Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Love to Hate Politicians

We all love to hate politicians and the government.  A friend shared this newspaper article from the Sydney Morning Herald on Facebook.  Another sign of insider scoops and political corruption.  What a surprise.  Has the feel of the fine old adage:

How do you know when a politicians lying?
their lips are moving.

So, here we go:

Coalition's 'tent city' trip funded by logistics company that provides tents

Date
Jonathan Swan

Jonathan Swan

National political reporter

Abbott's Nauru plan questioned
Questions over funding for media coverage and capacity for asylum seekers have clouded Tony Abbott's plans for using Nauru as a key centre for off shore processing.
A logistics company that stands to profit from the Coalition's ''tent city'' on Nauru funded the trip of its immigration spokesman Scott Morrison to the remote island to announce the plan to house up to 2000 asylum seekers in tents.
The trip to Nauru was facilitated by Toll Holdings, which has multimillion-dollar contracts to help handle asylum seekers and is understood to have chartered the flight to Nauru for the Coalition and a journalist and photographer from News Corporation.
Tony Abbott and opposition immigration minister Scott Morrison. Tony Abbott and opposition immigration minister Scott Morrison. Photo: Jason South
Contacted on Tuesday morning, Mr Morrison's office had no policy documents to accompany the announcement, and a spokeswoman advised reporters to get their information from what had been reported in News Corp newspapers. Mr Morrison later issued a news release with broad details of the policy.
''My understanding is that the trip was wholly privately funded,'' Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said. Asked whether Toll paid for it, he said: ''Look, it's wholly privately funded, and there's no reason whatsoever why it shouldn't be funded in that way.''
Fairfax Media is awaiting a response from Toll Holdings.
The Coalition has announced a plan to massively expand the tent accommodation on Nauru. The Coalition has announced a plan to massively expand the tent accommodation on Nauru. Photo: Angela Wylie
Allan Asher, a former Commonwealth ombudsman, was critical of the arrangement: ''I think at any time of the year that would be a questionable thing, but in the context of elections, it just makes it an entirely inappropriate thing to do.''
Toll Holdings has contracts with the Department of Immigration valued at about $26 million.
This is not the first time a company has funded media travel to Nauru.
Illustration: Ron Tandberg. Illustration: Ron Tandberg.
In 2011 the trucking baron Lindsay Fox loaned his private plane to Mr Abbott, Mr Morrison and a media group - including Fairfax, News Limited and the ABC - after the government refused Mr Abbott the use of government VIP jets.

with Matt O'Sullivan and Bianca Hall

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/coalitions-tent-city-trip-funded-by-logistics-company-that-provides-tents-20130730-2qws3.html#ixzz2aZTLpqNz

River Fleetathonic - London, UK


London’s Fleet River, runs, not surprisingly, under Fleet Street, and actually goes quite a way.  What is interesting of course, is that it is completely underground, with quite a history and checkered past.  I recall being gobsmacked when I found out about the Fleet and had a look on-line – pretty damned fabulous.

The stuff below here is from a site called London's Lost Rivers.  There's a good slide show of photos and it the Fleet River, and also heaps of other info on other rivers (obviously) with plenty of good shots right through the site.

London's Lost Rivers - The River Fleet

River Fleet Sewer Outfall under Blackfriars Bridge
Outfall under Blackfriars Bridge

The source of the Fleet were two springs at Hampstead Heath separated by Parliament Hill– one on the western side near Hampstead and one on the eastern side in the grounds of Kenwood House. Each spring feeds a line of ponds on either side (the Hampstead Ponds to the west and Highgate Ponds to the east). They were built as resevoirs in the 1700’s. These sources joined together in Camden Town and flow under Kings Cross. From here the Fleet flows down the valley of Farringdon Street, finally falling into the Thames beneath Blackfriars Bridge.

The River Fleet is the most well known of London’s subterranean rivers and is known to be used in Roman times as a major river with a tide mill in its estuary. The word "Fleet" is derived from an old Anglo-Saxon word flÄ“ot meaning "estuary, bay or inlet". The Fleet once was a broad tidal basin several hundred feet wide. The higher reaches of the rivers flow were known as the Holbourne (or Oldbourne), from the word Holburna (from where the name Holborn was derived  from) meaning hollow stream, referring to its deep valley. A large iron bridge called The Holborn Viaduct ,opened by Queen Victoria in 1840, spans what is known as the Fleet Valley.

King's Cross was originally named Battle Bridge, referring to an ancient bridge over The Fleet where Queen Boudicca’s army is said to have fought an important battle against the Romans in 60 AD and  80,000 Britons are said to have been slaughtered here. Rumours are that Boudicca is buried undeneath a platform  of Kings Cross railway station which is perhaps, no more than an urban myth….

The Fleet ran beside St Pancras Old Church nearby to the present day railway station of the same name. It was one of Europe’s most ancient sites of Christian worship possibly dating back to the early 4th century. The present church building has been here since the 11th or 12th Century. A board on the entrance railings the Church show a drawing of bathers in the Fleet in 1827. During 1865 an architect called Thomas Hardy, who later became famous as a novelist and poet, was overseeing the careful removal of bodies and tombs from part of the churchyard on which the Midland Railway line was being built. The headstones around this Ash Tree in the remainder of St Pancras Churchyard were placed by Hardy as part of that project and still exists in the churchyard to this day.

In Roman & Anglo Saxon times the Fleet was a major river but the flow of the river was greatly reduced as London grew in population as local industry waste (such as remains of carcasses from  the adjacent Smithfield Market) and human waste polluted the river by the 13th century. The lower section of the river was now known as the Fleet Ditch by this time and was little more than a large open sewer. In 1710 Jonathan Swift (author of "Gullivers Travels") mentioned the filth in the Fleet during a storm in a poem:

"Sweepings from Butchers Stalls, Dung, Guts and Blood,
Drown'd Puppies, stinking Sprats, all drench'd in Mud,
Dead Cats and Turnip-Tops come tumbling down the Flood"

The surrounding area became undesirable and became notorious for its closely packed slum dwellings bad characters & diseases. Charles Dickens based Fagin’s Den in “Oliver Twist” in this area.  The cheap land became a popular location to build prisons. Most of the prisons of old London including Newgate, Clerkenwell, Ludgate, Fleet & Bridewell prisons were in the Fleet Valley. The introduction of the cholera into Clerkenwell Prison, in 1832, was attributed to the effluvia of the Fleet,
Aside from the tales of pollution a more positive aspect of the Fleet is that a large number of wells were built along the banks of the Fleet and reputed to have healing qualities. These included Chalybeate Wells, St Chads, Clerks Well & Bagnigge Wells. As a result, the Fleet was often  nicknamed the “River of Wells” with some of these wells surviving until the 19th century.

Following the Great Fire of London in 1666, extensive building work took place including St Paul's Cathedral by Christopher Wren. He went on to convert the lower reach of the Fleet into what was then known as the New Canal based on the elaborate Grand Canal in Venice. The mouth of the Fleet was broadened to a width of forty feet and flanked with great wharfs for unloading coal and traversed by four new decorative bridges, at Bridewell,  Fleet Street, Fleet Lane, and Holborn. The torrent of pollution from upriver, which was still basically an open sewer, caused the canal to be a failure. It became choked with mud and was no longer navigable. Several people  had fallen in and been suffocated in the mud resulting in sections being covered over from 1732. The development of the Regents Canal covered the river in King's Cross and Camden from 1812. The  construction of the Metropolitan line in 1862 railway buried the Fleet along Farringdon Road although the river created problems later that year when the sewer burst causing a large section of the arches lining the tunnel to collapse. Over a hundred years later It almost gave its name to a tube line, but since its opening coincided with the Queen’s silver jubilee in 1977, the Fleet Line was named the Jubilee Line.

The final upper section of the river was covered when Hampstead was expanded in the 1870s. The Fleet now exists as a large underground sewer.

More pictures taken along the course of the River Fleet can be found on the Author's Guided Walks section on this website.



River Fleet - Headstreams on Hampstead Heath

The article below comes from a website of British History Online and is from an old book published in 1878.  There are some page reference in the piece that are from the original book, so I haven't added the actual pages referenced in this article.

THE FLEET RIVER AND FLEET DITCH

 

The name of this ill-used stream, once fresh and fleet, now a mere sluggish and plague-breeding sewer, is traced by some to the Anglo-Saxon fleotan, "to float;" and by others, to the Saxon fleot, or flod, "a flood." The sources of the river Fleet are on the high lands of Hampstead and Highgate, and the chief of them rise near Caen Wood. The Fleet was fed by the Oldborne, which rose, says Stow, "where now the Bars do stand," and ran down to Old Borne Bridge, and into the River of Wells or Turnmill Brook. The Fleet was also fed by all the springs of Clerkenwell, such as Clerkenwell itself, Skinner's Well, Fogg's Well, Tod's Well, Loder's Well, Rad Well (near the Charterhouse), and the Horse Pool, at Smithfield.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Quotes - Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker didn't really seem to have a happy life.  Although she had some success writing film scrips, living the time in a hotel/live-in which was pretty popular during her time, she was unlucky in love and suffered bady from depression.  Her passion was poetry, which didn't go very well for her either, being a fan of Sylvia Plath wasn't exactly an uplifting style to follow.

There's a book I read on her which was pretty good, an biography called Dorothy Parker: What hell is this? by Marion Meade. There's a precis and what have you on it at Goodreads




Dorothy Parker  “Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone."
                Dorothy Parker  (from Goodreads Quotes)

 “Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone.”
Dorothy Parker

 “If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.”
Dorothy Parker

“The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue.”
Dorothy Parker 

“This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.”
Dorothy Parker, The Algonquin Wits

“I like to have a martini,
Two at the very most.
After three I'm under the table,
after four I'm under my host.”
Dorothy Parker, The Collected Dorothy Parker 


 “Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses.”
Dorothy Parker

 “It serves me right for putting all my eggs in one bastard.”
Dorothy Parker, You Might as Well Live: The Life and Times of Dorothy Parker 

“If you wear a short enough skirt, the party will come to you.”
Dorothy Parker

 “I require three things in a man: he must be handsome, ruthless, and stupid.”
Dorothy Parker

 “That woman speaks eighteen languages, and can't say 'No' in any of them.”
Dorothy Parker, While Rome Burns

  “Take me or leave me; or, as is the usual order of things, both.”
Dorothy Parker

 “That would be a good thing for them to cut on my tombstone: Wherever she went, including here, it was against her better judgment.”
Dorothy Parker

 “If I didn't care for fun and such,
I'd probably amount to much.
But I shall stay the way I am,
Because I do not give a damn.”

Dorothy Parker, Enough Rope





Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Bollox, I'm never going to get this undone

The essence of Knot Theory

Every time I get out my mp3 player, no matter how properly I've wound up the cord, I bugger it up.  It unwind it, but the second I grab the other end to stick an earbud in, it's caught on something.  A button, my collar, knotted on itself before I can even finish putting it back in my pocket, or just putting in an earbud.  Same with the laptop cord, take it out of the bag, plug in one end, then I always, have to unravel it again.  The conspiracy is true, everything I touch turns to pooh for a reason.

Yep, you got it.  Some mathematician has been as frustrated as me and worked it out. The theory is self explanatory Knot Theory, sometimes also referred to as Tangle Theory which seems to go much more into dealing with dimensionsThis is not to be confused with String Theory (that I think is more like Tangle Theory, I'm getting confused here where they may be some cross-over?) which deals with extra dimensions, which, frustrated Einstein no end.

Apparently there are a couple of mathematical components which together bring all this together to emerge with this complete Tangle Theory.  There's a pretzel link and a pretzel knot (you got, it is really called 'pretzel', although naming a mathematical theory as an item of food sounds intriguing).

One part of the theory is extracted from the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which simply put translates to the chaos thing where all order tends towards disorder.  Sounds like a contradiction in terms to me.  So, we're told the next bit is 'complicated'.

I found this vid from Youtube really good.


.
 If you're keen, it carries on here in Part 2.  I found it much more complicated, but having said that, I'm find dealing with dimensions really difficult to get my head around.

Not Knot (Part 2/2)

I've tried to find a couple of articles here which are for the untried mathematician or physicist, that would be me, so it's something I can comprehend.

Good luck with this, and happy reading!  Below is an article from 'Bend Weekly'.
Dec 21,2007

More reading:

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Quirkathonic: Soprano Extraordinaire update

Fliegende Bauten 

Character: Mischa.
Photographer: Velibor Lukic.

Please note:  This photograph is copyrighted and not for distribution or public use. 






Authorthonic

I have decided to put up cool quotes that come up from books I read.  I generally note them down whilst I'm in the middle of a book, thinking, I'm going to be especially articulate and awesomely witty by dropping this into a conversation.  Like you do, I never remember to drop them in the right places.  But hey, I think about it.  Of course, sometimes I just can't be bothered to pick up a pen and paper to get it together and jot one down, so there will be some sad (RIP) quips I've let drift away into the stratosphere.

I've tried to link these to the author's facebook or blog page.

If I really get it together, I'll come back and put a bit of a brief precis and comment beside the book.  

"When the only tongue you're getting is from your cat...it's time to get out more."
Dannika Dark - #1 Sterling (Mageri Series)




"I shrieked incoherent made up swear words as the pain stopped messing around and bent me over and made me it's bitch."
Nicole Peeler - #2 Jane True Series

I added this cover, just for the aesthetics, love the manga look and the colours a great.







"Fashion is for the ugly and insecure.  I am only interested in style, and of course, sex."
Tracey Sinclair - #2 Wolf Night (Dark Dates Series)

"...he looked great, in fact, the love child of Jesus and Jim Morrison."
Tracey Sinclair - #2 Wolf Night (Dark Dates Series) 

"...hard to be perfect, but it's a burden I've learned to cope with."
Laurell K Hamilton - Anita Blake Series

I really can't remember where this ones comes from, I'll have to try and do a bit of research on it.  For an insult, how does this one take you (pun intended):
"...why don't you go look it up on shoveitupyourarse.com."

 






Thursday, 18 July 2013

Australian Magpie-athonic


The morning calls of the maggies are awesome to wake up in the morning.  Australia has the most singing birds on the planet and are thought to be where song birds originated from.  Youtube has some really good stuff on them.  Magpies are pretty clever and have been know to learn words, mimic sounds and when found damaged and adopted by people make quite good friends.  Taronga Zoo have trained a couple of them and we have seen them taught to pick up paper and put it in the bin.



Here's a bit of a feeding frenzy, most of these wild birds get used to you and regularly come back for a free feed.



They're also renowned for getting pretty aggressive in mating sason!

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Edgar Allan Poe-athonic

For a movie of one of Edgar's pieces, I didn't find this too bad, and if you love a bit of almost-goth, this is pretty good.  It didn't actually get good reviews, but I liked it.  There's one scene where Ligeia answers the door after getting out of the shower, and has a laugh at someone else's expense - the way she laughs, I just love it!  There is an older version of this movie in black & white with Vincent Price.

Here is my favourite song through the beginning of the trailer with Sofya Skya, and then the video shows scenes from the movie.




The earlier version with Vincent Price.



Below is another movie with Vincent Price in. He did a few more Edgar Allan Poe movies.  Here is The Fall of the House of Usher shown below.



And below we have The Raven.




And below The Pit and the Pendulum.




Friday, 12 July 2013

Cave-athonic: Naica, Chihuahuan, Mexico & Jenolan Caves, Australia


Naica mountain in the Chihuahuan Desert

This has to be one of the most amazing, awesome-athonic things I have ever seen in my entire life.  I haven't seen it in the flesh, although I have been to the World Heritage Jenolan Caves a couple of times.  Great and a fair bit of Australian history there, with a whole bunch of caves.  Incredible too, the total, complete absence of light in the caves, which stay at a pretty constant temperature all year around.

This material comes from a National Geographic article, and the photos are marvellous.

This bit here with facts about the crystals in the caves comes from an article from Discovery

Interesting Facts about the Crystal Caves:

  • The giant crystals found in the caves at Naica are softer than a human fingernail.
  • The largest crystal found at Naica is 500,000 years old.
  • The stunning crystal pillars are made from the same common mineral as drywall - it's called gypsum.
  • The Naica cave's deadly heat comes from the depths of the Earth. Naica sits on a set of fault lines. A magma chamber a mile and a half down warms the water that flows throughout the mountain.
  • The Naica principle cave "Cueva de Los Cristales" is 45 degrees Celsius and 100 per cent humidity.
  • The Naica facility pumps 16,000 gallons of water per minute out of the mine and runs 24-7.
  • The water pumped from the Naica mine formed a lake in the arid Chihuahua desert and is also used to irrigate a golf course.
  • Naica is one of the most productive lead mines in the world, and a huge supplier of the world's silver as well.
Anyway, get a geeze of this.




At the very bottom, I've put up another piece regarding Australia's World Heritage Jenolan Caves.

Giant Crystal Cave Comes to Light


National Geographic, September 26, 2006
Four amateur explorers have discovered a giant, crystal-filled cave in California's Sequoia National Park that scientists are hailing as a major find.

Only a small portion of the cavern has been explored so far. But researchers say they have already found several large chambers with a variety of formations, including thin curtains of minerals several feet tall, slender "soda straws" up to six feet (two meters) long, and sheets of glimmering crystals on the cave's floors and walls.
Explorers have also found animal remains, including the skeleton of what resembles an ancient bear. That find inspired researchers to name the cave Ursa Minor—Latin for "small bear" and the name of the Little Dipper constellation.
The cavern was found on August 19 by members of the Kentucky-based nonprofit Cave Research Foundation, which has been surveying the park in search of new cave complexes.
Scientists don't yet know how large the Ursa Minor system is, but they say they have already seen enough to believe it could yield many new insights into the ancient past of the U.S. West.
"There are things in the cave that could really open windows into our knowledge of geologic history and the formation of caves throughout the West," park cave manager Joel Despain told the Associated Press.
"We're just beginning to understand the scientific ramifications of this."
Blake de Pastino



Jenolan Caves, Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Australia 


This is a pretty area, and the Caves are set down in a hollow between a couple of mountains, nice windy roads on the way down. These caves are the world's oldest, and there is a really extensive network.  It's a really good place to go for a long week-end with plenty of walks and pretty scenery.  There's a lot of caves there with a good many open for guided walk throughs.  They also hold a few music concerts in the caves with easier access and good acoustics.





Wednesday, 10 July 2013

X-ray spex - Stockwellathonic


This vid is dedicated to my other half, to when we lived in Brixton, where we met going to a party.  Go South London!  And also to my friend Linda - excellentathonic.


Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Maruspialathonic - Australiana Faunathonic


The land of marsupials.  Just so you know, marsupials are beasts that once they birth a minuscule live baby usually only the one. The baby claws it's way round to a pouch, where thy generally have teats are etc.  Then they develop there, have their milk theirs, and grow up a little there.  And, just to amuse you, a baby echidna is called a 'puggle'. How cool is that?

An puggle vid from Taronga Zoo in Sydney from Youtube.  Totally cute as a button, awesome!




Here's a bit of an explanatory article from Australia Life.

Marsupials

Marsupials evolved in North America, found their way to South America, and then into Australia via Antarctica when the southern continents were joined as Gondwana. In Australia they diversified to fill many niches. Most of the 140 species of marsupials in Australia are found nowhere else in the world; some of them are also found in New Guinea which was connected to Australia in more recent geological times.
A marsupium or pouch is one of the features that characterise marsupials although not all have a permanent pouch and a few have none at all.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Koalariffic

Koala's are renowned for being that cute cuddly things from trees.  A distinctive part of marsupials and Australia.  Of course they can also be pretty vicious, and you've got to be pretty good to see one in the wild.  They've got sharp claws, and particularly strong legs and arms to climb trees at a good clip.

To avoid predators, koalas generally try to stay in trees, susbsisting on particular types of leaves from eucalyptus trees. The point of trivia here is that koalas don't usually drink any water at all, getting all the sustenance they need merely from their leafy diet.  Source:  Koala Information

They're one of those beasts, that like the goanna, when threatened on the ground, that will run for the nearest thing that goes up.  And if you're there and the closest thing they'll leave you well scratched and clawed up.  Anyway, here's a pretty good love story from the Sydney Morning Herald.

Love in a time of bushfires: a koala's story

Date 
 
Thirsty Koala gets a drink
Last week CFA firefighter, Dave Tree, found an injured koala. 'Sam' accepted a bottle of water and is now recovering at a wildlife centre.
(This is a video I loaded up from Youtube.)


A love story between two badly burned koalas has provided some heart-warming relief after days of devastation and the loss of over 180 lives in Victoria's bush fires.
The story of Sam and her new boyfriend Bob emerged after volunteer firefighter Dave Tree used a mobile phone to film the rescue of the bewildered female found cowering in a burned out forest at Mirboo North, 150 kilometres south-east of Melbourne.
Photos and a video of Mr Tree, 44, approaching Sam while talking gently to her, and feeding her water from a plastic bottle as she put her burned claw in his cold, wet hand quickly hit video sharing website YouTube, making her an Internet sensation.
A koala named Bob (top), rescued from last week's deadly bushfires, puts his paw around new friend and fellow fire survivor Sam as she recovers from her burns at a wildlife centre near Melbourne. A koala named Bob (top), rescued from last week's deadly bushfires, puts his paw around new friend and fellow fire survivor Sam as she recovers from her burns at a wildlife centre near Melbourne. Photo: Reuters
But it was after reaching a wildlife shelter that Sam met and befriended Bob, who was saved by wildlife workers on Friday, two days before Sam, in Boolarra, about 180km from Melbourne.
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Mr Tree, who has been a volunteer firefighter for 26 years, said it was extremely rare to get so close to a koala so he asked his colleague Brayden Groen, 20, to film him.
"You can how she stops and moves forward and looks at me. It was like a look saying: 'I can't run, I'm weak and sore, put me out of my misery,' " Mr Tree said.
"I yelled out for some water and I sat down with her and tipped the water up. It was in my hand and she reached for the bottle then put her right claw into my left hand which was cold so it must have given her some pain relief and she just left it there. It was just amazing."
Inspiring love story
Sam was taken to the Southern Ash Wildlife Shelter in Rawson. Her story was reminiscent of a koala named Lucky who survived the 2003 bushfires that destroyed about 500 homes and killed four people in the capital of Canberra. Lucky became a symbol of hope.
Colleen Wood from the Southern Ash Wildlife Shelter that is caring for Sam and Bob said both koalas were doing well while other animals like possums, kangaroos, and wallabies were also starting to emerge from the debris.
She said Sam had suffered second degree burns to her paws and would take seven to eight months to recover while Bob had three burned paws with third degree burns and should be well enough to return to the bush in about four months.
"They keep putting their arms around each other and giving each other hugs. They really have made friends and it is quite beautiful to see after all this. It's been horrific," said Wood.
"Sam is probably aged between two to four going by her teeth and Bob is about four so they have a muchness with each other."
Ms Wood said about 20 koalas had been brought into her shelter in recent days, several of whom had bonded as koalas are known to clump together, but none had garnered the same attention as the new internet star Sam.
Mr Tree, a volunteer with the Country Fire Authority Victoria, has visited Sam since her rescue and was delighted to see she had found a boyfriend in Bob.
"They've really taken a shine to each other as they are both burned and share the same burned smell," he said.
"My heart goes out to the people in these fires and this was so innocent so people have used this to distract them from all the sad stuff that has gone on. It gives people a bit of hope."
Reuters