Why Geordi La Forge is not a great character

Don't get me wrong -- I like LeVar Burton, and I like what he did with the character. And he did considerable things, because he had very little to work with. I CAN SEE YOU

So, what are Geordi's defining traits? He only has two of them.

  • he's kind of blind
  • he's not good with women

And that's essentially it. You're probably wondering about the "kind of" qualifier attached to Geordi's blindness -- he's not blind. He has a gizmo that allows him to see. He has a disability, but he doesn't cope with the disability inasmuch as in 99% of episodes, he doesn't have a disability. He is not in any way different to any other character, save for a hair barrette over his eyes. Supposedly Geordi suffers from headaches as a result of wearing the visor, but that's not mentioned very often, and it was virtually never a plot point.

I guess this is something that's charming in hindsight. We can look back at the '80s, and see that it was normal and acceptable for a TV show to have a token minority character -- in this case, a vision-impaired guy -- but it was also okay to sidestep the dramatic handicap (no offence intended) of having to regularly acknowledge and deal with the character's difficulty or inability to perform tasks by simply handwaving the disability with technobabble and completely ignoring it.

Geordi's blindness and his VISOR gadget were mentioned a few times, for example:

  • the pilot episode "Encounter at Farpoint" has Dr. Crusher give Geordi an examination, leading to the introduction of the headaches the visor causes, and a bit of techsplanation of how the thing works
  • in "Heart of Glory" we get to see through Geordi's visor for the first and last time (sort of, more in a moment)
  • in "The Enemy", Geordi's VISOR fails completely, rendering him genuinely blind for about half an episode
  • in "The Mind's Eye", Geordi is brainwashed by Romulans who jam horrible imagery directly into his VISOR's implants, and then use the VISOR's carrier frequencies to remote-control him
  • "Parallels" had Geordi as the cause of Worf's quantum universe shifts, as his VISOR emitted some kind of frequency that caused the Klingon to leap between dimensions
  • in Star Trek: Generations, the two Klingon sisters stick a webcam into Geordi's VISOR to watch him bathe (not making this up)
  • in Star Trek: First Contact, they gave up on it entirely and just gave him some mechanical eyeballs

Apart from the one episode -- "The Enemy" -- where Geordi is blinded because EM interference on the planet he's stranded on fries his VISOR, his blindness was never genuinely used as a unique plot point.

I think it may not have hurt to have limited Geordi in some way, rather than giving him a tool on his face that actually allows him to see stuff a sighted person cannot. (Infrared, EM radiation, etc.) Most characters are built upon something that's lacking, not an additional ability. Picard lacks family connections, Data lacks (but desires) emotion, Worf lacks other Klingons, Spock lacks (but does not desire) emotion, Odo lack(ed) any knowledge of where he came from or what he was, The EMH lacked a name, Neelix lacked decorum. All of the best characters were absent something.

All Geordi was really lacking was skill with women.

On climate change, because nothing's sacred

Opinions. They're like arseholes: everyone has one, and they all stink. For what it's worth, here's mine, vis-a-vis climate change. You can take it or leave it. It's pretty brief. I don't care if climate change is 'real'. The net outcome of having people, in general, do the correct thing outweighs any political shenanigans that are going on behind the scenes.


Let's suppose that climate change is real. What's the best we can hope for? The best we can hope is that people will comply with the basic instructions they're being not-so-subtly given. Look after the environment. Switch to alternative fuels. Be energy efficient. Waste less. Use less. Be, in general, healthier -- both in your life, and for the planet you live on. What's the worst we can hope for? We're screwed.

Now let's suppose climate change is not real. I don't have an opinion either way. As I said above, I don't care if it's real or not. I do believe, however, that the underlying issues are very real: We will, one day, run out of fossil fuels. It's inevitable. They're non-renewable. Once they're gone, there are no more. We need to find alternative energy sources, and if they're ultimately renewable ones, they'll eventually end up cheaper, more reliable, and more efficient than what we're currently using. We need to look after our environment. Whether all of the crud we're pumping into the atmosphere is causing climate change is entirely moot, the point is: we're pumping it into our atmosphere. We're having small-scale, detectable effects on our immediate surroundings. We live in smog-covered cities. We need to, generally speaking, clean this shit up. So, supposing climate change is not real, our best-case scenario is a cleaner, more efficient, more advanced world than the one we live in. What's the worst we can hope for? Well, I suppose we can live in shit.

It's an option.

As an addendum: I find the whole climate change debate to be akin to the argument than man never walked on the moon. At the end of the day, unless you're a climate scientist in your own backyard, you're relying on other people to supply you with the data you're basing your argument on. Often, those people are the ones you're arguing against, a task that has some pretty obvious flaws. You can believe what you please when it comes to man walking on the moon, at the end of the day, the people holding all of the proof are the ones trying to convince you. Unless you've got a spaceship of your own, you'll never know for certain. I'm starting to think climate change is an awfully similar argument from the average Joe's perspective.

Observations about energy drinks

A long time ago, when I was more enthusiastically reviewing my ridiculous collection of energy drinks, I received an e-mail from someone, asking something along the following lines: "Why do you drink and review energy drinks when you think they all taste like crap?"

Allow me to address this.

I don't think they all taste like crap. I think most of them taste like crap.

Energy drinks, by their nature, have a great tendency to taste terrible. This is because the key ingredients that give energy drinks their energiness taste, with few exceptions, like shit.

Caffeine is a very bitter tasting chemical. That's why most caffeinated beverages are extremely sweet (such as energy drinks), or have their own bitter flavour to mask the caffeine (like coffee or tea).

B-group vitamins, a group that includes our friends thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, folic acid and B12 (among several others) taste horrible. Have you ever been curious enough to chew on a Berocca tablet? That's b-group vitamins. They are not tasty.

Taurine is made from bile. Sorry to spoil that one for you, but it's true. It's mostly synthetic these days, but still. If someone tells you "that's not real vomit, it's synthetic vomit", I don't think you'll be okay with it going into your dinner. Needless to say taurine has a hideously unpleasant flavour, and contributes big time to the unique and apparently desirable flavour of Red Bull.

An example of a good energy drink.

The trick for manufacturers of energy drinks is to create a flavour that either masks or compliments these unpleasant flavours. Most energy drinks take the "overpower it with something sweet and fruity" approach. Some take the "embrace the flavour, enhance it, make it salty and sweet" approach, like Red Bull. Others take a completely different tack, and throw in peculiar Amazonian berries and things you can't pronounce in the hopes of creating a unique flavour they can call their own. Sometimes this works. Most times it doesn't.

Limitations bear creativity. Without a box to think outside of, and envelopes to push, new flavours and concepts can't be created. The fact that energy drinks are made to suffer is what makes them fascinating to me. Sometimes I come across a good one.

It makes me happy.

Bad automotive marketing decisions

There are a squillion possible things you can name a car. Generally, you take something that sounds vaguely foreign, and slap an "a" on the end. Cecil at The Straight Dope did a column a while ago (and by 'a while', I mean 'when I was one year old') on the subject. I do not understand the marketing logic behind the decision, then, to bring out a new vehicle with the same name as an older one. This is particularly puzzling when the new vehicle shares zero design lineage with the old one. It's not a two-thousand-and-whatever model of the same car, it's a whole 'nother car entirely.

Case in point, the Holden Cruze. Holden is an Australian car manfacturer. Half of the Australian population support them. The other half support Ford. I'll get to them in a moment.

hold_cruzThis is a Holden Cruze from 2002. It's a kind of beach buggy thing. It's pretty hideous. The rear of the thing has ghastly round tail lights. It's about as intimidating as a boiled potato. You might sometimes see re-branded Cruze(s) getting around as Suzuki Ignis(es).

hold_cruz_09This is the Holden Cruze from 2009. It's an economical small car that boasts the looks and spaciousness of a larger car. It's actually kinda sexy, all things considered. It's a completely different vehicle, targeted at a completely different audience in a completely different market sector, and for a completely different purpose. It's clear that someone just kinda thought "Cruze" was a cool name, and it's a shame it was wasted on that Tupperware container on wheels they made in 2002 -- but wait, maybe no-one will remember that piece of junk. Yeah, lets use the name again.

The '09-onwards Cruze is also marketed as the Daewoo Lacetti, in a badge-and-name-change that gives it that ring of class it was initially lacking. The only thing cool about the Daewoo Lacetti is its occasional appearance on Top Gear as the "reasonably priced car", but unfortunately for the '09 Cruze/Lacetti, the car featured on Top Gear is an earlier model that bears no resemblance to the vehicle pictured above. It was also retired from the show and replaced by a Kia. That's just..........rude.

Case in point part deux: The Ford Kuga.

ford_kuga_13This is the 2013 Ford Kuga. It's a cool looking car. Mechanically, it's a four-wheel-drive (ish) thing constructed over the chassis of a Ford Focus. It's marketed in Australia as the smaller brother of the Ford Territory, and aimed at the 'soccer mom' demographic (ironic, perhaps, for the purposes of this article that it circles back around to the market sector the original Holden Cruze was potentially aimed toward).

This is great, except: In the non-rhotic Australian accent, "Kuga" is a homonym with --

ford_cougar-- the Ford Cougar. This horrid thing is a mid-life-crisis-on-wheels from the late '90s to early '00s that was marketed in Australia in thankfully limited numbers.

I do not understand why the choice would not be made to use a more unique name for a car model. There are now undoubtedly loads of Ford Kuga drivers who, upon announcing the name of their new ride, are greeted with the looks of stunned incredulity well due to someone who's just announced they've bought a curved-up ludicrous looking skateboard with two doors and a hernia, until they realise the error of their pronunciation and start inflecting the "ah" in "Kug-aaaahh" like Hermione Grainger.

As an aside, Wikipedia has informed me that "kuga" is the Serb-Croatian word for "plague", and that Ford didn't opt to alter the name for its launch in those countries. Dunno about you, but I want to move to Zagreb and buy a black one.

Grammar peculiarities: "Mose well"

I find it kind of satisfying when I Google the crap out of something and don't ultimately come up with a decent result. It means a couple of things:

  • it means I'm looking for something incredibly obscure, which is always satisfying
  • it means there's an opportunity to fill a gap in the internet, even if I'm filling it with my own opinion

Case in point, the phrase (or fragment of a phrase), mose well. 

It means, rather obviously, "might as well". "I might as well eat an apple" could be contracted to "I mose well eat an apple".

Some examples, trawled from the results of a Google search:

A fair question -- I'm not so pleased with the answer, though. I'm not sure what Samantha means by "the first way is the correct way". Does she mean "mose well", or "most well"? Or "might as well"? My head hurts.

I have that problem ALL the time.

Yes. Yes, you should. 1184 people are waiting with bated breath.

Arnt you?

It's more of a verbal slur than a contraction, and its something that has found its way into writing by purely descriptive means -- people writing they way they speak.

A brief aside on prescriptive versus descriptive recording of language, if I may --

When the words and usage of a language are recorded in the way they should be used, the recording is prescriptive. It's giving an instruction (a prescription, if you will) for how to use the language. A dictionary, usually, is prescriptive.

Descriptive recording is the recording of a language as it is spoken, with all its flaws, with the kind of "bad grammar" that evolves over time through a culture of people who use the language as a tool for communicating efficiently with one another. Historically, this kind of record is found in the writings of authors who mimic the voice of characters, inflections and pronunciations exaggerated or enhanced. Today, you'll find it everywhere, from Facebook status updates to "txt speak" and SMS messages.

There's some discord among scholars and pedagogues about which of these methods of recording is right or good, and at the end of the day the answer is always both and neither.

I digress.

Mose well is an informal contraction of "might as well". The closest similar terms I can think of are informal abbreviations like should of, would of and could of. These three examples are descriptive recordings of pronunciation, where the "ov" sound of the contracted "have" in should have, would have and could have has been replaced with its homonym: the word of. In my opinion -- for what that's worth -- should of, could of and would of are wrong. It's entirely possible they're going to worm their way into the English language anyway.

They mose well.

Educational arcs

I have a new annoyance. It's another one of those pieces of English that no one seems to know how to use. It's deeply misunderstood. It's the term "learning curve". I'm continually, it seems, encountering people who believe that because something involves learning, that the entire project can be described as a "learning curve". "It's a learning curve." "This is difficult. It's a learning curve."

This is not correct.

It may have a learning curve. In fact, I guarantee it has one.

A learning curve is not the mere existance of learning. A learning curve is a way of describing the increasing (or decreasing) difficulty in the learning process for a given activity. A steep learning curve exists when a task is difficult to master, a more gentle curve when the job is easier.

You can read about learning curves in far more detail than I care to go into over at Wikipedia, the bastion of opinion-disguised-as-fact and the bane of high school paper graders world-wide.

If you have a new skill to learn, remember that it has a learning curve, and if you want to complain about it, it's probably a steep one.

It's Orb-vious

Some "paranormal" phenomenon can't be easily explained. Some can. I suddenly feel compelled to explain one. Orbs.

The usual story behind orb encounters is that a would-be ghost hunter, or some other kind of believer in orbish things will traipse through a "haunted" location taking happy snaps with their point-and-click digital camera. Upon viewing their photographs, they will more often than not find several of the photos are festooned with round objects, usually with hard glowing edges and often with tiny details inside of them.

There are a bunch of potential paranormal explanations for the spots -- ghosts, spirits, fairies. The description usually depends on the location, and what one expects to find there.

The reality is much more boring, though. The glowing items are just dust motes illuminated by the camera's on-board flash, hovering somewhere outside of the camera's focal plane. The hot-spots created in the photograph by out-of-focus illuminated debris are called circles of confusion.

Usually, these kinds of photos are only taken with cheaper point-and-click style digital cameras. The location of the on-board flash on these cameras is the cause behind the tendency for "orbs" to appear in the photos. The closer the flash sits to the lens of the camera, the more accurately the reflected light bounces back into the camera's lens. Digital SLR cameras do not capture as many artefacts of this kind, because the on-board flash is positioned further away from the lens.

The focal plane is the vertical slice of the universe at the correct distance from the camera's lens to be in focus given the camera's shooting settings. For a camera with a wide aperture (f-stop), the focal plane will be narrower, a smaller aperture will produce a deeper focal plane. Adjusting the camera's aperture controls two things: The depth of field (focal distance) and the amount of light that is allowed onto the camera's sensor. A wider aperture means more light, but a shallower depth of field. Point-and-click cameras, when used at night, will usually automatically open the aperture as wide as possible and adjust all available settings to allow the best possible photographs at night, the implications of which are that the camera is then set up to perfectly capture orbs!

Dust motes, insects and rain will produce orbs in varying quantities. While "circle of confusion" is the term for an individual hotspot, the collective term for the effect is bokeh, a Japanese word describing the qualities of the out-of-focus parts of a photograph.

Bokeh from Christmas lights.

Quality bokeh in a photograph is desirable, and can be achieved by using prime lenses with stupidly low f-stops. The above photograph is bokeh produced by Christmas lights at f-1.8. The lights closer to the camera produce larger circles of confusion than lights further away.

Here are some fun links, from the pro-orb side of the fence, just for shits and giggles:

Some crazy talk about how orbs are ghosts -- I'm particularly fond of the footnote on this one, which pretty much debunks all of the paragraphs above it with a bit of "oh, but they're often just dust, too". Some more crazy talk -- I've included this one because the sentence "No one has the true answer to this question yet" makes me want to slap people for lack of research. orbs.net -- this place has literally ones of photos of illuminated dust particles, all of which look eerily (if you'll pardon the inappropriate adverb) similar to my examples above. Must be ghosts! This article includes the advice to turn your flash off if you want to photograph orbs without the interference of dust particles. Desire to slap is still high, but at least it's some progress! Apparently some orbs are energy, and energy is spirit. I was under the impression that energy was energy. The law of conservation of energy insists that energy can't be created or destroyed, only transformed. I guess it can be transformed into spirits, and therefore into orbs. Or not.

So. Orbs. Just dust. Next please.

The Incredible Expanding Macbook Battery(s), Part 3

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the laptop -- here's Part 3. (Part one and part two are here.) This is my replacement Macbook battery, which, like its predecessor, expanded like popcorn, and was left sitting about to do its thing.



Yeah, I'm aware that it's probably stupid to leave a damaged lithium ion battery laying about your house. I don't care, though, largely because I left it laying about as a result of being phenomenally careless and forgetful. It's my experiment, you can just observe the (harmless, evidently) results.

I didn't buy a third one. I bought an iMac instead.

The Incredible Expanding Macbook Battery, Part 2

If you're following the story (here's Part 1), I had a Macbook battery that expanded like one of those dinosaurs you put in water that, uh, expand. If you're curious -- and I know you are -- this is what happens to the expanding cell after about a year.

It's like a balloon. Full of lithium. And death.

It's completely expanded to about eight times its original thickness. Should I have kept it? Probably not. Do I have any regrets? Not really.

It's gone now, though.

Imagine the damage this would have done to a laptop that was, say, in storage. I guess this is why they tell you to remove the batteries if you're sticking it in the cupboard for a while. I suppose they couldn't bring themselves to complete the instruction with "..otherwise it'll bloat like a Looney Tunes character, destroying your expensive technology".

Just to clarify the ludicrousness of this failing battery issues -- this is a $150 battery. It's not a double-A.


Here's part three.

The Incredible Expanding Macbook Battery

So, there I was, using my Macbook. I noticed it was rocking about a bit, like there was a small coin or something underneath it -- nothing unusual, as my desk is often messy and stuff creeps under things all the time. I fish around under there, but there's nothing there. I carry on, but it still rocks around on something. I switch the Macbook off, and flip it over, only to find that the edge of the battery is sticking up a bit.

Up-sticking battery edge.

I did a bit of googling, and discovered that this is not only "normal", but it's something so normal Apple refuses to acknowledge or compensate its existence. Macbook batteries just do this. Every so often they just shrug and go "Y'know what, screw this cruel world. I'm going to expand like a piece of popcorn and I might just take this laptop with me."

As the cell in the battery expands, it pushes on the nearby components of the computer. In the case of my particular model of Macbook, the first victims are the Airport cart and RAM, followed by everything else.

I popped the battery out and shoved it in a drawer, ordering another one from Apple's online store, as there was clearly no way of claiming the thing under any kind of warranty or insurance.

New battery arrived. All good. More to come. Stay tuned.

Here's part two, and part three.

Bill Bryson: What the hell?

I’ve just finished reading Bill Bryson’s “Mother Tongue”, a reasonably amusing edutainment book exploring the history, complexity and potential future of the English language. All in all, it’s a suitably entertaining read, but I find it’s somewhat flawed by the small issue that factually, it’s probably wildly innacurate. I base this assumption on the various passages devoted to the Australian dialect of the English language, most of which are fundamentally, well, wrong. While I’d like nothing less than to simply reproduce these passages verbatim for your own edification, I have a moral aversion to plagiarism, and shall instead address the various “examples” of Australian speech/grammar/spelling, and then we’ll discuss whether or not anyone ever actually uses them.

Another temptation I shall avoid is the urge to address Mr. Bryson’s quoting from “Lets Talk Strine”, a comedic parody of a book written in 1965 by this bloke, and not representing anything realistic whatsoever about the way anyone did, does, or likely ever will speak.

Anyhow, the actual examples that annoy me:

“Tucker”. This word means “food”. It’s commonly used as part of the term “bush tucker”, and by Australia’s version of rednecks. It’s very quickly disappearing from the language. (And good riddance, say I.)

“Slygrogging.” I have never ever heard this word spoken, nor have I read it prior to seeing it in this book. Apparently (and somewhat evidently, I admit), it defines the act of sneaking out to have a drink. Where I come from, we call that “sneaking out to have a drink”.

“Nong.” A nong is an idiot. No one has used this word since 1987.

“Don’t come the raw prawn with me.” Oh, god. How I both love and loathe this phrase. This alleged common element of Australian parlance, along with various others (”technicolour yawn” for vomit, as cited in this very book is another) survive thrivingly on tea towels and in useless Australian language phrase books. No one ever says them.

Furthermore, the next paragraph in the book proposes a few additional facts that are entirely debatable:

“In Australia, people eat cookies, not biscuits.” No, we don’t. We eat biscuits. Americans eat cookies. If you want to be thoroughly pedantic, we eat cookies when we buy them from Subway.

“They spell many words the American way - labor rather than labour, for instance.” To hell we do. If I’d have spelled the word “labor” in school, I’d have been sorely reprimanded for it, and rightly so. The Australian Labor Party is a vestige of some idiot’s idea of modernising the image of the political party (well, as modernised as it could get in 1912), and is the only time we spell the word without the “u”. As a rule, we follow British spelling conventions, not American conventions. No “-ize” endings, no “-or” endings. And no nukular.

It’s inconsistencies like these that make me doubt the other “facts” presented in the book, particularly when I’m unable to verify them myself and am forced to take them at face value.

I also dislike the easy-to-digest approach when it’s used to present incorrect information, because, frankly, people are more likely to remember rubbish when it’s presented in an amusing format.

I’ve had my whinge. You can all go home now.

How not to review video games.

I’ve been reading a lot of reviews for Super Nintendo games, recently. Mostly because I have an annoying desire to force myself to like playing RPGs, and it’s not working very well. I hate leveling characters up. I hate fighting in role-playing games. I want to beat you up, not do math. Anyway. Having read many reviews, I’ve come up with some pointers for anyone who plans to write their own and doesn’t want to come off sounding like a mentally retarded eleven-year-old.

1. Don’t pad your review out with twelve paragraphs about the game’s story. If you can’t summarise the plot of a video game in one paragraph, that’s a strike against the game, and you shouldn’t be dwelling on it. Or even worse, you shouldn’t be counting on it to increase your word count.

2. Don’t list things. It’s great that the game has thirty different weapons in it, but please don’t tell me about all of them individually.

3. Do not use any of the following phrases:

“Why are you still reading this review and not buying/playing the game?” “Buy it! Buy it! Buy it!” “BEST GAME EVAR” 4. Learn to spell.

5. Please actually play the game you’re reviewing before you review it. If I had a dollar for every review I’ve read that focused on the first two levels of a game and nothing past that, I’d be wealthy. If you can’t play it past level two, tell us why. Don’t try to make up a review about parts of the game you haven’t seen.

6. Same thing goes for your screenshots. Don’t just include the title screen and the first level. Show us you played the game. Comment on the screenshots. Sell what you’re trying to tell us.

If you can take those six pieces of advice, maybe the internet will become a less embarassing place.

Also, upgraded to Wordpress 2.5. It seems pretty.

Beautifully designed creatures.

Humans. Not much thought went into our design. (In fact, no thought went into our design. We were not designed. We evolved from earlier life forms through natural selection. But I'm sure you knew that.) I wrote this update in my head at about 3AM this morning, and in due process of sleeping, I've forgotten pretty much all of the funny bits. So I shall attempt to salvage something of it. Humans. Pathetic creatures. Allow me to explore this.

Teeth. Teeth are designed with chewing in mind. They're designed to crush, kill, destroy things so as they might easily be contended with by the remainder of the digestive tract. Teeth are unaccustomed to the company of sugar, which makes their steely exterior whither and squeal, before disappearing like a young bride's petticoat on her wedding night. Which is probably purely accidental. The sugar aversion, not the disappearing undergarments. I mean, how could the alleged "Creator Of Everything" ever have figured that EVERY FUCKING SINGLE THING WE EAT CONTAINS SOME FORM OF SUGAR?

And furthermore, just to add COSMIC INSULT to injury, our teeth are the only parts of our frail bodies that have no capacity for self-repair whatsoever (citation needed). Get a cavity in one of your teeth and all it can do is become a larger, more ferocious cavity. Until it cavitates your entire head, and you become a walking ugly wound. With bits of broccoli in.

So yes. Poorly designed, these munchers are. Particularly as, evolutionarily, they - as in all animals - are built with the forethought that the beings who's heads they're wedged in will eventually develop dentistry, lest they struggle through their meagre existances IN ETERNAL AGONY because they ate one too many licorice straps when they were eleven.

Bollocks on the outside. I mean, COME ON.

Fingernails, toenails. Oh, the vicious legacy our nails share. Once they were to glisten on sharpened edge as they served as violent talons of destruction on the very fingertips of a primordial human ancestor as he stabbed and clawed his way through the flesh of a mammoth. Or a dormouse. Or whatever took his prehistoric fancy.

Now, they're little more than an irritation. Puny, pathetic things we must keep trim lest we be accused of being girly. Weak, pathetic shards of crap designed to split, shred and fall away when not constantly moisturised and kept in pristine condition. Also numbering among the single most succeptible body parts for aiding paper cuts and other minor but exceedingly painful injuries.

I mean, hangnails? The "Creator of Everything" clearly skipped breakfast before focusing his attention to the hands of the human being. Tsk, tsk.

Bollocks. On the OUTSIDE. I'm just gonna milk this one for all it's worth.

Lack of body hair. Truly the weakest species on the great planet of Earth would have to be the only one thereon that must MANUFACTURE its own protection from the elements.

I'm not saying I'd like to see human beings develop an uncontrollable rash of fur -- my taste in women shrieks that should that be the case, stocks in Gilette will suddenly skyrocket -- but surely it was more than a caveman slipping the skin of a murdered yak over himself that triggered every follicle on the human form to flop off into the tundra.

Still, it broaches another subject I daren't start unnannounced:

Pubic hair. ..why do we even have the stuff? It's awkward, it promotes odours (yay, now I can be fed even more inappropriate advertisements!), it gets caught in things (..er..like zippers. And undergarments. And oo-er what were YOU thinking?) and it's just generally icky. I shall digress speedily before I start chanting playground rhymes and giggling.

Nose hair. For some reason, when every other strand of fur decided to make a mass exodus to some place less maloderous, General Nostril Follicle and his band of swarthy followers stood their ground and remained fast at their posts. To this day, they remain in hiding, only to appear and silently ambush their intended victims on or around his 60th birthday, at which point human physiology suddenly decides to kick in a few extra hormones and present its owner with a pristine bush of bristling nose blossoms. "What," wonders the human, "is to become of me that only great clods of nose hair can save me from?"

And now a few courteous replies, specifically to the likes of Dan, Rev, and Nicki:

Bollocks on the outside. IN A SMALL SACHEL.

Ear hair. Along with odd nasal foliage around the age of senility, the human body also decides to kick a few hormones into the aural cavities and covers the innards of the ear with a pelty layer of totally superfluous fur. Nothing can explain the need for this, although it's possibly conducive to loss of hearing in the elderly. They're not deaf, their ears are full of hair.

Eyebrows. Eyebrows are useful. They do actually keep things like sweat from draining straight down the slope of our elegant non-neanderthalish foreheads and into our eyesockets. However, as Rev points out, there really is no need for eyebrows with dimensions bordering on elderly ear-hair sizes. I mean, Eugene Levy is not normal, man.

Menstruation. Surely there could have been easier ways to dispose of the unused lining of the uterus. Just think, if The Creator Of Everything had invented the zip-lock bag before he whipped up the uterus, maybe it could have just plopped out at an appropriate moment pre-sealed inside a small plastic pouch.

Thanks to all and sundry who have contributed to this little article, such as it is. Thank you to the reader, also, for perusing it as a piece of comedy and not a serious document on the plausibility of the existence of a creator. Just sayin'.

Shopping advice

This is for the benefit of anyone who's ever used a supermarket. Friendly advice, even, inspired by the behaviour of an entire extended family operating in some kind of evil alliance at checkout number six this evening. WHEN YOU REACH THE CHECKOUT, STOP SHOPPING.

The usual strategy when shopping for groceries is to enter the store, obtain either a trolley (cart) or a basket, put stuff you want in it, then proceed to a checkout and pay for it.

The family I encountered this evening had a different tack. FAMILY MEMBER ONE, who I shall call MRS. SHOPPERNAZI proceeded immediately to checkout six with her innocuous two items of purchase, trailed haphazardly behind by her small herd of children, brothers, sisters, grandparents and other bewildered brainwashees. I step into line. Gosh! thought I! A short queue! I can leave the supermarket in blistering time!


Mrs. Shoppernazi then proceeds to COMPLETELY OCCUPY the checkout, while her HORDES OF MINIONS are scurried about the place collecting foodstuffs she requests and depositing them on the conveyor. All the while I'm stood back a good six paces behind the checkout to allow room for the fucking armies to mass in and out of the space between the checkout and the barrier thing that's designed to provide room for only one person-width to leave the store through that thoroughfare.

Which leaves me in the awkward position of NOT LOOKING LIKE I'M ACTUALLY IN LINE. So while Mrs. Shoppernazi is waging war on the supermarket with her evil squadron of MiniShoppernazis, I'm fending off a border assault from assorted scalliwags who've concluded that since I'm stood back a distance from the checkout, I'm not really waiting to be served.

AND, the great wonderous being that Mrs. Shoppernazi gloriously presumes to be somehow manages to only purchase items that have no shelf price, which forms a third onslaught of troops on the checkout as various store officials pander back and forth relaying prices for the absurd shit this woman apparently cannot live without.

If her teller card hadn't worked, I'd have killed her.

Finding true love --

-- with the by-line, "Give Up Now". Last night, I was thinking about the popular ideal (or once popular idea, it seems to have gone the way of the dodo of late) that each person has but one true love, and the amazing probability mechanics inherant thereto.

The most basic equasion is thus: The world has a population of 6.3 billion people. Therefore, you've got a: one in 6.3 billion

..chance of meeting your true love.

This figure assumes the most arrogant assumption possible: That your true love exists. Y'know, we could really screw with the arithmetic and include the possibility of life on other planets, or interspecies love. I hear some people go for that kind of thing.

Might as well give up now, eh? Nah, let's be optimistic. Let's throw a few probability curveballs:


For the sake of argument, we'll assume you're looking for someone of the opposite gender. Heck, considering roughly half the population is of either gender, we can safely say that you can pursue people of your own gender and have the same odds. If you're bisexual, you can skip the rest of today's lesson and quit looking entirely.

Our odds are now: one in 3.15 billion

Obviously, this figure omits hermaphrodites and people born with ambiguous genitalia. Sting, for example. It also doesn't take into account the celibate, the sexually inert, the post-menopausal, etc.


We'll assume you're looking for someone within your own age group, or within an age group you see preferrable. In the roughest maths ever, lets divide the population by eight to come up with eight 10-year age blocks, thus:

Our odds are now: one in 394 million

This barbarically assumes everyone lives precisely 80 years, and drops off the twig on their 81st birthday. It also assumes no one dies prior to that. It also assumes you're not a pedophile, in which case you're probably not looking for your true love anyway, which makes the argument moot. And disgusting.

Location, and chances of meeting.

Say you meet 20 new people every day. I'll define "meet" as "make eye contact with, and be able to recognise at a later time". This could be walking down the street, in a supermarket, etc. Leaving aside the issue of forgetting who you've met, and forgetting about the existance or non-existance of love at first sight, we're left with the following mess of mathematics:

20 people per day, for

365 days, for

80 years, or

584,000 people.

Divided into our previous total, gives us a necessary:

674 LIFETIMES required to lay our eyes on all of the potential candidates.

Obviously, as touched on in the next paragraph, you're not likely to meet your true love if she lives in Siberia and you're in Sydney. Additionally, there's the NASA-equivalent math involved in calculating your chances of meeting if they too are looking for you at the same time, and the possibility that they're not looking at all. Maybe they're a hermit.

Which brings me to another issue: What are you doing right now? Go ahead, triple the figure we just came up with. Sitting at a computer will not find you love. Despite what the banner ads tell you.

Furthermore, this equasion doesn't take into account the fact you'd need to cross continents and literally visit every corner of the planet (all the while still accomplishing your 'glimpse 20 people every day' goal) in order to even stand a chance. This is mostly because all of this is statistical crap and I couldn't be buggered researching the populations for all of the continents and applying the required math. It's too late at night.

The whole thing gets even more complicated once you take into account that in order for the whole ordeal to be worthwhile, not only do you need to find your one true love, but they need to find theirs -- in you. At which point the odds go from infinitesimal to astronomically infinitesimal, and you should concede that you've got no hope and go home and wank or something.

Anyhow, happy loving.

Christmas. Impending.

I hate Christmas. That in itself isn't so strange. What really makes me think is that I've always hated Christmas. Even when I was a kid. I'm tremendously annoyed by the overt commercialism of the whole thing. I want to know at which point someone decided "THE ALLEGED BIRTH OF THE SON OF GOD MEANS WE SHOULD ALL BUY EACH OTHER EXPENSIVE THINGS AND LINE THE POCKETS OF THE LEADERS OF THIS COMMERCIALIST EMPIRE WE CALL THE FINANCIAL WORLD". Somehow, I doubt it's what the Virgin Mary had in mind while the Almighty was fiddling with her loins. "Hey," she thought. "I could make money out of this."

It also irks me immensely that very few Christmas "traditions" have any basis in, well, anything. Like the Christmas Tree. As far as I can research, the entire reason we even have Christmas trees is because - get this - Christmas occurs in winter. Although there's a kind of pleasant detachment to this; at least one key part of what we now consider Christmas isn't in any real way connected with the religious significance of the event.

I guess this kind of divides the Christmas crowds. On one (fairly small, I'd wager) side, you have the religious Christmas folk, believing in angels and the son of God and mangers and hippies in Jerusalem. On the other side, you've got the commercialist Christmas people, believing in dollar signs, plastic trees and K-Mart dockets. This division's kind of relieving, but it still doesn't give any apology or reason for the centuries we've utterly retarded the original "spirit of Christmas".

Being from the southern hemisphere myself, I have to say that the "Christmas trees are because it's winter" ideal doesn't hold a lot of water. Our Christmas is usually around 109°F, humid, and spent sitting as close as possible to an air conditioning unit in a crass attempt at at least spending Christmas a degree or so below body temperature. Somehow, having a lump of slowly melting plastic disguised as a tree, coated with white shit out of a can disguised as snow and draped in ten-year-old balding tinsel is a fairly poor impersonation of winter. But hey, who am I to disagree with "tradition".

I don't believe in a whole lot about Christianity. Or any religion, for that matter. The limit of my involvement with religion is "It helps people get through their lives, then good for them". Which I think is fair enough, and you're welcome to it. However, I'm constantly stuck with this slightly comedic vision of Jesus returning - as he's so eloquently promised - only to be handed a red and white candied cane and a gift-wrapped toy with a large "MACY'S" tag on, and a crowd of gaping Christians waiting for him to be impressed.