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.