Black:  ravenblack.net | me | games | books | email | wishlist | rss
Blogs:  Angryblog | As Above | MonkyBlog | Nightshade | Journals
Blimey:  SomethingAwful | Advice
Archives: Last 4 Days | June2001 | July2001 | August2001 | September2001 | October2001 | November2001 | December2001 | January2002 | February2002 | March2002 | April2002 | May2002 | June2002 | July2002 | August2002 | September2002 | October2002 | November2002 | December2002 | January2003 | February2003 | March2003 | April2003 | May2003 | June2003 | July2003 | August2003 | September2003 | October2003 | November2003 | December2003 | January2004 | February2004 | March2004 | April2004 | May2004 | June2004 | July2004 | August2004 | September2004 | October2004 | November2004 | December2004 | January2005 | February2005 | March2005 | April2005 | May2005 | June2005 | July2005 | August2005 | September2005 | October2005 | November2005 | January2006 | February2006 | March2006 | April2006 | May2006 | June2006 | July2006 | August2006 | September2006 | October2006 | November2006 | December2006 | January2007 | February2007 | March2007 | April2007 | May2007 | June2007 | July2007 | August2007 | September2007 | October2007 | November2007 | December2007 | January2008 | February2008 | March2008 | April2008 | May2008 | June2008 | July2008 | August2008 | September2008 | October2008 | November2008 | December2008 | January2009 | March2009 | April2009 | May2009 | July2009 | August2009 | September2009 | February2010 | March2010 | June2010 | July2010 | August2010 | September2010 | October2010 | November2010 | December2010 | February2011 | March2011 | April2011 | May2011 | June2011 | July2011 | August2011 | September2011 | October2011 | December2011 | March2012 | April2012 | May2012 | September2012 | December2012 | March2013 | April2013 | May2013 | June2013 | October2021

Archive October 2003
Thursday 30 October 2003
It's time for yet another Why RedHat Sucks lecture! Just a short one this time. In order to use the "up2date" utility to patch software, you have to register an account with RedHat Networks, or something like that. I did so; you get a one week trial period of full functionality, then something happens unless you pay them.

I registered an account a week ago. I just got this in my email:
We are writing to inform you that the first 7 days of your demo service account have expired, and that your account is now a standard demo account. If you are unfamiliar with the functionality of a demo account, please visit the following URL:
So, wondering exactly how one could do partial functionality of such a system, I visited that URL. It redirected to another URL. The page looked pretty useless and unrelated. I searched it for the word 'demo', since I was, after all, trying to find out, at their direction, about the functionality of a 'demo account'. The word 'demo' did not appear anywhere on the page.

Good work, RedHat. Thanks very much. Now I'm familiar with the functionality of a demo account, thanks to the URL.

Perhaps they were using the email something like this: if you, my reader, are unfamiliar with the word 'ass-hat', please visit the following URL: http://completely.unrelated.url/nothing/to/do/with/ass-hat/ [19:07] [0 comments]
Ooh, this makes me cross.
What Is a Hacker?

The Jargon File contains a bunch of definitions of the term 'hacker', most having to do with technical adeptness and a delight in solving problems and overcoming limits. If you want to know how to become a hacker, though, only two are really relevant
The Jargon File talks absolute bollocks about the word hacker. It claims that using it as a synonym of cracker is deprecated. No it's bloody not, Mr Jargon File, it's common usage, quite the opposite. What you mean is you, like Mr How To Become A Hacker, want it to be deprecated because you want your precious word back, just like wiccans claim that witch means wiccan even though it's fucking obvious that common usage has it meaning the green evil warty cauldron broomstick variety. Claiming that the common usage is deprecated just gets those people you'd have call themselves hackers (or witches) into trouble when they do so in non-wanker company and are misunderstood.
There is a community, a shared culture, of expert programmers and networking wizards that traces its history back through decades to the first time-sharing minicomputers and the earliest ARPAnet experiments. The members of this culture originated the term 'hacker'. Hackers built the Internet.
...The term has since shifted into the popular perception with a different meaning, thanks to movies, so should no longer be used in its original manner if you wish to avoid causing possibly-dangerous confusion. (I skip a part of the document here)
The hacker mind-set is not confined to this software-hacker culture. There are people who apply the hacker attitude to other things, like electronics or music - actually, you can find it at the highest levels of any science or art. Software hackers recognize these kindred spirits elsewhere and may call them "hackers" too
No they fucking don't. They just fucking don't. Okay, I concede that maybe one 'software hacker', one named 'Mr How To Become A Hacker', calls non-computer people hackers, but nobody else does. What a load of absolute toss that claim is. (I skip another bit)
There is another group of people who loudly call themselves hackers, but aren't. These are people (mainly adolescent males) who get a kick out of breaking into computers and phreaking the phone system. Real hackers call these people 'crackers' and want nothing to do with them.
The general public and the media also call these people hackers, which means that's what the word means. Stop crying about it, let them have the word you whiny fucking pansy. "Mo-o-om, people who break into computers have stolen my word, make them give it back!" Here's a tip, chap - mom can't make them give the word back - language is a horribly democratic beast, and the people have cast their ephemeral votes to let the criminals have hacker. It's not yours any more. (I skip another bit)
Unfortunately, many journalists and writers have been fooled into using the word 'hacker' to describe crackers; this irritates real hackers no end.
It irritates real wankers no end. They haven't been fooled. Journalists and writers generally (except, say, yourself, and the Register's Orlowski) use words to get their points across to their audience, and the audience will understand 'hacker' to mean its real meaning, not its outdated meaning. More of them than would understand 'cracker' that way, since that's more commonly a biscuit or derogatory slang for white-folk.

Why must 'hackers' and 'witches' insist on fighting a losing, nay, lost battle for these words? 'Witches' already have a working alternative - they can call themselves wiccans, and be done with it. As for hackers - come up with a new word for yourselves, or use an old word that fits the bill. If you don't want it to just be computer-related, how about 'eccentric'? That has mostly the right connotations. How about 'maverick'? That's rarely used for anything else, and it's a pretty sweet word too. Or how about, as you even used in the damn description, 'wizard'? With genre-prefixes that's already pretty much understood to be what you want - "computer wizard", "programming wizard", etc. I'm sure it would be understood if you said someone was a "golf wizard", too.

If you wanted to be a bit more inventive, you could take a different old word that nobody uses any more, something with a vaguely appropriate meaning, and steal it. How about calling yourself a "phrenic"? It sounds like a noun, but until now, it isn't. You'll have a better chance of fighting for a word to mean what you want if you start with a word that isn't already in common usage meaning something else. [17:14] [3 comments]

Wednesday 29 October 2003
Ooh, bonus-points for Redhat 9 (also being responsible for my encounter with the lovely glibc version 'shit and annoying') for having broken permissions on /dev/null. Possibly a facet of my particular rented server rather than a default Redhat 9, but making it so ssh won't run properly is clearly a very clever alteration to standard procedure. A /dev/null that can't be pseudo-written-to by non-root users is obviously just what the magical computer doctor ordered, in that it will break even more things than removing backwards-compatibility from a base library. Woo! [12:53] [0 comments]
Open source is great because... when the glibc people decide to make a completely fucking stupid and arbitrary change to their code that completely fucks up code that's been working fine on many platforms for years such as everything of Bernstein's, you can fucking arse around for several hours fixing all the files that have been broken by that completely fucking stupid and arbitrary change and thus get the program to work. Whereas if the software was closed-source, it would be more likely that people would choose the difficult option of not updating to the fucking stupid backwards-incompatible version of the library, which would be bad because of a reason. Go open-source! Rah rah rah! [09:04] [1 comment]
A very well-written piece of Flash propaganda, Army Of One, from Take Back The Media, with an excellent choice of backing music. I'm not one to be convinced by propaganda in either direction, of course, but I can abstractly recognise whether propaganda is good or not, and this is one of the best I've seen. The one line that really broke it for me was "if we support the troops, why can't Bush?", in the wake of something about one and a half billion dollars. Which led me to ponder how much the 'we' actually do support the troops. If there was a checkbox on your tax forms that said "charge me an extra $6 to go to army people", how many people would check that? And of course, the fewer people who would check the box, the larger the amount would need to be - $6 would only cover it if everyone would pay. And that's to cover just one of the several large sums of money the propaganda suggests Bush is shorting the army people. I'm sure Bush abstractly supports the troops, just like most of the people who wouldn't send them money.

As always, let's have tax cuts and increase spending! On everything! Perhaps Credit Card China will increase the national credit limit!

Which allows me to seamlessly segue into pondering what would happen if the budget was actually democratic, with your tax forms including a "where do you want tax money to go" quiz - what services would collapse through underfunding, whether they'd come back to life the next year when people decide to fund them after all once they realise how necessary they are, and so forth. It'd be funny, if nothing else. [06:57] [8 comments]

Tuesday 28 October 2003
Pondering what might have brought on my silly feverishness, I joked to Holly "ooh, perhaps I have tetanus". The feverishness having begun a few hours after the easy-open fiasco sliced my finger, and I had a vague recollection of tetanus deriving from metallic cuts, and resulting in stiff muscles.

Once suggested, I was, of course, compelled to ask Doctor Google what the symptoms of tetanus are. Impressively, I had manifested every one of those symptoms, and mostly in the stated order, over the course of about 36 hours after the cut (and before I knew what the symptoms were supposed to be, so no, it wasn't psychological, thanks for the suggestion all you helpful people who always suggest that illness things are purely psychological).

On the up-side, "symptoms usually begin 8 days after the infection, but may range in onset from 3 days to 3 weeks." So I was terribly precocious on both symptom-manifestation and recovery if it was tetanus. More sensibly, but less entertainingly, the symptom-match is probably purely coincidental and I really got infected by going out. To a place. With people in it. [19:14] [0 comments]
Nobody wins the ten points. The reason ghosts eat "coco popth" for breakfast is because... it's a thereal. Yes, I realise this is a very very horrible pun and a worse joke, but have you seen the other jokes about what ghosts eat for breakfast?

On a possibly related note, I've had a very enjoyable fever for the last couple of days. A fairly minor all-over aching, dehydration regardless of liquid intake, and feeling cold regardless of my actually being ridiculously hot. Most enjoyable, though, was that even though it didn't hurt much or anything, it made doing stuff very difficult. Everything weighing too much, including, for example, my fingertips. As a result, I watched a lot of Batman: The Animated Series. Foolish amounts of sleep have largely dissipated the illness.

Easy-open cans. Bloody annoying cans, more like. I have never before cut myself opening a can, nor splattered any can-contents further than 'down the side of the can and onto the counter'. Now, through the power of the easy-open can, I can slice a nice gouge into the side of my finger and fling can-contents in a line from the top to the bottom of my shirt, using only about twice as much effort as I'd have used to open the can with a can-opener. Quick, introduce this technology to everything! I want 'easy open' doors, where instead of turning the handle and pushing or pulling the door (depending what side of it I'm on), there's a little ringpull on the floor right next to the door, with razorblades on its inner edges, that I have to pull hard enough to cut through to the bone, which then has a fifty percent random factor whereby it either breaks off leaving the door still closed or the door springs open towards me, hitting me in the head and crushing my recently-sliced finger beneath it. I want an 'easy-open' laptop-display, where instead of pushing a button in and raising the screen, I have to jam a screwdriver into the power outlet and bash my eyeball into the side of the laptop repeatedly. It's ergonomically terrific. [07:50] [4 comments]

Sunday 26 October 2003
Q. What do ghosts eat for breakfast?
A. Coco popth.

Ten points if you can figure out why. [03:34] [7 comments]

Tuesday 21 October 2003
A culinary experiment went horribly wrong, yesterday. Mashed potatoes. They're easy, but they take half an hour. And you have to chop things. Potato flakes make it easy, but our supermarket doesn't have potato flakes, only Instant Mash, which is all full of butter and crap instead of being just potato.

We recently purchased a food processor.

Chopping the potatoes thinner, when making mash, makes it a bit quicker.

Potato flakes turn into mash pretty much the instant you add boiling water.

It stands to reason, then, that chopping potatoes up really really small, as with, say, a food processor, will result in very very quick mashed potato - you'd just have to add a bit of boiling water to the mush, then bring it back to its boiling point since the potatoes own water would still be cold, yes?

So went the theory. The result was a sort of greenish-brown mashed potato that tasted half like raw potato and half like proper mash. The result a few hours later, however, was an object of pure genius - witness:
Potato Doom
As you can see, the greenish-brown tint has magically extracted itself from the potato-goo, and formed a delicious-looking swamp-thing on the surface. In fact, both colours still tasted like raw potato - the upper of skin, the lower of, er, the other part. So this method could function as a really convoluted and difficult way of getting the peel off potatoes, I suppose, if you prefer them that way. [09:58] [7 comments]

Monday 20 October 2003
I was going to write a blog entry something like this, but Holly wrote it first. The only noteworthy difference is that in my version, we wouldn't be yelling quotes from Macbeth, we'd just be yelling "AAAAAAAAAAAAAGH! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH! AAAAAAAAAGH!" [06:10] [4 comments]

Sunday 19 October 2003
We finally got around to getting a UPS for my desktop machine, because it had some power trouble before, and has been rebooting crazily recently. I installed "Commander Pro", a piece of UPS software that's supposed to work with this particular UPS's serial-port communication, for shutting down cleanly if there's a power-outage, and such. About ten hours later, a spooky-looking window popped up on the machine. I went over to see what it was.

Warning: UPS is normal.

Thanks, Commander Pro. What would I do without you? [18:22] [0 comments]

Wednesday 15 October 2003
For, ooh, about ten years or so, I've been occasionally grumbling "why does The One Game not get repeated?" or complaining about it not being brought out on video or DVD. About eight years ago, in days of yore, when newsgroups were more populous than the web, I inquired of a UK-television newsgroup as to whether anyone had it; one person had heard of it, an American local TV station person, who had purchased the rights from Carlton to show it on their station. Which didn't turn out to be any help in my quest to acquire it.

Cut to now, or a couple of days ago; Holly had a present for me when I woke up. No point in my prevaricating about what it was, of course, since you'll have guessed that by now - it was a banana. No, it was actually your first guess, a DVD of The One Game. You shouldn't have second-guessed yourself, should you? Why would it be a banana? You're silly.

And hoorah, it's very much as I remembered it - it's pretty much a bleaker version of The Game. If you've seen The Game, imagine it made by a small English director and producer instead of Hollywood, and you'll have a reasonable mental facsimile of The One Game. Characters with a bit more depth, enhanced malevolence, and that peculiar ability that English miniserieses have of containing many slow distance shots and other such unnecessities without being rendered painfully tedious.

Now I'm just waiting for the War of the Worlds series to DVDify. Well, that and Blake's 7, with its continuous much-lamented postponings. [20:29] [1 comment]

Tuesday 14 October 2003
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is a little disappointing. Not because it's a bad game - it's not, it's an excellent game - but because I had heard lots of good things about it, and it really just feels pretty much the same as Grand Theft Auto 3 plus motorbikes, and with different missions. The motorbikes are a lot of fun, but they seem more like they were rudely omitted from GTA3 rather than having been added to Vice City.

That said, I don't really know what I was expecting in the way of improvement - it was a great game before and it's a great game now. The only 'improvement' that springs to mind, one which I'm glad they didn't do, is more realism. That's a mistake many game creators make, and it's a stab-worthy one. The unreality is where the fun comes from.

There are a few other small additions which, like the motorbikes, feel mostly like things that should have been there before. The police use those roll-out sheets of nails now, and, correspondingly, you can shoot car tyres to knacker their handling. You can now shoot the driver of a car without destroying the car. You can jump out of moving vehicles, now, which is definitely an improvement. But mostly, it's just Grand Theft Auto 3 again. Which is probably for the best - I'd doubtless have worse things to say about it if it were otherwise. [22:00] [10 comments]

Monday 13 October 2003
A lengthy ponderous post about archery, opening with, of course, a brief rant.

You'd think people who regularly teach an activity would get to know the common problems and the solutions thereto, wouldn't you? I'm pretty sure "bowstring catching the elbow" is a common problem. The teachy-people's proposed solution to this is "rotate your elbow".

It's now time for a bit of audience participation.

Make a fist with your left hand. Hold it out in front of you as though you've just slammed it down on a table (or slam it down on a table, if you like). Note how your elbow joint is angled such that if you bend it, your arm moves upwards. Now, without rotating your hand, and with your hand not on any surface, rotate your elbow so that the direction of flex is inwards rather than upwards. Can you do it? Probably, with a little difficulty. That's because rotate your elbow is not the right way to fix the problem - it's treating the symptom instead of the cause.

Start again. This time, hold your palm out in front of you, fingers pointing upwards and palm forwards, as if you're pushing something. Now your elbow's pointing the right way. If you like, bizarrely, you can now rotate your hand to the fist you had before, and the joint will probably remain where you want it.

Alternatively, from the "fist with the elbow wrong" position, punch your chest then swing the arm back - the joint will probably stay the way around you want it. Flex it up and down in the 'slam on desk' motion and it'll be wrong again. What fun! Have another go at just rotating the joint without making one of these motions. Elbows are freaky, aren't they?

Another piece of common archery motion is the mediterranean-style draw. Archery coaches must grow very tired of saying "elbow up and back". I don't think it's a problem with the coaches this time, but rather an aspect of the draw itself.

It's audience-participation time again!

Get the three central fingers of your right hand such that they're curved and aligned vertically (as they would be if you were holding a bowstring ready to pull). Retaining that hand-position, and with the imaginary string tension pulling 'away' from you (so the fingers have to stay pointing in the direction they are), move that index finger so it touches the point of your chin. Did your elbow go up and back? Probably not unless you're a regular archer, and even if it did it probably felt quite unnatural.

Now for the eastern-style thumb draw; hold your hand out flat, palm-down, with the thumb touching the bottom-most knuckle of the index finger. Again, keep the hand aligned like that (flat, fingers pointing away from you), and bring the thumb-knuckle up to touch the point of your chin. Did your elbow go up and back? Probably, and if it didn't then the motion probably felt quite unnatural, and possibly sprained your wrist.

And for a final point of analysis, western orthodox archery mounts the arrow on the left side of the bow (if you're right-handed). This is obligatory with most recurve bows since they have a cut-away section on that side. I can see advantages to this, even without the cut-away; the trajectory of the arrow will be aligned more similarly to how your eye aligns to the bow, and if you're shooting parallel to yourself, the string is travelling slightly away from your body, rather than catching on your clothing. But it's a pain in the arse to mount the arrow - you have the bow held out in your left hand, and you pick up an arrow with your right hand. Now you have to position that arrow such that its body is on the left side of your bow, and its tail is on the string. Basically this means either putting it 'through' the bow (which seems like a bad idea, likely to hit the fletchings against the string), or 'over' the bow (pointing it upwards while you pass the back of the bow, then swinging it down into the intended alignment), before nocking it onto the string. Some eastern alternatives mount the arrow on the right side, which has a fairly clear fast-nocking advantage, in that you can be settling the arrow onto the string at the same time as setting it against the bow.

This led me to wonder - in the Lord of the Rings movie, when Legolas is pulling his rapid-fire trick, how does he mount the arrows? This site of pictures perhaps holds the answer - in its bottom-most picture, which looks more like a hectic scene than any other, he has an arrow mounted on the right of the bow. Anyone with the DVD want to confirm my theory? Interestingly, higher up, above the caption "Oh, just look at the concentration in his little face!", he has an arrow mounted on the left. Also interesting, though in a completely different way, that it's nocked on completely the wrong part of the string - that arrow's going straight into the ground. I wouldn't trust my nose to that stance, either. He also apparently changes bow-hand sometimes.

Don't worry, I won't be posting archery blather all the time. I'll limit myself to no more than one a week. But this wasn't just archery blather - it had movies, it had audience participation, and it had elbows behaving badly! [11:55] [7 comments]

Saturday 11 October 2003
Oooh, or one of these: a 727 Airplane Home. Link won't be valid from old archives, since it's an ebay auction - foolishly, the presentation there is multiples nicer than their presentation on their own site. [21:21] [0 comments]
Islands off the coast (or in rivers or lakes) of Scotland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are surprisingly cheap. Some, with residences on, could quite easily and reasonably be got for under $100000 per couple, with a few couples sharing one huge residence and a few having separate cottages. Presumably the reason for this surprising cheapness is that most people need to be able to live somewhere where they can earn money, and islands aren't conducive to employment. But surely there are enough people who are independently wealthy who want such things? Maybe not. Maybe it's only the low-income dreamers like me who want to have an island to ourselves (possibly shared with friends).

On a related note, I don't want an ordinary house. Houses are boring and never shaped how I want them to be, and all their sockets are poorly arranged, and such. Hence, I want a house built for me... Or perhaps I want to Build my own house, possibly underground. Or a mix of that and overseeing contractors for the tricky bits.

Still, interesting that you can get a 300-acre island for about the same price as a flat in central London. Must get one of these eventually. Or soon... Soon, and for the rest of your life.

Incidentally, why don't people build homes in a very lazy way, such as, to pick an example at random from my head, buying a few second-hand semi-trailers, and burying them side-by-side to form an instant waterproof underground house, requiring only the fairly simple additional of plumbing, electrics, and ventilation? Presumably it's the same insanity that has people paying $20000 extra for a house if it has a big square of weeds that require constant tedious annoying maintenance. [21:01] [2 comments]

Friday 10 October 2003
I downloaded the demo of the game Tron 2.0, last night. Cue rant! Why must every game made these days be a bloody First Person Shooter? Sure, Tron also has a nod, a decapitated nod, to the light-cycle, but where's the tank-driving? Where's the flying of one of those leggy thingies? How about a subgame involving messing with circuitry a-la Purple Saturn Day's? No wait, I've got a better idea! Let's make it exactly the same as Quake, only with shitty graphics that look like a movie from the 80's!

The light-cycles bit is almost fun, but then they go and shove tall buildings on the grid so that you can't see where you're about to turn. If I want a 50% chance of losing every few minutes, I'll toss a coin. That could perhaps be redeemed if they'd bound the FPS 'lean left' and 'lean right' keys to be 'camera from the right' and 'camera from the left' as temporary things, enabling you to see around the corner before it's an issue, but they didn't, and it's crappy and annoying. I'd rather play a light-cycles game where the cycles are just single pixels, and the view is top-down. It may look crappy, but it's a lot more fun.

The FPS part, too, was almost fun. They have you wielding the Tron disc, with which you can deflect other disc attacks, as well as throwing it, arcing it, and bouncing it off walls. Supposedly. That's completely ruined, however, by the enemies often using non-disc weapons (such that you can't deflect them, and such that trying to deflect anything is liable to get you killed and is thus pointless), and by the disc's bouncing back, rather than proper angle-of-incidence behaviour, half the time. And by the arcing capability being pretty much imperceptible. In effect, it becomes the crappy energy pistol from Unreal 2. The game would be an order of magnitude more fun if the disc were implemented properly, and the viewpoint were made third-person in the style of MDK or Tomb Raider. That way, dodging and deflection would be feasible and visually appealing, and the game actually would be different. Though I'd still be annoyed by the lack of usable tanks and flying things.

As it is, the demo is more than enough. I find it difficult to imagine anyone playing the demo and going on to purchase the full game. [08:30] [3 comments]

Wednesday 8 October 2003
Grarh. My moneys, most of which are in American dollars, are becoming worth gradually less to me, because the US dollar is declining relative to the Australian. This is likely to accelerate, since people are apparently converting their currency into metal (gold, platinum, etc.), fearing the collapse of the US dollar, and simultaneously accelerating it. I'm tempted to jump on this bandwagon, through the power of e-gold; the transfer fees wouldn't have ruled it out for me, but their outrageous 1% annual drain does.

The practical alternative would be to move to another currency. That, too, has its impractical side; I can very easily convert to Sterling, Canadian dollars, Euros or Yen, but two of these seem likely to follow the dollar and the others would require another conversion to be useful to me. With a bit more effort I could convert to Australian dollars, but I'm not yet sure of my immigration capability, which again means potential double-fees and awkwardness.

There's the option of stocks, but most of those are intimately tied to the American economy, which is what I'm trying to get away from in the first place. Current intent is to hope the US dollar doesn't collapse too quickly, and convert to Australian dollars if-and-when I stabilise here. Anyone got a better idea? [18:03] [7 comments]

Monday 6 October 2003
Knowing my proclivity for consuming comestibles that frighten other people, Holly purchased for me a bottle of chilli cordial. That's right, it's a chilli-based drink-concentrate. The bottle promises that it won't, in fact, explode your head (when diluted properly), but rather has a kick similar to that of proper ginger beer - or, as it's known in America, Supa Hot XXX Jamaican Style Ginger Beer X-treme.

With some trepidation, I prepared some of the concoction in a glass. It smells mildly like chilli. The taste? Well, the bottle wasn't lying, it does have a kick similar to that of proper ginger beer. That's all it has. There is no taste at all, it's like water with the kick of ginger beer. The only purpose that springs to mind for such a substance is to add it to pale American ginger beer to transform it into X-treme Ninja Jinja Beer. [08:46] [11 comments]

Sunday 5 October 2003
A couple of movie reviews; Charlie's Angels 2, accurately described at IMDB, was a horrible monster. Very much what I expected; the earlier Charlie's Angels was quite fun, with quite a bit of nice self-mocking humour, jocular action and classic genre outrageous technology. CA2 has sequel-mocking 'humour', the exact same jocular action, and a painful lack of the expected outrageous technology. Not an eyeprint, not a computer zooming in (and enhancing) a camera image, no robot bee-cameras, nothing. Just some motorbikes and cars. The plot of the first at least held together; the plot of this one just didn't seem to exist. As a fine example of how the plot binds together from beginning to end, Dylan falls in love with the lovely bad guy from CA1, kisses him, and then three seconds later he gets stabbed and dies. Twenty seconds max for this entire 'subplot'. There is no point in the plot that is connected to any other point more distant on its timescale than that, so it's an ideal movie to watch if you're the chap from Memento.

The other movie watched today was Subspecies, which is essentially an Enid Blyton story; "Five Go To Vampire Town". There's a very self-evident George character, around whom the others very easily fall into Famous Five roles, even though the three main characters are all female. There's Anne, the quiet one who doesn't seem to serve any purpose, and the other girl is Dick, who runs up stairs immediately after being told that the stairs are weak and rotting. Julian shows up later, in the guise of a very sensible vampire who immediately falls in secret love with George. Timmy, presumably, died before this story, since dogs have shorter lifespans than lesbians. Starring a Marilyn Manson lookalike as the evil vampire, and a Unix guru as the inexplicable beardy vampire slayer. [22:22] [0 comments]
There's a shampoo commercial here which tries to make males inclined to preen, by having sports personalities endorse the shampoo. The concept backfires rather, with one of the football players looking in the locker of the other, and saying about the shampoo, "What's this? Jeez you're a pretty-boy." And then ruffling the hair of the other.

I propose this superior script:
"What's this? Shampoo? You big fuckin' poof. I'm 'ard me. I wash my hair with bricks."
"Er, that's not mine. I use napalm concentrate."
We then cut to a split-screen of the two men showering, both looking shifty then getting the shampoo brand out from a secret panel. If the ad is supposed to appeal to a homosexual audience, we can then remove the screen-split line revealing that they're actually sharing a shower, and they can laugh together. Brac Shampoo - It's Better Than Bricks.

Oh yeah, and Israel attacked Syria, but that's clearly not as interesting as homophobic shampoo. [17:07] [0 comments]
Mmmm, shooty goodness. No, I haven't been possessed by Kitiara, I've just finally got around to finding an archery place and taking it up again. Or rather, I'm finally in a town (and country) where there is a convenient and reasonable archery place, and thus have taken it up again.

It's like shooting with guns, except you don't have to buy ammunition more than once, and it doesn't make a lot of noise, and it's more like exercise, and the people are all nice, and it's not in America. Though given the other exceptions, I suppose 'not in America' is redundant. [08:44] [0 comments]

Friday 3 October 2003
A thought I had about social security. People who have little trouble finding employment, and even some of those who have significant trouble, find social security a repugnant idea. That part of the money you earn is mandatorily going to support other people who aren't working - it's easy to see why this is offensive. Combine that with minimum wage, and you get, understandably, people suggesting that the minimum wage be repealed, and then those people who are getting your tax money can earn for themselves, from those employers who can't afford to hire people at minimum wage.

Which brings me around to my point - is that really what would happen? First, if unemployed people stop getting money to live on, you get people who are suddenly very desperate to find employment. Then, if minimum wage is repealed, you have people who are suddenly desperate to find employment and employers who can take their pick of the most desperate people. Do you think, under those circumstances, your hypothetical $25000 job would be safe? Your employer now has the option of firing you and hiring two-and-a-half $10000 people, who may not be as good, but they're probably willing to work hard, stupid hours to keep the jobs. Even if you are better than two and a half hard-working people, do you think your employer would recognise it? Even if they're not hypothetically firing you, I'd warrant many employers would be offering pay-cuts as the alternative.

Which brings me to my conclusion - paying for other people's unemployment is effectively paying for your own job security, and, in a way, paying to maintain your own high wages. Suddenly it doesn't seem so offensive any more.

Now you can focus your annoyance somewhere more deserving, such as military spending, or, if you don't have children, how much you're paying for the education of other people's screeching spawn. [12:09] [14 comments]

Tuesday 30 September 2003
I just looked at some of the extra bits on the first Monkey DVD; it includes advertisements for other DVDs from the same company. Amongst the many such entries is Blake's 7. They certainly cater to a very 'me' audience. Or rather, don't cater, since the Monkey box-set was cancelled and the Blake's 7 DVD set, which is currently expected to be released in April 2004, was, according to the advertisement, released in Autumn 2002.

Anyway, I went poking around various DVD-selling sites in an attempt to determine the current Blake's 7 release status, and decided to rate a few things while I was at Amazon, to see what it would recommend today. I was highly amused to be told, upon my rating of five stars for the first Monkey DVD, that I would like The Matrix: Reloaded. Let us compare:
  • Dodgy dialogue: Check.
  • Terrible over-acting: Check.
  • Shitty special effects: Check.
  • Outrageous costumes: Check.
  • Characters flying around foolishly: Check.
  • Over-explained plot: Check.
  • Complete lack of zebras: Check.
So why is it that I like Monkey and don't like The Matrix: Reloaded?

It's the theme song. [12:25] [0 comments]