Friday, November 27, 2009

End Of An Era-Bashing Era

Although many things have changed since my formative teenage years the laughability of eighties fashion and popular culture has remained a touchstone. Even today people make fun of it in an offhand fashion, as if it was a nadir to which humanity will never fall again.

I recently saw the highlights from this year's American Music Awards and the ARIA Awards and I have some observations to make.

Archetypal one hit wonder and general eighties lovechild Adam Ant alongside Luke Steele from breakout Australian electropop act Empire of the Sun.

Goth legend Robert Smith of The Cure side by side with Billy Joe Armstrong of the good-punk-turned-annoying-emo Greenday

And of course Madonna's classic cone bra is one of the great mockable fashion items of music history, but Lady Gaga is willing to at least try and make it look tame.

It was nice to know that no matter how tragic hair got, or how bad the pop music was, that at least we would avoid the pitfalls of the eighties. Sadly it is time to find a new era to pillory. Perhaps the Restoration, or maybe the last days of Czarist Russia. I hear that druidic Britain was pretty funny, what with the sickles and dolmens.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Non-Life Update

I've made some changes of an entirely cosmetic nature to the site design, I think the only actual layout change is that the main column may be a few pixels wider. If you read my posts from within some sort of crazy feed reader, then everything still looks the same so you'll just have to imagine the glory of it.

Anyway, I figured now would be a good time to provide a general Bice in the tubes update for anybody who may be interested.

The Undignified Cactus: this blog.

Feats of Play: my newly created blog for all things gaming, put elsewhere to keep this blog readable for those not interested in games. I recommend reading this post first.

Write Run Rue: my work and code blog. In the best medieval three field practices it has been left fallow for the last few months to improve its fertility. Also I have been everywhere but at work.

If you want an easier way of finding this information than trying to find this post again, there are links at to everything. Once I find a feed aggregator that isn't a useless pile of something indelicate I'll put up a combined feed for those self-destructive individuals who want to read everything I write.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Look, It's a Complicated Issue

Consider Gough Whitlam, arguably Australia's most famous Prime Minister (in Australia at least). Here's some edited highlights of his achievements:
  • Created a national health care service
  • Abolished the death penalty
  • Established Legal Aid and no fault divorce laws
  • Gave Papua New Guinea independence
  • Established diplomatic and trade relations with China
  • Introduced the Racial Discrimination Act (which despite its name, prevents racial discrimination)
He was PM for about three years, and had a hostile senate (which is to say he needed the support of a party besides his own to get bills through). Everybody in Australia knows how Gough's political story ended (sigh, here you go) so it wasn't necessarily a recipe for political longevity, but it does show that being in power does allow a leader to institute change.

Every time I hear a Rudd or Turnbull or one of their lackeys claim that introducing climate change policy is complicated, sensitive and potentially Bad For The Economy and that a working party with a broad-ranging mandate should be set up by 2015 to deliver its findings in ten years at the most I think: what would Gough do? The answer never involves a working party or a steering committee.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Electron Deficient Entertainment - Meh Edition

Stardust - Neil Gaiman. Good read, strange how different it was from the movie, but much better. The book better than the movie? Hard to believe I know.
Child of Fire - Harry Connolly. The problem with most modern fantasy is that it's not Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, which I guess is not incredibly modern, but is modern enough to warrant comparison. A Madness of Angels is better, but still not up to the same standard.
A Madness of Angels - Kate Griffin. See above.
Altered Carbon - Richard Morgan. Not bad, but in a world where people switch bodies on a regular basis and can have psychosurgery to recover from traumatic events, why is it a struggle for highly trained supersoldier protagonist to quit smoking?
Mona Lisa Overdrive - William Gibson. Neuromancer was pretty good once you accept it was written in the 1980s. Mona Lisa Overdrive was also written in the eighties, but is not good.