Lazy Luddite Log

28.4.06

Mnemonics

Some memes are also mnemonics - concepts that assist in the remembering of more complex concepts. The slogan 'Which Bank?' reminds millions of Australians that the Commonwealth Bank is somehow the best bank to go to. Here is a memory exercise given to school children to hopefully help them be safer and more self-assured:

Trace your open hand on a sheet of paper. Now on each finger and thumb write the name of someone in your life who you can trust to go to for help or to discuss your problems with. Stick your traced hand with the five names on your wall.

I wonder if this may be a useful exercise for adults also.

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Memes nothing to me...

Sorry for the silly title but hey with any luck that phrase will propagate like a virus across the Internet! Memes: Concepts that transmit between both living and non-living carriers of information. It can be anything from a slogan to a song but for many the word refers to formats or templates for personal writing on blogs and live journals. The ones I have seen recently on other blogs tend to ask the writer to explore themselves as a person.

I always wanted to say...

One such meme asks writers to think of ten people in their personal life to whom they feel there are things they want to say but for whatever reason feel they cannot. You are instructed to write those things you want to say to others but in such a way that they cannot be identified by what is written. Of course whether they can be identified depends on the specific content of the writing and how well a reader knows both the writer and the persons to whom they refer. Having looked at some such writings by disparate friends of mine (from some very different settings and contexts) I have a strong hunch I can identify some of the subjects. And if I can then I bet the subjects themselves can recognise that it is they who have been written about. So if they can identify themselves and if the test is there for the world to see then how is this different from giving them the message that is too difficult to give?

It is cathartic. I personally think that it may be just as cathartic if it were written in a private medium such as a traditional journal. Or it may be just as cathartic to tell these things to a few close friends. And it feels safer to do these things than to tell the person for whom the message is truly intended. The emotions involved in a direct communication or the consequences of giving that person the opportunity to respond may be too challenging to be worth risking. But this halfway house of telling the world via the Internet puzzles me. Is the answer that the level of catharsis grows if we think that many others (even strangers) are sharing it? Or is it that we secretly hope that the subjects of our writings will get to see it?

Those things that make life worthwhile...

Another meme asks writers to list ten 'simple pleasures' they value in life. Of those I have observed everyone names eating (whether particular foods or in general) and sex (always in general) but I was wondering why nobody names sleep! Come on! This is something you get an overpowering desire to have every day and if you miss it you get very dismayed. Imagine - you have had some lovely nosh followed by some superb nooky but now I crash into your home (say I am the host of a new reality TV show entitled 'Sleepless') and subject you to sleep deprivation torture: How do you feel? Depending on how long I deprive you of sleep you may start hallucinating yourself screwing your favourite fillet mignon! But it will be sleep that you want (I am a bit short of sleep right now so that may be why this post has a different feel from my standard writings).

To finish off let me propose a new meme: 1. Go to the blog or live journal of someone other than yourself - it can even be the site of a stranger chosen at random. 2. Examine that blog or journal till you feel you have a satisfactory sense of who that person is. 3. Make a list of the ten things that you think are of most importance to that person. 4. Send them your list asking them if it is accurate (optional). 5. Get some sleep after spending too long online.

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26.4.06

Movie Extra

On the weekend I was roped into becoming an extra in an amateur movie by the name of Malfuction. The movie-to-be is a kind of comedy with a quirky Australian feel to it and the scenes we did were shot at Monash Uni in what was once the Biomed Library (now totally refurbished as offices). It was one of those things that happen as the result of "a friend of a friend" and it was an interesting way to spend an afternoon (besides which I get a credit and an invitation to the opening night - yay!). All most of us had to do was be in the background in an office and at an office party. There was a definite plan but some aspects were also ad-lib. And there was a lot of sitting around between scenes.

It got me thinking a bit more on how movies are made and how much is planned and how much is done on the fly. The impression I get is that most (professional) movies are planned to minute degree. But even some major films have improvised elements. A few days ago I saw The Party on telly and apparently huge swathes of that classic Peter Sellers movie were semi-improvised. They did the unusual thing of filming all the party scenes in chronological order so that all the actors had a strong sense of what had been happening so far with their characters and could therefore improvise specific actions more realistically. I saw it as a kid and loved it then and it is still fun now. I want to go to a party like that!

Update

On Saturday 15 July I went to the screening of the completed Malfunction at a hotel in Kensington. There were a few others I knew there (via MonUCS) who had also been bit-part extras. It was a fun evening and a funny movie. Partly it was funny to see familiar faces in a film. More importantly it was funny because it was supposed to be a good old comedy of errors. For me it was like a cross between the 'Dilbert' comic and an old 'Carry On' movie. I have a pretty simplistic sense of humour so it worked well for me and was a good way to fill an otherwise empty Saturday night.

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17.4.06

Barnyard Bob Fast Food: A Comedy Sketch

Our scene opens in a franchise fast food restaurant by the name of 'Baryard Bob Family Restaurant'. It is late at night and there is just one customer in shot sitting at a table drinking coffee. We cannot see the face of the customer due to them reading a complimentary newspaper. Another customer comes into shot and walks to the counter. Behind the counter are three Barnyard Bob staff. The one on the right is a cow (or rather someone in a cow costume). The one in the middle is a pig (or rather someone in a pig costume). The one on the left is a chicken (or rather someone in a chicken costume). The customer looks at the menu on the wall behind them pondering what to order...

Pig: What would you like to order?

Customer: There is so much to choose from... hmmm...

Cow: I can recommend the Chicken Cheese & Bacon Burger!

Both the Chicken and the Pig look alarmed at this comment...

Chicken: Excuse me but you would enjoy the Beef Egg & Ham Burger far more!

Now the Cow and the Pig look alarmed...

Cow: That burger is stringy and overcooked! The Chicken Cheese & Bacon Burger on the other hand is a tasty quality dish and I can personally attest to how nice the cheese is!

Once more the Chicken and the Pig look distressed...

Chicken: What a lot of bulldust! That burger is undercooked and salmonella-ridden. But the Beef Egg & Ham Burger is a hearty and nourishing feast of a burger fit for a king. And let me tell you the eggs are to die for!

Once more the Cow and the Pig look distressed...

Customer: Look I've gone off both those burgers, what else can you recommend?

Pig: Well you will definitely enjoy our limited-time-only Lamb Souvlaki on a fresh-baked pita wrap!

All three staff smile hopefully at this...

Customer: That sounds good - give me one of those with chips and cola!

Just then the sitting customer lowers the newspaper and glares in shock at the others - we see that the sitting customer is in fact a sheep (or rather someone in a sheep costume). The scene fades to black...

Disclaimer: The sole purpose of this sketch is to amuse. Any use it may have as vegetarian propaganda is purely coincidental. The author is an omnivore.

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10.4.06

My New Politics Test

Those who have known me a while may know that I am on a mission to free the world from the mind-shackling meme of the 'left-wing versus right-wing' scale in politics. Now I have a new tool in this mission - an automated on-line test which allocates one of over twenty political labels to those taking it. You can take it too!

Take the test: Political Objectives Test

I hope it is informative and even amusing. In the descriptions I try to show that every position makes sense from a given mindset. However I also try to suggest that there are contraditions and drawbacks in all the positions (some moreso than others). And most importantly I hope to demonstrate that there are significant degrees of overlap between the many different political movements.

Catagory Descriptions

For your interest I include here a link to all the catagory descriptions on the test so you have a sense of what you compare with. I had such fun writing these descriptions (as well as the question statements) and I hope you enjoy them too.

Originality Of Test

Nothing under the Sun is entirely new. Nonetheless the feedback I get is that my test is much more distinctive than most politics tests in particular because it focuses on ideological underpinnings rather than issues. There is only one other on-line project I have come across that uses similar concepts - the LEO Test which uses the same three principles and then seeks to identify particular key-words utilised by the proponents of those principles so that the true identity of politicians can be determined by finding frequency of those key-words in speeches and public statements (of course any well-informed political actor can always study this and change the words they use but still it is a worthwhile exercise).

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3.4.06

Two Gigs Night

One night last week I went to two gigs. This is unusual as on most nights of my life I will have gone to 1 or 0 gigs. These two gigs were very different in a number of respects...

Nuclear Free Benefit

I attended a benefit for Nuclear Free Australia (NFA) held at the Corner Hotel in Richmond (an excellent bands venue). The event started with the screening of the documentary 'Blowin' in the Wind' by David Bradbury which reports on the use of Depleted Uranium (DU) in munitions during the Gulf War and the possibility of use of DU in munitions in coming military training exercises in outback Australia. Needless to say it was a tad depressing.

This however was followed by some decent live bands such as Bomba and Blue King Brown which improved spirits considerably. The predominantly feral crowd seemed to enjoy the reggae on tap which is hardly surprising given the unique way that reggae can be both relaxed and subversive at the same time. It was a successful funds and awareness promoting event but I had to nick off part way into it to get to another gig...

Burlesque Show

I then went off to a bar in Fitzroy for the performance of a burlesque artist by the stage name of Lola the Vamp. The performer herself is excellent. It helps that she is very photogenic. But more importantly she seemed to be an expert at the artform. The nature of the performance was such that your attention was drawn to more than just... um... T&A. A particular facial expression or a precise movement of a fan all contributed to the interest of the show. It was evocative and charming and funny all at once. The only criticism I can make of the performance itself is that it was too short (but then the door charge was low).

The context of the show however detracted from its effectiveness. It was held in a dingy venue. The audience of mostly goths was too small (there may have been only a dozen of us). They were a supportive audience but I feel that better numbers may have improved the atmosphere. The performances were accompanied by old-time music (lots of piano accordian) but betweeen sets the venue played full-on electronic music which just jarred for me.

I suppose my problem is that I have absorbed too much from the Zeitgeist regarding the setting and atmosphere of such shows. I imagine an 'intimate' yet well-attended venue with everyone at small candle-lit tables dressed for the night and throwing flowers at the stage at the end of the show (these days OH&S may have something to say about that). It may be that one just cannot get that kind of thing these days. From what I can garner a lot of burleque is now attached by necessity to the goth scene. That makes some sense and will give it a context in which to persist. But burlesque was once a performance art for the masses and I wonder if attaching it to a particular scene will ultimately limit its populatity.

Still I have never been to anything like it so it was a worthwhile thing to do. Next time I will have to test those OH&S rules and bring some flowers with which to pelt the stage!

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