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Showing posts from February 24, 2008

Book Review

Richard Bach, Johnathan Livingston Seagull Look at the seagull pictured above. Look into his eyes. Isn't he nice? He is a nice seagull. The other seagulls do not understand him. They do not try to understand him. Yet he loves them nonetheless. There you go, no need to read it now. Thank god this only took half an hour to read. For some reason this book appeals (once appealed?) to many, many people. I'd not read it before, but have long been aware of its reputation (although it has always been in association with Neil Diamond). I was after a quick read to break up my Richard Ford trilogy, so finally got around to reading it. I honestly can't say that I regret doing so, even if I find the writing simplistic to the point of irritation, the narrative trite and self-satisfied, and the subject matter overwhelmingly banal. By god the late-1960s counterculture must have taken a turn for the worse if millions embraced this in the 1970s. Honestly, if anyone is looking for the embodim

Stinking Cheats

In the wake of Essendon’s tragic defeat at the hands of St Kilda last night, everyone’s favourite whiner Paul Roos is in the hot seat following an allegation he urged one of his own forwards to help ensure the Swans lost their NAB cup game to the Hawthorn/Tasmanian Hawks. Apparently, an interchange steward reported comments made by Roos late in the game played in Launceston. The Herald Sun reports that the steward told league officials that Roos used words to the effect of: "Go forward, just don't kick a goal." Now we know that ‘Snooze’ Roos doesn’t care too much about the pre-season comp (no wins in six years), but to actually have evidence that they played dead is pretty explosive. Remember, this is on top of a six year stint as coach with what appears to be the central goals of (in order of importance) first, annoying me and second, destroying football from within by employing a dull, negative and unwatchable game plan . The game is considered a ‘live’ one, with

The Statistical Assessment Service

The non-profit, non-partisan Statistical Assessment Service (STATS) is an excellent resource on the use (and abuse) of science and statistics in the media. An affiliate of George Mason University in Virginia, STATS sets about identifying and correcting scientific misinformation in the media resulting from bad science, politics, or a simple lack of information or knowledge; and to act as a resource for journalists and policy makers on major scientific issues and controversies. Their website canvases a wide variety of issues. Some of their discussions that interests me most include What Science Really Says About the Benefits of Breast-Feeding ; The Risks of Television ; the links between autism and vaccines ; and an excellent and balanced exploration of the much commented upon Lancet study into deaths in Iraq, The Science of Counting the Dead . Now if it sounds like a promotional blog here, it sort of is. I'm pilfering something I've written for work-related purposes promoti

Well, I declare...

For all of you empire builders out there, Joshua Keating's guide "How to Start Your Own Country in Four Easy Steps" is now available from Foreign Policy magazine. A lot of people have been emboldened by Kosovo's recent declaration of independence, and you may have been thinking that you've left it too damn long, and that it's about time you set up your own country. Keating outlines this in just four easy steps. Well worth a read.

Lunch

Jennifer has sent me this picture of Henry at lunch today. I appears he decided that all he was going to eat for lunch was yogurt, and if he wasn't allowed to feed himself he wouldn't have any of that either. Apparently, his aim isn't too poor; he's just not too very adept at turning the spoon around.

Quickie Book Reviews

I'll quickly whip through a few here.   Vendela Vida, Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name The story is interesting enough, but an annoying central character and clumsy dialogue spoil it for mine. Avoid.   W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz I really expected to enjoy this more than I did. A remarkable main character, fascinating story and it covers a topic that interests me greatly. Yet it left me cold. Maybe it is Sebald's narrative approach, but I just found it a bit of a grind. Not for the faint hearted!   Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle I've not read a lot of Dick as sci-fi has never really been my thing. However, I do have some time for alternate history, especially if it is well done. Dick does a convincing enough job envisioning a world in which the Axis powers emerged victorious in the Second World War, and delivers a decent little page-turner to boot. Recommended.   Peter Roebuck, It Takes All Sorts I've both bagged and pra

Ads that I Like #20

Here's what I imagine this fine cock is bellowing (in an Ivan Drago-accent) "Superior Soviet chickens will crush your decadent and puny capitalist fowl!" Here is a Soviet era advertisement for chickens. Or eggs. I'm guessing. If anyone can read Cyrillic, please let me know.

QE II

An amusing occurrence on the bus this morning that I thought I'd share. The driver had stopped to let some people on, and called out to the passengers "If you look down the river, there is a lovely view of the QE II under the bridge". Now, she was correct, there was a lovely view of the familiar (and still striking) QE II framed elegantly between the pylons of the Tasman Bridge on a slightly gloomy Wednesday morning. It was well worth the observation and I'm glad that she pointed it out. However, the entertaining part was the absolute lack of recognition among the school kids that dominate the trip. The driver's remark sparked a frenzied debate about what exactly it was she was talking about. One guy (maybe thirteen) reckoned that it was "something foreign" (perhaps hearing 'keweetoo' and mistaking it for a Finnish football team). Another girl thought that it might be an expensive Italian car. It interests me that they didn't seem to be awar

You’re It!

For the first time ever I have been tagged in one of these internet games of catch 'n kiss. I'm not sure of the etiquette here, do I thank "Tara A. Rowe" of The Political Game , if I do, I'll say thank you Tara from Idaho. I really, really hope that you stumbled across my meagre little blog because I posted something on the wonderful potato a while back ! I know that Idahoans must get awfully sick of hearing about potatoes, but as a Tasmanian, I say that we should be proud of the humble spud! Apparently I am to do five things: Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages). Open the book to page 123. Find the fifth sentence. Post the next three sentences. Tag five people. All right then, to the book! "He is from a large local family of Sicilian policemen, and he and I have often passed words on street corners or chatted reticently over coffee at the Coffee Spot, though we've actually never "met." I have tried to talk him out of a half-dozen pa

Another Book Review!

Robert Edwards, White Death: Russia's War on Finland 1939–40 One of the most captivating (yet little known) stories of World War II concerns the valiant Finnish defence against the invading Red Army through the winter of 1939–40. The Soviet Union's invasion of Finland in November 1939 prompted a combination of shock and outrage in the international community. Yet, three months after the invasion of Poland by Germany, reaction amounted to little more than the Soviet expulsion from the already dead League of Nations. In all respects, the results of what became known as the Winter War conflict seemed a foregone conclusion. The Soviet Army was reputed to be the best in the world, and the Finns outnumbered 4 to 1 in men, 200 to 1 in tanks and 30 to 1 in aircraft. However, to everyone's surprise, the Finns resisted the Soviet advance and became an international cause celebre. For over three months and with little outside assistance (much to the shame of the West), it looked

Out in force again

In a good example of the point that I was trying to make last week , the ABC's Unleashed website (sometimes good, sometimes bloody awful) ran a pretty straightforward piece critical of the Castro regime . The article itself was par for the course; nothing new or surprising, but to be honest it's pretty tame as far as the anti-Castro brigade go. Yet it's the comments page that strikes me. Seriously, how do people manage to balance their anti-imperialist fury against some of the less savoury aspects of Fidel's rule? Are they wilfully ignorant, or just ignorant? Maybe two wrongs can make a right?

Oratory

A link that I received from my brother, and following on with the football theme, here is a magnificent, eloquent three quarter time rev up from a coach to his charges. Right up there with Lincoln, Churchill and anything Gregory Peck had to say in To Kill A Mockingbird , this fellow brings a tear to the eye as he seeks to draw the last essence out of the players. I feel that a run for the Presidency is in order, imagine this guy letting Iran what for! [May contain some NSFW language]