Friday, 21 November 2014

How top colleges figured out how to turn away Jews

"...For the years learning up to the early 1920s, the Jewish population at Yale was steadily increasing. The Yale administration first tried to limit the scholarship money available to Jewish students and, when that failed to deliver the desired results, they decided to require more than just an excellent admissions exam score to secure entrance to the freshman class. Yale, Karabel explained, insisted that would-be matriculants be of a certain "personality and character" consistent with whatever arbitrary requirements the admissions board deemed relevant..."

Oy Vey

Speaking two languages is better for your brain than Sudoku

"Bilingualism, or the brain’s ability to accommodate two languages, means your brain is perpetually working to tune out one messaging system. When someone can think equally well in more than one set of words, your cognition skills sharpen."

Read here.

Scribbler Joy - Picturebook Makers

Just stumbled upon Picturebook Makers courtesy of Shaun Tan, one of my favourite author/scribblers.

Discover how these author/scribblers dreamed up their picturebooks.

Tree House Love

First spotted this awesome book in all its GIANT glory in a bookstore in Shanghai.  3.3 kgs, 27cm x 3.3cm x 34cm (7.2 pounds, 10.5 x 1.3 x 13.4 inches), full of wonderful tree houses from around the world. Figured I'd wait until I moved home to Melb before getting this beast of a book delivered to me. Birthday looming... I think it might be time *rubbing hands together gleefully*

Giant book joy

Antibacterial frenzy

Nuts how I have to dig around a supermarket shelf and read labels carefully to find soaps and other household cleaners that are not antibacterial. 5-6 shelves, full of antibacterial this, that and everything.

Just saw an ad on TV yesterday for antibacterial wall paint. Sheesh!

FIve reasons why you should probably stop using antibacterial soap

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Let's all go outside and roll around in dirt

"Although correlations have been noted between the composition of the gut microbiome and behavioural conditions, especially autism1, neuroscientists are only now starting to understand how gut bacteria may influence the brain. The immune system almost certainly plays a part, Mazmanian says, as does the vagus nerve, which connects the brain to the digestive tract."

Gut-brain link grabs neuroscientists

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Tiny Home Love

I would love to park this by the beach and chill-out for a month or so.

$22,000 mortgage-free home

Scientists Use Wikipedia to Predict Disease Outbreaks

"...researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, examining three years' worth of Wikipedia data such as searches for symptoms or diagnoses, managed to create very accurate forecasts of the spread of dengue fever in Brazil and influenza in the U.S., Japan, Poland and Thailand.
They were also able to make predictions, although less accurate ones, of outbreaks of tuberculosis in Thailand and China and of the spread of dengue fever in Thailand, the researchers reported in the journal PLOS Computational Biology."

Read here

Why I have been away

They're a little older now, but here are a couple of favourite pics from not terribly long ago (though it feels like waaaaay back when).

Big Sister

Little Brother

Sweeping Cobwebs Away

4.5 years and 2 kids later, I'm back sweeping away cobwebs as I tentatively revive this blog. The kids are a little older, things are somewhat calmer, and I am in the right headspace again to do this.

Here we go.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010


Great love.

Our little Tiger keeps us rather busy these days.

My feeds will still be updated now and again.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

12 Years

Happy 12 years, baby.

Love you forever.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Australian Internet Censorship Fail

Funny viral video Censordyne: good, clean internet censorship

Sign the petition against internet censorship in Oz.

More information on Censordyne.

From the folks at GetUp!

"Imagine a government proposing an internet censorship system that went further than any other democracy - one that made the internet up to 87% slower, more expensive, accidentally blocked up to one in 12 legitimate sites, and missed the vast majority of inappropriate content.

This is not China, Saudi Arabia or Iran - this is the vision of Senator Stephen Conroy for Australia. Testing has already begun. The community must now move to stop this plan. Click here to save the net:

The system that Senator Conroy wants is a mandatory filter of all internet traffic, with the government of the day able to add any unwanted site to a secret blacklist. Already, the wrangling has begun for the inclusion of material relating to anorexia, euthanasia and gambling. It isn't difficult to see the scheme is open to abuse.

Even when it comes to preventing child p-rnography, the filter will not prevent peer-to-peer sharing and is very simple to sidestep. The protection of our children is vitally important - that's why we can't afford to waste funds on this deeply flawed system. We should be concentrating on solutions that are more effective and won't undermine our digital economy or our democratic freedoms.

This must rank as one of the most ill-thought decisions of the Rudd Government's first year in power. We need to act now to tell big brother the mandatory internet filter is incompatible with the principles of a modern democracy and modern economy:

Our government should be doing all in its power to take Australia into the 21st century economy, and to protect our children. This proposed internet censorship does neither. Take action to save the net today.

Thanks for being a part of the solution,
The GetUp team

PS - The proposed scheme will pass all internet traffic through a government filter - it's like asking Australia Post to filter every letter sent in Australia. Click here to save the net.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Inspirational Women Scientists

Rather sad that most of these names are not commonly known.

1. Marie Curie 1867-1934

Physicist who was the first European woman to be awarded a doctorate in science. Won a share of two Nobel prizes for her work on radioactivity (25.1% of the vote)

2. Rosalind Franklin 1920-1958

Chemist who did much of the groundwork for James Watson and Francis Crick's Nobel prize-winning discovery of the structure of DNA (14.2%)

3. Hypatia of Alexandria 370-415

Wrote treatises on geometry, algebra and astronomy in Roman Alexandria. A staunch critic of religion, she was murdered by a Christian mob (9.4%)

4. Jocelyn Bell Burnell 1943-

Astrophysicist who co-discovered pulsars as a research student. Her male colleagues won the Nobel prize for the discovery (4.7%)

5. Ada, Countess Lovelace 1815-1852

Made major theoretical contributions to Charles Babbage's early work on computing (4.5%)

6. Lise Meitner 1878-1968

Co-discoverer of nuclear fission, for which her colleague Otto Hahn won the Nobel prize (4.4%)

7. Dorothy Hodgkin 1910-1994

Chemist who perfected the technique of X-ray diffraction. Won the Nobel prize in 1964 (3.8%)

8. Sophie Germain 1776-1831

Mathematician who made great progress on Fermat's last theorem, then unsolved (3.7%)

9. Rachel Carson 1907-1964

Biologist and writer, best known for Silent Spring, the book that launched the modern environmental movement (3.3%)

10. Jane Goodall 1934-

Primatologist, passionate advocate of animal rights and global leader of efforts to protect wild apes (2.7%)


Courtesy of @guykawasaki

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Phenomenal photos of Earth from space

"This spectacular “blue marble” image is the most detailed true-color image of the entire Earth to date. Using a collection of satellite-based observations, scientists and visualizers stitched together months of observations of the land surface, oceans, sea ice, and clouds into a seamless, true-color mosaic of every square kilometer (.386 square mile) of our planet. "

"This is one of the most famous photographs ever taken. It was captured by NASA astronaut Bill Anders as Apollo 8 was orbiting the Moon. This was the first time that humans had ever gone into orbit around another object in the Solar System. Seeing the entire Earth as a tiny ball hanging in space was nothing short of life changing."

This is a photograph of Tokyo, Japan - the biggest city in the world - imaged by International Space Station astronaut Dan Tani on February 5, 2008. The brightest part of the city is the center, with ribbons of light stretching out of the city center following roads and public transit routes.

"South of Khartoum, Sudan, where the White and Blue Nile Rivers join, a dizzying arrangement of irrigated fields stretches out across the state of El Gezira. The several bare-looking patches are small villages. This image was captured by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA’s Terra satellite on December 25, 2006."

"...houses and streets in bustling Las Vegas, Nevada are seen in this image from the commercial IKONOS satellite taken in September of 2004."

View them all here.

Courtesy of @guykawasaki

Saturday, 16 May 2009


Delicious, clean, and distinctive flavours. Vegetarian dining, friendly service, good music (mostly), tranquil ambiance complete with old clocks with old-school chimes on the quarter hour, wifi and Non-Smoking! I have found my new haunt in Shanghai.

Kazu, a lovely Japanese lass, and Fela, a friendly Pommy lad, and chef Sayaka, opened Annamaya approximately one week ago.

I have, over two visits, enjoyed the quiche with salad, and the Japanese set with cold soba noodles (delish) and onagiri (rice ball jobbies - also delish). Interesting, vaguely unidentifiable, tasty soups were served in beautiful ceramic mugs and bowls . Yummy blends of fresh juices on offer include pear and green leaf, and carrot, apple and ginger. The Earl Grey tea cake is divine and reminiscent of the best cake I have savoured in life to date - the poppyseed cake at Blue Elephant, Prahran, Victoria, Oz circa 1994. I will soon sample the apple pie, and ginger scones (3 scones for RMB15), and maybe even the eyebrow-raising tofu cheesecake (hmmm...). Lunch set RMB50, dinner set RMB70. Cakes RMB30, tea RMB25, juices RMB35.

I am a big fan of the larger tables for spreading out laptops, books and what not (during quieter times).

A great place to park and read or scribble.

Thank you Kazu, Fela, and Sayaka for this wonderful oasis in Shanghai.

3 Taojiang Lu.
6433 4602
11:00am - late.
annamaya shanghai healthy vegetarian restaurant shanghai nonsmoking non-smoking restaurant shanghai

Friday, 15 May 2009

Amazing spacewalk photos

"Bruce McCandless II took the first untethered space walk in February 1984. Here we see him from Challenger, floating above Earth."

More at Wired courtesy of @stephenfry

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Random Tidbits

Came across an interesting section in The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives and thought to share it:

"Could it be that publishing success is so unpredictable that even if our novel is destined for the best-seller list, numerous publishers could miss the point and send those letters that say thanks but no thanks? One book in the 1950s was rejected by publishers, who responded with such comments as "very dull," "a dreary record of typical family bickering, petty annoyances ad adolescent emotions," and "even if the work had come to light five years ago, when the subject [World War II] was timely, I don't see that there would have been a chance for it." That book, The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, has 30 million copies, making it one of the best-selling books in history. Rejection letters were also sent to Sylvia Plath because "there certainly isn't enough genuine talent for us to take notice," to George Orwell for Animal Farm because "it is impossible to sell animal stories in the U.S.," and to Isaac Bashevis Singer because "it's Poland and the rich Jews again." Before he hit it big, Tony Hillerman's agent dumped him, advising that he should "get rid of all that Indian stuff."

Those were not isolated misjudgments. In fact, many books destined for great success had to survive not just rejection, but repeated rejection. For example, few books today are considered to have more obvious and nearly universal appeal than the works of John Grisham, Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss), and J.K. Rowling. Yet the manuscripts they wrote before they became famous - all eventually hugely successful - were all repeatedly rejected. John Grisham's manuscript for A Time to Kill was rejected by twenty-six publishers; his second manuscript, for The Firm, drew interest from publishers only after a bootleg copy circulating in Hollywood drew a $600,000 offer for the movie rights. Dr Seuss's first children's book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, was rejected by twenty-seven publishers. And J.K. Rowling's first Harry Potter manuscript was rejected by nine. Then there is the other side of the coin - the side anyone in the business knows all too well: the many authors who had great potential but never made it, John Grishams who quit after the first twenty rejections or J.K. Rowlings who gave up after the first five. After his many rejections, one such writer, John Kennedy Toole, lost hope of ever getting his novel published and committed suicide. His mother persevered, however, and eleven years later A Confederacy of Dunces was published; it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and has sold nearly 2 million copies."

Friday, 8 May 2009

Breathing in Shanghai

Just changed the Blue Air purifier filters in the apartment. Above photo shows 3 filters: leftmost is the new filter, the other two are filters from the last year (they are replaced every 6 months).

Filter for the smaller machines (e.g. for bedrooms).

I never open the windows - but there is circulation since the seals on the doors and windows aren't the best. So, I imagine one would have to change the filter every 3 months or so if windows / balcony doors are regularly opened for extended periods of time.

Hmmm... maybe I should change the filters every 4-5 months rather than 6.
blue air shanghai blue air purifier shanghai china

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Lego Mindstorms NerdJoy: 3D Scanner

O my FSM!!! I am blinded by its oarsomeness!

More about this genius at engadget.

Courtesy of @guykawasaki

Gimme Geekjoy: Sound Advice Waveform Bracelets

The Sound Advice Project turns any six second audio clip into a waveform bracelet.

Wonder what "E.T. phone home..." would look like.

Courtesy of UberReview

Monday, 23 March 2009

I'm going to Mars!

In 2011, Scooterboy and I will piggyback on Mars Science Laboratory for a trip to Mars! Whooo hoooo! 8)

Hitch a ride here.

More geek awesomeness @MarsScienceLab

Friday, 6 March 2009

Samantha Zaza

Amazing art by Samantha Zaza.

One of her beautiful pieces decorates the top of the blog. I will have to find a way to permanently attribute her work on that piece. Unfortunately, I'm not nearly geek enough to get a hyperlink onto the art.

In the meantime, you can find more from szaza at Skineart.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Devastation at home

Terrible accounts from survivors and rescue workers. Unimaginable suffering.

I hope the survivors and loved ones of those who perished will recover in time.

Sources of photos: ABC, and TheAge

Difficult to imagine that entire towns no longer exist. The Boy and I went for a long drive in the country on our first date in 1997 and stopped for dinner at a good friend's house in Kinglake. That house is no longer standing, and neither is most of Kinglake. Our friend moved away a few years ago and is safe. Many others were not so lucky.

Friday, 6 February 2009

26 Random Things You Don't Really Need To Know About Me

Banged this together for a viral thing going round in Facebook. Have laffed out loud at a few friends' lists. Gotta love a good chuckle now and again.

1. The second toe on both feet is fully 1 cm longer than the big toe. Yes, I am a monkey.

2. My feet are completely flat. ZERO arches. Yes, I am a monkey-duck.

3. I can't get enough of books and bookstores. I am a monkey-duck-bookworm.

4. I have acalculia and try to say it like it's some condition I can't help when really, I'm just seriously shit-house at mental math.

5. I was a fat bastard when I was a toddler. Fell sick when I was 4. Refused food, then water, and started wasting away. Mum freaked out when the docs couldn't do nothing so of course, she brought me to a witch-doctor (as you do), who told her that I had been possessed by a white tiger spirit residing in one of the trees on our plantation. They bathed me in some flowery stuff and over time, I recovered - right until I met The Boy who is lily-white and is a tiger (chinese horoscope). Hey Witch-doctor! *failure buzzer noise*.

6. I am eternally grateful for having found the love of my life and that he is an amazing guy, and my best friend.

7. I love that my mum told The Boy early in our dating days that she too had watched the violent kungfu movie last night, and then looked him in the eye and with a little smile said, "I like the violence." I love that The Boy promptly laffed his butt off.

8. I love that I have a mum who sleeps with a sword under her bed (oh so cleverly concealed as a walking stick), and the fact that she reckons she'll be right with that fine piece of metal in her hand against an assailant despite her 5 feet nothing status.

9. I love that my mum places hexes on people whom she thinks are dodgy. Atta girl! *thumbs up*

10. I am eternally grateful for having wonderful sisters.

11. I have a bag fetish. A couple of years ago, a friend made me count them all. The result did not at all reveal me to be a freak. (Phil: you're never getting an updated count)

12. When I was in kinder, I had an eyelash-batting crush on a little Indian boy by the name of Subrilu. I used to comb his hair with my Hello Kitty comb. WTF??

13. I love tea and wish T2 would freakin open a store in Shanghai, partly so their staff would stop asking me if I'm opening a cafe whenever I re-stock when back in Melbourne. Then I wouldn't have to explain that I'm stocking up since I'm living in Shanghai, following which there is the inevitable uncomfortable silence then - Aussies being the wonderful people that they are who just can't help themselves - the smart-arse comment, "Ya know, there's quite a bit of tea in Choina" *smirk*. Green teas, not black teas!!

14. I derive an inordinate amount of joy from peeling price tags off books.

15. I have only one regret in life so far - that I didn't have the guts to quit my Commerce degree after first year to hop over to the Arts faculty. Bloody Commerce - ceteris paribus: what the hell kind of bs IS that?!

16. Wish I were a super duper geek freak genius who worked for Pixar or Google.

17. Reckon I should have been a lab technician - minimal contact with people, highly detailed tasks. Yes, please!

18. Not working is every bit as bees-kneesy as I thought it would be and then some - enjoying it while I can.

19. Wish I could time travel. Would travel back and forth, but would especially love to see the future once humans are able to fold space and travel the universe. Star Trek is real dammit!

20. Wish I had a replicator and a holodeck. Nerd alert!

21. I am grateful that I am easily amused and often find the stupidest things funny.

22. I fidget heaps - a friend reckons that's how I stay slim. Hey, whatever works.

23. I have been around 48-50kgs for the last 15 years, but have, in the last year or so, noticed a slowly-but-surely widening of the butt, with an accompanying upward creep on the weighing scale. Very disturbing (especially when I think about some of the wide-loads in the extended family) *shudder* Must fidget more.

24. I am exhausted by watching and hearing other people's children run around, and am worried about having to contend with my own some day (is it a bad thing to lojack a kid?).

25. I reckon the obsession with the colour pink among young girls is creepy.

26. In kinder, a classmate tried to steal Shorthand, my teddy bear (it had little arms), out of my school bag. I clocked her one in the eye. It felt great.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Two Castles from England

A couple of months ago, I shipped two suitcases from Melbourne to Shanghai via a freight company that I might name later (I will wait till I have my goods in my hands before doing so).

Yesterday, I received a call from the China staff of said company and the following conversation ensued:

FREIGHT HO: Halo! dis ssssrkjlrkjs slkejljer slkjskjrjs rrssshkkkttt (very fast speech in incomprehensibly accented 'English')
ME: I beg your pardon? Who are you again?
FREIGHT HO: ssdkljrslk srlkjss sssss (again, very fast speech).
ME: I'm sorry, could you speak a little slower? I'm having trouble understanding your accent.
FREIGHT HO: sssdkjhsdlf sssddlkjdsg sddffss (again, very fast speech).
ME: I'm sorry, did you say [Freight Company]? (I took a guess)
ME: Ah. Ok. Yes?
(The rest of the conversation on her side remained pretty much unintelligible, with much tooing-and froing between us as above, but I will skip most of the BS for expedience).
FREIGHT HO: We delivery two castles to you tomorrow.
ME: Castles?
ME: You mean, you are delivering two suitcases, yes?
FREIGHT HO: Yes. Two castles from England.
ME: No. Not England. We shippped two suitcases from Melbourne, Australia to Shanghai. Not England. Please confirm that you have the correct shipment.
FREIGHT HO: aaaaaaaaaah... I don know where shipped from.
ME: Ok. (I'm used to Chinese service and don't even bother reacting to this one)
ME: Please tell me my reference number (trying to force her to check that she had the correct shipment).
FREIGHT HO: aaaaaaaahhhh.... We delivery two castles tomorrow.
ME: What is my reference number?
FREIGHT HO: We delivery two castles tomorrow.
ME: Stop. Listen. What is my reference number?
FREIGHT HO: We delivery two castles tomorrow.
ME: Ok. My reference number is [Number]. Please check that you have the correct shipment.
FREIGHT HO: We delivery two castles tomorrow.
ME: Ok. Whatever.

Come 11:00am today (if they show up), I might be coming into a couple of castles from England *whooo hoooo!*

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Gimme Rover!

NASA's nifty lunar electric rover in the inaugural parade. Can't wait for touchdown *fingers crossed*

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

In First Family, a Nation’s Many Faces

A look at how Obama's family is a new kind of family in the White House, representing not just Black America but many cultures.

read more | digg story

Friday, 16 January 2009

Super speedy climate change in our not too distant past

I am currently reading Survival of the Sickest a riveting book on diseases and human evolution. I thought I would share a section that grabbed my attention:

"In the early 1970s, climatologists discovered that some of the best records of historic weather patterns were filed away in the glaciers and ice plateaus of northern Greenland. It was hard, treacherous work - if you're imagining the stereotypical lab rat in a white coat, think again. This was Extreme Sports: Ph.D. - multinational teams trekking across miles of ice, climbing thousands of feet, hauling tons of machines, and enduring altitude sickness and freakish cold, all so they could bore into a two-mile core of ice. But the prize was a pristine and unambiguous record of yearly precipitation and past temperature, unspoiled by milennia and willing to reveal its secrets with just a little chemical analysis. Once you paid it a visit, of course.

By the 1980s, these ice cores definitively confirmed the existence of the Younger Dryas - a severe drop in temperature that began around 13,000 years ago and lasted more than a thousand years. But that was just, well, the tip of the iceberg.

In 1989 the United States mounted an expedition to drill a core all the way to the bottom of the two-mile Greenland ice sheet - representing 110,000 years of climate history. Just twenty miles away, a European team was conducting a similar study. Four years later, both teams got to the bottom - and the meaning of rapid was about to change again.

The ice cores revealed that the Younger Dryas - the last ice age - ended in just three years. Ice age to no ice age - not in three thousand years, not in three hundred years, but in three plain years. What's more, the ice cores revealed that the onset of the Younger Dryas took just a decade. The proof was crystal clear this time - rapid climate change was very real. It was so rapid that scientists stopped using the word rapid to describe it, and started using words like abrupt and violent. Dr. Weart summed it up in his 2003 book:

Swings of temperature that scientists in the 1950s believed to take tens of thousand of years, in the 1970s to take thousands of years, and in the 1980s to take hundreds of years, were now found to take only decades.

In fact, there have been around a score of these abrupt climate changes over the last 110,000 years; the only truly stable period has been the last 11,000 years or so. Turns out, the present isn't the key to the past - it's the exception.

The most likely suspect for the onset of the Younger Dryas and the sudden return to ice age temperatures across Europe is the breakdown of the ocean "conveyor belt," or thermohaline circulation, in the Atlantic Ocean. When it's working normally - or at least the way we're used to it - the conveyor carries warm tropical water on the ocean surface to the north, where it cools, becomes denser, sinks, and is carried south through the ocean depths back to the Tropics. Under those circumstances, Britain is temperate even though it's on the same latitude as much of Siberia. But when the conveyor is disrupted - say, by a huge influx of warm fresh water melting off the Greenland ice sheet - it may have a significant impact on global climate and turn Europe into a very, very cold place."

Food for thought what with all the glacier melt underway *sheesh* Plenty of other fascinating information in this book. I highly recommend it!

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Merry Xmas & Happy New Year!

Goodbye 2008! Hello 2009 - may you be funner than 2008!

Merry Xmas, Happy New Year, Happy Hanukkah, Mazel Tov!

Beautiful sites

100 Websites with Outstanding Artistic Design

Courtesy of either @xenijardin or @guykawasaki

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Home Sweet Home

One of the many beautiful parks in the city.

Kicked back on the grass and watched the clouds float by.

Scooterboy reading in favourite park-in-the-middle-of-a-residential-street.

Stunning Fitzroy Gardens smack in the middle of the city.

It was wonderful to be back home again, albeit for a rather short time. The contrast with Shanghistan is truly astounding. Blue sky, clean air, clean water, friendly, logical and functional people, capable medical professionals, ambulances that can actually get to you and are equipped to save your life, civility, ethics, great food, KoKo Black, Brunetti's, Francois, Tiamo2, Oskar, St Ali, The Vic Market Deli, bratwurst with sauerkraut at the Vic Market, the Vic Market, Gluttony, gorgeous parks, grass that you can walk/sit/lie on, bright colours, great markets, beautiful crafts, great book shops. Ah well, will just hang onto the fact that I will get to go home again one day.

Meanwhile, I'll remind myself of the positives of Shanghistan: cheap taxis, availability of help (cleaners), cheap massages, Sichuan/Hunan/Yunnan cuisine, Awfully Chocolate cakes.

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