Hot Buttered Death

I wanna die just like Jesus Christ... with the radio on


Sunday, November 03, 2002

Thursday, October 24, 2002

Please note all posting at this URL has ceased. Please change your bookmarks accordingly to the following address:

http://hotbuttereddeath.blogspot.com/


Monday, October 14, 2002

Tim Dunlop takes advantage of a lull in the sniper killings to take on Tim Blair.

...without giving an inch in terms of our outrage against terrorist attacks like this, isn't it incumbent upon all of us to also examine the circumstances under which such things happen? What is wrong with saying that it is our involvement on the American side of the "war on terror" that makes us vulnerable to such attacks? Isn't that actually what you yourself said? What is wrong with questioning that involvement and wondering if we can insulate ourselves against such attacks? What is wrong with pointing out the inadequacies and hypocrisies of Howard and his minister's responses?
Keep the discussion fierce and committed, but let's not turn this latest act of terrorism into another excuse to unpack the usual ideological baggage. It's more important than that.

I'm with that. We have enemies, even I know that, and they are not the people who write to or for the Herald. They're not placing bombs outside packed nightclubs.

Tim Blair links to this story by Dewi Anggraeni, who says this:

Given the fact that the first bomb exploded near the US consulate, it is very easy to draw the conclusion that the attack on Kuta was designed for Australia, because of Australia's open support for the US push for war on Iraq. Kuta is one of the most favoured holiday resorts for Australians. And, yes, it's true that the Howard Government's official stance may not endear Australia to many, especially Muslims, in Indonesia.
But having said that, Australia's support for the US war on terrorism has not been a big enough issue to preoccupy Indonesians. It would be a big jump to conclude that the second bomb in Kuta was aimed at Australians.

I actually agree with that. This bomb was not placed to specifically target Australians; it was placed to target Westerners (frankly, the explosion of the first bomb at the US Consulate should indicate as much). By the same token, though, it was not placed by Indonesians as such; it was placed by terrorists (who probably were Indonesian, to be sure, but this is not an Indonesian issue we're dealing with). Blair uses this latter statement, nonetheless, as justification for refusing to contemplate the idea proposed by the Herald letter and editorial writers who he so venomously loathes that our government's support for the War On Terror™ had something to do with the attack (without really providing any other explanation that I can see for why it happened). Tim D, though, reckons Tim B

even makes a tacit acknowledgement that the letter writers are correct in their assessments. He himself acknowledges Howard's position, and the thrust of his "analysis" is that Howard is right to oppose terrorism and that we just have to stand up to such attacks. So he actually agrees with the letter writers who obviously make the same connection between the bombings and the wider "war on terrorism" of which we are part.

Tim B's right on one count: those people arguing we should keep out of things are wrong. Whether or not Australians were specifically targeted in this attack, Australians were killed in it. Some sort of action has to be taken... I just don't know what. Tim D reproduces a pretty scathing editorial on the matter from Crikey doubting our ability to do anything. And I'm not really convinced the US will be much help either. W. is presently girding his loins for war in Iraq anyway, but apart from that I seem to recall Australia being left to lead the proceedings in East Timor when shit blew up there three years ago:

President B.J. Habibie announced on September 12, 1999, that Indonesia would accept a U.N. peacekeeping force for East Timor. Although some in the Indonesian parliament called for a ban on the involvement of Australia, the United States, New Zealand, and Portugal, Habibie did not impose any conditions on the makeup of the U.N. force.
The UN force was led by Australia and consists of troops from Australia, Britain, Thailand, and several other countries. U.S. involvement was limited to about 200 troops who provided communications and logistical support.

So I'm afraid I'm not terribly confident that the US will make too great an effort in Indonesia either. The only thing that gives me much cause for hope is that their consulate was attacked, even without casualties arising. It's a hideous situation whichever way you look at it, complicated by the fact that as yet we still don't know who was actually responsible (the JI group are being widely credited, but I don't know if there's any specific proof yet), and I don't see it being resolved easily even when we do know who we're after. Christ, it's no wonder I hate humanity as much and as often as I do...


Sunday, October 13, 2002

Slight bit of tweakage to the Celluloid Dreams ad... had it at the top of the page, but have now moved it into the column at right. Don't forget to listen in.


OY. I don't know what the fuck was up Blogger's arse there, but that's the first I've been able to update the site in five hours. I've posted, and Blogger's insisted it was publishing the changes, but this is the first (at about 10.20pm) that they've actually appeared on the page. I have SO got to get webspace where I can install Movable Type...


TEST?????


All right, Blogger, you cunting piece of shit, why has my blog page not been updated for the last hour and a half?


Theodore Dalrymple not impressed by Jeffrey Archer's prison diaries.

Completely worthless from the literary point of view, and relentlessly banal in thought, observation and analysis, they are nonetheless revealing: of Lord Archer's mind and personality rather than of the prison system. And to be privy to Archer's mind in full cry is a depressing experience indeed.




Multibabel! A fantastic new way to mangle the English language. I processed my post on Enter The Dragon (below) and got this:

It enters the flight that the red red deers are present in the game of the television. Nevertheless it clears - lheo of the noises of a certain way that the remarkable person of Brushes it could produce the hell of Santo. Protection straight-line some these faces expressions on the other hand, special approximately in center of film, where the Hara kills or ' when it jumps in the relative registry and the right of the camera, to return the face relative to an association from Bologna, when it has.

BOLOGNA????? Where the hell did Bologna come into it?


The Middle East's cola wars.

In Morocco, a government official estimates sales of Pepsi and Coca-Cola could fall by half in the north, a stronghold of Islamic groups. In the United Arab Emirates, sales of the local Star Cola are up by 40 per cent over the past three months.
The Islamic cola companies say this is an easy way for Muslims to punish US President George W. Bush for his Middle East policies.

Yeah, the soft drink manufacturers of the Western world must be crying into their Cokes over the loss of all this revenue. They'll just have to hope all those tens of millions of people in non-Islamic states who consume their products will be enough to tide them over.


Fighting fire with fire.

Under lentivirus research, the genetic parts of HIV that make it dangerous are removed so that it can't attack immune cells or even reproduce to affect other cells. Instead, researchers replace the bad parts of HIV with therapeutic genetic material. In effect, the virus is turned into one big delivery truck that unloads genetic medicine.
In diseases such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and other disorders of the central nervous system, lentiviral therapy might be tailor-made to suppress or stop the disease.
Since the lentivirus can't reproduce itself, it can affect only the cell into which it penetrates. In disorders with a localized origin, such as Parkinson's disease, thousands or millions of converted HIV vectors would be sprinkled or infused onto disease spots to affect a genetic change.

I don't know what to say to that except "whoa". I still don't quite understand how one disease can be turned around to fight another like that, but I'm sure they know what they're up to...


Michael Jackson, ape abuser?

Michael Jackson and his family practiced a bizarre ritual in which they sacrificed a live monkey. This is just one of the allegations made by sister LaToya Jackson's former husband, Jack Gordon, who has penned The Jackson Family: The True Story Of The Most Powerful Family In The Music Industry. The book comprises the oddities Gordon claims he witnessed when he was brother-in-law to the "King Of Pop." [...]
Jack Gordon and LaToya Jackson married in 1989 and ended their relationship in 1997 amid allegations that he physically abused her.

Ye Gods. Look, Jacko is weird but that just seems to me to be beyond the pale even for him. I just wonder what corroborating evidence brother Gordon intends produce to support himself, or is he just relying on the innate desire people seem to have to believe the worst about a person without caring about the truth or likelihood of the story...


Philip Marchand on cultural terrorism.

At one point in the evening Simic showed a video of a documentary by Norwegian filmmaker Knut Gorfald, titled Burned Books, a deeply disturbing account of the shelling of the Bosnian National Library in Sarejevo in August 1992, by Serbian nationalists dug in the hills surrounding the city. The shelling, and the fire it caused, destroyed thousands of priceless manuscripts and books, as well as gutting a historic and beautiful building.
It was an act of cultural terrorism, which New York City was at least spared. As bad as Sept. 11 was, it left New Yorkers with their morale intact. They mourned the 3,000 dead — but no one mourned the World Trade Center. It was missed, of course. People who had gotten used to seeing those monumental buildings in the city skyline took a long time before they adjusted to the shock of their absence. But this was nothing compared to the emotional and spiritual loss the people of Sarajevo felt for the assault on their National Library, which was a cultural symbol as well as an important landmark and institution.

Actually, several thousand photographs of John F. Kennedy and his family were destroyed in the WTC attack, or rather their negatives were. Of the 40,000 negatives stored in the vault at the WTC, only three or four hundred were printed. Those negatives may not be as old as some of the manuscripts and things in the Bosnian Library, and their loss may not have been deliberately planned like the attack on the latter, but I daresay it would be considered by many to be a similarly irreperable piece of cultural vandalism. That aside, Marchand has some good points, and it's worth reading.


That'll teach these cows to shit in public.

Some locals in Bovill, Idaho, believed cows belonging to Lloyd Hall were responsible for the mess on their streets and lawns.
They became so irate that about 50 marched into city hall on to demand some action.
Mr Hall, a 77-year-old former mayor, complained that somebody had corralled seven of his herd and he wanted them back.
City Councilman Phil Stradley later confirmed that he and other residents had loaded five of the unbranded cattle onto a truck and taken them to a livestock pen as stray cows.

In other words, all they've done is remove the cows to another council-owned area where they'll still have to clean up the mess anyway. Can we say "pointless waste of time"? And what about the two unaccounted-for bovines?


Pakistan blow chunks.

All sorts of records tumbled in the calamity. It was Australia's biggest victory over Pakistan, and the Pakistanis' worst defeat by any team. Their two-innings total of 112 also was their lowest in 50 years of Test cricket. Australia were on their game but by any judgment, Pakistan were abysmal with the bat.

Of course this just means Australia's usual arrogance about the greatness of its international sportsmen will be worse than ever. I'm really not looking forward to this year's cricket season.


Cleaning up the auction business.

When the auction bell rings on a Saturday afternoon, you can often step outside and stumble upon a show full of emotion, greed, and good old-fashioned bluff.
But, according to some real estate agents, this free street theatre is under threat, with tough new legislation designed to make the auction system more transparent introduced into parliament last week.
Going are the dummy bids, with the legislation banning vendors or agents from planting people in the crowd to drive up the price.

How exactly are they going to police that? Go round and talk to everyone at the auction? "Excuse me, sir, have you been planted here by the agent to call out and jack up the price? No? OK, then, sorry to have troubled you..."


Enter The Dragon is on TV at the moment. Holy hell but Bruce Lee could produce some remarkable noises. Just watch some of those facial expressions too, particularly about midway through the film where he kills O'Hara by jumping on his chest and the camera just takes a close-up of his face while he does it.


Fancy a free copy of Glenn Gould playing Bach's English Suites? I have one already, otherwise I'd find this tempting.


Illegal Art : Freedom of Expression in the Corporate Age. At a time when copyright and intellectual property laws are being argued in court, here comes a great looking exhibition defying them. If you can't attend the festival you can watch the film component online. There's a CD available too, freely downloadable from the site in mp3 form so you can burn it yourself; hilariously, many of the tracks are used without their creators' permission. Best of all, it restores Buchanan & Goodman's "Flying Saucer" to circulation, the original and still rather marvellous sample epic; if you allow for the fact that it was made in 1956, it's a remarkable piece of work. I'd heard of it before but never actually heard it, so was surprised at how advanced it was.


Micro$oft announces umpteenth security flaw of the year.

"Outlook Express ships with every Windows system, or rather as part of IE, so it's on every system. But unless it is configured to receive mail, you are not at risk," said Scott Culp, manager for Microsoft security response.

What the hell else would an email reader be configured for? Making toast?


Saturday, October 12, 2002

Chinese court values woman's sex life at two thousand dollars or so.

In a civil case celebrated in the Chinese press as a "breakthrough from traditional moral values", the judge said the unnamed woman's right to sex was an important aspect of her right to good health.
The defendant who caused the crash had already agreed to pay her husband, identified as 41-year-old Mr Zhang, 150,000 yuan for his injuries, but refused to pay her anything because she was not directly hurt.
But China's new sexual liberation has its limits as shown by a woman who sued her husband for 100,000 yuan after discovering he was homosexual.
A wire service reported the case was thrown out because China's civil law made no provision for homosexuality. It was noted the unnamed woman would have been entitled to compensation if her husband had run off with another woman.




This is appalling.

An Australian Muslim has been threatened with dismissal for taking 10 minutes off work to pray.
The Australian Industrial Relations Commission said on Thursday it had received a complaint from Lebanese Australian Kamal El-Masri against his internet industry employers over a threat to sack him unless he stops praying during work hours. [...]
"I'm the last person to be a racialist," Sydney tabloid The Daily Telegraph quoted TPG general manager Julie Jules as saying.
"I just can't have people taking breaks whenever they want. We run a business here."

Er... it's not a matter of him going off when he wants, I don't think, Julie. Nice way to give that famous Australian reputation for tolerance a serve. Even the not especially Muslim-friendly folks at Silent Running are disgusted, as they should be.


The mystery of the NZSO porn CD explained. It's actually not half as fun as I'd thought. I was under the impression someone had put pornographic stuff on the disc itself, but no, 'twas just the titles that were rude when they appeared in computer-based media players.


Politician quits after TV ad makes him look like a "gay hairdresser". Would he be complaining as much if it made him look like a straight hairdresser instead? Ted Barlow had a pretty good post on this the other day from both sides; neither Democrats nor Republicans come away untouched. Like he says, "Is there any wonder that people hate politics?"


Ban on sex toys struck down as unconstitutional.

An Alabama law banning the sale of sex toys was struck down by a federal judge as a violation of the right to privacy.
He said the state did not prove it has a legitimate interest in banning the sale of sex devices for use in private, consensual relationships between adults.
The 1998 law - part of a package of legislation strengthening the state's obscenity law - banned the sale of devices designed for "the stimulation of human genital organs."

I'm surprised they didn't try to ban the use of hands while they were at it...


Via Tim Dunlop: Google to start demanding money? Tim offers his thoughts on the subject here, amidst his usual updates on the sniper business.


Interview with Morrissey.

Anyway, he can still afford to live very comfortably. He has a house in Ireland, but lives in Los Angeles, off Sunset Boulevard, in a house built by Clark Gable for Carole Lombard. I ask if he lives next door to Johnny Depp, as the press always says. "No, he lives next door to me."

HA! "To someone, somewhere, oh yeah, Steven Patrick matters in mind, body and soul, part and in whole..."


This may be the least helpful thing I've read about the Washington sniper yet.

There are echoes of a movie in the sniper shootings. In a 1993 movie, Malice, a thriller starring Alec Baldwin, his character, a surgeon, says: "You ask me if I have a God complex?" He pauses before declaring, "Let me tell you something: I am God!"
I am God. The same three-word declaration of psychopathic egomania appears on a tarot card found by police at one of the shootings. It may be unrelated to a forgettable film, but for this disturbing fact: Malice aired on a cable network only four days before the tarot card was found.
Related or not, the killer's brazen means of communication puts a chilling real-world spin on an ancient device in fiction, the "signature", a distinctive mark left by a character to announce some misdeed or just his presence.

Nice work, fuckwit. You've just given ammunition to wowsers and hysterics everywhere who are convinced entertainment is sending the world to hell in a handbag and inspiring idiots like the Washington sniper.


Coppola ready to shoot On The Road at last.

Francis Ford Coppola is close to realising his dream of following his Godfather trilogy and Apocalypse Now by filming On the Road, Jack Kerouac's epic 1957 novel of the Beat Generation.
Billy Crudup and Brad Pitt are being lined up to star in the film, which will be directed by Joel Schumacher. Coppola has held the film rights to On the Road, thought by many to be unfilmable, for many years.

I don't think it's unfilmable. I just don't think it'll make the sort of film Hollywood likes. The book is too episodically structured, and I have this terrible fear it'll just get shoehorned into a coherent plot and narrative that simply isn't there in the text. Apart from which, it's quite possibly several decades too late for it. I daresay that had it been filmed around the end of the 1950s (as Kerouac's other book The Subterraneans was) it would likely have ended up a pretty bad film (as The Subterraneans apparently is, I've not seen it), but it would at least have been made at the proper time. I don't know if the 21st century is really the time for it... and then there's this:

Just who will play Carlo Marx, based on Allen Ginsberg, or Old Bull Lee, the William Burroughs character, is uncertain, although Bob Dylan could be a candidate for either role.

Oh God no.


So Jimmy Carter got the Nobel Peace Prize. Predictably enough, not everyone is happy with the decision. Perhaps they would've preferred Yasser Arafat to win again? Or Kofi Annan and the UN? I think politicising the award as they did was unwise on the Nobel committee's part, but surely there's a lot of stupider choices that could've been made as the recipient...


As I said yesterday, "If you are reading this message, CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! It means you have clearly visited this website at a time when it's actually been accessible!" Fucking ANS server wasn't responding for SEVEN HOURS there. And that was as well as the three or four hours it appears to have been down overnight too. I'm getting pretty fucking sick of this.


Friday, October 11, 2002

I'm taking the advice Peter Kerr offered to advertise that radio show I co-host which I glancingly allude to here from time to time. Not so sure about adding the naked woman (none of the naked women I have on my hard drive are really suitable for a family-oriented blog such as this) (family-oriented? Which family is it oriented towards, the Manson family?) (oh, piss off) but I've wired the ad into the top of the page. Do tune in.


Interview with B.R. Myers.

Here's my theory. Many people want to set themselves off from the Grisham-reading herd, but they don't want to read a classic because they're afraid someone will say "Bleak House? God, I did that back in college." And they know they'll get even less cachet from reading an old novel like Caleb Williams that no one's heard of. So they buy the latest prize-winner, which is easily recognized in the office and subway as the "better" kind of book, and then they read it, secure in the knowledge that thousands of the "better" people across the country are reading it at about the same time. I'm sure they genuinely enjoy this sense of intellectual community, even if they don't enjoy the actual book. But remember: they don't have to enjoy it. They're allowed to say that it isn't their cup of tea, or that they found it heavy going. What they mustn't do is differ with the "better" consensus and dismiss the book as bad. Only philistines like me do that.

There's numerous other interesting things in the interview. Looks like I might need to keep an eye out for the book.


Ideological clashes over at Silent Running? Murray Hill bows out as cryptically as his brother Bruce:

It is also clear that a couple of the other members of the team are uncomfortable with my declining to express unqualified and unconditional support to Israel so now would be a good time for me to withdraw before I'm accused of anti-Semitism as well as poor spelling.

I'm just wondering what Murray could've done to merit such an accusation, apart from evidently thinking for himself...


May I direct your attention to this site? I found Jeff Cooper's site the other day on my regular rounds, someone (I forget who) had linked to this post of his called "Off the deep end". I had one of those "My God, he speaks the truth" moments when I read it. It articulated the same sort of things I was vaguely pissing and moaning about this time last week, only somewhat more clearly. Jeff has since followed that with a longer post. I've added his blog to the links over there, but thought I'd give him the additional plug as well.


Erik Tarloff on Glenn Gould's two Goldberg Variations. The 1955 and 1981 recordings have been boxed together with one of Gould's infamous interviews. This annoys the hell out of me (as does Tarloff's assertion that the 1981 Goldberg was Gould's last recording; for that, see his Siegfried-Idyll recorded about 15 months later) since I already have both recordings, although apparently both are spruced up fantastically for this new release. It's tempting, though. This paragraph sums up everything:

Peter F. Ostwald's book about Gould tells us that by the end of his life the pianist was a physical wreck, with many muscular and skeletal problems impeding his ability to perform. I don't question it, but neither do I hear any evidence of it in his second recording of the Goldbergs. I do hear something else, though. I hear a brilliant musician who has become so reclusive, so sealed off from and frightened by human connection that he makes interpretive choices that stubbornly eschew sensuous appeal. An ascetic who would rather risk repelling listeners than risk inviting them in. A thinker who writes both sides of an interview because he can't bear to subject himself to questioning, even when it's sympathetic questioning from a knowledgeable admirer. The personal tragedy of Glenn Gould's last years is embedded in this performance, encoded in every bar.

If you only have one Glenn Gould album then it should almost certainly be the Goldberg Variations. This sounds like a set worth investing in if you don't already own it.


JR to get shot again.

Regency Enterprises, a production company based at Twentieth Century Fox, is striking a seven figure deal to turn the primetime soap opera "Dallas" into a feature film.
"I like the idea of doing it for the 21st century, with a new cast," series creator Dave Jacobs told Daily Variety.
"We've got a new take on it. It's a much bigger canvas today and it belongs up on the big screen. Before people would have been interested in who is screwing each other. Now it's the national crimes that are affecting everyone. The conflict is still about family conflicts, but the stakes are higher now. That's the thing that excites me about it."

I'm still waiting for the bit where I wake up and find the above bit of news was just a dream.


Pravda just gets stranger and stranger. Was it ever like this under the Communists? Or would they have stopped the Pravda staff from reading the likes of Velikovsky and Horbiger?


Serial dentist caught at last. YIKES. I'm not sure what's scarier, though, him or this guy:

James C. Hill, a nurse anesthetist in Oklahoma City, told health officials he reused needles and syringes up to 25 times a day to inject pain medication through intravenous tubes at a pain management clinic in Norman and two surgical centers in Oklahoma City.




Some good stuff at Blogcritics today:

Michele Catalano reflects on the death of John Lennon.

Eric Olsen's fascination with toilets is getting disturbing.

Kenan Hebert's not convinced by the new Wilco movie. I'm not convinced by the album, so not sure how I'll like the film. I'll give it a go if it ever screens here, but I'm not hearing great things.

Jennie Rose looks at Lost In La Mancha. Now I really regret missing this at the Sydney Film Festival.


Margaret Atwood sues Canadian paper. That's what you get for calling her a mere genre author... all right, it's nothing of the sort.


Via John Quiggin: William Safire blasts the polygraph. One of the great arguments I heard against lie detectors was when they tested one on a mental patient labouring under the delusion that he was Napoleon or something. The doctors wired him up and asked him, was he Napoleon. The patient replied no. The polygraph indicated that the patient was lying.


By the way, Jason, for what it's worth, this doesn't annoy me at all. Thanks for alerting me to it.


Via Jason Soon: Andrew Sullivan on why we need less self-esteem. Like Jason says, there is an at least slight irony at work there; Sullivan's own self-image is apparently strong enough that he believes people will readily contribute money to him if he puts in a "tipping point" and "buy my books" bit. Still, his point about making sure we don't let feelings of self-worth get out of kilter with reality is not a bad one.


Should the Victorian government be subsidising Paul McCartney's concert there? This sounds a bit suss to me. I heard about the forthcoming McCartney show here and was frankly bewildered as to why he was only doing one show in Melbourne; why not make the expense of the trip worthwhile and do the other capitals too? It would seem this is why...


If you are reading this message, CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! It means you have clearly visited this website at a time when it's actually been accessible! Godfucking damn ISP's servers were having trouble yesterday and it looks like more trouble ahead today. I am really unimpressed. However, at least I can still blog, even if you can't read it and I have to make test messages just to get the fucking thing to load properly on my own screen...


Thursday, October 10, 2002

What should the first words from Mars be? I suggest two options:

1) "HOLY LIVING FUCK!!!!!"—the words actually uttered by Neil Armstrong, according to The Onion's Our Dumb Century, or
2) Nothing. What I've always envisaged is that you'd have your astronauts land on Mars, like happened on the Moon in 1969. They would climb down the ladder of the landing module. And once they were on the surface, the "Blue Danube Waltz" would be played to them from the orbiter, and back to mission control on Earth. The two astronauts would dance the waltz without saying a word. Then, at the end, they would get back into the module, fly back up to the orbiter, and begin the long journey back to Earth immediately. It's the most fantastic and complete waste of billions of dollars I've ever been able to conceive of.


Leonard Nimoy publishes new book. To be called Actually I Take That Back, I'm Not Spock After All... oh all right, no it isn't. Possibly just as well, too, cos with this picture on the cover you could frighten people off:




Smuggler caught hiding monkeys in underpants.

A SMUGGLER is facing up to a year’s jail after hiding two MONKEYS in his underpants on a 17-hour flight.
Robert Cusack, 45, flew 8,200 miles from Thailand to Los Angeles with the rare 10ins pygmy monkeys next to his crotch. [...]
The monkeys are now in LA’s zoo. Prosecutor Joseph Johns told a court in California: “The little critters were in surprisingly good condition.”

Presumably no one was game enough to ask whether he meant the monkeys or Mr Cusack's testicles...


Dave Tepper coins a marvellous new word. Here's the definition he provides, from an earlier post:

It's not agnosticism, because I think it is at least logically possible that we can discover whether a god exists. And it's not your standard atheism; although I don't believe in gods, I'm equally unwilling to go out on a limb and say there is no god. What I'm saying is is that the question of divine existence is off my radar screen. It's so irrelevant to me that I'm not even going to bother trying to answer it one way or the other.

Spot on. "Apatheist" is now part of my vocabulary.


Canadian fisherman lucky to be alive after discovering giant Alka-Seltzer. There are only two words I can say about this item: "idiot fish"?


Aileen Wuornos executed, offers incomprehensible last words.

When the curtain in the death chamber opened at 9:29 a.m., Wuornos lifted her head and looked at the audience with a surprised expression before making her final statement.
"I'd just like to say I'm sailing with the Rock and I'll be back like Independence Day with Jesus, June 6, like the movie, big mothership and all. I'll be back,'' Wuornos said. The Rock is a Biblical reference to Jesus.

I've never thought about what I'd like my last words to be, but I hope they'll be slightly less strange than that.


Now THIS is what you call an apology and retraction.

The story "Filipino-American history recognized" stated that the "Nuestra Senora de Buena Esperanza," the galleon on which the first Filipinos landed at Morro, Bay, Calif., loosely translates to "The Big Ass Spanish Boat." It actually translates to "Our Lady of Good Hope."
Parts of the story, including the translation above, were plagiarized from an inaccurate Web site.

Here is the story of how that remarkable feat came to be. Astonishing stupidity at work here.


Mark David Chapman denied parole for John Lennon's birthday.

At his first parole hearing two years ago, Chapman said he did not deserve to go free. He will be up for parole again in 2004.
Chapman, 47, is serving 20 years to life for shooting Lennon outside his Manhattan apartment in 1980 as the former Beatle returned from a late-night recording session.
Transcripts of the latest hearing were not immediately available. At his parole hearing two years ago, Chapman said: "I believe once you take a person's life, there's no way you can make up for that. Period."

There was a discussion of the possibility of Chapman going free on the Mojo music boards, and I seem to recall someone saying Chapman doesn't want to go free because he knows there'd be too many people gunning for him (literally) once he was past the prison gate. Me, I just think if the prisoner himself doesn't want to seek parole and probably still won't want it the next time his appeal comes round, why make him reapply for it...


Art museum's worst nightmare comes horrifyingly true.

A 15th-century marble statue of Adam by the Venetian sculptor Tullio Lombardo crashed to the ground in the Velez Blanco Patio at the Metropolitan Museum of Art sometime Sunday evening, scattering its arms, legs and an ornamental tree trunk into dozens of pieces.
The statue's fall—a museum's nightmare—was confirmed yesterday morning by museum officials, who said they had delayed an announcement for a day while a preliminary investigation took place. The indoor patio, originally located in a castle in Spain, was screened off to the public yesterday as curators combed the tile floor for fragments. The museum barred news photographers from taking pictures, even from the balconies above.
Harold Holzer, the museum's chief spokesman, said the museum has now tentatively concluded that the 6-foot-3-inch statue fell to the ground when one side of the 4-inch-high base of its pedestal apparently buckled, tipping over both the pedestal and statue.

This detail, though, further down the page, is staggering:

The pedestal beneath the Adam was described as four feet high, and about two feet deep, made of medium density plywood, packed in layers but hollow inside. The bottom of the pedestal rested upon the square four-inch-high base, of which one side apparently gave way under pressure.

Plywood? And hollow? What the fuck were these people thinking, leaving a marble statue of that size on a hollow base?


Australian film culture under threat again. Nice to always be able to trust the government to act in the best interests of Australian performers and creators, eh.


High art to the rescue of journalism?

Times policy, like that of this paper and many others, forbids the manipulation of news photos, such as the blurry images that were the best available shots of the former Rwandan minister, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko. So the magazine had one of them turned into a more striking blurry painting, on the principle that fine art can rework reality any way it pleases, without answering to issues of journalistic ethics.




Romanian man fed up with democracy applies for asylum in Iraq. Yow. I know that right-wing demagogues like to say things like "if you like the other side so much, why don't you move there", but this is a bit silly...


Hundreds of university students score zero after filling exam papers with porn.

Suranjan Das, vice-chancellor, told the Times of India: "We will show the answer scripts to the parents of the students who failed to score a single mark.
"Some students do score zero every year, but poems and love stories in answer scripts is a new feature this year."

Mr Das did not say whether he would be trying to find out precisely why over six hundred students all chose to crash and burn in this manner. For his sake that better also be a "new feature".


Sure enough, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Although compared to the immortal J.W. Bobbitt, this guy got off lightly.


Ken Parish advises of the return of Stephen Hill, an OzBlogger I hadn't previously known (and who, until the other day, hadn't posted since August). Could be a good one for the blogroll.


Ralph Nader won't rule out US election rerun. Marvellous. All they need is for Ross Perot to throw his ten gallon hat back in the ring and 2004 could be fun in the US.


Tim Dunlop continues to post about the latest bout of shooting madness in the US. In another post he ruminates upon the terrorist connection quite a few commentators seem keen to draw:

Although a number of people have suggested the terrorist connection, none has put the case with such certainty as Isntapundit (careful on the spelling). I think the latest revelations (tarot card etc) mitigate against this, and I didn't think it highly likely in the first place, but you can't rule anything out, I guess. Still, it's hard to figure why some people are so keen for it to be terrorists. Spleenville has this rant and concludes that even if it isn't terrorists she has hurt anyone by saying that it is. Well, except the facts.

I agree. Consider this comment from Andrea:

Why can't we even speculate that the shootings that are occurring in Maryland right now might be acts of Islamicist terrorism?

I'm still not convinced that we have to automatically speculate that they are. It could well be some Muslim idiot with a gun. It could equally well be some non-Muslim idiot with a gun. In all of America's fine history of mass murders and serial killings, how many of them have been the result of Islamic terrorist plots?


I am this close to putting a bomb under my ISP at the moment too. The site was down for a couple of hours overnight, it's down again as I type this and the mail server was inaccessible for a few hours too. It doesn't happen very often, I'll give them credit for that, but when it does happen it gets fucking old very quickly.


Can I possibly be the only person having unspeakable issues with Yahoo mail at the moment? Seems that every other time I try to log in to check it, it freezes my browser and at least twice now it's given me the Blue Screen of Death as a result. Even having switched back to the old version of the mail site from the new beta design (which I thought was what was fucking things up for me, as the old version never gave me such problems) isn't helping.


Joyce Millman dissects The X-Files.

Making its US premiere on September 10, 1993, The X-Files starred the little-known David Duchovny as a flaky FBI special agent, Fox Mulder, and the unknown Gillian Anderson as the level-headed special agent (and medical doctor) Dana Scully. [...] Helped along by the ecstatic buzz among its Web-savvy fans, who called themselves X-philes (this may have been the first show to find its audience growth tied to the growth of the Internet), it soon broke out of its cult status.

Not that quickly, though. In 1995 I was doing a class with Ross Harley called Global Grooves (all about new media and shit like that), and I remember him opening one class with the words "Pop culture quiz! Who's Gillian Anderson?" No one in the class knew. When he mentioned The X-Files there was a collective "oh yeah, that" from the class... we knew the show, but I don't think Gillian Anderson still quite registered with us...


British media gagged over Gaddafi death plot allegations.

The British media have been gagged from reporting sensational courtroom evidence of former MI5 spy David Shayler, including his alleged proof that the British secret service paid $270,000 for al Qaeda terrorists to assassinate Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 1986.
In its efforts to contain Mr Shayler's allegations to the privacy of the court, the government has even stopped the media from reporting its successful attempt to win a gag order.

So successful were these efforts, of course, that the Australian media were able to report them on the other side of the world. Let's see how long this evidence remains secret.


Peter Kerr of the Bitchin' Monaro Guide has a long post here on the subject of community radio in response to Scott Wickstein's praise of the ABC. Given that I work in community radio myself (as Peter notes, 2SER keeps me off the streets and has done for nearly three years), this obviously interested me, so here's my own response. And I advise you, this is going to be a long one.

Peter starts by mentioning 2MBS, which is based around classical music much like the ABC's Classic FM; regarding which, he makes this comment:

Why would you fund a state owned radio station when a network of community stations can provide the same service at no cost to the taxpayer? Such a network would also provide more locally orientated content than an ABC coming out of Sydney.

Peter would probably be interested to know that MBS actually already is that network (of sorts) that he postulates. I believe ArtSound FM in Canberra has or had some connection with them, though to be sure I can't find any reference on the site. Either that or I'm getting them confused with another station in Canberra. But there's 3MBS in Melbourne, 4MBS in Brisbane, and 5MBS in Adelaide (no website). Although each of these operates separately in different states, they are all affiliated with each other as the Fine Music Network.

Peter then mentions FBi, which he hopes will also give the ABC's Triple J a run for its money. I'm hoping it does, too; actually 2SER are kind of nervous about FBi as well (to the point where there was a semi-official directive ordering 2SER volunteers not to present on FBi as well as 2SER; an outrageous statement, but let's not go into that here). I enjoyed the test broadcast I heard and I think it has the potential to be the sort of station Triple J used to be before it went national at the end of the 1980s. Indeed, I was hugely excited when I heard they'd got the permanent license in May last year, signed on as a member, even planned a music show... sadly, though, that enthusiasm has cooled quite severely.

I'm not going to go into the details of the community radio licence battles. Here's the Australian Broadcasting Authority's report on the licence allocations, outlining why they gave out the licences they did and also why the other applicants failed, particularly Wild FM. That was May. I applied for membership around the beginning of June, just after the licence was awarded to FBi. According to my journal from last year, my membership card finally arrived on December the 5th. The card itself was dated October 22nd. Meaning that 1) it took them nearly four months to process my twenty dollar cheque for membership and 2) it took over a month to actually send the thing. In the intervening time, I'd had exactly one communication from them; the week before getting the card, I got a letter announcing their AGM was happening on December 19th. The website had been down for months. When the site finally returned, there was bugger all on it.

I went to the AGM, where we heard the station's tales of woe with the people from Wild FM. I won't go into detail because I don't know the legalities of the situation, but let's just say Anthony Gherghetta from Wild wasn't taking defeat lying down and had actually tried to get an injunction against the AGM taking place. Obviously it did take place so he must've failed. So we heard about all this, and I gathered that FBi hadn't exactly been bludging all that time, although it still didn't explain the non-communication... and no other explanation was offered, so I left the meeting highly dissatisfied. Since that time, I think I've received two email updates to let me know what's going on. And what's going on? Near as I can tell, nothing. Last I heard they were moving to new premises in Alexandria. They seem to have let the fbiradio.org.au domain lapse, and the site hasn't been updated in months.

The station should've been on the air at the start of last June under the terms of the licence, though I gather they got a special dispensation from the ABA to extend those terms. Apparently FBi should be up and running late this year. It's now October. My membership lapses in a fortnight, and I'm not yet convinced as to how worthwhile it'd be to renew it. Don't get me wrong, I want FBi to do well, even though in some ways they're competition for the station I'm currently with. But my enthusiasm for them is not what it once was.

Finally, Peter says this:

I say free up the airwaves. Give a community license to every and any group who aren't actively involved in sedition - there's plenty of room on the dial for everyone. Those people who ring up ABC talkback everyday, and no matter what the topic of discussion manage to link it to mandatory detention, could have a community station all their own - All Asylum Seekers, All the Time! The conservatives could have their stations too, though if there's no ABC there'll be a lot less for them to talk about. Everyone could have the radio they want and at almost no cost to the taxpayer.

Sadly there isn't enough room for everyone, and there are in fact a very limited number of viable spaces on the radio band. Every radio station has its own footprint, or geographical reach. Commercial networks tend to blast out high-powered signals that cover an entire city area. Community broadcasters have weaker, more geographically circumscribed signals. For comparison: the ABA guide informs me that 2DAY and Triple M and Nova (commercial Sydney FM stations) all broadcast on 150 kilowatts of power. The ABC and Triple J and SBS radio run on 60kw. 2MBS runs on 50kw. 2SER runs on 14kw. Most of the AM radio stations here seem to broadcast on 5kw. 2RSR broadcasts on a mere 200 watts, which explains why you probably can't pick it up more than a few feet from the station.

All fine and well. Now, in Sydney Triple J broadcasts on 105.7 MHz. In Newcastle they broadcast on 102.1. BUT... just as you can sometimes pick up the TV signals from Wollongong on the box, you can still pick up a trace of the Newcastle signal here in Sydney. So that rules out that frequency for use by a station based in Sydney because the signals would clash. Plus radio signals tend to smear a bit along the band. 2SER broadcasts on 107.3 MHz, and that's the point on the band where the signal is clearest. But I can still pick up traces of the 2SER signal all the way up to 107.0 at one end and 107.6 at the other. At the latter point it begins to clash with whatever the hell station it is I'm picking up at 107.7.

So the footprint of a given station has to be taken into account whenever a frequency is allocated for use on the radio band. The ABA has to decide where on the band they can let a station broadcast, and also how powerful its signal can be so that it doesn't clash with anyone else. In an ideal world 2SER would be receivable only on 107.3 MHz, which would let another station broadcast on 107.2 and another on 107.4. Unfortunately the technology as it stands doesn't let us do that.

Peter then goes on to mention TV, but I've talked long enough here as it is so I'll shut up. (Did I just hear a cry of "Yay!" go out across the world?)


More items from the referrers...

This sounds nasty. This just sounds terrifying.

This confuses me. Does the searcher think Islam is full or shit, or Jerry Falwell is full of shit? I'm betting on the latter, though.

I don't have any of these. Will live ones do instead?

What the fuck?

I daresay, too, that the people of Germany would like to paraphrase Mark Twain here and state that rumours of their country's death have been greatly exaggerated.


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