30 September 2008
29 September 2008
I was presenting an evening show across several northern local radio stations, combining news and sport. My guest was the former Liberal MP Michael Meadowcroft, newly returned from former Yugoslavia, where he had been advising on how democracy could be brought to the region.
Alongside my conversation with Meadowcroft, I was to take regular reports from numerous midweek football matches across the north. While I was lining up the football reports, I half-listened to the internationally renowned expert on democracy explaining how unstable the situation is in the Balkans, and how it was essential for the future of Europe that a lasting peace was achieved.
"The Balkans," he said, "is where the flame was lit that ignited the Great War, and it is no exaggeration to say that if we do not get this right, it could lead to a confrontation from which the world might not recover." To which I responded with the immortal words: "I'm afraid I'm going to have to interrupt you there, there's been a goal at Chesterfield."
- Guardian, 29 September 2008
27 September 2008
[I]n Invercargill, 24-year-old travel consultant Rob Wilson said he was switching to National because Labour had simply "had their day".
"New Zealand needs a strong leader to get it economically focused and Labour is not providing that," he said.
"Neither is National really, but change is as good as a holiday."
- NZ Herald, 27 September 2008
25 September 2008
In 2006, researchers from the Institute of Public Health at the University of Southern Denmark examined a range of possible factors, from genes to cycling habits to cuisine. In a charming report, they offered two explanations: the Danes have never got over their rapture at winning the European football championships in 1992 (their happiness rose to new peaks that year, and has stayed on a plateau since), and—the main finding—Danes, unlike the woeful Greeks and Italians, have very low expectations of the immediate future. "Year after year," the researchers write, "they are pleasantly surprised to find that not everything is getting more rotten in the state of Denmark."
- Sally Laird, 'Why Hamlet's Heirs Are Happy', Prospect Magazine, September 2008
See also her interview with Lauren Laverne on the Festival Show.
23 September 2008
Presenter: Hello and welcome to 'Coverage of People Running a Safari Park' and I'm talking to John who looks after the zebras which you can't see because they ran away from the camera. John, what are you doing?
John: I'm getting the zebras their zebra food.
Presenter: Do the zebras find it colder here in Wiltshire than in Africa?
John: They do, because it is.
Presenter: Well, while we let John who you don't know get on with his job which he does every day, Jilly has been talking to Head Tree-counter Mike.
[Cross to Jilly]
Mike: Fifteen thousand, fifteen thousand and one...
Jilly: So Mike, we're getting coverage of you counting trees, is that right?
Mike: Yeah... Oh, I've lost count. [Starts again] One, two, three, four...
- That Mitchell And Webb Look, s1 e2
22 September 2008
18 September 2008
So, no-one apart from the three people, that is? Those little numbers are so fiddly, after all.Peter Dunne came to talk but no one came to listen.
The United Future leader didn't pull the punters to a public meeting yesterday with just three members of the public attending.
- Timaru Herald, 18 September 2008
16 September 2008
- Stanley J Krammerhead III, Jr. (Occasional Visiting Professor of Applied Narcotics at the University of Please Yourself, California), played by Eric Idle, in The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash, 1978
As with the flight attendants I worked with earlier, my new companions described their job as being one where they constantly had to calibrate the mood of the passengers. "Over a typical month," said Tim, "I will be a teacher, I will be a pastor, I will be a counselor, I will be a mediator." As he slid his 5-foot-11-inch frame into the sliver of space between the cockpit and the first-class bathroom, he slumped into the jump seat and let out a barely audible sigh. "I'll have to tell people that a two-and-a-half-foot-deep bag will not fit in a one-and-a-half-foot hole," he said."People need to understand that the rules of social order do not go away when you get on an airplane," Tim added, his Texan twang kicking up a notch as he laid down his commandments. "You cannot have sex on an airplane. When you purchase a ticket, that does not give you the privilege of yelling at me. It does not give you the privilege of sitting anywhere you want to sit. They assign you a seat. I do not have an extra airplane in my pocket if my flight's delayed."
15 September 2008
12 September 2008
...there are too many reports of you in your underwear for me to ignore.
- NZ Herald, 11 September 2008
[Courtesy of Matthew]
11 September 2008
(Lin Biao (also Piao) was a famous revolutionary general who rose to become Mao's anointed successor, but died in a 1971 plane crash after what appeared to be a coup against Mao)
LP Cover Lover - Mao Sounds
It was bad enough that he targeted the Napier District Court building, worse that it was broad daylight, and still worse that it was in front of a security camera.
They're right you know: there's a very clear CCTV picture in the article. Wave hello! Bit of a waste of money imprisoning someone for a tagging offence, but still, he did make it rather easy for the authorities so perhaps there was some lenience in the sentence!
- Dominion Post, 11 September 2008
10 September 2008
The notice would be perfectly valid as a reminder for foreigners at the exit of a seaport or airport or crossing the border from Norn Ireland, but in Killaloe, you're just crossing the Shannon to the other side, so why is it there? And it's supported on two huge pieces of scaffolding embedded in concrete, so whoever put it there, put it there for keeps. Who is the guy on the County Council who sanctioned the notice and signed off on its construction, and what was he thinking of at the time? Wouldn't you just love to find out how his mind works?'
- Irish Independent, 8 October 2006
09 September 2008
'...wanting a slightly anaemic-looking accountant as leader seems to be the watermark of all peaceful, civilised countries. The election of a buff leader almost invariably leads to trouble. Ólafur Grimsson, President of Iceland, for instance, looks like someone who eschews the viscerality of tea in favour of a weak, lemony drink. In New Zealand, Helen Clark had her most controversial moment when, at a charity auction, she attempted to pass off another person's watercolour sketch as her own. As for Pascal Couchepin of Switzerland, he might - just - be able fight his way out of a single wet paper bag. But if two were to come at him at once - game over.Russia elects Vladimir Putin, on the other hand - a man who releases topless, buff shots of himself - and suddenly there's nuclear and Chechnya and Cold War all over the place. It's almost as if, should you vote in a leader who appears to have a "surviving a geo-political meltdown, merely with the power of his fists" function, you shouldn't be surprised if, one day, he wants to test it'
Six years later, Pew again measured public knowledge of current events and found that the young (aged 18 to 29) "know the least." A majority of young respondents scored in the "low knowledge" category -- the only demographic group to do so.
And some other statistics are even more alarming. How many young people read newspapers? Just 20 percent. (Worse, studies consistently show that people who do not pick up the newspaper-reading habit in their 20s rarely do so later.) But surely today's youth are getting their news from the Internet? Sorry. Only 11 percent of the young report that they regularly surf the Internet for news. Maybe Obama shouldn't be relying on savvy young voters after all'
- Rick Shenkman, '5 Myths About Those Civic-Minded, Deeply Informed Voters', Washington Post, 7 September 2008
Even in our own homes, you go home, turn on your home computer and bingo - out come the p0rnographic sites. You are hit again and again.
~ Senator Guy Barnett, Lib, Tas
You have only got to press P on the Internet and all this stuff appears free of charge in front of you
~ Senator Paul Calvert, Lib, Tas
I can only hope I never work out how to 'press P on the internet' so I can avoid getting punched in the face by bingo-p0rn.
- Emma Hart, 'Young and sort of free', Publicaddress.net
08 September 2008
05 September 2008
04 September 2008
It is a strange world, marked by an aching pedantry, Talmudic parsings of fine-printed traffic tomes, and ridiculously hypothetical scenarios that tend to have nothing at all to do with the traffic environment in which we will spend our lives.Any driver, anywhere, can recall the darker moments of these tests. I was told of a nettlesome question from the UK test that has taken on a near-mythological status; namely, what to do when approaching a horse and rider on a roundabout. The correct answer is something of a national refrain, gaily sung from Bournemouth to Blyth: you should expect the rider to go in any direction! On the French test, I had read, lurked this query: "If you are driving down the road and a woman with a pram steps out from the pavement, should you stop or keep going?" The answer, which seems part of some covert Gallic population-reduction scheme, is: "Keep going. This will discourage pedestrians from behaving recklessly."
03 September 2008
Delayed = This service is delayed
No report = There is no report on the progress of this service yet
On time = This service is on time
Starts here = The service has not yet started the journey
Cancelled = The service has been cancelled
But now they can't. They don't want to be seen celebrating during Hurricane Gustav. And the Democrats don't want to be seen celebrating about the fact the Republicans can't celebrate during Hurricane Gustav.
So at the moment everybody on both sides is being sensitive; nobody is engaging in the hyper-partisan cheap-shot dung-flinging that is the life blood of American politics. Yes, incredible as it seems, both major parties have managed to set aside their sleazy attack-ad gamesmanship to focus on what is actually best for the nation. We can only pray, as Americans and as members of the news media, that this does not last'
- Dave Barry, Miami Herald, 1 September 2008
- Brisbane Times, 2 September 2008
02 September 2008
The primary custodians [of the Church] are the Eastern Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, and Roman Catholic Churches, with the Greek Orthodox Church having the lion's share. In the 19th century, the Coptic Orthodox, the Ethiopian Orthodox and the Syriac Orthodox acquired lesser responsibilities, which include shrines and other structures within and around the building...
Under the status quo, no part of what is designated as common territory may be so much as rearranged without consent from all communities. This often leads to the neglect of badly needed repairs when the communities cannot come to an agreement among themselves about the final shape of a project. Just such a disagreement has delayed the renovation of the edicule, where the need is now dire, but also where any change in the structure might result in a change to the status quo disagreeable to one or more of the communities.
A less grave sign of this state of affairs is located on a window ledge over the church's entrance. Someone placed a wooden ladder there sometime before 1852, when the status quo defined both the doors and the window ledges as common ground. The ladder remains there to this day, in almost exactly the same position. It can be seen to occupy the ledge in century-old photographs and engravings.
Monty Python would've appreciated the logic. Plus it's always a hassle putting ladders away. Far better to leave them out (for 160-odd years). See below for pictures of the ladder in 2005 and 1892:
- Source: Wikipedia
01 September 2008
An email pops up from a new member with a question: "At what age are 'dual-purpose' hens reasonable eating?" And that's when "it blew up," explained long-time member Laura McCrae in a phone interview last week. "It was the first time the subject had ever come up."The first email back was a sardonic slap. "Eat them now. Why wait? The little nuggets are the best ones!" McCrae remembers, "There had been a couple people asking what to do with extra roosters, and a couple of times it was jokingly suggested that you could eat your chicken, but this was the first time somebody had deliberately asked, what if I wanted to eat my chicken." A second member shared her own recent run-in with the distasteful topic. "Since I found out I have a rooster, many people have suggested we eat him. Yikes! He's just a little guy."
"Here in Seattle, we're allowed to keep chickens only as pets," someone reminded the group. "I understood when we got Mikala that we were making an agreement to keep Seattle ordinance. I love her and would do anything I could to stop anyone or anything from harming a feather on her body." The group's leader weighed in. "Simply take the unwanted bird to the vet and have it humanely euthanized. If you wish, hold your pet while it is being done. I can hear you farmer types laughing but most of us were not raised on farms and these chickens are our PETS."
Eating pets? Come to think of it, who determines the boundaries here - dachsund doner with tabby tebbouleh, anyone?
- 'The chicken lovers' nightmare', Macleans.ca, 27 August 2008
Over the years, the two have become "frenemies," as Time magazine put it; not quite friends, not quite enemies. "They're friendly," said Senator Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican and McCain ally who has watched the two men up close. "They don't hang out together. I don't think John's ever been to Camp David. I think it's respectful. President Bush respects Senator McCain, and I think Senator McCain respects the office of the presidency."