Tuesday, November 15, 2016

I am over-franchised

Do you tire of seeing your favourite stars wearing their underpants on the outside? Have you tired of lense flares and played-out death-to-the-known-universe scenarios? Have your eyes bored at the next PG-rated infinite unobtainiumed star-destroying pile of money-grubbing merchandised-to-the-hilt pile of crap? If so, welcome to the club. You may have just reached a point where you are looking for something a little less soul-suckingly uninspired.

Is it just me or is it really irritating when every enemy/bum/love interest/arch nemesis is somehow related to everyone in a disturbing 2 degrees of Kevin Bacon. That just smacks of lazy writing and a general complacency to dumb things down for the ADD generation. Hey, at least they're not catering for the Pepsi Generation (whatever that means).

There are exceptions, of course. Movies like Deadpool did their best to eschew the standard fare while riding the coat tails of a well-trodden path. It was at its best when it was breaking the fourth wall and noting all the stupid things that it and other movies were doing - even if it's a little too easy to follow the wink-wink path. I think I became a real fan of Ryan Reynolds after he did an interview/roasts with himself after receiving the GQ Man of the Year award.

Maybe I'm just tired of the nefarious higher-ups focussing solely on maximising potential ROI rather than introspectively asking themselves: what would truly entertain/distract the drones to enough-of-a-degree that they will not thwart my plans to take over the world? Maybe the visage is slipping to a point where I am able to see past the curtain to the actual underworkings of Hollywood. Or maybe I just need a few more 'splosions and 'member berries to keep me from waking up. Speaking of which: 'member when movies were good?

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 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. But 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. In the end, both the ATP and the WTA are run as a businesses where profits and earnings matter. So, 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.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

... by any other name

On my quest to play racquet-based sports, I made the resolution to join a league so that I could hone my skills and maybe get a little more exercise as well. And all was well; I registered with the USTA and then went on with my naïve quest to join a league. This should be easy. Now, either I am living in the most affluent part of America (nope) or they are expecting the average pleb to fork out mucho dinero to become a member of their Scooby Doo Club. So, irrespective of whether I use any of the other facilities, this equated to $2500 for the membership and an ongoing $2500 per-year to use the facilities ... which also includes Tennis, thankfully. Needless to say, I wasn't impressed.

Back in the days of living in Australia, a six-month season of Tennis would be less than $200 (with balls) and a season of Football (RE:Soccer) would be even less. Apparently in America you need to take out a second mortgage on your house to play - in comparison to the rest of the world which somehow feel less interested in 'gentrifying' all the sports. I don't understand the mindset that exclusivifying sports is somehow a good thing. Yes, private lessons will still cost but the actual cost to play should be open to all those who have any desire to compete. So this might just be one more reason why the BMI of the average teen is moving skywards.

However, I did find a work-around. Thanks to meetup.com which provided a willing troupe of players to bunk the system of exorbitant fees and actually play some Tennis rather than weigh up whether they would be eating a meal this week. Thank goodness for alternatives.

Friday, April 22, 2016

What once was old

I am noticing a trend. It has come to my attention that some of the traditions and technologies of yore are making a come-back. I have recently started buying milk from a local dairy that comes in glass bottles. Naturally, the milk tastes better and is more expensive but is nicely offset by a reimbursement upon returning the bottle. The end result is you're supporting local business and also helping the environment.

The same thing happened with my choice of razor. I have now reverted to my grand dad's double-edged safety razor ... and I'm loving it. I wouldn't say I've got the most illustrious of stubbles but it seemed that with the modern razors I wouldn't even get through a single shave before noticing the blade has dulled and clogged up. I would also get horrible shaving rash and in-growns from the faulty concept of multiple blades. In contrast, the safety blade have fewer issues: easy to clean, stays sharp for longer and avoids many of the issues around shaving rash or in-growns. The one catch is you need to be a little more careful to avoid nicks ... but that's fine. It's also, coincidentally, significantly cheaper. I bought a shaver + 20 blades for less than $15 shipped. That's enough to keep my appearance dapper for a whole year. I'm also using olive oil in an atomizer for shaving cream. It works better and results in a smooth shave and with no need for application of moisturizers post-shave. 

Side note: most moisturizers actually dry out your skin due to the prevalent use of alcohol as a core ingredient. 

And so, in conclusion, just because something is no longer new, doesn't mean we should set it aside. A lot of old technology (like vinegar / baking soda for cleaning) are making a come-back. Not because it's cheaper but because it's simply just better.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Something something dark side

So, it has come to my attention that Australia (where I formerly lived) is doing their best little brother impression of the US. It has got to the point where they are not content in simply replicating American culture or implementing favourable US sanctions. They have now turned their attention to raising the price of education and privatising health care. In the words of my favourite meme:

But, really, it is. For those who have read 1984, you would know that the best way to control the general public is by ensuring that they are permanently in debt. Having a mandatory private healthcare system and an overbearingly expensive education system (which was once free just a few decades back) would ensure that the average 20-something would have a prohibitive debt right out of university. They would be paying that debt for at least the next 10 years (on average) and would basically result in more taxes against the average Australian. All I can say is I'm happy I'm no longer in Australia.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Them's fighting words

Now that super-hero movies are no longer enough, movie-makers are now drawing on the hero v hero as the latest carrot to be dangled in front of your nose. I will now break down the obvious outcomes for each of these versus movies.

For Batman v Superman:

Why/how Batman would win

He probably wouldn't ... but he would have a fighting chance if he:
  1. Built himself a suit made out of Kryptonite
  2. Surrounded himself in an atomised cloud of Kryptonite gas
  3. Only fired Kryptonite-laced bullets
  4. Infused Kryptonite into all food stuffs and slowly weakened Superman
  5. ... and in his weakened state, injected him with concentrated Kryptonite into Superman's blood stream (using a Kryptonite syringe)

Why Superman would win

He would easily win if he:
  1. Used super speed to fly through Bruce Wayne
  2. Used super speed to go back in time to kill Bruce Wayne as a kid
  3. Used his laser eyes to burn him to a crisp when he's out playing Bruce Wayne
  4. Went into outer space and threw an asteroid directly at Wayne manor
  5. Split the earth in half
  6. Threw Batman into outer space
  7. Froze Batman with his super breath
  8. Punched Batman into smithereens with a 'half-gauge' punch

For Civil War:

Why Iron Man would win

He would easily win if he:
  • Threw a few nukes at Captain America
  • Remote controlled his suits to chest blast from many directions at once
  • Remote controlled his suits to take cap underwater / outer space
  • Poisoned him
  • Shot him
  • Broke his neck
  • Gave him a nasty paper cut whereupon he exsanguinated 
  • Made his brain explode by intentionally smoking a joint made from a doobie-sized American flag while having sex with a woman, spruiking the virtues of the Quran and expressing the belief that the Communists were right

Why Captain America would win

You be dead. There ain't no coming back from a nuke to the face.

Monday, February 29, 2016

What were they thinking?

I woke up to news of The Oscars winners. Finally, old boy Leo wins one of his own, George Miller wins a slew of awards for his Graphic Novel opus: Mad Max ... and Sam Smith wins best Original Song?

HANG ON: that unhummable ball-twisting rendition of something loosely resembling music which was then forcibly impaled into the torso of the Bond franchise has somehow been presented with something more than a wooden spoon? In what world does that even make sense?

To think that Sam's biggest hit 'Stay with Me' is basically just a pitch-shifted rendition of a song by Tom Petty explains a lot (and now has the songwriting credits to prove it). Having said that, the result is a little uninspired; I would like to think it's more the fault of Sam Smith failing to interpret a decent track rather than Tom Petty providing the foundation for mediocrity. Although, if you break it down, it is a very simple melody to begin with - kind of along the lines of Frère Jacques / LOL Smiley Face or Baa Baa Black Sheep / Somebody I used to know so it might just have been a coincidence.

But could it be that Sam Smith is nothing more than an another Darren Hayes? That is, his songs aren't any good unless he's copying (or had someone else compose) his music and so, in a fit of not-so-quiet desperation, resorted to high-pitched wailings to hide the lack of musical coherence? All signs point would point to yes. It would explain a lot. At the point that Darren separated from Savage Garden was the point that his musical career took a nose dive. I guess it would be the same thing for Mr Smith, at the point where he's not stealing music from (at least my) musical luminaries.

I can only assume that the shambling corporate presence was somehow behind the push to incite interest in James Bond / Sam's career prior to the inevitable downward spiral into irrelevance. Kind of along the lines of Ryan Reynolds getting the accolade of Sexiest Man alive; it's just a puff piece to rally the mobs' interest in the elements surrounding the artist (in that case: Dead Pool). I have already known for a long time that The Oscars were nothing more than a ceremony with an agenda. I'm not sure it means anything any more to win an Oscar. Still, congratulations, Leo. It's been a long time coming.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

It's all getting a bit silly, really

Ah Jeremy. With your bouffant hair and deluded desires to expound your every whim upon the world, it is no surprise that at certain times you overstep your abilities (I am noticing a theme). I am, of course, talking about the furor (not that Führer) elicited from your 'grand dad view' on transgenders. However, if you are familiar with my blog, you will probably see that I'm not averse to sticking my neck out on occasion. And on that bombshell, to follow the Top Gear formula, I am going to defend Clarkson's right to have an opinion - heck, I might even support his view a little.

So 'the storm within the thimble-full of tea' is that Jeremy stated that transgenders only existed in Bangkok and were generally used as part of an allegory to your buck's night rather than actually existing. Now, if anyone understands humour, that was obviously just that. No one in their right mind should think that he was being serious. He then goes on to admonish a transgendered man's desires to have a child. And I would have to agree. That 'man' who had a child and then went on Oprah should be ashamed of herself. I have no issues with her desires to be a man but I do have issue with her still wanting to have a child. That's a women's rights; not a man's. At the point you decide to be a man is the point that you give up your right to have a child yourself. You can't sidle the fence and state that you like having stubble and playing 'Ken' (or Thomas in her case) but you also like to have the luxury of being able to procreate. You basically shat upon your desires to be treated or perceived as a man. Congratulations. You will always be a hairy masculine woman in my eyes from now on.

... not necessarily a horrible result

Clarkson also derides a parents' support of their son having a sex change prior to adulthood. And I would have to agree. At the age of 10 I was far from the grounded (some would still say childish) man I am today. My ideals and convictions have certainly changed over time and for his parents to make such a serious modification to his (and now her) remaining life is 100% insane. Even if their son's views were not to change, I would want him to be the one signing the consent form. Just as you are not allowed to smoke, drink, vote and drive prior to a certain age, you should not be allowed to make life-altering surgery just because 'this week' (note the hyperbole) you desire to be a girl. Even if you are a very pretty looking girl doesn't make your parents' current actions correct ... for now.

Now I am sure I have alienated some people with my views but, really, that is the point. I have a right to have a view that is not your own. That is what makes us human. For picketers to already be calling for Jeremy's unnamed show to be cancelled is ridiculous. If you truly want to make him ineffectual, *don't watch his show* and *don't respond in your own hyperbole*. It really is that simple. All you are doing is providing him an even greater platform and influence over public media. Similar to the call to ban Alice Cooper's 'School's out for Summer' (which made his album go platinum), all you're doing is putting money in his pocket. Genius. Well played, Jeremy.