Sunday, November 28, 2010

Fan Art

One of my favourite things that have come out of creating the "Angry Aussie" character is the contributions fans of my work have made. From people who have collaborated in videos to people who have created music especially for me (notably NSG, Vortex and Blordough) to people who have created artworks, I've been continually surprised and delighted by people's contributions. Not least because I've never asked people to do these things for me; they felt inspired to do it themselves.

I am always blown away by the work DrakeMagnum does for me (it features on the backrops I use for videos and several t-shirts) and he's just done this piece which makes for an awesome commemoration of the recent visit to Australia by my friend Cory AKA Mr Safety of SMP Films.

This piece is inspired by this video shot in Adelaide:

And just because I like theme, here are a few more DrakeMagnum designs:

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Assassin's Creed

In many and indeed most cultures, the killing or assassination of enemies is sanctioned and sometimes even encouraged in their warrior traditions.

For example, the Bushido holds that the warrior is as a cherry blossom - brief and beautiful and doomed. Comparable to the beliefs of the Amerindians whose mantra of "Today is a good day to die" propelled the warrior into a state of selfless focus and allowed him to kill guiltlessly without fear of death.

Consider the desert assassins from Arabia and Africa - their technique was to become the wind and the sand, assuming an elemental aspect similar to the Shaolin monks whose reverence for life is suspended while they were a force of nature.

Of course, in a lot of cases, such as the Incas and Aztecs, killing became ordained. Made holy by sacrifice and sacred duty. As with the chivalric knights Templar, a vigil or prayer and fasting is observed before the killing, making it a de facto church execution thus guaranteeing absolution from sin.

Mr Lurksalot has his own philosophy:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Adventures in online video

Thinking I could make a living by making online content, specifically YouTube videos, was not a terrible idea. I may have jumped the gun with giving up a regular day job as the revenue growth from YouTube has so far been less than stellar. Good, but not enough to support me full time. So I'll probably have to go back to a day job after Christmas.

That's a real middle class white man's problem, isn't it? Complaining that I might have to work for a living like everyone else. Ignoring the huge number of people who don't even have that as an option, who face a real struggle when they look for employment.

But that's my problem so sod it.

And I'm a little more frustrated than usual because of system failures tonight. Sat down to edit a video and the software keeps crashing before I can start. Windows does this shit. This problem usually happens straight after a Windows "update" but the glitch usually works itself out after a few restarts. Or in a day or so.

It's kind of tragic that in this modern age one of the most common technical fixes is still "Have you tried turning it off and on again?" So until that works, no new videos. In lieu of a video, here's a photo:

I really enjoyed my recent trip to England.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


I thought I'd see how many Three Letter Acronyms I could squeeze into the title. For my Weekly TFU (Totally Fucked Up) Friday video, the central story I commented on was the new invasive "security" procedures being put in place at airports in the USA by the TSA. There are many reasons this is TFU - itdoesn't work, it's being abused and there are much less invasive options that would work better.

What interests me is that the TSA may have finally pushed things too far. All of their bullshit procedures have been more about theatre than effectiveness - it seems the appearance of doing something is more important than actually doing something effective. But this seems to be the tipping point. I've never seen so much negative press and threats of public revolt at any of their other ridiculous charades. All of which is leading up to a proposed Opt Out Day. And some truly inventive suggestions for revenge.

An unexpected bonus was when an excerpt from this video was used to illustrate a story on CNN. Seeing as that is unlikely to be a permanent link, plus my appearance is so brief you might miss it if you blink, here's a screen grab to prove I was there:

CNN screen grab

This is about the fourth time this presenter, Jeanne Moos, has used one of my videos to illustrate one of her stories (she does the "off beat" stories). I should make friends with her - maybe I can get a whole video on CNN one day.

Monday, November 15, 2010

I went to Adelaide recently - my first visit to the city and now I can finally say I've been to every state and territory capital city in Australia. Go me! There were two puposes to the trip. One was to go to the wedding of these fine people:

The second was to meet up with my long time YouTube friend, Cory Williams AKA Mr Safety of SMP Films. We saw dolphins:

We also collaborated on quite a few videos which will be appearing soon. I think we both agreed that in a perfect world I'd travel to the states once a year and he'd travel here once a year so we could work together every six months. But to make that work I need to either earn a lot more or get a wealthy benefactor. In the meantime, here's an emu!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cream Tea in Banwell Castle

This is the first HD video from my recent trip to the UK. It's the start of my road trip Steve AKA EvilB which eventually headed north the Edinburgh then back down to London. We started off going on a drive with Pete AKA Pazvibes to meet up with Nathan AKA Paradigma and Steffi AKA DeliriumReal/SaraParker in Weston Super Mare (North Somerset). They took us up to Banwell Castle for cream tea - you can't really get much more English than that.

The music is by Pete's band The Martin Harley Band from their album "Drumrolls for Somersaults".

Friday, October 22, 2010

Farmville before the Internet

Having kids who are deeply into online games like Farmville can be a bit weird. The insistence of "I can't let my crops wither" seems a little disconnected from reality from time to time.

Now, I get computer games. I enjoy them. So I'm not about to go on a "you kids need to get outside into the real world" rant. Although that's not a bad idea. Just stay off my lawn. Farmville I avoid - I'm more of a Zombie Farm kind of guy:

Double Rainbow - so intense!
Double Rainbow - so intense!

My recent trip to the UK with my partner had many high points but one of the fun surprises was seeing a play set of hers from about 40 years ago that showed the more things change, the more they stay the same. This play set involves dozens of tiny plastic pieces that you put together to make and decorate a farm - Farmville before the internet or home computers!

Just like Farmville, with this toy you got a basic set that is designed to get you hooked so you spend money upgrading to more features and pretty things. You can move the components around as much as you like for many different looks.

They even provide a custom tool for inserting the flowers and other decorative items into position.

After playing with it for a few minutes we both wished you could still buy this in shops. I guess the addictive nature of this and its similarities to Farmville shows the more things change, the more they stay the same.

And just for a sense of perspective and scale, here's my massive head next to the farm:

Sunday, October 10, 2010

English Faggots

That's some shameless linkbait in that heading. It ought to attract gay anglophiles, moronic homophobes, anti-England bigots and gay rights activists looking for something to be outraged over.

And it's simply a photo of me with some faggots I found in an English supermarket.

The real question is who is this Mr Brain and why does he like his faggots with more sauce?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I'm hung like the Australian Parliament

Well, we had a Federal Election in Australia this weekend and the voice of the Australian people has sounded a resounding "meh". We have a hung parliament, meaning neither major party won enough seats to claim an outright majority - the usual way a government is formed. However this ends up (and it could take quite a while to resolve) who ever forms government will be a minority dependent on independents and Green or two to continue in government.

Besides making politics in this country a bit more interesting, the resolution might make a few people a bit more aware of the some facts about the constitution. Because it seems like a significant chunk of this country is completely oblivious to how things actually work in this country.

I got so sick of people saying during this campaign that they didn't vote for Julia Gillard as Prime Minister. First, because the fucking morons saying they were concerned about Kevin Rudd getting knocked off by his own party were Liberal voters anyway and they hated Rudd. I am not a huge fan of lying hypocritical scumbags who refuse to admit to their true motivations.

Second, the public NEVER votes for the Prime Minister. The public votes for their local member of parliament. The leader of the party that forms government is automatically the PM and they are voted leader by their own party, not the public. And even more important, the PM is NOT the head of state in Australia. They run the government of the day but they are not the head of state.

We are a constitutional monarchy and our head of state is the Monarch of England, currently Queen Elizabeth II. On a day to day basis she is represented by the Governor General who is appointed by the Australian government (i.e our head of state is elected by nobody). Look upNovember 11th 1975 if you can't see any problems with that. So the Governor General has to agree with whoever declares they should head up the forthcoming minority government.

Here's what's likely to happen:

* Prime Minister Julia Gillard constitutionally has the first opportunity to form a new government, regardless of whether her Labor party has won more seats than the conservative opposition.

* Gillard would meet Governor-General Quentin Bryce and advise her of Labor's intention to form a new government.

* Once a new government is sworn in, a parliamentary sitting would be held as soon as possible to determine whether Gillard's new administration had a workable majority in the lower house.

* The opposition would then call a no-confidence motion to test her minority government's support in parliament.

* In order to survive that censure motion, Gillard would have needed to reach an agreement with enough independent MPs and/or Greens to form a government, including guarantees from them on the passage of annual budgets.

* Legal experts say this process could take several weeks to play out, with Labor and the Liberal-National opposition likely to engage the independents and Greens in behind-the-scenes negotiations to see which major party can win them over.

* There is another, more unlikely scenario in the event that the opposition forges a quick alliance with independents before Gillard has a chance to consult the governor-general.

* In this case, Gillard could in theory advise the governor-general to initially swear in a Liberal-National minority government. But this is unlikely because there's nothing in the constitution that would force her to do so - which will drive Liberal supporters crazy.

So, in short, nobody knows exactly what's going to happen. And whatever happens, it's almost certain that the side that finds themselves in opposition won't stop complaining until after the next federal election. Whenever that is.

And here's my video explanation:

Monday, August 09, 2010

Weirdest kids book ever

Inspiration for videos comes from the weirdest places. Browsing through the iTunes store I saw what looked like a cute kid's book. It was free so I thought what the heck, I'll download it.

It turned out to have a few unexpected quirks. Machine translation tends to give some pretty weird results. At least, I hope it was machine translation. I'd hate to think someone translated it this way on purpose.

Quite a few viewers called this one of the funniest things I've done which is always nice to hear. Not least because I wasn't assuming I'd get that response. This was one of those videos where I'm quite unsure of how people will react. I certainly thought it was funny (or I wouldn't have posted it) but I didn't bank on it being regarded as "funniest ever".

On one level I'm not a very good judge of what my audience will really like. Every now and then I'm surprised by how strongly people react to a video. I'm surprised how often a video I'm really not sure of ends up being really popular with my audience. More than once I've almost decided against uploading a video and it turned out to be really popular once it was up.

So I've learned to simply do my best with videos and not second guess myself. If I think the video is worth making the audience usually thinks it's worth watching.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

What's it like being your own boss?

I've been my own boss for about two weeks now and people want to know how it's going. Well, you know the old saying about working for yourself - the boss is crazy and you can't get away from him.

I do find myself putting a lot of thought into what I should be doing with my time - what can I do now to build my audience? So far, I haven't really been doing anything different but I will be expanding over the next couple of weeks. I might even get a bit organised and put a big to-do list on my wall to remind me of what I should be doing.

But I do think my boss is crazy.

Monday, July 26, 2010

YouTube is my life - for real

So I've made a momentous decision to stop messing about with this online stuff and do it for real. Namely, I am going to spend the next six months focusing primarily on YouTube as my source of revenue. I'll be increasing my activity in other online arenas as well, like this blog and Facebook. But given that YouTube is already a revenue stream for me, that's where most of my energy will be going.

The YouTube Partner Program is not the most secure way to earn an income. YouTube would be well within their rights to alter the deal or to revoke the Partner Program altogether any time they felt like it. This isn't something I think is going to happen but it would be stupid to think it's impossible. So while my initial goal is to raise my profile on YouTube, it isn't the only part of my strategy.

I will be working with a friend who is a well known comedy director to write some scripts that we will develop into videos. While these will go onto YouTube, they are also being developed with an eye to other possible revenue streams: DVDs, iTunes and selling them to TV stations are all options. In short, I'm going to be busy. And I plan to be dragging quite a few other people in to make them busy as well.

Stay tuned


And yes, the inspiration for this post's title is this legendary YouTube video:


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Must. Not. Fap.

Ahhhh, Internet. You never cease to provide me with immature things to enjoy. Tonight while I was doing a live BlogTV show and the subject turned to fapping (as it so often does). Specifically, we were talking talking about this video and the line "are you fapping?"


Then I'm pretty sure I traumatised someone by telling them to search on Google images for "fapping" which turned up the "must not fap" meme. Then to humour people I posed for a "must not fap" image so people could screen cap it and make fun of me.

Then things kind of took off. One of the viewers posted a pic to 4Chan and the rest piled on. I'm informed that these threads don't stay up long so there's no point in posting a link here, but I did save a lot of the images.

Enjoy these few. I will be using all the images I saved in the remix video.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Carbon Trading is probably bullshit

I've gone online a few times talking about global warming/climate change, mainly to say how much the deniers piss me off. It's one thing when people disagree with you and you have different value systems so you think their opinion is crap. But what infuriates me about global warming deniers is that their arguments are direct lies. The crap they spout is literally the direct opposite of the truth.

Their ridiculous arguments have been debunked again and again, there is NO peer reviewed science that supports their position, literally none, and it makes no fucking difference. They simply will not shut up. They even lie about wanting to "debate". They don't want to debate, that would involve listening to the other side and acknowledging when the truth is spoken. All they do is launch a non-stop verbal assault and try to batter their opponents into submission.

Every single aspect of their position is dishonest and quite frankly contemptible. Which is why I refuse to indulge them in their little game. Any of their talk about "engagement" is meaningless lies and so fuck them. I'll just enjoy my time insulting them because that's all that's left to me.

A separate issue to the truth of climate change which lying fucktard deniers tend to say is the same issue is whether or not carbon trading is a viable solution. My short answer is I don't think so. It reeks of bullshit. There's a good article here covering why carbon trading plans are likely to fail and a really funny one by Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stonethat's mainly ripping Goldman Sachs apart but also points out the fact that their promotion of carbon trading almost guarantees its failure.

Also, I had fun ranting about it on YouTube

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Beneath Contempt

I was playing around with some ideas on creative ways to insult morons who leave stupid comments ("go fuck yourself" is an old standby but I like to have a bit of variety) and I ended up expressing myself (as I so so often do) through t-shirts. I've gone for a variety of ways of saying someone is beneath contempt as follows:

While these designs are fun, I wanted something that I could use as a response to stupid comments that the haters wouldn't understand. Inside jokes are fun and confusing morons is even more fun. And so I came up with a pseudo-Venn diagram with "Contempt" as a large circle with a small circle underneath it (beneath contempt). It's rounded off with the explanation "you are the small circle" which becomes the reply I will give to comments that are beneath contempt.

I also explained this via a YouTube video with the help of one of the sexy models provided by Zazzle:


Finally, as a result of several suggestions, I've also turned the phrase into a de-motivational poster:

The image is one of the designs that have been done for me by a YouTube friend, DrakeMagnum. The good news (as far as I'm concerned) is that he feels inspired to do a new design based on this idea. I can't wait to see it!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Police to issue $100 fines for swearing

Every now and then a news story comes along that seems so tailor made for me I simplyhave to do a video about it. This is one of those stories.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Melbourne Street Art

One of the things I love making videos of is the awesome street art/graffiti around Melbourne. The city is renowned as having some of the best street art in the world and despite the occasional bleating of various city and state governments the large scale quality works are extremely popular.

There's always a problem with taggers scrawling their shit over people's property in general and over actual quality pieces in particular. The fact that they scrawl over the really good works sums them up for me - talentless little pieces of shit who get jealous of people who can actually do something worthwhile and want to drag them down. When they can't even respect what they consider their own "scene" you know they are total fucking losers.

Actually, the thing that probably shits me most about taggers is how they defend their own stupidity. They will actually blather on about how the scene needs taggers. Talentless, childish and seriously fucking deluded to boot.

Anyhow, I made a couple of videos of street art this weekend and I thought I'd share them here. This first video is mostly newer work that I haven't shot before. Most of it is in one of the city hotspots - Hosier Lane near Federation Square and there's also a sequence that was shot in St Kilda in a lane off Acland Street.

This second video is essentially showing off a new effect I discovered when I upgraded to the latest version of my video editing software (Corel {formerly Ulead} Video Studio for those who are interested). I was going to shoot some new stills of some fairly extensive works around a tram stop and pedestrian subway on St Kilda Road but the whole area was being torn up for roadworks when I went there.

So I decided to use some old photos from about four years ago. It's highly likely none of these pieces exist any more as the artists tend to paint over them every year or two. So this video has become a tribute to the ephemeral nature of street art - commemorating works that have passed away.

Or maybe it's just pretty pictures.

The music in these videos is by my friend Kipp AKA Vortex who always comes through with good tracks when I need them.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Cute animals that will rip your face off

Australia is somewhat famous for lethal animals like sharks, crocodiles and snakes. On a more pleasant note, we are also known for extremely cute. The horrible truth that the tourism board doesn't want you to know is the cute animals will kill you too if you give them a chance.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Stupid woman sues Google for stupid reason

I do like it when I get the opportunity to highlight someone who's just really fucking stupid in a really frivolous and meaningless way. Often when I'm compiling material for a blog post or a TFU Friday video it's fairly heavy or at least contentious.

But some people are stupid, pure and simple. I like to keep my moments of stupidity private. I certainly don't do things that would draw the world's attention to my idiocy. Not so, Lauren Rosenberg of Park City, Utah. She used Google maps to get walking directions. All fine so far. Then the directions she was following essentially suggested she should walk down a highway that didn't have a footpath. But that's OK because she isn't a moron.

Oh wait, yes she is.

This moron walked into traffic on a highway and surprise, surprise, she got hit by a car. That's stupid and embarrassing but if that was the end of it I'd cut her some slack. Everyone does stupid things sometimes.

That wasn't the end of it.

This unbelievable fucking moron thinks she now has the right to sue Google because she's stupid enough to walk onto a highway. If she was dead she'd be a sure thing for this year's Darwin award but she's alive so she's a prime candidate for most frivolous lawsuit of the year. I'll go out on a limb and say she's going to lose the case, not least because Google include a disclaimer about this sort of thing.

So she suffered a painful accident. She's a laughing stock around the world. And I doubt she's learned anything by it. Stupid people are like that.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

WAINGAFAT Wednesday - Quitting Facebook

There has been so much pants wetting lately about the evils of Facebook and how everyone should quit. Frankly, I don't give a fuck. The real problem is stupid people who post embarrassing stuff online with the deluded idea that it won't spread outside their immediate circle of friends. Or the really stupid ones who talk to the New York Times about how they were scared Facebook would expose what a drunken whore they are. Not to mention people who don't know how fucking stupid they look.

Anyway, if you watch this video, you'll discover my secret method for stopping Facebook from sharing your private information no matter how they change their privacy settings.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Why I don't give a fuck about male circumcision zealots

I learned a few years ago that a certain subset of humans appear to believe male circumcision is one of the greatest acts of barbarity still perpetrated in the modern world. They get incredibly obsessive over the topic and they don't seem to comprehend that many people rightly think the topic simply isn't that fucking important.

I can generally let them go, I have no interest in trying to sway them from their views. Although it can be a lot of fun to make jokes at their expense. However, where this crowd can make me extremely fucking angry is when they say that male circumcision is exactly the same as the female genital mutilation still practiced in some societies.

From experience, I have learned that it is absolutely pointless to "engage" or "debate" with people who are obsessed with this issue. It's an emotional issue for them and once an issue has become emotional there is no point in further discussion. They say they want to "debate" but all they actually want to do is ram their point of view down your throat. And I simply don't give a fuck about people who do that.

To say that male circumcision is the same as female genital mutilation is unsupportable both logically and morally. Male circumcision removes the foreskin either for cultural or health reasons (you're free to say this is pointless - I really don't give a fuck about arguing the point). The point of circumcision is NOT to impair the function of the penis or the male enjoyment of sex. In the rare cases when something goes wrong with a circumcision and there is some damage that was NEVER the INTENTION of the procedure.

Female genital mutilation is specifically designed to damage the sexuality and sexual enjoyment of women for religious and/or cultural reasons. It is a premeditated violent act that frequently causes long term physical trauma and pain for the girls and women it is performed on. It is specifically about repressing and punishing women simply because they are women.

The two act are not the same in either effect or intention. To claim male circumcision is "just as bad" is quite frankly disgusting and reprehensible. The level of self-absorption required to make such a statement stuns me.

This all came up again because of my recent TFU Friday video which included a story dealing with female genital mutilation.

I knew from experience bringing up the topic would bring the male circumcision zealots out of the woodwork and I made it very clear I wouldn't tolerate them hijacking the comments. Which, to be fair, is also baiting them. And they are far too self-obsessed to be able to resist the bait.

But I also mean what I said. In both the video and this blog post I have no intention of wasting time with people who are obsessed by the topic of male circumcision. I really don't give a fuck about the topic, you're free to have your own opinions and I have no wish to get involved in your obsessions. Those who insist on asserting that male circumcision is as bad as female genital mutilation are beneath my contempt.

By definition, I won't be wasting time on them.

Friday, May 28, 2010

All the world's religions are TFU

For Totally Fucked Up Friday this week, I managed to find an example of totally fucked up behaviour from each of the major Abrahamic faiths. When I was originally planning this I was going to simply say the major religions but I realised that would piss off the Hindus and Buddhists.

On second thoughts, that would have fit right in with the video's theme - pissing off major religions. And don't even get me started on the Zoroastrians. Motherfuckers.

I wasn't going to touch the story about female circumcision doing the rounds in Australiabecause I thought it was too sensitive and it would be too hard to cover it without being tacky. Then the theme revealed itself and it all fit in. By the way, I really have no tolerance whatsoever for fuckwits who want to carry on as if male circumcision is a big deal. Get some perspective you self absorbed fucking morons. And no, I won't indulge any comments on the topic, I will ignore them and delete them. Because I can. Get your own fucking blog you fucking loser.

Then there's the West Bank Rabbi who thinks that "women must only be heard through their husbands". I believe he also wrote "those fucking Muslims can't beat us at anything - we can oppress our women just as well as they can!"

Finally, the Northern Ireland minister who is simply too fucking stupid to be allowed outside a padded cell. The fact fuckwits like this are allowed in positions of power is nothing short of criminal. I don't give a fuck about how many people voted for them, once someone displays this level of stupidity for the sake of public safety they have to be locked away where they can't do any harm. This insane fucking freak actually thinks Ulster Protestants are one of the lost tribes of Israel. I'm absolutely floored by this level of idiocy.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dropped Dalek Down in the Dumps

Some people are calling them the Mighty Morphin' Power Daleks. This guy is calling them "the bastards who stole my job!"

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


When I decided to do some themed videos on a regular release schedule it was based on observing how YouTube audiences like a schedule and a degree of predictability. This might seem counter-intuitive: the structure of YouTube means people can watch whatever they want whenever they want so surely this makes schedules meaningless? Well, yes and no. YouTubers definitely like the freedom to set their own viewing times but what they want most of all is something NEW and they like to know when the new videos are available.

This is, of course, the basis of the subscription system. If you like someone’s videos, subscribe and you get a message every time they release a new video. That tells you after the fact that someone has uploaded a video which is good as far as it goes but what I’ve learned is viewers like to anticipate when a new video will be uploaded. This was made clear after I’d been doing TFU Friday for a while as I would get a huge number of comments and messages from people saying how much they look forward to seeing it and the anticipation of getting a notification in their inbox.

Most of the top subscribed YouTubers release their videos to a schedule (to the same day of the week if not the same time) and this works in their favour. Audiences develop a stronger bond with video makers when they have some foreknowledge of what they will be getting. Releasing one video every two weeks will develop a stronger audience than releasing five in one week and then nothing for a month or more.

When I decided to cut back on the number of videos I was making (because making them ever day was becoming too much of a drain) I decided to try and stick to a regular Monday, Wednesday and Friday schedule and see if I could develop a theme for each day. WAINGAFAT Wednesday was the second theme I settled on (after TFU Friday) after being inspired by a comment from my friend Mac AKA FreeMountaineer who commented that when I made videos ripping on particular targets it was I was saying “Who Am I Not Giving A Fuck About Today?” which became the acronym WAINGAFAT.

I liked the idea of having an outlet for having a rant about things/people I thought simply weren’t worth giving a fuck about. The balance is quite hard to get – the angry videos are clearly on subjects I care about (either positively or negatively) and the challenge was how to make a video about people/subjects that I really think are beneath contempt and also have an answer to the fucking morons who make comments like “You must care because you made a video about it.” I’m not bothered so much by the fact that these idiots make such skull-fuckingly stupid comments – it’s the fact they think they’re being insightful while saying something so moronic that shits me.

And so WAINGAFAT Wednesday was born – a forum where I can talk about things that other people are maybe getting worked up about but I really don’t give a fuck.


And for the idiots who still don’t get it, all they get in response to their public display of stupidity is MYASS.


Having said all that, WAINGAFAT Wednesday is the hardest video for me to do and stay on theme. I probably shouldn’t agonise over it so much but having set the theme I find it very difficult some weeks to settle on a subject that is within the boundaries of WAINGAFAT. I’ve decided it isn’t the end of the world if I skip a week when I really can’t decide on a fitting topic. This gives me less stress than making a video that I feel is “cheating”.

The biggest problem with TFU Friday is narrowing down my selection from the seemingly endless parade of totally fucked up stories that happen every week. But picking something that other people are worked up about but I couldn’t give a fuck about is frequently harder. This week at least it’s easy, with several prime candidates presenting themselves.

I think I’ll go with the finale of “Lost” – a show I have never watched. This isn’t so much a diss on the show, a lot of people I respect assure me it’s a great show but I never started watching it. There’s been a few great series of the last ten years that I haven’t watched religiously (yet – there’s always DVD) like The Sopranos, Six Feet Under and Deadwood. But the way some people have been losing their shit saying the ending sucked just stuns me.

Who gives a fuck about your worthless opinion you whiners? (A quick aside – the Lost fans I respect have not been acting like idiots over the ending) It isn’t that not liking the ending isn’t a valid opinion but why they fuck are these idiots bleating on as if it’s a personal affront to them? Wake the fuck up you potato heads – it isn’t about you! Here’s a suggestion: before you criticise the ending of something that has enthralled millions over the years (including you!) try making something that enthrals viewers for five fucking minutes! It’s HARD!

For years there have been jokes about how annoying Lost fans can be – going on and on about the twists and puzzles and mysteries. It turns out there’s something far more annoying than a Lost fan who feels compelled to tell you how awesome the show is and what you’re missing out on. A Lost fan who didn’t like the finale and won’t shut the fuck up about how the show’s ending is a personal insult directed specifically at them. You might think some terrible injustice has been done to you personally but like millions of others, I don’t give a fuck.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A new beginning?

If you look back over the life of this blog you will see multiple entries where I write about feeling guilty for neglecting the blog. This is another one. While I actually met the blog’s original goal of writing at least one entry every day for a year and I definitely exceeded any traffic goals I dared to set it’s faded away and I’m starting to feel like that’s a waste.

The blog has been secondary to YouTube since the end of that first year and postings have obviously dropped way off in the past two years but April 2010 was the first month on record I didn’t post a single entry. I have in my mind a plan to see if I can get back to the original idea of making at least a small post every day for a year.

I’m definitely not going to obsess about the daily target – I want the blog to be a positive experience rather than a pain – and I certainly won’t be obsessive about staying within the “angry” theme. I’ll be posting whatever occurs to me. Often this will be notes for possible future videos. There are positives and negatives to fully scripting videos but from time to time that feels like the best way to approach a topic and this is the obvious place to develop the scripts.

Plus, there’s the YouTube videos themselves. I plan to post them all here from now on – to be honest I have no idea why I stopped doing that, it would have kept the blog much more active. I do have the Twitter widget to the side so that at least has been regularly updating. I may post photos here as well (I have been posting photos irregularly to TwitPic and Flickr). In other words, it’s going to be a mixed bag but things will be happening here.

I’m not completely convinced of the value in maintaining a blog – things online have changed so much since I started that it seems less relevant now. But I do still believe that writing regularly helps your writing generally so I figure as long as I don’t let it stress me out increasing my blog activity can only be a good thing.

This is a “soft launch” and I’m making June 1st my official launch date to see if I can maintain a post a day for another year. By starting on an easier to remember date it will make my progress towards my goal more obvious. With a week to turn my focus back to the blog I’m hoping I’ll hit the ground running on June 1st.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Saudi woman beats the crap out of "virtue cop"

When I read this story about young Saudi woman hospitalising on of the cretinous (and frankly terrifying) morality cops that infest that country, I was simultaneously elated and depressed. Elated because it's always good to see an oppressed minority strike back at an authority figure. Depressed because I can't help but feel that the punishment meted out to this woman will be particularly brutal.

Religious intolerance is bad enough when it simply takes the form of the societal pressures to conform we get in western democracies but when there's a brutal police force whose sole role is to enforce barbaric medieval "morality" it becomes truly evil.

And around the world we have anti-Muslim morons crying "ban the burqa" and daring to say they're doing it to protect women's rights and not simply treating Muslims as second class citizens. So why aren't these champions of the rights of Muslim women promoting action against oppressive countries like Saudi Arabia and calling for boycotts?

Oh yeah... oil. We wouldn't want our championing of oppressed women to actually cost us anything.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ignorance and lies

I’m going to propose a hypothetical situation to you. You’re in a burning building. You need to get out. You make it to the ground floor and end up in a room with two unmarked exits. One of them leads outside to safety. The other leads straight into a worse fire and you’ll be killed instantly if you open it. It fact in that room is worse than a fire. There are also lions in there. Hungry, fire-proof lions. And they have machine guns. Plus there are flying sharks with lasers on their heads. That room is bad news.

The trouble is, you don’t know which door leads to safety and which leads to certain death. Fortunately, there is someone in the room who does.

In one scenario, this person really doesn’t like you. In fact they’re a bit of a prick to people generally. They think it’s funny to send people to their death. So when you ask which door leads to safety he points you to the heavily armed lion and laser shark room. Because he’s an arsehole and he wants you to die.

In another scenario, the person is simply ignorant of how dangerous it is to go into a burning room full of machine gun wielding lions and sharks with lasers on their heads. He doesn’t really know much about wildlife but he does remember seeing a show on TV where someone petted a lion and swam with sharks. That person lived so he figures you’ll also live despite how different the situation is.

You approach the deadly door and ask is it safe to go through? He says yes so you open the door whereupon you are promptly chomped, shot, lasered and burnt to death.

Here’s an important question: in which scenario are you less dead?

That’s a trick question – you’re dead either way. Both the malicious person and the ignorant person kill you. This is why it shits me when people use ignorance as a justification for really negative and destructive behaviour. There are people who’ll make excuses for even truly evil behaviour but it’s far more common for people to want to let people off the hook because of ignorance.

“Oh, when they dressed up in blackface they had no idea it would be considered racist by some people so that means the act itself wasn’t racist.” Ignorance is no excuse. If you’re too fucking stupid to know that an act with a long history of racism is not acceptable then maybe you should just shut the fuck up when you’re being told rather than wearing your ignorance as a badge of honour!

“Why not let those people teach their religious beliefs in a science class?” Because it isn’t fucking science! The fact that someone is too stupid to know their beliefs are completely ridiculous in a scientific context doesn’t mean they should be humoured and given equal time – they should shut the fuck up!

“Don’t be so harsh on those global warming deniers, they genuinely believe that the science doesn’t support the idea that human activity is causing global warming.” FUCK THEM! Opinion is not the same thing as evidence. The fact that their ignorance has let them be led by ideology rather than evidence means they are fucking dangerous. The fact that they are really, really loud doesn’t make them less wrong! Their ignorance risks economic, ecological and human disaster on a global scale. Granting the braying ignorant masses an “equal voice” with established scientific evidence because of the weight of their opinion is not only illogical, it runs the risk of being suicidal.

So the next time someone wants me to indulge the ignorance of idiots I’m going to throw them into a burning room full of implausibly dangerous animals and see how they like it.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Knowledge vs Data

I’ve just had an epiphany. I was rolling around a few ideas in my head about the nature of learning and thinking when a few puzzle pieces clicked together for me. A disclaimer up front, I’m not claiming these are totally original thoughts that have never been articulated before by other people (although, if that turns out to be the case, hello PhD thesis!) I have not read or heard this exact thing expressed elsewhere which compelled me to write these thoughts down and share them.

Being a science fiction buff I enjoy the speculative and predictive nature of SF stories although I’m very sceptical of many (if any) writers being directly accurate in their predictions. To be fair, the open secret about SF is the best writers aren’t writing thematically about the future, they are writing about now. They use the future and/or alien worlds to frame their ideas but what they are really concerned with is the technology, issues ideas and actions of today and what paths they might lead us down.

So the focus on prediction is far more a shortcoming of readers than writers but it’s something everyone is guilty of at some point.

One of the favourite wet dreams of SF nerds is the idea of downloaded knowledge a la The Matrix and dozens of other stories. I’ve always had a gut feel this one was bullshit simply because of how long so many people have been fixated on it. I’m not really a contrarian by nature, this is more an analysis of the track record of SF predictions than saying “everyone says it so it must be wrong.”

Big and specific predictions (like personal jet packs) tend to be wrong and I’ve been convinced for a while that downloadable or implantable knowledge is simply not going to happen. It comes down to the difference between data and knowledge. Computers can hold and process vast amounts of data but can’t actually come up with ideas of their own (“not yet” is the breathless whisper from the Singularity geeks who squirt a little in their pants as they get worked up yet again over their fantasy of the rapture of the nerds). I’ll go further, the fact that a person has access to Wikipedia (or any encyclopaedia) doesn’t make them smart. In fact, let’s go even further, anyone who copies and pastes slabs of text from Wikipedia because that “proves their point” is a fucking moron.

But someone who reads, researches, analyses, proposes new ideas and just thinks dammit! That is a person who can get away with calling themselves smart.

And that’s why I think implanted/downloaded knowledge can’t work. It’s mixing up data with knowledge. The most likely outcome would be the scenario in Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” where kids have information forced into their brains but they can’t use it. When they hear a trigger word they can repeat the relevant data but it still doesn’t mean anything to them.

A kid is asked about the Nile River and automatically repeats “The Nile is the longest river in the world...” Then the kid is asked what is the longest river in the world and can’t answer. He’s prompted “What about the Nile?” He reflexively repeats “The Nile is the longest river in the world...” then he’s prompted, “So what’s the longest river in the world?” and he still can’t answer.

Now, a smart person can benefit from having fast access to data but even a genius doesn’t learn anything useful from it instantly. And quite honestly, a stupid person with data is still stupid. In fact, they’re probably worse now because they’re drowning in a tsunami of data but they have no idea what to do with it. They have no way of knowing what bits of the data are most valuable and they are incapable of applying it effectively. But that won’t stop them from being a pundit on Fox News.