When you can't live without bananas

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Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Australia 2011 - Day 6: Pictures from MR

"You don't stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing." - Michael Pritchard


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Start of trek

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View on way up

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Wall on other side

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Narrow passage

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Tree in awkward corner

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Wall on other side

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Valley and plain

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People on other side

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Garden of Eden

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Garden of Eden from above

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Birds about to plummet off cliff

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From bottom of trail

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Cows looking at us at unsealed road to meteorites

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Aboriginal-style art in Alice Springs hostel (IIRC)

Is a man raping a woman a hate crime?

An answer I wrote to: Is a man raping a woman a hate crime?

"A hate crime occurs when a person is attacked because he belongs (or is thought to belong) to a certain group. In other words, the victim is attacked not on his own merits (or at least not solely on his own merits); the group itself is being attacked here.

Might a man raping a woman fall into this category?

There are two main motives male-on-female rape is attributed to: sex and power.

In the case of simple sexual motivation, it is difficult to see how male-on-female rape could be a hate crime, since women are targeted here not because the perpetrator hates women, but because women have something unique that he wants. In a samilar way, if I am a mugger and I target rich people because they have more money, this is not a hate crime - it is just a practical consequence of my preferences and social circumstances.

In the opposite case, male-on-female rape could be a power thing (this is a typical feminist view). Yet if rape is just an expression of power, I don't see how male-on-female rape would necessarily be a hate crime (as opposed to, say, a way of lashing out at the world, or of gaining some power that one lacks in one's personal life) - unless it is specifically power over the female gender that the male rapist desires and enacts. And even then, wanting power over a certain group does not hate make (example: people crying to cut bankers' bonuses) - the defining criterion here is enjoying the suffering of that certain group. Then again, the cries to cut bankers' bonuses might not be such an inappropriate example here...

Of course, sex and power are often inter-mingled, but this does not change the fundamental analysis. Unless a man rapes a woman because he hates women (and presumably is using sex and/or power to express his worldview/feelings), male-on-female rape cannot be a hate crime."

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Links - 6th March 2012

"It is the dull man who is always sure, and the sure man who is always dull." - H. L. Mencken


Grand Mansions, Bungalows and Villas of the Past | Remember Singapore - "Chek Jawa House No. 1, Pulau Ubin (1930s – Present). This little Tudor-styled cottage is located on Pulau Ubin, a north-eastern island of Singapore. Built in the 1930s by former Chief Surveyor of Singapore Landon Williams, this beautiful resort, resembling an English cottage, is completed with a private jetty and the only workable fireplace in Singapore."
Elsewhere: "the merlions were almost forced to be removed from their locations as they are not authorised by the Singapore Tourism Board, who owns the copyright and all intellectual properties of Merlion. There are 5 “approved” Merlions in Singapore, which are the original Merlion (with a smaller one behind it) at the Singapore River, the gigantic Merlion in Sentosa, the Merlion of Mount Faber and the one at the Tourism Court."

The Flavor Network | The Big Picture - "Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data, ability to repeat discredited memes, and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Also, be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor even implied. Any irrelevancies you can mention will also be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous."

UK: Students want Strauss-Kahn speech cancelled - "Students at Cambridge University are circulating a petition against a planned speech there by former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kah... "To choose to give this man an opportunity to speak trivialises the experiences of women who bravely come forward and report rape and sexual assault, and reinforces the institutional sexism that faces women who do so," said Ruth Graham, a spokeswoman for the Cambridge University Students' Union Women's Campaign... the decision to invite Strauss-Kahn displayed "a callous desire to exploit gender crime allegations in the service of controversy”... Katie Lam, president of the Cambridge Union Society, said Strauss-Kahn had been invited to speak about the state of the eurozone and the global economy. "The purpose of the Union is to provide a neutral platform for free speech ... An invitation to the Union does not imply support or endorsement," she said"
Elsewhere: "it had been regularly asking him to come and speak on the topic since 2010"; Once again, this is feminist logic (i.e. illogic), and an attempt to turn offence into psychic harm and thus proceed to censorship

Is the jar industry misogynistic? - Quora - "It's also discriminatory against children! They must make jars with smaller lids so kids can open them! I mean, have you seen the size of a peanut butter jar's lid? And don't get me started on the jelly! That jelly gets the lid stuck and it's nigh near impossible to open the jar up! More discrimination!"
Sidebar: Is Islam misogynistic?
Is Hollywood misogynistic?
Is democracy misogynistic?

The Public and Its Problems - "Why, they ask, can’t politicians see the abyss that yawns before them, and come together to resolve the euro crisis once and for all?... If the problem has not been experienced before, the public is not convinced of the potential costs of inaction. And, if action prevents the problem, the public never experiences the averted calamity, and voters therefore penalize political leaders for the immediate costs that the action entails. Even if politicians have perfect foresight of the disaster that awaits if nothing is done, they may have little ability to persuade voters, or less insightful party members, that the short-term costs must be paid... Don’t blame the leaders for appearing short-sighted and indecisive; the fault may lie with us, the public, for not listening to the worrywarts"

BioWare Explains ‘Mass Effect 3′ Power Stat Upgrades - "'So Rank 1 Weapon Damage Bonus may be 10%. If we say at rank 2 the Weapon Damage Bonus increases by 50% what is the correct result for total weapon damage bonus now. If you used formula 1, it would be 15%. But that goes against what people expect, because you are increasing a percent by a percent. Instead, you expect the numbers to add together. So a 50% increase to 10% should be 60%'... Just think: many of you had the audacity to ask your high school math teacher “when will we ever use this?!?” Here you go"

The Duet: The iPod of Vibrators? - "Topolovac and Chang will be releasing two pricier models: one with a gold-plated band for $189 and another with a gold-plated body and band for $349, which hold 8 and 16 gigabytes of data, respectively. The storage wasn’t a part of the original design, but came from the first group of test users, about half of whom mentioned wanting to store erotic content; others want the extra storage for whatever."

Police interview chief suspect in train sex party - YouTube - "Taiwan Railway train turned into a sex train. Eighteen men and one woman participated in this sex party. A group of internet users launched a 'train perv' project on an online forum at telnet://libido.cx at the end of last year. A girl who claimed to be 19 years old and 166 cm tall with a pair of F-cup breast volunteered to join the party and be the 'only girl' present ..."

THE COMPOSITES - "Images created using law enforcement composite sketch software and descriptions of literary characters"

Mackerel Economics in Prison Leads to Appreciation for Oily Fillets - WSJ.com - "Mr. Muntz says he sold more than $1 million of mackerel for federal prison commissaries last year. It accounted for about half his commissary sales, he says, outstripping the canned tuna, crab, chicken and oysters he offers. Unlike those more expensive delicacies, former prisoners say, the mack is a good stand-in for the greenback because each can (or pouch) costs about $1 and few -- other than weight-lifters craving protein -- want to eat it."

Upper class people more likely to cheat study - "People from the wealthy upper classes are more likely than poorer folks to break laws while driving, take candy from children and lie for financial gain"

Boys with big brothers more likely to be gay - "It's one of the few reliable correlates of homosexuality that I know of"

Why This Pro-Choice Feminist is Now a Pro-Life Activist - "A study by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, the former research arm of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, showed that 48 percent of the women who sought abortions after 16 weeks did so because they “found it hard to make arrangements.” Not exactly a life-or-death reason... I also advocate for the right of women to be free from the documented dangers of abortion: sterility, a perforated uterus, depression, subsequent drug and alcohol abuse. These hazards have been written about in studies published in well-established medical journals. I also have looked into the eyes of women who deeply regret their abortions and who speak openly and poignantly about the pain that abortion has caused in their lives. The testimony of such women speaks volumes about the dark side of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade."

Kermit Gosnell late-term abortion scandal: How late in pregnancy is too late to choose? - "A grand jury in Philadelphia has indicted a local doctor for running an abortion clinic in which no limits applied. Babies of all sizes and gestational ages were casually butchered. It's a tale of gore and nihilism—and an occasion for pro-choice advocates to reflect on the limits of reproductive freedom... "Is there anything qualitatively different about a fetus at, say, 28 weeks that gives it a morally different status to a fetus at 18 weeks or even eight weeks?"... It's one thing to preach these ideas in the lefty blogosphere. It's quite another to see them in practice... Gosnell was known as a doctor who would perform abortions at any stage, without regard for legal limits." This meant killing viable babies. "We were able to document seven specific incidents in which Gosnell or one of his employees severed the spine of a viable baby born alive," the grand jury concludes. One victim was killed at 26 weeks. Another was killed at 28. A third was killed at 32. Some of the dead were 12 to 18 inches long. One had been moving and breathing outside the womb for 20 minutes. The report alleges hundreds of such atrocities. One employee admitted to severing the spinal cords of 100 babies, each one beyond 24 weeks"
Is there anything qualitatively different about a newborn that gives it a morally different status to a fetus at 28 weeks?; Ace: "One of the joys of being a lefty blogger is being permitted to write glib, insensible things without high risk of contradiction, so long as the glib nonsense you're writing is the sort of thing your readers want to read. Here's Jill from Feministing simply making shit up... Jill also postulates, evidence-free, that almost all of these late-term abortions were medically justified... The Supreme Court has ruled that no abortion law can prohibit an abortion, even a late-term one, if it is necessary for the health or life of the mother"

In September 2009, after admitting to my parents that I was atheist, I was abruptly woken in the middle of the night by two strange men who subsequently threw me in a van and drove me 200 mi. to a facility that I would later find out serves the sole purpose of eliminating free thinking adolescents.

Maryland State Sport - Jousting - "Maryland designated jousting as the official sport in 1962. Jousting tournaments have been held in Maryland since early colonial times and became increasingly popular after the Civil War."

Medium ordered to curb activities in HDB flat - "He told the court he became a medium after the deity Guan Di possessed his body, saying: 'This is not what I wanted but I had no choice'"

A Point of View: The language of ties - "Che Guevara didn't wear a tie, nor did Fidel Castro, and Albert Einstein had never really liked them, either. All his life, he had a horror of constraint, be or physical, intellectual or emotional, which he described in the German word "zwang". For Einstein, as for many of the student revolutionaries of the 1960s, the necktie became the very embodiment and symbol of "zwang""

Is the Republican Party ready to lead America again? - "It was the early 1990's and things were bad. To make conversation Mr Major asks Mr Yeltsin a question. "In a word, Boris, what is the state of your nation?"
"In a word: good!"
The Prime Minister felt a fool. He had been fobbed off in front of his civil servants with an answer that was patently wrong. So he tried again: "What is the longer version of that, Boris?"
"Not good!"
... "The party is more unified on general principles - first order policies - than it has been in my lifetime." Whether this unity is good for the Republicans is another matter of course. Political writer Michael Lind left the party because he sees its modern unity as toxic. Too much based on the values of the deep south of the USA - and in particular a visceral and unquenchable dislike of any government by anyone, of anyone. "The thing that holds together the modern Republican party is opposition to the government," says Mr Lind.

Porcupines and Humans

"A number of porcupines huddled together for warmth on a cold day in winter; but, as they began to prick one another with their quills, they were obliged to disperse. However the cold drove them together again, when just the same thing happened. At last, after many turns of huddling and dispersing, they discovered that they would be best off by remaining at a little distance from one another. In the same way the need of society drives the human porcupines together, only to be mutually repelled by the many prickly and disagreeable qualities of their nature. The moderate distance which they at last discover to be the only tolerable condition of intercourse, is the code of politeness and fine manners; and those who transgress it are roughly told—in the English phrase—to keep their distance. By this arrangement the mutual need of warmth is only very moderately satisfied; but then people do not get pricked. A man who has some heat in himself prefers to remain outside, where he will neither prick other people nor get pricked himself."

--- Parerga and Paralipomena / Arthur Schopenhauer

An amusing job offer a friend got in her email

"Who does not love wine, women, and song
Remains a fool his whole life long." - Johann Heinrich Voss (attr)


From: Exquisite Model & Escort <***@***.com>
Subject: Invitation to join our social escort agency in Singapore

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Incidentally, their website is a Joomla placeholder page.


Sunday, March 04, 2012

Australia 2011 - Day 6, Part 4 - Drive to Alice Springs

"How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live." - Henry David Thoreau


Australia 2011
Day 6 - 3rd August - Drive to Alice Springs
(Part 4)

While I was sitting waiting for MR to refill his water in the Kings Canyon Carpark, there was a woman changing her top. She had a bikini underneath, but still. Next, she changed her shorts to a skirt while facing me, and ended off by changing her underwear (going to the back of the car). In the rear view mirror it looked like the man was giving her a lovebite around her collarbonone. I think they were a European couple.

Our breakfast the past 2 days had been awful a it'd been the cheese buns from Yulara:

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Luckily I had a packet of Red Rock Deli dijon mustard and honey, which was very good.

We stopped at Kings Creek Station, and there were quite a few people on working holidays, and the girl at the counter was Japanese. I asked her and she said there were some other Japs there also.

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Camel riding at Kings Creek

A man at Kings Creek Station was picnicing with alfalfa sprouts. I told him it wasn't something you'd expect on a picnic (I could've added: while picnicing in a car, too).

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Deluxe Chicken Burger with onion, bacon, pineapple, 'sauce' and egg. It was quite good, though they used frid chicken. The 'sauce' was like mayo. I didn't ask what the 'sauce' was. Perhaps it was better not to know.

We then stopped at Erldunda again. There was another Malaysian girl there this time, albeit not as cute and speaking Cantonese and Mandarin instead of English (maybe she did back-office work). I found out from the first Malaysian that there was Telstra reception at Erldunda (supposedly they were the best in Australia with 99% coverage - given Kings Canyon was not covered, I had my doubts about the rest of the Outback), even though my Yes! Optus SIM did not work. She also said that they were earning twice what they had in Malaysia (they'd been colleagues), and spent less. This is believable, even though I assumed that they were not toilet cleaners in Malaysia, as an ex-colleague said you'd make more on an hourly rate at a 7-11 in Australia than what she'd been paid.

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"Dear Customer
As you may be aware Central and Coastal Australia is experiencing a mouse plague. We sincerely apologize for the obvious smell that this has caused. We are endeavouring to irradicate this situation as best we can.
Sorry for any discomfort caused."

On reflection, this might've been a prank by a disgruntled employee, as irradicate is a rare verb meaning "To root deeply".

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Desert dog ("Cheese Kransky with sauce wrapped in puff pastry strips"). Since I'd tried the pig dog the other day.

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"Stop revive survive"
Apparently people get heatstrokes while driving

Driving up to Alice Springs, we saw the turnoff for the unsealed (unpaved) road shortcut one might take to get from Alice Springs to Kings Canyon (the route suggested by Google Maps is not the one I'm referring to).

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"Warning: Sand drifts and corrugations. 4x4 wheel drive advisable. Access to Kings Canyon via Lasseter Highway and Luritja Road is recommended"

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More multilingual warnings. German, Italian and Japanese-speakers are presumably the largest foreign language-speaking constituencies.

The road actually looked alright, so we decided to try to see the Henbury Meteorite Craters.

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Unfortunately, they cheated my feelings as the nice road soon ended. We decided 15km of this would slow us down in our quest to reach Alice Springs and might even damage the car (damage from driving on unsealed roads was not covered in the insurance). 5km would've been alright, but not 15. So we turned around.

On the drive up, I managed to push the car to 159km/h.

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Dry river

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"Enjoy your rest"
That sounds quite sad.

There was a puzzling "Cannonball Memorial" which we'd seen coming down but hadn't stopped for, so we stopped this time.

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Text on Cannonball Memorial

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Cannonball Memorial

If you're still wondering what Cannonball is, here is the text on a Flickr photo:

"The Northern Territory Cannonball Run was held from 22 May to the 27 in 1994 on the Stuart Highway from Darwin to Alice Springs and return, a distance of nearly 1600 kms, and attracted 118 racing enthusiasts from all over the world with their expensive machines. The race contained three distinct driving phases within the one event. These were the "flying miles", the timed sectors and, covering by far the greatest distance, normal, everyday driving during which there was no competitive element. The "flying miles" were a test of a car's acceleration with cars cross the starting line at 60 km/h and 1600 m later their speed was recorded by radar, with points awarded accordingly. The timed sections of the run were approximately 100 km stretches to which set times was applied. Cannonballers lost points on these sections by arriving either too late or too early by more than three minutes. While these sections of the run were happening, the road was open to regular traffic, although police swept the road ahead, side roads were manned and the travelling public and commercial vehicles were warned. During these sections, as throughout the run, Cannonball drivers were subject to the same laws as anyone else. It is to be pointed out, though, that in the Northern Territory doesn't exist a specified speed limit on the open road.

On 24 May, during one of the timed sections near Alice Springs, a Ferrari F40 crashed into a checkpost killing its occupants, the Japanese duo Akihiro Kabe and codriver Okano (first name unknown) and two track officials, Tim Linklater and Keith Pritchard. An inquest found that the direct cause of the accident was driver error on the part of the Japanese team which entered the checkpoint at an excessive speed."

Apparently my theory about no speed limits on the highway was correct. Which made the warnings about speed traps even more puzzling.

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I wanted to create a collection of Australian Animal Road Signs.

We then stopped at Stuart's Well Roadhouse, again to the strong smell of grease in the air.

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I realised that it was owned by one of the guys responsible for developing Kings Canyon - Jim Cotterill.

This should be the vehicle they used to bash out the first 100km trail to Kings Canyon

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About the landscape

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'Hooshta' - on camels

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On exploring Central Australia

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Can all patrons wear appropriate tops inside as this is a licenced area
Apparently a license means you must legislate appropriate dress.

I didn't see Jim or the Dingo, so I wasn't able to confirm the real reason why he'd ignored me the previous time.

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Birds in emu enclosure

We saw a billboard advertising a radio station but there was no reception there. Grr.

The hostel was manned by a very guai lan guy:

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Left: "Someone got some, but who!!!!!!

I arrived at reception 1 morning to find this under the big pile of keys left by people going on tour.

'I didn't sleep in the bed last night. All clean.'

Well done on getting laid last night, but who are you and what room were you in?


Right (still from CCTV): "Looking for the Vegemite?!!"

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Fake Thai place. A lot of it didn't look Thai. Though they said they were from Chiang Mai.

I then went to the supermarket, which was quite interesting.

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This cheese would be banned in Singapore.

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"Mamee. Now cooked in 100% Corn Oil"
Somehow I doubt the one you find in Singapore is cooked in corn oil. Incidentally this only meets the nutritional guidelines without the "optional flavour sachet". Bah.

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$9.14 for Terry's Chocolate Orange. But at least you can find it.

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If you don't want to use curry powder, they package the herbs and spices for you. Cool.

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"No school No service. School-aged children unaccompanied by an adult or without a Leave Pass WILL NOT BE SERVED during school hours"
And you thought Singapore was draconian in banning students from arcades during school hours. Seriously, why would you hang out at a supermarket if you were playing hookey??? (also: half of people get cancer?)

I had a conversation about this with the guy at the counter:

"People could wagging (sic)" (to "wag" = to play truant)
"I wouldn't imagine the supermarket would be the first place you would go when you wag"

In my casual survey of establishments selling reading material during this Australia trip, I hadn't noticed anything more racy than lad's mags. Possibly that was because, following in the colonial tradition, there were topless photos in FHM and similar publications. There was Penthouse but it looked softcore. Meanwhile another magazine had a lot of girls who'd sent in topless pictures. I would theorise a substitution effect, but the UK has both types.

At a Shell in Alice Springs I noticed a "Picture Magazine", "People" and "Home Magazine" (the last might be a mistake on my part - this seems to be a home decoration magazine), but all were softcore; here is an interesting (NSFW) page by someone who took photos for Picture:

"Picture 100% Homegirls features mainly Australian models or visitors shot in Australia and of all the "Australian"   men's nude magazines is probably the closest one where you may have a possibility of seeing a model from the magazine walking down your street or in your local shopping centre, or local club. All of the other nude magazines have features from overseas sources and cannot truly call themselves "Australian" in content.

100% comes out in two varieties, a softer version for Queensland to protect our delicate northern neighbours and a more explicit sealed version available in the southern states."

Picture Magazine and People were unsealed at IGA supermarket and also marked M (for those above 15 years old - boys become men early here) and as I suspected they were softcore (though they had ads you'd expect in a bona fide adult magazine). Picture had a "home girls" section, with pictures of "real" girls. One was very fat, so they were really real girls. Perhaps Australians must visit specialised adult stories for their pornography.

Incidentally, Picture Magazine describes itself hilariously:

"For almost 21 years now, The Picture has been the average Aussie bloke’s first stop for funny local stories, jokes, stunning nude girls, bizarre photos, puzzles with swear words in them and advice columns written by strippers. A weekly magazine squarely aimed at anyone who has a sense of humour and likes looking at women without their clothes on, it’s always chock-a-block with the cream of Australian womanhood in all their naked glory. We call them Home Girls, and they’re not supermodels – they’re real women you could meet at the shops, in the pub or at the bus stop. There isn’t another mag on the planet that looks at the world the way we do: through a pair of beer goggles. The Picture – don’t let the name fool you. There are words in it, too.

Editor Shayne Bugden:
“I’m quite possibly the only person in Australia who never wakes up and thinks, ‘I don’t want to go to work today.’ That’s easy to say when your work consists of looking at photos of stunning nude women, laughing at crude jokes and reading some of the funniest journalism going around – which is exactly what The Picture is all about.”

I then went back to the "Thai" place. The best Tom Yum soup I'd ever had had been in Palo Alto, since there'd been no chili inside to obscure the taste of the other ingredients. I thought I could profit from a similar experience here, since this was not an Asian country.

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I asked for Tom Yum Chicken with no chili and complained that in Asia I couldn't find Tom Yum without chili.

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I was annoyed that this had chili in it and confirmed the fact. The lady said "No. Don't cry". In fact, it was quite spicy, and mediocre to boot. She said it was just Tom Yum paste, but maybe it was from a packet. She said she didn't put "black chili" inside - maybe she'd just left out chili padi.

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"Non Indian Selection" at an Indian restaurant. Incidentally the rest of the menu was unhealthy.

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"A&W Creaming Soda"
This sounds quite wrong. Also spot the fudge in unit pricing.

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Draconian alcohol policy (even worse than the Americans). Singapore has a Casino Exclusion List - here they have a Banned Drinker Register.

The alcohol was in a different part of the supermarket, in its own room. And there was a checking station.

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Minced meat for cats. Uhh...
(also: duck fat! wah)

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"Business or pleasure. Pack condoms" (notice in hostel toilet)
Australians must be really horny. I don't normally see so many condom ads when abroad.

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Jim Cotterill wants a female assistant. Presumably they don't have sexual discrimination laws in Oz.

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I doubt anyone replied to Polly. This is quite a sneaky way of screening potential travel mates to ensure that they have the desired demographic qualities. Though I don't know why "share" was not translated.

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More guai lan-ness from the hostel guy

There was a young French couple in our room. They'd been on a working holiday, and had worked for 6 months in Melbourne. They wanted to travel for 6 months but realized they’d be bored so they planned to leave Australia 3 months earlier (at the end of September instead of the end of December).

They said they earned more doing casual work in Oz than in France as engineers (they were both civil engineers). They took a week to find work in Australia, but it would take 8 months in France.

We saw shit on the Outback Highway. Probably from all the wild horses running around.

Fuel was cheaper at more major rest stops, which made sense (for example Kings Creek had charged $2.18/l, while Erldunda charged $1.83/l, and other places had charged $2.08/l or $2.13/l for a similar grade). We hadn't been very strategic in our refueling strategy, so we resolved to do better. Given that gas was $1.629/l at Alice Springs we were losing a lot of money to it.

Road trains (trucks pulling 2 or more trailers) are a traffic hazard, since they're so long.

There's nothing to do in Alice Springs. Apart from the Reptile Centre and Desert Park (which covered a bit of the former) and maybe the Telegraph Centre there was nothing to do. Of course we'd anticipated this, which was why we'd planned to spend so little time there.

In the Alice Springs hostel, there was one guy who'd rented a camper van for the past 3 weeks. He'd been in Australia for a month and was going to be there for 3 more. I told him he'd be bored, and he sadly agreed.
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