Thursday, April 30, 2009

Snollygoster

Always on the lookout for unusual words I found this one with a high hit rate on google trends today and as with some other things I have come across I can find no real reason why a search for this word takes off on one particular day. Certainly in searching it myself there is no hit on Google news so it doesn’t seem to have been triggered by a news item.

Still this is a useful word and the meaning is worth checking out.   Here are some of the definitions – From Urban Dictionary
  • A 19th century coinage, meaning a crooked and flamboyant politician. Later, in Maryland folklore, a monster half bird and half snake, that was used to frighten ex-slaves out of voting.
  • A "carpetbagger". Somebody who will go to any lengths to achieve public office, regardless of party affiliation or platform.
Michael Quinion on World Wide Words writes -
  •  "A shrewd, unprincipled person, especially a politician."
I guess we all know politicians like that and some may even say that politician is a subset of snollygoster which I don't personally subscribe to.   Well, maybe sometimes I do because there is always a fair bit of snollygosting going on amongst our erstwhile leaders.

Look at our Premier here in Victoria, John Brumby,  who claims, despite a great deal of evidence to the contrary, that we are not in recession.  Shrewd, certainly, unprincipled arguably, snollygoster?  Well I guess that will depend what side of the political fence you sit on and in the current climate whether you have a job or not.

I know that politicians change their minds - I live in the eastern suburbs and I remember the pre-election promise that eastlink would not be a toll road, only to find a few short weeks after they were re-elected that the situation had changed.  But how often is bad policy blamed on external influences and how often is political expediency used to mask the truth from the public?

Remember in the state budget last year that we were told we could expect four years of continued growth and that unemployment would remain at around 4-5% with a budget surplus approaching $800m/annum.   Now we find that growth is flat, if not negative, that unemployment will climb to more than 7% and the surplus is gone, not only for this year but probably for the forseeable future too.  I am an economic moron so I have no idea who to blame for this, but I guarantee you that politicians around the world will not only continue to blame the "worldwide economic crisis" but swine flu as well.

Watch the snollygostering continue.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Changing my Name

I am thinking of changing my name to Authorised Persons.    I feel so many more doors will open for me.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A belated Happy Earthday

I came across this one at Discover magazine and thought that it was well worth re-posting in celebration of Earth Day even if I am a day late.


Visit Timescapes for more.

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I will be scarce for the next few days.  Tomorrow morning we are flying to the Northern territory for a 4 day holiday courtesy of my ladies boss as a thank you for some long hours she's put in recently.   Of course my camera will be coming as will a new digital video camera I've purchased and whilst I don't expect anything the quality of timescapes I'm going to have some fun trying.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Is the truth out there? Edgar Mitchell once a man on the moon.

I grew up in a time of wonder and was fortunate to have been encouraged by my parents to be an avid reader.  Circumstances and some childhood events meant that I did spend a lot of time alone in my bedroom immersed in comics and the tales of Superman and the Green Lantern.  But I also became an avid science fiction fan and devoured Asimov, Heinlein, Bradbury, Pohl and Clements, indeed I haunted the shelves of the local library looking for the bright yellow spines which like a beacon showed me wondrous tales from the publisher Gollancz.

On the wall so me bedroom were drawings I ad done of superheroes and in pride of place on one wall was a map of the solar system showing the then 9 planets and their comparative sizes.   There was no doubt in that young boys mind that aliens did exist and that one day he may be riding a rocket to Mars and encountering strange people in strange faraway lands.

And now as a person on the older side of 50, who has been jaded and cynical I find that my belief in life elsewhere in the universe still hasn't changed even if we didn't reach the goal of my childhood of living on another planet by the time I was thirty.  And that is why I place some credence in what some people say about the possibility of life other than on Earth.

In the news today is former astronaut Edgar Mitchell who is one of only 12 men to walk on the Moon.  A respected and knowledgeable man he claimed yesterday in a National Press Club appearance in the US that man is not alone.    Mitchell grew up in Roswell, the site of conspiracy theorists shangri la, where an alien aircraft allegedly crashed in the 1940's leading to an ongoing cover up in the US.   This has been a favourite subject of science fiction shows for decades, notably the X files and Roswell, and has been consistently denied by US Government Officials.

Mitchell states that people from Roswell began to come to him and told him their version of the events from that night decades ago and that as a result he was given an interview with a Rear Admiral at the Pentagon.  But enough of me prattling listen to him yourself and tell me whether you think he is credible or not.  Here he is in an interview on the Larry King show on CNN.

Mitchell has been talking about this for some time and in 2008 went on a UK program Kerrang Radio.


There has been several follow ups on the US radio program Coast to Coast.



I won't overburden all of you with the rest of this story but if you wish to hear it all the links on youtube are here - Part 2,   Part 3.

For all those who believe the Roswell Coverup, there are an equal number who scoff at it.   I believe that some people are more credible than others and Mitchell hasn't claimed to have seen them himself, he simply claims to have been told about certain things by people he knew and trusted.  That is not proof but it is a tale worth listening to because he seems to me to be a credible person.

Let's also remember that the UK Department of Defense has recently released it's own UFO files and we can say that there have been a number of occurrences that are not explainable.

So is there any concrete proof?  No.  But it is not a big stretch for me to believe that somewhere in the vastness of the universe there are other people gazing out at the stars and pondering the same questions we are.  It is not a stretch for me to believe that over the at least 4 billion year life of the universe that somewhere life has evolved technology beyond what we currently have.  So am I a believer?  Of course, what about you?

Monday, April 20, 2009

People who wear baseball caps backwards shouldn't open their mouths

Went out for my usual lunch time walk today and as I was stopped at a red light a small black convertible driven by an attractive young lady pulled up at the intersection waiting for pedestrians to clear the road so she could proceed with a left hand turn.   A young bloke in the passenger seat decided that even though the pedestrians were crossing on a green light they should be moving more quickly so he decided to abuse a couple of them.  This turkey sitting there in a singlet, sunglasses on and wearing his baseball cap backwards proved that if you don't know how to wear a hat properly you shouldn't open your mouth or you'll just confirm to everyone that you truly are a tool.  It could have been worse i guess, he could have been wearing it sideways.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Letting go of the Anger and Other Things

I'll start with an updat on last weeks update - I spoke to the mother of the girl allegedly dating a drug dealer and she is making some discreet enquiries.  She was grateful for the heads up and I guess time will tell whether the story is right or not.

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I've been asked to run for another committee and I'm weighing it up.  I have to find the passion for the sport again.   I find that I have lost a lot of respect for people involved and although I think I can do a better job than some of them I worry about the impact on available time.  I am enjoying having weekends off and spending time in the garden.   That will likely change if I take this position on and I am not prepared to do it unless I am 100% committed.  Maybe I still need some more time away from it.   Maybe I will never fully embrace it again.

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My contract is up in about 8 weeks so I am going to ask the boss tomorrow what his intentions are.  I look back twelve months and realise how much I have learned in this role but recognise that there is still a lot more to be done.   I remember the first couple of months when I was floundering not knowing anything at all about ISO 9001 or 27001, being a novice in Business Continuity Planning and Risk Management, but as the months wore on and my background knowledge increased and I was able to call on my former experience both in the police force and as CEO of one of the largest not-for-profit sporting groups in the country, I started to realise that I could make a difference and I like to think I have.   I guess I'll find out soon if my boss concurs.

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I do keep dwelling on anger and an incident yesterday made me think a bit more about the impact of a marriage breakup on the kids and the log term impact on them.  I won't go into detail of the actual comments made to me here because that'll just get me into more trouble but I thought I'd make a few general comments.

I know better than some how comments made to children can have a profound impact on their lives, as can the actions of others.   Often there is no malice in the comments and no actual forethought about the long term impact of those actions.  I started to think about what impact it may have on kids to find that their parents no longer love each other and I have come to this conclusion.   Younger kids, if they are lucky, get the unconditional love of their parents, and that love is something totally different to that of the love between a husband and a wife.  Maybe to those who haven't gone through a marriage break up this is not something that is true.  But I think for those of us who have it ought to be self evident.

I think that kids can feel threatened by that.  For them the love of a mother and father is the same as that of the love for their brothers and sisters and it is unconditional, just like that of a parent for a child.  But when a marriage goes wrong, particularly when they don't see what was wrong, then it is something that is very hard to understand.  Perhaps in those cases, the worry is that if one parent falls out of love with the other, it is not a big stretch to think that they may also fall out of love with their children.  They don't understand, maybe they can't understand, that the love is different.

It seems to me that the parent who has the bulk of the custodianship of the child has a great responsibility to ensure that the child is protected from the detail of the breakup.  There are some things that children don't need to know and both parents should do their absolute best to ensure that kids know that they are loved by both parents equally.  If they hear criticism of one, then the fears of losing that love creep in and the kids can hang onto anger about the breakup far longer than they should.   Maybe they can never really understand it until they get older.   It is difficult for the parent who is seen as the instigator of the breakup to defend themselves in those circumstances without bagging the other parent.  And as tempting as that is at times it is far better to keep quiet about things even when it means they still cop the bulk of the flak from the kids.

Sometimes the whole truth and nothing but the truth ca do way more harm than good.  Why be vindicative enough to drag the other parent off the pedestal.   There may be a future time and place for everything to be told, or maybe not.

I know that I have often referred to Don Miguel Ruiz and his book "The Four Agreements"because it had such a profound impact on me.   Back in the early days of this blog I wrote a piece about The First Agreement - Be Impeccable with your Word and I think it applies here.  It's an orphan piece that drew no comments at the time so I would be interested in any comments on that now if anyone has the time to read it.

I know that there are a lot of readers of this blog who have gone through marriage breakups.  Tell me how your kids coped with it and how you may have tired to protect them from the detail.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Remember when Mum said if you ate an apple core...

...that you would end up with an apple tree growing in your stomach.  Or that if you didn't clean your ears or toenails that potatoes would start to grow.  So I grew up terrified that I would turn into a triffid or an ent, or worse that stalks of celery would start to burst forth from my nostrils.  I could only quake in fear at the thought of blackberry bushes growing from other orifices and the damage that the thorns may do to various bodily parts.  And as a result I was very careful never to digest anything that looked like a seed and in fact grew up with a mortal fear of nuts.   Or maybe you don't remember any of this and my Mum was the only one who managed to induce these fears.

Well I hate to tell you folks but it seems like it was all true.  There is a report that has come out of Russia which states that surgeons who operated on a 28 year old man to remove what they thought was a cancerous growth found a 5 centimeter fir tree growing in his lung.   They believe he somehow inhaled a seed which germinated and grew inside his lung.   It got me thinking that if a single seed can do that then imagine what a few thousand spores could do and I have promised myself never to sniff mushrooms.

So here's a couple of questions.   What words of cullinary wisdom did your Mum give you?  And check out Discover magazine who are asking whether you believe this is true or not.   Let us know your answer here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The week that was

I've been quiet because my internet access at home has been intermittent at best so sorry I haven't had the chance to do a lot of reading, commenting or visiting any of my favourites for a while.   And I'm off to another meeting tonight so the first real chance to catch up may well be Thursday.

For all that a fair bit has happened.  I went to the AGM of my ex-employer last week having told them that the nominations to the Board were unconstitutional they eventually did the right thing and called for nominations from the floor.  I had been asked to run, but the reality is that things are still raw and I couldn't be sure that I was just running out of revenge or passion, so I declined.  Maybe next year, with a ticket that will enable me to work with a Board I can trust unlike the current one.

Interestingly the person who I thought had instigated my sacking and who has since also left after finding himself on the outer, decided he wanted to talk to me and told me that it was another Board member who was the driving force behind my removal and in fact his own, as well as two other long serving staff members since I left.  His advice to me was not to trust that person.   Easily done, because I don't trust any of them.

Daughter 2 was back from her school trip and spent the weekend with us.  She and I went to the footy on Saturday night and disappointingly watched our team lose.  Unfortunately son number 2 decided not to come and I had been looking forward to catching up with him.

I have a bit of a moral dilemma - I have been told that the boyfriend of someone I know is dealing drugs and it doesn't seem to be a secret.  If it was the boyfriend of one of my daughters then I would hope that a friend who found out would tell me - so I feel I must tell this persons mother.   She may already know, but I can't imagine her being happy about it if it was true and of course if it's not true then in discussing it with her I hope I can then go back and clear up some misconceptions with the people who told me.

Advice gratefully accepted.

And I hope I'm back more regularly in the next few days.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Circumcision

Firstly I apologise if this one has too much information.   A friend sent me an email today containing the following -

For all of you in education, with sons, grandsons, or who just love the things little kids say ~ a reminder that adult words are often taken literally.....

A teacher noticed that a little boy at the back of the class was squirming around, scratching his crotch, and not paying attention.  She went back to find out what was going on. He was quite embarrassed and whispered that he had just recently been circumcised and he was quite itchy.

The teacher told him to go down to the principal's office where he was told to telephone his mother and ask her what he should do about it.  He did and returned to his class. Suddenly, there was a commotion at the back of the room. So the teacher went back to investigate only to find him sitting at his desk with his 'private part' hanging out.

'I thought I told you to call your mum!' she said.

'I did,' he said, 'And she told me that if I could stick it out until lunchtime, she'd come and pick me up from school.'

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In the light of that I will admit here and now that I have in fact been circumcised but my ex-wife and I decided that we would not get either of our sons done, unless there was some good medical reason to do it as they got older.  Now, both well into their twenties that seems unlikely.

A poll on About.com showed what I thought was a surprising result, because I am sure if the same question was asked in Australia that the "no" proportion would be much higher.

 About Poll

Did you circumcise your baby boy?

yes  (10765)

40%


no  (15980)

59%


Total Votes: 26745
This ezine article though states that a poll conducted said that 80% of parents thought their sons should be circumcised.

One thing to keep in mind is an article in the British Journal of Urology which reported -

Circumcision Removes the Most Sensitive Parts of the Penis

A sensitivity study of the adult penis in circumcised and uncircumcised men shows that the uncircumcised penis is significantly more sensitive. The most sensitive location on the circumcised penis is the circumcision scar on the ventral surface. Five locations on the uncircumcised penis that are routinely removed at circumcision are significantly more sensitive than the most sensitive location on the circumcised penis.


In addition, the glans (head) of the circumcised penis is less sensitive to fine touch than the glans of the uncircumcised penis. The tip of the foreskin is the most sensitive region of the uncircumcised penis, and it is significantly more sensitive than the most sensitive area of the circumcised penis. Circumcision removes the most sensitive parts of the penis.

This study presents the first extensive testing of fine touch pressure thresholds of the adult penis. The monofiliment testing instruments are calibrated and have been used to test female genital sensitivity.

Now that's enough to make me wonder what I've been missing out on all these years as well as making me glad that my sons weren't done.

As a final aside I should point out that the decline in circumcisions, and subsequent shortage of foreskins, has had an impact on the correction of another birth defect for kids born without eyelids where they were particularly useful as eyelid transplants.   However they had the drawback of making the recipients a little bit cockeyed.

Here's a request folks be honest and tell me how you feel and let's remember that most of us in the western world remain abhorred by the practice of female circumcision.  If you're a bloke have you been done?  If you're a parent have you or would you have your son done and if so why?  I know there's been a prevailing thought that sons should look like their fathers but let me tell you by the time my sons probably even noticed there might have been a difference they were well past bathing or showering with me.