Corrections to the blogosphere, the consensus, and the world

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Makes my turducken look sick

From Alexandre Dumas' Dictionary of Cuisine.....

Roast a l'Imperatrice

The Trojan roast pig , stuffed with figpeckers, oysters, and thrushes, and the whole basted with good wine and fine meat broth - which the Roman Senate felt itself obliged to forbid by sumptuary law because of its extravagance - must yield to the luxury of this recipe.
Take the pit out of an olive and replace it by an anchovy. Put the olive into a lark, the lark into a quail, the quail into a partridge, the partridge into a pheasant. The pheasant in its turn disappears inside a turkey, and the turkey is stuffed into a sucking pig. Roasted, this will present the quintessence of the culinary art, the masterpiece of gastronomy. But don't make the mistake of serving it whole, just like that. The gourmand eats only the olive and the anchovy.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Case of the Twelve Red-Bearded Dwarves, part 31

Cocklecarrot suggested that this ludicrous case, which need never have come into court, could easily be settled if the dwarfs (in the person of the hydraulic laundry) would apologise to themselves (in the person of the rocking-horse firm) for having destroyed a twill covering for a non-existent tail. The dwarfs lined up, six a side, and apologised in chorus. They then left the court singing Moonlight and Mrs. Mason.

Cocklecarrot said afterwards, 'I am hoping that my next case will not include these tiresome little gentlemen. I think I am about due for a bit of straightforward stuff, without all these distractions and fooleries.'

Significant figures

"Stewie, a Maine Coon who lives in Reno, Nevada, is the world’s longest domesticated cat. He measures 48 and 1/2 inches.... "

That's the original report.
As it comes into the Odd Spot in The Age, it's
Robin Hendrickson and Erik Brandsness of Reno, Nevada, knew their pet cat, Stewie, was big but were surprised to find the five-year-old Maine Coon is a world-beater. Measuring 123.2 centimetres, he is now in the Guinness World Records as the world’s longest domestic cat.

That is, a measurement to the nearest half inch has become a measurement to the nearest tenth of a centimetre, an increase in claimed accuracy of about twelve times. Which is silly, because cat length measurements just aren't that accurate, particularly if your cat doesn't want to be measured, as mine didn't. Was Stewie measured with claws retracted or claws extended?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Reading Max Hasting's book on the fall of Japan. Some impresssive statistics.

* For every 4 tons of supplies the Americans delivered to their troops in 1944, the Japanese could manage two pounds.
* The Japanese had as many carrier planes in the Leyte theatre as the Americans had destroyers.

Australians would have surrendered. Quite rightly, of course.

Practically perfect in every way

Hearing that McKillop was to be called St. Mary of the Cross I thought that was odd, that surely that name would have been taken by now: but no, there appear to be comparatively few St. Marys - only nine, with another eight blesseds. When did the name first become popular?

St. Mary
Bl. Mary Bartholomea of Florence
Bl. Mary Angela Truszkowska
Bl. Mary Tokuan & Mary Choun
St. Mary Cleophas
St. Mary Di Rosa
Bl. Mary Guengoro
Bl. Mary MacKillop
St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi
Bl. Mary Magdalen Kiota
St. Mary Magdalen Postel
St. Mary Magdelene
St. Mary Salome
Bl. Mary Tanaura
St. Mary the Consoler
St. Mary the Slave
Bl. Mary Tokuan & Mary Choun

Oh, of course, they would have been Marias, or Maries - but no:

Bl. Maria Candida of the Eucharist
Bl. Maria Christina Brando
Bl. Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala
Bl. Maria Ludovica de Angelis
Bl. Maria Repetto
Bl. Maria Teresa Ferragud Roig
Bl. Maria Jesus
Bl. Maria Veronica
Bl. Maria Felicidad Masia
St. Maria Crocifissa Di Rosa
St. Maria de Cerevellon
St. Maria Dominic Mazzarello
St. Maria Francesca Gallo
St. Maria Giuseppe Rossello
St. Maria Goretti
Bl. Maria Liberata Pallota
St. Maria Magdalen Dei Pazzi
St. Maria Magdalen of Canossa
St. Maria Michaela Desmaisieres
Bl. Maria Pilar Martinez Garcia & Companions
St. Maria Soledad
Bl. Marie Rivier
St. Marie Claude Brard
St. Marie Croissy
St. Marie Dufour
St. Marie Hanisset
St. Marie Magdalen Desjardin
St. Marie Magdalen Fontaine
St. Marie Magdalen Postel
St. Marie Meunier
Bl. Marie of the Incarnation
Bl. Marie Rose Durocher
St. Marie St. Henry
St. Marie Teresa Couderc
St. Marie Trezelle

Only another 22 saints and 14 blesseds. 31 and 22 in all. I suppose that's fifty. Still less than I would have expected considering that Catholic women have for so many generations been given the name. I would have thought that one in two catholics were women and one in what, twenty of them were called Mary in some form or another; about 2 1/2 percent of all saints should be Maries. With about 10,000 saints in all, that would be 250. They're underrepresented.

Age Bin - Afghanistan

James Brown suggests in The Age that “The Taliban has waged a propaganda war…. Successful spin … has taken a mix of ragtag local fighters, criminal networks, and ideological extremists and linked them to the mythology of the Soviet-destroying mujahideen.”

Oh, come on. The people who puffed a handful of sandaled malcontents into a world-defying juggernaut of global terrorism were George Bush, Tony Blair, and John Howard, and they did this for the obvious reason that in their uninflated state tribesmen alternating seasonally between the hoe and the AK-47 make lousy bogeymen.

Even if you feel that Australia should have a permanent hate on for ragtag local fighters, criminal networks, and ideological extremists it should be noted that we can find them in, inter alia, Serbia, Setzuan, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Somalia, Syria, and the Solomon Islands, and the only one of those we have any business turning up in is, at a pinch, the Solomons. The Taliban are a nasty lot, but they are not the Devil, and even if they were Australia is not the Archangel Michael.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Headlines that mean different things in Australia and America


Is this a great country or what

Age/smh front page....
"The Aussie dollar last night struck a fresh 28-year high of US99.94¢ — by chance, exactly Donald Bradman’s batting average — sparking predictions that it would soon overtake the world’s reserve currency."

For extra points, explain global warming with reference to David Boon's 52.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Case of the Twelve Red-Bearded Dwarves, part 30

The case was held up again after lunch while the twelve red-bearded dwarfs were photographed, some riding the rocking-horse, which they had brought with them, others stroking it, and yet others crawling beneath its mottled belly and crying 'Peep-bo!'

Cocklecarrot: But this horse has no tail. I thought the whole case was about a length of twill to cover the tail ?

First Dwarf; M'worship, it is a guinea-horse.

Second Dwarf: Yes, your grace. If you hold it up by its tail, its head drops off.

Third Dwarf: With a bang, your ludship.

Fourth Dwarf:
We have a bicycle, too. And that has no tail, either.

Fifth Dwarf: It's a guinea-bicycle.

Sixth Dwarf; The handlebars are made of lard, as a precaution.

Cocklecarrot (savagely): Against what?

Chorus of Dwarfs: Burglary, sire.

Cocklecarrot (groaning): What in Heaven's name is all this nonsense about?

Mr. Holley-Gander: I confess, m'lud, the case is developing along unexpected lines.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


At the weekend visited the Meccano Club's annual bunfest, hoping to find their model of Babbage's difference engine,

but this was regrettably the first year it was absent, so we know it only by this picture. Still, Rose ran into a long-lost relative, and afterwards we walked over to the Brighton cemetery.

Had a rest at the Public Babies Lawn, covered in little plaques each commemorating from five to ten babies with no first names who died in local hospitals in a given month. With a grave in the centre covered with toys. Briefly contemplated what curse would follow the person who nicked a Matchbox Speed Racer.

Also the grave of Dear Friend of Poet Gordon, next to Poet Gordon (just a pillar, no statue) and the legend "Life is mainly froth and bubble/Two things stand like stone/Kindness in another's trouble/Courage in your own", which could be more widely used.

Also an odd full-size bronze statue, only one in the cemetery, of an eighteen-year-old-boy. Why him, of all the worthies buried there?

The grave of Colonel White, who sent Grandfather over the top at the Nek in 1915;

Charles Bean criticized White for leading the charge instead of remaining to supervise the operation; had he stayed behind he might have lent support to Lieutenant-Colonel N. M. Brazier, the commanding officer of the accompanying 10th Light Horse Regiment, in his appeals to Lieutenant-Colonel John Antill, brigade major of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade, to halt the third and fourth waves of the assault.

Quite a nice Egyptian tomb, forgotten the name. Also a snappy black model that I now see is by Burley Griffin.

And lovely couchgrass throughout, in the tiny areas that hadn't been graved out.

How unlike

Chris tipped the home team 60% of the time.

Chris won 1 WHOPPER voucher this year by tipping 8.

Chris finished in the top 4% of all members on with a rank of 11,743 out of 322,832*.

Chris finished with a total score of 123 and total margin of 836*.

Chris tipped their favourite team Geelong 100% of the time. They won 72% of the time. The rest of tipped Geelong 88% of the time.

Chris beat Garry Lyon, (Media Personality) by 1 tip. He finished on a score of 122.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Ring Issues

It's been pointed out to me, when speculating as here about what earthly good the One Ring was, that when it goes into the lava there are conequences;
A brief vision he (Sam) had of swirling cloud, and in the midst of it towers and battlements, tall as hills, founded upon a mighty mountain-throne above immeasurable pits; great courts and dungeons, eyeless prisons sheer as cliffs, and gaping gates of steel and adamant: and then all passed. Towers fell and mountains slid; walls crumbled and melted, crashing down; vast spires of smoke and spouting steams went billowing up, up, until they toppled like an overwhelming wave, and its wild crest curled and came foaming down upon the land. And then at last over the miles between there came a rumble, rising to a deafening crash and roar; the earth shook, the plain heaved and cracked, and Orodruin reeled. Fire belched from its riven summit. The skies burst into thunder seared with lightning. Down like lashing whips fell a torrent of black rain. And into the heart of the storm, with a cry that pierced all other sounds, tearing the clouds asunder, the Nazgûl came, shooting like flaming bolts, as caught in the fiery ruin of hill and sky they crackled, withered, and went out.

So apparently Sauron built the towers - and mountains? - with the ring - "Ring, erect me a tower!" and maintained them with the ring, or rather (because Sauron himself hadn't touched the ring for a long while) the ring maintained them. That would certainly be a useful trick, but (a) you could make towers and orcs and engines without the ring, because Saruman did; and (b) you could get new troops and orcs and engines without the ring, because Sauron didn't seem to need them the second time around. The sensible thing would have been for Sauron and his orcs to put up new barracks and live in them rather than taking the measurable risk of inhabiting ring-built towers, battlements, mountain-thrones, pits, courts, dungeons, prisons , and gaping gates that were liable to sudden collapse.
Other points that come up are Who did he keep in the prisons and dungeons? and What happened to them when the walls fell in?
it's not an entirely trivial point, now I come to think of it; it suggests, surely, that there were disagreements under Sauron, which is to say politics, which is to say that if he was entirely evil (and we never do get to hear his side of the story, do we?) then people who opposed him must have had some good in them, which means that the average platoon of orcs must have included at least one sweetie.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

They're nationalising the pubs

I'll be damned. My father was in favour of nationalising the pubs.

Forum Votes For Seating In Hotels
Canberra Times,
Friday, June 18, 1954

A "straw" vote on A.C.T. liquor reform at St. Pauls Anglican Club forum last night voted overwhelmingly for compulsory seating as a condition of the sale of liquor; also improved drinking conditions and extended hours.

The snap vote was suggested unexpectedly at the conclusion of the forum, in which speakers were Mr. A. T. Shakespeare, of the A.C.T. Advisory Council, Mr. F J McCauley, president of the A.C.T. Trades and Labour Council, Mrs. N. Park, representing the National Council of Women, and Mr. A. Borthwick, of the Anglican Club.

All 22 persons who voted favoured a change in the present conditions for drinking.

There was only one dissent to a proposal that liquor be served only where compulsory seating was in force.

Twenty persons, including both men and women, did not favour existing hotel hours, eight favoured extended hours; nine favoured extended hours without increasing trading hours.

Twenty-one voters favoured extended hours without improved drinking conditions.


Leading the discussion, Mr. Shakespeare said the crucial test in a reform was the response it received in terms of human behaviour. The question arose whether liquor reform was wanted or reform of liquor.

He advocated that before liquor itself might be reformed there should be scientific research into alcoholic content which would reveal the facts and be a basis for a standard.

Mr. Shakespeare said liquor reform depended for its efficacy as a reform on the behaviour of the individual. The proper study of Australian behaviour was a subject which had been studiously avoided by institutions of learning.

Until there had been a study of Australian behaviour, every reformer would be groping in the dark in endeavouring to assess the value of any reform, he said.

He did not believe the alteration of trading hours was a reform of any value unless it was accompanied by other needs of greater importance He listed them in order as Liquor content; human behaviour in relation to liquor; conditions that the law prescribed for the control of liquor; and the hours of trading.


The fundamental fact in Canberra was the serious underprovision of hotels. The liquor trade had so far shown lack of interest in providing capital to improve drinking facilities for the public.

Extensions of hours would increase profits without increasing service to the public.

Questions which should be decided by the people were whether they favoured present hotel facilities, and whether they favoured the provision of liquor only to persons seated.

Other reforms in Canberra would be the establishment of community hotels, even if ac- commodation requirements were waived for five years, provided there was silting room and improved drinking facilities.


Mr. F. J. McCauley said reforms must be considered in the light of benefit to the community and not individuals.

He said he did not feel that altering the hours of liquor trading was a reform. The metropolitan Press, as agent of the breweries, had stressed the necessity for longer trading hours, and shed crocodile tears over the "unfortunate" unable to obtain a drink when necessary

'I believe there will never be any worthwhile liquor reform until breweries are nationalised," he said.

"The huge profits of the breweries must be turned to better advantage. Those profits could be used for the development of Australia."

Community hotels had been introduced successfully in other States, and could be used in Canberra. There was room for four - at Ainslie, Deakin-Yarralumla, O'Connor and Narrabun- dah. More hotels were urgently required. On N.S.W figures there should be ten more in Canberra.

He advocated liberalisation of club licences, as they were conducive to a dignified atmosphere in drinking.

Stating he preferred to see standing at bars eliminated, he added that conditions would be more orderly if drinkers queued for their beers. Food should also be provided at reasonable prices.

The question of extended hours warranted an alteration in the hours of trading. He suggested hotels trade from 10 a.m to 2 p.m., from 3.30 p.m. to 6 p.m. and from 7.30 to 10 p.m. Con sidoration should be given to employées required to work broken shifts.


Mrs. N. Park said the Australian outlook to drink was different from overseas. An Englishman told her, "We drink for pleasure; you Australians drink to get drunk."

Abroad the main function of alcohol was an adjunct to food in gay surroundings, but in Australia the whole subject was out of focus.

The abuse of liquor had resulted in a sinister atmosphere in which children were brought up to regard hotels and wine saloons as 'dens of iniquity." Opaque windows and closed bar doors built up this mystery.

She said drastic reform in the A.C.T. might provide an example for the rest of Australia.

She advocated reduced alcoholic content, longer trading hours, ample seating facilities and attractive surroundings, that light refreshments be available, and at least one beer garden or communal centre be set up in Canberra.

Mrs. Park said liquor reform involved adult education on when to drink, what to drink, and where to drink It.


Mr. Borthwick said the problem of liquor reform was one of conscience. Prohibition was not the effective answer in Australia. Longer hours did not necessarily mean more drunkenness.

Hours were less important than the attitude to drink.

The liquor trade in Canberra, as in the rest of Australia, looked to nothing but profit.

'There is no tradition of courtesy or service," he said.

The community hotel suggestion was excellent, but the movement several years ago collapsed through lack of support.

Adoption by the Trades and Labour Council and the A.C.T. Advisory Council might form the nucleus of a movement to make it possible.

The liquor trade had abused its opportunity in Australia, and nationalisation of breweries was not so illogical as it seemed.

"The trade has asked for it," he said.

"Unless profit motives are taken away, I cannot see how reforms can be effected."

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