Monthly Archives: May 2008

Relaxing at the Aquarium

If you’re in need of some relaxation then these videos I shot at Melbourne Aquarium might help. The first is some general shots set to music:

This one features the ever popular shark feeding. And freakishly large stingrays. Enjoy!

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Messing with people’s head for dummies

I was doing a bit of online research today for work (in the brief moment when I got sick of looking for porn) and I saw a banner ad that I thought was funny.  Proudly atop the home page for a corporate IT news site was an ad for “Securing network infrastructure for dummies”.  Now I know the “for dummies” books are a massive worldwide success and I’m just jealous that I’m not making millions telling people they’re stupid (I’m stuck doing it for fun rather than wealth).  But seriously, who buys these books?

And, more importantly, what do they do with them after they buy them?

I suspect any professional (or aspiring professional) who buys these books hides them better than they do their porn.  Imagine seeing “Securing network infrastructure for dummies” on the desk of someone actually responsible for securing a network.  How secure would you feel?

I started imagining what would be the most disturbing “for dummies” to see in someone’s possession.  Then I thought, why make stuff up?  Go right to the source!  Early front runners for most disturbing were “Cosmetic surgery for dummies” and “Forensics for dummies“.   Then I thought, you’re hardly going to cheer someone up by giving them “Depression for dummies”  or “Grieving for dummies“.  And I wasn’t a fan of “Living longer for dummies” or “Sex for dummies“.  I want them to die quickly without procreating.

But then an evil plot started to form in my mind.  Working in IT, a common complaint is that management don’t actually understand technology.  The footsoldiers of IT are frequently resentful about having to answer to people who don’t have a clue about what’s actually required to get the work done.  So how much fun would it be to conduct interviews for programmers while surrounded by “for dummies” books.

And I’m not talking about one or two.  I’m talking about filling bookcases with ‘em.  Put them behind you when you’re interviewing so the interviewee is constantly distracted by their garish yellow and black spines.  Have all the titles related to the technology field you work in and watch a look of terror slowly spread across the interviewee’s face as they realise the horror they would be facing if they worked for you.

Along with all the titles about programming languages and hardware, throw in some frighteningly basic ones like “The internet for dummies”.  And really throw them for a curve by throwing in some left-field titles they won’t miss, like “Breastfeeding for dummies” and “The historical Jesus for dummies“.  I think that interview would give you a good indication of how the candidate copes with unexpected situations.

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Filed under General Angriness

Microsoft DRM – because fuck you is why

I’m not a big fan of the way big companies approach issues of copyright.  Which is to say, fuck those guys!  As a creator of original content the principles of copyright are important to me.  I’d like to find some way to make money from what I do.  I get angry when someone flat out steals my work and makes money from it (which has happened multiple times).

So why don’t I like the actions of the big entertainment companies and their bought-and-paid-for political institutions around the world?  Put simply, because their actions are nothing to do with protecting and enriching artists and everything to do with increasing their controls over consumer behaviour for their own enrichment. 

Often when I say “fuck copyright” people will say that we need copyright so that artists can make a living.  I agree.  Sometimes people will go so far as to say some of the insane behaviour in the US like the introduction of the DMCA and the RIAA suing music fans are good things.  I’m never sure if these people are naive or if they’re fucking morons.

The big entertainment corporations do not give a shit about the artists who actually make them money.  Selling the works produced by creative artists is a massive profit centre for these companies.  Giving fair compensation to the artists is a cost centre.  These companies are frequently guilty of breaching contracts with artists who make them rich simply because they can get away with it. 

I’m not talking about them having some moral responsibility to make artists rich.  I’m talking about them being legally responsible.  They routinely breach contracts because they’re the ones with the lawyers and the artists are the ones with nothing.  They can fuck over an artist, use them up and dump them because there’s always some other poor sucker eager to jump into their place. 

And don’t even get me started on the insanity of suing and criminalising customers.  Again, this is supposed to benefit artists.  So, given the hundreds of millions of dollars these companies have made from lawsuits that fuck over consumers, how much money have artists received?  None, apparently.  It’s getting to the point where some significant artists are considering suing.  If the Rolling fucking Stones can’t catch a break, what chance do you and I have?

The thing that has gotten me pissed off about this all over again is news that Microsoft have decided to fuck over their customers  to an extent that is in no way required by law in an attempt to suck up to big media companies.  Some of the provisions of the DMCA and other laws proposed around the world are outrageous.  But this act of bastardry is not even a requirement, despite the weasel talk coming out of Microsoft.

What sort of moron breaks functionality their customers want for no reason?  Especially when there are alternatives available?  It’s as if they want to push consumers to free alternatives that aren’t encumbered with this bullshit.  Actually, I’d like to think this is all because of some deep cover free software mole buried deep inside Redmond. 

“Hahahahaha” the free software mole cackles diabolically.  “The fools have put in restrictions that will drive more and more users away from Micro$haft products.” (Free software proponents can’t resist calling Microsoft “Micro$haft”.)  “They are sowing the seeds of their own destruction without realising it!”

I would have a lot more respect for a company that was being duped by a double agent than I would for a company that purposely anally raped their customers this way.  Sadly, I strongly suspect it’s the latter.

With this in mind, I visited the good folks at Despair.com to produce the following motivational poster

microsoft - because fuck you is why

I think that says it all.

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25 years jail for creating The Backstreet Boys and N*Synch

Every now and then the justice system works even if it takes a long time.  I was very glad to see one of the most heinous criminals of the late 20th century finally go to jail.  If only we hadn’t been put through so much suffering already.  Nothing will heal the scars but this brings a sense of closure.

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Atheist bigots – shut the fuck up

People who think the simple fact they profess to be atheists makes them automatically smarter than anyone who believes in god can shut the fuck up any time now.  I’m not sure what pisses me off most about this attitude – the innate arrogance, the internal logical contradiction or the ignoring of objectively observable reality.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I think religious fundamentalists are morons.  I’ve been very clear that I think people who want to place their religious beliefs on an equal footing on science are evil and enemies of humanity.  None of that means there aren’t atheists who are utter fuckwits.  I can’t stand people who push the line “I think believing in god is stupid, I don’t believe in god, therefore I’m smarter than anyone who believes in god.” 

My response is: shut the fuck up you egotistical, self-deluding simpleton. 

Because this type of bigot reflexively accuses me of being a religious fundamentalist I’ll waste a little time explaining what my beliefs are.  (I call this a waste of time because it’s no easier to reach atheist bigots than it is to reach any other sort of bigot.  Who else but a religious nut would challenge their sacred belief is the superiority of atheism?)  My take on the question “Does god exist?” is that it’s irrelevant.

The idea that any “supreme being” could possibly give a shit what us insignificant insects get up to is laughable.  And the idea that said deity would punish us for eternity for not bowing down and offering out lifelong obeisance is fucking ridiculous.  Those are human behaviours.  Any being with those sorts of failings is a long way from supreme.  

And I wholeheartedly reject every religion on the planet.  No matter how humble and selfless the beliefs of any individual may be, religious institutions exist solely to exert power over other people.  Fuck that.  Besides which, all religions are working on the assumption that at least 95% of the planet is wrong (when it comes down to it, intra-religion sects hate each other more than they do outsiders).  Why not go with the odds and assume 100% of them are wrong?

So if I reject religion, why am I telling hardcore atheists to shut the fuck up? Maybe you consider yourself a follower of science and rational, objective reason.  Good for you.  That doesn’t make you innately more intelligent than ANYONE.  Atheism is a belief system the same as any religion.  You can’t prove that god doesn’t exist any more than anyone can prove god does exist.  You believe that your rational thought system is right and religious belief is wrong.  But by itself, that isn’t a measure of intelligence.

Sure, you can point to insane bastards who reject conclusive science like evolution in favour of their literal interpretation of religious texts.  Being able to point out complete freaks doesn’t define you as a genius.  In fact, an arrogant belief in one’s superiority is usually a sure sign of lack of intelligence.  Intelligent people are actually the most likely to say “I don’t know”.  Something religious fundamentalists and atheist bigots have in common is an unswerving beliefs in their rightness – there is something essentially wrong with anyone who disagrees with them.

When someone says “My fundamental non-religious beliefs make me automatically smarter than someone with fundamental religious beliefs” I say “Shut the fuck up!”  The fact that someone who would say that is too stupid to see the inherent logical contradiction would be funny if it wasn’t sad.  Neither intelligence nor your worth as a human is measured solely on where you lie on the religion/atheism continuum.  Unless the person doing the measuring is a fundamentalist zealot.

It really bugs me how atheist zealots argue they are more intelligent than religious believers in the face of objective evidence to the contrary.  Saying that a belief in god makes you automatically stupid denies obvious things like the number of scientists and scholars who are religious.  Not to mention the amount of scholarly work that has been done through the ages and continues to be done by religious groups.

Why are some atheists so scared to admit that they are following a deeply held belief rather than some objective reality?  What the hell is wrong with belief?  When you can admit you hold beliefs rather than some indisputable truth you’re saying that you’re still open to questions.  You’re intelligent and objective enough to admit that there is always more to learn. 

Of course you think your beliefs are right.  By definition when you believe something you think you’re right.  And it makes sense to defend your beliefs passionately and point out what you think is wrong with contradictory views.  But a sure sign of an ignorant, anti-intellectual fuckwit is someone who’s convinced they have no more to learn and it’s impossible they will ever be proved wrong.

I’ve learned from experience that there is a certain (small) subset of atheists who are incapable of making the concession they could be wrong.  In this they are every bit as much a fundamentalist as the most backward religious freak.  Pressing them on this point tends to make them freak out.  But I don’t give a fuck.

Atheist bigots need to shut the fuck up.

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Filed under religion, Science

Self censorship

When does it become acceptable to write something that’s funny at someone else’s expense?  By which I mean, when is it OK to ridicule an actual, real person?  You know, those things that have actual feelings and lives that may be affected by public ridicule. 

No matter how much we don’t like someone, no matter how much we think they “deserve it”, there is ultimately a person on the receiving end.  Even if we don’t think they’re much of a person.  So what’s acceptable when we’re dealing with another human?

Looking around, it seems attitudes range from “anything goes” (no matter how cruel, damaging or untrue it may be) to “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”  I tend to be somewhere in the middle but get tipped more towards “anything goes” the more of a public figure someone is.  I see it as a case of live by the sword… the more you make your living from being in the public eye the more you have to deal with the fact that the public eye can sometimes be cruel and unfair.

For me, that generally means politicians, movie stars and TV personalities are all fair game.  In terms of ordinary people who find themselves in the public eye (usually for doing something stupid) I try not to be too cruel.  And the one thing I always try to avoid is the internet lynch mob mentality.  The people who indulge in internet vigilantism have a tendency to justify their action by saying their target has done something really bad.  But I wonder how many of them would escape unscathed if their own life was subject to the same scrutiny.

The reason I’m musing on this topic is a news story that seems like perfect fodder for me.  A pair of New Zealanders described as “experienced pilots” have put themselves out front for this year’s Darwin Awards with their method of demise over the weekend.  They were killed when they crashed a microlight plane they took for a joyride.  In the middle of the night.  While it was raining.  And foggy.  And there was lightning.  To top it off, police believe the two had been drinking at a party before the flight (which could explain why they thought a midnight joyflight in shitty weather was a good idea).

Now, these guys seem to me to pretty much fit the definition of “asking for it”.  But at the same time, I’m sure there are people who are very sad they’re dead and wouldn’t appreciate the loss of their loved ones being made light of.  I think I’ll hold off saying anything too disparaging until there are more details confirmed (like whether or not they had definitely been drinking) but I suspect the nature of this story means these guys are going to be slammed around the world.

Of course at the back of my mind in all this is I’d really rather not have all my personal details used for online fodder.  Quite a few people have a go at the fictional entity of Mr Angry already (many of whom seem to have no clue that this persona isn’t actually me) so I’m always kind of expecting a wider public “outing”.  I’m not stupid enough to think that if I’m nice everyone will be nice to me but at the end of the day I’d rather be able to hold my head up regarding my own actions rather than worry too much about what someone might say about me.

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Filed under Internet

Do you have plans for the weekend?

If not, may I suggest waiting an hour and a half of your time on the following video?  A little while ago I pointed out that I realised I was able to upload files to YouTube up to a gigabyte in size with no time limit on the video.

In order to exploit this, I asked people to submit questions to me on any subject at all and I’d answer them in a video.  Well, by the time I got around to printing them out to make the video it was 25 pages worth of questions.  This turned out to take 98 minutes for me to work my way through.

I certainly don’t hold it against anyone who doesn’t want to watch it.  But quite a few people have told me they found it entertaining.  Maybe you will too.

Because people are likely to ask, here are the details of the “stock footage” I used when I got bored of talking to the camera.

The first bit is some stuff I shot specifically for this video, a walk through the Melbourne CBD.

After that is a bunch of stuff I shot on St Kilda Beach (on different days) last summer.

Then there’s some shots of Melbourne’s lights, shot from Northcote Town Hall one night.

Then there’s a really weird performance I saw next to Fed Square one day – people on bendy sticks.

Then there’s a classic car show that I shot on another day at Fed Square.

Then I reposted some of my original graffiti and street art videos that I first posted about 18 months ago.

Then there’s some more of me talking.

The second bit of stock footage starts with some raw footage from one of my video shoots. Now you know what my videos look like before I edit them.

After that is some more night-time stuff that I shot on a bridge that’s over the Yarra River right next to the Melbourne CBD.

Then I reposted another old video, my Melbourne video postcard so you get to see a lot of the places near where I live including a view from the tallest building in Melbourne.

Then there’s a video of me playing with a motion capture toy at ACMI.

The last bit is a planning session for last Year’s gathering that has me, SeanBedlam and our friend/co-conspirator Adrian.

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