29 May 2011

football - round 10

Adelaide                  3.2   5.7   6.7   8.13  (61)
Brisbane Lions       1.3   6.7   11.11   15.11  (101)

Dangerfield, Walker, Smith, Jacobs, Wright, van Berlo, Knights, Henderson
Brisbane Lions: McGrath 4, Banfield 3, Clark 2, Retzlaff 2, Power, Collier, O'Brien, Rich

S.Thompson, Sloane, Knights, Douglas, Jacobs
Brisbane Lions: Clark, Leuenberger, Hanley, McGrath, Merrett, Black, Banfield

Walker (knee), Jacobs (finger)

Taylor Walker (knee) replaced by Jared Petrenko in the third quarter
Brisbane Lions: Rohan Bewick replaced by Jesse O'Brien in the fourth quarter

Umpires: Donlon, Pannell, McInerney
Official crowd: 34,583 at AAMI Stadium

Two wins in a row! The game was unpleasant to watch at the start, characteristic of Adelaide's zone defence game plan, which often results in low scores. From the second quarter onwards, Brisbane Lions picked up the pace. There were some magnificent passages of play from the boys. Mitch Clark was superb up forward, as was Daniel Merrett in defence.

Match report.

Simon Black handball (photo: SMG/Slattery Media)

Rohan Bewick in a tackle (photo: Morne de Klerk/Getty)

Daniel Merrett spoiling (photo: SMG/Slattery Media)

Pearce Hanley (photo: SMG/Slattery Media)

James Polkinghorne (photo: SMG/Slattery Media)

Torchwood: Miracle Day

Doctor Who spinoff, Torchwood is now a BBC Cymru Wales, BBC Worldwide and Starz Entertainment co-production partnership, which extended the life of the series and moved production and locations from Wales to the United States.

Torchwood: Miracle Day will broadcast from July 2011.

Torchwood Miracle Day Full US Trailer by doctorwho-tv

Can't wait.

28 May 2011

Vivid Sydney is vivid

Sydney's annual Festival of Light, Music and Ideas - Vivid Sydney - is on from 27 May to 13 June 2011.
Vivid Sydney will colour the city with creativity and inspiration, featuring breathtaking immersive light projections on the iconic Sydney Opera House sails, performances from local and international musicians as part of Vivid LIVE and a free outdoor exhibition of interactive light sculptures.

In 2011 the festival will also include a range of artistic collaborations, public talks and debates from leading creative thinkers from Australia and around the world, celebrating Sydney as the creative hub of the Asia Pacific.
Stunning video footage from Agence France-Presse of the launch, with the Sydney Opera House and Customs House lit up with 3D projections

26 May 2011

Brussels metro bans French and Dutch songs, plays Lady Gaga instead

The Kingdom of Belgium has tenuously united Dutch-speaking Flemish and French-speaking Walloons since 1830. Divisions between the two groups have meant that there has been no new government since the elections of 13 June 2010.

The Brussels metro previously broadcast French music (songs) at its 69 stations. Following complaints from dozens of passengers in April, the operator of the Brussels metro STIB has banned both French and Dutch music to avoid offending customers. Dutch music had actually not been broadcast because they were not popular (in music charts) anyway.

Consequently, most music broadcast by the stations have been in English. This provided an opportunity for the promotion of Lady Gaga's latest album.

Music from French and Dutch musicians is not technically banned, provided it is sung in English.

See reporting in Le Post (in French).

Report from Le Journal on Télé Bruxelles

Lady Gaga dans le métro de Bruxelles by Zoomin_France

22 May 2011

Sesame Street's Bert interviews to comedian Andy Samberg

Part 1

Part 2

Bert collects pigeons, paperclips and bottle-tops. Bert does not get the punch-line of most jokes.

This interview probably revealed more about Bert than it did Andy Samberg.

21 May 2011

football - round 9

Brisbane Lions        2.3      4.6      7.10    10.13 (73)
North Melbourne     2.1      6.7      8.9      8.11 (59)

Brisbane Lions:
Brown 4, Banfield, Clark, Retzlaff, Power, Redden, Sheldon
North Melbourne: Edwards 3, Thomas 2, Petrie 2, Harvey

Brisbane Lions:
Brown, Adcock, Polkinghorne, Hanley, Banfield
North Melbourne: Rawlings, Swallow, Harvey, Edwards, Petrie

Kennedy, Schmitt, Hay
Official crowd: 18,404 at the Gabba

Finally, a win!  Admittedly, up until the scores were tied in the final quarter, I was not hopeful of a win. The skipper's return had a major impact on the game, with Brown kicking four goals himself.

Match report.

Matthew Leuenberger in the ruck contest (photo: Bradley Kanaris/Slattery Media)

Bryce Retzlaff takes a mark (photo: Bradley Kanaris/Slattery Media)

Jack Redden evading tackles (photo: Bradley Kanaris/Slattery Media)

Joel Patfull handballing (photo: Bradley Kanaris/Slattery Media)

Matt Maguire getting a kick away (photo: Bradley Kanaris/Slattery Media)

20 May 2011

Judgment day or zombie apocalypse? Perhaps both.

According to 'Christian' broadcaster Family Radio, led by Harold Camping and widely reported by media worldwide, Judgment Day (or the 'rapture') will occur on Saturday, 21 May 2011. 5500 billboards announcing the event have appeared worldwide.

Billboard in Brisbane, Australia (photo by Benjamin Nichols submitted to ABC)

See San Francisco Chronicle.

Somewhat coincidentally, on 16 May 2011, the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) published in its blog a guide to the zombie apocalypse. Included in the plan are the following points:
Identify the types of emergencies that are possible in your area. Besides a zombie apocalypse, this may include floods, tornadoes, or earthquakes. If you are unsure contact your local Red Cross chapter for more information. Family members meeting by their mailbox. You should pick two meeting places, one close to your home and one farther away.

Pick a meeting place for your family to regroup in case zombies invade your home…or your town evacuates because of a hurricane. Pick one place right outside your home for sudden emergencies and one place outside of your neighborhood in case you are unable to return home right away.

Identify your emergency contacts. Make a list of local contacts like the police, fire department, and your local zombie response team. Also identify an out-of-state contact that you can call during an emergency to let the rest of your family know you are ok.

Plan your evacuation route. When zombies are hungry they won’t stop until they get food (i.e., brains), which means you need to get out of town fast! Plan where you would go and multiple routes you would take ahead of time so that the flesh eaters don’t have a chance! This is also helpful when natural disasters strike and you have to take shelter fast.
If the prediction of Judgment Day is correct, the righteous ascend to heaven. Given the timing of the CDC's notice, it is likely that the rest of us will be facing a zombie apocalypse, when the non-righteous dead, rise again.

Get A Kit,    Make A Plan, Be Prepared. emergency.cdc.gov

15 May 2011

good evening Düsseldorf

The grand final of the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest was hosted by Germany in Düsseldorf, as last year's winner was the German entry.

While the results are known by morning Australian time, Australia's national and mostly government-funded multilingual and multicultural broadcaster SBS broadcasts the semi-finals and final at peak viewing times in the evenings.

In fact, Eurovision has a very strong and long-time following in Australia, aside from many Australians having migrated from many of the song entrant countries, there is the kitsch value, which resonates well with a broadly Australian sense of humour.

Winners, Ell and Nikki with "Running Scared" for Azerbaijan

Last year's winner Lena, for Germany, with 'Taken By a Stranger'

Moldova may not have won but those hats begged an explanation (photo not from actual final but a dress rehearsal - by Pieter Van den Berghe of EBU)

Photos below from Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) via Deutsche Welle

Sweden's Eric Saade might have been trying to be Popular by channeling the goddess Kali

Denmark's A Friend in London tried to find a New Tomorrow. Why do Danish musicians always sing in English?

Germany's Lena was Taken By a Stranger, it seems they might be extra-terrestrials

14 May 2011

football - round 8

Essendon                 3.2      6.6      10.10  15.12 (102)
Brisbane Lions        3.5      6.7      6.10    9.12 (66)

Zaharakis 4, Crameri 3, Monfries 2, Watson 2, Hille 2, Reimers 2
Brisbane Lions: McGrath 2, Bewick, Clark, Stiller, Drummond, Rich, Adcock, Rockliff.

Zaharakis, Hille, Monfries, Hooker, Myers
Brisbane Lions: Adcock, Rich, Merrett, Leuenberger, Hanley

Michael Hurley replaced in selected side by Travis Colyer, Henry Slattery replaced in selected side by Michael Hibberd
Brisbane Lions: James Polkinghorne (concussion)

Umpires: Ritchie, Stevic, Kamolins
Official crowd: 24,921 at the Gabba

It started off as a close game until half-time, which I didn't mind are both of them are my teams. Essendon are on the way up and Brisbane Lions are still to have a win this season.

Still, there were some good signs from the Lions. Josh Drummond, having returned recently following knee surgery, still kicks with pinpoint accuracy and Daniel Merrett is a great defender.

I should have travelled to Brisbane for this game as there was also an NEAFL game on between Brisbane Lions reserves and Greater Western Sydney Giants, of which I am also a member.

Match report.

David Zaharakis tackled by Sam Sheldon (photo: Chris Hyde/Getty)

Todd Banfield under pressure from Kyle Reimers (photo: Chris Hyde/Getty)

Rohan Bewick taking an awesome mark (screamer) over Dustin Fletcher (photo: Bradley Kanaris/Slattery Media)

Jobe Watson marks over Pearce Hanley (photo: Bradley Kanaris/Slattery Media)

David Hille and Joel Patfull (spoiling) contesting a mark (photo: Bradley Kanaris/Slattery Media)

13 May 2011

More on Vivian Maier

In January, I wrote about Vivian Maier, a prolific photographer from Chicago who was largely unknown until her death when some of her work was discovered.

Mother Jones recently featured some of her work in its May/June 2011 issue, 'The Best Street Photographer You've Never Heard Of' written by Alex Kotlowitz. This sums up her work well
MAIER'S WORK IS PART OF THE decades-old genre of street photography, a field that has included such giants as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Garry Winogrand, and Diane Arbus. (Judging by her collection of books on photography, Maier was likely aware of their work.) These photographers speak to the profoundly democratic impulse to acknowledge that we all have a place—that our stories matter. She took photos of the downtrodden and the well-heeled. She took photos of festive people and people in distress. She took photos of children and the aged. She took photos of whites and blacks (notable, given the times). Her work is marked by serendipity; she appeared to have no agenda, but instead captured what she stumbled upon. Joel Meyerowitz, the co-author of Bystander: A History of Street Photography and a renowned photographer in his own right, says of Maier's images: "They are full of wit and surprise and playful spirit...Her basic decent humanism is evident everywhere in her photographs."
Read more, which includes some stunning photographs.

Photograph by Vivian Maier/John Maloof Collection

Vivian Maier, photographer extraordinaire and chronicler of Chicago history.

10 May 2011

Australian celebrity chef swears that perfectly edible food should not be thrown out

I've previously written (a number of times) about wasting food, including mentioning that for commercial operations like catering and restaurants, there are charities that make good use of unsold or untouched food to help those in need, and that in Australia, OzHarvest is one such charity.  Today, OzHarvest announced a new initiative
OzHarvest, Australia's leading food-rescue charity, today launches REAP, an initiative that brings the food-rescue concept to regional areas around the country. The project, the brainchild of OzHarvest founder and former Local Hero of the year 2010, Ronni Kahn, provides a toolkit for regional communities to carry out the OzHarvest mission themselves; that is, to collect excess food and feed those in need.

REAP launched with a controversial viral ad campaign featuring renowned chef Matt Moran, owner/chef of Sydney and Brisbane's Aria restaurant and also judge on Network Ten's MasterChef.

The controversial viral video, captured on an iPhone, was released onto YouTube and Twitter revealing a very irritated Moran having a heated argument with staff on set while filming a cooking segment.

The unknown staff member throws away a piece of perfectly good-to-eat 'plated-up' chicken only to have a very angry Moran shock viewers by shouting expletives at the staff member for throwing away perfectly edible food.

It is revealed through a second viral video release that this was, in fact, a hoax which brings to light the issue of food wastage in Australia with the message from Moran to think twice about throwing away food. Moran also emphasises that billions of dollars of food is thrown away every year. A community service announcement with REAP's message will also be played on Network Ten during the month of May.

Matt Moran said: 'I was more than happy to be involved in something so controversial if it meant that the message of food waste would be brought to the top of Australians' minds. REAP is a simple concept started by leading food charity OzHarvest, who have already rescued millions of meals from going to waste and who have provided millions of people with fresh food that they normally would not have access to. It's a f***ing great cause!'

The REAP regional toolkit contains a three-step process with four guiding principles for communities in feeding the needy within their own towns. Firstly, identify the need, secondly, source the food and lastly get an esky and go!

Community food rescuers collect the food from the donor, delivering it to the client, who provides the food to the needy. Central to the program's effectiveness is that it is an entirely free service, aligned with the OzHarvest mission. The NSW Premier's Department provided funding to OzHarvest for this project.

Ronni Kahn, CEO and founder of OzHarvest said: 'The issue of feeding those in need goes well beyond the areas we currently service which is Sydney, Canberra, Newcastle, Wollongong and most recently Adelaide. We have been working hard to create ways to help regional areas where our yellow OzHarvest vans just don't have the capability to reach on a day-to-day basis.'

Kahn said: 'REAP provides regional areas with all the necessary tools that they need to rescue food and deliver it to the disadvantaged. On top of that, it also serves to stop good food from ending up as landfill.'
The 'viral' video

The follow-up video

Aside from the gimmicky manner in which this was announced such as prematurely labelling of a 'controversial viral' video (see reporting in Sydney Morning Herald, which played along), this is a great initiative.

See also public relations company Liquid Ideas' news release, which also includes details of 'food facts'.

08 May 2011

Einstein's general theory of relativity and the space-time vortex around the Earth

Scientists have confirmed that Albert Einstein was right. From Stanford University's Stanford Report of 4 May 2011
Stanford and NASA researchers have confirmed two predictions of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity, concluding one of the space agency's longest-running projects.

Known as Gravity Probe B, the experiment used four ultra-precise gyroscopes housed in a satellite to measure two aspects of Einstein's theory about gravity. The first is the geodetic effect, or the warping of space and time around a gravitational body. The second is frame-dragging, which is the amount a spinning object pulls space and time with it as it rotates.

After 52 years of conceiving, building, testing and waiting, the science satellite has determined both effects with unprecedented precision by pointing at a single star, IM Pegasi, while in a polar orbit around Earth. If gravity did not affect space and time, Gravity Probe B's gyroscopes would point in the same direction forever while in orbit.  But in confirmation of Einstein's general theory of relativity, the gyroscopes experienced measurable, minute changes in the direction of their spin as they were pulled by Earth's gravity.

The findings appear online in the journal Physical Review Letters.
Read more.  See also NASA Science News, and reporting from NPR, New York Times, The Guardian and AFP (via The Age).

Now for quantum gravity.

07 May 2011

football - round 7 - QClash 1

Gold Coast:            6.3  10.8  13.13  18.16 (124)
Brisbane Lions:      3.2  6.5    11.7    17.14 (116)

Gold Coast: Krakouer 5, Matera 2, Patrick 2, Lynch 2, Stanley, Shaw, McKenzie, Iles, Harris, Daye, Brennan
Brisbane Lions: McGrath 6, Rich 3, Banfield 2, Clark 2, Polkinghorne, Black, Beams, Adcock

Gold Coast: Brennan, Krakouer, Smith, Rischitelli, Ablett, Harris
Brisbane Lions: Rich, Black, McGrath, Leuenberger, Hanley

INJURIESGold Coast: Gorringe (hamstring)
Brisbane Lions: Raines (concussion)

Umpires: Jennings, Ryan, McInerney
Official crowd: 25,504 at the Gabba

Dubbed the 'QClash' - Q for Queensland for the two teams in the state, the inaugural rivalry game was lost by the Brisbane Lions. Gold Coast Suns led for most of the game until the final quarter when the score was even on two occasions. While a disappointing loss, there were glimmers of hope such as some of Ash McGrath's seemingly impossible goals.

The Australian Football League (AFL) wanted to generate interest in the game and develop a rivalry and have succeeded in doing so. The loss is going to hurt and the Lions would not ever want to lose to the upstarts down the road again if they can help it.

Match report.

Todd Banfield getting a handball away (photo: Jason O'Brien/Slattery Media)

Ash McGrath with a strong mark (photo: Jason O'Brien/Slattery Media)

Joel Patfull getting a kick away before being tackled (photo: Chris Hyde/Getty)

Daniel Rich under siege (photo: Chris Hyde/Getty)

In other news, I did attend a live game this afternoon between the Western Bulldogs and Sydney Swans. While the game was dull, I met the legendary Kevin Sheedy.

UK votes no to change

From the Electoral Commission (UK) news release
First UK-wide referendum in over 35 years delivers a "No" to changing the UK Parliament voting system

07 May 2011

Jenny Watson, the Chief Counting Officer and Chair of the Electoral Commission, the independent elections and referendum watchdog, announced the result of the first UK-wide referendum in over 35 years at 1am today, Saturday 7 May.

In response to the question: "At present, the UK uses the ‘first past the post’ system to elect MPs to the House of Commons. Should the ‘alternative vote’ system be used instead?". The number of votes cast in favour of "Yes" was 6,152,607 and the number of votes cast in favour of "No" was 13,013,123.

For further information including local and regional breakdowns please see the Commission’s results website.

Announcing the result, Chief Counting Officer and Chair of the Electoral Commission Jenny Watson said: " I'd like to thank all the Counting Officers and their staff for their work over the past weeks and months, preparing for the elections and this referendum, staffing polling stations on Thursday and counting the votes."


For more information contact
Office hours: 020 7271 0704
Out of office hours: 07789 920414
Follow the Commission on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ElectoralCommUK  
The people have spoken and the current system in all its simplicity - counting of votes, no preference deals etc - is maintained.  

Patrick Wintour, writing in The Guardian, sums up the political response from the 'defeated'
In a rejection of the Liberal Democrats' 90-year quest for electoral reform and Nick Clegg's supposed big prize of the coalition, the yes camp won only 11 of the 440 voting areas and not a single region in the AV referendum.

Clegg accepted the result without complaint. "When you have such a overwhelmingly clear answer you just have to accept it and move on. This is a bitter blow for all those people who believe in the need for political reform, but the answer is clear and the wider job of the government, and the Liberal Democrats in government will continue, to repair the economy, to restore prosperity and jobs and a sense of optimism in the country. That is the job we started and we will see it though. We will dust ourselves off and move on."

Labour leader Ed Miliband, who also campaigned for a yes vote, said: "I am disappointed, but the people have spoken clearly on this issue, and it is a verdict I accept."
One of the best analysis of the implications is from Jonathan Freedland, also in The Guardian
The immediate impact will be on the coalition. Lib Dems now understand exactly why the Tories were so eager to make that "comprehensive and generous offer" a year ago this weekend. It was not so much a power-sharing arrangement as a blame-taking one: the Lib Dems' role is to be the Conservatives' human shield and on Thursday they played the part perfectly. They took the heat while the Tories remained unscathed, their share of the vote unchanged since 2010, with even some council gains in England. For the senior partner, coalition is working out very nicely.

Conventional wisdom says Clegg will now demand a consolation prize or two, goodies to soothe his battered party and keep it content with coalition. But Cameron has no pressing reason to be emollient. For what leverage does Clegg have? He can't threaten to walk out, knowing that in an early general election only annihilation awaits. The Lib Dems are now hostages in this coalition, chained to the cabinet table, fated merely to hope that something turns up between now and 2015.
It was always a shaky coalition from the beginning. Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats have another four long years in politics.

03 May 2011

Referendum on the voting system for the UK Parliament: not alternative but preferential

On Thursday 5 May 2011, there will be a referendum on the voting system used to elect MPs (members of parliament) to the House of Commons in the United Kingdom.

The referendum will ask eligible British voters to vote yes or no to a proposal. For this referendum, there will be a ballot paper with the question:
At present, the UK uses the ‘first past the post’ system to elect MPs to the House of Commons. Should the ‘alternative vote’ system be used instead?
Put simply, British voters will decide whether to maintain the existing voting system or reform it.

In addition to the official explanation video above, there are a number of other simple video guides about the 'alternative vote' (AV) system.

One with cats (vote meow)

From historian and television presenter Dan Snow

The 'alternative vote' system is very similar to Australia's preferential voting system.

Indeed, the system is already used in the United Kingdom but not currently to elect members to the House of Commons. First past the post is a very simple system to count but is not totally democratic.

If you are a British voter, consider voting Yes.

02 May 2011

Superman, world citizen

In issue #900 of Action Comics published on 27 April 2011, Superman discusses his intention to renounce his American citizenship.

This has generated considerable discussion - see NPR, Reuters, The Weekly Standard, io9, Wired, etc

Associated Press report

Clark Kent may have a fake birth certificate and fake adoption papers arranged by Jonathan and Martha Kent. Surely Clark Kent's real persona Kal-El would not have an equivalent birth certificate from Krypton and then a naturalization certificate and nor would his alter ego Superman.

Questions need to be asked about how Superman, as an alien, became a naturalized US citizen. As a super human of non-Earth origin with special abilities, he must be above politics.

01 May 2011

2011 White House Correspondents' Association dinner

Last year, I wrote about the 2010 White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) dinner. Last year, President Obama's speech was fairly light-hearted. This year, it was still light-hearted but very poignant.

The video of this year's speech is worth watching, if only for the references to Donald Trump (via C-SPAN).

Seth Meyers spoke after Obama (via Politico) and punched even harder.

This is President Obama's third WHCA address and they are improving every year.