Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Knowing when to fold em

As the delicious Kenny Rogers already knows, you need to know when to fold 'em. And, naturally, I cannot help thinking that we might be nearing the very zenith of this movement. In what, you may ask? Well, mostly the unshakable urge to get away from civilisation to some place well above sea level and then follow a self-sustaining lifestyle. Now, before you think I'm too much of a nut, I'll try and explain my madness. 

The first thing I realise is that it seems awfully self-indulgent to think that the world would end during my lifetime. But, naturally, I also don't just want to just sit back and see what happens; nor do I want to be one of those crack-pots who walks around with a banner around his neck yelling out 'The end is nigh!' But we're at a point where we're past just thinking it mere coincidence that we're wearing board shorts during winter. As XKCD defined so eloquently, we're on the path to our own destruction. And this can be corroborated by more than one smart person.

With populations projected to reach 10.5 billion by 2050 and a lot of the third-world countries becoming more advanced (RE:polluting/consuming), the only thing that might save us is if we have ourselves a good old-fashioned world war to thin out the herds or, alternatively, why not the Twelve Monkeys solution? On seconds thoughts: no. I'm pretty sure no one wants to relive seeing Brad Pitt play a crack pot again.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

We believe you, Jen

Apparently Jennifer Aniston suffers from dry and itchy eyes so much so that she is spruiking the virtues of eyelove. Her endorsement could obviously have nothing to do with her favourite past time, could it? As can be clearly noted, the effects of weed can ravage your health, beauty and ability to be successful.

That is not to say that it doesn't have any side-effects. The main one relates to the inability to do anything other than, like, chill. Many musicians ascribe to the benefits of inspiring them but that doesn't mean the quality of their latest opus could not be skewed as a result. I guess Jennifer said it best when she stated 'There is nothing wrong with that. Everything in moderation.' and that is probably accurate of most things.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

I am not a hipster

Kids these days; with their bouffant beards, rolled-up jeans, sock-less shoes, appreciation of non-franchise establishments and all things retro, they seem to be pretty happy with themselves. I am not that happy as, by proxy, the things I appreciate somehow disturbingly coincide with the hipsters of today.

"I was doing it before it was cool"

I would cry out ... but people would just nod and then mutter under their breaths: goddamn hipster. Which brings me to today's point: I built myself a retro console that is not only cool and nostalgic but also fun. The things I needed were:

This micro-device plays most classic consoles: Atari, ZX Spectrum, NES, SNES, Master System, Megadrive, N64 ... and even the PS1! Naturally, with such an under-powered machine, the higher-fidelity games (RE: newer) will chug a little but that's not what this is about. I would have thought that with the base software system (https://retropie.org.uk/) being at 3.8, most of the bugs would be sorted out. This was not the case. I had a devil's own job getting the bluetooth controllers to get hooked up and exiting the emulator correctly (press select+start) but I persevered. The steps were:
  1. Install baseline image
  2. Boot up raspberry pi
  3. Plug in controller via USB cable
  4. Set up wifi
  5. Update retropie setup script (upgrades settings so they're usable)
  6. Manually register bluetooth devices via bluetooth settings
  7. Change bluetooth auto-connect settings to poll
  8. Disable overscan
  9. Reboot
  10. Open retroarch settings UI
  11. Bind keys for each bluetooth joystick and save
  12. Press F4 and then traverse to /opt/retropie/configs/all/retroarch-joypads
  13. Modify hotkey/exit button mapping stored under configurations
There was a bit of mapping confusion under /opt/retropie/configs/all/retroarch-joypads which necessitated me removing all the config files under that path and redoing it cleanly. Naturally most this was not documented at all. I had to glean direction from various sources and my own desires to get 'r done. The end result is pretty nice. I can do all things retro and it all works pretty well. Yes, I spent a little more than buying a stock/pre-made console but the end result is better. However, this is not recommended unless you enjoy masochism (or you know someone really cool) although you cannot deny the results.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The unlucky country

Ah Australia. With your alluring beaches and your desires to put arthropods upon searing metal, you should have been great. You were meant to live up to your promise of being the lucky country but for those living there this has not necessarily aligned. For me, the problem was not your beaches but the political arena and, apparently, this view is not limited to just myself. It has recently come to my attention that Australia will probably have 6 prime ministers in 6 years. From the lobotomized antics of Tony Abbot to the mismanagement of Malcom Turnbull, Australia has been in a drought.

Even though that level of turn-over is impressive in itself, they now have the unenviable task of having to vote in the next imbecile. Unsurprisingly, this has ended in a stalemate. The Australian people have spoken and they are under the resounding conclusion that there is literally no choice. It is a funny situation. At this point they need to clear house as neither party is remotely capable of coherent thought. Other aspects are that their GDP is buoyant while salaries and unemployment rates remain relatively poor. Inflation is at close to 2% (compared to the US/UK <=0.2%); even though their interest rates are at record lows and currency is significantly under-valued.

Now, outside of the numbers, this is not what irks me. It's that a country with such potential is so poorly managed. Australia has a near limitless source of core resources, beautiful beaches, deadly animals and a can-do population and yet they are hindered by a political culture whose only desires are to benefit themselves rather than make Australia great again (to paraphrase Trump). Australia is at a point where they cannot keep playing the retard card. They need a real leader with people under them who are competent. The Joe Hockey's of this world should just go back to selling used cars or working at the local chip shop.

Friday, June 10, 2016

If women were truly equal

Stay with me; I'm an equalist.

For those of you who don't know, I like tennis; in particular, playing tennis. Sometimes I even like watching tennis, but, what I don't like is watching Women's Tennis. Now, before you start blurting out words such as 'Sexist' or 'Misogynist' or 'woman-hater', the reason is because I can't stand listening to all the screeching that goes on from the top woman players. I can understand that you sometimes need to grunt/screech on a particularly hard (or poorly hit) shot but when it's done on a drop shot or slice, you have to question whether it's not just gamesmanship. Thankfully Sharapova, one of the biggest troublemakers, has been banned for two years. Unfortunately it wasn't for screeching like a harpy but I am sure the ITF is working on that (one would hope).

I also read an article recently which went on to outline the virtues of Andy Murray's forward-thinking views on Women's tennis getting equal pay / respect. While I agree on the respect part, I'm not so sure that woman should get equal pay. In all of the opens, women only have to play the best of three sets whereas men have to play five. If they were truly equal, shouldn't there just be a 'tennis open' rather than holding 'sexist competitions' for each gender? I wonder how long it would take for the female players to complain about it being unfair when they're having to compete against the likes of Djokovic or Murray? As was proven, a 200+ ranked man beat the Williams sisters who were top seeds. Make of it what you will. But, of course, that doesn't mean a woman cannot beat a man. I've been beaten many times by women and, as the previous link shows, retired male pro players can be beaten ... maybe that puts a sleight on the win but all I know is I would be beaten by all of them.

In the end, if I don my objectivity hat, it should just come down to numbers. The correct answer to whether WTA players should earn as much as the ATP should come down to comparing WTA revenues to those of the ATP. Simply put: if the WTA earns more then they should earn more or vice-versa. Now that would be fair, wouldn't it?

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

It seems so obvious

Now, unless you've been on under a rock for quite a while, you would probably know that the weather hasn't been aligning with our expectations and is trending ever-warmer as this animation shows pretty effectively. Naturally, people are getting exasperated because they're towing the line by, you know, recycling and driving a hybrid and buying locally-sourced food stuffs and cycling and using reusable shopping bags and ... But that is not enough. The smoking gun is not your living habits.

It's pretty simple because it's a just a game of numbers. If each person on average produces 200 kilos of carbon a year, if you translate that over the rest of the world, that results in 1.4 billion tonnes of carbon being generated each year. So, whether you're able to reduce your own impact to 25% of the average, as a whole, that doesn't make a lick of difference. So, that really isn't a solution as third-world countries are industrializing, our average environmental footprint is set to go up.

Then there's the projection which states that by 2050 the world's population will balloon to almost 10 billion people. Let that sink in. So, really, your altruistic desires to save the dolphins are not going to have much of an effect on the world's problems. Even David Attenborough is of the belief that we're heading towards our own demise. Simple factors like clean water, sufficient fuel, sufficient food become a much tougher balancing act when you have 10 billion people to satisfy. The other problem is that we are trending towards an aging population. How long will it be until the governments impose an age limit and start weeding out the oldies? Or possibly imposing a military mandated one-child policy? As the Aztecs can attest, at some point the land will reach the physical limit of what it can provide and result in cataclysmic famine.

The simple solution is to follow the great Doug Stanhope's message of love and acceptance (very NSFW) or make friends with the venerable Mad Max. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A reverse-swing in-seam

Well, it's official: The former Top Gear team now have a name for their Top Gear 2.0, namely: The Grand Tour. Maybe a little underwhelming as a name choice, yes ... but, if you break it down, it makes sense. 

A lot of cars have 'GT' on the end of their names, there's a Grand Touring race which usually involves a relatively long cross-country drive, GT is the reverse of TG (or Top Gear) ... and, for most people, the most entertaining parts of Top Gear are usually the Grand Tours through various regions of the world.

Personally, I think the move to Amazon was the right one. Considering the incessant censorship and back-pedaling they needed to do to remain on the air (mostly due to Clarkson), it only seems right that they move over to the Wild, Wild West of streaming. What was once restrictive is now seemingly free of the shackles of government-regulated content. I think this is brilliant. There is no longer a need to replace bleeps for their blasts and, quite possibly, we are in for even more unruly views on the goings on of past wars ... and I can't wait. As long as hate speeches don't become de rigeur, I don't mind a little tasteless humour to go with my affinity for Doug Stanhope and other gutter-dwellers.