Monday, July 29, 2013

Decisions ...

Reports today suggest that brilliant English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author Stephen Hawking was so ill with pneumonia (contracted during a visit to CERN) in 1985 while writing his Brief History of Time that doctors offered to turn off his life support system. His then wife, Jane, refused and Hawking, who has a motor neurone disease which has progressed over the years to leave him almost entirely paralyzed, recovered but not without being given a tracheotomy which removed what remained of his speech. He had previously used partner-assisted scanning to communicate but at about this time he was given a computer program called "The Equallizer" from Walt Woltosz - allowing him, unassisted, to select between nearly 3,000 letter/word options.  One of his nursing staff (he required full-time care after the life-threatening pneumonia), Elaine*, had a husband who was a computer engineer and he rigged a portable computer to go on Mr Hawking's wheelchair ... giving him the true power of speech.  One of the first things he did with his new computer-generated voice (with an American accent which he has kept unchanged) was to ask his assistant to help him finish Brief History.  And the rest is ... History was finished and for a work that set out to be a popular book which "would make the universe accessible to the general public" - it was ... staying on the best-seller list for over 4 years (237 weeks) and making Stephen Hawking a household name. 

* Elaine subsequently left David and married Mr Hawking in 1995, but they have since divorced.

Say what?

Is it just me or does this seem counter-productive?  One of the suggestions received for possible inclusion in the "Queensland Plan" (the 30-year look ahead being pioneered by the current Queensland Government and seeking public input) is ... compulsory (my emphasis) volunteering.  It seems that these notions may not even belong in the same sentence!  Compulsory = required by rule;  Volunteer = agree freely.  It will be interesting to see if this and other ideas championed in the plan get any traction.  And, come to think of it, did anything ever come out of that Summit organized by the Labor Government just after it came to power back in '07? I can't remember the details now but they were looking at a way to improve Australia in the coming decades and enlisted the input of hundreds of Australians, mostly leaders in their fields.  Hmmmm ... might have to go and have a look.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Look ... there on the horizon ...'s an Election! I saw this in today's The Courier Mail and was immediately stuck by that this must be advertising the Labor Party's "new" asylum solution for the benefit of the voting public ... unless there are potential asylum seekers who are subscribing to The Courier Mail. I'm interested to know what other press the ad has appeared in ... and how much government money is being spent on internal (to Australia) advertising ... and whether it appears in the electronic versions of publications as well. Doubtless the Government has a good reason for doing this advertising ... besides electioneering ... but I have to wonder, too, how long this has been in the pipeline given it was only announced last week by K Rudd, less than a month after he took over the leadership of the ALP again. Whoever it was that said the wheels of government move slowly hadn't reckoned on this lot!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A suitable tribute?

Being a tribute band! How cool would that be? How would you decide who to emulate? I was wondering about this and related questions while I watched AbbaLive tonight. Do you need a physical appearance similar to the star? I have a friend who looked, at one stage, a little like John Denver (was I the only one who saw that?) and I think I looked like Elton John once too.  Is that enough for the kernel of an idea for a tribute show? The two Johns! Although we might need a better title or name change here in Australia because of the "John" thing.  And, as someone has now suggested, an ability to sing would be a bonus! Does this mean lip-syncing is not allowed? 


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Time to grieve

I saw this on FaceBook today and thought it was actually quite helpful in trying to understand people coming to terms with the human condition.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

No ... not Zombies again

For those who enjoyed 28 Days Later - well, "enjoyed" may not be exactly the word for a movie showing modern-day England overtaken by Zombie ... but it wasn't bad, and certainly was much better than some thought it would be ... do not even be part-way tempted to watch 28 Weeks Later. I had put it off and put if off and put it off for a good couple of years, but finally, I have succumbed ... and am sorry that I did. I'm not sure if it's the same production team responsible for the film as the first one, but this one was blood-thirsty, gory, and seemed to be conveying one message ... beware spoiler follows ... it was all the children's fault ... the re-contamination of Britian, and, when they escape by helicopter over the White Cliffs of Dover, the contamination of France and, one would think, the rest of the world. And if they come up with anything even faintly resembling 28 xxxx later, be afraid ... very afraid.