October miscellany

Our Kiwi friend loves her new home in Australia’s Sunshine Coast except that… one morning when she opened the doors to another glorious day, she saw  this on her back deck… a python. It basked on the desk railing, all 3-4 metres of it, and sent our friend scurrying back inside. Should she have worried? Well no, not according to the website birdgard.com.au which says: ‘Australia may be home to 85% of the world’s most venomous snakes and with some 170 species of land snakes – not to mention other poisonous creatures such as the cone snail, box jellyfish, funnel web spider, blue-ringed octopus, even honeybees…

‘In short, Australia sounds like one perilous place. But when it comes to venomous snakes, of the almost 25 million residents, not to mention 7 million tourists annually, only about 3,000 snakebites occur each year, with approximately 300-500 requiring anti-venom treatment and/or hospitalisation, with an average only about two fatalities.’

That’s reassuring, sort of. But what to do about this unusual visitor enjoying his moment in the sun. Call Sunshine Coast Snake Catchers, that’s what. Its snake man coaxed the four metre snake into a sack at the end of a prudently long handle, and deposited it way, way away in the surrounding bush. Phew!

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Guys and  dolls…

No matter how repugnant you might find sex dolls, they are growing in popularity, and brothels all over Europe have discovered that many customers prefer to pay around £70 for 30 minutes with a non-communicative toy, rather than a sex worker according to the Independent in the UK. ‘A recent survey into sexual attitudes in Germany found that over half (52 per cent) the men would be interested in having sex with a sex doll. In the UK, the figure was 47 per cent’.

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Compare, contrast and  hmm…

Time for credit where credit is due. In the past two years Labour has built 2,206 state houses despite a series of mishaps resulting from overly ambitious targets. So how does that compare with the nine years of the last National Government’s record? According to Labour the  figure is  an anorexic 338.

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What‘s lying beneath Godzone? 

Much, much more than you think. Scientists believe there is a hidden continent beneath Aotearoa. Here’s a taster for this fascinating yarn: ‘Maps of the ocean floor show a vast elevated region surrounding the islands of New Zealand, a formation known as Zealandia.’

Two years ago, a team led by geologists Nick Mortimer of GNS Science, a geological research company, and Rupert Sutherland of Victoria University Wellington, both in New Zealand, combined those maps with measurements of surface gravity and analysis of seafloor samples to show that Zealandia is much more than a bump in the ocean: It’s a single, continuous continent, the eighth in the world (or the seventh, if you lump together Europe and Asia as Eurasia), about two-thirds the size of Australia…’

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Off the Net: 

My wife asked me why I spoke so softly in the house. I said I was afraid Mark Zuckerberg was listening!

She laughed.

I laughed.

Alexa laughed.

Siri laughed.

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Paul Smith

Paul is a veteran journalist, non-fiction author and writing mentor. He has also served on boards ranging from TVNZ to UNESCO.