30 June 2009

not a boring shirt

From Moschino's 2010 Spring/Summer collection at this year's Milan Fashion Week.

My kind of shirt.

29 June 2009

real news

An opinion/editorial (filed on Monday 29 May 2009) in The Daily Evergreen, student newspaper of Washington State University (in Pullman, not to be confused with University of Washington in Seattle) was very topical.
Celebrity deaths eclipse real news

The over-saturated coverage of the deaths of Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett and television pitchman Billy Mays display America’s morbid fascination with celebrity. Their deaths are undoubtedly newsworthy, but they don’t require the incessant media coverage that has enveloped the nation’s airwaves, Web sites and newspapers in recent days. News outlets need to stop treating every celebrity’s death like it’s the fall of the Berlin Wall. When a person of relative importance passes away, a brief summary of the person’s life should be given an allotted amount of time for reflection without digressing into unrelenting coverage.

It should not supplant actual news that may be relevant, both locally and globally. We’re just as enthralled with “Thriller” as everyone else, but the deteriorating situation in Iran and the dire economic straits here at home should take preference over a crotch-grabbing, moonwalking cultural icon of the 1980s.

The deaths of Fawcett, Mays and Ed McMahon have all captivated the nation, albeit to a lesser extent than Jackson’s. But just consider the fact that we’re talking more about Fawcett four days after her death than the majority of us have in the last 20 years. Yes, she’s a person, and yes, she deserves to be mourned. But why not leave that for the people who loved her and cared for her, rather than exploiting death for ratings.

Of course, it’s not just the media that deserves to be admonished. Web sites from Google to Twitter reported being inundated with traffic around the time Jackson was taken to the hospital. One might expect the Los Angeles Times’ site to strain under the load after announcing his death. But Twitter (as has been shown in the last week) is proving to be a crucial outlet for the people of Iran to let their government and the rest of the world know of the election fraud that has taken place in their country. The constant influx of status updates bemoaning Jackson’s death overpowers news from Iran. We should be more concerned with holding corrupt governments accountable rather than the banality of celebrity.

Jackson’s death is not irrelevant and people’s grief is genuine in many cases, but a proper grieving process includes reserving retrospective analysis for the people who truly impact our daily lives With the number of “celebrities” (and we use the term as loosely as the rest of the media does) increasing every day, we’re rapidly approaching the point of total saturation. We have only the best wishes for the Jackson family and for those close to him. For the rest of us, it’s time to take the hint and “Beat It” – we’ve got enough things to worry about.

Indeed, the death of any one person should not need to take up half of a 30 minute or one hour news bulletin, let alone continuing on for days afterwards. It would be interesting to compare the coverage to that of Pope John Paul II, whose death really did directly affect over one billion Catholics.

28 June 2009


Disaster and doomsday scenarios make for great movies - the disaster film, its own genre.

The soon to be released (on 13 November 2009), film 2012 is a little unsettling.

According to experts, the Mayan long count calendar stops at 21 December 2012.

Scary. Boo!

27 June 2009

football - round 13

BRISBANE LIONS: 3.4, 9.7, 13.13, 16.15 (111)
MELBOURNE: 2.0, 2.2, 2.5, 8.8 (56)

Brisbane Lions:
Brown 5, Bradshaw 4, Rich 2, Polkinghorne 2, Stiller, Roe, Sherman
Melbourne: Sylvia 2, Morton, Robertson, Bruce, Jones, Jurrah, Davey
Brisbane Lions:
Power, Black, Brown, Rich, Bradshaw, Brennan
Melbourne: Sylvia, Davey, Bruce, Green, Grimes
CHANGES: M Bate (Melbourne) replaced in selected side by N Jones
UMPIRES: Donlon, Hay, Jeffery
CROWD: 23,750 at the Gabba

The match was an avenging one to make up for last year's one point loss to Melbourne at the same time last year, which started a downhill spiral. At one stage, the margin was an incredible 74 points, but the Dees (Melbourne Demons) came back with six goals in the final quarter. While a great win, it wasn't really an exciting game to watch.

Photos by Mervyn Lowe (ML) and Sean Garnsworthy (SG) for Slattery Media Group

Jahz (ML)

Jed (ML)

Luke (SG)

Rischi (SG)

Shermo (SG)

25 June 2009


Oh dear. It was eventually going to happen. Popular culture (film, television and fiction/books) are obsessed with this sub-genre.

From Vampire-Con.com


The Vam-Pop Culture Weekend Celebrates Our Favorite Creatures of the Night with a Two-Night Film Festival, Celebrity Guests, 40th Anniversary Celebration of Vampirella ® And A Moonlit Danse Macabre

June 4, 2009, Hollywood, CA – Vampire-Con 2009, the world’s first convention devoted to Vam-Pop culture swoops into Hollywood, CA for a weekend-long event, August 14 – 16. In association with Harris Comics, Vampire-Con will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the sexy comic-book icon Vampirella ®.

The weekend kicks off with a Vampire Film Festival at The New Beverly Cinema on Friday, August 14th and Saturday, August 15th. The fest will feature celebrity guests, contests and a program of your favorite vampire flicks both classic and new.

On Sunday, August 16th, Vampire-Con takes wing to the famed Music Box Theatre @ Fonda in Hollywood. Find your inner vampire at the day-long event on two floors of vendors, SFX make-up demonstrations and celebrity panel discussions. Topics will include Inked in Blood: 40 Years of Vampirella ®, Why We Love Vampires: A Brief History of the Undead and Hot Blooded: Vampires & Sexuality.

On Sunday evening, The Music Box @ Fonda transforms into VAMPIRELLA’S ® BALL, a heart-pounding 21 & over danse macabre. Vampires and humans alike will experience the dark side of Los Angeles’ acclaimed underground vaudeville cirque “Lucent Dossier” and revel the night away to the blood-churning beats provided by DJ Gary Calamar, music supervisor of HBO’s TRUE BLOOD and host of KCRW’s The Open Road.

From Dracula to Twilight, Vampires have provided an ageless mythology that taps into our cultural pulse. As new generations become fans, Vampire-Con celebrates these scary and sexy creatures that capture our collective imagination.

Tickets are $15 for the Sunday day-walkers and $30 for Vampirella’s ® Ball. Film festival admission is $7 per night. Stay tuned for updates about celebrity guests, prizes, contests and more!

Heidi Johnson Hijinx
Social | Media | Marketing


The real ones might turn up and feed. I would attend if I live in Los Angeles, but don't. I wonder if Anne Rice was invited. It was her books that hooked me.

23 June 2009

book - finished reading

Breakout : how I escaped from the Exclusive Brethren
by David Tchappat (New Holland 2009)

From publisher's notes
Imagine a life without television, music or freedom; imagine every minute of your spare time being spent attending church; imagine growing up believing swimming pools, cinemas and dancing were evil.

For members of the Exclusive Brethren, a strict religious sect, constraints such as these are normal. No member is allowed to eat in the same room as a ‘worldly’ person, they are forbidden from owning a pet and they are restricted from socialising with anyone outside of the Exclusive Brethren. Most members are so isolated within the sect that they can’t even imagine a life on the outside.

But not all members can live such a controlled existence. Once David Tchappat had a taste of the real world as a teenager, there was no going back despite the fact he knew he would be cruelly ostracised from his family, friends and the only life he had known.
A very interesting read from a personal perspective of a very secretive organisation. Exclusive Bethren received a lot of media attention during previous Australian federal election campaigns allegedly due to their political influence with the previous Australian prime minister and political donations, particularly given members of the organisation are forbidden to vote.

Tchappat's autobiography is very honest and revealing.

More information on Exclusive Bethren.
They shun the conduits of evil communications: television, the radio, and the Internet.
No equivalent of the Amish's Rumspringa.

22 June 2009

racial segregation in 2009

I was surprised and appalled to read this article in the Daily Telegraph, particularly as it is a British newspaper.
Segregated high school proms divide Georgia's students

Kera Nobles' senior prom should have been a high point of her life, as she celebrated graduation from her home town's school system after 13 years of education.
By Leonard Doyle in Montgomery county, Georgia
Segregated high school proms divide Georgia
Kera Nobles is photographed at a dinner. Nobles was a senior this year when Montgomery County High School held two proms, one attended by black students and the other by whites Photo: ADAM NADEL

But instead it has left the normally bubbly 17-year-old smouldering with anger. For, following a local tradition that seems extraordinary in a country which has elected its first black president, there was not just one formal dance for the 54 classmates who graduated from Montgomery County High, but two.

On the first night, a prom was held for the school's white students; the following night came the celebration for Miss Nobles and the school's other blacks.

In early summer when Georgia peaches are at their sweetest and high school seniors can't wait to be loosed on the world, separate proms are part of the bitter aftertaste of segregation that persists in parts of America's Deep South.

For nearly 40 years state school pupils have been educated together. They have played sports together and developed close bonds of friendship, before finding themselves face to face with a cruel ghost from America's past.

"It was heartbreaking," said Miss Nobles, who will be leaving home to go to university this autumn. "It was the one night to see all your friends dressed up and I'm told, I have to wait until the next night because of the colour of my skin."

The annual prom held by high schools across America near the end of the academic year is big event, for which students and parents spend months preparing. But in a handful of Southern towns, parents still insist on whites-only proms which blacks are not allowed to attend.

The election of Barack Obama did nothing to change attitudes that go back generations in the small rural towns of Montgomery county, Georgia; the surge of pride black people felt in the election of the first black President was met by frosty silence by whites. The county, which is two thirds white, voted overwhelmingly Republican last November and attitudes have hardened as the months have passed.

Barred from attending the white prom, Kera still stood outside to show moral support for her closest friends, cheering and taking photographs as they arrived and did the "senior walk" into the community hall with their boyfriends or their fathers. Then she left, with her black friends.

Next evening her own white friends encouraged her and took their own pictures as she and her friends dressed in lavishly coloured dresses and rented dress suits for their own event at the same venue.

She was close to tears. "Every (school) class we sat beside each other," she said, ticking off the names of her best white girlfirends, Harley Boone and Cierra Sharpe.

"We love each other. But there's a lot of hidden history here, and while everybody gets along there's always something... If your parents are a certain way nine times out of 10 you're going to think the same way."

Blake Conner, 17, who is white, did not want to go to the prom at all, but was persuaded to attend by friends. "There's a lot of people I went to school with, who are my friends that I wish could have been there," he said, lifting sacks of sweet corn from an elderly farmer's pickup truck into farm shop where he has a summer job.

He believes it would be hard to have a successful integrated prom for what he calls "cultural reasons."

"My friends tried to organise a joint prom but they just couldn't agree on the music or even a theme," he said.

For two white sisters, Terra and Tamara Fountain, both of whom have black boyfriends, prom night was especially trying. "I wanted to go to the black prom," said Terra, 18, "but my mom wouldn't pay. She doesn't like me talking to black people anyway." She now lives with her black boyfriend, Gary Carswell, but neither feels comfortable living under scrutiny in a small town.

Her sister Tamara, 16, added that she cannot be seen on the street with her boyfriend Ken Troupe. "Its terrible, everybody's so racist round here," she said. "If they see you in public with a black guy they just stare at you with hate in their eyes."

Montgomery county's time warp seems to be rooted in institutionalised racism. Until relatively recently the black community of this town lived in terror of the lynch mob.

In one infamous killing in early August 1930, a prominent 70-year old black politician was taken from his house by a mob and tortured to death. In 1944, after a one-day trial by an all white jury, a maid was convicted and later executed for shooting dead a man who was sexually assaulting her.

Racially motivated killings continued through the 1950s, and in the late 1970s a white man was shot dead for having an affair with a black woman. No one was prosecuted.

Officials insist that the once powerful Ku Klux Klan is no longer active. "The Klan is now history and thank the Lord for that," said one. "They are gone now, we are just dealing with some old attitudes."

It's those attitudes that kept last month's proms segregated, since the parents of white pupils refuse to support it another way. This year's "white folks' prom", as it is known, was a lavish affair for which tickets cost over $200 a head - out of the reach of most black pupils, who are from some of the poorest families in the country.

The sadness of the black pupils was captured by Gillian Laub, a freelance photographer who reported on the town's segregated events for the New York Times Magazine.

Harley Boone, a graduating white student who posed by her parents' outdoor swimming pool, told her: "There's always been two separate proms. It don't seem like a big deal around here, it's just what we know and what our parents have done for so many years.

"In our school system it's not really about being racist or having all white friends or all black friends. We all hang out together, we're all in the same classes, and we all eat lunch together at the same table. It's not about what colour you are."

Miss Boone's comments outraged many and she found herself cruelly caricatured as a racist on a YouTube video that has been widely viewed.

Betty McCoy, the editor of the local newspaper, the Montgomery Monitor, has watched with dismay as segregated proms continue year after year. "It's really the fault of a few families," she said. "This is really a friendly and well integrated community."

Pastor F Lee Carter of the African Baptist Church - who once marched for civil rights in Selma, Alabama with Rev Martin Luther King, has little patience with those who demand separate proms.

"Political life is intertwined; educational life is too," he said. "So why shouldn't our social life be intertwined as well?"

But the school superintendent, Leon Batten, pointed out: "The most segregated hour of the week is 11 am on a Sunday morning when white and black attend separate churches."

Even so, Mr Batten has decided it is time to end the segregation - and next year there will be an integrated prom, arranged by the school instead of the parents, he told The Sunday Telegraph. "It may not be a great success at first, but we will persist and over time the segregation will be history."

Surely segregation is illegal. The students who disagreed should have boycotted the segregated separate proms. Ultimately, those who refuse to attend an integrated prom will clearly be in a minority.

21 June 2009

Who ate all the Neanderthals?

We may have, or rather our early human ancestors may have, according to a study published in Journal of Anthropological Sciences Vol. 87 (2009), pp. 153-185. Summary of journal article
The view that Aurignacian technologies and their associated symbolic manifestations represent the archaeological proxy for the spread of Anatomically Modern Humans into Europe, is supported by few diagnostic human remains, including those from the Aurignacian site of Les Rois in south-western France. Here we reassess the taxonomic attribution of the human remains, their cultural affiliation, and provide five new radiocarbon dates for the site. Patterns of tooth growth along with the morphological and morphometric analysis of the human remains indicate that a juvenile mandible showing cutmarks presents some Neandertal features, whereas another mandible is attributed to Anatomically Modern Humans. Reappraisal of the archaeological sequence demonstrates that human remains derive from two layers dated to 28–30 kyr BP attributed to the Aurignacian, the only cultural tradition detected at the site.  Three possible explanations may account for this unexpected evidence.  The first one is that the Aurignacian was exclusively produced by AMH and that the child mandible from unit A2 represents evidence for consumption or, more likely, symbolic use of a Neandertal child by Aurignacian AMH.  The second possible explanation is that Aurignacian technologies were produced at Les Rois by human groups bearing both AMH and Neandertal features. Human remains from Les Rois would be in this case the first evidence of a biological contact between the two human groups.  The third possibility is that all human remains from Les Rois represent an AMH population with conserved plesiomorphic characters suggesting a larger variation in modern humans from the Upper Palaeolithic.
For easier to understand reporting, see The Guardian and ABC (Australia).

Is it still cannibalism even though the Neanderthals were a different species?

20 June 2009

Acropolis Museum (Μουσείο της Ακρόπολης)

Greece's new Acropolis Museum (Μουσείο της Ακρόπολης) was officially opened today (20 June 2009) and open to the public from tomorrow.

(more pictures from BBC News)

Now that there is a possible new home to house the Parthenon marbles (Elgin marbles), the British Museum may return them.

See BBC News, Financial Times, Los Angeles Times

19 June 2009

Döner Bratwurst

A strange article from Der Spiegel

Introducing the Döner Bratwurst

It is said that the way to someone's heart is through the stomach. Could integration follow the same path? A German butcher has just announced his newest creation: the döner bratwurst.

In countries like Germany where sausage dominates the culinary offerings, there is one golden rule: Never, ever ask what's in a wurst. There is, after all, a distinct chance that you won't like the answer.

Döner kebab? Sausage? Or both?

One German sausage meister, however, has recently broken that rule -- and has done his part to promote German-Turkish integration in the process. He has come up with a brand new product: the döner bratwurst.

The new product is made completely from veal and is stuffed into a casing made of sheep's intestine, thereby avoiding pork out of respect for Muslim dietary restrictions. "One can eat it alone with ketchup or in a pita with salad just like a regular döner," inventor Stefan Voelker told the tabloid Bild. Voelker, the report says, is fond of creating new sausage variations in his free time.

And he might be on to something. Germany has long been looking for new ways to help integrate its Turkish minority. Döner kebabs have long been a staple of German youth as they stumble home from the bar in the wee hours. A neighborhood barbeque with döner sausage may be just the thing to help bring Turks and Germans together.


The question is, what took it so long? After all, Currywurst has been around for nearly 50 years.

Anyway, the logic of the article is a bit simplistic. As if a fusion dish could make people mix socially. Australia's variation to the Italian pizza is the ham and pineapple, and misnamed Hawaiian wasn't created to help Italian Australians mix. Rather it was a bastardisation of pizza that no Italian in their right mind would eat.

17 June 2009

the best public transport

Ben Groundwater writes a brilliant travel 'blog' (column really) for the Sydney Morning Herald and has tackled the world's best (and worst) public transport

Most of the world's major cities have sorted out their public transport by now. Most have vast networks of underground trains, buses that seem to just materialise when you need them, and taxis that are affordable enough to qualify as public transport.

Sydney has none of those things.

It must bug the hell out of tourists. A public transport system can change the way you see the city your visiting - for the better, or worse.

Sydney's not alone. LA has next to no public transport that you'd ever want to set foot in - most locals will tell you that not having a car in LA is like not having a 4WD on the North Shore. You might as well not even be there.

Rome's not great either - for a huge city to only have two Metro lines is not ideal. Still, most things you'll want to see there are within walking distance of each other, which makes life a lot easier.

But enough of the bad news. Here are the cities around the world with the best public transport. It's cheap, it's fast, it's frequent, and it's easy to use. You listening, Clover? [Clover Moore is the Lord Mayor of Sydney and a member of the NSW state parliament - Daniel]

Seoul, Korea
Seoul's a nightmare of a place to walk around - the streets are badly signed, and the numbering system defies comprehension. But the city's Metro system is something else. Every trip, no matter how far, costs the equivalent of a dollar. A new train seems to arrive the minute the old one pulls out. All stations have maps of the surrounding area, and clearly numbered exits for you to get your bearings. Couldn't be easier.

Paris, France
It may not smell the best, but you can't fault the Paris Metro's frequency, and the areas of the city it manages to cover. Assuming no one's on strike, you can get around with ease. Admittedly, I haven't given the buses a whirl - anyone fill us in on that?

Shanghai, China
Like Seoul's system, the Shanghai Metro is cheap and easy to use, with plenty of signs in English, and maps around to help you out. The city also boasts the Maglev, the new train that whips you out to Pudong Airport from the city at 430km/h, and costs about 10 bucks. (Seriously, it really does go that fast.) Taxis are frightening, but cheap, and can even be paid for with the swipe card you get for the Metro.

New York, USA
I was freaked out by the subway at first. I'm not sure why - all those colours and dots I guess (I'm slightly colour blind, cut a brother some slack). But once you get the hang of things, the subway's a dream. There seems to be a station on just about every city block, and if you stand around looking confused for more than a few seconds, someone will offer to help you. Beats paying for cabs.

Amsterdam, Netherlands
Most people learn about Amsterdam's public transport the hard way - by almost getting run over by it. The city's trams are notoriously silent killers, creeping up on you and warning you with a "Ding!" seconds before impact. On the bright side though, they're cheap and easy to use - as is the train system that connects the 'Dam with neighbouring cities like Haarlem and Zandvoort. Best way to get around, though, is to do like the Dutchies do, and ride a bike.

London, UK
The downside: London transport is damn expensive. If you don't have an Oyster card, a single trip through one zone on the Tube will cost you the equivalent of $10. That's insane. Plus, riding the Tube in summer is about as much fun as cancer. The upside is that the trains are frequent, easy to use, and once you have that Oyster card, you can use it to pay for pretty much everything. Buses run all night too, which is handy, given the outrageous price of catching taxis...

Metro (underground train) systems are awesome, even New York's Subway and the London Underground. The quaintest is the Budapest Metro. I love the Paris Metro - the trains run on rubber tyres.

16 June 2009

Come Play!

Australia has officially bid to host the FIFA World Cup in 2018 or 2022.

Come Play!

The bid film is awesome, with a cameo by the Australian Prime Minister at 1 minute 49 seconds into it.

14 June 2009

Vegemite "Name Me"

From Australian Associated Press and widely reported (identically without variation) in The Age, Herald Sun etc

The makers of what is arguably Australia's most identifiable food may be American, but they are well aware of the danger of tampering with a national icon.

Which is why the people at Kraft Foods took the advice of more than 300,000 Australians before they meddled with Vegemite.

The result of those consultations, and nine months of tinkering with ingredients, is the first variation in 85 years on an astonishingly successful theme.

Kraft launched a new version of Vegemite today - and it did so with a certain amount of respectful trepidation, insisting that the product as "the new Vegemite experience".

"With such a well-loved, iconic brand we wouldn't create something using the Vegemite name unless we were absolutely sure Australians would love it," said Kraft's head of corporate affairs Simon Talbot.

To determine the level of that affection, Kraft undertook its "How Do You Like Your Vegemite" census and the Vegemite forum.

"They told us they wanted a Vegemite that doesn't require combining with butter and one that's easier to spread," Mr Talbot said.

The new spread resembles Vegemite and smells like Vegemite, but it has a smoother, more spreadable consistency.

While the exact recipe is a closely-held secret, the new Vegemite experience is, basically, regular vegemite combined with cream cheese.

The result, according to the company, is a vegemite for all occasions.

"This is a vegemite experience that can be enjoyed at all times of the day," said Kraft director of sales Darren O'Brien.

The new Vegemite won't be on the supermarket shelves until July 5 with today's launch being forced on Kraft after the existence of the product became public.

One thing Kraft hasn't come up with is a name for the Vegemite "experience".

As a result, they are turning to the method used in 1923 to name the "New Vegetable Food" invented by chemist Cyril Callister for the Fred Walker Cheese Company, which later became Kraft Foods.

In order to find a name for the new product, Mr Walker took ads in newspapers announcing a competition with 50 pound prize for the best suggestion.

As a result, Vegemite came into being and more than a billion jars and 85 years later the same method will be used.

The new Vegemite will bear a label carrying the words "Name Me" with the winner to receive, among other things, a ticket to the AFL grand final.

While Kraft is confident its new product will be widely accepted, it hasn't turned its back on the original Vegemite.

"Seventy per cent of all Australian homes have vegemite in the pantry," Mr Talbot said.

"They will still be able to get their favourite spread."

Actually, the formula of original Vegemite was changed sometime ago to reduce the amount of salt.

Kraft also combined Vegemite into Kraft Singles cheese slices last decade, called Vegemite Singles. They weren't bad, but were withdrawn probably due to low sales.

Vegemite without butter or margarine? Sacrilege.

Still, 5 July is a long time to wait. I like the name Vegemite Name Me.

Staff at Colorado Springs' The Gazette don't seem to like Vegemite, like many Americans. Pity.

football - round 12

BRISBANE 2.4 3.9 7.13 13.15 (93)
HAWTHORN 3.3 6.5 7.7 7.9 (51)

Brisbane: J Brown 5 J Sherman 2 C Stiller D Rich M Clark M Rischitelli R Hooper T Notting.
Hawthorn: M Williams 3 B Sewell J Roughead L Franklin S Dew.


Brisbane: J Brown S Black J Brennan J Sherman L Power J Roe.
Hawthorn: S Mitchell J Lewis C Brown L Hodge B Sewell X Ellis.

Brisbane: M Clark (quad) T Selwood (shoulder).

Umpires: Chris Donlon, Justin Schmitt, Hayden Kennedy.
Official Crowd: 16,710 at Aurora Stadium.

Watching the football on television is a great Sunday afternoon activity. The first half was terrible and I thought my team was going to be thrashed, trailing by 14 points at half time. The final two quarters were awesome, particularly given how many key players were still out from injury.

Photos by Lachlan Cunningham for Slattery Media Group.

Bunno injuring his shoulder

After one of Shermo's goals

Jaz being tackled

Chinny being tackled

Browny (captain)

13 June 2009

Banksy versus Bristol Museum

This blog has been following Banksy since early last year. His hometown of Bristol has officially recognised him in a nice way by exhibiting his works at its City Museum & Art Gallery. Not initially anyway as the exhibition was planned by the museum in secret, kept from city officials. See BBC News
Banksy in secret exhibition stunt

Graffiti artist Banksy has pulled off an audacious stunt amid tight secrecy to stage his biggest ever exhibition.

A burned-out ice-cream van is among 100 works Banksy has installed at Bristol's museum, replacing many of the museum's regular artefacts.

The reason the museum was closed was kept secret from top council officials.

Banksy said: "This is the first show I've ever done where taxpayers' money is being used to hang my pictures up rather than scrape them off."

Staged in the council-owned City Museum and Art Gallery, Banksy v Bristol Museum features animatronics, installations and a sensory display.

"This show is my vision of the future, to which many people will say: 'You should have gone to Specsavers'", Banksy added.

The exhibition and its location have been a closely-guarded secret since October, with just a couple of museum officials in the loop.

"I think we may have dragged them down to our level rather than being elevated to theirs," said Banksy of the subterfuge involved in staging the show in his home city.


Museum director Kate Brindley said it was a huge relief to finally be able to talk about the exhibition, and admitted they had taken a "risk".

Plans for the summer show were kept from Bristol City Council chiefs until Friday - the day before it was due to open.

THAT WAS SOME SECRET! Jon Kay, West of England correspondent Whatever you think of Banksy, his art and his stunts, what he's done here is pretty extraordinary.

Normally this grand building is home to artefacts and paintings remembering Bristol's maritime history, but today the Edwardian halls are filled with Banksy's unique blend of anger and humour. All this - and hardly anybody knew about it.

Exactly WHO Banksy is remains shrouded in mystery - we do know he grew up in Bristol, and this free exhibition is said to be his way of thanking and rewarding the city.

Many people are proud of him - he's become one of Bristol's most famous (and notorious) sons - others are bound to question whether a guy who spent his youth spray-painting walls deserves to be given this platform.

Either way, you've got to hand it to him - he's done it again!

Bristol has had a love-hate relationship with Banksy since he started stencilling on the city's walls in the 1990s. There is likely to be criticism of the decision to stage an official expo of his work.

"We ran a bit of a risk," said Ms Brindley, "but we knew that it was just the right thing for the city.

"Equally there's so many people in Bristol who just love Banksy, and internationally. He's a megastar.

"We're a gallery that wants to work with contemporary artists - he's our home-grown hero."

The artist himself was involved in setting up the exhibits and came to the museum to oversee its installation, but staff were unaware who he was among the crew setting up the show.

Although Bristol has seen work by Banksy adorn the city's walls, this is his first official indoor exhibition in the city since 2000.

That show was held at the Severnshed restaurant on the waterfront and featured several paintings which have since gone on to sell for thousands of pounds at auction.

Banksy has exhibited in New York, Los Angeles and Bethlehem.

He became famous after a series of "guerrilla" stunts which saw him paint the West Bank barrier and put an inflatable figure of a Guantanamo Bay prisoner at Disney World.

It was Bristol where he first made his mark though, with a series of graffiti paintings on iconic local buildings such as the city council headquarters, an M32 bridge and the Thekla floating nightclub.

His work has since become highly collectable, and has attracted buyers including Brad Pitt and Robbie Williams.

I really like this one (below).

More pictures from BBC News

12 June 2009

There is no such thing as canine guilt

An interesting article from BBC News
Page last updated at 11:07 GMT, Friday, 12 June 2009 12:07 UK

Can dogs really look 'guilty'?
By Sean Coughlan
BBC News

Gracie the dog
Humans project their own emotions onto dogs, researchers found

That "guilty look" on a dog's face is all in the imagination of the human owner, suggests research.

Dog owners have often claimed they can read the expressions of their pets - particularly that tell-tale look when they have done something wrong.

But researchers at a New York college tricked owners into thinking innocent pets had misbehaved - with the owners still claiming to see this guilty look.

The study found that the expression had no relation to the dogs' behaviour.

And researchers found that pet owners' belief that they could read their dogs' "body language" was often entirely unfounded.

Stolen treats

The study from Alexandra Horowitz, assistant professor at Barnard College in New York, showed that owners were projecting human values onto their pets.

The research, Canine Behaviour and Cognition, looked at how dog owners interpreted their pets' expressions, when they believed that the dog had stolen and eaten a forbidden treat.

In a series of tests, owners were sometimes given accurate and sometimes false information about whether their dog had stolen the treat.

But the research, published in Behavioural Processes, found that owners' interpretations of whether their dog looked guilty bore no reliable link with whether the dog had really stolen the treat.

When the owners had been told their dog had misbehaved, they saw this guilty expression, even when the dog had not really done anything wrong.

Where there was any change in the dogs' expression, it was seen to be a subsequent reflection of the human's emotions.

If an owner thought the dog had misbehaved and then told the dog off, some dogs showed an "admonished" look, which humans then misunderstood as an admission of guilt.

The dogs which were most likely to "look guilty", according to their owners, were those who were entirely innocent and had then been told off by owners who believed that they had stolen treats.

Researchers concluded that any such "guilty look" is a response to human behaviour and has no relation with the dog's actions or sense of having broken any rules.

Somehow, I think Cesar Millan would agree. According to him, dogs live in the moment and don't dwell on feelings.

Too many people interpret canine behaviour using human psychology such as interpreting dominant possessive behaviour as jealousy.

Dogs aren't human, why should they feel guilt or indeed look it?

11 June 2009

The Bridge Academy

The Bridge Academy is a new school in South Hackney, London that has just moved into its permanent building on Laburnum Street. The building was designed by Building Design Partnership (BDP). The challenge was to make use of the site space that was available, described as 'tight'.

From the school description
Its innovative design and sense of light and space makes it friendly and welcoming. The first class facilities for students and staff makes it a fantastic place to learn. The building helps create the school community and to make the school part of the wider community.

The school’s central square is its social hub where activities take place to bring students and staff together as well as hosting events for the community and visitors.

Many of the teaching areas on the upper floors look out over the Regent’s Canal. The classrooms vary in shape and size and a number of them can be adapted quickly for small or large groups. This flexibility will help the school as the number of students grows.
From BDP description

The academy forms a seven level interactive learning environment in a dense inner city multi ethnic site alongside the Grand Union Canal.

Galleried learning space is set around a social gathering area and learning hub. A sweeping structural arch supports the centre of the school, allowing the learning space to be column free and totally flexible.

Teaching terraces extend the internal learning space as outdoor classrooms overlooking the canalside environment.

The form of the building has been designed to minimise energy use by maximising daylight to the teaching spaces and it is predominantly naturally ventilated.

The building is one of 24 finalists for the 2009 Prime Minister's Better Public Building Award.

I like the almost surrealist nature of the design on the outside.

10 June 2009

twitter not

Twitter is just gossip.

Two tweeters worthy of following are Stephen Fry and Ashton Kutcher, and they have large followings - 549 578 and 2 110 757 respectively (as of right now).

The rest are just twits.

09 June 2009

another useless invention 5

Reported by Daily Mail
It is the world's smallest, portable microwave and can be powered via a link to the USB port on a laptop computer.

The turquoise device -called the Beanzawave - has been created in partnership with Heinz to allow workers tied to their desks to create a warm snack, or hot drink, to see them through the day.

However, it might also sustain a hard-working student through the many hours of lonely revision.

Another useless contraption taking up valuable space. What is wrong with going to the kitchen found in most offices and using the normal microwave oven?

What next? An invention so that office workers 'tied to their desks' can also go to the toilet at their desks?

Seriously, there is something wrong with a workplace if staff cannot even take five minutes to go to the kitchen.

08 June 2009

the best and worst job in the navy

An army marches on its stomach. Serving bad food risks low morale. In the Australian Defence Force, the best food can be found served in submarines. And the cooks are paid accordingly. From Daily Telegraph

Submarine cooks earn far more than the SAS

Article from: The Daily Telegraph

By Ian McPhederan

June 08, 2009 12:00am

THE highest paid non-officer in the military is not an SAS sergeant fluent in three languages taking out Taliban bombmakers in Afghanistan - it's the guy cooking food on a submarine.

A senior sub-sea chef with more than six years experience under his belt earns up to $200,000 a year, the same money as a junior admiral.

The cooks receive a base pay of just $58,806 a year but when all the submarine and critical trades allowances are tallied up, the figure jumps to almost $200,000.

Such is the reluctance of qualified cooks to live and work in a steel pressure tube deep under the sea, preparing three hearty "comfort" meals a day for up to 58 people, that even $4000 a week can't attract enough starters.

Like many of the "submarine critical trades", the ranks of cooks dwindled during a mining boom that offered similar pay, a solid dose of sunshine every day and more regular family time.

The only daylight submariners see during lengthy underwater exercises is if the skipper decides the ocean's surface is calm enough and free from the "enemy" for a deck barbecue.

Submarine cooks are employed in a category known as "individuals critical to the navy" so they attract a bonus of $50,000 a year just for turning up.

An experienced cook also gets a capability bonus of $40,000, a seagoing allowance of $22,254 and submarine service allowance of $26,703.

Three cooks - one a leading seaman and two able seamen - work the subs' cramped galleys and are usually the most popular people on-board a Collins Class submarine.

During one six-month deployment on board HMAS Rankin, the cooks prepared 22,000 meals in their small, steamy galleys.

A submariner pay scale provided to The Daily Telegraph explains just why "cash" did not show up in exit surveys as a key reason for leaving the submarine service.

The commanding officer of a sub at the rank of lieutenant commander with more than six years experience would earn close to $250,000 a year after allowances.

The salaries make submariners the elites of the Australian Defence Force, paid even more than highly trained SAS soldiers operating deep behind enemy lines in Afghanistan.

The three-star Navy chief Vice-Admiral Russ Crane gets a base salary of $242,000 a year while a navy captain with six years experience gets just $139,000 - or $60,000 less than the cook on a sub.

I reckon it would far more difficult to feed sailors (submariners) in a submarine three square meals a day compared to commanding them.

07 June 2009

Musée Hergé

Musée Hergé was officially opened to the public on 2 June 2009 in the university town of Louvain-la-Neuve 20 miles south of Brussels. The building was designed by architect Christian de Portzamparc.


Definitely one not to be missed on the next trip to Brussels.

06 June 2009

football - round 11

Brisbane Lions 2.2 5.5 9.7 16.10 (106)
Carlton 3.6 7.10 13.13 16.16 (112)

Brisbane Lions:
J Brennan 4 J Brown 4 D Bradshaw 2 L Power 2 A McGrath D Rich J Sherman S Black.
Carlton: B Fevola 8 A Carrazzo B Fisher C Judd H Scotland J Garlett K Simpson R Houlihan S O'hAilpin.

Brisbane Lions:
Brennan, Black, Rich, Sherman, Clark, Adcock, Brown
Carlton: Fevola, Gibbs, Scotland, Judd, Bower, Thornton

Brisbane Lions:
Drummond (calf)

Umpires: James, Rosebury, Armstrong
Official crowd: 33,790 at Gabba

With our critical defenders out injured, it was always going to take an enormous effort to stop Fevola. Great final quarter effort from the boys. Jared was awesome.

Photos by Mervyn Lowe for Slattery Media Group.

Trapper being tackled by Juddy

Sammy playing against his father's old team


Bam Bam being tackled by Juddy

04 June 2009

4 June 1989

Any information about the Tiananmen Square massacre of 4 June 1989 is highly censored in the People's Republic of China. See for example, BBC News.

Guernica has an interesting interview with Wuer Kaixi.

The government/regime then can hardly take a high moral stance when it comes to raising concerns about Japanese school textbooks whitewashing history about Japanese military aggression during World War Two, particularly the Nanking massacre.

03 June 2009

Aussie diggers miss Aussie grub

No offence to the Dutch and their cooking, but Australian troops serving in Afghanistan are used to better quality food. Reported by Australian Associated Press (AAP) and published in the Herald Sun
Australian troops unhappy with European food

By Sandra O'Malley

June 03, 2009 12:21pm

WAR rations have improved since Anzacs were given tea, sugar, biscuits and canned meat at Gallipoli but it doesn't mean Australian soldiers don't have a beef with what's being served up.

As Napoleon famously said - though some claim it was Frederick the Great - an army marches on its stomach.

But Opposition defence spokesman David Johnston is concerned Australian soldiers are not being fed enough, or what they like, for the job at hand.

Senator Johnston told a Senate estimates committee soldiers based in Tarin Kowt in Afghanistan's Oruzgan province had been complaining about their food for a long time.

Troops had passed on complaints about the "lousy" food, Senator Johnson says, to both Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon on recent visits.

Food is mainly supplied by the Dutch, which commands the provincial reconstruction taskforce in the province.

Australian Defence Force chief Angus Houston defended the soldiers' diet.

"Our soldiers all the way through have had the required amount of calories and the food has been of a very high standard," he said.

"I think the issue is, it's not Aussie food, it's European food and it's pre-prepared.

"When you're in coalition, the catering is most normally provided by somebody else."

A major issue seems to be that while general troops are taking their supplies from the Dutch, their colleagues in the elite special forces have their own cooks dishing up the grub.

"Essentially, special forces have been eating Aussie food," Air Chief Marshal Houston said.

Defence is working to improve the food arrangements for soldiers, deploying more cooks, bringing in freezers, barbecues and other equipment, as well as additional supplies to supplement the rations.

"There will be more access to typical Aussie food," Air Chief Marshal Houston said.

"I'd like to assure you right from the outset there's been absolutely nothing wrong with the European food, it's just different from Aussie food.

"I've eaten that food myself and I've had no problems with it."

In total, 10 cooks will eventually be deployed to vary the diet of the soldiers.

The logistics of setting up a kitchen in a war zone will take time, so in the meantime Defence is working with the Dutch to provide more "balance" to the soldiers' diet.

The change will come at a cost.

"We are talking in terms of probably a cost of $2 million. It's a substantial change," Air Chief Marshal Houston said.
I can personally attest that the food served in our army mess halls are of an incredibly high quality with a huge choice of different meal types.

Even the pre-packaged ration packs are quite edible. A typical one-person pack for 24 hours contains the following

Chunky Chicken & Vegetables 1 x 250 mL
Beverage powder: Sport, lemon and lime 1 x 12 g
Biscuit: Brigadoon shortbread 1 x 33 g
Fruit Grains: Apricot 1 x 15 g
Muesli Bar: Apricot and Coconut 1 x 32 g
Muesli Bar: Forest Fruits 1 x 32 g
Chocolate: Ration 1 x 50 g
Spaghetti and Meatballs 1 x 250 mL
Beverage powder: Sport, orange 1 x 12 g
Chewing Gum: Juicy Fruit 1 x pkt 4
Fruit Spread: Peach 1 x 26 g
Sauce: Tomato ketchup 1 x 15 g
Confectionary: Cream chocolate 1 x 50 g
Freeze dried rice 1 x 55 g
Soup: low salt, chicken flavour 1 x 30 g
Sauce: chilli, sweet 1 x 10 g
Fruit: Peaches, diced, canned 1 x 140 g
Biscuit: Jam Sandwich Type 2 1 x 45 g
Candy: chocolate 1 x 60g

Beverage powder: Chocolate 1 x 40 g
Biscuit: Crispbread 1 x 34 g
Cheese: Cheddar 1 x 56 g
Milk: Condensed, sweetened 1 x 85 g
Beverage: Coffee, instant 2 x 3.5 g
Pepper: Black 1 x 2 g
Vegetable extract 1 x 15 g
Sugar 8 x 7 g
Beverage: Tea bags, pot 2 x 2.5 g
Candy: Hard 2 x 30 g
Muesli Bar: Tropical fruits 1 x 32 g
Salt 1 x 2 g

See also ADF News and MREInfo.

A shame FRED was given the old heave-ho. Thank goodness I had kept a few.

02 June 2009

Why won't these zombies die?

Films about zombies are now their own sub-genre of horror. Nobody has explained why zombies, which are dead and decaying, need to eat flesh. It's not like they are able to digest.

Anyway, Anne Billson wrote a good article in The Guardian about why the sub-genre is popular

Because zombies, even more than vampires, are symbols of so many of today's subconscious fears. They stand for any section of society that can be easily depersonalised for social or political reasons. They represent the great unwashed, that fearsome underclass of knife-wielding hoodies certain newspapers are always warning us about. Or they're metaphors for poverty, influxes of immigrants or refugees who (we're told) will steal our housing and jobs. They could be gangs of feral children, football hooligans or those anonymous carriers of swine flu, at first kept at a safe distance but spreading infection ever closer to home to threaten us and our communities.

At their most basic level, zombies represent anarchy, threatening to upset the established order. Whereas a decade or so ago this might have seemed undesirable, now we're not so sure, because the established order hasn't been doing us any favours lately. In fact, its representatives have taken refuge in their own version of Fiddler's Green, where they have been leading a life of hedonism, paid for by the sweat of our labours. So whereas zombies might once have been a metaphor for the dreaded underclass, the recession is a reminder that we are that underclass, those faceless masses that need to be contained lest they take bites out of the bankers and politicians.

Take a look at the footage of the G20 demos in London, which shows crowds of people herded, clubbed and beaten back by heavily armoured police. The establishment is treating people like the zombies in Romero's films - as a faceless mass, less than human, a tide of contagion to be stemmed at all cost. They are no longer just reminders of our mortality. They are us. We are all zombies now.

Interesting point Ms Billson, but why do they need to feed on the living?

01 June 2009

Australia's best workplace

Google Australia, according to Business Review Weekly (BRW). Their office was officially opened today. In Sydney (see SMH, and pictures). Pity, as Sydney is not exactly a nice city in which to live anymore.