Saturday, October 31, 2009

One for the dogs

Pals who have cattle dogs are quite fond of them - and quite rightly it seems. Teka the cattle dog was given an RSPCA Achievement Award earlier this week for saving his owner, Jim Touzeau, who had suffered a heart attack. The dog did so by jumping up and down on his chest. So how did he know how to do it? ER and hispital reality shows? Or some innate instinct? Like the cat who came to the assistance of someone we know - she was upset and having difficulty catching her breath. The cat came to her, put its paws on her shoulders and stayed with her, breathing on her face as if to model how it was done, until she started breathing properly again.
The "humanness" of animals has been in the news this week with the story of a group of chimpanzees who grieved as a group over the passing of Dorothy, one of their number, at a Rescue Centre in Cameroon, west Africa.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Out of control

It must be very hard for a judge and jury to work out what is truth and what is not ... although in this instance you would hope some medical evidence would be able to help. On 21 October 2007, Adnan Safwan was allegedly in charge of a boat which crashed into a bridge pylon causing the death of his passenger. He was charged with "dangerous navigation" but is pleading "not guilty" by virtue of the fact that his passenger had knocked him out with an anchor before the vessel hit the pylon. This would suggest that he wasn't in control of the vessel and therefore could not be held responsible for piloting it (or not piloting it). The question that comes to mind though, is why would a passenger on a boat hit the person driving it with an anchor? Hopefully these, and other questions, will be answered at the trial and justice will be done.

Not quite sure

The headlines in the Sydney papers today are about whether one of murdered heart surgeon Victor Chang's killers should be released "early" from prison after serving his minimum sentence of 18 years. At this point, it would be good if we knew more about sentencing and minimum requirements worked. One of the more amazing things about the debate though is whether people commit more of a crime if they murder someone who could have done great good if they had not been killed. A comment on the reaction line of a radio station this morning suggested that people who kill drug dealers should get a shorter sentence. They stopped short of suggesting such killers be given a reward (or would that be a bounty in this situation?).
It is an emotionally charged issue, one to which there are no easy answers. But it has raised an issue about process. Apparently, Victor Chang's family were not invited to the initial hearing about his killer's release. Maybe that needs to be done as a matter of course from now on - regardless of how long ago the crime was committed.
It would be interesting to see if this raises new call for the re-introduction of capital punishment: dead men (and women) don't get early release ... or do they?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sailing away

Jessica Watson set sail from Sydney yesterday in her attempt to become the youngest person to sail around the world. There has been much speculation about whether, at 16, she is too young to attempt this solo feat. But, some of that concern was questioned this morning on a Sydney radio station, when they said that if she gets in trouble, she can always find a container ship - a reference to her collision with a container ship on her first test outing from Brisbane to Sydney? But it's good to know that she's finally on herf way - and that her mother made a quick sneak visit on board before Jessica set off to leave some secret treats and Christmas presents for her courageous daughter.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Seems about right

While looking for news of the balloon boy this morning, I looked at the Reuters Odd News and there was a headline: Burning bunnies helps keep people warm and cozy. Intrigued, I clicked on the link only to get the message "Sorry, there's a problem with this page". They may have got that right - but until the content can be accessed, we may never know.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Common endeavours

More questions ... again from radio listening. Hilary Clinton has been in talks with the Russians about missile defence and she was quoted (and no, I didn't realise I needed to copy down the quote until after it was over and gone forever in the ether - until the next bulletin at least) as saying it was a "common" interest. Hmmm - this could suggest that they are worried about a common enemy - or does it just seem that way.

What's in a word

Listening to the radio this morning, there was some discussion about whether criminals or their families should be allowed to make money from writing books about their wrongdoings. The word "profiting" was used, but also "profiteering" and I was sent to the dictionary to determine the distinction. I admit, I am still a little confused. Profiteering relates to making an unreasonable or excessive profit. Profiting relates to deriving a benefit from. Both seem to work in this context.

Giving it back

News reports this morning suggest that Ben Lexen, credited with the design of the winged keel, that helped Australia win The America's Cup (way back when) was in fact only a small contributor to the project. A Dutch naval architect claims that he was the driving force behind the keel and was paid $25,000 by boat owner, Alan Bond, to keep the level of his involvement secret. According to The America's Cup rules, the competing boats have to be largely (wholly?) designed by the countries racing them. The question now is ... will Dr van Oossanen (the architect in question) feel compelled to give the money back? And another question is ... why come forward with the news now - when Ben Lexcen can't have a right of reply - and Mr Bond's memory has reportedly him in the past.

Thursday, October 08, 2009


David Letterman's reaction to a blackmail threat last week was quite unexpected. He went public first - admitting on-air that he had slept with some of his female employees. Such was the surprise at this that it didn't even occur that despite having been in a long-term relationship and recently marrying his beau-ette - during his admission he didn't offer any apology - to her or generally. Not that there was any requirement for him to do, of course, but someone must have thought better of it because he has now made an on-air apology to his wife.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Best foot forward

This may be the start of an urban myth but while watching a report this morning on yesterday's Rugby League Grand Final there was the suggestion that Parramatta, the losing side, should have known what was in store when one of its players showed up wearing two left boots.