MonthJuly 2005

Satellites are IN SPACE which is AWESOME, so there’s THAT I guess

Right. Flew down to Dunedin on tuesday, for a meeting with a possible customer. Did my standard “satellite based data networks have the following advantages over ground-based” speech, and carefully didn’t give the “and here’s the much larger list of why it’s much much worse.” speech. In many ways, I am sorry that ICONZ is moving towards more and more satellite stuff these days. I thought I was rid of it when I left IHUG. Anyway, yeah, Dunedin. Flew down at some unholy hour which meant getting up at 0445 hours. Got back at around 1800 or 1900 or so.

Wednesday, worked all day, then kept working until 0100 thursday in order to get as many jobs done as possible before going on leave. Came home, slept.

Thursday, went to work, went over the instructions that I had written at 0100 for the new engineering guy. They were incomprehensible even to me, and I wrote them. Never write anything after working for 16 hours, that’s my new motto. Then flew to Wellington for a mostly pointless meeting with a customer who primarily wants a product that we don’t actually offer. Then the damn airport is fogged in and we get bounced around flights until one actually manages to take off. Home at like, 10.00pm or so.

I am a goddamn jet-setter. Except it’s work travel, so it pretty much sucks after the novelty has worn off. (This takes place at around the second work-related trip.) The only cool thing is that travelling without baggage is EXCELLENT. I checked nothing in for both of my trips this week, and my total carry-on baggage consisted of an iPod.

Work. Work. Work. Someone give me a bunch of money, plskthx. I am sick of this work stuff. Course, I’m really not sick of the pay, and that’s the key to it all.

I am now officially on leave. My cellphone seems to have SOMEHOW totally switched itself off. Shame, that.

Tomorrow, I’m looking at a new apartment with Annette at 1300, then there’s a work mid-winter party at 1930 hours which I really ought to at least stick my head in the door of.

From Saturday on, however, I plan to indulge in levels of indolence that make the baby Jesus cry.

Showzen

I just watched several episodes of a TV show called Wonder Showzen. I don’t think this isn’t actually screening in NZ yet, on any of the standard or sky channels. It’s on MTV2 in the US, and I don’t think we get that. I haven’t watched non-C4/Juice broadcast television in literally months, so I wouldn’t really know. ANYWAY, if you want to see it, you’ll need the awesome power of BitTorrent. Remember, with this great power comes great responsibility, and that the MPAA and the RIAA are a cowardly, superstitious lot.

In the same way that “Look Around You” is a comedy show that makes with the funny by using the conventions of (depending on season) 1970s educational films, or of 1980s science shows, Wonder Showzen plays with the tropes and stylistic cues of “The Electric Company” and “Sesame Street” and sundry other educational shows featuring puppets and small children. Only Wonder Showzen is puppets and small children and utterly irreverent absurd black comedy. Watching the foam puppet letter “N” spiral into a pit of self-loathing, despair and debasement at the hands of a sleazy letter “S” (including an extended multiple position sex scene) is a highlight of my week, so far.

And what post-modern comedy show would be missing a smidge of self-reference? Not Wonder Showzen, that’s for sure! In one show there’s a song about celebrating diversity which is quite offensive, mentioning “Ching-Chong Chinamen” and “OogaBooga African Tribesmen” and then directly after is a very small child (maybe 5 or 6) who says “Ohhh, I get it .. your racism is ironic!”

HAW!

This sort of stuff is the style of comedy that hits me 100% square on – Wonder Showzen makes me laugh out loud even more frequently than Look Around You did.

Highly Recommend. I shall be purchasing this on DVD as soon as it’s out.

Warp Speed

James Doohan died yesterday, aged 85.

People sometimes ask me why I got into networks and engineering and general geekery, and I tell them that my brain seems to be hard-coded to enjoy this kind of tech stuff. But if I had to point at some cultural markers that encouraged me, the original series of “Star Trek”, and specifically the character of “Scotty” thereon, would be very high on my list.

I mean, the guy got to work the engines, and provide warp speed whenever it was needed TO SAVE THE DAY. And he could drink a klingon under the table! He worked hard, he played hard! And he had more-or-less the same accent as my parents! Rock!

Once, when quite young, I read a comment by James Doohan about how they’d made the character from Scotland because of Scotlands long history of producing excellent engineers. It was that which made me do some private research on the topic, only to find that the Scots produced inventions like television, fiber-optics, the combine harvester, the adhesive postage stamp, the vacuum flask, tubular steel construction, the breech-loading rifle and before that, the percussion cap. Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone, was born in Edinburgh. Scots also invented “Lost Wax” metal casting, the reflecting telescope, tarmacadam, the bicycle, the “Macintosh” raincoat, coal-gas lighting, the blast-oven, the iron plough, vulcanised rubber, RADAR and oil refining. Amongst, like, a bunch of other stuff.

As Billy Connolly would say .. “Not a bad CV”.

I might never have even KNOWN this stuff, if not for the work and craft of James Doohan. Decades later, people still know precisely who you mean when you say “The engines willnae take much more of this!”.

I never met the guy, and never will now, but in the personal interviews that I’ve seen, he comes across as a geniune and caring person who’s prepared to help people however he can, and a skilled and memorable actor.

I’m sad that he’s gone. If for no other reason than I’ll never see a Star Trek movie where Scotty kicks Kirks ass from one end of the ship to the other.

Gimme Them Socks

The crippling reach of methamphetamine abuse has become the [United States] leading drug problem affecting local law enforcement agencies, according to a survey of 500 sheriff’s departments in 45 states.

The report comes soon after the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy restated its stance that marijuana remains the nation’s most substantial drug problem. Federal estimates show there are 15 million marijuana users compared to the 1 million that might use meth.

Dave Murray, a policy analyst for the White House, said he understood that the meth problem moving through the nation was serious and substantial. But he disagreed that it had reached the state of an epidemic.

“This thing is burning, and because it’s burning, we’re going to put it out,” he said. “But we can’t turn our back on other threats.”

This appears to match the policy of the New Zealand government. Thank you for protecting us from the terrifying threat of marijuana! We’re so grateful! When the hell is it going to be decriminalised? Does ANYONE give a shit about marijuana any more?

The reason that these law enforcement people responding like this in their survey is the when someone you know is out of marijuana, the result is them sitting around saying things like “Sorry man! I am totally out of weed.” and then you say “For reals?” and they’re all like “It’s true, Amigo.” and you’re like “Bummer.”

But when a P-head is out of meth, HE WILL FUCKING KILL YOU AND STEAL YOUR SOCKS AND PAWN THEM FOR P MONEY! FUCK!

Surely one of these is slightly more important than the other. I’m still not sure why weed is bad, but booze is a-ok.

Well Pimped, Yeah?

Annette and I watched S01E01 of “Pimp my Ride UK” over the weekend. This is a port of the PMR show from the US to the UK, obviously, and is screening on MTV UK.

Jesus. We laughed a lot.

We laughed a little bit at the workers in the custom shop, who have extrmely britpop haircuts (Artfully shaggy. No visible ears. Spending 30mins in the morning making it look like you’re the kind of cheeky lad who spends no time on his hair) but mostly, we laughed at Tim Westwood, the UK answer to Xzibit. Tim is a popular UK hiphop DJ. He’s white. Very white. But he seems pretty sure that deep down, he’s black. He’s quite funny, but if you’re going to go down this semi-parody road, you may as well go all the way and actually hire Sacha Baron Cohen to bring Ali-G to host the show. That would have been brilliant.

[Edit: Just to make it clear, we were not laughing along with Mr Westwood. We were very very definitely laughing at him, and his overwhelming wiggerosity. I’m just sayin’, is all.]

Them Boots

A celebrity girlfriend was among British and Irish Lions players’ families and partners refused entry to the official after-test-match function.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,3333615a10,00.html

“The girlfriends looked beautiful, they were wearing Lions jerseys and jackets with jeans and Ugg boots…

Insert Tui Ad here.

It was embarrassing,” Mrs Doyle said, adding Gilson had done well not to lose her cool.

It surely was. But not, I suspect, in the way Mrs Doyle thinks.