Hear Ye! Since 1998.

Archived Posts for November 2003

Please note: The posts on this page are at least 3 years old. Links may be broken, information may be out of date, and the views expressed in the posts may no longer be held.
27
Nov 03
Thu

Holidays!

And with today’s exam over, another academic year is all over and three glorious months of holidays await. What’s ahead…

Not completely out of the woods… I have to mark a bunch of uni exams for an IS course by next Monday. Paintball on Saturday – a little violence always helps to reduce stress. A few dinners scattered around here and there. I have a short spate of work at Mac Bank starting tomorrow and running through to the 9th of December. Should be a nice injection of cash before I head overseas on the 10th. The itinerary is:

– 10/12/03: Sydney to Singapore
– 11/12/03: Singapore to Kuala Lumpur
– 19/12/03: Kuala Lumpur to Singapore
– 22/12/03: Singapore to Bangkok and Hat Yai
– 29/12/03: Bangkok to Singapore
– 6/1/04: Singapore to Sydney

Getting taken around KL by my hospitable flatmate who has asserted that the gastronomic tour he’ll take me on will be guaranteed to give me the runs. Which is really very unsavoury given the state of public toilets in Asia. Hopefully should catch the Return of the King in Malaysia on the 18th. The dollar has rallied nicely over the year, so much so that everything in Singapore is effectively 20% off. The Ringgit to Aussie dollar exchange rate is roughly 2.7 to 1. Shopping time! Time to put back on all that weight I lost by eating too many instant noodles over the exam period. Mmmm hawker food…

If you’re a long-term reader of this site, you’ll notice I’ve been to Thailand twice in the last couple years. The reason why we’re going for a third year running is that it’s my grandfather’s 80th birthday. He seems to have some bizarre and objectionable fascination with Bangkok (I’d rather not dwell too deeply on the reason why) which is why the family is “humouring him” and going there AGAIN this year. Ah well, the upside are those damn nice Thai massages…

Before I head off, I hope to implement MMS/PXT posting to this website. Just need to write a MIME parser and something to handle image linking. When I get back, it’s time to give this site a much needed overhaul, both front and back.

  7:38pm (GMT +11.00)  •  Life  •  Tweet This  •  Comments (10)  • 
26
Nov 03
Wed

Swift Justice

The judicial system moves fast in China. Despite the irony of being offed by the hitman you hired to kill/maim your husband’s mistress, what’s really scary is that the hitman was given the death sentence last Friday, and was executed yesterday. You can be sure that John Muhammad is going to spend more than 4 days on deathrow.

  8:04pm (GMT +11.00)  •  Law  •  Tweet This  •  Comments (1)  • 
24
Nov 03
Mon

Spam Alert

I am now getting so much spam in my mailbox that it’s getting hard to separate out legitimate mail from it. I’m sure I’ve inadvertently deleted some legit mails from people I don’t know (and perhaps even people I do) due to a trigger happy delete finger. I don’t use spam filters because they tend to produce false negatives. (It helps if you provide a decent subject title and type using capital letters where they belong.) Surely I can’t be the only one experiencing this problem?

23
Nov 03
Sun

MJ

Michael Jackson, King of Pop and alleged child molester, may be about to have another horrible year ahead, but the moonwalk is still cool. Here are some instructions on how to replicate it. Sounds like you’d have to wear out several pairs of socks before you can perfect it haha.

Night Panoramas of Japan

Absolutely spectacular site showing scrolling Panoramas of Japan. The main map is here, just blindly click and you’ll get the photo for that location. This pic is extraordinary, just the sheer amount of lights.

Angora Rabbits

I’m sure they’re prizewinners and all, but they still look absurd.

21
Nov 03
Fri

Go Wallabies!

Steamroll those lets-turn-Rugby-into-a-game-of-Soccer ponces.

Update: Bugger.

SeaQuest DSV Star Dead

Jonathan Brandis is reported dead at 27. Quite shocking actually.

Savantism

Another great Wired article. This one’s on autism and prodigious savants. Interesting observations on the link between music and maths, and between tonal languages and perfect pitch (what they call “absolute pitch”). A friend back in high school had perfect pitch – he also got his piano LMus in Year 11 or so. We’d hum notes to him and he’d immediately tell us what note we were humming. He was also an incredible thespian and debater who could come up with intricately structured speeches at the drop of a hat without ever needing palm cards or notes of any kind. There was one occasion, I am told, where, during a play, he had finished reciting a few lines that were in verse/rhyme. There was a mishap backstage, which resulted in a delay in the next actor appearing… so to stall for time and without skipping a beat, he ad libbed a few more lines in verse so much so that the audience didn’t realise that he was actually improvising. Scary stuff. How much normality would you trade for a “dash” of autism?

20
Nov 03
Thu

Yabby Update

We’re not having much luck with freshwater crabs. The one Dave got for his 21st a few months back died suddenly the other day. It had the entire tank to itself, so the cause is unknown. Meanwhile, the mother yabby moulted while her babies were still hanging on to the underside of her tail. Yabbies eat their old shell to regain some calcium, so the babies were chomped up too. By the time we realised the moult had happened, the father had already dragged the tail shell back into the log to munch on. Oh well, apparently they breed several times during Spring/Summer, so there may be more on the way. And we now have a vacant tank to relocate any new babies.

Aquatic Critters

Fact of the day: Sea cucumbers can defend themselves by a process called auto-evisceration. It’s exactly what it sounds like. They eject most of their internal organs through their asshole in order to distract their predator. They can still “eat” by absorbing nutrients through their skin. Incidentally, they are used in Chinese cooking (hmm, a self-gutting animal, that would make the cook’s job easier) although I never found them tasty. They have the consistency of a slug.

17
Nov 03
Mon

Rugby Forecast

Some financial analysts with a bit of spare time on their hands place the Aussies ahead of the Poms on the weekend: PDF (50Kb). Some bias may be present in assigning factor weightings.

16
Nov 03
Sun

Upbringings

I normally find Miranda Devine’s articles contentious, but I do believe she has a valid point in this article: Church and family can save kids.

I’m sure the cynics and naysayers will find flaws in the causal links espoused in the article, but as a generalisation, I think it is quite sound. When moral norms in society fluctuate, what does a child growing up have to grasp upon? Genetics only go so far in moulding people – it is mainly the societal environment that shapes how people think and feel about things in life. What’s “cool” and what’s not.

“Family and spiritual values” sounds like prudish, staid and boring conservatism. Definitely not cool. But as with everything in life, there has to be a balance. And that also means balancing conservatism with the highly iconoclastic tendencies which have accumulated in society over the years, masquerading under the banners of “experimentation” and “question everything with a healthy dose of cynicism”. What do you think?

The response of the babyboomer Left to this epidemic of youth misery has been to blame government and economic rationalism.

You will hear them moaning about the boring 1950s, when they grew up in a war-weary society that valued order, civility, domesticity and tranquillity. You will hear them fondly reminisce about the 1960s sexual revolution, their Kombi vans, their often-still-active ponytails.

Never will you hear them accept responsibility for trashing precious social institutions, destroying taboos, devaluing motherhood or squandering the moral capital built up by their forebears. Now, when their children and grandchildren are suffering the consequences, they see higher taxes as the cure. They seem not to listen even when scientific evidence emerges like a slap in the face to say childhood suffering is caused by a lack of spiritual meaning, an absence of expectations and limits and a breakdown in authority structures.

15
Nov 03
Sat

Photologs

For a little diversion… some good photologs: Quarlo, Will Simpson, Teofil, Couloir.

RWC Semis

Aus vs NZ: Electric!!!

Update (10pm): GO THE WALLABIES!!!!! Final score: 22-10.

  8:18pm (GMT +11.00)  •  Sports  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 
14
Nov 03
Fri

Studying at Home

Time for a time-out with my journal. It’s late again, and I’ve just finished covering the wonders of judicial review of administrative decisions. Tomorrow I have to cover natural justice (aka procedural fairness, due process, what Hicks is getting none of because he’s outside the boundaries of the Rule of Law), prerogative writs and equitable remedies. But I’m sure you’re as interested in hearing about that as I am in reading about it. So, moving on, I found this amusing {src: Swhat}. Anyhoo… this is what I really wanted to say:

Stop deluding yourself, you’re not going to the library to study.

I have never found the concept of going to the library to study attractive. It takes time to get there and you have to lug all your stuff around with you. It’s not like you actually use any of the thousands of books that are around you. The chairs are hard and uncomfortable, you’re not allowed food or drinks, and the air is stale.

So, the rationale is that there’s no distractions like at home (“Hmmm I wonder if Fark updated”, or, “Hmmm a second Paris Hilton video where she’s allegedly in a threesome is floating around on the net”, or even, “Gee these bookshelves really need to be dusted!”). But let’s face it, you’ve everything you need at home. Food, drinks, a comfy chair, all your books, notes, paper and a computer. Maybe the computer is the bane – the ultimate procrastination device, the time-acceleration machine – but typing up notes is a helluva lot faster than writing them. The library doesn’t have computers. Well, it does, but they all have high speed internet connections so that doesn’t do jack for getting away from distractions. Bring a laptop? That’s assuming I could afford one, and anyway with the uniwide wireless network, you can’t escape a net connection these days. And there are people around in the library. You’ll bump into friends, then you’ll end up chatting, then realise you’re getting absolutely no work done, and end up going downstairs for a coffee that lasts three hours. When you’re at home, you’re a Nigel, true. But studying, albeit appearing more enjoyable, is not terribly effective when it’s a social event.

Idiotic leader / Deranged teddy bear
(With apologies to Paste)

All this is logically, probative evidence that it’s better to just stay at home. Besides, your bed is much more comfortable than the graffitied library desk in front of you.

Asylum Seekers in the High Court

“There’s this urgent human need to have food every so many hours.” -Justice Kirby

Read what happens when the judges start attacking each other instead of the barristers before them. I see it now, written in the judgment: Kirby J (dissent).

  7:54pm (GMT +11.00)  •  Law  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 
13
Nov 03
Thu

Go Wallabies!

Hmm, Vodafone’s carrier signal has switched from “VODAFONE” to “Go Wallabies”. Did they run the World Cup final rounds to clash with exams on purpose?!

Backbench Issue 4

Issue 4 of The Backbench is now out. We’ve got a bit about ethics and investing, Italians and what they show on TV, Hicks and Habib and of course Australia and Iraq.

10
Nov 03
Mon

GeoURL

Hear Ye! is finally
GeoURLed
.

(Isn’t it funny how these “to do” things happen to get done during exam stuvac week?)

Warcraft II Preservation Site

I got a nice surprise when Friel from the old and venerable OzWL league and Kali days dropped me an e-mail to tell me about his Warcraft II preservation page. Ahhh, brings back so many good memories of clan wars and all. Up the mighty Deathwind Clan!

Friendster Photos

Guide to interpreting Friendster photos. Funny. I have some disparaging comments about Friendster (or at least, how some people appear to use it), but I’ll leave such rantage for another time.

The Three Stages of Consciousness

Too much work to get through. Oh well, there’s always time to make a post. Back in high school, I used to have a Sunday-morning tutor who would outrageously doze off while writing, mid-sentence. He’d be writing a word, then suddenly the pen would stop momentarily, then start sliding off in one direction, leaving a line across the page – which in many cases began looking like graph paper. Apart from the awkwardness of not knowing how to snap him out of his stupor, I could never fathom how someone could drop off while writing. Not until I got to uni, that is. I now present to you empirical evidence of my varying states of consciousness in the form of class notes:

Torts | State of Mind: Awake
Subject: Torts. State of consciousness: Awake.
The handwriting is legible, the notes are fairly detailed.

Crim Law | State of Mind: Tired
Subject: Criminal Law. State of consciousness: Quite Fatigued.
Lines not straight. Writing trickles to a scrawl at end of line. Barely legible.

Admin Law | State of Mind: Asleep
Subject: Adminstrative Law. State of consciousness: Dropping in and out of REM cycles.
Struggling to complete words. Blotches where fallen asleep. Attempts to correct illegible words upon awakening (eg, “consequences”). Notes non-sensical.

And there we have it. Time for bed.

9
Nov 03
Sun

Nice Clock

Now this would make an awesome timepiece to hang on the wall. Too bad about the price.

While we’re on the topic, the same company has a program called World Watch which simulates the expensive wallclock on the computer. I also know of Geoclock, but that still is a 16-bit program. Does anyone know of any other clock programs that show a map of the world and what parts of the world are in darkness? If it can be used as a screensaver as well, all the better. (Drop URLs in the comments.)

Chicane

Just a word of warning. There’s a restaurant called Chicane just off Oxford Street. It was having a special deal – buy an entree dish and dessert and get a main for $4, so I went to dinner with Kev and Cath earlier in the week to check it out. Even though the meal was about $40 with the deal, even that was bad value. Food’s not terrific, service was inordinately slow, waiters looked like they really wished they were somewhere else, they got our order wrong, failed to refill bread and water, overly dim lighting… unsatisfying.

  11:11pm (GMT +11.00)  •  Food  •  Tweet This  •  Comments (4)  • 
7
Nov 03
Fri

Law School Website Facelift

UNSW Law School’s website has finally received a much needed facelift. I think LawSoc’s site will need a complete overhaul for next year.

  10:24pm (GMT +11.00)  •  Law  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 

Failure of the System?

The Queensland Court of Appeal allowed Hanson and Ettridge’s appeals, and their convictions were quashed. Newspapers report that Hanson is proclaiming that “the system failed her”. Yet, by mere virtue of the fact that, through the appeals process, she was exonerated implies that the system ultimately has not.

Mr Ettridge said there was no jury in Queensland that would not have been prejudiced against them because of all the publicity they had received in the lead-up to the trial.

“It’s an attack on the democratic process and the rights of Australians,” he told Radio 4BC in Brisbane.

“In the same way that Lindy Chamberlain was judged by the public and the media before she ever got to a court, we were.”

Mr Ettridge said he wanted compensation for the time he and Ms Hanson spent in prison and for the disruption to their lives over the past two years.

“I’d like to see some compensation, but the Queensland government has protected themselves against recourse and of course they can do these things and you can’t sue them for it,” he said.

Some things to note about his inferences of trial by media. Firstly, he complains to the media about how the media prejudiced the jury against them. Secondly, he complains about how the Queensland government has protected themselves which allows them to “do these things”. What things? Hanson and himself were convicted by jury – the government had nothing to do with it. Something is gravely amiss with his conception of the separation of powers doctrine when he criticises the government. The main problem is the time he spent in jail, which was, it turned out to be, wrongful incarceration (but not illegal)… it is definitely regrettable, however, the criminal system has never purported to be perfect. Ettridge also said something that I thought was quite noteworthy:

Journalist: How would you some up your last eleven weeks in jail?

Ettridge: It’s been an interesting experience. I think I’m enriched as a result of having been in prison. I’ve seen another part of life that people talk about, but never experience. People who now want to give opinions on putting people in prison and how severe their sentences must be, have no idea of the effect that it has on a prisoner, their family , their friends, their assets their whole life. I’ve met people in here who are doing fourteen years, twenty years, fifteen years, it is incomprehensible to think what effect that has on a person.

An astute observation.

  7:24pm (GMT +11.00)  •  Law  •  Tweet This  •  Comments (3)  • 
5
Nov 03
Wed

When Justice Sleeps

Hahahaha!

A Toronto judge fell asleep in the middle of a criminal trial but woke up when a defence lawyer dropped a 2,136-page copy of the Criminal Code on the desk in front of him, a court was told yesterday. …

Unsure it was really happening, Schofield said she turned to check with her assistant, Cyndi Burns, who “agreed that it appeared His Honour had fallen asleep.”

Crown Attorney Jennifer Strasberg confirmed it as well, said Schofield, who, along with her colleague, came up with a plan.

“We decided that I would drop a copy of Tremeear’s Criminal Code … in order to wake His Honour,” she said in her affidavit. “I dropped the Code and His Honour was visibly stirred from his slumber.”

Not wanting to make an issue of it in front of the judge, Schofield said she and Strasberg carried on as if nothing had happened.

“I was not sure of what to do,” she said.

The judge’s conviction was overturned on appeal. Read article.

Short Skirts at Westfield

Oh for goodness sake…

A woman is suing shopping centre giant Westfield for defamation and wrongful imprisonment, claiming security guards detained and harassed her about her mini-skirt. …

Mrs Strasberg alleges Ms Remoundos told her: “There have been complaints made against you. You are dressed in a provocative manner. You are dressed inappropriately. It is offensive. Your skirt is too short.”

Mrs Strasberg alleges those words were defamatory and Ms Remoundos spoke to her in an aggressive manner, standing with her fists clenched on her hips.

Read Article (with photo).

Matrix: Revolutions

Caught the midnight session. Needs a rewatch. I need some time to think. Special effects were fantastic. Plot was disappointing, although I’m too tired to think fully about it now. More later.

4
Nov 03
Tue

Valance’s Case

In case you missed it, here’s the 249 paragraph judgment of the Holly Valance case: Biscayne Partners Pty Ltd v Valance Corp Pty Ltd & Ors.

  11:59pm (GMT +11.00)  •  Law  •  Tweet This  •  Comments (1)  • 
3
Nov 03
Mon

Bluejacking and Stealth Disco

Do you have a bluetooth enabled mobile? Are there bluetooth enabled devices inadvertently (or otherwise) set in “discoverable” mode? Send it a contact named “Nice shoes!” and watch its recipient look bewildered. This new practice has been termed Bluejacking, although I think that Bluepranking would be more apt. It’s things like this that give people like me endless entertainment. {src: Cacheop, which also links the classic Stealth Disco}

Exams-a-Coming

That means there about 2400 pages of readings we’re meant to revise. Hah. This is Week 14, next week is Stuvac, and then the week after that, the real pain starts. I am sooooo gone for Admin Law, the subject from hell. Is there anything more scintillating than the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 (Cth)? Oh no, I don’t think so. Time to get back to it.

Otto

Otto’s is in Woolloomooloo, on the wharf, near the famous Harry’s Cafe de Wheels. (Harry’s is probably famous more for the fact that it’s open late at night rather than having excellent meat pies – I find them rather ordinary.)

It’s an Italian restaurant (it claims to serve “modern Italian” cuisine, whatever that means) with outdoor seating faced towards a vista of the CBD skyline. Unfortunately, Sydney’s weather blew hot and cold yesterday, and the evening happened to be particularly cold. Even those big outdoor lamp heaters couldn’t completely ward off the wind and drizzle.

The food was pretty good, and the servings on the generous side for these types of joints. Seems like a reliable enough place to say that nothing on the menu will be a disappointment. I had a blue cod capaccio and a Wagyu steak. The steak weighed in at about 250g, which is the largest portion I’ve had of that type of beef. Wasn’t the best cut I’ve had – the fat was not really marbled in with the flesh, but separated out. With that high fat and oil content, it’s incredibly filling. So much so that dessert was out of the question!

Woolloomooloo Wharf, near Otto's
Woolloomooloo Wharf. Those are apartments on the left.

Otto’s is great for a nice meal out, especially as the weather warms up in Summer and the sea breezes are refreshing, rather than chilling. The only thing I have to complain about is the lighting. Once darkness falls, you really can’t see what you’re eating, and that solitary candle on the table really doesn’t cut it.

Spare Idea: Linked Follow-up Posts

Referring to posts made in the past is easy. What about the possibility of referring to posts in the future?

Often we’ll come across a bit of media news, such as the announcement of Google’s intentions to IPO. Obviously, such news doesn’t end there and its followed up, for example, with news of Microsoft’s rejected offer to “merge” with (ie, acquire) Google. However, in some cases, follow-ups happen months down the track.

Now, applying this to regular blog posts, sometimes people post about things that are in-progress. Visitors sometimes surf in, read a post, such as “I applied for Youth Allowance today”, and are interested in the outcome. Not being a daily visitor, they arrive back a month or two later, wondering if the application succeeded. Instead of having to trawl through a whole bunch of posts, wouldn’t it be good to be able to go back to an old post, and be able to find follow-ups from there?

Or if someone’s surfing through archives (maybe they arrived at the archive page through a search engine), and they want to find a follow-up post, it’d be good to be able to easily do that.

Now obviously, everything you make a follow-up post, you could go back to your old post and insert a link to the follow-up, but that’s a hassle. Here’s a solution. Perhaps someone would like to implement it in their CMS… I don’t have the time.

When writing a post that you know you will follow up in future, you flag it for follow up. So perhaps next to the post footer, which may read “Link | Comments (4)”, you add a little note, such as “Link | Comments (4) | To be followed up in future”. The last bit is a link to email the website’s owner to remind them to follow up the post if they’ve forgotten about it.

All the posts which are flagged are added to a combo box on the page where someone writes a new post (in this way it’s hard to forget posts which you were going to follow up, because the list is there everytime you make a new post). When you make a new post, you can select if it is a follow-up, and link it to the appropriate post via the combo box.

For the new post, the footer would be “Link | Comment (1) | Continuation from post #70″. The old post’s footer would be renamed to “Link | Comments (4) | Followed up in post #120″. You could also mark the new post for follow-up, and in this way you could daisy chain a series of ongoing posts.

Technically speaking, all you’d really need to do is add three extra fields to the table where posts are stored: followup (boolean), before, after. Before and after would be links to the relevant post IDs. Followup would, of course, be the flag that a post needs to be followed up. Add a bit of code and that’s it.



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