Monday, 27 September 2004


Did I comment on The Terminal yet? No, it seems not. I'll be brief: Spielberg has another siesta from good movies with this by-the-numbers, dubiously-premised and placement-rich comedy that culminates in a character-change-ex-machina to end all. Even the presence of Kumar, both actor and character, from the Wes Anderson movies (esp Bottle Rocket, Royal Tenenbaums) can't take the vanilla taste away.

bruit brute

I find increasingly that situation dominates choice of music. Riding the bus is, understandably, no place for Beethoven piano sonatas, nor for Metheny's solo (or duet with Haden) guitar - too much background noise. Usually though, the office is - absence of lyrics is good for concentration, calming influence is valuable.

That is, except for the brute. There's a laptop sitting across from me that makes as much noise idling (it has no concept of sleep) as a small Peugot, and more than my iBook at full BG2 power (I know nothing about game porting, but its slow, demanding and, in lieu of a full install option, accesses the optical drive almost constantly). My colleague never uses it, so it just sits there whining on the login screen, permanently. Ludwig van doesn't stand a chance.


Dammit, I hate Port Adelaide. No, I mean I really hate them, like Carlton-hate them. What I hate more is that I kind of had a feeling that Brisbane were a bit too beat up. At least it'll probably save IRISA and DSTC the bandwidth of me downloading a video of the match.

Spent the weekend cooped up again. Saturday morning I finished off Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and in the evening took a chunk out of Gemmell's appropriately-named "The Legend of Deathwalker", which I subsequently polished off Sunday night. A bigger contrast you might not find.

I enjoyed Fear and Loathing, although it probably never really lived up to the explosive first couple of chapters. The first paragraph alone is epic, and its a big ask to follow it. The Druss book was just pulp fantasy stuff, but enjoyable enough as such.

In the interims, Saturday afternoon and most of Sunday, I played more BG2, making good progress on one game before the save file got corrupted, after which I restarted yet again, for the eleventy-billionth time.

I gotta get myself another pastime.

This morning I wandered past the social security office before work and applied for that card again, this time with all the requisite papers. (On that, apologies for the Tinni-esque - according to Keith - rant on Thursday; perhaps understood only by Jesse, who raised me in the ways of fruit.) Having done that, I'm told it'll probably be more than month before I get the actual card. In the meantime, I'll have to content myself with this week's subsequent escapades from sanity to the department of employment (work permit for tutoring) and prefecture (residency permit, still, again, forever).

Saturday, 25 September 2004

the big one

The Grand final starts in a few hours, and I'm in Rennes. The game is televised into 90 countries, but not France. Even if it was, I have no television, and don't know of any venue that would screen it. I've read pretty much every Lions article there is to read on RealFooty, and have been talking about footy (to heathens) all day. One colleague here knows the team song now.

Please, don't email me or text me scores or any other news until Tuesday. I just don't want to know. It'll be obvious on this blog when I've watched the game, either by vitriol or joy.

Just between you and me, the odds ($1.50 for Brisbane) are mad. This is game is a 50/50 proposition as far as I'm concerned. The Lions are beat-up, aging and finished second, and its only their finals experience that makes them a real go. Of course, I could never bet against Brisbane, nor for Port, so the point is kind of moot.

Friday, 24 September 2004

and thus it was...

Yea!, and bravely was I led into battle rush and chaos, by he my faithful leader Jacques and partner in the imparting of web services unto those who would be apprenticed to we journeymen. Hark though, as did cometh from the shadow the great beast of many heads that didst call himself by French Bureaucracy, and unto us laidst his fiery breath and many-razored claws. And yea though my sword of language cut not deep, but as lead by my fellow we didst resist the dark deep of depression laid upon. Once, twice, thrice did we slice at the many heads, the somber blue and black of social security, the viscious green of enrolments, the lurking ebony of the department of employment, the blood and dripping red of the archangel prefecture, the the fickle and faded grey of ENST human resources, and its somber and rising granite twin within our very walls. And Lo! even as we cut they didst flinch back, and fade, and fall to the blade of our mighty telephone, strengthened as it was by the enchantment of the hands-free mode. And yet still they squirmed the heads and turned and didst regather their strength before our very eyes, and as the sun left us, did we beat our retreat to take of the great bitter black bile of life, as to regather strength to conquer anew the many headed but bloodied beast another day.

Tuesday, 21 September 2004

and another thing, too

Another thing I miss about Australia is Enough Rope. This morning I read the transcript of Denton's interview with Pauline Hanson, and it was hard. By hard, I mean difficult. I mean, I have as much baggage about this woman as most Australians I know, but the Denton interviews really expose parts of their subjects that you can relate to. At the same time, there are a lot that you can't, but these challenging interviews, where you read or hear about someone with whom you fundamentally disagree but where are forced to acknowledge, "OK, I see their point, and its basically a coherent reality, even if its not quite mine", these are difficult but important things.


Another thing making me wish I was back in Australia: Mick has started sending out updates of Simplex-related activities, and it sounds like he's (the updates say "we", but London to a brick its him doing most of the legwork) got some interesting things happening.


So, these are the candidates for my federal parliamentary seat of Ryan in the upcoming election:
I can reduce it to four very quickly. The first is from the religious right. The fourth is from the protectionists, a group I thought had gone quietly into the night in the first half of this century. I can abide neither.

Normally, I'd probably vote Democrat, Green, Labor, Liberal, in that order. However, the Green candidate is, well, very green. In fact, he's still an undergraduate student. Its probably not fair to discriminate on the basis of age, but I can't convince myself that this person could adequately represent the electorate. Doubly vexing, the Democrat candidate is not much older, leaving similar doubts. The labor candidate doesn't fill me with confidence either, but at least she seems to have run some things and been involved in politics a bit. I cannot vote liberal, regardless of the candidate, because of what the current government has done to my country, and because its leader fails in any way to represent what I consider Australian.

Actually, this post is at least partly for my own reference, to consult when I get my postal vote form.

Monday, 20 September 2004


Its amazing just how compelling it can be to watch a fly's continuing inability to learn that even a longer run-up will not aid him in an effort to fly through a closed window.


On Saturday night I went into town and watched a ladies' basketball game, in which a friend from my language course was playing. Since I've been without a TV, I see almost no sport, which is very strange, since it was a big part of my previous life. For the record, Liz's team won, and she played fairly well, including hitting a scoop shot of dubious choosing but high entertainment value near the end, that probably helped to seal the win.


I spent the weekend, all of it, reading Rise of Endymion, thus ending Dan Simmons' excellent Hyperion cantos just after dinner Saturday night, the penultimate instalment having been polished off during my England visit. It was quite a week for media, including one novel, two more DVDs in my Kubrick cycle (2001 and The Shining), an excursion to the cinema for Spielberg's The Terminal, in addition to the usual inordinate blog and web site consumption. To remedy the latter, I'm currently thinking of signing up for a free box, in the hope of shifting some of these peripheral activities from the office to home.

Also, this morning I tracked down the other Australian here to sign my postal vote request, which I'll send off tomorrow morning.


So, a couple of weeks ago now I was in Canterbury for a workshop. The workshop was really good, but better was the chance to meet and chat with other people doing research in the area. On the Thursday morning afternoon after it had finished, I took a half day to walk around "down-town" Canterbury, and to have a browse through the cathedral (seen here through the fog), notable among other things for various famous people who are buried there. The scene from upon the hill before I descended was much more impressive than this photo might inarticulately suggest.


OK, backdate. After that dispiriting shot of Canterbury, I grabbed a train back to London with Antontio from Malaga. Leaving him at Victoria, I wandered up past Buckingham palace, and the waste-of-time Australian war memorial at Nelson's arch, and spent an hour or so in Hyde Park reading until Sandy finished up work.

We grabbed dinner at a Thai place near her house, which was a relief. I hadn't had Thai since at least January, and I'd forgotten how much I like the cuisine until I saw the menu and liked the look of everything there. In fact, this was just one instalment in a veritable culinary world tour over the course of the week. In the 6 nights split between Canterbury and London, I managed to cover Mexican (average), Indian (not bad), Spanish/Moroccan (not bad), Thai (very good), Italian (not bad), and Thai again (pretty good).

On Friday, I covered a large part of the Science Museum and a small part of the Natural History Museum on Friday before heading out to Sandy's boyfriend's place at Teddington. Then, on Saturday, I headed back into town and spent the day with Ted and Meg at the Tate Modern and the Globe Theatre, each interesting in their own way, the former more than the latter probably.

My writing is deteriorating. I just know it is.

Friday, 17 September 2004


This was the view I was greeted with yesterday morning opening my window. It was ten past eight in the morning, a testament to the changing length of the days here - a month ago it would have had to have been ten past seven, probably. (I wouldn't know - half seven is about my limit).

Wednesday, 15 September 2004


I could be bothered posting this.

Post flood

After at least a week off, beware post inundation. Brain dump follows.

I saw Fahrenheit 911 just before I went to the UK last week. I really enjoyed Bowling for Columbine because I thought it asked a hard question and avoided the obvious and oversimplified answers. I think for this new film, though, Moore started with an obvious and oversimplified answer and tried to find a question. There are large chunks of the film that are really, really good, and it certainly pushes a lot of my buttons, but it is, to use one of my favourite movie phrases, nonetheless a deeply-flawed film.

In other news, when I came to France I set myself to avoid accumulating material possessions, partly to avoid a removals nightmare when (it remains "when") I move back to Australia, and also to taste a different type of life. My will is fading, and a bulk Amazon UK order is imminent to redress comedy (Black Books, Shaun of the Dead) and other (Six Feet Under, etc) DVD-related withdrawal symptoms. The staff club here has a lot of films, but not much new stuff, and very little "cult" stuff.

Lessig on electoral systems

Lessig (obligatory reading for anyone interested in legal/technology crossover) talks about a "ranked choice" voting system. Larry, in Australia we call it preferential voting, and everyone who I talk to about it loves it to death. Of course, we also make voting mandatory, and everyone whose opinion I respect loves that, too. You can still put in a donkey vote, but you have to actually do so, thus proving that even your non-vote is a conscious choice.

As a side note, I'm looking forward to spending a few hours later this month filling out my postal vote for the Australian federal election. Not having to do it under pressure of being in a booth will let me do my research and enjoy it a little more. I could just vote above the line ("optional preferential voting"), but like any technologist I enjoy the higher degree of control.

The Village

I saw The Village a couple of weeks ago with Jacques and Sophie. Suffice to say that I don't share Ebert's opinion (not that that means there's anything wrong with him or me). From a story perspective, I hate to admit that I actually did see the twist coming. However, for me the film was in any case more interesting from a visual perspective, where it had a sort of Blair Witch / Red Riding Hood juxtaposition of dull backgrounds and occasional brighter foregrounds for emphasis. From this perspective, I kind of liked it.

Saturday, 4 September 2004

CORBA reflection

Let's get this straight right now. I love reflection. It lets you do the most ugly, evil, interesting things, and without it, metaprogramming just doesn't work properly. Anyway, it looks like they might finally get around to adding reflection to CORBA (even though I've ceased using it recently), which is a good thing. I'll have to read the doc to see if they'll add any support for reflective application (calling operations, etc) in addition to introspection.

Incidentally, in speaking with Ian on Monday, it seems that he (and particularly Paul) don't believe in reflection. However, I really think this comes down to appropriate definitions of reflection.

Wednesday, 1 September 2004

no, i believe you, really!

A sure sign of the high regard in which politicians are currently held in Australia is this article from ABC. If a politician just says something, obviously no-one is going to believe it (yes, Johnny, I'm looking at you too), so this mob have taken to getting it all down as statutory declarations, presumably in the hope that might add some weight to their otherwise ascendant word.