Thursday, November 22, 2007

Always Being Right

I am right-handed. Exclusively so.

I am slightly envious of people who are left-handed. Most of them seem to be able to work with either hand, and a lot of them seem to be more talented than us regular righties. They are clearly over-represented in sport and the arts. I mean one-half of The Beatles were left-handed, and clearly one-half of the population is not left-handed.

[That's great statistics, isn't it? One sample point used to support my theory. Worthy of being in politics.]

But what annoys me most about being right-handed, is the fact that I am right-eared as well. I have never been able to use my left ear for phone calls. When I am forced to take notes whilst talking on the telephone, I have to do either the juggle-to-the-left-and-back thing, or the squeeze-hard-with-right-shoulder thing. When I am trying to tune my guitar or trombone, I automatically bend or swivel so that my right ear can more easily hear the note I am tuning to. I noticed this last weekend at a gig.

I'm going to be even more annoyed if I start closing my left eye to read things, aren't I?

Stupid Filter

I have started working as a moderator on the Stupid Filter Project. This project aims to produce an open-source software product that is capable of filtering out "stupid" comments.

By "moderating" I rate random snatches of written comments on a stupidity scale of 1 to 5. These comments are sentences - that is the ones that can be described as sentences - that have appeared as commentary on various websites. YouTube for instance, is a common one.

Now, it is possible that I simply don't spend enough time on the web and am therefore not exposed enough to it. Or possibly that I have some sort of internal filter that automatically ignores rubbish. Or maybe it is just that I am too old. Regardless, I have been absolutely floored by the amount of sheer idiocy that exists out there. Granted, it is possible that some of the correspondents do not speak English as their first language. But a significant portion of the comments do not even qualify as English. In a 160-character SMS it is reasonable to use shortcuts and abbreviations to save space, but on the web all it costs is a extra couple of seconds worth of keystroke. Some people are more happy devoting those extra keystrokes adding letters where they were never intended to be.

Maybe I am getting old. Or perhaps that should be:

"U R soooooo OLDDDD!!"

Friday, November 16, 2007

Struth Part 5 : The Prequel to My Favourite Joke

[The fifth in a series of commentaries from my old website.]

Hans, the famous Australian adventurer had decided that the next feat he would attempt was to be a solo crossing of the Simpson desert on camel-back. He did all his research and moved to Alice Springs to complete his preparations. He discovered that it takes six days to travel on camel-back from east to west with your average speed of a camel. The best thing, he thought, was to get a camel that could actually travel a lot faster than your average camel. So he asked around and eventually was told of "Marvellous Matt's Camel Mart," who specialised in unusual camel's.

So he took his mate (and Support Team Leader) Bill down to Marvellous Matt's Camel Mart and asked Matt for the fastest came he had. Matt had one camel that moved twice as fast as the normal camel (and of course, cost twice as much). Matt took Hans and Bill to see the camel. They went down the back of the lot and sure enough, there was this ratty-looking camel munching on some grass.

"Doesn't look much to me," says Hans.

"No, I admit he doesn't," says Matt, "But I can assure you he is the fastest camel in Australia. You've just got to treat him right."

"And what would that involve?" asked Hans.

Matt leans over and picks up a pair of house bricks that just happen to be lying on the ground. He enters the corral and walks towards the camel. "What you have to do, " demonstrates Matt, "is to grab a brick in each hand and smash the camel's testicles between the two bricks. Then the camel will take off like a rocket." Matt quickly moves behind the camel and smashes the bricks together on the poor animal's testicles. The camel rears up and takes off like a rocket, running at blinding speed around the corral. The three men retreat.

Hans is a bit taken aback by this direct method, and asks Matt, "Gee, that looks a bit dangerous. Doesn't it hurt?"

Matt replies, "Only if you get your thumbs caught between the bricks."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Struth Part 4: The Mal Partridge Theory of Joke-Telling

[The fourth in a series of commentaries from my old website. This theory is easily
ten years old now.]

And NOT the Mal Partridge Theory of Telling Jokes.

Mr. Malcolm James Partridge is a little-known Australian philosopher (remember Rule Number One?) and he has formulated a theory of joke-telling which has received some degree of fame. Sadly, this hasn't yet hit the internet.

Since Malcolm is a good friend of mine, I have taken the liberty of debuting his theory and its corollary on the internet. It is high time.


A joke will get funnier and funnier in the retelling to a male, in an inverse proportion to the amount it gets funnier to a female. For example, a retold joke that doubles in apparent funniness to a bloke, will be exactly half as funny when retold to a woman. This applies if and only if the joke increases in apparent funniness to men. Said joke is referred to as a joke of funniness potential increasing (FPI). FPI need not be linear. There is no corresponding funniness potential decreasing.


There is a corollary that states that a retold joke of FPI can be contracted with each retelling, so that the whole joke can be represented by a paragraph, a sentence, a phrase, and in extreme cases, by a single word, with the same results as if the whole joke were told.

Translating German

Every day I receive in my in-box a "Word Of The Day" email from a translation services company ( Sometimes what turns up is amusing or interesting. This one, which falls into the latter category, was there this morning:

German: Ja. Gut, dann kauf' ich alle drei. Ja.
English: Yes. Well, then I'll buy all three. Okay.

I just like the use of the the word "Ja". Two different meanings in the one phrase. Cool.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Struth Part 3: Charities that solicit in the street

[The third in a series of commentaries from my old website. I can't recall when this was written.]

Look. I have given to charities in the past and will do so again. I will NOT give to any charity that tries to solicit me in the street.

[Churlish bastard, wasn't I?]

Has anyone else also noticed how aggressive the charity workers are becoming? I saw in Mount St, North Sydney recently one man pursue two female Japanese tourists. They had to run to get away from the man, and they appeared scared.

I have thought of a way of dealing with them, though, particularly in Mount St. Mall. If I (and possibly about 500 of my friends) write to the store owners in the Mall, saying that I will not shop in their store because of the people soliciting in the street, then maybe the store-owners will approach North Sydney Council and get them moved on.

It probably won't work, though. They'll only just move somewhere else.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Seeing red

Some pushbike riders are undoubtedly a law unto themselves. They use the law when it suits them and ignore it when it doesn't. Being myself of a minority road-using group -- I am a motorcyclist -- I am sensitive to generalisations and prejudices and clearly do not want to be one of those tar-everyone-with-the-same-brush -type persons. But struth! SOME pushbiker riders are absolute idiots!

This morning while waiting in the car at a set of lights, we watched in fascinated horror as a cyclist ran a red light at high speed and very narrowly missed a schoolboy crossing legally at the pedestrian crossing. Both the boy and the cyclist had to swerve violently to avoid what would've been a very nasty collision. We had the green light, and waited patiently, though in some shock, for the boy to cross in front of us, turned and followed the cyclist down the road.

As we caught him up and were approaching the next intersection, Alison, sensing my mood bless her, asked if I would like the window wound down so I could hurl abuse at the cyclist. An amazing piece of mind-reading. Of course I assented. When we reached the intersection, we were turning off, and he was travelling ahead, and once again, instead of waiting at the red light, he started advancing through it. So I yelled out the window, "Another red light, you bloody idiot?!"

He heard.

While I am an avid anti-regulationist, after seeing this incident, I wondered whether some type of mechanism or control needs to be put on cyclists to make them obey the laws of the road when they are using it. Perhaps a road-rules examination?

I guess the answer to this is that regardless of what controls are in place, a bloody idiot will still behave like a bloody idiot.

[I should perhaps point out that the first draft of this post had the words "bloody idiot" throughout, which I've since replaced with "cyclist". Does my self-censorship have any bounds, I wonder?]

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Struth Part 2 : North Sydney Post Office

[The second in a series of commentaries from my old website. This was written in the Sep/Oct 2004 timeframe.]

The very first time I went into North Sydney Post
Office to pick up a parcel as a North Sydney resident I waited,
clutching my parcel voucher patiently in line for at least 10 minutes.
When I got to the head of the queue, the woman calmly told me that I
didn't need to wait, there is a separate parcels office.

"How was I to know this? Why isn't there a sign up somewhere saying this?"

"There is. On the wall outside the parcels office."

"Presumably I wouldn't have seen the sign unless I previously knew the parcels office existed, and it's location, though."

<grumble><swearword /></grumble>