Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Book Review: "Silken Promises" 1994

Fan-blo**dy-tastic. The cover is absolutely not a reflection of the contents btw.
This book should be made into a movie.

Set in 1885 Victorian/Americana with a feisty Irish girl working with a hard boiled marshall to crack a counterfeiting ring and accidentally drawn into a confrontation with a 1885 version of the Star Chamber. Twists, turns, explosions, prison breakouts, poker and train hijacking. With a sprinkling of "Darby. I am your father" stuff tossed in for good measure.

It has *everything*.
Well... No... Ok. It doesn't have ninja pirate robot monkeys.
But if I had to describe it, I'd suggest it is a mix of Cat Ballou, A Big Hand for the Little Lady, Have Gun Will Travel, Maverick and The Wild Wild West.
Also Arsenic and Old Lace.
Seriously. You'll wet yourself at the antics of the 72 year old sisters explaining why they just wanted to "bend a bit of track" when in fact they are covered in soot having blown up most of the train. And the very last page will have you laugh out loud.

But I seem to have strayed from smut.
There isn't that much, much to my chagrin.
But the two major scenes I found "twitchy" to say the least.

Excellent. Seriously needs to be made into a movie.

No point in putting in an amazon link as they don't have the cover and are seriously wanting 78 quid for a new version!

Book Review: "Tart Noir" 2002

Wow. Very cool. Finished this wonderful book on Sunday afternoon. Brilliant. Fun. Engaging. 

Sort of like the sci-fi anthologies I used to read in the late 60's early 70's. Short stories exploring odd juxtapositions. For example, one story involves Medea, Phaedra and Lady MacBeth on a morning chat show baring all. Another involves forbidden love... Er... With a dolphin... Whoah there me hearties! Cool.

The stories where tight and well written and had twists and turns that made it impossible to put down. Some where downright fall about laughing. The case of the girl from the Marooned! TV reality show had me in stitches. My only beef was there wasn't enough smut. :-)

This is a definite must read.

Here is the amazon page: 

Monday, 30 July 2012

Wow. For all those wanting to know what special days are coming.

After blinking and missing caturday I decided to prepare by checking out the special days of the year.
Here are a few wonders from the calendar:

Jan 3   Festival of Sleep Day
Jan 20 Penguin Awareness Day

Feb 2 Groundhog Day & Duck-billed Platypus Day

Mar 6 World Math Day
Mar 9 National Napping Day
Third Week in March Nat'l Clutter Awareness Week

Apr 7 International Beaver Day
Apr 8 Draw a Picture of a Bird Day
Apr 25 World Penguin Day

May Get Caught Reading Month
May 17 National Packrat Day
May 31 World Parrot Day

Jul Blackberry Month
Jul 10 Don't Step on a Bee Day
Jul 19 Stick Your Tongue Out Day

August National Napping Month (Yey! Know what I'll be doing!)
Aug 6 Wiggle your Toes Day
Aug 9 Book Lovers Day and National Rice Pudding Day
Aug 11 Play in the Sand Day
Aug 13 World Lizard Day

Sep 16 Collect Rocks Day
Sep 19 Talk Like a Pirate Day
Sep 29 Blackberries Day

Oct 5-11 Get Organized Week
Oct 8 Cephalopod Awareness Day (Octopus Day!)
Dec 14 Monkey Day
Dec 18 Bake Cookies Day

And just for the record here is the list of demon months:

Jan: Belial
Feb: Leviathan
Mar: Satan
Apr: Belphegor
May: Lucifer
Jun: Berith
Jul: Beelzebub
Aug: Astaroth
Sep: Thammuz
Oct: Baal
Nov: Asmodai
Dec: Moloch

Sunday, 29 July 2012

For those who don't know how your tax system works: A Funny Primer

Stumbled on this while doing the morning links.
Clever and funny.
"For those who understand, no explanation is needed.
For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible."

Friday, 27 July 2012

Some random things: Short movies, video games and smut

Random Part 1:
Watched a set of short movies last night.

Zero: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOMbySJTKpg
Absolutely soooo cute stop motion from http://www.themakerfilm.com/ via NSW film.
Tons of awards.

The Lady and the Reaper: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JATr3vNOIYA&feature=related
Fantastic French cartoon pitting an elderly dying lady and the Reaper against a narcissistic doctor.

Descendants: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhutLj3SVzQ&feature=related
Gorgeous and stunning animation about two flowers discussing what to do about a creature in a field.

And a few others which you can see down the right side of each of those pages.

There was also a full length Star Wars fan movie (in Italian w/subs) that was absolutely stunning.
You can find it on YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQzOQI1Rdn0
Or go to the website here: http://www.darkresurrection.com/

Random Part 2:
We also watched a video of Felicia Day playing an old video game with her brother.
Her look of stunned horror when she finally caught a fish and had to throw it back was priceless.
All the time I was watching and laughing Ben kept poking me.
When I asked why he was doing that, he said I'm just the same when I play video games.
He cited: http://www.randomactsofsentience.com/2012/04/today-has-been-stressful-so-i-decided.html
Which is a transcript of me playing... er hmm... *attempting* to play Star Wars on the XBox.

Random Part 3:
So. Bens beavering away on an iPhone/iPad app and I was feeling stuck.
(I have to wait till 4pm to see if I to babysit my mum tonight or eat F&C with Ben and watch old movies)
Thought I might get into fantasy romance smut novels.
There are no bookshops left in the world, so I went online.
(Yes I know I'm exaggerating but it feels like that)

So I did some digging around Felicia Day and discovered a Google+ hangout run by Felicia Day, Veronica Belmont, Kiala Kazebee and Bonny Burtons good read group named, and please, please, don't be offended, "vaginal fantasy". http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/62938

It's absolutely *not* what you may be thinking. Just a bunch of IMHO famous geek girls reading fantasy romance novels and doing videos about them. Brilliant.

Already ordered two of the books they recommend via fishpond.com.au.
Twiddling fingers waiting now...

There is one bookshop left in Southport now I think of it.
Might take the names of the smutty romance novels and see if they have them... ;-)

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

New Olympic event: 200 Grey Plastic Zombie Synchronized Handshake!

This is the new team for the new event at the London Olympics:

It's the 200 grey plastic zombie synchronized handshake event!
Here's a closeup: 

"Fancy a handshake old man?"

Here's a high five by two of them over the body of a slain opponent.

"Uuuurrrggghh... Nurghhhh" translation: "Good show old chap"

Played Zombies! last night. (photos)

Gotta love this game.

Here's the start:

After a few moves and we still don't know where the helipad will be placed so I decide to clear the Hospital of Zombies...

Unfortunately for me, Ben kept playing cards that kept adding zombies and I was knee deep in the buggers. Took me ages to fight my way out, and was out of ammo!

Still didn't know where the helipad was going to end up, so I (the yellow figure) started down the road to the right hoping to make it to that top right area where I was gambling the chopper would arrive.

But no. The helipad ended up down at the left so I had to fight my way down Zombie Alley to get to it. Ben, having me lose two lives as I battled through the hoards, then started clearing a path to the chopper. I battled on bravely, constantly playing cards to try to hold him up.


Bugger. He'd cleared the area of shambling dead and waved to me as the chopper took him away, leaving me in a morass of around 100 shambling buggers.

All in all a good game and with a pile of laughs.

Wonderful game for all ages.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Game Review: "Killer Bunnies"

Kim and I have just finished playing our first ever hand of the card game Killer Bunnies.

We got the game because we are on our bi-annual board game kick and thought that any game called killer bunnies was probably worth a try.

I assume this is why most people buy the game because I am pretty damn sure almost no-body actually plays it.

I base that simple assumption on the fact that if people did actually try to play it then someone  would have noticed that the instructions are long, confusing and almost totally useless long before us.

In one manner the game was a total success, because after only a few short hours (that only felt like 30 years wandering the desert) I am now filled with the kind of quiet rage that can only be sated by killing small furry animals.

We started with the book helpfully labelled "Read this first" which was useful but lacked detail.

Next we went to the "Read this second" book and got a good dose of detail which was (unfortunately at this point in the learning process) totally useless.

Assuming (rightly as it turns out) that the secrets of this arcane game had been lost in translation from the original latin-martian-hyroglyphs from which it had obviously been translated (English does not need to be someones first language but it should be in the top 15 if they choose to write instructions booklets) we finally turned to the bastion of all quick fix knowledge… Youtube.

Our questions were many and varied:
"How do you resolve combat?"
"Does the vicious bunny with fangs and claws fight exactly the same as the timid bunny standing in a puddle of its own fear?"
"Why is the store named after an esoteric school of Judaic mysticism? - is that reason for the poor translation?"

Our answers were few:
"Um… maybe we can figure it out as we go along..."

The first 2 videos we found did not fill us with courage as they showed other couples like ourselves starting with bright eyes and cheerful optimism as they opened the game box for the first time - and then followed their rapid decent into frustration, madness, abuse, mutual recriminations and eventual divorce as they totally failed to make any sense of what we were learning was not a game but a form of "stealth relationship annulment".

One woman got so bored that after only a few minutes she was picking things off the carpet and eating then (in the obvious hope of contracting something horrible that would shorted the game) while her husband could seen furrowing his brow to the point that it looked like the Michelin mans ass and mentally planning the shorted route to the local gun store.

Finally the third video showed a (now) single man who had obviously determined to salvage something out of the wreckage of his home life explaining how the game is played - or would be if the game could be played by one person.

Kim and I left that lone madman to his tragic ramblings and turned our baleful eyes back at the instruction booklet. "Damn it! Our combined IQ reads like the national deficit! We MUST be able to figure out one stupid little game!!!!"

And so now I sit typing with the last ounces of strength left in my ravaged body.

I can report that Kim and I did indeed defeat the game, we deciphered the rules and played through a full hand and were finally able to report… "Meh"

The truth is that we'd been playing munchkins the previous night and it is a far superior game, the munchkin jokes are funnier, the munchkin play is faster and even the artwork on the cards is more interesting (seriously the bunnies looked ordinary and the carrots all looked gender confused for some reason).

(For details on Munchkins see here: http://www.worldofmunchkin.com/game/ Don't Google it as you'll get the site for "Melbourne's Premier Talent Agency" first - Really. A talent agency called Munchkins!

Kim described the cards as cartoon rejects from the village people and cited one image of a pink rabbit that looked like it was backing up towards a prison with nothing but a bar of soap and wide grin. But then again, she needs glasses to read.

Bunnies is not as bad as I make it out to be (but that's not for lack of trying) it aims at "camp and farce" but lands squarely in the land of "cheap and disturbing".

That said, we'll play it again. If for no other reason than to inflict our pain on others and give us an easy target to take out pent up frustrations on.

If you're feeling like testing (or ending) your relationship give it a go, but just remember that the best way to actually learn the game is to play it 2 or 3 times figuring out what you did wrong each time rather than expecting the rules to give you any meaningful clue before hand.

Best of luck.

Ben whupped my ass at Munchkin and Scrabble

Three times we've not been able to go to the Gold Coast Techspace on Sunday due to some "event."
This time it was because on Thursday I put my back out.
Actually and to be more accurate, I sustained minor injury to my left Sacroiliac Ligaments.
Thus: back pain.
Worse was, due to slight limping, it caused both my shoulder muscles (Trapezius) to spasm and gave me an intense headache.
Hot showers, stretching and massages helped but it was a real throbber.
Unable to sleep, I tried each pain killer one by one to see if they made a dent.
Well. Not quite true. Panadeine Forte helped. But they tend to knock me out.

Anyway, I'm waffling.
The upshot was that on Sunday morning I could barely move for tiredness and getting that throbbing effect.
Sunday afternoon it was getting better and Ben suggested we play some board games to try to take my mind off it.

He whupped my ass.
Got to level 5 before I managed to get to level 2.
Then won.

So we then played Scrabble.
Now I have to say I have beaten him almost every time at this.
I suppose because I started reading early.
Reading newspapers while other kids were doing See Dick Run.
(BTW: Reading about the Cuba missile crisis at the time and getting scared)
But no.
He won 307 to 193. Yoikes.
Mainly because I mainly got either all consonants or all vowels.
Very Welsh.
What the hell word do you make out of: AAIIOUT
Ok. Tau. But seriously.
In any case he clinched it by using all 7 tiles in one go with the word "estrange". 50 pts.
Rats. And I almost had "Rlyeh" at one stage. Not that I could use it of course.

Feeling much better now and may be able to do some shopping.
Maybe pick up Munchkin Cthulhu!
And I may be able to do some coding.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Fray Bentos is a place? And the name of a tank?

It's all gone a bit Fray Bentos.

Common enough phrase.
So I did some digging.

I was prompted to do this as I had just finished reading "Iron Fist" by Bryan Perrett.
It's about classic armoured warfare.
"Wait. What?" I hear you say?

Well. I discovered that a tank commander in world war one named his lumbering death trap "Fray Bentos".
When asked why he chose the name his reply was "Meat in a tin."
Somehow appropriate.

So here's some facts...

It's named after a Jesuit priest.
Yes. Really.

It's actually a physical place!
It's actually the capital of the Río Negro Department of western Uruguay (Follow the link to wikipedia to see more)
Both the beef and Oxo came from the same place.
Once called "El Frigorifico Liebig de Fray Bentos"

People all over the world complain about opening them.
Phrases like
"Had to resort to hammer and chisel."
"Gave up. Ate peanuts."
"They should come with a free set of boltcutters, a 14inch angle grinder and a chainsaw."
"Used plastic explosive."
Personally I've never, ever had a problem or cut myself.

By the last year of world war one, allied troops were consuming one million pounds of beef a day.

And so we return to the tank action in world war one.

F Battalion Tank Corps at the third battle of Ypres 1917.
This one tank named "Fray Bentos" fought for several days out in no mans land, alone, disabled, crew massively injured, constantly peppered with shells and machine gun fire for FOUR DAYS.
Some hand to hand combat was involved.
It's a frickin' tank alone in a blasted landscape of blood and gore 600 yards from the English line.

When the action was over, and still out in no mans land, the crew had no choice to retire.
The tank was completely stuffed, bogged and falling to bits and they only had a few rounds of pistol ammunition.
So they staggered, dragging their injured comrades, across the 600 yards of blasted landscape back to the English lines.

The Germans did not fire a shot to impede them.

There's even a memorial to it!
Go here: http://tankmemorial.vpweb.co.uk/THE-MEMORIAL---PERSONALITIES.html
And search for Fray.
There's that tank.
Even photo's of Capt Richardson.

Captain Ronald Richardson I salute you.

It's all gone a bit Fray Bentos.

Movie Reviews: "Supershark" (2011) and "The Beast from 20,000 fathoms" (1953)

Ah. The joys of video store bargain bins.
Picked up Supershark for $2.
Overpaid $2 I should say.
Ok. Result: Supershark: What a steaming pile of ass gravy.

An oil rig is using some pseudo fracking technique and opens a crack in the ocean floor out of which, for no apparent or explained reason, a frickin' huge megalodon style shark emerges.
It heads to the surface, flies out of the water, grips a crane and, despite the obvious fact that the crane would simply snap off, proceeds to topple the entire half million tons of rig ass over tit.
What? This, 5mins in, had us convulsed with laughter.
No way could you suspend disbelief here.
About the only way you conceivably believe what was happening would be if you had an IQ of 3 and had lived in a yurt your whole life.

The shark possessed some many super powers it had us in fits.
For example, at one stage it attacked a nuclear sub and blew it up.
At another stage if flew up (yes it can fly) and snarfed an F16 jet flying overhead.
And the final scene between a handful of soldiers and a walking tank (yes you heard me "walking tank") nearly had me have an aneurysm.
This shark can fly and walk on land.

The acting was not even amateurish.
Frickin' awful.

Dialogue was stunning.
In the sense of being stunned by having been hit in the temple with a ball peen hammer.

The CGI was unbelievably bad.
The shark changed size so many times you got dizzy.

Utter, utter, utter crap.
Go watch it. You'll laugh until your ears bleed.

Funnily enough the 1953 "The beast from 20,000 fathoms" used virtually the same story line.

A nuclear test in the arctic releases a huge reptile which, while not tipping over oil rigs, eats several fishing boats as it moves south to warmer climes.
It's eventually dispatched in an amusement park by a very young Lee van Cleef using an irradiated shell from an over sized rifle.
I loved the part where the monster gets pissed off by gun fire and smashes through a building to escape.
Next time you watch the 1998 version of Godzilla, you'll see echoes of the 1953 beast in it.
Apart from the fact that 20,000 fathoms is about 11 miles deep and even the Marianas trench is only about half that, and no trenches even beginning to approach that exist in the arctic, it was a very watchable film.

We didn't laugh.
Well a bit...
But seriously it was wonderfully acted and totally believable.
In that nuclear monster released and running amok kind of way.

The difference between the movies was striking.
Supershark was badly acted, badly written, badly filmed, totally ludicrous and riddled with silliness.
The beast was well acted, well written, well filmed and had the advantage of having Ray Harryhausen doing the stop motion monster.

Loved both of them.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Movie Review: "Undead" (2003)

We tend not to buy movies from places like J&B.
We like to sift through the bargain bins at video stores for the most outrageous lunatic movies we can find.
It's great fun and you see movies which get no press or are just frickin' brilliant for next to no cost.

We stumbled on "Undead".
Surprisingly good Australian movie, made on a shoestring, with:
  1. Australians.
  2. Guns.
  3. Queensland Police.
  4. More guns.
  5. Zombie humans.
  6. More guns.
  7. Zombie fish.
  8. More guns.
  9. Aliens.
  10. Did I mention guns?
Because you know you're watching a good movie when:

The splash screen exhorts you to "Begin Carnage" rather than "Play Movie".

The main protagonist fights off Zombie Fish in a row boat with a pistol and is then abducted by aliens.

A cricket match is interrupted by meteors which shoot holes in the team.

The main protagonist mainly uses a weapon made of three pump action shot guns bolted together.

A Queensland copper (in shorts) bursts into a house, smashes a window, starts shooting his shotgun out that window and screams:
"When I was a kid we f**kin' respected our elders! We didn't f**kin' eat them! F**kin' marijuana f**kin'  hippy f**kin' surfer f**kin' dole bludger b*stards!" 
Frickin' love it!

IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0339840/

Which describes an Australian town as 'quaint' and 'charming'.
I don't think any one who has been to an outback Australian town would use those words...
Well not in a pub unless they are deliberately trying to get their head bashed in.

Cetacean consumerism and Vitamin D deficiency!

Frickin' night sweats!
Waking up drenched with sweat at between 3:30am and 4:30am for weeks now.
Obviously couldn't be menopause...

So... Went to the doctor about them yesterday as they are getting seriously annoying.
Had to have a blood test for thyroid function, but it seems I'm very, very deficient in Vitamin D.

No smart cracks about sitting inside in front of a computer all day please.
I do go outside into the large room with the blue roof and the day star.
Quite often in fact.

Looked up foods rich in Vit D.
All my favorite fish! Mackerel, Salmon, Herring, Sardines and Tuna!
Nom nom nom!

But in any case, I went to Woolworth's to get a supplement to see if that would help in the short term.

Went to the section with all the ibuprofen, aspirin, HPLC bars and what not and had a "Wait. What?" moment:

Seems Woolworth's is trying to get more whales to visit its stores.
What will be next? Soylent Green?

Anyway, got a vitamin D supplement and some Evening Primrose oil and took it before bed last night.

No sweats!
It *appeared* to work.

Still woke up at 4am, but didn't need to have a shower or wash the bed clothes.

Dunno if it was the Vit D or Primrose at this stage.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

You wanna connect with your kids? Play UNO.

Years ago when I had kids... Step kids... Whatever...
I learnt something.
You wanna connect with them? Play UNO.

I still play UNO.
With Ben.
It's cool. Very cool. You get to beat them with no acrimony,
You get to crow loudly about your success, punching the sky with the phrase "I am the master!"

And then lose the next hand.

It's seriously cool.
Try it.

Years ago I used to play UNO with my step-kids.
It always devolved into a war between me and one of the girls.
Let's call her Heather.
In any case it was fun.
Serious fun.
We'd play the other players getting them to do our twisted bidding to force one or the other of us to play a bad hand.
My other step-daughter was trying to play the odds.
My 'ex was perplexed.

Either way it ended with us convulsed with laughter when we lost or won.

Play UNO with your kids.

Do it now.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Make your own 0 ohm resistor

After seeing Kims link to the 0 ohm resistor (here) I decided that as a public service I would include instructions for making your own:

Step 1: Cut a piece of wire approx 10 centimeters long.

You're welcome.

Friday, 6 July 2012

I am not a machine, nor the tick-boxes on a form. I am a human with all that goes with it.

Interesting. Ben and I decided to watch Dune again. We have several copies. Directors cut, theatrical release, the one with the Frank Herbert narration etc. All waaaay cool. We know the words to this movie off by heart.

And that got me thinking. Just why did we know the words off by heart? What is it about that movie and series of books that engenders such a feeling of some kind of almost nostalgia like fondness?

And that made me think about the documentary "What happened to our dream of freedom?" from Adam Curtis http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Trap_(television_documentary_series).

And then it became so clear...

It’s not that I harken back to some kind of Victorian or Edwardian ideal. The "Eee it were better when I were a lass" stuff. Crap. It’s nothing like that. It’s more like this;
Mechanic less than 30 years ago goes to work. A BMW comes in which has a problem. The mechanic turns the motor over, listens, thinks a bit, revs the engine, listens, thinks a bit... then takes out a spanner and uses it to tinker with some part on the car. And with some judicious use of intelligence and understanding and fundamental capability, fixes the problem.

Now think back to 1973. A young person walks into a mining supply company in Perth, Western Australia. This person has no apparent skills. They ask to speak with someone in authority and despite repeated attempts by receptionists to defeat them, sits on a chair and states that they will wait to see someone regarding working for the company. Four hours later, a portly chap comes out and tells the young person to follow them. The pair ascend to an office high above the shop floor in the factory. The portly chap sits behind a beautiful desk inset with green felt and leather and arches his fingertips:
"So. You want to work for us. You have 15 minutes. Impress me." 
The young person launches into a spiel with reasons why they are good for any position in the company. The portly chap listens intently and the young person gets the impression that this person is not interested in what they are saying but how they are saying it.

The interview ends.
The portly chap leans forward, clasps the young persons hand and tells them to see the chief accountant.
The young person goes down the stairs wondering what just happened. They approach the chief accountant. The man puts down his phone and rises to meet the young person. He shakes their hand and points to a desk. "That’s where you will be working." The young person discovers that the portly chap is the MD of the company and is worth millions in 1973 dollars.
And so on. I could go further and show that the young person does a 9 year reconciliation for the most troublesome customer the company has, or that the young person has a plaque dedicated to them on the wall of that company, but you get the drift.

That young person was me if it wasn't bleeding obvious.

Now compare these two examples with today:
A "mechanic" enters his workshop. A BMW comes in which has a problem. The mechanic turns on his diagnostic machine and consults his checklist.
"Place cable A on terminal B. Place cable C on terminal D. Press ‘start’ on console. Read out result. Ah yes. 2.3456. If number is less that 2, replace spark plugs. If number is greater than 2, replace assembly B-456-fgh-567. Ok. So I replace the assembly." The "mechanic" calls the supplier, gets told that the assembly will be there tomorrow, and retreats to corner, pulls out his Nintendo DS Lite and plays Soduku for half an hour.
A young person walks into a mining supply office. They have no apparent skills. They ask to speak with someone in authority and get told to fill in a form. They do so. They are told they will be contacted. The form gets passed to a clerk. The clerk looks over their checklist: "Tick checkboxes" So they do. The young person doesn’t even get a look in.
See my point?

The humanity has gone. We’ve become slaves to the machinery of management. Humans have abrogated the responsibility of decisions to automated systems. No one cares anymore. If the machines ever get to the point where they could tick checkboxes themselves or attach cable A to terminal B, they don’t need humans.

I hate it. I do hate it.

The whole point is that in Dune the humans are the masters. The machines are tools. Just tools. As intelligent as a chisel or a hammer. No more than that. And like a sculptor who uses a chisel and hammer or a sculptor who uses laser etching or machines the size of houses the result is the same. The machine is a tool of the mind. The mind doesn’t subsume itself into simply being another part of some machine. The sculptor is in charge. The tools have advanced, but be damned if the sculptor let’s the machine do the thinking for hem.

Humans are in charge. Creativity is in charge. Responsibility is in charge. Emotion is in charge. Yes, emotions and humans cause wars and suffering and all the other ills that have beset humanity for millennia but at least humans were in charge! Somehow I can’t imagine the pharaohs accepting that excuse that the pyramid couldn’t be built due to stone supply problems in the Sinai. Or that Brunel would have shirked getting his hands greasy on a chain.

I hate it. I do hate it.

My skills are not the fact that I can code Java, or code C++ or code C# or any other damn thing. My skills are not about being a good little cog in a machine.

My skills are not about being compliant. I refuse to be compliant.

My biggest skill is being not capable of being stamped, check-boxed, measured, analyzed, twisted, folded or mutilated.

My skill is that I CAN THINK. I can reason. I can find a solution to an issue without having a checklist of patterns or tick boxes or qualifications or whatever. I shouldn’t have to prove myself by having 2 points higher on some test than someone else.

It’s not about some test. It’s about being prepared to take responsibility for ones actions and being willing to stand by them, and change them if evidence shows them to be false.


I can look at an issue or problem or just something just plain interesting and have something constructive to say about it. Sometimes this translates to a better mousetrap. Sometimes it doesn’t. But at least it’s a human using their creativity, their brains, their fundamental capability to come down out of the trees, walk upright and know that a stick can dig a furrow for planting crops or equally kill another human.

Either way, it’s a damn human making the decision, not a damn form.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

How I approach management expectations

From an old shot in 2003...

Get my drift?

FYI That is a accurate replica of an MP44. German assault rifle from 1944. Basis of almost every assault rifle in use today. Frickin' heavy. About the same weight as a AK-47 I would think.

The Mechanics of Zombies

Actually that’s a misleading heading. I don’t mean the Day of the Dead rejects that you sometimes see at auto-repair shops who always seem to have brothers with teeth like the immediate aftermath of the twin towers or had had some mad dentist using brute force to jam twice the normal complement of teeth into their lower jaw. What I mean is the mechanics and biology of zombies. Ben and I were having a lively debate about this at 2am this morning.

Huh? You say... 2am? Well, we had just gone to bed after watching a sci-fi channel b-grade horror flick and ended up discussing zombies. I must tell you about this movie we watched, by the way. You know that moment some way into a movie, say around 3/4 of the way in, when you suddenly get that
"Why, in the name of all that is good, am I watching this drivel?"
point? Well I got that just at the climax of the movie. About 15 minutes before the end. And then I had a kind of
"What the f***?"
moment when I realized that I had had my belief suspended so much by this movie that I felt that my belief was hanging some miles above Everest. You know what I mean, the way movies first say
"Ok. There’s this bloke right? And he has a talking dog right?"
and you kinda say
"Well... Ok... I’ll allow that"
and before long the movie makers have added so many of these escalating requests that you suddenly find yourself saying
"Well... Ok... I’ll allow that"
when the hero jumps off a 500 story building onto the back of a flying fire-breathing pig who is actually an angel in disguise working with Zeus sent to rid the Earth of lawyers who are really evil alien lizards bent on overthrowing the monarchy. 

You know what I mean...

Anyway, as the hero was firing his gun from the top of a lighthouse onto the approaching bad guys, I turned to Ben and said
"Er... Can I just confirm something?" 
The Ad break came on and he said
"Ok," I said, "So let me get this straight... This family moves over from Holland to this little island in the US north east because they have anaemia and one lady was born a hermaphrodite yes?" 
He agreed.
I continued,
"Explain this to me. Why am I watching 4 foot high legless, in the sense of having no legs, fatty blobby hermaphrodite dwarves with bone axes coming up out of tunnels they’ve created to eat the bodies of the recently buried, attacking a group of school girls in a lighthouse during a rainstorm?" 
He smiled. 
"Ah. Well..."
Anyway, I digress. Zombie biology.

Now we know that zombies are the animated dead. I mean dead people. Not a live person with a virus like in 28 Days. Dead. No circulation, no respiration and so on. So riddle me this...

If they’re dead, then they must be incapable of smell. I don’t mean they don’t smell themselves. They’re animated rotting corpses for Buddhas sake. I mean that without respiration, there is no air movement over the back of their noses. So the odor receptors in the back of their nose, assuming they haven’t rotted anyway, aren’t getting any molecules of odor. So they can’t smell.

Next is their ability to see. Now why is it that the thin film of moisture over their eyes hasn’t dried up? Tear ducts can’t be working. So their eyes must be glued to their eyelids. Incapable of seeing round corners as a result I suspect. Furthermore the vitreous material in the eye balls themselves must be drying up and going very, very cloudy. So the average zombie must be almost, if not totally, blind.

Now why is it that the rest of their face is rotting off, but they can still stand upright and walk? This doesn’t make any sense. If so much of their body is rotting, why not the fine cilia in their cochlea and the joints between those little bones in their ears? So to be consistent, they should be profoundly deaf and incapable of balance.

Now I haven’t done this, but I know people who have attached electrodes to small animals. Now I don’t mean live ones. I mean in school biology lessons. Frogs. That sort of thing. Sheesh, you people have strange minds! Anyway, the point is that it takes quite a jolt of juice to get the muscles on those little frog and mouse corpses to twitch. And each successive jolt gives a smaller twitch. This is because each contraction of a muscle uses up energy stored in the cells. In a live creature, this energy is replaced due to circulation of the blood.

Zombies don’t have circulation. So their muscles would twitch for maybe a couple of minutes at the most.

See where I’m going with this? Real zombies would be blind, deaf, dumb shambling corpses dragging themselves for a few yards over the ground. So unless you come across a zombie with a pair of massive coke bottle glasses, hearing aids with volume set on high, an artificial respirator and an electrical extension cord jammed in its neck to provide power you’re not likely to be in any sort of bother. Especially since most electric cords are no more than 20 meters in length they should be fairly easy to avoid. And all those hysterical nit-wits in movies have to do is shutdown the local power grid and they can step daintily between twitching rotting senseless bodies. Easy peasy.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Obesity: Epidemic or salvation for the human race?

Apparently various government dudes are stating that half the population of Britain will be obese by 2025. They’re calling it an issue with the same impact as global warming.

Now do these people have their heads screwed on or not?

I say yes. But only if they think it's a good thing. I believe that the vast proportion of the population (and not just 50%) of Britain SHOULD become obese by 2025.

My reasoning? Global warming...

As the sea rises and vast swathes of Britain become submerged, nature needs to find a new balance. So all us “thinnies” will have the dry land and all the obese lot will be naturally selected by fast food to survive the flooding by converting fat into blubber, floating off and gradually turning into human forms of whales. Or those fat ass seals. Whatever.

It’s evolution in action, people!

I can see it now. Small thin and emaciated groups of “thinnies” huddled together for warmth on the islands once known as Wales desperately trying to grow lentils and diet crackers being harassed by vast hordes of “whale-people” swimming in shoals around them. Huge herds of them on beaches, with the males warding off competitors by baring their fangs and tossing burgers at potential rivals.

You can see the pre-cursor to this in any shopping centre.

One can imagine the movie “Fatties” being made where a dude has his son taken by a whale-man and getting a wizened old guy to hire a boat to go off and hunt the whale-man that took his son. The climax would be the thin guy hanging on to the remnants of the boat firing a rifle into a gas powered chicken rotisserie just as it was being scoffed by the offending whale-man.

Makes sense to me.

Which means, I believe, that I’m destined to be a thinnie and be part of the new society living on little remaining dry land, while vast herds of obesa-human-whales slosh across the drowned corn and wheat fields of that soon to be blue and wet land. 


Monday, 2 July 2012

The little feathered f**kers have found a new trick.

Not the little black and white bowling balls they have in the northern hemisphere.
Big bad-ass buggers the size of a bald eagle that terrorise neighbourhoods in the southern climes.
Birds that cause fear amongst cyclists and walkers.
Birds that cause people to wear ludicrous head dress to avoid having their skull opened by a well placed peck.

Spring must be here.
Or perhaps not.

In any case the family that took residence near our house some three years ago have begun to develop some skills.
Irritating skills.
They're not afraid of us, nor are they concerned.
They do, however, give us evil annoyed stares whenever we go out in OUR BACK YARD.
"It's not your backyard!"
I scream at them to the concern of our neighbours.
I'm sure they fear for my sanity.
The neighbours that is. Not the magpies. They haven't developed that skill yet.

Oh. I forgot.
What skill have they developed that is so frickin' annoying that I would write about it?

They roll berries.

I need to explain that statement for fear of being committed.

The magpie family has increased.
Started out with just a couple.
Then they had kids.
Which had kids.
And now the little b*stards have invaded our serene spot of sane with their incessant chortling and malevolent stares.
They sit on the fence not five feet from me with a look of disdain and what can only be described anthropomorphically as hatred.

Admittedly the disdain may be because of the glass of bourbon or my ranting at them semi incoherently.

In any case they have discovered a bush. Or tree. Whatever. It has berries. Big red ones. BIG berries.
And they have started taking them onto our roof.
They can't always get them swallowed in one piece so they need a stable surface that allows them to catch them if they fall.

Which they do.


So they chose our roof.
Which allows them to muck about with the berries with the knowledge that if they miss, they just roll down the roof into the gutter.
From which it is easy to get them back.

They fail to conceive of the sheer bloody irritating nature of such a startling smart initiative on their part.
Just try to read a book, have a snooze, watch a show when it is intermittently punctuated with:
"Bonk. Bonk. Bonk. Bump. Chortle. Whee-whip"
Or however the hell you reproduce their chortle in English.
On your roof.

I have to say that I love the annoying little buggers, love the fact that they have shown their intelligence and love their pure beautiful skill at swooping which defies the most modern air force fighter.