Sunday, April 30, 2006
When Scotland inevitably don't make it to the finals of major football competitions as they do in recent years, the quandry is who to support. There is a concerted effort to get the Scots to get behind the Auld Enemy, but at a very basic level, it is just not possible. The anglocentric BBC has compounded this discomfort by choosing as a theme tune for their World Cup coverage, a piece of music composed by Handel, to honour the Butcher of Cumberland, overseer of one of the great humiliations in Scottish history. At Culloden in 1746, he and 5,000 like minded souls tromped and slaughtered 1,000 of Bonnie Prince Charlies faithful supporters. That particular battle was really about religion, but it really sticks in the craw of most Scots. Anyway I think that most Scots would rather support Trinidad and Tobago than to get behind the English Football Team. At least they have Scotland on their side.
Saturday, April 29, 2006
There is a certain odd symnetry to Mark Cosgrove's season. He started the season on probation after coming home from English Pub Cricket having consumed too many steak pies and a few too many beers. He was put on a diet for the first month of the season and told to lose weight or lose his contract with the South Australian Cricket Association. When he did this, he became the ING Cup one day player of the year and in his Australian debut in the last match of the season he made the third highest debut score (74) ever in a one day international. Nothing like adversity leading to motivation and success. And now for the rest of the news.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Duke, a Jack Russell terrier, survived for two weeks under the bonnet of a car as owner Tom Whitney of Worcestershire drove 1300 kilometres looking for his missing dog. The dog chewed through the clutch cable, making it inoperable, and the owner opened the bonnet.
I can imagine this happening to Spotty. One day he went missing and Hannah and I searched everywhere for him, shouting "Spotty, Spotty". We called the RSPCA and the Animal Welfare League. His case was logged and we sat down to wait. Hannah drew lost dog posters and we were putting them up. Hannah was getting desperate. I went out to the car to get something and there he was fast asleep. He is always the first out when we come back, but for some reason he didn't get out. Happy Spotty! Happy Happy Hannah! It also reminds me of a sad story from Utah where four or five kids were playing hide and seek and they ended up locking themselves in the car boot. Mum came out to look for them and not finding them, she drove around the neighbourhood. When they were eventually found they were all well dead. We are very careful with our kids playing in the car. It is VERBOTEN.
A British man fed up with cars speeding in his village erected a replica speed camera made with plastic board and tape. "It has had a 100 per cent success rate so far," said a delighted Gordon Crosbie.
I have seriously considered doing this on our street, where the occasional hoon driver does speedy burnouts.
"Loktantra" is the word shaved into the mans head. The Nepali language used "Prajatantra" to mean "democracy". "Praja" means "subjects" (of a King or monarch), so "Prajatantra" actually means "the rule of subjects", which obviously is unsatisfactory. So the new term "Loktantra" was coined. "Lok" means "folk" - so "Loktantra" would be full democracy, as opposed to a half-hearted version.
I lived in Kathmandu about ten years ago. I hope these people get what they want. The king seems to be a wacko and Nepalese politicians are some of the most corrupt in the world.
Sunday, April 23, 2006
This weekend has been a challenge, with both the microwave and the oven going down at the same time. My plan was to make lasagna today and I had just about given up, when I realised that it was a nice Autumn day and the Weber would do it nicely. Onwards.
An interesting way of looking at the world in different ways rather than the traditional geographic projections is to use clever computing and statistics to present data spatially, but also visually. Here you see the impact of changing the size of countries by total population. More here.
State of the Village Report
If the world were a village of 1000 people:
584 would be Asians
123 would be Africans
95 would be East and West Europeans
84 Latin Americans
55 Soviets (still including for the moment Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians, etc.)
52 North Americans
6 Australians and New Zealanders
The people of the village would have considerable difficulty communicating:
165 people would speak Mandarin
86 would speak English
That list accounts for the mother-tongues of only half the villagers. The other half speak (in descending order of frequency) Bengali, Portuguese, Indonesian, Japanese, German, French, and 200 other languages.
In the village there would be:
300 Christians (183 Catholics, 84 Protestants, 33 Orthodox)
210 all other religons (including atheists)
One-third (330) of the people in the village would be children. Half the children would be immunized against the preventable infectious diseases such as measles and polio.
Sixty of the thousand villagers would be over the age of 65.
Just under half of the married women would have access to and be using modern contraceptives.
Each year 28 babies would be born.
Each year 10 people would die, three of them for lack of food, one from cancer. Two of the deaths would be to babies born within the year.
One person in the village would be infected with the HIV virus; that person would most likely not yet have developed a full-blown case of AIDS.
With the 28 births and 10 deaths, the population of the village in the next year would be 1018.
In this thousand-person community, 200 people would receive three-fourths of the income; another 200 would receive only 2% of the income.
Only 70 people would own an automobile (some of them more than one automobile).
About one-third would not have access to clean, safe drinking water.
Of the 670 adults in the village half would be illiterate.
The village would have 6 acres of land per person, 6000 acres in all of which:
700 acres is cropland
1400 acres pasture
1900 acres woodland
2000 acres desert, tundra, pavement, and other wasteland.
The woodland would be declining rapidly; the wasteland increasing; the other land categories would be roughly stable. The village would allocate 83 percent of its fertilizer to 40 percent of its cropland -- that owned by the richest and best-fed 270 people. Excess fertilizer running off this land would cause pollution in lakes and wells. The remaining 60 percent of the land, with its 17 percent of the fertilizer, would produce 28 percent of the foodgrain and feed 73 percent of the people. The average grain yield on that land would be one-third the yields gotten by the richer villagers.
If the world were a village of 1000 persons, there would be five soldiers, seven teachers, one doctor. Of the village's total annual expenditures of just over $3 million per year, $181,000 would go for weapons and warfare, $159,000 for education, $132,000 for health care.
The village would have buried beneath it enough explosive power in nuclear weapons to blow itself to smithereens many times over. These weapons would be under the control of just 100 of the people. The other 900 people would be watching them with deep anxiety, wondering whether the 100 can learn to get along together, and if they do, whether they might set off the weapons anyway through inattention or technical bungling, and if they ever decide to dismantle the weapons, where in the village they will dispose of the dangerous radioactive materials of which the weapons are made.
(Donella H. Meadows is an adjunct professor of environmental studies at Dartmouth College.)Copyright Sustainability Institute
Early in my post school years, I spent a year at Aberdeen University, the coldest place on the planet (outside Siberia). I got interested in Shinty (or Camanachd in Gaelic), never having played it. The Aberdeen University Shinty Club is the oldest Shinty Club, dating back to 1861. I played hockey at school, but nothing I learned there was much use in Shinty. My limited golf swing was more helpful. I spent a very drunken weekend with the team as they went to Newtonmore to play and bar hop back to Aberdeen.
Go to the nearest internet location, presumably you have it in your car, mobile phone or your Blackberry and log in to the Australian Government National Toilet Map. You can search by post code and even call a friendly helpline and plot your trip on Google Earth. Apparently there are over 15,000 public toilets in Australia, along with 17,000,000 trees. I checked out our post code and unfortunately nothing (despite the fact that there is one in our local park, heavily used by junkies). I'll just have to go behind a tree.
My brother Neil is running this race. Sounds nuts. Essentially the object is simple, you start at Milngavie Railway Station
(7 miles north of Glasgow) at 1am on 24th June & run/jog/walk to Fort
William Leisure Centre by noon on the 25th June, 35 hours to cover 153km
(95 miles) including 3543m (11624ft) of ascent. Along the way you pass
through checkpoints within time limits. It's all for a good cause, to raise money for the British Lung Foundation.
Saturday, April 22, 2006
Excessive eating - not a lack of exercise - is behind childhood obesity, a groundbreaking study shows.
It is the first conclusive evidence behind the spiralling trend, challenging the federal government's refusal to restrict food advertising aimed at children, Fairfax newspapers report.
The study of 5,407 students from 90 public schools in NSW, commissioned by the state government, contradicts the "urban myth" that children are increasingly inactive and hooked on sedentary pastimes, the newspapers say.
They are exercising much harder than in the 1990s, and yet still stack on more weight.
Michael Booth, the University of Sydney doctor who conducted the statewide survey, found 23 per cent of girls and 26 per cent of boys were overweight or obese in 2004 - up from 20 to 21 per cent in 1997.
But the children, aged four to 16, were exercising harder.
More than 80 per cent in years 6 to 8 were adequately physically active - spending at least an hour a day in moderate or vigorous activity - compared with less than 60 per cent in 1997.
"This flies in the face of what I think was an urban myth that children were inactive," said Dr Booth, who was so surprised that he ordered a recalculation.
"Like everyone else, I believed the urban myth."
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Spotty has had to adjust to all the new animals that we get in the house. He gets very jelous. He learned to coexist with the chickens and the ducks. In that case, he started off as the boss and ended up being chased out of town if he deigned to even eat his own food by bossy Mr Duck. The chickens only chased him if he came too close. Now with the scary kitten, he has already given up. He is very interested in the little quail at the bottom of the bird cage, but there is no real conflict. He used to be interested in the budgies, but he ignores them now. Now his main form of aggression is to bark at other dogs and people coming in (before he jumps up and begs for loving). We still love you Spottmeister.
I have been more surprised, but not much. We adopted a stray kitten yesterday. The rest of the family found it on the way back from the video store It was full of burrs and very hungry and desperate for a family. It already has a healthy contempt for the dog, hissing and scratching if it gets too close. So a vet check and $100 later we have a new family member. Welcome (JJ, Cutie, Sausage, Possum....). You know what it is like to choose a name for an animal when you have kids.