Categories
quickie

A Love Letter to Australia

First Dog on the Moon writes a love letter to Australia:

Hello Australia, I have always loved you.

There isn’t space here to list everything as Australia takes up a lot of space.

I love standing still in the bush when it is pushing 40 degrees…

I love watching Test cricket. With the sound on the TV off and the ABC radio on…

Geez we can be funny buggers though. I love that. And the way we talk, I reckon if the science could work out a way to weaponise an accent, Australian voices could blast a hole in the moon. Yeah nah

I love the fact that everyone’s taken to be equal, how we talk about our leaders as Bob and Paul and Johnny and Kevin and Julia and Tony and Mal, none of this formality nonsense.

I love how “She’ll be right,” is a legitimate attitude to just about everything.

Love this peice.

Categories
tech

Sony’s Design History

This collection of photos from Sony’s design history is beautiful and demonstrative of some amazing stuff that came out of Sony over the years. Always loved their gear. So much seemingly definitional and advanced stuff they made, and it all seemed to end with Howard Stringer’s time at the helm.

(partly also thinking of the story of how Steve Jobs appreciated Sony’s designs, and how that talks about the relationship ending with Stringer’s time as CEO, and how with Apple’s increasingly consumer-neglectful design changes, I don’t have Sony’s designs to fall back on…)

Categories
asides

Predictions from the turn of the 20th century

This page of predictions from 1901 about what the world will look like in 2001 is remarkably prescient in some ways, and highly amusing in others.

Photographs will be telegraphed from any distance. If there is a battle in China a hundred years hence, snapshots of its most striking events will be published in newspapers one hour later.

Store Purchases by tube. Pneumatic tubes, instead of store wagons, will deliver packages & bundles.

Makes you wonder which of the futurists today are getting things right and which they’re getting wildly wrong.

Categories
tech

Douglas Adams lays out the roadmap for technology

I’m an avowed Douglas Adams fan, and this is just pure evidence that he died way, way too soon – written in 1989:

All I want to do is print from my portable. (Poor baby). That isn’t all I want in fact. I want to be able regularly to transfer my address book and diary stacks backwards and forwards between my portable and my IIx. And all my current half-finished chapters. And anything else I’m tinkering with which is the reason why my half-finished chapters are half-finished. In other words I want my portable to appear on the desktop of my IIx. I don’t want to have to do battle with cupboard monsters and then mess about with TOPS every time I want that to happen. I’ll tell you all I want to have to do in order to get my portable to appear on the Desktop of my IIx.

I just want to carry it into the same room.

Bang. There it is. It’s on the Desktop.

And when someone asks why Apple’s “Continuity” feature and seamless “it just works” stuff is exciting when you could do it yourself, this is why.

(The whole piece is brilliant, just the lovely Adams ramble that brings so many wonderful images to the fore and yet is really a rant about Adams not being able to find the right cable for his laptop (back before there were such things as “laptops”))

Categories
asides

Taylor Swift: Master Manipulator

When did you first realise Taylor Swift was lying to you?

Bill Simmons: I knew Taylor Swift was lying to me once she established that she didn’t have a type. Everyone has a type. Everyone. Every single person who ever lived. Maybe you drift away from that type once or twice over eight years, but not consistently. Taylor Swift has dated older guys, MUCH older guys, younger guys, masculine guys, not so masculine guys, damaged guys, innocent guys, rich guys, struggling actors, famous actors, virginal guys, lotharios … there’s just no rhyme or reason to these picks (well, except they’re all white). She picks boyfriends like someone would fill positions on their fantasy team.

Well, colour me naive, but this has been a bit of an eye-opener. Goddammit Tay.

Categories
politics quickie

Did George Lucas predict the current political environment?

A bit more US-centric, but this gives me the shivers:

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, paralyzing political divisions threatened democratic governments. Disputes over free trade, and the free movement of people and goods, were a big reason. Stymied by polarization and endless debates, the Senate proved unable to resolve those disputes.

As a result, nationalist sentiments intensified, leading to movements for separation from centralized institutions. People craved a strong leader who would introduce order — and simultaneously combat growing terrorist threats.

Think we’ve already got Senator Jar Jar Bernadi here in Australia…

 

Categories
politics

Australia’s Political Malaise

With Election 2016 well underway (but still with about 6 weeks to go… yeesh), it’s looking increasingly like we’re going get more of the same. What happened to Australia’s politics that made it so insipid, so unable to hold forth a discussion in which some may be worse off, but the result would be better for the country?

The MacroBusiness blog has a theory on the 8 factors that have contributed to the dire political straits we find ourselves in:

2. Bad economic structure

This is the more important reason behind the centrality of the budget to business and thus the push for rents. Australian spruikers like to sell the economy as “diversified” but this is rubbish. At its base, Australia has only two economic drivers: houses and holes. Mining delivers national income and banking leverages it up to spread the wealth. Everything else follows these two. That means that these two industries have limitless power over policy. Disruption in one equals disruption to the entire nation.

Given the financial crisis in 2008 and now the commodities price crash (which was always going to follow the boom), it’s increasingly inevitable that we’re looking down the barrel of some bad economic outcomes, but no-one in power seems to be acknowledging it.

The talk is small while the problems are writ large. I’m skeptical that any party is going to be in a position to manage it, and that’s going to become rather scary rather fast for us. More on those thoughts later.

Categories
asides

A Blind Mind’s Eye

Blake Ross can’t visualise things like others:

I have never visualized anything in my entire life. I can’t “see” my father’s face or a bouncing blue ball, my childhood bedroom or the run I went on ten minutes ago. I thought “counting sheep” was a metaphor. I’m 30 years old and I never knew a human could do any of this. And it is blowing my goddamned mind.

My first thought was “yeah I’m pretty bad a these things too,” but then I kept reading, and I realised how much I do visualise in my “mind’s eye” that just seems alien to those with this same condition.

Categories
politics

Comparing economic records

May 2016 marks 43 years and 6 months since the election of the Whitlam Labor government in 1972, and conveniently provides a mid-point for the two political parties – 21 years and 9 months of government each. Stephen Koukoulas uses this pivot point to provide a detailed comparison of their respective economic performances, and he comes up with more-or-less a dead heat, with a slight edge to Labor:

The overall weighted average quarterly GDP growth rates since 1972 are 0.80 per cent for the Labor Party and 0.77 per cent for the Liberal Party. This shows that the economy grows faster, on average, under Labor than the Coalition by 0.03 per cent per quarter, which is a touch over 0.1 per cent per annum.

Figures are similarly in Labor’s favor for job growth – noting this also includes the recession we had to have.

Something to keep in mind this election season, and for the budget tomorrow.

Categories
asides tech

iPhone Photography

Beautifully presented comparison of the photographic capabilities of every iPhone to date

Still love the colours/textures from the 3GS there – was a big step up for phone photography all those years ago.