Saturday, 28 January 2006

Spam-enabled Humour

Mike Carlton's take on the AWB Oil-for-Food investigation
DEAR Madam/Sir

"Complements of the day, before I proceed, I must be grateful to introduce myself. I am Mrs Gaylene Hopsack, the bereaving widow of Honourable Neville Hopsack, a respectful high executive of Australian Wheats Board (Cayman Islands Inc). Due to an unfortunate clerical error, late Neville and Wheats Board deposited sum of $A300 million into bank account of Excellency Saddam Hussein, former President of Iraq (Bank Gnome Suisse de Zurich et Geneve) in respect of wheat export facilitation transaction.

"Enquiries in my home country of Australia proving difficult at present, I am seeking your assisting in repatriation of said funds in joint venture as imediately as plausible to our mutual benefit. I am ready to give you a good percentage for your helpfulness.

"As you are aware, Australian Wheats Board is an organisation of highest reputation, under supervision of Australian Canberra Government and United Nations' oil for foods program in Iraq. Therefore you must have confidence.

"Please provide your phone numbers and bank account details by return email with view to arranging friendly meeting in Australian financial capital city Wogga Wogga.

"Best regards, Gaylene Hopsack."

The legacy of Nev's misplaced millions
By Mike Carlton
January 28, 2006

It was good to smile at a rather dark time.

Assorted Kinds of Creation

Costume history reconstruction
For the Head"

The Hands That Sew the Sequins
Published: January 19, 2006
EVERY day for the last three weeks in Montmartre, 45 seamstresses at the House of Lesage, France's oldest embroiderer, have been hunched over wooden frames feverishly stitching sequins, rhinestones and beads onto gossamer cloth. Their needlework is so intricate it seems spun from candied sugar.
[Part of a very old tradition]

Various garments & accessories available here pages/accessories_cat_CategoryID_74.php

Frilly pages/accessories_detail_ProductID_346.php latest_product_detail_ProductID_598.php accessories_cat_CategoryID_95.php pages/latest_product_detail_ProductID_564.php

including this idea:
Pantyhose Love Glove - Makes putting on pantyhose a pleasure. Prevents snags, tears & rips on pantyhose caused by jewelry, jagged nails & dry skin. Perfect for handling and washing fine fabrics too. Smooth nylon tricot is resistant to snagging. One size, stretchy lace trim. $7.00

HTML 4.01 Entities List
EUR sign € (€ or €)
The em-dash, &mdash, coded —
The copyright sign, ©, coded ©
Freedom of … intercourse (&2026;)

the original online Flanders and Swann resource

Another exciting wrist-top timekeeper!
Possibly amusing

Thursday, 26 January 2006

Cleek: Monday Cat Blogging

Needed a bit of cheering up.

Cleek: Monday Cat Blogging (Monday, January 23, 2006 at

Tuesday, 24 January 2006

Heraclitean Art?

Ferrofluid is a material originally developed by NASA.

It is now being used for a range of practical devices, including dampers for controlling and stabilizing large buildings that move around in the wind. But it also has lovely visual qualities when magnetized, which some people are using for artistic purposes.

Ferrofluid sculpture

Sachiko has taken the idea of "liquid architecture" literally with these sculptures made from Ferrofluid, which changes its state by the introduction of electro-magnetic waves.
Here are pages with some still pictures,

and also videos of the changing effects:

and, in a different form of fluidity,
Australian digital artist Pierre Proske ( is working with researchers at the Future Applications Lab of the Viktoria Institute in Sweden to develop intelligent fridge magnets ( Each fridge magnet consists of a 16-character liquid crystal display, which may one day be able to fix bad grammar and change the words to something it thinkd is more appropriate. Mr Proske says "The idea is that each magnet is aware of the other magnets on the fridge and they transmit information between each other". He explains this is a "whimsical and accessible" way to contribute to the study of developing intelligent robots.

Mr Proske and colleagues have so far half developed a prototype intelligent fridge poetry magnet system and are hoping to get more ideas at the International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces ( in Sydney during January 2006.
Heraclitean? (see these: 1, 2) Πάντα ῥεῖ καὶ οὐδὲν μένει
Everything flows, nothing stands still

Wednesday, 18 January 2006

Not the Granville Train Disaster

War has broken out between Great Britain and Germany."
This was the message received by the Australian Naval Board, from the British Admiralty on the 5th of August 1914, at 1100 (11 AM) Australian time (
German ship in Melbourne when WW1 dawns
On the day war broke out, there was one German ship in Melbourne, it was the 6,560 ton steamer Pfalz, which had taken on board the Consulate staff from Melbourne, and was proceeding down Port Phillip Bay to pass through the heads, into the freedom of the open sea.
Captain Robinson was the Australian pilot navigating this vessel towards the Rip.
Port Phillip Bay, is a large body of water, but it narrows at the entrance, and is overlooked by protecting Forts on each side of the entrance, these two areas are collectively known as the Heads.
The morning war was declared by Britain on Germany, the Forts situated each side of the Bay, and guarding the Rip, were warned that Australia was now also at war with Germany.
The first shot to be fired by Australia in WW1, came from a 6 inch gun emplacement at Queenscliff, it was aimed across the bows of Pfalz as she was about to enter the Rip. Captain Robinson now observed the signal flying at the Fort, was against the vessel he was piloting, notwithstanding an argument with the German Merchant Captain, Robinson prevailed, he turned Pfalz about, and sailed her back to Melbourne and captivity.
A subsequent inspection uncovered 4 inch guns stowed in her hold, plus evidence came to light that this ship had been built to enable these guns to be mounted to turn her into an Armed Merchant Ship. It had been a close run thing!
The Germans now became Prisoner's of War, and Captain Robinson barely escaped the title of " Australia's first POW of WW1."
The first shot of World War 1 by any allied army is supposed to have been fired from Point Nepean fort at Port Phillip Heads. The date was 5 August 1914, and the war was just one day old. The target was the German steamer Pfalz which was attempting to leave the port.

When she left Melbourne, news that Britain had declared war had not yet reached Australia. But that news had come through by the time Pfalz had reached the Heads. A shot fired ahead of the ship prompted wrestling over the engine-room telegraph control between the ship's Master and Melbourne Pilot Captain M. Robinson of Williamstown, followed by a quick reversal of course. The ship returned to anchor off Williamstown. More than five hours passed after the incident before the crew realised why the vessel had been fired upon and detained.

Pfalz was fitted out as a troop transport, and renamed H.M.T. Boorara.

The first shot of the Second World War is believed to have been fired from the same spot--Point Nepean--at a passing German ship--ss Stassfurt--which refused to stop and escaped.

Lesser-Known Facts of WWII
The very first Allied shot of the war in the Far East was actually fired over the bows of the Australian coaster Woniora (Captain F. N. Smale) from a 6-inch gun emplacement at Point Nepean, guarding the entrance to Melbourne's Port Phillip Bay. The 823 ton coaster had entered the bay at 9.15 pm on September 3, 1939 after a trip from Tasmania. Ordered to heave-to for inspection, the coaster gave her identity but continued on without stopping. A 100 lb shell, fired across her bow, soon changed her captain's mind.

By a remarkable coincidence, this was the actual, same gun that had fired the first shot of World War I when, hours after war was declared, it fired on the German Norddeutscher Llyod 6,500 ton steamer Pfalz while it attempted to leave Australian waters on August 5, 1914. The Pfalz was then returned to Williamstown where the crew was detained. The captured vessel served out the rest of World War I as the Australian troopship HMT Boorara.
The walks also explore the remains of the defensive network (fort, barracks, gun placements and subterranean passages) that was first established at Point Nepean in 1882 to guard the entrance to Port Phillip Bay during a period when there were pervasive fears of a Russian invasion. Local limestone proved ideal for the construction of underground passages and, by the end of the 19th century, the fort was allegedly the most heavily armoured outpost in the Southern Hemisphere.
The fort's two cannons allegedly fired the first shot on Britain's side in both world wars.
On August 5, 1914, when Australia received word of Britain's declaration of hostilities, a German freighter happened to be in Port Phillip Bay. A shot was fired across the bow and the crew were then detained as POWs.

A volley from these same cannons was again fired at the declaration of war in 1939. However, the target proved to be a Tasmanian freighter which had failed to fly its colours.

Thursday, 5 January 2006

VLP (Very Large Primes)

Worlds largest prime number identified, aka Grid Discovers Largest Known Prime Number or Distributed computing enjoys prime success
The number is expressed as 2 to the 30,402,457th power minus 1, a 9,152,052-digit numeral. Reportedly, the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS) found another VLP (Very Large Prime) back in February, but neither reached the 10 million digits needed for an Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) $100,000 prize.
Note: The reporting seems to have its own number problem, having described the computers/power used as: "an international grid of about 70,000 computers", "the collective power of more than 200,000 computers", and "more than 700 computers ", as well as about 4,500 years solo work on a brand new Pentium 4 computer.

You can get your very own copy as a large text file, too.

More raw information is available at and

Wednesday, 4 January 2006

Digital Postcards?

I've already seen a few things in the same sort of area, cheap single-use digital cameras which can take stills or video. Will hunt out the quick-pic of one I took with my own variation, the low-rent (but handy for when you haven't anything else) mobile phone camera.
Stamp of approval
January 3, 2006
High-tech digital postcards - ones with built-in flat screens that can play a slide show of photos taken by the sender. That's the vision of Stuart Calvey, a 22-year-old industrial design student at the University of NSW ... Calvey's Snap+Send Postcard, a disposable digital camera, is so light and inexpensive it can be sent in the mail ...

The palm-sized camera-cum-postcard, housed in a cardboard shell with a two-megapixel lens, a 10-centimetre screen, digital memory and an internal battery, would cost about $25.

There would be no delete or zoom functions and it would be one-use only. "You can't get too precious about certain features," he says. However, the slide show could be watched a few hundred times and the camera could be taken to a developer to get the photos printed.

Fun with Needles

Moebius Knitting (e.g. Quiver [PDF] & Moebius Swan TeaCosy [PDF] )

Monday, 2 January 2006

Warm Enough for You?

It's Hot. It's Damn Hot!
We're having a worryingly warmish New Year here in New South Wales. Lots of inland areas have been having above-40-degree (104F) days for a while -- traditionally they hit both higher summer & lower winter extremes than the coast -- but today (New Year's Day) the forecast for Sydney was 41, and it's actually hit 44 (111F), which is 20C (68F) above average, with the traditional coastal summer humidity up beyond 80%. Now it's 8.30 at night, and still 40C. We're half-waiting, half-dreading a Southerly Buster that's heading up the coast, dropping the temperature behind it down to a safer 25C (77F), but freshening up fires with its wind (80-110kph 50-80mph??), and pushing them around in a different direction.

There's quite a few bushfires around, some of them have been going for a while, but so far it looks like (dv, inshallah, touch wood) not as bad as some of the past years really bad multi-fire situations. Still, it's early days yet.

Sydney Morning Herald 'snapshots' of Sydney Fires: