Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I'm a better parent than Nicolas Cage

Like every other parent I try to help my off-spring to be a strong, self reliant, mult-skilled survivor of the coming Zombie apocalypse. From the how-to-make-yourself Apocalypse ready guide here giving him cooking skills based on the London chef Will Sprunt's Apocalypse chow, and signing him up for CDC's Disease Detective Camp for the holidays I would like to think I am laying the foundation for a citizen who will standing against the coming darkness.

But in the recent clip from the soon to be released Movie adaptation of the comic book (sorry graphic novel) Kick-Ass I realise I have been neglecting an important aspect of the_weapon's training.


What a softie!

There's is no way I'd have agreed to ice cream with Chocolate Syrup and nuts.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I hate motherhood statements

The Falcon Academy’s handbook states they have '...a zero tolerance to bullying'.

Does anyone know any educational facility that claims to have anything OTHER than a zero tolerance to bullying? Anyone claiming a 25% tolerance, or a tolerance to within an acceptable margins, a zero plus or minus 2% tolerance?

Didn’t think so.

Couldn’t we all do with a few less meaningless, bleedingly obvious but pointless motherhood statements in our lives. If any of you says these claims are aspirational, I will have to hurt you.


Zero Tolerance.

For me it conjures up images of dedicated killer satellites in geostationary orbit above the school constantly monitoring conversation, phone calls, notes passed in class and the boys toilets for repeated flushing. The satellites poised to deliver a beam of coruscating energy to any transgressor.







Or perhaps a robot that patrols the grounds and is ready to intervene, something like the big white balls from 1970s TV series The Prisoner.








At a parents and teachers evening the head of the junior school explained this wasn’t the case. They identify any bully-like behaviour and seek to intervene as soon as possible to prevent it from occurring.


I wasn’t sure I wanted a policy that would lead to no bullying at all. If the school succeeds in this policy then the moment someone begins to harass someone else they are stopped and removed. This means the kids who would get picked on will be fine while they are on the school grounds but later off the grounds or in after leaving school they would have practice. This doesn't sound like good preparation for the real world.

I wonder if they’d be better off with a mix of strategies.

Its easy to spot the sort of kids that will get picked on at school. Ask any teacher and they will tell you which in their class are the targets. How about the school employs an elderly Korean guy, nominally as a janitor or gardener and he secretly trains up those likely kids with a few techniques so that when the do inevitably get picked on the bully gets his arse handed to him. This only has to happen a few times and the bully gives up on trying to pick on the chess team.

Identify the bullies in the school and then get the kids likely to be bullied to hire ninjas to go to town on them every time one of them gets picked on. An example if one kid’s lunch money gets stolen every bully on the list gets a visit from ninjas who steal all their clothes during swimming.

A shakedown scheme where the kids identify the biggest bully and pay him/her off to prevent any other bullies from picking on them.

Whenever a bully shows up all the kids just turn to face him, point and do the open mouth scream from ‘Invasion of the body snatches’.

After a month there is a two day battle royal (because this is SPARTA) where the kids just fight it out, after making sure that only the kids not identified as bullies have been taught how to organise and work as a team. Plus tell them where there is a stash of stuff to make traps.

But I would love to see a big white ball on playground duty.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Its better with Monkeys

As you may have guessed I am a massive fan of science, maths, engineering and technology.

In my fiction I'll take rayguns over wizard staffs; in my NEWS I'll twitter the Large Hadron Collider before I follow our prime ministers; and at cub scouts I'll demonstrate how to make carbon dioxide volcanoes over Christmas wreaths. My geek-fu is strong and science is so cool right now. Any one else notice in the US president Obama's speech on the 'Educate to Innovate Campaign' not only did he have Adam and Jamie from Mythbusters there but he put those sentient machines on notice -

"As President, I believe that robotics can inspire young people to pursue science and engineering. And I also want to keep an eye on those robots, in case they try anything". Full speech here.

So for my family movies I'll take 'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs' over a misbehaving Max in a wolf suit.


The film is based (very loosely) on the Judi and Ron Barrett 1978 book. Instead the movie is an origin story, (SPOILER ALERT) with an unappreciated inventor type called Flynn who hummed his own action soundtrack when he moves through to his lab. This was so cool I now do this whenever I enter the office at work. He invents a number of things which become (in one case literally) running gags through out the rest of the movie.

This movie demonstrated to me the corrollary to my axiom that 'every story can be improved with zombies'. Every kids movie can be improved with monkeys.

They have chosen to go with The Incredibles style CGI for the characters thus avoiding the whole uncanny valley problem with animated people.

I found the story bright, colourful, fun and science can do great things as long as evil mayors are not involved. The_weapon is reading about the AZETCS at the moment or at least the horrible history bits of the AZTECS so he (SPOLIER ALERT AGAIN) went wild when Steve ripped the heart out of a person sized gummy bear and ate it.

I walked out thinking it was a great big great thumbs up for my Science is AWESOME philosophy. My_reason_for_living wondered if I missed that it was science that causes all the problems in the first place. I considered and replied - but it fixed it! The_weapon laughed through out much of the film but when we left he seemed quiet. When asked he replied he was thinking about 'the sad bit'.

I have no idea which was 'the sad bit' and he said he didn't want to talk about it. But he then said he really liked the movie. This has left me with the question.

What was the sad bit?

and does this mean my almost ten year old son is more emotionally developed than me.

Probably.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Is this behaviour insane?

How many times do you have to repeat the same behaviour, each time expecting a different outcome and yet each time the same thing happens. How often before you realise its not ‘sticktoitness’ but insanity?

Supporters of sports teams are constantly doing this with their promise of ‘next year we’re going to win it all’. Gamblers looking for the next sure thing, or even serial marriers, “no this time its true love, as they marry their fourth wife”.

Well include me in this pattern of insanity too.

Each year around mid November I set my alarm, go out in the middle of the night in either a field, or any nearby open space where there are few or better no lights and look up towards the Northeast end of the sky around the sickle of Leo which is a curved asterism that marks the head of the Great Lion.

And for the past eight years I have only seen either: Clouds, dusts, a faint glow of light pollution, one year I even managed to get hailed on. How can the sky be obscured –Melbourne’s in the middle of a fraking HEAT WAVE, its not like the clouds are rolling in. So this is what I have seen, but no meteor shower of around 100 to 500 meteors per hour.

So why do I keep getting up and doing this, is it some form of obsessive compulsive behaviour previously undiagnosed?

Because in 2001 I got up to see the Leonids Meteor Shower (called this because it seems to originate from the constellation of Leo) and it was SPECTACULAR. Reports put the rate at 3000 meteors per hour.

This was not just a meteor shower.

Whenever the number of meteors exceeds 1000 per hour its called a meteor STORM. And as incredible that was it can be even better. In November 13, 1833 number of meteors exceeded 1000 per minute. Now the one I saw in 2001 wasn’t as much as that but still better than any fireworks display and amazing example of the terrifying beauty of the infinite cosmos I have never seen.

That’s why I get up.

That’s why I will keep getting up.

Because I want to be standing in a field in the middle of the night with the_weapon standing beside me and I want him to look up and see the wonder.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Has porn gone mainstream

Sorry for the NSFW title, but I figured if your filters are as undiscriminating as mine are at work this post was never going to get through anyway.

No doubt you are familiar with house porn, those renovation shows we watch because we have sunk too much money into our mortgage can't afford to remodel the kitchen and food porn because we are too time poor to prepare these meals just look at them. Heck without these shows 90% of commercial TV would disspear.

Well I want to bring to your attention Competence Porn. The boys and girls over at TV Tropes seem to define it as "when part of a work's appeal comes from characters and organizations that don't panic when things go wrong, but rise to the occasion". This is a bit too general for me. Over at the blog for the show 'Leverage' blogg they say "people love the briefing scenes". Over at Geekdad he hit what it is I love about Competence porn Geekdad.

Its the scenes where people with expertise, experience and knowledge gather and argue a point. It can work one on one like Vader in Star Wars: A New Hope, Ghost in the Shell had buckets of it, The West Wing had some great scenes where they'd argue out some point each character displaying their breath of knowledge, also BSG had some great briefing room competency. Also its nice to see some one who is wrong smacked down using competency.




Why does it appeal to me?

I think its having worked in a variety of jobs my fantasy is now just to have bosses, leaders or colleagues that I can count on to do their jobs well, make choices of staff based on ability and competency not because they like the same jokes as you do, and make decisions based on reason and not expediency.

Hope springs eternal.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Its not a phobia, its a completely rational response

If science fiction has taught us nothing else it's that when the sentient machine rise they will attempt to build machines that look like us, to infiltrate and destroy humanity. Think 'The Terminator', or Phillip K Dick's '2nd Variety' and 'Blade Runner'.

These constructed pseudo-humans creep me out. In the recently re-imaged Battlestar Galactica 2nd only to the most appalling ending to a beloved series I have every seen. (If you want a detailed reading as to why this comprehensively failed for me click here.) But a close second was the skin-job cyclons that looked like us.

And no I don't care how hot they look, they are evil and they have a plan.

And as disturbing as these are - it's those models between the T-800 of the Terminator and these almost flawless replicas that make my mind go screaming.

Anyone remember a movie called 'Final Fantasy: The Spirits within'? It was based on the video game of the same name and came out in 2001 . All CGI but trying to look like humans.

See WRONG.

The screaming in your head when you see these figures is caused by The Uncanny Valley. This hypothesis is when robots and other facsimiles of humans look and act almost, but not entirely, like actual humans, it causes a response of revulsion among human observers. The “valley” in question is a dip in a proposed graph of the positivity of human reaction as a function of a robot’s lifelikeness.

Any scientific graph is improved with Zombie

DAMN STRAIGHT.

So my feelings of revulsion at the idea of Honeydolls and those species traitors that use them - perfectly reasonable.

I am also pleased to see our primate brethren also share these excellent instincts. An article in New Scientist claims

Macaques are creeped out by cyber-selves



WRONG,WRONG, WRONG, WRONG, WRONG

Asif Ghazanfar and Shawn Steckenfinger of Princeton University wondered how five macaques would respond to monkey avatars. They found that the monkeys spent less time looking at the most realistic avatars - which they say suggests they dislike them (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

So I say - down with these monsters of our own creation, grab your pitchforks and follow.
Whose with me?



Thursday, October 15, 2009

EPIC FAIL

Vegemite is described on the Kraft food website as a "tasty spreadable paste made from brewer's yeast".In Terry Pratchett's 'The Last Continent' it is better described as a "salty-tasting beery brown gunk."

It's a thick, black paste that will provide a valuable source of vitamin B in the post-apocalyptic landscape because:
every home has a jar;
it doesn't need to be refrigeration;
I suspect it is largely immune to radiation; and
it is so salty that only extremophiles can survive in it so it will never go off.

The name was chosen in a national contest in 1923 and somehow it has so insinuated itself into the Australian cultural landscape that an ability to eat it on toast was considered a defining characteristic of being Australian, even though it is now owned by the big American food giant KRAFT.

Given such iconic status you'd think you'd be more careful how you treat the brand. Sinc
July this year Kraft sent out three million jars with the label "name me" and asked the public to send in their idea for the new Vegemite & cream cheese mix mmm YECH. 50,000 entries were received. A website posted the names and people began to generate the sort on-line buzz that suggested KRAFT had understood the new media and social networking.

and then KRAFT decided that the name would be


No really


the public went ballistic.

So in an effort to stem the firebombings they have now gone with VEGEMITE CHEESYBITE.

However with the internet, like Cuthulu do not call up that which you cannot put down.

Which has led to the following.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

My spoiler free review of ZOMBIELAND



It's AWESOME, go see it.

In fact is its so AWESOME for the next month I'll be attempting to use Woody Harrelson's character's catch phrase "Time to nut up, or shut up" as often as I can when I post.

For those overseas readers who think Australia is some tropical paradise I would reveal as well as having some of the most venomous spiders, snakes and jellyfish in the world we also have to wait until 3 DECEMBER to see this excellent training film.

In other Zombie media news the boys and girls over at Dreadcentral report that AMC is to get one of my favorite we_don't_spare_on_the_despair directors Frank Darabont of the movie 'The Mist' to write and produce a screen version of Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead. A excellent comix about life after the Zombie Apocalypse. It's not just the zombie slayage I come for but for the conversations, like this one.



But if you though McCarthy's The Road was bleak.. then this may not be for you.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

C.P Snow's Two Cultures are battling it out in Suburban Melbourne

I am a scientist by nature and training, while my_reason_for_living is a big brained Ph.D of Humanities.

So we are waged in a constant struggle over where the heart and mind of the nine year old weapon_against_society will lead.

I am pleased to declare that the forces of order and light have won a significant victory.

This week we got the_weapon's results from NAPLAN. The National Assessment Program for literacy and numeracy conducted on every year three student in Australian schools. The_weapon tested high in everything, but it was in numeracy he kicked butt. He did so well we considered getting him tested genetically to see if he is Asian.

There are a lot of things which contributed to this, lots of time on basic numeracy drills, he works a lot on an on-line program called Mathletics and he is learning piano and there is some evidence that it contributes to mathematical ability though there is some question over correlation and causation. Kids who are good at maths do well at music or the learning music helps them do maths.

The final salvo came when the_weapon declared one evening

"I want to be a particle physicist"

I suspect interest in quatum mechanics comes from the same place he learned the song he was singing on a street corner in Brisneyland last week to a friends Ipod


Our whole universe was in a hot dense state,
Then nearly fourteen billion years ago expansion started. Wait...
The Earth began to cool,
The autotrophs began to drool,
Neanderthals developed tools,
We built a wall (we built the pyramids),
Math, science, history, unraveling the mysteries,
That all started with the big bang!

But not to be complacent I am seeking out other ways to brainwash the_weapon. Yes I realise its brainwashing any parent who calls it anything like socialization is deluding themselves, parenting is all about brainwashing and operant conditioning.

The latest tool in my arsenal to get him to join the side of science. The excellent work of the band 'The Might Be Giants' and their CD 'Here Comes Science'. Which has the_weapon singing this song around the house.




I love diggin' in the dirt
With just a pick and brush
Finding fossils is my aim
So I'm never in a rush
The treasures that I seek
Are rare and ancient things
Like velociraptor's jaw
Or archaeopteryx's wing

And all the kids
Who wanna see 'em
Are lining up
At our museum

I am a paleontologist
That's who I am, that's who I am, that's who I am
I am a paleontologist
That's who I am, that's who I am, that's who I am

so any other suggestions for ways to produce a science head?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Waiting for the letter

It was Book Week at the Falcon Academy. Come as a character in a story the notice in the_Weapon's communication journal read.

These things send a chill through my spine as I try to imagine how these events can unfold without the_weapon and I ending up having to meet with the Academy’s Psychologist / Counsellor.

The day comes and the kids are there in the sort of garb you’d expect: pirates; witches; a ninja. I thought there would be more Harry Potters but they were very few on the ground.

So what did my son go as?

Well

He recently read a children’s edition of H.G.Wells ‘The Time Machine’. So he went as A MORLOCK he even had a business card to hand out to anyone that asked:


I AM A MORLOCK
Apex predator of 8,028th century
“it was a dull white, and had strange large greyish-red eyes; also that there was flaxen hair on its head and down its back”
- H.G Wells The Time Machine

One of his class mates -an odious youth, the sort who presents a charming face to his superiors but beneath dwells a sneer for any he does not consider his circle, asked in a dismissive tone.

"A Morlock, why’d you want to be that"?

The_Weapon, chewing a large chicken drumstick that we had negotiated as a suitable substitute for long pork, turned to look him in the eye and said loud enough for all to hear:

“I’d rather be predator than prey,…..Eloi”.

So here I am waiting for the letter from the principle to attend a meeting to discuss my child's choice of interests,

again.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

NATIONAL SCIENCE WEEK

The bestest week of the year

Down in Australia it's national science week. To get on board with the activities check out the web site here. We kicked it off last night at the cub pack sleep over participating in the Big Aussie Star Hunt.

But of the many benefits offered by Science this one caught my eye. By mathematicians at the Carlton University & University of Ottowa have completed research on


WHEN ZOMBIES ATTACK!: MATHEMATICAL MODELLING OF AN OUTBREAK OF ZOMBIE INFECTION

Here is a link to the chapter.

It examines three possible stratigies
  • quarantine (could lead to eradication, but unlikely to happen)
  • treatment (some humans survive, but they still must coexist with zombies),

but shows that there is REALLY only one strategy likely to succeed:


“impulsive eradication.”

I love it -

“impulsive eradication.”

Probably like the impulsive eradication demonstrated in the new trailer for the upcoming survival training video with Woody Harrelson 'ZOMBIELAND'
The study goes on to record “Only sufficiently frequent attacks, with increasing force, will result in eradication, assuming the available resources can be mustered in time,” they concluded.

And if we don’t act fast enough?

“If the timescale of the outbreak increases, then the result is the doomsday scenario: an outbreak of zombies will result in the collapse of civilization, with every human infected, or dead,” they wrote. “This is because human births and deaths will provide the undead with a limitless supply of new bodies to infect, resurrect and convert.”

How fast do we need to deal with the outbreak?

Here’s the equation they used, where S = susceptibles, Z = zombies and R = removed. If an infection breaks out in a city of 500,000 people, the zombies will outnumber the susceptibles in about three hours.
So there it is -Aim for the head and shoot fast.

This is an example where the world of academia is providing useful advice to deal with real world situations.

I love science.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A day that will live in INFAMY

A date which will live in infamy…no matter how long it may take us to overcome this, …the American people, in their righteous might, will win through…."

Obviously he was referring to the granting of a U.S. patent 735,777 on 12 August 1903 to the KATO coffee company for “Coffee Concentrate and process of making same”

That right INSTANT COFFEE was unleashed upon the world at the PAN AMERICIAN Exposition in Buffalo later that year. This was probably what led to president William McKinley being shot when he visited the fair in September.

I admit it is a luxury, but a fine espresso is a civilized start to any day and a cup of instant coffee is an abomination.

"No one can understand the truth until he drinks of coffee's frothy goodness". ~Sheik Abd-al-Kadir

It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion. It is by the beans of Java the thoughts acquire speed, the hands acquire shaking, the shaking becomes a warning. It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion” my co-workers get nervous when I start muttering this.

Whose up for a cup?

Monday, July 20, 2009

With this much irony


…….. surely it must be a carefully thought out marketing strategy.

On 17 July 2009 owners of an Amazon Kindle who had bought copies of George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm found their copies deleted remotely and their purchase refunded to their accounts

HOLY CRAP

It's something of a worry for me as this year after having to pack up all my books for a move I promised myself that I had purchased my last hard copy book. (Emergency by Neil Strass if you are interested) I had heard good things about the Kindle, admittedly all about the US edition with its wireless capabilities, but so much so I was considering handing over the hard earn readies when it was picked up by an Australian distributor.

But after Amazon’s tanty last year attempting to remove listings on ‘Adult material’ but which seems to have selectively and disproportionaly targeted authors of homosexual, gay or queer writings as covered in Flinhart’s blog here.

Now this latest stunt. You wonder if Amazon has been bought out by the fundamentalists.

Surely someone at Amazon is self aware enough to have realised to retrospectively try and remove a book you purchased from you, which was described by one of the readers of David Pogue’s Tech Blog at The New York Times “….it’s like Barnes & Noble sneaking into our homes in the middle of the night, taking some books that we’ve been reading off our nightstands, and leaving us a check on the coffee table..”. is particularly rediculous when it involves books that as a theme talk about cencorship and control of knowledge.



What’s next, wiping out copies of Bradbury’s ‘Fahrenheit 451’ with a little flaming icon on the screen while it was removed.



Though its all over who owns the rights to republish electronic copies of Orwell’s books needless to say I am rethinking my plans to purchase a Kindle as my eBook reader. Scifi’s Scott Edelman has quipped - As Orwell once wrote, "Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows." To that we add, freedom is the freedom to keep the book we paid for.



My favourite news quote so far about this is by Seattlest’s “Amazon's Kindle--Now with New Take-Backsies Feature”.




Anyone got any e-book readers they would suggest?

With this must irony…..


…….. surely it must be a carefully thought out marketing strategy.

On 17 July 2009 owners of an Amazon Kindle who had bought copies of George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm found their copies deleted remotely and their purchase refunded to their accounts

HOLY CRAP

It's something of a worry for me as this year after having to pack up all my books for a move I promised myself that I had purchased my last hard copy book. (Emergency by Neil Strass if you are interested) I had heard good things about the Kindle, admittedly all about the US edition with its wireless capabilities, but so much so I was considering handing over the hard earn readies when it was picked up by an Australian distributor.

But after Amazon’s tanty last year attempting to remove listings on ‘Adult material’ but which seems to have selectively and disproportionaly targeted authors of homosexual, gay or queer writings as covered in Flinhart’s blog here.

Now this latest stunt. You wonder if Amazon has been bought out by the fundamentalists.

Surely someone at Amazon is self aware enough to have realised to retrospectively try and remove a book you purchased from you, which was described by one of the readers of David Pogue’s Tech Blog at The New York Times “….it’s like Barnes & Noble sneaking into our homes in the middle of the night, taking some books that we’ve been reading off our nightstands, and leaving us a check on the coffee table..”. is particularly rediculous when it involves books that as a theme talk about cencorship and control of knowledge.


What’s next, wiping out copies of Bradbury’s ‘Fahrenheit 451’ with a little flaming icon on the screen while it was removed.


Though its all over who owns the rights to republish electronic copies of Orwell’s books needless to say I am rethinking my plans to purchase a Kindle as my eBook reader. Scifi’s Scott Edelman has quipped - As Orwell once wrote, "Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows." To that we add, freedom is the freedom to keep the book we paid for.


My favourite news quote so far about this is by Seattlest’s “Amazon's Kindle--Now with New Take-Backsies Feature”.


Anyone got any e-book readers they would suggest?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Per aspera ad astra

Here men from the planet Earth first set foot on the Moon. July 1969 A.D.
We came in peace for all mankind.

It’s the inscription on a metal plaque on the legs of the lunar landing module which has sat for the last 40 years on a feature named the ‘Sea of Tranquility’ on earth's Moon.



For a geek there is no bigger day in the calendar than 16 July the anniversary of the moon landing. The_weapon and I have been trying to make a Lego tribute but the Lunar Lander (Lem) is proving a challenge. A much simpler tribute is the work of a fan using the lego from the time of the landings..



Nothing since has fired the imagination of the world. No other event is pointed to as a pinnacle of our technological achievement to compare all others -‘if we can land men on the moon, why can’t we….(insert desired)?” was a frequent lament for the decades after. A generation of engineers and scientists were created because of the zeitgeist of the goal to land men on the moon. There was a feeling our future would be ever upward, a bright shinny utopia.

But it’s been forty years. Now we seem to view the future more with fear and trepidation, less optimism and enthusiasm than ever before.

Why ?

In that forty years were’ve discovered more, learned of wonders both sublime and gross, we have more people and hence more of the most evolved thinking machines ever devised living longer, with access to better tools and more information that we have had in the past centuries. To those who lived a thousand years ago we in countries like Australia, Britain and the United States would be judged as Gods. Even the rest of the world is racing to catch up to our opportunities.

Yes there are problems but hope beats despair any day for trying to fix something.

So we need a new Apollo program to once again inspire hope, but its hard to imagine one that will fire the imagination like the first. The Large Hadron Collider excites me and a lot of other geeks but hasn’t caught the public’s imagination, other than as a tool for hacks like Dan Brown to portray as the evils of science personified. The human genome project gets me hot and sweaty but had to generate an iconic image like the photo ‘earthrise’.



A permanent colony on the moon? Its an obvious step but more a commercial operation like setting up research station in Antarctica sur a technical challange but no ones going to make a movie about it. A walk on Mars?

No for me I want a crewed journey to another star system - that’s what I want to see.


But then to get the funding they would probably want to run it as a live streaming reality program something like Ron Battlestar Galactica Moore’s new series ‘Virtuality’ which is a little depressing. Not the show, though I am sure there will be depression in, after all if you are stuck on a ship with the same people for 10 years that's bound to make you a bit blue at times. I meant depressing you need reality TV to drive space exploration.

Still Per aspera ad astra

I leave you with a piece of music which for many people, myself included, can’t hear without thinking of humanity’s exploration of space.

Richard Strauss’s Thus Spake Zarathustra. Op. 30 from 2001: a Space Odyssey

So what should be the next great adventure ?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

It's not Crocodiles & Alligators any more

A few months ago I came across this report

"for the third time in just over a month, a healthy human placenta has been found by workers at the Urbana-Champaign Sanitary District. Urbana Police contacted the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District (CUPHD), and the Champaign County Coroner's Office for assistance with this unusual situation".

at the time the question was asked OK mainly over at IO9,

"which mad doctor has been doing experiments with transgenic babies in the sewers again? Seriously, if you're going to be hatching superhuman babies in your underground lair, don't flush the evidence down the toilet, genius/"

Which is where I assume the story would end.

However below is footage posted on youtube from a private contractor using sewer cam to inspect a drain in the sewers under Cameron Village in Raleigh, North Carolina. Yes I realise its a bit blurry but give me a break is a fibre optical cable as thin as a pencil inserted up the rectum of a city -do you really want HD. Honestly watch it, especially when it shudders -



That's just disturbing.

New York State University biologist Thomas Kwak claimed the sewer ball monster, can some one come up with a more mediapathic title for this beastie please? Kwak claimed the monster was thousands of tiny organisms called bryozoans, or moss animacules. "Invertebrates, they bunch together in colonies and feed with tiny tentacles".

Sounds good, plausable after all this is what bryozoans look like,





Dr. Timothy S. Wood, an expert on freshwater bryozoa and an officer with the International Bryozoology Association. He said:".....No, these are not bryozoans! They are clumps of annelid worms, almost certainly tubificids (Naididae, probably genus Tubifex). Normally these occur in soil and sediment, especially at the bottom and edges of polluted streams. In the photo they have apparently entered a pipeline somehow, and in the absence of soil they are coiling around each other. The contractions you see are the result of a single worm contracting and then stimulating all the others to do the same almost simultaneously, so it looks like a single big muscle contracting.

Which still leave me unsatisifed,
mainly because all I can think of it they look like
these, and we all know how well that ended.




















Tuesday, June 23, 2009

There seem to be a lot of 'Days' & 'Weeks' these days:

National read to your child day -14 Feb, International Women's day - 8 March, Diabeties Alert day - 24 March, National library week -12 April, May is National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month, National Teacher Day - 5 May, ...

Just June itself all ready holds
Stand for children day, National trails day, National men's health week, National cancer survivors day, Deaf-blind awareness week, World blood donor day, U.N world refugee day, Public service day,... and the whole month is home safety month,...

So I propose to add another to the list for June, a day to recognize the ceaseless vigilance of those who stand ready to face the shambling hordes of the undead. I want to declare June 23 International Zombie awareness day.

It was on this day in 1983 a low budget horror flick directed by Sam Raimi was premiered, the film Evil Dead gave us the greatest Zombie hunter of all time

Ashley J. Williams

The plot of the film is simplicity itself, a bunch of young adults go to an old cabin in the woods and each is killed, -horribly. A friend at the time directed after a late night showing 'get that thing, outa my video' -yes kiddies movies once came on black book shaped things called videocassettes.

The film spawned two sequels: Dead by dawn & Army of Darkness, a musical, computer game, a marvel comic book, many guest spots, Ash even made the list of Top 100 Heroes of All Time, describing him as "An egomaniacal, complaining, misogynistic goon, Ash is the best demon and zombie killer ever to be portrayed on the silver screen" and made the actor Bruce Campbell that played Ash welcome in any zombie hunter convention in the world.

Campbell himself said Ash is 'A bad slow thinker, but a great fast thinker' and 'Ash is pretty much incompetent at anything other fighting the evil dead'. He seems pretty ingenious to me such as making a chainsaw bracket and shotgun harness, gunpowder from mainly referencing its elemental makeup in a chemistry book, and a fully functional prosthetic hand from a metal gauntlet.

But he cemented himself into the annuals of zombie hunter fandom with bolting a chainsaw to the severed stump of his right hand and at the end of the second film standing in a barren wasteland with his trade mark sawed off double-barreled 12 gauge Remington shotgun and chainsaw surrounded by the evil dead.


"Hail to the King, Baby"

So June 23 International Ashley J. Williams day, whose with me?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

NO MORE HEROES

One of the points that stories like The Batman toy with is that you only get super villains if you start with superheroes. This is a thesis which has been impossible to test,

until now.

Of the many crimes against humanity committed so far by the social networking site MySpace the most egregious is The World Superhero Registry.

Which proudly proclaims itself "...a forum and resource for the REAL LIFE SUPERHERO COMMUNITY.." The site has dozens of biographies with photos of wannabe and neverbeen folk, listing their names, whether they are 'active', tips such as 'how to build a net gun', if their exploits have been covered in the media and even their superhero organisation such as Black Monday or The Vixens of Velour (okay I made the last one up, but they do have a Vixens of Valour group).

As long as you could look at this as a bunch of cosplay fanatics who just took it a bit too seriously then fine. But now a 21year old calling himself Shadowhare has gone and set up the Alliance of Heroes to help defend the good citizens of that hot bed of crime .....Cincinnati.

I've never been to Cincinnati, but I can't believe it deserves this



The first stirrings of opposition came from 'the Consortium of Evil' who offered a $10 bounty for the Shadowhares secret identity. Then came R.O.A.C.H

Ruthless Organisation Against Citizen/Chubby Heroes.

Whose leader the mysterious The Potentate, check it out here, has stated the removal of these superheroes is the first step "towards the total end game of world domination" I hope he finished with a maniacal laugh. It's all about standards people.

So which whould you rather team up with

or

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Famous Last words

Today is the 9 May in 1864 during the American civil war in at the battle of Spotsylvania
union General John Sedgwick digusted at the way his men were, quite rightly it turns out taking cover, was heard to exclaim

"They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance.."

on soldier who responded to this that he preferred to duck when being shot at, even from a great distance.

To this the general replied "all right man go to your place" just as an enemy sharp-shooter took him out.

So in recognition of 9 MAY as stupid last thing to say day here a few more



"More Light" by Goethe a German poet, novelist, philosopher, and scientist.

" Shoot Straight you bastards" - Lt Harry Moran to the firing squad about to execute him during the Boer war.

"Here is the German heart" - by the last of the "Schillschen officers" - a group of eleven Prussian officers executed on the Schillschen Field in Wesel, Germany, by Napoleon's troops. I'd like to think he was pointing at it at the time to assist aiming.

"The fog is rising" - Emily Dickinson a famous tragic.

"18 straight whiskies I think thats a record" - Dylan Thomas

"Don't let it end like this. Tell them I said something." - Pancho Villa

and a personal favourite

"I wish I had time for one more bowl of chilli" - Kit Carson

and to end this day I suggest we all enjoy the following










Wednesday, May 6, 2009

See I told you

Hats off to the Zombiehunters tech team that pulled this one off.

The attention to detail is superb.

Click here

Monday, May 4, 2009

Its War of the World WITH ZOMBIES

I’m sticking by my review on Amazon of Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, this book is a million times better than the original.

It seems that enough folk were as hot as I was for a literary mash up that includes zombies to earn, what is known in the biz as Elephant bucks for the small publishing press Quirk books. As of this week its 10th on the New York Times paper back trade fiction bestseller list, #15 on Amazon and according to the trade mag Publisher’s Week Quirk has more than 120,000 copies in print.

So is it a surprise to anyone that publishers are scrambling to get out more of these literary mash-ups?

Of course the author Seth Grahame-Smith has been handed a sack of cash by Grand Central Press, reputed to be over half a million, to write Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. This may address one of the concerns Flinthart raised in his review about “Grahame-Smith is so concerned with mirroring the original material that the impact of his ‘Now With Added Zombies’ version is all but lost” as there is no such detailed original text.

It doesn’t end there because Coscom Entertainment have released The War of the Worlds: H.G. Wells's Classic Plus Blood, Guts and Zombies. How cool is that!

From Amazon
The invasion begins . . . and the dead start to rise. There's panic in the streets of London as invaders from Mars wreak havoc on the living, slaying the populace with Heat-Rays and poisonous clouds of black smoke. Humanity struggles to survive against technology far beyond its own, meeting fear and death at every turn. But that's not the only struggle mankind must face. The dead are rising from their graves with an insatiable hunger for human flesh. Friends, neighbours and loved ones lost to the war of the worlds are now the enemy and the Earth is forever changed. It's kill or be killed, if you want to survive, otherwise you might become one of the walking dead yourself.

These sounds like pitches that come up during a game of ‘Grave Robbers from outer space’.

From Z-man games it pays a tongue-in-cheek homage to the Horror and Sci-Fi B-Movies we all love love to hate…or hate to love. Players are making a B-Movie by playing Characters, Props, and Locations in their movie and sending Creatures to attack the other players' movies in order to kill off their Characters. With cards like “You’ve seen her breasts so her character must die” or “Cabin in the woods – did you leave the door open”. When Roll the Credits is played, the player with the most points wins!

I can only hope this trend for mash ups continues. I’d always though that TV series should have cross overs -like Firefly meets Star Trek, or Lost characters wander into Law & Order. Zombies of course remain an untapped resource. Hamlet’s father as a walking undead or imagine the Hunt for Red October with nazi zombies rising from the bottom of the sea.

Any you’d like to see?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Come on, is that the best you got?

No doubt everyone has heard about the outbreak of swine influenza A (H1N1).

I am sanguine about this one for a number of reason.

The virus was identified a threat early in the outbreak. The virus seems to be transmitted by droplet. While this is worse than if it was bloodborne its better than if it was airborne. In the past the morbidity rate for these viruses are around 4% and so far seem to be responsive to the antivirals oseltamivir (prescribed under the trade name Tramiflu in Australia) and zanamivir.

Medical authorities have raise the alarm, The World Health Organisation has set the ‘global Influenza Prepardness Plan at Phase 4 which is characterized by

"...verified human-to-human transmission of an animal or human-animal influenza reassortant virus able to cause “community-level outbreaks.” Phase 4 indicates a significant increase in risk of a pandemic but does not necessarily mean that a pandemic is a forgone conclusion..."

In Australia we have 8 million viable stocks of Tramiflu for our popualtion.
Our medical professionals have been briefed on the clinical signs and able to send samples to type the virus to confirm if it is swine influenza A (H1N1). The public is aware that if the display flu like symptoms to have them checked. Also the Government on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Jim Bishop included swine influenza to be a quarantinable disease in humans under the Quarantine Act 1908.

Under the Quarantine Act, people who, in the opinion of the Chief Medical Officer, are likely to have been exposed with swine flu, can be placed under surveillance until it can be established that they should either be ordered into quarantine, or it is established that they are not affected by the disease.

For myself
I am following the news, still no confirmed cases in Australia though still awaiting results on some. I am carrying out good hygiene practices and have advise co-workers if they cough anywhere near me is shall ‘kill them where they sit’. So I am fairly confident.

How about you?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Haven't we suffered enough

Many media pundits report that in hard economic times people look to lighter, funny more comforting entertainments. A benefit the makers of the Star Trek movie look to reap while the producers of ‘The Road’ agonise over their poor timing. A similar suggestion is floated for books. So of the many tragedies that can be laid at the feet of the Global Financial Crisis (so much more bloodless than The Great Depression - Redux) is it also responsible for why for the first three months of 2009, Stephenie Meyer's Twilight books took the first four spots quarterly best-selling books list. Sales of Meyer's five novels accounted for 16% of all books sold. The fifth being the uncharacteristically interesting ‘young adult’ alien invasion novel ‘The Host’. Worse if you consider she was responsible for one out of every seven books sold in the last three months.

Yeah I know “if it gets the kids reading” argument.

It seems there is a contrary section of the population that when civilization crumbles they crave “Paranormal, horror and especially apocalyptic-themed novels” says St. Martin's editor Michael Homler. This is reflected in sales of two of my favorites from last year
“Wastelands a collection of post-apocalyptic short fiction just went into a fifth printing selling over 30,000 copies a little over 12 months, and The Living Dead ,over 45,000 copies in six months.

But perhaps the worse effect the GFC has had on book sales. The UK’s Guardian newspaper has reported sales of Ayn Rand’s ‘Atla’s Shrugged’ have taken a marked jump. The Ayn Rand Centre for Individual Rights claims that US-wide sales almost tripled over the first seven weeks of 2009, compared with the same period in 2008.

Haven’t we suffered enough in this GFC, now to have to put up with a bunch of investment banker uber capitalists with copies under one arm and fists full of government bailout bucks in the other spouting about world in which the

"men of the mind" - inventors, entrepreneurs and industrialists - withdraw their labour from a society intent on bleeding them dry with taxes and regulations. Furious at being exploited by the government on behalf of the masses, who are described as "parasites" and "moochers", the striking capitalists retreat to a camp in the mountains of Colorado, protected by a special holographic shield. Starved of their genius, society collapses and wars break out until eventually bureaucrats are forced to beg the rebels' leader, John Galt, to take over the economy.

If you don’t believe it read some of

Monday, April 13, 2009

Japanese Education System continues to outstrip US, Australia & Europe

Easter
Sorry but a festival about a guy who dies and then comes back makes me tad uncomfortable.

A few posts back I mentioned the Onion panel discussion on whether or not the current crop of computer games: Left4Dead, Fallout3 or Fallen Earth are adequately preparing our children for the post apocalyptic world.

Japan has taken this to the next logical step.




Sure some of you may claim this may traumatize the little tykes, though I will say from a survey of the_weapon his only comments were: ‘Why didn’t they aim for the head’ and ‘bring it’.

Anyway is a preemptive scarring, like exposing your kids to chicken pox so that they don’t get it as an adult.

However Japan you and I are going to have words about this

Friday, March 27, 2009

SCHADENFREUDE

Schadenfreude is it wrong if the ‘other’ is a complete dick

Like Birmo’s and Flinthart’s offspring The_Weapon takes training in unarmed combat. To learn students are paired up and practice the demonstrated techniques with instructors watching and correcting.

At the dojo where he trains he is frequently paired with the same ukei (training partner) of similar age and size. Part of martial arts training is learning to be a good ukei: using the correct strike, moving the right way to help your partner practice the throw etc.. The kid he is paired with is not a good ukei. He tries to punch when he should use a strike, comes in too fast when they should be practicing the timing, moving out when practicing a throw to make it harder…generally being a dick.

We have tried to help The_weapon take this with focus and dedication to the discipline. We figure he is going to have to deal with idiots all his life may as well develop ways of dealing with them now. So when he has coped the odd blow to the head, kick in the shins etc… he will get up, brush it off and take up the posture ready for the next technique.

All the senior students, instructors and head of the school are aware of this ukei’s attitude, so they try to rotate him around different training partners.

Last night they paired this crappy ukei with a new student, a white belt, and as a new student will, they messed up the strike and accidentally landed a solid blow to the crappy ukei’s nose.

This kid who had often punched, stepped on or tried to trip The_weapon during training -fell over on his arse, looked up at his shorter and newer opponent and jumped up running from the mat ‘crying like a little girl’ as later described by the_weapon.

I swear the instructor at the time looked at the parents and smiled when this happened.

So is Schadenfreude still Schadenfreude if the ‘other’ really deserves it?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes

Well me, obviously.

Twice now.

Once on the BIG screen at IMAX who tout their movies with the tagline - “Trust us......SIZE DOES MATTER!”

and once in Village Cinema's Gold Class, “mmm why yes - bring me the double wagyu burgers with tomato jam, cheese, lettuce, with onion relish served with shoe string fries and garlic aioli. Then for desert I’ll have the mixed berry cheesecake with grand marnier compote and mascarpone with my coffee, bring it out 30 minutes before the end”. For complete menu click here.

What did I think, - let me set the scene

THE GRAPHIC NOVEL (1986-1987)
Watchmen has been described, as the Moby Dick of superhero graphic novels and it must be a novel since it was included in Time Magazine’s 100 greatest novels of all time, Click here for the full list. Though with Phillip.K. Dick’s Ubik on the list a Mind-fraking component must have been included high on the priorities for selection. Watchmen used tropes and tabulae of images in the way big screen cinema had been using them for years and so it was this graphic novel that challenged the way such novels were perceived at the time. For the movie to have the same impact it would have needed to do cinema in a way that drew on the techniques of other media.

MY EXPERIENCES OF THE GRAPHIC NOVEL
Reading it in 1987 would be different to reading it now. I don’t know if it was in the 80s the US, UK and to a lesser extent Australia seemed to be facing economic and social woes that gave rise to an atmosphere of imminent collapse. Maybe it was my itinerant sharehouse lifestyle complete with transitory screaming random housemates, the marginal paying, time-shifted macjobs we all worked, the sense that the 20th Century was circling the drain of history that made the existence of masked vigilantes and indifferent world shattering forces as not only believable but indeed required. This and the increasing belief that the future held an absence of any shinny jetpacks, moon bases and hot android women added to a feeling of hopelessness and despair that the comic/graphic novel captured.

So Watchmen, though I didn’t realise it at the time, was the fear stink of sweat, semen, and blood of an era coalesced into a thick slab of a slowly crumbling paper.

MY EXPERIENCES OF THE FILM
Watching Zack ‘300’ Snyder’s WATCHMEN unfold on the big screen I was seeing a significant, much contemplated and beloved chunk of my youth up there in homage. That just doesn’t happen to me, usually its all boomer aging or gen Y angst.

BIG props to Zack Snyder who I can only imagine must as big a fanboy as the rest of us given how he lovingly recreates the novel. Almost every scene is a fractal of the complex story and panels worthy of framing.

The casting was for me spot on. Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Supernatural’s John Winchester) as Edward Blake/Comedian, Jackie Earle Haley as Walter Kovacs/ Rorschach being my stand out favorites only because they were my favorites in the novel.

STANDOUT SCENES ******SPOILERS***********

Anything with Rorschach

Is that what happens to us? A life of conflict with no time for friends, so that when it's done, only our enemies leave roses”.

"It is not God who kills the children. Not fate that butchers them or destiny that feeds them to the dogs. It’s us. Only us".

Rorschach could have been a poet. Okay maybe a crazy, super-violent poet, but a poet.

For me the two scariest parts of the film are

when Dan Dreiberg is standing in the midst of a riot plaintively decrying

What's happened to the American dream?” And the comedian smiling as he turns back from knocking down a protester with a smoke round (technically non-lethal) answers “It came true. You're lookin' at it”.

Dr Manhattan’s old colleague Wally Weaver is on a talk show and calmly and sanely says: “I never said the superman exists, and he's American. What I said was God exists, and he's American. If that statement starts to chill you after a couple of moments consideration then don’t be alarmed. A feeling of intense and crushing religious terror at the concept only indicates that you are still sane”.

THE SQUID
No its not in it.

Yes I think the ending they went with still works

Damn I did want to see that squid up on the big screen though.

But even in my most fanboy hopeful I KNEW they couldn’t keep the same ending.

For those who have read the novel you know there was NO WAY after 9-11 any studio would make a movie that recreated the first 8 pages of Chapter XII on the big screen as haunting and eerie as it could have been done up on the big screen.

SO WHAT DO YOU THINK
The reviews and box office are mixed and I have read a lot now.
For an surprising take, check out some of the reviews here, really check them out.
It shows that Christian doesn’t mean fundamental, bigoted and narrow minded. A few provided an insight from a religious perspective on the movie that gave me a different but valid viewpoint seeing it as a morality play, a discourse on the materialist and the divine, etc.

Then of course some are just plain bat-frak crazy too, especially as they offer a section titled ‘comments from Non-viewers’ for those who want to say something WHO HAVE NEVER SEEN THE FILM.

Some of the comments/complaints in the reviews are about the violent and graphic nature use the scene in the prison saying “....By the way, the guy could have easily cut through the bars on the other side, since Rorschach's cell was quite wide. This is what I mean when I say excessive violence… there's often no point whatsoever other than to shock the audience, which makes it somewhat similar to the 'horror' movies of today”.

This is mistaken on two levels:

  • Thematically -it helps reinforce the brutal, callous nature of the criminals that Rorschach faces everyday.
  • Mechanically -as they are constrained for time they want to cut the least number of bars. They could cut through the bars further down but to make a sufficient space to allow access would mean cutting 3 bars twice, top and bottom. Instead they could cut the arms and get access to the two bars around the cage lock. Cutting two bars and the lock falls, cage open.
It’s a case of cutting through 2 arms is faster than cutting twice through a jail cell bar.

*****SPOILERS OFF*************

VIRGINS
What will people who've never read Watchmen even think of this film? What will it be like for them to sit through these crazy, violent, colourful three hours and not recognize almost every line – almost every image? Will they be utterly baffled, bored, or totally love it?

Perhaps if the economic downturn continues and this coming decade brings with it the every increasing hopeless and despair that the 1980s held then the movie will be reassessed.

IMHO
Is Watchmen a good or bad movie? I have no idea.

I’m going to go with the words of Matt Selman, The Times on-lines nerd in residence.

“I stand powerless before the Gods I once worshiped in my attic bedroom, now moving and talking and fighting and loving on a giant screen. And I find myself unable to judge them”.

FOR THE FANBOYS
But remember if for nothing else Zack ‘300’ Snyder deserves our thanks (and nothing would say thanks better than going to see it a few more times) for preventing the studio’s from committeeing the novel to death. Because for all the movie's magnificent follies we could have ended up with this:

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Lunch, certainly not naked

Guru Bob and I caught up for lunch on friday, a fairly regular thing since we both work in the CBD.

Once we'd choose a different eatery each time, but now we stick with a great noshing place up a narrow, cobbled, crooked lane way in Melbourne that should lead to an opium den but instead reveals the 'Dainty Sichuan Food', and having eaten there - that word 'Dainty', I do not think it means what you think it means.
So each week we are working our way through the menu.

If you get there between 12.30 and 1.30 PM it also has the advantage of turning into Asian babe central. I think we can all agree you can never have too much spicy food or being surrounded by Asian babes eating spicy food. Another reason we keep going back is we see stuff people have ordered and we try to order it going on the names. Up till now that has being pretty hit and miss. This time as well as the usual menu they also gave us one of the novices menus which includes pictures of each of the the dishes.

This week it was:
• 'cumin pork spare ribs' - our must always have when we go,
• 'ants climbing the hill' which was surprisingly free of ants, and

• pork slice hot pot, and when they say hot pot they mean in spice, not temperature.

We then headed up to catch 'Watchmen' on IMAX but that's a topic for another post.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Its the debate we had to have

For those who aren't aware the zombieapocalypse is a subset of Eschatology. This is a part of theology and philosophy concerned with the final events in the history, the ultimate destiny of humanity, commonly referred to as the end of the world.

and while much has been written, sung and painted about Armageddon and don't get me started on those who talk about wanting to "immanentize the eschaton" never have I seen the post-apocalyptic wasteland more lovingly portrayed than in the computer game Fallout3.



but the question has to be asked

"Are these games really preparing our children for the post-apocalyptic wasteland, thank goodness the team at 'The Onion' have been tackling this vital topic.


Are Violent Video Games Adequately Preparing Children For The Apocalypse?

"grenades are more effective at taking out cyborgs than automatic weapons"

I think there is a lesson there for us all.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Okay Japan you and I need to have a talk

Dear Japan,

I want to start by saying you have given me a lot to be thankful for:

Samurai particularly Itto Ogami of 'Lone Wolf and Cub' fame, the greatest father son story in literature.

Miyamoto Musashi's Book of Five Rings. A book in which I uncover something new each time I read it.

The whole Kaiju (translated ‘strange beast’, but meaning giant monster like Gojira) movie industry without which we would never have seen Jack Reno make a joke about American instant coffee.

Ninjas of course, is there anyone who doesn’t think Ninjas are cool? Ninjas never go out of style. ANY story can improved with ninjas, they are like zombies in that way……mmmm…..Zombie Ninjas!

Rope work (Kinbaku) which goes so far beyond anything else I think some of the knots use mobius strips and cross over into some weird non-Euclidian geometry dimension on a topological level.

Also where would my late night TV experience of Deep Cable be without J-Horror, sure Korean-horror may have taken it further and Spain-horror has been putting out some kick arse stuff recently. But where would scary films be now without the influence of Ringu, Ju-on, Dark Water, One Missed Call & Pulse. We all know the tropes by now :vengeful ghosts; long stringy black hair; impossible physical gymnastics; meowing little ghost boys; cursed videos (or cell phones or computers); old rotted buildings and corpses; moldy books and newspapers; elliptical storylines (or a total abandonment of logic); creepy sound design; and creepy cinematography.

Then there is the Anime, so much anime. Enough to say if you don’t know who Deunan Knute or Major Motoko Kusanagi are, or if you don’t know who Astroboy (anyone else looking forward to the new movie), Gigantor or Prince Planet are then your childhood Saturday mornings were probably more active than mine.

For all this I can even forgive your robotic hubris that will see the rise of our machine overlords



but seriously WTF?

Friday, February 20, 2009

My Lunch with Bob

Well its 11:30PM, the_weapon and my_reason_for_living are bedded down for the night so the time is mine now.

I'll make this quick because now is usually when I get to wander the Post-Apocalyptic wasteland of Fallout3 or lay some cooperative smack_down on Zombies in Left4Dead.

Every couple of weeks GuruBob and I catch up for lunch as we both work in Melbourne's Central Business District. Bob has been an invaluable source to anyone seeking good each eats in this town. For the pass dozen or so visits we have tried different excellent eateries. Today we returned to the one we first dinned in.
You walk up an alleyway passing overflowing industrial bins whose odour mixes with the exotic spices of Chinatown. Inside the place was packed. The menu we got today were the ones that didn't come with pictures so we had to wing it. We observed many dishes on the surrounding tables and tried to order based on what these meals looked like.

"That one has crab in it..."

"Oh on the menu they have crispy chilli pig intestine"

"NO"

"That one comes in a big bowl, and looks like it has chicken, do you think that's Chilli Chicken Pot?"

" Let's order that"

"And Cumin Pork Spare Ribs".....

Well we weren't disappointed, the food came and it was outstanding. The chicken was these tiny little clumps of deep fried goodness on thin bones passing through the chicken. More chick than chicken sized but there were lots of them scattered through out the plate.

Next time I will extend a general invite to those in the Melbourne CBD and take a camera. What I did do was save the left over 'vegetables' of the dish and took a photo when I got home.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Looks like a bunch of coffee addicts to me

As a keen watcher of all things pandemic, which is but one thread of the rich tapestry that is the Zombie Apocalypse I could discuss the news of first recorded outbreak of Marburg Hemoraggic fever in the United States and all that forebodes.

Or perhaps the fact that a spineless, mindless jellyfish - the Turritopsis Nutricula have cracked the secret of immortality, something that continues to thwart our best endeavors.

or in a harbinger of the coming sentient machine uprising engineer Christopher MacLeod and his colleagues (species traitors ALL) at the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen are providing machines with the ability to adapt their neural networks in a way that mimic's biological evolution.

But instead I wish to pose a question.

This morning my_reason_for_living, the_weapon and I were having a beverage while out. I ordered an Affogato. Since my_reason_for_living possesses a Y chromosome you would assume anything with chocolate and ice cream would get her seal of approval, but no.

"You know I only like coffee flavour in a hot coffee.......

"This is because you can not appreciate the subtle interplay for flavours and textures" I retorted.

"Yeah this from a man who likes things to taste either hot or caffeinated. A man who thinks cucumber has no taste". She quipped.

My question, does cucumber have any taste at all?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

On February 24th this year I hope to be lying in a hospital bed with my head swathed in bandages. Either that or unconscious, but no long term coma I need to be up and about in a day or two either Thursday or Friday that week.

Why you ask?

Its all due to this:



It's called Comet Lulin and NASA is saying its green colour comes from the gases that make up its Jupiter-sized atmosphere. Jets spewing from the comet's nucleus contain cyanogen, a poisonous gas found in many comets and diatomic carbon. Both substances glow green when illuminated by sunlight in the near vacuum of space.

That's all very well, but I recall another green light linked to a comet.

"...the Earth's orbit passed through a cloud of comet debris. You can even believe it if you like -millions did....
....it was reported in the news-bulletins during the day that mysterious bright green flashes had been seen..."

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

So while normally the_Weapon and I would drive up to the hills to check it out with the reflecting telescope.

Not this time.

This time,

Don't Watch the Skies.