Friday, December 31, 2004

ToxicPurity's NY Resolutions

Personally, 2004, like most years, had its good days and its not-so-good days. More than ever, I am grateful to belong to this country, to have a friend and partner like Skribe to share my life with, and to be in a position where I can be thankful about anything at all.

So, rather than thinking about things to give up, I am resolving to add to my life:

1. I will get my driver's license.
2. I will continue with night classes at TAFE, and learn something useful, or fun, or both.
3. I will actually donate blood sometime this year (and so will Skribe).
4. I will have coffee/go to the pub/hang out with friends more. Like more than twice.
5. I will draw/paint/whatever and get published/exhibited/sold.
6. I will figure out the missing crucial second step in the Underpants Gnomes' 3-step route to wealth and profit, and so never have to work for wacky East Europeans again. Ever.
7. More than every other year before, I will make 2005 my year.



Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Remember: Nature Is A Mother

It's been a tough few years for South East Asian coastal resorts. Damned thing also makes you conscious that you live in a low-lying area close to water. Hmm.

Dave and Joanne Ali, honeymooners and tsunami survivors, said, among other things, that they had felt abandoned by comparison to survivors from other countries. In the immediate aftermath, the German government had sent a plane to ferry home Germans, a bus appeared to take people from Hong Kong out of the disaster area, people were arriving with vehicles to collect survivors of certain nationalities. What did Australians get? An SMS message informing them that Alexander Downer was sending water and blankets. (And I'll link this post-ed when I find the damned article - so much has happened so quickly the story I want has been pushed off the ABC news page but not yet into its archives).

What DFAT has to say regarding tidal waves, which essentially boils down to:
1. Don't go there; and
2. Bring bottled water.

Just how big and bad was this thing? Apparently, it changed the physical map of parts of the world, and put a wobble in the earth's axis.

Meanwhile, buried elsewhere in the news but no less noteworthy, Cricket Australia has honoured the 1868 team of Indigenous players who represented Australia admirably in the first ever Australia vs England tour, nine years before the Ashes began, and who have finally been awarded their individual player numbers. Congratulations, guys.

And in a nearly complete segue from the headlines (so it's sea-related), you may find it a helpful distraction to consider that whales get the bends.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

The Spirit of Giving (What They Deserve)

I always thought the best present to give to the Christian of your acquaintance - particularly at Xmas time - was a cheque to the charity of your choice MADE OUT IN THEIR NAME. It makes you look good, some deserving charity gets some money, and you have just made the Christian of your acquaintance feel completely shitty. Watch them squirm as they thank you for the generosity of your gift, while the guilt and doubt eats them up on the inside.

Better yet, do it to the child of a Christian of your acquaintance, after promising them that your present is way better than an X-box, mobile phone, or scooter, and teach them a lesson they won't forget about the key doctrines of their own religion: humility, poverty, and charity.

If you're not into the poetic-justice school of gift-giving, and just want to feel good without stepping on anyone's toes, not even a hypocrite's, you could always buy someone a bucket. Or buy a goat (US$60) or a buffalo ($250), or better yet, for a percentage of the cost, buy a share in an animal.

Also, you could Give A Kid A Book. Now, I don't normally like these click-and-feed-a-hungry-child links because being a terribly skeptical and cynical person, I can't possibly see how it could work, and I've seen too many well-meaning people get taken in by hoax emails.

That said: these sites appear legit, won't cost you a penny, and haven't infected my Windows machine with pop-up porn ads. So, do something for yourself. Click on the button, and the sponsor charities will give a book to a needy child.

And if books aren't your thing, they have related charities like Save A Rainforest and Feed An Abandoned Pet and whatnot.

And don't just wait til Xmas to give to feel good about yourself. Remember that the true meaning of 25th December is that it celebrates the birth of the sun, thereby signifying the end of winter and the spiritual start of a new year. So if you're going to do the pressies thing, make 'em count.

Friday, December 24, 2004

A season of hypocrites

I hate Christmas. It's not because I'm a Scrooge-like character that seeks to kill the joy of others. It's also not because I'm sick-to-death of hearing carols and other christmassy ditties every time I go shopping - although I do have to wonder how anyone can work in such an establishment and still keep any semblance of sanity. No, it is because Christmas brings out the worst in people.

I know a lot of Christians and others that have bought into the myth of Christmas believe exactly the opposite: that Christmas brings out the best in people. Sure, people are generally happier, more friendly and more generous, but therein lies the problem. If you can do it over Christmas, why can't you do it all the time? Why does being nice for one day excuse you for being shitty, intolerant, pond-scum the other 364 days?

Also, around this time of year I meet a lot of so-called atheists. They usually surface after they wish me a happy Christmas and I tell them that I'm not a Christian and don't celebrate Christmas. They then reply in hushed tones that they're not Christian either. "But I still do presents," they quickly add.

I hate seeing people demean themselves this way. Being avaricious and hypocritical, because their family, society and the marketing arms of the corporations tell them that they have to act like this. It's tradition. Everybody in Australia does it. And so they just blindly accept it, even if they no longer believe it. That's why I hate Christmas.

Monday, December 20, 2004

QotD

"An Italian being interviewed by a German, filmed by a Hungarian, and edited by a Singaporean. How does this represent the West Australian art scene?"

skribe
after viewing the latest installment of Gallery Watch

Personoid of the Year

While it looks like Time Magazine's Person of the Year nomination has degenerated into so much sycophantic Smithers-ness, just remember that their vote for Man of the Year 1939 was jolly old Adolph, and Man of the Year 1980 was the Ayatollah Khomeini. In their own words, the nomination (and it's NOT an award nor an honour) recognises "the single person who, for better or worse, has most influenced events in the preceding year." Dubya is in good company.

Personally, my fav Time Person of the Year was the 1982 nominee, The Computer, but what do I know. Politicians and fanatics come and go, but when technological marvels become not merely commonplace but integral to everyday life - when something we've made changes our lives so much that we cannot conceive of doing without it - now that's worthy of recognition, for good or bad.

In that light, here's 10 Things Time learnt about blogging.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Definition problems

Of course one of the problems of using cutting-edge technology is that sometimes other support technology isn't as up-to-date. Case in point, the Sony HDR-FX1 is an excellent camera, particularly when used in its 1080 high-definition video mode. Unfortunately, Adobe's Premiere Pro, which is what we use mainly at CTV, can't understand High Definition Video (HDV). The required plugin is due out January. CTV's Administrator is not impressed. He has a wonderful, beautifully shot, widescreen version of his programme, Gallery Watch, and the only way to watch it is by playing it back in the camera. Sometimes, even the best of us can be a little too smart for our own good.

I guess that means that devotees should stay tuned for an extra-special episode in January, or February or whenever the plugin is released.

The One Game

They say that the browser wars are about to start again now that Firefox and Mozilla have reached a level of stability, security and standards conformity that Microsoft's Internet Explorer can only dream about. And it looks as though the good people at SBS - yes those people that receive fat wads of cash from the Australian taxpayer - have made their choice as to who they're supporting in that war.

I've been reading The World Game website everyday since its inception, using a variety of browsers on a variety of different operating systems. Except for a brief days a few years ago I've never had a problem reading it no matter what browser or operating system I chose to use. That all changed two weeks ago.

Now, whenever I use Firefox or Mozilla (on both Windows and Linux) to read the site I get a requester to download an octet-stream. Click save, open or cancel and nothing happens. Load it up with Internet Explorer and there's no problem.

I've written to them several times and have yet to hear a peep. There ought to be a law that requires that all publically-funded websites be standards compliant and accessible from more than one browser.

Not happy, Jan!

Saturday, December 18, 2004

What Toxic Purity Learnt This Week While Editing The CTV Perth Xmas Special

01. Among other things, Hitler was an outrageous tax cheat

02. Cluster-ballooning is apparently a real sport.

03. Australians spend way too much on real estate and imaginary real estate (has castle, furniture not included).

04. The next generation of car can climb stairs. Can we say Mecha?

05. From sperm-destroying mobile phones to the production of pate foie gras being an act of animal cruelty, people are just stupid enough to believe anything, and the press is just lazy enough to print it.

06. Santa's reindeer, including Rudolph, are probably all female.

07. According to Don Diebel, America's #1 Dating Expert, a surefire way to pick up chicks is with a hand puppet. Uh-huh.

08. Lava lamps explode when you put them on a hot stovetop. Yet another one for the Darwin Awards.

09. How to bring down a bank. First, start a doomsday cult. Next, borrow like there's no tomorrow...

10. Just because it's called Narcissist, is located in the sex shops section of Barrack St and down a dingy stairway, does not mean it's a fetish shop with black widow dresses and PVC gear and spikey jewellery. Boring!

11. My driving instructor is ex-SAS. COOOOOL.

12. You don't really know how to hate those soul-sapping lame-brained Xmas Specials until you've made one. I need a bath now. I feel so dirty.

Check the busker

The busking scene in Perth has never been particularly great. Sure there is the occasional highlight like Trent Humphrey, the Opera-Singer and the Sword-Swallower, who drives around in a hearse, but against that we have a plethora of lame jugglers, the Michael Jackson Break-Dancer and the Disabled Guy, who over the last ten years has managed to improve - while he still can't hold a tune he can at least reach some of the notes now. Occasionally.

Now we have a new busker. The Jamaican speed chess champion. Yes, speed chess is now considered to be a busking activity. For a small fee you can challenge him to a game. And the thing of it is, that he's attracting huge crowds. Sure not as many as the usual performance of the Sword-swallower, who proudly claims to hold the world-record for most swords swallowed, but still a healthy number.

So, if you know your pawn from your rook and are looking for a new playing partner perhaps it is high time for you to pop into YOUR city, as the City of Perth ads proclaim, and challenge the West Indian. Do us proud.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

The Stress Season

No, we are not dead. We are merely resting. Actually both ToxicPurity and myself have been rushed off our feet. One of the really stupid things about having a national religious holiday is that even those that aren't members of that religion are forced to suffer from the stress that holiday causes. For instance, every show that will be aired on Access 31 over the end-of-year break must be submitted by 17th December - THAT's TOMORROW! That's because Access 31 basically shuts down from the end of next week until January 3rd. This means that everyone is madly trying to shoot, edit and output their programmes before the deadline. Then throw in the Christmas specials and the end-of-year episodes and you've got a real mess. We'll be back soon. We promise.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Rabbit Hell

It was pension day in Whitfords yesterday because during our visit to Whitfords City we seemed to be surrounded by the entire memberhsip of Greypower. That and several busloads of large breasted teenagers dressed in denim skirts, that were about three sizes too small for them. What can I say about the rabbit warren that is the Whitford City shopping centre? AVOID AT ALL COSTS! The people there are ugly, rude, deaf and have a serious body odour problem. And that's just the staff. The shoppers are worse. If you're from Whitfords and Whitford City is 'your place' then I'm truly sorry. Life has punished you too much already.

And the award goes to...

[Straightens tuxedo tie]

[Reads off teleprompter]

Acting is defined by the Wiktionary as temporarily assuming the duties or authority of another person when they are not there or are unable to do their job.

The nominations for Best Actor are:
Khoa Bui
Mark Evans
Mahesh Jadunundun
Kingsley Judd
Robbie Vecchio

And the Barimen award for Best Actor goes to:
Mark Evans

The nominations for Best Actress are:
Julia Cukrov
Valerie Dragojevic
Melinda O'Gar
Stephanie Wilson
Farren Wood

And the Barimen award for Best Actress goes to:
Valerie Dragojevic

Congratulations to both Mark and Valerie and to all the nominees. You all did a great job and it was a pleasure working with you.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Queries

One of the joys of blogging, or any website for that matter, is checking out the search engine queries that led users to your site. For instance, someone did an MSN search for BEST LOCATION FOR BLINDSPOT MIRRORS and somehow ended up here. Someone else reached here by googling for exhibitionist nus girl blog mrt. Others have reached this site by inputting the terms Crispy Ikan Bilis; libra odd spot list; and athena+symbol+cryptonomicon. All very interesting and most of them make some sort of sense, but how on earth do you get here by inputting the following term:

phone numbers of call girls in mumbai

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

High Definition? Yes!

So, you've just finished one part of the latest piece of animation you're producing and you pop out for a breather, and while you're there you just happen to run into the Administrator of the production house where you're doing this animation. You and he discuss setting up some training courses and he wants your advice on who to do them. You name some people and then casually mention that Sony has a new High-Definition camera out. 'Yes,' the administrator says, 'It just came in today. Would you like to see it?.' 'Sure,' you say blankly, and the two of you head-off down the street to Plaza Digital Cameras.

The administrator is greeted by the staff like an old friend. You're introduced. Names are exchanged. Business cards too. Then you get down to the nitty gritty. Checking out the Sony HDR-FX1.

It's neat. It has everything you want from a prosumer video camera, but the thing that blows you away - apart from the 16:9 screen and high definition recording, is the aperture toggle. On a shoot it is the little things that count. All the cameras you've used - all the dinky little prosumer ones anyway - place the aperture in a really stupid and out-of-the-way place. So, you have to stop to use it. Something that is annoying when you're shooting a doco. You've long ago forgone using automatic aperture settings. The HDR-FX1 has it exactly in the right place - or should that be left place, because it is ideally placed to be adjusted with the left hand.

Half-an-hour later, you've pretty much exhausted the possibilities of shooting everything in the shop. You want this camera. You want to see what it can do in a real environment. The administrator beats you to the punch. He asks to borrow the $7000 camera, that the store has had less than 12 hours, overnight. You're blown away when they say yes. You've learnt a valuable lesson. Ask. The worst they can do is say no.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Oh! What Fun It Is To Ride In A One-Tree Christmas Bus!

This morning, skribe and I rode the Christmas bus into Como. This was almost as scary as the bus itself being driven by someone who wasn't quite sure what the route was, and wanted directions, just to be on the safe side.

The Christmas-ness of the Christmas bus, however, served to distract us from the driver's lack of knowledge of the route they were driving. The interior was thick with tinsel streamers. Plastic stars rattled against the windows, which were white with fake frost. Santa's fatherly grin beamed down at us from every flat surface. There was even a Christmas tree rattling against the back of the driver's panel. "Noel!" and "Ho! Ho! Ho!" were stuck to the doors in big red padded felt lettering. The only thing missing was piped-in Christmas carols. Thank gods and odd socks they forgot the piped-in Christmas carols.

It was so ridiculously over-the-top it actually brought a smile to our jaded, cynical, non-Christmas-celebrating selves. You know what? I adore the idea of the Christmas Bus. It celebrates the best part of the holiday - joy and gaiety and quite a lot of childish silliness.

It got us thinking about other holiday buses. Easter would be cute, but it doesn't have the same drunkenly glorious sense of fun and frivolity about it. Valentine's Day isn't a holiday, and the Anzac Day Fun Bus is just wrong. What does that leave? The Queen's Birthday Holiday Bus? Brrrrr.

The Lunar New Year would be another great Holiday Bus, if only it were on the calendar. Ah, well. Not this year maybe.

The Christmas Holiday Bus. It was masquerading as the 32 to Como, but who knows where it'll turn up next, carrying onboard a crazy facet of the Christmas spirit with it wherever it goes.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Go Hobbits! Go Wozzies!

You've heard by now that Australia's Favourite Book is Lord of the Rings, pipping both Pride & Prejudice and the Bible. Clearly, this is a country that likes its books dense, meandering, and desperately in need of a brutal editor.

Don't get me wrong. The Bible's probably the best example of an ongoing collaborative work by mostly anonymous writers, but it needs some serious editing. And Jane Austen... I've been traumatised by her ever since my father decided that at age 11 I was too old for Enid Blyton and pushed me onto "real books" ie, a stack of Jane Austens. I still can't read her. Thank gods for the BBC drama department and Colin Firth.

What really surprised me though was that, as one of the panellists on the show, Edmund Campion, observed, the only two Australian books in the top 10 were both written by Wozzies - A Fortunate Life by A.B. Facey, and Cloud Street by Tim Winton.

Only two of the top 10 were Australian, you gasp? Remember that this is out of the entire lot of books ever published in English, and it's actually an astoundingly high percentage. Tolstoy didn't make it, nor Dumas. 20% Australian, and 100% Western Australian.

It puts me in mind of something I heard recently about Western Australian artists: that unlike our Eastern States counterparts, we tend to aim for the overseas market and international showings. We are so isolated, so far removed from the centres of Sydney and Melboure, that we look even further afield for recognition. We are subsequently more cosmopolitan in our outlook, and not as inward-looking as our Eastern States peers.

I think there's certainly something in that sentiment. Being on the fringes, we are better aware than most that Sydney and Melbourne are not the centre of the universe - we don't have to write/sculpt/paint/film to please them, even if they seem to hold the funding pursestrings. We tell our own stories our way, subconsciously or otherwise, and somehow, we end up speaking to everyone.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Sundowners

ToxicPurity and I popped into Fremantle to the FTI (Film and Television Institute) sundowner - end of year drinks thingymajig - last night. Yes, I should have mentioned it earlier. Blame it on the copious amount of soft drink that we drank. That Gest - sorry I mean Kirks - stuff really goes to my head.

Anyway, we caught up with lots of friends and made a few new ones and had a really good night - especially the bit where we nipped out to Madonnas, on South Terrace, and grabbed a bite or three to eat. I tried to catch some pics of the sundowner but unfortunately it was too dark - almost pitch black (film-makers tend to be very ugly people - at least the ones that stay behind the camera - so this is a good thing)- so my poor phone couldn't cope.

Meanwhile, over in Belmont at Access 31 there was another end-of-year party that by all reports was more like a wake. Lift your game 31! You're letting the side down.

Selling your soul

Apparently the new Microsoft blogging site requires that users grant a perpetual licence to Microsoft so they can use any and all of the blog posts. It is so very tempting to sign up and just, day-in and day-out, write posts like Microsoft is shit and My mother is dead because she trusted Microsoft. If I had a life I just might do that. Unfortunately, I don't.

The New Spelling

Heard in a popular juice store on Hay St this morning:

[Girl] As in N. A. V. E?
[Guy] What?
[Girl] N. A. V. E.
[Guy] His name is Dave.
[Girl] Yeah. It sounds like N. A. V. E. You know, you feisty knave.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Today's Useless Factoid

Odd Spot #69:
Only female ducks can quack.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

The new math

Woolworths. This evening. The total on the register screen shows $22.44. Paying by card.

[Checkout Chick] Would you like any cash out?
[ToxicPurity] Twenty dollars, please.

Checkout chick looks at screen. Thinks about punching a button. Hesitates. Considers it again. Decides against. Turns to Checkout Chick Two.

[Checkout Chick] She wants twenty dollars. That would be $66.44?

Fortunately Checkout Chick 2 knew how to add.

Nominations

It seems my nominations for the Stanislavski Award aren't going to be accepted because some moron put the wrong closing date on the email. So instead I'm going to do my own acting awards. Here are the nominations:

For Best Actor:
(in alphabetical order)
Khoa Bui
Mark Evans
Mahesh Jadunundun
Kingsley Judd
Robbie Vecchio

For Best Actress:
(in alphabetical order)
Julia Cukrov
Valerie Dragojevic
Melinda O'Gar
Stephanie Wilson
Farren Wood

The winners will be announced on December 10th.

Sure Signs Summer Is Here

You know summer has arrived when there's nothing but test cricket and crappy movies on the telly, and even non-commercial radio seems to have gone on break.

Meanwhilst, back at the office, the usual jokes about the lack of winter heating have gradually but definitively changed into jokes about the lack of summer air-conditioning.

On the streets and in the shopfronts, fake snow and tinsel ice crystals remind us that the annual winter solstice festival is nigh - a festival in which we all hooray the birth of the sun and the death of winter, and which makes about as much sense in sunny, Mediterranean Perth, Australia, as celebrating the Queens' birthday in October instead of, oh, say, 21st April.

All that's left now to confirm the onslaught of summer is the return of the white cockatoos, otherwise known as "Shut the fuck up, you little buggers!" but more properly as the Little Corella. They're a little late this year, which does raise the hope among those of us who live near the river that the darling little creatures have found new summer stomping grounds. Somehow, it doesn't really seem like summer without their incessant screeching at 4am, but I'd be kidding if I said they were badly missed.

And today's words of wisdom are:

Odd Spot #93:
Like fingerprints, everyone's tongue prints are different.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Google-Bombed! Or What's In A Name?

Iranian bloggers have successfully manipulated Google so that a search for "Arabian Gulf" brings up a spoof page directing you to search for "Persian Gulf" instead, and to read some history books.

Meanwhile, everyone else is diplomatically referring to the disputed area simply as "The Gulf", which neatly describes the situation. Maybe if it'd been called Joe from the outset, nobody would be getting all nationalistic about it today. On the other hand, people get their hackles up over the oddest things.

And since we're nominally in the region...

Odd Spot #71:
The first known contraceptive was crocodile dung, used by the Egyptians in 2000 BC.


Thanks, Libra. I feel so much more informed already.

Won

It has taken you nineteen days - thirty-two since your meeting with Kim - but you now have a working, fully-functional-with-ported-number Z1010. Congratulations. You are happy and will recommend Three to all your friends because you are a money-grubbing whore - you earn $50 credit for each friend you recommend that ports their number to Three. They also get $50 credit. How is this different from a pyramid scheme? 'Pyramid schemes don't come standard with Z1010s,' you reason - thereby proving that you are totally insane and beyond hope.

Thus ends this saga. Stay tuned for the prequel.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Signs of the times

I recently saw these two signs:





The first is plastered on the window in London Court and I have to wonder if the State Government (or whoever regulates Secondhand licences) was being a little ambitious when it comes to their licencing number scheme. Was it really necessary to cater for just shy of a billion possible licence holders?





The second picture is boldly displayed on a furniture store in Osborne Park. It left me wondering:

Is this the place where furniture goes after it has died?

Analogy

I like a good analogy as much as the next anthropoid, but sometimes journalists go a little too far in their superlatives.

Raising Women's IQ Where It Matters

Odd Spot #57:
A snail can sleep for more than three years.


"So," Skribe said. "If a woman slips one of these pieces of trivia into a conversation, that means she's unavailable?"

I nodded glumly. I mean, sure, perhaps some women use Odd Spots as a verbal code to denote that they're internally redecorating, and it's entirely possible that some women actually find these factoids enlightening, but not me.

Odd Spot #96:
Althaiophobia is a fear of marshmallows.


Perhaps I'm just over-reacting a little. Just another hyper-sensitive female. I guess I can't help being a little curious about what Libra are going to print next on those little throwaway adhesive strips - great sex scandals from history? Beauty tips? Christmas cracker jokes? What do women really need to know during that time of month? I think I'm going to have to include one of these with every post, see if I can collect the whole set.

Odd Spot #58:
During a kiss, as many as 278 bacteria colonies are exchanged.

Monday, November 29, 2004

ToxicPurity Reviews Team America: World Police

Short Review: WATCH THIS FILM! FUN-NEEEE!

Longer Review: The very instant I first heard about this film I knew it would be funny. The guys who created South Park, satirising America's War On Terror, with marionettes.

Not since Peter Jackson's Meet The Feebles (1989) has there been an R-rated musical action-comedy puppet film like this. Or ever, come to think of it. It has been described as an equal opportunity offensive film. It has a plot loosely based around a conspiracy by Kim Jong Il to use the Film Actors' Guild (F.A.G.) to destroy the world. Never mind, it's not important. It has the single most explicit sex scene you are ever going to see outside of a porn flick, and which you will be able to watch with your loved ones. (And remember, it was the sex scene they had to re-cut nine times before the censors were placated; the decapitations, maulings, and assorted bood and gore of the violence was okay, but puppets performing fellatio was a no-no.)

Skribe and I scored a double pass to the preview screening tonight at Greater Union Innaloo thanks to the wonderful folks at Flicktease, and I can honestly say this is the funniest film we've seen all year. Probably the funniest the rest of the audience had seen, too, judging by all the laughter, groans, and applause.

From the opening sequence which introduces Team America and leading to the accidental destruction of the Eiffel Tower and the Arch of Triumph, to the unrepeatable inspirational speech at the end, this film just kept topping itself. You will laugh as the over-zealous Team America blows up half a city to kill one terrorist, you will groan as Gary pukes on and on and on, you will leave the cinema humming Kim Jong Il's song "I'm So Ronery".

South Park purists may bitch that the film has recycled some of the gags and even a song from the cartoon series, but they're missing the point. Team America is supposed to be a pastiche of bad over-the-top action flicks; it's devouring its own genre as much as it's drawing on the body of previous work created by Matt Stone and Trey Parker. If you can't laugh at yourself, if you aren't prepared to deal with parody, then don't see this film.

Astoundingly, Team America somehow manages to be both biting satire and (apparently) proudly patriotic at the same time, leaving one with the conclusion that Trey Parker and Matt Stone are among the very few USians who have mastered the fine art of irony. If that's not enough, you have to watch it for the sheer beauty of the production design and technical wizardry. This is beyond Thunderbirds, but it is also delightfully self-aware, and utterly ludicrously hilarious in true South Park mode.

Trey Parker and Matt Stone were right: sex, death, terrorism... is funnier with puppets.

I'm rating this 9 out of 10 instead of giving it the full 10, because the film-makers should have put in longer gaps between gags so the audience wouldn't keep laughing over dialogue and missing the next joke.

TIP: Stay til the end of the credits to hear Kim Jong Il's other song, which explains why he does what he does in the film, and why he therefore hates Alec Baldwin so much.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

QOTD

It's terribly important that people decide for themselves who are the terrorists and who are not. Governments that think that they can decide for their citizens are merely tyrants, and tyrants often fall when they become intolerable.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

QOTD

"As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."

-- H. L. Mencken (1880 - 1956)

Friday, November 26, 2004

QOTD

I am a very temperamental dish-rag.

-- ToxicPurity

Endings, Stallings, and Ringings

Today marks the end of assorted eras. Skribe and I actually set the alarm for six so we would hear all of Wil and Adam's farewell episode. I'm going to miss these guys. They've been my default morning alarm for so long I can't imagine what it will be like waking up to some one else's prattle. Sure, Wil and Adam have had their holiday replacements, usually some other Triple J hosts who may well own their timeslots but haven't a clue what wake-up radio really needs. When you're lying there resolutely ignoring the alarm and trying to hang on to the last shreds of sleep, you don't want pleasant, well-informed, and nice. What you want - what you need - is bizarre, bewildering, and probably obscene. At least, that's what it sounds like. At that time of your day, you need a reason to be dragged out of bed, and trying to work out if Wil just said what you thought he said, or whether there's any truth to the weird shit Adam has just shared with you about the funky world of higher mathematics... well, it was a wake-up routine that worked.

Still, Jay and the Doctor as the replacement hosts would be fun. It's already been listed in the Wikipedia so it absolutely has to happen now :)

Speaking of other endings, tonight marks the last episode of Burke's Backyard, or the end of ordinariness, as the Don would have it. Until I came to Australia, I could never have conceived of a gardening show as prime time television, and I will confess that for the longest time, while not exactly a fan of the show, it remained one of the few Channel 9 programs I would watch. Hey, on a Friday night, it was often the least idiotic thing on air. Hoo-roo, Don Burke. No doubt you will resurface on another channel. I mean, there's a gardening slot on the ABC now, isn't there?, and the George Negus show has gone, too. Ah, well. C'est la televisione.

On to things that matter, like learning how to drive like there's no driver in the car.

Noel sent me on a leisurely cruise up to Guildford and back, which helped my confidence on the roads no end. Then on Thursday, Noel sent me through the tunnel so I could learn to merge with traffic at 80k.

That was interesting. Almost metaphysical, in fact. For the half minute or whatever that I was screaming through the tunnel, trapped between a wall of concrete and a wall of trucks, fluorescent lighting throbbing epileptically overhead and no end in sight... it was like experiencing some weird haiku metaphor of my life - hurtling down some too-tight too-long tunnel too fast on overwatch and always one eye on the speedo and another on the trucks all around you and your knuckles whitening on the wheel and you're not thinking anymore - you just want out of there.

After that, we stuttered round the Scitech carpark and practiced reverse parking while not running over incidental groups of small children, then completely failed to hill-park in East Perth.

Not a good day all round, and my apologies to everyone who got stuck behind me at lights while I flailed with the clutch.

On the up side, I have a phone! yay! Well, yes, I had a phone before, but now it works! yay! And because a certain mobile phone service provider with a numeral for a name still hasn't figured out how to port over Skribe's number from his previous mobile phone service provider, we've scored free leather phone cases and a sizeable chunk of credit.

It is quite possible, if said unnamed mobile phone service provider keeps this level of service up, that it will result in them paying off our phones entirely. I can't think when I last applauded a phone company for being inept. Fingers crossed, I hope they keep this up :)

One point five

Day fifteen. The fifteenth day since you got your phone. It's twenty-eight days since this entire mad journey began.

You are still waiting. Three days ago you went to visit Stephen again. He spent several hours - yes, hours - talking to Three Customer Care on your behalf. Eventually he got a promise. One of the phones would be ported that day. The other would be ported within 24 hours.

If one is an optimist one might say that half-a-promise kept is better than no promise kept. But you are not an optimist. You're just fucking mad, because your best friend's phone was ported two days ago, and you're still waiting. At least you can console yourself knowing that every day of delay earns you and costs them $25.

Monday, November 22, 2004

AU

It's amazing how important those two little letters can be. Especially in a web address. For the Australian Idol winner. When you're making up full page newspaper ads that will be published across the country. Proudly supported by Telstra.

Instead they went with this address: www.caseydonovan.com.

I wonder if anybody noticed.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Plastic Fantastic

Yes, we all know that it's important to save the environment, and we all know that reducing plastic bag usage serves as a vital component to achieving that. However, Woolworths has gone a little too far in their diligence, don't you think?





And yes, this was taken with my phone.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Living In The Sixth Best Country In Europe the World.

The Economist journal has just published a poll listing the best (and worst) countries to live in, and Australia comes in at no. 6, the only non-European nation to feature in the entire Top 10. Yeah, I wasn't impressed either. Should've been no.1. Admittedly, if not for us, that Top 10 would have been the Ten Best Places In Europe To Live In.

So, what's it feel like living in the Sixth Best Country In Europe the World? Hmm... well, it's our day off, so that's always nice. Being in a position where we can have days off, that's even better.

Having shiny new phones that were last year's newest model in Asia is nice, even if our new service provider still can't port us over from our previous service provider. (Why is their company name a number, one is forced to wonder. What quantity of thing is being implied in their name? Weeks? Months?) But it is fun having a phone I can play my MP3s on, and take pictures with, and cruise the internet, and use as a really high-tech mirror..., real soon now, I'll even be able to use my shiny new phone to take calls with.

I've finished my first round of driving lessons! Wow. I can start at a red light without stalling. Mostly. I can change gears without the car making those horrible crunching, grinding noises. No more burnouts or kangarooing about the place. I can even concentrate on two things simultaneously while driving (speed + steering, steering + gears, gears + speed...etc). Next round of lessons, Noel's going to see if he can get me working on all three at the same time. I like Noel - he's such an optimist.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, according to that Economist poll, the very worst country you could live in is Zimbabwe. Frankly, that's reason enough for me to be happy to be living way over at this end of the alphabet.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

1.9

Your phone has brought you much contentment, but you are still pissed at not having had your number ported across from your old service. So, during a lull in your day's activities you ring Three Customer Care (also known as Calcutta).

You get through almost immediately and you believe it is probably because you are using your new mobile to make the call. Now you know why it normally takes so long to be answered when using a landline. Landline calls only get their attention when all the Three mobile calls have been cleared. Or that's what you suspect.

The woman who takes your call asks you the usual details. You give them and then ask her when the numbers will be ported over. As usual she hums and hahs and hmmms as she reads the details off the computer screen.

Evidently, this is some sort of feminine mannerism that is prevalent on the subcontinent because every single one of Three's female customer service officers you've encountered on this zany journey has done exactly the same thing. Strangely the men don't.

She hmms a few more times and then calmly tells you that your contract has been cancelled. Yesterday. By someone named Tina. Now, you know that Kim cancelled the original contract the previous Wednesday - remember Adam checked that the following Thursday - so it can't be that one so it must be the one that you got from the Three store. You calmly explain to the woman that it can't have been cancelled because you have the phones and that you're using one of them to make this call. She is adamant. But so are you. Your manner seems to cast some doubt into her mind and she puts you on hold so she can check with her manager.

Moments later she returns with the same story. Someone named Tina has cancelled the contract. 'Where's the authorisation?' you ask her. She says that none was needed. 'Can you do anything about this? Can you reinstate it?' She's unsure and puts you on hold again.

Fortunately your first three bills are free because you're going to need it. She's gone a long time. You're tempted to hang-up and a small part of your brain is wondering if you've somehow managed to score two $700 phones for free. 'If Three come looking for them,' you reason, 'I'll point them in Tina's direction.'

Eventually the woman returns - this call has already lasted 16 minutes - and from there on it becomes a shouting match. Every time you say something the woman's response is that the only people that can fix the problem is the shop where you bought the phone. This really pisses you off and you hang up as she's mid-mantra.

You storm off to the Three store - where you bought the phone - hoping to catch Adam. 'Adam will sort this shit out,' you think. Instead of Adam you get Stephen.

Now, from previous experience you've decided that Stephen is mostly competent but Adam is better. Stephen proves you wrong. Stephen calls the service centre immediately. While he's waiting on hold you ask him if there is a Tina working at the store. 'No,' he replies.

A few queries and comments on the phone and Stephen has the problem fixed in no time. He even arranges for you to receive a bonus $25 credit for every day the number isn't ported. ON BOTH PHONES. He still reckons it could take until Monday for the numbers to be ported. But you don't care. At $25 per day per phone, you reckon you could wait at least until the middle of December without complaint. After all, that way you really would get the phones for free.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Two

The 96 hours have long passed and your phone numbers still haven't been ported over. You've been carrying around two phones now for the better part of a week and have found that there is at least one advantage to doing so - that you can listen to your 5 mp3 tunes on one phone and check the time on the other. You have forgone wearing a watch now for almost four years - it's so 18th century. However you still have an irrational fear that one day, when you have your tunes turned up loud, someone is going to tap you on the shoulder and point out that your other phone has been ringing for the past five minutes and could you please answer it. Of course the other irrational fear you have is that they'll both ring at exactly the same time.

By now you're starting to really get pissed at the level of customer service and so you ring up Goa to find out when the numbers will be ported. Strangely enough it takes less than five minutes to get through to a human being and so you're more than a little surprised when an unaccented female voice inquires about your problem. 'Maybe I have the wrong number,' you think. You decide to answer anyway and before long the woman has your record up on her screen and is reading the details back to you. You stress that the number porting is taking entirely too long and she agrees with you - although you do note that when she is placed under stress traces of a sub-continent accent peeks out. She says that she will have to have someone call you. You ask, 'In an hour, six hours, a day?' She answers that it will depend on the queue and that it will be between the hours of nine and five. You ask her, 'Is that Eastern, Western or where you are?' She ignores the obvious implication of your question and politely informs you that all times are Australian Eastern Standard Time.

You hang-up and go about your day. Half-an-hour later you receive a call. It is a woman. An Australian woman. From Three services. She mumbles and so it takes a moment to understand what she's saying. You get her to repeat it. 'I'm from Three Services and I'm ringing because you said you wished to cancel your contract.' You get her to repeat it a third time. Not because you didn't hear her the second time, but because you can't believe what you just heard and need further evidence of the Universe's vast practical joke that is your life. 'No,' you answer levelly, 'I just want my numbers ported over.' 'Oh,' she says, obviously taken aback. It sounds like she's pumped herself up ready for a fight and now that energy has nowhere to go. 'I'll call you back,' she says and hangs up before you have a chance to ask her when. She never does.

And so we enter Day Six...

Sunday, November 14, 2004

ToxicPurity's Favourite Odd Things This Week

Ever wanted to go hunting, but just couldn't drag yourself out of your armchair? Wished you could just point a remote control at the beastie and BOOM! It's dead? Well, these guys thought so, too.

The fabled lost continent of Atlantis has been spotted yet again.

They say that when dog bites man, it isn't news, but when man bites dog, that's news. Awwww.

According to experts, the biggest cause of computer malfunctions is human idiocy. They didn't quite put it so bluntly, but we all know someone who's dropped coffee/beer/cola all over their keyboard, or backed their car over their laptop, or stuck a fridge magnet to their computer, or....

Now, techies can add to their horror stories the one about the guy who stuck his hard drive in the freezer, or the guy who tried to flush his laptop down the toilet, or the laptop that was run over by a plane.

And finally, just in case you thought there was nothing of educational worth here, I present you with the true history of the Hello, Kitty vibrator.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

QotD

"If Yasser Arafat is dead, and the Middle East is in turmoil, how will we know?"

- Wil Anderson, on the Glass House

Friday, November 12, 2004

Three

It is Thursday and you realise that after 4 years you need to upgrade your phone. The battery is dying, the gaffer tape is coming loose and the sim card keeps popping out. So you go to your friend, who just happens to work as a communications agent, and you say, 'Kim', because that's his name, 'I need to upgrade my phone. The Sony Ericsson Z1010 and the $99 cap from 3 looks good. We'll take two. How about it?" One for yourself and one for your best friend - because under the $99 plan you can chat to anyone on the Three network for FREE.

Kim smiles and says, "Good choice," his irises forming tiny dollar signs, and then proceeds to deluge you with paperwork. An hour later you're finished and Kim leaves with this promise ringing in your ears, 'You'll have the phones by Thursday or Friday next week and the transfer of your number from Optus will occur on the following Monday.'

You wait anxiously, pawing over the small pamphlet Kim has left behind trying to imagine what it will be like to have your very own Z1010. The week-end rolls by agonisingly and then on Monday you get a call from a Three girl asking for some more details that Kim forgot to get. You give them to her without a thought and then ask her when the phones will be arriving. 'Thursday or Friday', she says. You agonise. You wait. Thursday eventually arrives. You sit by the door all day watching through the spyhole ready to assail the delivery guy when he arrives. You've waited an entire week, why wait the extra few nanoseconds it will take for him to actually knock on the door? Then, as the image through the spyhole dims you swear you're just developing cataracts rather than admit that the phones aren't coming today.

A sleepless night. The next day you are forced to go to work - yes your work week starts on a Friday. Get over it. Your mind is not there. You make mistake after mistake worrying about your phones and the journey you'll have to make out to the airport to retrieve them because the delivery guy missed you. 'Will I actually survive that long?' you wonder.

You arrive home from work and rush to the letter box. Bill. Bill. Spam. Spam. Spam. No message from the delivery guy. He must have left it behind the flyscreen. You race upstairs and throw the door open. Nothing. Not even after you've searched the mat, the meter box, the cat, the next door neighbour's cat. The phones are late. You call Kim, but like most telco guys on a weekend he's not answering.

If you thought the week before was agonising then the weekend teaches you a new definition of pain and suffering. You want your phones. You need your phones. You sit in the corner, rocking back and forward, repeating 'Z. 10. 10. Z. 10. 10." for two days and three nights.

Monday. 8am you're on the phone to Kim. 'Good business men should be awake at 6. 8 is a decent hour', you reason. No answer. You call Three. You wait for 30 minutes on hold and then are put through to the call centre in Lahore or Mumbai or Chennai to speak with a girl named Brooke - or at least that's what you think she said her name was. The accent is a little hard to decipher and you have to keep fighting the urge to mention the Australian cricket team. You want your phones and now is not the time to antagonise the person most likely to get them to you.

Brooke takes your details and you can hear her entering them into the computer. She hums. She hahs. She hmmms. Then politely tells you you don't exist. They've lost the record. She continues to reassure you that they'll find it and sort it out in no time but you don't hear her because all you're worrying about is that you won't be getting your phones today or even tomorrow. Then the words 'Wednesday or Thursday' echo from the phone speaker and you make Brooke swear on a herd of Brahman bulls that they will definitely arrive then.

You wait. 5 minutes. Then you call Kim. No answer. Another 5 minutes. No answer. Shower. Call. No answer. Breakfast. Call. No answer. Journey to work. Call. No answer. Stare at the computer screen for 2 hours pretending to work. The phone rings. It's Kim. He's listens to your complaint and promises to follow it up and call you back later that day. He doesn't.

Another sleepless night. Another call to Kim in the morning. 'I don't know what's happening', he says. 'I've lost 5 customers this week.' Perhaps his work week starts on a Friday too. 'I'll tell you what we'll do,' he continues, 'Give them until tomorrow and then if there're no sign of the phones we'll cancel the contract and you can go into a Three store and they'll give you one in 20 minutes.' You agree and you hang-up wondering why you didn't do this nearly 2 weeks ago.

Wednesday. No Phones. Call Kim. Cancel contract. Go into City. Hay St store. Stephen serves you. He's a cool guy. A little too cool, but he's friendly and mostly competent so you can deal with that. You tell him what has happened. He smiles and tells you there won't be a problem and that you should never ever deal with agents. He just smiles and nods when you tell him that the problem was with Three and not with the agent.

He takes your details. Puts them right into the computer there and then. 100 point ID check. Everything okay until the credit check. Your credit is great. You know there's not a problem, but the system won't let Stephen sign you up because of the previous application - through Kim. 'You'll have to come back tomorrow,' Stephen tells you. You smile and are fairly sure he never saw the clenched teeth behind it. Before you leave you make him promise that he'll start charging the phone batteries as soon as the credit check is done. That way you'll be able to use the phones straight away and not have to wait. Stephen readily agrees.

That night you download the manual from the Sony-Ericsson website. You paw over it memorising every detail especially the fact that it takes 4 hours to initially charge the battery.

Thursday. 9am. You attempt to call the store to remind Stephen to charge the batteries - and if you passed the credit check. 90 minutes later you manage to get hold of Stephen, via the website, the yellow pages, the white pages and New Delhi. 'You passed,' he says gleefully. 'Just hold on a moment.' You can hear him singing loudly to himself and you know he's dancing as well. 'Yep. You passed.' You remind him about the batteries. He assures you that he'll put them on right away. You check the time. 10:35. At 14:36 you should have your phones - fully charged and ready to go.

You take extra care with your shaving and showering. You get out your best clothes. Today is a special day.

At 13:29 you head into the city - taking your time, enjoying your day off. You arrive at the store at 14:02 and wait. Stephen is out the back and will be with you shortly. That's okay. You have 27 minutes and 17 seconds until your batteries are fully charged in any case. You're early. You wait. Look at some of the other phone models available. You avoid touching the mock-up of the Z1010 lest the temptation become too much. You wait. You sit. And eventually Stephen comes out and immediately hands you over to Adam - the store manager. Adam is cool, but not too cool like Stephen. He's a businessman but a friendly one. Stephen has told him all about you. Adam is sympathetic, and reminds you never to use an agent. He smiles and nods when you tell him that the problem was with Three and not with the agent.

He takes the last of your details. Lets you use his mobile so you can call Optus to get your account number so the transition will go smoothly.

After 10 minutes on hold you decide to walk the 20 or so metres to the Optus store to get the details yourself. After all, you have 17 minutes until the batteries are fully charged. You go to Optus and wait while the solitary attendant is serving another customer. Then when she serves you, you ask her for your account number. She's eager to please. Too eager, because she breaks the law by providing you with your best friend's account number too - you have 2 phones, remember?

You return to the Three store and from there on everything goes smoothly. Adam delivers the phones to you with a smile - all fully charged. He then tells you that it will take anything up to 24 hours for the transfer to occur. You barely hear him. You have your phone and it's silver. You depart the store bouncing. You're awake until 1am playing with your phone. You sleep with it beside your pillow - set its alarm function to wake you in the morning.

Next morning - today - you eagerly wake and grab your phone to call your best friend - the person who is half-asleep less than 20cm from you. 'That Three service is unavailable.' comes the voice in your ear. It sounds nothing like your best friend. Oh well, it could take another 6-7 hours to transfer.

2 hours later you receive a call from Kim - on your old phone. 'Did you manage to get into a Three store and get your phones?' 'Yes,' you tell him, 'Why?' 'Because two phones for you were just delivered to me.' 'You cancelled the contract didn't you?' 'Sure did. They must have been in transit. I'll send them back.'

5 hours later. Try calling out again. Same message. Call Calcutta direct via old phone. Told it could take another 96 hours for the transfer because of the influx of new Three customers. Pout. Hang-up. Continue pretending to work. Instead copy mp3s over to your phone. Copy mp3s from your phone to your best friend's phone via Infra-red and Bluetooth. Listen to mp3s on the way home. Feel good even though you can't call anyone to tell them about your new hoopy phone.

Get home. Write blog about the last two weeks.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

When "Actually" Means Someone Made It Up

When people asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I'd say "Journalist", and everyone would ooh and ahh and nod in amused approval. So young and already so serious-minded, they were probably thinking. Actually, the way I figured it, it was an indoors job with air-conditioning plus travel to exciting warzones.

Well, now I'm allegedly grown up, I know for a fact that real journalists spend all their time buried in research, and get about as much respect as lawyers, used car salesmen, and reporters who work for any Rupert Murdoch news service.

Oddly enough, something of the old-quest-for-the-truth urge must have been immanent even in my childhood - then, and now, I've always been driven to find out how things work, and what things really mean, and is-it-true..?

Like, is it true that the word "butterfly" actually developed from the description that the insect "flutters by"? No, since the word "butterfly" predates the word "flutter" by a good few hundred years, and "butterfly" occurs in related languages to English with the similar meaning of something yellowy (like butter) that flies.

Is it true that the expression "rule of thumb" actually once referred to the thickness of a rod a man was once legally allowed to hit his wife with. No, it refers to the once common practice of referencing body parts as measuring aids. Really. Back before metric. People had more important things to measure, like wool and cloth, and if they wanted to hit their spouses they used their fists.

And is it true that everybody's favourite four-letter word actually began in Olden Times as an acronym for "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" or "Fornication Under Consent of the King"? Insert some colourful anectdote about rapists and adulterers being punished by wearing sign around their necks, or some other equally colourful anectdote about the supposed rights of monarchs in Olden Times.

Good bloody grief. Sure, "fuck" is a funny-looking word, but it's real. It's from a Germanic root word. (Oh, ha ha.) As opposed to all those claims made in those stupid email lists that people keep sending me, not because the lists are hilarious, but because they genuinely believe the lists are true. Doesn't anyone look up a dictionary anymore?

I like that us humans are such a bloody inventive people, I love the creative impulses that drive us to gossip, share jokes, scare each other silly with campfire ghost stories, and just plain bullshit one another over a beer or a cup of English Breakfast. It's one of our defining characteristics, our great socialising capacity.

I hate that we've grown so lazy we'll accept anything old cock, however blatantly ludicrous, as the truth, instead of taking a moment to check the facts. One mouseclick! Maybe two! I hate that we seem to be losing our sense of irony, and seem instead to be embracing credulousness.

You want words with funny meanings? How about "plagiarism", that started off as a description of the theft of someone else's slave or child, rather than the theft of ideas that we understand today. Or "boudoir", it wasn't a lady's private chamber, it comes from a French word meaning "to pout, to sulk".

There's more, of course. But it involves looking them up for yourself, making discoveries of your own, on the weird and wonderful little oddities that have accumulated over hundreds of years of English. Just don't email me a list of them, thanks.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

ToxicPurity Learns To Drive

Noel fears I'm turning into a revhead, now that I'm up to my third burnout from a standing start. Am trying to persuade him that he needs to teach me to do donuts and handbrake turns, so I know how to do it right, of course, but he's not falling for it.

I think I'm still taking corners a little too fast for his liking. On the one hand, after all that business with checking your blind spots and mirrors and signalling and hugging the kerb without actually running into the kerb and braking and clutching in to a rolling stop...etc, it's hardly surprising I'll forget a little thing like gearing down to 2nd, is it.

Other than that, I've surprised myself with how much I'm enjoying this. I don't know what exactly it was about driving that seemed so intimidating before. It all seemed so unnecessarily complicated, perhaps. Well, it is complicated, but there's a certain logic to the sequence of actions involved, most of which are gradually beginning to become apparent even to me: It's all about clutch control, damnit!

When Noel first put me on the road, I'd do little things to make an otherwise stressful situation more interesting, like confuse the accelerator for the brake, stall on a right-hand turn against traffic, miss 3rd gear entirely and stick it into 5th...etc. Little things like that. Little things that would prompt Noel to leap for the handbrake, and talk in extremely conversatonal tones about how the driving centre is shortly about to get dual-control vehicles, and wouldn't that be nice?

Noel still leaps for the handbrake now and again, and invokes the holy hoped-for dual controls, but not quite as often anymore. I take this as a sure sign that I'm definitely getting better at this driving thing. Or else, Noel's simply too petrified with terror to react. Either's likely, I suppose.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Twilight of Sanity - Oddbits of Oddity

A strange time this, between All Hallows' Eve and the US federal elections, like coming out of an Evil Dead movie marathon to learn that Bush won in Sri Lanka.

The joy of Halloween is that it's a festival of death and the dead - the only one in the Western calendar. It's a time to embrace the inevitable and laugh at it, to acknowledge our morbid fascination with ghasts and ghouls and goths, to caricature ourselves as belly-dancers and zombies and IPods, and ultimately to celebrate being alive here and now.

Halloween isn't a big deal here in Australia, nor in Singapore, but for a lot of people it's still an excuse to dress up and party.

Not that Australians need much convincing. Take today: Melbourne Cup Day. It's probably the most significant homegrown holiday after Anzac Day, and it's a ruddy horse race. It's only a matter of time before they make it a proper official holiday, even here in Perth. Go on, convince me your workplace didn't have a pool on. Or there wasn't a hat thing happening. Most people I know don't dress up for weddings, funerals, or even the courts, but come Melbourne Cup Day, and suddenly sensible women have to mince around in ludicrously high heels and feathered hats.

Maybe it's a female thing. Like spending more time in the toilets then men. Although these days it could be because us girls are reading in there. Some bright spark at Libra apparently decided that the packaging on <POLITE>feminine hygiene products</POLITE> just isn't fun and funky enough. So they came up with the punfully named Odd Spots! a random list of excitingly fun and funky bits of trivia such as:

Odd Spot #76 Until 1990, sausages were still legal tender in East Germany.

Odd Spot #105 The reason honey is so easy to digest is that it's already been digested by a bee.

Odd Spot #125 The electric chair was invented by a dentist.


Next time someone drops a "Hey, did you know..?" like that out of the blue into an otherwise sane conversation, you'll know where they got it from.

Precedence

It is very human to lie. All of us do it, even if we are not aware that we do. It is second nature to us, so it is only natural that our political representatives spend a great deal of their time obfuscating, but it always comes at a risk. Until now. The recent victory by the Conservative Coalition has set a new and dangerous precedent.

In the past if a politician flat-out lied or knowingly misled and they were caught they would be forced to resign. Parliamentary tradition dictated this. One only has to look back to the Howard government's first term to see evidence of it. IIRC six ministers were forced to resign in the first year alone and most for even the barest hint of impropriety - at least compared today's standards. If there was no resignation the media and public outcry could conceivably bring down the government. How things have changed in the intervening eight years.

Since then we have had Children Overboard and Iraq. In both cases the Australian citizens have been knowingly misled and caught the perpetrators at it. And yet those responsible refused to follow the tradition and resign. At the recent election not only wasn't the government punished for this they were rewarded with an increased majority.

Now the precedent has been set. Politicians can lie and cheat with impunity. We said that that was okay. Now, when we say 'all politicians lie' we know exactly who to blame. Ourselves.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Toxic Purity Learns To Drive Part... (insert number)+2

So now you know my terrible secret: I have absolutely no head for numbers. None. Nada. Zero. Free! I mean, Niente. Where were we? Numbers, right. Can't keep track of them. Break the sequence, and I'm lost. Today's date? Not a clue.

Other things I haven't a clue about: the verifiable existence of the other driving instructor Wendy, which I can't prove, and whom I am beginning to suspect is an utterly made-up person.

And gears. They have numbers. Therefore, cannot keep satisfactory grip on them. However, am getting much better with changing gears while taking corners and while not running into things like buses, streetlights or even kerbs.

Can reverse drive just about anywhere as long as it's in a straight line.

Can mostly drive while holding conversations about random topics, such as Hollywood flicks, weather, and the score value of runnng over jaywalkers who don't bother to check for traffic.

Did my first burn-out at some lights. Have no idea how, so unlikely to ever deliberately replicate it :(

Also still have no idea how to figure out where I am while on the road since all street signs appear designed to be read tangential to direction of travel. (Is it really asking too much to have the name of the street stencilled onto the road at convenient intervals? They can do it for Stop, and Slow, and Speed Bumps Ahead, but they can't tell you what ruddy road you're hurtling along at 60k/h?)

Assuming I get my licence, have resolved never to drive above second gear for the rest of my natural life. And to get a GPS interface permanently inserted into my skull so I'll always know where I am, right down to the seconds, not that that helps with street names.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

QOTD

Those people who support Bush have gotten so used to being rammed up the arse with a hot poker by him that they're starting to enjoy it.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

When Movies Invade Reality

So, Hobbits really did exist (and they lived on a tropical island alongside small dragons and Rats Of Enormous Size, and they hunted pygmy elephants); and US President George Bush is really just a movie villain, albeit the scariest movie villain in recent cinema.

I'll buy that. Explains a lot, actually. Not the most convincing performance of a US President in my memory, but without doubt one of the most genuinely terrifying portrayals of modern evil.

It's an interesting experience living in a reality that can produce both of these findings. I love when the universe plays head games with me.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

TV Highlights

1. Jinkies! If it weren't for those meddlin' kids, the Simpsons would have got the record for most episodes ever produced for an animated series.

Too many easy jokes. Just too many. So I'll just say that, personally, there is one area in which the old Scooby Doo show beats hands down the Simpsons show any day: Velma. She always was, and always will be, my model for geek womanhood. And she has her own catchphrase :)


2. Speaking of which, in a a recent US poll, Homer Simpson is apparently the people's preferred choice for US President. In response to the poll, Homer has pledged that "...there will be fewer nuclear disasters with me as your mayor than with me as your nuclear safety inspector."

Now there's an episode they haven't done yet.


3. Of course, you probably already thought of it but couldn't do a thing about it. Sick of passively watching other people's TV shows? Well, imagine a TV show where you, the viewing public, get to text in what happens next.

The concept of personalised TV programmes is being touted as the next step in interactive entertainment.

Frankly, after editing TV programmes all day, I'm not sure I can stomach editing TV programmes all evening, in real time, for fun.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

The Week In Brief

1. On the same day we learnt of Tony's death, the boss's granddaughter was born. Hello, Nikita. Or as the boss himself put it: "Ah, yes, another child to hang on the Christmas tree."

Gotta love that wacky East European sense of humour.


2. Noel's recovered from his flu, but Wendy still wasn't available, so I did both lessons this week with good old Noel. On Wednesday, after warming up with U-turns on Moore St, he took me out to the Horation/Nile circuit again and had me get up to 4th gear. This was particularly exciting because 4th gear is a hell of a long way to gear down from when you're on a turn, approaching a corner, flailing for the inidcator, checking your mirrors, and then suddenly you're at the intersection having to avoid the ruddy big Blue Cat sitting on the most inconvenient point of your turning arc. That's when I mounted the near kerb, missed the pole (and the Blue Cat), still in 3rd gear, while Noel clutched his shirtfront and said, "Oh, my heart!" We stayed out of 4th gear by mutual consent after that.


3. Noel, however, is an optimist. Thursday saw me navigate through the centre's shared carpark and out onto Wellington. I don't entirely remember how I got into the new development in East Perth, since I was dealing with real traffic and lights for the first time in my life, and I was in a state of near terror all that way. After a respite reversing down a slope and hill-starting (deliberately), Noel sent me out into real traffic once again, and this time I was prepared for it. This time I could handle 4th gear. This time I enjoyed it even, though I have only the foggiest idea where I was, but we were up past the East Perth Railway Station and we did pass the Australian Naval Association at some point (they have a torpedo and a sea mine in their front yard, you can't miss it). I pointed out to Noel that I tend to get distracted easily. He said I was doing just fine. I like Noel. He's very reassuring. Even when I keep stalling the car at the lights, and there's traffic backing up behind us.


4. Channel 31 are a bunch of incompetents. Instead of broadcasting the Penelope episode this week for Gallery Watch, they re-broadcast an earlier episode on Regina Noakes by accident. So the entire Gallery Watch schedule has been pushed back a week, Penelope is understandably annoyed, and the next couple of shows on current exhibitions - like the WA Cartoonists Retrospective at Constitution House - are going to be irrelevant by the time they air. Unbelievable.


5. 109 votes. 2 weeks after the Federal Elections - two weeks of recounting postal and absentee votes and scraping every last vote out of every last cardboard ballot box - incumbent Kim Wilkie was finally declared the winner in the seat of Swan. By 109 votes. It's official, Skribe and I live in the most marginal (read: indecisive) seat in all the wide brown land of Australia. How lovely to know that come next election, we're going to be the target of even more political proselytising than anybody else. It's nice to be needed.


6. Skribe and I are taking Sunday off. We haven't had a Sunday off since whenever, and if we can't figure out when that was, it's definitely time to take the day off. Maybe check out the Open Day at Government House. Maybe catch up on sleep.

Monday, October 18, 2004

In Memoriam: Tony Styles

You don't know Tony, but he's dead.

He used to volunteer his admin skills at CTV, and is to this day still the only person I've ever known actually make the office work. He had a dry sense of humour, always wore shorts to work, and could charm the skin off a snake over the phone. He was also a pain in the arse sometimes, but you don't get to be a killer admin guy without the patience, hide, and cunning of a crocodile.

After some months absence, he was coming back this Friday to admin again.

Instead, a couple of days ago, he died on the couch watching TV. Just like that. Deep vein thrombosis is suspected. Is that even possible? I don't know.

I'm not even sure how old he was. 38? 42? We'd chat in the office, but I spent most of my hours upstairs at an editing suite and he'd be downstairs orchestrating order out of chaos.

People die all the time, are dying right now, out of view, out of knowledge. Every now and then, someone dies that you know, however casually, and it unsettles the picture of the world you carry around inside your head. It's like an actor has gone backstage, but not returned on his cue. It's like you've just put a book down for a moment, and now it's not there anymore. Gone.

Tony's dead. He won't get to travel again, nor explain why today's mass media education is a failure, nor tell any more jokes about having been an exec-level civil servant.

Ciao, Tony.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Toxic Purity's Makan Review

I've never been particularly adapt at being Singaporean, but there's one trait that still marks my origins in that tiny island state: their national obsession for good, cheap food.

Yesterday I tried out the new eatery on Barrack St, Prima Taste, which is apparently a Singaporean franchise specialising in, well, Singaporean favourites like Chilli Crab and Prawn Noodles. In fact, it's not so much an eatery as an outlet for Prima Taste cooking products that's been cleverly disguised as an eatery.

First up, the smell. The second you walk in, you know the food's good. The place smells exactly right. Second, the service. Early days, a couple of teething problems, running short on items like lids for takeaway containers. But the aroma. You can forgive them anything when it smells right.

Like their Nasi Lemak. All I did for the first 30 seconds was inhale. Short of serving it all tucked up inside a newspaper and banana leaf package, it was the genuine article. The delicately rich fragrance of the rice, the nutty-salty crunch of the ikan bilis (anchovies), the sambal, the crispy boiled egg... Nothng like the 50cent Nasi Lemaks we scrambled for on Mondays at recess time back when I was in primary school, or even the $2 version at the market near my parents' home back in Singers, but for a high end affair, the Prima Taste version was damned good. At $6.50, it was one of their cheaper meals. An Aussie-priced Singaporean-sized meal. Prima Taste can't lose either way, it seems.

Now, their food is excellent. But what you get for what you pay is going to be an issue. Why would any sane person - however homesick they are - pay $7 for a Mee Goreng, when they can stroll up Murray St to the nearby Karache Cafe (another Singaporean franchise) and pay just $4? Tastes just as good, bigger portion, and no waiting at Karache.

And there's the menu. It may not be as extensive as say, Han's Authentic (ha!) Cafe, but it's not designed to be. Quality vs Quantity. These guys are prepared to stake their success on a discerning (read: fussy) customer base with a select handful of classic Singaporean dishes done well rather than overwhelm you with sheer numbers of similar offerings. I'm guessing they're targetting the 20,000 strong Singaporean expat population rather than the average Australian diner.

Even so, I suspect they'll be successful enough to hang around for a while. There're cheaper places to eat on that block, but they don't have any real direct competition in terms of quality and authentic makan-ness. I for one plan to go back there. If only for the aromas!

Saturday, October 16, 2004

skribe's pretend pop quiz

skribe spent his free day:

Working

All the above

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Toxic Purity's Pretend Pop Quiz

Toxic Purity spent her free day:

junking spam mail

doing the laundry

weeding the balcony (don't ask)

doing homework

getting the cat out of a tree

arranging to meet Skribe at the Vic Park transfer station and walking home so they can get in their daily 30 mins exercise and have a squizz at what's rocking down at McCallum Park

being delightfully bored out of her mind.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Toxic Purity Learns To... Um... Kill Time

Noel's not well this week, so no Thursday driving lesson. Instead, I booked a Wednesday morning class with Wendy. On the bus in, I get a call from the centre checking to see if I was aware that I had booked a driving lesson for that very morning. I confirmed that I was. All well and good. Five minutes later, I get another call from the centre. It seemed Wendy was unavailable all this week, something to do with it being the school holidays, and therefore my class had to be cancelled. But it was on for the next week. Oh, good. Like they couldn't have told me this the first time?

With my morning to kill, I went in to CTV and finished working on episode 12 of Gallery Watch (don't say I haven't got a life), which focuses on free-spirited artist and poet Penelope. Nice lady. Writes short poems.

Going in early consequently meant I finished early, which left me wondering what I was going to do for the two hours before TAFE, and which wouldn't neccessitate me carting my folio all round Perth or Northbridge. Simple - go hang out in an art gallery.

PICA has a couple of interesting exhibitions on. Well, it's PICA. Although this time around, the art's actually the most accessible I've ever seen. Almost commercial, in fact. Graffiti on canvas, posters and found objects that have been painted over, and the infamous Texta Nudes. For a change, it wasn't so much the art itself that was subversive or edgy, but the application of the art. Stealing posters from bus shelters to use as your canvas, drawing over the printed image of Aaliyah's publicity still from Queen of the Damned, and claiming authorship over the enhanced/vandalised result. That's naughty. That's sampling for the graphic media. And that's a pretty picture.

Disappointed I missed out on the colouring-in Texta sessions, which was a great interactive concept that got out of control, resulting in people drawing all over the walls with felt-tip pens, instead of on the canvases provided.

Ah, well. Gravity Games H20 starts tomorrow in my own backyard, just about, and I don't have to go back to the office 'til Monday. So. Hmmm... Wonder what I'll do to kill time tomorrow?

Sunday, October 10, 2004

QOTD

Heard while walking down Murray St Mall.

A couple walking joyfully hand-in-hand.

MAN: So, are you married?
WOMAN: Not anymore.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

The Post-Voting Malaise

12 hours later, and I feel sick. Channel 10's choice of movie tonight says it all really: The Mummy Returns. Seriously, what does it take to get that yellow-streaked fearmonger out of government? Howard the Coward is like the gray gooey glob you find on the sole of your best shoes that just won't be scraped off.

I'm not bitter the wrong man won. On the whole, I'm grateful to have taken part in this democratic process. Latham will come back stronger next election, because he'll be up against Costello, who has even less spine than Howard, if that's possible.

What makes me angry is that Howard and the Liberals will take this as their God-given right to go on doing all the crappy things they've done to us this past administration. The people of Australia (in Howard's egoistic little fantasy) will have granted him a mandate to lie, cheat, and sell away our birthrights, integrity, and basic human values.

Well, I did my best. I numbered the Liberals (does anyone else find their name an affront to common sense?) right down there with One Nation, Family First and the Christian Fascists. But I guess that old adage holds true: No matter who you vote for, the Government always wins.

The Pre-Voting Euphoria

Well, it's 9am on a damp but sunny Saturday morning on what is turning out to be another working weekend. No sweat. It's Election Day! Skribe and I are going voting! Yay!

Yes, I'm a civics geek, among other things. Breakfast? That can wait. The office? Later. This is important.

I love Election Day. I'm sorry it only comes round every few years, and I honestly can't understand people's lack of enthusiasm for it. This is not a chore - it's a privilege, our sacred right. And virtually the only duty expected of us as Australian citizens that's actually constructive and fun, too. (Okay, so I get excited about jury duty as well - it's so much fun! But taxes, we can at least all see eye to eye on taxes. Paying taxes is neccessary, but there's not much to get excited over. Taxes is not fun. But voting is!)

Ahem. It's Election Day. WOO-HOO! Yay! I'm going to number every single little box and make those preferences work, baby! Bye-bye, Jackboot Johnnie and all your prejudices and petty fears. It's time to live in the 21st century. Hello, Mr Latham and a future worth believing in.

I'm off to do some voting, some wonderful voting in Oz!*

*sung badly to We're Off To See The Wizard of Oz

Thursday, October 07, 2004

ToxicPurity Learns To Drive Part 3

No more carparks. No more safety zones. Today Noel handed me the keys and the first thing I had to do besides the preliminary checks and mirror adjustments... etc, was figure out how to get inside the damned vehicle to begin with. I really, really, don't have much experience with driving. Scared yet?

So we stuttered out onto Moore Street, which sees a hell of a lot more traffic than a deadend has any right to, and learnt U-Turns. Up and down the street and back again, dodging pedestrians, bike couriers, delivery trucks, a tree root and those pesky wayward kerbs.

We didn't get beyond 2nd gear this time, which was just as well, since the combination-action of clutch in, gear down, clutch out, mirrors, blindspot, indicator, clutch in (and brake), check, and turn, was just as likely to result in a perfectly executed U-turn as to strand us in the middle of the road broadside to oncoming traffic. Once. Or scraping the kerb. Twice. Which led to a quick refresher on reversing.

But who's counting?

At least I can now reverse out of a driveway. Now I just have to learn to not stall it where I will inconvenience other drivers.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Safe As Banks

83 - count them - 83 safety deposit boxes from a DBS bank in Hong Kong were accidentally sent to the crushers and scrapped, contents and all. Wouldn't you love to be one of those customers sitting down with the manager afterwards, detailing exactly what irreplaceable family heirlooms and valuables were kept in your safety deposit box and just how much the bank subsequently owes you for its admitted incompetence?

Of course, knowing the sort of things that some people hide in their safety deposit boxes, there're probably one or two relieved customers out there as well.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

And The Prize Goes To...

Coca-Cola, the Vatican, and the guy who patented the combover. It's a highly select company, but what could they possibly have in common?

Well, they are all recipients of the 2004 Ig Nobel Prize, which rewards scientific and academic endeavours of questionable value.

Coke won the Chemistry prize for the Dasani fiasco, the Vatican got the Economics prize for outsourcing prayers to India, and the Engineering prize went to the late Frank Smith for, you guessed it, the combover.

There were other categories, and other prizes, of course. You can find out all about it at the Ig Nobels site.

And the biggie? Who got the Ig Nobel Peace Prize? A certain Mr Daisuke Inoue of Japan, for teaching the peoples of the world an entirely new way to appreciate and celebrate our shortcomings - with a singalong. That's right, he invented Karaoke.

Clearly, his magic touch is needed in certain warzones right now.

All aboard

TP and I took advantage of our generous state government's offer and went train riding today - all for free. We visited the new station at Clarkson, which I must say looks pretty hoopy even though the male toilets were locked and 'won't be open until tomorrow' according to one of the guards. What if I can't hold it that long?

As fortune would have it, on our ride home we got to try out the new 'B-trains' which are due to come into service in the next few months. Whereas the old (current) trains have either 2 or 4 carriages the new ones have 3 or 6 thus giving them greater carrying capacity.

And, boy, do they move fast. We arrived back into Perth five minutes ahead of schedule, and this despite some teething problems which delayed us. I also got the feeling that the driver was being extremely cautious and not 'putting the pedal to the metal'. The ride is so smooth it barely feels like you're moving at all. I expect it to cut the trip up to Joondalup by about ten minutes once all the kinks have been ironed out.

All in all a great day.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Upgrade

Since 6pm last night I've been upgrading my workstation installing Mandrake 10.1 give or take an hour or two for sleep - so this might be a little weird or at least error-ridden. I have to say that even though it is a community release and therefore somewhat beta (experimental) Mandrake 10.1 is pretty nifty. I haven't upgraded this machine since 2001 because I need my copy of Final Draft and there was no other option for me. I'm now able to do stuff that I could only dream about 36 hours ago - such as play windows media files. Mandrake and linux has come a long way in three years.

Although it has taken me the better part of 24 hours to complete the upgrade, most of that time has been spent copying files over from my backup storage and configuring my desktop how I like it. It took me about three hours to import all my email (about 12000 messages) and set up the filters. On my old system I needed about 100 different filters to keep the spam down to a tolerable level. Now I'm down to about 10.

I'm over the moon. Expect me to be raving about this for at least another week. That's what you get when you have to suffer for three years with a sub-standard system. Sorry =).

Friday, October 01, 2004

Toxic Purity Learns To Drive Part 2

Hold on. What happened to Toxic Purity Learns To Drive Part 1? It got swallowed up by the hideous deadline nightmare crush of the previous week. All you need to know is: I only drove over the island ONCE (steered too sharply) and almost crashed into the fence ONCE (mistook accelerator for brake), but I mastered the right-hand turn eventually.

My instructor is a lovely gentleman named Noel who retired from teaching speed and precision driving to the cops and apparently misses all that heart-stopping adrenalin action.

For my second ever lesson, I learnt to steer left, how to reverse-turn down a steep incline (actually that was an impromptu lesson after I nearly drove us into a tree), and then he put me onto the road.

I crawled out the carpark on Horatio St that nobody uses because of its exciting incline, and down towards Nelson.

"Now indicate left," says Noel.

"Indicate?" I said in a panic.

"Ah, right. We haven't done that yet. Don't worry. You're doing just fine."

I like Noel. He's very reassuring.

Now Nelson is a long curving stretch between the WACA, Trinity College and Gloucester Park, which means half the road is taken up with parked cars whose side mirrors I have to avoid taking out. It also means any driver caught behind me was essentially trapped.

My favourite was the poor sod who finally managed to edge around me when I pulled over and he sped past, only to be surprised by a couple of cops training with a speed gun.

I think I'm enjoying this way too much. It's like the terror you experience on a roller-coaster, except you're steering. I also recommend the Nelson, Nile, Waterloo, and Horatio circuit. It has hills, curves, light traffic, and pretty riverside views. But you probably don't want to be there early on Thursday afternoons; that's when I'm on the road :)

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Books - Or What We Called TV In The Old Days

Maybe I just don't watch TV enough anymore, but apart from the Andrew Denton spot (which frankly looks just like any other spot by Andrew Denton promoting that week's Enough Rope) I haven't heard a peep about My Favourite Book 2004.

It seems Aunty is running a poll again to find out what we like to read, and then later in the year she'll make a TV special about her findings, and then you'll be able to go down to your local ABC shop and buy the book about the TV special about the poll about the books Australians like to read.

She may have to earn her own way these days, but despite the Liberal Government's best efforts, the people's broadcaster hasn't quite been reduced to prostituting herself yet, and anyway, I like books.

The parameters are simple: it just has to have been published in the English language, and it can be anything: a translation, a technical manual, a collection of poems... whatever bites deep.

Voting closes 22nd October.  You can:

Mail: My Favourite Book
c/o ABC TV
GPO Box 9994
Sydney 2001
Email:myfavouritebook@your.abc.net.au
1900: 1900 957 175 (Max. call cost 55c incl. GST. Mobiles extra)
SMS: 197 97222 (Max. SMS cost 55c incl. GST.)
Fax: 02 8333 2657

or drop off your vote at your local ABC shop, selected bookshops and libraries.

Best of all, this time, it doesn't even have to be an Australian book, so that widens options a bit.

Not that there aren't any good Aussie reads around, but there aren't that many that make it to my annual Must-Read Again list.

What makes a favourite book?  For me, it has to be something I will read again and again for the sheer pleasure of it, that surprises and rewards me with each reading perhaps, and that will grow with me, and I love several entirely different types of books for those reasons.  Picking just one is going to be a challenge.


Monday, September 27, 2004

Being right

There are few moments in history when the right person is at the right location at the right time and does the right thing and that thing saves the lives of millions or even billions. At a little past midnight on September 26th, 1983 Lieutenant Colonel Stansilav Petrov of the Russian army was that person.

From his wikipedia entry:

Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov was the officer on duty at the Serpukhov-15 bunker near Moscow. It was his responsibility to use computers and satellites to warn his superiors if there were ever a nuclear missile attack against the USSR. In the event of such an attack, the Soviet Union's strategy was to launch an immediate all-out nuclear counter-attack against the United States.

Just past midnight, on September 26, 1983, the computers indicated that an American missile was heading toward the Soviet Union. Lt. Col. Petrov reasoned that a computer error had occurred, since the United States was not likely to launch just one missile if it were attacking the Soviet Union - it would launch many simultaneously. Also, the satellite system's reliability had in the past been questioned, so he dismissed the warning as a false alarm, concluding that no missile had actually been launched by the United States.

A short time later the computers indicated that a second missile had been launched, followed by a third, a fourth and a fifth. Petrov still felt that the computer system was wrong, but there was no other source of information with which to confirm his suspicions. The Soviet Union's land radar was not capable of detecting any missiles beyond the horizon, so by the time they could make a positive identification it would be too late.

Understanding that if he were wrong, nuclear missiles would soon be raining down on the Soviet Union, Petrov decided to trust his intuition and declare the system's indications a false alarm. After a short while it was apparent that his instincts were right. The crisis put him under immense nervous pressure, yet Petrov's judgement had been sound. A full-scale nuclear war had been averted.

Stanislav Petrov was not originally scheduled to be on duty that night. Had he not been there, it is possible a different commanding officer would have made the opposite decision.