Day of Aussie

Friday, January 26, 2007 | 1:06 am

Australia USA Size Comparison

I had this postcard in my office at Company D for years, a useful education tool for inquisitive Yanks. It was actually sent to me by a SWCCG Tournament Coordinator in Perth who wanted to help our then Marketing Co-ordinator to understand that Melbourne and Perth weren't so close. This after the employee had mailed Perth prize support to a Melbourne TD and then asked if he could deliver it.

But regardless, it's January 26th today, so HAPPY AUSTRALIA DAY to all those I left behind, and also to that unusually large percentage of our 20 million who are away from the mother-country. Cheers!


Great Courthouse Quote

Thursday, January 25, 2007 | 6:22 pm

A Sydney TV comedian was charged with "offensive behaviour" recently for filming a skit outside a Rugby League match where he offered the assembling supporters the chance to buy "official team merchandise" such as (fake) knuckledusters, (rubber) knives, balaclavas, (imitation) flares and Rohypnol.

He was taking a comedic shot at my childhood team, the Sydney Bulldogs, whose players and supporters have squandered great performances in recent years by getting caught up in a number of unsavoury "off-the-field" incidents.

In a surprisingly common-sense judgment, the judge dismissed the charge against Chas Licciardello, saying reasonable people would not have been offended by the prank. Wow... judges talking about 'reasonable people', a spectacular quote in itself.

But the best quote came when Chas met with the press after the verdict:

"I'd just like to say how deeply disappointed we are at the court's decision. I will not rest until this injustice has been corrected. We will be appealing the decision to the Supreme Court, to the High Court, to the UN, to the Jedi Council and to the snick-o-meter."

Informed by the press that he'd in fact had a victory in court, Licciardello said: "I'm sorry, I didn't actually prepare any material for the off-chance that we won."

* Note: The snickometer is a piece of cricket adjudicating technology that tries to determine by sound analysis whether a batsman might have got a very faint "edge" to a delivery (pitch). Such an edge is called a "snick" or "nick". It isn't currently an official piece of equipment for the game, but is used in television coverage in order to show when the umpire screws up.

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Spoiler Hilarity

Tuesday, January 23, 2007 | 2:22 pm

When posting The Prestige article earlier this week, I consciously went back through the text and changed the bold headings as I thought the original headings were too revelatory, i.e. even if you caught the spoiler warning, you may still glance over the bold heading and feel I spoiled something.

I wondered if this was considerate or overkill? Especially considering it was a movie that has been out for months but just not yet on DVD. Should that be sufficient time for me to say "all bets are off" and spoil to my heart's content, or do I have to wait until ever socio-economic group has had a fair and equal chance to see the movie?

Who knows, but curiously the very topic was beautifully summed up by a poster named dvddesign on Digg today. In a long list of comments discussing the plot-twists of last Sunday's excellent Battlestar Galactica episode "Rapture", their was the inevitable complaint that the title of the thread revealed plot-points , and this guys comment was just pitch perfect:

So do we have to keep everything about everything a spoiler from everyone from here on out? Isn't there a place or time where it can be assumed that it's okay to discuss something without ruining anything for anyone, or do secrets have to be kept forever lest someone find out the big reveal?!?!

Add some larger words, some English spelling, and a few less exclamation marks and (s)he has captured my thoughts exactly. But dvddesign goes further, finally nailing the coffin shut for spoiler warnings from here on out...
  • Vader is Luke's father.
  • Bruce Willis is actually dead.
  • She's his mother and his sister.
  • Glenn Close didn't die the first time.
  • Oceanic Flight 815 crashed because of a magnetic pulse beam coming from the island, and there's four toed statues.
  • Shredder created the Ninja Turtles.
  • Cartman ends up time-traveling to 3 months before he left and must wait even longer for a Wii.
  • The chick in the crying game is a man.
  • The final sin, envy, is revealed to be gwyneth paltrow's head in a box.
  • Snape kills Dumbledore
  • Kevin Spacey's character is Keyser Soze, he was faking all of it.
  • Michael Corleone shoots and kills Fredo in a rowboat on the lake.

Did you get all those references? I think the only one that lost me was #3...
Oh yeah, there may be spoilers above. ;)

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Horrific F1 Accident

The reason, apparently, was "Excessive downforce during a shunt lead to damage of key suspension resulting in going off, leaving horrific wreck." The unfortunate side-effect of the damage meant that getting help was no longer possible. For those not upset by such things, here's the image.



Friday, January 19, 2007 | 4:02 pm

With my bloggin' hiatus of late last year, I left a few "movie threads" open, and indeed have a couple films I dearly loved that I want to discuss here. First up is The Prestige. Schocho highly recommended it against my previous inquiry on the subject, so needing no more proof than the raving attestations of the C-Man, the Gorgeous Wife and I took a quick walk to the local to check it out.

Holy crap, loved it.

Any movie that gets you thinking for 2 hours afterwards is a good thing in these jaded days of "movies that wash over you". Not only did we discuss/argue some salient points afterwards, I have so far found that the few people I have chatted to about the movie seem to have drawn slightly different conclusions.

Expect MAJOR SPOILERS below, and avert thine eyes... although you should have seen this by now. :P

Michael Caine, The Prestige
Seeing this movie, doesn't guarantee you will see the light.

Argument #1 was over whether or not Borden's (Christian Bale's character) accomplice is a twin, or a "Tesla-copy". My mate maintains it was a copy from when he saw the machine at the World Fair, and I have seen some arguments online suggesting that this is the only explanation for two men having the same zeal for the art of magic, they were the same man.

I poo-poo that idea. No-one knew the machine worked as it did, and if Borden knew that, he never would have sent Angiers on what he thought was a goose-chase to Tesla, and it ignores all the hints that the simplest explanation is the right one, and all the wife's hints that Borden is sometimes not in love.

Basically, was the death of Julia a twin mix-up, cause one-twin missed Cutter's conversation about it swelling under water? It would explain the great line at her funeral in response to being asked which knot he tied, Borden says "I keep asking myself that". But, there is nothing to suggest the twin exists at this stage, since Borden doesn't have his "helper" around in this part of the movie, only appearing when he goes solo. A reviewing of the movie would probably help solve that one.

The movie suggests that Cutter didn't really catch on until Angier revealed the machine/tanks to him he looks surprised, but catches on pretty fast throwing in the jab about drowning being agony. But then somewhere between this scene and the one prior where Cutter meets Angier at the house (and realizing he was the mysterious Lord Caldow), Cutter works out enough to realize he isn't happy with Angiers, and tips Borden #2 off as to the final location. Was this only because Cutter was unhappy about the child? Remember, the final scene suggests that Cutter didn't realize Borden was a twin either until after all that played out.

The theories get even wilder than that on IMDB forums, including that one of the Bordens killed his wife cause she was getting close to working it all out (thus the gallows line "Sorry about Sarah"), and an existential argument claiming that the "ultimate prestige" is that the Tesla machine didn't work at all, and it was all done with Angier's actor-double. I'll leave that one to the frenzied.

Congratulations Chris Nolan. You may have managed to create even more of a mind-bender than Memento.



Thursday, January 18, 2007 | 9:53 pm

Even in the abbreviated version of the abridged variety of the game (Twenty20 matches take about 3-4 hours to play), cricket fans still have plenty of time to act like larrikins!

Cricket Fan


The Darker Side of Spiders

I like spiders. A pretty natural side-effect for a non-female growing up in Australia on 300ft of land that ran down into a bush gully. We got a lot of them, and there were a few that could kill you, so it was better to know some well than fear them all.

Even so, this short instructional video reveals a side of spiders I was unaware of, and frankly, their substance abuse scares me.

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One sixth of 24 is...

Monday, January 15, 2007 | 11:22 pm

I haven't seen 24 since I watched the first season in a bum-numbing DVD weekend back when everyone was into it. Enjoyed it, but not enough to keep up with it on commercial TV every week.

Was actually a little surprised to see that the show was still running (yep, ain't as up to date as I should probably be), as the terrorist plot devices they use seemed limited to 3 or 4 seasons (nuclear weapon, chemical weapon, biological weapon, nasty allergy weapon), but a little web analysis suggested that Season 5 was fantastic, especially the opening, so I decided to commit the GW and myself to the 4 hour lead-in to Season 6.

Overall, I enjoyed it, but not yet convinced I can make another 20 episode/hour commitment with commercials. Took a little while to get into it's stride, and they kind of telegraphed the fact that the bomb would go off (suitcase bombs: you can blow one up, and still have room left for plot!), but their is some kind of masochistic pleasure in watching Jack constantly in the physical and emotional wringer.

But, in keeping with the PC-using bad guys of the show, here's my list of demand in order to guarantee my continued co-operation:

  • The country needs a new President
    The thing that killed the first episode for me was the setup. A bunch of suicide bombings, and already the President was bargaining with terrorists - well bargaining may be over-stating it, lets call it "succumbing immediately". Seems to go against all common sense and previous presidential quotes.
    Since then, this President has chosen to deal again (loading the prisoners on the plane), and ignored Jacks advice (on Fayed). The guy is 0 for 3.

  • Jack must get a new team to back him up.
    So far, Jack's most reliable ally has been an ex-terrorist. The President has ignored him and sold him up the river, and his CTU mate chose to execute the order that involved handing Jack to his torturers (where's the donated suicide pill?), but then decided to ignore a Presidential decree (and Jack's advice) to leave Assad unharmed.

    But with a batting average that makes the President look like Babe Ruth (or Don Bradman, to keep my sporting metaphors closer to my heritage ), the CTU Attack Squad, or whatever you call the nameless SWAT-looking guys in kevlar, are becoming the very definition of royally incompetent. While the terrorists run rings around the White House and CTU with planning, intel, and good help, the CTU StrikeForce managed to screw up the attack on the storage unit, shoot Ahmed (the guy they were told to take non-lethally), and then botch the attack on the warehouse resulting a nuclear detonation. All that in only one evening!

    The only plus in all this is that they were vapourised, hopefully reducing the number of screw-ups they can participate in next week.

  • My personal plea to any CTU gunmen, crooked Sergeant, terrorist hencman, kid with knife... someone... anyone kill Chloe. Annoying character, annoying actor, and are they wanly trying to make her out as a sex symbol? ("You all dated me, but you have to get over it, the country needs you!"). *Gack!*
Let the 20 hour countdown re-commence!

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Did I Miss Out or Not?

Monday, January 08, 2007 | 3:39 pm

Last week, I contemplated picking up a handful of Apple shares, as primarily it pretty much the only company I actually pay attention to almost daily, and with MacWorld Expo kicking-off today the expectation is higher than normal for something special during the traditional Jobs keynote. Rumours have ranged from an Apple phone partnered with Cingular, to a pocket-PC Apple, to Jobs stepping down for a leave of absence. And we aren't just talking Mac fanboy rumours here, we are talking all sorts of "analysts" and established news outlets.

The Apple rumour mill is so bloody active though that if something rumoured to appear doesn't show up, people (and the markets) seem to feel disappointed, regardless of whether the product was ever mentioned by Apple or not (e.g. the "iPhone - never mentioned by Apple officially once, but expectation is almost reverential). Spooky to think how much an entire leg of our economy (i.e. markets) is based on rumour and perception.

In the end, I couldn't get an online trading account setup and funded fast enough to buy, so now it's just to mess with my head. If I had bought, AAPL would have been around $US84.55. Today after the keynote, we get to see how theoretically rich or poor I may have become - I'll add that in the comments, and if I am theoretically rich, I will buy you all a theoretical beer. Oh yeah, happy New Year all that... I resolved to get back into a little bit more blogging action. Nothing too crazy, just enough of an outlet to keep us all sane. This resolution is non-binding.