The Pencil Guy: Hourann's illogical blog

A few random interesting things

Tuesday 12 December 2006 at 9:05 pm

Here’s a bunch of things that I’ve been meaning to post about. Sadly I haven’t gotten around to coalescing any of them into an entire post … but a nerdy announcement will follow shortly!

[Awesome dress artwork made of condoms! Creative Commons licence does not apply to this image.]

  • These dresses made from reject condoms are awesome and were a great way to commemorate World AIDS Day, although I somehow doubt they’d be much fun to wear …
  • Yesterday’s news that the PM wants to go ahead with an “Australian values” and English-language test for new citizens comes as no surprise in the wake of Pauline Hanson’s amazing comeback to politics (I see it lasting till election day, and no further).
    But they can hardly claim fair consultation, considering that the public comment period only closed three weeks ago (and this is DIMA, do recall). Even though the discussion paper that supposedly asked “should we have such a test?” was almost entirely focussed on what should be in the test rather than whether or not it should exist, this is still kinda disappointing.
  • It was announced last Friday that the ASEAN Summit scheduled for this week in the Philippines has been postponed until January, although most of the ministerial meetings have still gone ahead. This mildly annoys me, primarily because the East Asia Summit is held as part of the ASEAN Summit, so I’ll have to wait even longer to see if my bold and unsubstantiated claims will hold true! Speaking of unsubstantiated claims, the official reason for the delay is Typhoon Seniang (aka Utor), but I wonder if there’s any connection to the controversy in recent months about delays in finishing Cebu’s new convention centre, for which the ASEAN Summit was supposed to be the grand opening event. (Incidentally, this explanation strikes me as a better one than the claim that terrorism is somehow to blame.)
  • Speaking of my thesis, this comic reminds me so much of what life was like for me barely a few weeks ago!
  • Checking out the photos (and rather intriguing stories) in Wired about the upcoming Large Hadron Collider (soon to be the world’s biggest and most expensive particle accelerator) has me realising that all those “physics lab” environments in the Half-Life games weren’t as made-up as I thought they were …
  • It’s more than a week since daylight saving started in WA, and aside from the weird way in which my cat seems to have adapted to it, I haven’t mentioned that the fix for DST in Linux (via new zone files) didn’t quite work for me. This is probably just an Ubuntu thing, but I had to reset my clock and force a reload of the time zone data by running tzconfig followed by hwclock --localtime and hwclock --systohc (all as root).
  • Here is a random piece of comment spam that appeared on this blog recently:

    I just got my 2000t and all of my songs are skipping in iTunes, and I cant figure out why. If someone could help me out and tell me how to fix this I would really appreciate it because its driving me crazy. Thanks for the replys.

    It was on a post I’d made about iTunes, so I didn’t initially think it was spam, but it’s so vague (and off-topic) that it couldn’t have been real. And sure enough, if you type it into Google you get a bunch of other blogs where they’ve mentioned the word “iTunes” and had this in the comments. Is this a new type of comment spam — some vague attempt to be almost relevant?

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When a full post is just too hard

Tuesday 21 November 2006 at 10:03 pm
[Leaders at APEC 2006; note that Creative Commons licence does not apply to this image]

Here are some random and slightly political thoughts:

  • Last weekend’s APEC meeting confirms the argument from my thesis (first suggested to me by Dennis, and seconded by a Lowy Institute paper) that this institution is going nowhere fast. There’s the annual photo of leaders in funny costumes (wonder what they’ll wear in Sydney next year?) and an opportunity to discuss regional issues, but beyond that there’s little real work happening towards the supposed goals of trade facilitation and liberalisation … just more vague promises for an unattainable 21-country free trade area.
  • I’m unsurprised by today’s daylight savings vote, but still disappointed in the whole “let’s start in a week!” thing. And, WTF Matt Birney, since when has WA not been the “lifestyle State”?
  • I was always a cautious supporter of nuclear power in the past (though I’ve sometimes been swayed by my old-school greenie friends). And I’m inclined to trust the work of the committee that just reported, based on the qualifications of its members, even though I don’t trust Ziggy Switkowski after his work (if you can call it that!) at Telstra. However, I’m not sure that nuclear power is so very ideal for Australia as they claim, given our relatively small energy needs compared to, say, China or the US. But I’ve not read the report, and I don’t know how honest the PM was when he asked for an “open debate” …
  • Last Friday was the closing date for submissions to the Immigration Department review that, from my reading of their discussion paper, has probably been told “you will recommend an Australian Values ™ test for new citizens”. Oh, sorry, I mean, they’re carefully reviewing the options (but just happened to think about the content of a potential test in great, great detail). Anyway, my submission is here.
  • Ridiculous media circus #1: so Kim Beazley mixed up someone’s name last week. I do that several times a day. Sheesh …
  • Ridiculous media circus #2: no, Tony Bullimore shouldn’t pay if he were ever rescued again. Not only is it international convention, but fer cryin’ out loud, it’s not like those navy ships would otherwise be sitting in port with their crews all downing some beer. The navy goes on training exercises, kids, which cost money — sometimes even more money than rescues at sea.
  • Finally, my sidebar has a new addition: Houses and Motions, the funniest take on Hansard that I’ve ever encountered. Kudos to Tim, Cameron, and Trent — this is gold.

A few observations …

Monday 25 September 2006 at 9:21 pm

… now that I’ve finally finished (w00t!) my first thesis draft. Well, mostly. Almost all of it. Okay so maybe it’s not quite there yet, but anyway.

  • Happy Ramadan, which starts today. In the current climate of fear and distrust, it would be nice if there was some acknowledgement of this fact in the mainstream Western-world media :-(
  • Speaking of Muslims (ahem, all migrants, but of course we really just care about Muslims): you know the kerfuffle in the media about a possible citizenship test for new Australians? This is actually in response to a discussion paper that is open for public comment until 17 November. I encourage you to say something!
  • Like many other nerds, I’ve been eagerly following word from the blog of the latest space tourist, Anousheh Ansari (she of X-Prize fame). Aside from the whole geeky millionaire going into space thing, it strikes me as interesting that many of the American reports about her, such as the press release from her old uni, seem to bring up how she came to America with (almost) nothing and built a life and fortune for herself. “Never mind that she’s Iranian, she followed the great American way, so she’s one of us now!”
  • Last week the State Government announced new railcars for what will be the Clarkson — Mandurah line, adding on to the batch that the same supplier has just finished delivering. Finally, some acknowledgement that there’s a capacity problem on the northern line — and also that the current number of trains is hardly ideal for servicing a 107km route!
  • Speaking of the State Government: last week they introduced an amendment bill to bring some sense to our horridly restrictive liquor licensing laws. I’ve not yet read it but it seems to be a significant step forward, albeit still far short of fixing problems like the silly noise complaint rules. It remains to be seen if it’ll pass the upper house, but amazingly, there’s actually a website created by a bunch of Perthonalities trying to drum up support for the changes in a petition. (Amusingly, they’re running Joomla and previously had comment-spam problems; now they’re being bitten by escaped quotes in comments.)
  • And concluding with other public transport related matters: I’ve posted a few times about SmartRider, which will be the first deployed system of its kind in the country, and the PTA’s dude-in-a-suit marketing tricks for it. (The ERG readers in both Melbourne and Sydney speak RFID, but are only used by some travellers, notably most Sydney school kids.)
    It turns out that SmartRider Man pales in comparison next to the flashy website and converted truck “discovery centre” set up for myki, Melbourne’s forthcoming answer to SmartRider (or should that be “Metcard 2.0”?) … which should be an entertaining budget-burner!
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