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Justin Mason's Weblog Posts


“Monster waves” — ocean waves of 100 feet and more in height, not caused by seismic activity — may be explained by a new theory from researchers at the Technical University in Berlin.

“Even in the tank the effect was awe-inspiring,” said Prof Clauss. “The exploding wave was so powerful that it broke through the ceiling of the building in which the tank is located,” he added.

Impressive — but I’m pretty sure there’s been eyewitness accounts of bigger waves than the ones mentioned (120 feet), as well. I wonder if the theory can account for those?

Date: Sun, 06 Jan 2002 12:38:53 -0800
From: Brian Chapman (spam-protected)
To: (spam-protected) (spam-protected)
Subject: Mystery of monster waves solved

Sunday Telegraph | 6 Jan 2002

Mystery of monster waves solved By Tony Paterson in Berlin

GERMAN scientists claim to have explained the mystery behind so-called monster waves – the term given by oceanographers for near-vertical breaking seas up to 120ft high. Such seas are thought to have sunk more than 200 supertankers and container ships without trace during the past two decades.

Often dismissed as sailors’ yarns, monster waves have terrified seafarers for centuries and provided the raw material for countless novels and films including Sebastian Junger’s recent best-seller The Perfect Storm.

Yet until now scientists and oceanographers had been unable to determine exactly what formed such gigantic “one-off” seas that are capable of breaking a 600ft-long ship in half and sending it to the bottom within seconds.

A team of oceanographers at the Technical University in Berlin has now managed to explain the phenomenon with the aid of computers and by simulating monster waves in a tank.

“Our wave experiments have proved for the first time that monster waves are physically possible and that they really do exist,” said Prof Gunther Clauss, who led the team of scientists.

“This represents a breakthrough for the shipping and oil industries because we can now start to design structures that can cope with these monsters,” he added.

Using a computerised, hydraulically powered wave-making machine in a specially designed tank supplied by oceanographers at Hanover University, Prof Clauss’s team has established that monster waves can occur with little or no warning.

The waves are created in a storm when slow-moving waves are caught up by a succession of faster waves travelling at more than twice their speed. “What happens then is that the waves simply pile up on top of each other to create a monster,” said Prof Clauss.

“The result is an almost vertical wall of water which towers up to 120ft in height before collapsing on itself. Any vessel caught by one of these has little chance of surviving.”

Photographs of the experiments show the monster wave building into a vertical wall of water before exploding into an uncontrollable boiling mass as it collapses on itself.

“Even in the tank the effect was awe-inspiring,” said Prof Clauss. “The exploding wave was so powerful that it broke through the ceiling of the building in which the tank is located,” he added.

Monster waves are thought to have caused the loss of at least 200 “super carriers” or ships measuring more than 600ft in length on the world’s oceans over the past 20 years. The unexplained disappearance of many smaller vessels including trawlers and yachts could put the total number of losses much higher.

Yet accounts by seamen who have witnessed such waves are comparatively rare. One, dating from 1995, was when the QE2 was hit by a hurricane on a crossing to New York.

She survived what was estimated to be a 95ft high wave which the ship took directly over her bow. Her captain, Ronald Warwick, described the phenomenon as “like going into the White Cliffs of Dover”.

One of the few small-boat sailors to survive a monster wave was the British yachtsman, Brigadier Miles Smeeton, who did so twice. His 50ft ketch, Tzu Hang was dismasted twice by such waves while attempting to round Cape Horn in the 1950s – once after being “pitchpoled”, toppled stern over bow.

In Germany, the horrors of monster waves have been brought right up to date after revelations about the near-sinking of the German Antarctic cruise liner Bremen in the south Atlantic last year. The ship with 137 passengers aboard was hit by a 114ft wave in March while heading towards make Rio de Janiero after an Antarctic cruise.

The impact smashed windows on the bridge and cut the ship’s electricity supply. The vessel drifted engineless for more than half an hour heeling at an angle of 40 degrees in huge seas whipped by hurricane-strength winds.

“I have been at sea for 48 years, but never have I experienced such a wave,” said the Bremen’s captain, Heinz Aye, 65, who is now retired.

Prof Clauss said that his team’s research would help naval architects in their efforts to construct ships and oil platforms that were capable of withstanding such freak wave forces.

“In many cases it is as simple as building a bridge on a ship that is not slab-sided but rounded, so it can cope with being hit by a monster wave. Most ships plying the oceans right now are not built along these lines,” he said.

The team also hopes that its research will help in the development of radar that is specifically designed to warn of sea conditions that could produce the monster-wave phenomenon.

“This could help the captains of ships to steer clear of a danger area, but the truth is we can do nothing to prevent monster waves. They are a product of nature,” Prof Clauss added.

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Mmmmm….. Marmite. “It must be spread thinly. T-h-i-n-l-y…”

We now, thanks to various visitors from the other side of the world, have 4 large jars of the stuff. Looks like we’ll be lugging it around for a while. yum.

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Ever wonder if computer industry analysts were, quite simply, for sale to the highest bidder? Wonder no more, courtesy of the latest MS leak via the Register:

  1. The first wave will attack the perception that Linux is free. To that effect, we’ll have an independent analysis commissioned by DH Brown … The DH Brown report will be customer ready and will help your customer understand just how competitive Microsoft is in this arena.

  2. The second wave will be a full blown cost analysis comparison case study between Linux and Windows in a variety of usage scenarios (web, file and print, etc.) done independently by the analysts for us. ETA for this tool is in May and it will be a great tool to help you sell the value of Windows solutions over Linux. …

(emphases on will added by jm.)

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It’s alleged that 10 midwives at Wollongong Hospital’s maternity ward have been holding nitrous oxide and tamazepam parties at work. Those nurses have all the fun!

Date: Mon, 29 May 2000 09:14:22 +1000
From: Peter Darben (spam-protected)
To: (spam-protected)
Subject: Umm . . .

—– (from The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) 31.12.01),4057,3512875%255E3163,00.html

Midwives ‘partied’ as babies were born



TEN midwiveshave been stood down or shifted from Wollongong Hospital’s maternity ward over allegations they have been holding laughing gas drug parties at work.

The Illawarra Area Health Service has launchedan investigation into illegal drug use among midwives, and one doctor, who are alleged to have been inhaling nitrous oxide — known as laughing gas — and swallowing sleeping tablets while on duty.

The Daily Telegraph has been told the drugs were taken during frequent parties at the hospital, held inside empty birthing rooms while babies were being delivered next door.

A junior nurse brought the practice to the attentionof hospital authorities on December 11, claiming that one of the parties was held inside a birthing room on December 9.

While two women were in labour with premature babies, three of the four midwives on duty were partying with nitrous oxide, an anaesthetic gas which promotes feelings of euphoria and can cause hallucinations.

The junior staff member is said to have been horrified by the behaviour, which had the potential to put patients at serious risk — particularly during birth complications.

Authorities investigating the drug parties arebelieved to have been handed a photograph of one of the events, held during July.

It is believed some senior maternity ward staff have been implicated.

Since the investigation began last month, those who are not facing the accusations have been subjected to bullying from the alleged ring leaders, urging them not to co-operate.

A caution was issued to all maternity ward staff against harassment and intimidation – and one staff member who flouted the order was stood down on December 19.

Two days later, on December 21, that nurse and five of her colleagues were stood down and four were moved to other areas of the hospital.

Investigators examining the hospital’s drug records are understood to have uncovered unusually high usage of nitrous oxide and temazapam in the maternity ward.

This supports their belief that the parties have been something of a tradition at the hospital, rather than a one-off incident.

Yesterday, Illawarra Area Health Service chief executive Dr Tony Sherbon confirmed that an investigation into “unprofessional conduct” at Wollongong Hospital’s birthing unit had led to disciplinary action.

“The Illawarra Area Health Service executive and Wollongong Hospital managers are deeply concerned about this serious breach of conduct,” Dr Sherbon said.

“The decision to stand down midwives was made on December 21 following allegations they had misused nitrous oxide while on duty.

“There are also concerns about the high use of the sedative temazapam in the birthing unit and that investigation is still ongoing,” he said.

Dr Sherbon said the NSW Nursing Association and Nurses Registration Board had been advised of the decision to stand down the midwives.

And “a thorough review of all recent births at Wollongong Hospital has not shown any link between the use of nitrous oxide and any adverse outcomes for any mothers or babies”.

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Incompetent websites, part 43985943. Waider @ ILUG notes:

It’s a moot point at this stage, but am I the only person (well, other than whoever fixed the problem) who noticed that the euro countdown on was, until some time this morning, counting down to midnight Dec 30/31 as opposed to midnight Dec 31/Jan 1?


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Where does the smell of rain originate from?

If you’ve wondered why the ground, or the road smells a bit odd when it rains after a long dry spell, wonder no more… The smell is given off by Streptomyces bacteria, a genus belonging to the Actinomycetales order of Gram-positive eubacteria, also called actinomycetes.

The bacteria grow in damp, warm earth before fine weather dries out the soil, which then blows around as dust. During a dry spell, actinomycetes produce spores that are released on contact with moisture. Rain hitting the ground kicks up an aerosol of water and soil and you breathe in fine particles of soil containing the bacteria.

Cool! via

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Jeff Bone points out Lingua::Romana::Perligata, a Perl module … that makes it possible to write Perl programs in Latin. A plausible rationale for wanting to do such a thing is provided, along with a comprehensive overview of the syntax and semantics of Latinized Perl.


#!/usr/bin/perl -w
use Lingua::Romana::Perligata;
maximum inquementum tum biguttam egresso scribe.
meo maximo vestibulo perlegamentum da.
da duo tum maximum conscribementa meis listis.
dum listis decapitamentum damentum nexto
fac sic
nextum tum novumversum scribe egresso.
lista sic hoc recidementum nextum cis vannementa da listis.

The mind boggles.

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Blade director Steven Norrington is planning to direct a movie of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Alan Moore’s fantastic comic. This should be bizarre — Victorian superheroes, in authentic period style, filmed by a hyper-Hollywood director (going by Blade at least).

I wonder if they’ll take out all the accurate 19th-century colonialist bigotry: “the inscrutable Chinee” etc.?

BTW — went to see Lord of the Rings last night, totally fantastic. The interpretation was spot on too, and some of the CGI effects (Saruman’s tower!) were just incredible! Well happy with that — best movie of the year by far. And the “over-celtic” criticism noted before just doesn’t stand up IMO.

Only fault I could have is the slightly sluggish first bit (but I suppose LoTR novices need a bit of explanation), and (as Lukage pointed out via private mail) the “breakdancing Gandalf” sequence. Well, also, the elves were a bit super-fey but I guess that’s unavoidable.

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Buzkashi — “Goat-grabbing” — is back in Kabul.

Horses’ hooves thundered, the crowd roared with excitement – and the carcass of a headless goat hit the playing field with a sodden thump. In a spectacle not seen since pre-Taliban times, the ancient Afghan sport of buzkashi returned to Kabul on Friday.

Date: Sat, 29 Dec 2001 06:29:12 -0600
From: “Webmaster” (spam-protected)
To: “Forteana” (spam-protected)
Subject: Goat Polo,1597,322586-412,00.shtml

Goat Polo In Liberated Kabul

Afghan National Sport Returns After Taliban Leave

KABUL, Afghanistan, Dec. 28, 2001

(AP) Horses’ hooves thundered, the crowd roared with excitement – and the carca ss of a headless goat hit the playing field with a sodden thump. In a spectacle not seen since pre-Taliban times, the ancient Afghan sport of buzkashi returne d to Kabul on Friday.

Thousands of avid spectators perched atop mud-brick walls, clambered onto truck beds and stood balanced on bicycle seats to watch two teams of whip-wielding ho rsemen fight a running duel up, down and across a dusty field surrounded by rui ned buildings in the center of the Afghan capital.

“We haven’t seen this game played in more than five years,” said a grizzled fan , Ulam Siddiq, who was rooting for the Kabul home team. “It’s part of our cultu re, and we’re very happy to have it back again.”

Buzkashi – which means “goat-grabbing” in the Dari language widely spoken in Af ghanistan – is not a pastime for the faint-hearted.

Leaving aside any squeamishness about the “ball” – that would be the decapitate d goat – the game involves no-holds-barred combat, waged at full gallop, to wre st control of the carcass from the rival team. Gashes and broken bones are comm on; spills commonly send riders and horses alike tumbling.

Being a spectator at a buzkashi match isn’t all that much safer. Every few minu tes, the watching crowds scattered and fled as groups of horsemen plowed wildly into the sidelines, whips clenched in their teeth.

The object of the game is to try to snatch the 150-pound carcass from the cente r of the field and carry it to the scoring area. Only the most skilled players – known as “chapandaz” – manage to get the goat. And keeping it can be even har der.

Traditionally, the game is played at festive times like the start of the new ye ar, or at Afghan wedding parties, when matches lasting days would sometimes be staged. Organizers said this match was meant to celebrate the inauguration of A fghanistan’s new interim government six days earlier.

Like so much else in Afghanistan, the sport has particular ethnic associations. Buzkashi is most popular in the north, where it is thought to have originated among Turkic-Mongol peoples, and is primarily played today by Uzbeks, Turkmen a nd Tajiks.

Horses and players alike undergo years of training before they are allowed to t ake to the field. During Taliban rule, the best-known players fled into exile i n Pakistan or were bottled up in the small slice of territory held by the oppos ition northern alliance.

“Our best horses and our best players are not back yet,” player Sayeed Ashi sai d just before the match began, seated astride a chestnut horse with a brightly patterned saddle blanket. “But we’re proud to resume this tradition – it’s our national game, and we love it.”

Milling among the spectators Friday were dozens of Kalashnikov-toting northern alliance soldiers, some in camouflage uniforms. They hooted and applauded along with the rest of the crowd – and quickly dodged, along with the others, when a knot of thundering horseflesh headed their way.

The two teams – one from Kabul, the other from the rugged Panjshir Valley

  • bat tled to a 9-9 draw, but the crowd enthusiastically applauded the

goal-scoring o f both. Organizers said matches would be held regularly in the capital from now on.

While the mood at the buzkashi field was festive and no serious injuries were r eported, recent days have seen renewed interest in blood sports long popular in Afghanistan and long criticized by international groups. Cock-fighting and dog -fighting, both banned by the Taliban, are once again taking hold in around Kab ul.

“It’s part of the long story of our country, fighting,” said Siddiq, the buzkashi fan. “For now, it is fine to have it only on the playing field.”

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More pics up on, from the Casio watchcam over November and December, including two trips to Philip Island to see the penguins. BTW, “I am not lazy, I am surviving” is my new life motto.

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I can wholly sympathise with Joe Barr’s experiences with MPlayer; I tried to set up a few good, recent video players on my Red Hat laptop a while back, and the DLL hell just wasn’t worth it.

The attitude is hilarious too:

Don’t get me wrong. There is documentation. It is scattered, and often incomplete, and carries the same attitude I had seen elsewhere, but it is there. An example of that attitude, taken verbatim from the FAQ:

Q: I compiled MPlayer with libdvdcss/libdivxdecore support, but when I try to start it, it says: error while loading shared libraries: lib*.so.0: cannot load shared object file: No such file or directory

I checked the file and it is there in /usr/local/lib.

A: What are you doing on Linux? Can’t you install a library? Why do we get these questions? It’s not MPlayer specific at all! Add /usr/local/lib to /etc/ and run ldconfig. Or install it to /usr/lib, because if you can’t solve the /usr/local problem, you are careless enough to do such things.

What the hell are BOFHs doing writing a video player? Go back to LARTing lusers, or something!

I finally got XINE set up, thanks to two lovely RPMs from Red Hat’s Rawhide bleeding-edge distro. (At least someone around here knows how to package software ;)

There’s a few other packages which (I’ve heard) boast scary maintainers. Very nice to look at, but ask a question and the maintainer’s likely to stab you. Can’t see the point of that, myself. Half of writing free software is the fact that the users will contact you at some point. Get used to it!

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Online Banking With Konqueror — an exhaustive list of online banking systems, and whether or not they work with Konqueror. Since Konqueror uses a from-scratch implementation of Javascript, and is generally just not MSIE, this also acts as a good guide to online banks that Have A Clue How To Write Usable Web Apps. (Kudos go to AIB 24-hour Online Banking, who have run a clean, friendly, and very usable plain-HTML banking system since day 1.)

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We noticed various characteristic Muppet behaviors such as the Muppet Panic and the Muppet Walk (and the one I just realized, the Muppet Moment of Inner Turmoil That’s Actually a Hand Rearrangement).

ROFL! I’d always wondered what was going on there, now it all makes sense.

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Bizarre, if quite funny, spam. This guy should give up on the spammage and just sell wierd stuff over the web legitimately.

Date: Sat, 15 Dec 2001 10:15:18 -0000
From: “Bob Rickard” (spam-protected)
To: (spam-protected) Com” (spam-protected)
Subject: FW: Help Stick it to Osama!

From: Billy Yank …
Subject: Help Stick it to Osama!

Introducing the latest weapon in the war on terrorism: THE OSAMA ‘PIN-LADEN’ ANTI-TERRORIST VOO-DOO DOLL!!!!

Yes, you read right….AN Osama Doll! But NOT JUST A DOLL!!! The ‘Pin Laden’ Voo-Doo doll is NOT just a wacky little stocking stuffer… It is a bona-fide, home-brewed ‘PSY-OPS’ ANTI-TERROR MOVEMENT!!!! Read on:

It’s like this—Remember those Moony conventions (or whatever they were), where they got thousands of people together in a football stadium to blow out a candle thorugh willpower? Well, we’re trying to ‘blow out’ Bin-boy pretty urgently, and WE NEED YOUR HELP!! So Grab your Osama Voo-Doo doll, an assortment of The Red,White and Blue ‘Patriot Pins’ included, and STICK IT TO HIM AMERICA!!!

Remember, THIS IS WAR, so please buy a few for patriotic friends too…YOUR COUNTRY THANKS YOU!

Still not convinced?!

OK, OK, While it may not be an officially sanctioned initiative in the War against Terrorism, ‘MAKE NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT,’ this IS for a good cause. 15% of the net profits wil be donated to Rudy Giuliani’s TWIN TOWERS FUND.

So in a way, it’s like RUDY HIMSELF SAID YOU SHOULD BUY ONE!…(unless he e-mails us all pissed off, in which case we’ll take this part out.)

But wait a second…if you poke an Osama Voo-Doo doll, WILL IT REALLY WORK to combat terrorism? Well, if you don’t, it wont work for sure, so WHAT’VE YOU GOT TO LOSE?! Rip open the bag, chant a few curses, and STICK IT TO HIM AMERICA!!!

Hmmm….If you’ve read down this far, I guess you still need convincing….You’re probably thinking this is just one more lame spam advertisement sent to clog up your in-box for the profit of others.

Uhhhh….Well, you have a point, but we have one too–6 in fact..You see, every person who decides to ‘Stick it’ to the ‘Pin-Laden’ Voo-Doo doll, with the 6 RED, WHITE AND BLUE ‘PATRIOT PINS’ included in the package allows us to donate money to the families of victims of the 9-11 attack via the Twin Towers Fund. It’s a COMPLETELY LEGITIMATE (albeit slightly tasteless) venture, and this IS much funnier than 99% of all the other junk you receive, isn’t it? And after all, they really do make great stocking stuffers to boot.

Look, what are you afraid of? Hey — it’s a cloth doll okay?! It ain’t anthrax, and it ain’t gonna make you end up on some kind of Tipper Gore black-magic satanist insurgent watch list! It may very well delight and impress your friends, and make a useful doorstop, toilet scrub-brush, rottweiler chew-toy, or firestarter!! When we bring one of these to the local pub, they make a nice trade for a few free beers.

Hey one word of warning…this is not a toy, this is a WEAPON OF WAR!!! So please keep this product away from children, incompetant adults, and any terrorists you may happen to know personally. Use the same care with this product that you would playing with matches or cleaning your ears with your car keys.

IN SUM, we invite you to Vent Anger, Relieve Stress, and Aid Victims…. ….and most of all, STICK IT TO HIM AMERICA!!!!

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George W. Hart is a sculptor who works with incredible geometric forms. “Classical forms are pushed in new directions, so viewers can take pleasure in their Platonic beauty yet recognize how they are updated for our complex high-tech times. I share with many artists the idea that a pure form is a worthy object, and select for each piece the materials that best carry that form.”

I like “ Gonads of the Rich and Famous“, a 3D printing. But what exactly is a 3D printing?

(Link from Forteana, via a discussion on edible trilobites. George has a recipe on his site ;)

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Good article at the Guardian, on what J. R. R. Tolkien would have made of the movie:

Why, he would have asked in despair, has his quintessentially English shire been turned into an outstation of Riverdance? “I do know Celtic things and feel for them a certain distaste. They are in fact ‘mad’,” he wrote in an untypically snotty letter in 1937. So why do the hobbits do Irish jigs at Bilbo Baggins’ birthday party?

Why are two of the hobbits in the fellowship, Merry and Pippin, cast as prat-falling Irish clowns? Why does Howard Shore’s music break into repeated Irish warbling? Because, as he would dolefully have guessed, James Cameron’s Titanic proved that dollops of Irishry play well with the US box office.

Well, I think I’ll be with JRR on that one then. begorrah.

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a mind-boggling tale of debauchery, supposedly regarding “Philip Murray, a glamorous wayward socialite son of the great classical scholar and Oxford don Gilbert Murray. In the final days of the Spanish Civil War, young Murray fils found himself in the beleaguered town of Valencia, then still under Republican rule. Murray had been on an extended binge and was reduced, in Delmer’s picturesque phrase, to a state of ‘phobic moodiness and mad romantic exaltation in which love, hunger for love, threw him into delusions and despair.”‘

Date: Wed, 12 Dec 2001 16:29:56 -0000
From: John Hurn (spam-protected)
To: (spam-protected)
Subject: re: ape sex

This looks like the one…

To: (spam-protected)
From: Rachel Carthy (spam-protected)
Subject: RE: AIDS, chimps, and Sasquatch

I’m sorry, I’ve been saving this up since the great orang-shagging debate of blessed memory because I didn’t want you all to think I was some kind of primate perv… but I can’t hold back any longer…:

“A more romantic example of bestiality is described by the celebrated war correspondent of the _Daily Express_, Sefton Delmer, in his vivid memoirs _Trail Sinister_. Here, Delmer recounts in a thinly disguised portrait the last amorous exploit of Philip Murray, a glamorous wayward socialite son of the great classical scholar and Oxford don Gilbert Murray. In the final days of the Spanish Civil War, young Murray _fils_ found himself in the beleaguered town of Valencia, then still under Republican rule. Murray had been on an extended binge and was reduced, in Delmer’s picturesque phrase, to a state of ‘phobic moodiness and mad romantic exaltation in which love, hunger for love, threw him into delusions and despair.’

“One evening, down in the squalid port area of Valencia, he met up at a street circus with a ferocious anarchist group calling themselves ‘The Iron Guard of Karl Marx’. During the show, Murray’s attention was drawn to a female chimpanzee – the circus’ top attraction – ‘a fine buxom she-ape with all the indications of her sex emphatically developed.’ [Why is it I hear this in the voice of the ‘very, very drunk’ raconteur from the Fast Show? R]

“Filled with misguided love, Murray tried to buy the creature, offering a huge rate on the black market. When the circus owner rejected his offer, the Iron Guard of KM intervened; they called the owner a miserable skulking capitalist – ‘You refuse to part with this ape who is obviously dying with passion for the British compagnero!’ – threatening to shoot him and burn down his circus if he did not agree.

“Delmer then recounts how Murray and the ape, arm in arm with the Iron Guard of KM, proceeded on an extended tour of the town’s bars and bodegas, during which the chimpanzee drank Fundador brandy glass for glass with her new admirer.

“Finally, when they reached the plush Victoria Hotel, – the grandest in town and the HQ of the foreign press corps – the night porter refused them entry with the pompous words ‘No apes allowed in the hotel.’ The leader of the Iron Guard of KM, brandishing a pistol, shouted ‘If you do not immediately permit the senora ape to enter the hotel with the Ingles, then we shall destroy the hotel and when we have finished there will be nothing left of the hotel or you.’

“Murray and his ape duly repaired to his room, where he was last seen turning on the bath-water, and heard saying, as he closed the door, ‘And now, my poppet, you shall have a lovely warm bath with plenty of lovely lavender soap. Do you like soap, oh Queen of my heart?’

“Nothing was seen or heard of them for another 48 hours. The hotel personnel did not enter the room, partly because Murray had locked the door, but also because they were afraid – not only of the ape but of her peculiar English friend.

“When a leading correspondent of the _Daily Mail_, William Forrest – who confirmed this story later to one of the authors – finally gained access to the room, he was greeted by a scene of unutterable chaos and squalor. The ape lay in a corner, huddled in a nest of pillows and blankets, coughing horribly. Philip Murray lay in another corner, flushed with a high temperature and obviously very ill.

“The British consul made arrangements for Murray, by this time almost delirious, to be evacuated to a British hospital ship, the Maine, lying off the coast at Alicante. But before this could take place, during his last moments of semi-lucidity, Murray – ever romantic – was able to despatch three cables to London – addressed to the three most eligible Society beauties, proposing marriage to each of them.

“Murray died in the ambulance before reaching Alicante. The next morning – Delmer records – three telegrams arrived for Murray at the Victoria Hotel. They were from the girls to whom he had proposed. Two accepted him.

“Delmer adds the foot note that a British doctor remarked afterwards that he had never seen a case of pneumonia like it, since this was a strain known only among apes, and he could not understand how a human had contracted it. Delmer and his colleagues kept faith with their dead companion and said nothing.”

(_The Dictionary of Disgusting Ideas_ Alan Williams & Maggie Noach, 1986)

Impeccable journalistic sources… ;)


… ..- -… .-.. .. — .. -. .- .-.. — . … … .- –. .

(spam-protected) London, British Isles

“How come if someone tells you there are 1 billion stars in the universe you believe them, but if they tell you a paint job’s still wet you have to touch it to make sure?”

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The Evil Gerald strikes again, with Mystery Arab warns commuter of possible attack:

We both got off the train at Shankill, and he took me aside in a mysterious fashion. Then he told me in a very hushed voice, “I probably shouldn’t be telling you this, but you’ve been so kind to me. I’ve had this briefcase for three years and I’ve never been able to open it. The sandwiches my wife made for me in 1998 have gone off, but that’s not the point. I’m going to give you a warning, but you must promise to not tell anyone unless you don’t want them to die, in which case it’s fine, I’ll understand that. Listen: Don’t eat so many fatty foods. You’ll clog up your arteries and run a greater risk of suffering a fatal heart attack later in life. It’s only common sense.”
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Forgotten History – Badshah Khan:

Pashtun warriors so impressed the British, including Indian born Rudyard Kipling, that in 1847 they created a separate Pashtun force, the Corps of Guides. But what is little known is that they also created one of the world’s great pacifist movements of the 20th century. Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan who was born in 1890 and died in 1988 led it. His life is heroic. He spent more than 25 years in British Indian and Pakistani jails.

Date: Tue, 11 Dec 2001 13:37:04 -0500
From: STEPHEN JONES (spam-protected)
To: (spam-protected) (spam-protected)
Subject: Forgotten History – Badshah Khan

Forgotten History – Tuesday, December 11, 2001
“Little known facts and overlooked history”

Badshah Khan

By Denis Mueller

Pashtun warriors so impressed the British, including Indian born Rudyard Kipling, that in 1847 they created a separate Pashtun force, the Corps of Guides. But what is little known is that they also created one of the world’s great pacifist movements of the 20th century. Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan who was born in 1890 and died in 1988 led it. His life is heroic. He spent more than 25 years in British Indian and Pakistani jails.

Khan practiced non-violence as a way of life. “There is no- thing surprising in a Muslim or a Pathan like me subscribing to the creed of non-violence.” He was an ally of Gandhi and once persuaded 100,000 of his countrymen to lay down their arms and vow to fight nonviolently. His profound belief in non-violence came from the depths of his experience and his belief that these principles lay at the heart of Islam.

Khan and Gandhi worked hand in hand using the tactic of non- violence to free their land from British oppression. Khan opened schools and brought women out of their homes to become a part of society. For over two decades Khan and his followers dominated the Northwest Frontier without resorting to violence as a means for independence.

He was a valued Muslim ally of Gandhi who sought a non-secular India. In 1947, political backfighting between Hindu’s and Muslim’s split India in half. Khan opposed this and asked his followers to boycott a referendum on their separation. Muslim politicians derided Khan and called him a lackey of the Hindus. This caused Khan to be arrested by Islamabad’s new masters.

When Khan called for local autonomy within Pakistan he was rejected. At this time Afghanistan warlords saw this as an opportunity to extend their influence. Khan was jailed and defeated. He was eventually released but banished from the area. But his non-violent message was lost and the whole world of Islam is poorer for it.

When he died in 1988 at the age of 98, the funeral procession stretched for miles and miles. It was called a “craven of peace, carrying the message of love.” This forgotten chapter of history suggests that Islam is more complex than its radical supporters and western detractors are willing to say.

Khan said, “the Holy Prophet Muhammad came into this world and taught us, ‘That man is a Muslim who never hurts anyone by word or deed, but who works for the benefit and happiness of God’s creatures.” Belief in God is to love one’s fellow men.” At the end of his life he left these words. “No true effort is in vain. Look at the fields over there. The grain sown therein has to remain in the earth for a certain time, then it sprouts, and in due time yields hundreds of its kind. The same is the case with every effort in a good cause.”

Sources: Karl E. Meyer, The Great Game and the Race for
Empire in Central Asia. (

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(Untitled) Is Your Son a Computer Hacker?:

Is your son obsessed with Lunix?

BSD, Lunix, Debian and Mandrake are all versions of an illegal hacker operation system, invented by a Soviet computer hacker named Linyos Torovoltos, before the Russians lost the Cold War. is pretty funny… but they really need to sort out some kind of comment voting system. They have some seriously humor-deficient readers.

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Live(ish)! New (unarguably)! Updated, er, whenever the laptop’s plugged in and online, and at most once an hour!! Presenting… jmcam!

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With a defiant cry of “right on motherfuckers”, pop superstar Madonna has presented one of the world’s most famous art prizes to conceptual artist Martin Creed for his controversial creation of a bare room with a light that switches on and off.

Riight. If there was ever any doubt, I reckon it’s now clear that the Turner Prize is all about getting column inches instead of actually awarding new, interesting art.

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brrr. The weather here in Melbourne is pretty much exactly what the weather in Ireland would be — ie. cold:

Sure this was the second day of summer, but instead of worrying about bush fires, I decided to get the home fires burning again.

After all, it was a shivery 14 degrees – the average maximum of a day in June, not December.

I know that Melbourne’s weather is meant to be changeable, but could we be kidding ourselves when we say that December is summer?

Last December, when the average maximum was an unusually warm 26.2 degrees, there were no fewer than eight 30-degree days, while January turned out to be one of the hottest months ever experienced in Melbourne with 14 occurrences of above 30 degrees.

You have to go back to 1879 to find a December when the thermometer waited until the middle of the month before cracking 30 degrees.

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Crime writer ‘solves’ Jack the Ripper mystery. Patricia Cornwell, a popular crime writer, reckons the impressionist painter Walter Richard Sickert did it — and (ludicrously) ripped up one of his paintings looking for clues.

Date: Fri, 07 Dec 2001 10:40:42 -0000
From: “rpjs2217” (spam-protected)
To: (spam-protected)
Subject: Crime writer ‘solves’ Jack the Ripper mystery


Crime writer ‘solves’ Jack the Ripper mystery

A US crime novelist is claiming she has solved the mystery of Jack the Ripper and named him as an artist who painted images of a murdered prostitute.

Patricia Cornwell spent almost £3 million on her hunt for the true identity of the Victorian serial killer.

She now says she believes the Ripper was really Walter Richard Sickert, an important Impressionist artist who painted the series of gruesome pictures 20 years later.

She told American TV’s Primetime: “I do believe 100% that Walter Richard Sickert committed those serial crimes, that he is the Whitechapel murderer.”

Cornwell, 45, spent part of the fortune her best-selling crime novels have earned her on her hunt, buying Sickert’s paintings, then using them in the hunt for clues.

She even flew a team of American forensic experts to London to examine the notorious Ripper letters for DNA, and bought 30 of the artist’s works, ripping one of them up completely in her hunt for clues.

Sickert, who was born in 1860, was an apprentice to Whistler and worked with Degas and is regarded as a key link between British art and the growth of Impressionism.

But Cornwell claims he led a secret double life as a serial killer – and the five prostitutes named as Jack the Ripper’s victims were not the only women he killed.

They were horribly mutilated and all but Kelly were murdered on the street but their killer – who taunted police in letters signed “Jack the Ripper” – was never found, prompting one of history’s greatest murder mysteries.

Cornwell said she had been led to Sickert by a series of clues and her knowledge of forensic science and the mind of serial killers. Sickert was 28 when the killings started, an age Cornwell said was typical for serial killers to start their sprees between the age of 25 and 30.

Story filed: 10:08 Friday 7th December 2001

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Pentagon: US military forces have in their control a … US citizen:

All along, Americans have known there were Taliban sympathisers and supporters in their midst: the FBI has been focusing on little else for the past three months. However, it expected they would be of Arab descent, part of the huge wave of immigration from Lebanon, Yemen and Palestine of the past 20 years, living in one of the big, ambivalent Islamic communities, perhaps round Detroit or New York.

No one bargained on a 20-year-old white kid with a Swedish name, Irish descent, a strict Catholic father and a Buddhist mother.

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Farting Shatner’s PR genius:

A rumour of William Shatner farting during an interview pushed sales of a Star Trek video beyond the final frontier. Mark Borkowski applauds stroke of PR genius …

The source of the story was the video company’s publicist, who applied a nifty bit of creativity to one of the most intractable problems in entertainment PR. … Getting coverage for a video release is well nigh impossible because the stars have already done the circuit and everything’s already been said.

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Slightly stale bits, but funny nonetheless:

Sevilla midfielder Francisco Gallardo has been charged by the Spanish soccer federation for an unusual goal celebration. Gallardo bit teammate Jose Antonio Reyes’ penis after he had scored in the 4-0 win over Valladolid. Reyes was besieged by ecstatic teammates after scoring and Gallardo was seen to bend down and nibble at the goalscorer’s genitalia.

He could face a fine or suspension for his actions, which may deemed to be an infringement of what is described in the federation’s rulebook as “sporting dignity and decorum”. “I felt a bit of a pinch but I didn’t realise what Gallardo had done until I saw the video. “The worst thing about it is the teasing I’m going to get from my teammates,” Reyes said.’

via Reuters.

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GNOME Vim: embedded Vim, for use in Evolution. Sweet.

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Club patron sues ‘reckless’ stripper:

Bonnett was in the New Westminster club on Nov. 29, 2000 when a female dancer swung around a pole and kicked him, fracturing his nose, according to the lawsuit filed on Tuesday in British Columbia Supreme Court.

Date: Fri, 30 Nov 2001 12:23:14 -0000
From: (spam-protected)
To: (spam-protected)
Subject: Over enthusiastic stripper causes head injury

Club Patron Sues ‘Reckless’ Stripper


VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Nov. 29) – A Canadian man has sued a Vancouver-area strip club, claiming he was injured by a “reckless” exotic dancer who kicked him in the head.

Greg Bonnett is seeking unspecified damages from the Barnet Motor Inn, claiming it was negligent in not posting prominent signs warning the public of the risk of sitting too close to the stage.

Bonnett was in the New Westminster club on Nov. 29, 2000 when a female dancer swung around a pole and kicked him, fracturing his nose, according to the lawsuit filed on Tuesday in British Columbia Supreme Court.

The Coquitlam man’s lawsuit also seeks damages from the dancer, identified only as “Jane Doe,” for allegedly “dancing in a negligent and reckless manner.”

Reuters 10:51 11-29-01

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Another classic piece of Pravda translation. “ENDEAVOUR TO DELIVER 6,000 US FLAGS TO THE SPACE“, it seems, which will be handed over to “people who took part in de-mounting of hips on the spot of the tragedy.” Did that really just say “de-mounting of hips”?

Seriously though, I love Pravda’s english articles; it’s not just the iffy translation; sometimes you get some beautiful Russian turns of phrase thrown in — then mangled through the translation. ;)

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Wow. A truly neat, cross-platform, text entry widget in HTML that updates as you edit. Check it out (quick though — it’s a FilePile URL).

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From: Bin Laden, Osama

Sent: Monday, October 22, 2001 8:17 AM

To: Cavemates

Subject: The Cave

The CIA has just released this memo intercepted from Osama bin Laden:

MEMORANDUM From: Bin Laden, Osama
Sent: Monday, October 22, 2001 8:17 AM
To: Cavemates
Subject: The Cave

Hi guys. We’ve all been putting in long hours but we’ve really come together as a group and I love that. Big thanks to Omar for putting up the poster that says “There is no ‘I’ in team” as well as the one that says “Hang In There, Baby.” That cat is hilarious.

However, while we are fighting a jihad, we can’t forget to take care of the cave. And frankly I have a few concerns.

First of all, while it’s good to be concerned about cruise missiles, we should be even more concerned about the scorpions in our cave. Hey, you don’t want to be stung and neither do I, so we need to sweep the cave daily. I’ve posted a sign-up sheet near the main cave opening.

Second, it’s not often I make a video address but when I do, I’m trying to scare the most powerful country on earth, okay? That means that while we’re taping, please do not ride your razor scooter in the background. Just while we’re taping. Thanks.

Third point, and this is a touchy one. As you know, by edict, we’re not supposed to shave our beards. But I need everyone to just think hygiene, especially after mealtime. We’re all in this together.

Fourth: food. I bought a box of Cheez-Its recently, clearly wrote
“Osama” on the front, and put it on the top shelf. Today, my Cheez-Its were gone. Consideration. That’s all I’m saying.

Finally, we’ve heard that there may be American soldiers in disguise trying to infiltrate our ranks. I want to set up patrols to look for them. First patrol will be Omar, Muhammed, Abdul, Akbar, and Richard.

Love you lots. Osama

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A salutary tale of getting ripped off writing games. Nightmare.

None of which has happened. Why? Because: For half a year now Bethesda has been delaying the 150000USD, which they ARE TO pay according to the contract, and moreover, it even refuse to give us the reason why. We have not been paid even for the beta.

But still, from some source we know that by now Bethesda has sold about 50000 boxes of Echelon in North America, which means that Bethesda has already made over a million on the game.

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(Untitled) — a flash applet which provides a good collection of nature-imitating mathematical eye candy. Number 16 is beautiful.

I used to write graphics demos on the C-64, which used a lot of this kind of stuff (although a hell of a lot simpler for obvious reasons). It occurs to me that Flash makes writing demos a lot easier; it provides a decent language (scripting as opposed to 6502 assembly), it gives you a good set of drawing tools (anti-aliasing, alpha blending, and 24-bit colour), the hardware no longer limits what you can do in 2-D graphics, and you can even buy software which takes care of the text effects like zooms, scrolling, bouncing etc. In other words, all the cool tricks are done for you ;)

I wonder what demo writers are doing nowadays, as a result? One side seems to be what these guys have done — actually go for really interesting, good-looking effects, rather than just the “how did they do that” factor. I would imagine the other side of the demo “bleeding edge” is doing a hell of a lot of 3-D stuff. (By hand. In assembler. ;)

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A great idea for a blog — “who would buy that?” — featuring auction oddities from all over the web. There’s some absolutely horrific tat to be found out there…

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When Leonids attack!

Just as Laura walked toward the house to get her husband, Tom, a chunk of rock fell from the sky, slamming down to her left near where she had been standing just moments before.

via the forteana list.

Date: Wed, 21 Nov 2001 10:24:43 -0000
From: Scott Wood (spam-protected)
To: Forteana (spam-protected) Fort Research List (spam-protected)
Subject: When Leonid’s Attack!

A memento from the sky

Family nearly hit by possible meteorite from Leonid display

BY LU ANN FRANKLIN Times Correspondent

Posted Tuesday, November 20, 2001

HIGHLAND — When Laura Yuran and her 11-year-old son, Jonathon, awoke at 4 a.m. Sunday to watch the Leonid meteor shower outside the family’s home in Highland, they never expected to be a target for space debris.

About a half hour into their sky gazing mother and son began hearing something that sounded like hail falling. A short time later, those hail-like objects started pelting the pair. Just as Laura walked toward the house to get her husband, Tom, a chunk of rock fell from the sky, slamming down to her left near where she had been standing just moments before.

“It went, ‘Boom!’ and I screamed,” Laura recalled. “Part of it hit the driveway and the second part was embedded in the ground. I was afraid to touch it.”

Laura’s scream brought Tom outside. Locating the rocks with a flashlight, he picked them up, finding them cold to the touch. He had to pull the smaller stone out of the lawn.

“It’s beautiful,” Laura said of the family’s newest treasure.

Jim Seevers, an astronomer from Chicago’s Adler Planetarium, said the rocks are most likely meterorites from the Leonid meteor shower. The rust color is “the fusion crust,” he said, which is typical of a meteorite that has been seared by the earth’s atmosphere.

“The rock probably chipped off and the shiny, silver they see is the inside,” Seevers said. “It’s most likely iron and nickel.”

Although Tom Yuran was concerned that the rocks might be radioactive, Seever said they are basically rocks mixed with metal, such as bits of iron. The rarest of all meteorites are composed of carbon, another common element in the universe, and “look like a hunk of charcoal,” Seevers said.

The astronomer said meterorites are slowed down by the earth’s atmosphere much like a parachute slows down a skydiver. At 60 miles up in the atmosphere, the rock then begins a fall to earth. Its size and the speed it is traveling will determine how hard it hits and if it will become embedded in the Earth.

“If it had hit me, I could have been killed,” Laura Yuran said. “We hid under the awning on our porch because we were afraid of more rocks falling down.”

Seevers recommended that the Yurans allow the geology staff at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History to analyze the rock.

“We don’t have a lab here at the Adler Planetarium,” he said. “The staff at the museum’s meteorite lab will be able to tell them the rock’s composition.”

On Monday afternoon, the Yurans contacted Dr. Menache Wadhwa, the curator of the Field Museum’s meteorite collection, for an opinion.

“She wants us to bring her a small piece of it on Wednesday morning. She said we’re the only ones anywhere who have reported falling meteorites from the Leonid meteor shower,” Tom said.

In fact, after talking with Wadhwa, Jonathon began searching for more pieces of the meteorite. He quickly located two more small rocks that weigh about one ounce each.

Laura said until the rocks are analyzed, she’s trying to play hostess to the excited neighborhood children whom Jonathon has invited over to see the space debris. Eventually she hopes to put the objects in a display case and give it to her son who collects rocks.

The next time the Yuran family could gather to view the Leonid meteor shower is in 2034. That’s when the comet Temple-Tuttle, which causes the Leonid display, will pass by Earth again.

“We really enjoyed watching it, with the blue lights and long tails,” Laura said. “If it wasn’t for Jonathon setting his alarm and waking us up, we wouldn’t have seen it.”

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Nancy Banks-Smith on an ill-conceived method of reviewing, during her career as the Guardian’s TV critic:

Later, we all went to the BBC’s TV centre or various ITV offices, running after each other across town like a row of ducks. Then, programmes were shown in central viewing theatres such as at Bafta. This had the disadvantage that the actors were apt to show up, too, applauding their own performance. It was not a relaxed mix. It was at Bafta that Barbara Woodhouse snapped “Put that out at once!” with such dominance that the critic beside me swallowed her cigarette and had to be extinguished with water.
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The winner of the Second Annual SatireWire Spam Slam, courtesy of Kelley on FoRK:


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