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Past imperfect

Posted January 3rd, 2012 by debritz

Advisory: I am not a scientist, so it's entirely possible that I have this all wrong.

I occasionally bore people with a story about a relatively recent discussion with an old friend about something that happened to us when we were much younger. The intriguing thing was that she and I remembered the details very differently. Neither of us had a reason to remember it differently, but we did. Had it been a matter of consequence, which is wasn't, we would have both sworn in a court of law that our version of events was the correct one.

Yesterday, I stumbled upon this piece in the Huffington Post, where Dr Robert Lanza says some scientists are now suggesting that the past is not a fixed thing, and that whether things actually occurred in the past may depend on events in the future.

Imagine the ramifications of this -- and not just for the scriptwriters of Doctor Who. For example, that lie you told the wife about what you were doing last night may not have been a lie, because the past isn't set in stone. On a more serious level, a person convicted of and punished for a crime may, in fact, prove to be innocent once the past is properly paid out, or the dead may in fact prove to be alive. It's intriguing, and scary stuff.

But wait, there's more. Some scientists believe in the theory of parallel universes. And some people have taken this to mean that there are multiple but different versions of our "reality" out there -- in which case, presumably, there are many pasts and many futures.

This creates a whole new raft of mindblowing possibilities. As Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory puts it: "You know, it just occurred to me, if there are an infinite number of parallel universes, in one of them, there’s probably a Sheldon who doesn’t believe parallel universes exist."

Or, as I put it, "There's a Brett out there who's having a lot more fun than me. And I'm envious."

10 predictions for 2012

Posted December 30th, 2011 by debritz

1. The world will not end in 2012, just like it doesn't end on December 31 every year. It will just be time to get a new calendar.

2. However, many people will die, and others will be sad because of this.

3. The fans of a small number of sporting teams will be very happy by year's end, but the fans of all the other teams will be somewhat disappointed.

4. It will be a year of turmoil.

5. A celebrity couple will get divorced very soon after they get married, and some people who have never met them will be inexplicably surprised and upset by this.

6. A former star of a "reality" television program will become briefly famous again because of some mundane thing that happened to him or her after he or she ceased to be famous the first time.

7. It will become apparent that a prominent figure is even more pompous and ridicuous than we originally imagined.

8. Apple will release a must-have item of personal technology that will very quickly be branded as being not as cool as everybody hoped it would be. Nevertheless, it will sell in its squillions.

9. This will occur more than once in 2012.

10. In late December, the internet will be awash with useless lists of 10 predictions for 2013.

Beggin the Begguine

Posted December 24th, 2011 by debritz

Proofreaders wanted. Beginners welcome.

Is that Kelsey?

Posted September 10th, 2011 by debritz

As this is a forum topic, I suppose the editors of this website didn't make this error. But they really should fix it:

I'm a Grump; take it to the bank

Posted September 4th, 2011 by debritz

When I first started doing a weekly spot on Spencer Howson's breakfast show on Brisbane's 612 ABC, Spencer used to bill me as a "grumpy old man". He even bought me a coffee mug featuring the logo of the British television show of that name.

I used to say then that I didn't mind being called grumpy but I hated being called old. I feel the same way now. Statistically I'm not old at all. But, sometimes to the embarrassment of my friends, family and even myself, I definitely am grumpy.

Now I suppose you're expecting me to say that I plan to reform, to turn over a new leaf, and be all sunshine and happiness from now on. If so, I'm sorry to disappoint.

To the contrary, I plan to embrace my inner whinger - but I'm going to do it in a positive and, hopefully, humorous way. Complaining about things can sometimes create change, and it certainly can help to create focus for a creative person.

I've been talking about writing a book for many, many years, and I've always found an excuse not to do it, or have been sidetracked by other things that have come to naught. I am now telling the world, right here and right now, that I will write that book. I plan to channel my energy, positive and negative, into it. (If there are any publishers reading this, I'd be very happy to accept an advance. Even so, I'm going to do it anyway.)

But wait, there's more. There's an audio documentary I want to create, too, and I've already started work on that. And I want to blog more often, expanding my repertoire and, if I do it properly, engaging a larger readership.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I want you to keep me honest. Tweet me, Facebook message me, email me and ask me how it's all going, and berate me if I'm not making any progress.

Together, we can do this.

Pineapple juice

Posted August 26th, 2011 by debritz

A media release announcing the sale and relaunch of Queensland's iconic Big Pineapple tourist attraction notes:

The Big Pineapple burnt down and was rebuilt in 1978, and during its life has been owned by various operators, including Rupert Murdoch during the 1880’s ...

Oh, come on. Rupert's not that old.

PS: It's good news that the new owners, Big Pineapple Corp. Pty Ltd, plan to "rejuvenate the site, restore the Heritage-Listed icon and create a market hub for locals and visitors alike".

Playing for the other team

Posted July 31st, 2011 by debritz

Something I didn't expect to see on the DC Comics website:


Lighter plus fluid

Posted June 9th, 2011 by debritz

Sign in a Bangkok pub. Can you imagine the licensing and health authorities allowing this in Australia?

Numbers game

Posted May 24th, 2011 by debritz

Thanks to xamuel.com for this: Choose any Wikipedia entry at random and click on the first link (not counting links within brackets, links in italics, links in Wikipedia info boxes, or links outside of Wikipedia). Keep on doing it and, eventually (often within a dozen clicks), you will get to the entry for Mathematics. Try it; you'll be amazed.

Or maybe not ...

Posted May 22nd, 2011 by debritz

From Familyradio.com:


It's not what you think it is ...

Posted February 10th, 2011 by debritz

This advertisement appeared in a Thai language newspaper in Bangkok yesterday. Any guesses what it's about?

Wrong, it's a celebration that almost all the apartments in a new development are sold, and the marketing campaign is ending. At least I think that's what it is.

That's shoe business

Posted January 24th, 2011 by debritz

This is by no means scientific, I know, but it seems US cultural imperialism is spreading in Thailand. I saw a rack of kids' shoes outside the play area* at Rama IV Tesco-Lotus in Bangkok's Klong Toey district, and noticed that most of them had cartoon characters on them. Of 13 pairs, four featured Ben 10, two depicted Barbie and two had Disney motifs. Only two pairs featured Asian characters: one each for Doraemon and Hello Kitty.
* Yes, I had a good reason to be there.

Conceptualise this ...

Posted December 19th, 2010 by debritz

It's not a toilet, it's a ...

As you'd expect ...

Posted December 3rd, 2010 by debritz

From a Bangkok Airlines advertisement:

Sign of the times

Posted November 11th, 2010 by debritz

You never know what your possessions are going to do:

How soon we forget

Posted October 6th, 2010 by debritz

In its otherwise excellent timeline of the Brisbane nightclub scene, brisbanetimes.com.au published this paragraph:


The author and/or sub managed to mis-spell both the first name and surname of the state's longest-serving premier, Joh Bjelke-Petersen. As some of the oldtimers who enjoyed the article might now be saying, it wouldn't have happened in my day ...

In case you were wondering

Posted September 29th, 2010 by debritz

What exactly goes into those Honey Nut cornflakes? This packaging helpfully reiterates the key ingredients.

DIY emergency

Posted July 12th, 2010 by debritz

Sign on MS Orchid, Egypt

Creative accounting for yourself

Posted February 10th, 2010 by debritz

A British nurse, Greig Ferguson, reportedly got a top job with a "drastically embellished" CV which included the claim that he had worked at County General, the Chicago hospital featured on television drama ER. Since he got caught out, I've decided to erase the Daily Planet, the Hill Valley Telegraph, the Daily Prophet and the Canley Evening News from my resume.

Not on his Todd

Posted January 4th, 2010 by debritz

I was going to get around to writing a light-hearted list of predictions for 2010 -- you know, the kind that includes generalisations that can be broadly interpreted and are bound to come true at least once in 365 days. On the list would have been something like "a prominent sportsman will be involved in an off-field incident that will jeopardise his playing career". It seems that one has already come true in respect to rugby league player Todd Carney, who allegedly set a man's pants on fire on New Year's Eve (after midnight, I'm hoping, or it would have to have been included in the 2009 predictions).

Oh, what a year it will be

Posted December 30th, 2009 by debritz

So you think you've got nothing to look forward to? Think again. According to various sources, 2010 will be the:
+ year of the Girl Guide (Australia);
+ year of the tiger (Chinese astrology);
+ international year of biodiversity (UN);
+ international year of the nurse (UN);
+ year of tablet computer (or, according to other geek sources, the Linux desktop, the smartphone, the flat-screen TV, cloud computing, mobile phones, better Xbox 360 games, the AMD Opteron or the e-book);
+ year we make contact (blurb for the 1984 film 2010);
+ year of the community manager;
+ international year for the approchement of cultures (Unesco);
+ year of the magazines (Media Guardian);
+ year of the Inuit (Canada);
+ year of the seafarer (International Maritime Organization);
+ year of the lung (Forum of International Respiratory Societies);
+ year of great consequences (Pravda);
+ year of severe economic contraction (Global Research);
+ year of the fertilizer bargain (agriculture.com);
+ year of the Bible (US Republican Party); and the
+ 52nd year of the revolution (Cuba)

Sign of the times

Posted December 29th, 2009 by debritz

You can find these signs in various parts of Russia. Presumably they are aimed at the owners, rather than the pets themselves, but I'm not sure how you stop a dog from answering the call of nature. Cleaning up afterwards is another matter, of course.

It's in the can

Posted December 28th, 2009 by debritz

Sick of the smell of air freshener? This product promises to get rid of it, although it seems to me that there should be a slash between "freshener" and "neutralizer".

Platform news

Posted November 11th, 2009 by debritz

Announcement on Fortitude Valley station about 6.10am today:

An express train not stopping at this station will pass Platform 7 in two minutes, please stand behind the yellow safety line.

Fortitude Valley station has only four platforms -- unless there's some sort of Harry Potter-type thing going on that we mere Muggles don't know about.

Belly flop

Posted November 4th, 2009 by debritz

I'm flying to Europe in three weeks, which means for the next 21 days I can expect to read more stories like this: "Qantas pilots forgot to lower wheels".

Annoying phrase of the day

Posted October 29th, 2009 by debritz

Politicians, businesspeople and public servants have all embraced the phrase "going forward", especially when it relates to their "future plans". How many of them expect to go backwards while making plans for the past?

Wizard wheez

Posted October 26th, 2009 by debritz

Psssst. Fancy attending a "Generic Wizard Night"? Well, get in contact with Ms Marmite Lover at the Underground Restaurant, a "pop-up" establishment in a West London home, where the menu was originally inspired by the Harry Potter books and films. Diners were to have ventured down Diagon Alley (the side of the house) to enjoy dandelion wine, pumpkin soup and mint humbugs. But Ms Lover received a letter from Warner Bros telling her how delighted they were that she loved Harry Potter but to hold such a themed event would be an infringement of copyright. Thus the name change. More here.

You sexy (and powerful) things

Posted October 16th, 2009 by debritz

Britain's Gordon Brown may be headed for electoral defeat next year, but at least he is sexier than Kevin Rudd. That's according to this website* that rates world leaders on the basis of "hotness". No. 1 is Yulia Tymoshenko, the Prime Minister of Ukraine (pictured) -- and it would be difficult to argue against that judgment. Brown is 84th, Rudd 93rd and Barack Obama is 15th. The top 10 includes Jens Stoltenberg (Norway), Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck King (Bhutan), Joseph Kabila (DR Congo), Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (Argentina), Rafael Correa (Ecuador), Grand Duke Henri (Luxembourg), Roosevelt Skerrit (Dominica), Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (Philippines) and Bamir Topi (Albania). At the bottom of the list is North Korea's Kim Jong-il, just trailing Pope Benedict.
* Obviously, I have no control over the comments made on this linked site.

To tip or not to tip?

Posted October 15th, 2009 by debritz

I went to dinner with a friend recently, and we decided to split the bill. As we were tallying up, I said to my friend: "Should we leave a tip?" His response: "No. We're not in America." So it comes as no surprise to me that an American Express survey reveals that Queenslanders are the worst tippers in Australia. I often do tip, and I always do when I'm overseas. But others argue that doing so just encourages establishments to underpay their staff, or gives them an opportunity to rip us off. I guess the upshot is that a tip should be a reward for good service, not an obligation on the diner.

Karl's curve ball

Posted October 14th, 2009 by debritz

Karl Lagerfeld says nobody wants to see curvy women on fashion runways. Well, I don't want to see him on the catwalk, let alone listening to his fashion dictates. Who's with me?

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