Breast cancer gets a guernsey at home of footbal

The Age reports this morning on the wonderful efforts of Breast Cancer Network of Australia CEO, Lyn Swinburne. Swinburne, herself a breast cancer survivor, has organised for 10,500 women wearing pink ponchos to gather on the hallowed turf of the Melbourne Cricket Ground (the home of Australian football) before the Melbourne – Adelaide match next friday evening.
As well as representing a fantastic opportunity to raise breast cancer awareness, this represents the broadening views of the Australian Footbal League which has worked very hard over recent years to present itself and the game as equally appealling to women as to men. was launched, nearly a year ago, with a (what we at least thought was a ) scathing attack on the sexual attitudes of some of the players in the AFL (two of who had just recently been accused of rape). Whilst we are convinced that sexist attitudes towards women are still prevalent amongst some sections of the playing group, we applaud the efforts of the league to bring a broader perspective to the game.
(The Age report also notes that 100 people will wear blue ponchos representing the number of men diagnosed with breast cancer annually.)
It’s almost enough to make us want to attend the game.

Enron – you learn more from failures than successes

From Applied Abstractions:

The Economist has a review of Kurt Eichenwald’s new book on Enron: Conspiracy of Fools : A True Story, finding that top management in Enron were duped by some of their direct reports. It reads like a thriller.

I’m just heading over to Amazon to add it to my wishlist.

Organisations Behaving Badly


This book by Leon Gettler invites comparison with
The Corporation
. Both conclude that the modern corporations can
be compared to individuals and are largely pathological in nature. Both
represent a fairly scathing critique of most modern corporations. However
that’s about where the comparisons end.

Read the full review here.

Harpsicord amongst the cannons

For as long as I can remember, one of the deepest connections I have been able to make with my soul is through music – particularly in making my own music on my piano. I have never learnt to play a whole Sonata, but I have it in mind to one day learn Mozart’s K331 which climaxes with the emotional Rondo Alla Turca. Now my history is not great but this piece has to do with a Turkish Invasion of Vienna and represents the triumphant march of the conquerors into the city,
I was making an effor to play this piece last night, frustrated by my lack of technical ability and consistent practice. But I did get a sense in my soul of the strength of emotion it contained.
It put me in mind of a radio interview I heard while driving around Adelaide almost exactly two years ago. The program was Margaret Throsby’s interview with Professor Richard Langhorne (Director of the Center for Global Change and Governance at Rutgers University). The interview itself was fascinating, but Throsby asks each guest to bring a selection of their favourite music. One of Langhorne’s was a 1941 recording of Wanda Landowska playing Scarlatti’s Sonata in D, Kk490 (L206) on harpsichord in Paris as the Nazis were laying siege to the city.
In the recording you can clearly hear the sound of artillery fire getting closer as the performance proceeds. And, as Throsby noted at the conclusion of the track, you could sense Landoswka’s Jewish defiance increasing as the sound of the cannon fire increased. In just that it was a moving performance – reminded to me by Mozart’s rendition of an invasion.
Not for one moment does want to glorify or romanticise war. However, in the midst of human suffering it is well to be reminded by the resiliance of the human spirit.
PS, The recording is available as Pearl GEMS 0106. I found it available and ordered it last night from The Compact Disc Club @ The Woods.

Latest addition to the family


Here is Oliver, the latest addition to the Curnow family. We have had pets before. But never a dog! We’ve had goldfish, guinnea pigs and rabbits (x4 who all died) but never a dog. Miriam is the youngest Curnow and really wanted rabbits nearly ten years ago. Every one of them, even Lucky, died for one reason or another – mostly because of mixomitosis (sp?).

Rachel, the oldest Curnow, desperately wanted a dog when she was 13. But with the Curnow lifestyle at the time it simply wasn’t possible. We could never guarantee that someone would be home every day.

Then, about a year ago, Miriam, the youngest Curnow, started asking for a dog. About Christmas time, we agreed that she could have one. She decided she needed to get it during the holidays so she could look after it as it adjusted to its new surroundings. Miriam had a false start last weekend when, after she had had her heart set on a Beagle, the Vet she rang suggested that a Beagle may not be the best choice for a first dog. After putting herslef to bed for and hour in disappointement she got back to the task and set her self on a Maltese-Shitzu cross.

A quick search in the Trading Post and there was one in Dromana. So down she went and fell in love with the dog you see here immediatley. The owner said the puppy would be ready to pick up on Sunday, but that was brought forward to Saturday and so home came ‘Pups” yesterday.

A day in coming, after consulting the whole family, Miriam decided on the name ‘Oliver’. So here he is. He is so cute.

Update on Spam blocking

A few days ago I posted regarding how good I found MT-Blacklist, a spam blocking plugin for the Moveable Type publishing system.
Well thanks to a Bleeding Edge Entry I found out about SpamLookup. Developed by Brad Choate, SpamLookup is actually a combination of previous plugins, bringing together centralised blacklist blocking, DNS checking and additional comment moderation features. MT-Blacklist author, Jay Allen, has this to say:

Many times, MT-Blacklist has been characterized as the “Swiss Army knife of weblog spam defenses” for Movable Type by a lot of different people, and rightly so.

But if that’s true, SpamLookup, a new plugin by Brad Choate, is the whole damn Swiss Army.

(Read the whole entry here.)
Nothing is getting through now. I’m sure I will get some eventually but it is a quantum leap over even MT-Blacklist my previously considered best anti spam tool for Moveable Type.

How Wrong Can you be?

We all know that statistical analysis is used to prove all sorts of things
This article [subscription required] in the April 2005 issue of Harvard Business Review discusses the perils of benchmarking. has long disliked the notion of benchmarking. We rather think that every organisation should strive to be unique and the absolute best it can be. The HBR article takes on benchmarking from a different point of view. The authors argue that benchmarking only tells us what someone else did that worked for them and ignores statistical bias in the studies. There is, therefore, no guarantee it will work for us.
Here is a sample from a sidebar:

During World War II, the statistician Abraham Wald was assessing the vulnerability of airplanes to enemy fire. All the available data showed that some parts of planes were hit disproportionately more often than other parts. Military personnel concluded, naturally enough, that these parts should be reinforced. Wald, however, came to the opposite conclusion: The parts hit least often should be protected. His recommendation reflected his insight into the selection bias inherent in the data, which represented only those planes that returned. Wald reasoned that a plane would be less likely to return if it were hit in a critical area and, conversely, that a plane that did return even when hit had probably not been hit in a critical location. Thus, he argued, reinforcing those parts of the returned planes that sustained many hits would be unlikely to pay off.