March 31, 2006

Horse 520 - Forza Corsa

The ever-lovely Katja makes mention in her blog about catching a glimpse of the Chevy C2, and then falling in love with it. Also spying the Corsa also by Chevrolet and lamenting the fact that they simply do not appear on American roads.
Australian readers will recognise the Chevy C2 as the Holden Barina SB which was sold here between 1993 and 2001, whilst the Corsa as the Holden Barina XC between 2001 and 2005.
For the remainder of this, I'm going to refer to the Corsa under all its nameplates (Holden Barina, Chevrolet C2, Chevrolet Corsa, Vauxhall Corsa, Opel Corsa) as the Corsa because if I've learnt anything over the past 20 years about naming cars, badge engineering is downright confusing.

When the Vauxhall Chevette had grown too big after 10 years, Vauxhall needed a car to aim against Ford's replacement for the Escort, the Fiesta. So they basically entered an agreement which still exists to share development with Opel (also a GM company) for their entire range of cars. Opel already had a 1.4L car in the Corsa, so naturally Vauxhall took that and under the name of the Vauxhall Nova the car like it had in Germany become the choice of boy racers and more recently as the originals are reaching their life's end, becoming the favourite of chavs.
Holden had been using Suzuki's Swift for about 6 years, but when Suzuki faded in a banking crisis, Holden continued their Barina nameplate and threw it onto the Corsa. Since 1983 there have been only 3 models (funnily enough referred to as Corsa 1, Corsa 2 and Corsa 3) and they've pretty well much been a mainstay of GM's lineup as petrol prices and taxes have increased.

I drove a Corsa 3 in England in 2004 because there were no Kas in the hire car lot. So what did I find exactly? Well I found this photo for a start... er, read on ^_^

Like the Astra and the Vectra, the ergonomics are fantastic. Opel learnt something with their Rekord in the late 70s and have remained true to those dimensions ever since. People often critisise GM for producing boring cars, but when you keep in mind how easy they are to drive in traffic when most people are brain dead, this is a virtue not a minus.

Styling wise I always liked the fine treatment that Vauxhall gives their cars. Chevrolet and Holden always get the Opel inserts but Vauxhall always tries to incorporate their little flying V in chrome on the front. The 04 reg Corsa I had even had the incoming 2005 front bumper with the corner chin vents.

Inside the Corsa looks like any other Opel. The Blaupunkt radio is this great grey slab in the centre of the console with the display in orange LCD embedded into the front parcel shelf. This was the first time I'd ever seen digital radio in a car and to be honest, it looked practically identical to a regular AM/FM radio with RDS*. Noticeably the buttons were also boring and grey which if nothing shows German efficiency.
The 3 door Corsa unlike the Fiesta and even the 3 door Golf and Polo has fixed rear windows. On hot days in Australia this can be rather annoying as the people in the back swelter; but the 5 door has wind-down windows.

The Corsa is a fun little car to drive and is equal to the Fiesta in every regard. I probably would have bought one if the Ka wasn't so cute, because they've had 23 years to iron out the problems with Corsa and by now you could practically drive them for half a million miles save for cancer (rust) in the bodywork.

The Corsa is certainly worth at least 3 stars and possibly a hurrah.

March 30, 2006

Horse 519 - I Blame Both Parties

I direct you to your Sydney Morning Herald for today the 30th March 2006.

On page 6 of the newspaper, the Australian Government (ie the federal govt) has taken out a full page advert slagging off the NSW State Govt for not honouring the 1999 agreement on double taxation with respect to things like Stamp Duty.

On page 9 of the newspaper, the NSW State Government has taken out a full page advert slagging off the Australian Commonwealth Government for not dividing the GST revenue it's collected fairly bewteen the states. It accuses the Federal Govt of ripping off the people of NSW to the tune of A$3bn that never returns to NSW.

Elsewhere in the newspaper we are told the the OECD figures release mean that the people of Australia are the third most taxed nation on the planet. That is we pay more in income tax, consumption tax and other levies than everyone else in the world except Denmark and Norway.

Now I don't know about you but the fact that our Federal Highways are in disrepair, our trains, hospitals, public schools, police service (at both Federal and State) levels don't work points to gross mismanagement on the part of both the State and Federal Governments. Let me just point out here that we have a state Labor government and a federal Liberal government so basically this incompotence draws right across party lines.

Quite frankly two full page adverts taken out on the same day shows blatent disregard for the people who put the politicians there when a simple phone call should have sufficed.

Labor, Liberal, State, Federal - we're governed by excrement and at risk of pointing fingers at anyone lest I accidentally touch any of the crud, anyone who voted for any political party over the last 5 years I now hold directly responsible.

Australia - you actually VOTED for this scum - SUFFER!!

March 29, 2006

Horse 518 - Turnstile World

Some of my friends from back in high school are in town this week and it's amazing at the differences 8 years makes. Among which is the fact that they're married with a pair of 6 year old twin boys - what happened there?!

Anyway (and the point of this post) is that kids are amused by things that grown up wouldn't understand. People will go to a city to see the sights, and although a trip on the ferry across the harbour, going across the Harbour Bridge, seeing the Opera House, going to the zoo, are all fun things, you know what the kids were most amused by? The keycard to get into the hotel room.

Suddenly they had all this power that they've never had before. Watching the little light go from red to green meant that they had control over something. Then there was the little safe in the room that big people put their wallets and keys into when housekeeping come around. I guarantee that half the room must have ended up in that safe.

Then inside the hotel lobby there's a big revolving door. Whilst we were having coffee (that wasn't very good I must say) they were going around and around and around with the door for what must have been 20 minutes.

What about the travellators in a shopping centre? How fun are they? I must confess to just last week going down an up escalator at Martin Place Railway Station and I'm only 28 next birthday.
Maybe there should be a theme park called Turnstile World where kids can push buttons and ride escalators and go around doors all day long. Then again maybe not...

March 26, 2006

Horse 517 - Red vs Blue

When you stop and think about there really are lot of things in our lives in which red and blue are in competition. No doubt the folks in Liverpool this weekend aren't talking any more (for a couple of days), with the 203rd local derby of Liverpool and Everton. Liverpool won 3-1 this time, so the red half of the city will be joyous whilst the blue half will be in quiet grumpyness. You can even see it on the doors of the city. Rows and rows of terraced houses with either red or blue doors indicating which colour of the divide the household sits on.

In Adelaide over the weekend we had the running of the V8 Supercars. The two camps of Holden and Ford are none other than Team Red and the Blue Oval. The General's red army and the red barons vs Captain Invicible's blue falcons.

Even when a child is born there is a rivalry over colour. Girls get dressed in pink which is just another way of saying pastel red, whilst boys get blue.

When I was a kid there was a claymation telly program called The Red and The Blue. The Red was a big red blob of clay and The Blue was a little blue one. For some reason I think that they spoke Polish but I only know like one word in Polish which is Usta which isn't useful in conversation except that it's the word for lip.

Even lips can be described as red and blue. While a pair of red lips might be quite nice to look at on a lady, you'd feel sorry for the same lady with blue lips because this would mean that she'd be quite cold.
Speaking of that the hot and cold taps are usually denoted by a red and a blue marker to tell you which one is which.

In our own bodies there is both red and blue blood. Red blood is full of oxygen and useful while blue blood is drained and must be sent back to the lungs for replenishment. This makes me wonder about the phrase being blue blooded. I usuallly have connotations of the deep South whenever someone mentions this and of dames and mustachioed people like Yosemite Sam.

Red cordial sens kids hyper but I would ever give children blue something to drink because the only blue liquid I know of is kerosine and that's not yummy at all... actually, I might give it to nasty horrible kids.

March 24, 2006

iFive - 24th Mar

Sitting watch Wenty Uniting playing football last weekend, I was comparing stuff on the iPod with Tim Markham. His 30GB Video iPod had far less songs on it, and I seemed to have most of them covered. A thought struck me about a video iPod - the video function would be virtually useless in my life.
I use my iPod mainly whilst walking or driving in the car. While walking it sits in my back pocket, and when driving it's on the floor. In neither place would I have the ability to watch the screen. If I was watching a DVD, then I'd do so on the player at home with a proper television. I can see the benefit for travellers on the train but that's about it.

Also, the chap who's been through the desert on a horse with no name - what happens if he loses the horse? How does he call it back again? I wonder.

1. A Horse With No Name - America
2. A Song of Patriotic Predjudice - Flanders & Swann
3. It Won't Be Long - The Beatles
4. Keep It Gay - The Producers
5. Club Cyberia - Serial Experiments Lain

March 22, 2006

Horse 516 - Stuck In A Hole

Come with me on a thought exercise. I have something to say to a few people here - I intend to say it to all of them using allegory.

You're walking along a road when suddenly you fall down. In most circumstances it would be a simple case of picking yourself up, dusting yourself off and continuing the journey. Sure you might be a little bit dusty and dirty and it might even hurt a bit, but you're able to go on fairly well.

Now suppose you're walking along and trying to be careful where you're walking. Because you're looking down at your feet, you walk headlong into a lamppost. Again it hurts (quite a bit more than simply falling over) but no real damage is done except for the loss of pride and you're able to go on. Sure you might feel a bit silly for walking into the lamppost but if you want to get to your destination, you get nowhere by standing still.

In part three you're walking along the pavement in a fog. You can't see what lies ahead but you can hear your friends further up the street so you head towards them. Because it's so foggy you don't happen to see a big hole in the road from where they're installing some new stormwater pipes and you fall in. It's a big hole and you can't climb out.

Unlike the first two scenarios, you can't actually do anything for yourself to get out. If you get up, you'll still be at the bottom of the hole. The phrase "lift yourself up by your bootstraps" is by all accounts useless, since no-one by any effort can lift themselves from their bootstraps even one inch into the air let alone out of a 6ft hole.
No, the only way to get out of the hole is to call out to your friends. Even if they do hear you and find you in the hole, the only way that they'll ever get you out is to give them your hands and let them pull you out.

Whatever the case, the people who could help you out of the hole certainly won't help you unless you ask them AND reach your hands out to them. You could remain silent and not cause a disturbance but you'd still be in the hole and that's just stupid isn't it?

If you are in a hole, call out. It's not silly to ask for help but it is stupid to be stuck in a hole if other people could help you out.

Here ends the allegory.

Are you still stuck in the hole?

March 20, 2006

Horse 515 - Happy Peeps

I'm fiddling with proprietary settings on the scanner at work because it's pretty well similar to the one at home and I've decided that the best way to attack which settings work the best is purely on a hit-and-miss basis. I figure that part of the skill in using the medium is to be trained by the medium to a degree; painters will have at least a feel of how paint works on a canvas and sculptors can actually feel what works with their raw materials, so this by my mind is only fair.

When actually drawing things, I worked out that it might be best to step away from the brink to a degree. I could render things so that they look brilliant on paper, but then when it's time to scan them in, all I get is undefined dark patches. Sam and Fuzzy has a guide on their website and it's a reasonable discourse on both the advantages and limitations of a pure black/white system. I could of course draw the whole thing on a drawing tablet, but this would mean that I would need to buy one of them and although the results do look more polished, I don't think that they necessarily retain a sense of grit - I don't know, things on a drawing table just don't feel organic.

So then, these three doodles were more an exercise in not what I could add but what I could take away from a drawing. Could I convey coyness? How about being smug? What about just being generally happy? I think I achieved something by taking stuff away.

Also, there's an interesting habit that's crept in. I don't know why but of the last 60 or so scribbles I've made in my little notebook (made from the same 120gsm paper as a process diary), people are inheriting little antennae in their hair. I can't explain this, but something about it makes me feel a little bit more satisfied to see the odd errant hair lazily and defiantly standing proud for no reason.

Mind you to produce just these three, I've probably scribbled about 100 odd faces/hands/eyes.

Wastebin full of paper,
Clever rhymes, see you later.

March 17, 2006

Horse 514 - The Irish Question

If I look at Ireland and especially today, I'm reminded of a great vein of humour, culture and stupidity that runs through it. When Pope John Paul II died, it was the Irish who had Father Dougal Maguire running in bookmaker's charts at 1000-1 of being the next pope, which isn't too bad for a ficitional person who also didn't happen to believe in God. I'm also somewhat disappointed with the nation, who in 1910 had more missionarys than any other nation but just 6 years later while Europe was at war, neutral Ireland decended into civil war which still leaves a bloody mark on the doorposts and bullet holes in the stonemasonry today.

When I was a kid, you'd look in the atlas at a map of the world and wonder why there were several countries with the same name. WEST Germany and EAST Germany were separated by a dismal Iron Curtain that had descended after WW2. NORTH Korea and SOUTH Korea were separated by an equally vexing gap of no man's land because of the Korean War but over in Western Europe; far, far, far over Western Europe, there was something that made no sense.
Ireland, was and still is two countries. The Emerald Isle had this very orange bit on the top. Of the four big Counties of Ireland (being Ulster, Leinster, Munster and Connacht) one was owned by the other "country" of the British Isles - The UK, but not entirely.

It's ironic as the Commonwealth Games are going on, that the only country that shares a border with the UK, isn't part of the Commonwealth so isn't represented at the games. It's also ironic that the UK which seemingly prides itself as a secular state should have a disagreement which often boils over into violence on a matter which has a least some basis in a dispute between Protestants and Catholics.

In 1620 when the Pilgrims left for the New World, they were escaping religious persecution. In 1658 with Cromwell, the English Civil War was fought as result of the same undertones. Even Guy Fawkes in 1605 had a dispute on the subject. Clearly 400 years have taught us nothing, the Irish Question is the same question all along. If you go to Scotland the rivalry is played out (also with violence) when Rangers and Celtic play each other. 400 years of Catholics and Protestants firing weapons at each other is just pointless.
It's a real disappointment to me that the land of green should be split. The Rugby, Hurling and Gaelic Football doesn't seem to have a problem so why should the nation? It does not make sense.

Personally I think that the island should be one country either under the administration of the UK (as Ireland) or as a republic (as Ireland). The idea that there should be a line is as preposterous as the latest Irish Inventions (waterproof teabags, fly-screens on submarines, fireproof matches, inflatable dartboards etc). In short, everyone should - put up, shut up and get on with each other. The Irish deserve their reputation for being stupid if all they want to do is blow each other up.

The spiritual serpants are still in Ireland. St Patrick may may driven them out, but they came back... and continue to bite.

The rottenest bits of these islands of ours,
We've left in the hands of three unfriendly powers,
Examine the Irishman, Welshman or Scot,
You'll find hes a stinker as likely as not.

The Irishman, now, our contempt is beneath,
He sleeps in his boots and he lies in his teeth,
He blows up policemen (or so I have heard),
And blames it on Cromwell and William the Third.

That is not to say that Ireland is all bad. I think of the work of Samuel Beckett and his most famous work Waiting for Godot which is surely one of the best written absurdist tragi-comedies of all time (if not the only absurdist tragi-comedy of all time).What about Eddie Irvine who was the self-proclaimed "second best driver in the world"? Sir Terry Wogan who took up British citizenship for one reason only - to claim the title of Sir. He's been sharing his half-baked view of the world with us on both BBC Radio 1 and Radio 2 now since 1967 and every year gives us his unique commentary on the Eurovision song contest (which Ireland have won 7 times).

There's hope for Ireland as well. Their free education policies 20 years ago have now resulted in Ireland being the world's fourth biggest producer of new computer software.
And then there's the famous River Liffey. The river that flows into the Guinness factory but doesn't flow out again... hmm.

My most lasting memory was an advert at Dublin Airport:
Fly Aer Lingus and you'll never walk again.

March 16, 2006

Horse 513 - Take Off To The Future

Last night Yarra Trams unveiled what it hopes will be the next major mode of transport in Melbourne. Traffic congestion and bizarre road rules with regards hook turns has meant that Melbourne will need to look to the skies in future.

Currently the aging W & P class trams are being fitted with wings but will continue to travel down existing routes. A Yarra Trams spokesman has said that these improvements are beneficial in other ways because it will now be possible to avoid collisions with cars and negate the need for special signals at roundabouts.

Trials at the moment have been unsuccessful however. This rogue tram was caught on camera not going to the MCG at Jolimont but actually landing in the MCG proper. There are also technical questions which need to be addressed such as what happens when a flying tram leaves the power supply. Are commuters going to be left up in the air waiting?

March 15, 2006

Horse 512 - 15 Minutes of Apology and Confusion

I thought that this would take less time than this, but I've run into other sorts of problems. My scanner doesn't seem to have an adequate greyscale function and second to that, the images I'm producing off of scans are monster files. I have literally hundreds of drawings and scribbles done just lying about the place in folders; my litte notebook is full of little sketches and other ideas of halfbakery, but still my computer has trouble processing them.

Estute people should be able to guess where in the world this is, and from where the photograph was originally taken. I actually kind of admire in the original ink and pencil how this looks all grubby and mucky. There are errors with this (one of them is quite obvious) but it's nice to go from a blank sheet of paper to this in less than 20 minutes.

I also need a domain and a webserver to host this, but those issues can be met as they arise.

March 14, 2006

Horse 511 - Republic of Australia

HRH Queen Elizabeth II is in the country at the moment and whenever she sets foot upon this land that was once a gaol, there is always an uneasy torrent of grumbling that suggests that we should have our own head of state. Whilst I can see the aspirations of such people and take note of them, I tend to wonder about the whole situation and look at other countries with presidents, and think to myself that the idea aint all it's cracked up to be.

The inventor of the Republic was France; this grew out of the tyranny associated with the Emporers like Napoleon which for all intents were identical in character to the line of kings they deposed. Currently the French President (Jacques Chirac) is directly elected and holds similar powers to the Queen. The President signs off on legislation and frequently exercises their powers of veto as they see fit. They also have the power to rule on constitutional matters and can refer matters to a referendum.
The problem is that the President is not exactly a respected position. Chirac is not necessarily held in high regard with the airs that should come with head of state and is often accused of being incompotent.

If we move to the USA, the president there actually appoints the executive of the nation. None of the executive are elected by the people, so it would appear that with the election of an American President, there is a lot of faith that the person elected will be faithful to the American people.
Like the French President, the President of the USA isn't necessarily afforded the official respect one usually purports to a head of state. In times where the president is a puppet for the people below them, the voters are often too aware of this. Mind you, in cases where this person proves to be an elder statesman, they are idolised in the nation's history.

The Queen on the other hand isn't elected at all. She has virtually no say in the way the nation runs (save for the ability to sign off on legislation which for reasons of proximity she doesn't most of the time) and can not appoint the executive, nor does she have the ability to change even an iota of the legislation.

So why do I think we should retain what would seem like an utterly usless position. Think about this, if in France and the USA the president is not necessarily held in overy high regard, then how does this reflect on the nation? Would the Australian people for instance wear having John Howard as the head of state? It's just not very glamourous is it?

The Queen might not do anything, but it's a matter of what she is rather than who. As a link to our past the retention of the monarchy actually shows something quite interesting. The USA was created with a war as was France (though they called it a revolution) but Australia was created with a piece of legislation. Not only that, within the British Commonwealth it was affored uniquely the staus of "Commonwealth" which meant that at inception, all laws passed within the borders would take precedent over those of Britain.

Something else which is almost forgotten is this: where does the word "Republic" come from? Latin is our help here... res publica or common thing. Res being a word for thing or abstract wealth, or if you wish a Commonwealth. Therefore we're a republic anyway, which in practice is most definately the case, so why bother changing anything?

March 13, 2006

Horse 510 - Time Is Running Out!!

It fills our past, present and our future; busy people complain that they have to little of it and many of our youth have far too much of it on their hands. There should be enough of it to last us forever but scientists revealed yesterday that by 2020 there could be a severe shortage.
Like oil, gas, ozone, our rainforests, our seas, and arable land, time is being wasted every single day like there's no tomorrow; yet the scary thing is that there may not be one. Unless we start saving it and quickly, we may none left for our children to use.

If you want to know what the time is, ask a policeman or so goes the saying. However, unless they happen to have a degree in cosmology or theoretical physics; maybe even a working knowledge of Leibniz and Neitsche, you're probably better off finding someone more qualified.

The very first people to record time were the Greeks. The Egyptians were the first to record time-and-a-half whilst building the pyramids.

Although a coffee table is useful for putting cups of coffee on, a timetable isn't for putting time on. It's usually a bit of paper pinned up at your local railway station upon which is printed a series of numbers which bear no resemblence to the arrival and departure of trains.

"My parents fought in WW2 so I could have the right to waste as much time as I want" - PM John Howard

Maybe the Sex Pistols were right when they sang "no future for you" in their 1977 song God Save the Queen. If we keep on wasting time like this, there will certainly be no future left for anyone.

March 10, 2006

iFive - 10th Mar

Most people have memories that go with a song that remains with them forever; certainly I walys make a habit of buying whatever single happens to be number one that week on a major trip because invariably it will have been played to death. What happens in the case of the iFive No.1 this week - is it possible to have a memory for something I was never around for?
Vera Lynn sung the original and the BBC would play Goodnight Children Everywhere sometimes as part of its nightly shutdown. Many kids had been moved out of London while the bombs were raining down and perhaps this was some reminder that somewhere, someone was very very worried indeed. The song itself is quite haunting almost bordering on sad; the chord structure is uneasy and I suspect represents the fear of the time very accurately indeed.

PS: The band name Sixpence None the Richer came from another quite well known book. A bit of research may surprise you... go on, it's fun.

1. Goodnight Children Everywhere - Sixpence None the Richer
2. Fancy Hearing Cake - Azumanga Daioh
3. The Hot Dog Man - Tripod
4. Mary-Anne - Tripod
5. Everything Goes Around - Atomic Kitten

March 08, 2006

Horse 509 - Star Wars II?

A question that often comes up in conversation is "Who would win in a fight?" This question applies in all sorts of fields: Ronald McDonald vs The Colonel, Blur vs Oasis, Tony Blair vs The Blair Witch Project and now...

R2D2 vs Daleks

Both are capable of extreme space travel, both are plucky adversaries and both are fairly hardy.

It is worth noting that one of the old tricks that used to work against Daleks, no longer applies. It was once said that to escape the Daleks, one simply needed to run up stairs. This was famously parodied in the latest series when Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) ran up some stairs and the Dalek used jets to hover. However assuming you have a Dalek without this ability, the benefit is negated anyway because R2D2 can not climb stairs either. So the venue for the battle is a flat surface.

R2D2 is esentially a dustbin with a projection unit and a universal lock reader. The Daleks are battle robots piloted by sentinent globs; equipped with laser cannons. R2D2 if it came up to you would make a Puruupuruu-twee-doot noise but the Daleks would yell EXTERMINATE and try to blow you to ions. Clearly Daleks are more menacing.I am reminded that C3PO and R2D2 once appeared on Sesame Street and R2D2 fell in love with a fire hydrant; clearly this is a weakness as the Daleks do not have love. Rose Tyler killed one when it experienced happiness. I'm not sure how this aspect would turn out.

A Dalek is taller and heavier, so in a one on one ram-raid, the Dalek would win. R2D2 frequently shut down and required repairs; I'm sure Davros would just send more Daleks. Collectively the Daleks conquered worlds, but R2D2 is merely a service droid.

In conclusion, a Dalek would beat R2D2 and for one other important reason... they killed Kennedy during their invasion of Earth in 1963 and overran London.

March 07, 2006

Horse 508 - Star Wars

Episode IV
It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire.
During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire's ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.

Pursued by the Empire's sinister agents, Princess Leia races home aboard her starship, custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the galaxy....

Think about it all. You have a giant Galactic Empire with presumably billions of citizens. Is it just me or does the whole concept seem just a little bit stupid. How do you sort out the issues of taxation? How do you collect it? As for the internet, that's tied up with the issue below.

How about making telephone calls? If electromagnetic radiation only moves at the speed of light, then your telephone call could take potentially hundreds of years to even get to the nearest star. The person you'd be speaking to would have probably died by then, not to mention that by the time you heard back you'd be dead as well. Also bear in mind that spaceships have warp drives, which means you could arrive several hundreds of years earlier yourself.

I wonder how your spaceship knows when it rematerialises in space, not to reappear in another spaceship. Wouldn't it have made more sense if you were going to blow up the Death Star to send a ship on auto pilot to just reappear in the middle with a bomb on board?

If you do happen to be moving a very close to the speed of light, assuming that KE=1/2MV² where V is very massive, the kinetic energy dissipated by a spaceship into something the size of a grain of sand would probably be enough to rip it to bits. How do you safeguard against micrometeorite that you can't see?

What is the blade of a Light-Sabre composed of? If Yoda is old and crippled, then why is he able to bounce around wielding his own Light-Sabre? Is he on Workers Comp?

Force equals a mass times an acceleration. How do you use "The Force" and how do you accelerate a mass in free space without outside interaction? Shouldn't they have all known that Anakin would be bad, because in the first film, everyone was a bunch of goody-two-shoes la-dee-daa gits and there were no bad people; therefore to bring "balance" there needed to be more bad people.

March 04, 2006

Horse 507 - Am I The Only One Who Gets This?

Is it anyone else who get this kind of callousness or is it just me?

Last night being Friday, I got back from work and was in the mood to do much, then I got this phone call:

"We're having a few people around for dinner on Saturday night. Do you think you could come around and bring some of your famous sushi rolls?"

Aha, I thought, something to do for tonight and for tommorrow night. So I've spent par of this morning tracking down some nori and some more sushi vinegar and spent part of the afternoon with my little wooden rollings mats turning out a few futomaki (big rolls) before cutting them up into little bite size bits.
I then drive about half an hour to my friends house and they were obviously in a flap because they were getting ready for when then people turned up, and Iwas told the following.

"Ah, it's good that you brought them here. Now I think you'll want to be leaving fairly soon as we have guests coming in about half an hour"


"No, you're not invited. It's a couples only thing, we've got about a dozen people coming and we wouldn't want you to feel left out."

At which point I was hurried out of the door and into the night.
Now maybe it's a case of misinterpreting something, but I've spent a couple of hours effort in getting the ingredients, preparation time, as well as the price of the good in the first place (salmon fillet doesn't come as cheap as chicken).

Forgive me if I'm more than just a little peeved here. Do I feel more left out for actually being left out?

I've decided to let this one go. I've got other things to do tonight... namely anything.

March 02, 2006

iFive - 3rd Mar

I'm going to break the rules of iFive somewhat and mention just one song that I had on the iPod this week. I was able to pick up from my local record store during the week a copy of the 2005 Last Night at the Proms on BBC Records, of course being from that centre of the known and unknown musical world, the egg that is the Royal Albert Hall.

A testament to just how good a piece of music is, is to how loud you can turn it up. iTunes this week registered just 2 counts for the week. The point of the matter is that both of these tracks are 82 minutes long which in itself is pushing the boundaries of CD technology. Let the records show that the Fantasia on British Sea Songs was the very first song that I've ever had my amplifier set to 3 bars for. Henry Wood who organised the performances 112 years ago probably wasn't aware of the cultural heritage that he left behind... good luck the him. The Last Night is still the high water mark on the musical calendar for my money, and for me having the privilege of being able to stand within The Egg's walls whilst this was going on in 2003 was/is very special.

1. Fantasia on British Sea Songs - Henry Wood

Horse 506 - The Best Job In The World

A bunch of us were talking about this tonight and I reckon that without a doubt, the best job in the world would have to be that of a nuclear bomb salesman. I mean think about it, you don't even have to prove that the bomb you're selling even works.

Oh our nuclear bomb is a right cracker, it's a bobby dazzler it is. That's it sitting out in the carpark. This is the bomb that even the roaches are afraid of.

The thing is that no nutter no more matter how ludicrously insane they are, isn't going to test it there and then to make sure it works are they? The thing could be filled with chocolate bon-bons, putty and sawdust for all it matters. The people in charge would buy it anyway, they're all CRAZY PEOPLE.

When I was a kid we were in the middle of the Cold War, Reagan and Gorbachev had these things pointed at each other. Even they had the common sense not to actually use them. What a field day the nuclear bomb salesmen must've had back then eh?

It would have been hillarious to have actually witnessed all of these "bombs" going off. If they'd been sold by bomb salesmen like me, the New York City would be covered in treacle whilst Moscow would have been up to its eyeballs in cans of Dr Pepper and cakes of Solvitol.

The problem these days is that genuine CRAZY PEOPLE are in charge of the bombs now. These people are prepared to actually use them for real. I think we should start filling nuclear devices with sandshoes and dolly mixtures as soon as possible.

March 01, 2006

Horse 505 - What Are Words Worth?

"England and America are two countries separated by the same language."
Sir Walter Besant

It was the language of an Empire on which the sun never set. It's still the language which holds the nation of India together (the only other things that do that are the railways and cricket), it's the language which Napoleon cited as the "festering wound upon the world's tongue" and without, the works of Shakespeare, Wordsworth and Ogden Nash would have never existed.
Much is made of the great vowel shift in the accent of New Zealand, and of the 44 different dialects of the UK but little is written about how the seemingly obvious and quite startling differences between American English and British English actually came to be.

I start this discourse with the work of Dr Samuel Johnson and his "A Dictionary of the English Language" published in 1755. Various attempts had been made to codify the language before, some even giving lexicography and etemologies but Dr Johnson who had hated schoolmasters and generally was showing signs of turning into a curmudgeon, sought to provide usage notes to what he saw as a language which was both moving and dynamic. Unlike most modern lexicographers, Johnson introduced humour or prejudice into quite a number of his definitions. Among the best known is "Excise: a hateful tax levied upon commodities"

Over in the USA the language carried over by the pilgrims was already mutating. They found that many words were being imported from the native indians and from the French who were busily taking up bits of Canada.

The single greatest shift in American spelling was not by accident and was done as a conscious effort to show that the fledgling states had truly broken away from mother England. Noah Webster published his "A Grammatical Institute of the English Language" in 1783 with something in the order of 4500 different spellings to what was standard and acceptable in the UK. This accounted for about 10% of the book and by the time his dictionary was completed in 1833 the damage was already done. American English would forever cease to be the same.

Back in England scholars were looking to codify the language even futher so that it matched rigid rules for a Victorian prim and proper country. However, from 1858 until 1933 their task was not complete and when the "Oxford English Dictionary" became the standard repository for words, regionalisms still abounded.

The OED should in theory be the last word on everything in English. It does have tracts on American spelling but realises that American is a dialect. Australian English sits uncomfortably between American and British after influences since the end of WW2. There is the Macquarie Dictionary which is supposed to be the definitive guide to English in this country, but its authority is feeble in comparison to the OED which is exhaustive and now rounds out to 23 printed volumes in its 3rd edition (OED3).

I have a copy of OED3 on my desk and as such I like the UN, the ISO and the WTO consider it be the standard. I think I've inadvertantly taken up a chronic dislike of Noah Webster who attempted to bugger up the English language. Until such time as Newspeak takes over (see Orwel's "1984") and Oldspeak becomes crimethink, OED3 will continue to be my weapon of choice and as such "a good thing" (no apologies to Sellar and Yeatman).