Posts by Nat Torkington

  • Southerly: My Life As a Palm Tree,


    (this is how we say "thank you, you wonderful man" on the Internet)

    Ti Point • Since Nov 2006 • 100 posts Report

  • Field Theory: Rugby World Cup stories,

    It may be a little too soon to call The RWC Experience of 2011, but ... on Saturday night Ms 9 had a massive fever, coughing like a maniac, and all the symptoms of The Plague That Ravaged Warkworth. So much for popping off to someone else's house, someone with a TV, to watch the Kiwis play France. But, some improvised aerial wiring later, we're watching free-to-air Maori TV on the tiny gogglebox that my grandpa put onto the bedroom ceiling when my grandma was dying from brain cancer. The whole family piled into our bed, we soaked up the commentary, the rugby caused Ms 9's cough to stop for the whole game, and a loving family night was had by all. The only thing better than watching NZ's young pups do good at Eden Park is doing so while cuddled up to my own young pup.

    Ti Point • Since Nov 2006 • 100 posts Report

  • The best the Net can be,

    Notable: Metafilter intervention in human trafficking: a guy said "hey, my friend from Russia has been jerked around by the company that was to get her a job and I think she's being lured up for a life of stripping and prostitution in New York", or words to that effect, and this online community leapt into action.

    On a smaller local scale, Facebook gave a win recently for us. A young teen friend posted that she was going to hang out with her new "friend", who turned out to be decades older. She denied it was creepy and that her parents needed to know. A back-and-forth happened on my wife's Facebook page, with all my wife's female friends chiming in and saying "nope, definitely creepy" and finally the teen was convinced to go talk to her parents about it. It's not earth-shattering, but it's a humble counter-example to the "MURDERER FOUND VICTIM ON FACEBOOK" unhappy endings that are easier to find.

    These happy endings occur every day; they're just not in my orbit or in such public spaces as Metafilter. We hear a lot about how the Internet is making us stupid and evil, but in truth the Internet helps human beings to be human. It's not just helping bad people be bad, it also helps good people to be good.

    And that's something I'm sure Paul would have agreed with.

    Ti Point • Since Nov 2006 • 100 posts Report

  • OnPoint: Google to Embargo China,

    The thing I don't get is what Google want to see happen. It's obvious that this statement isn't an end in itself: it's a step along a road. What's their ideal destination? Is it the ability to work in China uncensored? Is it some other negotiation? I'm not asking what the direct precedents of this action are ("they were losing money, so they're pulling out" doesn't cut it as an explanation) but rather the wide-angle view that shows me where this action leads ("(1) go public against China; (3) win!").

    Ti Point • Since Nov 2006 • 100 posts Report

  • Up Front: Same as it Ever Was,

    Amy Gale wrote:

    - So, yeah, the cats were fine, everything was good, and I smoked your stash.
    - My stash?
    - Uh huh, I found your stash, and I invited people round, and we smoked it.
    - My...stash?
    - In the freezer.
    - ... you smoked the catnip?

    Of all the stories you could tell, thank you for choosing that one. My apologies for being late with the most recent payment, but I have left the money in your office (small unmarked bills, as you requested) and I give you my word that there will be no more delays in the future.

    Ti Point • Since Nov 2006 • 100 posts Report

  • Up Front: Same as it Ever Was,

    rogerd wrote:

    Modesty forbids me from saying anything other than to ask Nat Torkington about the time he walked into my house, demanded to know "How many goats did you have to sacrifice to make this happen?", and then wrote the evening up for Usenet consumption.

    I still dine out on that. But I'm ashamed to admit that it's not bathtubs I think of when I see your name, it's the paper bag ...

    I'm disappointed that my Usenet post doesn't seem to have survived the 15 years. I guess rushing off to post to Usenet was the early 90s "I'm blogging this". Which in turn was the early 2000s "I"m Tweeting this".

    Ti Point • Since Nov 2006 • 100 posts Report

  • Southerly: Letter from a Beautiful…,

    I can't prove it mathematically, but I'm sure that events like this generate negative entropy. I suspect there must be systems somewhere (possibly comprising Italians dropping ice-cubes into hot coffee) producing extra entropy so that dS(universe) > 0.

    I think of novelists as literary versions of Maxwell's Demon, flipping the gate open and closed so that all the happy stories go into one bucket and the sad ones into another. The Second Law of Dynarratives is apparently broken ("when happy and sad people mix, they average out to a dull whine").

    Of course, later researchers pointed out that this claim only works if you don't consider the demon to be part of the system. Once you realise that good novelists tend to have lives of misery and torment (whether through mental illness, substance abuse, or small children) then you realise that the Second Law remains unbroken and you wander off to the wine rack looking for a perky red to go with the new Ben Winters novel ...


    Ti Point • Since Nov 2006 • 100 posts Report

  • Island Life: On the waterfront,

    Love it. Membrane structures FTW! Wifey (aka "The Little Woman" aka "if you call me Wifey or The Little Woman again, I'll kick your fuckin head in") was a grad school designing inflatable (MEMBRANE) habitats for the Moon and Mars before I knocked her up, whacked her on the back of the head, and dragged her back to my cave^W^W New Zealand. She'd get amazing industrial membrane magazines, full of these gorgeous designs from architects around the world.

    +1 for membranes on the waterfront. But don't call it a "verandah". People will think it's a place for grandmas to drink tea and watch the sparrows. Call it an "all-weather entertainment space" or "multifunction all-seasons venue" or some other such piece of wank.

    Ti Point • Since Nov 2006 • 100 posts Report

  • Busytown: Rocky Mountain hi!,

    I lived in Fort Collins, CO for ten years. Yes, altitude makes a difference to cooking times--many recipes feature alternate cooking times for elevated readers. It's precisely because lower temperatures are needed to make water boil at the lower pressures that come with altitude.

    Aspen's purty, but all of Colorado's mountains are like that. Try Steamboat Springs and Estes Park (home of the hotel that was where Stephen King set The Shining) for more affordable beautiful outdoors. I say "more affordable" but not "affordable" because they're still more wallet pain than I could justify.

    We're heading back to Fort Collins at the end of the month to visit friends and family. Thanks for stoking the fires of anticipation!

    Ti Point • Since Nov 2006 • 100 posts Report

  • Hard News: Rodney's Folly,

    @Rickai: if you're an Oxfordian, yes:

    1 The practice or principle (in early use chiefly associated with the Swiss constitution) of submitting a question at issue to the whole body of voters. [ In terms of its Latin origin, referendums is logically preferable as a modern plural form meaning ballots on one issue (as a Latin gerund referendum has no plural); the Latin plural gerundive referenda, meaning `things to be referred', necessarily connotes a plurality of issues. Those who prefer the form referenda are presumably using words like agenda and memoranda as models. Usage varies at the present time (1981), but The Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors (1981) recommends referendums, and this form seems likely to prevail. ]

    However, Mirriam-Webster has no such distinction between the two possible plural forms.

    And between you and me, and I think you really enjoy being a pedant. I know I do :-)

    Ti Point • Since Nov 2006 • 100 posts Report

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