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28 June 2008


Isn't it nice the way International Telecommunications Corporations make you feel loved?

I got a letter in the mail from Optus yesterday. It says, in very big letters:

We're making your bill a little clearer

Oh good! Thinks me. How nice!

Then I read the rest.

This is how Optus are making my bill clearer:
  1. My 8-digit customer account number is now 14-digits.
  2. The heading "Usage Summary" is now the "Service Level Summary".
  3. The heading "Plan Options" is now "Discounts".
  4. All the BPAY codes have changed.
This is all.


25 June 2008

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

How awesome is English!?

The above is a grammatically correct sentence, using three meanings of the word 'buffalo': the bison, the place, and the verb, which means 'to bully'.

So, it means: the buffalo from Buffalo who are bullied by other buffalo from Buffalo, also bully buffalo from Buffalo.

Getit? No? Here's the Wikipedia article, which also provides a link to the article on "James while John had had had had had had had had had had had a better effect on the teacher".

19 June 2008

Measuring Up #4

I was at a gathering recently, and a little girl (eight or nine years old) was telling my teacher friend Jellyfish about her Steiner primary school.

JELLY: So what kind of maths are you learning?

LITTLE GIRL: Measurement.

JELLY: That's what I'm doing with my kids at the moment! Are you doing millimetres and metres?


JELLY: Oh. Centimetres?

LITTLE GIRL: (blank) ...

JELLY: (wary) Inches?

LITTLE GIRL: (shakes head) ...

JELLY: What are you measuring in?

The LITTLE GIRL holds up her arm.


JELLY: (in horror) Cubits.

LITTLE GIRL: Yep. It's the length of this part of your arm.

JELLY: Like in Noah's Ark.


JELLY: (cries)

We didn't get a chance to ask the little girl exactly which type of cubits she was learning about. Roman cubits (444.5mm)? Greek cubits? (463.1mm)? Arabic cubits (650.2mm)? Mesopotamian cubits (533.4mm)? Babylonian cubits (496.1mm)? Not to mention Salamis cubits, Persian cubits, the Pergamon cubit the Mesoamerican cubit and the various different Jewish cubits.

18 June 2008

Measuring Up #3

The crazy kids of the French Revolution decided that, while everything was being overthrown, it might be a good time to get on with implementing the whole metric malarkey that Leibniz had been banging on about for so long.

And there was a bit of resistance, but on the whole, the people of France had plenty to be protesting about, and their pitchforks were mostly engaged elsewhere. And it looked like the whole thing would go ahead. It was a pretty sensible idea, after all. Dividing everything up into tens. We have ten fingers, after all.

Except then some smartarse decided that since they were doing metric measurment, they should really do metric time as well. And that didn't go down so well.

Suddenly, midnight was 10 o'clock. Midday was 5 o'clock. There were 100 seconds in a minute, 100 minutes in an hour. Oh, and they started the years again from 0.

So if they'd kept it, and we'd adopted it along with the rest of the metric system, today would be Decadi, 30th Prairial, 216. And it would be 5:65, instead of 2:35.

Needless to say, it didn't really catch on, and was abandoned after six months.

17 June 2008

Measuring Up #2

Today I'm going to share some of my favourite units of measurement.

1. The mickey. One mickey is equal to the smallest detectable amount that a computer mouse can move.

2. Sheds, Barns and Outhouses. These are nuclear physics units, used to quantify the scattering cross-section of very small particle.

3. The nibble. One nibble is 4 bits, or half a byte.

4. The shake. 10 nanoseconds. As in "of a lamb's tail".

5. The jiffy. A computing term, measuring the duration of one tick of the system timer interrupt. About 0.01 seconds.

6. The microfortnight. 1.2096. Created by nerds to stop people whinging about how things that were supposed to take only a "second" didn't actually take exactly a second.

15 June 2008

Measuring Up #1

I've been doing a bit of reading about measurement, and it's surprisingly interesting.

The metric system, for instance. Did you know there are only three countries in the world who haven't adopted the metric system? Liberia, Burma and the United States of America. What excellent company the US keeps.

Let's take a look at the battle of the measurments, Imperial vs Metric.

1 litre of liquid weighs 1 kilo. 78.9382 litres is 78.9382 kilos. This seems sensible.

But in America...

1 pint of liquid weighs 1.0431758 pounds. You want to tell me how much 78.9382 pints weighs without using a calculator?

Obviously not the best example of the many benefits of the Imperial measurement system. Let's try distance.

There are 1000 millimetres in a metre. 1000 metres in a kilometre.

And 12 inches in a foot. And 33/50 feet in a link. And 25 links in a rod. And 4 rods in a chain. And 80 chains in a mile.

Totally makes sense.

Senator Obama, if you're reading this (which I know you are), you might want to consider a bit of a rethink on the whole measuring-stuff front.

14 June 2008

Shame on You, Fairfax

The A2 section of today's Age contained some great stuff. A fabulous article by Ursula Dubosarsky about darkness and the bleak life of Rudolf Těsnohlídek. A good (if short) review of Philip Pullman's Once Upon a Time in the North. A good start really, including these two profound and achingly beautiful voices in young adult literature.

Then, there was a review of Nam Le's The Boat, an adult novel that apparently contains no lesbian vampires (although why the reviewer chose to point this out, I'm not sure. A good headline, perhaps?). The review was by James Ley, can be found on page 31, and contained the following sentence:

"It reads like an unusually well-crafted piece of teen fiction, the work of a gifted imitator rather than a unique talent."

While I understand that hanging Mr Ley up by his thumbs until he squeals is probably not an option, I would like to take this opportunity to suggest that Mr Ley should try reading some teen fiction (like that written by "unique talents" Dubosarsky or Pullman, as an example). And perhaps The Age could, in future, think twice before publishing such patronising and uneducated drivel.

13 June 2008

Silence in the Library

I don't know if anyone's reading this.

I don't even know if there is still an internet. Or anyone to read it.

It started last night. I was at home, with my Jane Austen Book Club. In the middle of a heated discussion about the rather dubious merits of Mrs Smith, my phone rang. It was J, although I didn't recognise her voice at first, she was crying so hard. 'It's over,' she said. 'It's over.'

Then A screamed, and started to cry. She scrambled to her feet and ran out of my house, sobbing. But soon she realised there was nowhere else to go and came back. K's mobile rang. She'd left the baby at home with her husband. As she listened to the voice on the other end, her face went white. Without a word, she got up and fled my house.

That was the beginning.

Everything is so quiet now. I'm at work - I couldn't think of anywhere else to go. I couldn't stay at home... the dark stains on the floor, the spatters on the walls. I can't bear it.

The Library is all dark. There's no one else here. I suppose that's probably for the best.

It took me two hours to walk here - no trains today. I took the back streets. Once, I saw a group of people in the distance... walking down the middle of Hoddle Street. But I ducked away and hid behind a lavender bush. Just in case.

There are no trams going past outside. No cars. No RMIT students. No buskers. Just complete silence.

I'm trying to think of something profound to say as my last words.

But all I can think of is...

11 June 2008

Bring it.

Sharon Creech's Love that Dog is one of maybe two books that is always in my fluctuating top five. It is perfect. A perfect, funny, beautiful, sad, marvellous book.

And now there's going to be a sequel.

05 June 2008

Tickled Pink

  • pink noise
  • pinking shears
  • pink slips
  • pink elephants
  • pinkeye
  • Pink Floyd
  • Pink
  • the Pink Panther
  • your pinkie finger
  • Pink, Oklahoma
  • Mr Pink in Reservoir Dogs
  • pink bits
  • the Pink Ladies
  • pink Cadillacs
  • pink ribbons
  • Pinky Tuscadero in Happy Days
  • Pinky (friend of Perky)
  • Pinky (friend of The Brain)

anyone like to add one?

02 June 2008

Me in Pictures

What a good meme nicked from Penni!

me in pictures

How to play:

a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd's mosaic maker.

The Questions:

1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One Word to describe you.
12. Your flickr name