Monday, 30 June 2008


Yes, and she was attacked by the Loch Ness monster when she went swimming too ...

A likely story ...

Oh well, what do we have here?
Some cryptozoologist is making bizarre claims that the mythical creature known as a 'bear' has attacked a girl riding in a 24 hour bike race ...  I'm all for the stranger than fiction 'Oddly Enough' stories that were once only privy to those who scoured the international press for the weird and wonderful but which are now available to the plebian masses through AP and Reuters (those bastards) but this is beyond the pale.  Bears are loveable trained creatures who do not live in the wild, do not steal pickernick baskets and do not maul human beings.  This is a claim that must be debunked.  The wild bear does not exist.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Ban The Cyclists?

Bless his idiotic and misguided soul ...  Where to start?  Yes, Sydney is a bit hillier than Amsterdam or Copenhagen (in fact, I've even heard the San Franciscan couriers compare it unfavourably to their own city in terms of the inclines) but come on, after a few weeks of riding, it becomes second nature to even the chunkiest commuter.  Sydney is not a bike friendly city but that's due to the nature of the relationship between cyclists and drivers - the testosterone inflamed rages that result in cyclists attacking cars and vice versa are only going to reduce if the infrastructure is built to accommodate the bikes that will get these two competing forces out of each others way.  Even if this happens there will be cyclists riding in traffic but they will hopefully be the ones who know how to do it.  Cycling to work is good for the cyclist's health, good for the environment and better for the roads.  There is a global movement to move towards a less impacting lifestyle - this is part of it.  Accept it.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

It Ends In Africa

Well, I find it hard to sympathise with Mugabe but it's interesting to read an alternative view ... I can't imagine that this article's got much to do with the truth though.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Evil Comes Of Age?

I would consider myself something of a filmophile - I don't see as many as some but I see more than others - I'm also a staunch believer in ensuring the films I do see cover the broader spectrum whether it be the winter blockbuster (got to cater for the flip in seasons) or the the latest indy doco to come out of one of the 'Stans - for this reason you often see a lot of crap but conversely a lot of stuff that's pretty good. However, sometimes you get lucky and you see something truly great.  The subject matter of 'Boy A' is difficult, to say the least, but it is a story of redemption and I love a story about redemption.  Watching it one can't help but be reminded of the real story (Bulger) that was played out more in the gutter press and although it did get it's fair share of more relative reporting it was very difficult to examine the story without being caught up in the public lynching mob.  Perhaps we needed a few decades to numb the rage in order for the fictionalised account to be written and eventually get made into a relatively major film.  The film is one of fiction but it was so beautiful and Eric/Jack's story was so tragic that I couldn't help but sympathise with the real world killers.  It's a powerful reminder that we live in a society with rules and some of those rules are that if we commit a mistake or a crime we are punished.  Jail is a punishment but it is also there to help to reform wayward citizens.  Living in a society means accepting that prison can reform - it doesn't always work but we have to trust that it can and when somebody has paid their debt to society in the form of completing their prison term then they have a right to return to society and we have a duty as citizens, whether we are happy with it or not, to accept their return. 

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Multiple Consumers Wants Single Pages

Now, I don't read the New Yorker but it seems that far more news sites are splitting their stories across multiple pages - it doesn't matter that the length of the article might hardly be longer than the length of this blog entry - one can only assume it's to increase the amount of ad exposure.  I'm not exactly sure of how ad revenue is calculated but I'd be very surprised if that short article that's been split into three pages will attract triple the clicks or views which translate loosely into shekels.  Most sites, including my previously beloved, increasingly tabloid, give an option of viewing the story on a single page, but increasingly they don't (it's starting with it's business arm, is one which forces the user into splitting the page and don't get me started on the ridiculous new format of the mobile version). 

Ad revenue must be the reason for the driver but can't the webmasters (more likely marketing managers) see or comprehend the damage they're doing to their sites?  Newspapers and magazines have been splitting stories for years in order to force their readers to wade through the advertisements but the web is supposed to be different.  The ads are already there - sometimes to the side, sometimes in the middle, sometimes at the end, often all over.  Readers are quite used to rolling up and down to read the news - splitting the stories across multiple pages ruins the flow and ruins one of the best features of the web media.  And, like any practice that increases revenue at the cost of diminishing the end user experience once one provider does it it gives an incentive for the next one to do it and before you know it everyone is doing it and the community accepts it as the way things are. 

Now, most people are probably grudgingly accepting of this practice and the user whining is not going to change it.  However, there's more than one way to skin a cat.  One presumes that news sites are doing this annoying practice in order to increase views of ads which translates to higher revenue - the people who are paying for these ads are basically being ripped off by the news providers.  Ad views are being inflated by at least a factor of two when it becomes common practice to split stories across two events which means that splitting of stories is basically fraud.  Yes, you can justify it by saying that you want the story to fit on the screen but nobody will buy that when the content that is left on the page after the split NEVER fits on it anyway. 

I'd really like to hear a proper argument as to the benefits of splitting stories - perhaps there's something I'm missing but ...

< blog continued >


Monday, 16 June 2008

Evenish Stevenish

The lure of gambling is supposed to come from the thrill of winning big when there's a risk of losing big so how come I always seem to come up average whenever I play poker?  The latest game had the rather average result of nobody losing a huge amount and nobody really cleaning up either.  In fact, in this latest game, the only one who really lost was the one who seemed to have all the magic tricks with the cards.  Still, I'm not going to complain about the fact that I didn't lose my shirt.  Other entertainments included watching various installments in various blockbuster franchises ...  Prince Caspian was particularly disappointing although I was rather surprised at how accurate the film was to the book when I wiki'd the story afterwards - on the other hand, I felt it was difficult to divorce the merits of the infamous franchise 'reboot' of 'The Incredible Hulk' from the insults being laden upon its predecessor.  Every time I watch Ang Lee's heart breakingly beautiful flop I seem to like it more.  Whoever could call it an insult to the true fans is obviously missing the point.  Watching Superbikes is not the best way to spend a Sunday evening but it helps if you've got Australia's leading authority on hand to tell you what the f**k is going on.  Long fixie rides are a great way to ride off the booze as well.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Voters choosing president too risky: G-G - National -

Very surprising seeing this view coming from a Governor-General but for the most part completely agree - I've always thought that the voter elected president is absolutely not the model we should have for Australia.  American style presidential elections where the masses can be swayed by a singular personality is not the way to elect the leader of a country.  I was always relatively partial to the model put forward in the last referendum - the deceptive Monarchist campaign argued against the entire Republican idea by cannily implying that what all Republican supporters really wanted the a voter-elected President and they should support the Monarchist cause for the moment and wait until the "good" model appeared on the agenda.  The reason why the Monarchists won that debate is the very reason why we can't have the masses choose the President.  The campaign with the most money wins.  And every time the "Presidential election" comes along it will be another referendum where the richest guy with the most persuasive "sell" gets elected.   I'm hoping the plebiscites go back to the original proposal and they it's just sold better.  And next time we won't have to worry about the hard sell again.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Those Evil Salsa Dancing Men

A flat week of confidentialisms failed to be compensated by an evening of light hearded salsa.  A relatively downhill ride towards my darling harbour was probably not the best thing to do on a bike that was, more or less, brakeless - the scuffing of sidewalls is not what one wants to hear when hurtling towards the back of a taxi but no impact means no f**kin' worries.  Male:female ratios not nearly as horrendous as some might have suspected but am sure that was the reason for my companion's presence although if one was not only to count the male population who are in possession of a neck that separates their heads from their shoulders then it was lady city.  Still, quantities of beer and hilarious stories concerning the trials and tribulations of the men who live in a certain house in Redfern made for quite the pleasant evening.  And being the gentleman that I am I think I did all I could to put a Brazilian and an Englishman in good stead for romance.  And maybe that's what the night was all about.

I think I prefer my salsa with corn chips.

The Riddle of Steel

Fire and wind come from the sky, from the gods of the sky. But Crom is your god, Crom and he lives in the earth. Once, giants lived in the Earth, Rider. And in the darkness of chaos, they fooled Crom, and they took from him the enigma of steel. Crom was angered. And the Earth shook. Fire and wind struck down these giants, and they threw their bodies into the waters, but in their rage, the gods forgot the secret of steel and left it on the battlefield. We who found it are just men. Not gods. Not giants. Just men. The secret of steel has always carried with it a mystery. You must learn its riddle, RiderYou must learn its discipline. For no one - no one in this world can you trust. Not carbon, not aluminium, not titanium.  Steel you can trust.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Blinded By The Sink

Despite wasting my first sick day since taking on my latest career development on a day when I was actually just in the preludes of the acute viral nasopharyngitis I took it upon myself to not exactly be completely productive in the absence - in the end felt a hell of a lot worse when I actually returned to say goodbye to my favourite marketing manager ...  did work on my valuable looking skills and tore through no less than six movies in two days (a couple of half decent Sydney Film Festival ones as well - nothing I'll be writing home about just as this point although I have to say I do like Sam Rockwell's work).  The housewarming for Chez 2021 was always going to be a bit of a struggle considering both of the key players were suffering from aforementioned viral infections but I've always been one for pushing through - fairly interesting mix of people - probably shouldn't have headed out to the "night club" afterwards where I was reminded of how old I am and how far I've come - the anthropologist in me kept on breaking down the other patrons into their various subgroups (guy looking to get laid; guy looking to get smashed; girl trying to make boyfriend jealous by dancing suggestively towards other man; etc etc) - upon escaping Kings Cross I found I'd left my voice behind and woke up to what could possibly be the worst hangover I've had to endure for eons.  Not just a vodka/vermouth/beer/tobacco headache but loaded with lack of sleep and phlegm filling up every spare space in my skull - to top it off I'd flushed a contact lens down the sink (but I did get it back).  Good thing I've got someone to take care of me when I get ill.  I think I'll have to do it more often.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Sunday, 1 June 2008

And On The 7th Day He Rested

After a weekend that started with excessive consumption at a dinner party (kids and Elton John with a lot of serving platters - so the sands of the hourglass pass as by) followed by a not necessarily awful night seeing The Necks for the second time (am sure they have been mentioned some time previously on this blog so I should have been prepared) ... I'd been dragged to a Sydney Festival free jazz (not as in you don't have to pay for it, good God) event that in previous years by my ladyfriend (during our courting period) and had vowed never to allow her to choose another musical event again when what happens over a year later? As we walk in I'm told that it could be something similar to what I'd been subjected to in days past; as we sat down I thought to myself that the instruments were somewhat familiar and when the musicians walked out I realised I was seeing the same f**kin' band and they played the same f**kin' music although it wasn't as painful this time (with some alcohol to dull the pain) - but dulling the pain was not what I should have been doing that night because at the crack of 10am I was finding myself doing the Great Nosh again, four years after my last attempt. The 15k run was remembered as one of the most exhilirating fun runs I've ever had the pleasure to do - although then I was in my running hey day and 15 clicks when I was used to doing a hundred in a week (?) was nothing - for a boy who doesn't run anymore it was somewhat different. My ankles were rolling at every step, orthotic inserts were blistering my soles and I was stumbling and burning with every knee jarring step. The last five k's, were awful, the last 2 even worse - never have I found myself being overtaken so often near the end of a race - wheezed in over the finishing line and onto my knees and gagged out bile for five minutes. Well, at least I beat my cousin, who's getting into a fitness blitz, and I even, amazingly, beat my previous time (from a 4 years younger, seriously more dedicated runner) by a full 33 seconds. That's pretty awesome I think.

The Revolution Has Arrived

About a year after my return from Europe I have finally managed to reconstruct Termiten's perfect single speed brake handlebar configuration. Armed with an old pair of handlebars, a hacksaw and a couple of Deore brake levers I picked up in Berlin for a song I rebuilt and changed her from a somewhat ordinary looking ex road bike to a completely customed single speed the likes of which Sydney has never seen before. A few tweaks are still needed to get total functionality but they're on their way and she's a very pretty looking conversion. I think we could be seeing copycats springing up all over this city and if we don't, well, she'll be unique then.