Friday, July 31, 2009


I think that the word "pineapple" should be pronounced "pie-neeple". That way the pronunciation will be more in line with the spelling. The advantages of this new approach will be:
  1. People will find it easier to learn English. This will bring the people of the world closer together and we will have fewer wars.
  2. People's interest in pineapple will be stimulated, leading to a surge in pineapple purchasing. The global economy will experience a pineapple-led recovery.
  3. It will reduce confusion. No longer will people think that pineapples are a type of apple (or a type of pine) with a subsequent reduction in all of the tragic sequelae thereof.
  4. I think it will freshen up our lives a bit. What fun! How whimsical!
Who's with me?

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Just for a change of pace, I thought I'd post a review. I enjoy reviewing things. In fact, it's one of my dreams that one day I might be a professional reviewer, writing articles full of unsolicited opinions about breakfast in seaside cafes, sci-fi novels, political documentaries, bakeries, comic books, wargames, and all the other fine things in life. It'd be just like having a blog, but I'd get paid for it.

So today the thing to be reviewed is this blog post. I first stumbled across the blog itself shortly after its inception. It's been updated on a reasonably regular basis for more than a year now, and it has been fascinating to watch it evolve from a scrappy little hobby site to the powerhouse of modern cult underground dirty funk garage journalism that it is today.

The post itself is a typical example of the author's style. It takes a single simple idea, crafts a few mildly entertaining witticisms around that idea, and attempts to make itself seem more clever than it really is through its esoteric vocabulary. The sentences tend to be longer than they really need to be to convey their point and I suspect that what the author really needs is either a good editor or the motivation to re-read his posts before hitting that "Publish" button.

Although the tone of the blog as a whole is usually conversational rather than academic, this post strays a little too far towards the formal side, possibly due to the rather strained "Review" format. Perhaps the author would be better off sticking to his usual spontaneous confessional mode rather than adopting a contrived style solely in an attempt to get cheap laughs. And speaking of cheap laughs, self-referential humour was really a thing of the 90's. We're deep into the 00's now, and humour has moved on.

The writer clearly thinks highly of himself, and with good cause. He is clearly intelligent, articulate, witty, and gentle with books and dumb animals. Yet the bloated ego so evident in his own self-assessment makes me wonder if it isn't hiding some inner uncertainties. So often this type of tongue-in-cheek self-aggrandisement is actually a form of self-denigration. By spotlighting oneself so brightly, one's shadow is long and dark. I wonder if the author questions himself and doubts if he can supply the answers?

Finally, the post displays the typical fault of the amateur writer - he obviously runs out of ideas and is desperately searching for a way to wrap it all up that doesn't seem too forced. In this case, unfortunately, he has not succeeded.

Although the post probably succeeds in its modest aims, ultimately it is unsatisfying. Surely such a talent, this star in the blogging firmament, could find more productive ways to spend his time. I give it 3 stars out 5.


Man, I've been watching Q&A on the ABC and I feel really annoyed. Last week's episode was great. Nick Minchin, Nicola Roxon, and Julian Morrow from the Chaser were all on, having a really interesting discussion and being very respectful and thoughful in their answers. Tonight we had George Brandis, who I find intensely irritating. He took every opportunity to take cheap shots at Anna Bligh (also on the show) as if it was some kind of partisan debate rather than an open forum.

George Brandis gets my nomination for Tool Of The Day.

Phew! I'm all linked out.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Get a job

The latest poll was a triumph! I am ecstatic! Sixteen people voted. Wow! That's a better response rate than I'm expecting for my upcoming bullshit research project that the university is forcing us to do!

Anyway, here's the breakdown:
  • Tinker 7
  • Tailor 1
  • Soldier 2
  • Sailor 2
  • Rich man 0
  • Poor man 0
  • Beggar man 2
  • Thief 2
Tinker was by far the most popular. Never let it be said that the young folk of today don't have a passion for fixing kettles. Good on you. I'm going to leap out of bed early tomorrow just to break my kettle.

Only one tailor. That's fair, we can't all be fashion mavens, strutting the catwalks of Milan. But someone should, and I'm glad it's you. Good luck! I reckon you'll be busier than all those tinkers, squabbling over my poor old kettle.

Two soldiers. That surprised me a little, since the job description is basically to lie in mud and be shot at. If I'd offered the Air Force rather than the Army I'd expect more responses since their job is to sit around in air-conditioned comfort and drink coffee, waiting for the runway to be cleared. But soldiering? What's the thinking behind that?

Two sailors as well. This is natural. The romantic among us will naturally yearn for the solace of the ocean's misty embrace. But she's a harsh mistress, arrr!

And finally, the last four choices show a resounding repudiation of modern capitalism. The notion of defining your career solely by your level of capital accumulation was rejected outright with no-one choosing to be a rich man or a poor man, and four of you even chose to turn your backs on the idea of private property by being beggars and thieves! But consider this: how will you afford your John Butler Trio CDs with no job, huh?

Tinkers, a tailor, soldiers, sailors, no-good hippy bums. What a motley rabble you are, gentle readers. I love youse all!

[Edit: new poll up and running, concerning the vitally important question of what noise is made by really big ray-guns...]

Back in the black

I think I've figured out how our not-for-profit gym is going to make profits. They're going to exploit the magic of negative numbers!

As previously mentioned, they won't let us join. Since we go to classes and use their equipment, they actually lose money every time we turn up.

But tonight we didn't make it to our regular punchy-kicky class. The numbers have been steadily dwindling, actually. A few weeks ago there were about 15 people in the class. The week after it was 6. Last week there just 3 of us. So this week I'm pretty sure the mathematics would predict just 1 person. But since me and my Smaller Half didn't show, that means that they actually had -1 (ie: negative one) people in their class. And it's just going to get worse!

But that's all part of their cunning plan, you see! If they have enough people like us who they lose money on, and they run enough classes with negative people turning up, that means that since a negative times a negative makes a positive, they'll actually turn a handsome profit without even having to lift a finger!

I like it so much I'm going to buy the company!

Sunday, July 26, 2009


This is what happens when I get really resistant to actually getting anything productive done.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cartoon mashup revisited

It occurred to me last night in a fevered dream that I missed a golden opportunity last night in my previous post. Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present the other half of my soon-to-be-world-famous Dilbert/immunologismo mashup!!!

I think this is even better than the other one! I predict it will soon be appearing in the PowerPoint slides of Spanish immunologists at conferences and universities around the world.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


One of my Esteemed Colleagues and I had a male bonding moment in class today laughing at the way the lecturer was using the word "cartoon" to describe what I would call a "diagram". It's something that the old-school lecturers seem to do. I did some quick research on wikipedia, but it turns out that the facts are kind of dull in that they make sense, so I'm going to ignore the facts and instead focus on ridiculing this usage of the word "cartoon".

So what I did is take an example of the type of cartoon that the lecturer today was showing us. This one apparently shows the process of antigen presentation by macrophages to T-cells. I'm not 100% certain because for some reason it's in Spanish. Educational, but not very cartoony.

Then, I took this Dilbert strip, which I think we can all agree is a real cartoon. I stole this from the Dilbert site at and if the image isn't here anymore you'll know that Scott Adams sent a team of assassin-lawyers to get me.

Then finally, to make the "Presentadora de Antigenos" cartoon more cartoony, I replaced the captions with the dialogue from the Dilbert cartoon. I think you'll agree that not only is it now even more humorous than Dilbert, it's also more educational than "Presentadora de Antigenos".

I am available for guest lectures on any topic immediately.


A quick update on my local gym, which refuses to accept my money, as previously mentioned. We went there tonight and there was a new guy behind the counter. We explained that we'd like to join, but since we were running late for our punchy-kicky class we asked if we could come by afterwards and do all the paperwork and pay him then.

"Tell you what", he said, "Just go to the class and don't worry about joining. Just join the next time you come."

So we said, "Okay!"

The consensus from comments on my previous post on this topic was that they were using my perfect physique as a kind of walking testament to the efficacy of their service, and hence were happy to let me have free membership. This certainly fits all the facts available, but now I am wondering if there isn't a more bizarre explanation. (I call this method of reasoning "Occam's tweezers" - if everything else is equal, the most bizarro explanation is most likely to be true.)

I think that perhaps the gym is run by time-travellers from the far future, members of post-scarcity economy, who simply don't understand our primitive insistence on paying for things.

Monday, July 20, 2009


And another thing, the 57% of you who indicated that you like to eat the good stuff last - choh! Eeeediots!

You should eat the good stuff FIRST, then pretend to be full. You might miss out on dessert, but that's a small price to pay.

Get with the program, people.


Some people will tell you that when they were young they just knew they wanted to be neurosurgeons. Others will tell you that ever since they were a little kid, they wanted to be a race car driver when they grew up. When I was a young whippersnapper, I couldn't wait to be grown up so that the ratio of the circumference of my head to that of my neck would get smaller.

Allow me to explain. You know how kids have giant-size bobble-heads? (I mean in comparison to their body size.) And they have these skinny little pencil-necks. Well I have always had an exceptionally large head. Not once have I ever been able to comfortably wear a "one size fits all" hat, except by perching it on top of my skullbone like a beret. And due to my willowy and graceful physique, I have always been the posterboy for the pencil-necks.

You might wonder why this matters, apart from sheer aesthetic concerns. The reason it bugged me so much when I was little was because kids clothes always seem to have the neck-hole tailored to the size of the neck rather than the size of the head that has to pass through it. So when Mum was dressing me in the morning, the rough inflexible collar on my t-shirt or whatever would have to drag harshly down across my face, scraping my nose and cheeks all the way. Taking it off again, it would sometimes catch under my not inconsiderable nose and could then only be removed by forcing it back down to my neck and starting all over again.

My mother always dressed me fairly vigorously, so there was the ever-present danger of having my nose ripped right off, or having my eyelids stretched down over my chin or back over my forehead. It was terrifying! To make it worse, we lived in a cold place and my bedroom was unheated. The subzero temperatures made the whole process even more painful. Being stuffed and pummelled into my school clothes every morning was my least favourite part of the day.

So now I am all growed up. Sadly, I still have a giant head and a slender neck. (I compensate for this by leaning backwards as I approach people so the laws of perspective make me appear normal.) The big difference though is that I now dress myself, so I mostly wear button-up shirts. Yessssssss!!

Sunday, July 19, 2009


I really like to have the window seat on planes. Not on long haul flights, they are very bad for window seats because you get trapped by sleeping people and there's nothing to see out the window anyway. I'm talking about short flights, about an hour or so, when it's daytime and you can look out and watch the world slide past vastly beneath you.

If it's late afternoon or early morning, it's good to get the same side of the plane as the sun. The great attraction is to see the light reflected off a myriad of tiny dams scattered all the way to the horizon. It's especially stunning when the land is otherwise dry and parched. I also like to look at the roads and big highways. The land is mostly empty so they curve their way gracefully around the edges of hills and rivers, curving like the tracings of comets orbiting through the vaccuum.

The best parts, however, are the towns. You can see the traffic crawling along the roads, making imperceptible progress. You can't see people directly but you know they are there by their effects, tiny sub-atomic particles exerting mysterious forces on their surroundings. Cars move, houses just exist, roads roll on and on. It's strange to think of the thousands of people down there going about their commonplace, important and trivial lives. Some will be playing sport, some walking to the shops, most hidden inside watching TV or fighting or making love or cooking.

Every movement, so crucial to them, is invisible to you high up above them. You can survey their lives but not experience it. It's a cruel perspective to take on the world. Individuals have no consequence, there is no movement or progress. If the Eiffel Tower were to spring forth from downtown Goulburn, it would be dwarfed by the arc of the horizon, pulled flat by distance and gravity.

If you flew higher still the towns themselves would vanish. It's only countries now. And eventually they too would melt into the earth, which would in turn be just a speck of light. I don't know why imagining this appeals to me so much, because there's something frightening about it. It's a kind of moral anorexia, imagining everything that I believe to be significant shrunk to nothingness by the distance. It is frightening, but it's comforting too. It gives me perspective on my life by showing me the big picture of other people's lives. The highs and the lows are gone, just the gross facts remain.

The word perspective itself is strange to me. I learned its artistic sense when I was about 8 or 9 in a drawing class. It seemed magical to me. A simple way to capture anything, no matter how huge, on a single piece of paper. You just had to stand far enough back. Later I became aware of its figurative sense. It's to do with point of view, a sense of scale. Perspective can grant you a sense of humour. It can numb the pain. It can help you make sense of the incomprehensible.

But too much perspective blinds you. It takes you away from what is human. It takes you far from home, into a universe that doesn't care about you and your fancies, your dreams. You can get lost in the big picture.


Not really sure what to make of this. I have a strange feeling, and I'm trying to capture it by writing about it. I think I'm circling around it, delineating its borders fairly sharply, but failing utterly to discover what lies inside. Perhaps geometry is not the best tool for exploring emotions, but I have no other instruments.

Maybe I should have just stuck with the window seat idea. Might as well just hit that Publish button. Sigh.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Waking up at 4.30pm

No wonder it's so freakin' cold in here! The door's been open all day! Yaysus!

There's something about lying on the couch with a cat on you after you've eaten a giant cheeseburger for breakfast that just brings on sleep like a relentless killer robot-guy. Now I'm here trying to get my blood all moving around inside my ventricles by hammering away on this keyboard so I can go for a run.

This is the life, baby!


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I feel pretty

Just got my hair cut! Woo-eee! Those of you who have seen me recently will know that it was long overdue. Generally I only get my hair cut when it has gotten long enough to really enrage me. I'm more than happy to have long, straggly pseudo-sideburns (ie: not actually growing out of the area down the jaw, just hanging there floppily from the side of the head) and stupid over-the-collar hair at the back. The thing that really annoys me is the little curly bit up the top of my forehead which attempts to stand up straight. My hair is like partisans in occupied territory - if you don't keep the individual strands under control, sooner or later they will band together and organise some serious resistance, and then there's trouble. Trains getting de-railed, officers being shot in nightclubs, that kind of thing.

The highlight of this haircut (not a real highlight involving colouring, just a figurative highlight)
was at the end when the hairdresser offered to trim my eyebrows. Initially I was shocked. Did she think I was some kind of old man? She made me feel like Gough Whitlam. But then I thought ... why not? She's a professional, she knows crazybrows when she sees them. And maybe this will be the fresh new look that I've been searching for.

It turned out that it wasn't my eyebrows in general which were problematic. There were just a couple of mutant freak hairs on each side which were inexplicably long, thick and grey. They were bad apples, bringing down the tone of my brows and ruining it for all the better behaved, more disciplined hairs. Once they were gone I was rejuvenated! I feel like my eyebrows are more expressive now. Sleek and glossy, like they are made from otter pelts.

I was feeling pretty pumped about my new manscaped look so I sent a text message to my Smaller Half, letting her know about my adventures in pruning. She had the temerity to laugh at me and suggest that next time I should get them to trim my nose and ear hair too. And that was when I realized that this was going straight up on the interwebs.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Free gym

Our local gym is possibly the least money-hungry business I have ever encountered. When we first went there at the start of the year to check it out, they seemed delighted to have us even consider them, so they gave us some free passes to try it out. We used the free passes, and they seemed so happy that we did that they gave us some more free passes. This kept happening for about a month.

Eventually they stopped giving us free passes so we decided to buy a 10-trip ticket to see if we could build up some good gym habits before committing fully to an exercise relationship. They only gave concession prices to pensioners though, so we asked if they could maybe give us a special price because we were students. So they did.

We typically go the gym every few days (when we're feeling motivated), so we expected to use up the 10-trip ticket in a few weeks. A couple of months later, we realized that we still had half of our trips left. The staff hadn't been punching out the holes in the ticket when we left them at the desk like they were supposed to, so our trips weren't being recorded! We agonized over this for a while, because the prospect of free gym for the rest of our lives was sorely tempting, but eventually we caved and dobbed ourselves in. The manager apologised to us for the inconvenience that they had caused us. We graciously accepted the apology.

Finally last week my Smaller Half used up the last of her 10 trips, so tonight we rocked up and asked if she could become a fully paid-up member. The woman at the desk said there was no need, since I still had a few trips left on my ticket, and apparently July is "Bring A Friend For Free" Month. When we asked about prices, she confirmed that there was still no student concession, but said that the quote we got from the previous manager back in February was good enough for her so she'd be happy to give us a discount.

I don't understand how they stay in business. Maybe it's a front for some kind of smuggling operation and they're just glad to have the extra cover.

Friday, July 10, 2009

50 things I like

These are a few of my favourite things:
  • mint
  • banjo
  • people who don't know how to play the trumpet
  • the sun
  • porridge in winter
  • toy cars that can roll a long way in a straight line
  • continued fractions
  • blue AND red
  • green too
  • atoms are pretty cool
  • friends
  • water
  • writing
  • games
  • hats that don't make my head itchy
  • lamps
  • aluminium foil
  • lego
  • cats
  • dancing
  • robots
  • ink
  • strangers
  • coincidences
  • reading really good sci-fi
  • trees and their bark
  • cows
  • cheese
  • bugs
  • wood
  • day-dreaming while staring out a window
  • high ceilings
  • weddings
  • good shoes
  • heavy things - they warp space-time!
  • built-in wardrobes
  • hills
  • Volkswagen Golfs, circa 2003 (or is that "Golves"?)
  • travelling
  • toy soldiers, or mandollies
  • driving at night with the windows down
  • sandcastles
  • art galleries
  • serif fonts
  • coffee with half a teaspoon of sugar
  • running
  • dawn, but only once or twice a year or it loses its novelty
  • shoes
  • fire
  • my Smaller Half
Pretty good stuff huh?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


One of my pet peeves is spelling. It's pathetic, I know, but I can't help myself. You know how some people get really upset about men who wear brown shoes? That's me with spelling.

My current annoyance is people who put superfluous R's on the end of words. This is especially problematic here in Australia where R's aren't usually pronounced at the end of a word, so they slip in oh so sneakily.

At this point you're thinking, "What the hell is he talking about?" so I'll give you some examples hot from my uni classes, and we'll see how riled you get.

Scapula vs scapular. Scapula is a noun, the name for the big flat bone on the back of your shoulder. Scapular is an adjective, used to denote things that hang around the scapula, like the lateral and circumflex scapular arteries.

Ulna vs ulnar. The ulna is a bone running from the point of your elbow all the way down to your wrist. There's a big nerve beside it called the ulnar nerve. Ulna - noun. Ulnar - adjective.

Same again for cochlea vs cochlear. The cochlea is the twirled up thing in your ear that turns sounds into nerve impulses. It sends those impulses down the cochlear nerve. Cochlea is not the same word as cochlear, people!

You probably get the idea by now, so I won't press the point any further. You might think I'm over-reacting to this but consider this: if you write ulnar when you mean ulna, I'm forced to conclude that you don't know your R's from your elbow.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Knees of Fury

Tonight my Smaller Half and I went to some kind of punchy-kicky class at our local gym. It had some outlandish name like FightFit or CardioCombat or ExerThighs or some such abomination, but the key bit of information here is that it's an exercise class structured around punching and kicking a big punching bag. That's why, in a stroke of genius, I called it punchy-kicky. Because it's kicky and punchy. Okay? Okay.

The first thing you need to do is select a pair of boxing gloves which are hideously smelly and damp on the inside. The second thing you need to do is ignore all sensation from your hands and nose. Finally, you need to kick and punch. Being a gym class, you're not allowed to just flail away with gay abandon. They play loud pop music at you and tell you exactly what to do and when. So for one minute you'll do left-right jabs, then the next minute will be left-right-left jabs, then left-right-left jabs followed by a right hook, then left-right-left, hook, hook, elbow, knee, side kick, front kick, hook, moonwalk, splits, crotch grab, ee-hee! It's some seriously funky fighting. Good thing I had those funky smelling gloves on.

Since George Foreman was such a fat old bastard I assumed that boxing wouldn't be very hard, so I went at 100% right from the start. It's lots of fun to try to punch and kick harder than the red-faced middle-aged guy on the other side of the bag. Sadly, after half an hour I'd run out of steam and my blows were feeble in the extreme and I was redder and more middle-aged than the other guy. Humiliating! But I was still standing at the end of the class, and I'm sure I was punching harder than some of those elderly women and spindly teens in the class. Probably.

The one thing about the class that I found disappointing was the sartorial standard. And I'm not talking here about the sartorius muscle, used for externally rotating the thigh and flexing the thigh and knee, though I would understand this elementary error. No, I'm talking about how people were dressed. Most people came dressed in common gym clothes, as if they were going to run on a treadmill or some such mundane activity.

One older lady was even dressed in jeans, which would have made kicking pretty hard. She also wore a thin, loose singlet top and saw fit to dispense with a support garment, with predictably chaotic results.

I, however, came dressed in my fighting clothes. I had my Eureka flag boxing shorts, a thick red leather belt with embossed golden buckle the size of a dinner plate, a giant yellow top-hat with the boxing kangaroo on it, and a silk green hooded gown with my fighting name embroidered across the shoulders: "THE SURGEON". I tried to get the others in the class to join my fighting chant: "When you see the champ, better stand and point, or you'll get a subluxation of your temporomandibular joint!" - but they wouldn't. So I just did a few laps of the room and chanted it myself while skipping sideways, shadow boxing, and shouting out, "I WANT YOU! I WANT YOU!!" I think it got everyone a bit fired up and earned me some respect too.

Anyway, I think it's given me some useful self-defence skills if I am ever set upon in a dark alley by a cylindrical, immobile opponent - like George Foreman mayhap. Despite my gross lack of fitness, it was heaps of fun and I'm definitely keen to do it again. Maybe next time I'll dress as a ninja or a pirate.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


You just never know when some crazy piece of trivia that somehow embedded itself into your brain when you were a child will turn out to be incredibly important for impressing your wife.

For some reason there was a guy shoeing horses downtown yesterday, presumably for the benefit of the tourists. Such guys are called farriers, which the magnificent Online Etymology Dictionary tells me is from the Middle French for blacksmith, from ferrum - iron. Sweet! But that's not what we're here to talk about.

No, we're here to talk about what happened when the farrier asked the assembled crowd of dweebs, punks and losers if anybody knew the name for the triangular bit at the back of the horse's foot. It was the greatest moment of my life, because I knew the answer. I didn't squeal it out in an excitable, girlish voice, like I do at university when I know the answer. No, I took a breath, paused, and murmured nonchalantly, "The frog".

The crowd exhaled in admiration at my mastery of equine anatomy. The farrier tried to play down his disappointment that I'd stolen his thunder by saying, "There's usually someone here who knows it." But we all knew the truth - I was the star there that day. Even my Smaller Half said to me (after much prompting), "No, I wasn't surprised that you knew that, that's exactly the kind of bizarre thing that you know."

All those hours that I spent when I was a whippersnapper reading about how to shoe horses in The Handbook of Australian Bushcraft were well spent. Now, who wants to know how to make rope?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Microscope stories

More histology yesterday - that is, staring down microscopes at bits of animals and people, trying to figure out what it all means. Yesterday was about bones. When you look down a microscope at bones you see this sort of thing:

You can learn quite a lot by sitting and looking at something like this if you have someone knowledgeable telling you what it all means. But if you're like me, especially if it's Friday afternoon, you could instead just make up a bunch of stuff yourself.

For example, that looks more like a map to me. And the pink stuff looks like rivers. So I suppose that it's three rivers meeting at a point, with one river flowing onward. If you look hard, you can see a little fortress built on an island in the Eastern River, connected to the shore by a sandy tidal causeway. Obviously this is the stronghold of the River Pirates, who take a toll from every boat that passes by under view of their guns. They also send out ships to raid up and down the coast. So the river to the left flows out and soon meets the Great Eastern Sea, whereas the others flow in from the north, south and west.

The South River is narrow, so it must be deep and fast. It's obviously coming from the Great Southern Mountains, bringing the icy melted snows from their peaks. The mines of the south are rich in gold and lead, though it's a wild area fit only for rugged and slightly crazed men. The river has many rapids so boats aren't sent on it. Instead, gold nails are hammered into lengths of tree trunk which are then floated down the river to the coast, hopefully to be intercepted by the miners' agents before the River Pirates find them.

The West River is broad and slow. It wends its way across the Great Plains from the Western Cities. Boats and rafts ply their way back and forth all parts of this river with travellers, trade, and diplomats from foreign lands. The Western Principalities protect the larger convoys with flotillas of guards, but sometimes boats fall behind, and then the River Pirates strike! Sometime there is talk of the Princes banding together to eliminate the River Pirate threat, but the Pirates have secret ambassadors amongst all the Western Courts, and each of the squabbling Princes believes his neighbours to be worse affected than himself by the raiding.

You can see that the North River flows through dense forest and jungle. It emerges from the unknown northlands, whence no civilized man has returned. Mysterious vessels occasionally drift down from the north. They are abandoned and half burned shells made from long strips of bone, glued together at the edges in a manner unknown to modern craftsmen. The bones strips themselves are a dozen feet long, prompting wild speculation amongst the sages but little investigation. Although some boats contain the remnants of alien boxes or barrels, the River Pirates leave them all untouched, as they are superstitious and cautious and see no need to draw disaster down upon their shoulders.

There are plenty more stories in the microscope slide boxes. This has been one of them.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Diligent ligaments

I've come across some nice uses of ordinary words in the medical context recently. One of our lecturers described how lesions in the spinal cord are very "eloquent" because you can tell exactly where the problem is from the clinical signs. I think it was also him who mentioned that nerve damage can cause the skin to become "exquisitely painful". And today in my clinical skills tutorial when we were examining the knee, my tutor described one of my Esteemed Colleague's ligaments as "lax" because his knee joint was quite loose.

When it was my turn to be examined we found that my knee doesn't have much give in it at all. I declared that this was because my ligaments are "diligent". My tutor wasn't so sure that was the right word but it sounds pretty good to me.