a little east of reality

Thursday, January 31, 2008

aussie aussie aussie, oy oy oy!

I was surprised to look back over the blog and realise that I haven't ever done an Australia Day post. Shocking behaviour for a patriotic Aussie such as myself. I spent this Australia Day, not at a barbeque (more's the pity) but at the cinema escaping the heat of the day.

Anyway, belated though it may be, I'm posting for your amusement the four (so far) Sam Kekovich 'Eat Lamb on Australia Day' messages. I also thought this public service announcement was amusing.

Australia Day 2005 (the original and best)

Australia Day 2006

Australia Day 2007

2008 will make more sense if you watch this first.

Australia Day 2008

Happy Australia Day all!

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

if you've noticed i've been awol...

I just went home for a week. I enacted my plan of not getting in touch with the friends I usually spend all my time with when I'm there. Instead I saw half a dozen other friends that I haven't caught up with in years. Good plan. I also spent a lot more time with my folks.

Great week!

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008


I'm still reeling from the news that Heath Ledger is dead. There was a moment there where I kept thinking, 'that can't be true...how can that be true?', but then it kind of sunk in that no-one was going to come back and say the story was wrong: he really is dead...at 28, with a daughter so young she will hardly remember him. It's just sad.

Kat: You know, you can't just buy me a guitar every time you mess up.
Patrick: I know, but there's also drums, bass, and maybe someday a tambourine.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

who's stupid now?

Don't ask me how I did it, but I managed to delete the feed for Jimmy's blog 'The StupidSheet' from my Bloglines notifier. It wasn't until I read his recent comment that I realised that it had been a long time between posts for him. Of course it hadn't ~ I just didn't know he'd posted because Bloglines was no longer notifying me.

I used the Bloglines list as a guide to updating the list on my sidebar, which means he also got left off the blogroll! And I do so like reading Jimmy's commentary and stories. I mean, the last post is about gridiron (yawn) so take no notice of that one (j/k), but he also got bitten by a dog a few days ago, and it sounds like the owner's bark was worse than the dog's bite!

Sorry, Jimmy! If you check the sidebar you're back where you belong. :)


Monday, January 21, 2008

long time, no meme

A rather random meme, borrowed from Shebem, that I felt like sharing:

1. If you could build a house anywhere, where would it be?
Sydney (though I'd love to keep an apartment in Osaka as well.)

2. What’s your favorite article of clothing? My Doc Martens. I also have a purple t-shirt that I love.

3. Favorite physical feature of the opposite sex?
Hands/forearms, lips, lats

4. What’s the last DVD you bought?
Singles 2nd Ward (not as good as the original, as the reprised characters kind of became caricatures instead, whether because of the acting or the writing or the direction I can't decide). Last one I was given: Pulp Fiction (10th Anniversary Edition...best Secret Santa present ever!) Last one I won: Paris j'taime.

5. Where’s your favorite place to be?
Near the ocean or seeing a live band.

6. Where is your least favorite place to be?
Waiting in line (bus stop, bank, supermarket check out). Drives me mad. Barely tolerable even if I remember my mp3 player.

7. Where’s your favorite place to be massaged?
On the couch. (Hardy har har.) Neck, shoulders...lots of tension there.

8. Strong in mind or strong in body?
Both are good, but strong in mind is more important.

9. What time do you wake up in the morning?
Mostly early, 6:30 - 7am.

10. What is your favorite kitchen appliance?
Snow cone maker. The sandwich press thingie that flattens everything is also cool.

11. What makes you really angry?
Emotional manipulation.

12. If you could play any instrument at all, what would it be?
Electric guitar. I was going to say rock drums, but guitar beats out because it's easier to write songs if you play guitar.

13. Which do you prefer… sports car or SUV?
Neither. One is pretentious and usually has a lack of interior space, and the other (while nice to drive) is environmentally selfish.

14. Do you believe in an afterlife?
Yes. And a pre-life. And life.

15. What is your favorite season?
Autumn, for the colours and the windy weather.

16. What is your least favorite household chore?
Vaccuuming. Always has been.

17. If you could have one super power, what would it be?
An affinity with animals, to understand them and be able to interact with wild animals safely.

18. If you have a tattoo, what is it?
I don't, but if I got one (unlikely) it would be a dragonfly.

19. Can you juggle?
No, but I've wanted to learn for some time now.

20. The one person from your past you wish you could go back and talk to?
My grandfather. He was white, but grew up from the time he was three in a black family. He loved and respected that family, and took his children to Trinidad every year to visit them, yet he forbid his children to play with the black children in their neighbourhood. They were the only white family on a street of black families (which at the time in Barbados ~ 1930s/1940s ~ meant you were poor) and the island is 95% black, but he stuck to this rule until they were adults.

All of this makes me realise that he must have been a very conflicted man with a lot of leftover issues from his childhood. I wish I had questioned him more deeply about these things and understood him better. We had a fairly good relationship and my aunt told me once that she wishes I'd asked him, too, because he might have opened up and told me, where he would never have discussed this kind of thing with her or his other children. Certainly my mother could never discuss anything probing or personal with him.

21. What’s your favorite day?
Of the week? Tuesday. It means Monday, which usually sucks, is over, and there are cheap movie deals.

22. Which do you prefer, sushi or hamburger?
Hamburger, though I like sushi.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

some days are diamond

Some days are stone. Today: diamond! I'm sorry that should have been...


I've been following Minerva's blog for a while now. She's been dealing with cancer for a long time and on Friday she found out the results of her latest CT scan.
I am crying with relief as I write this. I do not have cancer, but I have a future with my children, I have a career, I have a life.
It really isn't that long ago that she was writing about preparing things for her daughters in case things didn't pan out the way she (and everyone) hoped. Now suddenly there is finally good news and some opportunities that she wasn't sure would come her way have become possibilities again. It's just huge and I hope she enjoys every moment of it.


Saturday, January 19, 2008

spending the future

A post from Hazzard introduced me to a useful rule-of-thumb theory (from Money Magazine) on the future value of money. If you multiply the cost of a purchase by ten, you have the approximate amount by which the money you'll have for retirement is reduced, thanks to that purchase. In other words, if I spend $70 on a pair of shoes, I'm reducing my retirement savings by $700. I guess that's worth it if you really need the shoes, but it's certainly a sobering thought if it's the fifth or sixth pair of shoes you're buying that year.

The calculation is accurate for someone 30 years off retirement and whose savings/investment yields an average of 8% per annum over that time. With other circumstances the final amount will change, but the general principle is the same: when you buy stuff you're not just giving up the cost of the item, but also the interest (and the interest on the interest) that money could have earned you over time.

Think of all those people trying so hard to build up their 401k and yet having Starbucks two or three times a day. If only they knew they were sucking away at their retirement $40 a pop, for something they could have made themselves for a fraction of the cost (and a fraction of the suckage).

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

the ten most puzzling ancient artifacts

Over time a range of ancient artifacts have been found that cannot be definitively explained. In some cases the origin or use is unknown. In other cases what is found has a recognisable use, uses a known technology, or tells a familiar story, but is dated at an age in which these things are not supposed to have existed. Here are a couple of examples of this type of puzzling artifact, taken from this webpage (which describes all of the ten most puzzling ancient artifacts) :

The Dropa Stones

In 1938, an archeological expedition led by Dr. Chi Pu Tei into the Baian-Kara-Ula mountains of China made an astonishing discovery in some caves that had apparently been occupied by some ancient culture. Buried in the dust of ages on the cave floor were hundreds of stone disks. Measuring about nine inches in diameter, each had a circle cut into the center and was etched with a spiral groove, making it look for all the world like some ancient phonograph record some 10,000 to 12,000 years old. The spiral groove, it turns out, is actually composed of tiny hieroglyphics that tell the incredible story of spaceships from some distant world that crash-landed in the mountains. The ships were piloted by people who called themselves the Dropa, and the remains of whose descendents, possibly, were found in the cave.

Ancient Model Aircraft

There are artifacts belonging to ancient Egyptian and Central American cultures that look amazingly like modern-day aircraft. The Egyptian artifact, found in a tomb at Saqquara, Egypt in 1898, is a six-inch wooden object that strongly resembles a model airplane, with fuselage, wings and tail. Experts believe the object is so aerodynamic that it is actually able to glide. The small object discovered in Central America (shown at right), and estimated to be 1,000 years old, is made of gold and could easily be mistaken for a model of a delta-wing aircraft - or even the Space Shuttle. It even features what looks like a pilot's seat.

The questions artifacts like this prompt are so interesting, I'm kind of amazed that I hadn't heard of any of these artifacts before. I mean, people will ramble on about Area 51 for hours, when the Dropa Stones, if authentic (and I haven't read anything suggesting they aren't) are a much more interesting evidence of aliens possibly having visited Earth. Even more intriguing since 1995, when a tribe of people calling themselves Dropa, who fit genetically into no previously identified Earth race, was found in a remote area located in the mountains between China and Tibet. They are a pigmy race (mostly around 2.5 - 3ft tall), which is consistent with the skeletons found in the same caves as the stones (they were a little taller, but inbreeding over time might have made the feature more prevalent).

The detail described in the account of the ancient model aircraft makes me wonder whether ancient civilisations did have technologies we think of as only being developed in relatively modern times. It also makes me wonder how they might have utilised those technologies in ways that are different to the way more recent civilisations did, and what might have happened that the technologies were so completely lost. I suppose one factor is the relative isolation in which they lived, where technologies may not have spread because one civilisation was not necessarily aware of another.

I do rather like the theory that our Earth, rather than being made from nothing as some Creationists believe, was made from existing matter. If that matter was used previously for other creations, then that could explain things like fossils and dinosaur bones, coal and other mineral deposits, even if the Earth was not as old as we thought. However, I don't think this theory is so plausible for most of the kind of artifacts described, though it could explain the spark plug type object in the ancient rock. But regardless, it would still point to their being other peoples and civilisations out there in space. And, you know, God and stuff. :)

Alternatively it might all just mean that our carbon-dating processes are useless.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

just once...

I want to come home on a Tuesday night and find that someone else has put the bins out.

Just once, yo!

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Monday, January 14, 2008

dum dum dumdum dum

dumdum dum dum dum DUMB!

This week a kid in Melbourne decided to throw a party while his folks were out of town (they didn't leave him home alone - they'd arranged for him to stay with a friend, but he used the empty house for the party). So far that's just normal teenage tomfoolery, right? Now add the fact that there was going to be a heap of underage drinking. Recipe for disaster, but still within the normal stupidity range, right? But here comes the kicker. Then the guy decides to put the invite on his mySpace and, you guessed it, this is not a 'friends only' page we're talking about. FIVE HUNDRED people turned up to his house.


Ian's written a good post about the fallout of that decision, complete with a photo of this kid as he was interviewed after the party, half naked with a pink doona wrapped around him. And this link has a little video interview ~ he's such a bogan!

The police are considering making him pay the $20,000 the callout cost. Why so high? Well, that's what happens when 30 cops, a helicopter and a dog squad come to your party and drunk teenagers pelt bottles at police cars. Hmmm. I try to work up a little sympathy for him, but he hasn't shown any remorse at all, saying that he doesn't see how he's to blame for the damage done to the neighbourhood by his party guests.
When asked by the Nine Network what advice he had for other teenagers considering throwing a party while mum and dad are away, he said: "Get me to do it for you.

"Best party ever, that's what everyone's saying.''
I wonder if $20,000 worth of community service would change his mind...

For me the most angering comment came from Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, an author of books on adolescent psychology:
"I really do hope police do send the bill to the parents because it is appropriate,'' [he]...said.

"To blame poor old Corey is a little bit unfair. I think he is a normal, 16-year-old kid.

"This is absolutely a parental responsibility.''
His parents arranged a place for him to stay, and the only reason he was left behind was because he had gotten a part-time job and would have had to miss work. They, unlike him, are horrified at his behaviour and he is so aware of how they will view this that he still has not answered any of the many, many calls they've made to him. But somehow "Dr" Carr-Gregg thinks THEY warrant the 20G bill for all this. And this guy talks about teenagers on TV. O_O?? Madness.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

true confessions of a lonely girl

This entry to Post Secret this week touched a nerve with me. I often feel this way ~ not about everything, but about some of the most important things. Acknowledging that you want things is hard because it puts you out there, makes you vulnerable. Or feel vulnerable at any rate. And gosh, don't we just hate feeling vulnerable?

This postcard could be referring to any kind of want, but it did make me think specifically of love. Maybe that's not a surprise to anyone. Maybe it made you think of love, too. At least if, like me, you're single and wish it wasn't so. Confessing this is hard enough even when we have some confidence that what we want is coming our way. There's just something about saying it out loud that feels like you're tempting Fate and dooming yourself.

But it's even harder when you don't have that confidence. I still have high hopes of getting a novel published one day. I think I still have a ways to go in my career. That I want those things is easy to admit because I see them as possible. But the idea that I am going to find someone to love, who loves me, seems more and more unlikely with each passing year, and consequently it gets harder and harder to admit that I even want that. I certainly do if asked directly ~ I'm not going to lie about it ~ but there are very few situations (ironically including an occasional blog post :) ) in which I would volunteer the information.

I think the core reason for this is that I hate the feeling that I'm giving people some kind of free pass to feel sorry for me if my wishes don't materialise. I hate that I feel that. I think there are people who will see me as a failure if I never get married (whether or not they ever say it to my face) no matter what else I might achieve. It irks me that there is a part of me that will agree with them, even though all the other parts will be scowling and thinking how illogical it is to judge personal success that way...long years of conditioning I suspect.

It's funny. I wanted to simply end this post by saying, 'So yes, I want to find someone to love, who loves me, too". Yet my fingers hovered above the keys for a couple of minutes before I typed it. Which is kind of the point.

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

ohhh, so this is why people hate having teenagers

Oh, how I miss my apartment in Osaka. Sure, it was the size of a large matchbox. And yeah, I had to store my bed in a cupboard each day. But that apartment had one fantastic attraction that my current unit just can't offer.

I lived there alone. My current boarder is 20, but he might as well be 15. His friends are all still teenagers and they are often around here playing video games or watching movies. I am soooooo sick of people who:
  • won't put lids back on containers properly
  • won't put things they use away
  • leaves dishes on the counter,in front of the microwave, on the dining table...pretty much anywhere except the sink
  • will only do housework when specifically asked
  • not only drinks my raspberry cordial but also leave it to stain the counter when they spill it
  • leave their clothes on the bathroom floor
  • puts empty jars and ice trays back into the fridge/freezer
  • are somehow blind to the fact that a recycling bin is overflowing and needs to be emptied, and my stress level's personal favourite
  • occasionally leaves the house unlocked when going out (twice the door was not only unlocked, but open!)
Oh, did I mention he owes me money?

Word to the wise: nice person outside your home
≠ okay to share a house with.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

if i were voting in the us elections

It seems I would be voting for Obama. At least that was the result that came through on my electoral compass. You indicate where you stand on 36 issues and it pinpoints how close your political perspective is to the various candidates currently running. Given that the majority of US LDS support the Republican party (something that never fails to amaze and confuse me), I was a little amused to see how far away on the compass I sit from Mitt Romney, who is both LDS and Republican. Amused, but not surprised. LDS or not, I was already well aware that he and I don't see eye to eye on the issues.

Here's the visual ~ click for a closer look. The point of the little pencil is where I am:

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

today's post is brought to you by the letters 's' and 'u'

After months of procrastinating, I finally updated my sidebar. My blogroll now actually reflects the blogs I read, rather than the ones I was reading a year ago, and my current distractions are actually current. It was a bit scary to realise how many blogs I read regularly, but it did explain why I've become more of a lurker in the last few months. I enjoy commenting, though, so I'll try to do more of that.

Most of the newly added distractions are cool things I found while using Stumble Upon. SU was in amongst some Firefox add-ons I was browsing, but I've since found it's available for IE, too. You initially select some areas of interest and each time it chooses a random page from those areas you have the opportunity to click (on the toolbar) that you like it or not. You can also click that you like any page you happen to be browsing and if it's new to the SU system it will add it in. The more people who vote for a page, the more likely it is to come up when people click the 'stumble' button on the toolbar. As you go along, it gets more of an idea of the type of pages you enjoy. At the moment I like probably three quarters of what it shows me, and find something really interesting about one in six clicks.

Earth Album is a Google Maps & Flickr mash-up where the top eight photos on Flickr for a particular country are shown when you click on that country on the map. Of course I picked Japan first and the photos were great (two pictured here are Shibuya crossing at night and a Tokyo girl), but then I went more random and found the two photos below of the boys in the sand and some unusual trees, from Madagascar.

Songza is a search engine for songs and jukebox rolled into one. It remembers your playlist automatically and the interface is very simple to use. A current top ten also sits on the page and I have used that a few times to check out artists that I haven't heard before. If I want to hear a whole album I'd just find it in my music folder, but what I love Songza for is those moment where a song pops into your head and you want to listen to that one song without having to go searching through your music collection. Sometimes Keyboard Kid will tell me about some random song he discovered this week and I can find it in about ten seconds on Songza, and play it right then to see what he's talking about. Quicker even than him finding it on his iPod and I don't have to stop and put his earphones on to hear it.

One SU toolbar feature I've made a lot of use of is the option to email a page link to myself (or other people). It can be used for any page, not just ones that I've stumbled. In the past I've cluttered up my bookmarks with pages I found but didn't have time to look at properly. Now those pages end up in the stumble folder in my email and I can browse through them when I have time. And if I never get time it's just an email to delete, rather than a bookmark I have to cull at some point (more trouble). I think it's going to make it easier to keep my bookmarks relevent and few, which is just how I like them. And it's quicker than opening gmail to send myself a link.

Anyway, hope you enjoy the distractions as much as I have. My SU blog (just super short reviews of pages I really liked) is here. I've clicked lots of pages I like; the blog is a way to indicate my real favourites.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

does any good news ever come out of china?

I hate that we still live in a world where a person can be arrested and detained indefinitely for telling the truth ~ particularly for telling the truth about their government ~ for trying to make the world a better or kinder place, or just for having a contrary opinion. Hu Jia is the kind of person this world needs more of. His government disagrees. Now his wife is under house arrest with a young baby while he is locked up following a blog entry they didn't like. It makes me mad.

And I know these things happen in many countries, but what's up with China in general. I'm dismayed by how many stories of injustice, cruelty and screwed up thinking come out of China. It makes me feel ill when various students who stay with me tell me about their normal life in China (a life that would grind me into the ground) and it doesn't seem to get any better when you join the workforce.

I know Chinese people I like, but every one of them that was born there is glad to be somewhere else. Even if they love their country they don't love its government. Some are working very hard to qualify for citizenship so they never have to go back. The way the Chinese government abuses their natural environment is second only to the way they abuse their citizens. I used to think that it would be wonderful to travel to China, but lately the idea holds no appeal. I think going there would make me feel frustrated and depressed.

I sometimes think that if China disappeared off the globe tomorrow, the only thing I would miss is their takeout.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

for anyone still struggling to come up with a new year's resolution

As borrowed from Crib Ceiling:

I hope Tim Minchin comes to this year's Melbourne Comedy Festival.

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Monday, January 07, 2008

why i will never be on facebook

200,000 or so people join Facebook every day. Here's why I won't be one of them.

An interesting flash presentation on the subject of Facebook and the way they treat user information.

By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing.
Basically, you are giving them the right to publish anything that you publish on Facebook, and not merely in its original form. Note that this appears in the Terms of Service, not the Privacy Policy, even though it specifically pertains to privacy and the use of your information.

Facebook may also collect information about you from other sources, such as newspapers, blogs, instant messaging services, and other users of the Facebook service through the operation of the service (e.g., photo tags) in order to provide you with more useful information and a more personalized experience.
I hate this in particular. Firstly, while I'm aware that whatever I put on the internet can be found by someone else, a site which gathers all of the seperate pieces of information I may post on very disparate sites and puts them all in one profile is giving people a much more complete picture of me and my life than they would otherwise have had. When this starts to include where I shop and what I buy there, it becomes even more intrusive. If that is going to happen, shouldn't it be a choice I deliberately opted-into, rather than one I have to opt-out of site-by-site? But Facebook doesn't want to offer that option, in spite of user feedback demanding it. Secondly, they are also including non-electronic sources such as newspapers. WTF?

From a Nov 30, 2007 article on Facebook's Beacon online ad system:

A CA security researcher [Stefan Berteau, senior research engineer at CA's Threat Research Group] is sounding the alarm that Facebook's controversial Beacon online ad system goes much further than anyone has imagined in tracking people's Web activities outside the popular social networking site...

Beacon tracks certain activities of Facebook users on more than 40 participating Web sites, including those of Blockbuster and Fandango, and reports those activities to the users' set of Facebook friends, unless told not to do so. Off-Facebook activities that can be broadcast to one's Facebook friends include purchasing a product, signing up for a service and including an item on a wish list...

But Berteau's investigation reveals that Beacon is more intrusive and stealthy than anyone had imagined.

In his note, titled "Facebook's Misrepresentation of Beacon's Threat to Privacy: Tracking users who opt out or are not logged in," he explains that he created an account on Conde Nast's food site Epicurious.com, a site participating in Beacon, and saved three recipes as favorites.
He saved the first recipe while logged in to Facebook, and he opted out of having it broadcast to his friends on Facebook. He saved the second recipe after closing the Facebook window, but without logging off from Epicurious or ending the browser session, and again declined broadcasting it to his friends. Then he logged out of Facebook and saved the third recipe. This time, no Facebook alert appeared asking if he wanted the information displayed to his friends.

After checking his network traffic logs, Berteau saw that in all three cases, information about his activities was reported back to Facebook, although not to his friends. That information included where he was on Epicurious, the action he had just taken and his Facebook account name.

"The first two cases involve the transmission of user data despite 'No thanks' having been selected on the opt-out dialog, and are causes for deep concern. They pale, however, in comparison to the third case, where Facebook was receiving data about my online habits while I was not logged in, and was doing so silently without even alerting me to the cross-site communication," he wrote in the research note.

If a user has ever checked the option for Facebook to "remember me" -- which saves the user from having to log on to the site upon every return to it -- Facebook can tie his activities on third-party Beacon sites directly to him, even if he's logged off and has opted out of the broadcast. If he has never chosen this option, the information still flows back to Facebook, although without it being tied to his Facebook ID, according to Berteau....He repeated the Epicurious experiment with Kongregate.com, another Beacon-affiliated site, and got similar results.

In e-mail correspondence with Facebook's privacy department, Berteau was told, among other things, that "as long as you are logged out of Facebook, no actions you have taken on other websites can be sent to Facebook." [Obviously a lie, given his test results.]

Some good news to finish with:
  • If you happen to be a Firefox or Opera user, it's possible for you to block Facebook Beacon traffic to and from partner sites.
    If you use Firefox, install the AdBlock Plus add-on and add the following URL: http://*.facebook.com/beacon/*.

  • If you use Opera, go to Tools Advanced Blocked Content and add the same URL there.
If you use Internet Explorer, and plan to use Facebook, you're out of luck. IE will change the URL to simply *.facebook.com, which effectively blocks all active content from the site. Which isn't a bad thing for those of us who don't use Facebook, but would be an issue for those who want to use it within IE.

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

keep your parents off the net

A funny guide to keeping your parents off the net.

When the dad mentioned "the little cord that connects the TV to the typewriter" I nearly snorted lemon lime cordial all over my keyboard.

Note: 'a little east of reality' in no way endorses the use of "interesting, exciting, obscene" websites. ^_^

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Saturday, January 05, 2008

oh shingo

Your efforts in drag have come a long way...

But nothing will ever top this:

I couldn't find this with subtitles, but there's a lot you can tell just from watching (eg the conversation they have about how Shingo looks so much bigger than Tsuyoshi and Koichi even though they are sitting equal distances from the camera). The game where they are lined up is one every female guest on the show gets to play, where they "secretly" choose the guy they like the best on the show and then say why. As Shingo Mama (the character) is a woman, "she" gets to play. The funniest thing about this clip for me is the fact that no-one else has ever made Gackt break out of his uber cool glare and smile so many times in one show. And with such a simple device. Fantastic.

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daniel johns: a lot going on inside

Speaking of Daniel Johns, I found this interview with him on Youtube. It's from Enough Rope, an interview show hosted by Andrew Denton, easily the best interviewer in Australia. They cover his fame at a very young age and the way his inability to deal with the expectations and pressure (and violence in some cases) led to some really serious illnesses (anorexia, reactive arthritis, etc).

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

I found it interesting the way he talked about the album Diorama and making a deliberate decision to write and perform more positive music. He got to a point in the early days where he hated his own music, and given that he describes music as "the only religion that makes sense" to him, that's a dark place to be. I think he enjoyed the creative process, but hated the attention and pressure releasing the music created. In the interview it seems like he can talk about all of this now because he's just in a completely different mindset to before, and finally happy. Even if you're not a Silverchair/Dissociatives fan, it's an interesting interview.

This interview on Rove (another interviewer I love) was done right after Diorama was released when he was dealing with the arthritis. The quality is pretty crap, but it's a funny interview and interesting. Plus you get to see him with long pirate hair (I'm a big fan of long hair on guys, if it suits them).

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Friday, January 04, 2008

in the rock, scissors, paper of love...

career beats romance, yet again...

Daniel Johns and Natalie Imbruglia ~ my favourite entertainment couple ~ have announced that their four-year marriage is over. I can't say I'm all that surprised: when you live most the time on the other side of the world to your spouse, you're kind of asking to grow apart, no? But I still remember Johns telling Juice magazine:
"I can't believe how scary it was to have found your soulmate at 21."
And I loved them together, and I wanted them to last forever. I guess so did they.
"This mutual decision has not been taken lightly or quickly," the pair said in a joint statement.
"However, our career demands and our lives in different parts of the world have brought us to the point where unfortunately this difficult decision was necessary for both of us.
"We have simply grown apart through not being able to spend enough time together."
Here's a little video I found on Youtube. The song is Natalie's "Only You".

If anyone hears any bad news about Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgewick, just keep it to yourself. I'm already in mourning.

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

weather or not

We finally hit deep summer a few days ago and although the next few days will be cloudy/rainy (thunderstorms forecast for Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday!!) the burst of heat was enough reason for me to get my ice crusher out. Fill half a tall glass with crushed ice, four squirts of lemon juice, two of lime juice, and enough soda water to make it all float to the top.

S.o. .v.e.r.y. .t.h.i.r.s.t. .q.u.e.n.c.h.i.n.g.

I'm glad we're getting more rain though, and the storms will break any heat that's left by then. In Adelaide (my hometown) Summer not only brings the scorching weather, but it keeps it there for three weeks at a time. That's one nice thing about Canberra; the heat never lasts too long. Of course we pay for that when it's dark at 5pm in the winter, but whatever...that's months away.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

parental responsibility and the internet

Our new Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, has pledged to provide porn-free internet feeds to schools and homes. He wants the Communications and Media Authority to draw up a blacklist of unsuitable websites, which internet service providers will then be required to block to their customers unless they specifically request an uncensored feed.

I think this is a great idea for schools and a very bad idea for households. At school one teacher may be in charge of 40 students at one time. They cannot be expected to watch every student all the time in a computer class, yet the school does have a legal responsibility to control what information children are exposed to in school. The same way that a book of pornography should never make it's way into a school library, so too, a school needs to make some realistic attempt to filter the internet content to which students have access. I also think that limited access to computer labs means that there is less time for children to be using the net unsupervised or for those who know how to hack through filters.

Households are a different matter. It is a parent's responsibility to know and control (certainly within their own home) what their children read and view. They might use filtering programs themselves, but shouldn't be relying on them. It is also their responsibility to teach their children about internet predators the same way that they teach them stranger danger before they let them walk to school on their own. Internet dangers are a reality of our life and the government can't solve all our woes. In fact, I agree with this morning's Sydney Morning Herald editorial that trying to filter out all objectionable material will simply give parents a false sense of security that their parental responsibilities to ensure that their children are not viewing objectionable material on the net have been taken over by a body with the power to ensure that nothing gets through.

The problem with a blacklist is that websites are easily created to replace those on it, creating a constant battle to keep the list accurately updated. Also while the most objectionable material might be blocked, such a filter lets through a lot of other kinds of pornograghy (eg showing acts that are legal between consenting adults in this country, suggestive online dating advertisements, and other content not suitable for children. Parents relying on government blocking (or net nanny programs for that matter) are just fooling themselves. They would be much better off following more practical rules for children's net usage, such as keeping the internet connection in a public area of the house (computers in child's own room don't have to be connected to the net) and monitoring kids' email (thinking particularly of young kids here). I heard about a guy who unplugs and hides the modem every night so that his teenagers can't access the net during the night. He knows it makes him look untrusting and over-protective, but he doesn't care, because he's more focused on the way the internet is being used by people who view teenagers as prey, and he understands that teenagers often think they are more world-savvy than they actually are.

Given that the internet industry has suggested it would take the average tech-savvy young person about two minutes to get around the system Senator Conroy is proposing (the net filter distributed by the Communications and Media Authority last year was defeated by a sixteen year old (Tom Wood, pictured) in about half an hour), I don't think giving parents a false free pass to ignore their children's net usage is realistic or kind to the children in question. Better to spend the money on increased Australian Federal Police resources to pursue child-porn rings and on educating parents about home-based filters and activity monitors.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

~~~happy new year~~~

New Year's is my favourite holiday. I love the sense of renewal, the fresh start. I have no particular reason to think that 2008 will be better than 2007, but I choose to believe so anyway. The new year is always a hopeful thing for me. I hope it is for you, too. Hope for good things, and hope for strength to deal with the difficult things.

Let me quote this wish from Neil Gaiman's blog:
May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't to forget make some art -- write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.
Did I make new year's resolutions, you ask? Sort of. My long term goals haven't changed, so this year I thought I'd make three simple resolutions just for 2008. And they are:
1. read more non-fiction
2. take more photographs
3. make more friends

Actually I made a good start on number three by seeing the new year in at a friend's party, where I met three new people I liked.

Did you make any resolutions?

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