(Inspired by Chekhov’s Elements Most Often Found in Novels, Short Stories, Etc and, naturally, by Pratchett’s Discworld)
Discworld, geology and geography thereof. Usually at the beginning.
Death the Grim Reaper, Death the Cat Lover, death.
Going right through and out the other side.
Things that you know where you are with.
Consequences of uttering the word “monkey” in the presence of an orangutang.
Things that happen to other people.
News like <insert the protagonist’s name here> spreading fast.
Topologically impossible description of Ankh-Morpork’s foundation.
Quantum as a default explanation of everything (or, at least, of anything that the author didn’t care to explain humorously).
Darkness that is more than simple absence of light; silence that is not just mere absence of sounds.
Running, more often from than to.
Laws that are just guidelines.
Wheels rolling out of wreckage.
** Often the funniest part
Browsing Sydney Morning Herald I found this job ad:
It looks like something from another life or another country. The ad explicitly says that the shift is full 8 hours every one of which will make a lucky employee $2.92 better off. This “opportunity” prompts a lot of questions.
Firstly, is it legal? FairWork Ombudsman says that a minimum wage is $15.96 per hour.
Secondly, who will bother to apply if dole is $33 a day?
Thirdly, how one can survive on this money if pensioners are struggling on twice that amount?
And finally, what is an inexperienced forklift operator paid? Not that I want to apply though.
It was a brilliant idea to put advertisement boards across the tracks on train stations. Bored commuters waiting for their trains would read anything for the sake of entertainment. So did I today and was rewarded with a view of a designer’s gaffe. I don’t think that the guy on the ad actually sports a womens shirt. It is much more likely that the designer simply flipped the image unwittingly changing the sexual orientation of that garment. I wonder if MIT marketing team overlooked this blunder or they simply didn’t care…
A friend of mine, John, once scolded his son Tony for something and, by way of punishment, prohibited him from playing computer games. The boy declared that it was a violation of his human rights and threatened to call President of Australia and complain.
“No problems,” said John, “if you can find a phone number of President of Australia, I’ll allow you to play computer games.”
Five minutes later the young Google adept proudly demonstrated a page with a phone number of Julia Gillard.
John looked incredulously at his son, “So you think that Julia Gillard is President of Australia?”
Staring in his father’s round eyes Tony realised that something was definitely wrong. Then the penny dropped…
“Right, Dad, Julia is the Prime Minister, but who is the President?”
Wikipedia blackout would be a powerful action if it wasn’t so easily circumvented. The black screen with the message is just an overlay on top of the regular wiki article. In Chrome there is a slight delay before the overlay is displayed. Pressing Escape button when the original page is still on screen you can prevent Chrome from showing the blackout message and enjoy Wikipedia as usual. I suggest to declare this blackout action unsuccessful and repeat it using a smarter technique like redirection.
Recently I read an article in SMH in which the author told about the feedback he received from readers. Richard, the author, was concerned about misinterpretation of his previous article on climate change. Well, as a journalist, he should be worried if readers don’t get his point. However, my attention was attracted by the utmost aggressiveness of the responses – they ranged from insults to death threats. In real life, if we don’t agree with another person’s opinion, we might call him an idiot, but I can’t imagine anyone saying “I will cut off your testicles, because I don’t agree with your point of view on climate change.” Nevertheless, it happens all the time in cyberspace. I have experienced that on Internet forums, Richard has got it in his email.
For the most part, such messages are anonymous and this is the very reason why they are so bold. As it is the case with groups of men who behave more aggressively than they would on their own because they feel protected by the group, electronic communication emboldens people by giving them an illusion of safety in anonymity. Each person becomes a crowd of one – he doesn’t need others to hide among them, but still can safely throw insults without revealing his identity.
Although annoying and intimidating, anonymous hate messages are cheap and should not be taken seriously. A journalist might use them as a measure of “soreness” of the topic he covered – the greater the divide between opponents, the more hate he gets for taking one side. For all other purposes they are just a background noise. Firstly, if someone is serious about killing you and getting away with it, he will hardly give you a benefit of warning. Sending an anonymous message is a sign of cowardice, not determination. Sending a signed death threat might be considered a brave thing, but it is also a stupid one as it gives you a good starting point for a quick police action against the sender.
Secondly, people who send insults, anonymous or signed, are not smart. They disagree with your view and want to hurt you, because they are not clever enough to persuade you. They are not even able to hurt you properly. Anyone who survived primary school has a certain degree of immunity to name calling and will be rather amused, just as Richard was, than insulted. Word is a sharp weapon and there are rules about using it. Internet hecklers use it in the bluntest possible way which is barred too.
Internet has made communication easier for better and for worse. What previously took buying an envelope, hand-writing a letter and going to a mailbox, now takes a few minutes to type a reply on a website. It has changed the rules of engagement and a web author may expect much more dirt thrown at him than a conventional paper-book writer or journalist. But market forces work in human communication too – the greater the supply, the cheaper the goods. Internet will lower the ethic standards, but we will get used to the new norm and what was considered a reason for a duel will be ignored as a minor nuisance. In the meantime we need to start growing a thicker skin.
Nick put on his coat and said, “Imagine, 2 years ago I couldn’t zip up this coat, because I couldn’t connect the edges.”
John: “What happened?”
Nick, smugly: “In the last 18 months I lost 15 kilos.”
After Nick’s leaving John turned to Warren and said, “That’s what a bad diet does to men.”
Warren: “Bad diet? Why?”
John: “He used to be 15 kilos greater.”
This year I got a camcorder as my birthday present. Not that I am a video fan, but for quite some time, looking at Olga taking photos, I couldn’t help thinking that the beauty and the fun of certain moments could only be captured on video. So, deciding what I wanted for my birthday was easy; choosing a model was a totally different kettle of fish.
I was looking for a good handheld (not shoulder-mounted) full HD camcorder. After some research I found myself in the position of Buridan’s ass, unable to choose between Sony HDR -CX550V and Panasonic HDC-TM700. Here are the significant for me pros and cons of both cameras: (more…)