28 December 2005

Pushing the boundaries of unanimity

GTi is Fairfax Car of the Year

The Volkswagen Golf GTi is the 2006 Fairfax AMI Car of the Year, a decision which was virtually unanimous, with four of the six judges voting for the car...

- Dominion Post motoring section, 24 December 2005

22 December 2005

Star Wars bunnies

Star Wars in 30 seconds, re-enacted by bunnies.

Star Wars Bunnies

[Courtesy of Louwrens]

Public servants displaying commendable entrepreneurial spirit

'It was a bomb we were dealing with, for god's sake. They should deal with that first before asking for money'

- Indonesian office building manager, after police demanded a bribe before they would respond to a bomb threat (Jakarta Post, quoted in Van Zorge Report, 13 December 2005)

Mr. T! As a duck!

Yes, it's really called a 'celebriduck'. Quite an elaborate biography on this site, considering they're only flogging a weirdo plastic bath toy.

Mr. T Celebriduck

Just a handy hint from a mate

'It is not a criticism, rather a suggestion that he do some exercises and go on a diet, don't you think? I'm doing this for the gentleman's health'

- Fidel Castro, on describing Florida Governor Jeb Bush as the US President's "fat little brother"

[Courtesy of Louwrens]

Perhaps the couples were doing it all wrong

Policewomen slap dating couples

Two policewomen have been suspended in the northern Indian city of Meerut for slapping and punching couples who were dating in a public park.
Police were carrying out "Operation Romeo", which they said was to target the sexual harassment of women.

Anti-police protests erupted after TV pictures showed officers punching and pulling the hair of young women. Police chief Rajiv Ranjan said the drive was to tackle obscenity but the officers had "clearly gone overboard".

BBC News, 21 December 2005

19 December 2005

O the humanity...

A broad selection of some truly awful baby names. Here's a quote from a prospective mum:

'These are the ones I've seen here that I love:

- Avrielle, Olivianna, Sophelia, Allorah, Fairith, Sabriel, Katrien...

Also I love word names, tell me all the word names you can think of! I like:

- Patience, Sailor, Meadow, Journey, Lyric, Ever, Rose, Samaya, Grey, Chance, True, Journey

And one more thing, I love place names, nice sounding ones:

- India, Ireland, Asia, Dallas, London'

Baby's Named a Bad, Bad Thing

[Courtesy of Jolisa's blog]

16 December 2005

The winner of the annual gobbledegook championship

"The only thing which isn't up for grabs is no change and I think it's fair to say it's all to play for, except for no change."

- Rhodri Morgan, Welsh First Minister, lays down the law

[For eight other fab contenders, see the BBC's article. Includes a definition of 'hot food']

14 December 2005

Vintage Winston

Gerry Brownlee: What negotiating stance will New Zealand be taking in relation to the Convention on Biological Diversity with regard to trade in genetic resources, and how does that stance relate to the development of New Zealand's domestic law in that area?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: That issue is at a putative stage and is in the hands of one of my colleagues, the name of whom the member should know if he is going to be a foreign affairs spokesperson.

Gerry Brownlee: Why does it appear that the Minister is not aware that the briefing to the incoming Minister of Foreign Affairs states specifically on page 49 that officials still require decisions on New Zealand's position in respect of those negotiations, and raises concerns that international negotiations may get ahead of New Zealand's domestic policy; is he unaware because he has not actually read the ministerial briefing papers, or can he answer the question?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: I think I answered the question by saying that this issue was at its putative stages, and, of course, one has to understand what the word "putative" means, and that is where I lost the member - all of which characteristics are in the emails I have regarding the National Party's internal workings.


Gerry Brownlee: Why does the Minister think this particular [NZ Herald] journalist has it in for him?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: The answer to that question is to be found in 3 years of emails of the National Party's internal workings, where the New Zealand Herald is concerned. [Interruption] Oh, I know what those members are thinking: they are wondering whether I have one telephone book full of those emails, or 10. Well, I have to tell those members that, in all this excitement, I myself clean forgot to count them. But given that this is the most damaging information seen in the Western World, and could blow their political heads clean off, they have to ask themselves whether they feel lucky. Well, do they - punks?

- Hansard, 13 December 2005

10 December 2005

Elvish translator

Type your text into the box, and it'll render it in willowy Elvish writing. Although it does look like it's written with a felt pen rather than a silver-edged eagle quill.

Elvish translator

[Courtesy of Deeknow's website]

09 December 2005

The Tigger Movie: on a par with Waiting For Godot

"I remember being reduced to a wreck by The Tigger Movie. It's certainly no masterpiece; more a cash-in on Winnie The Pooh. Yet it's utterly devastating when Tigger realises that there are no other tiggers in the Hundred Acre Wood, and that he is essentially alone in the world. Beneath the comic pathos, there's a recognition of primal human pain here that's as bleak as anything in Beckett"

- S.F. SAID, Daily Telegraph

08 December 2005

Something we can beat Australia at

NZ Has More Liquor Outlets Than Australia

NewsRoom.co.nz Agency Story at 11:54 AM, 07 Dec 2005

There are more places in New Zealand to purchase alcohol than there are in Australia, despite the fact that New Zealand only has one fifth Australia's population.

According to the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP), there are 15,000 liquor outlets in New Zealand, while Australia has about 200 less.

RACP alcohol and drug consultant Ian Scott says New Zealanders aren't necessarily drinking more, but it is the way the drinking is done that is problematic, particularly binge drinking.

Dr Scott says the laws need to be revised and the RACP is calling for a new alcohol policy.

He says fines should be enforced on licensees who sell alcohol to those who are under-aged and there should be changes to the way liquor is marketed to young people.

03 December 2005

Band name ad game

See how many band names you can spot in this Virgin ad. There's at least 20... but I've only managed 15 so far.

Virgin ad game

[Courtesy of Alpen]

02 December 2005

"Are you sure this was in the job description?"

Women sacked 'for not baring breasts to gorilla'

Two former caretakers who refused to bare their breasts to a 300lb (136kg) sign language-speaking gorilla named Koko have settled a lawsuit against the Gorilla Foundation.

Nancy Alperin and Kendra Keller said that they were dismissed after they refused to expose their bosoms and reported sanitary problems at Koko's home in Woodside, south of San Francisco. They were told that if they "did not indulge Koko's nipple fetish, their employment with the Gorilla Foundation would suffer", their claim alleged.

Ms Alperin and Ms Keller said that Francine Patterson, Koko's caretaker and president of the Gorilla Foundation, pushed them to bare their breasts to bond with the 33-year-old female simian.

The foundation has denied the allegations. The settlement's terms were not disclosed. (AP)

- The Times, 2 December 2005

01 December 2005

Parliamentary report card

TransTasman has a nice line in being bitchy about nearly everyone...

Shane Ardern (National, Taranaki-King Country) 'Chair of Govt Admin committee will give him some work to do, unaccustomed to it as he may be'

Gerry Brownlee (National, Ilam) 'Makes a habit of making a prat of himself but it can be effective in smothering government good news spin'

Ashraf Choudhary (Labour, list) 'Profile below the horizon, doesn't seem to want it any other way'

Brian Connell (National, Rakaia) 'Totally unimportant'

Gordon Copeland (United Future, list) 'Lacks personality and makes no impact'

Hon Clayton Cosgrove (Labour, Waimakariri) 'Not short of self-belief'

Hon Harry Duynhoven (Labour, New Plymouth) 'If he hasn't given up Cabinet aspirations by now, hope really does spring eternal'

Martin Gallagher (Labour, Hamilton West) 'Unremittingly boring'

Sandra Goudie (National, Coromandel) 'Sometimes shrill'

Dave Hereora (Labour, list) 'Don't feel bad if you can't remember this man'

Sue Kedgley (Greens, list) 'Putting a scatterbrain in charge of the health committee was a high-risk move'

Hon Steve Maharey (Labour, Palmerston North) 'Certainly has the women's vote'

Hon Mahara Okeroa (Labour, Te Tai Tonga) 'Intellectual mystery, sporadic rants largely incomprehensible'

Pita Paraone (NZ First, list) 'Rarely speaks in the House now, sensible move'

Lynne Pillay (Labour, Waitakere) 'Professional non-entity'

Hon Tony Ryall (National, Bay of Plenty) 'He'll be effective against Hodgson, even though he doesn't know anything about health'

Hon Dr Nick Smith (National, Nelson) 'Needs to lighten up a little'

Hon Judith Tizard (Labour, Auckland Central) 'Must be doing something in Auckland. Presence otherwise meaningless'

Richard Worth (National, list) 'Laid back approach hides a sharp mind - if he'd be bothered to use it'

- Excerpts from TransTasman's 'roll call' of MPs in 2005

40 Things That Only Happen In Movies

Number 17: 'If you are heavily outnumbered in a fight involving martial arts, your opponents will wait patiently to attack you one by one by dancing around you in a threatening manner until you have defeated their predecessor'

40 Things That Only Happen In Movies

I guess it's a matter of priorities

"No . . . . Awfully jolly of you to suggest it, though."

- Last words of Ronald Knox, a priest and author who served as the Catholic chaplain at Oxford for many years. For several days before his death from liver cancer, he lay comatose, attended by close friends. Shortly before his death, Lady Elton noticed that he had stirred slightly and asked if he would like her to read from his own translation of the New Testament.

[From Last Words. Knox also perpetrated one of the great radio hoaxes - in 1926 his BBC radio broadcast had listeners panicking that the capital was aflame]

So do they like TV in Syria?

If this picture is anything to go by, the answer is yes.


Nothing on the internet is true, dammit

Someone edited a Wikipedia site to claim that a journalist was a suspect in the Kennedy assassinations. It stayed on the site for four months until it was finally deleted. His solution to the problem? Well, he's American, so it involves lawyers.

The Danger of Wikipedia

A singular command of geography

Channeling Borges and Garcia Marquez - with a dash of L. Ron Hubbard and Erich von Daniken - Busyboy tells endlessly entertaining tales of a place called South America. It is an extraordinary realm where anything is possible.

In South America, boy chickens lay eggs and nobody ever dies. Whenever you step on a crack in South America, a trapdoor opens up underneath you, which is both exciting and scary. You need to know that the land is largely frozen, and patrolled by transparent glowing robot police hippos, who travel on ice skates.

His Nonna and Poppa tried showing him photos of their own travels to a place they were pretty sure was South America, to no avail. "I know all about South America, and that's not it." Nope, it takes about fourteen days to get there on a plane, and when you do there is nowhere to stay because there are no people and no hotels (and the transparent glowing robot police hippos don't run B & Bs, more's the pity).

This South America has a rich and astonishing history. Brandishing a Lego construction that has five wheels and an indeterminate number of projecting bumps, he informs me: "This is a jet-jet. It was one of the first South American planes that was ever built. A hundred and fifty thousand years ago, when there was nuffing, even dinosaurs, or people, or cats, or dogs, or trees, or spiders, or anything else. That's when this plane was built, when there was no anything, just nuffing. Just that plane. And robots. Actually, the plane was built by robots. Then the robots died out and the people came, and the dinosaurs. And that's its real name, jet-jet. I didn't make it up. That's what they call it, in South America." See, not a lot of people know that.

- Jolisa Gracewood's four-year-old (a.k.a. Busyboy) is a devotee of the magical realist style.

For the geek who has everything

...a clock that tells the time using a round-the-clock game of Pong.

Pong Clock

[Courtesy of Alpen]

29 November 2005

Get your tinfoil hats ready, the Sapiens are coming

Prenzel man founds new world movement

Blenheim man Hugh Steadman has withdrawn from his management role with Prenzel distillery company to focus on leading a new political movement called the Sapiens.

He will maintain his role as a company director.

The Sapiens are dedicated to the establishment of a democratic world government.

Mr Steadman has founded the Sapiens with a group of 22 like-minded New Zealanders and encouragement from similar organisations overseas.

"There's a whole body of this work going on worldwide," he said.

He estimated 22 people belong to the Sapiens in New Zealand, with many more sharing the same political view worldwide.

Mr Steadman, who has a degree in politics and international relations, said Sapiens aimed to provoke debate, and did not expect a democratic world government to happen overnight.

"Someone needs to get the ball rolling," he said.

Among their policies is a call for countries to give up certain political rights, among them the right to send troops to war.

Mr Steadman agreed it may be hard to get superpowers like America and China to agree to this policy, but said crucial political changes were in the wind, spurred by a series of impending crises.

"America is going to ultimately face a serious defeat in the Middle East and there will be serious reconsideration given to that aspect of American life."

Mr Steadman said a starting point could be the democratisation of the United Nations.

The next step for the Sapiens could be to form a political party to contest the 2008 general election.

Marlborough Express, 24 November 2005

[I like how it says that he estimates that there are 22 members. Not 20 or 25, then?]

Blue Sky In Games Campaign

Now here's something to challenge the status quo and stick it to The Man. Just like you, these people want to return to the days when female game characters were something other than prostitutes, and black game characters were something other than drug dealers...

Blue Sky In Games Campaign

[Courtesy of Junglette]

25 November 2005

Last words from Death Row

A chilling and morbid exhibition of the men and women executed by the punitive Texans. Their deeds were often evil, but the bland facts point towards tragic stupidity as a prime motivator for some of the crimes, like the woman who murdered her family and immediately placed a life insurance claim.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Executed Offenders Last Statements

Executed Offenders

[Courtesy of Popbitch]

21 November 2005

Penguin bat game

Click once to make the penguin dive, and a second time to make the caveman swing his club. See how far you can make the penguin skip across the ice! He seems to be enjoying it, the wee scamp.

Penguin bat game

[Courtesy of KFa. Best I managed was 316.3m]

These ice-trays are bulletproof, presumably?

'The Pentagon has been paying a contractor $20 each for plastic ice-cube trays that sell over the counter for 85 cents, said Rep. Joel Hefley (R-Colo.), citing an Oct. 23 report by Knight Ridder newspapers.

According to the report, the military bought the ice trays through a 'prime vendor program' run by the Defense Logistics Agency. It also paid prime vendors $32,642 for a refrigerator for airplanes that cost $17,267 from the manufacturer, $81 for a coffee maker that the manufacturer sells for $29, and $43 for packs of coffee filters that usually sell for $11'

- Defense News, 7 November 2005

11 November 2005

'Off with this costume can I take?'

Like you, I've often thought small household pets resemble 700-year-old green midgets formerly voiced by Frank Oz.


06 November 2005


Just type anything into the search box and this fun site will dredge the net for related pictures, and compile a montage of the results for your edification. Try typing in your suburb, or a city you'd like to visit, or your name (if you're famous!). Searching for 'autumn leaves' produced a pretty pattern too. Plenty of room for experimentation!


[Courtesy of Davotfm]

05 November 2005

Pants for the memories

Lot 328: a pair of embarrassing trousers

A recent auction on eBay ended with a pair of leather trousers being sold for US$102.50 after 22 bids. Buyers may have been attracted by the following short essay written by the owner:

"You are bidding on a mistake. We all make mistakes. We date the wrong people for too long. We chew gum with our mouths open. We say inappropriate things in front of grandma.

And we buy leather pants.

I can explain these pants and why they are in my possession. I bought them many, many years ago under the spell of a woman whom I believed to have taste. She suggested I try them on. I did. She said they looked good. I wanted to have a relationship of sorts with her. I'm stupid and prone to impulsive decisions. I bought the pants.

The relationship, probably for better, never materialised. The girl, whose name I can't even recall, is a distant memory. I think she was short.

Ultimately, the pants were placed in the closet where they have remained, unworn, for nearly a decade. I would like to emphasise that aside from trying these pants on, they have never, ever been worn. In public or private.

I have not worn these leather pants for the following reasons:

I am not a member of Queen.

I do not like motorcycles.

I am not Rod Stewart.

I am not French.

I do not cruise for transvestites in an expensive sports car.

These were not cheap leather pants. They are Donna Karan leather pants. They're for men. Brave men, I would think. Perhaps tattooed, pierced men. In fact, I'll go so far as to say you either have to be very tough, very gay, or very famous to wear these pants and get away with it.

Again, they're men's pants, but they'd probably look great on the right lady. Ladies can get away with leather pants much more often than men can. It's a sad fact that men who own leather pants will have to come to terms with.

They are size 34x34. I am no longer size 34x34, so even were I to suddenly decide I was a famous gay biker I would not be able to wear these pants. These pants are destined for someone else. For reasons unknown - perhaps to keep my options open, in case I wanted to become a pirate - I have shuffled these unworn pants from house to house, closet to closet. Alas, it is now time to part ways so that I may use the extra room for any rhinestone-studded jeans I may purchase in the future.

These pants are in excellent condition. They were never taken on pirate expeditions. They weren't worn onstage. They didn't straddle a Harley, or a guy named Harley. They just hung there, sad and ignored, for a few presidencies.

Someone, somewhere, will look great in these pants. I'm hoping that someone is you, or that you can be suckered into buying them by a girl you're trying to bed. Please buy these leather pants"

- Quoted in the Guardian, 2 November 2005

[Links added by me. Y'know, this is the 100th posting to the Very Blog. Free champagne for everyone!]

01 November 2005

Wise counsel for soldiers and most of the rest of us

'If there is one subject to avoid it is politics. Just say you don't know anything about it. Which is undoubtedly the truth'

- Advice for US servicemen embarking to serve as occupation forces in post-WW2 Korea

26 October 2005

Sorry, this million dollar idea is taken

A 21 year-old kid thinks of a way to get complete strangers to give him $1 million. Well okay he's only got $500,000 so far - in return for basically nothing...

The Million Dollar Homepage

[Courtesy of Tibby]

22 October 2005

TV Cream's Top 100 Toys

What life could possibly be complete without a joyous trawl through the wonders of all the 'wonderful' toys we used to play with as little bleeders? Includes the obvious ones, like the Rubik's Cube, but also oft-forgotten gems like Mastermind, Guess Who?, Downfall, spud-guns, Terrahawks, and plenty of naff stuff that only smelly girls played with.

TV Cream's Top 100 Toys

[Courtesy of Alpen]

Take a left turn at Timaru, and beware the Martian death-ray

Craters on Mars named after New Zealand locations



Craters on Venus named after New Zealanders

Batten (after Jean Batten, aviatrix)
Marsh (after Dame Ngaio Marsh, writer)


20 October 2005

Very Friday website hootenanny

T-shirts galore

You know you desperately want that Fraggle Rock, Ferris Bueller or Danger Mouse t-shirt! Find all your bad 80s nostalgia attire here...



Like Hotornot, but for kittens. Two pictures of kittens, and you click on the one you think is cuter. Then you find out the way other visitors to the site have voted. Surprisingly addictive. And if you type 'Wicket' into the search box you'll find one that looks just like an Ewok.


Futurama MP3s

From Matt Groening's animated sci-fi comedy. Includes Bender the robot's immortal line: 'Ok, but I don't want anyone thinking we're robosexuals. So if anyone asks, you're my debugger'.

And the quote from the politics episode (season 2, episode 3): 'He struck a chord with the voters when he promised not to go on a killing spree'. Amen to that.


Triangular Sheep

It's all the rage down Southland way, you know - well, actually it's more like a pyramid than a triangle, but then YOU try going for four years without a haircut and see how tidy you look...


Terrorists obviously can't afford a ten-speed these days

Two wheels: good. Two legs: terrorist suspect
By David Lister, Scotland Correspondent

WITH her year-round tan, long blonde hair and designer clothes, Sally Cameron does not look like a threat to national security. But the 34-year-old property developer has joined the ranks of Britain's most unlikely terrorist suspects after being held for hours for trespassing on a cycle path. She was arrested under the Terrorism Act for walking along a cycle path in the harbour area of Dundee.

She was walking from her office in Dundee to her home in the suburb of Broughty Ferry when she was arrested under new anti-terrorist legislation and held for four hours.

She said: "I've been walking to work every morning for months and months to keep fit. One day, I was told by a guard on the gate that I couldn't use the route any more because it was solely a cycle path and he said, if I was caught doing it again, I'd be arrested.

"The next thing I knew, the harbour master had driven up behind me with a megaphone, saying, 'You're trespassing, please turn back'. It was totally ridiculous. I started laughing and kept on walking. Cyclists going past were also laughing.

"But then two police cars roared up beside me and cut me off, like a scene from Starsky and Hutch, and officers told me I was being arrested under the Terrorism Act. The harbour master was waffling on and (saying that), because of September 11, I would be arrested and charged."

Ms Cameron, who said that at one stage one of the officers asked her to stop laughing, described the incident as "like a scene from the movie Erin Brockovich, with all the dock workers cheering me and telling me to give them hell". She said: "I was told that the cycle path was for cyclists only, as if walkers and not cyclists were the only ones likely to plant bombs. There are no signs anywhere saying there are to be no pedestrians.

"They took me to the police station and held me for several hours before charging me and releasing me."

She said that she was particularly galled by the letter from the procurator fiscal's office, which said that she would not be prosecuted even though "the evidence is sufficient to justify bringing you before the court on this criminal charge".

A spokesman for Forth Ports said: "We will robustly prosecute anyone who breaches these new security measures because they have been introduced by the Government and we are obliged to enforce them."

The Times, 17 October 2005

Carries a large axe, has a long beard, passionate hatred of orcs

Convicted Arsonist At Large

NewsRoom.co.nz Agency Story at 11:38 AM, 11 Oct 2005

Police in Cambridge are searching for a convicted arsonist who escaped from a secure unit this morning.

Shane Reid, 28, was serving a two-and-a-half year sentence following arson attacks on two schools last year.

Police believe Reid is on his way from Cambridge towards Hamilton.

He is described as a dwarf and police say he should be easily recognisable.


[Later reports noted that he was captured that afternoon - see the excellently-titled 'Police nab arsonist dwarf after taxi bid for freedom']

"Bitter? No, not bitter at all"

Marc Alexander: A Government at Last! Yeah Right
Wednesday, 19 October 2005, 4:33 pm

Labour clearly had the numbers to take a first stab at forming a government. But the resultant mishmash of important portfolios with Foreign Affairs and Revenue sitting outside the Executive bereft of the discipline of collective responsibility, is the ultimate in a cynical display of perk-grabbing hedonism. Clark, like a bulimic at the fridge of power, has been expediency personified. She hasn't let one principle interrupt her gorging at the footstool of history. She is a canny woman and there can be little doubt that she sees her time is nearly up. She has done everything and anything to stitch up a government with enough longevity to assure her immortality in Labour's Hall of Fame. In all probability, she will - in about a year - decide to stand aside knowing full well that her government which closely resembles the Edsel, will have as much future as the Hindenberg. She will then trot on to the next phase of her life leaving behind a Phil Goff/Steve Maharey bun fight over who will captain the ship out to the epicentre of the Bermuda Trangle.

Winston Peters, the taciturn political "vaudevillian"who turned a 10,362 majority into a 730 vote deficit, whose Party shed nearly half its MPs, and who tried to make a virtue out of a claim to stay on the cross-benches, has finally done what we all knew he would: he has accepted the baubles of Ministerial office. Could anybody be surprised? He hasn't just reluctantly accepted the post; he has stuck both hands out for the perks of power and filled his pockets with all the tokens, trinkets, the knives, forks and spoons of office. I can see him at the tailor’s being kitted in the sartorial splendour of deeper pockets lined with a waterproof fabric just to steal soup from the kitchens at Bellamy's!

The only surprise is that Winston is to be given the one Ministerial position that he has clearly demonstrated a decidedly negative aptitude for. When it comes to the substantive aspects on an issue he has the attention span of a meercat on a double espresso. Perhaps someone should tell him that being Foreign Affairs Minister isn't a licence to indulge in fleshly pleasures away from the spotlight of the domestic press corps, but it is an important role showcasing our country and all we stand for. No matter how you look at it, Winston will never project the image of competence that Phil Goff has demonstrated in that role. Asian nations in particular are likely to interpret Winston’s appointment as Foreign Minister as a sign of approval for his perceived anti-Asian views. It will make dealing with them seem like brain surgery performed with a chainsaw.

Peter Dunne’s ego will be sorely bruised by the 5,000 vote slash in his majority in Ohariu-Belmont; by the loss of two-thirds of support for his Party; and by the loss of five MPs. But most of all he will miffed that it is Winston, and not he, who is the leader of a centre party with the power to determine the shape of this government. Nevertheless, Dunne will be in his element as Minister of Revenue - he will relish the opportunity to have the media listen to him for a change. In a sense this will be a practice run for his next term as the new Jim Anderton, unencumbered as he will be from his two useless appendages. He will then be in a caucus of one liberated from endless soliloquies about the perils of the great moral outrages of the day. Freed from the expectations of a pretend party he will go on being an exceptional electorate MP and contribute much to future governments (be they Labour or National) as his political expediency and flexibility will allow.

[Courtesy of Louise and T. The full article is here. The 'two useless appendages' he refers to are Judy Turner and Gordon Copeland, obviously]

So in their 30s it's STDs, and in their 40s it's gambling? Great!

Media Monitoring

Henry Drive LIV - Louise Wallace
19 Oct 05 - 15:00 Item# LIVH3785653 Duration: 6.0 mins
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - INT

New problem gamblers, Auckland crime hotspots, Man steals wine.

Int Cameron McMillan Web Editor Stuff. Single women over 40 are the new at risk group for STDs. Sounds like a Shortland St story.

Professor Max Abbott found that women account for more than half of all NZers with gambling problems compared to 20% a decade ago.

Lonely women in their 30s go to bars looking for company but end up playing pokies and becoming addicted. Between two and three percent of NZers are pathological gamblers.

Newmarket Police have trawled through five years of crimes statistics and identified peak hours for crime. Many vehicles are stolen from Foodtown Greenlane carpark Monday to Wednesday during peak trading hours. Criminal activity peaks in Newmarket during Friday lunchtime. Mt Eden is a car crime hotspot. Most offending occurs between 8.00am and midnight.

Burglars aren't deterred by alarms and deadlocks. Four in ten Penrose businesses were broken into last year. Most dwelling burglaries happen in Epsom. New Plymouth man allegedly stole a cask of wine from Pak 'N Save yesterday and jumped into a stream thinking no one would follow him. He was wrong, an officer waited for him at the end of the stream and arrested him.

[Courtesy of Louise. Presumably a solution to the Auckland crime problem must be to evacuate Newmarket every Friday lunchtime]

They make it sound so appealing!

Drowning Season About To Begin!
Press Release by Water Safety New Zealand at 1:48 PM, 20 Oct 2005

The up coming Labour Weekend well see large numbers of boaties, fishers plus other water recreational users head back to the water with the intent of enjoying themselves. Labour Weekend typically heralds the return of summer activities, but unfortunately it inevitably coincides with an increase in drownings. Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ) predicts that over the next three months up to 45 people can be expected to drown!

WSNZ, Executive Director, Alan Muir states, "with most people not having been in or out on the water over the winter, Labour Weekend tends to be the first opportunity for some time to indulge in their favourite water related pastime and blow out the cobwebs. Unfortunately they tend to forget about the basic safety rules and therefore do not consider their own safety or the responsibilities they have for those in their care. Enjoy the activity but do not drop your guard!"

To the end of September this year 77 drownings had occurred, 31 of those in recreation activities and 46 non-recreation related. These figures reflect the positive drop witnessed in drownings over the past decade and more. Muir said that, "It was particularly pleasing to see the drop in recreation drownings during the first nine months of the year, 12 less than the average for the past five years. Non recreational drownings are average for the same period."


[Courtesy of Louwrens. Recreational drowning is one of my favourite pastimes]

17 October 2005

In other news, he also left the oven on

Roy chose wrong box on celebrant form

He ticked the wrong box on the marriage celebrant form but Eric Roy assured people he didn't also vote for Labour by accident.

In the leadup to the general election, the Invercargill National MP claimed he had been struck off the register of marriage celebrants and slammed Internal Affairs for saying he had removed himself.

Internal Affairs denied this was the case and maintained Mr Roy had asked to be taken off the register.

The Southland Times requested the document in question from Internal Affairs. It shows Mr Roy ticked a box saying he did not want to remain a marriage celebrant.

Mr Roy admitted his error but said he also had to go to lengths to recover the form to find out.

"I have ticked the wrong box ... why I did I don't know."

When asked if he might have done the same thing at the election, Mr Roy laughed and said: "Anything's possible but I don't think so. I checked it three times."

- Southland Times, 17 October 2005

14 October 2005

An exciting career in a growth industry

Priests queue up to qualify as exorcists
By Richard Owen

A decline in faith among the young is leading to an increase in demand for rites to ‘drive out the Devil’

ABOUT 120 priests and theologians gathered in Rome yesterday, anxious to learn the increasingly demanded rite of exorcism. “There is no doubt that the Devil is intervening more in the life of man these days,” they were told.

Father Paolo Scarafoni said: “It is indispensable that every priest knows how to discern between demonic possession and psychological problems.” He was opening a four-month course entitled “Exorcism and the Prayer of Liberation” at the Regina Apostolorum pontifical university in Rome.

Father Gabriele Amorth, the Vatican’s chief exorcist, said that there were nine priests carrying out exorcisms in Rome. “I have carried out more than 40,000 exorcisms,” he said. “Satan exists, and targets the young above all. When faith is in decline, idolatry enters in.”

Father Vincenzo Taraborelli, one of the exorcists in Rome, said that the number of exorcisms had more than doubled since he took up his post as a parish priest 15 years ago. “There is always someone sitting in the pews waiting for my help,” he said. Most were aged between 20 and 40 and many were psychologically disturbed. He urged them to see a doctor or psychiatrist, but in other cases he concluded after careful examination that they were “genuinely possessed”.

He said: “Films about exorcism tend to exaggerate, but the victims really do scream and yell in strange, incomprehensible tongues and roll the whites of their eyes.”

He made sure that he was always accompanied by a nun, a lay assistant and “preferably the relatives of the possessed person, to provide support”.

Father Gabriele Nanni, another exorcist, said that the symptoms of possession were “when someone speaks or understands languages they normally do not; when their physical strength is disproportionate to their body size or age; when they are suddenly knowledgeable about occult practices; when they have a physical aversion to sacred things, such as the communion host or prayers”.

The Italian authorities are alarmed by the rise in the number of Satanic cults, many involving drugs. In February two members of a heavy metal band in Milan called the Beasts of Satan were given prison sentences of 30 and 16 years for the killing of two girls and a youth during “devil worship”.

The Roman Catholic exorcism ritual, adopted in 1614, was updated six years ago. The priest begins with prayers and the sprinkling of holy water. He then makes the sign of the cross while reciting a formula denouncing the Devil.

The exorcism drive has the backing of Pope Benedict XVI, who recently sent greetings to a convention of exorcists and urged them them to “carry on your important work in the service of the Church”.

- The Times, 14 October 2005

Conservation agency strangely reluctant to protect animal likely not to exist

MP promises bill for protection of moose

Parliament will be asked to protect Fiordland's long-lost moose after a Canadian scientist vouched for tests that hinted the beasts might still be alive.

Invercargill MP Eric Roy yesterday said he would introduce a private members bill to prevent the as-yet unseen moose population from being culled as an exotic pest animal.

The bill would support the Game and Forest Foundation, which last week challenged the Department of Conservation and the Conservation Authority to exempt moose from the "extermination" provisions of the National Parks Act. The agencies stopped short of offering full protection for the moose, but said controlling an animal not seen for so long "might not be the first priority".

Mr Roy urged the agencies to protect the moose. If they did not, his bill would save it from an agency-backed cull, and from hunters who wanted to try to bag an animal last confirmed seen in 1952.

"This is the only successful liberation of moose in the Southern Hemisphere. If there are surviving moose, as recent DNA tests indicate, then we should protect them in the spirit of conservation, science, and public interest," Mr Roy said.

Otago scientist Ken Tustin last week had DNA confirmation that a pair of hair samples found in Fiordland in 2001 and 2002 were from moose.

Moose were released at Supper Cove, Fiordland in 1910, but were last confirmed seen by hunters in 1952. Mr Tustin has seen numerous moose "signs" since starting to look for them in the early 1970s, but has yet to find one in the wild.

"The unique nature of these animals means we must ensure they are protected," Mr Roy said.

- Otago Daily Times, 11 October 2005

[If by 'unique' he means 'possibly imaginary', I agree with him]

How not to convince Americans

'Supporters of intelligent design think that if they see something they don't understand, it must be God; they fail to recognise that they themselves are part of evolution. It appeals to ignorance, which is why there is a lot of it in American politics at the moment'

- Steve Jones, Professor of Genetics at University College London, failing to win over the Christians.

On the meaning of Tingo

Tingo, nakkele and other wonders

English is a rich and innovative language. But you can't help feeling we're missing out. While English speakers have to describe the action of laughing so much that one side of your abdomen hurts (hardly an economical phrase), the Japanese have the much more efficient expression: katahara itai.

Of course, the English language has borrowed words for centuries. Khaki and croissant are cases in point.

So perhaps it's time to be thinking about adding others to the lexicon. Malay, for instance, has gigi rongak - the space between the teeth. The Japanese have bakku-shan - a girl who appears pretty from behind but not from the front. Then there's a nakkele - a man who licks whatever the food has been served on (from Tulu, India).

These fabulous examples have been collected by author Adam Jacot de Boinod into The Meaning Of Tingo - a collection of words and phrases from around the world.
"What I'm really trying to do is celebrate the joy of foreign words (in a totally unjudgmental way) and say that while English is a great language, one shouldn't be surprised there are many others having, as they do, words with no English equivalent," he says.

Having pored over 280 dictionaries and trawled 140 websites, he is also convinced that a country's dictionary says more about a culture than a guide book. Hawaiians, for instance, have 108 words for sweet potato, 65 for fishing nets - and 47 for banana.

The German propensity for compound words pays dividends. Kummerspeck is a German word which literally means grief bacon: it is the word that describes the excess weight gained from emotion-related overeating.

A Putzfimmel is a mania for cleaning and Drachenfutter - literally translated as dragon fodder - are the peace offerings made by guilty husbands to their wives.

Or there's die beleidigte Leberwurst spielen - to stick one's lower lip out in a sulk (literally, to play the insulted liver sausage). Perhaps it's a Backpfeifengesicht - a face that cries out for a fist in it.

Words and phrases can suggest the character of a nation.

The Dutch vocabulary, for instance, seems to confirm the nation's light-hearted reputation. The word uitwaaien is Dutch for walking in windy weather for fun.

The Maori-speakers of the Cook Islands sound like an enthusiastic bunch: the word toto is the shout given in a game of hide-and-seek to show readiness.

Perhaps the Inuit notion of a good time must be, of necessity, a little more constrained. The long winter nights must fly by as they play a game called igunaujannguaq, literally meaning frozen walrus carcass. (The game involves the person in the centre of a ring trying to remain stiff as he is passed around the ring, hand over hand.)

But it's those fun-loving people in the Netherlands who should have the last word - the phrase for skimming stones is as light-hearted as the action: plimpplampplettere.

The Albanians exhibit a strange fascination for facial hair. There are no fewer than 27 separate expressions for the moustache.

Madh means a bushy moustache, posht is a moustache hanging down at the ends and fshes is a long broom-like moustache with bristly hairs.

This hirsute obsession is not confined to moustaches. Vetullkalem describes pencil-thin eyebrows, vetullperpjekur are joined together eyebrows and those arched like the crescent moon are vetullhen.

Perhaps nothing so intriguingly displays differences between nations as the unusual occupations of some of its citizens. Geshtenjapjeks is an Albanian who sells roast chestnuts on the street. A koshatnik in Russian is a dealer of stolen cats.

A kualanapuhi is a Hawaiian officer who keeps the flies away from the sleeping king by waving a brush made of feathers. In Turkey a cigerci is a seller of liver and lungs and the Danish have a fyrassistent - an assistant lighthouse keeper.

And Spanish speakers in central America have a description of a government employee who only shows up on payday - an aviador.

Which brings us back to de Boinod's title: tingo is an invaluable word from the Pascuense language of Easter Island meaning "to borrow objects from a friend's house, one by one, until there's nothing left".

The Meaning of Tingo by Adam Jacot de Boinod is published by Penguin.

- BBC News, 26 September 2005

12 October 2005

Councillors aghast: booklet discusses what young people actually spend their time doing

Phrases in booklet concern council

A booklet produced by the Nelson Youth Council describing Anzac Park as a nice setting for "the occasional spot of underage drinking" has prompted a "please explain" from Nelson city councillors.

The Top 50 Things To Do (in the Nelson Region) was produced by the youth council last year, but on Tuesday youth councillor Alexandra Jackson was forced to defend the publication at a meeting of the city council's community services committee.

The council had received a complaint from a concerned citizen when the booklet was reprinted this year.

The offending sections advertised the Church Steps as being "for those who enjoy a spot of recreational public drinking or a spot of romance under the starry skies", and Anzac Park as "a popular spot for picnics, afternoon naps in the sun and the occasional spot of dodgy underage drinking".

Cr Jan Fryer led the criticism of the booklet, saying the offending paragraphs were brought to her attention "the very day" her husband, who works for Nelmac, had his life threatened by drunks in Anzac Park.

"I don't like the thought of him going to work each day not knowing whether he'll come home or not and this sort of thing. Although I can see it was written in a tongue-in-cheek way, it doesn't help."

She was relieved the city council was not associated with the guide, she said. The city council logo was not printed on the booklet.

Cr Gail Collingwood said while it was a "great little booklet", she did not think it should be "encouraging people to do something illegal".

Cr Denise Henigan defended the guide, and said although she did not agree with some of the items she had not really noticed them until the complaint was laid.

"Young people have a different sort of voice, a different way of talking and that's reflected in there."

Miss Jackson said the guide had been well-received by young people, and positive feedback had come from the Ministry of Youth Development about it. "It's a little bit sarcastic."

This was the kind of writing young people wanted to read, as it made the guide more interesting, she said.

- Nelson Mail, 12 October 2005

11 October 2005

If you're crappy and you know it...

"You've been a very naughty boy! I'll make you scream for mercy! That'll be a hundred quid, darling, cash if you don't mind." That was the message from the [Tory] chairman, Francis Maude. He told them the British people thought they were crap. They believed that individual Tories were crap, that their policies were crap, and their outlook was crap.

Of course he didn't use those exact words. Instead he used charts. Nobody thinks the Tories shared their values. More than half the population thinks they're stuck in the past, that they don't care about ordinary people. He illustrated his talk with what could hardly be called a PowerPoint presentation; more an impotence slide show.

He had met a single mother during the campaign and she had told him that the Tories disapproved of people like her. "Too often, we sound like people who think the only good mother is a married mother!" It was time, he didn't quite say, for Tories to fan out around Blackpool, find single mothers, and give them each a big old hug. Or a packet of Smarties.

The party not only had no right to be in power; it had no right even to survive. Because it was crap!

The platform rose as one at the end of his speech, but only a quarter of the hall followed their example, mostly the younger people, such as there are here. Many of the older delegates don't stand up because they're worried they won't be able to sit down again.

Malcolm Rifkind was the first of the leadership candidates up. His message, familiar after only one afternoon, was also "we are crap", though expressed more mildly, and alongside subtle hints about his own abilities and experience. "I have known Gordon Brown for a very long time: he is a big beast and a very tough man!" Only he, he implied, could tame this mangy but ferocious lion.

A rightwing Tory MP turned to me and said: "The problem with Malcolm is that he looks like a cross between Miss Jean Brodie and Charles Hawtrey."

As for Tony Blair, Mr Rifkind continued, "he can persuade most people of most things, and himself of almost anything. He is Bill Clinton without the sex - so far as we know!"

The conference roared with delight. After being told they were crap, they were glad to hear that the Labour leaders were crap too.

- Simon Hoggart on the 2005 Tory conference in Blackpool, Guardian, 4 October 2005

10 October 2005

A proud day for the export education industry

Taiwanese witch says NZ the best place to study

A Taiwanese witch says New Zealand is the best place to study the occult.

Ching Hsuan was quoted in the Taipei Times yesterday as saying that in New Zealand, mysticism and naturopathy were categorised as professional fields of study, while in Taiwan, these disciplines were regarded as superstition.

She said she had studied mysticism in New Zealand and Australia and was one of only a few Taiwanese people to undergo training abroad in witchcraft.

Ms Ching said she first attended the Australian College of Natural Medicine (ACNM) in Melbourne, to study witchcraft and naturopathy, and then went to a "mysticism school" in New Zealand "where she received her licenses in parapsychology and mysticism". She did not identify the NZ school.

Meantime, she also trained as an intern in naturopathy at a local health clinic in New Zealand.

Ms Ching said that the doctrine of modern witches made it clear that "as long as nothing harmful is done to people, you can do whatever you want".

White "magic" involved the use of magnetic fields, the four elements of the earth, floral remedies, seashells, and natural other things to help people in their spiritual restructuring and healing. Black "magic" involved invading other people's space and influencing their minds, and most decent people were unwilling to use it, she said.

The newspaper reported that she had also created her own technique of dance therapy and worked part-time as an instructor in Latin American dancing.

- NZPA, 8 October 2005

09 October 2005

Or perhaps it's just because they're smelly?

'This article considers the increasing popularity of showering in the UK. We use this case as a means of exploring some of the dimensions and dynamics of everyday practice. Drawing upon a range of documentary evidence, we begin by sketching three possible explanations for the current constitution of showering as a private, increasingly resource-intensive routine. We begin by reviewing the changing infrastructural, rhetorical and moral positioning of showering. We then consider how the multiple and contingent constituents of showering are arranged and re-arranged in and through the practice itself...'

- Abstract of ‘Explaining Showering: a Discussion of the Material, Conventional and Temporal Dimensions of Practice’, by Martin Hand, Elizabeth Shove and Dale Southerton, Sociological Research Online

07 October 2005

Prejudice to the effective conduct of bureaucratic secrecy

Freedom to interfere? No minister, it's too sensitive
By Sean O'Neill

A QUARTER of a century has elapsed since Yes, Minister was first broadcast, but the spirit of Sir Humphrey Appleby is still alive and kicking in the corridors of power.

The Times has learnt that, in a piece of pure Sir Humphrey logic, Whitehall has blocked a freedom of information request about the workings of the Freedom of Information Act because the information that might be freed is far too secret for public consumption.

Denying the request, a mandarin wrote: "Releasing information which would allow analysis of policy decisions affecting the operation of the (FoI) Act would of itself be detrimental to the Act's operation because it may reveal sensitivities."

The refusal, from the Histories, Openness and Records Unit of the Cabinet Office, has proved "mind boggling" for the academic who submitted the original FoI request. Alasdair Roberts, of the Maxwell School of Syracuse University, New York, had asked how many FoI requests had been passed for consideration to the Government's Central Clearing House and from there to the Cabinet Office. It was, he said, "an academic exercise" to gauge how the Act was working.

Professor Roberts had not asked for specifics but for details of referral systems, types of cases, their classifications and file numbers. It took the Cabinet Office five months to tell him that what he had asked for was too sensitive, might jeopardise national security and could interfere with the development of policy.

Professor Roberts, who holds British citizenship, said: "I am staggered at this decision, which is wholly inconsistent with the spirit of the law. In other countries, centralised clearance processes create long delays, and sometimes opportunities for political interference. I wished to know what cases were being routed to Cabinet Office, and how long the review was taking."

But Sir Humphrey is having none of it. Enabling people to understand what is happening in Whitehall, his successors decreed, would fall foul of section 36(2)(c) of the Act: "Prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs."

Challenging the Whitehall addiction to secrecy is a handful of junior civil servants, many earning less than £20,000 a year. The 33 caseworkers handling appeals against refusals to disclose documents face a backlog of more than 1,200 cases — which at the current workrate may take eight years to clear.

- The Times, 3 October 2005

Ronnie Barker's best gags

"The search for the man who terrorises nudist camps with a bacon slicer goes on. Inspector Lemuel Jones had a tip-off this morning, but hopes to be back on duty tomorrow."

"Have you heard the one about the retired general who said he had not had sex since 1956? His friend said, 'That's a long time ago.' 'I don't know,' the general replied. 'It's only 20.27 now."

As Fletcher in Porridge, when playing monopoly: "Would you Adam and Eve it? Go to jail!"

"There was a strange happening during a performance of Elgar's Sea Pictures at a concert hall in Bermuda tonight, when the man playing the triangle disappeared."

"Next week we'll be investigating rumours that the president of the dairy council has become a Mason, and goes around giving his colleagues the secret milkshake."

"The man who invented the zip fastener was today honoured with a lifetime peerage. He will now be known as the Lord of the Flies."

"The toilets at a local police station have been stolen. Police say they have nothing to go on."

"In a packed programme tonight we will be talking to an out-of-work contortionist who says he can no longer make ends meet."

"The prime minister held a meeting with the cabinet today. He also spoke to the bookcase and argued with the chest of drawers."

"Following the dispute with the domestic servants' union at Buckingham Palace today, the Queen, a radiant figure in a white silk gown and crimson robe, swept down the main staircase and through the hall. She then dusted the cloakroom and vacuumed the lounge."

"The West Drayton man who has kept himself awake every night for 17 years by snoring has at least found the answer. He's going to sleep in another room."

- Guardian, 4 October 2005

[Courtesy of Louise]

Kicking a man when he's down

'[There's] nothing odd about [George] Hawkins saying he doesn't expect to be in Cabinet. This is a bit like your Granny saying she doesn't expect to go out with George Clooney'

- Trans Tasman, considering candidates for Cabinet, 6 October 2005

28 September 2005

'You will enjoy Mr Brezhnev's speech - or we'll shoot you'

'Among the most time-consuming activities of the KGB in India was the preparation for [Soviet leader Leonid] Brezhnev's state visit in 1973. As usual it was necessary to ensure that the General Secretary was received with what appeared to be rapturous enthusiasm.

Since Brezhnev was such a dreary orator, this was no easy task. His speech in the great square in front of Delhi's Red Fort presented a particular challenge. According to KGB estimates, two million people were present - perhaps the largest audience to whom Brezhnev had ever spoken.

The speech was extraordinarily long-winded and heavy going. As he droned on and night began to fall, some of the audience began to drift away but were turned back by police for fear of offending the Soviet leader. Though even Brezhnev sensed that not all was well, the KGB claimed credit for "creating favourable conditions" for his Indian triumph'

- The Times, 17 September 2005, in an article "Indira's India and the KGB"

'Colonel Pookie, your jellimeat is ready'

For the pet-owner who has everything - this company will compose a photo of your Tiger or Rex wearing a military uniform of your choice? Sergeant Fido? Squadron Leader Tinkles? Your pets have always wanted to stand in the front line of the defence of democracy, right?


[Courtesy of Sanders]

24 September 2005

The WWI cartoons of Abian Wallgren

What better way for a young US Marine to spend his spare time than to compose handy hints for his colleagues in the trenches? Wallgren's sprightly sense of humour remained intact despite the trevails of the trenches.

Abian Wallgren

23 September 2005

Get your online fantasy personas innoculated immediately

Deadly plague hits Warcraft world

A deadly virtual plague has broken out in the online game World of Warcraft. Although limited to only a few of the game's servers the numbers of characters that have fallen victim is thought to be in the thousands. Originally it was thought that the deadly digital disease was the result of a programming bug in a location only recently added to the Warcraft game. However, it now appears that players kicked off the plague and then kept it spreading after the first outbreak.

[The game's creator] Blizzard regularly introduces new places to explore in the online world. In the last week, it added the Zul'Gurub dungeon which gave players a chance to confront and kill the fearsome Hakkar - the god of Blood. In his death throes Hakkar hits foes with a "corrupted blood" infection that can instantly kill weaker characters.

The infection was only supposed to affect those in the immediate vicinity of Hakkar's corpse but some players found a way to transfer it to other areas of the game by infecting an in-game virtual pet with it. This pet was then unleashed in the orc capital city of Ogrimmar and proved hugely effective as the Corrupted Blood plague spread from player to player.

Although computer controlled characters did not contract the plague, they are said to have acted as "carriers" and infected player-controlled characters they encountered.

Many online discussion sites were buzzing with reports from the disaster zones with some describing seeing "hundreds" of bodies lying in the virtual streets of the online towns and cities.

"The debate amongst players now is if it really was intentional although due to the effects of the problem it seems unlikely," Paul Younger, an editor on the unofficial worldofwarcraft.net site, told the BBC News website.

"It's giving players something to talk about and could possibly be considered the first proper 'world event'", he said.

Luckily the death of a character in World of Warcraft is not final so all those killed were soon resurrected.

The "Corrupted Blood" plague is not the first virtual disease to break out in online worlds. In May 2000 many players of The Sims were outraged when their game characters died because of an infection contracted from a dirty virtual guinea pig.

BBC News, 22 September 2005

Commendable optimism, there

Discarded MP Can Still WOW Them

Press Release by Green Party at 4:51 PM, 22 Sep 2005

A recently discarded Member of Parliament will begin his personal recycling process this week with an entry in The Wonderful World of Wearable Arts (WOW) in its first Wellington season.

Green Party Arts and Culture and Waste-free Spokesperson Mike Ward, who "was an artist in his previous life", has entered four earlier WOW events in Nelson and won an award in 2001 for his 'Sir Edmonds' design. His latest work is entered in this year's open section.

"My piece this year, 'The Emperors Entourage', consists of two large wearable canvases and is a play on the Hans Christian Anderson tale 'The Emperors New Clothes'," the former MP says.


The Greens would require only a paltry 18 percent of the special votes to lift their overall total to 6.2 percent and allow Mr Ward to grace Parliament with his presence.

[Postscript: It seems the optimism wasn't wholly misplaced. Junglette points out that Ward won the supreme WoW award for The Emperor's Entourage]

Slippery George

Eagle-eyed Very Friday readers will recall a Russian version of this eerie ever-falling rag-doll. Now someone's taken the logical next step. Instead of a Russian girl, it's now George W. Bush. He's quite flexible for a President, you know.

Slippery George

[Courtesy of Alpen]

22 September 2005

Either a very small Korean, or a very large toilet

'Newsweek screwed up. Nearly everyone admits that, including the magazine's editors, who retracted an inadequately sourced report that US interrogators had flushed a Korean down the toilet at Guantanamo Bay'

- Yomiuri Shimbun

An exciting rebranding can really make the difference

'Meanwhile, as part of the same review process carried out by the Financial Services Skills Council, the Chartered Insurance Institute is withdrawing its Financial Planning Certificate and replacing it with the Certificate in Financial Planning'

- Jersey Evening Post (UK)

15 September 2005

'The National Party plan for this election seems to be to attempt to scare the voters of New Zealand... did I say the National Party?'

- Dr Don Brash

'I don't want any candidate to be talking about his testicles, to be frank'

- Dr Brash lays down his bottom line for coalition negotiations

And why not let them eat cake, while you're at it?

"Who cares if they take a TV? These people have been poor all their life - let them have that ONE moment of touching what they've never had!"

- Celine Dion has the final say on the New Orleans disaster

'Depressed Cupboard Cheesecake, your breakfast is ready...'

List of unusual personal names from Wikipedia, including the ever-popular 'Yorkshire Bank PLC Are Fascist Bastards'


Intricate Japanese food art

My lunch at school was never this pretty...


How to make an X-Wing out of a Paris Metro ticket

Assuming you happen to have a Paris Metro ticket lying around, that is.


The most entertaining use of the word "dog" in a judicial context

"There's things I choose to do, like, if I go in a store and choose to take a Snickers bar, if you catch me, you catch me. If not, I'm going to go home and eat it up and go on about my business, dog."

- Glenn A. Reed, 31, upon being sentenced in Waco, Texas, in July to 99 years in prison as a habitual criminal (after rejecting a plea bargain that would have meant a 15-year sentence), San Francisco Chronicle, 11 July 2005

A constructive discourse on banana protection hardware

Sure, you've seen banana protectors before on VFE (haven't you?). But now I think it's quite important that you read the sales pitch this dedicated Trademe dealer has concocted to back up their culturally significant banana-protection-related sale. 7800 hits and counting...

An example of some of the comments:

"I have one of these but instead of gloating, I would like to pass on a hint or two for those with young families. Why not use it to create banana shaped watermelon pieces for the kids. Or a 'banana tie' for Dad. Last christmas we got a whole lot of bananas and made banana shaped bananas"

And of course, the inevitable question:

'Is there an option for a lockable version? Fruit theft is ripe at my worksite...'


[Courtesy of Mrs G]

Subtlety is not a strong point of architectural criticism

'Critics described the initial proposal as "transvestites caught in a gale"'.

And Brad Pitt is involved too!

Check out the article if you don't believe me, 'cos there's a picture (of the transvestite buildings, that is). And if you don't mind quotes scurrilously taken out of context, see here where Brad says 'I'm really gay about the whole thing'. Oo-er.

- Guardian, 14 September 2005

Attending to the pressing affairs of state

"US President George W Bush writes a note to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a Security Council meeting at the United Nations. It reads: 'I think I may need a bathroom break? Is this possible'"

See photo at: www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,0a14457a205882,00.html

[Courtesy of Junglette]

14 September 2005

The real reason why Australia lost the Ashes

"You can have your rugby tests, you can have international soccer, but this is what matters and there has been a frittering away of the spirit and he [Mr Beazley] holds that weasel [Mr Howard] responsible for it. He's [Howard] lost it for us, we will never forget, it's a crime"

- A spokesman for Kim Beazley, Australia's Leader of the Opposition, maintains the rage

Ein Volk, ein Reich ... und eine Disko

For more than half a century, historians have wondered what the Nazis would have done had they won the second world war. Now the matter can be settled. A report, unread for 65 years, reveals the Nazis' top priority once they had destroyed the allies, exterminated the Jews and occupied Europe. They were going to build a big, flash nightspot in Berlin.

"It'll be the most beautiful, the most modern, the most elegant in Europe", enthused the report's author, Giuseppe Renzetti. "The project is said to have met with the ardent approval of the F├╝hrer."

Renzetti, Italy's consul in Berlin, told his superiors that already, in mid-1940, the Nazis were preparing their capital for the tourist boom they expected would follow victory. He understood "a manager has already been found for the nightclub and that it had been decided to restrict entry to foreigners, the diplomatic corps and the members of Berlin [high] society."

Extracts from the report, dated July 23 1940, were published in [Italian newspaper] Corriere della Sera yesterday. Italy's former consul was as close as any foreigner to Hitler; Goebbels wrote that Renzetti could almost be seen as a Nazi. To compile his report the diplomat interviewed top officials including the SS leader, Heinrich Himmler.

Renzetti, who had acted as a go-between, carrying messages from Hitler to Mussolini, was consul in Berlin from 1938 until 1941 when he was posted to Stockholm. He died near Pisa in 1953.

- Guardian, 13 September 2005

More from Planet Cruise

'I felt honoured to have volunteer Scientology ministers on the set. They were helping the crew. When I'm working on a movie, I do anything I can to help the people I'm spending time with. I believe in communication. The volunteer Scientology ministers were there to help the sick and injured'

- Tom Cruise on having fully staffed Scientology tents on the set of War of the Worlds

'[Women] smell good. They look pretty. I love women. I do'

- So, not gay then.

13 September 2005

Of course if you eat the chocolate you wouldn't be able to fit the clothes anyway

“Our goal is to celebrate chocolate,” Sylvie Douce told journalists gathered in the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Beijing, “and to show that it is more than just a food. Here in the world’s largest country, we want to introduce people to the many ways that one can experience chocolate, using not just the mouth, but all the senses. And our exhibition of chocolate haut couture will show you just how versatile it can be.”

Ms Douce (of the Paris Salon du Chocolat) was introducing a fashion show in which the models were dressed in clothes made entirely from chocolate. After the show, in which women strode the catwalk wearing confections made by twenty of the world’s finest chocolatiers (from France, Belgium, and Russia), model Li Chunzhi said. “This is the first time I have ever dressed in chocolate. It feels so fresh, and is very different from any other show I’ve ever modelled in. But you have to be very careful about dressing, and not stay under the lights for too long, otherwise your clothes start to melt. Perhaps this is what the Jin dynasty poet Lu Shiheng had in mind, when he said that ‘beauty is a feast in itself’.”

- South China Morning Post, 11 June 2005, quoted in Private Eye

12 September 2005

How about a 'sitting round drinking beer strike' next?

Students Declare Noodle Strike At Massey University
Press Release by Massey University Students Association at 12:57 PM, 12 Sep 2005

Students have today set up camp on Massey University grounds and placed themselves on a Noodle Strike in response to the decision by the University Council to request an exemption to the Annual Fee Movement Limit from the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) in order to increase Massey University student fees by 10% in 2006.

The students will be living in tents and eating only 2-minute noodles to symbolise the increased hardship Massey students would face if the proposed fee increase was approved. The students intend to make full use of the University utilities their money is funding...

["Back in my day we didn't protest by eating pot noodles - we poked ourselves in the eyes with hot coals! Cuh, I dunno - students these days are just soft", etc. etc.]

10 September 2005

...They Fight Crime!

First featured in the Very Friday Email over three years ago, this random TV-show tagline generator still entertains. See how hard it is to restrain yourself from clicking and clicking and clicking...?

A sample offering:

'He's a notorious guitar-strumming librarian who knows the secret of the alien invasion. She's a radical cat-loving museum curator from aristocratic European stock. They fight crime!'


08 September 2005

Mmm, do I smell the delicious aroma of tiger urine?

'Tiger' dish was donkey

BEIJING: A restaurant in northeast China has been raided and closed for listing stir-fried tiger meat on its menu, a dish that turned out to be donkey dressed with tiger urine.

The Hufulou restaurant in Hailin city, in Heilongjiang province, is barely a kilometre from the Hengdaohezi Siberian Tiger Park, home to a species that is among the world's 10 most endangered. It was offering a dish of stir-fried tiger meat with chillies for 800 yuan ($98), and raw tiger meat at 7000 yuan a kilogram, the China Daily reported.

Diners could wash it down with a bottle of wine pickled with tiger bone.

When asked how the restaurant obtained the meat, a waiter reportedly said the owner had good connections within the tiger park and got the meat of dead tigers.

Police subsequently raided the restaurant and the owner confessed the so-called tiger meat was donkey meat, dressed with tiger urine to give it a "special" flavour.

The eatery was closed for inspection, the China Daily said. It was not clear how many customers had ordered the feast or where the restaurant obtained the tiger urine.

The Australian, 9 September 2005

[Courtesy of Tibby]

07 September 2005

Election website special

Entertaining internet samizdat techniques are making the 2005 election race more interesting than usual. Try these websites out for size:

In which a cute wee Don Brash gets put through his paces by the Labour spindoctors. If only they had him dancing like a Cossack...

National Party billboard maker
Have a look at the other amusing efforts, or try making one yourself! Here's my feeble effort.

Some thoughts on cricket, on the eve of the deciding Ashes Test

"How can you tell your wife you are just popping out to play a match and then not come back for five days?"

- Rafael Benitez, manager of Liverpool FC, struggles to understand cricket

"Cricketers don't spit. Women really hate that."

- The Guardian's chief sports writer Richard Williams posits his theory that not spitting is the chief reason why more women are seeming to prefer cricket to football

"It's much better than being a footballer - in that game half the nation hates you because you play for the wrong club. That must be hell."

- Rachael Flintoff, England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff's wife, has a better reason why she prefers cricket to football

05 September 2005

Also, don't irritate or patronise them

Warning Not To Confuse Parrots

Press Release by Environment Bay of Plenty at 11:12 AM, 01 Sep 2005

An Australian parrot that is damaging crops in the Bay of Plenty should never be confused with the protected native kaka, warns Environment Bay of Plenty and the Department of Conservation.

Last month, more than 1000 people called a special number to report sightings of the brightly-coloured Eastern Rosella, which is a surveillance pest animal in Environment Bay of Plenty's regional pest strategy. They can carry diseases that are a potential threat to native parrots.

"We don't want people to get confused," says Environment Bay of Plenty's pest animal coordinator David Moore. "If you want to control Eastern Rosellas, please make sure you have positively identified them first."

[Suppose I'd be quite confused if someone mistook me for a kaka too]

28 August 2005

Someone should've told Status Quo about this years ago

“Hello there..."

“I’m Emil Berglund, project leader for the World Championship in Guitar Throwing, which is taking place at the Balsta Festival in the Eskilstuna area this weekend.”

“What is the world record?”

“It stands at 23.4 metres. That may not seem far, but an electric guitar is really heavy.”

“But it isn’t just the distance that counts, is it?”

“No, the jury award marks for finesse and originality in the throwing technique as well.”

“Is there a difference between throwing an electric and an acoustic guitar?”

“Yes, an acoustic guitar has completely different aerodynamics. We have specialised in electric guitars at this competition, but I’m going to see whether we can have two classes next year.”

“Which is better for throwing – a Fender or a Hagstrom?”

“The world record is held by a Fender, and that make has been doing well this year. We’re handing out 25 Fenders to participants and hope that will suffice. But there are some throwers who are more professional, and they’re allowed to bring their own equipment.”

- Gothenburg Metro, 20 May 2005, quoted in Private Eye

Very Friday website roundup #3


A gazetteer of fabricated knowledge. Sample:

New Testament [From Uncyclopedia]

The New Testament was the long-awaited sequel to the Old Testament, which in those days was just called the Testament. In 2001, George Lucas wrote this tale of a young saviour, Anakin Christ, who travelled from planet to planet, fighting against evil for the redemption of all races. This sequel was received with mixed reviews. The primary complaint the critics had was with the character St. Jar Jar Iscariot. The work is divided into three books, much like its predecessor, titled "The Philistine Menace", "Attack of the Galatians", and "Revenge of the Psalms". Controversy still rages over the true documentary nature of the New Testament. No historical record of Anakin Christ has been found, and the character called Han Solo the Baptist is rumoured to have actually been a samurai whose story Lucas lifted verbatim (but translated) from the oeuvre of Japanese director Hello Kitty without acknowledgement.


Thinking Machine 4

'Play chess against a transparent intelligence, its evolving thought process visible on the board before you. The artwork is an artificial intelligence program, ready to play chess with the viewer. If the viewer confronts the program, the computer's thought process is sketched on screen as it plays'


[Okay, so it wouldn't run on my work PC, but I hope it'll run on yours, because it looks very cool]

Bad Book Covers

A splendidly ugly collection. Best title: 'Is your Volkswagen a sex symbol?'


Skeletal systems of 22 cartoon characters

Very cool, and not a little weird too. My, such big eye-sockets!


Regret The Error

Regret The Error reports on corrections, retractions,clarifications and trends regarding accuracy and honesty in the media.


27 August 2005

So you weren't very impressed with India, then?

"From the moment that Sourav Ganguly jumped like a scalded cat to the first delivery he bowled, [Shane] Bond must have known that he was in for some easy pickings. These days, the world's premier fast bowlers look at Ganguly and see one of those fairground attractions, a stationary prize to knock off with the fast straight bullet, and there was a macabre predictability to the hapless fend that cost him his wicket.

The others were scarcely blameless either. Virender Sehwag rarely ventures past 20 these days, and both he and Mohammad Kaif perished to ugly flails that showed scant awareness of the fact that India needed to score at only four-an-over. Yuvraj Singh, who manages an innings of substance about as frequently as the Olympic Games are staged, perished in patented style, nibbling at one while the feet didn't so much as twitch, and Ajit Agarkar then showcased his allround worthlessness with a shot that was a mirror image of that played by Yuvraj.

If Greg Chappell, who has to coach this rabble for another two seasons, had packed his bags then and there, you could scarcely have blamed him. On a deck that was clearly made for run-scoring, India were in danger of putting up a total that would have caused blushes in the Namibian dressing room"

- Dileep Premachandran is slightly unimpressed with the Indian team after the NZ v India one-dayer at Bulawayo, 26 August 2005.

[NZ beat India by 51 runs, with Shane Bond taking personal best figures of 9-3-19-6. The match scorecard is here]

25 August 2005

Never fear, the Gnome Squad is here

11-day police operation nets cache of 40 gnomes

A MAJOR police operation lasting 11 days has netted a haul of 40 garden gnomes. The bearded figures, complete with their bright red hats, fishing rods and barrows, were found at a house in Alloa, Clackmannanshire, police said yesterday.

The discovery was made by a dedicated squad of officers from CID, tactical crime and drugs units at Central Scotland Police, who worked round the clock during the operation to catch what they believed was an organised criminal gang.

Officers also uncovered dozens of ornamental rabbits, birds, hedgehogs, plant pots and solar lights in the Aladdin's-style cave. Two women have been arrested and charged with theft.
The operation came after people in Stirling, Clackmannanshire and Falkirk complained of waking to find their bearded ornaments had apparently wandered off.

Yesterday police revealed that as well as retrieving the stash of stolen gnomes, the operation had led to them solving more than 146 crimes.

A spokeswoman for Central Scotland Police said: "This was a highly successful operation which saw detection rates across the force rise by 5 per cent.

"While the recovery of the gnomes was one notable achievement of the operation, many crimes were solved."

The Scotsman, 25 August 2005

[Courtesy of Louise's mate. 'Clackmannanshire' sounds like an explosion in a clockwork train factory to me]

24 August 2005

Blogging: just political screeds and celebrity gossip

"I find that my own blogging is increasingly mechanical and formulaic. As an artist, my normal impulse is to write things that people don't care about and, ideally, can't even understand. Gibberish. But my freedom of expression is hampered by the blogging software that tracks every page view. In the old days, the age of print, a journalist had very little data on how many people read a particular story. Now I can track readership second by second, eyeball by eyeball.

It's obvious what people want: political screeds and celebrity gossip. A few weeks back, I blogged three paragraphs on Karl Rove. Someone at Google News linked to the blog, and a Rovestorm erupted, a festival of vituperation, with a commensurately outstanding number of page views. Now I pretty much have to write about Rove all the time. (Contrary to what you may have heard, my blog item "Karl Rove Linked to Hoffa Disappearance" was completely fair.)

The continual focus-grouping explains why most bloggers write as though their primary goal is to rise in the Google search results. The more you mention people like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, the more readers you will have, and the more links, and the more you will rise in Google's estimation. I have nothing really to say about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, and am not even remotely interested in Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, but I know that my blog will be read by more people if it mentions famous celebrities who might be secretly boinking, such as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

And let me just add, purely for the sake of Google: sex, alien abduction, Oprah, Tom Cruise, Lindsay Lohan, jumbo hooters the size of watermelons, Dick Cheney, Mark of the Beast, Armageddon, free money"

Joel Achenbach

[No, I'm not 100% sure what a 'screed' is either. You can read the full article here]

Statements made in casual conversation that sound like country-song titles

Another installment in a long-running series...

167. Suckin’ On A Sprite With Another Guy’s Girl
168. I’ve Got My Wheelbarrow And A Runny Nose
169. We’ll See You Later If You Wanna Come; If Not, We’ll See Ya Later
170. I Know Where My Heart Is
171. Do You Bless A Yawn In German?
172. I Don’t Know Why Anybody Never Thought Of That
173. I Don’t Think There’s Anyone Who Isn’t Deaf And Blind Who’s Less Funny Than Everyone Who Is
174. I Was Looking For Deer And Found A Teepee
175. If You’re Gonna Be A Goat, You Better Have A Freakin’ Kid
176. I’m A Freakin’ Femme, And She’s A Stupid Guy
177. Oh Great, The Afghans Are Printing My Directory
178. Whatever I Was Gonna Say Was Something I Wanted To Say
179. Was Saturn Here Before You?
180. I’m Still Before I Was Married

From www.wemadeoutinatreeandthisoldguysatandwatchedus.com

'Next thing them furriners'll want to marry our womenfolk too'

Loos seats of learning for some students

Foreign students used to squat toilets are being told at Waikato University to sit down on the job. Perspex-covered signs bolted to some toilet doors instruct students to sit on toilet seats, not squat. Waikato University pro vice-chancellor for public affairs Shirley Leitch said the signs went up after cleaners found footprints on toilet seats and several broken seats.

Students say initial paper signs were torn down by people who found them offensive.

Chinese students are crying foul over the signs, saying they do not stand on the seats.

"It's discrimination," said tourism student Eleanor Jia. "We know how to use a toilet – but it's kinda funny they think we're stupid."

The signs appeared in May, and are in the library and management lecture and computer lab blocks.

Finance and international student Yan Sun, 21, said she had seen footprints on seats and the toilets were dirty, but the signs made her mad.

Professor Leitch said squat toilets would be considered if students or staff asked for them.

Waikato Times, 24 August 2005

[There's a picture of the signs here. Looks like someone preparing to do a gymnastic manouever]

For all your kitchen-implement-based revenge fantasies

Why not buy a voodoo knife holder?


23 August 2005

The pivotal positioning of wardrobes as a fulcrum for clothing movement

'This paper develops a reading of the wardrobe which emphasises the wardrobe’s location within the consumption practices of tidying, sorting and the displacement of clothing. Its emphasis is on the circulation of clothing matter and the transience of clothing consumption, not – as recent accounts have stressed – the accumulation, collection and wearing of clothing. Using primarily the example of maternity wear, the paper outlines how clothing circulates amongst and between women (between siblings, between friends and amongst neighbours and acquaintances) and accounts for this practice. It argues that maternity wear circulation is both an embodied divestment/recovery ritual and about the making of mothers, through its appeal to thrift, sacrifice and making-do. The paper concludes by reflecting on the significance of the absence of maternity wear from women’s wardrobes and by suggesting that wardrobes need to be thought of not just as containers of memory, but as temporary holding places in the lives of clothes, and as pivotally positioned as a fulcrum for clothing movement, between wearing, storage and displacement'

- Abstract of ‘Wardrobe matter: the sorting, displacement and circulation of women’s clothing’, a paper by Nicky Gregson and Vikki Beale, Geography Department, University of Sheffield, Elsevier Geoforum websitw (quoted in Private Eye)

22 August 2005

Evangelical scientists refute gravity with new 'Intelligent Falling' theory

KANSAS CITY, KS—As the debate over the teaching of evolution in public schools continues, a new controversy over the science curriculum arose Monday in this embattled Midwestern state. Scientists from the Evangelical Center For Faith-Based Reasoning are now asserting that the long-held "theory of gravity" is flawed, and they have responded to it with a new theory of Intelligent Falling.

"Things fall not because they are acted upon by some gravitational force, but because a higher intelligence, 'God' if you will, is pushing them down," said Gabriel Burdett, who holds degrees in education, applied Scripture, and physics from Oral Roberts University.

Burdett added: "Gravity—which is taught to our children as a law—is founded on great gaps in understanding. The laws predict the mutual force between all bodies of mass, but they cannot explain that force. Isaac Newton himself said, 'I suspect that my theories may all depend upon a force for which philosophers have searched all of nature in vain.' Of course, he is alluding to a higher power."

Some evangelical physicists propose that Intelligent Falling provides an elegant solution to the central problem of modern physics.

"Anti-falling physicists have been theorizing for decades about the 'electromagnetic force,' the 'weak nuclear force,' the 'strong nuclear force,' and so-called 'force of gravity,'" Burdett said." And they tilt their findings toward trying to unite them into one force. But readers of the Bible have already known for millennia what this one, unified force is: His name is Jesus."

The Onion

18 August 2005

'To the point, and it sounds strong'

P. Diddy Shortens Name to Diddy

Rap mogul Sean 'P. Diddy' Combs has unveiled his new stage moniker - he wants to be called just Diddy. Combs - who changed his name from Puff Daddy and Puffy before adopting the name P. Diddy in 2001 - announced his moniker change in New York City yesterday.

He tells MTV News, "It's five letters, one word. The name is changed. We made it simpler. We removed the P. The P was getting in between us. We're entering the age of Diddy. A lot of my peeps in music been calling me Diddy, so it's not a drastic change for them. But people around the world didn't know what to call me. We was at (Madison Square Garden) rocking with Jay-Z. The last time I was there, half the crowd was chanting 'P Diddy', half the crowd chanting 'Diddy'. We gonna stop the confusion. 'Diddy. Diddy, Diddy!' Simple. To the point and it sounds strong. It sounds like something is about to happen. It sounds like something is about to go down in history."

Combs plans a special "unveiling of Diddy" ceremony when he hosts the MTV Video Music Awards in Miami on August 28. He adds, "You gonna see that in the entrance. You gonna see that swagger. You gonna see how I'm gonna navigate you through the journey."

- Imdb.com News, 17 August 2005

[Courtesy of Louwrens. Note also that 'diddy' or 'diddey' is listed in the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue as being 'A woman's breasts or bubbies'. Nice to know our rapper friend is a learned scholar of the criminal dialects of Georgian England. Here's hoping he doesn't unveil any 'diddies' at the MTV Awards - I mean, look what happened to Janet Jackson...]

16 August 2005

What did Mother Teresa ever do for East Coast Bays?

"Some may say what can one person achieve? To them I say this -- did Mother Teresa make a difference? Did Sir Peter Blake make a difference? While I do not put myself in that league I aspire to their dedication and their example.

They too started with a dream, facing incredible odds. Like them, I have a vision. A vision where every man, woman and child, in my electorate, East Coast Bays will have a voice."

- Paul Adams MP announces that he will withdraw from the United Future list and stand as an independent in East Coast Bays.

[Alternative title: "How one man [deluded himself into believeing that he] made a difference". If you've forgotten him, Paul Adams was the one that used to be a rally-driver, has a former beauty queen daughter, and went on a hunger strike against the Civil Union Bill. Truly a powerful legacy, there. And I'm sure his decision had nothing to do with being placed at #10 on the UFNZ list]