Dictionary Warfare

March 30, 2007

In this BBC article referring to the capture – kidnapping, really – of the UK sailors on the Cornwall by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, apparently the UK was holding out for a stronger statement from the UN security council, one that used the word “deplore” instead of the phrase “grave concern”.

Oh, yeah, the Iranians are really going to care about that. These are people who execute (by hanging) 14- and 15-year olds for having homosexual sex with each other.

Anyone remember what Israel did when a few of its soldiers were kidnapped?

[EDIT: I left part of this in the comments trail, but I thought it was worth moving here :]

I’ve been thinking about it over the weekend – believe it or not – and I don’t know if military action is the answer. The UK can’t necessarily afford a war with Iran who, I’m given to understand, is better equipped to fight a war, plus the hostages would then be killed. But they do need to do something more definitive than exchanging diplomatic notes, which I’m willing to bet Tehran use for toilet paper.

Of course, the UK could ask the US to ask Israel to do them a favour. Israel have a long history of successfully messing with the Iranians.

The US has a policy : We don’t negotiate (with terrorists). In other words, if you kidnap our guys, we won’t allow you to hold us to ransom over them. Kill them, we don’t care – although we’ll fight like hell to get them out. As an official policy, it seems to have worked (ever since Beirut). I’d love to say the UK should adopt this policy (in fact, they may have it already), but that would mean sacrificing fifteen lives to prove a point, and I’m too much of a bleeding-heart liberal to want to see that happen. It’s a tough question. I haven’t checked the news today yet, but my big question is Where Is The US? Or is the “special relationship” completely one-sided now that Churchill isn’t in the driving seat on the UK side, and the guy who is needs a baby chair and a driver’s licence?


If you don’t look for it, you won’t find it…

March 30, 2007

In this BBC story, the discovery of five or so species of troglobite spiders has halted a proposed ten billion dollar mining venture, with an Australian EPA ruling that the mining venture would cause the extinction of at least five species.

Good for the spiders. I hate them, and they’re creepy, but they do represent a unique species. Apparently exposure to ultraviolet light will kill them. (So, if I do go on my proposed emigratory trip to Australia, I will carry a UV lamp with me, along with a frozen-ammo paintball gun for the Cane Toads. Although the spiders live only on “organic matter” deep underground. No mention of what the “organic matter” actually is…which is even creepier…)

Given the Cane Toad epidemic, the rabbit epidemic, that mysterious thing that happened to all the foxes, you’d think the Australian government have learned their lesson about messing with ecosystems. And it appears they have. But the Opposition Environmental spokesperson had this to say :

Because [the government has] upgraded the requirements of the mining sector in the environmental approvals process to find what’s out there, they go out there and find things.

Yes, that’s right : he’s annoyed that the environmental impact specialists employed or contracted by the government or the mining company to look at environmental impact are doing their jobs. It’s fairly obvious he would prefer that they all be blindfolded before setting out to do their survey.

And, hey, let’s be realistic : should five spider species really stop a ten billion dollar mining venture that might provide employment for a lot of people? Probably not. But it doesn’t hurt to take a step back, and say “Well, let’s think about this for a bit”.

On a contrasting note, New Zealand seem to have the right idea. On a recent trip there, a friend of mine got a two-hundred dollar fine for having dirt on his shoes when going through customs. They’re pretty serious about preventing non-indigenous species from interfering with their ecosystem.


O is for Oprah

March 29, 2007

O is for Oprah

Apparently parents of the girls at Oprah’s kick ass new school in South Africa are complaining the school is too strict. No email or video games (I thought these kids have been plucked from huts??) and they are only allowed FRUIT and YOGURT for snacks. The parents are only permitted to visit once a month–perhaps to curtail the smuggling of chocolate into the compound.

Well listen up girls, while you are being educated in your billion dollar school there are a few precepts you will need to start with. Drink deeply of these truths and your education will not fail you.

A is for Abject Poverty, from whence you came.

B is for Blasphemy. There is a lot of this out there in the big world. Stay away from it. You will only cause the your Gracious Mother Oprah pain.

C is for Calories. Now maybe you didn’t get enough of these before you entered the The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls but now that you are here these are very important. They will be a part of your Math studies. Learn them well.

D is for Diet. Try and incorporate a discussion of your diet into all your essays. This will allow your Gracious Mother Oprah to relate to you and hopefully it will improve your grades.

E is for Entertainment Weekly. They will visit regularly. Smile brilliantly and you might get some extra fruit.

F is for fundraising. See above, re the smiling.

G is for Gayle. She is Oprah’s special friend, but not too special; this is still South Africa.

H is for Haiku.

We freeze like gazelle
Gracious Mother Oprah hears
Crackle of chips bag.

I is for “If Oprah was President“. Girls, when you dream this for Momma Oprah you will be dreaming it for yourselves as well!

“I know for sure that what we dwell on is who we become.” O.W.

J is for Juggernaut. Always wanted to be a part of something? Well now you well and truly are! Just think in 5 or 10 years a certain number of you will be guests on Oprah’s show, shining products of her charity. And a certain number of you will be on Oprah’s rivals’ shows, revealing tales of your years in Oprah’s Gulag.

K is for kilojoules. This will feature in your Math unit, “Our Friend, the Metric System”.

L is for Leadership qualities, a necessity for acceptance. Pity the poor introvert whose brilliance failed to shine.

M is for Maya Angelou. She is the greatest literary figure in the Western world and you will be reading her collected works throughout your English studies.

N is for NetNanny. You might try complaining about this instead of moaning about too much fruit. You tech types will need to learn how to crack NetNanny if you want to experience true freedom of speech. Remember Mandela!! This should be your cry if caught.

O IS FOR OPRAH.

P is for Dr. Phil. Peevish feelings about school? How’s that workin’ for you?

Q is for Questions. Is the school run along American lines or is it truly a South African institution? Will there be a Prom? How will Oprah deal with values other than her own being taught?

R is for Roots, a book Oprah may well have been enamored with in her youth.

“I love this country–the land, the people. Africa represents the root of my ancestors, the root of me.” O.W.

My first day in Chicago, September 4, 1983. I set foot in this city, and just walking down the street, it was like roots, like the motherland. I knew I belonged here.” O.W.

S is for Stedman. Any of you girls developing a school girl crush on Oprah should study People magazine carefully for more information.

T is for Truth. “I’m a truth seeker. That’s what I do every day on the show – put out the truth. Some people don’t like it, they call it sensational, but I say life is sensational.” O.W.

U is for Underdog. Gracious Mother Oprah is a champion of underdogs, which is a very good thing for you girls. She is also a champion of celebrities, a champion of dieters, a champion of working moms, a champion of SAHM’s, a champion of glass ceiling busters.. really unless you are a liar, a killer or someone she believes is a fraud Oprah is your champion.

V is for Values. A nebulous quality that your school will talk a lot about instilling. The best way to be seen to have values is to talk a lot about them. If you do this your school will know they are instilled.

W is for Wealth. It is incredible that one person can be so wealthy that they can fund in perpetuity a school with facilities better beyond measure than that which an entire nation has managed to provide.

X is for Xmas. Apparently some of your parents were very upset that you weren’t allowed to spend Xmas with them. They need to understand that in order to be fully inculcated into Oprah’s vision for you a complete break from the homefires will be needed. You can’t just run back to the shanty town because it’s the holidays girls.. never mind, you might find one of these in your stocking come Xmas morning.

Y is for Yam Brulee with Rum and Ginger. Only 420 calories! OR 1757 kilojoules. Without using your calculator work out how many kilojoules are in each calorie.

Z is for Zulu. Yeah baby!


Aliens infiltrate Russia

March 28, 2007

In a move reminiscent of the French bombing of the Rainbow Warrior, the Russians have launched a Weapon of Mass Destruction against a jetliner near New Zealand:

Pieces of space junk from a Russian satellite coming out of orbit narrowly missed hitting a jetliner over the Pacific Ocean overnight.

The pilot of a Lan Chile Airbus A340, which was travelling between Santiago, Chile, and Auckland, New Zealand, notified air traffic controllers at Auckland Oceanic Centre after seeing flaming space junk hurtling across the sky just five nautical miles in front of and behind his plane about 10pm.

This “space junk”—or “UFO”, if you will—is clearly of alien origin.

The conclusion is obvious: Russia has been infiltrated by the Greys. I always thought Putin was suspicious…


Anti-Fart Pill Saves The World

March 28, 2007

Scientists have discovered a way to prevent flatulence in cows and thereby reduce 4% of the world’s carbon emissions.

As most of us know, cows produce methane in their flatulence and methane is a gas that, in excess, contributes to climate change.

As meat-production across the world increases, global bovine numbers will similarly need to rise creating an increasing methane problem that the world can ill-afford to have.

Enter the bolus, a fist-sized pill which, when combined with a special diet and strict feeding times, should reduce the levels of methane gas produced by cows.

Personally, I think scientists need to apply their solution to a whole other methane problem: human male flatulence.

Can you imagine? The end of farts! The end of fart competitions! No more fart and fire demonstations! And the fact that the pill is fist-sized? That’s just a bonus!

Source: ninemsn.com.au


And Also In Australia…

March 27, 2007

In this BBC News article referring to David Hick’s guilty plea, they refer to him as a “former farm hand and kangaroo skinner”.

I was struck by his prior occupation. How many kangaroos are skinned each year?  Is their meat edible?  Does it taste like chicken?  Or is it their fur that is valuable?  I’ve really never thought about kangaroos as a natural resource…

I leave these questions for my antipodean colleagues to research.  I’m sure the answers will surprise us all.

And this is just odd. A toad the size of a dog.

I have to say, I’m thinking of emigrating to Australia just because it’s so freakin’ weird – in an intriguing way. And with Attacks of Giant Cane Toads, there won’t be much space in the papers for anti-gay rhetoric.

If you’re covered in a kangaroo-pelt cloak, does it make you less of a target for packs of Giant Cane Toads?

(I presume “cane” means, for example, sugar cane, and not some uniquely Australian S&M fetish.)


Blackjack and hookers

March 27, 2007

Apparently, gambling and porn sites are big in workplaces in Australia:

The study found 22 per cent of users accessed “legal liability” sites such as pornographic, gambling, hacking and peer-to-peer sites at work – more than 1.6 million hits over the year. About 737,000 hits were on “adult” sites, ranging from lingerie to hardcore erotica.

Coincidentally, I’m planning to launch a new website, “Fair Dinkum Slut Strip Poker—Live!”

I’m thinking it will be a success.


Why are you surprised?

March 26, 2007

As reported in The Bay Area Reporter, Dan Bartlett, counselor to President Shrub, said – in an attempt to play down Gen. Pace’s anti-gay comment last week – “The president appreciates the sacrifice and service of every service member, and what they’re doing on a daily basis to improve the situation.”

The spokesman for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (who are leading the fight against the US military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy), Steve Ralls, said “As far as I’m aware, this is the first time the Bush White House has said they appreciate the sacrifice of gay troops.”

Um. Of course they appreciate the sacrifice of gay troops. It’s their survival they have a problem with.


Virtual Prozac

March 22, 2007

Here at Bleat!, we listen to our readers. Sometimes they send us lengthy manifestos detailing the End Times, but mostly they just want a listening ear and some friendly advice. With this in mind, we present a new column: Virtual Prozac.

Here’s our first letter:

Dear Bleat,

I want to request that you setup an advice column; if you can’t do that perhaps you can help me with something I need advice with.

I’ve been with my wife for five years now, and I’m starting to feel guilty… You see for over half of my marriage I’ve been having an extra marital affair with my mother in law.

I don’t know what to do; I love my wife with all my heart however my mother in law is the best I’ve ever had… I want them both… and to make matters worse I sometimes feel guilty having sex with my wife as I feel I should be saving that aspect of myself for my mother in law… Should I continue on down the path I am currently travelling? Or set things right?

Confused Lover

Any advice for “Confused Lover”?

(Remember, if you’ve got a problem that you need advice on, email it to “bleat at thewhimwham dot com”—your anonymity is assured!)


You’d Need A Hell Of Alot Of Tartare Sauce…

March 22, 2007

Further updates on the colossal squid caught in New Zealand waters the other day. According to ninemsn.com.au:

 “…[it] has officially weighed-in at 495kg, making it the largest ever caught. Scientists are now trying to figure out how to defrost the massive creature [for research purposes], and may use some sort of giant microwave oven.”

The mind boggles at a microwave oven capable of doing this but I can’t help but think that scientists are missing out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: the biggest calamari rings EVER. I say stuff the microwave oven; let’s get a big fire going, some tartare sauce and a potato field’s worth of chips… I’m feeling hungry already.