Friday, February 25, 2011

Rong and write

I read and like Tim Blair's blog. He's a good writer and even when he makes a point that you disagree with he is interesting and thought-provoking anyway. But sometimes - as in this piece about a Sydney Greens candidate - his criticism is, well...

Naturally, De Brierley is a writer.

"Writing wrongs: wrong writer is writer, right-wing writer writes" just isn't a very good gotcha. Although as a tongue twister, I've got to admit, it has plenty of potential.

How to spell 'hmm' in seventeen syllables

There are some things I quite like about my job. These things usually are completely unrelated to things customers and clients might be interested in, problems like the correct way of spelling words that have been made up on the spot by Doctor Seuss, or finding the name of a back street in an obscure country town, ideally in the most unimportant and uninhabited state or territory possible. There's something about the obscurity, pointlessness, and absurdity of these tasks that delights me.

Then there are the other things, such as, for example, the Personwhogoesontheradioeventhoughtheydon'tknowwhatthey'retalkingaboutandbeginstotalkaboutit-anyway - at great length. Oh, I'm sure you know who I'm talking about; every place in the world has a few examples. Those Personswhogoontheradioetc are pretty bloody annoying, I have to say.

But they can have unexpected uses.

Awkward Answers To Radio Questions - a haiku sequence

Well, you know, sort of,
I gather that, actually,
You know, you see, no.

Yes, you see, the thing
Is, as you know, um, sort of...
Pardon me, er, no.

Of course, actually,
Obviously, as it is,
I don't really know.

As I was saying,
You know, without a doubt....
What were you asking?

(Pauses for sixteen syllables)

That's a really good
Question. I'll read that report
And get back to you.

Ah, well, ooh, ha ha,
Um, hmm, er, let's see, you know,
Ah... ah... ah... well... no.

Oh, sorry. I've run
Out of time. Lovely to
Be on your program.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Eye see

I was reading the paper today - all right, all right, I was reading the MX today - and they had captioned one of their pictures with 'While not everyone needs glasses to see better, some think they need them to look better'.

Now I don't know about seeing better or looking better. But you definitely need glasses for one thing - and that's thinking better. It's a well-known fact, established by people who actually do wear glasses, that this wearing of glasses helps them to think. Just look at me - well, okay, maybe you can't see me, but that's all right, it's not because you don't have glasses on, it's because I'm on the net. But then, I don't have glasses on either. And is there any evidence of me thinking? Precious little.

Now just look at the Baron (again, don't worry if you can't see her, she's right over there). She has two pairs of glasses. AND she teaches at university. I think that just proves my point - or at least, that's what I would think if I had glasses, but I don't, so I didn't think it, it just seemed pretty obvious that that's what it was.

It also occurred to me as I read the MX that if Apple ever invented a pair of electronic glasses they would be called iGlasses. Now there's an original name.

Yes. Yes, that will have to do for now.

If they're uncontacted, how about spectacles?

Following a link from David, I came across this article about the Last Uncontacted People in the World.

'Last' is a relatively, well, relative word in this context. Why do big international magazines always seem to pop up, every now and then, with an article on the last uncontacted people in the world? How uncontacted does a tribe have to be before they're included in these magazine articles on uncontacted people?

Such is the frequency with which 'last' uncontacted tribes pop up in these articles, one suspects the big international magazines of storing them away for future use, cramming them back in the forests for another three decades before recontacting the last uncontacted people in the world, again. But, you know, 'latest previously contacted tribe to be recontacted' doesn't exactly have the same attention-grabbing quality, I suppose. Or 'previously known tribe of people continue to exist in a relatively normal fashion' - who'd want to read that on their paper? One expects one's remote tribes to be precious, endangered, and all that. Certainly not continuing to live their lives as usual. That's just damned rude.

It'd be bloody annoying to be a member of one of the latest uncontacted tribes, though. Bloody hell, it's a magazine team again, better bring out the shrunken heads of the editors just to make a good show...

Monday, February 21, 2011


Deep night. Wind high.
Two AM - or three.
Rain rain rushing by -
Deep night. Wind high.
Somewhere - a cat's cry
Sharp and keen and free.
Deep night. Wind high.
Two AM - or three.

I sat up in bed and recited a version of this a couple of nights ago and was very pleased with myself for having written it while still in bed, only to find on penning it down in the morning that I had made a rather obvious rhyming mistake (using the word 'high' to rhyme with itself).

Dictionary of words that scrabble doesn't accept but should

ew 1. expression of disgust

guster 1. An expression of familiarity for a wind. "Oh, it's a guster blowing outside again."

jaunter 1. One who is jaunty. 2. One who is ostentatious about being jaunty.

zot 1. to dart quickly into a position 2. nip, slip, into a place

ziner 1. One who makes zines.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Question for the day

Why watch gastroporn when you can just watch porn? It's much simpler.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

With single minded pedantry, waging a war against the entirety of the world in general

Is there any technology more irritating than iTunes, the iPod, the iPad, the iPhone, the iBook, and the various other devices that start with 'i'? Not only are they supremely confusing devices that leave me utterly confuddled when I wonder what they are for, but their names give the 'i', the symbol of narcissism, pride of place, and their spelling is incorrect. I don't care so much about the first bit - I have very little idea about quite a lot really, and it doesn't bother me. What does a cloud do when it's not raining? I have no idea, but at least its name is spelled correctly.

But anyway, back to


The capital letter isn't where it's supposed to be, there is no space between the 'i' and the next word, and what, exactly, is the difference between all these things anyway?

"The iPad is a tablet computer designed, developed and marketed by Apple primarily as a platform for audio-visual media including books, periodicals, movies, music, games, and web content."


"An iPhone functions as a video camera, camera phone with text messaging and visual voicemail, a portable media player, and an Internet client with e-mail, web browsing, and both Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity."

So they're completely different and unique and also share almost all their completely different and unique functions with one another, AND their name is a spelling mistake and they appear to have no purpose. Apart from that, I suppose, they're wonderful.

And, God help us, in the UK they actually have released a newspaper just called 'i'. Apparently they want to get that single letter of the alphabet declared a spelling mistake, and banish it from the language forever. Maybe it's part of a subtle war against egotism after all?

Doubtful, say I.

There's even some examples of non-existent contraptions with nonsensical purposes that we could talk about here. For instance, a wigwam for a goose's bridle. It doesn't exist, and I have no idea what specific part in plays in the bridling of the goose. But I'm damn sure it's spelled correctly - it's even in the dictionary:

// (say 'wigwom)
phrase a wigwam for a goose's bridle, Colloquial a jocular name given to an object or activity which one is unable or unwilling to identify. [modification of obsolete whim-wham, with reference to something totally fanciful, that is, a decoration for a goose's bridle]

A rather civilised song

I am a modest teapot
Petite and polite.
With appetising apothegms,
I aim to delight.
When my aqua vitae agitates
I humbly petition
"I say, old chaps, would it be frightfully bothersome for you if you were to incline me on a slight angle, allowing my waters to run out,
Thereby easing my condition?"

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Here I sit! I can do no other! Except possibly stand, or lie down...

I don't want to talk about it.

I don't want to talk about it so much that I don't want to talk about why I don't want to talk about it.

I don't want to talk about it so hard that whenever I think about it, which I don't because I don't want to think about it, I don't want to talk about it even more than I don't want to think about it.

I don't want to talk about it so greatly that it doesn't even exist, and I still don't want to talk about it.

I still don't want to talk about it so greatly that even though it is so wildly and fantastically contradictory that it would require several unfactual things to be factual before it was even remotely possible in the most alternate of alternate dimensions that you can think of, that's how much I still don't want to talk about it.

I still don't want to talk about it so much that even though I don't think about this thing that doesn't exist anyway and would only exist if several bizarrely unlikely contradictions were bizarrely resolved by several unfactual things suddenly becoming factual, I still don't want to talk about it more and more, that's how much I don't want to talk about it.

I don't want to talk about it so much that I don't know what I'm talking about when I say I don't want to talk about it.


I just don't want to talk about it.

Smoking loudly on a moving zine fair

Don't travel without a valid ticket. Don't put your feet on the seats. Don't drink alcohol. Don't smoke. Don't jump on or off of a moving vehicle.

Geeze, they won't let you have any fun on the train now, (I said to the kid as he was reading out the big sticker with all those rules and stuff on it on the train yesterday.) Back in my day, you could smoke and drink on the train with an invalid ticket while jumping off a moving vehicle at the same time as picking your nose, and nobody would even COMPLAIN about it. And the more moving the vehicle was the better. So what if you lost an arm in the process? That would make the whole thing even more moving. (Okay, by this time I'm pretty sure I wasn't saying this to the kid, but I was certainly thinking it loudly).

These days, of course, it's all going to hell in a handbasket. You can't do anything, not even the things that you think you can do, like smoking alcohol or jumping on and off a moving cigarette, or picking your nose with an invalid ticket. There'll always be some Negative Nanny-state Nelly no-no-ing the whole thing, and you'll get done for being racist, or something. (Don't worry, by this time the train had gone past Clifton Hill and the kid and his mother had gotten off. I'm pretty sure it wasn't my loud thinking that did it.)

What was I thinking loudly on the train for anyway? I was coming back from the zine fair, that's why. I didn't tell you about the zine fair? That's right, but I certainly meant to have told you, and invited you to it. So I might as well do it now. (Back in my day, you could invite people to events that were back in my day, anyway). Come to the zine fair that has already happened, people, and meet me and a whole bunch of other people and buy some zines! Not only can I say it will have been an exciting event to have attended in the past, but having been there myself I can only add that it certainly lived up to some expectations. So do come along yesterday and help to have made it the thing of beauty that it certainly was (or possibly will be)!

All right. You can all go back to thinking loudly about smoking a moving vehicle, or something like that. This has been another blog post by Tim.

Friday, February 11, 2011

How to fit France and Germany into the borders of a small antipodean town

Paco had a link to this Power Line post, discussing an amusing series of New York Times corrections to previous articles, about an island that does not exist, a species of fictional sparrows that are native to that island, which have become subject to the depredations of certain goats living on that same island - not to mention another correction regarding the possibility of cows falling out of the sky.

I suppose the appropriate reaction to these articles is to call for greater responsibility to truth in journalism, more commitment to research, and all that stuff. But I would go the other way. I love newspaper errors, I love the stuff ups they make, and I love the way they can seriously discuss events that do not happen on islands and nations which they have accidentally just willed into existence.

The best (that is, the worst) and most (which is, the least) reliable stories come in newspapers or magazines reporting on stories in different countries, because traditionally they haven't had to worry about any research at all. (Or maybe research has nothing to do with it: during the 1982 Commonwealth Games opening ceremony, Australians once omitted a whole state, the island of Tasmania, from our own map.) However, in recent reporting on Cyclone Yasi, UK paper The Daily Mail - they're quite a big deal, I hear, over in the UK - not only placed Tasmania back on the map, but inadvertently created a new Australian state, Capricornia, which surprised everyone involved. Meanwhile, in a surfeit of generosity, US channel CNN shifted the whole, vast state of Queensland inside the borders of Tasmania. To achieve this feat, they merely squeezed Queensland - which has an area larger than France and Germany combined - into the borders of tiny Queenstown, which had at last count a population of 5119 people. Queenstown, presumably, got all that left over space up the top of Australia in the meantime.

It's fabulous, the way you can redefine the borders of the world with a few taps on the keyboard and a bit of jiggery pokery with a map. There are classic examples, too, like the time the good Dr Dalrymple accidentally turned the Australian opposition leader into a convict - and more, too, I'm sure, that's just all I can think of at the moment.

Anyway, maybe we should all get together and read over the Austrian Notional Anthem to celebrate. As they traditionally say in this country when taking leave of one another, 'g'day folks! I've got to Chiko Roll now, see you round like a falafel!'

UPDATE! - A friend on Facebook, referring to events in Egypt, just said, 'Today we are all Egyptians'.

It must be hard for Egyptians, with their population of 79 million, to suddenly and unexpectedly be elevated to a population of around 10 billion, what with all the troubles they've been having, but I'm sure they'll get used to it somehow. I don't know how we'll pop the entire terrestrial globe into the Nile Delta region, but I suppose with a little effort we can get it in there.

Satellite image of Australia. Do you know how long it took us to paint all that stuff on? So show some respect, people!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Chap off the old block

Have you noticed your lips lately becoming

1. Dry?

2. Cracked?

3. Sore?

4. Taking long walks along the city street while you are not looking, with a Spectator in one hand (even though they don't have hands), an umbrella in the other, a hat on their heads (though they don't have heads either, obviously) before jumping into a ramshackle little jalopy and going for a jolly drive through the countryside, and popping into a delightful little rural pub and chatting until the wee hours with a whole bunch of other lips that have been doing the same thing?

5. Flaking?

Well you may be suffering from CHAPPED LIPS. Don't worry, it happens to lots of people.

Don't even bother treating them, just go along for the ride. You might meet some great lips! And some of the people might be alright as well.

Remark remark remark comma remark remark comma remark full stop

Mod Dance Company will debut with a national tour this year, and remarkably, has formed without any public funding. - ABC News
It's remarkable how remarkable this remarkable fact is, so remarkable that the ABC had to remark on it! And not only did they remark on it, but they also remarked on their remarks, making the fact all the more remarkable. All in all, this remarkable fact was remarked on twice, which is worthy of remark.

I wonder however if I should tell the ABC about the poem that I just wrote without public funding, or the blog post that I am in the process of writing, without public funding. I'm pretty certain they would find it remarkable (even if they didn't remark on it) but they might also be a bit worried. For one thing, they might have to remark on their remarks, and remark on my remarks about their remarks on their previous remarks, which would be very remarkable indeed. For another thing, I'm sure they'll be concerned, and probably befuddled, by all these things happening without public funding - after all, how can such things conceivably happen? They are truly remarkable!

I think I'll just leave a few commas out of this post, and go and get some arts funding and maybe a few laws and minor regulations passed through parliament just so I can put them in. That'll reassure the ABC. Maybe even give them something else to remark about!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011


Although the designs for the new fun fair were considered bold and innovative by a number of leading architectural critics, the gigantic Ferris Square never really took off with the public.

The Merry-Go-Triangle was a bit of a disappointment as well.

Monday, February 07, 2011

The ruthless Darwinian struggle for existence and the question of seating on trains

Turning now to the ruthless Darwinian struggle for existence, I was on the train today. (And, if I can just observe, less stories begin that way than you might think).

The ruthless Darwinian struggle for existence in kinder, gentler times.

Seats on the typical Melbourne train, as you might be aware, face one another in rows of two, and sometimes three, chairs per side. There is so little space between the two facing rows that the legs of one typical Melbourne train traveller on one seat will quickly become entangled with the legs of another typical Melbourne train traveller on the facing seat. (And, if these typical travellers are anything like some of the typical travellers I've known, perhaps that's not the only thing that's going to become entangled. Typical.) This is clearly because, over time, the people who manage the trains want to weed out the milksop train travellers of today, and breed a new superior race of Melbournian train travellers far, far titchier than we have ever seen before - it all goes back to the ruthless Darwinian struggle for existence, you see.

So, anyway. Me. On the train. Since I was only getting off two stops later, I made for an empty set of three-seaters facing one another, and plonked myself down on the outer seat, facing forward. And who should get on but another passenger - Passenger B, let's call them - who seated herself ON THE INNER SEAT ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE.

Now typically, you see, passengers on trains - or trams - will arrange themselves in diagonal lines upon the seating so as to optimise their own personal space, and to decorously avoid getting their limbs entangled with the limbs of the person who faces them (unless, of course, they are one of those typically typical passengers that I mentioned before). So, for instance, a typical facing set of three seats with three people will see the people arrange themselves in a V, one person at each extremity of the letter. However, Passenger B had already violated this simple, strategic arrangement in the seating code, for a V was no longer possible. A passenger getting on could either

a) work their way into the seats and sit down facing her, thus getting into entanglement-of-limbs issues as mentioned before.
b) Sit down next to her, thus violating her personal space
c) Sit down next to me, see above.
d) Sit down opposite me, thus getting into entanglement-of-limbs issues, again.

And d), as it turned out, is exactly what happened. Another passenger - Passenger N - got on, and headed for the (still fairly empty) set of seats. She quickly surveyed her options - Passenger B, I saw, had meanwhile placed her bags on the seat next to her, shrewdly heading off option b) - and headed for the seat opposite mine. (Option d)).

You win this round, Passenger B, I thought, as I angled my legs crankily outwards, and Passenger N apologetically angled her legs inwards, and the train rattled round the corner and into Spencer Street Station.

A helpful diagram

It has occasionally occurred to me that there is a need for a simple guidebook, full of elegant propositions and rules, entitled 'Body Language in Public Transport', or something like that, analysing and quantifying the various postures and positions it is possible to take on a train or tram in any given circumstance. This guide would provide simple rules and strategies for a number of different situations. (You are on a train packed full, but there are two seats left at opposite ends: what do you do? Where do you sit to optimise leg stretching possibilities? What do you do when you are sitting on an outside seat and a person comes along and meaningfully glares at you - do you move to the inside seat, possibly getting into an entanglement issue, or do you swing out, thus creating a kind of 'door' for this Person Of The Meaningful Glare to go in and get entangled with the other passenger themselves? etc) I can see the potential for such a guidebook to become indispensable for all passengers on the public transport, voyages on which could quickly become as tactical as a fine game of chess amongst grandmasters.

If I had a copy I would definitely give one to Passenger B. As it was, though, I just got off at North Melbourne Station and went to work. Funny, that...

Sunday, February 06, 2011

An ode to the bureau of meteorology

Oh Bureau of Meteorology,
To say that you are sublime would not only be ridiculous - it would be a tautology.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Contemperaneous and relevating

Slightly altered poems, for the person who said Romantic poetry was not interesting and relevant enough for modern times

Wee, sleekit, cowrin tim’rous beastie mozzie
O what a panic's in thy breastie Aye how tiny, aye how buzzy
Thou need na start awa sae hastyWhy must ye act like sich a hussy
Wi bickering brattle! And flee my clap
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee By nesting still within my cozzie,
Wi murd'rin pattle! To spite my slap?

"To a Mouse", Robert Burns

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulnessSeason of salt and battered heart attacks…

"To Autumn", John Keats

Young Lochinvar Pam Anderson is come out of the west
Through all the wide border his name is the best…
Something something something something something something something breast.

"Lochinvar", Walter Scott

Tiger! Tiger! Burning bright!
In the forests X Box of the night
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
Quick! Guns out! Fucker, die!

"Tiger", William Blake

Fair fa’ your honest sonsie face
Great chieftain Great CEO o’ the puddin’ burger race
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place
Painch, tripe, or thairm - soft serve and fries
Weel are ye wordy o' a grace
As lang’s my arm Large as my thighs!

"Address to a Haggis Big Mac", Robert Burns

Thursday, February 03, 2011

My brilliant gardening career

It is true, as some have been saying, that I have taken up gardening. It cannot be denied that, on the occasional afternoon, or evening, I can be seen pottering around little patches of lawn digging holes here and filling holes up over there. As the Baron can vouch, we have even indulged in a little spot of thistle pilfering as a team activity, in order to supplement the already impressive weed collection we have in our backyard.

I know that many of you may find this partaking in the sport of soil sifting rather quixotic on my part. 'Tim', you may ask, 'what on earth do you know about gardening? Do you have any idea what you are growing?' I admit the consequences of many botanical endeavours can be dangerous, deadly even: what is a dear little green bud in the loam one morning may be a man sized, carnivorous, mobile triffid the next. Will a whippersnipper be enough to keep their rabid bloodlust at bay? Who can tell.

But quite aside from that, I can give a full and confident list of all the contents of our growing garden. It will of course be different to the Baron's list, but that is neither here nor there: why, there is
that thing
and this thing
and those things
and those other things
and all those other things
and the other things that are even more other than the other things
and the other other things that are even more other other than the other other things
and that stuff (it's really nice, that stuff is)
and those bits.

Just this morning, the Baron and I were planting a thing, a very particular thing. They were bearded things. Well, that's what they were called anyway, though I couldn't even see any beards - not even a little moustache. Maybe we should start them off with moustache toupees, to give them a sense of confidence?

But anyway, I should say I have a very definite plan for this garden, an alphabetical plan. Each plant will be named and categorised under its letter of the alphabet. Like, l for 'leafy things' and g for 'grassy things' and r for 'rosy things' (like, I dunno, roses), and f for 'fruity things', and b for 'big things'. I had trouble thinking up stuff for other letters - even 'a', but eventually I decided that 'assorted stuff' would do it.

As all gardeners know, it is pleasant, on long summer days, to lie in the shade of the leafy things, with one's arms in the fresh grassy stuff, while a cool breeze blows through the flowery objects and carries various smelly sensations to your nose, and to look over at the shadows cast on the ground by the big and leafy things as the wind sends their leafy bits rustling hither and thither, thither and hither. Occasionally, one might even reach over to the fruity things and pluck off some... fruit, and admire the soon-to-be bearded things as they twirl their youthful moustaches in the long golden sunlight, and you see pollen from the flowery stuff drift through the air, and you sigh.

A famous person once said: "Man's first home was a garden, and as his garden is his castle, that is where the heart is." Now who could possibly disagree with - or even understand - that? Quite right.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Great parlour games of our Tim

As was the style of the Tim.

Men and women of Australia - it's Tim!

I read it in the Tims.

The Tims, they are a changing.

A Tim to give birth, a Tim to die, a Tim to plant, and a Tim to uproot what is planted.

What's the Tim?

The Tim Machine!

If I could turn back Tim.

If you're lost if you're waiting I will find you, Tim after Tim.

Not at this Tim of life.

We've had a great Tim.


In another version of this game, you also substitute the word 'underpants' for some other word in these phrases, eg, 'Men and women of Australia - underpants Tim!' 'If underpants could turn back Tim.' etc.

Email: timhtrain - at -

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