Sunday, May 28, 2006


Mostly we were up for sunrise while we were on holidays - and every day was different. My aunt, who was with us for most of the week, kept missing sunrise so I'll print her off a couple of shots and send them to her.

Here Kitty

The first pic is of the kitty recently acquired by friends in Sydney. Imagine then our surprise when we found its twin living with our friends on the Gold Coast!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


We are on the plane enroute to Queensland's Gold Coast and our first truly family holiday in 16 years. Funnily enough, we are congregating at a block of units that most of us have spent time at previously, at Burleigh Heads, with sweeping views of the ocean and a long sandy beach. There's also a great walkway beachside, flat - and only a little dangerous depending on how many cyclists and other wheeled tourists are out and about.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Miner story

The Beaconsfield Miners were rescued last Tuesday morning and returned to the surface moments before 6am. Since then, despite a couple of media appearances, the world has been waiting to hear their story. But there was a small issue of a media deal to be brokered first - and that now seems to be in place. Reports I've read suggest the miners have accepted a deal worth $2 million from Publishing and Broadcasting Limited (Channel 9, Woman's Day, Bulletin) and coverage will start with a two-hour interview program in prime-time this coming Sunday evening. Good on them - and doubly so if there is any truth to rumours of them setting up a Foundation to help share the proceeds with the Beaconsfield community.

Mysterious or suspicious?

What is the difference between "mysterious circumstances" and "suspicious circumstances"? Is there a difference in legal terms? And who knew there used to be a radio program called "Mysterious Circumstances" (available through Radio of Yesteryear for those who knew it, loved it and miss it). Who knew there was also a book of the same title and an independent film?

Blog #

Hands up everybody who can guess what number blog this is for Musings - and why I am so keen to get it up and move on to the next one as quickly as possible? Give in? Here's a clue: the last one was No. 665 and the next one will be No. 667.

Folder or Scruncher

Be you a folder or a scruncher? That's the question being asked by a toilet tissue provider here in Australia as part of a recent promotion. And would you be prepared to have your preference tattooed across one of your bottom cheeks - and would your answer change if you were offered $AUS20,000 to do it? I asked Sooz this question this morning - and, to my amazement, she said she would do a tattoo for that kind of money. Still, she's had her ears pierced and is used to physical pain I guess. Me, I don't know that I would be persuaded by the cash - regardless of how big the amount. (And if you did, would it be tax-free - especially if you did it as part of a television show - as two people did last night on Channel TEN's Rove Live - or they were in the process of going off to the tattoo people when I turned off the set to go to bed.)
And on the subject of Folding or Scrunching - what do you reckon your friends are. And isn't it amazing that regardless of how you manage your toilet paper, you can't imagine that people would/want to do it any way besides the way you do it!

Hot pursuit

Imagine you're a police officer, out on patrol, and you see a car speed past. You're sure (you check) that it's stolen. What do you do? Do you set off in pursuit, at speed? Or arrange for an intercept down the road- by helicopter, or other squad cars? And if you chose to go in pursuit, do you do so with sirens blazing? And would your decision be influenced by your location - city or country? Would you be worried about the possibility of "collateral damage" to innocent bystanders, those involved in the chase, property. Is there a better way to apprehend these wrongdoers?

What price democracy?

I've been listening to The Media Report (ABC Radio National via podcast) lately and the question was posed: "Do we need to curtail democracy in order to save it and spread it?" The question relates to the increasing restrictions on personal freedoms in order to monitor for terrorist activities, eg there is talk of the U.S. recording all phone conversations there -although it's not clear how they would be able to analyse them in a timely manner to detect suspicious conversations. But it's not just there. and not necessarily about monitoring for terrorist plots. There are moves (again!) here in Australia for the introduction of an identification Smartcard- on the pretext that this will help stamp out rorting of the welfare system. It may well do, but it would also provide a window into people's lives that could be abused and which could probably not be adequately safe-guarded in terms of privacy, civil liberties and personal freedom. And before the arguments of "If you've nothing to hide, why would you be concerned" surface, that's not the issue. The issue is that more and more governments are intruding on peoples lives without giving adequate justification for their actions. If we are to be co-opted into giving up freedoms to become foot soldiers in the War against Terror, at least come clean about the real level of threat, and the forms this takes. And for goodness sake, give some credible reasons for turning attention (and attack fronts) to Iran.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Still not safe ...

Okay, so after the recent blog about Florida alligators, I know I would be wary of going near the water ... and with good cause. There have been two more fatalities related to alligators in Florida In the last few days. The Gainesville media had further details.

Tuesday - Yovy Suarez Jimenez, 28, was found dismembered in a canal in Broward County. Authorities believe an alligator dragged her into the water.

Sunday - Annmarie Campbell, 23, was snorkeling in Juniper Creek in Marion County when she was fatally attacked. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Sunday - Judy W. Cooper, 43, was found dead in a canal in Pinellas County with alligator bites officials believe at least contributed to her death, if they weren't the sole cause. She's believed to have been dead for several days.

Monday, May 15, 2006


Do antidepressants increase the risk of suicide attempts? A recent study found that 11 of 3,455 people (mostly in the age group 18 to 30) taking Paxil for depression reported an attempted suicide, compared with 1 in 1,978 taking placebos. But experts have debated the interpretation and value of these findings. Do the benefits outweigh the risks for people with depression? And how well monitored are people newly prescribed antidepressants?
And was the level of depression for each taken into account? I seem to recall from my undergraduate Psychology, that if a person was truly depressed (and this is a fairly simplistic way of putting it) they didn't attempt to commit suicide; the danger point was when they started to feel a little better!

Moussaoui Appeal

Was Moussaoui to hijack the 5th plane on 9/11 as he has claimed, or is he mentally disturbed? Why was he given a life sentence rather than sentenced to death? And did he really plead guilty because he didn't think there was any way he could get a fair trial in America? Did he plead guilty only because he wanted to be given the death sentence and die a martyr? Will any of this become any clearer now he has appealed the final judgment and sentence? And if he was to be the 5th hijacker, has he been able to identify others who would have flown with him? (See "More".)
In an interesting point, Moussaoui had been advised in court that in pleading guilty he had waived his right to ever appeal his convictions.
Also on the Moussaoui case, the Jury forewoman has told the New York Times that it was a single juror who prevented the death sentence judgement. At no point did that juror identify themself or put forward their argument/s for discussion.
More: Moussaoui shouted out in court: "Crazy or not crazy? That is the question." He also said that Richard Reid, the British shoe bomber, was to act as his accomplice in hijacking a fifth plane - but there is no evidence of that - and Reid was not in the US at the time.

Fatal jog

There have been 18 fatal alligator attacks in Florida since 1948. (Nine more are unconfirmed.) The latest appears to have been 28-year-old jogger Yovy Suarez Jimenez whose dismembered body was found in a canal on Wednesday. Witnesses saw a woman matching Suarez's description dangling her feet over the water's edge, but no one saw the attack. The Broward County medical examiner has concluded "the alligator attacked the woman while she was on land" and then dragged her body into a canal. He added that she "died of traumatic injuries sustained by an alligator attack, a mixture of blood loss and shock, and in my opinion died very fast." Authorities killed an alligator caught Thursday night but determined it did not kill Jimenez as its stomach contained only tennis balls and a football. Trappers continue to search for the killer alligator.
In the articles I read, here was no mention of whether there are signs warning of the danger - and, if so, whether these signs are displayed in multiple languages.

Judgment Call

I wouldn't want to be in law enforcement for anything - really - even though I have toyed with the idea. You'd have to have a very strong sense of justice and of people.
Take the disappearance of 6-year-old Aarone Thompson, who was reported missing on 14 November. Her father Aaron told police that she became upset and left the house when he refused to let her have a cookie. Three days later, police halted their search and said they believed Aarone may have been dead as long as 18 months. They said they received a tip but have not released any specifics.
The cases was due to go before a Grand Jury within the next few days but this may now be delayed because Shely Lowe, the woman sharing the house with Aaron at the time has died of an apparent heart attack.
The police evidence about Aarone's "non-disappearance" has not been released but Thompson's defenders critized the investigation for focusing on the couple rather than the missing girl. In turn, the police have called Aaron Thompson's account a fabrication and the couple's behavior "morally reprehensible."
Sam Riddle, a family friend, blamed the investigation for Lowe's death, saying she cried from severe stress at times. "I am firmly convinced the Aurora police and the state of Colorado hounded Shely Lowe to death," Riddle said.
And that's where the ability to "get it right" comes to play. Hopefully the Police are right about their concerns and Thompson (and Lowe) has a case to answer. It would be doubly tragic to think Ms Lowe's death may have been triggered for no good reason - and that Aarone's disappearance should have been pursued in a more rigorous manner.
As well as delaying the trail, the Grand Jurors may also decide to delay questioning of Lowe's children who lived with her and Thompson. (It is unclear if it was the Lowe children who were the "seven childrern removed from the house" following reports of Aarone's disappearance.)


There are many things I do not understand - like why people choose to name their email accounts as they do. (Or perhaps it's just me who doesn't have a penchant for herptology!)
In Search in today's Daily Telegraph carried this:
Looking to get in touch with old school friend, Kara Smith, last known address Duffy St, Merrylands, NSW. Daughter of Doug and Barbara Smith. Has a brother Nathan and sister Lisa. Would love to catch up on last 15 years or if someone knows her, please contact Pat at ...
And thanks to Wikipedia for:
Ophiology (Greek ophis = "snake" + logy = "study") is a branch of herpetology and deals with the scientific study of snakes, including the natural history and behavior of the animals. An individual who studies snakes is known as an ophiologist. Many professional ophiologists find employment in zoos, while amateur opihiologists mainly keep snakes as pets.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Matter of record

I have been a bit worried about the DVD recorder of late - it didn't record four programs this week. I wasn't sure what was going wrong - it wasn't as though I'd filled all the pages at all. I couldn't even get it to work when I just pressed the record button, forget about setting the timer - and as I was doing that, I saw the error message "disk full". Who would have thought of that (besides Sooz!). I've spent some time this weekend going through the disk, seeing what I needed to watch, what I wanted to keep, and what could go without further ado. I am amazed how much - yet how little - I am recording these days. Mostly it's only two channels - and surprisingly - this isn't reflected in the general television ratings!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Fear Campaign

Is it true that you can scare people into "healthy" behavior? There are two ads doing the rounds at the moment which try to Scare people into either not smokirg or not using their mobile phone while driving. The anti-smoking ad shows a man's gangrenous leg about to be removed. The mobile phone one has a woman drive reaching to get a ringing mobile phone and when it appears in frame it is a gun that she goes to point at her temple. The ad has the super "Dead Ringer". But do these scare tactics work? Or do people think "that won't happen tome" and actively block the message?

Chain emails

What is it about chain emails that people feel compelled to pass them on? I have received three in the last week – all from different people, and all on different subjects. One for “our boys fighting in Iraq”, one for “National Friendship Week” and the other for a project someone’s kid was doing which involved passing on the email to 10 number of people and something cool will happen – although it’s not apparent how the kid will ever know – and how it would tap into the project as such. I didn’t like passing on chain letters, and I’m not one to pass on chain emails either – even though they might be intriguing. D (you know who you are) if you’re reading this – what was the really cool thing that happened?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

One to avoid

Ages ago (September 2004: previous item) I blogged about actress Leslie Ash who was battling the aftermath of a hospital superbug. While doctors had said she may never walk again, she did - but she is still suffering from the infection. She made an apearance at the Sony Radio Awards in London recently and almost collapsed after presenting an award. "Every step Leslie takes unaided is a massive physical endeavfour in itself" a source close to the mother-of-two is reported as saying. Not good.


Do you knew where your credit card is? Have a couple of shopgirls taken it on a shopping spree after you left it at their store? Or has a cleaner gleaned credit card information from your rubbish and used it to fly to another country (three times!) in search of a wife? These are just two of the stories in one newspaper - so how much credit card fraud occurs in a single day throughout the world? And if you found someone had inadvertently left their card in your shop and you decided to take advantage of it, how much could you spend, and how quickly? More than $7,000 in 90 minutes is the benchmark- set by two women in Sydney who spent up on clothing, perfume and designer bags.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Minor miracle

Two Tasmanian miners are about to spend their 13th night underground since being trapped by a cave-in in which one of their colleagues died. That they were found alive has been billed as a "miner miracle" - but probably the greater miracle is that there aren't sweeps being held throughout the Land on exactly when the rescuers will reach them and bring them to safety. Mind you, that wouldn't be a bad way to raise a dollar or two for a worthwhile cause - if people could get past the slightly distasteful aspect of the idea!

BBC of contradictions

I love the internet. I was reading BBC News Online today and came across a 2000 UK report into the existence of extraterrestrials. According to the report, they don't exist. There was no sign of them. Any instances could be, and were, explained away. That was In the Science section.
However, over in Technology section, there's the story Hacker fears "UFO cover-up". In this account, not only do they exist, but NASA regularly removes evidence of them from high resolution satellite images. But wait - there may be another explanation. They could both be right! Maybe UFOs visit the US - and give the rest of the world, including the UK, a wide berth!

Death by chocolate ?

Literally- according to an item in the Daily Telegraph today. Wadia Haddad, a Palestinian wanted for plane hijackings, and with a passion for chocolate, was supplied with poison chocolates the Mossad, Israel's secret service, for 6 months before his death. This claim, is a book recently published in Israel, has been refuted by the Angry Arab News Service which I found on a Google* search for more information on this story. The AANS suggests the claim is for "pure propaganda purposes". It says Haddad was killed by Saddam's intelligence service - and this, AASN goes on, was the same conclusion reached by the East German government which carried out an investigation at the time (late 1970s).
* I'm not sure why surprisingly few results on the book were returned in the search - maybe the search parameters I was using?

Another Pet Peeve ...

... and not a pet in sight. Why are there so many movie remakes around? News this morning is film director Peter Jackson's next project is a re-make of the World War II classic "The Dambusters". Okay, I admit I enjoyed his last remake 'King Kong" - the effects were amazing - but at what point will new stories capture his attention? Why must directors be Bewitched by the remake?

Bad Twin

Just when you thought you'd seen it all - you can now read a novel by a fictional author. And lots have because " Bad Twin" by Gary Troup has bumped "The Da Vinci Code" from 1st place of the Amazon best-seller list. Not bad work by Troup, whose manuscript for "Bad Twin" was found in some "Lost" luggage - "Lost" being the television series about a group of survivors of a plane crash and Others on an island deep in the Pacific Ocean. The 300-page mystery/detective thriller is published (? was commissioned) by Hyperion which is refusing to identify Troup's Ghost Writer. There are theories as to their identity though - like Stephen King. Wonder how long it will be before we know for sure.
Which brings me to my current pet peeve - why is it taking so long for e-publishing to gain decent traction in the book market. (Yes, l am aware of the irony of calling it a "book" market when an e-version obviously isn't [a book]!)

Sunday, May 07, 2006


There were Jehovah's Witnesses in our street this morning - going door to door to spread the word (can't remember if it's called "the good news" - too long since I was involved). But it got me to thinking, as these things do, about how many houses, units, flats, caravans, huts, rondavels, yurts etc, have not been visited by the Witnesses here and around the world. Is there a different penetration/visitation rate for different countries? Is there a central database somewhere that tracks the visits, callbacks, interest, rude responses? Might be time for a visit to Wikipedia.

Price Slash

I noticed in a Mother's Day ad in the paper today for Harvey Norman (a retail chain here in Australia) that the cost of the 2GB iPod Nano has dropped - from $299 to $297!


Demonstrations - having a voice. Being seen. I have never really thought about that before. If I had it was about being seen to object. I had not thought about it as being seen as and as being a physical presence. Damian (at Grind) said this morning - if we demonstrate it blocks a street, if they demonstrate in London it blocks the city. And if you only block a street, he added they can easily divert traffic around it! He went on to say that he'd seen a recent episode of the ABC's Insight program where a political analyst had posited that we would never have civil war in Australia because people just aren't passionate enough.


I'm not saying that we sometimes focus too much on technology but that could be the case. When reading the headline "Anti-piracy centre opens in Kenya" I thought, hmm I didn't realise that computer piracy was such a problem there. Of course that's not what the article is about. It's about the launch of a maritime rescue centre, to provide a rapid response to acts of piracy and accidents at sea. Piracy is a continuing problem - probably even more so with the high-tech tracking and weaponry technology now available.

Risky Business?

We are lucky enough to have a corner store (which by definition is near where you live) and even though it isn't a supermarket, it has bread and milk and other bits and pieces. And we don't have just one. There are 3 in a couple of km radius. This seems to be a bit of an over-representation, especially since it seems that the trend is for corner stores to disappear - the victims of supermarket chain expansion. If you have a corner store in your area, how long has it been there? Is it a family business? If you were starting a business today, would it be a corner store?

Back to the beginning

Life is full of conundrums - some bigger than others. My current one is where to start. I've just finished buying the rest of the Buffy television series - including the first two seasons. So l want to watch it from start to finish - seems like the obsessive compulsive thing to do. For those not in the know, Buffy was created by Joss Whedon who was also behind the "Firefly" series. And therein lies the dilemma. I also have the Firefly series and after listening to The Signal podcast, which is devoted to having the studios revive Firefly (the series was too short-lived) and a sequel to Serenity (the post FireFly movie) - is fact, they'll only be happy with a trilogy. [That was too long a sentence ... which is what some might think of settling in for 145 episodes of Buffy (The Vampire Slayer) plus bonus material.]

Friday, May 05, 2006

Fire Alarm

It's now compulsory to have a smoke alarm fitted in all buildings in which people sleep in NSW. The good news is that the Fire Brigade will fit your alarm for free: or so I'm told by the ladies at the bus stop this morning - one heard it on the radio at 3am the other morning; the other had the Firies in yesterday to affix hers to the ceiling in her unit. Someone obviously got it right this time - by not using new legislation as a revenue raiser and by taking positive steps to increase the compliance level!


Did you know that Queen Elizabeth II does not give interviews? But she has "sat" for 140 portraits including one by Rolf Harris of "can you tell what it is yet?" (or similar words) fame.

Barrel of ... (fun)

I couldn't believe it when I read this morning of a group of Hungarian carpenters who had drunk their way to the bottom of a rum barrel, only to make the grisly discovery that the special drop they were enjoying so much had been flavored by the body of a man transported in the barrel (and left three) 20 years ago. l thought "hi ho - here's something else about people avoiding the cost of transporting deceased loved ones" (remember the German woman) - but alas, it turns out it may just be an urban myth (thanks Snopes)!

Thursday, May 04, 2006


The Anglican Church has gone into the film business in Australia. In a bid to refute the claims expressed in the Da Vinci Code (the Movie), they've produced a 20-second trailer for showing at arenas. It includes information pointing to a website which debunks the DVC claims/ theories. Is there anyone who hasn't heard about the DVC ... because I have a feeling we haven't heard the last of it.

AIDS program

Word is that moves are afoot in the Vatican to look at whether condoms should be allowed for people of the Catholic persuasion. The reason is not birth Control; it's AIDS. Condom use, if permitted, would be restricted to a marriage where one partner is infected; but even that would be a radical departure for conservative Catholics. And Benedict XVI has only been in the top job for a year!


They say that war is God's way of teaching Americans geography. And from a recent report in a US paper, it seems they need all the help they can get - which is not to say that they should be doing the war thing but that geography could be better included in their schools. Despite the wall-to-wall coverage of the damage from Hurricane Katrina, nearly one-third of young Americans recently polled couldn't locate Louisiana on a map and nearly half were unable to identify Mississippi. And 6 out of 10 couldn't find Iraq on a map.