TOPICS: A date with dissent

DEAR commenter on the Newcastle Herald website demanding an election before September 14, the date the PM announced this week.

What are you basing that on? No, really. We’re curious.

Here are two examples of what we mean. We could cite more.

‘‘What is this self-promoting woman and her so called ‘government’ going to do now? Give us another eight months of lies, backflips and money wasting? Why not have the election now?’’ – Soul Trader

‘‘Has anyone considered the costs to us taxpayers in announcing a date this early and causing a campaign of that length?’’ – Sarb

Neither of those people are happy with the government, that much is clear. They’re not Robinson Crusoe. But since when (well, after 1975) do Australian governments not get to see out their terms?

We’re detecting an outrage that Ms Gillard has somehow bought herself a longer stay in the big chair. She hasn’t. When her term expires in September, she will have governed for 1120days. 

That’s longer than John Howard’s terms that commenced in 1996 and 2001, but shorter than his 1998 and 2004 tenures.

Pretty standard, really.

So what’s different this time around? 

Are we more politically engaged than during the Howard years? 

Or are we quicker to trash the side of politics we disagree with?

One four all, all four one

WHO’D be a bluebottle? Especially a washed-up one.

 You’d be helpless – and good luck getting Greenpeace to bring buckets and roll you back into the sea.

Yes, the bluebottle – or Portuguese mano’war – is public enemy No.1 on Hunter beaches, ahead of even cigarette butts and bullies who kick down sandcastles.

 They blow in on nor’-easterly winds and really hurt, but otherwise what do we really know?

For starters, the Australian Museum tells us a bluebottle is not one animal but four.

Each organism, called a polyp, depends on the others to survive.

They float – or rather the bit you can pop with a stick supports the rest of the colony. 

The tentacles detect and capture prey and convey it to the digestive polyps. 

Reproduction is carried out by the gonozooids, another type of polyp.

Which is great. But where do bluebottles come from? And what’s the best way to deal with a sting?

Help us out, if you know.

A clime of two cities

AS we scramble from the furnace that was January, here’s one for the boffins.

On Friday, January 18, a maximum of 45.2 degrees Celsius was recorded at Toronto.

Up in the other Toronto, in Ontario, Canada, things were rather different. 

They shivered through a minimum (though kind of balmy by Canadian standards) temperature of minus 13.4.

That, if Mrs Freer taught us anything in year eight  maths, is a range of 58.6degrees.

Has there ever  been that big a temperature difference between a Hunter town or suburb and a place that shares its name?

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