Hello Cruel World
Monday, October 27, 2003
Strange Effects of the Earth's Revolution
Because "Matrix Revolutions" is having a global release fairly much at the same instant, apparently the Australian release will be at 1am on November 6th (Thursday week). Bleah.

Something similar happened with the latest "Harry Potter" book. There was an embargo on opening the cardboard boxes with them inside until a particular global instant. Some children were all dressed up & attending events at bookshops at some quite peculiar times. It did make it quite a special event for them, I suppose.

But it's become something of a badge of pride amongst Australians that to see various world events we have to be up at all hours, and organise ourselves around them. It was quite a shock during the 2000 Sydney Olympics to have things happening during 'normal' times of day.

The bit that has me rather puzzled is there being an "Australian Premiere" on the Sunday afternoon before (November 2nd). So, why the big fuss about everything being simultaneous a few days after? Why not have the openings rolling around the world with the terminator, like that Millennium dawn celebration they did (somewhat prematurely) at the start of 2000?

... and also related to time zones - both natural & as altered by society
Saturday, October 25, 2003
Spring Forward - Fall Back
Clocks go back one hour tonight in the UK, from BST (GMT+1) to GMT. So that's it for another summer!

La! And we are just 'springing forward' into our daylight saving. Hmmm ... does this mean Australia is closer, temporally speaking, to the UK or further away?
We now have Eastern Summer Time in NSW, Victoria, Tasmania & ACT; Eastern Standard Time in Queensland; Central Summer Time in South Australia; Australian Central Time in the Northern Territory; and Western Standard Time in Western Australia. That's 5 instead of the usual 3 zones.
Our national broadcaster, Radio National - part of the ABC - now has to do some very complex things to keep its programs going out over the whole continent.
comment link to Bill Cameron comment
Sunday, October 26, 2003
Breakfast from Hell - the worst breakfast ever.

and continuing on the food track ... Kid Cuisine TV Dinners (Fat, Lard, Brownies, and a Cartoon Duck).

www.x-entertainment.com/messages/583.html Sweet Nostalgia (Americans call all sweets 'candy', not just things made from hard candied sugar).
Saturday, October 25, 2003
Links from a Friend
Please Become More Selfish
By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist

(This link is mentioned in the column above Anyone But Bush by William Rivers Pitt (truthout))

Thursday, October 23, 2003
Erich Kästner, writer
Erich Kastner at the Looniverse

To establish the proper atmosphere, this is as good a place as any to show a sample of the bill you got for having your husband killed by the Nazis for political, or any, reasons.
Hangman's Bill
Hangman's Bill
Yes, you were supposed to pay for the execution (or else...) It comes to a total of what now must be well over $6000. They even charged you 12 cents for the stamp to send you the bill.
A Sample of Erich Kastner's Poetry
Kennst du das Land, wo die Kanonen blühen?
Du kennst es nicht? Du wirst es kennenlernen!

Do you know the country where the cannons bloom?
You do not know it? You will get to know it!

[Mein Gott! I actually know the poem this is based on - I did an amateur translation of it on Chris' Memorial Site.]

Kennst du das Land, wo die Zitronen blühn,
Kennst du es wohl? Dahin! dahin

Do you know the land where lemon blossom grows,
This land you know? To there! To there;


I don't know how long-lasting these links are. The story is from the October 19, 2003 Sunday Telegraph with the headline "Blazing Row", about a suspicious fire that destroyed a historic building. In the paper version, there was a picture of the house before as well as after, but not online, alas.
It was also called the "Fibro Majestic" in the Sun Herald
www.smh.com.au/text/articles/2003/10/18/1066364534502.htm (text-only version)
An interim heritage order, which would have stopped any development on the property, was issued by the NSW Heritage Office at 5.45pm on Friday.
The fibro house is believed to be one of the oldest of its type in Australia and had already been identified by Pittwater Council as having historic significance.
It also sat on north-facing property that measures 10,700 square metres - the largest parcel of land of its type in the area.
Professor J. T. Wilson bought the property, which was then part of an orchard, in 1908. Family members used it as a weekender. It is the first time the property has been listed on the market.
The property, which offers views that stretch to Lion Island and Scotland Island, is surrounded by bushland.
Monday, October 20, 2003
http://www.brunching.com/cgi/oralsexdonate.cgi?id=33459-1065835365 - this link don't work no more, but it came with a "Donate Oral Sex" button I rather liked.

The Best Little Chophouse in Town
The allure of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
By Bryan Curtis
Updated Friday, October 17, 2003, at 3:12 PM PT

[Apparently there is a remake of the original film. This gives a bit of appreciation of the orginal & how the remake is different. Somewhere earlier I posted a rebuttal about a rather weird true story which had come up in Britain about a real double murder in the USA that was claimed to have been the 'true events' upon which the movie said it was based. This article mentions the Ed Gein link.

HELSINKI (AFP) - Nokia urged consumers to buy original replacement parts for their mobile phones after the Finnish mobile telephone maker found that a battery not made by Nokia caused one of its phones to explode in Holland earlier this month ... It said it had recently received complaints concerning some 20 similar explosions, all of which were found to have been caused by non-Nokia batteries.

Demise of the Fibro Majestic
A newly heritage-listed house mysteriously burnt down yesterday morning, hours before the property was set to go to auction.
The 100-year-old house was set on waterfront land worth more than $4 million in Bayview, on Sydney's northern beaches ... The property, which offers views that stretch to Lion Island and Scotland Island, is surrounded by bushland ... on north-facing land that measures 10,700 square metres - the largest parcel of its type in the area. ... An interim heritage order, which would have stopped any development on the property, was issued by the NSW Heritage Office at 5.45pm on Friday

www.weirdpicturearchive.com (from www.smackbomb.com)
CONTAINED HEREIN are some of the strangest images found in the world. From 8-legged lambs to 2-headed tortoises and more, we collect and display the oddest of the odd. We are always looking for contributions, too.

THESE PICTURES, while gruesome, odd, and sometimes grotesque, are guaranteed not to be obscene. They are divided up into categories, then subcategories, shown below.

Extra - terrestrials: Aliens; UFOs; Crop circles; Roswell NM
Animals: Deformities; Animals in science; Roadkill
Humans: Autopsy photos; Medical conditions; Injuries; Mug shots
Sports: Players in action; Sports cards
Newspaper Items: Headlines; For sale; Classified ads
Signs: Road signs; Notices
Optical Illusions: Illusions; Tests
Miscellaneous: Famous images; Doctored photos; Tricking the camera

The Hidden Song Archive - a database of hidden and unlisted tracks from albums by all types of artists.

A hidden, or "ghost", track is a song on an album which is not listed on the album sleeve or jacket. On a CD, usually the song is accessed by playing the final track through then going through a brief moment of silence.

An unlisted track is different because the hidden song has its own track and can be directly accessed without having to go through the previous song.

Famous Fonts is the first font archive on the web to collect ONLY fonts used in TV shows, movies, publications, and other media and products - over 300 typefaces have been offered for download and/or identified! The fonts are browsable by those catagories (shown to the left).
ATTENTION WEBMASTERS: DO NOT link directly to the ZIP files on this site from your web site. Doing so creates a huge burden on our servers and has, in the past, resulted in a complete shutdown of the site. Please either copy the ZIP files to your own site or link to this page when referencing this site or a file residing here.


| TV Shows | Movies | Music | Food & Drink Products | Publications | Games | Automobiles | Sports | Companies & Organizations | Miscellaneous |


    * Alice In Chains (Music section)
    * Dark Crystal (Movies section)
    * Godsmack (Music section)
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    * Lord Of The Rings (Movies section)
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TV 'brick' opens up copyright can of worms
Jul 01
Benoit Faucon, The Wall Street Journal
(from Australian Financial Review)
A French company is ready to launch a device that lets television viewers watch any channel on earth, and may open another front in the battle over digital copyright.

Nexedi SARL's "TV Brick" effectively turns the internet into the world's longest antenna lead. It's now aimed just at Japanese expatriates in Paris, though chief executive Jean-Paul Smets says that's just a first step ....

The €950 ($1628) TV Brick is a device the size of a cable-TV set-top box, from which two cables emerge. The TV watcher in Paris plugs one cable into the TV set and connects the other to a phone line using digital subscriber line, or DSL, technology. A relative back home in Japan buys a similar box from Nexedi SARL's Japanese reseller and connects it to his TV set and DSL line the same way. Broadcast signals travel down the aerial in Tokyo and into one box, where they're converted into internet data and squirted to Paris; the box at the other end pulls the data off the internet, turns them back to a TV signal and pipes that into the set. (The data also travels the other way, so Paris TV can be watched in Tokyo.)

"This product destroys borders," Mr Smets said. "It answers a strong demand. Globalisation has made its way into families and many of them are split between different countries."

Friday, October 17, 2003
The Danger of Knowing for Sure
Whoo-hoo! Looks like The Ascent of Man DVD is on its way
(Here is a reminder of why I want it - an earlier post about AoM)
A special joint edition of The Millenium Project and Quintessence of the Loon

September 12, 2001

I can remember the first time I saw the image at the right of the screen. It comes from the television series The Ascent of Man and the particular episode was called "Knowledge and Certainty". It shows Jacob Bronowski reaching into a pool of black mud, black because it contains the ashes of people murdered as the result of an insane belief system. In the middle of the 20th century civilisation was threatened as an entire country seemed to go mad, and millions of people died as a result. A new word was invented [OK, no, but hold that off for now.], "holocaust", to describe something which even today almost defies belief - that someone could propose, and execute, a plan to destroy a large part of the world's population simply because they had the wrong genealogy - their parents and ancestors were the wrong sort of human.

Some people thought that Bronowski was making a play on the words in the series title and showing that, as well as an ascent of humankind towards civilisation, there was always the possibility of a descent back into primitivism and savagery. This point was certainly being made, but the main idea was contained in the title of the episode - "Knowledge and Certainty". Bronowski was making a distinction between science and non-science - between knowing something with confidence and knowing something with certainty. The Nazis knew with certainty that they were right. Science, and its handmaiden skepticism, is based on the principle that knowledge is testable and that ideas and beliefs can be rejected and replaced if they can be demonstrated to be wrong or outdated. It is a process of continuous learning. Yes, science can have bad outcomes, but those bad things can be challenged and changed if necessary. When ideas cannot be challenged then learning, improvement and the correction of mistakes are impossible. There is no way back.

On 11 September, 2001, civilisation was again attacked when hijacked aircraft were flown into the two towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon, and again we were presented with indelible images that will stay in our minds forever. At the time of writing, the people behind this atrocity are unknown, although there are suspicions and clues. For my purpose, however, it does not matter who did this or whether the motivation was political protest, religious bigotry, racism, extortion, whatever. What is important is that the people who did this were absolutely certain that they were right. The hijackers entered the planes in the certain knowledge that not only were they going to die themselves, but that they were going to kill an unknown number of strangers, people who had never harmed them in any way. It must take a special kind of madness to train for months for a suicide mission, to be so absolutely certain about your belief that there is nothing that could change that belief, regardless of the consequences to you or anyone else.

You might say that I am talking about extremes here, just as it would be extreme to use the examples of human behaviour that we have seen over the years in Cambodia, Rwanda, Ireland or the collection of tribes that used to be called Yugoslavia. Yes, they are extremes, but they are all examples of the failure of rational thought. It is not just civil wars, however, that exemplify the problem. Agricultural production was damaged for decades in the Soviet Union because ideology decreed that the science of genetics be rejected, and the same country held on to an inefficient economic system long after its faults and weaknesses had been demonstrated. People are campaigning against the development of an AIDS vaccine because they think the loss of millions of lives is irrelevant when placed against their belief that all vaccines are evil. Others hang on to ancient superstitions and medical systems with no proven effectiveness and proudly state that these things must work because they have not changed for centuries. Countries with enormous natural and human resources are held back by religious traditions which may have been appropriate when armies fought with spears. People have their savings stolen daily by liars who pretend to contact their dead loved ones or who promise miracle cures for incurable diseases.

Skepticism is sometimes confused with cynicism. Skeptics are seen as people who don't want to believe anything. This is incorrect - skeptics, like scientists, are people who just want to be confident that what they believe and know is the most likely thing that accords with reality. Put another way, a skeptic is someone who likes his facts to be correct. It is difficult to change long-held beliefs and it can be distressing to find out that you have an emotional investment in something which is wrong. Sometimes, however, it is just necessary to put away childish things, because there can be real danger in knowing things that just ain't so.

Peter Bowditch
September 2001

It ain't so much the things we know that get us into trouble. It's the things we know that just ain't so.
Some people know that Artemus Ward said this; some people know that Josh Billings said it;
some people know that Mark Twain said it; some people know that Will Rogers said it;
before I looked it up, I knew that Ralph Waldo Emerson said it.

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
1 Corinthians 13:11

Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
1 Thessalonians 5:21

I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.
Oliver Cromwell, 3 August, 1650

Text copyright © 2001 Peter Bowditch

Jacob Bronowski Quote From the "Knowledge or Certainty" episode from the 1973 BBC series "The Ascent of Man", transcribed by Evan Hunt (extracted)
... It is said that science will dehumanize people and turn them into numbers. That is false: tragically false. Look for yourself. This is the concentration camp and crematorium at Auschwitz. *This* is where people were turned into numbers ... And that was not done by gas. It was done by arrogance. It was done by dogma. It was done by ignorance. When people believe that they have absolute knowledge, with no test in reality--this is how they behave. This is what men do when they aspire to the knowledge of gods.

Science is a very human form of knowledge. We are always at the brink of the known; we always feel forward for what is to be hoped. Every judgment in science stands on the edge or error, and is personal. Science is a tribute to what we *can* know although we are fallible ...

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Wednesday, October 15, 2003
Walk to Work Day & related issue



Underpaid families to lose out
By Carol Nader, David Wroe
October 15, 2003

More than 25,000 families who have been underpaid $37 million in family tax benefits, are unlikely to be reimbursed by the Government, despite it vigorously pursuing those who have been overpaid entitlements. [Are we surprised?]

The Government also ruled out a Labor proposal yesterday to give families who are overpaid the option to repay the debt in instalments, instead of having it stripped from their tax return.

The decision follows recent stringent measures by the Government to crack down on overpayments of family and youth allowances ...

Australian Council of Social Service president Andrew McCallum said the row highlighted inadequate administrative procedures.
Monday, October 13, 2003
A Few Odds & Sods from the Newspapers


Hand mix-up a left-over from the caveman times
October 11, 2003
The proportion of left-handers has remained the same since the Stone Age. The discovery was made by studying "negative hands", outlines made by holding paint in one hand and blowing pigments on the other hand as it rests on a cave wall.

From 343 examples, which date back to Palaeolithic times (10,000-30,000 years ago), the proportion of left-handers was compared by Charlotte Faurie and Michel Raymond of the Universite Montpellier II with that of 179 French students performing the same task.

"No difference was detected between the two proportions of left-handers, separated by more than 10,000 years," they reported in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters. In both cases, the percentage of left-handers was 23.

The study is the first to document the evolution of handed-ness, which is related to brain organisation and language. The researchers found the stability in the number of left-handers "surprising".

Dr Faurie said: "The frequency of left-handers is highly variable from place to place in the present world, ranging from 3 per cent among Inuit people to 27 per cent of the Eipo people of New Guinea."

The Telegraph, London


Snubs hurt more than your ego
By Maggie Fox in Washington
October 11, 2003

The feeling is familiar to anyone who has been passed over in picking teams or snubbed at a party - a sickening, almost painful feeling in the stomach.

Well, it turns out that "kicked in the gut" feeling is real, US scientists say.

Brain imaging studies show that a social snub affects the brain precisely the way visceral pain does. "When someone hurts your feelings, it really hurts you," said Matt Lieberman, a social psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who worked on the study ...
Naomi Eisenberger, a graduate student who did much of the work. "Now we see that there is good reason for this."

With Kipling Williams, a psychology professor at Macquarie University, Mr Lieberman and Ms Eisenberger set up a brain imaging test of 13 volunteers to find out how social distress affects the brain.

They used functional magnetic imaging - a type of scan that allows the brain's activity to be viewed "live". The 13 volunteers were given a task that they did not know related to an experiment in social snubbing.

Writing in the journal Science, Mr Lieberman and Ms Eisenberger said the volunteers' brains lit up when they were rejected in virtually the same way as a person experiencing physical pain ...
The area affected is the anterior cingulate cortex, a part of the brain known to be involved in the emotional response to pain ...
But there also seems to be a defence mechanism to prevent the pain of rejection from becoming overwhelming.

"We also saw this area in the prefrontal cortex. The more it is active in response to pain, the less subjective pain you feel," Mr Lieberman said. "This part of the brain inhibits the more basic response."
It seemed to be involved in consciously thinking about the pain, Mr Lieberman said.


Butter feat spread over landscape

October 11, 2003
A Swedish couple hunting on a remote mountain in Sweden's far northern region of Jaemtland this week found 70 pairs of shoes, each shoe stuffed with half a kilogram of butter, spread out across the landscape.

"If we knew who had done this we could make them clean this mess up," Alf Kjaellstroem, a spokesman for the region, said on Thursday. "It's not going to be pretty when the butter starts to rot. And we have to wait for the snow so we can get up there with the snowmobile."


Feeling betrayed by Nobel process, MRI pioneer lets rip in full-page ad
October 11, 2003
Raymond Damadian thinks the members of the Nobel prize committee in Stockholm who gave out an award for medical imaging have an image problem of their own, and he let them know it - very publicly.

Dr Damadian, a pioneer of magnetic resonance imaging and chairman of a company that owns a key patent on MRI machines, took out a full-page ad on Thursday in The Washington Post that denounced the panel for not giving him a share of the 10 million kronor ($1.9 million) prize for medicine, awarded this week, and accused the panel of "attempting to rewrite history".

The advertisement, which shows an inverted Nobel prize medal, says the committee "did one thing it has no right to do: it ignored the truth." The ad says Dr Damadian made the "breakthrough" that led to the MRI.

Additionally, the ad says the two scientists who won the prize - Paul Lauterbur of the University of Illinois and Peter Mansfield of the University of Nottingham in Britain - "later made technological improvements" based on Dr Damadian's discovery ... In 1971, an article Dr Damadian published in the journal Science showed that cancer cells and normal cells would emit different magnetic resonance signals. His work was considered important because it brought magnetic resonance technology from a tool of chemists to a tool of doctors ...
Sunday, October 12, 2003
The Environmental Defense [sic] group (www.environmentaldefense.org)

Putting the Brakes on U.S. Oil Demand
(264 Kb in Acrobat PDF format)
John DeCicco, with Rod Griffin and Steve Ertel

Information on Cars and the Environment

Jedi life in the Real World
- A blog journal about the "Wild Things of God" and real life. (startup)

From Antiphilanthropy (badvision.blogspot.com)
The most random post I've ever seen by any human ( 2003_10_05_hyperactivebunnies_archive.html#106548102919887467 [the blog above every other]) ...go on, click on it! You know you want to. It doesn't make sense until the end but...for cryin' out loud. It's the longest post I've ever see, that's for sure. I got outshined by a longshot. And you'll know which one it is, believe you me.

Life has become pretty painful as of late. I got blood drawn today and they really tapped a good one, apparently...it's never good to hear a nurse go, "oops" when blood is flying out of an open vein. But I got patched up in due time...my hand is a little tingly, I'm hoping that's my hypochondria.

I missed more US History because of getting that ol' blood drawn, I'm going to fail.

I've been effectively cut off from my girl for a while. That inspired "the worst day since...all of last year", or so Linds will tell you. So if I seem like a limo wreck in the next few days, this is probably why.

I was effectively told, "We don't know what the hell is wrong with you, sicko," at the doctor today. They said they're going to do a test in two or so weeks, and if that doesn't show anything they'll be putting me on some new seratonin productive drug and giving me a pat on the back. But that would be ok because, 1: hell, it's seratonin, how tricked is that?, and 2. the test I have to take, which will take all of seven minutes, requires me to take opiates for the pain and some kind of "valium, which has hallucinogenic and barbituatory properties" (direct quote!), which will effectively floor me for the better part of the day. YES!

Then watch me wake up with an addiction to opium and I die from the strain thereafter. Hell, I took Nyquil two nights ago, I'm already addicted to it.

I had a lot to think about tho. That was another factor for staring at the ceiling til two in the morning. That's also why I looked like a limo wreck today, or at least a sport coupe wreck, rather. Not so bad as a whole frickin' limousine.

Ok, stepping away from the BLogger teat.

I am teatfully yours.

And did you all notice that "Rosie Jiang" and "Lindsey Reid" both have 10 letters? Don't ask me how I found this out, it would be too hard to put words to.
posted by Josh 10/7/2003 05:21:06 PM

[Thoughts on blogging]

peterpansangtome.blogspot.com As You WISH! said the prince - Language, style & attitude is interesting. "Young people these days."

"Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh."
-George Bernard Shaw


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The 2003 Iggies are out (10/9/03 8:04 PM)
... the Ig Nobel Prize for Economics went to Karl Schwarzler and the principality of Liechtenstein "for making it possible to rent the entire country for corporate conventions, weddings, bar mitzvahs and other gatherings".

I hope no-one tells some of our politicians, it might give them ideas.

Bad Boys II
By Paul Byrnes September 18, 2003
Did this get in earlier too?
The recent discussion on whether to keep some part of Singapore's Changi prison as a memorial to the 87,000 POWs of many nationalities who passed through it, often to much harsher locations scattered through South-East Asia, reminded me of other, closer, memorials.

Three months ago there was disturbance at the destruction of a memorial to victims of the Luna Park Ghost Train fire. (Ghost Train memorial tree haunts developers, July 14 2003 )

It is now 25 years since three died in the still-unsolved Hilton terrorist bombing in February 1978.

During work before the 2000 Olympics the memorial stele on George St was changed to an inset plaque, unprotected from being trod underfoot, having suitcases dumped on it, etc. Now it's disappeared under all the new concrete and hoardings put up for the renovations. Does anyone know what's happened to it?
It is irritating that people who burble on about other people 'taking responsibility' for damages are usually making sure that people who have NOT taken their responsibilities seriously are getting out of paying to the people who have been damaged by that lack of responsibility.

Company does not maintain its equipment properly; Operator is not given time, training or tools to check that the equipment is operating properly (safely); "Interfering bureaucracy" in the form of assorted inspectors has been privatized &/or cut back in the course of "deregulation"& "self-regulation"; Customer has very little chance of having the skills or opportunity to check equipment & assumes that original certification & permission assures them of some standards; Customer is injured by unsafe equipment, requires medical treatment, can no longer work in their occupation; Customer is then told that s/he should "take responsibility" for putting themselves at risk.

(Strangely, I haven't yet heard this said in to relation to Pan Pharmaceuticals, but I've heard it applied in a variety of other incidents.)

Surely the company should "take responsibility" by paying for the medical treatment, lost income & punitive damages for being so carelessly, callously greedy & lazy. This was, I thought, precisely the reason for having punitive damages - deterrence, I believe it's called.
Follows on from earlier post
The continuing ignoring of all this, the continual need to repeat & repeat & still never seem to get anything substantial happening is one of the things that wipes out my attempts at Anger Management (& despair avoidance).

How many substantial increases in the coverage & convenience of public transport do you remember, despite everyone mouthing platitudinous support statements?

How many times have authorities said "we've learnt from our mistakes of the past", and just repeated them, over & over - despite hundreds of apparently powerless consumer/voters telling them over & over what problems happened before & will reccur?

Earlier posting, September 25, 2003
This was not a new & startling story at the time. Something very similar will probably get repeated yet again in a few years.

Transport and health: en route to a healthier Australia? www.mja.com.au/public/issues/172_05_060300/mason/mason.html

Chloë Mason, 6 March 2000, Medical Journal of Australia 2000; 172: 230-232
also reported by the ABC at the time
Leave the car at home
Monday, 6 March 2000
Advice to leave the car at home, says one expert in this week's Medical Journal of Australia, is the best prescription doctors can give for improving health.

Sustainable transport consultant, Dr Chloe Mason, calls for the health professions to promote 'active transport' or 'transport exercise' in which people meet their transport needs more often by walking or cycling in combination with public transport ...

The World Health Organization has now recognised the relationship between transport and health with the adoption of a charter ( www.who.dk/London99/WelcomeE.htm ) signed in 1999 by European ministers for transport, health and environment from 54 countries.

The charter acknowledges the full health impacts of motor vehicle transport (traffic accidents, pollution, noise and psychosocial effects), and the benefits to health of walking and cycling as a means of transport.
"Transport is one of the major culprits in cutting down our physical activity," she said, adding that the proportion of overweight, obese or inactive Australians has increased with an increase in our use of cars.

"Walking is highly efficient in its use of urban space and energy, it rarely causes injury and it gives streets vitality and personal security." ...
Saturday, October 11, 2003
Peter Macinnis wrote:
<snip> The stupid argument that Ehrlich's predictions turned out to be wrong so
what would he know? was pushed by Miranda the Divine. <snip>

Two points about this one:
   1. If you say that a number of people will probably fall off a dangerous clifftop path unless a safety fence is put up, how can people say "well that prediction was wrong" if fewer people fall off the path following the erection of a fence?
Possibly because a lot of the work that went on to reduce consumption & pollution of resources was rather behind the scenes, and is taken for granted now (like unwidowed women being able to own their own property only in the time of my grandmother -- the UK is celebrating the Centenary of the start of Suffragette movement, the year after we celebrated 100 years of Australian women voting), people forget how much has changed, and how much of the problem now is due to the increased population (doubled since about 1960?).

   2. Surely some parts of the Club of Rome/Ehrlich predictions have happened -- how many millions have died in the last three or so decades?
This is what has so many worried about the "Free Trade" espoused in various international agreements. Any kind of government involvment is seen as special help, subsidization, & so forth, and therefore A Bad Thing. This is in assorted treaties, including bilateral & multilateral ones.

It includes (to the fundamentalists who seem to have so much influence) not just help to things like film & television (which has been in the news because of the well-known people protesting) and good public health systems, but also things like government schools, government transport, public utilities like water, electricity & communication, etc., etc.

It's one thing that does worry me about the idea of 'pricing resources'. If you know history, or the present situation in other countries, clean healthy drinking water could become beyond the easy reach of many. The health implications would not just affect those who would be suffering most obviously, it would be bound to spread through other parts of society. Meanwhile the social effects of this would be as harmful, if not more. I remember riots when the World Bank/IMF got governments to stop subsidising the supply of water to the large number of poor who couldn't afford it in some countries. But then you still have the problem of getting people to value things they presently waste.

Old social problems were addressed by the other institutions that are being smashed. Why would the problems not return? What are these idealogues' solutions to them - solutions that didn't cause or reinforce them before? (In the SMH "Health & Science" this week they spoke to Elizabeth Harris and she remembered what health services were like pre-Medicare.)

I'm not saying that all these institutions are/were perfect, but I consider it far better to improve them than go back to systems that are known to not help individuals, society & the world.

It really does make me wonder that no-one seems to ever pay attention to what can be learnt from history, even tho' some seem quite obessed with that history. None so blind as those who don't want to see.


-----Original Message-----
From: Jim Edwards
Sent: 10/11/03 12:28 AM
Subject: Re: Insurance debacle [HyperScan 1.7]

Unfortunately, according to last week's Background Briefing, privatizing defence is just what they have done, at least in the non-combatant side of it. This has resulted in dangerous situations for troops where necessary supplies of food and medicine, etc. have been cut off because the non-combatant personnel cannot obtain insurance cover for work in a war

In the doctors' case, UMD collapsed because they could not obtain reinsurance at reasonable rates in Australia and had to go to the multinational insurance giants who screwed them for all they could get.
Everyone knows that the privatization of the government insurance offices was a mistake but the one-eyed, pig-headed friedmanites on both sides of politics have long since sold out to the corporate pirates and there seems little hope of any change in the foreseeable future.


-----Original Message-----
>From: Gerald Cairns
>Date: Fri, 10 Oct 2003 12:21:37 +1000
>Hi Toby,
>I agree with your views but would like to point out that the present
>Government is implacably opposed to anything that in their view smacks of
>Socialism and that is what they think Government provision of basic
>insurance, health, transport, communications and basic community services
>required to hold a civilised community together. This Idealistic Crap has
>led successive governments to dismantle service the community has a right
>to expect to be supplied by government and now the "chickens are coming
>home to roost". What you won't find is the privatisation of defence, that
>is too rich a source of political funding and electoral manipulation to let
>that one loose.
>It is really about "selling off" to their mates publicly owned essential
>assets that should never be sold off, with the resultant political
>donations and other forms of Payola, the public are being ripped off in
>grand style.
This may be due to particular blog host service
> I've noticed a couple of blogplaces that have a "cat" (category?
> catalogue?) feature. Yours is the first I've seen that has a bit of a
> clue as to how they might work with the middle section in your posting
> section, e.g.
> Posted by James Russell at 05:26 PM
> <http://hotbuttereddeath.ubersportingpundit.com/archives/002639.html> | Film & TV
<http://hotbuttereddeath.ubersportingpundit.com/archives/cat_film_tv.html> | Comments (0)
> <http://www.ubersportingpundit.com/mt-comments.cgi?entry_id=2639>
> Could you point me to somewhere that explains the concept & method?
> I try to do something similar with my images, that is sort them a bit &
> put keywords in their info (which is probably one reason they're not yet
> up on my overly-ambitious photoblog).
Useful web reference pages
The whole webmonkey site has a lot of helpful things. These are two that could be usefully copied onto many peoples' machines for quick reference.
Codes used to produce colours on screen

Codes used to show various special characters on screen

Pauline - were there Conversions?
Sent: Monday, August 25, 2003 5:55 PM
Subject: Hanson v Colston

It isn't the severity of the sentence on Ms Hanson that galls. It's the lightness of treatment of other politicians who have the protection of larger parties.

Today's example is the late Mr Colston, who rode high on the public hog for 4 more expensive years instead of being dealt with promptly & severely for his reputed lies, cheating & fraud upon public monies.

It certainly gave the impression that he was protected by the powers who gained advantage by his change of heart.


Wed, 17 Sep 2003 21:05:21 +1000

Extract from a mailing list discussoin, in which Idid notparticipate(blasted wonkyspacebar).
You may have some strong views on PH, but what do you think of:
a) the argument; b) the method?

This particular discussion arose in the context of Toby's approval of Tony Abbott's method of silencing the Hansonites by paying the court costs of PHON dissidents on the ground that Hansonism was so bad that any means of attacking the party would be legitimate.

Geoff's Voltairian response is correct; however much we may disagree with Hanson's views, to attempt to silence them is to condone political censorship, and the next victim of such censorship might be me.

The other issue in the debate concerned the legitimacy of the subterfuge by which the censorship was effected.
First, Hanson received advice on the unusual method of organising her party from the right-wing power broker from the West, Noel Crichton-Brown.
Then Tony Abbott's off-sider, David Oldfield became one of the ruling troika of the party.
Third Tony Abbott raised funds to finance civil action to have the party structure declared illegal, with the result that Hanson and Ettridge (but not Oldfield!) went to gaol.
All this was achieved without any member of the Liberal Party having to disavow any of Hanson's policies.

IMHO this whole exercise was far more destructive of the democratic process than anything that Hanson or her supporters may have said. And it is only one of the long string of anti-democratic lurks that have been perpetrated by the Howard gang. Who then is the greater threat, Hanson or Howard?
checking out Maybanke; suffrage, but much more
> Sent: Thursday, 18 September 2003 18:22
> To:
> Subject: suffrage
> We never lost a debate. I remember only one fight. It was in Newtown
> Hall and only a few chairs were broken.
> Maybanke Wolstenhome (aka Maybanke Anderson), President of the NSW
> Womanhood Suffrage League
Water Tanks
This may be Parramatta Tank Works or another www.cmac.com.au , but it's definitely some water tank place

Assorted Blogs
my blue heaven
impurrfection ??

Pix site, recommended by Neil Gaiman
(also reachable thru


Where you can get to places like this


Belgrave House Hotel, London
Thomson Community Champion Award 2003
Circulated at work. I should think about this, but time is short and there's so much else. Maybe I can find what others are putting forward to save re-doing work, and maybe to give myself ideas.

Subject: The Thomson Community Champion Award 2003
> As part of the Thomson Giving Advantage program, The Community Champion
> Award is presented on an annual basis and recognizes the most outstanding
> examples of community service across Thomson.
> All full-time employees of Thomson are eligible for the Community Champion
> Award.
> To be considered for this award, the project or program must have made a
> significant and lasting impact in a community in which Thomson does
> business by:
> * Helping to address a pressing social need,
> * Providing resources to solve a difficult community problem or
> * making a major difference to a person or group of persons or a
> community in need.
> Your entry could win USD15,000 for the nonprofit organisation of your
> choice. Two runner-up donations of USD5,000 each will also be awarded.
> The application deadline is October 15, 2003. Winners will be announced
> December 15, 2003. For further details and to apply online please go to
> www.ThomsonChampion.com
Afghanistan? Iraq? Iran? Saudi Arabia?
15 came from Saudi Arabia. The remaining four came from Egypt http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egypt,
the United Arab Emirates http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Arab_Emirates and Lebanon


link from Wikipedia's entry on M Atta - looking for list of the 19 September 11 hijackers & their

Check its links too, listed at bottom
Some people count sheep to sleep; some count people & don't sleep too well
From a Matrix essays comment thread (16/09/03 ish) - I asked for a source, but the comments have fallen off & never got a reply.

"are already 6 billion on Earth and counting. Calculations tells us that we
will be 10 billion by 2010."

This is the last revision (1998) I saw:

World population reached:
1 billion in 1804,
2 billion in 1927 (123 years later)
3 billion in 1960 (33 years)
4 billion in 1974 (13 years)
5 billion in 1987 (12 years)
6 billion in 1999 (12 years)
7 billion in 2013 (14 years - projected)
8 billion in 2028 (15 years - projected)
10.7 (high) or 8.9 (middle) or 7.3 (low) billion projected for 2050
More on "Working Harbour"
Supporting various people who like to see a "real" place, it's not just aesthetic.
It's far better for people & society to not forget just what they depend on. It's like only seeing milk in bottles or meat shorn of any resemblance to real animals, sealed behind plastic.

If it's rubbed in their faces, for example, that those shiny gorgeous cars so many of us are obsessed with the 'prestige' of are shipped in by hulking, rusty, foreign-registered steel icebergs of ships and dumped out by the thousand, like the bags of wheat we used to export, then just perhaps some of those tunnel-visioned types might reconsider the true value of decent transport, instead of rejigging another novated lease scheme.

Perhaps that's unlikely, but so many people seem to have no idea whatsoever just what connection they & their lifestyle have to the rest of the world.

Whether it's not seeing what happens to other kinds of life in producing their food, or the kind of destruction wrought to other humans, human society, other inhabitants of the planet & the supporting infrastructure of the biosphere itself in producing & bringing their other goods & services to them, this kind of ignorance may be bliss for a happy few, for a time, but can lead to the kind of crash & misery for many, for a longer time that has been seen before in both natural & human disasters.
Marinas & Mariners (Can Horny Hands & Tawny Sands coexist in Port Jackson?)
In the SMH online forum about moving the 'working harbour' from Inner Western Sydney sites one contributor wrote: "developers won't be able to get away with 30 storey apartment towers in these locations - you will see well designed low rise developments encompassing residential, commercial, retail and dining and most importantly open space which is fully accessible."

While I admire this unquenchable optimism, it betrays serious memory loss or a sad lack of local knowledge.

A search through records of the last few decades, reveals many, many promises & reassurances that "we've learnt from our mistakes of the past", repeated & repeated & repeated -- each time with the previous time as a mistake.

Follow with a tour (by public transport) around places previously hailed as fresh new starts, while holding a sheaf of both Artist's Impressions & prints of what was destroyed.

You may end sadder, but I hope wiser.
Two views of children from SBS documentaries
The child of the gay couple.

Tonight (Tuesday 30th Sep) the SBS documentary is on that story.
On Saturday night (Oct 4th), there is another one about children. A much sadder one.

See the summaries below.

Yesterday afternoon someone mentioned that they were going to be talking about Anger Management. This reminded me about the things that make me angry. What makes me angry usually also makes me sad. Last night I ended up a bit of a mess, crying with rage & helplessness, remembering things I try to put in the back of my mind just to function.

The two sides of how children are treated - the dumped & destructive remnants of "adult" behaviour against the efforts that infertile couples of all sorts go through - my partner & I accepted a child-free fate - is one subject that was prominent in my feelings (also the wreckage of the earth & our society that we are leaving the generations to come).

Former Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu outlawed abortion and contraception and ordered women to bear as many children as possible in his failed effort to increase the Romanian workforce. He was executed on Christmas Day, 1989, but today Romanians live with the fallout from that edict -- and as the film shows, the children are mostly ignored.


Orphans are the dark side of the anti-abortion movement; making something illegal doesn't make it go away. Nicolae Ceausescu's excuse for outlawing abortion was an attempt to increase Romania's workforce. What he did instead was increase the country's orphans to staggering numbers, including the 20,000 children who live on Bucharest's streets. When I say "children", I mean just that. You have never seen anything as depressing as ragged 8-year-olds addicted to sniffing spray paint ... The film also includes footage of some of the parents involved (remember... not all parents of orphans are
dead), and the meager social services that tries to place these children, saving them from the streets ...


Summary from SBS TV listing
This powerful documentary looks the human cost of the Ceausescu Communist regime (1964-1989) and its ill-conceived fertility campaign. In a busy subway station below the streets of Bucharest, Romania, five children live among a family of forgotten orphans and runaways. Unwanted and unloved, these children live almost like a feral pack, foraging for food and water, playing, fighting and fantasising.
Winner of a number of Best Documentary Awards, including the 2001 Sundance Special Jury Prize for Best Documentary feature. (From the US, in Romanian, English subtitles)

C Mez
Hypertension / Hypotension

You didn't pronounce this clearly enough to distinguish between the two --
the per/po pair unless emphasised a bit both tend to sound like 'puh'. Once
the first innocent fell victim to this the next alert quizee(?), if they'd
heard it, would probably be able to guess what the problem was, but it's
still a bit unfair.

BTW: I get quite snippy when people keep using 'epicentre' as if it means
'really dead centre', whereas it means the part above the real centre.
One thing that really sent me off sometime earlier this year was someone
describing the area in Hiroshima/Nagasaki directly below the airburst of the
bombs as the epicentre of the damage. AAAAAAARRRRGGGH!!! It's called the
'hypocentre'. Didn't know it was an underground blast. Grrrr...

[http://www.nature.com/nsu/030929/030929-9.html#b2 The Iggies are out!
(http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/s959833.htm) Gotta be Not The Nine

PS: The pain, the pain. How will we survive the combination of cricket &
rugby wiping out
our local radio!? Radio National & back to News Radio (but they're
kinda sporty too).
Friend A was cheering me up somewhat today over a cuppa. He suggested that I could use some of the travel documentation from when Chris & I travelled through Europe & also our trip to Fraser Island together to show our joint lives together. We kept most of our financial affairs pretty separate, since both of us had our own homes & jobs & debts, etc. We shared quite a bit, but not in a documented way. I will have to write to one or two people who've moved in the last year or so for the stat decs. <sigh>
I really want to clear these debts, they weigh very much on my spirit. That and clearing our houses of some now-unnecessarily-burdensome possessions might let me feel his spirit too is freer to move on.
Wednesday, October 08, 2003
Review of Bad Boys II from the Sydney Morning Herald
By Paul Byrnes
September 18, 2003

He doesn't like it.
But I rather like the review.
Once in a while a movie comes along that has everything and nothing. I'm talking car chases in pretty places, fights between the races and beeyootiful faces. I'm talking Will Smith and Martin Lawrence back together again on the Miami beat, taking the heat, cops you can't defeat, and more dead meat hits the street than, than ... well, a lot, anyway.

I'm no rapper, as you can tell, but I feel I can't properly describe this movie without some recourse to argot. Actually, I feel I can't properly describe this movie. You won't believe me, anyway. I didn't believe some of it myself.

It's a comedy that runs a whopping 146 minutes, destroys more property than the average hurricane and must have cost more than a small war. In fact, it is a small war, but one where collateral damage is the point, not the problem. It's the nastiest, most mean-spirited, cynical Hollywood crap, but it's also pretty funny in parts ...
The film's violence is a shock, because it's so heartlessly comic, ... It's slapstick with vomit and dead people, or Abbott and Costello for young urban blacks raised on gang warfare. It's not like this audience needs examples of non-lethal conflict resolution, is it?

The film was made by Michael Bay, who made his debut with Bad Boys in 1995. Since then he has directed The Rock, Armageddon and Pearl Harbour, movies that pretty much define what's wrong with Hollywood. Each of these films was bigger and stupider than its predecessor, but Bad Boys II takes a giant leap into the abyss of meaninglessness.

It's almost Zen-like in its emptiness, but so pumped with aggression, speed and the glint of expensive consumer goods that your eyes are dazzled. If you feel like a peek at the decline of Western civilisation, here's your movie.

Monday, October 06, 2003
More bad news. The other superannuation people want four statutory declarations about the relationship between Chris & me. Plus some extra supporting data, like joint accounts or some such.
They refuse to send superannuation to the estate, but want to pay to me personally -- hope they will pay it into the Estate Account, because it can go straight from there to pay his crushing debts -- but to do that they want all this extra proof. That is more proof than the Supreme Court needed!
Now have to find if I can find copies of all the affidavits & sort through a lot of our personal stuff, and add that in ... bloody painful it is.
For goodness' sake, everyone, make out a will. The pain you put people left behind through is an unkind legacy indeed.

Thursday, October 02, 2003
Following Friday, 19th September up: For one of the "two very very important things" they wrote back, asking for yet more documentation! One of which they had specifically said on the form I filled in, that they didn't want me to send (i.e., they said, "don't send [this] send [something else] instead, which I did").


It may, of course, be possible that:
  • It's part of a cunning scheme to keep Australia Post (formerly known as the Postmaster General's Department before they split it into separate mail & telephone parts) going. All this stuff is sent by Registered Mail with an extra fee for delivery acknowledgment (you can also pay extra fees for extra insurance & person-to-person delivery, but you have to draw the line somewhere - possibly quite tightly about certain necks...);

  • It's part of a scheme to keep the (semi-government??) body they're in looking busy so they don't get "rightsized" into the unemployment pool - cold, dirty & carnivore-infested bog that it is.

  • Wednesday, October 01, 2003
    Walk to Work Day & related issue
    Note: This Friday, October 3rd (i.e., the day the October Labour Day Long Weekend mass car transmigration begins) is National Walk to Work Day.

    If you are visiting the web site (

    brace yourself as our Beloved & Respected Great Leader is a major symbol of it. The above link is designed to start you off less shockingly.

    PS: If I hear one more eejut saying "walk up the stairs at work" I'm going to take them to the tallest building I can find, put them into the stairwell at the ground floor, stand outside the exit in the alleyway amongst the garbage cans and forbid them to come out until they have gone to every level in the building to see which of them they can get out of the stairwell at.

    Naturally I would make sure they don't have a mobile phone to call someone, and would make sure that the workers on the floors outside were alert to only open the (usually alarm-triggering) doors if it really sounded like there was a medical emergency.

    I have had some experience of trying to use stairs in many modern buildings, and like certain suburbs or shopping centres, the ease of use for pedestrians is very poor (& access by public transport also frequently discouraged).
    Bad News, Good News ... sigh
    I wonder if the difference here was at least partly because there was more food around in the USA than in China? A three-year-old alone for 18 days and a two-year-old left for 19 days.

    Previous Post on the story of a three-year-old girl starved to death after police arrested her mother and left her locked at home with no food for 18 days.
    Previous Post, Sat Jul 19, 2003

    Now there's another story that perhaps ended more happily, but still points to problems in the system.

    Toddler survives three weeks trapped in flat
    October 1, 2003
    Jacksonville, Florida. A two-year-old girl survived on ketchup, mustard and dried pasta for nearly three weeks after she was left home alone while her mother served time in a Florida jail ...
    Other links:
    Florida Tot Home Alone Nearly 3 Weeks, Survives
    Tue September 30, 2003 05:41 PM ET
    Toddler survives over two weeks alone on what she could find
    Associated Press Writer

    Created: 9/30/2003 7:57:24 AM; Updated: 9/30/2003 5:40:21 PM

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     / . Lives in Australia/New South Wales/Sydney, speaks English. Eye color is hazel. I am what my mother calls unique. My interests are photography, reading, natural history/land use, town planning, sustainability.

    This is my blogchalk:
    Australia, New South Wales, Sydney, English, photography, reading, natural history, land use, town planning, sustainability.