31 July 2009

beer summit



According to ABC News, the beverage preferences were, for President Barack Obama - Bud Light, Professor Henry Gates - Red Stripe, and police officer Sgt James Crowley - Blue Moon. Of course, they all may have been served something completely different and nobody else will ever know.

30 July 2009

British media in a titter over twitter twatting



British Conservative leader David Cameron, when asked about twitter, replied "the trouble with Twitter, the instantness of it - too many twits might make a twat."

Since then, the British media has been all a titter over the use of the word twat.

BBC News

The Guardian
Daily Telegraph
The Times
The Independent

Honestly, if some of them hadn't dug up the other meaning, most people wouldn't have known and it would not have been an issue.

What twats!

If one does not use a word in a vulgar sense, surely it would not be as such.

28 July 2009

Googling the most

According to Google Australia, the fastest rising searches in 2009 have been
Fastest rising searches of 2009:
swine flu
susan boyle
masterchef
stimulus package
wimbledon
twitter
bing
one hd
afl fixture 2009
bruno

Fastest rising ‘people’ searches of 2009:
susan boyle
bruno
jade goody
michael jackson
taylor swift
lily allen
robert pattinson
lady gaga
megan fox
stephenie meyer

Fastest rising TV shows, movies and games of 2009:
masterchef
new moon
watchmen
sims 3
transformers 2
midnight sun
crazy taxi
jizz in my pants
biggest loser
twilight

Fastest rising current events of 2009:
swine flu
susan boyle
stimulus package
wimbledon
jade goody
french open
afl fixture 2009
cfa
australian open
sydney festival

Fastest rising retail searches of 2009:
kmart catalogue
target catalogue
ikea australia
coles online
bunnings
fantastic furniture
sportsgirl
good guys
rebel sports
crazy johns

Fastest rising searches for products/services of 2009:
twitter
bing
one hd
windows 7
facebook
skype download
picnik
avg free download
google chrome
itunes download

Fastest rising website searches of 2009
ato.gov.au
webjet.com.au
jetstar.com.au
centrelink online services
ticketek.com.au
oasis active
rsvp.com.au
realestate.com.au rentals
nrl.com
afl.com.au
Fastest rising does not necessarily mean the most popular in total. Contrary to popular belief, adult content material isn't actually the most popular. In any case, I have not used any of the search terms listed.

27 July 2009

the new Doctor is sighted

From the BBC media release of 20 July 2009
The time has come... filming has begun on Doctor Who
Karen Gillan and Matt Smith

A new Doctor, a new companion, a new era

Production started today on the new series of Doctor Who, in which BBC One viewers will meet the 11th Doctor and his companion for the very first time.

The latest incarnation of the iconic character is played by Matt Smith (Party Animals).

Upon arriving on set in Cardiff, for his first day of filming, Smith commented: "I feel very privileged and proud to be part of this iconic show.

"The scripts are brilliant and working alongside Karen, Steven and the rest of the crew is an inspiration because their work ethic and passion for the show is so admirable.

"I'm excited about the future and all the brilliant adventures I get to go on as the Doctor."

Accompanying The Doctor on his further adventures in time is a new companion Amy Pond, played by Scottish actress Karen Gillan (The Kevin Bishop Show), who will first meet The Doctor in episode one of the new series.

New show-runner and long-running Doctor Who fan Steven Moffat has developed this series and, as Lead Writer and Executive Producer, will be responsible for the overall creative direction of the show, as well as plot and character arcs.

Moffat's previous episodes of Doctor Who, including the Bafta-winning episode Blink, have garnered widespread acclaim from critics and fans alike.

He commented: "And here it is, the big moment – the new Doctor, and his new best friend.

"And here's me, with the job I wanted since I was seven – 40 years to here! If I could go back in time and tell that little boy that one day all this would happen, he'd scream, call for his mum and I'd be talking to you now from a prison cell in 1969. So probably best not then.

"Matt and Karen are going to be incredible, and Doctor Who is going to come alive on Saturday nights in a whole new way – and, best of all, somewhere out there a seven-year-old is going to see them, fall in love and start making a 40-year plan..."

Piers Wenger, Executive Producer and Head of Drama, BBC Wales, added: "The scripts for the new series are every bit as funny, thrilling, scary and imaginative as you'd expect from the man who brought us The Empty Child and Blink.

"There's a strange and perfect alchemy between Steven and Matt Smith and the next few months are going to be riveting as that relationship starts to emerge on screen.

"Steven always says he's been waiting to do this job since he was seven. But it's actually the Doctor who has been waiting for him."

The new series follows three Doctor Who specials starring David Tennant which will transmit later this year.

Ben Stephenson, Controller, BBC Drama Commissioning, says: "I am thrilled that a whole new generation of children will forever say that their Doctor was the wonderful Matt Smith."

The series was co-commissioned by Ben Stephenson and Jay Hunt, Controller, BBC One, and will be produced by Tracie Simpson (Doctor Who) and Peter Bennett (Torchwood).

Steven Moffat is Lead Writer and Executive Producer (Jekyll) with Piers Wenger and Beth Willis (Ashes To Ashes) also Executive Producing.

Filming is taking place in Cardiff until March 2010. Thirteen x 45-minute drama produced by BBC Wales for BBC One.

PPR

The next day, the BBC comments on the new Doctor's fashion sense - Doctor Who jacket choice praised; and The fashion police on Doctor Who's new outfit. As did The Guardian on the same day as the release - Take a bow: It's Doctor Who's new look - and new companion; and two days later, a criticism - Matt Smith's Doctor Who proves a fashion flop. It's the Daily Mail with the photo scoops the next day.







Of course, the Doctor is 900 years old, so is unlikely to wear jeans and a t-shirt.

26 July 2009

doggy dangogi

AFP newswire service (25 July 2009) picked up North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) propaganda extolling the virtues of eating dog
North Korea is promoting the virtue of dog meat as a way to beat the summer heat and says customers are packing Pyongyang restaurants which serve the traditional dish.

The North has been hosting dog meat food contests to help develop the traditional cuisine, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Saturday.

Dog meat is called dangogi, or "sweet meat", a euphemism coined by North Korea's founder Kim Il-Sung in the early 1980s. Dangogi-jang is dog meat soup.

"Our ancestors believed hot dangogi soup consumed during the dog days of summer helped prevent diseases from malnutrition and bolster stamina," KCNA said.

It cited a 17th century book on herbal medicine to tout the nutritional value of dog meat. According to the book, dog meat is especially good for the digestive organs, blood circulation and bone marrow and improves stamina.

"During the current dog days of summer, many customers are visiting dangogi restaurants in Pyongyang," KCNA said.

No, we shouldn't impose our own cultural values on others. Strangely, cannibalism was perfectly acceptable in many other cultures before Christian missionaries discouraged the practice. Apparently, the nutritional value of human flesh was very high.

In societies where canines play a valuable role in assisting sight-impaired people, police, border control, drug enforcement etc, and as companions, the notion of eating them is hard to bear.

25 July 2009

football - round 17

BRISBANE: 5.2, 7.8, 14.9, 17.14 (116)
NORTH MELBOURNE: 3.2, 5.4, 8.6, 11.9 (75)

GOALS:
Brisbane:
Brown 8, Redden 2, Polkinghorne 2, Black, Notting, Sherman, Brennan, Sheldon
North Melbourne: Jones 4, Thomas 2, Firrito, Hansen, Harvey, Goldstein, Campbell
BEST:
Brisbane:
Brown, Black, Power, Sherman, Clark, Drummond, Redden, Merrett, McGrath
North Melbourne: Simpson, Anthony, Jones, Power, Thompson

UMPIRES: Kennedy, Kamolins, Findlay
CROWD: 25,509 at the Gabba

Awesome game. I was impressed with Jack Redden (in his first year). Polks takes incredible grabs. Mitch is just awesome.

Photos by Mervyn Lowe for Slattery Media Group

Shermo


Mitch


Hanley (our Irish recruit)


Incredible Polk


Jack Redden

righting historical wrongs

My friend Liz who lives in Los Angeles alerted me to an article in the Los Angeles Times by Corina Knoll
California issues formal apology for past discrimination against Chinese
Chinese immigrants
Chinese Historical Society of America
An 1850 photograph shows one of the many Chinese who came to California as part of the Gold Rush.


The wave of immigrants who worked dangerous jobs building railroads and early California infrastructure faced decades of discrimination, marriage restrictions and private injustices.

By Corina Knoll
July 23, 2009

The documents Chan Share clutched as he left China were forged. It was 1939 and Asians were not allowed to immigrate to the United States. So, like many others, Share claimed he was a "paper son" and had a California-born relative whose records were lost in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

After two months of interrogation at Angel Island in San Francisco Bay, Share was allowed into a country where Chinese laborers decades before him had toiled in the merciless sun to lay miles of railroad track that would connect the dots of America. Despite their hard work, he was told he could not vote, own property or even marry the person of his choice.

A group of Chinese and Japanese women and children wait to be processed at Angel Island near San Francisco in the 1920s.

Seventy years later, the state of California has formally apologized to the thousands of Chinese immigrants who helped build the state. Many, including Share, are no longer alive, but their children and grandchildren had pushed for such an apology.

The state Assembly on Friday adopted a resolution expressing profound regret for the persecution of Chinese immigrants, who in the 1880s and 1890s performed the dangerous work of cobbling together California's nascent infrastructure. The Senate has adopted the same resolution.

The bill does not seek any financial compensation for Chinese who were mistreated or denied basic civil liberties, but its authors said they intend to ask Congress to adopt the same resolution.

The legislation was co-sponsored by Assemblymen Paul Fong (D-Cupertino) and Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles). For Fong it was personal; Chan Share was his grandfather.

"Racism still reverberates today and a lot of the discrimination laws -- those wounds are still open," Fong said Wednesday. "By apologizing, we'll hopefully close those wounds and close a sad chapter in our history."

That history included Chinese men recruited to work on the first transcontinental railroad being paid pitiful wages and treated as inferiors. In 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act suspended immigration and the men living here had little hope of bringing over the family members they had left behind. As they spread out to the agricultural and mining industries, their willingness to work cheaply was resented.

They were often forced to live impoverished lives in squalid Chinatowns, including the large community where L.A.'s Union Station now sits.

After racial barriers to immigration were amended, a new wave of Chinese immigrants arrived only to encounter discrimination from banks, landlords and retail establishments.

Raymond Fong, a 64-year-old wine merchant in San Francisco whose father was a "paper son," says recognizing racism in the country's history helps people understand the roots of an ethnic community.

"It's a catalyst for getting more of the story and opens the door so people can explain," said Raymond Fong, who is not related to the assemblyman.

"You can't believe the psychological impact it had on ABCs -- American Born Chinese. We're the generation whose parents learned to turn the other cheek because they didn't want to draw attention. We're the ones raised under the scars and seen as the good Asian Americans because we feared getting into trouble," said Raymond Fong.

The apology is part of a wave of formal regret offered by the government in recent years. In 1988, Congress apologized to Japanese Americans who during World War II were thrown into prison camps such as Manzanar. In 2008 the House passed a resolution apologizing for slavery, and the Senate followed suit last month.

corina.knoll@latimes.com
There are a lot of things that governments have done in the past that were morally wrong, but at the time, prevailing and unenlightened attitudes rendered them acceptable. The New Zealand government apologised to its Chinese community in 2001 over an historical and discriminatory poll tax.

The Australian Government finally apologised to the Stolen Generations last year. Oddly, there is no acknowledgment in this manner over the old White Australia policy. Even this propaganda is whitewashed.

23 July 2009

freeganism

I've previously written about wasting food. The Guardian published an excellent article about freeganism and Tristram Stuart, a campaigner against food waste. Excerpt

Then there are the unwieldy and complex workings of the global supply system: to get from its source to our plates, much of the food we eat undertakes a journey of epic proportions, involving carts, ships, planes and lorries, warehouses, processing plants and supermarket distribution centres. At each stage of this journey – inevitably, perhaps – a proportion gets wasted. When all this is added together, Stuart says, it is possible to estimate that more than a third of global food supplies is wasted (with the proportion in rich countries being as much as 50%). At the same time, nearly a billion people on the planet live close to starvation.

Earlier this month, Stuart invited me to accompany him on one of his freeganing expeditions in Sussex.

First stop is a small branch of Sainsbury's, whose bins are located in a yard enclosed by a wooden fence. With a practised hand, Stuart reaches through a gap in the fence and unslides the lock on the door. He opens up one of the bins and picks out a clear plastic sack containing roughly a dozen one-pint cartons of milk – all still within their use-by dates – and a pack of custard doughnuts. "Perfect!" he says. "I can make cottage cheese."

Next we drive to Waitrose, which is where Stuart says that he gets most of his groceries. "You tend to find lots of fresh fruit and vegetables here – plenty of organic stuff." Before we can get to its six bins, however, we have to wait for a home delivery van to finish loading, and while this is happening Stuart walks me to a nearby Morrison's, whose padlocked bins are concealed behind a metal gate crowned by vicious, freegan-repelling spikes. "More and more supermarkets are shutting away their rubbish like this," he explains.

Back at Waitrose, with the van gone, Stuart sets about investigating the bins. Four are empty, one is half full and another is stuffed to the brim with white binbags. He starts opening these up, standing on his toes and leaning right into the bin to do so. Inside are all manner of edible-looking goodies: sacks of bread, packets of bagels and chocolate doughnuts, endless yoghurts, cartons of soup, individually wrapped pizzas and packets of pre-sliced ham. Most items are within their use-by dates, in some cases by several days.

As Stuart rifles, I help hold the lid open and add his selections to a shopping basket. In 10 minutes, it is full and we have another binbag's worth of fruit and vegetables. Our haul includes two cartons of Duchy Original organic soup ("Prince Charles would hate to see these wasted"), a loaf of bread ("I can make breadcrumbs"), celery, carrots and new potatoes, a punnet of juicy-looking strawberries and some cherry tomatoes ("Look at those. They're perfect. Bin ripened!").

There is something morally bankrupt about wasting perfectly edible food.

21 July 2009

What if they taste better than whale?

Reported in Japan's Daily Yomiuri newspaper
'Jellyfish typhoon' bearing down on Japan

Swarms of giant Nomura's jellyfish are expected in the coastal waters around Japan this year, a "jellyfish typhoon" that threatens to inflict massive damage to the fishing industry.

One of the biggest varieties of jellyfish in the world, Nomura's jellyfish--also known as Echizen jellyfish--weigh as much as 200 kilograms and have heads reaching up to about 2 meters in diameter. The Fisheries Agency warned fishermen across the country about the arrival of the jellyfish after it received several reports of sightings in the sea around Japan this month.

Nomura's jellyfish are a nightmare for fishermen--damaging fishing nets with their heavy weight and harming fish caught in the nets with their toxins. Fishermen also risk getting stung when removing the jellyfish from their nets.

They may even force fishermen to stop fishing.

In 2007, the last time hoards of Nomura's jellyfish were seen in Japan's coastal waters, the agency received about 15,500 complaints from fishermen concerning damage caused by the jellyfish.

According to experts, an unusually huge number of Nomura's jellyfish are highly likely to come to Japan's coastal waters this year. They usually propagate in the eastern part of the Yellow Sea, then some will drift toward Japan on the Tsushima Current.

Researchers with the Fisheries Research Agency surveyed the central waters of the East China Sea and coastal waters around Jeju Island, South Korea, in June and confirmed the presence of a few Nomura's jellyfish within 10 meters of their vessel.

"The situation is quite similar to that when a large number of these jellyfish came to Japan's coastal waters in the past," said Hideki Akiyama, head of the agency's East China Sea Fisheries Oceanography Division.

Based on the June survey, the Fisheries Agency warned the jellyfish would reach the sea off Tsushima island in Nagasaki Prefecture early this month. Since around July 4, the agency has received a number of reports that small Nomura's jellyfish have been seen in the sea.

Prof. Shinichi Ue of Hiroshima University, a leading expert on Nomura's jellyfish, said highly concentrated groups of the variety had been observed in the Yellow Sea as of Wednesday.

"The arrival [of a large number of the jellyfish] is inevitable. A huge 'jellyfish typhoon' will hit the country," Ue said.

A fertilized egg of a Nomura's jellyfish turns into a polyp that resembles a flower. As the polyp travels, it sheds parts of its body in the form of a cellular mass called a podocyst. The podocyst rests at the bottom of the sea and grows into a polyp that later turns into a jellyfish.

To complicate matters, podocysts maintain their form until the surrounding environment becomes optimal for their growth into a jellyfish.

Last year, there were few sightings of Nomura's jellyfish and no complaints from fishermen were reported.

"I believe the environment in the East China Sea was bad, so the podocysts slept in that form last year," Ue said. "However, they've all turned into polyps this year, resulting in a plague of jellyfish."

The most recent massive infestation of Nomura's jellyfish was observed in 2005. The year before that, only a few were reported.

Experts expect more jellyfish this year than in 2005. They are expected to drift north in the Sea of Japan to Aomori Prefecture, then into the Pacific Ocean through the Tsugaru Strait, then go south. They are expected to plague the coastal waters around Japan through February.

(Jul. 11, 2009)




Perhaps the whalers could be employed to harvest the jellyfish.

20 July 2009

19 July 2009

football - round 16

Fremantle 2.3 4.4 6.5 7.5 (47)
Brisbane Lions 1.1 3.3 7.7 9.8 (62)

GOALS
Fremantle:
Bradley 2, Campbell, Grover, Mundy, Suban, Thornton
Brisbane Lions: Brown 4, Bradshaw, Clark, Dalziell, Rich, Sherman

BEST
Fremantle:
Suban, Duffield, Pearce, Solomon, Dodd, Hasleby
Brisbane Lions: Rich, Brown, Power, Clark, Dalziell, Rischitelli

INJURIES
Fremantle:
Foster (ankle), Tarrant (knee)
Brisbane Lions: Bradshaw (hamstring), Brennan (ankle)

Umpires: Donlon, Dalgleish, Wenn
Official crowd: 22,595 at Subiaco Oval

Last weekend, Fremantle only managed 1.7 in the entire four quarters against Adelaide, so they were seeking redemption. The conditions were also horrible for this game with heavy rain and slippery conditions. Despite the win, and a few good passages of play, it was a horrible game to watch.

Shermo (photo by Daniel Wilkins for Slattery Media Group)


Bam Bam (photo by Lincoln Baker for Courier Mail)


JPat (photo by Daniel Wilkins for Slattery Media Group)


Blacky (photo by Lincoln Baker for Courier Mail)


Browny (photo by Ian Munro for Courier Mail)

17 July 2009

Australia's Big Things

We have lots of Big Things in Australia. 150 of them. I like the Big Banana, the Big Merino, the Big Pineapple and the Big Lobster. Kitschy? You bet.







Interesting article from AFP
Australia's 'Big Things' go from kitsch to art
By Neil Sands (AFP) – 13 July 2009

DADSWELLS BRIDGE, Australia (AFP) — Long dismissed as tourist kitsch, Australia's "Big Things" -- giant models of everything from koalas to pineapples -- are now being heritage-listed and recognised as works of folk art.

The gaudy structures, commissioned since the 1960s by rural towns keen to put themselves on the map, have gathered such a following they are even being compared to Egypt's pyramids.

"They're like our pyramids, our temples," respected artist Reg Mombassa told AFP.

"Because European settlement was so recent, Australia doesn't have historic old buildings like in other countries and the Big Things are a way of saying 'we're here, this is our place.'"

Australia has more than 150 Big Things, including the Big Banana at Coffs Harbour -- which is about 13 metres (43 feet) long -- the Big Trout at Adaminaby and the Big Gumboot, an oversized wellington that adorns Australia's wettest town, Tully in Queensland.

Among the more unusual examples are the Giant Worm, celebrating the oversize invertebrates found near Bass, the Big Cigar in Churchill and Humpty Doo's Big Boxing Crocodile.

Mombassa, internationally renowned for his designs for surfware brand Mambo, painted his favourite Big Things in 2007 for a range of stamps commissioned by Australia Post.

He said he first fell in love with them when travelling around the countryside in a crowded mini-bus in the 1970s and 1980s with his band Mental As Anything, best known for 1985's "Live It Up."

"You'd be on these long, long trips and they'd break up the tedium," he said.

He described their tackiness as part of their charm, calling them a typically extroverted Australian phenomenon.

"Some of them are pretty crappy," he said. "But others are folk art, definitely.

"You look at the Big Merino (a sheep in Goulburn weighing almost 100 tonnes) where they've recreated the texture of the wool in concrete. Or the Golden Guitar, that's a beautiful-looking guitar."

The Big Things' highest accolade came earlier this year when the Queensland government placed the Big Pineapple on its heritage register, ranking it among the state's top historic buildings and cultural sites.

The Queensland Heritage Council said the 16-metre (52-foot) high fibreglass fruit had attracted millions of visitors since it opened in 1971.

"(It) is important in demonstrating the development of agri-tourism and roadside attractions in Queensland," the council said.

There have also been lovingly photographed coffee-table books dedicated to Big Things, and websites where overseas tourists express a mixture of admiration and bemusement at the giant structures.

Julie-Anne and Rob McPherson fell under the spell of the Big Things late last year, when they bought the Giant Koala at Dadswells Bridge in Victoria.

Rob was working as an incident controller on Melbourne's motorways at the time, an often stressful job investigating car crashes, and the couple wanted to escape the rat race.

"We were looking to maybe buy a caravan park or something," Rob told AFP. "But I stopped in here, found the place was for sale and just fell in love with it."

He said friends and family were initially sceptical when told they were buying the 14-metre (46 foot) bronze and fibreglass koala, which comes with 1.4 hectares (3.5 acres) of land and an adjoining shop and cafe.

The pair are in the process of revamping the koala, nicknamed Karla, installing red lights in her eyes to give her an imposing night-time appearance and applying a lick of paint to make her markings more distinctive.

In recent months, Karla has been featured in comedian Paul Hogan's yet-to-be-released feature film "Charlie and Boots" and a national advertising campaign for a telephone company.

Rob said the public's fascination with Big Things showed no sign of waning.

"We get 100 cars a day coming here and buses making the trip specially, bringing in 50 people at a time," he said.

"There's just something special that appeals people, it's a sense of fun or something, I don't know."

Of some 150 Big Things, there is not a wombat amongst them.

15 July 2009

chaotic minds

There was an interesting article in New Scientist by David Robson on brain function
- excerpt

HAVE you ever experienced that eerie feeling of a thought popping into your head as if from nowhere, with no clue as to why you had that particular idea at that particular time? You may think that such fleeting thoughts, however random they seem, must be the product of predictable and rational processes. After all, the brain cannot be random, can it? Surely it processes information using ordered, logical operations, like a powerful computer?

Actually, no. In reality, your brain operates on the edge of chaos. Though much of the time it runs in an orderly and stable way, every now and again it suddenly and unpredictably lurches into a blizzard of noise.

Neuroscientists have long suspected as much. Only recently, however, have they come up with proof that brains work this way. Now they are trying to work out why. Some believe that near-chaotic states may be crucial to memory, and could explain why some people are smarter than others.

Every now and again? Some of us are always full of random thoughts.

14 July 2009

deconstructing fast food

The Guardian wrote about Erik Trinidad's blog Fancy Fast Food in which he deconstructs fast food into gourmet creations.

Even a McDonald's Big Mac can be made to resemble food
First deconstruct the Big mac into its parts: (sing along now) two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, and a sesame seed bun… plus the french fries, ice, and Coca-Cola. Dice the cheese, cube the middle and bottom buns, and extract the sesame seeds from the top bun. Take the french fries and some pieces of bun and purée them in a food processor with water (melted ice), then top it off with the diced cheese. Rinse the onions and lettuce in a colander and garnish it with “croutons” made from cubed bun pieces. Slice the beef patties, and then garnished it with sesame seeds and top it off with slices of pickles. Serve on a white rounded square plate with a dollop of Thousand Island dressing (the special sauce); serve the Coca-Cola in a wine glass.



Looks can be deceiving. It wouldn't taste any better.

Ew!

13 July 2009

what do you call 300 philosophers in a room?

The annual conference of the Australasian Association of Philosophy was held last week in Melbourne. Amongst the papers delivered was one by Professor Declan Smithies titled 'Do Zombies Have Beliefs?' - abstract
Zombies have no phenomenally conscious states, but beliefs are not phenomenally conscious states. So, do zombies have beliefs? I argue that beliefs are individuated by their relations to phenomenal consciousness and hence that zombies do not have beliefs. The argument relies on a thesis about the epistemic role of consciousness and a thesis about the epistemic individuation of belief. I go on to explore the consequences of this argument for functionalist theories of belief. Here, I distinguish between causal and normative versions of functionalism and I argue that belief is individuated by its normative role, rather than its causal role, in reasoning.
Not surprisingly, that wasn't the only absurd paper presented. What a waste of time - zombies are brain dead. They are dead, just re-animated corpses. Of course, zombies have no beliefs. I could have presented a paper to the conference on this topic in ten seconds without the pop/mock/pseudo intellectualism.

So what would one call 300 philosophers in a room? Pointless. Discuss.

12 July 2009

#&%!@ coping with pain

Dr Richard Stephens from Keele University in Stafforshire, UK has published research findings suggesting that swearing helps people cope with pain.

NeuroReport 5 August 2009 - Volume 20 - Issue 12 - pp 1056-1060 'Swearing as a response to pain' (Stephens, Richard; Atkins, John; Kingston, Andrew)

Abstract
Although a common pain response, whether swearing alters individuals' experience of pain has not been investigated. This study investigated whether swearing affects cold-pressor pain tolerance (the ability to withstand immersing the hand in icy water), pain perception and heart rate. In a repeated measures design, pain outcomes were assessed in participants asked to repeat a swear word versus a neutral word. In addition, sex differences and the roles of pain catastrophising, fear of pain and trait anxiety were explored. Swearing increased pain tolerance, increased heart rate and decreased perceived pain compared with not swearing. However, swearing did not increase pain tolerance in males with a tendency to catastrophise. The observed pain-lessening (hypoalgesic) effect may occur because swearing induces a fight-or-flight response and nullifies the link between fear of pain and pain perception.
Reported in local Staffordshire's newspaper The Sentinel
Foul-mouthed outbursts 'can lessen pain'
Sunday, July 12, 2009, 00:01

GORDON Ramsey may be on to something after all as new research from Keele University suggests that swearing does make you cope better.

Researchers at the university's School of Psychology have found that uttering a string of expletives can lessen the effect of pain, helping individuals endure painful situations for longer.

Dr Richard Stephens, who led the research, suggests that swearing may provoke a "fight or flight" response in people, with their heightened aggression helping them cope with the pain.

But whatever the reason for the study's results, they shed new light on to why some feel the need to turn the air blue when they hit their thumb with a hammer.

Dr Stephens said he first got the idea for the study after watching his wife give birth to their daughter.

He said: "There was a point in the labour where my wife was 'effing and jeffing' quite a lot. She was very apologetic afterwards, but the midwife told her not to worry, as that happened all the time.

"That got me thinking about how pain and swearing always seem to go together, and yet there had not been any research done in that area."

In the experiment, which Dr Stephens carried out with colleagues John Atkins and Andrew Kingston, 67 student volunteers were asked to submerge their hands in ice water for as long as they could.

In one set of tests they were told to repeat a swear word of their choice, while in another they had to repeat a more commonplace word which they would use to describe a table.

The results showed that in nearly all cases, the volunteers were able to cope with the cold water for longer while they were swearing.

On average men could last 191 seconds while swearing, compared to 147 seconds when not swearing, while in women the difference was 120 seconds compared to 83.

The researchers also found that the volunteers' heart rate increased while swearing, while their perception of pain fell.

Before conducting the tests, Dr Stephens had spoken to colleagues who suggested swearing might actually make pain worse, due to it being a "catastrophising" response, but it turned out the total opposite was true.

Dr Stephens added: "I wasn't really surprised, as the results seemed to confirm my own observations.

"Although the paper shows there is an effect, it doesn't offer much insight into why there is an effect, and so more research is needed.

"In our paper we suggest that swearing might induce a fight of flight response. When people are fearful of pain, their tolerance for pain actually increases. So swearing might be a way individuals induce that response themselves."

Dr Stephens believes the research could also shed light on to why sports coaches will often swear when attempting to motivate their players.

The paper states: "Everyday examples of aggressive swearing include the football manager who 'psychs-up' players with expletive-laden team talks, or the drill sergeant barking orders interspersed with profanities.

"Swearing in these contexts may serve to raise levels of aggression, downplaying feebleness in favour of a more pain-tolerant machismo."

But swearing does not seem to work as a painkiller for everyone though.

The researchers found that with men who tend to catastrophise, or overreact in bad situations, it can have the opposite effect and make pain seem even worse.

Of course, there is a minority, who will just say "ouch". Their pain threshold is probably not as high.

11 July 2009

football - round 15

Brisbane Lions 3.4 10.7 12.10 16.12.108
Geelong Cats 3.2 6.5 7.9 9.11.65

GOALS
Lions:
Brown 4, Bradshaw 3, Black 2, Notting 2, Polkinghorne 2, Clark, 2, Redden.
Geelong
: Rooke 2, Mooney, Hogan, Mumford, Byrnes, Hawkins, Blake, Gamble.

BEST
Lions
: Power, Brown, Black, Rich, Drummond, McGrath
Geelong
: Chapman, Corey, Enright, Wojcinksi, Mooney, Hogan

INJURIES
Lions
: Adcock (knee)
Geelong: Mackie replaced in selected side by Laidler.

Reports:
Geelong: Bartel for high contact on Luke Power in the 3rd quarter

Umpires: McBurney, Nicholls, Schmitt

Official crowd: 34,274 at Gabba

Woohoo! What a win against the number two team. Photos below by Mervyn Lowe for Slattery Media Group.

Luke


Saucehead against Mooney


Drummo


Jmac


Braddles

They're a weird mob

They're a weird mob was a classic Australian film from 1966 about an Italian migrant adapting to life in Australia.

going to the hotel


shouting at the bar

see also teachers' notes from National Film and Sound Archive

The film's depiction of Sydney in the 1960s (not recreated) is fascinating. Thankfully, the Australia of today is more accepting of and sensitive to cultural and ethnic differences.

09 July 2009

Bundy on tap

I've previously written about the ethics of bottled water. The small New South Wales highland town of Bundanoon last night voted to ban bottled water. Reported in the local newspaper Southern Highland News (9 July 2009)

Bundanoon bans bottled water
9/07/2009 5:39:00 PM
BUNDANOON'S "Bundy on Tap" campaign has spurred Premier Nathan Rees into action to reduce the use of commercially bottled water across the state.

As news of Bundanoon's move to become Australia's first bottled water free town flashed around the world on Wednesday, Mr Rees announced that he would ban all bottled water from government departments and agencies and seek "urgent advice" on ways to persuade consumers to drink less bottled water.

At a public meeting on Wednesday night, more than 350 people endorsed Bundanoon businesses' decision to remove bottled still water from their shelves from September.

Businesses will instead sell a reusable "Bundy on Tap" bottle that can be filled with chilled, filtered water from shops or bubblers in the main street.

Culligan Water has donated three $6000 water filters and bubblers to kick off the "Bundy On Tap" campaign.

One will go to the Bundanoon Public School to encourage children to drink water instead of sugary drinks.

Bundanoon Community Association will seek Wingecarribee Council's help to plumb the other two into the main street.

Planet Ark co-founder John Dee, who led the push to have Coles Bay in Tasmania declared Australia's first plastic bag free town, said Mr Rees' announcement showed the power of the community to inspire real change.

"It won't just be good for Bundanoon, it will provide a role model for everyone to follow."

Bundanoon Newagent Peter Stewart said businesses would lose revenue as a result of getting rid of bottled water.

"But there are more positive things than the money that we'll lose," he said.

Mr Stewart said the publicity generated by the "Bundy on Tap" campaign would attract more visitors to the town.

He urged Bundanoon residents to support the businesses taking part by shopping locally wherever possible.

"If there is a community that is going to go bottled water free, then it's got to be Bundanoon," he said.

"Bundy On Tap" co-ordinator Huw Kingston said Norlex Holding's plans to bottle and sell Bundanoon groundwater was a catalyst for the program.

But the move to declare Bundanoon a bottled water free town was driven by concern over the environmental cost of pumping, bottling, transporting bottled water and disposing of plastic bottles, rather than a protest against Norlex, he said.

"If we were saying we were against water extraction, the logical step is to say no to the end product," he said.

"We have a magnificent community in Bundanoon in all sorts of ways and this campaign has been supported all the way through."

Only two people at the meeting voted against the "Bundy on Tap" campaign: One was a resident concerned about that banning bottled water would force children to turn to sugary drinks, the other was Australian Bottled Water Institute chief executive Geoff Parker.

Mr Parker commended the community on coming together on an "emotive issue" but warned that a ban on bottled water could harm tourism.

"If you ban bottled water in Bundanoon, you are taking away choice and that is what the Premier has done without consultation with the community," he said.

"Have you considered tourists who choose to come here, only to line up at bubblers?"

But Mr Dee said the Coles Bay has shown that the ban could have a positive effect on the community.

"Why is the [bottled water] industry giving the Bundanoon community no choice regarding the bottled water plant here?" Mr Dee said in response to Mr Parker.

"Why are we paying for [bottled] water when filtered water is just as good if not better?"

Mr Dee said the Bundanoon meeting's response sent a strong message to the bottled water industry.

"At the end of the day, when a community is as unified as this, you can take on any company," he said.

* Wingecarribee Council has approved Norlex Holdings application to build shops and a light industrial warehouse at Anzac Parade Bundanoon, despite residents' fears that the warehouse will be used to bottle water pumped from Governor's Road.

Amazing decision. As for the New South Wales government banning bottled water, it would be difficult to justify using government funds (from tax payers) to purchase bottled water when it is available from a tap at no additional cost.

08 July 2009

big backyard birds

Brush turkeys are native to Australia, but we aren't allowed to eat them. From ABC
Back from the bush: turkeys hit Sydney backyards
By Kathryn Stolarchuk for The World Today

Posted 8 July 2009


Here to stay: the indefatigable brush turkey. (ABC News: Giulio Saggin)

Brush turkeys have been invading suburban Sydney on a scale not seen since the ibis moved in many years ago.

The large, aggressive birds are playing havoc with gardens, frightening pets, eating their food and building huge mounds.

But the experts are warning they are here to stay; it is illegal to eat a protected native species and people should get used to them.

The brush turkey is a ground-dwelling bird about 70 centimetres long that lives exclusively in the Australasian region of the world.

Dr Ann Goeth is a senior threatened species officer with the Department of Environment and Climate Change and also one of the world's leading authorities on the local birds.

She believes the turkeys are moving into suburban areas of Sydney for a number of reasons, including the drought.

"They also find a lot of food in the kind of mulch and gardens that people provide," she said.

"A lot of people indirectly attract these birds as well by either providing compost heaps where the birds can feed from, they have bird feeders, which brush-turkeys really like as well, or they might leave their pet food out on the back porch, which brush turkeys really like to eat as well."

Gardener's nightmare

Geoff Ross, a wildlife management officer with New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife, says the birds are also making a mess of backyards.

"This species are megapodes, which means they build mounds," he said.

"So the males incubate the eggs laid by females in these large mounds of garden material that's effectively breaking down and providing heat and that incubates the eggs.

"We're seeing a lot more of these mounds around the inner-urban areas now - one reporting of an instance in Mosman.

"Mounds are being located in Epping, Lane Cove and places like that on the North Shore. So they are gradually moving into those urban interfaces."

Mr Ross says it is this building of the mounds and their propensity to destroy flower beds with their enthusiastic scratching that makes the turkeys the enemy of local gardeners.

"They'll scratch up a lot of backyards' garden material to build that mound, particularly with people who have spent a lot of resources in maintaining a natural urban bushland, then of course brush turkeys will avail themselves of that very natural area and start building mounds in that backyard," he said.

But Dr Anne Goeth reminds people that brush turkeys are a native species and protected by law.

"So you're not allowed to catch them. You're also not allowed to actually destroy these mounds when there is eggs in there because you would destroy the eggs and the chicks," she said.

No Christmas turkey

And she says you are definitely not allowed to put them on the barbie.

"I mean they're big birds, big turkeys and obviously it's easier to shoot one of those than buy something if you are hungry, but hopefully that's not happening anymore these days," she said.

"I've been told it's quite tough. I have never eaten them myself, of course."

Mr Ross recommends that instead people learn to be tolerant of their new neighbours.

"Now if you do have a mound you can seek National Parks' guidance on how to deal with that mound in your back garden," he said.

"If it's particularly impacting upon you or your family, we can offer things like we give you a permit that will allow you to cover the mound with a tarpaulin and so the male can't work the mound, or you can cover it with mesh.

"You can use sprinklers to divert the male's attention away from the mound. Things like that, particularly now that we're allowed to hose our gardens again."

He says Sydneysiders worried about the turkeys should follow the example of their Queensland counterparts.

"They are here to stay and it's one of being able to adapt to them being there and of course, this is nothing new for those people who live north of the border in Queensland," he said.

"Brush turkeys are an everyday occurrence in the backyards of all Brisbane residents and residents on the Gold Coast.

"So wherever you reside in those warmer coastal areas you get a few brush turkeys and again in Sydney they're just recapturing, if you like, those habitats they used to live in before."

I think it would be cool to have one in the backyard.

07 July 2009

Kumar goes from White Castle to the White House

Actor Kal Penn, who as Kumar went to White Castle with Harold, has now gone to the White House. Under his real name of Kalpen Modi, he will be working as an associate director at the White House Office of Public Engagement. Of course, this shouldn't be any surprise to Washington watchers. From Washington Times

During the campaign, he was one of the most reliable surrogates for Mr. Obama, after, he said, signing up to volunteer like any other supporter.

But campaign aides said in 2007 that the actor called them to offer his unsolicited help for Mr. Obama's then long-shot candidacy. He surpassed their best expectations and attracted young voters across the nation, starring in at least 14 campaign videos on YouTube and appearing at multiple events on the candidate's behalf.

"Kal was one of the hardest working volunteers we had in Iowa," said Tommy Vietor, an assistant White House press secretary who worked on the campaign. "He visited nearly every high school in the state and didn't care if he was met by five or 50 students, or if he nearly got lost in a blizzard trying to get there."

Mr. Modi heaped praise on his new boss Mr. Obama on Monday, telling reporters he hopes to further the "honest dialogue Americans have grown to believe in" and calling the job a "great honor" at an "incredibly historic time."

"I hope to serve my country to the best of my ability," he said.

Obviously, Modi connected with young voters and should do a great job.

talking on the power of the youth vote


talking about working at the White House

06 July 2009

The FILTH in Hong-kers

British expatriates living abroad write in to the (UK) Daily Telegraph about their lives "as an expat". There was a great piece by Tim Pile about what happened to the Britons who stayed behind in Hong Kong after the colony reverted to Chinese control.

What's the first word that comes to mind when you hear the term "Hong Kong expatriate?"

Thought so. Everyone says banker.

Twelve years ago this week, Hong Kong ceased to be a British colony. Just after midnight on July 1st 1997 Chris Patten boarded the Royal Yacht Britannia and sailed away to the strains of Land of Hope and Glory.

His departure coincided with rumours of an accompanying exodus of British expatriates. Traditional red post boxes had been painted green and purple and bank notes no longer carried a picture of the Queen – for some, there seemed little point in staying.

As it turned out, not everyone left when the last governor did. The British Consulate in Hong Kong estimates that there are currently between 25,000 and 30,000 UK expats based in the city. And contrary to popular belief, we're from a diverse range of professions and backgrounds – from former civil servants to clergymen; wheeler-dealers to washed-up backpackers.

Car mechanic Derek Brooks followed his girlfriend out to Hong Kong in 1994, found work maintaining a fleet of buses and decided not to return to Britain. When contracts started going to Chinese firms after 1997, the native of Harrow, Middlesex, took a job installing state of the art desks on the dealing floors of international banks.

In a form of economic irony, the recent wave of layoffs in the finance industry mean Brooks has never been busier. "I'm taking back out all the desks I put in," he jokes.

Mark Knight joined the Hong Kong Civil Service in the late Eighties and was impressed with the perks. "We had a huge apartment, a maid, gratuities and generous travel allowances," he says.

When the privileges ended in 1997, Knight qualified as an English language examiner and now specialises in corporate benchmarking across Asia.

"The opportunity to reinvent yourself is far greater here than back home. Switching careers in the UK would be much more difficult," he says.

David Tait would agree. Colonial Hong Kong was a sought-after posting for British military personnel and the Scottish Royal Navy officer liked what he saw during two tours of duty in the Eighties. He quit the Submarine Service and settled here permanently in 1993.

"I had no fixed career plans when I returned but the place was awash with money," the former lieutenant remembers. After a stint selling advertising space, Tait set up his own publishing company which has been in business for a decade this year.

At a time when the transfer of sovereignty was causing anxiety for some long-term expats, others saw the chance of a lifetime. Large numbers of young Britons poured into the colony for a last hurrah, attracted by preferential immigration and employment status and the chance to witness history being made.

Clutching CVs of varying pedigree, they slept on friends' sofas and hustled for job openings. These eleventh-hour arrivals became known as FILTH (Failed In London, Try Hong Kong). Many are still here.

British backpackers also arrived in droves. In need of a cash injection after extended jaunts around south-east Asia, they could turn up in Hong Kong in the afternoon and be serving drinks in a bar by evening.

Paul Docherty landed a job at Joe Bananas, a popular city nightspot. Realising he was never going to get rich pulling pints for homesick tourists, he decided to set up his own pub on rural Lantau Island.

The timing and location were perfect – construction of the new Hong Kong International Airport had started nearby and thirsty workers crowded into Papa Doc's from the day it opened. "The airport project definitely affected my decision to look for a place on Lantau," Docherty admits.

For another group of transplanted Brits, the Chinese passion for education is a blessing. No one has ever counted but there are probably more UK born teachers than bankers in Hong Kong.

From tutoring in language clubs to lecturing at universities, anyone with (and sometimes without) a qualification can usually find a teaching position.

Dominic Abbott arrived in 1993 and in another "it could only happen in Hong Kong" tale; he combined teaching English with work as a bouncer at a bar in Kowloon. The primary school teacher from Bradford says his nocturnal employment was infinitely more interesting than his day job.

"Triads would come in and offer money to spend the night with the barmaids. I had to tactfully explain that it wasn't that kind of place without upsetting the gang members. Then after a couple of hours' sleep I had to go and teach grammar to a class of Chinese housewives."

A different kind of violence was about to erupt as one visitor was deciding whether to put down roots in the city. Reverend John Chynchen first ventured to the Far East in the Sixties, arriving in Hong Kong for the first time in 1966.

The Communist-inspired riots a year later didn't dampen the former marine surveyor's enthusiasm however and he moved to the colony permanently not long after. Ordained as a deacon in 1989, he has no plans to abandon his flock.

"I was all set to leave in 1997," he recalls "but I realised that I wasn't ready to retire." Like most "old China hands" Chynchen, originally from Enfield, deals with bouts of homesickness by returning to the UK at regular intervals.

"I would definitely describe myself as an expatriate," he says "but I still retain membership of my London club."

Under the "one country, two systems" policy, Hong Kong is rapidly integrating with mainland China. Colonial privilege and residual goodwill are waning and resourceful British expats are discovering that adaptability and cultural awareness are more useful than membership of the cricket club.

This morning I asked my four-year-old son to sing me a song he'd learned at kindergarten. I recognised the tune immediately but not the words. He was singing in Mandarin.

I always wondered what happened to them. Even those born in Hong Kong were not entitled to Chinese citizenship unless they were of Chinese descent. I wonder if these British permanent residents in Hong Kong learnt to speak Cantonese.

05 July 2009

luxury pets? part 2

In April, I wrote about pets being abandoned in Britain due to the economic climate. It seems Australia isn't immune. From The Age (Melbourne)

Abandoned pets the downturn's collateral damage

Mark Russell
July 5, 2009
Jessica Steen, 19, had to give up one of her pet dogs.
Jessica Steen, 19, had to give up one of her pet dogs. Photo: Craig Sillitoe

ANIMAL welfare groups have blamed the financial crisis for a dramatic rise in the number of pets being abandoned.

Thousands of dogs and cats have been dumped by owners who have lost their jobs or been forced to sell their homes and move to rental accommodation where pets are banned.

The State Government's Bureau of Animal Welfare manager, policy and education, Tracy Helman, said tough economic times had forced an increasing number of people to give up their pets.

"We're certainly seeing people who feel they can't afford to have pets," Ms Helman said.

"Generally, pet owners have made a lifetime commitment to that pet and to give it up is emotionally distressing. If they have a family, it can be hard to explain to a child why the pet has to go."

Ms Helman said it was ironic that pets were being dumped when research showed they made a positive difference to an owner's physical and emotional wellbeing in tough times.

She said more people would be able to keep their pets if landlords and real estate agents relaxed their "no pet" policies for rental properties.

Pets are part of the family for 63 per cent of the 7.5 million households in Australia, and 2.8 million of these animals are dogs.

In 2007-08, there were 19,087 dogs and 17,870 cats admitted to RSPCA shelters in Victoria, compared to the 17,395 dogs and 13,989 cats given up the previous year.

Nationally, the RSPCA received 161,994 animals in 2007-08 compared to 144,400 the previous year. There were 70,514 dogs, with 23,772 euthanased (33 per cent); 69,034 cats, with 42,731 euthanased (62 per cent) and 22,446 other animals, with 11,015 euthanased (49 per cent).

The RSPCA estimates it costs between $1200 and $2000 a year to keep the average dog.

The organisation does not keep a list of the reasons given as to why pets are being abandoned, but animal shelters say owners are frequently using the financial crisis as an excuse.

RSPCA Victoria's animal shelter manager Andrew Foran said more pets were being surrendered because of the "financial squeeze".

"This is a very difficult time, especially for people who have a strong bond with their animal, which makes it devastating to have to give them up," Mr Foran said.

North Melbourne Lost Dogs' Home managing director Graeme Smith said the increase in dumped pets was directly linked to the rising national unemployment rate. He said the jobless rate and mortgage defaulters could lead to a 25 per cent rise in the number of pets abandoned by Christmas.

Pet owner Jessica Steen, 19, of Ivanhoe, was recently forced to give up her dog, Billy, a Dalmation cross she found at the Lost Dogs' Home.

Ms Steen, a dog groomer, had had Billy for four months when she realised she could no longer afford to pay for its food. "It was awful. I cried a lot," she said.

This is heart-breaking.

04 July 2009

football - round 14

Port Adelaide 2.2 10.3 13.6 19.14 (128)
Brisbane Lions 2.4 6.7 11.11 11.14 (80)

GOALS
Port Adelaide
: Ebert 4, Westhoff 3, Gray 3, Tredrea 2, Cornes, Pearce, Salopek, Brogan, Logan, Lade, Krakouer
Brisbane Lions: Bradshaw 2, Brown 2, Proud 2, Hooper, Sherman, Johnstone, Black, Rich

BEST
Port Adelaide:
Rodan, Cassisi, Burgoyne, Pearce, Ebert, Brogan, Gray
Brisbane Lions: Sherman, Adcock, Power, Rich

Reports:
Port Adelaide
: Troy Chaplin for charging Daniel Rich in the third term.
Brisbane Lions
: Jared Brennan for head butting Josh Carr in the final term.

Umpires: Margetts, McLaren, Kamolins
Official Crowd: 20,293 at AAMI Stadium

Terrible game this afternoon. Unbearable to watch.

Photos below from Slattery Media Group

Scotty


Polks


Jahz


Mitch


Bam Bam

02 July 2009

Walkman 30

30 years ago, Sony invented a device that so revolutionised the way people listened to music that even Time magazine wrote about its significance. By Meaghan Haire
On July 1, 1979, Sony Corp. introduced the Sony Walkman TPS-L2, a 14 ounce, blue-and-silver, portable cassette player with chunky buttons, headphones and a leather case. It even had a second earphone jack so that two people could listen in at once. Masaru Ibuka, Sony's co-founder, traveled often for business and would find himself lugging Sony's bulky TC-D5 cassette recorder around to listen to music. He asked Norio Ohga, then Executive Deputy President, to design a playback-only stereo version, optimized for use with headphones. Ibuka brought the result — a compact, high-quality music player — to Chairman Akio Morita and reportedly said, "Try this. Don't you think a stereo cassette player that you can listen to while walking around is a good idea?"

All the device needed now was a name. Originally the Walkman was introduced in the U.S. as the "Sound-About" and in the UK as the "Stowaway," but coming up with new, uncopyrighted names in every country it was marketed in proved costly; Sony eventually decided on "Walkman" as a play on the Sony Pressman, a mono cassette recorder the first Walkman prototype was based on. First released in Japan, it was a massive hit: while Sony predicted it would only sell about 5,000 units a month, the Walkman sold upwards of 50,000 in the first two months. Sony wasn't the first company to introduce portable audio: the first-ever portable transistor radio, the index card-sized Regency TR-1, debuted in 1954. But the Walkman's unprecedented combination of portability (it ran on two AA batteries) and privacy (it featured a headphone jack but no external speaker) made it the ideal product for thousands of consumers looking for a compact portable stereo that they could take with them anywhere.


Just as today's generation of young people have no idea what a vinyl LP (long play) record looks like, there will be many wondering what a cassette tape looks like.

01 July 2009

Challenging assumptions - pork eating Turkish Muslims

Simon Reeve is one of the best travel docu-journalists around. In his new BBC series called Explore, in episode 'Istanbul and Anatolia', Adil Ray reported on the enigma of secular Turks who eat pork and drink beer.
You see, what I discovered in Turkey was probably the single most shocking piece of information regarding practising Muslims I have ever encountered.

No, not that the longer the beard the more religious you are, although some TV journalists would have us think so.

It's that in some parts of Turkey it is deemed perfectly acceptable for a Muslim to eat pork!

The guys I met take so much pleasure from it, in fact, that they actually go and hunt for it themselves - presumably to make sure it's real pork and not some kind of "tofu" variation supplied by the Islamic authorities.

I never thought I would see this day.

While a student, I was under the impression that even if a speck of my housemate's bacon fat was to get anywhere near my fish finger, I would be immediately struck down by lightning, but not before I had received 40 lashes in public from the local mullah and was disowned by the entire family.


Adil Ray joins a wild boar hunt in a Turkish forest

What struck me about the pork-eating and beer-drinking Turkish Muslims was how informed they were about their religion.

The people I spoke to had read the Koran and had made their choices.

This wasn't a case of someone feeling it had to be one choice or the other and that his or her life, beliefs and freedom were being compromised.

Until, that is, the authorities try to make it hard for them to hunt and sell pig meat or try to close down their local bars.
There are exceptions to every rule!

In any case, there was a time friends came over for breakfast and I had served bacon. The Jewish friend ate the bacon knowingly without any problem.