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Archive August 2004
Saturday 28 August 2004
A train of thought inspired by someone being smug and self-righteous in someone else's Livejournal comments - the subject is so-called 'sweatshops'. Why don't they sell sweat? What's with that? No, don't worry, I haven't turned into Seinfeld, that's not the point of the post.

The suggestion of smug self-righteous people is that we should all boycott companies which use 'sweatshop' labour. The generally suggested reason for this suggestion is that the suggester cares about the poor little children being made to perform unpleasant labour in abominable conditions for a pittance of a payment.

My question is this: what would happen to those poor little children if everyone suddenly did boycott all companies that pay for their work?

It's a rhetorical question. The most likely answer, as far as I can see, is that the sweatshop factories close down, the sweatshop workers are made unemployed, and they go home and starve to death along with their families. All very humanitarian. The only other possibility is that the companies somehow take the boycotting to not mean "stop using sweatshop labour" but rather "pay more for the sweatshop labour". Because, y'know, the companies are only evil because they're underpaying so atrociously. There are three things wrong with that: 1. almost none of the boycotting protesters suggests this as an ideal outcome, 2. the companies certainly won't get that idea from boycotts, and 3. even if they did pay more, the factory owners in the third-world country would take that money and the labourers wouldn't even know anything had changed. Also, if the wage were raised to anything approaching first-world wages, the company no longer has any incentive to outsource the labour (since doing so adds shipping costs and so forth), so they'll move the jobs back home and again the factory will close down and the poor little children will starve. Indeed, the only argument I can see for boycotting such companies is not a humanitarian "poor little children" argument, but rather a patriotic "bring the low-paying jobs back to our country" argument.

So, as I see it, we have the following points in favour of buying sweatshop-laboured items:
  • Provides poor little third-world children with a much-needed pittance. It may only be cents a day, but remember, the economies in those countries are such that you can live on that wage - if you couldn't, they would have starved already.
  • Your products are cheap! You save money and children in one easy purchase!
And the points against:
  • Takes away jobs from poor locals in your own first-world country, who would love to be employed stitching shoes together for a pittance. Really they would.
  • Sometimes the products are a bit shoddy in comparison to more expensive products that are manufactured by American companies. Because American manufacture is better. Really it is.
[18:08] [11 comments]


Thursday 26 August 2004
The trailer for the almost-certainly-never-to-be-made movie Grayson is fantastic. It's here. Watch it if you can spare the bandwidth and can be bothered to unzip a foolishly large Quicktime file. [16:17] [3 comments]


Wednesday 25 August 2004
Take the OKCupid Programmer Test, made by me. It's a bit harsh, but it has to be to have any chance of separating programmers at the high end using only 15 short questions. I am, of course, 100% programmer, since I made the test. Meanly, the test doesn't show you the units you're being measured in, which is Programmatrons. [08:46] [3 comments]


Saturday 21 August 2004
READS BLOG, AND LEAVES

Ah, inept grammar nazis, where would we be without you?

There is a lovely article by one Jennifer Garrett, despairing of blog punctuation. Helpfully telling people to capitalise properly, as if these people didn't know what the rule is. People know the rules, they just don't care that they look less competent than they might - no amount of explaining the rules will change that. Thankfully, this also applies to other rules that Jennifer has pulled out of her arse to 'explain'.
There are two reasons to use an ellipsis: Use an ellipsis to indicate words omitted from a direct quote or to trail off intriguingly.
How about use a comma to disambuate that sentence? How about, after a list-indicating colon, writing a list rather than repeating the bit of text from just before the colon and going on to write a poorly-constructed sentence from it?
If you don't know whether or not to use a colon, a semicolon, or a dash, cut that sentence down! Brevity is the source of wit, after all.
And hypocrisy is the wellspring of advice, eh? A dash or a fullstop would've gone down well in that ellipsis quote, in place of that colon, though you'd still be wanting that missing comma or the rewrite. And on the subject of the ellipsis quotation and hypocrisy, is this following ellipsis from Jennifer's blog indicating words omitted, or is it trailing off intriguingly?
So, on the whole, I really can't complain. I just kind of ... want to.
Mind, I'm not saying that she should only use an ellipsis for the reasons she recommends - I'm just pointing out the hypocrisy of her advice. As far as I'm concerned, her actual use of an ellipsis cited here is a perfectly good one, and the advice is what's at fault. I would even go so far as to say that an ellipsis shouldn't be used to indicate words omitted, except enclosed in square brackets, and that they definitely shouldn't be used to trail off 'intriguingly', because that's fucking annoying. It's not intriguing. It's pathetic. It's passive-aggressive behaviour translated to text. It is, I reiterate, fucking annoying.

Jen just doesn't seem like someone who should be giving advice on how to blog, grammatical or otherwise. Look upon her works and despair. Read blog (but not too much), and leave.

Her article did, however, link to The New Yorker shredding Lynne Truss, which is quite entertaining. There are a few of their complaints that I disagree with, but on the whole their picking seems well justified. I particularly enjoy their suggestion that "it's hard to fend off the suspicion that the whole thing might be a hoax." I often find myself doing the same sort of thing. It's painful to have to convince oneself that no, the writer really is as bad as they make themself out to be.

What did I disagree with? Their complaint that the comma in "Naturally we become timid about making our insights known, in such inhospitable conditions" is unwarranted. The comma, in my opinion, makes the meaning of the sentence less ambiguous. That's not to suggest I think it was well-written - just that removing the comma would make it worse, and that rearranging the sentence entirely would be a better solution.

The other thing, which I disagreed with more strongly (though I can understand their position as newspaper editors), is their complaint that "sometimes, phrases such as “of course” are set off by commas; sometimes, they are not." I don't think this is incorrect behaviour. In my opinion, there are two distinct usages of "of course", and the comma distinguishes which one is being used. One is insistent ("of course I am correct"), and the other is stating the obvious ("of course, I am correct"). I don't think a writer should be limited to just one of these implementations.

Credit to Kevan for the phrase "reads blog, and leaves" and several_bees for digging up the ellipsis hypocrisy amongst other things. [15:23] [5 comments]


Thursday 19 August 2004
Apparently, bees can carry about half their weight. The mass of a bee is about half a gram. So it's implied that a bee can carry about a quarter of a gram, or, and this is the important part, that four bees correctly harnessed can carry one gram, and hence four thousand bees can carry a kilogram.

A person weighs about 60kg, which means that it only takes a quarter of a million bees acting in unison to carry a person.

Now, 80 million bees plus honey is apparently worth about $10,000, which implies that, in the worst-case scenario of the honey being worthless, a million bees costs only about $125 - that's enough bees to carry four fairly light people, or two fatties.

And yet people still buy cars. [12:01] [9 comments]


Tuesday 17 August 2004
A fantastic zombie movie idea, inspired by the fact that Necropolis is filming partially in Chernobyl. A multi-part zombie movie, not sequels or prequels but, er, simulquels, set and filmed in different parts of the world. Same zombie infection, different cultural reactions. The parts would be released in their own country first, then cycle round so that British people can watch Japanese zombies, Americans can watch Australian zombies, and so forth, until all the parts have been released in all the locations.

Each should be filmed by local directors, such that the British one would tend to be a bit bleak and washed out, like a gritty police drama, with ambient background humour, the American one would be a festival of special effects and explosions, and the Australian one would feature strange camera angles and probably one of the heroes being blind and in a wheelchair. The Japanese one would simply be weird (and have kung fu and/or gun fu), the German one would be bizarrely partially animated, and the French one would be boring and would involve people talking a lot, and you'd never even see a zombie in it. The unifying theme is that the zombies themselves must not be culturally affected - they all behave the same way, regardless of their culture when alive. There's a moral in that somewhere, too, but the directors are forbidden from making any explicit reference to it.

In addition to the directorial style being presented as part of the movie, the stereotypes of the countries (only the stereotypes the people of the country themself recognise) would feature strongly. The British one would probably have to end similarly to Shaun of the Dead, whose ending I probably shouldn't give away since Americans haven't seen it yet. The American one would end with the magical American army defeating the zombies by the power of true grit and big guns. The Australian one would end with the populace deciding that actually being zombies would be pretty cool, you'd never have to work again or anything, so they turn themselves into zombies deliberately. And maybe the Japanese summon Godzilla to sort the zombies out for them. [07:14] [7 comments]


Saturday 14 August 2004
A rather impressive music video that was on Rage last night; Faithless' "I Want More" (high|low quality download, from the Faithless flash-filled site). You can't get eight professional ballet dancers to be half as synchronised as these hundreds of North Korean children (and adults). An amusing set of scenes to be set to dance music - surely anyone who has seen this video will be too embarrassed to dance to the music in public. Unless they can do somersaults 20 feet in the air, and have several friends who can also do so in perfect synchrony. Then again, I'd expect people to be too embarrassed to dance to dance music ever, simply because people in clubs can't dance.

On a related note, SDP Receiver is a nice free program for downloading and saving streaming content, instead of wasting bandwidth all over the place by downloading it every time you want to watch. They also document the protocols, though unfortunately they haven't released protocol libraries.

And on an unrelated note, the cartoon series Cybersix is rather good. Its animation style is like a cross between Batman: The Animated Series and generic anime in a Vampire Hunter D sort of range. The plot coherency is also such a cross. The only word to describe such a thing, which isn't really a word but does have to be said, is Batmanime. If you want to see it, suprnova may be your friend.

And on an even less related note, Roulette Chocolate is a great idea. But tsk, no dark chocolate version. And if they're only ordinary chillis then they're for wusses. You need at least serranos for this sort of thing, if not habaneros. Or, since it's replacing praline filling, wasabe paste would be rather good. That way you'd get a delicious treat or extremely cleared sinuses - it's win-win! [07:54] [0 comments]


Thursday 12 August 2004
Who decided that the acronym RFC, standing for "Request for Comment", was a good name for both "detailed description of a protocol" and "arbitrary rule that you must obey when using a protocol even though it in no way affects functionality and is stupid"? Is it really a request for comment? Do they want me to email them and say "your arbitrary rule in RFC78432 (note: number made up) is stupid"? No, they don't. So why don't they call it an ARTIS or something instead? This grumble brought to you by the fact of someone blacklisting my domain because I *gasp* had a CNAME referenced in my MX records! Which *gasp* causes no problems at all with any mailserver that anyone uses! What a bastard I am! Mind, I don't object to the blacklisting, since the blacklist has its reasons clearly stated - I object to anyone using such a blacklisting service to determine whether to reject email.

Somewhat amusingly, the person whose server rejected my email included in their message to me "paypal is hating me atm. I have done almost everything I can but for some reason it doesnt like my email address." Guess what the reason is? Yes, using the stupid blacklist. Stupid blacklist also doesn't have any sort of automated "my RFC non-compliance is repaired, check and remove me" system, which is very poor. Maybe I should make an RFC of rules that blacklists should follow, and then blacklist their blacklist for non-compliance with the "have an automated removal procedure for any blacklisting reasons that are easily checked by an automated system" rule.

In other news, The Chronicles of Riddick is rubbish, if for no other reason than the trailer having him saying "I Am The Monster", and the movie not having this line in it anywhere. That shouldn't be allowed. Time to make a movie that's just a black screen and silence for two hours, and use a remix of explosions and nudity from other movies as the trailer. Apart from that, the movie was entertaining enough, really, but the disappointment of his not Being The Monster renders the movie annoying. [04:02] [1 comment]


Saturday 7 August 2004
On TV here tonight is something called The Brain Is The Sexiest Organ. This led me to wonder whether maybe there were people somewhere in the world who have sex with a brain, like American Pie's sex with a pie. Who better to ask than Google?

There are 15 results for "sex with a brain", some of whose truncated text is quite amusing out of context. "This is sex with a brain, which is something all too rare." We can add 4 to this number from the search for "sex with brain". Several of them had the phrase "sex with a brain wave". What does that mean? Anyone?

It doesn't seem likely, with such low numbers, that the brain is the sexiest organ after all. So I tried some others. "Sex with a spleen", at least, is less popular than with a brain, with only one hit. "Sex with a heart scores 46, plus 128 for "sex with heart", so already the brain is not the sexiest organ. Liver loses to the brain, however, with a combined score of 6, and kidney with a mere 2.

The head-mounted organs do much better. Sex with an eye scores 724 and 144 for its two searches, which also offer by far the most amusing of the truncated texts. "Scientists look at sex with an eye for reproduction". Ears aren't so hot with only 3 points. Mouths, on the other head, score 547 plus 260, plus the bonus points for tongue, 520 plus 227. Noses also do surprisingly well, with 52 and 2.

Then we get to the more obvious body parts that are likely to be considered sexy. Breasts and tits score 2960 plus 597 plus 579 plus a gargantuan 86100. Vaginas and pussies score 649 plus 835 plus 582 plus 2950. Ass, arse and butt score 2390 plus 717 plus 43 plus 1040 plus 565. Penis and cock score 2490 plus 1180 plus 3300 plus 1240.

Thus I conclude that the brain is not the sexiest organ, and that, instead, the tit is. The brain is perhaps the sexiest organ after breasts, penises, vaginas, arses, tongues, mouths, eyes, noses and hearts, though. I also conclude that my hits from Google are likely to go up quite a lot as a result of this post. [12:57] [5 comments]


Friday 6 August 2004
Annoying News: It's a classic case of religious discrimination.

It's not. Not unless you mean 'classic' in the same way that Plan 9 From Outer Space is a classic.
"Did you ever sign to or agree to anything that said I will not eat pork?"
"Never. When I got hired there, they said we don't care what religion you are."
(Actual genuine quote ends)
"But did they say they don't care what smelly substances you bring into the workplace?"
"But... religion!"
"I didn't ask you about religion, I asked you about pork, which is not a religion. Shut up you stupid person."
Workplaces are allowed to have arbitrary rules that don't discriminate against a religion. "You must wear a suit" is an arbitrary rule. "You must not eat pork in the lunchroom" is an arbitrary rule. Religion could validly be kept out of the argument entirely, using this analogy, unless the woman's religion says that she must eat pork, which it doesn't. They knew she was catholic; they fired her for eating pork. That's not religious discrimination. She was warned about a behaviour, she repeated the offending behaviour, she was fired. That's normal company activity.

Having looked at it from a non-religious angle, how about looking at it from a religious angle - the workplace is legally obliged to not discriminate based on religious, and, to some degree, to accommodate the religions of its employees. The only way a workplace can accommodate the religions of its employees is if everyone who works there accommodates the religions of the employees. The woman was offending the religions of other employees by eating pork in the lunchroom, and was asked to desist. She did so again, and was fired. The workplace was obliged to do so, in order to keep the workplace comfortable for those employees who are Islamic. It would be religious discrimination against the woman if her religion mandated that she must eat pork in the workplace lunchroom, but it doesn't.

"They're making it seem that if you don't follow a certain set of religious practices and beliefs then you're going to be terminated and that's wrong."
Yes indeed that statement is wrong, Mr Nejame. They are not making it seem that you have to follow a set of religious practices. They are making it seem like you have to not offend the other people you work with. Similarly, if you did a huge steaming crap in the lunchroom, you would be reprimanded for it. If you did it again, you would be fired for it. Similarly, there is nothing in the contract that says "I will not do a huge steaming crap in the lunchroom". Similarly, it's not fucking religious discrimination. And even if it were, it most certainly isn't a "classic case". [22:18] [6 comments]


Thursday 5 August 2004
An amusing video-making person, brought to my attention by, er, them posting one of their videos in a Livejournal board-games community: nohfirth_wulfe. Especially enjoyable is his Real World Final Fantasy Adventure, consisting of combat with a washing machine. Also fun, and the one that brought me to the others, is the tale of corruption in Mr Pennybags' world, Monopolice. Less good, but with amusingly done 'special effects', is Hate The Sims. You'll need something that can play .wmv files, for which Windows users should be fine, but Lunix people might have more trouble. [14:37] [0 comments]
I wouldn't normally blog a dream, but when it's so fantastically insane I think it's worth it.

I was at a party, being hosted by a real-world person who, for the sake of pretend anonymity while actually completely disclosing her identity, I'll call Paven Pamask. There were about 30 people at the party. I, as is my way with parties, had retreated to a room where there weren't other people and was proceeding to almost fall asleep on a convenient bed. While there I couldn't help but read various bits of writing that were near my face, mostly being addresses on some envelopes. I realise this sounds boring but it's plot relevant information.

There was a distressed noise from the main bedroom. I rushed to see what the problem was (where 'rushed' is more 'slowly and irritatedly stumbled'). It was Paven, being unnerved by red writing which had appeared on her bed, underneath the sheets, which said in large letters "CASPER HERE". While at first glance one might assume mysteriously appearing red writing to be blood, on inspection it seemed to be either lipstick or really thick red felt-tip pen.

She thought this was a message from a ghost. Apparently the apartment (it was a new apartment, presumably the party was a housewarming) was the Casper apartment, so if not a ghost it was the house communicating. "Don't be stupid," I told her, "it's one of your stupid friends having a stupid practical joke. Look."

I dragged her to the room where I had been before, and pointed at the envelopes I'd been inadvertently reading before - one of them was on Casper headed notepaper. Based on this I suspected a specific hairier-faced-than-average one of the friends present of being responsible. Since Paven was still being freaked out, I decided on a practical solution - I got all the party-goers to gather in one room, and asked them "okay, there's writing on the bed - which of you did it?" Two guests, mind, were notably absent, one of them being beyond suspicion and the other being the prime suspect. Nobody owned up, so Paven ended up even more convinced it was something supernatural.

She went back to the bed, anyway, having decided pretty much to ignore it. Some time later, she summoned me to the room again - more writing had appeared on the bed, beneath the previous writing and still beneath the sheets. "I'M SORRY, I'LL MAKE THEM STOP". She or I had been in the room at all times so nobody had any opportunity to have written it, so she was more convinced than ever that it was a ghost. I, however, was more concerned with the semantics of the text - "I'll make them stop" suggested that even if there had been a ghost, someone else did the writing on its behalf. Which implied it hadn't been a ghost at all, but rather one of Paven's insane split-personality friends. "Okay," I asked her, "how many of your friends here have stupid split personalities?"

"All of them."

"No, I mean real split personalities."

"Oh, then only... (counts on her fingers several times) 22!"

I sighed. This was going to be a lot of work.

Then I woke up, with my head in a kitchen cupboard, stuffing hundreds of nuts in my mouth. I pulled my head out of the cupboard and turned around, and it was revealed to be half human, half mixed nuts. "IT WAS ME!" I screamed, "I AM THE VAMPIRE NUT!" [02:14] [2 comments]


Wednesday 4 August 2004
Now for something completely different - a movie review! Wild Zero being the movie. "Trash and chaossss!!!!" according to the box.

I think one of the IMDB reviewers says it best, with "best japanese-punk-rock-zombie-alien-gay-love-story ever". I'm inclined to disagree with the reviewer who suggests "I think this movie might set the world record for amount of exploding heads". Even my head has exploded more often than heads in the movie. It's far from an exploding-head-fest. Sure, it has exploding heads, but it's no Scanners. The heads don't even explode of their own accord. You don't have to shoot my head with a gun to make it explode, so I'm more fun than this movie in that respect.

Tobio
The quite pretty missing half of the gay love story
That's not to say the movie isn't fun. It starts out a bit slow, up until the middle of the mexican stand-off, which could also be described as "the point at which the first head explodes". Then it catches up with what should be happening, as zombies and aliens start to be introduced to the story, pleasingly inexplicably. It also introduces the quite pretty missing half of the gay love story, a female arms dealer who we later see naked in the shower shooting at zombies, a couple who argue incessantly and seem to hate each other but later find true love as zombies, and ... well, by then we've already had Guitar Wolf introduced as the spirit of Rock'n'Roll, and an evil club manager who manages to be exceedingly creepy, mostly by wearing very short very tight shorts.

The zombies are very blue, and very stumbling, the way zombies should be. None of this knees-bent running-about malarkey we see from zombies nowadays thanks to 28 Days Later and new Dawn of the Dead, but proper arms-outstretched legs-straight stumbling, and even falling over. That's how I like my zombies. Also blue.

As for the aliens... Well, we never actually see any aliens, but there are lots of alien spaceships which fly around over the town going mostly unremarked until the evil club manager shoots a couple of them with his newly electrically charged eyeballs, and Guitar Wolf leaps onto a rooftop to destroy the mothership with a Guitar Sword. I'm not making this up.

The twin moral of the story is that "Love has no boundaries, nationalities or gender" and "Rock'n'Roll has no boundaries, nationalities or gender". Presumably a corrolary to this, but unstated in the movie, is that Rock'n'Roll is love. Or vice-versa.

Edit: I forgot to mention that the movie contains a song with the lyrics "roaring blood, blood blood blood, exploding blood", and also forgot to mention the conversation between four of the characters when they realise they're up against zombies, which goes something like "oh, so these are zombies." "Like in that movie." "I haven't seen it." "I don't watch that sort of movie." "What?!" "Well I haven't seen that one." "I'd have watched it if I'd known this was going to happen." Which makes a nice change from the usual zombie movie quirk of everybody inexplicably not knowing that you smash zombies' heads. [08:08] [1 comment]


Tuesday 3 August 2004
A bit of thought on game plot design, brought to you by my playing the two parts of Ultima 7 (Black Gate and Serpent Isle) consecutively.

The plot of Black Gate is conceptually quite fun, but in execution really quite boring and annoying. It's essentially following a murder mystery model. You arrive on the scene of a crime, and spend the rest of the game investigating things and hunting things. What this means in practice is that you spend the rest of the game wandering around semi-randomly trying to stumble upon useful clues. You have an overall goal, and you spend the game trying to find the path that leads to that goal. There are some irrelevant side-plots, which are fun but essentially pointless, and some plot-advancing side-plots which are necessary and essentially might as well be linear (though you can probably do them in a different order, and this is marginally more interesting than if they were purely linear).

Serpent Isle, on the other hand, foists a plot upon you from the very beginning. You start out with a goal to head towards, but the instant you start heading towards that goal you get impediments. Your companions disappear and all your equipment gets magically scattered and needs to be recovered - you have clues as to where each item is, in the form of what it was replaced with. One of your companions turns out to be in jail, and to get him out you have to become a knight. In becoming a knight you get poisoned, and thus have to go and find the ingredients for the antidote. At any one time there are several minor goals you can be trying to achieve, all of which are steps towards putting you back on the path to the overall goal. Unlike in Black Gate, there is no reason ever to be wandering randomly looking for a clue.

I think the game-design lesson I take from this is that building problems upwards is more interesting than building problems downwards. Black Gate goes "here is a goal that's really far away. Here are some other things you have to do to reach that goal. Here are some other things you have to do in order to do those things." Serpent Isle goes "here is a goal that's really far away. But here's a problem that you have, right here, right now! And here's another one. And here's another one that you have to deal with to resolve that one." The problems are immediate, which means the solutions are apparent and nearby (though not necessarily simple). If you build the problems "top down" like Black Gate, you leave the player stumbling around looking for the problems they're supposed to be dealing with, rather than looking for solutions to the problems that have been dealt to them. Looking for problems doesn't make for a fun game.

Of course, it's harder to make a coherent whole from a "bottom up" plot, since making the impediments themselves lead the player gradually to the destination is harder than adding impediments in the way on a path which already leads to the destination. But I think it's worth it - not just because it's more fun, but also because it makes for a more compelling plot. A story in which someone goes to a place, does something, and wins (with some problems along the way) is not as good as a story in which someone who doesn't really know where they are going or what it is they are dealing with ends up foiling the bad-guy precisely because the bad-guy, in trying to stop them, leads them to their goal.

If you have (access to) the Ultima 7 data files, you can play the games on a modern machine, Windows or Linux, using the Exult engine, because it won't run playably on modern machines otherwise. I preferred Ultima 4 and 5, myself, though.

Quick, a movie review! Batman - Mystery of the Batwoman is alright. Essentially just a long episode of the Batman animated series though. [19:34] [1 comment]


Monday 2 August 2004
Throwing paper at bins is fun. Probably more fun when you have a normal pointing device rather than a trackpad, though.

I am now fully recognised as being me by CAcert, which means I can create relatively useful SSL certificates and have some good solid signatures on my PGP key, and can also assign 35 assurance points to others (50 are needed for your own magical certificate power). Points only available to people I know personally, or people willing to come to my house with proper ID to claim their points at a time of my convenience (and to arrange this with me in advance). I doubt there's more than a few people I know who'd want certificate power anyway.

And the now-almost-obligatory terse movie review - Catwoman isn't actually the 35th worst movie of all time, no matter what IMDB says. That's not to say it's good, of course. It's about as good as that dodgy Birds of Prey TV series that was fairly recent. Worth changing the channel for if the TV's already on, but not worth turning the TV on for. Certainly not worth renting or lifting a heavy object to see. [12:57] [0 comments]


Sunday 1 August 2004
A few days ago I read a short story "The Inheritors" by G.M. Glaskin, in a book "The Zeitgeist Machine" (short stories selected by Damien Broderick). The book's quite good, but that's not why I'm writing about it. The story is about evil carnivorous sheep taking over Australia, and (implied) later the world, in a Day of the Triffids sort of way.

Now BBC News tells us Crafty Sheep conquer cattle grids. It's the beginning of the invasion, I tell you. A spokeswoman for the National Sheep Association said "Sheep are quite intelligent creatures and have more brainpower than people are willing to give them credit for." Spokeswoman? Spokes-ewe more like. For the NSA! The secret talking-to-reporters-and-invading-things branch of Sheep government.

"What we really need is more fencing to stop them." - oh sure, mere swordplay against those vicious endlessly chewing jaws. We're doomed!

"They must find more tastier morsels down here." - more tastier mortals more like. They're eating your children and then erasing your memory. "But I don't have children," you say, and that just proves my point.

"Several drivers have had to swerve to avoid hitting the animals and damaged their cars or been given a terrible shock." - that's one of the sheeply rules - if you don't damage your car, we'll bring out the electric sheep. Now they're not just for androids to dream about.

I for one welcome our new woolly masters. [10:21] [2 comments]