The Moon, Jupiter and Venus.


A photo of the Moon, Jupiter and Venus taken by my partner on Sunday night. We don’t have the best of cameras but they are at least all identifiable in this picture. (Well, the Moon definitely is, and if you’re into astronomy and know about the visibility of Jupiter and Venus in the night sky at the moment, you’d know it was them)

Did Derren Brown Control The Nation?

He certainly didn’t control me last night!

Last night was the second of a series of programmes Derren Brown is doing titled “The Events”. Last week on the Wednesday night (9th September), he had a little ten minute programme on claiming he could and WILL predict the lottery numbers as they went out live. I didn’t watch the show, but many people did and were discussing it on Clive Bull’s show on radio LBC. He had the country talking of nothing else for the following 48 hours. He had predicted all six numbers! Everyone was talking about how he did it. There were so many theories being thrown about.

Last Friday, he told us in a programme sub-titled “How To Win The Lottery”. To keep it short it was to do with some thing called the “Crowd Influence” or something to that effect – can’t remember it verbatim. It was to do with a collective of people having better odds at predicting things and influencing results, than individuals or a small number of people (say, less than 10). He got together 24 people. They looked at all the lottery draws for the previous 12 months, then did some “automatic writing” technique to come up with sets of numbers that subconsciously they would think would be drawn next. Then used averages to come up with the final six numbers. Anyway, to cut it short again – after three attempts (September 9th being the third), they predicted all six numbers.

But right at the end of the programme he went on to say (at the beginning he outlined three plausible ways to win – randomness and luck IE: his numbers just happen to come up, the technique with the 24 people – whatever he called it again, or, cheating!) that he did NOT cheat. Then proceeded to say stuff like…for instance I would have to know someone working at Camelot (the lottery organisers), which I do not, and I’d have to get that person from Camelot to sneak in weighted balls into the draw machines, which I did not (blah de blah)…and so on until you found yourself thinking in a reverse psychology way, “is he admitting to cheating?”.

So this week it was going to be him having us quite literally GLUED to our chairs! There was about 45 minutes of waffle, with him doing all his usual little mentalist things. Just before he was about to “glue” us all to our chairs, they went for an ad break, but just before that, a subliminal image flashed on the screen.


After they came back from the break, and just before he finished explaining what was going to happen and play the film that would have us “all glued to our chairs”, the image flashed up again. When the show was over, I rewound and grabbed a shot of the image.

The first time I saw it, I got a little disturbed, I must admit. It was a split second, but I could see it was someone sitting on a chair. It looked more like a sort of fractal crash test dummy image when I saw it for that split second. It’s even MORE disturbing now I can clearly see what it is! It played on my mind all through the break, but my mind got used to it and less and less disturbed by it. Then when it flashed again, I was ready for it.

By the time the film played, I had a little heightened sense of fear, but I was sort of assuring myself that I would NOT get stuck. As the film played, I found the music sort of soothing and wasn’t disturbed by the image at all. After the minute was up, I jumped out of the lounge saying “I’m not stuck. I’m SSSOOO not stuck!!” I was thinking “take that Derren Brown! Your mentalism didn’t work on ME. I’m no pushover!!” Then I was feeling slightly left out a few minutes later when loads of people were stuck to their chairs. Damn!

I was SO pleased with myself for not being open and susceptible to this kind of stuff. I’ve always wondered whether I could be hypnotised. Now I’m even more curious after that. But I have no plans of going to a hypnotist to find out!!



wooden heart, originally uploaded by gobayode photography.

Yesterday one of the nearby neighbours had three large conifers chopped down. It’s JULY. That’s still in the nesting season.

Now I know for certain that Mr & Mrs Blackbird had their nest in one of these conifers. Yes, their two chicks had fledged quite some time ago, but it proves to me that other bird species would have been nesting in those trees.

All afternoon I watched endless pigeons fly around wondering where their “houses” had gone. It’s so terrible to see animals in distress.

This morning there was a juvenile blackbird in our garden, sitting on the lawn looking sorry for himself. What if Mr & Mrs B had bred again? There was time enough in the year for them to do that. Lots of bird species have more than one brood if there is ample time in the season to do so.

It is illegal to fell trees that have active nests. You are meant to inspect before going ahead with any fells. I really get the impression this did NOT happen yesterday.

I haven’t seen Mr B at all in the last 24 hours. I’m sure poor Mr & Mrs B will move on now and we’ll no longer have resident blackbirds 😦

I want to cry!

I’m not against the peoples right to fell the trees in their garden. But what I *DO* object to is them doing it at this time of year. They should have waited until September, when the nesting season was fully over with.

It made me feel SO sad yesterday. I couldn’t help but feel for the birds.

The misanthrope in me was at its highest yesterday.

Inject Your Cheeks With Sugar…

for that “pregnant glow”. MORE cosmetic madness from Friday’s Daily Telegraph in Sydney. The new rage is to get hyaluronic acid (which is SUGAR – the new fangled “wonder” being brandied about in nearly EVERY face cream advert I’ve seen in the last 18 months is just flippin SUGAR?) injected into your cheeks so you can have a healthy “expectant mother” glow to your face.


What is this world coming to, SERIOUSLY!?




I Am Spock.

Your result for The 4-Variable IQ Test…


15% interpersonal, 20% visual, 30% verbal and 35% mathematical!


Brother-from-another-mother! Like mine, your highest scoring intelligence is Mathematical. You thrive on logic, numbers, things representing numbers, and sets of things that are sets of other things, with numbers nowhere in sight. You probably like the online comic called XKCD, and if you don’t, check it out.

You probably knew you’d score “Mathematical” as you took the test, and mathy types are usually super-high scorers on this axis, and low on the others. Why? Because you (we) yearn for math.

Anyway, your specific scores follow. On any axis, a score above 25% means you use that kind of thinking more than average, and a score below 25% means you use it less. It says nothing about cognitive skills, just your interest.

Your brain is roughly:

15% Interpersonal




Matching Summary: Each of us has different tastes. Still, I offer the following advice to the world.

1. Don’t date someone if your interpersonal percentages differ by more than 20%.

2. Don’t be friends with someone if your verbal percentages differ by more than 25%.

3. Don’t have sex with someone if your math scores differ by over 40%. You might kill them.

Take The 4-Variable IQ Test at HelloQuizzy

Globesity – The New “Buzzword”.

Where have we got this sudden desire to merge words to make a new one from? All this Brangelina/Bennifer stuff is just weird.
Anyway, I digress.

This word, reportedly first used by a writer at the World Health Organization, in an article about the “global obesity epidemic”, is increasingly being used to describe the state of the 1st world’s health.

The figures ARE worrying. Despite the fact that I’m some 130-odd kilograms in weight myself, and therefore a “globesity” statistic, I do suffer the mentality of “well, I don’t want to live until I’m 110, so I’ll eat what I damn well like, thank you very much!”. But I really would like to be healthier in the here and now. I might not want to prolong my life, but I’d like for it to be a better quality of life at the moment.

I am old enough to remember (sadly) a time when food was still not as readily available as it is now. Supermarkets when I was growing up seem to only really have the basic things. Fruit and vegetables (nothing exotic mind…and only things “in season”…which is not something you have to worry about anymore – big “up” to food miles!), bread (white and brown, that was it – pretty much anyway), butter and marg (although margarine was pretty low quality then), milk (in cartons or bottles), some sweets/lollies…not at the stock levels we have these days though, nowhere NEAR those levels. And I’m pretty sure that, until the early to mid 1980’s the supermarkets in Oz didn’t sell meat. You still went to the butcher for your meat. My mum refused to by meat from the supermarket until into the 1990’s and then she would only buy small amounts. Now, if she wanted to, she probably couldn’t find a butcher to buy from!

It was an absolute TREAT for us (me, my siblings, kids around my street and local area) to get any kind of sweets. You felt really special if you were allowed to buy something off the ice cream man (who would come around at least once a day, most likely twice, three times on weekends, and during the Xmas summer holidays, they might as well have parked in the street they seemed to come around so often!!). A BIG treat was an ice cream, perhaps a paddle pop (they only use to cost 20 cents!), or a bubble-o-bill (about 30-40 cents). The biggy was a gaytime – that was the creme de la creme of ice cream treats. I think they were a whopping FIFTY CENTS when I was in single figures, but 50 cents was a big deal! But we’d be more than happy with a 5c or 10c bag of lollies (sweets). You didn’t expect these things every day. Half the time you’d be too afraid to ask, cos you know your mum would go MENTAL if you even asked. Pester power was NOT going to work on our war/post war baby mothers!

Now it’s so readily available and affordable that we’ve had a generation of kids that have been given chocolates and sweets as pacifiers. Cry = get a bar of chocolate.

Food was much simpler as well. Post-war, what could you buy? Milk, sugar (in limited quantities), eggs (again – limited…no eggs at all during the war), butter, limited meat, fruit (only seasonal, and limited), vegetables (seasonal), tea. If you wanted bread, you made it. It was like that for a long time.

Even while I was growing up, we had lots of casseroles and soups and stews. My mum was always making Irish stew and home-made friend rice. To have a Chinese take-away was an extra special treat. Half the time you had to go to the restaurant, there was no “take-away” as such. Not being delivered to your door anyway. I think I was around 12. We (my family) went to a Japanese restaurant in Sydney for my mum’s 45th birthday. I remember trying sashimi, only a taste. It wasn’t something I ordered…no way. Raw fish – are you kidding?!!! I’d not even had a take-away curry until I moved here to the UK.

Most nights as I got older, into my teens, we’d still have just a meal of meat and 3 veg. On a really lazy day you might have take-away fish and chips, or a burger and chips. But even then, the burgers weren’t McDonalds slop. It was a burger from the local milk bar, made with a fresh meat pattie, fresh bun, filled with lettuce, tomato, onion (I didn’t have onion then), beetroot (yes! beetroot on a burger – it is delicious), maybe cheese. If we made them at home, we’d even have an egg on there. One hamburger was a complete rounded meal…not a bun of artery hardening slop. You wouldn’t know it to hear of my size…but I rarely have take-away/fast food. My downfall is sweets – chocolate, lollies, cakes and crisps.

I think food is now too readily available. It’s too easy to get, with supermarkets open 24/7. I think supermarkets contain far too much stock these days, and are far too over-sized (I think the increasing size of the supermarkets are in line with the size of the obesity problem). I don’t have a problem so much with the opening hours, more the size of these supermarkets. I’m sure walking the length of one of these “super” supermarkets is the only exercise some people get – me included!!

And we have the genetic problem in us. We (as humans) veritably starved for thousands of years and our bodies are designed to crave fat and sugar. And now with the over-processing of food, all we’ve put in to processed food is fat, sugar and salt.

I think we need to design a pill that rectifies what is now a genetic flaw or defect (IE: the bodies fixation in obtaining fat/sugar). A pill to tell the body that fat/sugar is no longer wanted or required. Not at the rate it needed anyway. We’ve gone from our bodies not getting this stuff, only in very limited quantities in fits and starts, to having a balanced, stable intake of it, to – LOOK OUT, HERE IT COMES, in the last few hundred years. The last phase – from balanced to LOOK OUT – in the last 50 years!! It’s pretty bad.

I’m a Lark trapped in a night Owl’s body.


I don’t know just how long through my life I have craved to be able to arise in the morning with the birds. I’ve been a night owl for many years. Mum tells me it started from the moment I was born really. I’ve had brief dalliances into the world of the lark. Mostly when it involved being awake for SSSOOO long that I was already awake the next morning! A few times it’s happened due to jet-lag. And a few times it’s been down to pure luck and I’ve “fluked” a few weeks of larkish behaviour.

At this point in time I’m further away from being a lark than I ever have been. I was in Australia for several months at the beginning of this year. It started out well. Jet-lag allowed me to be a lark for about oh…two weeks! Then the old owl crept back in, and eventually took over. This was helped greatly by some inexplicable, freakish event that overtook my nerves and made it almost impossible for me to sleep for the rest of my stay in Oz. I was like it for weeks. Most nights I wouldn’t get to sleep until around 5-6am. If you can still regard that as night? No, it isn’t, is it?!

And that’s my point. I’ve always loved the idea of waking around 6am, watching the sun come up, hearing the birds wake up. But instead that’s when I’m fast asleep from only nodding off just a couple of hours before. At the moment I’m getting to sleep around 4am. Then I’m DRAGGING myself back out again around 10.30-11.00am. If I was getting my recommended 8 hours sleep, I wouldn’t get up til midday (and on the odd occasion I do, because I’m just SSOO dog-tired)!

I’m a creature of habit really. And this behaviour is habitual. It’s fueled by two things. Firstly, I can never drag myself away from TV at night. I’m always finding something to watch around 10.30-11.00pm which gets me hooked for an hour or so. Also by this time (well, use to be, not so much now), Em is asleep, so then I spend some time on the Internet. Which means I go to “bed” at any time between midnight and 1.30am. Then I don’t turn in straight away, I’ll play my Nintendo DS, or play games on my mobile phone, or listen to music. So, probably by around 3am, I’m ready to turn in.

I don’t know. Sometimes I get REALLY guilty for being like this (night owl) and other times I think “why do I care”? It’s not like I’m some super-fit person or something. It’s not like if I got up early, I’d be outside with the birds or anything.

I just think I’d feel better being a lark.

Photo supplied by: Spirit635 under creative commons (some rights reserved)

When *IS* the right time?


I’ve just been reading an article on the BBC News web site about the argument for lowering the legal limit at which you can have an abortion from 24 weeks to 20 weeks. The Health Minister Dawn Primarolo argues that there is insufficient scientific evidence for lowering the limit on the basis that extremely premature babies have not increased their survival rates in recent years.

Surely that is not the point. Isn’t the point that at 24 weeks most medical professionals will do all they can to help a premature baby live? And if that’s the case, surely then at 24 weeks the medical profession believe that child to be at a more established human development?

Ms Primarolo also provided statistics which reveal that the vitality of babies born at 21 weeks is 0%, whilst the vitality of babies born at 23 weeks is 11%. Well what about the babies born at 24 weeks? It must be a higher figure? She also says that 89% of abortions take place before 13 weeks. So based on those figures why would you not feel compelled to lower the legal limit to 20 weeks, or even 21 weeks?

This seems ridiculous to me. In this day and age, women can know that they have conceived just DAYS after conception. Medical complications in pregnancies are detected earlier and earlier. I for one see no valid justification in keeping the legal limit at 24 weeks. That is almost 6 months into a pregnancy. It’s far too late.

I think somewhere like Western Australia have the right approach to abortion. The legal limit is set at 20 weeks. Abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy may only be performed if the foetus is likely to be born with severe medical problems – which must be confirmed by two independently appointed doctors.

Read the full article here.
Photo supplied by Leo Reynolds under creative commons (some rights reserved).

Attack Of The Killer Ladybirds!


I was just reading a story on the BBC News web site about ladybirds (700,000 of the little blighters) being sent into Manhattan on attack to kill aphids. Well I don’t want to disappoint the recipients involved in this deployment but after watching The Nature of Britain last Wednesday night, it would appear the ladybird is not the lean (well, they are not exactly “lean” anyway), mean, aphid killing machine as initially suggested. From the depiction given on the television the other night the ladybirds usually just walk past aphids and it’s only them clumsily walking over them forcing the aphids to fall off plants and get caught in spider webs do the ladybirds actually help combat aphids.

Let’s hope it works out for the people involved. Go ladybirds!!

Read the full BBC story here.
Photo supplied by Jasmic under creative commons (some rights reserved).

Crippen Innocent of Murder?

I have just been reading a story on the BBC of how DNA testing on the relatives of Cora Crippen has shown that the decapitated body found under the house of Dr Hawley Crippen could not have been that of his wife. It’s amazing how there still is interest in this story nearly 100 years on.

This latest twist seems to still pose more questions than it answers. If the body was not that of Mrs Crippen then who’s was it? Was it still a murder that Dr Crippen was guilty of? It would suggest so considering he tried to flee the country with his mistress. He was only captured because the new wireless technology had been installed on the ship he and his mistress chose to sail in.

You can read the full story here.