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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Australias Killer Critters Draw a Blank in 2009

With its crocodiles, sharks, and jellyfish, Australia is often painted as a place too deadly to visit despite its glittering beaches and sparkling weather.

This was captured neatly just days ago, when the winner of Tourism Queensland's "Best Job in the World" competition found himself in agony after being stung by the potentially lethal irukandji jellyfish while jetskiing.

But the fact is that 2009 brought few fatalities at the hands of our killer critters.

According to authorities there were no shark-related deaths, no funnel-web fatalities, only a couple of croc maulings and a few deaths from animal-related disease.

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Be Thankful (for Jeely Pieces)



Callum has many more and some history here.

Australias Next Top Maid

marriedtothesea.com
marriedtothesea.com

BBC News - Home drinkers 'over-pour spirits'

Well Duh????

Thanks @greenj

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OK A few things.



My dad had this as a 45. It was played many times.

Flanders & Swann - The Hippopotamus Song (Live)

Ideal activities for our current somewhat warm weather.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

George Cowling - The BBC's First On Air Weatherman


Studio facilities and technology available to the forecasters were extremely primitive and provided little in comparison to the vast quantities of instantly-accessible data churned out by today's hi-tech instruments, many of them in orbit above the Earth.
In Cowling's pre-space age, forecasters occupied a cramped corner of an announcer's studio at BBC Lime Grove, producing "graphics" comprised of two hand-drawn weather charts fixed to an easel with drawing pins. To add to the charts during a broadcast, the forecaster was equipped with a squeaky charcoal pencil.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Photo Hunt: Twelve

The chickens pick up after Spotty leaves the scene. Food for twelve animal legs.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Hey I still got a big gun

Peace and Love to All at this time of year.

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Woohoo! Vatican blesses Homer

L'Osservatore Romano this week congratulated the show on its 20th anniversary, praising its philosophical leanings as well as its stinging and often irreverent take on religion.

Without Homer Simpson and all those other yellow-skinned characters, ''many today wouldn't know how to laugh,'' said the article, titled ''Aristotle's virtues and Homer's doughnut''.

The paper credited The Simpsons - the longest-running American animated program - with opening up cartoons to an adult audience.

The show is based on ''realistic and intelligent writing'', it said, though it added there was some reason to criticise its ''excessively crude language, the violence of certain episodes or some extreme choices by the scriptwriters''.

Religion, from the snore-evoking sermons of the Reverend Lovejoy to Homer's face-to-face talks with God, appears so frequently on the show that it could be possible to come up with a ''Simpsonian theology'', it said.

Homer's religious confusion and ignorance are ''a mirror of the indifference and the need that modern man feels toward faith'', the paper said.

It commented on several religion-themed episodes, including one in which Homer calls for divine intervention by crying: ''I'm not normally a religious man, but if you're up there, save me, Superman!''

''Homer finds in God his last refuge, even though he sometimes gets His name sensationally wrong,'' L'Osservatore said.

The Vatican's seal of approval is not the first unlikely endorsement for one of the world's great non-role models. The character who lives for doughnuts and beer, Homer Simpson, has been used by the British Health Department in a $1 million campaign to promote its anti-obesity message.

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Auld Reekie Rants: Daffynitions

1. ARBITRATOR: A cook that leaves Arby's to work at McDonalds.

2. AVOIDABLE: What a bullfighter tried to do.

3. BERNADETTE: The act of torching a mortgage.

4. BURGLARIZE: What a crook sees with.

5. CONTROL: A short, ugly inmate.

6. COUNTERFEITERS: Workers who put together kitchen cabinets.

7. ECLIPSE: What an English barber does for a living.

8. EYEDROPPER: A clumsy ophthalmologist.

9. HEROES: What a guy in a boat does.

10. LEFTBANK: What the robber did when his bag was full of money.

11. MISTY: How golfers create divots.

12. PARADOX: Two physicians

13. PARASITES: What you see from the top of the Eiffel Tower

14. PHARMACIST: a helper on the farm

15. POLARIZE: What penguins see with.

16. PRIMATE: Removing your spouse from in front of the TV.

17. RELIEF: What trees do in the spring.

18. RUBBERNECK: What you do to relax your wife.

19. SELFISH: What the owner of a seafood store does.

20. SUDAFED: Brought litigation against a government official

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Prince Charles' Tour of Scotland

Prince Charles is visiting an Edinburgh hospital. He enters a ward full of patients with no obvious sign of injury or illness and greets one.

The patient replies:
“Fair fa your honest sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the pudding race,
Aboon them a ye take yet place,
Painch, tripe or thairm,
As langs my airm.”

Charles is confused, so he just smiles and moves on to the next patient. The patient responds:
“Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat an we can eat,
So let the Lord be thankit.”

Even more confused, and his smile now rictis, the Prince moves on to the next patient, who immediately begins to chant:
“Wee sleekit, cowerin, timorous beaty,
O the panic in they breasty,
Thou neednastart awa sae hastie,
Wi bickering brattle.”

Now serious troubled, Charles turns to the accompanying doctor and asks “Is this the psychiatric ward”?
“No,” replied the doctor. “This is the Serious Burns Unit.”

From The Scotish Banner, Australian Edition January 2010 p9.

Groans and Thanks Stephen McDonald

Traditional Scottish Advent Calendar



Cheers and Happy Holidays

The Bright Christmas Decorations Truck is a Geeky Way to Light Up Your Christmas | livegeek.info

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Angels can't fly, scientist says - Telegraph

A leading biologist has compared the physiology of flighted species with the representations of spiritual and mythical creatures in art – and found the angels and fairies that sit atop of Christmas trees did not get there under their own steam.

Prof Roger Wotton, from University College London, found that flight would be impossible for angels portrayed with arms and bird-like feathered wings.

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The Spaghetti Western Orchestra - The Good The Bad The Ugly

Classic.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

All you need to know that the Australian Governments Censorship Plan is Bollocks (and more)

What we know so far

The Australian Labor Party has announced it intends force ISPs to censor the Internet. This is contrary to the current practice whereby consumers have the choice to filter their Internet connections either through home PC filters or subscribing to a filtered ISP. The government intends to censor Refused Classification content, almost all of which is legal to view.

The government contracted Enex Test Lab to conduct a 'live pilot' of ISP filtering technologies, in which DBCDE Minister Stephen Conroy insisted the trial remain opt-in to test the performance load of a mandatory ISP filter at all ISPs in Australia. Conroy confirmed in Senate Estimates on Monday 19 October that he received the report on the weekend prior. The trial report was released on Tuesday 15 December 2009 and proclaimed a success. Senator Conroy will attempt to introduce legislation in the form of amendments to the Broadcasting Act just before the 2010 election.

Why is it a bad idea?

1. The ideals of a representative democratic society oppose censorship;
2. Australians have demonstrated they do not want it;
3. There are plenty of alternatives available (including ISPs that voluntarily offer filtering services);
4. The Government failed to advise the filters would be mandatory for all prior to the election;
5. Blacklisted sites are kept secret from the Australian public;
6. Any blacklist would need to be distributed to all ISPs in Australia, and will provide anyone a concentrated list of the 'worst of the worst' web pages when leaked;
7. It is easily circumvented or bypassed;
8. It introduces delay and declined performance in internet traffic;
9. It will increase the cost of broadband;
10. Filtering products incorrectly block legitimate traffic;
11. It introduces another source of failure and Internet outages;
12. The filter is proposed to filter HTTP traffic – which is not all protocols or even the majority of Internet traffic;
13. Those viewing child pornography will take additional steps to ensure their traffic is better protected (encryption, anonymisers such as TOR) to avoid censorship, which will hinder law enforcement;
14. It will give parents a false sense of security regarding online content;
15. It will introduce a level of insecurity in “secure” (SSL) Internet connections (if HTTPS sessions are filtered);
16. Costs spent in implementing the filters can be better spent elsewhere;
17. Children aware of the filter will deliberately attempt to find filtered sites and bypass the filter;
18. Top Internet Service Providers oppose the proposal;
19. Shifting parental responsibility to the ISPs/Government does nothing to prevent societal problems;
20. Other countries have blacklisted political critics where mandatory filtering has been imposed; and
21. There are too many individual URLs on the web, that any blacklist containing only a couple of thousand URLs will prove highly insufficient in an attempt to protect people from inappropriate web content;

What can I do?

Chronology and Media Coverage

2006

2007

2008

Please refer to the OCAU Wiki entry on Australian Internet Censorship for more media coverage not yet documented in this Wiki entry.

ISP's positions

Telstra/Bigpond, Internode, iiNet, Spin, Netspace and Adam Internet have spoken out against the Cleanfeed proposal.

Michael Malone, managing director of iiNet had stated iiNet will participate in the "ridiculous" Government filtering trial (source). Since then, iiNet have now decided to no longer be involved in the trials: http://www.itnews.com.au/News/99484,dbcde-wouldn%E2%80%99t-agree-to-blind-filter-trial-iinet.aspx

NetXP and WebShield have been so far been the only ISPs to publicly support the filter (source 1, source 2)

For more information, see Cleanfeed ISP Positions.

Links

Online Forum Discussions

Other Wikis

Audio Links

Letter Templates

Please report responses received to the MP Score Card; this will allow everyone to better understand what support is like for this proposal in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Remember – politicians need to represent the people or they'll be out of a job. Writing them letters makes them aware of the number of voters they stand to lose if they retain their position.

Facebook Groups
Show your support by joining these groups (Member numbers are accurate as of 11 November 2008):

Quotes

When governments start covering the eyes and ears of the whole nation, however, there is a real problem. We only need to look at those governments that have taken it to the extreme and burnt books to understand that. But there are more subtle ways to inhibit the flow of ideas that we need to be just as alert to.” – Kate Lundy, Australian Labor Party Senator. – http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/07/29/1059244609141.html.

"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." – Benjamin Franklin

"The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation." – Rabbi Daniel Lapin

"A censor is an expert in cutting remarks. A censor is a man who knows more than he thinks you ought to." – Dr. Laurence Peter

"All censorships exist to prevent anyone from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorship." – George Bernard Shaw

"I think censorship is evil, Andrew. It's the beginning of the Big Brother state, and if you start censoring matters and facts from people, it's an easy step to censor all sorts of things and they don’t know what is going on." – Donn Chipp, former Minister for Customs and Excise (covered censorship) – http://www.abc.net.au/tv/enoughrope/transcripts/s1730839.htm

"Don’t shrink from a new technology just because it may be subject to criminal abuse. Exploit its strengths, while controlling its weaknesses. This will be the way to survive in an increasingly competitive world." – Dr P N Grabosky – http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/chpornography/

"The Internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it." – John Gilmore

"In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;
And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;
And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;
And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up.
" – Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)

"Implementing system-wide solutions is potentially complex, expensive and may have reliability gaps." – ACMA Spokesperson, The Australian Newspaper, 01/05/2009

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Reporters Sans Frontières - Open letter to Australia’s Prime Minister

The Hon Kevin Michael Rudd Prime Minister Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600 Australia

Paris, 18 December 2009

Dear Prime Minister,

Reporters Without Borders, an organisation that defends free expression worldwide, would like to share with you its concern about your government’s plan to introduce a mandatory Internet filtering system. While it is essential to combat child sex abuse, pursuing this draconian filtering project is not the solution. If Australia were to introduce systematic online content filtering, with a relatively broad definition of the content targeted, it would be joining an Internet censors club that includes such countries as China, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Communications minister Stephen Conroy announced on 15 December that, after a year of testing in partnership with Australian Internet service providers (ISPs), your government intended to introduce legislation imposing mandatory filtering of websites with pornographic, paedophile or particularly violent content.

Reporters Without Borders would like to draw your attention to the risks that this plan entails for freedom of expression.

Firstly, the decision to block access to an “inappropriate” website would be taken not by a judge but by a government agency, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). Such a procedure, without a court decision, does not satisfy the requirements of the rule of law. The ACMA classifies content secretly, compiling a website blacklist by means of unilateral and arbitrary administrative decision-making. Other procedures are being considered but none of them would involve a judge.

Secondly, the criteria that the proposed law would use are too vague. Filtering would be applied to all content considered “inappropriate,” a very slippery term that could be interpreted very differently by different people. In all probability, filtering would target “refused classification” (RC) sites, a category that is extremely controversial as it is being applied to content that is completely unrelated to efforts to combat child sex abuse and sexual violence, representing a dangerous censorship option. Subjects such as abortion, anorexia, aborigines and legislation on the sale of marijuana would all risk being filtered, as would media reports on these subjects.

The choice of filtering techniques has not been clearly defined. Would it be filtering by key-words, URL text or something else? And what about the ISPs that are supposed to carry out the filtering at the government’s request? Will they be blamed, will they be accused of complicity in child sex abuse if the filtering proves to be ineffective, as it almost certainly will?

Your government claims that the filtering will be 100 per cent effective but this is clearly impossible. Experts all over the world agree that no filtering system is effective at combating this kind of content. On the one hand, such a system filters sites that should not be affected (such as sites about the psychology of child sexuality or paedophile crime news). And on the other, it fails to filter targeted sites because their URLs contain key-words that are completely unrelated to their content, or because their content (photo and text) is registered under completely neutral terms. Furthermore, people who are determined to visit such sites will know how to avoid the filtering by, for example, using proxy servers or censorship circumvention software or both.

The Wikileaks website highlighted the limitations of such as system when it revealed that the ACMA blacklist of already banned websites contained many with nothing reprehensible in their content. According to Wikileaks, the blacklist included the Abortion TV website, some of the pages of Wikileaks itself, online poker sites, gay networks, sites dealing with euthanasia, Christian sites, a tour operator’s site and even a Queensland dentist’s site.

The US company Google has also voiced strong reservations. Google Australia’s head of policy, Iarla Flynn, said yesterday: “Moving to a mandatory ISP filtering regime with a scope that goes well beyond such material is heavy handed and can raise genuine questions about restrictions on access to information.”

As regards paedophilia, the most dangerous places on the Internet are websites offering chat and email services. So if this project were taken to its logical conclusion, access to sites such as Gmail, Yahoo and Skype would also have to be blocked, which would of course be impossible.

There are more effective ways to combat child pornography, including tracking cyber-criminals online (by means of cookies, IP address comparison, and so on), combined with police investigation into suspects and their online habits. Why did your government end the programme launched by the previous government, which made free filtering systems available to Australian families? This procedure had the merit of being adapted to individual needs and gave each home the possibility of shielding its children from porn.

A real national debate is needed on this subject but your communications minister, Stephen Conroy, made such a debate very difficult by branding his critics as supporters of child pornography. An opportunity was lost for stimulating a constructive exchange of ideas.

We also regret the lack of transparency displayed by your government as regards the tests carried out in recent months using procedures that have been kept secret. Your government paid some 300,000 Australian dollars to ISPs to finance the tests. Australian taxpayers have a right to be given detailed information about the results.

Finally, you must be aware that this initiative is a source of a concern for your compatriots. In a recent Fairfax Media poll of 20,000 people, 96 per cent were strongly opposed to such a mandatory Internet filtering system, while around 120,000 Australians have signed a petition against Internet censorship launched by the online activist group GetUp. The withdrawal of this proposal would therefore satisfy public opinion as well as prevent a democratic country from introducing a system that threatens freedom of expression.

I thank you in advance for the consideration you give to our recommendations.

Sincerely,

Jean-François Julliard
Secretary-General

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Man dressed in animal skin shot dead during hunt - Telegraph

Good argument for just going to the supermarket.

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Cutaways-It's What's Inside That Counts! group pool

Flickr Cutaway Group. Memories of boys magazines from my childhood.

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Climate under attack, the chimp pans thee


Is the ETS debate sending you bananas? Can't understand why climate change action is such a hairy subject, or why Malcolm Turnbull fell to the gorillas in his midst? Well, spare a thought for Santino the agitated chimpanzee, who took direct action to protest against his environmental conditions but soon discovered that railing against the status quo comes at a high price when dealing with humans.
Santino, who lives in Sweden's Furuvik Zoo, is no ordinary chimp. In fact, he's pushed back the boundaries of what is considered human behaviour. Appalled at his incarceration and the steady flow of gawking humans ruining his environment, this chimp took direct action. Over a period of some months, the 31-year-old was observed before opening hours chipping and stockpiling rocks to ensure a supply of strategically placed ammunition to throw at interlopers.
Cognitive scientist Mathias Osvath, who published a report on Santino in Current Biology, said that such complex planning suggested he could anticipate future events and devise ways of dealing with them. ''Planning like this is supposed to be uniquely human,'' Osvath said.
So there you go. Smart chimp wants to protect his environment and plans ahead in order to do so. Obviously not a contender for Tony Abbott's frontbench.
Unfortunately, poor old Santino didn't really plan for what happened next. ''They have castrated the poor guy,'' a shamefaced Osvath admitted. That's right, by railing against the system and expanding our knowledge about the intelligence of other animals, brave Santino copped a typically pragmatic human solution to calm him down and shut him up. Perhaps we should start worrying about what really happened to Peter Garrett?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Santa promotes obesity and drink-driving, claims health expert - Telegraph

Dr Nathan Grills from Monash University in Australia said the idea of a fat Father Christmas gorging on brandy and mince pies as he drove his sleigh around the world delivering presents was not the best way to promote a healthy and safe lifestyle among the young.

Writing on bmj.com, Dr Grills said: "Santa only needs to affect health by 0.1 per cent to damage millions of lives."

Eat your carrots and have a glass of milk Doctor. Pass the Christmas MRE's.

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Skywatch Friday



The Google Streetview Car in our neighbourhood.

More skies here.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Scottish Bar Wench


Scottish Bar Wench, originally uploaded by theclutterbells.

Tis the party season.

Photo Hunt Undesirable







Undesirable School Uniform



Undesirable Work Outfit



Undesirable to be left behind



Undesirable to meet this guy late at night.





Undesirable Back Yard Pet

Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy Tree Friends - Another Christmas Song

Early yes, but funny.

Thanks Martin

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Carrier Pigeons ply the waterways of Bangaldesh

CAN pigeons float? The question pops into my mind and lodges there as I board Parabat 2, a passenger ferry bound from Dhaka for the islands and waterways fringing the Bay of Bengal.

In Bangladesh, parabat means pigeon, not the most reassuring name for a dilapidated vessel about to sail through one of world's largest river systems. "Luxury River Travels with a Differents" reads my ticket. Those "differents" being, I hope, that this pigeon won't sink.

My ferry is heading for the bustling delta town of Barisal, a former British colonial outpost and one of the most atmospheric places I have visited in 20 years of exploring Asia. We are due to depart at 8.30pm from Sadarghat boat terminal in Old Dhaka, the insanely crowded heart of an already frenetic city.

Evening is rush hour at Sadarghat. I stand on the top deck of the three-storey Parabat 2 and watch the hypnotising tableau below. A constant stream of humanity flows up gangplanks and on to ferries moored tightly together along rusting pontoons. Ships' bells and claxons, the cries of porters, vendors and beggars, the muezzins announcing evening prayer . . . it is a cauldron of noise.

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