31 July 2008

The Oldest British Joke

Now the following is said to be the oldest British joke and it supposedly dates back to the 10th Century.

Q: What hangs at a man's thigh and wants to poke the hole that it's often poked before?

A: A key

Now how funny is that?

30 July 2008

Dr. Laura Berman -- The Art of Intimacy

This is something that I stumbled across when I opened Yahoo and I am a sucker for lists! You can find Dr. Berman's blurb and mugshot here. The particular article that I stumbled across was provocatively titled "3 Signs That Your Man Is Cheating".

So, I figured this post would make a good community service announcement for my female readership (I am guessing maybe 3 or 4 of you). This is kind of like my pro bono contribution.

Here goes:

"1. Revived Interest in Appearance: If your partner suddenly undergoes a makeover of sorts, in which he spends much more time on his appearance, it could mean that he is trying to impress someone new. If he all of the sudden ditches his old khakis and sweats for something more stylish, it might be because he is trying to look his best for a new woman.

2. Missing in Action: If there are large periods in which your partner is absent and unaccounted for, it could be because there are mischievous motives behind his AWOL behavior. Whether it is a run to the corner store that takes over an hour, or whether he is constantly "working late," a missing husband could mean something sinister.

3. Mysterious Texts or Phone Calls: If you notice mysterious texts or phone calls on your phone bill, or if your husband tries to hide the phone bill or his cell phone from you, it might mean that there is a new love interest in the rafters. Additionally, if he spends more time on the computer, or tries to hide the screen he was looking at when you walk in the room, this is a good indicator that he might be philandering via the worldwide web."

I do not know that this is anything more than a mere warning sign, if that. Let's face it sometimes things are never as they seem to be. I have always figured that one of the pillars of my marriage was truth. I figure if you want to know, then you ask, you get the answer, and then you move on. No point in dwelling on it and letting the petty jealousies fester into full blown conflict, the war to end all wars!

Journalists Without Borders

This is the Journalists Without Borders take on what is happening in China in not only this Olympic Year but every single solitary day!

You can access their website here.

Sperm Counts and Soy

I think I have found an excuse for why it took me more than five years to get my better half pregnant! A research study out of the Harvard School of Public Health at Harvard University is suggesting that the eating and drinking of products that contain a lot of soy or isoflavones has a negative impact on fertility in men. To all out there that do not understand what this means, then in lay person's terms more soy equals less sperm!

There have not been many studies into this, and this particular study is but the third to be completed. Nevertheless, the idea that there is a causal relationship between the eating of soy and the reduction in sperm is an interesting one. I need to get a copy of the study and have a look at who the subjects were. Indonesians for example eat a lot of soy-based products. Since I have been living here in Indonesia, soy has always been a staple and has always been present in just about every meal that I have had. I love the Indonesian forms of soy and regularly eat tahu and tempe.

It seems that soy contains isoflavones, an organic compound which acts like female hormones, which then appears to impact negatively on a man's ability to produce sperm. The science is that the isoflavones in soy are structurally similar in the chemical sense to estrogen and then serve to mimic the way estrogen acts in the human body.

The study involved 99 test subjects all who were involved in a relationship where there were difficulties in conceiving. There was an "inverse" association between soy intake and sperm concentration. This inverse association was distinguishable even after other factors such as age, abstinence, caffeine, BMI, and alcohol were taken out of the equation. The average man has a sperm count of between 80 and 120 million per millilitre whereas the soy consuming subjects had an average sperm count of just 41 million per millilitre.

I guess the next time I am contemplating getting into the baby making game then it is time to swear off the soy.

Honey Bees

The factoid is back...

Did you know that a honey bee can fly at a speed of 15 miles per hour?

Now you do! And you are all welcome!


Keeping to the theme of the earlier post on gay lube oil, I now offer up another more multipurpose lubricant. The picture needs no explanation but for those of you that need one; simply, sometimes big things need a little bit of help in getting into tight situations.

This product is probably available at your nearest chemist.

Gay Lube Oil

One of my blogging colleagues, GJ, has decided that a good way of increasing traffic is to write something on gay clubs. He notes that his traffic seems to increase significantly after a gay clubs post, particularly in the number of hits he gets from Malaysian IPs. Keeping this in mind, I have decided that I should check out whether the "gay" theme does anything for my statistics and ranking, both of which have been plummeting into the never-ending abyss over the last couple of weeks.

Now the use of steroids is one of those issues that draws extreme arguments from each side of the equation. My personal view is that for people wanting to use them for cosmetic reasons then they should be allowed to. If the government is concerned then they should not prohibit the use of steroids but require that they be administered under a doctors care based on a prescription.

I am not making arguments for an against the use of steroids in professional sports. However, when steroids are used properly and are not misused and abused then the evidence suggests that they are safe. Steroids are no different from any other drug in that if they are abused or misused then the side-effects and consequences can be severe. The steroid debate is a hypocritical one by my reckoning as the government and some medical practitioners have sort to demonize steroids as the epitome of evil yet they do not come out anywhere near as strongly against tobacco or alcohol, very weird!

Anyway, back to the gay lube oil story. It seems that Australian Customs has seized more than 100 bottles containing illegal liquid steroids hidden inside sexual lubricant packaging with the aptly named bottles being labelled "gay lube oil". The bottles apparently contain testosterone and deca durabolin. To import these substances is not prohibited provided you have the necessary paperwork from the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

The maximum penalty for smuggling goods such as these into Australia is five years in prison and a $110,000 fine.

Now, aside from the fact that the substances are prohibited without the necessary paperwork, I am wondering how the gay lube oil is to work. I am particularly wondering about the way the testosterone and deca are to be injected. But, I guess that is another story for another time. These particular goodies have been imported from Thailand.

I suppose gay lube oil is like any other oil in that it keeps all your parts running smoothly and at peak performance.

Tattoo Taboos

The humble tattoo is no longer the world of just bikers, criminals, or other so-called undesirable elements of the community. I would not describe bikers as being undesirable elements of the community, if you were wondering. Tattoos have been going mainstream for some time and it seems that they have hit the mainstream vein as employers of all kinds are becoming more accepting of the idea of employees permanently inking their skin.

Just tracking the Sydney and New South Wales tattoo scene sees that from a mere three licensed artists in 1984, there has been a bit of an explosion with more than 50 licensed artists throughout the State. Tattoos were once identified as a moment of drunken stupidity in one's youth, this is clearly no longer the case! The quality of the artwork and the designs are testament to tattooing taking itself seriously as an art form.

I do not hesitate to add here that none of the tattoos that adorn my skin are the product of a drunken night on the town. Instead each has a meaning and each is significant to me as it tells my story and experiences.

Interestingly, in June 2006, Australia's biggest and most conservative employer, the Defence Force, lifted the rule that barred anyone with a tattoo from joining up. About bloody time if you ask me. It was a stupid rule because the armed forces did not kick you out once you joined up and then went and had some art done. If the defence force was serious then the ban should have been uniform and across the board. Perhaps better late than never.

Funnily enough the new defence rules would allow facial tattoos if there was a religious or cultural reason for such artwork. The idea that tattoos still carry social stigmas seems to be fading fast as tattoos become increasingly mainstream. Tattoos are also no longer immediately associated with youthful risk taking. If you do not believe this then watch shows like Miami Ink, LA Ink, and Tattoo Wars. Not everyone with a tattoo is a Charles Manson!

I have no regrets about the tattoos that I have and already have artwork ready for the next series of ink installments to be made on my skin.

Mellow Dope Smokers -- The Myth Exposed?

It has long been rumored that marijuana or dope smokers were a mellow breed of individual. Simply, a few joints or cones would be the best recipe for taking the edge off, mellowing out, and just relaxing and enjoying life.

However, a study out of the University of New South Wales by the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre suggests that dope smokers are in fact as aggressive as crystal methamphetamine users. The study suggests that at least one in four men and one in three women are violent towards hospital staff or harm themselves. More interestingly are the statistics for suicide risk. These suggest that 12% are at risk of committing suicide. This means that more than one in ten dope smokers are a suicide risk.

Natural or not, it seems that the good ol' wacky weed does in fact make people more wacky than if they were not smoking it!

According to Professor Jan Copeland, "The reality is that it can make people highly agitated and trigger acute episodes of anxiety." When speaking of the study the Professor said that the statistics show that more than 9 per cent of cannabis users had depression or bipolar disorder, 5 per cent had schizophrenia and 4 per cent had paranoia and a history of self-harm.

Gordian Fulde, Head of Emergency at St Vincent's hospital, is concerned that the image of dope smokers of past years continues to permeate beliefs of the present day dope smokers and this image is just plain wrong. Fulde makes the point that the grass he might have smoked in the 1960's was probably just that, lawn clippings, particularly when compared to the hydroponically grown super weed of today.

Simply, the levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is much more concentrated and can be at levels of up to ten times the strength of regular weed. This means that a dope smokers value for money is increasing as a hydro joint gives you ten times the whack for the buck.

I guess the moral of this story is moderation or is it abstinence?

Argh back in the day!

24 July 2008

Swimming Pools and San Francisco

Did you know that if someone collected all of the water in swimming pools in the US that all that water would be enough to cover San Francisco?

Now you do!

Burning Calories

You burn more calories sleeping than you do watching TV. I guess if you throw in a little exercise before getting to sleep then you would probably burn even more calories still!

So, I guess if you fall asleep while watching TV you get the best of both worlds.

Balls of Glass

Did you know that a ball of glass will bounce higher than a ball of rubber?

Not the post you thought it might be, was it?

Miley Cyrus -- Bare Naked Truth

Courting controversy is one way of making sure your name stays on the front pages of newspapers and magazines, on talk radio, and a topic of conversation in the homes and offices of the world. It seems that Miley Cyrus knows this and is unashamedly exploiting this fact.

Latest reports have Miley being really excited by the prospect of being cast in the lead role of Undiscovered Gyrl. The movie is to be based on the book of the same name by Allison Burnett. The story is one of a 15-year-old girl who spins out of control into a life of partying and promiscuity. The film would undoubtedly call for nude scenes and apparently the wholesome good ol' American girl is keen to be doing whatever it takes to make it real.

Full nudity is sure to be way more controversial that the topless albeit sheet covering debut on Vanity Fair magazine. This is going to challenge the parents of all her pre-pubescent and pubescent fans to the max.

Aside from the parents of her fans having a few problems about the message this might send, I wonder about how one classifies this film if Miley Cyrus does get the part and does the nude scenes. Wouldn't the film be like child pornography even if good ol' country boy and father Billy Ray Cyrus approves? My feeling would be that if the nude scenes are critical to the film or story that an adult who looks like a 15-year-old will be cast.

Interesting stuff this pursuit by Miley Cyrus to be more adult like than her 15 years requires.

Radovan Karadzic -- Captured

It is about time that this man was caught and the world has the chance to see this man tried for his (alleged) crimes. Radovan Karadzic has thwarted efforts at capture for such a long time. He has for all intents and purposes been on the run in plain sight for the last 13 years. Early reports are suggesting that he has been living in the open and not in hiding. In fact these reports are indicating that apart from growing some facial hair and looking noticeable older, he was working in a clinic as some kind of alternative health guru in Belgrade.

The Bosnian Serb leader is the most notorious and the highest profile of the genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity suspects being hunted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The capture of Karadzic must give hope that the remaining suspects will also be captured in due course and hopefully sooner rather than later.

Karadzic is the man of who it is claimed is responsible for the inciting of vicious racial hatred and ordering a good deal of the worst horrors of the Bosnian conflict. It is a good thing that this individual is now no longer a free man.

The trial will be interesting as it seems that in the Milosevic style, he is going to represent himself.

There is so much more I could write on this and may be I will a some point in the future.


Dear Readers...if you were wondering whether I had passed on to the next world or not because of a couple of days without posting, then there is no need to wonder any longer!

I am in Singapore and have either been too busy or too lazy to turn on the laptop and log in to write.

I am here for work, and work only, and my days have been full and at the end of them I am pretty shagged and choose to sleep instead of blog. I am also here to do the dreaded visa run. I haven't done one for 5 years and I now know why I was glad for that. I am sure the Embassy will be very efficient and hopefully way more efficient than the Jakarta based agent that is supposed to be organizing all of the things I need to have done and be doing. So far they have not been relieving me of stress associated with this.

I have been asking them questions like how long does it take once I submit my passport and forms at the Embassy? A day but apparently this is not the case according to the Indonesian Embassy website in Singapore which says 2 working days. Is there a fee? No, but once again the website suggests differently. Do I need a passport photo? No, but you guessed it, the website suggests differently on this too. My mistake was not to check the website sooner and to believe the agent.

Other than that the order and cleanliness of Singapore is a nice reprieve from the chaos that is Jakarta. The only real downer is that my better and pregnant half could not come along for the ride. After 7.5 years of dating and almost 6 years of marriage I miss the company and perhaps even more so now, I suppose this is what pending fatherhood for the first time does to a man!

Life goes on and it is now time to do some work.

21 July 2008

Garuda Pilot -- Trial

Captain Marwoto Komar the pilot of the ill-fated Garuda flight that crashed in Yogyakarta on 7 March 2007 is to be tried for his alleged negligence in the deaths of 21 people and the injuries of many more.

The trial is to be held in the Sleman District Court (near Yogyakarta) in Central Java. The trial is scheduled to begin on Thursday. There is to be a panel of judges to hear the case.

The final report by Indonesia's air safety investigators stated that Komar was so "fixated" with landing that he ignored 15 alarms and the pleas of his co-pilot. Nevertheless, Komar's arrest was greeted with protests and claims that the data from the black boxes and other flight recording equipment was inadmissible in a court of law pursuant to prevailing laws, regulations, and practices.

This means that the police would have had to obtain evidence that did not rely on the black boxes or the flight recorder information. Obviously the Office of the Public Prosecutor believes that the police have done a sufficient job in this regard to warrant proceeding to trial.

20 July 2008

Hunting Wolves -- Endangered Species

The gray wolves of the Northern Rockies have been on the endangered list for a while. However, this protection was lifted recently for areas in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho in March. A ten-year effort to restore gray wolf numbers the numbers of gray wolves have reached an estimated 2000.

The lifting of the endangered protection status was challenged by environmentalists, including the group Earthjustice, and as a result US Federal Court Judge, Donald Molly, issued a preliminary injunction to restore the protections. Judge Molloy will ultimately have to decide whether to make the temporary injunction permanent or allow the hunt to continue.

The hunt calls for 500 wolves to be culled.

Judge Molloy in issuing the preliminary injunction said that the government had not met its own criteria for a cull to be permitted. Specifically, Judge Molloy questioned whether the interbreeding program to ensure that the genetics of the various groups are sufficiently varied. Nevertheless, the government's chief biologist on the restoration program believes that the wolves are "a very biologically sound package."

This is an interesting case because it goes directly to the heart of striking a balance between maintaining diversity in the environment and protecting the interests of farmers who blame wolves for continual livestock attacks.

Stay tuned.

Preah Vihear -- Follow Up

This is not a new case but it seems that Thailand, although accepting that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and their determination that the Preah Vihear temple complex was within the sovereign territory of Cambodia, still believes that approximately 4.6sq. km around the temple complex is the sovereign territory of Thailand.

Earlier this month the UN accepted Cambodia's application to have the temple listed as a World Heritage Site. However, Thailand has never given up hope that their claims to the territory surrounding the temple. The application approval has seen an escalation of tensions with both Thai and Cambodia troops being sent to the area. The troops from both sides are under explicit orders not to fire unless fired upon.

Cambodia has sent a letter to the UN Security Council bringing to their attention the standoff between the two countries. Cambodia says that it is not looking for UN intervention but rather bringing the matter to the SC's attention.

Cambodia and Thailand will meet on Monday to try and defuse the situation and resolve it.

19 July 2008

Zimbabwe -- The $100 Billion Bank Note

The Zimbabwean Central Bank has started to issue $100 billion bank notes. The new notes are in reality a bearer cheque and have an expiry date of 31 December 2008 and they are to be introduced from Monday.

Sadly, with an official inflation rate of 2.2 million percent $100 billion does not buy you very much of anything. The photo is of a $500 million note.

Sleeping Bullfrog

The bullfrog is the only animal that never sleeps!

18 July 2008

Crimes Against Humanity

Justice for crimes against humanity must have no limitations.

-- Simon Wiesenthal

Being A Good Man

"Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one."

Just a thought!

Zimbabwe -- Out of Control Inflation

The tragedy that is Zimbabwe sees the official inflation rate stated at 2.2 million percent. This is the rate used by the Zimbabwean Central Bank. The unofficial rates suggest that at some point over the previous 12 months the inflation rate has been as high as 70 million percent. External analysts to the Central Bank estimate inflation to be running at about 12.5 million percent.

The constant instability that afflicts Zimbabwe is contributing to the continual spiking inflation rate. If Robert Mugabe loved Zimbabwe and Zimbabwean independence half as much as he says he does then he would step down immediately and allow some normalcy to return to the political spectrum. Unfortunately, Mugabe is an egotistical narcissistic dictator and tyrant who has no interest in anything but his own legacy. This legacy will never be viewed in a positive light. Any positives that he might have acquired in the early years have been erased, utterly and completely.

One job that I would most definitely not want is that of Governor of the Central Bank of Zimbabwe. Trying to formulate financial policy in an economic environment that sees inflation running in the millions of percent is not only a challenge but impossible if current conditions persist much longer. Nevertheless, Gideon Gono (pictured), Central Bank Governor, ploughs forward. Most of his statements seem to firmly cast the blame on the exponential rise in inflation on the black market and profiteers.

Basic goods such as soap and cooking oil have increased 70 million and 60 million percent respectively. Sugar is up some 36 million percent. The Central Bank is introducing a coupon system to ensure that the need will get some access to basic necessities.

The official exchange rate has the USD 1 buying 20 million Zimbabwe dollars. However, the black market rate which is more likely to reflect the real exchange value of Zimbabwean Dollars has USD 1 buying some 90 million Zimbabwe Dollars.

I have this sinking feeling that things are going to get worse in Zimbabwe before they get better.

A Tale of Crocodile Tongues

I learned today that a crocodile cannot move its tongue.

I read this. I am not going to be sticking my head in a crocodile's mouth any time soon to find out for certain. I am just going to take the word of others on this one.

Samir Qantar -- Hailed A Hero

Samir Qantar (pictured) was Lebanon's longest serving prisoner incarcerated in Israel. Qantar was the biggest beneficiary of a prisoner swap and the exchange of remains that has been recently completed. Samir Qantar was a young 17-year-old when he was sentenced to five life terms for committing triple murder. One of Qantar's victims was a 4-year-old child.

As I have posted previously there is no excuse for the killing of a child. This does not change when the killer is a 17-year-old youth. At 17 you already know the difference between right and wrong and you would know that killing a 4-year-old is wrong.

Qantar has returned home to Aabey, southeast of Beirut, to a hero's welcome. It would seem that Qantar's political passion and love of the struggle has not dwindled after almost 29 years in prison. In fact Qantar remains proud and has no regrets or remorse for his actions and said the following, "I feel enormous joy because I have returned to the ranks of the resistance and to my family." Not missing a beat it seems his first change of clothes was to don a Hezbollah military uniform.

Qantar is being hailed as a hero whenever his name is mentioned, Lebanese are sacrificing lambs in his honour,and people are claiming that "Samir Kantar is the son of all the Lebanese".

It is a strange move on Hezbollah's part to be quite so vocal in claiming victory and Qantar being so vocal in his pride with respect to killing a child. My guess is that Qantar will be killed in a pre-emptive missile attack or some other military strike or assassinated in some other manner.

I watched the film "Munich" recently. I suspect that as most films do some liberties were taken with the story to make it into a movie script. However, even if a smidgeon of it is true then Qantar must be wary of what is coming his way. There will definitely be no peace for Qantar and he will not grow old while he is being stalked by Mossad. Sooner or later the game will be up. He might have in fact been safer in an Israeli prison.

I reiterate, child killers like Qantar are not heroes. It makes no difference whether he committed this crime as a 16, 17, or 30 year old. There is no honour in killing children and the murder of children must not be what the resistance is about!

17 July 2008

Bali Bombers Appeal Rejected -- Part Deux

Thanks for the picture in this post go to Rima.

You can read her post that included this picture here.

I never expected that the 72 virgins awaiting Muslim Martyrs were going to look like this. This might be what awaits the terrorists who believe they are martyrs. I suspect that there might be a little bit of surprise for Amrozi, Samudra, and Mukhlas when they come face-to-face with what really awaits them!

Bali Bombers Appeal Rejected

The latest appeal for the Bali Bombers; Amrozi, Imam Samudra, and Mukhlas, have been rejected. This means that these three gentlemen are one step closer to meeting their maker and finding out whether there really is 72 virgins waiting for them and handsome little waiters to serve all their needs.

The only recourse left now is to seek clemency from the President. It would seem unlikely that the President would entertain such an idea. Yet, then again who knows for sure.

The shenanigans that have gone on here delaying these executions is an embarrassment. The Poso Three whose alleged crimes were committed around the same time as the bombings in Bali have already been executed for killing fewer people and in spite of "evidence" being put forward at the last minute which was claimed to show that they were not the masterminds as alleged. This evidence was summarily dismissed and the three were executed.

It is sad that the Bali Bombers are being afforded opportunities that were not made available to others. It begs the question, are they being treated differently because the law allows them to be or are they being treated differently for some other reason such as they are Muslims in a predominantly Muslim country?

I am anti-death penalty and feel these three terrorists should not be given what they claim to want, martyrdom. On the contrary, they should be afforded the opportunity to rot in prison. From a purely legal standpoint with respect to enforcement of the law. It is time that these men were executed to ensure that the standard remains the same for all.

Judgment Day is edging ever-closer!

Art Monthly Australia -- Child Pornography Update

This was something that I posted on previously and posed the question as to whether the photo should be considered to be child pornography. Not many comments, which is more indicative of my limited readership than the importance of the issue, however it would seem that the Classification Board in Australia has made this decision for us.

After Art Monthly Australia chose the picture for its cover as a protest on the recent seizing of images from an exhibition of Bill Henson's work in Sydney, the magazine was reported for a possible violation of the law. The Classification Board was asked for an opinion and it has now given one.

That opinion is to classify the picture with an M rating. This translates to "suitable for publication, though discretion is advised for viewers under the age of 15."

The photo in question of Olympia Nelson was taken by her mother, Pollixeni Papapetrou. Olympia's father Robert Nelson had this to say after the Classification Board came back with its decision, "I think she's feeling very happy because her argument has always been there's nothing wrong with the picture" and "the idea that it's pornographic is absurd."

It is worth noting that the Classification Board decision was not unanimous as several members arguing that the magazine should have been given a Refused Classification rating. The magazine did have additional graphic sexual images inside. A Refused Classification translates to the magazine being prohibited for sale.

At the time the politicians from all parties sensing blood in the water began circling like sharks around a defenceless surfer. The majority were jumping up and down describing the image as pornography, the sexualization of a child, the theft of Olympia's childhood, and that Art Monthly Australia should have all its public funding removed. Now that the Classification Board has issued an M rating I wonder how these same politicians feel about the Classification Board. Are we going to see a full-scale spill at the Board?

Life goes on!

Vocal Cats

Another little factoid for the file.

Did you know that cats have over one hundred vocal sounds?

Well, now you do!

Once again I do not know who sat down to measure this and why. I also do not know why anyone might want to fund such research. Perhaps it is a study of animal language or something.

Enjoy your Thursday!

Jimi Hendrix -- Sacrificing Guitars

Jimi Hendrix, in my mind, was the greatest guitar player of all time. It is my mind so I can think like this. I am sure others have a widely divergent view on this. To each their own.

Jimi Hendrix so loved his guitars that he once proclaimed, "The time I burned my guitar it was like a sacrifice. You sacrifice the things you love. I love my guitar."

There are two burned guitars floating around. The first of these is the one that is to be auctioned on 4 September 2008. This guitar is a 1965 Fender Stratocaster and was set alight by Hendrix during a gig at the London Astoria on 31 March 1967. This particular guitar is expected to sell for about AUD 1,000,000.

Hendrix repeated the guitar burning routine in June 1967 at the Monterey International Pop Music Festival. This guitar ended up in the hands of Frank Zappa and then ultimately passed to Dweezil Zappa. However, this guitar has been restored although some scorch marks remain. The photo of this burning is the one above.

In contrast, the Astoria guitar has not been restored and is in the same burnt condition as it was in 1967. Apparently, it has been stored in the garage of the parents of Hendrix's former press secretary, Tony Garland.

The auction will be held at the Idea Generation Gallery (although I have read that the auction is to take place at the Fame Bureau) in London.

Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church -- An Apology

I have been contemplating writing something on this for some time and have hesitated because the issue deserves more than just passing comment. I have not done the research on the statistics of the prevalence of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, although I am sure others may have numbers, names, locations, and the like. Yet, perhaps if there was more open and frank discussion on issues such as these then progress towards a workable resolution might be quicker in coming.

The Pope, Benedict XVI, was alleged to have said on his way to Australia for the World Youth Day festivities that he was going to apologize to all those who have suffered sexual abuse at the hands of clergymen over the years. This blanket apology might not mean much but it would have meant that the Church acknowledges and has remorse for what has happened but is genuinely sorry for the tragedy that it has allowed to occur. This profound sorrow might not pay the bills of the victims or bring back loved ones who have committed suicide as a result of not being able to cope any longer with the pain, but it would say that even though we can never fully make amends for what has happened "we" accept responsibility.

Unfortunately, the Pope's point man on media communications has spent much of the day backtracking on whether an apology will be forthcoming and has even indicated that this might be one of those lost in translation moments, where what the Pope is alleged to have said might not actually be what he said.

Father Federico Lombardi, Director of the Vatican Press Office, has been saying that there is no papal commitment to making an apology and perhaps what Australian victims should be expecting is the Pope making brief mention of the "issue" in a statement. Stupid! This would seem to be the perfect moment to capitalize on the good will of Australians during WYD to make the apology.

It would seem that the Pope has not been pontificating on the issue and is on the record as saying that the Church needs to examine how it is going to, "prevent, heal and reconcile" the past crimes of the clergy. The Pope then went further in terms of putting this into context with, "this is the essential content of what we will say as we apologise."

Father Lombardi seems to think that any apology would be limited to a meeting with church officials and novices. This is the same means that was adopted by the Pope when apologizing during his visit to the US. This is a cop out! He does not need to apologize to the members of the clergy and the novices of the Church. He needs to apologize to the victims of the crimes perpetrated by the clergy on children for decades past.

Why is an apology necessary? The answer to this question is simple and is best done through an Australian example of the tragedy the sexual abuse of children has wreaked on one particular family. Their story is a sad and tragic one that has been played out in many thousands of families across the globe.

The Foster family was by all accounts a happy one. However, this changed tragically for the worst when Emma and Katherine Foster were raped by Father Kevin O'Donnell when they were in primary school. The Catholic Church does not seem to have a very good record in weeding out those applicants that have a penchant for young children.

Emma committed suicide at the age of 26. Katherine developed an alcohol abuse problem and this led to her being struck by a car driven by a drunk driver. Katherine now requires 24-hour care as a result of the physical and brain injuries that she sustained.

In reference to this sad tale the Bishop Anthony Fisher in his infinite wisdom expressed the following sentiment, "Happily, I think most of Australia was enjoying delighting in the beauty and goodness of these young people and the hope - the hope for us doing these sorts of things better in the future - as we saw last night, rather than, than dwelling crankily, as a few people are doing, on old wounds."

Bishop Fisher, you are a fool! These are not old wounds to those directly affected by them! These wounds are open and festering sores that are slowly but surely eating away at the very life essence of the victims of these abhorrent crimes. It is time the Catholic Church ante-ed up and faced the fact that it is responsible as the employer of predators like Father O'Donnell.

Priests like father O'Donnell when they are found guilty of the crimes they have committed they should be sent to prison. They should not be put into the protective wing of the prison. These brave souls that pray on children must be put into the general prison population where it should be known that they like to have their way with children. You should not be surprised that prisoners have families and they have children and that the mere thought of someone sexually violating their children is enough to ensure that the Father O'Donnells of this world get a firsthand understanding of what it is like to be violated. This would give a new meaning to "get what's coming to you"!

The Catholic Church has to start making amends in Australia. This can start with a full, open, and frank apology to victims. Then, I personally do not care if this means the Catholic Church has to sell off all its assets or mortgage its properties to the hilt, but it must pay compensation to victims for the harm these victims have suffered at the hands of the employees of the Church.

Thus endeth my rant (or is it a sermon?) on this subject.

The Israel -- Hezbollah Prisoner Swap is Underway

Hezbollah really needs to spend some money and recruit some good public relations people, as they simple have absolutely no idea on how to handle a significant event! In an earlier post I alluded to the cruelty of playing up the possibility that the two Israeli soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, that Hezbollah was required to hand over under the deal, were alive. The reality, as most people expected, was finally confirmed today.

Hezbollah handed over two black coffins today to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The ICRC then drove the coffins into Israel. The remains were confirmed to be those of Goldwasser and Regev (photo by Issam Kobeisy / Reuters).

The second reason Hezbollah needs some PR people is this statement by one Mr. Safa who was operating as the spokesperson for Hezbollah, "We are now handing over the two imprisoned Israeli soldiers, who were captured by the Islamic resistance on July 12, 2006, to the ICRC." He then went on with this, "The Israeli side will now hand over the great Arab mujahid (holy warrior) ... Samir Qantar and his companions to the ICRC." I am using PR people here in the manner that most organizations would use them for crisis or message management.

There is nothing holy about Samir Qantar. Qantar is a cold-blooded child killer, plain and simple. His release is sure to leave a bitter taste in the mouths of many Israelis. To rub salt into this wound Hezbollah has a wide range of festivities planned to celebrate the release. There should be little doubting why some countries want to classify Hezbollah as a terrorist organization when you celebrate child killers as holy warriors or mujahideen. Any legitimacy that an organization might have had is lost when it glorifies child killers.

I wonder who is getting the best deal in all this prisoner swapping and the returning of remains?

Anwar Ibrahim -- Arrested

The allegations are clear but the charges are not, at least according to Anwar's lawyer. Sankara Nair, Anwar's lawyer witnessed the arrest , and has stated that the police did not indicate what Anwar (pictured) was being charged with. Anwar was arrested as he arrived at home and was immediately taken to Kuala Lumpur police headquarters.

The arrest sparked an SMS frenzy with all members of the Keadilan Party and the members of the opposition coalition receiving SMS messages to gather outside the police headquarters and rally for Anwar's release.

It is going to be interesting to see how this all plays out. The "victim" or the person making the claims here is Saiful Bukhari Azlan, a volunteer in Anwar's office. Saiful is 23 years old. It might be the cynic in me, but after the allegations were made several photos emerged showing Saiful posing all smiles at the Deputy Prime Ministers office. This in and of itself has no real significance except how does a 23-year-old with no real reason to be meeting with the Deputy PM get access to the DPM office? More to the point, why is a volunteer from Anwar's office meeting with the DPM?

For old conspiracy theorists like myself there is something to be made of all these coincidences.

Having been charged and convicted for sodomy before it seems that these would be the easiest allegations to be made. Yet, the previous charges were ultimately thrown out or overturned by Malaysia's highest court. This really is shaping up as a he said, he said show. Unless, young Saiful has some incriminating evidence then I am not sure where this goes. I am not an expert on Malaysian law so I cannot authoritatively say.

It must be noted that some Ministers have been suggesting that there is evidence and that Anwar will need to provide a reference DNA sample. I am not sure why he would need to do that. I would have thought that last time around the police would have required Anwar to submit DNA and his sample would be in the system. But if there is DNA evidence, I wonder whether it is of a similar kind that captivated US audiences during the Bill Clinton / Monica Lewinsky caper and the President's semen stain on the good ol' blue dress.

Sodomy charges if proven see the perpetrator liable for a term of imprisonment of up to 20 years.

The question though is, are these trumped up charges that are aimed at subverting the opposition movement for democratic change and restoring some of the authoritarian practices of the past?

I will be watching as this will be quite a story for sure.

Alleged Australian Sex Offender Arrested in Bali

Paul Francis Callahan fled Australia in 2003 headed for Bali after allegations surfaced that he had committed sex offences in Canberra.

Australian authorities learned of Callahan's whereabouts and placed a request with Indonesian Police to arrest him. The Indonesian Police granted the request and Callahan was arrested last Saturday in Kuta.

Callahan is currently in custody and awaiting an extradition hearing at the Denpasar District Court. By all accounts the hearing should be a mere formality.

Callahan on arrival in Bali has opened a surf gear business, married a local woman, and has a child with her. Strangely, this part of the tale sounds all too ordinary and is perhaps a case of evil living among us and we do not even know it!

16 July 2008

Captain Kangaroo

This was the first network kids show in the USA.

I did not know this! But I wonder why the first network kids show in the US was called Captain Kangaroo when the kangaroo is native to Australia and is also part of the Coat of Arms of my country of birth.

Perhaps Australia was looking for a bit of world domination in the 1950s and 1960s!


I am led to believe that Panama is the only place in the world where you can watch the sun rise over the Pacific and set over the Atlantic.

I guess this is one of those things you do because you can!

Justice Michael Kirby -- Criminalizing HIV

Australian High Court Judge Michael Kirby has spoken about the growing pressure on States to criminalize the transmission of HIV. Justice Kirby while addressing a criminal law conference in Dublin was speaking about the rising rates of HIV infection in Australia and the pressure to see those that transmit the virus punished.

It is Justice Kirby's view that criminalizing the transmission is going to have a a negligible effect on transmission rates, if any effect at all. The idea of criminalizing the transmission of HIV is likely to be counter-productive as this would be best described as a punitive measure.

The money that the State is likely to have to throw at this to make the policy of criminalizing the transmission of HIV would be better spent on research and development that leads to a vaccine and eventually a cure.

The fact that HIV is no longer the immediate death sentence it once was because of significant advances in the effectiveness of antiretrovirals and other drugs has meant that people have become much less cautious in protecting themselves. Perhaps psychologically the idea of a chronic illness is more palatable and less scary than rapid progression to death from an AIDS related illness.

I know Justice Kirby and I once wanted to clerk for the man. Justice Kirby has lost friends to the disease. So, in that sense he has a personal perspective on this.

East Timor and Indonesian Responsibility

The Truth and Friendship Commission has spoken, actually produced a report, that states in unequivocal terms that Indonesia played a significant role in the violence that ensued in Timor Leste after the Direct Ballot of 1999. In fact the report says that Indonesia is responsible for the committing of gross human rights abuses including murder and torture.

This is strange because not one high ranking person who was charged with a crime relating to this in Indonesia was convicted or had their conviction affirmed on appeal. All defendants successfully negotiated the Indonesian Human Rights Court system. I wonder why some might think this whole process was nothing more than lip service and a whitewash from start to finish.

The next part of this story has that funny in a perverse way feel to it. The release of the report has sparked Indonesia into acknowledging responsibility for carrying out gross violations of human rights but not offering an apology. I am wondering why one would even except responsibility at all? Let's face it, no one has been convicted in an Indonesian court for any crimes that were alleged to have been committed in 1999. Or is this a case of trying to ward off an international tribunal by saying, "yes, we as a State committed some crimes but we are not sure who the perpetrators are".

The claim is going to be the people we thought were the perpetrators have since been found innocent by the open and transparent court system in operation in Indonesia and cannot be tried again for the crimes for which they have already been acquitted.

I believe that without justice it is impossible to move forward fully. Indonesia seems to think that the release of the report ends this tragic saga, it should not! The report is not justice for the victims or their families. This is a mere narrative of what the commission uncovered. If Indonesia refuses to prosecute perpetrators of these crimes then an International Tribunal must be set up to deal with those that have committed crimes.

There must be justice for all!

Dying In Jail

I wonder what it is like to have spent 56 years in prison? I wonder this from the outside and have no intention of ever wanting to find out from the inside. I wonder what it is like to have spent more than half of your 80 years of life behind bars?

Eric Thomas Turner (pictured), was a quadruple murder and the last inmate in a NSW prison that had been sentenced to death. The death sentence was later commuted to life in prison. He was released but murdered again. In this case 'was' is the operative word as Turner has died in prison as a result of complications from lung cancer.

Turner was an evil man who killed his first person at the young age of 20 in 1948. His first victim was his then 15-year-old girlfriend, Claire Sullivan. His second victim was Frank Sullivan, Claire's father. He strangled Claire and he axed the father. He was sentenced to death on 15 December 1948.

His sentence was commuted to life in prison. I am not sure why there is no truth in sentencing and when a person is sentenced to life in prison then this is exactly what it means; you die there! However, maybe after 22 years behind bars the State felt sorry for the fella or believed him rehabilitated because he was released in 1970.

Turner seems to have kept out of trouble for a while. But, perhaps it is true, "once a killer always a killer," because 3 years after his release Turner killed his mother-in-law, Harriet Field, by stabbing her 11 times. Turner's stepson, John Pilz, tried to intervene to save his grandmother and Turner killed him as well.

Not surprisingly the community was somewhat outraged that Turner was released in the first place. Nevertheless, he was convicted and again sentenced to life imprisonment. This sentence was then redetermined. The life sentence remained but a non-parole period of 20 years was set. Therefore, since 1993 Turner has been eligible to seek parole. However, it was not until his illness had become too much for him that he had sort to be released on parole.

He did seek release in 2007. The application for release was refused.

Turner was the longest serving prisoner in the NSW correctional system. However, the title of the longest continuous serving prisoner goes to the 84-year-old William "The Mutilator" McDonald. McDonald was sentenced in 1963 to life in prison for the murder of four homeless men.

As I said, I wonder what it must be like to spend so much time behind bars?

15 July 2008

Annoyance Provisions -- Tossed

Just a very brief update.

The Federal Court has tossed the annoyance provisions as they were written in Clause 7.1 of the legislation. The legal reasoning was that the provision was an infringement on free speech as there was no intelligible boundary as to what an annoyance is. The secondary reasoning was that current provisions in other laws and regulations are more than sufficient to deal with offensive behaviour.

Let's go annoy some pilgrims! The photo is of the two individuals that brought the action to the Federal Court, Amber Pike and Rachel Evans.

New Yorker Magazine -- The Obama Cover

I wonder if there is an agenda at play here or is it really as The New Yorker Magazine claims just a bit of satire? Looking at the picture for yourselves it is clear that both Obama and his wife are depicted as terrorists and if you look closely you can see the US flag burning in the fireplace and a happy snappy of Osama bin Laden hangs on the wall. The Obama campaign has labeled the cover offensive. And, I am not surprised.

The cover may well be satire but it plays into the misinformation that has swirled around the Obama campaign for a long time now. The flag in the fire place could represent Obama's reluctance to wear a lapel pin for a long while. He has now taken to wearing one again in an attempt to ward of any critics questioning his patriotism.

The rumor mill has been running for a long while that Obama's middle name of Hussein means he must be a Muslim. This is also untrue and I wonder why people believe it considering there was such broad coverage of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright affair and Obama's church going habits.

Perhaps the Osama bin Laden photograph on the wall is in reference to the idea that Obama will meet with tyrants, despots, and dictators as a means to further US diplomacy.

The Obama campaign's beef seems to be that it depicts Obama and his wife as being racist, sexist, anti-religion, anti-patriotic, and sympathetic to terrorism. Yet, these are just some of the claims that right-wing critics have already made of the Obama's. So, is it that much of a stretch to understand the New Yorkers explanation of the cover which was, "Please note that it is satire -- we are poking fun at the scare tactics and misinformation that some have employed to derail Obama's campaign"?

The cover is so outrageous that it cannot be anything but satire and any one that believes that the caricature is an accurate depiction of either the candidate or his wife needs their head read. Is the cover offensive? I do not think so. Is it tasteless? Perhaps. Is it ridiculous? Most definitely! And as I said the idea that any one is going to base their vote on what is contained in this caricature is equally silly.

Kentucky Fried Chicken & PETA

Kentucky Fried Chicken or as it is better known KFC came into the sites of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals or as they are better known PETA. It seems that PETA has a problem with the way KFC treats their chickens. in factories and slaughterhouses. The thing about PETA protests is that the generally bring out the crowds for a bit of a perv as they normally involve some degree of nudity. PETA's protests against fur are legendary for the bare-breasted women. Now it seems that chickens are getting the bare-breasted treatment as well.

The three women were bare-breasted and wearing skimpy yellow bikini bottoms (look at the photo yourself -- I have attached it for your viewing pleasure). The protest took place in the Sydney CBD during the lunch hour. Maximum exposure for maximum effect, I guess. The three were in a cage and holding signs that read, "Chicks Agree: Boycott KFC".

The protesters -- Ashley Fruno, Fawn Porter (Fawn is a great name for a PETA activist), and Carla Lobos were eventually arrested and then claimed they were roughed up by police. The police, obviously, have denied this and also denied they used the additional powers that they have been granted for the month of July to cover the WYD activities. I would imagine that naked or semi-naked women would not be so much of an annoyance but rather a test of a pilgrim's faith!

The young women think that their protest has been successful and that they have educated the masses about the cruel practices of KFC. Judging by the attached photo they did more educating on the semi-naked form of women by the number of mobile phone cameras taking pictures.

Pamela Anderson is a PETA fan and gave Jessica Simpson a serve recently over a t-shirt that read, "Real Men Eat Meat". Pam has also recently been starring in Australia's version of Big Brother and while here also protesting in front of KFC. Unfortunately, Pam's protest was top on as opposed to topless, which was undoubtedly disappointing for many.

The end result is that KFC still feels that its treatment of its chickens is ethical. I think this is because they have not been deemed to have broken any laws. I would have thought that PETA would have been advocating a vegan lifestyle and not just better treatment of animals that are to be slaughtered.

Oh well!

14 July 2008

The Age That I Wish To Go Back To

Thanks to katadia, I have been tagged to write about the age that I wish to go back to, thanks I think! I quite enjoy reading her blog posts and I guess she enjoys reading mine hence the desire to see what I might post now that I have been tagged.

The rules are:
Title: Age That I Wish To Go Back To
Requirement: Write about the one age that you wish to go back to and why?
Tag Mode: 5 bloggers
1st - You list 5 bloggers you want to tag and link their blogs
2nd - Let the blogger you want to tag know they been tagged by comment in their blog.

Now, I am happy to write the entry on the age. But, I am rule breaker and I am not going to tag five others. It sounds too much like multi-level marketing to me and an attempt to attract attention to my blog and the blogs of others...sorry people for being such a spoil sport (besides everyone I might have been inclined to tag has been tagged).

I really would like to write about an age that I would like to go forward to. My better half is pregnant and is due in November. Thanks to the wonders of modern medical technology we can already see the youngster (affectionately known as "The Kid") in 2 or 3 dimensions. The hospital offers 4D, I always thought the 4th D was time in space, so I am trying to work out why I might want to pay to see The Kid in 4D. However, I think what the doc was trying to explain related to spissitude (look it up if you really want to know).

Seeing, this will be the first born in my family, I am really looking forward at the moment as opposed to backwards. By the way, The Kid is a boy!

But, seeing you all want to learn something of my past, then the age I would want to get back to is probably years 8, 9, and 10 in high school (so 13, 14, and 15 years of age). Why? They were fun times, care free times, the best of times. I had started playing rugby and I was good. I was immediately selected in representative teams and got lots of free stuff like footy jumpers, socks, shorts, trousers, ties, and all sorts of other stuff.

The memories that stick out in my mind though relate not to competitive rugby but slush rugby. Slush rugby could only be played during the rain or immediately after the rain -- simply no rain meant no slush! The best of these slush rugby memories occurred on a school camp, I think it was Year 9, out near Goulburn somewhere. It was winter, so it was cold! Cold enough as a matter of fact to freeze the balls of a brass monkey. Even better was that it was pissing down with rain! And the best part was that the showers were all cold water!

In the middle of the campground was this big open space that looked like a mudpit after all the rain. In other words the perfect venue.

Not to be deterred, we stripped down into our slush rugby gear which consisted of shorts and a jersey, divided up into sides, and went at it hell for leather for the next our or so! There were some dislocated fingers, a couple of bloody noses, a lost tooth or two, and a few concussions, although I am not sure anyone is counting. I have a photo which I will scan and add later.

I cannot recall who won and it doesn't really matter.

In reality I cannot choose one age that I would really like to go back to. My childhood was excellent, I have the greatest parents that I can imagine having, my teenage years were some of the best I can recall, my early adulthood was a series of superb experiences, and right at this moment in time I am fairly content. The only thing that I miss from childhood is the absence of responsibility. I would enjoy not being responsible for so many people's livelihoods (this does not include my own family as that responsibility is one I enjoy)...

But such is life.

I hope those that read understand a little more about me and feel that you know me a little better.

BTW...high school was Hurlstone Agricultural High School (HAHS) in Glenfield (NSW)!