Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Bringing the Game into Disrepute

Who really is bringing the game (AFL) into disrepute? Brisbane, by being the greatest team of the past decade or two, winning three premierships in a row, and commiting a few administrative errors like handing some paperwork in one working day late, then getting fined a huge $260,000, or $10,000 per administritive crime/oversight?

Brisbane, by choosing their own sponsor, Pepsi, rather than the AFL sponsor the AFL would like them to support, Coke, risking huge fines, accusations of bringing the game into disrepute, and threats of being docked premiership points? Would Geelong take a similar stance over Toyota vs. Ford ground advertising in Geelong, where Ford is such a huge part of the city's economy and the club's culture and (presumably) finances, if they had the contractual power to do so?

The $260,000 fines are supposed to be totally unrelated to the fiery sponsorship showdown. Do we believe this?

Here's some quotes on the Brisbane-AFL dispute and fines from Brisbane's coach, Lethal Leigh Matthews, who tends to tell it as he sees it:

"Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely"

"It's a bit like being transported for stealing a loaf of bread"

Here's a humerous article that deals with this issue:

Dancing with Lions while skirting real issues

and some quotes:

"An outraged Demetriou [AFL chief] has discovered Bowers [Brisbane CEO] once picked the phone up in his left hand - $10,000. He placed his pen back on the desk without replacing the cap - $10,000. After re-entering the office, Bowers forgot to bless himself when kneeling in front of a mural of AFL chairman Ron Evans. That's a biggie - $20,000. "

"Whatever Demetriou misses, AFL general manager, football operations, Adrian Anderson, has under control. ...
He has logged one fine. During a recent board meeting one Lions director burped after sipping a particularly frisky can of Pepsi. Make that another $10,000."

Monday, April 19, 2004

Greens are Extremists

From Howard courts Victorian voters :

Mr Howard said the Greens were extremists and "out of touch with mainstream suburban opinion".

The best way to maintain a balance was to "fight the extremes,"

I know a lot of people who voted Green at the last election. I don't consider them extremists. I find this offensive.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Top 100 boks (sort of)

A list of 100 books
(I got this from ZucchiniBikini who got it from Chickafinty).

I think I'm supposed to start with a top 5 books on this list, but as there's nothing really on this list that I read and liked that everybody else wont have read and liked, instead you can have my idiosyncratic, top of my head, top 5 books I've read recently list instead (3 of my books are non-fiction, but as I'm cheating anyway...):

  1. Babel-17, by Samuel Delany. Inspiration for the Ruby Programming Language, a fascinating science fiction novel exploring the influence, and especially the potential influence, of the language we use on the way we think and act.
  2. The Selfish Gene, by Richard Dawkins. Loved this as a kid, especially after I heard Richard Dawkins give a talk in Melbourne where he described religion as a virus of the mind. Only read it cover to cover recently, although it has influenced my opinions since my first forays into it way back then. This book is a virus of the mind, that is highly infectious if you let your brain anywhere near it ;-)
  3. Micromotives and Macrobehavior, by Thomas Schelling. Thomas Schelling is my favourite Game Theorist/Social Scientist/Economist. Everything he writes is incredibly clear and to the point, so that you cannot help but be enlightened by it (In my opinion, of course). Was writing about Tipping Points, in this book, only about
    20 years before Malcolm Gladwell rose to fame with his "new idea" book The Tipping Point. Describes a very interesting critical mass model of the "dying seminar" which I think is relevant to all sorts of recurring group activities that people try to organise, including Meetups, such as my Latham For PM. I've given a little talk to people at uni on this "dying seminar" topic, I also discussed it with technodummy at last month's weblog meetup. Maybe I'll write about it in this blog one of these days. Anyway, lots of interesting stuff here, lots of food for thought.
  4. Darwin Among The Machines, by George Dyson. In a nutshell, looks at the idea that the evolution of machines has many analogies to the evolution of humans and animals. The central figure in the book is Samuel Butler, a contemporary of Darwin living in New Zealand, who seems amazingly prescient in some of his predictions. About the highest density of interesting ideas per page that I've ever seen in a book, and has a large and eclectic bibliography.
  5. The Lord of The Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien. I haven't actually read this book recently, but seeing the extended version of The Two Towers on DVD (the DVD versions have been much better than the cut down versions they played in the cinemas, IMHO), and then watching The Return of The King (which I thought was amazing), I feel like I have. It also helps that I spent an afternoon at the Lord of the Rings Exhibition at Wellington Museum when I was in New Zealand a year ago, and that I read the book (and The Hobbit) 5 times in primary school, first in grade 3 (I read The Hobbit in grade 2). This was the book of my childhood, and partially because of this, it wasn't until early teens that I weaned myself off fantasy, in favour of more adult books.

Now for the Top 100 list. I feel quite ashamed, as I've only read 28 of these books, (I have 61 of them in my personal library, but I thought, from a quick glance at the books, that this number would be higher also). The main reason for my lowly score of 28 is definitely that I don't finish enough of the books I start reading, for the rest I'll blame it on the fact that there's not a huge overlap in our reading tastes, beyond the obvious classics.

(books I've read are bold, books I own are italics. books I own and have read are bold italic)

1984, George Orwell
The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
Animal Farm, George Orwell
Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
The BFG, Roald Dahl
Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
Bleak House, Charles Dickens
Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
Catch 22, Joseph Heller
The Catcher In The Rye, JD Salinger
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky
David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
Dune, Frank Herbert
Emma, Jane Austen
Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
The Godfather, Mario Puzo
Gone With The Wind, Margaret Mitchell
Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire, JK Rowling
Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling
Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
His Dark Materials trilogy, Philip Pullman
The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, Douglas Adams
The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
Holes, Louis Sachar
I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
Katherine, Anya Seton
The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, CS Lewis
Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
The Lord Of The Rings, JRR Tolkien
Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blighton
Magician, Raymond E Feist
The Magus, John Fowles
Matilda, Roald Dahl
Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
Middlemarch, George Eliot
Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie
Mort, Terry Pratchett
Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
On The Road, Jack Kerouac
One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Perfume, Patrick Suskind
Persuasion, Jane Austen
The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
Pride And Prejudice, Jane Austen
The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
The Ragged Trousered Philantrhopists, Robert Tressell
Rebecca, Daphne Du Maurier
The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Secret History, Donna Tartt
The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
The Stand, Stephen King
The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
Tess Of The D'urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee
A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
The Twits, Roald Dahl
Ulysses, James Joyce
Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
War And Peace, Leo Tolstoy
Watership Down, Richard Adams
The Wind In The Willows, Kenneth Grahame
Winnie-the-Pooh, AA Milne
The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

The Kestrel

I'd ordered The Kestrel (by Lloyd Alexander) from the US at Readings bookstore, when I went there today it had arrived. Years ago I read this book and loved it, and whilst I couldn't remember the title, bits of the book stuck in my head like superglue. I think, if I was to sum up (and simplify) what I like about the book, I would say: it is morally ambiguous. This may be similar to why I like (and Suelette doesn't so much) Dashiell Hammett. I especially love the dedication:

For those who know that they are only human but who try not to be any less.

That sounds like my philosophy of life.

Other great morally ambiguous books:

The Glass Key

The Maltese Falcon

Red Harvest

(all by Dashiell Hammett)

If you want to find out more about what "The Kestrel" is about, read the Amazon reviews. (OK, I partly did that to show that everybody gave the book 5 stars -- not everybody has heard of the book, but those who've read it seemed to like it)

How grammatically sound are you?

I just did this grammar test How grammatically sound are you? that I found on blogdex. It seemed quite tricky, but not pedantically so. This is how I went:

Grammar God!
You are a GRAMMAR GOD!

If your mission in life is not already to
preserve the English tongue, it should be.
Congratulations and thank you!

How grammatically sound are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

These are all the possible outcomes: All possible results.

But what I want to know is what score I got, and which questions I got wrong. Interesting quiz, annoying that they don't give you the answers at the end.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

April Fools!

Seeing as it was that time of the year yesterday, some April Fools hoaxes...

This google one is quite funny, if you read through it all. A fair few computer related in-jokes though.

This was also released on April 1, but I think it's real (I've signed up for it anyway, for when / if it comes out):

Here is an older one from a previous April Fools day about their search technology "pigeonrank":

This one is also moderately funny (and moderately painful), but again, computer related in-jokes abound. Similarly to the google joke, a fair bit of work would have gone into it.
Dating Design Patterns book review *Update* -- it's been pointed out that this is a real book, not a hoax. I think this only makes it even funnier.

Here is a list of the top 100 April Fools hoaxes, including one by Dick Smith, seemingly towing an Antarctic iceberg into Sydney Harbour. Apparently he'd been going on about it being a good idea.

Here's a funny one about a Web standards protest march:

Finally heres a list of most of the web based April Fools hoaxes this year (and last):