Thursday, February 03, 2005

News of the day

I came across a variety of stories in my wanderings around the Web this morning.

The Pope has been auditioning for a remake of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. I think he needs to work on the horrified expression. He looks too happy.

We've been having our own bird problem. We feed the local sparrows on the garden wall, and in winter they get very demanding. We started this as a way to attract more interesting birds to the garden, like the bulbuls and warblers we see occasionally, but it backfired. We are now regularly visited by a tribe of hungry sparrows and two very stupid turtledoves. When the weather is cold the sparrows are particularly insistent, and congregate noisily in the tree, waiting for us to feed them. When we go outside and walk over to the wall, under the tree, they get so excited they tend to lose control of their bowels.

Yesterday I came home and there were several dozen sparrows waiting in the tree, as usual, but a few shy birds were reluctant to come too close and waited over on a neighbour's house instead, watching me beadily. My camera doesn't have a great zoom, but I got a picture of them anyway.

In other news, if this Antarctic ice sheet disintegration business carries on we'll be looking for a new place to live, preferably on a hill. Living below sea level probably isn't very wise when the sea levels are threatening to rise five meters. I am confused about this, however, because in another story a glaciologist says that despite the retreat of ice in the Bay of Whales, recent research shows the Ross Ice Shelf “is either stable or even advancing slightly.” I'm guessing the Ross Ice Shelf is not the one they're talking about in the first story, but they don't say. I will be keeping an eye on Real Climate to see what they have to say about these stories. Maybe they can explain it all to me.

And finally, good news for bald men. You are cleverer than the rest of us. Dear Leader says so. You do not have hair sucking energy from the nerves in your head and hampering your brain activity.


Anonymous said...

Badaunt, out of all the blog-sites I've got saved, yours is my absolute FAVVVVVorite. You really need to publish a book; move over, Erma Bombeck, and make room for your new competitor! :) Thanx 4 regaling someone who's got an intractable chronic disorder that entails lots of bedrest.

About the birds being so demanding, feeling entitled to massive handouts: isn't it ironic how that mirrors what happens with the classes who get welfare? That whole system spawns a mentality of "State-aid is our divinely-ordained right, and you'd BETTER give it to us!!!!!!" Strange how nature is full of parables...



Badaunt said...

I'm very happy that you enjoy my writing. I'm not too sure about writing a book, though - if it were WORK, I'm afraid I'd stop enjoying myself and procrastinate, like I do with everything else!

Re the welfare thing, I'm in two minds about it. I know that there are always people who will abuse the system, and I wish they wouldn't! They are the ones we hear about the most, I suspect. They make us all angry, as we are when our generosity is abused. On the other hand, there are those who need the system (the majority of those who use it, I suspect), and who would not survive without it.

I think one of the admirable things about human societies is that we do take care of our weaker members. Or at least civilized societies do. And I'm not sure how you can judge who is 'deserving' of help and who is not. I think I'd rather there was some unfairness than that there was no welfare system, or a stringently means-tested welfare system.

In NZ there is (or at least used to be) a system called the ACC (the Accident Compensation Commission) which compensates people who have accidents. It's a no-fault thing, which means that you can get compensation for the consequences of accidents that were your own silly fault. This means there is some unfairness, but I prefer it that way - if you start judging you have to judge EVERYBODY, and it becomes too expensive and time-consuming, and you get all the bitterness and nastiness of personal suing and long drawn-out court cases and so on. ACC keeps it simple. Everybody pays in - it's a part of your taxes - and everybody benefits if they have an accident. I don't think it is possible to make life 'fair', and being generous to the idiots amongst us isn't too expensive or painful. After all, we're all idiots occasionally, right?

Also, I have personal experience of being in need of some sort of help here in Japan, where it is not available except in very restricted situations (not mine!) and had to live for two years on no income at all. I survived through the generosity of my friends, basically. A Japanese friend who has chronic health problems survives only because her friends support her, and before they found out and did start supporting her, her health got a lot worse over several years. This is not an ideal situation.

This must be one of the longest comments I've ever made, on any blog!