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Heavy Plant

Walk past a "Heavy Plant" warning and wonder vaguely if the trees thought it was for them; if whoever put it up had enough imag...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Drumkit with a view

in: Sipadan


Friday, December 19, 2008

Offline

in: Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
This is going to be interesting. We are headed to Borneo for a 3 week Christmas holiday that includes jungle treks and boats and all manner of adventures into caves and up rivers. We badly need a break but I don't think either of us has really absorbed the fact that we won't have or be looking for use of the internet for close to 3 weeks and most likely won't be using mobiles for that time either.

I don't think we really appreciate how much we use these things an an hourly basis. I've immersed myself much more deeply in the internerd this year, though I haven't written too much about it on here (I will, honest), I'm not sure what effect it's going to have. Perhaps make me more independant of things with flashing LEDs on them!

I will post things to various services from the mobile when I can. So anything worth finding out about will be on Jaiku (get yourself an invitation to Jaiku here). I've got this set to echo to Twitter which everyone else in the world seems to use. I don't use it because unlike Jaiku Twitter doesn't currently support text-message replies outside of the US and Canada. 

What I'm saying is that I'm not around for a bit and I might get withdrawal symptoms and then feel weird back at a computer on my return. That's not the least of my worries, I have a severe coffee habit and the withdrawal symptoms from that are an inability to concentrate, blinding headaches and irritability. Just what you need treking through the jungle...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

95:5 Tempered

I've got a bit of a temper me. I try to get round it, I do my best to hide it, normally with fairly limited success. I have recently discovered that if I don't drink so much  - specifically on an empty stomach - things are not so bad. Also cutting down the coffee and eating at regular intervals seems to help.There are a few things that still get my goat no matter what. Pedantic jobsworthery and self-importance will undermine almost any good mood. Bad driving, my own or anyone else's, is also guaranteed to ruin a good day.

I am trying to rid myself of many aspects of being a grouch with varying (read minimal) success. I have always operated on the 95:5 rule i.e. 95% of everything is rubbish and often people will go out of theri way to ruin the remaining 5%. I tend to regard people who don't share this worldview with suspicion and contempt, the bloody hippies. However I am having to contend with the fact that when I go out of the door in the morning thinking I will have a good day more often than not  I do. When I leave the house thinking I have a bad day the story is much the same. This has got to the point where I now have to concede that the biggest factor affecting what kind of day I have is the attitude I approach it with.

As a lifelong 95:5 cynic this apparent affirmation of positive thinking is a little, er, challenging for me as it disproves the ratio (unless of course 95% of my opinions are rubbish (actually that sounds about right, ignore me I'm just doing a bit of belated growing up here).). I have no desire to become a detestable hippy but it seems I'm well down the road. Never mind, it could be worse, at least I won't get as angry!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The pint of no return...

...is the name given to the drink after which you will drink until drunk. Or number 3 as I like to call it. The phrase seems to come from a book by a recovering alcoholic.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Debugger


Brought to you by Unfuk

Monday, November 17, 2008

Ticket


I really like the minimal 2 colour design of my weekly travel pass

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Down on the upside

in: Balmain East NSW, Australia

Oh, I see what you've done...

When you start looking for them the world is full of odd things like this.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

So shoot me

Guns n Guns

Sometimes reality does the comedy for you.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Defeated by desert

Defeated by desert

I do hope my colleague forgives me for putting this up but the photo is really good, and you can't actually see who it is...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Converging, diverging: a warning

I am living a double life online. I have 2 signons to the internet accounts that I use to run my life.

One does most of the playtime stuff - like this blog - the other does the less playful stuff, like work and finances and other boring tosh. The two are artificially separated and are begnning to collide, I can't keep them separated for much longer, the work I do increasingly involves many of the activities I do online anyway. Increasingly I want my work to show up online with the things I do on a daily basis.

What has, up until recently been a carefully stage managed separate pair of entities might begin to exhibit some of the almost schizoprenic activity that they really contain - you have been warned!

P.S. anyone with any experience on handling multiple online identities and converging them in one place could chime in in the comments and give me a few tips on how I do this because at current I have 2 workblogs, this blog and an ancilliary one I'm considering killing off, 3 websites to manage, a life to lead and a job to do. It's all a bit much and I've inflicted the majority of it on myself.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Too complicated?

The world always threatens to become too complex and make you feel like you're a troglodyte sat banging rocks together in the dark.

Unsurprisingly the opening of the Large Hadron Collider(LHC) on Friday has certainly done that for the majority of the world. When the worlds largest and most expensive experiment is a cathedral full of kit too  - complex and integrated to call any part of it an individual machine - buried under the French/Swiss border and when you have to divert the course of underground rivers to build it (done by freezing them - unbeleivably difficult, an astounding engineering feat but all I can think about is the environmental impact), things may actually have gone a little too far. It's very hard to give a context, rationalise its creation and point to what need there is for this thing.

The press have not been as much help as perhaps the scientific community would like on this point. despite the extremely erduite and lucid plain english explanations from the very earnest and concerned scientists - who seem well aware that they've lost the rest of us on this one - the press and so the popular imagination remains stuck in around 1954. The majority of the focus has been on one single (non) issue: "Will this experiment suck us all in to a black hole?"

If you start talking about exotic particles, all of which seem to have the most wonderrful names (a 'charm quark'? brilliant) or about the higgs mechanism and why we can't quite figure out actully what mass and therefore matter really is when you get right down to it, then everyone glazes over (the only Planck length most people care about is in the DIY store at the weekend). Talk to them about black holes and the end of the world then you've really got their attention. However despite repeated assurances with very long numbers representing orders of probability it didn't really get through that the liklihood of the LHC producing a singularity (black hole type thing) was only marginally above that of you triggering one by getting up in the morning and making a cup of coffee.

The blame here doesn't entirely sit with the press. If the scientists had been a trifle less honest there might have been less interest. If someone asks you, "is there any chance this thing could suck us all into a black hole?" it is more prudent just to say "no" than tell them the absolute fundamental truth in language that they are going to have trouble summarising for a public audience.

Just for the record the answer is that they are doing experiments at such high energies that it is possible that small singularities might be created but these will be contained within a vacuum a long way from any other matter and behind a magnetic field so strong that it could pull your fillings out from 50 metres away which will mean that they decay in such a short period of time that you'd have trouble proving their existence. I hope that clears it up.

Why am I wittering on about this when clearly the world didn't end in any proveable way (more than it seems to be doing daily in any case)? Because if you don't explain things properly people get over anxious and start acting stupidly. It seems that at an Indian suicided over the news reports on television. This is undeniably sad and symptomatic of tabloidisation of media and the ugly refusal of accountability that this brings with it but there's also a personal element - if you are that anxious about the world and incapable of rationally going to find more information rather than panicking then you really are in deep trouble.

My other big problem with the LHC and the issues round it is that it seems no-one seems to be trying to relate the science to a benefit for people and all we are seeing is the main focus of the thing itself, to find out how the universe fits together. Such existential issues don't trouble most people on a daily basis but if it is explained that some of the technology that buds off from these experiments changes the world in unexpected ways that have nothing to do with Bosons and Leptons then they might appreciate it a bit more. The last particle accelerator that was built at CERN produced the technology that spawned the Internet. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but even so that technology has changed our daily lives.

Using a by-product to justify an expensive and otherwise apparently irrelevant process has been done before and is a bit of a lame argument and it brings me to the last problem I have with the LHC. Despite all the technology, the potential benefits and my curiosity about how the universe works the actual concept is still a bit crude. What it does is accelerate protons round and round in opposite directions until they are as close to the speed of light as can be managed, smash them into each other and looks carefully at the pieces to see what they are. There are two ways to look at this and I am torn between thm. The LHC is either the greatest technological achievement of humankind - which is a position I am close to - or it really exposes how little knowledge we have about the world if all we can do is smash it up to see what it's made of.

Humankind just has to do better than this last position. We can't keep spending billions on things like this with the world decaying round us and justifying it with by-products and the benefits the eventual knowledge will almost certainly bring with it. It's quite possible that we might not be around to enjoy them given the amount of time that could take. The LHC might unlock a fundamental secret of the universe but if you look at it carefully humankind is actually still just sat in a cave in the dark smashing rocks together.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Umbrella bin

in: Sydney South NSW, Australia

So many broken umbrellas they won't fit in the one bin.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Software and booze


The contents of one of my desk drawers. This says so much about my life.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Buried boat

in: La Perouse NSW, Australia
Someone seems to have buried an entire boat at Frenchmans bay, much to the amusement of the children at the beach today.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Rock snot


Just say no.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Threefold Inaccurate Catholics

I do hope that the same courtesies being extended to the Catholic Church will be extended to the World gathering of Pastafari that I propose takes place in Sydney next year. As a devout Pastafarian I will expect the city to be shut down, helicopters to hover constantly overhead and Spaghetti Carbonara to be available on every street corner. I believe it is everyone’s right to believe in the omnipotent supernatural being of their choice with as little evidence as they like and disrupt the lives of millions of others accordingly.

There are many things that I find innately annoying about World Youth Day, starting with the arrogant inaccuracy of the name:

  1. World; amazingly not everyone is a Catholic. The name may mean universal but there are an awful lot of Indonesians, Indians, Chinese and pretty well the whole Middle and Far East to whom this really doesn’t apply. There’s quite a few Anglicans too, they used to burn Catholics…
  2. Youth; it is a matter of record that unaccompanied minors and catholic clergy should not mix. In fact The German Shepherd himself is going to apologise for this very thing whilst he is here. This means that the city is filled with the only thing worse than devout children; the kind of devout adult who would volunteer to take them to WYD08
  3. Day; day! It goes on for at least a week of rubbernecking pious bastardry.

Those attending WYD08 are known as ‘Pilgrims’ which I also cannot stand as it makes me adopt a John Wayne voice as I shove them out of the way (and sometimes into the harbour, I only wanted to see if they could walk on water…). Also in the age of cheaply available air travel is the word Pilgrim really appropriate? Surely the whole idea of pilgrimage is that it was meant to be hard, you were meant to go on foot and you were meant to discover things about the world around you and about yourself. What do I discover when I travel by air?

  1. I don’t like most people
  2. I don’t like airports
  3. I don’t like aeroplanes
  4. I do like a glass of wine and a decent movie

These are all things I could have discovered by travelling to my local shopping mall to pick up a DVD and a bottle of plonk, not travelling halfway round the world for a glimpse of the pope and to chant halleluiah tunelessly in another country.

The effect thousands of additional people in a city they don’t know very well has had a less than positive impact on the public transport system. The events in the city are supposedly timed not to coincide with the morning rush-hour. Unfortunately if you are pious enough and jet-lagged enough there’s no real way of predicting just how early you will get up do a little God-bothering sightseeing.

At least the propensity to wear the flag of their nation of origin and brightly coloured clothing and accessories makes them very easy to see through a rifle scope.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Beware, pole!

in: Maroubra Junction NSW, Australia

Can you guess what colour Sydney busses are? I don't quite know why I've started collecting signposts, possibly because I see so many every day.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Premium Economy

There is a new service level on airlines and it is Premium Economy. These are not two words that sit well together and I suspect that the phenomeneon may be symptomatic of a greater sociological ill; we want it all but we're damned if we'll pay for it. Air travel should be expensive, it brutalises the planet and creates/supports an enormous number of jobs. From personal experience Ryan Air I can tell you that if you pay peanuts someone charges you for the monkeys.

So far I have discovered Premium Economy on Quantas, Thai Airways and Virgin Blue (who the hell thought up the brand name Virgin Blue for heaven's sake, it sounds like a dodgy website).

Just a quick note to the airlines; putting a contaminated sharps bin in the airoplane toilet might be very right-on but it doesn't send a great message about your cabin-mates. Just thought I'd mention it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Whalesharks!

After a year's gap and at about the third attempt we finally managed to swim with whalesharks this time last week. I'll put some pics up when I have them developed and'or I can work out how to pinch stills from a DVD.

Also I am not dead, I was merely on holiday. That is all.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Beginners travel for free


Being an advanced passenger I'd already bribed the skipper for a quicker journey.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Get your Johnson out

Oh I say, how utterly ludicrous

3 Years ago, almost to the day, I left London:

Goodbye London, look after yourself!

We will Tom, have fun in Australia

A few months pass, and then:

KABOOM screams etc.

Er, what was that?

Terrorists, nothing new, as you were

3 years pass:

Oh Tom, we've decided to ditch one anachronistic old dinosaur of a mayor for another far more ridiculous one that will hugely damage our international reputation and make us the subject of stereotype ridicule for decades.

Never speak to me again.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Simplify


The person writing this sign knows the right word and thinks you should too.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

5 % Bull

Previously she'd asked me, quite incredulously, did I know that five percent of greenhous gasses came from cattle farting. Yes, I said, I think I'd heard that before somewhere. But five percent, that's a lot.

Whilst lying in bed, starting to drift off:

Five percent?!That sounds like a load of bullshit.

We were helpless with laughter for the next 10 minutes.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Mister E Bunny

The concept of the Easter Bunny is just plain wrong. An extract from a recent interview:

Mr Bunny may I congratulate you on another successful Easter. How long is it now that you've been hiding chocolate eggs for children to find?

Eggs, yeah. Chocolate, right. You're...er... still eating those, right?

Oh yes, and most delicious they are too.

Oh yeah, go-on enjoy it. Let it melt on your tongue.

Er, Mr Bunny are you okay? Your tail is twitching in a most alarming manner.

Tail? Oh, yeah right "tail". (laughs) You still haven't got it have you? Oh yes, smear it up your face. Oh God, look it's sticking to your teeth!

Of course it could just be my twisted imagination that reacts badly to the idea of a rabbit hiding "chocolate" eggs with treats in for children but it does sound a bit suspicious. Doesn't it?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I had to ask...

My reaction to Authur C Clarke's death was:

John Peel, Hunter S Thompson, Authur C Clarke - who's next?

I had to ask. Sorry.

Maybe it's time to do something creative.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Anxiety

Symptoms:

  • Waking up before the alarm and waiting for it, watching it, trying to anticipate it
  • Peculiar and inexplicable skin complaints
  • Drinking too much
  • Dreams where I'm back at university and behind on my work (3 times this week)
  • Arguing with bus drivers before 7am on a Saturday
  • 2 to do lists and no idea where to start

Treatment:

  • Holiday

I recognise this, this is stress isn't it? Thank Christ for that, I thought I was going nuts.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

A note to cyclists


Clearly a fetish

I'm not talking here to the ride it to work and back kind of cyclists, but to the multi-coloured lycra clad type. What you do is not a sport. It closely resembles a sport but consider: you need specialised equipment and lubricants to participate, the classic version has obscure french terminology, there are various shapes of foam rubber involved which you - excuse me - sit on! It is commonly done in large groups where participants seem to spend a lot of time looking at the bottom of the person in front of them.

Any activity that requires you to dress up like a perverted clown to massage your prostate with a custom formed piece of latex is not a sport it is a fetish. Particularly if you if you get up early in the morning to do it and shout to each other outside my bedroom window before I am awake.

Mountain bikers can stop feeling smug at this point, you do all this in the mud and rain and have clothing brands with names like "Muddy Fox".

Whilst I'm at it I'm sure there are several other sports that are little more than an excuse to engage in otherwise suspect physical encounters and hang around in changing rooms:

  • Wrestling - Putting on a leotard to grapple each other to the floor and hold each other down. This is quite obvioulsy a fetish and greco-roman wrestlers need to be reminded that these wrestlers originally used to be naked and oiled.
  • Judo - Really this is a sub-set of wrestling that shows off the Japanese capacity for taking things a bit too far. This is wrestling that you need to put on pajamas to take part in and then grapple each-other to the ground in an attempt to hold one-another down with your faces in each-other's armpits. Clearly a fetish.
  • Oooh chase me, chase me!

  • Rugby - Using a funny shaped ball as an excuse to chase each-other around and wrestle each-other to the ground, in the mud! Until recently this was done in practical hard-wearing clothing. Now it seems to be done in skin-tight Lycra.
  • Climbing - Uncomfortable harness that is particularly tight around the groin area, rope, silly little rubber shoes and again skin-tight bloody Lycra.
  • Speed skating - This is a really weird one, a fetish where people with huge thighs to dress up in what amounts to a skin-tight Lycra gimp suit to chase each other around on ice. Bizarre.
  • Oh I'm comin' to getcha'

I'm sure there are more, I'll add them as I think of them.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Autumn

It is now Autumn in Australia, I can't say I noticed Spring or Summer, we seem to have skipped a year's supply of those and just had nine months of Winter. Oh well, it can't be sunny all the time.

I got through the second 29th of February of a 6 year relationship without that question being asked. Is this a good or a bad thing? I'm not sure I know. What I do know is that Emily will be peeved that she forgot to terrify me by threatening with it all day long, hah!

Friday, February 29, 2008

Where does Guy live?

in: 931 Anzac Parade, Maroubra NSW 2035, Australia

Good God, I've made a hairdressing joke. Sorry.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Finally

Well thank heavens that wasn’t a colossal pain in the arse, by which of course I mean that it was. Getting your house wired up to the internet seems to be as difficult as everything else in this country. It has taken me more than a month from buying the connection and the kit to get things working properly. However the effort looks like it has been worth it and I now have an internet connection at home.

Let’s hope it lasts!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Write it down

My [other] constant companion is my notebook. The poor thing is beginning to feel the strain. It contains all the general tasks of life, thoughts and ideas that I rush to capture before they evaporate. I always intend to organise them later.

My fear is that it has become an indicator of my mental state; a collection of disjointed scraps and notes associated only by virtue of their collection in a single location. Tattered and frayed, dog eared and overworked it threatens to give way at any moment. Missing pages are missing memories, whole days passed in a blur or torn out, deliberately put beyond recall.

You can see why I'm worried.

Time to consolidate, organise and rearrange. I might sort my notebook out too...

Friday, February 15, 2008

Sorry Day

13 February was been a big day for Australia. The Prime Minister officially apologised to the Stolen Generations. This term refers to Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander people forcibly removed from their parents and sent to live either with white foster parents or in camps governed by white people. This was a nationwide and state-by-state policy in Australia ostensibly to protect children at risk of harm but in fact enforced as a brutal piece of 'ethnic cleansing' and out and out racism as has been seen at any time in history. It lasted a hundred years or more.

Apologising for this atrocity has been a sticking point with governments ever since the idea was suggested. A large part of white Australia feels that it has nothing to apologise for; that Aboriginal people do nothing but drink, sniff petrol and laze around. Apologising to indigenous people for Australians of this viewpoint is feeding a victim mentality and validating the perceived lack of endeavour. This is, obviously to me, ignoring the fact that the parlous state of a lot of indigenous communities is a result of the interference of another culture.

This is not to ignore that child abuse, alcoholism and petrol sniffing are immense problems in many indigenous communities. These are symptoms of much bigger problems to do with poverty arising from the treatment of the indigenous population. A distributed hunter-gatherer culture had a concentrated capital economic white culture imposed on it that attempted to force its own values to the fore, removing autonomy and self-determination along the way. This was also done without providing a framework for development or progress – i.e. opportunity to access education and employment – without which many of these communities lapsed into third-world level poverty where they remain today. The average indigenous life expectancy is 17 years shorter than that of the white population.

There are reasons for this too; many indigenous communities are very remote making it very difficult to provide these opportunities even when the impetus to do so is present (from either side of the equation). The traditional ways of living, which supported these communities in the past, had been devalued and eroded by the encroaching culture, hopelessness and an apathetic helpless inertia was the result.

It is against this background that one federal MP when asked whether he supported an apology commented on camera that there were places in Australia where he thought children should be removed from their parents (his emphasis).

Nice one Kev

The wording of the apology needed to be right. Australians of any background are straight talking honest people and any half-hearted effort would have rendered the exercise pointless for absolutely everyone. The word sorry was particularly important as an apology can be without regret and regret as well as recognition of the past ills are what was needed. In the photograph is Sally Pierce who was herself removed from her parents. For years she has worn a black tee shirt with the word Sorry on it, after the PM’s speech she changed it.

Below I’ve included a couple of things, some thinking on what the apology might mean from the Special Broadcasting Service, a video of the PM’s speech, the full text of it and some reactions to the speech again from SBS.


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Today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history. We reflect on their past mistreatment. We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were stolen generations - this blemished chapter in our nation's history.

The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia's history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future. We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians. We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.

For the pain, suffering and hurt of these stolen generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry. To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry. And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation. For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.

We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians. A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again. A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity. A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed. A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility. A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia.





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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Tasteless bathroom


Wow! That's bad.

Virgin Blue: Huge Thanks!

I am normally on the complaining side of the equation when it comes to customer service and I am rarely impressed by the way companies deal with me which makes it particularly noteworthy when they do it well. On Friday I was not just pleasantly surprised but utterly blown away by the lengths to which the check-in staff of Virgin Blue at Sydney Airport went to help us.

Our online check-in failed to work but we had run out of time and had to get to the airport as quickly as possible. It was raining, hard. The traffic ground to halt a not even a kilometre up the road. We got to the airport and the transfer bus from long-term parking failed to arrive and then got stuck in a traffic jam of taxis. We missed the flight and would have had to buy a ticket for a different flight and not use our tickets for the Australian Open that night.

The ground crew not only didn’t make us buy another flight, they moved heaven and earth to get us on any of the next three flights out of Sydney and they did it despite the fact that we were both, frustrated, angry and upset (I was rude too, but Emily kept her head!). Thanks to them we missed only the first set of the women’s singles match that night – the first of three – and saw all 5 sets of the men’s.

We would probably have gone straight home and not gone to Melbourne at all had it not been for the people that helped us. Instead we had a fantastic weekend away, saw a day and a half of top class tennis. I can’t thank them enough.

Friday, January 04, 2008

On Browsing: Herbivorous consumption

Browsing is an activity where concentration and attention span as well as a deeper qualitative appreciation are hostile to the activity itself. It also means that people are more sensitive to negative forces, browsing has both push and pull forces and the push is instant and final and the pull is creeping and fickle.

"I'm a selective consumer me."

It's probably a bit unseemly to quote yourself but when I wrote this I started thinking more about browsing as it seems to be an increasingly important part of everyday experience.

Dictionary definitions aren't much good when you are looking to describe and understand something as prevalent and widely applied as the concept of browsing. At best you will be left with an awkwardly narrow definition and at worst discover that the term you are looking up has several different uses that vary only slightly in a semantic sense but when used as a basis for thinking about the thing it describes in a real world context produce a multitude of obfuscating subtleties (try saying that with a mouthful of jelly!). The definition I have come up with is:

Browsing is the act of continual selection and sampling dictating what will be consumed and what will be discarded.

This feels like a capital economic description but is derived from natural history's description of the eating habits of herbivores and I've pinched this as a metaphor for thinking about the process. The very fact that to me this sounds like something that might come up in a marketing seminar points to what is important about browsing; it is a choice mechanism based on sampling. The actual item or experience to be consumed must be part consumed or experienced in the act of making a choice. Choice only occurs when there is more than one option to consume and browsing is how we appear to cope with an enormous variety of choice offered: too many options actually inhibit a quick and clear decision, sampling and acceptance or rejecion have become the norm. We have been turned into herbivorous consumers by the overwhelming quantity of options available.

Browsing also seems to be an effective means of avoiding a definitive choice. With a little of this and a little of that you can browse all day without settling on a single option. It could lead to overconsumption, particularly if you continue with the idea that you are looking for a single perfect thing or simply get lost in the habit of sampling and moving on. Apathy and inertia are an unhealthy combinaton.

The act of browsing seems to have become an activity in itself; window shopping, channel surfing and web browsing for fun. What becomes of a choice mechanism when the final objective is removed? The activity seems a kind of aimless meandering, a feckless self absorption and commitmentless waste of time. Without an aim continuous browsing will probably lead down roads marked out by the most basic and instinctual drives, the lowest common denominator. I'm wondering if this is why there is so much sex on the internet - a medium where you have to open a 'browser' just to be able to access most of the content.

There is another name for herbivores in natural history: prey species. It is only by herding together in vast numbers and/or reaching a really enormous size that they manage not to be devoured!

More thought needed.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

To do list

Unlike 90% of the rest of the world I return to work on 7 January. My beloved does not and today has nose firmly pressed to grindstone. This has precipitated the dreaded To Do List.

I am not the most reliable person on earth so a to do list outside of work is more of a vague indication of possible activity rather than a strict list of tasks to be accomplished. My other half is not so lackadaisical and the stern looks and telling off I will most likely receive in the almost inevitable event of my failing to complete everything on it will be unpleasant in the extreme. There's no point begging for mercy, she'll be at work all day and I'll be at home watching the tennis and guzzling sausages.

It's not that the list is particularly onerous - it has only 10 items - the problem is that I've not been at work since Christmas Eve and the majority of tasks to be completed in that time have been the same:

  1. Drive somewhere
  2. Eat something
  3. Drink something
  4. Sleep

How am I to deal with 10 tasks that are all different and have sub-tasks that require actual thought? Plus the fact that one of these tasks is 'Ironing', that isn't a task, it's a sentance (and no time off for good behaviour either)!