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Friday, April 18, 2008


Thai's losing freedom

A report in Thai English-language newspaper, The Nation, states that 'protesters disrupting tomorrow's Olympic-torch relay will be arrested immediately and prosecuted for public disturbance...foreigners will be expelled and banned from returning.'

It seems the current government in Thailand is more interested in sucking up to the Chinese government than allowing their own people and visitors the right to freedom of expression—to express, if they wish, their solidarity with fellow Buddhists in Tibet.

A large proportion of the Thai population has Chinese blood—more than the Tibetans. It wouldn't be a huge step for the Chinese dictators to decide that Thailand too is part of China. If they could do it in Tibet, why not here?

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Monday, April 07, 2008


Does staring at boobs really make you live longer?

Not long ago a friend forwarded an email that claimed 'gazing at large breasts makes men healthier'. It quoted research by a German gerontologist, Dr Karen Weatherby published in the New England Journal of Medicine. 100 men were asked to spend 10 minutes a day looking at large breasts. It doesn't actually say but it seems to suggest that they mostly looked at pictures. And 100 were asked to avoid this activity.

The test lasted five years and the boob gazers presented a lower blood pressure, slower resting pulse rates and decreased risk of coronary artery disease than those who abstained.

This raised a few questions for me:

1. Should this be a compulsory activity for all men?
2. What about looking at a relaxing scene from nature? What effect would that have? It only says the control group abstained from looking at large breasts. Wouldn't it have made sense to have another group looking at pictures that are pleasant in some other way?
3. Is the whole thing a hoax?

Your intrepid blogger decided to use the internet to get to the bottom (no pun intended) of this. First I searched 'men staring breasts'. I got quite a few hits quoting Dr Weatherby's research. One was even from the London Times newspaper. But the New England Journal of Medicine was not among them. I went to the NEJM website and searched it. Karen Weatherby's name gave me nothing. And 'men staring breasts' also came up with no relevant articles.

I then went to snopes, the site that busts urban legends, and found this.

Sorry guys. It's a hoax. Dr Weatherby doesn't exist and the research never happened. You'll have to find some other excuse.

And the London Times? It was a reputable newspaper once. So who owns it now?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


Have I lost my passport again?

My shorts have pockets on the sides with two velcro tabs. I figure that should be a pretty safe place to keep my passport, assuming I'm wearing them. I have always felt comfortable keeping my passport there. Sure it does stand out and looks a little like a wallet but could someone lift both of those velcro tabs and take the passport without me noticing? Surely not.

But yesterday when I was leaving for my Thai class my passport wasn't in my drawer. I checked Saturday's shorts in case I'd left it there. I often do that. But no, not this time.

At Chatuchak Market there are signs everywhere warning of pickpockets. I was quite aware of that. I reassured myself that they would go for the easy target. I had a mobile phone on my belt and a camera around my neck. Surely they are more obvious and accessible than my passport? Apparently not because I still have them and my passport is missing.

I'm not exactly excited about going through the process of replacing it. One of the legacies we have from the Howard government is a loser-pays policy which fines the victim when passports are lost or stolen more than once in five years. Obviously a perpetual traveller like me is more at risk than someone who travels only on their holidays. Long term readers of this blog will be aware that I had two passport thefts in Malaysia about four years ago. The 'fine', on top of the usual passport fee, is $A200. This is on top of the inconvenience of getting a photograph in a foreign country to suit the extremely strict Australian passport requirements. Plus having to go through the process of getting the visa again. Not yet sure what that entails.

Let's hope it turns up somewhere in the next day or so. I doubt it though. I've already turned my room upside down completely.

From now on I'll get into the habit of carrying a photocopy and leaving my passport in a safe place. I recommend other travellers do the same.

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