Facebook to introduce cross-site posting?

Facebook screenshot

Look at this photo. Notice something odd? (Other than the weird gaps where I’ve edited out the surnames, that is). Instead of the usual hyperlinked name “Joe Bloggs posted on your wall…” it’s instead saying “Facebook User Joe Bloggs…” now, that may seem minor; but consider this, what is the point of distinguishing the fact that someone posting something on Facebook is a “Facebook User”? Currently, the only people who can post anything on Facebook are Facebook Users. It’s needless information. And, what’s more, it wasn’t there a minute ago. This is a screenshot that I just took of my Facebook for Android application, after noticing the sudden change (previously, the application had highlighted names, like every other version of Facebook).

So, why would Facebook go to the effort of modifying their code to make this meaningless distinction? Well, it’s possible they’re doing it to distinguish between, say, people posting on my wall, and Applications/Fan Pages/&c. But this seems rather unnecessary – if I see that William Shatner (if only!) or FarmVille (gag unto me with a spoon!) has posted on my wall, I’m usually immediately aware that they’re not someone I went to high-school with.

The more likely explanation, then, is that soon people who aren’t Facebook Users will soon be able to post things on Facebook. It could be that in the near future you may see “Digg User DonkeyBites4 has posted a link on your wall…” or “YouTube User schmoyoho has posted a video to your wall…” basically, it’d be Facebook Connect, only in reverse. The motive is obvious; the more internet content drawn into Facebook, the more of your attention is captured and monetised by Facebook.

Assuming they do this, I’d lay 2:1 odds of yet another privacy debacle as they try to figure out how to manage the nightmare of managing privacy settings when linked in to multiple external websites. “Photos tagged of me are visible to users of YouTube, but not Digg, or Slashdot users with less than Excellent Karma”, anyone?

Of course, this is all speculation, based solely on what may be little more than a glitch in the Facebook client for Android – it’s not currently showing up on the desktop, mobile or touch versions of Facebook site – but then again, the Facebook Android client was just updated several times recently, and it’s possible that in the process someone accidentally left in a bit of code signalling what may just be the future.

Published in: on August 28, 2010 at 7:11 am  Comments (2)  

Dispatches from the wilds of I-don’t-use-f*cking-Twitter

Twitter is the crushing revelation that brevity isn’t the soul of wit.

Published in: on July 31, 2009 at 11:33 am  Comments (2)  

Dispatches from the wilds of unemployed belligerence

Once again, dear readers, we find ourselves witness to the political lunacy that deservedly earns that tag “only in America, folks!” I am speaking, of course, of the website Less Jobs, More Wars. Now, before you start lambasting me with incredulity; “what’s wrong with that?”, “that’s a great idea!”, &c., let me explain something: the site is satirical. That’s right. The truth of the matter is that their real beliefs are so palpably absurd that they’re practically obscene: these panty-waist liberals don’t actually believe in the excellent philosophy of less jobs and more wars. Quite the opposite; they actually want more jobs and less wars. That’s right, you heard me, MORE jobs, LESS wars. And what’s worse, they actually mock the rational (pro-unemployment, anti-pacifism) view. Extraordinary!

Indeed, even as you sit (undoubtedly at your office desk) reading this, the liberals are conspiring to steal your precious free time and replace it with back-breaking hard work! There was another political leader who gained prominence for revitalising a flagging economy and creating new jobs – you know what his name was? Hitler. That’s right, I said it, Godwin’s law be damned, these jerks are out-and-out Nazis. Not only is it bad enough that they think that you should be working more, but they want all sorts of other people in the workplace – women, for instance! even single mothers! Indeed, so great is their fetish for suffering (“employment” being the “politically correct” parlance) that they even want to put criminals in the workplace! If you don’t believe me, just ask one! They’ll tell you that “reformed criminals” deserve a “fair go” in the workplace – apparently we’re supposed to believe that just because they’ve “served their time”, little Johnny-baby-eater can be trusted with our precious paper-clips. NOT IN MY STATIONERY CUPBOARD, thankyouverymuch.

Now, as if all that wasn’t bad enough, they’ve decided to compound their sins by taking away our god-given right to blow shit (and people) up. Human beings love war, we revel in it – it’s in our very nature. We invented flint weapons before fire, the wheel, writing and religion. Just look at the predominant genres of computer games currently being sold: First Person Shooters and Real Time Strategy. We love movies like Saving Private Ryan, A Few Good Men and Forrest Gump. Who here can honestly say they didn’t stay up all night devouring Sun Tzu’s The Art of War the first time they read it? Who doesn’t get weak at the knees at the sight of John Rambo, Horatio Hornblower or Winston Churchill? There’s nothing we love more than a good war – so much so that we’ll go to war on the flimsiest of excuses. And yet these long-haired hippy pinkos want to take away a universal pastime that pre-dates history itself, an activity so natural even ants do it – and for what? Because it’s not “nice”? Not “good for us”? “A tool for major corporations to exploitatively reap huge profits at the expense of innocents”? Mark my words; give in, and they’ll use the same excuse to take candy from babies next. War is what makes the world a place worth living – just imagine a world without war; what would we do? Sit around crocheting place-mats? Have high tea and discuss the latest BBC miniseries staring Colin *swoon* Firth? The men of the world would end up such a bunch of pillow-biting nancy-boys that there sure as shootin’ wouldn’t be any baby makin’ getting done.

At least it would save them the trouble of stealing the candy.

Published in: on February 12, 2008 at 6:03 pm  Comments (2)  

Dispatches from the wilds of apologetica

The dream, dear friends, is at an end. Any hope that we might be an egalitarian and moral society has been quashed. The Liberal party, you see, has agreed to say “sorry”. To the naked eye, that might seem like a good thing, but remember:

True love means never having to say you’re sorry.

For so long, under the auspices of the Howard government, the Australian people loved their native inhabitants. We loved them stubbornly and unrelentingly. We loved them even though they didn’t love us back. We loved them even though they didn’t appreciate all that we had done for them. We loved them even though they didn’t deserve it. We loved them even when we held big marches to say that we didn’t. But now, with a few poorly-chosen words, we will wash that all away, destroying centuries of loving relationship. Now, with that last great bastion of tolerance and open-mindedness sailing off into the twilight, it is painfully apparent that our nation is at the beginning of a long painful decline into unthinking prejudice and intolerance. Farewell, John, we’ll miss you.

Published in: on February 7, 2008 at 5:01 pm  Comments (1)  

Dispatches from the gilded cage of the cutting edge

(Wherein our intrepid hero tweets merrily at the coal-miners)

Some time ago I read an article on the recent trend of pharmaceutical companies out-sourcing their drug testing to India. You may, if you wish, read it here. However, any opinion you form will either be in accordance with mine, in which case it is superfluous, or in contradiction, in which case it is wrong. Consequently, you are better off simply reading the following, and then smiling and nodding as if you were even capable of keeping up with my extraordinary intellect.

You might feel inclined, you see, to feel sympathy for these third-world guinea pigs. You might feel that we in the developed world are somehow “exploiting” them. This is, of course, utter nonsense.

Imagine, for instance, that you were dying of cancer. You would, naturally, be willing to try anything and do anything to enhance your chances of survival. How would you feel, then, to discover that you were not able to receive some revolutionary new drug that may well save your life, whilst meanwhile, some third-world slacker is getting the drug for free – perhaps even being paid to take it, just because it hasn’t been “proven safe” yet. What an entirely typical absurdity of modern life!

Now, some might say that they are assuming the risk of some short-term side-effects that may turn up in testing, that you won’t have to suffer them, but when the short-term side-effect you’re suffering is death? Not only are these third-world guinea pigs selfishly hoarding the drugs for themselves – they’re actually killing members of our society! Furthermore, the simple fact is that whilst we may be testing for short-term side-effects on the peoples of the third world, they are enjoying the benefits of seeing the long-term effects that we in the developed world suffer all the time.

For instance, by the time citizens of the third-world can afford auto-mobiles, they will benefit from crumple-zones, roll-bars, air bags, &c., &c., &c., courtesy of the thousands of first-world denizens that so valiantly wrap themselves around telegraph poles all in the furtherance of science. They never had to suffer asbestosis because we were considerate enough to ensure all the testing of asbestos was done on us. By the time they can afford mobile phones, they’ll know whether they cause brain tumours. By the time they can afford iPods they’ll know all about the risks to their hearing. By the time they get wi-fi Internet access, they’ll know whether it causes autism. By the time they get computers, they’ll know about the risks to their eyesight and have wrist-rests to prevent RSI. By the time they get electricity, they’ll know all about the dangers of electrocution and the risk of living under high-voltage power lines. And by the time they can afford food, they’ll know all about regulating fast-food advertising, increased risks of diabetes, cholesterol, heart disease, low GI, regulating to prevent obesity epidemics, &c., &c., &c…. and all because of the suffering we in the developed world are experiencing right now.

The fact of the matter is, they are actually exploiting us. They are simply standing idly by, watching our suffering, and doing nothing for their own selfish benefit. What’s worse, they don’t even bother half the time to learn from our hard-learnt lessons! After all, haven’t we spent centuries practising genocide and ethnic cleansing, holy wars and totalitarian governance, haven’t we lived centuries in societies without social security, public health-care, education, legitimate justice systems and equal rights? What an extraordinary insult it is to the suffering of our forefathers that they ignore all that we did that they might know better, just so they can go and “do their own thing”. A petty man might take umbrage at that, might get angry, even wrathful. Not I, however. No, I will continue to risk my life on a daily basis with the latest cell-phones, the most leather-upholstered air-conditioned cars, the newest cuisines and most intriguing philosophical ideas, the largest televisions and fastest computers, the sweetest cakes and the smallest mp3 players, the finest beers and softest mattresses, and countless other burdens of modern society, all in the interests of scientific inquiry, to safeguard their and their children’s lives. Because I, you see, am the better man. I only wish, one day, that they might learn to be as noble, unselfish and caring as we.

Published in: on January 26, 2008 at 11:21 am  Leave a Comment  

Dispatches from the wilds of Barbaria

(Wherein our intrepid hero exudes a raw, primal masculine energy in an extremely hairy sort of way)

Throughout history, some of the greatest minds that our species has spat violently onto the world have sat mere inches above fine, noble, dignified beards – Socrates, Leonardo Da Vinci, Abraham Lincoln, Charles Darwin, George Bernard Shaw, Lord Kelvin – this is just a smattering of those great intellects who saw fit to adorn themselves with a fine set of whiskers – and let us not forget the moustaches: Einstein, Tesla, Twain, Nietzsche – it is fair to say that enwhiskered personages have made no small contribution to civilization as we know it.

Then consider the un-bearded, the clean shaven, the childlike simps who have smooth-cheeked their way through history – Kant, Napoleon, Edison, Nixon… jerks, the lot of them! Maybe if Sartre had grown himself so much as a ‘tache, he wouldn’t have been such a downer. And yet, one rarely sees a beard these days. Worse still, when you do, in the media, the bearded person is almost always a shattered husk of a human being. If you see a man with a beard on a modern television show, you can be sure that he’s either a drunk, his marriage is failing, he’s crazy, or he’s unemployed, &c., &c., &c…. And the less said about the portrayal of bearded women in the media, the better. One cannot wonder if, were they to make a mini-series on, say, the life of Abraham Lincoln, it wouldn’t end with him divorced, drinking himself to death in a log cabin in the woods after having lost the civil war. He did have a beard, after all.

Indeed, just the other day I had some clean-shaven simpering moron yell at me as I was crossing the street, calling me “Abraham Lincoln” as though it were derogatory. What marvellous things, I wonder, must this man have done to consider being compared to the great emancipator as an insult? He must, I assume, have been driving that battered old minivan to the launch-pad of the rocket that he built single-handed to fly to the moon – in his spare time, of course, when he wasn’t busy creating peace in the middle east and ending world hunger. He must, of course, be a truly amazing man. After all, he’s mastered the complex science of shaving.

What truly disturbs me, however, is the commentary I receive from people I know – people who, I had presumed, were intelligent, rational beings (though it is, I must admit, a personal failing of mine that I tend to expect intelligence and rationality from my fellow human beings). It cannot be described as anything short of unashamed prejudice. What’s more, it is apparently considered reasonable to expect this prejudice. I was warned, before going on my latest trip, that my beard would result in frequent “random checks” by airport security personnel. I’ve also been warned that my beard would hurt my chances of getting a job, damage my romantic prospects, and just generally result in my being treated as a second-class citizen. I find it astounding that people take the growth of facial hair to be indicative of anything other than a desire to grow facial hair, and yet, I find myself the recipient of perceptions that, despite all evidence to the contrary, I am now a person of diminished intelligence, competence, and general respectability. And for what? Because I choose to comport myself in a way that some of the greatest minds in history have done? Do we truly imagine that, were I ever – in a fit of brain fever – to attempt to enter one of those smoke-choked sweat-factories filled with wannabe-epileptics that we call “nightclubs”, that the bouncer who would almost certainly squeeze some idiotic concoction of a reason for not letting me in from his pea-sized intellect knows better than Socrates? And can we really, in this modern age of “tolerance” excuse such naked prejudice? Oh, certainly, I could remove my beard with far greater ease than one could change their gender, race, or sexual preference, but does that really make the prejudice any less disgusting? And does it not disturb anyone that we haven’t had a prime-minister with a beard since 1914? The only thing that gives me cause for hope is knowing that I will, single handed, bring back the beard. Indeed, not to long after I visited New York, David Letterman and Conan O’Brien grew beards. Coincidence? Hardly!

Oh, you could tell me that there are far worse forms of discrimination going on, but really, if relativity’s your only justification, then we oughtn’t complain about anything, because no form of suffering that we’re undergoing could possibly compare to what’s going on in the Sudan at the moment. The sad fact of the matter is this: the human race is, and always will be, filled with ignorant, unthinking jerks – and no matter how hard we work to change perceptions and end discrimination, all it will ever result in is a change of the criteria of discrimination. Ultimately, I think we all know the sad truth that there is only one solution: we must kill everyone.

Except the people with beards, of course.

Published in: on January 20, 2008 at 11:31 am  Comments (1)  

Dispatches from the land of sweet linguistic irony

(Wherein our intrepid hero answers awkward, unasked questions about sexuality)

One might feel inclined these days, to feel a certain degree of fondness for the metrosexuals that adorn our city streets, imagining them to be modern-day dandies – honest-to-goodness Beau Brummels in our very midst. One might be inclined to think “ah, it is so marvellously lovely to still have an appreciation for the aesthetic so visibly on hand“. One might, of course, be inclined to think a lot of things, but on this particular point, one would be wrong. My interest is not, however, to produce some lengthy lecture on the evils of metrosexuality – I am sure, given time, the relevant religious institutions shall take care of that duty for me. However, I shall say this: unlike the dandies of yesteryear, the modern metrosexual is not, in fact, an aesthete. Certainly, they place importance on their grooming and appearance, and I can certainly understand how one might make the mistake, however, beyond their own outward appearance, metrosexuals do not aspire to the aesthetic greatness of the dandies. They do not wish to elevate themselves and their surrounds to a level of art, so much as they want to look good in a tight pair of jeans. However, I shall digress no further on this, as the point I really wish to make is entirely one of linguistic etymology.

Now, most people are probably aware (or able to guess at) the (supposed) etymology of the term “metrosexual“. It is, so our dictionaries tell us, a fusion of the words “metropolitan” and “heterosexual“, and is intended to convey the idea of a sort of person who has a thoroughly urbane sense of style. However, clever though the term may be, it seems rather misleading as, after all, metrosexuality is not really about sexuality at all. One might, of course, argue that the stylistic behaviour demonstrated by metrosexuals is generally similar to the stereotypical style of the modern homosexual, and that this connotation is implied in the term – indeed, the term does relate specifically to heterosexual males. However, given that the term is only really specific to heterosexuals because it would seem, in the popular view, superfluous to use it to describe a homosexual man, and does not specifically describe a sexual preference so much as a stylistic one, that does, I feel, seem a rather long bow to draw. Particularly when, as I shall show, there appears to be a simpler explanation which is much more closely tied to the meaning of the words.

Now to begin with, let us take the word heterosexual. This is a compound of two words – hetero, from the Greek heteros, meaning “other” or “different” and sexual, which, well, I’m sure you can figure it out. Now the next word is of course, metropolitan. Intriguingly, the politan comes from the Greek polis, which means “city” – and gives one pause for thought. After all, if meterosexual specifically refers to urbane urban males, should not the word for city – polis – be the appropriate one to use in the word? Combined with the fact that the word specifically refers to heterosexual males, shouldn’t the hetero be in the word too? Shouldn’t, really, the word be heteropolitan? Perhaps, however, our answer can be found by examining the meaning of the word-stem metro, which comes from the Greek meter, which means “mother“.


I am sure that your clever minds can now deduce the correct meaning of the word metrosexual. However, what really gives one pause for thought is this: one can imagine that this circumstance is merely an amusing linguistic accident – a morphemic Freudian slip, if you will. Certainly, the commonly understood etymology of the word (metropolitan + heterosexual) would seem to imply this is the case. And if it were the case that a more correct term could not be formed with the same rhyming cleverness, I might be inclined to agree. However, as I have demonstrated, heteropolitan really does make more sense, and would work just as well (not that, frankly, I would want to see it to enter common usage). Which brings to mind, then, the alternative that makes me wonder so: what if it was done on purpose? What if, in fact, this whole time, metrosexuals the world over have been the butt of some cunning linguist’s joke?

Wouldn’t that be simply marvellous?

Published in: on January 18, 2008 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Dispatches from the decline and fall of western grammaticisation, part two

(Wherein our intrepid hero sighs as he sees all that once was torn down by all that’s left behind)

I do hope, gentle reader, that you do not imagine me unreasonably or thoughtlessly biased against the ever-so-humble Macquarie dictionary. For whilst it is true that I hold but few motes of warmth for it in my heart, I can assure you that I approach each instance of rampant stupidity as an entirely novel event, and in a thoroughly dispassionate and scientific manner.

Thus, you can imagine my surprise and disappointment in discovering the current winning selections of the Macquarie dictionary’s “Dictionary wit” competition. Simply put, they wish for their readers to utilise their considerable intellects (sadly deluded, as they are, to the cognitive condition of their readership) to produce definitions for words in the tradition of that fine dictioneer, Dr Johnson, of whom they provide an example with which you are hopefully already acquainted:

Take, for example, his entry for oats:
A grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.
Dr Johnson did not hold a high opinion of creature comforts in Scotland.

As you can see, those fine Macquarie minds are even kind enough to elaborate on the point, for those for whom the words of Dr Johnson are impenetrably vague. The Macquarians continue:

In more modern dictionaries, Chambers is known for the odd moment of wry humour, as in the following:
eclair n. a cake, long in shape but short in duration, with cream filling and usu. chocolate icing.

Macquarie Dictionary would like to develop this tradition and invites you to submit witty definitions for inclusion. The definition must, as the Chambers definition does, satisfy the normal dictionary expectations as to explanation of meaning, but give it that little added spike of humour.

I imagine you are, at this point, protesting – how could I possibly take issue with this endeavour? It seems, in fact, precisely the sort of initiative to give the Macquarie that spark of brilliance it so desperately needs – and indeed, in principle, I agree. In practice however, I am afraid I must take issue. Observe, for instance, the winning entry for November:

able to drive a tank

Ah ha ha, how terribly droll. However – and one does so hate to be a pedant – but, how, precisely, does that “satisfy the normal dictionary expectations as to explanation of meaning”? Humour being so terribly subjective, I shall leave it to your own good selves, gentle readers, to decide whether or not it has “that little added spike of humour“.

However, let us not be too hasty in our judgements, November is, after all, traditionally a slow month for witticisms, and it is unreasonable for us to expect the minds of these great epigrammatists to be on fire all the time (a wish that we might, however, reasonably hold for the dictionary). Let us turn our attention, then, to the latest winning entry, where no doubt we shall find that this unfortunate definition was just a one-off. Therefore, the winning definition for December:

Mr Robert Myers
subordinate clause
Santa’s helper

Oh dear*.

*an expression, chiefly to be found of use in face of distressing circumstances – and also the Macquarie.

Published in: on January 17, 2008 at 10:07 am  Comments (3)  

Dispatches from the decline and fall of western grammaticisation*

(Wherein our intrepid hero longs for the weighty tome that is the O.E.D. – that he might cudgel a few people with it)

The fine and proud institution that is the Macquarie Dictionary is holding an online poll to determine the word of the year, out of what are, apparently, their latest additions. Amongst the sterling selections you will find “arse antlers” – because apparently “tramp stamp” simply doesn’t cut it, “germ phobia“, because apparently “Mysophobia” simply isn’t accurate enough, and “globesity” – whose definition seems to run counter to the word itself. Then there are the splendid suggestions of “Read dating” – a fad which I am sure will last sufficiently long to merit permanent canonisation in our lexicon, and “Helengrad” – a New Zealand colloquialism relating specifically to their current government, and therefore definitely worth immortalisation.

However, as irritatingly stupid as these “words” are, they are not the worst. No, that honour goes to the word “Couply” – adjective Colloquial 1. suited to a couple: a couply movie. 2. indicative of an established couple: matching clothes are so couply.

To begin with, this word clearly takes the adverbial form, despite [not-quite-so] clearly being an adjective. Of course, in defence of the Macquarie, the English language is most definitely in dire need of more irregular words. Secondly, it is a word that is entirely superfluous. Consider the two proffered usages: the first, “a couply movie” is easily satisfied simply by using the possessive form of “couple” – e.g. “a couple’s movie“. Certainly, there is precedent for this form of usage, such as “a chick’s flick” and “a lad’s mag“. Admittedly, it is usually abbreviated to “chick flick“, but that is most certainly as a function of rhyme, as opposed to “couply”, which is most certainly as a function of rampant stupidity. In the second example, the implication is quite simply entirely off. Matching clothes are not “couply”. They are creepy. See also: weird, sad, distressing, disturbing, awkward, and indicative of serial-killer potential.

I am reminded of an anecdote, related to me by my close friend Jordan, of an incident in an Australian court of law. An issue relating to the definition of a word came up, and eventually the Judge directed one of the junior associates to fetch a dictionary, in order to end the dispute. As the lackey headed for the door, the Judge called him back, instructing him: “Not the Macquarie.”

I am well aware that language evolves over time, and that not everyone will like all the changes. However, that does not mean that those in charge of overseeing and regulating the evolution of our language need to give in to every idiotic whim of the idle minds of the public. In this particular evolutionary path, I am more than happy to welcome a little intelligent design. Indeed, I do, in my own small way, hope to harness this power for change by resurrecting common usage of the 2nd person singular pronoun, “thou”. It is, after all, the appropriate singular form, and was only discarded in the Victorian era out of politeness. Which goes to show, I think, just how stupid Victorian era etiquette was. However, whilst I realise that one might feel, at least at first, a little stupidly self-conscious and “old-timey” using thou, one must remember that it worked perfectly well for Shakespeare, and the alternative is to accept that eventually, Macquarie will add “youse” to their dictionary.

Assuming, that is, the editors can still remember how to spell.

*See Macquarie, I can do it too, only better.

Published in: on January 14, 2008 at 11:40 am  Comments (1)  

Dispatches from the wilds of (Oxy)Moronia

(Wherein our intrepid hero is confounded by absurd telemarketing)

Just a short anecdote, my doves, on a recent occurrence:  I received a phone call, whilst going about my day-to-day business, from a charming young chap interested in assisting my beloved employer in lowering his overheads, with regard to mobile phone costs. The premise of the offer was simple: this company (something-or-other-Tel) purchases telephonic services from Telstra at wholesale rates, which they then on-sell at “wholesale” rates. The part of this complicated financial arrangement with which we are most interested, however, is the summarised description of the service provided, which my good friend Shane (which may well have been his name) presented to me:

“We…” he explained in that semi-excited, quasi-enthusiastic tone common to telemarketers with breathtaking offers to share “…cut out the middle-man.

It was at this point that I hung up.

To recap: Shane (for I am fairly certain that this was probably his name – I’m pretty sure it started with an “S” and had an “e” in it, and I don’t think it was “Steve”)  is offering to purchase wholesale phone access from our current phone provider, and then on-sell it to us. By thus inserting Shane into our telephonic billing cycle, we shall, Shane assures me, cut out the middle man.

Published in: on December 4, 2007 at 4:28 pm  Leave a Comment