girlyswot

January 18, 2007

Doomsday clock moves forward and more birds die

Filed under: Uncategorized — girlyswot @ 9:33 am

As the Doomsday clock had ticked forward to 5 minutes to midnight, there’s news of more mysterious bird deaths in Western Australia.

Two hundred birds have died in a small farming community, which is 400km west of Esperence where 4000 birds have died (up from 1000 in the initial reports). The birds haven’t died of bacterial or viral infections, so scientists are waiting to see what else is causing the deaths.

There’s some crazy stuff going on in WA. There have been reports in the last week of a radioactive canister that went missing. It was found yesterday and had apparently fallen off the back of a truck.

Man, do I feel safe and secure.

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January 10, 2007

the execution

Filed under: Uncategorized — girlyswot @ 11:51 am

The consequences of Saddams’s execution are only just beginning. While the effects in Iraq were expected, one unexpected outcome is that children around the world are hanging themselves after watching the video on TV. I think we’re up to 12 or 13 now.

The disturbing thing is that many of them are playing ‘execution’ and accidentally die. I wonder Saddam’s been demonised so much that he’s like a cartoon villain. His execution, played on television news is like a cartoon death.

The trial has started back again this week as well, bizarrely with an empty seat for Saddam. He still had to face trial for genocide of the Kurds when he was executed. Now the charges have been dropped against him.

Has justice been done?

the end is nigh?

Filed under: Uncategorized — girlyswot @ 11:44 am

It’s doom and portents in the news this week.

  • breathing the air in mumbai is the equivalent of smoking 2 and half packs of ciggies a day
  • a two-headed cow that was born in the US
  • And then there’s the birds:

  • One story in Austin, Texas a couple of days ago — birds dropping dead, no known cause.
  • One story in Esperence, Western Australia — a thousand dead birds, no known cause.

    It’s how the beginning of the end started in Do androids dream of electric sheep? (Bladerunner). Philip K. Dick did believe he was communing with God through a beam of pink light — could it be that he is, in fact, a prophet?

January 5, 2007

Australians who made 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — girlyswot @ 10:58 am

The obligatory New Year lists have been published and while most are inane and some downright embarrassing the Age’s list of Australians who made 2006 has some surprising additions.

While the male category is topped and tailed by Steve Irwin and Shane Warne, which is about as predictable as you get, they sandwich the Socceroos team, Terry Hicks and Tim Flannery. What does this mean for Australian culture? Will soccer become the national game in the next 20 years. Australians love excelling at sport and there’s no bigger stage than the World Cup. I think none will rest until it’s in our hands.

Now Terry Hicks is a very interesting addition. Terry Hicks is the father of Guantanamo detainee David Hicks, who has been held illegally by the US government for five years without even being charged (let alone being tried and convicted). He’s been tortured and be kept in solitary confinement for much of that time. Big news around Christmas time was David Hicks’ inability to take a phone call from his family because he would be unable to cope with the aftermath.

The Age has been running a campaign to release Hicks and Terry has been given a lot of press. Seems like sentiment about Hicks’ detention is changing. For ages, he was seen as a terror suspect and therefore deserving of whatever he got. But now, his dad is number 3 Australian. Maybe there will be justice for David Hicks this year.

Number 3 is Tim Flannery, who now seems to be Australia’s favourite scientist. Climate Change was THE big issue for 2006, so it fits.

What about the women? The list is a lot less interesting than the men and it looks like the readers were clutching at straws. Let’s see, who’s a well-known Australian woman? I know, Kylie. She’s number 1. Then there’s Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, who let’s face it, is very very rich and does a lot of Good Works. Then we’ve got seven-time world number one surfer Layne Beachley, Julia Gillard at 4 (does this mean Federal Labor have got a shot at the next election?) and Cate Blanchett at number 5.

December 18, 2006

There’s headlines, then there’s HEADLINES.

Filed under: Uncategorized — girlyswot @ 10:57 am

The thrust of latest Red Cross/Red Crescent World Disasters Report is that there’s lots of disasters that happen in the world every day that don’t get reported in the media. For example, every 90 minutes a Nepalese woman dies from childbirth. Every day. All year. And it’s not a headline. (Most die because they bleed to death — easily preventable).

There’s been a lot of discussion over the years what makes a headline and why some news just ain’t news. Why the media report heavily on disasters like the Indian Ocean Tsunami but not other disasters. Why, when there are more children who die every day from poverty than died in the tsunami, it’s not even a blip on an RSS feed.

So what does it take? What’s a headline? Here’s what various news editors and directors say:

1. There’s got to be the local connection. We’re a parochial bunch after all. They say that the Tsunami was a popular news story because it happened at popular holiday destinations.
2. Offer solutions — people want to hear that they can do something.
3. If you’re an NGO, pitch a story that you’d like to see in the news.
4. Develop personal connections with journalists — they’ll help ya if they know ya.

There’s nothing groundbreaking in that advice. And of course they don’t mention that reporting the news is not just about informing and educating the public. It’s about selling the product and making a profit. News editors are much more likely to go with the old chestnuts like sex, scandal and sensation. It reminds me of the joke:

Dubya and Rumsfeld are sitting in a bar. A journalist walks up to them and says, “What are you guys talking about?”
Rumsfeld says, “We’re planning a war in Iraq. We’re going to kill a million Muslims and a blonde woman with big tits.”
The journalist asks, “Why are you going to kill a blonde woman with big tits?”
Rumsfeld whispers to Dubya, “See! I told you they wouldn’t notice the million Muslims.”

Boom boom.

December 15, 2006

Hoods ain’t no good

Filed under: Uncategorized — girlyswot @ 10:07 am

Well boys, it’s official. If you’re circumcised you cut the chance of catching HIV in half. Circumcising works so well that researchers stopped clinical trials in Kenya and Uganda to announce the results. There’s a couple of reasons why they think it works.

1. Because the cells on the inside of the foreskin are particularly susceptible to HIV infection and they’re cut off when a man is circumcised.
2. HIV also may survive better in a warm, wet environment like that found beneath a foreskin.

How ’bout that. Of course using condoms is still the best way to prevent the spread of HIV.

Read more about the study.

December 14, 2006

How many fluent Arabic speakers work at the US Embassy in Iraq?

Filed under: Uncategorized — girlyswot @ 1:48 pm

6.

That’s right, six people speak Arabic fluently out of 1000 staff. A further 33 speak any Arabic at all. No wonder the war’s going so well.

Read the full Iraq Study Group report.

December 13, 2006

corruption

Filed under: Uncategorized — girlyswot @ 5:52 am

This week Transparency International released the Corruption Perception Index, which ranks more than 150 countries by their perceived levels of corruption. And the winners are:

Least corrupt
Finland
Iceland
New Zealand
Denmark

Most corrupt
Haiti
Myanmar
Iraq
Guinea

According to Transparency International, this year’s index highlights a strong correlation between corruption and poverty. This is interesting because one of the arguments used against aid is that it is siphoned off by corrupt governments. But I think the results really indicate that if we reduce overall levels of poverty, then countries also become less corrupt.

Find out more

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