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Are you that special person who - weary from trudging the endless superhighways - just longs to camp next to a glorious oasis of the mind? Do you desire to explore new frontiers, splash in shared ideas, fill your belly with the refreshing fruits of inspiration, and bask in the gentle rays of fond reflection?

Well, you can fuck right off. This, my friends, is not that place. This place is... The ShadowLands.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

In case you have any change left...

Top 12 Obama marketing moments over this way.

Meanwhile, Obama supporters are wondering what's next?

Irfan's civil discussions

Irfan Yusuf did not identify himself at the Sydney Writers' Festival discussions on blogging, but we are 99 per cent sure he is the one who stood up near the end to berate Tim Blair about some long-archived comments on Tim's old blog.

We can only guess this means Irf does not consider himself to be a journalist, as identifying yourself is one of the basic tenets of the Australian journalists' Code of Ethics.

Anyway, Irfan has supposedly reported on it for Crikey.

It is most ironic to see him describe the affair as "surprisingly civil", as his contribution was clearly the most uncivil part of the entire discussion.

We can be fairly sure the questioner was Irf because, as described here, finding comments on blogs from which he can then manufacture outrage appears to be pretty much the one thing that gets him out of bed in the morning.

Of course, if he ever wanted some credibility, there is another path he could be taking.

UPDATE: Something of a disagreement in comments.

Revenge of the cloned Fonzies

Too many video clips feature lyrics that appear to have nothing at all to do with the images we see. That's why literal videos, like this were invented. BTW, if you haven't seen the literal video of "White Wedding", then do yourself a favour.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

More passing shadows

* Doug Ross brings us an award winning letter of complaint

* The pursed lips of a lonely dugong

* The science news cycle

* Looks like a little storm is brewing over at Werribee Watch

* A couple of interesting links from minicapt: google maps of North Korea and the viking mystery of Baffin Island. Thanks mini.

Funny things

If you can put aside for a moment the fact that Zimbabweans have the shortest life expectancy in the world, and that many of these deaths are caused by malnutrition, then this story about green groups stripping shops of genetically modified food for health reasons would be funny. Go on then, have a laugh.

Maybe there is something funny about this too - I just can't think of it right now.

Meanwhile, the Rudd government appears to be taking something of a Zimbabwean approach to Australia's agriculture.

Organisms united

Friday, May 29, 2009

Passing shadows

* An excellent bar trick

* For lovers of tennis only

* How to bribe a Swazi police officer

Cinema thing Friday

Warning: Maybe NSFW due to flashes of naked hippies

ABC's Q and A bias

The first series for the year of Australian television's Q and A finished up last night after 16 episodes.

The ShadowLands has just completed an analysis of all the guests the ABC has had on the show so far this year. Assuming that someone who supports the ALP or political causes to its left are "lefties", and those who support the Liberal Party or political causes to its right are "righties", our major conclusions are as follows:

* Lefties outnumbered righties on the panel for 12 out of 16 weeks.

* There was balance between lefties and righties for 3 out of 16 weeks.

* Righties outnumbered lefties one week, (but the non-politician righties Susan Cato and Wendy Machin were both fairly restrained on the night.)

* 42 out of 80 guests were lefties (52.5 %)

* 27 out of 80 guests were righties (33.75%)

* 11 out of 80 guests were of indeterminate political persuasion (13.75%)

* Excluding the two Federal politicians from opposing sides who appeared each week, 27 guests were lefties, 12 were righties and 11 were of indeterminate political persuasion.

* Three Islamic representatives were given the chance to speak for the Islamic world, but no Jewish people were given a similar opportunity any week. One Jewish person who did appear, (Louise Adler) spread vile falsehoods about Israel that the show has yet to correct.

* Only one vocal AGW climate sceptic appeared, namely Andrew Bolt. This won't surprise anyone who knows about this.

The following is the data that we have used to make these conclusions. Please note, there were 15 appearances by Federal politicians from the ALP (lefties) and 15 from the coalition (righties) *. These are included in total figures. For the sake of brevity, we bring you all the other guests and our analysis of their position on the political scale.

We are happy to change these designations and our conclusions if readers can show evidence to make us change our minds.

Week 1
Peter Cosgrove - neither
Fiona Wood - neither
Tania Major - neither
Tim Flannery - lefty
Jonty Bush - neither

Week 2
Kate Carnell - righty
Senator Christine Milne – lefty
Paul Howes - lefty

Week 3
Leslie Cannold - lefty
Jonathan Biggins - lefty
Sabrina Houssami – neither (a bit confused)

Week 4
Sally Warhaft, - lefty
Rebecca Weisser - righty
Geoffrey Cousins – supports whoever is in power, thus - lefty

Week 5
John Symond, - neither
Noeline Brown - lefty
Dr Tanveer Ahmed - righty

Week 6
Bettina Arndt – righty
Bruce Wolpe – lefty
Fr Peter Kennedy – lefty

Week 7
Andrew Bolt- righty
Louise Adler – lefty
Susan Carland - lefty

Week 8
Satyajit Das - neither
Dennis Altman - lefty
Rachel Fry - righty

Week 9
Andrew Boe - lefty
Jane Caro - lefty
John Hewson - neither - no evidence he supports any conservative causes these days.

Week 10
John Elliott - righty
Catherine Deveny – lefty
Stephen Crittenden – lefty

Week 11
PJ O’Rourke – righty
Cindy Pan - neither
David Marr – lefty

Week 12
Sarah Hanson Young - lefty
Pru Goward – righty
Wesley Enoch - lefty

Week 13
Greg Sheridan - righty
Guy Rundle - lefty
Randa Abdel Fattar - lefty

Week 14
Misha Shubert - lefty
Geoffrey Cousins– lefty
Elizabeth Ann Macgregor – neither

Week 15
Bob Ellis - lefty
Wendy Machin - righty
Susan Cato – righty

Week 16
William McInnes - lefty
Peter Holmes a Court - neither
Miriam Lyons – lefty

* NB In episode one, all the guests were people who have won Australian of the Year awards and there were no politicians

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Literature review

It's Edgar Allan Poe, y'all, huh yeeeeah. (Language warning: NSFW).

Question They Won't Ask: Week XVI

The ShadowLands is enjoying a hot streak in this weekly segment where we submit a question to ABC television's interactive Q and A television program with the hope that they will refuse to ask it or publish it on their website. This week:
For Kate Ellis

I understand you are engaged to a union official. Why are you apparently so willing to submit to something that the rest of us are so tired of?

UPDATE: Bah - published.

This is the final episode of the series, so time for an update. Out of 16 questions submitted by the ShadowLands, nine were banned from the website and seven published.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Supporting the troops

Major credit to Boy on a Bike, nilk and kae for coming up with a central repository for people who want to support Australia's troops overseas in a practical and morale boosting way.

The site is called Ocean, Sky and Khaki.

Were you ever curious...

to know what Harry Hutton of Chasemeladies blog fame was up to? Me neither, but he has joined Twitter anyways.

The impossible quiz

This here impossible quiz is a time-wasting cryptic puzzle that will make you tear your hair out, but it's still not quite as impossible as the following puzzle (originally from Drybones and via Israellycool...)

Passing shadows

Posting from the ShadowLands is expected to be light over the next few days as real life intrudes. Here are a few links to keep you going:

* How many of you are in the United States? (There are two people called Margaret Maid and 13 Margaret Maidens.)

* Pacman

* Cloud pictures

* Why are Americans under virtual arrest in South Korea?

* Weird military parades

* Impress nobody with all the characters you can create using the alt button.

* Lying shops!

* The latest trend in weight loss.

* The grand unification theory of cutlery.

A musical interlude

After discovering their music in television advertisements for Cherry Ripes, the ShadowLands has become quite taken with these musical archaeologists from Portland Oregon...

The lost boys

with John Butler of the John Butler Trio

I was speaking to a veterinarian recently about the change of demographics in his profession. The vast majority of new vets - in Australia at least - are women. In fact, this vet told me that in one veterinary science year at the University of Queensland, there were in fact, no men.

If you dig through this, you will discover that women make up more than 59 per cent of enrolments at Australian universities. In some of Australia's regional universities - where you would expect lots of men studying agricultural related courses - enrolments of women constitute anything up to 70 per cent of students.

Apparently, this trend is far from unique to Australia. This article notes that women make up 57 per cent of enrolments at American universities.

This means that each year, many thousands of young men here and overseas are disenfranchised. A whole new gender-based underclass is gradually being created. And no wonder that many women seem to think there are so few eligible partners - there are in fact fewer and fewer tertiary educated men who can either afford the cocktails or hold up their end of the conversation.

Once upon a time, it's true, men were over-represented in universities. However this was a time when university attendance was not common.

The over-representation of women in universities is something that is slowly but inexorably changing the world. So why - outside of the higher education lift outs - isn't this stuff in the news?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

How Australia does racism these days: Exclusive

The former boss of Australia’s largest telecommunications company, Sol Trujillo, has returned to the United States after having earnt - at the bare minimum - a $30 million-plus salary. According to reports, Mr Trujillo has since described Australia as backward and racist.

While down at the local rubbish dump throwing out our old Telstra scrip, The ShadowLands was astonished to discover the following bit of paper from an old meeting of Australia’s chapter of the KKK. We bring this excerpt to you with the knowledge that it may shed some light on the new ugly face of racism in Australia:

KKK Australia, Minutes of June 2005, Gazza’s place.

Gazza: Welcome to the mid-year meeting of KKK Australia ladies and gents.

Shazza, Bazza, Dazza: No worries, Gazza.

Gazza: A little later we will be discussing, as promised, where to buy discount hair clippers, maintaining flannelette, and tips for growing rats tails. But first of all I have some news.

I hear-tell that a Mexican is going to visit Australia.

Shazza, Bazza, Dazza: A what?

Gazza: That’s right, some burrito bender by the name of Sol Trujillo.

Bazza: Good God no. We can’t allow this. What are we gonna do?

Shazza: Well, we could do some racist graffiti at Sydney Airport or maybe call him some names?

Gazza: Look, it's good, it's all good. It just sounds a bit old school to me.

Bazza: How about we pick him up in a taxi, and take him to some park for some roughing up? Or maybe just put a burning cross on his lawn?

Gazza: Hmmm, interesting suggestions all of them. But I was thinking something more along the lines of making him CEO of Telstra

We're happy little anti-semites...

Tired of racking your brains wondering what to get Antony Loewenstein for Christmas? Well rack no more. Israellycool alerts us to an online store selling a fetching range of merchandise, including these items for budding jihadis.

The Minister gets it

There was a time, not so long ago, when members of Australia's Howard government were the ones saying it how it was.

It appears now that, of all places, Canada is the nation that has picked up the baton and is running with it. Even the ShadowLands' own John Butler would have been pleased with this quote from Canada's Minister for Immigration:
" much of the criticism Israel faces is motivated by a dangerous form of anti-Semitism that tries to hide behind anti-Zionism and is represented by a coalition of the far left in the West with extreme currents of jihadi Islam that seek the destruction of the Jewish nation. They seem to believe that the Jewish people are the only people in the world that don't have a right to a homeland."

The party

is at Paco's, cheese, music, you name it.

Spot the conservative

UPDATE: A little explanation, perhaps required...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Signs of the times

The NSW Young Businesswoman of the Year has gone bust. Before you criticise the judges, though, perhaps you should see the runner up.

In other recession news, another hard-luck story here.

Passing shadows

* Traffic management, Chinese style.

* This muslim forum is onto America's latest plot.

* Is your brain left or right-sided? (I'm a right-brainer.)

* Before species become endangered, first you have to discover them.

* Mmmh, canned cheeseburgers.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Random notes from the Sydney Writers' Festival

Sunday May 24 2009 will be remembered as the day that a recognised conservative, Mr Timothy Blair, spoke at the Sydney Writers' Festival. Adding spice to the historical significance is that he appears with two online mortal enemies, Ant Loewenstein and - back from the dead -Margo Kingston. One of our ace reporters was there for the occasion and has brought back these notes:

We arrive early to discover the previous session still going, and some writer droning on about the music he listens to when he writes a book - erm, sometimes Nirvana, [pause] sometimes soul music. After only five minutes my orifices are starting to bleed with boredom. Who knew that for writers, "festival" really means sitting around boring people half to death?

It turns out this is good preparation for the half hour intermission which doesn't seem half so tedious. A very healthy crowd rocks up - maybe 200 or so.

Finally, the speakers take their places. Strikes me there are only two successful bloggers in attendance, Tim Blair and Erica Bartle (of Can anyone explain why the other two are here again? Introductions: Loewenstein's thin credentials are read out in painful detail, Blair prefers not to blow his own trumpet. It's good to see Margo back in reasonable shape.

Blair sits next to mortal enemy, Ant Loewenstein. In person, Loewie reminds me of this picture of Ben Stiller. It is announced that Loewenstein will be signing copies of his book about blogging at the end of the session - an awesome sales opportunity for him, surely.

Tim Blair is quick to display his Right Wing Death Beast credentials by commandeering the microphone and swigging from the bottled water left next to his chair with apparently nary a thought for the food miles.

Margo is asked about the difference between a journalist and a blogger, and she seems to struggle. That's why the whole webdiary thing didn't really work out, right there - no one is convinced she knows what a blog is. Margo says having a code of conduct gave Webdiary "serious respect and credibility" from readers. Blair keeps a straight face.

Erica Bartle is the odd one out in the discussion, not being part of the blog wars, but she speaks intelligently and gives a good account of herself throughout.

Margo spots Paul McGeough in the crowd and recalls how he once rescued her after she was arrested in a bat cave. Blair keeps a straight face.

Margo famously blew her payout from Fairfax by employing people to moderate comments on her not-enormously popular blog. She continues to predict that in the future, there will be many jobs in comment moderation. Blair still has a straight face.

Blair and Loewenstein are microphone buddies and seem to be getting on fine. What is this, some zionist/anti-zionist version of Ebony and Ivory?

Loewie thinks that while he is an anarchist, he would like to see people paying for online content. This strategy could be problematic at his blog, currently only visited by a few kooks and Blair bloggers looking for something to laugh at. His anarchic streak may explain why he appears to be in favour of allowing random suicide bombers into Israel.

Margo still apparently hasn't let go of the idea of Webdiary being funded by rich sugar-daddies and overseen by some nightmarish hierarchical structure.

This civilised discussion (inevitably) starts to head towards the sunlit plains of victimhood. Margo describes how she found it hard to cope with personal attacks. Blair says that it just comes with the territory. It seems to surprise the lefties in attendance that Blair is ever called names. No mention from Loewie of his alleged death threats.

Someone asks a question about Israel, and things start getting heated in the crowd. The questioner is interrupted. Loewie starts rabbiting on about Palestine and he is interrupted.

Time for one last question and someone in the crowd assails Blair about comments on his blogs - made years ago - including one about turning people into compost. I turn to look. Is it a man - or is it half-man half fish? You can tell he has been longing for this moment - planning for Blair to get his come-uppance for weeks. Thinking about it late at night. The discussion trails off nowhere in particular.

Erica talks about the intricacies of comment moderation, and everyone loses interest almost immediately because the question was only ever about taking a potshot at Blair. The session comes to a close.

Everyone disperses. Loewenstein, who promised to sign his great new book about blogging, is clearly not sure what to do. If he sits around somewhere with no one waiting to purchase any of his books, he will look silly. He takes the smart option - for once in his life - and leaves, before anyone notices.

Your reporter takes the lift out with the great Margo Kingston. "Did I do okay?" she asks. "Yes you did," she is re-assured, and we all spill out into the chilly Sydney night.

A tragedy all round

A bad haircut can have a devastating impact on how you feel about yourself and the world around you says Israellycool.

Meanwhile, just a little good Middle East news from Iraq via LGF.

Happy birthday, kae

Happy birthday to fellow Blair comments refugee, kae, one today.

(NB In further Blair-related developments, MM might just get along to the gabfest in Sydney today with a view to starting some fights. Be sure and check back at the ShadowLands for a blow by blow description.)

UPDATE: Only stale birthday crumbs for poor BOAB.

Not all bad news

It has been widely reported that Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Akhtar is to miss his next tournament due to a nasty case of genital warts.

However, canny investors may yet see this as an opportunity to pick up a bargain - see the advertisement in the top right corner of this website.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Celebration of nature

Okay - so technically, the ShadowLands may have "missed" the actual 22 May International World Biodiversity Day, but we believe it is never too late to celebrate biodiversity with some videos:

* A crow PWNed by a rabbit

* A jaguar vs a crocodile

* A squirrel opens up a can of whupass on a snake

* No gnus is good gnus

* Frog vs bird

* A killer whale takes on a kayaker

Funny Saturday, erm, thing

The ShadowLands loves satirical websites like the songun blog, where outraged visitors often never twig that someone is pulling their chain.

Along these lines is the Obama Grass Roots Forum - in which regular posters, styling themselves as black supremacists, inevitably end up upsetting genuine Obama supporters who stumble into their forum. This particular post is a fine example of the genre.

Passing shadows

* A tangled web.

* German student loses innocence a second time.

* Here comes the world climate industrial complex.

* Out in the West Texas town of ...San Angelo.

* Australian broadband is third most expensive in the OECD.

* Demonised asylum seeker may yet face extradition.

Odds worsen...or improve

Science Daily is reporting that new computer models show the odds of global warming accelerating have gotten much worse. However for those of us looking out the window, this means the odds have gotten much better. Only problem is, where can we get our bets on?

The researchers from MIT also offer these instructive pie charts.

In the interests of balance, The ShadowLands offers some equally enlightening pie charts and graphs of our own.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday music thing

The hard-bitten staff of The ShadowLands were intrigued by this music, currently being played at high rotation on Australian television thanks to advertisements for Cherry Ripe chocolate bars.

Further investigation on youtube reveals that this group's music makes an excellent accompaniment to a Friday afternoon. Before you check out the link, can you guess which decade the music comes from?

Green oppressors not welcome

Environmentalists have long seen themselves as protectors of Aboriginal people, which makes this all the more significant:

"The green movement treats us like hairy-nosed wombats that need to be saved and protected. They only care about themselves -- they don't care about Aboriginal people..."

So many great quotes in here - best to read it all.

Four things about water

* This bloke is betting £750,000 that the sea is not going to rise.

* The North Koreans are not happy about the Japanese criminal renaming of the much catchier East Sea of Korea.

* How to use water (and vegemite) to brew beer in a coffee maker (thanks readers minicapt and Murray).

* Or maybe you'd rather this...

Cause and effect

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Question They Won't Ask: Week XV

Each week The ShadowLands submits a question to ABC television's interactive Q and A television program with the hope that they will refuse to publish it on their website. This week:

Question for Bob Ellis

Matthew Johns was recently sacked from Channel 9 for playing park the car in the garage with some young lass. As a person who is also renowned for burying the baby leg on away games, is it fair that you continue to live off the taxpayers’ coin?
UPDATE: Not published!

Other notable questions to the panel: "Still waiting For a super supream it was ordered 45 min ago love adam" and "How do you calculate the surface area of a Toblerone?"

Have six joined Rudd's drowning generation?

Another six illegal immigrants have drowned en-route from Malaysia to Indonesia. This is in addition to the nine believed to have drowned a few weeks ago.

There appears to be no evidence at this stage to say for sure that they were on their way to Australia, however it is known that this is the route taken by others from Kevin's drowning generation. Illegal immigrants on this route known to have drowned this year now total 24.

HR news

In news that just underlines how hard it is to get good help these days, followers of Nostradamus are concerned that the anti-Christ may have been sworn in as US Navy Secretary.

Set the flamingos free

The funny thing about this song is that most of the lyrics aren't jokes - just plain old common-sense - and yet they are dangerously radical ideas in the current climate debate.

By the way, these guys are serious and they have their own website.

Egg, bacon, chips and beans update

After a long fast, fans of the egg, bacon, chips and beans blog will be excited to know there has been an update. Now let's see if this cafe on Tannery Road, Bridport in Dorset can measure up to its regal nomenclature...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The three things that could kill the President

with John Butler

English Pravda's forum is the on-line discourse equivalent of a carnival freak show. Racists, conspiracy theorists, people with mental illness, anti-semites, combinations of all of these - you name it and they have it.

But one post struck me as not being entirely ridiculous:
Is Biden to retrace the steps, and the fate, of the Archduke?
Now, the Vice-President has already completed most of his trip to the Balkans (thankfully) without incident, but this visit must have been a security nightmare.

To be assassinated, a few things need to be in place.

a) Somebody must want you dead

b) You must go to a place where they can make you dead

c) You must be sufficiently naive to allow them the opportunity to make you dead.

Now Biden is apparently something of a hero to the Bosnians but maybe not so much to some Serb nationalists - exactly the same type of people who did the job on old Franz Ferdinand.

But more likely, one feels, Biden - or someone like him - would be a target for fringe groups associated with the very large populations of Muslims in the region. Am I being islamophobic here? Let's have a look at the evidence.

But - I hear you ask - why would islamists want to do away with those nice appeasing folk in the Obama administration?

I don't know, maybe you should ask the guy who was planning to kill Obama in Turkey just a little while ago. And exactly how rational are those who support suicide bombings anyway? As the television shrink Dr Phil likes to say, the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour.

I am not here to predict that Obama will be assassinated - nobody knows. But if it was to happen, you would bet on it happening in Europe where violent incidents are erupting just about every week.

Of course, the same issues applied to George W Bush, but the difference is precondition c) - namely, he was under no delusions that appeasement could make either himself or the nation he represented safe.

Nobody can predict what will happen to President Obama. But to me, the place we are at in history combined with the kind of naivety the Obama administration displays would make his assassination at the hands of Muslim extremists entirely unsurprising.

The Shorten auditions: A ShadowLands Exclusive

With Eric Bana already confirmed as the lead in an upcoming movie about the Beaconsfield mine disaster, competition is heating up amongst contenders seeking to play the role of Bill Shorten. Mr Shorten, now a Minister in Australia's Rudd Government, was the face of the union movement during the rescue operation, heroically performing many media interviews.

The ShadowLands is excited to be able to present an exclusive photograph of contenders taken during auditions for the role.

It's all about coal

Details are strangely sketchy, but an American company claims it has found a way to extract a barrel of oil from each ton of coal.

If this technology proved effective, the winners would be the big coal producers: the United States, Russia, China, India and Australia. Left right out would be traditional oil producers of the middle east.

Australia, for example, imports about 125 million barrels of oil each year, but mines 260 million tonnes of coal - so if this technology was viable, Australia could become a net oil exporter.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

MSM on notice

While this video has a few rough edges, the mainstream media must be getting nervous that regular people are now able to gather and deliver the news so effectively.

WARNING: Language, NSFW.

Animals against conservative policies: Part II

Fantasist doesn't notice dream coming true

World class doofus, Dr Helen Caldicott has spent most of her life making wrong predictions about nuclear armeggadon.

Now that Iran has enough enriched uranium to make a bomb, she has turned her attention to trying to stop an extremely safe mode of electricity production in Vermont.

Indeed Caldicott seems to believe that any attacks on Iran's nuclear facilities would be dangerous, and that the Iranians have "every right" to continue enriching uranium.

Meanwhile, it seems that this international security issue has been left to the blogosphere.

BTW: Little known fact - Australian facilities at Lucas Heights are used by the IAEA for nuclear safeguarding work. A urine sample is all that is required to check if someone has been enriching uranium.

Lying liar update

In April, Tim Blair alerted us to a cringe-worthy moment at the G20 Conference when Kevin Rudd took umbrage at President Obama's description of the President of Brazil as the most popular politician on Earth.

Flummoxed that his own messiah status was being overlooked, Rudd attempted to clarify by saying, "the world's most popular long term politician..." by which time the assembled crowd were ignoring him.

Now we have this Rudd-quote from the 7.30 Report:
"I do not pay attention to opinion polls when they've been up; I do not pay attention to opinion polls now..."

See you Lada

One of the perils of being a politician is that it is your patriotic duty to ensure the suits you wear and cars you drive are made in your home country.

Though his every move is shadowed by security men in Mercedes, this is especially bad news if you happen to be Vladimir Putin.

More here on this subject from Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Passing shadows

* Tres elegant - it's the dalek wedding cake

* Months after the end of Operation Cast Lead, innocent civilians are still traumatised by those war-loving thugs in the middle east

* Welcome to the world of boundless embarrassment that is family photos

* 25 logos with hidden messages

* I just like this sports photograph.

Tide out on island of stability

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Russian minister offered to mitigate the world credit crisis with the help of Russia’s reserves. Kudrin stated that Russia was an “island of stability in the sea of the world crisis.”

“Investors will continue to invest billions of dollars in the rising Russian economy. Stock market crises and their consequences will not be utterly negative for us,” Kudrin said.
Russia's economy shrank by a staggering 23.2 per cent in the first three months of the year compared with the previous quarter, as the country's industry buckled under the pressures of the global economic crisis, government figures showed Friday. Russia's economic output declined by 9.5 per cent compared with a year earlier, the Federal State Statistics Service said Friday...

Hypocrisy news

* A prominent strip club visitor and air hostess bullier has told sports organisations that they need to show leadership when it comes to demonstrating respect towards women.

* While Kevin Rudd described a storm that went through Brisbane last year as a "real assault on the soul", the flood victims of Coffs Harbour have apparently had their souls insufficiently assaulted.

Choose your excess

Since the excesses of communism inevitably seem to involve killing millions of people, maybe the excesses of capitalism are not such a bad thing after all.

The excesses of capitalism are also heaps more fun - just ask any owner of this $4.3 million SLR Maclaren decorated with gold and rubies.

More disgraceful excessive activities at Maybe You Shouldn't Buy That.

(via DRB)

Your first look at Australia's new solar power plant

In total, Australia's proposed new solar plant may need to look something like this...

Kevin Rudd has announced that by 2015, Australia is to have the world's biggest solar power plant, with the capacity of a coal-fired power station, namely around 1000 Megawatts.

The current world's largest solar power plant, California's Solar Energy Generating System has a capacity of 354 Megawatts, however it actually produces an average of 103 Megawatts of electricity around the clock. So, the capacity of Australia's solar project may be about the same as a coal fired power station, but the actual output will be about one third of it, because of the noted tendency of the sun to go down in the evenings.

Australia's new solar plant will need to be three times bigger than the Californian one. A photograph of the Kramer Junction solar power plant, which has a capacity of 150 Megawatts, has been reproduced six times (above) to give you an idea of how large the Australian solar power plant will need to be - but note, it will still be 100 megawatts short of the capacity required to fulfil Kevin's announcement.

If we take statistics from the Californian plant and multiply by three, the Australian project will need:

* about 2,500,000 large curved mirrors

* to replace about 10,000 mirrors each year due to wind damage

* to wash each of the 2.5 million mirrors about 25 times per year to maintain efficiency

* millions of litres of chemicals that are used in the process of transferring heat to turn water into steam

* to be very careful with these chemicals. In 1999, a tank of 900,000 gallons of therminol set fire at the SEGS plant in California, causing the release of toxic fumes into the environment and evacuation of the area. Therminol is known to cause long term environmental impacts.

By my calculations, the project has the potential to produce approximately 0.6 per cent of Australia's current electricity needs, however this percentage is likely to diminish, as Australia's annual population growth rate is currently 1.2 per cent.

Eurovision's sour note

Norway has won this year's Eurovision Song Contest, but the most interesting part of the contest this year was the political undercurrent between the host, Russia, and its neighbours.

In the wake of 2008's South Ossetia War, Georgia made an ingenious entry that successfully upset the Russians before the Georgians pulled out of the contest earlier this year.

Russia has also been throwing its weight around other nervous neighbours by restricting its gas distribution.

All of which - I strongly suspect - influenced the comments of the Slovenian host who, when broadcasting Slovenia's voting results, called for a minute's silence because "Slovenia had missed out on the finals".

Also notable was the organiser's keenness not to allow the winner to make a speech - possibly concerned he might make a statement about gay rights.

The ShadowLands is not normally a fan of radical protest types, but is willing to give these ones their due, as attending this protest was clearly not for the faint hearted.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Nothing to look forward to

Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings, but the house of the future is expensive and it doesn't work.

Happy birthday to us!

The ShadowLands turns one year young today.

Astoundingly - in more ways than one - we are also expecting to welcome our 100,000th visitor in the early hours of today.

For those of you not familiar with our history, The ShadowLands was born out of the fetid Silence of the Lambs style basement that was the comments section of Tim Blair's old website.

When Tim decided to move his blog to News Limited, where instantaneous commentary and our regular casual vile slander would not be allowed, we commentary folk knew that things would never quite be the same again. During discussions about this move, one commenter by the name of Deborah Leigh said:

But I like it here in Shadowland.
and that's where the name for this blog came from. So thankyou, Deborah, wherever you are.

Others to make the move from commentary to blogland at this point included kae, Paco, and latterly Daddy Dave - a diverse group of outstanding bloggers. Other supporters such as BOAB and Tizonas have been quietly producing excellent original stuff long before we even thought about it.

Thanks also to all our linkers, including of course, Tim Blair who gave us the platform to jump from, Andrew Bolt who has boosted our hit count, as well as many other blogs offering us links and support such as Theo Spark, Small Dead Animals, RWDB (and Dark Roasted Blend, who gave us that way distorted hit count in March).

Thanks also to our stellar cast of contributors including John Butler of the John Butler Trio, Cate Blanchett, and Professor Tim Flannery, just to name three.

I estimate - since I can't be arsed to count - that there have been about 3,000 comments made here - yes, seriously. Extra special heartfelt thanks to all our brave commenters.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Would you believe - 200 protesters?

Tens of thousands to take to Sydney’s streets calling for action on global warming

Even though the day started out rainy and cloudy, thousands rallied their support for the climate movement.

Some 200 climate change activists have rallied in central Sydney to protest against the government's emissions trading scheme (ETS), blocking traffic as they marched through CBD streets calling for tougher action.

UPDATE: Link fixed.

Catlin Expedition place second on all time list

The British isles have produced some of the greatest and most intrepid polar explorers the world has known, including Edward Bransfield, James Ross, Ernest Shackleton, and the blokes from Top Gear.

However there is also something about the land of spotted dick that has produced a string of naïve heroic failures. Right now, more than any other country, Britain appears to be enjoying a new golden age of stupid polar explorers. Today the ShadowLands attempts to rank:

Britain’s top five dumbest polar explorers

Number 5 - John Hornby

John Hornby was a little known British Arctic Explorer who decided to demonstrate how, by using his wherewithal, it was possible to live off the land in the far reaches of northern Canada. Unfortunately, in 1926, he missed the massive southern migration of thousands of Caribou which he was meant to follow. He and his two companions starved to death. Pillock.

Number 4 - Admiral Sir Edward Belcher

Edward Belcher joined this list after he abandoned his expedition after only a single winter stuck in the ice north of the Arctic Circle during his unsuccessful search for Captain John Franklin in 1851. Remembered by some of his crew as a bully and sadist, he failed to live up to the names of the ships he abandoned to the ice – the Resolute, Pioneer, Assistance, and Intrepid.

The Resolute was salvaged by an American whaler a year later and sold to the United States government.

Number 3 - Lewis Pugh

Lewis Pugh is the dropkick who set off to demonstrate how the arctic ice is melting by kayaking to the north pole during the high summer of 2008.

He was stopped by ice after only a few days a mere 500 miles short of his destination – at a position typically marked on maps as the “average summer ice extent”. It is said he should have been alerted to this fact had he consulted the satellite imagery.

Pugh achieved a great deal of publicity for a minimum of effort, was invited to speak at a number of climate change conferences, and earns money on the speaker circuit - so maybe he wasn’t quite so stupid after all.

Number 2 - The Catlin Expedition

Like all failed and ill-advised polar expeditioners before them, the Catlin Ice Expeditioners appear to have been surprised by the cold weather they encountered.

Almost immediately, the machinery they brought along to measure the thickness of the ice failed to work due to the extreme cold. And even if their equipment had worked, the alleged scientific purpose of the expedition was always likely to be questioned because of their sponsorship from vested interests.

Despite consisting of experienced explorers, the group forgot to bring waterproof sleeping bags, and frostbite took hold of their cameraman almost immediately.

While modern utilities such as skis, skidoos, four wheel drives and aeroplanes have made life easy for most modern day arctic explorers, this brave trio eschewed all of these options in favour of pulling their own sleds. Part of the reason for this was that they were expecting the ice to be broken up by lots of open water, but instead they encountered this only once.

They spent many days adjacent to supply points awaiting re-supplies that were delayed by poor weather. As a result, they managed to travel less than 6 kilometres per day and failed to make it half way to the Pole.

Although supposedly raising awareness about global warming, the diary of the crew ended up being a testament to the fact that the Arctic is as large, cold, icy and inhospitable as it ever was. The monumental all-round stupidity of this expedition is only redeemed by the fact that nobody died.

Number 1 - Robert Scott

Despite intense competition in recent years, it is still hard to go past Robert Scott as Britain's dumbest ever polar explorer.

Scott’s bravery and ability to instill loyalty in others cannot be questioned – but let’s face it, he was a real dickhead. It was his decision making that led him and his four companions to their deaths in 1912.

Choosing an ancient and leaky vessel to take the party south from New Zealand, not taking enough fresh water, deciding not to take huskies, failing to care properly for the ponies, choosing injured expedition members, and spending time collecting and hauling fossils rather than just trying to survive are just a few of his many stuff ups.

Some modern historians say he should not be blamed for the catastrophe – it was the bad weather. However this fails to account for the fact that Amundsen made it. It also fails to account for the fact that the weather is bad at the Poles - the one fact that seems to have come as a huge surprise to all of the greatest dumb polar explorers through the ages.

What the world needs now more than anything

Some events in history are so momentous that we remember exactly where we were when we first heard the news. For me, the answer to this question is usually - I was in the lounge room where we keep the television.

However, in the future when people ask where you were when you heard about this, you will be forced to admit - I was sitting adjacent to my computer, reading The ShadowLands.

UPDATE: Here are the subjects in their heyday. Come on - nobody remembers?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Filling in the blanks

Jack Marx appears to be on an extended blogging break, but one of his most interesting blog posts was this one, where readers could leave censored tips of scandalous gossip. Australian readers should be able to figure out most of them by following the clues and counting asterisks.

One of the tips should be of particular interest to those who have been following the Matthew Johns saga. This rumour - and as far as we know it is only a rumour - involves people from another football code in another town:
I heard that the reason **-**** ****** disappeared from our tv screens all those years ago was that she had a gang-bang with ***** *******, *** ****** and other members of the ***** Show. The resulting “depression” was supposed to really be severe embarrassment.

Hot totty - the oldest living art tradition

The discovery of a 35,000-year-old statue in Germany depicting a hot chick means that claims like the following may need to be revised:

"Australian Aboriginal art is the oldest living art tradition in the world, with paintings in rock shelters dating back 20,000 years."
While it's true that Aboriginal bones have been reliably dated in Australia to at least 40,000 years, the same cannot be said for rock art, which means it could be argued that images of German babes now take the title.

All of this means that Theo Spark's enthusiastic portrayal of hot totty may actually be part of the world's oldest living art tradition.

Speaking of Theo - he's on fire at the moment.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

My Obama suggestion

Thanks Orion and Blogstrop for alerting the ShadowLands to this article about President Obama's attempts to bring peace to the Middle East. The centrepiece of this plan appears to be allowing Iran to develop nukes, giving half of Israel away, and allowing suicide bombers into the remainder.

Here's our modest suggestion. If, over the next four years, Obama offers free camping on the White House lawn to anyone claiming Palestinian heritage, as well as free access for Palestinians to see all of his speeches - Israel will agree to the peace plan.

But only if Obama survives.

By the by - a brilliant article here by Greg Sheridan.

Question They Won't Ask: Week XIV

Each week The ShadowLands submits a question to ABC television's interactive Q and A program with the hope that it will be considered too controversial for them to ask or publish. This week:

Question for Lindsay Tanner:

I get the impression you are not a complete dickhead. If this truly is the case, how were you allowed into the Labor Left faction?

UPDATE: Successfully not published - and it was a compliment!

No complaints from the Catlin Expedition

News is filtering through that the Catlin Arctic Survey Expedition has been evacuated from the ice, less than half way to their intended destination. Details are strangely sketchy at their own website, but the operation takes two days and requires two aircraft - one to carry extra fuel.

So in the middle of May you can land an aeroplane on the sea ice nearly 500 kilometres south of the North Pole. Who knew?

Here are some other awareness-raising lessons about global warming from the Catlin crew and support team - a selection of quotes in their own words:

"All members of the Ice Team are healthy, with the exception of Pen’s tooth. Having sneaked some of his remaining birthday chocolate into his sledge, his tooth cracked when biting into it."

“I’m getting extremely frustrated with the stupidly cold temperatures that are making my life a misery, day after day."

"SPRITE, its pioneering Surface Penetrating Radar for Ice Thickness Establishment, and onboard sledge computer kit have, despite rigorous testing ahead of the expedition, both been disabled by the extreme conditions."

“The worst thing was I was trying so hard not to cry because I was wearing my sunglasses. They would have steamed up and then the steam freezes and I can’t see!”

"...the cold is all consuming and refuses to go away. I lie in my sleeping bag and close my eyes but it’s so bitterly cold that I’m always half-awake, shivering. All I can think of is that while I’m lying here we’re constantly drifting southwards... It’s soul destroying."

"If I am totally honest it is pretty horrid out here and not very nice but you just have to keep on going."

"The Catlin Arctic Survey Team have now been working in temperatures of below -40 degrees centigrade for more than 30 days. When the three leave messages... their voices often sound slurred and they occasionally muddle their words."

"Every living moment currently hurts for the Ice Team...Even the tent offers little sanctuary, since the team’s breath freezes to the tent inner overnight and they wake up entombed in a cavern of ice crystals."

"We’ve all chosen to be here and nobody’s complaining."

More signs of the end times

* Parasitic flies are turning fire ants into zombies

* Superbugs are developing in our sewers

* Teenagers are becoming increasingly logical.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Calling all Sydney readers

The ShadowLands would be ultra-stoked and just a little surprised if any Sydney readers are able to catch a glimpse and report back to us on the jostling crowds at a pro-North Korea vigil at the Korean consulate from 4-6 pm tomorrow, Thursday May 14 at 111 Elizabeth Street.

Even better - if it is at all possible - to get a sneaky picture. There are sure to be some absolute retards there. Anyone who can manage this will be granted Life Membership of The ShadowLands, have all invoices torn up, and be granted some tacky mock-up online award.

In the meantime, Gateway reminds us what real torture looks like.

UPDATE: Doh, no takers. I'll see if I can find any reports.

Nassim has seen the future...

and it looks like this:

The current global crisis is “vastly worse” than the 1930s because financial systems and economies worldwide have become more interdependent, “Black Swan” author Nassam Nicholas Taleb said.
Mmmkay, but what does this mean exactly. Here are a few key indicators:

* Personal income, tax revenue, prices, profits and international trade to drop by factors vastly worse than half to two thirds

* The number of children in the United States without adequate food, shelter and medical care will be vastly worse than 50 per cent

* Australia can expect vastly worse unemployment figure than 1932 levels of 29 per cent and Germany, vastly worse unemployment than 30 per cent

* Canada can also expect a vastly worse drop in national income than 44 per cent, and unemployment vastly worse than 27 per cent.

Of course, another possibility is that Mr Taleb has learnt from the warmenists and is speaking out of his arse to get cheap publicity.

UPDATE: Great link on Taleb here where he reportedly claims economists cause him to suffer allergic reactions.

A tale of two sports commentators

with John Butler

Exhibit A: In 2001, a prominent media commentator - then a cricket coach - was convicted of common assault in England, after being found guilty of caning three young men on the buttocks.

This convicted criminal continues to be employed by the Sydney Morning Herald.

Exhibit B: In 2002, a prominent (and married) media commentator - then a rugby league player - was investigated, after being involved in group sex with a woman in New Zealand. While this affair was no doubt extremely tawdry, the players claimed it was consensual, and there was not sufficient proof for charges to be laid.

Exhibit B has been sacked and the television show he works for is in major peril of closing prematurely as a result. Around two-thirds of those polled at the Sydney Morning Herald agree that this man - despite not being charged with anything - should have been sacked.

Exhibit A continues to pontificate from his newspaper column at the Sydney Morning Herald. No polls have been taken about his employment, and he has even used the event as fodder for his book.

Now I'm not here to defend either one of these people - just to point out that the Sydney Morning Herald's standards appear to be far lower than those they expect of others. What's particularly galling about this is a particular middle class disdain for rugby league players, who usually have working class backgrounds.

The Age newspaper found itself in a similar situation last year, and once again, it turns out it was a moral dilemma that they felt did not apply to them.

An aside - overheard at a cafe today - "I hear that these days the Cronulla Sharks can get more people to a gang-bang than to a game."

Passing shadows

* Bali global warming conference news

* An alleged criminal has a bad day on the mean streets of Brisbane

* How much are you worth?

* This canine is loving the automatic dog wash

* Ode to the baby-boomers.



Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Festival of the Dull

Today is Australia's federal budget day.

Instead of complaining, why not get into the spirit of this with some dull activities of your own? Here are some modest suggestions:

* Take part in safe activities at the Dull Men's Club and read the Dull Men's FAQ

* Buy the cap or a roundabout calendar

* Find out what Michelle Grattan thinks

* Read up on canned food shelf lives

* Kevin Rudd's collected speeches outline what he is doing locally, regionally, nationally, internationally and globally for the past, present and future - for ourselves, our children and our children's children. Go on, read all you like.

Animals Against Conservative Policies: Part I

Technology and communications

Welcome to the wonderful world of Hairy-mail - the world's first web-based back hair messaging system.

UPDATE: Welcome SDA-ers. Feel free to have a look around, and make yourselves comfortable.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Free Willy II - the Belly Up Years

Complete with a soundtrack by Michael Jackson, the family movie, Free Willy was an inspiring tale about a captive killer whale making his way to freedom.

The star of the show was an orca called Keiko, and the movie inspired a $14 million project to set him free. So what happened to Keiko?

‘Keiko’s release to the wild was not successful, since though physically unrestricted and free to leave, he kept returning to his caretakers for food and company...’

Keiko had an unsuccessful migration from Iceland to Norway in 2002, seeking out regular human company, and a year later apparently died of pneumonia at the age of around 26.
Further details here, however, if the comments underneath this youtube clip are to be believed, Keiko finished up on a Norwegian barbecue.

Ellis PWNed

or whatever the latest happening internet expression is...

Check out Frollicking Mole's comment over here (at 11.36 am) and - why not - join in some of the fun.

More from Frollicker at Tizonas.

Bhutan table tennis update

Disappointingly, two students representing Bhutan for the first time at the World Table Tennis Championship in Japan came back without any medals.

Frankly, these results are no surprise and the Bhutanese need to have a long, hard look at themselves.