Saturday, January 30, 2010
A 1925 Bugatti that had languished in the depths of a Swiss lake for more than 70 years made waves when it surfaced at auction in Paris.
The 1,500cc four-cylinder Type 22 two-seater sold for a staggering £227,000 on January 23, far more than a fully restored car would be worth. Auctioneer Bonhams had only expected the fabulous, rusty relic to fetch £50,000 to £80,000.
Friday, January 29, 2010
AUSTRALIANS are the worst sinners in the world, British researchers have decided.
In a study of 35 countries, Australians come up as the most likely to commit one of the biblical seven deadly sins.
An article in the February edition of Focus, a UK magazine produced by the BBC, states Australians rank first for envy and third for lust and gluttony.
The authors used a points system to determine which countries committed the seven deadly sins - lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride - the most.
They measured a nation's tendency towards being sloths, for example, by looking at the number of days they took off work. When a country finished first in a category it was awarded 10 points. A second placing gathered nine points, and so on for all placings in the top 10.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
“Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.”
Now that we have that out of the way, it is Australia Day today.
Happy Australia Day.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Friday, January 22, 2010
Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow
of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hath
borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how
abhorred in my imagination it is! my gorge rims at
it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know
not how oft. Where be your gibes now? your
gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment,
that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one
now, to mock your own grinning? quite chap-fallen?
Now get you to my lady's chamber, and tell her, let
her paint an inch thick, to this favour she must
come; make her laugh at that.
Cricket Australia's decision to nominate John Howard as its candidate for the top job at the International Cricket Council is as pitiful as it is disrespectful. Howard's knowledge of cricket is more characterised by enthusiasm than depth or imagination. Plain and simple he is not qualified for the job.
Moreover, the way in which he has been plucked from the sidelines shows Cricket Australia in the worst possible light. Rather than recommending a retired politician, no matter how eminent, Cricket Australia ought to be getting behind the splendid candidate suggested by its counterpart and former war ally across the Tasman. Instead it stands accused on intransigence.
Not that the ICC is the model of a powerful organisation. Interesting times.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Taken by NASA and the European Space Agency's Mars Express Orbiter, the picture is from a collection showing vast sand dunes and icy landscapes on the surface of the red planet.
Australian National University associate professor of astronomy Charley Lineweaver said the sand dunes were extremely steep, and the "tree-like" shapes were simply gullies running down the slopes.
"It looks like trees standing up but it's really an optical illusion because you can't tell the steepness of the slopes," he said.
But today, in one of Scotland's most bizarre property deals, the manmade crater is being put on the market – with a bargain price of only £30,000.
The seller, Bixen, an overseas-based company, is hoping the new purchasers will be able to turn the disused quarry into a tourist attraction or a leisure facility.
But yesterday, local property expert John MacRae, chairman of the Aberdeen Solicitors' Property Centre, said: "I take my hat off to whoever owns the quarry and is thinking they can sell it. I am very sorry to say that I think the appeal of this site is very limited."
Sir Tim Berners-Lee said data.gov.uk will offer reams of public sector statistics including fake road works, actual crime figures and the the number of times some fat-arsed, overpaid, local authority socialist can't be bothered to do his fucking job.
He added: "The precise reason why Britain is such an unspeakably ghastly and unbearable shithole where nothing works has eluded science for many years.
"This project will allow anyone with a computer to analyse the data and identify patterns in the ghastly shittiness, until we can finally point at something and say 'yes, that's it!'"
As usual pretty close to the truth.
What isn’t in dispute is the fact he was heavily depressed, a condition in part triggered by the failure of his music career. Despite being signed to Island records straight out of Cambridge University as an English version of the then hugely successful Leonard Cohen, Drake’s three albums received negative reviews and sold only a few thousand copies.
Yet, three and a half decades later, Nick Drake is one of the most beloved English singers of all time. There have been numerous books and TV specials about him, his final album, Pink Moon, has posthumously gone platinum, and, as Green Gartside, lead singer of Scritti Politti puts it, “every indie band in America lists Nick Drake as an influence”.
When Hollywood is looking for an atmospheric and introspective piece of music for a film, a call will go out for a Nick Drake song. Countless cover versions by everyone from Norah Jones and Lucinda Williams to the jazz piano tunes of Brad Mehldau have been made.
At least one musician, Keith James, has made a career of performing Nick Drake covers. “I could work every night of the year singing Nick’s songs if I wanted to,” he says. Drake’s producer from the time, Joe Boyd, says: “Each year there is apparently more interest and more sales.”
Symptomatic of his increasing popularity is a tour curated by Boyd as a tribute to Drake’s work. It features a stellar cast, including Danny Thompson (who played bass on Drake’s first album, Five Leaves Left), Green Gartside, Teddy Thomson, Martha Wainwright, Robin Hitchcock (who has recorded a song I Saw Nick Drake) and the highly-rated young American singer Krystle Warren – all of whom revere Drake’s music intensely. The Barbican date in London has already sold out.
So how did Drake, an obscure footnote in English music when he died, reach such levels of posthumous admiration? Why he never had much success when he was alive is a slightly easier question.
Unlike Leonard Cohen, who had a network of college stations to promote him in the States, British musicians in the Seventies had to rely on live performances. Unfortunately, Drake was painfully shy. Danny Thompson recalls: “Unlike others on the folk circuit, such as John Martyn, he had no stage patter or anecdotes. He would spend ages tuning his guitar between songs.”
After a tour in 1970 on which he was third on the bill below Billy Connolly, Drake abandoned live performance completely.
In the whole of his career, he managed only one interview – with Jerry Gilbert of Sounds. It didn’t go well. Gilbert recalls: “There was no eye contact, lots of mumbling, and he spoke in a monotone.”
Danny Thompson recalls Drake during the recording of Five Leaves Left as being “a lot of fun at times”, but later, as Drake became more depressed, Thompson, along with everyone else, found Drake increasingly difficult to deal with. “I tried patronising him, tried to kick him up the backside, but it was impossible to get through to him. I had a few months of being depressed myself, and you do become selfish. It’s draining to be around you.”
Yet it is Drake’s disastrous career and personal problems combined with the incredible potency of his sparse, beautiful music that have made him such an icon for later generations of musicians.
Green Gartside, one of the few who latched on to Drake’s music in the Seventies admits: “I was sniffy about him for a while because of his privileged background, quite irrationally.” But he says he felt connected with Drake through his own experience of stage fright, depression and alienation in the music industry.
Drake has also found a strong resonance with younger singers like Krystle Warren, who discovered him, like millions of Americans, after Volkwagen used Pink Moon in a commercial in 2000. “I was astonished,” she says, “by the vulnerability, the sense of truth in his songs.”
Following the release of her first album last year, Warren relates to the difficulties of, “promoting yourself but remaining true to yourself”. She admires the fact that, unlike many artists, Drake never turned into a parody of himself. She believes that his lack of success during his lifetime means he is not associated with the Sixties or Seventies. “His music has become timeless,” she says.
Danny Thompson, who also played bass on John Martyn’s classic Solid Air, which is about Drake, says: “Ultimately, it’s the real beauty of his music that draws people in and his stunning guitar playing, which was so clean.”
But Thompson also recognises that Drake’s tragically short life gives him a glamorous allure. There are, he points out, no videos of Drake, which “makes people use their imagination” about him, and he believes that, without the powerful mystique that came to surround him after he died, he might not have
It won’t protect children: The filter isn’t a “cyber safety” measure to stop kids seeing inappropriate content such as R and X rated websites. It is not even designed to prevent the spread of illegal material where it is most often found (chat rooms, peer-to-peer file sharing).
We will all pay for this ineffective solution: Under this policy, ISPs will be forced to charge more for consumer and business broadband. Several hundred thousand dollars has already been spent to test the filter – without considering high-speed services such as the National Broadband Network!
A dangerous precedent: We stand to join a small club of countries which impose centralised Internet censorship such as China, Iran and Saudi Arabia. The secret blacklist may be limited to “Refused Classification” content for now, but what might a future Australian Government choose to block?
Help turn the lights out on the proposed Internet filter by joining the Great Australian Internet Blackout.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
But that reckons without our health and safety culture. So the Grand Match is off:
The sport's governing body, the Royal Caledonian Curling Club, said in a statement it was greatly disappointed the match could not go ahead.
The club said the decision had been made after "extensive discussions" with the emergency services.
The statement added: "It has not proved possible to address all health and safety concerns and receive the full backing of the emergency services within the timescales involved.
"Without achieving this it would be impossible to gain the necessary insurance to hold the event. Every possible effort has been made to facilitate this unique event but it has been acknowledged that public safety must remain the primary concern."
[...]Central Scotland Police, who were involved in the negotiations, said they had a number of "serious concerns" about the proposed bonspiel.
Supt Davie Flynn said: "We understand the attraction of such an event and recognise this is an unique opportunity for people passionate about their sport to participate in. However, there are clear and obvious risks and the safety of the public could not be guaranteed."
So, rather than help this great and traditional occasion take place, the police have, it seems, done their best to make sure it doesn't happen while also preventing individuals from exercising their own judgement and taking their own decisions.
Great for soluble fibre (the type that helps to lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels), baked beans also give you 6g of protein per average serving; about the same as in a medium-size egg. Have them on toast, with a baked potato or, if you absolutely must, straight from the can.
Swap a couple of cups of your builder’s brew a day for green tea. Especially rich in polyphenols, green tea antioxidants have antibacterial and antithrombotic roles, and regulate the immune system. The lazy man’s solution to boosting antioxidants, which may also help to fight tooth decay.
Fling fresh sardines under the grill, or have them from a can; either way, like mackerel, salmon and anchovies, they are great for omega-3 oils, which seem to make platelets in the blood less likely to clump together and cause a clot.
For many McLaren, who died in his beloved town of Hawick, in the Scottish borders, provided the ultimate rugby template. The standards of behaviour and sportsmanship that he expected from a game that can occasionally tread on the wild side, are the standards to which we should all aspire.
His was the friendly, schoolmasterly voice that became synonymous with toasted crumpets and Sunday evening around the coal fire watching Rugby Special. We have badly missed him since he retired in 2002 and that loss will only be accentuated now.
McLaren’s genius was both as a brilliant, intuitive wordsmith and an individual who, through tragic circumstance, had learnt to put life in proportion.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
The term "Cougar" has been coined for sexually aggressive older women on the hunt for younger men, with actress Courteney Cox recently starring in TV comedy "Cougar Town".
But rape prevention charities and women's rights groups have branded the online campaign offensive and sexist.
New Zealand's Rape Prevention Education said it was appalling, disgusting and degrading.
"We have also had complaints from male survivors who have been raped by women and they are very distressed that their situation is being laughed at and made out to be humorous," said director Kim McGregor.
- »Stepping feet« illusion 1 – strong, beautiful and (relatively) easy to understand
- Motion Induced Blindness – an illusion of disappearing dots
- Stereokinetic Phenomenon – an optical illusion of 3D from motion (aka »kinetic depth effect«)
- »Rotating Snake« Illusion – with a new explanatory twist
- Snake ad lib – optimising this motion illusion
- Pinna-Brelstaff Illusion
- Motion Aftereffect – also known as »waterfall effect«
- Spiral Motion Aftereffect – more effective for some
- Roget's Palisade Illusion
- Spoke Illusion – a motion illusion + an unexpected (?) aftereffect
- Wagon-wheel effect – closely related to stroboscopic artifacts
- Stroboscopic Artifacts – making a teaching point out of a nuisance
- Sigma Motion – an optical illusion due to an interaction of image dynamics and eye movements
- Eye Jitter – more on eye movements, involuntary ones
- Biological Motion – for me the most beautiful class of visual illusions
- Flash-lag Effect – moving and stationary objects perceived at different times
- Ramp Aftereffect – an aftereffect in time
- Enigma by Isia Leviant
- Freezing Rotation Illusion – a “Best Illusion of the Year” winner
- Reverse Phi Motion – something for the specialist
- »Stepping feet« illusion 2 – radial version of »Stepping feet 1«, weaker
- Motion-Bounce Illusion – sound influencing perception of motion (crossmodally)
- Motion Binding
- Breathing Square
- Missing-fundamental motion inversio
- Frequency-doubling illusion
- »Kaleidoscope Motion« Illusion
- Ternus Display
- Stroboscopic alternative motion
Luminance & Contrast
- Hermann’s Grid – fleeting luminance illusions
- Hermann’s Grid bent – a new twist, refuting the classical explanation
- Scintillating Grid – strong fleeting luminance illusions
- Induced grating – classical brightness contrast
- Shaded-diamond illusion – more brightness contrast
- Craik-O’Brien-Cornsweet – collaboration of retina & cortex
- Wertheimer-Koffka-Ring – pitting Gestalt vs. lateral inhibition
- Simultaneous Contrast – here dynamic
- Pyramid Illusion – Vasarely revealed
- Munker-White Illusion – contrary to lateral inhibition
- Adelson’s »Corrugated Plaid« – context affecting brightness
- Adelson’s »Checker Shadow« illusion – more context affecting brightness
- Contrast Constancy – demonstrating space-average-based contrast gain control
- Contrast Gain Control – demonstrating temporal contrast gain control
- Lazy Shadow – Interaction of luminance & time
- Visual Acuity ↔ Hyperacuity
- »Lilac Chaser« – a rapid aftereffect, colours move which aren't really there
- Benham’s Top – colour from spatio-temporal patterns
- Neon Colour Spreading
- Structure from motion – fails at equiluminance
- Gestalt loss in equilumance
- Colour mixing – additive and multiplicative
Geometric- & Angle Illusions
- Hering Illusion – and other angular interactions
- Poggendorff Illusion – a classical geometric optical illusion with a new twist
- Fraser’s Spiral
- »Café Wall« Illusion
- Triangle Puzzle – a puzzle, but an illusion too
- Checker Bulge
Space, 3D & Size Constancy
- Müller-Lyer Illusion – test your bisection accuracy
- Moon illusion
- Sine Illusion
- Luminance Looming
- Shepard’s “Turning the Tables”
- Shepard’s “Subterranean Terror”
- Reverspective – reverse perspective
- Necker Cube – the mother of reversible figures
- Missing Corner Cube – a cube with multiple ambiguities
- Ambiguous Sillouette Illusion
- Frankfurter Illusion – binocular rivalry & supression
- Darwin Illusion – the afterimage creates a recognisable Gestalt
- Blur & picture content – spatial filtering (or high frequency masking)
- Hidden message – blur & figure-ground discrimination
- Kanizsa’s Triangle – depends on context
- Blotted letters – Gestalt completion
- Hidden Figures – Dalmatian Dog with 2 helpers
- Hidden Bird – more camouflage
- Rotation – changes the interpretation
- Impossible Objects – draw your own impossible object
- Hallucii – An “impossible” Movie
Stan & Ollie – face adaption -->
- Rotating face mask – hollow faces
- Find the Face (in the Beans) – a picture puzzle
- The face on Mars – imaginations of perception
- The »Thatcher Illusion« – inverted faces lose their emotional message
- »Ghostly Gaze« Illusion
- Dr. Angry and Mr. Smile – two messages in two spatial frequency bands
The Lincoln Effect
Scots were also among the pioneers in collecting and preserving materials to illustrate the progress of humanity that, by the time of the Enlightenment in the 18th century, they believed had taken place. They had themselves, after all, gone in a couple of generations from cutting throats in the Highlands and burning witches in the Lowlands to gracious living in the New Town of Edinburgh and mechanising labour at New Lanark. They wanted to mark the change and preserve the memory of it for future generations. This is why Scotland has some of the best museums and art galleries in the world.
by William McGonagall
Beautiful Loch Ness,
The truth to express,
Your landscapes are lovely and gay,
Along each side of your waters, to Fort Augustus all the way,
Your scenery is romantic...
With rocks and hills gigantic...
Enough to make one frantic,
As they view thy beautiful heathery hills,
And their clear crystal rills,
And the beautiful woodlands so green,
On a fine summer day...
From Inverneaa all the way...
Where the deer and the doe together doth play;
And the beautiful Falls of Foyers with its cystal spray,
As clear as the day,
Enchanting and gay,
To the traveller as he gazes thereon,
That he feels amazed with delight,
To see the water falling from such a height,
That his heed feels giddy with the scene,
As he views the Falls of Foyers and the woodlands so green,
That he exclaims in an ecstasy of delight -
Oh, beautiful Loch Ness!
I must sincerely confess,
That you are the most beautiful to behold,
With your lovely landscapes and water so cold.
And as he turns from the scene, he says with a sigh-
Oh, beautiful Loch Ness! I must bid you good-bye.
Monday, January 18, 2010
A bishop has condemned Buckfast, the fortified wine made by monks and regarded by some as the scourge of Scotland. The Right Rev Bob Gillies, Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney in the Scottish Episcopal Church, accused the Devon-based Benedictine monks of betraying Christian values.
Bishop Gillies is the first senior clergyman to criticise the monks of Buckfast Abbey, who have always claimed they are not responsible for the antisocial behaviour that results from the widespread abuse of their product.
Speaking on BBC Scotland Investigates, to be broadcast tonight, Bishop Gillies said: “What sort of moral double-take is there that these monks can be so closely associated with that product and knowingly aware of the social damage as well as the medical damage it is doing to the kids who take it in such vast volumes?”
He added: “The monks at Buckfast are in a Benedictine monastery, which is founded upon the rule of St Benedict. Benedict urged his monks to live a simple life following a rule that leads them into closer discipleship with the Lord.
The recipe is attributed to the original French monks who settled at the Devon abbey in the 1880s. They mixed imported base wines from Spain, known as mistellas, with tonic ingredients, a process that has changed little to this day
A 75cl bottle of “Buckie” has 15 per cent alcohol by volume, contains many times the amount of caffeine found in a can of Coca-Cola and costs from £5.49. The drink is also available in 35cl and 1 litre containers
More than half of all Buckfast is consumed in Scotland. Dubbed the “Buckfast belt”, Lanarkshire has the highest sales (believed to be in the region of 10 per cent) where the drink is known as Coatbridge table wine, referring to the Scottish town in which Buckfast is so popular. Several establishments offer the drink on tap
It is estimated that Scots spend more than £50,000 a day on the drink, which has total sales of around £37 million a year
54 per cent of “dangerous litter” found on Scottish housing estates is broken Buckfast bottles according to research by Glasgow Caledonian and Dundee universities
The drink has a range of nicknames including Wreck the Hoose Juice, Mrs Brown, Commotion Lotion, Bottle of fight the world, Bottle of beat the wife, Liquid speed and Scranjuice. The comic creation Rab C. Nesbitt was so fond of Buckie that in one episode he travelled the length of Britain to visit Buckfast Abbey
There are more than 200 groups dedicated to Buckfast on Facebook.
Buckfast in the Republic of Ireland has slightly lower alcohol content and is sold in a brown bottle rather than the green bottle found in the UK
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Friday, January 15, 2010
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Pat Robertson Responds to Haiti Earthquake in Way That Probably Even Makes Pat Robertson Sick | Indecision Forever | Comedy Central
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
IF you look at a map of southeast NSW where grazier John Alcock and his children run three properties on the edge of the Snowy Mountains, you'll see that national parks and state forests cover at least the same area as private grazing country.Out of the national parks come mobs of kangaroos that know their way into Alcock's drought-hit land when he plants improved pasture and fodder crops for cattle and fine-wool Merinos.
"Good heavens, if we sow something, they just invade us," Alcock tells The Australian.
"Kangaroos will travel for miles to get a crop."
Some culling of kangaroos is permitted on some private grazing land. But shooters are not allowed into the parks and park authorities do not allow any kangaroo harvesting.
The kangaroo situation does not make Alcock and many other graziers particularly well-inclined towards those in the climate change debate who brand their sheep and cattle as villains in global warming.
Ruminant livestock account for about 11 per cent of Australia's greenhouse emissions.Start of sidebar. Skip to end of sidebar.
Related CoverageEnd of sidebar. Return to start of sidebar.
There is not much dispute about the science.
It shows that ruminants, particularly cattle, are belching greenhouse gas factories. They stew up and ferment fodder in their four stomachs as they chew their cud, absorb the nutrition, and expel methane (mostly out the front end, not the back).
As a result, the more aggressive advocates for reduced greenhouse emissions have cattle and other ruminant livestock squarely in their sights.
But for graziers on the Monaro in southeast NSW, there is a certain lack of fairness in gunning for cattle while protecting the rights of kangaroos to hop out of the parks, eat improved pasture, and hop back to digest it and emit the residue into the atmosphere under the protection of park rangers.
For Alcock, it is particularly annoying to watch this process considering that while they are smaller than cattle, kangaroos are nonetheless large animals, and there are a lot more of them than cattle: about 34 million just in the rangeland grazing areas, where the federal government keeps track of them to set harvesting quotas.
Alcock says if there is to be some sort of regime to apply financial sanctions for greenhouse emissions of livestock, it should apply equally.
The national parks, says Alcock, should face the same sanctions for the emissions of their animals, including wombats, koalas and pygmy possums.
"If they are going to do it for one, they should do it for both," according to Alcock.
It's an intriguing aspect of the greenhouse debate. To draw on George Orwell's Animal Farm, are all animals equal? Or are some more equal than others because they are cuddly native animals and therefore higher up the social value scale than introduced livestock? Or do some animals have less of a right to exist because they were born with big greenhouse gas-emitting digestive systems?
John Cobb, a NSW Nationals federal MP who is the Coalition's agriculture spokesman, thinks that if there is one animal that should be eliminated in the interests of saving the planet, it's the feral camel. There are an estimated one million feral camels in Australia, and Cobb challenges Kevin Rudd to get rid of them.
"I don't hate camels," Cobb says. "But it's not a native animal, it's a feral animal."
Cobb, who comes from a farming family, says everyone on one side of the debate "hates cattle - all the greenies say how they're making for the end of the world". But, he says, camels per head are much more damaging to the environment. "Camels are a ruminant, like sheep, cattle, goats.
"A camel puts out just shy of a tonne of carbon a year and a cow about 1.3 tonnes, but I bet if you put the camels on to the better tucker that the cows enjoy, they would be just as effusive."
What's more, says Cobb, camels also degrade the environment by grazing out and damaging land, thereby reducing agricultural productivity. Cobb commissioned research that found eliminating feral camels would reduce Australia's carbon emissions by more than the equivalent of taking 300,000 cars off the road.
The greenies, Cobb says, "just have to get over it" when it comes to cattle, and accept that Australia's 25 million national herd is nothing compared with the 250 million in India.
Another aspect of Cobb's view of the animal world is that he would have no problem removing some of the kangaroos in national parks. Park authorities, he says, allow overpopulation to erode the roo's health and encourage them to pillage the paddocks of the "poor old cockies".
But veterinary scientist and zoologist George Wilson says if graziers used a bit of lateral thinking and the government provided incentives, they would come to see kangaroos as their new best friend, and environmental and financial saviour.
Wilson, who is head of Canberra-based consultancy group Australian Wildlife Services and an associate staff member of the Institute of Environmental Studies at the University of NSW, says the starting point should be the science. Different types of animals, he says, have digestive systems that are not only bigger or smaller than each other's, but work in fundamentally different ways so that they produce very different types and quantities of emissions.
Cattle have stomachs working on about 40 litres of a spicy digestive brew containing a particular range of micro-organisms that do the specific biochemical job that suits them.
"In that process, cattle belch large amounts of methane," Wilson says.
Kangaroos, by contrast, are "non-ruminant forestomach fermenters". While cattle have digestive systems known as single-stirred tank reactors, kangaroos have multi-stirred tank reactors that use a completely different set of bugs in their guts and operate in a quite different way.
The result is that kangaroos emit virtually no methane, but just a bit of acetone, which is not a greenhouse gas.
One minor implication, says Wilson, is that rather than shooting kangaroos in national parks, it would be far more productive to allow sports shooters into the parks to hunt feral goats and deer, which he says "are spewing out methane".
Based on Wilson's studies, however, if greenhouse emissions are the only thing that count, it might be worth exterminating at least one other native animal: emus. An average emu emits 0.11 tonnes of carbon equivalent emissions each year, the same as a goat and nearly up there with sheep.
The main issue for Wilson, though, is that a move away from cattle and sheep and towards kangaroos as a meat source would do a great deal for combating greenhouse gases.
The point about methane, says Wilson, is that it is a far more diabolical gas than carbon dioxide when it comes to global warming: it is 21 times more damaging.
Also, Wilson points out, methane stays in the atmosphere for less time than it takes carbon dioxide to break down. So, reducing methane emissions would have a much faster and greater effect in curbing global warming on a tonne-for-tonne basis.
In a paper Wilson wrote with his colleague Melanie Edwards, published in US journal Conservation Letters, the authors say the average kangaroo emits only 0.003 carbon equivalent tonnes per year.
The authors conducted some modelling that found that if Australian graziers reduce the national herds by seven million cattle and 36 million sheep (that is, by about one-third) by 2020, it would be possible to lower the country's greenhouse gas emissions by 16 megatonnes, or 3 per cent of Australia's annual emissions.
To replace the meat, Wilson and Edwards suggest, graziers could encourage kangaroos on the rangelands to multiply to 175 million (by providing them with water, reducing livestock numbers, killing dingos and tilting the population towards more females). They could then be harvested, allowing commercial shooters to sell them to abattoirs.
An obvious question is what would encourage farmers to adopt such a plan.
One approach, says Wilson, would be to bring agriculture fully within an emissions trading scheme or carbon tax, so they would face the same punitive financial sanctions as other industries.
That appears unlikely. While the Labor government at first wanted to bring agriculture into its proposed ETS by 2015, it dropped the proposal in a bid to get a deal with the Coalition to pass the ETS legislation.
Since the collapse of that deal, Labor seems to have decided agriculture is in the too-hard basket.
The other, more feasible possibility, says Wilson, would be to provide a positive incentive through a voluntary offsets scheme. Farmers could receive credits for reducing their greenhouse emissions, which could then be sold on the ETS market.
To Wilson's surprise, the grazing community has not rushed to embrace his proposal.
In fact, Wilson says, the reaction he received from Meat and Livestock Australia, which represents the industry's interests, was that "they regard this as all a bit loopy".
Loopy was not the word used by Beverley Henry, MLA's manager of environment sustainability and climate change, when The Australian sought her view of Wilson's scheme. Rather, says Henry, the idea would just not work.
Henry, an environmental scientist, has no dispute with Wilson about the science.
But she says the problem is Wilson's "extrapolation of the basic science in terms of what is possible and what is practical".
For starters, says Henry, "you would be slaughtering a huge number of animals".
About 10 to 14 kangaroos would have to be harvested to provide the same amount of meat as a single head of cattle, she says, meaning a shooting spree to take out tens of millions of roos each year.
"You have to ask if society is comfortable with slaughtering kangaroos on that sort of scale and whether society is ready to accept the substitution of beef and lamb [with] kangaroo."
Also, Henry points out, kangaroos don't take well to the idea of becoming livestock.
"They are not easily herded and not easily contained in fences." That makes the task of animal husbandry rather problematic, so trying to breed and maintain a stable kangaroo population, which fluctuates substantially due to drought and other factors, would be difficult.
Wilson replies by pointing out that kangaroos formed a central part of the Aboriginal diet for thousands of years, and that not having to capture kangaroos to administer anti-parasite medicines or dehorn them would be a big plus for farmers, who would also no longer need fences.
One way or another, it's unlikely that greenhouse effusive animals are going to completely escape the attention of the government as it gears up for another crack at legislating an emissions reduction scheme.
"Agriculture will continue to play a role in addressing climate change," a spokeswoman for Climate Change Minister Penny Wong says.
"Excluding agricultural emissions does not mean that farmers cannot be part of the solution to climate change.
"The government will work with industry to consider a range of ways in which the agricultural sector can contribute to the transition to a low-pollution economy."
A green sea slug appears to be part animal, part plant. It's the first critter discovered to produce the plant pigment chlorophyll.
The sneaky slugs seem to have stolen the genes that enable this skill from algae that they've eaten. With their contraband genes, the slugs can carry out photosynthesis — the process plants use to convert sunlight into energy.
"They can make their energy-containing molecules without having to eat anything," said Sidney Pierce, a biologist at the University of South Florida in Tampa.
Monday, January 11, 2010
The ceremony that has grown up in Wootton Bassett is as simple and moving as the coffins themselves, wrapped only in the Union flag. As the hearses approach, the tenor bell of St Bartholomew's Church begins to toll. Business stops while shoppers and shopkeepers join the crowds lining the pavement. When the cortege reaches the war memorial, the president of the British Legion says a single word – "Up" – to mark the moment when ex- and serving members of the forces should begin their salute. "Down," he says 60 seconds later, as the hearses move on.
Now I understand.
A CREW man who decided to do a spot of fishing over the side of a towering bulk carrier off north Queensland has been stung by a tiny Irukandji jellyfish flung skywards from the sea below.
A spray of seawater carried the jellyfish 25 metres up, hitting the man as he stood on the deck and leaving him with a nasty sting.
"This is one of the most fascinating tasks I've worked on,'' said air crewman Geoff Abrahams, who aided the response of the RACQ CQ Rescue helicopter yesterday.
"Realistically, what are the chances of being stung by a jellyfish when you are safely on board a bulk carrier 25m above the water. It's really incredible.''
The helicopter landed on the bulk carrier, Konmax, and flew the man to Mackay Base Hospital, where tests confirmed he'd been stung by the jellyfish.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Researchers found the average male turns their thoughts to sexual intercourse 13 times a day – a total of 4,745 times every year.
Almost a third even admitted it is often the first thing they think about when they wake up in the mornings.
In comparison, women think about sex just five times day – or 1,825 times a year. So what do women think about to replace those lacivious thoughts.
"Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.
He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:
- Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
- Why the early bird gets the worm;
- Life isn't always fair;
- and maybe it was my fault.
Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).
His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.
Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.
Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims. Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.
Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement. Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust, by his wife, Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son, Reason.
He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers; I Know My Rights, I Want It Now, Someone Else Is To Blame, and I'm A Victim
Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing."
ONCE, a long time ago now, a couple called Homer and Marge had a son. Later on, this boy would be joined by two sisters, Lisa and Maggie. But first of all Homer and Marge had to decide what name to give their new son. So they ran through a list, drew up their favourites and eventually plumped for … Matt.
Fifty-five years on, Matt Groening is in Cannes to receive a clutch of awards to mark The Simpsons' 20th anniversary. Cannes has gone Simpsons-mad for the occasion. The hotel that Groening is staying in is bathed in a sulphurous yellow glow at night - the same colour as the family's skin - while huge posters of Homer, Maggie, Bart et cetera stare down from billboards all over town.ONCE, a long time ago now, a couple called Homer and Marge had a son. Later on, this boy would be joined by two sisters, Lisa and Maggie. But first of all Homer and Marge had to decide what name to give their new son. So they ran through a list, drew up their favourites and eventually plumped for … Matt.
Fifty-five years on, Matt Groening is in Cannes to receive a clutch of awards to mark The Simpsons' 20th anniversary. Cannes has gone Simpsons-mad for the occasion. The hotel that Groening is staying in is bathed in a sulphurous yellow glow at night - the same colour as the family's skin - while huge posters of Homer, Maggie, Bart et cetera stare down from billboards all over town.
Art imitates life.
Saturday, January 09, 2010
Friday, January 08, 2010
OUR obsession with perfection is resulting in the destruction of one-third of Queensland's annual banana crop, because the fruit is deemed too straight, too small or not yellow enough for us to buy.
Each year, 100,000 tonnes of bananas considered substandard are chopped up and spread back over banana plantations as fertiliser. The major supermarkets Woolworths and Coles — which buy 70 per cent of Australian bananas — reject fruit that is the wrong size, an imperfect shape or discoloured.
Queensland Government researchers are now investigating alternative food uses for the rejected bananas, in a bid to boost the value of the $410 million industry as a whole. Prepackaged sliced banana, banana flour and freezing whole peeled bananas for juice bars are all being considered.
The Australian Banana Growers Council said bananas must meet very particular length, girth and colour specifications before Woolworths and Coles will take them.
"Their product specifications are fairly well defined," Growers Council chief executive Tony Heidrich said.
"If you want to get your fruit into the supermarkets, you have to meet those standards."
I wonder how many were rejected a few years ago when bananas were over $10 a kilo after the hurricane. Surely the Supermarkets could price accordingly.