February 01, 2017

Horse 2220 - Fragments V: The Final Frontier Strikes Back

A very long time ago, someone much wiser than me said that if you want to be a writer, then you should write something every day, no matter how bad it is. As a result of this, my tablet always ends up with a whole heap of detritus that doesn't really go anywhere, or is useful for anything.


DM19 - Demountable?

I remember being in demountable classrooms, where the temperature outside was 35°C and the temperature inside was closer to 50°C because the heat from the sun would be stored and then magnified and re-radiated by the metal roof. Air conditioning in such a building was both pointless and ineffective because all of the warmth in the winter and all of the coolth in the summer would just leak out through the joins. On one particular day in Year 1, I can remember tripping over something in the classroom and then dropping my workbook through the join; to the dirt below.

The fans in those demountable buildings had a design at the centre which resembled the letter ü with an umlaut missing. The click of fans spinning around provided the soundtrack to many a summer; accompanied by the ceaseless screeching of fifty million cicadas, all in the key of H#.
One of the strangest things that I can remember was that when I was in Year 4, the teacher brought in an Sony Quintrix television, which was ancient even for back then, and we watched the Olympic Games from Seoul. This was back in the day when televisions in the classroom warranted a massive metal frame; which meant that those of us up in demountable land hardly ever saw them.


CA27 - Skewing ODI Statistics

Apart from the fact that we had the morally and logically questionable public holiday of Australia Day yesterday, I think that we saw something equally dubious at the Adelaide Oval. I don't want to take anything away from the obviously brilliant and skilled batsman David Warner, who posted a score of 179 with such style and aplomb that he made Sir Donald Bradman turn over the snags on his imaginary barbecue in his grave, but I do want to extend my right finger skywards before dismissing the noble game of cricket itself and sending it back to the pavilion. Something about what we saw yesterday was decidedly not cricket.

If you cast your minds to a world where everything was played in black and white, including cricket, one of the more charming turns of phrase of the game came about because of one very particular aspect of the rules. When a batsman dispatched a delivery to the boundary, it would "rattle the pickets". When Kerry Packer came along in the 1970s and turned everyone from flanneled fools into colourful clowns with the invention of World Series Cricket, those picket fences began to be covered up by advert hoardings for cigarettes, alcohol, pies, paint, motor cars and other companies wanting to hawk their goods and services. The little red ball, or white if it had gone anemic in a One Day match, would clatter into an advertising board with a large thud.
At some point in the late 1990s, in an effort to both standardise the game and for occupational health and safety reasons, a rope was brought in. In time that too would be covered over by an advertising sponge but the adverts for cigarettes would not return.

The point is that not only did a change in the rules bring the boundaries closer but by having a rope rather than a fence, it also reduced the height of the boundaries from as much as five feet at the MCG to only three inches at most.
My complaint is that the scores at the moment (and yesterday was one such example) are hideously inflated and I think beyond the point of sanity. I absolutely accept that we live in an age of vastly increased professionalism and that players on the whole have far more skill which has been built up through training, and to be honest the introduction of Twenty 20 has developed a confidence in batsmen that was previously not as flamboyant but I do wonder if changing the way that the boundaries affect the scores is for the worse.

In the outer suburbs of Melbourne's east, VFL Park was built as new venue which replaced several Australian Rules clubs home grounds that by the late 1970s were falling into disrepair. When Kerry Packer wanted to find a home for his World Series Cricket, the Victorian Cricket Association and the MCG Trust both refused to let Packer set up shop at the MCG and so he made a deal with the VFL to host cricket at VFL Park.
The thing about VFL Park was that it was massive. At night you'd be driving along the expressway, pull off into what back then was mainly fields, and as you approached from the west and came over a hill, VFL Park would seemingly rise out of the earth like a behemoth of light. The ground itself was so incredibly huge that I doubt whether it was ever filled to capacity. I was there for an Australian Rules semi-final and there were more than a hundred thousand people there and the place still only looked about three quarters full.

The Adelaide Oval is already famous for having narrow sides but yesterday, with the rope in, the distance from the stumps to the boundary was only 56 metres; that's not even the length of three cricket pitches. What I'm getting at is that in the days of VFL Park, when there was no rope, it was a full 94 metres to the boundary. If you also add in the fact that the ball had to go over the fence as well, then that's going to have a major effect on the scores. If you bring the boundaries in by more than a third, then the amount of boundary 4s and 6s is going to increase and suddenly where once a batsman might have only scored 2, they might now be rewarded with double and triple the amount for exactly the same shot.

I don't wish to be a curmudgeonly old git who wants to say that things were better back in my day because clearly the overall quality of batting in particular is demonstrably better than in days of yore but by bringing in the ropes to such a degree cheapens the scores. Where once a century or fifty was something which had to be ground out and worked for, the fact that they now come with alarming regularity should be cause for concern by the administrators of the game but it isn't. Where once a score of 225 might have been defendable, now scores of a hundred more than that might not be good enough. Eight an over is possible in Twenty 20 cricket and now in the one day version seven and a half is achievable but in the days when the boundary wasn't just a rope but a whole fence as well and it was further away, five an over was a good fighting target.


OG20 - Am I Officially A Geezer Yet?

Late last year, I realised that it had been twenty years since I left high school. Back then, John Howard was the Prime Minister, Bill Clinton was the President of the United States, John Major was still living at Number 10 and this new fangled thing called a internet had only really been widespread in people's homes for about four years. There was no such thing as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook or live at streaming of radio. I bet that if I were to meet my eighteen year old self, I would find him intolerable for the most part but at very least we could agree that Liverpool had thrown yet another league title away pointlessly.

As the silent foot of time has stolen swiftly by, the arrows of outrageous fortune and the ravages of time have seen several of my bones an ACL broken, the arrival of hemorrhoids and Father Time has started to spray paint my temples in silver. Some would call it the mark of wisdom but that implies that I have learned something, which is mostly untrue. If I have learned anything at all, it is that I have no clue about how the world works most of the time and that in general, neither does anyone else. Lately though, in addition to everything else that old age can throw at me, I've noticed that my short range eyesight has decided to pack it in.

While looking this up, I've found that the people who write medical dictionaries are all a bunch of jokers. It wasn't enough to describe the reasons why people's eyesight gets worse, they had to give it a name which pokes fun at it as well. The word for this specific complaint is "presbyopia" which comes from two Greek components meaning "old man" and "eyes". Quite literally from an etemological standpoint, I have " old man eyes".

The short explanation is that the iris of the eyes are not as elastic as they once were and this means that they now focus to a point behind the retina. This can be remedied by the use of corrective glasses but it still means that I have to go through the inconvenience of getting my eyes tested and then having to fill out a prescription. I could feign some sort of airs and graces about the whole thing but instead of looking like a university professor, I know that I'll  just look like a git.


SM77 - Superman Doesn't Mow The Lawn

I kind of don't understand what it is about Superman that we're supposed to look up to. Is he supposed to be someone who we should try and emulate? Because by very definition, as a superhero, if you don't have super powers, then that's impossible. A modem take on Lois Lane makes her out to be a little bit stupid but if you go back and read through the stories from the 1940s and 1950s, she's a journalist who is using her journalistic skills to prove that Clark Kent and Superman are the same person but she is constantly thwarted in her attempts to do so by him. If you examine that for any more than about thirty seconds, you then realise that Superman is actually a major cad.
I have only seen one Batman movie, which was the one from the late 1980s and that was enough. Batman seems more straightforward because he is someone who is trying to exact revenge on the general concept of crime and as we all know, going to war against a concept like drugs, terror or communism, never goes well for anyone.

I like the 1960s Batman with Adam West because I like that they knew that the whole superhero trope is hokey and played the whole thing out, so far over the top that it hit the bell and won the prize. Likewise, I haven't yet seen the Lego Batman Movie but I suspect that it will also hit that same bell.
What I don't understand though, is why Batman in the 1940s started out as a weird vigilante detective. If that was explored, then maybe you might end up with a hybrid sort of Midsomer Murders meets Mythbusters: someone looking at intensely creepy things but with access to incredible machinery and a virtually unlimited budget.


TP45 - Trump Vanilla With Nuts

On top of this, Trump isn't particularly all that different from presidents that have gone before. Comments that he's made about immigrants and Mexicans, could have very easily been said by presidents in the pre-Civil War period, or maybe someone more modern like Woodrow Wilson. His voiced policies of isolationism echo that of the period of Teddy Roosevelt and his attitude towards women is comparable with that of Warren G Harding; who by the way installed a cabinet filled with so many knaves and blackguards that two of them went to prison on corruption charges while in office.

Just looking at his cabinet, he doesn't seem to be the sort of person who wants to see his worldview expanded. I'm not sure that he would appoint anyone who would fundamentally challenge his opinions. From what I've seen this far, his whole cabinet is made up of people who sound exactly the same as him; I don't know if that makes it a confederacy of dunces but it qualifies as an abundance of idiotic sycophants. For instance it isn't uncommon for a presidential hopeful to release their medical records but what I've found completely insane on reflection is how much Donald Trump's doctor sounded exactly like Donald Trump. He has the greatest health of anyone ever running for president? Seriously? Does that include basketball playing Obama, W Bush the hiker, or Teddy Roosevelt who liked having alligators at the White House because he was that hard core?


YY98 - Tourist Trophy

It shouldn't really surprise me but I was on the M30 bus to work this morning and as we were passing over the Harbour Bridge, a group of half a dozen tourists got their phones out and started taking pictures of the Bridge, the Opera House and the harbour. I guess that because I pass this way as many as a thousand times a year (actually not hyperbole) that the sight of people taking pictures is still amusing to me.

It is really easy to forget that because I live in this city by the harbour, that to most people in the world, it is something different and exotic. The traffic is on the wrong side of the road, everyone speaks with an accent that's really weird and when you open your wallet to buy anything, all of the money is colourful.

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