I love part 1 of the Gymnopédies by Erik Satie. I just can’t get enough of it. Midis and MP3’s are available on These are a bit slower than a lot of the other performances I’ve heard, but still a little fast for my liking. (I like my Gymnopédies performances to have pauses where you almost wonder if the pianist has stopped).

This piece also sounds good on classical guitar, but tends to be played even faster (blech!). I’m not big of performances that integrate a flute or violin, and I haven’t heard an orchestration that I felt didn’t massacre it. Lately, I find myself wanting music to sound much less “musical”. I’ll probably dislike this piece in a few months because it sounds too deliberate and has too much flair. (I already mostly feel that way about parts 2 and 3.)

Permanent hair straightening

I used to have very straight har when I was young (primary school age), but sometime around my adolescence it turned into a wild untameable beast (really thick and wavy). Late last year, with my hair getting longer, it was getting much less manageable and I was on the verge of shaving it all off again because it was taking far too much effort to just keep it under control. Then, as a surprise gift, Heidi booked my in for a permanent hair straightening.

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GoogTube is a stupid name

Dealbook is reporting that Google is buying YouTube for $1.65 billion in stock.

There is a fairly considered discussion of the ramifications of the takeover (written when it was only a rumour) over at Seeking Alpha, but I think this quote from the Dealbook article summarises things quite nicely:

One young user, posting under the name xchylerjfk, remarked in an apparently homemade video that Google “are taking over the whole of the Internet” and added that “I like YouTube the way it is.”

Google has recently been very assertive in its expression of commitment to copyright. If Google is ingenuous about this commitment, it would have to remove a lot of content on YouTube or organise a revenue collection agreement with media companies. If Google can get all major media companies on board, they could have an open license (payed for by their directed advertising) for YouTubers to use whatever content they want.

If they can’t do that, it’s going to be an absolute mess picking out offending videos and removing them. Maybe not from a technology standpoint (I have no idea how advanced Google’s video indexing technology is), but definitely from a user standpoint. If videos start getting banned in a seeminlg randomly manner (more so than they are currently on YouTube) people may choose to upload videos elsewhere.

Update: Google press release here.

Update: Just a quick thought. It would be good to be the last major media company to sign up to any sort of licensing deal… they could set their price.

Found via Monkey Bites blog post (Wired).

How to microwave “normal” popcorn

Tone visited recently and I made some popcorn in the microwave without using those microwave popcorn bags. He was moderately surprised, so I figured that I would write up a brief how-to here (in case anyone else may be interested). Plus, if you use plain popcorn kernels instead of those microwave popcorn bags, you’ll save money and you won’t create as much waste!

To make popcorn in the microwave, you will need:

  • 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels
  • 2 tablespoons or oil
  • 1 tablespoon of butter or magarine
  • Salt to taste

Place the oil, butter/margarine, and salt into a large microwave-safe container. Cover with a see-through (glass or plastic) lid. Cook on high for approximately 4 minutes until the kernels stop popping regularly (more than a few seconds between pops). It’s fairly easy to overcook the popcorn the first time so err on the side of caution, and make a note of the time taken so that you can estimate a better time when you next try. (I’ve found that 3 minutes 45 seconds is perfect for my 1000w microwave).

And voila!:


A few final remarks: Don’t use “light” margarine as it has a high water content. Also, be careful using plastic microware-safe cookware. The corn kernels get very hot and can sometimes melt the plastic. In my experience, it’s best to use a glass or ceramic bowl.

“Are you Eurasian?”

I was at Yum Cha a couple of weeks ago with a few friends (one of whom is Eurasian). It was very crowded and we had to share a table with a middle-aged lady and (presumeably) her teenage son. We didn’t really say anything to them. I think that’s the etiquette when sharing a table at Yum Cha; you just treat your half as a separate table. After our first order arrived, the lady asked my Eurasian friend:

Do you mind if we settle a bet we have going here?… Are you Eurasian?

I didn’t think much of it at the time, but when I was relaying the story to Heidi she thought that it was very rude of them to ask. Considering it further I imagined that it sounds very offensive if you replace “Eurasian” with any other race:

Are you Aboriginal? Are you white? Are you black? Are you Asian?

Asking country of origin doesn’t sound as bad as asking race. Maybe beacause you assume that they are basing their query on more than your appearance (possibly taking into account your customs or accent). That makes it more cultural than racial.

Are you Canadian? Are you Thai? Are you American?

I guess that I didn’t take offense since they were asking because the teenager was Eurasian and probably looking for some sort of racial solidarity. You don’t see too many Eurasians in Perth and it may sometimes feel like he’s the only one. I think that a lot of Eurasians (living in Australia) may feel a cultural similarity and connection with other Eurasians because they assume that they have probably grown up in a similar cross-cultural family environment. This won’t always be the case. Race is different to culture, and it doesn’t intrinsically connect people in the same way that culture does.

Honda’s “Impossible Dream”

I saw this commercial at the cinema before watching Talledega Nights. It was great!

Honda seems to have an excellent advertising team with clear direction under their “The Power of Dreams” motto. Remember the single-shot “Isn’t it nice… when things… just work?” advertisement for Honda Accord?

Two more videos after the jump.

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Nacho Libre and Talladega Nights

Last week I saw D.O.A. Dead or Alive, and this week I’ve watched both Nacho Libre and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. People are going to think that I see nothing but “bad” movies.

Nacho Libre and Talladega Nights movie posters

Here are my (very) quick reviews.

Nacho Libre is very funny at times, but not a classic comedy. In a number of instances, I felt that Jack Black was a bit too… Jack Black. The end of the final fight was great though!

I was a bit concerned that Talladega Nights was going to be a Will Farrell vehicle (like Nacho Libre for Jack Black), but it never really descended into that. It was surprisingly good and very entertaining. Sacha Baron Cohen (Ali G, Borat) plays the villian and he complements Will Farrell well.