Friday, August 31, 2007


Edith Bevin, of The Daily Telegraph, wrote today that "Ninja stab toy 'should be banned'". She says that homicide victims' support groups have called for the toys (Naruto action figures based on a Japanese ninja cartoon series), which act out stabbing and slashing and come equipped with an arsenal of weapons, to be taken off the shelves.

Homicide Survivors Association founder Peter Rolfe said the toys taught children a very dangerous lesson. "I think there's a link between playing with these toys and violent behaviour later. It doesn't happen to everyone but it can have an effect on people with problems . . . If they play with toy weapons does it make them more comfortable with real weapons later? At some stage there's an imprint left on them."

Mattel marketing director Julie Kearns said the toy met Australian safety standards. She said it was up to parents whether they wanted their children to own a doll based on the ninja ethos of weapons and defence. "We have found within the toy industry that often concerns about safety aspects or image aspects of a toy are based on what the adults believe not necessarily what the child understands and believes," she said.

NSW Fair Trading Minister Linda Burney said her office was powerless to intervene. "While Fair Trading regulates product safety in NSW, it has no power to regulate products that might be in bad taste but do not pose a physical danger," she said. "The best way to let businesses know their products are not acceptable is not to buy them."

Platinum ponders: if you look back in history, you have to wonder where humanity got its violent nature nature before there were plastic toys to 'imprint' on? However if Mr Rolfe is correct, we should also ban toy weapons, toy cars (you've seen a three-year-old 'drive' ... imagine the imprint THAT leaves!) and baby dolls that allow the 'mum' to play with it sometimes and then ignore it for days on end with no consequences. And tea-sets. They may cause some to grow up to become caffeine addicts or socialites. And books and pencils - they may persuade some (people with problems?) that, just because they can read and write to a basic level, their analysis of the human condition and its causes are not only newsworthy but should be taken seriously and used in legislation. They might think they understand psychology ... or take up journalism...

I like Linda Burney's idea - if you don't like it, don't buy it. Rather than bitching about something and expecting Big Brother to legislate to protect yo' ass, exercise a) your right as a parent, and b) some decision-making processes; and tell the child "no". Tell the child why "no". Let the child come up with persuasive arguments as to why maybe "yes". This is called negotiation and is a valuable skill that parents should teach their children. Whining and threatening is not negotiation and won't get you even a red jelly bean; debate, critical thinking and reasoning may make the person with the purse loosen the strings a little. Of course, these things don't come naturally to a child and they have to learn it from somewhere, and that takes time, effort and patience.

Those chunks of the population that seem to want to legislate against anything that might require parental effort from them also seem to indulge in a lot of parroting of half-baked, pseudo-scientific arguments rather than debate, critical thinking and reasoning - I bet they don't even know what they are (and I bet their parents didn't, either). And I'm not going to listen to a word they say until they stop whining and start behaving like civilised little beings....

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Blood Moon

Our intrepid band set forth about half past four this afternoon on the Great Eclipse Excursion; the Clan had arranged to meet up at Shorncliffe to view this Astronomical Anomaly, and it involved some fairly complicated (for us) logistics; two cars, picking up folks here and there, later meeting up with a couple more on a bike... In the end, as go the Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men, one car and the couple on the bike couldn't make it, and one of the others had the 'flu so only four of the original ten ended up going.

...and there was I, with 2 dozen hard-boiled eggs... about a kilo of home-made ANZAC bikkies, and enough coffee makin's to float an armada heh heh...

The Excursion, however, was a limited success - we saw the moon go through phases in two hours that usually take two weeks; when the clouds condescended to part a little it was a lovely dark orange hue, more copper than blood; and we had a fairly pleasant evening playing cards and admiring the moon in its various stages of eclipse while we gorged ourselves on eggs and bikkies (we somehow strayed from the original, alliterative, plan of fish'n'chips by the foreshore) and then decide by 8.30 that it was all over bar the shouting and it was getting just a little too damp and cold and that going home was seeming quite a good idea (especially in a warm, dry car).

I attempted to take some photos with my phone camera (2 megpixel) but it was really not up to the task and the pictures look like fuzzy squashed onions on a black background (during the first part of the eclipse, while the moon was looking like a large white cookie with a bite out) or fuzzy hereford cows (when it was mainly orange with a bit of white still at the top). So I got Art Photos, and I'm not going to post them because, like all True Art, I'm the only one that will understand them....

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Crafty update

Just chucked some more stuff on the other blog, here

Monday, August 20, 2007


It hasn't rained here for 6-7 weeks and we're in the middle of a pretty bad drought - water restrictions, government subsidies for tanks and water-saving devices, stuff like that. Yesterday we actually started to get some serious rain (after a bit of drizzling on Saturday), and now all my tanks and water containers are overflowing. The whole place is looking greener even after only one day of good rain (probably because the patina of dust that has been coating everything for the last month and a half has been washed off) and the rain continued, albeit in a pretty half-arsed fashion, for most of today. The predictions are for drizzle tomorrow and fairly heavy rain on Wednesday and Thursday, and we're all hoping that some of it hits the dams that the city gets its water from, which are currently at about 16.74% of their capacity - hence the water restrictions. The wet weather has warmed the place up a bit, from getting lows of near 5ºC (it's 'winter' here) to lows of around 15ºC.

You'd think people would be delighted.

You'd think that washed out family picnics, washing taking longer to dry (hung undercover), and hairdos being mussed would be put in perspective, shrugged off, and the much longed-for rain appreciated, even celebrated. At least seen as a Good Thing.

You'd be wrong. We're a fickle bunch, humanity. Now that we've got the rain we've all been hoping and praying for, we're bitching about it! How it's cramping our lifestyle, how unpleasant it is to be wet, how the bloody kids are tramping the wet all through the carpets...

Reschedule your sodding lifestyle, bring an umbrella or a towel if you're such a freakin' aspirin that you dissolve under a few raindrops, and the carpets will dry out next time we have a drought (so, next week, probably).

Honestly, I'm going to be SO f*&$%king rude to the next person who whinges about the rain...

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Tried to log in to Skype today, without success; I could get on the Net okay, but for some reason Skype just refused to let me online (it was working fine a couple of days ago...). So, I hopped onto the website to see if there was a maintenance problem - there wasn't; so I decided to email their support people and see if they could help. I filled out all my details but couldn't type in the "Problem Description" box (see pic below) as it's just a graphic, not a text-input area.... Great programming, guys! And the worst of it is, the "Problem Description" box is a required field and the email won't send if there's nothing in it...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


So, as I mentioned, I was playing a lot of Midnight Mansions last week... It took me a couple of days to get through the 8 mansions on the Easy setting, then I had a bit of a play on Normal (much harder - more bad guys, traps and extra rooms) and then for the hell of it tried the Hard setting - owie! The game came with a Level Builder - an application that allows you to make your own mansion, basically, using the scenery, bricks and monsters from the real game. And so it begun...

I spent the most of the long weekend in my tracksuit, building levels, emerging only for coffee and snacks. Not nearly enough sleep! Granted, there was a bit of a learning curve to start off with - I'm not used to working in layers (so graphics sit 'on top' of each other) and there were a few shortcuts I discovered along the way (next time RTFM before I start?), but I'm still going, 98 rooms later...

Friday, August 10, 2007

Renew, Re-use, Recycle...

They're the buzz-words nowadays - we're killing the planet, we're a throw-away society, too much rubbish, too much waste, too much packaging. We have to look at new and better ways to live our lives, to save our planet. We need to jump on the ecological bandwagon and live outside our Comfort Zone and try new things, even if they may be a little strange at first - this is the way of the Future, if we are to have one. We have to act now to correct the mistakes made by past generations, either out of ignorance or selfishness, that has put our planet on a path to destruction

35 years ago, when I was a kid, we evidently lived in an eco-friendly Dark Age. We didn't understand back then about Renew, Re-use, Recycle. We burnt coal by the ton, drove gas-guzzling cars (well someone did - we had a Datsun 1000), lived selfishly for the moment and gave no though for the next generation which is now reaping the rewards of our hedonistic, wasteful and unthinking lifestyle.

In the 60s and 70s, we hadn't quite hit the Age of Plastic (there was a fair bit of it around, but it was considered to be less good than 'real' things made out of wood, metal, pottery/china, glass etc. - it was tacky to decorate your home in it and plastic toys never lasted as well as the 'real' ones); plastic shopping bags didn't exist - we had large brown paper (okay, lightweight cardboard) bags that, if they survived their original purpose of carrying the groceries home, could be reused as bags, wrapping paper, large surfaces to draw on - endless possibilities. I don't think there was paper recycling as such then, but ours tended to eventually get recycled into the garden by way of the incinerator. Big things came home in cardboard boxes that had originally been used to transport stock to the shop (yes, some enlightened establishments have started doing this again - what a good idea!). Most people has string shopping bags or shopping carts which sort of looked like a suitcase on wheels with a handle up top. And they lasted for years.

Soft drinks came in glass bottles. Big glass bottles that held a bit over a litre, little glass bottles that held about 300ml. All glass, all sought after by kids who would return them to shops and collect the bounty on them (only a couple of cents per bottle, but a couple of dozen bottles would 'buy' you a sizeable supply of sweets).

You bought meat at a butcher's (wrapped in newspaper or ... butcher's paper!), fish at the fish market, fruit and veg at the greengrocer's. It was local, not trucked in from interstate or flown in from overseas, and you ate what was seasonal and enjoyed the variety over the year. Other food like rice and flour came in cloth bags - about as successful, weevil-wise, as our current plastic packaging (the weevils are already in it when the bag is packed) - and definitely more re-useable. Canned goods were a source of, well, food and containers - cans were re-used to store workshop junk, bits and pieces in the house, and almost every home boasted a pre-school crafted, artistically decorated pencil holder that had started life as a can of beans or peaches. Packaging was minimal and what there was tended to be re-useable - not out of a sense of environmental salvation, but simply because that is how it was.

We kept string, rubber bands, wrapping paper, small paper bags, anything that might be re-used again - in case it came in handy (which it frequently did). Clothes were patched, mended, passed down to smaller siblings, and ended up in the rag-bag for cleaning and polishing. Our parents had been through the Great Depression and understood that renewing (or making it yourself) was better than buying another one and throwing the old one away because that was thrifty behaviour and meant they probably would be able to buy their own home. Of course, it helped that things were built, with pride, to last - inbuilt redundancy might mean initially a cheaper price tag but it also means having to throw the broken one(s) out and spend more money on another - more expense and more garbage. Cheaply-made items that didn't last were "brummy" and you wouldn't touch one with a stick if you could afford something better. How is it a 'bargain' when you'll have to shell out more money next year for another one because this one's stuffed? The local landfill is full of 'bargains'...

So, yeah, let's have a go at this new-fangled idea of Renew, Re-use, Recycle; after all, all the world's environmental problems were caused by that selfish generation just before us; poor, ignorant sods - they didn't know s**t...

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

My New Toy

I stumbled across a 'new' Mac game, played the free levels, and as I was feeling sorry for myself, I bought it... It's now referred to as The Bloody Game, and is taking up way too much of my time and giving me way too much fun! It's called Midnight Mansion, by ActionSoft (to be found here) and is very reminiscent of Montezuma's revenge, that wonderful old game from the days of the Apple II and the Commodore 128D which also used to amuse me for hours on end, despite being in 16 colours and having pixels sizes you could poke a stick at. The only problem is, I'm not used to playing games using the keyboard to control things, and so I'm dying lots... but I'm getting better! :-)

Another blast from the past is the Zip Disk Saga - I found a stack (okay, 17) of old zip disks hidden away on the back of a shelf, and Dad's obligingly mailed me the old drive so I can check out what's on them - but the Intel iMac won't run it! It will, however, run on the laptop which uses OS 9... Dammit, the disks are only 5 or so years old! Gotta love the speed at which technology moves! (Actually, I do - I think of things like the TV-phone on 2001- A Space Odyssey which we now have as iChat, Skype, etc. and take for granted. It was all sci-fi a few years ago!).

g2g chek out da disks :-)

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


So it seems there's this virus going around town at the moment... and working in a school, I picked it up and it knocked me flat for a few days and even the computer was a little too much effort... The details are as nasty as the photo, but may I just say: cover your goddammed mouth when you cough (and share an office with me), I don't want to Share! Incidentally, the same person was responsible for probably the grossest thing that's ever happened to me - and that's saying something! - when I found a teaspoon-sized chunk of white, glistening goop stuck to my notice board and, having exclaimed loudly about it, I discovered that my co-worker had been using my computer (because hers was attached to a printer in another room and she didn't wasn't to walk that far) and had been grazing on a chicken sandwich when she suffered a coughing fit... "I thought I got all of it off, " she said. Dear gods! woman, there was an entire mouthful on the notice board! How much more did she have her mouth, that that chunk was relegated to small and unnoticeable?!

Okay, I'm still surly coz of the 'flu...

Queensland: Beautiful one day, plague-ridden the next...

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Check out the new link

Okay, now I'm just showing off... What the hell, it's my blog!

Oh yeah, the link is on the right... Platinum's Crafts...

Modesty?! What modesty?!

Caffeine and Cancer

"DRINKING a double espresso a day and taking regular exercise may help prevent skin cancer.
A study on mice at Rutgers University in New Jersey showed that a combination of exercise and some caffeine -- equivalent to one or two cups of coffee a day -- protected against the effects of the sun's ultraviolet-B radiation, which can lead to cancer.
Compared with the UVB-exposed control animals, the caffeine drinkers showed an increase of about 95 per cent in UVB-induced apoptosis, the exercisers showed a 120 per cent increase, and the mice that were both drinking and exercising showed an increase of nearly 400 per cent.
Dr Conney said the cumulative difference seen in the caffeine-drinking runners "can likely be attributed to some kind of synergy between the two factors".
Previous research has found that coffee may reduce the risk of developing gallstones, kidney stones and colorectal cancer."
(The Australian, August 1, 2007)

Pesonally, I'll take my chances with a long-sleeved shirt and sunscreen - bugger this whole exercise thing! The gallons of coffee, on the other hand, seem to have some additional benefits... between that and the red wine, I should live forever :-) Wonder what's going to be bad for us/good for us next month?!