Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Old school II

The Warehouse
This club was situated in Claremont St (there was a back entrance in Daly St), South Yarra, at the same place that is Salt. If you didn't get there early then you would be stuck in a long queue back in the days when queues meant that the place was full. This was one of the places to be if you were a hip young thing back in the early '90s. How I was let in I'll never know. It must have been a pity thing.

There was a empty lot next door where you could park your car. We all used to park our cars there and we never had any problems. But on one night I came out of the club to find my car not there. My first thought was that it had been stolen. My trusty 1974 Audi Fox. It was a good little car that survived a drive up to Noosa and back. However, there were others there whose cars were also gone. We all realised that the owners had put up a "Cars will be towed if parked here" sign. I had to fetch my car from a compound in Richmond and it cost me $200. Bastards.

Fluid on a Thursday (Left: older version of pass) The respective reverse sides are show. This night was the big one for the Warehouse. (DJ Andy Van's name pops up again.)

Saturday Night. Not such a big night hence the half price drinks.

Sunday Night. Also a big night.

Friday, December 22, 2006


I've stumbled across the following site Fundies Say The Darndest Things!. This is a collection of stuff written or said by fundie christians in newspapers, chatrooms or forums. Check out some of the following:

"One of the most basic laws in the universe is the Second Law of Thermodynamics. This states that as time goes by, entropy in an environment will increase. Evolution argues differently against a law that is accepted EVERYWHERE BY EVERYONE. Evolution says that we started out simple, and over time became more complex. That just isn't possible: UNLESS there is a giant outside source of energy supplying the Earth with huge amounts of energy. If there were such a source, scientists would certainly know about it. [emphasis added]"

"I am a bit troubled. I believe my son has a girlfriend, because she left a dirty magazine with men in it under his bed. My son is only 16 and I really don't think he's ready to date yet. What's worse is that he's sneaking some girl to his room behind my back. I need help, God! I want my son to stop being so secretive!"

"I can sum it all up in three words: Evolution is a lie"

"If your original Hebrew disagrees with my original King James --- your original Hebrew is wrong. If your original Hebrew agrees with my original King James, your original Hebrew is right."

"[On homosexuality being a condition one is born with]
Just because you are born a certain way doesn't meant that is the way you have to be. Some people are born Asian, but through surgeries and counseling they can change."

"I often debate with evolutionists because I believe that they are narrow mindedly and dogmatically accepting evolution without questioning it. I don't really care how God did what He did. I know He did it."

"I didn't come to Jesus by my intelligence and neither will you my friend."

"If you compare the Mein Kampf to the Qur'an, you'll discover they're nearly identical"

There is more gold at the website.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Old school

I've finally moved house. During the move I received the RRR magazine in which they celebrate 30 years of RRR. In the magazine was an article reminiscing about 'Outlaw', the wednesday night at Chaser's nightclub during the 80's and early 90's. As I packed I found a pile of old nightclub passes from that era and I thought that I'd share them.

Amadeus was the nightspot at the Matthew Flinders Hotel on Warrigal Rd in Chadstone. Growing up in Mount Waverley, this place was close to home and so I spent a lot of money and drank far too much there. The big nights were Bedrock and Daisy Age. If you lived in or around the Waverley area, went to Victoria College Burwood (now Deakin Uni) or Monash Uni, chances are you went to Amadeus. It's heyday was about '89 - '92.

ps. It's scary to think that Captain Spalding are still around!

Bedrock (front and rear)

Other versions of the Bedrock passes

Chill zone (front and rear)

The Brain (front and rear)

atomic (front and rear)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

It's all happenin'

It's been frantic over the last couple of weeks. It's that time of year when you have to write those reports again as well as having meetings with parents explaining why their kid failed. But that's all done and so is the year (nearly).

I also have found a new place to live and will be moving this week. Hopefully next weekend I can relax, put my feet up and find something to really rant about.

E, Mel, Amanda, and Ms Dodo, I will do the godfather thing but I'll just go through the motions. I don't thing I'll bother trying to explain the situation because I don't think that it will make any difference, it's head and brickwall stuff.

I've just finished watching nearly 18hrs of the Beyond Belief 2006 conference. Fascinating viewing. If you are into the whole science/religion/morality/philosophy stuff I recommend it. There are some great and controversial presentations by Ramachandran (delusional beliefs of stroke victims), Dawkins (religion is a form of child abuse), Shermer (why we believe weird things), Druyan (a moving personal reflection of what science means to her), Banaji (implicit prejudice); just to name a few. I've got a copy of the .mp4 downloads (2GB in total) if you are interested.

It's also that time of year for a Melbourne Christmas tradition. Xmas Even. I wanna go, so is anyone interested? It's at the Spanish Club on friday the 22nd.

Friday, December 01, 2006

15 minutes

My grey t-shirt got 15 minutes of fame yesterday. Well, only the part that covers my left chest. In the photo that accompanies the following article I'm mostly obscured by a fellow teacher wearing sunnies and a brown hat, but you can see my chin and t-shirt.
That's my 15 minutes of fame. Does that mean I've got nothing left to do??

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Next Blog >>

I've always wondered what blogs would appear when I clicked on "Next Blog". Some of the genres I came upon I've put in my blog links. I'll visit them later to see if I want to keep these links.

Monday, November 20, 2006


I've been asked to be the godfather (Don 'Door) for my nephew. I'll do it but I'm would be extremely uncomfortable if I have to say anything that pertains to my belief in a god. Being who I am, I would find it wrong if I have to profess a belief in god when in fact I don't. I do want to do this for my family, but this does hang over my head. What should I do?

Friday, November 17, 2006

A stroll in the country

I've just come back from three days in Camperdown, country Victoria. It's a beautiful little town. History has always fascinated me and I enjoy wandering around looking at old buildings, perusing the town museum and rummaging through op-shops. I think you need to do that to really appreciate where you are.

You never know what you can find in the op-shops. I found a video called "Gold ! Gold !! Gold!!!, a year in the life of TISM". $2 later it was mine. There were also some excellent pieces of furniture straight out of the 60's and 70's. I may have to go back with a trailer if I ever need to furnish where I live.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Well, the worm has turned, has it not

I have a job again. And it has turned out for the best. There was an opening in the maths department so they came to me. I said that I still wanted to work on my PhD and so if I could have one day a week off then I would be interested. They came to the party. So next year I'll be teaching maths and having a four day week. It's a one year contract but it couldn't have suited me better.
Now I just need to find a place to live. Also, that non-existing relationship may mend itself also.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


Here are some sites to pass the time away.

Prequels and Sequels to boardgames.
I'd play 'Alzheimer's the game'.

Free Online Pregnancy Test
I'm pregnant with a girl!

Angry Alien Productions
Movies re-inacted by rabbits in 30 seconds. Reservoir dogs is cool.

Not PrOn
If you like puzzles this is a good one. You have to solve each puzzle to move to the next stage. The puzzles are in the form of pictures. But you have to think outside the picture. Maybe even look at the address!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

You're outta here

It's been a great last couple of weeks for me. Firstly, I have to move out of my apartment by the 19th of december. Secondly, yesterday I was told I would not be re-employed next year. Thirdly, if I was in a relationship then I'm sure that would have broken up as well.
So next year I'll be in a new place and I've decided that I'm going to spend the first bit of it finishing off my thesis. I'll try to pick up some casual work for cash. The bright side is that next year I can rejoin the crew for friday noodles.

Footnote: They say that bad luck comes in threes, and it has in this case as well. I've lost my wallet. What a pain in the ....
Footnote to footnote: Someone found my wallet and I've got it back. The woman who found it owns Dinkums. I recommend it for your copying needs.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Warning: Nerd post

What’s the matter?
A few years ago there was much excitement regarding the possible discovery of pentaquarks. In 2002/2003 there were six papers published with data suggesting that the pentaquark existed. Some of the papers calculated a 95% confidence limit.

Just in case you’ve forgotten, atoms are made of protons and neutrons which are in turn made of quarks. Previous to these experiments, we had only ever seen particles containing 2 or 3 quarks. For example, protons and neutrons are made of 3 quarks. The discovery of a particle that contained 5 quarks (a pentaquark) would open a door to new physics.

I remember much excitement in my research group about these discoveries, especially from one academic. He concluded that the evidence was fairly conclusive. Being the doubting Thomas that I am, I decided to read one of the papers. After reading this paper, I came to the conclusion that they just did not have the data to justify their claim. In particle physics, I have seen claims made by researchers based on a very low number of data points. I was always questioning how they could possibly justify their claim and whether a same number of randomly generated points could show the same thing. That is, the data could just be a statistical fluctuation.

Anyway, I was due to give a talk to the Physics community and I decide to be mischievous. It was presented as a talk about how physicists use detectors to discover new particles. But the subtext was the use and misuse of statistics, focusing on the paper I had read.

I came to the point in my presentation where I talked about the confidence levels of an experiment. A 95% confidence level can be described as such:
If you think you have a set of data that is evidence, for example, of a new particle, generate 99 graphs using random data points. Mix in the graph of the real data and show the 100 graphs to your friend. Tell them to pick 5 graphs that show evidence of a new particle and if the real data is in that 5, then you have a 95% confidence level that the data does in fact show the existence of a new particle.

This is what I did in my talk with the data from the paper, except that I told the audience that that data was of a fictitious particle. They didn’t know it had come from that paper. Anyway, no one was able pick the graph which had the real data in it. The randomly generated graphs also showed signs of a “new particle”. I then showed them the graph from the paper (they still didn’t know that the data was from a research paper). I asked them if they would conclude that the graph showed evidence for a new particle. Nearly all the audience said no. That’s when I confessed about the origin of the data and the claims made in that paper. After my talk, I remember having a few conversations with those that still thought that the data was conclusive, taking into account the other published papers. I was of the opinion that more data needs to be gathered before making such a claim.

Three years later and after more data gathering it seems as if the pentaquark has bitten the dust. Sure, they may be still a slim chance that it exists, but it seems that the earlier experiments were in fact statistical glitches. And here is the great thing about science, even the original author of the paper now concedes this point. However he still thinks that later experiments may show a pentaquark.

Here’s one for the kitchen
In a two layered steamer, does the food cook faster in the bottom layer or the top layer?
This question was put to me and I gave them my reasoned answer. I then had an interesting discussion with someone who argued the opposite. What do you think and why? (In this discussion, I finally said let’s do the experiment to see who is right. It was interesting to hear them give excuses as to why they wouldn’t do the experiment then and there. Isn’t experiment the way to find out who is right?)

High Voltage Rock and Roll
There was a hard rubbish collection in my folk’s area a couple of weeks ago and I scavenged the electronics from a few old computer screens and video recorders. From the bits and pieces I made a Jacobs Ladder. This is the contraption seen in the labs of mad scientists in old sci-fi films that has two long metal wires sticking up with an electric arc that travels up between them.

Here are photos of it. Excuse the quality. The pictures were taken by a phone.

Jacobs Ladder Electronics

Spark travelling up wires

Exposure time is too long to see one spark

Sunday, October 01, 2006

An idea should be able to be subjected to criticism

I have been a long time listener of 3RRR and was thinking back to the halcyon days in the 80’s and early 90’s and the programs I used to listen to. I would wake up on a Saturday and Sunday and listen to shows like ‘Punter to Punter’, ‘Danger Low Brow’, ‘The Coodabeen Champions’, and ‘The Liar’s Club’.

The ‘Liar’s Club’ was a show that looked sceptically at all sorts of pseudoscientific claims, including crystals, tarot cards, psychic readings and so forth. Sadly this show was pulled off the air because, the presenters claim, of a complaint by the Church of Scientology. It claimed that the show vilified their religion. Go here to read about this case. This was the first time that the Australian Broadcasting Authority upheld a breach of the code of conduct relating to religious vilification.

I've searched throught the Australian Broadcasting Authority annual reports to see how many cases related to religious vilification and how many breaches were found since 1993.

Compliants: 21 Breaches found: 6

Here is a list of the breaches:
3RRR Melbourne Program: The Liars Club
5EBI Adelaide Greek language program demeaning a group on the basis of religion.
TCN9 'Today program' The complainant alleged that a segment on witchcraft misrepresented Zoroastrians by branding followers of the religion in the same category as witches. Found guilty.
2NVR Nambucca Valley 'Program: As I See It' The ABA received a complaint alleging that the program ‘As I See It’, broadcast anti-Jewish material that stereotyped, incited, vilified and perpetuated hatred against Zionists, Israel and Jews. Guilty.
ABC TV 'Backberner' Segment that purported to mock Cat Stevens vilified on the basis of religion. Guilty of dengrating Muslims and reinforced stereotypes of Muslims.
Channel 31 Sydney 'Focus Talkshow' Practitioners of Falun Gong alleged that the program were unfairly presented, instigated hatred towards the spiritual group, and vilified on grounds of religion. They were found guilty of unfair representation.

This is less than one breach every 2 years.

I agree that you should be held to account if you make vicious and defamatory statements and you have no evidence to back up your statements. However, vilification should not be used if you are critical of an idea. Religious beliefs are, in a sense, ideas and an idea should be subjected to critical investigation. Critical examination forces the claimant to produce rational evidence to back up the claim. Just because it falls under the umbrella of a religion should not give it immunity from critical examination.

How is religion defined in Australia? The High Court ruled the following in a 1983 case involving the Church of Scientology.
"We therefore hold that, for the purposes of the law, the criteria for religion are twofold: first, belief in a supernatural Being, Thing or Principle; and second, the acceptance of canons of conduct in order to give effect to that belief, though canons of conduct which offend against the ordinary laws are outside the area of any immunity, privilege or right conferred on the grounds of religion."

However "The law's protection in this context is not directed to safe-guarding the tenets of each religion - it is accorded to preserve the dignity and freedom of persons to adhere to the religion of their choice."

So you should be able to comment on the tenets and question the basis of their beliefs without fear of prosecution.

Another thought, since religious institutions are exempt from certain laws, taxation for example, you should create some dodgy belief in a supernatural principle, write a book of laws, and set it up so you don't have to pay tax. Not that I think religions should be exempt from these laws.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Third post in 5 days!!!!

I love cryptic crosswords. There is extreme satisfaction is completing a cryptic, especially if the clues are clever. I do The Age cryptic nearly every day but the one I look forward to, sometimes with dread, is the friday puzzle. David Astle composes these teasers and his clues are either very clever or sometimes ridiculous. Last friday appeared the following clue. The brackets indicate two words, 6 letters and 4 letters.

2330 + 3418 = 2880 (6,4).

This had me stumped for more than a day. Being mathematically minded I knew that the sum was wrong, so maybe it involved roman numerals or you typed the numbers into a calculator and see if they spelled an upsidedown word. None of this worked. Sometimes answers come at the strangest moments. I worked it out while jogging around an athletics track. The answer was Broken Hill. Why? 2330 = postcode for Broke in NSW, 3418 = postcode for Nhill in Victoria, put together spell BrokeNhill, 2880 = postcode for Broken Hill. I liked this clue.

Another clue that I like was the following which I saw years ago.
__ (8). Answer: Clueless.

I'll have to add to this when I can remember some more favourites.

I've found the following blog that also talks about the infamous David Astle.
Friday the thirteen

Monday, September 25, 2006

Benjamin Disraeli said it best....

I shouldn't get upset when I see news reports warning that your chances of getting some terrible ailment are increased by 40% if you do this or that. But I do. Why? It's not because I'm scared of getting that particular ailment. In fact, I don't really take that much notice of these reports. Here's why.

Here is an example I put to a few guys at the gym the other day after one of these stories appeared on the news. Give your gut feeling answer to it. Say one out of 1000 people get a pimple naturally. A study has shown that if you drink tea, your chances of getting a pimple increase by 40%. How many people out of 1000 get a pimple now. Remember, give a gut feeling answer to it. All the guys at the gym gave the answer of 400. And guess what, they were all wrong. In fact, only one point four (I'm using words rather than numbers so I don't give the game away) people get a pimple now. Remember, it's a forty percent increase. That means you multiply the number of people who get it by 140/100. In this case, that makes it one point four people.

The point is, it is not just enough to say it's an increase, you also need to the know the number of people who it really affects. 40% sounds scary, but if it really means that 0.14% get it rather that 0.1% does it still sound as scary?

For example, Here is research about the increase in risk of getting cancer if you are on HRT. The headline states there is a 60% increased risk of cancer. In reality, it means an increase from 0.23% of the population having cancer to 0.35% if you are having prolonged HRT use. This is a better indication of the risk and a more realistic number to be basing decisions on.

By the way, here is another question I gave the guys at the gym. In Melbourne, the weather on one day is totally independent of the weather that happens the next day. If there is 50% chance of rain on saturday and a 50% chance of rain on sunday, what is the chance that it will rain on the weekend? Give a gut feeling answer. I'll give the answer later.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The original idea is the domain of the genius

Sidenote: I haven't written here in nearly two months. It's not that I have had nothing to say, it's just that I have been venting verbally. By the time I sit down, the urge to vent has passed. However, I thought I better put something down. So here it is.

It has been said that there are no original ideas. Even when you have a thought you think is original, you pick up a book or read an article written years ago that contains your idea.

A couple of rants ago I expressed the opinion along the lines that most people are stupid and that the more advanced a society becomes the less knowledgible the average population is. Well, this opinion was expressed by Mencken about 75 years ago.

I am reading "H.L. Mencken on religion, edited by S. T. Joshi". Mencken was a newspaper man, essayist and political commentator in the early to mid 20th century. His philosophy and beliefs are:
I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind - that its modest and greatly overestimated services on the ethical side have been more than overcome by the damage it has done to clear and honest thinking.
I believe that no discovery of fact, however trivial, can be wholly useless to the race, and that no trumpeting of falsehood, however virtuous in intent, can be anything but vicious.
I believe that all government is evil, in that all government must necessarily make war upon liberty...
I believe that the evidence for immortality is no better than the evidence of witches, and deserves no more respect.
I believe in the complete freedom of thought and speech...
I believe in the capacity of man to conquer his world, and to find out what it is made of, and how it is run.
I believe in the reality of progress.
But the whole thing, after all, may be put very simply. I believe that it is better to tell the truth than to lie. I believe that it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe that it is better to know than be ignorant.

An interesting set of beliefs that have a lot of merit. I like the one about "no discovery of fact can be wholly useless". That one goes out to those who keep asking what practical use could there be for my research.

Anyway, he formulated my ideas years ago and wrote about them in a far better way. In fact, as I am reading this book, it is quite scary to find how close I am to his way of thinking. But it's early days and I'm not even through the first chapter. I may have to read other works by him.

I'll leave you with a few quotes from him:
For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.

Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.

Giving every man a vote has no more made men wise and free than Christianity has made them good.

Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

I like smoke and lightning.....

Being a fan of the metal genre, I ventured to the Palace to see Queensryche. What an interesting crowd. First of all, it was the most polite crowd I've ever been in. Everyone who bumped into me during the night said sorry. It was very civil. The crowd itself consisted of:
Traditional metal heads - You know these guys, they are the ones with the long hair, Iron Maiden t-shirts, and tight black jeans;
Metal chicks - hair peroxided within an inch of its life, leather everywhere, studded jewellery;
mid 30's metal fans - guys who were fans during the 80's but no longer feel the need to dress the part. These guys have short hair and dress street casual;
mid 30's metal fans girlfriends - these girls have been obviously dragged along by their boyfriends to experience the fine music that is Operation Mindcrime;
New converts - the early 20's brigade who are discovering the fine fare that 80's metal had to offer. I overheard one of them talking to a bunch of over 40's and lamenting the fact that he was born 15 years too late.

The gig was excellent. I've been waiting to see Operation Mindcrime live and it didn't disappoint. The only downside was the songs from Operation Mindcrime II. They fell a bit flat. I don't know why they wanted to do a sequel 20 years later since sequels to albums usually fail.

Keeping with the metal theme, what does a singer of an influential and highly successful metal band do when they are not singing? They are commercial pilots.

Do you know which band this guy fronts? He recently flew about 200 people back to England after they had fled Lebanon.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Who did you vote for?

I've been following this Howard and Costello 'argy-bargy' and reading the average citizens view on this, for example, at The Age. I common thread in these rants is the phrase "I voted for Howard/Costello not Costello/Howard". Now, not everyone lives in the electorates of Bennelong or Higgins. So most of the writers in these forums did not in fact vote for Howard or Costello, unless their ballot had names similar to the Prime Minister or treasurer. So, you people did not vote for Howard/Costello but your local member. By the way, do they know who that is?

My point of this is that people should be thinking about who they are really voting for and keeping those individuals true to thier election promises. You should be basing your vote on the people actually standing in your electorate. I know that this idea is a fantasy. It's too hard to check what each candidate really stands for. Too many hide thier real beliefs just so they can ride on the coat tails of someone else. Thier ambition is just power, not to do good.

Another thing that gives me the irit's is 'directed preferences'. I was reminded of this via the story that John Pasquarelli ran as an independent and was funded by the Liberal party on the understanding that he would direct preferences to the Liberals. 'Directed preferences' rely on people being sheep and just doing what they are told. That's the problem. People have become lazy. Wake up! You can choose who you direct your preferences to. You don't have to follow the 'How to vote' cards.

This leads me to a few more hypotheses (I won't call them theories until they are backed by hard evidence, although I think the evidence is pretty strong) that I have:
90% of the population are sheep.
90% of the population are stupid.
The more a country becomes scientifically advanced, the less scientifically literate each individual becomes. In fact, they become less scientifically literate then the previous generation.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Sosedi, Buren, Mezoblebi, ....

I have many theories. Most of these come from considered thoughts random rants that I have from day to day. However, I keep forgeting these until something triggers the memory of a particular theory. Today I read an article in the Sunday Age which reminded me of one of my theories. It goes something like this:
The larger a city is, the more lonely its inhabitants can become.
I have lived in my apartment block of 16 units for the last 18 months. I have only met two of my neighbours in that time. The first was a woman in her sixties who I spoke to for the first time about a year after I had moved in. I have only seen her twice. I can't even remember her name. The second was a girl in her late twenties who knocked on my door a few weeks ago to borrow a corkscrew. Her name I still can recall. I have no idea about any other inhabitant of my apartment block. If something happened to any of them I wouldn't know about it. They may as well be living on the other side of the world. You hear those stories about people who have died in their house in the city and not been found for weeks.
Is this because they can call on others who are not neccessary neighbours? Or does the city cause agoraphobia? Or do people lock themselves away because they fear the unknown? Has media emphasis on the rare violent events that happen in the city been a factor? When people meet, do they eye off the other with distrust and extreem caution?
I don't. Call me naive, but 99.99% of the population are decent folk. I try (and it is hard) to begin a conversation with someone who I haven't met with no preconcieved ideas of the type of person they are. They soon reveal themselves for who they are and then I'll make a judgement.
One thing I found strange about both the meetings of my neighbours was that they didn't ask what my name was or tell me what their name was. Both times I had to interupted the conversation topic to introduce myself and find out who they were. It used to be that when you met, the first thing that was exchanged was your names. Is this a symptom of the prevailing mood?
How many of your neighbours do you know?

Friday, June 30, 2006


Who cares anymore? That's my response to those that ask me who I think will win the World Cup. I was gutted after that Italy game. All that's left now are the same boring sides. Where are the Cameroon's, South Korea's, Turkey's, North Korea's, etc? These underdog teams making it through to the last few matches are what makes the Cup exciting. Now it's the same crap. If I was a cynical bastard, I'd think that the ref's protect the bigger teams. Hang on, that's in fact what I am and what I think.
I love the game of Fodbol, just as I love footy. But there are some aspects of the game that need to be fixed, and fixed fast. The following rules have to be brought in to make the game better.

Touch the ref, red card.
I hate players having a sookie-sookie-la-la and going to the ref complaining about a free kick given. You need to respect the ref and he should be off-limits. Touch him and your off. That would screw the South Americans and the Europeans.

Video review of games. If a player has dived, suspend for two matches.
That would fix up the diving issue. Players would think twice before doing a Greg Louganis/Matty Lloyd.

Time off for Injury
If a player goes down and is "injured" the following should apply. If medical staff have to come on to the ground, the player is to be taken off the pitch and not allowed to come on for 5 mins. That's how long it should take to diagnose little injuries. If a stretcher is brought onto the ground, the player is to be taken off the pitch and stay off for 15 mins. If the injury is that bad then surely 15 min is the minimum time required for the player to feel better.

I won't forget the last two games Australia played just due to the fact of where I watched them. I witnessed the game against the handballers Croatia in a pay laundry in Yurala, which is near Uluru. For the last game, we were in tents at a camping ground in Alice Springs and in order to watch the game we decided to hire one of the rooms in the motel there. Jammed in that single room were 4 guys and 37 girls.

Thursday, June 29, 2006


Heading down the road....


past ...

around ...

time to reflect ...

back on the track ...

in the distance ...

through ...

to ...

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Books are great. I am a huge fan. For many hours have I trawled second hand book shops, op-shops and the like, looking for something to read. But there is one type of book that does not and never will be able to capture reality. Those books that contain photos of famous buildings/art/landscapes/etc. You know, the ones that try to give you the feeling of actually being there and witnessing that building/art/landscape/etc. I'm sorry, but reality wins hands down. I'm not denigrating the photo as a form of art. In fact, I love that form. But taking a picture of a photo and putting it in a book can never reproduce the experience of actually seeing that photo.

Case 1: Art
I am just a humble scientist. I'm not that fantastic expressing how or why a piece of art affects me. But I know it when it does. Looking through a book of art does not evoke any emotions. But as I walk through a gallery, I can experience them all. Here are few examples of works that captured my gaze, made me think and stirred me. But only by being there and seeing them in the 'flesh'.

Case 2: The Great Wall of China
This is definitely an experience. Pictures cannot describe this structure. It's not the size, it's not the length, it's, how can I put it, the "vibe". No picture will ever capture that.

I'm thinking about this at the moment because in about a week I'll be at Uluru. I've seen the pictures but .....

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Reporting for duty

I'm back. It's been a month and it's gone so quickly. My footy team has won zero games so I'll get the footy rant out first.
I'm getting fed up with footballers who get paid $100,000+ and still can't kick or make a decent decision. And some of them are so dumb. Lets punch the ball away from my fellow team mate who is just about to mark it. Or I'll ask for a handball on my wrong side, realise too late that it's on my wrong side, then have to turn a full circle, by which time the opposition have cornered me, then give off a handball in panic to a team mate who gets brutally assaulted by said opposition because I was too scared to take responsibility. How about chipping the ball around when you are 20 points behind? It's not like you are trying to win a game of football. I don't want to name players, but I wouldn't play Tattslotto with the following numbers: 3, 9, 16, 20, 29, 39. These numbers are definitely not lucky.
Stallion, your football team is not much better. Being 9 goals up in the 3rd quarter and losing? It's gotta be breaking your heart. How's Japan? Are you taking time off to sit back and watch the World Cup?
Rachel, I've gotta organise a trip to the territory. It sounds like it's going to be a cold winter. It must be trying following the Blues when the Pies are doing so well. Matt must be interested in football again.
During school holidays I'm going on a 10 day bus trip to Central Australia. I've never been so I'm looking forward to it. However, there will be about 40 screaming kids coming along. I hope I survive.
Reports. Reports. Reports. I've just finished writing what seemed like 1,000 school reports. It destroys your social life and sleep. Thank (insert deity of choice here) that it is over. And to think I have to do it again at the end of the year! Ahhhhhhhh..............................
Touring news.... Metal heads will no doubt be as excited as I am with news that one of my favourite bands from the eighties is touring. Queensryche is doing the Operation Mindcrime show. It's an album that I never get tired of listening to. And they have just released Operation Mindcrime Part II. They will be playing both parts. I'm there. Who will join me? I know you want to be there...

Sunday, May 14, 2006

A weekend of losing

I pasionately follow only a few sporting teams. There is North Melbourne (I shall always call them that) in the AFL and West Ham United in English soccer. This weekend has not been a good one for either of them.
I stayed up till after 3am to watch the F.A. Cup final and see the Irons lose a game they should have won. And to lose to Liverpool. Surely they have won enough trophies and don't need another. If that's not all, my car decided to break down on the way home from watching the game. Driving a car that splutters and coughs and can only manage a top speed of 20 km/h up Punt Rd does not win admiration from other drivers. Yet some drivers are so stupid. I pull aside to let them pass yet some decide to follow me as I pull over, and then abuse me for doing so. You can't win.
Then I had to sit through an insipid performance from a so called football side that is supposed to have pride. I don't know which dictionary they use, but thier definition of pride doesn't match any I've seen. What a crap day at the footy.

Friday, May 05, 2006

A couple of things

1) I'm reading a Christopher Brookmyre book at the moment and the following quote struck a chord with me:

"You see, the greatest skill of intelligence is to sit quite and let everyone else talk."

I think I'll have to use that in my classroom.

2) Check out this Japanese magician. His name is Cyril and he does some fantastic tricks. I discovered this on youtube.com (via The Amazing Randi). Heaps of good stuff on this site. Maybe you have been there before and I'm just a bit behind the times.

3) There is no 3).

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Quiz time

After reading e's blog, I went searching for a quiz that would suit me.
I found "Am I Angry?".

My result was:
You get bent out of shape pretty easily, but it's usually justified ....... especially when you consider how bad most people suck.

I could agree with that.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Tick, tick, ticking in my head....

45's spinning in my head

"No time, tryin' to get a watch repaired
No time, never got a thing to wear
Hear the ringing of the telephone, oh no
Hear it ringing in my head now"

"I'm here alone on the telephone line
I'm right where you want me to be
And I'll wait alone and never ask why
I'll be where you want me to be"

"In another life
You’re always the hero
In another life
You always win the game
In another life
No one ever cheats you
In another life
You never have to change"

"Sometimes I try to do things and it just doesn't work out the way I wanted to.
I get real frustrated and I try hard to do it and I take my time and it doesn't work out the way I wanted to.
It's like I concentrate real hard and it doesn't work out
Everything I do and everything I try never turns out
It's like I need time to figure these things out"

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Now the games are over....

Now that the Commonwealth Games are over, I can rant about the security that was in place. I think that the security was completely useless and that it was only put in place to make the masses feel like something was being done. Here are two ways in which the security system was shown to be faulty.

Case 1
On the night of the opening ceremony, the Australian team was told to meet at the village at 4pm. One of the competitors, a female mountain biker, heard that the team would not be marching into the MCG till 10.30pm that night. Since she wasn't staying at the village, she decide to ride her bike to Vodaphone Arena (where the team would be just before marching in) later that night. The competitor arrived and notice that there was security everywhere, including walk-through metal detectors. As the competitor neared the security entrance, one of the guards noticed that it was an Australian athlete and proceeded to let her in without going through the security procedure. So all you would have to have done to walk into the MCG was wear a Trinity Grammar blazer and rock up to Vodaphone arena. You are an Australian athlete so therefore you must be OK. Enter Vodaphone arena and do your business.

Case 2
I went to a few nights of the athletics at the MCG which was surrounded by fences and checkpoints. You had to pass through the checkpoint which consisted of a walk-through metal detector and security searching your bags. This system was flawed and I'll describe how you could have smuggled in explosives and a detonator.
Step 1: Strap plastic explosives around your waist.
Step 2: Modify your mobile phone so that it contains the detonator. Use a phone that is at least a few years old, like a chunky old nokia.
Step 3: Wear a t-shirt and have your tracksuit top tied around your waist to cover the bulge.
Step 4: As you walk towards the metal detector, place your mobile phone, wallet and keys in the cardboard container provided and hand it to the security guard.
Step 5: The security will ask people to remove their tracksuit top from off their waist and hand it to be check. Little girls standing in front of you will. Just look as if that is going to be a hassle and then they will just ask you if you have anything in the top. Reply you don't.
Step 6: The container that was handed to the guard will be given a cursory look and then passed around (not through) the metal detector.
Step 7: Step through the metal detector. It won't go off since you don't have metal on you.
Step 8: Collect your phone, keys and wallet and move on.
Step 9: Go to a toilet inside the MCG and assemble your device.

This is how I walked in one day (except for steps 1,2 and 9).

Security is only as good as its weakest point. The above two cases show, in my opinion, that the whole exercise was a waste of time.

Friday, March 24, 2006


A few years ago, when quite a few of us were procrastinating during our PhD’s, we stumbled upon the Political Compass web site. It defined your political leaning not just by traditional left/right categories, but also whether you were social libertarian/ authoritarian. It then placed your position on a Cartesian grid and you could compare yourself to dictators, humanitarians, etc. Most of us turned out to be left leaning libertarians. My score was –7 (ie left) and –6.05 (ie social libertarian).

Anyway, recently I was thinking whether the following two scales would also form a compass of some sort. Maybe it’s exactly the same as the political compass, I’ll have to think about it. Here are my two scales.

1) The first one is in regards to legislative law.

After the fact ----------------------------------------- Preventative

After the fact: The law against murder exists to provide justice after the act has been committed It is assumed that a person will murder someone whether or not the law exists.
Preventative: The law against murder exists because, if it didn’t, everyone would go about murdering willy-nilly.

2) The second scale is with respect to your social conscience.

Selfish ------------------------------------------------------ Selfless

Selfish: You only do things to benefit yourself and this ultimately benefits society as a whole.
Selfless: You only do things to benefit others and this ultimately benefits you.

Do you think this would make a good compass? Where would you put yourself?

Aside: I think the second scale may also apply to relationships. I have seen couples where one is at one end, and the partner is at the other. Seeing these couples and how they have gone, only one seems to get hurt, the selfless one. I think you need to be on the same side for both to be happy. Is this too simplistic?

Saturday, March 18, 2006


I can't watch the commonwealth games coverage. The 'how good is Australia' crap that they go on just gets me angry. Just to let you know, I am not a fan of nationalism, patriotism, and any of those similar isms. I judge a person on their individual merits or achievements, not on their nationality. I refuse to praise someone just because of an accident by birth. An analogy that springs to mind is the monarchy. I see no difference in monarchists who follow someone just because they were born into a particular family and so called patriots who follow someone who happens to have been born in a particular country. It' s the same line of logic.

There are 71 countries and territories competing. But why is the division at the country level? Why isn't every Australian state represented by its own team? At the Olympics, England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland don't compete as separate entities. I mean the Australian federation of states was only just successful in coming together. Image if the states competed against each other. Channel 9 would have to have a separate commentary team for each state exhibiting that parochial crap. You would only see Victorian winners and Victorian interviews in Victoria, Tasmanian winners and Tasmanian interviews in Tasmania, and so on. Victory ceremonies and anthems would only be shown in the appropriate state. Stuff the other states.

And another thing. In the individual sports, and I hate to tell you this, but competitors compete for themselves. They don't compete for 'queen and/or country'. What drives them is their desire to be their best. I have no problem with that. In fact I think that is what sport should be about. I don't give a rats about what banner they happen to compete under, I want to embrace their grit, determination and talent. This is what should be highlighted no matter where they come from. So until the coverage reflects this I don't think I'll be watching much. I won't hold my breath.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Fact or fiction

If there is one thing that gets me going, it's newspaper articles that are poorly researched. Take, for example, an article from the Good Weekend about a tribe called the Sentinelese who live on North Sentinel Island. It's an article that was first published in the London Observer under the title Survival comes first for the last Stone Age tribe world".
The last paragraph in the Good Weekend edition reads

"When the tsunami struck in 2004, the Sentinelese knew the evil spirits were up to no good. Minutes before the waves struck, tribal leaders scattered pig and turtle skulls around their settlement and hurled stones toward the ocean before gathering their baskets, bows and arrows and amulets of ancestral bones for protection.

They all survived - for how long, though, it is hard to say."

I found this hard to believe mainly because the whole article was about how isolated this tribe was and how little contact they had had with the outside world. The first question to arise was, how did the reporter know that this scenario in fact happened? I decided to check the facts.

Firstly let's look at the first contact after the tsunami struck. Two days after the tsunami, the Indian Coast Guard decided to check the damage caused to the island. The helicopter pilot saw and took pictures of a lone man firing one arrow at the helicopter. This fact turns into a group of tribesmen firing a shower of arrows. Sounds so much better then just one guy. This "fact" is now used in subsequent stories.

The paragraph states that all of the islanders survived. I'm sorry, but the author cannot definitely know this to be true. Why? Firstly, no one outside the island knew before the tsunami what the population was. The Indian government made an educated guess but that's all it was, a guess. Other guesses put the population between 50 - 250 inhabitants. After the tsunami, no outsider was able to count the population. So to say with certainty that they all survived is just fiction.

As to the story of turtle and pig skulls being scattered around by the Sentinelese, this again is just made up. No one has successfully interviewed an islander since the tsunami struck (highly impropable since no one knows how to speak the language) so it is impossible to know what they did. So where do they get this story from? It is known that that Onge tribe from another island of the Andamans do scatter these objests about during ceremonies. Onge/Sentinelese, what's the difference? Anyway, it makes for a better story. Why let the facts get in the way.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Weekend at the 'G

I spent the weekend competing in and watching the Victorian Athletics Championships at the MCG. This event was used as a dress rehearsal for the Commonwalth Games.

It was good to be out on the track and having a run. I've been at Aus. and Vic. championships before but this was different. The procedure of warming up at the outside track (Olympic Park), having to be in the call room in the bowels of the MCG 30 minutes before your race, using the 50m track that has been built in the car park under the Great Southern Stand, having your spikes checked by officials, patiently waiting in seated rows according to your lane draw, being led out onto the MCG all added up to a unique experience.

There were four rounds in the 100m, the first round had 20 heats comprised of nearly 150 athletes from all over Australia and quite a few from surrounding countries. The goal was to make it through to the 2nd round (48 athletes left) as a miracle would be required to proceed further. Mission accomplished. I didn't make it through to the semis (last 16) and only three Victorians made it to the final. But I did 'win' one thing. My coach told me that I had the fastest reaction time out of the blocks in all the 100m races. I found that very hard to believe, so I went to the results and checked the reaction times. It was true. In my round one race. And it was a legal reaction time. Not bad for a 36 year old. I'll hang my hat on that one.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Trial and tribulation

There is a strange trial going on in Italy at the moment. It involves Luigi Cascioli, an ex-trainee priest who is now an atheist, suing a current priest, Father Righi, after the priest attacked him for casting doubt over the historical legitimacy of the gospels. He decided to fight back.

His complaint is as follows:
"This complaint does not wish to contest the freedom of Christians to profess their faith, sanctioned by art. 19 of the Italian Constitution, but wishes to denounce the abuse that the Catholic Church commits by availing itself of its prestige in order to inculcate – as if being real and historical – facts that are really just inventions."

There are many who believe that there is no credible evidence outside of the gospels that Jesus was a historical figure. For example, Earl Doherty. There is interesting discussion of this on infidels.org.

The first hearing on the 27th of January contained an interesting statement from the defence. It was along the lines that the blame of a possible historical forgery is not to be put on Don Righi but on those who have sustained it before him.

Love that defence! The priest is only spoon fed. The church tells him what to say so he says it. He doesn't think for himself. It's not his fault that he doesn't ask questions about his own faith. It's almost an admission that they can't prove Jesus' historical existence.

Guess how much coverage this trial is getting in the Italian media? It's a round figure. More specifically, zero. Don't want people questioning the dogma that they have had forced down their mouths.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Things to do....

You must see this
Judgement at Nuremberg. This film is just as relevent now as it was when it was made.

Bid on
Virgin Mary in Kleenex Tissue. Come on, I know you want it.

Meet new friends
Check out the Onions personals.

And the quote of the day
"I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours." - Stephen Roberts

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Number games

Don't you love it when those crazy conspiracy theory emails appear in your in box. The following was sent to me (Elaine really knows how to get a rant out of me) and concerns the number 11.

1. New York City has 11 letters.
2. Afghanistan has 11 letters.
3. Ramsin Yuseb (the terrorist who threatened the Twin Towers in 1993) has 11 letters.
4. George W. Bush has 11 letters.

Notice that they didn't pick Washington D.C., Twin Towers, George Walker Bush, New York State, Pentagon, United States of America, World Trade Centre, American Airlines, United Airlines, Pennsylvania, etc. The Ramsin dudes first name was usally written as Ramzi, and anyway, they believe his birth name was Abdul Basit Karim. How come they didn't add "Burkina Faso", "Nertherlands", or "Vatican City" (all 11 letters)? Surely if it's a conspiracy the Roman Catholic Church has to be involved?

1. New York is State No. 11.
2. The first plane which crashed into the Twin Towers was flight no. 11.
3. Flight no. 11 was carrying 92 passengers, adding this number gives 9+2=11.
4. Flight no. 77 which also hit the towers was carrying 65 passengers, adding this 6+5=11.
5. The tragedy was on September 11, or 9/11, adding this 9+1+1=11.
6. The date is equal to the emergency number 911, adding this 9+1+1=11.

Let's look at these:
1. But where does that leave Washington D.C.? It's not a state so what's its number? How does it fit in?
2. Why wasn't it flight 9? If it's 9/11 then flight 9 should have been first, then flight 11.
3. I can make 11 and 92 turn into any number. 1+1=2; 1+1+2+9=13;1+3=4; 9-2=7; 9x2=18, 1+8=9; Have a go yourself.
4. Flight 77 actually carried 64 passengers. But why would you want to let a fact spoil a good story.
5 and 6. See 3.

Are you convinced?

Now we have a very upsetting piece.

1 The total number of passengers inside the planes are 254: 2+5+4=11.
2. The day September 11 is day number 254 of the calendar year: 2+5+4=11.
3. After September 11 there are 111 days more to the end of the year.
4. The tragedy of 3/11/2004 in Madrid also adds to: 3+1+1+2+4=11.
5. The tragedy in Madrid happened 911 days after the tragedy of the Twin Towers.

They love adding numbers. Didn't they learn subtraction, mulitplication and division? What numbers can you make? Actually, Madrid happened 912 days after.


Since America is typically represented by an Eagle, Saddam and Bin Laden
should have read up on their Muslim passages.

The following verse is from the Quran (the Islamic Bible) Quran (9:11) for
it is written that a son of Arabia would awaken a fearsome Eagle. The wrath
of the Eagle would be felt throughout the lands of Allah, while some! of
the people trembled in despair still more rejoiced; for the wrath of the
Eagle cleansed the lands of Allah; and there was peace. NOTE THE VERSE

I'll give you $1 million if you can find this passage in the Quran. The actually quote from chapter 9, verse 11 is:
"But if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, they are your brethren in faith; and We make the communications clear for a people who know."

Doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?

1. Open up a blank Word document.
2. Type Q33 NY in capitals (this is the flight number of the first plane to hit the World Trader Centre gate Q33 at NY (New York)
3. Highlight Q33 NY
4. Change the font size to 48.
5. Change the actual font to Wingdings.


I'm freaked.But not because of that. But because the object "Q33 NY" doesn't exist for any of the planes. Here are the plane details:
...American Airlines flight #11.
Took off from Boston destined for Los Angeles.
Struck the World Trade Center.
The tail # was N334AA.
...United Airlines flight #175.
Took off from Boston destined for Los Angeles.
Struck the World Trade Center.
The tail # was N612UA.
...American Airlines flight #77.
Took off from Dulles near Washington D.C. destined for Los Angeles.
Struck the Pentagon.
The aircraft tail # was N644AA.
...United Airlines flight #93.
Took off from Newark destined for San Francisco.
Crashed in Pennsylvania was flight #93.
The tail # was N591UA.

(Thanks to here and snopes.)

Monday, January 02, 2006

New Years Day, 1/1/2006, or is it?

Why do so many fuss about new years eve? The moment in our calendar when a particular number is increased by one seems to effect some in a strange way. For some, this addition is the only maths they do in the year. Others feel that it gives them the right to molest another. Resolutions are made which are inevitably not adhered to. What makes that moment different to any other moment?

January the first as New Years Day was introduced by the Romans. Before then (and still) other cultures used astronomical events to define the new year. Egyptians celebrated NYD on the first day of the month of Thoth, the day Sirius first rises. This happened to coincide with the flooding of the Nile and represented new life. The Babylonians celebrated on the first visibile crescent of the first new moon after the vernal (spring in the northern hemisphere) equinox. The Chinese celebrate their NYD on a new moon. The Jewish New Year (Rosh HaShana) falls on 1 Tishri. There is a complicated formula for working out when this happens (that's the problem with lunar calendars). The Islamic New Year also follows the lunar cycle and is on the first day of Muharram. The first day of the month is defined as the first visible crescent of the new moon. Because the sighting of this crescent occurs at different times around the world, there is debate as to when NYD is actually held. As with any lunar calendar, this system is out of synch with our solar calendar.

So for us, Gregorian Calendar users, we celebrated NYD this year on 1st of January, 2006. For others that day was:
19th of December, 2005. (Julian Calendar: used by Eastern Orthodox Christian Churches)
2nd day, 12th lunar month, year of the chicken. (Chinese Calendar)
1 Teveth, 5766. (Jewish Calendar)
1 Dhu al-Hijjah, 1426. (Islamic Calendar)
11 Dey, 1384. (Persian Calendar)
11 Pausa, 1927. (Indian Civil Calendar)
Nivose, II du Duodi, 214. (French Republican Calendar) (Mayan Long Calendar)
Tochtli, Atl, Cuauhtli. (Aztec Calendar)

A good book to read about the history of the Gregorian Calendar is 'Calendar' by David Ewing Duncan.