Berkeley – A good place to cycle

Bicycle boulevard

Rather than cram bicycle lanes onto main thoroughfares and roads that are a little too narrow, the Berkeley Council has taken another approach. Continue reading Berkeley – A good place to cycle

A new multi-part series

Hello readers, during the next few weeks, whilst my co-blogger takes a well-earned break from trice daily postings, I will take the reins of the good ship Thomas the Think Engine.

With that, I am announcing a new multi-part series called ‘What’s wacky about the USA’. Hallmarks of this new series will include: mixed metaphors, lots of commas, lots of hyphens, lots of spelling mistakes, fewer posts and veiled criticisms of the greatest country on earth. I hope you enjoy the reading…

Thus, the first topic is Incompetence: Continue reading A new multi-part series

Travel Disasters – the rat.

In 2007, I was working for the Australian Government. In May I got sent to Nauru to carry papers and fill a chair at an important meeting.

Continue reading Travel Disasters – the rat.

Travel disasters

“Happy families are all alike, every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”.

Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

So it is with travel.

All lovely trips feature delectable meals, beautiful sunsets, friendly guides and surprisingly well-appointed accommodation.  

Trips people like to hear about might feature explosive diarrhea, incarceration by border guards, hungry bed bugs, bus drivers on mezcal, stolen luggage, muggings at syringe point, water landings, leaky canoes, brutal casino security guards, giant squid attacks, or some variation on this endlessly adaptable theme.

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Continue reading Travel disasters

Mt Hotham – a book review

I ordered my copy of Mt Hotham on the internet. Prime book-reading season was in full-swing, and I eagerly anticipated the time when I was finally able to open the cover. I had read a short-story version many years ago, and I knew this work was likely to be a pre-eminent example of its genre.


Continue reading Mt Hotham – a book review

Hello, Aliens!

I heard the people from the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence on the radio this morning. It’s not a German techno outfit. It’s a real American scientific research centre looking for intelligent life in the universe. It’s exciting. I can’t imagine the hoo-hah if they found something. It might even push Masterchef below the fold.

There could be life in the universe, for sure. But they’re dreaming if they think it will communicate with us. A few reasons:   Continue reading Hello, Aliens!

Verbing weirds language.

Pick someone who rates their grammar skills, and try saying this: “Your rampant pedantry is impacting me negatively.”   

Watch: First their faces grow red. They sputter. Flecks of spit gather like soap scum in the corner of their mouths. Hands shake and reach for their receding hairlines. They suppress the urge to correct. But not for long. “IMPACT is a noun! You can’t ‘impact’ something! It’s WRONG! WRONG!!!”

Then try saying this “Um, chillax dude. Grammar? Like, whatevs.”  Boom.  Splatter.  You have just made a human being explode. 

Continue reading Verbing weirds language.

Something-something and over it

I was passing my lunchtime in a bookshop near my former office when I found a book with the following title:  ‘30-Something and Over It’.

 

I’m not 30-something, but this book was speaking to me.  (Maybe it’s because I have been reading at or above my age-level since that remedial class.) I took the book down and began.  From page one I felt recognition.

I stood there, a non-fiction display shielding me from the bookstore staff’s cold stares, and read about the author’s battle with demotivation.  She told the story of climbing the corporate ladder until one day she woke up with no desire to reach for the next rung.  She lacked the desire to even cling to her rung. She lacked the desire to get out of bed.   Continue reading Something-something and over it

Regrets, I’ve had a few

You know that feeling where you’re angry at yourself? I had that today. About a 10-minute period where I was the worst, dumbest guy I could think of.
Continue reading Regrets, I’ve had a few

Coffee Safari

Like many Melburnians, I secretly consider myself a coffee connoisseur. I’ve drunk a lot of strong flat whites in a lot of different places. I last had instant in 94. I like to go to cafes that will have excellent coffee.

And so, I have spent considerable time immersed in the wisdom of the internet. My distillation of the zillions of on-line debates, references and reviews says that Melbourne’s most-highly regarded coffees are at: Baba Budan and Cafenatics in the city; and St Ali in South Melbourne.

I wanted to try my hand at reviewing the best of the best, so I rang my friend Bill. He imposed one condition on our mission and we met at the GPO. Armed with paper, pencil and a willingness to consume more caffeine than is healthy, we set off. Continue reading Coffee Safari

Lost in Translation

I watched a DVD yesterday. Lost in Translation. I’ve seen it a few times before, and I think it is one of my favourite few films ever.

I was surprised by what I had misremembered about the movie. Continue reading Lost in Translation

More Micronations!

On Tuesday I wrote about sea-steading – establishing new countries on man-made islands. Turns out this isn’t the only way of setting up your own nation. Independence has also been proclaimed for:

The Kingdom of Lovely: A flat in London belonging to Danny Wallace.

KIngdom of Lovely Coat of Arms
Kingdom of Lovely Coat of Arms and its Latin motto, which translates as
‘Have a nice day’.

Continue reading More Micronations!

Futurology

In my last job we worked with a futurologist. She was scatter-brained and Canadian and it was easy to make fun of her field. Boy, we got laughs with our Marty McFly / Doc Brown jokes. Hoverboards anybody?!


But, it’s confession time.  I am continually reminding myself of her principles when I see someone talk about what is definitely going to happen. 
Continue reading Futurology

Don’t like the law? Leave.

There are people who don’t like the laws of the US. They come from Silicon Valley and they are into sea-steading. It’s like Sim-State or Wiki-Jurisdiction. But for real. They plan to make their own countries.
Continue reading Don’t like the law? Leave.

lolcats: threat or menace?

Let’s assume you don’t spend as much time on the internet as I do.  You may have never encountered the wild animal that calls the internet home. The seemingly gentle but veracious beast of the genus lolcat. Continue reading lolcats: threat or menace?

Vigilantes

The Italian Government is endorsing the use of vigilante groups to enforce immigration laws.  One volunteer force, the Italian National Guard, got all excited, went to the uniform shop, and came back looking exactly like Mussolini’s fascist Blackshirts.
 
They’re giving vigilantes everywhere…

 

… a bad name

Continue reading Vigilantes