Spyk = Microsoft Virtual Earth + Real estate listings

Spyk is a (I can’t believe I’m going to use these terms) Web 2.0 mash-up of Google Maps Microsoft Virtual Earth and various real estate listing websites (using at least realestate.com.au and domain.com.au for Australian listings). Man, I wish this was around when I was looking for an apartment to rent in Perth. Seriously, my tips for finding a rental in Perth would have (almost) been reduced to a link to Spyk.

Check out this screengrab of my search for 2 bedroom apartments under $300:


Man $250 for a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom, 1 carbay in Perth isn’t bad at all! (Maybe I should be looking at moving…)

Note: Don’t bother using the post code search (it only seems to work for US post codes), but you can search for Australian suburbs (“Perth” found “Perth, Western Australia” as an option).

Update: Correction! It’s using Microsoft Virtual Earth (not Google Maps). I think I’ve had Google Maps on the brain. (Thanks Steve!)

Via RealEstate2.0.

The Mikado at the Regal Theatre

My aunt and uncle took Heidi and me to see Gilbert & Sullivan‘s The Mikado at the Regal Theatre last night.

The Mikado

This was the first live performance of the The Mikado that I have seen (I have a vague recollection of seeing it on television) and it was much better than what you would normally expect from a local theatre production. The set and costuming were lavish, and most of the performances by the main characters were spirited and engaging. My uncle has seen four productions of The Mikado and this was his favourite.

The Mikado really struck me as a product of its time, as it seems very reactionary to the political and social environment in which it was written. I could almost imagine these Victoria era gentlemen sitting down to write something that would appeal to theatre-goers: We should make fun of rampant corruption… that Japonisme is so hot right now… it has to be a romp! It’s a little surprising to me that such populist reactionary work is still adapted and performed today.

Like many modern productions of Gilbert & Sullivan’s work, this production updated the political and social commentary to reflect contemporary Australia. This included references to state and federal politics as well as a number of brief caricatures of public figures. The more universal jokes were carried over from the original work, and I particularly liked the few that were fairly self-satirising. Such as when the crowd cheers:

Ko-Ko: Congratulate me gentlemen, I’ve found a volunteer.
The People of Titi Pu: The Japanese equivalent of hear hear hear!

If anyone is keen to see this Gilbert and Sullivan Society WA production of The Mikado, there is an evening performance tonight (Friday 29 September) and matinee and evening performances tomorrow (Saturday 30 September). Tickets are available from BOCS or at the venue. Also, a friend informs me that tickets are 2-for-1 if you buy them on the same day as the performance you want to attend.

Pool rules!

I used to play pool (8-ball) quite a bit just after high-school, but went without playing much at all for a number of years after that. I’ve recently got back into it and my game has improved significantly over the last month or so. In fact, it’s improved enough that we’re considering adopting a consistent rule set (we’ve sort of been playing with a dynamic mish-mash of whatever rules people assert).

Pool sketch

A quick web search reveals that the World Pool-Billiard Association is promoting a set of rules to unify regional variations. They called it the Blackball ruleset. Here’s a rundown of elements that stood out to me:

  • Which group of balls you shoot for is never decided on the break.
  • When you have the cue ball in hand, you can shoot from anywhere in the baulk and in any direction.
  • You have the option of placing the cue ball in the baulk after any foul.
  • You don’t need to bank a ball when you’re snookered.
  • After a foul, you can play any ball and pot any ball (except the black) without penalty.
  • You have to take your shot within 60 seconds.

These rules really seem to encourage conscientious play because there is a fairly significant benefit to the other player if you foul. Which is good! I hate playing against people who just smack the balls around as hard as they can!

BBC interviews Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins is quite an outspoken secular humanist who is driven in his goal of encouraging complacent religious persons to critically address (and reject) their religious beliefs. He argues that religious moderation gives credence to religious fundamentalism which is potentially dangerous as it is based on faith rather than reason.

The BBC interview above is concerned with his latest book “The God Delusion“. The book is clearly part of his campaign to inspire and spread atheism in what he sees as a disturbingly religious world. Earlier in his mission, he also wrote and presented a 2 part television documentary called “The Root of All Evil?“. (Videos are available on the linked wikipedia page or on Google Video here and here).

I find that Dawkins’ frustration is very tangible in all of these videos. His emotional investment in this issue is plainly exposed; something that appears to be very difficult for someone who comes off as rather reserved. He clearly doesn’t like dealing with people who are nonchalant in regards to widespread support of an illogical premise: faith.

Video found via VideoSift.

D.O.A.: Dead or Alive

(I could only find the German version of the movie poster floating around the web.)

DOA German movie poster

A few weeks ago, spinboy posted a link to the D.O.A. trailer and asked the question:

Perhaps the greatest movie ever?

We saw it the other day, and it didn’t take long for us to discover the answer: No.

More thoughts (and possible spoilers) after the jump.

Continue reading “D.O.A.: Dead or Alive”

Remote controlled plane with camera and video headset

This video shows a remote controlled plane with mounted camera that transmits to a video headset. Also, the camera orientation is controlled by the headset so the pilot can “look around” while flying the plane.

It’s great how the internet allows people to share the realisation of their dreams. Here’s a description of the video by the author:

One of my goal was to fly one day between trees and over beautifull landscape. No doubt now, my dream have come true.

More videos here via Reddit.

My suggestion for the Australian citizenship pledge

This is a followup to my previous post on the Australian government’s proposal that immigrants should have to undertake (amoung other things) a citizenship pledge in order to become Australians.

Call me a back-flipper if you want, but I’ve changed my mind. I believe that there should be a pledge because I’ve found the perfect candidate: Affirmation by Savage Garden.

It’s Australian. It was performed for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. It contains messages addressing all current social and health issues including obesity, equality, mental health, reconciliation, religious moderation, and financial security. Above all it carries an overriding message of peace and unity. Isn’t this exactly what we want for Australia?

Let’s imagine what would happen if the song is adopted. For a start, citizenship ceremonies would become a lot more fun. Imagine people from all backgrounds energetically singing and dancing along to the music of one of Australia’s greatest musical exports. This could help reinvigorate Savage Garden record sales and bolster the Australian music industry. If we’re lucky, the band might even decide to get back together. What a boon for the nation that would be!

Lyrics after the jump.

Continue reading “My suggestion for the Australian citizenship pledge”

Criticism of the Australian Government’s citizenship testing proposal

Australian flag

The Australian federal government is proposing that, in order to become Australian citizens, immigrants should have to pass a number of Australian language and history tests and sign some sort of pledge to adopt Australian values. The reason given for this proposal is to improve national identity, but the implied reason is to also bolster national security.

The government believes that immigrants are refusing to assimilate into Australian society and forming their own insular groups. They are concerned that this behaviour results in immigrant communities that do not contribute or hold allegiance to Australia. In the worst case, they worry that such groups may present a danger when their beliefs constrast significantly with wider Australian society.

There are a number of a serious flaws in the logic behind the government’s proposal. Primarily, the government fails to differentiate between culture and ethics. Secondly, the proposal is necessarily divisive contrary to its purpose. Finally, full implementation of such a policy would be incredibly difficult as “Australian culture” is almost impossible to define.

Continue reading “Criticism of the Australian Government’s citizenship testing proposal”

Added “Took Be Gi” page to “Places to Eat” guide

I added a subpage for Took Be Gi to my Places to Eat guide. Hopefully, it’s the first of many (okay, at least a few) subpages with details for my favourite restuarants.

Took Be Gi was always going to be the first restaurant that I would create an individual page for. After all, it’s my absolute favourite place to eat in Perth! The staff are incredibly friendly and the food is excellent. The only shortcoming is that it’s very small, but they can acommodate larger groups (8-10) if you are willing to wait outside or come back later. If you do go and check out Took Be Gi (or if you have already been there), feel free to leave your thoughts on that page.

I’m trying to work out a standard format for the restaurant pages. In particular, I want to try to make it easy for people to find the restaurants. I’ve had a play around with the Google Maps API and I’m going to try to embed maps. I’ve also got to remember to take my camera when I go out to eat! Just having a photo of the sign outside the restaurant should make it much easier to find. 🙂

What does despair look like?

What does despair look like?

Sometimes I wonder what the hell is wrong with the world. Perhaps that’s immature, but it drives me to try and change things. If I had to choose between adolescent angst and middle-aged detachment, I’d go with angst every time.

I guess this post is a sort of follow-up to “I feel like Sonic Attack!” and “I feel like Sonic Attack! (Part 2)” in that I just sat down, started sketching, and saw what came out. It’s art based on gross exaggeration of a transient feeling due to circumstances outside of my control.

But hey! I have a new bike now, and I feel like the long-term trend in human ethics is definitely pointing upwards.