30 November 2010

James West's Thanksgiving. The other one.

How receiving somebody else's emails in error resulted in a Thanksgiving invitation. A charming story reported by CNN.

See reports in Sydney Morning Herald and Palm Beach Post.

James West's YouTube videos can be found on his webpage.

29 November 2010

The cost of Christmas: PNC's Christmas price index

How much does the 12 days of Christmas cost? PNC has been calculating the cost for the past 27 years and there has been a rise this year. From PNC press release
True Loves Be Warned: Despite Weak Economic Picture PNC Christmas Price Index® Jumps a Staggering 9.2%

Costs for "The Twelve Days of Christmas" Song Items Spike Due To Price Increases for Commodities, Performers and Birds

PITTSBURGH, Nov. 29, 2010 – Despite a sluggish economy and low inflation, the 2010 PNC Christmas Price Index® surged 9.2 percent in the whimsical economic analysis by PNC Wealth Management based on the gifts in the holiday classic, "The Twelve Days of Christmas."

According to the 27th annual survey, the price tag for the PNC CPI is $23,439 in 2010, $1,974 more than last year. This is the second highest jump ever and largest percentage increase since 2003 when the index rose 16 percent. That comes on the heels of a modest 1.8 percent increase a year ago.

"This year's jump in the PNC CPI can be attributed to rising gold commodity prices, represented by the Five Gold Rings which went up by 30 percent, in addition to higher costs for wages and benefits impacting some entertainers," said James Dunigan, managing executive of investments for PNC Wealth Management.

Although these trends affect both indexes, the PNC CPI's surge is in marked contrast to the government's CPI, which grew a mere 1.1 percent, illustrating the difference in size of the two baskets of goods and services.

Among the 12 gifts in the PNC CPI, only four items (Pear Tree, Four Calling Birds, Six Geese a–Laying and the Eight Maids-a-Milking) were the same price from last year.

The 11 Pipers Piping ($2,356) and 12 Drummers Drumming ($2,552) saw modest increases, both up 3.1 percent, however these higher costs give greater weight to the index. Lords-a-Leaping jumped 8 percent to $4,766 but the biggest dollar increase this year was for the Nine Ladies Dancing, up $820, a 15 percent boost. None of these performers received a wage increase last year, and were playing catch-up in 2010.

Birds Soar Higher

After modest increases last year, prices for the birds flew higher in this year's index, in part due to the costs of feed as well as the availability and demand for certain feathered friends that amplified several prices. The Two Turtle Doves increased 78.6 percent to $100 and the Three French hens surged 233 percent to $150.
The Partridge in a Pear Tree is up 1.3 percent to $161. But the partridge alone was up 20 percent to $12 and the pear tree is identical to a year ago at $149.

The cost of the Seven Swans-a-Swimming, which generally provide the biggest swings from year to year in the PNC CPI, rose this year by 6.7 percent to $5,600 following last year's surprising 6.5 percent drop. As the most volatile component in the index, the swans are removed to determine underlying inflation or core PNC CPI, which pushed the rate up 10 percent this year.

As part of its annual tradition, PNC Wealth Management also tabulates the "True Cost of Christmas," which is the total cost of items gifted by a True Love who repeats all of the song's verses. This holiday season, very generous True Loves have to fork over $96,824 for all 364 gifts, an even more eye-popping 10.8 percent increase compared to last year.

No Raise for the Milkmaids

As the only unskilled laborers in the PNC CPI, the cost of the eight Maids-a-Milking is represented with the minimum wage. They received no increase in pay in 2010 as the Federal minimum wage did not rise for the first time in three years. With the minimum wage flat at $7.25 per hour, hiring the maids this year cost $58.

Monetary Policy Based on PNC CPI?

Should the Federal Reserve set policy based on the PNC CPI, given its huge jump? Not so fast, said Dunigan.

"Typically we see more parallels between our index and the Federal government's," Dunigan said. "This year, we hope, is an aberration. But let's keep in mind that we are talking about a small basket of goods and services here compared to the Consumer Price Index."

The PNC CPI's sources include retailers, the National Aviary in Pittsburgh and the Philadelphia-based Pennsylvania Ballet Company.

Cyber Prices: The Cost of Convenience

For those True Loves who prefer the convenience of shopping online, PNC Wealth Management calculates the cost of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" gifts purchased on the Internet.

This year, the trends identified in the traditional index are repeated in the Internet version, with the core rates more than total rates. True Loves will pay a grand total of $34,336 to buy the items online. That is a 9.2 percent more expensive than last year and almost $11,000 more than this year's traditional index.

"In general, Internet prices are higher than their non-Internet counterparts because of shipping costs for birds and the convenience factor of shopping online," Dunigan said.
The interactive pop-up book style presentation can be found here and it is definitely worth a look.

27 November 2010

Kopi Luwak (poo coffee)

Reported by Sara Sidner in Jakarta for CNN

While not new information, having been previously reported elsewhere over the past ten years, is a useful reminder.

Of course Indonesia is not the only source of this coffee, with Vietnam also known for its "weasel coffee".

26 November 2010


OM NOM NOM NOM NOM, or portion thereof, is commonly used to describe delicious food. We can thank Cookie Monster for this phrase.

See interview by Ella with Cookie Monster on 9 November 2009 for Rocketboom

25 November 2010

Doctor Who Experience

Whovians the world over will be flocking to London, and then Cardiff, for the ultimate Doctor Who fix.

See press release from BBC Worldwide via Taylor Herring (lifted completely and unashamedly in full, which is the intent of press releases)
LONDON, Thursday 25th November 2010: BBC Worldwide invite you on a journey of a lifetime. Step inside the TARDIS this spring to take a starring role in your very own Doctor Who adventure at the Doctor Who Experience.
Opening in London on Sunday 20th February 2011 at London’s Olympia Two venue, the Doctor Who Experience promises to be an unmissable adventure featuring an exhilarating and unique walk-through experience and an awe-inspiring exhibition.
Visitors will be invited to step through a crack in time to become the Doctor’s companion on an adventure. Their challenge will be to reunite the Doctor with the TARDIS whilst fending off threats from a Dalek spaceship and Weeping Angels along the way, before exploring the wonders of Doctor Who at an out of this world exhibition.
The Doctor Who Experience allows visitors to join the Doctor on a journey through time and space, encountering some of the best-loved and scariest monsters from the hit international television series. Special scenes filmed with current Doctor Matt Smith combine with amazing special effects and the chance to enter a recreation of the modern TARDIS interior topped off by a breathtaking 3-D finale. The walk through experience is a fully contained interactive Doctor Who adventure, which puts the public at the heart of the action.
The exhibition element of the Doctor Who Experience will chart the success of the show from the first series in 1963 to the most recent episodes starring Matt Smith and Karen Gillan. Displays will include items never seen before including original costumes, the Tom Baker TARDIS police box and two authentic TARDIS sets from the eras of David Tennant and Peter Davison. The public will also be able to get up close and personal with iconic sets from recent series, including the Pandorica Box and Chair and confront numerous monsters including several generations of the Daleks and Cybermen as well as Silurians an Ice Warrior and a Zygon.

Steven Moffat, Executive Producer and show runner for the hit television series comments: “The Doctor Who Experience is a fan’s dream come true – a fully interactive adventure that will allow viewers of the show to get as close as possible to some of the scariest monsters from the series. It will also be the first time that Doctor Who artefacts from all the show’s 47 year history – classic and new – will be on display together, many of them being seen for the first time. And never mind that, this is the day the Doctor teaches you how to fly the TARDIS through time and space, and takes you into battle with all his deadliest enemies in a brand new adventure. So steady your nerves and bring your own sofa – the Doctor needs you!”

Doctor Who star, Matt Smith, who has recorded a series of special, new scenes exclusive to the Doctor Who Experience comments:
“The whole concept of the Doctor Who Experience, which will give fans a chance to star in their very own Doctor Who adventure, is massively exciting! I hope as many people as possible enjoy boarding the TARDIS next year to embark upon an exhilarating and sometimes terrifying adventure through time and space.”

BBC Worldwide is pleased to announce that it is planning to relocate the Doctor Who Experience to a long term home in Cardiff in 2012.

The Doctor Who Experience promises to be an unmissable adventure for the whole family to enjoy. The Doctor needs your help – are you brave enough to step in to the TARDIS and join the adventure?

Tickets on sale from  www.doctorwhoexperience.com

For press enquiries, please contact Taylor Herring on 0208 206 5151
Oh yes, but a "walk through" experience?  I'd like a ride though the time vortex.

24 November 2010

Me no understand Cookie Monster

Cookie Monster has been on Sesame Street for 44 years. While residents of 1-2-3 Sesame Street have taught generations of children to count numbers, recite the alphabet, how to behave, and how to communicate using English, they have also failed to teach Cookie Monster how to speak English correctly.

Cookie Monster recently auditioned to host Saturday Night Live (SNL).

In that audition recording, Cookie Monster continues to refer to himself subjectively as me, as in "Me know many of you..." using the objective case pronoun and not "I", the subjective case pronoun.

Surely it is time he learns the rules of grammar.

Here, it seems that his own father speaks in the manner of someone whose first language is not English.

Clearly, having grown up with other native English speakers, Cookie Monster's standard of English should be better.

22 November 2010

Another panda

Media release from Zoo Atlanta
ATLANTA – November 3, 2010 – Lun Lun, a 13-year-old female giant panda at Zoo Atlanta, gave birth to her third cub on November 3, 2010. The cub, born at 5:39 a.m. in a specially-prepared birthing den in the Zoo’s giant panda building, is the only giant panda to be born in the U.S. in 2010.

Lun Lun appears to be providing appropriate care for her cub, which is roughly the size of a cell phone. The Animal Management and Veterinary Teams will continue round-the-clock monitoring of mother and cub, and a preliminary veterinary checkup will be performed as soon as staff is able to remove the cub without disrupting maternal care.

“We are extremely excited about welcoming Lun Lun’s and Yang Yang’s third cub, and proud of the success of Zoo Atlanta’s giant panda program,” said Dwight Lawson, PhD, Deputy Director. “This is a joy we share with the City of Atlanta, our colleagues in China, and our counterparts at our fellow zoological organizations housing giant pandas in the U.S.”

Zoo Atlanta Members and guests can expect to meet the cub in spring 2011. The cub’s father, 13-year-old Yang Yang, and older brother, Xi Lan, remain on exhibit and will not be introduced to their new family member. This separation is normal for giant pandas, which are solitary in the wild.

The newborn is the third offspring for the Zoo’s famous panda pair. Born September 6, 2006, their firstborn, Mei Lan, has lived at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding since February 2010. Born August 30, 2008, the pair’s second cub, 2-year-old male Xi Lan, remains one of the Zoo’s most popular and precocious animal stars. As is the case with Lun Lun’s tiny newest arrival, both Mei Lan and Xi Lan were the only giant pandas born in the U.S. in their respective birth years. All three births have been the products of artificial insemination.
And an update on 18 November
The giant panda cub born to Lun Lun on November 3, 2010, has been determined to be male. The cub’s sex was determined during an exam by the Zoo Atlanta Veterinary Team and a colleague from the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.
See other media releases from Zoo Atlanta.

(photo from Zoo Atlanta)
You can also see the birth captured by videocam, released by AP.

2010 is shaping to be a good year for panda live births. There are so few of them left that every single birth is important.

21 November 2010

Marching with the Devil

If a man tells you he has never dreamed of joining the French Foreign Legion he is a liar, has no imagination, or both.
So begins David Mason's memoir of his five-year service in the French Foreign Legion.

I have known David for many years and had looked forward to the book finally being published. Many years ago, I read the first draft in loose-leaf form, unbound and held by a ribbon. It was an entertaining read and the original version was a light-hearted account, seen from a prism of good humour.  David was quite surprised that I was able to recount that early draft from memory. It was actually quite good and had left an impression.

The version published by Hachett was not what I had expected. It was a completely new story, providing more insight, not only into David's experience in the Legion but also what he had thought about it all.

In the book, David's five years in the Legion are separated into 28 chapters, each described, under the chapter name, by a French phrase used within that chapter. Over the 28 chapters, we learn about the process of enlistment, training and eventual deployments to Djibouti between 1988 and 1993, all with David's critical analysis of his experience, probably with hindsight written many years later.

If you want to read an account of life in the French Foreign Legion with a view to enlisting, this is not the book to convince you. Rather, it is scathing of the processes used by the Legion during that period, from recruitment, training, day-to-day general duties to field operations. The benchmark for comparison used by David was his experience in the Australian Army Reserve.  Having also served in the reserves, I can't help but feel that David may have been a little generous in that regard.

The most interesting aspect of the book wasn't about the French Foreign Legion itself but David's accounts of the human interactions and his attempt to understand why certain people behaved the way that they did in the situations that he describes. In the book, there were lots of bad behaviour from Legionnaire superiors to recruits, all trying to make what was possibly a bad situation for them, better at the expense of others.

No doubt, some Legionnaires who served with David may disagree with his retelling of his experiences, but knowing David, I suspect there is some truth in his tale.

During October 2010, Australia's SBS TWO channel also screened the four-part series of Bear Gryll's Escape to the Legion. It was a useful insight, albeit somewhat contrived. However, much of it supports David Mason's account of his time in the Legion.

Read it, or as David's Legionnaire colleagues would say "Je m'en fous".

19 November 2010

The best flash mobs

According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary, a flash mob is a public gathering of complete strangers, organised via the internet or mobile phone, who perform a pointless act and then disperse again.

Of course, some acts are more sophisticated than others, such as impromptu musicals and dance, so one would expect a certain amount of rehearsal time by these 'complete strangers'. By definition, they shouldn't be considered as flash mobs but more as unannounced performances in public spaces.

Still, seemingly spontaneous displays of artistic merit are the most fun to watch. They are always usually captured on film, sometimes of a high professional standard.

Mashable listed its '15 Fab Flash Mob Videos on YouTube' back in June 2010.

My list is different. Here are some of the best.


From the Eurovision Song Contest in late May 2010, dance simultaneously performed throughout Europe to Madcon, Glow

Ohio Union at Ohio State University on 3 May 2010, dance to Glee soundtrack, Don't Stop Believing (itself a cover of Journey's original song)

Antwerp Central railway station - dance to Do-Re-Mi in March 2009

Bondi Beach, Sydney - dance to Ben Lee, That's the way I like it, in November 2009


Improv Everywhere
's Food Court Musical in March 2008

Opera (yes, really)

Opera Company of Philadelphia 'Brindisi' from Verdi's La Traviata at Reading Terminal Market on 24 April 2010

Opera Company of Philadelphia 'Hallelujah chorus' from Handel's Messiah at Macy's in Center City Philadelphia on 30 October 2010 as part of the Knight Foundation's 'Random Act of Culture'

Organised by Alphabet Photography, performed by Chorus Niagara at Seaway Mall on 13 November 2010

18 November 2010

Preserving French cuisine

UNESCO maintains a World Heritage List, which is well known. The 911 sites include those that are natural, like the Great Barrier Reef or cultural, like the Sydney Opera House. Inclusion of a site on the list means worldwide recognition of the importance of the site and the need to preserve and protect it for humanity.

Less well known is UNESCO's List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding. Items are those cultural practices and expressions of intangible heritage that are deemed worthy of protection and preservation. Intangible items include human expressions such as song, dance and rituals.

Recently, UNESCO, meeting in Kenya, added the gastronomic meal of the French to the list
The gastronomic meal of the French is a customary social practice for celebrating important moments in the lives of individuals and groups, such as births, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, achievements and reunions. It is a festive meal bringing people together for an occasion to enjoy the art of good eating and drinking. The gastronomic meal emphasizes togetherness, the pleasure of taste, and the balance between human beings and the products of nature. Important elements include the careful selection of dishes from a constantly growing repertoire of recipes; the purchase of good, preferably local products whose flavours go well together; the pairing of food with wine; the setting of a beautiful table; and specific actions during consumption, such as smelling and tasting items at the table. The gastronomic meal should respect a fixed structure, commencing with an apéritif (drinks before the meal) and ending with liqueurs, containing in between at least four successive courses, namely a starter, fish and/or meat with vegetables, cheese and dessert. Individuals called gastronomes who possess deep knowledge of the tradition and preserve its memory watch over the living practice of the rites, thus contributing to their oral and/or written transmission, in particular to younger generations. The gastronomic meal draws circles of family and friends closer together and, more generally, strengthens social ties.
Reported by AFP via France24
The country's ambassador to UNESCO Catherine Colonna hailed the inclusion, saying it "makes a contribution to cultural diversity".

"The French love getting together to eat and drink well and enjoy good times in such a manner. It is part of our tradition -- a quite active tradition," she added.

How wines are paired with dishes, how the table is dressed, the precise placing of glasses, for water, red and white wine, knife blade pointing in and fork tines down, are all seen as part of the rite.

Francis Chevrier, chief delegate of the French mission in charge of submitting the UNESCO bid, also welcomed the decision.

"It's very important that people realise, in villages in Africa and everywhere, that when you have knowledge of food it is a treasure for your community, and something worth cherishing," he said.

"It's wonderful. This is excellent news for French culture, for French heritage, to invite our cuisine, our gastronomic heritage to sit at the high table of culture at UNESCO."
See also a debate on France24 with commentators trying to define what is means including why French food is more special than many others (and in French). Unwieldily, the list is of the meal but not the cuisine.

Other 'cuisines' included in the list are Mexican and the Mediterranean diet.

Including 'cuisines' that are not endangered seems a little strange. Surely there are many more cuisines and gastronomic traditions throughout the world that are equally worthy of 'preservation'.

11 November 2010

Frau Gillard

A G20 summit is currently being held in Seoul, Korea. The event also coincides with the Seoul Lantern Festival where Cheonggye Stream is lit up by some 27,000 lanterns.  To commemorate the summit, one of the installations at the lantern festival is a wedding cake-shaped structure with dolls of G20 leaders in national dress.

Photo: AFP via Sydney Morning Herald
Australian Prime Minister Ms Julia Gillard was unfortunately depicted in a red costume from Austria, despite holding an Australian flag. The Sydney Morning Herald (Michelle Grattan) reported that "Australian authorities complained to Seoul counterparts, with a metropolitan government official saying he planned to change the doll's outfit today".

My source has reported that the Korean Embassy in Canberra, Australia is in "damage control".  No doubt, a very apologetic letter would have been sent by the Korean Ambassador.

It seems that it is not only Americans who confuse Australia with Austria, so much so that a t-shirt with a sign reading "no kangaroos in Austria" is now a common tourist souvenir.

Given the strong bilateral relations between Australia and Korea, particularly since the 1980s when both countries worked together to establish APEC, such a blunder would have come as a surprise.

During Ms Gillard's visit to Korea, a free trade agreement (FTA) is expected to be concluded.  As part of an expression of contriteness, there might be an opportunity for Australia to export kimchi to Korea, given the recent cabbage shortages there.

However, Korea's faux pas could be Austria's gain. A presentation by the Austrian Ambassador to Ms Gillard of a correctly measured and made dirndl, declaring her an honorary Austrian, together with an invitation to the Austrian Embassy's national day celebrations would gain incredible mileage in an otherwise low-key bilateral relationship.

The Australian Prime Minister in Austrian dress? This I would like to see. Given her inability to demonstrate any Welsh singing ability, there is an unlikelihood that she would carry the honour of being an 'Austrian' further by singing a few bars of Edelweiss (1). Still, we could be thankful for being spared the image of Mr Tony Abbott dressed in lederhosen.

(1) Contrary to popular belief, the song Edelweiss was only written by Rogers and Hammerstein for The Sound of Music and it has no connection to any Austrian folk song, nor is it the Austrian national anthem.

09 November 2010

Pale Blue Dot

Dr Carl Sagan would have turned 76 today but died very much prematurely from myelodysplasia on 20 December 1996.

Dr Sagan is best known for his work on astronomy and his television series Cosmos which was shown world-wide during the 1980s.

Although he did not have the same effect in astronomy as Johannes Kepler, Nicolaus Copernicus, Tycho Brahe or Galileo Galilei (and they were fighting against conventional religious thinking at the time), Dr Sagan brought an understanding of astronomy and science to a lot of people. He was a major proponent of the Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence (SETI) project.

"the earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena"

08 November 2010

The Goodies - they did anything anywhere any time

The Goodies was a comedy series that was first broadcast on 8 November 1970 (40 years ago) on BBC2. It was also screened in Australia on the ABC, including on repeat even this year. From BBC
The Goodies was the creation of Graeme Garden, Bill Oddie and Tim Brooke-Taylor. Having won a big audience for their children's show, Broaden Your Mind, they were let loose on a series with the simple premise that the trio were an agency offering to do "anything, anywhere, any time" - a premise they abandoned as soon as they could, leaving behind a tale of three very different men, all living in a giant office-cum-laboratory, usually either completely broke or amazingly rich, and always coming up with whacky schemes.

At its best the programme had the wit and inventiveness of a golden-era Tom and Jerry or Warner Brothers cartoon, lightly sprinkled with satire and the odd song.

Visual invention was a particular hallmark, with the team making great use of chroma-key and models for effects like Kitten Kong and the famous sequence in The Movies where attempts by each of the three to make a film (a silent, a western and a Roman epic) at the same time results in a picture that sees them flow rapidly from movie to movie, breaking through frames, busting down genres and bringing in everyone from Charlie Chaplin to Julie Andrews.
Even today, it still makes me laugh.

Here is a trip down memory lane, or in the case of those who had missed out, a taste...

07 November 2010

La Sagrada Familia - finally consecrated, but still unfinished

Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Familia, usually referred to as la Sagrada Familia, designed by renowned architect Antoni Gaudi in the neo-Gothic style, has been under construction in Barcelona since 1882. The Roman Catholic church is not expected to be completed until 2026.

Today, Pope Benedict XVI consecrated the yet unfinished church, and the main nave is now open for daily Mass for the first time.

See BBC News

Reporting by Al Jazeera (in English before consecration)

Reporting by RTVE (in Spanish during consecration)

La Sagrada Familia es desde hoy una basílica

La Sagrada Familia is one of my favourite buildings in the world. The detail on the facade outside is amazing to observe. Of course, there are a number of Gothic cathedrals in Barcelona that are also worth visiting including Catedral de la Santa Cruz y Santa Eulalia.

05 November 2010

Bringing home the bacon

Last year I wrote about the micro pig being the latest pet craze in Britain.

It seems that the craze had also taken in Australia, with Chrystal's Mini Pigs being a main breeder-supplier.

The Age (Carolyn Webb) reported about a pet pig named Leroy attending canine obedience classes. Excerpt
Watching 10-week-old Leroy at a Heidelberg park yesterday, it was clear that the dog club's gamble to admit Leroy as its first pig student has succeeded. In a month of private lessons, Ms Behan has taught Leroy to sit, come when called, and push a soccer ball.

She's moving on to tricks such as carrying a bag in his mouth - a challenge because it's not a natural action for a pig.

Despite a short attention span and his poor eyesight, Leroy has nailed some tasks faster than canine students and has a non-aggressive nature.
Katarina Behan, the trainer also wrote in her blog, doglifetraining.com
A number of months ago I was approached to train a pet piglet, named Leroy. I saw this as an amazing opportunity to ‘test’ the method of training I use on dogs, on another species. I had heard that pigs are very intelligent and that they can be trained to perform many different behaviours.

To begin, I wanted to teach Leroy to push a soccer ball around with his nose. In order to do this, I knew I had to use a training tool called a ‘clicker’. Clickers are small hand held tools, with a button or stiff strip of metal that once pushed, it makes a distinct ‘click’ sound. You may have received one as a child in a party bag.
See video

Unlike the British micro pigs, these appear to be slightly bigger. More meat on a spit. Only joking.

Pigs are as intelligent as dogs, if not more so. Pig owners are probably unlikely to keep eating pork. If only ham and bacon weren't so tasty.

04 November 2010

Joseph Nye on global power shifts

Joseph Nye, Dean Emeritus of the Kennedy School, Sultan of Oman Professor of International Relations at Harvard University, is still one of the world's foremost thinkers on international relations. He coined the term 'soft power' some twenty years ago.

Here, he spoke at Oxford University in July 2010 about global power shifts including about China.

03 November 2010

A serious media correction. Or not.

Haynes, a worldwide publisher of automotive manuals, has published a manual for the USS Enterprise of Star Trek fame, which is already available in the US and UK. Haynes' Australian operation is soon to release it in Australia.

Yesterday, News Limited's online news.com.au, reported that
The 160-page guide covers the entire range of USS Enterprise models, from Captain Jonathan Archer's original NX-01 from the most recent TV series through to the NCC-1701 under the control of Captain Kirk and her replacement, the NNC-1701-E.
The online article attracted a number of comments including criticisms of incorrect information.

Today, news.com.au published a correction titled We're sorry for claiming Captain Kirk was in command of Captain Picard's starship, which began with
* There were many USS Enterprises
* Kirk didn't captain them all
* Patrick Stewart is handsome

YESTERDAY, a news.com.au article incorrectly stated that the Star Trek starship USS Enterprise-E, otherwise known as model NNC-1701-E, was the successor to Captain Kirk's original USS Enterprise.

It has since been brought to our attention that the NNC-1701-E in fact came two models after Captain Kirk retired and was under the command of Captain Jean Luc Picard.
The correction then apologised "unreservedly for the error", linking back to the "original, poorly researched article", which then later included a disclaimer apologising for "any errors in this apology".

Unfortunately, there was not only a typo in the original article, but in the apology - as NNC should actually read NCC. The attracted an even greater number of comments pointing not only this out, but a number of other errors.

However, it might have been intentional - to go along with the photo of Picard's hand gesture and a fake poll on "What's the coolest starship class?".

I can't wait to check out the manual when it is eventually on sale in Australia. As for another apology and correction, I won't hold my breath.

Any media outlet reporting on Star Trek matters should know by now that they should be meticulous with the (fictional) facts as geekdom criticism knows no bounds.

02 November 2010

Watching watches 2

Last week, I wrote about the falling sales of watches as revealed by a consumer survey. As a functional item of time-keeping, young people have replaced the watch with other mobile gadgets.

Fitting, then that Dolce & Gabbana have marketed their watches, as fashion accessories.

Of course, to Dolce & Gabbana consumers, it has always been about style. Indeed, for Swatch and most watch brands, marketing has never been about functionality but about fashion.

Perhaps to young people, a watch is just another optional item.

01 November 2010

Tintin update

Empire magazine (UK) has published in its latest issue (December 2010, available from news stands in the UK from 4 November), the world's first exclusive stills of the upcoming Tintin film, The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn.

Two stills are available online - one showing Captain Haddock speaking to Tintin and another with Tintin and Snowy/Milou gesturing for help from a capsized boat.

The film will be first released in the UK on 26 October 2011, before distribution to other countries.