conversations with myself

The Thriller

If there was one bit of news I didn’t expect to wake up to yesterday, it was that Michael Jackson had died.

At first, I heard that “reports out of the US” were saying he died, or was in a coma. I didn’t want to believe it, but over the next half hour, the news was confirmed by more reliable sources, and so it was that a special artist’s life ended.

Michael Jackson was many things to many people, but it was his Black or White that was my very first pop song; it was the first one I can recall being a fan of, of racing to the radio to listen to. I had a tape of the album, Dangerous, that is probably one of the world’s most worn tapes around, particularly around the Black or White part. I watched the video clip a hundred times, as it stayed in the charts for weeks on end. Saturday mornings finished with Video Hits showing Black or White, and on Sundays it was up early to see it again on rage, which usually showed the whole clip, not just the music.

In short, I thought he was a genius, and given the outpouring of grief, emotion and the reactions of the last two days, I don’t think I was the only one. Jackson’s active career spanned 4 of his 5 decades, and at his height in the 80s the monkier “The King of Pop”, first said by his friend Elizabeth Taylor, stuck, and there are no heirs to the throne. From his start in the Jackson 5 to his best-selling solo album Thriller, and even to the mixed Invincible which never the less contained the hit You Rock My World, Jackson did what a performing artist should do best: entertain and thrill the public.

The name Jackson lives in the same echelon as Presley and Lennon, a genius in the musical world, as a singer, songwriter and perhaps foremost as a dancer. MJ’s sublime ability to control his body made perhaps his signature move, the moonwalk, somehow magical and special; no-one quite does it like he did.

I guess I was too young to know what was going on during the first accusations of child molestation levelled against him, but I certainly did when the issue reared its ugly head again in the early part of this decade. You got the feeling watching the documentary that raised the issue that Michael Jackson was really just a bit lost outside of the music world, never having grown up or being allowed to do so in a normal manner. It was the ultimate Peter Pan complex – he wanted to be a kid forever.

Whether the accusations were true or not, acquittal not withstanding, the damage to Jackson’s reputation and his continual strange behaviour led to his fall from grace, as seems inevitable for all child stars. For many though, as is abundantly clear today, this did not diminish his achievements as an artist, and so I would represent him – one of the most brilliant performers we had for years. It is a pity that his life should end so early.

I don’t know whether we’ll see the like of Jackson ever again – the celebrities with a genuine reason to be celebrated, the entertainers that achieve so much on a global scale; one would hope that perhaps someone will be inspired enough to produce music that appeals to so many. It would be a pity too if his music were to be overshadowed by his later days, and I would sincerely hope his music is held up as a shining example of popular entertainment.

Vale, Michael Joseph Jackson, 1958 – 2009.


Fallen Princesses

Fallen Princesses is a series of images imagining Disney’s Princesses post-“Happily ever after”. Some great juxtapositions, especially Belle of Beauty and the Beast.

the daily column

Can’t talk

It’s amazing how a sense of an unspoken privacy policy holds you back. You can’t blog about work, because that’s naturally privileged information, but then when you’re unemployed and looking for work, you can’t talk about the interviews you’re taking because that too isn’t something you want to broadcast. Rock and a hard place.

I’ve now gone through about 6 books in the last 3 weeks. I thought this would be a chance to catch up on movie watching, but my attention span is so skittish right now I’ve been only reading books, which I can in theory put down at any time. But usually end up reading for hours on end before realising it’s 3 PM (again) and I’ve forgotten to do X, Y and Z. Again. But then you think, oh, I can just do that tomorrow, right?

Wrong. But you saw that coming.

You won’t do it tomorrow any more than you did it today. Tomorrow adds another four items to your to-do list, but since you haven’t got any structured activity scheduled, you end up skipping that anyway. I’m thankful that I’ve had a few interviews at semi-regular intervals simply for the target that it gives me at some point during the day.

It’s also simply amazing how much stuff there is out there on the net. I think I spent half of yesterday watching TED talks on topics as far ranging as the role of language in framing our thoughts to card tricks. There’s a fascinating universe of things that you never touch in your day to day existence, and if I had the time, talent and money I would attempt to get as broad an education as possible, following threads of interest until the interest dies and I must switch to a new field. (Yay for mixed metaphors, eh?)

In other news, it’s freaking freezing here in Sydney. Sydney’s not supposed to be cold! Even in winter!


How to set the default language in Mac OSX or Pages to be Australian or British English

How hard is it to find this somewhere straight-forward on the net? Very hard evidently, because how many people come here.

Edit: now updated for Yosemite. Older version below.

Step 1: Open Language & Region:Screenshot 2014-10-25 11.47.13

Step 2: Go to the language list and click +:
Screenshot 2014-10-25 11.47.59Step 3: Select the language desired – in this case English (Australia) and click Add:Screenshot 2014-10-25 11.48.42

Step 4 – Mac OS X Yosemite prompts you to use the new one as your primary language – select this and you’re good to go:
Screenshot 2014-10-25 11.48.56This is what it should look like:
Screenshot 2014-10-25 11.49.10

Now for spelling dictionaries – Yosemite has system-wide spell-checking, so we need to order it there. Pages (and other apps) will pick this up automatically. This time, we go to the Keyboard pref pane:Screenshot 2014-10-25 12.05.10

Click over to the Text tab, and we’ll see the spelling drop-down over on the right – usually this is set to auto, but let’s go through setup to confirm what we need:Screenshot 2014-10-25 12.06.10In the setup window, you can pick which dictionaries apply – so if you’re not going to type in Russian or Polish, for instance, you can remove these: Screenshot 2014-10-25 12.08.10

You can drag to re-order, and click Done to save your preference: Screenshot 2014-10-25 12.09.41

And there you have it!


For Mac OS X Snow Lion and Pages 8 and earlier:

Step 1: Open International pref pane in System Preferences


Step 2: On the Languages tab, click on “Edit List”


Your list of languages already in the list might be longer – e.g., it’ll usually have most of the European languages.

Step 3: Select the language(s) you wish to add and click OK.


Here I’ve chosen both Australian English and British English – generally speaking though, these are virtually identical and you only need the one you prefer.

Step 3: The newly selected languages should now be in the list. Order the list to your preference by dragging list items around.


As it says under “Edit List”, the changes will take effect next time you start the application (in the case of Finder, that’s obviously when you restart). Generally speaking, I’d say leave English (i.e., the American one) in there somewhere.

Now you’re done for most of the system stuff. Pages will now create new documents with the top language as the default. However, for existing documents you’ll need to do the following:


Select all text, and then (1) click on Inspector, (2) click on the text tab, (3) select “More” tab, and (4) set the language.


Andy Ihnatko on Google Wave

In case you haven’t heard of Google Wave, or haven’t had the time to watch the video and realise how it really will change just about everything to do with the internet, Andy Ihnatko has written his take on it, and it pretty much lines up with mine – this is genuinely new, and if it’s not revolutionary, it’s certainly evolutionary on the same scale that Homo Sapiens is.


Time Travel for relationships

So, you’re in love with one of your friends, but she has a boyfriend and probably wouldn’t have sex with you anyway.”

Step Seven: When she enters the room pretend to be unconscious. Allow her to turn you over and try to wake you for a few seconds before you open your eyes. The injuries to your body will serve as a distraction to your nakedness. She will be more concerned about your wellbeing instead of fearing the naked man in her room.

Step Ten: If your friend is a curious person she will probably ask ‘What worked?’, even if she doesn’t ask this question it is important that you now say the words ‘(Insert Friend’s Name), I’m from the future’ in your most deadpan voice.

Step Eleven:
Pause for ten seconds to allow the incrediblness of the situation to sink in. There will be no reason for her to doubt your claim, because your beard will make you appear many years older and your cuts would add weight to the idea that you’ve come from a post-apocalyptic future where a war is currently taking place.