containers in a makeshift camp on the outskirts of Rome.

Halilovic, 26, was born in the Italian capital to Yugoslav parents who came here legally in the 1970s. He went through compulsory basic schooling, made friends with local children and picked up a passion for the capital's AS Roma soccer team.

When he turned 18, he thought he would receive citizenship. Children born to foreigners in Italy do not automatically receive citizenship, but they can claim it between ages 18 and 19 if they have lived in the country continuously and legally.

Halilovic said his application was turned down on a technicality: He was not registered as a resident at birth because at the time it was not required by law.

"They told me I was born in transit," he said. "What does that mean? This is my country."

In some cases, parents do not register children at birth because they have lost citizenship of their own countries of origin and cannot renew their Italian residency permits, said Paolo Morozzo della Rocca, a professor of immigration law at the University of Urbino, in central Italy.

For example, longtime emigrants from Yugoslavia sometimes find that their records were lost during the wars in their homeland, or that they don't qualify for nationality under new rules set after that country's breakup. The new nations added a series of requirements to their citizenship laws, from fulfilling military obligations to having both parents of the same national background and returning to the country to register by a certain date, Morozzo della Rocca said.

Many of the nearly invisible people in Italy are Gypsies from the former Yugoslavia. Their lack of identity papers and a work permit gives them little opportunity to study, get a job and leave the poor encampments that house much of Italy's Gypsy population of 150,000.

The Gypsies are the target of a much-criticized census by Premier Silvio Berlusconi's conservative administration, which includes fingerprinting adults and children if they don't have a valid ID. The government says the measure is needed to establish who is in the country illegally, to curb street crime and to get Gypsy children to attend school.

In August the government also began deploying thousands of soldiers to help police fight crime, patrol city streets and check documents.

"I'm afraid each time I leave home," Halilovic told The Associated Press in an interview. "Even more now with all these soldiers around. If they catch you they lock you up like a thief."

One solution for those like Halilovic is to be officially declared stateless. Under a 1954 U.N. convention, those recognized as such get a special passport, permission to stay and work in Italy and a fast track to citizenship.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees says that in 2007, governments recognized 886 stateless people in Italy, 948 in France, 4,461 in the Netherlands and 9,091 in Germany. France has set up a government office to investigate statelessness claims and says it usually takes about six months.

But there's a catch-22 situation in Italy: The Interior Ministry requires a residency permit to recognize people as stateless. And a residency permit cannot be obtained without a valid passport, which stateless people do not have. The Interior Ministry declined to comment.

The only alternative is to sue the ministry in a civil court, which can take at least three years, Morozzo della Rocca said. He noted that most people without documents lack the time and money to go to court.

"Italy is being dishonest in applying the convention," he said.

Halilovic began the court process six years ago, and carries around court papers as his sole document. But police still arrested him as an illegal immigrant two years ago during a routine check.

He said he was sent to a temporary holding center in Turin, but was quickly released thanks to his contacts with Sant'Egidio and its lawyers.

Others may not be so lucky. Tougher measures against illegal immigration have raised the limits on stays in detention centers from two months to 18 months. Once the time is up, the stateless also risk being released with an order to leave the country within a few days, and a jail sentence if they do not.

Interior Minister Roberto Maroni recently said the government plans to grant citizenship to abandoned Gypsy children born in Italy. But humanitarian groups say the real issue is speeding up the process that gives stateless people their rights.

One problem is the difficulty of distinguishing between those who are truly without citizenship and clandestine migrants who get rid of their papers after entering Italy hoping to avoid deportation, said Oliviero Forti, head of the immigration office at the Catholic charity Caritas.

"For some it's a plan: They tear up their documents and take advantage of the situation," Forti said. "But there are also those who were born in our country, lived here and suddenly find out they are illegals."

Halilovic is unemployed and collects scrap metal for resale, the most common occupation for Gypsies in Italy. His four children, ranging from 5 months to 4 years in age, cannot be registered as residents because of their father's status. They could face the same problems when they turn 18.

"If they had given me citizenship I could have made something of myself, I could have continued to study or joined the army," he said. "We need a document, any document. We need it so we can give our children a future."
Some people just don't officially exist. All people are defined by nationality, which isn't always the same as their country of birth or even ethnicity. What really counts is what it says in their passports, if they can have one in the first place.

Emily came over for dinner tonight. I made roast pork with roast vegetables (beetroot, fennel bulb, zucchini, corn and asparagus).

17 September 2008

Is Russell Tovey the next Doctor?

From the Guardian's TV&RadioBlog by Daniel Martin (16 September 2008)

Is this the future face of Doctor Who?

Russell Tovey as Tintin

The 11th Doctor? ... Russell Tovey as Tintin. Photograph: Tristram Kenton

The big revelation everyone's going to jump on from Russell T Davies' new book is his choice for 11th Doctor; the Doctor he's not allowed to choose.

The big man is about to publish The Writer's Tale, a new book of email exchanges with Doctor Who Magazine scribbler Benjamin Cook. An in-depth mind probe into the regeneration of the Who phenomenon, an extract of which is published today in the Times.

And in it he appears to answer the question that the whole world's been asking since David Tennant started in the part. Tennant's going nowhere anytime soon of course, but deep among the casting news for Voyage of the Damned is the name Russell Tovey. "He's going to be huge, I would make him the next Doctor."

Tovey, the coolest History Boy (sorry, James Corden) was last seen as a domesticated werewolf geek in BBC Three's Being Human, and last seen in Who as the nice-but-dim-but-eventually-brave Midshipman Frame.

After all the talk of Rhys Ifans and James Nesbitt, it seems a more realistic kind of actor might get the part. Davies and Stephen Moffatt, whose decision it will eventually be, have also both suggested Harry Lloyd as the next incumbent, after his electrifying turn as Son of Mine in The Family of Blood, aka The One With The Scarecrows. Now, I find the two suggestions a bit disconcerting since they're both younger than me, which the Doctor should never be, goddamit. But like Tennant, it has to be someone with a massive future who's never had their one defining part. Christopher Eccleston was wrong, wasn't he, thinking back?

Still, that conversation remains a year or so in the future. The Writer's Tale is still a fairly startling memoir. What other high-powered executive producers would be so candid with a journalist about stuff that he could leak at any moment, circle of trust or not?

Who could have imagined that first on Davies' wishlist for this year's Christmas special before the Cybermen was another Shakespeare Code type of story where JK Rowling battles evil wizards of her own creation? Or that Tennant would have the power to veto the idea before it reached the drawing board? What other writer would be so blunt about the BBC's negotiations to try and get him to do series five? (And, oof, wouldn't the stop-RTD internet brigade have hated that!)

Perhaps most reassuring of all to wannabe Who-scribes everywhere is Russell's admission that from his mid-20s to mid-30s he spent his time in Manchester, "out every night - really, every night, even Sundays - dancing, drinking and off my head on God knows what. I'd be out till five in the morning, get into work at Granada at nine, throw up in the toilets, then go and be brilliant at my job."

Russell T Davies is a tall man with a big personality and no small ego. And he didn't do everything right on Doctor Who by any means. But he got it righter than anyone else, in that he made it happen. And how.

And the original email excerpted in the The Times

Doctor New?

Note: Kylie has agreed to star alongside David Tennant in the 2007 Christmas special, Voyage of the Damned, and Davies and his team are finalising the casting.

From: Russell T .Davies To: Benjamin Cook

Tuesday June 26, 2007 23:13:50 GMT

A read-through with Kylie Minogue! Marvellous, isn't it? She's going to watch Last of the Time Lords on Saturday with David. Madder and madder! And we've cast Clive Swift as Mr Copper. That's brilliant! (Dennis Hopper, it turned out, isn't available for that many days.) And Geoffrey Palmer is Captain Hardaker, which is glorious. Also, Russell Tovey as Midshipman Frame, which is my favourite casting of the lot, because he's going to be huge, that man. He's amazing. I think I'd make him the Eleventh Doctor.

We shall see! Although I liked some of the earlier Doctors who were much older, these days, the Doctor seems to do a lot of running so a younger body would be better.

I stayed home today, spending most of the morning waiting for the oven repairer (those companies never give a time). It now works and I didn't even know there was an element in the back where the fan is.

Finished watching all the episodes of Rome. Brilliant show.

16 September 2008

man's best friend is a also a lifesaver

From Associated Press
Rover, call me an ambulance _ dog calls 911
By AMANDA LEE MYERS – 14 September 2008

PHOENIX (AP) — "Man's best friend" doesn't go far enough for Buddy — a German shepherd who remembered his training and saved his owner's life by calling 911 when the man had a seizure. And it's not the first time Buddy has been there for owner Joe Stalnaker, a police officer said Sunday. On a recording of the 911 call Wednesday, Buddy is heard whimpering and barking after the dispatcher answers and repeatedly asks if the caller needs help.

"Hello, this is 911. Hello ... Can you hear me? Is there somebody there you can give the phone to," says the dispatcher, Chris Trott.

Police were sent to Stalnaker's home, and after about three minutes Buddy is heard barking loudly when the officers arrived.

Scottsdale police Sgt. Mark Clark said Stalnaker spent two days in a hospital and recovered from the seizure.

"It's pretty incredible," Clark said. "Even the veteran dispatchers — they haven't heard of anything like this."

Clark said police are dispatched whenever 911 is called, but that Stalnaker's address was flagged in Scottsdale's system with a notification that a trained assistance dog could call 911 when the owner was incapacitated.

Clark said Stalnaker adopted Buddy at the age of 8 weeks from Michigan-based Paws with a Cause, which trains assistance dogs, and trained him to get the phone if he began to have seizure symptoms. Buddy, now 18 months old, is able press programmed buttons until a 911 operator is on the line, Clark said.

Clark said Buddy has made two other 911 calls when Stalnaker was having seizures.

He said Stalnaker's seizures are the result of a head injury he suffered about 10 years ago during a military training exercise.

Stalnaker was not listed in the phone book, and he did not immediately respond to a request through police for an interview.
Here is the original press release from the Scottsdale Police Department
Assistance Dog Dials 911 For Help
Event date: Friday, September 12, 2008, from 4:35 PM to 4:35 PM

Buddy and Joe

Hear the 911 call: Buddy's_911 call *(wav file)

Scottsdale, Arizona
12 September 2008

The Scottsdale Police 911 call center received a 911 call on September 10 at about 11:45 AM. The 911 operator, Chris Trott, a veteran police dispatcher, had never had a call like this before. This call was from a dog. On the other end of the phone, she heard the whimpering and barking of “Buddy”, a trained assistance dog.

“Buddy” is an 18 month old German shepherd. He was trained by his owner, Joe, to call 911 whenever he has a seizure. Joe was injured while serving his country in the US military and the injuries cause him to have seizures and blackouts. He got buddy through the help of “Paws with a Cause” assistance animal adoption service.

Joe got “Buddy” as an 8 week old puppy. He has trained Buddy to recognize when he is having a seizure and respond by grabbing the phone and bringing it to Joe. If Joe cannot place the call, Buddy pushes the buttons with his teeth until the programmed speed-dial keys dial 911. When Buddy ears the operator say, “911, what is your emergency”, he puts the phone down and whimpers as if he’s in distress. The 911 system matches the call to the address and emergency help is instantly on the way. In this case, officers got to Joe in just over 2 minutes from the time Buddy placed the call.

Officers found Joe in distress from one of his more severe seizures. Paramedics arrived and took him to the hospital. Buddy, of course, rode in the ambulance with Joe.

After 2 days in the hospital, Joe has recovered from the seizure. He is thankful for his faithful companion and lifesaver, Buddy.


Media Contact: Sgt. Mark Clark


Quite interesting that the Arizona Republic newspaper picked up the story from AP rather than sending a reporter to Scottsdale to talk to the police department directly. Surely AP didn't have a monopoly on the story.

I wonder if I can teach and old dog new tricks? Hmmm... I've just pretended to collapse in the kitchen and Kane didn't even move from where he was laying.

I have been watching season 2 of the HBO series Rome.

15 September 2008

when you think your place is a mess...

When you think your place is a mess, just consider the state of filth that some people create in their homes. From (UK) Daily Telegraph
Britain's dirtiest flat
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 11/09/2008

Landlord Chris Dowling could be the unfortunate owner of Britain's dirtiest flat.

The bathroom sink-cum-ashtray

When he visited an apartment recently vacated by a tenant, the entire living area of the flat was crammed full of discarded polystyrene burger cartons worth £5,000.

Piles of pizza boxes and fast food containers cover the living room floor

When he did manage to clear a path through the rubbish, he was in for a further shock.

In the bathroom a large pile of cigarette stubs appeared to be carefully stacked on the side of the sink.

Stunned by the state of his £100,000 studio flat, Mr Dowling called in professional cleaners and decorators to sort it out.

They shifted the burger carton mountain and takeaway detritus into a large van, packing it to the rafters, before visiting a nearby tip for disposal.

The tenant had accumulated the mess during over about two years. There were more than 1,000 takeaway cartons and containers in the 15ft by 11ft living area of the flat.

Mr Dowling, who runs 46 homes, said: "The tenant had been smoking without opening windows and there were nicotine stains dripping from the walls. It smelt like a giant ashtray.

"There were McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken containers everywhere. I couldn't get through to get to the kitchen and they were stacked all around the bed. You couldn't see any part of the floor in the living area.

"In all my 15 years of running properties I have never come across anything like this before and we see all sorts."

Mr Dowling said he had rented the flat in Slough, Berks, to the single man in December 2005 through an agent. Satisfactory credit checks were completed and the £450-a-month rent was always paid on time by standing order.
More from (UK) Daily Mail
It is estimated the tenant, who is a mechanic, must have munched his way through £5,000 worth of takeaways during his two years in the property in Slough, Berks.

Despite it being just 15ft by 11ft in terms of living space, more than 1,000 cartons were found.

'The tenant had been smoking without opening windows and there were nicotine stains dripping from the walls. It smelt like a giant ashtray,' Mr Dowling said.

'There were McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken containers everywhere. I couldn't get through to get to the kitchen and they were stacked all around the bed. You couldn't see any part of the floor in the living area.

'In all my 15 years of running properties I have never come across anything like this before and we see all sorts.'

Slough Council discovered the mess after sending bailiffs around because the tenant had fallen into arrears on his council tax and informed the landlord.

When he tried to organise an inspection, the tenant changed the locks which put him in breach of contract. He then left, leaving Mr Dowling with the cleaning bill.

Surely over two years, there would have been regular inspections of the property by the agent. The landlord should sue the agent.

In lieu of walking Kane due to rain, I cleaned the oven.

14 September 2008

unbearable cruelty 2

From Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund press statement of 3 September 2008

Governor is Strong Proponent of Controversial Alaska Program

Washington, DC - Alaska Governor and GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin is a strong promoter of the aerial hunting of wolves and bears, a practice that has been condemned by conservationists, scientists and many hunters alike. It involves shooting wolves and bears from the air or chasing them to exhaustion and then landing and shooting them point blank. The animals, shot with a shotgun, usually die a painful death. The hunters involved in the program keep and sell the animals' pelts.

"Sarah Palin's anti-conservation position is so extreme that she condones shooting wolves and bears from airplanes or using airplanes to chase them to exhaustion and then shoot them point blank. Most Americans find this practice barbaric, but it's routine in Alaska under Palin's leadership," said Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund president Rodger Schlickeisen.

Sarah Palin has supported aerial hunting since taking office despite the fact that the National Academy of Sciences, the National Research Council, the American Society of Mammalogists, and more than 120 other scientists have called for a halt to the program, citing its lack of scientific justification and despite opposition from many hunters who see it as violating the sportsmen's ethic of fair chase. Palin in 2007 even proposed offering a bounty of $150 per wolf, as long as the hunter provided the wolf's foreleg as proof of the kill. And just earlier this year, she introduced legislation to expand the program and derail a scheduled August 2008 citizens' vote on the issue. The bounty was determined to violate the state's constitution and her legislation failed.

"Sarah Palin's positions against America's wildlife could put her to the right of even the Bush administration," said Schlickeisen. "She is a promoter of one of our nation's most ugly and cruel wildlife hunting programs and Americans deserve to know her views on such matters before they vote."

Killing innocent animals for sport or fun is abhorrent. Utterly despicable.

Another do nothing day today. Just saving up the chores until next weekend!

13 September 2008

billabong bugs... better than sea monkeys

I was always curious about the sea monkeys advertised in old comic books. They always looked too small and never resembled the illustrations.

Triops australiensis, a species of Notostraca and sometimes referred to as tadpole shrimp, has been packaged as aquarium pets called Billabong Bugs.

I think they look really cool.

It seems we are only now catching the Triops fad already in the US.

I wonder if Triops would eat sea monkeys.

Didn't do much today.

12 September 2008


Rare photos of the okapi taken in the wild has been widely reported in the media worldwide.

From the Zoological Society of London
First ever pictures of Africa’s 'unicorn'
Wednesday 10 September 2008

The okapi, an African animal so secretive it was once believed to be a mythical unicorn, has been caught on camera in the wild for the first time by ZSL.
A glimpse of the mysterious okapi © ZSL

Camera traps set up by ZSL and the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have captured landmark pictures of the mysterious okapi in Virunga National Park - proving that the species is still surviving there despite over a decade of civil conflict.

Dr Noelle Kumpel, ZSL’s Bushmeat and Forests Conservation Programme Manager, said: 'To have captured the first ever photographs of such a charismatic creature is amazing, and particularly special for ZSL given that the species was originally described here over a century ago. Okapi are very shy and rare animals - which is why conventional surveys only tend to record droppings and other signs of their presence.'

The new ZSL-led survey has not only captured the first pictures of okapi roaming in the wild, but has also revealed the presence of a previously unknown population on the east side of the River.

Thierry Lusenge, a key member of ZSL’s DRC survey team, added: 'The photographs clearly show the stripes on their rear, which act like unique fingerprints. We have already identified three individuals, and further survey work will enable us to estimate population numbers and distribution in and around the Park, which is a critical first step in targeting conservation efforts.'

The exact status of this secretive species is unknown as access to the forests of DRC is limited by civil conflict and poor infrastructure, making survey work difficult. Okapi are only known to inhabit three protected areas, of which Virunga National Park is one.

However even Virunga’s newly-discovered and still largely unknown population is under threat from poaching. Okapi meat, reportedly from the Park, is now regularly on sale in the nearby town of Beni. The ZSL survey team has warned that if hunting continues at this rate, okapi could become extinct in the Park within a few years.

Together ZSL and ICCN plan to continue researching the species’ status in these little-known forests. ZSL scientists believe the okapi population in and around Virunga National Park needs urgent attention; they are currently looking for additional funds for a more comprehensive, community-based project to conserve this threatened population in the long-term.

video from National Geographic

Truly exciting.

So glad the work week is over.

11 September 2008

Kids, learn to cook!

The UK Department for Children, Schools and Families has just announced that children aged 11-14 must learn how to cook.
11 September 2008

Everyone should be able to prepare basic, nutritious dishes from scratch instead of taking ‘pride’ in not being able to cook properly, Children, Schools and Families Secretary Ed Balls said today.

Announcing a package paving the way for compulsory practical cooking lessons in secondary schools from 2011, he urged parents to get their children, particularly boys, cooking at home because it was one of the keys to fighting obesity.

The new funding includes £150 million ringfenced capital investment to build food technology teaching areas in secondary schools currently without facilities and £750,000 specifically to recruit and train 800 new food technology teachers.

The Government is also publishing a new, free cookbook for all 11-year-olds today, to help them learn healthy versions of old favourites – including spaghetti bolognese; risotto; lamb hot pot; lamb rogan josh; roast chicken legs; chow mein; and apple crumble.

The Real Meals cookbook contains 32 classic recipes and was chosen after the public was asked to nominate the basic dishes every child should learn how to cook – and is endorsed by Michelin Star chef Phil Vickery.

The cookbook is available online and secondary heads will be able to order copies for all their Year 7 pupils.
The Real Meals cookbook has some good recipes.

* Apple crumble
* Beef and veggie stew
* Beef curry
* Cheese sauce
* Chicken casserole
* Chicken pasta salad
* Chicken tikka
* Chilli con carne
* Chow mein
* Coleslaw
* Cottage pie
* Crispy potatoes
* Custard
* Fajitas
* Fruit pie
* Hotpot
* Lamb rogan josh
* Leek and potato soup
* Minestrone
* Mushroom risotto
* Paella
* Ragu
* Roast chicken legs
* Savoury rice
* Sizzling stir-fry
* Spaghetti Bolognese
* Speedy potato salad
* Spicy tomato soup
* Summer pudding
* Vegetable curry
* Vegetables
* Vegetarian lasagne

Quite impressive that risotto is included. I didn't learn to cook risotto until watching my friend Mary cook it a few years ago. Hopefully as part of cooking classes, these kids will learn how to fry an egg, scramble it, or make frittata; cook a steak medium rare; and make a roast dinner.

Emily came over for dinner tonight, which was beef madras curry, rice and broccolini. What every child should be able to cook.

10 September 2008

still here

According to CERN
The first beam in the Large Hadron Collider at CERN was successfully steered around the full 27 kilometres of the world’s most powerful particle accelerator at 10h28 this morning.
That was Switzerland time, which was 18h28 local time (6.28pm). I was home. The world didn't end.

I like the hadronic rap by Kate McAlpine

I also like the Google logo for the day

I last wrote about the LHC on 31 March 2008.

There was a great show on TV tonight called KENNY'S WORLD - right up my alley.
In this the United Nations Year of Sanitation, Kenny has been invited by Network Ten to host an international travel show with a difference. KENNY'S WORLD follows Australia's favourite porta-loo plumber and part-time philosopher on a sightseeing tour you won't find in any travel guide.

From the world's fastest Porta-loo in Indianapolis, Egypt's City of the Dead, The World Toilet Summit and Expo in India, the latest zero-gravity super loos in space to the eco friendly green toilets in the ancient Chinese capital Xi'an, Kenny scours the world for wonderful, bizarre, intriguing and often downright ridiculous examples of toilet technology and the people connected to them.

KENNY'S WORLD is a uniquely engaging, informative and entertaining celebration of humanity - told with honesty, respect and heart - via one of the most basic but least talked about aspects of human life - "taking care of business."

In his quest to locate the most interesting and unusual examples of his trade, Kenny and his crew travelled to 28 cities around the world. These included Fukuoka, Kyoto, Tokyo, York, London, Nottingham, Birmingham, Paris, Rome, Munich, Cologne, Xi'an, Shanghai, Bangkok, Mumbai, Delhi, Alwar, Taipei, Seattle, Tulsa, New York, Kiruna, Malmo, Copenhagen, Cairo, Moscow, Singapore and Luxembourg.

Toilets. What a fascinating subject matter!

09 September 2008

the naked diet

In the (UK) Daily Telegraph, Jessica Fellowes consulted with experts about various diets. I like this one, but for other people

How it works: Most of us would be repulsed by the sight of ourselves stuffing food into a body where love handles are on show. Taking your clothes off before you eat, to make you feel self-conscious about every fattening mouthful, is one option.

But if that doesn't work, curb your cravings by eating naked in front of a full-length mirror. This is only recommended when dining solo - and definitely not in restaurants.

The expert's view: Matt Roberts, personal trainer to stars such as Madonna and Sting, says that such an extreme way to reduce your food intake might just work. "While it's probably best not to try this with hot soup, I think that everyone should take an occasional, honest look at themselves naked to assess what shape they are really in."

Shame yourself into eating less
Eating naked could be a helpful reality check
If Jamie Oliver (the Naked Chef) actually cooked naked, he might use less fattening ingredients.

CQ dropped over for dinner, which was only arranged this afternoon. Thankfully I had some lamb in the fridge. Despite not starting cooking until 7.30pm, I made a lamb roast (very rare), mash potato and sweet potato with a bit of truffle mix from a jar, and broccoli.

The oven blew, but it was only the fuse, which I was able to reset. It might be a hint from the oven that it needs to be cleaned. Imagine if I had called a repairer in and he (women do not seem to work in the industry) checked the fuse first.

08 September 2008

was it a Bear worth rescuing?

$30 billion to rescue Bear Stearns. Free market?

Will this money ever be returned to the American taxpayer?


07 September 2008

the Blade Runner

The Paralympics has started in Beijing. An athlete to watch is Oscar Pistorius from South Africa. From his website
Oscar Pistorius (born 22 November 1986) is a South African Paralympic runner. Known as the "Blade Runner" and "the fastest man on no legs", Pistorius is the double amputee world record holder in the 100, 200 and 400 metres events and runs with the aid of carbon fibre transtibial artificial limbs. In 2007 Pistorius took part in his first international able-bodied competitions. However, his artificial lower legs, while enabling him to compete, generated claims that he has an unfair advantage over able-bodied runners.
Oscar, with congenital absence of the fibula in both legs. When he was 11 months old, his legs were amputated halfway between his knees and ankles. He attended the Pretoria Boys' High School where, between the ages of 11 and 13, he played rugby union in the school's third XV team, water polo and tennis. He also played water polo and tennis at the state level. In addition, Pistorius took part in club Olympic wrestling.
After a serious rugby knee injury, he was introduced to running in January 2004 while undergoing rehabilitation, and "never looked back".
Oscar took part in the 2004 Summer Paralympics in Athens and came third overall in the T44 (one leg amputated below the knee) 100-metre event. Despite falling in the preliminary round for the 200 metres, he qualified for the final. He went on to win the final with a world record time of 21.97 seconds, beating single amputee American runners Marlon Shirley and Brian Frasure.

He was also featured in Time magazine as one of a hundred 2008 Time heroes and pioneers.


Today was another do nothing day.

06 September 2008

Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias

Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias (City of Arts and Sciences) located in the Spanish city of Valencia was designed by Santiago Calatrava.

The complex comprises of L´Hemisfèric (opened in 1998), Prince Felipe Science Museum (2000), L´Umbracle (2000), L´Oceanogràfic (2003) and Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía (2005).

L´Hemisfèric resembles a giant eyeball floating on water, the inside of which includes a planetarium and Imax theatre.

See also - spanish-living.com

Absolutely stunning.

Today was mostly a do nothing day.

05 September 2008

music maketh the man (and woman) part 2

Last month, I wrote about Dr Felicity Baker's research linking musical tastes with the mental heath of teenagers.

Professor Adrian North
from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh has found that there is a strong link between musical tastes with personality. From the media release on his research
Listening to Latino or bopping along to some Indie Rock in your spare time, may say more about you than the student gap year you spent in South America or the long summers spent singing along at rain soaked festivals.

A researcher from Heriot-Watt University has found that strong personality attributes are linked to our choices in music, with classical lovers more likely to have strong self-esteem and creative tendencies and dance fans being outgoing without being very gentle.

Prof Adrian North, who conducted the study, said the findings were very revealing and that our musical tastes can be seen as a direct reflection of our characters. “Researchers have been showing for decades that fans or rock and rap are rebellious, and that fans of opera are wealthy and well-educated, but this is the first time that research has shown that personality links to liking for a wide range of musical styles. We asked people to rate how much they liked 104 musical styles, before then completing a personality test. 36518 people from all around the world took part, and the research is by far the largest study of musical preference and personality ever undertaken.”

“Jazz and classical music fans are creative and have good self-esteem, but the former are much more outgoing whereas the latter are shy. Country and western fans are hardworking and shy, whereas rap fans are outgoing. Indie fans lack self-esteem, and aren’t terribly gentle people, but are at least creative. Contrary to the stereotype, heavy metal fans are gentle and at ease with themselves”

“People often define their sense of identity through their musical taste, wearing particular clothes, going to certain pubs, and using certain types of slang. It’s not so surprising that personality should also be related to musical preference.”

The researchers also found that your personality and lifestyle said a lot about the kind of emotional reactions to music that you have. If listeners preferred exciting, punchy music they were more likely to be on a higher earning bracket with those opting for relaxing sounds more inclined to be lower down the pay scale.

Prof North is continuing his research, and needs as many people as possible from anywhere in the world to visit www.peopleintomusic.com, where they will be asked to spend five minutes completing a short questionnaire.

Prof North’s new book, The Social and Applied Psychology of Music, was published earlier this year by Oxford University Press.

Notes to Editors:

Adrian North is Professor of Psychology and head of the Department of Applied Psychology at Heriot Watt University, situated in Edinburgh, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (0)131 451 8239 / +44 (0)7811 121950. Email: a.north@hw.ac.uk. Web: http://www.psychology.hw.ac.uk/staff.php
I don't know if the North study takes into account people with diverse tastes in music. I like indie (lack self-esteem) AND classical (good self-esteem).

Adrian North (applied psychology) should really be talking to Felicity Baker (music therapy).

Thank goodness for Friday and the work week is over.

04 September 2008

grammar abuse

I agree with this readers' list from BBC of the 20 worse examples of grammar misuse, or to me, grammar abuse.

1. The one that really annoys me is how people suddenly seem to confuse "have" and "of", as in: "I could of learnt how to write properly." There's no excuse for it!
Pete, Sheffield

2. The phrase "for free" is becoming commonplace and is used often on television and it's wrong. It should be "for nothing".
Mary, Basingstoke

3. That guardian of our language, the BBC, is full of solecisms these days; just one example: 12 pm. There is no such time; "meridiem" as in am ("ante meridiem" means "before noon") and pm ("post meridiem" means "after noon") means midday. The 12th hour is neither before nor after midday. So please, BBC use either midday or noon with midnight the correct term for the other end of the day. This is not being pedantic; in these days of 24-hour days, it is often not readily apparent what time 12 pm might be.
Mervyn, Usk, Monmouthshire

4. If you do something to change a situation, then you "effect" a change. If your circumstances are changed by an action, then the change has caused an "effect". You cannot "affect" a change in something, nor can you be "effected" by one.
Rob, Lyme Regis

5. I get annoyed at the reckless use of apostrophes, for example, the plural of CD can't be CD's.
Shahed Alam, London

6. Many people, including public speakers, incorrectly use "I" instead of "me". For instance, they would say "She said some very kind things about George and I", thinking that they are being polite or grammatically correct. An easy way to remember which to use is: if you would say him or her on its own, use me; if you would say he or she on its own, use I. For example, "She said some very kind things about him".
Lorraine, Aylesbury

7. Incorrect use of reflexives make my blood boil. I think that for someone to say "yourself" and "myself" when they just mean "you" or "me" is possibly out of a false sense of politeness, or maybe the insidious effect of TV soaps, or both. Those who use it correctly can give "themselves" a pat on the back.
John Self, Wisset, Suffolk

8. How about "none of them is" and "none of them are"? Most people would use the latter whereas the former is correct. "None" is short for "not one" therefore "not one (none) of them is" would be used. Most newsreaders still get it right though - on the BBC anyway!
Emily, Bristol

NOTE: Fowler's Modern English Usage says that "none" is not short for "not one" and although using a singular verb is more common, using a plural verb has also been an acceptable option since the reign of King Alfred.

9. Similar TO, different FROM, compared WITH. Not "to" used for all of them!
Susan, Brisbane, Australia

NOTE: Fowler's Modern English Usage says: "The commonly expressed view that 'different' should only be followed by 'from' and never by 'to' or 'than' is not supportable in the face of past and present evidence or of logic." It adds that "compare to" is to liken and "compare with" or "compare to" is used to point out similarities and differences. The BBC News website style guide differs with Fowler's on this last point. It says that when pointing out differences, "compare with" should always be used.

10. Here's one they often get wrong on BBC news! BBC reporter: "Then they opened fire on us". This is incorrect. In military terms there are two methods of shooting at an enemy, controlled-fire and open-fire. I.E. you are not opening anything so using the past tense of open is incorrect. The correct expression should be "Then they open-fired on us"
JWTH, Belfast

11. I find the increasing, incorrect use of "literally" annoying.... "I literally went blue with anger!!" "Really?" I ask.
Ned, Wallingford

12. The proper use of "its" and "it's" seems to confound many people, with "its" being a possessive and "it's" being a contraction of "it is". I've seen this mistake made even in some rather lofty publications...
Eric, Berlin

13. It annoys me when people use "due to" when they mean "owing to". But then I'm a pedant.
Guy, London

NOTE: The BBC News website style guide says "due to" means "caused by" and needs a noun, but "owing to" means "because of" and relates to a verb. Hence, "the visit was cancelled [cancelled is the verb] owing to flooding" is correct. So too is "the flooding [flooding is the noun] was due to weeks of heavy rain".

14. As a secondary teacher, I'm beginning to despair when it comes to "they're", "there" and "their"; not to mention "to", "two" and "too". Why are we so afraid to correct these simple mistakes which make all the difference at a later stage?
Alexandra, London

15. There is also confusion over lend and borrow. I keep hearing school children asking "to lend your pencil" when what they actually mean is to "borrow" the pencil.
Ian Walton, Bedford

16. I cringe when I hear BBC reporters say "amount of people" when it should be "number of people"!
Jill Thistlethwaite, Leyburn, UK

NOTE: Fowler's says "amount" is used with nouns that are not countable, such as "amount of forgiveness" and "amount of glue" - but "number" is used with countable nouns, such as "number of boys" and "number of houses".

17. I don't like it when people say: I can go there "by foot" instead of "on foot"....the right preposition to use is ON.
Daniela, Urbana, IL

18. The usage that I find particularly irritating is that of a single noun with a plural verb, for example: "the team are happy with their victory", or "management have congratulated the workforce on the recent increase in productivity". Team is a singular noun so it should read "the team IS happy..." or "the team members ARE happy", the same applies "management HAS congratulated..." Also, what has happened to the word "versus", abbreviated "vs"? Now all we see is "v"; it is even read like that in sports announcements.
Lucia, Horndean, UK

NOTE: The BBC News website's style is that sports teams and pop/rock bands are always plural.

19. A classic confusing rule is the one that states that one is supposed never to end a sentence with a preposition. While this is easy and appropriate to follow in most cases, for example by saying "Yesterday I visited the town to which she has just moved" instead of "...the town she has just moved to", it becomes troublesome when the verb structure includes a preposition that cannot be removed from it, as in "At work I am using a new computer with which my manager recently set me up", which cannot correctly be changed to "...I am using a new computer up with which my manager recently set me".
Philip Graves, Stockholm, Sweden

20. Stadiums, as a plural of stadium, rather than stadia.
C. Matthews, Birmingham, UK

NOTE: Fowler's says that when dealing with modern sports grounds, rather than ones from the classical world, the plural is "stadiums".

People who write "should of", "could of", etc annoy me the most.

I try to avoid going out on a school night. Tonight was our work's trivia night and nearly 600 staff attended. It was for charity. My team came third (we won last year). Our prize was a bottle of wine each.

03 September 2008

salmon or venison?

According to a study published in BMC Ecology, wolves prefer salmon to venison.  Also reported in New Scientist

Venison's fine, but wolves prefer salmon

  • 00:01 02 September 2008
  • NewScientist.com news service
  • Gursharan Randhawa

Wolves are not quite the red-blooded hunters we thought they were. It appears they prefer to dine on a nice piece of salmon rather than deer.

Ecological studies into predator-prey relations have traditionally shown that wolves feed on hoofed animals like deer, elk and moose, particularly during the spring and summer. However, ecologists have recently noticed that the fanged animals can capture and eat salmon in the autumn when the fish swim upriver.

The suggestion has been that wolves fall back on salmon as an alternative food source when deer are scarce. But Chris Darimont and colleagues at University of Victoria and Raincoast Conservation Foundation, British Columbia, Canada, have shown that wolves actually prefer salmon, whether or not deer are on the menu.

Darimont and colleagues spent four years studying the feeding habits of eight packs of wolves in the Great Bear Rainforest region of British Columbia.

Seasonal snack

Spawning salmon are unavailable for most of the year. They leave rivers at the start of spring the size of a human finger and spend up to five years growing in the ocean. When they return to their native streams in the autumn, often the size of a five-year-old child, they offer a huge pulse of nutrients to predators that can harvest the creeks.

Salmon is rich in fat compared to deer, containing four times the amount of caloric energy per bite. Combined with the fact that they are predictable, spatially constrained in creeks and don't fight back like deer do, salmon is an ideal food resource.

Darimont and his team used genetic tests to analyse over 2000 droppings and 60 hair samples to determine their wolves' dietary habits.

"Hair is metabolically inert, so it records what that wolf was eating during that time of hair growth," explains Darimont.

The results show a seasonal shift in diet from deer in spring and summer to salmon in the autumn, even when deer is readily available – suggesting the availability of salmon is driving the change in feeding.

Easing exploitation

This means, says Darimont, if commercial salmon fishing continues at the rate it is now, the implications for wolves and other species could be disastrous.

Although wolves have deer as a fallback, other species like mink and grizzly bears rely heavily on salmon. The ability of female grizzlies to bear young is completely dependent on salmon availability, as is breeding and lactation in mink.

For these reasons, human exploitation of salmon must be scaled down, says Darimont. He supports the Canadian government's Wild Salmon Policy, which aims to put the needs of the ecosystem ahead of those of the fishing industry when managing salmon stocks.

Duh! Wolves are quite intelligent.  If it is easier to catch salmon than hunt dear, why wouldn't they?

Today was cold, even though spring is in the air.