Friday, January 23, 2004

Taking a Sickie II

Can't hang about for long - the doc says I should really be in bed drinking lots of the fluids and that Kaopectate stuff. But you might like to take a look at this Washington Post article, which definitely didn't appear in the print edition. Urgh, got to go now, you know how it is.

Taking a Sickie

I'm not well enough to blog today. No really; I'm not just bunging it on so that I can get away early for the long weekend. Alright then, have it your won way, see if I care. You'll just have to go and read somebody else.

Like David Tiley at Barista on Churchill's foul-mouthed parrot.

Or Helen at Blogger on the Cast iron Balcony on Phat.

Or Terry Sedgwick at There Ain't no Sanity Clause on John Howard and education.

I'm off to the doctors to see if I can weasel a medical certificate out him.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Drunken Banker Week - Update

Rob Schaap posts a hitherto unknown excerpt from a famous diarist.


I thought this was a fairly obvious piss-take, if a little over-extended. Apparently it wasn't obvious enough for some. As I said, some days being a lefty is really quite enjoyable. Today is one of them.

Afterthought: for some reason this strikes me as vaguely relevant here (Link via boynton).

Self-Satirising Site of the Day

I've been struggling with a post about this site for a few days now. It's the home of the Literary Universals Project. Here you can find out what literary universals are:

For any given domain (e.g., narrative), universals are features (properties, relations, structures) of works in that domain that recur across genetically and areally unrelated traditions with greater frequency than would be predicted by chance. Genetically unrelated traditions are distinct in origin (e.g., Greek and Chinese traditions are genetically unrelated; Greek and Latin traditions are not). Areally unrelated traditions have not influenced each other, at least not with respect to the feature under consideration.

You can also join the hunt for literary universals. You don't have to be a literary scholar to find one; anyone with the ability to reason logically should be able to come up with heaps:

Perhaps the opposite of “contingent” universals (which might never have arisen) are logical universals. These are universals that necessarily apply to all traditions for logical reasons. For example, the relations between temporal order in story and discourse (i.e., the story and the way the story is told) are necessarily synchronous or anachronous. In other words, the discourse either presents events in the same order as they occur in the story or it changes that order.

On this basis, I'm pretty sure that this is a literary universal: any literary work written in a particular language will be more readily appreciated by readers who are literate in that language. I haven't actually tested this, but if my experience of trying to read Chinese and Japanese paperbacks over the shoulders of Asian students on the tram is anything to go by, I reckon I must be onto something.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

David Hookes was a much better man than Zdravko Micevic will ever be. That's all I have to say on the subject.

Six Common Sayings of Computer Programmers

1. What the hell was I thinking when I wrote this?
2. What the hell was I thinking when I wrote this?
3. What the hell was I thinking when I wrote this?
4. What the hell was I thinking when I wrote this?
5. What the hell was I thinking when I wrote this?
6. What the hell was I thinking when I wrote this?

Education Rant

Tim Dunlop has already posted on this noxious little comment from the bespectacled toad we laughingly refer to as Australia's Prime Minister:

People are looking increasingly to send their kids to independent schools for a combination of reasons. For some of them, it's to do with the values-driven thing; they feel that government schools have become too politically correct and too values-neutral.

Tim wonders how you can be politically correct and values neutral at the same time. So do I. I'm also unimpressed by this piece of Howard illogic:

The existing arrangements work quite well and the fact is that 78 per cent of all government funding goes to government schools, while they attract 69 per cent of the pupils.

I think it's just a fundamental exercise in choice. You can't stop that, and you shouldn't try to.

This is a very neat way of turning the issue arse about; what needs to be justified is the 22% of government funding which goes to private organisations in the business of selling education on a fee-for-service basis, not the percentage which goes to government schools. Howard seems to have forgotten the reasons government schools exist; such as the long held belief that every child has the right to an education and all the rest of that jazz.

The choice stuff is pure ideology and a pretty shonky basis for funding private schools, if you're serious about all those other good conservative values like personal responsibility and living with the consequences of your own silly choices and all the rest of that moralising guff. If people choose to send their kids to private schools, I say fine, let 'em - as long as they're prepared to shoulder the financial consequences. It's a lot better for the dignity of the parents and students than promoting a hand-out mentality by subsidising the upper class ponces and wannabe upper class ponces who infest the likes of Geelong Grammar and Sydney's Trinity College.

Monday, January 19, 2004

And the Winner Loser Is ...

Dandenong, recently confirmed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics as the best place to stick the hose if you were giving the country an enema.

The award is based on 2001 census data, so there's plenty of scope for rival claimants, such as Port Kembla, to insist that they was robbed because the data's out of date and the arse end of the arse end of the world has now moved somewhere else.

My Country, Right or Wrong

You're Sudan!

Every time you get a headache, you reach for some aspirin, only to realize that someone destroyed it. That's just how things are going for you right now... it's hard to eat, hard to sleep, hard to not have a headache. You try to relax, but people always jump on you about something that doesn't make sense. If you were a goat, you'd be a Nubian.

Take the Country Quiz at the Blue Pyramid

Coming Soon - Drunken Banker Week

Money is, to most people, a serious thing. They expect financial architecture to reflect this quality - to be somber and serious, never light or frivolous. The same, it may be added, is true of bankers. Doctors, though life itself is in their hand, may be amusing. In Decline and Fall Evelyn Waugh even has one who is deeply inebriated. A funny banker is inconceivable. Not even Waugh could make plausible a drunken banker.
John Kenneth Galbraith, Money - Whence It Came, Where It Went

When I read this passage, sometime around the middle of last week, my first response was "Oh, Really?" Galbraith may know a lot about economics but it seemed to me that there were no good reasons to believe that a drunken banker could not be presented as a plausible character in literature.

I've already had a crack at a couple of pastiches presenting drunken bankers in the styles of noted authors. As soon as I get hold of Evelyn Waugh's Scoop, I'll be ready for a third. Once I have five, I'll be presenting Drunken Banker week here at Tugboat Potemkin, with one drunken banker for each day of the week. I expect this to start next Monday but the sad precedent of Ten Greatest Bungles of Australian History post suggests that it would be foolish to promise this.

While I was writing the two drunken banker pieces completed to date it occurred to me, naturally enough, that others might want to take a stab at depicting a drunken banker in the style of a well known author. This may simply be vanity on my part, but I'll be linking to any drunken banker posts which I notice around the blogosphere. I'm much more likely to notice them, of course, if I get an e-mail telling me where to find them.

If you're wondering which authors I've already parodied in the two existing drunken banker pieces, or whose writing style I might be borrowing besides that of Evelyn Waugh, I've decided not to tell you. This might lead to unfortunate duplication but, on the other hand, you might produce something better than I already have. In which case I might find myself looking around for another couple of authors to plagiarise.

Update: in response to a comment from dj, I'd just like to make it clear that the word "author" above should be understood in the wider sense of "novelist, poet, playwright etc".

Oh No!

From this post by Boynton and the ensuing comments, it looks like I began something pretty awful when I started using the Google translator to convert pop-songs into obscure modernist poetry. I think the following ode expresses my current feelings on the matter best.

I began a joke which began the whole world to cry,
i-didn't sees however that the joke on me was, of the OH-NR.

I to start to cry, who it whole the world to start to laugh,
OH -, so only to see I'd, which the joke on me.

I considered the skies, presents operation my my eyes,
and I fell from the bed, my head of the things said in a wounding way this I'd.

Until I die finally who it complete world life started,
OH -, I'd only considering the joke on me was.