30 September 2010

Seeking a pambassador

Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding has announced the winners of its search for six Chengdu Pambassadors (or Panda Ambassadors), chosen from 12 finalists
1. 王郁文(台湾) 决赛总得分:176分 (No.1 Name: Wangyuwen (Taiwan) Votes: 176)
2. David Alqranti (法国)决赛总得分:171分(No.2 Name: David Alqranti (French) Votes: 171)
3. Ali Shakorian(瑞典)决赛总得分:169分 (No.3 Name: Ali Shakorian (Sweden) Votes: 169)
4. 黄西(中国) 决赛总得分:166分 (No.4 Name: Huang (China) Votes: 166)
5. Ashley Robertson (美国) 决赛总得分:164分 (No.5 Name: Ashley Robertson (American) Votes: 164)
6. Yumiko Kajiwara (日本)决赛总得分:162分 (No.6 Name: Yumiko Kajiwara (Japan) Votes: 162)
61,000 entries from 52 countries were received. The Six winners will spend a month in China at the Chengdu facility.

See SkyNews in the lead up to the selection.

ABC News (US)

What a dream job.

29 September 2010

Banned Books Week

It's Banned Books Week this week in the United States (25 September to 2 October).  From American Library Association.
Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.  Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.

Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week.  BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.

The books featured during Banned Books Week have been targets of attempted bannings.  Fortunately, while some books were banned or restricted, in a majority of cases the books were not banned, all thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community to retain the books in the library collections.  Imagine how many more books might be challenged—and possibly banned or restricted—if librarians, teachers, and booksellers across the country did not use Banned Books Week each year to teach the importance of our First Amendment rights and the power of literature, and to draw attention to the danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society.
The focus of the US Banned Books Week is probably more about local libraries making decisions to remove certain books that are not actually illegal.

No book in Australia had been banned since the 1970s, except for one about euthanasia, which was refused classification in 2007. Other books would be refused classification based on related laws on criminal activities, making them illegal. 

It is timely then to remember what happened on 10 May 1933.

Nazi youth groups burned around 20,000 books from the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft and Humboldt University; including works by Thomas Mann, Erich Maria Remarque, Heinrich Heine, Karl Marx and H.G. Wells. Student groups throughout Germany also carried out their own book burnings on that day and in the following weeks.

There is now a memorial/plaque at the site of the book burning (in Bebelplatz, Berlin). 

where books are burned, in the end people will burn - Heinrich Heine, 1820

I visited this site some years ago, which made me quite sad.

28 September 2010

Earth ambassador was nonsense

Two days ago I wrote about reported plans by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOS) to consider the appointment of an ambassador as a point of contact for visiting intelligent extraterrestrial lifeforms.

While I politely questioned the logic cited as the reason, I should have expressed greater skepticism.

AFP has now reported, quoting UNOOS, that the story was utter nonsense.
L'Unoosa, dont le siège est à Vienne, réplique ainsi à un article publié par le quotidien britannique Sunday Times: "L'article du Sunday Times est une absurdité", a déclaré l'agence onusienne dans un communiqué.

"La mission du Bureau pour les affaires spatiales est définie par l'Assemblée générale des Nations Unies et il n'y a pas de projet de modifier la mission actuelle", a ajouté l'Unoosa.
It will be interesting to see how The Sunday Times (UK) that reported on the original story responds.

27 September 2010

And now, science reporting by formula

Back in March, I wrote about (television) news by formula including Charlie Brooker's mock television news reporting by formula.

Martin Robbins, writing in The Guardian, has revealed the formula used in scientific reporting. Excerpt
This is a news website article about a scientific paper

In the standfirst I will make a fairly obvious pun about the subject matter before posing an inane question I have no intention of really answering: is this an important scientific finding?

In this paragraph I will state the main claim that the research makes, making appropriate use of "scare quotes" to ensure that it's clear that I have no opinion about this research whatsoever.

In this paragraph I will briefly (because no paragraph should be more than one line) state which existing scientific ideas this new research "challenges".

If the research is about a potential cure, or a solution to a problem, this paragraph will describe how it will raise hopes for a group of sufferers or victims.

This paragraph elaborates on the claim, adding weasel-words like "the scientists say" to shift responsibility for establishing the likely truth or accuracy of the research findings on to absolutely anybody else but me, the journalist.

In this paragraph I will state in which journal the research will be published. I won't provide a link because either a) the concept of adding links to web pages is alien to the editors, b) I can't be bothered, or c) the journal inexplicably set the embargo on the press release to expire before the paper was actually published.

"Basically, this is a brief soundbite," the scientist will say, from a department and university that I will give brief credit to. "The existing science is a bit dodgy, whereas my conclusion seems bang on" she or he will continue.

I will then briefly state how many years the scientist spent leading the study, to reinforce the fact that this is a serious study and worthy of being published by the BBC the website.
Read more. Robbins also reveals the purpose of subheadings and the comments following the article are definitely worth reading.

According to The Guardian, "Martin Robbins is a Berkshire-based researcher and science writer. He edits The Lay Scientist, a community blog about science, pseudoscience and evidence-based politic."

So not even the BBC is infallible. Just as well I usually check for original media releases from research organisations.

26 September 2010

Earth ambassador to greet extra terrestrials

The Daily Telegraph (UK) and Sunday Times (UK, reprinted in The Australian) reported that the United Nations may appoint an ambassador as a point of contact for visiting intelligent extraterrestrial lifeforms.

Ms Mazlan Othman, director of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOS) based in Vienna is expected to discuss details of the proposed new role at a meeting of the Royal Society in early October. This would then be subject to debate at the United Nations General Assembly.

Apparently, the proposal was prompted by the recent discovery of hundreds of planets orbiting other stars, increasing the likelihood of discovering extraterrestrial life.

Interesting logic, considering that those hundreds of planets have always been there despite not being previously detected by humans.

25 September 2010

A grand final with no winner or loser

The 2010 season AFL grand final was on this afternoon. Collingwood Magpies and Saint Kilda played both drew at 68 points apiece at full time. There was no extra time. Both teams now have to go through it all over again next Saturday.

Both players and supporters expressed the same feeling.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 25: Jason Blake and Brendon Goddard of the Saints and Dayne Beams of the Magpies react as the siren sounds at the end of the game and it is a draw during the AFL Grand Final match between the Collingwood Magpies and the St Kilda Saints at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on September 25, 2010 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
Photo by by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images (via PicApp)

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 25: Collingwood fans react at full time as they watch the AFL Grand Final match between the Collingwood Magpies and the St Kilda Saints on a large television screen at the Collingwood Football Clubs Live Site at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl on September 25, 2010 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images (via PicApp)

Storm in a D cup on Sesame Street

A clip of a duet between Elmo and Katy Perry was planned to go to air. A preview was provided on YouTube (both Sesame Street and Katy Perry channels). Following complaints from some parents, the video was removed from Sesame Street's YouTube channel and will now not air. The basis of the complaints was that Ms Perry's clothing was too revealing. Here is the clip.

Sesame Street released a statement via facebook
Sesame Street has a long history of working with celebrities across all genres, including athletes, actors, musicians and artists. Sesame Street has always been written on two levels, for the child and adult. We use parodies and celebrity segments to interest adults in the show because we know that a child learns best when co-viewing with a parent or care-giver. We also value our viewer’s opinions and particularly those of parents. In light of the feedback we’ve received on the Katy Perry music video which was released on You Tube only, we have decided we will not air the segment on the television broadcast of Sesame Street, which is aimed at preschoolers. Katy Perry fans will still be able to view the video on KatyPerry.com.
"Aimed at preschoolers", so perhaps the clip could have been focus group tested for those preschoolers' reactions, NOT their parents. More than likely, those same preschoolers would not have even noticed anything of concern raised by some parents.

It is a shame that adults read sinister meanings into perfectly innocent situations.

See Rolling Stone magazine and The Punch (Australian).

23 September 2010

Stealing Cristiano's shirt and refusing a tip from Megan Fox

Latest campaign adverts from Armani Jeans

Cristiano Ronald does not have any tattoos. He did not look at the housekeeper once or talk to her.

A room service waiter refusing a tip from Megan Fox? She has tattoos but they aren't that interesting.

22 September 2010

Free sparkling water. In Paris.

I've written a number of times about bottled water and the ethical question about the cost to the environment.

On Tuesday, a drinking fountain that dispenses chilled and room temperature tap water either still or sparkling/fizzy was opened at a park in Paris. From AFP, excerpt

PARIS — "La Pétillante", première fontaine publique distribuant de l'eau gazeuse en France, a été inaugurée mardi dans le jardin de Reuilly (XIIe arrondissement) à Paris, avec une dégustation offerte à 200 écoliers, a-t-on appris auprès de la régie municipale Eau de Paris.

Ressemblant à un kiosque, cette fontaine publique distribue de l'eau tempérée, de l'eau fraîche, mais surtout, pour la première fois, de l'eau pétillante.

Read more.

The water comes directly through Parisian water pipes. This is the first facility to chill the water and add carbon dioxide to render it sparkling. It is expected to decrease the use of bottled water. Hopefully, there are plans to add kiosks offering chilled sparkling water to other locations and not just in parks.

People queue to take fizzy water during the inauguration of the first fizzy water fountain in a park in Paris September 21, 2010. Eco-conscious Parisians can now get their sparkling water free and in unlimited supply at a new public drinking fountain installed by city authorities, which aims to wean consumers off bottled water and onto tap. To match Reuters Life! FRANCE-WATER  REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer (FRANCE - Tags: SOCIETY ENVIRONMENT)
photo by Philippe Wojazer/Reuters (via PicApp)

See also ITN News below (and BBC)

I think a fountain offering chilled sparkling champagne would be even more popular.

21 September 2010

OK Go - even better than the treadmills video

This clip transcends placement in my music blog. From OK Go, it features very well trained canines. Clip from new single 'White Knuckles' from new album Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky: Extra Nice Edition (Amazon.com).

Directed by Trish Sie and OK Go
Produced by Shirley Moyers
Canine participants courtesy of Lauren Henry and Roland Sonnenburg and their team of trainers from Talented Animals


19 September 2010

September is Save The Koala Month

From Australian Koala Foundation, media release
September is Save The Koala Month and this year the Australian Koala Foundation (AKF) is hoping to celebrate it with koala lovers from all over the world.

With wild koala numbers estimated to be less than 80,000 and possibly as low as 43, 000 the AKF is asking everybody to help raise awareness of the plight of our much loved, globally famous and rapidly disappearing national icon by taking an active role in Save the Koala Month.

“Our focus this year is an online campaign to minimize costs and our impact on the environment by encouraging everyone from all around the world to visit savethekoala.com to find out how they can help” said Ms Deborah Tabart OAM CEO of the Australian Koala Foundation.

“We have made it easy to donate online with the introduction of Pay Pal and to show our appreciation we are emailing people who make a donation over $30 a beautiful personalized thank you certificate featuring Hilda, one of our cutest foster koalas” said Ms Tabart

Businesses who want to help out can put a very cute “Donate Today” button on their website that directly links to the Save The Koala Month donation page.

“We are encouraging people to join our Facebook fan page Save the Australian Koala and for those who prefer face to face social networking and fundraising we want you to get creative…make cupcakes for work, hold a cuppa for koalas morning tea, a Sausage Sizzle, Garage Sale, Dress Casual for Koalas, swim, run, bike ride for the Koala.

“Every little bit helps us raise much need funds and awareness for the plight of the wild koala” Ms Tabart said.

Supporters can register any fundraising event with the AKF for free and will receive images to help them promote it. Remember whatever you can do will really help.

All Save the Koala Month activities are listed on the Australian Koala Foundation’s website www.savethekoala.com
See also television advertisement

The koala is also not a bear.

17 September 2010

i was lovin' it

From Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) news release
Sept. 14, 2010

MEDIA CONTACT: Vaishali Honawar | 202-527-7339 | vhonawar@pcrm.org

Provocative Commercial Targets McDonald’s High-Fat Fare
Doctors Link Washington’s Heart Disease Rates to High Concentration of Golden Arches, Other Fast-Food Outlets

WASHINGTON—A provocative fast-food commercial set in a morgue will air during The Daily Show and local news broadcasts Sept. 16. The ad, produced by the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), takes aim at McDonald’s high-fat menu, with the goal of drawing Washingtonians’ attention to the city’s high rates of heart disease deaths and its high density of fast-food restaurants.

“Our city’s addiction to Big Macs and other high-fat fast food is literally breaking our hearts,” says Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., PCRM’s nutrition education director. “It’s time to tackle the district’s heart disease problem head-on. A moratorium on new fast-food restaurants could be a critically important step toward fighting this epidemic.”

A PCRM survey shows that Washington has more McDonald’s, Burger King, and KFC outlets per square mile than eight other cities with similar population sizes. Offerings at these restaurants include high-fat, high-sodium products such as McDonald’s Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese Extra Value Meal, which has 61 grams of fat and 1,650 milligrams of sodium.

McDonald’s, the world’s largest fast-food chain, serves a long list of high-fat, high-cholesterol items and offers almost no healthful choices, according to an analysis by PCRM dietitians.

Heart disease kills more than 1,500 residents of the district each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the age-adjusted death rate from heart disease in the city is the second highest in the country, above high-obesity states like Alabama, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and West Virginia.

Studies, including one from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, show that people who consume fast food are at a higher risk of obesity, a key risk factor for heart disease. Regular consumption of high-fat, high-cholesterol foods increases the risk of heart disease, and studies have found that even a singly fatty meal can raise blood pressure, stiffen major arteries, and cause the heart to beat harder.

The commercial will air in other fast-food addicted cities with high rates of heart disease over the following months.

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.
Here is the commercial

This is the response from McDonald's
“This commercial is outrageous, misleading and unfair to all consumers. McDonald’s trusts our customers to put such outlandish propaganda in perspective, and to make food and lifestyle choices that are right for them.
If that was the case, McDonald's could try and sue PCRM. However, there is no such thing as good publicity in the case of fast food chains. The response from McDonald's appears to use the same logic that tobacco companies use, without having a counter argument.

16 September 2010

What every suburban chick needs

Rearing chickens was once common in Australian suburban backyards. Chickens were kept as a steady source of fresh eggs. After nearly a generation's absence, keeping chickens has yet again become popular, particularly in the last few years.

Unfortunately, chickens tend to poo everywhere. A smart entrepreneur supplying chickens in the Brisbane area has come up with a chicken nappy. From City Chicks - product information
The perfect accessory for the city chicken. Straight from the catwalk to your home. Our chicken nappies are designed and made to fit most chickens. The nappy is made from pure cotton so it shouldn't irritate any delicate bottoms.

These look ridiculously hard to put on but as long as you have 10 fingers and sense of humour, you will be fine. They come with full instructions on how to put on and we are only a phone call away. I can talk you through my adventures like my escaping white hybrid running down the driveway with her nappy hanging from her neck. That is what happens when you want to work with highly stressed models. I settled in the end with my isabrown, Luscious Legs as my model.

The nappy has a little plastic bag cut to fit and safety pinned to the top of the nappy. This gets thrown away once full and replaced with another bag. Each nappy comes with 1 bag. You also receive an instruction sheet on how to cut the bags so they fit your nappy.

The nappy is fitted by lifting the long strap over the head and then secured to the 2 long flaps on the back of the chicken. The instructions on our sheet are clear and helpful.

Very stylish! Presumably, there are instructions concerning when the chickens wish to lay eggs.

15 September 2010

Worse than bullfighting

In late July, I wrote about the Spain's regional Catalan parliament banning bullfighting, effective from 2012.

Yesterday (Tuesday), the Spanish town of Tordesillas 'celebrated' the Torneo del Toro de la Vega (the tournament of the bull in the meadow), the ritual sacrifice of a bull.

A lone toro (bull) named Platanito was driven by horsemen wielding spears across the bridge over the river Duero from the town to a meadow (vega). Surrounded by horsemen, lancers then compete to wound and kill the bull.

Footage from EFE

Video from PACMA

Agonía y muerte del Toro de la Vega en Tordesillas from PACMA TV on Vimeo.

See Partido Antitaurino Contra el Maltrato Animal (PACMA) and reporting in Sydney Morning Herald (from AFP)

On Sunday, PACMA staged protests against the event, which dates back as early as 1453 before the advent of organised bullfighting towards the end of the 17th century.

As I've mentioned previously, how can decent human beings torment and torture an animal for fun and maintain their right to continue doing so because of tradition?

13 September 2010

Animals made us human

Drake Bennett wrote a great article in the Boston Globe called 'How animals made us human: What explains the ascendance of Homo sapiens? Start by looking at our pets.' Excerpts
...human beings are a distinctly pet-loving bunch. In no other species do adults regularly and knowingly rear the young of other species and support them into old age; in our species it is commonplace.
[they] live with us, eating the food we give them, interrupting our sleep, dictating our schedules, occasionally soiling the carpet, and giving nothing in return but companionship and often desultory affection.

What explains this yen to have animals in our lives?

An anthropologist named Pat Shipman believes she’s found the answer: Animals make us human. She means this not in a metaphorical way — that animals teach us about loyalty or nurturing or the fragility of life or anything like that — but that the unique ability to observe and control the behavior of other animals is what allowed one particular set of Pleistocene era primates to evolve into modern man. The hunting of animals and the processing of their corpses drove the creation of tools, and the need to record and relate information about animals was so important that it gave rise to the creation of language and art. Our bond with nonhuman animals has shaped us at the level of our genes, giving us the ability to drink milk into adulthood and even, Shipman argues, promoting the set of finely honed relational antennae that allowed us to create the complex societies most of us live in today. Our love of pets is an artifact of that evolutionary interdependence.

Though the thesis is that it is our 'exploitation' of other animal species that may have made us human, it is also how we treat animals that make us humane.

12 September 2010

Another set of twin pandas

Last month, I wrote about twin pandas being born in Japan. Zoo Aquarium Madrid in Spain recently announced the birth of twin panda cubs. They were born to Hua Zui Ba on 7 September 2010 and were conceived through artificial insemination.

Madrid Zoo also filmed the births, which is amazing to see.

See also news report by ITN

(photo Parques Reunidos)

08 September 2010

A near miss but with little warning

A late notice from NASA

Two small asteroids in unrelated orbits will pass within the moon's distance of Earth on Wed.

September 07, 2010

PASADENA, Calif. – Two asteroids, several meters in diameter and in unrelated orbits, will pass within the moon's distance of Earth on Wednesday, Sept. 8.

Both asteroids should be observable near closest approach to Earth with moderate-sized amateur telescopes. Neither of these objects has a chance of hitting Earth. A 10-meter-sized near-Earth asteroid from the undiscovered population of about 50 million would be expected to pass almost daily within a lunar distance, and one might strike Earth's atmosphere about every 10 years on average.

The Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Ariz., discovered both objects on the morning of Sunday, Sept. 5, during a routine monitoring of the skies. The Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Mass., first received the observations Sunday morning, determined preliminary orbits and concluded that both objects would pass within the distance of the moon about three days after their discovery.

Near-Earth asteroid 2010 RX30 is estimated to be 32 to 65 feet (10 to 20 meters) in size and will pass within 0.6 lunar distances of Earth (about 154,000 miles, or 248,000 kilometers) at 2:51 a.m. PDT (5:51 a.m. EDT) Wednesday. The second object, 2010 RF12, estimated to be 20 to 46 feet (6 to 14 meters) in size, will pass within 0.2 lunar distances (about 49,088 miles or 79,000 kilometers) a few hours later at 2:12 p.m. PDT (5:12 pm EDT).

Surprisingly, the objects were only detected a few days ago. What if the projected trajectories had been set for a collision with the earth? Surely a few days notice would not have provided sufficient warning if that had been the case.

07 September 2010

Why is it that racists can't spell?

Marieke Hardy, writes for ABC The Drum and is fairly insightful. Her piece 'How do you spell racist?' begins with the following
So the story goes like this. Victorian Labor MP Don Nardella recently received a letter from a very cross constituent who took him to task for not paying enough attention to his 'people' or parking in a no standing area or wearing the wrong tie or whatever. Contained within the presumably passionate missive was the accusation "You seem to not want to help anyone except the immagration people".

Mr Nardella, offended by both the implication and the spelling, penned the following reply: "My advice to you stands from my initial email reply. Learn how to spell 'immigration' before using the word again".
Of course, Hardy did not suggest that the correspondent might be racist but it was a good lead-in to the rest of her article citing other examples. Mr Nardella, responding to the Herald Sun newspaper, defended his response
"Obviously there's a slur there," he said.

"I felt pointing out her spelling mistake was the gentlest way ... to say that her comments were inappropriate."
Perhaps Mr Nardella should have been more blunt.

Back to Ms Hardy's article - read more here. She does have a point. More often than not, the most intolerant people, dare we say bigoted, are usually the least literate. Says a lot really.

06 September 2010

Combat rations in Afghanistan

Last year, I wrote about Australian soldiers in Afghanistan not being satisfied with the meals being provided by the Dutch. In the same post, I also wrote about the Australian pre-packaged ration packs.

Ashely Gilbertson, in The New York Times, recently wrote about the pre-packaged rations, comparing those from different countries. Excerpt
The menus and accompaniments are intended not just to nourish but also to remind the soldier of home. Some include branded comfort foods — Australians get a dark-brown spreadable yeast-paste treat called Vegemite, for example — while others get national staples like liverwurst (Germany), or lamb curry (Britain’s current culinary obsession).

Some of the contents are practical. Italians get three disposable toothbrushes per day of combat. Americans get pound cake, which military folklore says reduces the need for toilet breaks.

Read more. See also photos of the packs from a number of different countries. Some of the other packs look appealing, but I would stick with the Australian one. The others don't have Vegemite.

05 September 2010

Les Gitans de St. Jacques

FREELENS Galerie, in Hamburg, Germany is exhibiting photographs by Jesco Denzel about Gitans in St. Jacques, a quarter (or neighbourhood) in Perpignan, France. From Christoph Twickel, writing in Der Spiegel

Perpignan, population 120,000, is hardly a must-see on the European tourist circuit. At most, travellers might change trains here on the way from Paris to Barcelona. But the town is home to one of the few quarters in France where Gitans -- as Roma are called in French -- have found a permanent home.


They have been there for almost two centuries. In the 15th century, Gypsies arrived on the Iberian peninsula from India via a part of Greece known at the time as "little Egypt." The Spanish referred to the newcomers as "Egiptanos," which eventually became shortened to "Gitanos" -- and in France to "Gitans." Following the French Revolution, Roma began settling on the Mediterranean coast including, in around 1920, in the St. Jacques quarter of Perpignan.

Although the Gitans in St. Jacques are not directly connected to the Roma who are currently being deported from the country by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, discrimination and integration have long been defining issues in their lives. They are all citizens of France, but poverty and illiteracy have been their constant companions. Photographer Denzel noted that the Gitans in St. Jacques prefer to stay among themselves, in part because of the rejection with which they have been confronted by French society.

Read more.

from Der Spiegel (1 of 21) by Jesco Denzel

A fascinating insight into the world of Gitans in France. The exhibition is also timely, but a pity that it is in Hamburg and not Paris.

04 September 2010

book - finished reading

The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do (Allen & Unwin 2010)

From publisher's notes

Anh Do nearly didn't make it to Australia. His entire family came close to losing their lives on the sea as they escaped from war-torn Vietnam in an overcrowded boat. But nothing - not murderous pirates, nor the imminent threat of death by hunger, disease or dehydration as they drifted for days - could quench their desire to make a better life in the country they had dreamed about.

Life in Australia was hard, an endless succession of back-breaking work, crowded rooms, ruthless landlords and make-do everything. But there was a loving extended family, and always friends and play and something to laugh about for Anh, his brother Khoa and their sister Tram. Things got harder when their father left home when Anh was thirteen - they felt his loss very deeply and their mother struggled to support the family on her own. His mother's sacrifice was an inspiration to Anh and he worked hard during his teenage years to help her make ends meet, also managing to graduate high school and then university.

Another inspiration was the comedian Anh met when he was about to sign on for a 60-hour a week corporate job. Anh asked how many hours he worked. 'Four,' the answer came back, and that was it. He was going to be a comedian! The Happiest Refugee tells the incredible, uplifting and inspiring life story of one of our favourite personalities. Tragedy, humour, heartache and unswerving determination - a big life with big dreams. Anh's story will move and amuse all who read it.

About Anh Do

Anh Do is one of Australia's leading comedians. He has also acted in television series and films, written screenplays and is a sought-after keynote speaker.

Read the first chapter (download PDF) from Get Reading!

This was a very compelling read, by one of Australia's best known comedians.

Also listen to inteviews on radio 2UE and radio 702 ABC Sydney.

03 September 2010

When your internet keeps dropping out...

I wondered why my internet connection would drop out for short periods every night and assumed it was the service provider or the internet in general.

Wrong. It now appears that the wireless modem-router for ADSL was deteriorating.

Last night, the internet dropped out with a message from the service provider suggesting the modem password was incorrect.

Modem replaced. Problem fixed.

Modems do not last forever.

01 September 2010

The DNA of what?

The misuse of scientific terminology continues unabated. One of the most common is DNA, as in 'DNA of advertising', 'DNA of customer experience', 'DNA of relationships' etc.

DNA is abbreviated from deoxyribonucleic acid. DNA is made of nucleotides and codes genetic information.

Instead, use 'blueprint' or something similar if that is what is intended.

Using scientific terms for non-scientific matters doesn't sound clever. It is idiotic.