Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Bye Brisbane, hello Melbourne

Before I flew out this morning I rang Energex to cancel my electricity account. As I was about to hang up the Engergex lady says in a smart-arse you're-gonna-die-voice voice, "Enjoy the Melbourne winter." Oh hardy ha ha. Bitch.

Checking into the Virgin Blue desk I discovered my luggage weighed a total of 48kgs - 28 kgs over the limit. That extra 28kgs cost me, or rather, the University of Melbourne $122. Now my ticket was $155 and I weigh anything from 70 to 75 kg. You do the maths. That's right. Bastards.

Tomorrow I have to go to uni to meet academics and students. And enrol into my PhD - usually when you apply for a PhD scholarship, you automatically apply for the PhD. Apparently not at Uni of Melbourne.

Suprisingly, Melbourne today was sunny and I left Brissie in shitty grey weather. Maybe it's an omen...

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Dubya and Cricket

Apparently, the Texan is a fan of cricket:

US President George Bush said this week "I'm a cricket match person" - and he'll have a chance to show it at a cricket event during his brief upcoming trip to Pakistan.

Let's hope he bowls better than Howard.


After a request made yesterday by a mate, I present the bizarre Okapi, a horse-size chimera from the jungles of central Africa. Its closest living relative is the giraffe as you can see by its head. It was only discovered by non-locals in 1901.


Okapis are unusual in their ability to sleep for only 5 minutes in a 24 hour period and remain at peak alertness.

Plenty more photos on google.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Moving Soon

I will be moving to Melbourne on Tuesday the 28th. I will be not taking my computer with me since it's simply not worth the cost in freight. I aim to get a laptop from my new uni. Fingers crossed.

Consequently, blog entries will be scarce in the next couple of weeks until everything is sorted.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

No kidding

Scientists reckon that sex with a 'partner' is 400% better:

Lovers know only too well that men usually need a "recovery period" after orgasm, and that sexual intercourse with orgasm is more satisfying than an orgasm from masturbation alone. Now scientists think the two phenomena might be linked.

Following orgasm, the hormone prolactin is released into the bloodstream in both men and women. The hormone makes us feel satiated by countering the effect of dopamine, which is released during sexual arousal.

This explains why orgasm from intercourse is more satisfying than masturbation, says Brody. Since elevated levels of prolactin have been linked to erectile dysfunction, this may also explain why most men need a recovery period after sex.

I wonder where they get their volunteers?

Common Crims

These poms are nothing but common criminals:

The United Kingdom's Securitas depot robbery took place on 22 February 2006, between 1:00 am and 2:15 am GMT. At least six men tied up fifteen staff members and stole between £25 million and £40 million[1] (US$43 million to US$70 million) in banknotes from a Securitas Cash Management Ltd. Tonbridge, Kent.

But seriously, the UK seems to have a history of extravgant robberies. Whenever you hear the words 'great' and 'robbery', it's from the UK. In Ireland I read the 'Great Train Robbery' - loosely based on a British heist in 1855 - written by Michael Crichton. A couple of months later a Northern Irish* bank was robbed to the tune of £26.5 million. Ouch.

Good thing Australian immigration checks these Brits for criminal records before allowing them to migrate to our beautiful law-abiding nation ;)

*Since the bank was in Northern Ireland, and not the Republic of Ireland, that makes it part of the UK. While in the Republic of Ireland, my mate mentioned this fact to his Irish boss who responded with: Ah boy, you're lucky you're carrying that shovel there...

Riots are coming

Yup. There will be violent international riots any minute now:

The spiritual leader of Iraq's Shiites is appealing for calm after insurgents bombed one of the holiest Muslim shrines in the country.

At least six Iraqi Sunnis have been killed in revenge attacks for the bombing of Samarra's al-Askari Mosque.

Overpowering the guards at the mosque, gunmen detonated two bombs under its golden dome, completely destroying it and badly damaging the building.

Give it five months or so.There just has to be riots. This is far, far worse than cartoons, isn't?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Trudeau the Fraud

Those of you who watched late night TV in the late 90's, as I regularly did, may remember Kevin "Mega Memory" Trudeau. In the new issue of Scientific American Michael Shermer, founder of the Skeptic Society, writes not too kindly about old Trudeau in his column:

If readers had purchased Trudeau's Mega Memory, perhaps they would have remembered that he spent almost two years in federal prison after pleading guilty to credit-card fraud...

Trudeau has now turned his attention to natural medicine by self- publishing and flogging off his new book, Natural Cures "They" Don't Want You to Know About. Shermer points out just a couple of flaws (in grey) in Truduea's book:

"Medical science has absolutely, 100 percent, failed in the curing and prevention of illness, sickness, and disease." (Smallpox is not a disease?) "Sun block has been shown to cause cancer." (References?) "Don't drink tap water." (Wrong: studies show it is as safe as bottled water.) "Animals in the wild virtually never get sick." (No need to worry about avian influenza.) "Stop taking nonprescription and prescription drugs." (Including insulin for diabetes?) "This includes vaccines." (Welcome back, polio.)

Ah, good old natural medicine. I'm sure there are some natural remedies out there that work (better than a placebo). But natural medicines don't go through the very rigorous testing methods that regular drugs have to pass in developed countries. As such, charlatans like Trudeau can legally peddle any old snake-oil. Alas, I wish there was a cure for clowns like Trudeau.

Shermer concludes with:

There is one lesson that I gleaned from this otherwise feckless author, well expressed in an old Japanese proverb: " Baka ni tsukeru kusuri wa nai"--"There is no medicine that cures stupidity." Domo arigato, Mr. Trudeau.

Loonies at Uni

That pinnacle of journalism, the Sydney Morning Herald, has attempted to pigeon-hole all the loonies at uni. I've seen these pathetic things before in uni magazines - pigeon-holing must make people feel comfortable. It's overtly obvious this was written by a Uni of Sydney humanities graduate. But where does a loony like me fit in? I suppose, since I lived on college my first couple of years, I would've fallen under:

COLLEGE KIDS - The path of privilege is pre-ordained - from GPS boarding school to gold pass in the SCG Members' Stand. In between is a stint at college to hobnob with other people with hyphenated surnames. Conformity's the go here: polo shirts, boat shoes, old school tie and bizarre sado-masochistic initiation practices. Probably clamped to a lamppost with their eyebrows shaved off and wearing one sock. Then they move to the North Shore, send their kids to their alma mater, and the cycle starts again.

Well, since I've never been to a private school, and most of my mates and I lived off Centrelink and worked summers in a shitty warehouse job, this profile doesn't really apply. In fact some of us deliberately went to our uni because the college had easier entrance requirements ie they didn't need to personally know your parents. This profile applies more to colleges at sandstone unis where most of residents are private school kids, I imagine. But by all means, keep the stereotypes flourishing.

Nowadays I would probably fall under:

DEBATERS - Convinced they're right - in reality, they're just up themselves. Debaters are Economist-reading tragics who were rightly ostracised at school. Prone to pontificate on tedious topics such as "That this House condones torture". Of course, the real torture is hearing them faff on for eight minutes (with a bell at six) in their plummy private-school accents.

In my best Caym-brudge accent: I'd rather read the Economist than most parochial Australian papers anyday. And I'm not convinced I'm right, I know I'm right. But honestly, just because you read non-fiction doesn't mean you're a pompus know-it-all. Though it does help ;)

Groups that shat me: Activists, Drama Queens and (perpetual self-righteous) Arts Students. Since I will be doing my PhD for the next three years, I will most definitely fall under this group one day:

THE SLEAZY LECTURER - A burnt-out idealist who fed his porn addiction over summer while pretending to work on "research projects". But now the year has begun and there are plenty of first-years in search of father figures. Watch the lecturer's eyes flicker, scoping potential targets. The chosen one will be lavished with double entendres in class and offers of extra coaching (preferably with the door locked), until the university catches on and sends the lecturer on "sabbatical"

Pity. I chose the wrong research area. There's not too many girls in my field - unless I go to Uni of Melbourne...

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


This is just bizarre.

Interesting, if true.

The False Consensus Effect

It used to annoy me, and still does to a lesser extent, when women would say things like "men are such bastards". Um, no, my friends aren't. I think most of my mates are fairly decent, but obviously there are plenty of bastards out there. Similarly, when you see morons performing mindless acts (an endless list of examples here) in the news and you ask yourself, who the hell does that? You'd (like to) think that none of your friends would ever do anything that stupid.

Well, it turns out this phenomena has a name, as I discovered on Wiki:

The false consensus effect refers to the tendency for people to overestimate the degree to which others agree with them. People readily guess their own opinions, beliefs and predilections as being more prevalent in the general public than they really are.

This bias is commonly present in a group setting where one thinks the collective opinion of their own group matches that of the larger population. Since the members of a group reach a consensus and rarely encounter those who dispute it, they tend to believe that everybody thinks the same way.

It would appear it's quite easy to end up living in an ivory tower, so to speak. I suppose it pays to chop and change friends and lifestyles if you want to know what everyone else is thinking. Then again, you simply might not care.

The Money Machine

Is your country in the shit? Do you have huge foreign debts and frighteningly high unemployment? Is the World Bank knocking on your door? Perhaps you need to adopt the revolutionary fiscal policy of 'President' Robert Mugabe, economics extraordinaire:

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe said yesterday his Government would print money as Zimbabwe's deepening economic crisis drove inflation to the highest levels in the world and unemployment climbed over 70per cent.

Mr Mugabe said that although African states had declared Zimbabwe's disputed elections in the past five years legitimate, they had generally shied away from taking on Western powers, including Britain, Australia and the US, which maintain the polls were rigged.

"None of them will stand up and say to them 'Go to hell'," he said. "We shrink in asserting our rights. We need much more courage in the African Union."

An estimated 80per cent of the country's 12.5million people are living in poverty.

I'm just angry that I didn't think of the idea. Oh wait. I did - when I was in primary school. Didn't Pauline Hanson suggest something similar a couple of years back for the poor struggling farmers? And who says intelligent life is dying out on Earth?

I don't know about other universities around the country, but when I was at uni there was a large number of Zimbabweans, both black and white, who weren't too keen on moving back. This mass emigration is what you would call 'fleeing a sinking ship'.

Good luck Zimbabwe.

Monday, February 20, 2006

The Hunt for Intelligent Life

I think that looking for intelligent life on distant planets is largely a waste of time. Why? Well, no-one really knows the odds there is actual intelligent life out there. Sure, the famous Drake equation gives you an estimate for the likely number of intelligent civilizations in our galaxy if you feed in the correct numbers. The thing is nobody knows what the correct values for these numbers are. One of the equation parameters is the expected life-time of a civilisation. Um, how do you guess that one? Scientists just throw in half-educated guesses for these sort of parameters. Not really an exact science.

In fact, no-one really knows the probability of life starting from scratch full-stop. I can tell you though it's something extremely small since life is truly a miracle. But we're lucky it did happen. Otherwise, we wouldn't be able to have this discussion ;)

You could argue that the size of the universe favours the chance that there is intelligent life out there, somewhere. True. The univerise is, to put it very mildly, exceedingly large. So large in fact most people, like me, cannot comprehend how large it truly is. If there is an intelligent civilisation out there speaking or listening to us, it will be an incredibly long wait until we've heard from them (or they've heard from us) and we've decoded their messages (or they've decoded ours). We'll probably be space dust by the time one of us hits the reply button.

Hence, I think it's all bit of a lost cause. I'd be interested to see a counter argument though. I might be persuaded to join the other side. For now we're better off looking for intelligent life here on Earth.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Church Central

I am blessed by having my home situated next to an Orthodox Church, whose arcane rituals include annually following an old guy around with candles at two in the morning, and across the road from a happy-clappy 'International' Church. Consequently, every fucken Sunday morning the Orthodox Church rings its blasted bells in lunatic thirteens while the other church drives me insane with their craptastic off-key Christian rock. You'd think after playing the same shit music for so many years they'd be good at it by now but noooooo. They still suck.

Oh yeah, last night I went to a friend's 21st and got about 4 hours sleep before musical hell broke loose this morning. There is no God.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Danish Bank

Hehe, the Economist made a funny:

Thus, the Cryos International Sperm Bank in Denmark is the world's largest exporter of sperm (no news yet on whether an Islamic boycott has hurt business).

I definitely have to get out more.

Mirror Test

Can you pass the mirror test?

The test gauges self-awareness by determining whether an animal can recognize its own reflection in a mirror as an image of itself.

Animals which have passed the mirror test are Common Chimpanzees, Bonobos, orangutans, dolphins, pigeons and humans. Surprisingly, gorillas have not passed the test, although at least one specific gorilla, Koko, has passed the test; this is probably because gorillas consider eye contact an aggressive gesture and normally try to avoid looking each other in the face.

Human children tend to fail this test until they are at least 1.5 to 2 years old . Dogs and 1 year old children, for example, usually react to a mirror in fear or curiosity, or simply ignore it, while birds often attack their own reflections.

While this test has been extensively conducted on primates, there is also debate as to the value of the test as applied to animals who rely primarily on senses other than vision, such as dogs.

Supposedly, a good way to test the self-awareness of your two-year old.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Melbourne Flight Booked

I've finally done it. I've booked a one-way flight to *sunny* Melbourne for the 28th of Feb. Oh, the excitement. It's like first year uni all over again. Now to make some new friends and, of course, enemies...

Question: Does this mean I have to dye all my white shirts pink to blend in as a Melbournian? Or do I just go for a shop down Chapel Street?


As weed as the inspiration, scientists have created:

A new weight loss drug that works by blocking a cannabinoid receptor in the brain has had “modest” success at helping people both lose weight and keep it off, researchers say. It also seemed to improve other risk factors for cardiovascular disease beyond what would be expected from weight loss alone.

But critics say the study’s methodology may have been flawed, given that almost half of its participants dropped out.

Hmmm, dropping out and cannabinoid receptors. Who would have thought?

Tisk, tisk, Texans

Only in litigious America:

Pauline Clayton was in Texas on holidays when she decided to catch Australian actor Heath Ledger's movie Brokeback Mountain last week.

Halfway through the picture, a woman film patron took a mobile phone call, and began talking.

Annoyed by the disruption, Ms Clayton, a former Sunshine Coast councillor, put her finger to her mouth, signalling to the woman to shush, then touched her on the shoulder twice.

The other woman then stood up and started shouting expletives at Ms Clayton before storming out of the cinema.

Police subsequently arrested Ms Clayton and charged her with assault.

Ms Clayton was fined $176...

Rigghttt. What ever happened to the southern charm?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Whitty's Blog

Ale-connoisseur and former Brisbane lad, Whitty has finally mastered the art of blogging. Ever the shrewd scribe, I'm sure his acerbic writing skills, which are far superior to my own, will entertain, if not offend, most in the blogosphere as he attempts to put his journalism degree to good use.

His first words outline a day in his newly adopted home, Melbourne:

Professed Whitz


Humour is the answer

Just maybe there's hope for me yet:

...scientists have now shown that a good sense of humour is important for women, but not men, in choosing a romantic partner.

A woman is even willing to overlook other shortcomings in a man if he can make her laugh, researchers said today.

"Our results suggest that humour can positively affect desirability as a relationship partner but this effect is most likely to occur when men use humour and are evaluated by women," said Eric Bressler, of Westfield State College in Massachusetts

I'm funny. 'onest luv.

Loony Leunig

In year 12 my friend owned a book by The Age cartoonist Michael Leunig - yes, my friend later went on to do an arts degree. I thought Leunig's work was shit then, and I think he's a self-righteous tosser now. Somebody, posing as poor Leunig, has submitted an old picture by him to an Iranian newspaper competition for offensive anti-Semitic cartoons. Naturally, Leunig called it a 'fraud and hoax'. Fraud, eh Leunig? But you did indeed draw said picture. Not the first time Leunig has been in trouble over his anti-Semitic work.

Now, in typical self-righteous bitch fashion, old Leunig has gone and pulled the God card:

I rose in the solemnity of this grim hour and wandered out into the brilliant moonlight to see if God was out there in the paddock somewhere. Yes, God is there.

I wandered back inside and in a reckless moment I opened the laptop lying on the kitchen table and went to the Iranian website. Lo and behold, the cartoon and the fake words were gone and God came in from the paddock and placed a reassuring hand on my shoulder.

Poor pathetic Leunig. He's the victim of a malicious conspiracy, ya know. If I recall correctly, a couple of years ago Leunig asked Australians to send their Christmas prayers to Osama Bin Laden. Now it would appear Leunig needs all the prayers he can muster.

Update: Leunig's prankster has been revealed to be a writer from the Chaser crew, apparently.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Pop Music and Shite

Occasionally, scientists will establish a fact or make an observation that most people - with half a brain in their head - have already considered as true. Well, now researchers say:

You might think the "best" songs would be the biggest hits. But the fickle tastes of music listeners continue to defy expert predictions--or objective measures of quality. According to new research, that may be largely because of peer pressure

Sociologist Matthew Salganik and his colleagues at Columbia University set out to test the theory that music listeners simply like the music they know other people enjoy.

Wow. No shit, eh? Are you saying people exhibit a heard mentality? One only had to look at JJJ's Hottest 100 to see that. But I dare say this phenomena is not restricted to music tastes alone. Just look at the highest grossing films of all time. And people do the exact same thing with celebrities. I could never work out the 'Drew Barrymore' phenomena in the late 90's. She's orright but nothing special.

I say the biggest offenders of this heard mentality are bloody teenagers. And that, among other things, is why I hate 'em so.

Bloody St Valentine

Just caught a bus with a couple of pimply-faced teenagers pashing away in front of me. Makes me physically ill. I hate this time of year. Don't they know Valentine's is just a scam started by florists and chocolate merchants! Idiots.

This is why I always try to be single around this time of the year. Pretty damn good at it too...

Monday, February 13, 2006

Painful Paradoxes

I smiled at the irony the other day when I called myself a devout atheist. I smiled even more when I informed a mathematician that I had faith there was no God. It reminded me of an allegory in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, a devoted atheist. Adams wrote that the Babel Fish allows everyone to understand each other perfectly and, thus proves the existence of God, however:

"I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing."

"But," says Man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves that You exist, and so therefore, by Your own arguments, You don't. Q.E.D."

"Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.

Ah, the snares of logic. Even the divine fall prey to them. There are plenty more paradoxes in logic and our physical universe, particular in the fuzzy area of time-travel. The grandfather paradox, where you travel back in time and kill your own grandfather, is a famous example. These sort of paradoxes are usually ignored in Hollywood films or downright butchered in episodes of Red Dwarf.

Time-travel paradoxes have had physicists and philosophers alike muddled for years. Recently, one of my old lecturers, Prof David Pegg, wrote an article shedding some light on this area. Pegg, who did his PhD at Oxford in formalising a system to represent the direction of time, proves for simple systems (the travel of light particles) that quantum mechanics only allows retro time-travel with self-consistent loops.

What's a self-consistent loop? Pegg's example: you travel back in time to shoot yourself as a baby. You lift up the gun to shoot your infant self in the heart, but your weak arm drops and you shoot your infant self in the arm causing a life-long injury. Get it? Read the introduction of Pegg's paper a couple of times like I did. So you can only travel back if the loop is self-consistent hence, it causes no paradoxes.

Phew. A couple more paradoxes gone. But there's plenty more. For instance, why did the Big G leave a plethora of physical evidence suggesting that the Earth is 6 billion years old when it's allegedly only 6 thousand*. If you ask me, the Earth was probably made sometime before breakfast this morning and everything else we've simply conjured up to pass the time.

*OK, technically I guess this isn't really a paradox per se but I don't really care.

Happiness in the Wide Bay

Ha! An index to measure the happiness for each Australian electorate. Apparently, the study concludes:

Wide Bay, which takes in the coast of Hervey Bay and the World Heritage-listed Fraser Island, has topped Australia's 150 electorates on the basis of wellbeing and sense of community, according to the first electorate-based national index of wellbeing, compiled by Deakin University

In standard of living, health, achievement in life, personal relationships, sense of safety, connection to the community and future security, the index found Wide Bay came out on top -- despite limping along at the bottom of other surveys that measure employment, income, education and economic strength.

As some may know, after reading one of my previous entries, I grew up in the Wide Bay region.
Mainly families and retirees, I reckon. I bet if I retired and moved to a sunny coastal town, I'd be damn happy too. Did they standardise this test with some sort of age distribution?

Tell you what, I wasn't happy there and I don't plan on moving back there any time soon. Nor do any of my mates.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Country life was so simple

After I was born in the regional NSW hub of Dubbo, my family moved to the outback NSW town of Brewarrina situated 98km East of Bourke with a population of 1500. Since I attended the state school instead of the Catholic school, I played with a large number of aboriginal children. We attended the aboringal museum for a school excursion.

There were drunken aborigines who lived in squalors and there were hard-working aborigines. I don't recall much racism per se. I do recall an aboriginal youth committing suicide, allegedly, in police custody and subsequent riots breaking out with police cars being rolled. A great community atmosphere.

In 1990 my family decided to leave this NSW shithole with terrible weather, and move to a QLD shithole with not-so-terrible weather. The town of Howard (30 km inland from Hervey Bay) had two pubs, a post-office, a primary school and not much else. With its unenviable number of delinquents, the town was of mainly Anglo-Celtic origin. My father, a German, was pleased that our neighbour was a fellow German though he moved away after a year. A year later another German moved next door. My father didn't agree with either of them.

In 1995 I attend high-school in the nearby town of Childers. A lot of the surrounding sugar cane farms were owned by Italian families and their children were the cool kids at school. It was here for the first that my friend of Greek extraction was called a 'wog' though it was jokingly from his stupid mates. I had never heard the term before. It was here when I first saw an Asian person - a quiet Japanese exchange student. For some reason my school friend didn't like Asians at all. I think there was also an Australian-born Indian kid.

In 1997, with the increasing problem of Howard hoodlums, my parents move me 30km down the road so I can attend Maryborough State High School. During this time I first read about Muslims. Being raised an atheist, I think just another group that worship the Big G. I meet for the the first time an Australian Chinese kid.

In 2000 I move to Brisbane to attend university. In college I meet a half Lebanese person. A bit of tosser at times but harmless enough - typical private school boy. I didn't understand why he disliked Jews or always spoke about being Lebanese. I was amazed at the number of Asians and Indians in Brisbane. It seemed to me Sunnybank had more Chinese than Kowloon. Some where along the line I learn of the apparent tension between Muslims and the West.

In 2004 I travel around the world with a friend. We speak to our first Jewish person. I live with Polish people in Ireland. Friendly enough. In 2005 I return to uni to complete my honours year. While tutoring, I speak to my first Australian Jew.

Life used to be so simple. I'm moving to Melbourne in less than three weeks. I think life is just going to get more and more complicated.

Fanatical Fiasco

As a devout atheist, I find a large amount of the recent arguments on religion and spiritual-based morality somewhat entertaining, if not superfluous and tiring at times. Needless to say, I stand here awe-struck at the degree and extent of the uproar around the world that the Danish cartoons have caused.

Free-speech is one thing, but insulting religions is another. The Danish newspapers must have been aware that their little excercise in free-speech would lead to insurmountable levels of trouble. Although I strongly believe the Danish government should not apologise on the behalf of a couple of insignificant Danish rags, one has to ask was it really worth it?

Mind you, had the Danish newspapers published a Holocaust-denial story they may have found themselves in a courtroom. Strangely enough, the ever-shouting champion of free-speech, America, has not had any newspapers publish the cartoons, I believe. However, their flags are still being burnt alongside Danish ones, though we could blame the socilialists of Venezuela for that.

It is a great shame that a large number of Muslims live in undesirable conditions under corrupt dictatorships and oligarchies. Thus they, like the past and present Marxists of Latin America, look towards the West when casting the blame for their miserable states. A lack of money isn't the only issue however, as Princeton University economist Alan B. Krueger discusses:

...countries like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, which have spawned relatively many terrorists, are economically well off yet lacking in civil liberties. Poor countries with a tradition of protecting civil liberties are unlikely to spawn suicide terrorists. Evidently, the freedom to assemble and protest peacefully without interference from the government goes a long way to providing an alternative to terrorism.

To back this up, one doesn't have to look far to see that a large number of terrorist leaders, both past and present, have been well-educated (often in the West) and from middle-class families (examples: a son of a lawyer, a doctor, a Rolex-wearing doctor, an engineer and a PhD in engineering).

One can argue the Muslim protests were inevitable with such high levels of tension. Regardless, it shows that economic liberalism and wealth isn't the only thing that the Muslim world needs. Also, I'd be selling any Danish company shares you may have.

Update I: I've been informed that the cartoons were published months ago in an Egyptian paper with no riots, and it has been the Imans of late stirring shit, so to speak.

Update II: An interesting piece in The Economist which somewhat echoes my sentiments with these words:

It is not a good idea for newspapers to insult people's religious or any other beliefs just for the sake of it. But that is and should be their own decision, not a decision for governments, clerics or other self-appointed arbiters of taste and responsibility. In a free country people should be free to publish whatever they want within the limits set by law.

Update III: The odd American paper has published the cartoons.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Conference in Mansfield (Victoria)

I just returned from a 5-day ANZIAM (Australian and New Zealand Applied and Industrial Mathematics) conference. Free accommodation, drinks and food. Not too shabby. Looking forward to being a PhD student.

I saw a wide range of good presentations in interesting areas such as modelling normadic people migration and calcium-concentration cycles in the human body.

Now I have to start organising my move to Melbourne.

Saturday, February 04, 2006


I have a tiny hangover right now and it ain't pretty. The scary thing is after some greasy food and an afternoon nap, I'd probably be able to do it all again.

Blast my alcoholic Teutonic genes.

Maybe I'll add something later. Something about petrol and oil me thinks.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Scams from Africa

I can't work out if these people are incredibly stupid or just very greedy AND stupid:

Police are staggered by the amount of money gullible Australians are losing to Nigerian investment scammers.

The long-running internet-based rort has netted more than $7 million from Queenslanders alone, and the loss Australia-wide is likely to be far higher, police say.

Among those being duped are financial advisers, lawyers and university professors, and one person had put $2.2 million into the hands of scammers over the past two years.
But the Queensland victims were only "the tip of the iceberg", Inspector Hay said.

Detective Superintendant Dyson said: "People tend not to report these crimes because for one reason or another they still believe the money is still coming through. There are times we have difficulty persuading them they are a victim."

Wow. Wish I had $2.2 million to squander. Sounds like a job for Scam Watch.

Update: Third Annual Nigerian EMail Conference for those interested in starting up a new career.

Sea Sheperd

As I have made clear in a previous post, I loathe Greenpeace, but Sea Sheperd are definitely a bigger, scarier bunch of nutters:

We’re not a protest organization, we’re a policing organization,” Paul Watson has said of his Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS). A pirate organization is more like it. Sporting the skull and crossbones, his black or battleship-gray ships sail menacingly through the waves. They are painted with the names of the boats Watson has rammed and sunk.

The ships are fitted with water cannons, a concrete-filled bow made for ramming, and an attachment dubbed the “can opener” that can tear open a boat’s hull. In his book Earth Warrior, David Morris writes that Watson wears a long bowie knife at his side and carries AK-47s on board. He blasts Richard Wagner’s rousing “Ride of the Valkyries” to herald his arrival and terrify his victims.

How very Apolcalypse Now. I thought playing music to scare the enemy was a thing reserved for crazed militants. Good to see there's nutjobs on both sides of the polictical spectrum.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Might've Guessed...

Supposedly, a large number of Norfolk Island inhabitants are descended from the Bounty muntineers. And as we all know, the deepest circle of hell is reserved for betrayers and mutineers. A wave of shock struck this Australian territory four years ago when a female resident was murdered - the first recorded murder on the island in 150 years. Who was the offender of this crime? Well, a bloody Kiwi, of course:

A man has been arrested over the murder of Sydney woman Janelle Patton on Norfolk Island, federal police said today.

The 28-year-old New Zealand man was arrested at a home near the town of Nelson, on the New Zealand South Island this afternoon, almost four years after Ms Patton's body was found on Norfolk Island.

I've been told that Kiwis over represent themselves in Australian prisons. And they call us convicts?

Mayor of Melbourne

Speaking of immigration, I was in some disbelief when my mate in Melbourne informed me that their - soon to be my - mayor had a thick Chinese accent. According to Wiki:

Mayor John Chun Sai So was born in Hong Kong, and moved to Melbourne at age 17. His mother later joined him, but he still has brothers in Hong Kong.

So has tertiary qualifications in education and science from the University of Melbourne. During his time at university, he campaigned strongly against the White Australia Policy and helped found the University's Overseas and Chinese Students Association. Afterwards, he became a high school science teacher, working at Fitzroy High School. He has been a restaurant proprietor since 1973.

So has also been criticised from a number of sectors over his time as mayor. Some see him as a poor communicator, partly due to his heavily accented English.

Only in Australia. Hilarious. As I read on, I nearly pissed myself in laughter when I discovered:

In 2002, he snubbed the Dalai Lama during his Australian visit, and it was left to Geelong mayor Barbara Abley to welcome him.

Even though So's family comes from the slightly more democratic Hong Kong SAR, those Chinese roots definitely die hard, eh?