Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Rory Blyth is a dirty fish pirate

It's true. Rory Blyth is a dirty fish pirate. If that makes sense to you, then you may be in serious trouble. But there's an icon that adds credibility to the claim:

Rory has been blogging since several years before he was born and it seems he's planning to get serious about it now. It's just possible you've read posts where I've mused about way I might make money from this blogging malarky. Well, Rory's been working at it for far longer than me and deserves some sort of reward if that's what he's after.
As an aside, going straight to his current posts will be more than a little like jumping into the deep end of a swimming pool. Especially if you're not a good swimmer. And the pool for some reason features a raging waterfall with jaggedy rocks at the bottom.
Here's a link to one of my favourites to ease you in: a comic that explains why IT people hate marketing people. Enjoy!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Mr Angry's video dating service

And now for something completely different.

The four housemates of the apocalypse decided to make dating videos. Using my equipment. Without asking for permission.


Download this information!

If you're looking for the ultimate example of human stupidity, you need look no further than the ads for downloads to mobile phones. The idea of letting someone you have no hope of tracing make charges against your phone simply doesn't appeal to me.

It's bad enough when the product is arguably useful (some people really like games, customised ringtones, wallpaper etc.) but some of the shit they advertise amazes me. I had thought that the worst was when they wanted to charge you for really bad impersonations of The Simpsons (which I'm sure breaches copyright law). Then they had SMS chat where you pay a fortune to send text messages to someone who's apparently really hot and wants to go out with you (yeah, right).

Then I found a new low point:


My girlfriend knows I hate this ad. She also has a wicked sense of humour. So every time it comes on she makes a big show of texting our names to the number to wind me up.

It works every time.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Fred Thompson - the next President of the USA?

I've formed a theory that the absurdly long Presidential campaign being inflicted on the American populace is a deliberate ploy to turn people off politics altogether. After all, if the population ends up completely disengaged from the political process, there'll be none of that unpleasant answering for your actions. Actually being held responsible ruins a good thing for politicians.

I read with interest that even with their huge field of contenders, many Republicans aren't happy with the selection. Surveys are showing that the most common response when asked to choose a candidate is "none of the above". This may or may not be good news for Fred Thompson. Thompson is an actor, lawyer and lobbyist, a real Republican insider who is not yet an official contender for the presidency.

He's being pitched by many as a tough guy and defender of traditional Republican values. Whether it's true or not. Here's my take on Fred Thompson:


Friday, July 27, 2007

Who remembers SkatKat?

This what I do when I'm bored. For those who have no idea who SkatKat was/is, he was an animated cat used to push a novelty "rap" album in the 80s. He even did a song and video with Paula Abdul. But like all one-hit wonders, he fell hard and he fell far. This is the sad tale of his life today. Featuring the crappest animation ever.


As I said, I was bored. The other night I was trying to think of what to do for a video and I wanted to do something different. I was toying with various ideas about doing a cartoon when I remembered a piece of audio I had on my hard drive. Way back when I did some videos promoting the 2007 Melbourne Comedy Festival (click the link at the top of the page to see them in all their glory) I recorded some stuff Tommy Dassalo wanted to use in his show, "The Third Guy".

One of the pieces was a short monologue performed by the show's director, Adrian Calear. He plays the rather sad and desperate SkatKat you hear in the above video. I swear I wasn't drunk, but I thought it would be a good idea to make it into a video.

I chopped up some pieces of the SkatKat/Paula Abdul video and did the god-awful animation of a couple of still images. I think I might use this video to submit a job application to Pixar. I'm sure they could use the laugh.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Shut up or I'll kill you

There are many instances where I want to say to people "Shut up or I'll kill you!" Or, more accurately, I want to scream it in their face from a distance of about 5 centimetres. Usually this is because they're talking shit and I desperately want them to stop. I have a slightly different problem at work right now.

I have to work with someone whose voice is pitched at a level that gives me headaches. I don't mean metaphorically. Her voice seems to resonate in my skull and set off vibrations. If I start with the vaguest hint of a headache, listening to her will make it grow until I can't stand it. She makes it worse by talking very loudly.

I know why she does this. She's spent years working in a male dominated industry. She's learned from experience if she doesn't speak up strongly she'll be drowned out by someone else. It isn't as if she's saying stupid things, she's quite intelligent. But she's making my fucking head explode.

And I have to sit through long meetings involving this woman. As the throbbing in my head increases I find it increasingly difficult to actually absorb anything being said. Eventually it becomes impossible to even hear what people say. Instead of paying attention, I'm inwardly focused saying to myself:


Then I realise people are looking at me. Expectantly. I realise someone must have asked me a question. And I have noooooo fucking idea what to say. You'd be surprised how many creative ways I have of saying "I have no idea what you just said - please repeat it."

Or then there are the days when I suspect I've actually been saying my "shut the fuck up" rant out loud. One of these days I'm going to do it. Just to see how people react.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Project Management is Bollocks!

If there's one thing I've learned in my 10+ years working in IT, it's this: Project Management is utter bollocks. It's rubbish. I'm not saying that planning is a bad idea. I thinking planning is absolutely necessary if you want to avoid disaster. But anyone who thinks they can predict exactly what will happen over the life of a project, exactly how much it will cost and how long it will take is some bizarre hybrid of a lunatic and a liar.

The most polite description I can think of for the bullshit that surrounds project management is that it's a consensual hallucination. I first came across that term in the cyberpunk's bible, William Gibson's SF novel "Neuromancer". He used the term to describe cyberspace. I don't know if he invented either term (consensual hallucination or cyberspace) but he was certainly pivotal in popularising them.

Cyberspace doesn't exist in any physical sense in the world of Neuromancer. It's a massive computer network that can be "navigated" in a way that people can conceptualise. Which allows for some cool descriptions of pseudo-physical interactions with data. For ease of understanding, everyone treats this abstract concept as a concrete reality. They have consented to believe in the hallucination because it's easier to understand that way.

Life is full of consensual hallucinations. A polite way of saying we're surrounded by bullshit. If you live in a democracy, you tend to believe you have a say in what happens in your life. There's a tendency to ignore the reality of politicians being soulless whores who are bought and paid for by vested interests. The consensual hallucination of participatory democracy is more comforting. Voting is little more than a sideshow but life's a little easier to bear if we pretend voting can actually change anything.

In fact, pretty much any political or religious belief system is a consensual hallucination. Which is not to say that they are by definition untrue. Believe in your magic friend in the sky all you like. Who needs empirical evidence when banding together with other believers makes the consensual hallucination feel true?

And don't get me started on science. I'm a big believer in science, but that's the point. I'm a believer, by and large, not a knower. At least 98% of people who believe in science can't prove or even deeply understand much of the science they support. But we put our faith in the idea that someone smarter than us got it right.

Which gets me back to project management, specifically, how it applies in the world of IT. The consensual hallucination that permeates nearly all of IT is that the magic pixie dust of project management can reveal The Truth. People who like to think they are rational individuals tend to believe that it's possible to predict ahead of time how long a project would take, how much it will cost and everything that will happen along the way.

In the broadest possible sense, this is true. If you have enough experience you can probably do better than a wild-arsed guess. We've done something similar that took about this long so we can aim to do that again. That's logical. IT people like logical. But when someone gets the project management religion, they think they can be precise. Business people like precise. But some people are completely fucking insane when it comes to this topic.

Some people believe Project Management should tell you these things down to the day and the dollar. A project plan should tell you every task that needs to be completed. A project plan should be flawless and leave nothing to chance. And a project plan should be completed before ANY work is done on the project.

OK, take a fucking pill, man. That is straight up insanity. Despite the fact this is clearly fucked-up thinking, it's a terrifyingly common mindset in management ranks. Planning, or at least goal setting, at some level is obviously important. How the hell do you know what you're doing if you don't have any targets?

But we've descended into the seventh circle of hell when we move from "let’s have a clearly defined set of project goals and a strategy for how we’ll get there" to "this is 100% accurate, it's carved in stone and will never change, if you can't deliver according to this project plan it's because you're doing something wrong."

Here's what I think are the main drivers for elevating the myth of project management to the level of holy scripture:

  • There's a whole industry of consultants scamming a living out of it. They base their entire existence on the lie that they can provide the definitive solution to project management. They aren't about to ruin a good thing by telling the truth about their fallibility.
  • There are several rainforests worth of books published on the topic. They all apparently have the definitive answer as well. How could they possibly be wrong? You know, unless publishing all those books was a money making scam.
  • Nobody likes to look stupid. If you're a professional and someone puts you on the spot to answer "how long will this take?" it's only human to want to provide an answer. Whether you call it professional pride or ego, it's a powerful driver.
  • Programming tasks are measurable in retrospect. It's easy to make the mistake of thinking this makes them easy to predict in advance. Being able to say "for a previous project we wrote this many lines of code and it took this many hours" does not mean you can accurately say "for this completely new project we will write this many lines of code and it will take this long."
  • Very few businesses are keen to hand over an open chequebook. Because a manager demands a deadline someone provides one. Just because this stupidity keeps happening over and over doesn't make it less stupid.

So how do we escape the consensual hallucination that there is a way to do project management that is absolutely foolproof and provides definitive answers? Well, I propose we kill all the consultants. Just throw the fuckers up against the wall and shoot them. OK, maybe I won't get away with that. How about we tone it down a bit. Maybe we'll just take it out on the consultants who act like they have some mystical powers that enable them to succeed where all others have failed. We could staple their tongues to their chins.

Maybe even that's going a little too far. Surely there's a solution that doesn't involve jail time? There is no silver bullet that will solve this issue (although there’s quite a good essay entitled “No Silver Bullet“) . But there are things that can be done to improve the situation.

How about we all sit down to a big three-course serving of reality? This can save many packed lunches of pain and misery. If you're on the IT side, have the courage to say "I don't know" when that's an accurate answer. And if you're on the business side, FOR GOD'S SAKE, LISTEN! Good IT workers really don't like saying "I don't know." If they say it, they probably mean it. So stop pushing for a definitive answer when one doesn't exist.

I've spent years dealing with obnoxious managers who want an answer, any answer. They make it clear that they think the lack of an answer comes from laziness or evasiveness. Worse still, managers often insist on being given an answer even when they know the answer is wrong. That isn't being hard-nosed, it's being fucking stupid.

It's perfectly reasonable to want some sort of plan up front. I'm actually one of those funny types who believe up front planning is a necessity. So long as everyone understands an estimate is just that: an estimate. You learn as you go along and discover more detail. So you revise the estimate accordingly. For this to work, everyone involved has to listen, everyone has to be open, everyone has to be responsive.

Or we could keep flailing away with the fucked up attitude that "it has to be this way" because the sacred project plan says it's this way. Because that really is a lot of fun, isn't it?

At the end of the day, it's how people respond to the unexpected that drives whether a project will succeed or fail. So what are you going to be? A jerk who worships at the altar of whatever project management methodology is flavour of the month? Or a realist who can accept that things change and all projects can be unpredictable? Your decision makes a big difference.

For Fun

For a bit of fun I'm going to re-write one of my old, slightly more serious work-related posts in full angry mode. I've mentioned before that I have a form of multiple blog personality disorder. When I write the non-sweary more measured pieces I'm usually trying to reach a broader audience.

This approach may well be completely wrong. After all, I got eleventy-squillion views for my piece about the alli diet pill and that was me at my most potty mouthed. So as an experiment (and for a bit of fun) I'm reposting The Myth of Project Management in more or less its original form to a site called thisisby.us and I'll be doing an angry re-write here.

For those who've never heard of it, thisisby.us is a different site I'm experimenting with. The site accepts submissions from anyone and they (theoretically) pay contributors. I figure I've been doing this for long enough with no remuneration so I thought I'd give it a go. Nothing ventured, nothing gained after all.

So if you never read the original post when I first ran it, go check it out on thisisby.us and compare it to the version that will be appearing here. I'd be interested in hearing about which one you prefer.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Too cheerful

Here's a little titbit that may surprise readers of this blog: I am generally perceived to have a cheerful demeanour. The astute among you will realise that venting via blogging and videos is one of the primary reasons I am able to be cheerful the rest of the time. My disposition is greatly improved after my daily venting.

One of the things I do that makes people think I'm cheerful is whistling. I don't go over the top with it but I do frequently whistle (quietly) for no apparent reason. I've found it's self-reinforcing. Whistling is accepted to be a sign of cheerfulness. Start whistling and you tend to feel more cheerful.

I've always had a soft spot for this postcard sized sign by Sydney artist Nick Bleasel:

You can tell a lot about a person from the way they react to it. Normal humans will usually smile and maybe start whistling. Some freaks of nature will be seriously affronted by it. In one particularly dysfunctional workplace, a freakishly depressed cow-orker insisted I take it down (the postcard was stuck to my monitor). Apparently, she couldn't deal with the possibility that people might spontaneously whistle in her general vicinity. Or maybe she was opposed to cheerfulness.

In case anyone thinks I'm being overly cynical with that last point, let me give you an unpleasant truth. There are many people in this world who are actively opposed to the idea of other people being cheerful when they are not. Particularly at work.

This was brought home to me in a previous workplace where a large scale project was going seriously off the rails. People everywhere were concerned that the project would be canned and they would lose their jobs. Rightly concerned as it turned out. It was made painfully clear to me how bad morale was one day when someone asked me how I was doing.

I went beyond assuming this was a banal and meaningless piece of small talk. I responded honestly. Great, I said, I'm having a lot of fun testing some gadgets. The particular sub-project I was on involved assessing the viability of a range of signature capture and imaging hardware and software. As I'm a bit of a gadget head (OK, I'm a nerd) this was actually fun for me.

Big mistake.

Divulging that I was actually enjoying myself engendered some serious hostility. I could have dealt with someone moaning their work wasn't as interesting but I was actively attacked for having the audacity to enjoy what I was doing. Lesson learned: never tell depressed people that you're happy.
I started thinking about all of this after being told at my current workplace that I'm cheerful. Just now I passed someone while I was whistling and they commented on how cheerful I sounded. I didn't think anything of it at first. They didn't sound too resentful. But then I thought about it: this was at least the third time in the last week someone had commented on me being cheerful. A definite warning sign.

This workplace has undergone a significant amount of change in the last few months. That old corporate favourite, the "re-org" is in full swing. I'm starting to think this may be getting to people. The fact that I have already made plans to move on means I don't care about the re-org. It looks like my psychic powers have paid off again.

So that's my warning for today kids: watch out for people commenting on how cheerful you are. It may not be a negative thing at first but it's like the canary in the coalmine. It's your early warning signal that things aren't going well. The time to do something about problems is before they get serious so don't take the warning signs lightly.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Stupid interview questions

I'm not far away from entering the job market again. This means, of course, the joy of job interviews. As a contractor I go through more job interviews in about two years than most people do in their lifetimes. As a result I'm quite good at all the bullshit that's required.

One of the key things that you learn from doing hundreds of job interviews is how useless the whole process is. I suppose you can weed out the absurdly unqualified (programmers who can't complete basic programming tasks, business analysts who can't form a coherent sentence) however, they're all but useless for finding the best person for the job.

Really, interviews are little more than a thinly disguised popularity contest. Who would the interviewers most want to spend time with? If a workplace can actually admit that's their hiring process and it's done right, this is actually a pretty good way to recruit people. After all, why hire people you can't stand to be around?

But hardly anyone admits this. So you end up with this standard way of doing interviews with more or less standard questions because of course this will produce standardised results. Except it doesn't. Interviewers ask stupid questions, interviewees lie in response and interviewers make an arbitrary decision. And so the world keeps turning.

Here's a few of the questions I've had to answer hundreds of times with the kind of honest answer I wish I could get away with giving:

Q: What did you do in your last position?
A: Kept my contempt for my moronic manager concealed for long enough to complete the required work and get out without killing anyone.

Q: How do you deal with difficult co-workers?
A: I've mastered the ability to speak calmly while fixing them with a stare that makes it clear I'd step on their throat and crush their fucking windpipe if there were no witnesses.

Q: What pay rate do you want?
A: What do I want? About double what you're prepared to pay me. Can we stop pretending you care what I want?

Q: What would you say is your best quality?
A: The ability to work with morons without killing them.

Q: What would you say is your worst quality?
A: The inability to take stupid fucking questions like that seriously. What do you expect me to say? That I'm a pathological liar, thief, addicted to crystal meth and prone to violent outbursts?

Q: That's all the questions we have, do you have any questions?
A: Yeah, why do you ask such stupid fucking questions? Seriously, did you have to fail an intelligence test to get your job?

For those suffering from sarcasm blindness (an unfortunately widespread condition) I don't actually say those things in interviews. 9 times out of 10 I can work out exactly what an interviewer wants to hear and I'm an accomplished liar. I think the interviewers know that too. It's just that, if I fuck up, they like to be able to say "but he interviewed so well..."

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Introducing the Angry Frog

I was looking for something different to do this weekend. I'd shown my kids the interactive toys on ZeFrank's website and the frog in particular proved popular. It's simple enough, you talk into a microphone and the Flash-animated frog will do an approximation of lip-synching to your words.

This formed an idea in my mind when I was looking at some recently featured videos on YouTube. One that caught my attention was a simple-looking animation featuring my long-time YouTube nemesis - a cute kitty. While cute kitties are normally my most hated thing, I suspect the people who create this series of videos, known as The Pinky Show, are incredibly devious.

The animated kitty is not only cute, the voice-over is a cutesy kid's voice. And what are they using this cuteness for? To disseminate radical left wing ideology. And I mean radical. I think they read a lot of Chomsky. Plus, they do a serious amount of research before putting a video together.

The video that was featured has the intriguing title "Thomas Edison hates cats". The video explores (among other things) how Edison electrocuted cats (and one elephant) in his attempts to discredit AC and bring favour to DC. This gave me the inspiration to use the frog to respond as follows:


I also worked my way through The Pinky Show back catalogue. They've done some really interesting stuff over the last year. I don't agree with all their politics but as I said before, I admire their deviousness in delivering their sometimes radical message undeer a veneer of cuteness.

I also responded to their most recent video "Cats with guns". In this video, they give their response to someone who is angry about a t-shirt design they are selling. I have a more than passing acquaintance with people who think they have the right to tell me what I can and can't say, so I gave my view on responding to detractors:


Oh, and I don't know why the angry frog has an American accent.

Friday, July 20, 2007

xkcd video - Computational Linguistics

I'm always looking to try new things when making videos and I recently had an idea. I'm a big fan of the web comic xkcd and judging from how often it's referenced in comments, so are at least a few of my readers. I've been thinking for a while that some of the comics would lend themselves to making short videos.

Or at least they'd lend themselves to my style of no-budget video making. To be more accurate, a lot of the comics could be made into good videos. But my no-budget approach limits which ones I think I could do effectively.

So I emailed the creator, Randall Munroe, to see if he'd be OK with it. After a while he emailed back saying he was fine so long as I provided attribution which I always do anyway. Actually, the delay in his reply gave me an indication of how much email he must get. I think the technical term is "a shitload".

So here's the attribution: this first video is based on this comic about Computational Linguistics. I changed a few small things to make it topical for me. And I used me and not a stick figure. Other than that, I think I stayed true to the spirit of the original.

http://www.livevideo.com/flvplayer/embed/A7C941D1FD504506A0CB2A8C61D77E73" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" quality="high" WIDTH="445" HEIGHT="369" wmode="transparent">
XKCD'>http://www.livevideo.com/video/embedLink/A7C941D1FD504506A0CB2A8C61D77E73/283980/xkcd-computational-linguisti.aspx">XKCD - Computational Linguistics


I'll be doing more of these over the coming months (I've bookmarked a dozen or so I think I can do justice). Let me know if you have a favourite you'd like to see me attempt. No fair nominating ones that have people travelling through space and/or alternate dimensions

Thursday, July 19, 2007

SUV drivers deserve what they get

I found a funny article today via Reddit that tells of some loser who decided he could compensate for his tiny penis by buying and oversized Hummer. The damn thing was so big it wouldn't fit in his garage so he had to park it in the street. It seems his neighbours believe a Hummer is a poor choice of a vehicle. To the point where someone trashed his stupid truck.

Ha fucking ha. Couldn't happen to a nicer moron. 32, living with his mother, feels compelled to buy a stupidly oversized vehicle and fit it out with extra bling. Yeah, no issues going on there.

Now, this isn't something I'd do myself (trashing an SUV, that is). I prefer the "Toothpaste for dinner" approach - put a "God bless terrorism" sticker on them and let someone else do the work. Actually, trashing these vehicles isn't something I really advocate. Owning an oversized truck when you have no good reason for it is pretty fucking antisocial but I don't see how acting antisocial in response improves things. It's still fucking funny, though.

This story is good timing for me because I was going to blog anyway about the moron I was stuck behind in traffic the other day. I hate getting stuck behind these stupid 4WD / SUV / whatever-the-fuck-you-want-to-call-them pieces of crap. You can't see a damn thing past them. Plus, it's a safe assumption that anyone who'd buy one of the overpriced shit-heaps is a moron so they're probably going to do something stupid at any moment.

So I'm stuck behind one of these tanks and its bumper is at about my eye level. And the fuckwit who own it has put a bumper sticker on it. Surprisingly enough, it wasn't an honest sticker like "Fuck you!" It was an "environmentally conscious" sticker which read "Think about the planet."

This type of vehicle wastes an absurd and unnecessary amount of resources during manufacture then continues to waste an absurd and unnecessary amount of resources when you drive it. The level of cognitive dissonance required to put a "green" bumper sticker on such a vehicle simply astounds me.

Like I said, I don't advocate violent retribution against these morons. But in this case, an effort of supreme willpower was required. I kept imagining how satisfying it would be to drag this moron out of the driver's seat and smash their face repeatedly into the bumper sticker until they acknowledged their own stupidity.

The other thing I don't like is the fact that, as I said, the bumper of these fucking things tends to be at your eye level if you're in a normal car. It's all too easy to imagine these morons rolling right over the top of you. And the terrifying thing is, many of the people who buy these monstrosities cite that as one of their reasons. The think they're more likely to survive an accident because it seems clear that you're less likely to survive if you're on the receiving end.

This is the final nail in the coffin for these scumbags, in my opinion. It makes for a pretty disgusting excuse for a human being if you buy a vehicle specifically because of its ability to deal out horrific injury and death. I really do think these things should come with a "fuck you" sticker pre-applied. It would be much more honest. But more than marking you as an evil scumfuck, this decision marks you as even more of a moron. You know why?

It simply isn't true.

Drivers of these type of vehicles are actually statistically much more likely to be in serious accidents and suffer much worse injuries than people who drive normal cars. One of the most interesting pieces I've ever read about these crapmobiles was written by Malcolm Gladwell (I've linked to this before but it's really worth reading.) He gives great detail on how stupid the damn things are: expensive, dangerous and pointless.

And the people who build them think the people who buy them are morons.

You can't get much more blunt than describing "the mixture of bafflement and contempt that many auto executives feel toward the customers who buy their SUVs". But the article is chock-full of great reading including "SUVs tend to be bought by people who are insecure, vain, self-centered, and self-absorbed, who are frequently nervous about their marriages, and who lack confidence in their driving skills. " That little gem comes internal automotive industry research, not some green group trying to discredit them.

So if you're still convinced you need to drive one of these behemoths, don't say you weren't warned. In all likelihood you'll pay the ultimate price. Having your truck trashed by vandals should be the least of your worries. Just remember, as you proudly sit in your lofty throne, master of all you survey: everyone hates you.

Most people in the street think you're an ignorant, arrogant fuckwit. The car dealer gouging you for a massive markup can probably barely contain themselves from laughing in your face. The oil companies can't believe how stupid you are, giving them enough money to run three more sensibly sized cars. But you think you're right - reality hardly counts in the face of that, right?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Politically Incorrect

Someone I know on YouTube asked me to do a video based on the idea "It's a PC world." That's PC as in politically correct. I think. Maybe he expected me to do a Mac vs. PC video. I'm not sure what he thought the outcome would be, actually. He's on the conservative side politically and he knows I lean left.

He got mildly upset at me once when I made a video about a jaguar named after George Bush. The jaguar, Jorje, killed his handler. Jorje had a twin that the handlers described as "the evil one" who came to be called Osama. But it was Jorje who turned out to be the dangerous one and killed the person closest to him. I suggested that could be a metaphor for the real George Bush. This guy is a Bush supporter and thought I was being disrespectful.

So I made a video based on something I'd already written. It ended up running over 8 minutes which I thought might be a stretch for some people's attention spans. So I uploaded it in two parts, which I present here for your viewing pleasure. I'm also including what's essentially the text of the video in case you aren't able to watch the video (or maybe you just don't like watching videos).


Anyway, I'm sure it will come as no surprise to regular readers that I have some real problems with the concept of political correctness. The most ardent advocates for it on the left and the most ardent opponents of it on the right both make me angry. I don't like being told what to say by anyone and both sides of this "debate" have a tendency to dictate acceptable language.

Actually, what makes me really angry is that at its simplest, what is described/derided as political correctness is being nice to people, trying to make everyone feel valued and included. This straightforward and worthwhile concept ends up being railroaded by people who have their own agenda to pursue. It seems anything can start of good and be twisted into something sick and wrong.

I'm all for inclusiveness and not being unnecessarily belittling to people. I only belittle people when it's strictly necessary. That said, it's fair to say there are examples of language mangling done in support of political correctness that descend into madness. In some extreme cases it seems the desire to not say anything offensive devolves into not saying anything at all.

It's worth saying that having a point of view isn't wrong by definition. It's when you insist on the primacy of everything you think to the absolute exclusion of contradictory views that you end up in trouble. Except me. Everything I say is right. It doesn't take a genius to realise that if the left-wing political correctness conspiracy expounded by the right existed in any serious way, they'd really hate me.

And that's where I think the most common version of the political correctness bogeyman falls down. Try searching the net for politically correct and you aren't going to find a lot of site pushing you to conform to PC edicts issues by our left-wing overlords. You're going to find a bunch of right wingers foaming at the mouth about how they're being oppressed.

The fact that they are mostly white and mostly male should not, of course, colour your opinion of how hard their lives might be. There are also many non-white and female opponents (and non-white females, helloooo Michelle Malkin) but the driving force behind this is politically aggressive right-wing white males.

Looking at the evidence, you could be forgiven for thinking the notion of political correctness was invented out of whole cloth by these rabid knuckle-draggers. I find it amusing how quickly these braying fools bury themselves without seeming to realise it.

One proclaimed the horror of not being able to offend people, he was being crushed by the necessity to "avoid using words or behaviour that may upset homosexuals, women, non-whites, the crippled, the mentally impaired, the fat or the ugly." Yeah, that's a fucked-up goal right there. If I can't abuse every passing faggot, nigger, chink, dyke, retard or cripple, life isn't worth living.

Oh yeah, I found a photo of the author too. He was a fat, bald, ugly, aging white man. I'd love a chance to fire off some non-PC invective into his face.

Speaking as a card-carrying member of the loony left, I will admit that I take some trouble to not be gratuitously offensive to people based on race, gender or sexual preference. Oh shut up, I do so. One good example is I rarely use the word "cunt" in this blog. I know I did several times in yesterday's post but I was quoting.

I've discussed this with fellow YouTube loony SeanBedlam who uses it all the time. I have no problem with him using it either in videos or conversation and I'd never dictate to him how he should talk. But I generally choose to avoid it because it's too gratuitously offensive to too many people in a way I choose not to be offensive. If that makes sense.

Sometimes I probably go too far and spend too much time walking on eggshells. I remember once trying to ask where the missing member of a group was. I couldn't remember her name and was desperately trying to avoid referring to her as "the black girl". As she was the only non-white member of the group that would have made it immediately obvious who I was talking about. But I tied myself in knot to avoid calling her "the black girl". I ended up looking like a dick.

I also know the value of a good joke (I differentiate between a good joke and a joke intended solely to humiliate someone). And I know the value of stating uncomfortable truths when appropriate.


Besides which, restricting speech is hardly a practice that's exclusive to the left. You want to see a right winger oppress your right to speak freely? Try any of the following:

  • Question the integrity or intelligence of George Bush
  • Question the moral and/or strategic value of the Iraq invasion
  • Question the strategic/political/monetary/moral value of unquestioning support of Israel
  • Question any aspect of christian-centric worldview

Hypocrisy always pisses me off and that fact that PC is pushed as the ultimate evil by people who basically control the world… well, that crosses over from irony to fuckwittery. Which is totally a real word.

The reason I bring this up is that I think that the majority of real PC behaviour on the left (as opposed to insane imaginings of PC dictatorships) comes from being worried that any acknowledgment of the failings of a particular minority will be blown up by the right to condemn all minorities.

"Yes, many aborigines have substance abuse/addiction problems and don't have jobs" becomes "All abos are lazy, dole-bludging alcoholics". "Yes, that Mexican was an illegal immigrant who murdered someone so we would have been better off if we had stopped him from getting into the country" becomes "All Mexicans are murdering illegal immigrants and we should throw them all out and build a wall."

For instance, there are very serious issues in some remote aboriginal communities in Australia, revolving around child abuse, alcoholism and poverty. There are already examples of this being taken up by tabloid muckrakers and racists as evidence that "it's all the abos' fault." There is a world of difference between saying that aboriginal people have to take responsibility for making changes in their community and saying white people have no responsibility in the matter.

But we all know how opposed right-wingers are to the stifling of public debate. Any evidence you have that they try to crush anyone who opposes their view is all in your imagination.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Greatest ever song titles

I wrote a post last year about my favourite song lyrics of all time. It still gets regular hits and I've been meaning to follow it up for ages with some of my favourite song titles. I was pushed along in this direction the first time I heard Jarvis Cocker's "Cunts are still running the world".

Apparently Jarvis doesn't think the current wave of "socially conscious" rock festivals (like Live8) are achieving much and this song was his response. You can check it out on his MySpace page if you're so inclined.

Because I am both angry and extremely immature, an in-your-face title like that with swearing included appeals to me. A theme you'll see repeated in the list below. Another common theme is long song titles. For some reason I tend to find long song titles funny. Maybe because they aren't used very often they stand out more. Anyway, without further ado, my list (as always, feel free to add your own selections):

"Why don't you all get fucked?" - Skyhooks
Skyhooks were very big in Australia in the 70s. This song is from the tail end of their career so maybe it was a desperate grab for attention. I thought the lyrics were hilarious when I was at school and I still think they're hilarious today. I particularly like towards the end when the singer basically goes on a spoken word rant saying "Why don't you and you and you and you And your rotten friends too Why don't you and him and not forgettin' you Why dontcha all get fucked?!"

"You are the generation that bought more shoes and you get what you deserve" - Johnny Boy
Either very deep or very fatuous, I'm not sure. It has the bonus of being a pretty good pop song too (See the video on YouTube here)

"Regretting What I Said to You When You Called Me 11:00 On a Friday Morning to Tell Me that at 1:00 Friday Afternoon You're Gonna Leave Your Office, Go Downstairs, Hail a Cab to Go Out to the Airport to Catch a Plane to Go Skiing in the Alps for Two Weeks, Not that I Wanted to Go With You, I Wasn't Able to Leave Town, I'm Not a Very Good Skier, I Couldn't Expect You to Pay My Way, But After Going Out With You for Three Years I DON'T Like Surprises!" - Christin Lavin
I'm not sure if this is the longest song title in the world but it must be close. It's usually summarised as "Regretting what I said..." and it's subtitled "A musical apology". It's also a very funny song. Christine Lavin is a folkie kind of singer/songwriter from New York and she's also one of the best live performers I've ever seen. She also invented the term "Sensitive New Age Guy" (and I was the first person in Australia ever to be called a SNAG - by her). She's a genius.

"Sick with the taste of truckers' come" - Machine Gun Fellatio
Someone had to write a song about truck stop whores I guess. Australian band MGF were the ones to come up with the lyrics to do such an important subject justice.

"The saddest thing I've ever seen was smokers outside the hospital door" - Editors
Some unusual lyrics and I've actually seen this in real life. Outside a cardiac unit at a hospital. Smokers pushing their drips alongside them because even though they're nearly fucking dead they won't stop smoking. Waste of fucking money treating these people.

"I might be a cunt but I'm not a fucking cunt" - This Is Serious Mum
Another Australian band (filthy-mouthed bastard, aren't we?) TISM wore masks for their whole career to protect their anonymity (another reason I like them). I think they were sick of not being really famous when they recorded this number - it seems a premeditated grab for notoriety. They did actually earn the ire of the arch-conservative Bruce Ruxton who was then head of the Returned Services League (RSL). The fact that he wrote a letter of complaint marks perhaps the only time in history the word "cunt" has appeared under RSL letterhead.

"I want to spill the blood of a hippy" - Doug Anthony All Stars
Don't we all feel like this some days? Besides writing funny songs, DAAS were also very good live performers. Check out a YouTube video example here.

"I like your old stuff better than your new stuff" - Regurgitator
I like this one because it was the first track on their second album, thus neatly heading off the usual bullshit bands get as their career progresses. They also released a rock version as a single titled "I like your old remix better than your new remix". Regurgitator changed style regularly but they always remained masters of irony with lines like "They’re fucked now and they’re sure not what they used to be".

"My spine is the bassline" - Shriekback
The perfect song title for a band who were all about the bass and the funk.

"A plane scraped its belly on a sooty yellow moon" - Roni Size and Sould Coughing (from the Spawn soundtrack)
Remember that fad in the 90s of teaming up dance/pop acts with metal/hardcore acts to make movie soundtracks? This was from one of those ventures. The track is OK but I just like the nonsensical title.

"Clubbed to death" - Rob Dougan
A simple and clever title. This club instrumental was made famous when it was included on the soundtrack for "The Matrix". I just love the elegance of the pun in the title.

"Shut the fuck up" - The Deadly Hume
A fringe band from the 80s. They were based in Sydney and were named after a notoriously dangerous highway. And they summed up my life philosophy with that song. Soon to appear on a Mr Angry t-shirt.

Speaking of which, I'd better finalise that competition. Damn. Another day.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Vagina of a 20 year old virgin filled with semen

Now there's some guaranteed search engine bait. One more post title to draw the pornhounds to my blog. But despite the seemingly gratuitous title I make two pledges:

  1. It's actually an accurate title for the content of the post

  2. There's actually some hardcore graphic content so the pornhounds won't be disappointed. Especially the fans of "internals".

This all comes about because I was doing some research into fertility on the weekend. This is not code for "I spent the weekend looking at porn". If I spent the weekend looking at porn I would say so. I think my readers could deal with it. But this was some serious research.

In the course of this research I happened across what is know as the Billings Ovulation Method. I'm sure anyone who's had cause to investigate fertility will have come across this concept. It's essentially supposed to help you determine the most fertile times of the month for women. To illustrate their information they use the following image of a 20 year old virgin's vagina (this is the hot graphic stuff I was promising the pornhounds):

Is that hot or what? The arrows are pointing to various types of sperm that meet various fates. It's good to know what happens to the little soldiers. My first thought on seeing this image was "man, that's hot!" My second thought was "Why the hell was this guy so specific?" Why the need to tell us it was a 20 year old virgin? That's porn site specific. I think we're seeing the whole reason this guy got into gynecology. He has some very specific kinky fetishes.

Then a far more important thought occurred to me. Why does a virgin of any age have a vagina full of semen? Or more to the point, how does a 20 year old virgin end up with a vagina full of semen? OK, I know the general method of semen delivery but that would exclude the "virgin" part of the description.

So I'm thinking this guy is not only kinky, he's very gullible: "No, honest dad, I'm still a virgin. It's perfectly normal for a 20 year old virgin to have a vagina full of semen."

These are the sorts of thoughts that occupy my weekends, anyway.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Friday the 13th

A scary video for Friday the 13th. Triskaidekaphobics beware!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Who am I responsible to?

So I had this weird turn of events overnight. I was checking out my YouTubes (this is not another rant about how YT sucks, I promise - I got that out of my system yesterday) and saw an interesting piece from one of my favourite YouTubers, Mr Safety. He makes a range of stuff, usually comedy under the name SMPFilms.

But yesterday he did something really different and enigmatic. I don't usually post other people's videos but in this case I'll do it for illustration purposes:


I really liked this, there's a lot crammed into that 20 seconds. I found it enigmatic - lots of possibilities suggested but you don't learn anything definite. And it suggest a much larger story. So I decided to do something similar, almost a scene from a movie that doesn't exist. Here's where the weirdness kicks in.

I'm going to explain the video first, in an attempt to minimise any weirdness here. This is intended as a classic action film setup. The bad guys have killed the hero's family in the hope that will break him. Instead, it has the opposite effect, galvanising him into action. He has nothing left to lose now and he's going to get his revenge or die trying. And to be honest, I was also experimenting with a few video and audio effects I don't normally use.

Here's my slightly longer video (24 seconds), moody voiceover and all:


This is where things got weird for me. The first commenter was a semi-regular commenter who was extremely peeved at what he saw as my "suicide video". That floored me. I hadn't even considered that people could take it that way. Then I watched it within YouTube and noticed there was only one gunshot at the end after the video goes dark. Something with the uploading process had cut of the multiple gunshots I had actually put at the end of the video to suggest the hero was starting a big gun battle.

OK, I can see how this can make it look more like a suicide. You know, if you totally ignore the voiceover dialogue. And you know nothing about action movies. This would normally be a "whatever" moment for me but this guy is really insistent. He is straight up demanding that I take the video down because it's irresponsible to suggest suicide in a video.

Who here can guess at how I respond to being TOLD what to do?

What really pissed me off was that his reading of the video was totally wrong. Despite the fact his conclusions about the video were wrong, he was convinced I had to base my actions on his incorrect interpretation, not my actual intention. He kept commenting and commenting saying how wrong the video was. He made a 7 minute video ranting about how wrong my 24 second video was. Essentially he had a serious bug up his arse about the issue, which suggests to me he has some history with the issue of suicide.

Now, I have a bit of a history with this guy so I gave him the benefit of the doubt. I gave him some reasoned responses (a LOT of responses) but made it clear there was no way I was taking the video down. All without telling him to fuck off (a complete stranger who pulled this shit would most definitely be told to fuck off in no uncertain terms.)

It's similar to what I went through after writing a post about a year ago entitled "I'm going to kill myself." It had nothing to do with actual suicidal thoughts, it was all about how frustrating Microsoft products are to use. But ever since then I've been getting search engine traffic almost every day with some variation of "I'm going to kill myself". And I regularly get comments on that post from people claiming to be suicidal.

This is what we in the trade call "fucking creepy." I did edit that post to put some stuff at the top saying essentially "ummm... don't do it." It's severely unsettling when one's utterly inconsequential and shallow rantings attract such sad people. I suggest to them they pause in their plans long enough to read some of my posts - maybe they'll get a laugh and it will distract them long enough to make it through another day.

So what is my responsibility with these things? Personally, I lean towards "just this side of fuck-all". I don't think I do much that is actively destructive to delicate psyches but I don't think it's realistic (or even possible) to suggest that I vet every single thing I say or write with the most vulnerable individual in mind. Besides which, I think that would make for some seriously boring blogging.

The guy on YouTube actually made the comment "is there some inner meaning, something that is going to elevate people to a higher understanding of life?" Oh. My. Fucking. God. I'm supposed to be elevating people to a higher understanding of life now?

I'm seriously screwed.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

It's official: YouTube hates ordinary users

Fuck YouTube.

I think I've said that before. But the way YouTube ordinary users just makes me so fucking angry. And they seem to be getting worse. They don't fix basic flaws, like the fact their commenting system is fucked. They ignore the fact that all their measurement metrics (most viewed, highest rated, most comments) are routinely and blatantly scammed. And they continue to offer almost no communication to users.

And don't get me started on their choices for featured videos! Actually, get me started. Then you'll see all my complaints are in fact driven by my ego. Being featured is a guarantee of massive exposure. And holy crap, they choose to feature some utter shit. I may not make the greatest videos in the world but without exaggeration, mine are better than 80-90% of what gets featured.

It's bad enough when they feature stupid fucking animal videos (not even good animal videos - most of them are boring.) But they have a habit of featuring videos that are outright insults to the majority of users. At least twice they've featured videos that did nothing but humiliate other users. And the way they attacked others wasn't even particularly funny. And in the last week they've featured two high profile users (going by the names of LittleLoca and LisaNova) which is essentially a colossal "fuck you" to ordinary users.

First, they're already high profile, they don't need the fucking exposure. Second, they're both notorious for gaming the system, fraudulently boosting their viewing statistics and/or spamming other users. And it was made worse by LizaNova's video essentially being a wacky and crazy joke about how everyone's pissed off at her for spamming. It's OK YouTube, we get the message. You fucking hate us.

So you know what? I've decided caring about this shit is a waste of time. Tell us we're worthless pieces of shit in your eyes, YouTube. That's fine. You're running a big business. Why should you give a shit about us. So I'll just take what I can get. The free hosting of videos is pretty good. And you never know, I might still get "discovered" despite being ignored by YouTube for more than a year.

Besides, I'm having fun. I've been asked many times over the last year by YouTube viewers if I'd give up if I didn't get "famous". My answer's always been no, I'll quit when I stop having fun. So fuck you YouTube. You piss me and millions of others off and you couldn't care less. Fine by me. I can enjoy myself despite your best/worst efforts.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Why an average career can be a great career

I'm at the point of changing jobs, which usually gets me thinking deep(ish) thoughts about what I want out of my next job. I’m sure most people ask themselves the question, from time to time, “What am I doing with my life?”

Why am I stuck in this dead end job? Don’t I deserve better? Why aren’t I writing that great novel? I should be trekking the Himalayas. I’ve never been to Paris in the springtime. I work in IT and in the IT world we seem to be constantly asking ourselves “Why aren’t I working on the next killer app that will change the world?”

Most of the literature I’ve read on this subject seems to contain the implicit message “It’s because you suck.” True, I haven’t found anyone honest enough to actually phrase it that way. But the consistent message I've seen is you aren’t achieving greatness because you aren’t trying hard enough. To an extent, that’s true but if you really look at it as a logical proposition, in many cases it simply doesn’t hold up.

Greatness is a comparative term - high achievers look good because their accomplishments are so far above everybody else’s. If everyone moves closer to greatness, the measure of what is great moves further away by definition. Even if everyone continually improves, only a small percentage will ever be regarded as truly great because they’re great in comparison to everyone else.

This doesn't excuse wilfully mediocre (or worse) behaviour but I am calling into question the attitude that “I will not be happy unless I am the greatest in my chosen field.” It’s good to aspire to improve but is there really any value in continually obsessing about being the best? The unavoidable outcome of this type of thinking is 98% of us are going to end up disappointed.

I'm sure this attitude exists in every field of endeavour but it seems more prevalent in the IT industry than others. I remember a quote from the late 90’s dotcom boom that the speaker doubtless thought was insightful and inspirational: “I don’t want my obituary to say: He improved the company’s e-commerce efficiency by 5%”

That sort of fatuousness really pisses me off. The only thing that pisses me off more is someone in a black turtle-neck and trendy glasses telling me the reason I think their concept sucks is because “I don’t get it.”

When you look at it objectively, at least 8 out of 10 of IT jobs are limited to this sort of "5% improvement" achievement. IT development isn’t a never-ending series of epiphanies and flashes of brilliance. For most people, most of the time, it’s a long, slow grind. If more and more people achieve what they thought would be “life changing” moments then these achievements would actually lose value. Less and less things will seem like they actually are life changing.

At some point, this perpetual urging towards greatness crosses over from being inspirational / aspirational to being downright cruel. I think everyone should always be looking for ways to improve and even the crappiest job can give a sense of satisfaction if done well. But face it - we aren’t all going down in history and that fact alone shouldn’t make us feel like failures.

I like reading articles that show a “best of the best” approach being deployed in the real world to impressive effect. I'm not a complete cynic - I actually enjoy being inspired. At the smaller end of town, I've long been a fan of Joel Spolsky’s website. His posts on hiring processes at his company show a very well thought out way to get what he sees as the best people working for him.

A post from Steve Yegge shows this quest for excellence being deployed on a huge scale at Google. It starts off by slagging off Agile development (which is really funny if you’re a nerd like me) but the meat of it is a description of working practices at Google.

While Yegge’s piece is among my favourite pieces of writing on software development, it’s also a little depressing. Just coming to terms with how far my work environment is from Google is tough. I’m not motivated enough to get a job at Google (arguably I’m not talented enough but I prefer to live in denial) and very few other workplaces will ever be run in a similar manner to Google.

When I read of the “perks” etc at Google it really seemed that these were fundamental to their success. Google isn’t successful in spite of their programmers being spoiled (by most corporate standards), Google is successful because their programmers are spoiled (some say they are babied and become dependent on Google - a smart HR practice if you ask me).

This sort of treatment is never going to be widespread, not because it isn’t economically viable (Yegge paints a convincing portrait of this as Google’s very reason for economic success) but because most workplaces suck. Most bosses simply couldn’t stand treating IT staff that well and no amount of cost/benefit analysis will convince them otherwise.

The majority of IT workers will have experienced resentment from both management and non-IT staff. Sometimes it’s implicit, sometimes it’s overt: “why are you complaining? You already earn more than everybody else.” This is despite the fact that basic economics shows that a worker is unlikely to be paid well if they don’t provide commensurate economic benefit to the company (I’m talking workers, not management). Google looks like the decadence of ancient Rome to tight-fisted employers.

In the end, not only are most of us not going to be as spoiled as Google workers, we won’t change the world either. A far more sensible approach would be to have realistic workplace goals and maybe even look for fulfilment outside of work (god forbid!) I recommend snarting a snarky blog where you lash out at everything that makes you angry. Not enough people are blogging

I know many people would argue that we should always aim for lofty goals no matter how unrealistic they are. After all, isn’t it better to try and fail than to never make the attempt?

I’ll repeat my earlier point; I’m not actively encouraging people to be deliberately mediocre. But isn’t someone who sets realistic goals and maybe even helps improve the life of one or two people going to be more fulfilled than someone who spends their whole life following a series of doomed, quixotic quests to save the world?

If you have it in you to be one of the very top performers in your chosen field then it’s a waste to not aim for the very pinnacle. I’m a big believer in setting goals that are outside your comfort zone - you’re never going to reach your potential without setting a few goals that scare you.

But who exactly is served if we set ourselves goals that are so far beyond what is realistically achievable we spend our lives feeling like miserable failures? Either we find a way to make a "mediocre" career with average achievements a great career or the vast majority of us are doomed to a life of disappointment.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Web 2.0 is a government plot!

I have come to the conclusion that this whole "Web 2.0", user created content craze is a fiendish government plot. We've learned about the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping. We can see the UK turning into a surveillance state with what seems like more CCTV cameras than people. All over the world, government are inflicting repressive measures on their people.

But I've uncovered the real plot.

Blogging, Flickr, Wikipedia, YouTube, MySpace and all the rest... they're nothing but a global conspiracy to trick the populace into voluntarily giving up all their secrets. And it works way better than kidnapping people off the streets and spiriting them off to another country where you can torture them. The CIA does that for fun, not for information.

I've read articles that show how easy it would be to rob, stalk or kill someone based solely on information the victim makes public. I've seen one of the highest profile people on YouTube give out so much identifying information that literally anybody could find his home address. Sucks to be his family. And there are no end of stories (some apocryphal) of children placing themselves in harm's way via "social networking" sites.

And this is what people do without being deliberately tricked. Just wait until someone who actually understands how technology works gets into power. You want to know what jihadis are really up to? Set up a series of blogs/MySpace accounts/YouTube accounts making inflammatory anti-Islam statements. Make another set that are pro-jihad/anti-American. Check the I.P addresses of viewers and commenters. Find out what other sites the ones who seem particularly scary are involved in.

Hey presto! No wire tapping, no crushing of civil liberties. All you do is use the internet to let people out themselves. People, generally, are stupid. People act with very little thought for long term consequences. This is why the death penalty doesn't work as a deterrent. It works if you want revenge but it doesn't work as a deterrent. Actually, in all honesty, I'd be very surprised if this isn't happening already.

There have been several high profile instances of police busting pedophiles via the internet (including ones so badly managed that a huge number of people have probably been falsely accused.) So the same sort of sting set up for political purposes is hardly a stretch. It's just that I have very little faith in the intelligence of the people running western governments. Or maybe it's more a case that they have very little faith in their citizens. Hyperbole and fear-mongering seem to serve them well, so why should they waste too much time actually serving and protecting the populace in any meaningful way?

Every time people protest government incursions into their privacy the refrain "you have nothing to worry about if you've done nothing wrong" is heard. I'm starting to think the younger generations are getting so used to the idea of making everything about themselves public, that mantra will be unnecessary. When making every aspect of your life public is the norm (down to minute-to-minute Twittering) there will be no secrets.

It reminds me of the small town where I grew up. Everybody knew everybody else's business. Strangers were viewed with suspicion because we didn't know them intimately. Anyone local who dared to keep secrets or stray outside accepted norms was looked upon darkly. If they were lucky, being an outcast was the only repercussion.

Won't it be fun when wanting to maintain some shred of privacy is the only excuse the government needs to arrest you? And not laying every aspect of your life open online will raise all the suspicion necessary in the minds of a jury of your "peers" for a guaranteed conviction.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The greatest day of my life

What was the greatest day of your life?

That's a question that gets thrown around a lot, particularly in movies. It's often used as a device to show you some "inner truth" about a character. Once you know what the greatest day of their life is, you discover their true self.

I have to admit, that isn't how I view my life. I've had lots of good days and intend to have many more. But I don't see any one day as being the greatest, I have trouble even thinking that way. With that in mind I did this video featuring the "old man" character from my play "This Is The Sea".

This is one of the things I do for a change of pace, to stop myself from getting too bored. With any luck, my audience likes the change of pace too. I posted a first piece with this character last month (it's here in case you missed it and feel like catching up). Here's the latest:

So how about you? What do you think of the idea? Is there a day that you can point to that is the greatest day of your life?

Saturday, July 07, 2007

7/7/7 - a big day in New York

For normal humans who don't give a shit about what happens on YouTube, the fact that there was a big get-together organised for 07/07/07 (today as I'm writing this) would not be interesting. I hadn't been paying much attention to it because I couldn't go and also because so many people were acting like dicks about it.

But just yesterday I received a surprising message relating to the gathering, as I relate in this video:


When I made this video I was actually on the wrong track regarding why my name would be falsely listed on the YouTube meetup website as an attendee. I was following the slightly weird idea that someone might be planning to impersonate me. I've since received a few more messages that spell out the real reason. It's more boring.

And more pathetic.

I've been informed by several people that a significant number of listed "attendees" never had any intention of going and had never given the slightest indication that they would be there. The conclusion being drawn is that the people running the website were (shock, horror) lying about who was attending to try and convince more people to attend.

Pretty fucked up really.

Anyway, I hope it goes well and people enjoy themselves. Whatever happens is likely to have an impact on a meetup in Australia that had been nominally planned for November. This is one I am planning on attending. And that will be a whole different dramafest.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Sick internet perverts spread their Goatse porn

Somebody has to think of the children.

Long term readers will know this is something I'm particularly concerned about: internet porn. The fact that I continually give leading titles to posts that lead desperate pornhounds here should not fool you. I am pledged to fight against the filth of the internet polluting innocent minds. No, really.

I've been on the net for quite a while. Back in the mid 90s a friend and I played a game where we would email each other the grossest image we could find. The basic rule was you had to respond with something grosser than what had been sent previously. The game eventually stop when we descended to far. We learned an important lesson: that game has no winner.

One of the most notorious bits of internet grossness is known as goatse. I'm not going to give much in the way of description on this blog. But I will provide a link that describes it... accurately. Explicitly. Without actually inflicting the image on you. But before providing the link, I will provide a warning.

Don't go there.

Seriously. If you aren't already familiar with goatse, trust me, you don't want to be. There are some things you can't un-see. If you get my drift. If your mind has been spared this particular horror then cling to that little bit of purity. Don't lose that. It's precious.

Before I give you the link that explains goatse, I'm going to provide you with a warning link. This is what happens if you search for "first goatse" on Flickr. You get a bunch of images of people seeing goatse for the first time. Ask yourself if you really want to share that horror.

If you're determined to discover what I'm on about, here's a link to the Wikipedia article explaining what goatse is. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Those who already know what goatse is and those who read the article will have no doubt what this image is:

inside goatse

It's obviously an internal view of goatse. This image was in my local paper! The cover story was that they were illustrating some story about recycling plastic bags. But they aren't fooling me. They've obviously placed a digital camera... inside the subject and taken a picture. You can see the veins and everything.

And can I just add: that guy looking in? He's enjoying himself waaaaaaay too much

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Happy 4th of July!

A little late, I know, but I thought I'd take the time to wish my American readers a happy 4th of July. I'm a big fan of the good things about America and as for the bad things... well, I'm not sure it's really my place to say.

Here's a 4th of July video greeting anyway:

And while I'm on the subject of Australian/American relations, here's an old favourite you may not have seen. One of my YouTube subscribers was about to go into the armed forces and wanted an honest appraisal of how Americans were viewed overseas. Well, I can't speak for everyone but here's my take on what Australians think of Americans.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

A simple misunderstanding

We live in troubled times. It's a lucky thing I don't have brown skin. If there was any chance of somebody suspecting I was Muslim then my habit of screaming "If you don't leave me the fuck alone, people will start dying!" would get me into more trouble than it already does.

I had a simple misunderstanding with someone at work today that could easily have spiraled out of control. You know when you walk around a blind corner and almost bump into someone? The way you have a tendency to jump a little, do a little double-take as you realise there's someone directly in your path?

I had that situation at work today but the woman involved went a bit over the top. She actually shrieked a little and clutched her heart as if she was having a heart attack. No, she wasn't having a heart attack. Not to the best of my knowledge anyway. I'm not callous enough to mock a cow-orker for having a heart attack. OK, yes I am, but that isn't what happened in this case.

I thought her reaction was a bit over the top. After all, it wasn't as if I was a crazed madman wielding a knife. OK, I was actually carrying a knife. But that isn't the same as wielding. And I have a headcold at moment. So right at that moment I was wheezing and snorking a bit. But still, she was weird.

If the knife had been bloodstained I could understand her reaction. But the red stains on it were from the pie I had been slicing. Definitely not blood. And I obviously wasn't planning to stab anybody. I did stumble a little as I rounded the corner, so my arm... wavered a bit. It might have looked a bit like a stabby-stabby motion.

All I'm saying is the troubles of these modern times have made people way too paranoid. I mean, if we can't stagger around the workplace, breathing heavily, making stabbing motions with big, sharp, red-stained knives then the terrorists have already won.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

This blog has multiple personality disorder

I'm sure I'm not the only one who's noticed this blog has multiple personality disorder. It's the blog that has the problem, by the way, not me. The fact that I treat the blog as a separate entity rather than simply something I write is not an indication of a mental disorder.

There's the general reason I started the blog, to vent about stupid shit that makes me angry. Then there's the times I write about work issues in a more serious way (with less swearing). Then there's the time I respond to world events in an at least slightly serious way. And the times I respond to world events in an utterly frivolous and childish way. And, of course, the videos.

There are times when I think I should be more consistent. Or at least more coherent. Then I remember that no bastard is paying me for this. That tends to justify my idea that "this blog is about whatever the fuck I want it to be about." Subject to change without notice.

Sometimes I think I should take the easy way out. Or at least what would be the easy way for me. That would be to spend my time always writing pieces in response to current events. The main reason I don't do that is because this is what I see as the biggest weakness of the blogosphere. Namely, the vast majority of blogs are about commenting on what is being done elsewhere.

I want to be the one other people are writing about dammit!

So there you go, I don't have multiple personality disorder. That's the blog's problem. I have Narcissistic personality disorder.

Monday, July 02, 2007

My brain hates me

I have decided my brain hates me because it gives me great ideas at really inappropriate times. For instance I'll be stuck in a really boring meeting and it will suddenly strike me that this would make excellent blog fodder. This might seem fine to you but I get so absorbed in thinking about how I'm going to call the presenter "Mr Jowly-Head" and write about how he tried to kill us with a 72 slide presentation that I completely lose track of what's going on around me.

This actually seems like a pretty good option to me as well. Right up to the point Mr Jowly-Head asks me for a response. When I stare at him in silence, he thinks it's because I wasn't paying attention. He's only partly right.

I'm silent because I'm desperately fighting down the urge to say: "I'm sorry, I shut down my higher brain functions as a protective measure in case your freakish levels of boringness were infectious."

Last night my brain was messing with me again by giving me a good idea about half an hour before I wanted to go to bed. I'd been playing with my kids all weekend and hadn't made any new videos. This always makes me feel vaguely guilty. I know this is stupid because nobody except me compels me to make these damn videos. But it still feels like I'm being lazy. It worries me far more than writing blog posts while I'm at work.

The reason this good idea was a problem is it was going to take me at least four hours to make and edit the video. It was a good idea but it was a complicated one. I had an inspiration to do a video response to a featured video on YouTube. The video posed some deep philosophical questions. In my response I was going to be a smartarse. There's a bit of time pressure if you're trying to score some viewers by responding to a featured video (as was my intention) - most of the viewers see a featured video in the first 24-48 hours.

I shot the video quickly and spent about half an hour on the editing. This got me about 1/10th of the way through the editing required. I had this stupid idea of a disembodied, otherwordly voice talking to me. Once I get these ideas in my head I get a bit obsessed will following through on them. I did the off-screen voice as well as the on screen performance and it was taking a while to get the timing right.

As recently as six months ago, my obsession probably would have taken over. I would have kept going with this video until it was done. No matter how long that took. Fortunately, my doctor recently prescribed a regimen of "calm the fuck down and get some perspective" for me. (NB I'm not actually on any prescription - this is just a figure of speech)

So I saved my progress and went to bed. Which turned out to be a doubly good thing to do. Since waking up I've thought of a much easier way to do the video. So you may even see it soon. Despite the fact that it will be completed a bit late to cash in on the featured video. But at least I have a bit more balance in my life these days.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

I am NOT a sell-out

One of the many tiresome behaviour patterns on YouTube is the number of self-appointed watchdogs who spend all their time "exposing" people for being sellouts. It never ceases to amaze how how tiny-minded people can be. Anyone who pays attention to my writing on this blog will know I hold humans generally in very low regard.

I spend my whole life expecting the worst of people and I'm rarely disappointed (readers of this blog excepted, you're all fabulous people). Besides the fact that setting the bar so low almost always results in an accurate estimation of human behaviour, those rare instances when someone actually behaves decently seem all the better.

YouTube, on the other hand, is almost guaranteed to throw up new lows of behaviour almost every day. It's full of morons, racists, low-lifes and psychopaths. The actual value of these people's opinions seems to be inversely proportional to the venom and violence with which they spew it forth.

I've noticed from my early days on YouTube that it's full of people who are absolutely sure that they alone hold the wisdom to know what is and isn't acceptable on YouTube. I remember laughing at the person who decreed that only personal video blogs should be allowed on YouTube - anyone who dared to do comedy, music or any other sort of performance should be thrown off. Their delivery suggested they actually expected to be taken seriously.

More recently, as this whole online shtick has started to look like a viable money making venture YouTube has been crawling with people decrying anyone who dares to even consider monetary reward. The absurd thing is how many of these "purists" lump together completely unrelated behaviour like simply asking for money (what's become known as e-begging), selling merchandise (t-shirts, DVDs etc.) and any sort of commercial enterprise (being paid to make videos, sponsorpship etc.)

Anyway, I'm scared of being censured by these purists so I made this video to reassure everyone that I am NOT a sell-out!