Tuesday, 31 January 2006

Free Society

Can a society operate without money and without trade? If there is no money, then everything is free. If everything is free, there is no poverty, because you can have all you need. If everything is free, there is no greed and hence no crime. If health care is free, nobody dies of curable diseases. If education is free, there is no intellectual elite and no information hoarding or propaganda. It looks good on the surface.

The problems are deeper. If everything is free, why should I work to produce anything? I can have everything I need as well as all my time to myself. I can be a voluntary leech on society. So can everyone else, so nobody would work. Since nobody is working, nothing gets produced, and everyone goes hungry, gets sick and stays uneducated.

If there is an economy, it is based on worth. Direct trade has had a layer added to it - an abstraction called "money" - on which we base it all. I sell my time and skills at work for money and use it to buy the food I need. This is more convenient for everyone, because my time and skills are not of direct value to everyone from whom I require goods and services, and it would be impractical for me to trade directly with all of them.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - This post inspired by Space Wasters by David Garnett.
PPS - I have yet to find it listed on Amazon, so no links today.

Monday, 30 January 2006

LMAO @ Dane Cook

This morning I am the crazy person on the bus with headphones on, laughing at things you can't hear. It's just rude, I know, but Dane Cook is one funny guy. I'm listening to Harmful If Swallowed, and I've seriously lost it by halfway through. I'm trying not to be loud, but I can't tell, because I'm the one with the headphones. Unfortunately I had to stop before it finished, because it's longer than the bus ride.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It just took way too long to load a Google search for "Dane Cook".
PPS - And his website is apparently half-finished.

Sunday, 29 January 2006

The Sunday Mok - Dinosaur bones and other dead things

I've already expressed how good last Sunday was. I sang in the evening church service and played City of Heroes in the afternoon.
Monday evening I went to a post-Youthworx basketball night, but just sat and watched because of my knee. Afterwards I watched a couple of Stargate SG-1 episodes with Deb and stayed up just a bit too late.
I spent Tuesday at work designing security for a new (upgraded, really) personnel database. It's always a problem. In the evening, Deb and I rented A Lot Like Love and the original Stargate movie, to give Deb a better background in that particular sci-fi construct.
Though I ate at Deb's on Wednesday night, I went home afterwards, because I didn't feel like being around people. I played City of Heroes for a while, then turned in early.
On Thursday, Australia Day, I went to Bridgit's for a large late barbeque lunch, then had a small dinner at Dad's - since lunch was so big, I didn't feel like much for dinner.
Friday was when we finally heard back from our new HR manager about the allowed scope of the new personnel database - much smaller than either David, he or I had hoped. After work I saw Memoirs of a Geisha with Deb. It was a bit too long.
I went for an exercise walk with Deb on Saturday morning, though I walked much further to get to her place and back. In the afternoon we went to the Queensland Museum. After I cooked dinner, we watched some Angel episodes.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Things seem to be rather routine.
PPS - I'll try to do something crazier this week.

Friday, 27 January 2006

The Other One That Got Away

In all probability, with all the people you meet and the encounters you have, it's a reasonable assumption that there is someone out there who thinks of you as "the one that got away". Imagine that. It might be someone you just passed at the supermarket one time, who returned an idle smile, or someone you met at a party - a friend of a friend - with whom you had a brief but memorable conversation. Life's like that.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Be nice to the strangers you meet.
PPS - You might be making an impression that will last a lifetime.

Thursday, 26 January 2006

Happy Birthday, Australia!

Today is Australia Day, once known as Foundation Day. We celebrate by not working, cooking steaks and sausages and swimming, all of which I plan to do today, if possible.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Not simultaneously.
PPS - Because you shouldn't eat while (or before) swimming.

Wednesday, 25 January 2006

Missing Ink

I've been reading Space Wasters from the Lifeline Bookfest, and I'm about a third of the way through, so now would be a terrible time to misplace the book. That's exactly what I've done. I know I had it after I got off the bus, and I know I don't have it this morning. The only two possibilities that I see are that I left it in Katrina's car, who drove Deb and I from the bus stop to home, or that I brought it inside and left it there. In either case, it's not here now.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - This is my first post from a new web browser, Flock.
PPS - It keeps my bookmarks online on del.icio.us.

Tuesday, 24 January 2006

It's my first day

It's easy to tell that today is the first day back for most Queensland schools. The first clue is that my bus trip, usually 25-30 minutes long extended to a full hour or more. And it's quite clear that the reason for this delay is parents driving their kids to school, because I didn't see a single one walking.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Many people are upset by this.
PPS - I now have an extra fifteen minutes to make up during the work day.

Monday, 23 January 2006

I love my friends (awww)

Last night after church was my kind of party. We all headed down to the local Coffee Club and had various cold or hot milk-based beverages, some chips and lots of laughs. It's been too long since I've felt like a successful social comedian, so last night was a great confidence-booster. Also, I love having those running gags with friends. One about me is that I have a "To Do" list that looks something like this:
1. Buy new shoes.
2. Learn to make drums from human skin.
3. Kill Erin. Make a drum.
So now with the first item done, it's apparently threatening (in a very amusing way) for me to start drumming on the table.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - You probably have to be there.
PPS - That's the whole point.

Sunday, 22 January 2006

The Sunday Mok - Semi-anniversary

On and off during the week, but especially on Sunday, I had extreme urges to get my long hair cut off. It's just too hot here, and I feel silly with it tied back all the time. Besides church, I played City of Heroes and watched some old recorded Rage plus Stargate SG-1.
On Monday night, Dad, Ug and I went to Sizzler for dinner. It's set to become a semi-regular thing. In City of Heroes later on, I took Dire Sun into the Player-vs-Player zone "Warburg" for the first time. He didn't get splatted, so I consider it a success.
Tuesday evening, with the rest of the crew, I saw The Producers. I laughed, though I thought Matthew Broderick was way over the top.
I finally had a meeting with our new HR manager on Wednesday to discuss the future of Human Resources software in the company. I think the project we outlined was a bit much. It would, however, keep me rather busy for over a year.
Thursday evening, before dinner at Dad & Beth's, I went to the doctor about my left wrist. I suspected it was tendonitis, since it usually went away if I strapped it up. The doctor said it was tendonitis and I should strap it up and/or take some anti-inflammatory tablets.
Friday night was Deb's and my semi-anniversary: six months. I bought her some nice earrings and a pendant, and we had dinner at the Summit Restaurant on Mt Coot-tha.
Saturday was my first time ever at the Lifeline Bookfest. I came away with a bundle of $36 worth of science fiction that took two bags to carry. It's likely to be a while before I even get around to the first one.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Sometime soon I should explain the name "Ug the Caveman" as relates to my brother.
PPS - He decided on the name himself, so it's not like I'm deliberately insulting him.

Friday, 20 January 2006

Power Yoga

There are usually flyers taped to the light poles outside the office advertising some yoga school. Usually I read as far as "yoga" and lose interest, but today I took a closer look. Every morning, from 6:30 to 7:30, if you so choose, you could take part in a class called "Power Yoga". All you yoga nuts can tell me what it actually is, if you want to, but for now I'm going with my mental image of regular yoga going really fast.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - That's assuming it's not regular yoga while skydiving.
PPS - I think that's "Extreme Yoga", though.

Thursday, 19 January 2006

Tickin' away

I wonder sometimes if I am an idealist that will eventually have my dreams completely crushed out of me. Then I wonder if I dream new dreams faster than the old ones are crushed. Picture a person placing eggs down in front of a slow-moving steam roller. One is likely moving faster than the other, resulting either lots of dreams or a guy doing his pancake impression.

That is possibly the secret to remaining idealistic - keep dreaming new dreams. The world needs dreamers to keep us moving forward.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - My first draft said "a person laying eggs down...".
PPS - Somehow it conjured the wrong image.

Wednesday, 18 January 2006

Kingdom of Loathing

Yesterday I started another low-tech online game that is feasible to play during my lunch hour at work: Kingdom of Loathing. Though I'd heard of it before, I had a different picture in my head, and a different idea of how it worked, and I'd decided it wasn't for me. This often happens to me. I originally thought a "web log" was just an automatically-posted browser history.

KoL is a role-playing game, but everything's just a little bit twisted and a bit tongue-in-cheek. My character is a "Pastamancer" who is currently wearing ravioli for a hat and attacking things with a pasta spoon.

I'm interested in this game primarily because it includes a crafting system (which is pretty standard in online RPGs, but not City of Heroes). Using "meat paste", you can fuse together items in your inventory to create other items. Somehow it's just a fascinating concept to me, and it may eventually lead me away from City of Heroes to World of Warcraft. But not today. Today I try to fuse my "magicalness in a can" with something, for no really good reason.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - KoL is a bit more involved than Urban Dead.
PPS - Also, it has pictures. Stick figures and the like.

Tuesday, 17 January 2006

Just Kidding

I need people to know that sometimes I can't tell if they're joking. Brad told me someone wanted to take my desk on Boundary Street. He was kidding and I didn't know. Bronwyn showed me some shoes she said she was considering to buy. She was kidding and I didn't know. Various evil intents and actions are often ascribed to me and were palmed off on my evil twin, Lucas. I just don't know if everyone is joking. You'd think someone who makes people laugh would be able to tell rather easily what's a joke and what's serious. Unfotunately, a lot of the time it just goes over my head when you kid with me and run a really long way with a gag. Even a short way and I can get lost. I usually have an inkling that something might be wrong, but I also get that inkling at times when someone is actually serious, so it's not a reliable indicator. It also seems that people don't know exactly when to take me seriously (not very often).

The point is this: if everyone could just wear big neon signs over their heads that say "kidding", and switch them on when they're not being serious, that'd help me a lot.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - There are probably other ways.
PPS - For now, I'm going to stick with my neon sign suggestion.

Monday, 16 January 2006

Pointless Endeavour

I've decided I don't like mowing the lawn. There are many possible explanations for this - the most likely being that it's a bit of hard work in the sun that has to be redone every couple of weeks. I also have a character that appreciates things primarily if they are improving. Somehow that doesn't include mowing. While I realise that mowing makes the lawn better, it gets worse again, and mowing will never improve it beyond a well-mowed state.

So my problem is: what do I do about it? I've thought of a few options, and the most appealing to me at the moment is to purchase some kind of robot to take care of everything. I suppose I could also buy a sheep or two, but I think the robot would work a little more consistently.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - An army of robot slaves is certainly an idea that appeals to me.
PPS - Perhaps that's my evil genius side talking.

Sunday, 15 January 2006

The Sunday Mok - I should vacuum this keyboard

Last Sunday while grocery shopping I encountered Rory unexpectedly. He told me about Michael's visit from the UK. While I was glad to see him, it would have been nice if I'd managed to hear about it sooner.
I went back to work on Monday after a month off. The month's worth of email was primarily concerned with Christmas events and was summarily deleted. In the evening, I watched Angel at Deb's.
On Tuesday, I forgot to take my keys home from the office. This is a problem I've encountered before, but I usually catch it before I get to the bus. This time I was all the way home before it even registered. Despite knocking, ringing the doorbell and making noise outside a window, I had to call on my phone before Ug the Caveman answered the door.
I got approval on Wednesday to start on the work I'd been doing since Monday. It was all I had to do anyway. At lunchtime I wrote a quick and dirty program to solve sudoku puzzles. For dinner we went to Nando's at West End for Stu's birthday and ate some spicy chicken. Not very spicy, mind you.
On Thursday, for the regular family dinner, Deb and I brought a chocolate cheesecake for dessert. It was really very good. I like cheesecake. After we left, we came back to my place and watched Eddie Izzard's Dress to Kill on DVD.
After work on Friday I came home and started watching a Stargate SG-1 episode, then went to Deb's to sit through dinner (I'd already eaten) and sit in relative silence while she caught up with her Mum who had just arrived back from Guam.
I mowed the lawn again on Saturday, as well as doing some washing and grocery shopping. Deb cooked lunch and I cooked dinner. In the afternoon some removalists came to get Sarah's washing machine that's been sitting in our garage for quite some time. The did not, however, remove the lounge suite that's been in our entryway.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - There was more Angel watching on Saturday.
PPS - In fact, besides what I mentioned, that's pretty much all that happened.

Friday, 13 January 2006

Hung Up

I don't know exactly what appeals to me about Madonna's song Hung Up. It's not the woman herself, and it's certainly not the music video. It might be the instruments used and the musical theme, which tend to remind me of old video games. It's probably also the rhythm of it all (as opposed to "The Beat", about which I care not at all). Whatever it is, I just have to say that I like it, as lizards like the Sun.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Madonna has had a long time to become good at what she does.
PPS - Fill in the mental blank yourself, there.

Thursday, 12 January 2006


A while ago I was introduced to Sudoku puzzles - a kind of number crossword in a nine-by-nine grid. As is my habit, I started designing a program to work with them (even though plenty are available for sale or for free). After days of designing elegant software structures to enable the several features I wanted to include, I bit the bullet and hacked up a quick and dirty text-mode program that does nothing but solve the puzzle. It took about half an hour to write, and it works just by placing numbers and seeing if they fit, backtracking as necessary when a problem is encountered.

I'm not entirely sure what my point is, but I think it has something to do with wasted design effort.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I'm back in sleep-deprived mode.
PPS - It didn't take long, did it?

Wednesday, 11 January 2006

To die with a surprised look

It must be a terrible realisation in your last seconds of life when you realise that the answer to your sarcastic question "What's he gonna do, shoot me?" is actually "Yes.".

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It's probably the quickest way to bring an invincibility complex to an end.
PPS - Too bad it doesn't last.

Tuesday, 10 January 2006

Windows Vista Security

One thing Microsoft *must* get right in the next Windows is security. If any old worm, virus and trojan horse program is allowed to pop onto your PC and do its business in Windows Vista, Microsoft will start losing an alarming amount of market share. Not all of it, though, because there are still some users who are properly indoctrinated that they can't live without Windows. The point is that security is (or should be) a major concern of users these days, so if the operating system is built without that as a primary objective, it will be seen as a failure. The global and instant communication network presents an immediate opportunity to malicious and benevolent software alike, and steps must be taken to sift the good from the bad.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - We may gradually and eventually get there.
PPS - That is if the net doesn't first implode under the weight of corporate greed.

Monday, 9 January 2006


My friend Michael came back from the UK for a visit about three weeks ago and is leaving today. By sheer luck I heard about yesterday's farewell dinner in time to be there. Why didn't I hear about this? I blame Microsoft, and this time I'm not being as flippant as you might think. Mister Michael announced his visit plans via email to everyone, which Hotmail counts as "mass email" and routed to my Junk Mail box. I didn't check in time, because I hardly use my Hotmail account at all anymore, and the announcement vanished forever. Curse you Microsoft!

Mokalus of Borg

PS - This just a few days after (almost) sticking up for them.
PPS - Why do they toy with me like this?

Sunday, 8 January 2006

The Sunday Mok - A world of dreams

Last Sunday started twice. Once at 4am to watch the first sunrise of the new year and then again at 07:30. I slept at home after church, then played City of Heroes for a while. After the evening church service, I watched The Wedding Singer with Erin, Deb, Murrae, Scott, Michelle, René, Sam and Stu.
I spent Monday at Deb's, including a Youthworx reunion barbeque and swim. Deb and I left a little early for dinner at my Dad's place. We watched a little Angel at my place after that.
I bought a new DVD player on Tuesday, plus some shoes. We rented Signs on DVD and had to have it replaced because the disc was faulty. I didn't get to see it that night anyway, because of a power outage.
I spent Wednesday alone playing City of Heroes and also did some grocery shopping. I found the YAAFM videos on zipperfish.com and watched a few. You'll know what the acronym means if you go there. Deb and I cooked a Thai green chicken curry for dinner for her family.
I felt better on Thursday following a bit of a slump from Tuesday. I slept in and played City of Heroes for a while. After lunch, I picked up Debbie and we went to see Just Like Heaven.
I went for an exercise walk on Friday - the first in a long time. Following that, I spent the whole day at Deb's watching Angel. That's about it.
On Saturday I went to Dreamworld with Stu, Bridgit, Erin, Murrae and Kirsty. It was fun, especially going on The Claw, the latest big ride. I hadn't been on it before. I was exhausted when I got home.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Yeah, I think that about covers it.
PPS - I'm off to finish watching YAAFM.

Friday, 6 January 2006

(Almost) Sticking Up for Microsoft

The one thing I have noticed that Microsoft does slightly better than Google is supporting international users, like me. Google services tend to support primarily (or only) the United States. Sometimes there is a note to the effect that they plan, sometime in the future, to support international users.

Microsoft, on the other hand, will usually have at least some information or services with Australian information alongside the US info. Little as it may be, it's more than Google gives me sometimes.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I should have an example, shouldn't I?
PPS - Got one: the Weather box on Google Desktop Sidebar vs MSN Weather.

Thursday, 5 January 2006

The worst of the worst

In Ann Rice's vampire novels, the vampires can move too quickly for human eyes to see, and basically the only things that can kill them are fire, beheading and sunlight. The older ones can hear your thoughts, move objects with their minds and fly. Their personalities are intact - they are the same person dead as they were alive.

In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the vampires are demons in dead bodies who remember the life of their vessel. They are malicious and evil, every one. They take delight in the kill and creating pain, but cannot enter a home without an invitation.

In Bram Stoker's novel Dracula, the vampire can enter any room that is not completely airtight, and can transform into various forms such as a wolf or bat.

The worst kind of vampire to encounter, combining these attributes, would be one who is too old to be burned by the sun, is evil through and through, can enter any room or home (even if the door is locked) and kill you before you even see it coming.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - You could be attacked in broad daylight.
PPS - And you'd be dead before you blink.

Wednesday, 4 January 2006

DVD luxury

Yesterday I enjoyed a certain novelty that most of you would take for granted. You see, I purchased a new DVD player, and it actually plays my discs! Our old "Palsonic" player had all kinds of troubles with my Buffy, Angel and Stargate: SG-1 DVDs. It's latest trick was to reset itself after I navigated through the menus and select an episode to play. Now, thankfully, that is all in the past.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - My only gripe with the new player is the short length of its power cord.
PPS - But I guess it's not size that matters.

Tuesday, 3 January 2006

Thy matriarch is corpulent

The word "Momma" for "Mother" does not translate into Commonwealth English at all. "Mumma" simply does not make sense. It may be this reason that has kept obnoxious "Your momma so fat" jokes out of Australia. For this, I am grateful.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I told you this was the best country in the world.
PPS - Even if it is only for that reason.

Monday, 2 January 2006

Physical file type abstraction

I have this idea about operating systems and file types - I shouldn't have to know much at all about file types themselves, but rather just that a particular file contains video information. One media player should be plenty, which means I just need drivers to encode and decode the data from the physical file type. I shouldn't need to install Windows Media Player, Quicktime and RealPlayer at home - I should be able to choose one that appeals to me and have it play any video format for which I have a codec. That's a layer of abstraction on top of the current Windows model, so what I end up with is literally video files, images, music, documents and so on, rather than .MOV, .AVI, .MPG, .RM, .JPG, .BMP, .PNG, .GIF, .MP3, .OGG, .WMA, .WAV, .DOC, .PDF, .TXT, .SXW...

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I realise that some media players can use enough different codecs to be almost universal.
PPS - That's just a start.

Sunday, 1 January 2006

The Sunday Mok - Merry New Solar Circuit

Last Sunday, you recall, was Christmas Day. I spent lunch and dinner at Dad & Beth's with the step-siblings. I liked the layered salad (probably because it contained a tasty cheese and mayonnaise) and playing cards in the air conditioning.
I skipped breakfast on Monday, which is significant because I cannot actually remember ever doing so before. I was still full from Christmas. I watched Buffy with Deb past the end of season 6.
On Tuesday we finished the second-last Buffy box set. Time had begun to be measured in Buffy episodes and Buffy box sets. I ate dinner at home, because the holidays have meant an accumulation of fresh food here that's not otherwise getting eaten so much.
I spent Wednesday morning playing City of Heroes, then went to Deb's for more Buffy and dinner. After we stopped watching DVDs for the night, we had a long conversation.
Deb and I went shopping on Thursday, mostly to compare and price DVD players, since ours here doesn't play everything I've got. We swam at Stu's in the afternoon with representative portion of the church crowd, then had dinner at Dad and Beth's, as is the Thursday tradition.
I mowed the lawn on Friday, rather poorly. Since a poor job is much like a careful one, only quicker, I'm not too cut up about my slackness. I installed an old hard drive in an old PC for Dad, then Deb and I started spring cleaning the rumpus room. It'll be a nice (and comfortably-temperatured) place when we're done with it.
Saturday was New Year's Eve, and I tried to spend it resting up for a big night. I couldn't sleep or even doze, though. Deb and I headed out to Lydia and Rich's new place to see the fireworks and catch up with my friends who I see far too irregularly. That's all my fault, by the way.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - My tradition of staying awake for the sunrise had a three-hour nap component this year.
PPS - That's because I still made it to church this morning.