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.