29 December 2006

Notepad Invaders

Good solid clicky shooting fun from B3ta, which is strangely reminiscent of a rather familiar clicky shooting fun space game from the late 1970s. I'll wager you'll recognise it.

Use the mouse to control your ship. As a guide, in my one try I managed a score of 13,060. As you get an extra life for completing each level it can get a little bit easy until the faster levels.

Notepad Invaders

28 December 2006

Either that, or the astronomers were on drugs

'To a casual observer it could be the psychedelic creation of a mischievous puppy that has dipped its paws in paint. But it may be one of the most extraordinary pictures ever snapped.

It is, scientists said yesterday, the glow from the first things to form in the universe, more than 13 billion years ago. Snapped by NASA's Spitzer space telescope, the bizarre objects must have existed within a few hundred million years of the Big Bang, 13.7 billion years ago'

- Sydney Morning Herald, 20 December 2006

[See the link above for the groovy pic, dudes]

Don't forget to flash your lights at parked police cars

'Welcome to New Zealand: Where you can smoke in the Beehive, tall dogs are routinely shortened and it's considered bad manners to close a farm gate. Visitors to Wellington are asked to lift feet while on the cable car - to help it make it up the slope. The utterly unhelpful pearls of wisdom feature in a compendium of "evil advice" dreamt up for tourists by participants in a silly-season competition'

- Dominion Post, 28 December 2006

22 December 2006

What if he ate your shin in Berlin?

'Oh, I loved him, but he was... scary. I was going to invite him up to Maine; I have this beautiful home in Maine... but then I reconsidered because I saw that movie again. Do you want someone eating your brain while you are sitting in your beautiful dining room in Maine? I would have probably had a very nice relationship with Anthony Hopkins, but I couldn't get past the Lecter thing'

- US media personality and former jailbird Martha Stewart, on her brief relationship with Sir Anthony Hopkins

[Courtesy of Louwrens. What about your knee in Paree? Or your neck in Bishkek?]

21 December 2006

All-purpose acronyms

'According to the latest US Department of Defense contracts bulletin, John Deere Construction has won a $46.7 million firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite quantity contract for 300 Tractor, Rubber Tired, Articulated, Steering, Multi-Purpose (TRAM). So a tram, another name for a streetcar, it seems is actually an acronym. Does this mean that the following applies...

BUS: Box, upright, with seats
CAR: Carriage, automotive, reverses
TAXI: Tatty automobile, xenophobe inside'

- Flight International, 5-11 December 2006

Sex, pies and videotape

...is the ultimate Shane Warne headline, which is apt given his announcement this week that he will retire from international cricket at the close of the current Ashes series in Australia.

- NZ Herald, 22 December 2006

[Courtesy of Al]

17 December 2006

As opposed to unreality shopping

Christmas shopping without the long queues, masses of people, traffic jams, and parking hassles – impossible? Not for the hundreds of New Zealanders who are choosing this year to do their shopping online. Timaru woman Kimberley Fisher decided to surf the net recently after having no success in several stores to find a specific DVD. "I couldn't find it in the shops so I tried online. It was simple, just a click of the mouse and cheap postage as well, it got here in about 10 days."

Although the 20-year-old said she still preferred reality shopping, when looking for something in particular the internet was perfect.

- Timaru Herald, 18 December 2006

[What, so the internet isn't real?]

Time Magazine: Officially out of ideas

Time magazine names a 'person of the year' and plonks them on the cover, as you probably know. Normally it's someone grand and impressive. But this year, deadlines obviously played a part: Time's person of the year for 2006 is... wait for it... "You". Take a bow!

- Time Magazine, 13 December 2006, also reporting by BBC

[You're in good company. Hitler won it in 1938, and Stalin the next year. Scoop has theorised that perhaps Time intended to award the title to 'YouTube' but the cover was too narrow...]

14 December 2006

Very short stories

Wired magazine asked a bunch of Wired-type writers to submit six-word short stories, following in the footsteps of Hemingway's epic, which he called his best work:

"For sale: baby shoes, never worn"

Very short stories

[Courtesy of Al]

Are you my mate, ya bloody foreigner?

'[Australian Prime Minister] Howard said migrants [to Australia] needed to learn about mateship, but he could not outline how the concept would be tested.

"Mateship is a great Australian concept, it's a concept of everybody pulling together in common adversity," he said. "It's a concept of treating people according to how you find them and not according to the colour of their skin. It's very much part of our ethos. You say 'How do you test it?'. Well, I'm not going to start canvassing what the test is."

- Sydney Morning Herald, 12 December 2006

Love hurts

'As much as we think we know who Courtney Love is, nothing prepares you for the sprawling intelligence or the keen beauty of her. Love is not like most female celebrities. She is bigger than that. Her hands are meaty and her eyes enormous, her bosom has been surgically enhanced and her lips swollen with collagen. She looks as if someone has coloured her in and strayed beyond the lines'

- Guardian, 11 December 2006

[How apt! The interview is worth reading too - see link above]

A load of balls

'It's good to know that the British Transport Police are protecting London's underground commuters from would-be criminals. Last week, they cautioned a man carrying a hockey stick, unimpressed with his rather feeble excuse that he was on his way to play a match. Now a poor accountant (if that's not an oxymoron) Chris Hurd was accosted by a policewoman at Baker Street, near Lord's, and told that the cricket ball he was holding was a "potentially lethal weapon".

"She was completely humourless and inflexible, and showed no understanding of my excitement about the Ashes," he fumed. "She confiscated the ball for most of our conversation, gave me a verbal warning and said she was being very lenient." But a spokesman for the police raised a hitherto unforeseen danger: "What if the ball was dropped and hit an old lady further down the escalator?" Old ladies beware'

- Jenny Thompson on Cricinfo, 11 December 2006

Bound for glory

Subtitled 'America in Colour: 1939-43', this feature displays a selection of colour photography of American life during the Depression. The vivid images dispel some of the gloom imparted by the traditional black-and-white photography most of us associate with period photography. Interesting stuff.

Bound for glory

07 December 2006

Phew, it's hot in here

Oops... maybe it pays to keep the mask *on* when you're committing a robbery. Particularly when there's a security camera pointing at you.

Hot robber's face-flash puts heat on gang

- NZ Herald, 8 December 2006

What do the other 15 percent look like?

In a startling insight into the political dynamics that really matter in the cut-and-thrust world of contemporary Australian politics, a Fairfax paper reveals that new Labor Party leader Kevin Rudd 'has been judged less "beautiful" than 85 per cent of candidates at the 2004 federal election'. But there's hope for Kevin yet: 'Prime Minister John Howard fares even worse. A panel of four, which appraised candidate photos from how-to-vote cards, judged Mr Howard to be less beautiful than 95 per cent of candidates'.

- West Australian, 7 December 2006

Do as I say, not as I do (or say)

A Palmerston North youth charged with possession of $125,000 worth of pure methamphetamine has a father with a long history of drug dealing, but apparently dad 'always discouraged him from getting involved with drugs'. Apart from allegedly selling the kid a pound of cannabis and a set of electronic scales to prepare them for sale, that is. There's a spurned girlfriend subplot too - the accused split up with his girlfriend and started seeing her best friend. The ex turned up to collect her stuff, but came across the meth instead. A regular soap opera! Or perhaps Outrageous Fortune is more accurate.

For all the gory details, see the story link below.

- Manawatu Standard, 7 December 2006

Trampoline man

The B3ta newsletter linked to this ad-game - shoot the daredevil chap from the cannon and land him on the trampoline to progress through the levels. It gets more tricky and entertaining once the 'bouncer' pads come in and you can carome the poor sod all over the place.

Trampoline-y game

[Managed 20,300 points in my one go at it]

"I never make predictions and I never will"

For years Private Eye has been running a series of joyful sporting media gaffe quotes called 'Colemanballs', such as the one in the title (the large-looming Paul 'Gazza' Gascoine), and ones like these:

"He [Diawara] brings out an extra six to twelve inches and it's a fantastic tackle. "

"If history is going to repeat itself I should think we can expect the same thing again."

"Merseyside derbies usually last 90 minutes and I'm sure today's won't be any different." TREVOR BROOKING

"In terms of the Richter Scale this defeat was a force eight gale."

For all these and more, see this brilliant yet thoroughly unofficial site...


[Courtesy of Al]

Don't shoot your eye out!

Noisy shooty fun here - make your little kid ricochet the shots of his BB gun around the forest, and earn points for the number of bounces. Makes cool peeoww! noises. Try not to shoot yourself too often - although that's fun too.

Don't Shoot Your Eye Out!

[Courtesy of Louwrens, who managed 254. I got 242...]

Anything to avoid doing homework

'On the afternoon before the beginning of the 1983 G7 summit James Baker, then White House chief of staff, dropped in to see his boss, Ronald Reagan. Mr Baker was worried about Reagan's lack of preparation for the meeting, where "Reaganomics" was sure to be a source of contention, and left behind a carefully prepared briefing book. But when he returned next morning he was furious to find that the book was unopened - and set about remonstrating with his lazy pupil.

"Well, Jim," Reagan replied calmly, "'The Sound of Music' was on last night'".

- Economist, 2 December 2006

Think you're tough?

'Two Spartans survived [the Battle of Thermopylae]. One, who missed the encounter at Thermopylae because he was on a diplomatic mission, hanged himself in disgrace upon his return home. The other, who missed the battle because of an eye infection (not much of an excuse for a solider, never mind a Spartan), went on a suicide mission in the next major encounter with the Persians. When Spartans said that the only way to return from a battle was with your shield or on it, they meant it'

- Brendan Boyle reviews 'Thermopylae: The Battle That Changed the World' by Paul Cartledge, New York Sun, 4 December 2006

03 December 2006

Depends how good the beer was

A Patea section bought for $1 in 1998 has sold for $65,000. And someone else might be anticipating a similar rate of return: 'At the time of the $1 sale, another section was reportedly swapped for a six-pack of beer. '

- Taranaki Daily News, 1 December 2006

02 December 2006

What's really on womens' minds?

This poster reveals the secret truth we clueless boys have wondered about all our lives...

A Woman's Mind Magnified

[Courtesy of Spare Room]

Oh, it makes sense when you explain it like that

'Some of the money was spent in contacting the Russian mafia as we tried to clone mammoths. But you can't say that [on an expense claim] so we expensed it as money for cows for experiment'

- Disgraced South Korean stem-cell scientist Woo Suk Hwang explains his expenses, Reuters, 24 Oct, quoted in New Scientist, 4 November 2006

'A brown condom stuffed with walnuts'

Clive James knows perfectly well that a man with a talent to amuse will always have some difficulty persuading the public that he can, so to speak, quote Wittgenstein. And, once they know that he is also from “the bush”, they will expect some coarse material, too. Thus it’s brave of him to stand by the original version of his much-misquoted image of Arnold Schwarzenegger (it was “a brown condom stuffed with walnuts”) against subsequent plagiarism and dilution. He coins a new term for authorial humiliation, when he speaks of a publisher’s “advance” that is really a retreat.

- Christopher Hitchens reviews North Face of Soho (Unreliable Memoirs, Vol. 4) by Clive James, Times, 15 November 2006

[If you're interested, the Guardian has an entertaining spoof digested read of NFoS, which includes this passage on his filmstar interviewing: 'It wasn't an unmitigated success, as I invariably had a better understanding of the actors' work than they did, but it was none the less instructive']

Find your Transformer name

I'm Cliffjumper Tucker Magnus: smart, brave and puny! Apparently.

Find your Transformer name

[Courtesy of KL]

At least it doesn't give you cancer

'What's going to be banned next? Sex?'

- Laurent Lefevre, owner of Au Metro bar in the 14th Arrondissement of Paris, on France's decision to ban smoking in bars and restaurants from 2007. (AFP, quoted in New Scientist, 14 October 2006)

Russell Crowe: 'The biggest case of miscasting in history'

'The former ad exec Peter Mayle's 1989 best-seller A Year In Provence shot him to prominence, and now his 2004 novel, on very similar lines, has been turned into a humourless slice of tourist gastro-porn. A Good Year stars, incredibly, Russell Crowe as the conceited Brit who inherits a sumptuous house and vineyard in the south of France from his rascally uncle (Albert Finney); he comes over intending to flog it for a barrowload of euros, but finds himself falling in love with the locals and their adorable life. It is the biggest case of miscasting in history. Anyone, *anyone*, would have been better in this part. Steven Seagal would've been better. Janette Krankie would've been better. Ridley Scott directs, and makes a chain-mailed gladiatorial fist of the comedy involved'

- Guardian Weekly, 3 November 2006

Hope she's forgiven him by now

'Sir - You said that the Boeing 747 was also delayed, for two years in 1969 ("The airliner that fell to earth", October 7th). The letter of intent, signed in December 1965, proposed the first delivery in November 1969. Actual first delivery, signed by me for Pan Am, was December 12th 1969. That is a date I cannot forget. It was my wife's birthday and I was late for dinner'

- Letter to the editor from Robert Wallace Blake, Economist, 4 November 2006

01 December 2006

Mmmm... devil biscuits...

A Christchurch Catholic school principal was accused of "working for Satan" after allowing pupils to work with Muslim girls on a school project. St Thomas of Canterbury College principal Bruce Stevenson was abused over the phone by a woman objecting to a Young Enterprise Scheme project involving a group of Year 11 boys and Muslim girls from the United Muslimahs of Canterbury. Stevenson said the woman accused him of working for Satan and that he would go to hell for his actions.

- The Press, 1 December 2006

How forgetful Londoners leave the world behind

The things people leave behind in cabs...!

'One man abandoned his drunken girlfriend asleep and told the cabbie that he was leaving her as a tip. Another driver was lumbered with a man wearing only underpants. Other taxi drivers in the capital have reported finding a machinegun, an antique telescope and a bag of diamonds worth £100,000 on the rear seats of their cabs'

- The Times, 28 November 2006

And he should definitely avoid doing it in the woods

Dilbert's Scott Adams has been thinking about the art of pilfering funny stories from the news for the purpose of blogging:

The key to finding good humor fodder is that the story must be NEARLY funny without being completely funny on its own. For example, if I see a story about some spatially challenged burglar who got his head stuck in a chimney, and a stork built a nest in his ass, that’s already completely funny. There’s nothing for me to add.

What I’m looking for is a story that makes me giggle before I even know why – the potential is there but it needs some magic humor dust to make it all that it can be. I mention this because I was reading on MSNBC.com that the Pope is visiting Turkey. This is 50% funny all by itself.

Then I read that 20,000 Muslim protesters in Istanbul were chanting “Pope don’t come!” (Seriously.)


- The Dilbert Blog: Nearly Funny Things

25 November 2006

Perhaps that was just his usual Saturday night out

Back in April a Sydney mum awoke to find a strange man on her sofa, muttering incoherently, and wearing a white dress. He had rearranged the pictures on her wall, and she was quite rightly scared out of her tree. But - whew - don't worry! It turned out that he was just really really drunk and on pills. And a four-time world kickboxing champion, which may have had something to do with the judge dismissing all the charges against him. And because the cops mucked up the trespass charges. Hooray for justice!

- Sydney Morning Herald, 23 November 2006

Asbestos, your friend and mine

Back in 1927, the Guardian was extolling the virtue of that wonder-product, asbestos. Makes you want to rush out and buy some for your own place, no?

'Asbestos can also be bought in the loose fibrous form, and is excellent for temporarily repairing leaking gas and water pipes. For this purpose the asbestos fibres should be mixed to a thick paste with water-glass, spread over the hole or weak spot in the pipe and bound over with cloth'

- Guardian, 21 November 1927

Mars As Art

An exhibit of colour-tinted photos of Martian scenery from the Nasa website. Some spectacular landscapes and psychedelic patterns - definitely worth browsing, particularly if you plan to visit Mars in the near future.

- Nasa: Mars As Art

Don't ask me how my day was, dear

You think your day at the office was bad? A Tokyo stock exchange trader 'mistyped an order and sold 610,000 shares for one yen instead of one share for 610,000 yen last December. A fault in the TSE's computer system meant the trade could not be cancelled and Mizuho lost $225m'. So he'll definitely be looking forward to his performance appraisal this year.

- BBC News, 27 October 2006

Now that's dedication to duty

All you really need is the title of this one: 'Drunk bus driver wanted to finish run'. That shows the Aussie can-do spirit - it was a schoolbus, so those kids damn well had to get there if it was the last thing he did. The busdriver in Australia was only a piffling 13 times the legal alcohol limit. At this stage someone's supposed to tear at their hair and wail, 'think of the children... won't someone think of the children?!'

- Stuff.co.nz, 24 November 2006

[The driver is from Canowindra NSW, which is apparently the 'ballooning capital of Australia'. Here's a map].

23 November 2006

Doubt existed as to whether Brash was still National leader even before he resigned

You only have to read the reports in the Kiwi Herald to illustrate the point that the mainstream New Zealand media simply cannot be trusted on topics of political importance. In fact, I don't think I'll believe Don Brash truly has resigned until a 'Bring Back Buck'-like campaign springs up in his name. Is it too soon for nostalgic glances back to the Days Of Don? Ah, happy memories.

22 November 2006

The even thinner red line

'It may sound like a wind-up, but it isn't. The US National Guard has hit upon the idea of providing the families of servicemen with life-size cut-out photographs of their loved ones to help them through the strains of an overseas deployment. The scheme is called Flat Daddies. Feel free to take a moment.

...more than 200 life-size replicas of absent soldiers have been printed and distributed to their families. Some families have become utterly attached to their Flat Daddies, seating them at the dinner table and propping them up at barbecues. Mary Holbrook thought nothing of taking a life-size replica of her husband, LtCol Randall Holbrook, to her gynaecologist.

"He just thought it was really neat," Holbrook said, meaning her gynaecologist, not the LtCol.

Michael Hughesman, a psychologist who works with the families of British servicemen on deployment [said] 'We would encourage families to keep normal-sized photos prominently available ... but we've not come across the idea of Flat Daddies[...] I know it would draw a few sucked-in cheeks from some of our military folk'

- Guardian Weekly, 15 September 2006 (edited for length)

[Here's the official website]

Feel free to speak your mind

'When [Indonesian President] Mr. Yudhoyono was asked specifically whether he had urged Mr. Bush to begin a withdrawal of American forces from Iraq, Mr. Bush interjected: “I’ll be glad to answer it for him — no, no he didn’t. But he can answer it for himself.”'

- New York Times, 21 November 2006, on President Bush's diplomatic visit to Indonesia

The first exercise guru (and part-time literary critic)

'Cheyne championed the "chamber horse", a chair sporting an elevated seat on what resembled an accordion bellows. Inside was a large spring, and by gripping the chair's arms you could bounce up and down in a simulation of horse-riding. In short, Cheyne was promoting one of the very first examples of home gym equipment.


Chamber horses became de rigueur. Even the dour Methodist theologian John Wesley spent time each day bouncing up and down on one. Cheyne recommended to Samuel Richardson that he compose his novel "Pamela" by dictating it while bouncing on a chamber horse, and then helpfully suggested that Pamela would also be improved by adding house fires and plenty of broken limbs into the plot'

- New Scientist, 7 October 2006, on George Cheyne (1671-1742), early essayist on dieting.

28 October 2006

Normal service will resume...

...in a wee bit. Away in Australia until 20 November, to be precise.

27 October 2006


"My response to hearty strangers who ask me, 'How are you?' was to reply, 'No worse.' This has a suitably disconcerting effect. Now in my nineties, I say, almost certainly correctly, 'Probably worse.' My Uncle, late Bishop of Ely, used to reply, 'What business is it of yours?' But he was in a position to do so."

- Letter from Wing Commander Tom Hudson to The Times Modern Manners, 23 October 2006, in response to a discussion on the greeting, 'Howdydoo?'

What they didn't say

A new book is reviewing the history of the misquote, from Sherlock Holmes, Spock from Star Trek, Prince Charles and many others. For instance, I bet you didn't know that "Elementary, my dear Watson" came from Wodehouse rather than Doyle! Read on via the link below...

- Guardian, 25 October 2006

Haven't they heard of Lonely Planet?

'Around a dozen Japanese tourists a year need psychological treatment after visiting Paris as the reality of unfriendly locals and scruffy streets clashes with their expectations, a newspaper reported on Sunday.

"A third of patients get better immediately, a third suffer relapses and the rest have psychoses," Yousef Mahmoudia, a psychologist at the Hotel-Dieu hospital, next to Notre Dame cathedral, told the newspaper Journal du Dimanche'

- Sydney Morning Herald, 24 October 2006

I was worth that $800,000, says Judy Bailey

Just think - if you had that much money, you could buy 133,000 Lotto lucky dip tickets...

- NZ Herald, 28 October 2006

Whitney Music Box

An excellent musical toy to play with - these mathematical spirals have a weird tonal symmetry to them, as they spin and create a fascinating horror-movie score as they go. There are 17 different versions - try them out using the links on the right hand side.

whitney music box var. 0 - chromatic - 48 tines

[Courtesy of B3ta]

25 October 2006

Your life cannot be complete without these products

The very best of those as-seen-on-TV products that you really really needed are wrapped up here with screen-captures and video links. Special mention must go to the monumentally ugly 'slim jeans', which look like an astronaut's nightmare.

X-Entertainment: As Seen On TV!

[Courtesy of Turbo]

24 October 2006

WW1 Colour Photos

The humanity of World War I has always seemed to be lessened by the limitations of black-and-white photography, which makes it harder to visualise the subjects as real people. But this site has documented the superb French colour photography from WW1, which provides an amazing glimpse into the last years of the war.

World War One Color Photos - Color Photos from World War I

[Courtesy of Al]

16 October 2006

Nick Cave sells out! (Well, almost)

From a discussion led by Jarvis Cocker in the Observer Music Monthly:

Nick Cave: Iggy Pop's 'Lust For Life' was used for a car ad. I used to drive around in my car when I was 19 screaming that song, and it had an anti-establishment purpose. For it now to be appropriated by the advertising industry ... I think that's f--ked. I don't know what situation the people who have written the music are in, if they need the money or ... I'm not trying to take the moral high ground but I wouldn't allow my music to be used in that way.

Jarvis Cocker: Do you get offers?

Nick Cave: Often. There's a song called 'Red Right Hand', and a sanitary napkin company back in New Zealand wanted to use it, which was tempting ... but that was the closest I've ever come. You do get an enormous amount of money waved in front of you, more money than you make anywhere else in the industry, and all you have to do is say yes ...

- Observer, 15 October 2006

[Jarvis has a new album out in the UK on 13 November - o happy day!]

14 October 2006

Clean, cheap and dainty

Under New Management. Wanted Known - We have opened the most up-to-date Luncheon and Tea Rooms in Courtenay-place. Early Breakfast 1s 3d, Morning Tea 9d, Hot Lunches 1s 3d, Afternoon Tea 9d, Hot Tea 1s 3d, Late Teas 9d, and Dainty Specialty Suppers 1s 6d. Cleanest and Cheapest Meals in the Dominion. The Club Tea Rooms, 125, Courtenay-place.

- Advertisement, Evening Post, 3 March 1920. Source: NZHistory.net.nz

13 October 2006

"A coup is not entertaining"

Thai coup leaders have banned go-go girls from dancing near tanks and troops on Bangkok streets as a distraction from the serious business of power, a spokesman said on Wednesday. "It is not appropriate to entertain soldiers while they are on duty," Colonel Acra Tiprote told Reuters after a troupe of 10 women in tight camouflage vests and shorts posed with soldiers and tanks while making a music video.

"People should differentiate between entertainment and seriousness. A coup is not entertaining," Acra said.

- TVNZ, 13 October 2006

[Courtesy of Gabrielle]

A Brief History Of The Middle East

Spare Room has a link to an excellent 90-second animation showing the multitude of empires that have carved up the Middle East over the last 5000 years. Definitely worth a look.

Spare Room » Blog Archive » A Brief History Of The Middle East

12 October 2006

Spice Test

If you can watch videos, you might like to watch this diligent young Norwegian chap who swallows spoonfuls of spices from his mum's kitchen, and reviews the results. His enthusiasm is surpassed only by his lack of self-preservation instincts. Lucky he saved the chilli powder for last, then. (4:39 long)

YouTube - Spice test

10 October 2006

...or are you just pleased to see me?

"I've got monkeys in my pants"

- Robert Cusack, smuggler of endangered animals, on being asked if he had anything to declare. Cusack had flea-scratching pygmy monkeys in his underwear [Los Angeles Times, 19 Sept, reported in New Scientist, 23 Sept]

06 October 2006

Line Rider

Very cool flash game - draw your own slope and then see if your brave tobogganist can survive it. Quite addictive...

Line Rider

05 October 2006

Dophins = insincere sods

'New evidence from unmanned underwater cameras has proved that dolphins are only pretending to be friendly to humans and that the moment that our backs are turned, a sour and indignant expression returns to their faces'

NewsBiscuit: Dolphins ‘stop smiling the moment our back is turned’

[I always thought that Flipper looked shifty]

Sounds like a pretty impressive stick

'The absence of trees and the presence of fog explain why noises sound so strange here. There is not the slightest rustle on this bare plateau, nothing but voices. Is it the wind or my companions? The invisible voices murmur above me like the spirits of the air. I can make out a dark shape. It's Captain Couesnon waving his stick at me. He looks like the archangel brandishing the flaming sword at the outcasts of the Garden of Eden'

- Jean-Paul Kauffmann, 'The Arch of Kerguelen', 1993 (English translation 2000)

Gone in 120 seconds

Excellent time-lapse film of the entire train journey from London to Brighton, compressed into two minutes.

YouTube - London to Brighton time lapse

[Courtesy of B3ta]

Keep your belly-button to yourself, ma'am

Two female cheerleader coaches in Maryland were taking a class of 7 and 8 year-olds, and when the students looked glum, the coaches decided to make them laugh by drawing a smiley-face on one of the coaches' belly-buttons. The girls thought it was hilarious; but when the organiser found out, the coaches were fired...

- Frederick News-Post, 3 October 2006

Little Superstar

This is the funkiest little Indian breakdancer you'll ever see. Now why wasn't there some of this in LOTR, I ask you?

YouTube - Little Superstar

[For more clips, search Youtube for 'little superstar']

I see drunk people!

Haley Joel Osment should've got himself a haircut before posing for this picture. But I suppose few of us expect to be charged with drunk driving and marijuana possession after crashing our cars. He looks cheery enough!

Mug Shot: Haley Joel Osment

Super Size Mini-Me

This is the tiniest burger combo you've ever seen - an experiment in micro-cuisine.

A Bite to Eat!

I believe I can fly...

If only this was available for Christmas! A chap has put together a remote-controlled plane with a virtual-reality controlled camera linked back to a headset. An expensive way to simulate being a seagull, but undoubtedly cool.

Coolest Toy Ever

[It's a 5 minute video feed, but you only need to watch a minute or so to get the drift]

Virtual bubble wrap

A good old favourite.

Virtual bubble wrap

[Courtesy of Helen]

The artistic opportunities of carpet fluff

Lynn Barber discusses the unearthly struggle of being a judge for the 2006 Turner Prize:

I did once see Keanu Reeves in Vyner Street admiring an artwork in the Modern Art gallery, a blue, plastic rectangle, I seem to recall, that looked like a Formica offcut and cost 20 grand. Reeves described it as 'almost Kleinian', which is artspeak for blue.


I remember coming home from the Baltic in Newcastle and telling my daughter: 'I saw some exciting sculpture made of carpet fluff!' She stared at me. 'What was exciting about it?' 'Well, it was a room with a fitted carpet,' I blathered, 'and the artist had scraped some of the carpet fluff into little piles to look like things.'

I showed her the catalogue entry: 'Tonica Lemos Auad, Brazilian artist born 1968, working in London. Auad's carpet installations begin by the artist's delicate gathering and repositioning of minute strands of fluff, teased patiently from newly laid carpet... Auad sees these works as three-dimensional, site-specific drawings that create a space in which the viewer can enter and engage with the settings.' My daughter sniggered: 'So could you engage by hoovering it up?' Some people are such philistines.

- Observer, 1 October 2006

An important distinction

The accused in this case is quite keen to set the record straight - and the article title says it all, really. Warning: this article may put you off illicit substances...

Drugs carried in pants - not buttocks, dealer insists

- Hawkes Bay Today, 4 October 2006

Please Don't Wear This Jacket in Minnesota

Seinfeld viewers may remember that Elaine worked for J Peterman? Anyway, it's a real catalogue, and the quirky product descriptions are definitely worth examining. Whether you'll be able to afford the products is another matter altogether, though. Check out the Cavalry Jacket entry:

Some people say he was a hero. Others call him a reckless glory-hunter. One thing we can all agree on in our ignorance of certain facts is that he must have looked dashing in his fringed jacket, scanning the long buffalo grass through his binoculars and concluding that there were no Indian ponies there, it was only the wind moving the grass...

Or the Handsome Thug Cap:

Authors and inventors and fliers and steel magnates and journalists and suffragettes and ambulance drivers and private detectives and nightclub bouncers and newsboys and movie directors and handsome thugs wore it. Your grandfather wore it. Gable himself wore it. Immigrants wore it. It was what America wore. What happened? The trouble started. That’s what happened. Do your part. It’s time. Wear one. (It makes anyone who wears one look tall; if you’re already tall, too bad. You’re going to look even taller. It also makes you look young and snappy as well. So get ready for that, too.)

Or the ladies' Velvet Cutaway Jacket, which is subtitled "Please Don't Wear This Jacket in Minnesota":

The bold color. The military flair. You can almost hear Ravel’s Bolero in the background. This splendid jacket is sure to command attention…which can cause problems in The Land of 10,000 Lakes. Because at least one city there has now enacted an Anti-Staring Ordinance. (Does anybody remember anymore that the collapse of the Roman Empire was due to a surfeit of paralyzing rules and regulations? Attila just knocked at the gate.)

For more about J Peterman, see this article.

[Courtesy of Louwrens, who definitely knows about Seinfeld]

Who ate all the pies?

I have it on good authority that this gentleman is actually an Albanian special forces policeman. Global security is safe in his hands, as long as it doesn't require any running or jumping.

[Courtesy of PS]

04 October 2006

Sing it, Bessie

Just superb... this blues blog has linked to the only film appearance of blues legend Bessie Smith, filmed in 1929. Think of it as a b/w music video and you're on the right track.

In 1929, she appeared in a Broadway flop called Pansy, a musical in which, the top white critics agreed, she was the only asset. That same year, she made her only film appearance, starring in a two-reeler based on W. C. Handy's "St. Louis Blues." In the film, which was shot in Astoria, NY, she sings the title song accompanied by members of Fletcher Henderson's orchestra, the Hall Johnson Choir, pianist James P. Johnson, and a string section — a musical environment radically different from any found on her recordings. - - Wikipedia

Great singing, snappy dancing by the cad in the middle section, and some excellent plate-spinning action too...

Honey, Where You Been So Long? » St. Louis Blues

Clutching at straws on a slow news day

In the wake of the media swarm that descended on Namibia after the birth of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's kid in Namibia, the Southland Times breathlessly reports that 'Venture [Southland] board member Wayne Affleck seized on ... new opportunities for Southland: "So what you're recommending is that we invite pregnant celebrities to Southland to give birth. Why not?"'

And while you're at it, why not arrange the Second Coming in Invercargill?

- Southland Times, 3 October 2006

The wit and wisdom (ahem) of Borat

Soon you will be able to learn all you ever wanted to know about Kazakhstan when Sacha Baron-Cohen's movie, Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, comes to a cinema near you. Until then, perhaps some of his collected wisdom will assist your quest for learning.

Borat on sexual equality
In Kazakhstan we say: “God, man, horse, dog, then woman, then rat”

On leisure
In Kazhakstan we have many hobbies: disco dancing, archery, rape and table tennis

On civil rights
Since the 2003 Tulyakov reforms, Kazakhstan is as civilized as any other country in the world. Women can now travel inside of bus. Homosexuals no longer have to wear blue hats. And age of consent has been raised to 8 years old

On democracy
Democracy is different in America. For example: women CAN vote but horse can not!

On England
Every Englishman must have a hobby. Some like to collect the stamp, some like to make the jam, but the most fun is to a kill a little animal with a shotgun or rip them up with wild dog

On Canadian diplomatic etiquette
It also tradition in my country for wife of the Premier to give visiting dignitaries hand relief and mouth party if they royalty

- The Times, 30 September 2006

Pathology in the Hundred Acre Wood

Abstract: 'Somewhere at the top of the Hundred Acre Wood a little boy and his bear play. On the surface it is an innocent world, but on closer examination by our group of experts we find a forest where neurodevelopmental and psychosocial problems go unrecognized and untreated'

Pathology in the Hundred Acre Wood: a neurodevelopmental perspective on A.A. Milne

- Canadian Medical Association Journal, 12 December 2000
[Courtesy of Louwrens]

You could always blindfold them

"It's creating a big weapon against Christians that's killing our faith... when children go to museums they'll start believing we evolved from these apes"

- Bishop Boniface Adoyo of Kenya, who is leading a campaign to have human fossil remains removed from the National Museum of Kenya [Observer, 10 Sept, reported in New Scientist, 16 Sept]

28 September 2006

The greatest writer of the last milennium

Amanda McKittrick Ros (1860-1939) claimed she'll be remembered for a thousand years for her writing. She might be, but only for the lurid prose such as this:

In Irene Iddesleigh she wrote: “Speak! Irene! Wife! Woman! Do not sit in silence and allow the blood that now boils in my veins to ooze through cavities of unrestrained passion and trickle down to drench me with its crimson hue!”

And musing on humanity she pronounced: “The living sometimes learn the touchy tricks of the traitor, the tardy, and the tempted; the dead have evaded the flighty earthly future, and form to swell the retinue of retired rights, the righteous school of the invisible, and the rebellious roar of the raging nothing.”

Discussing the Ros canon, the Times decides that 'all shared a passion for heaving bosoms, trembling lower lips, meaningful glances and endless alliteration'.

- The Times, 27 September 2006

Regulatory provisions pertaining to camp 1970s disco groups

Rules Protect Village People

Press Release by New Zealand First at 10:54 am, 28 Sep 2006

New Zealand First is pleased with the new set of rules applying to retirement villages, saying that they provide a level of protection that was previously lacking...

[Just found the press release title entertaining, nothing more...]

26 September 2006

Hamilton thief broadens his wardrobe options

A Hamilton strip club had its van stolen on Saturday. Luckily it was later recovered, but:

...missing from the vehicle was a sack containing about 50 items, including g-strings and some of the performers' costumes. Also missing was an inflatable penis Firecats had brought to help with promotions during last year's British and Irish Lions rugby tour.

Who could fail to agree with the club owner, who wondered aloud, 'I don't know what sort of person is running around with a sackful of panties and a large inflatable penis'?

- Waikato Times, 26 August 2006

White Jigsaw

An excellent way to get the braincells ticking to fill up a few spare minutes. Piece together the jigsaw to bring on larger and larger challenges. Gets trickier after the first couple, of course.

White Jigsaw - Flash game

[Courtesy of Nick V]

Leaders' jibes

Hugo Chavez called Dubya 'the devil' when he addressed the United Nations the other day. Now you can test your memory of other entertaining outbursts of undiplomatic language...

Guardian Unlimited | Quiz | Leaders' jibes

25 September 2006

Madonna the scientist

'It was like a crank call... the scientific mechanism and principles were just bollocks'

- A UK government official on being approached by Madonna and her husband Guy Ritchie with a scheme to clean up nuclear waste using a mystical Kabbalah fluid that had apparently been tested in a Ukrainian lake [Sunday Times, 20 August, reported in New Scientist, 26 August 2006]

The singular advantages of prevarication

'As far as the College Council is concerned I think the best policy will be one of ... er ... amiable inertia,' the Praelector suggested. 'That has always been one of our strong points'

'There's nothing like prevarication,' the Dean agreed. 'I have yet to meet a liberal who can withstand the attrition of prolonged discussion of the inessentials'

- The Fellows of Porterhouse College discuss how to ward off the evil of Reform, in 'Porterhouse Blue' by Tom Sharpe, 1974

24 September 2006

Google Maps quiz

Nice way to test your geography knowledge - click on the world map to indicate where you think the close-up picture is, and it'll tell you how close you got. Best I managed was within 62 miles. And yes, 11,000 miles is just about as wrong as you can get and still be on the same planet.

Mindpicnic | Google Maps Quiz

21 September 2006

The effect of Pluto's reclassification on astrology

'Many astrologers believe that Pluto's effects were seen in charts done centuries ago, even from the 1600s - effects that were mapped out more fully only after Pluto was discovered'

- Adel Ather, owner of an astrology studio in Toronto, claims that the new status of Pluto will not change its supposed "powerful" influence (Ottawa Citizen, 25 August)

'Western astrology uses Pluto as a planet while Pluto was always out of Indian astrology and we do not use it in our calculations'

- Astrologer Mangal Prasad concurs that the reclassification will not affect Indian astrology, though for the opposite reason (Kerala online, 29 August)

- Both quoted in New Scientist, 2 September 2006

What, he's never been in a boring meeting before?

Judge castigates sleeping lawyer in Saddam's trial

BAGHDAD, Sept 19 (Reuters) - The chief judge in Saddam Hussein's genocide trial castigated a defence lawyer for falling asleep during Tuesday's proceedings, as a witness was recounting a gas attack.

Banging his hammer, an angry Abdullah al-Amiri brusquely interrupted an ethnic Kurd recounting a gas attack in his village in northern Iraq in 1988 to berate one of the lawyers for Saddam and his six other co-accused. "It appears you're falling asleep!" the judge said.

- Reuters, 19 September 2006

Alternative contraception

'I wasn't entirely surprised by the South African government's display of lemons and beetroot as alternatives for the prevention of Aids. I once overheard a friend telling his teenage sister that the best prevention against unwanted pregnancy was an orange, held tightly between the knees all night'

- Letter to the editor, Economist, 16 September 2006

Krumping Kabinet

Tonight's TV3 news featured memorable video footage of the most astonishing dance moves ever executed by middle-aged men in positions of responsibility. Well, sober ones, anyway.

They were dancing at the launch of this anti-obesity initiative.

[The mean moves can be seen from 0:25 to 0.37. And if you don't know what krumping is, read this]

19 September 2006

Little Richard

It's a wonder Mr Bush hasn't thought of using Little Richard as his spokesman before. After all, LR is a consummate communicator with a proven track record and broad-ranging appeal. Plus he's excellent at going 'WOOOOO!!!'.

YouTube - President Bush uses Little Richard as translator

Waikato boring, Waikato newspaper inadvertently reports

The title sums it up really. And who knew there was a Tourism Waikato, or that it had closed down?

- Waikato Times, 18 September 2006

17 September 2006

Queues of Britain

What better way to document the culture of a nation than by recording its queues? Read this blog and learn all you'll ever need to know about Britishness.


[Courtesy of Louise]

14 September 2006

A regional specialty

Auckland has high finance, Rotorua has thermal activity, and Queenstown has great scenery. And of course Northland excels at something too: 'more than twice as many cannabis plants were seized in Northland in 2005-06 than in the next biggest dope-growing areas, Bay of Plenty and East Cape/Hawke's Bay'. Go Northland!

- Whangarei Northern Advocate, 14 September 2006

Through all the Assembly there's no greater pest

'Oh, Blank MHR is come out of the West;
Through all the Assembly there's no greater pest,
And save his assurance he talent has none,
Though for cool self-assertion he stands all alone...
He stops not for hiss, he stops not for groan,
He will raise points of order where points there are none;
He will talk by the bushel, though others may wait,
Till the clock marks the hour that adjourns the debate.
For lack of ideas and unlimited jaw,
Commend me to . . . and Blank MHR . . .
Ho! come ye to meddle, or come ye to mar,
Or to scatter your h's, big Blank MHR?'

- Poem by 'Kai wai wai' in the New Zealand Times, 19 August 1880, on Richard John Seddon ('Blank MHR'), who later became NZ's Premier for 13 years. 'MHR' = Member of the House of Representatives. Quote taken from 'Miners & Militants: Politics in Westland', Philip Ross May (ed.), Christchurch, 1975.

12 September 2006

Now that's quite staunch

They're touting this as the best cycling story ever (nothing like a little hyperbole!). A cyclist in Brixton gets shot in the knee... and promptly cycles himself to hospital.

Londonist: Best Cycling Story Ever?


'When his seriousness is questioned, [US singer and novelist, Kinky] Friedman points out that all the "serious" politicians talk in one-liners and soundbites too - only theirs are not funny. He adds that several of the serious politicians' policies are a joke. The Texas House last year passed a "booty bill" against sexy cheerleading. And in 1971 it unanimously passed a motion honouring the Boston Strangler, which a playful member had sponsored to demonstrate that his colleagues passed bills without reading them'

- Economist, 2 September 2006, on Kinky Friedman's campaign for Governor of Texas. His slogans are "Why the hell not?" and "How hard could it be?"

08 September 2006

The importance of knowing your target market

'A risqué dance show at an Australian government-backed climate conference has provoked a storm of disapproval. Models in corsets and stockings danced suggestively to 1950s hits at a dinner to round off the Australia and New Zealand Climate Forum in Canberra. The show was stopped after a number of delegates walked out, and the government has now asked for its sponsorship money back'

- BBC News, 8 September 2006

[The Australian also reports that 'one troupe member, who did not wish to be named, said burlesque was a "fun and healthy way to increase self-esteem and confidence. It is also a great protest to the stereotypical image of an attractive woman - in this sense we are fighting for feminism, not against it. It was a "great way for people to overcome any body-image issues", she said'. Solidarity, sisters!]

Kylie = George Michael

Rob from B3ta has discovered that if you slow down Kylie, it sounds just like George... well, more or less. Spooky, possums!

b3ta.com links

07 September 2006

Getting back into the swing of things

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Could I ask the Minister-

John Carter: Holiday over, is it?

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Madam Speaker.

Madam SPEAKER: Yes, would the member please-

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is Mr Carter exempt from the rules of this House?

Madam SPEAKER: No. The rules are, as I said, that members are allowed to make interjections on both questions and answers, but members must be heard.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Oh, OK.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: You've been away too long.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Yes, but I never lost my mind like you did.

Madam SPEAKER: Please, members. And may I say welcome back.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Thank you very much, Madam Speaker.

Madam SPEAKER: Now, let us have some order, please, where we just stick to the rules.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Could I ask-

Hon Dr Nick Smith: He always gets nasty.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: There he goes again. That boy is cruising for a bruising, I tell you.

Hon Members: Oh!

- Rt Hon Winston Peters returns to the House after extended sick leave, 7 September 2006

If only it actually fitted on the page

Local iwi in the Hawkes Bay are petitioning the Waitangi Tribunal to obtain some form of protection for the longest placename in the world, the hill known as 'Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamatea-turipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu'.

It's easy to pronounce, once you practice a bit, trust me.

- Hawkes Bay Today, 2 September 2006

Do they have lasers in their heads too?

Amazing slow-motion video of two sharks bursting from beneath the waves to munch on fur seals. The second one is particularly astonishing - he seems capable of self-propelled flight! Warning: seals were definitely harmed during the production of this film.

Videofeber: Vithaj imponerar

Jesus Camp

The trailer for this new doco (released in the US on 15 September) gives a bit of an idea how some young Americans are growing up all Jesus-y. 'Admirably even-handed' is one of the blurbs they quote during the promo. Looks a little spooky though, what with the cryin' and the hollerin' and so on. But it's all redeemed (so to speak) by the marvellous rats-tail / mullet on that little preacher kid...

Jesus Camp - Trailer

[Requires Quicktime 7]

A fairly long-term commitment

Sentenced on six counts of benefit fraud totalling over $56,000, a Wanganui woman now has to pay back $13 per week for the next 84 years. She'll be 117 years old by the time the debt is repayed. Nice to have something enduring to base one's life around, no?

- Wanganui Chronicle, 7 September 2006

For services to chauvinism...

P&O Cruises has won the annual 'Ernie Awards' for chauvinism in Australia for its oh-so-subtle 'Seamen Wanted' advert (see below). For more witlessness, read on though the link...

- Sydney Morning Herald, 25 August 2006

How lucky they just happened to be watching

When Ruth Byron told women’s magazines and television chat shows about a condition that caused her to experience up to 40 orgasms a day, the Department of Work and Pensions took a keen interest.

For the 50-year-old woman spoke not only about living with persistent sexual arousal syndrome — but also with a 22-year-old lodger. Benefit fraud investigators carefully monitored media coverage about Byron and realised that Simon Leach, the man she claimed was her lodger, was in fact her lover. They found that she had been overpaid £6,097 in housing and income benefits after lying to the department.

Yesterday Byron was sentenced to a two-year community rehabilitation order and told to pay £50 costs after she admitted four counts of benefit fraud.

- The Times, 24 August 2006

The importance of carrying spares

Wellington paralympic athlete Kate Horan has run (or rather, hopped?) into a spot of bother on the way to the world champs in Amsterdam - British Airways has lost her leg.

- Dominion Post, 29 August 2006

No movie is as full of perfect Zen emptiness

...in any form, seen in any direction, in any language, no movie is as full of perfect Zen emptiness as "M:i:III." It's the hole in the doughnut, the shoe that never drops, the sound of one hand clapping, the moon in reflection in the cold stream. It's there/not there at once. It's so... wonderful.

Shorn of its connection to the possibility of coherence, the movie was a giddy wonderland ride of primal joys and goober-instincts. It was so profoundly nothing, I fell in hopeless love with its gaudy surface, its glittery superficiality, its utter alienation from anything true about the world.

Cruise: Earnest, humorless, appearing to believe that which is before him (as nobody else could), he slides through the preposterous screenplay (some hugger-mugger about an arms dealer who's obtained the "Mousetrap," a WMD so terrifying the scriptwriters didn't even know what it was) with cosmetic cuts and bruises, attracting the love of all men and all women. Mentor, son, hero and jock, he's every man's ideal self and he's so... boring... he's wonderful. He's the perfect "O" in the center of all the shenanigans. You don't have to pay him a whisper of attention. His job was to say yes, attract the financing and let the movie go on about him.

- Stephen Hunter reviews Mission: Impossible III, Washington Post, 27 August 2006

[Courtesy of Louwrens. As of mid-July the film had grossed US$133m in America]

05 September 2006

The Fast and the Furious, Invercargill style

'An unregistered, rusting, and virtually immobile wreck taken from vacant farmland in Otatara could be bound for the scrap metal yard, Invercargill police said last night'

Source: Southland Times, 5 September 2006

[Never a dull moment in Invy!]

04 September 2006

Ever been had?

In Literary London, the Strange Case of the Steamy Letter


LONDON, Aug. 30 — To be duped into printing a made-up love letter in your latest biography is bad enough. But to discover that the ersatz document is actually a very rude insult aimed specifically at you: that is a rare kind of humiliation.

It happened recently to A. N. Wilson, one of London’s most visible and waspish literary figures, in “Betjeman” (Hutchinson), his book about the British poet laureate John Betjeman, who died in 1984. The document was a steamy letter purporting to be from Mr. Betjeman to a friend named Honor Tracy, and Mr. Wilson used it as evidence that the two had a passionate, if brief, affair.

But as it turns out, the first letters of each sentence, except the first, spell out an insulting sentence that starts with Mr. Wilson’s name and ends with a vulgarity [...]

Read on via the link, which includes a copy of the letter in question...

- New York Times, 31 August 2006

[Courtesy of Louwrens]

Middle East buddy list

Who hates who? Who's secretly best mates, when you get dowm to brass tacks? Check it out in this handy Middle East buddy list. It even includes the very handy category, "it's complicated"...

Source: Slate

Does VoIP offer proof-reading applications?

Linksys And Worldxchange To Market Voice-Over-IP Products To Consumers And Small Businesses In New Zealand

Press Release by Linksys at 11:15 am, 30 Aug 2006

WorldxChange to Offer Linksys VoIP Equipment to its Customers

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - 30 August 2006 - Linksys(r), a Division of Cisco Systems, Inc., and the recognised leading provider of voice, wireless and networking hardware for the consumer, Small Office/Home Office (SOHO) and small business customers, and WorldxChange, New Zealand's first fully convergent IP carrier (is WorldXChange the first fully convergent IP carrier in NZ?) today announced that it has entered into a marketing relationship to promote voice-over-IP (VoIP) products and services to consumers and small businesses [...]

[Courtesy of Junglette]

03 September 2006

Pesky zoo creatures

There's no point in explaining this game - you'll work it out straight away. Suffice it to say, it's still brilliant despite having been away from playing it for a couple of years. (It was featured in the glory days of the Very Friday Email, you see). As a rough guide for your progress, I've just had a stab and managed 15,510 points.

Zoo Keeper

[Requires Shockwave plugin. You also have to sit through a brief (15-second) Japanese cartoon ad for Shockwave. Warning: game is very addictive! Although you might want to turn off the slightly irritating music]

01 September 2006

Live and sarcastic at the MTV awards

Fluxblog's Matthew Perpetua sarks it up a storm in his minute-by-minute rundown on the exploits of the glimmerati at this year's MTV awards in NYC.

8:42 We know that the guy on the left is 50 Cent because he has the number 50 written out on his chest with dimes. (Fiddy has trouble with currency.)

9:02 The Pussycat Dolls give Snoop Dogg a shout out from the stage, and he responds with a look suggesting that performing on their single was like getting married in Vegas. You can see him trying to mentally erase himself from that video, but you know that he will be doing the walk of shame through Radio City for the rest of the night.

11:08 Al Gore's looking a bit goth. He's just doing a bunch of jokes about gas or something.

30 August 2006

Not the sort of low blow he expected

Oh dear. A man shoplifted... um, an apparatus... from a sex shop in Wellington, and now the shop owner has taped a security camera photo of the alleged offender in the front window, with the message, "When will he pay for the [intimate apparatus] he stole?".

- Dominion Post, 30 August 2006

29 August 2006

Creative lyrical interpretation

You’re a teaser, you turn ’em on
Leave them burning and then you’re gone
- 'Dancing Queen', Abba, 1976

You’re a teaser, you turn ’em on
Leave them bumming and then you’re gone
- 'Dancing Queen', Korean karaoke translation, 2006

28 August 2006

The most dedicated souvenir-hunter ever

'The body [of Francis Xavier, Apostle of the Indies, who died in 1552] was still fresh, the cheeks still pink, when the coffin was opened on its arrival in Goa to be deposited in the Jesuit college of St Paul. Once a year thereafter the body was exposed, a large number of people being allowed to approach and kiss the feet. On the first occasion one pilgrim, Isabel de Carom, bit off a toe and carried it away in her mouth'

- Michael Edwardes, 'Ralph Fitch, Elizabethan in the Indies', London, 1972. For more on Fitch, one of the first Englishmen to travel in South Asia, see here, and this article has some quotes from his writing]

24 August 2006

Don't be alarmed, but you're all going to die

Maybe it was a good idea to hold the conference in safe, flat Christchurch? Y'know, the Natural Hazards Management Conference. The one hyped frenetically by the Rotorua local paper in a subtly-titled article, 'Quake coming, experts warn: Doom for Rotorua, Taupo and Whakatane?' The journo revels in the opportunity to scare the bejeezus out of its readers:

Geology experts Tim Davies and Mauri McSaveney have predicted that an alpine fault earthquake is overdue, and would result in the East Cape ripping away from New Zealand, destroying the plateau that Rotorua is based on and taking Taupo and Whakatane with it.

The pair say the earthquake will strike "out of the blue" and cause widespread death, shut down power generators, create tsunamis within New Zealand and overwhelm emergency services.

"The most likely time [for the quake] is now. The next most likely time for it to happen is tomorrow," Associate Professor Davies, of Canterbury University, told the conference.

- Rotorua Daily Post, 24 August 2006

Guaranteed not to include exclamation marks

Once a staple source for the days-of-yore Word-document style Very Friday Email, the very excellent Dull Men's Club is still a bastion of nerdly pottering chap pursuits on the internet, and is still worth perusing.

Decked out in a stylish (and unexciting) dull grey colour-scheme, the DMC links to marvellous (yet resolutely unexciting) features like probably the world's largest list of airport baggage carousels (and whether they rotate clockwise or anticlockwise); a webcam inexplicably pointing at an extremely dull bus-stop in the Algarve at which no human being ever seems to wait; a history of folding chairs; and people who collect disused supermarket shopping lists left in shopping trolleys. Hours of entertainment for the dull or would-be dull [exclamation mark removed to avoid undullness].

[Courtesy of Felix]

Heart disease is pretty liberating, I guess

Sadly, the cafeterias in the US House of Representatives no longer offer 'Freedom fries' instead of French fries. A generation of satirists is thereby deprived of a mile-wide target for lampooning US foreign policy.

At the time, [Republican representative Bob] Ney, who together with Walter Jones pushed for "freedom fries", said the action was "a small but symbolic effort to show the strong displeasure of many on Capitol Hill with the actions of our so-called ally, France".

- Source: BBC News, 2 August 2006

The gastronomic equivalent of being punched in the gut by a mugger

"We're satisfying the serious meat lovers by leaving off the produce and letting them decide exactly how much meat and cheese they can handle," said Denny Marie Post, Burger King's chief concept officer, and a figure of some notoriety on the frontiers of fast-food science. I certainly discovered my own limits. Eating a BK Stacker Quad is the gastronomic equivalent of being punched in the gut by a mugger, except that instead of having all my money stolen, I was relieved of only $6.99, medium fries and soda included.

- Oliver Burkeman reports on the new BK Stacker Quad burger, Guardian, 23 August 2006

17 August 2006

There are no pictures of Maria Sharapova in this posting

'Maria Sharapova was outed as a philatelist last week. 'Oh, god, stop. Everyone's calling me a dork now,' the 2004 Wimbledon champion squealed. 'We're getting emails from, like, stamp collecting magazines asking if I can do an interview. I mean, it's just a hobby. I'm actually good at telling stories, but that is one I should never have talked about. Oh, my goodness. Let's get off this subject, becauseI'm going to be an absolute geek tomorrow'

Ah, the joys of Wimbledon. Pimm's, strawberries and cream, Maria Sharapova licking the back of your head...'

- Guardian Weekly, 7 July 2006

How women won the sex war

'Technology and globalisation are undermining the usefulness of male skills. Take map-reading. The female tendency to call for five right turns while holding the map upside down, playing "I spy" with the children and remarking on interesting features of the local half-timbering has been attested to over many decades by impartial scientists as well as by irritated husbands. But once satellite navigation rendered the ability to tell the cartographic difference between a car park and a lake redundant, that aspect of male superiority disappeared out of the window, along with the crucial pages of the road atlas that the toddler removed while practising his superior hand-eye coordination skills.


Not surprisingly, on average men were physically more aggressive. But in this case other work shows the danger of jumping too rapidly to a conclusion. A study done in 1994 hints that if women think that nobody is watching and judging them, and there are no physical consequences, they might be more aggressive than men'

- The Economist, 5 August 2006

From penthouse to pavement

Seems the biggest issue confronting Aucklanders at the moment isn't domestic violence, traffic congestion or the endless winter rain. No, it's whether footpaths should be black or red. Nice to keep a sense of perspective, isn't it?

- NZ Herald, 15 August 2006

[Courtesy of Mrs G. And by the way, 'Penthouse and Pavement' was the title of Heaven 17's first album... as if you needed to ask...]

10 August 2006

What Lindsay really meant

According to the Washington Post, here's what Lindsay Lohan really meant when she said she wanted to travel to the Middle East with Hillary Clinton and entertain the troops in Iraq.

"It's so amazing seeing that one woman [Marilyn Monroe, who performed for troops in Korea in 1954] just going somewhere, this beautiful sex kitten, who's basically a pinup, which is what I've always aspired to be," Lohan tells the magazine, adding that she would prepare for her trip to Iraq by taking shooting lessons with her security guard.

"Cuz Marilyn was also able to wear pretty clothes while metabolizing pretty heavy doses of booze and stuff. I think the perfect thing to add to that mix would be a gun. I'm sure there would be no problem with someone of my obvious talent and steady nerves carrying a gun around a U.S. Senator."

You'll need more than an umbrella

Hong Kong's culture of defenestration

“New York rain” is the local term for water that drips, annoyingly, from air-conditioners onto passers-by. In Hong Kong unwary pedestrians face more dangerous precipitation. On July 22nd a 78-year-old woman was rushed to hospital after a pair of scissors, hurled from a multi-storey building, lodged in her skull. The same day, a 28-year-old man in another part of the city suffered cuts after another pair of scissors hit him on the head, while a boy survived a brush with an iron bar lobbed from yet another high-rise window.

Despite all the modern sanitation at their disposal, many Hong Kong citizens still seem to prefer chucking rubbish out of the nearest window. As any housing estate resident will confirm, as well as a regular rain of beer cans and cigarette butts, other objects—used packets of Viagra, dirty cat litter, glass bottles, mattresses and even refrigerators—also fly past the window. Much of this is plain bad manners. But some also blame rising inequality for the downpour, which appears to be getting worse. Much of the object-throwing takes place in the city's public housing estates, where many of Hong Kong's poorer people live cramped together in tiny apartments. Many of their shoddily constructed buildings are crumbling: among the most common objects falling out of windows last summer were the windows themselves. As a result, the government had to spend HK$68m ($9m) on emergency maintenance of its housing.

Though the economy's recovery since the panic over the respiratory disease SARS in 2003 has lifted living standards, the fortunes of workers have lagged behind those of the middle classes. If people cannot heave their political masters out of office, they can at least heave a broken television out of the window. Given the mainland's far greater economic and social disparities, the authorities in Beijing must be hoping that this is one trend that does not spread north.

- Economist, 3 August 2006

Small but perfectly formed?

Outrage Over Burstyn's 15-Second Emmy Nomination

Ellen Burstyn's nomination for a Best Supporting Actress Emmy Award is being ridiculed by the US media, because the Oscar winner appears in Mrs. Harris for a mere 15 seconds. The HBO drama stars Sir Ben Kingsley as Dr. Herman Tarnower - the man who invented the Scarsdale diet - and Annette Bening as Jean Harris, the woman who murdered him. Burstyn appears in a flashback sequence, and her character is listed on the Internet Movie Database as "Ex-Lover Number Three."

The New York Post writes the 73-year-old's performance "required her to do nothing more than sit in a chair and speak three sentences of dialogue in a vaguely foreign accent." The newspaper claims Burstyn's nomination in the Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Miniseries Or A Movie category is indicative of the "deeply flawed process" leading to the nominations. Winners will be announced in Los Angeles on August 27.

- IMDB.com, 9 August 2006

[Courtesy of Louwrens]

08 August 2006

The sting is in the tail

Ian - Home At Last

Press Release by Green Party at 1:57 PM, 05 Aug 2006

Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons wishes Ian Ewen-Street well in his newly chosen home, the National Party.

"I'm not surprised by his choice. Ian was increasingly at odds with our caucus over recent years. He wanted to support National Party legislation, and their moves in select committee to water down environmental initiatives. He also wanted to support Labour's legislation on the Foreshore and Seabed,and was uncomfortable with the Greens' commitment to the Treaty.

"I do wonder how he will get on with the National Party's endorsement of genetic engineering, an issue he did care deeply about, and with their denial of climate change.

"MPs sometimes do change their political affiliation. We wish him all the best, and hope he can find some issues in the National Party that he wants to work hard on."



Someone took the Levi's ad rather too seriously

A Christchurch man has pleaded guilty to charges including an incident in which he:

...stripped in front of several adults and two young children in a central Christchurch laundrette on Friday, July 21. He took off all his clothes and placed them in a washing machine and then got other clothes out of his backpack and put them on. When the police arrived he was drinking a bottle of beer.

The story has already reached Australia, although as you'll notice the reporting isn't particularly distinctive.

- NZPA, 8 August 2006

A profound need to be spanked

"It's beyond Freudian, it's the American founding myth - the rebellious child who needs to be punished. Deep down - actually, maybe not that deep - most Americans have a profound need to be spanked by someone by a British accent'

- 'Cultural commentator' Tom Cowell, an Englishman living in Philadelphia, on the US's penchant for UK reality TV and Simon Cowell (Guardian Weekly, 28 July 2006)

[If you were wondering, Tom and Simon aren't related]

03 August 2006

Weebl & Bob are cold

Weebl and Bob have been feeling the heat, what with Blighty all crispy and sun-baked. So Weebl's taken matters into his own hands (although strictly speaking, he doesn't have any) and bought himself the world's biggest air-conditioner...

- Weebl & Bob: Cold

We've had it wrong all along

Turns out everyone's been pronouncing 'Gisborne' incorrectly . Obviously the vast majority of us haven't lost much sleep over it.

Source: Gisborne Herald, 3 August 2006

[Have a look at NIWA's Gisborne webcam if you feel like some Poverty Bay surf]

The 86 Rules of Boozing

Including all-time classics like:

- Unacceptable things to say after doing a shot: "Great, now I’m going to get drunk"

- If you owe someone twenty dollars or less, you may pay them back in beer.

- Your songs will come on as you're leaving the bar.

- Screaming, “Someone buy me a drink!” has never worked.

- Asking a bartender what beers are on tap when the handles are right in front of you is the equivalent of saying, “I'm an idiot.”

All this and more at:

Modern Drunkard Magazine - The 86 Rules of Boozing

I can think of other writers who probably shouldn't write either

“The Tintin books announce themselves on their front covers as ‘adventures’. This, plus their action-packed nature, might suggest that they are dominated by what Roland Barthes calls the ‘proairetic code’ – that is, the code of action. But, in fact, another code is equally, if not more, dominant: the code Barthes calls the ‘herme-neutic’.

What does the hermeneutic do? It is made up, Barthes tells us, of all the aspects of a text that ‘constitute an enigma and lead to its solution’… Tintin, means literally, ‘nothing’. His face, round as an O with two pinpricks for eyes, is what Herge himself described as ‘the degree zero of typeage’ – a typographic vanishing point.

Tintin is also the degree zero of personage. He has no past, no sexual identity, no complexities. Like Cocteau’s Orphee, who spends much of the film in the negative space or dead world on the far side of the mirror, he is a writer who does not write. ”

- Tom McCarthy, ‘Tintin and the Secret of Literature', Guardian (via Private Eye)

'Hopefully, it's a grounded spoiled'

The parents of wannabe singer-actor-celebrity Marissa Leigh, 16, of Scottsdale, Arizona, employ 10 people for her career development, according to an April Arizona Republic story, including manager; publicist; voice coach; two acting coaches; people to do makeup, hair and wardrobe; musical composer; photographer; and webmaster (plus, of course, an entourage of confidence-boosting friends).

"She's spoiled," said her mother, "but hopefully, it's a grounded spoiled." However, on her national TV debut, on MTV's "My Super Sweet 16" (a party which her parents spent $150,000 to stage), she was caught saying "I'm a princess" and "I'm such a rock star that I can do this" and "I always get exactly what I want."

Even after MTV cut the two songs she sang, she was optimistic: "(This show)'ll still put my name out there and stuff."

Source: Arizona Republic, 26 April 2006, via NewsOfTheWeird

[Marissa's website says she took the role of Helen Keller in a play, aged 7! Future Oscar-winner too, no doubt]

Yup, that's a really big pit

Goodness me, the Russians are just taking over the internet lately! Here's a site with pictures of an absolutely huge open-cast mine pit near Mirny. And when they say huge, they mean huge. It's, like, visible from space and stuff. And they've got the pictures to prove it.

Source: Popbitch

'All I need is a miracle...'

Town council douses miracle fountain

PILGRIMS who queued to drink from a miracle fountain flowing from a statue of the late pope John Paul II were disappointed to hear it is just a council-installed water pipe. Locals in the pope's birthplace of Wadowice, near Krakow, thought a miracle had happened when water started to run from the base of his statue.

Word spread throughout Poland and pilgrims from around the country visited to fill bottles with the "holy" water. However, Mayor Eva Filipiak dashed their illusions by admitting a water pipe had been installed under the statue.

"We didn't mean anything by it, it was just supposed to make the statue look prettier," she said.

- The Australian, 31 July 2006

The Magnificent Moscow Underground

Have a gander at these splendid panoramic photos of the Moscow Underground. An ideal venue for your next cocktail party, as long as everyone's got their tiaras and silver-topped walking canes handy.

Hole in one!

Okay, it doesn't sound like much - but these kids are bloody talented at chucking empty cans into far-distant rubbish bins whilst looking the other way, walking into the distance, carrying on conversations... all scored with an 80s-style techno beat. Who'd've thought litter disposal could be so cool...?

Videofeber: Kan du traffa papperskorgen?

Pretty in pink

I think it was all that black armour that made Darth Vader so mean-looking. Someone has obviously given Darth a wardrobe makeover. A little heavy on the Hello Kitty motif, perhaps.

Taking a sudden interest in archery

Ana Samways points out the differences between the UK and US promo pics of Keira for that rather footling King Arthur movie. Seems like there's been a bit of flesh rearrangement going on there - her stomach appears to have moved to her chest. Fancy that.

Source: Spare Room, 25 July 2006

[Actually I can confess a prior interest in archery - a temporary affliction due to the coolness (at the time) of Robin of Sherwood]

02 August 2006

Scarlett doesn't get out of bed for less than $18k

Does that title make any sense? Anyway, it seems Scarlett was briefly considering taking a role in a Lloyd-Webber musical on the West End stage. The Sound of Music, actually. And 'her people' were asking $18,000 per week, plus two backstage assistants at all times. Back in the day, wasn't it $10,000 that one required before one got out of bed in the morning? Of course, the article points out that you'd be getting Scarlett for a bargain at $18k a week. For a song, even.

Source: AP, 27 July 2006

The Governor-General, on receiving the Queen's Service Order (again)

'The opportunity to be Governor-General of this country carries many responsibilities, but it is also one of great privilege. I thank the people of New Zealand for their willingness to allow me to hold this role.

Prime Minister, on behalf also of Peter [Cartwright], may I thank the government for its advice to Her Majesty, which has resulted in the signal honour of each of us being made a Companion of the Queen's Service Order. I must admit that I am relieved to receive this honour. During my first days at Government House, I found a QSO on my dressing table and, as I did not recall receiving it at any point, asked where it had come from. I was told 'I think you will find, your Excellency, that this is yours.' Well I never wore it, as I was terrified that someone would say 'where did you get that from?' These fears were justified when, just a few days ago, the Head of the Honours Secretariat came to the House and removed it. I felt vaguely as if I was being cashiered, but no doubt some day the mystery will be explained'

- Dame Silvia Cartwright, Governor-General of New Zealand, at her State Farewell, 2 August 2006

Could you spell it out more bluntly, please?

'Japanese people simply aren't having sex'

- Kunio Kitamura, head of the Japan Family Planning Association, quoted in Japan Times, 22 June 2006

30 July 2006

How not to pull a sickie

Seems Lindsay Lohan's boss on her latest film isn't appreciating her constant late nights and not showing up for work, so he's sent her a stern letter, which was promptly leaked, presumably by the production company. I reckon it was the feeble excuses wot did it. Ain't the internet wonderful for prying into the pointless lives of the ludicrously over-exposed glimmerati!

Source: TheSmokingGun.com

Not Starring...

Notstarring.com is a site that details the movies stars turned down, the parts they tried for but didn't get, and a thousand intriguing coulda-beens. Like Pretty Woman for example - not sure if Al Pacino and Meg Ryan really had what it takes for the lead roles... And it seems Hollywood is every bit as predictable as you might imagine: check out how many movies Tom Cruise has been considered for. The lead roles in Edward Scissorhands and Footloose... nooooo!!!

[Courtesy of Davo]

28 July 2006

Internet '96

Here's what websites looked like 10 years ago, back when the world was in black & white and people communicated by telegrams and smoke signals. Here's my favourite bit (on the Pepsi site):

Oh God. Oh dear God in heaven no. Your first instinct will be to repeatedly jab a pinecone in your eyes, but please try to understand Pepsi's mindset. First, they were almost definitely drunk. Secondly, they knew that the internet was in some way related to computers, so the idea was to make their website very evocative of a computer. I'm not convinced they understood what a computer was, but when they closed their eyes and thought about computers, this monstrosity is what popped into their drunken heads.

Source: B3ta

Cats in Sinks

Does what it says on the tin. Pictures of cats in sinks, that is. Watch out or they'll take over the bathroom just like they've taken over the rest of the house...

27 July 2006

This egg is brought to you by...

Fed up with ads? Well now you can also be literally fed with them, because a US TV network is branding its logo onto 35 million eggs in America. Soon to be seen at a supermarket near you, no doubt. I think our cash-strapped hospitals should laser-etch sponsors' logos onto babies' foreheads. This would provide instant brand recognition, and would also be a strong incentive for the private sector to contribute to quality public health initiatives, because it means their advertising will live longer.

Source: New York Times, 17 July 2006

[Courtesy of Louwrens]

Illiterate Spirit Frustrates Ouija-Board Players

STRATTANVILLE, PA — Late-night attempts to contact the spirit world proved more frustrating than enlightening for a slumber party of Strattanville teens Saturday when the only spectre they were able to contact suffered from borderline illiteracy, sources said. The poorly educated revenant frustrated the séance participants, who quickly grew impatient with such otherworldly messages as "W-U-R-N-N-G—F-U-M—B-A-Y-O-N—T-H-E—G-R-A-V" and other hard-to-interpret information. Organizer Olivia Bamberger, 13, said they were all "embarrassed for the guy," and finally asked the wraith to tell them the future and "sound out the big words."

Source: The Onion

The decline and fall of Mickey Rourke

Christ, Mickey Rourke's gone downhill fast! Thank you, NW magazine, for this vital insight... with the all-important picture, and details of his finger-severing anger management issues.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, 19 July 2006

[Courtesy of Jeneva]

"Get Culkin!"

Alternate headline: 'World Cheers As Hezbollah Attempts to Whack Whiney Former Child Star'. Although I guess if he gets to go out with her we can't really poke that much fun at him.

Source: Stuff.co.nz, 19 July 2006

25 July 2006

The 25 Biggest Wusses in Music

This list from Blender of the most feeble and push-overable personages in rock features Donovan, Barry Manilow, Chris Martin, Chicago's Peter Cetera and Everyone in N'Sync Except Justin Timberlake. What - no James Blunt!?

Source: Blender

[Okay, I admit that I officially more-or-less like seven of these dudes! Ye gods, I need to harden up and get some cred...]

22 July 2006

Sodium diacetate, my favourite!

A label on a Florida airport croissant has approximately a gazillion ingredients listed. It'd be almost comic if it wasn't also just a little bit scary...

Source: Frogblog

21 July 2006

Unwanted spectators at Tongan airport

TONGA: Goats Invade Runway

The pilot of an Airlines Tonga flight into Salote Pilolevu airport in Ha'apai was forced to abort a landing when stray goats found their way on to the tarmac. The pilot made a second circuit of the airport before landing safely. One of the passengers, Magistrate Lokotui, says airport employees have told him that the fence around the airport is full of holes and cattle sometimes wander onto the tarmac. He says if there are holes in the fence, they should be mended straightaway. He says lives could have been lost and urged the appropriate authorities to take action.

- RNZI Online, 20 July 2006

[Courtesy of TT]

Build it indoors next time, chaps

An eagle-eyed Google Earth user has spotted this weird outdoor mock-up of a mountain range in the Huangyangtan region in the backblocks of China, and it's got the blogosphere wondering what the Chinese are up to. How very Lilliputian of them.

- Sydney Morning Herald, 20 July 2006


Why not Generate your own Brazil football shirt? I'll only answer to the name "Ethisco" from now on, thankyou very much...

19 July 2006

But Steriogram and the Feelers aren't cool!

As seen on tonight's news, courtesy of Scoop, here's the Powerpoint presentation from April's National party conference, outlining how National should re-position itself as a "cool" party. Someone out there thinks the Women's Weekly desperately needs a dose of Judith Collins!

"Cool" National Party PowerPoint Presentation

14 July 2006

Racing Grannies

SpareRoom has spied the ideal gift for speed freaks who are tired of endless car racing games: a matched pair of Racing Grannies, complete with zimmer frames. Wind 'em up and watch 'em burn rubber (well, as fast as surgical footwear will allow).

Source: SpareRoom CoolFinder, 22 June 2006