Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My girlfriend finds child abuse funny?

Why else would she take such delight in inundating me with deluges of creationist propaganda every time I see her?

Regular tolerators of my ramblings ought to recall my late birthday present - a creationist DVD that liberally plagarised both Jurassic Park and the X-Files in its flaccid attempt at indoctrinating children to creation 'science'.

I watched that video, with the intention of getting a good blog entry out of it, but it was so mind-numbingly awful to watch, and so painfully, gleefully, and willfully ignorant, that I was too filled with despair to poke fun at an absurd ideology.

During my last trip to my girlfriend's abode, there was a similar occurrence; I had just dropped my bags and settled into the bedroom after my journey, when all of a sudden she spun towards me, her voice took on the cadence of a mother trying to coax her stubborn child into eating something healthy.

"I got you a present!" she sang at me with nervous excitement.

For what?, I asked her, wondering if I had forgotten another birthday.

"You'll see!" she cooed once more, before making a dumb sounding "hur hur hur".

With the same frantic excitement that she had announced my present, she bounded to a corner of her room, then threw two children's books on the bed.

I had a look:

"Hur hur hur"

"Tee hee hee"

Son of a bitch! If I hadn't noticed Ken Ham's name, or the use of italics on the cover of 'What Really Happened the Dinosaurs', it's possible I wouldn't have realised what a vile work I held in my hands. I showed it to my brother (who recently became a father), and he wondered what was worth showing him - if I was some religious nut trying to pervert my nephew's scientific upbringing, this book would have slipped past the parental surveillance. Crafty creationist pricks.

I've had the books in my possession about a month now, but as the creationist rhetoric is so unimaginative (and inherently flawed), I only opened them now. Here are a few choice quotes, I'll let you play spot the fallacious argument:

[Page 12: WRHTD]
When Did Dinosaurs Live?
Some scientists think that dinosaurs lived millions of years ago, long before humans lived on the earth. But the Bible tells us the real story.

[Page 21: WRHTD]
When the Flood did come, only [Noah's] own family was saved. All of the other people drowned. You see, boys and girls, it is very important to believe God's Word. We can be very thankful that we have God's Word today - the Bible.

[Page 22: WRHTD]
Did Dinosaurs Go on Noah's Ark?
I do not think God would have brought the biggest, oldest dinosaurs on the Ark. He probably sent strong, young ones that would have babies after the Flood. Remember that many dinosaurs were not very large when they were grown, and all of them were small when they were young [...] Creation scientists [...] have shown that there was plenty of room in the Ark for all the kinds of animals God sent to Noah.

[Page 29: WRHTD]
What Happened to the Dinosaurs?
[Illustration of a medieval knight on a horse, attacking a raptor]
What do you think this knight is about to do? Yes, kill a dinosaur. It is very possible some dinosaurs were killed by hunters. Perhaps stories like "St. George and the Dragon" are really true stories of someone killing a monster like a dinosaurs. For these reasons, it seems that all (or almost all) of the dinosaurs are now dead.

[Page 30: WRHTD]
Will We Ever See a Live Dinosaur?
Well... maybe. There are some scientists who think that there may be a real live dinosaur living in a dark jungle in Africa.

'Noah's Ark Noah's Flood' seems geared towards older children who have already drank the Kool-Aid, as it's both more text heavy and more preachy, (so it's not as much fun to copy text from)

There's money to be made in selling bullshit to people. Ken Ham's cottage industry of creationist propaganda had netted him his own museum. This man has a museum:

My girlfriend is getting into town in two days, and while I'm very excited to see her - I'm a little afraid as to what she's got in store for me this time.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Misadventures in Twitter

I signed up for Twitter at the same time as a few of my friends, but six months later, few of them are tweeting regularly - indeed, some of them haven't done anything on Twitter since that first week of use. After lamenting at @jmeehan5's lack of tweeting, he scoffed at what a pointless waste of time Twitter was - my response was an unsure "I've found uses for it", but I didn't have any examples to hand.

I've been on twitter since March, and according to my profile page, I've posted 201 tweets, follow 50 users, and have 43 followers (I gave up on pruning the spammers over a month ago). As is typical of this misanthropic blogger, I've engaged little with other Twitterers - only partly because I'm not entirely au fait with the lingo and etiquette, yet I've found uses for Twitter that no other web service (that I'm aware of ) can match:

Manual Videogame Matchmaking
Since getting a decent broadband connection I've been enjoying online gaming on my Xbox 360, and when my friends aren't in the mood for a game, it's rarely difficult to get a game going with randomers since most developers appreciate how difficult it is for gamers to make acquaintances. Since Halo 3:ODST's multiplayer mode didn't come with a matchmaking system, I used twitter to find some playmates:

I got about six replies, and after suffering through ten minutes of a game with a piss-poor connection, I threw in the towel. Chalk it up as a failure, but ten minutes of gameplay with a shoddy connection was better than what I'd have got without Twitter, and once the number of people around me with Twitter / Xboxes increases, so will my chances of finding a suitable match. [Sure, I could have gone to a gaming forum, but that'd require registration and hassle!]

Tapping into your social brain
I didn't do so well with maths in school, and even though I can manage numbers in my head fine, I'm functionally retarded when it comes to theorems and formulas and whatnot. So last week, when I needed a smart person to help with a matter at work, I asked Twitter, knowing that my intelligent friends would be able to steer me right.

The problem arose from a missing invoice - €827.50 was paid for X amount of goods @ €6.50, and Y amount at €4.50, how could I figure it out how much of X and Y were needed?

I got 5 responses - 1 from a non-follower who was interested in the hashtag. Each reply told me that my equation made no sense, and didn't help my problem all that much, but it gave me hope for any future legitimate mathematical quandaries I may find myself in (perhaps once I bone up on my maths language).

Reading the [potential] customer's mind
After bemoaning how Floola turned 14.3GB of my iPod's HDD space from 'Music' to 'Other' on Twitter one evening, I got a response from CopyTrans, shilling their alternative software:

Useful? Potentially - I didn't bother to click the link they sent, but being able to see what internet users are saying about yours and your competitor's products online is a boon for any business.

Appreciating those stalwart bloggers
Okay, indulge me on this one - after noticing an additional flurry of hits on my blog from strange places, I saw that it was because @NiallOK took a shine to my post about Matthew McConaughey's campaign to lean against every woman in Hollywood and shared it on Twitter:

I got quite a kick out of seeing this, which was amplified by seeing the people who were kind enough to propagate it. As a blogger, this kind of genuine reaction to a blog entry shows me that shorter blog entries that can be appreciated by more people with less investment will get shared, but five-thousand-word, self-indulgent, esoteric rants about how stupid the word 'sweater' is just turn people off coming back... But where's the fun in that?

Tomorrow, as an early Christmas present to my regular readers, I'll post part one of my 4,000 word treatise on the absurdity of manners! [I kid!]

Monday, December 14, 2009

New York With a Vengeance.

Since my rushed trip planning had left me with an obscenely (and unnecessarily) long layover in Newark airport, I decided I'd have to venture into New York, New York to somehow glean some enjoyment out of the sucky part of a trip to see the other participant in a long-distance relationship.

A few days before the end of the trip, as the ladyfriend was piloting her car through some heavy snowfall on the way home from Chicago, I decided to let her in on my ulterior motive for venturing into Manhattan.

"The first time I went to New York, I made an album on Bebo, and I called it: 'New York'".

"Makes sense."

"So when I went the second time, I made a second album on Bebo, and I called it: 'New York 2: New Yorker'"


She seemed more concerned with the slippery road than my clever Internet antics, so I decided to step up my pitch.

"So do you want to guess what the next album is going to be called?"

"Nope. No idea."

"It's going to be called..."- I paused for effect -"...New York With a Vengeance!"


"Because it's clever!"

"No - it's pretty stupid actually."

That was the day I learnt that making allusions to the Die Hard Quadrilogy in front of my girlfriend would only serve to amuse myself (not that it'll impact on the amount I do so).

Back to the story - after a painless train journey, I arrived at Penn Station in New York - the starting point of a previous (wider-eyed) trek around the big apple.

I decided to restrict my wandering around in the rain to 180 minutes, which would leave me 3 hours to return to the airport and get my flight (overcautious, I know), and since I wasn't feeling particularly ambitious about making it up to 112th Street for my Seinfeld pilgrimage, I figured I'd plod around the tourist hotspots and take some crappy pictures on my mobile phone to show that I'd been there.

On the way towards Times Square, I stopped to look in the odd electronics shop window at their dodgy wares:

It's the small differences - center, color, shuffel

Since it was still pissing rain by the time I got to Time Square, I decided to stop into Toys 'R' Us for a gawk.

Cool! There's Superman holding up a truck!

A dinosaur! Neat! Now what?

After a photoless trip over to Rockefeller Center in a half-assed attempt at finding the Nintendo Store, I wandered back towards Times Square, hoping to find a public restroom along the way.

On the walk over, I managed to pass a young, moderately attractive woman dressed as a toilet dancing outside a building without investigating further, so I decided that now was the time to launch a full inquiry.

Charmin, the purveyors of quality toilet paper and animated arse-wiping bears had a building taken over and filled with toilets for the purposes of staging day-long poopenannies. After negotiating your way past the dancing toilet into the main door, you're greeted by the door-lady who is dancing along to the Charmin theme-tune, then ushered onto the escalator ride, in which you're subjected to posters displaying playful puns on defecation, whilst trying not to dance along to the infectious piped in music yourself.

Once at the top of the escalator, we were funnelled along the (empty) queueing lane, passing the excitable staff who were asking things like "Who's excited to go poop today?".

Eventually I got to my own stall, which was quite the well-stocked lavatory - it had four types of Charmin toilet paper, quality paper towels, and an iPod that was blasting out the Offspring's Smash when I entered.

I flicked through most of the iPod's offerings of contemporary rock and pop songs - trying not to think about the amount of e coli that surely lay on the buttons - then I settling on Billie Jean as the song to relax my sphincter to.

"Right" - I psyched myself up - "let's get down to business." I removed my jacket and turned to the door, expecting to find a coak-hook (a much-appreciated staple of US restrooms), but found none - how could the Charmin Restroom engineers, when designing toilets to grant the greatest end-user experience, decide to include an iPod but not a coat-hook? I was going to give them quite the critique when they asked me about how I found the process..

What's wrong with this picture?

Once I had left the confines of the cubicle, I was invited to rate my level of satisfaction. Now was my chance! Give them hell, O'Sullivan! I was shown a touchscreen computer, and instructed to touch one of the cartoon bears on the screen. After realizing that none of the bears depicted were puzzling over where the coat-hook was, I sheepishly hit the cartwheeling bear and shuffled along. The game was rigged.

Dotted around the path leading to the exit were iMacs encouraging users to log onto Facebook & Twitter and discuss their experiences. Internet and toilet access without having to part with cash? I normally have to lie to get either most places I go. These Charmin guys are a progressive people.

Before leaving the building, I was quite troubled by the last room - essentially a studio with a glass door, labelled "Canfessional - Share how you enjoy the go". I can only imagine it's used as a perverse human aquarium for the enjoyment of sick voyeurs with fecal-fetishes, but it was sadly unused on the day I visited:

After leaving the Charmin restrooms on Times Square, I dawdled little before getting back for my train. All in all, it was a worthwhile sojourn into the city, but it was another saddening example of me venturing into a foreign city chock-full of culture and arts - only to spend my limited time checking out the local crappers.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Nomination for Blog Entry of the Year 2009

1. Watch this trailer for a horrible, horrible film.

2. See what Fin has to say on the matter.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

"A Visit to the Hairdresser's" - Part II


When I shared my lament about how tortuous I find the obligatory chit-chat with barbers, it was before I had strolled past a stall at a Milwaukee mall shilling 'As-Seen-On-TV' Contraptions and noticed the 'Aircut' product.

Just now, as I was responding to the comments on that post, I thought it would be appropriate to make a reference to it, so I Googled my way over to the website:

The website is filled with the usual hilarity associated with these TV offers:

Stock photos used to show that it's suitable for just about everybody!

Graphs to show you that you can't afford not to use the product!

Overly effusive testimonies extolling the virtues of the product! (Interestingly, 7 out of 9 testimonies are from Wisconsin based users - could it be that the inventor's family and friends have kind words to share?)

Some 'hard sell' copy that really stretches to fill the 'Top 10 reasons to get this product' list...

Hang on a tick...

No more conversing with barbers? Let me just get my credit card.

A Trip to the Airport

Dear reader, please do bear with me over the next few hundred words as I grapple with a lexicon ill-equipped for describing positive experiences.

Whilst booking my quarterly visit to the ladyfriend (if only this was an exaggeration), I hastily selected the flight on Expedia that offered a bargain-basement fare, and presented little hassle on the outward journey. Being the half-witted twit that I am, I didn’t realise the queasiness-inducing heinousness of the return journey until a few weeks before departure:

My flight was scheduled to leave Milwaukee at 6.20am, which meant arriving at the airport at 4.20am, which knackered not only a night’s sleep but also the prospect of enjoying my last evening of the trip without worrying about getting up in the morning.

When I called Continental Airlines to try and reschedule the flight, they told me it’d cost $250 – I decided that mine and the ladyfriend’s sleep wasn’t worth that much, and decided to suck it up. I then began retrofitting a silver lining onto the dark cloud by proclaiming that I would chip away at the 10 hour layover in Newark by venturing into New York for the day. What fun I was going to have!

As I had lost the debate to eschew guidelines and arrive a mere hour before takeoff, I awoke some time around 3.30am to the prods and gentle nagging from my stalwart ladyfriend, who was going to evict me from her home by any means necessary. We got to the airport at 4.30am, and upon checking in, the self-service kiosk popped up a message indicating that the flight was overbooked, and asked if I’d be interested in volunteer to reschedule and receive a travel voucher.

Go back to bed for two hours? Spend less time thumb-twiddling in New Jersey? Get $200 off my next flight (which has to be Continental anyway since nobody else flies out of Shannon to where I want to go anymore)? Spend a few more precious hours with my woman? You bet I’m interested!

Shortly thereafter, a flesh & blood Continental rep had me booked in for a 10 o’clock flight on the exit row (those damn kiosks never pick up on my needs as a tall man!), given me a $200 voucher, and checked my baggage through.

Bizarrely enough, what started as a situation that I nearly paid $250 to get out of turned into a situation that gave me what I wanted and put me $200 in credit. Granted, my sleep was still interrupted, but it’s a funny reflection on how these airlines operate. Even though the flight was “severely overbooked” (the rep’s words), they still attempted to extract $250 over the phone to reschedule me a week before the flight.

Later, (after an enjoyable nap) when my rescheduled flight was boarding, I noticed a woman at the departure gate being told that the flight was overbooked and she wouldn’t be able to board the plane. I stroked my chin for a moment, wondering how much more I could get for volunteering to stay longer still, and how much of the layover in Newark I could safely eat into. She didn’t seem too stressed at the thought of sticking around a few hours, so I decided to just get on the plane – the prospect of sitting in an airport lobby 20 minutes from my girlfriend’s house wasn’t exactly tantalizing.

Besides – I had to go to New York and find something to blog about on my trip! More on that later...