Monday, 29 December 2008

Tis The Season


Another year and another struggle through that festive season - I can't deny that being forced back into a fambly that contains children does not have it's difficulties, especially when one member of that fambly steadfastly denies the non-existence of Santee Claus through nothing more than pure obstinance.  Still managed to have a relatively enjoyable and mostly relaxed evening - helped by my first trip on the back of a tricked out Harley Davidson (they're a lot louder than a well tuned fixie but still pretty cool).   Finished off the evening with a poker game (sans money) and despite the chips ebbing and flowing finished it with a hand that belongs in a movie - got dealt pocket 10s which was given a bit of excitement by my opponent going all in (with a pair of his own, perhaps ...) - we decided to play it open and wasn't I happy when the first two cards of the flop turned out to be a 10 and another 10!  It seemed all over but we put down the river and the other one and I was a bit chagrined to find that the fourth card out was another 10.  That's what happens when you play with two decks of cards.  As the proper deck had not been tampered with we decided to go with it, can't remember what it was, but I it still went to me.  But it got me thinking that that belongs on the silver screen.  Back on the bike, kind of, not really admitting it, getting a bit too stressed for what is supposed to be a time of chillin' but hoping that these things will improve.

Friday, 26 December 2008

I'm outraged at the outrage ...

Outrage at Ahmadinejad's TV Christmas message - World - smh.com.au
http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/outrage-at-ahmadinejads-christmas-message/2008/12/26/1229998704754.html

I listened to Ahmad ... Ahamn id i ... Ahmind ... the Iranian president's speech and whilst I don't speak Farsi the translation didn't really seem to be that outrageous at all.  The western powers better be careful about what they choose to be outraged about because if they consistently whine about relatively innocuous and inclusive comments like this man's speech all they're going to do is make him seem reasonable and a better alternative to them.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Tis The Season To Say Bah, Humbug

Combination of the distractions of the confidential world plus the mind numbing effects of walking to and from that place seems to have drained the creative juices.  The recovery from the latest body smash seems to be progressing but just not fast enough for this non-riding rider - a few sneaky trips to the shops notwithstanding.  Orthopods, osteopaths, physiotherapists, podiatrists, acupuncturists and optometrists are all doing their bit to get me back to something resembling the man I once was but it just takes so long.  This time of year usually involves bolting from one festive catchup to another and it's very slow when one has to do it on two feet and very expensive when one uses four wheels.  Patience wears thin and things just don't seem to go as well as they should.  I suppose I should be grateful for the occasional light (an elegant bike workstand that seems to be doing exactly what it's supposed to do or achieving the badly defined confidential performance indicators) but these rarities seem outweighed by the broken bones and buckled wheels that seem determined to blacken an already black mood.  It's that time of year again but it won't be that time of year for long.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Nice Photo Mod


Thanks to one of my few staffers for providing this clever bit of amusement.  I think the original article was ridiculous.  Embarrassingly reporting an overly vocal and completely out-of-touch minority.  I respect all religious behaviour that doesn't hurt anyone else but belief in cursed items that treat women as second class citizens I don't. 

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Could There Be A Batman versus Superman Now?

The latest two "gritty" Batman movies have been pretty well received.  They're obviously part of a wider movement to "grit up" franchises across all genres as opposed to the 70s version of camping them all up.  James Bond, Bourne, Iron Man (was there an earlier movie?  I've never been able to quite forget the cartoons of my childhood which was nothing more than a camera moving across the frames of an open comicbook), Hulk and a slew of others (this saves me from having to name them all).  It's probably a fad but it's producing some pretty great films - there's nothing better than a good superhero movie but grounding them in some sort of reality makes them more believable.  Science and technology is a much better way of being plausible than fantastic or magical explanations. 
Superman - for the most part is not scientific - the scientific explanations of his powers do not hold water at all.  Coming from a really heavy planet with massive gravity would make him evolve into something more like a slug than a man with super strength.  Likewise the yellow sun theories make no sense at all.  His powers which vary from incarnation to incarnation have made him into a veritable god.  The latest version implies that he is God and Lois is his modern Mary Magdelene.  More of a spiritual Superman than a scientific one.  But it must be said that of all the reboots this one seems to really be a continuation of the Christopher Reeve flawed masterpiece (and ultimate fiasco) versin. 
This version of Superman cannot be reconciled with the new Batman but if you've rebooted once you can reboot again.  I think a scientific Superman would be a great addition to the long running cannon.  And it wouldn't necessarily have to be something that hasn't already been done before.  Taking it right back to the beginning his powers were not so supernatural (and occasionally silly).  The original Superman was a really strong, really fast guy with a powerful moral purpose.  But he was "leaping" buildings and not flying into space.  He was stopping locomotives and not the earth's rotation or a roaming asteroid.  And he was outrunning bullets and not the space-time continuum.  A vast reduction of powers would be absolutely essential for Superman to be brought into the "real" world.  Are aliens too far fetched for the new Batman theme?  Well, that depends what kind of alien.  Maybe any variation on Superman would be too far fetched for the direction that Batman has taken but it's feasible if we take it back to where the Last Son of Krypton began. 

Monday, 8 December 2008

Sunday, 7 December 2008

"There can't possibly be anything in there for me."

http://www.avclub.com/content/feature/avq_a_art_weve_resisted?utm_source=avclub_rss_daily
Why haven't I used this as an excuse before?  For years I've tried to seek out as much content as I possibly could through books and films and have ventured into music, plays, (er) musicals, stand up and other forms of educational entertainment.  With so much content out there it's absolutely impossible to get it all and one must really apply a hard filter in order to synthesise what you can get through.  Trying to define what is worth consuming and what is not (how can you really dismiss something unless you've experienced it?  is my usual excuse for watching cultural garbage).  But for every fluffy D grade teen comedy that I see there are thousands that I just don't have the heart or time to see.  It's very difficult to justify seeing something when you vehemently cut out everything else (Twilight is something I desperately want to resist but the phenome of its popularity is so curious that I just have to "know my enemy").  For all the others I finally have an excuse - the stuff out there that I just cannot generate a modicum of interest can now be discarded with "there can't possibly be anything in there for me".

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Op-Ed Contributor - How to Publish Without Perishing - NYTimes.com

Here here, I love books as much as any man but anyone who is anyone
must realise that their day is coming... And the argument that digital
tech Is a western luxury is also fading as projects like olpc and
wimax are enabling the poorest groups in the world enabling the
fastest trickle down in history.
://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/30/opinion/30gleick.html


Sent from my iPhone

Ha, this was me!!!

http://www.theonion.com/content/news_briefs/moving_to_new_city_to_solve?utm_source=onion_rss_daily

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Cybersecurity

They should make a movie about this ... There's a lot more to being "tech savvy" than owning a 2G IPhone ...
http://www.wired.com/techbiz/people/magazine/16-12/ff_kaminsky?currentPage=all

Here Here!

For once an economist who people actually listen to has actually spoken up about one of the premier whinges of our time. 
In a perfect world tertiary education would be free but unfortunately it's not - and in some ways that's actually a good thing.  It costs money to give students those specialised skills which are going to give those graduating students a vastly improved earning potential (perhaps not the Arts students but that's besides the point) - so many employers want to see their potential employees have that "piece of paper" which, in lieu of real business experience, is potential proof that the would be employee is capable of doing actual work.  Going to university is also (apparently) a great experience which besides giving students the start to a real world work ethic, also exposes them to new politics, academic expertise and is a transitional period between high school and the real world.  These institutions cost money and believe it or not a huge number of young people miss out because they didn't get the marks, don't feel the need or basically just don't like the institution.  When tertiary education is free it means that everyone is paying for it through their tax dollars and why should they when they're not necessarily going to get the benefit from that piece of paper (or, let's stretch it, doesn't get the benefit of gaining those valuable skills that one might gain from university).
Now, there is far more to gain from uni than increased earning potential but the point is that a lot of people don't go and they shouldn't be burdened with the cost of running these institutions.  I'm not calling for an American styled system where the students pay all but the Australian HECS system is the best system that I've seen.  As Mr Gittins points out the HECS debt is never a burden - you only have to start paying it off once you've gained that relatively high income that is a direct benefit of that piece of paper, and it's always proportional to your earnings.  There is no time limit on paying it off unlike even liberal countries like Canadia and unlike most debts you're never going to have to sell your house or assets to pay it off.  Every time I hear someone with a $50k salary (which is, let's face it, still pretty good) whining about their HECS debt it makes me want to lecture them with the same story I've lectured readers of this rant on.
http://business.smh.com.au/business/too-many-uni-students-cry-poor-20081202-6poh.html

Friday, 28 November 2008

The Ethical Nature of Robots

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/25/science/25robots.html?scp=1&sq=robots+ethics&st=nyt

In my opinion, the greatest examination of the theoretical ethics of robots or artificial intelligence was conducted in fiction by Isaac Asimov. His three rules of robot behaviour that was hard wired into the positronic brain of just about every one of his mechanical creations (there were quite a few who were fine tuned to place more or less importance on one or another of the rules) pretty much covers most of the potential situations that could arrive. He looks into what could happen when something goes wrong - either within the robot or the robot's environment) and has considered more real world (and absolutely fantastic world) situations than just about any other.

And let's not forget the fan fiction and thousands of other stories written by others in the canon.

Unfortunately, the real development in autonomous robot intelligence is happening in the military. And the first rule "A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm." - the most important one - is hardly going to work when a military robot is designed to kill people. There are lots of robots that do relatively peaceable things like bomb disarming, reconaissance and decoding but these are steps in developing a machine that will mean soldiers don't have to go in and risk themselves and the robots will do the killing.

It's a real pity that such an important treatise on the morals of artificial intelligence has to be wasted but because the most important work on robotics is being made by the war industry. The technology will trickle down to the rest of us eventually and some amazing robots are being developed in the civilian world but it seems as we're finally moving towards a reality that includes true AI they're going to be built for war and that's not an ethic I can trust.

It's very important that the issues of robot ethics are examined and considered before we have the technology to build them - there will always be those who want to defeat their enemies no matter the human cost - but I think Asimov is the best place to start when considering a moral code for the robots.

A Man Of Principle

Who says that bureaucrats aren't real human people?


USDA Official Takes Courageous Stand Against Interstate Countercyclical Potato Pricing

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Changes?

Back in the confidential world - having to explain the sling a thousand times over - nothing's changed except I'm a bit more unshaven and wearing a buttoned down shirt.  Such is life.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Public Horror

Public health system is great in theory but in practice it has its drawbacks - and there's a real problem when the private system is even worse.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

The Patiend 30 YO Male

Saturday's racing mishap seems to have drawn on a bit more than i'd have liked - sure, it's great to get some time off from the confidential place but one can get rather tense when confined to local walking areas (even if one used to be famed for having a great pedestrian range). Still managed to keep myself relatively busy and have been mAintaining a 1-movie per day minimum but overall personal comfort is extremely low. Despite having insured myself against this srort of mishap it seems far more efficient to take the public route to repair - my faith in western medicine has taken a hit though - far too many doctors younger than me and, can i even say it, but less knowledge than me. Admittedly only in certain areas but these guys are in rotation, learning what they can about the intricacies of being a sawbones - nobody has been able to give me a clear understanding of what I need to do to prevent further injury and recover. As it was, it was this lack of expertise which may have prompted a late shift of bones which caused more pain, more discomfort and a midnight panic attack which drove me and my disgruntled ladyfriend back to the emergenc ward. Googling seems to create more nausea than reassurance at the moment.
Typing vey ucomfortable ... may need to move to podcast ...

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

A good Samaritan?

I wonder if Miranda Devine considers acts like this when she berates the messenger community???
http://www.sydbma.org/bikes/node/383#comments

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Snoodling

Well, I may not be published in the world of print but a shekel or two has come my way through the written word (in a roundabout way).  Pressures of the confidential world alleviated slightly but are sure to redouble when what goes away comes back.  After giving Puck the scrubbing of a lifetime I may have cracked the theory of derailleur adjustment but have still not learned the art and for some reason beyond me a slipping axle is causing me grave concern.  And Hans My Hedgehog ... how sweet you are and what a word you brought to my life.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Here's Hoping

One could say it's been a week of slightly overwhelming proportions ... what with a training course in the confidential arts taking me out to the middle of the commercial industrial wasteland that is Lane Cove West - a somewhat isolated outpost of the corporate sector that was surprisingly well hooked up with bike facilities (which, whilst not complete, were pretty good and also almost completely unknown to me), the workaholic in me was coaxed out of his shell with some impromptu visits to the office and semi-frequent utilisation of the work from home technology (which I should be using with far more frequency).  Missed the Melbourne Cup for the second time in living memory (the first was when in Vancouver) - closest miss was when I was ridden off my erse whilst employed by the dubious courier company of Crisis but I did manage to slide into a city pub, swill one of the very few alcoholic bevarages I can claim to have imbibed while on that job and slide out but this year I read about it in the paper (admittedly, only minutes after it happened and on an online version but I missed the telecast and it didn't really bother me ... at least at the time). 
There was also the slightly under exposed American election - couldn't avoid it, heard the speeches, exalted in the hope that can only be experienced in the few days between the expectation and the letdown.  For the moment, I'm on the side of hope - what comes may come but right now my heart is soaring.  It's already been overused and is on the verge of cliche but I think we can still say 'Yes we can' and cringe at the glurge.
Riding a lot - watching movies in the gaps - finishing books (only the reading of) here and there (woefully neglectful of the printed word) and trying not to think about the fact that the boss is back on Monday ...

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Sarah Palin Prank Call

This is hilarious ... I guess she's just not that bright ...

Monday, 3 November 2008

A humbled man ...

How nice to see my name amongst the victors ... admittedly at the bottom (or near the bottom) of a list of victors and a dubious victory but nonetheless there it is.
Pity the victory snap is of someone else ...
http://www.randwickbotanycc.com/Results%202008/25%20Oct%202008/results_25_Oct_2008.htm

Monday, 27 October 2008

The Pie

I think that I shall never spy

A poem lovely as a pie,

A banquet in a single course

Blushing with rich tomato sauce.

A pie whose crust is oven-kissed

Whose gravy scalds the eater's wrist.

The pastie and the sausage roll

Have not thy brown mysterious soul;

The dark-hued Aborigine

Is less indigenous than thee.

Like Phillip Adams rich and chubby,

Tasteful as Patrick White,

With an ice-cold Carlton stubbie,

You're the Great Australian Bite.

 

Barry Humphries

 

 


He will bring balance to the force ...

Curiouser and curiouser ...  after a relatively unsuccessful evening of poker playing on Friday I came out $20 down (this was despite absolutely cleaning up in the first hand of the second game - three other players went all in and I took 'em with a straight) but on Saturday I came up $20 from successfully smashing the D-grade competition in a bike race.  Then, on Sunday, after spending an interminable time waiting for a steak sandwich at Fox Studios (with the most inefficient staff I've ever had the misfortune to be served by) I was told that he didn't have change and he owed me 15 cents.  I never got that 15 cents.  However, on Monday morning when I went for my fortnightly tobacco shop at Sol Levy (the tobacconist extraordinaire) I was asked if I had 20 or 15 cents to enable my change to be in gold coinage - I did not, and they told me to let it ride.  So, I came up 15 cents.  Even Stevens seems to be the name of the game right now.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Phase 1 Complete

It was an impromptu decision - stepped into one of my localish bike shops to get a few basic necessessities for the reconstruction of one of my velocipedes and I was asked whether i would be heading to the park for the race. What race? The one that's on every weekend. Well, my only plan that afternoon was a bike ride to assist one of my good chums in his preperation for the upcoming Gong Ride and I thought that could be worked in so I made a commitment then went home to prepare - which basically involved drinking lots of water and doing half hearted stretching (and gettign a new pair of pantaloons but they weren't used so I'm not sure that that counts as preparation). I had a vague idea where Heffron Park was but it turned out that I was very wrong (luckily Google Maps was there to rescue me) - bumped into Paddy Jone on the way in - a potential ally in the world of racing - upon arrival I wasn't sure which grade to go in but decided to err on the side of caution and go with D - last time I raced I was in D and i didn't win so I could hardly be blamed for underestimating the field. Not really knowing the protocol of the race didn't help but I knew the fat guy ahead was going to make a decent windbreak so staying behind him seemed like a good idea. It wasn't long before I found myself nearing the front - having been told many times that it's wise to stay near the front but not at the front I kept a pretty basic pace and apart from a few half hearted attacks by a couple of others (including a man with only one leg) I managed to find myself fighting the wind for the majority of the race - a very nice course - had been there before but had not realised that it's actually a rather fun place to ride around - before I knew it we heard the final bell and I started pedalling a little faster - not long after that a small bunch of the A graders including the good man Paddy Jone went past us - taking this as my cue I did my own version of the attack, thinking I could perhaps try to hide behind the A graders but overtook them in short time (good thing too, apparently that's against the rules) and before I knew it I'd crossed the line with nobody from my grade anywhere in sight. Still a few other grades had to finish so I wasn't quite certain that it was my race. But it was. And I won. And it's the first time ever. Little should be said about the fact that 2nd wasn't wearing bike shoes (means nothing - toe clips are just as good in a short race as cleats) and less should be said that 3rd only had one leg (he had the build of a very good cyclist and I'm sure he was) but there were some good riders in the bunch and I beat them. Huzzah.

Friday, 24 October 2008

I've got your goat

An almost bi-polar evening that hit highs and lows (ended on a low but will be sure to be followed by a high) - found ourselves at Dank St Depot, a place that is currently NOT on the a**ehole-bed (not my translation) list - a place I've been to before for an evening of fine wine, fine food and fine company (excuse me while I wash my mouth out) - the theme was Capra aegagrus hircus  and I would have to say that it was definitely one of the best meals I've eaten in quite some time (what there was of it anyway) - after an introduction by the extremely effusive chef, Jared (???) and the life story of the goat farmer (I'm glad you're enjoying your seachange mate but could you please sit down and let the food come???) who looked and sounded like one of his flock - we basically ate our way through the animal - lots of goats cheese and milk based products and various cuts from all over the generous beast.  Not a new animal for me (I was lucky enough to first try it in a Jamaican diner in Canadia) but definitely an improvement on that meal.  Just got to remember that drunk driving is bad and some principles are good.  But not all.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Barack Obama, Cigarette Smoker

One of the things that has popped up in the American Presidential campaign but which hasn't managed to get much traction is the sneaky little secret that Barack Obama has.  He's a smoker.  Bafflingly, some of the conservative bloggers have picked up on this as a sign of moral deviancy.  Barack Obama's "dirty little secret" is what it's been referred to and if he's keeping this thing quiet it's because he's hiding a lot of other bigger skeletons in the closet.  If someone hides the fact that he smokes then he'd also hide much worse characteristics.  I'm a smoker.  I'm not proud of it.  It's an addiction.  It's not good for my health?  Is it going to kill me?  Perhaps.  There is a chance that i could die of lung cancer one day but I've got a lifestyle that could result in death in lots of ways ... killed on my bike, killed as a pedestrian, killed by slipping in the bath.  Its all about calculating the risk and benefit.  Smoking is dangerous.  It's also pleasurable and there are some real medical benefits such as heightened concentration and mental faculty (not always) but it's slipped from public favour.  It's still legal in every society in the world.  Most of the people I know are aware of my bad habit.  Most accept it as well.  Still, I don't push it on people even though I demand my right to do it.  I follow the rules of smoking - I don't do it in places where it's not allowed and I pay the exhorbitant taxes that are slapped onto every packet.  That gives me the right to smoke.  I think it's a good thing for a presidential candidate to have such a vice (and it's better than Palin, zing!) - it shows that he's one of us (even if he is an American) - Obama seems so cool and so unflappable - yet he shares an addiction that haunts many.  He's tried to quit but he still smokes "three Marlbouroughs a day".  He's someone who is admired by many and probably emulated by many - he knows smoking is not a desirable behaviour so of course he's not going to do it in public.  The American presidency is held up to a standard which has never been exhibited by any who have ever held the office - if this is the future president's dirty little secret then I think he's not that bad at all.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Change Is The Only Constant

The proverbial "event" is always an interesting way to pass the time - whether it be a corporate function designed to quell worker complaints with a little social lubricant or a gala announcing the finalists of a national photo competition - they all seem to have the a few things in common.  Free booze, different and potentially interesting people (or at least the same old boring people in a slightly more interesting environment) and something to do (look at photos, play some trivia or bowls or any other inane activity to distract once the conversation gets a bit stilted).  As my ladyfriend was organising and a small (but doughty) man was DJing I had more than enough reason to attend. Had my credentials questioned a couple of times and nobody could really argue with my qualifications of 'Consumer of Journalism'.  As at all of the media union events there was the typical whining about the slow and steady destruction of journalism by the heavyweights and a plea to all and sundry of the importance of keeping things just the way they are.  Try as I might I can't completely sympathise with this argument - yes, it is not necessarily a good thing that the big media companies in Australia (and the rest of the world) are cutting back their investment in certain areas of their field - there are less journalists being placed overseas and there's more reliance on stories from the wire.  Is this a bad thing?  I really don't think so.  
I find it really interesting to hear the journalists, photographers and editors all complaining about how bad the quality of journalism is these days.  Basically, they're ripping into themselves.  When they complain about a story that's not properly researched, is full of errors or just doesn't have the right insight then the person to blame is the guy (or girl) who wrote it and the guy (or girl) who put it into the paper (or onto the TV or the 'net or wherever it goes before it's fed to the consumers like me).  The fact of the matter is that we live in a globalised economy which means EVERYTHING is being consolidated - the consumer only has so much time to devote to the consumption of news and there are a lot of alternatives out there - like it or not, but bloggers and foreign news outlets are instantly accessible to everyone these days - there are many alternative points of view available and of course I'll use a news aggregator to help me filter the crap out - I use Google to sort out all of the information I try to access from the web, with the huge amount of news information out there why wouldn't I use Google to consolidate that as well?  The only constant in this world is change - old school journalism houses realise this - cutting back on the number of journalists employed by their paper or their TV station is not a symptom of a decline in journalistic standards - it's these guys trying to adjust to the world they inhabit.  Yes, their executives are getting paid too much and their journalists too little but are their any industries in the world where this does not occur?  Car factories do this, agricultural industry does it and even the finance houses do it.  Living in the comfortable past is not going to save the world of journalism - change is always difficult - especially for those who have carved out their niche, but everything evolves or it dies.  The same is true of journalists.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

The Debut of ... Tim

Open mic comedy nights are always slightly risque things to attend - the lot is somewhat improved by the fortification of a Burgerfuel burger - one of my charges from the confidential place, subject to the whims and machinations of managerial largesse, decided to try his hand at the ancient art of comedy.  In a pique of curiosity and in the spirit of good sport I thought it timely to invite a small but doughty man to accompany me to the improv comic.  The William is probably not the best venue for such events - very poor air flow in the upper floor and of the twenty or so people in the room there were but a handful who weren't actually getting up on stage.  One sap after the other got up on stage to a reasonably receptive audience - some did pretty well and others less so - the reading of notes was certainly more subtle than previous nights I've been subjected to, and everyone was going to time like it was a high school debate - and more than once I was LOL.  However, when the epic entertainment finally ended I certainly wasn't screaming for more (and the headline could have trimmed what could have been hours off his 20 minute set).  Upon descending to the place where beer was sold I found my companions were so desperate to get the jokes and gags that couldn't be fitted into their 5 minutes that I was tempted to start heckling then and there.  But I didn't.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Just a challenge ...

Well, it turns out that a month of purely credit transactions had a slightly unexpected drawback - managed to survive relatively easily with bypassing the cash transactions but unfortunately the length of time between using cash machines meant that when I went to an ATM in a bar in Newtown I'd found that my overfull mind had overwritten the part where my PIN number was stored.  Quite strange that I'd managed to remember what it was a few days prior but it was obviously a delayed reaction.  It couldn't have been the alcoholic and herbal remedies that had been administered throughout the day in order to cope with the swarms of sub 5 year olds at little Coco's first birthday bash.  Perhaps it had something to do with the zen like state that comes from being volunteered to stake out the picnic spot in Coogee that was in such high demand that not other group decided to contest throughout the entire day.  In any event, the challenge of living off cash when one doesn't have any access of cash will only make Cashtober more exciting - already found myself sorting out piles of scattered coins of the realm (which turned out to be a handsome sum) - and it seems to me that most shops (especially run by their owners) are typically quite welcoming of a bag of sorted change even if they do have to go through the pretence of counting it out again.  Beats buying a coffee with a C-note anyday.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Sometimes ...

Sometimes the confidential place can have its moments - arrived late at work suffering from a relatively severe hangover due to over exuberant exertions at a team building company sponsored trivia night event - came in to find typical nightmare scenario of half the staff having called in sick (surprisingly not the ones who got drunk the night before) and an overstressed manager but managed to escape quite easily with a Meeting of Minds!  A bunch of analysts sitting in a room talking about numbers.  It's far more interesting than it sounds and a hell of a lot better than the stuff I normally do.  But even ended early so I could escape the heat by going to a recording studio to listen to some 'talent' record phone messages and by the time I got back the world was calm again. 

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Credtember is Over! Bring on Cashtober!

Well, it seems that I've finally reached the end of Credtember with no major scars – to celebrate the end of this section of the social experiment and also a particularly frustrating week at the confidential place (damn those Non-Disclosure Agreements!) I found myself reconciling at the Cricketers Arms – the irony being that of all the places to celebrate a month of pure electronic financial transactions I found myself at the one place that accepts cash only (not exceptions).  Once again, I got by.  I originally planned to end the experiment at the end of the month but after suggestions from others I've decided to extend it into October – this time, no cards only cash (should make it easier to survive on the blackmarket).  Certain transactions are probably going to be very improbable – rent and phone bills perhaps (perhaps) but everything else will be in legal Australian currency.  Paid off my tab at Platos in the morning in this form and basically wiped out my funds for the day (who'd have thought I'd have spent $130 on coffee???  Egads).

Fixed Gear Gallery

Thursday, 25 September 2008

An Ethical Dilemma

Whilst Michael Phelps Challenge Day came and went without a serious attempt at smashing the 10,000 calorie barrier there have definitely been a few days of serious ingestion – returned to a Brazilian meat fest at Churrasco's in Coogee (or, more accurately, went there for the first time as the last time we tried to go there forgotten bookings meant a relocation to the far swankier [and much more expensive] Wildfire version) – a Boy's Night In™ became a Boy's Night Out™ after various negotiations with various parties.  A slight ethical dilemma in planning of the evening – started out with tentative planning for a Tuesday night in with Messuir Gray which usually involves pizza and half-hearted attempts at work.  A late invitation to take up some spare tickets for a West End Musical (near Central Station) meant I got rid of the ladyfriend and miniature ladyfriends for the evening but a separate tentative invitation for a farewell dinner @ Churrasco's (which had been made before the original tentative plan had been firmed up) put a slight fly in the ointment.  Attempted to combine the Boy's Night In™ with the Boy's Night Out™ to create a pure and simple Boy's Night™ but there was half hearted enthusiasm for the idea from the Boy's Night In™ crowd.  Excuses were made, none of which were very convincing (yes, I know you diet sometimes but you wouldn't be having a milkshake if you were over at my house!) but a blessing for a graceful exit was made although there was still some guilt.  There would have been less had my hump not been ridden concerning the end results of the negotiations which were definitely in my favour.  In the end, managed to out-eat everyone very satisfactorily which did mean that I suffered the next day but if that's the worst that can happen it's still pretty good.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Labours of Love

In my role as The Good Boyfriend(TM) I've done many things to incur favour with my ladyfriend but none have been potentially more excruciating than attending a high school musical show and a sweet 16th birthday party - the idea of watching a hundred nubile post-pubescents sing, dance and play awful top 40 hits that would be more suitable for Abu Ghraib than Aberdeen is not what I normally plan for an evening - that said, despite 2 hours without intermission (and not even a bottle of water for sale), it was not that bad and the one we went to see was surprisingly good (although one would presume there's a bias) - birthday parties the next day involved considerable effort and stress - the least of which was trying not to burn down the house with some particularly fatty greyhound sausages - the flames wouldn't have been that bad had I a network of manly man to laugh and roister about it with - but with an audience of a dozen 15-16 year old girls you don't want to be showing too much incompetence.  I hope my efforts have been appreciated.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Battle of the Egos

Three days away from the confidential world in the middle of an important project was probably not the most sensible thing to do but I wasn't the one who faffed around so I can't feel too guilty about the timing. A brief stint as the odd bod in Episode 3 of the latest pilot offering of Rock Chikz was a very entertaining way to spend the middle of the week - despite having to deal with a couple of slightly over inflated egos at times and a script which could have done with a bit of nitpicking I have to say that filming with professionals, even if they are all still on the verge of making it, is a far cry from working on a home financed short.  The jargon I picked up from the Metroscreen course paid some dividends as I actually knew what MS, LS and ECU translated to, I knew what to do when asked for a white balance and I knew where to go to get a cup of tea as well as the obligatory free meal.  And despite the early starts meant missing the morning rides (which are surprisngly addictive) the locations were spaced out enough to ensure a decent amount of riding in each day - pancakes beat petrol in the evening (even though it was a dodgy veal schnitzel) with an unplanned race from Newtown to Centennial Park and all seemed good in the world.  I suppose.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

A Man Of Principle

Another week at the confidential place which was mostly a week of stress with a slight ray of hope near the end followed by a crashing reality check on what happens when you faff around too much - can't say I was too surprised but am relatively confident that disaster won't strike too badly.   A new box of bike toolz was purchased and a fair whack of zen and the art - made a couple of mistakes of which I must admit there was no real excuse (taking out a pin of the master link in a chain is a no-no) but others were just pure frustration (is it ever possible to properly clean a chain?  Every time I do it it seems to get worse - that dude in Vancouver once told me never to ever use any solvent on a chain - I think he may have been right).  Still, my hands have been filthy with grease for the past five days straight which is never very pleasant.  The month of Credtember is clicking along - almost halfway there and still not a coin spent - it's caused a few issues thus far - managed to escape buying rounds of beer at one pub but made up for it by purchasing a round (or two ... due to a badly negotiated exchange) of cocktails at the infinitely toffier second drinking establishment, due to minimum transaction rates a $4 essential purchase turned into a $20.20 purchase of things which will be used but were more a want than a need, am continuing to annoy the ladyfriend by sponging coffees (pretty sure she's doing alright by the whole thing though) and also found myself with nothing to warm me at the halfway mark of a mammoth 140k ride through torrential downpours and blustering headwinds.  I even had a fair chunk of change that I always keep in my tool bag but my vow dictated that I must not spend it.  Man, it's hard being such a principled man. 

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Meredith Who?

Very interesting ... pardon my political ignorance but Meredith Who?  Is she like Madonna or Cher?  Not once in the entire article has Ms Farrelly mentioned a surname.
http://www.smh.com.au/news/opinion/roll-up-for-the-lord-mayors-starring-role/2008/09/09/1220857544978.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap1

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Worried About The Large Hadron Collider?

So Much For Loving The Fans ...

The arrogance of this woman continues to astound me ...  if Roddenberry/TPTB at Star Trek had taken her tactic of quashing fan developed supporting material then it would not have the juggernaut of an army of die-hard fans it has today (and that may be a good thing).  The Harry Potter books are a publishing, not a literary, phenonemon - they've made her a millionaire a thousand times over (so I hear).  Yes, they've introduced millions to the magic of reading (excuse me while my stomach settles), many children who would otherwise not be reading anything found themselves translating the words to images in their heads but that doesn't mean the books are great (sure, the 4th and 7th were pretty good but LOTR they ain't).  Appealing to the masses doesn't make you great.  Suing anyone who hopes to make a profit from their hero-worship of her doesn't seem to me to be a great way to reward a fan base. 

Will it make her more money?  Probably.  Will it disillusion her legions of fans?  Probably not.  Is it a bitch of thing to do?  Absolutely.

http://www.smh.com.au/news/books/magic-still-works-for-rowling/2008/09/09/1220857494266.html

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Cheat To Win

... or to come third.  A credit card behind the bar can do wonders for the perception of a little social experiment in a cashless existence.  Zeb's eagerly awaited race turned out to be much later than planned and therefore not only was it in the gridlock of peak hour but also in the dark and in the rain.  Considered being a mere checkpoint but thought ... f**k it, you're only young once and the fact that the race was reduced from a cross town alleycat to an 'Urban Keirin' meant it didn't seem that bad.  Still, first time I've raced on Chevette since the removal of her front brake and that's never good in the slickness of rain soaked streets.  The course was simple and short - around Hyde Park North a few times - Elizabeth was packed with buses, trucks and cars (including several from the police and fire brigade) but Park and College was pretty empty, which meant kicking it was not a problem.  The SCC may have helped with the endurance, what little was needed, but the time out from the urban grind of day-to-day deliveries meant I wasn't really up for flying between buses that were coming together like the boats in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (do you remember that scene?  Where Indy and the girl fly between the two boats and the protectors of the grail who are following them get blown up when a tug boat knocks the two ships closer to each other?  Do you remember?  It wasn't that long ago).  Still, no ping ponging required - a bit of medean strip riding and a bit too much skidding - but hey, for right or wrong, I was declared third (which is better than second, which is better than first, at least I remember telling myself that sometime long ago) and that's got to be a good thing.  No need to explain myself too much - Southampton Paul finally got his jersey (still waiting for the right race for me) and I got drunk.  Don't completely remember how I got home but I think Burgerfuel was involved.  Hurrah.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Change Is Coming?

http://www.smh.com.au/news/us-election/change-is-coming-mccain-tells-us/2008/09/05/1220121493073.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap1

If McCain says that change is coming I can only assume that means he's predicting his own loss.  Either that, or it's a very thinly veiled attack on the current guy in charge, someone who's supporters he's supposed to be representing.

Cheap Is As Cheap Does

The first fly in the ointment of Credtember - apparently coffees purchased on an account do not accrue loyalty stamps that lead to free kaffirnation.  Most disappointing when one is expecting double stamps on two purchases but will have to be a bit more strategic in purchasing from now on.  A fair night of free entertainment with a short film debut that was followed by a bar tab (admittedly a gold coin donation was required but was shuffled off to a fellow citizen) and then by a free ticket session of 'Not Quite Hollywood' in a virtually empty cinema.  Hurrah.
Less desirable addictions were also adequately purchased by plastic - do it in the right place and do it in bulk and you'll be fine.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Obama The Elitist?

Amusing. I am aware that not being an American means I can't vote in their election but I'll be damned if anyone says that the results of their election won't affect me.

Portrayal Of Obama As Elitist Hailed As Step Forward For African Americans

Ah, Chrome ...

Can't use it at work 'cause of the firewalls; can't use it at home 'cause it's only on Windows ...  Still, it's the best browser to date.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Cultural Sensitivity???

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/09/03/2354059.htm

The didgeridoo is a great contribution to the music world by the Aboriginal people but for a doctor (!!!  I can only hope it's that he's an academic PhD and not someone of the medical profession) to make the claim that playing the instrument can lead to infertility in girls is sheer idiocy.  Was Harper Collins being a bit insensitive to Aboriginal culture here or is Dr Rose being incredibly insensitive to women?

Now, I believe in respecting other cultures - to the extent that they're not talking out of their arses.  I respect Islam but I don't respect their intolerance of apostates, homosexuals and the subjugation of their women.  I respect the right of Evangelical Christians to believe whatever the hell they want to believe but not at the expense of denying the realities of evolution and forcing their children to grow up in ignorance.  I respect women but I don't respect them riding my hump for supposed transgressions with doing my share of the household chores (that is a joke).

Well, Dr Rose has asked Harper Collins to treat the issue a bit more seriously, but I think if he wants anyone to take this issue seriously he should do the same.

Credtember - Day 3

Still no issues in the month of Credtember - am abusing my priviliges by sponging off co-workers for coffee despite having tab at local cafe.  Luncheon has been brought thus far - eliminating need for petty cash transactions at the noon hour - so far so good.  Potential issue coming up on Friday with a cash-entry alleycat but am presuming that entry can be paid off with beer.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Cashless Society?

In a world of credit cards and bank transfers, vouchers and buses you can't even get on unless you've pre-bought your ticket it seems we're closer than ever to living in a cashless society.  But, is it possible to live a normal existence free of the bounds of paper (well, plastic paper) and metal tender?  We shall see.  The ninth month of 2008 will be Credtember (for lack of a better name) for me - all monetary transactions throughout the month will be virtual.  Obviously, the bigger transactions will be easier - nobody thinks twice about buying big-ticket items with a credit or debit card but the little things may well prove to be an issue.  To that effect, IOUs and tabs will be a valid form of purchase for Credtember (as long as the vendor agrees - the first tab secured is the morning coffee from Platos, the 1 Market St cafe that produces a very serviceable piccolo late and I'm hoping that their generosity will extend to the occasional sammich although I'm planning to minimise such inordinate expense by making my own luncheon which is usually preferable anyway).  I've also decided that little purchases can be made in cash, as long as it's not with my cash.  This may mean pushing the limits of various friendships for the month but most of my friends are aware of my strange and varied principles so they shouldn't be too perturbed.  Let's see how we go.

Yes, very special ...

Interesting chat at a right wing think tank on Monday's evening - the MD of our very Special Broadcasting Service was spruiking his network and explaining how they do so much with so little.  Was interesting to note the breakdown of income for the second "public" in terms of government funding and commercial revenue - although I think I may have flustered him when I asked him if SBS would ever consider rolling back the commercials if they were to get the additional funding from the government that they required.  No.  I seriously think that despite SBS having a much lower income from commercials than the major networks from a consumer point of view it's very hard to sympathise with a group that calls itself public when the programs it shows are constantly being broken up by ads. 

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Strategy And Tactics

Well, John McCain has made his strategic move - not only has he chosen a woman as his VP candidate but he's grabbed an evangelical Christian at that. The most significant aspect of his choice is obvious - it's a woman. A female choice is exciting, bold and clever - he can snare the obvious chunk of the self-declared Hillary supporters who have already said they're going to vote Republican in protest at the way Hillary has been treated by their party (not that her ill treatment was so much done by the party as by the 4th estate), these female supporters are probable single issue liberal feminists who will shoot themselves in the foot by supporting a new female, even if her Evangelical conservative values are far more dissimilar to most of their liberal values. Should McCain/Palin win it would not be long before these voters regret their spiteful folly. But the Evangelical choice has a significant secondary benefit - it reassures the faith-nuts who were having grave doubts that there was going to be any serious contender who grovels before their Vengeful God(TM). It pains me that the Leader Of The Free World(also TM) has to play the religion game. Why does western leadership pander to the religious right? I so wish that the churches would just admit they had a good run and quietly go away. There are more important issues at stake than traditional family values (whose family, mate? Whose family are you talking about? Mine - split parents, two houses, additional adult member, pretty decent kids? The multitudes of my friends whose parents split because they knew everybody's lives would be easier if it happened?), abortion (a terrible decision for any woman (and not too good for the man who's involved) to have to make but one that prevents a lot more problems than it causes) and the right to ignore the most basics of Science (evolution is provable - God is not). The environment, quality of life for the many and not the few and the management of the squabbling hundreds of countries and thousands of ethnic groups who just seem determined to cause havoc throughout the planet. Well, both McCain and Obama are aware that there's a world out there - and in order to be who they can be they need to be President and the first step towards that is getting elected. McCain's transparent grab for votes with his choice - get the women, get the Christians, get the excitement back in my campaign - may pull off a victory but I hope it doesn't. Barring a catastrophe - whatever happens, come November there will be either a woman or a black man in the White House - women won't take the big seat just yet - but which Vice President hasn't entertained the certainty that they'll be following their boss's footsteps when his term is up. And Palin wouldn't have to wait long - McCain's getting on in years and 1 term might be all he's got in him - but should she find herself contesting the presidency itself she'd be fighting Hillary, the most formidable female politician since Maggie Thatcher. But the other alternative is of a future just as bright - a man, who a hundred years prior, would have been a slave - fifty years prior wouldn't have been able to vote, is of a race that symbolised the plight of and galvanised the fight of minorities everywhere - and is now the leader of not only those minorities but the majorities and that is a hopeful thing indeed.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Ho, ho, yes, Miniman, go!

Awesome, but he'll always be Legoman to me ...

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Economist's No 1 City (Not Vancouver)

Oh Gods, was it something evil like salmonella hidden in a McDonalds Cheeseburger or Campylobacter jejuni in the foreskin of a Chorizo at a swanky Melbournian tapas bar?  I don't know but it caused havoc at the tail end of a trip down Melbourne way.  It's been a while since I've had to endure the dehydrating effects of gastroenteritis (that horrible gagging which strains every muscle in the body but has the benefit of totalling ripping your abs) but at least it happened on the Sunday and not on the Thursday.  It's also particularly unpleasant to hit with a hangover as you can't even keep an aspirin down to quell the headache (although it does purge your body of most of the undigested wine).  An interesting sojourne to the slightly less good capital of Australia - great accommodation (abused from a local union chapter!), great transport (from both public options as well as infrastructure for the preferred two-wheel option - always a good idea to take a bike when you're visiting a foreign city) and great entertainment - the Writing Festival of the UNESCO's latest City of Literature (interesting to note that if you want to get your city named a city of literature all it takes is hiring the guy who got the last city of literature named - he's incorrigible - he'd get Broken Hill named the City of Lit if you posted him there for a month).  Saw a fairly decent showing of shows - some of books that I knew (Chris Master's Jonestown was a very interesting chat and is a very interesting book, which is written by a very interesting and very gentlemanly man), some that I didn't (Shakedown (about East Timor) and something about press freedom's in China - did get drunk with the authors so I think I'm pretty much obliged to read these now) and one that I really have a half cocked view of - Germaine Greer is one of the most fascinating Australians ever - she writes pretty interesting articles that I always half-agree with and she was pretty much the figurehead of a feminism for decades before she (or the movement, depending on who you ask) went mad. 
Seeing the fambly, eating Crocodile, driving in a FIAT 500 and getting a jacket (which I barely needed) rounded out a weekend.  Leaving the confidentials aside may have been inopportune but it was definitely worth it.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

BBC NEWS | World | Asia-Pacific | Food for fuel: Olympian Phelps' unusual diet

That sounds like a fine diet to me ...  If only I could get some f**kin' grits in this country!!!!

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/7562840.stm

Pillow Fight, Anyone?

A pillow fight in Belmore Park?  A guerrilla protest against anti-gathering laws, delightfully whimsical or perhaps just a kind of wanky way to spend the afternoon?  Well, 2,000 people didn't show up although it was a fair turnout for a facebook organised flash mob – upon arrival I found myself inching away in order to disassociate myself from the type of people who would actually go to an event like this – I've done my share of flash mobs before and they're kind of amusing to a point although I felt a fair amount of cultural cringe from the uni students and social networkers (who should keep their networking online) who were in attendance – not the least of whom was the organiser, a young individual who I've had more historical contact with than I would have liked.  Why do I always seem to know multi-talent-show types (convinced they can do anything yet are always the ones who are used as the laughable rejects on reality-TV).  Still, once it started I thought it would have been kind of pointless not to participate – my height gave me an advantage in that I could avoid getting whacked in the head for the most part yet still have the reach to get the heads of others – pretty exhausting after a while.  Won't be doing it again.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Ride for Life 2008

First time for everything - the riding is not nearly as hard as I thought it would be but the strategy is surprisingly important - who'd have thought I would have been so locked in until the end.  A bit sketchy with wobbling bikes and bumping wheels at speed but nobody crashed this time.  It may have helped to realise that the bell meant I was coming in for the last lap.  Next time I'm sure I won't make the same mistakes again ... let's hope anyway.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Please, please, please let him be real ...

Ever since year 5 when I hid myself in the geeky 'Mysteries' corner of the junior library I've been hoping that the big man with the big feet could be real.  I even almost read 'The Spy Who Came In From The Cold' because somehow I made a cerebral link that suggested it could have been about his abominable cousin.  But, now, it appears that someone's caught him ... he might be dead but there are claims that there are more.  If I was a betting man I'd put money on this being a hoax (that way I'd be happy with the result, either way - it worked in the last election) and it probably is but one can hope. 
I'm not the only one who's curious - this story is topping search lists all over the world - if it is real it would have to be one of the most important biological discoveries in the history of science - proof of evolution (as if we needed more), the cryptid who's managed to hide under the radar for so long despite thousands of hours of searching - hoo hoo!  Bring on the press conference, boys!  Bring it on!
http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/claims-its-real-despite-hoax-revelation/2008/08/15/1218307173016.html
http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/small-sensation-over-bigfoot/2008/08/14/1218307118854.html

Question of the day ...

When somebody offers you a lift would you expect them to drop you off at your house or their house?  Perhaps I have strange expectations.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

A swarthy rascal!

What a swarthy rogue and ne'er do well and generally rascally roustabout!  Not only did he steal millions with his skillful plying of dark trades but he came to America with dreams of martial arts glory!  He's already selling his story to the cops and it won't be long before it's Hollywood, methinks!
http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/superthiefs-now-super-trainer/2008/08/13/1218306957017.html

Climate Change Quick Fix?

"If the planet came to depend on chemicals in space or orbiting mirrors or regular oceanic infusions of iron, system failure could mean catastrophic - and immediate - climate change.  But maintaining the systems requires a political establishment with guaranteed indefinite stability."
Francis S Collins, Former Head of Human Genome Project

Next time some sci-fi reading kook starts babbling about putting mirrors into space or dumping iron filings in the ocean to generate CO2 eating algae as an alternative to massively cutting consumption and use of global warming crud you should kick 'em in the balls (or relevant anatomical part).  Does anyone honestly think that any human made system could be indefinite?

Maybe you need to be a Russian to truly appreciate this ...

A child asks his father ... "Daddy, who was Brezhnev?"
The reply: "Oh, he was a minor politician in the time of Solzhenitsyn."

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

How Embarrassing

Oh God, to be caught out by a slightly modern version of one of the oldest scams in the relatively recent history of telephony.  I DO deserve to be punished for this.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Brakes

What say you?  Well, apparently brakeless fixies don't go down very well amongst a certain demographic - despite announcing my presence and staying well the hell away from anyone who might be perturbed by this beautiful piece of machinery it didn't stop one man (who is usually one of the nature's gentlemen according to another) from shouting out 'Stay the f**k away from me with that bike!' followed by 'Come back when you've got a front brake!' followed by other mutterings against the purity of the velocipede.  Well, suppose somebody can't be blamed for having their beliefs about safety - perhaps it was because my front wheel went beyond his (despite a fair few metres to the side) but still, there's never any need for that kind of aggression, I think.  Well, I won't bring it again, sheesh ...

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Supermarkets 'not competitive enough' - Breaking News - National - Breaking News

Don't let the headline fool you ... this is a story that is very close to my heart.  The consumer watchdog (whatever that means) has stated that supermarkets must implement unit pricing (by this, I'm presuming that for every item not only will you get the price but the price per 100 grams) so you can see how much something is at a glance.  It's all well and good to compare prices but when the same product is 200 grams in a small jar and a 165 grams in a large one you're screwed unless you happen to be carrying a calculator in your hip pocket (as I do) or a good at mental rithmatic (which I am) ... still, strike 1 for the little (if somewhat stupid) guy ... This was one of the few things I truly loved about the overpriced Tesco's in Dublin (apart from the potato farls) ...
http://news.smh.com.au/national/supermarkets-not-competitive-enough-20080805-3qbf.html

Monday, 4 August 2008

Etiquette In The Modern Era

http://www.smh.com.au/news/relationships/navigating-modern-manners/2008/07/29/1217097238836.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap1
I don't agree with everything in these lists (it is okay to take food from somebody's place but only if permission is sought ... the same goes for PUTTING something on somebody's plate) something but it's high time that etiquette is finding its place in the cultural discourse.  Now, more than ever, an SMS code of conduct needs to be published.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

A Beautiful Fraud

Say what you will about the guys who put up http://www.beijingticketing.com/.  There are stories out there denouncing this as a fradulent website that should be shut down.  Well, it may be early days and it is possible that it is a legit website (although probably not).  If it's fake ... and lots of people have been duped out of thousands of dollars, well, a crime has been committed and you've got to go after the bad guys.  But if this is fraud then it's spectacular fraud.  The website is clean, it's plausible, it's richly detailed and it's functional.  If an idiot gets scammed by some snopes-tested Nigerian email fraud then that person deserves what's coming to them.  Unsophisticated fraud will get unsophisticated and greedy victims who we don't really feel sorry for (unless it's us).  But this is so subtle - it's not necessarily going after greed (unless they're massively undercutting) nor is it a carbon copy of a bank website which will suck in anyone not paying attention (sophisticated, sure, but something we're always wary about) - it's the kind of site that we expect, the kind of URL that we expect but it's fake.  And people are expecting to shell out thousands for the tickets so even a brief run is all it takes to make millions (hundreds of millions).  It's bad, yes, but it's beautifully bad.

http://www.smh.com.au/news/latest-news/aussies-the-losers-in-ripoff/2008/08/03/1217701854125.html

Music and dancing and lots of ...

Ah, the Sydney Showboat ... a romantic evening spent criss-crossing one of the world's most beautiful harbours whilst being entertained by top notch magic and cabaret.  I suppose it might be.  Perhaps if I spent my formative years watching the Love Boat re-runs as opposed to the Albury drag shows I might have thought so.  Food was okay, I suppose (frittata should be avoided at all costs), and the magic show from the unwashed gentleman (so I heard, not smelt) who took centre stage was rather hum drum but the actual cabaret from the singing girl, dancing man and four Amazons (I LOVE shnoo-shnoo!!!) was so cheesy that I couldn't help but presume that they were emulating the drag queens and not vice-versa.  The boat was only half filled (it baffles me that they got as many as they did) with a mix of over cashed up internationals with a fair smattering of our western brethren and still nobody could answer the question.  Why?

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Live Fish Caught At Record Depth! Killed!

The statement by Dr Shillito is  classic, he says: "We urgently need to find out more about the place we are destroying."
... and we do that by capturing it in the deep and killing it on the surface (after looking at it under pressure ... for a little while).
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7525552.stm

Life Imitates Art

I don't know whether to laugh or cry but this bear with a jar stuck on its head is not something I ever expected to ever see.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7534325.stm

Cycling Style Etiquette

Well, it seems that I'm not only cool ... but "Euro-cool" ... whatever the hell that means ...
Last line is 'I don’t write these rules, I only live by them' ... well, I do one better than that - I follow them (at least the ones that count) but am unaware of them ...
http://pezcyclingnews.com/?pg=fullstory&id=6007

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Hard Core?

If I'm going to drag myself out of bed at a quarter to six on a freezing, rainy day then so should the damned SCC.  Perhaps I didn't wait around long enough but 5 minutes was enough.

The Day A Bad Movie Was Released And The Earth Stood Still

Now, I'm not a movie snob.  At least I don't think I am.  I keep an open mind for all films – whether they're from France or America (sometimes even India), whether they cost $10k or $400m to make and whether a film was made in the 20s or the noughties, it shouldn't really impact on whether it is any good or not.  I understand that films from the silver age or the golden age don't quite meet the modern expectation for realistic portrayals of human behaviour.  Films from the past were often a bit more 'theatrical' and could seem staged when compared to more recent films where everyone tries to be a 'method' man.  It is a certainty that the medium of film has become a lot more sophisticated in recent years but that doesn't stop film makers from producing dreck.  That said, I'm quite lost by the classicification of 'The Day The Earth Stood Still'.

Admittedly, the main reason for me seeking this one out was because I wanted to have a good frame of reference for watching the remake that's due to hit cinemas this year (or next?).  Already the internet has spoken of its utter disgust at having Keanu play Klaatu in the remake – Keanu doesn't have the gravity to play such an important character.  Well, now I can say that I've seen 'The Day The Earth Stood Still' and I can't think of any reason why we couldn't have Keanu Reeves playing that role.  Hell, that role could be played by Jim Carrey if you want it to be commensurate with Michael Rennie's version.   

But really, this film is not failed by the acting (which isn't that bad really) but ultimately by the directing and, more importantly, the script.  Yes, it has a strong message that peace is THE way (which is a good message) but, come on, it is so bafflingly bad.  It's like a film version of a children's book.  The message is so unrealistic that it cannot be taken seriously.  I cannot believe, even at the height of cold war tension, that if an alien spaceship landed in Washington the world's leaders wouldn't drop everything and at least listen to what he has to say.  Even the most trigger happy soldier wouldn't shoot a visiting alien unless it was in retaliation.  I am aware that the whole aim of the film is to point a finger at humanity's aggression and paranoia but it's done in such a simplistic manner as to make it unbelievable.  And that squanders any plausibility that the message might have.  And let's not forget the hypocrisy of the message in the first place – we live in the era of the 'unjust war' – sometimes it's right to go in with guns and sometimes it's not.  Life is not so simple that we can just tell someone to give up their weapons and their wars.  Wars are started for bad reasons and noble reasons and just because an all powerful alien tells us to stop doesn't mean that we should.  It sounds a lot like a super power meddling in the affairs of a conflict that it doesn't properly understand.   

PS – Why does the soldier burst into Klaatu's hospital room to discover him gone when in the previous shot he just strolled up to the door?  Can you explain that one to me, Arthur C Clarke? 

John Cougar Melloncat

LOL ... a cat to lead the revolution of the Evil Melon.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Darth Vader Feels Blue

I've seen plenty of Star Wars redeux's thus far and for the most part they're pretty tired but this is f**king gold ...

Friday, 25 July 2008

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

Wet weather is the cause of and solution to most of life's problems. Well, maybe not the solution. Nor the cause.
Confidentials being confidential mean I'm probably just getting stressed for no reason - the SCC's proving to be a somewhat enjoyable reason for getting out of bed in the NZ time zone - I know you're allowed to call 'Mechanical' when you've got a bike failure but is 'Medical' a valid reason to stop the bunch? The cold weather caused my contact lens to pop out and after rolling off and fixing myself up I tried to catch up but after about 10 minutes of attacking I realised I had absolutely no idea where they were other than the fact that they were definitely not on the road I was on - got lost on the way home too. Still, a fair amount of riding in recent days means that I'm starting to form the basis of a training schedule - haven't done any bunches in the rain, I'm still far happier to do the wet stuff on my own but we'll see how it goes. Post fambly visit drinks at the Polo Lounge (did you say cocktail attire? I thought you meant 'courier'), stole a nametag, praised a young gentleman who gave me a beer (after introducing myself as the editor of a fairly substantial website he paused and then said, 'Hey! You're my boss!'), fought off Carl Williams for the hand of my lady friend and then beat the taxi home. Wet weather has, once again, delayed my childhood dream of flying but not before I got half drowned in getting half way there. C'est la vie.

Crashes

I don't know if I'm all too comfortable with this road racing ...

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

He's gonna make it!

What?  Did you think pancreatic cancer with an estimated 5% survival rate could stop THE Swayze?
http://www.smh.com.au/news/people/im-a-miracle-dude-says-patrick-swayze/2008/07/23/1216492518327.html

Monday, 21 July 2008

Make your own f**king sandwich!

Oh, you ate mine ... hmm.

More Flying

I Don't Have A Death Wish, I Have A Life Wish

That's one of the nicest things that somebody's ever said about me.  It is true that I might try to jam too much stuff into the limited number of hours that are in the day (or the short life that we have on this Earth for that matter) and as such things get missed and some things get done in a half arsed manner.  The last weekend was no exception and I found myself unfortunately skipping a movie that I was at least half curious in seeing in order to do some much needed Zen and the Art but was very glad to find that the tin stock I found in a Castlereagh St hardware store was more than suitable for fixing the ongoing stem slippage problem that Puck has been suffering - as such going down hills is that much easier (although I still found myself being overtaken by just about every other rider in the Sydney Cycling Club on the descent into Watsons Bay, including the sextagenarians (that's only my guess) but still kicked some corporate ass on the way up and races are always won by the climbers (so I've heard).  Did manage to lose them (they evidently go to a different coffee shop on Saturdee) but that meant I got to spend more time with my lady friend so I shan't complain this time.  An old beer keg that was apparently stolen by my brother about 12 years ago found itself reincarnated in the form of a spit roasting barbecue and delectable meats were charred and rested in aid of the birthday celebrations of a certain friend of mine although late nights and early starts took their toll. 
Despite having secured a date with Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday along with the other 400,000 local and international Catholics (and others curious about the largest collection of people in Australian history celebrating the greatest delusion in world history) I found that this event clashed with an alternative once in a lifetime experience (well, fairly exciting opportunity anyway) of going for a low flight around my favourite city in the world - it seems that its de rigeur for EVERYBODY in the social flying industry to make jokes about the slim chances of making it back but it was a fairly relaxing and incredibly scenic way of seeing the sprawl of Sydney.  Chances of me taking up this hobby are very unlikely but it's a great way to spend a Sunday.

Champagne Comedy

Come Fly With Me

I missed a date with the pope for this ...

Friday, 18 July 2008

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Cyclehawk

I've met that guy ...

Disappointing

I was hoping that this was a story about Phoenix finding the Beagle on Mars ... but it's not.
http://www.smh.com.au/news/unusual-tales/beagle-lost-for-five-years-found-1370km-away/2008/07/16/1216162903184.html


Ridin'

Six o'clock starts have never been my thing (ever).  So God knows why I've decided that joining a cycling club would be a good thing - well, the only way one can get a racing licence is by joining a "registered" club and getting real interest from the unherded cats was not forthcoming and, hey, I built a road bike for speed and I'd like to be able to see how I go up against the weekend warriors so there weren't really many options.  I also can't really complain about the meeting point considering it's 2 minutes from my house.  In any event, rocking up in the pitch black to meet up with a bunch of riders in order to bunch ride with them isn't the way any sane person should be spending the hours between 6 and 7am.  On the Tuesday managed to find the Sydney Cycling crew without too much effort and was graciously allowed to hide in the back and try to decode the etiquette of bunch riding (it seems that it's de rigeur to shout a lot and point at things on the road - it also appears that red lights are for stopping [who'd have though???]).  Initial ride was not terribly taxing - a pretty fast dash out to La Perouse and back but I have to say that I prefer riding around cars than bikes.  It feels very sketchy to ride on someone's back wheel with only a few feet from the guy next to you - two tonnes of steel hurtling beside me just seems safer than 5 kilos of carbon.  Strange. 
Day II was even sketchier - for some reason I found myself jumping onto the back of the "fast group" - it just seemed preferable to ride with 2 people rather than a dozen - once again, keeping up wasn't really a big problem - the up hills weren't too bad but the descents were, quite frankly, terrifying.  Crappy roads and a handlebar stem that keeps slipping meant on several occasions I was riding brakeless for far longer than I wanted to be - one not so nice moment saw me taking a side street as an exit ramp when I was hurtling down South Dowling (I think it was South Dowling Street anyway).  But hey, that can be fixed.  Slight tension in the legs and nasty feelings in my chest from over exertion on the ascents notwithstanding all in all, feel pretty good.  Let's hope the courier nickname doesn't get resurrected.  Huzzah.

The First Step To Enlightenment Is Knowing That You Know Nothing

Ho Ho!  Interesting and unexpected take on the idea that the one thing we really know about genetic is that we don't really know anything.  The more we learn the more we realise that we don't have a f**king clue as to what genes actually do to behaviour.
http://mobile.nytimes.com/article;jsessionid=918F5EA11D6A520700A9C49251EDBF6C.w6?a=203381&f=28&single=1

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Police State?

Now, at last check I considered myself an atheist but I find the extreme objections to World Youth Day kind of petty. 

This is a WORLD event.  Not too different from  APEC, the Olympics or the World Cup - there is a great deal of attention to the fact that Christians (and Catholics at that) only represent a fraction of the population yet the city is being shut down on behalf of them.  I have to say I was pretty annoyed at the security measures that took away several of my City-North Sydney routes when Dick Cheney came to visit but I understood that these were measures designed to protect a high profile figure (annoying as it was). 

Whenever a world event comes to a city there's always a great deal of resistance from groups who just don't have any interest in the subject.  When the Olympics came to Sydney in 2000 there was a great deal of community backlash from those who weren't too interested in sport - there was whining about the crowds who were inevitably going to crush the city, the pressures on the public transport system and the sections of the city that were going to be closed off for the various events.  In the end a fair number of Sydney siders ended up vacating the city for the period - when they came back a fair swathe of them were rather disappointed that they missed the party.  I don't even like watching sport but I can tell you that in the end I had a pretty fantastic time.

Christians invading a city is a pretty harmless event - it's not as if we're living in the dark age of Jerusalem or the Spanish invasion of South America when a Christian invasion was something to really worry about.  I can't imagine that the pilgrims are going to be much pillaging or cause social unrest - at worst, their singing could stretch the patience somewhat.  I'd much prefer happy-clappers to the football hooligans we're aiming to invite for World Cup Sydney in 20XX.

The anti-annoyance laws are a fair call as long as they're being implemented fairly (of which there is no legal guarantee that is for sure) but one can only hope that the people who will be charged under these "draconian" laws will be those who deserve it.  And there will be protesters deliberately trying to be as annoying as possible in order to get arrested (thus vindicating their cause).  Yes, there are legitimate protests against Christianity (not the least of which is that the entire operation is one HUGE scam) and they will be conducted but deliberate interruption of the event can and should be prevented.  Like it or not, the city and the country has invited these people and they deserve to be treated like guests.  Even if we are allowed to laugh at the delusions.

Friday, 11 July 2008

Thursday, 10 July 2008

AdCents

After a convoluted process of trying to get my AdSense account properly hooked up with other online identities I've finally managed to work out the riches this blog has brought me.  The popularity of evilmelon is such that my click revenue has amounted over the past three years to a staggering $2.63.  I think it's time for a celebration.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Shut Up And Race!

And while you're at it ... Get Ready ... For Mach 3!!!