Obama birth certificate controversy: I’m still not convinced

I still need convincing that this is a controversy worth talking about. I mean really, the birthers have been on this psychotic witch hunt for too long now. And Obama himself hasn’t done much to stop this getting out of hand so it must be working for him somehow.

The claims originated from Hillary Clinton supporters during the 2008 primaries. Look, I get it that Americans don’t want anything other than an American leader. But it’s really not that bad. The first handful of your Presidents weren’t American-born if you want to be technical about it, and our own Prime Minister is Welsh.

Actually, forget I said that. Bad example.

Since the Obama birth questions were asked we’ve seen the “short form” certificate, but this has been rejected by conspiracists as a hoax. The “long form” certificate was released a couple days ago but it’s still not good enough for some.

It seems a little more legitimate than this one:

Game of Thrones – as good as Rome?

My commute to work includes a 50 minute train ride from Mandurah to Perth. This, along with the wonders of my Android phone and a set of headphones, has allowed me to watch some great TV shows I wouldn’t normally be able to watch for want of time. I’ve been doing this for a while since I moved down here. Last year I watched the entire Alias series straight through. At two episodes a day, it took me around 11 weeks to get through. And boy it was hard going for most of the last season but I figured I had to finish it because I’d already invested in watching 90 episodes.

Of late I’ve picked up on a few other good shows, including Spartacus: Blood and Sand, which was the first season and Spartacus: Gods of the Arena which was the second season. The first series told of an unnamed Thracian soldier (later renamed Spartacus) captured by Romans, sold into slavery and trained as a Gladiator by Roman by the name of Gnaeus Cornelius Lentulus Batiatus, who was played as a completely evil man without a shred of morality, scruples or dignity by John Hannah. It’s said that an audience will hate a good villain but love a great one…well, Batiatus certainly qualifies as the latter. Hell they could have made the entire show center around him and it would have been just as entertaining. The second series Gods of the Arena was a 6 series prequel showing the rise of Batiatus. The entire Spartacus series had completely over the top violence, and showed little subtlety or restraint.

Rome, another sandles and swords genre show, I found was the antithesis of Spartacus. Over two series it tells of the political intrigue and treachery of the classical Roman era around 52BC: Julius Caesar’s friendship of and Betrayal by Pompey Magnus, and the aftermath of Caesar’s assassination being a struggle between his son Octavian (later crowned as Emperor Augusts Caesar) and Marc Antony. The whole story is told from the perspective of two minor characters, an unlikely odd-couple of Roman Soldiers named Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo. This method of storytelling was used famously in The Hidden Fortress by Akira Kurosawa and by George Lucas in Star Wars. For example, Star Wars is told mostly from the point of view of two droids named R2-D2 and C-3PO, but the story is about Anakin Skywalker. This method has a name but I can’t remember. Little Help? Anyhow, Rome is a grand production with lavish sets, fantastic costumes and great acting. And, importantly, from what I understand, it is mostly historically accurate. If you missed it when it showed on TV, then do yourself a favour and find a copy. I thoroughly recommend it.

My new must-watch series is Game of Thrones from HBO, the same producers that brought us Rome. It’s only one episode old so far but it has the same grand scale and ambitious production values. Among others it stars Sean Bean and Lena Heady, and tells political and familial intrigue in a fictitious land. Rome has set expectations very high, but the early verdict is that Game of Thrones is going to be awesome.

Seriously, don’t watch any of these shows with your young ‘uns. You will see lots of sex, lots of explicit violence and hear lots of rude language. But if you can get over these issues then Spartacus and Rome still have entertainment value as well as educational value, though Spartacus very much less so.

A very Perth icon dies

It seems there’s always been this ragtime piano playin’ busker doing his thing in the Murray Street Mall, in Perth. What impressed me was that he was a busker with a freakin’ portable piano. Most buskers carry a guitar, or a flute or some smallish instrument. A certain accordion player was popular for a while. But this dude had a whole piano. It was an upright piano with the front panels exposed so you could see the movement of the little hammers on the strings inside whenever a key was struck. Since he was playing ragtime, there was always plenty of movement in the hammers. Kids, especially, would be mesmerised by the groups of keys dancing back and forth when he played the likes of “The Entertainer”.

Turns out he was a rather talented maestro by the name of John Gill who attended many prestigious schools and played in many bands around the world. He was playing in leading clubs and hotels in Europe and across the US before he moved out here.

I say “was” because he had a heart attack and died on the weekend. He had a bit of a writeup in todays newspaper.

Another little bit of Perth has disappeared.

The Earth is blue. How wonderful. It is amazing.

Today marks the 50th anniversary of of the first manned space flight by Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin, Soviet pilot, cosmonaut and hero.

This article is a good biography on Gagarin, giving some insight into his childhood, his upbringing and his motivations.

During the course of training, Gagarin had shown that he was the most flexible and adaptable to command — and to surrounding circumstances. He knew how to fit in – yet stand out. He had a chameleon-like ability to adapt physically and mentally to every situation – and to maintain lines of communication with the parallel structures. He was quick on the uptake, capable of improvising the proper response and meeting people’s expectations.

Places to not eat at

We made the mistake of going out to dinner with our neighbours on the weekend. Well, no. Going out wasn’t the mistake, nor was the company we kept. The mistake was in choosing our local Chinese restaurant called, imaginatively,  Murray Lakes Chinese Restaurant.

AustralianExplorer.com describes the ambience as “Relaxed, Contemporary”. Whoever came up with this description, I hope they find God someday. There’s nothing contemporary about the decor, as there are no decorations at all. Actually, there’s one or two Chinese lanterns hanging on one but if there’s a word to describe this I wouldn’t think it was “contemporary”.

I’ve never been moved to review or rate restaurants, mostly because I consider restaurant reviewers to have only slightly more credibility than used car salesmen and should be treated with the contempt they deserve. But this meal was so awful that I could not in good conscience leave fellow neighbourhood diners unwarned. Here is a review I left on Google:

No part of our experience with this restaurant was positive. The first giveaway should have been that it was empty on a Saturday night, which is usually a restaurant’s busiest time. We were a party of 12. The dishes were dirty when we sat down, and so were the replacements. Our orders were taken efficiently enough as nobody asked questions on the menu content, but the food arrived at random time intervals. “Who ordered the chicken …. something? I don’t know how to say it” was the funniest, yet most depressing line from the night. I didn’t get my entre, and one guy got nothing at all.

The food was, at best, edible.

A horrible experience.

I have new hardware

We’re all getting new computers at work. Finally, no more 386 with Windows NT! We’ve gone with 8GB laptops, with 256 GB SSDs and dual 1200 x 1920 displays running 64-bit Windows 7 Enterprise.

The only decision now is what to name it. For the last couple years I’ve gone with GAGARIN but I want something new and sexy. I was hoping to get everyone to stick to a theme like the Seven Deadly Sins, but we’d probably end up fighting over WRATH.

We could go with

  • Alecto
  • Magaera
  • Tisiphone

who where otherwise known as The Furies from Greek Mythology, but three isn’t really enough to go around. Seven or more would be ideal. I don’t want something obvious like the Seven Dwarfs. The surnames of The Magnificent Seven might be cool.

Or perhaps the Enterprise Captains:

  • April
  • Pike
  • Kirk
  • Spock
  • Picard
  • Archer
  • Janeway

I was thinking of the names of The Fellowship from The Lord of the Rings, but out of the few hundred hosts on the network they’re pretty much already covered. I’d get shouted down for suggesting Sith Lords from Star Wars or Replicants from Blade Runner so we need something else.

Movies and mythology are fine, but how about something historical? Like the Mercury Astronauts:

  • Shepard
  • Grissom
  • Glenn
  • Carpenter
  • Shirra
  • Cooper
  • Slayton

Seven Emperors?

  • Julius
  • Augustus
  • Galba
  • Hadrian
  • Nerva
  • Sallust
  • Vespasian

In all probability we aren’t going to stick to a theme, so I’ll have to end up choosing something just for myself. I’m partial to Battlestar Galactica characters, or even names of Sci-Fi corporations like Weyland-Yutani, Tyrell, Cyberdine or Greystone.

Leave a comment, give me some suggestions.