Mixed Messages

Why can’t everyone be more like me? I’m rational (mostly), somewhat intelligent, and simply ooze good taste. Surely I make a good template for everyone else.
It seems that no-one has ever told anyone what everyone should know. And do.
Some things happen automatically. Like when I talk to you in English, you reply in English. Not German. Not French. And certainly not in Mandarin, even if it is spoken by nearly half the world’s population.
So why do people have so much trouble with this concept in the modern media?

When it comes to organising events, I speak Outlook invite. Now whatever you may think of Microsoft, in Outlook they have made a great tool for managing events and people’s attendance thereat. If there should be an issue understanding the invite “dialect”, then surely the obvious response is to revert to the mother tongue – email.

Sure there always has been and probably always will be those that just don’t respond, simply because they are the centre of the Universe. We work with these. They require our special attention until the whitecoats catch up with them.

But what is it that prompts others to respond via SMS, phone call, or, shock horror, in person. Maybe a couple of decades ago I might have been capable of keeping all that information in my head, but now…
Give me Outlook, please.


Girl on Girl: Grunters vs Screamers

Tonight we will be treated to a real spectacle. Good old girl on girl action. There is guaranteed to be a lot of grunting and screaming, so this begs the question: do you go for the grunter or the screamer?

I am of course referring to the Australian Open Tennis match between Maria Sharapova (aka The Screamer) and Serena Williams (aka The Grunter). No matter what the scoreline, our ears will be the winners. That is, if you are in to loud, animalistic screeching endlessly for the duration of the match.

Whatever else these two women have done for tennis, they will both be remembered for the near constant stream of struggle they make us all endure. Instead of watching the tennis we listen to it. Unfortunately, for me at least, it is not a pretty thing. Although I am not averse to girl on girl action, and am rather partial to the odd grunt and scream, I will be watching this particular show with the sound off.

Cereal Killer

So often these days, one is confronted by signs of how well mankind can design almost anything within an inch of its life. For example, how is the iPhone and iPad put together – where did those seams and screws go? Why is it that items seem to work well until they are about a week or so outside of warranty? Now that is incredible design skill! And how the hell does that damn pesky Rubik’s cube work?

Quite frankly, someone, somewhere, will come up with a way to do almost anything. The problem is that they are destroying a major niche for us men. Who these days can just study something for a minute or two, figure out how it works and how it is put together, and then deftly disassemble it, fix it, and put it back together looking as good as new? All before lunch!

Devices are just too intricate and trickily designed these days. As a result women have a reducing need and desire for us men. At least those of us that have already resigned ourselves to being completely useless when it comes to household repairs.

Perhaps this is the modern face of evolution. Maybe as the world rushes headlong to its highly technical future, women, not predators, will become nature’s mechanism to select out the weaker gene pool members who can’t quickly disassemble and fix that wonderful new turbo charged, inverter driven, single shell vibrator she just bought yesterday, before she loses the urge.

However bleak that future may look, there is still one bastion of design luddite-ness that steadfastly refuses to move with the times. In fact, it seems to be moving in reverse!

Who else can remember, when young, deftly slipping a thumb under the flap and lifting open the new breakfast cereal packet with scarcely a scar to the box, and then for an encore easily separating the plastic seal inside? But who can do that now!

These days, opening the cereal packet by hand necessitates the mass destruction of the box. If one then tries to open the plastic bag inside by hand, one quickly finds they are in need of the help of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Once Arnie is on the job the packet opens all too easily. But not along the seal mind you. Rather, anywhere else, suddenly disgorging your entire tasty breakfast cereal cargo to the floor.

In this day of designer everything, it is hard to believe that it happens by accident! Perhaps its true that we are better off eating the box; after all, that’s what we’re left with.


A Chip Off The “O” Block

[modified from the original, Published on Aug 11th, 2012]

The Olympics is a good time for many, especially physios, chiros, and doctors. It seems that during this period many of us become victims of a strange disease which we think imbues us with super powers and we like to put them to the test.

Its not just us mere mortals, however, even the big multinationals can fall victim to this phenomenon. The latest bout of super silliness seems to be leaving many a few chips short of a snack.

From what I have been reading, MacDonalds, as a major sponsor to the Olympics, is claiming first and only dibs on the Olympic chip race. It seems that Ye Olde Fish and Chip shop is not able to sell only chips because MacDonalds is the official chip maker of the games.

This is weird on several levels:
a). Chips are normally bought from Fish and chips vendors
b). Chips, as far as I am aware, were actually a British invention, and have assumed the status of an institution
c). MacDonalds doesn’t actually sell chips. They sell FRENCH fries.
(I bet the French must be sniggering at the British over having pulled off one of the worlds most outrageous Olympic ambush marketing escapades ever!)

There was probably a time when the Olympics was about sport, but if so, it has long gone, along with good sense and reason.

Get Nicked Arcy

[modified from the original, published on May 14th 2012]

I don’t know if anyone else has been reading about Nick D’Arcy, but I find the whole situation appalling. The inclusion of D’Arcy in the Australian Olympic team is unbelievably disgraceful.

From what I have read and heard he has a history of violence, the latest is not just a once off. That is bad enough, in my opinion, to refuse to include him in the Australian Olympic team. But if you are not yet convinced, there is the added insult of not paying his just deserts in compensation for the damage he has done to his victim(s).

He has used legal trickery to avoid paying damages and making fair, court ordered restitution. Is this the act of someone who is truly contrite? Is this the act of someone who embraces the values of the Olympic movement? No. This is the sort of act by a person which the concept of “bringing the Australian Olympic Team into disrepute” was designed to filter out.

If he is so destitute, where did the money for his legal defence come from? Where does the money for all his training and travel come from? Where did the money for his PR tutoring come from? Oh yes, you only have to listen to him to realise he must have had a lot of advice and practice on what to say and how to say it.

This is a person desperate to cover over his sins, not by making reparations according to the court orders, and then moving forward; but by trying to avoid that responsibility and using PR firms to attempt to smoothe his public image.

If it is true that his father has been footing the bills for his sins, then why shouldn’t he continue to do so to set the record straight and pay the rightful damages. I’m sure that if there had been a mia culpa up front, the money he has spent on lawyers fees would have covered the reparations instead. More, the public would have realised his dues had been paid and would probably support his inclusion in the team, letting bygones be bygones.

As things stand, if Nick D’Arcy remains in the Australian Olympic Team, I for one, will not be watching ANY of the swimming events.

Blog-Time, Now!

Well, if you have been reading this blog, you may have noticed that the posts so far all say they were previously published.

That is because I was experimenting with blogging using another facility and having decided to switch to WordPress I figured I would start off by copying all the old posts but schedule them to appear one each day for a week.

This has uncovered an issue with timing. I am in Australia (oops, is that too much info for a public post?). However the WordPress server obviously is not, because the new posts do not appear until later in the day here. I guess that WordPress’ servers are in the USA and use USA time info.

That makes them out of date by the time they get here.

Users of Outlook in countries with Daylight Saving (or Summertime etc) are used to being screwed over each time shift, but really, what is it with IT and timezones. How hard can it be to allow each blog to use its own timezone, or any timezone that it wishes. There is no synchronising to be done here, its just a setting.

These days a blogger might be in the Galapagos Islands writing about the migration of the Amazon soldier ants for a Greenland market and want the blog to be current as for the prime audience. Especially when it comes to scheduled posts.

Come on WordPress (and IT World in general). We may be skin flints using free services, but you can do better than this!


A Fair Go? – Guaranteed! (A Rant)

[modified from the original, published March 12th, 2012]

I have just had the wonderful privilege of being a guarantor on a friend’s application for passport renewal. Now while it is very important that getting a passport occurs within a very strict security framework, I must rant about some aspects on the guarantor’s page of the form. If it is representative of the rest of the form then it really needs to be reworked.

Firstly, the page starts off stating who can become a guarantor. The person must:

5) – be able to satisfy and complete either A or B below, and sign the declaration

8) – possess a current (unexpired) Australian passport that was issued with at least 2 years validity, or be on the Electoral Roll (as an unrestricted Australian Electoral Roll registration, at your current address for the past 12 months)

The issue here is that point 8 just spells out what is stated in point 5 (ie repeats what is stated in A and B below), so one of these two points is redundant.

Then we get to A and B – Proof of Identity (guarantor). Here is the normal admin schmozzle.

If choosing to use your passport as proof of identity you need to enter the date of expiry. Only there is a conversion required because in the passport it is presented as dd/MMM/yyyy (eg 27 Aug 2019), but on the application form you have to enter it as dd/mm/yyyy (eg 27/08/2019).

If choosing to use the Electoral Roll as your proof of identity you must enter everything as shown on the Electoral Roll (ie no conversions). However my details do not show up in the on-line roll and so I guess they don’t for many people.

Lastly, one is required to specify how long one has known the applicant – specifying both years and months. This followed by the signature section in which it states; “It is a criminal offence to make misleading statements”.

Now none of the above is a biggy per se, but one needs to remember that this form is processed in an environment of extreme pedantry. For example one friend was refused because the form had been filled out with an ink that was not black enough ( or maybe blue enough – whatever). And then refused again for what seemed a similarly trivial issue.

Where accuracy is paramount, rely only on human copying without the conversions – people will always make mistakes. Only computers can do error free conversions reliably.

And what’s with the months requirement in the time of having known each other. This might be achievable if we’ve known each other for just a small number of years, but if you’ve known someone for quite a few years, even getting the years right is very error prone. With populations being so mobile these days, many relationships can’t be pegged to things like being in the same class at school. And who can check it anyway…

Passport applications need accurate details and precision for our security, but c’mon Aussie – we can do better than this.

Being Done By Numbers (A Rant)

[modified from the original, published March 10th, 2012]

OK – I now feel I have to say something. I have recently read a whole lot on a web site about how humans are not affecting climate.

Whenever Teams of scientists go into battle against each other, we the public, are the loser. I say this because if there ever was anyone completely incompetent to judge multifaceted, complicated scientific arguments comprising incomplete and inconsistent data, across many different scientific disciplines, it is, well, pretty much everyone! And in the case of climate change, I really do include even the most genius endowed scientists in that as well.

That doesn’t mean we are completely helpless. But it does mean that we need to know when we are having a job done on us. Typically a tip off that it is happening is when the perpetrator uses emotive words or tones instead of dull boring facts, and where the questions or statements put are set up to make you feel that the answer or its implication is blindingly obvious and you are an idiot for not being sure.

In the case of an article on the web site here are a couple of examples:

1) What percentage of the atmosphere do you think is CO2?

The Correct Answer: CO2 is less than a mere four 100ths of 1%! (as copied from the article) – ie the implication is that CO2 comprises such a small proportion of the atmosphere that it can’t possibly be important. They even go on later in the explanation to that answer to say:

“Also, the vast bulk of the population have very little knowledge of science so they find it impossible to make judgements about even basic scientific issues let alone ones as complex as climate. This makes it easy for those with agendas to deceive us by using emotive statements rather than facts.” [excuse me but didn’t they just do that themselves? … Oh, I get it, they are OK because they use emotive words (and punctuation) as well as, rather than instead of, facts.]

This attitude is further revealed by the next question …

2) What % of CO2 do humans produce?

The Correct Answer: Nature produces nearly all of it. Humans produce only 3%. As a decimal it is a miniscule 0.001% of the air. All of mankind produces only one molecule of CO2 in around every 90,000 air molecules! Yes, that’s all. (as copied from the article)

Again the implication that because it is such a small amount it is insignificant – also the emotive overlay.

Lets see how insignificant 0.001% of the air might or might not be by comparison to another component of the atmosphere that there is less controversy about.

The gas I am thinking of takes up only 0.000007% of the atmosphere and possibly a lot less than that. Hence there is at least ~5500 times less of it than CO2. This gas can be dangerous to life, but we would not be here as we are now without its existence. I am referring to Ozone.

The point is that all the huffing and puffing about the quantities of CO2, even without the emotive overlay, is completely irrelevant because it tells us NOTHING!

It tells us nothing because we simply don’t know what is too much and what is too little. Without this added information, the absolute amount carries no information.

To state or imply that the amount of CO2 is too small a quantity to make any difference, with no basis for comparison, is a blatant attempt at manipulation (agenda pushing), as there is evidence that other gasses can be very significant at much much lower concentrations.

The important outtake of this is that for almost all of us it is impossible to judge when scientific titans clash. And to recap and modify an earlier statement: “This makes it easy for those with agendas to deceive us by using emotive statements rather than AND facts.

There are other issues with the article on that web site and I may mention them in a later blog.

Ciao for now,