Saturday, May 31, 2008

Photohunt: Self (Piece of Me)

Here's a Piece of Me

Another Piece of Me

And Another Piece of Me

Eat Your Heart out Britney Spears!

Zemanta Pixie

Beryl Cook

I always liked Beryl Cook.

There was always an innocent nautiness in her work and a very fun accessibility to her art.

Beryl Cook, one of Britain's most popular and most recognisable artists, has died aged 81, at her home in Plymouth. Once described by Victoria Wood as "Rubens with jokes", Cook portrayed a world of innocent naughtiness that divided critics but established her as a firm favourite with the public, who never tired of the cards and reproductions of her work.

Her private life was nothing like the pub life that she portrayed so accurately.

Yet the critics hated her: Time Out refused to include her exhibitions in its listings and the Tate never bought one of her paintings. Brian Sewell said of her art: "It doesn’t have the intellectual honesty of the Pig and Whistle. It has a kind of vulgar streak which has nothing to do with art."

Yet infuriatingly for the artistic establishment, her paintings, (produced at a rate of about one a fortnight) commanded up to £20,000 apiece; even more infuriating was that Beryl Cook herself seemed to share their low opinion of her own work. “I know there are some artists who look down on my work,” she said, “and when you compare mine with some of the others, I can see what they’re getting at.”

People invariably wanted to know whether Beryl Cook was fat like her paintings. In fact she was neither fat nor jolly, but thin, almost pathologically shy and extremely neurotic, so much so that several interviewers concluded that her painting was an outlet for the repressed desires and emotions she never dared to express.

She had a disconcerting habit of laughing uncontrollably when uneasy; disabled people or dwarves would reduce her to wheezy hysterics and she could not sit in an audience at a theatre without bursting into fits of nervous giggles. Not surprisingly she rarely gave interviews and never attended private views or publicity events for her own work.

She even refused to go up to London to see the Queen when she was awarded an OBE.

She brought a lot of joy to a lot of people and it seems, more than a little teeth nashing and negative chattering by Art Toffs. Her legacy is way beyond those people now.

Sex and the City - Adelaide and Tokyo Version

Sex sells they say and with a great deal of coverage of this film, I felt it important to bring this important news.

Adelaide has made it into the big time with the first ever Sexpo being held here. While I didn't attend, I did complain to the advertising regulator that it was being promoted early in the evening on commercial television. It really did generate a lot of free publicity with all the news programmes covering it. Major step forward for Adelaide with the coming out of the Sex Industry. Adelaide has more than its fair share of sex shops and adult entertainment venues and perhaps reflects some of the calvinist thought around the place.

Being a little prudish by nature I was interested to see that the first ever Sexpo had also recently been held in Tokyo. Based on my experience in Japan I got the feeling that this sort of stuff would be more out in the open, but it seems that it is not the done thing to wander around Sex Exhibitions in Japan.

Japan recently had its first-ever adult expo at the Makuhari Messe convention center near Tokyo. In a press release the organizers of the "Adult Treasure Expo" vowed to "draw the adult industry out of the darkness and secrecy which has traditionally surrounded it, to the place of honor and value which it deserves.

Honor and Value indeed. Interesting stuff all the same if you are into exploring ways to make it better.

And Product of the Day goes to the G Pod.

The gPod dildo has three independent motors which vibrate in time to any audio input, including music from an iPod or the sound of the human voice. The name is as ingenious as the design: a triple pun on iPod, G-spot and the Japanese for masturbation, jii.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

How About Some Decent Broadband First?

This is a party political broadcast on behalf of the Telstra Party.

If you think that petrol is expensive, wait until they have a more robust monopoly to provide internet services. Coming soon to your neighbourhood. Crap and expensive telecommunications services. If you don't like it suckers, buy a carrier pigeon.

Forget conference calls or video crosses - beaming your hologram interstate for a live chat is closer to becoming a household reality.

In what Telstra says is a national first, the telco beamed a mobile three dimensional image of its chief technology officer, Hugh Bradlow, from Melbourne to Adelaide to give a live business presentation.

Perhaps he could be beamed into every home, along with Sol so that Australians could throw virtual rocks at them.

He could start be telling Australia about why Telstra locks up existing installed technology to provide faster internet to working families as part of their commercial strategy, charges a fortune for their current shonky fraudband and plans to establish an unaffordable monoply to rip of Australian internet users. These guys need to be reined in and held to account.

As he said in his presentation, this hologram technology is a few years off. Based on current plans it is a few centuries off. Some of our not too distant neighbourhoods cannot access even basic broadband. An experiment to provide greater access to areas like that has been canned by the Rudd Government. The hidden hand of Telstra is everywhere when it comes to telecommunications.

Seems to me that RuddCo have to shit or get off the pot and give other players a real level playing field in the fibre to the house (or something like that) battle that is just about to develop as the tender to bring faster broadband to more of Australia is announced. Competitors are only grudgingly being given basic information on Telstras network. How can you develop a meaningful tender if only one party, has access to all the juicy information and is essentially the incumbent.

Go the Anybody But Telstra Telecommunications Consortiums.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Tommy Seebach: Musical Man of Action

With the Russian win in the Eurovision Song Contest fading in our collective consciousness, it is sobering to note that this man had his country disqualified from the next years competition after his dismal showing. Hard to imagine based on this.

Sort of a mix between Buddy Holly and Austin Powers.
Thanks Tambourine Queen

The video response on You Tube is also very funny.

Dean Windass Hull Local Hero

When Dean Windass scored the winning goal for Hull City to secure promotion to the English Premier League for the first time, there was a certain symnetry.

Born in Hull (Where?), he started off as a builder before starting for Hull City in 1991. He was a bit of a naughty boy when he was at Aberdeen and was shown a red card three times in one game. One for a second bookable offence, one for verbally abusing the referee and one for kicking the corner flag. Graham Poll eat your heart out.

Now back at Hull at the age of 39 he scored the winning goal at the twilight of his career to give them the chance to get thumped by the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool next season. The citizens of Hull are thankful. Much better than grinding it out against Doncaster and the like.

He can swan song for a few seasons and retire in style. He will likely never have to buy a beer again.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Photo Hunt: Shoes

Or rather where are the shoes? My kids have, since they were very little always wanted to take their shoes off as soon as they get into the house or into the car or in a playing situation. I like to do this too and often walk around with no shoes. My wife therefore blames me, largely, for this failure in parenting.

It was quite normal in Singapore to remove shoes before going into peoples houses. I have some great photographs of large shoe collections congregated around doorways of preschools, houses and mosques.

Of course it is also fair game to take off your shoes when you are on the trampoline. The problem is that they generally end up underneath. At our other house, it was a daily job to go out and do a shoe round up in the garden. This week I found two pairs around that area.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bliss to Blitzed in Three Minutes in Sichuan

What a difference, three minutes and a magnitude 7.9 earthquake make.

These are important moments in any couples lives. When we lived in Singapore, the family wedding photographs were a big deal. Parks were often full of beaming young couples. For our wedding it was freezing and raining, but we managed to avoid any major dramas other than my future wife nearly freezing in her not too warm outfit.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Yurts for the Masses Political Fix

In the wake of a massive backlash against the effective shelving of the former Howard Governments plan to bankrupt the country by putting a photovoltaic cell on every middle class home in Australia and the worst housing affordability crisis since the white man came and as a means of showing solidarity with the Tibetan People, the Rudd Government has made a multi million dollar purchase of Yurts.

Yurt and Land Packages, to be sold in an affordable price bracket in the outer suburbs of major metropolitan areas, will be offered on means tested basis for families earning less than $250,000, to assist striving Australians to get into the housing market. To demonstrate their green credentials, a free Yak, and trailer to provide of cheap environmentally sustainable transportation, a yak poo cooker and power generation system have been thrown in along with a wind up computer and free fibre to the yurt broadband.

"We just want to give these guys a leg up before the next election. We are worried that they could be picked off by a rejuventated uber Green Coalition at the next election" said a spokesman.

Uplifting Story of the Day

This made me sad. We are all conditioned by this kind of thinking in small and large ways. I wonder how my behaviour is instilling this kind of thinking on my kids. Go for those bananas kids!

Picture 5 monkeys placed in a cage. A new community is formed. From the ceiling of the cage hangs a bunch of bananas. A stepladder is placed under the bananas. As the first eager monkey rushes up the ladder, a firehose knocks him off and hoses down all the monekys. Shocked, they sit back and regroup. Later another monkey tries, with the same result. It make take repeated attempts by each monkey before they become conditioned (socialized really) to not climb the ladder.

At some point, the lesson has been learned by this closed culture and controls how they respond as a community. Then one monkey forgets and steps onto the ladder. But the firehose doesn’t have time to react. The other four monkeys grab the offender and beat him senseless. They’ve learned that in this society, you don’t climb the ladder.

Now the process of attrition and replacement in the society begins. One of the original monkeys is removed and a new monkey is added to the group. He spies the bananas and leaps onto the ladder, only to be dragged down and beaten by the rest of the group. After several attempts, the new monkey learns.

Another original monkey is replaced with a new monkey. And the same process follows. Then another and another and another. Soon we have a group of five monkeys who’ve never been soaked by the firehose, but won’t climb the ladder. This learned behavior was socialized into the group over time.

It no longer matters how many generations of monkeys follow. The new behavior is that a monkey climbing the ladder will be dragged off and beaten. None of the monkeys in the cage has ever been knocked off the ladder with a firehose. None have been soaked down. They don’t know what the consequence is because it’s been replaced by group behavior. They can’t remember being soaked. They don’t know why they do what they do. The accepted norm for this closed community is to beat anyone who tries to climb the ladder.

The Australian Tall Poppy Syndrome is an institutionalised version of this story. It is hard to break out of destructive patterns. We retreat into what we know and rarely challenge the negative aspects of our lives, be they personal, work related or political.

Thanks Bart for this ugly reminder.

Monday, May 19, 2008

TV Kills

Braun HF 1, Germany, 1959Image via WikipediaThis is a sad indictment on society and a warning to those who watch too much television. Watch out for some new health studies. Television can bore kill you.

The remains of a woman have been found sitting in front of her TV - 42 years after she was reported missing.

Hedviga Golik, who was born in 1924, had apparently made herself a cup of tea before sitting in her favourite armchair in front of her black and white television.

I am surprised that this doesn't happen more often, with the rubbish served up on a daily basis. I would hope that my family would notice however.

Here is a free television health check.
Score high and you are in danger. Don't watch television by yourself.

How Rabbits Get Their Bounce

Ben and Daisy discovered the trampoline this week. Seems that staying in the garden makes them lazy and fat. Nothing like a bounce to shed those extra grams.

The Great Kilt Conspiracy Debunked

Lord Dacre, esteemed authenticator of the Hitler Diaries, debunks Scottish Myths in his book The Invention of Scotland: Myth and History to be published five years after his death. Sounds like a policy paper for an English Nationalist party.

“In Scotland, it seems to me, myth has played a far more important part in history than it has in England.

“Indeed, I believe the whole history of Scotland has been coloured by myth; and that myth, in Scotland, is never driven out by reality, or by reason, but lingers on until another myth has been discovered to replace it.”

He claims that the “myth” of the ancient Highland dress was perpetuated by historians to provide a symbol by which Scots could be universally identified, as well as to support the country’s textile industry.

The traditional dress of the Highlanders was in fact a long Irish shirt and a cloak or plaid, he states, and only the higher classes had woven in stripes and colours creating tartan.

How will Alex and the boys be able to perpetuate the myth of the Scottish Nation after this mean spirited nibbling stinging indictment of Scottish Kitsch Origins. Will all the tourist ask for their money back? Is this another nasty trick by the English Establishment to undermine Scottish claims to independence, neuter Scottish nationalism, silence the Tartan Army and the like.

In reality most of the myths in Scotland are conjured in the pub after about 10 beers.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Bar is Where the Heart is

This kind of stuff is parochial and pretentious bollocks. Woopdee Doo that some Aussie bars made it into the Top 100. This one looks like a cruise ship.

A bar should be where you are, preferably within walking distance. Architectural icons and lounges that look like museums and offices are not very appealling as many of these appear to be.

Do they serve good beer should be the first rule. Can I get to them should be close behind. Everything else is just a little unimportant darling.

Frankly it is a bit sad that the top rated bar is in Dubai, a country where none of the locals drink is a bit rich. They are trying to promote Aussie Rules Football there in a country where nobody plays or watches the game. Oh yes, they have money and they are willing to shell out for a bunch of rich young 20 somethings to chase a ball around for a couple of hours and then get shellacked in the bar afterwards. Perhaps there is a connection.

So lets all fly around the world, burning up carbon to drink in unknown bars with no mates????

Clever Word Play

More funny stuff here.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Photo Hunt: Candy

The Candy King got sobering news at the dentist this week. He will have to curtail his sugar intake. One of his back teeth is showing signs of sugar attack. He is now on a diet of carrots and apples. Not quite true, but we have cut back his sugar addiction therapy dramatically. His missing tooth is now two. Nothing alarming, just normal teeth growth. The kids have never had any issues up to now. He sets the timer and cleans for two minutes every night now.

I was always petrified of the dentist at his age. All they ever wanted to do was to pull out teeth and fill others. Amazing that I have made it to this age with them substantially intact.

Hannah in her Mum's Wedding Dress

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Mum is gone for the evening and Hannah raided her wardrobe. It was a bit shocking to see her in Elizabeth's wedding dress, when she paraded in, not so much that she didn't look good in it, which she obviously did, creases and all, but that the last time she was in that dress was when we got married. She was borne five months later. Quite astonishing that she is such a tall and glamorous girl now.
Elizabeth had the dress made in Singapore where we were living. Our 10th Anniversary is next month and even more important for Hannah, she gets to have earrings this year. She has been counting the days for about six years.

My Six Word Memoir

Not being one of many words, this little challenge from Lady Banana shouldn't be too hard. She has all the rules here. I am sure she won't mind me borrowing an appropriate image from her excellent collection.

So here goes. You can start carving now.

Sarcastic, Cynical, Humorous, Irreverent, Dour Scot

I want a big statue however.

Ryanaldo starts his Football Career

This article took me back to my childhood. We used to be let loose for hours at a time to wander around the countryside, climb trees, visit farms and pass the time. I know that we control our kids much more than my parents did. All their activities are scheduled and we arrange transport for them there and back. Normal now, but my mum couldn't drive when I was my kids age and my dad had the car most of the time. We had to be independent.

Ryan had his first football (soccer) game today. He is playing for his school and we got him new boots and stuff, which he is very proud of. Football at that age is played a little like Aussie Rules Football with all the little kids running in groups wherever the ball is. Eighteen kids around the ball was quite normal. The windy and rainy weather brought back great memories of the freezing windy and wet days that I spent freezing playing for Largoward. We used to have to get up by ourselves, cycle at least part of the way there and back by ourselves regardless of the weather and deal with some very competitive team mates who didn't take too kindly to my wimpy play. Ryan on the other hand can expect to have his bag packed, schedule arranged, chauffeured to the game, snacks provided, encouragement offered and warm clothes provided on cold and wet days and his strip washed. Not complaining, just very different.

I hope he looks back on this stage of his life and doesn't feel that we controlled him too much. It's a tough one as the first commenter on the linked article notes. Every parents worst nightmare. How much should we cotton wool our kids?

Ryan's Australian cousins are being fast tracked for the Premier League by their over enthusiastic father. His game plan is to pay off the mortgage with their first contract, I think. I am just not that competitive and if any father thinks that they can run the sideline and coach a seven year old, they are mad. Just watch where the ball is, with its magnetic attraction and that is where the kids will be. The chances of positioning your child ready for a breakaway pass by yelling at them is reasonably good if you have a loud voice. The chance of the ball coming to them is about as low as winning the lottery.

All good fun all the same.

Royal Flying Doctor Service Hits Eighty

Reverend Dr John Flynn, (1880-1951), featured here on the Australian $20 bill, was a South Australian Presbyterian minister in charge of the Australian Inland Mission, an organisation dedicated to bringing church services and health care to the outback. He established the RFDS in 1928 after recognising the potential for combining aircraft and radio to reach out to remote parts of Australia.

The first flight, on 17 May 1928, from Cloncurry was made using a De Havilland named ‘Victory’ hired from the fledgling Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Service (QANTAS) for two shillings per mile flown. The aircraft was a single engine, fabric covered, cabin bi-plane capable of carrying a pilot and four passengers at a cruising speed of just under 80 miles per hour. 'Victory', was greeted at the Julia Creek airstrip by more than 100 people. The distance travelled was 85 miles. 'Victory' went on to fly 110,000 miles in the service of the Flying Doctor until 1934 when it was replaced by QANTAS with a DH83 Fox Moth.

The first pilot, Arthur Affleck, had no navigational aids, no radio and only a compass. He navigated by landmarks such as fences, rivers, river beds, dirt roads or just wheel tracks and telegraph lines. He also flew in an open cockpit, fully exposed to the weather, behind the doctor's cabin. Airstrips were, at best, claypans or, at the worst, hastily cleared paddocks.

The service now has 50 high tech flying emergency rooms and still services the bush.

When I was little our Australian relatives sent us a book of Australiana and the Flying Doctor and education over the radio really captured my imagination. That and the koalas in the back yard.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Childhood Hero Day June 13th

The first Captain Underpants book.Image via WikipediaMegan at Imaginif is promoting Childhood Hero Day on June 13th.

As the website explains:

Every child needs a hero. Heroes don’t need superpowers. Heroes are adults who can help children to understand and feel safe in a rapidly changing world. In a time when children are feeling uncertain about their future, heroes give children confidence, share their worries and celebrate their successes. Heroes help children work out their relationships, understand what is happening to them as they grow and develop and share time with them.

Heroes play a pivotal role in the lives of children. In the increasingly hectic pace of life and with the pressures of work, it can be easy to lose sight of the heroes children need us to be for them. Children need adults to care for them, be interested in their lives and keep them safe. Childhood heroes make a profound and lasting difference for children throughout their entire lives.

Ryan wore a Spiderman outfit almost every day for over a year when he was around 4. It was very important. Other Superheros have been around, but not as important as that.

Here is the current hero, Captain Underpants, inspired by the books by Dav Pilkey. Both Hannah and Ryan are reading them at the moment. Ryan wore this to school yesterday and entertained his class with his outrageous swaggering and his Bucktooth Monster sock puppet that he had made the previous night at Joey Scouts.

I'll do my bit, but I am not wearing underpants on my head.

Sun Sets on Solar Rebate

Who would have thought that a Howard Government Renewable Energy programme would be so successful that the Rudd Government are proposing to throttle it, such that it becomes non viable for many users, potentially putting many businesses up against it after gearing up to implement solar power on peoples houses. Mind boggling.

The solar power industry is predicting a dramatic decline in people installing solar panels, causing millions of dollars in lost business and job losses, after the Federal Government made it harder for households to receive an $8000 rebate.

Environment Minister Peter Garrett announced in the budget that only households earning less than $100,000 would qualify for the rebate, effective immediately.

It follows a surge in applications — up to seven times more a week, businesses say — since the Howard government doubled the rebate from $4000 to $8000 a year ago.

Clearly this is a budget management exercise rather than sensible public policy. If the government wants to promote the development of renewable energy then some combination of lowering the bar for people who want to do the right thing and increasing the tariff that homeowners can get to recover the cost of the system quicker and to promote measures to reduce demand particularly during peak periods.

Monash University senior lecturer Jeff McLean, who co-ordinates a management climate change course, said the means test was a retrograde public policy step.

"It would appear they are thinking of the rebate as middle-class welfare," he said. "What we need is to massively move to renewable energy. You can debate whether panels on roofs are the best way to go, but they are certainly a very public symbol of the move."

We looked into this for our new house. South Australia has the perfect climate for these systems. It would have been a stretch for us, but we were interested in doing the right thing. In the end we decided to reduce our monthly mortgage payment by making a larger deposit. The economics were very weighted to paying down the mortgage rather than supporting renewable energy. That would be even more so with the increase in interest rates since we bought our home.

The growth of many of the franchises built around these rebates will be brought to a very rapid halt. So much for building new capabilities, tackling a global and local issue.

Baffling. Come on Mr Garrett, The Beds are Burning!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Facebook Quibbles

On balance I like Facebook, just not this stuff so much. I like some intermittent interaction, but not too much daily poking and inviting.

Zemanta is interesting. My suggested tags for this post were Digital Camera, Olympus, Economic, Jim Flaherty, Photography, Economic Club of Toronto, Arts, United States


Thanks from No More Poking Ever! Cellobella