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29 February 2008

Probable New House

We are planning to move to Woodcourt St, Marrickville.

Fracture

Fracture was a pretty good film. Very Hollywood, but not bad considering.

26 February 2008

Bicycle Commute Rain

This evening I got what was, without any doubt, the best bicycle commute rain I have ever seen. The roads were so flooded I had to pedal against the current. I had to cycle through streams so strong my bike slid sideways. I had puddles so deep my feet were dragging through the water. I got splashed by trucks and buses. I had to go through dumps of water coming out of gutters.

It was totally winner. And now I am very tired.

There Will Be Blood

I went and saw There Will Be Blood by myself last night. That was a bad idea. I thought it was a very bad film. And the film was very long and it started very late. Daniel Day-Lewis was totally fantastic and the script was rather mesmerising, in a good sort of way. I was enjoying it a lot at first, just for the dialogue. But the story and characters didn't make much sense to me at all. There were a lot of WTF moments. I did fall asleep for a few minutes at the end, but I don't think that made the difference.

I think the problem came down to not having a hot, busty love interest. Bust is a great device for binding plot strands into a coherent story. It's a staple of American cinema, even historical oil-fossicking stories. This director thought he was clever enough to make an oil film without any bust in it, but he was sadly optimistic.

This director, Paul Thomas Anderson, did Punch-Drunk Love, Magnolia and _Boogie Nights. I reckon all three were far better films than this.

A disturbing piece of trivia - it appears that our chum Paul directed Boogie Nights when he was 27. Gee golly. I am almost that old, but certainly not almost that clever.

24 February 2008

No Pooing

No Pooing

20 February 2008

Are you blind?

Are you blind?

Canadian GSS 1991

I like it how if people say they can't read a newspaper with or without glasses, only then do they ask if the person is blind. I also enjoy the mild sense of exasperation in the last question.

18 February 2008

Road Trip!

Road Trip plans are coming along merrily. I will be trying to get in contact with anyone who said they were either fairly interested or very fairly interested. However, if you'd like to express fresh interest to make sure you get contacted, that would be a good idea.

At this stage we're expecting 8-12 people I reckon. So everyone get in now while the group is small.

My phone number is 0423184673 and my email is ryan@footboot.net.

15 February 2008

Cat Power

Libby and I are going to Cat Power on the 9th of March. Hurray for Cat Power. She is a champ. And hurray for jobs that give you money.

Puffer & Winter

It has recently been used to estimate the demand for primary health care (Puffer 1987; Winter, 1986).

An econometric analysis of the demand for private health insurance in England and Wales (Carol Propper)

I wish my surname was Puffer. You know you can trust health care demand research done by someone with a sweet name like Puffer.

There seem to be so many academics with cute surnames. Even Propper is a cute name. Winter isn't so cute, but it is certainly pleasant. I could well imagine getting a solid primary crush on a teacher called Miss Winter.

Bicycle Service

My bike got serviced this week for free. It is so unbelievably much more fun to ride. The brakes work. The gears work. The tires aren't flat. Totally sweet. I got new back brake pads too. But I had to pay for those. It was worth it though. So far they've worked every time.

Bad Mothers

ATTITUDE TOWARD WOMEN WORKING: EMPLYMT OF WIVES LEADS TO JUVENILE DELINQUENCY
     411       1 STRONGLY AGREE
    1543       2 AGREE
     236       3 UNDECIDED
    1870       4 DISAGREE
     288       5 STRONGLY DISAGREE

What was the world like in 1972? Surveys are great.

In 1977, seven women out of 2233 asked said the thing they disliked most about their work was job insecurity. Low earnings, long hours were much more likely to be the worst aspect of a job. I find it hard to imagine a world where nobody is worried about job security. Or even just a world where women aren't.

Lost One or Both Arms

INTERVIEWER: HAS RESPONDENT LOST ONE OR BOTH ARMS:
IF TELEPHONE INTERVIEW, DO NOT ASK RESPONDENT.  SELECT TELEPHONE
INTERVIEW BELOW AND CONTINUE.

    8213       1 R HAS BOTH ARMS
      35       2 LOST RIGHT ARM
       4       3 LOST LEFT ARM
      70       4 LOST BOTH ARMS
     686       5 TELEPHONE INTERVIEW

I often enjoy the way research types talk about "sensitive" topics. Often in their eagerness to appear sensitive, they end up thoroughly failing to be sensitive.

Generosity

If ever there was a situation and a group of Australians who deserved just a tiny bit of generosity of spirit; just a brief pause in the waging of partisan ideological crusades, it is the Stolen Generations. But even that is beyond the modern-day federal ‘Liberal’ Party.

Andrew Bartlett

Comparing Oranges and Trade Deficits

In this world of extensive multilateral trade and investment, of what conceivable relevance is a measure of the volume of good and services trade between any two countries? America's "trade deficit" with China is as relevant as is your "trade deficit" with, say, your columnist Maureen Dowd. I'm sure that every year you buy more from her than she buys from you. I'm also sure that you're not bothered by this "deficit" - and for good reason: in a world of multilateral trade, no two entities are likely to have so-called "balanced" trade with each other.

Don Boudreaux in a letter to the New York Times

This is the kind of logic economists love to use. Although they recognise and spent a lot of time analysing scale effects in other areas, when it comes to making analogies it's popular to compare nations with households. Here Boudreaux baldly states that the US trade deficit is equally relevant to the deficit between one employer and employee. I think that is very unlikely. The US trade deficit has a far bigger impact on the world economy. Very small deficits between small players all tend to wash out. But in the the case of the US we're talking about an enormous temporal imbalance. Nations can spend decades without generating any net value, but individuals don't have that luxury or danger. For sure, it will wash out over time, but that's going to be a painful process. The government may be right in trying to bring forward some of that pain.

I think people do get too worked up about the trade deficit, because it does reflect the immediate preferences of the nation (whatever that means) and because it will eventually balance out on its own. But I don't think it's meaningful to glibly equate a national deficit with an "individual" deficit. Even though I dare say it is quite gratifying to believe the rest of the world is so much stupider than you.

Vanished Again

Emmeline and I spent our Valentine's Days eating suburban pizza at No. 1 Alberto's Pizza and watching Vanishing Point. It's my third seeing of it, and it doesn't get any worse. What a lovely film. And there are a few great scenes that I really love. Even Emmeline thought it was reasonably alright I think.

Bulb

This morning I woke up clutching a fluorescent light bulb in my hand. I don't remember how it happened. This is less weird than you might think, because I can reach the light fitting from my bed and I am rather forgetful. But it's still fairly weird.

11 February 2008

The Kingdom

I spontaneously watched The Kingdom with a soporific Mathew last night. It was rather brilliant. It was sufficiently like other American action movies for me to occasionally yell out loud at the crapness of Americans. But I ended up deciding that this was a choice the director made rather than obliviousness to the crapness of Americans. If you were in doubt about that, I think the final scene made it clear. The movie-goer was there to observe the Americans more than empathise with them.

I'd heard that it was politically incorrect. But I think the intensity and brashness of the film was meant to wake us up more than to titillate. Although titillate it certainly also does. I feel like that is more because it's a fascinating country with all sorts of crazy shit happening, than because Peter Berg over-dramatised it. And more than that I felt like it was fair. Obviously I know less about Saudi Arabia than plenty of people, but I know a little bit and none of it felt wrong.

I love explosions and battles, and all of those scenes were great. There is an huge, intense scene in the first bit which is so well done. The film was a long series of cuts between culturally insensitive comments from Americans and grand, beautifully choreographed battles. Even though I got excited about everything blowing up the film was pretty careful to make sure you kept worrying about all the stuff you didn't see. Some of that was totally overt, but I think that there was more subtle stuff there as well. There was zero sense of conquest or success in it. It was all just shitty. But also interesting and great.

Lust Caution

After a bit of reflection I decided I didn't like Lust Caution. It had a couple of interesting sex scenes - interesting in the interesting sense more than the erotic sense - but apart from that it was rather plain. It felt to me like it was produced by a committee of film students. All the sets were so perfectly settish. The script was so artistically sparse and perfectly conceived. The plot was so neatly structured and unfolded so smoothly and inevitably. The ending was appropriately uncompromising.

Throughout the whole film I felt nothing. Apart from perhaps the occasional crossness at the director - which is certainly better than nothing at all. But despite their best and intensest efforts, I don't think the characters convinced me of anything. I felt more for the baby in Shoot Em Up. Bless his heart.

English Speakers Now Even More Selfless

Migrants from non-English speaking countries are less likely to be volunteers than Australian-born people or migrants from English-speaking nations, a new study shows.

The study, by Ernest Healy, senior research fellow at the Centre for Population and Urban Research at Monash University, challenges the notion that ethnic diversity leads to a stronger, more cohesive society.

Using levels of volunteering as an indicator of social cohesion, the study shows that suburbs with a high degree of ethnic diversity have markedly lower rates of volunteering than more homogenous localities.

Freaking ridiculous! Let's use a Western tradition like "volunteering" as an indicator for social cohesion across any community. Even communities who probably think volunteering is an odd way of spending time with people. Having been a volunteer for many years I would attest that it is thoroughly strange, but better than not spending time with people at all.

Isn't it possible that volunteering is the West's totally flawed response to our failure to build community organically? We need managers to tell us how to help people, because we're not sufficiently in touch with community to just go and help them. Volunteering is really the corporatisation of social cohesion. I'm not convinced it even serves as a good measure of cohesion even in Western societies.

I reckon a much better indicator of cohesion would be to measure the number of times you have had tea with your neighbours grandparents in the last few days. Then we'll really know who cares the most.

Fewer volunteers in migrant suburbs (SMH)

8 February 2008

Too Involved

Please tell me your level of agreement with the following statement: If it keeps him from getting ahead in his job, a father is being too involved with his children.

Only 19% of Americans sampled by the PSID in 2002 "strongly disagreed" with this statement. A very high proportion "disagreed" (66%), but golly gosh. I would have thought 95% would strongly disagree with that. What is the point of getting ahead in your job if not to provide for your kids? I didn't know there were people out there ignoring their kids on principle.

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