The Adventure Begins (again)

June 18, 2012



2 packs, 7 countries, 140 odd days, 6 pairs of undies. Should be fun.


“There Was Never Any Pay-day For the Negroes”

May 24, 2010

Excellent stuff:

Dayton, Ohio, August 7, 1865: A letter from a freed slave to his former master, in response to the latter’s request that he return to the homestead.

The whole thing is brilliantly written and laden with a certain grim wit, but the post script just seals it:

“Say howdy to George Carter, and thank him for taking the pistol from you when you were shooting at me.”

Read it at History Mattershere.

via 3QD

The subliminally implanted choice of a new generation

April 20, 2010

This comes via one of my students, who gave a presentation this week about the development and effects of video games (or something. It was about video games anyway).

They began by running through a few ‘classic’ video games (classic to people born after 1990) including the usual cast of hedgehogs, bandicoots and italian plumbers. The greatest nostalgic sighs however were reserved for this guy, heretofore unknown to me :

Game synopsis (based on my viewing of the above): Our spandex clad corporate branded hero, Pepsi Man, is on the trail of a delivery truck with an improperly secured cargo of sugary caffeine water. On his way he must battle the evils of the municipal trash delivery, jaywalkers (who by the looks of things he ruthlessly murders on contact) and white picket fences. Each level ends with our hero posing mightily in front of a Pepsi vending machine, from which he drinks a well-earned can of Pepsi. Its a shame they felt it necessary to cut the most exciting part, where Pepsi Man restocks the machine with the bounty of soda that he found on the roads, backyards and living rooms of the game’s denizens.

By way of background: Bahrain was for many years a no-Coke zone, for various reasons that I can’t be bothered researching properly (*cough*bottling-plant-in-Tel-Aviv*cough*). Pepsi was (and to a large degree still is) the sugar-water of choice. The good folk at PepsiCo obviously decided that the next step from complete monopoly was ‘use video games to indoctrinate a generation of spandex clad Pepsi fueled super-soldiers’. Death to the Jaywalker!

NB: I understand that the sequel: “Pepsi Man 2:  Battle against Type 2 Diabetes and Tooth Decay” didn’t do so well, despite what critics described as a “thrilling final boss fight” (against colon cancer).

We feel the matter has been adequately dealt with in accordance with policy.

April 15, 2010

Dear Sir/Madam

We are writing to inform you that your child (insert student name here) was caught on Turner Elementary School premises in possession of prohibited items. The item(s) in question were: approx. 60 x bags of heroin_______________.

You will note that approx. 60 x bags of heroin is not allowed on school property without a permission slip or doctor’s note. Please refer to schedule 4(a) of the school’s Prohibited Items and Contraband Policy for further information on what students may or may not bring onto school premises.

We are further concerned that (insert student name here) was seen to distribute approx. 60 x bags of heroin amongst class mates. This constitutes unacceptable behaviour as outlined in schedules 1 – 7 of the school’s Rules and Disciplinary Procedures document.

We would like to arrange a meeting with you, (insert student name here), the headmaster and the District Attorney’s Office at the earliest convenient opportunity to discuss this behaviour with you.

Please acknowledge receipt of this letter.

Yours in education,

Turner Elementary School


It’s so hard to get good coverage these days

February 3, 2010

I know that the denizens of the United States are currently facing the prospect of promising their first-born in exchange for back-alley dialysis performed by some guy with a siphon hose, a foot pump and a discarded water cooler, but I feel that these reasonable compromises in the name of free enterprise are nothing on the dire situation that I find myself in with my new health insurance.

This clause in particular puts quite a damper on things:

Health Insurance

Borneo Diaries Day 3

January 17, 2010

18/12/09 Kota Kinabalu and surrounding islands

It certainly does.


And also thus:

TOUT MAN: Hi Guys! Welcome to Pulau Mamutik! Can I interest you in a number of overpriced and strenuous activities? We have a special this month on ‘being dragged behind a large inflatable banana’.

US: No thanks.

TOUT MAN: You’re sure I can’t interest you in our world famous ‘put on this silly hat and walk on the seabed?’

US: No thanks, just gonna do some snorkelling (indicating gear hired for this purpose) and lounging on the beach.

TOUT MAN: Ah. Just snorkelling. Okay. No kite surfing?

US: Nope. Just snorkelling. And the aforementioned lounging.

TOUT MAN: Oh well. Maybe next time. The best snorkelling is over that way.

US: Thanks

TOUT MAN: Be careful of stone fish

US: Yeah we wi… what?

TOUT MAN: Stone fish. Be careful of those.

US: Stone fish? Like the ones that…

TOUT MAN: Yeah they’ll kill you. And  watch out for Jelly fish. It’s their breeding season right now.

US: …and Jelly fish. Got it.

TOUT MAN: And sharks. You PROBABLY won’t see those. Still.

US: Uh okay. So this way then?

TOUT MAN: Yep, that way. Take a brochure. Enjoy!

Actual dangers we weren’t warned of:

1. Monitor Lizards*

2. Skin Cancer

Fig 1. This exact thing happened to Sarah. Minus the dog and the inappropriateness.

*Okay, probably not very dangerous (unless you are a snail, small insect or crocodile’s egg.) But not to be trusted either. Wikipedia says they can count.

Borneo Diaries Day 2

January 13, 2010

17/12/09 – Singapore to Kota Kinabalu

Side effects from tetracyclines are not always common, but of particular note is possible photosensitive allergic reaction which increases the risk of sunburn under exposure to UV light from the sun or other sources. This may be of particular importance for those intending to take on vacations long-term doxycyline as a malaria prophylaxis.

They may cause stomach or bowel upsets, and rarely allergic reactions. Very rarely severe headache and vision problems may be signs of dangerous secondary intracranial hypertension also known as Pseudotumor cerebri.

Tetracyclines are teratogens due to the likelihood of causing teeth discolouration in the fetus as they develop in infancy. For this same reason, tetracyclines are contraindicated for use in children under 8 years of age. They are however safe to use in the first 18 weeks of pregnancy.

Some patients taking tetracyclines require medical supervision because they can cause steatosis and hepatotoxicity


Photo: Refurbishing sacred cows, Temple St Singapore.

Borneo Diaries Day 1

January 11, 2010


After passing the signs that said “SELAMAT DATANG!” (“Welcome!”) and WARNING DEATH FOR DRUG TRAFFICKERS UNDER SINGAPORE LAW (“Warning death for drug traffickers under Singapore law”) I had the following delightful exchange at Singapore airport:

POLITE, SMILING MAN IN UNIFORM: Excuse me sir, could you please come with me?

ME: Sure.

PSMIU: Would you mind putting your bag on the xray machine.

ME: No problem.

PSMIU: Where have you come from today sir?

ME: Most recently? Uh Colombo, just for a stopover (apparently this is the wrong thing to say)

PSMIU: Ah. And you are aware that it is illegal to bring empty bullet casings into Singapore sir?

ME: Uh… okay.

PSMIU: Please put your bag on the table sir .

(I do so)

PSMIU: Do you have any bullet casings sir? Any knives or guns?

ME: Uh… n…

PSMIU: How long were you in Colombo for sir?

ME: About two hours? I got on the plane in Bahrain

(PSMIU gives me a quizzical look)

ME: …it’s in the Middle East (this is definitely the wrong thing to say)

PSMIU: Ah. Because as I said it is illegal to bring empty bullet casings into Singapore

ME: Okay

PSMIU: And guns

ME: Yes…

PSMIU: And knives.

ME: ….Okay. Because I don’t…

PSMIU: Okay? No bullet casings.

ME: Yes, sure but I don’t…

PSMIU: Just so you know. For next time. No bullet casings.

ME: yes of course…

PSMIU: Thank you sir! Welcome to Singapore!

ME: Uh, thanks, I… what?

WordPress (juvenile) hilarity

October 19, 2009
What the world eats

What the world eats

Human Universals – Part 1

October 14, 2009

This is going to be a coffee table book one day.