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Afghan Grass Trimmer

April 30, 2009

afghangrasstrimmer290.jpgAlways be deeply cynical of stories that float around the mail systems, especially if they are accompanied by pleas for prayer, and/or onforwarding. Emotion and fact rarely marry in the internet chapel. Despite the caution I found myself warming to the alleged story (see below) behind this picture of a soldier trimming a patch of Australian grass sown, grown and mown in Afghanistan. Standing by to be told it is an American soldier with his Kentucky Blue in a Carolina training camp.  Read more

Waterboarding

April 24, 2009

I wrote some thoughts about waterboarding in an earlier post. There is some interesting observations here by journalist Christopher Hitchens who thought be might pursue a story to its (almost) nth degree.

Sex Selective Abortion Favours Males

April 24, 2009

china-birth-ratios.jpgThe number of boys being born in China is higher than the number of girls. By a long shot. It is a statistic complicated by and exacerbated by China’s single child policy and by sex selective abortion.  According to the British Medical Journal the average ratio of male to female births can be as high as 146. Sadly sex selective abortion, banned by the government, apparently accounts for all of the excess males. And the statistics particularly skew against the girls in second and third order births – as parents strive to produce that son, pregnancies are terminated when they discover a girl is on the way.  What does that mean in real number terms? Read more

Putting Your Heart on Your Sleeve

April 23, 2009

mirage290.jpgNot every “bloke” is keen to put their heart on their sleeve, let alone doing so by writing a poem about how he feels. It’s not something we do well  – as a rule. So a feather could have knocked me down when one of my colleagues let me read (and now publish) the poem below. What is especially interesting was that he wrote it in response to the “Push the Limit” video on the right hand side of this page. He was responding to the words of the backing track, as much as to the images. “Bring me to Life” by Evanescence is a powerful song which arguably refers to an appeal to Jesus (that is another debate altogether but the words certainly fit that context, and it works for me). Damien’s poem below, words to the song below that. Read more

Afghan Refugees

April 20, 2009

afghan_burns.jpgMark Twain enjoined “Let your secret sympathies and your compassion be always with the under dog in the fight – this is magnanimity; but bet on the other one – this is business.” Sadly our government too often confuses the two. Afghan travellers looking for a better life have their boat explode from underneath them, sink, some drowning, others burning and the others somehow being picked up in one piece by our Navy. So I love seeing images such as these (SMH multimedia presentation of Burns Unit) – images of the refugees in high tech, first world health care getting the very best we can give them. Sad that a disaster had to precipitate such compassion but I am proud to be part of a community that can and does provide this sort of care. But can you imagine the dislocation in the minds of these patients, transitioning from the squalor of a crowded refugee boat to a hospital in Perth? I wonder where their journey ends. I hope it is here – the end result of some magnanimity, not elsewhere, the end result of some business.

CIA Interrogation – Try “Would You Like a Job?”

April 17, 2009

interrogation2901.jpg In 2005 the following techniques (listed below) were apparently approved (by the DoJ) for use on detainees. I can hear old school coppers all over the world having a chuckle – no reference to phone books, or fire hoses, or clamped cuffs, or …   We would be foolish if we thought these were the only physical techniques used. I think we all know that. But I was mildly surprised at the light touch involved in these techniques though the panic induced in water boarding could be intense, I am sure. Read more

Top Marketing Lines from my Spam Filter

April 12, 2009

email-spam.gifMarketing is about convincing a potential customer you have a product they need or want. The message which is conveyed has to be convincing, whether you are introducing the product or closing the sale. If you are going to win that sale you want your potential customer to know you are serious, and have a serious product.  Spelling errors, errors of fact, unreal pricing and such are only going to ring warning bells in the mind of a consumer – who today is doubly alert to a con line. Which makes me wonder why anyone ever follows up on the sort of spam links that come through to my in-box. But which can also make for some humourous reading. There are hundreds of bizarre lines out there but these and those like them appeal to my sense of humour. They are all cited verbatim from my spam filter, and no, I have not been tempted to follow any of them up). Read more

The Smell of A Book

April 8, 2009

readerovershoulder290.jpgSir Ernest Barker, clearly part of “the establishment” if his Wikipedia entry is any guide, thought The Reader Over Your Shoulder is ‘a national service.’ Only a knight would judge a book on writing to be so. Actually a knight who was also a don at Oxford and a professor at Cambridge, which may or may not mean something other than the possibility that he had to support two opposing teams in the Boat Race. I wonder where his allegiance really lay? I digress however, evidence that I have purchased the correct book if my writing needs are to be met!

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Water Wars

April 4, 2009

waterglass.jpgI caught an interesting review of an article written by Wendy Barnaby (published in Nature). It was intriguing because it neatly flipped assumptions about why nations go to war, and going to war over water is a base assumption for many strategic assessments held by our governments. Perhaps fuelled by Mark Twain as well who apparently quipped that “whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting.”

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Sydney Toytown

April 3, 2009

sydney_louit290.jpgA chap called Keith Loutit has been filming and photographing scenes in a rather unique way – combining time lapse photography and a technique that constrains the point of focus. The result is a captivating effect – a toytown effect. I have embedded one of Sydney on this page. Have a look over there on the right – the video is titled Bathtub IV. Very funky.

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