The other day I came across a story on the internet about a couple of Italian teenagers in the 1950s who used to listen in on the American and Russian space ships as they flew overhead.

They claimed that (among other things) they had heard several unannounced Russian space failures, including one ship that unintentionally left orbit and headed off into space never to return, and a couple where something went wrong and the cosmonauts appeared to perish in orbit.

It was all a little unnerving to think about it too much. Not necessarily unexpected what else we know about the Communist government’s general history and behaviour or the problems with the Russian space program that we do know about.

Overall the story is a good short read though.

Brisbane academy of gastronomic art

In the last week or so Charlotte has latched onto the dual ideas that (1) food can be something to play with, as well as to eat, and (2) this feeding malarkey doesn’t look too hard, and dammit if dad can feed me that I can sure as hell give it a try as well.

The result is that to varying degrees she is not letting us just feed her directly, but rather insisting on picking up the food with her finger, or (more messily, strangely) trying to use the spoon herself. Now given that she’s transitioning into chunky finger food type meals (perhaps unexpectedly she quite likes broccoli) away from “You’d better not ask what’s in that” mush, the potential for food spreadage is theoretically reduced, but not enough that the overall process isn’t creating a fair bit more work for me at the end of every dinner.

So for the next little while at least we get to roll up her sleeves and ours, and spend the evening making enquiries into the canvas properties of high chair trays, the aesthetic qualities of spaghetti and pre-chewed potato, and the role of passing cats as professional art critics (I don’t know art, says Jack, but I know what tastes good when it’s dropped).

The process of science

One of the games I own and play periodically is called Evil Genius, and in it you control minions, including scientist minions.

Now in the game, the process of scientific progress and innovation involves said scientist minions wandering around your secret lair and looking for things that can be combined together to create new (and hopefully useful) objects.

This appears to be how Charlotte’s brain is working at the moment, and I’m chuffed to watch it in action. She keeps on picking one thing up, wandering around with it for a while, finding something else, looking at it thoughtfully for a moment, and then either directly hitting it with the first object (which is often a wodden block or plastic spoon) or picking it up and trying to smack the two things together. Recent combinations include aforementioned plastic ball + another plastic ball. Plastic ball + TV. Lid from toilet roll holder + bath toy. Toilet roll + bath tap. Xylohone toy + daddy’s leg. And all of them make good noises (the last combination producing a very satisfying “Ouch” for her efforts), which is an added bonus.

Triple vision

Something I saw today that somewhat concerned me was a pile of rubbish on the curb side which included three separate television sets.

Now I should explain that the council here runs these periodic big item cleanup runs where they warn a given suburb and then go around with truck and collect objects that would otherwise normally be too big to go into a normal rubbish bin.

The question I have is why do you need three TVs to start with? And additionally how many more do you have around that you can part with three of them in one go? Haven’t people got better, or at least other things to be doing apart from all watching separate things on separate idiot boxes?

Al Jazeera

One of the recent developments in journalism has been the rise of the Qatar based Al Jazeera network. When I heard  a few year ago that they were begining an English language version to compete with the likes of CNN I was most pleased. One of the things I really like is watching some of the English language versions of international news casts (the German DW TV being the prime example) simply for the fact that they present a non anglo-american view both of international issues, and local stories you would not otherwise see, and this kind of diversity I think is a vital component of the kind of tolerantly multicultural planet we need to become in the long run.

The reason Al Jazeera fills such an important niche is that western news organisations almost totally fail to tell the tales of all the Muslims in the middle east and elsewhere who live normal, moral, religiously faithful but tolerant, and otherwise worthwhile lives. They’re good at covering oppressed Iranians and palestinians, and fanatical afghans and so forth, but neglect the fact that these all represent the minority, like neo-Nazis in europe and Gangster rappers in the US (if you believed the popular media you’d believe they were everywhere).

The most recent cool thing regarding Al Jazeera I’ve seen was during the early days of the Mumbai terror attacks, and the Australian news channels kept crossing to get live updates from the Al Jazeera correspondent who must have been one of the first foreign journalists on site, and happened to be a blond english sounding woman, who did nothing but add credibility to the notion of her network rapidly becoming a respectible player in the world of international news.

The David Hospital

I have started work at a hospital where there are five ortho registrars, and four of us are called Dave. The fifth is a Margot, and she is being honourarily (or perhaps insultingly) called Dave or Davina by a number of people.

The Med super and his locum are also called Dave.

They’re bloody everywhere I tell you…


Another thing I have experienced since returning to Brisbane, which I don’t specifically recall experiencing previously, is a disquieting sense of incredulity when I see passenger airliners flying overhead. I small part of the back of my brain has taken to piping up and whispering quietly “You know that what you’re looking at is a couple of tons of aluminium and gadgetry hanging in the air supported by nothing but a bit of gas. Surely it can’t really be doing that can it?”

Now I have a good (rudimentary) understanding of the pressure dynamics that cause a certain curved shape wing to produce an upward lifting force, but I am still experiencing this non-transient disbelief.

One of my bosses suggested that you started to think about things and experience doubt about the details involved more as you got older. Whether this was due to becoming more sceptical as you got older, or just some neurodegenerative condition they didn’t venture an opinion.

Whatever the cause, I really would be happier reverting to my previously certain state.

Preset Town

In one of the posts that’s been sitting in my drafts tray for a while now, I have noticed since returning to Brisbane that this is a realy Preset town. Radio stations seem to be constantly playing their stuff, which given that they really only have about 3 or 4 songs on high rotation is quite an achievement. Of course I’m not complaining, since I own the album and certainly think it would be one of my top musical purchases from last years.

I was going to embed a link to their MySpace page earlier in this post, just by way of reference, but when I went there I found that they had the music video of “If I know you”, and got so excited about it that I had to watch it through before returning to writing this. Check it out, and while you do that I’m going to listen to the song a few more times….