07 June 2009

The last post

I've decided to take my blogging in two different directions, so this will be my last post on Blogue. 

The blog still gets great numbers, especially for some of the archival pieces (and the Reddit piece below is still on fire), so I won't delete the blog unless I see that it has faded into history. 

So, what's next?I have just launched a new blog about Australian artists, designers and thinkers called Kollektor. I hope you'll join me there, comment and subscribe, and enjoy. 

For other memey nonsense (and you know I love it), I have a Tumblr blog going here.

19 April 2009

Reddit: yeah, I geddit

Reddit.com’s RSS feed (“what’s new online”) has been in my news reader for a while. As part of a cull of noisy, useless feeds, I’ve just deleted it. A more literate version of 4chan, with significantly less users, it produces the same results over and over. Here’s everything you need to know about Reddit users' worldview.

13 April 2009

OMG, Mr Darcy!

Excerpts from 1-star reviews of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice on Amazon.com.

It just goes on and on and on, only to lead this sister ending up with that guy, this sister ending up with that guy, etc. — Adam Appleby

Personally I am disgusted. I think that they are all pompous and rather annoying. — A Customer

A terrible bore, really sort of a nightmare that never ends. — Laura “witchbaby”

I find this book repulsive. I am offended by every paragraph that I read. I have never felt such contemt for any work that I read. I pasionately despise this novel. The 17th century English aristocracy is offensive and without merit. — A Customer

Over two-hundred pages wasted on useless tasteless writing! It was a majority consensus in my senior English class that Pride and Prejudice was awful. — Elisabeth

Austen clearly never learned that readers do not like run-on sentences because the so called "novel" consists of run-on sentences that sometimes consist of more than one page. This novel is complete trash. — Mark Twain “Sam”

I hated this book. It was difficult to read, because Austen never seemed to get to the point, and everything seemed to happen so slowly. It was ridiculous. — cnyadan

this is possibly the boringest classice ever written, which is saying a lot considering the fact they're all quite boring. I mean look at the story, what a bunch of bull! What the hell...omg, Mr.Darcy! *rolls eyes* Could she not have thought of anything more exciting? — A Customer

This story was written in the early Victorian era, and hence it is quite old. I found it to be utterly boring. Maybe it was a big deal back in the time, but nobody cares nowadays. — krazykow@softhome.net

11 April 2009

Pile o' linx #1

A simple audio interface with instant gratification.

For Easter, a pair of horribly designed Christian sites.
[Exhibit A]
[Exhibit B]

If you find something you want to read online but don’t have time to read it now, use Instapaper.

How fast can you click your spacebar?

Every straight man’s fantasy. A demo ad by Adam Green and Will Barratt.

How to make a “thought screen” helmet to stop space aliens abducting you.

04 April 2009

Inconspicuous consumption

The economic downturn and the growing awareness of the consequences of diamond mining have already heralded the death of bling.

As the economy worsens, flashing the cash is seen as more and more inappropriate. Formerly logo-smothered fashion and accessories are out; discreet luxury is in.

Leading online luxury fashion retailer Net-a-porter is, not surprisingly, embracing the trend. Its standard delivery “signature” packaging is a fiesta of tissue paper, glossy branded boxes, boutique bags and ribbon. In these more “austere” times you can, instead, choose to have your £7,873 Oscar de la Renta beaded georgette gown delivered to you the way you once would have had your porn: in a discreet brown paper wrapper – recycled, of course.

Net-a-porter.com founder Natalie Massenet is also about to launch theOutnet, a discount offering that the UK Telegraph reported will sell clothes and shoes ordered by department stores but cancelled as the downturn kicked in. The site is currently collecting email addresses and carries the cheery slogan: “It’s chic-onomics!™”

Jeez, Greg. Take the hint

[via Burbia]

02 April 2009

Making sense of the money mess

I suspect that most people outside the money industries don't really understand why the financial system collapsed and how pervasive it is. That's why all the various elements of it have just been put in one big conceptual box and called the "economic crisis".

This video, made by Los Angeles–based designer Jonathan Jarvis, is the best graphic visualisation of how this all came about I have seen, and I highly recommend it to you.

Jarvis is currently practicing in the Graduate Media Design Program at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. You can see some of his other projects – including a brilliant demonstration which makes all the mobile phones in a room ring simultaneously – at his website, here.

22 March 2009

Nice to meet you, too: some first impressions of Twitter

I’m aware that blogging about Twitter is like dancing about architecture, but I can’t write 140-characters-or-less forever. I also get that I'm late to the party but that's never stopped me before.

I started an account for the magazine I work for first. It’s a sign of the times that after 25 years in print, I get a daily report on UBs and PIs for the magazine’s website. “It’s the future!” everyone keeps barking at me because, having grown up in print media, they’re convinced that UBs=circulation and PIs=readership. I’m yet to be convinced – I think the model is wilder and more chaotic – but there you go. It’s a living – for now.

So, onto Twitter and using it as a cute little marketing tool for the website. Links, competition announcements, whatever. There’s a lift in UBs and PIs that can be tracked to all those tiny.urls and bit.ly links, and everyone’s happy. Hurrah.

What catches my eye, however, is what’s flowing past me as a result. All the followers are tweeting away and it’s pretty interesting. I get it straight away: Twitter isn’t chat, it isn’t static and it’s not even “regularly updated” content. It’s a torrent of moments straight from people’s heads.

At first it’s just a shitstorm of blathering voices until I realise that I can turn some up and turn some down. I can even turn them off completely.

I started my own Twitter account, @kollektor. I transfered the most interesting voices from the work account first, just a handful of them. Voices that, if I was in a room full of people, would be the ones I would listen to because they’re talking about things I’m interested in.

The girl who tweets regularly “so bored” is not one of them.

At first I stand in the doorway of an unfamiliar room. There’s a flow, a style going on that I’m not part of, and I want to get to know a bit more about the rhythms and conventions before I plunge in.

I find people in my own city tweeting about food, fashion, media, geekery, politics, bars, art and news. I’m interested in all of these things, so I follow them.

But it’s not called social media for nothing and I can’t lurk for too long. It’s a two-way street, so I contribute: what I’m reading that I’d recommend to others, what I’ve discovered during the course of my day that delighted me and might delight others, an occasional bit of direct tweeting. A couple of photos, a TV still that amused me, a traffic report (!), some links, a bon mot here and there.

You put in, you get back. Some replies, retweets, even a cheeky DM.

No one’s running things. No one is moderating or setting the agenda. Again, Twitter isn’t chat.

I should rephrase that: I’m running things, I’m moderating.

Too many tweets about the intricacies of C++ programming? Unfollow.

Talk of seasonal produce around town? Follow.

So far, I’ve kept my follows fairly local, the Twitter equivalent of going to London and staying in Earls Court. This will change.

16 March 2009

Writing, writing, writing

I'm working on several writing projects at once at the moment, including contributing to a book, two other blogs (in another voice!) and my work.

I'm also trying out Twitter, so feel free to follow me there. I'm @kollektor.

28 February 2009

Why I love 30 Rock. Why I love Tina Fey. Why I love Alec Baldwin

Jack + Elisa = Jalisa. Because they went here for one second: Jack's pink and blue Jalisa T-shirts.

And as Liz and Kenneth came out of the subway: the X train to Zorgonia Avenue and a "coming soon" poster for Jenna's movie, Janie Jimplin.

24 February 2009

How'd I do? Hopeless!

My Oscar picks were terrible! Only one right: Sean Penn. It's a good thing I didn't have money on them!

I should have taken a stab at the Visual Effects award, because the team on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button achieved a real and important technical breakthrough, despite the film's Forrest Gump–backwards plot. For the first third of the film, the Brad Pitt character is completely virtual, the first time an entirely computer-generated human being looked believably real. They pulled off what animators had always thought was impossible: they crossed the Uncanny Valley.

23 February 2009

Yes, I know the way to San Jose

I don't know what Dionne Warwick's problem was. If your weeks in LA turn into years – how quick they pass – and it's time to head to San Jose, here's the way.

Driving directions to San Jose, CA
339 mi – about 5 hours 22 mins
Los Angeles, CA
1.Head southeast on E 1st St toward S Los Angeles St
404 ft
2.Turn left at N Los Angeles St
0.4 mi
3.Turn right to merge onto US-101 N towardPasadena/Hollywood/Harbor Fwys/I-110/State Hwy 101
10.6 mi
4.Continue on CA-170 N/Hollywood Fwy N(signs for Hollywood Fwy/State Hwy 170 N/Sacramento)
6.8 mi
5.Merge onto I-5 N
249 mi
6.Take exit 403B for State Hwy 152 W towardSan Jose/Hollister/Gilroy
0.2 mi
7.Merge onto CA-152/CA-33
Continue to follow CA-152
33.8 mi
8.Continue on Pacheco Pass Hwy
4.3 mi
9.Turn left at CA-152
2.5 mi
10.Take the US-101/State Hwy 152 W ramp toSan Jose/Watsonville
0.5 mi
11.Merge onto US-101 N
28.2 mi
12.Take the W Story Rd exit
0.5 mi
13.Merge onto Story Rd
1.2 mi
14.Continue on Keyes St
0.8 mi
San Jose, CA
Wo-wo-wo-wo, wo-wo-wo-wo-wo, wo.

19 February 2009

Just because you can type, it doesn't make you a writer. Or a mathematician

In a rare moment of restraint, TMZ marked the passing of Mickey Rourke's beloved chihuahua simply:

Loki Rourke
1991 - 2009
"Sometimes when a man's alone, that's all you got ... is your dog."
-- Mickey @ the Golden Globes
The second and third reader comments on the story:
2. That dog did not live 28 years. No way.
Posted at 11:57PM on Feb 17th 2009 by Stephen
3. Umm... a 28 year old dog? Is that a typo?
Posted at 11:58PM on Feb 17th 2009 by Wow

It's no wonder President Obama's Massive Stimulus Package includes $53 billion for education.

17 February 2009

Calls for lynching and torture on the evening news: Welcome to Australia 2009

On Thursday last week, a man was arrested and charged with starting a fire in Victoria, one that burned through the small town of Churchill, where he lived. That fire killed at least 21 people – the entire town has been declared a crime scene and the final number won’t be known until a forensic investigation is completed – and destroyed about 200 homes.

His name is Brendan Sokaluk and he’s 39. He was charged with arson causing death, intentionally lighting a bushfire and possessing images of child pornography. His legal aid defence lawyer told the court at his remand hearing that he was in “a fragile mental state” and “should be seen by a doctor”.

His chances of a fair trial are now almost nil thanks to some fervid vigilantism and its support in some sections of the media.

It’s not hard to understand that people want someone to blame. In some of these small communities, brought together in stressful circumstances, the whispers and rumours got so out of control that a high-level police officer had to appeal for people to stop reporting anything to the police unless they were actually material witnesses.

It’s not even hard to understand how all the shock and grief and anger could be channelled into hatred against a suspected arsonist. If you want evidence of it, just look at any of the dozens of Facebook groups people have been set up to vent it. (Here’s an example, although it might be already be gone as they are being shut down as they appear.) Of course, there’s a lot of posturing going on there, and the death threats – a serious legal issue – are endless, but there’s also an almost unbearable amount of pain.

The media coverage of the Sokaluk arrest has been remarkably restrained because, after its role in the Cronulla race riots in 2005, sections of the media have become a little more gun-shy about whipping up a mob mentality.

One notable exception was Channel Seven mic monkey Chris Reason who stood in Churchill on Saturday, reading out comments from Facebook:

“They've been posting comments like this. Quote: ‘Hope this bastard burns’ and this one: ‘Cut off his fingers and toes, re-stitch them, then cut them off again.’ Many residents in here in Churchill say they feel the same.”
To prove that the residents of Churchill feel the same, he walked into the street and asked them, “What do you reckon the town would do if they got their hands on him?” One woman said, “I'd like to get him and pour petrol on him and burn him to death.” Another replied, “Oh, they'd tear him apart.”

If there’s a line between reporting and instigating lynching, Chris Reason crossed it. Sokaluk is still innocent until proven guilty (a concept that always flies out the window immediately in any emotionally charged case), and Reason irresponsibly jeopardised his chances of a fair trial in a very poor show of "journalism". No doubt Reason, and Seven, will be facing the legal consequences of their actions.

Brendan Sokaluk is due to appear again on 26 May, although there is a rising tide of legal opinion that says there is so little chance of a fair trial being possible that a permanent stay will be granted instead.

No deal

It's been a while but I have a couple of new writing projects on the go so, as always, the blog has to suffer.

Anyway, I raced home tonight to beat the big storm that was moving down the coast and flicked the TV on. Deal or No Deal. I have absolutely no idea what the rules are. It seemed to be very complicated, with all sorts of language that only made sense to the host and audience. At least The Price is Right was pretty obvious.

And why doesn't that huge gaggle of models stick around?

26 January 2009


Another new year party! Sydney is going all-out for its Chinese New Year celebrations this year. The festival, which started on Friday, goes for another three weeks, so it overlaps with the Sydney Festival, still in full swing, by a week. Much to be seen and eaten and explored, in that case.

Oh – it's Australia Day today, as well, so for me it means there are going to squadrons of warplanes roaring overhead all day and masses of fireworks in the evening. We're going to get among the mayhem in Chinatown tonight: lion dances, street food and strings of noisy red firecrackers. Yay!

Welcome, Year of the Ox. 恭喜發財 - kung hei faat coi! Good luck and good fortune!

24 January 2009

Too darn hot

It hit 40.1°C today. That's 104°F. Too much summer all at once for my liking. Then the southerly came through at 6 and the temperature dropped 10 degrees in an hour. Ahhhh.

23 January 2009

Picking on Oscar

The Oscar nominations were just announced.
Yeah, all right. I'll go there. These aren't necessarily my personal favourites, but they're my favourites to win.

My picks are, appropriately, in gold.

Best Picture: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "Frost/Nixon," "Milk," "The Reader," "Slumdog Millionaire."

Actor: Richard Jenkins, "The Visitor"; Frank Langella, "Frost/Nixon"; Sean Penn, "Milk"; Brad Pitt, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"; Mickey Rourke, "The Wrestler."

Actress: Anne Hathaway, "Rachel Getting Married"; Angelina Jolie, "Changeling"; Melissa Leo, "Frozen River"; Meryl Streep, "Doubt"; Kate Winslet, "The Reader."

Supporting Actor: Josh Brolin, "Milk"; Robert Downey Jr., "Tropic Thunder"; Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Doubt"; Heath Ledger, "The Dark Knight"; Michael Shannon, "Revolutionary Road."

Supporting Actress: Amy Adams, "Doubt"; Penelope Cruz, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"; Viola Davis, "Doubt"; Taraji P. Henson, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"; Marisa Tomei, "The Wrestler."

Director: David Fincher, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"; Ron Howard, "Frost/Nixon"; Gus Van Sant, "Milk"; Stephen Daldry, "The Reader"; Danny Boyle, "Slumdog Millionaire."

Foreign Film: "The Baader Meinhof Complex," Germany; "The Class," France; "Departures," Japan; "Revanche," Austria; "Waltz With Bashir," Israel.

We'll see how I went on 22 February, I suppose.

A rather more short-term prediction: Heath Ledger will be on the cover of tomorrow's papers here, while they'll be some guff about the massively over-hyped Australia scoring only a costume nomination, and grumbles about Baz, Nicole, Hugh and Cate being "overlooked". (There's some merit to the Cate angle: she drove Ben Butt, even when working with a puppet. Australia, by contrast, was craptacular eye candy.) It makes a change from Cate, a cartoon and a cameraman being the "Aussie chances". That, at least, we can verify tomorrow. Zzzzzzz.

Update: Ledger, as The Joker, on the cover of all three newspapers. And this in the Telegraph:
Exactly a year after his death, Heath Ledger has earned a posthumous Oscar nomination early this morning.Ledger was nominated for best supporting actor for his diabolical turn as The Joker in The Dark Knight.Cate Blanchett missed out on a nomination for her role in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.Romantic epic Australia scored a single nomination - for costume design for Catherine Martin.The film's director Baz Luhrmann, stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman and cinematographer Mandy Walker were all overlooked.
Ta da!

21 January 2009

Thank you for playing. Now get out.

A moment to lift the heart. Bye-bye!

Update: Maureen Dowd's op-ed piece in today's New York Times, 'Exit the Boy-King', is excellent.

19 January 2009

Black in name only

It turns out that black box flight recorders aren't black.

This is the flight recorder from the US Airways plane that landed on the river in New York. While it's somewhat blackened around the edges, it's not black. Being bright orange makes it easier to find.

In related news, as I was saying in this post, it's not legitimate news unless there's an Aussie onboard. And so, on the front page of the Daily Telegraph:
Aussie's miracle escape from Flight 1549
"There were no screams, tears, just a strange peace," the only Australian on board, 26-year-old Emma Cowan said.
The thoughts and feelings of the plane's 154 other passengers were unreported.

The angry man

My local supermarket is open until midnight. At about 11, two guys start to close down the deli section. It’s obviously a big job: they have to put away all that neatly folded ham, coleslaw, fish fillets and mystery meat.

I like to shop late when the place is pretty much empty. I shop fast and don't need obstacles like people hunting though the 50 different mouthwashes to get in my way. It’s just around the corner and I enjoy a little late-night retail therapy.

Last night there was a man standing at the deli counter. He was 50-something, about five feet tall, wearing shorts, a singlet and thongs. He was the very image of a short, fat Aussie man. He was barking at the deli guy.

“The sign says midnight. If you’re going to close sections down, you need to say it on a sign out the front.”

The deli guy was barely following where he was going, but I could see it coming a mile away.

“You know, legally I could sue you for false advertising.”

He screwed up his face, turned to the short, fat woman he was with and barked, “Come on. We’re going.” He marched out, hamless and muttering, past the checkouts, while she trundled along behind him.

As if he hadn’t made his point at the deli, he stood at the door and shouted, “Bloody hell, woman. Hurry up. We’re never coming back here.” He took a few steps outside and, as the automatic doors were closing, managed to bark out his parting shot: “Ever!”

18 January 2009

Now arriving at MC Escher Airport

There something strange going on in this picture on CNN . . .

13 January 2009

Goodbye to all that

The "Dick Cheney Lie Count" from last night's Letterman.

In related news, I got a press release today from the Lyndon LaRouche Political Action Committee – I have no idea why I'm on this list – saying that in the final week of Bushdom, Cheney will push Israel into a multi-front offensive with Lebanon and Syria that will give him the excuse to start a war with Iran that Obama will be forced to deal with.

When Clinton left the White House in 2000, the staff just pulled the "W" keys off all the keyboards.

07 January 2009

There's cutting edge and there's just getting it wrong

I'm not an apostrophe Nazi unless it's work-related. I recognise that English is complicated and that punctuation can be tricky, so I'm fairly forgiving – by which I mean I wince but I get over it – when I see things like "CD's" as the plural of "CD". However, this job ad caught my eye. They really need to fill this position.

06 January 2009

Barbie's resume

Barbie turns 50 years old this year and, like many mature-age workers, she has quite an impressive resume. Here's a random sampling of her work experience.

Air Force Fighter Pilot
United States Army officer
United States Navy officer

Art Teacher
Sign Language Teacher
Spanish Language Teacher
Student Teacher

American Idol contestant
Circus Star
Movie Producer
Movie Star
Radio City Music Hall Rockette
Rock Star

Health, Beauty & Fitness
Aerobics Instructor
Fashion Model
Mary Kay Star Consultant
Yoga Instructor

Ambassador for World Peace
Candidate for President

Flight Attendant
McDonald's employee
Police Officer

Olympic Figure Skater
Olympic Gymnast
Professional Figure Skater
Tennis Star
WNBA Basketball Player
World Cup Soccer Competitor


05 January 2009

Back to work: Ouch!

I went back to work today after two glorious weeks off, and it wasn't pretty.

I got in to the office very early only to discover a weird smell – something had gone off but we couldn't locate it. The computer network was acting up, I couldn't remember half my log-ins, and it took all my concentration to bang out a handful of stories. 

To make matters worse, it was a particularly beautiful day: sunny, warm with a soft, cool breeze blowing.

In happy news, I remembered to take batteries for the new electric pencil sharpener Chris and Emma gave me for Christmas, so all my pencils are deliciously sharp.

It'll be easier tomorrow, I hope. And it'll be deadline day . . . 

02 January 2009

A matter of inches: just how tall are our modern stars?

At 5’4” (162.5cm), here’s a group of statistically average height women: Drew Barrymore, Catherine Deneuve, Queen Elizabeth, Madonna, Britney Spears and Elizabeth Taylor.

At 5’9” (175cm), here’s a group of statistically average height men: Antonio Banderas, Albert Einstein, James Dean, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas and Jack Nicholson.

Tom Cruise is regularly characterised as being “short”, although he is just two inches shorter than the average man at 5’7” (170cm). (His ex, Nicole Kidman, is a smidge over 5’10” [178cm] in flats, which kinda explains it.) Men the same height as Cruise include Robert Downey Jr., Al Pacino and David Spade. Although statuesque in her proportions, Angelina Jolie is also 5'7".

An inch shorter: Dustin Hoffman, Henry Winkler, and Joseph Stalin.

An inch shorter still (5’5”, 165cm): Woody Allen, Fred Durst, Lou Reed and Charles Manson. Women of the same height: Pamela Anderson, Jennifer Lopez, Renee Zellweger and Marilyn Monroe.

Bette Midler and Kylie Minogue are both 5’1” (155cm), while Dolly Parton is an even 5-footer. So, too, was Queen Victoria.

01 January 2009

A flying start

At 11pm last night, Mike and I were having a quiet-ish margarita at the Bayswater Brasserie. By 11.30, with Amy and Janie, we were in a little boat leaving Double Bay wharf. We boarded the MV Flying Fish, moored in the middle of the harbour, and 10 minutes later the New Year’s Eve fireworks started, and this was our view. Awesome!

31 December 2008

One last thing

I'm drowning in other people's "Best of 2008" lists, so I'm not going to add to the pile. Instead, just one lovely thing from 2008 that still makes me laugh every time I see it.

The shiny guy does always worry.

See you next year!