Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Star Trek XI: Teaser poster released


I know it's probably not that big a deal for you guys, but this is the sort of announcement that makes fanboys like myself crap our collective pants.

To the untrained eye, the poster looks quite innocuous, but to the staunch Trekkie it tells us a lot.

1. The insignia and colour-coding puts it in the mid 23rd century, around the time of the Original Series.
2. The insignia is specific to the USS Enterprise, Command Division, which implies that it will be, at least partially, set aboard the Enterprise (assuming they're not planning on retconning the established heraldry practices of Starfleet in the 23rd century, which isn't impossible).

Conclusions: We're looking at a movie about Kirk and Spock aboard the Enterprise, and that they will be played by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon respectively. Okay, I made that last part up.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Bush stands in the way of freedom... once again - Bush Vetoes Stem Cell Bill As Promised

I have mixed feelings on the subject of "freedom". To be honest, I think real freedom is a myth, a convenient fiction that we use to tell ourselves that we really are in control of our lives, rather than being subject to the mechanics of our brains.

But of course freedom comes in many guises.

The American state was built around the concept of "freedom", specifically a kind of freedom sometimes called "civil liberty" - the right to do whatever you damn-well please as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else.

Personally I think that's a bad idea... only a small percentage of the human species can be trusted with that kind of liberty, the rest will undoubtedly abuse it.

The freedom I'm talking about in the title of this post is the freedom to decide how long you will live.

Up till now, our life-spans have been dictated by, for the most part, natural factors: predators, disease, misfortune and old age. Predators haven't been a problem for some time, but the others remain. That's about to change.

Medical science is reaching a point where it will be so efficient that we will no longer be subject to those factors.

New research is bringing us ever closer to curing life-threatening diseases. On a regular basis, our understanding of cancer is improving, and we're not far off from knowing exactly how to stop it. I anticipate that within 20 years we'll start having some sort of "cancer vaccine" (along with vaccines for nasty viri like HIV, SARS and Ebola). It's just a matter of time.

Medical science is even getting closer to porviding solutions to old age and misfortune... we're only decades away from being able to replace damaged or faulty body parts with new ones grown from our own DNA.

There is one field of research that is central to these impending discoveries: stem cell research.

Why does it not surprise me in the least that the "Leader of the Free World (TM)" has vetoed a bill that would send that research forward in leaps and bounds. Even though Congress passed the bill with just shy of the two thirds majority they would need to override Dubya's veto, that goddam right-wing warmonger won't let the will of the people get in the way of him forcing his own conservative, religious fundamentalist, anti-science agenda down everybody's throats.

Fuck you, George W. Bush. Fuck you very much.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

SCIFI.COM | Who Wants To Be A Superhero?

SCIFI.COM Who Wants To Be A Superhero?

Man, this looks like such a cool show! And the winner gets to be in their own comic book! Sweet!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Hypoallergenic cats

That's right... Hypoallergenic cats.

A California-based company called Allerca has a patent pending for a technique that allows them to produce these genetically modified cats.

People who are allergic to cats are actually allergic to a particular protein which is excreted through their skin and salivary glands. The ALLERCA GD cat has been engineered not to produce that protein, thus rendering them harmless to the allergy sufferer.

The first batch of ALLERGA GD kittens will be shipped in October. At just shy of $4000 (US) per kitten, it's a real bargain!

The Goddam IT Nazis

I know how it happens.

You’re the IT director of a fairly large division of a fairly large corporation. You have a few hundred users coming through your backend using email and the web. You have all the basics: email attachment size limits (set at 10mb… a generous but reasonable size), random spot-checks on surfing habits (just to make sure no-one is downloading full-length movies or gigabytes of porn), an adequate and inexpensive enterprise anti-virus system.

Life is good.

Then some idiot in upper management wants to know where your budget is going. Of course, if you tell him how you’ve spent it on a server for porn, movies, games and music, LCD screens and PDAs for the IT support staff, you’d be in trouble.

So you have to justify all that expense by actually doing something. You set in motion an easy 5-Step Plan.

Step 1: Increase resource utilisation (English translation: ‘Make your staff do some work’). Action a task-team to prioritise a network security plan (Translation: ‘Get your overpaid and underworked IT ninjas to spend 6 months coming up with a list of ways of annoying the users by restricting their usage in-between their daily gaming and porn-viewing times.’)

Step 2: Implement network utilisation strategy (Trans: ‘Prevent users from sending email attachments larger than 3MB regardless of file type or user. This rightfully prevents PAs and bored accounts ladies from sending cutesy PowerPoint slideshows, but simultaneously prevents systems engineers from sharing vital documentation like functional specifications and database table-dumps. Then buy 3 new email servers to increase storage space, and simultaneously decrease the allotted mailbox size of all users by 75%.’)

Step 3: Upgrade network security (Trans: ‘Replace inexpensive, unobtrusive and adequate Anti-Virus software with ridiculously overpriced, useless Anti-Virus software that is so resource-intensive it instantly renders every machine on the domain useless. Block any and all ports that don’t have any immediately apparent purpose, and blatantly refuse to re-open them, even if they are needed for operations.’)

Step 4: Upgrade network infrastructure (Trans: ‘Upgrade all WAN connections from ADSL and Diginet to MPLS so that everyone can fail to do their jobs with better bandwidth, and so that the useless Anti-Virus can update itself even more prolifically.’)

Step 5: Implement web restriction policy (Trans: ‘Prevent users from gaining access to the few websites that relieve the tedium of their work-days because those sites look too much like porn, music, violence, free-thinking, entertainment or news which might result in reducing a user’s productivity… thus forcing users to spend their time playing solitaire or producing cutesy PowerPoint slideshows just small enough to email. Also, prevent systems engineers from communicating with their counterparts in remote areas and various international support desks via IM or VoIP networks, forcing them to use the company’s phones instead, at far greater cost’)

So, at the end of this process, you have not only justified the expense, you have also doubled the organisation’s IT budgetary requirements, and created jobs by increasing the amount of personnel (and hardware) required to do the simplest tasks.

Good job! You can go home to your family knowing that you have made a difference... right after calling the AA to rescue you after finding your car tyres slashed, obscenities spraypainted on every body panel and a small pile of what appears to be human feces on the driver's seat.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Why No One Want Make Hulk 2? | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

Why No One Want Make Hulk 2? The Onion - America's Finest News Source

I couldn't agree more. I thouroughly enjoyed the Hulk movie. It wasn't perfect, but it was daring in its presentation, and treated the Hulk character with the sensitivity he needs.

I really hope we'll get a sequel... basing it on the look and feel of the first film, but fixing the dodgy plot elements, a second movie with a real super-villian in it could be really awesome.

While I'm on the subject, see Superman Returns. It was awesome too. I'm hoping that it represents a rebirth of the franchise, and we'll see a few more of those in the coming years.

What I'd like to see there is Superman coming up against some of the super-powered adversaries he's faced in the comics... Lex Luther will always be his nemesis, but the "Hey Superman, I've got some Kryptonite" thing gets old.

What about Metallo, or the Parasite, or Braniac? Hell, even Doomsday could make an awesome first installment of a 'Reign of the Supermen' trilogy... they've already got a character lined up to take the Superboy spot (imagine what they could do with Steel and the Cyborg Superman with CGI).

I think that's a recurring issue with most comic-based movies. In translating the character to a new medium, Hollywood producers tend to abandon the awesome story-lines in the comics in favour of bastardised, cliche-infested, regurgitated nonsense.

The most notable exception to that is of course The Hulk, but the Spider-man movies have done a pretty good job of keeping it real.

I think the X-men movies could have been much better if they had stayed closer to the comic stories... there are so many brilliant story-lines in the comics that would make excellent movies... why change them?

Can you imagine how cool it could've been to have the proper Phoenix Saga in a movie, instead of the watered-down version we saw in "Last Stand"? Not that X3 wasn't cool, but it could've been so much cooler.

And another thing... how did Ghost Rider get his own movie before Iron Man? Don't get me wrong, the Ghost Rider movie looks like it's going to be brilliant, but surely Iron Man is a far more popular character? The Iron Man movie practically writes itself!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Last Thursday Hide’s colleagues invited us out to drinks in honour of her birthday. Cool.
Afterwards, in the parking lot, I had reversed out of my parking bay, and was turning my wheels so as to begin pulling off when we felt a sharp jolt. Some idiot woman had reversed into me.

(Battle Begins:
01: 100Health Points, 100Attack Points
Idiot Woman: 100HP, 100AP)

(Idiot Woman: “Drunken Cellphone Reverse Attack!” -10AP)

I leapt out and quickly inspected the damage. I didn’t see any at first until a bouncer, who had seen it happen, pointed out that my bumper was hanging loose on the other side. There was also a little dent in the body panel under the left tail-light cluster. There was a tiny dent on her rear fender… not as bad as mine. (Idiot Woman: -10HP; 01: -25HP)

The idiot woman was profuse in her apologies (01: +5AP). We exchanged details, I photographed the scene (01: +1AP), and collected details from the bouncer (01: +5AP) and, after securing the loose bumper with a shoelace, we went on our way.

On Friday I took my car in for a quote from the panel beater, which turned out considerably higher than I expected (01: -25HP).

I weighed up my options and eventually decided to go ahead and claim from my insurance. I made an appointment for a damage assessment.

I went to the assessment today. I decided not to mention that she was drunk and using her cellphone when it happened, because I hadn’t seen those things myself… although I did have witnesses to those facts, should the need arise. They contacted her to obtain her insurance details… they would need them in order to recoup my excess.

(01: “Insurance Consultant Enquiry Attack!” -5AP)

She refused to give her details. She claimed that she was not at fault, and that she wanted to contact me to discuss it.

(Idiot Woman: “Denial Defense!”)

The consultant assured me that their legal department would handle it and reimburse me my excess eventually, but I can see this is going to be a difficult one.

I have a full arsenal of weapons up my sleeve: the “+20 Witness of Drunkenness and Cellphone Usage”, my five “+20 Witnesses of Me Not Drinking a Drop” and my “+5 Photos of Accident Scene”… not to mention my secret weapon: my “+200 Most Amazing Girlfriend in the Universe Who is an Attorney and a Witness”.

I’m quite confident that I’ll win this one, I just wish it didn’t have to be a battle. I just want my car to be fixed… it’s bad enough I’m going to have to go without it for however long it’ll take to fix, but I don’t want to have to pay for it as well.

Friday, July 07, 2006

David Icke Interview: Aliens among us

David Icke Interview: Aliens among us

Oi... another idiot who doesn't know how to translate Hebrew.

I love his talk about "bloodlines"... what appears not to have taken into account is that everyone, everywhere has royal ancestry... does that mean we're all aliens?


Skiers Get d3o-Based 'Impact Suits': Science Fiction in the News

Skiers Get d3o-Based 'Impact Suits': Science Fiction in the News

Yeah baby! I need one of these for Paintball!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


This is a subject that seems to recur regularly on the Mensa mailing list.

Why is it socially acceptable to brag about certain things, but not about others?

If I were a talented athlete with a preference for rugby, it would be practically expected that I engage in a career of professional sport. My aptitude for the sport would make me a shoe-in, and no-one would think it at all strange or unfair that I got to play for a professional team.

Meeting people socially, it would be expected that I talk about rugby, and share my experiences and knowledge of the professional rugby scene with anyone I met. People would read magazine articles about me and fanatics would memorise statistics detailing my performance.

Being a professional musician is much the same. Or even an amateur one. It doesn’t seem at all arrogant when musicians discuss their artistic achievements or innovations. We buy their CDs and marvel at their genius with as much enthusiasm as sports-fans watch game after game after game.

So why is it that intelligent people aren’t able to talk about their intelligence without coming off as pompous?

Look at these examples:

“I can bench-press 150kg.”

“I have an IQ of 150.”

The usual response to the first one of these is “Wow, where do you train?” or something to that effect. The usual response to the second is silence and an unspoken “Oooo… big deal! You think you’re so smart!”

Another set of examples: in a workplace situation it’s not unusual for a co-worker to ask “What are you doing tonight?” Below are three responses to that question.

1. “I’m going to hit the gym… tonight it’s back and shoulders with a bit of cardio. I’m on this new program I got from Fitness magazine. I’ve improved my BMI significantly.”

2. “I’ve got band-practice. We’re getting ready for a gig next Saturday. You should come check it out. It’s at that new club on Smith street.”

3. “Tonight is our monthly Mensa meeting. There’s a guest speaker from the Astronomy department at Wits University coming to give us a talk on Extrasolar Planets.”

Is it my imagination, but does only the third one come off as arrogant?

I understand that as soon as you mention a quantifiable fact that indicates that you might be more intelligent than the person you’re talking to, they get intimidated and envious. I certainly experience that.

But why do we experience that when it comes to intelligence, but not sports ability?

I don’t see any difference in the two: your genes determine whether you have an aptitude for either one or not. Either one can be worked on and improved, or neglected and allowed to stagnate.

I don’t have the physique of an athlete… it’s a simple fact. My arms and legs are hopelessly out of proportion with my body – I’m just not built for running, lifting, jumping, swimming or anything like that. It’s a fact I came to terms with at a very young age. That doesn’t mean I can’t do those things at all, it just means that it’s more difficult for me to do them than someone who is a natural athlete.

With discipline and a lot of hard work I could probably achieve a level of mediocrity in some or other sport, but I’d probably never be considered good at it.

Because of that, I’d probably be perfectly justified in being envious of professional athletes – they can do something with ease that I would struggle to do, if at all. But I’m not.

Yet I (and other Mensans) frequently encounter envy from people we deal with. For that reason, many Mensans choose not to disclose the fact that they are such. A pity.

The irony is that most of the people I work and socialise with (and whose envy I have to put up with) would easily pass the Mensa exam if they tried. It makes sense: because I am so intelligent, I tend to gravitate towards jobs that require intelligence and circles of people who are also intelligent.

Perhaps as a result of low self esteem, my brainy compatriots don’t believe they could pass the test, or are too afraid to try in case they fail.

Perhaps the negative stigma comes from ignorance: everyone knows you can improve your physical performance through exercise, but maybe people just don’t know that it’s just as easy to improve your mental performance (called “cognitive reserve”) through exercise as well.

Of course, as with physical exercise, your maximum potential is limited by your brain’s capacity, which varies from person to person. But there’s no reason why each of us can’t exceed our current capability.

WorldWide Religious News-Welcome to real world, judge tells head Raelian

WorldWide Religious News-Welcome to real world, judge tells head Raelian

Bwahaha! This guy wielding a special kind of crazy who stole some ideas from Sitchin and started a cult has been put in his place by a Canadian judge.

(I have blogged about him before here.)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Heidi's Hideout: Finally, it's here!

Heidi's Hideout: Finally, it's here!

The Most Amazing Girlfriend in the Universe just got more amazing... she's now also a published poet!

Monday, July 03, 2006

The world's biggest meteor crater -

The world's biggest meteor crater -

This country never ceases to amaze me. When someone told me about this the other day I dismissed it as a fiction or an error... there was no way it could be true without me knowing about it.

I was wrong.

Today, while playing with Google Earth, I happened to notice a clear and distinct crater ring around the town of Parys... so I Googled "Parys crater" and lo and behold... the Free State Province is indeed home to the oldest and largest clearly visible meteor impact crater in the world!

And I thought Tswaing was cool!