I am not an Apple "fanboi"
Getting really fucking tired of anyone being positive about Apple or their products being painted as some kind of slack-jawed religious nut that worships Steve Jobs.
Really. Fucking. Tired.

I've bought and/or used my fair share of computers and phones both from Apple and from other companies. Out of all of them Apple's have been, by and large, better. Not perfect (don't get me started on the phone capability of the iPhone) but better. They're generally more robust, more user friedly and more attractive. Yes, appearance matters.

Given my generally positive experience, I recommend said products to friends where appropriate (except for the obvious Apple opponents). I figure that's how word-of-mouth is supposed to work. I have a good experience so I pass that on to the people I care about, to help them navigate the river of lies that is advertising.
It really gets my goat when I do that only to have it thrown in my face that I'm some kind of sycophant.

I have my opinions on *why* Apple products are generally better and I'll happily share them if only to make conversation. Increasingly though that seems to be an invitation to have myself beaten about the head with tired internet memes and media soundbytes.

Ease up a little. I don't worship Apple but I do give them first consideration based entirely on previous, positive experiences. I think I'm allowed to do that without having to be lumped in with the raving loonies.

'ow do you theenk I got this outrrragous accent?
French lessons booked. Flights scoped, tour selected, schedule drafted. This trip is happening :)

We're off to France in mid-Dec (2 weeks) followed by a brief visit (1 week) to the UK (mostly Cardiff). Funds permitting, we'll be making a side-trip to Sweden for the Ice Hotel and northern lights between the two. Overnight stop over in Seoul on the way over. Christmas in Paris and New Years in Cardiff.

So Anyone have experience with Cosmos Tours?
What's worth doing in Paris? Cardiff? London?
Ever flown Korean airlines before?

'gad, French lessons. The nerves are kicking in...

P.S. This song is top quality. In fact the whole of ":Ankoku Butoh:" is very good. Percussion FTW. Faith and the Muse are yet to disappoint.

Making a good film better
I think I've mentioned around here how much I like John Carpenter's The Thing. If I haven't here it is again: A LOT. Favourite movie levels of a lot. I still watch it once a year or so.

To my surprise, today I stumbled across a short story written as a sequel by Peter Watts: The Things.

It's good. Damned good. It takes the story from the film and manages to both extend it thoughtfully and turn it on it's head. It was a joy to read. IT makes me wonder, though, whether some inherent craftsmanship in the film/script lent itself to this kind of treatment after the fact, or is it all in the skill of the short story writer to find the nooks and crannies in the original piece where he can work his magic.

If you've seen the film, I recommend reading the short story. If you haven't seen the film let me know - I'm happy to organise a viewing :)

It's worth noting I have read "Who Goes There?" (the story the film is based on) and seen the even older film adaption. I think Carpenter's film captures the story pretty damned well, whilst the older film is kinda, er, funny.

The Sun has gone out.
This isn't about climate change.

Oracle has bought Sun. I've known it was coming since just under a year ago. Still - the reality is harsh. The staff at Sun have my sympathy.

Oracle's spin is all angled at a kind of partnership or "elder brother" relationship with Sun. More like Big Brother. As you can see, Sun's web site is no more at the high levels. Deep links occasionally still resemble the old site but most are heavily Oracle-ified.
Worst than that is the rebranding. "Sun Solaris" became "Oracle Solaris", "Sun SPARC" became "ORacle SPARC" and so on. All on the very day of the takeover.

The clincher for me was when the Sun BigAdmin newsletter arrived newly entitled "Oracle BigAdmin".
It seems clear now that Oracle will be crushing the Sun brand under its boot.

Sun had really lost their way, so for things like Solaris and SPARC, this is about the only real chance they have. However, it's sad to see the Sun brand mercilessly stripped away. For their part in the dotcom boom, if not for Solaris and their general devotion to innovation, Sun deserve to not be completely forgotten.

I guess I'll retrain as a DBA or something :(

Anthropomorphising robots is bad because...

Our so-called medical "system"
What a farce. Take a complex task requiring multiple participants (i.e. any major medical procedure) and ensure every participant has utterly separate financial interests and what do you get? Chaos.

I feel like John MOTHERFUCKING Howard at some point added "Medical secretary" into every job description in the country, including the unemployed.

Doctors, hostpitals, surgeries, anaesthetists, pathologists, insurers and who the fuck knows else are all out on their own and utterly disinterested in sorting the mess out for you.
Like I know how the medical system (and i use the term ironically) works, let alone what's involved in the damned procedures. You can't even be sure they're not talking to each other - sometimes they do - you just have no idea what they talked about. Probably how much more they can bleed out of you.

Surprise bills, hours spent on the phone calling multiple interested parties who all point a finger at someone else, incomprehensibly complicated processes, form after form after form, unspecified costs, unknowable amounts, secret code numbers and a gigantic wall of personal assistants and secretaries to protect everyone actually involved in the procedure.

Except me. I'm on my little lonesome trying to navigate this bullshit without a map. How the hell would I cope if I suffered a really serious condition? If I was distressed or even impaired?

It's an abomination.

And you know what really tipped me over the edge? I have to supply my own dressing gown. Fucking cheapskate arseholes.

Money. It fucking stinks and it sucks the compassion out of everything.

The theme for this year so far...

I wish my desk was a spaceship [from Exploding Dog]

It's so amazing here
I sense another "one song on repeat all day" marathon today...
A shame it has to be via You Tube but I intend to rectify that VSN.

Living with the crazies (RANT)
So I've been reading the ABC web site news a bit lately - mostly procrastinating at work. Which means I tend to trawl through all the comment threads. I really have to stop doing that, it's depressing.

This whole "Right vs Left" thing not only has aspects of a holy war, but the "definitions" of the two terms are so rubbery as to be useless. Anyone calling Rudd's government "leftie" is in need of a serious reality check. Is Australia really dying to sign itself up for a religious, fascist regime? There sure as hell seems to be a slow but inexorable slide in that direction.

On top of that, the AGW denialist crowd are usually the same caustic, rabid arseholes that worship Howard, Abbott and their ilk. I suppose that's because in a two-party system such as we have, the "choice" is essentially arbitrary when taken across a range of topics.
I've tried looking into the science. But it is science after all - I can't follow it in depth. There's so damned much of it: Glacial studies, tree-ring studies, weather, geology, chemistry, astrophysics... It's totally unreasonable to expect the average person to make a truly "informed" decision based on work spread across many fields over many years. That's why we need trusted third parties to boil it down for us.
Sadly though, that makes it easy for the denialists to just attack our doubts and uncertainties. Which they do, frequently without response from the other side. They're always vague, non-specific attacks which makes them hard to respond to in any meaningful way. I feel this urge to follow up with a mass of references, but I know how those conversations go on the internet.

In the end, for me, it comes down to this. If there is AGW and we do nothing, things are going to get very fucked up. If there isn't AGW and we expend effort in reducing our emissions and reducing our energy usage, we'll at least have gained efficiency and reduced pollution. The latter seems like the sane risk to take.

Abbott's cabinet reads like a whos-who of scarey and crazy. Yet people will vote for that bunch at the next election. Seriously, I can't even begin to fathom the thinking behind that decision. I'm also afraid to research the thinking behind it for fear I'll be tainted by what I find.

This always happens when I start getting too involved in politics. I suppose, in that, is the answer as to why so many people refuse to engage with what should be important issues to everyone. It involves taking a swim in the darkest, foulest waters any of us can imagine: the thoughts of people we can't understand. I'm not talking anything as cliche as the Hollywood carricature of a serial killer or psychopath either but the jumble of complex contradictions, confusions, insecurities and sheer normality that lurks in everyone.

"SUUUUSSAAANN! Ooh, I just scared myself! That is scary! "

Sci-fi cravings
Suffering severe cravings for some hard sci-fi. I've had a gutful of soft drama driven sci-fi/fantasy like Stargate or BSG or Star Trek. B5 had it's meatier parts, but mostly because of well developed drama and some decent military-style action. In fact, a bit of military sci-fi wouldn't go astray either.

I've tried resorting to documentaries but even the bloody documentaries I find these days are either so science light as to be insulting, or given completely over to speculative rubbish.

I'm after spacecraft, stars, nebulae, planets, astronomy, physics. Any kind of format/media. Just gimme some sci-fi dammit.

Any suggestions?


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