Skywhale ahoy

May 10th, 2013

Artist Patricia Piccinini has created a hot air balloon she's christened The Skywhale, in honour of the centenary of the founding of Canberra:

Artist Patricia Piccinini says her inspiration came from the wonder of nature.

"My question is what if evolution went a different way and instead of going back into the sea, from which they came originally, they went into the air and we evolved a nature that could fly instead of swim," she said. […]

Me, I think it looks pretty great. It's partly that goofy grin it has, and partly the sheer incongruity of glancing up and seeing something this strange go by:

[Via MetaFilter]

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Heat upgrades

January 8th, 2013

Australia is experiencing such a heatwave that meteorologists are having to come up with new colours for their weather maps:

SYDNEY – Extreme heat in Australia forced the government's weather bureau to upgrade its temperature scale, with new colours on the climate map to reflect new highs forecast next week.

Central Australia was shown with a purple area on the latest Bureau of Meteorology forecast map issued for next Monday, a new colour code suggesting temperatures will soar above 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit).

The bureau's head of climate monitoring and prediction David Jones said the new scale, which also features a pink code for temperatures from 52 to 54 degrees, reflected the potential for old heat records to be smashed.

(Meanwhile in the UK, the Met Office is most likely devising symbols to represent how deep the flooding gets, in the event that your local river decides to burst through your flood defences and saunter up to – and under – your front door. With bonus points if they can design a symbol that simultaneously indicates both how deep the flooding is and how many years in a row flooding has affected that particular town or village.)


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November 25th, 2012

Earlier this month Maciej Cegłowski took a trip to Queensland, Australia to see the total eclipse of the Sun:

Tuesday, November 13

I get up early to watch the sunrise, partly because jet lag makes it easy, partly because I want to see what conditions might be like tomorrow, and mostly from my irrational fear that every one of us has done the date math wrong. The eclipse is marked on November 13 in my date book, and while I believe in the International Date Line, I don't believe in it enough to sleep in.

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Wombats are the original dice-makers

August 4th, 2012

Stuff I learned on the internet today: Why you should give a square shit about wombats.

[Via MeFi user tempestuoso, commenting here]

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Sailing away

May 27th, 2012

A light show projects actual sails onto the sails of the Sydney Opera House.

I'll grant you that the part where the 'sails' appear to collapse is spectacular (as are the bits with the dancers), but I liked it best when the sails seemed to have unfurled, and were fluttering in the breeze as if the opera house was making sail. I think they should keep that portion of the light show up permanently.

1 Comment »


January 18th, 2012

Lake Dundas, Western Australia.

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How would they vote?

December 11th, 2011

How would they vote? is fanfic with a somewhat unusual focus. Take, for example, The Breakfast Club's "Princess", Claire Standish:

Soon after joining the Breakfast Club, Claire realised there was more to life than pearl earrings and skiing trips to Colorado. Where was the reward in having life delivered to you on a silver platter?

Enter John Bender. While Bender had started off as simply a grab for attention from her quibbling parents, it soon became apparent that he was much more than that. Reforming John Bender would become Claire's personal Fix-Her-Upper, the challenge that would bring fulfilment to her otherwise vacuous life. And she loved him for it.

Despite initial misgivings about Bender, Claire's conservative parents came round to the young man, admiring his 'organic entrepreneurial spirit' and it wasn't long before the couple was happily married. Claire studied PR and encouraged John to enrol in a community college course in business studies. When he wavered with his software design idea, she pushed him forward.

She was also successful in her own right. Upon graduating, she entered into a big-name PR firm and managed several big accounts during the early '90s, including for Sega, Pepsi Max, and Janet Jackson. She voted Clinton in '92, purely out of respect for his rapport with the common man, but swung right in 2000, under the influence of her husband's anti-tax, small government crusade.

By 2008, Claire's talent for PR had started to get noticed by the right people in Washington. When she received a call to help out a struggling Hilary Clinton in the race against Obama to secure the Democratic nomination, Claire couldn't refuse. That fall she came up with her best idea yet – the infamous 'red phone' ad.

Despite Clinton's failed run at the presidency, Claire stayed in Washington and it wasn't long before she had made the seamless transition from Clinton to the other side of politics, recruited by the Koch brothers to work on strategies for undermining the Obama administration in the lead-up to 2012.

The focus of the site seems to be on characters from US and Australian TV, which leaves something of a gap in the market. What would Detective Inspector Jack Regan have made of members of the Met being bussed up to the Yorkshire coalfields to put striking miners in their place? Would Tom Good, having presumably ended the 1970s as a classic wooly Liberal, have ended up in the Green Party, or been seduced by New Labour? Would Alan B'Stard still be a Tory?1

[Via MetaFilter]

  1. OK. Stupid question!

1 Comment »

Big Ad

June 12th, 2011

An epic TV advert.1

  1. Presumably it's old hat to Australian readers, but as far as I know it never made it over here.

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Really owning your double entendre

February 18th, 2011

Do you have a long, stabby thing close at hand while you sleep? Breakfast TV hosts discuss home defence, Australian style.

[Via MetaFilter]

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Brisbane before and after

January 18th, 2011

Brisbane floods: before and after.

Nice user interface for the gallery: horrifying images.

[Via Bifurcated Rivets]

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January 15th, 2011

Dan Hill has posted an epic tale of life in Brisbane as the floodwater started to rise:

We spot a large advert for chocolate milk adorning a building. "Dive into chocolately fun" it says. It seems newly relevant as we see the river, looking exactly like a vast, smooth soup of milk chocolate. The Brisbane River is famously brown at the best of times, being an extremely silty bit of river, but is now browner than ever.

The landscape round here is distinctly suburban. Not quite the manicured suburban of rich Los Angeles suburbs, or even 'Erinsborough', but the slightly more raggedy Australian version, with cars parked on lawns, rampant foliage growing in and around the low, angled roofs, set against straggly gum trees and paperbarks, a most unruly genus. But it's distinctly suburban nonetheless, which adds to the surreal aspect of views like Witton Road, where that chocolately fun engulfs a training shoe, some wheelie bins, and a box of breakfast cereal, and most of the street.

The most striking observation, for me, came as he recounted a trip to stock up on sandbags:

We've run out of sandbags […] so we have to drive out to Kedron to pick up as many as we can load in the boot of the car. Plotting routes in and around the city is relatively complex, as you're listening for road closures on the radio, looking for the blue wriggle of creeks and rivers on the map, and trying to remember the topography of the city, all those swoops of valleys.

When was the last time you had to stop and think about whether your route took you uphill or downhill as you drove around a city?

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Uluru in the rain

October 26th, 2010

Rain falls on Uluru.

The phrase "awe-inspiring" might have been invented for just this purpose.

[Via MetaFilter]

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And now they're left with Hermione versus Crabbe

August 16th, 2010

Australian politics explained in terms of the Harry Potter series:

Until recently, the Australian Prime Minister was Harry Potter. He was elected to the position back in 2007 when the Australian Labor Party took victory, displacing the eleven-year-long Liberal (Conservative) reign of Voldemort. Voldemort had been convinced that he would be returned to power by an electorate only concerned with the economy, but misread the situation, as it turned out that many Australians were also concerned with Climate Change, Decent Treatment of Refugees, and Economic Policies that were more sustainable than Growth At All Costs.

At first, Harry was a lovely Prime Minister. […]

[Via web-goddess]

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Blinded by technology

May 5th, 2010

There are lies, damned lies, and automated sensor readings:

A RECORDED downturn in [Adelaide's] Central Market shoppers that had been attributed to the global financial crisis has now been blamed on a faulty doorway sensor system.

The council and traders have been in a panic over the past year over a sharp downturn in visitor figures and fine-tuned advertising campaigns to attract shoppers.

A council report obtained by The Advertiser has found faulty sensors caused the dramatic drop in recorded visitors and ACC has now been forced to review at least a year of data.


The council's best estimate is that the drop in actual visitor numbers over the past year is less than 1 per cent, compared with about 10 per cent previously believed. […]

[Via RISKS Digest]

1 Comment »

Lucky, lucky, lucky

October 16th, 2009

Watch this video. Luckiest. Baby. Ever!

[Via Daring Fireball]

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"Because you are in Chatham!"

September 13th, 2009

A pair of memorable responses from a politician to a heckler, lifted from the comments on this post:

  • Adlai Stevenson: "You are, sir, what the Reverend Spooner would call, 'a remarkable example of a shining wit'."
  • Gough Whitlam: denouncing one of his opponents and wrongly referring to him as a Liberal.
    "He's a Country member" someone heckled.
    "Yes I do remember!" replied Whitlam.

[Via The Browser]

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May 28th, 2009

Brian Eno has lit up the exterior of the Sydney Opera House.

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"Mrs Murphy is busy too."

April 20th, 2009

Norman Abjorensen's article exploring the tension between the desire for a leader to seen to be be a 'good bloke' and the nature of the sort of person who makes it to the top in politics includes a marvelous anecdote about post-WWII Australian prime minister Ben Chifley:

Ben Chifley was perhaps the closest we have had to a good bloke as prime minister. A man capable of toughness and unafraid of making decisions that might hurt friends, Chifley had a decency and a humanity in a class of their known. The best known story is that of the woman who, believing she had dialled the Manuka butcher, proceeded to read out her weekend meat order. The recipient was the prime minister – his private direct line number only one digit different from the butcher's – and he calmly wrote down the order and then telephoned it through to the butcher. When a staffer chided him, telling him he was too busy for that, Chifley would have none of it. "Mrs Murphy is busy too," he shot back.

I wonder which British prime ministers would have reacted likewise. I can imagine Chifley's contemporary Clement Attlee doing so, and perhaps at a stretch the likes of Harold Macmillan or Jim Callaghan, but it's hard to imagine any of the last few residents of Number 10 reacting like that.1

[Via The Browser]

  1. Fairly or not, if a politician allowed a story like that out nowadays everyone would assume it was a put-up job or an out-and-out lie.

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The Don

March 28th, 2009

You truly do learn something new every day on the internet. From a discussion about company names:

In Australia, now,

6203. For paragraph 147(1)(c) or 601DC(1)(c) of the Corporations Act 2001, a name is unacceptable for registration if the name:

(e) in the context in which it is proposed to be used, suggests a connection with:

(i) a member of the Royal Family; or
(ii) the receipt of Royal patronage; or
(iii) an ex-servicemen's organisation; or
(iv) Sir Donald Bradman.

(Tangentially related.)

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Mr Cave's erection

December 6th, 2008

Nick Cave appears to be having great fun winding up his home town by announcing a plan to erect a statue of himself on horseback:

"Russell Crowe, my mate, has promised to attend," he told the Wimmera Mail Times by email. "Snoop Dogg, a rapper, says he'll come if they let him into the country. Kylie Minogue said she wouldn't miss it for the world; she even promised to wear her gold lame hotpants."

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