29 June 2011

Tennis routines

It's Wimbledon time and Xan Brooks writing in the Guardian has written an excellent article about tennis superstitions
Like Fight Club, it seems that the first rule of tennis superstitions is that you do not talk about tennis superstitions. "I do not have superstitions," snapped Djokovic, the man who won't use the same shower twice and who reputedly fears he can't win Wimbledon unless his poodle, Pierre, is allowed to join him in London. "I have routines. I call them routines."
Read more, particularly about the player who "insists on lining his water bottles up in a row, so that all the labels are pointing in exactly the same direction".

Of course, news about tennis player superstitions isn't new. See BBC (2003) and ABC (2007).

A video from Tennis Warehouse during BNP Paribas Open 2010

25 June 2011

football - round 14

Fremantle           2.5   5.6   10.8     12.16 (88)
Brisbane Lions   4.1   7.5   10.5     10.5  (65)

Fremantle: Pavlich 5, Broughton 2, Hinkley 2, Crowley, Johnson, Lower?
Brisbane Lions:  Brown 2, Rich 2, Retzlaff, Polkinghorne, Karnezis, Bewick, Redden, Rockliff

Pavlich, Broughton, Silvagni, Fyfe, Crowley, Palmer.
Brisbane Lions:  Black, Stiller, Rockliff, Redden, Rich, Leuenberger.

Fremantle: Barlow (general soreness) replaced in selected side by Hayden, Mzungu (calf) replaced in selected side by Hinkley, McPharlin (groin), Sandilands (suspected foot).

Umpires:  Ryan, Pannell, Keating
Official crowd:
30,330 at Patersons Stadium

Again, I wasn't expecting a win so the first quarter results were a pleasant surprise. A fair effort from the guys until the final quarter fade-out.  Match report by Nathan Schmook.

Niall McKeever (photo: Will Russell/Slattery Media)

Rohan Bewick (photo: Will Russell/Slattery Media)

Simon Black (photo: Paul Kane/Getty)

Tom Rockliff (photo: Will Russell/Slattery Media)

Jack Redden (photo: Will Russell/Slattery Media)

24 June 2011

How to ruin a good song

The song Downtown was written by Tony Hatch and first recorded by Petula Clark in 1964. Petula Clark's rendition became a huge hit, particularly in the United States and Australia, where it reached number one in the charts.

Unfortunately, in Australia, the tune will soon be associated with a very annoying television commercial.


20 June 2011

The Doctor's granddaughter

The travelling Time Lord known as The Doctor (first incarnation) had a granddaughter called Susan Foreman (an alias).  In The Dalek Invasion of Earth, set in 2164, The Doctor left Susan on Earth, somewhere in Bedford, so she could lead a 'normal' life.

Strangely, The Doctor in his future incarnations returned to Earth many times, with the third Doctor in exile there for sometime, but never made the effort to return post-2164 to check on her.

Was she actually Gallifreyan?

19 June 2011

Magic remixed

Magic was one of Olivia Newton-John's biggest hits, written by John Farrar. It featured in the film and soundtrack of Xanadu in 1980.

It has been remixed by Dan Murphy and Steve Peach with Olivia Newton-John recording new vocals in conjunction with humanitarian group ‘We’re Australian Creative Collective Inc’ (WACCI) to raise funds for the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre charity. The track is available for sale on itunes http://itunes.com/OliviaMagic.

The video clip involved over 300 volunteer dancers

See also reporting by Ten News

Additional reporting by ABC 7.30 (ACT and Victoria).

18 June 2011

football - round 13

Richmond                2.5      7.9      12.13   18.17  (125)
Brisbane Lions        4.2      7.6       10.9     14.10  (94)

Richmond: Martin 5, Vickery 4, Miller 2, Reiwoldt 2, Grigg, Cotchin, Foley, Deledio, Nahas
Brisbane Lions: Redden 2, Karnezis 2, Brown 2, Clark 2, Banfield 2, Harwood, Bewick, Polkinghorne, Hanley

Richmond: Cotchin, Martin, Vickery, Houli, Rance, Foley
Brisbane Lions: Leuenberger, Redden, Rockliff, Hanley, Banfield

Brisbane Lions: Clark (ankle); Banfield (hamstring)

Jayden Post replaced by Tom Hislop in the third quarter
Brisbane Lions: Mitch Clark replaced by Patrick Karnezis at start of third quarter

Umpires: McBurney, Schmitt, Hay
Official crowd: 21,510 at the Gabba

I hadn't expected a win but the first quarter effort from the Lions leading on the scoreboard set the scene with their gutsy effort. That was before Richmond woke up. Redden was really good and Patrick Karnezis had a good debut with a first goal with his first kick in an AFL game.  Match report by Michael Whiting.

Photos by Bradley Kanaris/Slattery Media

Jack Redden

Mitch Golby

Todd Banfield

17 June 2011

Sagging pants? No fly.

Four years ago, I first wrote about sagging pants and quoted media reporting from The Daily Iberian that the Delcambre in Louisiana would soon outlaw sagging pants. Early last year, I wrote about General Larry Platt's audition on American Idol with a song called Pants on the Ground.  In April last year, I wrote about New York State Senator Eric Adams, who with Fully Persuaded for Children and Families Inc, launched a campaign to encourage young people to raise their pants, with six billboards in Brooklyn.

It seems that saggy pants may have resulted in a passenger being refused passage on an airline.  Reported in San Francisco Chronicle
On Wednesday, San Francisco police got a call about 9 a.m. that someone was exposing himself outside a US Airways gate, Sgt. Michael Rodriguez said.

An airline employee spotted [Deshon Marman, 20, a University of New Mexico football player] before he boarded Flight 488, bound for Albuquerque, and complained that Marman's pants "were below his buttocks but above the knees, and that much of his boxer shorts were exposed," Rodriguez said.

The employee asked Marman to pull up his pants before he boarded the plane, but he refused, Rodriguez said. Marman allegedly repeated his refusal after taking his seat on the plane.

"At that point he was asked to leave the plane," Rodriguez said. "It took 15 to 20 minutes of talking to get him to leave the plane, and he was arrested for trespassing." Marman allegedly resisted officers as he was being led away.
Read more. Marman was actually arrested and taken into custody for one night before being released on bail.  According to further reporting in San Francisco Chronicle, the incident has generated debate about fashion issue and whether Marman had been targeted.  See also report by NPR.

San Francisco Chronicle has also acquired footage of the incident.

The question should be about undergarment exposure. In any other circumstances, would just wearing underwear in public be allowed?  If so, then there is not a problem.  If not, then there lies the issue.  In any case, saggy pants looks ridiculous.

16 June 2011

Apples - British to the core

Horticulturalist Chris Beardshaw presented a one hour program on BBC Four about the apple in British history. He also wrote for BBC News Magazine. Excerpt
Some of the world's best-loved apples, like the Braeburn and the Bramley, were discovered growing as chance seedlings, gifts from nature that just happened to taste good. The Granny Smith was discovered growing out of a rubbish heap in Australia.

So while the apple seeks only to multiply rather than reproduce the same delicious fruits, man had to fathom how to clone it with an ancient process known as grafting, which remains the same to this day. With the discovery of grafting we could clone our favourite apple trees again and again.

The Bramley, one of Britain's most prosperous and time-honoured apples, was planted 200 years ago in Nottinghamshire. That first tree was grown from a pip by a young woman, Mary Ann Brailsford, between 1809 and 1815. Since then every single Bramley apple ever eaten and tree planted has originated from it. That's a lot, with the Bramley apple industry is worth £50m today.

The pip most probably came from an apple on a tree at the bottom of her garden. The seedling produced such fine apples that in 1837 a local nurseryman asked the next occupier of the house, Matthew Bramley, for his permission to graft scions from the tree. Bramley agreed as long as the apples bore his name. Ms Brailsford never knew the fame her apples achieved.
Read more.

The Granny Smith can be a rather tart apple but is still very popular in Australia. Other varieties such as Gala and Pink Lady are becoming more popular ahead of Red Delicious.

As much as apples are "British to the core", even the United States has its own Johnny Appleseed legend and apples in the form of apple pie are American as.

14 June 2011

Airbus 2050 - the future of flying

Airbus has revealed its concept plane of the future. Press release below
Airbus presents a panoramic view of 2050

Intelligent cabin interiors replace class system for a bespoke flying experience
14 June 2011 Press Release
Leading aircraft manufacturer Airbus, in advance of the Paris Airshow “Le Bourget”, today invited the passengers of 2050 to discover its Concept Cabin - a whole new flying experience inspired by nature.

Personalised zones replace traditional cabin classes to offer tailored levels of experience. While taking a hop between destinations, according to Airbus, passengers in 2050 could join an interactive conference; enjoy a game of virtual golf; read the kids back home a bedtime story; and recharge in a ‘vitalising seat’ whilst watching the planet spread out beneath their feet.

This latest instalment of The Future by Airbus – a vision of aviation in 2050 – follows last year’s unveiling of the revolutionary Airbus Concept Plane, packed with technologies to reduce fuel burn, emissions, waste and noise. The Airbus Concept Cabin now gives further insight into some of the innovations and technologies that will shape future passenger experiences on board.

The aircraft’s bionic structure mimics the efficiency of bird bone which is optimised to provide strength where needed, and allows for an intelligent cabin wall membrane which controls air temperature and can become transparent to give passengers open panoramic views.

The Concept Cabin has an integrated ‘neural network’ creating an intelligent interface between passenger and plane. It can identify and respond to passenger needs and enables bespoke features such as morphing seats which change to your body shape.

New personalised zones replace the traditional cabin classes in the Airbus Concept Cabin to offer new tailored levels of experience. The “vitalising zone” is all about wellbeing and relaxation allowing you to proactively recharge your batteries with vitamin and antioxidant enriched air, mood lighting, aromatherapy and acupressure treatments whilst taking in the infinite view of the world around you.

There are no limits to the kinds of social scenarios in the centre zone of the concept cabin – the “interactive zone”. The virtual pop up projections in this area can transform you to whichever social scene you want to be in, from holographic gaming to virtual changing rooms for active shoppers.

The “smart tech zone” is tailored towards the more functional oriented passenger with a chameleon style offering, to meet individual needs ranging from a simple to a complete luxury service, but all allowing you to continue life as if on the ground. By offering different levels of experience within each zone, airlines would be able to achieve price differentials and give more people access to the benefits of air travel with minimal environmental impact.

Showcasing the innovative interior design, Charles Champion, Airbus Executive Vice President Engineering, said: “Our research shows that passengers of 2050 will expect a seamless travel experience while also caring for the environment. The Airbus Concept Cabin is designed with that in mind, and shows that the journey can be as much a voyage of discovery as the destination. Whichever flight experience is chosen, the passenger of 2050 will step out of the Airbus Concept Cabin feeling revitalised and enriched.”

More than 90 percent of Airbus’ annual research & development investment of over €2 billion has environmental benefits for current and future aircraft. For example, due to advances in technologies the concept cabin will be 100% recyclable. It will have self-cleaning materials made from sustainable plant fibres which reduce waste and maintenance and will harvest passenger body heat to power cabin features.

Such technologies are already being developed and, while they may not be seen in the exact same manner as in the Airbus Concept Plane and Cabin, some of them could feature in future Airbus aircraft programmes.

Visitors to Le Bourget International Airshow in Paris will also be able to experience the Airbus’ Future of Flight film, a 360 planetarium movie – a vision of the transformations in air transport between now and the middle of the century which not only focuses on aircraft designs and innovations, but also addresses passenger expectations. The movie will be part of the planetarium’s programme at the Musee de l’Air et de l’Espace from 20 – 26 June.
To find out more about the Airbus Concept Cabin and The Future by Airbus visit: www.thefuturebyairbus.com
Also some video reporting

Aviation Week

ITN News

UK Telegraph

The transparent membrane is perhaps the most interesting. From www.thefuturebyairbus.com
The cabin's bionic structure will be coated with a biopolymer membrane, which controls the amount of natural light, humidity and temperature, providing opacity or transparency on command and eliminating the need for windows. This smarter structure will make the aircraft lighter and more fuel-efficient while giving passengers 360 degree views of the skies. This will offer unparalleled, unobstructed views of the wonders of the five continents - where you will be able see the pyramids or the Eiffel Tower through the transparent floor of the aircraft.
Just like Wonder Woman's invisible plane. Not for the faint-hearted or those with a fear of heights.

13 June 2011

The first journey of the TARDIS (from Earth, with passengers)

The TARDIS has been journeying since 1963.
Fearing that his time machine will be discovered if he lets school teachers Barbara and Ian go, the Doctor sets the TARDIS on its first journey. When the TARDIS finally materialises, it is on a barren, rocky landscape, with an ominous shadow falling across it. Classic clip from the 1963 four-part story 'An Unearthly Child', the very first Doctor Who story starring William Hartnell as the Doctor. Watch more videos on the new Classic Doctor Who YouTube channel here: http://www.youtube.com/bbcclassicdoctorwho and get the latest Classic Doctor Who news at http://www.twitter.com/classicdw

Shown on Top Gear, the way the TARDIS now travels is a little more colourful

12 June 2011

football - round 12

Carlton                      4.4   8.8    14.9   19.10 (124)

Brisbane Lions          2.3   3.5    4.8      9.9 (63)

 - Carlton:  Walker 5, Betts 3, Ellard 2, Garlett 2, Hampson 2, Murphy 2, Carrazzo, Russell, Garlett, Henderson, Tuohy

Brisbane Lions:  Brown 2, Clark 2, McGrath 2, Rich, Black, Collier

Carlton: Simpson, Judd, Murphy, Scotland, Walker, Tuohy

Brisbane Lions: Redden, Rockliff, Black, Clark

Margetts, Kennedy, Ryan

Official crowd:
43,617 at Etihad Stadium

There was almost no chance of winning this game. It was also rather painful to watch, even on television. I can be thankful not to have made the trip to Melbourne for this game. Match report.

Cheynee Stiller (photo: Andrew White/Slattery Media)

Simon Black (photo: Hamish Blair/Getty)

Tom Rockliff (photo: Hamish Blair/Getty)

Todd Banfield (photo: Greg Ford/Slattery Media)

Ash McGrath (photo: Greg Ford/Slattery Media)

11 June 2011

Bovine beauty "a perfect Holstein"

In April, I wrote about Luna the jumping cow. Again from Germany is a story of another cow, Krista, who was recently named Germany's prettiest cow. Reporting in Der Spiegel, excerpt
Forget Germany's Next Top Model and Heidi Klum. This week, the German gaze was trained on the country's most beautiful cow. "Krista" became the envy of bovine beauty queens across the land when she won the grand prize at the 2011 German Holstein Show, her second time to take the pageant's top honor.

Krista successfully defended her 2009 title against a field of much heavier competition than that faced by most other beauty contestants. Of some two million hopeful dairy dames, just over 200 were chosen to lock horns over the grand prize, which comes complete with a trophy and cow-sized sash. Eight finalists strutted their stuff for a panel of jurors in the northern German city of Oldenburg on Thursday night. But it was Krista, described by juror Matthias Zens as "a perfect Holstein," who won over the jury with her professional demeanor and pleasing physique.
Krista is indeed a bovine beauty.

(photo by dpa via Der Spiegel)

See also original reporting by Der Spiegel auf Deutsch.


06 June 2011

Dolphin gang murdering porpoises

Marine Mammal Science (DOI: 10.1111/j.1748-7692.2011.00474.x) has reported that a gang of dolphins were witnessed killing porpoises. Abstract
“Porpicide” in California: Killing of harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) by coastal bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus)
Mark P. Cotter, Daniela Maldini, Thomas A. Jefferson
Article first published online: 2 MAY 2011, Society for Marine Mammalogy

Between 2007 and 2009, we witnessed three aggressive interactions between harbor porpoises and bottlenose dolphins in Monterey Bay, California. This is the first time such aggression has been documented in the Pacific, and the first time a harbor porpoise was collected immediately after witnessing its death, inflicted by bottlenose dolphins. Of the bottlenose dolphins present, 92% were males either confirmed (61%) or putative (31%). Since 2005, 44 harbor porpoise deaths inflicted by bottlenose dolphins were documented in California. Aberrant behavior was rejected as a cause of aggression, based on widespread documentation of similar behaviors in other populations of free-ranging bottlenose dolphins. The evidence for interspecies territoriality as a form of competition for prey was weak: there is little dietary overlap and there are differences in bottlenose dolphin and harbor porpoise distribution patterns in California. Object-oriented play was plausible as a form of practice to maintain intraspecific infanticidal skills or a form of play to maintain fighting skills between male associates. Contributing factors could be high-testosterone levels, as attacks occurred at the height of the breeding season, and/or a skewed operational sex ratio. Ultimately, we need more information about bottlenose dolphin social structure at the time of the aggression.
Contributing factors as cited might be speculative, hence the need for further study.  Dolphin therapy might be another option.

See also reporting by New Scientist and io9.

05 June 2011

"Plebes no more"

The Herndon Climb is a long-standing tradition of the US Naval Academy. Before a freshmen class (called plebes) advances to the next class, they undertake the challenge of climbing the Herndon Monument, to replace a plebe's hat (called a dixie cup) with a midshipman's hat. From USNA FAQ
The Herndon Monument climb is a tradition for former plebes, and is also known as the "Plebe Recognition Ceremony." After the graduation ceremony where the plebes are promoted to Third Class rank, the 21 foot Herndon monument is coated in lard and one of the white plebe "dixie cup" hats is placed at the top. The former plebes must work together to climb this monument and replace the "dixie cup" hat with an upperclassmen's hat. Tradition states that the plebe who reaches the top will rise to the rank of admiral first. As any observer can recognize, climbing to the top of Herndon takes a lot of teamwork and perseverance. Ascending Herndon serves as a review for young midshipmen, reminding them of the values of teamwork, courage and discipline that are instilled throughout the year. The fastest time ever recorded for a midshipmen class to accomplish this goal was 1 minute and 30 seconds in 1969. The slowest time was 4 hours, 5 minutes, and 17 seconds in 1995.
Last year's climb was not greased, as a safety precaution. A new superintendent this year, allowed the grease to return.

See report by ABC2 Baltimore

See also reporting in The Capital (Annapolis).

(photo from Kill Your Time)

(photo by Getty via RTE)

Excellent amateur footage via YouTube showing that the t-shirts are used to wipe off the lard

Despite many years of tradition, each new class still seems to use the same strategy.

04 June 2011

football - round 11

Sydney Swans     6.7  13.8   15.9   17.14 (116)
Brisbane Lions   1.0   2.2     5.8     7.9 (51)

Sydney Swans: Roberts-Thomson 3, Goodes 2, Mattiner 2, McGlynn 2, Seaby, Dennis-Lane, Reid, Johnson, O'Keefe, McVeigh, Kennedy, Bird
Brisbane Lions: Retzlaff 2, Banfield 2, Clark, Black, Brown

Sydney Swans: Goodes, Bolton, Mattiner, O'Keefe, Malceski, McVeigh, Roberts-Thomson
Brisbane Lions: Leuenberger, Redden


Brisbane Lions: Rohan Bewick replaced by Jesse O'Brien in the third quarter
Sydney Swans:  Trent Dennis-Lane replaced by Andrejs Everitt in the last quarter.

Umpires: Nicholls, Kamolins, Findlay
Official crowd: 22,150 at the Gabba

Thrashed best describes the game and the result. Match report.

Daniel Merrett in a tight spot (photo: Bradley Kanaris/Slattery Media)

Jack Redden (photo: Chris Hyde/Getty)

Brye Retzlaff (photo: Chris Hyde/Getty)

Joel Patfull (photo: Chris Hyde/Getty)

Pearce Hanley (photo: Chris Hyde/Getty)

Green Lantern

Full trailer, with a good summary of the backstory

02 June 2011

The penguin huddle. How to stay warm, along with a wave.

The Public Library of Science's international, peer-reviewed, open-access, online publication PLoS ONE has reported that Emperor penguins behave collectively to stay warm.  In a huddle. Abstract
Daniel P. Zitterbart1,2*, Barbara Wienecke3, James P. Butler4,5, Ben Fabry1
1 Department of Physics, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Erlangen, Germany, 2 Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), Bremerhaven, Germany, 3 Australian Antarctic Division, Kingston, Australia, 4 Molecular Integrative Physiological Sciences Program, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America, 5 Division of Sleep Medicine, Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America

For Emperor penguins (Aptenodytes forsteri), huddling is the key to survival during the Antarctic winter. Penguins in a huddle are packed so tightly that individual movements become impossible, reminiscent of a jamming transition in compacted colloids. It is crucial, however, that the huddle structure is continuously reorganized to give each penguin a chance to spend sufficient time inside the huddle, compared with time spent on the periphery. Here we show that Emperor penguins move collectively in a highly coordinated manner to ensure mobility while at the same time keeping the huddle packed. Every 30–60 seconds, all penguins make small steps that travel as a wave through the entire huddle. Over time, these small movements lead to large-scale reorganization of the huddle. Our data show that the dynamics of penguin huddling is governed by intermittency and approach to kinetic arrest in striking analogy with inert non-equilibrium systems, including soft glasses and colloids.

Editor: Matjaz Perc, University of Maribor, Slovenia
Received: March 22, 2011; Accepted: April 21, 2011; Published: June 1, 2011
Zitterbart DP, Wienecke B, Butler JP, Fabry B, 2011 Coordinated Movements Prevent Jamming in an Emperor Penguin Huddle. PLoS ONE 6(6):e20260.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0020260
There is an art, or rather a science, to keeping warm in a huddle. The more the merrier.

See also BBC News report (with an excellent time-lapse video)