Fun Facts You Never Knew!

If you believe any of this then you seriously need help.

1: Larry Gelbart – creator of TV series M*A*S*H – based many of the show’s characters on inhabitants of Allerton Illinois, the town where he grew up. Frank Burns was based on a neighbour who yelled at him for stealing apples, and B.J.Hunnicutt on an escaped circus hound that lived at a nearby junkyard.

2: The Gnu is not (as often assumed) an antelope. It is a species of warthog that evolved to fill the ecological niche left vacant by the schiessbok antelope when it became extinct around 12,000 years ago.

3: Most post offices are legally entitled to accept fingers in lieu of 10c stamps. Given steep rises in postage costs it is vitally important to make sure that one has correct change before attempting to send packages through the mail.

No TV makes Denys something something…

I’ll need a plastic bucket…

Go crazy? Don’t mind if I do!!

Well OK, it’s not quite that bad. But it’s still having an effect. Last night for instance I had the most appalling trouble falling asleep. I didn’t drift off until the early hours when I took the measure of snuggling up to some spare pillows and making believe that they were Alison Mack (Awwww, how sweet! And vaguely disturbing). I think I’m beginning to see why any extended period of TV deprivation should be preceded by a (Twitch City style) Pon Farr.

But seriously, the issues I’m having have less to do with TV deprivation and more to so with autism. We autistics have a natural tendency to organise our lives into rigid routines, and when those routines are suddenly forced to change it tends to mess us up badly. Having no TV in the evenings is a major change to my daily routine, and I’m suffering the consequences (mainly ill focused general anxiety). But sooner or later I’ll adapt – probably just in time to get my TV back, and start all over again πŸ™‚

Ain’t life grand?

And a Thousand Goths Cry Out

No hotlinking! Or TV!

I finally got around to doing something I’ve been intending to do for ages this week, which is to block image hotlinking from Wyrmworld. This is largely to protect the images (insomuch as one can protect any images on the net) involved with a new project that I aim to launch within the next few weeks, but it’s also to finally deal with all the goths and emos leaching my bandwidth.

No, I haven’t turned into some kind of paranoid old man who blames the “young people” in their “strange clothes” for everything wrong with my life. And neither am I “hating” (as the young people say) on goths and emos. I’m referring to that hoary old chestnut the Camarilla Test which has been attracting people of a vampiric bent to Wyrmworld for almost as long as the site’s been online.

It’s been a nice little traffic generator for me, and I’m still quite happy with it and have no intention of removing it. But what has been a bit annoying is the number of people who get their result, then copy the HTML wholesale to stick on their blog/facebook/myspace page, without taking a local copy of the appropriate clan image. So every time someone looks at their site, the image is grabbed from Wyrmworld, driving up my bandwidth usage.

(And OK, I don’t pay anything for bandwidth, but it’s the principle of the thing.)

So I finally put code in place to stop it.

Now there are two ways you can do this. The first is to deny external image requests entirely, so anyone linking to your images just gets a broken one. This is well and good, but not particularly creative. The second option is to serve up an alternate image – traditionally either a simple “Hotlinking Not Permitted” notice, or something incredibly obscene. Naturally this is the option I went with.

Now I could have been boring and gone with the “Hotlinking Not Permitted” – but boring just plain ain’t me. Or I could have located some detestable blasphemy (thanks Lovecraft Engine!), but I don’t really want to punish the people who’ve enjoyed my work enough to post it on their sites. So I went with the third option and set up an image that – while completely inoffensive – is just plain, freaking insane.

(No, I’m not going to post it here – that would be no fun. You’ll have to figure out how to see it on your own. Think of it as an exercise for the reader.)

In any case on Thursday morning goths and emos all over the world would have woken up to discover an extremely strange and definitely non-gothic image adorning their carefully constructed virtual shrines of darkness. Hopefully they’ll learn a valuable lesson about image leeching πŸ™‚

(apart from the Malkavians, who’ll probably like the new image)

At the same time I’ve also done something that Ryan’s been bugging me to do for ages, and set up a favicon for the site. It’s working in Firefox, I’ll need to check it out in Explorer at work on Tuesday. So update your bookmarks!

(On the subject of favicons, what’s with Google’s new new one? It looks appalling)

In other news a great tragedy has befallen me. My TV is broken. I have no idea how this happened, it was working fine when I turned it off on Friday night, but when I went to switch it on yesterday afternoon it was as dead as a doenail (a new portmanteau word I came up with, being a combination of “dodo” and “doornail” – use it people!).

I really cannot fathom this. When TVs break they should do it mid-program with clouds of smoke and showers of sparks, not quietly in the middle of the night. It didn’t even have any power to it, as a good environmentalist I keep most of my appliances switched off at the wall (or at least powerboard) when I’m not using them. So how it could spontaneously die is completely beyond me.

The best explanation I can think of it that it was something to do with yesterday’s thunderstorms. We had some major ones go over and lightning struck only about a block away (titanic boom, car alarms going off all over the place, no power for an hour). This would seem to be a feasible theory, except that the VCR and DVD player hooked up to the same power board as the TV seem to be working fine (insomuch as one can tell without a functional TV). I didn’t even blow any fuses, which one would expect to be the first symptom of a power surge.

I think the only logical conclusion is that the lightning strike generated a extremely compact and directional electromagnetic pulse that happened to hit my TV dead on while avoiding every other electronic appliance in the apartment. The exact physics behind this phenomena I leave up to the experts – I’ll be too busy trying to find a TV repair place and lugging the thing over to them.

Hmmmm, or maybe it’s time to upgrade to a digital…

In any case, I can look forwards to a week (or maybe more) of having to make my own entertainment like some kind of 19th century peasant. There should be a law! Hrumph! Well at least it might give me time to write up that Eurovision review I promised.

Well better go. The turnips won’t harvest themselves (19th century peasant, remember?).

Do the chickens have large talons?

Ligers do not in fact have magical skills

Yesterday I finally got around to watching a film I’ve been meaning to for ages – Napoleon Dynamite (it was on special at JB’s and I needed something else to buy so it didn’t look like I’d gone in there just to get season four of Gilmore Girls :))

Well what, I ask you is there about this film not to like? Creepy Uncle Rico, ligers, time machines, llamas, holy statues protecting the school hallways and truly awful portraiture. It’s an exuberant paean to sheer, small town pointlessness, and probably the best thing I’ve watched all year to date.

I’m off now to brush up on my computer hacking skills!


Being born psychic should really free me from having to get out of bed this early in the morning

Once again a big break between entires. I’ve been busy at work, and a lot of my writing mojo is going into another project, so I haven’t had much to left over for chronicling my oh so glamorous life. But I’ve decided to get off my backside and actually try to catch up a bit.

So, while my social life hasn’t really been more active than usual the extreme gap between entries has let things build up a bit. For instance, a few weeks back (Easter Sunday actually now I think of it) it was up to Fabian’s new place for a pseudo housewarming sort of thing. We (which is to say myself, Ryan, Matt, Juan and – naturally – Fabian) ate large quantities of food (all prepared by Fabes who will make someone a very good wife some day πŸ˜‰ and watched Beowulf in the home theatre room, which was quite impressive. The room that is, the movie… not so much.

(They took a lot of liberties with the plot, which as a bit of an elitist classicist I took objection to. If I’d known Neil Gaiman was involved from the start – a fact I didn’t discover until the credits rolled – I wouldn’t have been quite as annoyed, because it was really a typical example of Gaimanian story remixing which I usually enjoy. But I didn’t know, and found the whole thing fairly irritating.

I guess I’m also slightly miffed by the fact that people all over the world are now going to think the oldest story in English literature is about a loudmouth jock who sleeps with a demon, cheats on his wife and cuts off his own arm to kill a dragon who just happens to be his own son. *sigh*)

After Beowulf we watched some of Revenge of the Sith, during which I amused myself by heckling Aniken and doing shadow puppets in front of the projector. Senator Palpatine may never recover from having his head crushed πŸ™‚

The following week (which is to say last week) I went around to Rebecca and Dom’s for lunch, which was interesting because Rebecca had decided to do something with the dried barberries from the hamper I gave them for Christmas. Unfortunately the barberry rice that resulted wasn’t exactly a rousing success. But the conversation and company were (as usual) excellent, and a good time was had by all (or at least me).

(On the subject of Rebecca she’s managed to slip over in the kitchen and break her ankle in three places – they’re putting in screws and a plate tomorrow. Apparently she’ll be off her feet for several days, then on crutches for a few months. I’ve convinced her to see if she can get a cane instead so she can perfect her House impression. Get well soon girl!)

Hmmmm, what else? Oh yeah April Fools. I keep meaning to do something really creative with my site each year for April Fools, and always run out of time and end up redirecting it somewhere stupid instead. This year was no exception, and any visitors trying to reach Wyrmworld would have found themselves forwarded to the website of the Australian Liberal Party (I figure Brendan Nelson needs all the help he can get ;). I decided to leave the redirect up all day on the basis that the web is an international medium, and if I took it down at 12:00 Perth time then overseas folk wouldn’t be able to share in the confusion. I know at least one person *cough*Ryan*cough* got caught, so that makes it all worthwhile.

I’d better get to bed shortly (I foolishly stayed up until midnight last night watching season three of Battlestar Galactica which arrived earlier this week) but before I sign off I though I’d direct everyone to take a look at FreakAngels – a free weekly comic by Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield. Set in a partially flooded future London it’s about a gang of twelve young adults with freaky powers (and purple eyes, and names heavily featuring the phoneme /k/), who are somehow responsible for the apocalypse that pretty much destroyed the world six years beforehand. Six pages get released each Friday (which is to say Saturday here in Australia), and so far we’re up to episode eight.

Given that it’s post-apocalyptic, a bit steampunk and set in London I am naturally loving it. So much so that I spent an hour or so the other week throwing together a Google Earth file of all the identifiable locations featured. I may or may not maintain this as the series continues – I haven’t decided yet πŸ™‚

Anyway, enjoy (keeping in mind that it’s “recommended for mature audiences” that is, and probably not exactly safe for work πŸ™‚

All Aboard the Good Ship Milkybar

Farewell to the milkiest Battlestar of them all

Well they’ve (apparently – I’m not looking up the exact details for fear of spoilers) announced the end of Battlestar Galactica – conincidently on the same day my season three box set is shipped by Amazon. This is actually perfectly fine by me, the basic plot couldn’t possibly keep going season after season after season without the series turning really stale. Ending while it’s still a reasonably good show (as far as I know, only having seen seasons one and two) makes sense.

(It also gives them a great opportunity to pen a really crappy sequel series featuring flying motorcycles πŸ™‚

As regards my box set, it’s going to take over a month to get here. This is merely more evidence for my sea otter theory regarding Amazon deliveries to the Asia-Pacific region.

PS: Why Milkybar? Trust me – linguists will be wetting themselves over that one πŸ˜‰

The Continuing Search for my Nemesis

Television Redux

You know, I’m really enjoying Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles which started its run here a few weeks back (it’s fair to say that it’s the closest we’re ever likely to get to River Tam Beats Up Everyone). Unfortunately however it’s already begun the slow slide towards the early hours of the morning suffered by all sci-fi on Australian TV. It began in a blaze of glory at 8:30pm Tuesday nights, stuck there for three episodes, went AWOL for a week, then came back at 9:30 this week. Before long it’ll drift to 10:30, then 11:25, and before long it’ll be on at 2:10am alternate Wednesdays and Tuesdays – when not bumped by repeats of the Red Shoe Diaries.

I’m also quite enjoying That Mitchell and Webb Look on the ABC (sorry! ABC 1!). Entertaining English sketch comedy with a touch of the surreal. There’s BMX Bandit and Angel Summoner, the Bad Vicar, the Lost Tribe of the Garden Center, and (best of all) the Surprising Adventures of Sir Digby Chicken Caesar. I find the latter so amusing that I can hardly keep from bursting into gales of laughter every time I’m waiting to be served at Sumo Salad (which no doubt says much more about me than it does Mitchell and Webb).

Still on the subject of television, Channel Nine is rerunning Friends at 6:00 nightly. Sad to admit I was quite a fan of the show in its original run, so it’s nice to get home from work and turn it on in the background. For some reason though (probably to do with the earlier time slot) the powers that be at Nine are butchering the hell out of any even slightly risque content, leaving rather jarring jumps in its place…

Ross: What is the name of Chandler’s father’s all male drag review?

Rachel (leaping up): Viva Las!

(cut to Chandler looking disgruntled amongst uproarious audience laughter)

Chandler: Unfortunately that’s true.

…rather hard to follow I think.

On a more personal note I’m feeling rather disgruntled myself this week. Sam – who’s been doing a traineeship with up for the last 18 months or so – had decided to leave the company, tomorrow being her last day. This means that the office is going back to a dead-boring all male environment. In a previous entry moaning about the now-departed cute girl at the supermarket over the road I commented that starting the day with a smile from a pretty girl makes work a lot more bearable. It seems that that’s even more true when you’re actually working alongside said pretty girl. And in addition to any totally inappropriate pulchitrudinous aspects Sam is smart, efficient, a quick learner and generally pretty cool (not to mention that from the all important giant-personal-ego viewpoint she laughs at most of my jokes) so while I’m going to miss her on a personal level the company is going to miss her too. But hey, lunch on the company budget tomorrow, so it’s not all bad πŸ™‚

Additionally on the upside, feeling sad about something real – as opposed to just being generally depressed – is actually quite refreshing.

Well, now I’ve potentially opened myself up to all kinds of sexual harassment suits I suppose I’d better go πŸ™‚

PS: A quick web search suggests that while, strictly speaking, “pulchitrudinous” retains its meaning of “physical beauty” it has in the last few decades… taken on a connotation of, shall we say, a much earthier kind of appeal (thank you Wikipedia). For the sake of clarity I would like to state that in this particular instance I intended “pulchitrudinous” as a humerous, faux-pompous substitude for “attractiveness” and nothing more. You know, just to be perfectly clear πŸ™‚

PPS: The missing word is “Gaygas”

Satellite Archeology

I would have called this ‘Satellite of Love’, but Dr Alice Roberts wasn’t at the dig πŸ™‚

The ABC (sorry, as of last week it’s ABC 1) is currently playing repeats of Time Team on Tuesday nights, and tonight it was the Castle Howard episode. So I was watching, and decided to have a look at the place on Google Earth. I head to Yorkshire, and do a search which takes me right there. I zoom in to have a look at the walled garden they’re digging in….. Are those trenches!?

Yep! A big trench right across the walled garden!

So I zoom out to the west lawn. More trenches!

Has the Google satellite captured Time Team at work?

It sure looks like it! πŸ˜€

Now I won’t swear it’s actually the Time Team dig. But the trenches are in the right places, and seem to be the right shape. In fact (given that the trenches in the walled garden have been extended, but there are none on the north lawn) I’d be willing to date the photographs to the morning of day three. There’s a bit of a mystery in that one of the trenches (trench 2?) is missing from the west lawn, but possibly they closed it and replaced the turf before opening up the north lawn.

So yeah, how about that then?

(The location isΒ  54° 7’14.46″ NΒ  0°54’34.09″ W for those who want to take a look)

Big day tomorrow!

What Sean Did Next


So, you’re a world famous actor playing a world famous character in a series of successful films, but you’re getting bored. So what do you do? Obviously the logical thing to do is quit, then star in a movie where you get to run around in a red nappy (with suspenders) shooting things, while a giant, floating, stone head yells about how a certain part of the male anatomy is evil…


That’s footage from the 1974 masterpiece of insanity Zardoz, staring Sean Double-O-Seven Connory in his first major role after leaving the James Bond franchise. And giant stone heads vomiting guns isn’t even the half of it – you should see the theatrical trailer. It’s like three minutes of the worst drug trip you’ll ever have. How such a bizzare monstrosity ever made it onto the screen I’ll never know – unless it had something to do with the “star power” of Mr Connory combined with the incredible amounts of acid everyone was doing back then.

It’s too hot today.

Are they still talking gospel to the people? If so, their voices must sound strange…

The Wyrmworld plan for large scale, distributed Civil Defence.

Jericho is turning out to be not bad at all. A bit overwrought at times, but all in all an enjoyable watch. The one weird thing though is as much as I enjoy watching it, it always leaves me feeling all wound up and anxious in the pit of my stomach.

I put this down to my being a child of the 80’s. Back then we were all living under the threat of the bomb. Every moment of every day we knew in the back of our minds that without warning some idiot in Washington or the Kremlin could hit the button and incinerate us all over some stupid point of political ideology. It was there all the time, much like the threat of terrorism today but worse because while a terrorist attack can kill hundreds, nuclear war would kill everyone. So I reckon Jericho freaks me out on some deep level because it’s the stuff of my generation’s childhood nightmares.

I’m still going to watch it though πŸ™‚

Next week is the fourth episode. The adds are terribly cryptic as usual, but I strongly suspect that a wave of desperate refugees from Denver is about to descend on the town, and drama shall ensue. This supposition has got me thinking about how a society could actually cope with people abandoning the big population centers and descending on small towns, and I’ve come up with some novel ideas that I shall now inflict on the world in general πŸ™‚

(On a side note we’re seeing each episode of Jericho only a few hours after it premieres in the States, which makes a fantastic change. The usual lag for American TV is six months to two years. I suspect someone in Hollywood has finally twigged that the best way to prevent torrent piracy isn’t legal action, it’s giving international audiences the ability to see the shows legally without having to wait for ‘ing months).

So, here’s my idea. You put legislation in place (in peacetime so people have the time to get used to it and make preparations) that in a time of emergency every settlement of more than 100 people is legally required to take in refugees equal to 5% of the population (you also provide government funding to help towns get the necessary facilities in place – extra hospital beds, emergency shelters and food supplies, etc). Jericho for example is a town of about 5000 people, so in an emergency it would be legally required to take in 250 refugees. Once those refugees have been taken in the settlement is perfectly within its rights to tell everyone else to move on, and can enforce that right by any means necessary.

Who gets accepted as a refugee is based on a priority system. The highest priority are the critically injured, the chronically ill, the elderly (let’s say over 65), and children under 16 and their parents/guardians. The first 250 (since we’re continuing to use Jericho as an example) of those people to turn up in town are taken in. The rest are given cursory medical treatment, some water, and told to keep on down the road to the next settlement.

To help the settlements taking in refugees cope, there would be a special provision for medical staff, military and emergency services personnel – 10% of the refugee intake can be allocated to these people at the town’s discretion. So Jericho could take 25 firefighters, cops or paramedics (if they’re available) in place of 25 higher priority refugees.

The diaspora from the city would spread out across the countryside with the weakest finding help and shelter almost immediately, and those able to go further going further. The majority of people would end up somewhere safe and have their needs met, and no settlement would be crushed under the pressure.

Now all of this probably sounds pretty harsh, but it’s meant to be. The situation portrayed in Jericho is harsh – a small town about to be swamped by thousands of desperate people seeking food, water, shelter and medical assistance. Incredibly hard decisions would have to be made and then enforced if anyone were to survive. The idea of the laws described above is to take those awful, inhuman decisions away from the townsfolk, give them a clear framework to work with, and provide the right to defend their home and themselves against the desperate hordes that would otherwise destroy them. It would also give the refugees a clear idea of what to expect, reducing some of the panic and violence that might otherwise ensue.

So yeah, that’s my plan for large scale, distributed Civil Defence. Not bad eh? ;D

I’m out of food, so I’m going to go shopping now.

PS: You may well be wondering what any of this has to do with “talking gospel”. Well, absolutely nothing! I just woke up with that phrase in my head the other morning and thought it was too good to waste. I have vague impression it’s got something to do with Al Jolson in minstrel makeup riding up and down a beach on a jet ski yelling at people, but any deeper significance is forever lost in the world of dreams πŸ™‚

PPS: What!? Wikipedia is down! But it’s the source of all human knowledge!! How can I be sure that my links about Al Jolson and racist entertainment practises of the early 20th century are correct?!?

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