Sunday, September 30

to balance or not to balance

Last Wednesday, under the influence of performance-enhancing tea, I swam a mile without stopping. That's a personal milestone, literally.

The next day, I was booked in for an exercise stress test of my heart at the hospital. At first they said they couldn't go ahead with the test because my blood pressure is too low (80/45) and I might fall over. I reassured them that I had never fallen over before. So the test went ahead. They wire you up, then put you on a treadmill and ramp up the speed and increase the slope, until you can't take any more. At stage 4, even though my blood pressure had only risen as far as 130/60, I begged for mercy. They said that for my age I was officially in excellent cardiac shape, and that after I came off the treadmill my heart rate recovered to normal unusually fast.

Unfortunately the rest of me has yet to recover. I've been too knackered even to blog. I've been so knackered that I had to cancel a visit to my therapist, which is a pity as I had planned to ask him about my friend. The friend lives in Edinburgh and is suffering from a suspected case of bipolar disorder.

Because everything balances up, down here in the South Pacific I've been suffering from unipolar disorder. My mental state has been too unrelentingly smooth. Back in the days when I was in the habit of taking half a bliss pill every 2 days, I was happy. Then I read somewhere that the drug disappears from the blood after 24 hours, so that meant the bliss levels must have been fluctuating wildly. So these days I take a quarter of a pill every day, and though it's true I'm more stable as a result, I am continually snarly.

I can't decide which is better - to dip in and out of ecstasy and dismay, or drift smoothly along in continuous resentment. What do you think?

Meanwhile, here's the japonica thing again, transforming from bud to flower:

Wednesday, September 26

HNT - booboid pics and a booboid joke

In honour of os's other HNT Boobie-Thon theme in support of breast cancer research , I'm posting some unusual views of this truly versatile organ.

The first one is a re-post of an old HNT picture, showing a bottle of my home brewed beer, I think it was an extra strong brown ale. What is unusual about this photo is that it's photopoeic1, i.e. having a visual quality that imitates the effect of the object it is describing. In this case, a severe case of brewer's droop.

1 - from the Greek words "photo" (image) and "poio" (verb meaning "to create"). Thus it essentially means "image-creating".


A family is at the dinner table. The son asks his father, "Dad, how many kinds of boobs are there? The father, surprised, answers, "Well son, there are three kinds of breasts. In her 20s, a woman's breasts are like melons, round and firm. In her 30s to 40s, they are like pears, still nice but hanging a bit. After 50, they are like onions." "Onions?" "Yes, you see them and they make you cry."

This infuriated his wife and daughter so the daughter said, "Mom, how many kinds of willies are there?" The mother, surprised, smiles and answers, "Well dear, a man goes through three phases. In his 20s, his Willy is like an oak tree, mighty and hard. In his 30s and 40s, it is like a birch, flexible but reliable. After his 50s, it is like a Christmas tree". "A Christmas tree?" "Yes - dead from the root up, and the balls are just for decoration."


Friday, September 21

the empire strikes out

Last week, it took the Ph.D. of the ghastly Condy to warn the world that stabilising Iraq will be a lengthy process. And she's one of the smart ones! If it wasn't so tragic it would be funny.

The Aussie writer Larry Buttrose reckons
US forces are beaten ... by an enemy without fear or moral scruples, and by their own foolish commander-in-chief who dispatched them to a war that lacked any clear goal and was always unwinnable. They have been betrayed by a mixture of gullibility, bravado, greed and simple bloody-mindedness. They are spiritually defeated, beaten by men who possess little more than spirit. ... The cost of keeping them there is astronomical, but the final cost item ... is that while America has been making war, its real opponent, China, has been making money.

In Iraq, we may well be witnessing the eclipse of the US as the world's leading power. Lose, draw, stalemate in Iraq - especially lose, the most likely outcome - the US will never be the same. Once beaten, its spirit will not recover, and it will go the way of Egypt, Athens, Rome, the Ottomans and Britons.

Even before losing this war, America was said to be experiencing imperial overstretch: the total of the United States's global interests and obligations is nowadays far too large for the country to be able to defend them all simultaneously.

Could any blogvisitors who have studied American economic history comment?

Buttrose adds that the U.S.
... is being surpassed by peaceful, resourceful China, clever China, ruthless China, China one in nationhood and in spirit, a nation of history, of antiquity, which daily grows stronger and ... stands at the brink of economic triumph over the First World's first nation, the US.

The years 2001-08, September 11 to the Beijing Olympics, have been critical for the US, and may well mark its turning point towards eclipse. They are also the years of the Bush Jr presidency, when George W. made America history.
If you want more evidence, look at Mattel, the world’s largest toy maker, which recalled (allegedly) dangerous lead-painted Chinese-made toys, but today decided to apologize formally to China.

For an opposing view, see e.g. "China's growth is hollow".

Meanwhile, in other news, most world airlines are falling over themselves to equip their planes so that passengers can use their own mobile phones in flight. The world's most popular phone banality - "I'm on the bus" - may be replaced by "I'm on the plane".

The only rational news item is that Led Zep are reforming for one concert in November.

Thursday, September 20

snow flower HNT

It's spring here, flowering time for the so-called Snow White Ti Tree Leptospermum scoparium (aka Manuka or Tea tree), a native of New Zealand and southeast Australia.

(click it to big it)


If you're desperate, you can access all the old half baked thursday posts here.

Tuesday, September 18

clive on mao

Readers of The Observer in the 70s and 8os will perhaps have enjoyed Clive James' TV criticism as much as I did.

In James' most recent book, Cultural Amnesia, he describes more than 100 different people who defined the 20th-century. One chapter is about Mao Zedong:

Let a hundred flowers bloom, let a hundred
schools of thought contend

For the trick to work, millions of people had to believe the words meant what they said, even though the Party had never rewarded a contentious voice with anything except torture and death.

Anyway, the suckers fell for it. The flowers bloomed, the schools of thought contended, and Mao's executioners went to work. The slogan had the same function as the Constitution of the Soviet Union, which Aleksandr Zinoviev tellingly defined as a document published in order to find out who agreed with it, so that they could be dealt with.
Cultural Amnesia, p 457

People who still insist that socialism would have been great but it was never given enough of a chance, are using the same argument as my grandmother. I can still remember her telling me that Hitler had great ideas but they were never given a chance.

Tuesday, September 11

back from the bush

Just back from the long weekend we spent in the middle of nowhere, avoiding George Bush, but not avoiding the holiday traffic. Drove most of Friday to get to the shack, and all of Sunday getting back again.

While we were away, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, the US President, for whom the English language is "not a tool so much as a room full of baited mousetraps", praised Australia for hosting "the OPEC summit ... I mean APEC summit". He went on to thank "the Austrian troops" for helping in Iraq.

While at the shack I amused myself by recording one of the deifheids detailing their various bowel infections over the years. I'm tempted to turn it into a podcast.

Was a little shocked to discover the dog has a killer instinct, trying to take on a bull in the field next to the shack. And at one stage she ran off deep into the woods after a 6-foot red kangaroo, probably introduced originally from Australia. One kick or a punch from that and she'd be dead. She must have made some kind of contact, because when she eventually came home she had a limp and her tail between her legs.

Great dog-walk this morning. The spring flower-burst continues:

Thursday, September 6

going bush

George Bush is stopping off here on his way back from the APEC conference in Australia, so we're leaving town to see the more interesting bush. This is a photo of the bush shack we're renting:

We're going with the deifheids.
(deifheids n. - people who are unable to listen to anyone else, because they're too busy talking about themselves.)

No TV, radio or telephones. Just deifheids jammed on repeat play. Thank goodness for earplugs, and I'll be able to talk to the trees and the dogs. They usually listen.

I'll try to take some invertebrate photos for ion.

ion - I cannot find any "leave a comment" link at your place. This is happening with one other blog, so it may partly be a problem at my end.

Wednesday, September 5

then and now

In response to Os's DT theme and Lee Ann's then and now challenge. Amazing how photography has improved over the years.