Thursday, November 16, 2006

Nuw Zulund, cont

After our "glacier adventures" we drove south to Queenstown along the coast. Couldn't have asked for better weather. It was the first real day of sunshine we've had in NZ. The drive was amazing, with the first half along the western coast, and the second half through the mountains and lakes to Queenstown.

Queenstown is definately in a prime location. But gee, touristy! Definately the most touristy place I've seen in NZ (and even in most other countries). The locals (if there are any left) must be mad at it all.

Took the cable car up to the top of the hill behind town.. absolutely beautiful views from up there. Chi has gone off to his day of jetboating, whitewater rafting and helicopter riding. I've given it a miss as I'm not to keen on getting wet as it's still freezing cold. Low single digits at night and mid teens during the day.

From Queenstown we headed to Te Anau, the last main town before Milford to stock up on supplies for our trek. We got lots of icky looking freeze dried meals, salami, dried beef, cheese, muesli bars, apples, rye bread and chocolate. I think each of us had about 2.5 Kg of food to carry (4 days supply + extra in case we got stuck due to avalanches or flooding). Plus other stuff like toilet paper, dish washing soap and stuff like that.

We had our last good meal at a place called Olive Tree Cafe in Te Anau and headed to our hostel. It was a wet, cold and grey evening. We packed our packs (minimal clothes, lots of food and other stuff), had a crappy dinner and headed to bed. Well not before a mini emergency when we realised we had to pick up our tickets from town (60Km round trip) at about 4pm! Anyways, got tickets, got to the hostel and got to sleep.

Next morning was, you guessed it, cold, wet and grey. We got our packs and headed down the road to the start of the famous Milford Track.

To be continued...

Friday, November 10, 2006

Nuw Zulund

Early start in Sydney, didn't work out well for me, tho it seemedChi had a worse time, as he just made the check in close.. My day gotworse as I first thought I'd left my all important jacket at home,then managed to leave my boarding pass at the place I had brekky.Found it after a few heartstopping minutes of searching!

We finally got to customs and there was a MASSIVE line.. we werethere for about 30 mins and were almost the last people on the plane..anyways, the flight to NZ went without any issues and we landed prettymuch on time. Got our little Echo (268,000 Km on the clock, but prettygood condition) found our hostel (Stonehurst) and went for a lookabout town.

Christchurch is dead. Very dead. Even on a Saturday afternoon onlythe two blocks around the centre of town around the cathedral had anypeople. Even the shops were closed. We took a walk around thecathedral and down to the Avon and to the Musem next to the botanicalgardens. After that it was back into town to a "dodgy looking chinese"place for dinner. Oh and we notice that there were a LOT of koreansabout town. Unusual.

We started driving north from the next morning arriving in Kikourafor lunch. A very very pretty town with snow capped mountains in thebackground. Pretty small and sleepy tho. We had a nice lunch there thowe didn't think paying NZ$50 for crayfish was sensible.. Regretting itnow tho..

We drove on to Nelson through Picton.. some very nice scenery, anda challenging drive with narrow roads, lots of climbs and descents andzig-zag roads. At Nelson we stayed at a very very cool backpackerscalled Tasman Bay. Totally cool atmosphere and people! Definatelyworth going back if we're back in Nelson.

Next day we drove north to our walk in Able Tasman National Park.The weather was rather grey and cold and neither Chi nor I was keen onkayaking. Instead we took a water taxi to Bark Bay and walked down toTorrent Bay (about 2.5 hours). It was constantly grey and drizzly butit was still very very purdy.

It was low tide when we got to Torrent, so we decided to go toAnchorage Bay over the tidal mudflats. About 2Kms worth of mud. LOTSof fun! Really! Nothing like the feeling of mud squishing through yourtoes!

We had to sit around Anchorage for a few hours in the rain (beingattacked by those annoying Sand Flies) for our Water Taxi. From thereit was back in the car and heading to Westport.

Westport is kinda like Newcastle, but deader. I mean there was NOONE at 7pm on the main street. We were the only people having dinneror a drink at the local pub! We stayed at a place called Robyn's Nest,which is a rambling old mansion with the downstairs part converted toa backpackers and upstairs for the family. It was nice enough, butlets just say the shower/toilet faciclies left a LOT to be desired.

Next morning was wet and grey (notice a theme?) and we set out forFranz Josef. About 15 mins out of town we realised we didn't refueland the car definately didn't have enough petrol to make it to FJ. Chidecided to soldier on confidently saying that we had enough for FJ thoI seriously doubted it. The first town we passed, the servo was out ofpetrol! Finally we got to Hari Hari and filled up! Phew!

Made it to Fanz Josef early in the evening, checked into the YHA(very nice!) and went for a trip about town. Went to the Glacier tohave a look, it looked big. Got back into town and had a nice dinner(spoke to a nice German couple in the pub about the world cup). We gothome early to prepare for the big glacier hike the next day!

Our "glacier adventure" to come!

Glacier on the day we climbed it.

Glacier the day AFTER we climbed it!

Friday, November 3, 2006

Glacier Adventure

So everyone who's been to New Zealand says to go visit Fransz Josef Glacier. Climb it, they say. Of course Chi and I wanting to do that and more, decided to do the big full day glacier hike, spending some 6+ hours on the Ice. It should be good, yeah?

It started pretty well. We both had our own gear, and used it except for the boots and crampons (metal spikes that strap onto your shoes to get extra grip on ice). Got on the bus and headed over. It was slightly cloudy and a bit on the chilly side, but a nice day. The sun even came out for our walk to the glacier face.



Thigns started going south soon as we got onto the ice tho. As we were strapping on our spikes a slow drizzle started. The air got colder (ok so we were surrounded by 100 million tons of ice, but still!) and low, grey cloud drifted in.



We slowly made our way up the ice. It was getting colder and colder, and wetter and wetter. There was very little pretty blue ice like I'd seen in the pictures, mainly coz there was no sun to speak of, and secondly because there was a lot of mud and rocks around. Every now and then there was a very pretty ice crevasse or cave or something, but it was rare indeed.

After about the 3 hour mark the rain got heavier. Very heavy drops... like melted snowflakes... I asked the guide if it ever snowed in November around here.. "never" he said. But sure enough, about five minutes later, big fat snowflakes started drifting down. Pretty soon it was snowing quite heavily.

By this stage I was wet and miserable, and my hands were getting numb. So numb infact that I couldn't even adjust my crampons when they got loose. When we finally reached the top and stopped for "lunch" it was grey, wet and we really couldn't see very far. My lunch had also frozen solid, so I was even less happy! :(



After some stuffing around up top (I think the paths were getting slippery coz of the extra snow) we decided to turn back. We painfully truged back down over the next few hours, with me losing feeling in both hands halfway to my elbows! yay! So much fun!

Eventually got back to the hostel and stuck my arms in warm water for 20 mins before any feeling came back. Wow what an adventure.

To make things worse, the next day it was perfectly clear, blue sky and much warmer. Not happy.

So, lessons learned? Don't book Franz Josef treks beforehand. Go there and check the weather and book only if the conditions are good. It's brilliant when the conditions are good, and miserable when they aren't.

Thursday, November 2, 2006

En Zed

I'm off to New Zealand on Saturday with Chi for a couple of weeks of hiking and general going about. I haven't been really excited about the trip yet, but I think it's slowly starting to grow on me. I'm sure I'll get into it when we land in Christchurch in ~48 hours.

We're just doing the general "drive around the south island" thing. Not much is set in stone yet, except for the 5 day Milford Trek and a hike on Franz Josef Glacier.

Will keep the blogosphere informed via updates when I can. Hopefully the lessons learned in Europe will make this one a better travel blog.

Dude, You've Changed

#tags music

Who would have thunk it? Clare Bowditch and the Feeding Set have won the ARIA for Best Female Artist! That's a huge acheivement for an artist who has had no commercial radio play at all! AND in even better news it seems Clare and Marty are expecting TWINS!

To wrap up a decent ARIAs overall, Bernard Fanning got the Best Male Artist award and Midnight Oil got inducted to the Hall of Fame.. and they had a go at the poncy pop princesses that dominate music these days. Good on em!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Industrialised Food Production

People who know me know that I often bitch about industrialised food production. Particularly indistrialised animal farming. The recent E-Coli caused food poisoning scare in the US (3 dead, 200 hospitalised) has been traced back to industrial cattle farming.

In an article for the New York Times, Michael Pollan describes how the e-coli got there. Basically it's a strain of the bateria that originated in feedlot cattle that are fed on grain (and whatever else). It does not appear in grass fed cattle.

Besides being a breeding ground for new super-bugs (the overuse of agricultural anti-biotics has well known consequences) there is another problem, as explained by Pollan. By industrialising both animal and vegetable faming we have seperated the old plant->animal->manure->plant cycle and produced to seperate problems. The plants don't have fertiliser, and the animals produce ~1 billion tons of manure every year. The fertiliser problem has been "solved" by using artificial nutrients, but the manure problem has no solution.

Tie this in with the problems of massively centralised food production (an outbreak in a single food supplier caused a nationwide food poisoning event) and we see yet another downside of industrial food production.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Rural Fire Service

Last Sat I went along to a fundraiser for the Wentworth Falls branch of the NSW Rural Fire Service.. It was organised by Chami's mother and a few others and had a whole bunch of bands, dancers and lots of yummy food.

Chami and three of her friends had been roped into doing a dance for the night, and even tho they only had 2 weeks to practice really put in a great performance. Of course they almost caught hypothermia afterwards coz it was so frikken cold, but that's just a minor inconveniance. They were even called back for an encore!

I've been told that they raised over $2000 for the RFS so it's all good. Maybe the next one can be held somewhere a bit warmer tho! We were thinking of starting a bonfire, but for some reason the firefighters weren't keen on that idea!



Friday, August 4, 2006

Secret Cabal

Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) has blogged about a topic near and dear to my heart. Though of course the way he put it is a lot funnier than I ever could. His hypothesis is that the world is actually being run by a secret cabal of corporate puppet masters who pull the strings of the world governments. Obviously something as important as running the world can't be left to idiotic citizens of "democracies" or the even worse idiot politicians elected by the previously mentioned idiots.

... my survival depends on hordes of clueless goobers electing competent leaders. That's about as likely as a dog pissing the Mona Lisa into a snow bank. - Scott Adams

Monday, July 10, 2006

How Mainstream Are You?

OK so I love music. And I love stats. Nothing better than putting them together thanks to the information collected at last.fm!!

So the stats might be a bit dodgy, and the results not really that meaningful, but people have worked out a way to see just how "mainstream" your listening habbits are by comparing the average number of listners for your top 10 artists against the number of listeners for the top 10 overall artists on last.fm.

OK, so my top 10 and the number of listners figures are as follows:

Artist Listners
Clare Bowditch 724
Art of Fighting 1296
Sigur Ros 131463
The Knife 37089
The Go! Team 62803
Gomez 34733
Radiohead 323179
Architecture in Helsinki 60624
K's Choice 22327
Decoder Ring 1554

Averaging the number of listeners per artist on my top 10, gives 67507 listeners. Comparing that against the 295,314 listeners average for the last.fm top 10, (67507/295314)*100 gives me a score of 22.8% mainstream. Of course most of that is just Radiohead.. take Radiohead out and my score goes down to ~12%.

You can only really compare with other results from last.fm of course, which is still pretty nifty.

Sunday, July 9, 2006

Signs of Trouble?

I've just been talking to Chi and others on email about work and stress and if it's all really worth it. My personal view is that no, it's not worth it. I don't want a high paid, high stress job. I'd rather be happy and get paid less or be "less successful" or whatever.

Reading George Monbiot's blog today I came across an article that talked about expectations and reality. The problem is that basically we are living in the most prosperous, safe and secure period in all of human history. But then why are people having so much problems? Mental illness (specially amongst children) is higher than it's ever been. Other "wealth related" health problems like obesity, heart disease and diabeties are at alarmingly high levels and rising.

Monboit makes reference to the sort of expectations sold to the masses (and once again, to children in particular). The idea that you can be rich and famous one day through things like Big Brother and American/Australian Idol. While the reality is that people today are much less likely to move up through the income classes than previous generations (paradoxically, more people today believe that they can). Other factors like the rise in self-harm, specially amongst girls are perhaps an indicator that people are being led to hate themselves and aspire to something they cann't possibly achieve.

So is this the cost of progress? Is it really worth it? Is it even sustainable?

In related news Jim Kunstler talks about the current "economic miracle" and it's sustainability. It seems even trusty old Bears like Doug Noland is getting carried away with the hype. Noland has written an article about how we're at the cusp of an energy revolution and that the investment in the new energy infrastructure and technologies will make the tech boom look tame.

I think Noland is right in some respects, there is and will be a big energy boom. But Jim Kunstler (and I) don't think he's right in thinking that there is a technical solution to the problem.

We have gotten to the levels of prosperity we have by doing more with more - i.e. wealth/productivity has grown exponentially, but so has energy usage. There won't be a technical solution to our energy crunch unless we abandon our philosophy of "economic growth will solve all problems". Everyone knows that unlimited exponential growth isn't viable, but when the crunch comes I get the feeling people will be surprised.

Disclaimer - I'm finishing up bottle of red left over from last night. So I am Posting Under the Influence. The post above may or may not make much sense.

Sunday, July 2, 2006

CB&FS

Went to see Clare Bowditch and the Feeding Set at the Gaelic Club last night with Chams. It was the first time I'd seen her since The Great Escape, but I gotta say, I was very, very dissapointed. Not with Clare, but with the audience. There were a lot of people who had no interest whatsoever in the music and were chatting away LOUDLY throught the set. I felt like leaving more than a few times. It was a real shame because I think if affected Clare and the FS's performance too. Also not that big on the Gaelic Club as a venue...

Besides the rude audience, there was some very special news from Clare and Libby - they were both pregnant!! oooh such big news! No wonder this will be their last tour for a while!

They played pretty much all the songs from "What Was Left" along with a couple from "Autumn Bone" and finished up with their cover of Crowded House's "Fall At Your Feet". I keep thinking "what would have been" if the audience had some respect. What a shame.

Friday, June 30, 2006

The Soceroos

OK so it's been almost a week, and I guess it's time I blogged my final entry about the Socceroos World Cup 06 campaign. Still pissed off about the Italy game, sure the last second penalty was crap, but we really should have done better against a 10 man Italy. Mind you the sending off was a stuff up from the ref too, so all up the refereeing was just sh!te.

I'm mostly over it though I really can't gather up any enthusiasm to watch any other games. Haven't watched a full game since last Monday. That game really drove home the things I don't like about football, particularly the standard of officiating and the lack of video citations or even post-game penalties for bad play (like in Rugby League).

Still very proud of what the guys did there. We're really gonna miss Guus. Here's hoping for a better showing at World Cup 2010.

Friday, June 23, 2006

World Class

We made the final 16!! Finally we have proof that Australia has a world class football team! Of course we knew that all along. I was quite confident of a win against Croatia, but a draw was enough. There were quite a few heart-in-mouth moments but our guys never gave up and performed brilliantly!

I can't not comment on the quality of the match officials - which was abysmal! I mean Simunic got three yellow cards. WTF? There were numerous tackles (Simunic on Viduka in the penalty area) and hand balls that went unpenalised. Very, VERY poor form from the FIFA officials.

Monday, June 19, 2006

What Could Have Been

I don't think I'm the only one who will be saying, not only could we have drawn that game, if we took our chances we could have won it. The first half was great footbal, but we dropped our concentrationin the second half.

They scored 2 out of their 3 or 4 chances. We got nothing to show for our 6+ chances. That shot from Kewell off Roberto Calos' sky ball should have been a goal. Maybe that's just the difference between a great team and a very good one. But no one can deny that we are a world class football team now.

But I'm still damn proud of our boys. If we play like we did in the first half, Croatia should be worried. We can take them.

BTW I'm writing this at 5am in the morning, it probably doesn' make much sense..

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

3-1

OMG I'm so deliriously happy at the moment. We've just beaten Japan in the 06 World Cup, after trailing them by a goal for 84 minutes!! And it was a dodgy goal anyway, our keeper got taken out.

Was feeling pertty glum all the way through until super-subs Cahill and Aloisi scored 3 in the space of 9 minutes!!! What a come back! A thouroughly deserved win!

We were definately the better team through the game, with lots of posession and way more shots on goal. Hopefully we'll keep the form going against Croatia and maybe we'll make a good showing against Brazil. I'm predicting a draw and a loss respectively, but on our current form, a win and draw isn't out of the question!

Thursday, June 8, 2006

Boozy Week

And Friday, Sat, Sun I expect will be another big weekend in the Blue Mountains. I feel sorry for my liver.

Lesson for this week - you know you've had too much when you spend 15 minutes looking at the shapes the light makes as it refracts through your beer. It's IS pretty though!

mmmmm beer!!!

Friday, June 2, 2006

Too Much Teeveee, Not Enough Time

I've taken some time over the last week to catch up on some TV. Finally watchted all of Scrubs (which I found out has been renewed for a sixth season!) and Veronica Mars.

Scrubs ended up with some big surprises and lots of sweet moments. It really hasn't been going for the big laughs since about season 2, and the current mix of pathos and comedy works really well. The actors are all so comfortable with their parts that they really give the show a lot of zest. I get the feeling that the sixth season will be the last, but it's been a good run. Can't wait to get the whole DVD set.

Over on VM, things ended with a bang! I got the distinct feeling that the writers were wrapping up all the plot threads in case the show didn't get renewed next year (it did get renewed, BTW!) I'm not entirely happy with the Rube Goldberg style complications of the plot with (almost) all the bad things pointing to one person. But anyways, I'm pretty happy with how it ended, but in true VM style it wasn't an entirely happy ending.

So now all I have to do is catch up on 22 episodes of BattleStar Galactica, 24 episodes of Lost season 2, a whole bunch of Top Gear, The Chaser and various odds and ends. There is NO WAY I'll get through it all.

To make things worse, ABC2 is starting to show DiG TV and jTV!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Predators Back in Division 1

I don't know what the organisers are thinking, but for some reason we've ended up in Div 1 in the new comp. We won 2 and lost 2 games in the trials, and one was an emphatic loss.. so not sure what's going on there..

We came up against a decent team last night, and ended up winning 7-5 (or something like that). It was a pretty physical game with poor Andy getting steamrolled within minutes of subbing on. I thought he'd broken a few ribs or something, but he was back playing later in the game, he's a tough kid. We were playing with a few ring-ins with Mick (Chunga's buddy) and Charlie (Ted's buddy) filling in.

I felt our defence was pretty poor once again, we missed a few one-on-one tags and it was only the patended scrambling defence that saved us from conceding more. The opposition wasn't very quick on the outside so they didn't get a chance to expose one of our main weaknesses which is the lack of a good sliding defence.

In attack we were much better, with Kara scoring with his tried and true "arse barge" through their line and breaking through a few times. Finger also had a great run down the sideline burning the winger and getting past their cover defence. The ring ins also did really well. Personally, I still need to work on my sprints, a few times I almost got through the line but didn't have the acceleration to break though. Need to do some hill runs to build up leg power, but it's sooo cold outside! :(

Overall a decent start for the season, but we'll need to work on our defence a lot more against the better offensive teams. And without Phi and Lucky in the middle we need to organise our attack a bit better.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Work and Blogging

An interesting peice on the New York Times about what effect a generation of bloggers has on corporate culture. A lot of kids these days have a blog where they openly discuss everything and don't know where to draw the line about work (or even that a line exists).

I've always made sure that my personal blog doesn't really have to do anything about what I do at work. Even when it's something purely technical I tend to not say anything about it... which means a LOT of what I do in my daily life never makes it to here..

Maybe it's time to reconsider and go back to using the IBM blogging guidelines.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The War On Terror Continues

With the US refusing entry to UK/Sri Lankan MC M.I.A. I think her publicity has bitten her on her ass this time, since she's all about revolutionary zeal and pumping up the Tiger cause.. The whole "down with the hood" attitude wears thin pretty quick though. It's almost impossible to understand what she says on the blog (thankfully Pitchfork provided a translation from ghettospeak), but I get a sense that she's really just playing it up for the audience. Read the comments and they are just as well written.

It's clear from an interview she did with Pitchfork that she's an intelligent and well spoken person, but yeesh! Enough with the posturing.

Anyway, I'm sure the record company's expensive lawyers will convince the U.S Govt to let her in sooner or later. I'm sure they'll use the "it's just an act" defence.

I don't think I've said anything about her first CD, Arula, which I got after Amazon put it #2 after Sufjan Stevens Illanoise. Unfortunately Arula was miles, miles behind Illaniose IMHO. The heavy jungle beats sure scream out "LONDON", and the performances really pack a punch.. but the revolutionary ideals just fall flat for me. The silly posturing and "angry at the world" act just doesn't cut it. After Ms Dynamite and Princess Superstar. Maybe it's my jaded and cynical view of the world, but all I could muster was a resouning "meh!" to that CD. Might give it another listen sometime and see if it improves.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Evil Monkey

Since I've been at DD my team has got me hooked on Family Guy. It's absolutely one of the funniest things on TV. It (usually) makes absolutely no sense, has a shocking moral code and is absolutely brilliant. I've been working my way through the five seasons and I've definately noticed how things have gotten progressively zanier.

Brian (the talking dog, for those who don't know) plays a more central role now, and Stewie (the homocidal baby bent on matricide) has a less prominent role. Either way, it's just brilliant TV. Can be a bit hit and miss at times, but it's pretty much guarenteed to provide some hilarity.

Peter Griffin: Oh please tell me this is some kind of practical joke. Like the kind I used to play when I was an intern at the hospital.
[Cut to hospital]
Peter Griffin: I'm afraid I have some very bad news, your wife's going to be a vegetable. You'll have to bathe her, feed her, and care for her the rest of her life.
Guy: Oh my god.
Peter Griffin: [laughs] No no no, I'm just kidding. She's dead.

Quotes via WikiQuote.

And I leave you with, The Evil Monkey!!

Evil Money!

Saturday, May 6, 2006

Get Your Dirty Mitts Off Our Internet!

It seems that we have managed to prevent the big media companies from the US (MS and Yahoo!) from giving "broadcasters" rights above and beyond those given by copyright.

In essence the "Broadcast Provisions" introduced by MS and Yahoo - and opposed by pretty much every other country in the UN - gives people who do nothing but broadcast/webcast the work rights over it. Cory Doctorow explains on Boing Boing:

This is the Broadcast Treaty, which will create a new group of rightsholders, the people who transmit information (broadcasters, satellite casters, cablecasters, but for now, not webcasters). These people get a "broadcast right" to the works they transmit, over and above the copyright that goes to those works' creators. That means that even if you have the creator's permission to use a work you've received, you still need to get clearance from the broadcaster, whose only contribution to the work was putting it on the air.

Uses that are considered fair under copyright -- things you can do without the creator's permission, like quoting and parody -- won't be fair uses under broadcast rights. And broadcast rights will cover things copyright doesn't cover, like works in the public domain, factual material and government materials. And the broadcast right trumps the Creative Commons licenses that have already been applied to 53 million works in a scant three years; even though those authors want you to distribute their works, the "casters" still get to stop you.

This sort of thing is of course great for people who already host (though not necessarily own) a large amount of media. Or for those who have the infrastructure to provide the means to webcast this media. But for small people like bloggers and podcasters, it would make life very hard. Even if it was implemented, how are people going to keep track of who has the "broadcast rights" for some piece of media. What insanity.

While this is off the agenda for now, I'm sure it will pop up again. It was the hard work of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Consumer Project on Technology, IP Justice and many others that saved us this time. Remeber what Thomas Jefferson said, "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."

Keep on Blogging!

A Rare Moment of Truthiness

Stephen Colbert, take a bow. How rare it is for a member of the media to stand up to the Bush administration and point out their failings to their face? That took real guts, determination and a big dose of truthiness.

Colbert's speech at the White House Correspondents Dinner was a breath a fresh air after all the other press lapdogs had finished grovelling at the administration's feet. The unbearable chuminess and obvious avoidance of the administration's failings during the last two terms is really more than the public should bare. What would we do without Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert?

It was prety obvious that the press was in shock from the moment Colbert started. You could see eyes widening in surprise and hands going to mouths. It had been so long since someone skewered the President that it seems the press has forgotten what their role really should be.

What I and many others find most disturbing is that Colbert's speech is not getting any mainstream media attention. Seems the administration's media controls are still in force. Is this wilful self-sensorship? Even in Australia, the ABC did a story on the Bush impersonator (what a piece of crap, BTW), but no mention of Colbert's much more insightful parody. If it was not for the Internet spreading the video and story this would have sunk without a trace.

This only highlights the importance of the Internet as the last bastion of free speech and free press. I'm sure the governments of the world have new impetus to try and muzzle the internet.

Once again, Thank You Stephen Colbert.

Also, a good interview at The Onion.

Update - more reaction at Salon, here and here

Update 2 - after the video was pulled from YouTube, it seems that it's up on Google Video with C-SPAN's consent. Go get it now!

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Oztag Winter 2006 - Game One

Had our first game of the new OzTag season last night. The Predators are playing in a new comp in Homebush this winter as the Bankstown one is not running. It seems that quite a few teams have migrated over with us, as the first team we played had quite a number of players from one of the Bankstown teams. I'm back int he team after a two season break, as was Michael "The Finger" Nelson. Jason Kara re-joined the predators after about a 10 season absence! The rest of the team was made up of last seasons Predators - minus Tim (uni), Chi (women), Mach (MIA) and Lucky (pansy).

The first four weeks will be a trial to determine what division we're in. There was talk of games being thrown but we managed to scrape through last night for a 9-8 win. The field was much smaller than at Birrong and any half break was enough to score. It didn't help that both sides was playing some shocking defence. You could certainly say that it was a first game of the season.

I still can't believe that we actually scored 9 tries in that game. The Predator's offense was pretty basic as always. We didn't get a lot of depth (they kept rushing our line) and we only managed to complete ~5 sets all night!

Highlights include Slappy getting sent off for being an ass, Phi getting clothslined, and copping a low blow. Lowlights include me missing a shitload of tags, resulting in a bunch of tries. Really need to focus in defence and myself in front of them.. Still shirty about it. :(

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

51 Not Out

Not bad for 5 overs, I think. That's what Chi and I managed to score in the latest match of our now regular weekend cricket games.

Chi and I were the first pair to bat, and things got off to a disasterous start as I called Chi through for a suicide single. I'm sure he was out of his ground but I think we were given the benefit of the doubt (and sympathy). From there on we had the tough work of seing off the two young speedsters Ted and Andy. Both were bowling at a good pace (definately the quickest I've faced in the last few months) but lost some control. This gave us some valuable runs via byes - easily contributing 20 to our total! We tried to keep the strike rotating over with quick singles and I think the left-right combination unsettled the bowlers line a bit.

After the youngsters we faced an over from Phi who managed to york me on the big toe (ouch! still hurts!) but we batted sensibly and saw him off too. From there we managed to score at a steady rate knocking off ones and twos with the odd boundary in the mix. Somehow we managed to get to 51 off our five overs, which is a new all-time record in the Five5 games we've played.

Of the following pairs the Brothers Luc put in a good effort as expected from the defending champs, but only managed 40 runs. A lot was expected from the brothers Bates and Nguyen, but lack of recent practice showed and they posted lower than expected scores. The highly rated team of Chunga and Van put in a dash but were undone by some great bowling and fielding. Speaking of wich, Van and Andy took some screamers today, Andy snatching a ball at full strech over his head feilding at Gully, and Van at Deep Square Leg taking a powerfully hit shot off Marto(?). I also partnered with Quang for the last pair, with my goal being to run singles and give QT as much of the strike as possible. He did very well, running ones and twos, hitting a few boundaries and getting a very respectable 40 38 runs!

On the bowling front I think I was a bit wayward today. I'm still bowling far too short, even leaving out the two bouncers I bowled at Lucky - sorry dude! :) - the length just wasn't right. The few times I did pitch up I did pretty well. One a hard catch to first slip (if we had one), another hitting Ted on the ankle on his back leg, and another hitting Chunga on his thigh as he tried to pull a ball that was a bit too low.

I'll really be concentrating on bowling full of a good length next time. Very few of our batsmen (if any) play off the front foot, and you rarely see anyone driving through the off side. So my new mission - full of a lenth, just outside off stump. Don't hold your breath though.

Kokoda

Just got back from watching Kokoda, as you would, today being ANZAC Day and all. I went in really wanting to like this movie, and the start was very good, the voice-over explained the situation and the opening scenes introduced us to the characters, though I really didn't like the opening "dream sequence".

Unfortunately I left the film feeling somewhat underwhelmed. There are only a few positives I can really take from the movie. The performances were great and the cinematography was at times brilliant, but there were many things that I didn't really like at all. The first was the hand-held camera. It just moved around too much, and even made me feel somewhat dizzy (first time a film had done this to me). The hand-held combined with lots of tight close ups just didn't work for me. Made the film very hard to follow, I actually had to take my eyes off the screen during the action scenes.

The characters were underdeveloped. I really didn't care what happened to them, partly because we didn't really get to know them, but more because this was just a few blokes who got seperated from the main body. This wasn't the battle that halted the Japanese, this was pretty much inconsequential for the war (though obviously not to the people involved).

I guess the main reason I'm dissapointed is that I was sort of expecting something as defining as Peter Wier's Galipoli (also about a small part of a large war). This film about an equally iconic piece of Australia's history somehow lacks the gravitas that the occasion demands. Kokoda is a commendable film, but that name carries with it high expectations, and I'm afraid to say, mine weren't met.

Oh, and a word of warning - if you didn't like The Thin Red Line and it's obsession with palm fronds waving in the air, this won't be your film. It manages to fit in a lot of waving palm fronds, spiders, centipedes and various other minutae in it's 90 minute run time.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Fad?

I've got nothing interesting to write on my blog, so I'm gonna write an entry about other people not writing anything...

So what's the deal? Seems everyone on my blogroll only update their blogs once a month at best? OK so Chunga does a bit better... but the general trend is once a month or less. Has the whole blogging bus been and gone? Was 2004-2005 the year(s) of the blog (seems that's when the posts are concentrated.)

Maybe other people have a higher posting threshold. I tend to blather on about anything and everything. Others seem to only say somethying when there is something worth saying.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Great Escape Photos

Finally got around to putting some photos from The Great Escape up on the site. Only took the camera on the last day, so pics are only from then. Taking pics at a festival is really hard, the light at the main stage was very harsh and then the light at the indoor Songwriter's Sessions was very poor.. oh well, did my best.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Two Years

Yesterday (Easter Sunday) marks 2 years since my European Adventure began. Though it really still feels like only a few months ago. Except that in those two years I've had 2 jobs, moved to a new apartment, met some new friends, reunited with some old ones and done a heap of other shit.

Was talking with Chi about how time seems to just fly now... I don't know if I want it to fly so the New Zealand (and eventual UK) trip comes closer or if I want time to slow down so I can savour the moment...

Monday, April 17, 2006

Clare Bowditch Day (AKA Great Escape - Day 3)

So I was sort of jokingly calling Sunday "Clare Bowditch" day in my head. How little I knew!

The day started at 1330 when I set up camp (so-to-speak) in front of the main stage for Clare's show. She was out and about with Libby and the rest of the Set, getting their gear set up... There was a nice crowd building with a few folks standing up front and the rest of us sitting on the grass and enjoying the afternoon sun. She came out and got right into it, with a big smile and really looked like she was enjoying herself (everyone else was too). She even "borrowed" some sunscreen from "Jess" in the audience in the middle of the set.

Clare played a lot of the stuff from What Was Left including Little Self Centred Queen, Starry Picking Night, Lips Like Oranges, On This Side and even The Thing About Grief. There was plenty of singing along and clapping and a real nice vibe up on the stage and in the audience. Definately the highlight show of the festival for me. Oh, and can I say, Libby and Clare were looking absolutely gorgeous! (I know, people are prolly gonna get sick of my saying that, but hey, it's true!)

Right, back to the story. After being mesmerised by Clare and the Feeding Set, I went to catch a bit of Epicure. Once again, I was too uncomfortable in the Big Top (dust) so headed to the Bunker to grab a good spot for the APRA Songwriter's Sessions with Clare, Kevin from Jebediah and Mat from Decoder Ring. When I got there Clare and co were setting up and plugging in.. Anyways, the songwriter sessions were really good once again, not just to get an idea of how they write but also just to get into their headspace.

Clare, for instance says that writing songs is something she MUST do, else she doesn't quite feel right. Kevin said something along the same lines, but he says he comes up with a melody/chord progression first and then tries to fit lyrics to it, which he finds to be a lot of hard work. Decoder Ring obviously works very differently, usually with the lot of them working together to throw ideas into the mix.. It was a really fun session (even including an attempt at Guns 'n Roses Sweet Child of Mine!) and everyone was really getting into it. I actually had my camera with me and snapped a few pics, will put em up later.. tho don't know how many of them are actually worth publishing.

After that I managed to catch a bit of Josh Pyke (pretty good), Butterfly 9 (same) before heading out to the big stage for Berndard Fanning. Everyone was really pumped and I think Fanning delivered. Clare Bowditch Day continued as he got Clare up to sing backing vocals on one song.. :) Songbird and Wish You Well just went off! with the audience singing along nicely... afterwards caught a bit of the Mountain Goats (meh, only knew one song which was ok) and headed to see Bob "Kevin from Jebadiah" Evens at the Riverside Stage.

Bob Evans really surprised me. It was just him with a guitar and mouth organ, playing some really nice country rock songs. His singing and musicianship was lightyears ahead of the first Jeb album.. and he had a really nice presense on stage, chatting along with the small audience. (I don't know what it is with lead singers from rock bands going solo and doing country records, but I'm really looking forward to the next album from the Jebs and Powderfinger.)

At one stage Kevin mentioned doing the APRA Songwriter's Sessions, and said that was the most nervous he'd been in ages, suggesting that maybe it was because he got to sit next to Clare Bowditch.. "I think she even smiled at me" he said like little boy in love with some Godess... Of course who just happened to run in front of the stage at that moment? Clare of course!! She had been listening to the show from the back and decided to embarass Kev a bit... Poor Kev turned red as a beetroot and fell to the stage, maybe trying to dig his way out. Clare waved at the audience and ran off, and everyone continued to laugh at poor Kev. He finally recovered (took a few swigs of his JD and Coke) and started a song dedicated to his wife-to-be!! Poor guy.. I understand, I'd be speechless and nervous if I had to sit next to Clare for a hour too!

After that we (Xtn, Chi and myself) caught a bit of Donavon Frankenriter and headed over to the Big Top to see Decoder Ring. We only made it through 3 songs before the other two got bored - and I had a go at them not expanding their musical horizons :) - but I was tired as well, so we headed home.

All in all, it was a great festival. Only a few standout shows, well, only two actually. Clare on Sunday and Dobacaracol on Friday, but lots of decent stuff inbetween. The numbers were a bit thin though, the only really big crowd was for Silverchair, and the main stage never filled to that size again. I think the organisers took a bet each way with the lineup and lost.. I don't think they quite knew if it was a country/roots/blues/folk festival or an indie rock/elctronic/dance festival. A more focussed lineup (and concentrated into 2 days) probably would have been better, IMHO. Also, I think some acts like Sigur Ros and Silverchair were really out-of place in the festival. Oh well, there's always next year.. and Splendour is coming up again...

The Great Escape - Day 2

OK so Sat was prolly the least exciting day (line-up wise) for me. There weren't any real must-see gigs, so I went along with an open mind to try and catch as many acts as possible.

Everything kicked off with Eskimo Joe, who rocked as expected. Played a couple of tunes from Girl, but most of it was from the new CD that I didn't know... Since I had no particular act lined up next, I was thinking of seeing Endorphin, but he was playing at the Big Top which I was avoiding whenever possible becuase of the horrible dust that goes everywhere as people dance around.

I'll just make a note about the weather here. First, it was FREEZING!! Sunday night was worse then Sat and Friday, but all days were bloody cold. Second, it was really dry and dust was EVERYWHERE. Specially when people started dancing you could see a column of dust rising into the air... mix that with all the smoke and, urgh! Horrible. I was really hoping for some rain to put the dust down, but nah.. my first music festival in aaages where it didn't rain. I missed the rain.

I discovered that there was a thing called APRA Songwriter's Sessions where APRA got musicians to talk about their songwriting process. Today was Lindsay from Frenzal Rhomb and Lior. It was really entertaining and interesting stuff, even for non-songwriter-person like me. Good to hear that I'm not the only person who thinks Jet (and all the other "new rock" acts) are boring as batshit and just ripping off 70's rock. Lindsay got into the story of how tsuna-you, tsuna-me was written as well as how Frenzal generally write their stuff (Jay used to get off his face, but now he writes songs "on his face", apparently).

Anyways, after that I headed to the main stage to see Juan de Marcos' Afro Cuban Allstars, who went OFF! Absolutely mad energy, big horn section and infectious sound. They were followed by Femi Kuti who was also great to watch and listen. The whole big-band thing is very cool!

The last act of the night for me was The Black Keys. I had heard a few of their songs on the js, but was pretty dissapointed with their live act. Didn't really catch me.. JC and Xtn headed to see Paul Mac afterwards, and I headed home... it was a pretty good day, but I was already looking forward to Sunday, with all that Clare Bowditch goodness.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Great Escape - Day 1

The much anticipated day rolled around, and Xtn, Chi and I walked over to the armoury at about 1300. We saw Shuai in a long, long line and made fun of him.. thinking that our cool moshtix would let us right through. But no. Seems that people who pre-ordered tix had to join the long,long line and queue for an hour! Great frikken start that was!

Anyways, we caught the tail end of The Fumes, a two person punk rock band. They were going off! After that we took a stroll around the place and ran into Lucky and Thu, who were just there for the day..

We eventually wandered around to the Riverside stage to watch Arabesk (4 piece jazz band) do their schtick. They took about 45 minutes to set up (!!) but they were really good musicians. Quite liked their stuff. After that strolled off to see Hawksley Workman, a Canadian duo who were great fun..

From there I headed to my first "must see" gig, Dobacaracol. They also had problems with the sound at the Riverside stage, but finally got on at about 1700. When they got on stage the whole crowd was sitting down relaxing in the afternoon sun.. I was kinda expecting some nice folky, world music type set from them.. but nope.. They were straight into some pumped up African beats with heaps of precussion. Pretty soon the whole audience was on thier feet dancing madly away. I must say their live act really surprised me.. completely diff from their album, with all that mad energy and jumping around. They did do Baiser Sale pretty much like it's on the album, tho.

I fitted in Silverchair (meh, pissweak) and Martha Wainwright (really good, but sound problems again) afterwards, and heded to Sigur Ros. I had some pretty big reservations about Sigur Ros playing a place like this.. They were following on from Silverchar (and as pissweak as they are) Sigur Ros' energy and style is completely different. The crowd for SR was also a lot smaller than for the Chair, though I expected that.

I hyped up SR to the other boys (Xtn, Shuai and Chi)... tho I was pretty sure they wouldn't like the stuff.. SR opened with a white screen in front of the stage, with them being alternatively front and back lit.. it was a very cool effect... tho kinda confusing to watch. They did a couple of songs from Takk... and by that stage the other guys were bored and ready to leave.. :) They started up Svefn-g-englar and the guys stayed for that, but letft afterwards.

SR continued with some songs from Takk and (), but the style was definately changed.. faster tempo and the drums dominating the soundscape (the drumming was AWESOME, BTW.) Towards the end of the set they played Olsen Olsen which sounded lot more like the album version. Overall I really didn't connect with the live act. I went home and listened to ¡gÊtis byrjun again, just to make sure I wasn't just tried and cranky and somehow "missed" the music. Nope, ¡gÊtis byrjun is still as good as I remember it being.. just that SR don't quite fit in a rock festival. An opera house is probably more their thing.

Overall a pretty good day. Saturday is pretty slim for me.. not much to listen to.. I'm going to see Eskimo Joe and maybe catch the APRA Songwriter's sessions (with Clare Bowditch!).

Some pictures of the Sigur Ros show from my phone:

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Pieces of the Puzzle

Another piece just dropped. Or least solidified whilst reading Gorge Monbiot's blog.

It's pretty clear the that US attacked Iraq not for it's "weapons of mass destruction" but to secure it's oil for US companies... but considering the current state of the place it's hard to see how they can get any usable infrastructure up to export a useable quantity of oil. Despite that failure looks like they are saddling up for another brilliant move...

Iran obviously realised it's next on the hit-list. Not because it's a hotbed for terrorism, but because it has about 10% of the world's crude oild and a LOT of it's natural gas (from GlobalSecurity.) Of course this threat started Iran down the only path that will provide a deterrent against attack, which is nuclear weapons.

Of course the US happily seems to want to escalate this even further.

Confluence

First, a disclaimer. This is going to be a data dump, I haven't had time to really organise it into a coherent whole, but I'm hoping it makes some sort of sense.

I think we're at a turning point in modern history, but not a "point" as such, but more like the large turning circle of the QE 2. And I'm not the only one saying this, for sure. Only recently has the pieces really fallen in place in my own head.. maybe I'm just slow. After all, Kenneth Boulding did say "Anybody who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist."

There is a confluence of many things happening now that will have a massive (and probably detrimental) effect on our lives. We're pretty sure that climate change - be it due to humans or not - is happening. Energy and commodity prices are skyrocketing. Corporations are making bigger and bigger profits and megacorporations are starting to dominate our economy. Globalisation has made the economy much more fluid and lead to the rise of the next superpowers, China and India. People's health (specially in the "Western World") is deteriorating rapidly - depression, obesity, heart disease, diabetes and ADHD are just some of the "lifestyle" diseases we're suffering.

What is clear is that all these problems are interlinked. Climate change is probably due to the massive amount of fossil fuels we are using to drive our economy. The economy is driven by markets which expect each year (and quarter) to produce higher profits than the previous one. This exponential growth in the market creates an exponential demand for resources (providing further impetus to climate change). The profit driven market sees everything including it's employees and the environment simply as another variable to maximise efficiency. The overstressed and depressed workforce finds solace in the only way it knows how - further material wealth. Which feeds back into the cycle.

Any engineer or scientist will know that a positive feedback cycle like this can't continue forever. Or even very long. We will hit some hard resource limits (be it natual resources, economic or human) sooner or later. Sooner, I think.

To be continued..

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Nuclear Option

An interesting and scary article from The New Yorker about the next possible target for the US Government - Iran.

It seems that the Government is even considering using "tactical" nuclear weapons to take out the Iranian's nuclear facilities. Obviously if the US attacks they will have to do so before Iran develops it's own nuclear weapons and targets Israel (not sure what sort of range their missiles have, but Israel would be the obvious target, followed by US bases in the rest of the Middle-East).

This is quite a worrying escalation of events. Specially with Bush apparently considering "freeing" Iran as his Presidential legacy. According to the article the officials at the Pentagon are so worried about the use of nuclear weapons that they have considered resigning their posts.

An attack on Iran could really be the turning point of modern history. As the article says, I don't think many of the 1.2 billion Muslims around the world will take kindly to Iran being attacked. This could escalate the current insurgent/terrorist threat to a new level...

Dangerous times indeed.

Vendetta

Saw V for Vendetta over the weekend. Despite my concerns of yet another classic comic being adopted for film, I was pleasently surprised. The story survived the transition to screenplay, and some of the scenes and locations were spot on (particularly liked V's "Bat Cave"). The performances from Portman, Weaving, John Hurt and Stephen Fry were brilliant. Stephen Fry in particular struck a chord as the only person in the film who was really hurting under the oppressive regime.

Looking at the film by itself and ignoring it's source material, I'd say it's pretty good. Certainly tried to cram into many ideas into it (specially Evie and V's backstory) but that I can generally forgive. The world was coherent enough for an action-oriented movie..

Still, if I look at it as an adaptation, it leaves a lot to be desired. The film is not dark enoug at all in it's depictions of a totalitarian state. The token modernisation of adding the Qua'ran to the list of banned items seems just tacky and over simplified. The ending also annoyed me on a number of counts but I won't go into that.. Oh and the tag line (which has got a lot of attention already) "People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people" is just stupid. It makes V sound stupid.

In the end, it's a decent movie, but once again, could have been so much more.

Friday, March 24, 2006

I Need More Time!

Man, I need more than 24 hours in a day. Or to sleep less. Or maybe to not work and be a bum. Tho the whole "bum" thing will prolly mess with my being able to pay rent and all that... there's sooo much to do and so little time.. like all the DVDs I want to watch..

I just found out that there are DVDs of Space: Above and Beyond. And of Millenium (I just want to get it to watch the good stuff done by Morgan and Wong, not Chris Carter's pissweak excuse for TV).

And THEN I found out that there is an Angel soundtrack, with a new version of the theme song (best TV theme music eva!)

Talking of soundtracks, I finally got Brian Tyler's soundtrack for Children of Dune. And it's even better than I remembered it being. Absolutely incredible. Brian Tyler is a musical genius.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

John Steffensen

Am I the only person who doesn't like him? Since when did Australia start liking arrogant sports people?

In other news, when will people realise that competing against a bunch of 2nd rate sporting nations really doesn't prove anything? It seems that Australia is just fighting the clock in most sports...

Looking forward to some REAL competition sometime soon.

Sara Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion

Went to see Sara Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion at The Basement with Xtn on Monday night. I had never heard of Sara Lee or Johnny before (tho I'm sure I would have seen reviews of their work, considering that they were #16 in the Amazon.com Editor's picks of 2005) and had no real expectations.. I've got to say, I was blown away..

They have a real sweet couple vibe about them, specially noticeable when they did a duet... It's not quite country, not quite folk.. somewhere in between I'd say.. Though having Bill Chambers on the steel guitar did make it sound a bit more country than just them on guitar.

Since it was their very last show they did a lot of fun stuff towards the end of the gig.. they literally unplugged (not that fake MTV "unplugged" bullshit), walked into the middle of the audince and did a song.. they tried a few new songs which they hadn't played before (Sara Lee couldn't quite get the guitar part, everyone had a good laugh).

Really fun gig! Highly recommended to anyone if they can see them live in particular. AND I got a poster signed by Sara Lee and Johnny!! woohoo!!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Asymmetric Warfare

Just read an interesting article on IEEE Spectrum about the mathematics of warfare.. more correctly the high level parameters that control how a war proceeds.

It's pretty long, but it essentially looks at how the US military was designed to combat a numerically superior force (Warsaw Pact) through advanced technology and intelligence... and how this fails when confronted by an "asymmetric war" (i.e. guerrilla war).

Two bits stand out in particualr:

"To the leaders of a nation with an overwhelmingly powerful military, every problem looks like it has a military solution."

Overall, one ruefully concludes that it is unlikely there is a military or a military-technical solution to the low-tech asymmetric warfare in Iraq.

Wonder how long it will take for our "leaders" to realise this.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Jasper Morello

I think I have just seen what may be the best short film I have ever seen. The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello is an example of the art of filmmaking distilled to it's purest form. Not a single word or frame out of place. I was spellbound for it's entire duration (well, all 25 minutes of it anyway).

The film follows the travels of one Jasper Morello, an aerial navigator living in some Victorian "steam punk" society of islands floating in the air and ships that glide through the aether. Jasper is given a final chance after making an error in his previous voyage which lead to the death of a crewmate... against this is the backdrop of a city's populace being decimated by a mysterious plage.. Jasper reluctantly leaves his wife behind and accepts the chance of redemption....

The animation and design of this film is breathtaking. The muted pallete of blacks, greys and occasional reds perfectly suit the atmosphere.. the intricate designs of the city and flying ships left me wishing to step through the film frame-by-frame.

The story, the sound and course the voice acting (Joel Edgerton as Jasper, who narrates the piece) is just perfect.

Go get the DVD. Watch it. That's all I can say. Except maybe that Anthony Lucas (director) and Mark Shirrefs (writer) are absoute genuises.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Benjamin Franklin's Plan

I came across this "plan for future conduct" devised by Benjamin Franklin in 1726. Discovered via BoingBoing

  1. Temperance: Eat not to dullness and drink not to elevation.
  2. Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling conversation.
  3. Order: Let all your things have their places. Let each part of your business have its time.
  4. Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.
  5. Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself: i.e. Waste nothing.
  6. Industry: Lose no time. Be always employed in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary actions.
  7. Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit. Think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
  8. Justice: Wrong none, by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
  9. Moderation: Avoid extremes. Forebear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
  10. Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanness in body, clothes or habitation.
  11. Chastity: Rarely use venery but for health or offspring; Never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation.
  12. Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
  13. Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Seems pretty sensible to me. Also reflects a lot of Taoism and Theravada Buddhism.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Oh The Pain

I'm feeling rather sore and sorry for myself at the moment... coz of a day of paintball on Sunday. And the pain isn't from paintball injuries, but from me running and diving around. My left ankle got twisted pretty badly, so now it's all swollen and painful. I've somehow managed to pull a hamstring AND injure my left arm too. yay for me!

Besides the pain (which only really felt afterwards) the day was great fun. We got together much of the old crew, with some new faces - Jem and QT were first timers - and put up a decent fight. Only played 4 fields (it was really, really hot, but it was slow even considering the heat) and we managed to win the "protect the general" field and "snipers" field. The others made a come back on the last capture-the-flag field coz (1) we were too lazy to attack and (2) coz we were low on ammo..

I tried to do a sneaky run to pick up the flag in the final game but to no avail. I spent a good 10 minutes sneaking up the left flank, going along the top of the hill, as our guys in the middle advanced and cleaned up the enemy barricade by barricade. At the 10 minute mark I had made it to their back line at the very top of the hill and started descending slowly. I managed to clean out 2 enemies about 1/2 way down the field.. but unfortunately the flags were right behind a barricade with 5-6 girls defending it. With time and ammo running low I had no option but to attack. Getting as close as possible I opened fire on them from above, I'm pretty sure I hit 2 or 3 before they saw me.. I charged for the flags sliding down the hill feet first.. with about 3m to the flag I got absolutely hammered. oh well, it was worth a run.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

What Might Have Been

Since the release of the prequels I have been very diassapointed in Star Wars and George Lucas in general. To say that they were a let down is an understatement..

Anyways, I just came across a comment on /. :

You know what would have worked, if Lucas wanted to do prequels, is, say, a movie dedicated towards the ancient history; say a movie about the first confrontations between the Jedi and the Sith. A second could deal with the rise of the Republic, and then one single movie to deal with Anakin becoming Darth Vader. - MightyMartian

Now THAT sounds like a grand idea. Why didn't someone think of that?!? If Lucas DOES go back to the Star Wars universe (lets face it, he's not shy of making lots of $$$) that would be a story I'd pay to see. As long as someone else writes it. And someone else directs it. Actually, Lucus just needs to provide the money.

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Hollywood's Death Spiral

There is a really interesting article on Slate about the trouble that Hollywood movie studios find themselves in. Part 1 is here and part 2 here.

But the problem isn't "downloaders are killing the movie industry" it's more like "the movie industry is killing theatres". It seems that they have essentially driven the theatres out of business because of an attempt to squeeze DVD profits into the same quarter as the theatrical release. The major studios now make FOUR TIMES more money from DVD as they do from the box office!

So something is going to give, and I think it will force a fundamental change in the "blockbuster" production process...

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

The Go! Team

I must admit, I've gotten on The Go! Team bandwagon pretty late. I'm not sure how or why I missed them.. I heard Ladyflash on jjj last year, but never really followed it up... Anyways, a few weeks ago I went out and bought their CD Thunder, Lightning, Strike on the strength of Ladyflash, and I gotta say, I absolutely LOVE the CD. It's uniformly high quality songs, great catchy hooks, upbeat and full of fun. I don't think I've been this excited about a CD since Architecture's In Case We Die - it really is that good.

I've seen a lot of people mention The Avalanches as a similar style to The Go! Team, and I can definately see why. Beyond the mass use of samples both Thunder and Since I Left You have the same sense of fun... but the Team's use of their own vocalists (and what a VOICE!) and instruments really sets them apart from the sample-mania crowd...

I'm totally digging this CD! If I had heard it ealier it would have definately made it to my "best of 2005" list!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Gigs Galore

Went to two very different gigs the last two days... both were very awesome too..

On Tuesday I went to see the Brodsky Quartet at Angel Place as part of the Sydney Festival. I had never heard any of their performances before, but knew that they had a big reputation... On the night they did not play any of the traditional string quartet repertoire (well, I guess you can consider Janacek "traditional"), but instead the program consisted of works by Sculthorpe, Janacek, Sally Beamish, Percy Grainger and Andrew Ford. Sculthorpe and Ford were both present at the performance as well. Australian soprano Jane Edwards sang the pieces by Granger, Ford and Beamish.

I must say this is the most unusual string quartet performance I've ever been to. The music, specially that of Sculthorpe is very dramatic and sometimes was simply sound effects played on strings. I found the pieces to be very technical and could appreciate them from a distance but was never emotionally involved with the music, so I guess I have mixed feeling about the whole show... I LIKE my Canon in D. :)

On Wednesday, xtn and I went to see the White Stripes, and BOY what a show it was. The Horden Pavillion was packed to the rafters by the time Jack and Meg stepped out. Meg looking absolutely gorgeous in her usual white jeans and red top and Jack looking like he stepped out from the set of a Tim Burton movie.

They put out an amazing sound and presense for just two people. Meg is pretty much always behind the drums, but Jack dances around with his guitar and sits at the piano (he switches between piano and guitar in the same song).. They played quite a few of the hits from Elephant as well as a punk rock version of Hotel Yorba.. of course the crowd went off during the big songs.. they did a bunch of songs from Satan but only the hard core followers were singing along to that.

The thing I will take away from the gig however, is the mythology they have about them. Everything from the set, the whole Adam and Eve thing and the apple (and as Xtn noticed - Jack dancing around Meg as she sang, re-creating the whole temptation of Eve thing). There wasn't any banter between songs either (they usually started the next song while the notes from the last song still hung in the air). Anyways, very memorable gig indeed. Definately go see them live, if you get the chance.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Pandora

Pandora is my latest obsession. It really is simply amazing. It's basically an internet radio station that modifies it's playlist based on your tastes in music. And it's free!! Well, supported by ads anyways.

I think this truely is the future of music as network access becomes ubiquitous. I love my iTunes, but that is just a glorified CD collection. Yahoo! Music is a more intelligent CD collection (i.e. subscription based, lives on the network). But Pandora introduces INTELLIGENCE into the equation. Mind you I don't think Pandora is the pinnacle.. something like being able to listen to an artist when you want would be necessary too..

Still, Pandora is amazing. Even the paid version at US$36 is a bargain!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Recovery

Big weeknd, this last weekend. Still feeling pretty seedy, infact.. Started on Friday night at Bar Europa for My-Linh's farewell (yet another person heading to London).. had a few drinks there till about 7:30 and then headed out to James Squire Brewery to catch up with some old mates from Proxima. It's amazing how little (and how much) has changed. It felt just like the good old days.. missed Mariusz, Sherali and Jonathan, tho.. This went on till the wee hours of the morning and ended up with Pete and Mel crashing at my place in Pyrmont... We had brekky nearby, with your correspondent feeling less than stellar.

After some more attempted sleeping and feeling sorry for one's self, I napped till 9pm(!!) and was about 2 hours late to Chunga's b'day(sorry Chunga!).. I was very pointedly keeping away from alcohol that night and still managed to have a good time! I remember much Habibs was consumed and spread amongst the faithful. Then headed home at about 2am (?) to Newington.. got there and noticed folks were watching a match on TV (Foxtel Digital is EVIL!) so I decided to watch that through till 5am!!!

By this stage Y.T. was very, very seedy. I somehow managed to make my way to Pyrmont and got cleaned up and made it to Myle's surprise party early! So proud of my self. A couple of double shot black coffees later, I was actually able to keep my eyes open for more than 10 seconds! Everyone had a great time having good food (mussels!) and beer and stuff. Except for me. No beer for me. :( We played "dodge the bird shit" for a while and wrapped up later in the arvo. This was at The Oaks in Neutral Bay, BTW.

Some of us (Mey, Nhi, Q1, Q2 and myself) headed to Colour Me Mine and tried our hand at painting ceramics... ended up at Pyrmont (via Newtington!) by about 10pm. Watched cricket, tried to sleep, without much luck.

Turned up to work in the pouring rain (left umbrella at work on Friday!). Great start. So yup, still feeling seedy.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Hottest 100

OK so I'm gonna use my blog for some public ruminations.. You see, one of the hardest things I've got to do at the start of every year is to decide what I'm going to vote for in Triple j's Hottest 100... There are sooo many awesome songs that it's hard to pick just 10... so, I'm gonna make my shortlist here, and narrow it down from this list.

Update - ok, so I've decided to keep 1 song each from Architecture, The Cat Empire and Sigur Ros. I really can't decide on one song by Emiliana, so I'm keeping both for now. I've put * against the songs I'm definately keeping, so that leaves 2 to pick from the remaining 9... I'll sleep on it..

Update 2 - A couple of big changes. I added Sarah Blasko's version of Flame Trees (from the Little Fish soundtrack). I can't believe I left it out of the shortlist!! Also added Shoot Frank by Cage. Removed The Go! Team's Lady Flash coz apparently that isn't from 2005. So after much rumination, I've decided to pick Clare, Missy and Sarah (of course). So my Hottest 100 votes turn out like:

  • Architecture In Helsinki - Do The Whirlwind
  • Architecture In Helsinki - The Cemetery
  • Architecture In Helsinki - Wishbone
  • Bernard Fanning - Wish You Well
  • Clare Bowditch - Divorcee By 23
  • Emiliana Torrini - Heartstopper
  • Emiliana Torrini - Sunny Road
  • Lady Sovereign- Random
  • Lior - Autumn Flow
  • Missy Higgins - The Special Two
  • Panics - Sleeps Like A Curse
  • Cage - Shoot Frank
  • Sarah Blasko - Flame Trees
  • Sigur Ros - Glosoli
  • Sigur Ros - Hoppipolla
  • Sufjan Stevens - Chicago
  • The Cat Empire - Miserere
  • The Cat Empire - Party Started
  • The Cat Empire - Sly
  • The Knife - Heartbeats
  • M.I.A - Bucky Done Gun
  • Herd - We Can't Hear You
  • Little Birdy Six Months In A Leaky Boat

NYE Photos

Finally got around to putting up some photos from the NYE 06 party we had at our aparment. Most of the photos were taken by other folks so credit/blame goes to them!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Mylo

Last few days I've been listening to Mylo's album Destroy Rock & Roll, and it's really grown on me. There are a couple of outstanding tracks on there, particularly Drop the Pressure, Sunworshipper, Valley of the Dolls and In My Arms. The whimsical tracks like Muscle Cars and Destroy Rock & Roll don't really do it for me.. but the other tracks are very good too.

Not bad considering Mylo is just a single guy (Myles MacInnes) who did the whole album by himself at home... Gives us all hope, I guess. BTW there are downloads from one of his live DJ sets on the website. Great stuff.

Monday, January 2, 2006

Obligatory New Years Post

Looking back at the last few "first entry for the year" posts it seems that I didn't bother to do something "proper"... so I will start this year.. I was going to do this as one big post, but then it got too big. So split into a few entries below. Oh, and happy new year, readers!

Near Years 05/06

It had been decided earlier (and NOT by us, let me add) that JC and I were hosting the folks for a new years eve party... having no choice we opened the door to all the riff-raff that we could invite (I mean that literally, the door buzzer thing wasn't working properly)... I think there were about 30 people at the height of the party, which wasn't as bad/crowded as I thought the place would be. Pretty sooon everyone was suitably boozed up and playing various games of pictionary (abandoned after one game), Poker, Xbox and spin the bottle. I kid you not.

We watched the 2100 fireworks from our front balcony but headed down to Pyrmont point for the midnight ones. We had a pretty good view, but unfortunately the wind was from the east and obscured the bridge and some of the fireworks with smoke. I never realised just how MUCH smoke the fireworks generate.

Anyways, after that it was back to the apartment for more driking and snacks. Somewhere in here JC mixed up the sugar and salt and we ended up taking taquila shots with sugar! THAT was an experience. We also drank some absolutely horribile Chinese sprit that burned my throat all the way down... After all this excessive drining my dear co-host decided to get comatose and passed out on his bed. Only to be violated by the guys and have love letters written on his body by Yui.

The last folks headed off at about 5am just as the Sun was coming up, poor Phi and Duong who were crashing here coz of field day the next day only got about 4 hours of sleep. Blame Nhi for not leaving earlier, guys. :)

So that was new years eve. New years day was an absolute shocker with temperatures hitting 45 degrees!!! It was dreadful! I went to Newington, turned up the AC and slept for about 5 hours! Then a cold change roared in later at night and dropped the temp by 20 degrees!

Year in Review

OK, so what happened in 2005? Couple of big things I guess. Firstly I got off my ass and moved out. Found a nice place in Pyrmont and moved in with JC. That had been something I had been contemplating for a while, particularly since getting back from Europe, but never really got going with it... Once Chi, Minh and JC started talking seriously about it I finally got the impetus to jump in too..

The other big change was me leaving IBM (I thought that was going to be a long term career - funny how things end up) and joining DiData. There was no single thing that prompted this but after a year at IBM I found that I wasn't particularly challenged or interested in the work I was doing... DD has been interesting in the last 3 months. Definately a shock in terms of culture from IBM, but certainly more fun. No comments about long term careers this time. I've learnt my lesson.

Been haning out with friends a lot and having a good time. Some of them got married! Others hooked up (yay for them!) and others chugged along as before... Went to a lot of gigs, including Splendour, got crazy fanatical about Serenity and Sin City... Became Web 2.0 compliant. :) Won an Oztag Premiership. Family wise I got a new nephew this year.. my old man decided to retire and take up golf/fishing/bridge full time..

That about wraps it up... Nothing as exiting as a trip to Europe, I guess, but there are plans in the wings. Plans I tells ya!