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Random blog posts from 2003/2004

Note: My current blog is located here.

28th September 2004

British entrepreneur Richard Branson said Monday that his company plans to launch commercial space flights over the next few years. heh heh. People still laugh at me when I tell them I plan to have a space flight before I die but I reckon the odds are on my side.

Incidentally, Virgin plans to call its first spaceship VSS Enterprise. Can't argue with that choice.

20th January 2004

I hearby predict that the first regularly scheduled commercial space flight will happen before my 40th birthday (April 13th 2006). Come back in two years and see if I was right.

20th July 2003

A story on 20/20 tonight was scary in more ways than one. "Reality Bites" was a report on the trend of shock real-TV programmes such as Scare Tactics which set up elaborate pranks to scare or embarrass unsuspecting victims.

I have to admit it's hard not to laugh. The stunts were very clever and the intensity of real life action certainly has an appeal. But the worst of it was too much for me. The poor guy who thought he was seriously contaminated with radiation poisoning wasn't sharing any of the audience's mirth. He was in a genuine panic.

It's a given that TV affects public behaviour to at least some degree. This seems like a behavioural fire we shouldn't be fanning. How many teenagers will decide to stage their own fake psychopathic murder frenzy? How long will it take until someone defends themselves against an apparently life-threatening attack by finding a knife and killing the prankster? Or doing themselves some harm trying to escape?

The danger is compounded by one of the genre's production advantages - it's easy and cheap to produce. This makes it especially appealing to a very large group of would-be media producers; young inexperienced people wanting to make their mark in the world of television or the internet. Scary stuff.

9th July 2003

Twit of the Day Award goes to the Morrinsville motelier who turned away an Indian family for fear they might be too smelly. Actually I'm not completely unsympathetic toward the motelier - it seems this uncomfortable issue is a real problem in the hospitality industry. Curry is a difficult odour to remove and patrons with less spicey tastes often complain about it.

Still, is anyone other than the Morrinsville motelier surprised at the Indian family's angry reaction? What about the motelier's complaint that the family's response was "rude"? If it was me who had been rejected because my race is too smelly I would have provided a new definition of rude.

8th July 2003

Tonight I was guest speaker at the local Rotary Club. It was the third time I'd spoken at Rotary and the third time i was invited to become a Rotarian. As flattering as it is to be considered worthy of joining a club which supposedly represents the cream of the community, I don't think it's quite the same honour it would have been twenty years ago.

The fact that these service clubs are struggling for members is bad news because the work previously done by them is not being taken on by anyone else.

What is Rotary going to do about it?

I understand how important their traditions are but I really think they need to bend with the wind or break. Personally I could live with quaint habits like singing the National Anthem, I could live with the slightly eccentric formality, but the main reason I won't be joining is that I can't commit to putting Rotary above everything else. In today's world it's just not realistic to say I'll attend every single meeting or that I'll sign up with whichever phone company donates money to Rotary.

Sorry guys (oops, that should be "Sorry Mister President and honoured members"), it's a tragedy to see your decline but unless you're prepared to make more serious concessions to 21st Century life, it's inevitable.

5th July 2003

3 News reported tonight on the Tongan King's 85th birthday celebrations. The issue of Tonga's monarchial rule was brought up and described by one pro-democracy campaigner as a dictatorship. The news item generally swayed toward this point of view, using comparisons between the king's wealth and local poverty as evidence that the king was abusing his position.

The item was reminiscent of reports earlier this year from Iraq, which highlighted the wealth gap between Saddam Hussein and the general populace and used this to condemn Hussein's evil oppression.

What would happen if you took one of these items and replaced the shots of Saddam Hussein's residence or King Taufa'ahau Tupou's palace with the White House or Buckingham Palace? The impoverished Iraqi or Tongan people could be replaced with shots of homeless people from any Western city. Would the voiceover over still make sense with the pictures?

To be honest I can't see a huge difference.