Archive | January, 2006

brain drain

31 Jan

brain drain

Australia has a serious water shortage problem.

Seriously though, a 4 minute shower? I tried it this morning, and I made it, but it worries me. Australia is going to become a cultural wasteland if everybody has 4 minute showers. You have your best ideas in the shower, and four frantic minutes is not going to put you in the relaxed frame of mind that you need to have your best ideas. If everyone in the country has 4 minute showers, no one is going to come up with that brilliant idea for solving the country’s water woes.


a gift to be respected, and feared

30 Jan

Fear of Girls

Pretty amusing 11 minute mockumentary called Fear of Girls about a couple of Dungeons and Dragons diehards.

4 to 8 thousandths of an inch

29 Jan

An interesting article on how meditation (specifically vipassana) has been shown to increase brain size.

Project Runwalk

28 Jan

We don’t watch much tv anymore at chez Concur; but what we do watch is delivered almost exclusively by the internet, letting us neatly sidestep the vast wasteland of Australian free-to-air television. (Imagine my horror when I arrived in Australia 1992 and discovered that there were only 5 television stations here, and that the most popular show at the time was an evening variety program co-hosted by a man and a hand puppet named ‘Ozzie Ostrich’.)

At the moment we’re preoccupied with Project Runway and it’s nascent British version Project Catwalk. If you’re unfamiliar with either of them, the premise is that a group of unknown fashion designers is given a design challenge each week that culminates in a runway walkoff, scoring, and an elimination. In some respects the shows are identical, but it’s the differences between them which are kind of fascinating.

Project Runway

Project Runway

Project Catwalk

Project Catwalk

Runway is hosted by Heidi Klum and Catwalk is hosted by Elizabeth Hurley. I spent much of the first episode of Project Catwalk freaking out because Elizabeth Hurley’s mannerisms reminded me of every Hugh Grant movie I’ve ever seen.

The American version is actually easier to watch because Project Catwalk uses a lot of very rapid cutting and is generally too frentic during the workroom scenes; it is almost impossible to see the clothes properly until they appear on the catwalk at the end of the show.

Culturally the British version is much more relaxed about smoking, drinking and modest nudity, while in the American version these things are (for the most part, unless they are strongly relevant to the challenge) judiciously edited out or pixelated into oblivion.

Of the two, Project Runway seems to more skillfully extract and distill the weeks’ events into drama. Project Catwalk has only had 2 episodes so far, so perhaps it gets more engaging as we get to know the designers a little better. Project Runway also has much more tech cred, with a fully loaded website and a weekly podcast from Tim Gunn; Project Catwalk fans have to make due with a 4 page brochure website, cooked up as an afterthought.

A comment on Ben’s site alerted me to the fact that a couple of the Project Runway contestants have weblogs: Santino Rice and Diana Eng.

Images of American Cities

27 Jan


Workman, perched on the end of a beam, bolting together the framework of the Empire State Building, New York City, 1930.


Residents in front of a dilapidated frame house in Kansas City, ca. 1900

Smartly dressed couple seated on an 1886-model bicycle for two. The South Portico of the White House, Washington, D.C., in the background.


There are some terrific photographs in that collection; they’re organised loosely around the notion of the ‘city life’, but I think in a lot of cases little more was known about the subject of the photographs than the city it was taken in.


23 Jan

Yesterday as part of Nic‘s birthday extravaganza, I went rock-climbing for the first time in, mmm, gosh I really am getting old now (that’s code for ‘more than 10 years’). In any case, after a while I came to the realisation that I was really having quite a lot of fun climbing up very tall walls, in spite of the fact that my fingers were protesting loudly that they’d rather be with a keyboard, my forearms were rythmically shaking from adrenaline, and the toes on my right foot were all occupying the same 2 centimeters at the end of my climbing shoe.

So now I think it would be kind of fun to go climbing again on a semi-regular basis. My forearms, shoulders and back will thank me, in time.

In other news, I woke up last night to some strange noises, noted that the time was exactly 2:00 am, and got up to do the perimeter shuffle. I heard some more strange poping noises and something that looked a bit like fireworks. After a while the fireworks didn’t stop though, so I went outside and discoved one of the street lamps near our house on fire. The neighbours were up too. It was kind of like a block pajama party, except that everyone quietly shuffled off inside when the fire department arrived.

Thrill Jockey

22 Jan
One Bedroom

I bought One Bedroom by The Sea and Cake a few days ago and have really been enjoying it. The Thrill Jockey site is excellent. They provide previews of a huge amount of stuff in their catalog and digital downloads without any digital rights management nonsense. And when you make a online purchase you are thrown to a picture of their office being manned by dogs; very reasurring.

I’ve also discovered some great music blogs lately: