A live toad every morning

Corrections to the blogosphere, the consensus, and the world

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Kim Jong Unexceptional

When Kim Jong Un came to the throne we all made fun of his hairstyle, but more and more he seems to be pretty much in the hipstream.  On the train or in the street more and more buzzcut back and sides and one or another form of souffle top.  Was he an actual style guide - people looking at him and thinking "Hey, I could look really cool in that" - or is it just that all parties concerned are dead leaves floating on the zeitgeist?  Answering that question would require more work than I - fuck it, let's google "KJI haircut".

Well, no real data, other than the the peak fuss about the KJI look was back in 2014 when there was a fake news story about all Korean men being required to use it/eschew it. The question remains moot.

I really don't blog terribly often these days, do I?  Perhaps I ought to move to tweeting.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

The Clean Earthquake

Watched a bit of San Andreas last night, earthquake movie with the Rock, musing about how unspeakably vile the applauded morality was. The Rock has a wife and a daughter.  He flies into an earthquake with a helicopter, falling buildings all around, hundreds of thousands crushed, rescues his wife and nobody else, crashes helicopter. Steals car, drives off with wife and nobody else at a time when millions are trying to flee city. Finds plane, flies it in to earthquake, crashes it, that's one plane that's not going to join any evacuation.  Takes boat, rides tsunami into city to find and save daughter and, to be sure, her boyfriend. High-fives all round, all is well, the dead millions are npcs, survivor's guilt doesn't get a look in.
To conceal slightly the vicious disregard of the interests of everybody who isn't family the disaster has two modes - one populated, one not.  There are times when you see the streets full of people running, and at those times the family is running too; then the buildings fall, the tsunami hits, and everybody disappears, even as bodies, so there's nobody there to reproach the Rock for letting them die.  It's a sign, I suppose, that Americans won't blame Trump for nepotism; that's the ethos that their entertainment praises as the highest value in life.

Blogger Devin Faraci gets it right -
It is possible that San Andreas is the most morally despicable blockbuster ever made. It is a sickening paean to selfishness, a movie that lionizes a public servant rescue worker who abandons his job in the middle of the greatest natural disaster in the history of America to steal a rescue helicopter to save only his wife and daughter, leaving thousands to die and suffer in his wake. It is, frankly, sickening.

Very few of the other (generally critical) reviews touch on this, though.

Monday, February 20, 2017

With my knapsack on my back

Another argument with the health promotion mob; The Conversation, http://theconversation.cmail20.com/t/r-l-ykkufuk-wujjdkdo-b/
An article titled

New study shows more time walking means less time in hospital
The inactive people (taking 4,500 steps per day) averaged 0.97 days of hospital care per year. The more active people (taking 8,800 steps per day) needed only 0.68 days of care per year. 

So to save half a day, 12 hours (assuming that the graph is 24-hour days; if it's working days, of course, 4; could I ask for clarification?) in hospital each year one should walk an extra 244 hours over the year.  If you like walking, that's fine; if you don't, it doesn't really sound the best possible tradeoff. I appreciate that it's supposed to be a proxy for other things, but I'd like to see the correlations. 40 minutes a day, after all, is in one perspective "not much"; on the other, it's one-twenty-fifth of your waking life, or something like three years over a lifetime, not something to be quite so casual about. 

And another request for clarification. The article says that 
The inactive people (taking 4,500 steps per day) averaged 0.97 days of hospital care per year. 
The popups on the actual graph seems to say that people on 4,000 scored 1.18 and people on 5,000 scored 1.08. 

I am actually surprised that the people on 1,000 are as healthy as they are; they're having a quarter of the exercise as the over-80s, which hardly gets them from the couch to the toilet, and there's still no spike. 

Monday, January 23, 2017


I remember once complaining to Barry Jones about one government acronym that sounded counterproductive.  He said "Yes, that's why we never gave an Institute of Technology to Swan Hill.

And, just as a topper, when I told that anecdote to a friend she said "Yes, well - my father was the chairman of the Swan Hill Irrigation Trust."

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Age Bin with God's Curses

Ari Morris feels that we should pay more attention to the Bible’s allocation of Israel to the Jews.  If that’s what we’re doing, we’ll have to put in a bit more effort; the actual words used in that volume are " the land from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates” - about half of Egypt, all of Jordan, and most of Syria and Iraq. Like some Victorian land speculators, Jehovah was rather prone to selling land he didn’t have legal title to, and we shouldn’t regard his allocations as binding. 

Monday, September 12, 2016


Went to see (on film) the Almedia Theatre production of Richard iii, with Ralph Fiennes; a fairly intimidating performance, lacking the antic malice of Olivier. There were some lines I didn’t remember –
I have no brother, I am like no brother; 
And this word 'love,' which graybeards call divine, 
Be resident in men like one another 
And not in me: I am myself alone. 
 on returning home, I checked it out and found they’d shifted quite a lot out of Henry VIth Part 3 into Richard – and left out other bits, particularly from the last battle scenes.  Let me see, what other Richards have I consulted?  Anthony Sher, and Ian McKellen.  But I should see if I can buy the rest of the Wars of the Roses tetralogy to add to our already vast stack of unwatched Shakespeares: I think we have a tempest, a Macbeth, and a Hal 8 waiting.  Rose resists putting them on for the good reason that she’s virtually certain to fall asleep in front of them unless she’s been forethoughful enough to have six strong coffees in the afternoon.
The trouble with Richard, though, as a study in villainy, is not that Richard is over the top but that he has to be so very over the top to be any worse than everybody else in the family, or, indeed, the peerage.  Everybody is plotting the death of everybody else; if you gave the soliloquies to someone else – Buckingham, say – Richard would almost fade into the background.
Actually, that bit of Hal VI III – and in the actual play,
brings to mind Peer Gynt;
Out yonder, under the shining vault,
among men the saying goes: “Man, be thyself!”
At home here with us, ’mid the tribe of the trolls,
the saying goes: “Troll, to thyself be — enough!”
Anne felt that way:
I want to be normal, to love and be loved, crisp new love, but I still prefer not to make close bonds with mortals. Mine is the troll's motto, "To thyself be enough."
I didn’t ask her if she was rooting for Richard, but I wouldn’t be surprised; a disability thing.
In the Olivier version, too, he actually retained, a few lines from Colley Cibber’s rewriting – the one that drove what one might call the real version off the stage for two hundred years, except that, as the Fiennes version shows, the real version isn’t staged today either, it being rather hard to follow as being the last  episode in a continuing series.  One episode of Game of Thrones would be hard to follow, too.

Anyway, I’ve ordered the Hollow Crown from Amazon, with Cumberbatch as Richard, and am weighing up going back to the Peter Hall version, with Ian Holm.  As Schopenhauer says, when purchasing books one is under the illusion that one is purchasing the time needed to read them, and the same goes double for DVDs.

Friday, September 09, 2016

Give me that old time religion

I entirely agree with Julie Szego  (Age, 9/9/16) that in a secular society like ours we shouldn't tolerate religously-based body-shaming clothing practices.  I do, however, have some difficulty understanding why covering up the bits that Jehovah wants covered is OK and only covering up the extra bits that Allah wants covered is wrong. Let's have some consistency; if we're going to say that god's handiwork should be exposed to the sun without shame, let's listen to Apollo and start with trousers.

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