Friday, October 30, 2009


should have been born on another day, since that would mean that I, who shares his birthday, wouldn't have to spend it laboring over a keyboard putting in the several hundred links that will tie the next issue of Otoliths, due out in about 33 hours, together.

Still, we're going out tonight for dinner, to a fairly new Vietnamese—yes, this place is getting a little bit more cosmopolitan—restaurant that sits (almost) on the riverbank. & the night will hide the normal cruddy, muddy color of the water, & there'll be lights reflected in it, & for a while we can imagine we're in another city, in another country, by another river.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

MAF Biosecurity New Zealand (MAFBNZ) and the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) today confirmed that a series of New Zealand and European laboratory tests on a single New Zealand sheep brain have detected the condition atypical scrapie (also known as Nor 98).

Atypical scrapie/Nor 98 is a relatively recently discovered brain condition of sheep and goats that is quite different from the classical form of scrapie.

Neither atypical scrapie/Nor 98 nor scrapie is known to pose any risk to human health or the safety of eating meat or animal products.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I used

to buy from Amazon because it was pretty much the only way, in this town of the solitary bookstore, to get the books I wanted. Sure, when you took into account the exchange rate & the cost of shipping, it was probably more expensive than ordering them locally, but I didn't mind that impost &, in many cases, I got the books weeks before they became available in Australia.

These days, with the Australian dollar closing in on parity with the greenback, it's cheaper to import than it is to buy locally. The rule of thumb for local booksellers, I read recently, is to double the U.S. list price & that becomes the $AU price. With Amazon having pre-order discounts, buying from there, even with shipping charges included, means that I'm paying somewhere around 2/3rds of what the book would cost locally.



Monday, October 26, 2009

Today the
postman brought
me Indiana
Jones & The
Walking Frame

Saturday, October 24, 2009

who's a pretty luddite, then?

I have just been forced to decline a poem for Otoliths, not because I didn't like it—I do—but because it made liberal use of wingdings, & I've discovered that coding for wingdings produces nonsense characters on machines using any other browser than IE. &, as the graph below demonstrates, that's the majority of visitors to the site.

I did a search for the reason for the gibberish, & found:
For Windows, browsers such as Internet Explorer and Netscape 4 that are not standards-compliant allow non-Unicode fonts such as Wingdings to be specified in HTML or CSS, to enable additional special characters to be displayed. Specifying Wingdings font is contrary to the published specifications, has never been a documented feature of HTML, is not reliable, and should not be done.
My normal default is to view in IE when I post stuff; but I've found over time that the robustness of HTML in IE is not always echoed in other browsers. Usually it's small stuff—forgetting the semi-colon at the end when you're coding for spaces still shows as a space in IE but displays the actual code in Firefox. Occasionally it's a bit more complex, when, for example, there's a passage with a number of tags to it—say italics + bold + underlined + font face + font size—which can be closed in any order in IE & produce the desired result, but which have to be closed in a mirror sequence to their opening to get what you want in Firefox. These errors are generally picked up when I put up the page for the contributor to check, but I've had Firefox loaded for a couple of years to be able to check things if I need to.

But I don't like Firefox. Not for any aesthetic reason, just the fact that proponents of the browser display an almost religious zeal in their advocacy. They remind me of adherents to the theory of creationism, proselytizing that Firefox is a true example of Intelligent Design. Which fits with.....
"Most Americans do not accept the theory of evolution. Instead, 51 percent of Americans say God created humans in their present form, and another three in 10 say that while humans evolved, God guided the process. Just 15 percent say humans evolved, and that God was not involved." (CBS poll, 2005)
Looks like I'm out on my own here.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Today the
postman brought
me the catalog
raisonné of a
Flemish Master
who doesn't
yet exist. I've
his creations
with the names
that are listed in
the catalog. I'm
still working on
his creation, am
using that fictional
detective from
Los Angeles as
his working name.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

Issue six

of Pinstripe Fedora, guest-edited by Raymond Farr, is up.

It contains work by Michael Farrell, Thomas Fink, Thomas Fink & Maya Diablo Mason, Daniel Y. Harris, Christine Herzer, John Lowther, Henry Rasof, E.K. Rzepka, James Sanders, Paul Siegell, Matina L. Stamatakis, harry k stammer, & Mark Young.

Great director, great cast, great movie!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Last summer,

it was a category 4 cyclone chugging down the coastline with its attendant threat to move inland at some point during its progress. Fortunately it didn't: the city received a bit of rain & some fairly strong winds, but nothing else.

The year before it was two floods a month apart. Again we were lucky. The lagoon enlarged itself & redefined "the bottom of the street", but we're on a hill, & it was only the low-lying flood plain areas & a few houses that were built on them that went under.

The year before that, a mini-tornado started up about five kilometers away, described an upside down J in its ten kilometer passage, with hyper-winds that tore branches off trees—& occasionally tore down entire trees—but which caused no structural damage to the house though it left us with a bill for over $1000 to have someone cut off the broken branches & clear away the fallen ones.

I may be a year out with that last one. But the first of the two years that either proceeded or bracketed it was extremely hot & dry, & the other was filled up with a long sequence of afternoon tropical thunderstorms.

Six years we've been here, & every summer has been different from the others. This summer—&, yes, I know it's not even summer yet but it may as well be—we're having the worst bushfires that have been recorded in these parts since Europeans settled here the better part of a couple of centuries ago.

There are two ways to build in a flood-prone area. If you build on the flat, then you raise the house well up from the ground, the traditional Queenslander, where the area underneath the house is also great for escaping the heat. The other way is to build on higher ground; & so, over the years, there has been an ever-increasing encroachment on the lower parts of the range of hills that separates the city from the sea. Once the lower slopes have been built on, then the area behind is next for development, & each new area backs upon the bush that covers the hills.

The hillsides behind the houses are reasonably inaccessible; there's the odd walking path, a single road up to the top of the highest point, a few dry creek beds. In other words, it's mainly forest, rarely cleared. & extremely dry. The average total rainfall for the six months May through October over the last 70 years is 200mm. This year it's around 20mm. Add to that a week of what's been described by the Bureau of Meteorology describes as "erratic winds".

We're across the river, well away. But it's a small city, & we're close enough to have ash cover the front porch, to be able to clearly see the fires when we drive down the road. So far there's been no loss of human life, but there's been property damage, loss of domesticated livestock, & probably significant loss of the native fauna that inhabits the area. There have been evacuations, both main roads to the coast have been cut a different times, & one is likely to be again if the fire keeps on going. Fire breaks have been created to protect the built-up areas, but there's still a lot of bushland to provide fuel.

& I'm left wondering what natural disaster is going to occur next summer.

The local daily newspaper has a gallery of fire images here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Today the
postman brought
me a trans-
passenger liner. I
tried to sail it
in the lagoon
at the bottom
of the street but
when I got it there
it wouldn't budge,
something to do
with Newton's
fourth law of
motion which, in
précis, posits
big fish / big
pool. I've decided
to leave the
liner where it is,
open it up as
an hotel. The
pelicans are pissed.

an aspect of incense

Monday, October 12, 2009

Let me just say

that, not being a revhead, I don't understand a single reference in the post/poem below. Beast!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

a found postman poem

Yesterday I
ordered the
tranny parts off
monster garage, &

today the
postman brought
me my dirt-
bones—they look
beast—& my
novarace head
which is a very
nice piece of
machining. Now I
just need my wasp
for it to go on.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Combinatorics, anyone?

In mathematics, the four color theorem, or the four color map theorem, states that given any separation of a plane into contiguous regions, called a map, the regions can be colored using at most four colors so that no two adjacent regions have the same color. Two regions are called adjacent only if they share a border segment, not just a point.
(Image by MIT OCW.)

Friday, October 09, 2009

Today the
postman brought
me the Noble
Piece Prize plus
a sac(k)full of
requests from
the many
penis enlargement
companies I've
dealt with
over the years.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

geographies: Martha's Vineyard

He went into a
hair salon to
get a trim, ended
up walking out
with a bob. Now
he is including
straight bar curls
in his arms
routine. The
prior art has
always shown
that broken or
cracked ribs
from an Italian
             will never fill
          the harbor
beyond Edgar-
town Lighthouse.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

The 2009 Ig Nobel Prize Winners

The aim of the awards is to honour achievements that "first make people laugh and then make them think". The Ig Nobel Prizes were presented to the winners by genuine Nobel laureates. The ceremony was organised by the magazine Annals of Improbable Research.

Veterinary medicine: Catherine Douglas and Peter Rowlinson of Newcastle University, UK, for showing that cows with names give more milk than cows that are nameless.

Peace: Stephan Bolliger, Steffen Ross, Lars Oesterhelweg, Michael Thali and Beat Kneubuehl of the University of Bern, Switzerland, for determining whether it is better to be smashed over the head with a full bottle of beer or with an empty bottle.

Biology: Fumiaki Taguchi, Song Guofu and Zhang Guanglei of Kitasato University Graduate School of Medical Sciences in Sagamihara, Japan, for demonstrating that kitchen refuse can be reduced more than 90% in mass by using bacteria extracted from the faeces of giant pandas.

Medicine: Donald L Unger of Thousand Oaks, California, US, for investigating a possible cause of arthritis of the fingers, by diligently cracking the knuckles of his left hand but not his right hand every day for more than 60 years.

Economics: The directors, executives, and auditors of four Icelandic banks for demonstrating that tiny banks can be rapidly transformed into huge banks, and vice versa (and for demonstrating that similar things can be done to an entire national economy).

Physics: Katherine K Whitcome of the University of Cincinnati, Daniel E Lieberman of Harvard University and Liza J Shapiro of the University of Texas, all in the US, for analytically determining why pregnant women do not tip over.

Chemistry: Javier Morales, Miguel Apatiga and Victor M Castano of Universidad Nacional Autonoma in Mexico, for creating diamonds from tequila.

Literature: Ireland's police service for writing and presenting more than 50 traffic tickets to the most frequent driving offender in the country - Prawo Jazdy - whose name in Polish means "Driving Licence".

Public Health: Elena N Bodnar, Raphael C Lee, and Sandra Marijan of Chicago, US, for inventing a bra that can be quickly converted into a pair of gas masks - one for the wearer and one to be given to a needy bystander.

Mathematics: Gideon Gono, governor of Zimbabwe's Reserve Bank, for giving people a simple, everyday way to cope with a wide range of numbers by having his bank print notes with denominations ranging from one cent to one hundred trillion dollars.

The 2007 Ig Nobel Prize

Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Mao ficcione

Mao Zedong as he
is now known
started the Long March
with 100,000 followers
& three movies. When
they reached Shanxi
there were only
8000 people &
one movie left. Loss of
faith, starvation, accidents
& the continual harrassment
by Jiang Jie Shi’s
Guomindang army
accounted for the attrition. The
two movies — The Battleship
& Les Enfants du
— were lost when
a landslide carried
the mule that was carrying them
away. Stagecoach was the
only one to survive; but,
fortunately, the pedal-powered
generator that provided
the electricity also
made it through un-
scathed. It is said
that by the end of the
March all the survivors
knew every word of the script
by heart. There is a poem
of Mao’s that starts:
“The long shadow
of John Ford
guards the entrances
to the Shanxi Caves.” That
Zhou Enlai who
drove the generator
is equally revered is
evidenced by the number
of bicycles in China today.

from Calligraphies (xPressed, 2004)

It was 60 years ago today

Chairman Mao taught the band to play.....