There’s not much more you can say to that…

Introducing Miss Carol Miller

I haven’t responded to any African scam emails for a while – but this one was too good to resist:

From Miss carol miller.
Abidjan. Cote D’Ivoire
West Africa


I am the only Daughter of my late parents Mr.and Mrs.michael D, miller. My father was a highly reputable busnness magnet who operated in the capital of
Ivory coast during his days.

It is sad to say that he passed away mysteriously in France during one of his business trips abroad on the 12th September 2003. Though his sudden death was linked or rather suspected to have been masterminded by an uncle of his who travelled with him at that time. But God knows the truth! My mother died when I was just 6yrs old, and since then my father took me so special.

Before his death on September 2003, he called me and informed me that he has the sum of Five Million, Seven Hundred thousand United State Dollars.(USD$5,700,000.00)left in fixed deposit account in one of the leading banks in Africa. He further told me that he deposited the money in my name, and also gave me all the necessary but legal documents to this fund with the bank.

I am just 21 years old and a university undergraduate and really don’t know what to do. Now I want an account overseas where I can transfer this funds and after the transaction I will come and reside permanently in your country till such a time that it will be convenient for me to return back home if I so desire. This is because I have suffered a lot of set backs as a result of incessant political crisis here in Ivory coast. The death of my father actually brought sorrow to my life. I also want to invest the fund under your care because I am ignorant of business world.

I am in a sincere desire of your humble assistance in this regards. Your suggestions and ideas will be highly regarded. Now permit me to ask these few questions:

1. Can you honestly help me from your heart?
2. Can I completely trust you?
3. What percentage of the total amount in question will be good for you after the money is in your account?

Please, consider this and get back to me as soon as possible. Immediately I confirm your willingness, I will send to you my Picture and also inform you more details involved in this matter.

Kind Regards,
Miss carol miller.

Here’s my response from a purpose built gmail account…

Dear Miss Miller,

I am interested in this opportunity and forwarded it to my personal account to continue correspondence. I am about to change careers and do not want my current employer to know. I will be starting my own business as a venture capitalist and investment consultant. I will be looking closely at Ivory Coast as a proposed investment destination so your offer is intriguing.

I am deeply sorry to hear that your parents are late – luckily punctuality is hereditary and I trust you will always endeavour to be timely in your responses throughout the course of this deal.

My father was also a magnet – sadly he met his demise when unable to avoid flying metallic objects.

1. Can you honestly help me from your heart?
Yes I will do all within my capabilities to assist you. My heart is yours – well not literally because were I to give it to you there would be nothing to pump the blood through my veins.

2. Can I completely trust you?
Of course, I am a very trustworthy businessman and am looking to form a longstanding relationship with you after this business is completed. With your Ivory Coast contacts and my business acumen we will be a force to reckon with.

3. What percentage of the total amount in question will be good for you after the money is in your account?
I would think perhaps 15% would be appropriate.

If you would like to proceed with this transaction please forward me your photo with today’s date so I know that you are who you claim to be. I am careful when conducting transactions over the internet.

As a lifelong fan of the “choose your own adventure” genre – I offer you, the humble reader, the chance to influence my relationship with Miss Miller – should I follow up this email with a marriage proposal, should I raise the aforementioned, preagreed percentage for my services? What other mischief is possible? That is entirely up to you.


Rugby cuts off Grothe

If I had written the HTML programming language it would have included a “rant” tagline.

Robyn won’t like this post. For all her great qualities she is, somewhat unfortunately, a fan of Rugby Union. Many fans of Rugby Union will tell you that it is the game they play in heaven – and if that’s the case I’d seriously think about trading in Christianity for Buddhism (ok, well I wouldn’t really do that it was more a piece of poetic license). They’ll argue that “at its best” it’s a flowing game full of skilled attacking forays and deft passing, and that it’s driven by tactics and nuance… Rugby, in my experience, is played “at its best” about once every four years, in the early rounds of the world cup when professional teams put the minnows to the sword. Rugby is typically a slow game marred by stoppages, incessant scrums, tiresome rucking and mauling, and ridiculous nonsensical penalties. My main gripe with Rugby stems not from the superiority complex it suffers from, my problem is their inability to develop talent capable of playing at the highest level. Rugby fans will cite the crowds at Super 14 games and test matches as evidence that it’s a popular game – television ratings tell another story. Rugby is unwatchable for the layperson and numbers don’t lie – Rugby League continues to be the most successful televised sport in New South Wales and Queensland. Club rugby can not hope to compete with club League – so they try to compare apples and oranges by taking a representative competition (Super 14) and comparing it with a national club competition – of course a NSW team should pack out a stadium… but they should also be able to win the odd game or two. Rugby Union likes to sign league players as PR stunts. These players will inevitably be picked for state teams at the expense of properly trained junior rugby union stars – and will possibly be contractually guaranteed the opportunity to play for Australia. The list of League to Union converts is a long one, the list of success stories is markedly shorter. From a list including talented athletes Mat Rogers, Lote Tuquiri, Wendell Sailor, Brad Thorn, Andrew Walker, Clinton Shifcofske – only Tuqiri is still playing international rugby – and this isn’t due to a lack of quality on the field. Rogers, Thorn and Walker got sick of union and went back to league – Walker and Sailor were both busted for cocaine use. Shifcofske should never ever play for Australia (he was once a drug cheat too – which suggests Union isn’t picky when it comes to their desperation to get one up on their league counterparts). Tuquiri recently re-signed with the Waratahs in a massive deal, and they followed that signing with a million dollar deal to lure Timana Tahu across the chasm. League players (particularly backs) get notoriously bored in the 15 man code so they have to pay them heaps more to keep them. Paying league players this much to cross over is a foolish ploy to win a battle that rugby can not afford to be engaged in, and one that they’ll never win. Their game is too inaccessible to people not brought up on a staple diet of union. Those in the know (ie economist Michael Pascoe) suggest the ARU is in danger of sending itself broke, particularly with gate receipts plummeting as Australian teams fail and falter on the field. Eric Grothe Jr, son of the “Guru” has had an interestingly patchy league career including years in the “wilderness” spent “discovering” himself and playing guitar. He’s big and mobile and he’s a gifted athlete – but the ARU has decided enough is enough and they’re going to invest their money in development – hopefuly that comes too late and union dies the slow and painful death it deserves.


Carbon Dating

STA travel has jumped on the climate change bandwagon with the sale of carbon neutralised round the world travel packages. For just $260 you can travel the world guilt free with the knowledge that you’re doing your bit for the environment by cancelling out your portion of carbon emissions from the trip.

Carbon neutralisation is all the rage, my high school science education taught me that photosynthesis is the process by which trees turn carbon dioxide into oxygen. Planting trees strikes me as an environmentally and scientifically sound method of making activities carbon neutral. I can’t help but think that this is all a bit of a rort designed to prey on the environmentally gullible. I will not be carbon neutralising my flights any time soon, I may invest in a pot plant or two to do my bit for the environment. Carbon trading is an interesting economic concept – and the idea that heavy industry will be able to buy other business’s carbon points to cover their excess emitions strikes me as more than a little odd, why not try to cut down emissions? Anyway, as I’ve indicated, I’m no scientist, nor am I an economist, I am however a PR machine and an ideas man… and so I give you the latest of my get rich quick schemes which is almost guaranteed to succeed while preying on the gullible…

The only thing I can think of that’s as popular currently as carbon trading schemes is internet dating. A number of my colleagues are registered with various internet dating sites including RSVP.com.au and similar online hook-up joints. It strikes me that this is a further opportunity for de-carbonisation – another would be removing the carbon from carbonated soft drinks… I give you Carbon Dating – in fact, I gave it to RSVP.com.au via their “Suggestions and Feedback” form with the following email, I will let you know if I get a response:

Hello friends at RSVP,
I’m not currently looking for a date, nor have I used internet dating services in the past. I know people who have and congratulate you on providing such an essential service.
In this age of environmental responsibility and carbon trading I would like to make a suggestion which may allow you to tap into a new niche market of clients – Carbon Dating. I would suggest that you offer in your membership packages, the chance for new and existing members to carbon neutralise their dates – maybe suggest tree planting or light bulb installing as great first date options… the possibilities are endless. Not only would this be a terrific PR activity (I believe it would be a world first), but it would also be a chance to demonstrate your commitment to tackling climate change.
I have several ideas for how this could be implemented further and would be more than happy to come on board as a consultant. I will be keeping records of this correspondence to demonstrate intellectual property ownership and look forward to discussing this with you in the future. I believe this could be the greatest single step towards responsible dating since the introduction of contraception.
I can be contacted initially by email at the above address and look forward to your return correspondence.
Thank you for your time.

Wrestling for power

There are a number of high profile elections happening at the moment – with the Australian Federal Election on the horizon, the election of US Presidential candidates (note – not the election of the US President – that’s not until 2008) in full swing and the New South Wales state elections entering the penultimate stage with voting due any time now – nobody really seems into the whole thing, I guess that’s what happens when an election features two candidates nobody really wants to vote for.

I’ve mentioned the fact that I enjoy professional wrestling before, I’m not entirely sure who’s to blame for this, but living with Tim has done nothing to cure me of this affliction – but it seems wrestling has entered into the realm of politics.
The Sydney Morning Herald has produced a multimedia pre-vote analysis of the impending NSW election treating ballot day as a drawn out bout in the squared circle of the wrestling ring.

Japanese pro wrestler Masano Murakawa (pictured left) is set to contest a no holds barred* campaign to become the governor of Iwate. The masked wrestler has been serving the local assembly for several years and will keep his face covered if elected.

Smackdown’s luchadore** Rey Mysterio (pictured below) – a lifelong ambassador for the Detroit 619 Area Code is said to be weighing up his political options.***

Funnily enough while being a wrestling internet geek in some spare time (while I should have been asleep) the other night – I discovered that Shaun Morley – aka Val Venis – is a political animal promoting the concept of “freetarianism” which, from what I can gather, is the belief that there should be no laws whatsoever.

* Originally a wrestling term
** Mexican category of wrestler, famed for being masked until loosing a “mask vs mask” match against another luchadore…
*** By me for comedic purposes…

Oh, and guess what, the jury is in – Krispy Kremes are bad for you… who’d have thunk it.

EDIT: And now, by popular demand in a triumph of amateur photoshop and/or through the hard work of Australia’s political paparazzi (they’re out there – just ask Latham)… I give you… K-Rudd, the masked wrestler:


Hilarity ensues

I know I said at the end of my last post that I’d be posting my forecasts for the year to come in “tomorrow’s” post. Clearly I was referring to tomorrow as an abstract concept… It won’t be in today’s post either – I’m about to go to bed ahead of a very early morning trip to Cairns to drive some Japanese tourism VIPS to Townsville.

As I was making sure I had my head around directions and stuff once I get to Cairns and pick up my hire car I stopped in to check my email only to discover that the site You Have Bad Taste In Music has a new video up where the host with the curiously reversable name “Eman Laerton” has confronted John Mayer fans with a game of teakettle – a truly wonderful celebration of the homophone. Here’s a Youtube example of his previous work…

After a previous post Eman Laerton promised to launch stage 2 of his master plan to capitalise on the emergence of convergence – the use of the internet as a source of media content – the John Mayer effort contains a sneak peak of stage 2 – Church Across America – and while I’m not prepared to endorse the content (because I haven’t seen it yet), it may be worth a look when it goes live.

I also caught a particularly funny television show – Balls of Steel – on the Comedy Channel the other day… The Annoying Devil has to be the funniest character on television… there’s a slight language warning on this one, and my favourite bit is about 4 minutes in…

One year on

Today is the first anniversary of my first post and obviously it has been a particularly interesting year for me. Today marks a year since my second last day in Brisbane – so as of tomorrow I’ll have been a Townsville resident for a whole year. As this is a celebratory post of some kind I’ll use it to reflect on my year and give general feedback on all the goings on… kind of like a report card. I’ll compare my expectations with the delivery – this all feels like some sort of psyhcometric analysis or something. I read a story lately about a business lecturer who is worried about the corporate trend to incorporate such testing in their recruitment strategies. He gives his students a psych test and then hands them a printed results page which 95% of students agree identifies key personality traits – then he tells them they’ve all got the same photocopied sheet.

Reflections and Forecasts
At the end of the year I put out a series of media releases for each division of our business with reflections and forecasts – basically a list of our successes from the previous year and a prediction of future successes – I haven’t gone back to see how our reflections matched my predecessor’s forecasts but I’ll do that with my forecasts from last year’s post:

“So here you have my thoughts on my impending departure: I am simultaneously
excited and nervous (I’m not sure what the adjectival form of the word
trepidation is but I would have used it there, maybe trepidated?)”

I’d say that while I was a little nervous about my relocation last year posts from the last couple of weeks probably suggest that I’m fairly settled up here. And I am. While I do miss friends, family, chuch, outdoor soccer and I’m sure there are other things – they have mostly been more than adequately replaced with new friends, indoor soccer (we’re back to back A-Grade mixed champions), work, and Robyn. Who is the obvious success story of my year.

“I’m really looking forward to starting my new job with Townsville Enterprise, who you can find here.”

Boy was I right on this count. I really enjoy my job. Townsville Enterprise is a diverse organisation representing a diverse region. Townsville is a great city – I may be paid to say that, and I am a bit of a mercenary when it comes to my loyalty in these matters – but it’s easy to sell and I truly enjoy the stuff I get to do for work (helicopter flights, sailing trips, island holidays and lots and lots of food).

“I’m looking forward to meeting new people. I just didn’t think it would be
that hard to say goodbye to old people but on the upside it’s not like I’m dying
and there’s always me in blog form if you miss me too much.”

I have met new and fun people through church, work and various networks of people. And I certainly do exist in blog form. In a year I’ve managed 149 posts – that’s one every 2.4 days and more than 82,000 words filled with ranting, ruminations, stupid theories and updates on my life. That’s about the equivalent of 2 Mills and Boons novels and probably every bit as valuable.

Here’s a bit of gratuitous bragging in list form to summarise the “year that’s been”…

1. Relocated 1465km (by road – but I flew) to Townsville
2. Met Robyn, convinced Robyn I was a nice guy, proposed to Robyn, became engaged to Robyn
3. Generated $35 million of positive media coverage for Townsville – my original target was $20 million.
4. Had a full page story printed in the Financial Review with a byline
5. Broke a story that made the front page of the Courier Mail, scored 5 minutes coverage on Hamish and Andy and went international… about “cat poo” coffee.
6. Consumed an estimated 30 steaks “on the job”
7. Won back-to-back Mixed A-Grade indoor soccer titles
8. Went deep sea fishing on the Great Barrier Reef, flying in a helicopter, sailing on a schooner, holidaying on the island the XXXX ads are screened on, ate crocodile and other fancy things at a $200 gala dinner, stared down a Japanese tourist suffering dope fuelled psychosis and drank a $50 cat poo coffee – all in the name of “work”
9. Set up Donna and Aaron (I’m actually very proud of that).
10. Kept a pet fish alive for a whole year (almost – actually I inherited the fish from Cam Bell, we killed two crayfish – indirectly – the fish actually is mostly responsible for the demise of the second cray) in a tank bought at a garage sale on an early Townsville adventure – along with the Bob Hawke head drink dispenser which now sits proudly on my desk at home. I also killed an echidna…

Forecasts will follow in tomorrow’s post.


The Silly Season

Traditionally the “silly season” has been a term loosely applied to the period of time at the end of the year when contract deals are struck and players throw the good ol’ fashion concept of loyalty out the window as they shop and shill their wares to the highest bidder. The silly season extended well into the early weeks of this year with the Steve Turner saga dragging on until everyone was well and truly sick of it – and just when you thought the lowest depths had been plumbed, a story like this one emerges to remind you just how trivial sport can be. That’s right – South Sydney aren’t letting go of Mr Adam MacDougall until he returns a gift to owner Russell Crowe – did Rusty lend him a multimillion dollar condo? a car worth six figures? a poem? No – he gave him a small silver bunny worth $2000 – and he wants it back, or a player he basically sacked won’t be allowed to take the field for his new club.


Footy tipping tips for people who have no interest in the game

Some would say that speaking without thinking is fraught with danger – not so, says I. Footy tipping on instinct is a sure fire way to the top of the office tipping charts – but which instincts do we trust – and where do we turn a blind eye?

In my day to day conversations with people from all walks of life – be it the traditional office “water cooler” conversation, or random eavesdropping via discretely planted listening devices I’ve discovered a shared concern regarding footy tipping protocol and how to “back a winner” – While I have a proven track record as a failed tipper – more inclined to tip with heart than head, I am a trained observer and have kept records of a number of successful oddball methods guaranteed to spice up your weekly efforts.

The Inter-Mascot Blood Bath

Method One is the much maligned but highly successful strategy of imagining each match as a death match between mascots. This approach has anecdotal supporting evidence (some would say circumstantial) when it comes to the plight of the aptly inept South Sydney Rabbitohs. (A bunny of course is unlikely to experience success against anything but the most out of comfort opponent, unfortunately the Canberra Carrots missed out to the much more intimidating Raiders.

What must be considered at this point is the “home field” advantage – a Shark (Cronulla) does not enjoy the biological advantage over a tiger (West Tigers) on land that it would in an aquatic setting, while in reversed circumstances the tables turn somewhat – this is a vital consideration when entering your tips. The Storm obviously have a natural advantage over all but the Titans (who enjoy some godlike control over the elements) – however some storms are less serious and deadly than others and certain teams enjoy natural protection (the Eels, Sharks and potentially the Knights – provided their armour is stainless steel – a must for modern chivalry. The electrical conductivity of stainless steel is an issue which would require a more scientific mind). Under this methodology “human” teams (Knights, Raiders, Cowboys, Warriors, Titans) have an advantage over most other teams at home – however will probably struggle when it comes to those who can attack unseen in their home territory (Dragons, Eels, Sharks, Panthers, Bulldogs, Tigers… potentially the Broncos – although stampedes are rare and rodeo related casualties are rarities these days). The Sea Eagles can attack from the air with sharp talons and beady eyed eagerness, but even the humble Bulldog could cause them great pain in confined spaces. The Rabbitohs and Roosters will be lucky to win a game – but that’s probably a fair reflection of reality.

So for Round 1:

The Storm should blow the Tigers away

The Broncos will buck the Cowboys in a bruiser

The Warriors will harpoon the Eels

The Sharks will snap the Panthers

The Sea Eagles will peck the eyes out of the Raiders

The Knights will cut the Bulldogs to pieces

The Dragons will roast the Titans

The Roosters and Rabbitohs will haplessly wander around until either the bunny develops Monty Pythonesque properties or the Roosters get their talons in…

Until next time – happy tipping.

Incontinence and death threats

During a recent trip south I discovered that my family no longer take the time to visit my blog because I don’t talk enough about myself. I’m trying to rectify this situation so this post will be all about life in Townsville.

I’ve now been engaged for a week – with a preliminary wedding date set for September, I calculate I have about 27.5 weeks left of being engaged so I plan to enjoy it while it lasts – I plan to only ever be engaged once so it’s a very small window to enjoy such a unique position. The announcement of my engagement hasn’t been well received in all circles – a seven year old student from Robyn’s school is so distraught at her engagement that he’s threatened to kill me – it turns out he was planning to marry her in quite a few years. If it comes down to a mono-a-mono knife fight or something I’m pretty confident I can take him so I’m not overly worried. Robyn tells me he’s a James Bond fan so he may know all sorts of spy moves – so I’m alert but not alarmed.

As a writer with an underlying perfectionist streak I know the frustration of sending documents with embarrasing typos – I occasionally notice incoherent syntax or poor grammar in my press releases after I send them, so it was with great pleasure that I received the following email the other day, followed by a recall attempt that came a little bit too late…

“Lyn also advises that we will only run a market with there is a potential
600-700 passengers. Apologies for the incontinence. I have forwarded
the information to CBD Promotions so they can let the traders

I thought that was very funny and it’s been a while since I included any toilet humour in my blog.

It’s also been a while since I posted any music reviews so I just want to give a plug for two CD’s I bought recently – Josh Pyke’s “Memories and Dust” is spectacular lyric driven harmonious guitar pop – it’s the first almost perfect album I’ve bought since Muse’s Absolution. I also picked up The Shins “Wincing the Night Away” which is another great album and well worth a listen. They are both heartilly endorsed by this writer.

I’ve just set up the Townsville Enterprise footy tipping comp for this year’s NRL competition – I’m looking forward to teaching my co-workers a thing or two about the might of the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles who I expect to do very well this season. There will be much gloating if I manage to reach the upper echelons amongst a group of die hard Cowboys supporters and apathetic pundits. I will be providing a weekly “expert” form guide to my colleagues which may even become a regular feature on this ‘ere blog.

The hows and whys of communication

Sometimes I start writing these blog entries with no actual idea what I’m going to write about… I find it makes for an interesting writing experience – that’s not necessarily duplicated for the reader. Today I thought I’d share a little bit about “the writing process” – or at least, my writing process. This was a decision I made just then. And by just then I mean half way through writing the sentence “Today I thought I’d share…” I decided I’d write about the writing process. I often wonder how other people frame their thoughts – I frame mine as written text – or at least, as text that I would then be able to reproduce in written form. Sometimes as I’m framing these thoughts I rewrite them – but once they’re down on paper I find it very hard to express them in any other manner – this makes me a terrible editor of my own work (except for spelling or grammatical errors – then it’s only pride that gets in the way). There are a number of “stream of consciousness” artists out there – Darren Hanlon, The Streets and others who simply record their thoughts about a particular issue – I would define myself as a stream of consciousness writer – what you see and read is what I think. And how I think. I would say I have a fairly fluent internal monologue which means I’m able to get my thoughts onto paper in written form fairly quickly. I’ve explored the topic of how I think before – this is the applied version – so it’s not completely unoriginal. I’ve been told by some people that they think in numbers and others that they think in images. I think thinking about how people think is essential for good communication – be it in the media, in politics, in teaching or preaching – any communication needs to be focused at the audience at hand – this means a publication for a mixed readership will need to use different language to a specialised niche magazine – this may be obvious, but I think a lot of communicators have missed the point. Based on recent speeches and media interviews I’d say the left is cottoning on to the necessity of clear communication much faster than the right – K-Rudd , Paul Keating, and Barack Obama in the US have all put in sterling communication performances – they all have the ability to articulate a point without resorting to jargon. Since taking on the leadership K-Rudd has demonstrated an improvement in this area – check out this extract from an interview in 2002…

“We are not even to the first stage of UN Security Council resolution setting a deadline for the readmission of inspectors let alone a subsequent resolution, which would then make a determination about whether free and unfettered access had been given.And, furthermore, that article 42 of the council, collective action by the council, would have to be exhausted as well.”

Or this one from 2005:

“In the case of Annette Hurley, the person who has come into the Parliament from South Australia has enormous experience in the South Australian Parliament before coming to Canberra. It’s not as if this person arrives as some sort of neophyte with no experience at all.”

Rudd has to work hard not to isolate the electorate with his prim and proper vocab and it looks like his image consultants are working overtime.

The Coalition have had a few stumbles in the campaign to date with John Howard a notably dismal performer – their star has always been Peter Costello – a few viewings of parliamentary question time will demonstrate his capabilities as an orator – this interview is a classic example of his ability to simplify the complex – and his ability to retort and riposte in the face of the most vitriolic barbs.

At the end of the day – as Benny so clearly points out – while how you say things is important – it’s what you say that really counts…

“I dont like the way Rudd talks. I watch him on umm whats that abc show on at night at 10:30ish…Lateline? But yeh I dont like the way he talks at all. I have grown to hate the word “folly”. To me, yeh he talks smart and proper and all (i meant to sound hicklike then), but to me he almost seems to do it without conviction. To me he still hasnt reached far enough with setting and talking about policy.”

War of words

I have a confession – I’m a closet boxing fan. Not a fan of boxing within the confines of a closet – although I’d probably watch that – but a fan of the corrupt world of professional boxing. My love for all things pugilistic was inspired by the Power of One – the third most influential book I’ve read behind the Bible, and the Godfather (how I reconcile the influence of those three somewhat disparate books is a mystery even to me). I like boxing – the way the blood and sweat fly off a man’s face when a bruising right hook lands… it appeals to my inner caveman. So it is with great joy that I read today that two of my former league heroes – Solomon Haumono and John Hopoate, Manly’s Tongan bash brothers from the mid 90s – are considering a heavyweight clash of the titans. There’s something romantic about two lifelong friends (who celebrate Christmas together) jumping in the squared circle (ring) and trying to beat the daylights out of one another hoping to emerge as friends. That for me is what boxing is all about – that and the constant sledging, gambling, corruption, fixed bouts, flamboyant promoters, David and Goliath battles, and rags to riches “I trained in a shed with just a canvas bag dreaming of this day” storylines that go with boxing like things that go together really well (my similes today are suffering from an inability to form corroborative nouns).

If this bout does eventually go ahead my concerns are with the less syllablically endowed John Hopoate – largely due to a new theory I’m formulating linking boxing success with the number of syllables in a boxer’s name. Think about it – As Cassius Clay (4 syllables) Muhammad Ali (5 syllables) was a shadow of his future self. But the theory doesn’t stop there – I’m yet to conduct extensive research but my early studies show that the top 15 WBA Heavyweight boxers have an average of 5 syllables between them (First and Surname only – WBA Heavyweight champion Nikolai Vladimirovich Valuev would be unbeatable otherwise – the fact that he’s 7 feet tall and weighs 150kg is not a factor). Unless John Hopoate (5 syllables) starts billing himself as Jonathan Hopoate (7 syllables) he’s in trouble against Solomon Haumono (6 syllables). Here’s my WBA evidence…

World Title Holder – NICOLAY VALUEV – (Ni-col-ay Val-u-ev) – 6 syllables
1. RUSLAN CHAGAEV – (Rus-lan Cha-ga-ev) – 5 Syllables
2. RAY AUSTIN – 3 syllables
3. SULTAN IBRAGIMOV – (Sul-tan ib-ra-gi-mov) – 6 Syllables
4. SERGUEI LIAKHOVICH – (Ser-gui Li-ak-hov-ich) 6 syllables
5. DAVARYLL WILLIAMSON – (Dav-ar-yll Will-iam-son) 6 Syllables
6. JOHN RUIZ – 3 syllables
7. WLADIMIR VIRCHIS – (Wlad-i-mir Vir-chis) 5 Syllables
8. MIKE MOLLO 3 Syllables
9. HASIM RAHMAN 4 Syllables
10. TARAS BIDENKO – (Tar-as Bid-en-ko) 5 syllables
11. ALEXANDER DIMITRENKO – (Al-ex–an-der Di-mit-ren-ko) 8 Syllables
12. LAMON BREWSTER – 4 Syllables
13. KALI MEEHAN 4 Syllables
14. JEAN-FRANCOIS BERGERON (Jean Fran-cois Ber-ger-on) – 6 Syllables
15. EVANDER HOLYFIELD (E-van-der Ho-ly-field) 6 Syllables

The average number of syllables is 5 – the average for the top 5 boxers is 5.2 – pretty convincing evidence if you ask me – but you didn’t… Even fictional boxers have the edge over their lesser nominally endowed rivals – Rocky Balboa (5 syllables) fought the following – ignoring the Rocky Balboa comeback fight with Mason Dixon (4 syllables):

Spider Rico (4 Syllables)
Apollo Creed (4 Syllables)
Thunderlips (3 Syllables – Hulk Hogan – 3 syllables)
Clubber Lang (3 syllables)
Ivan Drago (4 syllables)
Tommy Gunn (3 syllables)

So there you have it – compelling evidence methinks… But remember – when a TV show tells you “don’t try this at home” they mean it.

Engaging in conversation

Readers rejoice – for one day only “Nathan in Townsville” is not a misnomer. I finally have something personally newsworthy to report. As of about 10pm last night I am officially “engaged to be married” – I proposed to my very wonderful and exceedingly beautiful girlfriend (now fiance) on the banks of the Ross River at Thuringowa’s Riverway. This was the spot where I’d asked Robyn out some seven months before. For those wanting all the gory details read on – for those who would rather read about wholesale police slaughter of deranged cows, read here – I rang Robyn’s dad on Tuesday to ask for his blessing and permission to marry his daughter, having secured that I set about planning the occasion. We’re going to my “home town” of Maclean this weekend and I had her vaguely suspecting that I’d be proposing there – she knew I had ordered a ring because she’d given me specific instructions on the type of ring she wanted. I was pretty keen to surprise her though so formulated a plan involving sleight of hand, distraction and all the other elements of pulling off a successful shock proposal. Before I called Robyn’s folks I’d asked her to find out which afternoons her dad would be free for a chat this week. Citing “things to do” I stayed at home on Tuesday afternoon and put in the most nerve wracking phone call of my life. She called that evening and told me that he’d be available for a chat any night this week. Last night we had dinner at her place for bible study, at about 9:30 I suggested we should go somewhere – we got in the car and headed off for an adventure – ending up on a wooden jetty at the new cultural precinct where I promptly bended the knee and popped the question – she said yes.

So that’s my news.

Tomorrow I’ll post my extensively researched theory on the link between success and the number of syllables in a boxer’s name… riveting stuff.

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An Inconvenient Truth

K-Rudd has been caught with his proverbial pants down on Burkegate. This is an event clearly worthy of “gate” status. More details about MPs from both sides of the fence meeting with the shady former WA premier (and convicted felon) turned lobbyist will probably come to light this week and I’m tipping more casualties following the resignation of Ian Campbell. John Howard wants to make distinctions between ministers and MPs, and leaders and followers – which is fair enough to an extent, but there’s really no need to be meeting with someone like Burke. Lobbying is an interesting kettle of fish. It’s where politicians get their lurks and perks. Doctors get their fancy meals from pharmaceutical companies eager to secure future business – politicians get theirs from representatives of industries, interest groups and professional power brokers who are likewise eager to secure something for nothing (or for a meal – politicians are expected to sing for their supper). Benny reckons lobbying is an essential part of the democratic process –

“I love lobbying. i think its how things should work. lobbying and interest
groups should demonstrate the facts, views and opinions. the members of
parliament should act as mediators and decision makers. the MPs should take in
all the information to make rational and logical decisions. lobbying is part of
this process.”

I agree to an extent but I think professional lobbying probably circumvents the political process and ties up access to politicians from the run of the mill members of their electorate – the fact that my employers work as a lobby group backed by the collective might of our members from the North Queensland business community doesn’t bother me – but when you’ve got a disproportionate amount of funding (lobbying) poured into the exercise by an unpopular lobby group (say advocates for nuclear power) might have a disproportionate impact on the political process.

The political machinations behind Burkegate are fascinating – Ian Campbell’s decision to resign – or the decision for him to resign – was a masterful manoeuvre from Howard. Finding the moral high ground in the murky realm of politics will be an important step in the upcoming elections. If it’s going to be a “morals” debate the Coalition need to have their position on issues like AWB, the Iraq conflict and Hicks firmly entrenched on the “right” side (as opposed to wrong, rather than left) – Rudd probably has the advantage in terms of positioning because it’s much easier to criticise government than to govern. This scandal could go a long way towards undermining his integrity – but it could also burn the government if it comes out that more coalition MPs have met with Burke in the past.

It’s an interesting time in politics with the battle of who cares raging in New South Wales and Debnam resorting to physical comparisons with James Bond. The US race for preselection (it’s not even the real thing yet) is heating up with candidates from both major parties vying to outdo their own colleagues (with the amount of muck they spend throwing around within the parties it’s a wonder that any new stuff comes up in the actual campaign) – my early favourite Barack Obama is polling well and catching up to the “impossible to like even though she stood by her husband in America’s largest sex scandal” Hillary Clinton. The Democrats have the opportunity to make history with their leading candidates a female and an African American male – Joe says the Republicans should kill two birds with one stone by endorsing Condoleezza Rice.

In other news – I tried the spectacular “cat poo” coffee last week, I’m not sure I’d pay $50 a cup, but it’s an amazing brew, so smooth and sweet – without the standard bitter bite of a regular cuppa.

LarkNews – a good source for “Christian News” has been updated – my favourite story for this edition is the debate on whether the word “sucks” is appropriate for church – for those of you who have trouble differentiating between fact and fiction, please note that this is parody.