Saturday, 31 January 2009

Heatwave II: The Reckoning

One might be forgiven for thinking that our state government is an incompetent pack of whinging little girls.

Apparently three days in a row of temperatures over 43° constitutes a “natural disaster”.

Sorry Mr. Batchelor, but no. It doesn’t.

This kind of thing should be expected and our infrastructure should be able to cope with it.

If a few hot days is all it takes to completely trash our public transport and power delivery systems, then that’s a serious indictment of our government’s dire track record in public maintenance.

CoronaNews flash for those “in charge”:

This is not the first time this has happened. And it won’t be the last.

In fact, where the hell do you people get off being surprised by this?

The climate is changing. You might have read about it. It’s been in a couple of papers.

All utilities planning should be allowing for this sort of thing to happen every two or three years. Because a decade or two down the track, it will be.

We’re well past the time we can sit on our hands and start thinking it’s all going to get back to normal soon.

So Mr. Batchelor, Ms. Kosky and Mr. Brumby: get it the hell together.

Friday, 30 January 2009


Ladies and Gentlemen - The Sun!It’s too darn hot.

And I make no apology for saying that.

Three days in a row of 40+ degree temperatures are enough to make anyone use words like “darn”. (That’s 104+ for our Imperial American friends).

It might not sound like much if you’re from Arizona, but we’re just not set up for this sort of crap.

The city is drooping.

We’ve got rolling blackouts across the state.

The train system is at a standstill.

And there’s no end in sight. The forecast says it’s not going to drop below 30 for another week.

What to do on a day like today?

Well, this afternoon I’ll be spending three hours sitting in a TV studio watching my sister compete in a game show.

I hope she does well.

And I really hope they have air conditioning.

Bart the Scientologist

I wonder what Matt Groening thinks about this.

The original version of this clip, which featured images of Bart, was pulled from YouTube for being a copyright violation.

But apparently it’s perfectly okay for one of their biggest characters to be used to spruik for an evil cult.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Atheism and Me – Part 3

AtheistI am an atheist, but as strange as this may be to believe, that doesn’t mean I absolutely unquestioningly unshakeably believe that there is no God.

After all, that would put me on a par with the religious believer who has the unquestioning unshakeable belief that there is a God.

Unlike such a believer, I am willing to be persuaded of the truth of the opposite argument.

Given that I am yet to be persuaded, and God knows he’s had the time to do it, I just think it's very very very very unlikely that there is a God.

How unlikely?

Less likely than a meteorite landing on my car.

Less likely than getting hit by a bus full of performing circus bears on my way to work.

Less likely than finding out that I’m really an undercover secret agent who’s had his memory wiped and is unwittingly carrying out a mission to infiltrate Australian financial services and bring it down from the inside with shoddy spreadsheets.

Now any and all of these things are possible, including the idea that there’s a God, but they’re all so unlikely that it's not worth spending any time at all worrying about them.

Monday, 26 January 2009


Noni Hazlehurst in GraceGrace is the latest production from the Melbourne Theatre Company, telling the story of Grace Freeman, an atheist scientist whose son announces that he wishes to become an Anglican priest.

On the surface this seems a pat set-up for the usual Dawkinsian science vs. religion arguments. And while they do get an airing, the play is about much more than that.

There’s nothing new in any of the arguments portrayed: they’re the usual suspects regularly trotted out on the interwebs, in print and from the pulpit (religion is irrational / atheism is narrow-minded / religion brings death and destruction / science can say nothing about the divine).

Grant Cartwright & Leah VandenbergBut quite deliberately, the writers of Grace have only lightly touched upon the debate, and allowed themselves space to make a much deeper point: that when it comes to our human relationships, the way we interact and the way we communicate, these things eventually stop being important.

At some point, being right doesn’t matter so much as being compassionate.

And getting so tied up in the debate that you miss that point can lead to real tragedy.

Brian Lipson & Noni Hazlehurst

While the script seems clunky in parts (although that may have been the actors struggling with some of the technical and very fast dialogue), Noni Hazlehurst steals the show as fiery fem-Dawkins Grace and is well-supported by the small cast, particularly Leah Vandenberg as her pious son’s girlfriend.

Grace is essential viewing for anyone interested in the continuing debate on the influence of religion in our lives, and also highly recommended for anyone who thinks we’re all taking it a bit too seriously.

4 out of 5

Sunday, 25 January 2009


Ah, the Australian Open.

Aust Open 2009 Delic ServesA time when people of all cultures gather in one place to be burnt by the sun and entertained by the rhythmic alternate striking of a small rubber ball by two incredibly well-paid young people who, in turn, are surrounded by a grim-faced coterie staring at lines painted on the ground, concerned to the point of obsession about which side of the line the rubber ball may fall.

Aust Open 2009 Kate and ElizaFor some reason understood by none except the eldritch brotherhood of “promoters” and “officials”, these ingredients alchemically combine into one hella Fun Day Out.

Aust Open 2009 Yours Truly



A Zen-like state of serenity descends upon the crowd, brought upon them by the rhythms of the game.

The attention of all is focused on the smallest of details . . . the direction of the serve, the curve of the ball, and the light glinting off the sweaty buttocks of the streaker.

For this moment in time the thousands are joined as one. And thus peace is achieved.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

The Theory of Gravity

The theory of Evolution, just like the theory of Gravity, is as accepted in the scientific community as any other scientific theory you care to name.

Both are based on years of careful research, observation and experiment.

Every new discovery in every related field serves only to further confirm and reinforce them.

There is no question that we have evolved into the creatures we are today, just as there is no possibility that gravity will spontaneously fail and send us all floating off into space.

Robot EvolutionBut to some, the theory of Evolution is special.

To some the theory of Evolution stands alone, because unlike the theory of Gravity it stands in opposition to their chosen religious belief.

These same people will happily use a cell phone, eat refrigerated food and blog about their hatred of Evolution on the internet, and all the while fail to appreciate that each of these things is the end result of a scientific theory just as strong as the theory they reject as nonsense.

I was moved to make this point recently over at the blog Atheism Analyzed, where there was a silly article saying that because two scientific papers didn’t explicitly mention evolution, it’s obviously not all that important.

Thus was my response:

Hi Stan. Great point.

It's exactly like that ridiculous theory of gravity.

That's revered by scientists as well, with very little in the way of theoretical evidence to support it.

Take an example: there's a new building going up near where I work. I saw the plans, and gravity wasn't mentioned once. Not once!

And yet this building is apparently going to sit on the ground!

Surely such a thing is absolutely dependent on this 'theory of gravity', but it wasn't even mentioned!

There was no mention of gravitational forces, no mention of the inverse square law, and not a single reference to the quantum effects of gravity waves.

This clearly shows that the whole 'theory of gravity' is nonsense.

I'm so glad you've made this important point, Stan. The sooner we stop revering this silly 'theory of gravity' the better off we'll all be.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009


dopeDubya is already a fading memory, although the fallout from his disastrous reign will hang over the world like a toxic cloud for years to come.

In just over four hours Barack Obama will be sworn in as the 44th President of the USA.

The moment has been anticipated for so long (remember the bumper stickers?), it’s hard to believe it’s almost here.

Everyone’s talking about the crowds (record-breaking), the speech (historic) and Michelle Obama’s wardrobe.

obama-hope[1]But beyond the streamers and frocks and statistics, over and above the simple change of government, this event represents a genuine change of mood.

The sense of optimism may turn out to be brief, but right now it’s no less real for that.

The task of rebuilding America’s reputation, which has been almost destroyed over the last eight years, is a huge one.

We genuinely hope he’s up to it.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Puffing Billy

As tourist attractions go, Puffing Billy stands alone. It impressively manages to simultaneously be both incredibly iconic and somewhat lame.

The last time I rode Puffing Billy was way back in 1979 (or thereabouts) and it hasn’t changed a bit.

Puffing Billy Engine

The train still chugs along the same track, it still gets stopped a few times along the way for impromptu maintenance (“is the handbrake off now, Geoff?”) and kids still hang their feet out of the windows.

In fact, I suspect it’s barely changed since the track first opened in 1900.

Puffing Billy BridgeDespite attempts to jazz it up, like Wedding packages, the Thomas the Tank Engine trips and the oddly named “Wizard and Witches Express” (presumably Harry Potter’s people weren’t as amenable to licensing as Thomas’ were) it’s still just an old steam train which chugs along a century-old track through the foothills of the Dandenongs.

And ever may it remain so.

The brochures are all about the scenery, but really that’s only a small part of the deal.

It’s more about the sense of history.

Feet 2 A trip on Puffing Billy is a nostalgic journey back to a simpler age.

When train journeys were slow and uncomfortable. When you could throw tons of carbon into the atmosphere with gay abandon.

And when kids could stick their feet out of the train windows.

Good times.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Life on Mars

mars[1]Ever since the Martian canals were spotted and mapped and mis-interpreted as artificial structures in the late 19th century, we’ve been fascinated with the idea that our closest neighbour might harbour life.

The latest piece of the puzzle is the discovery of plumes of methane in the Martian atmosphere.

They could indicate volcanic activity, but the absence of sulphides make that unlikely. The more likely explanation is some sort of biological origin.

Sadly it’s unlikely to be herds of farting Martian cows. Probably just clusters of Martian bacteria. Still. Life.

mars%20atmosphere[1]It’s all very exciting, but in the main it’s just announcements of ongoing work on some old observations.

The plumes were first seen (and announced to much fanfare) back in 2003.

The cynical part of me thinks that the timing is particularly convenient, given the new US administration, the whole financial crisis and the fact that NASA’s budgets are being very closely examined.

But hey, what do I know?

The non-cynical part of me is just damn excited about the whole thing.

And that part’s winning at the moment.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Catch The Frak Up

Battlestar Galactica returns for its final season on Friday.

It’s been a while, so to help you catch up on where we’re at before we launch into the final ten episodes, we present some brief summary videos.

Part 1


Part 2



Monday, 12 January 2009


Over at the blog “Apologia” I’ve been debating self-described Christian apologist Eric. The discussion has ranged over a wide spectrum, which was surprising given that Eric’s original post said he was sick of debating atheists.

Still, a few issues were passed over for lack of time, so I though I might pick them up here.

At one point in the discussion Eric made the comment

“It’s obvious to anyone who reads the Gospels that Jesus considered homosexuality to be a sin.”

This stopped me in my in my tracks for a moment, because it should be obvious to anyone who reads the Gospels that Jesus had precisely nothing to say about homosexuality.

Zero. Zip. Nada. Not a word.

And yet strangely, Eric’s view is very common. For so many Christians in the world today homosexuality is Public Enemy No. 1 when it comes to the nebulous field of “sexual immorality”.

And this is despite the fact that Jesus himself, the man supposedly at the centre of their religion, didn’t think it was important enough to mention.

Further damaging the Christian position is that the most common biblical quote thrown around (you know . . . “homosexuality is an abomination”) is from the Old Testament; that bit of the Bible that Christians mostly ignore.

Supposedly Christians are all about the New Testament. Or they’re supposed to be. That’s where Jesus came along and did away with all the old laws. This is, for example, why Christians don’t eat kosher.

But back to the Old Testament.

In the same section in which homosexuality is denounced we also have prohibitions against wearing clothes made from two different types of material (Lev 19:19), cutting the hair at the sides of your head (Lev 19:27) and sleeping with a menstruating woman (Lev 18:19 and 20:18).

These other things are obviously no longer important. But for some reason, homosexuality is an exception.

So what about the New Testament?

There are four references in the New Testament which could be regarded as relating to homosexuality. These were all made by Paul, the guy who took control of the nascent church after Christ’s death (and alleged resurrection) and in my mind, royally screwed up the humanist message Jesus was trying to deliver.

Each of these references is no more than a throw-away remark put in as a sideline to a different point he was making. None of them are decisive condemnations, and there’s a nice summary here (from a Christian website) of why they shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

Modern Christianity’s obsession with and bigotry against homosexuals is one of the main causes of continued discrimination in our culture. The passing of the noxious Proposition 8 in California (largely because the Christian community mobilised to support it) is just the most recent example.

The sooner this attitude is seen as the irrelevant cultural relic that it is, and the sooner it’s recognised that even those who propound it have no reason to do so, even within their own doctrine, then the better off we’ll all be.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Tintin 80, allegedly gay

Belgian boy reporter Tintin is 80. And he doesn’t look a day over his ill-defined age somewhere between adolescence and twentysomething.

tintin[2]It’s been 80 years since that quiffed visage first appeared as a strip cartoon in the magazine Le Petit Vingtième, and 80 years later he’s still stirring up controversy, with professional tosspot Matthew Parris’ recent article on Tintin’s “obvious” homosexuality (he’s got a best friend who’s a sailor and whatnot).

code[1] That in itself is hardly worth mentioning. What is interesting is the backlash that it’s prompted.

The cult of Tintin is clearly still around, even though the stories (and quiffed hairstyles) are looking a bit dated.

It’s not going away anytime soon either, what with über-fans Peter Jackson and Stephen Spielberg collaborating on a trilogy of films, the first to be released in 2010.

I wonder if they’ll explore the sexuality issue? I’m guessing not.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Family Picture Failure

This sent tears of laughter rolling down my face today. At work.

Slightly inappropriate.

I think it’s because the cats in question look so much like my own. And this is exactly what they would do if I tried anything this stupid.

Not Smart[1]

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Freeview. Ho Hum.

The final move to digital television in Australia is still a long way off, with latest estimates putting it sometime in 2013.

It’s taking so long because getting the Australian government to organise something like this is like getting an Amish family to produce a video podcast about World of Warcraft.

freeview_1[1]They’re making feints in the direction of activity though, with the 2009 launch of something called “Freeview”.

The big claim on the official site is that there will be fifteen new free-to-air channels starting up sometime in 2009, ten standard and five in HD.

<sarcasm> Well, that should get the punters ditching their rabbit ears and flocking to Harvey Norman for a set-top box. </sarcasm>

The thing is, those of us with set-top boxes already know that those fifteen channels are already there, but the only ones being used for new content are ABC2, SBS News and Ten HD. Channels 7 and 9 are just showing their basic broadcast across all three of their stations.

tv_old_340[1] So here’s my question: what’s going to happen in 2009 to encourage the networks to put different content on each one?

On the official government website it announces a big-arse industry conference in March to “discuss the future of Digital TV in Australia”.

All the interested parties will be there, so presumably that’s where all the bribery, blackmail and back-scratching will happen. And we definitely won’t be freeviewing anything until all that’s done.

It’ll be a nauseating exercise in faux-concern and ham-fisted negotiation, as the government tries to save face on its bungled implementation and the networks try to get away with doing as little as possible.

That’s the thing about free-to-air television. There’s no advantage to any of the networks in increasing the number of channels they transmit. Eco%20TV[1]

In the long term it might make them a viable competitor to Pay TV, but with streaming media just around the corner even that’s looking shaky.

In the short term, and this is where their focus tends to lie, all it does is increase expenses while spreading the fixed revenue base more thinly. No-one wins.

Except maybe the viewers, but no-one cares about them.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Five Cheers for the Rovers

In January 2004 the plucky little rovers Spirit and Opportunity landed on opposite sides of Mars, each with a planned three-month mission.

Mars_roverThey would roll over the planet’s surface, produce panoramic images of a depth and quality previously unseen from another planet, and provide us with invaluable knowledge about Martian geology and history, particularly the history of Martian water.

That original mission has long been accomplished and now, five years later they’re both still going.

Not necessarily going strong, because living way past their planned lifespan has led to a lot of wear and tear. But they’re still going.

This is a testament to what can be achieved when our desire for exploration and knowledge is harnessed.

800px-MarsPanoramaaWe are curious animals by nature and always looking for what’s around the corner. In times gone by we’ve been content to fill the gaps in our knowledge with superstitions and gods.

We don’t need to do that anymore.

Whether we’re looking outwards to space or into the smallest particles, we have the ability to not only formulate the questions, but also to find the answers.

They may be small, but the rovers represent one more step out into the Universe. And one more step on the path to our future among the stars.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Homeopathy For Pets

Homeopathy is one of the biggest scams ever wrought upon a gullible public.

Here’s the thing: a homeopathic preparation is nothing more than water.


It's just water.

Supposedly the water retains the ‘memory’ of something or other diluted in it, but by the time you’re shelling out your money it’s been diluted so much that there’s nothing there anymore.

It’s just water.

I'm amazed anyone has the gall to charge so much money for this stuff. I'm only slight less amazed that people actually pay so much money for this stuff.

No study has ever shown homeopathy to have any effect beyond that of a simple placebo. Which is hardly surprising.

After all, it’s just water.

So imagine my surprise when I was in my local vet’s this afternoon, and they have on their shelf something called “Homeo-Pet”.

Yes. Homeopathic treatments for pets. At $37 a bottle.

For water.

I get that a placebo might work on humans. I do. But on animals? On dogs and cats?


They’re just not that stupid.


Sunday, 4 January 2009

New Who

The BBC have announced who will be playing the eleventh Doctor following David Tennant’s retirement from the role later this year.


Picture Shows: MATT SMITH - the eleventh DOCTOR WHO

And the winner is . . . Matt Smith.

A name which, I’ve found, when put into IMDB brings up a bunch of people who aren’t the man in question. For reference, the correct one is Matt Smith (XI).

He’s not done a lot at this stage of his career (he’s only 26, after all) but I’ve seen a bit of what he has done, and it’s impressive.

300party_animals[1]Right now I’m enjoying his performance as politics nerd Danny Foster in the BBC series Party Animals (currently showing on Your ABC at 8.30 on Tuesday nights). He’s also acted opposite Billie Piper twice already: in The Ruby in the Smoke and Secret Diary of a Call Girl.

There’ll be a lot of cries of “Who?” over the appointment (particularly from the US) but tapping an otherwise unknown to play The Doctor is business as usual for the Beeb.

Even David Tennant, now lauded as one of the best ever in the role was largely unknown before he stepped into the TARDIS.

We await with interest Mr Smith’s work.

Sorry, Global Warming Hasn’t Stopped

Apparently 2008 was a cooler year than 2007, which is predictably leading to the denial lobby screaming that this whole “global warming” thing is obviously a scaremongering crock.

Of course no-one ever said that global warming means we will have year-on-year warming.

This graph shows the average global temperatures over the course of the late 19th and 20th centuries:


The year-on-year changes in temperature jump all over the place, but the trend is ever upward.

In fact, out of the last 50 years there were 22 that were cooler than the year that preceded them: 1959, 1960, 1963, 1964, 1970, 1971, 1974, 1976, 1978, 1982, 1984, 1985, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2006 and 2007.

So it’s not surprising at all that 2008 was a cooler year than 2007. Based on recent history the probability of that happening was about 44%.

You’ll also hear the common refrain that global warming stopped 10 years ago and the Earth hasn’t warmed since.

Warning: this is just a convenient selection of statistics.

In 1998 we experienced the peak of the El Niño cycle (see the spike in the graph above) which caused a drastic one-off increase in global temperature. So of course it’ll take a little while for the trend of rising temperatures to get back to that point.

The same argument could have been made the whole period between the years 1944 and 1980. It wasn’t valid then and it isn’t valid now.

There’s nothing at all to indicate that the earlier trend has stopped.

In fact, with the continued increase of CO2 in the atmosphere, there’s every indication that we’ve got quite a way to go yet.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Joyful Symmetry

I received some very cool gifts this Christmas.

My lovely wife got me Death From The Skies, the new book by the Bad Astronomer Phil Plait. And my friend Shannon got me Of Pandas and People, the Intelligent Design textbook at the centre of the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial.

I’ll be providing reviews of these separately once I’ve finished them. A preview: I liked one more than the other. I’ll let you guess which.

The prize for nerdiest gift goes to my sister, who made a donation to the charity Common Hope, and thereby got the right to name a mathematical symmetry group. Which she named after me.

A symmetry group is the collection of operations on a shape that preserve its symmetry: like reflections and rotations.

For example a square has symmetry under 90° rotation, and vertical and horizontal reflection:

Image1014[1](The darkened wedge is just to show the new position of the square after each movement).

Of course once you get beyond simple geometric shapes like squares and triangles it all starts getting a bit complicated. And all the simple ones have names already.

So my symmetry group corresponds to the elliptic curve described by the formula:

y2 + 769xy + 773y = x3 + 787x .


It’s called the Matthew Kippen Group.

I was toying with the idea of putting a picture of the curve here, but it’s tricky rendering a 2-dimensional picture of a 3-dimensional object embedded in a 4-dimensional space.

If anyone out there does know how to do this, please let me know. I'd be most interested.

Until then, you’ll just have to use your imagination. I’m sure it’s very pretty.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Welcome to Celebrity Dead Pool 2009

If you’re interested in entering Celebrity Dead Pool in 2010, please send an email to ilikeportello {at} gmail {dot} com. I’ll send you a reminder in December!

Celebrity Dead Pool now has its own blog!
Find it at Celebrity Dead Pool 

As the title suggests, it’s time for Celebrity Dead Pool 2009.

Thanks to all those who have entered. It’s shaping up to be an interesting year, with 18 entries and 126 unique nominees.

Like last year, posts on the Dead Pool can be quickly accessed using the link on the right-hand sidebar. I’ve also added a link for quick reference to the rules and to last year’s competition.

And so without further ado, here are the 2009 nominations:


Clint Eastwood
Queen Elizabeth II
Hugh Hefner
Paul Hogan
Barry Humphries
Lindsay Lohan
Diego Maradona
Katie Price
O.J. Simpson
Amy Winehouse


Bea Arthur
Mercedes Corby
Derryn Hinch
Joseph Jackson
La Toya Jackson
Michael Jackson
Magic Johnson
Mickey Rooney
Eric Sykes
Carl Williams


Muhammad Ali
Richard Attenborough
Ernest Borgnine
Fidel Castro
Joan Collins
Kirk Douglas
Zsa Zsa Gabor
Jerry Lewis
Lindsay Lohan
Dick Van Dyke


Muhammad Ali
Tony Bennett
Fidel Castro
Kirk Douglas
Peaches Geldof
Larry Hagman
Les Paul
Lou Richards
JD Salinger
Margaret Thatcher


Muhammad Ali
Fidel Castro
Zsa Zsa Gabor
Hazel Hawke
Michael Jackson
Courtney Love
Liza Minelli
Bert Newton
Keith Richards
Amy Winehouse


John Cleese
Zac Efron
Katie Holmes
Joseph Jackson
Chloe Lattanzi
Joanna Lumley
Natalie Portman
John So
Allegra Versace
John Wood


Christina Amphlett
Julie Andrews
Miley Cyrus
Blanche D'Alpuget
Judi Dench
Hazel Hawke
Elton John
Solomon Lew
Liza Minelli
Jessica Origliasso


Richie Benaud
Gary Coleman
Phyllis Diller
Kirk Douglas
Zsa Zsa Gabor
John Goodman
Charles Manson
John McCain
Nancy Reagan
Elizabeth Taylor


Akihito, Emperor of Japan
Ernest Borgnine
Kirk Douglas
Angela Lansbury
Liza Minelli
Peter O'Toole
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Nancy Reagan
Britney Spears
Gough Whitlam


Natalie Cole
Jeff Conaway
Paul Gascoigne
Corey Haim
Robert Mugabe
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Joaquin Phoenix
Nancy Reagan
Elizabeth Taylor
Allegra Versace


Pamela Anderson
Osama Bin Laden
Fidel Castro
Pete Doherty
Queen Elizabeth II
Hugh Hefner
Curtis Jackson
Nancy Reagan
Keith Richards
Amy Winehouse


Antonio Banderas
Johnny Depp
Harrison Ford
Rachel Griffiths
Katie Holmes
John Howard
Bill Hunter
Dannii Minogue
Geoffrey Rush
Elizabeth Taylor


George H. W. Bush
Doris Day
Clint Eastwood
Queen Elizabeth II
Michael Jackson
John Laws
Barack Obama
Mary-Kate Olsen
Keith Richards
Elizabeth Taylor


Pamela Anderson
Fidel Castro
Doris Day
Farrah Fawcett
Rudolph Giuliani
Michael Jackson
Margaret Thatcher
Steven Tyler
Gough Whitlam
Margaret Whitlam


Bryce Courtenay
Lindsay Fox
Bob Hawke
Nathan Hudson
Di Morrissey
Mary-Kate Olsen
Michael Parkinson
Margaret Thatcher
Gene Wilder
Terry Wogan


Zelman Cowen
Blake Fielder-Civil
Annette Funicello
Mikhail Gorbachev
Val Jellay
Kim Jong-Il
Bert Newton
Jackie Stallone
Elizabeth Taylor
Gough Whitlam


Lily Allen
Richie Benaud
George W. Bush
Dawn French
Natalie Imbruglia
Stevie Nicks
Keith Richards
John Symond
Amy Winehouse


Ronnie Biggs
Fidel Castro
Kirk Douglas
Clive Dunn
Michael Jackson
Shia LaBeouf
Marilyn Manson
Joaquin Phoenix
Elizabeth Taylor
Charles 'Bud' Tingwell

2008 Celebrity Dead Pool Wrap-Up

Well, that’s it for 2008.

It only remains to see what happened in December, announce the 2008 winners and then roll on in to 2009.

So first things first.

Forrest J. Ackerman On December 4th Forrest J. Ackerman, magazine editor, writer, collector and science fiction super-nerd passed away at the age of 92. A friend of the sci-fi fan community since long before it was cool (wait . . . is it cool yet?) he will be sadly missed.

On the 8th TV director Bob Spiers died at the age of 63. Spiers was known for his work on just about every famous British sitcom you can think of: Dad’s Army, Fawlty Towers, The Goodies, French and Saunders, Bottom and Absolutely Fabulous. He also directed Spice World, but we’ll let that one slide.

Bettie Page On the 11th the world lost the iconic Bettie Page at the age of 85. Page was a pioneer of fetish and BDSM modelling back when it all seemed so charmingly innocent, or at least that’s the way they make it look in the movies. It probably wasn’t. Still, it inspired her to become a Baptist missionary so . . . I’m not sure where I’m going with this. I’ll stop there.

On the 18th Majel Barrett, the wife of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry passed away at the age of 76. Majel appeared in every incarnation of Star Trek, most notably as Lwaxana Troi in Deep Space Nine and as the voice of the onboard computer in each series.

On the 24th Nobel laureate and outspoken playwright Harold Pinter passed away at the age of 78. Known as much for his political views as for his plays, Pinter’s particular brand of scathing commentary on world politics will be deeply missed.

Eartha Kitt And finally on the 25th Eartha Kitt, comedienne, singer, actress, gay icon and everyone’s favourite catwoman passed away at the age of 81. If only Halle Berry had paid a little more attention.

And thus ends the 2008 Celebrity Dead Pool, with the final scores standing as follows:

Spoon (a.k.a Rob) 17
Kate 16

With no second prizes, Rob wins the day and the double pass to Village Cinema Gold Class.