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Always time for laughter

When not working, and currently not writing, I do at least try to make time for laughing, in this case to J0n Stew@rt and The D@ily Sh0w. Were it not for my conscious efforts to steer clear of politics—for the sake of my spleen and blood pressure, not to mention my reader’s—I would feature clips like this more often, although admittedly I might have to change my name to A Sensitivity to Shouting at Things... In something of a classic episode, approaching the highpoints of humour reached consistently several years ago, watch D@ily Sh0w resident expert J0hn Hodgm@n a.k.a.“I’m a P.C.” poke holes big enough to drive a bus load of migrants through in the arguments against immigration, and watch it quickly, before Vi@com and the DMCA conspire to take the clip down (no-one tell them it was me who uploaded it to YouTube ok?). Who said Americans can’t do irony? (I think it was me actually...) Update: Vi@com DMCA'ed me less than 24 hours after posting the clip—hence my“spelling” above and use of the very handy Anarchy Media Player WordPress plugin. Download link

The Good Old Days I try to avoid politics as a rule. Which is not to say that I am apolitical. Or above an interest in the machinations of rule, or even blind to the massive impact that the powerful have upon our world. But I have learnt, through long, wild-eyed ranting and experience, to put my blood pressure ahead of my spleen. Yes, I enjoy a well-meaning, idealistic monologue on the state of world more than the next person, and therefore find it prudent, given my oft-stated predilection for activities promoting inner self interest and abiding calm, to steer clear of their antithesis—the pursuit of selfish interest, power and ideology—the usual players in the prime-time political masquerade. Still, as any student of Advaita Non-Dualism will tell you, every rule admits of an exception, and the following is a particularly brilliant one—a self-depracating, extremely funny video made by President Bill Clinton, or as he was known at the time,“The World’s Most Powerful Man,” during his final days in office in the year 2000. Which really seems like a long time ago now. “Ah, the good old days... (sigh!)”

We Don’t Know How Lucky We Are’s recent musings on Englishness, or eccentricity really—for the two in this particular instance are painted indistinguishable—has led me directly to ponder come celebrate the woolly-brained, cockamamie qualities of my own nation, perhaps not so distant in heart from England—all be we as distant as it is possible geographically. Not so distant in blood either. New Zealand was fifty percent settled by migrants from“Old Blighty,” a key difference of these shaky, Antipodean Isles from colonial Australia, and the origin of our“New Zild” accent, with it’s flattened“i” and resemblance to the dialects of southern England of several hundred years ago. To celebrate New Zealand’s eccentricity, and the British progenitor from which it directly descends, here then is the unofficial anthem of New Zealand, We Don’t Know How Lucky We Are, as sung/performed by comedian and cultural icon John Clarke a.k.a. Fred Dagg, and featuring almost everybody who is anybody in New Zealand, including:
  • one Prime Minister,
  • one leader of a political party,
  • a cricket legend,
  • a New Zealand cricket captain,
  • a rugby legend,
  • an All Black captain,
and actors and artists too numerous and not famous to mention. God Defend New Zealand indeed. (If you spot anybody else in the video, or want to try naming any the above, don’t be shy and leave a comment).

Writing like a girl - Create custom images I guess it must be some kind of pre-historic remnant from an earlier, sexist age—implying that a male does something“like a girl” be necessarily an insult. But merited or not, I’m taking the fact that I officially write like a girl in my stride. Which doesn't mean, to excuse a cliché or three, that I am about to start talking about my feelings, throw a ball sideways, or slip off to the bathroom for a cry... A team of researchers have achieved an 80% accuracy rate with a computer algorithm (The Gender Genie) designed to predict the gender of an author from just a sample of their writing. And after several samples submitted the news for myself was wearing a skirt. The algorithm works best on texts more than 500 words in size, and tallies a score based on a list of gender assigned key words determined by extensive research. Key words? With an exhaustive search of poems and do-it-yourself handyman guides behind them, the researchers led by scientist Moshe Koppel found that women are far more likely than men to use personal pronouns ("I", "you", "she", etc), whereas men prefer words that identify or determine nouns ("a", "the", "that") or that quantify them ("one", "two", "more"). The conclusion reached is that women are more comfortable thinking, and therefore writing about people and relationships, whereas men prefer thinking about impersonal things. Whatever. Give me a millenia-old text on Taoism or Hinduism any day of the week for a satisfying explanation of the mysteries of gender; in my opinion the above truisms come no closer to defining the essence of male or female than the shapeless lab-coat they were written in. So I use "myself," "not," "when," "should," "we," "me," "be" and "where" more than is gender predicated. C’est la vie. I have already admitted that my most favourite topic of all is myself...

I really shouldn’t be trusted

I had breakfast with a friend I hadn't seen for months this morning. Actually a group of friends, for we were joined at break fast's close by several more, a party of two becoming a party of four in a humble Greek diner, Jamaica, Queens, New York. “So Johnno, is this going to go in your blog” asked the new arrival? “Of course not” I intoned, wondering silently how he knew I even have a blog—does this mean my ‘fame’ is spreading? My quicker than an order of home fries rejoinder was lost however with the appearance of a waitress... “I only write about inspiring things!” He didn’t hear me, but it was besides the point. I really shouldn’t be trusted.

Best goal celebration ever!

Craig Bellamy, striker for English Premier League football side Liverpool, is said to be a person who crystallises opinion. In a League where larger than life is a way of life, everybody either loves our hates the diminutive, fiery former goal-scorer for Blackburn. And just to prove my afore-mentioned maxim: after Bellamy's latest on-field exploits, I think I could become a fan. Bellamy has been in the news in recently for allegedly striking fellow team-mate John Arne Riise with a golf club during a training camp in Portugal—perhaps confusing the six-foot red-headed Norwegian for a golf ball. Whatever the truth to the incident (did he shout“fore” first?), I very much admired his gesture in this morning's encounter with Barcelona; after scoring a dramatic, score-tying goal, he turned to the crowd and proceeded to tee-off, striking an imaginary golf-ball to the back of the stand. To do so showed a considerable sense of humour, and no small sense of self-deprecation. One seldom sees celebrities in his position—deservedly or not—deliberately making fun of themselves, and I expect Bellamy disarmed a legion of critics with this single, comic gesture I have some sympathy for the situation famous athletes find themselves in. Not for their astronomical salaries mind you, but their non-existent private lives, the smallest incident seized upon and“beat-up” out of all proportion; they are watched ceaselessly by an army of journalists whose livelihoods depends upon such, whatever the truth. He may have done what he is said to have done, or he may not have; either way it was more than likely a private falling-out between friends, and if they are friends again once more—they both took the field together this morning so it seems likely—what exactly else matters? Because at the end of the day, whose business was it apart from theirs?

Your mind has been transported back in time… and to Mars

After ranting about the lack intelligence, thought or anything else vaguely resembling human consciousness in the comments posted at youtube recently, I have to admit an exception to the rule of my thumb. The following are a selection of comments posted about a cartoon called Adventure Time, and in the absence of an already written soliloquy about childhood as the true state of being, including references to Sri Chinmoy and the poet Wordsworth, their quotes will just have to do. auracom1: Sadly some people need drugs to be imaginative. This is such a sophisticated animation for today's standards. It embodies pure ingenuous imagination, fun to watch, and appeals to varied audience. I don't think this should be on Adult Swim, it's too good for that. blakeyblakes: nick toons meet crack cocaine. WHOA!!! ALGRBRAIC! lollermachine: You don't have to be on drugs to be imaginative. bonza: I've never seen anything more amazing in my life. Nothing will ever, EVER be worthwhile watching compared to this!! X3 FLIMFLAMBOB: That was MATHEMATICAL! Soaprman:“Your mind has been transported back in time... and to Mars.” —best thing on Youtube ever. Rumour has it that Viacom is taking this video down from youtube shortly, so get in quickly to see possibly the most amazing cartoon ever!