Saturday, December 31, 2005

ToxicPurity's Top 10 List of Top 10 Lists of 2005

Yes, it's the ubiquitous end-of-year Top 10 List for 2005, but rather than just compiling my favourite "best of" / "worst of" events (how to choose from so many possibilities?) it was easier just to compile my favourite list of other people's Top 10 Lists of 2005.

In no especial order:

  1. Best Blogs of 2005
  2. Worst PR Blunders of 2005
  3. Funniest Media Corrections
  4. Funniest Video Clips
  5. Most Pathethic Media Meltdowns
  6. Google Search Zeitgeist
  7. Biggest Discoveries
  8. Most Outrageous Statements of 2005
  9. Ontrack's Data Disasters & Remarkable Recoveries
  10. Top 10 Bushisms

Friday, December 30, 2005

Life In The Holiday Twilight Zone

The days between Xmas and New Year's is an odd period, not quite a holiday, yet not quite a normal working week. There's a sense that nothing is worth pursuing, certainly not worth starting up again right after the Xmas break, with the year's end in sight.

And so we continue in a state of suspended activity, coutning down the days, and now the hours, until the new year begins, and with it the promise of a return to normalcy.

In short, I've been bored to tears. Literally. But that could be the mood swings.

After the end-of-year-deadline frenzy in the workplace, the sudden cessation of stress was something I simply was not prepared to cope with. It's taken this long just to figure out how to relax again, and appreciate having nothing much to do, and enjoy how well the pregnancy is going, and just sit in the sunshine watching the wattlebirds and the cockatoos.

I've begun drawing again. Don't know when I last picked up a pencil, but it was long enough that I didn't know where anything was. It's like some codicl to the law of kipple: anything you haven't used in a while but suddenly find a need for will have vanished utterly and completely from wherever it's usually kept. In fact, the more you need it, the less likely you'll find it. Feeling unwanted and unloved, my pencils and felt pens and sketchpads have quietly retired from this world and emigrated to another, damn them.

Ah, well, there's still another week to search for them before the office re-opens on the 9th. Maybe by then I'll feel like I've had a proper break from work.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

A Fishy Story

So, yesterday we went down to Freo, and we're wandering around what is now known as 'The Jetty". I only know this because of the big sign. Anyway, TP is looking into the water and she gets all excited because she sees this HUGE school of fish. 'They're brown with white spots' she tells me hoping to attract my interest. I've seen fish before and I'm more interested in the clipper that's berthed there, but I head over. By this stage the school has moved so we hunt it down and there swirling amongst the million dollar pleasure craft is about two thousand or so BLOWIES. No wonder nobody chooses to fish from the Fisherman's Monument. A good way to lose your bait.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

3 Gets In The Xmas Spirit- Or When Sending Matters More Than Receiving

When the office girl told me my husband was on the phone, I glanced at my mobile to see if I'd somehow missed his call. Apparently not.

So I waddled downstairs, picked up the office phone and said "Hi, Sweetie."

"Your phone's dead," Sweetie replied.

"No, it isn't," I said.

Insert Argument Sketch as we eventually established that he'd left three messages in my voice mail without ever getting through to me, and I explained that my phone was neither dead nor silenced and had registered no missed calls whatsoever. Odd.

Back to work and more impossible pre-Xmas deadline rush.

Later, I call Skribe from Woolie's and find myself getting his voice mail instead. True, the signal is often lousy inside Woolie's, but even when I get a clear signal crossing Heirrison Island, I'm still getting his voice mail. Clearly, his phone or mine is not on the network, and it certainly isn't mine.

When he opens the door, I greet him with "Your phone's not on the network."

"Yes, it is," he replies. "I've been able to call other people, just not you. Your phone's not on the network."

We check each other's phones. We're both on the network. He switches my phone off and back on. My phone suddenly notices I have missed calls and an SMS waiting. He uses my phone to call his and gets his voice mail.

He decides to call 3 to find out what the feck is going on.

Seems 3 had been having a little problem all day with their network - nationwide: you can send, but you can't receive.

3 promises the problem is being fixed.

"What's the ETA on that?" my husband enquires.

"As soon as."

Ah, Xmas. Even 3 has got into the spirit of sharing.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

So, you wanna play paintball?

Are you hard enough to do this?. Perhaps that should be, 'are you stupid enough'.

Butt Art, Boob Art, What Happened To Good Old Fashioned Body Painting?

Back in January, I wrote about Stan Murmur, or the guy who makes Butt Art, and I mused about cashing in and doing some Boob Art.

Seems there's already a market devoted to that sort of thing. I don't know. Sometimes it seems like the stupider and cheesier it is, the more likely it will succeed.

No, I can't do it. Not even Bub Belly Art. I just can't. I'm just not shameless enough. AAARRRGH.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Our Home Is Dirt By Sea

Funny how PH Howard says he fundamentally believes Australia is not a racist country - he being the selfsame jerkoff who played the race card two elections ago in order to become PM in the first place.

Times like this, I can't help but feel our country is exactly as this picture that appeared in Army.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Long Hot Weekend

This past weekend the Mad Hungarian has been frenziedly attempting to film an entire series in three days. It's a show highlighting the multiculturalism of Perth, so it's a mixed bag of cooking segments, interviews, and folk dancing.

Mainly, though, these past three days, it's been folk dancing.

Lots and lots of folk dancing.

Scores of people in colourful traditional folk costume doing colourful traditional folk dancing.

Did I mention we have no air-conditioning, and oh, a total of two wndows that actually open?

Ever notice how most tradtional folk costumes are several layers thick?

Except for the belly dancers. It seemed like every third dance act was some sort of belly dancing troupe. And even they were looking a little wilted.

Professionals all, everyone put up with the discomfort and the stress and grimly trooped on. There was only one incident of things being thrown so all in all, a surprisingly rancor-free hell of a weekend.

The only reason I was there was to emergency-edit a Xmas magic special that has to be delivered tomorrow and which, frankly, after two days of working in a small windowless room with no air-conditioning or through air-flow, was two days too many.

Think I'll go live in the shower now.


"We're not astronauts. We're just asses."

Paul French,
hoaxed 'space tourist' from TV reality show Space Cadets

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Is It Just Me..?

... or are there way too many traffic accidents these days?

Friday went by without incident, but this morning, while waiting for the bus (yeah, I'm working all weekend, bah) I watched a ute take out a traffic light.

Heading west, the driver apparently hadn't noticed the red lights at the junction of Canning Highway and Berwick until it was too late, failed to come to a screeching halt, and so, to avoid ramming the car in front, swerved hard into the middle lane, over-corrected twice, and slammed into the traffic light on the island instead.

Fortunately, no oncoming vehicles were hit by the falling lights. Various public-spirited people ran on to check on the driver and clear the road, and within a couple of minutes traffic was flowing as per normal.

My bus arrived then so I don't know how the driver fared, but I rather suspect he and his ute weren't half as damaged as the traffic light was.

That's 3 accidents in as many weeks I've witnessed. At least this one didn't involve the bus I was on, but I'm beginning to get a little paranoid.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Stupid Baby Things #1

Lilypie Baby Ticker

The World's Worst Pick-Up Lines #45672

Drunk guy on bus recounting exploit to his equally drunk mate:

"I said to her: Is your name Amy?

And she said: No.

So I said: If it was, I'd tattoo it on the back of my foot."

He then demonstrated it on the woman sitting in front of him with, one imagines, as much success as his previous atempt.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Race Riots - What Do You Win?

When I came out to Australia as a student way back in the lare 80s, I was warned by an older cousin and others to expect a little racism - little things, like not being served when you reached the front of the queue at Mackers in favour of the person behind you, being pointedly ignored by some shop assistants, the odd unfriendly comment or two. Little things like that.

Even so, I was assured, Australia was a generally friendly place. And they were right. Sure, I got spat at once on Barrack St, and was verbally abused on the train to Freo once, and there was the on-going hate poster campaign by the ANM...

But those "bad" old days are long gone. For the likes of me anyway.

We slant-eyed gooks aren't perceived as real threats anymore, except by the rare nutter who didn't get the memo about 9/11. That's right, overnight, the world found a new villain race that was certifiably evil.

So, bizarrely, some of us "minorities" have finally achieved what we've always wanted: integration into mainstream Australian culture. We now share the same concerns about holidaying in Bali and airport security and anti-terrorism measures. We have all been made victims of the same global threat.

For the first time in my life, I'm not the "other". I don't feel even remotely threatened as a non-European in a European-based society. My racial identity is simply not an issue in the current climate. As an Asiatic, I might as well be white.

It also means, however, that I am now complicit in the racial attacks against the Muslim and Arab communities. And this despite growing up in a multicultural country, and having Muslim colleagues, neighbours, and relatives.

I am aghast at the racially motivated mob scenes over east, but I am also relieved not to be identified with the target group of "people of Middle-Eastern" appearance.

See, it wasn't that long ago I was one of those targeted by the inbred association. Now somebody else has drawn their fire and I find myself uncomfortable by the realisation that I'm glad it isn't me anymore.

Racialism occurs in cycles, based on each subsequent wave of immigration. The Mediterranean peoples experienced it, the Vietnamese and Chinese experienced it, the Africans experienced it. But I have a nasty feeling the present undercurrent of fear and hostility towards those communities from predominantly Muslim countries are going to see the worst of it for a long time yet to come.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Gray Fridays

Okay, that's TWO Fridays in a row now that my bus has been involved in an accident. I'm thinking I shouldn't use public transport on the last day of the working week because they seem to be getting increasingly hazardous.

Last week, someone decided to veer into the buslane directly in front of the bus and lost their side mirror as a result. This time, someone decided to step out right in front of my bus, forcing the driver to slam on the brakes. Since he had just begun pulling into the next stop, a good number of us had already gotten to our feet, and were subsequently sent flying. I got swung around into the driver's cage, but the old lady behind me went sprawling past and slammed her head and shoulder against the front board.

More contact details were exchanged, an ambulance was called for, and I and another girl kept the old lady company until her daughter showed up. Then I had to head off to work and the other girl had an appointment to keep, and the bus driver was patiently explaining to some old dear that yes, he would be travelling at least one more stop but that wouldn't be for some time as he had to wait for the ambulance and she might be better off catching another bus into town but no, she said, she would just keep her seat and wait, thank you.

I have no idea how the old lady fared. She was probably concussed and very bruised, and definitely feeling a little embarassed at all the fuss she'd caused. I'm sure she's alright. Even though she was visibly in pain and distress she was able to joke about being on HBF and so not having anything to worry about.

Now, question is, with these Friday bus incidents getting hairier each week, what the hell do I do about transport next Friday? Hmm...

Friday, December 02, 2005

"And His Ghost May Still Be Heard. . ."

Australians are a sentimental lot; they cannot resist a sympathetic law-breaker. From bushrangers to army deserters to drug traffickers, if they display some act of plain human decency, Australians will admire and even adore them.

Maybe it's the recognition of "There but for the grace of God, go I". Put in the same desperate circumstances, might I not have done something similar? Killed the cop, gone AWOL, smuggled heroin? And then, when faced with the consequences of my actions, would I still have performed as well as they did?

So we have Ned Kelly as an iconic figure of nationhood, and John Kirkpatrick Simpson as a war hero, and now we have Thuoc Van Nyugen - martyrs all to our belief in one another's basic human qualities of self-sacrifice and mateship.


This is what happens when you pull into the bus lane in front of a bus: bye bye side mirror, an exchange of contact details, and a busload of bemused passengers whose weekend just got interesting.

Monday, November 28, 2005

What I've Learnt About Being Pregnant

Just over halfway now. Actually, closer to two-thirds of the way there. Just when I think I've finally gotten used to being pregnant, I discover my belly button's begun to bottom out and it's freak-out city all over again.

Still prone to tearing up at the least (and oddest) provocation, but fortunately able to keep from free-falling into uncontrollable mood spin. Rationality will prevail, damnit!

Have been advised by my mother not to do any painting, hammering, or other fix-it jobs around the home, for fear of harming or disfiguring the baby. On a similar note, a Hindu friend has recommended I not read the Mahabharata, even though the reading of sacred texts usually promotes positive forces, the Mahabharata is an exception for expectant mothers and their unborn ones. All because of one little story contained within it.

I cannot now make any sort of journey without first knowing where the toilets are.

Must snack. Constantly. And I've just about had it with dried fruit, cheese, and yoghurt bars. I'm not craving anything, but right about now, Belgian chocolate and Chinese salted plums would be a welcome change.

Am finally running out of clothes to cover that so-called "transitional" phase, when you're too big for your regular clothes, but not big enough for full-on maternity wear. Am not looking forward to the next, inevitable, wardrobe change. If you think women's hair-dressers are exorbitantly over-priced, you haven't been in a maternity dress shop. Owch.

And yes, I can finally feel Bubzilla squirming around in there from time to time. Where do they get the idea about "butterflies in the stomach"? It feels more like someone blowing bubbles, or something sucking at the inside wall of your abdomen. It's weird.

Maybe I've had it easy, but this whole pregnancy thing is just wonderfully weird.

Friday, November 25, 2005

ASU Storm Western Power

As of 5 minutes ago.

Variety Week

The World's Ugliest Dog has died.

George Best is dying.

The Amazing Race was filming in Freo and Rottnest on Wednesday, and Channel 7 (which screens the show) didn't know a thing about it. Heh.

Star Wreck: In The Pirkinning, a Finnish Star Trek spoof feature, has just become the highest-rating Finnish film ever. And yes, it's very silly. Them funky Finns.

David Hicks could yet be saved by the British.

But it doesn't look like anyone will be able to save Nguyen Van Tuong, despite best intentions.

This week also I learnt about a FOURTH person whose mother has just died in the past couple of weeks, so it's all a bit spooky and sad.

But Bubzilla's going swimmingly. What a world he's got to look forward to.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

City Spotting

Each sentence below conceals a world capital, spelled out in consecutive letters. How many can you spot?

Example: TV execs announced their September line up. (Berlin, Germany)

  1. Captain Nemo scowled.
  2. It was a doorman I lacked.
  3. We gave the rosebud a pesticide.
  4. Lt. Columbo got all mixed up.
  5. With less violence, the film can be R-rated.
  6. Here is the pheasant I agonised about shooting.
  7. The tarp over our pumpkins has an opening in it.
  8. The Red Cross will call on donors for money.
  9. Don't yank a rabbit by its ears.
  10. Population is swelling to new heights.
  11. You must strip olives of their skin.
  12. Peace activists boycott a war conference.
  13. Would you consider Eric a pet owner?
  14. Kicking stones can hurt your toes.
  15. We returned three bushels in kind.
I particularly like no. 5. Very apt.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A Sign of our Times

Addict: So, what you got?
Dealer: Some Leslie, some Corby and some Bali 9. What you after?

Monday, November 21, 2005

ToxicPurity's Top 20 Geeky Things

Okay, in response to Skribe's Top 20 Geeky Novels, and with no thought whatsoever, this is my list, in no especial order, of what I consider the top 20 Geeky Books/Films/TV/Whatsits Of All Time:

  1. Monty Python - any/all
  2. Douglas Adam's Hitchiker's Guide radio/TV/novels/towel...etc
  3. The Rubik's Cube
  4. 2000AD comics (pre-colour, before DC and Marvel poached all their best talent)
  5. 60s epic SF Films With Something To Say (Planet of the Apes, Alphaville, 2001: A Space Odyssey)
  6. Star Wars IV: A New Hope (Han shoots first, damnit!)
  7. J.R.R.Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings (without whom the entire fantasy genre would not exist and to whom all subsequent fantasy authors and gaming entites owe their livelihoods)
  8. William Gibson's Neuromancer (when SF became cool)
  9. Alan Moore's & Dave Gibbon's Watchmen (when the comic book became the graphic novel ie. serious literature)
  10. Neil Gaiman's Sandman series (when comics became cool)
  11. Thunderbirds
  12. The Prisoner (there was, and never will be, anything like this again)
  13. pre-CGI-era film special effects (all hail the immortal hand of Ray Harryhausen)
  14. Ultraman (and basically anything the Japanese mass-produced for kiddy TV really)
  15. BBC SF TV (from Quatermass to Dr Who to Blake's 7 to Red Dwarf)
  16. Superfriends (and other cartoons produced by Hanna-Barbera, without which Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law wouldn't be half as much fun)
  17. Star Trek (the original)
  18. Computers (both imagined and actual, the more blinking lights the better)
  19. Robots (this should be a Top 20 list all by itself)
  20. Dinosaurs (mythical monsters that really existed? Sure geeky)
The thing is, what is "geeky"? Is it something like "cool-nerdy"? It seems to imply a combination of weird attractions and specialised interests and an appreciation of obscure knowledge. Can't think of any geeky music, though.

Top 20 Geek Novels

So someone did a survey and came up with the top 20 geek novels. I have to say I'm underwhelmed by their choices, so here are mine:

  1. Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkein
  2. Startide Rising* - David Brin
  3. Neuromancer* - William Gibson
  4. Watchmen - Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
  5. The Stainless Steel Rat* - Harry Harrison
  6. Nine Princes in Amber* - Roger Zelazny
  7. Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson
  8. Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson
  9. Starship Troopers - Robert A. Heinlein
  10. Quarantine - Greg Egan
  11. Ringworld - Larry Niven
  12. Lord of Light - Roger Zelazny
  13. Dune - Frank Herbert
  14. The Eyre Affair* - Jasper Fforde
  15. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy* - Douglas Adams
  16. 2001: A Space Odyssey - Arthur C. Clarke
  17. Magician* - Raymond E. Feist
  18. Pawn of Prophecy* - David Eddings
  19. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe* - C.S. Lewis
  20. The Colour of Magic - Terry Pratchett
These are not my favourite books - I hate Pratchett, for instance - but they are imho the top 20 novels for geeks.

* - first book in a notable series

Saturday, November 19, 2005

So, Michelle Leslie's Free

What can we learn from Michelle Leslie's experience, as compared to, say, Schapelle Corby's or Van Nguyen's?

When caught with prohibited substances upon one's person, it's better to be an admitted occasional user than an addict, and that either are way better than being seen as a drug trafficker.

It's better to be caught at a party than at an airport, particularly if your initial defence rests on convincing the judge that those weren't your drugs in the first place and you don't know how they got there.

If you must get caught, have a very small amount of the drugs upon you, and make sure you're arrested alongside the sons of prominent politicians.

After your wrongful arrest, appear contrite or at least embarassed, demonstrate that you are really a decent and religiously-minded young person who's made a dreadfully silly mistake, and don't cause a scene.

Hire a professional and experienced legal team, and make sure your support personel don't raise a ruckus. No foreign government or justice department likes having their authority questioned, and they will not be swayed by emotional blackmail and public demonstrations overseas, no matter how many signatures you collect.

Oh, and it probably helps to be photogenic, with a glamourous career, haver some sort of close family tie to an Australian sporting identity, and know how to hang out at the sort of parties the children of prominent foreign politicians hang out at.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Destination: Germany - Who Should We Thank?

If you had to credit just one person for the Socceroos' victory last night, it would be:

  • John Aloisi
  • Mark Schwarzer
  • Harry Kewell
  • Marco Bresciano
  • Guus Hiddink
  • Frank Lowy
  • Johnny Warren
  • John Safran
(Thanks to Jessp for reminding us about Safran's contribution to World Cup qualifying success.)

If there were any doubts...

...that Lucas hasn't sold out, then doubt no longer.

An Open Letter

This is a note to the faceless men and women that overthrew a despotic and incompetent administration: thank you. Thank you for having the foresight and strength of will to battle against the odds. Thank you for making the wrong things right. Thank you for achieving the goals that you set. There is no truer vindication for your toiling than the three hours last night where our nation stopped, held its breath and then partied hard. Thank you. Well done. See you in Germany.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Saturday, November 12, 2005


You know you've gone too far when the creators of the USA PATRIOT Act are on your case about in violating people's rights.
Anonymous Coward - talking about the criticism of Sony

Friday, November 11, 2005


Number of WA commercial tv stations: 8
Number of WA commercial tv stations broadcasting in digital: 4
Number of fixed line phone carrier networks in Australia: 38
Number of GSM mobile carrier networks: 3
Number of 3G mobile carrier networks: 1
Percentage of Australian population DSL-enabled: 75%
Number of broadband internet services: 2.18 million
Percentage of population that has a mobile phone: 90%
Number of payphones 2003-2004: 64,803
Number of payphones 2004-2005: 61,735
Number of SMSs sent in 2004-2005: 6.74 billion
Total retail revenue for mobiles in 2004-2005: $9.1 billion
Percentage of all spam in Australia originating in Australia: 1%
Actions taken under the Spam Act: 15

-- At A Glance, Australian Communications and Media Authority
- November 2005

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

I Went To King Edward And All I Got Was A Showbag.

Had my first appointment at King Edward Memorial (why is a hospital dedicated to women named after King Eddy?) and came home, eventually, with a schedule for future appointments, and a showbag!

The lovely pastel pink showbag includes:

  • 2 glossy baby magazines
  • 2 government information booklets
  • 14 catalogues and advertising pamphlets
  • 5 product samples
  • 1 pregnancy information booklet (rec. retail $3.95
  • 1 Baby On Board sign for your car

You get all this before your midwife unloads a further 8 health and parenting care pamphlets, a pregnancy journal, and a medical file just for the pregnancy.

There may have been more. After two hours of information overload and an armful of future appointments that must be organised, on top of the appointments (and more pamphlets) for the health study I volunteered for in a fit of public-spiritedness, I'm a little strung out, and wondering where the hell all this stuff is going to be put.

Oh, and Bubzilla's fine. Has a raging heartrate of 144 bpm. Go, Bubzilla!

I'm not telling if I did

Tuesday, November 08, 2005



Forget the arrest of terror suspects. Forget the riots in France. What the world really wants to know is why do women wear brown swimsuits? What are they thinking? Are they concerned about fecal staining? And who honestly believes that deep-vein-thrombosis-red and dog-poo-brown works well as a combination in any piece of clothing let alone a piece of swimwear? Is it to scare off any unwanted advances? Or do they just not have a clue that wearing a bikini whose colour scheme resembles the puce-version of a chessboard just isn't exactly - well - flattering? It just boggles the mind.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Freeway Gridlocked - Again

There must be something about that strip of the Freeway between the Narrows and the South Perth off-ramp that just attracts accidents, idiots, and catastrophic failures of antiquated waterworks.

You wouldn't think a jack-knifed truck blocking south-bound Freeway just after the South Perth off-ramp would delay someone heading to the city via the Causeway, but no. Going the opposite way, and changing buses in Como, was actually the faster way into the city. Whee.

And what with all the works happening around the north end of the Narrows, and the sudden proliferation of roundabouts (and other traffic-"calming" structures) in South Perth, it's amazing people get anywhere at all in relative sanity.

Still not convinced there isn't some sort of jinx or trouble-magnet on that section of Freeway, though.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

50 Things To Eat Before You Die

The BBC's just published the results of a poll they ran a year ago to find out what the top 50 foods people should have had a taste of at least once in their lifetime. Click on the individual items for a bit more info. Thanks to Grug.

The list:

1. Fresh fish
2. Lobster
3. Steak
4. Thai food
5. Chinese food
6. Ice cream
7. Pizza
8. Crab
9. Curry
10. Prawns
11. Moreton Bay Bugs
12. Clam chowder
13. Barbecues
14. Pancakes
15. Pasta
16. Mussels
17. Cheesecake
18. Lamb
19. Cream tea
20. Alligator*
21. Oysters
22. Kangaroo
23. Chocolate
24. Sandwiches
25. Greek food
26. Burgers
27. Mexican food
28. Squid
29. American diner breakfast
30. Salmon
31. Venison
32. Guinea pig
33. Shark
34. Sushi
35. Paella
36. Barramundi
37. Reindeer
38. Kebab
39. Scallops
40. Australian meat pie
41. Mango
42. Durian fruit
43. Octopus
44. Ribs
45. Roast beef
46. Tapas
47. Jerk chicken/pork
48. Haggis
49. Caviar
50. Cornish pasty

* Like Grug and Skribe, I've had crocodile, not alligator.

Is it just me, or does this list seem a little... vanilla? And inconsistent? You've got individual foods like durians, and even different parts of an animal listed as seperate food types, alongside entire cuisines like Chinese or Thai. Must be a British thing - they think Australian is exotic.


I don't get this whole Rosa Parks thing. When I was ten years old I refused to give up my bus seat for a white man and all I got was a spanking.

Patenting Storylines

Authors beware: the US Patent Office has just published the first "patent application to claim a fictional storyline" by an Andrew Knight, and will be publishing another two of his patented storylines in the coming weeks. Knight originally filed his claims 18 months ago.

Note we're not talking about an actual written novel, or screenplay, or any form in which the storyline has been fully dramatised, presented, or realised in any shape. The patent covers the idea for the story itself.

Dubbed "The Zombie Stare", Knight's first patented storyline goes something like this: high school guy prays to remain unconscious until he receives his MIT admissions letter, wakes up 30 years later because the letter's been lost in the mail, but discovers that as far as everybody else could see, he was still living life as normal. He sets out to regain his last 30 years of lost life experience.

Now you know. Come up with any plotline even vaguely similar, in prose, film, comic, music video clip, bank commercial... etc, and you will be sued by Knight for infringing on his patent.

Or, you could let Knight help you patent your story ideas. Because as everyone knows, it's not the published book or movie that counts, it's not what you do with the story idea that matters in the slightest - why, you could hire any hack to flesh out the necessary details.

No. The only things that matter are the ideas themselves. They're oh so rare and unique, aren't they. Why haven't they been protected by copyright before? Hmm...

* Farm boy dreams of adventure, goes on quest to rescue a princess and defeat an evil empire.

* Young girl somehow crosses over into a bizarre otherworld, meets strange characters, overcomes obstacles by her wit and the help of her companions, and returns home.

* Lonely little boy finds stray creature who becomes his best friend and they have unbelievable adventures together. Creature is lost/hurt/killed. Boy is heartbroken. Creature is somehow restored to boy. Cue happy ending.

* Group of college kids find themselves at abandoned site (with innocent childhood connotations - farmhouse, campsite, amusement park...) Unbeknownst to them, location comes with resident serial killer with inventive modus operandi.

* Small-time loser witnesses murder and goes into hiding in the most outrageous disguise possible to escape discovery, and must then play out the role they are disguised as. Ironically, it is as their alter-ego that they finally achieve success.

Et cetera.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Handbook For Bloggers & Cyber-Dissidents

With Howard doing his damned best to rewrite the laws on industrial relations and national security to the detriment of Australian society and culture, this seems as good a time as any to highlight the Handbook For Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents recently put together by Reporters Without Borders.

The Handbook covers a range of topics from blogging ethics to how to blog anonymously, and provides tips on ensuring privacy and technical ways of getting around censorship.

Fairly basic stuff for the most part, but still a useful guide to keep handy or to recommend to anyone needing to blog safely and securely.

Remember that every day, someone is being jailed because they blog, or having their blogs shut down or blocked by their government.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Watermelon Carvings

I forgot to post an obligatory pumpkin carving story for Hallowe'en, so here's one on watermelon carving instead.

I initially thought these were photo-shopped, but a quick google revealed the astounding fact that this (and plenty more) are the work of one man with way too much time on his hands.

Do they get eaten afterwards, or what?

World Usability Day

That's tomorrow, 3rd November.

Plenty of time to take a look around you and think about the products and services you use, and how much grief they give you. Or not. It's been observed that people are generally oblivious to good design and ease-of-use, but when faced with the opposite...

May the gods invent a Hell just for Microsoft, easy-to-open cheese packs that don't, and bloody flimsy takeaway plastic cutlery.

Anyway, official website here. Nothing planned in Perth that I can see. Maybe Perth needs to work on World Accessibility Day. Extended shopping hours, hey?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Pane or Rice

Back in 1999 TP and I travelled to Singapore to visit her relatives. While there TP's aunts took us out to a restaurant in one of the five-star hotels called Paolo's and Ping's. It was an Italian-Chinese retaurant, which was great given that they are my favourite foods - me being Italian and TP being Chinese that's not terribly surprising.

Anyway, we examined the menus - there were two (one for Italian and one for Chinese) and I settled on the Osso Buco, which is a dish I adore and I regularly cook it at home. As it had been nearly a month since I had cooked anything - Singapore is a place where you eat out most of the time - I was getting a little home-sick and chose some comfort food. If you don't know what Osso Buco is then briefly it is a thick veal shank in a tomato ragu slowly cooked in the oven (never on the stove top as some French heathens have been known to do) for several hours. Note the several hours. Most restaurants prepare them beforeheand, pop them in the freezer and microwave them when ordered. Osso Buco - as with most ragu - tastes better a day or two after it has been prepared.

We made light conversation and then dinner arrived. I dived into my Osso Buco with glee. Unfortunately, I almost broke the knife. This was no veal shank cooked to perfection which is supposed to fall off the bone. With this it was difficult telling where the bone ended and the meat began. I suspect it was a fully mature cow or maybe buffalo or bullock - if it was bovine at all. It was hard, intractible and inedible and I quickly sent it back to the kitchen.

Singaporeans pride themselves on their food and my sending food back to the kitchen caused a great deal of consternation amongst the restaurant staff. They were very apologetic and then after consulting with the chef the maitre'd himself came over to utter the immortal words:

The chef says he will just fry you up another one. It should take about ten minutes.
I sat at my table and watched as the chef did exactly that, poured ragu over it to heat up and then plated it up. As you might expect the second steak was no better than the first.

Ever since I've had a deep phobia about restaurants offering specifically both Italian and Chinese cuisine. TP knows this and likes to taunt me. So surprise, surprise today she comes in from the letterbox carrying a menu from just such a restaurant. I bet she wants to try it out. Fortunately Osso Buco isn't on offer.

Monday, October 31, 2005


So it is coming up to a year since you bought your phones and the drama that involved. This also means that the warranty is about to expire.

Several weeks ago you began hassling 3 about the poor battery life and they duly agreed to replace the battery in ONE of the phones, despite both having the same problem. The original agreement was that they were to credit you with the $60 needed to purchase the battery. When your next bill arrived you checked it, but no credit was included. You called them and they carefully explain that what they meant by credit was that you should go into any 3 store and they would hand over a new battery.

Except there are no batteries left in any Perth 3 store for your model. They stopped selling them ten months ago. So you get the manager of your local 3 store to call 3 Customer Care and explain the problem. He manages to wangle a promise of a new battery sent from 3 HQ directly to your home. It is expected to arrive within 4 days maximum.

Ten days later - today - you receive a package, delivered by courier. You sign the form, close the door and head over to find a suitable place to unwrap it, rattling it to see what is inside. There's not even the hint of movement inside. It must be extremely well packed, you think to yourself. You find your pocket knife, cut the copious amounts of packing tape and open it eagerly. It's empty. Okay not completely empty. It does have two inflatable pillow things inside to protect the incredibly fragile six pieces of A4-sized paper and Australian Air Express freight bag.

You call 3 Customer Care again. Spend ten minutes - literally - choosing options only to end up at a dead end before the phone cuts out. You ring again - despite the fact that you have to leave for a meeting in twenty minutes - and choose a different set of options. This time you reach an living, breathing human from Mumbai.

She listens to your problem and asks to put you on hold before disappearing to check with her supervisor. You have fifteen minutes before you have to leave.

She returns asks some more questions almost identical to the original set of questions she asked you and then puts you on hold again. Ten minutes. While on hold you take the opportunity to pack your bag.

Back she comes and she tells you that she has found the person you need to speak to and that she will transfer you immediately. You thank her and are transferred. This is how you meet Roy. You think he asks you for the capital of Assyria, but when you answer Nineveh he repeats the question. After several more attempts at wading through his thick Mumbai accent you eventually work out that he is asking you what the problem is.

You explain it once again and he asks you for your hat size. 56, you say. He asks again, clearly confused. You tell him that he needs to speak slower than the speed of light if you are to have any chance of understanding him. He does so, and he asks if he can put you on hold. You reluctantly agree. Five minutes. You quickly put on your shoes ready to race out the door.

Roy returns and asks exactly the same questions that the first Caregiver asked. Or at least that's what it sounds like. You give him exactly the same information and he doesn't bother asking to put you on hold this time. You double check your bag, make sure you're wearing pants - take off your shoes and quickly put some pants on, put the shoes back on. Check your bag again. It is about now that you wished you had used the mobile rather than the faxline. It lasts only a moment as you remember the bill from the last 3 Customer Care call that went like this.

Two minutes past when you are supposed to have left and Roy returns. He asks you exactly the same questions and you reply with exactly the same answers. He asks to put you on hold again, but you stop him and tell him to call you back instead. You give him your mobile number, hang-up and rush out the door.

You're five minutes late but you still might make the deadline. No such luck. Within minutes you're stopped by the gentle buzz of your silented phone. You answer. It's Roy!

Roy tells you to go into the nearest 3 store and pick up a battery and once again - for the third time - you explain that there are no batteries in any Perth store. He says he will ring again after he has called ALL the Perth stores.

Two minutes later he's back telling you that he THINKS there is one at the Whitfords store. Can you just pop up to have a look? he asks - although it sounds like the recipe for Peking Duck and ice-cream. You tell him that Whitfords isn't good. Especially for something that isn't a guarantee. He agrees to have the store mail it to you, but it could take another week or two. Obviously the mail is slow out Whitfords way.

And so that's how today ends. Exactly as it began. With you waiting for a package with a new battery in it. Maybe next time when you receive the package you shouldn't open it. At least then you'll have a 50-50 chance of there being a battery inside.

Police State

You may be telling yourself that the new 'counter-terrorism' laws won't affect you. After all you're not an Islamic radical or even a US peace activist. But consider this, the new powers that the executive government plans to grant itself offer no judicial oversight and no right to appeal. And we've seen only too well what this government will do when there is no oversight or appeal. Just ask Cornelia Rau, Vivian Alvarez Solon or the forty others (and counting) that have been illegally detained or deported.

This government has proven time and time again that when it makes mistakes it drags its feet rectifying them. Remember, any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.

Why The Pet Stroller?

And I thought the idea of walking your cat (or dog) was to exercise him, you know, get him to climb a few trees and run around in circles and just generally wear him out so he sleeps all night and doesn't wake you up at 3AM because he's bored and wants someone to play with.

Apparently not.

This pet stroller comes in navy, pink, and double-decker. That cat sure looks happy.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Magic Is . .

. . . coming home after the noise and colour of the Pride Parade to hear the sweet strains of Pavarotti and Simona Todaro wafting across the river.

Pride: Dykes on Bikes

We spent the night at the annual Pride parade. Unfortunately, this is the best picture that we took all night. The rest are too blurry. Damn cameraphone.

It was our first Pride parade and it wasn't bad as parades go, not my favourite way to spend half-an-hour. There was lots to see and lots of laughs but there were a few gaps of five minutes or so where nothing was happening. All-in-all it was a fun night.

Abseiling in the City

But only if you have a spare grand.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


Shafto Lane. How long have they been there?


Long live paper and scissors.
-- seen on a t-shirt

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

10 Things I Learned From "Chopper" Read

  1. The greatest living artist in Australia today, besides himself, is Adam Cullen, who will be remembered as the next Sidney Nolan

  2. Sidney Nolan himself, on the other hand, can go get fucked

  3. The arts community needs him like tits on a bull.

  4. He can't draw, but he knows his paintings will go up a thousand percent when he dies, so he keeps painting.

  5. Ian Thorpe and James Packer are faggots.

  6. It must be true because he said so on 6PR and didn't get sued.

  7. He doesn't like faggots, or being associated in any way with them.

  8. He does not like being called the 2nd Ned Kelly, because Ned Kelly was a poofter.

  9. But he likes to quote Ned's motto:
    "You cannot choose your battlefields -
    God will do that for you.
    But you can plant your flag
    Where no flag ever flew."

  10. His other favourite motto is: Never plead guilty.


Windows is like buying a car and being told to shutup and drive. Linux is like buying a car and having the salesman hand you a full workshop manual.
-- Paul Scott, 65 year old linux (and computing!) noob

I feel so dirty

I am 13% Hippie.
So Not a Hippie.
What? Am I a Republican? Why did I even bother taken this test?! I guess I’ll back to my George W. Bush fan club and tell them I just wasted 10 minutes of my life. At least I don’t stink, man.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Dressing For Two

My mother's maternity care package arrived today. The contents description read: 7 pieces of used maternity wear and 5 packs of disposable panties. Thanks, Mum.

Apparently, there's a Chinese custom to share maternity clothes around, something along the lines of sharing the luck. Nice custom. Fortunately, I'm still a couple of months away from needing any maternity clothes (and will hopefully never be in need of those disposable panties).

Unfortunately I've promised my mother I'll wear these particular maternity clothes.

Okay, the maternity jeans are great. They're useful, they look nice, and I'll even be able to wear them to work. The tops are a little, ahem, mumsy. But they're cotton, they're comfortable... definitely home wear. ("So I have to look at them?" skribe mutters. Yeah, you do.)

And then there's the dress. What can I say? If I were a modest Muslim woman with a thing for neck-to-ankle rayon, it'd be beautiful. This one is going to be a challenge. For one thing, my CFMs and stomping boots aren't going to match it.

Looks like I'll still be scouring the op shops for a while yet.

The Movie of the Making of the Home Movie Adaptation of the Movie Raiders of the Lost Ark

As if being an 11-year-old kid who decides to remake his favourite film, shot-for shot (an opus that will take him and his schoolmates seven years to complete) in an era before video stores or even digital cameras existed wasn't an odd enough story, now Hollywood is making the movie about that kid and his home movie Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation.

Next time you bitch about how hard it is to get your foot in the door, just remember the name Chris Strompolos.

Bastard :)

Door Prize

The latch on our security door was broken. With summer approaching - and our desire to 'open the place up' - this was a problem. So, we decided to get it fixed. Begin much frivolity.

The door guy arrived, fiddled with the latch and then decided we needed an entirely new mechanism. I already knew that. They build them as one piece and if something goes wrong you have to replace the lot. So he tells me that he's popping off to Bunnings to pick up a new system. He asks me if I want the old tumbler. I say yes. I'd prefer to keep my existing keys. So he toodles off and then comes back half-an-hour later.

After much noise and banging he tells me it's done. Asks me to test it. So, I whip out my key and try the lock. No dice. He's put in a new tumbler. I ask him to replace it. So he looks around for the old one in his van. He's out there for 15 minutes and I can hear him cursing. The Irish really know how to curse. Eventually he comes back and tells me he can't find it. He must have left it at Bunnings. He heads back to Bunnings. Comes back half-an-hour later. No old tumbler. He has no idea where it is. He'll have to leave it until he can find the old tumbler. He tries a new key in the new lock. It doesn't work. He disappears down to the van again and returns with a new key. This one doesn't work either. Another trip to the van and this time he has the right key. He leaves with promises to return when he's found the old tumbler.

Look, I don't know whether he's just incompetent or was running a scam. Fact is that I wasn't paying for his services. It gave me a good chuckle.

Monday, October 24, 2005


The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work and then they get elected and prove it.
-- P.J O'Rourke

The 22nd Storm

Wilma's making all the news headlines right now, but it's her successor (now downgraded to a tropical depression) that's got people really talking.

See, the Atlantic storm region cycles through a six-year list of 21 storm names per year. The list for 2005, beginning halfway down with the notorious Katrina, then goes Lee, Maria, Nate, Ophelia, Phillipe, Rita, Stan, Tammy, Vince, and finishes with Wilma. Then the 2006 list begins with Alberto, Beryl, Chris, Debby, and so on.

Since 1995, however, tropical storms in the Atlantic region have leapt from roughly 10 to as many as 19 named stos a year.

"If we have more than 21 storms," says Frank Lepore of the National Hurrican Center in Miami, "we have bigger problems than what they are going to be named." -- National Geographic, October 2005
Well, we have bigger problems, and that's official. The World Meteorological Organization said a month ago that if they ran out of names this season, they'd use the Greek alphabet.
Everyone, meet Alpha. Storms Beta, Delta, Gamma, and Epsilon are on their way.

Wet and Wild

Swimming is normally a relaxing, sedate experience, but over the last two weeks - with summer fast approaching - the pool has become more and more crowded. To make matters worse the newcomers can't read, can't tell left form right, and for the most part can't swim without splashing everyone else around them.

For instance, today there were fast swimmers in the slow swimming lane, slow swimmers mingling in with the walkers in the walking lane, and walkers in the fast swimming lane. To make matters worse, there was also one swimmer in the fast lane whose freestyle technique consisted of slapping the water so that it splashed over everyone else, including those two lanes away. Not only did this mean that he was not swimming fast but was also annoying the shit out over everyone else. In the end he was told to leave by the staff.

And today is nothing compared to last Monday, which featured 20-25 people in the walking lane, and an unsupervised eight year old attempting, and failing, to do freestyle *across* the lanes. He was 'run-over' twice by swimmers that didn't see him.

Maybe if the weather fines up I'll head to the beach next time.

Stupid marketing tricks #51047

A flashing red LED on a box of vitamins.

Hard Times

As an employer I have to say that these new Industrial Relations laws are going to be jolly good. Currently, if I want to hire an experienced performer I have to pay them a minimum of $766.39 per week. Even an inexperienced performer gets $707.81 per week. And then on top of all that I have to pay 102% additional for repeats and overseas and ancillary rights. It's a scam!

With these new laws I'll be able to pay them only $484.40 for the lot. Maybe less. And those savings go straight into my pocket. To make it even better any unemployed performers (and that means 90% of them) will have to accept the conditions or lose their unemployment benefits. Kevin Andrews - Federal Industrial Relations Minister - said so on the Insiders yesterday. How good is that? I mean, if you can't believe the word of a Howard government minister who can you believe?

I foresee the casting couch making a comeback. Definitely hard times ahead.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Hello Kitty Jet & Other Signs That The World Is Going To End

Don't ask. I may be Asiatic but I can't explain Hello Kitty.
You can get a Hello Kitty anything these days. Here, give someone you like a Hello Kitty Flower Arrangement. Or for someone really special, the Hello Kitty Diamond Watch.
How about the Hello Kitty XBox Console, or the Hello Kitty DVD TV
Start your mornings with Hello Kitty Toast.
Or, better still, for the safety conscious, here's the Hello Kitty Fire Extinguisher.
Yuck. Enough kitsch. Back to Chopper.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Feeding The Beast, I mean Bub

Four-and-a-bit-months into the pregnancy and all I can think about is food. Forget about the wardrobe challenges and health issues and where Bub is developement-wise - I have never been so continually hungry in my life.

I wake up in the middle of the night to take a leak, and I'm hungry. When the alarm goes off, I'm already half-awake, and hungry. By the time I get into the office, I'm hungry. Half an hour after lunch, I'm hungry. I'm eating four meals a day, and I'm still hungry. If I don't have a sandwich while cutting up the veggies for dinner, I won't actually make it to dinner. I go to bed hungry, and dream about food.

For someone who used to get by on a $1 fruit scone for lunch, all this eating is driving me crazy. It's not me, it's the beast within. The beast requires constant feeding.

Guess who?

No, it's not me.

Eurovision's Greatest Song Ever

And the nominees are:

  • Nel blu, di pinto di blu (Volare") - Domenico Modugno - Italy, 1958

  • "Poupée de cire, poupée de son" - France Gall - Luxemburg, 1965

  • "Congratulation(s)" - Cliff Richard - U

  • "Waterloo" - ABBA - Sweden, 1974

  • "Save your kisses for me" - Brotherhood of Man - UK, 1976

  • "What's another year" - Johnny Logan - Ireland, 1980

  • "Ein bisschen Frieden" - Nicole - Germany, 1982

  • "Hold me now" - Johnny Logan - Ireland, 1987

  • "Ne partez pas sans moi" - Céline Dion - Switzerland, 1988

  • "Diva" - Dana International - Israel, 1998

  • "Fly on the wings of love" - Olsen Brothers - Denmark, 2000

  • "Everyway that I can" - Sertab Erener - Turkey, 2003

  • "My Number One" - Helena Paparizou - Greece, 2005

Alternatively, you can vote for your favourite over at the BBC site.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Bye Bye Weekend

Tonight, the Mad Hungarian is off to Northbridge to film the opening of Chopper Read's art exhibition, Peaces of Chopper. It has to be delivered Monday, which means I'll be working all weekend, with not much room for creative fix-its if the Mad Hungarian forgets to hit the Record button again, or the audio is fucked, or the entire tape is fucked, or the editing machines are fucked... etc


On the upside, if all goes well (fingers crossed) the results could be entertaining. After all, only on a community TV arts program - that your community broadcaster refuses to air - will we see a solicitor interviewing a gangster about an art exhibition.

UPDATE: Saturday A-freaking-M. Or I can get in bright and early and find the Mad Hungarian isn't coming in until NOON to drop off last night's tape because he didn't wrap until 1am, but the good news is: there's only about 5 minutes of no audio where the presenter forgot to switch the mike on; we have lovely crisp audio on all the bits where opinions are expressed as to why the Prime Minister is a faggot; I have all the rest of the morning to encode the previous project to DVD; and wander off into the city in search of grub. Ciao.

New Byte Me Website

As we prepare to move into preproduction for Series 2, we have updated and improved the Byte Me website. While it is not quite completed yet (are websites ever truly completed?) it will give you an idea of what we're trying to achieve. Feedback is always welcome.

Any Opera or Safari users, please drop us a note if you see any problems.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Overheard in...

Yeah, I'm still in the car now.
-- Man on mobile, Plaza Arcade

Update: St George's Bomb Scare

This time last week, skribe and I were scouring the net for info on the bomb hoax on St George's Terrace. After all, we were there, trapped in traffic, and unable to glean anything useful from the cops. When we got home, we found no mention of it anywhere.

Clearly, we had imagined the barricades, traffic gridlock, and circling news helicopters.

Last night, we finally learned what'd happened (thanks to Milchfrommler's other half): some street derelict had shuffled into the Commonwealth Bank, dumped a bag that he claimed contained a bomb, and shuffled out again.

Security forces had to follow procedure, which meant evacuating the building, blocking off the streets, and ordering the media to report none of it.

Absolutely none of it. See, reports of one bomb hoax could inspire a whole photocopier of bomb hoaxes. Bomb hoaxers, like streakers, are not to be acknowledged by the media in any way. One news story about the effects of a bomb hoax would be seen as encouragement.

Although it is a tad difficult to look the other way and chat inconsequentially about seagulls when you've bloody closed off half of St George's Terrace just before the start of rush hour.

The best the media could do was say the police had had to cordon off part of St George's, and that you might want to find a different route home.

And the media will go along with this, because frankly, they need the cops on side, or they lose access to crime alerts and stories.

Channel 9 was the only news to mention the bomb scare, and have since got into trouble because of it. (Frankly, Channel 9 don't get dragged into the law courts often enough for my liking, but that's a seperate issue).

So, were the authorities right to impose a media blackout? Everybody on the streets knew it was a bomb scare, and their biggest concern was how they were going to get to the other side of the city. Was anyone panicked? No. Bemused, certainly. Mildly put out, yes. Some, particularly the news camera operators, were bored out of their minds.

Were the media right to accede to the cops? I guess it depends on whether they believed it was in the public good to keep the public ignorant, or whether their motives were entirely self-serving. Those helicopters cost money flying around, and there was no story at the end of the day to justify the expense. How did they explain this to their shareholders?

Given the circumstances, did the authorities over-react? Probably, but they were following procedure, and did nothing wrong in that regard. This is the reality of life today.

And Howard wants to give them the right to shoot-to-kill? The police do a difficult enough job as is. Why make their lives harder? Why make our lives more fraught? For what?

Political point-scoring, that's what. In a long-forgotten time of common sense and plain human decency, a security guard would have checked the abandoned bag, ascertained that it was harmless, and tossed it out. End of story. Actually, in that mythical age of common sense and plain human decency, we would have kept our mentally ill in functioning psychiatric hospitals instead of forcing them out onto the streets to fend for themselves.

Maybe Howard's shoot-to-kill policy is really just his solution for all the insane homeless wandering our cities today, fighting incomprehensible battles inside their heads, and unknowingly disrupting our lives.

Okay, rant ends now. I just hope by the time Bub arrives, the world will be a more sensible place again.

Rat Outsmarts Kiwi Scientists

How long does it take to catch a rat on a (formerly rat-free) island? How about a rat with a radio-collar fitted? The answer is never, 18 weeks or penguin meat - your choice.

Australia More Corrupt Than NZ...

...and Singapore. But only just. According to Transparency International, "the coalition against corruption", the ten least corrupt nations of 2005 are:

  1. Iceland,
  2. Finland,
  3. New Zealand,
  4. Denmark,
  5. Singapore,
  6. Sweden,
  7. Switzerland,
  8. Norway,
  9. Australia, and
  10. Austria
Congratulations, Iceland. You can now proudly boast of something else besides Bjork and fjords. C'mon, Australia, them Kiwis are beating us again. And Singapore, well, it's not surprising it's the only Asian state to rank so highly. Ever tried to bribe your parents? It doesn't work. It really doesn't.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

C-Jump: The Computing Programming Board Game

And you get to play snowboarders or skiers while learning the basics of programming in C++, for eg, because according to the game's designers, skiing and snowboarding "is a perfect programming analogy".

I want one. For Bub, of course. Honestly.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Less War, Fewer War Dead - It's Official

These are good times, according to the Human Security Report 2005.

Since 1992, armed conflicts around the world have fallen by 40%, and deadly wars by a whopping 80%.

In fact, the average number of fatalities per conflict has fallen from 38,000 in 1950 to just over 600 in 2002.

However, before we break out the kalashnikovs and start firing wildly into the night in celebration of our peace-loving ways, there is a caveat - the report admits that it doesn't have figures from two of the current and deadliest warzones in the world: Iraq and Darfur.

And while the number of international wars has plummeted, and the major powers have now gone longer without fighting one another than at any other time in centuries past, acts of terrorism and civil conflicts have risen.

Welcome to the new and ever-changing face of political violence. The battleground is your city, the frontlines are your neighbourhood streets, kids with handmade mortars take potshots at buildings across town, and suicide bombers are the mass weapons of choice.

Bt fewer of us are getting killed. Woo-hoo.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Archimedes' Death Ray

Hmm... just watched the Mythbusters repeat where they debunk Archimedes' Death Ray. All well and good. Except that MIT recently pulled it off.

Yes, if you want a Roman trireme set on fire, with pictures, call in the engineering students. All they needed was 127 mirrors and ten minutes of uninterrupted sunshine.

Direct Response

When I was in my late teens I saved up all my money (about $100 or so - my family was poor) and purchased a 12-month subscription to a popular US-based geek magazine. Each month I received the magazine in its brown paper wrapper usually somewhat worse for wear after the trip around the planet - it wasn't until a year later that they moved to the more durable, and enviromentally unsound, clear plastic cover.

About nine-months into my subscription I noticed a resubscription direct mail inset within my magazine. Resubscribe for $30. Even with the abyssmal exchange rate, that was under half the price I had paid for the original subscription. You see, what the publishers of the magazine had failed to take into account was that other people other than their typical US and Canadian audience would subscribe, or in this case resubscribe. This was years before the popularity of the internet. So, of course I paid my $US30 and resubscribed. By the time the next subscription was due they had learnt their lesson and it was back up to $A100 again.

But anyway, the reason I bring this heartfelt story to your attention is that direct response magazine insets have a problem. There is no guarantee that the response will be immediate. It may be years before someone sends in the form and once the money has been accepted by them then consideration has taken place and they're stuck with the deal. If they're lucky they might catch it before the money has been accepted but that's too much of a chance to take. Recently, the reponse forms have included an expiry date which is one way around the dilemma. But this too can cause problems. For example a recent computer magazine that I looked at had an expiry date in excess of one year before the magazine was published.

And people wonder why magazine subscriptions are plummeting.

The Blooker Prize 2006

The inaugural Blooker Awards have just been launched, and nominations are now open. The awards will be handed out in April 2006, it's being sponsored by, and the panel of independent judges are well-known technorati types.

Back up, you say. What the hell is a Blooker? It's the first ever literary prize for books based on blogs or websites, and there are three categories: Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Comics.

So, here's your chance. Gather up your fav rants, tips, insights... etc, get published via for instance, and be in the running for a literary award. Then go impress dyslexic friends who can't tell a Booker from a Blooker.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

A Question of Intelligence

Why has this taken so long? For someone who claims to be hard on terrorism, Howard's doing a piss-poor job of following up his hard talk with hard actions. This should have happened four years ago.

Byte Me now listed in IMDB

Only the basic details have been included. Hopefully, the rest will be inserted soon.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


If you're feeling a little low at the moment consider how the sports execs at the Nine Network must be feeling. They paid top dollar for the Super Test and One Day series - which has fizzled into a non-event-Australian-walkover - after passing on the bargain basement priced we-lost-by-the-skins-of-our-teeth-Ashes plus One Day series. I suspect somebody might be looking for a new job soon.

Sights and sounds

At the Moores Building Contemporary Art Gallery, Freo.

Danish Delight

Mary's had a boy.

That's a lot of unhappy punters, who were betting on the opposite. They can still bet on the brat's name, I guess.

It remains to be seen if the Danish government will still go ahead with the proposed change to allow the first-born child, whether male or female, to inherit the throne, since the Heir Presumptive is safely male. Admittedly, having a female heir to the Imperial Throne hasn't prompted the Japanese government to change the status quo.

You'd think any situation where birthright is of such importance, succession would automatically favour females, because there is never any doubt as to a child's maternal lineage.

But, no. Feh.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Fox Two

Bombs Away

Say No to Radical Islam

Gone to the dogs

...or og

Pinter Wins The Nobel Prize For Literature

Jack: So .... [pause]
Jack: So he won then. [pause]
Jill: Yes.
Jack: Yes. [longer pause]
Jack: He waited long enough.
Jill: Yes.
Jack: Yes ... he did. [pause]
Jill: Yes, he certainly waited long enough.
Jack: Words. [pause]
Jill: What?
Jack: Words, in conversion, he was good at that. [pause]
Jill: Yes ... he waited long enough.
Jack: I think... [pause]
Jill: ...and pauses, he was good at that too.
Jack: Yes.
Jill: Yes. [pause]
Jack: Yes. [pause] I think his word/time ratio was the smallest ever heard.
Jill: Yes.
Jack: Yes. [pause]
Jill: Yes, he waited long enough...
Jack: Well done, that's what they say...
Jill: Yes, they do say that...
Jack: Well done, like the toast... [long pause]... How's your cornflakes, then?
and so on...

--John Grady, UK (BBC comments)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Terror In The City

Naturally, I asked a cop what was happening:

Cop: Oh, something's happened in one of the building.

Me: This one?

Cop: Can't tell you which one.


Once again our city has been brought to a standstill. This time however it is because of an alleged bomb in the ASX building.


St George's closed. Bomb rumoured.


What good are legal rights if I never have the resources to defend them?

It's Uruguay

Interesting that it is the ABC first with the news, whereas the, so-called, World Game station, SBS, haven't picked it up yet.

Ten Things We Learnt at the Business Roadshow

Yesterday TP and I spent the morning at the Business Roadshow conference. Here are ten things that we learnt:

  1. It is possible to be Australian for 18 years and yet only to have been in Australia for the last four years;
  2. An hour-and-a-half long presentation will always exceed two hours;
  3. Those two hours feel like ten;
  4. A ring-binder costing $1 can be sold to businesses for $50 if you write 'Financial Year 2005' on the front and side;
  5. The owner of Reckon has been so successful he's been reduced to selling said folders;
  6. Unlike 10 years ago the Sheraton is no longer a good place to hold a conference that requires an outside internet connection or a working sound system;
  7. At a conference held at the Sheraton you can have all the coffee and tea you like but water only comes by the glassful and has to be specifically ordered;
  8. You can repeatedly promote your spouse's marketing company by saying 'It's just easier for me to use it because I know it so well';
  9. IPAQs have very poor handwriting recognition and worse email sending capabilities;
  10. Microsoft have some very cool ideas regarding interconnectivity but are still obsessed with vendor lock-in.

Smurfs Killed To Raise Funds

One day, the smurfs are happily dancing and singing, when rather unexpectedly, planes flying overhead drop bombs that devastate their village and kill everyone.

No, it's not the ultimate revenge of Gargamel but the latest advetising campaign by Unicef to raise awareness and funds for the plight of child soldiers. It's... surprising.

This is entirely our fault as television viewers for becoming too jaded with the usual style of fundraising ads.

Remember: Don't let war affect the lives of children.

Next story: Sesame Street gets hit by a suicide bomber.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Pregnancy Q & A

It's amazing what you find when you check out refer links. For example:

  • Q: Should I have a baby after 35?
  • A: No, 35 children is enough.

  • Q: I'm two months pregnant now. When will my baby move?
  • A: With any luck, right after it finishes college.

  • Q: When is the best time to get the epidural?
  • A: Right after you find out you're pregnant.

  • Q: Do I have to have a baby shower?
  • A: Not if you change the baby's diaper very quickly.

  • Q: Our baby was born last week. When will my wife begin to feel and act normal again?
  • A: When the kids are in college.

Useful advice

And in this corner...

In Oz you get Mark Latham. In the States you get this. Personally, I'd be very worried. He's requesting a certified gun nut.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Coming Soon: "Peaces of Chopper"

Now this is art to invest in, if you had the money, and if they had any left. It's actually not half-bad (especially when compared to the usual art school rubbish).

You know crime doesn't pay when the likes of Mark "Chopper" Read start holding sell-out exhibitions.

It's going to be a huge event despite being only a ten-day exhibition, and it's the first time I ever heard of the TRG unit attending an art opening.

The Mad Hungarian has booked his interview and shoot, and it looks like I'll be pulling in a weekender to get this special on air the same week.

Follow the money

People are saying that the Howard government is introducing the new Industrial Relations changes, that encourage workers to move to individual contracts, at the behest of business. I say differently.

The biggest winners from this new scheme will be lawyers. Who else do you think will write all the contracts and/or challenge them?

Monday, October 10, 2005

ToxicPurity's Mother Goes To Sinjiang, China

"Some of the roads or, rather, dirt tracks were so bad that your Mum was bounced out of her seat in the back of the bus onto the floor. Fortunately, she suffered no harm. At one stage, the safety door was rattled off the bus and had to be fixed back [...] Your Mum said the toilets stops at some stages of her trip consisted of men trudging through snow and mud to the front of the bus and women to the back. Those who are tardy in relieving themselves might get frost bite!"
My mother, the sixty-something extreme tourist. Some people do it for the adventure - she does it for the bargains. She's brought back some nice native shawls, apparently.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Robot Cars - Or Herbie Who?

The robot car is one of those staples of science-fiction that, unlike the flying car, anti-gravity belt or backpack rocket, at least seemed achievable in our lifetimes.

You get in, key in your destination, lie back and enjoy a glass of wine, and the car does all the driving and parking for you. Nifty.

Larry Niven figured the automated car of the future would also be entirely self-contained, and double as a survival capsule in disaster situations. Roger Zelazny predicted cars so simple even dogs could drive them, and that the hot new fad would be "spinning" - randomly programming a set of coordinates and then blacking out the windows so you'd have no idea where you'd end up.

Spielberg even made them drive up the sides of buildings in Minority Report.

So how come nobody precdicted that the first successful robot car would be a Volkswagen called Stanley?

The world's second robot car race - which incidentally was organised by the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) - has just been held, and of the twenty-three starting vehicles (which included modified humvees, dune buggies and a six-wheeled truck) only three made it across the finishing line. Which is a far improved result from last year's race, when most of the vehicles failed within sight of the starting line.

Nobody seems to have predicted that the robot car would first be a military instrument either, before it became another mass consumer toy of the public. And anyway, what good's the robot car when we're not going to have any petrol left to run them? I guess maybe some things will always remain within the realm of science fiction, even when it looks like they're already happening.


Biggest rip-off idea for a game.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Can You Outsmart Your Right Foot?

Okay, time for some mindless weekend fun and exercise.

Stand, sit, whatever's comfortable and safe. Draw clockwise circles in the air with your right foot.

At the same time, with your right hand, draw the number 6. Or an anticlockwise circle. You get the idea.

So, did your right foot decide to draw number 6s as well? Or did you succeed in exerting your intellectual dominance over it?

Personally, I never had difficulties with the head-patting tummy-rubbing thing, but this one is annoying me just a little. Damned right foot's got a mind of its own.

Friday, October 07, 2005

QOTD are the re-usable prozac of single life.

Frog Sniffing and other igNobels

Ah, it's igNobel time again. That glorious time when science is not only proved to be fun, but funny.

Several Australians have picked up awards this year, including a team from the University of Adelaide who researched frog smells (apparently some smell like curry - Mmmmm, frog curry). Two professors from the University of Queensland won an award for the Pitch Drop Experiment. The experiment demonstrates the fluidity and viscosity of pitch at room temperature. Sexy huh? Think watching paint dry is boring? The experiment started in 1927 and in all that time there have been only four drops. The next one isn't expected before 2011.

Other winners include the inventor of artificial dog testicles, called neuticles; researchers of whether people swim faster in syrup or water; the researcher who photographed every meal he had for 34 years; and the researchers that calculated the pressure that built up inside a penguin when it defecates.

All fun stuff.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Need a break?

Do you have a ten day holiday coming up? Then why not cycle across the country? See the sights - go streaking by. Get plenty of fresh air and it's a great way to lose weight.

New And Improved

So. . . Anyone can buy this at their local bus station, and use with immediate effect on, say, the bus driver. I feel safer already.

A Win for Consumers

According to this story the Australian High Court has found mod chipping to be legal.

Enough is enough

I keep hearing that now is not the right time to pressure the Indonesian government into banning Jemaah Islamiyah (JI). That it is too colonial and patronising of us to tell Indonesia what to do. Let's put it straight. 244 dead. Over 600 wounded. At what body count will it be the right time?

JI is a terrorist organisation. There is no doubting that. Their primary aim is to create a South-East Asian Islamic super-state that encompasses Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Cambodia, Thailand and Brunei thereby controlling a population of roughly 400 million people. And I do mean control, their version of Shariah law is all about control. So, it's not just Australians and other 'westerners' that are threatened by JI, it is the entire region. That's why they don't care about killing and maiming other Muslims. Most of their victims have been Indonesian. JI's motto is Death in the way of Allah is our highest aspiration. I dare say it should be 'Death in the way of Allah is their highest aspiration' referring to their fellow Muslims.

So what does Indonesia do? It bans JI immediately. Now, while the world is watching. It makes Indonesia look good. Like it's doing something in the 'War Against Terror'. Which it is. The government confiscates any and all property that JI or its members own. These guys are now outlaws and soon-to-be outcasts. It then hunts down the money trail - follow the money - and prosecutes anybody and everybody that financed JI. Prosecute anybody that helps them. Hunt them down one-by-one until they're all eliminated, imprisoned or have left for 'more favourable' places.

Playing nice with these guys and hoping that they're going to go away is never going to work. They have to be crushed. Utterly and totally. Indonesia failed to destroy them in the 50s. If it fails again it won't get another chance.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


Please keep your movie review to 150 words or less. Reviews exceeding 150 words cannot be published in full, due to technical limitations. Please keep you reviews to the point and free of extraneous grammer, for example, multiple question marks.
-- At the Movies Terms and Conditions

Pregnancy News Etiquette

Apparently, we fluffed the first rule of pregnancy announcements by not waiting until the third month before going public. This, apparently, is to avoid the embarassment of having to retract the happy news should the pregnancy miscarry. Ooookay.

Then there's informing the family, which involves a complicated set of protoccols to which I was oblivious. What I was supposed to do was discreetly mention to one or two relatives that there was a possibility that we might be expecting, and then let the gossip permeate its way through the extended family grapevine, with the eventual result that my unsuspecting mother would be continually and pleasantly ambushed by the congratulations of well-wishers.

Or something like that. Next time, we might just wait til the whole thing was over before we tell anyone.

Photo Fun

These were sent to us by TP's Dad:


Five Fav Things. . .

. . . Skribe has said to me when clothes-shopping:

  1. "You realise those are mid-life-crisis pants."
  2. "Nice hat. Pity it makes you look like an air-stewardess."
  3. "Maybe when you become a grandmother."
  4. "Unfortunately, that dress will make you look like a waitress in a Chinese restaurant."
  5. "Hello, Lee Lin Chin."

The War With Access

It seems our favourite community broadcaster has been telling local producers that Foxtel is demanding exclusivity rights for any content which airs on their community channel Aurora.

Foxtel does not demand exclusive rights, and are getting annoyed about this campaign of misinformation. Come to think of it, Melbourne 31 doesn't demand exclusivity either. So where does Access 31 get this idea they can and should have complete ownership of other people's work for three years, pay no royalties in all that time, and profit from it how they like?

We make these programs out of our own money, damnit. Access 31 won't pay local producers for providing content, but want us to pay them $380/half hour to broadcast our shows. On the other hand, they will happily buy overseas dreck to fill up community airtime so they can justify not putting local content on.

If you think it's hard getting your voice heard in the commercial media, try getting it heard on Perth's own community broadcaster.

This is ToxicPurity reporting from the frontlines in the ongoing War With Access 31.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

...and it's goodnight from him

Vale Ronnie


Some bugger put a bloody great big skating ramp in my exercise area. It's for the Gravity Games H20, which takes place Oct 6 to 9.

Which Serenity Character Are you?

You scored as Capt. Mal Reynolds.

The Captain. You are the captain of the ship, so the crew are your responsibility. You just want to do the job, get paid and keep flying. Why is that always so hard?
Which Serenity character are you?
created with


Serenity Good. Make Pants happy. Pants have irrational desire for sequel. Maybe start up TV show again.

Serenity Reviews Review

Over lunch I've been checking out the reviews for Serenity. For the most part people love it.

One hated it because it 'wasn't like the tv series', which is cool, but somewhat short-sighted. From what I've read the events in the movie were due to take place in the tv-series had it not been cancelled. And anyway, there's only so much you can do with a bunch of looser thieves and pirates. At some point they have to do something that makes their tale worth telling. Serenity is a good start. Hopefully, the next two movies (yes, it's part of a three picture deal) will get the green light and we'll see more.

One reviewer not only didn't like the movie but proceeded to rip into Joss Whedon for using nazi references. It makes me wonder how closely they were paying attention to the Firefly dvds the reviewer 'bought and watched twice'. It's brown coats not brown shirts, numbnut.

It has been a long time since I've heard this sort of word-of-mouth buzz about a film. Usually it gets drowned out by the studio, but apart from a couple of ads a few days before the opening Universal has been mostly silent - at least on this side of the planet. In fact, I dare say I haven't heard this sort of buzz from the 'fans' since a little SF movie opened in 1977. Big call? We'll see. An avalanche always starts with a single pebble.

Ten reasons

According to this article a new study has shown that Australians trust our defence forces more than the church. Here's ten reasons why:

  1. Their higher authority physically exists
  2. They haven't been convicted of molesting children
  3. They're tax-payer funded not a tax dodge
  4. They have a better uniform
  5. They're trained professionals
  6. There's no such thing as a church surplus shop
  7. When you're invaded who do you want defending you?
  8. Better toys
  9. You get their benefits now, not after you've died
  10. They serve and protect not preach and demonise

Monday, October 03, 2005

Six Degrees To Bali

Was just chatting with the photographer up the lane who was in Bali over the weekend on a shoot. Missed one by six hours and the other by two. He says this one doesn't bother him as much the one three years ago, but he's certainly not his usual cheerful self today.

Seems the other one was a much closer thing, as he was supposed to meet a friend at the bar. Over the phone, his friend informed him that the guy standing next to him had lost his leg, and the guy standing next to him... well, they couldn't find him at all.

The photographer was planning on heading back that way in about six weeks for the Jimmy Barnes concert, but he's wondering if they'll go through with it now. Life goes on, after all, but. There's always going to be that But.

The War Is On

It looks like the battlelines between Unnamed Community Television Production House and Access 31 have been drawn. Our committee refused to sign the 3-year exclusivity contracts and so Access has dropped our programs.

Much frenetic activity in the office right now as we inform all involved parties, like the art galleries whose exhibition openings will now be screened nationally on Foxtel and on Melbourne 31.

Access 31 would like to think that cutting off our access to Perth audiences is going to hurt us, but we're gaining an interstate and national audience instead, and being screened by reputable professional broadcasters, so frankly, it's Access 31 who's lost this round.

Remember, community television: it's television about the community, by the community, and for the community.

Sunday, October 02, 2005


And I thought I had a bad night.

Listening to the news, about the only thing that's pissing me off more than the callousness of the terrorists is the callousness of the media constantly harping on about the number of Australian fatalities, as if that was the only thing that mattered.

Thirty-one other people are dead, you parochial leeches. Thirty-one other people who aren't going to come back to bed, or wake up hungover, or eat breakfast, or go to work. Thirty-one other people who won't be saying Good Morning to their families and friends like you blithely say Good Morning to Lexie and Howard and then ask idiotic questions about whether Australians were being targeted.

People are dead! Everyone is being targeted! I personally find this much scarier than the fact that I happen to have an Australian passport. Do your damned jobs, or get off our airwaves and put the people with phonecams on instead.

Saturday, October 01, 2005


There we go. Tonight, following a trivial disagreement over dinner and leftovers I found myself sitting on the bathroom floor in the dark sobbing my eyes out.

I can't entirely explain the thought processes that led there - I don't think logic had much to do with it. Lately I'd begun experiencing bouts of tiredness, where I just flop and it takes about ten to fifteen minutes before I can find the energy to get up and do anything again, like take off shoes or put groceries away. I've been easily distracted and somewhat more absent-minded than usual, and unmotivated at work. It's possibly depression, but I don't feel down. Hell, I was racing Skribe down flights of stairs in the city today. I was feeling great.

Then tonight, we have one little spat over what happened to yesterday's freaking salad and I have to sit down somewhere, anywhere, and I can't stop crying, and I just desperately want to be left alone.

Skribe, to his endless credit, managed to comfort an emotionally distressed partner, cook a beautiful dinner, and make bad jokes all at the same time.

The only way I can stop the crying right now is basically to turn off. Anything that might lead to an emotional response - skribe saying he loves me, or my frustration and anger at this damned crying fit, for example - will set me crying again. I can't control it.

I don't care if it's hormones. I don't like this. This feels awful. It feels like something else is driving this body and I'm just a passenger.

Meme time

Thanks to Perth Penguinista for these:

I feel so dirty.