Monday, January 30, 2006

Hang the DJ

A British station, xfm London, have hired Andy Rourke, former bassplayer for The Smiths. He's going to be playing "indie anthems" according to an article in the Media Guardian which I won't link to because it's behind a registration wall.


Queensland: Baseball Champions of Australia, by U.S. standards, doesn't that make us champeens of the world?

I like Baseball: as American sports go it's fairly non-boring. I went to Suncorp this year to see the Queensland Roar, but the last time I was at Lang Park it was many years ago to see the Brisbane Bandits play someone in the baseball.


Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Psychic Battlefield (of crap)

I haven't said much about Doctor Who recently. There hasn't been much to say; it's sort of been the kind of TV that fans don't really want to draw any attention to.

The Psychic Circus, or whatever it was called, well... to quote Burt Reynolds talking about Fireball and Mudflap on The Simpsons, "It's... garbage."

Battlefield, too, is the biggest load of old tosh. And dragging the Brigadier back in for one last hurrah! isn't going to change that fact.

Bleedin' King Arthur again... Jeez, these English. How convenient, mistaking the Doctor for Merlin, "He has many guises..." oh, yeah? Convincing Mawdwyn of the same... "Er, yeah, I see: it's Merlin," says he, not wanting to be laughed at next term when word got back to Hogworts.

This is the one where Ace almost drowns in a tube. I remember this one. Didn't Sophie Aldred almost die or something?

Still, I'm only at the end of episode two. It might get better.


Queensland Roar, Queensland Roar. Next year, we'll be in The Four

Well, Sydney didn't lose, so that means the Queensland Roar can't make the final four in the A-League. Despite what I said the other night, it was not best for us if Perth lost to Sydney. But, I did pick Sydney; and with my New Zealand pick, I got one and a half out of three.

But 'twas no good, alas, in the scheme of things; we can't make the finals and I'm not in any tipping contests. The Queensland Roar are now on 27 points, with the current third and fourth teams (Central Coast and Newcastle) on 31. There are three points for a win. Sydney are now on 33 and Adelaide is way out there on 43. Worthless Adelaide, I hate them so much, etc.

Still, that takes the pressure off for the final home game of the season. And the pressure will be off for Central Coast, too, so hopefully they will relax and we can trounce them, too...

And the stuff I said previously about the best 11 for the Roar still stands, if we can keep what we've got and work on it, we'll be right. I realise we'd rarely ever have that actual eleven on the field at one time. Only two out of three of the strikers, Osvaldo Carro somewhere in there in the middle and Remo at the back.

>>>As for the finals, I'd be supporting Newcastle and Central Coast over Adelaide and Sydney. If it came down to either of the first group or either of the second group playing each other, I'd have to see what 'my heart felt' during the game. By that I mean, sometimes I tell myself that I don't care who wins, but when I'm watching the game, I'm like 'yeah, it'd be good for Wests, first time merged and all; but I'd really prefer North Queensland'.

I'm not sure who plays who in the semis (e.g., first v fourth, etc.) because, out of SBS, the A-League and ABC websites, only the ABC lists the semis - the rest just stop at round 21. And the ABC only says "To Be Decided v To Be Decided" at "Venue Unknown". But they do say that the semi-finals are a full two-legged away-goals-rule fixture, and y'know, I'm not sure who I'd chose out of Sydney v Adelaide in that situation. Adelaide can obviously beat anyone and everyone anyday, but Sydney can't be written off. And over 180 minutes plus of football, it'd be interesting.

If Central Coast played Newcastle, it would be a ripper of a home derby. You might actually get that thing common in overseas football games of being able to tell when the away-team scores a goal because you can hear people cheering. Instead of the deathly quiet we get now because there only ever seem to be 20 away fans at any game.

But in the end, who could tip against Adelaide? They will end the season somewhere between 7 and 12 points clear at the top of the table, depending on next weekend's results, and they were the best team in the league all year. Shame their coach is a tool.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

Queensland Roar, Queensland Roar; I kind of wish it had only been four.

...instead of 5-0, so I could say "Queensland Roar, Queensland Roar. Four? Are you freakin' kidding me? Four?", but I managed to use the rhyme anyway; so, no biggie...

5-0: that's us -- the number six team -- over number two Newcastle.

I haven't been writing much about the Roar recently. I'm a pessimist, so I always expect the worst and the expected eventual heartbreak is easier to take if you haven't been gloating about apparently promising temporary successes. (I'm pretty quiet around NRL State of Origin time.)

But I don't care. One round left in the season, against Central Coast at home on February 4, and it doesn't really matter what happens. Of course, we'd like to win, not just because it's the season-ender at home but because we have to, to have any chance of qualifying; but I think they've finally put a team together that has gelled, and that's got to be good for next season. (Of course, now we'll discover Brosque is leaving for Sydney...)

Richter has been fantastic all season and Brosque has finally got on the end of a few. Last week against Sydney was great. It was good to see Jonty getting a goal finally. Same for Merdocca - he's a favourite of Boycat's Mum ever since we went to see a game in September.

So: Brosque, Baird and Reinaldo near the front with Richter, Merdocca, Dilevski and Seo behind them. McCloughan, McKay and Gibson at the back. How many is that? Ten? Okay, Higgins in goal. I like Tom Willis, but Higgins has been there for the past two weeks.

>>>The best results for us out of this weekend's remaining games are if Central Coast lose to Melbourne and Perth lose to Sydney. I'd also like New Zealand to have a win. Those results would leave us one point out of the four, but it would also leave us one point above seventh.

The final round is too hypothetical at present, but we would want Melbourne and Perth to lose and of course, we have to win.


Subtly, all aeroplanes are different

And subtly Qantas are using a different language from the rest of us.

So I've flown Qantas a few times recently. They have a video which runs through the safety procedures while the cabin crew wave arms and put on dummy life jackets in the aisles. The video does the commentary, which overcomes the incomprehensibility problem when the head steward would do it live into one of those telephone-y things.

To make the point that even people who travel all the time should pay attention, the video points out that procedures are different on different planes. Perhaps only slightly different; I think, since the video begins "Subtly, all aeroplanes are different..."

No, it's "all aeroplanes are subtly different". A tiny thing, I know, but it drives me crazy. It's like it's a DVD player instruction book translated from another language.

AND because, apparently, the New York Times couldn't find any business traveller bloggers, here's some things: the meals are crap...

I got a flight the other day, due-in to Canberra at 11.25 am. We got two biscuits. Morning tea, that seems okay you might say, except think of this. Due to daylight saving time, the flight left at 8.35. To get to the airport to check in the hour before the flight that they want and to take into account any potential first day back from the holidays traffic, I had to leave home at 6.45am. How about some breakfast?

On the way home it was a dinner flight (only one hour delayed, but at least I was travelling with a Qantas Club member, so we could go into their lounge.) Dinner was gelatinous steamed chicken with some kind of gooey yellow sauce. It had rice with it and flat white kinda crispy stuff cooked into it that I think was supposed to be bamboo shoots, so I think it was trying to be Asian food of some kind. But it was hard to tell.

At least it was better than one of the meals I got on a previous flight - 6 crackers and a tub of "nacho dip", a weirdly hot (I know chilis and this weren't they), runny, cheese and tomato based thing that you couldn't eat without getting all over your fingers.

But there was a Beef Ravioli that was nice, which might be no big achievement since I read in CJR Daily that the Beef Ravioli is even pretty good in military MRE meals, so it must be hard to screw up.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

But remember... we are invincible to your cricket balls

How about the Cybermen vs. Sri Lanka - they've got the right gloves.


I knew I shouldn't have eaten that packet of powdered gravy I found in the parking lot.

So I'm at a conference and several people came up to me to comment on the Simpsons quote I have at the bottom of my work email. One person requested a "weekly turnaround".

Yeah, I've been lax, but I do like the absurdity of Homer's "You'll have to speak up: I'm wearing a towel."


Worthless charity bins! I hate them so much! I spit on them!

If there is actually anyone who reads this who doesn't already read syme's blog, there's a post you've got to read.

Yep, I agree totally, Chuckmeister Desmond.

Especially the bit about thinking there are a lot more of them out there than there actually are, I know exactly.

Unfortunately, the most convenient bin for me is just across the freeway at one of those wanna-be minimegachurches whose buildings look like converted sheds, and often are. I'd much rather donate clothes to the Salvos -- we buy our sofas there -- I don't care which branch of the service gets it, Salvation Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines...


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Happiness will prevail!

I'm glad you're happy! I'm happy you're glad!

Doctor Who is getting really stupid now. And cheap.

But, gee, it's big dumb fun. You do have to sit through a bit of crap to get to some of the really interesting stuff, like the unlikely deep philosphical discussion the Doctor had while distracting a guard in a recent episode and the two old guys in The Happiness Patrol.

Speaking of THP, if they put the last Doctor on trial for interfering with stuff, gee they've got Sylvester dead to rights for what he did this time.

I've been away for work and I was in an ABC Shop today. I saw the TARDIS-shaped box set of the new episodes. $150, are you kidding? Not even with travel allowance; I'm married.


Sunday, January 15, 2006

Wasteful consumer lifestyle update.

We took the broken DVD/TV back to the store yesterday. We didn't have the receipt, but the product was made exclusively for this particular retailer in their sweatshops in China, and we had had a raincheck, so there was a docket sticky-taped to the box with our name and the price on it.

So we get to the customer service counter and there are two teenaged girls running the show. The one looking after us is fine with the whole thing, especially since the treatment upon return is the same whether there's a receipt or not - replace it, no questions asked; leading me to suspect that these crappy cheap things breakdown all the time. Unfortunately, we have a disc stuck in it, but it's a DVD-R we recorded ourselves, so it's not a real big loss.

But there aren't any left in stock, so she has to do a credit voucher. When she swipes the doovy over the barcode, it rings up as $379. We paid $249. She knows we paid $249. "We'll pretend we didn't see this," she says, pulling the raincheck slip off the box...

So we had $379 to replace the bedroom TV and DVD player. We spent $80+$229 in the end. We were only looking for a mega-cheap DVD player - with one specific requirement - it had to be multi-zone.

I was a little impatient, so we got a bit of a bad deal - the TV only has one audio input! What TV sold in 2006 is mono? Apparently this one. There was a TV we liked better for $20 more, but they didn't have any out the back. There might have been some at other stores, but we were at that one, and really, I just wanted to get it over and done with; we'd gone back to the store once - twice if you count the original time when we were issued with the raincheck.

And the DVD was multi-zone, so we can now play half our collection again.

Now, the lounge room DVD player, which we bought for $50 at Aldi when everything else in the house crapped it is starting to freeze up on some DVD-Rs we did. Oh, the problems of needing so much stuff...


Friday, January 13, 2006

Eddie Jones to Coach Queensland Reds

Let's face it, even if he's useless, we can't do much worse than we've done recently. For Queenslanders, the Super 12 was usually over by the end of the second round. Let's see how we go in Super 14.


Thursday, January 12, 2006

I've just discovered Sage!

Yes, yes, I'm very slow, but I've only just selected the option on Firefox that says 'Sage'. It's awesome.


The Doctor is better, the theme music is worse

Yeah, I like Sylvester McCoy better than the last one. It only took 5 minutes to get used to him. It took 5 episodes for the last guy.

But the opening credits are awful.


R.I.P., Andy

Boycat's parents were big fans.


Monday, January 09, 2006

Sometimes the Headlines rip off stories from Law and Order

There is an interesting story by Warren St. John from somewhere* (I've cut and pasted the article into a word doc, so I have no idea of the original source until I google it) about an author who survived being a male prostitute in West Virginia only to end up a junky in San Francisco with Aids.

Authors, publishers and celebrities offered the man help with his publishing career, as well as general support. He's written three books and at least one article for the New York Times.

Oh, yeah, and he doesn't seem to exist. Photos of him look suspiciously like the half-sister of a member of the couple who 'rescued' him from the life when he was a teenager. His writing is suspiciously similar to some documents that the other member of the couple asked someone to type up and fax once.

Various authors, publishers and celebrities are now pissed off...

Neither of these are the article that I read, but here are pieces on the story from The Australian and The Washington Post

Disclaimer: None of this should be construed to suggest that Ms Albert and Mr Knoop ever killed anyone a la the L&O:CI episode.

*The New York Times


Monday's Miscellany

Would a Jaws reference be in bad taste?
With reference to the weekend's shark attack, Boycat's Mum points out that Amity was also the name of the town in Jaws. This hasn't been mentioned in any news reports, but it was the first thing that came to mind for us. Are we just sick freaks who watch too much TV?

Cheap Chinese DVDs... this is why you don't buy them.
(Y'know, along with all the driving down wages over here and stuff...)

Our TV/DVD player stopped working last week. The TV bit works, except that where we live you need an outdoor antenna or a precious cable-TV cable to get a useful picture. The DVD bit won't even power up, so there's a disc stuck in it. Luckily it isn't a rental.

And my Panasonic X-700 phone (with the camera) also stopped working over the weekend. WTF is going on?

This is the sort of thing I'd do
Miffed Canadian pays bank bill a penny at a time.

Why do politicians just say "families" when they are actually talking about "families with children"?
It really pisses me off to discover that, although we are in a supposedly sacred heterosexual marriage, Boycat's Mum and I apparently aren't a family. Wayne Swan, I'm looking at you. (For today. Other pollies do it all the time, too. After all, look at the criteria for Centrelink's "Family" Assistance...)

Tolls on the Pacific Highway
I'm not sure what I think about this, but I know I'm against it if there is no way to drive from Sydney to Brisbane without paying a toll.

Medium, median; who cares?
I do.

As much as I love the Qld Police's media update page, I really wish they'd learn what a median strip is called.

Can a cigarette butt cause a bushfire?
According to an article I read a couple of years ago in a firey's publication, the answer is no, no matter how strong the wind.


Miner Miracles

Written Thursday 5/1.

The mine disaster communications disaster is one of the most interesting things I've seen on TV all year. (Or all last year, whatever.) But I'm a breaking-news-junkie, so this was my idea of entertainment.

What's going on? Who got it so wrong? Will the media do its job or will it take some blogger to track down who originally said what to whom?

But by my count it only took about an hour from the discovery that only one was alive until the post-mortems started (sorry for the language, but that's what people call them). By the time the company man got up to do his press conference, you could hear from the tone of the questions that journalists weren't happy.

It seems the news that the 12 miners were "alive" broke while I was at work. It was all over the cable news channels when I got home. It lead the 5.30 pm Sky news bulletin, but then they broke in at about 5.57pm to say that only one was alive. Sky cut to Sky UK.

We watched that for a few minutes, but because it was 6pm, I checked out the two free-to-air channels. Neither was leading with the story, but Seven got to it before 6.15, but they ran the outdated "miracle rescue" story. I didn't see what Nine ran.

After a while I switched over to CNN, which was showing Anderson Cooper 360 from CNN US. Anderson was doing his usual "people are upset about this so I will be, too" routine, but he was the first I heard to raise the important point, which was that the company shouldn't have waited three hours to come out - they should have hosed down what they knew to be speculation as soon as they realised what was being speculated upon. I can understand the company man's reasoning when he says that after the first news, they didn't want to make an announcement until they had the facts, but that presupposes that there are only two courses of action. It doesn't take the preferred "We just don't know, we can't confirm that" into account.

Around 7pm, I checked out some websites, too see what they were saying. The New York times was still reporting the miracle story (in fact AFP/ABC/Reuters report that the New York Times print edition led with this story the next morning, too.) showed the problem with automated news aggregators: it had both the "all alive" and "all dead" stories from different sources, but the all-alive story was placed higher on the page probably due to more links or page-views or however their ranking algorithms work.

It was instructive being able to read the NYT's story after the true facts had started to come out. The NYT sourced the story to "family members" and a "State official". They quoted the official in the third par, but his words did not confirm that the miners were alive, only that they had been found and were being medically evaluated.

I think this is where the whole confusion came from - if you hear someone is being medically evaluated, I think you would think they were alive, but their condition beyond that was unknown. It now seems that the 'evaluation' had not even reached the basic stage of 'alive or dead?'.

The family members said they'd been told people were alive, but no one has traced the chain back yet.

The Columbia Journalism Review's CJR Daily will have a field day with this. Even the NYT runs a story sourced only to family members who had heard things from unidentified people and a state official who only says vague things?

But then again, the Governor of West Virginia was calling it a miracle. In situations like this, it would be reasonable to expect that a high official is plugged into the official networks. Thus the fact that he is celebrating and no hosing down speculation would been seen by many reasonable people as confiming the truth of what was said. After all, he could always have said "I don't know. I've heard what people are saying but no one has told me officially."

LATER (09/01/2006): As predicted, CJR Daily did have a field day. They, too, were asking where were the journalist's sources. And speaking of Anderson Cooper, one of the complaints about the whole thing was that there were too many celebrity anchormen there and not enough actual journalists...

Harry Shearer, writing at the Huffington Post, also asks similar questions. Harry's been focussing on New Orleans, so his questions are in the context of why, after the many retracted 'New Orleans is falling into anarchy' stories, weren't they more careful this time.


Thursday, January 05, 2006


The Guardian has a story on Google (Awestruck Wall Street ups Google share target to $600). Choice quote:
"It is easy to forget that Google was forced to reduce the offer price of its initial public offering in New York just 18 months ago and pare back the number of shares on offer because of lukewarm demand from investors."
Yep, I'd forgotten all that fuss about the Dutch auction.


Wednesday, January 04, 2006


Gladstone wins New Year drunkenness award

The police report
"The most concerning drink driver this campaign was intercepted yesterday in the Gladstone district on the Dawson Highway. The 56-year-old male driver was apprehended with an alcohol level of .305%, six times over the legal limit."

Cat tails

Cat survives 100kms clinging to 4WD

Cat dials 911


Monday, January 02, 2006

Dirty animal sex amongst the ruins

It seems the surviving animals in the ruins of New Orleans are gettin' on down.