Thursday, March 29, 2007

Humane Farming - The Tide Has Turned 

Just as McDonalds new range of "healthy" meals has sparked a wave of low-fat meals in fast-food chains, now Burger King has started sourcing eggs and pork from "suppliers that did not confine their animals in cages and crates".

Not completely, but a beginning. "The goal for the next few months, Burger King said is for 2 percent of its eggs to be “cage free,” and for 10 percent of its pork to come from farms that allow sows to move around inside pens, rather than being confined to crates."

That should be enough to get the call rolling, and before long the western world is paying more for their cholesterol snacks, and animals are living more humanely.

Will this decade become known as the conscience decade?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Who pays for porn on the web? 

Pre capita, the countries who spent the most in 2006 to look at online porn are:

South Korea $526.76
Japan $156.75
Finland $114.70

Could it be a direct reflection of download speeds? South Korea definitely has the fastest infrastructure....

Loads more facts & figures about the porn industry are here

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Jumper Alert at the Grand Canyon 

No, I'm not talking about bad jumpers like in Bridget Jones, (even though it can get pretty cold there) but rather suiciders. As someone who is scared of heights, the first thing I noticed about this new viewing platform at the Grand Canyon is the ease at which someone could fall off... I predict that after a few folk choose this scenic spot as their last view of this world, they'll do something to make it harder to jump

Thursday, March 22, 2007

How to patent a pig 

Just do what Monsanto (the bastards!) have done...
Greenpeace researchers have uncovered patent application from the biotech giant Monsanto which, if granted, would give the company world-wide control over breeding of pigs and their off spring.
More at Greenpeace.

I understand why they would want to do this from a corporate greed point of view (our shareholders are demanding more profits!), but how on earth can the people that work there sleep at night?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Pan's Labyrinth - Ripped Off! 

I loved Hellboy, Mimic and Blade 2. And I'm a fan of Sergi López. And I love most forms of twisted fantasy. So after only skimming the rave reviews (so as not to have too much revealed to me before I see it), I was confident of a happy cinema ride.

Not so! Standing ovation at Cannes, awards galore, 8.6 vote at IMDB, all make no sense to me. This film to me was:

- 10% labryinth, 90% vicious, pointless old war film.
- the labrynith took 10 seconds to explore and mostly consisted of one room, one interesting creature, and 3 CGI tinkerbells.
- every body shoots each other, for no good reason
- Sergi López was pure evil, too well acted for me to want to watch

For old Spaniards only.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Food Miles - great idea! 

Of course food exporters are going to complain, and there's more to the "real cost" of products than just distance travelled, but it is a start.

Transportation costs the environment, that cannot be disputed, so now in the UK labeling will help us decide if we want to support local products or those from far off lands:
"The theory is, the longer transport distances required to get products to the shelves means higher energy and fossil fuel consumption, thus increasing greenhouse gases and leading to global warming," he said.

Some British supermarkets such as Tesco were promising to introduce carbon labelling on their products, he said.
One problem is that far off lands might be able to counter the transport costs with more efficient production - like NZ because they have a better climate for growing things:
Among the study's findings were that the energy used to produce lamb in Britain was four times higher than in NZ, while for apple production it was three times higher.

Hopefully we will end up with the following to read on the packaging:

-distance travelled
-total carbon cost creating the product
-an indicator of the wages paid to those who made it
-percentage of cost that goes to the producers

So when I see that a Nike shoe travels 5000km, costs lots of carbon, was made by people earning $10 a week, and only $3 of what I am paying makes it back to China, I might choose not to buy it...

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Getting a USA XBox 360 to work in Australia 

Pissed off with Microsoft Part 2

I got given an XBox 260 from an American company, so it came with a US power supply (aka power brick).

After a fair amount of searching local forums, I found out from multiple sources that I have two options if I want to run it here in Oz:

1) Buy a stepdown transformer, at least 550W (although some say a 500W one works fine for them, would cost several hundred bucks, is big & ugly.

2) Get an Aussie power supply (aka PSU) from Microsoft. There is only one way to do this:

a) Phone Microsoft at 1800 555 741
b) Tell them it was a gift from the USA, and you want to buy an Aussie power supply for it
c) Pay them $118.89
d) Send them the USA power supply (free postage)

Why am I pissed off? Well, that support number is answered by people in the US. The one who took my call kept accessing her "reference material" and told me that an AU power brick would not work with an NTSC XBox 360. After 30 mins I asked to speak to her supervisor and he promptly apologised and organized the replacement for me.

Strange that they don't have an office here, and that they will send the replacement from the USA. I should've asked if I was paying $US for it :(

Games / TV
You need Region 1 games for a US XBox, although many popular titles are region-free and local copies of these will work fine

Most modern TVs will accept an NTSC signal

You cannot use the 360 to record local TV, or to watch non Region 1 DVDs

Monday, March 12, 2007

Do you work 50 hours a week? 

I'm in two minds on this one....

On the one hand, Australia is a fantastic, prosperous place to live - which may be in part due to the long hours some of us work

On the other hand, if life is wonderful here, why don't we enjoy it, instead of overworking?

A recent study has shown that in the category of "people who work more than 50 hours per week", the rankings are:
The Japanese and Americans are well-known for their hard work, but I don't want Australia and NZ up the top of the list with them - we should be like Ireland & France!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Westpac Rental Rewards Scam 

It sounds great when you read the cover of the brochure - use your credit card to pay rent, and get reward points on your Westpac Altitude credit card. You get to pay your rent weeks after it is due, AND get reward points!

Buried away is the very important small print:

"a convenience fee of 1.32% Visa/Mastercard or 2.97% Amex"

I use Amex, and for every dollar I spend I get roughly 1c in rewards, in exchange for a $150 a year fee (so if I spend more than $15K I make on the deal...)

My rent is roughly $2K a month. Which means I get $20 of rewards, but I pay them $60 for the privilege.

They say this extra $40/$60 saves me:

"quarterly membership fees, cheque, direct debit or ATM withdrawal fees"

Shame on you Westpac!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

A New Fetish is Born 

It's called "putting a magnet in your bum!"

Not a problem if you are from the "western world", but if you are an Iraqi Bum Magnetizer, watch out for them officials:
The man, identified by law enforcement officials as Fadhel al-Maliki, 35, set off an alarm during passenger screening at the airport early this morning.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Someone read my article on John Skelton! 

It's funny how your web stats point out the plenty of people have visted the page, but they can't tell me if anyone reads some or all of the article, and what they thought...

I have come across the first opinion I have received on it since poetry class years ago, and it's OK I suppose. I'm presuming it is from a youngster:
"After reading Skeltons article i can see there are some simularaties between the way John Skelton uses rhyming patterns to that of todays rap artists; but i don't agree that Skelton was the "God father of rap". In fact i think that Robert Skelton (not sure if there are any family ties between Rob and John Skelton) is clutching on to straws thinking that John Skelton was creating some form of new age rap movemet some 500 years ago. What does he think, John Skelton was doing the running man around King Henry VIII castle in a backwards baseball cap with a clock around his neck?? i don't think so!! "

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Get a tan from your computer 

Not the usual type of cancerous radiation from non-LCD screens, but a nifty program that enables your monitor to bathe you in UV rays and give you the same effect as a tanning salon. It is available as a free service.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Cool Charity Site 

Charity Navigator is an independent service that rates charities, primarily vasdd on how much they blow on admin. It's a US site, but a great resource for anyone with charitable desires.

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