Saturday, August 26, 2006

Driving Us Mad

Our roads have been in the News a lot this last week - specifically, that people are driving too damn fast on them. The Advocate this week published a list of the worst offenders of recent months, such as the guy doing 152 kmph in an 80 zone, a P-plater (Provisional driver) with an 80 limit clocked at 135, the motorcycle doing 175 in an 80 zone, to name just a few. To be fair, a lot of these worst incidents happen on open highway areas which have only recently had their speed limits reduced, such as the Bass Highway near Latrobe, which for no sane reason anyone can think of has had an 80 limit placed on one 200 metre long section of it. It would be unfair of me to suggest that the stretch in question is an ideal one for speed cameras, with much natural cover. To even contemplate the idea that speed cameras are nothing more than a callous money-making scheme, or that the Department of Roads and Transport would arbitrarily assign speed limits based not on safety concerns but solely on expected revenue-raising potential, would be a terrible thing to do. We all know that the Department is professional and thorough, despite this week's revelations that the Department's official manual for those learning to drive, the Learner-Drivers' Bible if you will, contains at least 185 errors, 65 of which could cause accident or death if followed as stated (such as telling the learner to drive on the wrong side of the road when turning right!) The dedication of our police force, too, to responsible and safe driving, should never be questioned, and our sympathies go out to the six police officers hurt in this week's unfortunate collision between two unmarked police cars, around midnight on a lonely stretch of highway near Brisbane. Don't think for a moment that a game of 'Chicken' was in progress.

Six Police Officers Hurt
Clocked at 205 kmph - 125 Over His 80 Limit

Still, it obviously doesn't happen only in Australia - this English cop has been given a discharge (but no fine or jail) for doing 159 miles per hour (that's 254!! kmph - about 40 kmph faster than the maximum speed I ever did on my Yamaha XS-1100), caught by his own onboard camera:

Police Officer Discharged

Friday, August 25, 2006

Another Century

I just realised that today's post is another century. My first was 100 visitors, of course, and now I've reached that amazing milestone (kilometre-stone?), 100 articles. Yes folks, this is Post #100 for World Wierd Web. And what better way of celebrating the fact than with a 'Top 100' list. But what of? What else, but the…

Top 100 List of Top 100 Lists!

100. Top 100 "Cigarette Burn" Moments
99. Top 100 Films Where The Earth Is Destroyed
98. Top 100 Key Grips
97. Top 100 Movies Based On Television Shows
96. Top 100 Performances By Actors Or Actresses Who Worked Despite An Injury On The Set
95. Top 100 Films That Never Made It To The Theater And Ended Up With Just One Copy In Someone's Vault For Decades
94. Top 100 Most Impressive Mustaches
93. Top 100 Outrageous Accents
92. Top 100 Shots Of The World Trade Center
91. Top 100 Dogfights
90. Top 100 Characters That Are 180 Degrees Politically From The Person Portraying Them, But They Do It Anyway For The Paycheck
89. Top 100 Performances By A Midget
88. Top 100 Decapitations
87. Top 100 Movies Entirely Ruined By Giving Away A Single Spoiler From The Plot
86. Top 100 Smoking Moments With Stars Who Eventually Died From Lung Cancer Or Emphysema
85. Top 100 Scenes Where A Character Has A Bad Experience With Crazy Glue
84. Top 100 Intermissions
83. Top 100 Most Amusing Portrayals Of Zero Gravity
82. Top 100 Drunks
81. Top 100 Great Horror Movies Followed By Crappy Sequels
80. Top 100 Fruit Stands Demolished In Car Chases
79. Top 100 Portrayals Of Executions
78. Top 100 Winces By A Hero While His Wounds Are Treated By A Hot Chick
77. Top 100 Re-enactments Of The United Nations As Something Other Than An Irrelevant Anti-American Dictator's Fantasy
76. Top 100 Computer Geeks
75. Top 100 Pimps
74. Top 100 Performances By A Smoke Alarm
73. Top 100 References To What's Under A Scotsman's Kilt
72. Top 100 Dramatic Sports Events Ending In A Tie
71. Top 100 Scenes In Elevators Where They Leave Through The Hatch
70. Top 100 Fights Where Someone Breaks A Bottle On A Bar
69. Top 100 Spontaneous Musical Numbers Without Any Explanation Whatsoever
68. Top 100 Lightning Strikes
67. Top 100 Weirdest Uses For Matrix-like Bullet-Time
66. Top 100 Films Where Route 66 Is Featured, But It's Obviously Not The Real Route 66
65. Top 100 Improper Uses Of A Fire Extinguisher
64. Top 100 Deliberately Altered Product Labels
63. Top 100 Appearances Of The Devil
62. Top 100 Assistants To Mad Scientists
61. Top 100 Performances By Actors Or Actresses In Wheelchairs
60. Top 100 Sequences Of Blinking Lights On Machinery
59. Top 100 Sneezes
58. Top 100 Locations Where The Actors Appear To Park Where No Parking Places Actually Exist
57. Top 100 Attempts To Make Vancouver Look Like Another City Because It's Cheaper To Film In Vancouver
56. Top 100 Things In A Car's Trunk
55. Top 100 Robots
54. Top 100 Performances By An Actor Or Actress With Their Mouth Full
53. Top 100 Eskimos
52. Top 100 Portrayals Of A Union Laborer As Anything Other Than Unhelpful Or Grouchy
51. Top 100 Coin Tosses
50. Top 100 Performances By A Shadow
49. Top 100 Uses Of A Crutch For Something Other Than Assisting In Walking
48. Top 100 Scenes At A Gas Station
47. Top 100 Tattoos
46. Top 100 Science Fiction Movies Not Based On A Philip K. Dick Novel Or Short Story
45. Top 100 French Maids
44. Top 100 Moments When A Brief Appearance By Batman Probably Could Have Helped Settle Matters A Lot Quicker
43. Top 100 Arrows-Splitting-Arrows-In-The-Bullseye Moments
42. Top 100 Doorbell Chimes
41. Top 100 Comatose Characters
40. Top 100 Uses Of A Musical Instrument By An Actor Or Actress That Can Actually Play The Thing
39. Top 100 Really Obvious Blatant Product Placements
38. Top 100 Trailers Provided To Actors And Actresses During Filming
37. Top 100 Vanity License Plates In Film
36. Top 100 Films Where A Character Is Shown At Different Ages But Different Actors Are Used To "Age" The Character And The Actors Actually Somewhat Resemble Each Other
35. Top 100 Scenes Where A Character Can't See Because They Lost Or Broke Their Glasses, Or They Lost A Contact Lens
34. Top 100 Flying Cars
33. Top 100 "I've never driven a car before/I've never had sex before/I've never drank beer before" Moment, And They Turn Out To Be Great At It
32. Top 100 Marathons Where Someone Other Than A Kenyan Or Tanzanian Wins
31. Top 100 Really Big Afros
30. Top 100 Funny Moments That Aren't Really Funny 20 Years Later When Nobody Gets The Reference
29. Top 100 Strategic Placements Of Bubbles In A Bathtub
28. Top 100 Makeup Artists Who Used Nothing Other Than A Felt-Tipped Marker And A Meat Tenderizer
27. Top 100 Arrests On The Set
26. Top 100 Cooking Performances By An Actress Who Has Probably Never Used A Kitchen In Her Life
25. Top 100 Performances By A Dog
24. Top 100 Fades To Black
23. Top 100 Reviews By Film Critics
22. Top 100 Stunt Performances By Midgets In Place Of A Child Star
21. Top 100 Movies That Start Off Really Good But Totally Lose It At Some Point
20. Top 100 Uses Of A Waterslide To Simulate Careening Through Caverns Or Down A Hill
19. Top 100 Jibber Jabber That Passes For A Foreign Language
18. Top 100 Sources For Really, Really Good Drugs
17. Top 100 Portrayals Of A Historical Figure By Someone Who Looks And Sounds Nothing Like Them
16. Top 100 Most Impressive Reactions To Briefcases Containing A Lot Of Money Being Opened
15. Top 100 Epic Journeys Summarized By A Montage
14. Top 100 Announcements Run In the Theater To Remind People To Silence Their Cell Phones
13. Top 100 Ending Credits
12. Top 100 Performances By A Ninja
11. Top 100 Incredibly Dramatic Crossings Of An International Border
10. Top 100 Dramatic References To The 555 Telephone Exchange
9. Top 100 Movies Where It Was All Just A Dream
8. Top 100 Balcony Views
7. Top 100 Performances By Actors Or Actresses Who Died During Filming
6. Top 100 Earthquakes Or Space Vehicle Flight Disruptions Where Just The Camera Shakes And The Actors Stumble Around
5. Top 100 Performances By A Really, Really Fat Person
4. Top 100 Portrayals of Nazis
3. Top 100 Transformations Into Werewolves Or Aliens
2. Top 100 Shots Of An Actress' Bare Back, But You Never See Her Tatas

…and the number 1 Top 100 List of all time:
1. Top 100 Countdowns On An Explosive Device Which Never Reach Zero

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Dame Edna Honoured

Comedy can be hard to define. Usually, people find the unexpected funny, and essentially that's what a joke is - an anecdote with a twist at the end, an unexpected finish. Years ago just saying 'Bum!' on stage would have brought riotous laughter, because it's precisely that "you can't say that in public" act which causes people to laugh. The trouble is, society changes, and as things which would have been taboo years ago become part of mainstream conversation, then they no longer make you laugh. And different societies find things funny which others don't, because every society has different moral standards. Take, for example, the study over the last few years which tried to find the funniest joke ever, and ended up concluding that every nation had a different funniest joke. The end result was to declare Spike Milligan the funniest man ever, and yet the joke which Spike tells as the funniest one he ever heard ('Is he dead?… He is now!'), didn't even raise a smile amongst the people I talked to about it.

Things change. Comedians need new, updated, socially-relevant now-not-then, material all the time, and that's precisely why Barry Humphries isn't funny, and hasn't been for most of his career. Barry has played the part of a number of characters - Aussie bloke Bazza Mackenzie, the grandfatherly Sandy Stone, unionist Lance Boyle, the horrific cultural attaché Sir Les Patterson, and of course, Dame Edna Everage. Dame Edna started off as an ordinary suburban housewife, but somewhere along the way, as Barry Humphries failed to get the stardom he wanted, Dame Edna became his alternate ego, began declaring him/herself as a gigastar, and all but dropped all the other characters. To be sure, some of the early Dame Edna stuff was amusing, but there's only one thing more pathetic than a comedian who never comes up with new material, and that's one who drops all of his old stuff and sticks to the one joke forever more. That's Barry Humphies in a nutshell. I'm no prude - I find a lot of comedians funny, from Billy Connelly to Paul Hogan and even the Chaser himself - but Barry Humphries just makes me sad, because beneath the cross-dressing megastar image of Dame Edna is the very unfulfilled life of a no-one who never went anywhere. Forget the Keys to the City of Melbourne, give him a season pass to the nearest suicide booth - and thank God our kids will never have to put up with him.

BBC News Story
Dame Edna Official Website
Barry Humphries Bigraphy

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Some employer's have taken advantage of Australia's new industrial relations legislation to change of few of the existing workplace practices which annoy them the most.

Sick Days
We will no longer accept a doctor's statement as proof of sickness. If you are able to go to the doctor, you are able to come to work.

Personal Days
Each employee will receive 104 personal days a year. They are called Saturday & Sunday.

Death (Own)
Any worker found dead at their desk will be promptly fired. All deaths will need to be applied for in advance and will only be approved if your can show that your death will not affect productivity.

Death (Others)
This is no excuse for missing work. There is nothing you can do for dead friends, relatives or co-workers. Every effort should be made to have non-employees attend to the arrangements instead. In rare cases where employee involvement is necessary, the funeral should be scheduled for late afternoon so that you can work through your lunch hour and leave one hour early.

Toilet Use
Entirely too much time is being spent in the toilet. There is now a strict three-minute time limit in the stalls, and at the end of three minutes, an alarm will sound, the toilet paper roll will retract, and the toilet will flush upwards. The stall door will open, and a picture will be taken which will be posted on the company bulletin board.

Lunch Break
Skinny people get 30 minutes for lunch, as they need to eat more, so that they can look healthy. Normal size people get 15 minutes for lunch to get a balanced meal to maintain their average figure. Chubby people get 5 minutes for lunch, and even that may be too much.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Launch of USS Lionhart

In a few days my latest Lux map, USS Lionhart, will be uploaded. This is possibly my favourite map so far, and definitely the hardest to do, entailing some 4 or 5 hours of high-zoom detailed architectural drawing in Adobe InDesign. Even though all I needed for the final output was a 72 dpi (screen resolution) image, in order to get it looking right when transparency layers were made, I needed good resolution originals to work from. There are many sets of deck plans available on the web for ships such as USS Enterprise, but these are copyrighted to Paramount Pictures - in order to be able to use the idea in Lux it needed to be a totally original creation. The end result? Pretty good I think. Click on the pictures below for better look at the final product, and some of the detailed work that went into it!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Shed Stand-Off

A 46-year-old man has been charged after a stand-off with police in north Queensland. Police declared an emergency situation after the man allegedly barricaded himself in a shed armed with a gun about midnight (AEST) in the Townsville suburb of Garbutt. Police allege he voluntarily came out about 9 am today and was taken to hospital for a minor injury sustained inside the shed. The man was charged with serious obstruction, unlicensed possession of a weapon, dangerous conduct with a weapon and possession of a weapon under the influence of liquor. He will appear in Townsville Magistrates Court tomorrow.

What is it with these standoffs and sieges? A man can stay inside his house for a month and no-one even notices, but as soon as he actually refuses to come out, its a siege situation and the house, or shed in this case, is surrounded by a hundred bored SWAT guys playing 'pin the hollowpoint on the perp'. What a sight it must have been to see a small backyard shed surrounded. Well, allegedly surrounded, perhaps. After all, the man only allegedly barricaded himself in the shed, but definitely with a gun. He may or may not have come out about 9 am, but was definitely taken to hospital. Could be a bit of a problem if it turns out he was still inside the shed when they took him to the hospital… but it would explain the 'minor' injury - accidentally melding atoms with the shed to produce a sort of man/shed hybrid would have to hurt a little bit. That would explain why he was charged with [being a] serious obstruction, unlicensed possession of a weapon (the government refuses all applications from buildings of any sort to own a gun), and dangerous conduct (he opened his door into the face of a police officer, perhaps?) But come on, the charge of possessing a weapon under the influence of liquor is just plain ridiculous - what will become of Australia's hunter-heroes and weekend warriors if they can't partake of both hobbies simultaneously!? What sort of weekend will it be when all those legend-in-their-own-mind gun-toting maniacs with big inferiority complexes and small… er… cars are no longer allowed to, in the words of Weird Al Yankovic, “get all liquored up and shoot at anything that moves”?

Man Charged After Stand-Off

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Hysterical History

Its been a landmark week in Australian education, with a national summit deciding its time we got rid of all the socially-contextual values-laden sludge which comprises the Social Studies curriculum in Australian schools. In a few shorts words, we're going to start teaching history in history from now on, not platitudes which “enable students, teachers and the broader school community to be critically informed about privilege and injustice”, or “enable students to develop the ability to critically analyse social structures that unjustly disadvantage some individuals or groups, and investigate events concerning societies and environments by applying socio-cultural and socio-critical inquiries emphasising social justice, ecological and economic sustainability, and peace.” No, I didn't make those phrases up - they are the stated aims of the current Queensland history curriculum. Under that current sort of criteria, Captain Cook has to be described as a white racist oppressor, and the Eureka Stockade as a nation-forming revolution of the masses overthrowing clear injustices.

But let's be clear on this: one of the main reasons that Australian history has, over the years, been minimised in the curriculum is that, quite simply put, there isn't much real history to teach. The early law and police force in Australia, the Rum Corps, were a group of corrupt alcoholics and thieves who tried to establish their own empire by force. The Eureka Stockade, so commonly described as above, was really nothing more than a 3 or 4 hour brawl involving a few drunken miners who tipped over a couple of carts and thumbed their nose at the authorities. When the authorities arrived they breached the so-called 'stockade' in two minutes and arrested the drunken yobbo's. And Burke & Wills, the famous explorers of the interior of Australia, were so inept that without the help of the aboriginals they wouldn't have made it out of the city in the first place.

How do I know all this? Because I was taught Australian history at school. Don't get me wrong, I think it's a great idea to start teaching it again. But for goodness sake tell it like it really was, and save the over-exaggerated rhetoric for Hollywood.

Let's Have History, Not Sludge