Sunday, January 30, 2011

Penguin Dead Ahead!

Icebergs wandered briefly across my awareness the other day. An odd thing for someone who doesn't live in Greenland to be thinking about I will agree but I had cause. A couple of days ago was the birthday of Captain Edward Smith who is famous for capping a highly successful career as an ocean going liner captain by running his ship, the Titanic, into a particularly solid piece of water.

Icebergs have a bit of a mixed reputation; on the one hand they are undeniably picturesque, particularly if they have a few penguins dotted about them but on the other hand they do have a lamentable tendency to roam the shipping lanes wreaking havoc. Since ninety percent of an iceberg is below the surface of the water it is perhaps best to think of them as u-boats with good airconditioning. Oh yes, and the occasional penguin.

Of course nowadays we have better methods of detecting icebergs rather than just putting seamen in a high spot and telling them to keep their eyes open. I rather suspect that all ships that sail in icy waters have penguin detectors fitted as standard equipment thus enabling the rapid identification of rogue icebergs. The reason for the tragedy of the Titanic (and believe me it was a tragedy, I've seen that movie) was because hailing, as it did, from the northern hemisphere this particular iceberg wasn't equipped with penguins that could have been identified and given early warning. I can almost hear Captain Smith now;
"Is the penguin detector clear?"
"Yes sir"
"Excellent, full steam ahead"
While in the background a horrified ornithologist tries to make himself heard.

Being of a fundamentally left wing nature I firmly believe that there is no problem that can't be fixed by increasing the power of government. Therefore I propose that we enact legislation that will make it mandatory for all icebergs, no matter what their hemisphere of origin, to carry penguins.

Finally our sealanes will be safe. Now if we could just get Somali pirates to do the same thing.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Does Anybody Still Think Hamburgers and Cigarettes are Good for Them?

I bought a packet of chewing gum yesterday (because that's the kind of dramatic, action packed life I lead). As my trembling fingers pawed away the plastic so that I could get at the slivers of sticky sweetness within I couldn't help noticing that a good portion of the packaging was taken up with nutritional information. Tell me, who exactly is interested in the nutritional content of chewing gum? By the time one plonks the packet on the counter I would venture to suggest that the nutritional arguments have already been fought. Frankly this habit of labelling anything one is even remotely likely to put into ones mouth with nutritional information is getting on my nerves. I'm pretty sure my toothpaste has nutritional information on it if I look hard enough.

There are some things where nutritional information is helpful and others where it is totally irrelevant. Fast food restaurants putting nutritional information on their food wrappers is just ridiculous. "This serving of deep fried fat and animal cutoffs contains 8oo% of your daily requirements of cholesterol building filth." I guess that makes me eight times as healthy as the person who decided to dine elsewhere. I ate at McDonalds yesterday (when will my crazy knockabout lifestyle end?) and the only thing that concerned me about the burger was the time it took to arrive. Twenty minutes for gods sake! I could feel my arteries unhardening. Anybody who walks into a fast food restaurant has already decided that nutrition can take care of itself. Don't get me started on the healthy options meals. McDonalds is the last place I would go to find healthy food. Actually its the last place I would go to find food. I go there when I'm short of time and I want to make my stomache shut up, or at least complain for a different reason. I am never going to eat a McDonalds salad; if I want salad I will go somewhere that serves salads not a burger joint reluctantly complying with the latest in idiotic food service regulations.

I grant you there are some places where nutritional labels are useful, on actual food for instance. It is not unknown for me to stand in the supermarket and carefully review the nutritional value of two similar foodstuffs before I finally decide in favour of the cheaper one. People with allergies probably find it helpful too. Other than that I really don't see the point. If we were to put nutritional information on everything we stick in our mouths then you would have to have labelling on cigarettes, pencils, pacifiers and toothpicks. Oh, and some people would need to get some very painful tattoos.

Our society seems to have gone nuts for labelling things. I will grant that there is some utility in labelling cigarette packets. It is entirely possible that some hermit who has been living in a cave for the last ninety years or so might decide to venture back into civilisation for long enough to buy a packet of cigarettes at the corner store. In such a case it would probably help inform his purchasing decision if he knew that said product was going to reduce both the quality and the extent of his few remaining years. Anybody born after about 1920 really doesn't have an excuse nor should they need labelling to inform them of the bleeding (or rather, wheezing) obvious.

Why do we do this? I suppose that since most of us act like idiots most of the time it is only fair that we be treated as such but lets keep it within the bounds of reason. Nutritional information on food; fine. Warning labels on cigarettes; somewhat unnecessary but I don't want that hermit's emphysema on my conscience so, also fine but apart from that lets give it a break. People are never going to grow up while they are treated like two year olds. Even stupid people don't deserve to be treated as if they are more stupid than they are. Unless the nutritional information on a pack of chewing gum is going to say something helpful like "may contain traces of cyanide" I really don't think I need to know.

Incidentally, the total nutritional content of that packet of gum? Two grams of sugar per stick. That's it, there was nothing else. My saliva has more nutritional value than that but don't tell anyone or I might be forced to put a label on it.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Fear the Were-Elephant

Apparently scientists in Japan are working night and day to bring the woolly mammoth back from extinction. They have borrowed a mammoth carcass from Siberia and are eagerly extracting the DNA as we speak. My conclusion? Scientists are brilliant, creative people but they shouldn't be permitted to set their own agenda. OK; mammoths are cool, positively frosty in fact, but I wonder how much thought has been given to the possible consequences of their return.

For starters, how do we know that mammoths even existed? It is just possible that what we think are mammoth corpses are in fact the bodies of perfectly normal elephants that were afflicted with the terrible curse of lycanthropes. Scientists will take this infected DNA, impregnate an elephant (a female one for preference) and wait eagerly for the birth. Imagine their surprise when the mother gives birth to what appears to be a thoroughly normal elephant. This surprise will be as nothing to the total shock come the next full moon when the baby sprouts hair and giant tusks and goes on a killing spree. The global price of silver will skyrocket as armies struggle to cope with the new threat by investing in some seriously expensive artillery ammunition. Honest elephants will huddle together in fear and curse our names as the twisted progeny of pachyderm hate stalks the night athirst for new victims. All in all, not a good outcome.

Of course the were-elephant theory might not necessarily be accurate or even likely (or sane) but there are other reasons to hesitate before telling Igor to raise the lightning rod. Mammoths are creatures of the snow. At least we assume they are based on the corpses we've found; a chain of logic which if it were applied to humans would indicate that we spend all our time in cemeteries. Still for the sake of what I will fatuously call an argument let us assume that the mammoth did indeed roam the icy wilderness. They're going to find global warming a bit of a bugger aren't they? I can see the headlines now "Mammoth Born-Dies of Heatstroke". Since elephants have a two year gestation period I can envisage that the mammoths will be dropping dead faster than we can squeeze them out. Mammoth extinction will become a daily affair as the last survivor dies before the next one is born. Half of the species becoming extinct at any given time will be the woolly mammoth. Frankly I don't think anyone is going to win the Frankenstein Prize for this one.

Finally suppose we do manage to successfully breed and keep alive mammoths what are we going to do with them. We can hardly keep them all in zoos (they'd shed everywhere) and we can't release them into their native habitat, their native habitat is the Pleistocene era. We could eat them I suppose and imagine all the fur coats you could get from one mammoth hide but it seems a bit mean to bring them back from extinction simply so we can kill them again (although don't put it past us). I rather suspect that some crazed super villain who has seen Jurassic Park once too often will corner the world market in mammoths and train them to unleash carnage on an unsuspecting populace.

When you're cowering in a dumpster and flying woolly mammoths are reducing the city to rubble with laser beams from their eyes if you happen to hear maniacal laughter that will be me in my Fortress of Doom.

Birthday Greetings #21

Happy birthday to Galba, very briefly Roman emperor. Like most high ranking Romans of the time Galba changed his name more often than his clothing but ultimately settled on Lucius Livius Ocella Sulpicius Galba most of which was in honour of his stepmother (she was wealthy and adopted him). Born into a high ranked but not particularly impressive family Galba soon shone in a series of appointments where he demonstrated military skill and an impressive degree of integrity. Despite this he survived both Caligula and Nero.

He was governing Hispania Tarraconensis a province in Spain when he got news first that Nero wanted to kill him and second that Nero had killed himself first. Possibly a death sentence from the previous ruler was considered a qualification for the highest position and he set of from Spain to become emperor. To smooth his path various associates made juicy promises to the Praetorian Guard in return for their support.

Unfortunately while age seems to have destroyed Galba's energy and skill it hadn't destroyed his integrity and he point blank refused to pay soldiers bribes in return for loyalty. The Praetorians muttered under their breath and started sharpening their swords. Concern for the empire's financial state caused Galba to cut down on both state entertainments and personal charity. The people of Rome muttered under their breath and started sharpening their swords. Perhaps Galba just came to the throne too old because despite his good intentions he didn't seem to have the stamina to push his policies and relied on a coterie of favourites who seemed to control the aging emperor. The palace bureaucrats muttered under their breath and started sharpening their swords.

Strangely it was none of the above who toppled Galba but rather a character named Otho who was one of Galba's supporters. Otho was piqued when Galba chose somebody else as successor and raised the standard of revolt. Meanwhile the legions in Germany had appointed their commander Vitellius emperor and raised their own standard of revolt. Otho got to Rome first killed Galba and took over the empire, for about three months before Vitellius killed him and took over the empire. A few months after that somebody else killed Vitellius and Vespasian took over the empire. Somebody tell me why all these apparently sane people wanted such a dangerous job?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Perhaps the Tennis Should Come With a Parental Advisory

Well the Australian Open has rolled around again bringing with it the usual combination of sleep deprivation and overblown expectations on Australian players. I like watching the tennis but the Australian Open is one tournament that I usually watch with my fingers in my ears so I don't have to hear the commentary.

Honestly, an Australian player only has to drive past the arena in a taxi for the commentators to go into paroxysms of enthusiasm about their skills, their chances, how they've improved, how that leg amputation won't slow them down too much and so on. Should one of these hapless individuals show their face on an actual tennis court the Australian commentary team goes absolutely apeshit, ejaculating thick streams of idiotic drivel that nicely complements the disaster happening out on court. Frankly by about the third game I don't think the commentators are able to see out of the windows of the box anymore.

Gamely attempting to inject something approximating sanity is Jim Courier an American whom I believe we fly out from a homeless shelter in Boston once a year so that he can cower under the desk in a waterproof suit waiting for the opportunity to say something sensible. Eventually, as the Australian commentators gasp for breath and fumble for the tissues, Courier gets his chance and starts an almost coherent sentence. But then Lleyton Hewitt breaks wind and the Aussie commentators are off again raving about how this is a good sign for him and that he seems so much more relaxed than last year, enjoying his tennis, had a good run up and blah blah blah. Courier retreats back under the desk until the downpour lessens and wishes he'd saved some of that prize money from his playing days.

Actually I don't like too much sanity in my tennis commentary, I much prefer insanity. Step forward Henri Leconte. Leconte is living proof that we should be drug testing the commentary team rather than the players. I love listening to him comment; he laughs, he shrieks, he hoots, he gibbers. He makes almost as much unnecessary noise as a female Russian tennis player. And if a Frenchman happens to be playing watch out because there's no stopping him. In between inane babbling and outright barracking for his man he manages to slip in the occasional insightful comment on the game. He is a joy to listen to. Unlike the rest of the commentary team which makes me feel slightly as though the sound feed for the tennis got mixed up with a porn movie track.

The commentary on the women's matches is just as bad although somewhat quieter. I have just finished watching Jelena Dokic get beaten by Barbora Zalavova Strycova. Quietly whatever has been female player was sitting next to Bruce McElveny pointed out that Zala etcetera etcetera has the wrong sort of temperament for the style of tennis she plays. Apparently she is a counter puncher which requires a calm temperament but she has a fiery one. God, no wonder it took her two whole sets to crush Dokic like a bug.

Apparently if you are a counter puncher you should be calm and relaxed like Andre Agassi. Since Agassi spent at least a portion of his career completely fucked up on drugs possibly a better example could have been picked. Alternatively if she wants to be fiery she should eschew the counter punching for a more aggressive style such as leaping the net and beating her opponent to death with a tennis bat, racquet, whatever, who the hell cares. Something which was affecting both players (according to the aforementioned has been) was heavy, fluffy balls. Cut down on the steroids girls but in the meantime I have some cream which might prove helpful.

One thing that is missing from this Australian Open is Serena Williams thus depriving the commentary team of the opportunity to say how fat and unfit she looks. Roger Rashid looks as though he's about to go into withdrawal. Venus Williams is doing her best by wearing silly clothing and playing under an injury cloud but its just not the same.

With Dokic gone it is up to Samantha Stosur and Alicia Molik to carry the flag in the women's draw. Excuse me? Alicia Molik? I thought she was dead, or commentating. Pretty much the same thing really. But no, she's out on the court winning matches, well match. I'm sure she's pleased and I'm very happy for her but the commentary team are already parleying this into the possibility of her and Sam Stosur meeting in the final. Only if losing players get free tickets guys.

I must go now, Federer is playing Gilles Simon of France. I am so hoping Leconte will be part of the commentary team.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Look! Up In The Sky! It's A Bird, It's a Plane, It's a Whale Shark

National Geographic is currently boasting that they have been "exploring our world for over a century". Don't worry guys, I'm sure you'll find where you left the car keys eventually. Since they have been at this for over a hundred years though I must ask, when are they going to stick a fork in the planet and say "It's done"? We can only handle so many twenty episode documentaries on the sex life of the tapeworm.

Lately Nat Geo seem to have been obsessing on the whale shark. It's got to the point where a whale shark can't turn over in bed without a team from National Geographic on hand to record the occasion. Whale sharks are being watched, filmed, tagged, pursued and tracked. This is tantamount to stalking. Whale sharks, two words; restraining order.

For those who don't know whale sharks are whacking big fish. They're called whale sharks because they're dumber than whales and less ferocious than sharks. They are the big lumbering lunk of the ocean, always a little bit behind everyone else but tolerated because of their inoffensive gormlessness. They are also surprisingly difficult to track which has been driving National Geographic nuts. I can't help thinking the old whale shark has a surprise or two up its fluke (which it doesn't have because it isn't a whale, no letters please).

In their ongoing attempts to worry the whale shark to death Nat Geo has wheeled out the big guns. They have dialled in the assistance of NASA which has provided tracking equipment normally used for star navigation to keep an eye on the elusive whale shark. How is this supposed to help? Do they really expect to find schools of whale sharks in orbit around Proxima Centauri? Although if there are it would help explain why National Geographic is finding them so difficult to track.

In my quieter moments (after the medication has kicked in) it pleases me to think of whale sharks swimming happily between the stars far from the attention of pesky scientists and downright irritating documentary makers. Across the cold, eternal void the whale sharks frolic happily, alone save for others of their kind, basking in the light of far distant suns and occasionally plunging back to earth to visit the relatives and annoy National Geographic.

There is no sight in nature more magnificent than a whale shark dancing in the dawn sky. Only a rare few have been privileged to see twenty tons of plankton gobbling sea beast disporting itself in the stratosphere. And none of these are employed by National Geographic. The whale sharks know when to move and when to be very still indeed.

Ah yes, its a beautiful picture, but its all rubbish. The entire swimming between the stars is simple misdirection to put National Geographic off the scent. The real truth is that whale sharks died out millions of years ago. The ones we see are time travellers popping forward from their home in the warm waters of the Cretacean oceans to see how the world is getting along. They may not say much but they are silently taking note and measuring our progress. There will come a day when whale sharks will walk (all right, swim) amongst us and give us a mark out of ten for what we have achieved so far.

On that day they will be so surrounded by people from National Geographic that no one else will notice.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Honestly, Why Islands?

Island dwellers across the Pacific are getting nervous about global warming drowning their homes. I don't know how island dwellers in the Atlantic feel about it, perhaps nobody asked them. Meanwhile in Mexico, Guatemala, Papua New Guinea, Montserrat and Kamchatka in Russia volcanoes are busy adding to the amount of land on the earth's surface. Would it be churlish to suggest that anybody worried about their country sinking should move to a place where it seems to be rising?

I've never really quite understood islands. Oh they can be picturesque I know but what are they for? I can't help feeling that they were created solely to provide employment for hyperactive cartographers. Every ocean, every sea even most rivers and lakes seem to have a sprinkling of what can only be described as geological pimples. The Channel Islands off the coast of France are a good example of this. Jersey, Guernsey and I think there's another one called Pullover. What on earth is the point of Guernsey? It just sits there doing nothing but being a menace to navigation and helping the less scrupulous amongst us evade tax.

I'm sure the population of Guernsey (is there one?) would take umbrage at the above comment. They would point to their proud traditions (is tax evasion a proud tradition? Possibly on Guernsey) and their cultural achievements (breeding bonsai cattle is a cultural achievement?) and of course their long and distinguished history. The long and distinguished history of Guernsey consisted of sticking with King John of England after he got kicked out of Normandy (perhaps they felt that being ruled by a perennial loser would result in less interference) followed by several centuries of piracy (since abandoned in favour of more efficient methods of extracting money from the wealthy) and a brief period of being occupied by the Germans during World War II.

Yes, ok I've been mean to Guernsey. I could have picked on the Scilly Isles or Spitzbergen or Niuafo'ou for that matter to bring things a little closer to home. Niuafo'ou is an island in Tonga and was evacuated in 1947 following (you guessed it) a volcanic eruption. In a typical example of the human race's inability to take a hint many people have since returned. I suppose this is the thing about islands, people like living on them. They must do, there really is no better explanation for why people continue to live in some of these places. I must admit I like living on this island but this island is almost three million square miles (eat that Greenland) so I don't think it really counts.

In some of my more introspective moments I like to think of where I might wish to retire to. My mind turns to places like Skye, the Faroes, the Orkneys and (when I'm thinking big) Tasmania. Guess what all these places have in common?

The Greatest Secret is Something or Other

One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given on writing was "write". It doesn't matter if you don't know what you're going to write about or if you have reached an impasse in your Great Australian Novel, just write something. Get words down on paper. At the very least it will serve as practice, get you into the habit of writing and you never know where it might take you.

Worthy though the above advice is you're probably thinking that it doesn't bode well for the quality of the upcoming blog entry. And you would be right; essentially what I'm doing is throwing words at the computer screen at random and then tossing the occasional piece of punctuation in when I think the sentences are getting too long. Anyone who doesn't find this appealing please feel free to stop reading now. Go on; get up, walk the dog, finish your homework, write your own much better blog. I won't be offended, honest.

Pssst! Have they gone? Good, now for you faithful few who remain I have something rather special to share. I just had to get rid of the dilettantes first, the blog whores if you will. Don't misunderstand me, I have nothing against those people, I'm sure many of them are lovely but for the matter of earth shattering importance that I'm going to impart I need to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Doubtless there will be tears and howls of outrage from among them when they realise what they have missed but that can't be helped. I like to think that the best among them will understand my reasons and applaud my discretion. There is hope for these people. One day they will join us in the inner circle and partake fully of the mysteries which for the present must be restricted to a select few. Perhaps you won't like that my loyal elite but I encourage you to greet your new brothers and sisters when they arrive as fellows fully worthy to take their place amongst us. I will be judicious of course, of every thousand that step forward only one will be chosen and these precious few will more than earn their place at our table which alone shall be saved when the mountains crumble and the mass of doomed humanity cry out in despair.

And now my dark apostles the moment for which we have been planning and dreaming. The day when we ascend to the level of gods is upon us. Listen well because the words I have to say will be the only lifeline to guide us through the last days which are imminently upon us. These few precious syllables which are our key to eternity and beyond. Yes listen well my bretheren and mark my words because...oh, this is a little embarrassing. I seem to have forgotten it. Which is a pity because it was really cool. You might as well invite the others back now. I guess we're all doomed after all. My bad.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Pizza

This evening, hungry for pizza, I dialled my local pizza place hoping to get a delicious slice of cardboard and melted faux cheese. Six times I rang and each time all I got was a busy signal. I began to get rather irate. Indeed one could almost say I was miffed. Fortunately as readers of this blog know well I am not the kind of person who goes off on vituperative and increasingly irrelevant rants simply because of a little personal disappointment. BASTARD SWINE, WHY THE HELL WON'T YOU TAKE MY CALLS! There can be no possible excuse for this slovenliness in pizza service. The entire staff should be bastinadoed. I will not rest until I hear that the owner of the shop has appeared in sackcloth and ashes on his hands and knees before Milan cathedral begging for forgiveness. Oh wait, that was emperor Theodosius and he didn't fail to deliver a pizza so much as massacre most of Thessalonica. The principle, however, is the same. I'm sure Bishop Ambrose would agree with me.

Some people may struggle to find the connection between difficulties receiving a pizza and the first triumphant demonstration of the ecclesiastical authority over the secular but those people are missing the point. The point is I don't have my pizza and most of Thessalonica died. So there.

Actually it was all the fault of the Goths, they had enrolled in the Roman army and found themselves garrisoning Thessalonica which had a reputation for being unruly and a distinct lack of pizza places. Finding nowhere they could get a super supreme without anchovies the quite naturally disgruntled Goths sent a message to the emperor the gist of which went something like this; "Sodding place, population bitching, pay late, no decent pizzas and don't even ask about garlic bread". Theodosius waxed wroth at this missive (or possibly wrothed wax, the chronicles are unclear) and instructed that a lesson be taught and a message sent. The Goths then cheerfully dismantled Thessalonica with deeply unpleasant consequences for the six thousand or so people who forgot to get out of the way.

This was considered a little excessive even when the sullen pizza bereft defiance of the population was taken into account and Theodosius had to say he was sorry before he was allowed back into church. Four years later the Goths met their comeuppance when as part of Theodosius's army they fought in the Battle of Frigidus. Theodosius let the Goths take the strain and most of them were killed while he husbanded his Roman troops for later. Unfortunately for the empire as a whole one of the Goths who escaped was a guy named Alaric. Alaric would lead his people on a rampage across the Roman empire because he simply couldn't believe that an entire empire built by Italians didn't have a single pizza shop worth a damn.

Eventually Alaric died (as people do) and his followers diverted the course of a river and buried him in its bed inside three coffins; the first of lead, the second of silver and the third of gold. After they were done they let the river flow back in its natural course and the resting place of Alaric was lost forever more. According to legend he was buried with a precious slice from the last meat lovers pizza ever to be made from the old recipe. If I knew where he was buried I'd dig the old bastard up and eat it.

As it is I had to make do with takeaway Chinese.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Now Find A Garage to Put Your Car In

Garage sales fascinate me. The essential rationale behind a garage sale is the hope that other people will pay money for something you obviously think is too worn out or crappy to keep any longer. Strangely people do pay money for these things, then they hold their own garage sales to get rid of their stuff so they can fit in the things they just bought at a garage sale. A lot of effort would be saved if people just held on to their own rubbish. I can't help thinking this circular on selling of worthless rubbish is a beautiful metaphor for the financial crisis that parts of the world are still struggling through. I wonder if those in the financial services industry would receive quite as large a bonus if they admitted that their job is basically arranging garage sales.

Of course in today's sophisticated, high tech world you can conduct your garage sale online. This is the basis of eBay. It's so sophisticated and high tech you don't even need a garage any more. All you need is a bank account and a collection of worthless stuff. Most people have the first and everybody has the second. As I write this there is a sign a few short metres away from me advertising the traditional sort of garage sale. You know the one where you turn up at your neighbours house and have fun poring through their life and quietly laughing at their taste. One of the articles mentioned on the advert is a retro fishbowl. I was so intrigued by that one that I was tempted to buy it despite my glaring lack of retro fish. I suppose it would make sense to buy the fishbowl first and get the fish later. Alternatively you could just keep them in the freezer until you find them a home. Its all water after all. Retro fish will probably crop up in a garage sale before long and if not I bet I can find them on eBay.

What would a retro fish look like anyway? My first thought was a coelecanth, after all you don't get much more retro than prehistoric do you? But then I started thinking of the fifties, all angles and huge fins, so I've decided to get a hammerhead shark. I hope the fish tank is big enough because the damn thing won't fit in my freezer. At least not in one piece.

Environmentalists must love garage sales, they are the purest form of recycling around. With virtually no expenditure of additional resources items that would have wound up in a landfill instead wind up filling a garage. Since we keep producing new stuff as well it is only a matter of time before every garage on the planet is full and the global economy (what's left of it) will come to a screeching halt. Cars will sit forlornly rusting in the yard, driven from their rightful home by an accumulation of junk. EBay will burst at the seams as everyone tries to sell their stuff to everyone else. The only available jobs will be in printing fliers for new garage sales.

Slowly the human race will sink beneath a tide of unused exercise equipment and copies of The Celestine Prophecies (hopefully also unused) until there will be nothing but a collection of overstuffed garages to mark our passing. In time the fliers will peel off the telegraph poles and float gently down over the wasteland to form an appropriate shroud for us and our works. My this blog entry ended on a cheerful note didn't it?