"All sorts of entertaining" - Elizabeth Seckman

"Michael and his pals make me wish I lived in Adelaide" - Cherdo

"If I had a daughter, I'd send her to Australia to meet him (and marry him)" - Robyn Alana Engel

"An Australian version of me. Only younger. And Talented. And better looking. Okay, nothing like me." - Al Penwasser

"Whom must I fuck or pay to get a quotation at the top of your blog post?" - Janie Junebug

Friday, 29 July 2016

TED Talk Tuesday: Can We Create New Senses for Humans?

(Originally published on Oct 27, 2015) (Tuesday)

I'm scared of technology. I'm one of those people who feels like we're making new technology faster than we can how to use it. I see stories all the time about new technology that can make us super-human or allow us to live forever. I worry that that will in turn make us inhuman - that we'll slowly strip back our own humanity until we essentially become The Matrix.

On the flip side, I don't want to halt progress completely. Just because I'm worried that Wall-E will come true doesn't mean we should accept every shortcoming we have. That robotic pair of legs that can allow a human to jump 50 feet in the air... It can also give a soldier new life when his own legs are blown off in battle.

So where's the line? I have a theory that we should establish what it is that an average human can and can't do. Any technology that helps those below the average to join the rest of us (people in wheelchairs, blind, deaf, dumb etc) should be supported and encouraged. Any technology that helps the average human become decidedly above average should be discouraged.

The thing that's talked about in this video falls squarely into both of those areas.

And I'm ALL for it.


This post is now part of our Flashback Friday series - a day we set aside to revisit an old post that needs to be revisited,

I used to do this series - TED Talk Tuesday - because I would often see TED Talks that really opened my eyes to new ideas (as is the intention). I stopped after a little while because they were getting very few hits and really ever any comments. But not before I found this gem that taught me the new word "umwelt" and helped me to apply it to much more psychological situations.

If you'd like to join Flashback Friday, just join the list below. It takes place on the last Friday of each month.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Go Again

So this Pokemon app is getting bigger. this happened in Central Park recently when word got out that there was a rare Pokemon all over the area.

What I find interesting about this is the reactions of the public. They range from hilarity and jealousy over not having been there themselves to doomsday lamentations. Just in case you were thinking otherwise, the fact that this pointless game has taken over the world is not an indication of the de-evolution of the world.

I totally agree that the points this person raises are conversations that need to be had. But not all the time. The world needs just as much of this as it does of that. As soon as the balance tips too far one way or the other, that's when it becomes a problem.

Contradictively though, there's just no way I can get behind the popularity of the Kardashians.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Pokemon Go

I've managed to keep this blog going on a regular basis for two and a half years now. I've pushed through idea slumps, lack of readership and having 601 jobs and still managed to find time to keep this going. But now Pokemon Go has arrived in Australia and it's become the biggest threat to this blog since it started.

Any time I've got free time (and sometimes when I don't), I think to myself "I could be catching Pokemon now. I, like most of the players of the game, want to be the very best, like no one ever was. And I am doing pretty well. I'm at level 15 with a couple of Pokemon over 1000 CP. I've seen 65 Pokemon and loaded 63 of them into my Pokedex. That's reasonably close to half of the Pokemon that are currently available in the game.

I love this thing. It gets kids (and young adults) out of the house like nothing else has ever done. It's combined video games and fitness in a way that many have tried to do but ultimately failed (think the PlayStation Eye Toy, the X-Box Kinect and to a lesser extent the Nintendo Wii). And it's so much more social than I would have thought. On Monday I went to Unley with my friends Mitchell and Kelsey. We hung around the oval eating pizza, watching the Sturt Football club train and catching Pokemon as they appeared. After we finished our pizza, we got out of the grandstand and headed for the outside of the stadium, and we found it was surrounded by people who were also playing the game. They'd set down lures and were co-ordinating on which Pokemon could be found where or complaining about how hard some of them were to catch etc. There were dozens of them and I'm pretty sure I spotted some people I know.

I should have seen this coming. I've been intending to put some money in the stock market for a while. I knew this game would be popular, but it didn't click that its popularity would affect Nintendo's share prices. But in just the first week, the company's shares went up so much that the company as a whole became 10 billion dollars richer. That's right, billion. In a week. I certainly missed that opportunity.

Here are some pics  of my adventures so far.

Monday, 11 July 2016

History Is Repeating

Friday, 8 July 2016

Entering the Digital Age

There are different methods of periodisation - the tendency to separate human history into arbitrary, non-overlapping blocks of time. You've got pre-history, then the stone age, bronze age and iron age (often viewed together), then the middle age all the way up to the industrial age. From my small amount of research, it seems that these shifts in the times are caused by major advances in technology. The stone age began when early humans first learned how to make tools out of rocks and wood. The iron age came when we learned how to smelt, making weapons, building structures and trading in it. After we learned about the ways in which fossil fuels could be burned to create energy, we created the first steam powered engine and suddenly we were in the industrial age. Everything became faster and more hungry for power and things were produced at a rate never before imagined.

The general theory is that sometime in the mid-20th century, we left the industrial age and entered the information age. I think that's close, but not quite right. Because in the 1990s, there was an advent in technology that changed the whole direction of mankind just as much as the steam engine, the blacksmith and the wheel.

The internet.

Whether you're very young and have lived with smartphones your whole life or very old and complain about the young people's dependence on them, there's a very, very high chance the internet shapes your life in some way. I call this the digital age - the period beginning in 1990 when a computer scientist took a developing "network of networks" and turned it into the world wide web. Our dependence on the internet exploded after that, to the point that just a quarter-century later, we have toasters that are communicating with kettles, TVs that can download movies and supercomputers that have all of the world's knowledge in our pockets. One of my favourite stories is from 2012 when I took a trip to Perth, Australia. I went into a store to buy some new board shorts and couldn't decide which one to buy. So I took a picture of myself wearing each of them, sent them to my friends back in Adelaide (2700 kms away) and got a response from them by the time I left the changeroom. I love the digital age.

But what I find really interesting is that I'm at a weird age where I grew up with the very last of the analogue era. I'm just old enough to have held a cassette recorder next to the radio when I wanted to keep a song for future use. Failing that, the only music I'd hear came from the CDs that I bought, which I would listen to on my Discman. The same goes with analogue cameras. We would take holidays overseas with our bulky camera, looking through the viewfinder at the top to work out how it would look. I would be sternly warned "Don't open the back!" else we'd lose the last few shots we'd taken. I remember getting prints back from the chemist and only then would we know if the photos had turned out alright. My formative years were still in that time where you would call up your friend on a landline phone and talk to them (using your actual voice) for ages. If your friend wasn't home, it would be unlikely you'd be able to contact them until they got home and called you back.

I wonder all the time what it must feel like to have been born just ten years later than I was. People older than me grew up in a world where the internet didn't exist at all. That shaped their lifestyle in a certain way. People younger than me are growing up in a world where the internet controls and runs everything. That shapes their lifestyle in a certain way. Me, I'm in this weird half-half generation, where the internet existed, but hadn't yet taken over. It must be similar to how people feel if they were born after the first 9/11 or the first World War. Growing up in a world where events like that have already happened would have a vastly different feeling to being in a world where they haven't yet happened and are therefore unimaginable.

I've generally embraced the digital age like many who are older than me have not. I log into a lot of things using my Google account, I stream TV shows from Netflix right to my phone or to the TV with Chromecast, and the moment I driverless cars become a reality (and I can afford one) I'll get one. But on the other hand, I'm very slow to embrace most new technologies. My gaming console requires a separately sold device to be able to go online, I only discovered and bought my Chromecast a couple of months ago and I'm usually one of the last to try out a new social media service or app. It's a weird place to be. But it's also kinda fun.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Question of the Month: My First Literary Love

It's time for Question of the Month, where a small community of bloggers answers a thought-provoking question provided by a member of the group. This month's question is

"What was the first book (or book series) you fell in love with?"

It can be really hard to think back right to the very first thing that started our love of books. My mum tells me she used to read to me as a toddler and that I loved it. I remember reading a lot of Dr Seuss books and still have a ton of them in my cupboard. I recently unearthed a copy of Go Dog Go that was in such bad shape that the pictures on the front and back covers had been torn off and what was left looked like what you'd get when you try and peel a barcode off a new product and can't quite make it.

The story was in-tact though, and I found a lot of joy in re-reading it. But I'd say the first book I can remember finding, not being able to put down and subsequently sought out the entire series from start to finish was K.A. Applegate's Animorphs series.

It started when I was about nine years old and was watching the Animorphs TV series religiously. I had no idea it had started as a book series which even today is normal for me. Once I was given two of the books for my birthday, it began. I read them, loved them and made the decision to find all the books in order so I could read them as a complete story arc. I loved seeing each new cover, which showed one of the six main characters morphing into an animal. It would be a different person each issue, indicating who the narrator would be for that episode. The characters would take turns relating the story in a regular pattern starting with the leader Jake.


For those who don't know, Animorphs centers around five teenagers who are thrown into a situation where they're the only hop for mankind. A breed of parasitic alien named Yeerks had begun a silent, stealth takeover of Earth. Yeerks were basically slugs, with no sense of sight, smell, hearing etc. So they needed to crawl in through the ear canal of another organism and attach themselves to its brain in order to experience those senses. Once attached, the Yeerk controled the host completely. Five of the aforementioned teenagers (the sixth came soon after) happened across a crashed spaceship belonging to a different breed of alien (called the Andalites) who were sworn to stop the spread of these parasitic Yeerks. There was a lone Andalite in there who was hurt by the crash and dying. With his last act, he explained the situation to the kids and gives them a piece of alien technology which became their primary weapon in fighting the Yeerks - the ability to acquire the DNA of other living organisms and morph into them.

Over the course of 54 books (that sounds horribly daunting, but each book was quite small; kind of like the Hitchhiker's Guide books), their story evolved in many ways. Their guerrilla missions, which started as abysmal failures, slowly became more and more successful. They were occasionally sucked into strange new places, from as close to home as Antarctica or the Amazon to as far away as whole other planets. They gained new allies in many species that weren't human. The catalogue of animals they could morph into expanded from just Earth animals to sentient alien beings. They discovered the reason the Yeerks had chosen to invade Earth in the first place and - probably my favourite development - they discovered what the Yeerk's real relationship was with their sworn enemy the Andalites.

The story went that before they were enemies, the Yeerks were confined to their own planet, helpless and pathetic, just as slugs are on our own planet. There was an Andalite Prince named Prince Seerow who felt sorry for the poor helpless parasites. So he decided to help them by giving them Andalite technology, such as the ability of space travel. In an amazing lack of foresight, the Yeerks said "Well thanks, now I guess we have the means to take over the galaxy." and began their conquest. Prince Seerow was was put to death and the Andelites passed a new law vowing never again to give Andalite technology to other races. They called this law the Law of Seerow's Kindness. And what it also meant was that the Andalite that had crashed into Earth and given our protagonists the power to morph (himself a prince) had broken his people's highest law to do so. He committed a form of treason with his final act so he could give humans a tiny fighting chance.

Recounting all this makes me want to read it again. I used to go to the library (back when kids still did that) once every couple of weeks to borrow the next three books in the series and return the ones I'd read. I wonder what they'd think if I turned up now as a 24 year old and started doing it again?

If you'd like to join the bloghop, enter with the list below. The picture used at the top of this page was created by hopper Olga Godim and I encourage everyone to use it if they'd like. The one I made was a screenshot from an episode of The Simpsons, so I'm not entirely sure of its legality :P

Friday, 1 July 2016

5 Suggestions for New Social Experiment TV Shows

It's a new subgenre of reality TV I'm seeing pop up a lot now - the social experiment. Shows such as The Seven Year SwitchKiss Bang Love, Married at First Sight and newest addition The Briefcase all center around a perverted premise and viewers watch as the drama unfolds.

I couldn't care less about these shows, but I do care about cash. And there seems to be much of it in the making of these shows. So I thought I'd have a go at creating some new social experiment reality shows. If you like one and want to see it made, call 1300 555 123 or SMS your name and the name of the show you like to 0464 242 353. Standard call and SMS charges apply.

Pant Swap
We follow five couples (some married, some just dating) as the partners in each couple agree to swap underpants for two weeks. Laugh as each male tries to master the art of releasing his wedgie without being noticed. Cry as each female despairs over the amount of holes in her pants. Will any of the couples decide they like the change and stick to it? Tune in to find out.
Disclaimer: We've been receiving your letters and for the last time, there will not be a gay couple on the show. That just defeats the whole point.

Big Ursa
You've heard of big brother? Now try Big Ursa - the show where we lock twelve contestants in with a house full of bears! Watch as friendships are formed and limbs chewed. The black bear will be attacked (emotionally) by the polar bear as we learn he's a white supremacist. The grizzly bear and the kodak bear will team up to get Bear Grylls voted out of the house. The teddy bear doesn't last long, as it and four of the contestants are eaten on just the first day. TV Guide gives this show two paws up.

There'll be celebrity appearances too.

Find My Phone
We take a phone from an overly social teenager and hide it in the place they're least likely to find it - a library. In the new show that authors everywhere are talking about, this young man or woman must decipher the strange text (it's like an SMS written on paper!) and deal with constantly being told to shush. Friends will contact them over the weeks ahead by writing them gossip-filled letters. By the end of the show, we'll have answered the question - has this teenager actually learned something? Now available for streaming on your smart phone.

It just... goes on... forever...

The Botchelor
A dating show where one man chooses a new bride from one of thirteen vain, conceited, malicious beauty queens. But there's a catch - each woman has had some kind of botched surgery. Will our Botchelor be able to keep his eyes off that one boob that's two cup sizes bigger than the other? Can he navigate around the scalpel that's still sticking out of that giant mole? will he figure out how to kiss the lady who can't move the left side of her face? At the end of each episode, the Botchelor will eliminate one woman by handing her a bandage and asking her to leave the sterilised area. And at the end of the series, the last remaining woman will be crowned "The Botchelorette". They'll run away together, but then the guy will leave her and marry the girl who came second instead.

Do yourself a favour. NEVER Google botched surgery.

PM for a Day
We're taking political turmoil into a whole new electorate. In Australia, we've had five changes of Prime Minister in just three terms. So we've decided to throw our hat in the ring. Over the course of ten days, we give ten different people the chance to be Prime Minister. Chaos reigns as the boats are turned away, then invited back, then turned away again. Superannuation fluxuates from 9% to 12% to 1% and then to a million percent. Gay marriage is one of the first things to be brought in, but it's soon followed by marriage to pets, objects and abstract ideas (like Wednesday). The proponents of the "slippery slope" argument become annoyingly smug. The phrase "We have a plan" is uttered more times than in any other ten-day period in recorded history. There are hugs aplenty as one PM announces a stimulus package of one free puppy to every household. Nobody knows what happens to Medicare.

You won't believe what happens on the final day.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Share This Page

Any part of this blog may be reproduced or distributed, providing credit is given to the original author.