Rant of the Day - By no means updated daily

Spam Headlines

Posted on 24 August, 2008 by Maximinus
According to bogus headlines in this week's spam, Britney Spears, whose latest rants were caught on tape, and who says she "was like a nymphomaniac with NO rubbers," is simultaneously dating Obama, Princess Di's butler and, even though she's only in training to become a lesbian, an unknown girl - but is wanted (sexually) by Tom Cruise, who may be in with a chance, as she is to be sold on Ebay - was shaken, but unhurt, by a failed suicide bomber attack.  She also admitted that her vagina, which attacked a warder and escaped rehab, was taken to hospital (though was uninjured) after a car crash - and made her shave her head bald (although Justin Timberlake is claiming that she did it for him).  She has also blown her nose on a designer dress, admitted to being the father of Anna Nicole Smith's baby and flashed her "huge gross nipples."  A North Dakota man couldn't care less about her, despite the fact that she gave the foreskin museum an "amazing" gift, founded a charity to help the homeless (as part of her community service sentence), and that she has Alzheimer's.  After all this, paparazzi have accused Britney of going too far - however humanity has breathed a sigh of relief, as she has left the planet, after the world's muslims rejected her conversion to Islam.

Meanwhile, Paris Hilton (who Britney Spears says makes her feel horny) has had her vagina insured, after being crowned Miss Vagina 2008.  She has also shown her pussy again, possibly when she gave birth to twin aliens.  She has also lectured on Dickens and Dostoevsky, and is set to operate the Large Hadron Collider, after having started it up.  She's also been busy on the sexual front, having had "steamy sex" with Britney Spears, been violated by gypsies and had sex with aliens.  Although her bust has gone missing and she's rumoured to be going for a sex change, she's preparing to become a nun, and will also start charging for her pussy.  She's also been declared a national historic landmark, and admitted on Larry King that she sold her soul to the devil.  Perhaps as a result of her "crack-in-arse" scandal, Ann Coulter has called for her to be sent to Guantanamo Bay.  Unlike Britney Spears, Paris Hilton is not being sold on ebay - although her "prison sweat" is up for grabs on the popular auction site.

Wow, I never realised those two were so busy...
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Global warming, you say?

Posted on Saturday 16th of February 2008 04:22:47 PM by Maximinus
I'm sitting here inside, with all the windows and doors closed, wearing a long-sleeve tee and a thick, warm jacket.  It's mid-Februrary - the height of summer.  Could I perhaps be in Antarctica, you wonder?  No - I'm in Christchurch, New Zealand.

We should be experiencing temperatures in the low-to-mid 30s (celcius), or high 20s at least.  But, alas, today it hasn't gone above 12.  It's been raining for at least 24 hours straight.  It may have even snowed on the Port Hills.

They call this "global warming," do they?  At this rate, the next ice age must me due... ooh, about Tuesday?
Currently feeling: A bit chilly
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Idiotic Redundancy Department

Posted on Friday 11th of May 2007 06:58:29 PM by Maximinus
Last week, I decided to check and see if the IRD owed me a tax rebate this year.  I discovered that I needed to know how much PAYE tax I'd paid over the year, so I was about to order a summary of earnings to find out, when a link caught my eye - it offered the opportunity to check your account details online.

I clicked on the link, signed up for the online access... and got given a message saying that they'd snail-mail me a first-time password, and that it would arrive within 10 working days.  It also claimed that this is why it asked at the start that they had your current address - which it didn't ask at all.

Realising that this was the same lead time as requesting a summary of earnings, I decided to use their "Request a summary of earnings - temporary address change" form to get a summary of earnings sent to me at the flat, so I wouldn't need to go out to my father's house just to get the password, and could pick it up at a later date.

Today, I received a letter from the IRD, stating that they "cannot issue the summary of earnings based on this request" because "the details you have provided differ to those that we hold."  It's even been hand-signed!  This letter just leaves me wondering how anybody is supposed to use the "temporary address change" form - although, granted, it does mention something about using it if you want to receive the summary instead of having it sent to your tax agent - but I don't have a tax agent, so I assumed that it could be used to send it to a different address for me.  It asks for "the address you want your summary of earnings sent to" - no mention of it having to be on file.  If if you can't specify an address that they don't have on file, why bother asking for your address?
Currently feeling: Knackered and brassed off
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Consonant Examinations

Posted on Sunday 12th of November 2006 10:33:28 PM by Maximinus
As you've quite possibly heard, NZQA, that same bunch of idiots who remarked an exam paper for free (worth $50 or so) and took over 6 months to correct a minor error in my results, amongst other things, have recently approved so-called "txt spk" for use in NCEA exams (excluding ones where English skills are deemed important, such as English exams).  That's right - you can now gain your secondary school qualifications in New Zealand without using any vowels. (Okay, so you'd still have to in English - but you only need that at Level 1.)

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: New Zealand only ever seems to make it into the international spotlight for stupidity.  This is no exception, with even the exceptional Illiad of UserFriendly having a go at it.

The way I see it, about the only way this whole farce could have eventuated is a conversation amongst NZQA cronies along these lines:
Head Honcho: "Students's exam grades are falling.  What can we do to raise exam marks?"
Cronie 1: "It seems to me that marks are falling partially because their English skills are so appaling."
Cronie 2: "I've got it - allow the horrible, senseless butchering of the language known as 'txt spk' and general poor English to be used in exams!  That way it won't get in the way of the marks!"
Head Honcho: "BRAVO! Let's do it!"

Anyway, as I'm sure you can figure out for yourself, this whole thing is a step in the wrong direction.  If the level of language skills is falling amongst secondary school students, teach them better.  Don't make the crap they spurt out in lieu of real English acceptable; that only encourages the decline of the English language.
Currently listening to: Calculating - The Klein Four
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Referential Integrity

Posted on Sunday 22nd of October 2006 03:35:26 PM by Maximinus
No, this isn't a database-related rant.  It's about an essay I've got to write for part of an online paper in my degree course.

In particular, it's about referencing.  Part of the assignment sheet states that we must cite at least 3 examples from the class discussion boards.  That's going to be hard enough, finding three posts (other than my own, since I'm guessing that's not allowed) worth citing - partially because of the lack of existence, and partially because it's only possible to view one message at a time - not even an entire thread.

To make matters worse, however, we've got to follow proper APA-style referencing.  Not sure how to go about referencing postings to the class discussion board, I took a look at the official CPIT APA referencing guide.  This guide first states that "at best," discussion board postings can be cited in-text as "personal commumication" only - then goes on to say that it can be referenced, and provides an example of the format to follow!  So do I reference in-text only as "personal communication," as a "normal" reference using the format provided in my reference list, or as a "personal communication" AND in the reference list?

It'd be nice if they could be consistent, and if we'd been told whether the postings should be cited as "personal communication" or "real" sources.
(Yes, that's where the title comes from - consistency and integrity of references.  See?  Nothing database-related.)

I later found a mention in the assignment sheet that we were to reference them "in the same was as content downloaded from the web" - thus providing a third alternative.  Since it was actually on the assignment sheet, though, I went with this one.
Currently feeling: Baffled
Currently listening to: Betty Curse - Beautiful Together
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The Physics of Littering

Posted on Wednesday 18th of October 2006 08:40:56 PM by Maximinus
This afternoon, on the bus on the way home, two school girls sat in front of me, drinking some kind of drink from plastic cups (despite the fact that there's a big "No eating, drinking or smoking" sign at the front of the bus).

When one of them finished, she made a couple of hesitant attempts at throwing the cup out the window besider her.  She never actually let go of it; it was clear to me that she was a first-time offender, and didn't know how to actually go about getting these cups out of the small windows.  Her friend then encouraged her and helped her attempt to get it out the window.  Due to the speed at which the bus was moving, the position of the cup, the amount of effort expended and when it was released, this caused the cup to fly backwards - remaining in the bus - and hit me.  It then fell to the floor.

The girl whose cup it was seemed embarrassed and apologised.  I thought maybe she had realised that it might be better to just hold on to it and dispose of it properly once she got to wherever she was headed, so I picked it up and handed it back to her.  But had she actually learnt anything?  No.  She had a second attempt - evidently not having worked out a better method of ejection.  As you can probably guess, the result was similar to the first attempt, with the cup once again flying back and hitting me.  This time, I handed it back, smiling and saying "Perhaps you should just hold on to it?" - to which she gave an affirmative response.

This time, she actually held on to it - no more attempts at ejection from a moving vehicle.  I guess she doesn't have enough working knowledge of physics to be an effective bus-ejection litterbug.

When I was disembarking from the bus, I did notice that the friend appeared to have wedged her cup between two seats - alas, she hadn't learnt not to litter at all; but at least she had learnt to litter in a slightly less unacceptable, less dangerous manner.  I believe the original offender may have actually taken her cup with her - so perhaps she did indeed learn the lesson somewhat better than her friend.

If you're going to do something, do it right.  If your first attempt happens to fail, and it does so somewhat catastrophically, either reconsider the entire thing, or at least put some thought into why it went wrong and how you can make it go correctly.  I'm not saying you should litter if you can; what I am saying is that if you really must litter, at least do it properly.  Learn your physics before attempting to eject light objects with large surface areas from inside fast moving vehicles, for example.
Currently reading: Impossibility - The Limits of Science and the Science of Limits
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Café de Change?

Posted on Tuesday 26th of September 2006 11:40:16 PM by Maximinus
Money exchange to the left of me,
Starbucks to the right;
Here I am stuck in the middle with you...

What's this, you ask?  Am I moonlighting as a (plagiaristic) songwriter and/or singer?  No, not at all.  I'm merely commenting on a strange phenomemon which I've observed of late.

I'm sure everyone's heard the addage "there's a Starbucks on every corner" - it started in America, but it's spread here - it certainly is difficult to find an area without a Starbucks in the central city.  After walking around town a fair bit recently, I've come to the conclusion that money exchanges are the new Starbucks.  There appear to be two or three varieties, but there's at least one anywhere you look - they seem to have an even stronger hold on central Christchurch than Starbucks.  Why?  Do the tourists really need to change money between every two other shops?  Surely not, since I've barely ever seen anybody actually in any of these exchanges, other than the staff.

So, I'll leave you with that one question - why?
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What a load of BS

Posted on Friday 23rd of June 2006 12:02:39 PM by Maximinus
Lately, notices identical to the one shown at left have been springing up on buses.

What's wrong with that, you ask?  A lot.  Just look at the upper portion, where they've made a paltry attempt at using "txt-spk" (see this post for more on this abomination) to try to communicate information to young people.

Firstly, this is an insult to those who don't butcher their language in such a horrid way, as it makes it seem that all young people understand and use such "language" - which is far from true.

Next, they haven't even got it right - I know this only because I have received communications written in "txt-spk" - as for one thing, there shouldn't be any apostrophes used.

My opinion is that notices such as these should be written in English; if anyone affected by what it has to say can't read it, but would be able to decipher the top portion of the sign at left, it's their own stupid fault that their MetroCard will be terminated (in this case).
Currently listening to: Nirvana - Come As You Are
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Mixed Bag

Posted on Monday 22nd of May 2006 09:31:47 PM by Maximinus
Well, since I haven't ranted for a while now, this one's going to be a bit of a mixed bag - sort of like a couple of smaller rants packed into one bigger one.

Firstly, there's a teaching practice that one of my tutors uses, which I find particularly stupid and annoying.  He asks the class a question, usually one to which he hasn't taught an answer, and stands there looking around the room until somebody answers.  He does seem to have a timeout after which he'll reluctantly move on and actually teach it; however it's a pointless waste of time to just sit there and wait.  Because I'd rather not sit around for who knows how long, just waiting for him to teach the class, I end up answering all his questions.  This means that he seems to think that I know my stuff, which is probably a good thing, as I do know most of what he is teaching already, and it means he hopefully won't be too scrupulous in marking my work.  It's also a bad thing, though, as it means that if I don't answer a question, and instead wait for him to time out, he might assume that I don't know the answer, which might start to negate this effect.

Next, and I know Lex has already covered this, there's the masses of invitations to stupid websites that I'm not at all likely to be interested in.  Why do people subject all the people they regard as friends to hordes of spammy messages saying "such and such has invited you to join Random Crappy Site X" - even when they know the person won't be interested?  All it does is waste both parties' time.  I've even had experiences with such crappy sites not even giving up after one spam, but sending out another one a few days later, because you haven't joined... and then another... and another... and another.  Please, people - don't invite me to any more crappy sites.  If you think that I might *actually* be interested in something, ask me before you give my email address to the spambot on the site.  And before you start saying it's not spam - yes, it is.  It is unsolicited email - which is the very definition of spam.

There's oh so much more I could go on about, but I think that's about enough for now.
Until next time!
Currently feeling: Bored
Currently listening to: Ash
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Posted on Monday 10th of April 2006 08:51:41 PM by Maximinus
So, let's see how many different courier / freight companies I can warp the name of at once, eh?

Seriously, I've ordered stuff from ThinkGeek before, and always chosen UPS as the delivery method - it's more expensive, but I always figured it must be worth the extra.  Not so, it would seem.  Both times, it's taken a while to get here, and the first time it got held up in customs for ages.  This time, I chose DHL - because it was the cheaper option.  72 hours after it was shipped from ThinkGeek, it had travelled almost right across the USA, then into Auckland, gone through Customs and gotten to Christchurch - and been delivered.  That's over a weekend, too.  Bloody impressive.

Also, I've heard horror stories involving UPS - including a guy who ordered a graphics card, which was sent via UPS.  The box was plastered with 'FRAGILE' stickers etc, and yet they managed to run it over with a forklift.  They still delivered it, despite the fact that it was completely flattened in the middle, and smashed into many little pieces.

So, all I have to say is, Up UPS.  DHL FTW!
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Posted on Wednesday 5th of April 2006 08:05:54 PM by Maximinus
One of my tutors seems to be especially good at being a right royal pain in the backside.

Firstly, he put us into random groups (at least he didn't make us do a personality test and then sort us into groups which are least likely to work - which he has been known to do) and told us to watch a set of videos from the library, and that we would then have to write a report in groups.  He didn't tell us what the report was actually to be on; however he did say that we need to use references other than just the tapes.
He then told us to hand in an outline of our proposed report - and to not start writing it until that was signed off.  This was several weeks after telling us to watch the videos.  He collected them in, waited a further week or two, and then announced that we were to have group meetings with him again yesterday.  The first set of group meetings wasn't too bad - he set times for each group so we knew when to be there.  But no such luck this time around - he simply said they would be during class time.  So, I left work as per usual to get back to 'tech in time for the start of class - only to find out upon arrival that just as I was packing up to leave for work, the tutor sent an email saying that class would start half an hour late.  Once he finally arrived and started the meetings, which he said would take about 3-4 minutes per group, we thought it'd all be over with fairly quickly - but not so.  The group before mine, for example, was in the meeting with him for over 20 minutes.  We got in there, he basically said "Sure, your proposal is fine," signed it off, and gave us a sheet telling us what to hand in.

The previous day, I had been sitting in his lecture, and had put my head down on my arm on the desk - still facing the front and paying attention (and I tend to remember things better if my eyes are closed anyway - no visual distractions) - and he yelled at me to leave the room.  Had it not been so close to the end of the lecture anyway, I would have taken it up with him on the spot - instead I just left as he instructed, not wanting to cause more of a disruption to the class than he had just done.  I have decided that should he attempt to send me out of class for it again, I am simply going to ignore him and stay how and where I am - what can he do about it, really?  Continue to disrupt the class?  Or try to forcibly remove me from the room, and risk assault charges?  If he wishes to discuss it after class, I shall simply inform him that I learn best when there is no source of visual distraction, and that if he checked, he would see that whenever he is drawing diagrams or examples on the board, I have my eyes open and am watching.
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Bike Beats Bus

Posted on Saturday 11th of March 2006 06:13:39 PM by Maximinus
Today I determined that despite the dangers of biking (being knocked off your bike by old women driving too fast, being hit by flying milkshakes tossed from speeding cars, etc), it is much more efficient than catching the bus.

Bus from work <-> Polytech: 30~45 mins, depending on when a bus so happens to come by (includes ~10 min walk between work and bus stop)
Bike from work <-> Polytech: 10-15 mins

Bus from Polytech <-> home: 40 mins~1 hr
Bike from Polytech <-> home: 30-40 mins

Bus from work <-> home: 50 mins <-> 1 hr 30, depending on number of busses, and when they come by
Bike from work <-> home: 30 mins

So much for public transport.
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Bus-Stop Smokers

Posted on Wednesday 8th of March 2006 07:50:35 PM by Maximinus
Yesterday was a particularly bad day in the way of bus-stop smokers for me.

Firstly, I was waiting for a bus from CPIT to work - standing in the bus shelter, and along comes a man, smoking like a chimney, and takes a seat right by me, and continues to smoke, making no effort to keep his smoke away from me.  I moved out of the shelter to escape his smoke, and although he noticed me do so, he made no apology for his lack of effort - not even acknowledging it.

Next, on the way back from work to CPIT for my afternoon classes, there was a Pacific Island woman with three young children, who arrived at the bus shelter shortly after I did.  She sat down, and encouraged her children to do the same - except the youngest, which she asked to stand in front of her so she could access the child's backpack.  Out of the backpack she pulled a pack of tobbacco, some papers and a filter - and proceeded to roll herself a ciggie.  She then, with her children all sitting close around her, proceeded to light up - making no effort to keep the smoke from her children (or me).  Has this woman never seen one of those ads on TV, advising smokers to 'take it outside?'  Sure, she was outside - but still in a relatively confined space, and with her young children in very close proximity.  It was fairly evident that she doesn't 'take it outside' anyway, as her youngest child proceeded to demonstrate by having a small coughing fit.  It is worthy of note that this child could not have been more than 3-4 years old.

I was then confronted with another bus-stop smoker when waiting for a bus home from CPIT - this time outside Hoyts 8/Science Alive.  This one wasn't so bad, though - although that was probably mostly because they were downwind from me, so the smoke was blowing away from me.

The woman mentioned in the second incident above was by far the worst offender; not only being inconsiderate to me, but damaging her children's health and increasing the likelihood of them becoming smokers as they get older as well.  It's people like her who really need to stop and think before they light up.  Pay attention to the ads, people!  Take it outside - for the good of all of us.
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NZ-Only Advertising

Posted on Friday 3rd of March 2006 06:37:04 PM by Maximinus
Ok, so it's not a rant.  Just spotted this ad in a story on The Reg - seems it was only used in New Zealand; how come I never saw it?

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Confounding Countrymen

Posted on Saturday 4th of February 2006 01:59:25 PM by Maximinus
What puzzles me is how nearly all overseas news stories involving New Zealand are about its people - doing preposterously absurd, worrying or disturbing things:


To name but a few.

Why is there never any 'good news' from New Zealand making international headlines?
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