31 July 2009


We couldn't let post number 801 go by without a tribute....could we? Unfortunately there's bugger all live 801 on youtube (or anywhere as far as I can tell).

See post 800. Wtf is this? What does it do?

I don't have a Mac: just as well, wtf is this?

Why are all these sites designed to be only intelligible to aliens?


short memory

Bloody short term memory. What I originally wanted to write about in the last post was bloody Optus. Having forced us onto paying on-line (bloody technology again, although we have been using BPay for yonks) by charging for paper bills, after three months I discover that we still get the paper bills and the bloody charge.

You'd think if you registered for on-line payment, that would automatically discontinue your paper bills? Wouldn't you? Well? They're a technology company, surely their bloody on line systems would have done that?

Tomorrow, we change suppliers. And also because Optus sponsors Twatbasket Sandilands and his plastic sheila offsider. And and and also because Mrs VVB deserves a new phone.

This kind of sums up a lot. I think. With respect and mad props to xkcd.com

Also, this is post 800. Wheee!

marshall's portable music machine

Aaah, Friday. I've said to a couple of long time friends or acquaintances recently that I never expected to be working this hard or long at this stage of life. On reflection, of course, I never really thought about it when I was younger. I assumed I would be working until I was 65 and I grew up in a household where the breadwinner worked moderately hard but work was a four letter word. So I assumed I'd just be doing work. The likelihood of assuming the level of managerial responsibility I now "enjoy" just never occurred to me.

Some years ago I was having a conversation with a work colleague - younger, better qualified, and now far senior to me. He said he started doing what he does because he wanted to change the world. That got me thinking: as a young person I never even remotely considered that a particular job or line of work could change the world, let alone how that might come about. Certainly, not having gone to uni at the usual time meant I never mixed with people who always knew they wanted to change the world - if uni at that age is a factor.

Talk about just accepting what life throws at you. Regrets, on this basis I should have them by the pallet load.

Anyway I am indeed pretty damn busy and if it weren't for the office laptop's NextG connection having been inoperative for the last 3 weeks, I'd be working on that right now, trying to recapture all things I need to do arising from today's various doings in particular. But it is, and I'm not. Although I could pick up a pen and paper I suppose, instead of going "aaah Friday." Have to switch off at some time, I guess.

Speaking of NextG connections not working, and also trying to learn how to use a Blackberry, I've just read
this article and comments on changes in consuming the music experience. Apart from a brief (about 18 month) infatuation with Napster back when it was the thing, my music experiences are still enjoyed through CDs. I've heard of Spotify but I even seem to have difficulty streaming ABC radio, let alone all this other black magic.

It's really extremely frustrating, finding yourself increasingly in the dark about technology. I'm a person of little patience at the best of times, but what I really need to do is take a week off and just work away at digital things. Other people learn to use these damn things, it must be possible. The longer you spend away from innovation, the further behind you fall.

I read the digital gadget page of the AFR on Fridays, they review cameras and MP3 players and all these other digital things whose purpose is never quite clear and most of it just goes whizzing straight by. So I inevitably turn to the car test, at least I can understand that - although looking at pictures of Maserati Gran Turismos doesn't aid my mood much, because I can't have one.

Back to the Crikey article, I certainly agree with the commenters about the car being the best place to listen to music. I shouted myself some nice new Monitor Audio speakers and a Denon receiver (for the AV capability) for Christmas last year, but I only get to use it on odd Saturday or Sunday mornings when Mrs VVB might decide to go for a stroll (because I like to listen to loud music). So it's mainly in the car when I'm listening - given my high level of highway miles covered - and the work car is an absolute bottom of the range Camry with an amplifier apparently powered by a centipede on a bicycle dynamo and speakers made of creme brulee.

Some time just before I started writing this, I had an idea for the subject matter but that's long gone. Probably just having a whinge, I've certainly done that.

Over and out.

30 July 2009

i'm so glad i'm livin' in the usa

And as we slowly creep up on 800 posts (my, that's a long fence, said the stream of consiousness) we're back at Bookforum and it's about ageing.

Picked an
article at random - well not really, it was because it looked suitably doom-and-gloomy - but in amongst all the words one can divine a standard VVB argument: what happens when absolutely everything is seen in purely economic terms.

Crap happens, that's what happens.

Oh noes,
this is what happens. Do click on the "screech" link in the article and think about rampant nationalism (can you imagine a hall full of Aussies breaking into a pledge of allegiance? Well, only those participating in citizenship ceremonies have to memorise one, (and Don Bradman's batting average) (and why Karmichael Hunt shouldn't abandon Rugby League). So you can now go on to think about the thin veneer of civilisation that the never-ending comments thread exposes in all its...terrifying thinness.


29 July 2009

the tragic treasury (*)

Someone sent me this earlier today. I'm sure it's doing the rounds of the whole intertubes and people's e-mail inboxes, but in lieu of anything remotely as sensible from VVBSea, I pass it on in all humility.

Actually you can delete the humility bit, the keyboard wrote that by itself.

I'd also be a somewhat sceptical about the 10 million ageing workers bit, but the theory speaks for itself. In a menacing low monotone, if I'm not mistaken.

Which I often am.

Subject: Letter to the Treasurer.

Dear Mr Swan

Please find below my suggestion for fixing Australia's economy. Instead of giving billions of dollars to banks that will squander the money on lavish parties and unearned bonuses, use the following plan. You can call it the Patriotic Retirement Plan.

There are about 10 million people over 50 in the work force. Pay them $1 million each severance for early retirement with the following stipulations:
1) They MUST retire. Ten million job openings - Unemployment fixed

2) They MUST buy a new Australian car. Ten million cars ordered - Car Industry fixed
3) They MUST either buy a house or pay off their mortgage - Housing Crisis fixed
4) They MUST send their kids to school/TAFE/university - Crime rate fixed
5) They MUST buy $100 WORTH of alcohol/tobacco a week .....and there's your Money back in duty/tax etc

It can't get any easier than that!

P.S. If more money is needed, have all members of Parliament pay back their falsely claimed expenses and second home allowances.
Yours sincerely

The Whole Country

(*) - no, I had no idea either

27 July 2009


Just to reassure my 3 readers that I'm still here...oh, you weren't looking for any such reassurance? OK, superfluous, delete, move on.

Today's whimsy - I really need another word, that'll be the weekend task - is within
this article. Which comes to you from a link within today's Crikey.com.au newsletter.

It's not really surprising that someone who is a "leading useability expert" has a name like Jared Spool.

I had to look at it twice (at least) before I remembered that Jared is a real name.

But then, I find I'm having more difficulty with instant comprehension these days.

But if I have a thing - well, it'd be a widget wouldn't it - I'll know where to go to find out how useable it is.

25 July 2009

brain failure

OK. I's back, I also seem to have another "follower." You'll regret it, you know...


Are you disappointed the Apocalypse hasn’t arrived? I am devastated. I was really hoping to live in paradise and own a pet panda. However, I do live in a Japanese garden with a Bengal tiger, a friendly child, and wicker basket with grapes the size of my head. I hope it lasts forever.
First of all, it's a nice little article on a familiar subject but it does contain some spiffy turns of phrase which I found, for want of a better description, whimsical.

Second: isn't it just the greatest achievement of the international internettery that someone can run a site called Failure. And people can visit it and, like, link to it and go "way-hey." I quite liked the section headings, particularly "beyond help".

Actually, I think that's the first time I've ever gone "way hey" and, reflecting for the fleetingest moment on it, I think I'll make it the last.

Unless it somehow gets stuck inside my head, like so much other rubbish.

23 July 2009

it takes two

I will assume - althoguhg (hmmm, spellcheck offered me allergic, lethargic, elegaic and earthquake for that particular typo, what drugs are the bloody coders on for crying out loud?) although (there, was that so bloody difficult?) every time I assume something, I am reminded how dangerous it is to make assumptions but I go ahead and do it anyway and then get reminded just one more time that it is dangerous to make assumptions and it's also the very definition of stupidity to keep doing the same thing yet to expect a different outcome, also that result is probably a better word than outcome - that I was just being too obscure when I wrote a post about it being the last post and how pointless it all was and carrying on and sighing and stuff, then embedding a youtube link to a song called It Makes No Difference.

Right then, that's all cleared up.

You now also have a quite clear insight into what happens to a customarily befuddled mind after driving 2000km to participate in a series of meetings that were relatively hard work in that they demanded knowledge, concentration and the ability to read a room and divine suitable interventions, but were nonetheless a little short on tangible outcomes.

Maybe I should just redefine what my understanding of tangible is, because everyone else seemed well pleased..

Anyway I picked up the geeetarr tonight and attempted It Makes No Difference twice. In fact the second attempt made no difference (ha! I made a leeetle funny!) but I can certainly assure you that I won't be posting any future atempts to youtube.

18 July 2009

things don't seem

We seem to have reached some sort of impasse. I was kind of happy posting a great (well, to my tastes) piece of music each Friday , and it was sort of fun trawling through BookForum to bring you stuff that appealed (to my tastes).

It used to be fun getting utterly and self-righteously the other side of indignant about the former (former! former! wheeeee!!!) Prime Minister, but eventually the good voters of Bennelong woke up to their collective selves and dispatched him to former-PM-land.

I'm way the other side of bored with reading - or not, as is usually the case - posts that begin "stupid leftists", but I've been singularly unsuccessful in finding anything halfway readable that begins "lobotomised reactionaries."

This has only ever been a personal, very small corner of the blogosphere. It's not replicated on twitter or digg or whatever those other places are meant to be. Like (probably) a very large percentage of the population, I'm not as clever as I'd like to think I am. So this blog has - more or less inevitably, to my way of thinking - veered towards the whimsical. Trouble is, I don't do a particularly compelling line in whimsical either, I suspect.

I've found in the past that if I say I'm closing down or going on sabbatical, something happens and all of a sudden I get rejuvenated.


See you round.

10 July 2009

on the road again

You know, the further you get from 'civilisation' - as it may be defined from time to time - the less blogariferous you feel.

Been away, didn't miss a thing.

Done 2000 km though, could have done with some good driving music...

05 July 2009

money can't buy me love

I'm on the road for a few days as of tomorrow so there will be no blogee during the week. Just doing the rounds of some reading tonight - to provide a suitable excuse to eat chocolate - and I find this.

I was initially somewhat surprised to find that there is a such a profession as "prison consultant" but really no one should be surprised by anything in a commercialised and commodified world.

Some commenters wonder where Madoff got the money to pay the consultant. I'm sure the State hasn't taken all $45750B or however much he stole. Yet.

Some commenters can't leave their pet peeves alone:

Forget about this man. It was impossible for him to do all this alone. Get the other people involved and find some of the money. Next the Justice Department should investigate and arrest those involved in the largest ponzi game in the world. Social Security and those in Congress. $50 trillion.
Bob, Sarver, USA

Can someone explain the difference between a ponzi scheme and our state pension?
G Brown, London, UK

The sheer number of comments points to how distasteful - hmm, I'm sure there's a better description - people found this case. On a quick glance, though, I couldn't see too many boosters for the so-called "light handed" regulation or indeed so-called "industry self-regulation". Investing is not gambling but any "mum and dad" type investor does rely on some semblance of transparency in the market.

Anyway, the chocolate beckons, as do other stories.

I did like the comment about Jasper the cat. And they probably didn't even know about First Dog.

If you have a couple of years to spare and are deeply interested in the global warming are you a denier or are you an environmental religous nut argument, then dive in
here. Be aware though, if you show all nearly 900 comments on one page, it freezes frequently.

Therefore, global warming is a hoax, I've just proved it.

Do have a lovely week.

04 July 2009

masters of war

Oh, John Howard, the gift that keeps on giving. I spent three years (*) in a barely controlled fury - oh all right, a complete, insane, illogical ball of seething hate - searching for the words to describe, to encapsulate the essence of, the previous Prime Minister and so seek to explain why he did what (I thought he) did to the country.

Norman Abjorensen does far, far better:

"It was watching this that made me think what it is about Howard that provokes
such antipathy in many of us, and it is this: Howard is the resentful reactionary that we all seek to overcome in ourselves."

"...Howard and his own peculiar small dream of suburban Australia."

And as for Alexander Downer ("who seems to have been interviewed after lunch") describing himself as a a "warrior": what is it about the self described "hard right" that deludes them into thinking themselves as hard men when, inevitably, it's other people who pay the cost, with their livelihoods in a domestic sense and their lives in the case of war?


You know what, I'm starting to feel cleansed.

Sort of.

(*) It probably felt like 30 to Mrs VVB.

*Update - the gift that keeps on giving, indeed.

I asked them what their leader's secret might be, given he seemed to have all the
charisma of a stoat, and yet he had a habit of sneaking through to victory at the hustings. 'Dog-whistling', they replied."

03 July 2009

time and a word


Explains a lot.

But far too deep, far too intricate for me to draw conclusions, other than I hope I remember this next time I'm conversing with someone whose thought processes might have different rules of assembly to mine.

Arts and Letters Daily, I hadn't visited for a while.

so long

Mnnnff. Week too full to engage fully with blogitude. Three more big weeks to ensue, including out of town for two.

Beer to bottle, more likely on Sunday than tomorrow as evidence of fermentation still apparent, but I can't leave it a whole week while I'm away.

I noticed the leader of the Opposition here had a letter in today's AFR (not on line, it would seem) making some predictably Opposition-like noises about the gummint. Read like a statement to Parliament, was not made in response to any article or similar in the newspaper. Is that what letters to the editor pages are for? I found it a mite strange.

I've noticed other stuff, but not doubt you've noticed your own so we won't bother comparing notices right now.

You know when you get a song in your head and it won't go away? Be very careful about what I'm about to do to you. But before I do, here's some
real good shit. Enjoy!

But noooowww....

02 July 2009

on the turning away

Turning. You can't do it in the English countryside.

Those keyboards I bought: terrific. My crummy old left hand is increasingly seizing up from strangling the neck of the guitar, so to follow my evening guitar 'playing' with some scales and other home-baked exercises on the keyboard, aimed at loosening up the fingers, seems like a good idea.

What was that saying about ordinary minds discuss people, greater ones discuss events and the greatest discuss ideas? Here's why
people wins: it's a circular argument. Hell, it's not even an argument, it's being hit on the head lessons.

As you were.

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