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June, 2009:

Whacked-Out Wallabies

The BBC has a story about wallabies causing crop circles [^] in Tasmania’s opium poppy fields. Apparently the wallabies get into the fields and sample the produce. Under the influence they then bounce around in circles until they crash – result, natural crop circles.

Tasmania Poppy Field - Scottsdale Jan 1998

Northern Tasmania is one of the few places in world that poppies are legally-grown, with Australia producing around half of the world’s total output. The highly regulated opium poppies are used in the commercial production of codeine and morphine [^].

The above photo is a poppy field waiting to be harvested, taken near Scottsdale [^] during the CannibalRabbits Tour of Tasmania in January 1998. Yes, there is just a a normal farm fence, about waist-high, separating the field from the road – and a scary “Keep Out” sign!

PETA Wants Flying Fish Banned

Animal activist group PETA want to ban a century old custom in Seattle. The fishmongers in the city centre, Pike Place [^] markets have long practiced the art of throwing dead fish over the heads of customers and sightseers. That’s right; they throw dead fish, not live ones.

Pike Place Fish Co. #2 - Kyle & Kelly Adams

PETA’s desire to ban the practice was provoked by the American Veterinary Medical Association hiring of the fishmongers to perform a demonstration for their national convention in July. “Killing animals so you can toss their bodies around for amusement is just twisted,” said Ashley Byrne, senior campaigner for PETA. “And it particularly sends a terrible message to the public when vets call it fun to toss around the corpses of animals.”

The organisation not only wants to ban the exhibition, but would ultimately like to see the airborne movement of fish “corpses” in the market banned as well.

Jeremy Ridgway, one of the managers at the markets, says “I mean the fish are dead. The thing is we’re not laughing and making fun of them . . . It’s just Point A to Point B. That’s why we do it.”

The chief executive of the ACMA, W. Ron DeHaven, said “We support the use of animals for human purposes, such as food and fiber, exhibition and for use as pets and companions, and we think this is consistent with our principles. At the same time we wouldn’t want to do anything that would appear to be disrespectful of animals.”

What should be remembered here is that the fishmongers have a vested interest in ensuring that their product, fish “corpses” reach their customers in the best possible condition. If their treatment of the fish harmed them in any way then the practice would not have survived for the past century.

PETA seem to be using this event to campaign against the alleged cruelty of commercial fishing. We all need to realise that the production of meat, fish and poultry necessarily involves death and suffering by animals. This suffering is implicitly condoned and regulated by society. The regulation is an attempt to ensure that the death is as quick and humanely as possible, with minimal suffering. In choosing fights like this PETA only succeeds in opening itself up to ridicule.

Source: LA Times – Seattle’s Pike Place fishmongers under fire [^]

Photo Credit: "Pike Place Fish Co. #2 [^]" Kyle and Kelly Adams [^] CC-BY License

[Disclaimer – the CannibalRabbits and Corgi enjoy meat, poultry and fish]

Flat White

Make mine a flat white. At least now I have the recipe [^]:



It seems that this is mostly an Aussie [^] or Kiwi [^] variation of the classic caffé latte, and isn’t well known anywhere else. Even in the Antipodes some cafés manage to make a mess of this; one even served me a white instant coffee!

Lokesh’s infographics in would make a great selling point in any coffee shop.

Tiananmen Square

This week marked the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square uprising over democratic reforms in Beijing on 5th June, 1989.

NYT-Tiananmen Front Page

So effective has been the suppression of the events in Tiananmen Square even 20 years on this image is still not widely recognised by young people in China. Indeed China has cracked down to ensure that the anniversary is not commemorated, banning foreign reporters from the Square, and searching locals entering in (The Age – US urges inquiry [^]) to prevent any demonstrations.

The Lens, the photojournalism blog of the New York Times, has posted “Behind the Scenes: Tank Man of Tiananmen [^]”. It shows four photos from different viewpoints of a lone man facing a column of tanks. The post also gives the photographers the opportunity to report the event leading up to this moment, and the risks that they took to get the images out of China to the rest of the world in the pre-Internet age.

Interestingly, a photographer, Terril Jones, has come forward with “A New Angle on History [^]”. This a previously unseen view of the Tank Man, the only image taken from street level. Mr Jones did not realise until he had returned to Japan what he had managed to capture, and missed the opportunity to have the photo published. Thankfully, an appropriate moment has now arrived.

In “Classic Photo Redux” we posted a copy of Mike Stimpson’s Lego recreation of the NY Times front page photo. Anything that keeps the atrocities of two decades ago in everyone’s minds needs to be commended. Democratic reform in the world’s third largest economy still hasn’t happened.