Category: Stuff

Travel Advice

[Felapton Towers at a strange hour. A phone rings. Timothy the Talking Cat sitrs, weak and weary having spent the night pondering over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore. He answers the phone.]

Timothy: Ahoy. Felapton Towers. Timothy the Talking Cat speaking.

Camestros: Hullo, hullo. Timothy! I need a bit of help!

Timothy: Where are you? What is that echoing background noise?

Camestros: I’m in an airport Timothy. And I’ve forgotten something Timothy.

Timothy: OK, take your time. What kind of airport are you in?

Camestros: Ohhhhh it’s a big one Timothy. A BIG one and very international.

Timothy: Would you say it is a hub?

Camestros: Oh very much a hub, Timothy!

Timothy: OK, stay calm. Let me talk you through this.

Camestros: Roger wilco good buddy over.

Timothy: Do you have your boarding pass?

Camestros: Yes yes yes. In my many pocketed trousers Timothy.

Timothy: Do you have your passport?

Camestros: Yes yes yes. Very much in the same trousers but different pocket.

Timothy: Do you have your bag?

Camestros: Yes yes yes. On my back.

Timothy: Did you check your luggage?

Camestros: NO NO NO! No I didn’t!Where is it!

Timothy: Did you HAVE any luggage?

Camestros: Um no.

Timothy: OK, check your bag.

Camestros: It’s got several pairs of dirty socks and dirty underpants in it.

Timothy: OK, good that probably means you are heading home. Now check the bag for electronic devices.

Camestros: Ohhhhh there’s a lot of them.

Timothy: Kindle?

Camestros: Check.

Timothy: iPad.

Camestros: Check.

Timothy: PC Laptop

Camestros: Check.

Timothy: Mac laptop.

Camestros: Check.

Timothy: Raspberry Pi you keep in your boot?

Camestros: Check and worth it just to make a booting up joke.

Timothy: Nest of recharging cables?

Camestros: Yes….and…there’s more than I started with.

Timothy: Wallet?

Camestros: Check, got to have my wallet to buy stuff in this exciting airport.

Timothy: Like what?

Camestros: Oh this place is full of shops for the busy traveller. Shops to cater for a travellers need.

Timothy: For example?

Camestros: Well…diamonds? There’s a Cartier and a Tiffany. If I need some diamonds I’m sorted. Also posh handbags.

Timothy: To keep your diamonds in?

Camestros: Exactly. Also I could by a new suit, very expensive booze or chunky overpriced watches.

Timothy: OK is there a big picture of a celebrity advertising the big chunky overpriced watches?

Camestros: Yes yes yes!

Timothy: Is he looking at you funny?

Camestros: yes yes yes!

Timothy: Have you been riding the travellators backwards for maybe three hours?.

Camestros: Maybeee.

Timothy: Were you stuck in an airport for hours and drank lots of booze because the bar was the only comfy place to sit and recharge your gadgets?

Camestros: Maybeeee.

Timothy: OK I know what you forgot.

Camestros: What!!!

Timothy: You forgot to sleep and are now tripping out on a cocktail of sleep deprivation, airport booze and the alienating architecture of modern aviation.

Camestros: fffreeaaakkkkyyyy

Timothy: See you when you get home.

Camestros: Oh oh we’re boarding! Byeeee.

Timothy: Byeeee….


Timothy’s First Thanksgiving

'Twas the day of Thanksgiving, and close by the cat
Not a creature was stirring, not even a rat;
The house was half empty, no one stood on the stair,
In hopes that a far traveled guest soon would be there;

The robot was nestled all snug in its station,
Recharging its batteries with thoughts of vacation;
And a dinosaur (curled up in her nest),
Had just settled down for a long winter's rest,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
the cat sprang from its bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window he flew like the Flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen leaves
Gave the lustre of mid-day to the roofs and the eaves,
When, what to his wondering eyes should appear,
But a giant fat turkey carrying some beer,

‘Hey, what are you doing!’ said the cat now quite bold,
But the giant fat turkey wouldn’t be told,
‘I’m the spirit of thanks, and I bring you good cheer’
It slurred impolitely while chugging some beer.

‘You are in the wrong country!’ said the cat clearly upset,
Was this really a turkey or some fool dressed up for a bet?
‘I was going to Brooklyn’ said the turkey with care,
‘But my wings are too stubby to fly all the way there...’.

‘..I live on the farm, just down the path,
and I thought a US Thanksgiving would be kind of a laugh.’
The cat understood then that the turkey was drunk,
Its movements erratic and its breath clearly stunk.

‘It was either stay there and wait till it's Yule,
and hang around gobbling for a month like a fool,
Or set off to the land of my ancestral home,
But I swiftly got lost and found myself all alone.’

The cat was confused but not unsympathetic,
And frankly the turkey’s tale was pathetic,
He didn’t have the heart to explain quite in depth,
That Thanksgiving involved the inebriated bird’s death.

‘OK’ said the cat, 'As November is shit,
Let’s all have a party to give thanks to it.’
And that’s what they did and they ate pumpkin pie
Which sounded disgusting but they gave it a try.

The robot, the puppy, the dino, the man,
Ate cranberry sauce they got from a can,
Then all back to sleep because they’d eaten too much,
And the turkey slept too, in an old rabbit hutch.

But the cat stayed awake, feeling some need,
Confused that for once, that he had done a good deed.
And softly he said, though it gave him a fright,
'Thanksgiving to all turkeys and to all turkeys good night…'

Nothing to see here

This is just me messing about with the Gutenberg editor and seeing what does what. So far I’ve mixed feelings. This is certainly a more flexible editor and it allows for more complex layouts and page design. However, for a blog, the old editor allowed for quicker composition of posts with just a few features.

This is a ‘cover’ block. I’m not sure when I’d use it. It’s for putting text over the top of an image. I guess for ‘inspirational’ quotes?

I can see how this might be nice but it is the sort of stuff that you have to plan for and layout/design choices are a great way to not write anything. Lots of writers use more stripped down writing tools and there is a good argument for separating content generation from content layout. Gutenberg is mixing the two and that means either ignoring these features or getting distracted by them.

That last block was a spacer. I guess it just creates some empty space?

Meh, a button. Just a fancy formatted hyperlink. What I’d like is to run Javascript on my page and have buttons that do stuff.

But how about columns? Text organised into columns could be kind of cool if I can work out how they join together? I don’t think the text spills over from one column to the next.

I think they operate more like separate text boxes. Yet why am I going to do this? Perhaps to present too contrasting ideas side by side?

I don’t know what this is?

TablesPast issues
Current issues
Oh dear
WordPressHas always been
bad at HTML
FrustratingGiven how much
tabular data
I post!

I often just use list instead. It doesn’t look like tables have got any better, with few controls over their formatting. Shame.

Let’s try out “syntax format highlighter code”

function imageShifter(direction,layer){
var current;
var newPic;
var newUrl;
var newTag;
var arrayLength;
if (direction==2){current=0;}
newTag='<img id="L'+layer+'Url" src="'+newUrl+'" width=25>';
document.getElementById("L"+layer+"Num").innerHTML=current+" ";
I wonder if a block so terse,
Could be made for showing verse?
And if such a block was plain,
Would it's use be in vain?

Nope, don’t know why there is a verse block.

The Nepean

About that walk I mentioned earlier. I headed off to the western edge of Sydney to look at a new footbridge that has been built over the Nepean River. The Nepean is the sort of thing that in a European country would have its own big city on and maybe a castle or two. For Sydney it is more of an afterthought but as the city fills in its green spaces, the area around the river is becoming more important as a recreation space – hence a new footbridge.

Some photos:

This is from the motorway bridge, the footbridge is just out of view. I stupidly didn’t take any good photos of the footbridge from a distance.

This is on the footbridge:

And from the bridge of the river:

The purple is jacaranda trees blooming and here are some more:

And this is looking back up the river towards where I took that first photo:

The escarpment in the distance is the start of the Blue not-really-Mountains, which runs parallel to this section of the river.

Voxopedia again

For my sins, I listened to a Vox Day video about his plans for a Twitter/Gab replacement. I say ‘listened’ because I was out for a walk. I usually avoid video because it’s a crap informational medium — you get a lot of rambling, it’s hard to skip about and review what people said earlier in light of what they said later and it’s hard to quote. I think people structure their ideas less well in these kinds of videos and given how poorly rightwing pundits structure their ideas, video ramblings provide little insights.

What had caught my interest was that much of the content was actually about Voxopedia, the vanity Wikipedia project that’s just like Wikipedia but out of date and with nonsense attached. I was curious because manifestly as a project it has failed and clearly at some point it will be abandoned. I had assumed that it had already slipped into a zone of lack-of-interest as newer, shinier projects competed for attention*. But it seems not. rather Vox was holding up Voxopedia as a shining example of how he has all the experience he needs to run a social network.

Now note, currently Voxopedia has about 6-10 active editors or whom only two really are doing any work, two of whom are just feuding conspiracy theories maintaining their own separate (and incompatible) conspiracy pages, one of whom is engaged  in a personal campaign to document all things about Englebert Humperdinck (and nothing else) and one of whom is doing nothing but write hate pieces about transgender people.

Vox’s plan for Voxopedia was that every visitor could tailor what they see to their own perspective. The theory being that a leftwing person might edit a page and a rightwing person might edit a page and then somehow (if you know the biases of the editors) you could see a version of the page that matched your own position. The obvious flaw in that plan is the same as the flaw in the more basic plan of just cloning Wikipedia: a wiki needs active editors and Voxopedia doesn’t have them because nobody with genuine subject matter expertise would want to be involved with it (barring subject matter expertise in Englebert Humperdinck, and to be fair Voxopedia does now have better coverage of Mr Humperdinck than Wikipedia).

It’s fascinating to me because I’m genuinely interested in flawed thinking, in particular when there is a big and obvious gap between the model presented and the facts in evidence or when a person adopts locally a belief/ideology/philosophy that they are opposed to more globally. In the case of Voxopedia, Vox’s aspiration is one of a radical subjectivism about truth: i.e. that people should be able to read an encyclopedia that matches their perspective and that the problem with Wikipedia is that it tries to have definitive (at least for a point in time) articles. Wikipedia, of course, sidesteps the issue of ‘truth’ and aims for two standards: verifiable and notable. Voxopedia abandons both which leads to this

That questions on the nature of truth can be ideological is nothing new but circumstances have led to the right having to simultaneous assert a dogmatic adherence to a rigid concept of THE TRUTH whilst embracing a radical scepticism/subjectivism. The left has no shortage of questions and weird positions about the nature of truth also but the core difference is that on the left those form a genuine debate and for practical purposes, there is a working shared understanding that facts matter. Voxopedia takes this descent into radical subjectivism further in principle (although in practice its just six guys scribbling over a copy of Wikipedia) and makes the basic question of quality control an ideological one. It’s only not worse precisely because hardly anybody edits it at all.

Vox does raise one interesting point: “it’s impossible to claim that Infogalactic is Wikipedia for Nazis” The point here is to contrast it with the rapidly collapsing Gab which often has been described as Twitter for Nazis. He asserts the reason for this lies with how well it has been managed. However, the core reason is that Voxopedia is Wikipedia for about 6 to 10 guys and you can literally describe it in terms of the personal interests of a few people (for example Englebert Humperdinck). At least one of those people has vehemently extreme hate for a marginalised group but there’s just not enough people actively involved in the project to call it Wikipedia for anything. Ironically, it’s just not NOTABLE enough. When it gets covered by serious media it is usually as part of an overall survey of odd alt-right alternative internet sites.

That’s one of the reasons I still write about it weirdly enough. I don’t see much point in writing about things that are written about better elsewhere. As things stand, amid all the obnoxious and terrible things the right is currently doing in the world, Voxopedia is small beer. That doesn’t mean its harmless but it isn’t a major locus of organisation on the right because…and I can’t help but labour this point…it’s really just 6 to 10 guys slightly vandalising a Wikipedia clone.

As for Voxopedia’s capacity to project different perspectives, the only function its gained is that Vox himself now has TWO versions of his own vanity page on his own vanity encyclopedia. This is how it works. There’s the main page which is a censored version of a page about him (a whole chunk of stuff about his Comicsgate feud has been removed) and then there’s a ‘Verified’ tab which is the same page but with only his own edits on it.


*[That’s not even a criticism. Starting wacky projects and then getting bored with them because of something more fun is no character flaw in itself. When all your wacky projects are pointlessly evil, then that’s the core of the problem, not your attention span.]