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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Van Diemen's Land

Another movie dealing with Australia's convict past has just hit the silver screen. This one is no easy watching as it tells the story of Alexander Pearce and how he escaped from a prison island and ate the men who escaped with him. A true journey into the heart of darkness of the human soul. If are of a squeamish nature, you may want to wait for the DVD to allow you to be sick in private.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Another wonderful movie!

Monsieur Ibrahim, also known as Les Fleurs Du Koran, is set in Paris during the early 1960s. As the old gave way to the new, everything was in flux and the city was filled with an energy that promised cultural shifts and social change. Against this background, in a working class neighbourhood, two unlikely characters -- a young Jew and an elderly Muslim -- begin a friendship. When we meet Moise, also known as Momo, he is in effect an orphan even though he lives with prostitutes who treat him with genuine affection. Momo buys his groceries at the neighbourhood shop, a crowded dark space owned and run by Ibrahim, a silent exotic-looking man who sees and knows more than he lets on. After Momo is abandoned by his father, Ibrahim becomes the one grown-up in Momo's life. Together they begin a journey that will change their lives forever.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Where have all the trillions gone???

Embarrassing to watch, isn't it?

Federal Reserve Inspector General Elizabeth Coleman is ABSOLUTELY CLUELESS! She has no idea who received the money, who is investigating who received the money, … despite the fact that SHE is THE Inspector General of the Fed. No wonder, they print on the American dollar bill the words IN GOD WE TRUST!

Here is Bloomberg's article.

They might as well do it like this:

It's official: there is water on Mars!

The latest breaking news confirms it: there is water on Mars! Now who's going to build the bottling plant?

Some old news from Brittainnistan:

The Daily Express reports:

Overworked nurses have been ordered to stop all medical work five times every day to move Muslim patients' beds so they face towards Mecca. The lengthy procedure, which also includes providing fresh bathing water, is creating turmoil among overstretched staff on bustling NHS wards. […] And a taxpayer-funded training programme for several hundred hospital staff has begun to ensure that all are familiar with the workings of the Muslim faith.

Complains a senior nurse at Dewsbury and District Hospital in West Yorkshire:

Some people might think it is not that big a deal, but we have a huge Muslim population in Dewsbury and if we are having to turn dozens of beds to face Mecca five times a day, plus provide running water for them to wash before and after prayers, it is bound to impact on the essential medical service we are supposed to be providing.

And in another minor milestone in the Islamification of Europe, Britain's Royal Preston Hospital is now pandering to Muslims by spending £12 apiece for hospital gowns that are actually burkas. The "Inter-faith gown", as it's called in PC newspeak, reveals nothing of the patient but the eyes and hands.

Pass me the "Inter-faith strait-jacket"!

To order your very own "Inter-faith gown" in fashionable jade-green with a choice of headpieces, click [here].

Let's fight back!!!

When a telemarketers phones you, just say the three little words, 'Hold on, please...', while putting down your phone and walking off. Doing this instead of hanging up immediately would make each telemarketing call so much more time-consuming that boiler room sales would grind to a halt. Then when you eventually hear the 'beep-beep-beep' tone, you know it's time to go back and hang up your handset....you have effectively completed your task.

Do you ever get those annoying phone calls with no-one on the other end? This is a telemarketing technique where a machine makes phone calls and records the time of day when a person answers the phone. This technique is then used to determine the best time of day for a 'real' salesperson to call back and get someone at home. What you can do after answering: if you notice there is no-one there, immediately start hitting your # button on the phone, 6 or 7 times, as quickly as possible. This confuses the machine that dialled the call and it kicks your number out of the system. Gosh, what a shame not to have your name in their system any longer!!!

When you get those 'pre-approved' letters in the mail for everything from credit cards to 2nd mortgages and similar type junk, do not throw away the return envelope. Most of these come with postage-prepaid return envelopes, right? It costs them more than the regular postage IF and when they are returned. It costs them nothing if you throw them away! In that case, why not get rid of some of your other junk mail and put it in these cool little, postage-prepaid return envelopes. Send an advert for your local chimney sweeper to American Express... they might need one! Send a pizza coupon to HSBC... in case their canteen packs up. You get the idea! If you didn't get anything else that day, then just send them back their blank application form... after all, it is their form! If you want to remain anonymous, just make sure your name isn't on anything you return. You can even send the envelope back empty if you want to just to keep them guessing! It still costs them, and it is their envelope after all ... you are just returning it!!!!

Help AUSTRALIA POST! They are saying that e-mail is cutting into their profits. Let's help them so they will not need to increase postage costs again. You get the idea!

What the world's been waiting for!

I don't think there is a single soul left on this planet who has not yet heard of carbon-trading. It's perhaps one of the greatest satires ever played out in real life where participants are given permits to pollute the world on a wholesale scale and make big money out of it! Following this great example, along comes another scheme in which one can buy oneself absolution at a personal level: cheatneutral.

Here is an example of how cheatneutral works:

Steve and Lisa met while on holiday in Spain, and quickly fell head over heels for each other. That Christmas, at his office party, Steve got drunk and unavoidably repeatedly cheated on Lisa with Cheri, a co-worker. He paid Cheatneutral just £2.50 who invested his money in Alex, a single man with no prospect of finding a partner. In return for the payments, Alex agreed to remain single.

Thanks to Cheatneutral, Steve was able to come clean about his cheating to Lisa, and when he presented her with the Cheatneutral certificate they realised they wanted to get married. Their wedding is taking place in the summer. Steve continues to regularly cheat on Lisa and Cheatneutral continues to fund projects like Alex with his offset payments.

cheatneutral is about offsetting infidelity. cheatneutral is a joke. Carbon-trading is about paying for the right to carry on emitting carbon. It was worth US$64 BILLION last year, and is rapidly growing. Carbon-trading is also a joke.

Of course, the Catholic Church kicked this whole thing off some five hundred years ago when it indulged in selling Indulgences and who am I to argue with the Catholic Church. Come to think of it: who am I?

Click here for your own free carbon-offsets certificate, suitable for framing, to allow you to show others that you are doing your part to save the environment. And it may enable you to start your own carbon-trading with your family and friends!

Friday, September 25, 2009

I still call Australia home

Click on above icon for full screen

The world economy at a glance

This picture was taken near the Port of Singapore – the busiest port in the world in terms of total shipping tonnage. There are no wakes. These ships are parked.

And the picture doesn’t do it justice. According to shipping reports, this is the largest fleet of ships ever assembled in history. Locals say you can’t even see the horizon. More ships than that of the British and American navies combined!

It is a visible reminder of just how bad things are in the worldwide economy. Two years ago these ships would have been steaming across the oceans laden with consumer goods. Today, they’re idle. [More}

The world economy is struggling. The only growth we’re seeing is not real growth – it’s the result of government stimulus. And that is merely stealing from the future.

As for America's latest stimulus, Cash for Clunkers, consider these figures:

A clunker that travels 12,000 miles a year
at 15 mpg uses 800 gallons of gas

A vehicle that travels 12,000 miles a year
at 25 mpg uses 480 gallons a year

That means the average Cash for Clunkers transaction will reduce gasoline consumption by 320 gallons per year. The government claims 700,000 vehicles were involved in the program. Based on the example above, that comes out to 224 million gallons of fuel saved per year.

That would equal about 5 million barrels of oil – or about 5 hours worth of U.S. oil consumption. Now here’s the kicker. At $70 a barrel, that would equate to savings of $350 million dollars.

The U.S. spent $3 billion on the program. Considering the assumptions above, that equates to a payback period of almost nine years. And they destroyed 700,000 operable vehicles for that?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I love dogs - and I love this movie:

Patagonia is a rough land, and for 52-year-old Juan Villegas, it's even rougher. A mechanic who's just lost his job, Juan tries to make ends meet by selling hand-made knives. No one wants them, but Juan isn't bitter and never loses his calm.

When he repairs a young woman's car one day, he is given a most unusual gift: a beautiful Dogo Argentino, a gamehound of noble pedigree called Bombón. Man and dog carefully eye each other, each creature weighing the pros and cons of a possible long-term relationship. But Bombón is good-natured and willing, and Juan unquestioningly welcomes the dog into his life. More yet: Bombón begins to change his new master's life.

Swept into the world of exuberant dog trainer Walter, Juan is talked into entering Bombón into a local dog show, where Bombón comes in third! For Juan Villegas, it's a first step in a promising new career as exhibitor - and the start of a beautiful friendship...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Another great business idea - RECESSION-PROOF!

Combine this with the Bullshit Detector and see your sales soar!

Friday, September 18, 2009

What do shepherds do on their day off?

Click on above icon for full screen

Now you know!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The world I grew up in blown away by the wind

Today Mary Travers, the soaring female voice of the 1960s' folk supergroup Peter, Paul and Mary, passed away, aged 72. Her wide smile and happily crinkled eyes were as distinctive as her sonorous voice, and her battle with leukemia for several years did not silence her song or her passion for the social justice causes she cared so deeply about. Another reference point of my youth has gone!

What survives is the music.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Happy Birthday to me!

A certain person who shall remain nameless celebrated his birthday today!

Padma baked a beautiful German cheese-cake. It tasted lovely, however, the problem with German cake, indeed with all German food, is that, no matter how much you eat, an hour later you're hungry for power.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Oyster Farmer

We live on the Clyde River which is famous for its fantastic oysters. More fantastic even than the oysters on the Hawkesbury River. They haven't made a film about it yet but they made one about the life of the oyster farmers on the Hawkesbury. I've watched it and it's a great Australian romantic comedy - with typical Australian black humour - about love and life on the Hawkesbury River - but it could just as well have been the Clyde River! The little river communities, the oyster farmers with their long-held traditions, and the Vietnam vets who have formed a kind of isolated commune are beautifully evoked in an affectionate examination of unusual lifestyles.

The movie is wonderfully relaxing and visually appealing, even with the shots of the very sub-standard accommodation that many of the oyster farmers endure. Some of the images are just so peaceful and moving that it's a shame some of them have to end to make way for the next scene - early morning on the river is a classic example of this.

Click on above icon for full screen

"Oyster Farmer" is a revelation. It is warm, humourous, engaging and most of all, totally believable and very rewarding. Bring on the oysters!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

On lying in bed on a windy Sunday morning ...

... of which G. K Chesterton had this to say:

Lying in bed would be an altogether perfect and supreme experience if only one had a coloured pencil long enough to draw on the ceiling. This, however, is not generally a part of the domestic apparatus on the premises. I think myself that the thing might be managed with several pails of Aspinall and a broom. Only if one worked in a really sweeping and masterly way, and laid on the colour in great washes, it might drip down again on one’s face in floods of rich and mingled colour like some strange fairy rain; and that would have its disadvantages. I am afraid it would be necessary to stick to black and white in this form of artistic composition. To that purpose, indeed, the white ceiling would be of the greatest possible use; in fact, it is the only use I think of a white ceiling being put to.

But for the beautiful experiment of lying in bed I might never have discovered it. For years I have been looking for some blank spaces in a modern house to draw on. Paper is much too small for any really allegorical design; as Cyrano de Bergerac says, “Il me faut des géants” [“I need giants”]. But when I tried to find these fine clear spaces in the modern rooms such as we all live in I was continually disappointed. I found an endless pattern and complication of small objects hung like a curtain of fine links between me and my desire. I examined the walls; I found them to my surprise to be already covered with wallpaper, and I found the wallpaper to be already covered with uninteresting images, all bearing a ridiculous resemblance to each other. I could not understand why one arbitrary symbol (a symbol apparently entirely devoid of any religious or philosophical significance) should thus be sprinkled all over my nice walls like a sort of small-pox. The Bible must be referring to wallpapers, I think, when it says, “Use not vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do.” I found the Turkey carpet a mass of unmeaning colours, rather like the Turkish Empire, or like the sweetmeat called Turkish Delight. I do not exactly know what Turkish Delight really is; but I suppose it is Macedonian Massacres. Everywhere that I went forlornly, with my pencil or my paint brush, I found that others had unaccountably been before me, spoiling the walls, the curtains, and the furniture with their childish and barbaric designs.

. . . . .

Nowhere did I find a really clear space for sketching until this occasion when I prolonged beyond the proper limit the process of lying on my back in bed. Then the light of that white heaven broke upon my vision, that breadth of mere white which is indeed almost the definition of Paradise, since it means purity and also means freedom. But alas! like all heavens, now that it is seen it is found to be unattainable; it looks more austere and more distant than the blue sky outside the window. For my proposal to paint on it with the bristly end of a broom has been discouraged—never mind by whom; by a person debarred from all political rights—and even my minor proposal to put the other end of the broom into the kitchen fire and turn it to charcoal has not been conceded. Yet I am certain that it was from persons in my position that all the original inspiration came for covering the ceilings of palaces and cathedrals with a riot of fallen angels or victorious gods. I am sure that it was only because Michael Angelo was engaged in the ancient and honourable occupation of lying in bed that he ever realized how the roof of the Sistine Chapel might be made into an awful imitation of a divine drama that could only be acted in the heavens.

The tone now commonly taken toward the practice of lying in bed is hypocritical and unhealthy. Of all the marks of modernity that seem to mean a kind of decadence, there is none more menacing and dangerous than the exultation of very small and secondary matters of conduct at the expense of very great and primary ones, at the expense of eternal ties and tragic human morality. If there is one thing worse than the modern weakening of major morals, it is the modern strengthening of minor morals. Thus it is considered more withering to accuse a man of bad taste than of bad ethics. Cleanliness is not next to godliness nowadays, for cleanliness is made essential and godliness is regarded as an offence. A playwright can attack the institution of marriage so long as he does not misrepresent the manners of society, and I have met Ibsenite pessimists who thought it wrong to take beer but right to take prussic acid. Especially this is so in matters of hygiene; notably such matters as lying in bed. Instead of being regarded, as it ought to be, as a matter of personal convenience and adjustment, it has come to be regarded by many as if it were a part of essential morals to get up early in the morning. It is upon the whole part of practical wisdom; but there is nothing good about it or bad about its opposite.

. . . . .

Misers get up early in the morning; and burglars, I am informed, get up the night before. It is the great peril of our society that all its mechanisms may grow more fixed while its spirit grows more fickle. A man’s minor actions and arrangements ought to be free, flexible, creative; the things that should be unchangeable are his principles, his ideals. But with us the reverse is true; our views change constantly; but our lunch does not change. Now, I should like men to have strong and rooted conceptions, but as for their lunch, let them have it sometimes in the garden, sometimes in bed, sometimes on the roof, sometimes in the top of a tree. Let them argue from the same first principles, but let them do it in a bed, or a boat, or a balloon. This alarming growth of good habits really means a too great emphasis on those virtues which mere custom can ensure, it means too little emphasis on those virtues which custom can never quite ensure, sudden and splendid virtues of inspired pity or of inspired candour. If ever that abrupt appeal is made to us we may fail. A man can get used to getting up at five o’clock in the morning. A man cannot very well get used to being burnt for his opinions; the first experiment is commonly fatal. Let us pay a little more attention to these possibilities of the heroic and unexpected. I dare say that when I get out of this bed I shall do some deed of an almost terrible virtue.

For those who study the great art of lying in bed there is one emphatic caution to be added. Even for those who can do their work in bed (like journalists), still more for those whose work cannot be done in bed (as, for example, the professional harpooners of whales), it is obvious that the indulgence must be very occasional. But that is not the caution I mean. The caution is this: if you do lie in bed, be sure you do it without any reason or justification at all. I do not speak, of course, of the seriously sick. But if a healthy man lies in bed, let him do it without a rag of excuse; then he will get up a healthy man. If he does it for some secondary hygienic reason, if he has some scientific explanation, he may get up a hypochondriac.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fit to Print

A young journalist’s foray down the rabbit hole of media-led reporting — a tale of disillusionment and self-examination set in the world’s most headline-grabbing regions.

In Fit to Print, a bestseller in Holland, Joris Luyendijk tells the story of his five years as a correspondent in the Middle East. Extremely young for a correspondent but fluent in Arabic, he speaks with stone throwers and terrorists, taxi drivers and professors, victims and aggressors, and community leaders and families. Chronicling first-hand experiences of dictatorship, occupation, terror, and war, his stories cast light on a number of major crises, from the Iraq War to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

But the more Luyendijk witnesses, the less he understands, and he becomes increasingly aware of the yawning gap between what he sees on the ground and what is later reported in the media. As a correspondent, he is privy to a multitude of narratives with conflicting implications, and he sees over and over again that the media favours the stories that will be sure to confirm the popularly held, oversimplified beliefs of westerners.

In Fit to Print, Luyendijk deploys powerful examples, leavened with humour, to demonstrate the ways in which the media gives us a filtered and manipulated image of reality in the Middle East. This is a must-read book!

AUDIO: Listen here

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The little Chinese hat

The circumflex in French is the little Chinese hat on the top of certain French vowels. The most common reason for its presence is that it usually represents a letter that has been dropped over the centuries. Usually this is the letter 's'. Knowing this will help you figure out quite a number of French words when you read them.

When the Normans from Normandy, Northern France invaded Blighty (England) back in 1066 under the command of Big Bill (a.k.a William the Conqueror ... or Guillaume to his mother and friends ...) they brought the French language with them. And for the next 400 years the language of the English aristocracy (i.e. the Normans) was Norman French. They brought with them many, many thousands of words which then blended into the Anglo-Saxon language of the commmoners (English).

The Old French word for hospital was hospital. Forest was forest... as it remains to this day in English. These words were imported (free of charge) from French.

But back in the motherland, la Belle France, the French themselves started slanging a bit in their day to day conversation.

Over time, they dropped the letter 's' in many words so that hospital became hopital, forest became foret and host became hote in spoken French back in France.

For a long while the monks who did all the writing and recording in those dim dark days, continued to include the 's' while spelling. However they eventually succumbed to the power of spoken speech, and dropped the silent letters. They decided however to 'pay tribute' to those lost letters and put a circumflex over the preceding vowel to indicate that there had previously been an 's' (or other letter).

So the French hospital became hôpital with a circumflex ^ over the o
Likwise many other words followed suit:

forest became forêt.
host became hôte.
hostesse became hôtesse.
haste became hâte.
coast became côte.
fenester (church window) became fenêtre = window.
paste (or pastry) became pâte and pâté.
beast became bête.
feast became fête.
master became maître.
tempest became tempête.
arrest (stop) became arrêter.
conquest became conquête.
inquest became enquête.
to cost became coûter.
crust became croûte.
hostel became hôtel.
isle became île.
interest became intérêt.
plaster became plâtre.
quest became quête.
vestments (clothes) became vêtements.
and so on.

Sometimes a letter other than 's' was dropped and replaced by a circumflex in French words such as:

aage (age) became âge where the preceding a was dropped.
baailler (to yawn or gape) became bâiller where the preceding a was dropped.
baaillon (gag) became bâillon where the preceding a was dropped.
creu (from the verb croître) became crû where the preceding e was dropped. Crû is different to cru which is from the verb croire (to think, believe).
deu (from the verb devoir) became dû where the preceding e was dropped.
meur (wall) became mûr where the preceding e was dropped.
seur (sure as in safe, sound, reliable) became sûr where the e was dropped.

Over the centuries the Norman French of England blended into English, and retained the 's' in many of the imported French words while the French in France developed down a different track to become ... well ... French as in the modern French language in its various forms.

So you can often figure out the meaning of a French word with a circumflex by knowing that the circumflex indicates a missing letter after the vowel ... usually the letter 's'.

So how do you type those little Chinese hats on an English keyboard? By depressing the ALT-key while typing these numbers on the numeric keypad:

Ê ALT-0202
Î ALT-0206
Ô ALT-0212
Û ALT-0219
â ALT-131
ê ALT-136
î ALT-140
ô ALT-147
û ALT-150

For a full list of ALT-NUMPAD combinations, click here.

This is a picture not to be missed!

Click on above icon for full screen

This heartfelt journey takes you from Victoria at the bottom of Australia to Cape York, the northern tip of the continent, as two of Australia's great comic talents take off on a trip of a lifetime. It's a story that will touch your soul as well as make you smile.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Where the Bali hell am I?

Click on above icon for full screen

Well, I am still at Riverbend but it won't be long before I heed the call of this persuasive spruiker again!

Friday, September 4, 2009

In Memoriam: Mister Percival

One of Australia's most loved feathered film stars has died. Mr Percival - one of the pelicans in the 1976 film Storm Boy - died of old age at Adelaide Zoo on Wednesday, aged 33.

Storm Boy, based on a novel by Colin Thiele, is one of the most cherished of Australian classic films. It has a deep emotional clarity that appeals to children and adults alike, making it timeless. The landscape of the Coorong wetlands, bleak and beautiful and windswept, becomes a refuge for the broken, the loveless and the outcast – an alternate Garden of Eden, in which a different version of Australia might seem possible – a kind of hermit’s utopia.

The film is clearly about much more than the boy’s love of the pelican, which he calls Mr Percival. It touches on race relations, ecology, the breakdown of families, white and black law and questions of prior ownership, but the themes are seamlessly woven into the story. Much of the power comes from the elemental beauty of Geoff Burton’s camerawork (his work on Sunday Too Far Away, with a different colour palette, has a similar expressiveness), and from director Henri Safran’s sensitive handling of the performances. The film was made for $260,000 and was a success at the box office, both in Australia and overseas, where it sold to more than 100 countries.

Here's a preview:

The full movie can be viewed on Youtube in eight parts:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Message of the day

I don't care if you lick windows,
take the special bus or occasionally pee on yourself.
You hang in there, sunshine! You're friggin' special.
Every sixty seconds you spend angry, upset or mad,
is a full minute of happiness you'll never get back.

Life is short,
Break the rules, Forgive quickly,
Kiss slowly, Love truly,
Laugh uncontrollably,
And never regret anything that made you smile.

Life may not be the party we hoped for,
but while we're here, we should dance.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Riverbend News