Friday, May 07, 2010

The best, most brilliant thing EVER

This came, along with a bunch of other less enticing offers, in the mail the other day. I have no idea where to even start with it. Click on it to get a bigger image. It's brilliant beyond words. I desperately want to know 1) Who are the people who buy these? and 2) Who are the people who make and sell them? I want to know SO I CAN OFFER MY ETERNAL THANKS. It may have been designed by a bikie Homer Simpson...though Homer would probably have been a little more understated.

Highlights? Every damn pixel is a highlight, but if I had to pick a top 5 (in no particular order -- you can't rank perfection):
  1. Hanging "pipes" (What are these "pipes", really?).
  2. Sculptural (??) motorcycle announces each hour!
  3. $249.95 price tag (plus $14.99 postage & handling).
  4. The fine print (left of the "Ride Hard, Live Free" pendulum): as all my readers would know, all the greatest works of art require 2 "D" and one "AA" battery (not included), and have sound effects which may be turned off. Da Vinci. Picasso. Monet. Dali. Take your pick -- none of their works operate without batteries.
  5. The insistence that "Strong demand is expected...". Well, duh! Does the Pope shit in the woods?
The one thing I find just a tiny bit disappointing is that it's a little too minimalist. With a cunning design strategy, the artists could, I'm sure, have squeezed in a few more elements and symbols. Sure, an "artist's resin eagle", a sculptural motorcycle that announces each hour, a speedometer-design clockface, American eagle / Stars and Stripes / Chopper artwork, a "Ride Hard, Live Free" chrome-finish pendulum, hanging "pipes", and battery-powered excitement is quite a lot. But, somewhere deep down, I feel there could have been more.

Time of freedom
. With this on your wall, you are, indeed, truly free.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Truth in advertising

SW had a very nice time in the Philippines thank you very much. He feels now like he inhabits two very different world: Oz-world and Phil-world. In each, he has different lifestyles, different friends, different diets...quite possibly different personalities, but it's hard for him to tell. He likes this two-world dichotomy, and he also likes it when they cross over -- when friends from one visit the other.

Here's a photo of a banner ad (a real one, not a web one, banners used to be 3-dimensional) in Manila. I commend Dan Eric for truth in advertising, and for evidently paying his model handsomely in kind.

I'd also like to know what "reefer" means in the following context:

Presumably something different to the reefers popular in the highbrow movies made by Cheech & Chong. In case you can't read the sign, it says:
For sale and lease
20/40 ft reefers

All reefers must go! It's reefer madness!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The great bruschetta-off

The food here is everything I'd hoped. If, in my bumbling-foreigner way, I'm choosing the poorer ristorante, trattoria and pizzeria, I can scarcely imagine what the good ones dish out.

Last night, I had good ol' tomato-and-basil bruschetta before a bloody divine spinach-and-ricotta ravioli in a sauce of sweet cherry tomatoes, zucchini and (I think) eggplant. The buschetta tasted rather similar to the one I make at home, which pleased and disappointed me simultaneously. Presumably this means I make a passable tomato-and-basil bruschetta. But, while I'm here, I want some kind of culinary transcendance, not confirmation.

Speaking of transcendance, I leave you with a piece of art I bought from some back-street Caravaggio near the Spanish Steps. Simply glorious. God onlyknows how somebody else didn't snap it up before I had the chance. It'll look divine on the bedroom wall back in Oz.

I call it "TomKat".

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Someone ELSE is making a comeback too

Yes, you heard it here first. Mark Latham is making a political comeback. You doubt? Here's the proof:

In the European Union elections, no less. He's changed his name to the picaresque "Roberto Gualtieri", but he can't fool me.


And you thought I'd lost it...




(This, by the way, is the lovely little pad that's mine for 2 weeks in Rome.)



Friday, June 06, 2008

Charmingly life English DVD #5

North American Chain-22 Action Movies!
(I LOVE North American Chain-22 Action Movies!)


Friday, May 23, 2008

Charmingly life English DVD #4

Earthquake Magma Volcanic Disaster!
(Just in case you weren't sure what the theme was.)


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Charmingly life English DVD #3

Man of painful heaven!


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

NOT secret wombat...

Arthur Cradock is either Satan personified or my own personal hero. I'm not sure which.

NZealand court sentences man after wombat rape claim

Thu Mar 27, 10:19 PM ET

WELLINGTON (AFP) - A New Zealand man has been sentenced to community service after telling police he had been raped by a wombat and the experience had caused him to start speaking "Australian".

Arthur Cradock, a 48-year-old orchard worker from Motueka on South Island, rang police on February 11 to say he was being raped by the slow moving Australian marsupial at his home, The Nelson Mail reported.

He rang back soon afterwards to say he was withdrawing his complaint against the wombat, a court was told Wednesday.

"Apart from speaking Australian now, I'm pretty all right you know," he told police in the second call.

Cradock pleaded guilty to using a phone for a fictitious purpose and was sentenced to 75 hours community work.

Prosecutors said alcohol played a large part in Cradock's life, although his defence lawyer said he was not drunk on the afternoon of the phone calls.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Charmingly life English DVD #2

Make track for the shot mutation ages!


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The pirated DVD guide to English

Lucky YOU! SW, with the help of the lovely D, is bringing you a NEW SERIES. On this very blog, over the next few weeks, we present to you covers of pirated DVDs* seen around the Philippines. Use them to improve your English!

*SW in no way endorses or purchases pirated DVDs!

Charmingly life English DVD #1

Denseness Love Classic Series 12 in 1!


Thursday, March 06, 2008

Take two and call me in the morning

I found this article by Barbara Rowlands in the The Independent utterly fascinating. The story reports on a study of the placebo effect, which turns out to be much more powerful than previously thought.
Last week an analysis of clinical trial data on modern antidepressants, carried out by Irving Kirsch, professor of psychology at the University of Hull, and his team, found that leading brands of antidepressants worked little better than placebos in all but the most depressed patients. Much of the reporting of the story concluded that antidepressants may be useless. But, interestingly, the study found that patients' response to placebos was "exceptionally large". So it wasn't so much that antidepressants didn't work but that placebos can work very well indeed.

The article mentions a 5-year-old study that
...found that not being told they were receiving morphine cut the effect of the pain relief on the patients in half. And only those who were told they were getting tranquillisers became calmer; those who received diazepam without being told got no relief whatsoever.

It also discusses the surgical (as opposed to pharmaceutical) placebo effect:
In 1959, an American cardiologist called Leonard Cobb conducted a trial on 17 patients who were due to undergo a common procedure used for angina, in which tiny incisions were made in the chest and knots tied in two arteries to try to increase the blood flow to the heart. When Cobb compared it to placebo surgery – he made incisions but did not tie the arteries – the sham operations proved just as successful.
The point made in the end, via a quote from "Dr Richard Kradin, a psychologist and physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, and associate professor at Harvard Medical School," is that
"As medical science became more scientific, there was a way in which it tended to eschew any contribution by the placebo effect – and that's a mistake. Doctors need to be aware that how they interact with their patients has a great deal to do with the outcomes they are going to get."

To me, this goes a long way to explaining why things like homeopathic "remedies" (which are mentioned in the article and, yes, the quote marks are supposed to indicate my skepticism) can garner such a following. The placebo effect is just as good, if not better, than real medicine in some cases. It also depends on what you believe. The story quotes Michael Hyland, professor of health psychology at the University of Plymouth: "If you are non-spiritual, you'd be much better off taking Prozac, which is not only largely placebo but is contextualised as a medical drug."

See Ben Goldacre's Bad Science blog for lots of stuff on homeopathy. I just went to that site to get the URL and was gratified to see he's mentioned the study, too, in a nicely titled post: All bow before the might of the placebo effect, it is the coolest strangest thing in medicine.

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008


Saw a sign on a jeepney the other day that said

Conserve Native Philippine Vertebrate Fauna!

I liked this and I wholeheartedly agree with the implications. Invertebrate fauna? Pfff! Flora? Bah! Vertebrate fauna? NOW you're talkin'.

And why say ... oh, I don't know ... "Conserve Native Animals"? Though that would mean all the arthropods and stuff. That would make a pretty cool slogan, actually: "Conserve Native Philippine Arthropods!" Then I'd take it seriously.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

happy humbug

I'm an atheist, but I have no problem wishing people "Merry Christmas". I enjoy Christmas. This is largely because I get on well with my family and the gathering, eating, drinking and merriment are fun. I'm happy to enjoy the cultural aspects without ascribing religion to the occasion. Maybe this is hypocritical -- I have no idea.

I have to say, though, that the American "Happy Holidays" grates on me. Some political correctness has its merits and should not be tarred with the condesencion that the term "politically correct" has come to imply. Some political correctness seems patrician and worse than the "crime" it's trying to counter.

This was reinforced as I boarded the plane to fly back to the Philippines from Bangladesh last December. The airline staff -- who were almost certainly Muslim -- wished me a Merry Christmas. I know Christ was a prophet of Islam, but as far as I know, "Merry Christmas" isn't a typical Muslim greeting (though I may be wrong). If members of a devoutly Islamic country are OK with "Merry Christmas", surely the majority of Americans can handle it?

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

coffee and mountains

SW is BACK. So relaaaaaaaaax.

First, marketing. I understand the need to market a product. But I'm not the only person to feel that companies sometimes go a teensy-weensy bit over the top. Below is the text from the side of a bag of Figaro Classico coffee beans. Figaro is a Philippine coffee chain -- a la Starbucks etc, but in my opinion preferable if chains are the only available option (often the case in the Philippines). The main reason I think it's preferable is 1) it doesn't seem as evil as Starbucks (I realise that I haven't qualified that, but see here for PROOF that Starbucks is indeed evil); 2) While I'm living here, all things being equal, I 'd rather support a Philippine business over a US/multinational; and 3) I like the coffee better.

Anyway, here's the text:
An aromatic brew with a wisp of calm authority, this blend of the finest Philippine-grown coffee, hand-picked from the lush tropical mountains, was created by the country's top coffee connoisseurs. Conceived to exude quintessential civility, Figaro Classico was specially designed to provide coffee lovers with a brew so full-bodied that it wraps one's senses in a cloak of power, yet so smooth that one can happily enjoy cup after cup after cup.

Brave yet genteel,
Commanding yet so smooth...
welcome to the pleasure of
Figaro Classico

I don't know, but I tend to think if it was really all that, it would sell for more than $5 for 200 grams. And be illegal. And underscore a multi-trillion-dollar global drug industry. Shit, I REALLY like coffee. I need my coffee in the morning. I think coffee's important. But I'm yet to find a coffee that both exudes quintessential civility AND wraps my senses in a cloak of power.

Enough of that -- it's PHOTO TIME!!!*

SW and D, along with MG and KP, spent the Christmas/New Year break in the Philippine Cordillera -- a mountainous region in the north of Luzon, which is the big northern island that's also home to Manila and Los Baños, where D and I work. Here are a few shots; I'll post about the trip soon.

*Big thanks to MG for sorting a camera for me after I generously donated my previous one, plus my mobile phone, to a Manila taxi driver on the night of my birthday last November.

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

improving your bottom line

Nothing beats small businesses with smutty names. Nothing. Whether it’s intentional or not, I’m significantly more likely to patronize your operation if its title is dripping in innuendo.

Here are a couple of excellent examples from Manila:



I love that the guy seems to have caught me in my attempt to surreptitiously document his excellent work. Or maybe he reckons I'm a potential customer and is giving me a sly come-hither look.