Saturday, January 29

scary stuff

History of the "War on terror", as seen from 2011.
posted by snwbrdr-xyz at 18:04


It really does suck. Moving cities. And what possessed me you might ask? The silly little thing known as a career. Or is it money - could never tell the difference between the two.
posted by snwbrdr-xyz at 00:04

Wednesday, December 29

Language Imperialism

In late October 2004 there was an uproar in France about making English a compulsory subject in schools (note to self: insert links). For the French to even consider this "sacreligious" idea is a revelation in itself. Here comes part two: Chile is making itself bilingual (source: New York Times). Chile's motivation is quite self-serving: to have a competitive advantage (in economic terms) over other countries.

Many people would decry this as language imperialism. Others lament the loss many minor native languages. How is it imperialism if the Chlieans are imposing it on themselves? Why is it that nobody even mentions the main, overwhelming positive aspect: a global language would be mightly useful. A multitude of languages promotes divisions, and is hence conducive to misunderstandings. Granted, English is far from perfect (mainly due to its screwed up spelling); it is, however, quite simple in its grammar. It also belongs to no one: if you feel like using a new word (either stolen from a different language or artifically constructed), nobody is stopping you.

Wasn't that profoundly insightful kids? Now back to the regularly scheduled imperialistic activities.

posted by snwbrdr-xyz at 17:12

Wednesday, December 8

How to malleabliate the English language

The BBC reports that English is creeping to be a world language. Duh.
But before the inevitable backlash in the form of reassertion of other national languages (I can just hear the Tyrannosaurus language coming back into vogue), let's delve into the super profound question of why do people use the word "ain't"...
Firstly, let's get the cliche out of the way:
"ain't" ain't a word.
Quell horreur!! Everybody seems to be using this bloody abomination!! According to Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, "ain't" is a contraction for "are not" and "am not"; also used for "is not". [Colloq. or illiterate speech]. See An't.
Illiterate speech ? If that's so, why aren't people are ganging up on "won't" ? It doesn't actually stand for "will not", as commonly guessed. As far as I can figure it out, "won't" is a contraction of "woll not", where "woll" is an old form of "will". Let's go the whole way on this logical-fundamentalist excursion: wouldn't it make more sense to spell it as "wo'n't", where the first ' indicates a deletion of "ll" from "woll" ?
I digress. People use "ain't" in various situations, such as "this ain't right", or "I ain't speaking shit, really", "they ain't believing it", and "this ain't it". In so called proper usage, the correct word(s) in these cases would be, respectively: "isn't", "am not", "aren't", and "isn't". Fuck, the dictionary folks must be onto something.
So "ain't" really is a replacement for a whole set of words. The word is a negative form of "is" or indicates that when a verb follows it, the verb has a inverse meaning. Profound.
And yet the word is derided as being an abomination. Maybe it's just spelled wrong. Should it be "a/in't", which would make it a short form of "are/am/is not" ? Or how about we stop pretending it's a contraction of anything and treat it as a whole word, and spell the fucker as "aint" ?
That'll all for this lesson kids. Next week: why double negatives are evil.
posted by snwbrdr-xyz at 22:10

Saturday, November 27

Groundbreaking revelation

The Sydney Morning Herald has an article about a book titled He's Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys. The central premise of the book, if you haven't guessed yet, is that if a guy doesn't call a woman when he said he will, "he's just not that into you."

What an amazing revelation. And this new bible to relationships is having a second printing of 400,000 copies.

Are US chicks really this retarded ? Have they ever heard of picking up the phone themselves, instead of just sitting around, pretending to be helpless ?

The article gets even more enlightening, with "[a female] asked Behrendt about a guy she had jogged with, and really liked, who never asked her out." Why on earth are only guys supposed to do the asking ?

posted by snwbrdr-xyz at 17:10

Monday, November 1


From The Weekend Australian, 30-31 Oct 2004, p. 25:
    "We are an equal opportunity employer and we don't stop anybody from having their own religious beliefs". UK navy spokesman on technician Chris Crammer, the first registered Satanist in the British armed forces.
This raises all sorts of seriously important questions, such as:
  1. Does he have his own supply of live chickens for sacrifice rituals ?
  2. Does he get time off each day for observing religious rituals ?
  3. Is there a separate room on the ship, especially set aside for the abovementioned religious rituals ?
  4. Are the dead chickens then recycled to the kitchen, to be consumed by other sailors ?
  5. Does he get double pay for being a kitchen-hand as well as a technician ?
  6. In the event of running out of live chickens, will the navy chopper in a fresh batch ?
posted by snwbrdr-xyz at 21:26

Saturday, October 30

Yet Another Review: Manchurian Candidate

David Stratton (from The Weekend Australian and ABC's At The Movies) gave the 2004 quasi-remake of The Manchurian Candidate four and a half stars outta five. He must have lost his marbles. There is nothing particuarly fresh or intriguing about this movie (no I haven't seen the 1962 original). Anybody who grew up in the era of X-Files will be always two steps ahead of the plot. Meryl Streep's performance is over the top, and hence never comes across as believeable. The scene where her character makes an impassioned plea to get her son on the party's election ticket is so filled with cliches and hoopla that anybody in a real situation would have told her to fuck off and take a chill-pill. As if to compensate, the performance of Liev Schreiber (the son), and a few supporting characters, is too muted. Any real political candidate would have much more zest.

If you need a time filler for two hours, you could do worse. If you want to be entertained, go see Collateral instead.

posted by snwbrdr-xyz at 23:54

Friday, October 22

Movie review: Collateral

MP3s on the speakers: All Night Long, by Layo and Bushwacka.

Collateral has, what some people call, Big Name Stars, i.e. Tom Cruise and Jada Pinkett Smith. One would could thus expect the usual Hollywood shlock. Collateral definitely has the shlock element, via the presence of convenient coincidences and people wearing sunglasses in the middle of the night. Once you get over that, the movie offers a bunch of good elements which bring it over the "just an action flick" line. One of the elements is the use of hand held digital cameras. These things are much smaller than the typical film cameras, meaning they fit in places that the latter do not, giving the movie (in parts) an eerie "i'm there" feeling. A consequence of being in closer quarters with the characters is a simmering tension: you feel that one of the main characters is a dangerous fuck and you don't know what he has in mind next. The performance of Jamie Foxx is less impressionable... or maybe that's the point: the character is somewhat disconnected from the world, and is thus someone who hasn't got a hold of the situation and is just waiting for it to pass. In other areas the flick offers nicely stylistic night time views of a sprawling metropolis, and dialogue that has a considerable portion of substance to it.

Overall Collateral is not a masterpiece, but it is notably better than most of the recent stuff in cinemas and on DVD.

posted by snwbrdr-xyz at 20:19

Monday, October 18

sidewalk at sunset

pics from a few weekends back:

click on the photos to see bigger versions

posted by snwbrdr-xyz at 20:24

Sunday, October 17

DVD Review: 21 Grams

I've finally got a chance to see 21 Grams, a movie which has a lot of good buzz about it in the form of Oscar nominations for Benicio Del Toro and our very own Naomi Watts. Let's not beat around the bush. Overall this movie sucked. MAJORLY.

The movie relies on the non-linear showing of the storyline, ala Pulp Fiction. This sucks you in, as you try to figure out what fits where. Along the way you see three types of acting: fine, with great emotional depth (Watts), annoyingly stoic (Sean Penn, who seems to do this in every movie) and old-school (Del Toro). If you re-assemble the movie into a linear portrayal, you get a fairly boring story about human loss, loss of faith, organ transplants and bad luck. The movie attempts to make itself more serious by trying rather too hard to make the relationships between its characters dysfunctional and convoluted. This works against it, as the plot gets to the point of being unbelievable. Towards the end I really didn't care what happened.

Was this worth $7 ? You already know my answer.

posted by snwbrdr-xyz at 18:12

Friday, October 15

Australia's verdict

To my American cousins: do yourself and the world a favour, by voting that fucker out of the White House.

An extract from the above-linked poll (which is part of similar polls from around the world):

Q2. Overall, do you have a very favourable opinion, a somewhat favourable, somewhat unfavourable or very unfavourable opinion towards...

A. Americans

Very favourable ... 19%
Somewhat favourable ... 53%
Somewhat unfavourable ... 17%
Very unfavourable ... 4%
Don't know ... 6%

B. President George Bush
Very favourable ... 7%
Somewhat favourable ... 25%
Somewhat unfavourable ... 25%
Very unfavourable ... 39%
Don't know ... 4%

posted by snwbrdr-xyz at 13:48

Tuesday, October 12

Females and their convoluted ways

Been meaning to write a piece on the "dating game". This article is a good starting point as any. In it Nick Calacouras shows that he is, like we all were at some point, fairly clueless when it comes to females. Though he does bring up an interesting point: "One friend of mine refuses to acknowledge any communication from a man unless he calls her. Yet if she found herself fancying a guy, she would sit at home, too afraid to make any moves herself."

This says so many things it's not funny. Many times have I encountered females like that. My sister is one of them. The above quote is the tip of more general ideas, one of them being: a female will almost always wait for the male to make a move, which she can then reject or accept. In other words, it is in her nature to prefer to have the power in the situation. Nice'n'safe. The male has to do the work. No wonder males die earlier.

Thank fucking God there is a short-circuit to this bullshit behaviour: don't put yourself in that kind of situation in the first place. I don't mean become gay or start rooting chickens, simply DO NOT say things like "you have the most beautiful eyes. Can I buy you a drink?" to a girl you've just met. The girl hears this instead: "I am the 192nd guy today who said the same thing. Can I bribe you with an alcoholic beverage so we can have sex later?". You've just failed the first test. That's right, the first test. It shows that you're willing to be a supplicate her. That you're not a challenge. That she can freeload a drink from you.

If you have to comment on her eyes at all (let's say she has green eyes), a more useful thing to say would be: "You have nice eyes. Are you wearing coloured contact lenses?" That puts an entirely different spin on things. It's a compliment mixed with something which defuses the compliment. Yeah, heavy stuff. It shows that you've noticed her, but you're also telling her that you think she is a fake. That you're not like the 191 guys before you. If she keeps talking to you, presto: you've just passed the first test.

One can write an entire book on this shit. To be continued.

posted by snwbrdr-xyz at 18:44

Sunday, October 10

Yet Another DVD Review: Cabin Fever

I'm on a roll this weekend. Cabin Fever is a fun horror flick that never takes itself too seriously. You shouldn't either, because trying to extract meaning from horror movies is like trying to understand economics by reading Shakespeare. The plot is basically about a bunch of college kids who get away to, guess what, a cabin in the woods, where Things Soon Go Bad (TM). [insert obligatory gory stuff here]. What makes this entertaining is the interspersed comedy and a few ridiculous characters. Quite enjoyable with a bunch of mates and plenty of alcohol.
posted by snwbrdr-xyz at 22:14

Friday, October 8

DVD Review: Thirteen

It feels like it was only last week that I was a teenager, hence the emotions going through the main character in Thirteen hit a few chords in my head. The movie tells the story of an almost everyday teenage girl, which is to mean that she is boiling on the inside; the partial outlet of her frustrations is via hidden self mutilation. The source of the frustrations include feeling that she doesn't fit it, lack of money, her mother's boyfriend, her absent father, etc. Along comes Evie, a slick and manipulative teenage chick, and the boiling part of the main character's persona finds a more direct outlet. It could be said that the movie simply potrays the effects of a dysfunctional family, but that would be doing a disservice to the energy that is present throughout the flick. We see behaviour, that will be shocking to some viewers (read: parents of teenage girls), on an intensity similar to Fight Club (and that goes far beyond the first 2 minutes). Worth seeing.
posted by snwbrdr-xyz at 19:23

Tuesday, October 5


Attacked the town on the weekend, and made the absolutely groundbreaking discovery that Long Island Iced Tea is one of the quickest shortcuts to intoxication. This ensured that the rest of the night was basically a blur, with a partial recollection of: a blonde californian chick, a conversation via SMS and a yiros. That and a bloody long hangover the next day.
posted by snwbrdr-xyz at 22:06

Tuesday, September 28

Department of Global Denial

Fred Webber, president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, says:

"I come from Maine and we had one of the coldest winters on record. It was very, very cold. A lot of people are scratching their beans about whether global warming is occurring. It's a question worth addressing, but on a global basis." [source: NY Times]

Fred "The Retard" Webber made the comments in context to California's regulation that requires automakers to begin selling vehicles with reduced greenhouse gas emissions by model year 2009. The auto industry is screaming blue murder! there is no proven technology! it will be too expensive! there is no such thing as global climate change! the dog ate my homework! blah blah! [related news stories: CNN, Motortrend]

No such thing as global climate change? Fred, dear boy, extreme weather (such as very cold winters) is one of its effects. Since you're too busy brown-nosing your pay masters, here are a few relevant links: The Exploratorium, The Science of Global Warming and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. If that's too heavy for you Fred, a recent news story on melting glaciers might be easier to digest.

No proven technology? Let's take a quick stroll: the simple Displacement on Demand (DoD), which shuts down half the cylinders during highway crusing; Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT); reducing weight via use of aluminium instead of steel (as in the Jaguar XJ); replacing large displacement engines with turbo-charged or super-charged lower displacement engines; replacing hydraulic power steering with electric power steering; integrated alternator/starter motor; use of petrol-electric hybrid engines, more than adequately demonstrated in the Toyota Prius; or how about the relatively simple Permo-Drive, which can be easily added to trucks. No, you're right Fred, there is no proven technology.

Too expensive? Sure, adding extra shit always makes a product more expensive at first. But then, Freddie boy, you're forgetting the effects of economies of scale, which in English means that the more you produce of something, the cheaper it becomes (prime example: DVD players).

Fred, there is one thing I have to know: did you get your qualifications from a Corn Flakes box? Or did you suck one of your paymasters' cocks?

posted by snwbrdr-xyz at 19:31

Friday, September 24


As seen at the London Fashion Week. I can just see this at the next dinner party.
posted by snwbrdr-xyz at 17:30

public nuisance on four wheels

My eyes encounter these strange four wheeled objects everyday, so a review on the "new" VZ Commodore is a refreshing indulgence in bubble bursting. When the VZ's original ancestor was let loose onto the masses in 1997, my initial reaction was what the fuck were they thinking?!? Here was a car with 1960s pushrod (!!) engine, a rudimentary 4 speed automatic gearbox and styling which is best described as an idiot's interpretation of voluptous. ok, let's use softer words - the boot (aka trunk) was FAT. Was including suggestive wheel arches (as seen in Holden/Opel Astra) deemed as too fucking expensive ? Design by Committee of Accountants indeed. And yet people bought this car in droves (perhaps because the other "main" contender at the time, namely the AU Falcon, was an even greater exercise in stylistic lunacy). Fast forward a few years to the VY Commodore, where they finally fixed up the back, and sharpened the front. Much better, but upon closer inspection it looked like a mish-mash of soft and sharp styles. Which is exactly what it was. A hack. Same engine, same gearbox. Pressing the FF button again brings us to 2004, where the styling has been slightly sharpened, and a "revolutionary" engine bolted in. Revolutionary in Holden speak means "technology that was new in 1988". The retards at Holden also forgot that a gearbox from this century is de rigeur. If I didn't know better, I'd say there is a conspiracy to keep decent style and recent technology confined to the so-called prestige car segment. These days you'd have to exclude BMW from that, as their designer, Chris Bangle, must be seriously enjoying the hashish. But that's another story for another time.
posted by snwbrdr-xyz at 14:37

Thursday, September 23


CD on the speakers (or more correctly, the ripped mp3 version): Wired, by DJ Hyper. Yet another article has been created, spruced, polished, rewritten, respruced, reread about a bazillion times, modified, re-arranged, wording softened (so as not to offend the inevitable retarded reviewers), and finally sent off. By snail mail. Because this particular journal is still living in pre-internet days. Because it has a relatively high Impact Factor. In the mean time, another one of my articles has finally appeared on ScienceDirect. Two years has passed since it was submitted. Don't people get honorary sainthoods to stretching their patience this far?? The next step in my World Domination Plan (tm) is to cause more dead trees, through the creation of yet another article. Not that I really give a shit about it, as the fun factor in this is approaching close to zero. Why do you do it then? Think of it as an insurance policy for the future. Yet another description might be the masochist's way of passing time. I should seriously lighten up.
posted by snwbrdr-xyz at 14:36

Wednesday, September 22


desert dragons at pets? bearded iguanas? taking them out for a walk? restoring the species of mammoths by bleding their DNA with elephants? mobile phones with fuel-cell batteries (no idea how we progressed to that one). extracting energy from blood to power micro-machines. not getting fat as a result. yes, this is what we discuss at lunch. helluva lot better than the latest "who fucked who" bullshit.
posted by snwbrdr-xyz at 15:37

Monday, September 20

more smut

while searching for blogs by people with PhDs, I found this hillarious entry from an MD in Manhattan. yes, i'm perverted.
posted by snwbrdr-xyz at 22:35


Got completely trashed. On a school night no less. Naughty, naughty. The (Old) Lion is turning into an meat market, something which I never enjoyed. Or is it the previously mentioned near impossibility of having a conversation ? Or being sardined ? No matter, much better atmosphere was attained at the Oxford Hotel, with friendly beauties behind the bar.
posted by snwbrdr-xyz at 19:25

Sunday, September 19

Being John Malkovich

Blogs: the ability to "see" life through someone else's eyes. For example, Belle De Jour gave us the life of a call girl in London, UK. The blog is now officially finished (she managed to wring out a book deal), but the archives are still a top read. And for those wondering what the title is about, click here.
posted by snwbrdr-xyz at 19:27

Friday, September 17

The stuff of life

Finally, some inspiration: a very interesting article in IEEE Spectrum, titled Why We Fall Apart. The authors show that human longevity trends are very similar to the reliability trends of machines made up of multiple systems, leading to some very thought provoking conclusions; one of them being is that I am in the wrong line of research.
posted by snwbrdr-xyz at 16:09

Monday, September 13

mt kosciusko

in sydney, enjoying perfect weather. walking around the opera house, where the eye-candy is on roller blades. had the worst room mate for the last few days of my snow exodus: the guy snored like a friggin' truck. nothing would wake this bastard!! strangulation was considered in order to get a decent night's sleep...
posted by snwbrdr-xyz at 13:30

Saturday, September 4

The Research Game

I jumped into research without really knowing what I was getting myself into; it seemed interesting to do a PhD after my undergrad. A few years after the PhD I feel exhausted - so I decided to take a stock of things to see where I stand.

I have taken to the view that research is a game of sorts. There really isn't anything new for the past few years (in my broad research field anyway), and making a small contribution takes a lot of effort. 90% of publications are bullshit (this includes journal articles and conference papers). They're bullshit in the sense that they just rehash ideas, add a little sprinkling on top, tune a few parameters and call it "new". Most of the modifications to well established techniques are just hacks; they are things that would not be taught in a class. They're also bullshit in that ideas "jump" from one field to another; sure you need to demonstrate that it works in the new field, but this type of stuff cannot be seriously called a "new idea".

So the obvious question is: why is crap like this published ? Answer: it is part of the research game. Get a lot of papers published, and people often think that you're doing great work. Lecturers need papers to get promotions (and sometimes to satisfy the research component of their contracts). "Pure researchers" need it as a work output measure to justify their grants or to impress a potential new employer. Laboratories/institutes/universities use it to maintain or enhance their reputation or simply to get some attention. In other words, there is a lot of pressure to publish. But in the end, most of the stuff is just incremental. Rather than working on something decent for a few years, almost all people take the easy road of tinkering with existing methods. Those in the "system" know this, and play along; otherwise, most journals would be only 10 pages thick every month, or conferences would be comprised of presentations for 5 papers... However, applying the economies of scale idea, a lot of the crap publications are necessary to support the good stuff; i.e. for every 100 papers there may be 5 decent ones.

To be continued.

posted by snwbrdr-xyz at 19:26

Wednesday, August 25

Lazy Bastards

the boss tells me: we will be able to support you until mid-next year. after that you can get a grant and just keep publishing stuff to keep the grant-people happy.....

sure... you want me to stick around after the money runs out by dangling a carrot of "you can get money for doing almost nothing". how stupid do you think I am ??

posted by snwbrdr-xyz at 21:53

Thursday, August 19

Tricky Bastards Part 2

Here's a tip from a friend, useful if you ever wanted to know how to proctect yourself from bear attacks.
posted by snwbrdr-xyz at 17:53

Sunday, August 1

review of "Chronicles of Riddick"

Chronicles of Riddick is a sequel-of-sorts to Pitch Black. While Pitch Black is a horrorish sci-fi with not exactly the greatest acting, it is still good viewing for the atmosphere alone; the day/night contrast and overexposed landscapes, as well as the feeling of isolation, certainly set it apart from the mainstream (in a somewhat similar way to the Mad Max series). Chronicles continues the "adventures" of one of the characters from Pitch Black, Riddick, played by Vin Diesel. The movie places too much emphasis on the "i do things my way" part of Riddick, as well as the shallow portrayal (half-baked would be another description) of the Necromancers, a Borg-like race which assimilates humans and then destroys their old homeworlds; some Necromancers move like Agent Smith (The Matrix); the set-pieces also remind me of Dune. Films which borrow ideas can still be good, providing the story is good. This is not the case for "Chronicles", as it simply tries too hard. Whereas Pitch Black was simple in its premise, "Chronicles" covers too many areas, with inadequate stops in between; it feels like 1.5 movies squeezed into one. In the end this flick can still be enjoyed as a DVD, while having drinks with your buddies.
posted by snwbrdr-xyz at 23:53

Monday, July 19

tricky bastards and the end of the world

just had the strangest job interview - very very few technical questions, but useless shit like "why don't you publish in IEEE journals?" or "how do you motivate students?". how to motivate? that's easy - tell them their ass is on the line if they don't get the work done. yes, it was tempting to say that. maybe they even sensed it, because a few questions later the meat grinder interview panel came up with: "were you ever in a project where your head was on the line?". ummm... isn't that everytime ??

onto the other thought line: i wonder whether the western civilization (and the rest of the world, due to globalization) will fall apart. the precedent: the Roman Empire; the Romans abused humans (which indirectly caused the empire's fall); we abuse technology. prime example: the car. we use it without a second thought; we're addicted to it. warnings about global climate change don't concern us - let's go for a drive and get some coffee at that new place... one of the waitresses is real cute.

posted by snwbrdr-xyz at 18:34

Wednesday, July 14


my "boss", two weeks ago: "the sponsor will be very happy with that".

today, even though he hasn't come asking more questions: "check with the sponsor, to make sure that the report has stuff that they want".

this is the type of retard i have to work with.

posted by snwbrdr-xyz at 12:10

Monday, July 12

of V8s and pool tables

let me indulge you in something bizarrely simple.

here i sit, analyzing why an experiment is giving me shit results. backtracking the steps I eventually find the cause. next time i know that without certain precautions the same problem will creep up.

sat nite was a few games of pool. sink the required ball in the pocket. if you hit the target ball at the required angle and power, it will go where it is supposed to.

if i don't put enough fuel in a car and go on a long trip, i will never get to my destination.

or how about this: david was speeding and ran over a pedestrian. the pedestrian wasn't looking and ran across the street. the pedestrian was too distracted talking on a mobile fone. to his girlfriend. his girlfriend wanted something from the shop. the pedestrian and his girlfriend met 6 months ago. david, our hapless speed addict, bought a V8 last week and was coming back from a football game, where his team won. he bought the V8 after saving up for it for 5 years. the pedestrian later died in a hospital.

sensing the common theme yet ? yes, it involves using the brain, but that's not the point.

what if we take this to the extreme ? what if every action is just a sum of previous actions ? what if we are able to predict things at a finer and finer level ? say atom movements, say sub-atomic particle movements, etc. wouldn't eventually everything be predictable ?

posted by snwbrdr-xyz at 20:16

Monday, July 5

beer, ale, amber brew and barley pop

sometimes i wonder wtf i go to nightclubs. no, i definitely don't mind the scenery; some definite works of art there. nor do i mind queuing up for the alcohol, waiting for the bartenders to grace you with their conceited attention; don't mind the smoke either, for most people these days don't smoke much. dancing in nightclubs is a cliched joke, though that's not it. what absolutely pisses me off are the decibels, rendering attempts at conversation into comical repetitions of "what?" or prolonged shouting matches. anybody heard of concentrating the sound in one particular area (say, something revolutionary as the dance floor), or better yet, having a decent size chill-out room ? and yet i flock to these places for the weekly fix of eye candy.

in other news, i have escaped. new place. new area. now just need to get rid of that pesky cat smell.

posted by snwbrdr-xyz at 13:13