Friday, August 29, 2008

Designing the Qantas A380 interior

Very interesting article in the New York Times about the challenges faced by Marc Newson in designing the interior of the new Qantas Airbus A380 aircraft, especially in light of all the criticism the design has received.

Design Notebook - Marc Newson Designs a Superjumbo -

Monday, August 25, 2008

Kita turns two

Kita turned two years old yesterday! He got a new toy and promptly damaged it (through love, as always), a meal of My Dog and a long walk. I tried to buy him some bones but the butcher had run out. The chicken shop had also sold out of chicken necks. So he gets to eat frozen uncooked chicken wings this week.

His party had to wait until tonight when his two "cousins" (the in-laws' Cavalier King Charles spaniels) came to stay while their back fence is repaired. Kita ran round and round the back yard in circles with excitement. But once he got tired I think he just wanted to hang out with us as he usually does. He takes after us, likes his quiet family time (and has my stumpy legs and long torso). Such a wonderful dog. Happy birthday Kita!

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Two perspectives on border security

Two television shows on border protection tonight, two very different perspectives. First was Channel 7's Border Security, featuring quarantine and immigration officials at Australian airports. Full of hyperbole about keeping "undesirables" (food, drugs or people!) out of the country. Border Security is generally acknowledged as a guilty pleasure amongst my friends and colleagues.

Then there was tonight's episode of Australian Story on the ABC. It featured the story of Daniel Meadows, a "vlogger" who fell in love with a US girl over the internet. He flew across to the United States to meet her, his very first trip out of the country, but was detained by US Department of Homeland Security on suspicion of terrorism and risk of overstaying. His crime was having a joke email, an FBI cap, no job and, according to the officials, no ties back home. He was deported back to Australia and placed on the Watch List.

That's the sad fact about the immigration authorities. Amongst the various incoming visitors who wish to abuse the system there are also many with sad or unusual stories to tell. You hope that there is a level of compassion and understanding amongst officials that transcends the bureaucracy.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Our little Olympian

It seems like we have our own little Olympian in our household. Perhaps inspired by the games, Baby is doing a full workout inside of Mummy. No quite certain which sport Baby is practising, but feeling those movements really brings home that fact that there is a independent little life in there. It's quite wonderful, though those bumps and thumps really are quite strong and disturb B from her sleep now and then.

Yesterday we visited the Hurstville Community Private Hospital, where B is scheduled to give birth, for the first time. Quite a small hospital, not so "white" as I'm used to. Seems nice enough though and the reviews have been quite positive.

Such a lovely day outside and I'm stuck inside with a head cold and trying to finish a report for our meeting in Canberra on Monday. Would rather be sleeping, to tell the truth. Still, at least I get to fly tomorrow and do a comparison between Virgin Blue and Qantas. Hopefully the latter won't be delayed!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

It's time to go to war!

I've been watching Australia fall down in the Beijing Olympic medal list. The cause is simple. Forget swimming - or as it might be called, the art of not drowning whilst travelling quickly in a horizontal direction. It's the disciplines of war and violence that get you the medals.

Boxing, wrestling, shooting, fencing, archery, judo, javelin, taekwondo. All the different weight combinations, distances, forms of weapons. There are so many medal chances!

And who is winning these medals? Countries who have land borders with outer nations. Nations at war now or in the recent past. China, North and South Korea on the podium in the Men's 10m Air Pistol and China, Russia and Georgia in the Women's event. Russia was invading Georgia when the latter two contestants were duking it out on the shooting range. How's that for motivation?

The problem with Australia is that we don't share land borders with anyone. So what's the point of learning how to shoot, kick, stab, wrestle, spear or punch? The only thing we seem good at is clay target shooting, but that might be a cultural fear of using china plates.

Maybe if roadside bombing was a sport we could compete with the Afghans and Iraqi's. Machete fencing against Timorese and Solomon Islanders is another possibility. We can look at making them demonstration sports in future, but I think we need a solid start as soon as possible.

We need to invade New Zealand. They are close. We can almost speak their language. We've already stolen their rugby coach. And they have an airforce without combat aircraft. As aerial dogfighting is not an Olympic sport the latter fact will not cause any difficulties.

Invade, and gold medals await the victor!

Friday, August 08, 2008

The Olympic Spirit

The Beijing Olympics begin today. Two decades ago, in 1988, they were held in Seoul, Korea. We were on holiday at Blackwater in outback Queensland at the time. Why Blackwater? I don't know as I don't recall actually seeing anything but long coal trains running past the caravan park where we pitched our tent. We listened to the Olympics over the radio. They kept playing a particular piece of music during the coverage which I rather enjoyed.

It was quite a few years later when I discovered that the piece was called The Olympic Spirit and was written by my favourite composer, John Williams for the NBC coverage of the games.

On the drive back from Blackwater I listened to the soundtrack to Chariots of Fire. I don't quite think I saw the connection to the Olympics at the time!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Pet dogs can 'catch' human yawns

The BBC is reporting on a paper by Senju et. al. published in Biology Letters that Pet dogs can 'catch' human yawns. It apparently demonstrates that dogs can empathise with humans.

I already use this technique on Kita when I want him to go to sleep!

The One

Last night on Channel Se7ven The One, Australia's most gifted psycho, was announced.

The final competitors were:

Jack - His gifts included the ability to hear voices, to speak to non-existent people and fund raising activities.

Jill - A deft hand with a knife and a knitting needle, Jills skills were often compared to those of Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction.

Bill - Currently employed at Macquarie Bank.

It was Bill who impressed the judges the most. Here's a sample of his talents...

"I see bodies everywhere... No, not a boardroom reshuffle. I sense a positive aura about this situation. Yes, it's clear now. It's, it's... mass redundancies."

With that vision our psychic judges could see their stock rising and voted Bill, The One.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Feeling hungry

F!#$ the fragant chicken cartilage and the hexangular germ fries the cowboy bone.

If Sichuan food wasn't already too spicy to eat then maybe the translated names of the dishes will put you off!

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