It’s Good Food Month this October. For some reason, Hats Off nights have been scheduled for Tuesday nights this year. That is a bad thing. The night is just not as enjoyable when (a) you’re not sure you can get out of work on time, and (b) you have to go to work the next day at 7am. “Bookings are essential”, the SMH says in bold red characters, but last night Omega was looking decidedly forlorn with only about 6 tables filled throughout the whole night.
Omega is on King St, down a flight of stairs which lead into a simple well-lit underground rectangular room, split into the dining area and an area with bar and tables for more informal meals. For Hats Off, Omega put together a 7-course degustation menu ($130pp) which is based on “a modern interpretation on the cuisine of Cyprus” (the land where Greek and Turkish cuisines unite, apparently).
I don’t think I’ve ever had Cyprian food, so it was an interesting meal. The flavours are mixed, but generally quite strong. Entrees were pretty good. Mains were a good mix – lamb, snapper, duck and beef. Desserts were unfortunately nothing to write home about.
Service was pretty good, not that it was hard for three people to wait on only six tables! They didn’t really announce/describe the dishes to us, it was more like, “This is duck. I’ll go away now.” The most elaborate it got was, “The salt is from the lakes around Cyprus. It’s special salt, because it’s um, black. Teehee!” (No really, those were almost her exact words!) I found it pretty amusing.
Overall, a fairly nice place to dine – good if you want to try a different cuisine instead of the standard French/Italian/Japanese/Mod Oz hatted-restaurant fare.
First of all, I haven’t seen An Inconvenient Truth. Second of all, I’m not disputing in this post that global warming is likely to be occurring. However, I do have a bone to pick with people who think that Saturday’s beautiful 36 degree weather is “yet another sign of global warming so why doesn’t the government do anything about it?”
Global warming only requires a relatively small change in mean surface temperature to cause significant changes in the global environment. Let’s check out from Wikipedia and see what we find with regard to temperature projections over the next century.
Models referenced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) project that global temperatures may increase between 1.4 and 5.8 °C (2.5 to 10.5 °F) between 1990 and 2100. The uncertainty in this range results from both the difficulty of estimating the volume of future greenhouse gas emissions and uncertainty about climate sensitivity.
Assume the most aggressive estimate of a rise in average temperature over the next century holds true: a 6°C rise over 100 years. A temperature change that large would be pretty horrific. But taken a year at a time, that’s only a rise of 0.06°C each year (on average). No one can feel a temperature difference that small. Let’s look at it another way. If we add the average daily temperatures throughout the year (“Yearly Aggregate”), a 0.06°C rise in the average temperature means that the following year should yield a Yearly Aggregate of about 22 degrees more. In practical terms, this could be manifested in a 3 week period where the temperature is one degree warmer, or it could be manifested in a three day heat wave where the temperature is 7 degrees warmer than the average temperature for that time of year. So my point is that given this, it just doesn’t make sense to say “Summer came early this year” and point to that anecdotal gut feeling as corroborating scientific evidence of rising temperatures. It basically shouldn’t be possible to notice global warming just by looking at the temperature report on the news or counting how many beach days there were last summer. The temperature differences are just too small for the average Joe to notice, even over a 10 year period. Therefore, the throwaway lines about the weather just don’t hold water.
Of course, if someone provided me with a better reason, then I might agree with those anecdotal observations. Perhaps something along the lines of – global warming causes more extremes in temperature, so you get more hotter-than-average days and more colder-than-average days (though on balance, there are more hot days than cold ones) which means it’s more noticeable. But I’d only be guessing there.
Went to the Australia vs Bahrain football match on Wednesday. It was good for the first half hour or so. Then we started to see so many stretches come out onto the field you’d think there was a war going on. The Bahrain players appeared to fall for seemingly innocuous contacts, writhing about the field in agony long enough for the stretcher to come out. But of course, as soon as the stretcher appeared, lo and behold, the player was standing up again, miraculously healed and limp-free. Their delaying tactics worked and Bahrain’s under-21 team walked away with an respectable 2-0 loss, achieved in an unfortunately unrespectable fashion.
On the way home on the bus, we noticed a whole bunch of police cars and ambulances around the uni walkway entrance to UNSW. Gang violence? No. Just a bunch of rowdy underagers at an underage dance party bashing each other over the head with pool cues. They must think they’re so hard while the rest of Sydney shakes their heads in amusement. Not such a cool look when you’re writhing on the ground after copping a faceful of capsicum spray! (I’m getting images of Vinnie Jones walking up to the Roundhouse and saying, “I ‘eard you say you were ‘ard… ARE YOU ‘ARD?!“).
Saw a James Morrison gig at The Basement. Great performance, except that next time I’m booking a table. Had a few interesting “added extras” including his new vocal synthesiser and digital trumpet. He also squeezed three notes simultaneously out of his trombone in a pretty cool display of multiphonics. The man also has an impressive set of lungs combined with a circular breathing technique that made him look like a frenetic puffer fish on speed. Great stuff.
Watched The Departed. It’s a Western adaptation of the Infernal Affairs trilogy – a set of Hong Kong films, the first of which came out about 4 years ago starring a big name cast. The Western version, directed by Scorsese is actually pretty good. There are several changes made to the story, but the guts of it remain the same. I’d recommend it, but you must also see the original films (or at least the first one). I thought the original was snappier and more of a fun rollercoaster ride than the Scorsese one which felt a little drawn out and not as twisty. But maybe that’s because I had an idea of where the plot was heading the second time around.
I went to a Werewolf night recently. Werewolf is a game also commonly known as Mafia. The rules are simple and you don’t need anything to play it except people. Sly, backstabbing, two-faced, lying, shameless people. And the more the better.
Let’s say you have 12 people playing (plus 1 person who is the game’s “narrator”). You allocate, by some random, secret means, three people to be werewolves, and the rest to be villagers. The game has two phases, day and night. In the night time, the narrator gets everyone to close their eyes. The werewolves then open their eyes and by hand gestures, indicate to the narrator which villager to kill. The werewolves close their eyes.
The day phase starts with everyone opening their eyes. The narrator tells who was killed during the night – that person is then removed from the game (but spectating is quite fun). People then have to work out who are the werewolves. At the end of the “day” everyone votes. The person who receives the most votes is lynched. The identity of the lynched person is then revealed. The task of the villagers is to kill all the werewolves during the day. The task of the werewolves is to bring the villager population down to the same size as the werewolf population (during the night and by manipulating votes during the day).
Variants can be added in, with people being allocated “special roles”. For example, a seer is a villager who gets to wake up during the night and obtain the identity of a player from the narrator. The seer can then disclose this information in the daytime (although they are likely to die quickly that night). The other problem is that multiple people can then claim to be seers.
It kept us entertained for hours, was good for helping people remember people’s names and breaking the ice. At the start of the night the group was fairly hesitant and quiet, but by the end of it slander and accusations were being blasted about left, right and centre.
I just have to recount one game where I managed to thread the eye of the needle. There were 14 players including 2 werewolves and 1 werehampster (Jonathan, myself and Jo), 1 seer and 1 witch. On the very first day, the crowd sentiment disturbingly looked like it was turning towards Jonathan so on a whim I decided to vote for him, despite him being a fellow werewolf. Much to his chagrin, he was narrowly voted off with 4 votes. The loss proved to be a boon for me further down the track. In the second round, in an amazing case of bad luck for us werebeings, suspicions turned to Jo and she was voted off nearly unanimously (sensing the bloodthirsty atmosphere, I was forced to jump on the bandwagon). So there I was, 1 werewolf against 10 raging villagers. And to my surprise, I began to pick them off one by one. Suspicions never rested on me for very long because I could always point to voting against Jonathan and Jo. The other issue was selecting very carefully who to kill at night. Even when Simon developed an accusatory attitude towards me, I left him alone for several rounds at night. In the end, I managed to turn his seemingly wild accusations against him during the day, convincing the rest that his crusade against me was evidence he was a wolf. He was promptly voted off. I also tried to quickly kill off those physically closest to me so they wouldn’t hear me moving around at night. The other consideration was to kill off people who “vigourously” voted for someone else in the previous round – in the daytime you could then accuse that someone else of committing a revenge killing to shut up his or her “vigourous accuser”. In the end, it was down to three. I had enough trust at that point to be the person in the “pivot role” – with the other two people trying to convince me that they weren’t the wolf. All I had to do was confirm they were going to vote for the other person and my work was done.
But that destroyed my credibility for the night. In the next game I was unanimously voted off in the first round (I was a villager).
Admissions are held in the large, wood-panelled Banco Court of the NSW Supreme Court before three judges. Apparently two of the judges presiding rotate throughout the day, but the Chief Justice is a permanent fixture, duty bound to the tedious process of admitting new lawyers one-by-one. It’s a very old ceremony which hasn’t changed much since the days the Court was established.
Lawyer applicants are seated at the sides. “Movers” (lawyers who request, or “move”, the court to admit applicants) appear in front of the bench. Friends and family occupy the remaining seats. The process begins with movers moving their movees for admission. Most are solicitors, but a few of the movers are barristers, wigged and robed at the bar table. Movers say a stock standard phrase (which is sometimes embellished) to the bench and the Chief Justice responds in kind. An oath is then taken in groups. The Chief Justice gives a speech on duty, obligation and everything one would expect his Honour to say on such an occasion. And then the bench leaves. The final stage is signing the Roll of Local Lawyers, a huge tome filled with names, admission dates and signatures of all the lawyers admitted in NSW. When lawyers are “struck off the Roll” for misconduct, I wonder if someone rules a red line across their entry in the Roll?
I get admitted as a lawyer tomorrow. More on the weekend.