Archive for February 19th, 2012

Sympathy vote for Kevin

By now you have probably seen, or at the very least heard about, this video of Kevin Rudd swearing in frustration after he failed, multiple times, to read a script in Mandarin off a teleprompter.

(Warning: Language Alert. This video is NOT censored)

To put the situation in a bit of context, Kevin Rudd is not quite the master of Mandarin that some believe he is. He can speak the language to a passable extent and would be able to get by in most day-to-day conversations on normal, mundane topics, but he can not read the language. As such, when he was attempting to record this video for a Mandarin-speaking audience, the sound of the Mandarin had to be converted to English letters for him to be able to read it on the teleprompter. Unfortunately it seems that the people responsible for the speech have written the sentences in a more convoluted way than was absolutely necessary (in much the same way that it would have been simpler for me to write “Sadly the speech writers used more difficult language than they had to” in the sentence before this interjection) and this tripped Kevin up quite a bit.

As happens with most people who struggle to read a script for a recording, be it video or audio, Kevin got annoyed with himself.

I have to say that, the video as released, seems to work in Kevin Rudd’s favour. It elicits a sympathy vote as everyone has known for ages and ages that he has a temper, and the release of the video appears to be a malicious attempt to smear him by showing him to be even more prone to temper tantrums that was previously thought. I don’t think it was a malicious release though…I think it was made to look that way, but I think a Kevin Rudd supporter has released it to elicit a sympathy vote for the reason listed above, and for sympathy with his plight in struggling to read a foreign language aloud.

If this was truly a malicious leak, the bits of the video where Kevin Rudd appears to be declaring Mandarin to be a stupid and overly-complicated language would be more heavily emphasised, and the bits which clarify this to be about the way it has been written by the speech writers, and not about the Mandarin language itself, would have been removed.

Just the way it has been edited, and the interesting timing when the Labor Party leadership rumours and tensions are reaching fever pitch, makes it seem to me as if this is a concerted effort by someone, possibly with Kevin’s knowledge, but not necessarily with it, to boost Kevin Rudd’s popularity.

If polling is released later this week which shows that Kevin Rudd is immensely more popular than Julia Gillard, I will not be surprised; and if that happens then I fully expect a leadership challenge and an election to be called a short time thereafter in the hopes that a “honeymoon period” will carry Labor across the line without the need for tenuous support from Greens and independents. It does seem to be about the only hope Labor have right now based on recent polling trends.

Samuel

February 19th, 2012 at 05:24pm

The Sunday Bits for February 19, 2012

Depending on how I feel after work this afternoon, I have two announcements that I wish to share with you. If not this afternoon, then tomorrow. But right now, two “bits” for you.

***

First up today, proof that being a fast walker is good for you.

The speed someone walks may predict the likelihood of developing dementia later in life, according to researchers in the US.
[..]
Suggestions of a link between slow walking speed and poor health have been made before.

A study, published in the British Medical Journal in 2009, said there was a “strong association” between slow walking speed and death from heart attacks and other heart problems. A Journal of the American Medical Association study suggested a link between walking faster over the age of 65 and a longer life.

Dr Erica Camargo, who conducted the latest study at the Boston Medical Centre, said: “While frailty and lower physical performance in elderly people have been associated with an increased risk of dementia, we weren’t sure until now how it impacted people of middle age.”

Brain scans, walking speed and grip strength were recorded for 2,410 people who were, on average, 62 years old.

Results presented at the Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting said that 11 years later, 34 people had developed dementia and 79 had had a stroke.

The researchers said slower walking speeds were linked to a higher risk of dementia and stronger grip with a lower risk of stroke.

(h/t BBC News)

I have always been annoyed by people who walk slowly, or to be more precise, people who walk more slowly than me which, unfortunately for some, includes most people who walk at what would probably be considered a “regular pace”, although it has to be said that an ingrown toenail has slowed my pace a little bit of late.

I have always been a fast walker. Mum, when I was in the early years of primary school, was a slightly faster than normal walker, and I had to move my little legs very quickly in order to keep up. As I grew up and the length of my stride increased, this quick movement continued and as such my walking pace increased.

My primary school held a walkathon once per year as a fundraiser. I always quite enjoyed this as it gave me a chance to walk quickly and demonstrate my fast pace for an extended period of time. In year three I took this quite seriously and for the week leading up to the walkathon I would spend part of my lunch break practicing. I worked out a course which I calculated was approximately a quarter of the length of the Walkathon course (the Walkathon was around the perimeter of the school grounds whereas my course was around a section of the bottom ovals) and would walk around it as quickly as I could for a certain period of time (20 or 30 minutes). After this I would then calculate how many laps of the Walkathon I could complete in the allotted time if I walked at the pace of my practice session.

From memory, I worked out that I could complete nine laps, and this was how many I did complete that year. As years went by, I would usually complete nine or ten laps, and unfortunately if one completed ten laps, one was not permitted to continue.

In high school, there was no Walkathon in year seven, but there was one in year 8 which went around the west basin on Lake Burley Griffin. This was an all-day activity and, of the people who did not cheat by cycling, skating or running (these things were allowed by the teaching staff so as to ensure the attendance and involvement of most students, as large sections of the event were unsupervised and it would have been quite easy for students to walk to Civic if they wanted to) I was the first to complete the course. Unfortunately this course was a bit too long for most students to complete, and probably a bit too public, so in years nine and ten, the Walkathon was held around the bases of Mounts Ainslie and Majura, with an extra activity for the keen runners to run up Mount Majura. This course allowed staff to use shortcuts (which were blocked for students by staff-run checkpoints) which allowed them to more easily keep an eye on students. I continued my track record of fast-walking success in these Walkathons.

Unfortunately, possibly because it was impossible for teachers to actively monitor it, no awards were handed out for the first person to complete the course, or indeed for the first walker to complete the course…but I enjoyed it anyway and, as was usually the case for school sporting events, I ran my own imaginary television and radio coverage of it. I couldn’t really commentate on the Walkathons much as I needed my breaths for walking and not talking, but the other commentators continued in my head (and for the psychologists out there, yes, the radio does talk to me, that’s because it’s talk radio…and yes, it does tell me to do things: to buy stuff mostly).

In more recent times, dog-walking has kept me walking quickly, although Nattie tires quickly these days, so the fast walking doesn’t last long on those any more.

***

Towards the end of 2008, a colleague at 1WAY FM, most-mornings host Alison Goodwill, informed me that she had seen a photo of mine in the Canberra Times. She asked if I was aware of it and if I had been paid for it. On both counts the answer was “no”, but that was OK as most photos on this blog are allowed to be copied if attribution is given…none-the-less, I was curious. Alsion was unable to provide many details about when the photo had been published but did say that it was a picture of mountains, possibly of the Brindabellas. I was confused by this as I could not recall taking a decent photos of the Brindabellas at any time…I did take a photo once which was supposed to be of the Brindabellas but instead became a photo of roads and powerlines, with the Brindabellas off in the distance…I didn’t think it was likely that this photo had been published.

The photo which I didn't think had been published
The photo which I didn’t think had been published in the Canberra Times, from my 2005 blog post Kingswood Journey

Regardless, I was curious, and decided to go and check the Canberra Times archives at the National Library. I had to wait a while for the editions of the Canberra Times from late 2008 to be made available, but a few months later (I think it was in late 2009…I received a phone call from a friend as I was leaving the Library that day, but I don’t recall enough other details about the day other than it being a warm day to be certain) I went to the National Library and searched through a few months worth of the Canberra Times, but could not find any reference to me, or any photo which looked like it could have been taken by me.

It continued to bother me, and I did go back on another occasion for another look, but was once again unable to find anything.

Fast-forward to this year, and a few weeks ago I was archiving the old photo gallery (a blog post is coming about that as I have some technical details about the process which may be of interest…unfortunately it is a blog post which may take me a little bit of time to write and so it may be a few weeks until I can find the time to make it happen) and did a Google search for “photos.samuelgordonstewart.com” as I wanted to find a few direct links to various pages of the photo gallery so that I could test them and correct an issue which I was encountering. When I did that, I found a rather unexpected result on page 2.

Screenshot of Google Image Search results

The one at the bottom of that lot, to be exact.

Screenshot of Google Image Search results

I followed the link, which took me to a Canberra Times online article from the 14th of October, 2008, titled “Body found near Mount Taylor“.

Screenshot of the article on the Canberra Times website

See that photo over on the right?

Screenshot of the photo on the Canberra Times website

When I saw it, I recognised the photo straight away, even though the quality of it on the Canberra Times website is lower than the original photo. The photo in question is this one:

Photo of Mount Taylor

Somewhat ironically, this happens to be the photo directly above the photo I mentioned earlier in the Kingswood Journey blog post from 2005.

Screenshot of the photo in my blog post

Even though I was in the middle of another, somewhat more important task at the time, this excited me so I jotted down the date of the Canberra Times article and went on another trip to the National Library to see if I could find the photo in the paper. It took a little while, but I found the page in question. Page 9 of the October 15, 2008 edition.

The Canberra Times: Page 9, October 15, 2008.

As you can see, my photo is nowhere to be found. In fact, my photo isn’t in there at all. The article is though…it’s a brief story at the bottom of the column at the top-right of the page.

The brief article in The Canberra Times

So, after a tad over three years of mystery, it turns out that my photo was never used in the paper, but was used on the website of the Canberra Times to illustrate a brief story. I was given incorrect information, which is why I was unable to find it originally, and yet strangely was only one photo off in picking the photo which I thought may have been used.

I am quite amazed that photo which I took from a moving bus, and which really isn’t the most wonderful photo in the world, was the best photo that the folks at the Times could find of Mount Taylor at the time. It’s also slightly flattering in a strange way as well.

***

And with the case closed, I bid you a wonderful Sunday!

Samuel

February 19th, 2012 at 06:28am

Happy 70th Birthday John Kerr!

Today, the 19th of February 2012, marks the 70th birthday of Radio 2UE’s current longest-consecutively-serving presenter John Kerr. There are one or two others who started before John, but they have worked elsewhere in the interim.

John Kerr at Liquidity in 2007John’s current stint started in 1994 when he took over 2UE’s overnight syndicated program New Day Australia. John hosted the weekday edition of the show through until the end of 2005, and in 2006 took over the weekend edition of New Day Australia. John has occasionally filled-in on the weekday edition of the program since then and, until last year, regularly covered the Christmas Day 6am-midday shift. It is my understanding that John’s current contract provides him with certain lifestyle benefits while absolving him of the requirement to fill-in on other programs. John retains a loyal audience, despite not having as many affiliate stations as he did back when he was on the weekday show.

John has this weekend off, and I think he has next weekend off as well, which is great for him but unfortunate for me as it means that I can’t wait on hold for an hour and a half to wish him a happy birthday. I’m sure that John is having a wonderful break though, and it’s really fantastic that 2UE are able to give him time off for such a momentous occasion.

I have a present for John which I think he will really like, and I will be sending it to 2UE this week. There really is no point in sending it too soon as he won’t receive it until he next drops in to the 2UE studios, and I see no point in having certain foods which form the present spoil before he gets to them.

A very happy birthday John!

Samuel

(file photo: John Kerr at a listener lunch at Liquidity Restaurant in 2007.)

February 19th, 2012 at 03:14am


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