Add New Post

I remember once upon a time I’d discover a new blog and spend hours going backwards through time to try to reach the first post. It felt practically necessary – the only way context could be sufficiently established, that you could follow along with new developments. In the days before RSS – that is, only 5 years ago – you’d click through your list of links daily, just to discover if they’d posted something new.

It was all the better for the site to be one of the hand-crafted ones, where you knew that someone had to spend time creating the latest “entry” page by hand, updating the archives page. Those based on a dynamic updating platform had a curiously flat appearance to them, all “posts” the same in some respect or another… and yet there was an undeniable appeal, the simplicity of not having to upload, the ease of automatic archiving – and the brilliance of RSS, all for (practically) free.

All you had to do was learn the template.

And then people (ok, at least I) got lazy. There were better designers out there, and they were giving away templates as they played with new layouts – CSS had arrived, and there was experimentation to be had. And then it got accessible – anyone could do it, technical skills or no.

For a time, it was good. People were experimenting, the format was evolving, and there was a whole net out there to be explored.

After that time, it got staid. Everyone had a blog, a flickr account, a myspace page, and a facebook profile. And along came tumblr, tempting with its short-form updates. Youtube provided a diversion into video blogging, and the multifarious podcasting tools for those who preferred audio. And then came the prodigal son, twitter, life in bite-size chunks of 140 characters.

Now, they’re all hungry, as the newly social internet runs on the back of that ubiquitous term, user-generated content. They ask you to Add a New Post, or What Are You Doing? or the latest prompt, What is On Your Mind?, as though the answers were being sought for anything other than page-views and the corresponding ad dollars.

Whatever happened to us?

Continue reading Add New Post

Caveat Lector

A response to this rather infuriating article:

Paul Sheehan has a rather glaring contradiction in his article on Monday, accusing “Comrade Rudd” of being a great illusionist. To claim on the one hand that the Prime Minister falsely represented himself as an economic conservative, but argue on the other hand that following Keynes’ General Theory is not economic conservatism appears somewhat contradictory.

Keynes’ ideas of macroeconomics had been largely displaced by Milton Friedman and the Chicago School of Business’ laissez-faire monetary approach since the 70s, so it seems that a return to older ideas would indeed conform to the ideas of conservatism in the field of economics. Applying the approach used to solve the Great Depression of the 1930s seems like the very model of conservatism.

It is also telling to read the full text of Niall Ferguson’s quasi-blog-post. Sheehan very selectively quotes from the source, which is primarily focused on proposing a solution for America and its banks.

Niall Ferguson’s article focuses on the fact that the US and UK governments are deeply indebted, along with their banks. He proposes that the US Government effectively seize American banks known to be holding large volumes of potentially bad debt, rewriting mortgages in more favourable terms for borrowers, and reprivatizing seized banks in 10 years. It’s an idea that is widely circulated, and has the backing of Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize for Economics winner for 2008.

Does Sheehan expect that Kevin Rudd follow this example for the Australian banks? The solutions Sheehan hints at in Ferguson’s “solution” have nothing to do with Australia and the Government’s attempts to stimulate local demand, and would have Sheehan screaming about socialism by any other name. To imagine that these solutions could be brought about without increased government spending and debt is also fatuous.

Australian banks not affected to the extent of their international peers, for which regulation is but one factor, so Ferguson’s proposed solution is largely irrelevant to Australia, despite the allusions Mr Sheehan draws to solutions which “space precludes listing.” Ferguson’s contention that more debt is a problem, which Sheehan has latched onto, is only to set up the argument that the further debt should be targeted more directly at fixing bad loans in America. Paul Sheehan seems to have missed that part.

Caveat lector – let the reader beware – ought to proceed Sheehan’s article.

Laziest Redesign Evar

*cough* So, Um, kinda got bored of that last “theme” I’d hacked together without much motivation. Thus you have the SimpleX theme running here.

Still have yet to figure out a good place for the Twitter & Del.icio.us feed (if they’re actually wanted), but on the other hand, a whole lot more of this still is far more accessible now that there’s a traditional sidebar over there on the right. Give it a poke some time.

There’s also a ye-olde link list, though I’ve only taken a cursory look through to ensure sites linked to aren’t dead. Depressingly, most of the friend sites linked there are dead blogs or sites, so the cull was brutal.

So until the next theme takes my fancy, enjoy ximple/

Movie Review: Quickie Edition X

Igor: Not Pixar-quality animation, not Shrek quality jokes, but a little endearing no less – Igor is slightly dark, slightly edgy, slightly different – but the problem is that it’s all slightly so. The voice cast is stand-out – John Cusack as the title character , Steve Buscemi as a suicidal immortal rabbit type thing, Sean Hayes (of Will & Grace) as the brain-in-a-jar, Eddie Izzard and even a little cameo from John Cleese. For all their effort though, they can’t help a weak plot from meandering and being way too obvious. ★★☆

Smart People: Official Crush: Ellen Page. Officially Mystified why People Find Her Attractive: Sarah Jessica Parker (seriously? She’s got a face like a horse!). Quirky and maybe even kinda dark-comedy-at-heart story about a crumudgeonly professor who has an accident and is forced to have his adopted unemployed brother drive him around. Touching in some bits, funny in many others, cringe worthy in a few – not without its flaws, but with plenty of merits none-the-less, primary amongst which is Ellen Page. ★★★☆

Thick as Theives: The reasons you may want to watch this: Morgan Freeman, Antonio Banderas, it’s a heist movie. Reasons you may actually not just walk out of the cinema: Radha Mitchell. Reasons you should want to watch this: none. Reasons you shouldn’t watch this: most ridiculous plot since Ecks vs Sever (Banderas does like a rank action flick once in a while), stupidest dodge-the-security-system scene since that awful one with Catherine Zeta-Jones in Entrapment (except she was hot but Banderas isn’t half so (though I speak only for the men). ★★ (half-star extra credit because I like heist movies, ok?)

Baby Mama: I guess this probably came first, and maybe 30 Rock was used as a cross-promotion device, but Tina Fey needs to lay off the baby-gaga for a while. It’s good for a gag in a sitcom, maybe even 2 eps, but stretched as it is here with Fey playing the straight-(wo)man to Amy Poehler’s slapstick white-trash routine, it gets tired. Fey and Poehler have great on-screen chemistry, but I can’t say that for the rest of the cast, and while this can tug a heartstring or two, it turns out bit of a mixed bag overall. ★★

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People: Call me a sucker for a good rom-com, but I enjoyed this little ditty. Simon Pegg is an independent magazine editor in London who gets the call-up for work at a prestigious magazine (think Vanity Fair). Only, he gets unceremoniously dumped into the Eye Spy-esque department, writing fluff peices on celebrities. Co-worker Kirsten Dunst reluctantly helps him to settle in (after being ordered to do so), but Pegg’s character wants his hard-hitting stories of old back. Almost fomulaic, Pegg’s wonderfully flexible facial expressions and brilliant comic timing bring a certain something else to an otherwise hackneyed plot you’ve seen somewhere before. ★★★☆

Ghost Town: Another rom com set in New York with a British comedic actor, but this time it’s Ricky Gervais as a grumpy anti-social dentist. Gervais goes in for a “routine” operation, but dies on the table for 7 minutes before he is revived – and now he can see dead people. One of the dead people (Greg Kinnear) manages to convince him to help him out with his wife/widow (Téa Leoni, y’know, the hot chick in Bad Boys). The plot spins out the ghost story to a slightly different angle, but it’s fundamentally about the redemption of Gervais’ character and how Leoni’s character falls in love with him regardless, etc etc. Bit predictable, but no less sweet for all that, I thought. Gervais is brilliant. ★★★

W.: Kinder to George W. Bush than many would anticipate, but not soft by any means. Josh Brolin puts up a stellar performance that captures many of Bush’s mannerisms down to a tee, and Richard Dreyfuss is spooky as Cheney. Perhaps a bit too soon – given this was released before Bush left – but an interesting biopic no less. ★★★

Religulous: Bill Maher hasn’t got much of a profile in Australia, but going on what I’ve seen in this movie, maybe he really should have a bigger profile. Maher examines religion and its many inherent faults and inadequacies, primarily focusing on the three monothiestic/“Abrahamic” religions – I guess because this is most familiar to himself and his target audience, Americans. Sort of like The God Delusion brought to life, Maher really pulls a fast one around the simpler folk who can’t see the forrest for the trees. Some very good laughs. ★★★★

Leave me with a scar

“What’s this?”

“What’s what?”

“This little scar here.”

“That… that there is from skateboarding.”

“No!”

“No what?”

“You never skateboarded!”

“After cracking my head and getting 6 stiches, no.”

“I still don’t believe you.”

“I was 6 at the time.”

“Oh… well, what’s this one?”

“That one is from impaling myself on my bike when I was about 10.”

“You don’t do things by halves, do you?”

“Pure accident. Stacked it while mucking around and the bear-traps took a chunk out of my thigh…”

“Ugh…”

“More gory details? You could see all the layers down into the muscle.”

“You’re still proud of it, aren’t you?”

“No, not really… the story is a bit of a dud, isn’t it? ‘Err, yes, I fell on my own bike.'”

“Point taken. How about for this one?”

“That’s an easy one. Burnt it last week at your mum’s, remember?”

“Not my fault you’re clumsy.”

“I think your mum has it in for me.”

A giggle. “And have you got a brave story behind this one here?”

“You don’t recognise it?”

“No… should I?”

“Yes. It has no brave story, but you should know it.”

“Still can’t think why I should know it…”

His voice becomes distracted, quiet.

“That was from when you broke my heart the first time.”

She looks up into his eyes now, searching for his distant gaze. Her mouth opens, then shuts again, as her gaze shifts, looking inwards. She tucks her head into the speacial hollow next to his neck as they both drift into a sea of memory.

In Memoriam: Bluey

Bluey was given a fine send-off today, as signs of a terminal affliction finally caused those working to cure him to give up hope of a recovery. The best Bluey could manage today was an asthmatic wheeze, and with nary a pulse in evidence, the decision was made to bring to an end any further life support efforts.

As a 2 Stroke, 160cc Victa, little was asked of Bluey but to do his job, month in, month out, and he served well for 15 years, having come to his current role after being retrenched from his last for a younger model. For many years, though hot weekends and sodden ones both, Bluey strove to fulfill his purpose faithfully, although it sometimes took more than a curse or two before he got going.

In recent times, Bluey had become more and more crantankerous, occasionally stopping for no apparent reason what so ever. Things came to a head over the summer, as even in fine mowing conditions Bluey would not co-operate, drinking in a rich fuel mix but barely turning over. And thus it was that Bluey met his demise, although whether it was timely or not is left unanswered.

Bluey will be most sorely missed by Jerry and Jerry Jnr., petrol cans that served alongside him for years. Their future remains unknown, as a replacement is yet to be determined, and they face obsolecense in the form of the new-fangled electrics.