27 July 2005

Sexist seagulls terrorise Somerset posties

Nesting gulls attack male postmen
By Jenny Booth, Times Online

Male postmen in a Somerset town have been advised to carry long bamboo canes to fend off attacks from a flock of man-hating seagulls. The birds have already knocked one startled male postman off his bike in Highbridge and left another running for cover. But when a postwoman took over the deliveries in the street where the gulls are raising their chicks, the birds left her alone. Now Royal Mail has been forced to timetable postwomen whenever possible to work the round, and to swap their male counterparts to"safer areas".

The problem came to a head last week, when the regular postman complained to his bosses that he had been attacked by seagulls, who had dive-bombed at his head. Suspecting he may be exaggerating, his manager visited the two streets where he claimed he was attacked and was forced into beating a hasty retreat as the gulls swooped down on him.

A Royal Mail spokesman said: "Last week our regular postman went to attempt a delivery at a couple of houses and was dive-bombed by some very feisty seagulls. I think the manager thought he might be telling a tall story but whenever we get a report like this we do a health and safety risk assessment."The manager got knocked off his feet and isn't quite as mocking any more. He had to make a run for it after falling to the ground. Strangely though, when a woman did the same round last week they took no notice at all. They don't seem to see her as a threat. We're going to try and keep her on that round until the seagulls calm down a bit."

The birds, who are nesting in Southend Gardens and Donstan Road, are particularly protective of their offspring when they are under two months of age. A spokeswoman for the RSPB admitted she was baffled by the sexist gullattacks. She said: "I've not heard of gulls distinguishing between genders before. I'm not sure it's happened before. But they're not really attacking people - they're defending their nests, just like any other animal does. Gulls are particularly protective at this time of year when they're rearing their young."

She said that one possible way for postmen to fend off the birds would be to hold up a stick, which the seagulls would attack instead. "Maybe they could stick a garden cane in their postbags. That would prevent anything untoward happening."

The Times, 26 July 2005

[Where's Alfred Hitchcock when you need him, eh?]

Hasn't he heard of the Green Party?

Major Parties Need To Embrace Trees

Press Release by New Zealand Forest Owners' Association at 6:42 AM, 27 Jul 2005

Forest owners are welcoming NZ First and United Future policies which call for an increase in government-funded tree planting schemes...

[Surely the Greens will be able to help him with his tree-hugging ambitions?]

22 July 2005

"That's fairly improbable..."

'In his book about probability, Lady Luck, published in 1963, the American mathematician Warren Weaver recountred a bizarre coincidence that befell his neighbour, George D Bryson. The story began with Bryson making the 1000-mile journey by railway from St Louis to New York. He was in no hurry, and decided to stop off along the way in Louisville - he had never been there and thought it might be fun. He enquired about suitable accommodation and was directed to the Brown Hotel.

Bryson had a quirky sense of humour; at the mail desk he asked if there were any letters for him. He was stunned when a girl promptly handed him one addressed to Mr George D Bryson, Room 307 - the very room he'd just checked into.

It turned out that the previous occupant, who worked for a Montreal insurance company, had the same name. The two men eventually met, Bryson later recalled, to confirm that they both really existed'

- Sunday Times Magazine (UK), 29 May 2005

19 July 2005

Passengers' breathing inconveniences train company

Sorry, it’s too hot for air conditioning, rail travellers told

A TRAIN company has come up with a novel excuse to explain the stifling heat in its carriages: guards are telling passengers, “it’s too hot for the air conditioning.”

South West Trains (SWT), Britain’s biggest train company which makes £1 million profit a week, is also blaming hot passengers for contributing to the problem.

Operating a mobile sauna is also contributing to profits as buffet managers report that drinks sales triple on the hottest trains.

Guards on SWT’s services from London Waterloo to Bournemouth and Weymouth are telling angry passengers that the air conditioning units were not designed to cope with the high temperatures regularly experienced this summer.

A spokeswoman for the company said: “The problem is the system was designed in 1985 to cope with normal British summer weather and it struggles when it’s hotter than that.”

She said that the air conditioning units became overloaded when the outside temperature climbed above 28C.

“Temperatures have been in excess of that recently and a train is, after all, a metal box"

The Times, 19 July

[So is that proof of the effect of global warming since 1985, or maybe just that British passengers are sweatier?]

18 July 2005

Pre-election guide to the political parties

From Transtasman.co.nz, 14 July:

Greens: Basically Marxists, but Marxists who like bicycles and trains and cute fluffy animals. Believe oil is about to run out. Opposed to all foreigners who are not members of Greenpeace.

NZ First: Really don't like foreigners. Leader Winston Peters has opposed everything since 1984 that you don't like. Anything bad you have heard about him is a scurrilous media invention without a skerrick of evidence.

National: In favour of what will get them elected. Frightened of own past. Frightened of own shadow. Won't make a move unless Act or Winston (or even, occasionally, Labour) have softened up the electorate first.

Labour: In favour of what will get them elected. Conflicted about own past. Conflicted about own shadow, especially as it fears it looks a bit like Tariana. Conflicted about present as would like to be more radical but is scared to.

Maori Party: Believe in the golden age, pre-colonisation, where there was no war, or conflict, or disease, or immunisation, or chance of living beyond 35.

United Future: Very conflicted between Christians and others. Any other party would have had a major, messy bust-up by now.

Jim Anderton's Tupperware Party: Sigh - is there any point to this any more?

ACT: Split between those who want to boss you around like Labour, but in another direction, and those who just want to leave you alone, but turn the country upside down to do so.

15 July 2005

Perhaps it just indicates increased youth interest in condoms?

Keep Sex Out Of Politics Says New Zealand First

Press Release by New Zealand First at 4:54 PM, 15 Jul 2005

"Labour is showing its true colours by resorting to condoms to get the youth vote and further exposes Labour's plans to continue its perverted agenda," says New Zealand First Leader, Rt Hon Winston Peters.

This is in response to Young Labour's youth wing of the Labour Party who are handing out condoms with stickers on them that say 'be safe with Labour' and 'dont get screwed by National," said Mr Peters."

President of Young Labour's comments "its Young Labour's job to get youth interested in Politics and the condoms are a part of that, " is a serious insult to the intelligence of our youth population by correlating condoms with an increased youth interest in Politics.

"This assumes that our youth are mindless clones who don't have the brains to weigh up who they want to vote for this coming election and does nothing to raise the important issues facing our youth."

It seems Labour's election agenda is obsessed with legalising gay marriages, legalising prostitution, and anything else that erodes social cohesion and traditional family values." said Mr Peters.


[Firstly, regarding the title: who put the sex in politics in the first place? No-one told me. And I think it's the first time condoms have been described as perverted by a NZ politician. Well, for a few decades now, at least. Brilliant Friday afternoon press release fun - thanks Winston!]

The benefits of impartial health advice

Doctors clash on benefits of wine

Wine is the thinking person's health drink according to an Aussie GP who recommends four glasses a day (two for women) to stay in tip-top shape.

Not surprisingly, Philip Norrie's advice is not being toasted in many medical quarters. Palmerston North GP Ben Goddard said there are stark issues with the advice given by Dr Norrie to people suffering from existing conditions such as liver disease and its high sugar content is also not so palatable for people with diabetes.

Dr Norrie, of Sydney, says drinking white or red wine - it doesn't matter - daily is the single most important preventive health measure one can do.

He lists the benefits: "It reduces heart attack, stroke, diabetes and vascular disease by 50 percent; lowers bad cholesterol and raises high-density lipoprotein, or good cholesterol, and it slows the aging process because it's the most potent antioxidant found in nature.

It should probably be mentioned now that Dr Norrie owns Pendarves Estate, a boutique vineyard in the lower Hunter Valley, north of Sydney.

But the family GP is serious enough about the health benefits of wine and is doing a PhD on wine as a medicine.

Dr Norrie says he is obviously not talking about a Saturday night swill. The four glasses for men and two for women is a maximum, not a minimum.

But Dr Goddard said the amount of wine people can drink happily varies between individuals.

"Four is pushing it a bit. Do you drink that in one quick go or are we talking about four glasses over a long evening?

"And is this being drunk with a couple of beers or several gin and tonics?"

Manawatu Evening Standard, 15 July

14 July 2005

The singular beauty of Australian placenames

'In the late afternoon, I stopped at a roadhouse for petrol and coffee. I studied my book of maps and determined that I would stop for the night in Hay, a modest splat in the desert a little off the highway a couple of hours down the road. As it was the only community in a space of 200 miles, this was not a particularly taxing decision. Then, having nothing better to do, I leafed through the index and amused myself, in a very low-key way, by looking for ridiculous names, of which Australia has a respectable plenitude. I am thus able to report that the following are all real places: Wee Waa, Poowong, Burrumbuttock, Suggan Buggan, Boomahnoomoonah, Waaia, Mullumbimby, Ewylamartup, Jiggalong and the supremely satisfying Tittybong.

As I paid, the man asked me where I was headed.

'Hay,' I replied, and was struck by a sudden droll thought. 'And I'd better hurry. Do you know why?'

He gave me a blank look.

'Because I want to make Hay while the sun shines.'

The man's expression did not change.

'I want to make Hay while the sun shines,' I repeated with a slight alteration of emphasis and a more encouraging expression.

The blank look, I realised after a moment, was probably permanent.

'Aw, you won't have any trouble with that,' the man said after a minute's considered thought. 'It'll be light for hours yet.'

- Bill Bryson, 'Down Under', 1999.

Idle pursuits: a Very Friday website roundup

Bird Snatchers

Help the brave cats pilot their new invention - a balloon they've made to help them nab those tasty birds for supper! The instructions are nice. Purrr...


Falling Russian Ragdoll Bubble Girl

This has been linked to by every site under the sun in the past few weeks, so it might be down when you visit it. But have a look - it's rather hypnotic and you certainly wince and emit a sympathetic 'oof' when the figure splats into a bubble at full tilt. It also might be a little bit creepy too, but try not to think of it that way, okay?


The British and Irish Lions 'Laka'

Sure, they weren't up to much on the rugby field, but by crikey they can dance! A little bit of splendid cultural insensitivity from the Motherland [Courtesy of Malyon].


Just how weird are you?

A whole battery of personality testing to prod and probe the inner reaches of your psyche and tell you just about everything unreliable amateur pop psychology can tell a person about themselves [Courtesy of Culver].



If you like getting in a spaceship and blowing the crud out of things, then this might be up your
alley. It's a 2.75MB download, but.


13 July 2005

Yo, gangsta clergy - let's bust some heads!

Dismissed Jerusalem patriarch breaks into offices, clashes with clergymen

Text of report by Palestinian radio Voice of Palestine on 13 July:

Eirinaious I, the dismissed patriarch of the Orthodox Church [in Jerusalem], and 25 of his guards broke into the premises of the Orthodox Patriarchate in the Bab al-Khalil district in the old city in Jerusalem this afternoon.

The Head of the National Christian Grouping told our radio that a fist-fight took place between Eirinaious and his guards on the one hand and the clergymen who were present on the premises on the other, leading to injuries on both sides. Our correspondent in the occupied Jerusalem said that the occupation police forces arrived at the scene and prevented anyone from leaving the Patriarchate.

Source: Voice of Palestine, Ramallah, in Arabic 1300 gmt 13 Jul 05
(13 July 2005 16:21 GMT BBC Monitoring Middle East)

'...If I leave now I might catch the end of NZ Idol'

Woman Leaves Hopsital 12 Minutes After Birth

A woman left Southland Hospital last month just 12 minutes after giving birth.

The quick exit left some midwives surprised, but Southland Hospital's chief executive, Dr Gershu Paul, says the woman was completely within her rights to leave.

He says she was in the hospital for about 45 minutes under the guidance of a Lead Maternity Carer and after a smooth delivery was able to go home.

NewsRoom.co.nz Agency Story at 2:03 PM, 13 Jul 2005

Makes a nice change from the drunken teenage prank calls, I suppose

Black ties, please, by royal request

At 2am last Friday two Blenheim businessmen were jolted from their sleep by phone calls from the police. But they weren't the routine "your premises have been burgled" type of calls.
The police were on the hunt for ties. Neck ties. Black ties, to be precise. Ten, if you please. By royal command.

They were needed urgently by Prince William and his entourage, overnighting in Kaikoura, to wear in respect for the victims of the bombings in London the day before.

Kim Andrews, manager of JE Thomas's, was one of those awakened by the call. He went to the store where as many as 10 black ties are not in stock these days, and in the dim light handed over as many dark coloured ties as he could find.

"We do stock them but they're not big sellers," said Mr Andrews. "Most black ties these days would have a small pattern on them."

Also roused from his bed on Friday morning was David Buckley, owner of Cloudy Bay Funeral Services. By the time he had found two black ties the police were already knocking on his door.

Senior Sergeant Ciaran Sloan of the Blenheim police, who was second in charge of the protection squad in Kaikoura, said it was not until midnight that the prince's party became aware of what was going on in London, hence the timing of the call.

Marlborough Express, 12 July 2005

10 July 2005

How the other half live

Last orders for snob yobs as Cornwall cracks down on upper-class parties

As the sun set at Daymer Bay on the beautiful north Cornish coast last night, police vans circled the beaches, waiting for the invasion. After years of suffering at the hands of posh, drunken teenagers causing havoc, the fight-back has begun.

Hundreds of what locals have dubbed "snob yobs" staggered from the two pubs in the village of Rock on Friday night and followed the winding road that leads to the beach. But, as they swarmed on to the sand, the police were waiting for them.

Every summer, Rock - dubbed "Kensington-on-Sea" thanks to the high number of upper-class Chelsea residents who make the Cornwall village their home for July and August - is invaded by hundreds of public school students who spend their nights boozing on the beach, starting fires, and urinating and vomiting in doorways.

But now battle lines have been drawn and local residents are striking back. Security guards have been hired by the residents' association to patrol the privately-owned Daymer Bay, the scene of much of the drunken revelry, preventing anyone from getting on to the beach at night. Instead, the "snob yobs" will be diverted to nearby Polzeath beach where a dispersal zone will also be in place with at least four uniformed police officers on duty every night. They will remove any group of youngsters who threaten to get out of control, ban them from returning for 24 hours, and could even fine them as much as £2,500.

One local resident, Bill Frampton, 63, watched the teenagers being dispersed on Friday night from behind the fence of his house.

"I don't mind people having fun," he said, "but when it comes to being sick, pissing on my lawn and stealing bits of my fence, it is too much. I mean, you wouldn't like it, would you?"

Independent (UK), 10 July 2005