Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Readers Digest

I noticed a magazine called "Waiting Room" in a doctor's surgery the other day but wasn't adventurous enough to check out how old they were. No such problem this evening in checking out the newly arrived Reader's Digest magazines that have appeared in the lounge at the hospital where we've been visiting a mate - the dates were, in order, July 1994, March 1999, April 2000 and October 2001.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Greatest gift

We had just arrived at my partner's brother's place after a 10-hour drive (and a 4.30am departure) when they suggested perhaps we would like a nap after our journey. We could have kissed them with gratitude - and for keeping the children "on hold" until we surfaced, fresh and ready to face the world, 90 minutes later. This is the nicest present we have received in a very long time.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Lost brothers

I was surprised the other day to find out that D, who I have known for many many years, had not realized that I have two brothers not one. Not quite sure how that could have happened because you'd think that would be something that came up in conversation from time to time. So imagine how I felt when talking with a friend of many many many years standing when she mentioned that both her brothers were coming to her for Christmas lunch. "Both?" I blurted - thereby signalling quite well that brother #2 had escaped my attention! Almost makes me want to do a random poll to see who else out there is hiding siblings.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Shoes and socks

I admit it. I am one of the people who has visited a website where shoes are thrown at a facsimile of George Bush. I didn't know what it was until the site opened (the link was sent to me by a trusted friend) and I was surprised that once there, the visitor's role was not to throw the shoes but to move President Bush across the screen as the shoes are tossed at him. Each time a shoe hits Bush, you lose one of your four lives - and your efforts are timed. All sounds innocent enough but from the way the game is scored, and I realize I might have misunderstood the purpose of the game, it seems you get a higher ranking the faster you get him hit. This is really quite hard and counterintuitive as you would see if you visited the site. There is also a similar shoe-tossing site which has reportedly had almost 1.5 million visitors - where you do get to do the shoe-throwing - and which has the ranking of the Top 25 Bush-Shoeing countries. The top 3, when I was there a few minutes ago, are the US, France and ... Australia.

Ante up

Why can't real life be like television If it were, some maths whiz (or is that wiz - as in short for wizard) could do a "Numbers" and work out where the next ATM "bam raid" Is most likely to take place - and be in the running for the $100,000 reward. Or, given how little some of the raids have reportedly netted, it would make sense for one/some/all of the gang members to find themselves a patsy, set them up, point the police to the time and place, and claim the reward themselves. Of course that could blow up in their faces too but it would seem safer than pumping a volatile gas into a big metal box (aka ATM) and blowing it up.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Taking the fun out of Facebook

Carmela Rita Corbo and Gordon Kingsley Maxwell Poyser have reportedly revised their Facebook status - with one dropping their profile and the other updating their account to keep the public out according to The Daily Telegraph. This follows them being served legally-binding documents via their Facebook accounts as ordered by Australia's Supreme Court. This could signal the end of Facebook's fun run as a social networking site - and makes it 12th time lucky for those trying to serve the documents to the couple who have reportedly defaulted on a $154,000 loan.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Curtain call

German actor Daniel Haoevels may not have been from the "realism" school of acting previously, but he has now been "initiated". According to the University of Southern Queensland:
Realism was a style of theatre established before the turn of the 20th Century that attempted to put the theory of naturalism into practice. It looked at putting 'a slice of life' onstage and also creating verisimilitude, that is, an overall harmony among all elements of the production. Realism focuses upon method acting, which means the actors became the characters, and creating a piece of theatre that rings true of life itself, whereas Brechtian acting demands a distinct detachment between the actor and the character.
"Slice of life" is right - given that Daniel slumped to the stage after cutting his throat with a fake blade - but this wasn't exceptional acting - it was more because what he actually slit his throat with was a real knife. Investigations are continuing as to how this could have happened; was it foul play by another who wanted to "stab him in the back" so-to-speak - or an accident - that the props were switched? Daniel survived the attack.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Phone tag

Macquarie Bank has started laying off workers with the tap on the shoulder saying "you're out" coming via a phone call. Word around the bank is that people have stopped answering their phones.

Jesus saved

Not sure if it's the same one I blogged about last December 26 but in Florida recently a Baby Jesus stolen from a Nativity scene was recovered when local law enforcement officers tracked the GPS device mounted inside the statue. Last year's blog told of a New Baby Jesus being fitted with a GPS after the previous Baby Jess was stolen, despite having been bolted down. An 18 year old woman has been arrested for the latest theft. Probably not surprisingly, reports suggest that a slew of US churches and synagogues are now taking up a security firm's offer of a free GPS to keep their Saviours safe.

Keep your shirt on

Here in Australia we say "keep your shirt on" - usually in a slightly impatient tone - when people are trying to rush us for no apparently good reason - often in traffic. But perhaps this could be seen as more literal advice for some drivers in the US and Australia after last month (it's taken me this long to remember it and look up the details). Police attending an accident where a car had rolled at Hastings, Vic, found the driver and passenger were naked. It didn't say if they were wearing seatbelts. The names of the 18 year old female driver and her fatally injured, naked 19 year old male passenger were not released. There were reportedly no suspicious circumstances.
Meanwhile, in California a couple of days earlier police had apprehended a drink-driving suspect after his van hit a car. It was only after tasering him (can "taser" be a verb and is it safe to hit someone in control of a motor vehicle with driver with a Taser - and was the vehicle moving at the time - and if it wasn't, why did they have to Taser him?) that they discovered he was driving his car "completely" naked. Given these reports were truly within a couple of days of each other, does this mean some kind of global naked driving ritual has been uncovered? And if so, is it something that happens all the time - or just for special occasions?


In the midst of all the doom and gloom of the world financial meltdown/crisis comes some lighter, brighter news. There's a new website - - which looks at spreading positive news about business and people to help counter the bad news stories currently overloading the media. If you join the site, as well as being able to make a positive contribution, word is you can also have access to some discount offers.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Safety first

In a story reminiscent of the official who gallantly drank water from the Seine to prove it was safe and potable - and died a few days later from drinking the water - comes news of a police chief is southwestern Ohio who shot himself in the thigh after giving his daughter a lesson in gun safety. Names are missing for both victims - which is surprising given the amount of time I've just spent on the net looking for the Parisian event details - if you know, please pass it on.

People's Court

How much information from criminal cases should be made available to the general public - and at what point of the proceedings? A recent story from the US tells of details of a case in progress being posted to their Facebook account by one of the jurors - who was asking visitors to "vote" on whether they thought the accused was guilty or innocent because they were undecided. The court was alerted and the juror removed from the case.
Closer to home, here in Australia, supporters of Gordon Woods are planning to post details of his case on the Internet so people can make up their own minds as to whether Woods really is guilty - as found by the jury.

Snap shot

... or let he who is without sin cast the first (st)one. Golfer John "Wild Thing" Daly caused a bit of a ruckus today when he smashed a fan's camera against a tree during the Australian Open. The fan was understandably upset and contends he did nothing wrong - and that he did not provoke Daly by taking a quite close-up photograph of him, apparently with flash, as he left the course to retrieve a ball. Golf Australia, organizers if the tournament, are taking Daly's side, saying his "brain snap" because his eyes were stinging from the flash, would not have happened if the fan had followed the rules and obeyed the NO CAMERAS / PHONES edict. Hard to know where the fault lies really, isn't it?

Time after time

2008 has seemed like an interminably long year probably because it was a leap year (remember that?) - and it's not over yet. Official timekeepers are going to add yet more time - a leap second - onto 31 December to compensate for the Earth's rotation slowing - just a little, but enough to open the possibility of the "atomic clock" and other/real time falling out of kilter. It's just as well that the Boxing Day release of movie re-make "The Day The Earth Stood Still" is not based on a true story otherwise it would be hard to know where we stand.

Games people play

I am very much enjoying WordFreak Free from the Apple App Store where the player needs to deduce a five-letter word (all letters different). You get the starting letter and then try to work out which letter goes where by guessing five letter words: red means the letter is in the right place, yellow means the letter is in the word but currently in the wrong place. Hours of fun - as evidenced by the high scores on the game's website.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Same old song

... well- not really. Auckland City Council has introduced new rules for Buskers. They must have an annual licence but it's free as long as they adhere to the new Code of Conduct - a key feature of which is that their repertoire must have sufficient material for them to perform for at least an hour without repetition. Maybe they do it differently there - or maybe it's to protect people who live and work in close proximity to their "spots" - but the trick with busking seems to be to set up in high volume traffic areas - with (lots) of passing people traffic - preferably with small-ish change burning a hole in their pockets - and who are long gone before you're back to the start on your three-song-cycle (again).

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Tech wars

Following the recent militant attacks in Mumbai, and apparent surprise that the terrorists had used mobile phone technology - I think I read somewhere that they used Blackberrys - today's news from Wired that the US military are working on a missile that would "fry" electronic gadgets comes as little surprise. What will be very interesting is how they will take out only the devices of "non-friendlys" as they target gadgets used for "military, industrial, civil and asymmetrical" purposes.The differentiation is important, of course, because gadgets like mobile phones and Blackberrys allowed civilians caught up in the Mumbai attacks to get real-time information to help them stay out of harm's way.

Drawing the line

Some time ago on this blog I pondered whether a photo of two folk made from Lego and being "intimate" constituted pornography (and if I didn't, I meant to). According to news report today, a ruling on a similar but cartoon depiction has been made in the NSW Supreme Court where a man has been found guilty of child pornography after an animation depicting characters from the Simpsons was found on his computer. The reports suggest Bart, Lisa and Maggie were engaged in sexual acts but there was also reference to a mother (Marge?). Alan John McEwan was fined and entered into a two-year good behaviour bond - and told that, had the images portrayed "real" children, he would have bren jailed. MobileMetro reports McEwan had argued that cartoon characters were not people but was told by judge Justice Michael Adams that the law was in place to deter the production of cartoons that could "fuel demand for material that does involve the abuse of children".

Monday, December 08, 2008

Have hammer ...

If you have an hour or so to spare and want to experience what it was like in the "good old days" when radio ruled the earth, go online and secure a copy of Escape's Earth Abides - a dramatization of George R. Stewart's novel about post-apocalyptic Earth. The hero of the narrative is Isherwood, an ecologist, and he and others he joins with along the way forge a way to the future with Ish's hammer as their guide.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

D'oh to Bold move

In a move that has angered some, including mothers who think the timeslot inappropriate, a local Sydney television station has replaced its 6pm re-runs of "The Simpsons" with "The Bold and the Beautiful". I was quietly confident that this move would be met with stony silence and viewers staying away in droves - leading to a station re-think - but not to be. The bold Bold move has resulted in increased ratings for the soap - 20% higher than usual - due it seems to "working professionals" being able to watch in real time rather than having to timeshift by taping it for later viewing. So with figures like this, chances are those yellow people will not soon be moved back into the 6pm timeslot ... providing yet another reason to attach a DVD player to the television!

Original Gizmo

If you're a big fan of Gizmo - the animatronic puppet used in Gremlins - or of the Luke Skywalker light sabre - they're among the memorabilia you can take home - for a price - from the Profiles in History auction next week (11 December). Other goodies on offer: C-3PO's face, hands; the original Jor-El Tunic worn by Marlon Brandon in Superman The Movie; and Indiana Jones' hat and whip from the Temple of Doom. Me for mine - I want the 82-inch (7 ft; 2+m) flying saucer from Forbidden Planet.

Late note

Yahoo US News reports that if you're delayed on the New York City subway, you can get a "late note" for your boss or teacher if you're a student. It takes a while for the note to be sent - but at least it's some acknowledgement of the disruption to your life because of disrupted rail services. Chances are that a similar system will not be introduced here in NSW ... there are enough disruptions that the powers that be who run the rail system could go broke. Okay, that might be a little harsh but it really can be a problem - and that's not even touching on the overcrowding and general timetabling issues!

Question of colour

Whenever people tell me they've bought a new car, I ask them what colour. There has long been anecdotal evidence that lighter coloured cars are safer - and we can now all breathe easier because a study by NRMA Insurance here in Australia has confirmed this - with light or brightly coloured cars about 10% less likely to be involved in crashes at dusk, or dawn, or other times when visibility is low. The safest car colours are white, yellow, cream, beige and red. Not so good in low light situations - green, black, blue and silver. As reported in The Daily Telegraph, the study also found there was a correlation between car colour and the severity of accidents - with the average cost of repair for lighter coloured cars being less than for darker coloured cars. But alas, Adam Macbeth, NRMA spokesperson, is reported as saying that colour is not usually a factor considered when people purchase a vehicle - 9% of NSW buyers considered the colour and look of the car the most important feature.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Under the sun

The BBC News recently carried a story about Santa Coloma de Gramanet in Spain which is installing solar panels at its main cemetery in a move to generate power for homes. While the scheme, first proposed a few years ago, met with some opposition from families of local residents, it has proceeded with the panels installed, unobtrusively, atop masoleums in the cemetery. The panels currently cover about 5% of the cemetery's area, but there are plans to install more. The cemetery's solar park is currenlty the largest of the city's five solar parks, with the others mostly atop buildings.

Positions vacant (for a reason)

Next time you're thinking about possible job outlets, you could spare a thought for these two (now missed) opportunities - neither of which appeals to me:
* Taser (electric shock delivery) test subject
* First taster for for the NASA $US154 million water recycling system which is designed to convert sweat, moisture and urine into potable (drinkable) liquid. (Which reminds me of the slogan for the original Aliens movie: In space, no-one can hear you scream! - or something like that)

Black Friday

Here in Australia (and possibly other parts of the world) Black Friday is when the 13th of the month falls on a Friday. Imagine my confusion then when earlier this month I kept reading about the upcoming Black Friday in the US. Last I heard they were working on the same calendar as us, even if they are a day behind. A quick look on fount of (all) knowledge Wikipedia suggested Black Friday was actually the Friday after Thanksgiving, so called because it was seen as the start of the Xmas shopping season and the start of retailers profitable or "being in the black" period. Black Friday is also said to have been so named following the first recognition of the super sales day in Philidelphia where record numbers of vacationing bargain-hunters blocked roads and caused enormous gridlocks - "Black Friday". But regardless of the origin of the nomenclature, Black Friday lived up to its name this year with one 34-year-old Wal-Mart employee in New York trampled to death trying to hold back a horde of eager shoppers; and two men killed when they shot each other in a crowded Toys-R-Us store reportedly after their women folk started arguing.