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<   No. 355   2004-01-15   >

Comic #355

1 Terry: Your Honour, I wish to call a new witness.
1 Judge: This is highly irregular. The defendant's legal counsel should be the one calling witnesses.
2 Terry: May I respectfully remind Your Honour that the defendant is entitled to competent legal counsel...?
3 Judge: Hmmm. You're right. I'll allow anyone you want to call.

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Mmmm.... widescreen aspect ratio.

That's the Australian Coat of Arms on the wall behind the judge, of course.

Trivia Fact: I believe this is the first time I've used the word "irregular" in a comic since #100.

2012-12-17 Rerun commentary: The Australian Coat of Arms famously contains a kangaroo and an emu as the shield bearers. The shield itself is sectioned into six parts, representing the six Australian states of (left to right, top to bottom): New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania. Amongst them, these contain four further animals: two lions (NSW and Tas), a piping shrike, and a black swan.

Interestingly, the piping shrike is not a real bird, in the sense that this name is not actually used to refer to any particular species of bird. The South Australian Government claims it is the white-backed magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen telonocua), a South Australian subspecies of the Australian magpie, but admits that there has been disagreement over this point ever since the symbol was adopted at Australia's Federation in 1901. Then South Australian Governor Hallam Tennyson proposed the design himself, calling the bird the "South Australian Shrike". Exactly what species of bird he intended it to be, he apparently never divulged. To this day, some people maintain it is not the white-backed magpie, but rather the magpie-lark, a much smaller, insectivorous, flycatcher-like bird from a completely different taxonomic family to the more crow-like Australian magpie.

No such controversy exists over the black swan, which is very much a real bird, despite pre-colonial Europeans using the term "black swan" as a common metaphor for something which did not exist or was impossible. One suspects that Australian fauna was pretty much invented for the specific purpose of messing with European minds.

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Last Modified: Monday, 17 December 2012; 02:11:01 PST.
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