Monday, June 30, 2008

The link that should have stayed missing

(With apologies to the Club and the real missing linkers.)

The link that should have stayed missing
All the news fit to chisel on a cave wall: blog links for Primitive Man.

The blogger in the cast-stone cave maintains: "Just because we're troglodytes doesn't mean we have to act like one."

Oz Neanderthal proposes a bold new idea for the furtherance of his progressive ideals amongst his fellow neanderthals. He calls it the patriarchy.

Big Man Lambert warns his tribe of the dangers of the coming glacial age.

Meanwhile, the Merkelman invents the wheel and tries to patent it. Small problem: the patent office isn't going to be in existence for another ten thousand millenia...

The religious debate we had to have! Cro-Magnon Lad extols the virtues of the Earth Mother, "The Ever Fruitful one, who has given life to us all!" Meanwhile, The Druid proposes we all make human sacrifices to propitiate the wrath of the Mighty Sky God!

Caveman Blair is feeling understandably patriotic, and proposes we adopt a new anthem: "Let them all go to hell, except cave 17!"

Could the discovery of fire be used as a weapon by terrorists? The Cro-Magnon Lad says yes.

Amazon About Town dares any man to face her tribe of Amazons and live to tell the tale!

Primitive Theatre Notes attends three avant-garde sacrificial ceremonies. Her verdict? NOT ENOUGH BLOOD!

The Purple Tribe, meanwhile, attend the opening of the new Lascaux Caves conceptual artspace, finding that "while the play of light and shade is exquisite, and the compositions are skilfully conceived, there is very little truly original in this rendition."

Homo Slammaticus is present at the creation of music, and says: "To much rock, not enough roll."

The Piltdown Man has a blog, and dares you to prove otherwise!

Australopithecine Lefty is a shy and gentle woodland creature living off the nuts, roots and berries of the forest floor. He is also a left-winger. Why not pay him a visit?

Nailpolish Ochres invents beer, and celebrates by inventing drunkenness.

Homo Lexiconicus has been invited to work in an exciting new Government project, the Tower of Babel. Will she accept?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Braking News!


As you've probably heard by now, there are growing concerns that the media may be being increasingly misrepresented in the media. Several media figures have come forward in the past day to complain about their wilful misrepresentation by several other media figures, who also claim to have been misrepresented. But are these claims of the media (being misrepresented) being misrepresented (by the media)? Or are these media figures fairly representing the unfair misrepresentations by other media figures? And what does this all mean for democracy in Australia?

To find out, we asked several respected media figures.

LENTIL MCLENTIL, COMMUNITY JOURNALIST: These claims of media misrepresentation of the mainstream media by community journalists are complete misrepresentations of the truth.

JONES FOTHERINGTON-MONEYBAGS, MAINSTREAM MEDIA EXECUTIVE: Claims of mainstream media misrepresentation made by community journalists are misrepresented claims, that's what. And any misrepresentations to the contrary are misrepresented misrepresentations, that's right!

PYJAMAS SMITH, BLOGGER: A number of misleading comments have been made by the mainstream media in the past couple of months regarding the amount of cat photographs I publish on my blog. I would like to say here and now that these misleading claims about my fondness for cat photographs on my blog are completely misleading. I publish much more cat photos than they suggest.

While the debate about media representation of the media is unlikely to be settled soon, it is worth asking, can the media do anything to change widespread perceptions of bias against the media? A number of prominent media figures who claim to have been misrepresented by other media figures are calling for an investigation into their misrepresentation by other media figures Hard-hitting current affairs programs have come out with incisive analysis of their misrepresentation by other hard-hitting current affairs programs, who have hit back with incisive analysis of their own. Respected newspaper pollsters have published revealing polls of other pollsters in the process of publishing revealing polls of their own, and their verdict is unanimous: all other polls into media misrepresentation of the media are misguided misrepresentations of the real misrepresentations. However, all sides come together to agree forcefully that the other side is wrong.

It is hard to know where to go from here. Many prominent media executives little known outside their respective companies are calling for the sacking of many other prominent media executives, little known outside their respective companies, too. However, other media figures are calling for moderation and restraint, and would simply like to see the misrepresentation of the media by other media to be misrepresented in a more fair way. Some Government-funded media sources, meanwhile, are claiming that they will need more Government funding in order to find out ways to improve their misrepresentation of other media sources. Other Government sources disagree, arguing that the misrepresentation of other media sources is a private responsibility and should not be performed on the public purse.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The film with the big titulars

Perusing, as is my wont, the titles of some recently released examples of cinema verite on a trip to the local picture palace today, my eye happened to fall idly upon the title of the latest film from the M Night Shyamalan stables. The Happening, the film was called. Film titles are of course meant to be generic, but you can't get much more generic than the happening that is The Happening. It's an almost perfectly ambiguous, and hence ambiguously perfect film title. It gives nothing away, but then, it promises nothing, either: the best title for the sort of film that you spend a lot of money to go and see, and feel vaguely disappointed with after you've seen it. (This is more or less the opposite to gore-fest Snakes in a Plane, in which you know exactly how disappointed you'll be in the film before you pay to see it, but you still pay to see it anyway.) Conversation on the film, one imagines, would go something like this:

A: What just happened?

B: The Happening, that's what happened.

A: Oh dear.

I'm not going to see The Happening. I have no particular interest in what happens in The Happening, and am quite content to let The Happening happen quietly for the next month or so. But really, what a title! You might as well just call the film The Event. As a matter of fact, maybe that very title was considered for The Happening. Perhaps we could apply the same logic to other films. Romantic comedies, for instance, could be described as The Series of Happenings that Happen to Bring Two Random Characters Together in a Romantic Situation. Disaster movies could be called The Thing That Happened, and the Other Things that Happened After The Thing. Science fiction movies, The Series of Rather Improbable Happenings In Big Metal Objects With Lasers.

I eagerly await the planned sequel to The Happening, with the working title The Minor Incident That Occured In the Place With People, and the Insigificant Events that Precipitated As a Result Of It.

Friday, June 27, 2008

My day, experienced as a series of mathematical equations

1) On the time spent making a sandwich for work.

T > t

T = The time spent making the sandwich for work, t = The time the bus arrives on which one is supposed to get with the sandwich that one has made for work. Clearly, T is greater than t.

2) On the amount of food I put on my sandwich.

F > f

Here, F is the amount of food I have actually put on my sandwich, and f is the amount of food I SHOULD put on my sandwich to prevent it overflowing. Here, F is clearly greater than f. (Not to mention s = Sandwich)

3) On the likelihood of tomatoes sploshing on the keyboard.

(p + 5): 100 = 1:1, therefore, p = 95.

In this equation, the unknown variable, p, is the probability that when I unwrap my sandwich at work, a big fat juicy slice of tomato will fly out from my sandwich and splosh face down on my keyboard. From the equation above, we can see that this is pretty bloody likely indeed.

4) Amount of time spent in procrastination at work as an exponential curve:

Here, the vertical axis stands for 'time spent procrastinating', while the horizontal axis stands for 'time of day'.

5) Amount of comments left on blogs while at work:

a = 2b2 + 16c3 - 17d - 4 + n.

a = Amount of blog comments left at work, b = Idle passing whims, c = My propensity to become involved in online arguments, d = The disturbing but increasingly frequent feeling I have at work that someone might be creeping up behind me, and n = an arbitrary, whole number integer.

6) The likelihood of having an excellent day at work:

l = 5/1000i

Here, l equal to the probability that the manager will ask me into his office and offer me a $10 million a week pay rise, after tax; and i = The square root of minus one, an impossible figure - ie - pretty fucking impossible.

7) The power relationships between people at work, expressed as a simple-to-follow flow chart.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Snortripping yarns!

I've just finished reading four short stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, after having picked them up recently at a book sale in Melbourne Central. The book, "The Lost World and other thrilling tales", is a Penguin republication, and rolls in two of his 'Challenger stories' - novelettes, really - complete with the pictures that, one assumes, originally appeared in the newspapers in which the stories were published; as well as two other shorter pieces which seem almost like prototypical horror stories; and the usual long introductory essay by the scholar who may or may not know what he's talking about.

Conan Doyle of course is best remembered for his detective stories, though as this book shows he could adapt nicely to the demands of the adventure or scientific romance genres of the time . This adaptation may have partly coincided with his growing interest in spiritualism, and there's certainly an interesting ongoing argument about scientific discovery and revelation in these stories. Doyle references H Rider Haggard in the title story, 'The Lost World', which is a well-shaped adventure story about a scientific expedition to find a surviving biological enclave of dinosaurs. The second story, 'The Poison Belt', bears remarkable similarities to H G Wells' novel 'In The Days of the Comet', though it's less successful than Wells' novel.

You certainly find yourself more than a little shocked at the politics of some of these stories. They are all written in the British empire's heyday, directly before the first world war. They celebrate the virtues of adventure, of courage, of daring and adventure and scientific discovery - but also celebrate more questionable virtues. The narrator of the first story, Edward Malone, is spurred to take part in an adventure after being told by his love interest, Gladys, that 'I do want to marry a famous man.' Malone later falls in with a small band of friends (including the Professor Challenger, mentioned above) who, to varying degrees, seem to embody the sort of fame and courage that Gladys requires. Travelling to the Amazon, they are betrayed by a Mexican servant (for no reason that is immediately apparent other than that it is useful for the narrative) and left isolated on a plateau with dinosaurs. There, the Professors Challenger and Summerlee occupy their time in finding live examples of animal life and killing them. (Sometimes, to balance out the plot and make it more exciting, the live specimens spend their time chasing the live characters around and trying to kill them, too.) They are also kidnapped by a race of semi-intelligent missing links, or 'ape men', after which - again with not much plot justification - they decide to side with a group of Indians also living on this (increasingly improbable) plateau, and make war on the ape-men.

There's often very little time amongst these fast moving plot events for much description of the dinosaurs or other extinct life encountered - although there are a few important exceptions to this, one of the best being the discovery of a nest of pterodactyls:

Creeping to his side, we looked over the rocks. The place into which we gazed was a pit, and may, in the early days, have been one of the smaller volcanic blow-holes of the plateau. It was bowl-shaped and at the bottom, some hundreds of yards from where we lay, were pools of green-scummed, stagnant water, fringed with bullrushes. It was a weird place in itself, but its occupants made it seem like a scene from the Seven Circles of Dante. The place was a rookery of pterodactyls. There were hundreds of them congregated within view. All the bottom area round the water-edge was alive with their young ones, and with hideous mothers brooding upon their leathery, yellowish eggs. From this crawling flapping mass of obscene reptilian life came the shocking clamor which filled the air and the mephitic, horrible, musty odor which turned us sick. But above, perched each upon its own stone, tall, gray, and withered, more like dead and dried specimens than actual living creatures, sat the horrible males, absolutely motionless save for the rolling of their red eyes or an occasional snap of their rat-trap beaks as a dragon-fly went past them. Their huge, membranous wings were closed by folding their fore-arms, so that they sat like gigantic old women, wrapped in hideous web-colored shawls, and with their ferocious heads protruding above them. Large and small, not less than a thousand of these filthy creatures lay in the hollow before us.

As science fiction, then, it works amazingly well as an adventure story. As an adventure story, it might have been able to work even without the science fiction.

The second story, 'The Poison Belt', is more of a failure - though in its own way a far more interesting failure than 'The Lost World' is a success. For one thing, the story is based upon a long-outdated, and by now forgotten, scientific theory, 'the ether' (it's a kind of substance that permeates the entire universe). Apparently the earth moves into a portion of the ether that is poisonous to life. Thanks to Professor Challenger's prompting, the main characters secure themselves oxygen tanks, which sees them through the worst of it. This necessitates the wonderfully arbitrary sentence on page 216 of my book -

... I took a taxi, and, having ascertained the address from a telephone book, I made for the Oxygen Tube Supply Company in Oxford Street.

In order to ration their oxygen successfully, Malone, Challenger, and friends spend most of the story holed up in Professor Challenger's living room, which is a decidedly curious narrative choice on Conan Doyle's part. It affords a rather narrow perspective of the world and the human race in its death throes - and a limited perspective is more or less contradictory to the spirit of these sort of tales.* Finally, when the 'poison belt' of ether passes, they are able to go out and wander about the dead world. In one particularly poignant touch, they encounter an old woman who has been prescribed oxygen for a medical condition, and has hence survived: all she does is wonder what this will do to her stocks in a certain company. The whole odd tale concludes with the world coming back to life, in another improbably convenient twist of the plot.

A lot of the charm of these stories, of course, is the way they combine futuristic and/or visionary narratives with outdated early 20th century science. The plot device of the second story - the passing of the earth through a different form of ether - harks back curiously to nineteenth century scientific theories about the universe. Similar plot devices recur in the final two stories, especially the concluding piece, 'The Horror of the Heights', in which an airman ascends above the clouds in a pre-world war I aeroplane, and discovers what he refers to as 'the jungle of the sky' - a whole tangle of bobbing, gaseous jellyfish and airy snakes amongst the upper atmosphere. That's the sort of tale that couldn't have been written even thirty years later, but it's still wonderfully imaginative.

You probably shouldn't let the politics, and late-colonial values of these stories stop you from reading them. They're at the very least excellent entertainments by a master storyteller. And once you get past the scene-setting and the laborious plot devices, you may find hidden treasures aplenty -

Charmed magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.

One of the pictures early in the story shows the four major characters sitting in a room together, discussing the imminent destruction of the world by poison, while smoking cigarettes. Which is really quite charming.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Two poems inspired by blog comments

A tale of moulden times
For The Kingsley

I forged a blade of IRONY,
Of irony and gold; -
And it did gleam with mystic sheen,
A wonder to behold.

And with my sharp IRONIC blade,
I fell with savage force
Upon mine antient enemy
Without fear or remorse.

With angry lust, I carved its crust -
Its casements brave and bold:
Yea, I fell upon this barb'rous loaf
Like wolf upon the fold.

"Begone, foul fiend!" I shouted then,
Midst battle-din and strife;
And then - lo! - I did butter it,
With my IRONIC knife.

With buttering and battering,
I cut up chicken cold -
I sheathed my blade so bold.

But woe betide that condiment,
Be it marmite, jam, or sauce
That challenge my IRONIC blade -
Or it shall feel its force.

I forged a blade of IRONY,
Of irony and gold; -
And it did gleam with mystic sheen,
A wonder to behold.

Substitute Cat (One cat T S Eliot forgot to write about)
For PC

Substitute Cat -
I'm the substitute cat -
For the child that wasn't -
For the couple that won't.

Substitute cat
That sits on the substitute mat
In the room in the swanky and semi-
affordable flat.

Substitute Cat -
I'm the Substitute Cat -
The might-have-that-isn't,
The will-do-but-don't.

Substitute cat
Is growing quite fat
When his owners don't look
He nibbles their hats,
Without even a thank you
Or may I or please -
His substitute life
Is all pleasure and ease.

Substitute Cat-
I'm the Substitute Cat -
For someone to have a second-hand sort of
(Which Jellicoe Cat thinks
A quiet form of madness.)

Substitute Cat
He don't care at all -

Substitute Cat -
I'm the Substitute Cat...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Possible definition of obsession

Possible definition of obsession: when the person playing Scrabble with you puts the name of their football team as a play, only getting some seven points for it.

Another possible definition of obsession: my playing so much scrabble that it happens in the first place.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A blogger's review of real life

I must admit that for the past couple of years, I've been an enthusiastic user of 'real life'. Although the real life technology is still backward, and has a number of flaws and glitches in the system, a growing number of bloggers are using it. Why, it seems like only yesterday that I ran into Armagnacd's 'actual' persona in the Melbourne botanical gardens. What a surprise that was!

Having an actual personality is, of course, one of the most difficult and challenging aspects of real life. It stands in sharp distinction to a blogger's ordinary practice of maintaining a number of different identities, sign-in names, joke personalities, and anonymities depending on which site they are visiting or using at the time. In 'real life', frequently, a person is required to make a statement and, astonishingly, stand by it! This couldn't be more different to blogs, obviously.

I'm still not quite sure what the attraction of real life is. I suppose real life is - well, it just is. Thankfully, the technology is becoming increasingly more accessible to bloggers, who can upload themselves into 'the world' with a few swift clicks of the mouse. This 'world' - the base for all operations in the real life technological platform - lies just beyond the computer screen, and is astonishingly varied and detailed. Many parts of the real life world now are almost as good, or at the least quite similar to, their blog equivalents! For instance, just the other day I participated in a real life functionality known as 'going down the street to get the papers'. Whereas previously we had to go to other websites to read about the news, all I had to do in real life was go to the newspaper agency.

There are still, regrettably, a number of deficiencies to real life technology. For instance, when I want to go down the streets in real life, or go to the shops, or go somewhere, I can't just hyperlink there - so the journey can take quite some time. And for the moment, real life is without a proper comments facility. I feel it would greatly enhance the usability of real life if people were able to type in comments while engaging in one of its functions.

On the other hand, unlike blogs, real life has 'morality', a new and exciting function that I feel has great potential to be developed more. Users of real life are expected to strictly conform to certain 'moral' notions. This is a great innovation, though I'm not sure where the innovation came from, exactly. Anyway, it's one of the principal attractions of real life, and helps to explain why an increasing number of bloggers are using it every day.

As an added attraction, currently, real life is not owned by any major corporation. Bill Gates has recently attempted to buy out the copyrights for real life, without success. (Though apparently sponsorship deals are being worked out with a number of major companies.)

Still, I wouldn't use real life all the time. The strain is just too much, and some of the functions are too primitive. But I can heartily recommend it for those who are just simply curious, or want to log off the computer for a while and wander around.

Real life: four stars out of five.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tip for the day

Eat lots of Smarties. This delicious food is healthy, enervating, good for the arteries, and, most importantly of all, slimming. Eat lots of Smarties today!


They certainly like apologising, Labor politicians. They'll even go out of their way to do it for other people.
Della Bosca wrote apology to himself
New South Wales Education Minister John Della Bosca says he wrote the apology given to him by a central coast nightclub over a row involving him and his wife, federal MP Belinda Neal.

The statement was issued by the management of the Iguanas Waterfront restaurant and nightclub after staff claimed Mr Della Bosca and Ms Neal abused and threatened them.
Now, it's obviously not altogether uncommon for people to go out of a night, have a few too many drinks, get into a fight with staff, and then wake up not remembering anything about it. John Della Bosca and Belinda Neal have gone one better here: they've gone out of a night, had a few too many drinks, got into a fight with staff, and then woke up to find that the staff didn't remember anything about it, either.

I'd loved to have seen the apology Della Bosca wrote to himself here. Just how, exactly, do you go about writing something like this?
TO: Mr John Della Bosca
Dear Sir

You, the undersigned, would like to express your complete and full regrets to myself for the event that I say happened at the Iguana Nightclub on the evening of ____. It was due to a number of unfortunate oversights on your part that the events I allege to have happened did actually happen. You offer your most sincere and heartfelt apologies for these alleged events, and can only offer me your promise that what I allege to have happened (and did actually happen) won't ever allegedly happen to me again.

Furthermore, you would also like to say that after extensive consultations with your staff, you have determined that the events that you allege to have happened didn't actually happen as you allege them to have happened. You have found, after these consultations, that the interpretation of the events as you allege them to have happened was flawed, so that they didn't happen; and that on further consultation, the events that I allege to have happened did actually happen. You would further like to reassure me that the staff responsible for the incident that happened as I say it happened have been reprimanded for making it happen.

Again, you would like to offer your most sincere and heartfelt apologies for the entire incident. Which happened.

You're welcome.

Sincerely, not to mention allegedly, yours,

John Della Bosca, MLC, Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Industrial Relations, Minister for the Central Coast, Minister assisting the Minister for Finance, and Leader of the Legislative Council

Friday, June 13, 2008

Isn't science fun!

Just spotted this headline today:

Pregnancy is great for sex: Angelina

Yeah Angelina, and apparently sex is great for pregnancy too!

An unprejudiced survey of far left opinion

Well, I've just had to listen to 10 minutes of ABC's new show Q and A, and I don't know how anyone could say it was politically prejudiced. It was the most unbiased representation of left to far left opinion that I've ever encountered.

My head is awhirl with important questions about pressing international affairs*. Is it right for Japanese fishing vessels to hunt Burmese orphans in the open seas, or has the Government reneged on its promise to grant a free laptop to every child in a Myanmar school (or, for that matter, their promise to give foreign aid to Australian children living inside Australia)? And what about the issue of mulesing of live experts, and whether we should really be shipping these experts to Saudi Arabia for agricultural purposes? Wouldn't they be better kept in our universities along with students instead of being inflicted on the rest of the world? And isn't it more important that we focus on the education of young minke whales, for the future of the nation? Certainly, this show demonstrates for once and for all that the sort of critics who said that there's no way a number of difficult political issues can be discussed in a detailed manner in the short space of one hour are exactly the critics who would say that sort of thing.

These are pressing issues indeed. However, I think we can all agree with the audience member who stood up and said this:

I'm just a little bit confused.

Finally, an opinion I can wholeheartedly endorse!

*Or should that be pressing questions about important international affairs? I forget now.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The ordinary in wild and savage contrast with the everyday

It was there when I got on the train. And, despite the logo on the bottom saying 'Melbourne on the move', with whizzy little arrows all around it, it was there when I looked up and got off the train. Yes, bad train poetry is back this winter. These three-line poems that Connex are putting up on their walls are the sort of three-line poems that make you look up, read them, and then say to yourself, 'Hmmm. I've just read a three-line poem.' They are not, as a rule, significant - although they often try to be.

You might, if you wanted, detect a certain change in the poems this year. Previously, they had specialised in vague-but-pretty natural images, like mist or vapour. Popular cliches in the poems - they don't really rise to the level of themes, or metaphors, or ideas - now include nature, as well as generic inner-city references, and sport.

I jotted this one down last night:

pigeon -
why do you choose
the black wire?

And there you go - a natural image in the first line, closely followed by a generic inner-city reference. All that's missing are the sporting references, found in other poems:

Cup Day -
why am I no longer
his favourite?

That's a sporting reference, a Melbourne tradition, and an implied reference to nature (ie, the horse). I don't suppose I need to go on.

Lazy grammar is typical of the poems. They almost never start with a capital letter, and indeed, seem to be chopped out of longer, more meaningful (albeit just as banal) sentences. There is very little discernible rhythm or metre: they typically mimic the 'short-long-short' three-line structure of the haiku, though display even less formal rigour than that poetic genre, which is often learned in the seventh grade. They don't rhyme, and alliteration, symbol, metaphor, and so on, if they occur in these poems, are often incidental - if not accidental.

I find it difficult to say why I despise these poems so much. When I contemplate them, I get the vague impression that they lumber through the English language, picking up random words that were good, useful, and meaningful, and suck the life out of them. I'm not sure whether I'm wrong about that, actually: one of the traditional functions claimed for poetry is that it adds new meanings to language, or revitalises old meanings. That's a hard thing to claim for these poems, since they eschew almost any rigorous technique, and seem to exist simply to chronicle the banal, the inoffensive, and the everyday. T S Eliot once made a claim about boredom being an essential part of modern life; but then, to Eliot and other modernists, boredom and meaningless were one of their satirical modes. The banal, the ordinary, and the everyday was contrasted with the bizarre, the strange, and the surreal.

In these poems, that contrast doesn't exist anymore. All you get is the ordinary in wild and extravagant contrast with the everyday. I seriously doubt that anyone cares.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Homer is where the heater is

A poem for Anonymous, who has noted my flaws, amongst others. Plenty of flaws in this poem. Knock yourself out, Anon.

As you come up the old set of stares,
And open the scratched wooden daw,
I hope you will notice the walls -
They are used to hold down the flaw.

My flaw - it is made out of bawds,
And if all the flaw bawds weren't there,
You'd fall through the flaw - of this I am Shaw -
Right down to the side of the stare.

Sometimes, under my daw
I'll find several items of male -
All on my flaw, right along with the bawds -
Each one with a different tail.

My windows, they have several pains,
And several Venetians (blind);
But through them, I can sea all the street
And keep out the cold winter wind.

If you come to my house, I'll serve T
Or coughy, and biscuits with chips;
They're in the kitchen, right next to the flower -
And just by the four-set - that drips.

In the corner, I have a small hearter,
A hearter I use to do hearting -
When my finger freezers in cold winter breezes -
And with frost bight my ere lobes are smarting.

The paint on the daw is pealing,
The flaw has many loud creeks.
The liver room is full of old couches
And many old cheep dusty and teaks.

But still, it's my house and I like it,
Along with its flaws and its stares.
So come and have coughy some time
And sit in my old and teak chairs!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Games for the neurotic generation

Join the Rorschach Ink-blot dots

Chinese whispers for control freaks

Multiple personality disorder solitaire

Correspondence Freudian word-association

Colour in your own hallucination books

Sunday Essay: the significance of cows in modern literature

Cows are very significant in modern literature.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Six word review

Too much nerd, not enough Red.

Cigars all round

I got an email recently from some friends in Hong Kong telling me that they'd just had a baby. Yes, this is how much I keep in touch with friends. I was completely flawed by the news, and I'm still not sure whether to give them congratulations or commisserations. Still, since I'm unlikely to have a baby myself at any point in the near future, for reasons which shall remain undisclosed and obvious, I feel completely unqualified to offer my Hong Kongese friends on advice into their future as parents. So I will anyway.

Words that will acquire new and unexpected meanings for you as a parent!
TIMEWhat time is it/Is it your turn this time/Everybody should be in bed at this time/What is it this time/I didn't even know this time existed/Time out/This is the absolutely last time I'll.../This is absolutely definitely the last time I'll.../This is absolutely definitely and definitively the last time I'll...
DON'TDON'T pick your nose/don't eat that/don't hit your brother/sister/father/cousin/relative/pet/don't hit that random man on the street/don't do that, you're not a dog/don't throw that, it might break/smash/explode/shout
NONO, you can't do that/There will be no walking to school in your pyjamas/No, you'll have to put something more on than that/No, not that either/No, you can't do that/No, you can't have that/No, do you think I'm made out of money?/No, I'm not getting out of bed
WHERE/WHAT/WHENWhere did you get that/Where have you been/Where do you think you are going/What is that/What on earth are you doing with that/Just what do you think you are going to do with that/Just when were you planning on telling me that...
LOOKYou look like something that cat dragged in/You look worse than something the cat dragged in/Look at that thing the cat dragged in, and then take a look at yourself in the mirror/It's rather difficult to look at you through all that mud/Look at the time, you'd better go to bed.
ASKAsk your mother/Ask your father/You asked your mother and she said ask your father/Ask her again/Why are you asking these things anyway?/I don't mind you asking, but I can't answer that/Mind if I ask just what you've got all over you face...?
VOMIT/PEE/POO(Examples too numerous and disgusting to mention here)

Thursday, June 05, 2008

And they didn't even pinch a handkerchief

Tens of thousands of prisoners are opting not to apply for early release amid allegations that Britain's prisons are now so comfortable that they are effectively "expensive bed and breakfasts".
The figures were released on Tuesday by Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, who also disclosed that dozens of people have been caught trying to break into prisons over the past few years... Between 2003 and 2008, 42 individuals were detected attempting to break into prisons. The number of prison break-ins has increased from five in 2003-04 to 19 over the past year. Most were people breaking into open prisons.

The Telegraph

So it's come this far, has it? When did the people trying to break into the prisons start thinking they were entitled to this? Getting into prison is hard, and you have to work for it! Sometimes, it takes years of dedicated law-breaking before people get into one of those prisons. Just look at Jeffrey Archer. Many corporate offenders steal billions and billions of shareholders money in an effort to buy their way into one of these institutions, without success. And yet these people just blithely come along and think they have an equal right to the same services as all those hard-working thieves, murderers, rapists, and common old criminals out there!

Speaking as an Australian - a nation founded by convicts who worked stole hard to get where they were - I am shocked and appalled at the appalling and shocking sense of entitlement by these would be 'criminals'.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

And you thought you had it bad

Shocking tales of birth deformities!

If you thought you had a bad day, consider this man:

'Peter' (not his real name) has been deformed from birth. He has been born with a generic black bar across his face, obscuring important facial features, and making him effectively indistinguishable from shady con men who appear on tabloid television shows.

"It's been hard," confesses 'Peter' in an exclusive interview with WTFF. "Very hard. Every time I went for a job interview, employers would immediately single me out as 'that guy with the black bar across his face. Very probably a criminal.' I began to wish that they could look beyond the black bar, and see that I had a very impressive resume to back up my application!"

Although eventually securing long-lasting employment for the Department of Workplace and Training, 'Peter' admits that his facial deformities have affected every part of his life.

"Even as a kid, I was singled out in the playground as the one most likely with criminal connections. Nobody would want to play Chasie with me. And they kept on accusing me of cheating in hide and seek!"

'Peter' has also had substantial difficulties in forming long-lasting relationships, and apparently family get-togethers remain 'difficult' and 'fraught'.

"I mean, sure. Mum doesn't think I'm a criminal," admits 'Peter'. "But every now and then, I catch her looking at me in a very suspicious manner. She knows I can't help looking the way I can... but she's only human I guess. But that doesn't make it any easier."

'Black bar face', or, as it is called in formal medical jargon, 'black bar face syndrome', is notoriously difficult for doctors to operate on. "Children are born with the black bar attached to the front of their cerebellum," says Doctor Lieu, of Sydney Children's Hospital. "So we can't just remove the bar. There's no easy way to fix them of this deformity, like cosmetic surgery. It can't be done."

When asked, 'Peter' informs us of several conversations he has had with his doctor. "At one stage, the doctor said he might be able to lessen the severity of my condition. He could operate on my face so that, instead of having a black bar over it, it could be pixellated instead. That would downgrade me from tabloid con man to member of a witness protection program."

Unfortunately, the trouble with looking like someone from a witness protection program, 'Peter' was told, was that he could actually be mistaken as someone from a witness protection program. "Which could be quite dangerous".
"So for now, I'm just going to have to stay like this." continues 'Peter'.

'Peter' finishes his coffee in the cafe we have been talking, and walks to the front door. As he reaches the door, two young boys who are about to come in look up, see his face, and shrink back in fear. 'Peter' puts his hands in his pocket and trudges away. It's just another day for him. Just another day.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

My whole day, in halfs

This morning, I dragged myself out of bed at half-past the hour, of half-past the half-past the hour. I may only have been half awake, but didn't realise it as I was half asleep at the time. (Or should that be the other way around?) I poured myself half a bowl of rice bubbles before the packet ran empty, and then made half a cup out of the coffee I had left. Later, I stumbled into the bus on High Street at half past eleven and got off at Coburg, where I met my ex-flatmate.

I stumbled down the old hallway and scrutinised my bookshelf, which was either half fallen apart, or half put back together, depending on which way you looked at it (that is, the wrong way, or the worse way.) Then we went into the kitchen, and had a look at the bills. We did it this way: we halved the price of the bills, and then on some parts of these bills, we halved it again, and kept on halving it until we came up with a price that looked wrong. Then I paid them.

In the evening, I logged on to the computer and read Halfway to Hotzeplotz and Halfhearted Hack and considered whether this was a glass half empty or a glass half full kind of day. Whichever half it was, it was probably the wrong half. And that ain't half bad.
Email: timhtrain - at -

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