March 27, 2006

Edited For Net Nanny

From my favourite bit of the Sydney Morning Herald, the strange-but-true section:

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Situated in an elegantly restored house beside Beijing's West Lake, it is China's first speciality p*nis restaurant.

Here, businessmen and government officials can sample the organs of yaks, donkeys, oxen and even seals. In fact, they have to, since they form part of every dish - except for those containing t*sticles.

For beginners, Ms Zhu recommended the hotpot, which offers a sampling of six types of p*nis, and four of t*sticle, boiled in chicken stock by the waitress, 22-year-old Liu Yunyang.

The Russian dog was first. It was julienned, and rather gamey. The ox was the most recognisable, even though it had been diced. Its texture seemed identical to gristle.

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A professor whose car collided with a tree after he suffered a cardiac arrest was brought back to life when the impact of the steering wheel against his chest restarted his heart.

"I had the kind of heart attack that causes people to drop dead. I lost consciousness within a few seconds. My front-seat passenger tried to grab the handbrake but was unable to do so and my car crashed into a tree."

"Although I was wearing a seatbelt the impact caused me to jolt forward and hit the steering wheel. It split in two but the blow restarted my heart."

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The Bruintjes family have chosen a ring for their computer-controlled doorbell that mimics their dead German shepherd.

Council officials of the town of Oldenzaal near the German border came to the conclusion there was an unregistered dog in the house after ringing the bell while the family was out.

"Last year we had great difficulty convincing the inspector that we did not have a dog, and now we are back in the same situation again," Gerrit Bruintjes said.

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A woman who weighs 16 kilograms, stands less than a metre tall and uses a wheelchair has given birth to her first child.

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(16kg! My god! Sock only weighs 16kg!)

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March 26, 2006

It Could Be Worse

... I could have been infested with Guinea Worm!

Ogi is one of the last areas of Nigeria infested with Guinea worm, a plague so ancient that it is found in Egyptian mummies and is thought to be the "fiery serpent" described in the Old Testament as torturing the Israelites in the desert.

For untold generations here, yardlong, spaghetti-thin worms erupted from the legs or feet or even eye sockets of victims, forcing their way out by exuding acid under the skin until it bubbled and burst. The searing pain drove them to plunge the blisters into the nearest pool of water, whereupon the worm would squirt out a milky cloud of larvae, starting the cycle anew. - nytimes.com

eeeeewww! mwwwaghh! bleuuuuukk!

and here I was feeling all miserable because of a sweaty night's sleep and too many bills...

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March 25, 2006

Revenge Is Sweet

An exasperated father has discovered to his cost that cyberspace is not the ideal arena for family feuds. Two weeks ago Steve Williams became so fed up with his daughter's messy bedroom that he built a website featuring pictures of his slothful offspring's lair in an attempt to shame her into action.
But the public humiliation proved a short-lived victory. While it did spur his daughter, Claire, into tidying up her room, it also whet her appetite for revenge. With the help of her father's friends, the 20-year-old business student has now set up a rival website that displays photos of him in a variety of compromising situations.

"All my friends feel sorry for Claire so they're ganging up on me," said Mr Williams, of Whitehaven, Cumbria. "They've managed to dig out photos of me drunk and dancing round with a handbag at a party, and also put pictures of my garage on to show it's not just Claire who's untidy. - guardian.co.uk

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March 22, 2006

It Happens

For centuries the Bedouin people have married close relatives. The genetic fallout is terrible - people born with no eyes, with no skin on their skulls, with twisted limbs, mental retardation. There is now a big effort going on in Israel to identify and reach out to families affected, to provide testing and counselling. I found this bit especially interesting:

Muslim religious leaders have been drafted to help educate the members of the group about genetic problems, speaking out about the dangers of marrying relatives and increasing awareness of genetic testing and counseling. The imams also let families know that under Islam a woman can abort a fetus up to four months for health reasons. - nytimes.com

Did you know that about Islam? (Or that interpretation of it, anyway). Compare and contrast with Catholics and American Fundamentalists...

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An Iraqi insurance company has started offering the world's first off-the-shelf terrorism insurance. For about $90, you can purchase a policy that pays your survivors about $3,500 if you get blown up by bombs, soldiers or weapons of war.

$3,500 isn't that much, even in Iraq - about a year's salary for a policeman. But since Iraq doesn't have any government-type infrastructure, you can see why it's an attractive option for people.

Amazingly, the company offering the insurance has yet to pay out on a single claim!

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March 18, 2006

Bodyshopped

I see Body Shop has sold out to L'Oreal for 652 million pounds, which makes me feel like Body Shop are showing truer colours than usual. Not Tested On Animals my ass. What they mean is, they don't use ingredients that were tested on animals after 1990. Using older technology doesn't mean they are less cruel, just that the cruelty isn't recent.

It annoys me that companies are slammed universally for animal testing. It's required by law for goodness' sake! To develop any new ingredient for approved commercial use it has to go through a rigorous process that involves animal and human trials. The only real way to avoid animal-tested drugs, cosmetics, cleaners and so on is not to use them, or to make the products from scratch yourself (not a recommended approach. Homemade soap will take the skin off along with the dirt). What I do think is that many animal tests are needlessly and heedlessly cruel, and that should be stopped.

This, from the Guardian:
Body Shop will be granted access to L'Oreal's research and development programme.

Asked if the Body Shop can continue to be an ethical, campaigning business under L'Oreal ownership, [Body Shop founder] Mrs Roddick said: "There's only one area we challenge [in relation to L'Oreal's policies], and they have a great statement about what they're doing on the issue of animal testing, or what they're trying to do ... I'm too old, I'm too smart, to give it away for it to be destroyed".

L'Oreal has not tested its cosmetics on animals since 1990, but continues to test new ingredients on animals, as required under European law.

It said it aims to phase out the use of animal testing within 20 years.

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March 13, 2006

9 Grandpuppies

2 girls, 7 boys, mum and babies doing well. A good mix of brown- and black- and-whites. I am strongly considering keeping the black-and-white female pup.

Haven't been online very much down here, just cruising. I like Chch. It increases my determination to move somewhere non-hilly asap. Wellington is all very well but it's also all very vertical. Flat land increases my desire to exercise.

My mates Leigh and Dave are such wicked people. I'm staying in their spare room at the moment and it's great to catch up with them. You know how some people have a real knack with making guests feel very welcome? They're like that.

Reading: - everything. Harry Potter, Chopper, Elizabeth George, coverless books from forgotten bookshelves.

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March 03, 2006

Spink Spink Spink

I have a very annoying noise thing happening in my head. About every 90 seconds it goes *spink spink spink* like someone pulling tight a sheet of tinfoil, and I get that kind of tight dizzy feeling you get when you're just right at the start of fainting. It only lasts for a second or so, but it happens so often it's making me feel really nauseous.

I have no idea what is causing it! It's happened from time to time over the last couple of years, and I figured that it was medication, or drugs, or alcohol, or not eating enough, or dehydration, or anxiety and so on and so forth. But over the last few months I've eliminated most of those causes and it's just getting worse. Maybe the cabin pressure in the plane yesterday exacerbated it?

It's driving me up the wall so I might see if I can get an appt with my old GP down here. I can't take this for two weeks!

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March 01, 2006

Enlightened Self-Interest

I have been rethinking my views on methods of government and the evils of capitalism in the wake of reading that massive 470-page tome on the history of the Coca-Cola Company.

I'd like to quote:
And therein lies the true beauty of capitalism. The Coca-Cola religion has no real morality, no commandment other than the increased consumption of its drink. Consequently, it has been perfectly willing to co-exist with Hitler, bejeweled Maharajas, impoverished migrant workers, malnourished Africans, Guatemalan death squads, clear-cut Belizean rainforests, or repressive Chinese. Unlike most world governments, however, the Coca-Cola Company eventually acts out of enlightened self-interest. Because it values its squeaky-clean image above all else, it reacts far more quickly to bad publicity than any potentate. Consequently, it is arguably up to us, the public, to monitor its corporate behaviour. Faced with boycotts of sufficient size, documentaries of appropriate proportion, or shareholder resolutions representing large chunks of stock, the Company will act. Sometimes, it will even act pre-emptively to avoid such trouble. For its own selfish ends, then, Coca-Cola does indeed try to promote the peace and harmony it promises in its commercials.

I can see a valid point or two in there. The PM doesn't care that half the country thinks David Benson-Pope is a liar - she's not trying to sell us anything now that she's elected. There are no competing products for another 4 years. Same thing in the USA - George Junior doesn't care that only a minority of the country voted for him. In fact, it makes it easier. He only has to keep that small group of consumers happy, and the best way to do that is to give federal contracts to his buddies. Wheras Coke, more than most companies, counts almost every single human on earth as a potential long-term customer. So they have to listen to them. Every single day.

Reading: - The Light Fantastic - Terry Prachett
Just Read: - For God, Country & Coca-Cola - Mark Pendergrast

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Lifestyley

Does anyone know anybody that might have a lifestyle block and want a little rental income? I've been thinking how good it would be to rent a sleepout or garage or something simple a bit further out of the city, and I'm good with animals and kids etc. Couldn't ever afford to do it myself, but I could be like a animal-and-kid sitter and help out with gardening and stuff, take care of things if they want a holiday... I'm really not a very good city-dweller. I get too depressed being shut off from nature.

Off to Chch tomorrow. Poor Sock is looking very pregnant, and although she still attempts to jump the same height, she doesn't seem to realise that she has a lot less clearance nowadays! I think she should be fine on the plane trip though.

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