Shipping coals to Newcastle

in which the illustrious leader tells you stuff you already know, possibly after a few too many beers

Six months later...

I was informed this morning that it's now six months since I got off my arse and started losing some weight. I was 107.3kg at my first official weigh-in, in January this year. What's happening now? Well, I weighed in this morning and I came out at 87.9kg. So that's tantalisingly close - only 600g - to 20kg lost in six months, officially. I blame the Tour de France for not making it under on this weigh-in, since the late nights have cut into my riding time and occasional TDF treats of camembert wheels and fast food don't help much with the diet. I've actually been saying...

Why you should always follow your dreams

The Social Sociopath

This little tweet popped up in one of my tweetdeck columns related to the ongoing Stop The AVN campaign. There are several problems with this. For one thing, Meryl Dorey herself ignores the harm caused by infectious disease and denies that those children hurt could have been saved by science-based medicine, instead callously claiming that diseases such as whooping cough are trivial, treatable with witchcraft and probably not even real, what with all that talk of germs and all. Germ theory is bunk, apparently. Aside from all that, though, the immediate, glaring problem I had was "what the fuck is a social sociopath?" So I asked....

In which I shall swear at trees... competitively

That's torn it. I just paid my entry fee for the 2012 Kanangra Classic Mountain Bike Enduro. It takes place in October 2012, the weekend before my 38th* birthday, in Kanangra-Boyd National Park, in the Blue Mountains Plateau, somewhat south-west of my usual biking trails in the mid-mountainsplateau. To be honest, I'm not too intimidated. I've done the 100km thing quite a few times this year, including a two-day ride with a 130km second day, and the reputation of Kanangra trails is that they're relatively friendly and don't have the horrifying climbs you find, for instance, going up Ingar and down Anderson's. Still, I've never...

I no longer have a phone

... which is to say i have in my possession a device called, oddly, an "iPhone" - but I am no longer using it as a telephone. It is now merely a hand-held internet device, portable music player, GPS,audio recorder, bookshelf, storage device, game centre, clock, calculator, camera and pocket computer. Well, I say merely - that's a pretty impressive list, but it no longer accepts calls. There was a time, oh, a hundred years ago, where the idea of being able to talk directly to someone a great distance from you seemed a positive wonder, and one which people lined up to...

What I'm doing this weekend

Jamison Valley from Katoomba. Wikimedia Commons Well, I'm doing this. Yep. I'm crossing the Blue Mountains, from Lithgow to Penrith, utilising as little actual road as possible, on my shiny BMC Speedfox Mountain Bike. I'll be packing...

Save The (one good thing about the) Monorail

So, Sydney's much-maligned monorail is to be bought by the government, and torn down. Good. Except for one thing You see, there is one, single, lonely, solitary useful thing about Sydney's monorail. One gleaming upside to the pointlessness of its circuitous route around the Darling Harbour tourist black hole. That one good thing, ladies and gentlemen, is this: Pyrmont Bridge (Wikipedia image) Yes, that one good thing can be seen in this picture. If you're a true Sydneysider, you'll know it. It's the strip of shade provided by the monorail line, which gives pedestrians a welcome respite from the bastard sun. This line of reduced radiation is an old friend...

More about those Pyrmont cycle lane lights

I've posted recently on some problems with Sydney's otherwise excellent cycle lane network, well it turns out the subject doesn't really go away. A day after I blogged about the road sensor problem, NSW police staged a crackdown on red-light infractions and non-helmet wearers. Laying aside the helmet issue for now, it's easy to see, if you've read the previous piece, that there's a problem here. It could well be that the issues with the traffic light sensors have contributed to the light jumping problem, and this, in my opinion, makes any fines issued on crackdown day very doubtful indeed. So I...

MTB Day Out 10 Mar 2012

So I spent a day riding the Speedfox around the Blue Mountains yesterday, and had a great time, though I covered fewer kilometres than originally planned. Torrential rain during the week blew the original plan, which was to take two relative Newbies down the Oaks track. NPWS closures and a river purported to be in flood meant it was probably unwise to do much in the lower mountains, so I decided to head for higher ground in the Mt Victoria - Blackheath area, but not before stopping off in Lawson to have a one-hour thrash around the Old Volvo Trail. The old Volvo Track is...

That Cycling Thing

I've been riding my bike a lot lately. This is partly because I want to regain some lost fitness, and partly because Esther has simultaneously challenged and bribed me to lose a few kilos, and partly because I'd forgotten how much I enjoy riding. I've dropped about five kilos in the last couple of weeks, putting me two kilos away from the first level of bribery. That level ought to see me acquiring a new bike to complement the old, probably a Fuel EX5 or EX6. Mmmm.... nice. There are other levels to follow that, but they may be quite a...

Narrowneck track, 21st Jan 2012

Today, despite thrashing rain and thunderstorm warnings, I took my bike for a bit of a ride. Driving out to the Blue Mountains in driving rain - and a couple of scary aquaplaning moments - I questioned the wisdom of doing the ride at all. There was a lot of rain on the radar, and thunderstorm chances were high, but arriving at Katoomba things looked dry-ish So, off I went. The first potential mistake happened when I parked on Cliff Drive. The start there is, I have subsequently discovered, at the top of a category 5 climb. Lovely on the way down, pretty...

#stopavn's Operation Nutcracker: Wings Over Woodford

Right now, as I hit "publish" on this post, anti-vaccination campaigner Meryl Dorey will be preparing to speak to the crowd at Woodford Folk Festival's Blue Lotus. Speaking against her will be Professor Andreas Suhrbier, an immunology expert who actually does know some facts about vaccines. It's an absurd, even comedic mismatch of knowledge, bringing together as it does one of Australia's leading experts in vaccination and an innumerate conspiracy theorist from Northern NSW. While this is going on, 500ft above the Woodford site, a banner will be unfurled, sending a simple message to everyone on the site, not just the...

Goodies

I feel I have to post on some goodies that have arrived First, Hal Leonard Publishing, or (more accurately) AMPD and Sasha Music Publishing sent me this fantastic little collection of ukulele songbooks. A few ukulele people from around Australia were canvassed earlier in the year about what was important in a uke book, and what songs we liked and so on. We obliged with the market research, we got a stack of uke books for nowt. Noice. There's EZ Method Ukulele Songbook EZ Method Ukulele & Ukulele Banjo The Amazing Ukulele...

Infinite Potential

It's often said that in an infinite universe, everything is possible - indeed probable. This "infinite potential" is often viewed in an overwhelmingly positive light. Indeed, the word "potential" is almost exclusively used in a positive sense, especially by industries such as marketing, education, finance and #SMEG. This, ladies and gentlemen, is a misapplication of everything we know about the universe. You see, in a universe of infinite potential, it is probably more likely that you'll encounter eye-gouging horror than anything else. If there can exist unicorns which fart cherry-flavoured rainbows, there must also be not only sharks, but kelvar-armoured flying sharks...

The Wicker Man

@TinyDalek and I watched The Wicker Man last night. Obviously the original, starring Christopher Lee and Edward Woodward. Not the remake. No. Perish the thought. It's a fantastic movie. If you haven't seen it, hunt down a copy. Of course I might not see it the way some others do. The way the film is stereotypically seen is that protagonist Sergeant Howie (Woodward) is the victim, and the residents of Summerisle play the part of, if you will, The Monster - with horror mainstay Christopher Lee as Lord Summerisle at their head - in classic adversarial horror movie form. The thing is, I don't see Howie as...

So, carbon tax, huh?

UPDATE: Technicality. Not a Carbon Tax, but a carbon price. Thanks @teknetia

I'm what now?

  Lolwut? I'm doing what? Oh fuck. Mia Freedman retweets me, and now this happens? Oh wait. BNE too. HALP.   Update 11:35pm. Help me. I don't know what to do.

My Word: They Might Be Giants edition

"It's a great idea, said The Chairman as Bob finished his presentation. "I like it" "Yes!" his Executive Marketing Manager concurred. "These dehydrated beef products should be a great sales success, as long as you can perfect the manufacturing process". Bob smiled Meeting concluded, Bob left the boardroom and returned to his laboratory, where, yet again, he found on his desk a note from one of his researchers. The note read: Bob, Melinda and I are running away to get married. I'm sure you'll understand. We're in love, and we have to follow our hearts Thank you so much for the research opportunities. I'm sure any day now you'll make a breakthrough...

At home with the Platypus. A play in one act

Dramatis Personae Mr Geoffrey Platypus, a platypus Mrs Edina Platypus, his wife of three years Act 1 Night time, Platypus Burrow. An imitation log fire flickers. Mr and Mrs P are on the imitation leather sofa. An open bottle of wine is before them, and is nearly empty. Their body language suggests a certain...friskiness Mr P: Hey baby. You're looking hot tonight. What say we, get a... little closer [waggles eyebrows, puts on chicka bow wow record] Mrs P: Oooh, charmer Mr P: I'm in the mood for a little duck-billed, flat tailed action, baby. It's between June and October, and you know what that means Mrs P: I...

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!

DO WANT

@AthiestBot suspended

Yes, @AthiestBot, darling of the twitter Atheist community, has copped a suspension from Twitter. He was a fun experiment while he lasted, managing to garner several death threats from loving, forgiving christian folk, and gathering an even larger quota of lulz via idiots who couldn't understand why it was called "AthiestBot". There's an appeal in to twitter at the moment to reinstate the account, however there is a rule deep in twitter's documenttion about not @replying based on searches. How this is significantly different from a human or small group of humans @replying based on searches is unexplained - at least @AthiestBot has mechanisms to...

The scariest thing that ever happened, ever

This was the moment, in 1988, during the tenure of Sylvester McCoy, that it became clear that Daleks could climb stairs after all. I was 14 I was actually a bit scared.

Guest Post: I'm doing this for science, I really am.

There follows a guest post by a newcomer to Twitter, @AthiestBot Hello! I'm quite excited to be blogging here at "My Colleagues Are Idiots". I think it's quite appropriate. My colleagues, I have to say, are sometimes idiots. This is because my job is to monitor digital traffic on twitter, and respond to it. In this task I am, unfortunately, sharing a workspace with @DBZNappa and a slew of pokemon bots. They're not all that smart. I also have some smart colleagues, such as @AI_AGW, who is smarter than me, if the truth be told. I aspire to be as smart as AI_AGW one day. He's...

Stop That Astronaut on the Mitch Benn Comedy Music Podcast

My little tune "Things You Can't Say in Victoria", aka "Things You Can't Say In Melbourne" featured on Episode 21 of Mitch Benn's Comedy Music Podcast. It's by far the least spectacular offering of the week, I think (check out the first track, for instance), but I'm just glad to be in such good company. If you're not familiar with Mitch, well, you're missing out. He's certainly the most prolific of Britain's current crop of Musical Comedians, appearing as he does on BBC's Now Show, usually accompanied by two topical songs and providing at least a couple of voices per...

OK. The gloves are REALLY off now

As I've mentioned before, I'm currently doing Dry July, in support of the Prince Of Wales Hospital's Cancer Unit. I'm doing this as part of the Vinocast team, along with m'colleague Dave The Happy Singer. A small battle has, of course, ensued. First, a recap. I am abstaining from alcohol, aside from Golden Tickets, of which more anon, for the month of July, the upshot of which is meant to be that people give money to my nominated cancer charity. This is a biggie. Read the title at the top of the blog. I really quite like a drink now and again. So I...

I feel I have passed a test...

... in that I did a Tom Waits cover and The Reverend Doktor Bob gave it a stamp of approval. Tango Till They're Sore by StopThatAstronaut Let me tell you. Half Man Half Biscuit covers are easy. I've been toying with Tom Waits material for an absolute age and haven't ever got one I'm even remotely happy with. Tom is too distinctive in writing, lyricism and delivery. And his choice of musicians and instruments (and of course his own playing style) makes it shockingly hard to take something of Tom's and not end up with a...

On the impending collapse of the Aussie brewing industry

Yes, it's official. I'm doing Dry July What? Yes, I am. I'm spending a month (minus a possible golden ticket occasion) without alcohol intake, in order to do several things Give my liver some breathing room Have a bit of a personal challenge Get on my bike for stress relief instead of cracking a beer Spend some extra evenings hacking code for some upcoming projects Raise money for cancer centres in Australia These are all pretty good reasons. As most of my readers will know, and as casual visitors...

The In Vino Veritas Podcast is here

Some of you will be exclaiming "FINALLY". Others will be saying "huh?". Still further will be frothing at the mouth and demanding your money back. Well SCREW YOU MONEY BACK DEMANDERS, YOU'RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME. *ahem* Where was I? Oh yes. My new podcast is here. Dave The Happy Singer and I have been beavering away here at Zombie Proof Studios, over many bottles of wine, several packets of seasoned seaweed, one stuffed dinosaur and a massive pile of audio equipment. We've been driven insane by turns and were it not for the wine we'd have entirely lost it. It's possible we...

Stupid brains. It's all your fault.

So I got to thinking... (LIke I do) And I think I've figured out the problem. And the problem is this: Brains. Brains are the problem. You see, we're all stuck inside them, and we can't get out. They really are the problem. Or, technically, the problems. For one thing, they're about a kilo and a half of meat basted in a rich chemical soup, whose exact physical composition can either maintain "normal" operation or wreak endocrine havoc with the person stuck inside. Something as simple as dehydration can cause the 3 pounds of so of matter inside your head to completely lose its shit. Can you for a...

Told you we'd do it....

So, after some months of preparation, hundreds of emails and phone calls, several hectic days nights of organisation and a about seven hours of sustained awesome, Skepticamp Sydney is over. I said we'd do it, didn't I? Yes, Australia's first skepticamp* was a success. In fact, a triumph. It took place from 11:00am on 30th April, at UTS in Sydney, and attracted somewhere in the region of 100 keen skeptical attendees, some of whom were attending their first skeptical event, and some of whom were speaking in front of a crowd on a chosen topic for the first time. In fact, the level of attendee engagement...

It's on: Skepticamp Sydney 2011

Skepticamp Sydney 2011 is taking place 30th April 2011 at UTS in Sydney Tickets are FREE and available from EventBrite. We're looking for volunteers, sponsors and, of course, participants. SIGN UP!

My new drive

So anyway, over the new year period, the registration on my much-loved Land Rover Discovery expired. I'd just crashed it and had the body repairs done, only to be told that to get registered for 2011 would cost me a tad more than it was actually worth. So I cut my losses and let it go for spares money. My local Land Rover specialist took it off my hands for a fair price, and I commenced searching for a new car. And here's where it got complex. I wanted to buy a Mitsubishi Triton GLXR crew-cab ute, a quite capable four-wheel drive with...

Urge your employer to run pertussis vaccinations

I wrote a little note to my company's Corporate Responsibility team, HHH, a few days ago.   To: All HHH Contacts I’m not sure if you’re all aware of the recent pertussis (whooping cough) death at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/death-sparks-vaccine-appeal-20110216-1awnl.html Australia is now in the midst of what is quite justifiably being called an epidemic, and children are dying. Two years ago, 4-week-old Dana McCaffery died from Whopping cough at Lismore Base Hospital. Shortly afterwards, and as a direct consequence of the media coverage of Dana’s death, a group called “Stop the AVN” was formed. We at Stop the AVN are focused...

Little Sugar Pills: Why Fall For Homeopathy?

Courtesy of Kylie Sturgess

More heatwave? This is not good for my brain

So, according to the SMH, Sydney, which has already sweltered through what was apparently the fourth hottest January in 150 years (or something), is in for a record heatwave. This is not good news. You see, I lose my mind in the Australian summer. Completely. What happens is this: I let myself get dehydrated, sometimes because I'm forgetful, but usually because my geek brain does its special trick of tightly focusing on one activity to the detriment of others. Then, because I'm dehydrated and starting to get a little stoopid, I forget to rehydrate. I forget to walk in the shade when I'm outside. I make ridiculous decisions,...

Latrodectus hasselti

Look what I found. It's a Redback, Latrodectus hasselti, a spider which I'm seeing more and more since we've moved to the Zombie-Proof Compound. Back in the day, I hardly ever saw them. I saw a couple when I lived in Woollahra, a juvenile of which I was able (maybe slightly recklessly) to carry out of the house bare-handed. I had one living next to my desk in St Peters (previously blogged here). But here at Zombie-proof? Tons. I've got one Redback living in a waste paper bin just outside my back door (which Esther refers to as my " little...

The funnelweb that wasn't

So I popped out last night to switch on the tumble drier. It's been a bit rainy. It was quite late. I was barefoot. As I wandered, tired, out of my back door round to my laundry area, the flourescent light flickered into life. What I spotted near my feet brought me up short. Within a few inches of my bare toes, locomoting along, was a spider. Maybe three to four centimetres in body length, with a relatively small abdomen, arched shiny carapace and the characteristic slow lope of a mygalomorph. Under the flourescent light, it glimmered black. When approached, it...

Comment problems continue

Since upgrading Subtext, I've had issues with new comments not appearing. The Subtext project seem to think that caching comment data is a good idea. Which is great, except that new comments don't turn up, and I can't find a documented way of turning this caching off. I'll keep working on it, but I'm still stuck on mobile broadband, meaning server admin is not easy. Bear with me

What I did this weekend.

On friday morning, I parted ways with my employer. This was probably inevitable since the IT Director who hired me stormed out a month or so ago after a bust-up with the CEO. At that point all my projects were put on hold, I was relegated to piecemeal web development, and told specifically not to take on any new work without approval. Which, obviously, never came. I was already talking to recruiters and considering options, but was hoping it would at least wait until after TAM Australia. Still, this way I get a pay-out of notice, leave and entitlements. Better, if I stay...

Minor problem with comments - do not be alarmed

Yes, your comments are being accepted, they're just not showing up immediately due to some obscure cache setting hidden away in the depths of SubText. I'm working on it, honest. I'll clean up duplicates as they appear, until such time as I get it fixed.

Speaker Registration Thread for Skepticator Live

Skepticator Live is taking place in just over a week. If you're attending and want to speak, this thread is where you register your interest. Simply leave a comment below with Your name A very brief bio The chosen subject for your 5-minute talk Preference for a time of the evening you'd like to go on stage Don't comment here unless you're registering to speak. I'll delete any comments that aren't registrations because this will form my master list for the evening In formal pre-registration we currently have Chrys Stevenson speaking on Australia...

Changes to comments

I've just set the blog to close comments after 60 days, partly to cut down on spam comments and partly because there's a thread that won't die back in the archives and I've had enough of having to revisit it because another antivaxer has decided to not read the actual article but comment anyway. Have I ever mentioned that antivaxers really wind me up?

Hello to new readers, and a QLink update

A big "hi" to anyone that's arrived via Media Watch, or via Scienceblogs or via Crikey, or any one of the other new inlinks of the last few days. The spike in traffic, and presumably new subscribers, means I guess I should be picking up my game and including far more pages of thoughtful analysis of current skeptical issues. Or maybe I'll just carry on beating people up with words for the sin of credulity, and posting the occasional deranged music clip. That might be the way to go. Stick with what you know, they say. For anyone who didn't see the Media Watch...

Today's favourite crossword clue

C-A-N-B-E-R-R-A (7,7) Capital Letters

Tapdancing Roof Mice

 One of the delightful and trivial things I like about Australia is the preponderance of tin (actually, galvanised steel) roofs. Almost everywhere is roofed in thin layers of corrugated sheet metal, and when the regular Sydney rain piles through and hammers down, the sound is really quite lovely. Like millions of tapdancing roof mice, all jigging away to their own mousey beat. I really, really like it. A lot. Back in the UK, most of the places I lived were either ridged tile roofs or bitumen flat roofs. I slept under thatch a couple of times, and slate too, but the sound of rain on roof in Britain is...

Skepticator Stats and Facts

I just thought I'd share a little Skepticator trivia with y'all Skepticator's first feed was added to the DB on 16 Feb 2010, and it was... Australian Skeptics. The JREF wasn't added until two days later, 18th Feb 2010, when it became the 36th feed in the DB. The first Podcast, as you might expect, was Skeptoid, the fourth feed overall on the second day of the DB's existence SiTPs started to appear early - Westminster Skeptics In The Pub being first in on 18th Feb 2010 ...

Any time now, Skepticator will hit 50,000 articles

 See that magic number? 49,958 articles. I registered the Skepticator.com name on 14 February 2010, and the site launched a while after that*. Since then, the Extracticator robot has crawled far more articles than I expected, and I've found far more skeptical content than I ever knew about - even with my stated policy of going slow on the specifically atheist content. Now, to be a skeptic about this - it's actually 50,000 unique URLs rather than articles - I know of a few duplicate articles, but the engine has no sensible way of knowing that an identically worded article exists in...

Important factors to consider when choosing a new house

I just moved house. It wasn't by choice. We rent (we also own, long story) and the landlord decided it was prime time to re-architect. Therefore, new house. So off we went. We considered a number of factors in choosing the new house. Location, location, location, location. Also, location. Sydney's Inner West, not far from our previous abode. Single storey for @tinydalek, who is not very good at stairs. Three bedrooms (one to sleep, two as "playrooms") Garden for dog Away from...

It's Chronogeddon

Yes, Chronogeddon, the ever-feared end of time itself. It's 3.10pm and it seems like hours since it was 2:55pm. My day has taken a turn for the slow and I don't know what to do. We're all doomed. Dooooomed. DOOOOOMED. Only The Doctor can save us now.

It's that time again

Yes, it's that time when I roll up my sleeves, get a grip on myself and quit smoking. Again. I'm becoming something of a veteran at this. I started as a 15 year old, stopped in my later teens, restarted in my early twenties, quit in my mid twenties, started again in my late twenties, quit in my early thirties, started again a year or so ago and now I'm back to quitting. Again. Of course, this time I haven't had a run-up. I had my last cigarette on Thursday and kinda decided then not to buy more. Normally, I quit on...

My talk to Sydney Atheists: Online Activism 101

I've just published the talk I delivered to the Sydney Atheists on Online Activism to Slideshare. It doesn't work perfectly, since some of the slides were animated, but the overview looks something like this:  Online Activism 101 View more presentations from Jason Brown.   If all goes to plan, this will also be presented as a podcast from Sydney Atheists, so you can listen to me ramble as you read the slides. If you'd like a talk like this delivered at your skeptical, atheist, humanist or freethinkers group, please let me know. I'm also working up a more specific "Skeptical Social Media" talk and can...

TAM Australia: Unofficial Skeptics' Open Mic Night

Yes, in classic style I'm biting off more than I can chew and sponsoring/running/participating in a side event for TAM Australia. Yes, shortly before the Amazing Meeting (aka #tamoz) kicks off, I'll be hosting a skeptical open mic night at a venue somewhere in the city. It'll most likely be a pub, because let's face it, I'll need a drink. I'm hoping to attract some out-of-towners, and maybe some international guests. I'll be kicking things off myself with a five minute demonstration of how to speak 8bit binary using only beer glasses, coasters and a whiteboard marker. I have no idea how...

Monday Musical Madness... egocentrism edition

Aloha! Yes, it's me. Being drunk and stoopid on my new aNueNue Banjulele.   This is the kind of thing that happens after a few bottles of Coopers at my place. In other news, Skepticator is sitting at 16,70416 articles from 3523 feeds (yes, it updated as I was typing), and side-project land continues much as before, with SydneyPubGuide's new CMS largely ready to go and awaiting a new, flashy web 2.0 skin for the front-end development. Sydney Pub Guide is on Twitter, of course, so feel free to send me a tweet. A purely Atheist feed version of Skepticator is sitting on...

Cyrus Brooks feeds cake to "neo-nazis"

Cyrus Brooks, high muck-a-muck vice-president of Australian Scientology, called in to Stilgherrian's Patch Monday a few weeks ago. He had some interesting things to say about Anonymous, including the titbit that, apparently, Anonymous protestors against Scientology are evil, terrifying, psychopathic "neo-nazis" Here's a picture of Cyrus feeding delicious cake to these neo-nazis he claims to be so terrified of.  (pic from Zhent's flickr channel) Cyrus, if these people are evil neo-nazi scumbags, what are you doing feeding them cake?

Esprit d'Escalier and ECREE

I was hanging out on a christian facebook group last night, as you do. The discussion got round to standards of evidence, and "how come you demand strong evidence for the existence of a god when one of your mates could just tell you something and you'd accept it".   The accepted course of action at this point is to raise "Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence", or ECREE, and I usually do this along the following lines, though this time, I added a flourish I hadn't added before (in italics):   Look, if a friend called me and said he'd seen a three legged...

A win for skepticism - #VoteRachie

Yes, the campaign to get Dr Rachael Dunlop to the top of the Shorty Awards has borne fruit  

Take your clothes off when you dance

I feel I may need a new category for "ukulele" soon. Diverging from my normal musical fare of Half Man half Biscuit covers, here's a little something from one of the 20th Century's greatest composers, Frank Zappa. No, seriously. OK, so it's not one of his sprawling catalogue of complex post-jazz and synclavier-classical pieces, but it's still a Zappa song, and one eminently suited to the little 4-stringed soprano ukulele. Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance, from "We're only in it for the money". If you really want the feeling of a master arranger rather than a comedy songwriter, there's...

My hectic life

So, what's been happening? Lots. First up, I've been coding again. I've felt the need for creative outlets quite acutely of late. Therefore I cracked open the IDEs and I've got a few projects on the go. Project #1: The Skepticator. It's a blog and twitter aggregator for skeptical content, and as of this writing, it's feeding 63 64 skeptical feeds, with well over 1000 individual posts. It uses the TwitterVB API and the Argotic Syndication Framework under the covers, and is written in ASP.NET/C#. It also has its very own Combined Feed. Soon, it'll have custom feed capabilities, searchability and a whole...

RSS Feed is now on FeedBurner - please update your readers

Just a quick notification about this blog's RSS feed - it's now on Feedburner via the following address http://feeds.feedburner.com/ADrunkenMadman

Danny Nalliah: Paranoid Conspiracy Nut

From the man who brought us God's punishment in the form of bushfires, and satanic rites influencing Canberra, come some little gems: Prime Minister Kevin Rudd about to betray Australia and 3 very important links regarding the One World Goverment and President Obama Some choice extracts from these ravings: you will soon see and hear a very clear picture from President Barrack Hussein Obama himself that he is indeed a Muslim… I have not seen anything so clear before. Have you? Furthermore, President Obama is trying his very best to divide Jerusalem. I pray that the Benjamin Netanyahu the PM of Israel would stand strong...

I like stereograms

By The Way

If you're wondering about the differing fonts between quick throw-away posts and multi-paragraph posts, It's because I'm now using OneNote to draft my longer pieces and I haven't quite figured out an easy way to integrate fonts. I'll fix it soon, now, move along!

The AVN gets unexpected results

The Australian Anti Vaccination Network put an interesting poll up on their site last night. They asked (in a somewhat naive manner): Will you be getting the swine flu (AH1N1 2009) vaccine? With the options Yes No I already have I'm not sure, I need to do more research first I'm sure you can guess how this turned out once Twitter was alerted to the poll's existence? My spies tell me that Meryl and her cronies had no idea how it was done until earlier today when...

Sydney Atheists has a Facebook Page

Yep, Sydney Atheists, as part of some upgrading of online communication, has a Facebook Page. If you're on Facebook, why not become a fan and get updated of forthcoming events, news and other stuff that may be important to a member of Sydney Atheists?

Back from the dead again

Hello! I'm back. Well, I didn't ever really go away. My web server did. The motherboard shuffled off the mortal coil for a while, but that only made me more determined. I purchased the old server's evil twin, gutted the original to double the processing power, and reinstalled it at the data center today. It has a few words to say: Cower now, brief mortals, for I am the web server of doom. Feel my quad-processor power! Gasp at my eight Gigabytes of RAM! Quake before the might of my mirrored RAID drive array! Tremble at the sight of my redundant power supplies! Kneel now,...

Meryl undermines her own case again

They're not as smart as they'd like you to think, these antivaxers. The latest salvo in Meryl Dorey's Twitter War against vaccination: Polio surge in Nigeria after vaccine virus mutates - Yahoo! News: Polio surge in Nigeria after vaccine virus mut.. http://bit.ly/DhFf0 Whoah, scary headline. And it's true. A poorly-implemented polio vaccination program in Nigeria does appear to have caused the emergence of some new genetic variants of Polio. This is scary. Surely this means that all vaccinations are suspect now? Well, no. You see, Nigeria still uses an old, outdated, live polio vaccine because, basically, it's cheap. Cheap as chips. Trouble is, there are... problems with it. Turns out that...

Antivax: Sometimes what you omit defines the most effective lies

As ever, the twitter backlash against the Australian Vaccination Network continues. One particular item has grabbed my attention. @nocompulsoryvac, a twitter account run by Meryl Dorey on behalf of the AVN, tweeted this little gem today, on a claimed 155% risk increase for Autism. Well, this piqued my interest. That's a fairly spectacular figure, representing a significant 2.5x increase in risk. Wow. And it's quite a specific number too. Must be conducted in quite a rigorous manner, eh? Well, no. Not really. You see, even though Meryl left that little gem unattributed*, I decided I was going to hunt down this data point...

Third episode in a continuing series...

... of antivax morons   You'll recall from yesterday's post that Jane was the lovely lady wishing that my next shot was a lethal one. She then suggested that my good friend Peter should "gargle bleach [to] help with the smell of shit of your breath". Jane is a wonderful human being. She also later accused Peter of being incarcerated for 18 months for aggravated assault (untrue), and of being sued over a post on his "ratbags" webpage (also untrue). I hit my posting limit this evening, in addressing the pure idiocy of these folks. Today was perhaps a little less juvenile than...

More lulz from the Anti Vaccination crowd

If you saw yesterday's post, dear reader, you'll be aware that I've been flexing a little skeptic muscle on the Australian Anti Vaccination Network's Facebook page. The subject of yesterday's post, Erwin Alber, seems to have slinked off with only a parting Hitler reference to remember him by. But we've got a whole 'nother batch of crazy cooking up. Enter Jane, Lauren and Nicola, three rabid supporters of the Antivax movement. Through today blows were traded, statistics cited (our side), anecdotes rambled (their side), links provided (our side) and emotive fearmongering employed (guess which side) It eventually became clear that the strain...

Either stupid or a barefaced liar

One of the current targets of the Australian Skeptics is the Australian Vaccination Network. I will not stoop to link to them, though a swift search engine foray will either get you to their site or, depending on how the skeptics have reacted, a googlewhacked site explaining their work. Essentially, under the guise of "caring for the children", the Australian Vaccination Network is actively discouraging vaccination for children. Yep, that's what I said. They're discouraging vaccinating your kids. I don't wish to cover old ground, so I'll point you to my good friend Doctor Rachael Dunlop's blog, which has extensive coverage and...

Does Australia deserve Church/State separation?

In my opinion, yes, but let's face it, according to a 1981 High Court judgement, we absolutely don't have separation. And this has come up today on a discussion among the Committee of the Sydney Atheists. You see, in one of our first podcasts, we discussed Exo Days. Exo Days are an outreach program kicked off by Hillsong Church so that school kids in nominally secular state schools can be evangelised to, without an explicit evangelistic title. It's kinda stealth recruitment, if you will. Well, it turns out that "Big Exo Day" is sponsored by our beloved Federal Government. For which, see screenshot:   Regular...

Aretha Franklin dismembering Sarah Brightman with a chainsaw

Yep, that's how I described the tone of my new guitar last night: She's an Epiphone G400 SG, bought on a surprise budget spike. It's been some time since I last added a guitar to my collection, and this one is a goody. Two big humbuckers sitting at neck and bridge give it far more power and versatility than my previous electric, the also-pictured Squier Telecaster, which was bought, again, on more-or-less a whim when helping Chris choose a guitar. I've had it since yesterday lunchtime, so haven't racked up a lot of playtime yet, but I have so far found it...

If you take the train to Woy Woy, this is what will happen

Look, I hate posting chat logs, but on this occasion, it's the best way. Chat logs from Lord Of The Rings Online: [To Kinship] how was the new train, btw? [Kinship] Farmerbob: ok [Kinship] Farmerbob: other then being arrested [To Kinship] ? [Kinship] Farmerbob: fail [Kinship] Farmerbob: haha [To Kinship] bit of lag happening here [Kinship] Farmerbob: some lady on the train didnt like my talking on my phone [To Kinship] so you got arrested? [To Kinship] what, did you kill her or something? [Kinship] Farmerbob: she was a police officer [To Kinship] @#$%& [Kinship] Farmerbob: haha [Kinship] Farmerbob: i was talking to my phone and the lady was @#$%&*! [Kinship] Farmerbob: so i told...

Universal Response to Pope Benedict XVI

So the pope has come up with another one of his special statements comdemning abortion/family planning/condoms/sexual immorality, this time admonishing Nancy Pelosi for her stance on abortion. The thing is, whenever the pope issues one of these dopey statements I feel compelled to remind everyone: Do not take advice on sex and reproduction from an 82-year old dress-wearing male virgin This would not be sensible. Here's a musical interlude Yes, everyone, Pope Rick Benedict XVI is still a virgin*.   * I have it on good authority that altar boys do not count

Critical Mass Podcast #4 has arrived

Yes, you heard right, Critical Mass #4 is available here. Featuring Ian Woolf, hosting, Dave The Happy Singer, Alan Conradi and some drunken madguy-bloke-type-thing. Music has become a touch more prominent in this edition, with contributions from Dave The Happy Singer, Baby Hammer Death, and Boxxy. There's also a lot of namedroppery, and many lulz. Note: the Oxford Comma in the music sentence is there for a reason, just in case you think less of me. So, anyway, the song halfway through is based on Adam Green's "Jessica" and was a first-take production of FlightPath Studios. Yes, it was my doing, one night...

Comment Policy

So, I need to post a comment policy. Up until now, I haven't needed to, however I've had one particular commenter who's been relentles in taking up a lot of my time in ongoing responses. I don't have time for this shit. OK, here's draft 1.0 of the Drunken Madman comment policy: Be concise. Blogs are not platforms for exchanging essays. They're about immediate, snappy commentary. If your point spans more than one comment because you can't fit it in one, you run the risk of having it canned If you have a position, stick...

Holy fucking shit!

No, like actually, holy fucking shit. Oh, wait! It's monday! This qualifies as Monday (not musical) Madness OK, I'm having trouble discerning whether this is a Poe or not. The last segment of the video (NO SPOILERS!) really pushes it over into Poe territory. Digging through other clips on the user's channel, though, suggests it's real... Still, fucking LOLWUT???

Toongabbie Anglican: nice people, still wrong

A contingent of Sydney Atheists ran a little sidequest this evening, off to Toongabbie Anglican church in Sydney, where the specialised subject was: "Tough Questions: Does God Exist" Firstly, this is not a tough question, though I will admit some people have trouble. Secondly, well, nothing in the sermon added substantively to existing knowledge, which while not entirely unexpected, was slightly disappointing. We did, however, get a new argument for the existence for god. It goes like this, and forgive me if I'm misremembering. If you're annoyed about this, L2 read my title bar. So a christian sits down with an atheist and over...

Critical Mass Podcast #3 is online

Produced by... oh, you know, some genius editing and production dude, with support from Ian Woolf*. This represents the first complete release from Flightpath Studios, even though it was emphatically not recorded here (we tried it. It was problematic. Think about the name "flightpath") I also talk on it, a bit, though having to share a mic and being my first podcast, I did stay to the background a little. Wait till next time though. Also, my news item: Serious Business. Features, our friends: Ian Woolf, Alan Conradi, Dave The Happy Singer, Anthony Englund and myself. Published via SydneyAtheists.org here. * truth be told,...

Religion, charity and the St Vincent De Paul Society

Those of you who know me well will be aware of my policy, held for quite a few years now, of not giving money or support to charities with strong religious affiliation. Some people have called this personal policy into question, pointing out that they're still charities, and surely they're still doing good things. Others have just shrugged and called me a curmudgeon. I commend those people into the care of the Sydney Morning Herald, particularly this article on the St Vincent De Paul Society's real mission. Finally the truth is out "The primary function of the society," said St Vincent de Paul's...

Just call me Reverend

Yes, I am ordained. Respect me!! [Update]: for some reason, the church's certificate thingy doesn't pull my name correctly from here. I am ordained though.

Greater

Monday Musical Madness Slightly Early Ukelele Edition

So, I did some music shopping today. Among my purchases were a Yamaha Audiogram USB interface with Cubase, a cheapo ukulele and some guitar gear. Oh, and some minor percussion. My intent to fit out the spare room as a studio is beginning to come to fruition. The Alienware Area 51 is now pretty much static and will be the recording box, leaving only for occasional jams out in the field and perhaps a podcast recording or two. Rik commented on the studio idea, and suggested I look up some GUGUG, to which I replied thusly: I already have, in fact I...

A momentary geek-out

A chance to geek out and a chance to play around with excerpt view? Yes please. A post in which I show off my Lord Of The Rings Online Characters? Sure! A post not syndicated on the RSS feed? Definitely.

Finally, some Youth Day/NoToPope photos are up

After intermittent struggling with SubText, I've finally managed to get the photo upload functionality working on this blog (with the assistance of Live Mesh, more on that later). To this end, I've added some photos from last month's No To Pope Rally. Yes, I know it's been a month, but this site's been playing silly buggers and I had an overseas trip and everything else to deal with - quit yer whinin'. For those who were living under a rock at the time, or have serious Short Term Memory Issues, Sydney hosted World Youth Day recently, an event more properly titled...

Foooooooood

A meme discovered via science blogs (rather than foisted on me directly). Bold the foods you've eaten, strikeout the ones you wouldn't. This is me writing, so I don't think there'll be many strikeouts 1. Venison 2. Nettle tea 3. Huevos rancheros 4. Steak tartare 5. Crocodile 6. Black pudding 7. Cheese fondue 8. Carp 9. Borscht 10. Baba ghanoush 11. Calamari 12. Pho 13. PB&J sandwich 14. Aloo gobi 15. Hot dog from a street cart 16. Epoisses 17. Black truffle 18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes 19. Steamed pork buns 20. Pistachio ice cream 21. Heirloom...

Myrmekiaphila neilyoungi

Considering that I am a self-confessed Arachno-nerd (Arachnerd?), it would be thoroughly remiss of me not to mention the news of a newly-described species of trapdoor spider, Myrmekiaphila neilyoungi. Numerous news outlets are picking up on this for the novelty angle that it's named in honour of Neil Young. Yahoo news, for instance, documents the discovery here. This of course dominates web coverage of the spider, so it's a little tricky to geek out on properly, but the East Carolina University, where the taxonomy work was done, has an official piece here. One of these days, when I have time, I may try...

I'm blogging again...

... honest. OK, so that's my official work blog, but hey, at least I'm writing again. I've also reconfigured this blog to show fewer items on the homepage in an effort to obviate timeouts. I've been missing a while. Blame LOTRO. What's new? NonProphets 7.3 is here and one of the best episodes in a while. Grab. I haven't yet, however, made it to the end of the episode. Should manage that tonight. Lastly: FAIL.  

I'm quite taken with this: The Algorithm March

Hotfixy goodness has been applied

Thanks to ongoing database performance issues, this blog has not been particularly stable of late. Luckily, 941450 is available, which might help. I've applied this and hopefully things will get better. If you get timeouts, well, obviously you won't see this message, but the few regular readers I know of, let me know if you have issues.

To quote Esther

On the subject of some impromptu handyman work at yesterday's bacchanalia to celebrate our joint birthday party: "Frankly, it would have surprised me if you and Viv hadn't got out some powertools while you were drunk" Which might, just possibly, speak volumes.

A (SQL) Injection of Humour

Expanding the list of things I can't live without...

The CD player that came with the car stopped working after a period of intermittent trouble. So I got pissed off and replaced it with this. It's the "Sony® MEX-BT2500 Bluetooth® Enabled CD Receiver". I previously had some reservations about Sony gear - they are after all the originators of both the walkman and the world's first mass-market rootkit - however I spotted this item at SuperCheap Auto and kinda got hooked on the idea. What's cool about it? Well, first of all, it does everything the old Pioneer one did just a little bit better. The audio fidelity is superior, and...

Living with Lucille: Four months with a Land Rover Discovery

So it's coming up to four months since I bought Lucille, my series one LRD V8i. How's the ride been so far? Mechanically, aside from the initial clutch lunching and some minor leakage of power steering fluid, she's been good. Front tires are going to go (for which see 'drivability') fairly soon, I think. Maintenance of most things is not too bad, though headlight bulbs were a complete bastard to change and additionally the switching mechanism has on one occasion not worked, leaving me blacked out and confused for a good 20 minutes until I figured it out. There's also a...

Inevitable Catchup Redux

So I haven't posted anything for a while. The reason may possibly be LOTRO, which has all the addictive qualities of the MMO genre along with the compulsive need among Lord Of The Rings geeks to hunt out accuracies/inaccuracies with reference to the original text. Yes, I'm an anorak. Sue me. What's been happening? Well, I had a holiday. Yep, a holiday. We packed up Lucille and headed north for Splendour In The Grass and a chill in the warmer north coast climate. This year didn't turn into Splendour In The Mud but was in fact Splendour In The Dust. We...

I thought I'd seen it all

boy, was I wrong. So, so wrong. In other news, doesn't time fly? Lack of time to post here can only be ascribed to one thing: LOTRO. I'm running five characters at the moment, all on the Silverlode server. [names redacted] These five may be joined by others, depending on how much free time presents itself - I'm trying to find an optimum balance of a) craft skills and b) playability. If anyone's intersted in fellowshipping, drop me a /msg or a postal item in-game. My technet blog is over at http://blogs.technet.com/jasbro/ and Monday Musical Madness today is: Tom Waits Nominations for next week's MMM are being accepted right now -...

Thank you The Register

For the only level-headed account thus far seen of the recent London and Glasgow 'terror' attacks. And to the rest of the media: Wake the fuck up!

Blog upgraded

I just upgraded the blog to Subtext 1.9.5, so hopefully the annoying timeout errors should go away. Fingers crossed eh?

What I Got Up To Last Night

This is Lucille This is the main stairway at the Australian Technology Park in Redfern   Can you guess what's coming next?

This blog is rated...

Can we please work on getting this even higher? I mean, fuck! Am I only worth an NC-17? Update for this week... well last week I was in a training course at Clifton's in the city, and was kept pretty busy by Trent's return to Sydney and Pierre's bucks night (at BBQ King and Men's Gallery). Tristan managed to convince me that Facebook was the way to go, after some stern resistance, and I've become rather attached to the social networking idea. You can find my profile with a quick search for 'Jason Brown', and I'm on the Australia and Microsoft...

Dear Santa

Can I please have one of these? Please? I could pretty much fit it into my Disco, but it looks like such a lot of fun...

"LATE NEWS - ACCESS TO NEWNES DIFFICULT"

"There has been over 100mm of rain at Newnes in the 48hours to mid-day Saturday, June 9. There are rockfalls on the road at several places and numerous patches of slippery wet clay. In spite of obvious difficulties, some vehicles have still tried to come to Newnes and have now become stuck. The river has risen. There is currently no access to the oil shale ruins and the Glow-worm tunnel from the Wolgan Valley. Is your journey really necessary? Probably not, so leave your visit to Newnes until the weather (and road) dry out." So read the Newnes information page. But that wasn't going to...

Wow, a whole week since my last post?

Must have been busy... Oh yeah, that's right. I was. Anyway, on to business. What's going on in the world? Well, The Cold War Kids played the Forum (Entertainment Quarter, formerly Fox Studios) on Friday night, in the last show of their current tour. I expected, well, not a hell of a lot - I've got the album, and while it's definitely damn good, the production gives it a slightly flat character, and isn't the most standout album of the past year by any means. Post-show, if they released a live album, I'd be first in the queue. Yes, commitment was the watchword of...

Arachnid Encounters 101

An excellent post on how to deal with a potentially venomous interloper. Capture (safely), examine, release. I myself am a bit of a spider fan. The beastie in this post is a Brown Recluse, aka Fiddleback, a North American spider which I'm told can be found in some australian locations, having made its way over from the states, presumably as a stowaway. Around this area, Sydney NSW, we have our fair share of venomous eight-legged monsters, all of which are fascinating and not likley to harm you if you're sensible. Most common (judging by the number of times I've spotted them) are white-tailed...

So what's going on in drunkenland?

There's been a lack of updates here other than superficial YouTube type posts. While this may be what the public is coming to expect, that's not necessarily why this blog is here. So here's the boring-as-batshit diary post. I've settled into the new role at work OK - my caseload is higher than it used to be, but that's to be expected given the role I moved to. Personal time has been sorely lacking - I haven't even been able to fire up the Halo 3 beta on XBox 360 yet. Last night was the first chance I've had to pick...

Phrase of the week

PM has a new post up on a Christian Evangelical hissy-fit, which contains one of my new favourite phrases: "Are they becoming more desperate in their arguments and actions because the ponies aren't coming to their party?" This is my new favourite phrase for when anyone throws their toys out of the pram. It happens, but I tend to stare pop-eyed when it does (even though I'm prone to it myself). Thanks PM for the new coinage!

Monday Musical Madness: Bob Log III

 Yes, he's a one-man-band-in-a-crash-helmet-n-jumpsuit-playing-crazy-licks-n-kickin-some-drums-n-drinkin-scotch-n-gettin-the-girls-in-the-crowd-to-get-out-their-boobies And he's in Australia, right now, touring round and raising hell. He's Bob Log III, and he's today's Monday Musical Madness

Hitchens on Falwell

Christoper, Christopher. That was just great. I will buy your book, just for ripping into Falwell so solidly on CNN.

Jerry Falwell: Outta here!

The whitest man who ever lived, Jerry Falwell, is no more. You can almost feel the air is sweeter this morning for the loss of this collosal cockhead. The man who blamed "pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians" for the September 11th attacks, amongst other foaming-at-the-mouth crap, shuffled off the mortal coil, alone, in his Lynchburg, Virginia office. He was 73. Salon's take on Falwell's demise is here. Numerous other media outlets have been a little more glowing in their treatment, not wanting to speak ill of the dead and all. I, though, have this to...

Monday Musical Madness Super Extra Extended Edition!

It's not over yet Watermelon In Easter Hay. Barcelona, 1988

Monday Musical Madness Extended Edition

Here's your bonus track. Frank Zappa's "Inca Roads", replete with Claymation sequences.

The Monday Report, Incorporating Monday Musical Madness

We're going to Splendour In The Grass. Tickets have been acquired via a thoroughly frustrating virtual queue on the splendour/oztix website. Playing this year, among others: Arctic Monkeys, Bloc Party and The Kaiser Chiefs. Hopefully it won't piss down and hopefully we'll get a nice hotel in Byron, rather than facing the drive back to Ballina every night. This weekend? Well, Saturday was bouldering day at The Balkans, where I got the redpoint of Berlin Blockade, V5, and a number of other nice little problems. Fat boys can climb V5. This was followed by Architecture in Helsinki live at the Metro,...

Madness

In honour of the fact I've used the word Chihuahua twice three times in rapid succession on this blog: From: here

The Crimea release album to the web, for free

Some old friends of mine, Davy MacManus and Owen Hopkin, have released their band's new album to the web for free. Davy and Owen used to be members of The Crocketts, who I was associated with during my pre-australia years. Check out the album, it's great. Must dash, time for the pub.

The continuing saga of me and my cars

I bought a car on Tuesday. In a continuation of my "cars I liked when I was younger" buying strategy, I bought a 1995 Series 1 Land Rover Discovery 3.9 V8i. I've become something of a 4WD fan over the last couple of years, having purchased a Range Rover from EBay on an impulse one day a couple of years back, and having driven Esther's Daihatsu Rocky for the last year and a bit. So a Disco (as we veteran 4WDers call them) seemed like a damn good choice. So I found this example at a Western Sydney dealership. It's dual-fuel,...

How about a little Monday afternoon musical insanity?

The incomparable Bela Fleck and the Flecktones; Bela Fleck, Victor Wooten, Jeff Coffin and Future Man. Probably the #1 live band I've ever had the privilege to see. If they pass by you, see them. Really.

So what's new?

I've got a new job, that's what's new. It's official now, I've signed the bits of paper, I can officially blog it. I've accepted a full-time position within the Evil Empire of MicrosoftTM, as a SharePoint Support Engineer. Quite how I convinced anyone I know SharePoint I really don't know, but that's probably a post for another day. For now, it's a toast to my new blue-badge status and ability to whine about The 'Soft without feeling like it's futile. Oh, and now I can call contingent staff 'Dash Trash' with impunity. I'm booked in for my Microsoft Loyalty Chip 2007TM fitting...

Python

And, not wanting to overtube the blog, here's another video from PZ - say it with a smile.

Breaking the hiatus

I haven't blogged all week, which is quite unusual. Why? Well, on Monday I was sick as a dawg, and the general run-downness has carried through right up until last night. In short I was feeling very uninspired. It's a shame, because there's been some potentially good bloggin' that's passed me by. OK< so what's happened with me? Well, on saturday night, depite the hurling, headaches and general malaise, I got to finally see the Pixies play live at Sydney's inaugural V Festival. Phenomenal show, immediately rocketing into my top five sets ever list. I've loved this band since the very...

Philosophy

  You scored as Existentialism. Your life is guided by the concept of Existentialism: You choose the meaning and purpose of your life. “Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he...

I Can't Bat and other stories from the ether

I got a copy of Ricky Ponting International Cricket this week, and managed to have a bit of a crack at it last night. The report? well, bowling would appear to be my strong point - fielding and batting seem to be tough for me. Fielding partly because I'm colourblind and don't really see the 'hotspot' meter against the grass background too well, batting because the timing seems to be an arcane art the details of which currently elude me, despite running through the tutorials twice. I expected a bit of complex control, but certainly didn't expect batting to be...

It seems gods are good for something after all...

... they make pretty good improvised weapons. Apart from that though, total bollocks.

PZ Myers is clearly The Dominant Male of ScienceBlogs

Great Nutters of History: Maurice Wilson

I first found out about Maurice Wilson, oddly enough, from a wonderful little fictional work called Skepticism Inc, by Bo Fowler. I wasn't sure whether the story was at all accurate or even if it was pure fiction, but it didn't much matter. It was funny, and apposite to the mindset of the book. Then a month or so back, I read an excellent book on the history of Everest mountaineering by George Band, a member of the successful 1955 expedition. The book mentioned Maurice Wilson, confirming, in a completely unexpected manner, that Maurice was real. Here's how Skepticism Inc describes Maurice Wilson: Maurice Wilson...

Religion 101

"OK students, it's time for your final examination. You've studied hard and I'm sure you'll all do a great job. No conferring, you may turn over your papers.... now." Tip of the hat goes to Stupidity Tracker for that one. In other news, the Playstation 3 launch is looking less than stellar, with large media outlets generally reporting sub-expectation crowds, and Kotaku in particular calling it 'piss poor'. THink I'll stick to my XBox for the time being.

Kaiser Chiefs

So we got to catch the Kasier Chiefs last night at the Forum, Fox Studios *ahem* The Entertainment Quarter. This was the second time I've seen The Chiefs in concert, the first being at The Metro. The forum is a slicker venue, and louder, and I have to say, I kind of prefer it. Support was provided by The Cops (warning, link goes to MySpace), who were pretty damn good - tight, energetic and well constructed. Some readers may know them from their "Call Me Anytime' track. They'll be at The Great Escape, and I'll probably mosey on by and...

Esther is the Crazy Dog Lady

We have a new dog. We're adopting this Staffordshire Bull Terrier, who formerly lived with a colleague of mine. Danny's original family is going their separate ways and can no longer look after her, so we've stepped in and volunteered. This makes three dogs at our secret Inner-West hideout, Megs, Rabbit and Danny (who is probably being renamed Jada). I have to admit, the last couple of days have been very interesting. A new pecking order has had to be enforced among the dogs, and the cat, so on Sunday after some fun at the park the terrible trio got down...

More YouTube goodness

Gotta get it while it's still there. Sulfur Hexaflouride fun for you. Yet more on the science meme And yes, I do spell it sulfur, not sulphur. I remember making a point of spelling it that way in chemistry class at school and getting a funny look from the teacher, then an even funnier look when I explained that the sulfur spelling was the approved nomenclature under IUPAC rules. I was about twelve, and explaining this to someone with a chemistry PhD. I was an obnoxious kid. In other news, HP Sauce is no longer being made in the UK. Apparently it was...

Some Eddie for you

We're still science-related here on the blog. E = Mc2 and Pavlovian conditioning. See? Even comedy can be educational

Ants making a stand for rationality

Following in the footsteps of my previous post of revelling in the misfortune of others, this story on Buddhist Monks Plagued By Ants made my laugh out loud this morning. Read it first, it really is quite funny. Here are some highlights: The Venerable Boon Keng practises what he calls "letting go" meditation - so he "lets go" of the pain. But out of consideration for worshippers less far along the path to enlightenment the monks are looking for ways to persuade the ants to go. Sure. It's for the poor unenlightened. Riiiight. They cannot encourage anyone to harm the ants, but the...

God won't help you this time, sucker

One of the things I enjoy most is seeing other people's misfortune. It's not very charitable, but there's a certain irresistable comedy in, say, seeing someone walking down the street while writing an SMS, and walking straight into a lamp-post. It reaches in to your autonomic nervous system and pulls strings other humour just can't touch. It also has to be genuine. Any comedian can get dressed up as an old lady and fall down the stairs, but to be groin-tearingly funny, it has to be a real old woman* Also, in some way, the satisfaction level is pushed up by how deserving the...

We're generally bad enough at Sushi Train

How well do you think we'd do with Salmon, soy sauce and wasabi in space? I'm guessing it would turn out badly. Among other things, I'm finally back on XBox Live:  This is a live gamercard, it'll evolve over time. For posterity, my current gamerscore is 65, with a Three-star rep and two games, PGR3 and Lego Star Wars. Yes, I'm a big kid, OK? And if you're wondering why the gamerscore is so low, well, I had to drop my old XBox 360 profile and start a new one to get back onto Live, so I need to get weaving and regain a...

Jessica Hagy absolutely nails my experience with smartphones

My XDA is no more. Turns out the screen is unfeasibly delicate. It's going to cost $350 for a repair. This is the second smartphone/windows mobile device that's plain died on me, the fourth if you include the two whose joysticks crapped out and then were lost/stolen. Perhaps I'm overly rough with them, or perhaps they should be expected to put up with a little actual use, maybe? Sigh.

Social Engineering in Fiction: Sherlock Holmes

A particular instance in The Hound Of The Baskervilles "Have you any objection to my looking at your register?" said Holmes. "Not in the least." The book showed that two names had been added after that of Baskerville. One was Theophilus Johnson and family, of Newcastle; the other Mrs. Oldmore and maid, of High Lodge, Alton. "Surely that must be the same Johnson whom I used to know," said Holmes to the porter. "A lawyer, is he not, gray-headed, and walks with a limp?" "No, sir; this is Mr. Johnson, the coal-owner, a very active gentleman, not older than yourself." "Surely you are mistaken about his trade?" "No, sir! he has used this...

A Weekend in Melbourne

So Esther and I headed off to Melbourne for the Saint Jerome's Laneway festival over the weekend. We were there, ostensibly, to run the ticketing for the event for Moshtix, but we also took Friday. Monday and Tuesday as holiday time. The festival itself went pretty well, with only one bit of trouble we noticed (someone ejected, it has to be said, quite forcefully for a rematively minor transgression). The rest of the time, well. Melbourne has a lot of bars. Friday saw a return visit to the Sherlock Holmes pub on Collins St with Trent, Tim, Rohan and Belinda, Saturday night...

My SQ is 142.75

How's yours? found via the ever-fascinating Pharyngula Additional: I want one of these: My Little Cthulhu.

The Bouldering Report 21 Feb 2007

So we went to Lindfield again. After a bit of a warm-up and an abortive crack at Blank Wall, we had a bit more of a go on the V5 pocket problem left of the Layback Flake (Corals Area). And yes, both myself and Viv have badly tweaked tendons on it. In particular, my left arm now feels like I've got rusty, frayed brake cables running from my ring finger right up to the muscle attachment. There's a very bad pain point right in the palm area, and I'm Nurofen®'d up to the gills right now trying to go about my normal day. This problem is out to get...

Today's problem: BOBFOC

I've been cycling to work a bit lately, and the slower pace makes you notice the surroundings a bit more. I also go through a popular jogging area (The Iron Cove Bridge), and let me tell you something; Sydney has a BOBFOC problem. For those of you unfamilar, BOBFOC is an acronym which stands for Body Off Baywatch, Face Off Crimewatch. Side note: for those who don't know, Crimewatch is a TV programme in the UK during which timid viewers are terrified by reconstructions of unsolved crimes, usually with stereotypical villains and vulnerable, plain women out walking alone. You know what Baywatch is, though....

Evolution for drinkers

Doesn't take long, does it?

My girlfriend and all her mates are twisted sickos. They just sent me the first Anna Nicole Smith email I've seen so far.

Britain, Britain, Britain...

Yes, last night a bunch of us trekked down to the Sydney Entertainment Centre to see Little Britain Live, and while the TV series is probably entering its 'hackneyed' phase, due in part to the number of people obsessively quoting catchphrases, the live show was refreshingly hilarious. Not jaw-achingly crying-in-your-seat-trying-not-to-piss-yourself funny as Billy Connolly was this time last year, but definitely up there with the better comedy shows I've seen. I was intrigued before the show as to how the costume changes would be handled (answer: clever scheduling between Matt and David, and a rear-projection for cutscenes with the recorded voice...

Honourary Friday

Tomorrow is Australia Day, the day when we celebrate the arrival of Europeans on the Australian continent, in a flotilla of eleven rickety boats now forever known as the First Fleet. This fleet is remarkable for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that, on a voyage of 252 days, in 1788, only forty-eight people died on the journey*, thus making the first crop of euro-australians some of the hardest, sturdiest bastards ever to cross an ocean in chains. Think about it. You wouldn't survive that long in an 18th century dinghy now, would you? So anyway, this being...

I'm joining the ranks of mad dieters

Yes, I'm totally over procrastinating, and with my usual sensible, measured response to everything I'm starting a crash diet. It's not something I've found online, been advised about or had pushed through the door on a leaflet. It's a slightly mad idea of my own choosing. For the next few weeks, my weekdays will be dominated by fruit-juice, water and Miso Soup, and my weekends will consist of pretty much normal eating. To this end, I've stockpiled instant Miso and juice and I'm attempting to steel myself for the coming famine. I'll adjust the parameters if necessary, but the theme is detox...

Moshtix acquired by News Digital Media

My girlfriend, Esther, works for a little ticketing company here in Sydney called Moshtix. It's a great company, for whom I've done a little work myself. Well, Moshtix has recently been acquired, and the announcement has broken today. It's now coming under the auspices of News Ltd's interactive arm, News Digital Media. Mr Murdoch, I've had some bad things to say about you in the past, but let me just say, now that your company is helping to pay part of my mortgage, well... Nothing has changed. I'm still not going to read the bloody Telegraph. But if there's a staff discount on Foxtel,...

I don't want to know about Paris fucking Hilton

Dear SMH, News Ltd, and other Australian 'news outlets' Can anyone explain to me, please, why every time I go to your websites looking for news, I'm confronted with no-value famewhore spoilt party slut and general waste of oxygen Paris Hilton? What, exactly, has she EVER done that's newsworthy? Anyone? Can anyone answer me? Now, here's what I want. I want your websites to have a little checkbox at the top, which I can click, and which will allow me to immediately and easily filter out ANY mention of rich blonde attention whores and their oh-so-piss-boring lives. If I wanted that shit I'd...

Astronomy, in short, rocks

Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer, has graced the interwebs with his top ten astronomy pictures of 2006. They are phenomenal, as is to be expected from this eye-popping science, and Phil's descriptions, if anything, are just as spectacular. My particular favourite sits at number five in the list - a shot from the earth's surface of the ISS and the Space Shuttle Atlantis passing in front of the sun. The photographer's site explains more, but also makes it abundantly clear I shouldn't post the image here. Snippet of choice: The shot was taken at a shutter speed of 1/8000th of a...

Schadenfreude is a beautiful word

I've mentioned at least once before on this site that MySpace, in my considered opinion, is little more than a massive clusterfuck of window licking illiterates attempting to pat each others' backs while getting their own backs thoroughly scratched. Well, this article takes me some way towards a feeling of satisfaction, to know that MySpace's jabbering masses were so comprehensively fucked over. The only downer to the story is that the mouthbreathers still haven't figured out how it happened, and, seemingly, neither have their enablers. Good old News Corp, displaying Goatse for the edification of millions. Gives one a warm feeling inside. The...

Ashes Test, SCG January 2nd 2007

I managed to score tickets to the first day of the Sydney test yesterday, and despite a wet start to the day we got a full day of cricket and some reasonable pictures. We were quite a way back in the cheap seats, so a long lens (40-150mm) was needed for much of it and there were quite a few obstructions. Still, the ashes gallery shows that I got some decent ones, the plum being the shot above of Bell's fall of wicket from way back at the rear of the stand. It cropped down fairly well considering, though the fast ISO...

Gone!

Yes, it's true, the dreadlocks are gone. In an alcoholic boxing day session, the scissors came out and the hair came off. Viv Richards documented the experience for me, and the results are here. I now have this short 'do and will, if all goes to plan, be bleaching and dyeing it a crazy colour in preparation for the Peats Ridge Festival, where we shall be spending New Years Eve in the company of a few thousand hippies. In other news, my house is trying to kill me, this time sending me crashing to the floor, whereupon I smashed the dogs' food...

I suppose it had to happen eventually

Behind the curve as this is, I feel I must add this. Everyone loves the treadmills thing, but I myself find it's difficult to tire of this little gem: Right, now I've done the inevitable and posted the YouTube video to my blog. Does this mean I now qualify for Time person of the fucking year or what? By the way, buy the OK GO album. it's very, very good.

Not really into...

Imitiation Is The Sincerest Form Of Flattery

Nice to see the SMH blatantly ripping off the Disneyland analogy I drew on SydneyPubGuide.net several years ago. I said: "Like a pubgoer's Disneyland" They said: "Kiddies like Disneyland. Adults like the Newport Arms." OK, so it's not direct plagiarism, but I think inspiration was due to SydneyPubGuide. And where's my credit? Nowhere. Will Swanton, you owe me a beer. Get in touch and we'll organise when and where you can get the round in. Thank you. [cross-blogged at pubguide blog]

Poms die from sport. Aussies thrive

BBC news is reporting on a new study based on major sporting events as major medical risk factors. Put simply, Euros and Poms have a 25% increased risk of myocardial infarction, aka heart attack, around major sporting events such as the World Cup, the Ashes and so on. The study also took into account the last AFL Grand Final (which was a gripper even for someone who understands little of the sport), and the socceroos qualifier against Uraguay as measures of Aussie risk, and I'm pleased to note there was no spike in hospital admission figures over here. The article notes that this may well...

Newton's Birthday is coming...

... or at least that's how I, as a fully paid-up left-wing atheist, rationalise observing an crypto-christian ex-pagan midwinter festival commandeered, nay, hijacked by corporate interests. Happy Birthday Isaac. And for those who wish to enjoy turkey on this day (though why this is a tradition on Dec 25th I'll probably never know), why not try something a little different? Smoked Beer Can Turkey The recipe comes to you live from Cooking For Engineers, a nifty site for geeks with gas. Personally, I'll probably be enjoying a couple of beers in seclusion, maybe a picnic at the crag would work. The family observance comes earlier so...

Presenting: SydneyPubGuide.net T-Shirts

Yes folks, the SydneyPubGuide.net Alcoholics Unanimous t-shirt is now available via WordsCantHurt's CafePress store. A very experimental little store at present, but as time goes on, more stuff will be added. Suggestions welcome.

Yes, today was the wrong day to take the bus

On arriving in the CBD by train on the way to work, I got a little caught up in something. So I hobbled from Town Hall towards Wynyard along George Street in sync with the marchers, snapping some shots as I went. I'm firmly on the side of these guys but hell was it difficult to get around by public transport today. Interesting anthropological note: yes, the power of the SLR camera is confirmed. People will let you wander into their path, barge and otherwise make a nuisance of yourself if you have a big ol' SLR camera. Though come...

Is It just me?

Or is The Spin Starts Here starting to recycle material in terms of just over and over doing the "Hooray For Everything" thing over and over? I mean, does adopting some dickhead's "kind blog initiative" actually have any effect on one side or the other? I had a moment of boredom with the old "deprive us of oxygen" shit, and now, what? we seem to have the same old 'Attack some other blogger' thing going on. Where's the incisive commentary? Where the fuck is the genuine snark? I await developments. I really do. Caz, Hack, Hambo! please, entertain me. Fuck the...

Ooh, Look!

The blog's been upgraded. Wow, isn't that nice. No ads at the moment, but I'll figure that out. I'm still not theme-decided, but I'll get there. For now, this Piyo thing seems OK.

Recording Bonzo and co. to be made criminal

The SMH report that recording U2 live will be a criminal act soon. Good. OK, so that's not technically correct. What is actually going on is that good old Phillip Ruddock, that unflagging defender of personal freedom and staunch supporter of sleep deprivation as legitimate interrogation technique, is planning measures which would make recording a performance of a copyrighted work a criminal act. So record a gig on your mobile and get a criminal record. The best bit? Since 'Happy Birthday' is still under copyright, recording the singing of Happy Birthday at your kid's party and subsequently publishing it to, say,...

Uploaded a whole bunch of photos

I've uploaded a set of photos from our Japan Trip, and a wedge of climbing shots from around Sydney and the Blueys. Enjoy

Feet

My favourite Penny Arcade Cartoon well, maybe we should make that one of my favourite Penny Arcade cartoons. The wisdom of Gabe and Tycho is not to be sniffed at. In other news, I have a hangover and don't feel like doing any work. In view of this, today will inevitably be the day when everyone tries to consult, call, cajole and threaten me into doing stuff, and I'll be overworked, angry and tired. Fuckers.

Standards of written English, or Why The Fuck Can't Anyone Spell "Their"

Lynne Truss holds forth on the state of written English in today's Sydney Morning Herald. I, for one, agree heartily with Lynne's stance on poor English, and freely admit I'm imperfect in my own on occasion - but I make a conscious effort to get it right. Poor grammar and spelling are two things (of many) which make my blood boil, to the point where I generally go hungry rather than eat at a restaurant or cafe with a menu written by a functional illiterate. Lynne puts her finger on the nub of the problem - people who say “as long...

Run for your lives!

Well, it's not impossible that you've already seen this (hence the category choice) but my B-Movie gland got all excited over it. How could it not? For an extra bonus, may I present... Them! In other news, we're over the SMH's fascination with YouTube. Have you no work to do, you so-called quality journalists?

The Inevitable First Blog Post, or Explaining Why I'm Here

Welcome. you must be new here. let me show you around. Would you like a scone? This is my new blog, and I have great expectations for it. It's far more general than my other blog, so there'll be some variety in what I'm posting. A glance at the categories I've already defined should give you a good idea of what I'm preparing to unleash upon the world, for better or for worse. Now, on to the dreaded “Who Am I”. Well, I'm Jason Brown. I am many things, principal among them being Computer Geek, Contractor at Microsoft, Rock Climber, Music Lover,...

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