Friday, October 29, 2010

Like coffee without sugar, milk, water, or coffee

"The hymnal didn't have any music in it. It was Presbyterian."

I always did think tuneless and gloomy mumbling was the best method of hymn delivery, anyway.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The lack of all these positrons puts me in a very negative frame of mind

I was reading on Catallaxy the other day that
The Australian Conservation Foundation has hit back, releasing the results of a national poll of some 1500 people that appears to confirm that over three-quarters are in favour of the problems of the Murray-Darling being fixed...
and that (according to the ACF)
New polling shows more than three quarters of Australians (77 per cent) agree that degradation of the Murray-Darling needs to be fixed now...
Blimey. Sounds serious. These people being polled are in favour of problems being fixed, and shortages being rectified. As for that one quarter of people who aren't in favour of a problem being fixed, well, one wonders what they'll do if a problem happens to them? That would be very problematic, indeed.

Then again, most people would probably agree with a survey statement statement that 'there are too many chemicals in our food' or 'we have to stop using chemicals in cleaning products'. (Although of course almost everything is made out of chemicals.) That's all right, it doesn't make them stupid - you don't have to go around carrying a set of dictionary definitions in your head to be considered intelligent - but it would seem to indicate that survey results can sometimes be a little bit, er, misleading.

It makes you wonder what people won't agree to on surveys. I've got one or two surveys of my own in mind, something like...

Do you strongly agree, agree, neither agree nor disagree, disagree, strongly disagree with the following statements:

1. There is a shortage of positrons in this section of the universe, and something should be done to rectify this shortage before nothing is done.

2. All religions should be respected, and so there is nothing wrong with the worship of Cthulhu.

3. There is a lack of neutrinos in our galaxy, and we need immediate government funding to rectify this imbalance.

4. Problems are bad, and badness is wrong, so we should all do something random immediately in order to stop this wrong badness from causing problems.

Thank you for your assistance. I look forward to drafting a self-righteous press release and hurling it at every available media source as soon as the results of this survey are back in.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The boot is one of Australia’s proudest traditions

Since everybody’s talking about this issue, I will too. It seems a disgruntled voter took the chance to sink the slipper in to former Prime Minister John Howard yesterday.

He was quickly shoed out of the place by ABC staff.

It seems to me that this so-called shoe-of-arms is a decidedly ambiguous policy. For one thing, it makes him seem like a shoe-off, with no substance. Also, what if he really decides to sock it to the Prime Minister? Is this going to become the stocking-trade of political debate? Then again, it was years ago that John Howard first started talking about flip-flops, and I’d imagine he’s still thinging the same thong now.

While it’s worthwhile trying to raise important is-shoes in innovative ways, one would hope this manner of debate will be es-shoed in future.

UPDATE! A tosser. Another tosser. (Via here and here.)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Serene songs of suburbia

Sounds made by the boys next door playing Xbox (and by boys I mean 25 plus year old men):


Some of those sounds were made by the computer. Not that it changes things much.

Cigarette smoking fish

Today the Baron and I saw Gainsbourg, a film about the life of French singer, song-writer, performer, and whatever else, Serge Gainsbourg. It consists of a series of pleasingly arranged sounds and colours, like a jazz piece, and it doesn't really end up going anywhere much, again like a jazz piece. There's an enjoyable animated opening credit sequence, with cigarette-smoking fish - and a series of gigantic puppets toddling around, for no particular reason - and, oh, a supermodel wandering along a corridor wearing a leopard-skin jacket with an Afghan terrier in tow. That supermodel is Brigitte Bardot, or rather an actor playing Brigitte Bardot, and of course a dog actor acting the part of Brigitte Bardot's original dog. Seeing as Brigitte Bardot was famous for looking beautiful and pouting, the actor playing her does her best to do the same thing, and almost nothing but; it's a good performance but I don't know whether she should win any prizes for it. There's also a lot of wallpaper, black satin sheets, and turquoise couches, so much so that when people appear they mostly get in the way: but the nice thing about wallpaper is it never complains about being upstaged, even when it should. Oh, and of course, there's smoking - my God is there smoking, with people wandering around everywhere with ciggies stuck in their mouths, doing not-particularly-interesting-things and making slightly-more-interesting clouds above their heads while they do them.

I don't really know what to say more than that; actually I suspect I could have said a lot less. I enjoyed seeing the film but would have equally enjoyed not seeing it. It was like Sunday afternoon television, at the cinemas on Sunday morning. Fair enough then.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Deep in the ancient primal darkness

Deep in the ancient primal darkness of prehistoric times - don't worry about what we're doing deep in the ancient primal darkness of prehistoric times, that's not the point - anyway, deep in the ancient primal darkness of prehistoric times stalks the primordial cat. It is hunting the prey of all cats, since time immemorial - a nice juicy plateful of Iams, or can of Whiskas, or something like that. Fierce! Vigilant! Unrelenting! does the primordial cat stalks its pathetic prey, as it whimpers in its pitiable weakness and vulnerability.

Somewhere in this barren wilderness, in the ancient primal darkness (et cetera) there sits a chair. It is a very nice chair, as chairs go - with lovely little flowers embroidered over it, and splotches of this and blotches of that. (And don't go asking what a lovely chair like that is doing in prehistoric times. What, you let the plateful of Iams and the can of Whiskas slip by, and now you start asking unhelpful questions?) And also, it has very nice looking comfortable cushions tastefully arranged on it in a way that make it look very inviting. And maybe an antimaccassar.

The primordial cat, savage and sleek, comes to the chair. And sits down upon it.

And here we come to, or rather sit down upon, my point (and my point is of course a metaphor, otherwise it would rather hurt our bottoms, sitting down on it). In this unforgiving Darwinian wilderness, where the struggle for scarce resources and bowls of Iams and all that goes on day after day, night after night, what is this primordial cat doing sitting on this chair? In such a way that the blotches and splotches on its coat coincide so neatly with the splotches and blotches on the upholstery of the chair? Does this not strike you as a design flaw? For if, by some happenstance, in this brutal, horrible, deadly prehistoric landscape the primordial chap should come along, what would there be stopping him from sitting upon that chair (for of course the primordial chap wasn't there when the cat got on the chair, and now can't make out the cat-like blotches from the chair-like splotches) and squashing the cat?

This scenario, I believe, refutes both naive Darwinian evolutionary theory, and Creationist argument-by-design. For by what evolutionary process could Nature have brought her cat, the huntress, up to this point, where it so perfectly camouflages with a chair - when that very ability to camouflage itself renders it helpless when it confronts the substantial posterior of its most deadly enemy? Nor can Christian believers take comfort from this scenario either. What on earth did God put a chair in that barren wilderness for? It's much better in the lounge room.

I take my last words from William Blake, who should have known better than to say he wrote this, 200 years before I was born:

Kitten! Kitten! Burning bright!
In the sofas of the night!
If I were a Whiskas plate,
I'd be in quite a frightened state!

What the dickens! Look, a bum!
Descending from the sky, it comes!
Scatter! Vanish! Run away!
Or someone here will rue the day!

Kitten! Kitten! Burning bright!
In the sofas of the night!
If I were a Whiskas plate,
I'd be in quite a frightened state!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Important reflections on groundbreaking events

Forgot to take tea bags into work again today. If this goes on for much longer, I might have to resort to straining the paperclips for juice, or boiling the dental floss in my drawer.

How to keep your chakra and chi in perfect alignment without endangering toddlers

A 2 year old toddler has been mauled after a woman's spirit dog escaped and went on a rampage, it has been reported.

"I don't know why it happened," said Dawn Fairychild Crystal-Aubergine, of Daylesford. "He was always such a peaceful spirit dog, inspiring my soul, and providing me with calm and tranquil guidance in my day to day problems, and keeping my chakra and chi in perfect alignment. I don't see how he could do this."

This is the fifth such spirit dog attack in recent months, but it pales in insignificance to the great spirit tiger rampage of 1972, in which the spirit guide of a lonely, reclusive old man living in Palo Alto, California, escaped and ate several members of the town.

There have been renewed calls for greater regulation and licensing of spirit animals following this attack. Meanwhile, Ms Crystal-Aubergine says next time, she'll get a smaller, safer spirit guide. "I'm thinking a spirit tarantula", says says. "They're so furry! Everyone loves them!"

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Story in two sentences

He was a member of the small but influential spoonerist faction of the Republican Party. He believed in the right to arm bears.

Factual factoids!

When squeezing into a tight place, everyone knows that making audible 'eeeeeee' noises while you are doing the squeezing facilitates the process. Similarly, when rising out of bed first thing in the morning, it is a widely attested fact that a series of short, rapid exhalations from the mouth - 'Oooh-booh-booh-booh-booh-booh' - make you quicker and more efficient, in the same manner as grease makes a wheel quicker and more efficient. And when you are getting into a hot bath: obviously you make the bath cooler by making short, punctuated syllabic barks, such as 'Ah! Ooh! Eh! Hah!' This is a very scientific process that has been measured in laboratories (or something like that), and there is even a scientific formula associated with the rate of cooling:

r = abd

Where r = rate of cooling, a = air temperature, b = amount of short, punctuated syllabic barks by person getting into bath, and d is an arbitrarily defined constant. (Very arbitrarily defined, since I don't know what it is.)

One more factoid for you: it is well known that if you have a cat sitting on your lap, you don't have to do anything for the rest of the day. You certainly don't have to go to work. Now, if only my lap could find one of our cats...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Thunk for the day

'Nonplussed'? What kind of a word is that, anyway? How is it possible for someone to be 'nonplussed' if they can't be 'plussed?' Tell me that!

That is a problem that leaves me absolutely - well, not 'nonplussed', but 'completely puzzled', and 'in a state of utter perplexity.'

Reportage on the weekendage that occured seven days ago

Last Saturday afternoon the Baron and I bought a house. That's good news, true, but even worse than that - it's embarrassing news. How am I going to admit it to everybody? Friends are visiting from Perth at the moment; I still haven't broken the news to them. Perhaps if we break it to them gently - sit them down, speak in very calming and reassuring voices - everything will be all right. Even so, admitting to something like this creates a certain expectation: every time they visit from now on, they'll be expecting a new dramatic announcement, like, 'oh, we bought the royal yacht', or, 'oh, we've opened up an antique wig emporium', or, 'by the way, I am wearing gold-laced underwear'. So you see the embarrassment inherent in the situation.

But anyway, house-buying! Who would have thought this was going to happen, hey? When we were tromping around Lalor, going to other auctions (we went to three auctions on the day), I was secretly afraid that we would accidentally bid for a house, and accidentally buy it. (You know, by unintentionally chewing our thumb* in a way that the real estate agent would construe as a $1 million bid, or something like that. I'm sure it's happened before.) Accidentally buying a house would be rather expensive. And of course embarrassing. Even more embarrassing and accidental than intentionally buying a house and then accidentally admitting to it, say, on a blog. Hmmm.


Let me rephrase this post.

Last Sunday morning I accidentally stepped in something the cat puked on the carpet. It put certain matters of a general nature neatly into perspective.

*Yes, we have only one thumb between us. We share. Sharing is caring.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Historical snippet

Phar Lap’s brother, Halph Lap, didn't run very fast, but for a horse he was very talented in other areas, such as advanced macrame and making the perfect souffle. Tragically, he never really got the recognition he deserved.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A positive and practicable suggestion

It's gay to be gay, but it both is and isn't gay to say that being gay is gay.

In other news, it just occured to me today that gays could adopt a similar lexical twist to the term 'homophobe' as others have applied to the term ‘gay’. ‘Homophobe’ could mean ‘happy’, and would result in loving conversations like the following:

‘Does this weather make you homophobe?’
‘I’m so homophobe to see you!’
‘Homophobe homophobe joy joy
Homophobe homophobe joy joy
Homophobe homophobe joy joy
Homophobe homophobe joy joy!’

I can’t see how this could go wrong.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Man was not born to fly - an epigram

Man was not born to fly.
It’s crowded up there in the sky -
With savage Lepidopteras
And also, helicopterers.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A tale of two Melbournes

A tale of two Melbournes: one thinks Malthouse is a theatre. The other thinks Malthouse is a footy coach. And they were each completely unaware of one another's existence - until now!

UPDATE! - Two Sydneys: one thinks the STC is a theatre company, the other that it is a horse-racing outfit.

Two Canberras: some people think the city actually exists, while everyone else knows better.

Experts in the science of television say yes

First came Hamish MacBeth, which was a series about an isolated UK village with a rather-higher-than-usual rate of quirky crimes by crazy criminals. Then came Midsummer Murders, a show about a remote UK principality with a definitely-greater-than-is-often-the-case quantity of gruesome killings and savage slaughters. Then came Doc Martin, an ongoing look at a rural UK township with a quantitatively-larger-by-an-exponential-amount of crazy conditions and shocking syndromes of the medical and/or surgical variety.

I mean, where are they going with this? If the Poms keep on making telly shows like this, soon enough we'll have Actuarial Accountancy Aldfordshire, a riveting televisual dramatisation about a small town facing a plethora of problems with the method used in computing the periodic payments that a company must make to fund its employee pension benefits. Every week, there's a new company with a new problem relating to its employee pension benefits. Plus, don't forget to tune in for the soppy ongoing love story thrown in at the last five minutes!

Television. Has it gone too far?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Story with a somewhat generic title but very edifying contents

He started off with Blair's law. She replied with Pavlov's law. He countered with Murphy's law. She parried with Godwin's law. He applied Occam's razor. She came at him with Heisenberg's cat, Pavlov's dog, and Schoenberg's budgerigar. He attacked with Escher's solids, Klein's bottle, and Rorscharch's handkerchiefs. As their argument raged, it became apparent to both of them that their life was an example of Gödel's incompleteness theorem. So they did the hokey pokey and turned around, and that was what it was all about.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Very epic post

Went to type something into google. Then realised I had completely forgotten what I was going to type into google, so I just typed 'kittens' in instead, then stared at the pictures. They were oddly disappointing.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Six word review of my blog

Doesn't live up to expectations.

Notes on a website

The Big Dugong is nice. The Big Elephant is kinda small, for an elephant. The Big Marree Man is weird. The Big Abalone is imaginative. Berri has a Big Orange, but Orange does not have a Big Berry. The Big Milkshake is Cholesterolific. For some reason Albury-Wodonga’s World’s Largest Air Guitar isn’t included. And for some other reason there are lots and lots and lots of Big Fish.

Big Things

Not for the faint of heart

Write an article for the Agricultural Times on the effect of hotter-than-usual meterological conditions on sheep entitled 'In this withering weather, whither the wether: whether the weather will wither the wether.'

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Nice one, Language. You nearly had me there for a second.

'Elephant' sounds very much like 'elegant'. But just you try going up to a lady and saying, 'you look very elephant in that dress'. Go on, do it now!

On the other hand, 'rhinoceros' doesn't sound very much like 'toilet impersonating duck', and I think we all know what that means.

You just can't trust Language. It'll always try and put one past you.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Offended? I'll give you offended!

I'll tell you what I get offended by. Those incredibly rude people who stand still on the right-hand side of the escalator. They get in the way of all those people who want to try a spot of 'run in the opposite direction to that way in which the escalator is going'.

This has been brought to you by Tim, advocate of the 'Rigidly Enforce Rules of Etiquette In Those Situations In Which The Ridiculous Whims of One Person Are Inconvenienced by the Normal Behaviour of Many Others' school of thought.

UPDATE! - Elevators are also good for playing 'corners' on. I'm not quite sure how yet, I haven't worked that one out. In the meantime, next time you're on an elevator, improvise.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Untied Nations

THE United Nations was set today to appoint an obscure Malaysian astrophysicist to act as Earth’s first contact for any aliens that may come visiting.

- UN to appoint Earth contact for aliens (thanks Caz!)
I've noticed a bit of commentary about this news story in the last few days. However, I'm slightly surprised that no-one has mentioned the obvious point yet: who knows if the United Nations really does exist?

I for one am still a skeptic when it comes to the question of the UN. No firm evidence has come in either way. While the existence of the UN remains a tantalising possibility, giving hope and meaning to tens of millions of people (or maybe just tens) whose lives would otherwise be spiritually impoverished, where is the clear, factual, undeniable proof?

I accept that there are many, many people out there who have based their entire careers around the existence of the UN. There have been thousands of so-called demonstrations of the UN's existence, in documentations of meetings, photographs of members, and news stories about apparent 'leaders' of the 'UN' who express 'deep concern' about a number of events in the world. And yet, if such an organisation really exists, why does it never seem to make anything happen? And why is the documentation of UN meetings so difficult to understand? What makes the goals of this supposed organisation so nebulous, and how come the public statements attributed to them so full of bland generalisations? Wouldn't it be simpler if we argued that the 'United Nations' isn't really the 'United Nations' at all, but just a group of old men and women meeting in buildings around the world and saying a number of important sounding, but meaningless, things in order to get attention and feel better about themselves?

And yet, it is true, there is a genuine mystery out there about the existence of the UN. The reasons these people keep on meeting up, given their failure to achieve lasting world peace or an end to world poverty, is very mysterious indeed, after all.

But in the end we must be practical about this: what will happen if the aliens do attempt to make contact with the UN and find that they don't exist after all? Like God attempting to contact Moses and instead getting his annoying little brother Nigel, that would be pretty annoying for all concerned, and could possibly end up in devastation for the entire human race.

Perhaps one day members of the UN will make contact with the rest of us, and a new age of enlightenment and civilisation and peace will dawn, but until then, I'm afraid I will have to remain a skeptic.

Ban Ki-Moon: is he the head of a hypothetical organisation known as the UN, or does he lead a pointless life following meaningless rules and uttering nonsensical statements in the service of an organisation that does not actually exist? No-one can really know for sure.

Sunday, October 03, 2010


A soothing poem in capital letters


What the cool kids do for fun

You wouldn't believe the amount of pleasure I get from typing a sentence, and using a well-placed comma in the middle of it. Hyphens, colons, single quotation marks, double quotation marks, and parentheses are equally satisfying: but the frisson of pleasure I get upon using a semi-colon, in an appropriate fashion, in the midst of a series of clauses is so unbelievable, that if I told you, you wouldn't believe it. (And nor, possibly, would I). I have been known to spend minutes, and sometimes hours, putting commas, hyphens, and colons into a poem, merely to take them out again later and replace them with something else. As Oscar Wilde once said:

I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.

It's what the cool kids do for fun, after all.

Friday, October 01, 2010

How the capitalist pig was a badger really, and something to do with hamsters and weasels as well

Look at this badger! Isn't he happy! He's happy because it's spring! And he's on a spring! And.... um.... anyway, this is on the cover of his latest zine, Badger's Dozen 4. Which is another reason why he's happy, because he's very pleased with it. It has plenty of fun things in it! Like cranky penguins! Sleazy weasels! Dangerous hamsters! And a boring Victorian gentleman! Do you want a copy of this zine? You can pay his secretary (which is me) three dollars on paypal, not forgetting of course to include an address and contact details - (it's linked to my email, timhtrain at I have no idea how they do this. Good vibes, or something?)

To conclude in the manner of all capitalist pigs: oink oink! Wallow wallow! Buy buy!

UPDATE! - You can also get copies at Sticky Institute, in Melbourne!

Email: timhtrain - at -

eXTReMe Tracker

Blog Archive