james earl jowned

Let the dead raise their heads, and the dying leave their beds

So that's five courses and five high distinctions for the year. Booyah.

I'm still sort of struggling with the feeling that I may have left uni too late, though. It's one of those annoying things where no matter how many people I talk to who all say the same thing - namely "that's retarded, good on you for going back, you'll do well and it's a great idea" - I can't shake this stupid feeling.

I have not had one single person tell me that I shouldn't have gone back to uni, and yet, nagging doubt remains.

Oh well. With results like this, it'd be a crime to not keep my giant brain at university. On to full-time studies next semester, having given Telstra the arse. We'll see how I handle that.
society is worse

Oh shit! An update!

Well, sort of.

I'm working on the seed of a D&D 4th ed campaign (or some other game system yet to be named, but shut up) but a slightly different take on the concept. My idea is a campaign set mostly (if not entirely) in a large city. For the history buffs, London in the 18th century. For the fantasy buffs, Ankh-Morpork. Lots of political intrigue, diplomacy, thieving, assassination, wenching, merchants, spying and alchymickal discoveries.

Anyone got ideas for source material? For that matter, anyone got recommendations for game systems other than D&D?

(Incidentally, I realise that there are about four people that read my livejournal and I live with three of them, so do pass this request for comment on to others who may have an answer.)
lies on the internet

On the classification of electronic entertainment

So I've been seeing this petition doing the rounds requesting that South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson rethink his stance on refusing to allow an R-rating for computer games and, by extension, refusing classification for Fallout 3.

Now, I want to play Fallout 3 as much as the rest of you, but if you take a look at that petition, and then do a little reading around on the topic (with, I hasten to add, an open mind), then you may well see the flaw in their argument that I've noticed.

The problem with the petition is that they haven't done their research. They want A-G Mr Atkinson to be "educated in the realities of the game industry", since parental controls are available etc. etc. The problem is that he knows said controls are available and, more importantly, he knows that they don't work.

Point me to an even mildly computer-savvy kid who can't crack through a parental lockout. That's the point that he's been trying to get across to everyone; that, much like R-rated movies, kids will find a way around parental diktats refusing them access.

That said I find his decision to stand in the way of an R-rating questionable since the same semi-computer-savvy kid will just torrent the game and play it that way and then his parents probably won't even know that the game got refused classification, but the problem is that my very rational counter-argument gets drowned by the waves of frothing fanboys.

Essentially we (that is, gamers) want to play Fallout 3. We'd like to be able to buy it, unadulterated, in our stores. I'm fairly certain that we also agree that, having seen the trailers for the game and the - while immensely enjoyable - slightly over-the-top level of violence contained therein, to say nothing of the drug use, this game is not suitable for someone under the age of, oh, let's say eighteen.

The gamer's argument tends to be "make it legal and make the parents responsible for what their kids are playing."

Mr. Atkinson's argument is "if I make it available in Australia then, let's face it, parents aren't going to watch their kids, eagle-eyed, 24 hours a day; and any kid worth his salt will find a way around the parental locks. To say nothing of the parents who, and we've all heard the stories, think that all games are for kids and flagrantly ignore the existing M-15+ ratings for games for their 12-year-old."

Both arguments have flaws; both arguments have merits. Like I said before, personally I think it would be better to allow the R-rating, but I can also understand Mr. Atkinson's argument. There are a number of counter-arguments to each side, but in the interests of brevity I will leave them as an exercise to the reader.
picking on me


So it turns out that this glorious, self-aggrandising idea of mine whereby I would hold down a full-time job, study part-time at uni and write an essay-length column each week was maybe a little more than I could handle. Something had to go and, as those of you with better perception than a block of pine can tell, it was the essays.

It's a shame, since I was enjoying them and my writing was improving, but it was just one thing too many. Plus I sort of ran out of ideas towards the end there; or, more to the point, I ran out of steam. Yes, there are things I could write about, but none of them seem to fill me with the level of passion I had at the start. I'm so tired. On the plus side, this new sinus spray I've been prescribed might mean I can start sleeping properly again. We'll see how it works out.

That said, there is one thing filling me with hate right now and that is that people - by which I mean internet users - are still doing that thing where they invoke the almighty "opinion". You know, "It's my opinion that wonk wonk wonk wonk". "It's my belief that crystals have healing properties." Yeah? Well it's my belief that you should go read a fucking book not written by Grand Whyte Wyche Esmerelda Tree-Heart Lothlorien of the twelfth wyccan circle of the wymyn's congryss.

I saw a great one the other day. A link to a video about entomologists studying a massive ant colony was posted on the cracked.com forums. Quite a cool video; the ants have fungus farms, carefully-designed vents to let carbon dioxide escape and others to draw in fresh air. As part of the studying, they fill the ant tunnels with, if I recall, cement, and then excavate the solidified cast to see the layout of the hive. Of course, this results in the death of the hive but given that there are several more of these in the background it doesn't seem to me to be a massive loss.

Then I made the mistake of reading the comments. Yes, I know, it's an amateur mistake. Pure bush league, but still. Cue retard, in discussion about how it's such a tragedy that we destroyed their whole city:

"ok but ants have feelings. They aren't robots. I believe and i am certain they each have a personality and each ant is unique.I believe there is a way to perform science without killing. I believe animals, all animals and life forms have value. Most zoologists and entomologists seem to be so insensitive to animal feelings. Some are very sensitive and i relate to their care and soft touch."




It's my opinion and mummy told me that I'm a special and unique snowflake so my opinion is just as valid as anyone else's and how dare you tell me I'm wrong clearly you are an evil person and I made my opinion through gut instinct without studying or anything because I am just so much smarter and it's only university challenge, Rik, it's only university challenge!

I'm not a religious man but sometimes there are feelings which can only be expressed by an emphatic GOD. FUCKING CHRIST. What the HELL people. Because obviously a tiny insect driven by instinctual urges evolved over millions of years with a rudimentary nerve cluster for a brain can have complex emotions and individuality.


In which Karlski encounters a script kiddy

So most of you know I spend most of my internet time hanging around the Cracked.com, formerly PWOT forums. Well today we noticed something odd happening; two or three of the more quiet and staid members of the fora suddenly posted, and I quote, "LOL NIGGERS" several times. Forum admin David Wong private messaged one of them and got a reply back telling him to look at someone else's profile and it would make sense.

The profile in question had html tags in the about me section that meant that the person whose profile it was got his cookies overwritten by those of the person looking at the profile. Basically it meant that this person could log in as David Wong. Which he proceeded to do and promptly went on a truly retarded rampage, mostly consisting of changing people's usernames to zlolzzzzZZZZZZZZQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQZZZzz and sadssadsadsasdasdasdasdasdasdasdasdasdasdasdasd.

Clearly we were dealing with a hacker on a level never before seen.

As of about four hours ago the forums have been shut down and replaced by a maintenance page. Let this be a lesson to you: be careful where you allow html tags in your webpages or douchebags will cause trouble.

Holy fuck! An update!

Yeah, so it looks like that lofty goal I had of a column per week has been blown out of the water. On reflection that's not so surprising, given that I'm working just under ten hours a day four days a week and the fifth day I'm at university. Add in study, sleep, an oncoming cold and the occasional bout of mindless self-indulgence, I haven't really felt the urge to put pen to paper - or finger to keyboard, if you will.

Oh, it must be bad. I'm recycling my jokes.

It's not that I'm out of ideas, either; throughout my diary are little jotted notes from day to day of ideas for columns, sadly most of which were highly topical and now a little aged. Not in the good way, either. I had a nice piece about NSW MP Peter Lindsay mouthing off again about... something, back in February. Buggered if I can remember what. I was going to do another good one about how much it must suck to be Brendan Nelson right now back in the first week of March. In all fairness, that one's still good and probably will continue to be for the rest of his life.

I've also got one about WorkChoices and AWAs and a certain company that pays certain monies to me on a regular basis that I'm not wholly comfortable about posting less there be some kind of blowback.

Seriously, it looks to me like winning the internal election to take the helm of the Liberal party was a really bad career move. Not only has he got Tony Abbott (snigger) and Malcolm Turnbull (worrying) indulging in their own private political machinations behind his back to try to engineer their way into the top job, he's also been faced with rumours in the past month that Peter Costello (uh-oh) hasn't discounted the possibility of coming back.

That said, the Liberals really aren't doing a particularly good job of persuading us that they're a serious contender for the federal government. We (look, I say we, but I mean I. All bloggers do. We [no, this time I actually mean we, as in, bloggers] say that so it sounds like we actually know what we're talking about and what popular opinion is, which is laughable when you consider what a bunch of shut-ins we [I, that time] are.) keep getting nothing from them but knee-jerk gainsaying of whatever the Labor party says along with pointless, trivial rubbish. Most recently the hissy fit thrown by one of the Shadow Ministers (man, that's an awesome job title) about Kevin Rudd getting donations from a large Chinese IT and industrial concern, and being on vaguely friendly terms with the CEO; the accusation being that he was bought out by a foreign company.

This of course blew back in the Minister's face when it was revealed that head of the National party and former deputy PM Mark Vaile had buggered off overseas to go be a paid consultant for some resources company while at the same time drawing pay as an opposition member. It was also pointed out that the same Chinese firm that had given money to the Labor party had given a similar sum to the Liberals.

If they want to be taken seriously in time for the next election, when most political hacks are picking Labor to increase their lead, the Libs really need to lift their game and come up with some new, believable policies. They also really do need to make a firm commitment to not bring back WorkChoices. Oh, and they really, really need solid leadership. Right now it looks like there are at least three chefs and that broth is turning into more of an irish stew.

tl;dr: lots of words bemoaning my lack of free time to post updates mixed with a dry review of the Liberal Party's time in opposition thus far, sadly lacking in jokes.

Language and issues therein

Wow, it's late. Or early. What's the accepted statute on that? I've always gone by the rule that if you haven't been to bed yet, then it's late. If you've been to bed, it's early. This can however result in the same time of day being described by the same person as both early and late, on different days. This I find to be unacceptably subjective; however the immediately apparent alternative, namely to designate a time which separates early from late, seems far too arbitrary. Anyway, regardless of your definition, the point is that I seem to do most of my writing in the small wee hours - redundant though that title may be - which, I suppose, goes some way to explaining why I don't get terribly much writing done of late.

Anyway, let us press on with firm stride and clenched buttock into that most fearsome of concepts - the point. Fear not, no heavy-handed serious topics this week; instead I present you with a new topic deserving of my (and, by extension, your) ire.

English is a colourful and powerful language, and it's not that hard to master. Sure, there are an arseload of often-contradictory rules and bizarre rules of grammar and spelling, but come on. You've been speaking the damn language your entire life; at what point did you, instead of going shopping, decide to go for a big shop? Where were you planning on keeping it, in the back shed? How were you going to get it home?

Irregardless is not a word. I'm sorry, it isn't! Regardless is a word. It means, well, regardless. It means what you people are using irregardless to mean. You're adding a bloody syllable to a word and using it to mean exactly what the current word means. That's like lazy in the opposite direction. Note my precision; it is not, not not not not not, the opposite of lazy. The opposite of lazy is efficient, productive, active. This is inefficient, unproductive and that most heinous of sins, a waste of time. And best of all it involves doing more work!

The word "turret" does not have an n. "Torrent" has an n. "Turret" does not. The two words mean completely unrelated things. Yes, I am aware that a person with at least half a functioning brain will be able to cope with the incorrect use of these words by figuring out the context, but why should I have to do extra work thanks to someone else's ignorance?

You cannot "orientate" yourself. You can "orient" yourself, by working out which way is east. That's where the word comes from - by knowing which way the orient is, you know which way east is and are therefore able to navigate. Equally, you can only be disoriented, not disorientated. This is just part of that horrible habit people have of adding extra letters to the ends of words in order to make themselves seem more knowledgeable.

There. Is. No. Fucking. U. In. Mnemonic. This really isn't difficult. The m at the start is silent and you just say the rest as it's spelt. Neh-mo-nik. Somehow it's become acceptable to say new-mo-nik; one of my university lecturers dropped that one on me the other day. Seriously, fucking stop it.

Here ends instalment one of a possibly infinite series.
rodney main feature

In which Karl is slow on the uptake.

You know - or perhaps you don't, and I should stop being so arrogant. I mean, really, who am I to be telling you what you do and don't know? You're all adults, capable of self-determination and some limited independent decision making. What kind of heavily-biased commentator would I be if I were to decide, arbitrarily, that you, the reader, already knows something which I'm about to discuss? - how occasionally you'll hear a joke and not get it for ages? Hours, sometimes? That happens to me very, very often.

I have an excellent memory for words and sentences. When I read a book I end up memorising much of it. That's not to say that I can skim-read a novel and then recite it to you; I mean more that if I read it two or three times then I'll be able to quote the more interesting passages verbatim. In high school I was in five or six of our dramatic productions and each time, by the end of the rehearsals, I knew everybody's lines perfectly, down to the timing.

So one thing I do to pass the time when doing something boring, like washing the dishes, is I re-read my favourite parts of my favourite books in my head. Or I re-play bits from my favourite movies. Or I go over old conversations I've had with people, going over my words and theirs, listening to myself and thinking of ways to say things better.

One side-effect of this is that I set off what I refer to as time-bomb jokes. Little jokes. Puns you didn't get at the time of reading. Jokes whose punchline is a little obscure, which didn't sink in at first. Things which, I'll grant, probably everyone else got right away because I can, I'll admit, be a little slow to pick up on things like that.

Jokes like the line from the Red Dwarf novel Backwards; where Lister says to Cat, in the bar where everybody is drinking their beer backwards, "When in Emor, do as the Snamor." I had no idea at all what that was about. In my defence, I was about twelve when I read it, although that's not a defence since I finished my first book of cryptic crosswords when I was eleven. I blame my mother. I went into hospital for some minor surgery in year six and she gave me a book of cryptics to do to pass the time. Ever since then they've been a bit of a vice. Much like coffee, which is also her fault. Anyway. I never picked up on the blatantly obvious joke until about nine years later when I was washing the dishes in my flat. I remember it clearly (wow, what a shock); I was cleaning a plate, mentally reciting lines from the movie Snatch, when that quote drifted to my forebrain. I paused for a second and thought about it, then facepalmed with a hand covered in washing up liquid.

Similarly, I had my first day of university yesterday. In my Maths class the lecturer briefly went over basic arithmetic as a sort of quick reminder to everybody, and I found myself staring at the division symbol. You know the one, the straight line with a dot above and below. I'd always wondered why there were two symbols for division, that and the forward slash ( / ). I looked down at a couple of my scrawled notes where I'd been solving a simple algebra problem and suddenly it made sense. (Those of you with a functioning brain or a halfway-decent primary school teacher will already know this one). Division can also be thought of as making a fraction out of the two numbers involved; in other words, the divide symbol has a dot above and below the line to imply that you can make the numbers into a fraction to get the result of the operation.

I kinda like maths. Depending on how I go with my courses this year I may take a lot more pure math courses throughout my degree. But that aside, the point is that I've been doing mathematics for, oh, has it really been nearly twenty years? And I'd never twigged that the division symbol was so self-evident.

Ah well. Everyone has their clueless moments, I suppose. Terry Pratchett is a real bastard for timebomb jokes, incidentally. All of his Discworld books (discounting the first three or so where he was finding his feet and being all satirical at us) are peppered with little references to real-world happenings and people that I, being very young at the time of reading most of them, never got. It's only many years later when I hear that Madame Blavatsky, a nineteenth-century occultist and general mystic, had an invisible friend called Hoot Koomi, supposedly a tibetan monk and wiseman who passed messages to her from God by writing her letters. Those of you who are up on your Pratchett may remember that Hoot Koomi was also the name of the high priest of Khefin and second-highest of all the priests of the desert empire of Djelibeybi (lit. child of the Djel).

Little things like that. So if ever you're talking to me and I happen to trail off mid-sentence and chuckle quietly, that's probably what just happened. Little timebombs in my brain.

Tick tick tick.