The things we search for…

WordPress offers a number of tools to analyse traffic to one’s blog: which country, which site referred and what search terms were used.

Someone searched for “Reverend Ramsden’s Ringpiece” [cathedral] and clicked to my site.  I’m on page 2 of Google, so he’d gone through a number of pages before he got to mine.  I hope that he finds what he’s looking for.

Related Posts:

Viz character or Japanese company?

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If you want to be offensive be funny, not lazy

I first heard of Andy Ihnatko when I saw him on Robert Llewellyn’s Carpool.  By way of introduction, here’s the episode. 

I started listening to the Ihnakto Almanac podcast soon afterwards.  His topics range from comics, movies, culture to technology and back again.  I’m not interested on all of those subjects, but as I look back over the 68 podcast titles I now realise that I’ve been greatly influenced by his suggestions and I’m not even a comic book guy (more of a manga otaku).  So far he has apparently influenced me to do the following actions:

  1. Bought Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs
  2. Watched Hugo in 3D (I never go to the cinema.  Last film was Death at a Funeral, original not remake)
  3. Supported my local comic book store (Of course I’d support Dee’s)
  4. Bought Stan Sakai’s 47 Ronin… and wondered why comic books are so short!
  5. Considered buying The Big Bang Theory box set.  (Channel 9 makes every one of their programs so uninviting on the promos that I’d not considered it worth watching.  My PeopleMeter records and pristine remote control button will attest to that channel not featuring in my TV viewing.)
  6. Looked for an old DVD of Ground-hog Day
  7. And finally, while listening to the podcast, bought Jonathan Coulton’s rendition of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s Baby Got Back from iTunes to cock a snoot at his being ripped off by Glee and Fox.

If he calls for revolution, I’m not sure what I’m going to do!

Who thinks Family Guy stinks?

In his podcast No.67 God Is Great, Markdown Is Okay, “Family Guy” Stinks Andy let fly on the lazy humour of Family Guy.  Listen from 15:40 “Stephen Freeman…” and the next 20 minutes.  Andy explained why he stopped watching Family Guy and why it is racist, sexist and advocates violence against women and children.

In the spirit of his increasing influence on my life (spooky!) his rant made me think about the humour that I like and why.  A lot of the comedy I like is edgy.  Why do I like Harry Enfield when he says “Women!  Know Your Limits!” but shudder at early Eddie Murphy (as even Eddie Murphy does these days) that is vaguely similar?  Why do I laugh uncontrollably at the torrent of filth that is Derek and Clive?  When Ricky Gervais defends the duo by saying, “Contrary to popular belief, swearing is both big and clever” is that justification enough?

Regular readers will know that I’m no shrinking violet when it comes to writing letters of complaint about offensive comedy. So I decided to comment (not complain) to some guy who does a podcast while thinking about why what I like might be offensive and OK at the same time…

#67 and Family Guy

[edited a bit to add videos and links and fix sppeling]

I’m with you to a point. I too can take only so much of Family Guy. When South Park deduced that Family Guy was written by manatees in a tank fill of balls, in which no subject no matter how pointless could be avoided, it was right.

But if comedians aren’t lazy, then edgy material can be very funny.  Apropos of Peter beating up Lucy being lazy and seriously unfunny… the funniest fight scene between a man and a woman is in The IT Crowd Series 3 Episode 4 “The Speech” when April (who used to be a man) and Douglas (who thought April said that she was “from Iran”). Their brawl is so violent that they destroy “the Internet”.  That, or the sex scene in “The Tall Guy”.

There’s lots of humour that is not racist when taken in context. Racial, but not racist. Dave Chappelle’s comedy is racial in context, but not racist. He uses stereotypes and “edgy” material to help us in the audience think and talk about the issues.  Or just laugh.

“Stereotypes are a real time-saver” – The Onion

Hung Le is a Vietnamese-Australian (you know… dreadlocks, plays the violin http://www.hungle.com.au/ ) who is also racial. He is self-deprecating (like most Australian comedians) but not self-degrading.  Both Dave and Hung exploit our knowledge of stereotypes to make their gags work, but they’re not inviting us to think of them as bound by those stereotypes. I’m guessing that a doctrinaire racist would not find their humour funny because it is more empowering than degrading.

“How do you know when your house has been burgled by a Vietnamese person? Your dog is missing and all of your homework has been done.” – Hung Le

Adam Hills was born without a right foot and does a mean impersonation of the T-1000 Terminator in the liquid nitrogen.  He’s has been around for a while but his coverage of the 2012 London Paralympics on “The Last Leg” has broken down a lot of barriers. (Arguably, the “Meet the Superhumans” advertising campaign for the Paralympics and then the Paralympics did the heavy-lifting first and then The Last Leg hoped through the rubble.)

Years ago he joked to some maimed veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq that ‘…[your country] is going to have the best Paralympic team in 2012!”, to which some “normals” overreacted.  But the soldiers themselves shared his view and some even looked forward to competing.  The Last Leg was sometimes awkward to watch, but was always funny.

“What an amazing country Canada is. They’re bilingual, they have same-sex marriages and they have Braille on their banknotes. Canada is the only country in which two blind French lesbians can get married and pay for it in cash.” – Adam Hills

Watch Monty Python or The Goodies or the Q series from Spkie Milligan for a lesson in how not to write for female characters. Funny shows, but their humour was of a very different time. Sexism by omission? Can we defend the élite to make such jokes?

Apparently, yes. Derek and Clive (Peter Cook and Dudley Moore) were unremittingly offensive. When an older brother or older friend played you a tape of “The Horn” your mind was blown by inconceivably offensive material delivered by seemingly well-educated people.  What other comedians would use the phrase “wandered out of the Garden of Gethsemane” in a dirty joke? Even some “right-on” and “alternative” comedians are like the rest of us in awe of their special brand of tasteless material covered in bits of sick.

CLIVE: No, no it said, “And lo! Jesus suddenly got the horn and wandered out of the Garden of Gethsemane and f….d himself stupid for twenty-eight years.” And that bit got left out ’cause, erm, I think it was Matthew thought it would be a bad idea, bad for the image. – Peter Cook

Back to Family Guy… I agree that it is lazy comedy. It’s like that time I thought that I was asking Princess Di “when is it due?” when I was actually talking to Mother Teresa.

I’ll say it… “Ted” was a not a conventional rom-com, but it was a good-hearted movie.  Seth MacFarlane can write good female characters.  There… he doesn’t have to be lazy. I even watched Ted again as the recent unpleasantness unfolded after the Boston Marathon as an odd form of tribute to the spirit of the city and its people.  (And because I don’t have Good Will Hunting on DVD.)

It is possible to be edgy, challenging and confronting and still be funny.  Not everyone will find it funny and some may be offended.  In the same way that your maiden aunt may laugh at a dirty joke that is funny and not laugh at a dirty joke that is just dirty.

And if nothing else, the paradox of Family Guy and similar programs on Fox and Fox News proves something about my erstwhile compatriot Rupert Murdoch… he’s in it for the money.

I’m not quite sure what to make of Sarah Silverman though…

Worthy of a response

This morning I downloaded Dr Karl’s Science talkback and The Ihnatko Almanac No. 68 Palpatine as Your Role Model over 3G; I’d forgot to sync while I was in Wi-Fi.  I even tried waiting at my back fence to hope for some signal before the morning bus came.

On the way home I heard my letter mentioned.  Listen from 50:40.  I got home and sure enough, there’s the email Andy sent to me.

So I thought, I’d better write a blog post about this.  Because that’s what Andy said I should do.

Let’s give Adam Hills the last word. 

The Elegant Gentleman’s Guide To Knife Fighting – a complaint on behalf of Prius Owners everywhere

I have just sent the following letter of complaint to ABC-TV.  Since it is riven with left-wing bias and post-modern wankery I don’t expect a reasoned response of even a response.  Therefore I post this to my blog in the hope to raise awareness of this insidious attack on our society.

UPDATE: 9/04/2013 10:51. My complaint has been received by Audience & Consumer Affairs and been allocated a reference number.  “The ABC endeavours to respond to complaints within 30 days of receipt. However, please be aware that due to the large volume of correspondence we receive, and the complex nature of some matters, responses may at times take longer than this.”

Dear Sir/Madam

I would like to register a complaint about “The Elegant Gentleman’s Guide To Knife Fighting” episode 1 as shown on ABC 1 on Wednesday 3 April 2013 (not including subsequent re-broadcasts or iView). While I appreciate that the show does as it says in its promotional material and has saved me the time of watching two separate programs for the guidance of elegant gentlemen and knife fighting, it has failed me terribly in another respect. I refer of course to the recurring sketch of the dinner party guest who owns a Prius.  He is depicted as a sociopath who forces the other guests to live out his sick fantasies, powerless to resist his urges.  He is shown bullying the guests, forcing two females to kiss in a provocatively sexual manner, emasculating the males and humiliating the guests to perform “Scarborough Fair” as various states of undress and bondage.  As a Prius owner myself I must naturally object in the strongest possible terms to a characterisation of a Prius owner as one who is ignorant of the specifications and capabilities of his Prius.

EV Mode or EV mode?

The Prius Owner (PO) arrives unannounced to the surprise of the Dinner Party Guests (DPG) by virtue of running his car silently in EV mode.  However, he wrongly suggests that 24km/h is the maximum speed that can be attained in this mode.  If PO were a real Prius owner he would have known that Stealth Mode can be maintained at 66km/h in the NHW11* (2001 – 2003) and NHW20 (2004 – 04/2009) and 74km/h in the current ZVW30 (05/2009- ).  And even if he meant EV Mode (not EV mode) by pressing the EV button, this Mode is disabled at 40km/h, as long as the car in in Stage 3 or Stage 4.  That is a schoolboy error.

* Note: I’m ignoring the NHW10 Japan-only model (1997-2000) that may have been obtained by grey import for reasons that, if not already obvious, soon will be.

What is the sound of shaking Prius car keys?

Secondly, PO goads the DPG by shaking his car keys.  This is particularly puzzling since neither the NHW20 nor the ZVW30 have keys in the normal sense as all Australian-delivered Prii have the Smart Key System.  Any metal key would have been concealed within the black, plastic keyfob, which was clearly not present. Perhaps he was referring to the NHW11 model, which did have keys but also had a keyfob.  However this is obviously not an explanation as PO declares that he obtains a fuel consumption figure of 3.7 litres per 100km, which corresponds to the ADR 81/02 extra-urban cycle figure for the ZVW30, which busts the myth of the rattling keys.

“Because I get 3.7l/100km.”  Oh really?

Thirdly, PO stated that he gets 3.7l/100km, not merely that its ADR81/02 figure obtained under laboratory conditions is 3.7l/100km.  Here’s where the mystery deepens further.  Under real-world conditions, the average fuel consumption for the ZVW30 Prius is 5.0l/100km when the variety of driving conditions, techniques and climates are taken into account. It should be obvious to the even casual observer that PO must be intimately aware of the capabilities of his Prius and hypermiling techniques such as Stealth, Pulse and Glide, Warp Stealth, Super Highway Mode and Driving Without Brakes (notice that I have not mentioned drafting) to achieve the ADR81/02 figure.  That is not to say that such a feat is impossible; there is a 1000 mile club for Prius drivers, which corresponds to slightly better than 2.8l/100km for some 1609 km.  However, it is clear that PO’s poor knowledge of his own vehicle and, we can safely assume, poor knowledge of driving technique would make his claim of 3.7l/100km impossible to sustain.

Naturally, I can also dismiss the notion that his Prius has a plug-in conversion (See EV Mode or EV mode).    In short, I bet the character doesn’t even own one.

It is just this sort of misrepresentation of the Prius and their owners that I have sadly come to expect.  Should PO be a  regular character I can’t imagine what ignorance he will display next.  ABC has probably bought the series so there’s probably little you could be bothered to do about any future episodes.

BTW, I have owned a Prius for just over 1 year, so I am eminently qualified to comment.

Good day to you… I said GOOD DAY!

NBN secretly installing in Gungahlin?

If you choose to ignore the several community briefings from NBN Co. and their website and the general buzz… you could be shocked by the amount of suspicious activity occurring around Gungahlin.  Or should I say, under Gungahlin?

Witness this infra-red photo taken during the day at great danger to the photographer, since he was in his car at the time and another car could have driven down the street at any time.

NBN Infra-red spyshot
Suspicious activity in Gungahlin recently appears to be related to the NBN rollout. Red circle: man in high-visibility work-wear with vehicle. Orange circle: Two workers carrying something, most likely a very thin fibre optic cable. Blue circle: Man climbing tree. Purpose unknown. Green circle: large hay bale or some sort of cabling apparatus. 

When approached the men were friendly and courteous.  However, they insisted that what appeared to be a very thin cable was in fact a revolutionary water pipe and that they were plumbers.  When I asked about their trucks, which were emblazoned with the logo of a cabling company they said that their own fleet of trucks was busy doing plumbing and that they had borrowed trucks from a cabling company that had no work on at the moment.

I wish I could get to the truth somehow.